Do You Want To Be A Better Homemaker in 2013?

Of all the New Year Resolutions I’ve made in my life, I’m pretty sure ‘being a better homemaker’ was never one of them.

Yet, I know quite a few moms who have set this up as a goal for the new year.

So let’s take a look at the idea.

What makes for a better homemaker?

  • Is it having a cleaner house?
  • Is it about having a better organized house?
  • Is it about having more hot cooked meals on the table for the family?
  • Is it about being a more frugal shopper?

What do you think?

If you want to be a better homemaker, what does it mean to YOU?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

Using A Timer Saves Me From Embarrassment

Today while Little Dude was at his camp, I was working a bit on my blog theme.  You may have noticed some changes going on here…

Anyway, I was totally engrossed in the techie-geeky-coding of my blog. I completely lost track of time. I looked panicked and looked at the clock – ahh, still have 5 more minutes. Then not a second later, the 5-minute warning went off on my timer.

If I didn’t have my timer set, I might have been late picking-up Little Dude. Can you imaging if they had to call me? I, and he, would have been so embarrassed!

If you’re ‘Domestically Challenged’ like me, you often find yourself scrambling to get out the door to pick-up your kid from camp (or school, or scouts, etc.) or rummaging through the pantry for something to make for dinner at the last minute. You either get totally engrossed in something or you get easily distracted – and you lose track of time.

Using A Timer Helps With Time Management

If it wasn’t for my  Sunbeam Digital Timer (pictured above), I’d always be the last parent picking Little Dude up from camp. I’d always be late. And I’d never get my to-do list done. I use this timer at least twenty-times a day: while I’m gardening, while I’m reading, while I’m blogging. It keeps me focused on the task at hand, and let’s me know when to stop.

I love the features of this timer.

  • It can be set for long periods of time like an-hour-and-a-half (better than the 60-minute dial timers).
  • It’s beep is loud, but not too loud.
  • It has a stand on the back that is also a clip so I can easily have it with me at all times.
  • It also has a magnet on the back to easily store on the fridge (so I always know where it is).
  • It beeps 10- and 5-minute warnings so I know when to start finishing a task.
  • It’s cheap – only $9.99 through Amazon.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: using a timer helps moms manage their time. It keeps us focused, it keeps us motivated, and it tells us when to stop. Be sure to get yourself a timer today so you know when to stop – and won’t get embarrassed!

Get Organized with Daily Routines

Apparently Americans are an unorganized lot because there’s a lot of talk, both online and offline, about how to get organized. You’ll find magazines with featured articles about it and television shows devoted to nothing but organizing your home. If you listen to many of these sources, you’ll find that one of the easiest ways to get organized is with a daily routine.

What is a daily routine and how can it help you get organized? A routine is another word for a habit. It’s something you’ve done much the same way for so long that you don’t even have to think about it anymore. You can easily create a routine for getting organized. Let’s look at the concept and see how it can be used to get your home organized.

Bedtime routine – Take 20 minutes to work in one area of the house:

  • Kitchen – Waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes is enough to make anyone dread getting up in the morning. Before you go to bed, make sure your dishes are done. Either wash them by hand or start the dishwasher.
  • Living room – Pick up anything that doesn’t belong in that room and take it where it goes.
  • Bathroom – Make sure all clothes and towels are picked up off the floor and put into the laundry.
  • Bedroom – Put your clothes into the laundry and pick out your clothes for the next day.

Take some time to plan your day. Think about what you have to do tomorrow and write down anything else you may remember. This will give you a chance to clear your brain and allow you to sleep better.

Morning routine – This will help you get your day off to a good start.

  • Empty the dishwasher.
  • Make breakfast, washing dishes as you go. When you’re done eating, put dishes into the dishwasher to start later.
  • Check your calendar to make sure you’re aware of any appointments.
  • Thaw a frozen dinner by putting it in the refrigerator.
  • Start a load of laundry.

Afternoon routine – If you’re at home during the day, use the time to clean areas you may not have gotten to earlier. Dry, fold, and put away the load of clothes you washed earlier. You may want to take time to make a tentative schedule of when you’ll complete other weekly cleaning.

The more things you can create a routine for when cleaning and organizing your home, the better. Routines, when they’re done often enough, become second nature to you and you don’t have to think about what to do next. Take the time to create your own and then get organized with daily routines.

Time Management Tips

Each New Year millions of Americans make resolutions to change things about their lives.  They may want to lose weight, use their time more wisely, conquer clutter in their homes, or take time to learn a new skill.

I’m going to share a little secret: In order to accomplish your New Year’s resolution(s), you need to make time to get it done. Yep, that’s it – you need to manage your time.

But time management is never an easy task, especially if you’ve never been the type to make the most of your time. However, there are a lot of ways for you to start up and slowly integrate your whole system into practicing effective Time management methods.

I’m going to be blunt. When trying to manage your time all you need is common sense and discipline.

Before you go and start making a list of things you need to do, you have to realize that the list will never work if you won’t back it up with discipline. When talking about discipline here, it means you have to know your own priorities as well to guide you in abiding with the rules that you have set for yourself.

Now, having said that…

Tips To Successfully Utilize Your Time

1. List a set of things to do for the day – This is the traditional way to proper time management. Make a list of things you have to do for the day to keep you informed on what to do for the day. The list will help you to avoid distractions if any should arise during the day.

It is recommended to create a flexible “to do list”; having a flexible list allows you to fit unexpected events and occasions (only important ones) without destroying the whole list.

2. Set some things to do for the day as top priority. – The idea of setting hierarchies among your list of priorities is that those on top of the list are what you need to attend to first. It also helps you to finish on time when you use it in conjunction with your “to-do” list and daily timetable.

3. Learn how to say “NO” – When offered to do something, most people have trouble refusing. Hence, they are confronted with more tasks than they can manage. This is more important when it comes to tasks that are less important, such as watching a movie or going to a football game. You have to remember that once you have completed your pending tasks, you will have time to enjoy yourself.

4. Concentrate on one thing at a time. – Some people try to do all things at the same time. This happens because people need to do a lot of things but they do not have the luxury of time. Proper time management allows you to concentrate on one task at a time. When you feel that this task is more urgent than the other, then you must first focus on that task before moving on to the next most important task.

When you concentrate only on one task, the time needed to finish the job will significantly lessen giving you more spare time.

5. Continually look at ways of freeing up your time – It is important to try to free your schedule up. Looking for ways to free up your schedule improves the time spent on finishing up your activities. Remember that if you save a few minutes from each activity, and then you sum them all up, you’d realize that you have saved a lot of time.

In addition, examine your old habits and look for ways to change them. – When you learn that your habits are not conducive to proper time management, then it’s about time that you start changing them. Bad habits are usually hard to change but when you’re able to overcome it, the results are rewarding – Free Time!

I have lots more tips for managing your time, but here’s a start.

PS: If you’re struggling with your time management, I have an easy to read and easy to implement how-to-guide on time management just for busy moms. Check it out – it can help you!

My New Calendar

I bought my new calendar this week. Yes, it’s based on the academic year running from July 2009 through December 2010. I purchased it at Staples, using a coupon from the weekly sales circular ($5 off purchase of $20 or more) so it was only $6.99. I get the same calendar each year.

Here’s My Calendar and How I Use It

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First of all, let me just say that I’m giddy that it’s pink! It matches my phone – LOL, I’m such a girl!

But seriously, it’s just the right size to fit in my purse (6″ x 9″) so I always have it with me. It fits any necessary papers that I need to carry with me, folded in half.

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It has a monthly view for each month. This is where I record all family appointments and activities. I use the notes section on the side for reminders like ‘purchase gift for Bobby’ or ‘schedule Dr Taylor’.

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The weekly view pages are directly behind that month’s monthly view. I use the weekly view for my business needs. I schedule appointments, maintain my editorial calendar, and note important to-d0s.

A few tricks I have for using this calendar:

  • There are pages at the back of the calendar to store important numbers I need at any given time, such as the pediatrician, AAA and the vet. Even though these numbers are stored in my cell phone, you never know when it’s out of juice. I like to be prepared.
  • I keep a small 4″ x 6″ notepad right behind the front cover – you never know when you need to take note of a website, directions or even an idea for a blog post.
  • I use a small binder clip to hold the front pages together so that I can turn to the current month easily.
  • I ‘dog eared’ the time zone reference page so I can turn to that quickly (I’m geographically challenged and can never remember what states are in which time zones)
  • The only information I fill-in on the ‘Personal Information’ page is my name, email address and cell phone number. Nothing else – because if I do happen to leave it somewhere I don’t want ALL my personal information revealed.

You may be wondering why I don’t use ‘planner’. I just don’t need one and they are a little too complicated. I have a household binder (I call my Standard Operating Procedures or SOP) and a business binder (also called SOP) that contains all information I need. But that information is not necessary to carry with me everywhere on a daily basis. If I do need to take something with me, I bring just that. There is no reason to carry my cleaning schedule with me to the pediatrician.

When I was a working girl, meaning I worked outside of my home, I did carry a planner with me. I had lots of information that I needed on a regular basis that was included in the planner. But instead of purchasing refills each year, I used one of these calendars. I used it the same way too: family appointments/activities on the monthly view; business on the weekly view. It’s small enough to fit in the planner, plus I saved money by not having to purchase the refills. I did occasionally purchase note-page refills, but they were the Staples brand.

Another question you may be asking is where is your daily action plan (aka: to do list)? That’s easy! I write my daily action plan on a 4″x6″ lined sticky note. I make my plan each night and stick it on the weekly page I’m currently on. This keeps my list handy and in place. Plus, because it’s only so-many lines, I keep my list manageable and never overwhelm myself.

So there you have it – my calendar. How I use it and why I love it. If you have any questions about my calendar or about time management in general, please leave a comment. Or you could send me an email (link is in my side bar) or call me at 888-345-7181. You never know – your comment or question could be a future topic on my blog or podcast!

Also, just a little linkie love – I did an interview with Marie from the Mommy Community Podcast. Take a listen!

Clean House Using The Focus Formula

It’s a common occurrence – life happens and we get behind in our housekeeping. Or you have company coming this weekend and the house is a mess. How do you make your home presentable? There is no magic trick – you just gotta clean it up with good old fashioned elbow grease.

So how can you clean up the house without exhausting yourself? By using a timer and the focus formula. It’s simple – 45/15. You work for 45 minutes, then take a break for 15 minutes.

The idea is to totally focus your energy and attention to a project 45 minutes. Then when the timer goes off, stop for a break for 15 minutes.

It’s been taught by several internet marketing gurus, including Jimmy D Brown, for focusing on business. The idea is to ignore the phone, close your email, twitter and anything else that might be a distraction, and totally focus on the task at hand. Then when the 45 minutes is up, you can check your email, return a phone call or (my favorite) log-on to Twitter.

This formula can be applied to your home cleaning. Just set your timer and tackle a room. It’s especially helpful when you are short on time or have a deadline to meet (like the in-laws coming over for dinner tomorrow). It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you have complete, total focus on what you are doing. And you’ll be surprised how quickly the time goes.

And while you may not look forward to cleaning, you can look forward to the breaks using the formula!

Time Management Tips (Friday Faves)

I’m always on the look-out for new ways to work on my time management. Honestly, I’m terrible at it – always have been. I am so easily distracted and quickly loose track of time.

But I know that I don’t manage my time well – and knowing is half the battle!

I consciously work on it on a daily basis. I plan my day each morning so I can effectively use the time that I have. And I use a timer – A LOT. From keeping track of the washing machine, to how much time I spend checking emails, I always have my timer attached to my hip. Literally – I have a digital timer that has a clip on the back so I walk around all day long with it clipped to my pants.

Here are some links I found this week in my Google reader that I’d like to share to maybe spark an idea on how you can better manage your time.

Stacks & Stacks has a great post about the ultimate time management tool for adults with ADD

Melissa shared her thoughts on battling time wasters

TwiTip shares how to avoid making Twitter a time waster

And finally, Aurelia gives us some fantastic information on how to find more mom time!

Do you have a favorite time management tip? Please share in the comments – include a link to your own blog if you’ve posted about this before!

Organize Your Day – Plan the Night Before

It’s a pretty good chance that at one point or another you’ve forgotten an appointment, arrived at the wrong time, or even on the wrong day.  You may have thought, right then and there, that you needed to organize your day by planning the night before.

Why do you want to organize your day by planning it the night before?

There are several reasons for doing so:  you’ll have a better idea of what to expect during the day, you can be proactive rather than reactive when something comes up, and knowing what to expect ahead of time will actually allow you to sleep better.

One way to know what’s ahead is to have a large, central calendar that everyone in the family can put their appointments on.  I have a calendar hanging in my kitchen command center, and both hubby and I depend on it! You can color-code the calendar by assigning each member a color and writing their appointments in that so they can easily see what they have coming up. When anyone in the family has something to add to the calendar, write it on there immediately.  This will also allow you to see what everyone in the family is scheduled for and lets you know if something has to be passed on because of a conflict.

Besides having a large, central calendar, you may also like to keep a smaller copy with you so you know when your family busy and when they are free.  This will help you plan future appointments when you’re at the doctor’s office or just out and about.  The key is to keep your small calendar up to date with any additions that are made.

After your day is over, take a few minutes to look at your calendar and any notes you took while at work.  If you can, do like activities at the same time in scheduled blocks.  This will keep you focused and help you to not forget to do something important.  Returning telephone calls, answering emails, and running errands can all be done in blocks of time so you’re not jumping from one activity to another.

Don’t schedule every moment of your day.

Leave room in your schedule for last minute interruptions, changes, or emergencies.  If you have an appointment during the day, don’t forget to include the time it takes for you to travel to and from your appointment when scheduling your day.  And ALWAYS leave room for toddler-tantrums, lost shoes and potty breaks! You also want to leave some time to spend on yourself each day or at least once a week.

Finally, don’t kick yourself if you don’t accomplish everything you want to each day.  Having your day planned makes it more likely you’ll be productive than if you hadn’t planned your day at all.  You can organize your day by planning the night before in just a little bit of time, and the benefits will definitely be worth it.

Make Your Morning Run Smoothly

If you have children you’re probably used to hearing someone ask “Mom, where’s my homework?”, “Mom, have you seen my new shoes?” and so on. No matter how often you tell your family to put their things back when they’re done with them, it seems they still end up missing.

Make your morning run smoothly by having a morning routine for yourself and for your family.

Actually, you can start your morning routine the night before. Set out your clothes before going to bed and you’ll be that much closer to being ready in the morning. Find any accessories you need and make sure your clothes are ready to wear including knowing where both shoes are. In the morning, you can get up without having to try to figure out what to wear. You can take your time showering because you have part of your morning tasks done. Go ahead and have a leisurely breakfast; your routine helps make your morning run smoothly.

Having a meal plan will help make your day run smoother by knowing ahead of time what you’ll be eating. After you have dressed and eaten breakfast, start making your children’s lunches. Check your meal plan for dinner and see if there’s anything you need to take out of the freezer for dinner. Perhaps you can put part of your meal into the crock pot so you’ll have dinner at least started for the evening.

Start a load of laundry if you have time. When you get home in the evening, put the laundry in the dryer and you’ll have less to do on the weekend.

Do you have a family calendar? Are there appointments you need to be aware for the day? Does your child have band or sports practice? Will you need to pick them up? Looking over your calendar before leaving each morning will help you be prepared for what each day holds.

Each day when you return home, put your keys in your purse and your purse in the same place. This one act can you save a lot of time because you won’t be searching for lost keys. The same thing goes for the kid’s back-packs, sneakers and paperwork. Take some time to create a command center so you will always know where to find things.

The old saying says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can teach yourself and maybe your family some. If you create your own morning routine, your day will run smoother. Perhaps watching how easy your morning is will make the rest of your family decide to create their own morning routines, too.

Is The Computer Distracting You

I received this funny poem today in my email.

My Cleaning Poem

I asked the Lord to tell me
Why my house is such a mess.
He asked if I’d been ‘computering’,
And I had to answer ‘yes.’

He told me to get off my fanny
And tidy up the house.
And so I started cleaning up…
The smudges off my mouse.

I wiped and shined the topside.
That really did the trick….
I was just admiring my work…
I didn’t mean to ‘click.’

But click, I did, and oops I found
A real absorbing site.
That I got SO way into.
I was into it all night.

Nothing’s changed except my mouse
It’s very, very shiny.
I guess my house will stay a mess…
While I sit here on my hiney!!

Clever poem. It got me thinking…

Does your computer distract you? Do you waste time surfing and computing?

I used to get sucked into the cyber-time-warp myself. I’d waste hours surfing and clicking. And I’d ignore the chores that needed to be done. And worse – I’d deprive myself of sleep.

But then I started using a timer to manage the time I spend on the computer. Each time I get on to surf, I decide how much time I can spend computering and set the timer. When the bell goes off, I’m done sufing, and it’s back to my to-do list.

Give a timer a try the next time you sit at your computer to surf. Decide how much time you have to surf before hand. And stick to it – when the bell goes off it’s time to log-off!

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