Monthly Archives: January 2012

Get it Together, Girl! Week 1: Kitchen Aid

Also on my organizational reading list, we have the plan from Karyn L. Beach’s “Get it Together Girl: A 28-Day Guide to Practical – NOT Perfect – Home Organization.” I mean, our place is fairly well-organized, but it could always stand improvement. If you’re keeping count, that’s three expert plans we’ve implemented in the L home… Suck it, “Happiness Project!”

“Get it Together Girl” allots a week per room/major living area in your house, breaking it down into individual tasks to be performed on each day that week. Week one – this week – is dedicated to the kitchen. Prescribed daily action items are as follows:

1. Purge, clean + organize fridge

2. Purge, clean + organize cabinets, countertop, drawers, pantry

3. Create + customize grocery list spreadsheet and post to fridge

4. Purge, clean + organize under sink, junk drawer, bar

5. Sort, toss and straighten out tupperware nightmare

6-7. Weekend: clean floors, stove + oven, surfaces

Beach also implores readers to “clean as you cook,” which I already do because I can’t relax and enjoy my meal if I know the kitchen looks like the damn Delta house.

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Ground Zero

I have to admit, I mixed things up a bit – because that’s how I roll…unpredictable – and I switched days 1 and 2. I had to hit the pantry first. The fact that we even have a pantry after a decade of NYC apartment dwelling, is an amazing thing…and it quickly turned to a chaos of chip bags, fruit pouches and cases of diet soda. I straightened it out – but we’ll see how long it lasts….

Obsessed: my Nespresso

Prior to receiving the Nespresso as a gift a couple of Christmases ago (thanks, Ron!!!), F and I busted two traditional espresso makers. In fact I think we broke the second one within two weeks – a record! Clearly we are not destined to be baristas…

The problem? How could we reconcile our utter lack of mechanical skills with our abject love of lattes? The solution? The amazing Nespresso machine!

Not only does it have a streamlined, compact design, but it is a total timesaver in so many ways. The espresso pods are pre measured and packaged, and are dropped right into the hatch. All you have to do is fill the water well, flip a switch and press a button. Most importantly, the coffee in the pods actually tastes great, unlike those ubiquitous k-cups which – and this is a fact – taste like boiled ass. Plus, if you hate shopping in actual stores as I do, you can reorder pods with the click of a button through the handy Nespresso iPhone app on your morning commute. Seriously kick ass.

Not to mention, we’ve been using our Nespresso for over a year and have yet to break it. Amazing.

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Getting Things Done: The Calendar

The Getting Things Done method also places a great deal of importance on the calendar. It’s the “bucket” in which only three types of information should go:
– time specific actions (meetings, appointments)
– day specific actions (tasks and to-dos that must be completed on a certain day but not at a specific time that day)
– day specific information (things you want to know about on certain days such as directions to appointments, events of interest)

Evidently only these three types of information and nothing else can go onto your calendar – be it digital or analog. This is to prevent the jam-ups that occur on your daily to-do checklist because of constant new input and shifting priorities. Additionally if there is something on the list that doesn’t really need to be done it dilutes the importance of the tasks which must be accomplished that day.

To that end, actions that are not day-specific and reminders should go on a “next actions” list. So your daily tasks revolve around two separate sources of information: your calendar and your next actions list. This seems needlessly complicated to me and is why I love my Moleskine daily planner, it’s the best of both worlds. I can put in events by time and list what I have to do that day – as well as a general time (morning, afternoon) in which I have to get stuff done. The only drawback is that if I don’t get something done on one day, I have to transfer it to the following day…which would be painful except I have a fetish for my own handwriting and adore making lists. Just sayin’…

How do you keep track of daily tasks – do you have a system with which you are similarly obsessed?

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Friday Bites: #3 Establish Your Morning Routine

In this week’s installment of Tsh Oxenreider’s “52 Bites,” I’m hitting week 3, “Establishing Your Morning Routine.” With a 3.5 year old, a 2 month old and a telecommuting spouse who opens up shop anywhere between 4-8am daily, “routine” is a stretch… Mornings are typically chaotic, hectic, and fraught with anxiety. I expect this state can oh be heightened when I go back to work. So, I’m fully on board with this week’s bite!

Oxenreider stresses that you do the essentials first, before beginning your day. Choose five tasks and do them first thing in the morning, in the same order every day. Your list of five tasks should be written down and hung prominently until it becomes a habit.

Here is what I’ll be tackling in the morning:
1. Shower and fully primp – hair, makeup, and non-yoga pant outfit (gotta keep up with these Texan girls)
2. Make and pack kids’ meals for daycare
3. Prepare our grown up breakfasts and lunches (we’re on a diet plan…starting next week…I mean it…)
4. Create and review my to do list for the day
5. Check, respond to, and clear personal email, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc messages

Phew. Mind you, this all must be accomplished by 7am when O wakes up and may possibly have to be done one-handed, while holding H in the other.
Setting the alarm now for 5:30am, ugh…

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So Satisfying

Making my “editorial calendar” for this blog was so satisfying. Nothing better than organizing your information into a game plan.
I really need to get back to work…

Speaking of organizing, came across this great blog post courtesy of Tiny Prints:
http://blog.tinyprints.com/general-information/our-top-10-tips-for-getting-organized-in-the-new-year/

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Friday Bites: Tiny Baby Steps

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Even though I’m tackling all of these OCD projects together in 2012, I still believe in making small, gradual improvements and making these improvements a habit by daily inclusion in my ubiquitous to-do Moleskine. Part of my organization/time-management reading list (full list under “About”) is “One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler” by Tsh Oxenreider. This has more of a home organization vibe, but I’m always looking to make strides in that area – two kids, two pets and a home office can equal chaos if not properly obsessed over. I’ll be making one of these improvements per week, and since we’re already two weeks into January, I’m taking on #1 and #2 together. Here’s what’s on deck for this weekend:

#1. Eat Your Frog.

Oxenreider suggests that you do the worst thing on your plate first thing in the morning. Create your daily to-do list, choose the three most important tasks, pick the worst of the three and that is your frog. Typically this would be my daily checkbook balancing, but since I’m home with H all day, my frog is getting showered and dressed. Seriously, it’s all I can do to not wander around in yoga pants all day, filthy and bleary-eyed. I mean, what’s the point if I’m going to be couch-bound and covered in baby spew all day, right? This problem will clearly take care of itself when I start working and will be forced to look and smell presentable. But, for now, this is my “frog.” Time to suck it up and put on some mascara and gloss.

#2. Make a Debt-Free Plan

52 Bites recommends the snowball method of listing balances smallest to largest – paying them off in that order and then once a bill is paid, putting that monthly payment towards the next in line. Makes sense, F and I will be sitting down to do this today. A weekly marital budget meeting is also in order – I’m thinking Sundays, preferably over mimosas and bloodies.. I can’t talk about money without a cocktail. Right now we just talk finances when things are confused or dire – I’m thinking this commitment to a weekly chat will get us on the same page. OK – money meeting is now in the family calendar.

 

For more information by Tsh Oxenreider, visit www.52bites.com and www.simplemom.net

Babyhacking

Wikipedia defines lifehacking as “productivity tricks that programmers devise and employ to cut through information overload and organize data. Expanded to…anything that solves an everyday problem in a non-obvious way.”

Any good lifehack must begin with data – a problem has to be clearly defined in order to uncover a solution. H, our 8 week old, is starting daycare next month. Before his start date, we need to have him on a somewhat regular schedule of two 2-3 hour naps during the day (morning and mid-afternoon) followed by approximately 10 hours of total sleep overnight. Well, before I can hack the baby, I need to know what – if any – feeding and sleeping schedule he’s on now. So far we’ve just been flying by the seat of our Pampers and letting his rhythms evolve naturally….

So, I started recording babydata in order to analyze and discern a pattern. We’re talking CSI-level stuff here, dear reader. We’re going to get this baby with the program! Ooooh – I bet I can even make some graphs and charts out of this stuff. Good times!

For more info about lifehacking:
www.lifehacking.com
www.lifehack.org

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Make it stop.

There are some caulking (tee hee) issues in the master bath – leading to dampness in the walls and floor/downstairs ceiling. Step one of repair process is to dry it out – so Servpro came by yesterday to place industrial sized fans and dehumidifiers in the bathroom and dining room.

So. Loud.

I feel like I live inside a jet engine and it’s making me super twitchy. Only 3 more days of this to go…

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The Tickler

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Sounds like an item for sale at Babes in Toyland….

However, one of the big take-aways from Getting Things Done, is the importance of establishing a “Tickler File” as an adjunct to your usual filing system. The idea is that anything that you may need to be reminded of at a later date goes into this file. Copies of interesting articles, ideas for future globe hopping vacations, restaurant reviews, etc. Every day (or at least weekly) you are supposed to put the folder in your inbox and go through it – adding any time sensitive information to your daily action item list. It should be kept in your line sight, so it’s not forgotten.

I’m looking at my tickler folder now. So far I’ve added a Rolling Stone article to remind me to buy tix to the RHCP show in Austin if I ever have any spare cash, research regarding putting together a will and getting a health savings account, and a blog posting about how 3.5 year olds are the worst people on the planet (which is absolutely true, by the way) that I plan to pass along to other unfortunate parents of such.

Now there is some controversy in the lifehacking/time management community – over whether the Getting Things Done or the more complicated and time-sensitive “43 Folders” method (1 folder per day of the month = 31 + 1 folder per month of the year = 43 folders) is preferable. At this stage in my game, I’m sticking with the simpler Getting Things Done plan, as I’m not back at work yet and the amount of really time-sensitive information I need to keep on top of mind is limited to home-management type of stuff. I’ve also set up a virtual “tickler file” in my gmail to accomplish the same. I think I’ll migrate to the 43 folders method as I progress through the steps in the book, just because my OCD-ness is drooling over the possibility of having daily and monthly folders in which to file, and check meticulously. Excellent.

Now – the trick is – will I remember to check both my paper and electronic tickler files daily? I guess I’ll have to add this as a recurring item in my “action list.” Sigh. Complicated.

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eBookshelf

Finally got around to organizing the new Kindle now that I’ve transferred all the books from my now defunct original. Labeled my collections and categorized my purchases and subsequently I’m noticing a trend in my reading materials. According to my breakdown by collection, I’m a chubster in need of a job.
All true!
Groundbreaking…

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