Worth repeating: Finding time to feed your soul

20 July 2017

I wrote this post in 2014 and I’m happy to report that I’ve managed to make doing genealogy research part of my morning routine so I’ve succeeded in finding time to feed my soul. If there’s something beneficial you’d like to start doing regularly, this post might help you find a way to find time.

Finding time to feed your soul

I love doing genealogy research. It’s a fairly big part of my life—I blog twice weekly (most weeks) at my genealogy blog, Organize Your Family History, so I actually think about my family research quite a lot.

But I don’t actually research as often as I’d like. And that’s a shame, because researching my family history feeds my soul.

We’re all busy with the daily activities of life. Throw kids, aging parents, demanding work, needy spouses or sick pets into the mix and sometimes it feels like we don’t have any time to do those things that really nourish us.

I believe that doing those things is really important for self care. So how can we find the time?

Time management is all about managing priorities. If you put everyone’s needs before your own, all you’ll be doing is putting out fires. And that’s not good for you. So I think it’s important to figure out little pockets of time that you can set aside as “me time.” During that special time, you can do that thing that keeps you going and that feeds your soul.

How can you find some pockets of time when you’re already so busy?

  • Get up a half hour early to feed your soul
  • Drop an activity that you’re doing because you think you should, not because you want to
  • If you’re a TV watcher, have a no-TV day each week and put that time toward your desired activity
  • Find people who also do what you want to do (like a knitting group) and agree to do that activity together.
  • Block off time on your calendar for your soul-feeding activity
  • Explain to your family your need to have to time of your own and arrange for a redistribution of chores

The list could go on. Perhaps you just need to be a little creative.

If you’re saying to yourself, I can’t take time out for myself while my house is messy…that’ll have to wait until I get organized then please stop. It breaks my heart when people stop their messy homes from allowing them to live. Sure, work on your home, bit by bit (or hire someone to help you), but reward your efforts with some soul-nourishing activity.

Our lives our important and they should be as happy and fulfilling as possible. I’m a firm believer that we can take control of our time and do those things that bring fulfillment.

Can you make some time for yourself this weekend?

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Recap of my 30-day challenges

17 July 2017

Back on June 1, I wrote about the power of the 30-day challenge and created an ambitious list of eight things I wanted to do every day for 30 days.

I just looked back on that list and thought I’d share whether I was able to do all eight things for 30 days. In a word, no. But I did pretty well! Here’s what I accomplished:

  • Genealogy research every day for at least a half hour
  • Back exercises every day
  • I completed the 30-day plank challenge
  • I was mindful in my spending (with the possible exception of buying a car, but I was mindful about that)
  • Four blog posts per week (split between this blog and my genealogy blog, Organize Your Family History)

Here’s what I didn’t manage to accomplish from my list:

  • Clear off my desk every day
  • Make daily progress on new products I’m writing. (That petered out after about five days.)
  • Work on Quickbooks daily. (I lasted about one day on that.)

I feel pretty good about what I was able to get done. But having such a long list of things I wanted to do every day is a great example of overreaching and setting up unrealistic goals.

I’ve tried (and failed) the 30-day plank challenge in the past but the reason I was successful this time (and I’m still planking) is that my friend and colleague Julie Bestry of Best Results Organizing read my June 1 post, offered me planking accountability and started a Facebook group for planking. She’s been amazing. I’m confident that there is no way I would have worked my way up to holding a plank for five minutes at month’s end if it weren’t for Julie and the Facebook accountability.

So the lessons I learned are twofold:

  1. Accountability is critical. Having an accountability partner or other ways of being held accountable can be really beneficial in keeping up with challenges and with creating new routines.
  2. It’s important to set realistic goals. I kept up with five things for 30 days (and I’m still going with some of them). That’s huge! But because I set goals of keeping up with eight things for 30 days, I feel like a bit of a failure. Next time, I’ll keep the list shorter.

My routine got thrown out of whack by a trip to visit my father and some time spend in the hospital with him because he fell. So I’m all discombobulated. But I hope to get back on track as soon as I slip back into my routines at home. (Thanks to Plank Constant, I’m still planking daily, though!)

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Reflections on a year of few clothes

6 July 2017

On July 1, 2016, I embarked on what I thought would be a year-long experiment with Project 333 the minimalist clothing project created by Courtney Carver and followed by people all over the world. I’d heard Courtney speak in St. Louis on her Tiny Wardrobe Tour and was inspired to give it a try.

At the beginning of each quarter this past year, I switched out my 33-item collection for a total of four collections. (I blogged about it every step of the way.) The clothes I own but aren’t included in the collection reside in three bins in my basement.

It’s been a year (already!) and I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the experiment. I absolutely loved having fewer clothes to choose from. I have come to recognize that I benefit greatly from limiting my choices. It makes decision-making easier. It saves me time. This is true in many aspects of my life, but probably most when it comes to getting dressed.

Here are the benefits I recognize from having a tiny wardrobe from which to dress every day:

  • It’s so easy to decide what to wear.
  • I love all the clothes in my closet.
  • I felt less concerned about what I wore, since I discovered that nobody really notices what you’re wearing.
  • Pretty much everything goes together.
  • I have less laundry to do.
  • I spend less time managing my clothes.
  • I can easily put my hands on whatever I want to wear.
  • It’s incredibly easy to pack for trips.

The list goes on.

So what are the down sides to having only 33 articles of clothing from which to choose?

  • I did get sick of my clothes selection by the end of the quarter.
  • Clothes don’t last as long because they’re worn and laundered more frequently.
  • When I added a few items (I went shopping at my favorite resale shop) I felt guilty because I didn’t take the time to remove clothes from the collection to compensate.

As I said, when I started I thought I’d do this for a year. And guess what? I’m sticking with it. I was thrilled to switch out my collection again on July 1. (I figured you guys are probably sick of looking at my collection of 33 of pretty much the same clothes, so I didn’t bother taking pictures this time.)

One thing I found interesting was there were quite a few clothes I didn’t wear the whole year. Before I started Project 333, I did a thorough decluttering of my clothes, keeping only the gems (or so I thought). On July 1, I went through the bins in the basement and easily removed about a dozen articles of clothing. It felt good to free myself of those clothes.

So I’m sticking with the simplicity of living with fewer clothes in my closet (and basement). I’ve worked with quite a few clients this year with huge wardrobes that are causing their closets to burst at the seams. It’s been interesting to share with them how easy it is to get dressed when you have fewer, rather than more, clothes. I hope to keep walking the walk as well as talking the talk!

Thank you, Courtney Carver!

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Worth repeating: Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best

29 June 2017

I originally posted this in 2013. I still love my black hand towels!

I had one of those “Why didn’t I think of that before?” strokes of brilliance that illustrates how sometimes we overlook the most simple solutions.

I had white towels in my bathroom, including the hand towels. I use mineral makeup, which I love, but I do hate the powdery mess it makes. After applying makeup, I would wash my hands and dry them on the towel. Perhaps because I’m always in a hurry, sometimes makeup residue would remain on my hands and get transferred to the hand towel.

I put up with this for literally years, lamenting the demise of the towels. (Even bleach didn’t seem to help.)

Then I redid my bathroom, which gave me the opportunity to re-think my towels. The new bathroom is beige with white trim, with silver and black accents. That’s when it hit me: I should buy black hand towels! They not only look good, they’re functional. Now if there’s makeup residue on my hands, it doesn’t show on the towels.

What could be more simple? Sometimes the simplest solutions really are the best!

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A new wastebasket for my new car

26 June 2017

I think having a wastebasket in your car is essential. If I didn’t, there would be empty protein bar wrappers and water bottles strewn all over the place, not to mention parking lot stubs and post-it notes. In my last car, a Honda CR-V, I had the perfect spot for my felted wool wastebasket that I knit. It did such a wonderful job and it made me really happy.

But in my new car that spot on the floor in front of the center console doesn’t exist. I went on Pinterest looking for solutions and came across a sewn wastebasket that hangs from the headrest of the front seat for use by the occupants of the back seat.

I’m really lucky because I have a talented friend, Bobbi Nesladek, who has a small sewing business called DownZipper. Bobbi sews really beautiful small accessories and has amazing taste in fabric choices and combinations. So I asked her to sew me a wastebasket. She was up to the challenge.

My new wastebasket arrived on Saturday. I love it! Here’s a photo of it in my car:

It’s lined in oilcloth, so it can be easily wiped out. Here’s a picture of the inside that Bobbi sent me as she was working on it:

I typically drive with no passengers. (My husband and I take his car when we go places together.) So I’ve decided to hang my wastebasket from the passenger seat headrest but facing the front of the car so that I can easily use it while I’m driving. When I do have a front-seat passenger, I’ll simply turn it around so that it faces the back of the car.

It’s cheerful and it makes me happy. And, of course, it’s highly functional. My favorite combination.

If you don’t have a wastebasket for your car, I suggest you get one. It will make your life easier. I have good news for you: If you’d like one of these hand sewn wastebaskets, just email Bobbi. She’s selling these gems for just $15.

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Do you know your prime time?

22 June 2017

What's your prime time of peak productivity?

This month, my personal theme is discipline and I’ve been working hard to keep up with the 30-day challenges I set out for myself on June 1. It’s going well. I’m particularly proud of the fact that I’ve done at least 30 minutes of genealogy research daily and that I’ve blogged four times a week (twice on this blog, twice on Organize Your Family History) every week this month.

One of the reasons for my success is that I’ve come to realize that my prime time of peak productivity is before 9:30 a.m. I do my genealogy research first thing in the morning, which I think is a fabulous way to start the day. I set a timer. If I didn’t, I might do research all day!

After genealogy, I blog. I’ve been trying to plan my blog posts for the week, so I don’t have to spend time figuring out what I want to write about. That planning is definitely fluid; nothing’s set in stone. Next I do the five to ten minutes of exercise I’ve committed to (baby steps) and only then do I turn to my task list to get going on other priorities.

Some mornings I have to leave the house earlier than others, so I adjust the time I get up (and, accordingly, the time I go to bed) so that I have enough time to get those things (and any other priority tasks) done before I leave the house. It helps that it’s June and it gets light so early. I’ve been getting up around 5:30 a.m. It’s a lot easier to get up when it’s light outside!

Your prime time might be late at night. Or smack dab in the middle of the day. Whatever it is, I urge you to try to reserve that block of time for tasks that require your focus and energy. That’s not the time to slot in appointments for the convenience of others if you can avoid it. Protect your prime time on your calendar.

Keeping a task list so that you know what you need to accomplish during your prime time is really helpful. I’ve been really good about this in June and I feel focused and not stressed. It’s a great feeling.

I blogged about powering through my task list first thing in the morning back in November. I feel fortunate to have come up with a strategy that allows me to balance my personal and professional goals with client and family time.

What’s your prime time?

Photo of a sunrise by Teknorat via Flickr

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Reflections after a year in our new kitchen

19 June 2017

A year ago today, our kitchen renovation was complete and I finished unpacking our stuff into the new kitchen. A month or two later, I wrote a blog series about the renovation. I just re-read the series and relived the joy of that project. Honestly, it was a bit of a pain while we were going through it, but the results were absolutely worth the hassle and the money.

A year later, we’re still loving the kitchen. My favorite storage features are still favorites. I hadn’t mentioned how much I like the trash/recycling pull-out cabinet in the island. It’s so much better than having two trash cans on the floor, which is what we had before. The other thing I love is how easy it is for me to empty the dishwasher each morning because almost everything is stored right near the dishwasher (a huge departure from our old kitchen). I love that we have ample space to store everything. It’s amazing what a difference in quality of life it make when you create a highly functioning kitchen.

Unlike our old kitchen, the countertops in the new kitchen stay quite uncluttered. I think that’s because there’s a place for everything and it’s easy to put stuff away. And when countertops stay clear, they don’t attract random stuff. The exception to that is the counter that runs along the wall from the kitchen to the radiator. (We call that the bar area.) It has started to attract some clutter—things that didn’t really have a home, like a single copy of a Sunday New York Times purchased for its puzzles, the recipe cards that came with our trials of Hello Fresh and Blue Apron and the full-color book/program you get when you go to Opera Theater St. Louis. But it took me less than ten minutes this morning to clear off a six-month accumulation. So that’s not bad!

One improvement we added was a bar for our dishtowels, which we put on the far end of the island. We used an appliance pull that matches our cabinet and drawer pulls. That’s worked out great. Here’s a photo taken after I decluttered the bar counter (with special guest appearance by Bix):

There are only a few things I think we’d do differently if we had it to do all over again.

  • We might have selected a different countertop because the solid-surface LG-Hi-MACS scratches easily and is heat-sensitive. I’m not sure what we should have chosen instead; we haven’t discussed that.
  • I’m not crazy about the Allure vinyl plank flooring we chose. I think it looks fake. If I had it to do over again, I might have chosen vinyl tile or vinyl wood plank that doesn’t look distressed. I don’t mind that it’s vinyl; I’m just not crazy about how the one we chose looks. But I really do love that it’s waterproof.
  • I kind of wish we’d designed a place for Bix’s food and water bowls because that water bowl has been kicked more than once. But I haven’t spent much time trying to figure out what we might have done. We’ve ended up placing them at the near end of the island, where we store his food. That’s working out pretty well.

Because everyone likes to look at before-and-after photos, I’ll run again the pix from the first post in the series last year. We don’t miss the red countertops. And we certainly like having upper cabinets!

From the entrance to the kitchen from the living space:

From the sink:

From the back door:

View of the built-in cabinet:

This last “after” shot shows that we sacrificed our pantry so that we could get the refrigerator out of the way. That was a stroke of genius on the part of the designer.

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About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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