Monthly Archives: August 2012

I Can Do Anything. Not Everything.

I Can Do Anything - Not Everything

This morning I blew off the gym.

Yes. It flies in the face of this advice.

Yes. It was an internal battle waged at 4:45am in the quiet dark.

Yes, I immediately felt guilty, even though I was the one to choose not to go.

But I desperately wanted to write. Hell, I needed to. Because since last weekend I have been in some kind of horrible, self-pitying, paralysed funk. And I don’t know why.

I hate my life,” I’d say to myself. “Surely, this can’t be it? Have I been reduced to a nappy-changing, argument-diffusing, laundry-folding husk of a woman? Really?

And I have sat around, frustrated tears falling down my face, and I’ve done nothing except work on an impressive butt-groove on the lounge.

 

Why?

This is just a guess, but I think I feel so wretched because I’ve once again discovered it is impossible to do everything. And that pisses me off.

But the cold, hard truth is – I can do anything. But not everything.

And this week, instead of embracing that fact and choosing what I do want to achieve, I’ve wallowed in self-pity and done nothing. Like some kind of silent, sobbing protest.

What an idiot. A perfect example of self-sabotage.

I had the self-sabotaging blues.

But I discovered that I was the one who could turn it around. I was the one who could choose to continue feeling terrible, or choose to feel better.

 

How I Beat the Self-Sabotaging Blues

By writing.

Writing is my outlet, my passion, my creative balm. If I don’t do it, I feel… jittery. I have things to share. Things I want to teach. Things I want to learn. And to do that, I write.

By doing something. Anything.

Yesterday afternoon I had enough. Enough wallowing. Enough frustration. So I did a five minute Clutter Bust and breathed an enormous sigh of relief. Unsurprisingly, I felt re-energised. So I did some gardening with the kids. Then I cooked dinner. And suddenly… look at me – I’m a fully functioning member of the human race once again!

By being kind to myself.

I am a rational person. I understand that I can’t do everything. I can’t possibly run a household, care for the kids, write 6 hours a day, be a great wife, cook gourmet meals, get to the gym 7 days a week, keep the house ‘Home Beautiful’ ready, be a good friend, get 7 hours sleep each night, be a good sister, organise daily outings, be perfectly groomed and stylishly dressed and always, always remain incredibly calm.

As much as I want all these things, I tell myself – truthfully – that I can not have them all. Not now. Not all at once. And I say to myself, “Self, that’s OK. In fact, that’s better than OK. That’s life and that’s awesome. Get used to it.”

 

How You Can Beat the Self-Sabotaging Blues.

By Finding Your Passion

What’s your passion? Your creative balm? Your outlet? Find it and make time for it.

You may need to get up a 4:30am, or stay up late. But if it’s a passion – you will find a way. And you will be rewarded.

By Doing Something. Anything.

I know that butt-groove is impressive – but get up and do something. Stop wallowing. Make the phonecall you’ve been putting off. Go for a walk. Do 10 star-jumps and then clean up the kitchen.

Doing something – achieving something – will motivate you. It’s a mind-game, yes, but it helps.

By Being Kind To Yourself.

Look at yourself in the mirror and say, “It’s OK. You can’t do everything. But that’s life and that’s awesome.”

Say to yourself what you would say to a friend if she came to you in tears, feeling the same way. You need to learn to be a good friend to yourself.

 

Do you have trouble accepting the fact you can’t do it all? Tell me I’m not the only one!

 

We know things are out of control – we are living cluttered lives, in cluttered homes, with cluttered minds. But how to change? How to start living a slower, simpler life?
Join the Slow Home BootCamp – a free 20-part email course that will kickstart your Slow Home journey. Learn more and sign up right here.

 

Get Rid of Your Paper Clutter Once and For All – Part 3

get your paper clutter organised

This is Part 3 of the 3-Part series: Get Rid of Paper Clutter Once and For All. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Last week we looked at how to organise and declutter the papers you already have in your home.

How did you do? Did you find it easier than expected? Harder? Are you still battling through?

Don’t give up, sister! You’re nearly there!

Today, I have some tips for keeping on top of the incoming paper and for keeping your filing system organised. If you follow some (or all) of these tips, you will never find yourself elbow deep in paper clutter again.

 

Dealing With Incoming Paper:

  • Sort through it as soon as possible. If you have a designated place for your mail (perhaps the landing strip or your admin area) then make sure you place it there.
  • Even better (but not entirely realistic) is to aim to “touch it once”. That is, collect it from the mailbox, open it, sort it and action it – all in one go. Then you won’t need to worry about sorting, or piles, or holding boxes. It just gets done.

 

Tips for When You Are Sorting:

  • Open everything and sort into categories:
    • papers to be actioned
    • papers to be filed
    • papers to be recycled
  •  Move them to the designated places straight away:
    • paper to be actioned will go to your admin area
    • paper to be filed can be filed immediately or put in a holding box (like I mentioned in part 2, ours is a box)
    • paper to be recycled gets put in the recycling bin

 

Tips for When You Are Actioning:

  • Pay bills as soon as possible.
  • Choose a day each week as your ‘money day’. Use that time to pay or schedule bills, organise the coming weeks’ budget, transfer money between accounts, etc. (This should take you 10 minutes maximum each week).

 

Tips for When You Are Filing:

  • Stick to the one in, one out rule. Filing a phone bill? Then take out the oldest and recycle it. This means you keep 12 months worth at all times and don’t end up with years of paperwork filed away unnecessarily.

 

Some of these tips will suit your needs, others may not. The main thing to remember is that if everything has a place, it is so, so much easier to keep organised.

And, hey! You’ve just eliminated your paper clutter once and for all. Nice work!!

 

Get Rid of the Paper Clutter – Part 2

Get Rid of Your Paper Clutter - Part 2

This is Part 2 of the 3-Part series: Get Rid of Paper Clutter Once and For All.

You can find Part One here, and Part Three will be posted on Wednesday.

After yesterday’s post, you may have felt overwhelmed about clearing the paper clutter. There was a heap of information there, I know! This post – Part 2 – will be much shorter.

The bad news?

While the post is short, the steps you need to take are time-consuming. Depending on the state of your desk/filing cabinet/office/floor, it could take a few hours.

The good news?

Part 1 is where you did all the hard work. This part simply takes a while.

So, grab a drink (again, depending on the state of your files, it may be a cup of tea or a glass of wine!) set aside some time to yourself and let’s get sorting.

1. Clear Some Space

Firstly, create a clear surface.

This could be the office floor, the dining table, your bed. As long as it’s a big, clear space that you can use for a few hours.

This is where you will sort your papers into piles for filing.

2. Grab Your Files

Remember all the papers you collected yesterday? Make sure you have them on hand, as well as anything else that has made its way into the house over the last day or two.

If you have a serious amount of papers to sort, you may want to add this step – in case you get interrupted or overwhelmed:

Grab some scrap paper and tear it into pieces. On each piece of paper, write the category of file and the sub-file type. (If you need reminding, take a look at the list in Part 1 here)

Set these out on your work surface – marking the space for each pile. This way, if you’re interrupted, you won’t lose track.

3. Keep It? Action It? Toss It?

Now the time-consuming part of our program…

You need to pick up each piece of paper and, based on the list of requirements in Part 1 of the series, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it current?
  • Can I get the information online?
  • Do I need this?

Each person has different requirements, so what you keep and what you toss will be slightly different to what I keep and toss. So take the time to really assess what you do and don’t need. And be as ruthless as possible.

As you work through each paper do one of three things:

  • Anything you need to action, put aside. You can work through those later.
  • Anything to file, place in its corresponding pile.
  • Anything to toss – pile it up for shredding/recycling.

4. Sort Your Piles

Once you’ve finished working through every piece of paperwork you have collected, it’s time to put it all in its place.

Anything that needs to be filed should be in its appropriate pile. Pack each pile into the corresponding folder and file them all away in your filing cabinet.

Anything that needs action should be taken to the space specified in Part 1. This could be a folder, a box, a nook. As long as it’s somewhere obvious. You can either deal with these now, or set aside time to do them tomorrow. But don’t wait longer than that – otherwise the clutter will be back before you know it.

Once those things are actioned – file them away with everything else.

Anything left should be recycled. Shred any sensitive information (banking, credit cards, bills, invoices etc) and recycle everything else.

 

5. Marvel

Just how fabulous does that feel? Marvel at yourself for a second, then go and do something more enjoyable…

 

Tomorrow I will look at how to keep your paper clutter under control, as well as answer any questions you might have.

If you do have a question, just leave it in the comments below and I’ll do my best to include it in tomorrow’s post.

Get Rid of Your Paper Clutter Once and For All

get your paper clutter organised

 

This is Part 1 of the 3-Part series: Get Rid of Paper Clutter Once and For All.  You can find Part Two right here. And Part Three right here.

 

I recently recevied an email from one of my loveliest readers, Tam:

“Do you have any tips for organising and filing paperwork? I have a spare room full of all the clutter, bits and bobs and a mountain range of many years of paperwork. I’m freaking out as we move out of our house this weekend and I don’t wanna drag all this with me…

Any advice and tips would be greatly appreciated.”

After a quick survery on Facebook, it seems many of you are battling with the paper clutter too. So I thought I would share with you the same information I shared with Tam.

You Can Get It Under Control!

I used to have piles and piles of papers. Things to action, things to file, bills to pay, bills that had been paid – there was a pile for each of them.

I had no system and even though I thought my piles were straightforward, whenever we had people visit, the piles would inevitably be stacked on top of each other and shoved in the spare room, where they would stay indefinitely. Until, of course, I added another pile to the collection.

Last year, I had had enough. I got stuck in, spent half a day wading through years of paperwork and eventually gained control. And it remains that way today.

So I sent a quick email to Tam, letting her know what steps I had taken to wrestle the paper clutter monster to the ground.

I must admit, when I replied to Tam it was in a flu-induced state of funkery and I’m quite sure much of it didn’t make sense.

But something of use made it through because Tam wrote back the next day:

“Brooke, I did it!!! I’m bloody hungover and my eyeballs are hanging out of my head, but I bloody well got stuck in and got it done…… AND IT’S ORGANISED!!!!

Thank you soooo much for your words of wisdom.
much love and blessings
Tam xx”

 

Tam has given the OK to me sharing her emails with you, and I really want to for one main reason:

I want to help you get rid of your paper clutter and the stress that comes with it. And this week I’ll be running a 3-part series to show you just how I did it.

 

A side note:

Currently, I am not a “scan it and discard the paper” kinda girl. Call me old-fashioned, but I like having my bills on paper and my bank statements too. So if you’re looking for a high-tech solution to solve all your paper clutter troubles – this isn’t it.

Women’s Day has a fantastic post on how to digitise your records here. It’s well worth a read.

 

Getting Rid of Paper Clutter – Part One.

1. Bring it All Together

Go through your home and pick up any paper clutter you see. Any at all. Make sure to check the kitchen (particularly the top of the fridge) and benchtops. Also thoroughly check the office, the desk and any papers floating about in your drawers.

The most important thing is to bring all the paper clutter into one place.

That way, when the time comes, you’ll know what you need to make a space for, and how best to organise it.

 

2. Understand What You Need to Keep

(This list will differ sightly from country to country, and even perhaps state to state. There are also additional considerations if you run a business or have kids. If you have any particular questions – Google it or perhaps ask an accountant.)

When it comes to the paperwork you need to keep, it all falls into two categories. If it doesn’t fit either of these – you can safely recycle it:

  1. Papers to keep on file (this includes identification, mortgage/lease papers, tax information, insurance papers, etc)
  2. Papers requiring action (bills to be paid, forms to be completed, school papers, health receipts to claim, etc)

 

Firstly – Papers to Keep on File

This is a list of papers that need to be kept in your filing cabinet. Papers you may need to refer back to later or to provide when applying for a loan, or a job, or other types of credit.

In general, keep the last 12 months worth of bills, statements and accounts and keep the most recent version of insurance policies and contracts.

Finances

– savings account statements
– transaction account statements
– mortgage papers and statements
– personal loan papers and statements
– credit card statements

Insurances

– health insurance
– car insurance
– home and contents insurance
– life insurance

Superannuation

– one folder per person

Tax

– current tax year (receipts, etc)
– 5 previous years (tax returns, letters, etc)

Utilities – Contracts and Paid Bills

– mobile phones
– home phone/internet
– water
– electricity/gas
– council rates

Health

– a folder per person if necessary

School

– one folder per child

Identification

Warranties

Papers Requiring Action:

This category includes bills that need paying, letters that require sending, forms to complete, school permission slips, medical receipts that you need to claim, etc.

Basically anything that requires an action on your part.

You need to find somewhere specific to keep these. For me it needs to be in plain sight. If I file these “to do” papers out of sight, I am far less likely to actually do anything with them. (And this can mean bills not paid on time, letters not sent, etc).

I have a specific place in our admin area – right next to the computer – that I keep these papers.

Wherever you choose, ensure it is somewhere that makes sense to you. Make sure it’s somewhere that will encourage you to action them regularly.

 

And For the Lazy (Like Me) – A Papers to Be Filed Box:

I am essentially quite lazy and while I understand I should just file my papers once they’ve been actioned, that rarely happens.

So I have a lovely little box next to my computer where I store anything that has been actioned or needs to be filed. I leave it to fill up and then file everything in one go.

It works for me, it looks tidy (being hidden in plain sight) and takes one step out of the process.

 

3. Get Prepared

At this stage you don’t need to sort any of the paper you’ve collected – that part comes tomorrow. Today you are simply getting prepared – so that when you do sort out the piles of papers, you don’t waste time shuffling them around.

Your filed papers should be kept somewhere organised, out of the way and relatively secure.

A one or two-drawer filing cabinet is the best option, but you could also use a collapsible concertina file or archive box. Whatever you decide – it needs to be orderly and easy to access each individual file. If it’s not easy, you won’t use it.

 

Preparing the Filing Cabinet

  1. Invest is some hanging file dividers and manilla folders. They aren’t expensive, are readily available and make keeping the papers in order as simple as possible.
  2. Using the list above, label each hanging divider with one of the category headings and use a manilla folder for each of the relevant subcategories listed below it. (Eg. Label a hanging divider “FINANCES” and individual manilla folders “Savings”, “Transactions”, “Mortgage”, “Car Loan”, and “Visa”.)
  3. Consider if you need any additional folders. If you do, label those too.

I know this seems like a huge amount of information – but don’t freak. All you need to focus on is:

  • gathering your paperwork in one place
  • establishing what records you need to keep
  • buying some folders to store your records
  • preparing them for storage – by labelling a folder for each type of record

If you can do these four things, you are more than halfway to getting your paper clutter organised. Nice one!

Tomorrow we’ll roll up our sleeves and sort those piles out once and for all.

 

Do you have a paper filing system? Or do you like to keep everything digital these days?

Lessons on Happiness – From a Pain in the Arse Teenager.

pain in the arse teenager
{Yep. That’s me.}


One of the most important memories I have of being a teenager involves my Dad and I.

But first, let me preface this by saying I was a shit of a teenager. I was angsty, moody and arrogant. I did well at school, didn’t misbehave much, hell, I was even school captain.

But that didn’t stop me being a basketcase. I’d fly off the handle, had more than one screaming match in the playground and the temper on me was… abundant.

I was also ridiculously sensitive, introverted despite evidence to the contrary, a bit boy-crazy and constantly felt misunderstood.

Ugh. What a pain in the arse I was.

(I am also acutely aware that many people I went to high school with are reading this. Hi guys. Sorry I was such a nutter.)

 

But I digress…

It was after one of my not-uncommon outbursts – possibly boy- or frenemy-related – that my Dad sat me down for a talk.

I was expecting a firm verbal smackdown. I certainly deserved one. But I got much more than that:

“Do you know what the most important lesson I’ve learnt is?” he asked.

“Uhh…” I thought it was a trick. My Dad is a high-achiever. He’s studied at Harvard, ran large corporations, he’s the guy anyone wants in a crisis. How the hell could I, a 15 year-old smart arse, know anything?

“You choose how you’re feeling. And you choose how you behave.”

“But… ” I wanted to interject with an excuse. To blame someone else for my over-reaction. To justify being a shithead.

“No. It’s as simple as that. You are in control of how you feel and you are in control of how you react. You cannot blame anyone else for that.

“You are choosing to be angry. You are choosing to be upset. You are choosing to lash out. You are choosing to be unhappy.”

We went on to dissect my situation in depth, but once he left my room I sat and thought about what he said.

And it really pissed me off.

How could I be in control of my happiness when someone was being mean to me? They were making me angry.

How could I not get upset by bitchy playground gossips? They were making me unhappy.

Not me. I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

 

But the penny eventually dropped…and it’s changed my life a hundred times.

It took a long time to roll around in my hormone-drenched brain. In fact, I don’t think I even truly comprehended what he was saying until I was in my 20s.

But slowly, slowly, it started to sink in, and it is now one of the main foundations of my personal philosophy*.

You choose your feelings. You choose your reactions. You have the power to choose your own happiness – regardless of what is happening in your life. Regardless of what is happening around you.

You are making that choice.

(*That’s not to say I live by it all the time. As much as anyone, I need this reminder often. Really often. But the difference is, I understand it now. And I understand the power that it brings.)

But…

Yes there are times when you feel sad. Or angry. Or betrayed.

And it’s completely fine to feel those things. We need to feel those things. And you will react to those feelings in your own way.

But you still choose what that reaction will look like.

And as you learn that and apply it, you begin to take ownership of not only the negative feelings and thoughts and actions, but also the positive.

Yes. You get to own your positive feelings too

There are always reasons you could feel bad. You didn’t get the job, you want to lose weight, you feel trapped in your life, there’s something missing. You could easily blame any of these for feeling low.

Because, it’s just what life has dished out to you. It’s a matter of luck. A matter of chance. Isn’t it?

Yes and no.

You may not be able to change the circumstances you find yourself in. But you can look past them. You can choose to be happy or upbeat or joyful or motivated regardless of those circumstances.

And when you do – you get to own that. It’s all you. Your strength. Your character. You are not relying on luck, or chance, or other people to build you up and keep you up. You are not a victim. You become a do-er.

And I’ll be damned if that’s not the most important lesson I’ve ever learnt from a pain in the arse teenager.

 

What were you like as a teenager?