Home Maintenance

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. 

7 quick.jpg

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!


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


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!


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 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