Archive for the ‘Housework’

Shop Smart: Building a Master Spending Diary

Mini #085

One of the best steps we can take to save money is to learn to shop smart on life’s essentials. Most often when we think of curbing our spending we look to extraneous purchases or luxury items. While there is no harm in evaluating those habits, it is important not to overlook the everyday necessities to make sure we are getting the most bang for our buck.  A master spending diary can help us

  • purchase smart
  • take advantage of sales
  • look for better alternatives
  • avoid over-buying
  • avoid excess trips because we “ran out”
  • find out which store has the best deal

In this Mini you’ll complete a template to create your Master Spending Diary.

Mapping Out A Creative Space

Mini #83

When engaged in the creative process, it’s common to find ourselves surrounded by creative materials. This is fine and natural—until we find ourselves surrounded by materials that have nothing to do with the project at hand. These “extras” soon take over our working space and we all too often succumb to the temptation of “scooping” them into a pile—or moving ourselves to a different space. This move-or-scoop process is then repeated—and goes on indefinitely—unless we take control of space and design a creative area that supports our project priorities.

In this Mini you will learn how to synergize time and muse to create a creative space and efficient system for organizing (and working on) your arts and crafts projects.

Organizing and Inventorying Arts and Crafts Supplies


With all the little pieces and parts involved in arts and crafts, often we spend much of our creative time trying to find a specific item, or sorting what we have. This disarray also poses a challenge to our creativity, since the time involved in retreiving supplies may use up all the time we have.

In this Mini I  share ideas for effectivly organizing and storing arts and crafts supplies. We will also review how to create a catalog-inventory for punches, fabrics, stamps, and other large collection.

* Adapted from my ebook Step-by-Step Arts, Crafts, Stamp and Scrapbook Organizing

Creating a Home Inventory

Mini Makeover #078

10 pages

You never know when a disaster may strike—but a home inventory can help you minimize the disruption and loss.
A home inventory can help you
•    Buy the amount of insurance you need
•    Get your insurance claim settled faster, and for the correct amount
•    Verify losses for your income tax return
•    Keep track of the belongings you’ve accumulated over the years

This Mini walks you through the process of creating a room-by-room inventory including both online and offline resources to guide you.

Chore and Reward Systems that Work


A family functions at its finest when all participants contribute and take responsibility for at least some of the maintenance work required…. but… that concept and reality often collide. Getting kids to help routinely can be challenging and quickly turn into an area of tension (spouses included!). In this Mini I share a new chore and reward system I created that creatively encourages responsibility and encourages kids  to excel with rewards or recognition in direct proportion to contribution. This system works for all ages and can be used regardless if you are trying simply to instill responsibility or looking for a system for fairly basic monetary rewards. The system can be created with simple supplies such as scissors, index cards and a stapler.

Beautify Your Home

Mini #73

Our homes serve us best when they are a sanctuary to relax, yet functional to meet the demands of our lives. As years go by, too often our homes become a depository of “stuff” that dictates their design versus our choices actively influencing the design. In this Mini we create a Home Beauty Book and work through the rooms of our home to design the space for both functionality and visual appeal. The Home Beauty Book acts as a depository for ideas, giving clear direction toward creating a home that matches the mood, ambience and needs of your family.  We explore focal points, arranging, color, patterns, lighting and much more.  The good news is that beautifying your home need not cost a bundle, very simple strategies can give a fresh look to a tired space. If you are looking to make your home more inviting, appealing, or a better “fit” for you–then this Mini will help you lay the foundation.

Creating a Mini Goal Grab Bag

Mini #68
6 pages

“Historically more than 80% of resolutions are abandoned by late February, Many women believe they are doomed before they begin. A resolution becomes another pressure in an already pressure-filled life.

As I waited for the clock to strike midnight this year, I was deep in thought about this challenge we face when reaching our goals. With statistics like these, it seemed creating a resolution is a way for many people to procrastinate on the very thing they resolve to do for another year.

If you have been discouraged by goals and set them half-heartedly or not at all, then the technique I present in this Mini offers a new approach for creating fun, Mini goals. You can use this technique to set goals for a week, a month, a quarter or an entire year. It is a great technique for regaining focus that flows with life.

How to Break a Bad Habit

Mini #67
13 pages
Includes positive and negative reinforcement worksheet, habit analysis, and obstacle exercise

Almost everyone has some habit in their life that robs their day-to-day life of a little (or a lot) of joy. Sometimes the habits are obvious—overeating, procrastinating, over-spending, drinking too much caffeine, smoking—other times they are less obvious like avoidance of health-enhancing behaviors (exercise), making excuses, spending too much time on a computer, blaming others, getting angry quickly, not taking care of ourselves… just to name a few.
Over time the word “habit” often becomes synonymous with “excuse.” We begin to feel that we cannot change an area because it is a “habit,” and stereotypically habits are hard to break. However, if we have the power to create a habit, then we also have the power to un-create it. How do we know if a habit needs to be broken? When it begins to negatively impact our relationships, self-esteem, finances, career, or any other area important to us, then a habit has become a hurt.
Habits are not formed overnight, but through repetition. Each time we repeat a behavior, whether positive or negative, we strengthen neuro-connectors in the brain. Fortunately, science has shown that we can “rewire” our connectors and thus rewire our habits. Breaking a habit takes focus, awareness and intention, since we need to turn off the “autopilot” we have created and make deliberate new choices.
In this Mini I’ll walk you through the science of breaking a bad habit. Of course reading the Mini is only the first step. Taking deliberate action on each step over a realistic period of time will be the key to unlock your life of negative habits.

Easy & Economical Holiday Decorating

Mini #58

15 pages

Tis the season to deck the house and this Mini will walk you through quick, easy and economical ideas to create a winter wonderland.

Within this Mini we will look at:

  • 6 ideas for Creating Holiday Centerpieces
  • Cornerstones of Holiday Decorating
  • 4 simple necessities to add a festive touch
  • Christmas Cards as Decoration
  • Garlands Galore: 10 Creative Ideas
  • Often Overlooked Decorating Ideas: Sounds & Scents
  • Pomanders
  • Advent Wreath Tradition
  • Christmas Crackers

The Mini includes additional links and resources for celebrating the season!Adapted from the 10 Weeks of Christmas Course

Beyond Magazine Madness

Mini #59
7 pages

If you are drowning in magazines or have piles of magazines you think you might need “someday” then this Mini is for you. In this seven page Mini we work step by step through creating a personal reference system to transform piles of magazines into efficient reference tools.

The Mini begins with a challenge to sort your magazines into three categories and then guides you through how to process each of these of categories to create a customized system for managing what was once a paper pile.

Adapted from Everyday Paper Piles and Paper Piles & Files

Reality Routines

Mini #57
Includes Reality Routine worksheet

Please note this Mini will not be available until November 7, 2008.

Recently I have had quite a few conversations with women about their Master Task Lists. I found that many women assumed I followed my Master Task List to a tee.  In one conversation I began explaining that the Weekly list is what is most important to me and receives 90 percent of my energy. The 2x a month tasks, monthly tasks, and quarterly tasks are all those I hope to get to (and often do) but they are not my focus. By focusing on a solid weekly routine the longer term tasks tend to be much more easy to manage because my life is managed. I may not get everything done, but I get what is most important done.

Then there are the times when life goes haywire. The unexpected trip, or unexpected guests. The overtime at work or the problem with a close family member.  The unexpected illness or the emotional rollercoaster. During these times a solid weekly routine is one tool that can help us keep our sanity and stay above the chaos.

This Mini takes you step by step through building your weekly “Reality Routine.” This is not a routine based on everything you WANT to do, but based on the “anchors” that help you stay sane, maintain balance, and feel good about home and self. By the end of this Mini you will have created a solid routine and run it through the reality test.

Mastering the Nightly Reflection

Mini #049

13 pages
Includes Nightly Reflection Checklist

Early on in the Toolbox we cover the importance of a Good Morning. Thousands of women have seen the Good Morning practice change the course of their days. The Nightly Reflection is the partner of the Good Morning. It provides a way to “wrap up each day and be done with it” as Emerson says.
.A Nightly Reflection allows a person to recap, release stress, and give thanks for the day while also preparing for the day ahead. However mastering the Nightly Reflection isn’t always easy because:

  • It is unfamiliar
  • Many of us are tired at the end of a day!

In this Mini we are going to work step-by-step through the process of Mastering the Nightly Reflection so you can confidently implement this practice to decrease to stress and find more joy in each day.

Cosmetic Control

Mini-Makeover #41

If you are among the ten percent of women that are not serial-cosmetic purchasers, you can skip this Mini-Makeover. However, if you own more than ten lipsticks, consider this Mini.  (Or if you own more than three eye-shadow compacts and one has blue eyeshadow or is ten years old or older.)

Many women are drawn to cosmetics like a magnet. Before we know it, we are buried in every possible color, brand, shade, and option. Good makeup and skincare can make us feel  wonderful. The wrong makeup and skin care can have the exact opposite effect. n this Mini-Makeover we work through our cosmetic stations to refine and purge and create sets of complimentary colors that leave us feeling beautiful. We will work step-by-step through the following:

  • The Big Sort: Getting A Grip on Your Stockpile
  • Makeup Gone Bad: Learn how long items “keep” before becoming ineffective or bacteria-carriers
  • Color me beautiful: Learn which colors compliment your skin tone, eyes, and features
  • A Fantastic Face: Assemble “kits” for different looks - day, night, warm, cool
  • The Purge: A step-by-step plan for working through all the miscellaneous makeup
  • Five-Minute Beauty: My five minute make-up routine

Master Task List: Bedroom & Bath

Mini Makeover #037
Includes a master task list template for bedroom and bath

In the Make Today Matter Toolbox we learned how to use the Housework Helpers Worksheet to divide routine maintenance tasks into small components that could be realistically completed. The Master-Task-List series works step-by-step through making a Master Task List for a specific area of the home together.

For each room we explore you will receive a template of tasks to consider including on your routines list. There will be plenty of prompts to share cleaning tips, questions, and your own list items. By working through this process together, and focusing on one room at a time, we can ensure we have a comprehensive and complete list by the end of the Mini.

Finding Simplicity

Mini Makeover #36

Clutter, whether emotional or physical, is the number one robber of simplicity. Clutter robs peace and leaves anxiety and maintenance in its wake. In this Mini-Makeover we work through five exercises and activities to understand why we collect clutter, the true cost of clutter (on both our time and our wallet), and accomplish the simplification goal Hans Hoffman offered: “To simply means to eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary can speak.”

Master Task List: Kitchen

Mini #033
6 pages
Includes Kitchen Master Task Worksheet

In the Make Today Matter Toolbox we learned how to use the Housework Helpers Worksheet to divide routine maintenance tasks into small components that could be realistically completed. This Mini is the first of several in the Master-Task-List series where we will walk through making a Master Task List for a specific area of the home together.

For each room we explore you will receive a template of tasks to consider including on your routines list. There will be plenty of prompts to share cleaning tips, questions, and your own list items. By working through this process together, and focusing on one room at a time, we can ensure we have a comprehensive and complete list by the end of the Mini.

The Clutter Clearing Challenge

Mini Number #021

“Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. If you have them, you have to take care of them! There is great freedom in simplicity of living. It is those who have enough but not too much who are the happiest.”-Peace Pilgrim

Physical cutter can rob your time, your wallet and your energy. Clutter takes up free space in which energy could otherwise roam. In this Mini we explore the true cost of clutter and embark on a de-cluttering challenge. Includes access for the month to an open sprint room where you can arrange to meet with others working on this Mini to “de-clutter.”


Operating the Errand Express

Mini Number #13

How many times have you arrived home only to realize something you intended to pick up or do was forgotten during the day? With packed schedules and filled minds, multitasking throughout the day is difficult at best.

Implementing the strategies in the Errand Express Mini can eliminate spinning your wheels, wasted time, endless family requests for “one little favor,” in addition to saving money, reducing stress, and allowing the focus needed to get the job done versus always feeling like something has been forgotten. This Mini includes step-by-step instructions for setting up the Errand Express in your home and tips and guidelines for getting the family on board.


Operation Handbag

Mini Number # 007

Most women carry at least one bag, tote, briefcase, or purse. A well-packed handbag is more than an accessory; it is a command post that can help us stay organized, efficient, and sane. Giving your bag a functionality check and makeover can help you be well-prepared in any situation. With proper setup you can avoid uttering “I know it’s in here somewhere…” while engaging in the eternal search for parking meter change, a pen, Advil, or lip balm. 


Simplify Your Wardrobe

Simplify Your Wardrobe

Mini Number 004
This month’ Chaos and Clutter Clearing is geared toward one of the most common clutter sources in the home—our closet. It is simply amazing how much time we spend putting on and taking off clothing and searching for a missing item of clothing or a match. Then there are all the other wardrobe maintenance tasks…. running errands to dry clean or mend, ironing, pre-soaking, taking something off in frustration and then adding it to a pile we will later have to fold. Since dressing is something we do daily, it makes logical sense to simplify, manage, and create a solid routine. Without a solid routine the simple task becomes a source of stress and lost-time. Wardrobe organization also plays a big role in the Good Morning routine. Who wants to begin their morning by putting on an outfit and deciding: I don’t like how this looks! This Mini-Makeover is divided into four sections and the suggested pacing is one section per week. The amount of time it takes will differ greatly with each person’s wardrobe.
Recommended for the following life areas: Housework Maintenance