5 Things You Should Do Every Single Day — Even When Life is Stressful

5 Things You Should Do Every Day -- Even When Life is Really Stressful

Are you in a period of life where it just feels like everything is overwhelming and out of control? Like you just have too much to do and too little time? But you try as hard as you can to cut some things from your life and schedule and you just can’t come up with anything to cut?

Maybe you have a newborn and a toddler. Maybe you’re in the midst of a personal crisis. Maybe things are really stressful at your job. Maybe you’re caring for a special needs child or an aging relative. Maybe it’s a thousand other things…

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I get it. I really do.

Some days, some months, and some years, life is just very exhausting and stretching. Sometimes, you just wish you could find a way to run away to a very quiet, clean place where you don’t have to worry about bills or work problems or kid’s struggles or health issues or any other things that can weigh us down in life.

If you’re in a season of life where you are feeling overwhelmed or if you would just love to find a way to have a little more order and structure in your life, I encourage you to develop the habit of doing these five things every single day.

They might seem so simple — and they are! — but if you’re not doing these on a daily basis, commit to making them non-negotiables for 3-4 weeks and see if it makes a difference for you.

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 1. Write a Short To-Do List

If you don’t have a plan, there’s a good chance you’ll live life just spinning your wheels and putting out fires.

Pre-determine a few top priorities for each day and write these down on your to-do list. I suggest no more than 5-7 items on your to-do list each day, otherwise, you’re probably setting yourself up for defeat and frustration.

5 Things You Should Do Every Single Day

2. Make Your Bed

Truth be told, this is something I’m still working on myself. However, I’ve been much more committed to making this a priority after watching this video. (Yes, go watch it. I’ll wait for you!)

Isn’t it amazing how such a simple thing can make such a big difference?

5 Things to Do Every Single Day -- Even When You're Overwhelmed With Life

3. Get Dressed in Something That Makes You Feel Great

Anne Bogel and Dear Abby Leigh have both written on the importance of “dressing for the life you want to have” and I think there is a lot of truth in this.

When you put a little effort into how you dress, it can impact your entire day. I want to write more in-depth on this topic soon as making dressing nicer a priority in my life in the past six months has actually made a huge difference in my productivity and overall outlook on life.

I’ve found that I get more done, I feel more energetic, and I just feel happier. It might almost sound weird, but I dare you to try it.

5 Things You Should Do Every Single Day

4. Do One Load of Laundry From Start to Finish

So, this is also something I’m still really working on. And I need about five more years of success before I should be preaching about anything laundry-related. :)

But what I can tell you is that by watching the Simple Homemaking Video Course that came as part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle and then by following the advice to follow through and finish all the parts of laundry every single day I’ve experienced incredible freedom this past week. I honestly had no idea how much being 3-5 loads behind on laundry all the time was dragging me down.

5 Things You Should Do Every Single Day

5. Keep Your Kitchen Clean

When my kitchen is clean, it feels like my whole house is pretty much clean. When my kitchen is messy, the rest of my house can be clean, but it will feel like the whole thing is a wreck.

Maybe I’m the only person who is this way, but I can’t encourage you enough to develop a system for keeping your kitchen clean. Just at least try it and see how you like it!

What works for us is to make sure the kitchen is completely clean twice a day. At night before bed, I load and start the dishwasher, wash/dry/put away any larger items that won’t fit in the dishwasher, and wipe down all the countertops and table. In the mornings around breakfast time, I unload the dishwasher, re-load it with breakfast dishes, and wipe down/clean up anything that needs to be cleaned.

Throughout the day, as we use plates/cups, we rinse and stick them in the dishwasher — which means that, for the most part, our kitchen always looks pretty clean. And a clean kitchen makes me so happy!

5 Things You Should Do Every Single Day

Bonus: Take 5 to 15 Minutes to Do Something for YOU

Carve out a little time each day, if possible, to do something that fills you up. Whether that’s reading or napping or chatting with a friend or journaling or texting a friend or gardening… whatever it is, take time to refuel and refresh yourself so that your tank is not depleted.

But Wait! Is This Really Realistic?

Now, you might have read through all of those above and thought, that’s great, but I just don’t have time to implement any of that right now. Well, I wanted to show you a practical example of how you could accomplish all of it with minimal time and work each day.

So here’s an example of a morning and evening routine that wouldn’t require much extra time and effort but would allow you to accomplish all five of these things every day, plus more:

5 Things You Should Do Every Single Day

Example Morning Routine

  • Get up, make your bed immediately, and make coffee (unload the dishwasher while the coffee is brewing).
  • Spend 10 minutes journaling/praying/reading while your sipping coffee.
  • Start a load of laundry.
  • Do 10 minutes of quick exercise (maybe a YouTube video workout or a walk or run around the block).
  • Shower, get dressed in something you love, do your hair and makeup.
  • Switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer.

Example Evening Routine

  • Load the dishwasher, start it, and wipe down all the countertops.
  • Fold and put away the load of laundry you washed and dried in the morning.
  • Lay out your clothes for the next day.
  • Take 5-15 minutes to do something you love.

See? It doesn’t have to take hours of time!

Just being a little more intentional with your morning and evening routines to make sure you accomplish these important daily tasks can not only help you feel more organized, it will keep your house cleaner, and probably help you feel a lot less stressed.

What items would be on YOUR Daily Top 5 List? I’d love to hear!

Feeling Overwhelmed With Managing Your Life & Home?

I’ve talked some about The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle this week and I hope you’ve had a chance to check it out. It’s an AMAZING collection of resources — many that I’ve already read and benefited so much from and many more that I cannot WAIT to read myself!

There are so many great resources in this bundle, including:

You get all of these + many, many more ebooks, printables, ecourses, and free bonuses for just $29.97 total! That’s a steal!

Grab your copy of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle here. Or, learn more about why I’m wholeheartedly endorsing this Bundle here.

It’s only available until Monday so you’ll want to get it while you can!

Click here for more info or to buy now.

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)
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5 Principles We Follow That Simplify Our Home

5 Principles We Follow That Simplify Our Home

My husband and I have been married for over 12 years and in those years, I’ve learned and grown a lot.

The first seven years of our marriage were especially hard. We survived the last semester of undergrad, infertility, law school, then three babies in five years, multiple job changes, job loss, starting multiple businesses, moving multiple times, financial struggles, marriage struggles, postpartum depression… and more.

I struggled to figure out how to do this wife thing, this mom thing, this home business thing, and this homemaking thing. There were many rocky seasons and rough patches.

There were many days when I never made it out of my PJs (well, truth be told, I still have a few days like that here and there!), I always felt incredibly behind, I rarely ever got enough sleep, and the house was often near disaster.

In the past five years, I’ve made huge strides in my organizational skills, my personal self-discipline, and in setting up more structure and routine for our days. There are 5 principles we follow that have helped us to find our groove, simplify our lives, and have better order in our days:

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#1: Touch It Once

As I talked about yesterday, instead of moving papers and piles and clutter and stuff around from place to place, I’m a firm believer in touching things once.

If you pick it up, use it and put it away. If you get it out, put it away. If it’s trash, throw it out. If it’s a dirty plate, don’t just set it in the sink, rinse it out and put it in the dishwasher.

By dealing with dishes and trash and junk mail and papers immediately, you save yourself so much time in the long run. {If you missed my post on this principle yesterday, read it here.}

Now if I could just implement a Touch It Once system for my laundry, we’d be all set! The good news? I’ve stayed almost completely caught up on laundry for a WEEK. That’s massively huge for me — especially because we went on vacation and came back during that week!

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#2: Everyone Pitch In

If you are a member of our family, you are required to be an asset to our family. We want to raise our kids to be responsible adults, so that means we are working on training them to pitch in and carry their own weight as part of our family.

One way we do this is by having Non-Paid Chores and Daily Lists. Our kids know that this is what is expected of them and that there are consequences when they don’t do what is expected of them.

By all pitching in and working together, it makes our home run much more smoothly and it means that no one person is having to tackle the majority of the work involved in keeping our home clean and orderly. “Many hands make light work!”

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#3: Pick Up Twice A Day

This simple principle has made a world of difference in our home. I’m not exactly sure when it started, but I don’t plan to ever discontinue it!

Basically, in a nut shell, we aim to have our whole house picked up and company ready twice a day — this means all the main rooms all picked up, the kitchen cleaned up, the laundry started, the bathrooms clean, etc.

We usually have a household clean-up time right after breakfast when everyone does their morning chores, I work on the kitchen and laundry and oversee/inspect the kids’ work. Then, after dinner, we all work together to clean up again — this time with Jesse either overseeing the kids’ chores or helping with cleaning up the kitchen.

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#4: Stick With a Budget

From the beginning of our marriage, we’ve lived on a strict, written budget. This has simplified our lives, made decision-making so much easier, helped us in our communication as a couple, given us greater financial traction than we could have ever dreamed, and allowed us to be able to fulfill our heart passions to be givers.

If you’ve never had a written budget before, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Some people think that it would make life miserable. On the contrary, we’ve found that it simplifies life so much — we don’t have to worry that spending money in one area is going to hurt our ability to spend in another area because we’ve already pre-determined and designated money for all of our budget categories. In addition, it cuts down significantly on impulse purchases!

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#5: Shop Less

The less you own, the less there is to clean, dust, and pick up. We don’t do much shopping — except mostly for groceries and some online shopping for necessities like clothes and household items.

Before heading out to shop, I encourage you to really ask yourself why you’re shopping. Do you have the money to buy the item? Can you make do with what you already have? Is there a better use for that money?

It’s long been said, “If you’re not content where you are, there’s a good chance you’re not going to be content where you think you want to be.” So instead of focusing on what we don’t have, for years we’ve made it our practice to focus on what we do have and to bloom right where we’re planted.

It’s amazing how this goes such a long way in curbing the “I wants” and the need to run out and buy something just to to buy something. Plus, the more we stay out of the stores, the less we are tempted to think we need to buy things we didn’t know we needed or didn’t know even existed!

5 Principles We Follow That Simplify Our Home

What principles help YOU simplify YOUR home? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Need Some Help Simplifying Your Life?

I’ve talked some about The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle this week and I hope you’ve had a chance to check it out. It’s an AMAZING collection of resources — many that I’ve already read and benefited so much from and many more that I cannot WAIT to read myself!

There are so many great resources in this bundle, including:

You get all of these + many, many more ebooks, printables, ecourses, and free bonuses for just $29.97 total! That’s a steal!

Grab your copy of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle here. It’s only available until Monday so you’ll want to get it while you can!

Best of all, these are all ebooks — so they won’t bring any extra paper clutter into your home! :)

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(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)
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How to Eliminate 99% of the Paper Piles in Your Home

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Recently, one of my friends who comes over to our house frequently commented about how she can’t figure out how we don’t have pile of paper anywhere. She wanted to know how on earth I accomplish that and what systems I have in place to maintain that.

At first, I told her I wasn’t sure; I just didn’t like piles so we didn’t have them. But being the analytical person I am, I spent some time thinking about it over the next few days.

Are there systems I have that I just don’t realize I have? Are there things I do on a regular basis to tame the pile monster?

I thought about it for quite awhile and slowly realized that I DO have systems. However, they have been in place for so long that I do them without thinking about them. I guess those are the best kind of systems, aren’t they? The ones that just happen without you thinking about them.

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So, here are my systems and how you, too, can eliminate 99% of your paper clutter:

1) Find Out Where the Paper Is Coming From

Start paying attention to where the paper piles are coming from. Are they school papers your kids are bringing home from school? Is it bills? Is it mail? Is it newspapers?

Figure out the source of your problem and see if there’s anything you can do to cut down on some of the inflow. For instance, can you automate your bills with online bill pay? Could you throw junk mail out in the outside dumpster before you even walk in the house? Could you cancel a subscription to the newspaper if it’s just piling up and not really being read?

2) Stop Hanging Onto Anything You Don’t Absolutely Need

Very few papers really need to be saved. Ask yourself: “If all my paper piles were all burned up in a fire tomorrow, what would I desperately wish I had saved?”

Only save those really meaningful papers and get rid of the rest. There’s no sense in letting things that don’t matter to you take up residence in your home and personal space!

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3) Implement the “Touch It Once” Policy

If you’ll stop to really pay attention, I bet you spend time each week moving paper piles. And you probably let them bog you down, too.

Here’s the truth: I rarely touch a paper that comes into our house more than once. For real.

I’ve determined that I just don’t want to spend hours of my life moving a pile from one place to another place, so instead, I institute the “Touch It Once” policy for all papers that come into our house. In almost 99% of the cases, this completely eliminates paper piles.

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Here’s how it works for me: When a piece of paper comes into our house, be it bills, kid’s papers from their activities, a magazine, an invitation, there are one of four things that will happen to it when I have it in my hand:

I either Trash It, Scan It (and then trash it), Display It, or File It.

Pretty much every single paper can fall under one of these categories. And doing one of these four things guarantees that it doesn’t become the start of a pile.

Practical “Touch It Once” Examples:

Some examples of specific kinds of papers and how I deal with them:

Ads: These are trashed immediately — as soon as I go through the mail. You can pretty much always find all ads online. I may glance through them and might jot a note on my Google Calendar about a sale or a reminder of something in them and then I trash them immediately (or, stick it in the recycling bin if you recycle).

Kid’s Artwork: I either display artwork on the fridge (I rotate these display regularly. When I take one down to rotate in another, I take a picture if it’s something I want to remember and then toss it), mail it to grandparents or our Compassion children, or take pictures of it on my phone so I have a record of it and toss it. If it was something really special — such as a very touching note or beautiful picture, I’ll store it in our Keepsakes & Mementos tub.

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Bills: Pay immediately and then scan and shred. If possible, switch to online bill pay so that you don’t even have to worry about remembering to pay bills.

Invitations/Notices/FYIs: Immediately make a note on your calendar of all the details you need to remember — times, due dates, details, etc. If you want to save the invitation for some reason, pin it to a board that’s designated for this purpose or display it on the fridge. Be sure to regularly cull these things on display, though. More than a few on display and you’ve sort of created a “Display Pile”!

I make notes in Google calendar of all events and details and then will put a reminder a few days before if I need to buy a gift, write a card, make a dessert, etc.

How to Eliminate 99% of the Paper Piles in Your Home

Cards/Letters: Want to know the truth? I don’t keep very many cards and letters from people. This might sound incredibly unsentimental of me, but the reality is that I’d have boxes and boxes of cards with signatures if I kept all the cards I’ve received in my life. So my rule of thumb with cards and letters is to ask myself, “Will I wish I had this in 25 years from now?”

If the answer is, “Yes!” than I’ll put it in our Keepsakes & Mementos tub. If not, I just toss it. You could also scan cards and letters to have an electronic record of them.

I dare you to try the Touch It Once System for two weeks just to see if it makes a difference. If you hate it, you can always go back to piling. But you might find, as my husband did, that it saves so much time and effort and keeps your office, countertops, tabletops and more much, much cleaner!

What are YOUR best solutions for dealing with paper clutter? I’d love to hear!

How to Eliminate 99% of the Paper Piles at Your House

Need Some More Help In Eliminating Paper Piles?

I told you about The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle yesterday and I hope you’ve had a chance to check it out. It’s an AMAZING collection of resources — many that I’ve already read and benefited so much from and many more that I cannot WAIT to read myself!

One of the books in the series is called Paperless Home Organization. This ebook is designed to walk you step-by-step through using your gadgets to organize your life, putting technology to work for you so you can be organized and get rid of your paper clutter.

And if you’re looking for even more help, three other books in the collection that I highly recommend and that will help you with your home organization and reducing paper clutter are: One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler, Project Organize Your Entire Life, and Your Simple Home Handbook.

These 4 ebooks alone retail for over $35! And you can get all four of them + many, many more ebooks, printables, ecourses, and free bonuses for just $29.97 total! That’s a steal!

Grab your copy of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle here. It’s only available until Monday so you’ll want to get it while you can!

Best of all, these are all ebooks — so they won’t bring any extra paper clutter into your home! :)

P.S. Be sure to check out the free bonuses that come with this Bundle! You’ll get a free Craftsy class of your choice, a free $80 exercise class credit, a free book from Tyndale publishing, a free 3-month subscription to the She Plans dinner menu-planning service, plus more!

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)
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6 Ways We’re Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low — Without Using Coupons

6 Ways We're Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low Without Using Coupons

So, I figure it’s high time I let you in on something that’s changed for us this past year. Some of you have probably already guessed this was the case. Some of you might be shocked and disappointed.

But regardless, I need to come clean about it. Because I don’t want you to assume something is the case when it isn’t.

So here’s the truth: I’ve basically not clipped or used any coupons on groceries this past year.

Nope. Nada. Zilch.

I had slowly been easing out of “extreme couponing” the past few years as life picked up its pace, we baby-stepped our way to fewer processed foods, and I fell madly in love with Aldi.

Then we moved to TN and lost our wonderful full-time assistant/babysitter. I had every intention of getting back into couponing, but with all of the transition and processing involved in moving + writing another book, Jesse ended up taking over most of the grocery shopping and cooking for us.

I would have never seen my husband as someone who would rock out as a chef (when we got married, I’m not even sure that he knew how to make toast!), but the guy has taken to the kitchen like white on rice.

In fact, he now runs circles around me when it comes to recipes. He loves experimenting with new ingredients and spices and he finds great delight in cooking things that require many pans and steps… which is the complete opposite of me!

6 Ways We're Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low

As a result, we more than doubled our grocery budget and we eat much healthier. However, we’ve still found many ways to keep our grocery budget relatively low without using coupons and while eating a diet comprised of lots of quality, whole foods.

I’ve been surprised and excited that we’re able to eat very healthfully for our family of 5 and only spend an average of $100 to $120 per week.

Here’s what’s working for us:

1. Shop at Aldi

I know I’ve sung the praises of Aldi over and over again, but I cannot help but include them on this list. When Jesse first started doing the shopping, I encouraged him to try doing most of the shopping at Aldi and then just shopping at Kroger for anything he couldn’t get at Aldi.

It took a few weeks of suggesting it, but he finally tried it. And he came home all stoked exclaiming, “I saved SO much money by shopping at Aldi!”

He’s now a diehard Aldi fan. Which is just one more reason to love him all the more. :)

6 Ways We're Saving Money on Groceries Without Using Coupons

Aldi has introduced so many new features and products in the last few years, including gluten-free foods, organic foods, and more. If you have an Aldi nearby, I cannot stress enough how much you need to go check them out. Just do it and maybe soon you’ll be singing their praises along with us!

2. Keep It Simple

While Jesse continues to add in new recipes to our weekly rotation, we still keep a lot of things very simple.

Breakfast is usually oatmeal, bacon & eggs, or cereal. Lunch is often sandwiches or leftovers. Dinner is usually just a main dish and veggies of some sort. Sometimes, we’ll throw in a side of fruit or sweet potatoes, too, but we’re good with just having a few options at dinner time. It saves time and money — and makes for less food waste.

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3. Eat Up Your Leftovers

Speaking of food waste, one thing we work hard to do is to use up leftovers or to re-use leftovers in a creative fashion. We’ll often have leftovers for lunch and, if there are quite a few different leftovers, we’ll serve a Leftover Smorgasbord for dinner one night.

Our philosophy: why make new food when you have food still in the fridge waiting to be used up? Save yourself cooking time and money and eat that instead. :)

4. Make Things From Scratch

We don’t buy many boxed or canned foods these days. We slowed weaned ourselves off of them over the past few years and now we not only love homemade so much more, it also saves us money.

Plus, since we keep our means simple and Jesse and I both help out with the kitchen/cooking, it really doesn’t take a lot of extra time to make things from scratch.

6 Ways We Keep Our Grocery Budget Low

5. Cook With Inexpensive Ingredients

As I mentioned earlier, we keep food pretty simple. We do buy higher quality ingredients, but we stick to recipes that use (mostly!) inexpensive ingredients — and mostly ones that can be purchased from Aldi.

We eat a lot of eggs, sweet potatoes, oats, fruits and veggies that are in season, beans, chicken, and some beef and pork. Those are the basic staples that many of our meals include. Jesse does branch out and try new recipes, but he usually only buys a few new ingredients every week. The rest of the ingredients are things we may already have on hand or things that we routinely buy at Aldi.

6 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill

6. Pay for Specialty Foods With Swagbucks

We do buy a few specialty ingredients — such as protein powder, Trim-Healthy-Mama approved sweeteners, and olive oil — and we get these with Amazon using gift cards earned through Swagbucks. It’s a great way to be able to afford a few of those high-quality ingredients we love to use in recipes.

6 Ways We're Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low Without Using Coupons

How do YOU keep your grocery budget low?

P.S. If you are looking for some more encouragement to lower your grocery budget, check out the amazing Homemaking Ebook Bundle. It’s a collection of 99 different resources, courses, ebooks, and free bonuses for just $29.97 total!

Included in this bundle are the following ecourses and ebooks:

Find out more about this incredible bundle here (and stay tuned for more about why I’m highly endorsing it — coming tomorrow!)

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Kids Skate Free — Free roller skating passes for kids this summer!

Kids Skate Free

Kids Skate Free is offering free passes for kids to skate at local roller skating rinks this summer.

Each skating rink will have different restrictions, but most will allow kids 12 and under to skate for free. If your child doesn’t bring their own skates, there will be a nominal fee for skate rental.

Check to see if there’s a local rink in your area participating here.

Thanks, For the Mommas!

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Two free games of bowling every day for kids — all summer long

Kids Bowl Free

Looking for a fun and frugal activity during the hot summer months? How about free bowling?

Sign up at KidsBowlFree.com to get a voucher for two free games of bowling for each of your children every single day all summer long. Check to see what nearby bowling alleys are participating here.

Please note: Shoe rental is not included, so if you plan to take advantage of this more than a few times, I’d recommend purchasing bowling shoes for your children. You may be able to find a good deal on these at a local sporting goods consignment store. Or, you can purchase them on Amazon.com for around $25-$35.

Register your child today.

Thanks, Frugal Finds During Naptime!

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