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.

Leave the void empty sometimes

Today I don’t want to give you any answers. Instead I want to ask you some questions.

I had a discussion yesterday with a wonderful and insightful friend. We talked about why we have this innate need to fill our emotional voids with ‘stuff’, from clothes and shoes to chocolate or mindless pursuits such as TV.

So I want to ask you – what voids are you filling? What are you filling them with? Is this void-filling having the negative effect of filling your home up with things you don’t need, use or love?

Are you looking for instant gratification and sacrificing long-term happiness?  Are you afraid of empty spaces in your life? Why is that? Wouldn’t it be lovely to embrace emptiness sometimes? Accept it as a truth and let it be?

Why are those voids there? What created them? Are they good voids or bad?

Mull it over, you may find a truth in there that will help you move forward.


You’re not alone

I had an amazing night on Friday night speaking to a group of business women in Balaklava, SA. They are an intelligent, hilarious group of girls and many of them commented at the end “I’m so glad it’s not just me!”.

So I decided to write a few things down that I have found to be VERY common, but that everyone is ashamed of doing and think they are the only ones that are ‘slack’, ‘disorganised’, ‘lazy’ etc. You’re not, you’re just normal!

Most people at some stage have:

  • A pile of paper hidden away that they’re too scared to look in
  • Cleaned up in a rush, shoved it all in a shopping bag and hidden it in a spare room
  • Procrastinated despite knowing very well they are procrastinating
  • Cleaned out their car and left the bag of ‘things to bring inside’ at the back door for weeks
  • Been scared to open a drawer for fear of what they might find in it
  • Raced around for 4 hours tidying up for the cleaner
  • Lost something then found it next winter in a coat pocket
  • Kept an unfinished project long after that hobby lost its appeal
  • Kept clothes for when they fit again. One day. Even though they’d go shopping if they got  back in that size anyway.
  • Stared in dismay at a room and thought “I have no idea where to start”

By the way, I have done a few of these things myself (most of them in my pre-organised life admittedly). With the exception of the last one. After all, it’s my job to know where to start ;).

Which ones have you done? Please leave a comment and ‘fess up!!!

And no born-organised Professional Organiser friends of mine are allowed to tell us they haven’t done any of them. We don’t want to know!

What is the difference between a Professional Organiser and someone who is highly organised?

A lot of our clients experiment before hiring us – they have friends that are really organised come to their home to help them sort out their stuff. I’m sure it works sometimes, but many of those people end up coming to us because the solution just won’t ‘stick’ – they find they get back to ‘messy’ in no time at all and can’t maintain the freshly organised space.

There are a few differences between a friend or family member who is really organised, and a Professional Organiser:

  1. A PO studies systems for a living. We don’t know just one system or ‘our system’ – we know many. And we know the best situations to apply them.
  2. We’re not intimidated or overwhelmed by the volume of ‘stuff’, nor the size of the project. We have the tools and resources to get the job done, with your dignity well and truly intact.
  3. We do not pass judgement. At all.
  4. We’re objective. This is a high value characteristic. We do not have the weight of emotion holding us down.
  5. We’re there for YOU. We have no hidden agendas. We are the client advocate first and foremost. We’re there with your wellbeing in mind and nothing else.
  6. We organise people, not things. We deal with you and what’s going on in your life. The stuff gets organised as a result of that.

5 steps to a more organised child

Some kids are born organised, many are not. Here are some tips to help your child learn how to be a bit more organised. It will help both of you!

  1. Start as young as you can. Starting at around the age of three will set your child up for a much more organised life, even if their personality doesn’t particularly support it. You’ll be doing them a big favour in the long run. Even if you’ve missed that age, however, it’s never too late to start!
  2. Set up routines. Have morning routines, after school routines and evening routines. Ensure they have a visual reminder (a checklist or chart) to remind them what their tasks are.
  3. Be consistent. The best way to develop new habits is to do them at the same time, every day, and preferably in the same order. You’ll need to put in some hard yards with constant reminders initially, but eventually they’ll be doing their routines without reminders. It’s worth the work involved.
  4. Don’t do it for them. If you’re finding you’re reminding them, doing things for them when they forget, or re-doing their jobs – you’re enabling disorganisation. They can’t learn new habits unless they actually undertake the tasks. Let them learn the consequences of forgetting their lunch, or not putting their dirty clothes in the hamper. Let them also learn the satisfaction of doing the job themselves, without it being corrected.
  5. Set up their space to support them. Ensure they don’t have too many belongings for their space, and make sure all their possessions have a home. It will make it a lot easier for them to maintain an organised space that way.