Curious about Project 333? Ask Courtney Carver!

17 March 2017

On July 1 last year I started Project 333 the experiment in which I dress from a collection of only 33 articles of clothing, accessories and shoes for three months. Ever since, I can’t stop talking about the freedom it has brought me.

I’ve blogged about it each quarter and I am looking forward to coming up with my spring collection (shopping from my closet and the clothes I’ve tucked away in the basement) in just two weeks.

I’m a big fan of blogger Courtney Carver of Be More with Less who came up with Project 333 seven years ago. I heard her speak in St. Louis in June, which prompted me to give it a try. Yesterday, I learned that Courtney is doing a free live Q&A about Project 333. It’ll be held Tuesday, March 21 at 3 pm central time. It will be recorded; registrants who can’t attend live will be sent a link for the recording.

I wanted to share the information here because I think that perhaps the Q&A will have the same effect on you as hearing Courtney had on me. I’d love for some of my readers to give Project 333 a try because it has been such a revelation for me. Courtney makes it sound easy and doable (which it is).

Though I’ve heard her speak, I’m signing up for the webinar to hear the questions and answers.

If you give Project 333 a try, please tell me about your experience!

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It's Organize Your Home Office Day!

14 March 2017

I don’t know who’s in charge of designating these national “holidays” but I’m happy that today is Organize Your Home Office Day. (I’m less enthused about ones like Frozen Food Day, which was March 6, according to the Days of the Year website.)

I learned that it’s Organize Your Home Office Day when a prominent genealogy blogger, Tom MacEntee, blogged about it on Geneabloggers. I was delighted that my other blog, Organize Your Family History, was touted in his list of resources to help folks organize their genealogy research.

That led me to blog on Organize Your Family History about how to celebrate Organize Your Home Office Day, and I thought I’d adapt that for this blog as well.

In honor of Organize Your Home Office Day, I challenge you today to look around your home office and assess the following:

  • Are there stray papers that could be filed?
  • Do the items that are stored on your desk deserve to be there?
  • Do you have post-its or notes pinned to a bulletin board that have aged out?
  • How are you doing on office supplies? Are you about to run out of anything?
  • Do you have any shredding to do?
  • Can you put away items that belong in other rooms?

If you can say yes to any of those questions, I encourage you to pick three of them to address right now.

I’m convinced that most of these tidy-up projects take much less time than we expect them to. And they reap big benefits.

As I mentioned last week, I had a TV interview in my office a couple of weeks ago and did a pretty thorough sprucing up of the space. But just two weeks later, the desk looked a bit like a hurricane had blown through.

So this morning I set my timer for 15 minutes and raced against the clock to get my desk looking ship shape again. Guess what? It took only 10 minutes!

What can you spend 15 minutes doing today to honor Organize Your Home Office Day?

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Fall asleep to music with your iPhone

10 March 2017

I’m on my third iPhone and have loved it wholeheartedly since day one. I like to think I know a lot about its features, but I just learned something new that I thought I’d share.

Did you know that you can set your timer to stop the music you’re playing when the timer goes off? That means that if you like to fall asleep to music (or spoken word, I suppose), you can have the phone turn off the music automatically. Set a timer for an appropriate amount of time, set the sound for “When Timer Ends” to “Stop Playing” (all the way down at the bottom of the list of chime tones) and the music will stop after the designated amount of time, perhaps after you’ve fallen asleep.

I also use it just as an alternative to a chime when I am listening to music while doing chores. When the time is up, the music stops.

I’m sure there are a bazillion other features of my beloved iPhone that I don’t know about. Do you have any favorites you’d like to share?

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What do you store on your desk?

1 March 2017

I see a lot of messy desks. And sometimes my own desk is messy. I’ve come to believe that the key to having a truly clear desk is to be really careful about what you actually store there. When you clean off your desk, you want to have plenty of clear space on which to work. For me, all that clear space gives me a sense of peace while simultaneously motivating me. When your desk is cleared off, how clear is it really?

A week ago I received a call from a local TV reporter asking if he could come to my home office the next day and shoot an interview about paper clutter. Of course I said yes. Then I looked around my office. There’s nothing like the prospect of a TV camera coming into your office to make you look at it with a critical eye.

I spent a little time that evening tidying up. Some items had migrated to my desk top and I removed them. Some papers and business cards and post-it notes had found their way to my monitor stand. Just focusing on the desk for 15 minutes or so allowed it to be TV ready. I bought some tulips and added them.

Here’s a photo taken just after the TV reporter left.

What do you store on your desk top?

On my desk, I store:

  • a letter tray to corral stray papers (I try not to let it get too full—there’s a book in I’m contemplating reviewing)
  • a pen cup
  • a stapler
  • a container that holds my computer glasses upright so I can find them easily
  • some device related to our home security system that for some reason has to live there
  • a leather container from Levenger that hides my charging cords and ear buds
  • a business card holder (for my business cards)
  • a little dish of sea glass from my trip to Barbados that makes me happy
  • a dish of straight pins for my bulletin board
  • a container of push pins for my bulletin board

It’s funny. Now that I’m looking at this photo and listing all these things, I realize that some just live there because they always have, not because I use them regularly. I think I’ll remove the push pins and the straight pins, as well as the business card holder. And I definitely could take a bunch of pens out of the pen holder so it’s easier to use.

Maybe it’s time for you to take a critical look at your desk top. Does it contain only items that you use regularly or that make you really happy? For me, the clearer my desk top, the clearer my mind.

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Worth repeating: Making mornings more productive

27 February 2017

I wrote this post in October 2014 and I think it’s worth posting again. Over the couple of years, I’ve really noticed that what I decide to do first in the morning is the thing that actually gets done. I’ll blog, if blogging is a priority. Sometimes I make sure to do family history research first (because sometimes that’s a priority). I’m happy to be posting this at 8 am, so I can move on to a great day!

I don’t know about you, but if my mornings don’t go well, the rest of the day usually follows suit. I’m a morning person and I typically can get a lot done in the morning. But if I don’t, it’s hard to reboot the day and make up for it in the afternoon.

So I got to thinking today about optimal ways for me to spend my valuable morning time. And I also thought about strategies for getting right to it in the morning.

I’m a huge believer in the value of established routines. I have a morning routine of small tasks that help me maintain order. I do those things without even thinking, and they happen before I’m at my desk. It’s the next step I need to think about. What should I do after I’ve sat down at my desk?

I think I know the answer. I need to blog first thing in the morning. I try to blog four times a week: Mondays and Fridays on this blog and Tuesdays and Thursdays on my other blog, Organize Your Family History. I know I could make life easier by blogging in advance and scheduling posts, but I’ve learned that’s not really the way I roll. Most of my blog posts are posted the day they’re written, and I’m okay with that.

I know that if I get my blog writing out of the way for the day, the rest of the day goes smoother. If I don’t, I might not blog that day, depending on my client load. And it bugs me when I don’t reach my blogging goals, which has a negative effect on my day. (I’m not happy that today is Wednesday and this is my first blog post of the week.)

So how can I ensure that I get my blogging done in the morning? I can think of two things that will make it much easier:

  • Decide in advance what I’ll blog about. (Deciding what to write about is the hardest part for me.)
  • Don’t do anything else at my computer before blogging. (I’m capable of wasting a lot of time first thing in the morning fooling around on the internet.)

If I do both of these things, I’ll get my blogging done straight off and I’ll have that omnipresent task taken off my mind, freeing myself to feel great about getting stuff done the rest of the day. I know that will enhance my productivity beyond just the blogging.

My evening routine comes into play here, because it sets me up for a successful morning. I try to do three things before closing up shop every day:

  • Clear off my desktop
  • Get my inbox down to zero
  • Select a few priority tasks for the next day

One thing I could add to that evening routine is selecting my blog topic for the next day, if it’s not already planned.

This process seems very simple, yet I feel very excited that I’ve identified a way to get my blogging done and make my days go better. I’ll post again about how successful this strategy is!

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Figuring out what to watch on TV

16 February 2017

Figuring out what to watch on TV

I’ve learned over the years how easily overwhelmed I am when I have too many choices. I blogged a few years ago about how I prefer buying Apple computers because they limit your choices. I know that one of the reasons I love my tiny wardrobe is that I don’t have to choose from a lot of options when I get dressed.

My most recent struggle with too many choices is television. I love TV and usually watch some TV while I knit or color in the evening. But I find myself yearning for my childhood days when I had a choice of about four things to watch. I cut the cord on cable five years ago but now there’s more to watch than ever before.

With all the choices available to me on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, plus various other channels on my Roku, I can’t settle on anything! And it’s making me a little crazy. Last night I found myself killing an hour watching a new game show for heaven’s sake (The Wall, not worth my time)!

For some reason I’m turning TV watching, which I do to relax, into a source of stress. That’s ridiculous. I think I have to do something to narrow down the options, so I’m not stressed out by deciding what to watch. Here’s what I think I’ll do:

  • Pick two shows (a comedy and a drama/action show) with the intention of watching each in its entirety, because I love doing that. I’m selecting two so I can choose depending on my mood.
  • Give the shows on the current lineup at least three episodes each before abandoning.
  • Keep a list in Evernote of shows I’ve tried watching, shows I’d like to check out, and shows I’ve seen before that I’d consider streaming again.

I just found this Rolling Stone article on the 100 best TV shows of all time. I’ve seen many of them (and would rewatch some) and it reminds me of some renowned shows that I’ve been meaning to watch. I think it will help me create a few lists to narrow things down so can get past this frustration.

How about you? How do you handle deciding what to watch on TV? Also, do you have any shows you think I should add to my short list?

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The Breville Tea Maker: A Unitasker worth having

13 February 2017

Beautiful Serenity Tea from the London Tea Room in st. Louis

I typically avoid buying appliances or gadgets that serve only one purpose. The wonderful blog Unclutterer calls those items Unitaskers and features them on Unitasker Wednesdays.

But last month I made an exception to that rule and purchased the Breville BTM800XL One-Touch Tea Maker. It’s an electric tea kettle and brewer. Two of my friends and colleagues, Amanda Rickers and Sheila DeHart each had one and raved about it. I found it irresistible.

My biggest hesitation was that I didn’t want to take up counter space in my new kitchen, which we’ve managed to keep free of clutter. But then I realized I could put it in my auxiliary kitchen (we live in a two-family house and have two kitchens), which is conveniently located next to my office. So now, instead of having to go upstairs for a cup of tea, I can brew one nearby while I work.

The way the Breville Tea Maker works is that you fill the basket with the appropriate amount of loose tea (it reminds me of an old fashioned percolator). Then you fill the glass jug with the appropriate amount of water. Put the basket in the jug, where it remains above the water until the water is boiled to the exact right temperature for the type of tea you’ve told the tea maker you’re brewing. When that temperature is reached, the basket is slowly lowered into the hot water where it stays briefly. It will go up and down to get the right strength. I think a magnet is involved.

After you press the On button, you can walk away and come back to a perfect cup of tea, brewed to the strength you’ve indicated. It’s wonderful.

I had to buy a few loose teas because I was accustomed to using tea bags. I purchased some tea tins from the Container Store and labeled them. (I used Washi tape to indicate those that are decaf, which is an important distinction for me, since I don’t like to drink much caffeine.)

Here’s my setup (that’s a photo of the beautiful Serenity Tea from the London Tea Room in St. Louis up at the top of this post), along with a couple of videos of the tea maker in action:

I don’t know how much use my tea maker will get in the summer, but while it’s still cold out, it’s a huge hit. I’ve enjoyed it practically every day since I received it a few weeks ago. A nice warm cup of tea is my part of my self-care regimen and this Unitasker makes it easy. What a great gift to myself.

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About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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