Day 11 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Set a Timer

Before I even start, let me just say that I love this one! It’s not like it’s a new idea, but it’s definitely one I should be using daily. It’s easy to get distracted or perform tasks less efficiently than you could, or just work on things (say, cleaning the bedroom. Or weeding the garden.) for a longer period of time than you need to.

This tip comes from the blog Living Well Spending Less, in a great post entitled 10 Tips for Getting More Done Every Single Day. Ruth lays out some great tips here, especially (in my opinion) for stay-at-home or work-at-home moms. So check it out!

By User:S Sepp (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Staying true to my strategy thus far, I chose one tip from the post, and it was “Set the timer.” Ruth says:

“Setting the timer can be one of the best ways to motivate yourself.  For instance, if you give yourself only 30 minutes to tidy your house, you will most likely get more cleaned in less time than if you weren’t racing against the clock.

Limiting your time on seemingly endless tasks like email and Facebook helps a lot too.  If you only have 15 minutes to sit at the computer, then you have no choice to prioritize.  Likewise, setting the timer helps accomplish tasks you might normally procrastinate, such paying the bills.  Telling yourself you only have to do it for 45 minutes is powerful motivation to get it done.”

So basically I love this strategy and I hereby endeavour to use this simple tip to help me with everything – like she says, even time-wasters like Facebook. Today I used it for work. I have estimated times for each task in my To Do list, and I used those times to set limits for myself today as I worked from home. I checked clients’ social media accounts more quickly, I gave myself half an hour to write something personal, I was super-efficient checking my email and as for the tasks where my time estimate was way off? I either gave myself a more realistic limit based on how long it had taken so far, or moved on to something else and changed the estimate in my To Do list for when I have to do that task again in the future.

And of course I LOVE this for cleaning and chores! I can clean anything for 5-10 minutes!

Tomorrow I’ll prep my smoothies for the next week. I’m a bit skeptical and there are dry goods, liquid, frozen fruit and fresh veggies that need to go in there so it’s four different things to prep, but we’ll see!

Check out the Pinterest board for this series.

Image credit: S Sepp (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 (


28 Days to Simplify My Life… a la Pinterest

I’ve spent the past couple of years in a series of major transitions, something that I have to remind myself of fairly regularly. I beat myself up a lot, or feel down about some of the things I haven’t been doing lately. I haven’t gardened since 2012; I haven’t felt my love of canning since 2012; I’ve stopped running now because my knees have started crunching (I know what I need to do to remedy the situation and start a moderate running schedule again, but I haven’t done it yet); and I’ve barely been writing at all. Meanwhile, Neko and I have moved in with Andi and her kids (Justan mostly has as well, but he insists on keeping the other small house because it’s clean and quiet, unlike a house with a bunch of kids in it); I’ve switched jobs; I’ve taken on a parenting role to a few more kids; and we’ve embarked on this new relationship which doesn’t exactly have a roadmap (I’ve looked in the Relationship section at Chapters for the Triad book, with no luck… which means I’ll just have to write it).

Of course, life is a series of transitions. I don’t mean to make excuses. But I also think that I need to remember what I am doing and not focus too much on the things I’m not currently doing. Just because I barely canned a thing this year doesn’t mean I never will again or that I’ve forgotten how. It’s been heartening to feel the urge to write again, very recently. I’ve set up an office and workspace for Andi and myself, and it’s gorgeous. I want to be in it all the time (I’m in it right now, listening to Basia Bulat, sipping red wine and sniffing the bergamot and jasmine diffusing on the desk).

IMG_3838 Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Part of my struggle now is setting up new routines and habits for myself within this new life. I find myself wasting a lot of time wondering what to do, where to sit or work, and getting distracted by laundry, dishes, and all those messes that the kids are constantly making. I make endless lists to organize myself – To Do lists, grocery lists, schedules, meal plans, workout regimes, learning plans for homeschooling… Some of them are helpful and they stick. Others get relegated to the List Pile. I look at those again later and think, “Boy, that was a good idea!”

And every day I kick myself for not working out, not writing, not focusing well enough on homeschooling Neko. Every day I pick out the ways that things could have run more efficiently. I could have premade the components of that meal, or realized there wouldn’t be enough time to cook it in the evening before the kids (and we adults) became rangy. I could have spent less time doing laundry and more time working for money. Items get shuffled to the next day or later on the To Do list. I revisit all the other plans and adapt them.

Lately, one of my tasks at one of my jobs (in wholesale sales for a local skincare company) has been developing and managing social media profiles. Most recently, I set up and propagated our Pinterest page. I spent hours and hours slogging through the Pinterest pages of our clients and repinning. And then saving some pieces just for my personal page. After a while, I started to notice all the pins about productivity, efficiency, time management, life hacks and money- and time-saving techniques. I wondered, “Do any of these actually work? Do they make a measurable difference? Does anyone try these, or do they pin them, feel better about their life, and go have a beer?”

29 Morning Shortcuts That Will Save You Time - Pin

29 Morning Shortcuts That Will Save You Time – Pin

Well, lord knows I could use some more time, be a little more efficient, use more time for things I love (right now I’d love to add 15 minutes of yoga and 5 minutes of meditation to each day). I’d love to spend as little time as possible tidying, washing dishes and doing laundry and spend more time creating freely, walking in the woods and, well, taking baths, really.

So here is what I propose. I am going to spend the next 28 days testing some of the techniques I’ve pinned on Pinterest. Each day, I will try something new. Some are recipes or kitchen hacks. Some are work habits. Some are cleaning tips. When I try a new daily habit, I will do it for the remainder of the 28 days. Each day, I’ll report back on the results.

I need to disclose a few things, first. For one thing, I am already a pretty organized person. I’m a Virgo (there I go again with my crazy astrology talk!). I make lists, I make schedules, I make meal plans and fitness dates and then I get claustrophobic and overwhelmed and my Libra side rebels by hiding from it all and doing nothing scheduled or planned for weeks at a time. But the lists and plans are always there, easy to find, ready to pick up again (I’ve built in parameters for this rebellion, you see).

I use a GSD (oops, I mean GTD… Getting Things Done. Please disregard my own personal version…) system on Remember the Milk. I obsessively log everything there, from my grocery list to my car registration to homeschooling events to work tasks. I check it constantly. Until I don’t check it for six months. But the beauty of the system is that it takes less than an hour to bring it up to speed after that long gap.

My To Do list on Remember the Milk - organized using a GTD system. AKA my lifeline.

My To Do list on Remember the Milk – organized using a GTD system. AKA my lifeline.

I make meal plans. I’m not strict about them, but I do use them to build my grocery lists.

I do practice several habits which I ran across again and again as I went through the pins on time and space management, including purging my closet often, meal planning, making lists, prioritizing my lists, and quick, efficient tidies. Because of all this, there will be several fundamental tips that I will not be testing. It dawned on me as I curated the tips that I’m starting from a pretty good base here.

I have, however, picked out 28 tips to try. I can’t wait to see which ones stick! If I can find time for yoga, walking or running, and writing by the end of the month, I will be so happy.

Watch tomorrow for the first post: Before you get up each morning, set an intent for the day. Pin here, Blog post here.

And please feel free to follow the dedicated board for this post! I will add the source pins as I add posts!