No more food for thought … Your meal plan ….. on an index card.

Scanned image of standard 3x5 notecard / index...Image via Wikipedia

I often get asked which book or website I recommend for meal plans. Hear this one ladies – get an index card, the last thing you need is a website to give you more choices.

Step away from the cook books, websites and from the notion of perfect.

Think back to the past few suppers you felt proud of, weren’t too time consuming and everyone ate. Add a starch, soup and salad

Write them on the index card along with the name of the protein. So Monday might be Fish : Breaded salmon, pasta, broccoli & lentil soup.

Keep your protein topics as your golden rule, so from now on Monday nights is fish night. Have tilapia next week if you want a change. Just limit your choice of choices and stop making decisions, just focus on the issue at hand which is getting the supplies in advance, cooking the food and carrying on with the rest of your day.

Yes you can bulk cook, yes you should use your crock pot, sure you can change your supper if you have the time to make some herb crusted fancy fish your husband loves. Just remember – it’s the decision making that is stalling you – it’s paralysis by analysis.

Refer back to your index card each Sunday and get ahead ….. now that’s food for thought !

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Systemize Your Life

Upcoming week - bokehImage by KrätzschePhotography  (happy with you!) via Flickr

Spontaneity becomes are rare treat once our responsibilities get high enough.

The more systems we set up , the smoother the ride. Consider choosing a set time for the following : Date night, dry cleaning drop off /pick up, grocery shopping, library visits.

Once those have been automated consider adding more. Contrary to popular belief it is not automatting your life. It’s actually quite the opposite.

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Teaching Organization To Children : 7 Essential Steps

Q : Help ! My 8 year old daughter is a slob. Any tips for helping me help her change ? I am motivated to teach her as it is making me crazy.

A : I have had great success for a full year now with a delightful 7 year old who had convinced herself she was not organized. She happens to be my daughter, but I really had to think of her as a client to assess her own organizational requirements. The process took a blend of some of my time, a little of my money and alot of my patience. After a full year of the new system I can attest that it was one of the better decisions I have made.

We redid her bedroom with a ‘home’ for each piece of clothing and toy that she owned. The end results were a very empowered young lady.

The key areas for success were the following :

1) She was initially quite resistant. So I decided to ‘catch her’ doing organized things and comment with specific praise. “You put your bag by the front door, now that’s organized.”. Or ” Markers back in the right bin, nice work”.

2) We gave away half of her ‘stuff’ to make the organizing and containerizing manageable.

3) We corralled the toys and labelled every bin so that everything had a place.

4) She knows that the amount of toys she has is the maximum capacity she can take care of, so committed to pass on old items when new ones come her way.

5) Each night she straightens up the room for 5 minutes. She chose a fixed time each week to do a deeper 15 minute clean up of the toy and clothes bins. These clean ups are not micro managed by me, I remind her once in a while and help her sometimes too, but the onus is on her. She has internalized that it’s her responsibility to manage her possessions.

6) I assessed the systems we had in place for the family and made a couple of changes for her as an individual. In large families it is vital to see each child as an individual as well as one of a group.

7) Once the initial revamp was finished I still looked for ways to help her streamline. For example, one month in it she still struggled with leaving dirty laundry on her floor and her shoes around the house. We spoke it through and moved her hamper to the bathroom next to her room and bought a pretty basket to keep her shoes right next to the front door. With the system personalized even more her success rate went up. It made a huge difference and after a year of well earned praise and a consistently organized room, she is more confident about her organizing skills and is very motivated to continue being organized.

She recently set up a brush and hairband section in a drawer by the front door because ( and I quote ) “keeping them in the bathroom just wasn’t as practical “. Now that a full year has passed we will be stepping up the skill set this upcoming school year with giving her her own alarm clock with the responsibility of setting it and waking up from it.

In addition negotiations are underway for a chore based allowance, will share the specifics once we pass the beta testing!

Can you afford to waste a dime of time ???

Time is money and quite frankly right now, we don’t have the luxury of wasting a dime of time.

As a nation we are tightening our financial belts, let’s brush up on our time management skills too.

Be honest. If you know you have been a little lax with time in the past, worry not, now it’s fashionable to learn new tricks. Hey, 2 years ago I bet you never thought you would be clipping coupons either.

Suze Orman recently gave this advice about getting out of debt “Stay calm, know your rights and focus on developing a strategy to get out of debt”.

These wise words can be applied to time management.

Stay calm
Don’t feel bad about time wasting tendencies, in today’s high tech world it’s hard not to get drawn into the mesmerizing worlds of online gaming, Facebook and TV.

Know your rights
You are able to reboot your time keeping metabolism. It’s never too late. Think of all those people that loose hundreds of pounds. They lost it calorie by calorie, you can lose it minute by minute.

Develop a strategy to get out of time debt.

Here are five golden tips

1) Markets waiver. Don’t expect perfection.

2) Make a budget. Get a planner of your choice to have a dual function. Firstly to write down your to-do’s in categories. And secondly to log your appointments and write down your chunks of time to focus on specific work. Make sure to include something fun for each day too.

3) Keep saving. When working, minimize interruptions by turning off your Email, Facebook, twitter and text notifications.

4) Petty cash. Allow yourself a reasonable amount of time in the evening to waste. Set the timer and Facebook or play online backgammon to your hearts content … until the timer rings. Then tell yourself that you’ll have the same reward tomorrow night.

5) Review your investments. Look back over your day and see which areas you made the right choices in and in which areas you need to have greater control tomorrow.

Like changing any habit, this isn’t going to be pretty. But just like the time you saved those quarters until you could change it in for a dollar, the end results are well worth the discipline.

{Many thanks to Lisa Mark and Monica Ricci for the Facebook chat that inspired this blog.}

Do You Ever Feel Like Kicking Yourself ?

Do You Ever Feel Like Kicking Yourself ?

Chances are you do, because most of us do. If only I would have thought things through. If only I would have paid more attention. If only, If Only , If Only …….

If only we knew it all, if only we were superhuman. But we’re not.

So next time you catch yourself wanting to kick yourself, consider simply allowing yourself to be human and instead of kicking yourself play all that ‘kicking energy’ forward to take you closer to the place where you want to be.

Clueless in the Car Park

Okay …. here’s a full confession …. Last month whenever I parked at a big store car park …. I have lost my car. How embarrassing is that !? I am normally either blabbing on the phone or focused on my shopping list when I park … and when i come out of the store am clueless as to where it is. I know roughly where it is …. but that’s not good enough with a cart full of goods when you’re in a rush. After last times humiliating jog in the rain I decided to promise myself next time to take a moment and write in my blackberry or mini notepad where I parked. Yes, it is pathetic and maybe there is a law out there that states that if you can’t remember where you parked then you shouldn’t own a car but it works !!!!! … I am reducing stress by being proactive ….. p.s. don’t worry, I’m consistently excellent (without notes ) at finding my car in my driveway.