simplify 101
Creative Organizing Blog

November 30, 2012

Hello Friday…

Are you back again already? Indeed you are…as hard to believe as it is. Around here it’s been a busy week. We are working like crazy on some exciting projects, but those are leaving little time for much else, like blogging, for example. I am soooo excited to share what we’ve been working on…just as soon as it is ready. And I’m soooo excited to get back to some regular blogging, just as soon as some of these other things are off my plate. Thanks for hanging in there with me during this blogging lull.


Are you up for some weekend to-do list sharing? Here’s my list:



  • Boot camp. I haven’t run since I hit the 100 mile mark. Part of this was due to the busy weeknight schedule we had this week…but the other part is that I want to start going to boot camp again. I've yet to figure out the right mix of the two, but tomorrow I will start figuring it out.
  • Basketball game.
  • Set December fitness goal. This will be some combination of running and boot camp.



  • Laundry.
  • Plan meals for the week.
  • Holiday preparation. Maybe decorate? We’ll see. If I have an eager helper (or two) I may do this…and if not, it can wait.
  • Make progress on a simplify 101 project. Four hours of progress minimum.
  • Get a birthday gift for my sister.
  • Return socks. (The ones that came home from the store with the security thingies still attached, so I had to go to another store to buy socks without security thingies attached so these important socks could be given to Collin in time for his birthday. It will be interesting to see if the alarm sounds on my way into the store…even though it didn’t on my way out!)


Alright…that sounds like enough fun for one girl for one weekend! Wish me luck.


Have a great weekend!


November 23, 2012

Finish It Friday

Hello friends! I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving Day (for those of you who celebrate it.) Are you ready to get some stuff done this weekend? Here’s my weekend to-do list (or at least the parts I’ve figured out so far.)



  • Run. I need to run at least four miles before Monday.
  • Knit.



  • Black Friday shopping online. I’m not a big fan of crowds, in fact, I try to avoid them at all costs (or potential savings.) So getting deals while sitting on the couch all alone...really appeals to me. :)
  • Holiday planning. Now that Thanksgiving is under our belt, it's time to turn my attention to the next two "holidays" — Kailea's birthday and Christmas. 
  • Work on a simplify 101 project. The goal is to make four hours of progress.


I don’t have much planned for the weekend, so I'll fill in the blanks from here. What’s on your to-do list this weekend? Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!


P.S. We're having our annual holiday sale! Now through Tuesday, November 27, 2012 save 20% on everything in our store including January online workshops and instant download / self-paced workshops! Learn more here >>

November 16, 2012

Tips to Organize Your Weekend To-Do List

Hello friends, it's time for the weekly tradition called "Finish It Friday." That's right, it's time to organize your weekend to-do list. This week...I'm including a few tips, for new readers, and as a reminder for those of you who have been joining me in Finish It Friday for a while now. Hope you enjoy!


Tip #1: Make it fun.  For optimal results, include stuff you need to get done, and things you'll do for fun on your weekend to-do list. The weekend is a terrific opportunity to make progress on projects, but it's also designed for rest and you're ready to dive back into your weekday life when it rolls around again. sure that the fun stuff is restorative stuff...stuff that makes you feel like you actually had a weekend.


Tip #2: Make it doable. Pull out your calendar when you plan your to-do list. This will help you get a feel for how much you realistically can get done. I usually estimate (in my mind) how much time things will take, so I can get a feel for how much I can put on my to-do list. Sometimes priorities change and you can't get it all done, and that's okay (and nothing to beat yourself up about!) The main idea is that you get more done (and have more fun) when you plan your to-do list ahead of time.


Tip #3: Stay motivated. You'll have more fun and get more done...when you participate in Finish It Friday. I'm amazed at how much this still motivates me to get things done! I make it a point (when possible) to include at least one thing on my list that I really need to do...but might be able to talk myself out of if I didn't add it to my list. If you want to put a little extra fire and motivation on your to-do list this weekend, join us for Finish It Friday.  


Alright...let's share our lists! Here's mine:


  • Run (3-1/2 miles) and roughly map out the rest of the month. I have just over 20 miles to go for the month. 
  • Knit.
  • Read.



  • Holiday planning + make shopping / gift lists.
  • Laundry.
  • Work on a simplify 101 project. For at least four hours on Saturday and/or Sunday.
  • Menu plan + grocery shop. Need to do this early and beat the Thanksgiving rush! 


Alright...that's my list. What's on your to-do list this weekend?


Have a great weekend!


November 09, 2012

Organizing Your Weekend To-Do List

It’s that time of the week my friends—time to organize your weekend to-do list. Around here we call it Finish It Friday. If you’re new to the blog, the general idea is this. Each Friday you spend a few minutes planning the weekend ahead by focusing on two main areas—fun stuff and get-it-done stuff. If you haven’t participated in Finish It Friday before, you are officially invited to do so today. You’ll be very surprised at the extra motivation you have to get some things done and enjoy the fun stuff, too. So what do you say—are you in?


I am and here is my list:


  • Run. I need to run 6-1/2 more miles this weekend to hit my goal of ten for the week. Yikes!
  • Girls Night In. Friday night.
  • Wine Night. Saturday night.
  • Knit. I started a new scarf last night. I just love knitting this time of year!
  • Take photos for 30 Days of Gratitude.



  • Baby Shower.
  • Pick up bagels for baby shower.
  • Wrap a birthday gift.
  • Plan weekly meals and shop.
  • Laundry. (It’s in good shape at the moment, which is always good news.)
  • Make progress on 28 day challenge.


Alright…I think that’s it (and plenty of it!). I have lots of simplify 101 stuff to wrap up before the weekend officially begins, too, so I better get busy! I hope you have a great weekend…and I hope you’ll join me for this week’s Finish It Friday. If you want in on the fun, simply share your to-do list in the comments, and then, check back in on Monday to let us know how your weekend went. Have a great one!  


November 08, 2012

Thankful Thursday: 30 Days of Gratitude Days 1 through 8

Welcome to our first Thankful Thursday. As we mentioned last week, Jennifer and I decided to join in Positively Present’s 30 Days of Gratitude Photo Challenge, and do a weekly “Thankful Thursday” blog post to share our photos of the objects of our gratitude. The challenge suggests what to take photos of, which has been a fun gratitude twist for me. I am in the habit of sharing my daily gratitude (via email and this time of year, also in my Get Organized for the Holidays online workshop). But this challenge has caused me to think more deeply about very specific things and recognize how these things benefit my life. It has been quite fun…and we’re only 8 days into it! Let's get to the thankfulness...


Day 1: Words

30 days of gratitude - day 1 words


A big part of what I do for a living is writing, so it goes without saying that I’m extremely grateful for words. And I’m even more grateful for the people who read my words.


Day 2: Technology

30 days of gratitude - day 2 technology

You may know this about me, but I’m really not the most techie person around. I am grateful, however, that technology helps connect me with people I love via Facebook, texting, and phone calls. But my newest object of technology gratitude is my running app. This app helped me track my October running goal, and it really helped solidify my love of running. Who knew technology could be good for the mind and body?


Day 3: Nature

30 days of gratitude - day 3 nature

I’m not exactly what you would consider a nature girl either (my sister claimed that gene in our family), but I am grateful for the gifts of nature, especially those found through the changing seasons. This fall I’ve been more up close and personal with nature because I have spent so much time running outside. I’m grateful that running has allowed me to appreciate nature such as changing leaves, deer crossing on the road just ahead of me, and clear skies that suddenly changed to ominous stormy skies. (And I’m really grateful I went for a short run that night, and got home before the skies opened up!)


Day 4: Clothing

30 days of gratitude - day 4 clothing

I’m grateful for clothing that keeps me warm during these cool fall days. And I’m especially grateful for this cozy sweatshirt and all the trouble my sister went through getting it for me.


Day 5: Knowledge

30 days of gratitude - day 5 knowledge

I’m grateful for books and for people who share their knowledge through books. I'm grateful for the author of these books, Scott Stratten, who has the amazing and rare ability to share knowledge and humor all in one package. Finally, I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my knowledge with others via simplify 101—a big, heartfelt thanks for that one.


Day 6: Memories

30 days of gratitude - day 6 memories

I have never been more grateful for memories than I am now. It is memories that get me through those empty-as-a-drum days when I miss my sweet daddy oh so much.


Day 7: Innovation

30 days of gratitude - day 7 innovation-1


I am grateful for innovation and the ways it makes my life easier. It boggles my brain, really, the innovations that have happened just in my lifetime! I’ve gone from a time when computer programming was done via punch cards to a time when I can connect with people all over the world via an iPad (and pin stuff using the same handy device!) Innovation—what’s not to love?


Day 8: Sleep

30 days of gratitude - day 8 sleep

I am grateful for sleep and the way it restores my body, mind and soul. I’m also grateful for the incredilbe sweetness of a sleeping child. 


I'm also really grateful for everyone who is joining us in this challenge! We've been pinning images to our 30 Day Gratitude Challenge pinboard, and it has been so fun to see what you are grateful for! Thanks for joining the fun. If you haven't started yet, or you've fallen behind, no worries! Just jump in where you are. If you're wondering how you can join in the fun, the best way is to upload your images to instagram using the hashtags #simplify101 and #gratitude30. Let us know if you have any questions or comments.



November 02, 2012

What’s on your to-do list this weekend?

Before I get to the weekend to-do list stuff, I want to send a shout-out to my readers on the east coast. I had been hearing reports of power outages via Facebook...but then I saw photos of how sever the destruction is on the news. I'm floored. My heart is heavy for everyone who has been effected by this storm. I'd love to hear how you're doing. 


As for the weekend to-do list stuff, it seems like Friday arrived way too fast this week. I know this is due to Halloween and out of town visitors happening right smack dab in the middle of the week. Regardless, what this means is that there’s lots to do this weekend to catch up from the midweek break! Totally worth it...but the laundry pile runneth over, for example. Here’s what’s on my to-do list this weekend:



  • Run. I met my 43 mile goal for the month of October. My total mileage was 53.77, which I’m really happy about! Never would have dreamed I would run that far when I started the challenge on October 2nd. I set a new goal of 46.23 miles for the month of November. When I hit that goal I will have run 100 miles in two months! So…I better get busy running this weekend.
  • Take photos for 30 days of gratitude. I've also decided I need some words to go along with the will be doing a bit of writing this weekend, too. 


  • In-home organizing appointment. I have a weekend appointment with a terrific client. (Very much looking forward to this.)
  • Laundry.  There’s a big pile up in the laundry room as I type! Must address this by Sunday.
  • Plan meals + grocery shop.
  • Make progress on 28 day challenge. I’m going out of order…we’ll see what I’m inspired to do. If you’re participating, how are you doing with the challenge?
  • Do some paperwork. 


I’m going to keep my list short this weekend, since the better part of one day is already accounted for. What’s on your to-do list this weekend?


Have a great weekend!


November 01, 2012

We're taking the 30-day gratitude challenge. Who is with us?

Focusing on gratitude is something I mention a lot around here, particularly in my Get Organized for the Holidays workshop. In the weeks leading up to the holidays, I make an extra effort to keep my mind focused on gratitude. I have learned that this foundation carries me through the hectic holiday season. It's easy to feel stressed out and overwhelmed this time of year, but it is so much more rewarding to feel grateful and seek out the good that is already present in my life.


Jennifer stumbled upon this 30-day Gratitude Photo Challenge and we both love, love, love it! It’s another great way to commit to recognizing and recording what we're grateful we both decided to join the challenge. Check out the link for all the details, and see if this is something that you’d like to participate in, too. If so, we thought it would be fun to do this together!


If you’d like to share your gratitude photos with us on Pinterest, include the hashtags #simplify101 and #gratitude30 so we can see your photos and what you're grateful for each day. We'll set up a Gratitude Pinboard and repin the photos you share on Pinterest. Jennifer and I also plan to share highlights from our daily gratitude photos on Thursdays, right here on the blog, throughout November. 


Simplify101 gratitude30 iphone copy
Jennifer saved the 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge image to her phone and saved it as her background and wallpaper. This is her way of keeping the challenge top-of-mind, and since she will be using her phone to capture her images, she's got the list exactly where she needs it. Love this!


So what do you say, are you in? Let us know in the comments...and the let the gratitude, photo taking, and pinning begin! I can't wait to see what fills your heart with gratitude. 

Aby's Signature in Blue

P.S. You can find us on Pinterest here and here

October 26, 2012

Are you ready to get organized for the weekend?

It’s time, my friends, to get ourselves organized for the weekend. Here are my weekend fun and done lists.


  • Boot camp.
  • Run. (Maybe.) I have 2 miles to hit my 43 mile goal for the month – woohoo! I have found that running and boot camp aren’t a terrific mix. So…I’m not sure if I’ll be up for a run by Sunday. If not, Monday will be the day I reach my goal. Yay!
  • Pumpkin farm. (Maybe.) We’ll have to see how the rest of the weekend to-do list unfolds, and see how everyone feels about it. We’re very wishy-washy about the pumpkin farm this year.


  • Get ready for Halloween. Okay…so this weekend doesn’t have a lot of fun stuff planned. Instead, I’ll be getting ready for the fun that will happen next week on Halloween when my sister and step mom visit. There are lots of little to-dos in here including decorating and cleaning…just getting the house guest-ready.
  • Weekly meal planning + shopping. This includes getting more Halloween candy and stuff for a little trick-or-treating get together.
  • Make progress on 28 day challenge. By the way, if you’re playing along at home and started on the first day, today is Day 4 and the challenge is to dust cobwebs and clean cold air returns. That is on my list for the weekend, as is cleaning the oven and cook top. I have already decluttered magazines (which is tomorrow’s challenge) and I may skip ahead and do a few later things like cleaning the baseboards.
  • Laundry.



So there's not too much to jump up and down about this weekend, but that’s okay. I’m really looking forward to our mid-week visit next week!


What’s on your to-do list this weekend? Hope you have a great one! (By the way, if you're doing the 28 day challenge, please feel free to share your progress in the Finish It Friday and Monday Check In posts. I'd love to hear how you're doing with the daily tasks! Thanks!)


October 22, 2012

How was your weekend?

Happy Monday to you! I hope you had a great weekend with lots of fun and done. :) Here's how my weekend turned out:



  • Boot camp. Check! Lots of running up very steep hills. (And this was in the fun column. Hmmm….)
  • See Jen Run. Check. And she did it! I’m so excited for her. I can’t wait to hear all about it tomorrow when she's back in the office.
  • Pumpkin Farm. Not this weekend...maybe next weekend.  



  • Laundry. Check!
  • Get some yarn. Check! And I knitted! I even finished a scarf that I’ve had in process for a really (really) long time. It feels so good to finish stuff! If that wasn’t enough, Janine gave me a knitting lesson yesterday which was super fun, too.



  • Declutter magazines. Check!
  • Make progress on my kitchen "fall" cleaning. Check! My goal is to have this done by Halloween when my sister and step mom come to visit. I’m following my 15-minutes-of-progress-at-a-time approach. The project is getting done ahead of the deadline, and I’m not feeling like it’s a huge imposition on my time. In other words, I’m fitting the project in the cracks in my schedule, which is much nicer than looking for bigger chunks of time.

My weekend is a wrap! How was yours?


October 15, 2012

Monday Check In

Good Monday morning to you! I hope you had a great weekend. Here’s the place to share how your weekend went. Here’s my update:



  • Spend Time with Kailea. We drove to the State Cross Country meet in Normal, Illinois to cheer on Kailea’s teammates. It was five hours of time in the car (some of it pretty nerve wracking due to major rain) followed by a two-hour rain delay for the meet. But, it was worth it. The team did great and it was really inspiring to see the level of commitment all the kids have for running. Very cool.
  • Run 3 Miles. Check! 3-1/2 miles actually. Fun to see the mileage adding up and my distance getting just a bit longer with all this running.
  • Knit. This was an add-on. Funny how when I don’t put it on my list, I feel like doing it.



  • Laundry. Almost a check, just one load to finish up today.
  • Plan weekly meals + grocery shop. Check!
  • Organize and edit cross country photos. Check on the organize. I will edit when I decide what to print.
  • Make progress on at least one current project. Well…we got Kailea’s Halloween costume figured out this weekend, so that was good. And I made progress on a knitting project that will be a Christmas gift this year. So…I say: Check!
  • Send some cards. Today is the day. :)


I feel pretty good about the progress this weekend given that we were gone for so much of Saturday. (And the drive up there pretty much drained me!) It was a good weekend. I’m tired this morning, but feel like I had a weekend.


Hope you have a great week! See you back here on Friday. :)


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