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Sunday, October 26

5 Time Management Strategies That Will Change Your Life

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There is a pop culture quote being circulated around that says, “You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce”. Not sure where I saw it for the first time, but once I did I noticed it everywhere! But here is the thing, Beyonce is beautiful, talented, hardworking, and an icon. But she also very, very rich. Most likely she has at least 20-50 people on her personal payroll including a personal assistant, a makeup and hair artist, stylist, chef, housekeeper, nanny, money managers, accountant, business partners, and so on and so forth. Think about all the time that would be freed up if you didn’t have to meal plan, grocery shop, clean your home, take care of your kids, and do your own taxes! So to say Beyonce has the same 24 hours in a day as you is, in my opinion, totally misleading and frankly borders on women shaming. It is akin to saying you should be as beautiful, successful, and talented as Ms. Z and there is something wrong with you if you aren’t some kind of superstar because “we all have the same amount of time in our day”. 

But just because you don’t have the ability to delegate your “to-do” list in the same way as Beyonce doesn’t mean you can’t find a time management strategy that will help you get more done in less time. I have been working on fine tuning my time management system and so far it is really working for me. It does include some delegation, but not to the same extent as one of the richest women in entertainment!

Follow A Routine

I put this as my first time management strategy because I believe it is the most important. I am a huge believer that having a routine is key into getting things done. For example, my weekdays all follow the same general outline

  • 5:30-6:00am- Wake up, make a cup of tea, surf the web. Includes “work” time because I read all of my blog comments from the night before, go over my Facebook, and spend time on Pinterest.
  • 7:00- Wake up the boys. Usually Ella is awake by now and we have been cuddling on the couch while she watches a show and wakes up. Make Ella and Mason’s lunch.
  • 7:30- Make sure the boys are almost ready for school. 
  • 8:00- Boys are on their way to school and Lucia, my housekeeper arrives. I take a shower and get ready for the day.
  • 8:30- Done getting ready, get Ella dressed for school. 
  • 8:45- Take Ella to school
  • 9:15- Because I am already out and about, I often use this time to run errands, which includes purchasing anything I need for the blog.
  • 10:00-3:00- Work on the blog.
  • 3:00-4:30- Family time! Watch Ella as I putter about, talk with the boys, etc.
  • 4:30-5:00- Make dinner
  • 5:00-5:20- Have family dinner
  • 5:20-7:00- More family time. Help the kids with homework. Schlep kids to whatever sport they are doing, etc. 
  • 7:00-9:00- This is “my” time. I go into my bedroom and shut the door. Usually I watch tv or work on the blog. 
  • 9:00- Lights out

As you can see, it is a fairly basic schedule of an upper income woman with a part time job who works out of her home. It has taken me a long time to get to this point, and I do have the luxury of a housekeeper 5 days a week. I totally get this is not something that the vast majority of women out there have and I know this is a true blessing. Lucia has been with me for over 10 years, and she really is my right hand! I also don’t have any babies to contend with. My schedule looked a lot different when I had babies and frankly, my time was spread a lot thinner. But I still had a routine in place.

It might look like a boring life, but it works for me! I am not interested in a daily adrenaline rush that comes from winging it. I have a good friend who literally has zero routine and is always wondering why she is late and frazzled! A schedule adds structure to your day so you aren’t always wondering what comes next. I already know what is next because I did it yesterday and I will do it again tomorrow.

time management strategies

Make A List

I am a list kind of gal. If I don’t write something down then it doesn’t get done, simple as that. I have a few different notebooks that I use to keep things organized including a main book where I take notes for my blog, and another for my homemaker duties. Then each day on a separate piece of paper I make a list of what needs to be done that day. I start by doing whatever is the most important task (discussed further below) and then move on to the second priority and so on and so forth. If something doesn’t get done it gets transferred to tomorrow’s list. If it is on my list for 5 days and hasn’t gotten done, then I just don’t do it or I figure out a way to delegate it to someone else. I figure if it wasn’t important enough to get done in 5 days, it probably isn’t very important after all and I need to move on.

I have also found lists help keep my scattered brain on track. I am pretty sure I have ADD so there are always a million things running around in there. If I write something down then I seem to have the ability to let it go in my brain. It also gives me a way to prioritize and move on from one thing to another instead of forgetting about what I should be doing and surf the net instead.

Eat The Frog First

The other day I read this amazing time management book called Eat That Frog and it changed my life! The premise is you should do the biggest and ugliest task first. I have a terrible habit of pushing off the things I don’t really want to do until ‘later’ and then important things weren’t getting done. For example, before I started writing this post I hadn’t made my daily list yet and was getting distracted because what I really wanted to do was bake cranberry bars. But the cranberry bars weren’t the most important thing I needed to do with my day because they were something I could do when Ella and the kids were home, and writing isn’t. I have learned to discipline and force myself to write when the house is empty because that is when I do my best work. Writing this post was the frog I needed to eat first. 

When I make my daily list I will star the three most important things I need to accomplish that day. Then I figure out which of the three items is the most important of the most important and start with that one. When I am finished with that task I move on to the second, and so on and so forth. I have found this gives me the ability to get more done in less time because I have stopped wasting my time on minor issues and can knock the major projects out of the way.

Time Blocking

If you go back to my daily routine you will notice I didn’t go over the time between 10:00am and 3:00pm in great detail. The reason for this is I use a time blocking method during those hours. Once I have figured out the frog I need to eat, I write down how long I think it will take for me to finish that project. Then I schedule out the next items on my to-do list and so on and so forth. I have noticed I tend to lose focus after 45 minutes of working, so I make sure to take a 5-15 minute break for every 45 minutes of intense work. If I haven’t finished whatever was the most important thing on my list in the 45 minutes of allotted time, I decide if it is important enough to continue working on it. If the answer is yes, I continue. If the answer is no I stop what I am doing and move on to the next task on my list. I have found this keeps me from getting too involved in projects that can be strung out for a few days and helps me focus on a few different aspects of my work within the 10-3 work schedule. 

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The Pomodoro Technique

Have you ever head of the Pomodoro Technique? This is a fairly popular time management strategy where you set a timer for 25 minutes and when it rings you take a short 3-5 minute break. Then you start back up for another 25 minutes and so on and so forth. After four 25 minute increments you take a longer break and then get back to work. I have found this to be a fantastic technique when I don’t want to be doing whatever it is I am working on- usually cleaning or organizing. Even though I have a housekeeper I still have to keep things running smoothly which includes various organizational tasks like cleaning out the basement or the junk drawer and other tasks of the same ilk. I get very little enjoyment from these chores, so knowing I get a break every 25 minutes helps me stay focused. 

By using these five time management strategies I have found I am able to get a lot done during my days. It might not be as much as Beyonce, but then again I am not an international superstar! I figure being a glamorous housewife is the perfect life for me and something I wouldn’t give up, even if it meant being Miss Bey! Just kidding! I would totally give it up to be Beyonce! But until that happens I will continue using my time management systems to create the life of my dreams. 

If you enjoyed this article, check out my three part series on keeping your home neat and tidy:

Part 1: Keeping A Cleaning Schedule

Part 2: Getting The Spouse And Kids To Help

Part 3: Keeping Things Interesting

Wednesday, October 22

Fantastical Homes

By Adrienne Breedlove

If there was one word to describe the Halloween season, I would use fantasy. It’s the time of year where everything seems magical and reality is a bit skewed. We can pretend to be other people in other places, while taking in the changes colors of our environment and enjoy the brisk weather.

I’ve said in the past that your home should be a reflection of you and your style. We all have fantasies when it comes to living spaces. Those grand, unique ideas that are beautiful but expensive, quirky but impractical. But there are some individuals out there who have the means and the creativity to make it a reality.

To celebrate this season of imagination, I thought I’d share a few fantastical homes that bend the rules of realism, and feature some uncommon characteristics.

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When you think of wallpaper, I bet your first thoughts go to kitschy patterns and bright colors. The last thing you may think of is moody scenery. This wallpaper is so well done with the high ceilings, that it actually appears as though the living room is set in another place entirely. You can purchase this wallpaper and many others at Pixers.

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The stairwell to this home is only the tip of the iceberg. The “house vvdb” is as intriguing in the interior as it is externally. Extravagant and daring in some areas, while refined in others, this house is a work of art in and of itself. I sincerely suggest you click on the above picture to view the photo tour.

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This home puts tree wallpaper to shame, actually incorporating limbs into the structure of the house. The home is actually built with natural, unshaped lumber. The result is what feel like a tree house, with the branches organic curves lending themselves to the architecture.

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You may have thought that Hobbit homes were things of fiction, but it became reality for Simon Dale in 2003 when he began constructing the “Hobbit House”. With help, the home was built and his family was moved in within 4 months. Since then, he’s built several more of these “shelters.” You can see them all by clicking on the above photo.

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I think we all dream about giving our children (and maybe a little for ourselves) the coolest room imaginable. Designer Steven Kuhl has set the bar pretty high with this pirate themed bedroom. He’s created a unique play and sleep area for his son, and I’m sure his friends love it as well.

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This Moroccan bedroom is just oozing with glamour. Such a beautiful and ornate ceiling is something most of us can only dream about. While renovating your bedroom for a similar look may not be on the top of your to-do list in reality, it would still be quite a sight to see every morning.

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Fellow book lovers, what better place to display your hardcovers than inside your staircase? While this unusual organization and decor tactic is interesting, and maybe even a little compelling, those steep stairs seem a wee bit dangerous!

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Lastly, I leave you with The Teahouse, the most adorable little house I have ever seen. Unfortunately, there are no photos of the interior, but I just couldn’t resist sharing it.

Happy decorating,

Adrienne

Wednesday, October 22

Amazing Cranberry Bars To Try Right Now

 

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I love pumpkin spice as much as the next person, but ladies, I think it has jumped the shark. When I walk into Trader Joes there is a HUGE display of all things pumpkin spice: cereal, granola bars, bread, croutons, cookies, butter, lotion, the list goes on and on! You know how you hear a cool new song on the radio and you love it so every time it plays you turn the music up and sing at the top of your lungs. But then the radio stations start playing it twice an hour and after a few weeks of hearing the same song over and over you are totally sick of it and can’t remember why you liked that song in the first place? That is how I feel about pumpkin spice.

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It totally bums me out how fun traditions are often marketed into oblivion. So to get away from pumpkin spice and yet still celebrate the season, I have decided cranberry is the new pumpkin. Think about it: this berry only comes out for a short amount of time during the autumn and early winter, the flavor is bright and tart, and the color! Who doesn’t adore that vibrant shade of deep scarlet?

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To start my cranberry commemoration, I thought I would make these amazing cranberry bars in individual portions. I have a difficult time cutting bars into squares or rectangles, so I thought it might work to put them into cupcake tins with cupcake liners. It turns out by using this method the bars don’t have to cook for as long, which is nice, and they automatically come out of the oven in perfect portions and look festive with their ruffled “collars”. They look beautiful displayed on a footed plate, and I ended up taking the final batch (it took me a few tries to get the proportions correct) to my son’s elementary school as a treat for the office staff.

Cranberry Bars

Cranberry Bars
Serves 12
An easy dessert that highlights the tangy sweetness of cranberries in individual portions.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Crust and Topping
  1. 1 cup AP flour
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1/2 cup ground slivered almonds or cashews
  4. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/2 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
  7. 1egg
  8. 1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Filling
  1. 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (I used frozen)
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. Juice of 1/2 orange (4 teaspoons)
  4. zest of 1/2 orange
  5. 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a food processor, chop the nuts into small pieces, about the size of small breadcrumbs. Next add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pulse 3-4 times to combine.
  3. Next add the butter to the mixer. Pulse 10 times and then check to see how small the pieces are. They should be quite small, similar to the aforementioned breadcrumb sizing. If they are the size of peas they are still too big and pulse again until you get the right texture. I had to pulse 13-15 times.
  4. Pour mixture into a bowl and add the egg. Mix with fork until combined. This will be very dry and crumbly- not like a cake batter or even raw cookie dough.
  5. Now it is time to make the filling. Rinse out the food processor and then add all the filling ingredients. Pulse until the cranberries are the size of relish. You want them to have a bit of texture so don't puree them.
  6. Lay out the cupcake liners in the cupcake pan. On the bottom place a HEAPING tablespoon of the flour/butter mixture and then use your fingers to press into the pan. This is the base of your bar. When finished, add the cinnamon to the mixture and stir. This will now be your final topping. Set aside.
  7. Now we add the cranberry filling using the same tablespoon. I believe it was about 2-3 tablespoons per bar, but you can eyeball it. You might not use all of the cranberry mixture.
  8. Now top with the rest of the flour/butter mixture.
  9. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. They are done when the tops are a light golden brown. Do not over bake! I made this mistake and they ended up like hockey pucks and had to be thrown away.
  10. Let cool and enjoy!
Notes
  1. This is for 1 pan of cupcakes (12). Double the recipe if you want more.
Adapted from Betty Crocker
Adapted from Betty Crocker
The Glamorous Housewife http://theglamoroushousewife.com/
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