Saturday, January 26, 2013

Greeting Card Storage and Organization

Do you ever have those moments when you think, "I should send that person a card." But then you don't, because you aren't sure where your cards are? I keep a stash of thank you cards in my desk downstairs, but the rest of the cards are in my craft room. While I knew where they were, it was a pain to dig through them to find one that fit the occasion when I wanted to send a card.

Not so any longer! I created some tabs to adhere to half-sheets of cardstock to make dividers for my cards. Then I sorted them and put them in a pretty bin where they are easy to thumb through! Here's what I ended up with...

The colors match my craft room and it's nice to be able to see what cards I am running low on at a glance! If you are in need of organizing your cards as well, feel free to use the labels I created! The goods are below...

Download your tabs HERE!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Corralling Children's School Work... For LIFE!

Children's papers seem to be a constant headache for parents. I mean, how do you know what to keep? What's going to be the "greatest" piece of artwork from that period in your child's life? Do you keep everything? Should you keep anything? Because questions like this are hard to answer, we delay making decisions about paper. Do you know what happens when we do that? PILES AND PILES OF PAPER CLUTTER!!

That is what I had during Eliana's toddler and preschool years. I lost a lot of papers I would have liked to have kept, and I had random toddler scribbles that I couldn't remember the importance of. It was a mess. Last year Eliana was in Kindergarten and I realized I HAD to find a paper solution if I was going to maintain my sanity. I found an idea somewhere (pinterest, probably) and ran with it. Eliana's papers were sufficiently corralled and I was able to take time one summer day to decide what to keep and what to toss. It was great! The downside was that at the end of the year I didn't know WHERE to put the papers we'd decided to keep. Again, pinterest came to my rescue and I adapted another idea to help me over the next 10 years as I keep accumulated kiddo paperwork. I'm not suggesting it's a perfect solution for everyone, but it works pretty great for me!

Here's how the system works...

Eliana comes home from school and the papers from her folder go into that week's file. I have 4-5 files for each month, depending on how many weeks are in the month. At the beginning of a month, I take the empty files for the month and put them in this bin in our mud hall.

At the end of the week, I take the filled file and store it out of the way until the month's end. Here's what my little paperwork storage corner in the closet looks like...

Do you see where I store the files? Easy to access papers for the month.

At the end of the month, the set of 4-5 filled files for the month go into a small file tote and the empty files for the next month come out. It takes a couple minutes once a month. Easy! As the year goes on, the file tote fills up month by month with miscellaneous school work and art. Upcoming months are in the front of the tote and are cycled to the back as they are filled.

At the end of the year, sometime in the summer, I sit down with Eliana and we go through her papers to decide what is still important to her (if we did this weekly EVERYTHING would be important. Give it a couple months after school is out and the novelty has worn off, except for things she really did like.) and what I'd like to keep and the rest goes away. As the file folders are emptied, I put a sticky note with the papers telling when they were created. Then the pile of "keepers" gets filed in the larger bin, by grade level.

I used colored hanging file folders to distinguish between pre-school, elementary, and secondary years, as well as a separate section for Report Cards, Awards and Honors, Photos, and Mementos. I'm so excited to have a place to put all those random birthday cards she wants to keep! They are mementos! Hooray!

As you can see from the above picture, her Kindergarten paperwork is filed away, as is her preschool paperwork. As the years go by, it will get fuller and fuller and, eventually, Eliana will move out of the house and I will send her file bin with her, with everything neatly categorized for her.

It takes a couple minutes once a month, a couple hours once a year, and keeps me sane for the remainder of her years of bringing home paper projects! Now... if only dealing with my OWN paperwork were that simple!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Following Your Guidelines... FREEBIE

Have you been following the guidelines you set to help your system function the way you want it to? If you're finding yourself struggling with remembering the steps to your system, ask yourself the following questions...

1) Did I make the system too complicated? Do I have more than 5 guidelines to adhere to?

2) Did I write the guidelines down? Can I easily review them until it becomes a habit?

If you find that your guidelines are too complicated or have too many steps, or that you didn't actually write them down and therefore find it more effort than it's worth to remember them and then follow them, the following sheet may help!

Download the pdf file HERE.

I hope your first month is going well! We have a group of people over on Facebook who are sharing ideas and their before and after pictures. If you'd like to join them, click HERE to join the group! As always, if you find the ideas and downloads on this site helpful, I'd love to hear about it! Leave me a comment, and don't forget to LIKE US on Facebook!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Finishing the Projects...

How are your systems working out for you? I would like to report that my laundry system, while not yet a habit, is going well! I'd still like to tweak it as we go, but right now I do not have piles of laundry all over my room, clean OR dirty! I am following my own rules, and they seem to be working well to keep my bedroom systematically organized.

I have noticed that my daughter brings things into my room and leaves them there, so perhaps I will need to create another system for how to deal with her items. Right now I just gather them together and throw them into her room, but I would like to 1) teach her to stop leaving her things in other people's spaces and 2) stop contributing to the mess in her room. But that will be for another day.

Today I'd like to share with you what I've done to the decorative bookshelves in our room. You know, the ones with picture frames on them that still had the pretend people in them?! Here's what it looks like now...

I admit that it's not something that I LOVE, but I definitely like it better than I did. If you recall, this is what it looked like before:

Better, huh? It has the same elements on the shelves for the most part, but now they actually look like they've been arranged. I also updated the frames. Perhaps one of these days I'll get around to putting actual pictures in the frames, but until then, here's what I did...

They are pages in Greek and in Hebrew with the words "Love God with your whole heart" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." These sum up how I want to live my every day, so I thought they would be a nice touch.

Like I said, it's not my FAVORITE shelfscape ever, but it works. And DONE is BETTER than PERFECT! (Especially if perfect means it will never get done... which in my case is usually true!)

Here's what the whole corner looks like...

Among the other things I did to finish out the room, I moved the blankets from the drawer here to the bedstands. My bedstand now has in it a heating pad and heated throw. My husbands has the other throw. I also moved the candles to the master closet. Maybe they'll head down to the living room when we work on the closet, but right now they have a home and it works! I also labeled the drawers in my dresser. I don't know why I LOVE labels as much as I do, but there's no stopping it! LOL! It's a horrible picture, but here's what the drawer labels look like...

I don't know if you can tell from the picture or not, but I labeled the drawer inside on the ledge that forms the edge of the drawer. That way it's not an eyesore from the outside, but a quick peek inside tells what should go in that drawer.

So my Master Bedroom is, I think, finished. How is yours coming along?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mission Statement

Do you have a mission statement? A vision for your life? Until today, I hadn't officially written out my life mission statement, though I've known for a few months what it is. One of my favorite descriptions of how to determine your mission statement or life vision is the following:

If you close your eyes and dream of being Miss America, what would your platform be? Every Miss America contestant has a platform, a cause for which she is working. If chosen to be Miss America, she will spend the year promoting her platform, creating awareness, and raising money for it. So... imagine yourself in your gown, standing on stage as you present your platform to the viewing audience. You only have a few words in which to describe it. What will you do to change the world?

For some reason, that image stuck with me. When I heard it, I automatically KNEW what it is that I would do to change the world. I knew what I would work toward to make a difference. I knew what my passion is.  We've been sitting down to make New Years Resolutions and 2013 goals, and as I began to break those goals down into bite size pieces I could chew over the next few months, I started thinking about whether or not my goals are in line with my overall mission for life.
 Now, whether or not you agree with my aim in life, it is truly at the heart of all I do. My greatest desire is to become more like Christ and life a life that brings Him glory. In doing so, I hope that I model for those around me a life that is attractive and makes them want to emulate Him as well. This is especially true of the life I live in front of my daughter and husband. It does NOT mean that I intend to go around trying to force others to view the world according to my values. But, just so you know, these are my values. So how does that play out when it comes to resolutions and yearly goals? Well, here's the list of resolutions I wrote this year...

1. Be a healthier, happier me. This means investing time, energy, and money in activities that make me healthier and happier!

2. Complete the 12 Months to a Systematic Home series. Do the challenges, blog the progress. 

3. Get Metamorphosis Life Systems off the ground. Network, schedule new clients, advertise.

4. Reduce spending and eliminate debt.

5. Spend more time in scripture, prayer, and fellowship than in 2012. 

So those are my resolutions for 2013. I am creating specific goals to help me achieve these things. I sort of see resolutions as more general, where goals are actually specific and measurable. Perhaps I'll write another post on that later, but what I was really concerned about was whether my goals / resolutions actually  helped me further my life mission. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised to find that they do. As I work on streamlining my life this year, I want to make sure that all of my efforts are funneling my energy toward becoming more like the woman I was created to be. And you know what? I think that this year, perhaps for the first time, they are!

So... what is your mission statement? What are you doing to change the world beginning with you?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Create It!

Hopefully by this point you have already done steps 1-4 and are ready to get down to business creating systems to help your room function well! Step 5 is the biggest one, so I'm going to take a bit of time to break it down for you into bite size pieces.
Step 5a - This is where you get to clean your room! Begin by putting everything in its place. If you don't know where it goes, set it aside. When everything that has homes is in its place, go through the homeless items and determine which belong in the room. Then find homes for those items. It's okay if it's not a permanent home, but it does need to be reasonable. Don't just stuff all the homeless stuff under your bed. ;)

Here's a look at my room after things have found their homes...

Step 5b - Assess your storage situation. Do you have too little storage in this room for what you're trying to keep in here? Do you have more storage than you need? Do you know where to find things when you need them?

As I look at this, I have one empty top drawer, and one drawer that has T-Shirts in it that I never wear. There is no reason for me to store those shirts here. I have another place those could live. 
Until I looked in the drawer, I couldn't have told you that I have 2 extra blankets in that first drawer. And while I keep candles in the second drawer, I don't use them in this room, so I should relocate the candles to the living room, where I actually use them. I do, however, light candles in my bedroom, so I would like to keep a lighter in the room. Perhaps that could go in the empty dresser drawer. 
If I needed to, I could store stuff under my bed in those long boxes. I keep the heating pad in the bedstand on my side and Leif and I both keep miscellaneous reading materials in the baskets on the bedstands. 

Now, technically, everything we've done in steps a and b has been ORGANIZING, not SYSTEMATIZING. For my thoughts on the difference between them, read my post here. But it's easier to create a system from an organized space than from chaos. So... are you ready to create your SYSTEM??

If you remember, the biggest system I needed to create for my bedroom is one for laundry. To create a laundry system, I needed to think through what comes into and goes out of my room in terms of laundry. I wear dirty laundry into the room. It comes off and goes into the hamper (or on the floor, but let's just assume for today that I'm remembering to put it in the hamper, okay?). 

Problem: When it is time to do laundry, the dirty laundry goes to the laundry room. If I take it IN the hamper to the laundry room, I am left without a hamper and I throw my laundry on the floor where the hamper should be, or on the floor where the hamper shouldn't be. If I leave the hamper in my room, I sort the laundry on the floor and end up with a huge mess of laundry piles until all the laundry is done, which could take days. If I take the laundry to the laundry room to sort and bring the hamper back, I can't tell what clothes in the laundry room are clean and which are dirty. What would help?

Solution: Bring a laundry basket into my room and sort a load into the laundry basket, then take that to the laundry room to wash. It goes right into the washer, then the dryer. 

Clean laundry comes back into my room to be put away. 

Problem: If I bring the laundry into the room and put it on the bed to sort, fold, and put away I find that I don't get it all done and some gets transferred to the dresser or window seat when we go to bed. 

Solution: When the laundry is dry, hang or fold it IN the laundry room so that it goes THROUGH our room to the closet, or straight to the dresser. That way it never even makes it to the bed as a stopping place. 

 The laundry system guidelines I created are as follows:

1. Put dirty laundry directly into the hamper, NEVER on the floor.

2. Sort dirty laundry into baskets, not into piles on the floor.

3. Never fold, sort, or hang clean laundry in the bedroom. That is what the laundry room is for. 

Other guidelines I created to keep my master bedroom system working smoothly are... 

1. Keep dresser cleared off.

2. Always put jewelry in the closet, not in the bedroom.

3. Charge tablet and phone every night.

4. Empty trash on Tuesdays. 

The last step of a system? DO IT UNTIL IT IS HABIT!! That's what I'm working on!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Keeping it Together... Accountability

Over the holidays I took a break from my normal routines to just enjoy having my family in town. One of the things I took a break from was my morning exercise. Now, say what you will, but I enjoyed sleeping in and relaxing and doing things like ice skating and aerial dance over the break instead. Yesterday was my first day back to "routine" and was a BUSY, full day!

This morning was day 2 back at the morning Jazzercise routine and you know what? I slept in. My alarm went off at 5:15. I hit snooze. It went off at 5:20. I turned it off to get up. Apparently my body didn't follow that logic and I closed my eyes again. At 5:40 my phone rang. It was my workout buddy asking if I was coming to pick her up for Jazzercise. I rolled out of bed and was at her place in 5 minutes. Sure, we were a few minutes late for our 5:45 class, but we were there.

Because I have one of those brains that is pinging ideas every few seconds, even when I am engaged in something like Jazzercise that takes a lot of my concentration my mind is still working in the background. While it was doing that this morning, I realized something about accountability and its importance.

I don't know how many times I have tried having an "accountability partner" before. It usually begins with me and another self-discipline challenged friend talking about the fact that we struggle with consistency. Eventually one of us says, "Hey! Let's hold eachother accountable!" It's a great idea - except that we BOTH struggle with consistency. Guess what happens to that accountability? Yup... nothing. Oh, it may last a few days, or even a few weeks, but eventually it falls apart. Does that sound familiar to anyone else? (Please say it's not just me! LOL!)

This morning I would not have been at Jazzercise, but for Ashley, my workout buddy. See, whether I go or not, Ashley will. I took a break over the holidays. She did not. Her struggle is not with self-discipline and consistency. But yesterday we agreed that I was driving (we carpool because 1- we live close and 2- it's way more fun to chat on the way than drive alone!), so when I wasn't at her house when I said I would be, she called. I could have said that I wasn't going and she would have hopped in her car and driven herself. Some days that happens. But the truth is that I WAS going, I just overslept. I am SO THANKFUL for her call this morning, because I got to spend time with her, I got to do what I said I was going to do (workout), and I am building my exercise habit and re-establishing my routine. For someone like me who struggles with consistency (and talking myself out of exercising when I'm in a sleep induced state), accountability is KEY to building the habits I need to succeed in forming a routine like early morning exercise.

In order for accountability to work, though, one of the partners involved has to be 100% committed to hold the other person accountable. In order for accountability to work, you have to bond your weakness to someone else's strength. That is what I realized this morning. That was my A-ha.

It doesn't matter what your weakness is; if you want to strengthen it, it helps to have someone who is strong in that area help you. Accountability is not about perfection. It's about growth. If you're following our 12 Months to a Systematic Home series, I am here to hold you accountable. I will continue the series whether anyone joins or comments or comes along with me. I am committed to this for myself and my family, and designing systems is one of my strengths, though, sadly, not one I've taken the time to do for my entire household yet - thus the 12 Months series! If there's one thing I've learned in my 4+ years of Mary Kay, it's that doing things FOR yourself is good. Doing things BY yourself can be hard. Take advantage of the support networks around you. Bond your weaknesses to someone else's strengths and grow. If you're weak, follow someone who is strong in the area in which you want to be stronger. If you're strong, invite people along on your journey. Enjoy the company!

Now... I'm going to get on with my day and let you do the same. I've got habits to keep building!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Listing in the Etsy Shop!

For those of you who don't want to take the time to print your own magnetic meal planner, I have the solution for you!! I just listed a Laminated Magnetic Meal Planner in my etsy shop. I do the customizing, printing, and laminating, and all you have to do is cut the labels out and use them! How easy is that?! Now... what were you saying about wanting to eat healthier and spend less money eating out in 2013?

Also, I found that the labels fit PERFECTLY in a tackle box / crafter case with adjustable sections. I put my meal planner on the counter and the extra labels in the case in the drawer below. Worked perfectly!

12 Months to a Systematic Home: Master Bedroom

I am beginning my 12 month quest for a systematic home where I begin and end each day... in my Master Bedroom. You may choose start with any room you want to, but this is where I am starting. Because this is our first month, I'm going to assume that it's going to take a little longer this month than others to get things systematized. Fortunately for us, it's also January and that means we have new year's resolution momentum to get us going!! So here's how it works...
STEP 1: Take pictures of your room.

Now, before you go cleaning and tidying so you can take a picture, STOP. This needs to be a real picture. What does your room REALLY look like RIGHT NOW? Sometimes it takes a dose of reality for us to know what we're really up against.

Here are the pictures of my room. It is a MESS. (That was a warning.) Are you ready?
My Bed
My Dresser (and a giant mess o' laundry that seems to have invaded my floor)
My Husband's Dresser 
Decorative Bookshelves

STEP 2: Study the pictures to see what is out of place, needs to be fixed, etc. 

 This is my bed. Um, I have no idea why the blankets are all at the top of the bed, except that my husband was doing laundry earlier today and I'm guessing he "cleared" a spot to sort his clean clothes. 

Here's what I notice about this shot... There are hangers on the floor by my bed. They don't belong there. Also, there are papers on my bedstand that don't belong there. And I'm not a fan of the cords that cause an unsightly mess in my "charging area" on the bedstand. I think I also see a hairbrush on the floor and a couple other random things by the bed on the floor. I know the hairbrush is there because Eliana asks me to brush her hair for school before I get up on days that Leif takes her. It looks like there is also a tap dispenser on my bedstand that doesn't even belong in this room. And the trashcan next to my bed is full (or overflowing... whichever word you want to use. Ha!). I'm also noticing that the bed skirt we've been using for our queen size bed is actually made for a king size bed. I knew that, but it's REALLY obvious in this picture. We could afford to fix that. 

 This is a GIANT mess. For some reason, this basket of laundry has gone from "needing to be put away" to "taking over the majority of the floor." Honestly, I don't even know whose laundry it is, how it got there, who washed it, or anything. I don't think any of us do, and that's why it's there. You see, everyone in my family does their own laundry. My husband does his, I do mine, and even our 6 year old daughter does her laundry from start to finish. This seems to be a mix of things including sheets, towels, some of Eliana's clothes, some of my clothes... And I think when Eliana was looking for underwear one morning she went riffling through it and it didn't all go back in the basket. That's a problem.

I'm just going to point out here that laundry is a HUGE system that I need to create this month. We have parts of a functioning system in place, but it obviously breaks down somewhere.

The other big thing I see in this picture is my dresser. It has become a catch-all for stuff that doesn't really have a home. I don't know if I want my dresser top to have a purpose (where I put my jewelry on, for example) or if I just want it to be cleared off and decorative all the time. That's something I need to decide. What I don't want it to be, though, is a clutter catch-all. And that's sort of what it seems to be.

 This is my husband's dresser. He doesn't have the clutter catch-all syndrome that I seem to have. As a result, the top of his dresser has remained decorative (and dusty, though you can't see that in this picture) and clutter free. The biggest thing I see in this picture, though, is the laundry. Once again...


This is just a decorative set of book shelves we have in our room. We've never really "used" them for anything functional, but we like what they look like. That said, they're kind of sad. I mean, the picture frames, which I love, still have the original "fake people" pictures in them. Yeah. Sad. I would like to do something fun with these shelves, and perhaps even something functional if possible, I just don't know what. 

To help you think through what's going on in each of your pictures, I created this worksheet... Enjoy!
Download your copy HERE.
STEP 3: Determine what the Income and Outflow for your room is. If you want to learn more about what I mean when I say "Income and Outflow" check out my previous post HERE!

The Income for my Master Bedroom is... my calendar/planner, my phone, my kindle, clean laundry, jewelry, and the dirty laundry that I am wearing. 

The Outflow for my Master Bedroom is... dirty laundry that needs to be washed, trash, and jewelry that needs to be put away. 

As for what systems I need to create for this room, Laundry income and outflow is a big one. I'd also like to create a system for bringing my calendar/planner into my room each night and having it as part of my evening/morning routine. I don't yet have a good system for emptying the trash. I DO have a system for charging my phone and kindle, though I would like to streamline it a little better than just having them rest on my nightstand as they charge. The cords are a little unsightly. 

STEP 4: What is your vision for this space? How do you want to feel when you are in it? 

My vision for my Master Bedroom is a place of calm, quiet warmth. I want to enjoy relaxing, sleeping, reading, and spending time with my husband here. I want to avoid stress and seek peace. I want my Master Bedroom to be a sanctuary for me. 

STEP 5: Implement the ideas you have had and think, really think, about how you want to deal with items as they come into this room. Every item that comes into or flows out of this room impacts how it feels to be in the room. Think about that as you create guidelines for how to handle items that find their way into this space.

This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where we create systems. Some think of a system as a complicated, expensive thing that restricts what we can and cannot do. I choose to think of it as a set of guidelines that, if followed, will create an environment that is pleasant to be in and is easy to maintain. 

Steps 1-4 are things that are easy to do over the course of just a couple hours. Step 5 takes a little more time. We will spend the first week this month on steps 1-4, and then focus on implementing strategies to form a lasting system the rest of the month. Consistency over 3 weeks should form the start of a good habit, so we will spend most of the time there. For this week, though, here is a worksheet that will help you as you work through steps 1-4. 
Download the worksheet HERE.

I will be posting updates on my own progress as well as daily challenges to keep you motivated on my facebook page. I'd love for you to follow me at Metamorphosis Life Systems. And, as always, if you find these worksheets helpful and download them, I'd love for you to leave me a comment! I love hearing from you!!