Creating a Family Command Center

Our lives are busy, this is why a command center can be just what you need.

We all know that! Sometimes, especially with multiple kids, we can get stuck in a pattern of rushing from one place to the next. This can lead to forgetting appointments, over scheduling, being late, etc. Making a family command center can help with this! You are making one spot that everyone can use to track their days. This can lead to their happiness, and your piece of mind.

Disclosure: Clicking some of the links I have provided, may bring you to an affiliated product or site.

Family Command Center

Where to put it:

Find the Right Spot:
A zone that everyone passes through is the most effective: a corner in the kitchen, a nook in a hallway, or a centrally located home office. Shelves are key; if you don’t have built-ins, just use a bookcase.

Make Some Rules:
To keep this area from becoming an unloading zone, determine what belongs here and what doesn’t. What does belong? Items like bills, sports schedules, medical records, school papers with short-term relevance. These are important and critical to running your house. What doesn’t belong? Things like backpacks, 3-D art projects, magazines, newspapers. These are all extras and will just clutter your command center.

Take Care of the junk:
If there’s no plan for all of your junk and miscellaneous items, this will not work. Find other homes for all the bulky, random items that threaten your bliss.

Organizing is not for the weak:

Leave the hunk of metal in the past:
Most home filing cabinets are stuffed with documents that people no longer need. Have trouble purging? Get something like this Scanner Bin to organize receipts and anything you may not want to toss.

Color-Code Your Life:
In a portable acrylic file box, set up folders for different categories or family members. Label them in the way that makes the most sense to you: perhaps bills, work, play, keepsakes. For kids, school, sports, social. This Desktop Organizer is your go-to for floating papers—and the first place to look for that misplaced permission slip.

Befriend the Shredder:
A slim, shelf-size model Paper and Credit Card Shredder makes it easy to part with sensitive items you don’t need anymore.

Think Outside the Box:
We all love the look of neat, uniform boxes, but the truth is, they work best for long-term storage. 3″ Binders are a better choice for those ever evolving collections of paper, like decorating ideas or recipes, and they can hide in a magazine holder.

Analyze and Customize:
What’s cluttering up your paper life? Maybe your preschooler produces 10 drawings a day. Perhaps your teen gets a torrent of college mail. Stash excess papers in a deep, open bin on an easily accessible shelf.

Stash High and Low:
Stow critical items, like passports, birth certificates, and deeds, in a box marked personal documents and keep it on a high shelf. (You might want to use a metal firebox.) File office-supply staples, like computer paper, folders, and envelopes in something like a Letter Tray .

It’s all about aesthetic:

Decorate to Motivate:
What works for you? Flowers, a thoughtful quotation, pictures of faraway destinations? Accessorizing your command center is essential. If it’s not pleasant, you’ll avoid it, and chaos will ensue.

Think Grid, Not Collage:
The “bulletin board” part of your brain might be programmed to layer and fill, but a neat display will keep your mind calm. Hang items straight, with space around them. Edit regularly. Use an actual Bulletin Board Pretty invitations are worth saving, but after the party is over, transfer them to your keepsakes folder. Toss expired schedules or school notices ASAP.

Take Charge of Charging:
New rule: Instead of putting devices to bed in bedrooms (where they can disturb slumber), the kids need to dock their electronics in a communal caddy. A well-designed model can hold a laptop and three phones and keep their charging cords under wraps. With such a small footprint (10 by 5 inches), it leaves room for a second caddy if needed.

Make Cords Disappear:
Not to make it all about looks, but an uncluttered command center is an inviting, high-functioning space. Hide lengths of cord (from the lamp or a laptop, say) on the floor in a Mini Cable Management that plugs into the wall.

Ride the Wireless Wave:
Another way to tame cords is to remove them completely. A wireless keyboard, mouse, and printer (which lets you stream info even from your iPhone) is like a Xanax for your work zone.

Avoiding disaster:

Improve In-Box Etiquette:
Allow only the most current items to take up precious space in your in-box. And ensure that anything that hits that spot has a destiny—folder, box, binder, shredder—or back to the kids to return to school.

Set Up Desk Dates:
The hard truth is that it takes time to deal with paperwork. Want an in-box that’s delightfully uncluttered? Set aside an hour a week to sort and file, either in four 15-minute chunks or one 60-minute sit down. Add it to your calendar.

After all of that, you should have a great family command center! Got yours all set up? Send me a picture of it so I can put it in our newsletter or on a pinterest board!

~Bre

20 Apps to Get You Organized and Productive In 2017!

20 Apps that every organized person should have in 2017!

I don’t know about you guys, but I am personally on my phone and computer for what feels like all day. The amount of time I spend scheduling, researching, price checking, and more is all time I am spending in front of a screen. So, what if we could cut that screen time in say, half? I think it’s worth it, right! Here are 20 great apps I have found that not only save you time, but also make you more organized and productive!

Organization:

Key Ring-
Stores all of your reward cards, and makes versions of them on your phone that can be scanned. This eliminate a lot of the bulk in your wallet or purse, especially if the majority of your stuff is reward cards!

Grocery iQ-
This is a great app for grocery shopping made easy. It tracks the grocery list, updates the list every time a better coupon comes along, and will give you the bill estimate before you even leave your house! This is also great if you have some sort of personal assistant or employee that does your grocery shopping because you can see how much to give them for the trip.

Evernote-
An interface where you organize your notes and paperwork. It’s great for basics, but you can also upgrade for $5 a month if you want more storage and offline access.

Remember the Milk-
Organize your tasks and sets alerts for them. You have options to organize by day, priority, type, and more!

BigOven-
Access to over 200,000 recipes, meal plan prep, schedules, and more! You can schedule up to a month of meals.

Savings:

SavingStar-
Gives you coupons for the stores you frequent. Then when you check out, you’ll pay full price still, but the coupon value goes into a savings account instead. It adds up quick, trust me! I started this app a few weeks ago and I already have $27 saved!

Large brand chain stores-
Stores like Gilt, Macy’s and Target all have great apps. They usually put the best deals and coupons in their app, similar to Safeway4U.

Blogging:

WordPress-
Gives you mobile access to your WordPress site. I use this frequently when I am wanting to check site stats, or perform many essential tasks such as creating, editing and publishing blog posts, moderating comments, checking on analytics data as well as publishing photos or videos taken with the camera on your mobile phone.

Hubpages-
Collects internet information on specific topics and compiles the information for you. This is great for when your researching a topic for a blog post.

Tumblr-
This app, made for Tumblr bloggers, has useful features for posting content, scheduling posts, viewing and replying to messages, and you can even manage multiple Tumblr blogs with the app. It will also show you Tumblr blogs of Contacts in your address book, so you can start following them.

Fitness:

Charity Miles
Tracks your walks or runs, and donates money to charity based on distance!

Cyclemeter-
Tracks your bike rides or other methods like walking and running.

Fit Radio-
Music streaming app that creates upbeat mixes based on musical preferences.

Johnson + Johnson Workout-
Makes a 7 minute workout based on information you provide. Great for when you find yourself in between tasks!

Lose It!-
Weight loss buddy that helps with counting calories, logging exercises, and more!

Parenting:

PBS Play + Learn-
Teaches kids new skills and vocabulary! Great for entertaining the little ones in an educational way!

Koi Pond (.99c)
Basic app for entertaining the younger ones.

Disney Fairies Fly ($4.99)
Flying game for all ages.

RedRover-
Helps find kid-friendly activities in the area. Great for when your on vacation!

SurfBalance ($4.99)-
Keeps your browsers kid-friendly by blocking any inappropriate material.

 

Let me know what you think of the apps!

 

~Bre

How to Pay Off Debt Quickly with a Low Income!

If there is ever a single word that can make almost anyone cringe, it’s debt.

Even the most careful and frugal can end up in debt. Paying it off can be overwhelming and feel tedious, especially when you have a low income to start with. There are a few things you can do to chip away at that debt when you have a low income.

How to Pay Off Debt Quickly

The first thing you need to know is what exactly constitutes as low income. Here are the income caps for low income as of January 2016.

Working off that debt:

Step 1. Form a budget – and stick to it!
Learning how to budget is something that often stumps a lot of people. Especially if you are someone who likes to spend money! The simple answer to how to make a budget is to look at your income and your expenses. Then any extra income needs to be accounted for. Budget that leftover for entertainment, trips, or more savings! Check out this post for more on budgeting.

Step 2. Save Money
Start forgoing some of your extras so that you can pad your savings. Do you drink Starbucks every day before work? Trade a day or two for making it at home or work. Or make all of your coffee at home/work until your debt is paid off!

Step 3. Find small ways to make some side income.
Passive or non-passive income, it’s all the same when it comes to paying off debt. Find little nooks and crannies in your time schedule to add a few extra odd jobs in for making money. Then put anything you make towards the debt! Check out craigslist, care.com, or your local job board for little side jobs!

Step 4. Last Resort- Garage Sale!
Do inventory on everything you own. Sort it all into piles for Keep, Trash, and Garage Sale. The great thing about this is you are getting rid of potentially a ton of clutter, and making some money on the side! This is a last resort, though, because it’s pretty hard to do this more than once – unless you are a hoarder. Again, put all that money towards debt.

If you do all these things, your debt should start noticeably dropping. Is debt killing your credit score? Talk to your local bank about options for helping! I recently got a secured credit card, and only use it to pay my cell phone bill. It’s helping my score a lot!!

Have a great trick that I didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!

Good luck,

~Bre

Feng Shui Your Office and Your Career

Modern lifestyles nowadays can make it hard to be organized…

As humans we are often far removed from our natural environment, and as a result, we suffer more stress and anxiety than ever before. We also construct buildings that may be aesthetically pleasing, but have in-built stress that we very easily absorb. Getting organized may be tougher now, more than ever.

Feng-Shui Your Office and Career

What exactly is feng shui?
It’s a practice based on the idea that our homes are a mirror of what’s happening inside us. The purpose of feng shui is to get your environment in alignment with who you are and where you want to go—to harmonize your energy with your home’s energy.

How do you do that?
By carefully considering what you bring in. how you arrange your rooms, and how you maintain the place. Everything has energy, even inanimate objects. Feng shui helps guide that energy and let it flow freely through your home or office.

Bringing feng shui to your desk:

Photos-
Artwork and pictures help to motivate. Bring pictures of your family and friends. If you are using artwork, studies show that abstract art has the highest rates of being emotionally motivating.

Lighting-
Avoid warehouse type lighting. Overhead lighting is the worst lighting for you. Incandescent light is considerably better and balances out florescent lighting.

Colors-
Vibrant colors like red, orange, and purple are motivating.

Plants & Environment-
Air purifying plants will help the flow of your office more than you know. An odd number of plants is better according to feng shui. Use fountains or a picture of a waterfall to promote relaxation. Studies show that 65-70 degrees is the best for motivation and work ethic.

Clear your clutter-
Your papers need to stay organized. Use supplies to keep your desk well structured. Pick supplies that make you happy, you will be looking at them every day!

Computer-
Simplify your icons on your desktop. Use a serene wallpaper, or a picture of friends/family.

Getting your job where you want it:

Set a meeting with your boss to discuss your work. Come prepared with notes of your own, and be sure to take notes on anything your supervisors discuss with you. Always be sure to dress for an office, even if that’s not where you work. Better dressed employees are more much confident and study shows they work harder.

Have any tips for a better job space? Leave a comment below!

~Bre

Reaching Your Savings Goal

Did you know that saving money is in the top 5 resolutions people make every year?

Did you also know that it’s the second least completed goal, second only to weight loss?

Money is a touchy subject for a lot of people. It causes fights in relationships. severed friendships, and a million other potential issues. That’s why every year, saving money is often at the top of our list. But, somewhere along the way, we opt out. It could be because we convinced ourselves we can’t do it, other things come up, self control goes down. Whatever the reason – this year – we can do it!

Steps to Saving Money

I have a 6 step plan that will make it much easier to start kissing those money problems goodbye. Is it fool-proof? No. Can you do it? Heck yes! The trick is to not get overwhelmed. Focus on the step right in front of you, instead of looking months down the road and worry how hard it will be.

Step #1: Be Specific!

Designate an amount, end date, what it’s for, anything to make it more tangible. Studies show that the more detailed your goal is, the easier it makes it for you brain to map out what to do.

Step #2: Make a vision board!

Visual motivation is one the best ways to motivate yourself! Humans are extremely visual creatures. We respond emotionally to what we see. This is why a vision board is the perfect way to help you! Find pictures of what you’ll spend you money on, or the way it’ll make you feel to reach your goal!

Step #3: Create a detailed plan.

Set milestones, due dates, instructions, etc. Give your mind a clear map to your goal.

Step #4: Find motivational quotes and passages.

Find a way to save anything that makes you feel motivated. A great place for this is Pinterest! You can create a motivational board like this one.

Step #5: Remind yourself that mindset is key.

Always stay positive about your goals. If you find yourself slipping into doubt or negativity, re focus on your goal. Hop on the computer or phone, and research a quick way to add $10 more dollars to your savings account. If every time you use your negativity to drive a quick addition to your fund, you will not only feel better about sticking it out, you will also most likely reach your goal faster!

Step #6: Keep good company.

Surround yourself with like minded people. Hang with your other budget friendly friends. Don’t spend too much time with the people who blow all their money, because that mindset is extremely attractive and it can lure you out of your goals.

Steps to Saving Money

Remember to take it one day at a time. Make sure you don’t get down on yourself for skipping a day or a deposit. Keep your eye on the prize!

There are a few savings challenges you can do to help with motivation as well! Check out my Savings Challenges Pinterest Board for some great ideas!

Have a great idea for savings that I didn’t mention? Submit a comment down below and let us know!

Happy Savings,
~Bre

Monthly Healthy Habits

Did you know that around 90% of New Year’s resolutions are about healthier habits/self improvement?

If you are included in this statistic – you know as well as anyone that sometimes they can be hard to stick to. But it doesn’t have to be! Getting a healthier lifestyle is just around the corner!

Healthier Lifestyle

The biggest tip I can give you for wanting to be healthier, is to not dive in all at once. Gradually improve yourself. Make yourself 1% better today than you were yesterday. Here is a 12 month outline of little steps to take each month. Then by the end of the year – it’s a newer(and healthier) you!

January:

Drink More Water. Water is the healthiest thing for you! The benefits of drinking a good amount of water daily are astronomical. Do yourself, and your body, a favor – and make this a habit first.

February:

Make Breakfast a Priority. You’ve all heard the saying “it’s the most important meal of the day.” That’s because it’s true! What you eat for breakfast (or that you eat it at all) sets the tone for the rest of your day.

March:

Get More Sleep During the Week. This is another thing that our bodies function at 100% with. Getting enough sleep a night leads to a great day. Best to get around 7 or 8 hours.

April:

Start a Food Journal (bullet journals work great for this!) This helps in a lot of ways as well. You can track what you eat and how it makes you feel. You’ll start to notice that the healthier foods make you feel, well, healthier! A journal can also help with calorie counting, if that’s a method you use.

May:

Go For A Walk 3 Times a Week. Do I really need to explain the benefits to this one? Walking is healthy! Get out there and do it. Need motivation? Download the Pokemon Go app!

June:

Eat More Fruits/ Veggies. This will help with both being healthier and losing weight!

July:

Downsize Your Plates. Same as above!

August:

Go Meatless for 1 Month. This doesn’t mean committing to being a vegetarian. Although, I would imagine some may consider that route if you go meatless for an entire month.

September:

Find a Workout Buddy. It’s easier (and more fun) to work out if you have someone to do it with. Be accountability buddies and keep each other on track!

October:

Eat Slowly. Slower eating leads to faster metabolism, less risk of choking, and you feel more full with less bites because your giving your stomach a chance to catch up.

November:

Unplug an Hour Before Bedtime. Bright lights are BAD for you in the dark. But, that’s not the most important reason why. This gives your brain a chance to connect to your surroundings and it can register “hey, it’s getting darker, bedtime!”

December:

Reflect on the Year. Make notes on the things you were proud of, things you improved, what you think needs more improvement. Etc.

Monthly Healthy Habits

What steps are you taking for a better year? Comment below with some of your ideas!

~Bre