Saturday, September 13, 2014

How I stay organised

I have tried so many different ways of staying organised and on top of things at home over the years!

Over the last 15 years or so I have worked hard to teach myself to be organised and implement systems that keep surfaces clear and jobs completed, both at work and at home. At work I am very focused, but at home I am somewhat of a 'scattered' thinker and without systems in place, jobs don't get done! I'm not fantastic at sticking to my systems all the time and I often use the 'scheduled' parts as a guide rather than strictly following times, but no one has ever run out of underwear (whew!) and everyone always gets fed, so I must be doing alright :)

These are my current favourite ways of organising my jobs, calendar and the miscellaneous pieces of paper that are inclined to disappear when no one is looking!

Before I made any schedules or planners I made some goals which I display on the inside of the wardrobe door so I can be reminded of the things I want to achieve. I know I won't achieve all of them at once, but I find being reminded of them helpful as I know where I am heading.

Flowing on from that is the schedule displayed on the kitchen wall that gives us a detailed outline of what we need to do to get important things (like getting to school and getting to bed) done on time. I definitely don't always stick to these timings! Right after I made this chart I came down with a nasty virus that left me absolutely exhausted and both kids came down with a different virus and one came down with a throat infection! Needless to say our morning routine hasn't looked much like this as we have been trying to get as much sleep as possible to recover! This has been one of the times I have used this as a 'suggestion' rather than a schedule :) But as we did something similar last school term with morning timings, I know it does work really well for us when we are all fit and healthy! As someone who is not naturally a morning person, having the schedule and 'trying' to stick to it is more successful than not using one at all :)

This is the job planner I keep on the kitchen wall to help me make sure everything that needs doing gets done in terms of laundry, cleaning and lunch preparation. I originally decided to display it there so that if I am not home or am unwell my husband and kids know what jobs need to be done, but now they can see it, they are helping most of the time anyway! The kids particularly enjoy setting out the placemats and the napkins at dinner time.

For to-do list items, I have a diary that sits on top of the printer (sometimes on the kitchen bench) that I use to record what needs doing in terms of errands and general jobs and cross them out as I go (which I have always found very satisfying!)

One of my favourite organisational tools is my version of Karen Ehman's Brain in a Binder .
With so many notices coming home from school and birthday invitations and such things, I find it so much easier to keep them in one place. 

I use a ring binder with plastic folders and plastic sleeves inside to hold important documents until the are no longer relevant. 

I have one of these fantastic plastic folder sleeves for each person, plus one for receipts, shopping lists, and sections for craft ideas, cleaning tips, takeaway menus and calendars (which we display on the fridge and I store here when finished. We use a print out of our Google calendar, so we have it on our computer and phones too, but things always end up getting added in pencil and I like to have a record of them).  I love knowing where everything is and it makes finding things so much simpler!

Lastly, I keep a shopping list in a plastic sleeve in the pantry. I am terrible at saying 'oh dear we've nearly run out of  'xyz', but not writing it down and then forgetting when it comes time to make my shopping list on Tuesday night. By having one out and ready to go, I record things as soon as I notice they need to go on the list. (and yes, I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to making my shopping lists. I loathe forgetting things and having to go to the supermarket again!)

So there you have it! My organising systems, for the moment, until they change again :)

I really enjoyed Amy Hack's Life's youtube video about how she uses her filofax, and I am keen to try using one myself, like a mini version of my 'brain in a binder'. I'll let you know how it goes! 

Do you have any organisational tips or tricks that work brilliantly in your home? Please share them in the comments :) 


Friday, September 12, 2014

I'm back!

I originally started Doing it Simply in 2012 to communicate and share with other simple living enthusiasts and aspiring minimalists, but, ironically, my desire to simplify my life led me to close down my blog! 

But now I'm back and starting afresh for the simple reason that I really need accountability and community to keep me on track! 

Doing it Simply focuses on our attempts at embracing a kind of 'moderate-minimalist' way of living, an intentionally simple lifestyle.  The blog will feature ideas on (amongst other things): 

  • decluttering (I love the William Morris quote "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” and this has inspired many a decluttering frenzy!)*
  • systems and routines that help make life simpler at home, 
  • ideas for simple family fun 
  • and every week I will be participating in Food Waste Friday over at and
*disclaimer: Our choice to live with less stuff is certainly not a judgement on other people's lifestyle choices. This is what works for us at the moment. We certainly have many things that other people would consider clutter and a true minimalist would be horrified with the size of our CD collection! But that is why I believe the 'useful and beautiful' part of the Morris quote is so important. What is 'useful and beautiful' to me (I have lego displayed on my piano...) may not be to you, and vice versa :) 

Thanks for following along and I would love to hear any thoughts, tips or tricks you have for simplifying, organising and reducing your food waste in the comments!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Simple Parenting Links

There have been a couple of posts I have just LOVED this week.

This post by Amy at Frugal Mama inspired a new level of simple organisation and responsibility for my kids, both for the mornings and at bedtime. We've always had job charts, but they have been ones with tick boxes and I always forget to wipe the whiteboard marker off (by that time it has dried and I have to use cleaner to get it off...) so we stop using them. I love Amy's idea of SIMPLE lists that empower your kids to take control of their mornings, any my kids have been loving them too!

and this post by Dr. Laura Markham has completely changed the way I respond to my tired and cranky kids after school.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Food Waste Friday!


Avoiding food waste and keeping to a grocery budget are two things I'm really keen on and menu planning is my number one way to make sure they happen, from planning snacks and lunches to all our dinners for the week. 

So, how did I get on this week?

As predicted I did go over budget on my groceries  (NZ $50 over), but things are looking a bit more normal this week and I am confident I will do the groceries in under NZ$200.

On the food waste front, not quite as good as last week!

A little bit of hummus left in the tub, one bun which got pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten about, and a small bag of mandarins (I have to confess the bag of mandarins in the photo is not the bag that got disposed of. They got put in the bin earlier in the week, but I forgot to take a photo!). There were a few lunchbox items that didn’t get eaten, but I’ve decided not to worry about the whims of my children’s appetites in regards to Food Waste Friday.

So all in all not too bad. However, it could have been worse!

Thursday lunchtime I still had a couple of handfuls of baby spinach left that I didn’t want to eat raw and I didn’t want to throw away, so I pureed them into the baked potato I was having for lunch! With a sprinkle of cheese on top, they were surprisingly yummy (and not too alarmingly green!). Food waste problem solved :)

The Fridge

Not much to use up this week! The soup on the top shelf is for lunch today, the tofu on the second shelf is for dinner tonight, the peaches on the second shelf have just been opened and all the milk, cheese, eggs and condiments are in date. The fruit and vege in the bins are still good so they will be used up as snacks and meals in the plan below.

Menu Plan
When planning my menu I have to take a few things into consideration. I am catering for:
One person who is gluten-free
One is wheat-free (and 
One vegetarian 
One who will eat anything (particularly if it is covered in tomato sauce!)

So what are we eating this week?

Tonight it's Chicken and veges (nice and simple as I teach after school), with tofu for the vegetarian.
Saturday is homemade Pizza and chips.
Sunday is a stirfry (using up the left-over chicken) 
Monday is Steak, baked kumara (sweet potato), carrots, broccoli, with tofu for the vegetarian.
Tuesday is a vegetable Frittata (eggs, feta, pumpkin, potato, spinach)
Wednesday is tuna and vegies stirred through mashed potato (a simple but effective way to get my slow, picky eaters to eat up quick. Wednesday dinner is always a bit late as my daughter has art class until 5.30pm). Once again, tofu for the vegetarian.
Thursday is soup night! Pumpkin, potato and celery with lemon juice and mixed spice is the favourite at the moment.

Lunches: The kids will be having sandwiches all week.  Grown-ups will be eating leftovers and sandwiches depending on the day and what is leftover.  

Snacks are: date and walnut loaf, mini-muffins, corn-thins, sandwiches, chickpea chips, frooze-balls, assorted fruit from the fridge or fruit-bowl.

So there is my food week! 
How did you get on?

Thanks again to The Frugal Girl and SimplyBeingMum for the foodwaste and menu-planning inspiration.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Food Waste Friday

FoodWasteFriday I have been playing along at home with The Frugal Girl's Food Waste Friday and Simply Being Mum's  No Waste Tastes Great for quite some time and now I have a blog I intend to join in each week and continue to reduce our food waste! Nothing like public accountability as a motivator! 

Avoiding food waste and keeping to a grocery budget are two things I'm really keen on and menu planning is my number one way to make sure they happen, from planning snacks and lunches to all our dinners for the week. 

I already know I am going to go over budget this week. With the wee lad starting school I have been experimenting with his lunches to see what gets eaten and what doesn't and now I have a plan I am pretty confident we will be back under budget next week.

I probably won't do this every week, but seeing as how I have been snooping around SimplyBeingMum's fridge for quite some time, I thought it was only fair to let you all have a look at mine.  After being on my to-do list for quite a while, I have finally cleaned my fridge. Not just a quick wipe down with a cloth, a proper 'pull all the drawers and shelves out and wash them in the sink' kind of clean! I intend to give it a good wipe down every week from now on so I don't have to get to this point again!

So here it is: my sparkling clean fridge! 

Top shelf: flax seeds, soup for lunch, water

Middle shelf: extra margerine for baking, container of tinned peaches, bread
Bottom shelf: eggs
Door: mayonaise, Jam, margerine, cheese (you can't see it in the picture), tomato sauce, soy sauce, and milks (all in-date)
Fruit and veg drawers: celery, carrots, tomatoes, apples, lemons, mandarines: all still good!

The one thing that didn't get used up this week:

It doesn't look too bad in the picture, but it's much slimier in real life. Eugh! 

My daughter loves lettuce in her sandwiches but she was the only one who ate it this week. Next week I will be planning more uses for lettuce so I don't have to post more pictures of wilting leaves! Oh the shame!

So what will we be eating this week?

When planning my menu I have to take a few things into consideration. I am catering for:

One person who is gluten-free
One is wheat-free (and many-other-things-free) 
One vegetarian 
One who will eat anything (particularly if it is covered in tomato sauce!)

Every week I set myself a $200 (NZ) budget.  I would love to get under that, and have tried many times, but it has just resulted in there not being enough food in the house. However,  since I started menu-planning we are saving over $100 (NZ) on groceries per week!

Tonight it's Chicken and veges (nice and simple as I teach after school), with eggs for the vegetarian.
Saturday is a stir-fry with the leftover celery, carrots and some frozen corn from the freezer.
Sunday is a bit of a messy night as my husband has a concert on that we are all going to and my daughter is at a birthday party until about 7pm! He will eat pizza with his band kids at the venue, Zoe will eat at the party, and Alex and I will have chicken sandwiches and chips. Guaranteed to be eaten quickly!
Monday is a stirfry.
Tuesday is Steak, baked kumara (sweet potato), carrots and beans with tofu for the veg.
Wednesday is tuna and vegies stirred through mashed potato (a simple but effective way to get my slow, picky eaters to eat up quick. Once again, tofu for the vegetarian. Wednesday dinner is always a bit late as my daughter has art class until 5.30pm)
Thursday is soup night!

Lunches: Monday, Wednesday, Friday are sandwich days for the kids, Tuesday and Thursday are pizza. Grown-ups will be eating leftovers and sandwiches if there are no leftovers. 

Snacks are: date and walnut loaf, mini-muffins, corn-thins, sandwiches, chickpea chips.

So there is my food week! Here's to no foodwaste next week!

Thanks again to The Frugal Girl and SimplyBeingMum for the foodwaste and menu-planning inspiration.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An ode to my i-pod

I'm sure all of us have possessions we love and wouldn't part with no-matter how committed we are to living simply and living with less stuff. Given that I base what stays in my house on the William Morris quote "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” I would like to base today's post on something I love!

So without further ado, my 'ode to my i-pod'!

I love my i-pod. I've only had it a few months, thanks to a generous gift from my mother-in-law, but I can't imagine living without one now. For me, it is not the fact that 'I have an i-pod' that I can't live without, but the experiences I have now I have one.

I am a musician, a music teacher and a music fan and for the past 7 years, most of my music listening and making has been heavily influenced by either my jobs working with small children or my own children's tastes. This wasn't so bad when my son was obsessed with Gorillaz and the Beatles (aged 3), but even then, the day we listened to this album from 9am until about 4.30pm? There comes a point when even the most ardent fan has had enough of The Beatles!

With my i-pod came the opportunity to listen to music again, just for fun! And to listen to the music I wanted to listen to. Snuggling in bed with a child who is a reluctant sleeper? No worries! On goes the i-pod and the latest Radcliffe and Maconie podcast! Going for a walk? A great chance to listen to some tunes (and sing along whilst walking down the street. I don't usually get funny looks...)

Things I have particularly enjoyed whilst listening to my i-pod this week:

  1. Discovering the utter brilliance of the tambourine part in Pulp's 'A Little Soul'
  2. Putting my i-pod on shuffle when I've gone for a walk and forcing myself not to skip tracks. Had I skipped tracks I wouldn't have found out that Bjork's 'Pagan Poetry' is a brilliant song for walking to. Who knew! It certainly made the walk a bit more magical!
  3. That there is no better song for hanging out the laundry than Arcade Fire's 'Wake Up' (and it has to be plugged into the stereo, because it needs to be LOUD, and I would like my eardrums to continue to work at their best...)
  4. That Radio Sport now has an FM frequency and I can listen to the League in bed. Just a pity the Warriors didn't win!
Well, there it is. The 'ode to my i-pod'! In fact, I have some laundry to hang out so I might just go and plug it in now!

Do you have a particular 'thing' you just couldn't live without? 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Minor declutter and holiday fun!

It has been school holidays over here for the last two weeks and, although I initially planned for decluttering madness, it didn't quite pan out like that! So what have I been up to?

Let's start with business: I did some decluttering in our sleep-out at the back of the garage. We have a storage cupboard which is often where things that we don't know what to do with, or that we can't quite get rid of, go to hide. It is much tidier now and quite a few things got put in the recycling bin. I was only out there for about 15 minutes, but in that time I got such a lift and felt motivated to tackle a few other small projects.

One of the other small projects I did was to set up a home-management/planning space at the end of my kitchen bench.

 I used to have one, but decided in a fit of decluttering at the beginning of the year that it looked messy and it had to go.  The area was, in fact very messy, but that had more to do with my schedule spiraling out of control and me dumping school notices, receipts and lists on top of it, than the fact that the planning station itself was messy. Now that my schedule is slower and I have these l-o-n-g days to fill (youngest started school this morning) I thought I needed something to help me structure my days again and to help me plan in advance. 

I love using Simple Mom's daily docket for planning. It is so straightforward and  means you can combine a to-do list and a schedule on the same document. I also use a version I personalised of her cleaning checklist. I don't have so much success with this, but that is because of my lack of discipline when it comes to cleaning, not because of the list!

In the folder I keep the recipes I'm going to use during the week, my grocery list, blank versions of my grocery list and menu plan, take-out menus etc. I love having them all in one accessible place. 

I also have completely re-organised my kitchen, but that is for another post. What I will say though is that we are LOVING the new arrangement! 

Now for the fun! (though, to be honest,  I was already having plenty of fun with the decluttering...)

Despite Homer Simpson's enduring statement that "Good things don't end with 'eum'", my son actually asked to go to the museum! 

They have a human sized penguin that he was desperate to see again. And a fantastic 'house' you can go into in the volcano section that shows you what would happen if there was a volcanic eruption in Auckland, with fake news reports and simulated earthquakes! I enjoyed all this (obviously!), but my favourite part?

The view from the front steps. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day!

That is North Head in the foreground and Rangitoto Island in the background. Two of Aucklands 49 dormant volcanoes.

We also went to the Winter Gardens,

And the Fernery (which I think is my favourite place of all. I LOVE the damp, mossy smell!)

which are all in the Auckland Domain (of which the Museum is part of too).

How has your decluttering been going this week? 
Have you been anywhere exciting/interesting?