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Weekend Reading List // 3.

February 26, 2016

WEEKEND READING LIST_3

Are you a creator or consumer? (via Storyline Blog)

Great advice – don’t organize more. (via Psychology Today)

Do you use any of these blogging tools? (via Rising Tide Society)

Oh my goodness, I love reading about this challenge. Could you could every single meal from scratch for a month? (Confession: At this particular juncture in life…I’m not sure I could – unless the rotisserie from the deli country counts??) (via Epicurious)

I am working to organize our massive photo collection (s?). Tips, anyone? Eventually, I’ll try to write up a post detailing this torturous process, but until then, check this great list of tips out. (via Tested.com)

I am collecting gorgeous, whimsical wrapping paper so that I can do this to all of our drawers and shelves. Nesting overkill? Probably. (via In My Own Style)

Happy weekending!

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On Everyday Rituals.

April 14, 2015

The Orange Slate | On Everyday Rituals4

The Orange Slate | On Everyday Rituals3

It’s early morning. The sky is beginning to groggily make its way to light and I’m waiting on my French press. Coffee is such an important morning ritual for me. I just need a couple of minutes of silence and my cup of coffee and I can take on the day. Most mornings find me up just a few minutes before Mark and Miles so I can embrace this simple thing.

Rituals are funny, aren’t they? They’re the tiniest pieces but when they’re missing, the whole day feels like it’s been thrown off, like our world is rocking. Rituals are more than routines – routines, to me, are just what we are used to doing, the rote of everyday. Rituals are those gems that we relish in the midst of the ordinary chaotic mundane, those comforting signposts that whisper “Everything will be ok.”

I can think of a few more for myself. When I was working long hours on the Hill, I would start my day with a few minutes of reading every morning – nothing terribly remarkable, just whatever book I was working my way through at the moment.

The Orange Slate | On Everyday Rituals2

In college, I would read something for a few minutes before going to sleep – something purely for fun (no assigned reading allowed).When my family congregates in San Diego for reunions, we always get donuts from the same shop on the corner. I have no idea whether their donuts actually taste better or worse than any others nearby. The donuts from the Vietnamese take-out shop are in a class of their own, rendered sacred by decades of repetition.

Motherhood brings it’s own set of (ironically ever-changing) rituals with it. There was the nursing ritual when Miles was brand-new – the frequent fill-water-glass-latch-baby-rock-gently while listening to the gentle clicking of infant nursing. Now we have bedtime rituals – a bath, books, songs, a prayer, more nursing.

Marriage, like motherhood,  –  has its own set of rituals, those quiet stakes you hold on to as you’re carving one life out of two. Mark and I don’t put a ton of effort into formal fancy dates, but on the weekends or when we travel, we love to sit outside and drink coffee in the morning. Walking has been one of our rituals. – so many walks. Beach walks and walks in the woods and walks in whatever city we’ve found ourselves in.

Certain shows have become rituals  – Friday Night Lights, Downton Abbey. We try to go to bed at the same time as each other  – it doesn’t work every night between homework and work and baby’s schedule, but it’s more the rule than the exception.

Having a baby makes me think a lot more about rituals, since babies basically measure their whole day in routine. But rituals keep serving the same purpose for adults. Without my rituals in place, I’m as cranky and out of sorts Miles without his bath and story. When my rituals are in place, I’m calmer, I’m happier, I have more breathing space to be creative and give my best. (For more on this, I highly recommend Margin, a book that substantially altered the way I handle time and commitments when I read it in college.)

Part of this could be a planner-personality-problem. I’m sure those who tend toward planning hold on to more routine. But I would venture to guess that all of us, even the most spontaneous and unplanned among us, have a ritual or two.

So what are your rituals, those pieces of your everyday that you cling to, that you build around, that you miss? It’s good sometimes to shake out our days and identify those markers of sanity and calm. Find them. Write them down. Treasure them. (And if you’re willing, share in the comments. I’d love to hear about yours.)

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Life

Steps to Simplicity #1: Declutter

July 30, 2011

During a past move, I stored a large stack of miscellaneous papers in a big binder, promising myself that I would go through the papers soon. Soon turned into several weeks. Finally, one weekend, I went piece by piece through the binder finding, to my amazement, that almost every single piece of paper was useless.

By the time I actually looked through the papers, the majority of those “just-in-case” and “maybe-I’ll-need-that later” scraps had become irrelevant.

We all have those piles of clothes we’ll wear someday, events we’d like to go to if we get time, papers we’ll sort through one day.

But there is something very freeing about realizing and acknowledging that someday, for most of our clutter, will never come. Give yourself permission to sort through that stack and aggressively prune all of those scraps from your calendar, your closet, and your desk.

If it doesn’t contribute to your vision, it might be time to toss it.

Steps to Decluttering
 
1. Make a pile. This pile might be clothes, miscellaneous possessions, papers, even events on your calendar. But seeing all of the clutter physically in one place will help you force yourself to sort through it.
2. Sort through the entire pile, piece by piece, separating everything into one of three categories (a “keep” pile, an “action” pile, and a “throw” pile).
3.Put everything in the “keep” pile back in its appropriate, permanent place. This might involve filling papers, entering events into your calendar, or refolding your winter clothes.
4. Throw away everything in the “throw” pile.
5. Take action on every single thing in the “action” pile. Mail the cards, take the clothes to the Goodwill, and repair that broken item. If you decide the action required isn’t worth the effort, throw the item away.

Decluttering is the first step towards simplicity. Hungry for some more help? Marie Kondo’s book on the power of tidying was an encouragement to me.

You can receive all of the posts for this series as they are published by signing up here.

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Life

The Attack of the Refrigerator

July 13, 2011

Sometimes certain tasks just demand action. Our refrigerator was in desperate need of attention. New arrivals to the house, move-outs, a power outage, and a few barbecues had taken their toll. The refrigerator was too full to clean, but not clean enough to continue filling.

My roommates and I went to work. We followed the steps below and two hours, some water, and a bit of bleach did the trick. Our fridge is sparkling clean. Furthermore, we now have plenty of space for new groceries. When was the last time you cleaned your fridge?

1. Remove everything. Everything. Every bottle, every jar, every bag, every package. It may be easier to do this in sections. We did the freezer, then the door, then the main section. Finally, remove all fridge-components that come out. These will generally include the vegetable and cheese drawers.

2. Throw out food. Be merciless. Check expiration dates. If it's expired, throw it. If it's open and no one has used it in a month, throw it. If no one claims it, throw it. Less food will ultimately be wasted if you de-clutter the fridge now.

3. Scrub. Using a sponge, soap, and water, scrub the fridge clean. Aggressively attack stains, scum, and crumbs. Wash the removable drawers and trays as well.

4. Bleach. Using a spray that includes bleach, spray the inside of the fridge and the removable components. Let the bleach sit for a few minutes and then scrub the surfaces again. Finally, wipe the surfaces dry.. Be sure to clean every surface, including the bottom-side of shelves and the inside of the containers.

5. Replace the pieces, shelves, and food. Logically organize the food so that you can easily find things. Bigger items fit best in the back. Small items should be placed so that they do not disappear into the depths of the back.

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Life

Some Organizing Ideas

May 14, 2011

I love reading about organizational methods, tricks, tips, and tactics. I aspire to be one of those completely organized people to whose madness there is perfect method. My madness is still, well, just plain madness most of the time. Even my greatest achievements in the field of organization are often short-lived at best.

There are, however, a couple of steps I've taken that have consistently made me more organized, less crazy, and overall more effective.

  • Rising early. During the work-week, I get up between 5:30 and 6:00. On the weekends I'm not quite as ambitious, but I do try to be moving by 8:00 or 8:30 at the latest. Extra time in the morning allows me to enjoy an established, leisurely routine rather than frantically rolling out of bed and dashing out the door. Additionally, quiet time alone in the morning allows me to muster my mental and emotional forces and meet the rest of the day (and all of the people that I encounter) with energy, enthusiasm, and focus rather than with irritation and frustration.
  • Lists. I haven't mastered a perfect method for lists yet, but I do make them. All the time, and everywhere. Post-it notes are probably not the ideal form for effective lists, but my random and colorful post-it notes scattered across desks, walls, and mirrors have consistently kept me on track, both at home and at work.
  •  The ground level. I have an ideal level of cleanliness, the one I achieve once a week for an hour after I have attacked every nook and corner of my house. But then I have the realistic clean. When this slides during the week, so does my sanity. I have discovered that I need to maintain a certain level of tidiness in order to be happy, productive, and un-stressed. Not perfection. Just a reasonable environment. Find out what this level is for you and then maintain it. Knowing the level of tidiness at which you are productive and effective allows you to prioritize better.
  • E-mail drafts. Saving lists, memos, blog drafts, and a host of other random things to my e-mail account has saved me countless hours. I even e-mail myself important documents and files "just in case" I ever need them when away from my computer.

What is your best organizing trick?

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Career

It’s the Little Things…

June 19, 2010

It's the little things in life that count. Like an organized inbox. E-mail accounts can spin out of control if left to their own devices. My own was becoming overwhelming. As of yesterday I had 150 "new" messages, all of which were over a week old.

There were 54 pages of e-mails, most of which contained at least somewhat relevant records, but the junk was making it difficult to keep track of the important stuff.

It was time to do a little housekeeping. I needed to clear out the advertisements, spam, and automated updates. But who wants to wade through 54 pages of e-mails? So I automated the process:

  • I searched for the e-mail address of the advertisement/spam/automated update in question. This helped me find all the e-mails of any one kind at once.
  • I clicked "Mark All."
  • I clicked "Delete. "
  • I repeated this process until I ran out of junk mail.


Now I was down to 39 pages of mail, but now, at least, most of the e-mails were legitimate records and not useless advertising.

I'm also unsubscribing from automated updates as they arrive. It takes a few seconds, but it should save time down the road.

What did you organize this week?

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