Browsing articles in "Minimalism & Simple Living"
Jul 6, 2011

Let’s get Organized: Trimming the Fat

Creativity

Photo Credit: Mark van Laere

 

Yesterday we spent some time thinking about our responsibilities. We thought about what we can do and how much responsibility we can handle. Today, we need to deal with all those extra things that get piled up on us.

 

We like to please people. So when someone comes to you and asks you to take on yet another responsibility, our natural inclination is to say “Yes”. But in our hearts, what we really want to do is say “No, I can barely keep my head above water as it is!”

 

What are you going to do about all these other responsibilities? Well, technically they can all fit into four categories:

 

Things You Have to Do That You Love:  These are the toughest to deal with, so let’s start with them.  Things like photography, or volunteering.  Maybe you are an excellent seamstress.  Maybe you design webpages in your spare time.  Maybe you paint!  These are things that you take great pride in, things that give you a real sense of accomplishment, or that you feel very good about.  These are things that relax you, that relieve you of your stress and irritation.  But you feel that it is going to give you problems down the road.

 

1.  Decide If It Is Something You Want To Make Time For.  What does this responsibility mean to you?  What is it’s value to you?  Where do you derive pleasure and benefit from it?  Do you find it to be something you look forward to doing?

 

2.  Decide If It Is Worth Making Time For.  Does it take time away from your friends or family?  Does it involve others you love?  Does it give back to you as much as you give to it?  Does it make your day better?

 

3.  Find A Way To Schedule It.  Perhaps you can drop some other, less possitive responsibilty in order to make room for this one.  Or maybe you can share the responsibility with someone else.  Or maybe you can share a less desirable responsibility with someone else in order to make room for this more pleasurable responsibility.

 

Example:  I love to play with Naomi, but I find that I get so easily distracted by house maintenance and cooking that sometimes I forget to just sit on the floor and enjoy my daughter.  So I literally scheduled playtime into our day, everyday!  It took a bit to stop looking at the sink full of dishes, but now I get to watch her wander and explore while I get to join in the fun.

 

Things You Have To Do That You Loathe:  I’m not talking about cleaning toilets or paying taxes.  I’m talking things like maintaining your home, or going to work.  Things you really can’t get out of (yet).  If this is a source of major stress for you, you need to find ways to make it as stress-free and painless as possible, if you can’t irradicate it completely from your life.

 

1.  Do You Really Need To Do This?  Just because you’ve been at the same miserable job for seven years doesn’t mean you have to be at it for seven more.  Does it really have to be part of your life?  Start looking for alternatives, for other areas you can work in.  This might mean a new job, a change of schedule, a sharing of work, or downsizing.

 

2.  Where Is the Stress Coming Into Play?  If it’s because of an annoying coworker or an ant infestation, see what you can do to solve it.  A quick change or fix might be all you need to help you reduce the stress involved.  On the other end, if it’s not within your realm of change, such as an overbearing boss or fire damage, do your best to deal with the situation, looking towards a long-term change in the future.

 

3.  Bear It Now, Beat It Later.  If you can’t change this responsibility, either begin looking for ways to lighten the load in the future, or look for ways to unwind after you’ve completed the task.  This might mean adding in extra minutes to relax, or picking up a relaxing hobby.  Sometimes, something else of less importance needs to be redirected to give you enough time to relax as best you can.

 

Example:  Michael’s last job was less than pleasant.  In fact, it was downright depressing.  After dealing with the stress and misery, he would come home to us.  Unfortunately for him to continue functioning at work, he had to get into sweats and veg in front of the television for hours.  It was a very difficult time for all three of us.  His job loss was exactly the fuel we needed to find him a wonderful new job that he enjoys greatly.

 

Things You Don’t Have To Do That You Love:  These are the best ones!  These are things that have absolutely no obligation on you, but you do them because their fun.  Playing in a band, writing, jewelry making, baking.  Anything you derive pleasure from that isn’t restrictive.  This is a way for you to relax and releave some stress.  These are things that are important to make time for.

 

1.  How Much Time Do You Need For This.  The big downside of these types of responsibilities is that they can quickly eat away at your time because you enjoy them too much.  Video games can be a great way to relax, but if they consume you and you neglect your marriage or family, this can quickly spell disaster.  You might enjoy knitting, but if you are spending too much money on yarn, you need to find a way to get it under control.

 

2.  Determine How Much is Enough.  Start watching yourself during these activities.  If you find that you’re more relaxed and peaceful after just one hour of television, than that’s all you should really be watching.  Don’t zone out on your pleasurable activity just because you can.

 

3.  Involve Others If You Can.  Ask your spouse, your child, your friend, your coworker, to join you!  Maybe a round of golf with your husband, or a cooking class with your niece.  Find ways to incorportate other responsibilities into the most pleasurable ones will kill two birds with one stone.

 

Example:  I have a really really bad habit of getting sucked into the Internet when I am just looking up one thing.  So I started jotting down different things I wanted to look up throughout the day.  Then I have my laptop set up beside my nursing spot on the couch, and I check them out while Naomi naps in my lap.

 

Things You Don’t Have To Do That You Loathe:  Seriously, why are these even part of your life?  If you don’t have to play golf with your buddy, why do you do it?  If your book club bores you to death, why go?  If you can’t stand writing poetry, who said you had to?  Frankly, these things don’t even require consideration.  You don’t want to do them?  You don’t need to do them?  Great!  I give you permission to walk away from these responsibilities.

 

So list your responsibilites that didn’t make it onto your original list.  Think about it, doctor it up, and tomorrow, we’re going to start talking about scheduling!

 

July is Let’s Get Organized! Month at miniMOMist.  Check out the original post and see the steps we’re taking to get more organized!  

 

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Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my post, please subscribe to miniMOMist and share on Twitter or visit my Facebookpage.

Jul 5, 2011

Let’s Get Organized: Who Do You Wanna Be?

Coloured heads

Photo Credit: Daniel Horacio Agostini

 

We all get the same amount of time: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It never feels like nearly enough. And mothers are the worst — we spend so much time giving and giving and giving and we rarely — if ever! — give ourselves time to stop, relax and rest.

 

One of the biggest traps I think we fall victim to is the myth of “you can do it all”. Magazines, television, billboards, novels, radio shows, talk shows, etc. all spend pointless hours trying to convince us that we can be gourmet chefs, housekeepers, laundresses, active community members, crafty, self-employed entrepreneurs, and so on and so on (if we just buy this twelve week program that will teach us how…).

 

Truth time: we can’t. We can’t do it all.  We can do as much as we can do and that, my friends, is all. That is the truth of it. We cannot do and be everything to everyone all the time.  This is not something to feel guilty about. The important part is that you acknowledge it and accept it. You have to get this idea into your head and get a firm grasp on it before you climb to the next level.

 

So heres the first question: if you can’t be everything, what do you want to be?

 

I don’t believe that anyone can do more than six or seven things at once and do them well. If that, really. Ot is up to us to know our limits. For example, I know that I can take on more roles and responsibilities than my husband. I can work part-time, run the house, do 90% of the cooking and cleaning, and still blog full time. If Mike takes on a project or part-time gig, it really affects his health and starts eating into his time spent with us. And that is the first part of our Let’s Get Organized assignments. We’re going to sit down and figure out how much responsibility you can handle, and what those responsibilities should be.

 

So ask yourself some questions. Think of these things and decide whether you need to lighten your load.

 

1. Do you automatically say yes to every responsibility handed to you? Even if you would rather say no?

2. Are there projects you stay up at night worrying about?

3. Is there other aspects of your life that are being altered or damaged by these responsibilities?

4. Is there any opportunity for you to unwind in any of your responsibilities?

5. Are you actually doing things you liked? Or is it that you do these things just because you feel you have to?

 

You know where I’m going with this. If you can see the red flags, it means you have some things to work on, or rather, work out, of your life.

 

Now let’s discuss your responsibilities.  Like I said: you have 24 hours. What Re you going to be doing during them?
So take out some paper and a pen and list some numbers. These can be any number of things, but here are a few specific ones that I think must be included.

 

1. Being a Healthy Person. You might not think that this one qualifies, but it definitely does. You can’t water flowers with an empty watering can, nor can you give to everyone when there’s nothing left of you. So your very first one, before anything else, should be being healthy. Eating good food, getting enough sleep, breathing deep, getting exercise, etc. All the things you know you need. These should be a top responsibility in your day. No one will force you to do these things. You are the only person responsible for yourself, and if you don’t take care of yourself now, you have no one to blame when your health does fail you.

 

2. Have One Stress-Relieving Responsibility. If you’re extremely lucky, this is your job. For others, it could be a volunteer poison they enjoy, or caring for a family pet. If you find that competitive sports are a good way to burn off some stress, then do that. If you find blogging a good way to shoot the breeze, get blogging! Whatever it is, make sure there’s room for that.

 

3. Don’t forget your job! It might be your main source of stress or a vast utopia for you throughout your day. No matter what you do, add it to your list.

 

Three things might be all you can handle right now. And that’s fine!  But there are lots of other responsibilities you may need to consider as well, such as:

Wife/Husband

Mother/Father

Aunt/Uncle, Grantparent, Godparent

Religious Affiliation

Band Member

Friend

Volunteer

Community Member

Activist

Homeschooler/Instructor

Entertainer (Singer, Dancer, Actor, Comediam)

Athlete (Swimming, Soccer, Chess)

 

Here’s my list, in order of priority:

 

1.  A Healthy Person.  As I said before, you can’t water flowers with an empty watering can.  So it’s important that I take care of myself as much as anyone else.

 

2.  Christian/Daughter of God.  My faith dictates that my relationship with the Lord is to be a top priority.  So right after providing for myself and keeping myself healthy, I must celebrate and spend time with my Saviour.

 

3.  Wife of Michael.  My relationship with my husband comes in third.  We are one, united.  I am to be his helper and his assistant.  I must keep a warm, loving, comfortable relationship with him, and for that to work, we need to spend time together and put effort into our relationship.

 

4.  Mother of Naomi.  My daughter depends on me to nourish her, keep her safe, keep her comfortable, and show her love and affection.  Definitely a big responsibility.

 

5.  Homemaker.  I am the keeper of my domain.  And this one covers so many different areas:  I buy, prepare and serve food; I clean, maintain and repair the apartment; I budget, balance and pay off the debt; I decorate, declutter, and simplify my home.

 

6.  Kinesiologist/Blogger.  My part time job as a kinesiologist and my full-time job as a blogger keep me very very busy.  Fortunately I am one of those blessed people who loves what they do!  I love writing and I love helping people recover from injury.  It’s wonderful!

 

7.  Church Member.  Again, my faith dictates that I be involved in a community of believers.  While I don’t play a regular part in the organization and maintenance of the church that this time, I do make sure that our family is active and connected with our church family.

 

8.  Sister/Daughter/Friend.  Other relationships need to be maintained.  Michael and I have very few friends we see on a regular basis, mainly due to our time restraints.  But I call my best friend regularly, and we see our parents quite often.  We do wish we had closer relationships with our brothers and their families, but we both employ Facebook, email and phone calls to keep up to date with those we don’t see as frequently as we’d like.

 

A few notes on my priorities, and why they are in the order they are in.

 

~ I do not put my health above my relationship with God lightly.  However, I need to look after myself in order to praise him not just physically, but in the presence of others as well.  I am no good to God if I say, “I have to spend all my time in prayer and hope God will keep me healthy!”  He provides me with food, clothing, water, a warm home, etc. through mine and my husband’s contributions.

 

~ My daughter needs me more than my husband, so why is she fourth priority instead of third?  Because in order for our home to function, my husband and I have to have a relationship that is about us, not her.  If our relationship was solely based on the children, when they grow up and leave, what is left to support our relationship?  Instead, we support it with each other and with our faith in the Lord.  This makes us stronger, not selfish.

 

~ It might seem a little cold to put all my extended family and friends as the bottom priority.  But consider that my friends and family all have lives of their own.  I do not need to supervise them to be sure they’re healthy and happy.  They can do that for themselves.  Were I the soul caretaker of an elderly parent or disabled friend, that would definitely rank higher. But I am blessed with a healthy family and they don’t need me running point.

 

So now, it’s your turn.  What are your responsibilities? What are your titles?  Who are you and what do you want to be?

 

July is Let’s Get Organized! Month at miniMOMist.  Check out the original post and see the steps we’re taking to get more organized!  

 

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Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my post, please subscribe to miniMOMist and share on Twitter or visit my Facebook page.

Jul 4, 2011

Let’s Get Organized!

In My Life: morning

Photo Credit: Yvonne Eijkenduijn

 

It’s been a rough week and a rough month.  Between appointments, obligations, family functions, holidays, etc., we’re always on the go.  And that definitely messes up our schedule.  So we need to get back in place.

 

So, I think that July should be Let’s Get Organized month at miniMOMist.  And so, we’re going to go through several challenges in our home to get us set up for the fall.  We look forward to sharing them with you!  I’m hoping you join us and get involved in them!

 

Here’s what you can expect in the following days:

 

  • Our Ideal Week
  • Weekly Chores
  • Meal Planning
  • Sabbaths
  • Pantry Lists
  • Car Maintenance
  • Emergency Planning
  • Appointments
  • Daily Routines
  • Seasonal Planning
  • Clothing Maintenance

 

If there’s anything else you’d like to see discussed, please let me know!  Also if you’re interested in sharing a link to yours or another blog post, just post it in the comments or email it to me.  I’ll post a weekly Link Love, like always, on Sundays, listing the different organization articles I have come across.

 

I’m also going to Tweet about these posts using the hashtag, #LetsGetOrg.  So if you’re interested in participating, post that link to share with us!  :)

 

Sounds like fun!  Let’s Get Organized!

 

1.  Who Do You Wanna Be?

 

2.  Trimming the Fat

 

3.  Scheduling It All

 

4.  Troubleshooting the Ideal Week

 

5.  Setbacks and 7 Ways to Deal With Them

 

6.  Routines

 

7.  Getting Started with Routines

 

8.  But It Takes Too Long!

 

9.  Sabbaths

 

10.  Upcoming

 

11.  Organizing Your Schedule

 

12.  Kitchen Tips

 

13.  Bathroom Tips

 

14.  Master Bedroom Tips

 

15.  Livingroom Tips

 

16.  Baby’s Room Tips

 

17. The Rest

 

18. Menu Planning

 

19.  Pantry Lists

 

20.  Taking Care of Your Vehicle

 

21.  Emergency Planning

 

22.  Seasonal Planning

 

23.  Children’s Clothing Maintenance

 

24.  Our Weekly Example

 

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Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my post, please subscribe to miniMOMist and share on Twitter or visit my Facebook page.

Jul 2, 2011

The 50s Housewife

housewife [derogation]

Photo Credit:  Paul G

 

The last few years, I went through a phase.  I became absolutely fascinated by the freethinking 1960s.  The rock music, the free-flowing hair, the bell bottoms.  Oh yes, I had hippie fever.  I fantasized about travelling back in time and attending Woodstock.  I scowered secondhand stores for shirts with bell sleeves and empire waist dresses.  I listened to new versions of old music and read books and watched movies that captured the moments in the lives of the 60s.

 

But now, as my hair begins to turn grey look better in shorter styles, and my lifestyle switches from someone who has less freedom as an individual and more freedom as a member of a family, I am turning my sights towards my career.  I am looking at the profession of homemaker, housewife, mother.  While I do work outside the home part-time as a kinesiologist, I do intend to spend the better part of my day as a full time domestic queen.

 

I love looking back on the past and drawing inspiration from the many women of eras gone by who achieve all the things I long for.  And who did a better job of that than the women of the 40s and 50s!  The era when being a wife and mother was something you could actually go to college for, taking home economics!

 

The 50s housewife is something that has become fairly divided.  Either she’s a dowdy, unintelligent slave to her husband and children, or an overly romantisized fictional character that walked around with a perpetual smile and was blissfully happy.  She was either glamourous or haggard.  Clever or mindless.  Efficient or overburdened.

 

Jen of Jen But Never Jenn did a two week experiment as a 50s housewife and learned a lot of interesting things about the 50s housewife.  While she can be a bit sarcastic and sharp-tongued at times, she does have a hilarious account of what life might have been like for these women.  It’s a good read to see a different side of the 50s housewife.

 

I will be looking further into her life myself over the next little while, I think.  I look back on the time with slightly rose-tinted glasses, I think, but I see no reason not to draw inspiration from this fascinating lady.   I want to focus on her industriousness, her cleverness, her organization, her efficiency, and her objectives.  She really is a lovely lady and I want to see what inspiration I draw from her.




miniMOMist is an account of Mike, Nada, Naomi and Jude's journey into realistic minimalism, with the goal centered around simple living, and enjoying each other rather than things. We are a faith-based family and blog about our belief in God regularly. Our love for one another and our passion for a simple, minimalist life brings us much joy and pleasure.


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