I was reading through my past few blog posts, and I noticed a little bit of a trend in how I’ve been approaching organization in my own life.  Namely, I’ve been putting it off.

I moved to the DC area a little over a year ago (that year went so fast!).  We are currently renting a 1-bedroom apartment and are in the midst of trying to buy a house.  We knew from the start that we were only going to stay in our apartment for about a year, so we kept furniture buying for this new apartment to a minimum.  So without making many large purchases,  I worked to organize and reorganize the space, making the small apartment feel like home and not overcrowded.  At least, this is what I did initially.

Lately I’ve found myself thinking about improvements I could make around the apartment and then dismissing them since we’re going to be moving “soon”.  Well no matter how soon “soon” really ends up being, why not just start today? What do I lose by making improvements today?

The answer: Nothing!

Here’s my short list of things to improve now:

  • Pictures in picture frames – This has never been a strong suit of mine.  I think it’s weird to have pictures of myself in my own place.. But I’m going to get over this.  I’ve ordered prints and now just need to get them in the frames (which I already own even!).
  • Hanging coat hooks – I’ve managed to get hooks inside all of my closets, but failed to hang up pretty much one of my favorite things in the house – our E & P hooks, which were a present from my sister and brother-in-law. Yes, I feel guilty about this.
  • Purging extra books, clothes, and knick knacks – I was waiting until we actually found a house to do this, as I started packing.  However, we’ve filled up our current apartment and I need to reclaim from space. It’ll be nice to have some empty shelves again.
  • A spot for paper – Another weakness of mine – I hate dealing with paper.  I’ve got the junk mail situation down, but not so much on the papers we actually need to keep.  This is a longer term project for me.  Step one will be research.  I’m starting with the Freedom Filer system and Babara Hemphill’s Taming the Paper Tiger.

As I make progress on these projects, I’ll give updates!

As much as I love December — snow is still exciting, listening to Christmas music all the time is socially acceptable, there’s time for vacation and visiting with family — it is an incredibly busy month for most people.  When January rolls around, I’m usually relieved to have a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  The weather seemingly always turns a little (or a lot) colder.  It’s in the teens in DC today and very windy, which means I had to break out the long underwear and I got to test out my warmest hand knit gear!

The colder weather forces us to slow down and maybe stay inside a bit more.  It’s the perfect time to reflect on the year that’s passed and the year that’s ahead of you and set some intentions (or resolutions, if you will) for yourself.

Here’s some tips to help you set and keep those intentions for 2014.

  • Think about the upcoming year.

It may sound easy enough, but we all know how hard it can be to give yourself some time to just think quietly.  Try taking a coffee or tea break away from the computer and your phone.  If you’re like me, bring along a pen and scrap of paper and jot down some ideas.  What life changes came in 2013? Have you adjusted your routine to accommodate these changes – or are you still struggling to keep up?  What changes do you want to make for yourself in the upcoming months and year?

Here’s my list so far:

  1. Establish routine for working on my organizing business.
  2. Establish routine for working on this blog.
  3. Keep all shopping intentional and planned.
  4. Continue daily walks – adding weekend walks!
  • Start Small.

The idea here is that you want to set yourself up for success.  By starting with something small, you’re more likely to achieve the goal.   I read an article that suggested changing the goal of exercising more to putting on your running shoes each morning.  Once you’ve accomplished something small, move onto something bigger!  No one says you can’t revise intentions during the year.

Here’s the changes I’ll make to my list of intentions:

  1. Block off 6 hours (minimum) weekly to business work. [One could argue that goal this isn’t small enough. I’ll acknowledge that and move on b/c I’ve got work to do! :) ]
  2. Work on the blog once a week: brainstorm, write a rough draft, or finalize a post.
  3. If I find something I like, wait a full day before actually making a purchase.
  4. Walk somewhere either Friday night, Saturday or Sunday every weekend.
  • Acknowledge your successes

We started small for a reason – so you could feel success sooner rather than later.  Once you do something on your list, even just once, acknowledge it!  Mark it in your calendar as completed.  Tell your mom, or BFF, or someone who likes you.  Say “Woot! I’m awesome”.  Put on a song and dance around to it.  Do not be embarrassed.  It’s a big deal when you do something you set out to do.

  • Get a support system

I got this idea from my knitting group.  We all put up our personal knitting plans in a forum post so we can cheer each other on during the year.  I think accountability is a great thing.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I put some things up on my blog just so you all can hold me accountable for plans and goals I’ve declared.  Remember that support systems should be about supporting you – not putting you down.  Let’s keep things positive!

  • Keep it going.

We’ve all heard that it takes n days to make a habit a routine.  Whatever that magical number of days is, an important thing to remember about New Year’s resolutions is that you made them so that you would make a change to your life – not just to your life during the month of January.  Create a reminder for the first of every month of 2014.  On those days spend 5 minutes reviewing your intentions for the year.  If you’ve stopped working on them, acknowledge that fact and start again. Make changes where you need to.

Happy New Year!  Feel free to share your personal resolutions in the comments.  I promise you’ll feel more committed to them!

The internet (and my calendar I suppose) tell me that the holidays are coming up.  Really, the internet tells me that the holidays are coming up and that means people are about to freak out!  Today I won’t go into any long drawn out list of reasons the holidays are not a time to freak out, instead I will share a list of things I to do to try and calm myself down.

I may not get worked up about the holidays (or at least I haven’t yet), but I am the type of person who can worry about anything and then stress themselves out about any number of things.  Lately I’ve been keeping really busy trying to get my own business up and running.  Besides getting nervous about putting myself out there, there is a ton of things for me to learn about business in general – both of which are stressful!  So, in the spirit of always trying to better myself, I’ve been employing a few techniques to help manage my stress level.

 

Walk It Out.

Change your scenery and take a walk.  The crisp fall air has been great for snapping myself out of a worrying funk.  If my arms and legs are moving, my mind can get moving in the right direction.  I move away from any negative thoughts and work on productive, positive brainstorming.

Get a Coffee.

Or a beer. Or whatever.  Put away your phone/compute/tablet and give yourself a bit of time to sit with your thoughts (and your coffee).  If the walk got your mind moving too much, use this time to refocus your attention on what matters most to you and to your goals.

Make a List.

Of course I recommend making a list! I always feel better after I make a list.  However, if my mind has been racing around on a single topic, I make sure my list includes only concrete next action steps.  I want to end with a plan in hand on how to achieve a goal or solve a particular problem.

Picture your Successful Self.

Ok, bear with me here for a minute.  I recently heard a talk about ways to assess and achieve a goal.  One point that I had never considered before was the power that visualizing yourself having already achieved a goal can have.  You can do this in words or simply in your mind.  The key is focusing on what your life will be like once your goal is achieved.  This is a great push for me – I picture my future, successful self and I’m able to stop worrying and just get things done!

 

Oh and please note that I’ve marked this as a BO-pinion post.  As I noted above, this is just something I’ve been working on myself!  I’m happy for more suggestions in the comments!

Previously I shared my go to granola recipe with you.  That recipe is great if you are thinking ahead because it makes a whole bunch all at once.  However, sometimes you don’t really think far enough ahead and sometimes, you just need some more variety in your breakfast life.  Am I right?

Enter muesli.museli-prepared  It’s just as fast as boxed cereal, but is made with whole grains and nothing you can’t pronounce.  Some people call them overnight oats.  I sometimes thing of it as cold oatmeal (but I swear, a delicious form of cold oatmeal).  Traditionally, you mix muesli up the night before you want to eat it and let it soak overnight in the fridge.  Recently I’ve been mixing it up first thing in the morning and eating it at the office about three hours later.  I have also mixed it together, microwaved it for 2 minutes and called it oatmeal.  All variations are delicious.

Today I’ll share both the short, quick version of my muesli method and a longer version that makes 4-5 servings at once.  This second version has all of the options and variations I’ve tried. You could call these both recipes, but I actually think of them more as formulas, allowing you lots and lots of customization for your tastes.

The Basic Recipe

In a jar, bowl or large mug combine:

museli-ingredients

  1. 40 g (1/2 cup) rolled oats  *pro tip: using a kitchen scale means no additional dishes to do!*
  2. Dash cinnamon or baking spice. *or pumpkin spice because that is all the internet is talking about right now.
  3. 40 g (~1/3 cup) frozen berries
  4. 1 tsp of maple syrup or honey *if you are adding fruit, I think the extra sweetener is unnecessary.  if I am going to microwave the oats, I will add the syrup or honey though.
  5. 1/2 cup milk of your choosing *using whole milk here is amazing. it tastes totally decadent

Wait a few hours or even overnight, then enjoy!

 

The Full Recipe – makes 4-5 servings.

  1. Decide on a number of servings to make. As written, this makes 4-5 servings.  Feel free to double, triple, or halve the recipe as you see fit.
  2. Choose a container with a lid.  For 4-5 servings, I use a quart mason jar for storing the dry muesli.
  3. Combine the following in your storage container:
    1. Rolled Oats
      1. 2 cups if you won’t be including many nuts (or eat a lot :) )
      2. 1 cup if you will be adding a lot of nuts or dried fruit
    2. Spices
      1. 1 tsp. cinnamon
      2. 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
      3. 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
    3. Seeds or Nuts – add up to 1/2 c.
      1. sunflower seeds
      2. sesame seeds
      3. coarsely chopped raw, unsalted nuts
    4. Additional Add-Ins – 1 or 2 is sufficient and always optional
      1. 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
      2. 1/4 c. ground flax meal
      3. 1/4 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
      4. 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
    5. Dried Fruit – a good option if you don’t have any fresh or frozen fruit
      1. 1/4 c. dried cherries (my favorite)
      2. 1/4 c. raisins (traditional add-in, also a way to add sweetness)
      3. 1/4 c. chopped dates or figs (will be trying this fall!)
  4. When (almost) ready to eat, combine:
    1. 2/3-3/4 c. dry museli mixture
    2. 1/3-1/2 c. fresh or frozen fruit
      1. Whole blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries
      2. Peaches or nectarines slices
      3. Grated apple (the most traditional add-in)
    3. 1 tsp. Optional Sweetener
      1. Maple Syrup
      2. Honey
      3. Vanilla extract
    4. 1/2 c. milk of your choice
  5. Wait at least 2 hours before eating to allow the oats to soften. If short on time, microwave for 2 minutes and enjoy your oatmeal!

 

Today we are talking procrastination.  Specifically, one method to help you get over it and get stuff done!

I am a mixed bag when it comes to procrastination. Sometimes I don’t think twice about getting tasks done – if its on my mind or on my to do list, I’ll get it done no problem. Other times though (like this past Sunday), I am big into procrastination. I dread nothing more than the task at hand. I will sit or stand frozen, unable to even take the first step toward completion.

Let me share what happened to me this past weekend.

On Sunday I told myself I needed to spend some time researching the legal side of starting my own business. Sounds fun, huh? No wonder I was putting it off. Who doesn’t want to spend their Sundays in their p-jams, sipping coffee, knitting and napping? I even got to the point that I was just wandering around my (tiny) kitchen, looking for anything to do, but sit down in front of the computer.

Did changing out of my pajamas give me the push I needed? No way. (Let’s not kid ourselves here. I stayed in my pj pants all day). Instead, I applied Premack’s Principle.Premack It Up

Premack’s Principle is simple:

You start with two tasks: one which you want to avoid and one you are looking forward to doing.  Then, you make an agreement with yourself: if you complete the task you are avoiding, you can then do the task you enjoy.  E.g. Once you eat your vegetables, you can eat your ice cream.

In my case,  I told myself that if I did my small business research online, afterwards I could finish picking out my outfit for an upcoming wedding. Both were things I needed to get done soon, but trying on dresses and shoes from my closet is a LOT more appealing to me than googling business registration rules and regulations.

And guess what, it worked!  I got through the research I needed, made a list of questions to look into further and found a good contact for those questions.

What project or task are you avoiding at home or at work?  What can you use as a rewarding task to help get the job done?