Trying to catch up, when you are doing too much

My to do list has been getting out of control! I am barely crossing one thing off my list and write down two or three more. I have tried to brain dump and just get overloaded with what is in front of me. I have so much that I just want to get done but can’t seem to figure out what my first step needs to be.

Ok, take a breath and back away from the pen and paper. Stop and think, what can I do RIGHT now. The bags can be packed for tomorrow, pick out the outfits for the boys and set the coffee up. Great! I am feeling better already. Ok, now what can I get done, recycling, done!

Getting things off your list can be as simple as that but we all know these are not the only things that need to be done. There are so many things running through your head, I know I am there with you. Getting these simple tasks done and out of the way helps me create the brain space I need to work on the bigger items without (ok, with less) distraction.

I have found that if I can stop worrying about the little things like the dirty dishes all over my kitchen. The dishwasher was full and running so we were not able to load the dishes as we finished dinner like we usually do, so yes this is on my mind right now. Keeping order where I can helps me remain focused and less stressed.

So how do you find order when there is just so much chaos? I did the quick things that I could check off my list, then moved to the next thing that I could just do, but what happens when you have now spent your only 20 minutes available on cleaning the dishes up because it was the low hanging fruit and you don’t have time to clip the coupons before you head to the store.

Sometimes just checking things off your list makes it more difficult to complete the important things. When you just focus on what the next thing is, you lose track of the priorities. Although I am feeling overwhelmed with all the things on my list, my priorities are the same, I am simply adding too many things to do, that probably can wait.

I have been working on redoing my priorities list so that I can focus better on the must dos and start to let things go a bit. What are the MOST important things in my life right now that require my attention – I need these to practically smack me in the face every day right now so that I make sure to build the rest of my day to be purposeful for these things.

I am working on making sure that my daily goals and to-dos are focused around the big picture I am working to paint. This reorganization will help me let go of all those little things. Lets face it, making sure that the cupboard doors are all closed is not really going to help me write my blog posts any better, even though I would like to think it would.

Are you focusing too much on the little things and losing the time you need to be do actually working on the important things? How can you refocus yourself to let the little things go?

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A De-cluttering Breakthrough, Finally!

The basement clutter was looming, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I put it up here to make sure I followed through and it haunted me.

I had cleaned up a few things here and there, but not much. Every day I went down to grab something for lunches or dinner, every time I switched the laundry around. It was staring back at me, taunting. I finally thought I was at my breaking point in trying to get to it.

I never get time in the house to myself where I can spend an hour or two to work through all of it. I couldn’t work during the kids naps because it would make too much noise. I made up my mind on Friday that I was going to skip the festival over the weekend that we go to every year. I plastered my “I am saying No” all over the internet and to everyone so that I would just get this done.

I hated making this decision just to clean up, but it had to happen. I talked it over with my husband and I was going to stay home while he took the boys to the festival so I could have the house to myself. How could I feel so excited, and disappointed at the same time. I felt like a failure for having to resort to skipping out of family time so that I could clean.

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It was pretty bad, this was months and months of build up. Every time we were done with some of the baby stuff, toys or anything that just needed to be given a home it went to this room in the basement. I have cleaned it up a few times over the last year, but only one part at a time and I always kept too much. I needed to be ruthless and just do it all in one day.

Saturday morning came, I went and did the grocery shopping in the early morning like I always do, came home and was trying to get a mental list of what I was going to do. I couldn’t get my head away from what I was going to be missing later in the afternoon when everyone else was going to head out to the festival.

I made a bargain with my self to try to get everything. I  went downstairs right after breakfast and got right to work. If I was able to get enough done then I would reconsider going to the festival.

I just stared at the disaster in front of me and could not figure out where to start. There was just STUFF EVERYWHERE, my brain shut down. In retrospect this is probably why I never really accomplished cleaning this are before. Since it was a combination of so many different things there were so many decisions that needed to be made.

I took a deep breath and realized I had already pulled out all of the old containers I had saved for a someday project. I had set them to the side to recycle so I grabbed those bins and took them to the recycling. Once in the garage I cleaned up a small bit of things so I could take pictures of the items I wanted to post online to sell. I reorganized a little and felt a ping of energy to get this done!

Back in the basement I just started to move, making quick decisions on things I knew. I packed up the baby stuff we were storing away and got those into the storage part of the basement. Then I moved some items to get to what I call the Gift box, a box full of the little items, I pick up here and there that  I use a gifts. I cleaned that up, and put in a better plan to not be buried. Then tacked the book shelves, removing the coffee cups we kept as overflow that are no longer needed (off to be sold) and just like that I was flying through some of these decisions.

I had a pile of things that truly belonged upstairs or needed to be reviewed my more than just me, a pile of things to put in the next garage sale, more recyclable and trash.

Honestly in less than an hour I had made a huge dent. There was still more to be done but I felt accomplished. I needed to take a break because with all the noise being made (I kept sneezing from the dust) the boys knew I was down there and kept calling for me. I took up the load of laundry that was dry (yup I was even getting the laundry done at the same time) and spent a bit of time with everyone. My husband was astonished by how different the room looked with the small amount of time I had actually spent on it.

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It was a good time to take a break so the little one could take a nap. While we worked on getting him down for a bit I played with my 3-year-old. We read some of the books I brought upstairs and enjoyed a bit of quiet time as well. unfortunately the little one did not take too much of a nap but we had fun playing around for a bit. Just before lunch time we decided to get ready to go.

After a quick shower I was getting ready but still feeling the urge to clean more. My bedroom is another sanctuary for the miscellaneous items in need of a home (my dresser especially). This is another room I wanted to work on in my time alone, but now feeling the need to go to the festival and not miss out on the memories with my family I had to let it go. Instead as I got dressed I took a hard look at some of my clothes in the closet.

I had just gone through the clothing recently and cleaned out quite a bit, but I still felt like there was more to do. I started to just pull things off the hanger and stared at it. If I didn’t see myself actually able to wear it in the next 6 months on the bed it was thrown. I was surprising myself with the quick decisions I was making. Some of the clothes that were once my favorites I was finally able to let them go.

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I was able to get all of my shirts back in order and found so much more room!

After all of that I was able to go and enjoy the family time at the festival. I know there is a lot more to get through in the basement and in my bedroom but being able to get it done without kicking everyone else out was a huge accomplishment for me.

Prepping for Zero

Have you ever thought about closing up your wallet and just stop spending?

I have thought about this quite a bit recently. I have felt like I needed to really stop and figure out where our funds were being used. Clearly I still need to pay the bills, but how much do I spend that I don’t have to?

Just as I was contemplating what I could do to reduce some of our spending, I saw that Ruth Soukup at LivingWellSpendingLess.com is running a 31 Days of Living Well Spending Zero month in October. I immediately signed up.

I received the preparation document on how to get ready. One of the items is to not stock up on anything which sort of goes against my normal thought process but the point of this exercise is not to transfer the spending from another month, it is to spend less! I thought about this and also thought that it makes sense to me so I’m going to try it.

One area I really want to concentrate on, is food. Not just the food we splurge on for lunch or a quick bite here and there but general grocery shopping.

As a part of my preparation I am trying more to bring lunch with me to work. My office is very lucky to have a cafeteria on site where I can purchase very reasonably priced food for lunch. I have been purchasing sandwiches through there almost daily as it seemed to be reasonable enough to make sense. Now as a part of my preparation I am working on lessening that and finding other ways to bring my lunch.

I have always struggled with bringing lunch to school or work. I am not big on sandwiches that sit in my lunchbox for hours getting soggy andleftovers have been a struggle for several reasons, they sometimes are a little boring (after all I did just eat it the night before), or I haven’t made enough to actually make it for lunch the next day.

My plan is to develop a meal plan that is more flavorful and break away from the same meals we always make. I have wanted to get into meal planning for a while now and see this as my big opportunity to push for it. Planning ahead will help cut down on grocery costs as I won’t be trying to figure out the week of food the night before I shop, or even worse at the grocery store.

I should also be able to pare down some costs by wasting less. There are some days that I over estimate how much food we need and then we do not eat through it all before it spoils.

I have begun to gather up the recipes I would like to do for October and even some freezer meals I would like to try out. If I am able to prep more meals for later in the month at the beginning of the month that should help cut even more.

Do you do any meal planning? I would love to hear about how you make it work.

Did you sign up for the 31 Days of Living Well Spending Zero? Let me know I would love to chat about what you are doing to achieve this goal.

Great Book on Sale!

Just a quick post to note a great book that is currently on sale through Amazon.

Undone: A Story of Making Peace With an Unexpected Life (Kindle Edition) by Michele Cushatt is currently for only $2.99. I am not sure how long this price will last, so check out the book to see if it is for you.

I read this book a few months back and could not put it down! It was a very inspirational book about dealing with what life hands you. We are all handed struggles in life to work through, in this book you follow the writer (Michele) through her journey of decisions. I found that reading this book really helped me work through some of the (in comparison, very minor) issues I had going on.

Undone: A Story of Making Peace With an Unexpected Life

 

* Please note that the link in this post is an affiliate link and I may be provided compensation for any purchases you make using this link. Thank you for the support!

A Breakdown on How I Coupon

Coupons are money! Seriously! When you are ready to pay for your groceries you can hand over coupons and pay down that amount.

Coupons come in all shapes and sizes these days. There are the coupons that come in the Sunday newspaper, coupons found in stores (sticky pads or on the product), printable coupons and coupon apps. With the exception of the coupon apps all of the coupon types allow you to pay less at the register. Most of the coupons apps that are currently out provide rebated money based on the purchases made.

Now that you know where to generally find coupons, let me tell you a bit about using them. One thing I want to make mention of is that couponing can become cumbersome and overwhelming if you let it. What I explain here is not all there is to know. I could easily write individual posts on all the different things I do.

Certain stores offer to double coupons under a certain value. In my area there are two main grocery store chains that will double a coupon up to $.99. So if I have a $.75 coupon the store will double the value of that coupon and the value will be $1.50. You will need to check the coupon policy for the store where you shop to see how they handle coupons. You will also want to check the store policy about coupons to check for limitations. Some stores limit the number of coupons per item, some limit in total, some allow for multiple coupons.

Since the coupon apps are more like rebates you can currently take advantage of deals where there are physical coupons and coupon app deals.

Okay now that we have some basics about coupons out-of-the-way lets talk a bit about the actual how. Start with the easy part, what do you need from the store. I always try to make my grocery list first so that I know what I plan to buy, then I add in the coupons as a part of the payment of what I need. I find that starting in this way I save a bit by buying only what we need, not what there is a great deal on. Don’t get me wrong there are times where there are great sales and I will stock up on some items, but that is a whole different how to.

Once you have your list, start to check the coupons for what is on your list. Where possible be flexible with brands or sizes of items, this helps to identify coupons. I also will start to look at the sale flyers to line up with any possible sale prices as well. Time to shop!

Tools of the trade (or Tools of the couponer):

  • Online Coupons – There are several different sites where you can print coupons from general coupon producers, the manufactures webpage to even Facebook.
    • Coupons.com –  Generally you can print 2 of each coupon per device (computer, or phone/ tablet if connected to a WiFi Printer). These coupons generally refresh once a month but sometimes will have a few changes throughout the month.
    • Print coupons through a Point Program such as Swagbucks – earn points for each coupon printed and used.
  • Coupon Apps – These apps will provide cash back on specific purchases. Generally they require a picture of the receipt and maybe a scan of the bar code on items. Some may ask you to complete activities to “earn” the rebate.
    • Ibotta – Items are tied to specific stores for rebates and activities to unlock items are required. Scan item bar code and receipt. Minimum of $10 to cash out PayPal or Venmo options as well as some gift cards.
    • Snap (By Groupon) – Works for Any store, just scan receipt. $20 to cash out, send to you by check.
    • Checkout51 – Works for Any store, just scan receipt. $20 to cash out, send to you by check.
    • SavingStar – Attach your store card and have the savings are tracked for you. Items need to be added to your list before purchase, but not receipts to upload. There are some upload options now available for stores that do not have a loyalty card program such as Wal-Mart. Cash out with $5 minimum, PayPal or straight to your bank options are available.

Other ways I may find savings but don’t often use:

  • Coupons in the newspaper – I generally do not buy the Sunday paper (or any paper for that matter) because it is not in my budget. We generally do not devote enough time to reading the paper that I have not found it worth while enough for me to do this (at this time).
  • Home Scanner Programs – I am not currently in any program to make reference. These programs would require you to scan each item you purchase every time you shop. I have mixed feelings on some of these programs. I know my family was a participant in one when I was young and we were able to earn quite a bit but I am not sure how the programs are currently run.

As always be cautious of programs you sign up for and try to read through how it works to make sure you are signing up for something that will work for you and your life.

*Please note that some links provided in this post may be affiliate links where I may earn a commission for any sign-up or purchase you make using one of the links. Thank you for your support!

Progress and accountability

I was at the gym this morning and started to think about progress and what that means, how do you define it.

When I first started going to the gym I was a bit disoriented on what I was doing. I am not traditionally someone that goes to work out (you probably already know that). I knew that I had some goals I wanted to accomplish, lose a few pounds tone some areas, pretty typical things. I had a session with a trainer to get a workout setup to help me achieve my goals but I was still new and was still trying to get myself in to all of it. I saw a few ladies working hard on the different cardio machines and they were (sorry about this but my brain has strange though trails sometimes) very sweaty, and I remember thinking, that is awesome I need to sweat like that, they are making progress.

So this morning I was working hard and (yup, sorry) was sweating and I was reminded of my previous thoughts. Well In order to make progress you need to have a goal, where are you trying to get to. Progress is forward motion towards a desired destination. On this train of thought I was thinking about my goals and what I was trying to accomplish. What progress was I working on in life (not just the gym, those goals are fairly clear).

I started to t write in this blog again for a few different reasons, it is therapeutic to me to write, but I also wanted to have some accountability (this is why I publish to the world). I am also more of an introvert at heart so speaking in public, putting myself out there is rather difficult for me. I have been pushing myself to do a little more to reach out of my comfort zone. Writing this blog helps me with that. I am very real in the things that I post about, no fluff going on in this house and you will see what I mean in a minute.

Accountability is one of the things I love about writing in my blog. I know that when I put something out here that I plan to do, I should really do it. For one most of the people reading this probably know me personally and could potentially ask me about it when I see them next.

So here is what I have planned, I want to clean up my basement. I have been frustrated with the disaster that it has become and I really just want to tackle it and get it sorted out, thrown out, sold or put where it should be. Yes, I realize that we are into the Fall and this is not Spring cleaning time but there is no time like the present!

I have already begun to make a list of the things I know are piled up down there so that I can start to make an action plan. I know that I have to tackle this in a brutal and tactical way as there is just so much stuff and it easily gets overwhelming (reasons why it is the way it is, I have tried and failed at this before).

During my lunch today I started my list so that I could make this happen! I know that I have my extended pantry items, bulkier and extra kitchen cookware, extra coffee mugs and drink glasses (we currently have plastic ware because of little ones). I also have baby items that are not currently in use and need to be packed up for storage for the next (maybe) potential baby (should that happen someday in the future, this is not any type of announcement, trust me!). There are piles of Thirty One bags and purses from when I was a consultant (seriously, if you are looking for something, there is a lot on my to be sold list). I have two book cases that hold books and movies, we have board games and office supplies all down there as well.

I need to be brutal to clean this up because I have tried to be less than brutal before and it just ends up like this again. My next step is to pull out the items I can easily get to that need to be packed for storage, and get that done. Then I want to pull the items I plan to sell (there is more in the garage left over from our Summer garage sale as well) and get pictures of everything, make a list and post to an online garage sale page on Facebook.

I plan to document everything so that I can keep this blog up to date with how my progress is going (please hold me accountable to that). I also want to see how this beyond cluttered clear out method works for me so I want to document when things are going well and when they are not. I know the struggle I may run into is time. It is difficult for me to get to that area of the house to do much for too long with two little ones that either want to be held by me, have me play with them or help me.

Wish me luck on this venture!

Take a chance, do something scary!

I have been enjoying Periscope so much lately. There are a few people that I really try to catch their shows, live (if ever possible) and on replay if not. One of those is MacKenzie Monroe (@BOLDTurquoise) and her Cultivating the Lovely Show. I really enjoy the daily chats she has they bring so many insights and encouragements. This past Friday she extended a challenge of “Smiling at your kids” it is sometimes easy to get caught up in the overwhelming day to day chaos and our kids sometimes add to that. Her challenge was meant to put on that happy face a little more even if you don’t feel it right then.

My kids were not giving me reason for feeling overwhelmed but I wanted to take this challenge where I could. This morning I just decided to get Connor (my 3- year) old outside to ride his bike. He has been asking all weekend to get out there (always at the time when we are getting ready to go to bed, eat dinner or other inopportune times). I had gone upstairs to get myself ready, grabbed his clothes and came back down, told him to get his clothes on we have something to do. He (I swear he can read my mind sometimes), got very excited and said “We go ride my BIKE!”, yup buddy we are. We headed out and I let him decide which direction we would go, he decided to go right at the end of our street, this direction gives us more places to go and farther. Just a few minutes in our trek I thought, let’s see how far we can go, we both needed the time outside and it was a great morning (not yet too warm at 8 am).

We pushed along and made it all the way to the schools and played on the playground for a bit. The schools are 1 mile away from our house, a bit of a hilly trek as well. He was so excited to be on the playground, he was running around doing everything he could. He was very brave and climbed up really high to slide down a pole. He was clearly scared but so excited when he did it, he had to get up and do it again, and again, you get where I am going with this.

You see, this is not just a story about Connor doing something scary and having a great time because of it, it is about me too. In the spring before I really started to workout in the mornings, I never would have made it all the way to the school playground, maybe half way. I wasn’t sure if we would have to call my husband to come pick us up after the playground or if we would make it back on our own, but I was willing to take that chance. I surpassed my own doubts and not only did we both make it to the playground, we played and had an amazing time, I got to see a really great smile from one of my children and it was worth every achy muscle I have right now.

The trip home really went better than the trip to the playground. I think I had to chase Connor down a few times because he was riding his bike faster than I was walking. When we got back to the house, he just couldn’t contain himself, he was so excited to tell Daddy about where we went. My husband was shocked to hear that we had made it that far as well. I was so proud of myself for pushing past the limits I thought were there.

Have you done something lately to push yourself past the limits you thought you had? You might be surprised to find that limit doesn’t exist.

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