The Waiting Place

Joining in on Week 17 of Simplify Your Life at Home Life Simplified.

You’d think it would be easy to pick which takeaway to have for dinner. Which outside lights to install. What to buy mum for her birthday.

I manage to make each of these decisions into agonising choices. Overthinking each option until it feels like an insurmountable obstacle that I need to overcome before I can move on with my life. I manage to convince myself that if I don’t come up with the perfect solution it’s going to lead to devastating results for all parties involved.

And then I get over it and go with my first instinct.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who has trouble making decisions. There’s a part in one of the Dr Seuss books I read to my kids about the ‘waiting place’

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a
Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for
Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

There’s me sitting around in the Waiting Place, waiting for a whole free day to sort out the craft cupboard, or a new house with perfect storage, or new carpet or a sunny day or…

My best most productive days happen when I realise that even five minutes can be an opportunity to make a quick decision. Five minutes is enough time to sort a pile of papers. It’s enough time to go through a drawer and chuck away five things. It’s enough time to RSVP to an invitation or order a present online.

Unfortunately five minutes is also a good amount of time to check Facebook, Twitter and my email, or play my turn on Scramble with Friends or make a coffee… Which isn’t always bad – a girl needs a break – but a girl doesn’t need a break every half an hour.

Time to get nasty on these little piles of clutter in my house. Time to turn all these five minutes into little pockets of clutter busting time. Time to move out of the Waiting Place and into the focus zone.

What can you do in five minutes? Will you do it with me?

P.S. This is my last official post at this blog. From tomorrow I’ll be blogging at my new home:

Please join me, update your readers, like the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter.  I so appreciate everyone who reads, who comments and connects with me here.  And I would love you to come with me.  I’m sure we’ll have some fun.

Creature of habit

Waking up this morning, I was surprised that I was disappointed that school was back today. I thought I was going to be one of those mums who disliked school holidays; I love my space and quiet, and adding an extra body in this house during the day takes away a lot of both of those things. Instead, I loved the slow mornings, the lazy days and watching my big boys play together; sometimes nicely, sometimes not.

Perspective is awesome.

I did find, however, towards the end of the fortnight, that I was feeling a bit flat and anxious. It probably had something to do with the sad events of the previous week (not only did I lose an old friend, but hubby’s grandpa also passed away suddenly), but I think being out of routine really didn’t work for me.

As much as I can appear to be disorganised at times, I really do prefer order. I like planning and lists and priorities. Upsetting the boat – whether by going away or changing up my daily routine – really throws my emotions around. I start to get anxious and panicky. I make little things into big things, and something inside me winds tighter and tighter (poor hubby hasn’t worked all this out yet and quite often bears the brunt of my explosions).

Last week’s SYL challenge was to conduct a time audit and see if the activities we are involved in are moving us towards our vision. While I didn’t conduct a strict audit, looking at the way I spend my time, I know I need to be more intentional about the things I do during my day. When I say I like planning and lists and priorities, I should probably add procrastination. Which generally means Twitter and blog surfing.

I have been trying to make myself a most important things list most days. Three biggish things that must be done. Whether it’s bills to pay, something that NEEDS cleaning, or a phone call I’ve been avoiding. Getting those MITs crossed off fulfills that part of me that craves order. It helps to unwind the wound up parts. Which helps me be more productive. Win-win.

Next up for me is to drop one or two things that are not in line with my goals or vision. Some things I felt I should do. Which will free up time to do some things I want or need to do. And then it’s time to cut back on the social media time again. To use it intentionally rather than constantly. Retrain my mind to not need to be connected all the time. Switch off so I can focus fully on other tasks.

Time to revisit my one little word for this year – intention. And start to live it!

Are you a creature of habit or a free spirit? And have you audited your life lately? What needs to give so you can free up time for the really important stuff?

Week fifteen of Simplify Your Life – catch up on the whole lot HERE.

How this list loving girl went paperless

Who doesn’t love a good list?  A to-do list.  A shopping list.  A forty before forty list.  A birthday list.  A party list.  A menu.

All these lists bouncing around in our heads, our purses or our houses.  How often do we lose them, and then forget all of those terribly important things?

I have been on a mission lately to go paperless; not so much for the environmental benefits of such a feat (although that is a bonus) but to avoid the loss of important information, and to ensure I can find the information I need, when I need it.

I have one exception: my diary.  For one or two years I tried to go digital with my diary.  I tried iCal and Gcal – both are wonderfully convenient and powerful – but there’s just something about a paper diary that I can’t give up.  I’ve stopped trying to fight it, and am running with it.

For everyday to-do lists and reminders I use the ‘reminders’ app on my iPhone.  You can switch it over to a ‘date’ view and add to-do items to a day, attaching a reminder to them if you like.  For all of those ‘bucket list’ items – the things you want to get done some day – I use the ‘list’ view.  You can create a number of different lists in this view if you want to separate your tasks.  I tend to keep it simple and lump everything in together.

There are a number of to-do list apps available for iPhone, iPad, android and your computer.  Simple is good though – you could even jot your list in the ‘notes’ app.

For most other lists I use Evernote.  I can’t sing the praises of this app highly enough.  I have it installed on both my Macbook and iPhone and it syncs between both.  I use it for many, many things, but I’ll stick to my lists for today.

For birthday and gift lists (for me and for other people) I make a list then attach a picture or link to the ideas to make them easy to find.  Evernote is fully searchable, so all I have to do when Christmas comes around is search for ‘sister Christmas present’ and the note with the gift ideas pops up with the links all there for me to click, order and wrap.  Since the list is always accessible on my phone, I can view it while I’m at the shops too.

Weekly meal plans are easy: list the days of the week and add the links to the recipe for each day.  You can even snap a picture of a recipe from a mag or book to save looking it up later.

Blog post ideas have their own note, ready to be fleshed out when I have time (ha!)

Lists for special events like parties or dinners go straight onto an Evernote note, with links to recipes, decorating ideas and things to purchase.

I have lots of other lists tucked away in Evernote: a list of patterns for clothes I’d love to make (along with pictures of the finished product), a list of places I want to eat at when we go away for our wedding anniversary, a whole lot of brainstorming for the blog, goals, house plans… And everything is safe in ‘the cloud’, accessible to me wherever I am, and much more searchable that if it were in a notebook or on a random piece of paper.

I have a way to go before I am completely paperless (I still have a notebook that I use for things that just need to be written down) but this is a start.

Are you a list-maker?  Do you do it digitally or in the old-fashioned way?

Simplify Your Life week fourteen – catch up over at Home Life Simplified.

Going forward

It’s a catch up week for Simplify Your Life over at Home Life Simplified, and I’m kind of glad about that as I’ve been chasing my tail with blogging a bit lately.

I mentioned last week that I have been my own worst enemy when it comes to moving forward with my goals.  And I admitted that not only had I not achieved any, but I had barely even looked at them since I wrote them.

It appears I need a strategy for going forward.  Luckily, Deb provided us with some troubleshooting advice.  (Check it out, it is very useful!)

This is my strategy for attacking those elusive goals for the remainder of the year:

  1. Decide on one goal to be my main focus to begin with.  I think by necessity, this will be the budget goal.
  2. Break this one goal down into smaller steps and begin actioning them immediately (for the queen of procrastination, this will be interesting!)
  3. Ask a friend to give me some accountability with my goal (my friends are good at this!)
  4. Set a due date and plan a reward if I achieve my goal in time (I quite like this bit!)

I took a sneak peek at this week’s topic, and it’s all time management and lists.  Yay!

Do you have any secret weapons for reaching your goals?  Have you achieved anything recently that you’re super proud of?

The one where I don’t really want to talk about it

Simplify Your Life Week 12 – catch up on weeks 1-11 here

This week the Simplify Your Life challenge was all about reviewing our goals and analysing what, if anything, has stopped us from making progress with them.

So, I went back to look at my goals and was shocked to realise that I haven’t really made any progress at all.  With any of them.  I was kind of devastated.  Devastated, but not surprised.  I do tend to be resistant to goals.  Partly because of my perfectionist traits, but also just for the sake of being contrary, I think.  Yay me.

I very much like to go about life with my head stuck in the sand, keeping myself busy with ‘important’ things which doesn’t leave much time for the really important things.  Things like really good quality time with my hubby and family.  Like making a budget and being really aware of how much money we really do spend (on internet shopping – oops!)  And like intentionally growing in my faith and setting my focus outside of myself.

I am sabotaging my own progress before I even begin.  Stupid, but true.

It’s time to refocus.  Again.   Keep these goals in my head, on my fridge, in my diary.  Somewhere where they can be seen and remembered and made important.  It’s time to put these things on my to-do list and in my planner.  Make them more important than Twitter and Mad Men and Instagram.

Let’s go!

Did you make goals this year?  Please tell me you’re doing better with yours than I am with mine!