Last month, upon a recommendation from a friend, I read Anne Ortlund’s book Discplines of a Beautiful Woman. In one of the chapters, she talks about how she stays organized using a mini binder. I’d never thought of this idea, but decided to adventure in. It has been super great! I took a good bit of inspiration from her stories, but I also tweaked it to match my own ‘needs,’ and wanted to share it with you. Today you can spend oodles of money on designer binders and refill paper, which is nice, but I still think Anne’s inexpensive system is simple and helpful.
Being a mini binder, it’s small and easy to slip down in my bag for work, and not obtrusive to take into the doctor’s office or car repair shop (I say from personal experience).
It has been great for keeping all the many open tabs of my brain in one happy place.
I ordered custom mini binder calendar pages from Amazon, and they are fabulous. Sections for notes, a pretty design, all kept in the front of my binder.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a movie-watcher. I am a Netflix-watcher. In college, if I got home from a long day, I wanted to pop in a movie and veg. It’s a stress reliever for me most days, and that’s fine. But I’ve realized having the tv on has become a crutch for me to be productive. If I’m cleaning, Gilmore Girls is usually on. If I’m home along, drawing or folding clothes, I usually put something on. Not saying I’ll never do it again after this moment, because I certainly will.
Even with social media, I will sit on the couch and scroll a feed for a good 20 minutes, before getting up to do something. Not saying it’s a bad thing, sometimes it’s relaxing, but… how many other things that would do my tomorrow a favor could I be doing in that 20 minutes?
I’ve also realized how much more productive and clear-headed I am when I don’t have the television on, or my phone right beside me. It got me thinking about all the small things I could do with time that I’m tempted to procrastinate. When I get home from work, or on a lazy Saturday afternoon…
- Paint your nails
- Walk around the house thoughtfully: rearrange, throw out, donate
- Plan recipes for the next week
- Sketch out a garden plan
- Take 30 minutes and practice your hobby (for me, photography)
- Organize your recipe files
- Catch up with a friend via phone call, email, or text
- Talk a walk around the neighborhood
- Put on worship music and sing your heart out
- Clean out the ‘catch-all’ drawers (everyone has them)
- Take a few minutes and make a list of your blessings
- Brainstorming Christmas gift ideas
- Write a couple letters to distant friends or family
- Create a recycling system for your home
- Clean out your pantry
- Write a family manifesto for the year
- Memorize a Bible verse
- Spend some time in dedicated prayer for someone, or a people group
- Do something creative (for me it would be probably doodling for a little while)
- Create a budget for the upcoming month
- Organize your closet, getting rid of clothes you haven’t worn in a year
- Play with your hair and figure out a new way to wear it, just for fun
- Find an adventurous dessert recipe and make it
- Make a list of goals for the month
- Deep clean the bathroom (not anyone’s favorite, but marvelously helpful in the end)
- Plan a spontaneous evening out for your husband, or your friends
Most of these things range from 5 minutes to 30 minutes, not a huge deal when considered within 24 hours, right? But, it can truly make a great deal of difference in the overall month or year. I find the quote below interesting:
“Most people don’t think in terms of minutes. They waste all the minutes. Nor do they think in terms of their whole life. They operate in the mid-range of hours or days. So they start over again every week, and spend another chunk unrelated to their life-time goals. They are doing a random walk through life, moving without getting anywhere.” Alan Lakein
Small choices today that can help or hurt bigger goals later.
What do you think?
January 1 is the time to make resolutions, right? Well, there’s no rule that says it can’t also happen in the middle of the year. I declare August a month to make goals. I’m not in school anymore, but there’s something about the school year calendar that feels fresh. A new beginning of sorts.
“We can start a new 24 hours whenever we want!” I happen to really dig this sentiment.
So, what are my August Resolutions? Here we go…
Yoga Every Day – Whether it’s 5 minutes after breakfast or 30 minutes on the mat. The above is one of my goal (progress tracking) poses. I’ll probably do a ‘progress check’ every month.
10% Refined Sugar – I would say ZERO, but I think the occasional frozen yogurt or chocolate chip cookie makes life more enjoyable.
More Writing, Less Typing – I’ve found myself keeping a notebook in my purse so I can make notes, keep a calendar, with pen and paper, instead of always looking at my phone. Simplicity in contrast to far too much stimulus in our technology-driven world.
Less Perfection, More Personality – Less time letting my thoughts, decisions, personality be dictated by other people – by fear. No more overanalyzing every thought, assuming what other people are thinking.
Let’s do this. Enjoy life. Challenge ourselves. Set goals. Strive for what is helpful instead of hurtful.