Reba McEntire Singer,
Songwriter, and Actress
Reba McEntire Singer,
Songwriter, and Actress
Guest post by my colleague Nancy Borg
How many times have you said “I’ll get to this or that in my spare time?” Too often, I fear. We cram our schedules with jam-packed to-do’s and we never seem to get there.
Unfortunately, the demise of "spare time" is the by-product of being popularly “busy” in today’s culture. On a good day, we take on too much and don’t carve out sufficient time to get it all done, so it spills into the next day. And on and on it goes. We all struggle with time on a daily basis, and it’s seems highly unlikely that we’ll end up with any extra.
Gone are the days of "spare" time, it seems. But is it a lost commodity? It doesn’t have to be. What if I told you that you can reclaim it? Here are some ideas to chew on:
If you don’t schedule spare time, it’s never going to happen. So just like booking the haircut, picking up the dry cleaning or getting the car washed, add spare time onto your to-do list too. Maybe a time to catch up on reading, enjoy a DVD, call an old friend or just plant yourself on the couch and chill. Don’t you deserve that?
Evaluate the Have To’s and the Want-To's
Think about those things that have to get done… but not necessarily by YOU. Delegate and make room for your want-to’s. Beyond the non-negotiables, create space for your sanity. It’s essential for life-balance.
Consider the Obstacles
Can you define what's in your way? Is it your time-management skills? I frequently write about managing being “busy” because poor time-management habits usually heighten anxiety and exacerbate disorganization. Sharpening those skills can free up valuable time. Is working long hours the obstacle? Does your workday come home with you? Working from home can easily impede on spare time. Or could technology be one of your time robbers? As if the days aren’t busy enough, our affinity to stay connected on or off the computer is a huge distraction. Identifying the cause is the first step to finding solutions.
Tweak the Busy
If you’re overwhelmed and feeling out of control, perhaps it's a red flag that you may really be too busy. Align your schedule with your prioritizes. Adjust. Change what’s no longer working for you. Life changes readily, so tweaking is an ongoing and necessary process.
Remember, spare time is “your” time. When or how you choose to use it, is your prerogative. What’s important is that you find some. I revel in my spare time and know when I require it. This is a time that I catch the wind in my sails, and I capitalize on these opportunities. For me, I’m a summer gal and so my stolen spare moments will probably be outside somewhere with blue skies above and the sun shining brightly overhead. In summertime I'm more apt to get up and be ready to work hard… but play hard too. Maybe your season is autumn or winter when you can stay indoors, hunker down and focus on what's most important. Whatever your favorite season, reclaiming spare time by scheduling it on your calendar is doable and it's important to your health and life balance! What will YOU choose to do with yours?
Nancy Borg is a Professional Organizer, and owner of Move The Mess. She specializes in Residential and Home-office organization. Nancy blogs about all things organized. She provides her readers with tips and strategies to help navigate through day to day. This article appeared originally on her blog and is being shared with permission.
Guest blog post by my friend and colleague Hazel Thornton
“Friends, Acquaintances and Strangers” is a popular method of de-cluttering, introduced by Judith Kolberg in her book Conquering Chronic Disorganization.
This game can be played with any category of clutter, but I most often use it with clients whose bookshelves are overflowing. (Not to mention their floors and other surfaces.) Readers are loath to part with their precious books! And, as a reader myself, I can totally relate. But readers desire more space, and peaceful surroundings too. What to do?
For any book, ask yourself which category it belongs to:
Friends: These are favorites from younger days; gifts from, or reminders of, loved ones; books you read, or refer to, over and over. I personally don’t care how long it’s been since you read them, or whether you intend to read them again. If they make you feel good to look at, display them in such a way that you can enjoy them. Don’t hide them away in boxes, or behind other stuff like other books and knick-knacks!
Acquaintances: This is a hard-to-decide category which I like to simply skip. I find that my clients usually make plenty of progress if we focus on categories that they DO know and CAN decide on their own, or with my guidance. Agonizing over a hard-to-make decision can sometimes be a waste of time.
Strangers: These are gifts you were never interested in to begin with; books you really thought you would read but never did; or maybe you don’t even remember where you got them. Donate them. Or, recycle them if they are in poor condition. But don’t let them steal precious bookshelf space!
Houseguests: I came up with this category as a way to say, “We had a good time together…thanks for visiting, but it’s time for you to go now. Bye, bye!” It includes book that have overstayed their welcome -- most old textbooks, outdated reference books, books relating to a long-abandoned hobby -- and books in poor condition.
Enemies: My client came up with this category the other day, inspiring me to write this article. In her case “enemies” were books related to her divorce. Although they were still sitting on her shelves, it was only because she had been preoccupied with other things. Now that we were focusing on her overflowing bookshelves, she had no problem at all parting with them!
Rather than go book-by-book, which can be exhausting, what I like to do is say to clients: “Look at the shelf; do you see any Strangers?” Or, “See if you can find 5 Houseguests.” Or, “Let’s fill one box with donations and then quit for the day.” That gets the ball rolling.
Take a look at your own bookshelves. First, do you have enough shelves? Maybe that’s the problem. Pull off some Strangers, Houseguests, and Enemies and donate them, if they are in good condition, to your local Friends of the Library (check their donation guidelines first), or Goodwill. If inspired, tackle some Acquaintances too.
Look – now your Friends are more noticeable, accessible, and easier to enjoy! And there’s room for a few new Friends...or decorative items…or space, simply space.
Steve Maraboli Author and Speaker
Guest blog post by Sofia Lewis
We may dream of massive bedrooms, with king-sized beds and lavish design featuring the latest in furniture options and diversity. Well, if all of this is beyond your reach and you are stuck in the smaller scale of the world, there is no need to make plans to move out. Thanks to creative furniture designers, most small bedroom challenges can be overcome. If you cannot have what you want, make the best of what you have.
Surely when it comes to bedrooms, above all else you want to have a nice and comfortable bed. It is the beating heart of any bedroom and thankfully, limited space is no longer a hindrance. There are numerous options you can explore and implement, depending on your taste and what works best for you. A large number of design solutions offer both comfort and style.
Let’s see some ideas: Wall bed – also known as pull down or fold down bed, nicknamed ‘Murphy bed’ after William Lawrence Murphy, who was the first to patent the design. This is a bed that can be stored vertically against a wall or inside a cabinet, which allows truly effective usage of limited space. Many wall beds now come with a whole set built around them, including shelves, desks and even wardrobe flanking the construction. There is really a great diversity in design and additional possibilities surrounding the choice of getting a wall bed. Any of them is very important for a small bedroom, because you want to maximize the utility out of every square meter. Think of what you can do with the space this bed opens when it is hidden. It will occupy space for limited time every day. After that there is free space waiting to be used as you see fit.
Trundle bed – another smart idea that utilizes space well. This is a bed with rollers that can roll under a sofa or a bigger bed for storage. The option allows you to have 2 beds in one, and is considered an alternative to bunk beds. Some design ideas allow great flexibility. In case you do not need the second bed, the mattress can be removed and the space used for storage instead.
Upper bed is a misleading term, since often times it can be in fact a sofa with the characteristics of a trundle bed. A sofa with the added option of a bed under it is viable option in the quest for space-saving solutions. Bunk beds – for bedrooms of two, this is usually the first thing that comes to mind. These are two beds stacked one over the other, supported by four pillars. A ladder is used to allow access from the floor to the upper bed, which is usually surrounded by railing to prevent the person from falling out.
Bunks beds are the best option when it comes to choosing a bed for two children, and given all other things you will have to put in that room, chances are your floor space will be highly limited. There is a serious problem you might encounter – who gets the top bunk!
Futons – do not be fooled by the name – modern design has expanded on the idea of having a mattress on the floor for sleep, which can be then folded to free space for the rest of the day. The westernized version includes a frame, which the mattress is put on, allowing it to serve other functions as well. It can be viewed as a bed, which can transform into a sofa for example.
A lot of design solutions can be implemented to help your small bedroom serve its duties. It is important to keep in mind one thing – even a small room can be made cozy and comfortable. Just use your creativity to make it so.
Author Bio: Sofia Lewis is a passionate freelance article writer and blogger. She is inspired by home improvement projects and writes about cleaning, home organizing, home decoration and many more home related topics.
Vince Lombardi 1913-1970
Legendary Football Coach
"Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you."
Wayne Dyer, Author and Speaker
"Oh that's so cute!"
"Cute" is one of those words we women tend to assign to all manner of things from a fluffy puppy to peep-toe heels and everything in between. In my younger days I was purely a "function over form" kinda gal. But as I got older, I began to appreciate the value of having nice things in my life. Hey just because something is useful and functional doesn't mean it can't be... well, cute too.
Here are some great examples of functional storage pieces that not only get the job done, but look good doing it. Sorta like Bruce Willis in every movie he's ever made.
Face creams, hair implements, cooking utensils, and greeting cards and just some of the possibilities these stoneware and pottery pieces are holding. I just love that rather than sitting on a display shelf gathering dust, they're all being used every day and bringing function and beauty into this home!
What "cute" and functional pieces do you love in your home?
Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865, Sixteenth President of the United States
"Your self-image controls the results in your life. You can become the sort of person and live the sort of life you want by deciding who and what you want to be, and then acting like that person and doing the things they do. Improving your self- image is the first step towards improving your results."
International Best Selling Author: Managing Mothering
Would you rather get a dental filling or a root canal? If you’ve ever had a root canal, you already know a filling is always the better option! They're much less expensive and less painful so it pays to take care of a cavity before it requires more serious action. The same is true for your home.
Several years ago, a gentleman I know was traveling over the holidays and came home to discover his house flooded to the tune of more than $40,000 in property damage. While he was away, his water heater had failed and water flowed unabated into his home for two weeks. Yikes! Not only were the repair bills devastating, the water bill from the city was no treat either. Talk about adding insult to injury!
Although you can never completely mitigate every water risk to your home and property, there are steps you can take to greatly reduce it. Here are five ways you can act now that will help you avoid a crisis and much larger expense down the road.
1929-1993, Actress and Humanitarian
"Many of us are afraid to follow our passions, to pursue what we want most because it means taking risks and even facing failure. But to pursue your passion with all your heart and soul is success in itself. The greatest failure is to have never really tried."
If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. Birds of a feather flock together. To these well known phrases I'd like to add my own:
"Messy begets messy."
Sure it's not as poetic or clever as the oldies I mentioned, but the concept is the same.
In a messy disorganized space, it's difficult to find things and put them away again, so it's natural to adapt to that environment because it's less effort than creating order. You tend to go with the messy flow, which contributes to and proliferates the mess.
Conversely, when a space is organized and neat, it's easy to find and put things away, so you tend to keep it that way because it's easier.
The moral of this short story? STAYING decluttered and organized is easier than GETTING decluttered and organized, so ask for help to get organized and you'll find it's easier to stay that way on your own.
To find a Professional Organizer near you, visit the National Association of Professional Organizers website and click on this image at the upper right. We're here to help!
"I dare you to be a lot more confident and stay on the bridge when everybody else is jumping off of it."
Singer, Songwriter, Philanthropist
"A great burden was lifted from my shoulders the day I realized that no one owes me anything."
Harry Browne 1933-2006
Author and Politician
Parenting is all about allowing your kids to grow into healthy, responsible, mature young adults in a safe and loving home. To that end, knowing when to say no to your children is crucial, not only for their healthy development, but for you as well. Nobody really wants to be me Mean Mommy. However, children crave boundaries and structure, so you can relax in the knowledge that saying no to your kids won’t turn you into Joan Crawford. To the contrary, setting and enforcing boundaries with your children conveys to your kids a sense of consistency, which is exactly what their little psyches need to feel safe.
My mom was a pretty tough cookie, so I know from experience that the hard lessons are the best (and most memorable) ones. Did your son leave for school this morning forgetting his clothes for football practice? Did your daughter forget her trumpet again? In the past, perhaps you’ve dropped everything and driven the items to the school, but next time say no. Tough as it may be to leave your child twisting in the figurative wind, these really are the teaching moments.
When you stop rescuing them from their own careless small mistakes, they learn to be more mindful because they don’t want to make that same mistake again. More importantly, they learn these lessons on the small stuff, rather than after they leave home and realize you aren’t there to fix every mistake they make. Best to teach 'em early.
Now if your kids aren’t old enough to get themselves ready for school, their mindfulness may not be your issue. Perhaps you’re dealing with tempers instead. It’s easy to give in when they pitch a fit to get their own way and you’d do almost anything to make the noise stop. Resist it, young Skywalker! That’s what they’re betting on. Remaining calm when your kids act out is definitely the harder choice, but it benefits you both in the long haul. Talk it out, ask about their feelings, engage them, but do not cave to the tantrum because it's easier. By holding firm in a loving way, you retain your parental authority, they learn that you can’t be manipulated, and amazingly, they learn that their parent is strong. And your kids need to know you're strong.
If your parental resolve has gone off the rails lately and you’ve caved in to your kids’ every desire and tantrum, you can get back on track again by re-booting their expectations. Choose one small “no” at a time rather than instituting a shock-and-awe “things are gonna change around here” tactic. One caveat: pick the hill you want to die on carefully. In the grand scheme of things, not everything is worth fussing and fighting over and being a kid is a hard thing. If he wants to wear his Spiderman pajamas to school, who cares really? He'll figure it out eventually.
Bottom line? You have no reason to feel guilty when you say no to your kids. Boundaries = LOVE AND CONCERN. Your kids are counting on you to communicate limits about what is acceptable behavior and establish consequences for what isn’t. They desperately need to know the lay of the land in your family. Sure, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth sometimes, but when they react poorly to your boundaries, try not to take it personally. No matter what they do, trust yourself. You’re still the parent and you really are smarter than a fifth grader.