Friday, January 20, 2012

Finished with Holiday Decorations?

Have you put away all your holiday decorations yet? Most of you probably have by now, but just in case you are still working on it, here are a few ideas.

Use plastic bins for most of your storage. These will handle temperature changes better than cardboard, and will help protect from dew or wetness if things are stored in garages or sheds.

Use similar size bins, if possible. If you want to be really organized, use the same size bin for all your storage. This may or may not be realistic for you. I just throw it out there for consideration. Some people even use particular color bins for particular holidays or seasons.

Keep all holidays/seasonal stuff in one place. We use an unused coat closet to store all these items in once place. That way we don't miss something by having it elsewhere, and it is a good way to limit yourself from having too much. (For example, you can tell yourself that holiday items are ONLY stored on "this side of the garage" and you will not accumulate any more than will reasonably fit in that area.)

Consider getting special containers. If you can afford it, there are many customized containers for Christmas lights, bulbs and decorations available. One of the best decisions I made in recent years was to get boxes for tree ornaments that had dividers. Our tree tells a story because we have at least one new ornament a year comemorating something from that year. I was able to store these ornaments in year order when I put them away, being assured of a complete set. But the picture above recycles a wine box for the same purpose.

Divide seasonal from holiday decor. I like to put out seasonal items separately from holidays. For example, I keep winter items like snowmen out through December, January and February, while Christmas, New Year's and Valentines' Day items only are out in the few weeks surrounding that particular holiday. Thus I box them separately.

Purge. As you take down items from a holiday, pick one or two things that you don't really need to keep and get rid of them (donate or discard.) We all have extra ornaments that we may never use, wreaths that have worn out, etc. Unless it has special sentimental value, think about keeping your decorations under control, especially if you happened to have bought anything new this year.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The All Together Separate Principle

There are lots of ways to maintain calendars and to-do lists. This idea is just one of many, and it boils down to having one calendar, but separate to-do lists.

All-together: Keep one master calendar for your personal and professional life. You may choose to use Google calendar so it can sync between various technologies (phone, laptop, desktop) or have one master printed calendar in one room of the house with a copy kept up in a day planner. (Try to keep backups somewhere.) I recommend one calendar since it will give you a bird's eye view of everyone's schedule and where plans could potentially bleed into each other. You don't have to have everyone's daily plans for every minute, but having all major family events in one place is a good idea.

I use Outlook and Google calendar to sync my calendar between my phone, home desktop, work desktop, and iPad. That keeps one calendar of what I'm up to on all the resources I happen to be near. I know the basic schedule for my son's college classes, and general schedule for hubby's work but don't choose to put them on my calendar at this point since they are pretty consistent every day. (I don't feel the need to keep track of anything deeper than that--i.e. hubby's meetings or young adult son's specific social plans...that would be a little too much micro-managing!)

Note: check settings if you are concerned about the Google calendar being public.

Separate: Keep unique task lists for home, employment, and "third space." Likely, you won't (or shouldn't be) doing employment tasks while at home, or home tasks while at the job site. So keep your task list for workplace--at the workplace. Don't allow the mental clutter of professional tasks to interfere with your life at home (as a general rule, anyway.) Keep home tasks away from the workplace so you can focus on your job when there. If you have things to do in the "third space"--which includes your vehicle and the errands you do as well as other locations where you do things such as church, coffee shops, etc., keep that ongoing list separate. A good place for this could be your phone if it has that feature, or maybe a pad you carry in your purse.

I work part-time for a financial firm in addition to running HOPE Unlimited, (which is run mostly from my house.) My task list for my firm work remains on Outlook on the desktop computer they provide. I don't sync the task list from the there with my task list at home or my phone as I would only be doing tasks while at the office. I keep a separate task list on my home computer for tasks related to home and HOPE. I keep an app or two on my phone to handle my "third space" list or make myself a note the old fashioned way, keeping it in my purse or vehicle.  When I am ready to tackle tasks, I can take out the appropriate list and focus on that.

The "All Together Separate" principle is one way to manage the mental clutter in our lives. It gives you a birds-eye view of the direction of your days while compartmentalizing the lists you will need for specific places. Write it down. Keep it "all together" or "separate" as appropriate, and keep your mind from getting quite so tired.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Getting Organized is an Act of Worship

So often, we separate the sacred and the secular in our lives. Our time reading the Bible, or going to church or Bible studies, or praying is considered sacred. Our time updating the checkbook, dusting the mantel, attending a business meeting or writing a report feels more "secular." But I have news for you. It's all sacred. God really does care about how you and "do" everyday life, including how it is organized. After all, how we manage--or steward--what He gives us, brings honor or disappointment to Him.

We are created in His image. That means that we reflect Him. He desires us to be holy like He is. So, in terms of our lives and homes, what would that mean?

Let's take a look at the following verses:

  • 1 Corinthians 14:40 – But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
  • Colossians 2:5 - For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
  • Proverbs 31 tells of a woman that looks over the affairs of her household well
  • Titus 2:5 encourages us to be busy at home
  • Colossians 3:17 – Whatever we do (including homemaking) is to be done to the glory of God

So if He is a God of order and peace, it makes sense that when we live in order and peace we are mirroring His characteristics. The bonus is that it also leads to peace in our relationships--something that brings great joy to Him! (Psalm 133:1)

So let me ask you (and me) a question. When we are doing household chores, what is our underlying attitude? Are we sighing and mumbling? Or are we using the opportunity to worship?

Home chores are a great time to worship the Lord. Put on some praise music and vacuum in a worship dance to the Lord. Fold all those clothes with a thankful spirit for the people who wear them. Pray and ask for help and strength to do the necessary chores for that day--and only what God wants done, not the huge list we often expect of ourselves. As you de-clutter, think of "putting aside weights" that easily drag us down (Hebrews 12:1) and consider the freedom you will feel when that area is no longer a pile of junk!

Pray while you type that report. Have a thankful spirit as you answer that customer's phone call. Be a light in your workplace.

Experiment this week with worshiping while organizing at home or in the workplace and comment about it! This blog will be more helpful as you comment and we get a discussion going!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Request...

(We realize this may be a duplicate for those who receive these posts by email. We apologize for the inconvenience but needed to provide a working link. Thanks for understanding.)

If you have subscribed to this blog by email, we would like to invite you to also subscribe to our "Friends of H.O.P.E." list. We send occasional updates about services that may interest more than two in a month, for example, and sometimes not even that. We announce opportunities such as Break Time Bible Studies, resources for organizing/team building/money management, and holiday greetings.

In the past, those subscribed to our blogs were automatically added to that email list as well but now we want to leave that up to you! Please consider joining that list so we can keep you informed without overwhelming your email box!

If the link below does not work (i.e. you received this in email) please use the box at the top of Thanks!

Thank you!