Saturday, December 29, 2012

FREE Book Today!

Beth's latest book (Kindle format) is 52 Ways to Be More Organized. Usually 99 cents, from time to time it is offered free. Today is one of those days!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We wish you a very merry, and reasonably organized, Christmas and launch to your New Year! We are taking a blog sabbatical until January where we will start back up with encouragement for your organizing journey generally two times per week. Until then, relax and enjoy yourself!

Karina, Beth, Stephanie

Friday, December 21, 2012

Goal Setting Part 10: The "How Will I Know?" of Goal Setting

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Last time, I reviewed the “what if” of goal setting as it relates to possible obstacles that can arise and the solutions you create to deal with them on your way to achieving your goals.  This week, I’m going to focus on the “how will I know” piece of goal setting.

So far, you’ve drilled down to some concrete specifics on your goal. Now, however, we need to talk about how you will know if you’ve actually been successful in your attempts towards a goal.  This may seem obvious, but again, you really need to be careful here.

The “how will I know” aspect of goal setting speaks to the specific measurements that go with a particular goal.  If I set a goal that says, “I want to lose weight,” I have not been given myself a specific or precise measurement that will let me know if I’ve achieved the goal.  Does my goal to lose weight mean that I will be successful if I lose ¼ of a pound?  Does it mean that I have been successful by losing 3 pounds? 

When you set a goal for yourself, place a specific measurement with it that clearly indicates successful and acceptable accomplishment.  In the example of losing weight, you would say, “I want to lose 12 pounds over the next 12 months at the rate of one pound per month.” Each month, if you have not lost the expected pound, then you have not met your objective for that month.  If you reach the loss of a pound, you have successfully met your objective for that month.  If you lose two pounds, you are ahead of schedule towards your ultimate goal of 12 pounds. When you do not list a measurable way to track your success, you set yourself up for the very ambiguity that keeps most people from reaching their goals.  Measurement is a guide or tool that we use to gauge where we are from the finish line.  Do we need to make an adjustment to speed things up or slow things down?  Are we ahead of schedule, behind schedule, or completely off track and going the wrong direction?

In many business environments, rewards are awarded to employees who meet their expected goals.  If measurement is established when the goal is originally set, then the there is no room for inference on the part of the employee or the organization.  Either the employee met the goal, or he did not.  If he hit the measurement specified, he reached the goal. If he didn’t hit the measurement, he did not reach the goal.  In that case, it’s not about the emotion of the pursuit. It’s about the end result. Either we achieved the desired result, or we did not. 

Simply put – if you don’t know where you’re going – how will you know if you got there?

-Stephanie Baker

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Looking for Guest Bloggers!

Do you have a blog post or article about organized living that you want to share? We'd love to hear from you about having a post on our blog. If your article is selected, all we ask is that you share on your blog that you are being featured on ours!

Submit your idea below and if approved we will get in touch with the details!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Getting Organized Benefits from Awareness of Potential Obstacles

Image: Â© 2012 Jupiterimages Corporation
Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways!" Haggai 1:5 NKJV

Consider your ways.

Have you done that lately?

How many of us really take time to stop and consider how and why we do certain things? We fall into habits and don't necessarily know why we keep doing it.

It's like the story Dave Ramsey tells of a family cutting the ends off a ham before they bake it. They finally asked an older relative and she said, "I'm not sure why you do it, but  I did it so it would fit in my pan." The family had passed on a tradition because it was "always done that way" without giving thought to why.

What is going on in your life that would evidence the same thing? Do you continue to resent something that happened in the past that you cannot change? Do you continue to fear what might be coming in the future? Are you nervous about getting more organized at home because you don't think it will really stay that way?

It's important to prayerfully consider why we get hung up on certain things. We should, from time to time, examine our hearts and ask, for example, why it is so important that our home look a certain way. We all have stumbling blocks that can trip us up. We may be trying to impress someone, or make up for some failure in the past. We may be trying to earn God's approval. We may be trying to protect our emotions by hanging on to lots of things from the past, fearful we may otherwise forget those who have passed on.

Take some time this week to ask God if there are emotional hurdles that are keeping you from becoming all He wants you to be. Ask Him for help in your overcome obstacles that keep you from creating an inviting, God-honoring, peaceful home. He is willing to help you...just let Him!

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Goal Setting Part 9: The "What If?" of Goal Setting

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Last time, I spent time talking about the “which” of goal setting as it related to identifying which obstacles might keep you from attaining the goal you have set.  This is all part of looking at the entire process of working towards our goals.  Once you’ve identified what obstacles you might face, then you want to create possible solutions to fall back on, should those obstacles arise.

In project management, this would be similar to risk planning. How much time you spend here depends on the probability that the obstacle will arise, as well as the impact it will have if it does arise.  If there’s a high probability that you’ll run into the obstacle you’ve identified, then you will want to give greater consideration to planning a solution for it.  Let’s say that you want to take a web design class.  You’ve never studied anything like this subject before, and you’re concerned that there will be material that you just don’t understand.  If that’s the case, then you might begin to consider your options.  You want to spend time now, not just thinking about the solution, but putting the pieces of it together. That way, when you’re in the middle of the journey, you don’t have to stop and try to figure it things out in the heat of the battle or worse, under the stress of last minute damage control. 

In this case, before you sign up for the class, you could do a number of different things.  First, you could try to convince your friend who designs websites for a living to commit to helping you with coursework when and if you get stuck. Second, you could ask the school for a list of appropriate tutors who work with students studying that curriculum. Then, you could call a couple of them ahead of time to find out availability, fees, and any other pertinent information.  Third, you could ask your instructor to recommend a few helpful books or reference materials that you could read prior to the beginning of your class to help you prepare.  Fourth, you could get with someone else who’s already taken the class and ask that person his opinion on the level of difficulty of the material.  That person could possibly work with you on the material that you might struggle with, or he might know someone else that could help you out if you get stuck.  In this situation, another solution would to take some type of preliminary or prerequisite course before attending the actual web design course you listed as your goal.

When you start to examine possible solutions to an obstacle you think you’ll face, you’re on the way to setting yourself up for success, not failure.  You will be more confident because you already have solutions in play. You will feel more “in control” of your situation because you’ve thought through it on a deeper level.  When you feel like you’re in control, you naturally feel more confident.  Think about this proactive process… it’s just like making sure you have the car gassed up and the oil changed before you begin a long road trip.  The point is to buy your AAA membership before you even put the key in the ignition! - Stephanie Baker

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Quiet Time Bins

Today we welcome guest blogger, April Emery, of Holistic Homemaking, to our blog! This is a great idea for quiet, resting times for your kids. Hey, maybe adults should create some bins for themselves too! Thanks April for sharing!

You could make up a few of these for last minute Christmas gifts!

Behold, my secret weapon for successful quiet or resting times in my house ... Quiet Time Bins! Quiet Time Bins are packed with items/activities that a young child can use to entertain him/herself during times of quiet or rest. These bad boys have been my secret weapon as my children have transitioned out of naps. This helps still give me a break, but keep my children occupied if they aren't in the napping mood on a given day.

Read on to find out how to create Quiet Time Bins for your child, a list of ideas to fill your bins, and some helpful tips on using your bins.
Creating Quiet Times Bins
1 - Purchase 5 plastic bins for each child - 1 for each day of the week (in my case I had 5 for my 4-year old and 5 for my 2-year old). You can also use shoe boxes that you have around the house.
2 - Label bins with child's name name and a day of the week (I printed out labels and then attached them on the inside of the bin using packing tape).
3 - Fill each bin with items age-appropriate for your child. My goal for each day was to include at least one book (board books for my 2-year old), one item to promote problems solving or creative play, and one manipulative items to foster fine motor skills.
4 - On the appropriate day I give my child that day's bin to use during her resting time. When rest time is over the bin is put away. Having a different box each day prevents boredom with the toys inside.

Here are samples of what my girls' bins look like:

(2-year old bin - magnetic "paper" doll, small board book, Etch-A-Sketch)

(4-year old - puzzles, small book, blocks, Play-Doh, Etch-A-Sketch)

Visit Holistic Homemaking for a list of great Quiet Times Bin content ideas {with some helpful links, too}. You can also use a variation of Quiet Time Bins on road trips with children {some ideas for Travel Busy Bags can be found here.

Helpful Tips & Pointers
  • Make sure the toys/books in these bins are not ones they will play with every day. Try to make the items in your bins a special treat. This allows the bins to hold their interest for longer periods of time.
  • Follow age guidelines for toys to prevent young children from choking.
  • Refrain from adding items that are going to make noise. I try to steer clear of anything electronic. The goal of these bins is to help your child play quietly and rest their body and mind.
  • Look at the items you already have in your house to get your bins started. You don't have to go buy new things. Over time, as you spot a great deal, you can purchase extra items for your bins to replace or include in an existing day's bin.
  • Give your child items for their quiet times bins in their Christmas stocking or as Birthday presents.
  • Don't force your child to use a bin if they aren't wanting to. My kids understand that their rest time each day is for laying in their bed and resting or for playing with the items in their bins. My 2-year old actually starts out playing with hers and, on some days, puts herself in bed for a short nap!
  • Don't overload your bin. You want to provide enough items to have options, but so many that it becomes overwhelming. I typically have around 4 different types of toys/activities in my bins (see photos above).
  • Try to use a bin that is easy for your child to open and close him/herself. The bins I purchased are excellent. I did see some cheaper bins in the store, but the lids were difficult for a young child to open on his/her own.
  • If your children are older and do not nap, try this alternative: instead of labelling the bins by day just fill them and store them in a place your child can reach them. When your child gets bored or needs some entertainment he/she can go and select a bin of his/her choice. My oldest child loves taking one of these up to her room to play by herself.
Do you have use Quiet Times Bins in your home? If so, what do you put in your bins?

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Getting Organized Prompts Flexibility

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And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting ga net into the sea; for they were fisherman. Then Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." They immediately left their nets and followed Him.  Mark 1:16-18 NKJV

Picture yourself in the middle of a typical daily project. Maybe you are attacking "Mount Washmore." Or maybe you are entering number 356 of information forms into a database. You might be organizing a field trip for your child's class or preparing someone's taxes.

Jesus suddenly shows up and says, "Follow Me."

What would you say?

"Ah, Jesus, I have this tax form to finish."

"Let me just finish folding this underwear."

"I've got one more call to make."

"Leave this data entry? Yeah baby!"

Whatever your reaction, it would require flexibility.

The fishermen were in the midst of their daily work, which was probably grueling. Then this man tells them essentially that He has a better option. What did they do? They immediately dropped everything to find out more.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you drop everything on every whim. God delights in self-control and discipline too. However, this was the Son of God telling them to forget about today's task and come discover something more important.

I wonder how many of us would really drop everything to take advantage of such an opportunity? I can't say that I always would. I remember one time we had some visitors from out of town and due to various things, our home was not company-ready. While we spent time with them elsewhere, we were not able to be as flexible as we possibly could have been, because of being bogged down by other needs and responsibilities. A few weeks later though, we were able to host an overnight guest for several days. Some things had changed and we were able to get our home in better order.

Getting, and being, even a bit more organized, can help us say "yes" more often to those sudden, sometimes delightful, opportunities to go or do something out of the ordinary. Then we aren't a slave to the house or feel like we'd be so behind when we got back that it would steal the joy from the impetuous visit or ministry opportunity.

You owe it to yourself, if no one else, to live in a bit more organized fashion so that you can immediately follow Christ's invitation to enjoy an opportunity you may not have planned on.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Goal Setting Part 8: The Which of Goal Setting

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Last time I talked about planning to acquire resources you need to complete your goal.  Equally important is discussing which obstacles that you may run into along the way to successful achievement of said goal.

When you try anything new, the biggest obstacle to your own achievement is ….well…uhm…er…YOU.  Let’s start there.  You are the person trying to integrate a new behavior change into your routine.  Your own brain, however, is wired against your attempts to change anything.  When we do something repeatedly, it becomes a habit (like eating whatever you want whenever you want and not caring about the choice involved). Over time, your brain develops a “memory” of that behavior habit and when you try to change it or alter it in any way, your brain fights that.  You may be successful a time or two, but then the old habit starts winning over the new one and you’re right back where you started. 

To break an old habit, you need to repeat the new pattern many times over.  Eventually, the old “memory” that’s associated with that old behavior habit will be overwritten by the new memory that you’ve now associated with the new behavior habit.  It’s a lot more scientific than I’m getting here, but for purposes of this blog – let’s try to keep it simple.  I think it’s important that  I address the fact that this is going on in any attempt to change an existing behavior to something new.  When you address that it’s just “not in your makeup,” you’re not giving yourself an excuse to fail, but rather you’re giving yourself greater power to succeed in spite of that challenge.  As a side note here, exercise actually helps you in this entire process – whatever the new behavior habit is that you’re trying to implement, exercising helps your brain in building the new “memory” that’s associated with it through something called neurogenesis.

There are other obstacles that you may run into along the way to reaching this new goal. It’s important that you look at your past performance to determine if there is anything there to give you a clue to what you may face again that could derail you. What has happened in the past that’s kept you from being successful in reaching goals?  How did you handle it?  Were you effective in dealing with that particular obstacle(s)?  What didn’t work in your effort to overcome it?  How might you approach this obstacle(s) differently this time with a more successful outcome?

It’s always helpful to run the idea of potential obstacles past other people who know you and support your efforts to reach your goals. You might be surprised to hear what others see in and around you that you may have missed.  Once you’ve identified the things that can (and have) pull you off course, work out strategies to deal with them should they happen.  Everyone is better with a plan.  It’s typically the unexpected thing that arises – the thing we didn’t think about and have no plan on how to deal with – that keeps us from staying on the forward track to achieve our goals.  To be forewarned is to be forearmed.  Essentially, this is the process of “risk planning/management,” for the goal seeker.

-Stephanie Baker

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beth's on Pinterest!

I'm on Pinterest! Author Beth Beutler is on Pinterest where she pins items about getting organized. You can follow her boards here.

Are you on Pinterest?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Getting Organized Requires Maintenance

©2012 Jupiterimages Corporation
Proverbs 25:28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls. NKJV

In Old Testament times, perhaps more than our modern day, cities were often known to have walls. The entire book of Nehemiah is devoted toward the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem. Why were walls so important?

Walls gave protection. Walls provide definition and boundaries. Walls serve as reminders of the need for discipline and self-control. These days, we may use fences instead, defining property lines, keeping pets in our own yard, giving children an area of relative safety to play.

When it comes to home organization, our systems provide some of this needed self-discipline and as well as healthy boundaries (i.e. we only eat in certain areas of the house or paint in certain rooms, etc.) But the systems themselves won't work for long if we don't maintain, or practice, them regularly.

For example, you may have created a system for managing shoes and coats in your foyer. But if you and your family still carry them into the living room and dump them on the couch, your system won't be of any help. You have to discipline yourself, and help others be disciplined, to maintain the systems you have set up.

There will be times, also, that you will need to do maintenance on parts of your home. It is natural for homes to age and need repair (just like cars, and us!) By applying regular maintenance, you can keep your home in better shape for many years.

Spiritually, we can use and maintain systems that help us consistently grow. These are often referred to as "spiritual disciplines." These may be practices such as church attendance, Bible reading/study, small group fellowship, prayer, quiet moments, fasting, etc. Without regular "feeding" one does not grow and strengthen.

It is important to establish and maintain disciplines in life. Be careful, however, not to elevate the system above the reason for it. You are establishing systems in your home to create a peaceful, serving environment, not to become a control freak. You create unique patterns of spiritual discipline to grow in your walk with Christ, not to just check off a list to feel like a good Christian.

Periodically review your systems, whether at home or within your spiritual journey. Tweak and polish to keep the main thing, the main thing.

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