Category Archives: Tips

Why Sunday Should Be Your Most Productive Day

Why Sunday should be your most productive day

It’s no lie that Friday is probably most people’s favorite day of the week. I mean, TGIF and all! With tax season still in full swing, Friday isn’t the beginning of the weekend for me – that’s Saturday. But don’t get me wrong, I still have an extra pep in my step every Friday. I think it’s just engraved in my brain to love Fridays.

It all started when I was a little girl and Boy Meets World would be on TV. Then came being able to go out with friends on Friday night and sleep overs. I just love those memories.

Now Fridays are just another work day, but I can’t wipe the smile off my face.

BUT… let me tell you what’s slowly taking over as my favorite day of the week. SUNDAY!

Yep, Sunday is becoming my go-to favorite. Maybe it’s because it’s my one day off of work right now. Maybe it’s because J and I get to spend the whole day together. Or maybe, just maybe it’s because I’ve made it the most productive day of the week.

Sunday is my time to get ready for the craziness ahead. Sunday is my day to unwind, relax and rest up for what’s going to happen Monday-Saturday.  That’s why Sunday should be your most productive day.

Here’s my game plan for a productive Sunday:

– We try not to do too many house projects on Sunday. Which is hard right now since it’s are only day off together. But we try really hard to keep the projects small.

– We don’t typically cook on Sundays. Cooking isn’t my favorite and I get pretty tired of it after doing it all week. Sunday is my day-off. We order in or go out to eat.

– We plan out the next week’s meals. I take a look at our calendar to see what we have going on and for the busy nights I like to plan something quick and easy. Then I take stock of what we already have on hand to make my grocery list for Monday night.
Sunday should be your most productive day

– We look at our calendar to see what’s going on. Remember earlier in the week when I shared how we plan out our calendar for next three months? Well planning ahead really comes in handy when we’re getting ready for the week.

– We take it easy. I know I’ve said this before, but Sunday is my one day off of work during tax season so I don’t do much. I like to take naps while J watches football (when it’s on) or while he watches a movie.

– We spend the whole day together. It’s really nice getting to be together and not having to rush from place-to-place. We typically try to stay home as much as possible so we can be with the pups too. They do so good all week, especially Bud since we still kennel him while we’re gone. We like to keep him out and running around as much as possible.

– We catch up on laundry. I’m one of those my-way-or-no-way laundry people. I am very particular about how my clothe
s are done, which is why I’ve been doing my laundry since I was in junior high (I made one rude comment to my mom about how she hung a shirt and it was suddenly was on me to get my clothes done). So, I like to spend Sunday getting the clothes done. Typically J will handle the towels and sheets on Saturday, but we leave the bulk to be done on Sunday.

daily to do list, free printable

– We make to-do lists. I like to take a look at the next week to know what’s going on, but I also like to spend my Sundays making a to-do list for the week. I like to know if I need to make any appointments for me or J, call anyone in particular to wish them a happy birthday or whatever else might need to get done.  If you like my to do list above, click here to download it for FREE!

Sunday is a great time to get ready for the week ahead. You really can take advantage of a quiet day. That’s why Sunday should be your most productive day!

Planning Your Time – 3 Months At A Time

planning your time

If you’re new around here then you probably aren’t familiar with my love of planning.  I’m the girl that has multiple calendars, lists and plans for every part of my life.  It’s how I function and what works best for me.  I like to know what’s going on.  I can fly-by-the-seat of my pants, but only to an extent.  Over the years I’ve found a few ways that have really helped me and our little family stay on track with everything going on.

A while back I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Fun Cheap or Free and came across this great idea – planning your year in advance.  It sounds like a great idea!  Basically, you sit down with your significant other and look at the whole year.  You plan out vacations, birthdays, date nights, holidays, and more for the entire year.  I tried doing it last year, but found I was lacking in a few areas.  Now, here we are already in 2016 so I came up with my own idea.

I decided we were going to plan our time, but only for 3 months at a time.  You see, if I start planning too far in advance, then plans change and things don’t work out.  What was once a priority doesn’t seem that important 9 months later.  So I have created a quarter-at-a-time plan.

Here’s how planning your time works:

I use Google Calendar for our master family planner and it works great.  I also have my own personal Google Calendar for anything that isn’t family related or for what doesn’t affect J.

For our master planner I share it with J so he can see it, edit it and know what’s going on.  That way we can access it from the computer or our phones, whichever is on hand.   I also like to add him to any event that I want to make sure he’s aware of – I do this a lot for doctor appointments for our Baby Boy.  That way he gets an email invitation to attend the event and I don’t have to rely on him to actually check the calendar.

The more and more I press using Google Calendar, the more he’s getting better at actually checking it.  He still has his moments where he will commit to something only to find out he should have checked the calendar first.

The first step in planning your time for the next quarter is to setup reoccurring events.

I like to use reoccurring events for anything that happens on a monthly, bi-annually, or annual basis.  That way I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.  It saves a lot of time and stops us from forgetting anything.

Next, we plan out everything for the next three months.

OUT OF TOWN TRIPS:

This is a big one for us.  With his parents living about 2 hours away, we like to go and visit quite a bit.  So we try to schedule in weekends where we can head that way.  It’s great to be able to see which three-day weekends are coming up and plan for us to visit his family then.  That way we get to do something fun and get out of the house for a bit.

If we wait to long to plan these trips then we find ourselves stuck at home a lot more and missing our chance to see family and friends.

We take note of all the three-day weekends coming up in the next three months then decide what do you want to do.  We like to split our time between going out of town and working on projects around the house.

Calendar out any existing travel plans.  I have an annual conference for work that usually happens in June every year so I like to go ahead and plan that out – including my travel days.  I won’t get to go this year since Baby Boy will be a newborn, but I plan on attending next year’s conference and want to make sure it’s noted well in advance.

DATE NIGHTS/ANNIVERSARY

J and I both are not too big on celebrating anniversaries, but we do like to do something small.  Since our anniversary isn’t until November, we don’t typically plan anything until the beginning of October.  That way we can make arrangements for someone to watch the pups if we’re going to be out of town overnight.

With baby boy on the way we know our date nights will soon be changing.  Plus, it’s just the two of us right now so we don’t do a lot of planned date nights.  But we know we will in the future.  We know our date nights will never be anything stellar – probably just dinner and grocery shopping.  But we know we will need to plan these nights in advance because my parents will be watching Baby Boy for a few hours for us.  I know I will need to know what day of the week it’s going to be so my parents can be prepared.

planning your time

BIRTHDAYS

We go through the next three months to make sure we have everyone’s birthday down in both of our family and our close friends.  Here’s where I really rely on setting up reoccurring events in Google.  That way we don’t have to search for birthdays – they simply roll into the next year.  I like to set reminders a few days ahead for the ones we want to buy cards or gifts for so we don’t forget.  You can choose what format you want the reminder in – a text, a pop up or email.  I prefer email so I can get it when I’m read.  That way it doesn’t pop up while I’m running into a meeting and it gets overlooked.

Typically, for our little nephews and cousins we will attend a birthday party – it’s hard to know when it will be a year in advance, but usually a few months before is when we can get an idea of the weekend and mark it down.

HOLIDAYS

Now we go through our Google Calendar to mark any holidays that we will be off work.  Neither of us gets all the federal holidays off work, so it’s nice to know which ones we will be working and which ones we get to take it easy for.  Also, J’s work sometimes switching the days – meaning he may work the holiday, but get off another day in exchange.  I like to take note of all of these so we can plan any trips or home projects.

We also switch Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families so by planning a few months ahead of schedule then we can know where we’re going to be.  We usually do Christmas with my family in even-numbered years and with his family in odd-numbered years.  We didn’t plan for that to happen, but after our first year together we decided driving across the state wasn’t worth it.  We didn’t actually get to spend any quality time with any family – it was a bummer.  So now we switch off.

how to spend your tax refund

FINANCIAL REMINDERS

Being a financial advisor has some perks and working in accounting office means I never forget to file our taxes.  So I don’t typically plan compiling our tax return information.  I usually keep it at the office and have it on hand whenever I need it.  But I do plan to check our credit reports and credit scores once a quarter.  I like to add it to our calendar and setup a reminder so I do not forget to run the report.

Make sure you stay on top of your finances with a quarterly credit report.

You can check your credit report for free, too!  Don’t miss a chance to keep your finances in check!

HEALTH REMINDERS

I also like to add reminders to schedule any doctor appointments or exams that we need to do.  I do this for all of our doctors’ appointments – eye doctor, dentist, and anything else I can think of.  If I don’t schedule a reminder then I will forget to make the appointment, then I will wake up one day and will have no contacts left and be miserable until I can get in to see the doctor.  So I avoid all of the necessary glasses-wearing days by scheduling reminders.  I usually do this at the beginning of each month (whatever doctor appointment is needed that month) so I can plan around my schedule instead of having to be fit in.

merelynne

DOG APPOINTMENTS

This category kind of goes along with the health reminders, but it’s for our pups.  I like to schedule the monthly heart worm pill reminder, vaccinations, and even grooming appointment reminders.  It’s important to me to keep our dogs healthy and happy.  So I treat them like family and make sure they never miss their monthly pills or any vaccinations.

MISC. EVENTS

This category is kind of my catch-all for events that don’t really fit anywhere else.  This is what I call, not-normal or reoccurring.  For example, I am getting ready to take a photography class at the local college.  It is only four weeks long and one night a week – so I will add it to the calendar, but it isn’t going to be an annual event or something that occurs next month.

Plus, I also have a few childbirth classes and an epidural class coming up.  J has to attend the childbirth class with me so I went ahead and scheduled in the four week class and shared it with him.

Also, J is on a bowling league that meets every Tuesday night.  It’s not an out-of-town trip, but it’s still an activity that we both need to be aware of.  These are the nights I like to plan easy-to-prepare meals so we can eat and go because the bowling alley is about 30 minutes away.

Here’s my best tip for planning out the next three months: schedule some home-time.

We schedule weekends to stay home and get things done around the house.

It’s so easy to say yes to family or friends and before you know it, you have zero free weekends one month.  Last year, J and I looked at our calendar and had no weekend home for almost 2 months.  It was too much.  So we actually plan out weekends and projects that we want to stay around the house for.

Miscellaneous events can really fit any other plans you have coming up in the next three months.

By taking a look at the next three months, I’m able to fully see what’s going on.  During tax season (remember I work in an accounting office – our lives are kind of on hold) I work 6 days a week and don’t have time for many doctor appointments or weekend getaways.  So if we have something coming up then I want to know in advance so I can plan my work day around it.  It really helps J and I be on the same page with everything going on.

It may seem a little overwhelming when you lay out everything you have to look at, but it’s not.  It goes by really fast, especially if you’re working together on it.  I would say get in the habit of doing this every three months.  It can really make a difference in your planning your time and give you a chance to actually get things done.

 

How to have a Productive Week

how to have a productive week

Ever have a case of the Mondays?

Nothing is going your way. You just can’t seem to catch up and the thought of getting ahead is probably not going to happen until Friday. Let’s be real – this is not our week.

Well that was me most Monday mornings. I was struggling bad. I would always have these great hopes of kicking the week off with a bang, but then it wouldn’t happen.

Until I changed one thing… one simple thing.

I plan on Sunday nights.  

That’s how to have a productive week.

That’s it. Simple huh?

I take a look at my calendar on Sunday evening while J and I are relaxing in front of the TV. I keep J and I’s calendar on Google – one for my personal events and one for the family and/or J’s events.

I like to take a quick glance at the week ahead to know what I’ll be up against. If it’s a quiet week then I don’t need to do much planning, but if it’s going to be a hectic one then I typically start laying out how it’s all going to go.

Especially with it being tax season, I’m working 6 days a week and it’s really easy to get behind on stuff around the house. I like to plan out when we’re going to go to the grocery store, work on the nursery, meal planning, and what appointments I have at the office.

Meal planning has been such a huge help for J and I lately. I wrote about how we meal plan awhile back (I even have a freebie planner to download), and it’s such a great tool to have. Especially on the nights I have to work late. I can typically plan something easy to make that night and J will have it ready for when I get home.

It’s awesome!

What do you do to get ready for a busy week? I swear by planning ahead on Sunday nights and would recommend it to anyone and everyone!  This is how to plan for a productive week.

Thrift Store and Flea Market Shopping Tips

Thrift Store and Flea Market Shopping Tips

Before moving to our current town, I would scour the local antique malls, flea markets and thrift stores for some really great deals.  Typically, I would buy pieces that I could re-purpose – clothes that I could sew or re-create, furniture that needed a little TLC, etc.  I loved it!  There was nothing better than waking up on a Saturday morning grabbing a big cup of coffee to go and wandering through great finds.

Now that we’re here, there isn’t as many stores that I can get lost in.  There are a few around town and now that we’re expecting our first little one, I’ve decided to kick up my hunting skills.  I’ve developed a few top tips when heading out to a thrift store or flea market.  You need to make sure you’re getting a good deal and not buying something that you will never use.  So…

Thrift Store and Flea Market Shopping Tips

Here are my thrift store and flea market shopping tips to follow:

Make a plan: In college I would wander aimlessly through the stores without a real plan or thought in mind.  I could get away with this for two reasons – I didn’t have a lot of space in my tiny apartment so that would stop me from over buying and second, I didn’t have much money.  Nowadays, I have a bit more room, but I don’t like spending my hard-earned money so I have to create a plan.

I want to know what I’m looking for.  Am I trying to find a piece that will fit above the guest bed?  Am I trying to complete a gallery wall in our family room?  Whatever my goal is that’s what I look for.  I try not to get distracted by items I don’t need.

Don’t buy what you don’t need:  It’s easier said then done.  That really cool purse is only $5 and you can think of 20 different outfits it would go with, but there’s a kicker.  You don’t need another purse that will end up in the bottom of your closet.  You have to be tough when it comes to spending money at the thrift store.  Love a dresser, but have absolutely no where to put it?  Then don’t buy it.

Keep it balanced:  I try to replace items that are falling apart or I get rid of something.  If I’m buying something that’s new-to-me then I like to donate or sell something I don’t use anymore.  That way I don’t become a hoarder and can keep my house clutter free!

Time your trips:  It’s no lie that Spring is the best time to hit up your local flea markets and thrift stores.  You know of a little thing called, Spring Cleaning, right?  Well that’s when people go through and clean out items they no longer need or want.  So it’s a perfect time to do a little shopping.  However, you can always find good deals when you have a careful eye.  I recommend talking to employees at the local stores to find out when they put out new items.

Don’t believe every price you see:  Just because it’s used doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good deal.  You have to make sure you’ve done your homework.  Sure, you can probably look at a pair of shoes that are in good condition to decide if it’s worth the price, but look around before you buy any big-ticket items like furniture.  I like to look at craigslist to see what others are selling a similar piece for or look online to get a good idea.  If it’s not a good deal then pass it up!

What are some of your thrift store and flea market shopping tips?  I’d love to know!

Looking for more budget tips?  Check out here.

How to Rock Your Job Like a Boss

how to rock your job like a boss

With over 10 years of experience, I’ve learned how to rock your job and help you stick around for the long haul.

Between high school, college and now I’ve had a number of jobs.  Now, don’t start thinking that I’ve job hopped over the years.  That’s not true.  I typically stick at a job for well over a year, but I sometimes add 1 or 2 jobs on top of my main one.  You see, I don’t like to sit still and I like to make money.  So I’m willing to bust my butt to reach my goals, which I have to say, are mighty big!  

Over the years I’ve seen co-workers come and go.  I’ve seen bosses get agitated with some characteristics of my fellow co-workers. I’ve created a list and I want to share it below with you.  There are certain things that we all know we shouldn’t do on our job – steal, lie to our boss, procrastinate, etc.  But do we know what we should be doing?  What qualities do we need to possess to be a standout employee?  Well, I’m here to help.

I’ve always tried to put my work first.  Now, don’t get me wrong – if my family or friends really need me then I’ll be there in a heartbeat.  But I like to think that my strong work ethic at the office has helped my bosses to be more understanding when I do need to take off.  I also try to not make a habit of it.

A few years ago I was working in a small attorney’s office.  At the time, it was just the attorney and me.  Now, years later, the attorney has expanded well beyond the two-man operation from when I first started.  That has nothing to do with me, other than the fact that I was willing to help out and was honest when I couldn’t take on more.  Anyways… back to my story…

A few years ago, one of my closest friends lost someone very important to them.  Now they never asked me to attend the funeral.  They knew I was working and had school, they also knew the 6 hour round-trip car ride wasn’t going to be easy with everything else going on.  But I knew in my heart that I needed to be there.  This girl meant the world to me and she still does. So I asked my boss if I could have 1 ½ days off.  He asked why and I could tell he was thinking – this isn’t even a family member why should I give it to you.  But I said one thing that really helped – I understand this is short notice, I will work late the next few days to get caught up and I do not expect to be paid for vacation time.  He looked at me and said if it’s that important then you need to be there.  I can manage for a day without you, but be prepared to work when you get back.  So I left.  I drove 3 hours home, went to the funeral, sat by my best friend and was just present.  

At the end of the day, I drove back and showed up to work on time the next day.  I worked my tail off getting caught up and none of my work slacked in the least.  I proved that I was worth having.  But what I never admitted and was hoping that I wouldn’t have to is that I knew in that moment how valuable I was.  I knew that I was replaceable, but I also knew my friend wasn’t.  So I was willing to take that risk, but by being granted a little freedom and understanding, I was willing to prove him that I was worth keeping.  That’s what you have to do.  You have to be willing to give more than you take.

Let’s face it – employers are looking for key characteristics of a good employee.  

If you have a few qualities that’s good, majority then that’s great, but if you have all of them then you are going to be in a golden position to work your way up.  

Here’s what I’ve noticed over the past ten years as the qualities employers are craving for in their employees:

clock

SHOW UP EARLY – I understand rare mornings happen and your alarm doesn’t go off or the baby was sick and you just couldn’t get there on time, but the majority of your mornings you need to show up early.  I’m not talking an hour early, but a few minutes or so.  I know when I get to the office, I have to turn my computer on, get some water and set my purse down.  By getting there a few minutes early, I can take care of all of that without rushing around.  That way when 8:00 am hits you’re already at your desk ready to work.

STAY LATE – If the work isn’t done then be willing to stay a few minutes late.  It won’t happen every day and it will really show your employer you’re committed.  

I had a job once I loved.  It was hard and challenging, but I loved it.  My boss was great, my co-workers were wonderful and I went to work everyday loving what I was doing.  So on the rare occasion a client’s documents weren’t completed or a client needed a late appointment, I was willing to stick around.  I didn’t do it because I was hourly and liked the extra 30 minutes of pay – that wouldn’t be worth it.  I did it because I thoroughly enjoyed what I did and liked helping.  That’s how it should be.  

BE POSITIVE – No one likes Negative Nancy.  Don’t be a naysayer.  There is nothing worse than someone who complains all. the. time.  Stay upbeat and you will notice how easy it is to hit your goals or how much more willing your co-workers will be to help you out.  You never know – you’re day may actually go by faster, too!

Ask for more work – Once you’ve completed your daily, weekly or monthly tasks don’t just sit around on Facebook.  Reach out to get more.  Try to learn as much as you can because you never know when it’ll come in handy.  Plus, if you’re willing to take on more work to help out then that might cut back the nights you have to stay late.  Just a thought…

TAKE THE INITIATIVE – This quality goes with the one above it – asking for more work.  If you see something that needs to be done then do it, even if it’s not your assigned task.  It’ll keep you busy, help the office and you might just prove yourself a bit, too.  Plus, taking the initiative means not putting something off until the last minute.  There is nothing more frustrating than watching a co-worker be assigned a task to complete by the end of the month.  Here we are on the last day of the month and they are just starting the task.  Then you find out that they can’t complete their assignment because they don’t have all the pieces.  If they would have started 3 weeks ago when it was first assigned, then they would have noticed what all they needed and it could have been ordered.  

Here’s another example of taking the initiative.  I had a job once where the receptionist was suppose to clean while she had free time.  If we were extra busy one week then the cleaning would slack because she would have less free time.  So if I went to the bathroom, I would just grab the cleaner and wipe everything down when I was done.  It took less than 2 minutes and the bathroom was clean for the next person.  Plus, it really helped out the girl at the front desk who was swamped with calls and appointments.  She was instantly my best friend because I was willing to help her.  

man-person-hands-coffee-large

GO ABOVE AND BEYOND – again, show them you’re worth it.  I am a huge believer in NOT doing the bare minimum.  If I want my job to last and I want to prove that I’m irreplaceable then I am willing to take on more work, work harder than anyone else and commit to the company.  

In one job I had worked my way up to be the office manager, which meant I was writing everyone’s paycheck, balancing books, paying our payroll taxes, ordering supplies, managing and training the staff.  However, the office needed more.  The staff was behind and we needed help with drafting documents.  So instead of saying, “sorry, that’s not my job anymore.”  I figured out a way to help.  I took the smaller cases aways from the paralegals so they could spend more time on the bigger, more complicated ones.  It was hard and I was stressed some days, but being able to help out was so much more important to me.

BE WILLING TO LEARN – The first thing you have to realize in any job that you take on is that you don’t know everything.  With that in mind, you have to be open.  You have to be willing to try new ways of getting the job done and finding better solutions.

BE WILLING TO TAKE CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM – I used to be the first one to become defensive when I just felt like I was going to be criticized.  It’s a hard pill to swallow to find out that the work you did isn’t good enough or right.  It’s rough.  But to grow as a person you have to be willing to take criticism.  Now, I am NOT talking about destructive, down-right mean criticism.  I’m talking about listening and learning from someone that is willing to help you grow.  

One really standout way to take constructive criticism is by taking notes.  In the moment, I may not be thinking clear because I’m trying to still defend why I completed those actions.  So by taking notes then I can process everything on my terms.  Plus, it’ll help me the next the situation comes up because I can refer back to what was suggested to me.  It shows the boss (wo)man that you’re really invested in getting better and are willing to learn.

BE OKAY WITH GRUNT WORK – Let’s go back to the time I cleaned the bathroom to help out.  Now, it wasn’t the only time I helped clean that office nor was it the only job I had that I cleaned at.  I remember working at Office Depot my first few years in college.  I liked it for the most part, but my least favorite task was cleaning the bathrooms.  Disgusting.  But it was a task that rotated between staff members so when it was my turn, I would roll up my sleeves and do the best job I could.  

I knew that job and that task wasn’t forever.  And I also knew that I wasn’t too good to scrub a toilet.  I was not raised to think that something was beneath me, so I gave it my all.  You have to be will to scrub a few toilets (figuratively or literally speaking) to get ahead.  What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.

Startup Stock Photos

BE A TEAM PLAYER – you have to be willing to put the company’s well-being above your own.  Now I’m not suggesting you lie, cheat or steal to help the company, but what I am saying is pitching in to help out.  At my current career (I say career and not job here, because this is what I will be doing for the rest of my life) we have quotas to hit. So, as a team we help each other reach our individual quota. If I’ve hit mine then I ask who needs help and vice versa.  That’s they way it’s suppose to be.  If we each hit our quota then we win individually (a nice little bonus!), but if we help the office reach the overall goal then the office does better, which we will see a benefit from in the long-run.

Like I said earlier, you have to have some of these qualities to be successful at any job.  I used a lot of office-type jobs in my example, but I’ve done most types of jobs.  The only one I haven’t done is food.  Well, I worked at an ice cream shop and snow cone stand one summer, but that’s the closest I’ve come to food.  I’ve worked at several different types of retail stores and office jobs, but they all have one thing in common to be successful.

You can check out my other career tips here

You have to be willing to work hard, show up and get the job done.  This is how your rock your job like a boss!

5 Habits to Become More Organized

Business owners, household leaders and those who are generally busy from day-to-day need to stay on top of their to-do lists.  Women offer wear many hats through out the week – boss, employee, wife, mother, sister, daughter, grocery buyer, dinner maker, house cleaner, driver, etc.   So how do these wonder women stay on their A-game?  They stay organized.

5 habits to become more organized

You have to build good and consistent habits to stay organized.  Organization doesn’t come naturally to most people.  Over the years, we develop systems to help.  Here are my top 5 habits to become more organized and stay organized!

1. Organize your mornings.

Before you go to bed, look at your day ahead.  Make sure you’re ready for what’s coming at you.  Lay out your clothes, plan a filling breakfast and make sure your everything your kids will need is ready for an easy morning.  Wake up early so you can have a little downtime before the day begins.  Make your bed.  It’s crazy how the simple task of making your bed can help your whole day get off on the right foot.

2. Organize your time.

Know where you’re spending your time throughout they day.  Time is valuable, so don’t waste it.  Organizing your time will you give more freedom to do the things you enjoy doing.  Map out your day from beginning to end.  It will help you not to feel stressed or forget to get something done.

3. Organize what is important to you.

Make what you enjoy doing a priority.  Ensure anything that’s important to you is mapped out on your calendar.  Whether it is going to the gym, attending every single soccer your game your little girl is playing in, or anything else.  You need to identify what’s important to you and then make it a priority.

4.  Organize your home.

You can waste a lot of time for searching for your car keys every morning.  So have a spot for everything and put everything in it’s place.  It will cut down on time and stress.

5.  Organize your work.

Keep a daily to-do list of at least three things you need to get done.  That way you won’t overwhelm yourself and you can stay focused on what’s needed for the day.  Before you leave for the day write down your top three for tomorrow.

5 Tips On Getting More Organized {Today}

I’d love to share my tips on getting more organized with you.

When I was younger and all the way through college my room always looked like a tornado tore through it.  Clothes on the floor, books on the bed, shoes everywhere.  I was a mess.  Now I will note this by saying I was not dirty.  Dirty dishes belonged in the kitchen sink, not in the bedroom.  I believe there is a huge difference between being messy and being dirty.

One aspect about myself is that I had this organized chaos going for me.  Almost always I would know exactly which pile my class notes were in or where I took off those shoes that I had to wear that night.  But I still looked unorganized.

As I’ve gotten older, married, and started my career I have found that I do not have time to be messy.  Plus, J really gets bothered by my pile system.  I was surprised he called me after our first date because it was laundry day for me and I had clothes everywhere in my bathroom.  Poor guy didn’t know what he was getting into when he asked to use my restroom before leaving.  I’m pretty sure he had to step on clothes to even get into the bathroom.  I was mortified and was sure I probably wouldn’t hear from him again… BUT I was wrong.  He texted, we started dating and are living happily ever after.  But I digress.  He really, really hates living in a messy house.  So, I have developed new systems and ways of staying organized.

Tips On Getting More Organized
Here are my no-fail tips on getting more organized.  The best part about them? They are super easy to follow and you can start today.  Not tomorrow or next week, but today.

Tip One: have a gathering spot for any monthly bills.  J and I have one drawer in our kitchen that is for monthly bills.  Every bill is opened and placed inside the drawer.  We pay our bills twice a month – on payday.  So every time we go to pay bills we open the drawer look at their due dates and pay what we can/have to.  Then any unpaid bills are put back in the drawer until next payday.  Bonus: place your checkbook, envelopes, pen and stamps in the drawer.  Everything is in one spot and easy to take care of.

Tip Two: Schedule your week out before it starts.  I love my new planner and every Sunday I spend 5-10 minutes to look at the week ahead.  I make sure we know of any appointments for  us or the dogs that are coming up.  We plan time with our friends and family then we schedule time to workout and eat right.  I live by my planner so for me it’s our family’s lifeline.  If you don’t spend a few minutes organizing your week before it starts then things you want to do and need to do will just slip away.

Tip Three: Plan at least 3 meals each week.  Think about three meals (the whole meal – entree, side dish, etc.) that you can have this next week. Make sure you have the ingredients or buy them during your weekly trip to the grocery store.  That way on the nights you don’t want to cook or are tired, you don’t have to think too much about it.  You know you have the ingredients for three whole meals that you want waiting for you.  Plus your spouse/roommate can help you out by getting it started before you get home.  If we know what we’re having then J usually will defrost the protein, start grilling, and have it mostly ready by the time I get home.  Then all I have to do is make the side dish and put the finishing touches on.  Teamwork is the best.

Tip Four: The basket routine.  Because J hates my pile system and I have learn to not like it as much, I have developed a new system.  Meet the basket routine.  Every few days I walk around the main living areas of our home with an empty laundry basket in tow.  I gather anything that doesn’t belong in that room.  Shoes, jackets, dog toys, necklaces (because I have a tendency to leave those laying around), etc.  Then once the family room and kitchen are back in order I walk through the rest of the house emptying the basket.  I usually only have to make one trip around the house and in less than 10 minutes my house is straightened.

Tip Five: Two Chores every two days.  Some others out there like the one chore a day technique.  That’s too much for me.  There are some days I want to come home and lay on the couch while watching TV.  I don’t want even want to think about cleaning something.  So instead I space it out a bit more.  Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday I clean.  Typically I clean at least two things those days.  It doesn’t seem to be such a daunting task by having a day off in between and it’s not as overwhelming by only having two tasks to do those days.  Here’s the breakdown:

Tuesday: dust the furniture and wipe down the kitchen

Thursday: vacuum and sweep the kitchen

Saturday: bathroom and clean mirrors

Now I wipe down the counters after cooking every meal, but on Tuesday I really spend some time scrubbing the countertops, wiping out the microwave, etc.  Plus I steam clean our carpets about once every other month and I tend to do that chore early Saturday or Sunday mornings.

Simple and super easy tips on getting more organized that you can start {TODAY}.  So what are you waiting for?  Get started.  Living a more organized life is really satisfying.  Plus not having a husband moan about your clothes on the bed is really peaceful.

What are you tips on getting more organized?  I’d love to read about them.  Go ahead and leave me a comment.

 

My Personal Branding Statement

personal branding statement
I was following Jill Celeste’s 21-Day Personal Branding Challenge and one of the tasks was to create a personal branding statement.  Imagine that, huh?  A personal branding challenge and a task on the list is to create your own personal branding statement.  I should have seen it coming, but alas I was not prepared.  There were over 21 tasks on the list, but I selected my 21 and then one-by-one started tackling the easy ones.  Towards the middle of April I realized that I had only the more time consuming or difficult ones left.

One being the personal branding statement.

After struggling for a while to come up with anything, I reached out to the challenge’s community.  Someone gave me the best advice with one simple question.  Why?  Why do I want to do what I do?

I sat back and just started asking why… why… Meredith, seriously why?

Then I wrote.  It didn’t make much sense and my brain was all over the place.  But that didn’t matter.

It’s important when writing a personal branding statement to free-think and just allow yourself to brainstorm all the possibilities.  From there you can tailor it down and become more eloquent in your writing.

Here is what I started with:

I want to have a creative outlet for myself.  I have many different areas that interest me and I know that I am not alone in having a craving to learn, share and do more.  I work hard to make the place we live a home with good food, fun projects, and spending time with family and friends.  I want to be a source of ideas for other women when it comes to decorating, personal finance, self-esteem and healthy living.  I want to be open with myself and others about my struggles of my self-image and help others overcome their fears in opening up.

Then I walked away and came back with fresh eyes.  I do believe it’s important to let everything marinate for a bit.  This is your brand, your business, and a simple statement that describes you to the world.  You want to make sure you like the final product and are not rushing it.  The days of rushing through class projects to get them turned in on time are over.  This is real life and real life needs to be better than something that will earn you a B.

Here is my final personal branding statement:

merelynne.com is a creative outlet for other women who have a variety of interests and who crave to learn, share and do more.  merelynne.com is a source to learn fun projects, a place to find good food and a celebration of spending time with others.  It is a go-to place for living an organized life, positive self-esteem tips and healthy living.    

It’s been a few weeks since I have written the statement and I have to say, I still love it.  It hits what I want to be right on the head and it pushes me to strive harder.

10 Ways To Strengthen Your Marriage

There are ways to strengthen your marriage because it should come as no surprise that a marriage takes some work.

10 ways to strengthen your marriageIf it is a surprise then you must be living in a rom-com that has a happily ever after and the credits roll just as the have their grand finale kiss.  Marriage is hard.  It has its good days and its not-so-good days.  We struggle learning each other’s rhythm and thought process.  But in the end it is so worth it.  I have never worked at something like I have marriage and have it be the most rewarding gift I could ever imagine.

We’re not perfect, but to me that’s half the journey.  Lust is something that gives you a high, but love is what you work for, strive for and in the end – what you earn.

 There are proven ways to strengthen your marriage.
ways to strengthen your marriage
Here are my top 10 that we strive for every day.

1) Listen to One Another
2) Learn to Fight Fair
3) Don’t be afraid to pray together
4) Laugh
5) Date like you’re sixteen again
6) Like each other’s friends
7) Don’t pass judgment
8) Have your own life
9) Send sweet nothings
10) Be selfless

I love my husband with all my heart.  There are days that he gives a lot and days that I give a lot, but all that matters is that we give to one another selflessly and with our whole hearts.

The Best Economic DIY Carpet Cleaner That Actually Works

DIY carpet cleanerMy parents bought us a carpet cleaner for my birthday last year and I was stoked.  I guess that’s the true sign you are no longer a child and are a full adult when you are excited over a carpet cleaner.  But hey, with 2 dogs it is amazing.
DIY carpet cleanerTiny really likes the clean carpet and might be a little unsure of why the crazy lady is taking pictures of the floor.
Carpet cleaner solution can get expensive and not to mention the chemicals in the solutions are not ideal if you have small children or are crazy-obsessed with your dogs like I am.  I had to find another cleaning solution before I went broke and made the dogs sick.

I discovered the power of white vinegar.  If you have seen my previous cleaning posts (how to easily clean your microwave and the best stain remover) then you know my love of white vinegar.  So I had a light bulb moment – maybe it would work in the carpet cleaner!  And you know what?  It does!  It works beautifully.  Dare I say better than the fancy expensive cleaners?

Here’s all you need for a DIY Carpet Cleaner:

Fill your tank with warm-hot water; and
Add in 3-5 T. of white vinegar, depending on your tank size

That’s it.  Then steam your carpets like usual.

The carpets will have a nice vinegar smell to them, but that disappears as it dries.  To me it smelled a lot like salt and vinegar chips, but hey! those are my favorite so I wasn’t really complaining.

You could probably add a few drops of essential oil to the solution, but I didn’t really want to mess with it.  The smell wasn’t that strong and it was such a nice day that we had the doors and windows open.
DIY carpet cleanerLet’s do some math, shall we?  I like to have proof that my ideas are valid.

Gallon of White Vinegar – $1 (There are 256 Tablespoons in a Gallon, so you will be getting about 51 uses)
Water from the faucet – $0 (unless you have a separate bill for water, but the charges are trivial)
Total Cost per use: $0.02

Bottle of carpet cleaner – $10.99 (is a 2-quart size, which has 64 Tablespoons, so you will be getting about 12 uses)
Water from the faucet – $0
Total Cost per use: $0.92

As always, test a small area of carpet before doing a whole room to make sure that the vinegar doesn’t have any strange reaction to the carpet fibers.  I had no problems with my carpets or area rugs.