For the serial task-jumper …

You know how I’m always on about how unproductive it is to multi-task, or to switch from task to task before they’ve been competed?

I’m also a fan of working with your personality, so here’s something you can try if you really love the variety of multi-tasking but know it’s not getting stuff finished.

Choose 2 or 3 jobs that you want to finish by the end of the day; no more than 3.

Now, allow yourself to jump (as infrequently as you can manage) from task to task, but NEVER deviating from those original 3 projects.

You should find you enjoy your day more AND get stuff done!

Weekend Weightlifter – camera check

It’s the last weekend before Christmas, so it’s a good time to grab all of your recording devices (phones, cameras, video cameras, iPads etc – whatever you’re going to use) and make sure they have storage space on them and have a full charge.  If they take batteries that might need changing, ensure you have spares for emergencies.

You have all weekend, so you may want to take all the photos and videos off, file them and back them up, too. That way you have  a fresh start with completely empty cards.

Merry Christmas, and enjoy capturing those special moments!

Clutter-free gift ideas

We all have too much stuff and not enough quality time these days. Rather than make it worse this Christmas, why don’t you have a go at reversing it a little? What better way than to get some gifts that won’t clutter up the lives of your loved ones. After all, who needs more stuff? Here’s some ideas to get you thinking:

  • 20121120-100031.jpgMovie tickets
  • A dinner voucher (or you can combine them and get a movie/dinner package)
  • A baby-sitting voucher (again, combined with dinner and a movie would be awesome for busy parents)
  • A voucher for some organising or decluttering (from Clear Space, of course!)
  • A voucher for an assistant-for-a-day/week
  • Tickets to a theatre show or sporting event that is meaningful for them
  • A home-made “I’m your slave for a day” voucher (or if you prefer..”I’m your personal assistant for a day”)
  • A donation to a charity (see Oxfam Unwrapped or World Vision Smiles to buy a goat, a school kit, or blankets on behalf of someone – there are hundreds of gifts to choose from)
  • Flowers delivered every month for a year (or even once is just as nice..and far less expensive!)
  • An annual membership for their favourite sporting club
  • A car detailing package
  • A spring-clean service for their home
  • A gardening service (don’t do this if they love their gardening!)
  • Singing lessons
  • Music lessons (guitar, drums, piano etc)
  • A massage
  • Dancing classes
  • Art classes
  • Gym membership
  • Voucher for a treatment of their choice at a beauty salon
  • iTunes (or similar) gift card
  • A homemade frozen or fresh dinner home-delivered (great for new or extra-busy mums)
  • A zoo membership (South Australians click here for Zoos SA membership details)
  • A ticket for an adventure such as a ride in a racing car, vintage fighter jet, jet boat, hot-air balloon, sky-diving (but be sure they’re up for it!) or something milder like a hike, canoeing or a day-trip boat cruise
  • An opportunity for them to meet their hero. For my husband’s 40th I hired Stuart Dew from Port Adelaide FC to make an appearance at his party. He will never forget it!
  • Take them out for the day and let them do whatever they want to do, eat whatever they want to eat and go whereever they want to go (great for kids)
  • Hide a picnic lunch somewhere for the two of you and give them the GPS coordinates so they have to find it (make it a scenic route!)
  • Photography classes
  • A session with a stylist
  • A coupon that entitles them a few hours of your time helping them organising their digital photos
  • A week of full-time housekeeping (yes, please!)
  • A week of a personal chef (again…yes, please!)
  • Take them out volunteering for a day with you (you have no idea just how much you’ll gain in return)
  • An e-book reader (so they can reduce their book clutter)

All of these things either save time or space or give a unique experience and memory. Far better than adding to our cluttered lives, don’t you think?

 

The 2012 Christmas Countdown Planner

Source: http://www.design-decor-staging.com

Back due to popular request is the Clear Space Christmas Countdown Planner. Download it here: Clear Space 2012 Christmas countdown calendar

It’s a simple “one task a day” planner that isn’t fancy or complicated. It doesn’t promote perfectionism, nor does it have unrealistic expectations of you.

It’s just a no-frills, get-it-done kind of thing!

Enjoy!

Weekend Weightlifter – the “Not Ours” spot

I’m going to start a weekly thing – a little weekend project for you to undertake each week that will lift a weight off your shoulders.  I’m calling it the Weekend Weightlifter!

This weekend – the Not Ours spot (or box, or basket…). If you don’t have a home for things that don’t belong to you, you need one of these!

Some of the things that can go into it include: 

  • library books & books borrowed from friendsbaskets
  • borrowed DVDs
  • salad bowls and platters left after a dinner party
  • hair clips, water bottles, hats or socks etc left over after a playdate

Create a home (it needs to be fairly accessible if frequent-access things like library books will be stored there) and use a basket or tub to contain the items.

Every time you have a visitor, check your box to see if they have anything in there that belongs to them. Likewise if you visit someone – check the box first so you can return their items to them.

Report back when you have created your “home away from home” spot. Feel free to post pics of it so we can celebrate with you!

How to Shop from Your Own Wardrobe

Photo courtesy of Lookbook.nu

This is a guest post by Natalie Tucker. I needed help with my Fashion Embargo (it’s really tough!) so I have called in the expert!

We have enough clothes in our wardrobe right now to last us the next 3 years, but we see a model wearing something fabulous and of course she looks amazing (why wouldn’t she, this is what she is paid for) so we go out and buy that exact same item or even the entire outfit.

Okay, so do you now look amazing? Or rather, you feel completely depleted because somehow it just does not look the same on you?

STOP! Let’s not do it anymore!…it’s time to make a stand!

Why don’t we try only wearing what suits us by using clothes that are currently hanging in our wardrobe, you can do it…so come on.

First of all, take some time to make a date with yourself and your wardrobe, spend 3 hrs on a Sunday afternoon trying absolutely everything on. Below is a guide of items that will have you looking up to the moment, interesting and most of all effortlessly stylish, yes, EFFORTLESSLY STYLISH! Because we all know that really, this does actually take a great deal of effort.

  • Pull out all of your interesting tops, printed, unique design, unusual collars, fabulous fabrics, button down shirts and lay them on the bed. These are your foundation pieces because they are worn closest to your portrait area (your face). Everyone looks here and often, you never get a second chance to make that first impression!
  • Grab a blazer…now this could even be just a denim jacket, we all have at least one of those. Try and find one in a colour that makes your top STAND OUT…this means that it will not be black on black or grey on grey. Harsh, I know, but colour is what keeps life interesting.
  • Next step, put out all of your pants, skirts or jeans. As long as they are in a different colour from both your interesting top and your blazer/denim jacket,you will look fabulous. You now have a great ensemble…but wait, there is more…
  • NOW TO FINISH! A shoe or boot that is related to your top. It can be the same colour, have a print relationship or just simply be the same depth intensity (dark top, dark shoe…light top, light shoe). If your shoes do not meet this criteria, just find one in your hair colour, you will be book ending your outfit with pizzazz. If you are blonde, in Winter, tan will do the same trick. If you have dark hair, mahogany adds that spice of life.

If you would like to receive some more visual inspiration, just head on over to my Defined Image facebook page. I will give you a daily pic of what I am wearing and maybe, just maybe, you may have some of these items already hanging in your very own closet. I hope to see you there.

6 Quick Tips for Back-to-School

Going back to school after the summer holidays brings mixed feelings. Personally, I’m sad to see the holiday feeling leave us – I love the holidays. However, many kids are ready to get back into routine, and quite often their parents are more than keen for that, too!

Here are some tips for kicking off the year in an organised manner.

  1. Reinstate (or introduce) a morning routine. We keep ours during the holidays, but have a more relaxed version. If we didn’t keep it, I’m sure the kids would never clean their teeth! The morning routine should hand responsibility of their own self-care over to your children, encouraging their independence and easing your mental and physical workload.
  2. Similarly, ensure you have an after-school routine in place, even if it’s as simple as putting their bag in its home and handing over empty lunch boxes and any notices from school.
  3. Make sure they are getting enough sleep. If your family is anything like mine, they’re often in the pool until 9pm at night during the holidays. This works just fine because we let them sleep in to compensate. Once school starts, however, our kids need at least 10 hours of sleep a night to function at their best, and because they have to get up early to go to school, a 10pm bedtime is a bit late to squeeze all those hours in! Ensure they get back into the routine of a healthy bed time as soon as possible (depending on your child, you may need a week or more of transition – ours cope okay with a couple of days).
  4. Set up a system for organising your paperwork so that the school notices don’t get lost or forgotten. There’s nothing like having your child turn up for school in uniform and everyone else is dressed up as a pirate. Your child will take some time to forgive you that little slip-up!
  5. Have a home for bags, sports uniforms, shoes, hats, sunscreen and library books, and help reinforce the habit of keeping them in their homes. You’ll need to issue lots of reminders before it becomes second-nature to them, but it does happen.
  6. Introduce Menu Planning into your own routine. It will help ensure you never run out of bread and have to resort to buying lunches. It will save a lot of money and reduce morning stress.

What are your own tips for making Back-to-school time organised and stress-free?

 

How do you STAY organised?

Many people work hard to get organised. They do a big cull, pull everything out and create homes for their stuff. They make it all neat and tidy and breath a big sigh of relief when it’s done.  However, they all face a similar struggle once they finish de-cluttering and organising their space. How do they maintain it? How do they avoid having to do it all again in a year’s time?

They  feel a little silly at this stage, because they think it should be easy once it’s all organised. But it’s not – you still need to work on it. Your space will not change in the long-term if you don’t change, no matter how clever you are!

This is where routines and habits come into play.  Organised people are organised partly because it’s the way their brain works, but also because they have built up a repertoire of habits that positively reinforce their organisation.  There is more than one way to build habits, but my favourite is by introducing them through routines.

When you introduce a routine, try to think about what you always do out of habit already, and ‘stick’ new habits onto it. If you always turn on the coffee machine as soon as you wake up, add a positive habit to that routine such as checking your calendar while you wait for it to brew. Once you have a habit ‘sticking’ (around a month of trying should get it working okay), add another. Keep going until you’re a well-oiled machine.  You’ll free up your brain, have a more organised day, more organised spaces and be able to enjoy life a little more.

Share with us – what habits and routines do you have that help you stay organised? My favourite is choosing my next day’s outfit the night before – it saves so much time and reduces stress a great deal!

Getting organised for tax time

Are you scared of doing your tax? Overwhelmed by the enormity of the task? Wouldn’t you feel wonderful if this year you had it all wrapped up by the end of July?

The end of the financial year may not be looming large quite yet, but those that like to have their tax all sorted by the 1st of July are already getting organised for it.

If you’re completely overwhelmed by how you’re going to get this year’s tax organised, these simple steps can help.

  1. Make a 2010/2011 file – it can be a box, a manila folder or a binder. It doesn’t matter what you put it in really, so long as you have one.
  2. Write a list of paperwork that needs to be included so you can check them off when they go in the file. Include: receipts, charity donations, utility bills, group certificates, health insurance paperwork and dividend statements, among others. If you can get a list from your accountant that would be ideal.
  3. Go through your piles of paperwork (or filing cabinet, if you have it all organised) and collect up what you’re missing. Do it in small bursts (15 minutes or so a day) if your piles are largely unsorted.
  4. Add to the file for the next month or so, then at the end of June sort it all into groups (income, expenditure) and it’s all ready to do that return on time!

Don’t strive for a ‘perfect’ file. All it needs to be is all together. It’s as simple as that!

(note: this advice is for those in the Australian tax system. If you’re in another country use it as a guide, but be aware you’ll need to customise it to suit your nation’s terminology and tax laws).

Meal planning 101

Deciding what to cook  can be a stressful activity for many.  Late afternoon heralds the time to head to the kitchen to try to decide what to cook. You open the pantry and stand there staring, waiting for the food to jump out and scream “cook me!”. Of course it doesn’t, so you then head over to the fridge to see if it’s going to cooperate better. Nope; it’s silent as well, not being very helpful at all. It happens in households everywhere!

Meal planning takes the stress out of deciding what to cook, as well as providing other benefits, and this is how it works:

  1. Clean out the fridge and take stock of what needs to be used
  2. Do the same in the pantry
  3. Refer to your recipes and old favourites and write a list of all the meals you’re going to have for the week and assign them a day.  It helps to include the whole family; everyone can choose a favourite meal to include (and it helps to have finicky toddlers choose some meals, or at least which day they’re on, because they’re more likely to then eat it without fuss – I know this from personal experience!)
  4. Write the meals on the family calendar, or on a note on the fridge
  5. Write your shopping list based on the ingredients for each meal
  6. Add in other extras such as lunch foods and cleaning products
  7. Shop with purpose (no impulse buying!)
  8. Enjoy the freedom of knowing what’s for dinner each night.

Another great habit to do is every sixth week or so, buy only fresh fruit and vegetables, bread and dairy, and plan the week’s meals based on what’s in the pantry. It helps keep the volume of food down and you can maintain a more organised pantry as well as reducing wastage.