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Photo by Oskar Henriksson

I’ve been in a mud bath of apathy. It’s not a lack of motivation. I’m motivated to do a lot of things. The problem is, I can’t seem to get going on anything. I have lots of unfinished tasks. To get moving, here are several techniques that I use with varying degrees of success.

Make a List and Work It


When I can’t decide what to work on, I often dump all of my ideas onto a list. Sometimes I prioritize, sometimes I don’t. Writing things on a list makes them demand attention. Plus, you have the added bonus of being able to cross items off when you finish them. That in itself is a reward!

Move Yourself


Sometimes getting moving helps a person to get moving. For instance, before tackling my list, I would like to try to begin pushups training. Hopefully, this will stimulate my body to produce adrenaline, which will help me move forward. At least I’ll be more awake.

Be Accountable


Telling someone else that you are going to complete a project can help. This works better if they ask you about your progress on the project. When they ask, be honest about how things are going on the project. If you hit a stumbling block, say so. Perhaps they can help you over it.

Create Mini Goals


Instead of making it a goal to clean the bathroom, break it up into smaller tasks: clear the counter, clean the mirror, wipe the counter, sweep the floor, swish the toilet and scrub the tub. Give yourself credit for doing any of these steps. The result will please you.

What do you do to get out of the mud? Put on your boots and get moving!

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Photo by Stephanie Hofschlaeger


It all starts out so innocently. A couple fall in love and decide to get married. Soon enough, they decide to have children. At first, the children are precious, delicate beings, content to nurse and sleep and laugh and cry. Even when they are crying, though, they are precious. At some point, say around the time they start to walk and talk, they change. They can manipulate their environment.


New parents often fall into the trap of buying all the latest toys for their precious creations. It’s one way of showing love. The grandparents, especially if they live out of town, often show their love this way, too. If you have more than one child, there are often multiples of favorite toys. For us, that meant three Bob the Builder dolls; three special, light up firetrucks; three identical sets of Legos; and three copies of Thomas the Tank Engine: The Complete Collection. The result is mountains and mountains of toys and books.

The problem is, clutter makes some kids edgy. Others may feel overwhelmed and not be able to clean up because they don’t know where to start. I always tell my children that if their rooms are too cluttered, then the firemen can’t get to them if the house catches on fire. Dramatic? Perhaps. But why not make it easier for them by setting a few simple rules.

Rule #1 When One Comes In, Two Go Out

This is one of the simplest methods I have found to declutter. When the grandparents send a new toy, encourage children to choose two to donate to those who are less fortunate. Forget about selling them on Ebay, Craigslist or at a children’s consignment store. Just let them go. It takes lots of time you probably don’t have to document, photograph, package, list and mail those toys. Send them to a local charity. Of course, don’t donate anything that is in poor condition. Only donate the quality you would wish to receive.

Rule #2 Have a Place for Everything

Seems simple enough, but how many things do the kids own that simply don’t have any place to go. There is only so much space in a house. At some point, there are no more bins, boxes, shelves or corners. Plus, the adults need and deserve their space, too. If there is no where to put a new toy, then get rid of an old one (Rule #1). Oh, and buying new containers just creates more clutter. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Rule #3 Throw Out Broken Toys or Ones That Are Missing Pieces

Many kids, mine included will figure out some reason why they should be allowed to keep a broken toy. My favorite is “He can just be a headless robot, like the Super Battle Droids on Star Wars!” Let’s get real, here. Broken toys are not worth the space they take up. You will most likely never send off for an extra game piece. (OK, maybe if it is a really important game that the entire family plays over and over and over again.) Out with broken toys or toys with missing pieces. Same with books. Unless it’s worth the time, effort and expense to repair or replace, toss it!

Rule #4 Mom and Dad Have Final Say

This is something crucial that parents often forget. You are the parent. You make the decisions. Children are not developmentally capable of parenting themselves. So hold firm. Stand your ground. Control the toy clutter. Your kids will be happier, and so will you.

How do you control the toy avalanche?

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I’ve been following the advice of David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, for some time. I wouldn’t consider myself a GTD Blackbelt by any means, though. His system of increasing productivity is thorough at best. At its worst, it can be considered overkill. To follow his system by the book takes loads of time and mountains of effort. And that is what I lack.

Controlling the Flood

I aspire to be one of the uber-organized, with a place for everything and everything in its place, but the reality is that I am constantly struggling to keep the clutter and outright mess under control. I am the perfect candidate, for benefiting from Getting Things Done . I need to control a multitude of projects: writing lesson checklists, shopping for our school texts, planning menus, managing the ever-growing list of home maintenance chores, completing housework, appointment setting, budgeting, writing, chauffeuring. This is not a complete list by any means. My head can not contain it all. Getting Things Done is the perfect tool for a wife and mother of 3. It is clean, it is neat, it is organized.

If It Doesn’t Work, Let It Go

Now don’t get me wrong. I love this system. I just need to tweak it for my own use. If motherhood has taught me anything, it is that it is OK to change things to make them work for you. I spent precious time and energy setting up my tickler files. Then, they just sat there. Nothing was ever added. They were never checked. Once I added an invitation to them only to almost miss the engagement because I had lost the invitation – IN MY TICKLER FILE.

Bye Bye Tickler, Hello Calendar

So, I am letting go of the part of the system that does not work for me. I refuse to feel guilty or bad in any way put myself down for not following through. What I have done is to free myself from worrying about something. I can spend my time and energy in better ways. I still need a way to have a tickler file, though, because I just can’t keep everything in my head. Enter the online calendar. While researching ways to implement the GTD system, I ran across this video:

I have now begun use my Yahoo Calendar more and more to keep up with the kids appointments, husband’s gigs, school commitments, church meetings and other items. Life is much smoother now. Thanks to Michael at The Black Belt Project.

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