SO045: Grocery Store Tips

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Season 8: Grocery Shopping How many grocery store trips feel like a random grab-bag and confused wandering? It happens to us all, but if feeding our people and keeping the shelves stocked is an important part of our service – and it is – then we need some better strategies for making the most of our grocery trips. We want to minimize the time they take, the brain power they require, and the mistakes and oversights we make. Here are … Read More

Functional Housecleaning, Not Sensational Housecleaning

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She stood in the kitchen. Dinner was over, and the evidence of this fact was everywhere she turned. Dishes Messy counters Dirty table Sticky floor Food to put away still out Where to even begin? It felt overwhelming. Could it wait until tomorrow? When could she say she was done? How soon could she put her feet up at the end of the day? Did the kitchen have to be sparkling clean before bedtime or could she walk away when … Read More

SO044: How We Fit in Grocery Shopping

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Season 8: Grocery Shopping Tips We’re doing something new this season. We’re going to be starting off each season with a FAQ episode about the season’s topic. This season is going to be about grocery shopping so I’m here with Virginia Lee Rogers who is helping me with customer support for Simplified Organization and we are going to talk about how to fit grocery shopping into our busy schedules. Transcript Mystie: So, hello, Virginia Lee. Virginia Lee: Hi, Mystie, thanks … Read More

When other people mess up your organization

If there are kids in your house, you know the feeling. There is a certain chest-tightening that happens when you find the toddler has pulled out all the folded towels, or when the preschooler has left a soapy trail of toilet paper and water from the bathroom to the kitchen. Then there’s the headache when the noise and activity level is so crazy that there’s no way you can focus on finding homes for all the piles of random things. … Read More

How Can I Take a Sabbath? Surviving a Day of Rest as Mom.

Really, it’s pretty amusing when you step back and think about it. Here we are, mothers of bustling families, running around like crazies all week, wishing for time off or a day out, and griping in our own heads about the amount of work there is to do. Sunday comes, the 10 Commandments are read, and we think, “Well, God didn’t actually mean one of those. There’s no way I can take a day off.” Sure enough, the thing you … Read More

SO043: Focused Habits

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Season 7: Habits We are often encouraged to set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. It sounds great, and those goals do have a place. But when much of our lives is about developing people (ourselves and our children), we can’t put ourselves or others into such neat little boxes. We must treat people as people instead of as projects. So for many of our hopes for the future, we’d do better to focus on our processes – what … Read More

SO042: Productive Habits

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Season 7: Habits What does being productive even mean? It’s not simply getting more done, but getting the right things done, done well, and done cheerfully. Whether or not you want to do more in 2016, I bet you want to do what you do better – whether that means more consistently, more joyfully, or more skillfully. Me, too. Just because I write about productivity and organization doesn’t mean I have it all together. It just means I’m always paying … Read More

SO041: Start with Habits

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Season 7: Habits Rather than grandiose goals for a new year, we should be focusing on small habits that we can build upon. These new year habits continue giving, because they become automatic. So we can gain their benefit without expending much energy to do so. A habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. Read the original post here: Start New Year Well: Keystone Habits Recommended Reading Podcast: Play in new window | … Read More

How to organize your life – for moms

When you want to get organized where do you turn? A quick browse on Pinterest or a flip through the magazine at the dentist office leads us to assume that the way to organize life is to use chalkboard labels on baskets, which line every shelf in every closet. Someone who has achieved this feat has earned the badge, “Organized!” Of course, then there’s the spice jars to label and arrange alphabetically, even if you have twelve but only use … Read More

SO040: The Habit of Making My Bed

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Season 7: Habits Why make my bed? It is not so much the made bed itself that is the goal, but the “easy win” factor. By making my bed in the morning I set the tone for the day. It is a victory of willpower (because I’m pathetic and require willpower to make my bed) that doesn’t tax my willpower much (not, like, breaking a habit of eating chocolate in the evening – for a purely theoretical example). Walking in … Read More

SO039: Focus on Keystone Habits

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Season 7: Habits Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change. – Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit Keystone habits, according to Charles Duhigg, are habits that give “small wins [that] fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince … Read More

Declutter your head.

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Organize your attitude #52 One thing that’s bound to make us snippy and snappy is when our heads are full of details and demands. When we try to keep track of information and appointments and obligations and everything else going on in our life all in our heads, there’s not room for listening to the people in front of us and being present with them. So we snap, because our heads are stuffed. Our minds are for thinking, responding, attending. … Read More

SO038: Habits, Not Results

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Season 7: Habits What will bring lasting traction? It’s our habits – those small daily patterns that keep life rolling, not only for us, but for our entire family. When we focus on those little things we do daily, we will build gradual, incremental change that will provide lasting momentum and real progress. Read the original post here: How to Focus on Habits, not Results Recommended Reading Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android … Read More

Cultivate friendships.

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Organize your attitude #51 A too-oft overlooked way to brighten our attitudes and get them back on target is to talk to a friend. We are not meant to live isolated lives. We are created to live in families and in church communities. The New Testament says we are like one body with our fellow believers, and we cannot say we have no need of them. Friendships take time investment. But they are worth it. When we know we are … Read More

SO037: Evernote for Homemaking

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Season 6: Digital Planning Evernote is awesome. It is my digital filing cabinet. Instead of lugging around a heavy binder, or filing reams of paper, it all goes into Evernote. Not only does Evernote save my documents in an organized way, it even recognizes text – printed and handwritten – in images, pdfs, and scans saved there. This means I can search for documents when I need them instead of going through and looking in the right folder. I can … Read More

5 Habits for Effectiveness

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The internet is full of self-help productivity advice. Experts give their tips. Successful people share their secrets. Article after article offers a new trick to overcome procrastination, fatigue, and listlessness. Sometimes it’s tempting to write it all off as hocus-pocus or shallow marketing – and a lot of it is. But, then the day to day happens to us. We fly by the seat of our pants, taking each day as it comes, until so many days have come and … Read More

SO036: How to Get Information Into Evernote

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Season 6: Digital Planning with Evernote Because you asked… When you scan things to Evernote, is this time consuming? Do you scan it to a PDF file and attach the file? I’d be very curious as to what this process looks like for you. I tried with a manual the other day and it seemed to take forever, and I had to try several different ways to get it to work. It’s fast and easy, I promise! Read the original … Read More

SO035: How to Organize Evernote

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Season 6: Digital Planning with Evernote Evernote is simply my external brain. Everyone should have an external brain of one sort or another, and Evernote is mine. I keep everything corralled into one of nine stacks. These stacks are named after my vocations. Developing your own vocation categories and goals is part of Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done, so I won’t go into that here. The stacks are numbered so that they are ordered in the … Read More

Develop grit.

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Organize your attitude #50 Too often, we try to get organized in an attempt to control our lives or make them easier. So then, when life does not go as expected or when it is not easy, we think we’ve done something wrong. We try with renewed energy to “get organized” and “improve ourselves,” hoping we’ll So we are bound to failure. Life isn’t like that. But, just because entropy affects all of life and just because God’s goal isn’t … Read More

Your Calendar Is Your Most Important Organization Tool

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When you want to get your life organized, what’s the first step? 

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know the first step is always a brain dump. But then, once you have a brain dump that fills an entire notebook, where do you begin? What do you do with all that? Where does it go. There are 5 important bins you need before you can start sorting and processing that brain dump, but the one … Read More

SO034: Digital Menu Planning

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Menu planning is a pain. I am all about the tips and tricks to minimize the time and brain-power we pour into menu planning. It’s something we need to do, something we need to become consistent with, but it doesn’t have to drain us or take an entire Saturday morning. We can streamline things and make it simpler. One tool I use to streamline a lot in my life is Evernote. I heart Evernote. Here’s how it helps my menu … Read More

Eat intentionally.

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Organize your attitude #49 Yes, what we eat affects our moods. You know it. I know it. We don’t like it, but it’s true. We’re used to looking at food and it’s effects on our waistlines, but what about how it affects our attitudes? In the end, both are likely to be better off for our attention and diligence. Eat meals; don’t graze. Meals, eaten while sitting at the table with the family (or, honestly, a good book), are relationally … Read More

3 MITs: How to choose your top tasks

posted in: productivity | 3

When I’ve written about my daily index card to-do list or when I’ve taught my life productivity principles and practices, I’ve brought up the idea of having 3 MITs – 3 Most Important Things – for each day. I didn’t come up with this practice myself, but I did encounter it in several sources over the years and adopted it myself because it seemed like a prime example of a tactic that allows us to roll with the punches of … Read More

SO033: Evernote for Daily To-Do Lists

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I’ve written before about the benefits of writing a daily to do list on an index card, but for several months I’ve experimented with using Evernote for my task list instead of a daily index card – just to see how going all digital would work out for me. I have gone back to writing out a short daily to-do note, but I learned a lot from my little experiment. Using Evernote for a daily to-do list and journal is … Read More

SO032: Evernote for Home Routines

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There is so much to keep track of at home. Where is the best place to keep track of daily and weekly routines? If you’re a paper planner, you might have a separate page in your planner, you might have your own weekly list you print, you might keep a list behind a page protector and reuse it or on a whiteboard where everyone can see it. But what if you’d rather not deal with paper? What if you prefer … Read More

What’s Working Now: My Weekly Planner Page

For nearly a year I gave all-digital planning another go. I tried a few different configurations, a few different apps and options – all in the name of research! – with mixed success. I tried Evernote for a weekly summary note and a place to keep routines. I tried a spreadsheet version of my previous paper weekly spread. I tried using all Omnifocus, all the time (except for routines, which then plummeted). Over and over again, I return to the … Read More

Take a break.

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Organize your attitude #48 No matter how much we have to do, we all need to take breaks. Our bodies were not meant to be go-go-go all the time. Sleep is crucial to our health, to our ability to go at all. Meals are for us spiritually, culturally, relationally when taken sitting at a table rather than on the go. Sleep and meals are the basic breaks built into the rhythm of our lives, and we’d do well to heed … Read More

Fill your mind with truth.

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Organize your attitude #47 Our minds are busy places. We are constantly noticing needs, evaluating behavior, noting things to be done, and thinking things through. On top of that, we listen to children’s chatter, keep up with phone notifications, and maybe even top it off with a podcast in the background. Our days are not still and silent. They are humming with thoughts, conversations, and noise. But most of it really is just noise, even those thoughts racing through our … Read More

How to Build a Housework Framework

Everything has a framework, whether it’s conscious or not. The government’s framework is the Constitution. Our education’s framework is made of our core principles. A computer software framework is the basic functionality before the frills and features. And our housework needs a framework just as much as anything else we do or use. We need to have an underlying structure that gives shape to our days and support to our sanity. Without a framework, we’re sloppy, floppy, and choppy. We … Read More

Share the load.

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Organize your attitude #46 “No, I’ll do it.” We often associate these words with two-year-olds, eager to enter the larger world and assert their independence. However, too often mothers are the ones saying it – perhaps not in so many words, but by their actions. Would you rather do it yourself? Of course we can do things better and faster than our children, but they need to gain experience by helping out. They need to learn independence, which comes after … Read More

Why is homemaking hard?

posted in: organizing | 2

Before you were married or had kids, did you think homemaking would be an easy gig? I mean, dishes, laundry, sweeping, meals – it seems pretty basic. But it doesn’t take long for reality to sink in. I often hear from women who say they were organized when they worked in an office, but they just can’t manage to be – or at least feel – organized at home. What makes it so hard to stay on top of basic … Read More

3 Ways to Make Hospitality a Habit

posted in: homemaking | 2

So, we know that our home is for hospitality, but it seems so hard – it’s extra, and we have no room for extra. The one thing that makes hospitality so difficult is that we are out of practice. It is easy to slip into selfish patterns: doing what needs to be done on our own agendas, taking a break, keeping to ourselves and our own thoughts. Instead, we need to practice the habit of hospitality. The habit of hospitality … Read More

SO031: Gratitude Makes You Productive

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Why do we do what we do? Sometimes, an end result can look the same even when the motivations behind the action are opposite. The exact same action and the exact same result could be caused by a completely different heart. Your heart matters. Read the original post here: Gratitude will make you more productive Recommended Reading: Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Organize your purse.

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Organize your attitude #45 When we start feeling overwhelmed, crazy, and beat down by all the little things we’re trying to deal with in life, one of the best strategies to get out of our heads and out of our funks is to find the closest, easiest, small win. A small quick win will give us that “Ta-Da!” feeling in a jiffy, lifting us up and reminding us that we are not losers after all. One of my go-to small, … Read More

Why Kids Need Chores

Do your kids have chores? Do they do more than clean up their own rooms and their own messes? Are you preparing them in both habit and mindset to be helpers? I think it is healthy for children to have daily chores so that they are accustomed to the routine upkeep life requires and so that they mature in responsibility and skill apart from academic work. Daily chores give children a leg-up in life in three key ways. Kids Need … Read More

SO030: Frustrated No Longer

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I set the timer for fifteen minutes. Surely in fifteen minutes, I thought, I can make a difference in this room. The room was mine. The mess was an assortment of laundry, books, accumulated junk, out-of-season kids’ clothes, and random bits. I knew there was no way I was going to finish cleaning the room in fifteen minutes, or even that day, but I had to make a start. Starting is the hardest part. Read the original post here: The … Read More

Take a photo.

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Organize your attitude #44 In this series we’ve been looking at short and simple actions that can help us recover our resilience and choose to tell a true story instead of a self-pitying story. One such action might just be to pull out your camera. Taking a photo is pushing the pause button. Sometimes we get so caught up in the nitty gritty details, doing this, cleaning that, nagging here, pestering there, that we completely miss the overall story being … Read More

SO029: Realistic Expectations

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What happens when we organize something? It gets messed up. Inevitably. We catch up on the laundry, but more clothes hit the hamper within hours. We wash the dishes and clear the counters, then dinner is over and the kitchen is in ruins, with stacks of dirty dishes. We put the kids’ closets in order, but by the end of the week the neat stacks are in shambles. We put our own closets in order, but then comes a busy … Read More

SO028: How to Organize Your Attitude

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My new tagline is “organize your attitude,” because I think our own mindset as moms is crucial in our homes. Charlotte Mason said that fully 1/3 of our children’s curriculum is atmosphere, and though candles and art on the wall are nice touches, I believe that it is our own attitudes as we go about our business that creates the atmosphere our kids grow up in. Mom sets the tone, whether we like it or not. We must organize our … Read More

Wear an apron.

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Organize your attitude #43 Can an accessory change your attitude?

 Sure! For one, an apron can make it feasible to get dressed each day – which we’ve already established helps our attitudes – by protecting those clothes from messy work. But also, an apron helps us set a tone and a mood. It can become a cue, telling us, “Now it’s time to get into dinner-prep mode” or “Now it’s time to go on a cleaning whirlwind.” In a way, … Read More

Home is for Hospitality

I heaved a heavy sigh. A quick glance around the living room showed that children had been here. Books stacked haphazardly on the shelves and side table, papers peeping from under the couch, toys strewn – life had here been lived. A move into the kitchen didn’t help. Dishes. Crumbs. Smears on the fridge and stovetop. So much to do. And it’s not just that it needed to be done. The real discouragement was that even if I did do … Read More

SO027: Dreaming of Perfect Systems

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I do not have a system that will make life easy, because that’s not the goal in life. God’s goal for our lives is our sanctification. That’s not an easy road. But it is a good one. And if our eyes and our aims are fixed on growth rather than checkmarks, on building rather than on success, then our attitudes will be aligned with reality, the reality that God doesn’t let us control our outcomes. But He does call us … Read More

SO026: Learn to Love What Must Be Done

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Many of us are task-driven. We want to see things done, accomplished, finished. This is what the world tells us is productivity. However, our life at home is not the kind of world where things are often finished. You might check off “laundry” for the day, but before the day is out, there will be more dirty laundry in the hamper. You might check off “make dinner,” but dinner will have to be made again tomorrow. Not only that, but … Read More

Have a grocery route.

posted in: pantry | 0

Organize your attitude #42 We need to feed people, one way or another. Often the part that really crimps our style and our attitude is the grocery shopping component. Sales? Freshness? List? Menu plan? So many considerations are at play while we make a million decisions with every step along the aisle. Grocery shopping is something that must be done, but would be better done efficiently and as infrequently as we can manage. A little upfront thinking and stratagems can … Read More

The Best Menu Planning Method for Each Personality Type

posted in: pantry | 2

Ok, I just can’t get enough, and I hope you can’t, either. There’s more than one way to menu plan, and your personality will predict which one is most likely to work for you. So let’s break it down and see why that is and what might work for you that doesn’t work for me or your best friend – and why! Menu Planning for ISTJ & ESTJ Types ISTJs & ESTJs function best with introverted sensing and extroverted thinking. … Read More

Read a novel.

posted in: attitude | 4

Organize your attitude #41 Yes, read a novel. It doesn’t even have to be a Great Book. Just a story. Get out of your own particulars, relate to someone else, and gain perspective. When we read novels, we are able to see the world from another point of view, experience different settings and lifestyles and circumstances, and are better able to see how small circumstances build into a big picture – into a story. I’ve shared before how it was … Read More

5 Grocery Store Tips

posted in: pantry | 2

Ack! No milk! Off to the grocery store! Was there something else you needed? There was, wasn’t there? What was it?

 Oh, look, this is on sale. That isn’t, but I think I need some. Might as well wander down this aisle to shortcut to the other side. Oops – walked straight past the pasta, and we definitely need some of that. How many grocery store trips feel like a random grab-bag and confused wandering? It happens to us all, … Read More

Have a good cry.

posted in: attitude | 0

Organize your attitude #40 To organize our attitudes does not mean to “buck up,” “get over it,” or “plaster on a smile.” Organizing our attitudes is not positive-thinking changing reality. Organizing our attitude is recognizing that our perception of reality is an interpretation, and double-checking that our interpretation is correct. If we’re getting cranky because of the way we see things, we’re not seeing things correctly. No, there’s not always a way to spin our view so that things are … Read More

SO025: A Brain Dump Strategy for Moms

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Brain dumping is such a helpful strategy, especially for moms at home. When we start holding a lot of things in our heads, trying to remember them is going to stress us out. It might just be a low-level stress we don’t even recognize, but when we get the details out onto paper, we will recognize the relief. So then, when you have that Brain Dump, especially that first BIG crazy spill onto paper, then what do you do with … Read More

Build your house.

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Organize Your Attitude #39 The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. – Proverbs 14:1 Our words build or tear down – there is no neutral. And what do they build up or tear down? Our own homes, our own families. Every word we say, every look we give, communicates to our children and gives them identity – whether good or bad. We are their mothers. Even while arguing and complaining, they are … Read More

SO024: Write it down, right away.

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You won’t remember – don’t try. When does the brilliant idea strike? When do you remember you’re desperately low on milk? It’s rarely when you’re actually sitting down, pen in hand, to make a relevant list. But if you don’t write it down right away, it’s gone. Hence, the need for ubiquitous capture. Ubiquitous capture is a term from David Allen’s Getting Things Done that basically means you should always have a way to write down, right away, any information … Read More

SO024: Write It Down, Right Away

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When does the brilliant idea strike? When do you remember you’re desperately low on milk? It’s rarely when you’re actually sitting down, pen in hand, to make a relevant list. But if you don’t write it down right away, it’s gone. Hence, the need for ubiquitous capture. Ubiquitous capture is a term from David Allen’s Getting Things Done that basically means you should always have a way to write down, right away, any information you need to have rather than … Read More

SO023: What to Do With Your Brain Dump Lists

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So, you’ve done a thorough brain dump and you have sheets upon sheets of notes, tasks, and ideas. Before you start getting your brain dump into a trusted system, you need to have that trusted system set up – you need those places and lists before your brain dump items can go into them. To get the thorough instructions for creating the systems you need, walk step-by-step through the course. For a more cut-straight-to-the-chase approach, Paperless Home Organization is all … Read More

Laugh.

posted in: attitude | 0

Organize Your Attitude #38 You know those days. Those terrible no good days where we just can’t seem to pull ourselves together, even after two (or three) cups of coffee. Sometimes we have to choose the right attitude before we feel it. If we wait for our feelings to lead the way, we’ll be left nursing hurts and holding grudges. We’ll be left with our coffee dregs and headaches, feeling miserable. It’s tough. Feelings are powerful and insensitive to reason. … Read More

SO022: An Effective Brain Dump

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Whenever you feel overwhelmed or scattered, sit down and brain dump. First, pick a place to keep your notes; either a notebook or index cards or Evernote, whatever thing would be convenient for you and just easy to jot things down. It doesn’t have to be structured – it shouldn’t be structured. It’s just a quick ‘get it out of your head and onto paper’ so that your head can be used for thinking about things rather than holding things. … Read More

Recipe: Pizza Flatbread – Easy Kid Lunch

posted in: pantry | 0

Lunches always baffle me. It seems like it should be so easy, but I’m often stumped. Leftovers are nice, since we’re home for lunch, but we only have leftovers about half the time. So, often, we fall back on the kids’ favorite that they can make themselves: cheese melted on chips and sliced apple. Last week, however, we were going to be out for a picnic lunch with friends, and I was going to make pizza for dinner. An idea … Read More

SO021: Tips for a Better Brain Dump

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A complete and thorough brain dump is an integral part of both the Simplified Organization Self-Paced Course, and Work the Plan. Starting a brain dump list is the best strategy for combating the feelings of overwhelm and chaotic thoughts. It’s a quick get it out of your head and onto paper trick, not a structured list. When you get all those crazy thoughts out of head and onto paper, you will often see that the craziness was all in your … Read More

SO020: Start with a Brain Dump

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As the holidays wind down, the crazy schedules should let up and let us catch our breath. But if we were whirling all month from thing to thing, trying to track presents and events and guests and extra baking and so much more, we feel more like crashing than catching anything. Write it all down and get all your swirling, swimming thoughts out of your head and onto paper. You’ll be amazed at how simply writing it all out will … Read More

Recommended Morning Routine for Each Personality Type

posted in: productivity | 4

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the 5 essentials for an organized morning. Those essentials are: A Start-Up Routine A Ready To-Do List Breakfast Plans Being Dressed A Weekly Review But – of course – your personality plays into what sort of morning routine you should build and practice. What’s really important in the morning? For a busy mom, it’s that we enter our day with energy and focus. We need to touch base with our priorities and start … Read More

SO019: You Need Time to Reset Your Perspective

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Survival mode is a reality sometimes, but we shouldn’t accept it as normal. Many of us live in survival mode for long stretches of time during different seasons of mothering. That’s simply part of the gig. However, too often I think we forget that there are other modes we can live in. We can fail to recognize that we could rearrange our days to provide ourselves with some predictable and uninterrupted moments. Once we do that, we must also take … Read More

Purge your closet.

posted in: attitude | 1

Organize your attitude #37 What’s in your closet? Do you know? Is it a black hole? Sometimes, setting order to one small area helps us set order to our mindset and our attitudes. Our closets might not be publicly visible spaces, but they are personal spaces. Our closet, whether we like it or not, says something about us. What does our closet say? What message are we picking up from our own closets each morning? Most likely, our children aren’t … Read More

5 Things You Need for an Organized Morning

posted in: productivity | 1

Mornings are critical to the success of a day. With our mornings we set the tone, either preparing and executing or lounging and lazing. Very often, the way we begin our day is the way we carry out our day. But if we start with too much oomph and verve, we risk crashing and burning by lunch. So we need to begin with a considered and balanced plan. Although everyone’s morning plan will look different, an organized start to the … Read More

SO018: One Quick Hack to Improve Your Plan

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Write your plan the night before and supercharge your day. The day was over. The kids in bed, the house quiet. Time to sigh, breathe deep, and decide how to relax. I glanced down and I caught sight of my daily index card plan I’d made that morning. Ugh. I’d totally forgotten about it after the hubbub of the day had begun. I had begun with such high hopes and ended up feeling like I’d simply held on for dear … Read More

See your doctor.

posted in: attitude | 2

Organize your attitude #36 My youngest child just turned 4. For the last 13 years, the primary medical attention I have received has been from a midwife. 

Sure, there’s been an occasional urgent care visit, but besides a midwife, I’ve not seen a primary care physician. As I was making routine well-child visits (all overdue) for my children, my husband encouraged me to make one for myself as well. I’m not unwell. I’m not even low-energy. But preventative care is … Read More

Choose the Right To-Do List for Your Personality Type

posted in: planning | 9

Have you ever tried keeping a to-do list and just not been able to stick with it enough to see a difference in your life? Are you constantly switching planners, always hoping for the one that will work for you but never seeming to find it? Have you tried copying a friend or a mentor’s to-do list system and just not been able to make it work? You might be trying to use a method and system that is incompatible … Read More

SO017: Review Required Every Evening

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After working to make morning review a habit, I thought I was good to go. Indeed, I was better to go.But putting a quick evening review practice into place has remarkably increased my effectiveness and my ability to carry out my plans. It’s like putting a bow on the day. In the morning, the review is a process of getting set to go. In the evening, it’s about wrapping it up and closing it out. It doesn’t take long, and … Read More

Go to church.

posted in: attitude | 3

Organize your attitude #35 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” –Psalm 122:1 We’re not meant to do life alone. We’re not even meant to do life as a single family unit. We’re meant to live in community and fellowship with a body of believers, regularly, intentionally, and humbly. Attending church is a way to organize our attitude because at church we confess our sins, worship God, and fellowship with … Read More

8 Ideas for Making Family Dinners Happen

posted in: pantry | 1

by Christia Colquitt The value of family dinners is not a secret. We have seen the statistics. We know that it is important to sit down and eat dinner together on a regular basis. But still, today an average dinnertime is less than 12 minutes. Sixty years ago, it was 90 minutes! It is said that kids and teens who share family dinners at least 3 times a week: Are less likely to be overweight Are more likely to eat … Read More

SO016: Review Required Every Morning

posted in: podcast | 0

A real review process will lead to enhanced and proactive new thinking in key areas of your life and work. Such thinking emerges from both focused concentration and serendipitous brainstorming, which will be triggered and galvanized by a consistent personal review of your inventory of actions and projects. Remember that this system does not remain rigid and dictatorial. Your system cannot be static, like a mechanical clock that ruthlessly continues to tick. Rather, it is a focusing tool that holds … Read More

SO015: Review Required Every Week

posted in: podcast | 1

Review Required Every Week A weekly review is applying common sense to our weekly rituals. What do we do before leaving on an extended trip? Clean up, close up, clarify, and wrap up decisions needing to be made. A weekly review is a time to do that every week instead of once or twice a year. It is by a regular weekly review that we can keep a clear mind and a sense of relaxed control in the midst of … Read More

Friday Four

posted in: homemaking | 2

1. Organizing One of my Instagrams sparked quite a bit of idea-generating, so I thought it’d be a good one to call out here. The question is: What to do with all those cups?! Possible solutions to the “too many cups out!” issue: washi tape + names written color-coded washi tape alone water bottles individual unique mugs rubber bands or drink bands colored cups We did the color-coded waterbottle thing for awhile: it worked well except when 2 people broke … Read More

Hug your kids.

posted in: attitude | 0

Organize your attitude #34 Once upon a time, I had a somewhat embarrassing item on my daily checklist: Smile at each child. Eventually, I graduated to “Hug each child.” Yes, it was on my list that I had to actually check off, because I knew it was a good and necessary habit for a mom to have, and yet I did not have it. Slowly, checkmark-by-checkmark, I built the habit until I didn’t need it on my checklist anymore. It’s … Read More

One Word for 2017

posted in: homemaking | 2

You might think that because I have a whole system for life management laid out, I have it all together. But it’s not true. I get distracted. I get off track. I try flying by the seat of pants. Then I crash and burn. That’s why I’m just as excited as everyone else for the New Year New Attitude Consistency Crew. And that’s why I’ve chosen a very particular word to focus my attention and efforts this year: Reliable My … Read More

SO014: Why Moms Need a Weekly Review

posted in: podcast | 0

A weekly review is a common business productivity recommendation, and a practice I encourage in Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done. It is a time to reorient yourself to what you have on your plate and renegotiate your commitments. You take some time and look at your calendar, make fresh to-do lists, decide what your biggest responsibilities are this week and then make sure those stay in front of your face so they can get done. Moms … Read More

Friday Five: goals, menus, & books

posted in: homemaking | 0

1. Goal Setting Are you making goals for 2017? Here are some helpful articles I’ve written in the past to help you focus on what matters in 2017: 5 Habits for a More Productive Year Start the Year Well: Keystone Habits Make goals that fit your reality. Or maybe you’re tired of setting goals and forgetting about them by February? Do you want to get a grip and start making progress in your home and your approach to life but … Read More

Organize life with realistic expectations.

posted in: attitude, podcast | 0

What happens when we organize something? It gets messed up. Inevitably. We catch up on the laundry, but more clothes hit the hamper within hours. We wash the dishes and clear the counters, then dinner is over and the kitchen is in ruins, with stacks of dirty dishes. We put the kids’ closets in order, but by the end of the week the neat stacks are in shambles. We put our own closets in order, but then comes a busy … Read More

Ignore the mess.

posted in: attitude | 2

Organize your attitude #33 Christmas is almost here. Kids are off school, excited, and doing what kids do best: creating messes. Add to that typical chaos all the extra stuff of Christmas – more sweets, new toys, wrapping paper, packaging – plus extra exuberance – and you have the makings of a real disaster. But it’s only a disaster if you look at it with the attitude that your home should always be neat and tidy and life is all … Read More

Never organize alone.

posted in: organizing | 0

Never organize alone. Organizing is very personal. You want your things and your time ordered in a way that works for you, for your situation and your own needs. You can’t simply adopt someone else’s system or someone else’s order and expect it to work for you. Life is too variable for that. You are the only one who can arrange your things to work for you. But that doesn’t mean you have to do so alone. In fact, you … Read More

Friday Five: Transforming Inboxes

1. Thinking We must therefore allow children breathing-time from perpetual tasks, and remember that all our life there is a division of relaxation and effort. – Plutarch This was the quote from my post on classical education this week. It applies to us as moms in all we do, as well, for he notes this is true “all our life.” Do you have divided time for relaxation? Do you have divided time for effort? As we head toward a new … Read More

Make something.

posted in: attitude | 0

Organize your attitude #32 At the end of the day, do you check out, flat and dull? After a full day of managing life and other people, do you have no oomph left? Make Something. After a long enough stretch of doing-doing-doing, we need to recharge, refill our minds and souls, and connect with others and with our creative side. As humans, we are made in God’s image. God is a Creator, The Creator, who created the entire world out … Read More

How to Create a Personalized Housecleaning Plan

There is one big problem with housecleaning. It’s never done. We make the checkmark, but the task returns the very next day or week. Making decisions is fatiguing. Front-load the decisions about what to do when is sanity-saving. The goal is regularity. A daily good enough. Remember that your home is a tool to be used. Its perfect end-state is not perfection. Its reason for being is as a setting for the drama of life unfolding within its walls. Is … Read More

Friday Five: Snow & Soup

posted in: homemaking | 0

1. Thinking Do you set yearly goals? Have you started yet? How do you make a plan to reach them? With interval planning, of course. 2. Doing I took a meal to a family this week. The day was cold, I had a giant gifted butternut squash and turkey bone broth in the fridge, so clearly I had to make soup. But transporting soup is a pain. Here’s what I did: We get the giant jars of pickles, and I … Read More

Eat breakfast.

posted in: attitude | 2

Organize your attitude #31 Do you stop to eat breakfast every morning? A cheerful disposition is not only mental. It is also physical. Our stomachs have a say in our attitude, and we would do well to not overlook that reality. We’re not above our bodies. When we are hungry, when our blood sugar drops or spikes, when we don’t drink enough water, we will have a harder time maintaining our mental equilibrium. We need to eat breakfast. Breakfast is … Read More

SO013: EHAP, a tidy-house strategy

posted in: podcast | 3

Welcome to The Simplified Organization Audio Blog! Releasing weekly on Mondays, this podcast gives you short and punchy action items and mindset resets. Check out the podcast page here and please leave a review. Thanks! EHAP: My secret to a mostly-tidy house We have a small practice that saves the state of our house, almost every day. It’s simple and effective – as long as we do it. When I keep the time in the late afternoon regularly carved out … Read More

SO012: Cheerful Chore Challenge

posted in: podcast | 1

Welcome to The Simplified Organization Audio Blog! Releasing weekly on Mondays, this podcast gives you short and punchy action items and mindset resets. Check out the podcast page here and please leave a review. Thanks! How strict should our standards for cleanliness be? We are whole people. And we get in trouble when we live in false paradigms. I am one me and you are one you, and there is no separate identity in each area of our life. That’s … Read More

3 Easy Steps to Meal Planning for Busy Moms

posted in: pantry | 1

By LaToya Edwards I have this problem: my children like to eat. I mean 4 or 5 times a day they are asking for a meal or a snack. I bet you have the same problem at your house. As a new mom I really struggled with getting meals planned, bought and cooked each day. I remember trying every single method of planning and prepping that I read about. I was so overwhelmed that I just didn’t know what to … Read More

SO011: Be a happy homemaker.

posted in: podcast | 0

Welcome to The Simplified Organization Audio Blog! Releasing weekly on Mondays, this podcast gives you short and punchy action items and mindset resets. Check out the podcast page here and please leave a review. Thanks! How strict should our standards for cleanliness be? Our homes are tools to be made use of, not display pieces to handle gingerly. Tools get dirty. Tools have to be taken care of. The point is to keep them useful and functioning, not pristine. A … Read More

SO010: Clean House with the End in Mind

posted in: podcast | 0

Welcome to The Simplified Organization Audio Blog! Releasing weekly on Mondays, this podcast gives you short and punchy action items and mindset resets. Check out the podcast page here and please leave a review. Thanks! You need to know the point of your work. The goal of housekeeping is to be ready for use. The end goal of housekeeping is actually not to have a clean house. The clean house is itself a tool, not an end. A house being … Read More

SO009: A reasonably clean house

posted in: podcast | 0

Welcome to The Simplified Organization Audio Blog! Releasing weekly on Mondays, this podcast gives you short and punchy action items and mindset resets. Check out the podcast page here and please leave a review. Thanks! How strict should our standards for cleanliness be? Leila then defines “reasonably clean” as “one that has order, but doesn’t take all day to get there, and one we can whip into shape if we need to, as opposed to booming and busting.” So “reasonably … Read More

Friday Five

posted in: homemaking | 0

1. Thinking How you start your day matters. 2. Answering I received this question about filtering email from Maria: Wow! I didn’t realize you could only have 10 emails. I’m definitely getting close to the 12,000! Until a friend mentioned it one time I didn’t even realize it was only the unopened ones. Many are advertisements. Do you find it’s better to just get off the list for some of those to cut down on your inbox? So I made … Read More

Have a menu plan.

posted in: planning | 0

Organize your attitude #30 Do you know one real downer that happens all too often? Not knowing what’s for dinner when 5pm rolls around. You know what I’m talking about. And, yes, it happens to me, too. Do you know one real awesome feeling? Knowing at breakfast time what’s for dinner, pulling the meat out of the freezer the night before, and maybe even doing a little head-start prep while the kids eat breakfast. A menu plan makes those mornings … Read More

SO008: What novels taught me about cleaning house

posted in: podcast | 0

Welcome to The Simplified Organization Audio Blog! Releasing weekly on Mondays, this podcast gives you short and punchy action items and mindset resets. Check out the podcast page here and please leave a review. Thanks! Housework seemed like a stupid waste of time. And I hated wastes of time and stupidity, so I triply hated housework. I was torn between wanting to be a good, competent homemaker and thinking that the state of my bedroom or the kitchen just wasn’t … Read More

Friday Five

posted in: homemaking | 0

1. Thinking Recently a wholly unexpected minor operation badly interrupted my list of things to be done that week. But because God is my sovereign Lord, I was not worried. He manages perfectly, day and night, year in and year out, the movements of the stars, the wheeling of the planets, the staggering coordination of events that goes on on the molecular level in order to hold things together. There is no doubt that he can manage the timing of … Read More

SO007: Why clean the house?

posted in: podcast | 0

Welcome to The Simplified Organization Audio Blog! Releasing weekly on Mondays, this podcast gives you short and punchy action items and mindset resets. Check out the podcast page here and please leave a review. Thanks! We need a reason to clean. I enjoy organizing. I hate cleaning. I dislike laundry. I sigh at dishes to be done. I delegate dishwasher duties to children because I feel such things are beneath me. I feel imposed upon by the housework, but I … Read More

Get dressed.

posted in: attitude | 4

Organize your attitude #29 How you dress affects your attitude. You know it’s true. Don’t fight it. If your shoes pinch your toes or your jeans cut into your tummy, it makes you cranky and irritable. If you stay in your pajamas, you miss out on the energy flow that comes from knowing you’re ready to take on the day, come what may. Your pajamas signal to you that you’d rather be sleeping, rather be lounging, rather be anything but … Read More

SO006 | Interval Planning: Grow your capacity.

posted in: podcast | 0

Welcome to The Simplified Organization Audio Blog! Releasing weekly on Mondays, this podcast gives you short and punchy action items and mindset resets. Check out the podcast page here and please leave a review. Thanks! Increase your capabilities with interval planning. The problem with much of the productivity and planning advice out there is that it begins with a vision for a 5-year outcome. When we as mothers at home try to do that, we are rather at a loss. … Read More

Say thank you.

posted in: attitude | 0

organize your attitude #28 We all know gratitude is important. But sometimes it can be a bit vague. So say thank you. Is gratitude a feeling we’re supposed to float around in all day? A sentiment just bubbling up from our heart to our head and staying there, providing serene thoughts and a calm demeanor? Do we just list out what we’re grateful for in a journal, directing our thanksgiving to ourselves? Is that really thanksgiving or just a warm … Read More

When no one wants to make dinner…

posted in: pantry | 0

By Karen Dubarry It’s 5:00 PM. You’re tired. The kids are cranky. Everyone is starving. There’s no dinner on the table. What now? I’ve been there. Despite my best intentions to plan every meal and to use my crockpot as often as possible, there are evenings when I’m not sure what’s for supper and I really don’t feel like cooking. What’s a busy family to do when no one feels like making supper? Repurpose Leftovers Here’s a hint about leftovers: … Read More

SO005 | Interval Planning: An example holiday plan

posted in: podcast | 1

Welcome to The Simplified Organization Audio Blog! Releasing weekly on Mondays, this podcast gives you short and punchy action items and mindset resets. Check out the podcast page here and please leave a review. Thanks! Test out interval planning for Christmas preparations. I’m a proponent of making short-term plans and goals – ones that can be tracked and kept top-of-mind easily. I call it ‘interval planning’ because I think it’s like interval training: Go all out for a short amount … Read More

Fried Rice Family Dinner, a home cooking “recipe”

posted in: pantry | 0

The fridge is full of bits and pieces of leftover meals from the week, but no one is excited about eating a meal of leftovers – especially when there’s not enough of one thing to go around. Let’s remake it into an entire new meal that seems fresh and new, instead of leftover buffet! That’s what fried rice, a recipe in Simplified Dinners, is best for! Simple, homemade fried rice will remake leftovers into a great all-in-one family dinner. Here’s … Read More

Find accountability.

posted in: attitude | 0

Organize your attitude #27 There is so much to do. Always. And there are always distractions, other possibilities, and any number of potential and real problems to derail our plans. Sometimes our plans do need to take back seat to real life. Sometimes we have to adjust on the fly and simply take care of the emergent realities as they unfold. But sometimes the reason we don’t follow through with our plans is not because something more important came up, … Read More

SO004 | Interval Planning: Keep laser focus

posted in: podcast | 1

Welcome to The Simplified Organization Audio Blog! Releasing weekly on Mondays, this podcast gives you short and punchy action items and mindset resets. Check out the podcast page here and please leave a review. Thanks! Stay focused on what matters. Leverage the interval training technique in your personal life by setting up your calendar in intervals and planning goals accordingly. Planning and executing in short-term bursts is a great way to keep laser focus and high energy. By always keeping … Read More

Fantabulous Friday Five

posted in: homemaking | 0

1. Focus Frustratingly true: From the book Do More Better by Tim Challies 2. Framework Follow me on Instagram I’ve been more consistent lately with my daily index card method, and it helps so much! It’s worth it to make that card, even when not everything on it gets crossed off. Try it out and don’t overcomplicate it. Most of my fallings-off have been due to trying to do too much or add too many list-making rules to the process. … Read More

SO003 | Interval Planning: Take a restful break

posted in: podcast | 1

Welcome to The Simplified Organization Audio Blog! Releasing weekly on Mondays, this podcast gives you short and punchy action items and mindset resets. Check out the podcast page here and please leave a review. Thanks! You need a break. Breaking up your year into intervals is a simple way to sharpen your focus and stay engaged with projects and the things that need to be done to keep life at home rolling along. Instead of looking ahead over an entire … Read More

SO002 | Interval Planning: Making an Interval Plan

posted in: podcast | 0

Welcome to The Simplified Organization Audio Blog! Releasing weekly on Mondays, this podcast gives you short and punchy action items and mindset resets. Check out the podcast page here and please leave a review. Thanks! Make interval plans work for you. Use the theory behind interval training to maximize your planning effectiveness. Just as runners train and gain strength and endurance by running in short, intense bursts and then going at a slower pace for awhile, so we can follow … Read More

SO001 | Interval Planning: Realistic Goal Setting

posted in: podcast | 5

Welcome to The Simplified Organization Audio Blog! Releasing weekly on Mondays, this podcast gives you short and punchy action items and mindset resets. Check out the podcast page here and please leave a review. Thanks! An Interval Plan Often when we plan out our goals, we think in year-long chunks of time, either personal goals in January or academic goals in August. If you’ve ever done this, perhaps you’ve noticed that it’s really difficult to keep those goals. A cycle … Read More

Friday Five

posted in: homemaking | 0

1. A quote for productivity What’s Best Next is one of my favorite productivity books – I think it’s better than Getting Things Done. And I love Perman’s definition of “gospel-driven productivity”: He goes on to say We should be radical and risky and creative and abundant in using our effectiveness to make life better for others. and one way to do that is to Implement systems that enable you to ultimately expand your capacity overall. …which is exactly what … Read More

Drink water.

posted in: attitude | 6

Organize your attitude #26 Some mornings it’s difficult to shake the sleep-fog off. Some afternoons it’s hard to beat the afternoon slump brain fog. Some days we just can’t seem to get all systems clear and running. Try a tall glass of cold water. Even mild dehydration can cause brain fog, fatigue, and headaches. Slugging back a glass full of cold water rehydrates your body, helps flush out toxins, and wakes you up as your body rushes blood around to … Read More

Meals are for connecting: 5 ways to build relationships in the kitchen

posted in: pantry | 1

by Christia Colquitt Have you ever read something that completely changed your mindset? The kind where you could not get it off your mind until you did something about it. I remember the day well that my mindset completely changed. The book Hands Free Mama had been tucked away in my closet for over a year before I gathered up the courage to open it. Why? I was terrified. I was afraid to go Hands Free. I knew my life … Read More

How to declutter your home

posted in: organizing | 1

So you want to get organized. Where do you even start? To be organized means to be purposefully prepared. The best preparation for the work of organization is to declutter: declutter stuff, declutter life, declutter your head. Organizing starts with decluttering, but decluttering is actually a much bigger job than simply clearing out closets. Here’s how to declutter your home – and also your head. The Containers: Declutter your home & head Decluttering is one of those processes that makes … Read More

Friday Five

posted in: homemaking | 0

1. A quote for keeping focused Yet a thing begun is half done. No matter how unpleasant a thing is to do, begin it and immediately it becomes less unpleasant. Form the excellent habit of making a start. – Joseph Morris Starting is the hardest part. Once you can overcome the hurdle of beginning, you’re well on your way to finishing. Whatever the task is, it’s probably not as bad as your imagination is making it out to be. Get … Read More

Get sleep.

posted in: attitude | 2

Organize your attitude #25 Grumpy babies go to bed. I learned that little catch phrase from a friend of mine and have used it so much that I’m sure my own children think that I invented it. One thing motherhood teaches us is that we are not so different from our children. We have the same inclinations and the same attitudes; we’ve just learned to mask them better and in more socially appropriate ways. Sometimes we just need to go … Read More

Friday Five: links, hacks, and more

posted in: productivity | 0

Every Most Fridays at Simply Convivial, I post a 5-point quick-take about our week. I thought I’d do something similar over here, but with a life and link focus instead of a homeschooling focus. Enjoy! 1. Formative Fundamentals A quote on time management to mull over for the weekend. The most manifest sign of wisdom is a continual cheerfulness. – Michal de Montaigne This wise cheerfulness is not a bury-your-head-in-the-sand variety, but one that comes because our eyes are fixed … Read More

Sing a song.

posted in: attitude | 2

Organize your attitude #24 It’s impossible to be grumpy and sing at the same time. Singing does something to us. It lifts us up out of our internal moping mode and puts us in tune. Through the movement of our voices, we move from discord to harmony. When we know this strategy, our true hearts are exposed. Often, when I realize that I could sing and pull myself up out of the funk I’m in, I realize that I don’t … Read More

3 Secrets that Will Make Your Canning Day a Success

posted in: pantry | 6

My husband still remembers being sardined into his mom’s minivan between his brother and sister, the backseat folded down and piled high with fruit and vegetables from Eastern Washington. The orchard-fresh, abundant goodness made the trip over the mountains more than worthwhile. The heavenly smell of ripening peaches filled the air as they drove, and the kids all had bellyaches by the time they got home from eating so much fruit. His mom would spend the following weekend canning all … Read More

Get steps.

posted in: attitude | 0

Organize your attitude #23 My Fitbit taught me this lesson. I should have learned it earlier. When my son would start getting angsty over long division or reducing fractions, I’d send him out to run a lap around the yard. He didn’t think it helped, but it did. Using his body helped relax his mind. His breathing pattern changed. He got some fresh air and some space from the situation. When he came back, he had a fresh start and … Read More

Keeping an Evernote daily to-do list

posted in: planning | 2

I’ve written before about the benefits of writing a daily to do list on an index card, but for several months I’ve experimented with using Evernote for my task list instead of a daily index card – just to see how going all digital would work out for me. I have gone back to writing out a short daily to-do note, but I learned a lot from my little experiment. Using Evernote for a daily to-do list and journal is … Read More

Refreshing Iced Herbal Green Tea – no sugar!

posted in: pantry | 2

The weather is heating up and a cold, tasty beverage is exactly what hits the spot on a hot afternoon. But so many of the iced drink options are calorie-laden, full of sugar or juice or dairy. I wanted a drink that I could drink glass after glass without guilt or counting – that I could slug while still keeping my weight loss plan. I’ve hit upon the simple drink that fits the bill: iced herbal green tea. I can … Read More

Write a daily note.

Organize your attitude #22 How do we keep track of all that needs to be done? How, if we do track all that needs to be done, do we keep the most important tasks top of mind rather than lost in the sea of details? We need to write a daily note. The power of a little index card or post it note is in the brevity. It allows us to keep our expectations realistic and focused. Selecting 3 priority … Read More

Dinner Isn’t Really About the Food

posted in: pantry | 0

By Tracy Grossmann It was at the beginning of this school year that I picked up the Autobiography of Ben Franklin. My husband has long been a fan of biographies, and I have provided them in a steady stream to my kid-readers, who also love them. I, however, have rarely read biographies (in fact, I can’t remember more than I can count on one hand, I’m sorry to say!) Anyway, I was fascinated to find this little gem of wisdom … Read More

Make your bed.

posted in: attitude | 0

Organize your attitude #21 It seems like such a little thing. But sometimes it is the little things that make a world of difference, especially when it comes to our attitudes. Yes, making your bed can change your attitude. I’m living proof of it. Sometimes, when we’re feeling like our whole life is a mess and our home is worse and we aren’t even sure where our recovery plan should begin, our temptation is to simply give up. Starting is … Read More

Blaze the trail.

posted in: attitude | 1

Organize your attitude #20 This week during the Planning That Matters chat I hosted with several Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done alumni, Libby made an excellent point near the end: The more you do stuff the easier it gets. You know, it’s having those rails to run on. Setting something up is hard and getting [the kids] used to something is hard, especially if it’s something that isn’t appealing to them. … Blazing the trail is … Read More

Planning That Matters

posted in: planning, podcast | 0

Planning isn’t just for certain personality types. You can adapt the principles to whatever situation or style you have – these 4 moms will share how they have done just that! Join us Tuesday, June 21st, at 1pm to hear 5 moms talk about the planning ideas and practices that have changed their lives the most. You’ll also get a chance to see the way they keep track of their plans and ideas! Hear about real planning and real life, … Read More

Serve others.

posted in: attitude | 3

Organize your attitude #19 by Allison Burr of TruthGoodnessBeauty.net My husband and I recently purchased a home that provides us the opportunity to pretend we are Innkeepers, something we have dreamed about becoming since we were married in a bed and breakfast 16 years ago. We have since stayed in B&Bs around the country, mentally filing away information for future use. Our new home, as God would ordain it, is letting us implement a bit of that vision we have … Read More

Homemade Yogurt by the Gallon

posted in: pantry | 17

Homemade yogurt is simple and inexpensive. There is a learning curve and there are a few details you must pay attention to, but it is a mostly hands-off process that can deliver yogurt to your fridge at a fraction of the cost. I’ve been making homemade yogurt for over 7 years, with differing levels of success. I think I’ve tried every method Pinterest boasts, except for trying a specialty yogurt maker. No, I want my yogurt family-sized. I want to … Read More

Be impervious.

posted in: attitude | 7

Organize your attitude #18 Our attitude is the most important factor in how we handle life, and it is a multi-faceted component. One of the components of an organized attitude – and one we don’t consider often – is imperviousness. The dictionary defines the adjective impervious as not allowing liquid to flow through unable to be affected by This is not being unemotional, although at times it may appear so. It is, however, not letting circumstances or irritants dictate your … Read More

Give everything a home.

Organize your attitude #18 You can’t EHAP if things don’t actually have a home. As we start making plans for what to do over summer break, don’t merely add “declutter” to your list. Add “give things homes” to your list instead. Yes, we do need to get rid of junk we don’t need or use. But how do we know how much to declutter? How do we know when we’re done? The answer comes from evaluating the space we have, … Read More

Being OK with a little morning routine

posted in: attitude | 1

Organize your attitude #17 by Kara Anderson of Quill & Camera For a very long time, I have aspired to have Big, Grand Mornings. And so last year I started setting my alarm unbelievably early so I could wake up to a quiet house and have at least an hour of peace and solitude. I’ve heard this sort of time described as “finding myself before they (the kids) find me,” and that definitely applies here. I want to be available … Read More

Roll with the punches.

posted in: attitude | 1

Organize your attitude #16 The tagline I repeat over and over again in Work the Plan is Work the plan. Roll with the punches. Do the right next thing. What does it mean to roll with the punches? Here is what my dictionary tells me: (of a boxer) move one’s body away from an opponent’s blows so as to lessen the impact. adapt oneself to adverse circumstances. The first meaning provides us a striking image, a metaphor we can conjure … Read More

Entropy: 3 ways to deal with it

posted in: homemaking | 0

We’ve all experienced it. The frustration when right after folding the towels, an infant crawls over and spreads them around the room. The exhaustion of cleaning the corners in one area, only to find the area we cleaned yesterday has been – heaven forbid – used and dirtied already. The surprise that the grocery run we just did (or was it last week?) has been entirely consumed yet people are still hungry. Entropy gets us every time. When God cursed … Read More

Accept entropy as a part of life.

posted in: attitude | 8

Organize your attitude #15 Do you, dear reader, know entropy? We all experience it in every aspect of life. It is the muscles that weaken when not exercised, the dust that accumulates on the shelves, the clutter that seems to spawn in every corner. Entropy is real. Entropy is part of the current natural order. The dictionary defines it as, “a gradual decline into disorder.” That’s real life. Gardens grow weeds. If we want to handle life well, we have … Read More

Know that life will change.

posted in: attitude | 0

Organize your attitude #14 Too often we go into a manic planning or organizing fit, thinking that if we just get on top of it now, we’ll be on top of it once and for all. A “once and for all” attitude to organizing, cleaning, or planning is bound to disappoint. Nothing in this life is once and for all. Life goes through different phases, stages, and seasons. Nothing we do will change that. Instead, what we do should work … Read More

Own your thoughts.

posted in: attitude | 0

Organize your attitude #13 I recently went to a seminar with the Femina Girls in nearby Moscow, ID. There I heard two of my favorite speakers and writers: Nancy Wilson and her daughter Rachel Jankovic. In her talk, Nancy reminded us that we are to set our minds on what is good and true and excellent. It is active; it is purposeful. We might have a thought or a feeling, but we don’t have to let it in to stay. … Read More

Crazy Simple Lasagna Bake – or freeze!

posted in: pantry | 1

Lasagna is a lot of work. I only make it once a year or so as a special meal for guests, generally. But it’s so yummy. And it’s so filling. It’d be nice for it to be a family staple, but it would have to be less messy, less work, and take less time. There is a way. It’s called Crazy Lasagna. Crazy Simple Lasagna In a large skillet, brown ground beef (1/2-1 pound) with a diced onion until it’s … Read More

I had a clean bedroom & I hated it.

posted in: organizing | 5

If you’ve been around awhile, you know how I struggled for years to learn the habit of making my bed. Well, first I argued for years that it was a silly, stupid waste of time. Then I wrestled with my habit of griping about it and all the advice out there to try it because it truly makes a different. I gave in, tried to change my ways, and found that simply deciding to change wasn’t the end. It took … Read More

Evernote for Home Routines

There is so much to keep track of at home. Not only does everyone want to eat three times a day, but the house also has a fast trajectory down Entropy Lane. There are apps for home routines. But will we really check yet another app consistently and regularly? Do we need one more place to keep information? Whenever feasible and efficient, I think it’s best to consolidate into using as few apps as possible to manage your home and … Read More

Create an island of sanity.

Organize your attitude #12 It’s pretty much inevitable. With a busy, active family, the stuff will quickly move from their designated homes and fill the clear horizontal spaces. How can we handle this in the middle of an average day while keeping our calm and still caring about how we keep our homes? We must remember that the point of organizing is not so everything is neat and tidy and clear all the time. The point is that we are … Read More

Evernote for Menu Planning

I know. Menu planning is a pain. I am all about the tips and tricks to minimize the time and brain-power we pour into menu planning. It’s something we need to do, something we need to become consistent with, but it doesn’t have to drain us or take an entire Saturday morning. Listen to this post! http://media.blubrry.com/simplifiedorganization/content.blubrry.com/simplifiedorganization/Whole_SO_ep34_FINAL.mp3 Digital Menu Planning We can streamline things and make it simpler. One tool I use to streamline a lot in my life is … Read More

Keep in fellowship.

posted in: attitude | 3

Organize Your Attitude #11 Too often, when we start making goals around keeping house better or getting more done, our focus shifts too far and we start seeing these means as ends – which means anything that gets in the way of our ends is a problem to be overcome or a frustration to bear resentfully. And too often, that means grumbling against our husbands or shouting at our kids. We could reach our goals, we think to ourselves, if … Read More

Sometimes I think planning is pointless.

But it isn’t. Let’s continue growing into our good work and not give up! Sometimes we’re frustrated because we’re trying to make our new life situation fit an old plan. Just because a certain routine and system worked at one point, doesn’t necessarily mean it will now. Family life requires adapting, because people’s needs change constantly! On Monday, Mackenzie Monroe and I will discuss the importance of planning, even when life is ever-changing and never-constant. We’ll chat about how to … Read More

How can I have a plan when life is always changing?

It’s possible. Let’s continue growing into our good work and not give up! Sometimes we’re frustrated because we’re trying to make our new life situation fit an old plan. Just because a certain routine and system worked at one point, doesn’t necessarily mean it will now. Family life requires adapting, because people’s needs change constantly! On Monday, Mackenzie Monroe and I will discuss the importance of planning, even when life is ever-changing and never-constant. We’ll chat about how to adjust … Read More

Embrace Fifteen Minutes

posted in: attitude | 2

Organize Your Attitude #10 One way we give in to perfectionism is to not start unless we know we can finish and get the results we want. But as busy moms, that is rarely possible. We can’t put things off until the perfect moment, because that moment will not come. Instead, try embracing 15 minute chunks. I like results and outcomes, but progress is more important and more achievable. In fifteen minutes you can make progress. Cleaning and organizing the … Read More

Family meals, week in and week out

posted in: pantry | 2

Weekly Menu Plan and Kitchen Snapshots ~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life – in my kitchen. ~ I hope you had a wonderful Easter! We had a low-key day at home, but we still celebrated with good food, including my favorite broccoli salad (it has bacon in it). He is risen! Pretty Follow me on Instagram I am so thankful my mom does the egg-coloring every year. She boils up a dozen for each kid, sets up, … Read More

Cleaning House While Homechooling

posted in: homemaking | 2

Cleaning and I have a complicated relationship. I am naturally a Messie. I can easily cultivate my oblivion to the state of my house as well as my disdain for the menial, always-needing-to-be-redone work. But I am slowly, continually, reforming – repenting. After all, I know Elisabeth Elliot is right when she writes: The way you keep your house, the way you organize your time, the care you take in your personal appearance, the things you spend your money on, … Read More

Smile.

posted in: attitude | 0

Organize Your Attitude #9 Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. –Mother Theresa It’s easy to smile at our newborns, smile at a cute three-year-old antic, smile at our bigger kids when they volunteer to help out. It’s good our life as mother provides us these opportunities to smile, because smiling is good for us and it is good for our kids. Smiling comes naturally to some … Read More

Iterate your plans.

posted in: attitude, planning | 2

Organize Your Attitude #8 It’s paralyzed us all. Perfectionism. We wait to start moving forward with our plans because we aren’t sure if we’re doing it right. We aren’t sure they will work. We aren’t sure we like the colors we picked. We pull back and reformat the page or change the app we’re using. We make the list over again to ensure we didn’t miss anything. We spend more time planning than doing the plan. That’s perfectionism, and here … Read More

Recipe: Chocolate-Covered Coconut Patties

posted in: pantry | 2

These are my husband’s request every birthday. It always makes me happy when he does, because I first made them as an inspiration, out of my pantry cupboards & imagination. I had just made some homemade peppermint patties, saw shredded coconut in my pantry, and wondered if the peppermint patty recipe could take some variants. So I set out to try my hand at inventing other flavors of patties. This was the first one I tried, and it’s actually the … Read More

Why can’t the dishes wait for morning?

posted in: organizing | 5

Baked chicken. Glazed carrots. Roasted potatoes. I had put dinner on the table. Wasn’t that enough for one day? To get up and then face the collection of plates, cups, pans, utensils, pots – not to mention the counters themselves. Ugh. Soaking seemed to be the best solution. If the dishes wait, no harm is done. Really, I was being a better housekeeper for putting it all off until the morning. It would take me so much less time, I … Read More

Recite mottos.

posted in: attitude | 2

Organize Your Attitude #7 A motto is a short saying that helps you stay focused and committed. Having little mottos will make it easier for you remember to do what you want to do. Some of my mottos include Work the plan. Roll with the punches. Choose the right next thing. Uses est magister optimus. (Practice is the best teacher.) Come what may, time and the hour run through the roughest day. (Shakespeare) Prayer is the most important part of … Read More

Kids in the kitchen – a few tips

posted in: pantry | 2

Kids in the kitchen: “Mom? Can I make muffins for breakfast?” It’s a question that should be music to my ears. “Can I make dinner tonight? Then you could rest.” What a treat! Should I not be thankful, being in the third trimester of pregnancy, and, many days, in need of just such a rest? I have been blessed with a few older boys who love to create in the kitchen. And yet, I find myself saying “no” more than … Read More

Know your vocations.

posted in: attitude | 4

Organize Your Attitude #6 If there’s one thing that derails our attitudes, it’s feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about what we should actually be doing. There are so many options, so many opportunities. We simply must say no at times, but how can we know when we should say no and when we need to be stretched by saying yes? The answer lies in our vocations. Vocation literally means calling. It is much more than a job, although it includes your … Read More

3 Ingredient Chipotle Chicken Marinade Recipe

posted in: pantry | 3

Sometimes chicken is bland. That is why I am going to share with you a simple, 3 ingredient chipotle marinade recipe. It’s too easy to simply serve up chicken as the protein for the meal without taking the time or thought to make it pop. It doesn’t have to take much time or thought, I promise. Just a tad. And only 3 ingredients. Chipotle Chicken Marinade will make your chicken stand on its own, even if you use it (or … Read More

Pause to pray.

posted in: attitude | 0

Organize Your Attitude #5 The advice to begin our days with prayer is often heard, and rightly so. We need grace and clarity to face our duties with faith, love, and patience. We do well to heed that advice. But prayer is also something we can weave into everything we do, as 1 Thessalonians tells us, “pray without ceasing.” The Heidelberg Catechism asks a question I think we’ve all felt, whether or not we’ve said it out loud: Why do … Read More

Meditate on truth.

posted in: attitude | 2

Organize your attitude #4 Meditation is rather hip right now, but the kind of meditation I am speaking of is not emptying our minds, but rather filling them. The Psalms speak of meditation, and in the New Testament we are exhorted to meditate on what is good and true and upright and beautiful. Think on these things. We are thus commanded with good reason: it is good for us. It is good for our attitudes. It is how we keep … Read More

Instructions for easy chicken broth

posted in: pantry | 1

Chicken bone broth is so easy that you can hardly call it a recipe. All you do is dump your bones into a crockpot, fill it with water, and let it sit on high or low all day or overnight. Strain out the bones, and you have the best chicken broth available – way better than anything you can buy in the store and so much more healthy! Here’s what I use to make chicken broth: Easy chicken broth instructions … Read More

3 Hacks to Get More Done at Home

posted in: productivity | 1

Moms at home have a lot to manage and a lot to get done. Though quick tips and tricks often don’t get us far, sometimes there are little hacks that, once incorporated, free up not only some of our time, but more importantly, some of our brain space, our mental energy. Here are three productivity hacks that help me get more done. 1. Use alarms & timers to get more done. Alarms are for more than just getting up in … Read More

Change the story.

posted in: attitude | 2

Organize your attitude #3 What we think matters. While it’s still awkward and uncomfortable, we accept the story God is telling in our lives and tell it to ourselves. We can take the reins and “take every thought captive.” We can change our thoughts. And by changing our thoughts, we can change the story we see ourselves acting. Notice the story. Our racing thoughts include an interpretation of what is happening to us. What is happening? What does it mean? … Read More

Keep realistic expectations.

posted in: attitude | 1

How to organize your attitude #2 A potent attitude poison is unrealistic expectations. When we make a to-do list full of our own pet projects when our time is actually taken up with our children and their needs, we’re going to be grumpy and feel our children are getting in the way. Instead, we need to put them on our to-do lists and make sure we meet their needs before we add more in. When we think that we can … Read More

How to focus on habits not results

Or, Four Focused Ways to Build Habits So much goal setting advice out there focuses on achieving certain outcomes. We’re supposed to set our eyes on a particular result we want to reach and work until we get there. Maybe – maybe – this works with projects, but very little of our lives at home are project-based. Most of our time is spent in the day-in, day-out routines that build our home and family. Listen to this post! http://media.blubrry.com/simplifiedorganization/content.blubrry.com/simplifiedorganization/Whole_SO_ep38_FINAL.mp3 SO038: … Read More

3 Keys to Organizing Your Attitude

My new tagline at Simplified Organization is “organize your attitude,” because I think our own mindset as moms is crucial in our homes. This theme fits well here, too, because an organized attitude is at the root of having a convivial home. Charlotte Mason said that fully 1/3 of our children’s curriculum is atmosphere, and though candles and art on the wall are nice touches, I believe that it is our own attitudes as we go about our business that … Read More

Kitchen contentment for ordinary days

posted in: pantry | 1

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life – in my kitchen. ~ We’re back to hum-drum daily life, but people still have to eat every day – three times a day! It’s best to keep a cheerful perspective on the whole thing, otherwise the only option will be to weep. But, with handy tricks for making our food instantly taste better, how can we not be inwardly amused about the whole thing? It’s like Jedi mind-tricks in the … Read More

Choose a growth mindset.

posted in: attitude | 3

How to organize your attitude #1 I am so excited. In 2016 I am going to be writing one post a week about tactics for organizing our attitudes. Each one will be a single, bite-sized strategy for reclaiming peace and calm and buoyancy in the midst of the day to day. I know I am going to benefit from the extended and consistent contemplation, and I hope it will help you, too. Plus, I’m lining up guest posts for the … Read More

One Quick Hack to Improve Your Plan

posted in: planning, podcast | 9

Write your plan the night before and supercharge your day. The day was over. The kids in bed, the house quiet. Time to sigh, breathe deep, and decide how to relax. I glanced down and I caught sight of my daily index card plan I’d made that morning. Ugh. I’d totally forgotten about it after the hubbub of the day had begun. I had begun with such high hopes and ended up feeling like I’d simply held on for dear … Read More

The Easy Way to Make Your Meals Taste Better

posted in: pantry | 5

A while ago, at the local, super-popular restaurant we love to go to, my son ordered a delicious Warmed Spiced Applesauce. Boy, was it tasty! I wondered what their secret was. I recently stumbled across this fascinating TED Talk by a Cornell Researcher named Brian Wansink. The entire talk is extremely interesting, as he talks about how our environment and other cues can influence how much and what we eat. He has conducted many, many studies on the psychology of eating, and … Read More

5 Habits for a More Productive Year

Do you want to be more productive in 2016? What does being productive even mean? It’s not simply getting more done, but getting the right things done, done well, and done cheerfully. Whether or not you want to do more in 2016, I bet you want to do what you do better – whether that means more consistently, more joyfully, or more skillfully. Me, too. Listen to this post! http://media.blubrry.com/simplifiedorganization/content.blubrry.com/simplifiedorganization/Whole_SO_ep42_FINAL.mp3 SO042: Productive Habits Just because I write about productivity and … Read More

A menu plan for back to school

posted in: pantry | 0

It’s not only a new week, it’s a new year! We start up homeschooling again today, so that means it’s back to regular meals that need to be substantive yet quick and simple. One way I do that is by delegating one meal a week to either my 12-year-old or 10-year-old. They get to choose a dinner they’d like to prepare from Simplified Dinners for New Cooks and run with it. I stand by if help is required or if … Read More

What a Novel Taught Me about Housework

posted in: homemaking | 11

Years ago, when my third born was just a baby, I hated housework. I was torn between wanting to be a good, competent homemaker and thinking that the state of my bedroom or the kitchen wasn’t a big deal. I could get meals on the table, keep things stocked, and complete a project just fine. But the day-in day-out routine tasks were a drag. I’m not going to say that I love those routines now or that I totally rock … Read More

How to Write Meaningful Goals

posted in: planning | 0

Meaningful goals that align with our responsibilities rather than our wishful thinking are worth the time it takes to make them, review them, and work toward them. It’s a common scenario, at least for me. I am in a reflective mood, thinking about all the ways I’m a slacker, all the ways I’d like to improve. I do my best to narrow it down to one three goals – habits to learn, results to reach – how about three of … Read More

The difference between responsive & reactive (and how to apply that to your planning)

Responsive planning allows for both intentionality and serving the needs of others, whereas reactive living will drain you dry. I’ve read so many productivity books over the years that I’ve lost count. I enjoy those sorts of books, and I’ve tried and scrapped many methods over the years, perfecting my own system more and more and over and over. The thing is, most productivity advice out there doesn’t translate straight across to our lives as moms, many of us homeschooling, … Read More

Sanity Hack: Post-Christmas Whirlwind

It happens every year, and the more kids you have, the more intense it is. You prepare for days beforehand: wrapping gifts, baking cookies, cleaning bathrooms. Then, it is finally TODAY. Christmas. You relish Christmas day. Your kids relish it. Stockings are opened, cinnamon rolls and bacon are enjoyed, presents are unwrapped, coffee is savored, the afternoon drifts on with perhaps a movie or a board game. Then comes the huge meal. More sugar, another glass of wine, late bedtimes, … Read More

From email insanity to email savvy

Yes, even you. We all get so much email. Spam, scam, solicited, unsolicited – our inboxes flood in an overwhelming deluge every day. We can’t simply bury our heads in the sand and wish it all away. We have to take the reins, learn the tricks, and manage our email. Email is a necessity of the modern life and if we’re determined to get organized, that includes our email inbox. Just in time to start the new year with a … Read More

The very best thing you can do for your grocery bill (and how Simplified Pantry can help!)

posted in: pantry | 9

by Tracy Grossmann On Thursday we ran out of half and half. Because I am allergic to creamer, this is my morning coffee essential. In essence, it was kitchen Armageddon. I had to get to a grocery store. There are those kind of items in every kitchen- essential items that, when they become depleted, warrant a trip to the store- true emergency or not. In my kitchen, it’s when I run out of flour, or milk, or – because I apparently … Read More

How to use Trello to track Christmas gifts

posted in: organizing | 6

Trello is a different sort of task management app. It is sort of like having multiple bulletin boards in a row with tasks on sticky notes that you move around between boards. You can name the boards whatever you want, add items to a board, and then drag those tasks around to whichever board you want. This makes it the perfect app to track your Christmas gift planning on. First, I set up boards with the different stages of gift-giving, … Read More

Why should I clean my house?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Personally, I always wanted a home to keep. I never wanted a career. I have only ever wanted a home and family to tend. I’ve never questioned that it is worthwhile. Whenever I think of it I am flooded with gratitude that God gave me a husband and home so early, so that I didn’t have to find some random job or feel obligated to pursue a … Read More

5 Real Kitchen Tools for the Young Cook

posted in: homemaking | 0

If you have a budding young chef on your hands, a great Christmas gift would be some tools to help them feel confident and capable in the kitchen. These are the kitchen tools my kids use the most when they either help me cook or go solo in the kitchen. Sometimes having the right tool makes all the difference. First, a sturdy step stool is a must. Being able not only to reach the counter or the stove, but to … Read More

Gratitude will make you more productive

Why do we do what we do? Sometimes, an end result can look the same even when the motivations behind the action are opposite. We might be cleaning our kitchen to impress guests. Our motivation is to look good, to appear other than we are, to have our guests think highly of us. We clean because we are thinking of what others might think or say of us. We might be cleaning our kitchen to keep up our pride. Our … Read More

How to Manage the Muddle of Daily Life

posted in: homemaking | 0

Homeschool life is a muddle, there’s no denying it. I think we are all familiar with the feeling of being overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done and frustrated by how quickly everything needs to be done yet again. We’re always wondering if what we’re doing is right or the best way or if there’s some magic sauce we’re missing that will smooth the path for our daily business and daily interactions. I’m sorry. I have searched and searched, … Read More

The frustrations of tidying up

I set the timer for fifteen minutes. Surely in fifteen minutes, I thought, I can make a difference in this room. The room was mine. The mess was an assortment of laundry, books, accumulated junk, out-of-season kids’ clothes, and random bits. I knew there was no way I was going to finish cleaning the room in fifteen minutes, or even that day, but I had to make a start. Tip 1: Starting is the hardest part. Setting a timer is … Read More

A peek into some breakfast strategies at our house

posted in: pantry | 2

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life – in my kitchen. ~ In honor of this week’s release of Simplified Breakfasts, I thought I’d share a little peek into breakfast strategies that have been working in our house lately. Pretty Prepared   The number 1 strategy that makes no-stress breakfast happen on homeschool mornings has definitely been taking the time on Saturday to prepare baked items in advance. I make an extra-large batch of muffins and bread and … Read More

Simplify breakfast & feed the troops without going crazy

posted in: homemaking | 1

By Tracy Grossmann If I am being honest, breakfast is often my hardest meal of the day to cook. Cooking breakfast, at some level, is admitting that the day has actually begun, and I am responsible to be an Adult to participate. I know I need breakfast. I know that my family needs breakfast. My children need a good breakfast to think well during their studies, to nourish them after a long overnight fast. My husband needs food with enough … Read More

How to Simplify Breakfast on Busy Mornings

posted in: pantry | 0

By Tracy Grossmann If you are like me, your mornings are rarely peaceful and quiet. Already your mind is racing with the list you have going for today. You are thinking about getting everyone ready for what lies ahead…and oh yeah, everyone needs food. Here’s how we can simplify breakfast Having a few strategies in our back pocket is all we need to stay calm and cut stress. 1. Prepare in advance. Often mornings are not the time where we … Read More

You need to plan ALL THE MEALS

posted in: pantry | 0

I know it seems overwhelming. I know even just planning dinner sometimes seems overwhelming. But, seriously, who wants to wake up and decide in the pre-coffee fog what to feed the troops for breakfast? It has to be decided ahead of time. Everyone talks about how much planning out dinners saves you from mental effort and decision fatigue, but that’s only 1/3 of the meals you feed people! Imagine if all the meals were planned – how much mental effort … Read More

My favorite tools to make homemade bread

posted in: homemaking | 1

Homemade bread is so simple and cheap to make, and homemade bread is so much more tasty and healthy, that I rarely buy my bread. As Tracy explains in this post about how to make homemade bread simply and easily, bread making is more of an art than a science. These are some of my favorite art tools, then. Stainless Steel Bread Pans These stainless steel bread pans are easy to clean, don’t wear out or flake weird coatings off … Read More

Menu plan for fall

posted in: pantry | 0

I’m always so happy when the weather gets cool again. I do love the sun, but I also love how much soup simplifies dinner. I’m going all out this week with soup three times! We’ll see if the family revolts by the end… Bread makes the perfect companion to soup. Check out my new free resource, all about homemade bread: Breakfasts This Week Monday: Sunday leftovers with scrambled eggs Tuesdays & Thursdays: muffins & simplified smoothies Wednesdays & Fridays: oatmeal … Read More

Google Calendar for Menu Planning

posted in: planning | 10

Google Calendar is a great online tool. Of course there is the obvious use for calendars, but you can also set up calendars to use as journals, menu plans, blog planning, birthday reminders, and even school calendars or schedules. I like to set up each of these as separate calendars so that they show up in different colors and they are easy to toggle on and off individually. My Menu Plan calendar usually has all three meals planned out, because … Read More

How to make homemade bread, the easy way

posted in: pantry | 7

by Tracy Grossman There’s something about fall that makes me want to put on some soup and bake homemade bread. We live in the middle of Iowa, where sultry hot summers make July and August baking unreasonable endeavors. So when that crisp air starts to linger through the mornings and socks are a source of comfort (and not suffocation) for your feet, it’s time to start up the oven once again. I did not grow up making bread, but I … Read More

On bad starts, good endings, and the muddle of the middle

Another week in the books. Whew! This weekend is our church’s women’s retreat, so I even get to skip town on Friday and leave the children with Dad to oversee math and all the rest. :thumbsup: ~ 1 ~ Sometimes we all have our difficult starts. One day it’s one child, the next day it’s a different one. Then it’s my turn to lose it. I lose it so badly we can’t carry on with Morning Time and I have … Read More

Tips & reality checks from my kitchen

posted in: pantry | 0

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life – in my kitchen. ~When you prepare and serve 21 meals a week, some bloopers and also some beauties are bound to occur. This week was no exception.   Pretty Apples If you give a boy an apple… and a knife… Put the boy in charge of cutting apples, and they will be “geometric.” That is, he said to himself, “Let’s see how many different shapes I can make!” I didn’t … Read More

Budgeting time for rest and renewal

posted in: productivity | 2

So, I’ve written about why time budgets are important and helpful and also shared the details of my own. It’s so easy to fill out that spreadsheet or piece of paper with an idealistic frame of mind that does not account for the realities of working out a plan in a house full of people. To keep your time budget in touch with real life, keep in mind these three factors. Budget Margin To make your time budget work better, … Read More

Discipline & Doing the Right Next Thing

posted in: homemaking | 5

Last week I pulled up a quote from my favorite Elisabeth Elliot book, Disciple: The Glad Surrender. It has been several years since I’ve looked at it – my memory is reading it in our previous house, so I guess that would be over 6 years! So, I picked it up again and have been revisiting it. It is simultaneously convicting and encouraging. I love how Elisabeth Elliot never pulls a punch, yet remains gracious. She begins her section on … Read More

What we’re eating this week

posted in: pantry | 0

Here we are, starting a new week with a plan to eat – 3 meals every single day! It feels good to start with a plan. Not only am I starting with a plan this week, but Saturday I was also able to make 2 dozen rolls and 4 dozen muffins, as well as our Sunday whole wheat cinnamon rolls, which will ease up not only the prep time for meals during the week, but also the mental effort required … Read More

Why you need a weekly time budget

posted in: planning | 1

Have you ever come upon the end of your week and wished you had just one more day. One more day would have been enough, we tell ourselves, to finish out our to do list for the week. Sounds similar to coming to the twenty-fifth of the month and wishing for just another hundred dollars for the close of the month. However, where raises might come, we all get the same allotment of time and it won’t ever change. Just … Read More

Dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.

posted in: attitude, podcast | 2

This post is adapted from the transcript of the Introduction video in the Work Your Plan Video Training We really must begin with organizing our attitude before we organize anything else. We might think that making a plan and working a plan is all about the planner, the app, the method, but the truth is that how we think about our planning going into it matters tremendously. I remember very vividly being struck by a line of poetry once quoted … Read More

Be flexible with the end in mind

posted in: attitude, planning | 0

Flexibility. We know that’s what we need as moms. While businessmen have office doors to close and paper-based projects that stay put when they leave the room, we do not. Our responsibilities revolve around people. Not just any people, either. Our people are growing, changing, learning all the time. What worked during one season doesn’t work the next. Add another baby and all the dynamics shift again on top of the lack of sleep. Yet too often we confuse flexibility … Read More

What’s the difference between a plan that works and a plan that frustrates?

I think we’ve all experienced the confusion and frustration of trying to get our lives organized and under control, but feeling like we’re missing a piece somewhere. I personally can’t stand feeling that way, so I set out to determine what the essential pieces were and how I’d handle them. Then if it didn’t work, I’d know the problem was me and not the plan. It was time for me to stop creating new planning routines and methods and stick … Read More

Planning methods, questions, bonus videos, and more!

posted in: planning | 2

Thank you so much to those who were able to be part of the live Paper v. Digital Planning Methods webinar and who kept the conversation flowing! It was fun to read back over the whole chat box log after the webinar! It’s funny, but as I was putting together the paper planning track of Work the Plan, watching all sorts of Bullet Journal videos on YouTube, I was almost ready to jump ship off my task management app and … Read More

Interval Planning for Growth

posted in: planning, podcast | 4

The problem with much of the productivity and planning advice out there is that it begins with a vision for a 5-year outcome. When we as mothers at home try to do that, we are rather at a loss. We might not even know how many children we’ll have in 5 years. If your oldest is 5, you’re not likely to accurately foresee what it’s like to have a 10 year old – and the same is true if your … Read More

What making my bed taught be about goals.

posted in: attitude | 2

The backstory I was a child who hated making my bed and got away with leaving it undone as often as I could manage. I hated pointless work, and what is more pointless than making a bed you’re just going to get in and mess up again at the end of the day? Yes, this attitude was a terrible one to go into motherhood and homemaking with, and all those childhood and adolescent years of insisting that such things were … Read More

Why do we make plans when they rarely work out?

posted in: homemaking | 1

All my writing time and energy has been spent in my upcoming video training: Work the Plan. So, I decided to both roll with that and yet not neglect posting by simply sharing some of that writing here with you as a sort of preview. The following is about half of the script I wrote for the introduction video to Work the Plan , and I think it addresses something that any planner-type will resonate with. We might think that … Read More

Let’s talk planning methods!

posted in: planning | 0

How many different planners and planning methods have you tried over the years? I’ve set up a boatload, myself. So as we are all about to start fall schedules, begin new routines, and try for more organization in our lives, let’s talk planning methods – what our options are, what works, what doesn’t, and what is the real secret to finding a planning method that will stick. You know I like digital planning. After all, I wrote Paperless Home Organization. … Read More

Secret to Sanity: Allison’s Weekly Review

posted in: planning | 0

Over the past couple weeks, I have written about how Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done has changed my views on habit-forming and reinforced my love of, and utilization of, systems. Today, I want to share how the course taught me a brand-new practice within my household management routine: The weekly review. Frankly, I am not sure how I missed this key element of household management. For the first 14 years of our marriage, I handled things … Read More

My kitchen command center upgrade

posted in: organizing | 0

Setting up a command center in or near your kitchen as a hub for important papers and supplies is one organizing step with the Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done self-paced course. I set mine up inside a kitchen cupboard from the day we moved into this house 6 years ago. I have posted details and pictures before, and that set up has served me well for a long time now. However, I noticed that the command … Read More

Focusing on habits rather than results

posted in: attitude | 4

Adding children to our families always forces us to up our game. For myself, the birth of each of our four children presented more relational & emotional complication than practical troubles. It is easier for me to handle my tasks and projects with efficiency than handling the tender, needy souls of human beings. As I mentioned in my last post, “Home Systems: Think in Three” , I came to the Simplified Organization course with a fairly well-established household management routine. … Read More

Why we keep trying to get organized.

How many times have you tried to organize your home or your life? I’ve lost count, myself. Most of us get the urge, the nagging feeling that we should be doing this better, we should be organized, we should be on top of our circumstances. Where does this feeling come from? Why do we keep trying to get organized? Why do we feel like we’ve never arrived? There have been times where I have decided that feeling that I should … Read More

Clean house with the end in mind

If you’re like me, you try – at least occasionally – to become better, more effective, more competent in your roles and responsibilities at home. And then after a period of trying, you peter out because it turns out it’s quite exhausting to grow and change and fight entropy and bad habits. We have to become accustomed to and accepting of small change over time: faithful application, faithful repentance, day in and day out. Rather than huge life overhauls that don’t … Read More

Menu planning for hot summer days

posted in: pantry | 2

It’s going to be another hot week here with temps over 100 many days. I know I’m not going to feel like cooking, and so a menu plan is all the more necessary. I might still have to make dinner, but at least I don’t have to think about it. Breakfasts This Week Monday: Sunday leftovers with scrambled eggs Tuesdays & Thursdays: German pancakes Wednesdays & Fridays: muffins I made Saturday and put in the freezer, along with yogurt and … Read More

Home Systems: Think in Three

posted in: homemaking | 1

Seven years ago, I was approached about an opportunity to speak with a local mom’s group about household management and organization. I was delighted to take on the speaking engagement, though I inquired why I had been chosen, seemingly randomly, for the task. The group leader explained that she had overheard me talking to another mom about “setting up systems” that work well at home, so that things like laundry and grocery shopping become part of the fabric of daily … Read More

Whole wheat cinnamon rolls – a recipe for Sunday breakfasts

posted in: pantry | 3

Off and on now for a couple years, I’ve made cinnamon rolls on Saturday to have for Sunday breakfast. I wanted a way to have a special, set-apart breakfast, but one that didn’t leave the kitchen in shambles Sunday morning or add more things to do before we get everyone spiffed up for church. I’ve tried a lot of recipes over the years, and my favorite is actually The Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls. But, in my mind, those are Holiday … Read More

Keeping the end in mind

We have a lot on our plates, we stay-at-home, homeschooling moms. It’s easy to begin to feel flustered, scattered, overwhelmed, pulled in too many directions. I am always on the alert for strategies and habits that will help me stay afloat better, not only in my home but also in my own head. Sometimes even when it doesn’t look in my home like I’m drowning, I am still drowning in the chaos in my head. And sometimes when the house … Read More

Menu Plan Monday – summer meals

posted in: pantry | 3

While most people are enjoying their laid back summers, we’ve geared back up into our school routines. We took off May-June when the weather was beautiful and now we’re back to our homeschool routines. Although we were all ready for the break, we’re all now ready for the return to routine. With school routine comes food routine, too. Routine means less brain power is required for meal planning, shopping, and prepping, so I welcome the return to routine! Like my … Read More

EHAP: afternoon tidying to the rescue

We have a small practice that saves the state of our house, almost every day. It’s simple and effective – as long as we do it. When I keep the time in the late afternoon regularly carved out for it, I can handle the intermittent chaos that descends as the kids work and play throughout the day. I know order will be restored, so I can take a deep breath and let them strew blankets and play food everywhere. I call … Read More

How do you organize Evernote stacks? | Saturday Q&A

posted in: organizing, podcast | 2

So, there’s no doubt that I love Evernote. I’ve been writing a long series about homeschooling with Evernote, I include tips and strategies for using Evernote for home management in Paperless Home Organization, and Evernote is simply my external brain. Everyone should have an external brain of one sort or another, and Evernote is mine. Michelle recently emailed me with some Evernote questions: I have been reading, and rereading, your posts on using Evernote for homeschooling. I’ve been trying to … Read More

You need time to reset your perspective

posted in: attitude, podcast | 1

Here at Simplified Organization, I like to talk about how organizing your attitude is the most important thing you can organize. One key concept that helped me clarify how to do this was Jennifer Fulwiler’s definition of survival mode: If you don’t have at least a few blocks of time per week that are both predictable and uninterrupted, where you can prayerfully get your priorities in order, you are in survival mode. Many of us live in survival mode for … Read More

What do we eat in the summer, again?

posted in: pantry | 7

~ Capturing the context of contentment – in my kitchen. ~ We’re having a straight week of over-100-degree weather, and although this makes me not want to cook, it doesn’t make anyone around here not want to eat. Silly people. I always go through a dinner-fixing crisis when the first heat wave strikes. I know I have meals I’ve done for times like this, because they do happen every year, but what are they again?! Unfortunately, my daughter and I … Read More

Get Organized: Clear the Decks!

posted in: organizing | 0

When we want to organize the house, organize our schedules, organize our lives, where should we even begin?! Begin where you are, not where you wish you were. Whether we’re talking about life goals or housekeeping goals, we can’t begin where we want to be. We can’t decide on our ideals, write out a system, then jump into the deep end. If you have a 9-year-old who isn’t yet reading fluently, you can’t hand him James and the Giant Peach … Read More

How to Get Organized in Real Life

posted in: organizing | 3

Many of us this summer have the goal to “get everything organized” while we have nice weather, more free time, and a looser schedule. However, unless we begin with our heads and our hearts rather than our closets, our efforts will likely be doomed. Before we can work toward “organized,” we have to know what this blissful state actually is. We have to make sure we know what our goal is and what we mean by our words before we … Read More

3 Steps for a Morning Review

A morning review creates a power-start to your day. The process I recommend will take you less than 10 minutes, but it will give you peace and clarity about the day ahead of you and what you can reasonably accomplish. The best time to do a morning review is before the children are up and awake, while the house is peaceful and quiet and the day has not yet begun in earnest. However, that is not always possible. When, for … Read More

Creamy White Balsamic Dressing Recipe

posted in: pantry | 2

My favorite salad kit is Costco’s kale mix that comes with pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and a creamy white balsamic dressing. So, of course, I had to try to replicate the dressing at home, with my basic pantry staples. I did have to buy white balsamic vinegar and poppy seeds, but now I’ve added those to my master pantry list because I absolutely love this dressing! I searched online and only found white balsamic vinaigrettes; however, I wanted the creamy version. … Read More

Summer Bootcamp for the Kids’ Chores

posted in: homemaking | 0

Summer is a great time to revamp the home systems and focus on those areas that tend to get brushed aside with the hustle and bustle of regular activities, homework, and schedules. Of course the kids are looking forward to kicking back and enjoying more loose and freeform days. Summer should be a time for swimming, lemonade, and ice cream cones, but it’s also a great time to use the extra head-space and time-pockets to organize those bothersome corners and … Read More

What we’re eating this week

posted in: pantry | 0

Summer is on the way with warmer weather, so it’s time to put away the crockpot and soup plans and dust off my cooler menu options. Soups are so easy that it’s always a little sad, but grilling season and the fresh garden veggies will compensate. I use Google calendar for menu planning, and that makes it easy to adjust the menu as summer plans flex and change. Breakfasts This Week Tuesdays & Thursdays: German pancakes Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays: … Read More

How I catalogued my personal library

posted in: homemaking | 3

You know I love lists. And I also love books. So what could be better than a list of books? How about a list of my books? I won’t try to convince you that you need to catalog your books, because you probably don’t. But having a catalog of the books on my own shelves is something inherently appealing to me, and it might be to you, too. Over the last year or so, I’ve also been helping catalog and … Read More

Pulling together food for a family

posted in: pantry | 2

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~ Another week and more food has been served to the natives, keeping them happy and healthy and strong. Mission: accomplished.   Pretty ~Pretty Veggie-Filled Breakfasts ~ Vegetables at breakfast seems to be a good idea, a way to get more nutrition into my day and start the day off strong. Here are a few of my attempts thus far. Happy ~ Happy Children Bakers ~ What better summer break afternoon … Read More

Is it easy to scan to Evernote? | Saturday Q&A

posted in: organizing, podcast | 0

Because you asked… When you scan things to Evernote, is this time consuming? Do you scan it to a PDF file and attach the file? I’d be very curious as to what this process looks like for you. I tried with a manual the other day and it seemed to take forever, and I had to try several different ways to get it to work.  It’s fast and easy, I promise! Listen to this post! http://media.blubrry.com/simplifiedorganization/content.blubrry.com/simplifiedorganization/Whole_SO_ep36_FINAL.mp3 SO036: How to Get … Read More

Saturday Q&A: What is an MIT?

posted in: planning | 1

I’d like to start a new little feature I’m calling Saturday Q&A. I receive questions by email or social media all the time, and rather than stay in my email inbox, I thought I’d take the opportunity to turn them into posts. At the bottom of the post you’ll find a contact form where you can submit your question to be answered in a future article! Because you asked… In my recent post Why Moms Need a Weekly Review, I … Read More

Homemade food, week after week

posted in: pantry | 1

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~ Another week, another 21 meals prepared, served, and cleaned up. Not too shabby when you look at a week that way, now, is it?   Pretty ~Pretty Pleased ~ These are my kitchen helpers, growing up fast, and now pleased to be the ones in charge of dinner some days. With Simplified Dinners for New Cooks, they can get dinner on the table all by themselves, start to finish, and … Read More

Real Family Dinners

posted in: pantry | 0

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~ Getting dinner on the table to feed your family after a long day can sometimes feel like an overwhelming impossibility. But a healthy, wholesome meal doesn’t have to take a lot of time or even a lot of planning ahead. Here are some of the meals I’ve served up recently for our homeschooling family of 7.  Pretty ~Pretty Fresh Vegetables ~ As the weather gets warmer, I’ve resigned myself to … Read More

Evernote for Homemaking Plans

posted in: organizing, podcast | 1

Over at Simply Convivial I’m in the thick of a series about using Evernote for homeschooling, and I thought I’d make a companion post here at Simplified Organization about household records and plans with Evernote. Evernote is awesome. It is my digital filing cabinet. Instead of lugging around a heavy binder, or filing reams of paper, it all goes into Evernote. Not only does Evernote save my documents in an organized way, it even recognizes text – printed and handwritten … Read More

A hot, filling breakfast recipe: Oven Puffed Pancakes

posted in: pantry | 6

The quest for a simple breakfast that is filling enough to keep the kids satisfied until lunch is an endless one. Oatmeal is a good stick-to-the-ribs breakfast, but eggs are also so healthy for little growing bodies and brains. Scrambled eggs or Egg cups are good, but my kids need some additional carb to go alongside it. What I needed was an all-in-one breakfast that had both protein and carbs, but that didn’t make much mess on the counter and … Read More

Why moms need a weekly review

posted in: planning, podcast | 11

A weekly review is a common business productivity recommendation, and a practice I encourage in Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done. It is a time to reorient yourself to what you have on your plate and renegotiate your commitments. You take some time and look at your calendar, make fresh to-do lists, decide what your biggest responsibilities are this week and then make sure those stay in front of your face so they can get done. Moms … Read More

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks

posted in: pantry | 4

When I was 11, my mom had twins. Already interested in cooking, I eagerly took once-a-week dinner duties. I could make spaghetti, macaroni and cheese (from boxes) with tuna and peas, and hamburger helper. My grandma was an extreme couponer before it was a thing, so she kept our pantry stocked with boxes and mixes, and I appreciated being able to grab something, follow the 3 steps, and put dinner on the table by myself – complete with microwaved frozen … Read More

Outsourcing dinner duties

posted in: homemaking | 5

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~ When I was 11, my mom had twins. Already interested in cooking, I eagerly took once-a-week dinner duties. I could make spaghetti, macaroni and cheese (from boxes) with tuna and peas, and hamburger helper. My grandma was an extreme couponer before it was a thing, so she kept our pantry stocked with boxes and mixes, and I appreciated being able to grab something, follow the 3 steps, and put dinner … Read More

What to do with your brain dump list

posted in: organizing, podcast | 1

So, you’ve done a thorough brain dump and you have sheets upon sheets of notes, tasks, and ideas. If you still haven’t completed a thorough brain dump or you aren’t sure what that means, check out my free emails that will walk you through a bunch of brain dump triggers to get all the stuff rattling around in your head out and onto paper, where you can deal with it. Now what? That’s the big question I keep hearing. If … Read More

Moms, Set Up a Task Management App

posted in: productivity | 4

I wrote last week about how to choose a task management program if you’re looking to move toward paperless home organization. Too often we try to remember all the plates we’re trying to spin just in our heads. This causes a lot more stress than we realize. Our minds are not the best reminder system. Our minds are much better used for thinking, processing, deciding, creating – but when we use our minds as a reminder container, then there’s not … Read More

Planning meals ahead of time | Menu Plan Monday

posted in: pantry | 2

The six-week menu plan is going along swimmingly. Friday we ended up having Costco rotisserie chicken instead of the fried rice planned, but I moved fried rice to Saturday and we skipped the bakes potatoes. I needed another batch of broth simmered up anyway for our soup this coming Wednesday. With dinners planned out already, I knew that was coming up and got the bones into the crockpot of water right away. Breakfasts This Week Monday: Sunday leftovers with scrambled … Read More

How to choose a task management app

posted in: productivity | 14

There are so many to-do list apps out there, and most of the recommendations and advice about them is geared for the business executive that it’s easy to think they are overkill for a mom at home. But moms at home are managers. We keep so many balls rolling! We need some way to keep track of our responsibilities also. After using digital apps instead of paper for over 5 years now, I’ve figured out what features to look for … Read More

Five Rules for a Better Calendar

posted in: featured, planning | 7

Your calendar is your #1 productivity tool to keep track of life. Improving your calendar habits will have ripple effects to other organizational and managerial aspects of your responsibilities. Better calendar routines will trigger further productivity improvements. 1. Only keep actual appointments on the calendar. Your calendar needs to be trustworthy. Don’t put your hopes or wishes on your calendar. A better calendar is used for appointments only so you can see the hard lines of your day. If you … Read More

My 6-week plan in action | Menu Plan Monday

posted in: pantry | 4

My six-week menu plan is going well so far. In the end I might have a few meals left over, even. Last Saturday instead of having the planned dinner, we were able to have Friday leftovers and one night I had enough soup leftover to package up and freeze. I also didn’t plan any frittata dinner nights, holding that one in my back pocket as a quick and simple Plan B dinner in case I don’t soak the beans or … Read More

Yummy Whole Wheat Cheese Muffin Recipe

posted in: pantry | 2

My kids have been loving these cheese muffins. They are not sweet cheese muffins, but they pack a punch of cheesy goodness. They are fluffy and soft, keep well, and freeze well. If you use soft white whole wheat or pastry whole wheat flour, you will hardly be able to tell they’re whole wheat at all. They make a tasty dinner side dish that is quick to whip up and then the leftovers can be lunch the next day. The … Read More

How to menu plan 6 weeks at a time

posted in: pantry | 1

Remembering how to menu plan As the end of the school semester drew near, the holidays drew near, the end of the year drew near, I stopped menu planning. I just never took the time to sit down and write out meals – there were always other things I thought I should be doing. We still ate just fine – Simplified Dinners means a slip up in the menu planning process doesn’t throw me for much of a loop. We … Read More

Track Your Progress with a Goal Tracking Spreadsheet

posted in: productivity | 3

I follow a goal-setting process that works well for my life as a stay-at-home, work-from-home mom. I always start with what I call directional goals, but at some point those have to be translated into actions. The best kinds of actions to work on over the course of a year, however, are not project-type actions (though those are my preference) but habit-type actions. What small actions, repeated over and over, will move you in the direction you’re wanting to grow? … Read More

Start the Year Well: Manage Tasks

posted in: productivity | 0

Why do you need a task management system? As moms with kids and home and projects to manage, we have a lot to do and a lot to keep track of. It’s no wonder we often feel overwhelmed and scattered. We need some way to know what we have on our plates and what we need to be doing today. That is what a task management system is for: to help us manage tasks. Keeping a list of what you … Read More

Start New Year Well: Keystone Habits

posted in: productivity | 1

Rather than grandiose goals for a new year, we should be focusing on small habits that we can build upon. These new year habits continue giving, because they become automatic. So we can gain their benefit without expending much energy to do so. A habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. Almost involuntary. Automatic. We should work to make several key behaviors automatic rather than requiring will and decision. To just get out … Read More

Planning for Real Life

posted in: homemaking | 1

It’s a new year and that means time for new goals. It’s irresistible. And I don’t recommend resisting. I love new year goals and resolutions, but they can lead to discouragement unnecessarily. Sometimes we conclude that because we can never reach and maintain our ideal, then it is the ideal bringing us down. We’re tempted to stop trying to clean the house, organize the toys, lose the weight, balance the budget, or train the children because we never reach our … Read More

Start the New Year Well: Home Routines

posted in: productivity | 1

If you’re looking at making new year resolutions of any kind, chances are that you have some changes you’d like to make to your house keeping routines. It seems like it should be possible to keep a decent and orderly home, doesn’t it? Is that wish simply impossible, especially if you have young children? Yes and no. Think about what you mean by “clean house” when you use that phrase to yourself. Picture what you want. Look around at your … Read More

Start Your Year Well with Interval Planning

posted in: planning | 2

The New Year seems like a great time to make resolutions and goals. There’s a whole new calendar just waiting for action. But one whole calendar is a long space of time. Is it really smart (or SMART) to resolve to do something for 365 straight days or 52 straight weeks? What happens if we miss one day or one week in March? Is the entire year blown? Of course it isn’t. One way to avoid setting ourselves up for … Read More

Start the Year Well: Clear your head with a brain dump

As the holidays wind down, the crazy schedules should let up and let us catch our breath. But if we were whirling all month from thing to thing, trying to track presents and events and guests and extra baking and so much more, we feel more like crashing than catching anything. Even though much is over, there’s now a new year approaching and thoughts of self-improvement and resolutions can hardly be fought off. Don’t fight off those thoughts, but don’t … Read More

Taking Action: Gratitude Quotes

posted in: attitude | 58

The first assignment in module 1 is to find some motivating and inspirational quotes or mottos to copy. This practice helps us learn new patterns of thinking so we can shut down our negative stories and start reminding ourselves of truth instead. But finding those quotes takes time and research. Let’s help one another out! Here are some of my favorites for rereading and copying. Please leave a comment with those you have found, too! Gratitude is not only the … Read More

What Does Organization Mean?

posted in: homemaking | 0

We talk a lot about getting organized, but do we stop to think about what we mean? What is it that we want when we say we’re working on this life project? Are we striving for chalkboard labels on ordered shelves or something deeper? What does organization mean to us? I think what we want is to simply not feel crazy and pulled in a million directions, like everything and everyone has placed obligations on us that we can’t keep … Read More

5 Ways to Start the New Year Well

posted in: productivity | 0

A new year is like a promise of a fresh start, a new beginning, a turning of the page that might mean the turning of a new leaf. What can we do to start the new year well? I am always trying to turn over new leaves. Too many times I’ve tried turning them overnight, and instead fallen on my face. However, slow, steady change builds up over time and after years of wrestling with those leaves, they are turning … Read More

Dealing with Post-Christmas Chaos

posted in: productivity | 0

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it takes work to make it so. And then that wonderful time of the year results in additional clean up work afterward. It’s good work, and it’s meaningful, but it can be overwhelming. More than the extra dishes or the laundry backup, after Christmas chaos comes with the packaging, new toys, wrapping paper bits, and did I mention new toys? So much stuff strewn all around! Reveling in some chaos … Read More

Goals & Plans for a New Year

posted in: homemaking | 3

Now we enter the last few days before the new year begins. It’s time for goals, plans, and resolutions! I can’t help myself. I start thinking about plans and ideals for the next year – the next “fresh start” – while wrapping presents, rolling cookies, and cleaning house for Christmas. I’ve made new year resolutions or goals for years now, and my track record is about 50%. Are New Year resolutions worth the effort? The perfect situation to choose between … Read More

Holiday Interval, week 5: Wrap Up Presents & Loose Ends

posted in: planning | 0

It’s the final full week before Christmas! Can you believe it? By now you’ve most likely purchased and made all your Christmas gifts and it’s time to figure out when to wrap them all. It might mean a few late nights so you know the kids won’t see. I know I have to wrap all the presents after the kids are asleep because overexcited preschoolers tend to spill the beans unintentionally. So I’m planning on a couple late nights and … Read More

Holiday Interval, week 4: Make & Bake Week

posted in: planning | 0

We’re almost into double-digit days in December. As the countdown speeds up, it’s time to start making, doing, and baking! Starting early with Christmas crafting, planning, and all the other holiday related doings helps reduce stress and make the actual week of Christmas less hectic and more enjoyable. If we’re going to focus on actually celebrating and enjoying Christmas with our family and friends, then it’d be a good idea to get most of the work of Christmas done early. … Read More

Holiday Interval, week 3: Decorate!

posted in: planning | 0

Advent has begun and it’s time to make the house feel like Christmas! Perhaps you haven’t completely finished purchasing Christmas gifts, but if you’ve made a start, you’re ahead of the game. Use this week to finish crossing off your Christmas to-buy lists and also make sure to keep an eye on that calendar so you have what you need for each event coming up. If you need more gift ideas or have to make a wish list for yourself, … Read More

Top Ten Gifts for the Home Cook

posted in: pantry | 0

We make our Christmas shopping lists for others, but sometimes the hardest one to make is one for ourselves! If your family is pestering you for a wish list this Christmas season, here are my top ten gift recommendations for the home cook. If you’d like more ideas, you can also check out my top ten practical gifts for homemakers and top ten gifts for an organization junkie. If you or someone you know enjoys spending time in the kitchen … Read More

Top Ten Gift Ideas for Organization Junkies

posted in: organizing | 1

Putting together Christmas shopping lists? Are your family members asking you what you want for Christmas? Here are my top ten gift recommendations for the organization junkie in your life. And, if you are the organization junkie, here are some ideas to populate your own list! And if you need still more, I also have a list of Top Ten Gift Ideas for Practical Homemakers and also Top Ten Gift Ideas for the Home Cook. 1. Good pens & a … Read More

Top 10 Gift Ideas for Homemakers

posted in: homemaking | 19

It’s the time of year for gift guides, and I thought I’d try my hand at one, too. I don’t know about you, but I have the hardest time making my own gift list. If you’re in need of ideas to populate your list for your husband or family, here are a few! These ones are themed around homemakers who have a practical bent, but I also made some lists (because you know I love lists) on gifts for an … Read More

Holiday Interval, week 2: Make Purchases

posted in: planning | 1

Yes, it is Thanksgiving Week, and we don’t want to eclipse this holiday with Christmas preparations, but the more that can be done before December even hits, the more calm and relaxed December will be. Because it is a holiday week, you might have more time. If you have a day or two or maybe the whole week off, then you can use that time to get a few of those purchases on your gift list secured. I’m a big … Read More

Holiday Interval, week 1: Make Your Lists

posted in: planning | 1

Interval planning is my strategy for keeping my head in the game and focused on what needs to be done. And that’s exactly what we need during the Christmas season: To see what needs to be done and then do it, realizing it’s a short-term crazy-time that we can manage, and allowing ourselves a rest after it’s over. I like to make my interval plans six weeks long, and so that means starting my holiday plans this week. Now, I’m … Read More

An Interval Plan for the Holidays

posted in: planning, podcast | 4

I’m a proponent of making short-term plans and goals – ones that can be tracked and kept top-of-mind easily. I call it ‘interval planning’ because I think it’s like interval training: Go all out for a short amount of time, then take a rest period, and you’ll progress more than if you just slog through at a consistent but slower rate. The holidays provide a perfect example of and opportunity for an interval plan. Christmas is six weeks out, and … Read More

CM-Style Housekeeping

The winner of Brandy’s book, Start Here: A Journey Through Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles is Amy, also known as mtcougar. Congratulations, Amy! I feel somewhat sheepish being the one to write this post. Charlotte Mason is one of my favorite education authors, but I am not really a “Charlotte Mason” homeschooler. For one, I’m a narration drop-out. Secondly, I enjoy synthesizing rather than going by someone else’s rules. Miss Mason was all about synthetic knowledge and connections, so I like … Read More

Make a Doable To Do List: The Rule of 3

To-do lists can be as frustrating as they are useful. Some days to do lists seem like an awesome tool. Then on other days they seem like instruments of torture, mocking my efforts and goals. But, it is the process of planning that is helpful even when the plans don’t work out. So let’s stick with the process and see if we can tweak it to be more beneficial. Is a doable to do list possible? I know I tend … Read More

Why should we make plans, anyway?

posted in: planning | 3

At our last live Q&A chat for Simplified Organization eCourse, the recurring topic seemed to be plans and how they usually don’t work out as planned. When that happens – which is often – is the problem with our planning or with our families or with ourselves? What’s wrong? Why can’t I do this thing? But the answer is in the perspective, as is so often the case. Why should we make plans when they don’t work? Because they actually … Read More

Start Strong! Focus on Keystone Habits

Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change. – Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit Keystone habits, according to Charles Duhigg, are habits that give “small wins [that] fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger … Read More

October Organizing Progress Report

posted in: productivity | 1

If you’ve been trying to get organized with the Simplified Organization Course, I’d love to hear what you’ve been working on specifically this month and where you’ve seen progress. My own progress This month I gave my kitchen a much-needed cleaning out. Things have gotten pretty bad when you use a hand-vac to clean out drawers. cough But the best way to organize a shelf or drawer or cupboard is to empty it completely and then put things back the … Read More

What Good Are Simple Systems?

So this month, my topic has been Simple Systems: 31 Small Ways to Simplify Life, and even though I didn’t make it to 31 systems total, it’s been a good month. But what good are systems to us, really? I think as stay-at-home moms we often don’t even realize just how many draws there are on our energy, even our mental energy. Decision-making is exhausting and implementing a system means there’s less stress in that area once it’s in place. … Read More

Simple Systems: Socks!

Do you have a lot of socks running through your laundry system? Does matching socks and searching for lost matches drive you crazy? Here’s my solution. During the month of October, I’m participating in The Nester’s 31 Days meme. I think it’s fun, and I always find some great new blogs and ideas from trolling the linkups entries. This year’s series is Simple Systems: 31 Small Ways to Simplify Life. From containing projects and other things to creating formulas for … Read More

Simple Systems: Folding Laundry

Just as a dishwashing routine helps smooth communication between everyone in the household, so does a laundry folding routine. Setting up simple systems will make life run more smoothly. It might even help things get done and put in their homes. That’s the goal anyway. Simple Home System: Laundry folding process Having a laundry folding system eliminates decision fatigue and makes it easier to get the job done. I don’t like folding laundry. I can get the clothes washed, but … Read More

Essential Pantry List for Simple Meals

posted in: homemaking | 2

Meals might not seem like part of homeschooling, but it’s all part of the package of making life happen. And I have lists to make it easier. I love to make lists. I even have lists of the lists I have made and want to make. So, why not share all (well, some) of those lists during The Nester’s 31 Days series? Yes, 31 days of homeschool lists. It’ll be a ton of fun if you love lists as much … Read More

Simple Systems: Dishwashing Routine

You probably have systems that you are not even aware of. A system is just the way you do things, and the more you do something one way, the more automatic it becomes. One such simple system is the process by which dishes go from dirty to clean to put away. Finding many small changes you can make to simplify average days at home will add up to significantly more calmness and drastically less stress. I think you’ll be surprised … Read More

Simple Meals for Homeschool Days

posted in: homemaking | 3

Dinner has to happen every day, whether we’re ready or not. I’ve had to seriously simplify this part of my day, and here are the go-to meals I’ve made a regular part of our rotation. I love to make lists. I even have lists of the lists I have made and want to make. So, why not share all (well, some) of those lists during The Nester’s 31 Days series? Yes, 31 days of homeschool lists. It’ll be a ton … Read More

Simple Systems: Library Routine

I’ve had times with a library system and times without. Guess what? The times I don’t follow my library routine are the times I rack up the fines. A system can prevent accumulating small debts in library fines – if you follow them. October is the month for Nester’s 31 Days series! I always love participating. It’s a lot of fun to write an extended series like this with lots of small pieces all strung together in a short amount … Read More

Simple Systems: Organizing Reusable Grocery Bags

I like to use reusable bags, but it can be challenging to remember them. Here’s how I make it easier to get them into the car and with us in the store. Basically, the premise of the 31 Days challenge is to make a list of 31 things and then write a short post on each one for a month. I love lists, so I can’t resist. So this month, my topic is Simple Systems: 31 Small Ways to Simplify … Read More

Simple Systems: Our “before we leave the house” list

Getting a carload of children out the door to appointments or activities can be stressful. Here’s how I’ve made it easier. During the month of October, I’m participating in The Nester’s 31 Days link-up. This year’s series is Simple Systems: 31 Small Ways to Simplify Life. From containing projects and other things to creating formulas for getting dressed and folding laundry, I’ll be sharing small, simple ways I reduce decision fatigue in my life at home. Delegate responsibilities to get … Read More

Simple Systems: How to Make a Grocery List

We know heading to the grocery store without a list or a plan is a recipe for overspending, but how can we make the process of making that grocery list less daunting and more simple? During the month of October, I’m participating in The Nester’s 31 Days meme, writing about Simple Systems: 31 Small Ways to Simplify Life. From containing projects and other things to creating formulas for getting dressed and folding laundry, I’ll be sharing small, simple ways I … Read More

Simple Systems: Where do kids’ jackets go?

Last winter we had a kid-coat disaster on our hands seemingly all the time. The coats would be strewn over the floor and all over the house, and there was always a mad hunt for everyone’s coat whenever they wanted to go play outside or when we needed to leave the house. We needed a system. I think as stay-at-home moms we often don’t even realize just how many draws there are on our energy, even our mental energy. Decision-making … Read More

Simple Systems: A coat closet the kids can use

Kids’ hats and gloves all over the floor and never handy when they’re needed? They need a home. Today is one more simple system in October’s series, Simple Systems: 31 Small Ways to Reduce Decision Fatigue. Setting up simple systems will make life run more smoothly. It might even help things get done and put in their homes. That’s the goal anyway. Simple Home System: Coat closet storage for kids Drawers in the coat closet keep kids’ stuff corralled but … Read More

Simple Systems: A Minimalist Purse

My purse-keeping situation needed serious attention. I was happy to add this system to my series this month so that I would be forced to put into practice some ideas that have been rattling around in my head for awhile. Yes, all month the topic here at Simplified Organization is Simple Systems: 31 Small Ways to Simplify Life. I think as stay-at-home moms we often don’t even realize just how many draws there are on our energy, even our mental … Read More