Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Camping Countdown

We aren’t RV campers, or electricity loving campers, or showering campers.  We’re the pop a tent, ditch the cell phones, bring on the pudgy-pie type of campers.  That being said, I don’t think I’d necessarily want to abandon all creature comforts.  After all, there is special equipment needed for a pudgy-pie, and I don’t think I’d enjoy filtering lake water in order to brush my teeth.

I enjoy planning for a weekend of camping as much as I actually enjoy the trip itself… which is why I’ve started dreaming about our great outdoor escape that will take place in 36 days.  Coincidence that this falls on the last day of the school year?  Of course not.  As the last bell rings, I’ll be sprinting out the door one step ahead of my students, pencils and notebooks flying behind me as I go.  This may be a slight exaggeration, but the moment my room is packed up for the summer, I’ll be ready to roll.

This past weekend, I took a good hard look at our camping supplies and came up with a plan.  It being organization month and all, I figured there was no time like the present to get things into order.  We already had three large Rubbermaid bins, and all were overflowing.  (Gosh, I wish I’d remembered to take a “before” picture.  Or an after, for that matter.  It would probably make this post better.  I promise, there will be pictures to come when the camping trip draws nearer.)

I unpacked the bins, took an inventory, and sorted to my heart’s content.  We now have extremely well organized three bins (none too full to close, either), with all supplies inside and accounted for.  I even made note of what needs to be added or changed each time we go (washcloths, for example, and my glasses).

You may ask, “Why in the world would you take the time to do this?  Doesn’t this seem like a waste of a Sunday?”  Well… number one, I don’t have kids, so I have a quite a bit more free time than many of you probably have.  And number two… let’s face it, I’m a nerd.  I loved every minute of this packing experience.  This is what I do for fun, folks.

So here it is, in all it’s glory…

Packing List

And just in case you dislike opening Word documents as much as I do, here’s a sneak preview.  The actual document contains much more info, but the list below will at least give you an idea of whether it’s worth opening.


Bin Three

Meal Preparation

Small Bin

Bottle opener/corkscrew

Can opener

Collapsible cups

Dish soap

Hand sanitizer

Large knife

Large spoons



Plastic silverware

Small cutting board

Small knives



Large Bin

Aluminum foil



Coffee maker


Dish pan

Kabob makers

Large cutting board





Pot holders


Pudgy pie makers

Scrub brush


Tablecloth clamps


Wet wipes

Don’t forget…

    • Coffee/tea
    • Dish cloth
    • Drying cloth

A little about me…

I’ve revamped some of my pages within the past few days.  Most notably, I’ve given the About page a boost.  To save you a click, here are its contents:

I began this blog in December 2009 after lurking around other people’s blogs for way too long.  It chronicles my efforts at everyday life, which you think I would have gotten the hang of by now.  (I’m still working on it, don’t worry.)  In my short blogging career, I’ve struggled to find a balance between writing for myself and writing for an audience.  There’s a happy medium in there somewhere, I’m sure, but for now I typically blog for my own purposes and hope that someone (anyone) will find my posts interesting and useful.

I usually don’t write anything extremely personal.  I’m still trying to figure out how much information is too much information, but for now I err on the side of caution.  I’ve probably just watched too many episodes of CSI, but I’m sure if I give out to much personal information I’ll be abducted within the week.  I can give you a tiny glimpse, though, as long as you promise not to stalk me.  As long as that’s settled…

I’m a 26 year old Wisconsinite, and have been married to my fabulous husband since October 2009.  I consider myself extremely lucky, as our biggest argument is about what angle the recliner should face (but we’ll save that post for another day).  We don’t have children, unless you count Louie the cat.  In my professional life, I get to say fun things like, “No one should be rolling around on the floor right now,” and “I don’t think your mom wants you to share that information with the class, honey.”  That’s right… I’m a kindergarten teacher.  It’s the best job in the world, but I do try to keep my personal and professional lives separate, so I don’t blog about education here.  Also, I’ve found that no one thinks that my school stories are quite as funny as I do.  They lose a little something in the retelling… but maybe with all of this writing practice that’ll change.

Thanks for stopping to check the about page, and making it this far in.  Maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to post a picture of my face here, but until I can get over my fear of murderers lurking on the internet (and then in the bushes in front of our house), you’ll have to use your imagination.

Organization Links

Here are a few links that I’ve been meaning to share.  All are focused on organization.  I’ve written a tidbit or two from each link, mostly for my own benefit, but they’re all worth checking out.

Get Organized and Gain Thirty More Minutes a Day (List Planit)

Unsubscribe from e-mail and RSS feeds that you frequently skip over.  Stop multitasking.  Don’t procrastinate.

Finish the Projects You’ve Started.  Or Call Them to an End. (The Happiness Project)

Get your projects off of your plate, one way or another.

Start Your Day by Eating a Frog (Simple Mom)

Tackle your most dreaded task first, and the rest of the day will seem easy.

10 Things to Do Before You Go to Bed (Planning with Kids)

Take half an hour at night to get ready for the next day.  The morning will go smoothly and you’ll have more flexibility.

Compounding Time: Creating More Free Time by Investing It Wisely (Pick the Brain)

Learn a tip to save some time.  Then, take the time you save to learn more tips.

Incredibly Obvious Tips to Save You Time (Unclutterer)

Work while at work.  When you’re finished using something, put it away.

Build a Pantry that Works for You (Organizing Your Way)

Make a list of meals that your family enjoys.  Make a second list of ingredients to make those meals.  Buy nonperishable items from this list when they’re on sale.

Resisting the Time Suck (Get Rich Slowly)

Identify non-satisfying activities that you tend to get sucked into.  Try to avoid them in the first place.  If you find yourself involved in one, stop yourself if you spent the last hour as intended, and what you can do now to fix it.

20 Tips for Finding Your Routine with Kids (Simple Mom)

Clean as you go.  Don’t watch much TV.  Have intentional down time.  Get enough sleep, water, and exercise.

Six Things to Do (Steady Mom)

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day.  Fill your to do list with six (and only six) tasks that are essential to complete that day.

Books on Organization that Are Actually Worth Reading

A few weeks ago, I posted a list of “organization” books that I picked up at the library.  They were all skimmed, shut, and returned to the library within two days.  I was at first upset – they had beautiful pictures and were full of bullet points.  They should have been perfect!  Those are exactly the types of books I love!

Then I realized my problem is just that – I love those types of books.  I don’t NEED those types of books.  I (generally) have my physical space organized, which is what all of these books focused on.  When I don’t have my physical space organized, it’s not because I don’t know how or have the wrong type of containers.  It’s because I let mail pile up, or don’t put my shoes away, or leave my magazines lying out on the kitchen table.

I went back to the library and tried again.  Instead of searching for books on organization in general, I went back and tried time management and productivity.  What a difference!  I checked out a large stack of results from these searches.  While I haven’t looked at all of them yet, I’ve paged through many and I know I’ll find them extremely helpful.  Here are two books that I have had a chance to dive into.  I’d recommend both!

Upgrade Your Life is far and away my favorite book out the bunch.  “Hacks” are time and effort saving tricks to make life a little easier, and this book is full of them.  If you’re not willing to try out the book, you should check out this post – it contains many of the tips in the book.

I’m listening to The Personal Efficiency Program on Playaway right now.  While somewhat redundant, it’s message lines up perfectly with this month’s goal.  The basic theme so far has been, “Do it now.”  No procrastinating, no piles, no excuses.  I need to hear that!

April Update

We’re midway through the month, so it’s about time for a check on how well (or poorly) I’ve done on my April Resolutions.

For starters, checking of resolutions I’d kept each day hasn’t worked out.  I was faithful for about a week, but it went downhill from there.

1.   Five item cleanup.

This has worked well so far.  Putting five things away in each room is a quick and simple routine.  I’m trying hard to have a “do it now” approach to things, and frequently I’ll find that there just aren’t five items that are out of place in a room.  That’s a good feeling!

2.  Leave no nagging tasks.

I broke this down into two sections.

Clear out the day’s slot. I keep bills, letters to be sent, reminders, and such in a bill organizer similar to this:

In the past, I’d go a week without looking at the thing, and when I finally remembered, I would move all of the papers into the next week’s slots without giving a second thought.  Again, my “do it now” process has come in handy. In addition handling it’s contents daily instead of weekly, I also put less into the organizer to begin with.

Clear out my e-mail’s inbox daily. My goal is to have less than five e-mails in my inbox at the end of the day.  I use Gmail, and label and archive messages as soon as I take care of them.  I know I can still access anything I need later, but having those e-mails out of the inbox means they’re out of my head, as well.

3.  Keep a weekly to-do list.

It’s been a relief to know that my priority goals will get finished, yet not be a slave to my planner.  I’ve been using my Pocket Docket, but to be honest, any piece of paper would do.  It has ten lines, five of which I fill with must-do tasks.  (They’re noted with a little star, in case you were wondering.)  The other five lines I’m able to fill with other things that I’d like to get done but won’t worry about if they aren’t completed.  I’m going to start trying to get these done early in the week.  I still have three items left to check off today.  It’s more fun to check things off when I have some wiggle room left.  Now it’s down to the wire!

Cleaning Playlist

In order to motivate myself during the cleaning that I’ve pledged to do more frequently, I’ve made a cleaning playlist.  It consists of the following songs…

Fireflies” by Owl City

Hey Soul Sister” by Train

…and that’s it.  My “playlist” actually is two songs that I listen to over and over again, but that’s okay with me (for now).

I have a rarely-used iPod, so on Sunday I dug it out of the electronics drawer, charged the batteries, and bought the two songs on iTunes.  Sure, we have other songs I could have added that were already on the computer, but I thought that this would be a fun treat to cheer up my cleaning routine.

It definitely worked, but a day later I did get a teensy bit sick of listening to the same two songs, so I made a new station on Pandora (possibly the best internet site in the world, aside from and Google Reader).  Pandora relies something called the Music Genome Project to create personalized radio stations that play only songs that you’ll like.  I typed in the two songs from my playlist, and it came up with a few songs that had similar characteristics.  I then rated songs (thumbs up or down) from there.  I wouldn’t say the station’s perfect – I still give out plenty of thumbs downs – but the more I listen and rate, the closer the station matches my tastes.

Another one of my trade secrets is the Playaway audiobook.  Playaways look similar to an iPod, but contain an audiobook.  I check them out from the public library and use them while on walks, gardening, or cleaning.  Right now I’m listening to The Life of Pi by Yann Martel.  It makes the time fly!

Life of Pi Playaway

April Resolutions

I finished reading The Happiness Project this morning, and I already miss it.  I may just pick it up and read it cover to cover one more time before I need to send it back to the library.

As I wrote earlier, I have outlined my own Happiness Project – a year’s worth of resolutions set and ready to go.  April’s resolution, organization, is off to a great start.  I’m working on organization in general (reading organization/time management books, giving myself reminders, trying harder in general), but I’ve narrowed my official checklist down to three tasks:

1.  Five item cleanup.

Near the end of the day, I go through the house and put five items away in each room.  It’s as simple as that, but it makes a remarkable difference in the way the house looks.

2.  Leave no nagging tasks.

I have a tendency to put things off because “I’m not in the mood.”  Like I magically might be later.  Instead of pushing things off for an undetermined date in the future, I’d like to do things as they come up.  E-mails, phone calls, chores, etc. all fall into this category.

3.  Keep a weekly to-do list.

Remember my daily docket?  It worked great…  when I remembered to look at it.  It was a little time consuming, and typically the time I remembered to look at it was right before bedtime, when all I could think about was sleep.  I’ve made one minor tweak that I think will help me immensely in this area.  Instead of using it as a daily to do list, it’s become a weekly one.  It has space for ten items, five of which are starred.  The starred items are must-do by the end of the week, no excuses.  One starred item is always going to be to do an inside out cleaning of a particular room.  I’ve broken it down to six areas (bedroom, office, bathroom, living room/dining room, kitchen, mudroom/front porch) , so this rule assures that every room gets a good thorough cleaning every month or so (in addition to my regular cleaning schedule, of course).

I do realize that because I’m at the peak of this idea, I’m excited, enthusiastic, motivated, and all the rest.  This is typical of my ideas.  Unfortunately, my ideas also tend to fizzle pretty quickly.  I think the idea of having a happiness project and adding resolutions monthly is one that I’ll be able to keep, but I am a little worried.  Any ideas for keeping motivation high?