Five Minute Friday= prompt word, five minutes, just write. No overthinking, no over complicating.
This weeks prompt word: ONE
Here’s the length and breadth and height and depth of my wisdom at present on how to live life when time seems short but things to do are relentlessly plentiful.
Do one thing at a time.
One thing at a time and I seem to get as much done as when I’m trying to spread myself between seven things all at once.
I remind myself of it, I write it in my diary, when my head is racing and my fingers and toes start twitching, “Just one thing” when I want to be doing all the projects and writing all the words and reading all the books and fixing up maybe fifty things in my garden and then theres washing to be done and phone calls to make.
But we’ll never do it all will we ?
And we can miss the best of it trying to. We can miss the simple beauty of a thing when we give ourselves to it, when it’s seen in a certain light, the soft corner, the subtle detail, faces, conversations, the kinds of thing you have to slow down for to soak in.
And it can be such a relief to let yourself do one thing at a time – fold the basket of clothes (always with a cup of tea at hand) or cook the dinner – stand and stir and taste and pour – or read the book (more tea) or pull the weeds (sheer therapy) or paint the chair or write the words or go to the meeting.
And let the other things be. Let them alone.
One thing at a time.
When you’ve a thousand possible things to do.
Wave the white flag and surrender.
Choose just one thing and then do that.
“Gripping, grabbing, grasping all feel like the only way forward when we’re terrified and vulnerable. We want to believe we have some kind of control. But our real strength is found in opening our hands. We say ‘Here God. Its all yours. Help me breath and begin again”. Leeana Tankersley
See what others have done with there five minutes here
So something I haven’t readily confessed to you up to this point is that I get easily distracted.
I start a task with enthusiasm, often a houseworky type one but before long the whiff of something more interesting or creative and/or pressing has me wandering off and starting on something else before I’m finished the first thing. Anyone else?
It happens as well when I have so many things to do I’m not sure what to do first – so I start in on five things frantically and end up with a whole lot of things started but nothing finished – I’ll have the clothes washed but not hung out, a post half written, dishwasher half packed or unpacked, clothes maybe folded but not put away, everything pulled out of a cupboard but not put back in and the clean sheets on the bed but not the pillowslips or doona. In real time and real life it looks like one heck of a shamozzle and so not the end result I’m looking for in my day.
The other scenario is, I’ll get totally involved in something I love doing – (usually not a houseworky type one) – something crafty or creative, writing, gardening, taking photos, rearranging a room or a combination of all the above – and end up doing none of whatever else I need to do that day. Now that’s Ok if your husband and kids don’t care about eating dinner or wearing clean clothes and – if I was a totally bohemian free spirit who just enjoyed going where the mood led and who didn’t mind a mess – we’d be all good.
Here’s the problem though. I like things done. I like thing squared away and neat and clean far more than I do messy and thrown about. I like the counters cleaned down and the clothes where they should be – in the machine if their dirty, on the line if their wet and put away in drawers when their dry. I like the wide open spaces and peace of clean uncluttered rooms.
I just can’t always seem to manage it.
I get constantly caught somewhere in between the creative “lets rearrange the furniture and paint something” side of me and the “lets get everything neat and organised” side of me.
So thats where my 20 minute a day theory on getting things done comes in. You may have heard me mention it here on the blog a few times now – it’s a favourite.
A girl who’s easy distracted has gotta have some sort of secret weapon up her sleeve to keep her life a bit organised and this is the one that works for me.
I set the timer on my iphone and do ONE thing only for just twenty minutes. Clean the kitchen, fold clothes, read/return emails, write, garden, dust, clean the shower, tidy a room, clear out a drawer, change things around, make phone calls, etc etc
It keeps me calm, it keeps me focused, it stops me doing 65000 unnecessary laps of this house in one day, it’s how I get things done.
I don’t do it all day, all the time – usually 4 to 5 x 20 minutes stints a day, mostly in the morning, is enough to keep this home civilised and functioning the way I like it and keeps me making progress with the creative things I love to do.
The First Twenty Minutes
The photos below were taken maybe two years ago. It was the first time I really discovered the power of doing one thing full on for twenty minutes. This is the side of the house where no one ever goes and where I shove things I don’t want to look at. Mostly it gets forgotten about but there was no ignoring this sad state of affairs – even the dogs didn’t want to go around there. It was such a shocker I took a photo and had a joke with Ken that if I wasn’t out in twenty minutes, to come in after me. (Word of warning – wear gloves, covered footwear and protective glasses for jobs like these. I came across Red Back Spiders, Blue Tongue Lizards and a few other scary things). I set the timer, I think because I really didn’t want to do it and decided that 20 minutes was all I was up for and then it was Ken’s turn.
It only needed 20 minutes. I was totally amazed at what got done.
So the idea kind of took off.
One Thing Only
So if I’m giving 20 minutes to the kitchen – (usually my first 20 minute stint after I take the kids to school) – I am just getting it back to civilised. Cleaning off the counters (because my kitchen counter collects everything) clearing the sink, packing the dishwasher and sweeping the floor. In this time I won’t be cleaning out the fridge or cleaning the stove or reorganising the pantry or making a shopping list. When those kind of extras need to be done they need their own twenty minutes.
I’ve found it works really well when you need to have a quick tidy up around the house and it works really well when you’ve got an almighty mess like I had this morning – I’m blaming school holidays and Netflix on this one.
Now I’m well aware that most people wouldn’t get themselves into this sort of mess in the first place and I’d much prefer to show you nicely styled after shots rather than everything all over the place but this is the reality of life some/most days and I’m hoping for any one a little like me – – – who struggles with staying focused and on task or who gets side lined by creative pursuits but then hates the mess your left in afterwards – that this might be a help.
So this is what I’ve found.
In 20 minutes.
You get soooo much more done than you think you will
It lasts longer than you think it will – I often check the timer because I’m sure the 20 minutes must be up and usually find I still have 2 or 3 minutes to go.
20 minutes can be squeezed in just about anywhere at any time.
You work faster and more focused than you would without the timer, so you get more done.
It gives you a reachable end point to your task – when you get to stop, look back at what you’ve accomplished and enjoy the result.
Getting one thing done in 20 minutes is so much more satisfying than getting 10 things half done in two hours.
Big jobs (that often get put off indefinitely because they seem undoable and overwhelming) get broken down into small manageable bite size pieces. More on that below.
Often we think we’ll need an hour at least to get a task done – the fridge, the stove top, a desk top!! – so we put off doing it because we don’t have that spare hour. But I have found that nine times out of ten you can get it over the line in 20. I’d rather get something done the best I can in 20 minutes than never getting it done waiting for that elusive hour to show up. And after 20 minutes if you have the time and really want to do a bit more – then set the timer again and do another twenty. I always stop at that because who wants to be cleaning and/or organising for more than forty minutes straight anyway. The whole idea is balance – you get something done and move on.
In my office area, in 20 minutes I was able to clean off and sort out papers on the desk top. I didn’t try to clean out the desk drawers or reinvent my filing system – even though I probably needed to do both.
I could have left it there, its a big improvement on what it was but because I had time, I did a second 20 minutes – I was able to finish cleaning and filing as well as do some rearranging and a bit of prettying up. I had time to swap out the chair for another one but not time to iron the new cloth I put under the key pad.
Two x 20 minutes and I think we can all agree the space is vastly improved.
Tackling Big Projects
As mentioned above its also a great way to make a big project more manageable and doable.
I’m with this guy.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks and then starting on the first. Mark Twain
Two things often happen when it comes to big jobs around the house – you either avoid getting started because you know it’s gonna take a great big chunk out of your day/week that your not sure you can spare OR you launch in, pull everything out or apart and two hours later your totally overwhelmed, sobbing into your tea or something stronger and it takes the best part of the next week to get it all back together again
For bigger cleaning jobs like the garage or a full room overhaul or even things like cleaning out the pantry or a linen cupboard – I would rather do 20 minutes each day for a week – say one shelf or one small area a day – rather than pull everything out, all over the place in one go and then having the unwieldy task of putting it all back together. I’ve been there and done that and it can be a nightmare.
For me small steps taken often get you so much further and with less collateral damage then huge dramatic leaps and bounds that are, in my book equivalent to lobbing in a hand grenade.
Creative/decorating projects can get the same treatment. Lets take for example, the gallery wall you’ve been meaning to get to for a couple of years. 20 minutes a day, one or two pictures hung each time and within a week or two you have the wall of memories and inspiration you have been wanting.
The garden is another great example of how you can chip away at a big job in small doses. As much as I love gardening it has a way of totally getting away on me if I leave it alone for any amount of time, which I pretty much did over the summer. It’s not something I ever seem to have a whole day to devote to on a regular basis. What I do have though is 20 minutes here and there and I’m always surprised at what can get done in that time. Heres how it went.
This is some of my garden a couple of weeks ago.
Shocker I know – so I decided to start in the far back corner of the garden which I “romantically” call my secret garden. (Not so much at the moment but it has potential). It’s where I have a small fire pit, a hotch potch of seats, and a largepotted ficus tree. I’ve used a large square of rebar (concrete reinforcing steel mesh) vertically in front of the back fence and planted a white blossoming potato vine to climb over it. It climbs wildly during the summer covering the fence and anything else nearby. It can be a pretty and cosy area when its looked after but as I said – it’s got away on me a bit.
So over the course of 5 days I spent 20 minutes each day on it – just one x 20 minutes per day because pulling out weeds is exhausting. I’ll warn you none of the photos are any too glamourous. They don’t show a finished beautiful product – they just show small progresses being achieved with 20 minutes a day focused attention.
Day 4 .
So altogether it only took an hour and forty minutes to bring my “secret garden” back from the brink. I still have the rest of the garden to contend with but now as the cooler weather comes we have this area to relax in and enjoy.
So thats my twenty minute a day theory on everything. Not deep, not complicated but it works. So why not give it a go, just set your timer and see what good things you get done. Would love to hear.
Thanks so much for reading. For a little weekly inspiration you can check out my latest Women Connect post here.
So this ones for when you or your families love of a good movie or 400 is threatening to take over your house. Now I don’t usually do these “this is the answer to all your problems” type posts because it may not be, but this little idea worked a treat at my place so I’m singing its praises and suggesting maybe it’s worth a try at yours.
My house – she’s big on charm (I think) but small in size and way too short on storage. So the stuff I have has to earn it’s keep and these DVDs, taking up an inordinate amount of our limited storage space, weren’t earning theirs.
Here’s our problem.
Three out of the four baskets in our TV unit stacked full to the brim with DVDs, which is OK unless you have others things that desperately need to go in a basket or you actually want to watch a movie. That’s when the kids who don’t really mind how much mess they make, start pulling them out and spreading them all over the lounge room floor or leaving little towers of them stacked up. An eye sore and a slip hazard all in one and driving me just a little bit crazy.
So the idea is to create these simple laminated DVD pouches that reduce the actual amount of space required to store DVDs by about a mile. In fact it ends up reducing the size of each disc package from about a half inch to only very slightly wider than the actual DVD itself. Turns out theres a lot of wasted space in those hard covers and this solution does away with them without doing away with the glossy printed cover with all the nice pictures and info.
We went from this.
No more hard cover. Hello nice flat DVD covers.
Before I started on the project though, being fond of a throw out, I went through our vast collection, took out any we no longer watched and gave them away.
So if your up for the challenge you will need:
A laminator. If you don’t have one they range in price from about $20 to over a $100. We bought a relatively inexpensive one which I’m thinking wasn’t really made to last so I treat it carefully and don’t leave it on overheating for extended amounts of time. Apart from that it does the job just fine and they come in handy for so many other things.
Laminating pouches – the DVD size one’s.
Sharp scissors – that’s it.
Now I don’t think the following qualifies as a tutorial – my projects are so simple they aren’t usually required, but this will just run you through the process.
I leave the DVD itself in the hard plastic cover until the laminated pouch is done to avoid scratching.
Remove the printed slip cover from the hard cover. It will still have it’s folded shape so just press it down the spine so it’s folded flat.
Trim off the spine and a little bit extra. You want the printed cover about a quarter inch smaller than the laminating pouch both sides so that the pouch seals properly. I did experiment a bit with using larger laminating pouches that I cut down to size. This meant I didn’t have to trim down the cover – just fold flat and laminate. I found it took longer and was trickier to cut down a large slippery laminating pouch trying to get all the edges straight and even than it was to use the smaller pouch and just trim the excess off the DVD cover. Your choice on that one.
Place the DVD cover into the laminating pouch spacing it evenly. Make sure the pouch and the insert are level along the top edge so it doesn’t seal when it goes through the laminator. Feed the pouch into the laminator sealed end first and then leave it to cool when it’s done. If it has happened to seal just trim it open. Slide your DVD into your lovely new slim line pouch and and your done.
I very happily threw out out all the hard covers that were cracked or broken and donated the ones in good condition. As I said this is hands on and takes up a little bit of time. Mostly I did it in 20 minute stints(this post will tell you why I like doing projects 20 minutes at a time) I usually just do as many as I can in 20 minutes before I turn on the laminator. Once it’s warmed up and ready to go, I do them in quick succession. No great skill required so a great project to do while watching a movie.
Having done this a little while ago I’ve found the disc’s stay well protected in the laminated pouches and the disc’s slide in and out easily. Doesn’t work for boxed sets or multi disc packs but you will have plenty of room to store them now.
This wooden box is holding 75 DVDs and my baskets are looking much more civilised with room to spare.
And here are eight DVDs in their hard covers right next to eight DVDs in their laminated pouches.
Worth the time, worth the effort, works for me.
What’s working for you at your house at the moment?
If you’ve got a moment you might like to read my latest Women Connect post here.
And if you know someone who might enjoy this post please share away.
It never ceases to amaze me what a difference a small change can make – especially when it comes to our homes and how well a space functions and how much we enjoy it. I’m talking sheer ease and comfort and I’ve had a perfect example of it here at my place this week.
I’ve been using this sweet little stand as a bedside table for a long while now. It was an op shop find that I cleaned up and painted that I just love the look of. It only stands about 50cm high and the little shelves about 25cm across. It’s as cute as a button but as I’ve discovered completely useless as a bedside table. If you look at it sideways it falls over – the slightest bump with a pillow and over it goes along with my cuppa, my phone, my glasses – which is pretty much about all you can squeeze onto it – and that’s if you use all three shelves. It’s just too small and things fall off it too easy. With not a lot of room around our queen size bed I thought it would work well being so compact – I was wrong.
Thing is I have a two perfectly respectable, if not not very inspiring bed side cubbies that I have been using elsewhere. Nothing wrong with them that a sand and a coat of paint wouldnt fix. I’m in no hurry to do either – so for now no longer needed elsewhere I decided to bring one of them back into my bedroom. Sometimes functionality just has to win out over pretty and if you can find that sweet spot where you have both, all the better.
Here she is warts and all – no beauty queen but oh she has talents.
You wouldn’t believe the difference it has made to me in sheer comfort and ease. I can do wildly fanciful things like put things next to my bed that I need. Luxury. No upturned cups of tea. I now have a nice solid surface to put my cuppa, my phone, my glasses, a book even. It has a drawer too – imagine !!
Funny how you sometimes don’t realise how annoying something has been until you don’t have to contend with it any more.
I decided to give the drawer a little facelift before I filled it up. I cut scrap booking paper to fit the bottom and sides and used watered down white craft glue brushed on to stick it down. I let it dry overnight and then sealed it with clear gloss estapol. It took the day to dry and that was it.
So just so it’s official, heres a list of five things I LOVE having within hands reach of my bed.
Yes you guessed it – a good sturdy bedside unit that I can’t knock over – uncluttered so I can put things down on it with a little drawer to throw things into.
My glasses and a good book – no more fishing out my glasses from under the bed. Good books? – I’m still reading this one eight months on “A Million Little Ways” by Emily P Freeman. It’s one of those books you read and re read – too good.
A journalling type book to write in. I don’t do a lot of free hand writing any more but I do like it. Inspired by this post “How I Keep Track of What I’m Learning” I’m trying to get into a rhythm of pondering, reading and writing and having a book and a pencil close by helps.
Hand cream – I don’t care what brand it is as long as it smells good and is nice to my hands that always get dry.
Lolly’s and lip balm – I can’t seem to go long these days without either.
So she may not win any beauty pageants but she’s all style and good manners to me.
As for my little blue stand, its still around – it’s doing a beautiful job of hiding the double power point in my room and holds my mobile phone while it charges.
Small change, big difference – works for me.
Any small changes just waiting to happen at your place?
Got a minute? – you can read my latest Women Connect post here
Or take a look at some bedroom organisation and storage ideas here. So good!!
About less stuff, making room and the story of a bookshelf.
Did I mention my house is kinda small. Not minute, not postage stamp size but small enough that I have to really think about how I organise and arrange everything – you know things like furniture – so that we are not tripping over ourselves all the time. I like things to look nice – the sort of nice that makes you want to relax and take a load off – that makes you feel better – and well that doesnt happen when theres too much stuff (even pretty stuff) crowding in on you and overwhelming the space.
Less stuff – suffice to say its ‘s a high priority and an ongoing process around these parts. Making the most of what I have is too. So I’m always happy when I manage to find me a little bit of extra storage space or find a way to use the space I have better. And I was very happy when one I hadn’t thought of before presented itself in the shape of this mild mannered and modest little bookshelf.
In recent years it’s been sitting in amongst the lizard smells and dirty socks and chocolate wrappers of Ethan’s room – minding it’s own business in there for so long I’d almost forgotten about it until Ethan decided to build a new reptile enclosure (as you do) and I decided to help him. I love a project so I couldn’t help myself. We made the cage to fit the only space in his room where it could possibly go – the spot where the bookshelf was. It was fairly under utilised there anyway as Ethan doesnt like to put things away much and he couldn’t really access the bottom shelves. So since then I’d been wondering where I could put the bookshelf – too soon to go back to the garage surely – there had to be a spot for this perfectly respectable little shelf? – but inspiration evaded me.
You see this particular bookshelf and I well we have some history, we’ve travelled a few roads – seen a few things. Most significant is that it was made by my Dad what must be 30 years ago now. I remember asking Dad to make it for me because I knew he could make anything he put his mind to and that it would be better than anything I could buy. And sure enough – its still as strong as the day he made it. Yeah its a bit knocked around and dinged up, the clear lacquer has yellowed and its peeling on the top shelf (my fault – spilt nail polish remover) but all in all it looks amazingly good. And this – it reminds me of a hardworking man, funny, troubled and talented – who did the best he could and took the time to make me a lovely bookshelf. Nice to have something my Dad made here in my house that my kids who never met him, get to use and touch and feel. They know some of his story now. I wonder what he’d make of the dodgy lizard cage Ethan and I made.Back to the bookshelf –over the years well it’s rarely been used just as a bookshelf – it’s displayed all sorts of lovelies in bedrooms and lounge rooms and kitchens in the places I’ve called home. Ignored and put upon at times – the centre of attention at other times. It spent a couple of years at my brothers house and even spent a summer out under a pergola during my single days witness to all sorts of fun and frolicking and late night secret telling – all a part of the daily goings on in four twenty something girls. I think it came as a welcome relief to this little bookshelf’s modest sensibilities to spend a few years tucked away in the garage when I first got married – some calm and quiet and an escape from all the girl talk.
But just last week in making room for the new lizard cage we hauled it out of Ethan’s bedroom into the hall. I got distracted by something as usual and wandered off and and not really sure where to put it, Ethan just pushed it down the hallway and up against the hall wall. When I came back and saw it there – – – – the clouds parted, the sun came out and trumpets blew. Oh my – my little bookshelf looks like it was built to go in this hallway.
Not going back to the garage after all and just opposite Olivia’s bedroom door – more girl talk !!
It has a depth of only 20cm so it tucks away here very nicely. I had a quick rustle around the house and found some baskets to fit – baskets that can hold a few things that I have been trying to squeeze without success into the linen cupboard – things I don’t use everyday but that I want handy to the front door when I’m going out. So it now boasts a few storage cubes holding things like sunblock and sunglasses, hand cream and nail clippers, sun hats and sticky tape. Another with handballs the kids always seem to be asking for, another for torches and batteries and there’s one long one for umbrellas and rolls of gift wrap.
I haven’t put anything too precious on there as it’s not a precious looking bookshelf and the kids go rampaging down this little hallway all the time. Needs a few more baskets yet and it may all change overnight but for now this is working well
Any furniture at your house with a story to tell? Any hidden storage just waiting to be discovered? Would love to hear.
And while we’re on the subject of decluttering I thought I would share a couple of things I have tried and have found useful.