Thursday, April 28, 2011

What is your Energy Formula?

In the May 2011 edition of the Real Simple Magazine the editor's notes introduces the idea that there is a formula that each of us needs to follow in order to stay energized all day. I love this approach to time management. By focusing on what will keep you motivated and energized you will continue to get closer and closer to your goal of freedom.


8 hours of sleep

+ a strong cup of good coffee while reading my daily meditation

+an hour of early morning yoga

+light breakfast followed by a healthy mid-morning snack

+a trip to work with no distractions

+a good laugh

+lunch with a friend

+no boring meetings

+a glass of wine when I get home in the evening

+a planned out dinner with little prepwork

+a nice walk with my dogs and husband in the evening

+a bubble bath or ½ hour of reading with a cup of tea before bed


Here is my formula, I guess it is not too much different than the editor's list. What is on your list?

Monday, April 25, 2011


I recently discovered the Japanese idea of danshari. Although I do not know any Japanese, I understand it to actually be a made up word that combines three separate characters. These characters symbolize the principals behind the danshari philosophy.


Sha- Disposal

Ri- Separation


Simply put, it is the idea that excess clutter weighs you down. This applies not only to physical, but emotional and mental clutter too. Danshari teaches that if you throw away the unnecessary stuff in your life then you will free up more time, energy, and space to live the life that you want. Some have taken this to mean a life of extreme minimalism however I like to think of it as starting point and an inspiration. In danshari, the idea is that clutter keeps you living in the past instead of focusing on what makes you thrive in the present. This has caused me to rethink my relationship with my “things”. Starting with my home and the physical things in it, I began to take inventory. However, instead of asking myself,

What does this mean to me?”

Can I use it?”

I have reworded my questions. I now ask myself,

Does this item help me thrive in my present life?”

Do I need this to reach my current goals?”

By rethinking my relationship with the items I have surrounded myself with, it has become much easier to focus on what I truly want from life. I am also able to set a goal and not get distracted or easily taken off course. It has also made it much easier to dispose of those items that I have been hanging on to “just in case”. It is amazing how freeing it is to get rid of those things that I thought were so important. For example, I have been hanging onto my knitting collection although I haven't actually done anything with it for sometime. I had this huge weight lifted off of me once I just finally got rid of of my knitting bag because the pressure of “getting around to it” was gone. It is very empowering when you are able to gain control over your possessions rather than allowing them to have control over you. I never thought that my things weighed me down but after getting rid of a few things I have found it to be quite freeing and I realized that they were in fact holding me back.

Before I was able to start my inventory I had to ask myself what it was that I truly wanted in my life? This is not a question that I was able to answer quickly nor is it an answer that is concrete. As I continue to grow and discover what makes me thrive, my answer constantly morphs and becomes more refined. I am constantly reassessing my belongings and commitments and see if they still have a vital role in my present life or have they served their purpose. This in no way discredits the significance that this item played in my life nor does it devalue my relationship with the person I associate it with. I have just realized that everything in this world has a “lifespan” and that things don't have a memory, only we do.


I think I am going to stop writing and go “declutter” something, how about you?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Creating a mealplan that works

Nothing is more draining to me than coming home and asking, what is for dinner?   After playing around with a couple different systems I have finally found a meal plan that works for my family.  Using Found Time's method for organizing I have created a plan that combines ease and quickness with a healthy variety of meals.  My first step was figuring out WHY I wanted a meal plan in the first place. What did I like and not like about my current meal habits? What did I expect from my new plan? What new habits do I want to introduce to my family? All of these questions affect the type of plan that I will create. Next, I identified what type of meals my family eats and doesn't eat. Are there any special dietary restrictions or preferences? What about my cooking habits and preferences?

I determined that the main reason that I wanted a meal plan is that I just don't want to figure out dinner every night. I live in a community where the restaurants are much closer than the grocery store and the convenience to eat out is very tempting. Slipping into this habit causing havoc on both my wallet and my waistline and I knew that I had to do something! I also came face to face with one of my weaknesses; I am lazy when it comes to cooking and any excuse that I can come up with to derail myself, I will. I knew that my meals had to be fun, easy and take less than 30/45 mins. The exception to this would be when I use the slow cooker. I do love it when dinner is ready when I get home! Another bad habit that I have to confess is that I tend to skip meals when I am busy; which I know, is detrimental to your health in several ways. In trying to live a healthier lifestyle, I have scheduled healthy snacks throughout the day so that I am able to maintain a consistent level of fuel for my body and avoid spikes in mood and energy levels.

Once I had a good idea of what I wanted I then developed my plan of action. This included taking a look at where I currently stored my recipes, both on and offline, and determining if I was going to continue to maintaine this system. One of the things that has not worked for me in the past is having several online “cookbooks”. I never can collect all the meals that I like from just one recipes site and let's be honest, I have no desires to retype all the recipes into preset fields on a particular site. is a site that I found that allows you to create a unique cookbook compiling recipes from all of your favorite cooking sites. You can then schedule your recipes and create shopping lists.  While I like organizing and collecting my recipes online vs using a physical cookbook collection, I do like to have the recipes I plan to use printed out. I keep them in a binder and store it near the kitchen for easy access. I pull out that week's menu and stick it to our message center on the fridge. This works great for my family because if the menus are easily accessible, then my husband will take turns with the cooking.

With a plan in place I was able to filter through my current recipe collection using the T.I.M.E. Method. I removed the recipes that didn't fit within my set parameters and only stored the ones that represented our new lifestyle and eating habits. I discovered that I really enjoyed cooking “rollover” meals. This is where you cook one large meal and use the leftovers to start other meals that week. By selecting 6 different rollover combos I was able to build a 6 week plan pretty easy. I filled the holes in each week with some family favorites. I had planned to create a longer plan but noticed that we started craving “that one dish” around the 6 week mark. This also fits in nicely with my coupon cycle which is every three months.

No system is perfect. We are constantly evaluating and tweaking our plan. As we try new menus we vote to add to the official cookbook or find something better.


Here is my plan, I would love to know what type of meal plan works for you?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Using the Elfa System in a laundry room

During one of our latest jobs as professional organizers we were asked to re-organize a laundry/ pantry area in someone's home.  When organizing small spaces such as these it is important to maximize your storage space and find solutions that serve two purposes.  After assessing the space and identifying the zones in the room we came up with the plan to use a customized shelving unit. By doing this, we were able to provide shelving from floor to ceiling maximizing our storage space.  There are several different types of shelving out there that can meet any style or budget but the one that we decided to use for this project was part of the Elfa System from The Container Store. 

At first glance, I was immediately impressed with the quality of the pieces.  The walnut stained shelves looked solid and consistent in color and the chrome pieces were heavy.  Although the system came prepackaged with detailed instructions it was fairly easy to just see how the pieces fit together.  I highly recommend having two people work on this project together since most pieces need to be lined up exactly and have even pressure applied when assembling.   Once you have the basic frame in place, the system offers a wide variety of drawers, shelves, and other accessories to meet your needs.  These are easily added by clicking into the pre-existing notches.  With the combination of shelves and baskets we chose we were able to create a workable laundry area that also had plenty of pantry room for surplus food and supplies. 

Overall I would say that the Elfa system is a good pick for someone looking for a ready to assemble shelving system.  The end product not only looked nice but provided a functional workspace for our client.

Be sure to check out before and after pics of this project as well as other useful organizing info at my website

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Using for my meal planning

I have been looking for the perfect meal planning system for several years.  My problem is that I really like collecting menus from several different sites and let's face it, I am too busy to retype a recipe that I found on one site and put it on another.  When it came time to create my menu for the week I needed to look in three different "online cookbooks".  My other option was to print out everything and keep it in a notebook.  This was OK but I really like the idea of a "paperless" system and printing then sorting are just more steps in my process.   That is when I discovered  This great site compiles your recipes in one central location where you can then assign them to a day on your calendar and create a shopping list.   All you have to do is attach the "Save to Mealfire" booklet to your internet browser's toolbar and click it when you find a recipe that you want to save.  It is that easy! 

I love the way I can gather recipes from all my favorite sites with just a click of a button.  I looked into using Google docs, and while I love using Google for most things, I found myself still having to either cut and paste recipes to my docs or maintain a recipe book on each of my 3 favorite sites.  This was not working for me.  Now I collect and plan out my menu on Mealfire and view it on my Google calendar by linking to the URL in other calendars.

Once I have my calendar made I select the meals for that week and head to the grocery.

This handy little tool has saved me huge headaches and I hope it does the same for you.

Happy meal planning!