Monday, January 31, 2011

January - Final Thoughts

Well, I started of this month with an idea. It was a plan for the month and the year ahead. Not really a resolution but a life change. January was all about getting organized, de-cluttering, becoming more efficient on my road to Working Smarter, Not Harder.

So how did I do?

Well, it was a start. It was hard. I still have a number of tasks on my list which is OK because it is a process, an ongoing process. I am not going to abandon all my January efforts. I am going to continue working on getting organized, I still have several boxes of bills and receipts, I need to slim down the number of toys and clothes that we have in our house and I need to get all the rooms, especially the home office and the kids toy room, organized BUT ....the important thing is I started. I will continue to update that process but I am also moving on. February is just minutes away and that means a new topic or theme. February will be about love and relationships - with my husband, with my kids, with my family and with friends.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Getting Organized - Tips and Tricks

So I have spent much of this month trying to get organized. It was the theme of this month all in an effort to Work Smarter, Not Harder. Getting organized has been a real challenge. I am not the most organized at the best of times but I have been trying to stay really focused with this challenge.

I feel like we are over run by our stuff, that our stuff is starting to control our lives. We have an old 4 bedroom house and what it lacks the most is storage, there are only a few closets in the entire house. The biggest closets in the house are in our master bedroom and the basement and that makes storing things a challenge. My husband has a home office and that presents additional challenges. We have a lot of stuff  in the office, including paper, comic books, toys and action figures that my husband has worked on and really no where to put any of it. To be honest that is the problem throughout the house. Our bedroom is over run with clothes, the toy room is over run with toys that have spilled over to every floor of the house. The plan is to move the toy room to the basement and make the two rooms on the third floor of the house office and spare room but one thing that is holding us back  is that we are currently housing a friend's stuff in our basement. We had someone living in our basement for a while ( ok, several years) and now that he has moved out he forgot to take his stuff with him. There is a date for the stuff to leave but in the meantime the move is on hold. What I am trying to do while we wait is de-clutter and organize. Sadly I don't feel like I have made very much progress. I think in order to really get effective change I need to enlist the entire family - husband and two kids. I think I also need to get some tips and tricks from an expert.

I put it out there on twitter that I was looking for an organization guru and that's when my twitter peeps said if I needed to get organized then I needed to talk to Lindsay Harris, @lindsayglowbaby, of

Lindsay and I spoke over the phone for about 30 minutes. I asked her questions and she asked me some questions. It is really important to talk about the areas that are the biggest challenge. The amount of stuff in our house has to be the biggest challenge. There is four people in our house who all have lots of stuff and it is starting to overwhelm us. Lindsay talked a lot about what she does in her house and the kind of routines they have in place. I want to touch on a few of the best tips Lindsay gave me because I think they can work for everyone.

De-clutter: It is really important to go through the things in your house to make sure that you are using everything. It can be a daunting and overwhelming task but if you go about it room by room it can be easier to tackle. Lindsay also says sometimes it is easier if you start with the room that is the least cluttered.
                  Lindsay says it is really important to go through toys and clothes on a regular basis to get rid of anything that isn't being used. Throw away anything that is broken or damaged. Donate anything you think is still in good condition that someone can still use.

Everything has a home: Once you have thinned out all your stuff it is essential that everything has a place. Storage in each room is key says Lindsay. If there is not enough storage for all the toys and things don't have a permanent home in the room then the kids will have a difficult time cleaning up because they won't know where anything is supposed to go. Lindsay says a really good tool to help everyone keep the toy room clean is to label bins with pictures of what is supposed to go in it that way the kids won't have to guess.

Maintenance it key: Lindsay says it is easy to keep things organized and tidy when you make it part of a regular schedule. When it comes to de-cluttering she says it is a good idea to do it every couple of months to make sure that everything in your home is getting used. "It is never done. It is an ongoing job", says Lindsay. If you make it part of the entire families regular chores then it is more likely to get done. Lindsay says if you actually schedule cleaning and organizing like  an appointment then you are more likely to complete the task and there is a better chance of it becoming part of your every day routine.

This month was all about getting organized and de-cluttering for me. It was an overwhelming task for me. I got things started and I am far from being done. While I am planning another focus for February I will still be working on getting organized and de-cluttered. It could take me the entire year to tackle this challenge. I will continue to update how it is going.

What tips and tricks do you have to stay organized? How do you de-cluttter?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Frugal Friday - Counting Your Pennies

Have you ever thought about all those pennies in your change purse?  How much are they really worth?

I have come across people who throw away those pennies. They consider them a nuisance but there is something to be said for that old saying.... "count your pennies!"

My kids love to count change and drop it into their piggy banks. They each have several piggy banks around the house. The ones they like the best are from they bank and they are see through. They are able to see exactly what they have inside. But when did we as adults get to the point where we consider change as a pain in the wallet? We treat change like it is worthless, a nuisance but it can really add up. We try to save change ( unless I am giving in to my cravings and using it for the vending machine at work) in jars, jugs, piggy banks and bins. More than once or twice I have taken large buckets of change to those change counting machines to tally up our haul. I once cashed in more than $100 that I used for that week's groceries.

What do you do with your change? Do you spend it, save it, or toss it?

I am going to challenge myself this year to see just how much I can save in change by the end of the year. Wonder if I can save enough for our annual trip to Florida? Can I save enough to go to Disney?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday Thoughts

So I just wanted to mention someone who is very positive and is a sounding board for me. Laurel A. Crossley-Byers, known as @optimom on twitter. We actually met on twitter. After talking on twitter we realized that we were practically neighbours and now we are great friends in real life - as they say.

Laurel is a great motivator. She has a great focus on mind, body, spirit. We meet on a regular basis just to talk about life, to talk about work and talk about future work. She is a great listener and always has great advice. She is a great coach.

So I took advantage of having a friend like her and we did a short coaching session together.  She had me try to envision a great space to work in, what it would look like, feel like, where it would be located, the type of work I would be doing in the space. We talked about mind, body, spirit.

Mind = stimulated
Body = rested
Spirit = relaxed, not stressed out

Part of envisioning is setting a plan in motion. While I was thinking about what I would be doing in 5 years time, we also talked about how to make it happen in the present. And that where my plan to Work Smarter, Not Harder came into clarity. I had often thought that there must be a better way to work and live. Laurel and I talked about how I might write more, and the key to this is write more paid writing gigs. We also talked about writing things that I liked. I also need to come up with better ways to promote myself.

So I am working  on it. I think it is always a work in progress. Part of that work is this blog.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Motivation Monday

I don't know about you but I often find it hard to stay motivated, especially in the cold winter. It just seems like the cold, snow and dark days of this season make it hard to stay motivated and creative. I am happy to say that my goal to work smarter, not harder this year is helping me stay on point and get things done. I am not saying that I am crossing everything off my daily to do lists but I am trying and that is half the battle.

Writing on my blog is also helping and that has a lot to do with being accountable to all of you. Funny how when you share your plans with the world it is much easier to succeed. I have a long road ahead. I hope to have themes and focused task for each month of the year in the hopes that at the end of it all I can honestly say I WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER.

There is a quote from one of my favourite movies, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium,  that I think helps me to stay motivated. Mr. Magorium says ...."Your life is an occasion. Rise to it"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lazy Sunday - NOT!

So the plan this year was to work smarter not harder right? Well part of that plan was to not do housework on the weekends or at least do as little as possible. Last weekend was a trial run and let's just say it didn't really go like I planned so I thought this weekend would be better. I at least thought I would give it a champion effort.

So how am I doing?

Well let's just say if this was twitter I would be swimming with the fail whale for sure.

Yesterday, I did the dishes and tried to tidy the main floor but that is very difficult with two kids, especially when one of them gets into everything, including Barbies and lots and lots of hair products. I think I spent much of yesterday following behind her. Then I decided that I would tackle the hall outside the my husband's office and the kids play room. It was littered with boxes and stuff since my husband started to clear out and de-clutter his office. It was a hazard for sure. That only took an hour or so. I even tidied the kids playroom and my husband's office a bit. And of course you know what that means? It means that kids needed to play right in the newly cleaned hallway of course. Just another mess that someone ( ME! ) will have to clean up later probably.

Actually, this year as part of the plan, as a household we are working on getting everyone to take their part in the mess and clean up. We are encouraging the kids to clean up after they play, to put their clothes away and in the hamper when they are dirty and also to bring their dishes to the kitchen after they eat. My kids are young enough right now that they actually like to clean, like vaccuum, wash dishes and clean the bathrooms - strange I know but I am taking advantage of it because I know it might not last long.

Now it is Sunday. A day to relax right? WRONG!

Today I have a long list of things to do because I didn't get the done during the week. I could just sit with my feet up today but realistically that just wouldn't be productive. I did get to sleep in this morning. The kids didn't wake me up until 9 o'clock. GLORIOUS. I did have a nice cup of coffee with  my breakfast.

So today I attempted to fix both the dishwasher and the dryer -- while I did manage to clean them up neither one is working properly. Guess I will be calling the repair man soon.

So much for a restful weekend but at least I got some things done. There is always next weekend to put  my feet up.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Frugal Friday

I have become fascinated by recent buzz about couponing. TLC recently had a show featuring people who are extreme coupon users.

I, like most Moms, am always looking for ways to save money. I have started looking for coupons to see if I too can save a little cash with coupons. I have never been very good at using coupons. I love the idea of them and of saving lots of money but I always have trouble remembering what coupons I have and I often forget to take them with me to the store. This year I am going to see if I can make coupons my friend.

Part of working smarter, not harder is also being smarter with the money that we do make. I am trying to spend less on the little things like coffee, snacks and take out food. So, this week I managed to take my lunch 3 days this week, one night I did treat myself to dinner out at work. It was planned with a co-worker who is going on maternity leave and we wanted to celebrate. The last night of the week we have a staff baby shower so dinner was on work. I also managed to save a little on coffee this week, I took coffee from home at least once this week and several other days I used a gift card for coffee. I managed to purchase coffee only twice on the way to work this week. A HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT! considering I am a several-coffees-a-day kind of person. I calculated what I spend on coffee and the obligatory treat with that said coffee and it is a disgusting amount of money in my mind. It is almost $700 a year at coffee shops ( and that is being conservative). Imagine what I could to with an extra $700 dollars a year!!!

Hmmmm... what could I do with $700?
*buy some great clothes
*have a seriously great day at the spa
*take a trip
..........the list is endless

One of the things I would like to try is the No Spend Challenge - the idea is to not spend any more for a certain period of time. I think I would like to see if I can do it for 1 day and then go from there. It sounds simple but I think it is going to be harder than it seems. This is all part of my 2011 plan to work smarter, not harder. The more I can trim my daily, weekly and monthly budget the better my money will work for me, the smarter I will be working for myself and my family.

What are you money smart tips? Do you think you could manage to go an entire day without spending money? Could you go a week or longer?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Things To Do Thursday

So I have gotten back to writing myself to do lists. I have managed to knock off a bunch of stuff from this weeks to do lists so far BUT  today I failed on that task. For a good reason mind you. As many of you know I work late nights -- I work in a radio newsroom and don't get home until about 1 a.m and I get up with the kids in the morning to get them off to school. By the time the end of the week rolls around I am pretty tired. Today I decided I just needed a nap and so I hit the sack. I ended up sleeping the afternoon away and before I knew it it was time to pick up the girls from school. I didn't do any laundry, I didn't do the dishes, I didn't sort the receipts which was the main task for the day. The only thing that I got partially crossed of my list was to call the cell phone company to work out a phone plan that isn't going to cost too much money. It is one of the things that I want to tackle as part of my year to work smarter not harder -- getting more efficient with my money and getting money smart. I didn't pick a new plan but did start the process of finding another option.

I am a little bit irritated that I didn't get my tasks done today but am going to cut myself a little slack. I figure if I fell asleep it was because my body needed it. It is one of the other things that I need to learn to do this year -- listen to my body and stop pushing myself too hard.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Makes Ya Think

" Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting. "

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Getting Organized

So as part of my 2011 plan to work smarter, not harder I think a good starting point should be to get organized. Ultimately the idea of working smarter is about being more efficient. It is really about using my time more efficiently. The best way to do that is to start off from a well organized, efficient space.

Right now I can honestly say that my house is very disorganized. A few things have a place but many things do not have a permanent home. We have major drop zones where things tend to collect, like bills, toys, laundry. They languish there until someone gets sick and tired of stepping over them or shoving them to the side -- that person is usually me. It is hard for my girls to put their toys away when there is really not one specific, designated spot for the toys. I think all this clutter in my physical world is cluttering my mind. I have long wanted to declutter and get organized but it is an overwhelming tasks when you are doing it for the entire house and everyone who lives here. Complicating the matter is that we have a friends stuff still in our basement and my husband has office stuff at home ( all over the house because we haven't found a permanent home for it yet). The plan is to make the basement a kid zone,  with toys,  play area and a T.V area.

So since January is usually when people start getting organized I thought this would be the perfect time for me to tackle this task. I think it is fair to say this task will likely take me all month to tackle. We have a four bedroom house with a basement and a home office so there are lots of spaces that are cluttered in our home.  This week I am tackling just the general, daily clutter and mess. I reorganized the kitchen counters on Monday.  I moved things around, to what I think is a more efficient set up. I gave myself a bit more working counter space. I also started to organize the bathrooms. I cleaned and decluttered the counter tops. I figure if the spaces are tidy and clean then I can start the hard work of streamlining and decluttering ( by that I mean getting rid of things that we don't use) and then really making our house an efficient and workable and organized home.

This week I am also going to start going through receipts and old bills. We seem to have kept every receipt known to man - many of which should really be filed in the trash. I am going to sort them and drop them in file folders and ship them off to the accountant. I will get organized for tax time -- something that we have fallen behind on -- and also clean up the office area. I think that if I had a clean, tidy and beautiful work space to write in I would be more production and creative.

Being cluttered and disorganized is cluttering my mind and holding me back from being truly happy and successful. Life could be so much easier and less stressful if everything has a place. Imagine how easy it would be to get the kids out the door in the morning if everyone knew where to find their coats, boots, mitts, backpacks and car keys. I hope to start crossing some things off my to do list on the road to working smarter not harder. I will update you on how I am doing. I also hope to learn some tips and tricks along the way that I will share with you.  And if you have tips you want to share with me  I would love that. Anything that can help reach my goal faster would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I got thinking today about this idea I have for a better year ahead. I want to work smarter, not harder. I want to be able to work more efficiently in all areas of my life, including my personal life. I am a bit of a worrier and I can obsess about things sometimes, something I would like to change this year. But how?

Well....I have only to look at my kids to learn a lesson. Children love, live, and play fully. They do everything with every fibre of their bodies and souls. There is so much to learn from them. So this year I am going to let my children teach me to be more free -- free to live, love and play fully.

Monday, January 17, 2011


I love going back and looking at old posts. It is interested how some are similar and some are still very relevant. Take the post below for example. Great resources still. Since my plan for this year is Work Smarter, Not Harder I am taking another look at the links. I hope I can drum up some new freelance gigs.

Sometimes you don't have to go far to find answers.

I must admit I have been spending a lot of time surfing the web and reading other Mom blogs. There are a lot of great ones out there.

Here are a few places I have been visiting lately. These have been a great resource for me.

A Moment to Myself

I had a few hours to myself today. My oldest daughter was at school and my youngest spent the afternoon at my parents house. I headed home on my own. When I got home I tidied the kitchen, folded one load of laundry and made myself lunch.

The funny thing was that I really didn't know what to do with the time. I could have had a nap, or read with a coffee but instead I did housework. It got me thinking why is it that Moms feel like that can't take time for themselves, I mean purely for themselves? We seem to struggle with that idea. I often find that friends who are Moms do the same thing. They relish those days with that they have a few hours without children, usually because they say they can get ahead of the cleaning, or the laundry or the dishes.

Why? I mean really...WHY?

What do you do for yourself? Purely selfish...just for yourself

Friday, January 14, 2011

It Was Cold at Work Tonight

It was cold in the anchors booth tonight. So cold the anchors had to dress for outdoors

Sarasota, Florida - A Spot We Love

Sleeping Babies

The drive home from Florida was just too much fun. The girls fell asleep for several hours in the car, one of them still has a movie playing on the portable DVD player. A quiet drive for a few hours.


I am not a big fan of making resolutions. Let's face it most of us make this big resolutions -- you know the ones, I am going to lose weight, get a better, high paying job, find my dream job, do all the things on my bucket list, and then by December you realize that you did actually follow through with anything of the things on your list of resolutions.  SOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooo, I don't make New Year's resolutions per say. What I am doing this year is making a plan for the year. Just some ideas really.

Everything I hope to accomplish this year  has to do with one thing....WORKING SMARTER, NOT HARDER. And that goes for all areas of my life - my professional life, my home life, my family life, my relationships. I want to have a more fulfilling life without working harder. I believe there is a way to get everything I have ever wanted in life without working myself into the ground. This year I am going to work toward that.

I am working to get more focused. I am working to de-clutter my home and create the perfect spot for me to work at home, a place that I will feel inspired to write. I am working toward making more contacts and getting more writing assignments.

What do you do  to work smarter not harder? I would love to hear what works for you

Monday, January 10, 2011


Funny things kids say while in the car for 2 days driving to Florida.

"Mom, sometimes I fart at school. I just can't help it. I can't hold it in"


Me: "Girls, it is Grampy's birthday when we get to the condo you should wish him a Happy Birthday."
DD2(5 year old): " How old is Grampy?"
Me: "Well, maybe you should ask Grampy when you get there but let's just say he is in his 70's"
DD2: "WOW. HE HAS BEEN ALIVE THAT LONG. I can't believe he has been living that long. I can't believe it"

Just a few of the gems she blurted out on the road trip


Here are a few pictures from our drive home from Florida - when the weather got bad.