Monday, October 31, 2011

Clutter and Christmas

I was pondering this week about Clutter and Christmas.

We love stuff. We fill our lives with stuff, because we think it will bring happiness. We shop and buy more stuff that eventually fades and breaks and is thrown away. Stuff clutters our homes and creates organization problems. Where are we going to store all our stuff?

Christmas is already on the shelves in every shop. You are already thinking about what you are getting for your family. Some of you are preparing for the Black Friday sales coming up next month, or are looking through online stores to find the perfect thing for that perfect someone.

Is it all worth it?

There are a few things that we are going to do differently this year for Christmas, to prevent more clutter (as well as reduce waste) and bring more Christ into our lives.
Giving instead of Getting.
Sharing instead of more Stuff.
I urge you to ponder it for yourself, and share with us any further ideas you may have.

  • We ask the boys to go through the toys they own, and find ones that they no longer play with that can be donated to children in need.
  • We are giving them "experiences". This year we are going to teach them to ski!
  • Creating long lasting memories by taking old VCR tapes and turning them into DVDs to watch together. Our boys love nothing better than to see their dad when he was their age.
  • Each member of the family picks a name and has to make or do something for that person on Christmas day.
  • We use cloth Christmas bags for gifts instead of tape and wrap. 
  • We do an advent...but not with candy...we put in one thing we are going to do that day.
  • Look at the world vision gift guide. You choose the card, and they choose the gift. There are all sorts of amazing ways to help. Buy a goat, chickens, school supplies, soccer balls, toys, medicine...
  • Create an online Christmas card to send out to our family and friends.
  • When I was young, my family would all go out carolling on Christmas eve to our neighbours, it is something I miss, and want to start with my own family this year.
  • Contact your Church Authority, or the local Christmas Bureau and adopt a family for Christmas. You get to have all the fun shopping, but you are buying for someone else.

I have to be honest, I am going to do some Black Friday shopping this year. I have never been before, and I am kind of excited for the adventure of waking up early and seeing what all the craziness is about. And please, don't think that we do not give each other gifts, we do...and Santa still comes of well as grandparents!

I am just trying to make our Christmas more meaningful and searching for a way to have peace instead of stress during the month of December!

If you have any thoughts, please share them.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Meal Planning

Meal Planning will save you time and money.
Decide what your family goals are around meals/food. 
Make a plan and try it out.
Keep track of all the meals that you all love. (Repeat them for less planning)
Create a place to store your recipies. (binder, cookbook, computer)

Our goals for family dinners: 

Eat more veggies, Conserve on food costs, Try new things, and Involve the kids.

Just as the seasons change, our goals and weeknight names change.
The important thing is to have a plan, and use it.
I am not listing all our meals, just giving you a few examples...

Here is our meal plan:

Moms Meaty Monday - You get the idea, the meals have meat.
Salmon, Tilapia, Korean Kalbi, Crabcakes, Steak, Pork chops...

Trim Slim Tuesday - This is our vegetarian night, and time for us to try new things.
Veggie Stirfry, Salads, Quinoa, Eggs (Quiche), Potatoes...

Wacky Pasta Wednesday - The kids love pasta.
Lasange, Alfredo, Spaghetti, Jazzy Ramen...

Tiny Budget Thursday - Use what we have to create a new meal, or keep it simple.
Leftovers, Soup, Casseroles, Perogies...

Family Favorite Friday - The kids night to decide and help cook.
Pizza, Sushi, Hamburgers, Tacos, Breakfast for Dinner...

Scott's Spicy Saturday - Scott loves spicy food. He also loves to cook. This is his night to enjoy both.
Indian, Thai, Fajitas, Enchiladas...

Crockpot Sunday - we go to church on Sunday, and it is a day I feel like doing less cooking. The crockpot makes it easy, throw it all in the crock in the morning and eat later in the day.
Chilli, Soup, Roast, Stroganoff...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Staying organized online

I just joined Pinterest. 
It is an online pinboard, and a fantastic way to keep things organized online.
Whenever you find a site you like, a quote you want to remember, a recipe you want to try, a cool idea for the kids that you want to make, or just something awesome that you want to show your friends...all you have to do is put a pin in it. Pinterest will save that item to your board (and you can have a bunch of boards with different titles). I will never have to retype a google search, or fill up my browser with bookmarks, or even say, "I know I saw it yesterday...where did it go?"

Here are 10 ways to stay organized online, and increase your productivity.

Out of the ideas from this site, we really like Google Docs, Google Calendar and Remember the Milk.

Google Docs
is great to share lists we have made...For ex. Things we want to buy. We each add things to the list, and when the time comes, we talk over which item has a higher priority, and then we research and get it.

Google Calendar
keeps us both informed of our schedules. We can both enter things and the calendar is shared between when I have appointments after school, and Scott wants to fit in a training run, he can see what the family is up to without having to wait until he gets home or phone us. When there is a conflict, we can sort it out before that day comes. Everyone gets their own colour!
There is another neat Family Calendar called Cosi. Same idea...but this one comes with a journal feature, places for pictures, shopping lists, and other cool dodats.

Remember the Milk
is a system that Scott has are his thoughts: I've used Remember The Milk for almost 3 years now.  It is an extremely easy way to keep track of all of your tasks and to-do lists.  Since it's web-based, you can access it from any computer.  It also has a great iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad application and interfaces with popular online tools such as Gmail and Google Calendar.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Overcome Chore Wars Together

In your home, who takes out the garbage? Who cleans the dishes, folds the laundry and cleans the floors? There are many chores to be done each day to keep a home orderly and clean. Making the decision of who does what and when can lead to contention.

Instead of worrying about who does most of the work, and starting a chore war in your family, decide to work together. Here is insight from Dr. Robi Ludwig called, "Time for a truce in chore wars between couples". It is a 4 1/2 min. video clip, along with written suggestions on how to work together. Check it out!

When Scott and I were first married, we were both working and going to school, and chores were easy. I think we did laundry once a week. We are both pretty tidy people so we took care of our own things, we both cooked, and we both cleaned up. But even in this type of relationship, there are still arguments over chores. The one thing we both disliked the most was doing dishes. They would pile up, waiting and taunting us to fight over whose turn it was. We had no dishwasher and had to do everything by hand (I know, how terrible!). Our chore war was solved by insightful parents who bought us a portable dishwasher for Christmas. It saved our marriage!

Now with three kids, chores are much different. They take longer, and there is more to do on an ongoing basis. There are ways to have the whole family involved in keeping the home in order. The idea I liked the best from the clip is something that works for us everytime: cleaning up together and then having a reward together! Key word TOGETHER!

Let's say it is Friday night and the kids want to stay up to watch a movie..sure no problem...clean up the room, help mom finish up dishes, take out the garbage, put away books, etc, etc, etc...NOW we can relax and watch as a family.

How about it is Saturday morning and the boys want to go to the bike park..sure no gets cleaned up, laundry gets folded and put away, carpets get vacuumed and we all go on the outing together.

It really works!

And in the end...#7 from her ideas:  Just do it. As you know, sometimes cleaning won’t be fun, but it is a necessary part of life. A clean home has a better chance at being a happy home … so clean away and make your home sparkle and shine!

Monday, October 24, 2011

What is your clutter personality?

I hate clutter. It takes up needed space. It makes small projects become large projects. It is hard to clean properly with clutter in the way. It makes a space seem smaller. 

If you want a happy and organized home, take a good look at yourself. You may be what is standing in the way of your own goals. Find out your clutter personality, and see if change can begin with you. 

The Hoarder: "This might come in hand someday!"

Hoarding is rooted in insecurity, financial or otherwise. Deep down, Hoarders fear that they'll never have the resources they need if they let go of any possession, no matter how worn, useless or superfluous. This is a common behavior for folks that have gone extremely hard financial times or came from large families where everything belonged to everyone in the family. They never had their very own security blanket when they were young.
If cabinets and closets are crammed with egg cartons, cracked margarine containers, and old magazines, there's likely Hoarding behavior underlying the clutter.
Hoarders need to be remind themselves that resources will always be available. Where can a Hoarder look outside the home for a substitute Hoard?
Reassure yourself! Stuff will be with us always. Find magazines indexed at the library, kitchenware marked down at yard sales, and every small appliance known to man can be found (cheap!)at the thrift store. Think of these off-site treasure troves as attenuated household storage areas. Dare to dump it!

The Procrastinator: "I'll think about that tomorrow!"

Those of the deferral mindset are guilty of the great set-aside. Bills, notices, old newspapers, items that need cleaning or repair, and household projects are all set aside to be dealt with another day. The Procrastinator will leave dinner dishes in the sink, wet laundry in the washer, and a gazillion things that need to be put away, laying out.
Procrastinators need to be reminded that tomorrow has no more time or energy than today--and that deferring decisions drags down each new day with yesterday's unfinished business.
Since this behavior is grounded in procrastination, apply the best remedy: action. For Procrastinators, simply making a start creates the momentum needed to finish the job. Remember, it's easier to keep a rolling stone in motion, than it is to pick it up and start it rolling the first time!

The Rebel: "I don't wanna and you can't make me!"

Somehow, it's all Mom's fault. Rebels were forced to pick up after themselves as children; as adults, they're still expressing the mute and stubborn determination of a four-year-old who refuses to pick up his toys.
Rebel clutter can be anything, but often centers on household activities. No, the Rebel won't put his or her clothes in the hamper, cereal bowl in the dishwasher, or car in the garage--even when the clothing gets wrinkled, the cereal bowl hardens into yellow goop, and the car gets damaged by weather and roadside traffic.
Rebels need to remind themselves that the war is over. They don't live with Mom anymore--and their own family deserves an adult on the job, not a sulky, whiney child.
Tell that inner Rebel, "It's okay--I'm the parent now, and I want a house that's nice to live in. By switching places with the old authority figure, the Rebel can find a way out of "I don't wanna! And, you can't make me. Na, na, na."

The Perfectionist: "Next week, I'll organize everything--perfectly!"

Perfectionists are wonderful people, but they live in an all-or-nothing world. They do wonderful things--when they do them!
Perfectionism forms an inner barrier to cutting clutter because the Perfectionist can't abide doing a less-than-perfect job. Without the time to give 110% to the project, the Perfectionist Clutterer prefers to let matters--and the piles of stuff--slide.
For example, plastic food containers may be overflowing their cabinet, but the Perfectionist Clutterer won't organize them until he or she can purchase the perfect shelf paper, lid holder organizer, and color-coded labels. As a result, the amassed and crowded containers stay put, falling down onto the feet of anyone hapless enough to open the cupboard door.
Perfectionist Clutterers need to remind themselves of the 80-20 rule: 20% of every job takes care of 80% of the problem, while fixing the remaining 20% will gobble 80% of the job. By giving themselves permission to do only 20%, Perfectionist Clutterers get off the dime and get going.
It is perfectly fine to tell the inner Perfectionist, "Today, I'll do the important 20% of that job: sorting, stacking and organizing those food containers. Later, I'll do the other 80%, buying organizers and putting down shelf paper. If later never comes? Well, you've outwitted your inner Perfectionist Clutterer. Congratulations!

The Sentimentalist: "Oh, the little darling!"

Sentimentalists never met a memento they didn't like--or keep. Children's clothing and school papers, faded greeting cards, souvenirs from long-ago trips and jumbled keepsakes crowd the environment of the Sentimental Clutterer.
Problem is, there's so much to remember that the truly endearing items get lost in a flood. Who can find the first grade report card in an attic full of boxes of paper?
The Sentimental Clutterer needs to reduce the mass of mementos to a more portable state, changing mindset from an indiscriminate "Awwww!" to a more selective stance.
For example, a Sentimental Clutterer can corral each child's school papers into a single box by selecting one best drawing, theme or project each month.
Other ideas for reining in rampant Sentimental Clutter include scrapbooking the very best photos and papers, or photographing surplus sentimental clutter before letting it go. Sort it out, choose the best, keep the memories and dump the rest!
And, my favorite way to satisfy the "Awwww" factor is to take a digital photo of the items and make them into a screensaver on my computer.

Sorry that I have no blog or website to link to for this information. There seemed to be no original author, and many individuals use these exact types (some have more). It is hard to show proper blog etiquette when this happens, so I apologize...I will always try to show and link where I get my information from.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

10 reasons to eat as a family

Here is something I found at iTVnetwork, and have added some comments in italics.

It’s good for the body!
1. When families eat together, everyone tends to eat healthier. People who have frequent family meals consume more calcium, fiber, iron, and vitamins B6, B12, C and E. It could be because home-cooked meals are healthier than fast food and restaurant meals. (Source: Archives of Family Medicine)
2. Children tend to eat more fruits and vegetables when they frequently have dinner with their families. They also tend to eat fewer snack foods. (Source: American Dietetic Association). 
3. Children in families who eat dinner together are less likely to be overweight (Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine). We, as the parents, are trying to eat healthy, and the kids eat what we eat at dinner time.
Good for the brain
4. Children from families who eat meals together get better grades than their peers who don’t have lots of family meal times (Source: Lou Harris-Reader’s Digest National Poll).
5. When families eat together frequently, children have better language skills compared to kids from families who don’t have family mealtimes often. (Source: Harvard University) We have conversations, and talk about our highs and lows from the day.
Good for emotional health
6. Children of families who eat together report feeling happier and are more optimistic about the future, than their peers who have infrequent family meals. (Source: Lou Harris- Reader’s Digest National Poll)
7. Teenagers are less likely to use drugs, smoke, and drink alcoholic drinks, when their families eat together regularly. (Source: Columbia University) Your children will know you care and might be less likely to give in to peer pressure.
8. It may come as a surprise, but among Moms who work outside the home, those who have family mealtimes reported feeling less stress than those who had family dinners less often. (Source: Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal) 
9. The more often teen girls had meals with their families, the less likely they were to have symptoms of depression and suicidal behaviors. (Source: University of Minnesota) 
Good for family bonding
10. Eating together gives family members the chance to communicate and build relationships, something that both adults and children appreciate very much. (Source: Nutrition Education Network of Washington & Oprah Winfrey’s “Family Dinner Experiment”). 
We love to eat together every night. It is a priority in our home. Extracurricular activities can wait, until our 1/2 hour of family time around the kitchen table is finished. 
I grew up in a home with 8 children, all wanting to go in 8 different directions every night. My mom always had dinner ready at a certain time, and we knew we were expected to be there. I do not remember a time that we did not have dinner together as a family. It kept us close to them, as our parents, and to each other, as siblings. 
There are even cool games you can play, to make dinner more adventurous...or if you just want to keep the kids at the table longer...check this out! Family Dinner Games

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Scott's heart!

"Be kind and always look for the good in each other"
This was advice given to us on our wedding day.

I often forget to tell him how much he means to me.
I love him more today than I ever did.
Here is a little something I put together to show him all the wonderful traits I love so much about him. I know he has immense potential to be whatever he wants, and I will always support him. 

Scott's heart

Monday, October 17, 2011

Challenge ME #3 - Pantry


I got a little excited starting this challenge, and emptied an entire shelf before taking a picture. 
Here are the contents from the shelf.

I am going to be honest, this challenge took me longer than 30 minutes. It actually took 2 hours. We had 4 little ones to watch, and keep away from all the food that was all over the island, table and floor.

I found out today that organizing is more than just getting the job done (my effective way!), but setting up a system that works for the home owner, so they can stay organized in the future (Scott's efficient way!) He was right again! This takes more time, but in the end the result is better. Each item and shelf was discussed before a decision was made. We used what she had in her home and the finished product looked fantastic.


Things you can do to organize your pantry:
  • Take everything out and clean it. Make sure the space is big enough to see all the items.
  • Place similar items together, and assign them a shelf. Label the shelf so everyone remembers what goes where.

Top shelf: cereal 
2nd shelf: pasta and rice (all the half used bags are kept in the green pull out container) 
3rd shelf: Baking (with all her coconut, chocolate chips, nuts, etc in the container with lid) 
4th shelf: Snacks (open bags of crackers, chips, etc are in the pullout containers)
Bottom: Cans and large items bought in bulk.
  • Improve Access: In this pantry, the sliding door could not be used, and the pantry actually has about a foot to the right (inside) that you cannot see. We had to leave room (where you can see) for pull out containers so that she could reach to the right for the other things without having to move things out of her way.
  • Expand the space: Use wire racks, wood racks (as you can see at the bottom), containers and bins, so you are not dangerously stacking cans, and store things compactly. 
You will find when you start the pantry, it will lead to all other areas of your kitchen...take the time to make a decision where things will go, and keep it that way. So, when you come home from a grocery trip, anyone in the home can help you put things away.

Here are some other cool pics of an organized pantry...

Pinned Image

Friday, October 14, 2011

Challenge ME #2 - Under the Kitchen Sink


Under the kitchen sink becomes a catch all for all types of cleaners, scrubbers, plastic bags, unused fish tank supplies, pans, bottles, hardware...some others keep their garbage can and/or drying rack for dishes under the sink as well. That is a lot of stuff to keep in one place, and I am not sure how sanitary it is to keep all these things together. 


Steps to take:

1. Take everything out and give everything a good scrub down.

2. Find something to put on the bottom of the cabinet. In case there is a spill, or leak of any is much easier to clean it up. (or replace). You could use vinyl paper, peel and stick tiles, adhesive backed plastic or even aluminum foil. We found plastic cardboard (the stuff used for creating signs) and cut it to fit.

3. Decide what you want to go under the sink and find a new home for anything that does not belong.
(In this case, there is no garbage or drying rack or plastic bags to put under - those are kept elsewhere, so there was plenty of room for the cleaners)

4. Find a caddy or container that is portable. Keep the basics like all purpose cleaner, window cleaner, paper towels, scrubbers, in it, so when you need to clean anywhere in the house, you can take it with you. This also saves on you having to keep cleaners under every sink in your home.

cleaning caddy

Here are some more neat ideas to make your under the sink more efficient and effective!

under the sink storage caddy
under sink tension rod
Under the sink storage

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Challenge ME: #1 - The Spice Cupboard

Who has a cupboard like this?
All the spices, baking supplies, cake decorating, candles, etc..are put up here, and you can't find what you looking for in 10 seconds?

Here is what I did:

Step 1: Take everything out and put it on a flat surface.

Step 2: Clean the empty cupboard.

Step 3: Sort alphabetically
While sorting, throw away/recycle empties, check expiration dates and clean off the containers to be put back on the shelf.

Step 4: Consolidate the duplicates
This family loved Italian seasoning and Onion Salt, they had numerous half empty containers in various spots in the kitchen. I found them all and consolidated for more space.

Step 5: Find a storage solution
There are many great ways to store spices out there, check this out: Ten Spice Storage Options
But if you want to be frugal, use what you already have...
remember I only had 30 mins to do this challenge. 

Try this...
- I put all the small liquid bottles (extracts) together a see through plastic container. 
- I placed all the decorating needs(tips, candles, mini icing tubes) in a ziplock bag (all together and easy to grab when you are ready to decorate)
- I took all the bags of herbs that were opened, that would not fit into a jar, in separate snack size ziplocks and marked them with a sharpie. These were put into another plastic container.
- They had a healthy supply of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, so I grouped those together in another small plastic container. 
- Placed one container on top of the baggies of extra spices/herbs that are only needed to refill the jars.
- Took all the baking supplies (oil, breadcrumbs, salt, etc) and grouped them together.
- Placed all the extra packets (soup mix, taco season, gravy mix) in a large ziplock bag.
- Put all the spices back alphabetically, so they are easy to find (with the ones less used at the back)

DONE in 30 minutes! 

While timing myself, I had to stop the clock a few times...I had to find a sharpie, ziplock bags, and storage containers that were not in use in other parts of the house. 

Neat thing is...the family had a cool storage idea in a wasted space between a wall and cupboard in the kitchen, so we used it to put the large containers, and the three most used spices for easy grabbing!

If you want to get really crazy, check out this blog:

Challenge ME: Organized in 30 minutes

I love to clean and I love to organize. 
Anyone who knows me well can testify of this.
I want to challenge myself and see how quickly I can get the task done.
My house is boring, because we already maintain a high level of organization (it is not perfect, and does not stay that way all the time, but basically, everything has a place and everything is in its place)

I want to come to your home!

Challenge ME

Find a few small areas of your home that you think I can clean and organize in 30 minutes. 
You have to live close by, and you have to let me take before and after pictures for this blog. 
I will not post names, or any information about yourself. 

This will be fun!

I know..most of you are and cleaning..she is crazy.

How can you resist..someone to clean and organize your home..come on!

Join my blog and then email me your request.
Can't wait to hear from you. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Work Pay and Must Do - A chore chart

As parents we want to teach our children about money management, doing chores around the house and being responsible for their belongings. So, we sat down to discuss how we are going to do that in our family.

Jenny says...let's make a chart, based on their age, of the chores they can do, and they can earn points for doing them each day...for ex. brush teeth, make bed...then they feel successful each day
Scott can we keep track of points, that seems like it will be a long list...
Scott says... it is important that they do not get paid for doing things around that house that they just should do, like keeping their room tidy and brushing teeth. In Suze Orman's book there is a short bit about money with kids, maybe we should stop giving them allowance and turn it into Work Pay.
Jenny says...I like that, so they work for pay, just like the real world.

Here is what we came up with, and it has been working for the last two months.

 Work Pay                             Kid A               Kid B    
 Set Dinner Table  
 Clear Dinner Table  
 Unload Dishwasher  
 Take out the trash  
 Fold one load of laundry        

 Must Do        
 Make Bed  
 Flush Toilet  
 Clean room  
 Clear your dishes

How to start...
Have fun creating a chart with your kids. Have them make a list of all the things that they are supposed to do without pay around the house (then you sit down with your spouse and pick from that list the FEW that you will start with). Then have them think of chores that will pay money (again, you will sit down later and pick a FEW). Start with a small list, and once they are successful with those, make the necessary changes. 

Work Pay: chores that any kid can do, anytime. If the garbage needs to be taken out twice a day, that is great. You want them to do the work for pay and earn as much as they can. Each chore is simple and easy to do. If they don't do a quality job, you do not pay. Each chore is worth 25 cents. Give them a check each time they complete it. When you need a chore done, you can ask, "Does anyone want work pay?"

Must Do: chores that each child must do (we have been having a problem with toilets not being flushed in our home), or they get docked 25 cents. Give them an x if they forget.

Each Week: Set a specific time when you sit down and look over the list. Add up the work pay and subtract the Must Do. That is your kid's earning for the week. Start a new chart. If they work, they get paid. If they forget a must do, they get docked. Keep it simple.

       Create the list, decide on the amount of each workpay, and keep it flexible for change.
The kids will learn math skills, family responsibility, money management all at once.

*The first week, take it easy on your kids, give them a week to adjust to the new routine.
*If you have more than one kid, this will work well to motivate the ones who do not want to work....once they see a sibling collecting all the money, they will want to work too.
*You cannot use this as a form of discipline. You cannot check them for taking out the trash and then later, when they misbehave, take away the check....they work for the pay, and you cannot take it away. This is separate from everything else.    
*It helps to figure out what each child wants to save for, so you can remind them of the object when they lose motivation for workpay.
*If your child wants to do more workpay, after the others are all done, wonderful! Leave an extra space on your chart, so you can write in the extra things you think of for them to do.

Our boys no longer forget to flush the toilet, so we can move on and replace that with something else, like hanging up their bags after school!

Good luck parents, and remember to have fun with it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Toilet Paper Holder

Everyone uses toilet paper. 
What happens when you use the last of the roll, but still need more? Your options are: rummage through the cupboard, shout to your family to bring you another roll, use the tissue or towel (anything within reach), or run, pants down, to the linen closet to get another roll. 
What if it is someone else's home? There is no way you are going to shout out that you need more.

Here is the solution to keep your family and guests happy.

Oh no, we are almost out of toilet paper...hmmm...I wonder what is in that nice container?
Ahhh, an extra roll. Perfect!
The great thing is, you can choose any style, colour or shape that will work in your bathroom. 
Just remember, it must fit one roll of toilet paper. All of these work!
Box is from HomeSense, Brown round is from Ten Thousand Villages and Tall Blue is from Ikea.(It can hold two rolls!)

If you don't like it on the back of your toilet, find another place (within arms reach of the toilet), like on the window sill! 
Here is the one in our guest bathroom, also from Ikea. 
Thank you to my mother in law for this inspiring idea. It keeps the home organized, efficient and beautiful.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jenny - The unclutterer

I think of myself as a very organized person. I do not like clutter, I have no attachment issues to things, and I love to clean (especially other peoples homes). I get a huge high from helping someone organize and clean out their front hall closet.  I know, weird. But, it is true. I look for new ways to organize all the time, and with three young sons, routines are always changing, so we are constantly seeking a new way and a better way to do things.
Erin Doland, Editor-in-Chief of the fantastic blog, describes me best when she says, "Being an unclutterer implies that a person has systems in place to handle the things he or she owns. There is a place for everything and everything is in its place. Mail doesn’t need to be cleaned off the table every night before a meal because mail doesn’t stack up on the table in the first place. An unclutterer likely has a trash can and shredder by his front door where junk mail is instantly deposited. The good mail is filed or put into a tickler system immediately.
The main difference between being someone who is just clean and someone who is an unclutterer is that unclutterers look for permanent solutions. An unclutterer will invest the elbow grease into organizing her home and office so that she saves time and energy in the future. Cleaning on its own is a Band-Aid® solution — it doesn’t solve the problem. Tidying up a space is like being a hamster in a wheel, because you’ll have to tidy up again tomorrow. Living as an unclutterer, however, means that you organize once and then maintain only when a specific item requires maintenance. (As a point of clarification: Both cleaners and unclutterers still need to sweep floors and sanitize toilets, but those tasks I call chores that we all should complete as hygienic humans.) Ultimately, an unclutterer has more time and energy to pursue his interests and passions and live the remarkable life he desires because of his organizing efforts."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It all started....

...on a 10 hour drive in our minivan. We drove through the night, so the kids could sleep. We picked up my sister for the road trip. We needed an extra driver, and she needed a vacation. It was great to have her along as we debated our personalities. Without her, we may have not discussed things so openly. Thanks sis!

The main theme: Scott is efficient, and Jenny is effective.
Both are wonderful traits to have, but when conflicts arise in our home, which way is better...mine or his?

Let me give you an example.
Jenny says..."look Scott, I got everything put away nicely in our one small storage closet."
Scott says..."that is great, but how do I get the step stool out when I need it? It's packed behind 4 boxes."
Jenny says..."That is where it fit best."
Scott says..."There has to be another way, I can't even see it there."
Jenny says..."Well, you know where it is, just move the boxes and take it out when you need it"
Scott says..."Are you kidding?"

Many of our conversations would follow the same pattern. Which drawer to put the utensils in, where to keep the napkins, how to teach the kids about money, how to plan meals, and how to save more money.
You name it, and we have debated it.
We were butting heads every single time we have a choice to make...until I realized that we were coming from different perspectives, it was hard not to feel "wrong" about my ideas, since Scott always seemed "right".

The trip we took this summer helped us solve that. Now, there is no right or wrong, no his way or my way. Scott is efficient and I am effective. We may be different, but we can work together, because we both have the same goal in mind: a happy, healthy family.

Which one are you?

Focuses on the desired resultFocuses on doing one's work in the correct manner
Seeks successesSeeks to avoid failure
End of task most importantMeans or resource to do a task most important
Oriented toward strategy and setting and keeping prioritiesOriented toward keeping the present system going
Uses a job description to define the work to be done and to set goals based on prioritiesPerforms each of the stated duties of a job description in the correct manner.
Attempts to find new ways to perform the task betterConcerned with keeping the status quo (things the way they are)
Anticipates changeReacts to change
Flexible when change requires it.Inflexible -- determined to carry out plans regardless of change.
Motivated toward growthComfortable with keeping things as they are.
Constantly giving critical evaluation of a taskProne to keeping record of what is going on.

Effective Vs. Efficient... The definition

Effective (adj.): Adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.
Efficient (adj.) Performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort.
Efficiency refers to how well you do something, whereas Effectiveness refers to how useful it is.
Effective means that something works. Efficient means that something works well.
Effective is doing the right things. Efficient is doing the things right.
In summary, 

If you don’t do the right things, but do them very well, you still are not moving toward the result you want. If you do the right things, but execute them poorly, you will end up expending more energy and thought than necessary, leaving less energy for other tasks.
The great thing is, with one of us being effective and the other being efficient, we make an excellent team.