Every year, during the month of January, I do a 30 Day Life Challenge. I posted these challenges on my blog last year. Instead of reposting them this year, here’s a link to all 30 days of challenges.
Congratulations! You did it. Today is your last 30 day life challenge. These posts will remain for another month before I delete them. That way, those of you who are behind can catch up. In a few months, the 30 Day Life Challenge will be available in e-book.
Your challenge today is to declutter and simplify your life. Here are the steps to do that.
Start at the front door of your house.
Go in a clockwise circle around the room and organize.
Keep four boxes and trashcan with you.
The first box is labeled “Put Away”. This is for stuff that you need to put away or find a place for.
The second box is labeled “Give Away” or “Sell”. These are items that have some value but that you don’t need. After you’re done decluttering, sell this stuff on e-bay or at a garage sale and make some money, or take it to the Salvation Army or AmVets.
The third box is for storage. These are items you need but not that often. Christmas decorations would fall in this category. Label each storage box with what is in that box for easy reference later.
The fourth box is for keepsakes and memorials that mean a great deal to you. This box is not for the pencil your nine year old took to school his first day of Kindergarten. These keepsakes should be important and irreplaceable. Things like your wedding certificate and your children’s first teeth might go here.
The trashcan is for everything else. You might also want to have a recycle bag for items you can take to the recycle plant later. See, you are helping the environment by decluttering.
Evaluate your stuff. Have you used it in the last year? Do you intend to use it within a month? Does it have great sentimental value? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you can keep it. Otherwise get rid of it. You will be amazed at how much stress you can get rid of by getting rid of your stuff.
Repeat in every room.
Go through the keepsakes again. Consider how you can display them, or start a scrapbook or memory box for each of your children. If you have too many keepsakes to fill one memory box for each child and to display your treasure, go through them again, and try to cut them down by half.
Find a place for all your put away items. At this point, you may have to get rid of some of them. You don’t need 53 pens and 7 pairs of scissors. The first time I went through this process, I found out I had seven 99 cent turkey basters. My husband convinced me to keep two so I had a back-up, but nobody needs seven turkey basters. Get rid of excess items.
Find a place for your storage boxes. They should be easily accessible but not take up prime space in your home. A storage closet, shelves in the garage, the attic, or the basement work well for storage boxes.
Find a place for your garage sale or e-bay stuff and label the boxes with the date. If you don’t sell them within a year, take them to the Salvation Army. You never will get to selling them if your haven’t within a year.
Repeat decluttering process at least once a year.
Enjoy the peace that comes from a decluttered house.
Organization concerns more than household management and time management. It also concerns money management. We are a nation of debt. People in debt have traded tomorrow’s prosperity to gratify today’s wants. I know what it is like to be a slave to debt. My husband and I were $100,000.00 in debt at one time. We worked hard to get out of the bondage it caused, and now that we are free, we manage our money in a way that we don’t have to worry about it.
I am not an expert at money management, so for some of these categories, I’m going to give you online links to help you. Here are the steps to money management:
Pay Tithes: If you give to God the 10% He requires, He will bless the 90%. You may not believe that tithing is for the New Testament. That’s okay. The New Testament requires more from us than the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, we are commanded not to commit adultery. In the New Testament, if we look at someone with lust, we are guilty of adultery. So feel free to double or triple the 10% if you don’t believe in tithes.
Make a budget. Every household needs a budget to operate. Here are a few links to help you with that.
Save and Invest. Saving and investing is an important part of making a budget. We invest so we have money to live on in the future. Saving helps up have an emergency fund so we don’t have to go into debt and have money for large purchases like vacations, appliance, cars, and televisions.
Get Out of Debt: If you have some debt, do what you have to do to get rid of it. Debt only multiplies over time. Here are some steps to getting out of debt:
Live on less than you have. You will never get out of debt until you do this.
Get an extra job. This might be a good temporary solution to getting out of debt.
Review your bills. There may be some deals you can take advantage of for you phone, cable, insurance, and other bills. Make some calls and check it out.
Pay off the smallest debt first. Do this by paying at least double what the debt is. After you’ve paid that debt, put that money toward the next debt. Keep doing this until your debt is gone.
Don’t sign up for debt consolidation services. Most of them make money off your debt, so they don’t want you to get out from under it. If you decide to consolidate your debt, go to a reputable bank with a low interest rate. I learned this the hard way.
Emergency Debt: Emergency debt where you have so much debt you can’t pay your bills requires more than the previous methods. Here are some steps you can take.
Call each place where you owe debt. Explain to them the situation. Most will work with you if you are honest with them. They may be willing to set up smaller payments or forgive part of your debt.
Consider downsizing your house. If you owe a lot of debt you can’t pay, downsizing might be a good option.
Negotiation: If you have access to large sums of money (equity, retirement fund, vacation home, etc.), make deals with the credit card companies to pay the debt off for a lower amount. Some will only make deals with you if you haven’t paid for a while, so you might have to stop payments. This will temporarily ruin your credit for about two to three years after you pay off the debt, but it is a good option if the only other way is bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy: Bankruptcy is a tempting do over and may be your only option, but if there is any other way to get out of debt, take the hard path. Bankruptcy will ruin your credit for longer than the seven years it shows up on the credit report. Some mortgage lenders will only deal with people who have never filed bankruptcy. There is also the idea that you gave your word to pay these debts, and when you file bankruptcy, you are breaking that word. If you decide you need to go this route, talk to a bankruptcy lawyer about your options.
Now that you have a functioning calendar, it’s time to make a to do list. Here are some things to consider for your to do lists.
Make monthly, weekly, and daily lists. First write down all the things you need to get done this month. If any of them have deadlines, write those down too. Next take items from your monthly lists and divide them evenly into your weekly lists. Look at your calendar and decide which days you are going to work on your weekly lists and schedule them for daily lists.
Urgent, Important: These items are important to you and your goals for life, and they are also urgent because of a time constraint. These are the things you will put at the top of your list.
Urgent, Not Important: These are the mundane things of life that are urgent but have no lasting value. They need to be done right away, but if you are not careful, they will consume your time. For instance, laundry has to be done or there will be no clean clothes. You have to drive to the bank to make a deposit or you can’t pay your bills.
Not Urgent, Important: These are sometimes the hardest to get done because the urgent things of life always push them out. Make sure to schedule time to do things that are important to reaching your goals but don’t have a deadline. You might want to give these things an arbitrary deadline to help you accomplish them.
Not Urgent, Not Important: These things go on the bottom of your list. If you have time, go ahead and do them, but if you don’t get to them, consider crossing them off your list.
Learn to say No! Remember that every time you say yes to somebody to do something, even if it is a good thing, you are saying no to the goals you have set for yourself and to the important items on your list. Don’t fill your to do lists with things that are important to others but not to you.
Set to do lists aside. When emergencies happen or people you love need you, set your lists aside. People are more important than lists.
Home maintenance can become an uncontrollable monster if you don’t keep it manageable. If your home has become infested with clutter and junk you don’t need, we’ll take care of that in a few days. But today, your challenge is to make a game plan for keeping your home organized and clean.
It takes about two to four hours a week to an organized home. If you want to do Spring Cleaning every week instead of once or twice a year, add two hours to that total. This assumes you have children who were taught to pick up after themselves, and that you spend 15 minutes in the morning or the evening straitening up. If you don’t have these two things going for you, it might increase the amount of time to six to eight hours. Here are the steps to home maintenance.
Weekly Chores: Write down the chores you need to do weekly to maintain your home.
Daily Chores: Write down the things you should do for 15-20 minutes a day to keep your house in order.
Yearly Chores: If you plan to do Spring cleaning throughout the year, write down the chores you need to do yearly, and divide them up into monthly chores.
Chore List for Children: Create a chore list for your children with a reward system. Here are a couple of online link to help you with that.
- Age Appropriate Chores for Children
- Chore Charts for Kids
- Creating a Chore Chart
- 118 Ways to Make a Chore Chart
When to Do What: Decide when you will do your weekly house maintenance. Would you prefer to work on it every day or do it all once a week? Schedule a set time to do these chores.
Checklist: Have a weekly checklist for your chores. You can do this on the computer, use an app, or hang a sign you create on the refrigerator. Here are a few templates and apps.
- Home Routines
- Cleaning Checklist
- Motivated Moms
- Housecleaning Checklist
- Organomics Housecleaning Checklist
- The SHE System
Priorities: Remember that the reason for a clean house is to make your life easier. If you don’t get everything done because a friend needs you or you have a family emergency, life will not end because you didn’t mop the kitchen floor. People are more important than housework.
Extra Help: If you have the money and work full time, consider getting extra help. Hire a housecleaner to come in once a week. Take your dirty clothes to the laundry mat, and have them clean and fold your laundry. Hire an older teenager to do your grocery shopping for you. Any time you free up from these chores will be time you can use to spend with God and your family and pursue your goals. You are worth it.
Today is Sunday, our day to worship and rest. So today’s challenge is to go to church and take the rest of the day off.
Now that you have your goals set for the year, you’ll want to make sure these are measurable goals. A measurable goal is something you can measure to know whether you are meeting your goal. Goals are measurable if they meet the SMART Test created by Peter Drucker. Your challenge today is to make sure each of your goals meet the SMART test.
Specific: Goals should clearly define what you want to happen. For instance, if you want to be a writer, a specific goal would be to write a novel in 2015.
Measurable: Each goal should have small measurements built into the goal. For instance, with writing the novel, the measurements might be do research, outline novel, study five books about how to write a novel, and write 5,000 words a week. Using these measurements, you’ll know if you are making progress.
Attainable: Goals need to be able to be completed even if they stretch you. For instance, if you have never written a novel, being published as a novelist in 2015 is not attainable unless you decide to self-publish. However writing your first novel is attainable.
Realistic: Realistic goals mean doable, not easy. It is doable to write a novel in a year, but it will stretch you.
Timely: Set a time frame for your goal to be completed. To do this, you should also set a deadline for each of the smaller measurable steps toward the goal.
Today’s challenge is a sort of to do list for the year. Don’t get too involved in writing down every single thing you need to do. We’ll work on that later. Today you are making a list of things you want to accomplish.
Step One: Get out your bucket list. Of the three things circled, is there anything you could do this year? Are there any steps you could take toward accomplishing any of the circled items? Write them down.
Step Two: What do you need to get done this year? Is your attic overflowing with junk? Does your kitchen need organized? Do you need to organize your desk at work? Do you need to plan your daughter’s wedding or your son’s graduation? Write them down. These are not things you want to do. These are things that need done.
Step Three: Write down the things you want to accomplish this year. For this list, don’t write down things you can’t control. Write down measurable goals. For instance, if you want to become a published author, you could have write finish and edit a novel, find agents you would like to have, and submit your manuscript to three of those agents.
That’s it for now. There will be more steps tomorrow.
You’ve completed three weeks of the 30 Day Life Challenge. The fact that you’re still here testifies to your commitment to change your life. Before we talk about the last week of challenges dealing with goal setting and organization, let’s use today to review and catch up on any challenges you’ve missed.
Week 1: Our Relationship with God
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
Relationships with friends are an important part of our life, but there are different kinds of friends. Some friends are temporary for a time in our life. Other friends are a permanent fixture.
There are other differences besides how long a friendship lasts. Some friends are the kind of friends we socialize. Others we can vent to when life is hard or share our joys with when life is good. These aren’t the kind of friends we’re discussing in this challenge.
Your challenge today is to develop accountable friendships. Accountability is being responsible to someone for your actions, or being “answerable” to someone else. We all need a friend who we give permission to hold us accountable for our actions. A Christian who is not accountable to anyone is someone who may fail when temptation comes.
Here is how not to choose an accountability friend.
Steps for choosing an accountability friend:
Pray: If you’re not sure who to ask to be your accountability friend, pray and ask God to show you.
Be Careful Who You Choose: 5 Tips for Choosing an Accountability Partner
Meet with your friend: This is probably the hardest part of the process. You’ll need to meet with the person you’ve chosen and be brutally honest about why you need accountability in your life. That means you’ll have to bring those hidden sins and temptations nobody knows about into the light. But when you do that, you’ll have taken the largest step toward your healing and freedom in Christ. I know because I had this discussion with a friend about five years ago, and even though it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it changed my life and my walk with God.
James 5:18 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Set up guidelines:
Once you have an accountability friend, you’ll want to set up guidelines for how often you meet and what is discussed. Here are some guidelines you might set.
Decide how often to meet. At first you may need to meet more often like once a week. Once this becomes a part of your life, you might text each other every week and meet once a month.
Set up online computer accountability software. This software doesn’t block questionable sites. Instead it sends reports to your friend when you look at any questionable sites. I believe that this software is important for every Christian, even those who have never been tempted this way, because the Internet is always throwing out temptations. This software is also available for your I-phone and I-pad. Here are three site that have this kind of software.
Decide what questions will be asked. This will depend on where your level of temptation is greatest.
Will the accountability be mutual? That is something that needs to be discussed upfront.
The meetings should be balanced. This shouldn’t only be a confession session. Encouragement should be a part of it.
Consequences should be discussed. If you struggle in a certain area for a long time and aren’t making progress, you should discuss ahead of time if you want to give your accountability partner permission to “tell on you”. If it ever comes to this, the accountability partner should tell only who you have discussed ahead of time, and he or she should give you a heads up first.
It should be clearly understood that if you are in a dangerous situation or breaking the law, the accountability partner has a right to report you if he or she deems it appropriate.
This will probably be one of the most difficult challenges you’ll have during this 30 days, but it will change your life and grow your relationship with God.