Focus on what you can control, forget the rest!

If you didn't quite get to everything you wanted to do in January, don't fret. We have the advantage of being at the start of a new month and every day brings a fresh opportunity to renew your focus and begin something.

You may know of this concept but I think it's amazing and wanted to share it with you in case you've not come across it before. It's an amazing mindset trick that puts you thoroughly in control of your goals.

Have you found you get stressed out by all sorts of things? Maybe some of these:

  • the jobs you didn't get done around the house last year
  • what will happen now that we've left the EU
  • the mounds of paperwork taking over your kitchen counters
  • your environmental impact
  • your partner's messy bedside table
  • the state of the economy
  • how you never have enough clean shirts on a Friday

Don't stress - use your zone of control!

Often we experience stress when we lack control, so the key to reducing your stress lies in focusing on what you can control.

Think of these three elements:

  1. Zone of control (blue) - the things going on here are within your control to change
  2. Zone of influence (white) - you can influence the elements within this area but you cannot personally control what happens here
  3. Zone of concern (green) - you cannot control or influence what happens within this area
Zone of control diagram

You can reduce your stress levels by focusing your energy on the elements within your Zone of Control, those things that you can personally change. For example, you can make sustainable purchases, recycle and reduce your energy consumption to lower your impact on the environment. You might go further and change to renewable energy sources, choose to walk more often rather than use your car and so on.

How can we use this mindset at home?

When it comes to our homes, we are busy, have other things to focus on and often live with other people (or pets) who create mess too.

If you are getting frustrated with the state of your home, you could try taking action on the things that are within your control, such as:

  • decluttering and organising your side of the bedroom (often when we get organised this rubs off on others as they notice the benefits of our efforts)
  • organising your paperwork and start to manage it regularly so that it doesn't pile up
  • adding a weekly 'light load' diary reminder to ensure that you have shirts
  • helping your child practice tidying and giving away toys they no longer use (important skills for the future!)
  • create zones with accessible storage so that things can be tidied away easily when finished with

What other things can you do to organise the things within your control?

So the next time you feel stressed...

Where can you take control?

And remember ... let go of the things that you can't control!

(Yes it takes practice but it's worth it!) ;o)

Easy January Organising Challenge

Here's the secret to easy January organising!

Are you feeling ready to get organised after the busyness of Christmas?

All you want to do is create some calm, space after the busy energy generated by decorations, visitors, present opening and everything that comes with Christmas celebrations.

I know the idea of having a good sort out doesn't necessarily fill you with excitement. And it's true that often you end up making a bit of a mess before it all comes together.

But the easy thing about my January challenge is you don't need to do it all at once, you don't even need to do it all. You don't need to feel under pressure to work through a big list of tasks even though you are busy.

With my January challenge all you have to do do is pick one thing (it can even be part of a task I've listed, or something else that you feel inspired to tackle).

Pick something that appeals and just have a go!

I promise you, you will feel amazing and be so pleased with the result, you might even want to have a go at another task, maybe!

Kitchen storage

Kitchen Challenge

Simplicity is the key!

Our kitchen is the heart of the home and we spend alot of time here preparing drinks and meals to nourish ourselves and our household and clearing up afterwards.

A cluttered kitchen can make it difficult to do this and the chaos can impact our mood. You know what it's like when you try to prepare something and there is no free counter space to put things down. Its frustrating and makes you want to avoid it. Not only that, but scientists have found that we make healthier food choices in a clutter-free environment.

When you have a clear counter and a good looking space, your kitchen will look inviting (and be much easier to clean) and make you feel that things are in order!

So, how can you achieve this?

  • Aim to keep counters clear. If you want to keep a few items out on show, make sure that these are items that you use regularly and/or LOVE
  • Arrange your kitchen for lazy people! Put the things your household uses regularly in easy to reach places and other less used items in harder to reach cupboards and shelves
  • Sort through your food stuffs, dispose of any out of date items, donate anything you are unlikely to use before their BBF date. Store packets in containers by category and stack cans by category and labels older items near the front. This will make it easy to find what you need for a meal and avoid food waste
  • Sell or donate those gadgets and utensils that you don't use, or where functions are duplicated. You don't need a blender if your food processor can also do this function and don't need a coffee grinder if you rarely drink fresh coffee
Corner Chair and plant

Lounge Challenge

And relax!

The lounge is the place we go to relax, to read, watch TV, hang out with family members and maybe pets. We want it to be a haven of calm and relaxation not a dumping ground for chaos and stuff that doesn't have a home.

Think about what you'd like this relaxing space to look and feel like and imagine what it should look like.

  • Now zip around the room removing everything that doesn't live in your ideal lounge
  • Donate/sell/recycle anything that you don't need (including old DVDs, music and computer consoles you no longer play)
  • Display the things that you love
  • Create spaces for those things that you do love or use, on shelves, in cupboards or elsewhere in the house depending on where you will use them
  • store similar things together close to where you'll use them - books by your favourite reading chair, DVDs near your DVD player
  • Have a box, basket or drawer in your lounge for remote controls and other bits and bobs that you want to be able to access but don't want to clutter the room

 

Bathroom storage

Bathroom Challenge

This is arguably the easiest room to tackle because there is unlikely to be any memorabilia in here. And you either use the products or you don't! ⁠

Gather everything from surfaces and cupboards and have a good look through. ⁠

1) Before you do anything else it's worth checking expiration dates. Items left open too long won't be as effective and some could harbour germs - check the labels for advice. You'll want to use these up ASAP or dispose of them as appropriate. ⁠

2) Then let's have a look at categorising them. Group them into those you use daily, weekly, monthly and those extras you've bought in bulk for later.⁠

If there are a few of you in your home, you may also want group them by person.⁠

3) Keep only the daily and weekly products out on a nearby surface or cupboard so that you can tidy them up easily. Use containers like the one in the pic (I used a fridge container) for all or for each person to keep them together and looking neat.⁠

Those monthly products and bulk purchases are needed less often so they can go away in cupboards out of sight. ⁠

Towels and bathroom storage
Laura Wardrobe organising

Wardrobe Challenge

Give yourself the gift of a great start

Do you have a wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear? ⁠

That's what it can feel like when you're under pressure to get ready for the day and are faced with a wardrobe of chaos.⁠

Give yourself the gift of an easy start each morning by organising your wardrobe to make it easy to find what makes you feel fabulous.⁠

What to try:
1) If you have time for a good sort out:⁠
- empty your wardrobe onto your bed and sort clothes into categories⁠
- review each category of clothing, filtering out items that are worn out, ill-fitting and you just don't love to wear⁠
- put aside items that you wear rarely but expect to wear again in future, considering size and style (e.g. ball gown, wet suit etc)⁠
- if you are unsure whether you will wear an item, return it to the wardrobe and make a note in your diary to review it again in x months⁠
- return items, organising into categories⁠
- turn hangers away from you and as you wear items turn the hanger towards you - you'll easily be able to see what you have not worn next time you review your wardrobe⁠

Some people organise by colour so that they can coordinate outfits quickly, others organise by occasion (work, casual, going out) and others prefer to hang items by fabric (thinnest to thickest). All work perfectly well, you just need to find what works for you.⁠

2) If you don't have lots of time:⁠
- have a cursory look through your wardrobe and pull out anything you know doesn't fit, you don't like to wear or is worn out⁠
- sort your clothing into categories as above⁠
- turn hangers away from you and as you wear items turn the hanger towards you - you'll easily be able to see what you have not worn next time you review your wardrobe⁠
- diarise another review⁠

If you like what you've read

 

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Discover how the Apps I love could make you better organised

All the Apps you need to be better organised are in the palm of your hand!

If you have a smart phone, you have a small computer in the palm of your hands and a fantastic opportunity to use Apps to help you be better organised.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love to use my phone to stay organised wherever possible rather than collect bits of paper to lose and clutter up the place!

I hope that I can save you a little time, effort or stress each day by sharing the Apps that I love (ofcourse there are others available).

Audible - Audio book app

I'm not good at making time to read and have to regularly sort out the books I've bought but not read. Then I discovered Audible; what a game-changer! I can sneak a chapter in whilst walking to town, driving, hanging the washing out, tidying round the house... you name it!

Wishlists are great for queuing up the books I want to read and it's so easy to take a number of books on holiday without taking up space. I love that I can re-read chapters or books that I've enjoyed. And the best bit - storing my books is so much easier. No more overflowing book shelves and no piles of un-read books cluttering up the house!


Just so you know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Be Focused - focus timer & goal tracker

You may have heard of the Pomodoro Technique - which provides a simple tool for improving productivity. The technique involves planning and prioritising your activities, breaking them down into 25 min chunks with a 5 min break.

This app is a great for planning, timing and reviewing your activities.

Podcasts

Ok, this isn't quite an app but wow what a world you can open up using your phone's podcast application.

Whenever I'm doing a physical task that doesn't need concentration, and if I'm not listening to an audio book, I'll often listen to a podcast or two. There are some great dramas, quiz shows, knowledge shows, specialist and inspirational podcasts available to start your day or keep you motivated.

Flora - Focus app

My hubby uses this lovely app to help him avoid being distracted by his phone at times when he wants to focus.

Plant a seed and it will gradually grow while you focus on what's important. Resist using your phone and see your tree grow and thrive!

Bonus print

I take a million photos on my phone and although I upload them to a drive regularly, I've wanted to find an easy way to print photo books for ages.

I dread the idea of sitting down at a computer and putting together elaborate books, but then I discovered this app and used it to pull together a quick book of our holiday snaps. It was really easy to do and within a week of returning we had a lovely book of memories.

All I need to do is go back over previous trips and do the same!

SimpleMind app

If you love a good mindmap, you'll love this app. Mindmaps are great for creating and remembering all sorts of plans, notes and ideas in a visual format.

I love that I can now create mindmaps on my phone. They are crisp, easy to manage and flexible so I can make amendments as I need to.

Stocard

This app really enabled me to significantly reduce the amount of stuff that I carry around with me - I even do away with my handbag on many occasions.

I store my store cards and most membership cards including National Trust and the library on the app. Now I have all the cards I need, even if I'm visiting a shop I rarely go to. If it has a barcode or a QR code it can be saved - you can even add a photo to easily identify it in your app.

I have found that some stores scanners don't always like the phone screen but you can always key in your card code manually.

Between this and Apple pay it's now really easy to travel light and still have all the cards I need whenever I need to!

What do you think?

Do any of these sound helpful for you? Are there any other Apps you've tried and love? Share your experience with our community in the comments below!

Would you like help getting organised?

OrganisedWell is Laura Williams. Read more About Me or How I can help you to manage your possessions and get better organised.

An Organiser’s guide to surviving the school holidays

Does the thought of the school holidays fill you with dread?

Do you remember when you couldn't wait to finish school and have the summer ahead of you?
Hanging out with friends, long summer days and doing whatever you fancied. No teachers telling you what to do and only a little homework to do, which you left until the week before you went back. Oh the freedom!
Then we grew up and had children. Now we have all these responsibilities!
Summer holidays means juggling all the usual, plus extra childcare, trips and family activities! It can feel impossible to get it right and satisfy everyone.
So let's just keep it simple! Here are a few ideas for a calmer summer.

1) Don't stress too much about your home

I think I'm supposed to suggest that the school holidays are the best time to have a really good sort out, but frankly, who wants to be doing that when you'd rather be spending time with family, friends, or outside (hopefully enjoying nice weather), when you're not at work!

If you have time and can get your children involved, the holidays are a good opportunity to engage your children in some decluttering and organising because you all have the time and may be open to using some of it exploring old possessions and having a fun tidy. The good weather, fresh air and outside play may motivate them to free their inside space of old toys, books, games and stuff cluttering up their room.

Older children may also appreciate the opportunity to prepare a calm, orderly environment to support them when back to their studies.

My previous blogs give you ideas on how to approach Organising with your children and on Organising children's things.

If this isn't for you, that's ok. Don't worry about it. The family are likely to be outside quite a lot during the summer so you will all be less encumbered by your stuff.

Maintain as best you can during this time.

Recycle unnecessary paperwork as it comes in and donate any unused items as you spot them. Tidy out kitchen drawers and cupboards or sort wardrobes in preparation for new school uniform and autumn clothes.
You can recover after the holidays are over and you get back to normal routines. Perhaps you can get someone to take family out so that you can have a good sort out then. September is often a good time to reclaim control of your home and use the inspiration have gained from outings or hotel stays, to motivate you to make changes at home, in preparation for the autumn and Christmas.

2) Plan where you can

Getting organised in advance will take a little of time before hand but will be well worth the investment.
I've talked before about planning your week and creating meal plans before. It can really help you feel better prepared, have everything you need and have a smoother week. A shared wall planner (or electronic calendar) also helps everyone understand what's happening.
I'd advocate doing the same for the holidays - you don't have to stick to the plan but if you list the places you'd all like to visit, or things to do, this enables you to make time for these (don't forget chill out time too!). Make the most of any discounts and to prepare outfits (hello washing mountains!) and meal plans so that you don't need to think about meals and food shopping on the fly.

3) Get away

If you are planning on going away, whether abroad or in the UK, you can make life easy for yourself by using checklists to help manage your packing.

There is nothing worse than getting to your destination to find you only brought 17 sets of left contact lense (yes we've done that!).

Checklists may seem a bit over-kill but are a must have to save so much time and stress. It makes shopping and packing easy and you have the time and head space to get prepared!

I have friends who have honed their checklists, making packing a quick and easy task. They keep their lists packed away with the suitcases ready for future trips.

We do the same for camping gear making it so much easier to just throw everything in the car and escape for the weekend without worrying we've left things behind.

If self-catering or camping in the UK, meal planning before you go is so helpful. You can arrange a grocery delivery or visit a local supermarket and have everything for the week. Not only does it help you budget, ensure that you have meals that everyone will eat, but it's is a great way to make the most of picnics opportunities. It also takes the hassle out of dinner preparation and you can pack any extra bits you need to prepare a meal (such as special pan, ingredient or recipe).

Top 5 packing tips:

  1. Pack bags by person or categories so it's easy to find things when you arrive (e.g. chargers, medication, games, clothes beach items)
  2. Use smaller bags inside your suitcase or bag to manage groups of items (e.g. chargers, shoes, toiletries & bottles)
  3. Fold items that go together to make up outfits together so that you can easily bottoms and matching tops
  4. Pack smaller items into hollow items (e.g. socks into bras, pants into shoes)
  5. Nominate a responsible person who carries the bag with all essentials for the trip - tickets, money, keys, cards, important documents, chewing gum/sweets, hand gel, tissues, etc

My Packing Essentials checklists are perfect for making packing easy-peasy whilst ensuring that you don't forget those essentials.

I've created three tailored for different trips; camping, travel abroad and in the UK.

Seven ideas to create that holiday feeling at home

As I ponder our recent holiday, I wonder whether you can have this feeling all the time.

Is it possible to take the pressure off and rid yourself of distractions all the time? I think it may be. Here are my 7 ideas to help you create that holiday feeling at home.

I’m very lucky, last week I
took the opportunity to write this blog post in a little cafe with a fabulous seaside view! I reflected on our week and the fun we’d had but also felt a tiny pang of dread as a I realised that we’d soon have to return home. Here’s what I had to say…

Holidays are a fabulous opportunity to put aside valuable time with the family and make space to relax.

Clutter free

It’s been wonderful to have a little break away, to be able to kick back and relax together, but you know that feeling when you have to go home to normality. They’ll be no food in, a mountain of washing and plenty of jobs to do around the house and garden. And that’s before even thinking about the busy week ahead at work and at home.

It sounds strange but I’ll miss our holiday accommodation. We stayed in a gorgeous house, decorated simply and we only took the clothes and toilettries that we needed. It was cosy but calm. I love holiday accommodation because there is no clutter, no paperwork, no jobs that needed doing, and no toys and stuff to clutter up the space or make you feel disorganised or distracted.

Space to be…

Time away creates the time and space to relax. To play games as a family, spend leisurely mealtimes, read and enjoy ourselves without pressure. I’d planned all of our meals so apart from cooking and cleaning up afterwards, there was no pressure to tidy and no clutter to distract us. I had time to do the things that I valued with my favourite people.

As I sit drinking my lemonade, I wonder: what can you do to create this ‘holiday’ feeling at home? To remove the clutter, the excess and the pressure to free up time and head space?

Here are some of my seven ideas to create that holiday feeling at home!

  1. Designate weekends as holiday time – do as much of the washing and cleaning activities as possible before Saturday morning. Schedule washing loads (Tuesday is dark load, Wednesday towel load, etc) and cleaning tasks for evenings during the week
  2. Do food shopping during the week or arrange for a delivery on a Friday night (the cheapest time of the week for many delivery services)
  3. Have staples delivered regularly so you don’t need to think about buying them (here are a few companies that I love – other suppliers are available!)
    1. Milk and More – a milk delivery is better for the environment and takes the headache out of ensuring a regular supply of milk (includes non-dairy too)
    2. SMOL will deliver washing and dishwasher tablets according to your usage levels
    3. Amazon deliver eco-friendly toilet rolls, liquid soap refills, fabric conditioner and other household products
    4. Abel and Cole – get fresh fruit and veg delivered weekly so you don’t have to think about it. You know what you’re going to receive so can meal plan each week
  4. Focus on making your living areas (kitchen, lounge, dinning room) into your holiday home. Think like you were on holiday what would be the minimum furniture, equipment and possessions you’d need? Anything you identify as not needed for your holiday home can be sold, donated or recycled
  5. Make it a rule that the dining room table is left clear after meals so that you always have space to play games, draw, bake or do crafts
  6. Create storage for items that are needed for work or school in the hallway. This is the ideal spot to store bags, coats and shoes that you will need the following day
  7. Switch off phones, tablets and TV for an agreed period of time. Technology is a huge distraction, emails, social media, news app, etc, they are all designed to keep you interested. Physically removing your tech gives you the opportunity to unplug and focus on your family or just sit and be.

Try this a at home

If you like what you’ve read and try some of these out at home, do let me know how you get on! If you want to revamp your hall storage, I’ve collated my favourite storage products to save you time. Click here…

And don’t forget, I’m here for you if you want help with reviewing or organising your things, your diary or your routine.

About OrganisedWell

Would you like help getting organised?

Laura Williams, Founder and Professional Organiser

If you need guidance, ideas and practical support to make more of your home, organise your possessions in a way that supports your best life or to get started with your decluttering project, then give me a call.

I provide tailored advice and practical support to clients looking to make changes, to create calm, ordered space and free up time and money to focus on the important things in life.

I specialise in organising rooms, garages, wardrobes, paperwork and much more; see my services or get in touch.