Are you always doing “just one more thing?”

This summer I have been realizing that my bad habit of doing “just one more thing” is becoming a problem. 

Maybe you know what I’m talking about – it’s time to head out the door, but instead of grabbing the keys and going, you run & put in a load of laundry, start the dishwasher, send one last email, make a trip to the bathroom, or grab a book.  One more thing that you have convinced yourself will be quick & has to be done before you leave.

I catch myself doing it all the time. 

“Just one more thing”

It’s a bit like multi-tasking.  Dividing your time up & letting your energy be drawn from one thing to another.  Your brain’s not fully engaged in anything, but running from one thing to the next.  For me, this usually means that once I do actually get in the car, I’ll realize the keys are still sitting in their dish or I forgot my water bottle. 

I’m pretty sure I have tried to justified this bad habit by telling myself that I am getting things done;  being productive & efficient.  But I’m kidding myself.  And this habit comes with a cost.  Rushing.  Arriving to events late.  Watching my family wait in the car.  Making excuses.  Feeling frazzled.

This kind of thinking is also out-of-alignment with the goal of creating a simpler life.  “Just one more thing” thinking means that what you have done isn’t enough and is a mindset that there is always more to do. 

So here’s what I have come up with to shift my patterns.  Ponder these if you too are plagued by the “just one more thing” habit & feel ready to make a change.

Notice the Usual Pattern   As it gets closer to the time when you need to head out the door or switch gears, notice your usual pattern.  How much time do you need to transition?  Take note of this & make sure you are offering yourself more than enough time to move from one task to another.

Be Realistic    Do a little time study.  Notice the amount of time it takes to complete the tasks you seem to add in at the last minute.  How many minutes does it take you to put in a load of laundry, fill your water bottle, brush your teeth, or (fill in the blank)?  When you know the actual numbers, you can make a better decision.  Decide to do that one more thing & you could be that many minutes behind.

Set a Timer    Let a timer be the reminder that you have to be out the door at a certain time.  When the timer goes off, you have a cue to be done with whatever task you are on & move on.

Shorten the To-Do List    You probably are biting off more than you can chew in a day.  Shorten the expectation around how much you need to get done & the pressure to do one more thing can decrease.

Schedule Time for Those Extras    Create time in your day or week for those extra things that you have been trying to squeeze in at the last minute.  Fill your water bottle first thing in the morning or do laundry on the evening that is free from running to meetings or activities.

Create a launchpad    Make space near the door for the items that you always want with you as you leave the house.  Keys, water bottle, book, hat… whatever it is that you would usually run and hunt for when it’s time to go.  Let those things hang out, ready for you when you leave.

Your Turn…

“Just one more thing” thinking doesn’t just happen when it’s time to leave.  You might find yourself falling into this habit when you are engrossed in a project, on the phone, or out running errands.  One more thing is a habit that can create time crunching & a frantic energy.

Notice how many times you add just one more thing into the day & see how it makes you feel.  Awareness is the first step to making a change.  Start there & when you feel ready, add one simple shift to break this pattern.

Tell me what you try!  I’d love to hear if any of the solutions stick for you!

What happens to all that waste?

Do you ever find yourself standing by the recycling bin questioning whether or not the item in your hand is actually recyclable?  

I find myself in this situation often.  Wanting to do as much as I can to avoid sending more to the landfill but unsure just how much is really recyclable.  This is especially true as we declutter. 

Which led me to take a tour of the Rice County Landfill, Recycling, and Household Hazardous Waste Facilities.  It was something that I had on my to-do list for a long time & it was exciting to see first-hand what really happens after the trash & recycling leave our curbs.

The tour was led by Paul Pieper, who has 16 years of experience making sure the disposal of our stuff is done efficiently and with care.  We started at the Recycling Center which includes a huge collection shed where trucks pull in and dump the recycling from the county.  36 tons of recyclable material comes through the center a day.  It is dumped, collected & loaded onto trucks to be hauled away for sorting. 

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Paul explained that in 2008, Rice County made a shift from sorting at their location to sending it out to be processed.  This coincided with the shift to the single-sort recycling method for households & businesses.  There was a 60% increase in amount recycled with the single-sort method.

As we looked at the huge pile waiting to be loaded, Paul pointed out some of the items that really didn’t belong and that would need to be sorted out at the MRF or Material Recovery Facility.  While there is a great urge to recycle as much as you can, the county advises that we stick to the items on their list.  This ensures that the process can be done more efficiently at the sorting site.  Here is the list of things we can recycle in our county.  

We moved on to the other areas of the facility where residents can drop off items for recycling and proper disposal.  This area collects a wide variety of items, including mattresses, tires, old appliances, and electronics.  There are processing fees for these materials, but it was reassuring to know that our large, unusable items can be broken down & salvaged.  Check out the recycling rates here and the rates for e-waste here

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I was so impressed by how organized, efficient & helpful the facility & staff make the process.  Areas are labeled for quick, convenient drop-off and staff was willing to lend a helping hand when needed.

The Household Hazardous Waste area was next.  This is where items, such as paint, rechargeable batteries, and household cleaners, are collected.  The items are sorted and assessed.  If they are still in usable condition then they can be passed on to county residents in the Re-use shop.  The shop offers cans of paint, automotive products, and cleaning supplies for free.  Paul mentioned that their location is convenient for residents that are on their way to Menards for a project.  They can make a stop at the Re-use shop first and save some money on their supplies.

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The last part of the tour was to the landfill.  On the way we saw the collection sites for steel, yard waste, and demolition materials.   And then there it was- a huge pile of trash being smashed & shaped as we looked on.  It was a big reminder that our garbage doesn’t just disappear after it leaves our door.

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I left the center renewed in my mission- to do everything I can to ensure that we are letting go of the items that we no longer need in ways that are responsible and environmentally conscious, which means I want to pass on as much knowledge as I can about how to recycle, refurbish, or reuse those items.  And keep as much as possible from heading to the landfill.  It might take a little extra energy to make decisions & find homes for your unwanted items, but I know it is worth it.  Every little thing helps.

Your Turn…

I believe that knowledge is power.  Information offers us the power to make informed decisions and do what we can to make a difference. 

When you are ready to get rid of things that you no longer want or need.  Ask yourself these questions before placing it in the trash:

Can I donate it?

Could it be refurbished or repaired?

Is it recyclable? 

Refer to the resources offered by your local recycling center or enlist my support when you are unsure or want the decisions to come easier.

Next steps…

Don’t let the decisions around the what, where, & how stop you from letting go.  When in doubt, make a phone call to your county’s recycling center & get your question answered.  Or set up an appointment & together we can find homes for your unwanted items.

Did you know I can leave with your unwanted items?  For a small fee, I lift the burden and deliver your items to the location that best fits their next life.

Let’s take advantage of the resources that our communities have in place to help us responsibly care for our stuff & our world.

TiP for Your TUESDAY!

 baking boundary

Create some boundaries

Adding boundaries can keep things from getting out-of-hand.  A boundary can keep all those items that would typically roll around in a drawer, multiply without you noticing, or get lost in the back of a cabinet, contained & ready for use.  And boundaries around time & activities can keep the calendar from becoming a hectic mess and your energy drained.

Implement a boundary by adding a container that holds “just enough & not more,” or saying no to the things that deplete instead of restore your energy.

How to fit JOY into your Cluttered Holiday Calendar

Here we are at the start of the holiday season.  A season of gathering, celebrating, memory-making.  The time of year when life can become so full that taking a moment to breathe almost feels unreasonable.

Are you already there? 

We have just entered the season & yet looking ahead can feel overwhelming! 

The calendar starts to bulge with events & traditions.  And in the beginning, when the invites & events start coming, it can feel really exciting to think of all the ways you are going to “celebrate the season,” until… you step back and realize that your full calendar has left you no room for the parts of the holiday season that used to bring you joy.  The simple joy that came from simple things.

Instead, the little things that kept your spirit up & made you feel “in the moment,” have been pushed aside as everything jostled for a place on the calendar. 

I have been there (and still find myself reverting to that space easily if I’m not careful).  It’s a place that feels like resignation and can quickly become a resentful place.

Your Turn…

So what can you do when you find yourself looking at a cluttered holiday calendar & feel the joy of the season slipping away?

1.  Take a moment to think of the things that you used to truly enjoy about the season.  For me, they are the little things, the creative things, the things that don’t involve hoopla and big celebration- sledding as a family, hot chocolate & cozying up to read Christmas books, cutting out snowflakes.  If I don’t intentionally make space for these things, they could easily be left out & leave me feeling like a piece of my holiday joy was missing. 

2.  Look for openings in the weeks ahead when you could sneak in one of those little “joyful moments.”  Or trade out something you aren’t looking forward to & use the time for the activity that you have been missing.

3. Check in with your energy level.  When last minute celebrations & opportunities come up, check in with your energy level before saying yes.  This season involves a huge amount of energy output, as we gather with friends & family, shop, and attend performances, so watch for signs that you need a break before you “break.” 

4.  Take time to recharge.  Maybe instead of gearing up for another holiday event, you need a quiet night in.  Turn on a holiday movie & make a bowl of popcorn.  Taking a break will increase the chances that you’ll enjoy the next thing on the calendar.

5.  Experiment with saying no or decreasing some of those “extra” expectations/obligations that have crept on the calendar.  Take a store-bought treat instead of spending time on holiday baking.  Take a year off from one of your holiday traditions & see how it affects your mood.  Decrease the amount of time you spend running as you check off those shopping lists by giving certificates or doing your shopping locally or online. 

IMG_8568Next Steps…

It isn’t easy to pull back and say no to activities & events that seem so fun & so necessary during the holiday season, BUT it will feel worth it when you still have energy at the end of December.  And it’s good for our soul to make time for the things that fill us up. 

Take a moment to list 3 things that you truly enjoy during the holiday season and then check the calendar to see if they are on it.  If not, clear some space & make them happen!

Tell me what you came up with!  What has been missing or been left out?  And what might you give up to make that thing happen?

Have you created too many options?

FullSizeRender (1)This past month I began reading the book “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less” by Barry Schwartz.  I wanted to gain more insight around an issue that I continue to hear you are struggling with and one that I am working on too.  It’s the problem of the over-abundance of choice in our lives.  Maybe you can relate?

Think about all of the decisions you are faced with each day. 

Actually, wait! That’s just too overwhelming. 

Try again- just ponder what happens when you need to buy cereal.  At the time that Barry Schwartz wrote the book, he counted “275 varieties of cereal, including 24 oatmeal options and 7 “Cheerios” options” during a trip to his local grocery store.  That number is staggering and if you are anything like me you might have learned to deal with that abundance by zeroing in on your favorites & continuing to buy the same thing over & over, just to cope with how overwhelming it would be if you truly looked at the full aisle of options!  

Decisions can be overwhelming & Schwartz’s research shows that having more choices doesn’t mean we will be happier.  He says that having too many options available can create some unfortunate effects: 

  • decisions require more effort
  • we are more likely to make mistakes
  • and the psychological consequences of the mistakes seem more severe

So how does all of this talk about choice pertain to the work of decluttering? 

It fits perfectly. 

We are constantly bombarded with the latest & greatest, abundance & possibility, which makes it hard not to succumb to the myth that more equals better.  So we have surrounded ourselves with lots of stuff!  Bring in more stuff and you create more options & more decisions around all of that stuff.

When we give in to the “more equals better” myth, we end up with spaces full of more cabinets, more storage, more closets, more shelves, more places to file things into & more surfaces to place things on.  It feels like we have to have those options to house ALL of what we think we need.  

We have given ourselves too many choices & too much pressure to find the “right solution” for all of this stuff.  Often times that means that instead of putting something away we drop it on the counter or in a corner because it’s all too much!  The decisions, the options, the stuff, feels like all too much!

I don’t want that to happen to you.  I don’t want you stuck with decision-fatigue!

Decluttering is an effort to create clarity around your choices.  It is the effort to really look at what you have, what you want to have, and how you want to interact with those things.

Let’s decrease the choices & get clear!

Your Turn…

Here’s how to get a small start:

1.  Consider –  Take some time to think about all of the spaces that you have set up to store your items.  (remind yourself of all of the possibilities – the closets, cabinets, under-the-bed storage box, attic, garage, hutch…).

2.  Evaluate –  Look at the items that are living in those spaces & decide if they support the function of the space, make sense in that area, and are stored in a place that will enable efficient retrieval when you need it.

3.  Shift   Make a goal to store items based on 1.)  their use (ex: cooking items in the kitchen or pantry, sporting goods in the garage) or 2.) proximity to where they will be used/needed.

4.  Limit –  Limit the choices by letting go of extra storage pieces.  Don’t clutter your room with extra shelves & cabinets to store hardly-used items.  Reduce storage options & the decisions will come a lot quicker.

Next Steps…

Often we cope with the overwhelm of putting things away by developing a habit of creating clutter-collecting-zones.  For instance, you might throw all of the things that you can’t decide on in a laundry basket in the bedroom, a pile at the front door, or a space at the bottom of a closet.

If you have those clutter-collecting-zones, then it’s time to shine some light on what’s hiding there.  Commit to digging into those cluttered spaces, one at a time.

Begin with the sort.  Forget about all of the options for storing just yet.  Organizing always comes after you purge.  For now, sort out what you are going to keep, what needs a new home, and what you can let go of.

Once you have decreased your items & the pile feels more manageable, then clarity around the storage space will appear.  Put the item away in it’s new home & offer yourself a little boundary/accountability by labeling that drawer, cabinet or bin until you get in the habit of putting items away there without a second thought.

The result of less choice is greater happiness & I think that’s an idea worth looking into!

Want more insight, inspiration or conversation?