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Simply Convivial: Pep Talks for Homemakers & Homeschoolers

Updated 2 months ago

Kids & Family
Parenting
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Short focus sessions for busy Christian moms who want to manage their homes & lives for the glory of God – and enjoy it, too! Organize your attitude, get stuff done, and love God.

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Short focus sessions for busy Christian moms who want to manage their homes & lives for the glory of God – and enjoy it, too! Organize your attitude, get stuff done, and love God.

iTunes Ratings

153 Ratings
Average Ratings
144
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Truth and practicality together

By VandyGirl147 - May 19 2020
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I’m naturally a more organized person. Sometimes, maybe too concerned about it, to the detriment of loving my people well. Misty keeps bringing me back to the truth that organizing my attitude FIRST (and repeatedly) will be the path that brings lasting joy, peace, and organization.

Pantry episode

By ianostrowski@ - May 16 2020
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This is so helpful! I’ve tried to menu plan but now I understand I a a pantry cook! Thank you!

iTunes Ratings

153 Ratings
Average Ratings
144
3
3
2
1

Truth and practicality together

By VandyGirl147 - May 19 2020
Read more
I’m naturally a more organized person. Sometimes, maybe too concerned about it, to the detriment of loving my people well. Misty keeps bringing me back to the truth that organizing my attitude FIRST (and repeatedly) will be the path that brings lasting joy, peace, and organization.

Pantry episode

By ianostrowski@ - May 16 2020
Read more
This is so helpful! I’ve tried to menu plan but now I understand I a a pantry cook! Thank you!
Cover image of Simply Convivial: Pep Talks for Homemakers & Homeschoolers

Simply Convivial: Pep Talks for Homemakers & Homeschoolers

Latest release on Aug 05, 2020

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Short focus sessions for busy Christian moms who want to manage their homes & lives for the glory of God – and enjoy it, too! Organize your attitude, get stuff done, and love God.

Rank #1: Secrets about Schedules

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Does the word schedule make you break out in hives? Do you picture yourself harried and deflated at the end of a day on a schedule? Maybe for you, like me, that’s a vivid memory, not a theoretical picture.

There’s a lot of visceral reaction against schedules in the homeschool world, and I totally get why. I mean, can I schedule diaper blowouts and my doorbell ringing and the toddler pulling an open bag of powdered sugar onto herself? Where does that go in the schedule?

Jul 27 2017

13mins

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Rank #2: Thoughts on Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins

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If you are starting out homeschooling with a bright-eyed little 5-year-old – a toddler tagging along and another on the way – you eat up the stories of those ahead of you on the journey.

When I was in that spot 8 years ago, I had my mom who had homeschooled 7. I also had other local older moms who let me browse their bookshelves and ask them questions. And then on my computer screen, I had Cindy Rollins, whose ninth child at the time was in elementary school, only a couple years ahead of my oldest. She was about to graduate her oldest, and she was funny and smart and real.

May 02 2018

10mins

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Rank #3: Handling Plans with Flexibility (with Celeste Cruz)

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Mystie – There’s a spread of abilities and also needs. How do the expectations that we have as moms going into that situation affect how we do it, what we do, and our sanity as we do it. So, how would you say that your expectations have maybe changed or when you go into a school year.

Celeste – Since I’ve always had little kids while I’m schooling, usually a toddler and a baby, pretty much every year since I started homeschooling,.. I have a certain curriculum, a certain amount of work that I’d like to get done with my big kids but I have to be flexible in terms of where and how we fit in those things, and I have to be willing to think outside of the box in terms of our school day…

Mystie – When there’s so many interruptions and you have to get up and take care of the baby, there are just a lot of things all going on at once, and you’re trying to decide do I do [this] or [this]. How do you keep track of what you should be doing or what you need to get back to when the interruption calms down?

Celeste – I think of my day really in terms of blocks. At the beginning of each year I set out a schedule for myself where I have time slots and that is not actually something that we’re going to live by, that’s me making sure I’m not over-scheduling myself, that technically these things could potentially fit in this order on a given day that might or might not actually occur…

Feb 15 2018

12mins

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Rank #4: Virtue Is the Goal of Classical Education

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Although the idea of classical homeschooling can be intimidating and appear unreachable, it is far more down-to-earth than we might think. This task is not too lofty for us, homeschooling moms with households to run; in fact, our very lifestyles are an asset, not a hindrance.

If you’ve ever thought you needed to focus more on character than your curriculum checklist, you might be more classical than you think.

Mar 02 2017

10mins

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Rank #5: What novels taught me about cleaning house

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Housework seemed like a stupid waste of time.And I hated wastes of time and stupidity, so I triply hated housework.I was torn between wanting to be a good, competent homemaker and thinking that the state of my bedroom or the kitchen just wasn’t a big deal. I could get meals on the table, keep things stocked, and complete a project just fine. But the day-in day-out routine tasks were a drag.I’m not going to say that I love those routines now or that I totally rock them, because I don’t. But I am learning to love them.And it all started back then, when my third born was just a baby, and I was reading novels.

Oct 24 2016

6mins

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Rank #6: What Is Classical Education?

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A label is a tricky thing. Just when you decide to take on an adjective as an identity, you find people including shades of meaning that you don’t personally want to own. For this reason, it’s common now to eschew labels altogether and call them useless and misleading. However, I think we should be comfortable generalizing and allowing ourselves to be generalized.

Feb 23 2017

9mins

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Rank #7: Thoughts on Jayber Crow and Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

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Somehow, Berry makes you feel affection for all mankind, even those who aren’t likable and maybe even those who are wicked but especially for those who are foolish — which is each one of us.
“Membership” with one another is the underlying thread in them both, and these novels have given that word much more depth and richness than I had ever seen in it.

Jun 06 2018

7mins

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Rank #8: The Simple Life

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Often when we plan out our goals, we think in year-long chunks of time, either personal goals in January or academic goals in August. If you’ve ever done this, perhaps you’ve noticed that it’s really difficult to keep those goals. 
But now I’ve found an way to avoid this cycle, to keep motivated, and to have goals while remaining flexible.

Sep 05 2016

15mins

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Rank #9: Plan a Homeschool Day

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What, out of everything in the plan, is essential to make our homeschool day count?

Because more often than not, at least at my house, the entire plan doesn’t get checked off. So what does need to happen, without fail? Here’s my version.

Aug 10 2017

7mins

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Rank #10: Convivial Means Keeping in Fellowship

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Keeping short accounts leaves no room for resentment, no room for bitterness. It also means that even in the midst of argument, I am more careful in how I express myself, or where I let myself go — better to not sin in the first place than have to ask for forgiveness and make it whole and right again. It also means I can express myself openly and honestly and have confidence that we are both striving to reach unity and oneness, and in the ways we fail on our way there, restoration will be sought.

May 18 2017

8mins

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Rank #11: 5 Homeschooling Tips for Extroverts

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Isn’t homeschooling a sure way to drive an extrovert mom out of her mind?

It depends on the homeschool and on the mom.

As an extrovert homeschool mom you can set up your schedule and methods to take advantage of your strengths and fully come alive in your role.

Here are five ways to do just that.

Feb 09 2017

10mins

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Rank #12: How to Get Information Into Evernote

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Q: "When you scan things to Evernote, is this time consuming? Do you scan it to a PDF file and attach the file? I’d be very curious as to what this process looks like for you. I tried with a manual the other day and it seemed to take forever, and I had to try several different ways to get it to work."
A: It’s fast and easy, I promise!

Aug 07 2017

3mins

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Rank #13: Thoughts on Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung & Shopping for Time by Carolyn Mahaney

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“Cross to carry” is a phrase used to talk about suffering as a lot in life, but this portrayal of that cross, that suffering, as an active things in our life struck me. I have always pictured “cross to carry” as a passive sort of thing. But difficulty as a purposeful, active thing in our life, rather than a weight holding us down, is a much more biblical picture.

May 08 2018

10mins

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Rank #14: Personality & Learning Styles

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Those of us educating young children tend to use the vocabulary of learning styles, though current research seems to be showing that most of the learning styles rhetoric is bunk.

Jan 12 2017

13mins

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Rank #15: Gratitude Makes You Productive

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Why do we do what we do?

Sometimes, an end result can look the same even when the motivations behind the action are opposite.

May 22 2017

4mins

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Rank #16: Make a home: it's your job

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Homemaking is not about personal style. It's about making a home where people want to be and where people can learn and grow. This replay of the Making Home workshop will remind you of the true calling of homemaker.

Dec 21 2019

1hr

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Rank #17: How We Organize Homeschool Stuff (with Virginia Lee)

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Mystie: That’s fun. So this season, season 8 of the Simply Convivial podcast is going to be about organizing homeschool stuff. So I thought we’d just have a brief conversation about how stuff gets organized in our homes. I think it’s easy when you say “organized” to start thinking of the magazines or the Pinterest where organized means everything looks really pretty and looking pretty is nice especially if you’re a personality who’s good at that but I’m not. Really, being organized is about having a home for things and knowing where things go. So everything has a place so that then you can put it away because it has a place. So we’re going to talk about some of the ways that we give stuff homes in our homeschools. Virginia Lee, what kind of homes do you have in your homeschool?

Virginia Lee: Well, I guess one of my biggest things is that I’m not a big stuff person so if I have the stuff in my house it has to have a home and if I can’t find a home for it, it probably means I don’t need it. So I guess that’s one of the biggest ways I look at stuff. In fact my kids give me a hard time, “Don’t throw this away, we’re going to put this here so mom can’t throw it away!” But the other big thing of what I think of when I’m going to organize stuff is I need it to be practical. I’m not very good, like you said, I’m not one of those personalities where everything is pretty and maybe always pleasing to the eye but with the way our crew works is that it needs to be practical, it needs to be sturdy, and it needs to be in places where we can actually use it.

Mystie: Right. I think that’s key. Because we have a basement so I could reserve a shelf in the basement and put things away on the shelf downstairs where they’d be out of the way but if they’re too much out of the way I’ll end up not actually using them.

Virginia Lee: Yes, we are the same way. We do school in all different locations in our home and so we don’t use a schoolroom, that doesn’t really work well for our crew. So, for instance, we do Morning Time in our living room and I have a bookshelf in our living room and one of the shelves in that bookshelf is reserved for all of our Morning Time books and that shelf is placed right where I sit to do Morning Time normally and then our piano is in our living room as well and the piano bench has a … you can lift the top up … and so that’s where we store all of our Morning Time binders. So that works really well for us. They’re out of the way where little hands could reach them or mess them up but they’re very accessible and it’s something that we already had that we could use, I didn’t have to go buy something else, which I always love that, rather save the money to books. And then for some of our other stuff (we live in a tri-level) so we definitely have different things on each level of our home. So we have one of our levels has those shelves from Ikea that are sort of more like cubbies.

Oct 17 2017

18mins

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Rank #18: Brain Dump Tips (with Virginia Lee)

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So, I like to say that all organization projects should begin with a brain dump. So, I thought that the best place to start would be to talk briefly about what a brain dump is and then we can start talking about tips and hacks and troubleshooting and what works for us and that sort of thing. A brain dump is basically sitting down with a pen and paper and just writing down everything that’s in your head, either everything everything or just everything about a particular problem or a project, maybe, that’s driving you crazy. So, when you get it down and onto paper it really clears your head of the details and lets you look at what’s going on more objectively, it gives you a little perspective. David Allen, author of GTD (Getting Things Done) says that when you use paper to hold the information and the details then your mind is free for creative thinking and problem solving. So, it’s kind of like decluttering your brain.

Virginia Lee: Which we could all use.

Mystie: Especially with Christmas over and the New Year, it’s time to declutter.

Virginia Lee: Most definitely. Well, I have a question for you about that.

Mystie: OK.

Virginia Lee: Do you have any brain dump tips about doing it on paper or can it be done in an electronic version or way? I’ve always been curious about that.

Mystie: I’ve done it both ways. It’s kind of depended on what I’m brain dumping about because sometimes I just need to make a list. If my mind is really working fast I can type faster than I can write so then I’ll just open up something in Evernote and just start typing. I think it really depends on the person and the way you think and process. If I’m going to be writing sentences at all then I probably want to be typing because I’ll write better sentences, I’ll think through what I’m thinking about better if I’m typing, fingers move faster, but if I am not sure of the idea, like I’m trying to figure something out and brainstorm, maybe I want this thing over here and then I want to put something over here and make it a little more visual then writing it down is the better way to sort those ideas. And then, also, there’s just sometimes I’ve just had a notebook on the counter with a pen so that just here and there I can add a little bit.

Virginia Lee: That makes sense because on paper you can do things like draw arrows and circle things and sometimes, that definitely if I’m doing a brain dump, helps me to have something circled or this drawn over there, just because I’m visually seeing that I’m moving it that direction.

Mystie: Well, at least I know if I’m doing a brain dump into Evernote I know where it is, which is not always true if I started on the back of an envelope.

Virginia Lee: That is true. I think one of the biggest times I do brain dump is in the middle of the night. Sometimes when I lie down to go to sleep my mind is just going fifty miles an hour so I find that I, a lot of the time, do a brain dump, and then I lay back down. That’s definitely one of my biggest brain dump tips.

Mystie: Does it help you get to sleep?

Virginia Lee: It does, because I’m not trying to remember anything or flush out an idea because I don’t want it to go away. So, I feel like, OK, I’ve put that all on this pad by my bed or I’ve started using the Notes app in my phone because my husband’s sleeping and probably doesn’t need me turning on a light in order to do a brain dump.

Mystie: I think that’s the real power of brain dumping: it just puts it somewhere where your mind isn’t worried or stressed out about keeping something. It’s safe, it’s right here, it’s outside of my mind.

Jan 08 2018

9mins

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Rank #19: Homeschooling Without a Schoolroom

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We homeschool without a schoolroom. Like many homeschoolers, the kitchen table is where much of our work happens. We use our kitchen table, we use our dining room table, we use our couch, and we make due with the space we have.

I could write up a great-sounding post about why we don’t have a school room on principle. Something about school blending in with real life and not being contained in a separate box.

But the truth is that I’d rather have a playroom than a schoolroom, a place for the toddlers and preschoolers to freely set up a block city complete with railroad tracks, a place for the air hockey table we inherited, a place for the computers that are used both for work and for play. And our house layout doesn’t have the space for both a playroom and a schoolroom.

Oct 31 2017

13mins

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Rank #20: Thoughts on Consider This by Karen Glass

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As I’ve written before, the goal of education is virtue, and Karen’s first chapter jumps right into the heart of it. She proves that virtue – right acting – needs to be the end we are pursuing when we educate children (and also ourselves), and demonstrates this is the classical notion about what education is for.

May 30 2018

7mins

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How can moms take a sabbath day of rest?

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Get help living this out in the day to day: https://www.simplyconvivial.com/membership

Aug 05 2020

14mins

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Why moms need to be learners, too.

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All the time I hear and see the question: How do you, as a busy homeschooling mom, make the time to read? 

Yes, they ask because they want to know how I fit in reading, but more broadly, they ask because they want to know how any mom even possibly can. It feels difficult, nigh impossible at times, and we can wonder if now is just the wrong season for trying to get any reading done at all.

Jul 31 2020

13mins

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Do moms need a vision statement?

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Perhaps you've been told that as a mother, you need to write a vision statement for yourself and your family in order to succeed. In this video, Mystie Winckler discusses the efficacy of vision statements and their inherent flaws in providing purpose to a Christian mother. The fact is, you don't find your vision statement deep inside yourself, but through the Bible and Christ. So instead of looking to yourself to find answers and meaning, look to Christ and pray to find your true purpose; that is the only way to truly succeed as a mother, or even as a human being.

Jul 08 2020

15mins

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How to stay sane as a stay-at-home mom

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1. Have a creative hobby.

God is a maker, and we are little sub-makers. Being creative is human. Having a creative outlet helps us feel connected and whole. Knitting, baking, sewing, sketching, painting, gardening, writing, decorating: finding a way to make beauty is actually a very important outlet that we need.

The book Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer develops this very well, giving plenty of ideas and examples. I also have a short interview with Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary about how and why to make time for creativity.
2. Keep a regular prayer time.

“Prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us,” teaches the Heidelberg Catechism. We need to stay in step with God through prayer, as He requires: “Pray without ceasing.” We make this optional and skip it to our own detriment. God’s peace surrounds us when we pray with thanksgiving, the Bible teaches. If we don’t have peace and we don’t pray about it, we shouldn’t be surprised by it.
3. Lock the bathroom door.

Three minutes of solitude really isn’t too much to ask. Little fingers might still peak underneath the door and wails might still be audible, but a few minutes “cloistered” away is not unreasonable. In fact, it’s a good way to teach the children that moms are people, too, who require at least some dignity and respect.
4. Dress respectfully.

Speaking of dignity and respect, I find it helps when I dress it. I have nothing against cute yoga pants, but there’s a world of difference between cute yoga pants and ratty old sweats. When I regularly dress sloppily, it doesn’t take long before I feel as crummy inside as I look outside. Taking a few minutes in the morning to do my hair, apply mascara, and put on clothes I wouldn’t be embarrassed to go out in not only lifts my own mood, but also teaches through my actions and appearance that home and motherhood are worth respecting and honoring.

My current summer favorite is a knee-length skirt with a yoga-pant waistband I found at Costco. It looks dressy and nice, but is cool and comfortable. With a blouse it’s fancy, and with a tee or tank it’s casual and breezy.
5. Get up & have a morning routine before the kids are up.

I know, I know. It’s really hard. I don’t deny it. But, I don’t think you can deny that starting off the day with a little quiet and space makes for a better start and a smoother day than one where we hit the ground running.

I’ve learned that if I don’t get up before the kids, exercise and prayer time simply won’t happen, so I have to prioritize getting up in the morning if I want to prioritize my own health and sanity.
What small steps do you take that help you stay calm and maybe even cheerful through the day to day?

Jun 24 2020

18mins

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Do organized moms use schedules?

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Are you always busy yet never getting to what seems must be done? Do you feel pulled in a million directions all the time? Inside Simply Convivial we clear away the clutter not only in our homes, but also in our hearts and on our to-do lists. By sorting through what's actually going on and what's actually needed, we each are able to figure out our own callings and how to dig in to those with cheerful goodwill.

Starting July 3, we'll begin our 4th Simplified Organization Community Coaching group. These groups work through all three of the Simplified Organization courses over the course of six months, figuring out their vocations and what to do about that, creating planning habits that work with real family life, and taking responsibility for their homes. With extra support, accountability, checklists, and video meet-ups, we walk together through all the pieces that make up our home duties. The kickoff workshop is July 3 and we'd love to have you join us. It's included in membership, but you have to join the small group before we get started on July 3 or wait until January for the next group. Go to SimplyConvivial.com and click Enroll to learn more.

Jun 17 2020

17mins

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How to be a successful stay-at-home mom

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Especially as stay-at-home moms it can be so hard to know how we're doing because we look at the standards and the definitions of success that come from the business world or the personal achievement world. We know those are not our worlds, yet we don't know where else to go for an understanding of how to get more done, how to better influence our people, and how to measure our successfulness.
Let's look at why we feel like failures and why we feel discouraged, and why that's all part of the package of actually being faithful in our roles as mothers at home.

Jun 10 2020

21mins

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Time Management for Moms

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There really is no such thing as time management. There’s only self-management. You don’t use your time better and end up with more. Usually it seems less time because of how we spent it, though there are things we can do to maximize what we get out of the time we have.

Time management is all about the decisions we make regarding our time, decisions for ourselves and not the time. Time is external from us. It is not something we can control, manipulate, or change.

When we’re talking about time management, what we’re actually needing to manage is ourselves. To maximize our time we must practice self-control and self-management. We must make better choices and decisions.

We all feel like there's too much to do, but with the right perspective and realistic expectations, we can use our situation for growth instead of discouragement because we know neither ourselves nor our situation is stagnant or permanent.  Get help figuring this out in your own life with Simply Convivial Continuing Education: https://www.simplyconvivial.com/membership

Jun 03 2020

18mins

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How to menu plan a month at a time - or more!

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How to menu plan 6 weeks at a time.

Take stock of what’s in your freezer already. I had a ham, some pork, and beef soup bones in addition to the chicken breasts and frozen meatballs I usually have.

Fill in any special days coming up: birthdays, eating out, friends over – if you already have plans on certain days, mark those.

Decide on some standard day-of-the-week dinners. We do chicken on Mondays. I can do chicken a lot of ways, but every Monday morning, I know I need to go grab some chicken out of the basement freezer. Wednesdays are crockpot days at our house. Assign a certain type of meal to some of the days of the week.

Fill in variations those assigned dinner types for the next six weeks. If you spread out your different options for chicken or crockpot dinners, you’ll not feel like you’re cooking and eating the same thing every week.

Start filling in other dinner options. Think about how much time or energy is usually left by the end of the day on certain days of the week. What days are you more likely to feel like cooking and what days are good for pulling out the frozen meatballs? I usually alternate weeks on some meals – Tuesday one week might be a tortilla meal and then rice the next. Planning in six weeks chunks helps make rotations like that simpler to plan.

Make sure you plan the vegetable and side if you need one as well as the main dish. See my post on Menu Planning: Think in Threes for more about planning a complete meal.

Each and every dinner will not happen as planned for the next six weeks, but the plan is in place so that I don’t have to think about it anymore. If I need a dinner plan, there’s one on my calendar. If I feel like getting creative, I can just move the dinner to another day or simply delete that day’s plan. But having the plan in place means I don’t have to panic at 4pm that I had forgotten to think about dinner.

And that’s why I did it.

Plan ALL the meals!

Mystie Winckler explains how she stays on top of cooking dinner every day without becoming overwhelmed. The secret? Take half an hour of your day to plan out ahead of time what this month's meals will be. After that, just create your master pantry list so that you don't get sidetracked shopping and you will have all the materials to cook delicious dinners every day.

May 27 2020

12mins

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Make dinner faster with menu plan templates

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Dinner happens every day (or at least I think it's supposed to). So what can we do to make that process easier, simpler, faster? Today, we're going to talk about a few techniques that will help you get dinner on the table with less effort and in less time.

We want the “making of dinner” to be easier, right? When we're looking for kitchen tips and shopping trips and menu planning ideas and meal planning strategy is really a lot of what it all comes down to is the goal of making dinner easier. And one of the reasons why we feel that need or desire to make dinner easier is that it feels like it's harder than it needs to be. 

And I think that part of what's underneath that feeling of it being harder than we expect it or want it to be is that we think of dinner and just cooking the food and putting it on the table when there are really all these other pieces that have to happen before that can happen and we aren't taking into account the whole process and when we do take that it into account then it seems overwhelming. There are so many pieces and so many parts and they all relate and affect all the others and where do I even start and how do I even make all of this work together? 

And that's why you get services that will just give you the recipes and the shopping list and plot It out by day and say this is what you're going to do (or even that show up on your doorstep with the groceries and the recipes and the meal plan) because it feels like magic or some crazy skill that we just can't figure out to get all of those pieces and parts to work together, but we don't need those kind of solutions when we simplify. 

And if you choose a kind of subscription service you're simplifying because you're removing your decision-making from the process and that's simplifying and that's helpful because it's really decision-fatigue that wears us down if we have to decide what we're going to make for dinner, then look through the pantry and see what we have, and so decide what we have to buy, decide when to go to the grocery store, have that list, and get the right things, then decide to do what's on the plan—that’s a part of the decision-fatigue decision and it all becomes messy and involved and requiring a lot of initiative and mental energy from us and a lot of times we feel like that's not where my best energy and best work needs to be right now. 

Like, I've got these other things spinning, does dinner really have to take this much? And the answer is that it does not. At least not long-term, maybe a little bit in order to set it up and get some habits and systems in place to simplify it so that moving forward and practicing it it doesn't have to take all that out of us.

Are you overwhelmed by the daunting task of cooking dinner for your family every single day? Learn how to plan & cook dinners without all the fuss by just taking stock of your pantry and making a list of favorite dishes.

Cook Dinner With Less Stress

May 20 2020

22mins

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How to enjoy cooking more - 3 dinner time tips

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It's easy to slip into feeling like dinner is a drag, like it's an interruption, like it's something we just really rather not do. But since we do need to serve dinner everyday, why not learn how to enjoy cooking more? It truly is possible!

Of course, there are times where it just doesn't happen or it doesn't work out or we don't have the time, and so we have plan B meals. We have takeout—there’s pizza (whatever) sometimes that happens. But as a general rule if we are walking into the kitchen and feeling downcast and downtrodden because we have to fix another meal it’s really not the kitchen work that has to change or a new plan we have to make unless that plan is about our attitude. 

Today I have three tips to help us learn how to enjoy cooking more:

  1. Plan and reserve enough time to make dinner without rushing.
  2. Intentionally cultivate and practice cooking skills.
  3. Understand that cooking is relational and meaningful.
We need a plan to fix our attitude, not a plan for fixing dinner. We've got to fix dinner. We have to fix our attitude first and even while we fix dinner. And when we can repent of our bad attitudes about our responsibility to feed our people we will find not just that we dread making dinner less, or we are resent the obligation on our day, or the mess in our kitchen that dinner makes, instead of looking at all those things as impositions on us, we can take it in stride as a part of our responsibility and duty and not just do it out of drudgery, but actually enjoy it.

May 13 2020

15mins

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How to keep a well-stocked pantry.

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I had a dream. And in this dream my pantry always had everything I needed. I never ran out of ingredients to make dinner. I would go to the pantry, pull out what I needed to make dinner that day and it’d be there—no surprises. I had achieved well-stocked pantry perfection.

But it turns out that making this dream a reality was much harder than I thought it would be. Still, it’s worth the effort to keep a well-stocked pantry. So, let’s talk about how to do just that.

So, you go to make spaghetti and there’s no tomato sauce. You go to make soup and there’s no chicken broth. You think you’ll make tuna noodle casserole and then there’s no tuna or no noodles, or neither. This is frustrating. And it illustrates one of the troubles of menu planning.

Menu planning isn’t just coming up with ideas of what’s for dinner. It’s managing this whole magic of having the idea of what’s for dinner, having the ingredients for that dinner on hand, starting dinner at the right time, on the right day, and of course, keeping it all frugal and within budget. There’s a lot that goes into keeping a menu plan. It takes practice. And with practice comes skill. But we need to practice—not just making a list and following that list, the menu planning proper—we also have to manage that pantry ingredient, grocery shopping side of things that makes the meal planning possible.

It’s really this whole separate piece that if we aren’t aware of it, managing it, keeping track of it, then that menu plan that we’ve worked on doesn’t work. And we’re thrown back to plan B, or takeout, or frozen fish sticks (if those are in the freezer). 

So, what does it take to keep a well-stocked pantry? What is in a well-stocked pantry? What should be in your pantry? What should be in my pantry? How do we know that? And then, how do we keep our pantry well-stocked while feeding people three times a day?

There are four important steps to keeping and using a well-stocked pantry.

  1. Know what your family actually eats and keep a master list of those items you actually use.
  2. Determine how much your family consumes of each pantry staple in a week or month.
  3. Check your pantry stock before grocery shopping – every time.
  4. Keep what’s in your pantry rotated so you use the oldest items first.
The Pantry Stock Problem

I know when I was newly married and stocking our pantry for the first time I felt at a loss. There’s so much food at the grocery store. There are so many options. How do I even know what to buy?

Sometimes we solve that conundrum by making a menu plan first and then buying the food that we need for those meals that we’ve planned for and that works. But it actually takes a lot longer to make that menu plan, to grocery shop for that menu plan, to follow the recipes, and to just make it all work.

We can cut down on the time and energy that it takes to make our meals if we become pantry cooks. If we keep a regular stock on hand and then base our meals off of those things that we just always keep on hand. It’s actually in limiting our choices that things take less effort, energy, attention, time. Not only that, but when we function within limits, our creativity is called into play. It’s needed. And so choosing dinners based out of a pantry system is not only more efficient, it’s also more creative. 

But the question still comes down to what is in the pantry? And it’s certainly something that takes experience to build up, experimentation to figure out, and iteration and flexibility in continuing it. One of the things that I tried to do the first time I was stocking a pantry was look up that Martha Stewart list of what belongs in your pantry. I didn’t know what should be in our pantry but I figured someone else knows what I should buy, and so I took Martha Stewart’s list and stocked our pantry with the things she said that we should have.

And you know what? A lot of that I didn’t really use. I had to be creative and use what I purchased, but I quickly realized that a lot of what Martha Stewart considered pantry basics I did not and I was not going to use and I was not going to restock. 

We all need to go through that process of figuring out what belongs in our own well-stocked pantry. There is no single definition, single master pantry list that we can all use as a standard, and as long as we follow this list then we have a well-stocked pantry. No, a well-stocked pantry simply means that our pantry has on hand multiples of the items that we consistently use in our cooking.

There’s going to be a lot of overlap from what’s in your pantry and what’s in my pantry, but the identical lists, the master lists made by some expert, or my list used by you, or your listed used by me, is not going to work.

We each need to go through that process of figuring out what we actually use regularly and keeping those things on hand A well-stocked pantry is not a full pantry. A well-stocked pantry is a pantry that has plenty of what you actually use. If your pantry is full of items that you don’t use, that you aren’t sure why you bought, that you aren’t sure what they’re going to go into, maybe you bought multiple something because it was on sale, or because this one recipe that you made for a special occasion called for it, so you bought several, now you don’t know what else to do with it.

A pantry full of items that we aren’t sure about, that we aren’t used to using, that we are likely not going to use, is not a well-stocked pantry, even if it’s stocked. It’s not well-stocked. So we can brainstorm the typical, usual dinners that our family likes to eat, the lunches, the breakfasts, the snacks—all the food.

What are the usual things that we make? And a lot of times there’s overlap and common ingredients. We need flour. We need eggs. There’s going to be a lot of similarities in the basics of anyone’s master list, but they’re going to vary for sure. Not only that but the amount of those basics that you need is something you have to figure out for your family, that I have to figure out for my family, and that can definitely change as our families grow in number and grow in size and change in eating habits.

Those master amounts that we figure out, that work for us, overtime end up not working. A well-stocked pantry master list is not a once-and-done project. And this is another thing that threw me off for sure. I did this early on, made the master list—these are the items that I’m going to keep on hand in my pantry. I never want to run out of these. I want to always have them on hand and all of the dinners that I make are going to rely on these ingredients only, so that I know I can go to my dinner rotation list and pick any one of them and I’ll have the ingredients on hand because these are just the things that I buy.

May 06 2020

20mins

Play

What is organization? It starts with your attitude.

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We need to stop striving for having ducks in a row and admit that ducklings actually waddle where they will, leaving sloppy footprints as they go. We need to stop believing the marketers who tell us we're only 5 containers and 1 label maker away from achieving the state of organization.

Apr 29 2020

15mins

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Index Card Organization System

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An index card organization system predates blogs and word processors. It’s a thing, and it works because it uses a simple principle.

Back in our first year or two of marriage, a good friend and I talked at least weekly about all things homemaking. We were figuring out our new role, and we wanted to do well in it.

So, of course, we read the books.

One of the books was straight off my mom’s shelf: Sidetracked Home Executives.

I could relate to these ladies. They had ideas, they had things they wanted to do, and both the housework and the state of the house (because the work wasn’t being done) was getting in their way.

They came up with a creative solution to break up the housework into manageable chunks and make sure they did it regularly without expecting themselves to recognize that it needed to be done or deciding each day what needed to be done.

Yes, that’s right. They came up with a housework routine. Now, that alone is not creative or unusual, although there are points at which they seem to think it’s revolutionary.

When you suffer from decision fatigue and a tendency toward procrastination or distract ability, however, a routine certainly can be revolutionary.

What was creative in their approach was how they tracked their routine. It was an index card organization system.

Pam Young and Peggy Jones were organizing their chores with index cards before homeschoolers were doing it with their memory work.

In a day with apps and pretty planners galore, is an index card organization system out of date or still useful? Could this book so clearly from the ’80s still be relevant?

If you want to accomplish your housework regularly without having the excuse to check your phone, you might consider their index card organization system.

However, whether you use index cards, a list, an app, or any other implementation, you certainly can and should use the principle behind this method: Loop scheduling.

The index card organization system developed and popularized by Sidetracked Home Executives is, at heart, a loop schedule for housework, just like Sarah Mackenzie’s housework routine – only Sarah uses a plain list instead of a box of index cards.

Indeed, index cards can be rather fiddly. They can easily get mixed up, lost, or ruined. However, there are also advantages to running a loop schedule housework routine on index cards:

1) You can decorate the cards.
2) You can take notes on the cards.
3) You can easily reassign the cards.
4) You can easily delegate the cards.

The index cards are not really the point, though, nor what makes the system work.

What makes an index card organization system work is that it relies on three strategies:

1) It eliminates decision fatigue.
2) It holds the information you need and makes it easy to find and grab.
3) It keeps track of what’s next for you.

You can accomplish the same outcome with an app like Home Routines or even ToDoist, you can get the same benefits by keeping the same information in checklist form, and you can simply add your recurring chores onto your weekly dashboard.

But what won’t give you this same peace of mind and effectiveness is simply printing someone else’s master cleaning list. We are tempted to shortcut the decision making process not by writing down and figuring out (through trial and error) what will work for us, but by finding someone who will tell us what to do.

Even this index card organization system will do that if you buy the book. They’ll tell you which chores to write on cards and what frequency to arrange them in.

We search for the “ready to go” plan not because we want to avoid decision fatigue, but because we think that our past inconsistency and failure disqualifies us from making our own workable plan.

If this other lady – whether in a book, real life, or on the internet – has a plan that works for her, then I know it works, right? If it works, I don’t have to take responsibility. I can just adopt her plan and get her results – right? I haven’t removed decision fatigue at that point; I have removed personal engagement with the problem.

Unfortunately, too often we don’t want to go through the process of getting organized, changing both our mindset and our methods, we just want a quick fix solution.

Most likely, someone else’s plan will not work for you in a cut-and-paste sort of a way. It might be a great shortcut to developing your own workable system – even one with index cards – but you will have to mix with brains and practice before it actually works for you.

Ready to make a housekeeping routine, a housework loop schedule, or even an index card organization system that works for you?

Apr 22 2020

8mins

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The most effective to do list template

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The daily card is a term that we use from Work the Plan for your daily to do list. So, you might have a planner and the question is whether or not you use the planner correctly; if we actually use what’s written in the planner to direct our days? And the daily card can be just a card, just a post-it, an index card, or it can be a section in the planner. But the point of it is to keep a very truncated, limited, small set of tasks for that day alone. 

So, you make a list of the top priorities for that day. And you re-do that every day. You might make it the night before, or you might make it the morning of, but you’re not making a daily card for every day of the week during your Weekly Review. Every day you’re renewing your task list and adjusting because sometimes the needs and the priorities of where our attention needs to go for the day do really adjust on a day-by-day basis, and I think now more than ever, we recognize that. 

How do you decide what your daily three are? Can it be in all different kinds of formats? Are the tasks typically habitual things? How do you keep wishful thinking off the daily card? People often say, “Mine turn into a daily brain dump so I struggle with knowing which three.”

Knowing what to put on the card—that is the hardest part for everybody. And so, what we have to remember is the reason why we do a daily card every single day is for the practice so that we keep iterating, we keep learning, we learn from the previous day, and implement that the next day. 

So, the more and more we practice, the better and better we get at knowing what needs to go on the list. If you’ve made a daily card before and you find at the end of the day that really what you put on your list was wishful thinking and not what actually was important to do today that’s something to think about. That’s what you adjust moving forward. And what I found when I recognized that as well, was that I make a better daily list when I do it the night before rather than the morning of (and that’s not a universal thing.) It really depends on person to person. But, for myself, when I stop at the end of the day and I look at the list that I made for that day and see what did and didn’t happen, I make a more realistic plan for the next day when I’m tired and wishing I had accomplished what was on my list. And also recognizing the wishful thinking or how things changed that day that made the priority shift. Or recognizing, ‘Okay, I put that on my list and I didn’t do it, I’m procrastinating that. It needs to keep going on the list and I’m going to put it on there.’ 

In the morning, I feel more like, ‘Oh, fresh start, everything’s possible!’ I tend to be more energetic and optimistic in the morning and my to do list will reflect that. So, I make a more realistic to do list if I do it the night before. Your mileage may vary, but the point really, is to try it out. Try different times, try different formats, try different ways to write out your list, and learn. 

So, think of each daily list as an experiment and you can apply what you’ve learned to the next day’s card. 

At Simply Convivial we do not believe in one-size-fits-all solutions, plans, or check lists. I’m all about teaching you the principles and the skills that you need to figure out what’s going to work for you in your particular situation with your particular needs. If that’s what you need then make sure to subscribe and check out some of my other videos, including my series on Getting Your Life Organized in One Week. Check those out here. 

Always remember that your attitude is the most important part of your organization project. So, repent, rejoice, repeat. See you next time.

Apr 15 2020

6mins

Play

How to keep your to-do list short

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We all know the feeling. There’s just too much to do. Do you ever feel like the more you have to do the less you actually get done? That’s a real thing. There’s a reason for that. And it’s decision fatigue. The first step that you have to do to prevent decision fatigue and then to get started is decide what to actually do next. It seems simple but it can be hard. The more options there are, the more that’s rattling around in your head, the more thought and energy it takes to come to a conclusion and just get started. 

Let me show you how to streamline the decision-making process so you can do what needs to be done no matter how long or short your to do list is. Let’s dig in.

So, let’s figure out how to make our to do lists short and simple, so we can actually get them done each day.

Step one is that you actually need two to do lists. 

One is your master list. A running list of all the things that need to happen; big or small, routine or not. Everything that needs to happen needs to be written down and kept. But that’s not your to do list that you actually work from day to day. Think of it like the safe-keeping place so that you’re not keeping track of everything in your head—you’re keeping things safe and written down where you can refer to it as needed, jog your memory, where you’re not afraid you’re going to lose something or forget something.

Then, you need the actionable daily to do list. You can choose from that master list what goes on today’s list, but the list that you’re making for today is short. It’s prioritized. It’s a list of what’s most important today. Sometimes that’s going to be something that’s not even on your master list. Days are like that. Keeping a daily to do list allows you that flexibility you need to adjust to real life as it unrolls. 

Your daily to do list then is a prioritized list. It is not even all the things that you will do. It is your top three things for the day, the three things that, if you do those it’s going to be better tomorrow. The three things that are going to make a difference. It’s easy to get distracted of the little things that pile up but then we end up never getting to those important things that aren’t necessarily urgent. 

This short daily to do list is where we make sure that we do not lose sight of what’s important in our days. Now, we need to keep this to do list short because we don’t have unlimited time, we don’t have unlimited energy either. So, we have to choose. We have to make tough choices and then we need to write them down so that we can stick with those choices. 

And we make this list every day because every day our time is a little bit different—the time we have available, the kind of energy that we have available—and so we can look at what we actually have by looking at our calendar, looking at our commitments, and we can choose what’s most important. 

Sometimes, appointments might take up all day and so we don’t want to write a list that assumes we’ll be able to get a lot of home projects done. Or maybe even any of our routines done. Our daily to do list is made in light of the reality of today. 

It takes practice and experience to know how to pick a viable, realistic top three. It’s not something that anyone can tell you what you should pick. It’s something that you have to think about, figure out, try, experiment, iterate, and continually learn from your own experience by evaluating how it went, making observations, and moving forward in light of what you learn. In this way, with this daily practice of learning how we work, learning what our real responsibilities are, recognizing what we tend to procrastinate on, and seeing what’s really important. 

In this practice, over time, we make better and better choices. And, because those are self-determined choices that we know are realistic and necessary, we also grow in our self-motivation and momentum and follow through in actually doing them. And that’s really what we’re after. 

So, you need to identify your priorities. That’s hard to do but you’ll get better at it with practice. So, practice every day and write three to do’s down on a daily index card. 

You will, of course, do more in a day than the three things written down on your index card, but if you start with what’s most important, you’ll feel better about how you’ve used your time and you’ll probably even get more done in the long run because you’re focused and clear. You’ll see you’re spending your time well. 

We tend to waste more time in distraction and indecision when we aren’t working from a clear list. So, give it a shot. Try it out. And let me know in the comments below how it’s working for you. 

At Simply Convivial we do not believe in one-size-fits all plans. I’m all about teaching you the principles and the skills that you need to figure out what’s going to work for you in your particular situation with your particular needs.

Always remember that your attitude is the most important part of your organization project. So, repent, rejoice, repeat.

Apr 08 2020

7mins

Play

Make a simple, daily to-do list

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Have you ever been frustrated trying to use a planner? Have you ever worried that you spend more time writing in your planner and decorating your planner than actually doing what that pretty plan tells you to do? Let me share my quick planner hack that streamlines the process and keeps me focused on the most important things to do each day. Let’s dig in.

I know, planners are pretty. They’re fun. But a lot of the ones that we can buy pre-printed, packaged, ready to go are actually over kill. They contain sections and questions and areas that maybe (maybe!) work for the person who designed it and implemented it, and maybe they work for some people, but just because a tactic or a format works for one person does not mean that it’s the thing that will work for anyone and everyone.
Instead of searching for and continually trying for that planner that will magically, suddenly make us into planners—not just make a plan but then do the plan—we need to find planning strategies that are simple, streamlined, and personalized. And that’s the planner hack I have for you today. 

Try to figure out what you need to make a consistent daily plan that actually works. We have to think about what the point of it all really is. Why have a planner in the first place? Why write things down? And you’ve probably thought about that already, maybe in the spirit of ‘Do I have to?’ or ‘What’s the point because I seem to just be wasting my time?’ And the reality is that a lot of planning is wasting time, but that’s because of the kind of plan that we make and not that all planning is always a waste of time.

When we make plans that are based on wishful thinking that’s a waste of time. We need to plan for right now, our current reality, our current responsibilities, and then our plan will be effective. I think that a good question we can ask is, what’s the least amount of effort that I have to do to create an effective plan, a plan that I will use and follow through on? And my answer to that question is all you need is a post-it note!

Using a post-it note to make our daily plans helps us remember that not only our time, but even our energy and our attention, our abilities, are limited. We can’t do everything that we might be keeping on some other to do list. We have to pick the things that are most important. And then we write down the things that are most important on a small piece of paper that we can keep in front of our face. Then we are more likely to follow through on tasks because they’re not vague, nebulous “I coulda, shoulda, some day do this thing.” We have specified and written down and thought about what it is we actually have to do. 

So, on your post-it note every day, at the beginning of the day or maybe at the end of the day (the day before) write down your top three things. That’s a hard thing to do. It’s a skill that we have to practice. And we will get better and better the more we practice it at choosing what those top three things really are. 
But the exercise of having to choose, having to narrow it down and pick three, is all a part of what makes it actually work because the best planning is mostly a thinking exercise. It’s not that in writing something down it’s more likely to happen. In reality, it is having thought about it and putting our priorities and what we need to be paying attention to top-of-mind and visible in front of our faces that makes it actually able to happen. 

Our minds are for thinking and we need to give ourselves the time and the prompts to actually think about what’s most important just today. And the daily card (or post-it note) is an exercise that helps us do just that. Because we are limited—we’re limited in time, we’re limited in resources, we’re limited in energy—our to do list also needs to be limited. 

And the tiny size of a post-it note is a visible reminder of that. Writing what needs to happen out by hand every day helps us focus on our priorities. It allows us to adjust the plan as needed as life unfolds. And it puts our responsibilities right in front of our face. The great thing about a post-it note is that it’s sticky. I can put this on the top of the computer monitor. I can put this on the front cover of my planner so that it’s right there. I can put it on the back of my phone and have it right with me in my pocket. 

A post-it note is super flexible and can help us keep our priorities visible. And that’s really key because a planner (no matter what kind of planner) will not work unless you look at it! 
So, I challenge you to try out this quick, simple, cheap option for your own daily to do list. Try it for at least a week. Give it a fair shot. Practice and see what happens. 

Over at Simply Convivial I’ve put together a Daily Card Quick Start Guide that will help you get going with this small, simple habit. It will teach you how to make and use this card (or post-it note) every day and give you a checklist so that you can hold yourself accountable to actually trying this out for yourself. And, where you can always write down your observations about what you learn about this method (and also yourself) so that you can figure out a plan that works for you. Visit SimplyConvivial.com to find that today.

At Simply Convivial we do not believe in one-size-fits-all solutions, plans, or checklists. I’m all about teaching you the principles and the skills that you need to figure out what’s going to work for you in your particular situation with your particular needs. If that’s what you need then make sure to subscribe and check out some of my other videos. But always remember, that your attitude is the most important part of your organization project. So, repent, rejoice, repeat.

Apr 02 2020

8mins

Play

Decluttering once a week is all it takes.

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Transformation Tuesday is our answer to the complicated, overbearing cleaning and organizing checklists out there.

You don’t need to clean by someone else’s schedule.

Instead, see what needs to be done in your own home, and spend 10 minutes improving the order and organization there.

Transformation Tuesday is one of my little homemaking mottos that helps me tackle housecleaning in small bites and tame my attitude at the same time. Cleaning and decluttering should just be a small piece of your weekly cleaning routine. 

When we wonder how to organize our life, we usually think about containers, labels, and homes that magically stay clean without further effort. But someone who is organized is someone willing to continue taking the effort of homekeeping, to maintain the work consistently.

Transformation Tuesday is a catchy reminder to spend 10 minutes once a week cleaning or reorganizing a small area that will positively affect at least your peace of mind and maybe even your personal productivity.

No one can tell you what that area ought to be. Each week you pick the thing that’s bothering you, that’s holding you up, that’s the biggest (small) problem area. Each week you take just ten minutes and make an improvement in order and tidiness in that small spot.

This accomplishes more than just the small amount of order. It also, gradually, changes our perspective and attitude about organization itself.

When organizing an area is no longer a huge, overwhelming, whole-closet or whole-house project, but just a ten minute focus, we overcome our mental and emotional hurdles to becoming more organized.

We aren’t going for night and day or for whole-new-self change. We’re just going for 10 minutes of better. We succeed at that. We appreciate the difference it made. We are less devastated when the work is inevitably undone by normal, everyday entropy. After all, it was only ten minutes. We can do that again.

And when you do, take a before and after picture! Share on Instagram with the #simplyconvivial hashtag and tag me. We’re forming an open, honest, real-life community of homemakers who spur one another on to cheerful attitudes and good work at home.

Mar 24 2020

5mins

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Make decluttering a habit

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I wanted to talk about decluttering as a habit because there’s this rumor floating out there on decluttering (from experts and gurus) who say that “decluttering can be done once and for all.” That it’s a project you finish and check off and be done with (which is really what we all want to hear, isn’t it?). 

We really want it to be something that we can achieve: “Achievement unlocked! We are now decluttered and forever and all time, moving forward. Now we have the right habits, the right house, the right organization. We won’t have to do that again!” That’s just not the way it really is in real life. Not our kind of real life anyway. Not family life. Not home life where you have a lot of people in one house actually living a full life—which means a lot of stuff—and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. 

I think there’s a lot of hope and happiness pinned even on minimalism (on eliminating as much as stuff as possible) as if I manage to do [that], get [that achievement unlocked] then I will be happy. Then I will be a good housekeeper. Then I will love my house. Then my family won’t drive me crazy. Then the lights shine brightly and angels sing, “la” and we have achieved our housekeeping, homemaking goal! Decluttered once and for all, now we can move forward and do this thing right.

And that appeals to our desire to achieve our ambition. It appeals to just wanting to be done. To figure things out and do things right. But the reality is that stuff comes into our house still and it’s just something we have to keep up with. It’s just one more thing—like dishes and the laundry and meals—that has to be continually addressed. We should declutter in order to use our space wisely, but our life changes, our needs change, sometimes our house situation changes, the ages of our children and their stages change, and we need to adjust. We will continually go through that process of figuring out, “Well, I saved this because I thought I would need it. 

These are just questions in wisdom and stewardship that we need to be continually asking and assessing and working through because life and our situations change and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not because we’re doing it wrong, it’s not because if we had this thing figured out we wouldn’t have to anymore. 

When the stuff is used as the measure stick it’s just wrong. It’s not going to work. It’s not true. It’s not accurate. And it focuses us on the wrong things. So, the stuff is just stuff that we do have to manage and steward. There isn’t a universal one-size fits all plan for how much stuff you ought to have, what you ought to keep, what you ought to get rid of. 

So, decluttering will be put in its proper place if we think of it as a habit and not as the holy grail, the step that we need to complete in order to take the next steps of perfect homemaking. 

And so, if instead of thinking of it as a project that we’re going to finish, we think of it as a habit we’re going to build, it breaks it down, we take smaller steps, we work it into our routines and our awareness in the smaller chunks of time and energy, and in the end we actually make more progress because we’re continually applying ourselves to it, we aren’t frustrated because it’s not complete yet because we’re not expecting it to be complete, and we aren’t waiting to make other steps and other changes until it’s over and complete.

Mar 19 2020

10mins

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How to clear clutter - step-by-step guide

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So, we talk a lot about needing to declutter, but part of what holds us back from just diving in and making some progress in decluttering is that even though we say that we are doing this project we don’t really understand how to do it. We don’t understand what the project really is, what it entails, what we set out to accomplish. It remains this, kind of, vague, nebulous project that we can’t define. And that means we can’t see progress made. And when we don’t know what we’re going to do next, we end up not doing anything at all. So, in order to declutter our homes, we need to understand the process of decluttering and it’s really very simple. It’s a little bit scary, but what you need to remember is to start with an amount of space that you can actually tackle in the amount of time that you have. What I like to do is choose a spot that I can actually declutter in 10 minutes or less, because even when I think I have half an hour I often don’t. But 10 minutes I can probably manage that, or at least, if some interruption comes a 10 minute declutter session is easier to come back to and finish up, whereas longer projects not so much. 

The first step of decluttering is actually removing everything from the space—that’s scary, that’s a big deal, I know, but it’s really the most effective, efficient way to declutter. But that’s why it’s so important to start with a very small space. So, a single drawer (or even a section of a drawer), a single shelf in a closet (and not the whole closet), one container at a time decluttering; not entire rooms or even entire closets—a small space. Empty it out entirely onto a table, or some other space—just move it out. 

Then the next thing I like to do is to just throw away the garbage that came out in that process. Ideally, it doesn’t even make it onto the table (or whatever other space I’m emptying things out on), but as I’m pulling it out it just goes into the trash. And still, if there is some junk on the counter (or wherever this pile has ended up), I go through and throw away the trash because that’s the fastest, easiest, most obvious step to take first. And the more visible progress you can make quickly the more momentum that you get. You’re seeing that success and you’re seeing progress right away and that helps you keep the momentum and the energy moving forward to get the job done. 

So, we don’t start with the hardest part (although emptying the entire space might have been hard, mentally or emotionally) but then we do something easy—we just throw away the garbage. And, it’s amazing sometimes how much difference that makes right there. 

Next, we’re looking at all this stuff that’s out to see. Now, none of it’s where it belongs because none of it belongs on the bed or the counter or the table or wherever we’ve put it, and we see things that belong somewhere else. So they have homes, we know what they are, we know where they belong and it’s not here and it’s not in that drawer that we just emptied. So, we go put those things away. This is where distraction is tempting. This is where we might get an idea, see something else that needs to be done, get interrupted by a child, or something, so we have to be very careful and try to do this very quickly.

Mar 10 2020

11mins

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How to declutter in bite-sized steps

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So, what even is decluttering and why is it something that we keep trying to do and keep feeling like we never make any progress doing? Yeah, that’s right—you are not the only one. Decluttering is getting rid of clutter. So, before we can understand declutter, we have to think about what clutter really is. Sometimes we just use it as a generic insult to stuff we don’t necessarily want or want to deal with. But clutter is referring to those things that are not where they belong, or they are some place where they don’t belong. And so, when we’re looking in a closet, in a cupboard, in a drawer, in a whole room, and we say, “It’s cluttered,” what we mean is that it’s full of stuff that does not belong there. 

So, the process of decluttering, then, means going through the space and removing what does not belong. Organizing the space then is putting the things away well, strategically, smartly, in the place they do belong. But decluttering comes before organizing. And you really can’t organize a space that has not been decluttered because if the space has stuff that doesn’t belong there, it can’t be organized there. It needs to be removed so that the things that do belong can then be ordered and tidied well; so, decluttering means getting rid of the things that do not belong. 

We keep coming back to this project of decluttering because it’s a part of the process of actually stewarding or managing our resources well. Things tend toward disorder, things fall apart, new things come in, and the way that we use a space or the way that we need to use a space changes. So, the fact that you need to declutter doesn’t even mean necessarily that something is wrong, or you’ve failed in some way, it just means that the task before you is clear—declutter the space. 

Of course, when we look around our home there are so many spaces that need to be decluttered (I mean, we are not even going to talk about kid bedrooms)! But we just need to be satisfied taking small steps forward, making a little bit of progress in a small amount of space; steadily, strategically, and consistently. And that’s what we’re going to do in this series where we are focusing on decluttering. We aren’t just going to talk about decluttering and we aren’t only going to pep talk decluttering (although we are going to do that as well), we are going to find ways to build decluttering as a habit in our life because our spaces are always going to need decluttering. 
Things are always going to wind up where they don’t belong because that’s just the way family life works. Not to mention the way that we need to use the space changes—something did belong in a particular spot at one point but no longer does because that’s now not the point of the space.

Mar 04 2020

6mins

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Truth and practicality together

By VandyGirl147 - May 19 2020
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I’m naturally a more organized person. Sometimes, maybe too concerned about it, to the detriment of loving my people well. Misty keeps bringing me back to the truth that organizing my attitude FIRST (and repeatedly) will be the path that brings lasting joy, peace, and organization.

Pantry episode

By ianostrowski@ - May 16 2020
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This is so helpful! I’ve tried to menu plan but now I understand I a a pantry cook! Thank you!