Here is an Update on our Family Happenings

medium_3434038768Big news:  Baby #4 is due on February 24th!  It’s a boy and we are so excited to even out the teams.  I have spent the last couple of months editing our collection of baby hand-me-downs and finally have a handle on the boy’s clothes.  So far, everything is going well with the pregnancy and I didn’t have any problems with morning sickness or some of the usual aches and pains that I normally get.  The only thing I noticed in the summer is that I would get a little wheezy in the evenings during allergy season.  I would attribute my lack of aches and pains to being in better shape this time around from having done crossfit at our local gym.  Normally, I suffer pretty badly from Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction or SPD as it is commonly called and waddling becomes a way of life for me pretty early on (usually toward the end of the 1st trimester).  One exercise that I have found to be beneficial in combating the pain has been to exercise on a machine that does the hip abduction movement.  Here is a link to a site with a good picture of the exercise. (I am not endorsing the product, I just think the pic is a good description of what I am talking about) …The one with the pads on the outside of the knees works but be careful doing its complimentary movement, the hip adduction as that can put more separating stress on that pubic joint and cause you more pain.  Also, doing body weight squats where your knees don’t bend any more than 90 degrees helps!

Well, as some of you know, we had been planning on moving and finally, over Christmas, that has become a reality!  We set out on the 26th of December and drove to our new home in Kansas!  Unfortunately, we didn’t have much of a Christmas because our house in Tennessee was all packed up.  We ended up splitting Christmas into 3 parts:  one day for opening gifts our relatives and friends sent to us before Christmas and the movers arrival, Santa came on his regular night (we did Santa the Italian way and put the kids’ shoes out instead of stockings because by then, everything was all packed up.)  Here is a fun quiz I found about Christmas.  Apparantly, Italy is not the only country to have Santa fill shoes.

We ended up staying in a hotel for about 2 weeks while we were getting into our house.  Let me tell you; 2 weeks in a hotel with 3 small children is definitely no picnic and by the time we were moving out of there and into our house, we were more than ready to go!

Now, our household belongings have arrived and we are beginning the long, arduous process of unpacking everything.  I still think we have too much stuff, even after all the purging and organizing projects I have worked on over the past year.   This house does not have a linen closet but instead has a bank of cabinets under a counter-top in the laundry room.  I will have to figure out a way to re-organize our linens a bit differently in order to fit into the cabinets.  As we unpack, I am still finding quite a few things that should have been purged prior to boxing everything up and finding places to put things is always an interesting challenge.

photo credit: dataceptionist via photopin cc

Getting Things Done – Part 4

Ugh, I have been a negligent blogger and I am sorry.  There have been lots of exciting things going on in our household over the past few months!  Since I don’t want to leave this series unfinished (which would not be a very good reflection of someone who loves the GTD system, would it?) I am going to wrap up  this series on David Allen’s Getting Things Done system by including a couple of pics of my own filing system and the tickler file I have going in my desk lest you mistakenly think that I am some kind of ultra-organized person!

If you missed my last posts on this series, here is part 1, part 2, and part 3

I know that when setting up the inbox and doing the initial information download, I said your inbox will probably get really full.  At the beginning, I had enough paperwork, project items to fill about 3 of those 9×12 wire office inboxes  and it was quite the mountain of stuff.  Honestly, I can say that I consistently fill this inbox up pretty full quite often.    There is a lot of paperwork, etc. that flows through our household.  I like the wire mesh inbox that I got at the supercenter because it lets me see through to the bottom of my pile :).  I have everything in there from a couple of books, random papers, and a sewing project that needed some re-working.  All of my projects/ paperwork that needs my attention is kept in the same place.  This has prevented me from losing track of projects because I keep everything consolidated in one area that gets looked through frequently.

Here is a picture of where I currently store my file folders.

Milk Crate File Box

Milk Crate File Box

I picked this milk crate up at Wal-Mart this summer when the school supplies were on sale.  I think they do keep a few of them around off-season but your color selection will be more limited if you were to go out and shop for one here in January.  I don’t plan on keeping my files in this milk crate indefinitely and will eventually pair this collection down as I discover which files I use frequently enough to keep in the desk file drawer.  The other files will go into our big ol’ metal file cabinet where other archival files are kept that we don’t access very often.

I probably have close to 80 file folders in this milk crate.  Eventually I will cull these and get them out of the milk crate once I get a handle on which ones we use most often.  Those will go into my desk drawer behind the tickler file  and the others will go into the 4-drawer metal filing cabinet.  Some will probably be emptied out if I determine that their contents are not important enough to save.  David Allen recommends using a label maker to label file folders.  I have not adopted this yet even though I just went and bought some more tape for my label maker.  For now, I am using pencil and that seems to work fine for me.

This is the tickler file.

Tickler File

Tickler File

I have a folder for each month.  There is also a folder for each day.  This is like my daily inbox and often times the things from my inbox end up going right into the tickler file.  Notice that I have some yellow post it notes with days affixed to some of the files.   This is just another reminder and acts as a calendar-at-a-glance.  I like to know what day any particular upcoming date will fall on.  It helps me sort out my weekly schedule in my head.

I hope some of this has been helpful to those of you who are interested in starting this system in your own lives.  It really has helped me get a handle on the flow of information through our household.  I have to say that consistency is the key to success with this system.  There have been times when I have not consistently stuck with culling my inbox and updating my lists via the daily update and playing catch-up definitely makes for a more laborious work session.  When I stick with the daily inbox part of the program, my productivity dramatically increases, I no longer get that deer in the headlights feeling when I look at my appointment book, feeling like I have missed something important.  For me, it is just plain easier to start each day with a smile when I know that I have done the necessary preparatory work (ie. my inbox processing and list review) to allow for a smooth way through the next day.

A couple of things that I plan on doing to change the way I use this system in the future for this year will include creating a file section for this year’s files behind the tickler file in the file drawer.  It will hold those file folders that I regularly access for our activities we do throughout the year in addition to a folder where I will collect tax documents for 2014.  Next January, I will purge the 2014 files and toss out the papers that I won’t need for the following year and transfer the folders over that we will continue to use.

Getting Things Done – Part 3

So far, I have discussed how I have started in the Getting Things Done system and have gotten to the point of creating a tickler file and doing a big brain dump.  If you are interested in my previous posts on this topic, check out part 1 and part 2.  The next step I took in implementing the system was to prioritize my large brain-dump list.  Obviously after looking at that list and getting all of the thoughts out of my head and onto paper was helpful in clearing my mind.  In order to build trust in the system, I had to take the next step and process through each of those list items.  Not every item on my list was an actionable item.  Actionable to me means that it is something I can accomplish or something that needs to be accomplished in the next week or two.  David Allen suggests that you scrub your inbox and your list and do anything right then and there that will only take 2 minutes to complete.  I think this is a great idea because sitting down to process through your list and your inbox is an arduous task and someone like me could easily get distracted from completing the entire process.  Anything that can’t be accomplished in 2 minutes or less needs to be prioritized and filed in the appropriate file folder.  For me, I ended up creating a ton of file folders during this process.  Don’t be surprised if the same thing happens to you.  Now, just filing something away into a folder was a little concerning to me because I was worried that I would just forget about the things I filed away.  This is where my running lists come in.  I have prioritized everything in my inbox and in the brain dump list into 3 different categories.  These are:  Short term (aka next couple of days), Mid term (1-3 weeks) and long-term projects (3 weeks or longer).  I also need to say that I keep a 4th list titled Someday/ Maybe and this is where I put all the things I would like to do if I have time.

Prioritizing tasks helps to keep track of all the paperwork, appointments, and thoughts running through your head and it puts you in a great position to start taking action on things to start reducing the size of the lists and that will really make you feel like you are getting things done.

Grand Opening Day: It’s not all just crickets

Grand Opening Banner

Grand Opening Banner

Well, today was the start of my Grand Opening Sale at Blue Camellia, the children’s clothing store I opened up.  I am trying something a little different and thought about getting a website and going that route.  After doing a little research, I decided that starting out on Facebook was the best way to go since I am a small (aka 1-mom) operation.  It is definitely a little nerve wrecking to open up a store of any sort.  Thoughts run through your head…”Will anyone like what I make?”  “Will anyone actually want to buy from a Facebook store?”  Or, “What if I get too many orders right at the start?”  The later is the less likely scenario but still took its spot running through my head over the last few weeks leading up to the opening.

I will be posting new items for sale as I make them through out the rest of the month and will be relying on word of mouth to spread the word.  I am hoping to wow my customers with my outstanding service, attention, and quality.  Come on by and check it out.  If you have any suggestions, I am all ears.

Getting Things Done – Part 2

Getting Things Done, or GTD as I like to call it has been a very helpful information management system in my life since I decided to implement it in our house.  In part 1 of this series, I discussed the importance of the brain dump and how it helps in getting the whole system started.  From that initial brain dump, I now have a running projects list that I refer to on a daily basis (usually multiple times per day).  At first, when I listed out everything that was being cataloged and remembered in my brain, I ended up with a huge list of projects, dates to remember, daily routine items, and other random thoughts.  Seeing it all on paper was good because it was out of my head and the stress of trying to keep up with it all melted away.   I have always been a lover of lists and my previous method of organizing my day consisted of a pretty detailed to do list.  Often, I felt like I wasn’t really accomplishing some of the larger, more thought or labor intensive projects as quickly as I wanted to.  The mental energy that most people spend on simply having those things in the back of their minds is a pretty large amount and it can cause most people to feel like they are not getting anywhere because they are not feeling the relief of moving forward on those things.

The brain dump helped me to get those things onto paper and the next step I took was to organize those thoughts along with the process of organizing all the other things I was moving into my inbox.  The first thing I did to help myself organize these things (most of them now on paper) was to go and purchase 2 large boxes of manilla file folders.  They have the tabs and those are what I prefer because they enable you to see the different topics that are on each file heading in the file drawer/ box.

Once I had a good stash of folders, I set up something that David Allen calls a tickler file.  I have 1 manilla folder for each day of the month and these are numbered 1-31.  Each month has its own manilla folder as well.  Additionally, I made some post it notes with the headers for each day of the week.  For example, today is Tuesday, July 9th.  On the #9 folder, I put the post-it note that says Tuesday on it just as a way to help me remember what day it is when looking at my file.  I am not sure how long that part of my filing system will last but for now it seems to be working.  The tickler file is kind of like an inbox holding area.  If I get a flyer or some other item that does not need to be processed immediately because it is scheduled to happen next week or next month or even in 6 months, I can just put that paper reminder into the proper file folder.  In the morning before starting my day, (I would ideally have emptied my inbox on the desk the previous night) I look in the tickler file folder for that day to see if it contains any of those paper actionable items or reminders that are specific to that day.  If you use the tickler file every day, it is a great way to keep the paper clutter at a manageable level.  Also, it is almost like mailing yourself something in the future because you know that you will get your hands on it at the appropriate time because you have taken the time to file it away in the right folder in the tickler file.

Getting Things Done – Part 1

I recently read this awesome book while I was on vacation.  (I should say up front that I purchased this book with my own money, I was not compensated in any way for talking about this book.)  It is called Getting Things Done by David Allen.

I don’t know about some of you all but I have to admit that sometimes I feel like I get bogged down by all the minutia that life throws at me.  Sometimes I find myself spinning my wheels, working hard but seemingly getting nothing done.  It can be downright frustrating.  I am the kind of person who likes to have goals.  I enjoy working toward those goals and finally accomplishing them, however long it may take.   When I am at the point where I am spinning my wheels, I feel like I am making no progress toward my goalsEven though I work at home, information management and flow is a key ingredient in getting a household to run smoothly.   I had read about the book a year ago while I was surfing around Amazon, looking for a good title on productivity.  This particular title kept coming up in my searches and I probably read every single customer review about the book and a great deal of the info that David Allen has on his website about using his system.  In fact, I actually tried implementing the system to some extent without having read his book because I really liked the method he uses and I thought it wouldn’t be all that difficult to start doing “GTD” in my own household.  His method to capture, track, and catalog all the different pieces of information that come into our lives is pretty simple and straight forward.   Bottom line:  limit the information flow by keeping it collected to process daily in a central (trusted) location.  This is the inbox and it is the place where every appointment reminder, phone message, shopping list, husband’s bright idea, my bright ideas, mail, and anything else you can think of will be collected.  This alone solves the organizational problems that a number of us have with our current piling systems.  Notice earlier that I said the inbox must be trusted.  This is very important and I think it is one of the reasons why so many people resort to a piling system.  They are afraid that if it gets put out of sight, it will also be forgotten by them because they have so much on their minds in the first place.

The first step I did in beginning the Getting Things Done  (GTD) process was to get out a blank sheet of paper and a pencil and write down everything that was floating around in my mind.  I mean everything!  I listed things that worried me, things that bothered me, appointments that I was trying to remember to make/ have/ keep, projects I had left undone, good idea bombs that were just waiting to go off, and anything else that was cluttering my mind.  I came up with 84 things and probably half of those were short-term items that needed to be accomplished in the next month if I wanted to be productive.  84 is way too many things to keep running around in your head all at once.  Sure, I used a calendar and wrote down major things.  I wrote out shopping lists before going to the store.   I also did a number of other things to help keep our family’s life running smoothly but the problem was that it was taxing my mental energy too much and it was causing me to feel stressed out.

By doing a good brain dump and getting everything written down, I felt immensely more clear-headed and ready to tackle some of those 84 things.  Brain dumping is a great exercise and can be extremely helpful in productivity improvement if it is used the right way.  In the GTD system, you work on building the system so that you trust it enough to keep track of things for you that you would normally let run around in your head.  In the next post, I’ll discuss where I went with this system after the brain dump.  If you are considering implementing something like GTD in your own life, I highly recommend getting David’s book and checking it out for yourself as he does an excellent job of explaining each aspect of the system and how to work it into your life/ work.  Please excuse me, I need to go sort through my inbox!