The obligatory New Year’s Resolutions post.
With school almost starting back, I’ve taken the first few days of the New Year (and the last few days of Winter Break) to clear my mind and re-wrap my head around business, around things I need to do at home, around relationships – essentially, all the areas of the Self-Care Framework.
In that time, since January is National Get Organized Month, I’ve had a chance to really audit my routines and examine all my stuff. Here’s what I found:
- I have way too many books from college. I’m not a Fahrenheit 451 fan, but some of these gotta go. Amazon & eBay here we come.
- Storage bins are great until they become a catch-all for stuff.
- Winter Break is the devil. I haven’t been to the gym in the morning since… a while ago. With it being below freezing outside, The Kid and I have both experienced that Cabin Fever is real.
- I need to amp up my writing schedule.
- There’s only so many ways one can relocate furniture in the same space.
- The little pieces in Barbie Dream houses are almost worse than Lego’s, and kids still love climbing in cardboard boxes. TBH, sometimes I wanna climb in there with her.
- My work as a scheduler, planner, organizer is really essential, because not everyone can do it naturally. (cue “I’m Every Woman”)
Which is OK!
I love teaching people more efficient ways to get things done, or showing them new ways to look at a situation or a space, or even giving them a tool that I use personally to help me in my everyday life.
To Do or Not to Do
One extremely simple tool I use when goal-setting, reflecting, or planning my week is a To Do/Not to Do list. Changing, eliminating bad, and creating new habits is how we recreate ourselves everyday. It’s how we create the life we want, create the beauty and consistency we want to see. You are the sum of your habits.
So with this list, I examine what I’ve done for the week (or in this case, the year) and which actions are borne of habits that I need to change. Then I write those specific actions in the Not To Do column. Next to each habit on the To Do side, I write a positive desired habit to replace that one, because nature abhors a vacuum.
Side note: when I quit smoking cigarettes, I thought I was going cold turkey, but really I was replacing that time with drawing or drinking 2 bottles of water or something beneficial (and better smelling) to my life.
From there, I take a picture of it to keep on my phone with me at all times, and I post it on my wall in my bedroom.
This reminds me of my power of choice, my power of creating the life I want, and my personal responsibility for that power.
Another way I audit my habits is by tracking my spending on a daily basis.
I read some studies concluding that if a person works consistently improve just one area of their life, they will see more desired improvements in other areas of life as well. One of the groups in the study was assigned to only track their spending habits over the length of the study (I forget how long it was), but they were given a ledger where they had to write the date, where they purchased, how much it was, and the form of payment. No reflection questions, no limits imposed, just write down what you spend.
At the end of the study, researchers found that these people had not only improved their spending habits, but also improved their eating and exercise habits. I realize “improve” is subjective and they controlled for all that, but to the subjects, they felt a better quality of life at the end.
So I did it.
The first time was for 45 days, and, Good Lord, I had about a page per day in the beginning. Around the 2 1/2 week mark, I had drastically reduced my frivolous spending (like on random things I didn’t even want, but I thought they were cute or cool at the time).
After the first time, I thought maybe this is just a fluke, maybe it’s just the time of year, maybe this, maybe that.
So I did it again in the summertime, and again around the Holiday season. Each time, I started with less spending in the early days. I could see where I would go to the vending machine too much at work, and that allowed me to self-correct from eating all that Little Debbie goodness.
My proudest moments are those days where I sit down and go through my wallet (where I keep my receipts) and find that I’ve spent nothing! That’s when I give my best Tiger Woods Fist Pump and throw a little extra in my savings account.
You can download a printable copy of a 40-Day Spending Tracker here. If you’d rather keep it on your computer or phone, you can download the Excel version here.
My favorit-est most precious time-saving tool that I made last year was the Organizing My Accounts workbook.
Dear Husband (bless his heart) never remembers his passwords to anything. I’d remember the passwords for him, but when he couldn’t reach me, he’d change them and the password stored in my mental file cabinet would be outdated.
I once made a PDF of all his accounts and passwords for him to keep on his phone, but it wasn’t easily updated (for those passwords that expire every 30 days or so).
So I made an Excel workbook that could be opened via the Google Sheets app, which can be downloaded to your phone, or saved to your computer’s desktop.
In the workbook, there’s a sheet for each type of account: Business, Financial, Social, Shopping, Utility, Education, so on & so forth.
It only takes 30 to 90 minutes of one day to go through your email and list all of your accounts, the website, your username and associated email (if you have 9 different emails like me), the password, security questions and answers (because some case-sensitive), and any other need-to-know information.
This has saved so much time from getting locked out of accounts after so many incorrect password attempts.
As far as security, you could password protect the document (just don’t forget that one!), but always use common sense when storing your personal information. Protect your computer; don’t visit any shady sites; keep up with your phone; that kind of thing.
Download the Organize My Accounts Workbook here. It’s my baby, I love it, and I know you will too.
For other tools and resources, visit the Downloads and Resources page here.
At the end of 2017, my girlfriends and I made a toast to living in the present, developing sound habits, and exuding all the magic we know we possess.
So here’s a toast to you, dear reader:
may your organizing journey be a fruitful labor of love; may your discipline create spaciousness in your home, your business, and your mind; and may you keep your own Self-Care Practice OFF the back-burner.
With Grace and Gratitude,
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