Ways To Organize and Simplify Your Thanksgiving Dinner

I’ve always loved the Thanksgiving holiday.  It’s a time to get together with family, eat pie with ice cream, and go shopping.  As an adult who organizes the Thanksgiving meal, I realize it’s not as easy and carefree as I assumed it was when I was a child.

Growing up, we’d go to my grandmothers and spend time out on her acreage with the fall leaves, cattle, and touch of cool in the air.  Each family would bring a dish for the Thanksgiving dinner.  Around twenty of us would gather for the meal comprised of turkey, every casserole imaginable, jello-salad, and at least 5 different types of pies. Buffet filled with cassaroles and meat dishes for thanksgiving dinner.

As a kid, all I had to do was show up, set the table, and help with clean up.  As an adult and chief organizer, I’m now responsible for organizing the Thanksgiving meal.  And the reality is, real life is happening before and after the holidays, so I’m planning for this special get together in the midst of school pick-ups, gymnastics, book club, and work.

I imagine you’re like me and you also have a lot on your plate.  We all need a few ways to simplify and organize our Thanksgiving dinner so that we can make the most of our time.

Before You Host Thanksgiving Dinner

First, decide what kind of Thanksgiving you want to have.  Will it be a big family gathering like the kind I had as a kid?  Do you want a small intimate gathering with just your nuclear family?  Maybe you want to make sure everyone has a place to go, so you invite every friend or neighbor you know that doesn’t have family near.

Once you think about the type of experience you want to have, next make a list of who you’d like to invite.  I strongly encourage you to write down your list of guests.  Tally the total number and make a note of it.  This will help you as you make decisions on how much food you need, your venue, seating, etc.  Once you have the number of guests that are likely to come and determine if you have enough space and seating.  You may need to borrow or rent chairs or even find a different location if there are too many for your home.

Simplify Your Thanksgiving Meal Prep

The meal is the biggest investment of your time.  The first thing you need to do before any of the food prep begins is to make a menu.  The menu will be your guide to how you involve others and how you spend your time.  My best advice, stick to the basics.  Thanksgiving dinner is not a time to experiment with recipes.  Believe me, I’ve done it.  It only adds to the stress of the day. Make your list and put an asterisk next to the things that you want to make.  Now, let’s look at a few ways to simplify your Thanksgiving Dinner prep.

The first and most obvious, have a pot luck, where each guest brings a side and you prepare the Turkey.  This is an easy way for you to save time on your Thanksgiving meal.  Refer back to your guest list and menu, then make assignments.  You can be as specific or as loose as you want regarding the assignment.  For example, you could ask one person to bring a salad, another a casserole, and another a dessert.   Pot lucks may not be the sexiest option, but they will save you a ton of time and are a nice option for your guests to be involved.

a lady getting the turkey out of the oven while family wait at the table with text stress-free thanksgiving easy tips to get organized and avoid stress

Freezer Friendly Thanksgiving Side Dishes

If a pot luck dinner is not what you have in mind, there are other ways to simplify and save time on your Thanksgiving meal prep.  A few weeks before the Thanksgiving dinner, start to make dishes you can freeze.  Soups like potato, squash, or mushroom soup will freeze nicely. Stuffing  / Dressing can be made and frozen in advance.  Sweet potato casserole, without the topping e.g. marshmallows or brown sugar crumble, is another easy freezer option.  Dough for bread rolls can be made and frozen for up to three weeks in advance.  Then thaw the night before the big meal.  Pies are another freezer-friendly Thanksgiving dish.

Outsource Parts of Thanksgiving Dinner

If you’re short on time, but set on cooking the meal, consider outsourcing small parts of it.  You probably don’t want the entire meal catered; you just need a little extra support. Think about the things you enjoy cooking the least or that are the most difficult for you.  Consider buying those from a local restaurant that has a home-cooking style. 

Another option is to think about your personal connections.  My mom had a friend, Georgia, who loved to make buttermilk pies and rolls.  A few times a year, my mom would ask Georgia to make these delicious dishes and we would bring them to a family gathering.  My dad’s church sells Honey-baked Hams for the holidays.  They are already cooked and sliced, all we have to do is place the order, pick it up, then serve it.

Create a Cooking Schedule 

Now that you know what you are cooking, buying, or having others cook, it’s time to get organized with a plan.  Identify what you’re going to cook in advance of Thanksgiving.  For the remaining items, make a schedule. 

The oven is the biggest constraint for cooking several dishes at the same time.  Where possible, use other cooking appliances.  A slow cooker can be used for side dishes like a green bean casserole.  An instant pot works great for mashed potatoes.  Next, write out the temperature and bake time for the items that need to be cooked in the oven.  Identify which dishes need to be the hottest and which ones can be cooled a bit e.g. rolls and turkey.

Now make your schedule.  List the time for each dish to go into the oven, how long it needs to stay, and what (if any) dishes will be in at the same time.

More Thanksgiving Dinner Organization & Hacks

To help your final Thanksgiving meal prep go smoothly, use Mise en Place.  Mis en Place is a French culinary term that means having everything organized and in place.  Check in advance of the big day to make sure you have all of your ingredients.  If you think of a cooking show, they have all of their ingredients washed and prepped to throw into the recipe. This is an example of Mise en Place.  You can do the same thing in your kitchen by making sure you a) have the necessary ingredients b) they are easily accessible when you cook and C) prepared in advance.  Tip, you can prepare vegetables that need washing, slicing, or dicing a two to three days in advance. 

Green onions on a chopping board being prepared for thanksgiving dinner recipe.

Final Thanksgiving Dinner Tips

Order any remaining grocery items online and have them delivered to your house.  Print out or copies recipes and put them in one binder in the order of the schedule.  If you’re a messy cook, then put the recipes in sheet protectors.

Set the table early.  If you have a separate dining room, you can set the table a couple of days in advance.  If you’ll be using your dinner table, then set it the night before. Be sure to include your serving dishes and serving utensils.  Write a small note about what’s supposed to go in each dish.

They say, “many hands make light work.”  In other words, get other people involved and don’t try to carry the load yourself.  Define roles and assign responsibilities to people.  Assign who cooks, who cleans, who wipes down the table etc.  Don’t forget to get the kids involved!

Finally, make sure you have plastic to-go containers on hand for any leftovers you want to send home with guests.

Thanksgiving can be a busy and stressful time if you’re responsible for organizing the dinner.  There are several ways you can save time and avoid stress.  First, get others involved and have them bring something to the table.  Second, consider outsourcing and buying a few already prepared items.  Third use cooking hacks to prepare food in advance and avoid trying to fit it all into one day.  You’re busy and don’t need any added stress. These tips can help you enjoy the holiday and time with your family!

7 Game Changing Tips for New Bloggers (I wish I would have known when I started my blog)

Are you new to blogging?  Or have you considered starting a blog?  Maybe you wonder what it is actually like to run a blog.  This month marks my second year of blogging and I’ve learned a ton.  It’s been different than I anticipated, in a good way.

Why I Started A Blog

I became interested in blogging after doing research on “passive income.”  As an independent contractor, I didn’t have a company-provided 401k and I was looking for a way to help plan for our retirement. 

I read several articles that mentioned blogging as a good source of passive income.  I decided “why not?” And I committed to a minimum of one year of figuring it out.

What I Thought Blogging Would Be Like

I thought blogging would be about product reviews, affiliate sales on sites like Amazon, and advertisement for all of the traffic I would have from Pinterest.  I anticipated making lots of printables and not selling any products that I personally created. I thought it would happen fast.  Or at least I hoped it would.

girl holding up a cupcake with two candles and confetti in the air with text blogging tips I wish I would have known two years ago when I started my blog

What My First Year Was Like

Blogging that first year was hard.  I spent lots of time spinning my wheels.  I thought I had to sound like a millennial influencer (someone I’m not.) I thought I had to personally generate traffic by participating in various groups where we shared each other’s content.  Also, I looked at sources like Amazon and Google Ads as the primary way to make an income.

The things I did in the first year weren’t necessarily bad, they just weren’t the best use of my time. 

The biggest issue though was that I didn’t know who to trust or where to seek guidance.  There are a ton of so-called “Experts” out there that have an opinion on blogging, the best Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook Ad strategy.  And everyone is willing to take your money.

Game Changer #1 – Blogging Experts I Trusted

I did find a few resources during that first year that provided solid information and helpful direction.

Abby Lawson, from Just a Girl and Her Blog and Abby Organizes

Abby’s Building a Framework training was the first course that I purchased.  I found her to be authentic, well-researched, and full of practical experience.  The course I took is no longer available, but she does have several incredible resources on her blog including this one on blogging tips, tools and resources to grow your business.

Ruth Soukup, of Living Well Spending Less and the Elite Blog Academy

This was the second course that I purchased, the Elite Blog Academy (EBA).  It felt like a big investment, but I had done my research and Ruth was and is the real deal!  In addition to purchasing EBA, I also benefited from her highly active Facebook group and the Activate Conference she held in September 2018.

The blogging conference was a major game changer for me.  Not just because of the incredible content and amazing speakers, but because of the attendees.  I connected with a group of 5 like-minded women.  We continued to meet after the conference and are planning on seeing each other again this year at a different conference.

Activate is where I also learned about Ruth’s EBA VIP Mastermind group.  Ruth held an application process and selected 13 members for this group.  This is a paid group where you get invaluable business coaching and the opportunity to build a network of like-minded entrepreneurs. It’s been a pretty amazing experience and has definitely elevated my business.

More Game Changing Tips For New Bloggers

Two years in and these are the things I would tell my younger inexperienced self.  If you’re a new blogger, hopefully, these tips will help you.

1. Focus on content

One of Ruth’s first assignments for me in the mastermind group was to write 3 posts a week.  The goal was to put a lot of content out there to see what my readers responded to.  The more posts I wrote, the more feedback I received.  I could see what readers gravitated to and what resonated.  It helped me to find my people! 

Also, the more posts you write, the more chance you have of having a viral post.  Which is a fun experience and can be a defining moment for your business…it definitely was for mine.

2. Invest in your business

Notice I said “BUSINESS” and not “BLOG.”  I meet a lot of bloggers that want to do everything for free or with as little investment as possible.  I get it.  It can take some time to make money from your blog.  But, if you’re wanting to grow it into a business, be willing to make some investments. 

A blog as a business requires a lot less money upfront than brick and mortar or a college education for that matter.  In comparison, you don’t have to spend a ton.  

If you know that paying someone a hundred dollars to install/set up your WordPress theme will help you get started and you won’t be stalled by your fear of the technical side, then pay someone a hundred dollars. 

Use your money wisely.  Only buy quality courses or pay for proven instruction.  Invest in ways to help you get a breakthrough and to get your business up and running.

3. Be patient

There are some bloggers out there that made money…a lot of money relatively quickly.  But, for the vast majority, it takes time. I heard the average time to make a decent amount of money is two years.  It took me about 18 months to make more money than it cost me to run the blog.

Everyone is different so it’s hard to predict how fast your blog will grow and how quickly you’ll turn a profit.  Regardless of it, it takes 2 months or 2 years, be patient.  It will come with hard work and diligence.

4. Build a network

I can emphasize how important this tip is to new bloggers.  Relationships are key to what can be a very isolating business. I’ve learned from so many other bloggers.  When I’ve felt discouraged, I’ve been cheered on by others.  If I was lost, they helped point the way.  When I had successes, they championed me…and I them.

The blogging community is such a great community.  For the most part, there’s an abundance mentality.  Even if you blog in the same niche, you can help each other out.  I have found such generosity and willingness to help each other with the people I’ve connected with.  It truly is a beautiful thing!

5. Be consistent

The next game changing tip for new bloggers, be consistent.  Look at your blog like a commitment or as a job.  Determine the number of hours you can dedicate and then show up! Don’t take an entire month off, or think I’ll do this when I can get to it.  Consistency will help your readers to know what to expect and will help you reach your end goal sooner.

6. Seek out reputable sources

I’ve already touched on this tip earlier when I shared my personal experience.  More than likely you’ll face a learning curve if you’re new to blogging.  Learn as much as you can, and consider the source. 

Before you invest in a course, do your research.  How long has the author/teacher been blogging? What are their personal results?  Are there any testimonies of other people achieving the same results?  Do you know anyone personally that has purchased the course or materials, what was their experience?

7. Allow yourself to make mistakes

Last but not least, allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them.  I’m preaching to myself with this one.  It’s healthy to make mistakes.  It allows you to take risks and to learn.  Perfectionism often leads to procrastination.  Recognize that you’re in new territory and it’s better to step out than to stall out.

Blogging is not what I expected

When I started blogging, I was looking for something that was “passive.” E.g. wouldn’t require much of my time, especially in the long run.  It’s been anything but passive!  Yet it’s been so much more!

I’ve loved becoming an entrepreneur.  I originally had no desire to create products, but now, I’m loving them and see products as the best way to serve my subscribers and grow my business.

I thought you had to have millions of page views and was chasing them at first, but have learned that it is quality over quantity.  One post can be a total game changer for your traffic and it’s better to have subscribers you connect with then a big list, but no connection.

Year one of blogging was about learning the ropes and figuring out the direction of my blog.  Year two has been about building relationships.  Relationships with other bloggers, a mentor group, and most importantly, my subscribers.  I’ve loved connecting with you, hearing your stories and challenges, and figuring out together how we can each have a sweeter life!

Follow your dream, take a risk, and start that blog that you’ve been thinking about!

 

 

 

 

Do you have what it takes to become a successful blogger?  Take EBA’s assessment.  👇👇

5 Steps to Organize Any Room in Your Home

Do you have a space that just isn’t working for your family?  You feel like you can never find the thing you’re looking for, there’s always clutter or a mess, or it’s just too small and things don’t fit!  Maybe this space never functioned as you needed it to or it stopped functioning.  These are clues that it’s time to get organized.  Yes, getting organized can even help a space to not feel small any more.  In just 5 steps you can organize any room in your home!

How do I organize my house? 

Every home organization project should follow the same steps.  It doesn’t matter if you’re hoping to organize your Laundry Room, Kitchen, or Mud Room.  If you follow these 5 steps to organize any room in your home, you’ll end up with space you love that fits your family’s needs.

Where to Start with Home Organization

Step 1) State Your Objective

Write down what you are trying to accomplish?  Is there a need you’re trying to prepare for or a problem you’re trying to solve?  Why is the end product important to you?  What do you hope to achieve at the end of all your work? 

You can put as much or as little effort you want into this step.  The bigger the project, the more effort I would give.  It’s important to know your “why” before you get started.  This will help fuel your motivation when you hit road bumps or find yourself in the messy middle. 

Also, this is a good opportunity to make sure your spouse and other family members are on the same page!

Example:

Our mudroom should be a place where the family can easily remove and store their shoes and accessories including hats, gloves, sunglasses, etc.  It should also serve as a command center, enabling us to prepare for the week and quickly get out the door.   It’s important to me that it’s pretty and inviting.

Organnized home with text how to organize any room in your home

Step 2) Assess the Current State of the Room

The next step to organize any room in your home, think about the current state of your space.  What is working and what isn’t working.  Make a list.

Example:

Working Not Working
·      Coat hooks for adults

·      Cubbies for the kids

·      Drawers for winter accessories

·      Basket for summer accessories

·      Cat’s space for food/litter box

·      Coat hooks for kids

·      Shoe storage

·      Seating to put on / take off shoes

·      Calendar Dry Erase board too high on the wall to write on

Step 3) Define the Future State of the Room

The third step to organize any room in your home…think about how you want the room to function.  Is it supposed to be inviting, calm, relaxing, functional, or a place for social gatherings, etc?  Does it need to fit the needs of one person or of multiple people?  What aspects need to be accounted for when you organize the space?

Example:

Things to organize in our mudroom:

  • Families shoes
  • Seasonal gear (coats, hats, scarves, sunglasses, etc.)
  • School gear (backpacks, lunch bag, etc.)
  • Papers (Kid’s Crafts and School papers To be signed)
  • Family Calendar (school schedule + extracurricular activities)

Step 4) Summarize the Gap

In your current state assessment, you identified what’s working and not working.  In the future state, you defined how you want the space to function.  For the fourth step steps to organize any room in your home, compare the two current state with the future state.  Detail what needs to be fixed or planned for in your final plan.

Example:

Mud Room Needs:

  • Designate a place to sit and put on shoes
  • Solve the shoe storage problem so that we’re not always tripping over them.
  • Create a space for the kid’s art work
  • Define a home for papers that need to be signed and returned from home
  • Make sure there is a calendar for scheduled activities

Step 5) Create a home organization plan

Now that you know what needs to change to better organize your space, list the steps you need to take to organize the space so that it works for you.  Make a note of how much time each step will take and if you need to involve anyone else or assign it to another family member.  This is the fifth and final step to organize any room in your home

Common home organization steps include:

  • Declutter and remove items that are not necessary in the space
  • Group like items
  • Identify storage solutions
  • Buy any necessary items to make the space functional (note, err on the side of caution here…it’s easy and fun to go out and buy a lot of stuff that doesn’t really fix your problem.)
  • Install new storage solutions

Example:

Mudroom Plan:

Step Time Required Owner
Declutter shoes and winter gear…remove anything the kids have outgrown 20 minutes Melissa
Sort gear by family member and place in the appropriate cubby 20 minutes Melissa
Have family members organize their cubby (backpacks, lunch bag, shoes, and winter gear) 30 minutes Each Family Member
Buy a file for the wall to keep kids papers that need to be signed and returned to school 1 day Melissa
Buy hooks to place at a lower level on the wall for kids coats 1 day Melissa
Create Labels for each bin or cubby 1 day Melissa

Note: this plan is not complete, but it gives you an example of what you might include in your plan.  Check out this post for more ideas on how to create a home organization plan.

Take Action and Start Organizing Your Home Room by Room!

Now, it’s time to get organized!  Execute your plan!  Decide on the approach that works best for you.  Are you a one and done kind of person?  Do you want to tackle the project in one fell swoop and does your schedule allow that?  Or, do you need to do a little at a time?  For example, you might declutter one day and sort another.  Or Declutter in the morning and sort in the afternoon.

Once you figure out your approach, commit to it and take action!

You can apply this 5 step process to any home organization project including organizing a closet, garage, or bedroom.  This process will help you know where to begin, what needs to change or be fixed, and how to go about your project!

 

 

 

 

Organize My House Checklist

Would you like to spend more time doing the things that are important to you and less time hunting for things like your kid’s soccer clothes, the bill you received in the mail, or the item you need to return to the store?

Getting your home organized can improve your mood, clear your mind, and give you more time in your already busy schedule.  You may not know where to start organizing your home, let me help with the Organize My House Checklist.

Organize Your Home Room by Room

While this list covers a lot of ground, it’s important to note that you don’t need to do it all in one day or even one week.  Commit to making simple changes that will help organize your home a little at a time.

Small Changes for Big Impact

In the list we’ll cover small changes you can make room by room to create and maintain an organized home.  In each room, we’ll cover:

  • items to declutter (because who wants to waste time organizing things they don’t like or need)
  • smart storage solutions – to keep down the clutter
  • and daily routines – small steps you can take each day to maintain the space and your peace of mind!

This post will mainly focus on WHAT to organize, but if you’d like some practical tips on HOW to declutter check out this post or HOW to organize, check out LINK to Organizing Principles post.

organized living room with text Easy Checklist to Organize Your Home room by room

Kitchen

The kitchen is often the hub of activity in a home.  People congregate in this space, socialize, cook, and eat.  It can quickly become disorganized.  There are a few things on the Organize My House Checklist that you’ll need to tackle.

Items To Declutter

  • Countertops
  • Refrigerator
  • Pantry
  • Under the sink
  • Pots and Pans
  • Tupperware drawer
  • Junk Drawer

Smart Storage Solutions

  • Counter Top – Fruit Basket, Mail Tray, and Soap caddy
  • Refrigerator – Plastic acrylic bins for eggs, sodas, yogurt etc.
  • Pantry – Plastic bins with labels, DIY Built-in Spice Rack, Canisters for baking ingredients
  • Tupperware drawer – Plastic bins for lids
  • Junk drawer – Battery storage, Pens / Pencils containers, and Plastic dividers for things like rubber bands, paperclips, spare change
  • Drawers – group like items and store close to where they are most often used e.g. coffee cups by the coffee maker and water glasses by the refrigerator.  Make sure each drawer or shelf has an assigned purpose

Daily Routines

  • Clear the counters ever morning and evening
  • Have family members immediately put dishes in the dishwasher
  • Sort mail when you bring it into the home
  • Clear out old food before you go to the grocery store or if your city has a composting service, the night before they pick up the compost.
  • Do a freezer inventory every 6 months
  • Do a pantry inventory every 6 months
  • Nest food storage containers when you take them out of the dishwasher
  • Discard containers or lids with missing parts

Looking for more Kitchen Organization ideas, check this out

Living Room

The Living Room is often just as busy as the kitchen.  Family members may watch TV, read a book, play games, or take an occasional nap in this space.  It can very easily become a clutter trap especially if you don’t have smart storage solutions or solid routines.

Organized living room after working through the organize my house checklist.

Items To Declutter

  • Media Center
  • Blankets
  • Games and DVDs
  • Bookshelves
  • Magazines
  • Toys

Smart Storage Solutions

  • Media Center – Hide cords. Use cord ties or plastic zip ties to group cords together and avoid a mess.
  • Blankets – Use a basket to store blankets or extra pillows.
  • Games and DVDs – Use boxes, bins, or cabinets to conceal your collection.
  • Bookshelves – Define zones and assign a specific purpose to each area.  Arrange bookshelves so that they are visually appealing.  You can group by color or by height. Add baskets or trays for remote controls.
  • Magazines – A drawer in your coffee table or a small tray can hold a few magazines.
  • Toys – A wicker basket is helpful to collect all of the kids nick-nacks that often end up in this space.

Daily Routines

  • Return items to their assigned space.
  • Train the kids to pick up their toys each time before they leave their space.
  • Remove everything that doesn’t belong on the coffee table every night so that you have an open surface to kick up your feet and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning.

Mudroom / Entryway

This is a critical space in any home.  It’s usually busy with activity and must be functional to welcome people into your home or get the family out the door quickly.  If you’re like me, you want it to be functional AND pretty!  So, as you think about storage solutions, keep this in mind.

Items To Declutter

  • Shoes
  • Seasonal gear
  • Cubbies / bins

Smart Storage Solutions

  • Shoes – Shoe rack for the floor, hanging shoe organizer for the back of the door, or a wicker basket if you need to make use of vertical space. A plastic tray for wet, muddy, or icy shoes.
  • Seasonal gear – Coat rack or hooks…make sure they are at a level where the kids can reach them.
  • Hooks for keys
  • Baskets for things like sunscreen or sunglasses
  • Baskets or bins for larger items like hats, gloves, or scarves
  • Wall file for mail or papers that need to be signed and returned for school

Daily Routines

  • Have all family members put up their shoes when they come into the home.
  • Each season, remove shoes that are worn out or out grown.
  • Encourage all family members to hang their coats and put up their gear in the appropriate spot.
  • Make sure the floor is clear at the end of each day.


 

The Home Office

The home office is where you tackle many of the responsibilities it takes to keep your home and family running.  You may pay the bills from this space, store important documents, or save receipts for your taxes.  If your home office is organized, you’ll find you have to spend less time doing the paperwork you likely consider a chore.

While you may or may not have a defined space for your office, you likely have some space in your home where you store these important items.  Here are the items for you to get in order form the Organize My House Checklist.

Items To Declutter

  • Piles of paper – purge as much as possible.  Check out this post for more ideas on how to declutter your paper.
  • Books
  • Cords
  • Electronics

Smart Storage Solutions

  • Paper – Go electronic where possible.
  • Invest in a scanner to scan important family and home documents.
  • A fireproof box or bag for documents you can’t lose.
  • Inbox, for mail or paper you receive that you have yet to go through
  • Organize books by themes so that they are easily accessible.
  • Use cord ties or plastic zip ties to group cords together and avoid a mess.
  • Set up a charging station for electronic devices.
  • Go wireless where possible e.g. wireless keyboard, wireless mouse etc.

Daily Routines

  • Use the rule of only touching paper once.  Immediately when it comes into your house decide if you need to toss, act, or file.
  • Weekly shred papers with sensitive information
  • Commit to going through your mail at least once a week.
  • Mark a specific day each month to spend time paying your bills.
  • Plug in devices each night to make sure they are charged and ready for use the next day.

Bedrooms / Closets

I love that bedrooms are naturally a designated space for family member’s things.  It’s a place that can reflect their personality and be filled with things that bring them joy, but it can also become disorganized by the wide variety of things that go into this space.    Let’s look at the key areas on the Organize My House Checklist.

Closet with hanging clothes

Items To Declutter

  • Closet – Clothes, shoes, handbags
  • Outdated or rarely used accessories
  • Chest of drawers

Smart Storage Solutions

  • Charging station for your phone.  This is particularly important if you don’t have a landline.
  • Night stand to set any books you may read at night, lotion for your hands, or lamp.
  • Designate a space for decorative pillows when you remove them from your bed.
  • Use dividers in drawers to separate intimates or socks.
  • Store shoes and handbags where you can see them.
  • Optimize space under the bed for extra storage
  • Go vertical in your closet using space on the floor and the top shelf.

Daily Routines

  • Make your bed every day.
  • Daily hang up clothes or place in the hamper when you take them off.
  • Make a practice of filing your clothes vertically in your dresser.

Bathrooms

Whether it’s a hectic morning or a late night, you want need your bathroom to be organized.  Bathrooms can be a little tricky because you need them to store a variety of things from extra toilet paper, to towels, make-up, or medicine.  Check out these tips for decluttering, storage, and daily routines to help organize your house.

Items To Declutter

  • Expired toiletries
  • Old Make-up or Make up you don’t use
  • Expired Medicines
  • Hair appliances that are broken or that you no longer use

Smart Storage Solutions

  • Plastic storage containers to create zones in your drawers for make up or toiletries
  • Hooks for towels or robes
  • Roll towels or washcloths and store in baskets

Daily Routines

  • Wipe out the sink after brushing your teeth.
  • Clear off the counter after you get dressed.
  • Wipe down counter when done getting dressed or before going to bed.

Linen Closet

When we built our house, there was not place to store our linens.  Before the builders started construction, we had them create a space for a linen closet.  I love having a dedicated space, but to be honest…it’s easy to let things accumulate there and NEVER discard.  Our sheets, quilts, and old comforter sets don’t wear out per se, so I have a hard time making a decision to let go.  But in reality, that doesn’t mean I should keep them all.  Check out this list of things to organize in your linen closet.

Items To Declutter

  • Old sheets
  • Old / unused comforter or duvet sets
  • Mismatched pillowcases
  • Old pillows

Smart Storage Solutions

  • Bins or baskets to separate the size of sheets e.g. Twin, Queen etc.
  • Make use of rolling items to save on space including towels and duvets.

Daily Routines

  • Annually make a practice of discarding old linens, even if they aren’t technically worn out.

Laundry Room

This is usually the room you want to spend the least amount of time in, but it’s critical to meet the families needs.  By making sure it’s organized, you can be efficient and heck, you might even enjoy your time more in this important space!  Here  are a few more items to add to the Organize My House checklist.

Items To Declutter

  • Any non-laundry items that have landed in the laundry room.
  • Socks without a partner
  • Expired cleaners

Smart Storage Solutions

  • A clothes hamper in each family members room.
  • A laundry basket for each family member.  I prefer a collapsible basket that I can store in the bedrooms when not in use.
  • Bin for chemicals like stain removers, bleaches, and detergents… be sure to store laundry detergent and chemicals on high shelves to keep out of the reach of kids.
  • A jar to collect coins
  • Trash can for lint and used dryer sheets
  • A basket, bag, or bin for solo socks
  • Drying rack that is either mounted or collapsible.
  • An Ironing station with iron board and iron.

Daily Routines

  • Wash each family members clothes separately so that you can save time by not having to sort.
  • Involve kids in folding clothes. Square or rectangular items like towels, wash clothes, and pillow cases are easy for young kids.
  • Designate a day to do laundry or a day for each family member’s laundry.

Well, there you have it!  Over 30 items to declutter from every room in your house, helpful storage tips, and daily routines to maintain your newly organized space.  Getting your house in order doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  Even if you can only dedicate 30 minutes to an area, you can make small changes for a big impact.  This checklist will help keep you on track as little by little you transform your home and reclaim your peace, time, and mental clarity!

 

 

 

 

How to Successfully Complete Your Next Home Project

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by a home improvement project not knowing where to start, the steps to take, or even having a realistic timeframe for actually completing the project? I hear from readers all the time, that just don’t know where to begin.  I’m going to share a project planning tool with you that will put an end to this overwhelm and help you easily tackle your next home project.

Have a Successful Project

For over 15 years, I’ve used project management tools to help me get my professional work done on time and within budget.  As a homeowner, wife, and mom I’ve found these same tools are necessary in my personal life too if I want to successfully complete my home projects.  This FREE Home Project Planner can help with a DIY project, Home Improvement initiative, planning a move, or even trying to delclutter your entire home.

Home Renovation Project Success

My first home was a fixer upper.  We had a long list of projects including replacing all of the electrical outlets, painting every wall, installing new flooring and crown molding.  It was a floor to ceiling job.

The goal, get it all done within a month and for about $15,000.  This required a lot of late nights, a few contractors, and a ton of sweat equity.

My role was to serve as the general contractor.   Materials needed to be ordered, activities needed to be sequenced properly, and costs had to be tracked and managed.  The approach I’m going to share with you helped us achieve our goals and save our sanity!

Woman thinking bout her next home improvement project. Working on a project plan to reduce overwhelm and actually complete the project. Woman sitting at a desk with a smile on her face with text how to successfully complet Your Next Home Project with free printable.

What is a Project Planner

In its most basic form, a Project Planner is a tool for creating a step by step plan to accomplish a goal.  It helps you to take a big project and break it down into manageable activities.  In advance, you consider the timing of each step…how long it will take and how much it will cost.  You can also think about if you need outside help for the work or if you can do it yourself.

This approach is magical for DIY projects, moving homes, home renovation, or even trying to declutter your entire house.

Project Management Reduces Overwhelm

So, think about it, you feel overwhelmed because you’re moving and you need to pack…you don’t even know where to start.   It just feels like a dark cloud over your head.  You’re anxious because you don’t know how much time it will take or how far in advance of your move date you should begin packing.

Get Clarity on Your Home Project

By following a project management process, you take the guesswork out of the move.  Think of it like bringing a camera lens into focus.  The associated activities become less fuzzy (ambiguous and overwhelming) and much clearer.  You can actually see with clarity what you’re looking at and the overwhelm goes away.

In truth, much of our overwhelm is there because we feel like we’re facing some giant thing we can’t do.  When you pause to break down the steps one piece at a time, the project feels much more doable.

Quote when eating an elephant take one bite at a time

 

6 Things to include in your Home Project Plan

1) Project Objective

Either the name of the project or what you’re trying to accomplish.    This is important if you have several projects going on at the same time or if you want to look back at a project you did in the past so that you can recall the steps.

2) Action Steps

This is a list of the smaller steps you need to do in order to complete the project.  Check out this example:

Preparing for a move:

  1. Declutter home and get rid of things you don’t want to take with you
  2. Buy packing materials (boxes, tape, bubble wrap)
  3. Create labels for boxes
  4. Pack*
  5. Schedule movers or secure moving van
  6. Moving day

*Note, you need to determine how detailed you want your action steps.  Something like “Pack” may be too broad, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed by ambiguity.  I find that breaking things down into smaller parts gives me more peace of mind.  So, instead of “Pack” – I would have something more detailed like:

  1. Pack Master bedroom
  2. Pack Kids bedrooms
  3. Pack Kitchen, Etc.

Woman holding boxes and smiling after decluttering and preparing for a move.

3) Start & End Dates

Next, you want to assign a timeline to each activity.  You’ll need to consider how many hours the step will require and what your schedule permits.  For example, if you are decluttering your home you might have these action steps.

  1. Set up bins for Keep, Donate, Sell, Discard.
  2. Declutter Master bedroom closet
  3. Declutter Basement storage area
  4. Take things to the donation center
  5. Sell items on Facebook, Etc.

You’d estimate that the first step would take less than an hour and you could start and finish it on the same day, so you’d assign the same start and end date.  Decluttering your Master bedroom closet however, is a much bigger task.  You know that you have boxes in there of old maternity clothes, suits you used to wear to work when you were a smaller size, and vacation wear that you haven’t worn in 8 years. 

So, at this point, you’d estimate that your closet is a 4-5 hour job.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I dedicate the specified amount of time in one day?
  • If I can’t, how much time can I dedicate each day I work on it?
  • Do I have that specified amount of time available in consecutive days, or is my schedule already filled and I’ll need to spread the work over a time period?

Your thought process might go something like this. 

“Let’s see, I need 4-5 hours for this project.  I can’t do that all at once, but I can work on it for 2-3 hours at a time.  I usually have a 2-3 hour window on Sunday afternoons.  I’ll block Sunday to Sunday to accomplish this step in my project.”

4) Necessary Resources

The next thing to consider is who owns the job.  Often in home DIY projects, you are the owner, but a project plan may involve a spouse or one of your kids.  Also, sometimes you need expert help, so the action step may involve a contractor. 

5) Cost  / Budget

Last but not least, you’ll want to consider if the action step will cost money.  I find this especially important in Home Renovations or DIY projects.

Example Home Project Planner with an arrow to the Budget Section FREE Home Project Planner

6) Status

If you have a really big project, like repairing your home after a flood, it’s helpful to have a column where you indicate the status of the action item.  Common terms used to define the status include:

  • Not Started
  • In Progress
  • Delayed
  • Complete

I find this information isn’t as important on smaller projects that have 10 action steps are less. In the example Home Project Planner above, the check box next to each action step is a simplified version of a status tracker.

Don’t Slip Into Old Habits

Recently, I was working on a project and I was feeling uneasy about it.  I had this nagging feeling that it was too big and I didn’t have enough time to complete it in my desired timeframe.  I was starting to feel stressed.  So, I reminded myself to write out the steps.  Almost immediately the overwhelm lifted.  I could visually see that the project was totally realistic for the time I had to give to it.

As someone who is very organized, I can slip into the habit of just relying on my memory and not writing each step down.  The challenge with this approach is that it’s hard to share the work with anyone else e.g. my husband.  And, it’s easy to slip into overwhelm.  I find that by writing down each step, I’m reminded of what I’ve already accomplished (which is highly motivating to me).  I can also see how much is left before the project is complete.  It helps keep my emotions in check and gives me a dose of reality.

Example Home Projects that would benefit from a Project Plan

Here are a few examples of home projects that could benefit from a Project Plan:

  • House Renovation
  • Landscaping Project
  • DIY Projects
  • Decluttering your Entire Home
  • Packing for a Move

If you’re ready to get started, but feel overwhelmed, then a Project Planner is a tool for you.  Maybe you’re great at getting started, but stall before you finish, a project planner will benefit you too.  If you have a project in mind but are unclear on how long it will take or how much it will cost, a Project Planner will help de-mistify the numbers.

Don’t let your next home improvement project, DIY endeavor, decluttering effort, or move to feel overwhelming or impossible.  If you want a successful project that you actually complete, then commit to using a project planner.  You can download my FREE Home Project Planner at the end of this post.

 

 

 

 

 

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