Sunday Salon: Week 1 of My Happiness Project

At the beginning of October, I decided to spend the month de-cluttering and focusing on managing my time better. I’m pretty tired of my days going by in a blur with little to show for it, but an ever-growing to-do list. So last week I decided to go through my days and write down my observations about my daily life before I put a plan into gear.

Time Management

There’s too much to do and I’m only one person! There’s a million things that I need to do every day. From homeschooling to cleaning the house, making dinner to taking care of my kids, there’s always something that needs my attention.

I try to multitask. That’s a fail right there. Multitasking is something that you feel the need to do even if you can’t always do it well. I find myself trying to look up something online for one kid while helping another one with their work, and doing a third thing. I know I’m not giving any one thing my undivided attention and often it shows.

Multitasking leads me to being distracted. My attention span seems to be getting shorter and shorter. It doesn’t help that I’m constantly running around with things to do and not enough time to do them. There’s 24 hours in a day and my son, Avram, often asks me if I wish there was more time.

Organization

I don’t have enough space. I live in a small two bedroom apartment, crammed with kids and books. I try to take advantage of every inch I have, but I’ve realized that I can scale down and cull our things, buy furniture to help make this space home, or just move. I’m at the point where every time I look around my place, I don’t feel peace. I see more tasks that I need to do.

I have too many things. I really don’t, but as I said above, I don’t have enough space. It makes what we own seem like too much though it’s not.

Our things are everywhere. As any bookworm knows, books never stay on shelves. They’re on nightstands, on the floor when you run out of shelf space, on the couch, and all over your desk. I can say the same thing about my pens and pencils, writing notebooks, Legos, and other objects.

Writing down what I observed this week was pretty eye opening. I’ve been having the same issues over and over again for years now and it’s time to change that.

Changes

Now that I understand some of my problems, it’s time to put a plan into place. Instead of lamenting about my small space, I’m going to work with what I have for now. I plan on culling things, organizing, and trying to give everything its own place. When it comes to time management, I’m going to cut things from my to-do list and cut out multitasking to see if it helps. We’ll see what happens.

What are you up to today? Do you have any time management or organization tips for me?

About Vasilly

Mother, daughter, sister, college student, bookworm, lover of chocolate and coffee.
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29 Responses to Sunday Salon: Week 1 of My Happiness Project

  1. readerbuzz says:

    We raised our kids in a small space. We made our furnishings multitask, instead of us. Our couch made into a bed so that the kids could have friends over in the living room. We didn’t have a desk; instead we used our table as a table and a desk. Everything in a pinch could be shoved into a closet. It was tricky and frustrating at times.

  2. I feel as if I could have written this post! We also live in a small home. It was built in the 40s so you know…the rooms are kinda micro. I’ve never minded, but it does make me more aware of STUFF. There are days when I want to sell everything we own, no lie. I think it’s great that you’ve taken a step back and looked at your life with a critical eye. It’s great that you know what works and what doesn’t. Now you can make the necessary changes! Best wishes!

  3. Trisha says:

    This is a brilliant idea and I really should copy you and start my own project.

  4. Laurie C says:

    I’ve been thinking about time management lately, too, and decided I need to spend less time on my phone. Everything takes longer on my phone than it would on my laptop, but using the phone I can kid myself that I’m not spending a significant amount of time just checking Facebook or sending a quick text. But all those little pieces of time add up to a lot!

  5. Athira says:

    I love your project and I always want to do something like that. Like you, I try to do too many things and am never on top of the things that need to get done. I need to do a serious decluttering and life downsizing and focus my time on things that make me happy. I am looking forward to your posts on this project and hopefully, I will get just the push to do it too!

  6. We’re in a very small space, too. Decluttering feels so good when I finally make myself do it. It’s this great relief that helps me enjoy other things and not feel so cramped.

  7. Akilah says:

    Start small and have manageable goals! 15-30 minutes a day on decluttering can make a big difference without being herculean in nature.

    Oh, and focus on improving one thing at a time. Good luck!

  8. Megan says:

    I definitely have too many things. I’m with Jennifer. There are definitely some days when I want to sell everything I own and start fresh. It just feels like it would be such a relief to be rid of all this *stuff* laying around everywhere stressing me out with its upkeep. First world problem, much? :-/

    Anyhow, I hope your plan makes your life happier and more productive!

  9. Bellezza says:

    It sounds so easy, but I think establishing priorities and boundaries are critical for me. You’re so right about managing with a clutter free life; too often we are chained by our things. Less is always more, less stuff equals more peace. I have every confidence you will manage your goals perfectly.

  10. joyweesemoll says:

    I’m always trying to do too many things. I was working on time management this weekend, too. I found a weekly time management grid on a university web site (http://www.uc.edu/content/dam/uc/wellness/docs/Time%20Management%20Grid.pdf) and penciled in a kind of idealized week. That’s helped me plan the coming week better, I think, because I’m more aware of what I can fit into each day — and what I can’t. We’ll see how it works in the long run, but I’m feeling hopeful tonight.

  11. Emily says:

    I read in a previous post that you’re reading The Happiness Project, so you likely already know Gretchen’s tips for reducing clutter, but my favorite of her tips is to take photos of things that you are sentimental about, instead of keeping the actual object. I also love her advice about discarding things that you don’t use but that you “might” use someday. Her advice to just buy it again if you need it is so good – we generally don’t ever need these things that are just hogging space with the thought that they might be used someday. I do this with books too – if I’m fairly sure I won’t want to read something again (or sometimes, for the first time), I get rid of it. If I ever want it again, I’ll let myself buy it or get it from the library. (You can also keep a log of books you’ve tossed, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting something you once read and wishing you remembered the title.)

    My favorite organizational tool is https://teuxdeux.com/ – I’ve tried so many to do list applications, and this one works the best for me. I love that it has two different types of list – a date based calendar to do list at the top, and then customizable “forever” lists at the bottom. It has recurring features too – so you can plug in bills or chores or anything that needs to be done monthly, weekly, or even daily. It has a mobile app too, so anytime something flashes into my brain I can log it into a list. I’m crazy passionate about it because it’s the main thing that keeps me organized.

    Last but not least, I found a quote on Tumblr that really resonated with me. I don’t know the original source unfortunately, but it’s extremely valuable advice about how to decide what in our lives we make time for:

    “Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.”

    Good luck!

  12. I went to Target and you know how they have this $1 section? And they always have these little colorful aluminum buckets there. And I got some for around the house, and that’s where we put our pencils, pens, and reading glasses. Well, okay, full disclosure. I got two sets, of two colors/patterns, so that I could keep my pens and pencils and especially reading glasses separate from Jim’s! It works pretty well!

  13. Beth F says:

    Space issues = our biggest problem too. Can you hang things? I have a couple of stacked hanging baskets in the kitchen, which solves some of my space problems.

  14. I think you’re on the right track with organization. I don’t have any advice myself as I’m trying to figure it out too, but what you’ve said here makes sense. It’s good to start with the scattered thoughts and organizing them first, something I’m trying to learn to do too. That helps a lot, I’m finding.

  15. Good luck with this project. Decluttering is so uplifting and invigorating… it’s way too easy to become weighed down with “stuff”.

  16. Bree @The Things We Read says:

    Wow I love your honest observation of yourself. Good luck with the project. Like Athira, I’m looking forward to reading about it. I hope you are able to make time to continue informing us of your progress. Decluttering really helps declutter your mind and put you at ease. I feel like less stuff makes me feel less anxious about other things. If you find a way to stop multitasking, let me know. I’m horrible at doing it all the time. Less so the older I get but I still do it. I don’t have kids around anymore so it only effects me not other people. I tried the picture taking thing that Emily mentioned from The Happiness Project. It helped with the clutter. I loved to keep little things the kids made. Once they went to college and I moved to an apartment, I took photos and put all their projects in a box. 4 years later, I still haven’t gotten rid of the box but its in a closet, tucked away, and my mind is at ease about not having the stuff cluttering up the shelves. Baby steps, right? It also helps that I don’t actually live where my stuff is at. LOL

    Anyways, I can’t wait to read Week 2.

  17. Lu says:

    I think it’s really helpful to look at what is frustrating and bothering you and then decide how you’re going to fix it. I try to do that whenever I find myself in a funk. Last time, it was really that I had stopped going to the gym. My mood lifted incredibly when I went back! I also know that I feel better if I spend one weekend day doing something: cooking an elaborate meal, going to a festival or a museum etc. Then the other weekend day is relaxing! I also know exactly what you mean about your apartment. When I moved this time, I made a commitment to myself that I was going to make my space the way I wanted it. Relaxing, neat, organized, and decorated! My NY apartment was too tiny to accomplish any of those things. My new apartment isn’t much bigger, but it has an extra room which has made a world of difference. I just feel more settled in a way I never did in 3 years I lived in NY! I can’t wait to read more about your progress!!!

  18. What a great idea! I know that there are areas of my life that need a close inspection. I need to put it on my to-do list!🙂

  19. bybeebooks says:

    I have a one-room apartment and too much stuff. Now I have to decide what goes back to the States with me and what stays here in Korea. I’m going to have to use a gimlet eye, because international shipping is expensive. I hope this will teach me not to be so attached to stuff in the future.

  20. Christina says:

    Wow, I’m impressed you were able to analyze your life and habits so well. I don’t think I could ever be that introspective.

    I hear you on the lack of space issue. I’m struggling to make 500 sq ft work for me. Hope you can make some good progress.🙂

  21. Trish says:

    I love this post Natasha and can so relate to what you’re feeling. Though we have a big house with far too many things and I’m constantly battling with STUFF EVERYWHERE and me being the only person who seems to care to keep everything clean and clutterfree. I also struggle with the never ending list of things that need to be done and at the end of the day feeling like I’ve done everything and nothing at the same time.

    Though I’m a bit scared to write down my observations. I look forward to hearing more from your journey!!

  22. Pingback: Of cookbooks, fashion, happiness…and more! | Still Unfinished

  23. bybeebooks says:

    Are you doing the Readathon today? I’m following your decluttering/organization journey with interest!

  24. livritome says:

    I’ll be eager to hear your progress. I find decluttering one of the biggest boons to happiness and a clear mind. But it is very hard when you have kids. Be gentle with yourself, take one area at a time. The biggest “law” — a single place for everything. Even books! L.

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