Making changes – my non-resolutions for the start of the New Year

It I that time of year where many people make resolutions to change something in their life. And in a few weeks, those resolutions will probably be forgotten. That is precisely why I don’t like making New Year’s resolutions.

Image result for resolutionsAccording to a quick internet search, about 45% of Americans will make one (or more) resolutions this New Year. The top three resolutions are losing weight, start exercising and stopping smoking. Other popular resolutions include better money management and debt reduction.

My concern about not following through on a resolution is definitely supported by my online search.

Resolution length:

  • Past the first week: 75%
  • Past 2 weeks: 71%
  • Past one month: 64%
  • After 6 months: 46%

In 2013, I posted about New Year’s resolutions. I refused to call it a resolution, but I wanted to lose about 5 lbs or at the very least slow down the weight gain. And if you look back at my other posts, weight gain (and counting calories to lose weight) have been the topic of several posts. Just so you know, the counting calorie thing does work. I did lose 13 pounds in 12 weeks. But the holidays hit and bad habits crept back up.

As for that non-resolution from 2013, I can’t say whether I stuck with it our not. But one of my top non-resolutions for this year is…you guessed it. I would like to lose weight…oh and starting exercising would probably help me get in shape. But the memories of all those times where I start a program or plan and then get off of it as soon as I get busy or sick flash in my head.

So here are some things I would like to do in the upcoming year. And no, I will not call them resolutions as I don’t want them to fail.

Lose Weight

Image result for healthy choicesUgh. This again. Yes, even though I have successfully lost weight in the past, my problem is reverting to my bad habits as soon as I stop watching what I eat. So, I cannot go back to counting calories because as soon as I stop, any weight I loss will probably come back. This means I need to look at ways to change my behavior.

My worst habit is snacking/eating when I am not hungry so that is the behavior I am going to try and change. If I can make some low-calorie or healthier options at the same time that will be a bonus.

Exercising

I have never really enjoyed exercising. But I know I lead a pretty sedentary life. When Jase was in kindergarten, we walked to school every day – pretty much no matter whether it was cold or hot outside. I think we ended up only driving twice that year and it was due to rain. When I needed to go to the school, I walked. Fast forward to now and I find many reasons for us to drive rather than walk. And that lack of walking to the school consistently has taken a toll on my fitness.

It would be impractical of me to think that I am all of a sudden going to love exercising or find the time for a good long work out. Instead, I think I am going to aim for 10 to 15-minute blocks – at least once a day and to start walking to the kids’ schools more often.

Organizing

Image result for organizingFor two years in a row I participated in the 52-week challenge that helps you organize your house by doing one task/area each week. It really did help. But some of the areas need more work. I have already cleaned off ½ my desk and gone through all the clothes in my closet, eliminating those items that don’t fit or I don’t like anymore. But there are a few other areas – my dresser and the other half of my desk – that need some organizing. My goal is to break these projects down into smaller steps and work on them in the evenings while watching TV.

Now whether I can keep up or accomplish anything on these non-resolutions, we will just have to wait and see.

For those of you who made a New Year’s resolution, here are few tips gleaned off the internet to help you achieve them:

  • Make only 1 resolution
  • Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to set your goal (Might be too late for that one.)
  • Don’t attempt previously failed resolutions
  • Don’t base your goal on what everyone else is doing
  • Break your goal into a series of time-based steps
  • Make your plans and progress concrete by writing it down
  • Tell your friends and family what you are aiming for
  • Regularly remind yourself of the benefits
  • Give yourself small rewards for achieving each step
  • Expect small set-backs, and don’t make these a reason to give up altogether

As you can see, I made a few mistakes already by picking three areas instead of one and by picking areas that I have failed in before. I think I will just ignore these tips and stick with my three areas and see how it goes. I’ll plan to do an update at the end of February and let you know if I kept up with any of these.

Update on the 52-week Organizing Challenge

At the end of last year, I announced my intention to take part in the 52-Week Organizing Challenge. Today begins week 22. I posted an update on the first eight weeks in February and reported it was going well.

Since then…well, let’s just say it hasn’t been going as well as it was in the beginning when I was all gung-ho about it. There have been a few weeks where I am too busy to even look at the challenge. And as before, some weeks are more helpful than others. I spent part of May getting caught up on some challenges.

While in the beginning, the challenge seemed to be about purging and organizing my kitchen, the next weeks were about the dreaded paper organizing.

Here is an update on weeks 9 through 21.  (Sorry it is so long. Perhaps I shouldn’t go 12 weeks between updates.)

Week 9 – Addresses and Contact Info – We have everything in Microsoft Outlook. I took this time to purge old addresses and add in our doctors, pharmacy and a few other contacts that we were missing. Easy-peasy job.

IMG_3293Week 10 – Mail – Another easy week where you were supposed to find a way to handle all the mail that comes in.  To help rid some of the piles on my desk, I bought a file organizer (right) and labeled out where documents that come across my desk should go. And I added an inbox to my desk. Now I just have to make sure I actually clean it out.

Week 11 – Paying bills – This was another easy week. I already have a set day to pay bills (Wednesday). And now that I have a Bill to Pay folder (set up from last week), I won’t be losing bills in the piles of paper on my desk. The key is to get into the habit of filing the paid bills afterwards. (Ugh…I hate filing.)

Week 12 – Receipts and Tax Documents – This is one that didn’t seem too important. We hardly ever keep receipts unless it was for a big purchase. And we don’t keep receipts for tax purposes (except with my husband’s business.) I guess we may find out we regret this later, but if we haven’t needed them so far, I don’t see why I should start collecting them now.

Week 13 – Filing System – I did mention I hate filing, right? Well, I do hate it. I have a filing system, but the files are overstuffed as I keep putting things in but not purging them at the end of the year. So this week took quite a bit longer (and I admit, I am not done yet. I keep putting it off.)

Week 14 – Email and Digital information – Boy, do I need this one. I have a habit of keeping a lot of e-mail in my inbox. (You never know when you might need it again, right?) So, I made some folders to control the massive amounts of emails and am working on going through everything. I also made sure our backup for the computer is working properly.

Week 15 – Magazines & Newspapers – This wasn’t a big week for me. We don’t get any magazines. My mom gives me some once in a while, but I usually go through them and then put into the recycling bin. The same thing goes for the newspaper. I read it in the morning, and then it is in the recycling bin. I hardly ever keep an article out of either the magazines or the newspaper.

Week 16 – Passwords & Manuals/warranties – I already had a system for keeping up with passwords. My manuals and warranties were in a file, but it needed to be cleaned out of products we no longer had.

Week 17 – Home Office – Finally, a decluttering mission. And one that I still need to finish. I am so ready for a paper-less society. This week was all about decluttering your desk and organizing the top side of it.

Week 18 – Emergency Preparedness – We didn’t have much done in this area. We use to have a fire extinguisher, but it had since expired. I ordered two more (one for the kitchen and one for our upstairs office). We also ordered a fire escape ladder for Lexie’s room as it is the only one that doesn’t have an easy way out.

Week 19 – Cleaning Schedule – This week was really one of the weeks where I caught up on the challenges that I missed. I set up a basic cleaning schedule when I first had Jase and have stuck to it even 10 years later. (Monday – bathrooms, Tuesday – the kitchen and the kitchen floor, Wednesday is for paying bills and cleaning the living room floor, Thursday is for laundry and vacuuming the upstairs and Friday is for any other cleaning project.)

Week 20 – Bathroom – Declutter and get rid of those half-full bottles that you never use…that was the key this week. We are bad about holding onto things “in case we need them.” So I purged a lot this week and organized all three bathrooms.

Week 21 – Medicine/First Aid Supplies – I am usually pretty good about getting rid of expired medicine so this was an easy week. Both medicine cabinets are cleaned up. And I updated our first-aid kit.

So as you can see, some weeks were better than others. I also have small list of things I still need to finish from some of the past weeks. Here is to keeping at the challenge, so I have a more organized house by the end of the year.

Update on the 52-week Organizing Challenge

At the end of last year, I announced my intention to take part in the 52-Week Organizing Challenge. Today begins week 9. So far, I must say it is going well.  Some weeks have been more helpful than others and some of taken more time than others.

I wish I had thought to take some before and after shots. I will say that most weeks the organizing did prompt me to go buy something – a bin (or several bins) or a binder – to complete the work.

Here is what has been covered so far.

Week 1 – Kitchen Counters – Stuff always seems to pile up on the counters in the kitchen and I am not just talking about the dirty dishes that should have been put in the dishwasher but weren’t because the dishwasher hasn’t been emptied.

Not only did I clean off the counters, I worked on a system to ensure they don’t become cluttered again. (That means I have to actually empty the dishwasher first thing in the morning so we can fill it up as the day goes on.) So far…it is working great and even my husband loves how they look without all that clutter.

Week 2 – Kitchen Drawers and Cabinets – I have a lot of cabinets and this took a while to complete. I did not get this all done in one week but rather tackled a few of the cabinets on some of the less instense organizing weeks.

Even though it isn’t part of the challenge, I also took this time to wipe down all the cabinets and drawers. I also tried to be ruthless with getting rid of stuff that we do not use. I have a bad habit of wanting to keep things…just in case.

CIMG3610Week 3 – Pantry/Food Storage – Half of our pantry is for food and the rest holds craft stuff, pool toys, and outdoor toys for the kids. Over the years it has become very disorganized so it was nice to re-do it. CIMG3612I put all the food on one side and all the “other” stuff on the other side. This is where I had to buy the most bins.

Week 4 – Refrigerator and Freezer – An easy two day project – one day for each. And it was nice to get rid of the expired food which luckily I did have too much of. Again, this was a good time to actually clean and wipe down both the fridge and freezer.

Week 5 – Recipes – I weeded through the cookbooks and tried to purge the ones we don’t use. I also had a stack of recipes I had printed or clipped from magazines. They recommend you go through those and pull out the ones you aren’t ever going to make. The rest were put in that binder I had to go buy. But the area is much more organized.

Week 6 – Recycling/Trash cans – This was an easy week as we already have a recycling system set up – though we did decide to add a recycling bin to the office upstairs. I used this week to clean the trash cans. Yuck!

Week 7 – Coupons – Not much to do here. I don’t clip a lot of coupons as there never seem to be coupons for the products we buy.  And I already had a filing system for the few I do clip.

Week 8 – Meal Planning/Buying Groceries – Another week without much for me to do as we have a meal planning and grocery buying system in place.

So as you can see, some weeks were better than others. But I like that I get a new task to do each week. It fits in with all the other things I have to do without being overwhelming. And while there are some topics that don’t apply, I am sure the house will be more organized if I keep up with this.

52 Week Organizing Your Home Challenge

One day two weeks ago, I saw a post on Facebook for a 52 Week Challenge to organize your house. Our house could certainly use that so I clicked on it. So on this website, they have divided organizing your home into 52 different weekly projects.

P1040122Now in the past, I have tried to establish my own weekly projects. It usually only lasts a week or two before I get busy and forget to work on a project each week. Or sometimes the chore seems so big, I don’t want to tackle it.

This website will email you every Monday with a new challenge. If you don’t want more e-mails in your inbox, you can simply go to their site to get a PDF of the 2015 schedule.

2015-52-week-organized-home-list-largeNow, looking at the list, I can see some items that I may not care about or that don’t apply to me. We don’t store anything in our attic so I won’t need to organize that. And I already have a laundry schedule that works for me so I will be skipping that week. But there are still plenty of areas we do need to organize.

And this isn’t just a list of what areas to organize. Every week there will be an article with organizing tips related to that area as well as ways to keep it organized. I really need that second one. I don’t know if challenge will help me or not but I am willing to give it a try.

P1040123In addition to taking the 52-week challenge, I might also consider the Declutter 365 missions section.  On this portion of the website, you are assigned daily decluttering missions. Each one is only 15 minutes long.

Several are listed on the site but if you want the calendar with all 365 missions, you have to sign up (it’s free) on the site. But even if you would rather not sign up, there are tons of helpful hints on this site for decluttering your house.

Right now as I look around at our messy house, I could certainly use something to declutter and organize it. Whether this website is the answer or not, I am not sure. But I will give it a try starting in January. I will let you know how it goes.

Finding a lost toy tip

I just thought I would throw this story out there in case it helps anyone else.

P1040128Jase and Lexie were playing in the grass with some toys. The helmet to one of Jase’s Star Wars clone troopers lost its helmet. The kids and I searched everywhere in the grass but couldn’t find it. Jase was upset because it was a helmet different (Cody’s) from the rest of the clone troopers.

Enter my husband with his solution. He waited until that evening and then looked with a black light. Within minutes he found the helmet in the grass. So next time you lose a little white or light colored toy, consider using a black light to look for it. I hope this can help someone else.