Why Friday is the Best Day for Weekly Planning

Productivity experts have been preaching about weekly planning for years. And most of them will tell you to do your planning on Sundays. I used to be one of them.

The thinking was that you should already have your week planned out by Monday. That way, you could wake up and hit the ground running. No time wasted on deciding what to do.

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And it's not a terrible theory. Monday and Tuesday are our most productive days of the week, after all. You don't want to waste them.

But here's why the productivity experts are wrong: Sunday is a terrible planning day.

It is.

First of all, Sundays are on a weekend. We fill our weekends with projects, social engagements and family time. For many of us, it's  also an opportunity to catch up on leisure activities. Not task planning.

Are you a workaholic? For me, Sunday is an opportunity to dig into my business and get a lot done. Why would I block out an hour or two in the middle of this glorious, productive day, to plan my week?

Here's the thing. Planning is REALLY important for success. But we need to do it on a less intrusive day.

Why Friday?

  • It's the least productive day of the week. Turn your unproductive Friday afternoons into productive planning and thinking time!

  • You can schedule your appointments and meetings for the next week ahead of time. People will usually get back to you with confirmation before they leave the office for the day.

  • You can allocate time for your goals. Block this time for deep work and high value projects into your week so you can make solid progress on your goals. Things are bound to pop up, but don't let them distract you from your master plan.

  • Knowing there's a plan for Monday will take away any worries or stress about the next week over the weekend.

  • You can schedule more purposeful leisure time over the weekend.

I urge you to give this a try. Break the Sunday weekly planning cycle and join me in the glory of Friday planning. You're going to love it. 

Talk soon,

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PS- If your week is atypical, Friday may not work for you. I get it. So then, look at your life and determine what your least productive, lowest energy day is, and choose THAT day. That's your planning day. 

PPS- If you DO try it, I would love to hear how it worked for you. Leave a comment below and tell me about it! 

 

Feeling Lost? Here's How to Discover What You Really Want.

A few months back, I launched a primitive version of the 30-Day Goal Crush Challenge. I'm designing it for Team Better Life as a self-guided course with accountability. I knew how to help people achieve their goals, I had modules planned and fancy automations. So I threw it up on social media and a few brave souls signed up.

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It failed miserably. Now, I am saying that with a smile on my face. For entrepreneurs, failure is a good thing. Often the only way to learn is to fail. And, about 2 weeks into the program I had to completely abandon ship.

Here's what I learned.

I had made some basic assumptions when I designed the program that were, just wrong. People who want help achieving their goals

  • sometimes don't know what their goals are.

  • can be confused on the difference between a goal and a project.

  • might completely change their goal after two weeks.

  • think they have a goal but they're really trying to build a habit.

  • try to start the challenge a week late because they forgot about it.

The list goes on. Needless to say, this was all really useful information when I designed the beta version (which will be opening for testing soon!).

Why am I telling you this?

Because a lot of these lessons are based on participants having a clarity problem. I discovered that many people don't know what they want.

They don't have a concrete vision or goal for their future. Often they assign themselves a vague goal but have no real passion behind it.

That lost feeling struck a chord with me. I know what it feels like to be there. This experience has inspired some fabulous future projects for EO, but I wanted to give you some help now.

If you are unsure what you want from life. If you have no idea what your goal is or where you're going, this post is for you. Next time you're feeling uninspired or listless, try one of the following exercises:

1) Write Your Vision For The Future. Visioning is super underrated. It's one of the most effective ways to find your passion.

Your Vision is your picture of what success looks like at a particular point in the future.

To properly craft your vision, you will need to perform the Hot Pen Technique. Take 20-40 minutes and start writing a Vision Statement for your life - but don't stop writing! Write quickly and write from the heart.

Vision Statements should be

  • set in the future, yet stated in the present. It's an affirmation statement.

  • described in enough detail that you'll know when you've arrived there.

  • focused on the end result (the "what" not the "how").

  • unconstrained by what seems possible.

Go for something really great. Get personal. Write a Vision for your future that makes you feel really good.

If you're having trouble with getting started, try outlining your vision statement first. Think of newspaper headlines you can bullet point throughout your vision. Once your outline is intact, develop each point further.

It's not going to be perfect at first, and you might not love everything you come up with in your first draft. That's ok. The point is to give yourself pure writing time. Let your subconscious take over.

When you've finished writing your first draft, take a look at it. Then refine it. Keep editing it until it's complete, compelling, and clear.

When it's ready, hang it up somewhere and start working towards that vision!

For more great resources on visioning, check out these free workshops.

2) Make a List of 100 Dreams. Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a career coach, uses this exercise with her university students. Basically, you create a completely unedited list of anything you might want to do or have more of in your life. It's like a long bucket list.

This is another Hot Pen method - don't stop writing until you hit 100! By committing to 100 items, you'll reveal your most unbiased dreams. Write without judgment. Just let it flow.

Once you have your complete list, take a look at it. Everything that is easy, cheap, or free should be done immediately. Do you want to start keeping fresh flowers in your office? What about hanging that photo you've had leaning against the wall for 5 years? If it takes less than 15 minutes, do it. Make it happen.

Then pick a couple of the remaining items and start laying the foundation for achieving them. The bigger the dream the more satisfying the reward!

3) Go back to your childhood. Most people who do what they love can follow a thread all the way back to when they were kids. The activities you enjoyed doing when you were young are clues to what will make you happy as an adult.

Take up a lost hobby or try a new twist on an old past time. Talk to people who knew you young and ask them what they remember you doing. Consider it your own personal research project.

Finding your purpose and gaining clarity on who you are and what you want can be some of the most important work you do. Take your time and enjoy the process of discovery. You might not find your end game with the first exercise, but that's normal.

Your life's mission unveils itself in layers. The key is to start peeling them back. Sometimes you have to fail a lot to find your direction. That's okay.

Embrace the journey. Everything will come together in time.

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How to Plan for Better Down Time

"American Adults watch an average of five hours and four minutes of tv a day". As I read that sentence, my heart aches a little.

It's not that I don't love a good Netflix binge or movie night. As a natural homebody, I am as inclined as anyone else to snuggle up on the couch and stream. But I know that tv time is not really helping me relax.

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Despite an average of 5 hours a day in front of the tv, Americans feel like they're not getting any downtime.

Because they're not.

Humans need time to recover from their hectic, over-scheduled lives.  People think they're relaxing in front of the tv, but they're just passing time.

Here's why I'm reducing my tv intake this year:

1) It's Passive Time NOT Leisure Time. Basically, it's wasted time. You'll never get those hours back and most of what we watch is not touching us on some personal level.

Let's define what Leisure Time IS. It has two main components:

  • It is something you undertake for its own sake.

  • It is active, requiring our full skill and attention.

Learning French or playing basketball are leisure activities. To get better at them, you have to actively engage in the activity. And that immersion is what causes you to truly relax and let go of your other worries. Challenging hobbies recharge us and reduce our levels of exhaustion.

2) It's bad for your relationships. You can't bond and connect with other humans when everyone is staring at the tube. This is not quality time. Instead of zoning out in front of the tv, try playing a board game or having a 10-minute chat before bed.

Look for ways for you and your partner to learn together, converse and laugh together. Don't waste precious hours with those you love staring at the tv. Have a weekly martini-making contest or take a class together. Instead of sitting down after dinner, tackle the dishes together and then walk the dog.

Consider lingering over the table after a meal with a nightcap. Stay a while. Enjoy each other's company.

3) Watching TV doesn't help me achieve any of my goals. I want to do many things in my lifetime, and watching television is not in service of any of them. My time is valuable and my goals are my number one priority. Letting go of what distracts from my big dreams can be freeing.

4) There are actually other things you can do in your off time besides watch tv. Just THINK about all the stuff you would do if you had an extra 5 hours a day. Replace your tv time with THAT.

It may sound counter-intuitive coming from a productivity expert, but downtime is key. You need to rest and recharge. Embracing the lost art of leisure actually allows us to live more purposefully.

This is an investment in your quality of life. You'll do better work because you're actually re-charging and you'll add peace to your day.

How?

Start to savor the moment. Schedule your leisure activities with intention and then fully immerse yourself in them. Whether it's reading a book for 30 minutes before bed, or savoring a screen-free cup of coffee in the morning. Take a quiet stroll after dinner. It's important to live in the moment and unwind with purpose.

Also, stop over-booking your social engagements. If you're always running to the next dinner or party, when are you savoring the simple things? When are you getting your downtime?

I know this can be a difficult shift to make because it's not our natural inclination to seek leisure. But limiting our hours wasted (in front of the tv, or otherwise) will increase our happiness.

And increasing happiness is a very good use of your time.

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How to Conquer Big Habits by Starting Small

We're two weeks into 2018, and by now, most people have already failed at their New Year's Resolutions.

Are you in this boat? Are you frustrated because you thought this year would be different? Instead of packing mason jar salads in your lunch, you've gone back to grabbing takeout. Or, you thought you'd keep the house clean but now the dishes and laundry are starting to pile up again.

Why does this happen?

Because most humans bite off more than they can chew, right off the bat. And if you push yourself too hard too fast, you're guaranteed to fail.

But I'm here to give you a bit of good news!

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You can still achieve your resolutions this year. Really! Change up your game plan to ramp up to your goal gradually. By taking small steps and being honest with yourself, you can get where you want to be.

Let's say you want to get in shape for 2018. Ask yourself, what is my CURRENT fitness level? Often, people who resolve to get in shape are not very active. It's important to know where you are now, so you can come up with a realistic plan of attack.

If walking to your car in the morning is the most activity you do all day, you need to lower your expectations. Trying to commit to a 45-day HIIT program right out the gate is a recipe for failure. Avoid burnout by setting a lower target. A better plan would look like this:

  • Week 1 - Do 20 Minutes of Physical Activity 3x weekly (any activity)

  • Week 2 - Do 20 Minutes of Physical Activity 5x weekly (any activity)

  • Weeks 3 & 4 - Do 20 minutes of Physical Activity daily (any activity)

  • Weeks 5 & 6 - Do 30 minutes of Physical Activity daily (any activity)

At this point, you're starting to get used to being more active. Now it's time to slowly introduce the program you really want to tackle to reach your goal. If you've been doing yoga this whole time, start to mix in new exercises a few times a week. Keep ramping up until you are ready to commit to that HIIT program.

It might take you a few months to get there, that's ok. It's not a race. The point is to GET THERE. And taking 3 months to work up to it is better than binging and burning out in 2 weeks. Lasting change takes time and it's ok to look at your goals as a daily work in progress.

This ramp up principal works for any habit or major life change you're trying to create for yourself. Rome wasn't built in a day. Give yourself a fighting chance at success by methodically working towards it.

For more info about how to build new habits, check out my Free Habit Creation Guide!

Now, get back out there! Tackle those resolutions one more time. Make 2018 your best year yet!

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Why You Need to Make an Entertaining Playbook Right Now

In January, Mike and I were snowshoeing through the breath-taking landscape of Interlaken, Switzerland. Our first night in town, we went sledding down a pitch black mountain in the middle of the night. We were wearing all the layers we had, it was so cold! But the beauty above us made the adventure worth the chill. The stars sparkled like confetti.

We slowly made our way down, spotting sharp curves and steep cliffs as we went. After an hour, we arrived at the base of the mountain and wandered into a tiny bar.

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They served us piping hot cheese fondue and local beer by the pitcher. We dined at a table with 8 strangers who didn't speak the same language, but that didn't matter. We all laughed and drank together well into the night. 

Now whenever someone serves me a beer, I think about that tiny shack in the middle of the mountains. It's light that glowed for miles amidst the dark, snowy mountainscape. And the warmth and happiness we felt as we dined there. 

Those feelings are exactly what I try to create for my guests when I entertain. Hosting, for us, is about gathering together and enjoying each other's company. 
 

Now, entertaining means different things to different people. But whatever it means for you, the best way to achieve it is to create your own Entertaining Playbook. Consider it your secret weapon for achieving your entertaining goals.

Everything I do when I entertain is intentional. I have a playbook in my head of how to achieve my wins and I follow it religiously. It contains the following golden nuggets:

1) A Pre-Arrival Cleaning Check List

This can vary a little depending on guests and party type, but a few rules always ring true:

  • Having a clean home is actually more important than having a perfectly decorated one. If you have dirty floors or dusty furniture, people won't feel very relaxed.
  • The bathroom must always be spotless. It's the one place your guests are alone, so make sure it is in ship shape! Read more about how to always keep your house clean here. 
  • If you are having babies or young children over, pay extra attention to floors. Also, look for anything that needs to be child-proofed for safety. 
  • Avoid clutter at all costs. It makes people feel crowded. Think clean, clear counter tops and make sure everything has a proper place to live. 


2) A System for Greeting Guests. 

Mike does most of the heavy lifting as guests arrive. I'm usually wrapping things up in the kitchen when they start pouring in the front door, so Mike answers it. He collects coats and gets everyone situated with drinks. He's awesome at it and this takes a lot of pressure off me. The key things to remember for when your guests first arrive:

  • Greet them with a smile and a kind word
  • Take their coats and show them where they can set their purses and other belongings down
  • Give them something to drink. Immediately!

This stuff is really simple but it makes a big difference. It's important that one person has these duties and does them well because it sets the tone for the rest of the event. 

I am always amazed at how often I arrive at someone's home and 20 minutes later I'm still standing there in my coat. Or wondering if it would be rude to ask for a glass of water because they never offered me a drink. 

Anyway, to make drinks easy, try having a bottle of wine or signature drink out and ready for pouring.

3) Guidelines for Creating the Ultimate Ambiance 

I could go on about ambiance for days, but I'll try to keep it brief here. When it comes to designing your party environment,  consider:

What does winning at entertaining look like for you?

To me, winning is when my guests are so happy and relaxed that they feel at home. 

For example, recently I invited some close friends over for dinner and a movie. We noshed on appetizers and had a simple dinner with tasty wine. Then I shooed them down to the family room to pick a movie while I finished up dishes. At the moment I turned the corner to join them in the family room, I saw that everyone was horizontal.

 Literally. 

They're all lounging comfortably on the couches, snuggled under hand-knit blankets. As I watched them sipping wine and laughing among themselves, my heart swelled a little. I did it! I made them feel at home. 

To achieve my ideal environment, I focus on warmth and comfort. There are candles lit in every single room a guest might wander into. (Seriously, so many candles! I'm pretty sure my in-laws think I'm a giant fire hazard.)

There's always a tabletop fireplace burning in the living room. It doesn't give off much heat so it creates the warmth visual all year long. If it's winter, I also light the big fireplace downstairs so guests can enjoy its cozy crackle. 

I also have countless blankets and pillows available. My favorite blankets are the ones I knit because they have a lovely weight to them. When you snuggle under one, they feel like a hug. 

Music.

I have sort of a weird approach to music. I don't like to pick a generic dinner party playlist. I choose music based on guests and occasion. 

If we're having a birthday party for someone, I like to play a mix of their favorite artists all day. It makes them feel super comfortable and they, of course, will immediately love it. You get extra points if you catch them humming a favorite when they think no one is paying attention. 

You can never go wrong with themed music for themed events. Bachata for a Cinco de Mayo party. Horror movie soundtracks for a Halloween Movie Night. You get the idea. 

Soundtracks are actually an amazing source for party music. They naturally strike feelings and emotions in the listener. Because they were written and composed for that exact purpose. 

It really works. Next time you're planning a romantic dinner, try sourcing music from movie scores. The more romantic the scene of the movie, the better. 

Consider alternatives to the basic playlist too. My husband has a massive record collection, so sometimes we'll fire up his turntable. We take turns pulling albums from a display and playing tracks while we eat. 

Norah Jones actually has a piano in her kitchen so she can play whenever the mood strikes her. It's my dream to have a piano for my guests and myself to play during a party. So far, my hubs isn't convinced the piano will fit in the house... (#lifegoals)  

Decor.

It's become more about ambiance and less about the show, for me. My approach at this point is playing with what you have and don't over think it. I try to arrange candles in different ways or dig things I haven't used in a while out of storage. As long as your keeping up with your seasonal decorating, there's really no need to go crazy with party decor. 

Setting the Table.

I always have a set table with polished silverware, and tall glasses filled with water. 

Polishing the silverware. Ok, so that might sound snobby, but it's not. Silverware falls under the category of "stuff guests physically interact with". It's part of their tactile experience, as are the wine glasses they drink from and the napkins on their laps

When you're buying items for your table, always spend more on things in that category. Silverware should have a nice weight to it. Glasses should have beautiful curves and cuts. Mix colors and textures to add interest. Buy a couple sets of quality cloth napkins. You can cut costs on plates, and plain white dinnerware is the best way to showcase your food. 

The water thing comes from my bartending days, when I learned that people can never have too much water. Like ever. Make sure you're getting up a couple times during the meal to refresh drinks and refill waters too. 

4) Good To Know Tips for Food & Drinks

Wine.

I do try to pair food and wine as best I can. I think it elevates the guest experience when flavors come together well. The easiest way to find a great pairing is to:

  • Serve the wine you're cooking with. 
  • Serve "like with like." For example, if you're cooking a recipe that comes from the Burgundy region of France, like Coq Au Vin. The wines from that area will be natural partners to the dish. 
  • Serve wine you love to drink.

Wine always tastes better with air. It's not unusual for me to decant a bottle or two a couple hours in advance of the party so the wines have time to relax. You want your guests to enjoy the full potentiality of the wine, so don't be shy about opening early.

If you're serving a new signature cocktail, it's always best to do a dry run a couple days before. Practice makes perfect! Also, it's easier to serve cocktails to crowds if you have the liquors and mixers already in a pitcher. Then all you have to do is shake or pour over ice as the drink requests roll in. 

Never underestimate the power of a drink garnish. Even if it's a little wedge of citrus on a water glass or a sliced strawberry on the side of a flute of champagne. Small stuff like that packs a punch for your guests. It reflects care and attention to detail.

What if you're serving craft beers and high-end wines, but you have one friend who likes a cheap domestic brew? 

Buy them the cheap beer. The point is to make your guests comfortable and to make sure they have a good time. Don't try to force your advanced beer knowledge on them. Some people like what they like. Just go with it. 

Along with that, let's talk food. 

When it comes to food, KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. A fancy dinner is not going to impress a table full of picky eaters. (Ask me how I know!)

Sometimes, as a foodie, I can get a little overzealous about the menu. It's just so much fun to try new recipes! But if no one will eat your fabulous meal, you've missed the mark. 

We all want to impress a little when we entertain, I get it. But forcing people out of their comfort zones is not going to score you any points. In fact, it could cause them to reject future invitations. 

Which brings us to the most important food rule: your guests should NEVER go home hungry. Ever. You want to make sure there is more than enough for everyone to eat. Leftovers aren't going to kill you. 

Also, always set your coffee pot up ahead of time so you can start it as soon as the meal finishes. 

5) Tiny personal touches. 

This is my favorite! A couple weeks back, I mentioned that I keep files about my loved one's preferences and allergies. This really helps with creating little personal touches when you host parties. 

I enjoy finding unique ways to make my guests feel warm, welcome and comfortable. And I try to find fun gestures to express just how happy we are that they've come to spend time with us.  

For example, I placed a 6 pack of an uncle's favorite beer next to his recliner when I hosted the Super Bowl this year. It was cold and waiting for him and he thought it was the best thing ever. 

Little things like that go a long way. 

Another thing I like to do is cut down on the chaos around the table. I always make sure everyone has their own individual dish of butter. This prevents conversation disruption. No one has to ask for anything they need to be passed to them.  

People love having their own mini anything. Individual wine decanters were another hit.  Once, I even served everyone their own individual cheese plates on tiny granite slabs. 

Be creative and have fun with it. Little delights make your parties memorable and they boost guest enjoyment. 

So now that you've had a peek at my playbook, it's your turn to put together an Entertaining Playbook!

If you have any fun tips or tricks, make sure you share them on our Facebook page. I always love learning new ways to dazzle people!

Cheers,

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7 Quick Organizing Projects that will Make You Better at Life

A few weeks ago, I unleashed a beast. The library debuted its first digital template: the Household Manager Notebook. And, it is seriously changing lives. 

This is the perfect start to creating your digital brain (more on that here). And it will actually make your life easier. All you have to do is fill it in. 

There are countless projects inside, of course, but I thought we'd keep it simple today. I will highlight 7 of my favorite projects you can do inside the HHMN. 

I chose them based on optimization. They'll give you an organization boost in fairly little time. And you'll reference them again and again in the coming months.

So, let's get to started! First on the list:

1) Record Your Family Medical Histories. 

If you don't already have some sort of document to track each family member's health history, you need to do this now. And if you do, make it digital and sharable by keying it into the HHMN! 

This is for yourself and any immediate family members/pets living in your household. It's endlessly useful to have key health information on hand when you're out and about. 

The purpose of this is to have access to ACCURATE and COMPLETE records at all times. You can answer a question at the pharmacy and compare notes with your doctors. You can use it to fill out school forms and sports releases on the fly. In case of emergency, you can email a copy of your kid's medical history to a college roommate or a spouse. The uses for this are never-ending. 

Not sure where to start? That section of the notebook has a template ready to go. 

2) Update Your Contacts

The HHMN includes an address book section. But it's so much more than that! You can segment your contacts, like a traditional address book, but you can also keep notes on people. 

For example, this is a great place to keep notes on all those tiny weird things you learn about the humans in your life. Things like, Aunt Sally's favorite beer is X. Or Jimmy is allergic to strawberries. Maybe you want to record your Aunt's favorite color or your Dad's favorite rock artist from the 70s. 

Right now, you may be wondering, "Katie, why are you telling me to keep files on people?"

Because it will make you a better host/friend/co-pilot. Your brain is not a storage container and it can be hard to keep up with everyone's preferences. But if you have a place where you keep note of these items, you can do a quick review before you buy their next gift. Use it to design the menu for your next gathering or sneak a fun personal touch if you're hosting out of town guests. 

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This will prevent disasters. Like that time I bought one of my closest friends post earrings for her birthday. Who doesn't have pierced ears...

I also allows me to have a 6 pack of an uncle's favorite beer on ice next to his recliner when I host the Super Bowl. It's the reason I never gift my sister-in-law mixed nuts (anymore). 

You get the idea. Having these reminders in a little file makes things easier. 

And while you're in there updating names and addresses, make sure you fill in the mailing list section. This is your holiday card/wedding guest list/shower invitation spreadsheet. Now you know how many cards/invitations you need. And you can print the labels straight from the spreadsheet. 

3) Make Your Home Inventory

Whether you rent or own, your insurance will need a home inventory in case of disaster. Whether your roof gets ripped off by a tornado, or you're the victim of a robbery, it's best to be prepared. 

And it will make replacing these items a heck of a lot easier. We have a spreadsheet ready for you to fill in to make it simple. This should be updated twice a year. 

4) Make a Light Bulb Key

While you're running around your house taking inventory, fill in the light bulb key form. 

May you never go to the hardware store and feel defeated by the giant selection of light bulbs again. Never! You'll always know what you need with this key. 

5) Tackle Home Maintenance

Inside the HHMN, we have included recommended seasonal checklists. You can delete and add to them as you wish, they're fully customizable. 

Use this resource when you do your monthly and weekly planning so you can tackle this stuff in waves. 

6) Create a Password Keeper

This is one of those items everyone should have and most people don't. If you have ever felt the frustration of having to reset your password when you're in a hurry, you get why you need this. 

Fill it in. Don't worry if you can't get it all filled in one day, keep adding to it every time you log into a new site. Eventually, it will be complete. 

Make sure you share this with your partner/spouse so you both have the access information. You'll never have to interrupt each other at work when you're trying to take care of business again!

This will also allow you to easily change your passwords every month. Yay, security!

7) Create a Vehicle Maintenance Log

Car owners know how important maintaining their vehicle is, but many don't keep a log. Keeping track of your maintenance keeps your warranty valid. Even if you do your own oil changes, you should be able to show proof you bought the oil.

Track repairs so you can have an accurate record and plan for the future. Log expenses so you know what things will cost you. 

And scan your receipts (they're pretty much your warranty on parts). If something doesn't last as long as promised, you can get a free replacement or recoup some of your initial cost. 

We also have a spot for you to record mileage and general vehicle info in this section. 

So there you have it! Ready to get started?


Happy organizing!

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What You Need to Know to Be Awesome at Fall

The nostalgia of Fall is never lost on me. Each year, I giddily pick apples and hike through forests of changing leaves. I buy new office supplies and refresh my workspace. I embrace the chill in the air with a cute coat and a cup of hot cider. And I eat s'mores. Like, crazy amounts of s'mores. 

Of course, the best way to conquer fall is to plan for it.

I can make anything about planning, lol. Anything. 

But it's true! If you're not proactively scheduling ways to enjoy this season and prepare for the next, you won't do much.

Here are 7 things you need to do to be awesome at fall:

1) Clean and Maintain your Home. 

Every month, I publish a new list of things to do to clean and maintain your home for that time of the year. You can find it in the library! 

2) Make Your Fall Bucket List

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Decide how you want to spend your time this season and put it on a bucket list! Use it when you do your weekly planning to help balance all your hard work with a little seasonal joy.


3) Schedule Some Fall Fun!

Find ideas for things to do to enjoy this month (big and small) here.  You need to choose your fun and schedule it in so the days don't pass you by. Remember, if it's not on the schedule, it doesn't get done!

4) Change Up your Recipes

For me, fall is the season of slow cooker dinners and afternoons making a perfect apple pie. Dig out your favorite fall recipes or check out my Fall Recipes Pinterest board for new ideas! 

5) Decorate Your Home

You need to freshen your environment a bit to make it really feel like Fall. Looking for inspiration? Check out my Fall Decor Ideas board on Pinterest!

6) Host a Fall Gathering

Whether it's a football tailgate, a backyard bonfire, or a fall dinner al fresco, get it done! It doesn't have to be anything big, but you need to try to bring people together to enjoy the moment. Looking for tips on how to be a good host? I'll give you a sneak peek into my entertaining playbook on the blog in a couple weeks. 

7) Prepare for the Holiday Season

I know I'm going to get some flack for this, but you should really be preparing for the holidays now. See the replay of my 10 Clever Ways to Get Ahead of the Holidays here!

Ok, you're ready! I'd love to see how you used this guide to conquer the season. Post a photo of how you were awesome at fall this year (and tag me!) on Instagram

Happy Fall!
 

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How to Be the Most Productive Person in the World

Getting things done (GTD) is really all about logistics.

You have a concrete number of hours in your day and how you choose to spend that time determines how you GTD. Sounds simple, right?

Not for most people. Did you know that 89% of people do not finish their daily to-do lists? It's true!

how to be the most productive person in the world.jpg

You can't make a to-do list and expect to crush the day, because, there's a lot more going on in your life than just your list.  You have countless facets of your day to manage, and a list doesn't get you very far in achieving anything. 

So, what's a busy gal to do? How do you conquer your list each day?

It all comes down to your schedule.  

Your schedule is the nexus of planning and information. It's how you do everything: your activities, meetings, events, travel, etc. 

Without your schedule, you're toast. 

It's not enough to create a to-do list.  Because, if it's not on your calendar, it's not to getting done.  You need to have your actionable tasks on your schedule.  

The most productive people in the world have schedules, not to do lists - for this exact reason!

This is why the EO Daily To-Do List has your schedule down one column and space for tasks in the column alongside it.  You have to decide what you're doing and when you're going to do it. 

That's easy enough.  But there's more! 

There's a hidden benefit to this approach because it forces you to realize your limits. It's pretty hard to have an overflowing to-do list once you run out of room on your schedule. You have to decide what to do now and what to do later. 

Which brings us to the next phase in becoming the most productive person in the world: rank your to-dos. It's not just about what's important. You have to focus on what will give you the most forward motion towards your goals

Enter the Task Priority Matrix. 

This magical worksheet will take your productivity to the next level. It forces you to make all the decisions to determine your next most important tasks (MIT). And when you're done filling it in, you have a visual representation of where everything falls into the mix. 

Basically, it's the gatekeeper.

And every schedule needs a sentinel. Nothing goes on the calendar until it's made its way through the Task Priority Matrix. Not a thing. 

See, your time is your most precious resource. If you are not using it to your greatest advantage, you're wasting it. 

The Task Priority Matrix is your benchmark for success. Use it to plan your days and weeks. Every time you cross something off, you'll be able to move something else into its place. 

Now, you may be thinking, "not everything will fit on my Task Priority Matrix." You probably have many running lists of items to take care of and, it's true, they won't all fit. And you DO still need these lists. What do you do with them? 

You put them in your digital brain. 

For those of you not familiar with the concept, the digital brain is your second brain. 

Basically, your real-life brain is not a storage device. It was never meant to be. Having endless things to remember is not healthy for it. And we have more information coming at us all the time. 

You need to create a digital database where you can store the information you have to retrieve "someday." 

There are many program options to use for your digital brain, but we recommend OneNote. I have made a starter version of this digital brain in the Library

It's called the Household Manager Notebook. And it's awesome!

I included pre-populated forms and checklists to get you started. And the best part is, you can completely customize it according to your needs. 

This is also where you keep sets of running lists. 

Came across a travel article for a trip you want to take recently? Put it on your running list of travel research articles. Need to access prescription information for your dog on the fly? Access it in their digital medical records. Have a list of home maintenance projects to attend to? Put it on the list!

I know. It's amazing. 

Now that you have your 3 tools for success, we need to put this all together into a system.

Here's what you need to do.

1) Update your Household Manager Notebook in real-time. 

Every time something comes up that you need to store/remember/come back to, pop it in the HHMN.

2) Update Your Priority Matrix and Plan Your Week

I do this every Sunday. As I fill in my TPM, I reference lists and reminders inside my HHMN. Catch the workshop replay on Boosting Your Productivity with Weekly Planning here.

3) Fill in the EO Daily Agenda each day according to your weekly plan. Effectively scheduling your tasks!

That's it. Now you know the secrets to being the most productive person in the world!

go forth and conquer life!

xo Katie.jpg

PS- Imagine how amazing the world would be if we all got better at accomplishing our goals. If you know anyone who needs help being more productive, share this post!

 

Why Having a Gift Stash is the Best Idea Ever

Life is full of unexpected celebrations.

Your friends just announced their engagement(!) or your brother invited you over for dinner at the last minute. This is so fun and you're really looking forward to seeing them!

And then you realize it. You need to rush out and get the perfect gift for the occassion. Like, now!

I figured out the benefits of a gift closet in my 20s and I never looked back. Let me explain.

When I was 21, I taught myself how to knit. It's one of those things you either love or hate when you try it, and I knew 15 minutes in my life was changed forever. I had caught the knitting bug and I was eager to flex my new skills. 

A few weeks later, I discovered a friend of mine was pregnant. I was gleeful! I immediately began knitting a big, sunny yellow baby blanket for the mum-to-be. When I presented it to her, she was so touched by this homemade gift, she cried. 

I believed I had finally found my calling in life. Knitters love to surround our loved ones in hand-knits. This was bliss.

Soon, requests starting rolling in. My brother wants an afghan, Mike needs a hat. Beer cozies for my sister who's away at college, and an ear flap hat with snowflakes to keep her warm. 

Then 3 more people got pregnant. In a short time, my knitting queue was packed to the gills and my fingers were on fire. 

Why Having a Gift Stash is the Best Idea Ever

Under extreme duress, I went to my knitting guild meeting, where a sage knitter gave me the answers I needed. She told me I had to knit for babies when no one is pregnant and create a stash. Then, when someone was pregnant, I could have booties and a blanket at the ready. 

You could have knocked me over with a feather! It was so simple. Why hadn't this occurred to me?

And so, the gift closet was born. 

Not a "re-gift" closet. An actual gift closet where I keep baby knits, engagement presents, hostess gifts, etc. 

Preparing ahead of time has allowed me to give meaningful, beautifully wrapped presents. No notice necessary.  Now, I am always ready for life's next big surprise. 

Ready to create your own gift stash?

Step 1: Find your Signature Gifts and Stock Up! 

I have favorite gifts that I like to give for most special moments in life. Choose your perfect gifts for each occasion and buy a few of each. Three to five for each type is a good amount for me. 

I recommend taking time to think about what you want your signature gifts to be. Maybe it's a perfect ring holder to keep the bride-to-be's ring safe by her sink. Or it could be that one baby item no mom can live without. A fab designer candle makes a beautiful host offering. And don't forget a bottle of vintage champagne for your favorite couple's anniversary!

If you're looking for ideas, check out my picks for engagement, pregnancy, housewarming, and hostess: 

Step 2: Wrap and Label all the gifts!

Try not to get too hung up on the wrapping paper matching the occasion. I recommend buying rolls of metallic gold and silver to wrap everything with. Don't forget coordinating bows, ribbons, and gift tags! Make sure you label everything well ( I stick a post it on the bottom) so you don't forget which gift is which. 

Store your gift stash somewhere easily accessible as you're walking out the door. And don't forget to grab a card from your greeting card box while you're at it! You could even store them next to each other for optimal convenience. 

Do you have a perfect signature gift? Share it with us in the Facebook group!

Happy gifting!

xo Katie

How to Tame Your Crazy To-Do List For Good

We don't actually have 24 hours in a day. 

I mean, technically speaking, we do. But from a productivity standpoint, most of those hours are already allotted before we open our eyes. When I wake up, I already have a full schedule of things I have to do.  

On an average weekday, my timeline looks like this:

12:00 am - 5:00 am: Sleep

5:00 am - 6:00 am:  Morning Routine

6:00 am - 7:00 am:  Commute to Job

7:00 am - 4:00 pm:  Work 

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm:  Commute Home

5:00 pm - 6:15 pm:  After Work Routine 

6:15 pm - 10:15 pm: Tackle To Do List

10:15 pm - 11:00 pm: Before Bed Routine

11:00 pm - 11:59 am:  Sleep

When you account for all these time constraints, I have 4 hours to get anything important done. Less if I need to squeeze in a work out or get some down time. 

Because those precious 4 hours fall at the end of my day, my productivity is dependent on how I'm feeling. Often, by the time I've washed the last dish, set the coffee pot, and packed my lunch, I'm pretty spent. 

So. 4 tired hours. That's what I have to work with. 

Know Your Limits.

Half of winning the "get sh*t done" battle is understanding your real life vs your ideal life. It doesn't matter how ambitiously you assign your tasks for the week. If you don't have the time or energy to execute your plan, it's not a good plan.

It's also important to recognize your productivity ZERO days. We all know these days. For example, if you know you often get held late at work on Monday, address that in your weekly plan. You might have an appointment every Tuesday that just drains you. Or your kid's soccer meet always goes into overtime. Recognize these days and plan accordingly.

Some days, you might not get ANYTHING done. And the sooner you accept that, the more successful you will be at knocking out your to do list.  The more realistic your to do list is, the better your chances of executing it. Period. 

It all comes back to planning for your actual energy levels. Your obligations,  appointments, and schedule affect your productivity.

Learn how to manage the humans in your life.

tame your crazy to do list for good

This is something we don't talk about enough. The people in your life can wreak total havoc on your to do list. It is always so frustrating to read blog posts about productivity that talk about how you have to say "no" more.

As if it's that simple, right? Your kid walks up to you the night before their paper is due (that you didn't even know existed) asking for help. And you're supposed to say "no". It's not realistic. Frankly, it's insulting to say that you're failing at your goals because you don't say "no" enough.

Now, I am not saying you should say "yes" to everything. Of course, if you have a big goal, you want to cut your other commitments. But, you need to figure out how to efficiently manage how others will impact your goals.

Not sure where to start with this? Read this post on how I check in with my husband every week. 

Scheduling your tasks according to your real life is the best thing you could ever do for your goals. It's the difference between being a planner and a goal crusher. And we can all use a reality check, now and again, right?

Use Your Planner. EVERY DAY.

One of the main reasons people fail to check off their to dos, is that they're not looking at their list. We've all struggled with this. You planned your perfect day and then never bothered to actually look at your planner.

It should be something you reference often throughout the day. If you have a digital to do list, schedule notifications to ensure you're keeping up with it. And if you're using a paper planner, you need to create a habit of always referencing it and leaving it open for you to see. Need help remembering to use it? Read this post on creating a habit!

How are you spending your precious time?

When you have so little of each day for yourself, it becomes even more important to spend that time well. Rank your to do list to crush the things that really need doing. 

Checking off a bunch of small items may make you feel more productive in the moment. But, you may wonder why, 6 months later, you never got that book written or that mudroom built. It's because the small stuff distracts us from the big. 

Stay focused. If you have a big goal, you need to hit your targets for that goal before you do anything else each day. 

Trim the Fat.

If you have 20 items on your to do list for any given day, you are setting yourself up for failure. Overachievers are known for this. We are so ambitious we often bite off more than we can chew. It usually results in sinking disappointment. You feel like a failure when you "fail" to check everything off your list. 

To Do List Truth: If you chip away at everything every day, you will take FOREVER to finish ANYTHING. It is better to get one major project done a month than to chip away at 6 projects for 6 months and never finish one. 

I try to focus on a Top 3. Often my to do list only has one item because I theme my days. So, today's list is simply, "Write Blog Posts." That's all I'm accomplishing today. And it's perfect. I am relaxed and focused and getting a lot of writing done. 

The best way to ensure the big stuff gets done is to batch your tasks.

Some people do this by theming the days of the week, so every day is dedicated to a specific kind of work (a great example of this is my cleaning schedule). A typical week might look like this:

This works best for people who do the same type of work each week. Theming doesn't have to be a weekly process. For those whose work is more project based, theme your month instead.

The added benefit to theming your days is that batching your tasks is the most efficient way to get stuff done. It allows you to focus better because you're not switching tasks constantly. You will get more done!

Focus will set you free. 

If you need a little help with figuring out where to focus your energy each week, I made you a worksheet!

Now, it will take time to get used to cutting down your to do list and having one big goal for each day. It can be uncomfortable to not look at everything or to put projects on hold until their designated day. It felt a little scary at first, but it has been a serious game changer. I am completing my to do list every day and it feels great. I'm actually accomplishing more than I was before!

This removes all the pressure of an endless list of things to do and allows me to sink into what really matters. And that's what designing your life is all about. 

Have you tamed your to do list? Tell us how you get stuff done on our Facebook Page!

xo Katie

How to Win at Birthdays (and other occasions too!)

All year long, important dates pepper our lives. Some celebrations are a surprise, such as an engagement or a new baby.  Others, come on the same day each year. But that doesn't mean they don't still sneak up on us sometimes!

How many times have you caught yourself running to the store for a card on your way to a graduation?

Ever paid extra to rush deliver your mother's day flowers? What about the time you raided your "re-gift" stash to find the perfect birthday present?

We need to stop this madness.

It's inefficient, expensive, and stressful. There IS a better way. 

Mission 1:  Escape Hallmark Hell.

Let's tackle the cards. It does not make sense to run out and buy a new card every time an occasion pops up. It's a waste of your valuable time to drive to the store 45 different times each year to buy 1 card at a time.

It also causes unnecessary pressure to find the PERFECT CARD in TEN MINUTES because you are LATE

Stop the insanity. 

YOUR PLAN OF ATTACK:

Buy all your greeting cards for the entire year at once.

You may be thinking, "that's ridiculous!" or "how can I choose the right card message for a birthday that's 6 months away?"

Stay with me. 

You're going to buy BLANK birthday cards. Tally the number of birthdays you have for the year and divide them into male and female. Then buy the appropriate number of cards for each group. 

how to win at birthdays

Blank is the perfect solution because then you can write a personal greeting in every card. The penned message will always be a perfect fit for your recipient!

It gets better. You don't even have to go to the store!!! Buy your cards online. If you're not sure who to buy from, start here:

For feminine birthday cards, I highly recommend PAPAYA ART. For masculine birthday cards (and cards for kids), check out LAGOM DESIGN

Once you have your birthday cards in your cart, don't check out! You're not done yet. It's time to go back and grab cards for the rest of your yearly occasions. :)

Have any anniversaries on the calendar? Pick up the cards now! Is someone graduating this year? Know any children celebrating religious milestones? Do you need cards from the tooth fairy? Do you send valentines? Get all those cards too!

What about preparing for the unexpected? I try to keep each of the following card types in my card file: 

  • Engagement
  • Condolence
  • Congratulations
  • Wedding
  • Thinking of You
  • Get Well
  • New Baby

5 each is a good number to keep on hand. This is also a great time to replenish your stock of thank you notes and personal stationary.

When you have purchased all the cards you will EVER need for the year, it's time to figure out a storage solution. I use an inexpensive office box (mine is from Ikea) with paper dividers I made to separate the different types of cards. 

Next, find your card box a home somewhere in your office. And don't forget to give the humans in your house a tour of the new card file system!

On a personal note, my husband loves this card box as much as I do. He knows we've got cards covered and he can always find one when he needs it. #winning

Mission 2: Break the cycle of last minute rushing around.

It can be really frustrating to have extra things thrown at your already heavy to do lists each day. And you shouldn't have to sprint through choosing a thoughtful gift or filling in cards. Schedule time each month to care for these items properly.

YOUR PLAN OF ATTACK:

Manage all Occasions 1 Month Ahead

Buy gifts, wrap them, fill out cards, place your order for flowers, make dinner reservations... Everything you need to do for every occasion gets done the month before.

The only thing you should be doing in the current month is confirming any reservations you made. 

To make this work, I keep a list of occasions for the current month and next month on a page in my planner. The lists include check boxes for everything that needs to be done for each important date (i.e. drop gift in the mail). 

Once a month, I complete and check off every task on the monthly occasion list.

It's that easy. So, are you ready to get all the special moments life brings you under control? I created a game plan worksheet in The Library.

It takes some time to collect dates and format them into monthly sheets. But you only have to do it once. When it's finished, you are set for life (save for a yearly review). You'll never forget an occasion or go through the stress of a last minute scramble for a gift or card again. 

This has the added bonus of making you appear super thoughtful and organized to your loved ones. Especially when you ask someone 6 weeks before their birthday if they have a gift list!

Have you tamed the birthday monster? Share your success on our Facebook Page!

xo Katie

The #1 Thing That Will Make You Have a Happier Marriage

All households come with responsibilities. It's the nature of the beast.

For the sake of efficiency, couples tend to divide these responsibilities by type of task. For example, grocery shopping, cleaning, and yard maintenance are all types of tasks. It makes the most sense to have one person in charge of a certain thing than to have many people doing everything. 

But here's where things go off course. You're sacrificing your ability to function as a team by splitting tasks this way. 

For example, when you have one person in charge of groceries, no one else gets much of a say in what the family eats. 

There is also an issue with communication when items are so divided.

Who here has texted or called their partner at work to ask them a trivial household question? 

I am SO guilty of this!

"Do you need anything from the store?"
"Where is the black flashlight?"
"Do you like these end tables?"

It's bad form to interrupt your partner's work day with questions that can wait until later. But if you don't ask, they don't get opportunities to give input.

This begs the question, if marriage is all about teamwork, how can we bring in the team on these individual tasks?

How can I make sure my husband is eating the dinners he likes? How can he get more involved in our house projects?

And, more importantly, how can we do this efficiently?

Partner Weekly Check In

It is with all this in mind, that I designed our Weekly Partner Check In system. 

It started with the worksheet. I made a printable for us to fill in every week.

It includes the following sections:

  • Requests for the Chef (meal suggestions)
  • Expense Tracking (records weekly household expenses)
  • News
  • General Household Business (i.e. Where's the Netflix dvd?)
  • Upcoming Projects
  • Notes Spaces for each member of our household (for love notes and pertinent info)
  • Q&A Space (i.e. How should we spend date night Friday? Do you need anything from the store? Do you need any special support from me this week?)

It's important to note that we both fill in sections of the page.

Two-way communication is key.

Next, I created recurring tasks in my planner to fill out the sheet and deliver it to my husband. 

Here's how it works: 

I carry the sheet with me all week and add to it whenever something pops into my head. I try to have my half filled in by Friday. On Saturday, I deliver it to my husband with his morning coffee. He fills it in before dinner that night and we go over anything that needs more follow up together while we eat. 

At first, I wasn't sure how my check in worksheet would go over with my husband. I delivered it with a big kiss and a brief explanation about how I wanted us to communicate about household business more. To my great delight, he fills it in every Saturday. 

#1 way to have a happier marriage

It's success stems from the fact that checking in tells your partner you care. When I hand him this sheet, I'm letting him know his opinions are important to me. I want him to be a part of the household decisions that I would otherwise make alone. 

Besides, the sheet gives my partner space to respond when it's convenient. It takes him 6 minutes (I timed him once) to fill it all out and he has the whole day to do it.

My favorite benefit of this system has been the open communication.  Sometimes he'll throw in a silly answer or write something sweet.  Sometimes he'll have a great suggestion for dinner or a fun date night idea.

He also says things that surprise me. Once, I asked him to rank our upcoming house projects in order of importance. To Mike, making curtains for the sun room is higher priority than organizing the crawl space. (who knew?)  

This system has been a great addition to our weekly routine. We're handling general household business more efficiently. Expenses are being recorded in record time and everyone is on the same page about projects. 

Looking to give the Weekly Check In a try? I made a printable worksheet for you! 

Do you have your own weekly check in system? Share it in our Facebook Page!

Until next time,

xo Katie

Design Your Perfect Morning and Evening Routines

I have a little dachshund named April who LOVES mornings. You've never met anyone so excited to wake up every day in your life. Her favorite part of getting up is, of course, eating breakfast. :) I always enjoy waking up and racing her down the stairs to her food bowl every morning. 

One Sunday, I watched April go through her morning activities. She had her morning kibble. She frolicked in the grass outside. She completed a perimeter sweep and chased the neighbor cat out of the yard. As I sipped my coffee, she came inside and hopped into her watchtower position in the living room window. And then it hit me, I had seen her go through this series events before. This dog has a routine!

More importantly, April's routine brings a happy rhythm to her life. She has an order in which she accomplishes her daily tasks and everything runs as it should. I realized I had stuff that had to get done every morning and evening but I didn't have a system. I had never established a routine for myself. At that moment, I grabbed a piece of paper. I started mapping out my morning and evening responsibilities. 

MAP YOUR LIFE ROUTINES FOR SUCCESS

In 30 minutes, I had mentally rewritten the bookends of my day.  I created a little check list for each section (morning and night) and began tackling it that evening. Let me tell you, these routines have been a life changer! Having a well thought out system has created a positive momentum in our lives each day. Everything we need to get done to make it through the day happens when it needs to. Our routines also helped us pursue more focused living around our priorities and life goals.

And, as an extra bonus, my husband helps me with my routines! Once he started picking up the pattern, he began helping me with some of the tasks he anticipated I would be doing. #winning

Here's how the routines break down:

MORNING ROUTINE:

In real time, this morning routine takes 40 minutes. Within that time frame, I am getting so much done!

  • Making breakfast for myself and my husband
  • Preparing lunch and snacks for the day
  • Journal, meditation, and practicing gratitude
  • Taking care of the dogs' morning needs.
  • Dispensing vitamins and medications
  • Light house-cleaning
  • Getting dressed and ready for the day. 

I have to tack on an extra 15 minutes if I need to flat-iron my hair and put on a full face of make up. That brings me to a max of 55 minutes to get out the door.

Not a bad start to my day!

I wasn't expecting this, but I ended up with TWO Evening Routines. One for when I get home from work and one for before bed.  It's weird, but it works. 

AFTER WORK ROUTINE:

After work, the focus is on feeding everyone and setting us up for success the next morning.

  • Cook & Serve Dinner
  • Feed the Dogs 
  • Do Dishes
  • Set up the Coffee Pot
  • Pack Tomorrow's Lunch
  • Weekly Cleaning Tasks

Before I start evening work, I also complete a digital maintenance task (more on that coming in a future post)

Some tasks I do in the same place and I can multitask there.  For example, if I have a cassoulet baking in the oven, that's a good time for me to knock out dishes, set the coffeepot, etc. 

How to Take Your Morning Routine to the Next Level

Depending on the cleaning and digital tasks, my after work routine can take between 1.5 and 2 hours. Does that seem like a lot to you? It's justified because the time I spend here allows me to provide the home life that we desire most. My husband has a home-cooked meal (almost) every night. Don't forget to light some candles! I am also maintaining our home by cleaning something every evening. And I'm setting up our mornings to be smooth and stress-free. It's an investment in our quality of life. 

If you're looking to save time here: do not underestimate the power of your dishwasher. If you're lucky enough to have one, use it. Don't waste hours a week scrubbing dishes by hand. I find that the busier I get, the more liberal I am about what I put in the dishwasher. At this point, almost everything (except items I think might melt) goes in. I feel no guilt about this. 

BEFORE BED ROUTINE:

I close each day with some light housekeeping and a focus on preparing myself for the day ahead. I journal and assess how well my day went. My calories, expenses, and receipts get scanned and recorded.  I plan a random act of kindness for my husband. My planner gets filled in the night before and I make sure I have time allotted for all the next day's tasks.

These little things add up to smooth mornings and focused living. It's how I check in with myself that I'm making what's important a priority. 

My Before Bed Routine takes about 25-30 minutes. And really, my Roomba does most of the heavy lifting. 

Did you notice something missing from my routine?

Oh right, exercise. Let me explain.

SCHEDULE VS ROUTINE

Exercise does not belong on the routines check lists. It goes on my schedule for the day. There is a distinct difference between my schedule for the day and my routines. The schedule is mandatory. If it's on the schedule, it has to get done.

Routines don't have a time assigned to them, but that doesn't make them less important. It's still key to go through each routine each day. As you complete them over a period of time, these routines become habits. Soon, you will not even need the checklists, your routines will become a natural flow of your day.

TIME INVESTMENT

Who did the math and realized I spend over 3 hours on my routines? I can hear the "Ain't nobody got time for that" protests streaming in. Let's discuss. 

First, no one said your routine has to be a solo venture. As I noted above, my husband helps me. He knows how to put away dishes and turn on a Roomba. If I'm stuck at work, he can locate the nearest Chipotle to get some dinner. Your housemates are probably capable humans and I am a strong proponent of "teamwork makes the dream work." When I have help, it shaves time off my routines. 

Second, do not let chores and responsibilities pile up. It will take you exponentially longer to tackle them than if you chip away at them daily. This applies to almost every household chore: mail, dishes, vacuuming, tidying. 

All humans have learned this the hard way. Who here has ever spent an entire day trying to catch up on 3 months of budget tracking? What about when you don't do laundry for 4 weeks because you're too busy? Yep. Life math. It will take you at least another 2 weeks to dig yourself out. 

If you stay on top of household responsibilities, they never get out of control. That discipline is the secret. It's the main difference between a clean house and one that looks like a Picasso painting. 

MAKE IT PERSONAL

I design my routines around my priorities and goals. If you want to achieve something, you have to plan your days around it. It's an investment in yourself. Your routines might be different from mine in every way. You should design the routines that are best for your life. Instead of an after-work routine, you could have a lunch routine. If you hate cooking dinner, your focus could be trying new restaurants in your area. If your children are in sports, you may have a pre-game prep checklist. The point is to keep your life routines personal and in service of your goals.

ROUTINES ARE NOT IMMUNE TO ENTROPY

As the name of this blog suggests, life happens.  There is only so much we can actually control in the world. If a major event happens, tasks may start to pile up. And that is okay. It happens to the best of us. You may go a few weeks or months unable to check every box. There's no shame in it. Your routines will be there for you when you're ready to return to your normal life. They will give you the confidence and knowledge to dig yourself out. Routines are one of life's secret weapons! 

Do you have a daily routine you love? Share it on our Facebook Page!

Have a great week!

xo Katie

How to Make a Cleaning Schedule that Actually Works

Growing up, I always thought I would be good at housekeeping. I watched home-making and cooking shows on TV and I read every diy magazine you can think of. At 18, my collection of cleaning and home-keeping books was two shelves high.

And, by the time I left for college, I felt confident that I had absorbed all the necessary information. Success was a certainty. 

My first college apartment was a horrible reality check. Imagine my shock and confusion when I realized that despite my books and perfectly color-coded bins, my apartment was chaos. Dirty dishes piled in the sink, no space to store anything, laundry took weeks to get through. It was awful. 

And I continued to struggle. I spent the next 10 years fixing small problems but never clearing the big hurdles. 

When I bought my first home with my husband, I made it my mission to finally figure out systems that worked. After a couple years of trial and error, I started getting a handle on this whole home-keeping thing.  

So let's start at the beginning. My first big win was making a cleaning routine that actually worked. In order to establish your own, you need to know a couple key things first. 

Here are some basic truths about keeping your house clean:

The only person who is going to clean your house is you. 
There is no magical fairy who runs around dusting and doing dishes while we sleep. Robots and automation are getting us closer to that reality, but, for now, you need to carve out time to clean.

how to make a cleaning schedule that actually works

Chores are exponential. 
If you do not keep up with your cleaning, it will take you exponentially longer to dig out when you get behind. For example, if you do laundry every week, it might take you 5 hours to get through 5 loads. But, if you don't do laundry for 3 weeks, it will take you many days of only doing laundry to dig yourself out. 

You Have to Create Habits and Routines that work for YOUR Life.
The only way to prevent getting buried in chores, is to create habits and routines to stay on top of them.

How do you create these routines? 

Step 1: Break down your household cleaning tasks into two categories. 

1- Tasks that need to get done every day
For example, my Daily Cleaning Tasks are:

  • Dishes
  • Sweep/Vacuum Floors 
  • 10 Minute Pick Up
  • Make the Bed 

2- Tasks that need to get done every week
My Weekly Cleaning Tasks are:

  • Grocery Shop & Run Errands
  • Clean Bathrooms
  • Dusting
  • Mop Floors
  • Clean Windows
  • Laundry Day
  • Wine Inventory

Step 2: Decide when you will do them. 

Build your Daily Cleaning Tasks into your morning and evening routines. 

My Daily Cleaning Schedule:
Morning - Vacuum Zone 1  & Make the Bed
After Work - Do Dishes
Before Bed - Vacuum Zones 2/3 & 10 Minute Pick Up

Assign each of your Weekly Cleaning Tasks to a specific day of the week. 

My Weekly Cleaning Schedule:
Monday - Grocery Shop and Run Errands  
Tuesday - Clean Bathrooms  
Wednesday - Dusting
Thursday - Grocery Shop and Run Errands  
Friday - Wine Inventory  
Saturday -  Mop Floors and Clean Windows  
Sunday -  Laundry Day

Did you see what happened there? We just created my cleaning schedule. :) 

Need more help? I created a worksheet to help you create your own! Subscribe to The Library and download it now!

Pick The Best Days and Tasks for You

Theming your days is a freeing experience. I can stop worrying about WHEN I will complete my tasks. If I clean bathrooms on Tuesday, I know I don't have to worry about cleaning the bathrooms until Tuesday. The rest of the week, I don't even think about the bathrooms. 

Theme Your Days to Work With Your Life:

There is a specific reason why I chose and assigned each day of the week for my Weekly Cleaning Schedule. 

Mondays and Thursdays I go grocery shopping and run errands.
This is because I do my meal planning in two rounds:
On Sunday, I plan for Monday -Wednesday. 
On Thursday, I plan for Thursday-Sunday. 
Grocery shopping twice a week gives me the flexibility I need to roll with the punches. It is not unheard of for life to mess with my meal plans. 

I also stack errands on grocery shopping days because it's most efficient to do all my driving on the same days. 

Sunday is Laundry Day because that's the day my husband and I catch up on all our tv shows. I can change loads on commercial breaks and we can fold together in front of the tv. This also a great time for me to bathe the dogs (but that's another blog post). 

Wine Inventory gets done on Friday because Friday is Date Night. I'm already in the cellar picking a wine for dinner so I can quickly update my app while I'm there.

You get the idea. 

Your days and tasks will probably differ from mine and that is actually the point. Create the schedule that makes the most sense for you and how you live your life. 

Your success is dependent on your commitment to keeping up with your cleaning schedule. 

Designing your system is 5% of the battle, the rest is actually living with it. This means that no matter how tired you are, you still do your daily habits and weekly cleaning. 

It takes an average of 66 days to create a new habit. If you miss a day or two, it won't prevent you from forming the habit, but, for the most part, you want to complete your habit every day. To help you keep up the momentum, we created a habit chain just for you! Write your new habit on the top and hang it up somewhere you will look at it every day. Check off each day you complete your new habit. Don't break the chain!

Now, I am not a monster. I know that life comes with varying degrees of chaos. Sometimes you will not be able to clean the bathroom on Tuesday. No one will die. Just make sure you get back on track the next Tuesday. 

Keeping up with your system is the true key to success. If you let things go, life math will take over and it will take you more time to get back on track again. 

What if my house is complete chaos right now?

Picasso House. It happens. Please do not struggle to clean your entire house all at once, so you can begin your cleaning schedule. This will only cause exhaustion and frustration. 

Dig yourself out with your Daily Cleaning Tasks first.

 
Step 1: Stand at the sink and do every dirty dish. Then put them all away.
Step 2: Make the Bed.
The house is looking better already!
Step 3: Put everything away around the house that is out of place. Feel free to get the rest of the humans you live with to help. Do you have items in your home that do not have a home? We'll address that in a future post. 
Step 4: Sweep and/or Vacuum the Floors. 
You're done for the day. Good job!

Then, maintain your Daily Cleaning Tasks and begin your Weekly Cleaning tasks.

It might take you a couple weeks to get through the laundry. That's okay. The goal is progress, not perfection. Eventually, you WILL catch up. Just keep working at it every day. 

Are you ready to take your house back?

You've got this!

Do you love your cleaning schedule? Inspire others! Share your cleaning schedule in the Facebook Group.

Until next time,

xo Katie