Simplifying: My Time, Money, and Sanity

posted by Andrea | 12/16/2010

Since we’re moving…and I’m just a little bit busy, I have a handful of amazing guest bloggers lined up for the next two weeks. They have tons of great information to share with you so read carefully!!

Today, Keri Middaugh of My Kitchen My Vice is sharing her advice to preserve her limited time, money, and sanity!

Honesly, I LOVE this article and how she breaks everything down into bite-size pieces. Even if you can’t do everything on her list, pick ONE idea and start simplifying your life today!

Recently, I got tired of hearing myself complain about my “disorder disorder” so I decided to do something about it…and here’s what I did! (Hint: if your time is limited, scroll down to tip #12 … it’s my favorite!)

Photo: Paul Forman

1.I started folding the laundry on my bed.

I used to fold my laundry in my living room and subsequently displayed it to all my friends and neighbors who decided to pop by on laundry day {which is every day!} So folding the laundry on my bed gives the illusion that I have it under control — I like illusions!

2. I cancelled my magazine subscriptions.

Well, I didn’t renew them and the final issues are trickling in. But, after the New Year, no more magazines. How freeing! And a little sad.

3. I started seeking help from books.

But not just any books…I’ve been reading book written by people who are actually organized, streamlined, and efficient. I’ve gleaned some simple, but helpful, tips from these professionals, like…

  • Get rid of stuff; lots of stuff!
  • Hang kids’ umbrellas on the inside of the coat closet door.
  • It usually takes less time to straighten up a problem area than to fret about it.

4) I renamed my junk drawer.

I did myself a huge psychological favor and renamed it the ‘utility drawer’.  Then I got rid of all the actual junk, leaving only the stuff that my family utilizes.  I sorted, purged, and gave my daughter the task of sharpening all the pencils {which she still considers a treat.}  That 15-minute task did wonders for my kitchen’s self-esteem and we can now find our chip clips again.

5. I’m using voicemail.

Yup, I sometimes don’t pick up the phone. Especially when the dog is barking, the children are crying, the pot is boiling over… you get the idea!  It was my mother who told me, “Keri, the telephone is supposed to be convenient.” So I hope she doesn’t mind if her call goes to voicemail!

6. I’m tying to keep the foyer straightened all the time.

Or as much as possible when I’m sharing my home with 3 other people and a dog.  I abhor the feeling when a cheerful neighbor comes to the door, then apologizes for taking me (and my messy foyer) by surprise.  I’ve got a surprise for you, neighbor, my foyer is consistently tidy now!

7. I do daily tasks at the same time every day.

How does the saying go?  “A time for every thing and every thing in its time” or something like that.  That way, those little jobs (and fretting about them) don’t suck a lot of unexpected time. Biggest culprits for me: laundry, email, letting the dog out, reading the mail.

8. I give my kids “Cinderella jobs.”

Recently my 4 year old helped me sort dozens of jars and find the matching lids, all while pretending to be an oppressed princess. Seriously…this works!

9. I use the Master Notebook.

I stock up on the 10-cent spiral notebooks during the back-to-school sales and use them throughout the year.  Mostly I fill them with my weekly To-Do lists, but other fun uses are brainstorming projects, price-comparing for home improvements, party-planning, etc.  I love my notebook and get very protective of it when someone asks to “borrow a page.”

10. I got real about coupons.

I was all excited about CVS and all the free products I could get using the Extra Bucks and within a week I had acquired a 3 year supply of panty liners.  Who cares that it only cost me 99 cents?  Now I have all these packages of panty liners to store. I now realize that CVS and all its Bucks are for people who go through a lot of products. Not me.

11. I say “No, thanks.”

Suggest an event, project, exotic recipe to me, and I will think it is fun.  I’ll want to participate.  I’ll put it on the calendar.  The date will come, then I’ll be grumpy that my time is being taken by some silly event, project, or exotic recipe.

Now when I’m confronted by one of these opportunities, I anticipate how I’ll feel when I see it written on my calendar.  If I’m looking forward to it, then I write it down — in red.  If I can see myself dreading the task, then I politely say “I’m unavailable” and look forward to my uncluttered calendar for that day.

12. I practice “Project Snowball.”

I absolutely LOVE “Project Snowball” and have been using it to reign in my tendency to spread my energy across too many projects.  The idea is based on the Debt Snowball as explained by Dave Ramsey in The Total Money Makeover.

With the Project Snowball, you make a list of all your unfinished projects, in order from least time/energy needed to most.  Then you knock them out.  One by one you finish each project, building on the momentum and satisfaction from just finishing something.  With the Project Snowball, I Get Stuff Done. And it’s wonderful!

I realize that any one of these items doesn’t seem like much, but when I put then all together, I feel like many areas of my life are quite streamlined.

And just so you know, the limited time, money, and sanity I mentioned earlier is still (mostly) intact.

Keri Middaugh is an artisan, wife, mother, disciple, who blogs over at My Kitchen, My Vice.  A former math teacher, she stays at home with her two daughters, surviving and often thriving on her husband’s music teacher income.  Her favorite room of the house is the kitchen and she sees it as the heart of the family.  If you can’t find her there, she may be checking out her garden, checking out way too many books at the library, or checking out in front of a movie.

Thanks Keri — I know we can ALL benefit from your time-saving, money-saving, simple-living tips; especially this time of year! And I am definitely using your “Project Snowball” theory for our big move!

What are you doing to simplify, organize, de-clutter, or de-stress your life?

Filed under: LifeDaily Life

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  1. Tracy


    I love these tips. today is “Declutter Day” These tips will help. I love the Project Snowball idea.
    I used to feel very overwhelmed by all the “to do lists” in my head and on paper. So my dear husband suggested we purchased a dry erase board. It hangs in the kitchen & I dump everything going on in my head…onto the board. When i feel overwhelmed, he can pull tasks off the board to help…and sometimes just writing it down helps too.
    For me, it’s better than a paper to do list, it’s my visual & reminds me to get stuff done!
    Love your blog & all your tips!


  2. Joanna @ Starving Student Survivor


    I’m with you on the voicemail. I never realized how good an answering machine was until I had my first baby. It just doesn’t work to interrupt a nursing baby just because the phone happens to ring.


  3. Dawn Hild


    I love the “project snowball” idea. I had never thought to apply that principle to projects…
    Thanks so much for making it click for me!