Thursday—Floor Day!  In Our Zone: Our Bedroom—Put Your Dresser in Order

Each Thursday take a few minutes to give your floors a good cleaning with a wet Swiffer, steam mop or good old fashioned mop and bucket. Make sure the cleaner you use is appropriate for the type of flooring—linoleum, wood, tile, or laminate. Over time cleaning can take a toll on your floor if you are doing it the wrong way. Read, read, read the directions on the bottle or on your cleaning device (steam mop/Swiffer).

Our area of focus: Your Bedroom, Bathroom, and Closet—Make sure any hard flooring is given an extra special cleaning. Today dive into your drawers and put them in order.

  • Store like with like—underwear drawer/sock drawer/sweater drawer. Don’t let every storage area be miscellaneous (everything).
  • Make a decision where something is to be stored and keep it there. If it migrates all the time you may need to alter your decision and either buy an additional one for that area or change the storage place.
  • Go drawer by drawer. Empty the drawer. Replace what belongs there and put things that don’t away where they do belong.
  • Do not dump the entire contents of your dresser onto your bed. Take it one drawer at a time. When your time is up you will not have as much left to deal with.
  • Store items neatly. It makes them easier to find and clothes folded and neatly put away look so much better when you wear them.
  • I buy one type of socks for my husband. They are easy to match. I got him the best socks I could afford so they would be comfortable and he would be happy wearing them.

Each time through your zone do the best you can to make things better. You will be back next month. In between maintain, maintain, maintain.

Tomorrow is Friday—Wrap up the Week Day. We will clean out our purses. Clean out our cars. Vacuum the traffic areas of the house and prepare to have a nice weekend with our sweeties—big and little. In your bedroom any carpets will receive an extra special vacuuming—around, under, and behind. It is so much easier to vacuum when there is not stuff all over the floor.

My Dad always says, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

Hugs,

Mary

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Thursday— May 9, 2013—Floor Day and Let’s Go on A Light Bulb Hunt!

Our Area of Focus is The Kitchen
Each Thursday we mop our hard floors throughout our homes.
image Since our Area of Focus (Zone) is the Kitchen take extra time and care with your kitchen floor.

While your focus is on the kitchen work your way around the room dealing with each area as you come to it. In my kitchen the first on my right is my pantry(my pattern—I work around each room from right to left)—
• I work from the top shelf down. If you work your way from the bottom up the area you have already cleaned may become dirty again as you knock dirt and dust down from the shelves above.
• I treat my pantry like a small grocery store. I group foods by type—cereal, soup, canned vegetables, canned fruit, cake mixes.
• Repackage into sealable containers (Tupperware or Rubbermaid) items like crackers, sugar, flour, and other foods that may become stale or invite critters.
• Label containers with contents and any expiration date.
• Try to place older food to the front. Check expiration dates as you go.
Over the next few weeks I am going to propose a series of hunts.
Today—Let’s Go on a Light Bulb Hunt!
• First, find all your light bulbs. Don’t buy any new bulbs yet.
• Go from room to room with a pad of paper and note how many light bulbs are burned out. Three way bulbs that only light up on one setting should be replaced. I keep the bulb for emergency use.
• Replace burned out light bulbs with what you have on hand. Add the bulbs you need to your shopping list plus a backup supply.
• If you have light bulbs that do not have lights to match them (specialty bulbs for lamps you have replaced), donate them.

What is maintaining? Maintaining is keeping the order you have established while you continue to create order in other areas. Some tasks we do weekly such as dusting, cleaning floors and vacuuming are regular maintenance. Making your bed, doing dishes, keeping up with the laundry and taking out the trash are daily maintenance. Learning to pick up after yourself just makes life easier.

One strategy to establish is the Mystery Missing Things Basket. Give warning that you are going to be taking captive anything left around. Then if the items are not quickly taken to the places they belong they go into The Basket. Establish a list of ransom tasks that family members can do to ransom their treasures. Turn about is fair play. If you leave your things other than where they go, they can go into the basket. Again, warning must be given, “”Mom, you left your keys on the kitchen table.” If the keys end up in the basket redeem them with ice cream for everyone or some other small treat. Make it fun and loving, not malicious.

Hugs,
Mary

Many people who are well spoken are making simple mistakes when they write. I will occasionally include Just a Little Grammar:
To—I am going to the store.
Too (also) I want to go, too.
Two—one, two

Wednesday, May 8, 2013—Desk Day and Making Adjustments in My Schedule

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Today—a New Area of Focus (Zone)—The Kitchen

Every Wednesday (Desk Day) spend some time bringing your paperwork up to date. Remember your goal is to pay your bills on time, deal with family business in a timely fashion, and to be able to locate papers you need quickly.

On Desk Day:

  • Are there any bills to pay or to program into your Bill Pay?
  • Are there any outstanding issues that need attention—a note, email, or phone call?
  • Have you sent an RSVP for any invitations?
  • Is there any filing that needs to be done?

Life is so much easier when you keep up with things.

I use Quicken and my bank’s Bill Pay to deal with almost all my bills. I download my transactions each day and reconcile them. If there is a discrepancy I can deal with it immediately.

One problem I have encountered is the amount of tips being changed.  When I leave a tip now I fill out my copy with the amount of the tip and the total. I keep the receipt until the charge has cleared the bank and I make sure the amounts match. Most restaurants will make an immediate adjustment. The one that has not followed through has lost my business.

Today is the first day in our kitchens. Since it is Desk Day—are there any papers in your kitchen? Put them in a box and whenever you sit down for a few minutes go through the pile. Your papers belong in a file not on top of your refrigerator or on your kitchen table.

Reserve the front 2/3 of your counter for food preparation. Make it easier to prepare food. Some people don’t enjoy cooking because their kitchen is a mess and they do not have what they need to cook and serve food.  

  • Get rid of the clutter in your kitchen—toss the trash, put things that belong elsewhere where they belong, get rid or fix anything broken, donate or give away your excess.
  • Put your kitchen in order—set up centers. Keep like items with like—what you need to prepare coffee or tea (beverage center), what you need to bake, dishes, flatware, pots and pans, and food by type.
  • Store infrequently used items on the higher shelves. Store items you use regularly where you can reach them with one or two motions.
  • Limit what you keep on your counters. If you do not use it regularly, find a place to store it.
  • Reserve your kitchen table for eating. If you use it for homework or other activities, clear it off as quickly as you are finished.

My colonoscopy went really much better than I expected. No problems, no symptoms—my doctor insisted at a regular physical that it was time. The appointment for the colonoscopy came up very quickly. I was able to schedule it within a week. The staff at John Randolph Medical Center Outpatient Surgery/Endoscopy were absolutely wonderful. I was treated so well. I slept most of the day yesterday. Today I feel just fine. If you have been putting off a colonoscopy because of what you’ve heard.

When your schedule changes, make adjustments. I have mapped out my decluttering throughout my home. I was going to get my office done this week including all the files. I will do a little at a time but I will pace myself. I lost part of Monday and all of Tuesday so I am adjusting my decluttering map. I don’t easily change my plans because I want to hold myself accountable.

Hugs,

Mary

Monday, May 6, 2013 Launch Your Week and Pacing Yourself

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Clean Your Toilets

Check Supplies in Your Bathroom (Toilet Paper, Personal Care, and Cleaning Products)

Do a Quick Pick Up in Your Home

Make Your Bed

Do a Load of Laundry from Hamper to Put Away

Declutter for 15 to 30 Minutes

 

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    Have you mapped out your week? Do you know what your commitments are for the week?
  • What clothes, food, or other items are needed for your commitments?
  • Have you coordinated your week with your husband and children?

Today and tomorrow decluttering and focused cleaning are in our Living Room/Family Room. On Wednesday we will begin a week of focus on our Kitchen (8th to the 14th)

Look at your Living and Family Rooms:

  • Are there too many pieces of furniture, too many pictures, or too many collectibles?

Even the nicest of these things lose impact when there are too many items for the space. Leave room in your home to breathe.

  • One in, one out. Once you have enough, display the most recent or highlight your favorites and change out what you have on display from time to time.

One challenge in Living and Family Rooms is toys. When my grandchildren were here regularly I had a LARGE basket. We went through it regularly so no critters (spider, bugs, or other creepy crawly things) could move in and get comfortable. We could pick up quickly by tossing all the blocks, cars, and trucks, and other toys into the basket. I would drape a quilt over the basket so my Living Room looked like a Living Room.  All the toys in the Living Room had to fit comfortably into that basket. We could swap toys out with toys from other areas of our home. We don’t have to add and add and add until stuff takes over. Limit what you allow in your home or in any area of your home.

imageStick with 15 to 30 minutes of decluttering at a time. We lose focus on any task—decluttering, cleaning, organizing, or even studying after 15 to 20 minutes. You will be more productive if you:

  • Set a timer for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Focus on one small area, study one subject, or clean one room until the timer goes off.
  • Take a 15 minute break each hour, have a cup of tea, plan the tasks you will focus on for the next hour.
  • If you are a mom or grandmom, with children at home give them 15 minutes of undivided attention each hour. Look them in the eye and listen to them. Read to them. Play with them.
  • Go back to work when your break is over.
  • If you do not finish the task, return to it—15 minutes at a time—until you are done.

Homes do not fill with clutter overnight.  Teach yourself to deal with stuff quickly as it comes through the door to your home. Many times when I arrive home I do not feel like putting the things away. I am always glad I did when I sit down 10 minutes later. Just as with cleaning up after a gathering of friends or family never takes as long as I think it will, it only takes a few minutes to put things where they belong.

 

Do you start your day off by reading your Bible with attention?

I have been reading and studying the Bible regularly for over 30 years and still find something fresh each day. The Bible doesn’t just change you, it transforms you.

Hugs,

Mary

Friday, May 3, 2013—Wrap Up the Week Day and How Do I Decide?

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Today is our 38th anniversary. And they said it wouldn’t last! You cannot be married 38 years without being married 37. We have worked through the challenges in our lives to make a life together and we are each better people for it. I respect and love and care for my husband more now that 38 years ago today.

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Each Friday:

  • Clean Out Your Car
  • Clean Out Your Purse
  • Vacuum the Traffic Areas in Your Home

We are in our Living Room/Family Room from the 1st to the 7th (Tuesday): Instead of just the traffic areas in your Living Room and/or Family Room, thoroughly vacuum your zone—under, around, and behind.

A friend asked me how to decide what to keep and how to let go today when decluttering.

Remember you will be returning to each area month after month. Deal with your stuff a little at a time. Don’t be overwhelmed—one corner, one drawer, one shelf at a time.

  • When you declutter, the first time through is almost easy.
    • Get rid of all trash.
    • Fix or get rid of anything broken.
    • Get rid of anything that makes you miserable. Even if it is valuable, if it has unpleasant memories each time you look at it, pass it on to someone who will enjoy it.
    • Decluttering is a little more challenging after the first time. When you cannot  decide, sometimes you need to put some things into a box and seal it up. If there is something in that box that you honestly need, open the box and get it. You need to be able to name the item before you open the box. Otherwise, donate the contents without opening the box.
    • Keep the best, release the rest.
    • Each time you go through you will get better and faster. Decide whether you live in a storage area or a home. I am happy with less stuff and a pleasant home.

And don’t forget to maintain.

We’re off to Williamsburg. Have a lovely day. I know I will.

Hugs,

Mary

Thursday, May 2, 2013 –Floor Day and A Few Words on Laundry

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Every Thursday wash your hard floors. • Sweep or vacuum the floor before you mop to remove loose dirt.
• Use a cleaner appropriate to the floor. Read the labels.
• Wood floors do not like an excess of water. Use a cleaner specifically for wood floors like Murphy’s Oil Soap. Pledge has a floor cleaner that does a good job.
• The Murphy’s Oil Soap can also be used on linoleum.
• If you do not remove dirt from wood floors regularly the floors will become scratched (by the dirt!!)
• Hang your brooms or store with the brush end up to keep the bristles from bending and breaking.
• Wash or replace mop heads as they become worn.
This week we are in our Living Rooms and/or Family Rooms.
Start high—
• Are there any cobwebs?
• Are your light fixtures and ceiling fan blades dust free?
• Can you see through your windows? (are they clean?)
o Before you wash a window, dust or wipe down the window frames. Dirt + Liquid =Mud
o I like to use a dusting mitt to dust blinds.

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A Few Words on Laundry:• Sort your laundry by color and type—whites/lights, brights, darks, towels, delicates, work clothes. You are smart enough to realize what types of clothes and other laundry you have regularly. I personally like the Color Catcher sheets in case someone leaves a red towel inside their underwear but that’s another story.
• Do not overload the washer and dryer. Clothes need to be able to move freely to get clean and dry.
• Measure your laundry products—enough is good, more is not better. Routinely using too much detergent can cause a build-up that may actually lock up your washer.
• Remove the lint from the lint trap every time you use the dryer. I pull up the lint trap when I remove clothes from the dryer so I will remember to clean the lint trap before I run it again.
• Each season, take time to clean out your dryer exhaust to remove lint. Lint buildup can cause fires.
• Do not leave your dryer running when no one is home or while everyone is sleeping.
• Check pockets. Yes it takes time but you have no idea how hard it is to get melted crayon out of a load of clothes and the dryer—almost impossible!!

Hugs,
Mary

Make a deposit of God’s Word in your heart each morning. It pays tremendous interest in your life.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013—Wednesday is Desk Day and Understanding Zones

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Each Wednesday is Desk Day. Time to

  • pay bills,
  • take care of family business,
  • And file.

Your purpose in paper storage is to be able to retrieve the document or information when needed. If you can easily access the information somewhere else you do not need the paper. The categories you choose for your files should be what you automatically think of when you need the papers.

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My sweet husband had an “In” tray. He put anything of interest into that tray, and there it stayed. I bought a set of manly looking file folders and a file box. I sorted the papers by category—golf, boat, medical, retirement and sat down with him. I gave him one category of papers at a time and asked him to go through them. As he finished with one category, I gave him another to go through while I labeled a file folder and place the papers in a file and the file in a hanging file holder in the box. In less than thirty minutes it was done.

Today is the first day in your Living Room. Work from high to low and around the room dealing with each area as you come to it.  First deal with clutter and basic cleaning—getting rid of trash, dirty dishes to the kitchen, dirty clothes to the laundry, and then get rid of the clutter. When a room is clean and orderly then you can obsess about cleaning

My Cleaning Checklist for the Living Room/Family Room

  • Have you cleaned cobwebs? (M)
  • Have you cleaned the light fixtures? (M)
  • Have you cleaned windows? (M)
  • Have you cleaned the window treatments? (EOM)
  • Have you cleaned any marks and fingerprints from walls and woodwork? (M)
  • Have you cleaned decorative items? (M)
  • Have you cleaned out the fireplace? (as needed or seasonally)
  • Have you cleaned out the end tables? (M)
  • Have you straightened the bookcases /entertainment center?(M)
  • Have you dusted the lamp shades? (M)
  • Have you polished the furniture? (M) Have you dusted? (W)
  • Have you culled out dated magazines and catalogs from magazine basket or rack? (M)
  • Have you cleaned the phone(s)?(M)
  • Have you vacuumed the traffic areas? (W)
  • Have you vacuumed under, around and behind furniture and drapes? (M)
  • Have you shampooed the carpets? (S)

 Understanding Zones

Focus on one area of your home at a time each month. Maintain what you have accomplished so you are not totally starting over each month. You will make progress.

Years ago at a very low point in my life, my now husband of 38 years asked me, “How do you eat an elephant?”

I had no clue what he was talking about so I responded, “I don’t know, how do you eat an elephant?”

“One bite at a time.”

Whatever you are facing whether it is a cluttered, dirty, messy home or any other challenge, break it down into manageable bites—one corner, one shelf, one drawer, one phone call, one bill, one minute, one hour, one day. I know with God’s help you can accomplish whatever needs to be done.

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Zones

Zone

Room

Days of Month

Zone One

Living Room/Family Room

1-7

Zone Two

Kitchen

8-14

Zone Three

Master Bedroom and Bath

15-21

Zone Four

Entry/Front Porch/Dining Room

22-28

Zone Five

Family Bath

29-end of month

 

Determine what most needs to be done in each area and distribute the tasks over the week. If you are just beginning to declutter and clean, many of these tasks have rarely, if ever, been done. Add a little at a time.

  • Do not, do not, do not try to do too much in the beginning or you will crash and burn.
  • Be consistent and persistent and you will get it done.
  • Set your timer.
  • Work with focus for 15 to 30 minutes and you will carve away at that monstrous task.
  • Your routines are like zones for your day—focusing on a set of tasks instead of feeling like you have to get it all done at the same time.

Hugs,

Mary

 

 

 

 

Tuesday—April 30, 2013—Duster Dance Day and Cosmetic Shelf Life

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Every Tuesday grab your duster and put on some lively music. Dance around your house and dust as you go. This is great fun to share with your little ones. Get them their own duster and let them dust the low spots while you hit the high spots. Sound kind of goofy? Yep, but it’s fun. Who says work has to be no fun at all?

This is the last day of the month and we only had today and yesterday bringing our bathroom(s) into order. If you are doing your daily maintenance it will take no time at all. You do not have to mop—you will do that Thursday.

As promised—Cosmetic Shelf Life

Cosmetics are not required to carry an expiration date but they do spoil and/or lose their effectiveness over time.  At the really bad end of the spectrum they may cause infection or skin irritation. Creams, gels, lotions or other water-based cosmetics are more likely than powders to foster moisture-loving bacteria. Whenever any cosmetic product is opened and exposed to air and light it begins to degrade. To extend your cosmetic’s shelf life, keep tightly capped and store containers away from heat and sunlight. For safety sake, follow the “toss by” tips below.  

Product:

Shelf Life after   opening:

Toss when:

Mascara

3 months. Do not   add water or pump the wand into the tube. That can introduce microbes that   make mascara spoil faster and irritate eyes

Becomes clumpy;   brush does not evenly transfer mascara onto lashes

Lipstick

1-2 years

Oils in formula   turn rancid; color fades; oil droplets form; once-shiny lipstick looks dull   or matte

Foundation – Bottle

3-6 months.   Wide-mouthed jars can expose more product to air, making it break down more   rapidly

Ingredients begin   to settle or separate; texture thins or thickens; odor seems off

Foundation –   Pressed Powder

1+ years

Glaze forms on top;   odor seems off

Foundation – Loose   Powder

1+ years

Odor seems off

Powder, Eye Shadow,   and Blush

1+ years

Glaze forms on top;   powder cracks or crumbles

Eye & Lip   Pencils

1+ years. Sharpen   eye pencils weekly  to prevent bacteria from being transferred to your   eye area

Product dries or   crumbles

 

Your nose is a beautifully designed safety feature. If food or cosmetics or any product that you eat or touch smells off, it’s a good rule of thumb to not put it on your skin or in your mouth.

 

I had three days without outside commitments this week so I decided to give my home a little extra love.

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  • Sunday I played match the keys. I probably should have done this before I had new keys made but I made tags with pink dotted card stock, found pale green ribbon and labeled all my keys. I divided the mystery keys by shape. The keys that are not needed on a daily basis are now labeled and in a drawer instead of cluttering up the key rack by our door.
  • Please remember I have been decluttering for over 30 years. Yesterday, I cleaned and decluttered my main floor. I worked around each room, opened each drawer and closet. I did not find much clutter—a few blank bank registers I had been holding on to for no good reason. I discovered some out of date food and out it is going. Basically I was looking for places where I was beginning to allow clutter to creep in. I’m brutal now, there wasn’t much.
  • Today I am attacking my upstairs. In this clutter hunt-cleaning marathon I am searching for dirt and stuff that has escaped my notice. Beware, stuff! You must have earned a place in my home by being beautiful or useful or out you go. Be it furniture or décor too much stuff makes it hard to see the beauty and function of any item.
  • Don’t add and add and add without taking out the excess.

Tomorrow is Desk Day. I will declutter my main archive drawer. Within a file, I file from front to back with the most recent papers in the front.

  • Do not keep papers you will not need to refer to again. Keeping unneeded papers makes it more difficult to find the papers you do need.

Ending one month, beginning another.

  • Walk through your home and notice what you have accomplished in the past month. Make a list of the tasks you hope to accomplish in May. If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time. Aim higher.
  • Is your calendar up to date? Any appointments you need to schedule?
  • Don’t forget to schedule fun times with family and friends. Don’t look back and wish someday that you had taken the time for joy.
  • What birthdays are coming up? May is like December for us— several birthdays and anniversaries including our 38th on Friday. Can’t help loving that man of mine!

Hugs,

Mary

Friday, April 26, 2013—Wrap Up the Week Day and Always Time for Tea

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Every Friday:
• Clean out your purse
• Clean out your car
• Vacuum the traffic areas in your home

This is the last day of focus on your entry, front porch, and dining room
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• What needs to be done to make these areas a little bit better?

Next week: Monday and Tuesday (April 29 and 30)—Your Family Bath;
Wednesday through Tuesday (May 1-7) Your Living Room and Family Rooms

Have you written down your DAILY ROUTINES—Morning, Afternoon, and Evening?
Have you written down your WEEKLY ROUTINES—your regular commitments and tasks that you do each week?
Do you have a MASTER TO DO LIST and a list of your DREAMS AND FUTURE GOALS? Empty all those things you think you need to do that swirl around in your head onto paper. It is so encouraging to cross each item off as you accomplish them OR choose not to do them. Transfer them to your future dreams and goals or just decide not to do them at all.

Have you put together a PLANNING NOTEBOOK? This notebook is not just for you but for your family or whoever could step in for you if you were away or otherwise out of commission.

• Include your CONTACTS AND EMERGENCY NUMBERS. When I put my emergency number list together I had to search for over 15 minutes for the emergency/holiday phone number for our county utility department. In an emergency and under pressure I am sure finding the number would have taken longer.

Always Time for Tea:
Pace yourself. Pay attention to what is going on around you from the beauty God has crafted in nature to really seeing the people around you. Do you see people around you that are so immersed in themselves and their problems that they can see nothing else? Don’t be one of them. Bring them over to the Light side.
• If they don’t have a smile, give them one of yours.
• Take time to offer a cup of tea, listen, and encourage.
• Notice your children and their friends. Talk to them and ask questions.
• Set a goal to be God’s ambassador. An ambassador speaks the words of the one they represent. Their dress and manner as well as their words represent the One who sends them.
• Slow down, be deliberate in loving and caring for others.
• Work smarter, not harder. Plan your work. Map your day. When there is a detour, deal with it and get back on course.
• We routinely make the mistake of overestimating the amount of time required to do a task. Set a timer and see what you can get done in 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes. Focused time produces incredible results.

Hugs,
Mary

Work expands to fill the amount of time allotted for it.