Saturday, 31 March 2012

Home challenge - weeks 12 and 13 - tax documents and filing

I've been sick so got behind, so have decided to do weeks 12 and 13 in one post.  They are highly related so it makes sense.  Week 12 is about creating a personal tax organiser system and receipts and week 13 is to organise files in your home. The filing I have been sorting out for a few weeks. It is a job that takes a very long time, but at the end of the day you don't have much to show for it! My current filing system leaves a little to be desired. Generally I would spend about a day going through the files, purging and reorganising. Every time I say to myself I'm NEVER going to let it get to that stage again - but what do you know, of course I do.  Here is the look of my filing cabinet a few weeks ago.

All the filing is stored in a green basked - just waiting for someone (who am I kidding - me) to file it away! I think a lot of my procrastination at filing was the set up of my filing cabinet. Sure I had files for the main areas, e.g banking, bills, car, work related, superannuation, insurance and so on. In the bottom shelf I had files from A-Z. This was confusing, as sometimes I would file something under a different letter (e.g. our holiday club would sometimes go under L - for Laguna Holiday Club, or A for Allamanda Vacation club or H for holiday club). I could never find things when I needed them, and it found it hard to file.

During this challenge I've had a huge purge - gone through all the files on top and rearranged my filing cabinet. I've separated out the big ticket files - now has a folder for each car, insurance now has a folder for each policy, superannuation has a folder for Nigel and a folder for myself, banking has a folder for each account and so on.  The bills I've decided can be in a annual folder.  I've kept all bills from 2011 and they are in one folder - then there is a new folder for 2012 (I didn't feel the need to sort them into months as per the challenge).

I've now got a separate folder for tax documents and receipts. For some reason I didn't think of doing this and always struggled at tax time. Luckily for me in Australia we don't do our taxes until after the financial year June 30 - so I've still got a little time to sort it out - but I think it will be easier this year- and definitely easier next year as I use the new folder for the whole year.

I've made a separate folder for each of us in the family to put personal things related to us - it's a bit of a miscellaneous for each individual.

I got rid of the A-Z system, and instead put things under major headings- I haven't found a piece of paper that doesn't have a grouping yet - but have decided if I find something I don't know how to file then either a) I don't really need it, or b) I will make a miscellaneous file!

I've made a folder for all receipts (day to day things - I have a separate folder for big ticket items to store with their warranties). I've labelled plastic sleeves with the dates of the receipts which go from 23-22nd of each month - as that's when my credit card statement goes from, e.g. 23rd March until 22nd April.  I've asked hubby to put every receipt into the correct sleeve so I can check against credit card statement each month.

I'm feeling happier about the setup - and hope to either file each piece of paper as it comes, or at least weekly during my bill paying time. I should never see a pile of files like the first picture again.

This is what it looks like now (and A LOT cleaner inside too).

Friday, 30 March 2012

Life challenge - week 12 - dealing with change

Ahhhh change, no I'm not good at dealing with change. I've been in my job since 2003 - and can't see that changing anytime soon.  It was HUGE for me when we sold our house and bought a new one 2 years ago. We moved about half an hour away from our old house - but boy was that a big change for me. Everything I know and am familiar with has gone - I need to find new doctors, parks, library, shops, ways to get places (my parents, work), childcare, schools and so the list goes on.

I actually just did a 6 week course with a presentation at the end called the Wave of Change - which was all about change management techniques!  The biggest thing I learnt from the course is that people deal with change differently - but it's not something we can just expect everyone to do with ease.  There is the cycle of change, and we have to grieve what's ending (or celebrate the ending), before we can start with the new.

So the big question is, how have I changed over the last 12 (or in my case 13 weeks). I would say straight out, no I don't think I've changed. But when I seriously think about it that's not true. I've not made any major changes, but I've made little changes. And it's the culmination of lots of little changes that create big changes. Something as simple as me posting week 13's task before week 12s.  Now that's out of routine and order, and would previously have me reluctant to do it - I may have written week 13's first, but waited until I had done week 12's to publish it! I've realised sometimes a little flexibility is okay, and routines can be broken!

We have started Friday family movie night. It's something we enjoy as a family (although it's adding another routine to my system!).

I've decided I'm happy with my body- I'm not as thin as I think I wanted to be - but I've decided I'm healthy, happy and can maintain this weight - so I'm not going to keep busting my guts to lose 3-5kg.  That's a change for me. I've previously wanted to lose weight - and then felt guilty every time I would eat something that goes against eating weight. I would do that quite a bit and constantly feel guilty!

I've been working on other areas of my appearance - wearing lipstick and some eyeshadow, changing how I do my hair from time to time (rather than the same old same old every single day), and wearing some dresses. I'm not a dress person- but I get comments every time I wear my new dress to work!

I've changed the way I think about things. I can choose to get annoyed by something - or I can choose not to.  I've been trying to choose not to sweat the small stuff and the stuff that's out of my control and I can't change. Whereas previously I would get cranky about things and maintain the crankiness for ages!

I've tried to catch up with friends via telephone or face to face rather than Facebook and text. I haven't been on Facebook much lately - whereas before not a day would go by. I do miss my online friends - but I've realised I'm trying to cram so much into my life and it's such a time waster that I can just pop on from time to time to catch up with them. I have quite a few online only friends through parenting groups and so on. I've been reading more blogs- I love reading blogs - and trying to comment when I have time.  I've been reading more books. I've been reading to my kids and listening to Hunter read.

We have been working on changes with Hunter - his sleeping and separation anxiety. He has come such a long way in 7 weeks and I'm so proud of him. We have changed the way we parent him slightly to bring about these changes -but him coming home with an award from assembly (where he stood up on stage to collect - unheard of at the beginning of the term) for courage to start the day independently - highlighted to me we are doing the right thing.

I don't know if anyone would notice these changes, but internally I feel happier. And I feel happier now I've written this post - and even in time to link up!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Life challange - week 13 - check in

I'm going to do something not like me and do things out of order. I haven't had a chance to reflect on week 12 yet - which is about making changes but the week 13 task is easier for me so I'm going to do it first. Now that is a big change for me!  Ahhhh, my routine is out of wack! See how far I've come!

In week 6 Deb had us set goals. Now in week 13 we are taking a break to check in  on our goals. I've outlined my goals and put an update under each one.

Goal: Reconnect with my current friends
Yes I have been making an effort to talk to a friend on the phone or meet face to face.  Still need to continue with this and make sure I do it each week.

Goal: Go to bed by 10.30pm at least 4 nights per week (Sun-Wed, the nights I have to work the next day). 
Sometimes, but not 4 nights per week. It's my reading that gets me.

Goal: Walk up the stairs at work once, everyday I'm there.
Yes, I do this everyday I'm at work. Have it as a task in my calendar and it reminds me until I mark it as completed!

Goal: Undertake 3-4 excercise sessions per week (mix of gym and treadmill)
Not so good on this one.
I walk once a week with a colleague at work, but I've not been so good at getting to the gym or going on the treadmill.  Averaging about once per week.

Goal: To brush my teeth twice a day and floss each night.
Brushing - yes. Still can't get into flossing regularly.

Goal: To not spend more than we earn so we don't feel stressed about money
Hmmm, just spent over $1800 on electrical appliances (new fridge and washing machine) and hubby bought a new car. So our finances are looking a little sad. But we do plan for a trip to Thailand this year so need to take another look at the budget to save!

Home environement
Goal: For our house to be free of CHAOS (as fly lady would say - Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome)
I have a cleaner once a fortnight! Yay, the place is lovely those days!
We are getting better at making the kids put their toys away before getting out new ones. Still room for improvement.
I'm still undertaking the 52 week organised home challenge, although am a little behind due to being sick and birthday planning etc. Need to do 2 weeks worth this week.

I've noticed if the kitchen bench is clean and tidy the whole place just feels nicer. I'm making an effort to have this tidy before I go to bed each night.

Goal: Spend quality time together doing things we enjoy (this is from our mission statement)
We haven't put "family day" into practice yet. Things have been busy - we need to schedule in and make it a priority. I'm aiming for April (after we get through Easter) for our first family day.

We have started family movie night. Friday night's channel 99 (Go) has a kids movie from 6-7.30pm. We record it and start watching it when we are ready (usually 6.30pm) and then as we fast forward the ads it's usually done around 7.30pm. Just in time for the kids to go to bed.

Goal: Focussed time spend with the kids
Yes and no. We read to the kids each night, so spend time with them then. But I want to do more, more games, more fun!

Goal: Nigel and I to spend time together one night a week
Nope we haven't got to this one yet. Still seems technology or my reading is ruling us!  We have different interests in TV shows so watch independently and then when Nigel wants to chat I'm busy reading. We must make an effort!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Life challenge - week 11 - gratitude

I started thinking about this not long after Deb posted the blog post about kindness, gratitude and altruism. I started discussions with my family at dinner, and then I got sick. And I didn't feel much gratitude. I felt sick. I felt like I had been hit by a bus. It came on the weekend and slowly got worse and worse and worse. But after 3 days in bed I now feel better - but just a little behind!  It's now a whole week since I should have blogged about this and the next task is out and I haven't even read it yet. And now my daughter is turning 3 on the weekend (I baby girl is going to be 3!) and I'm busily trying to organise her party. Not to mention catching up on 3 days of missed work. So I'm going to take a deep breath and write about kindness, gratitude and altruism.

There is so much I'm grateful for. And at times we can get so bogged down in our own problems that we do forget to smell the roses and be grateful for what we do have.
My family is healthy.  My family gets along.  We have a lovely (albeit a bit messy) house. We get a nice cooked meal every single night -not once have we had to go to bed hungry. Hunter is settling into school and is really doing well with his reading. Savannah has a bunch of friends at childcare and is such a bubbly girl. We can afford to pay the bills. Nigel is great at looking after the kids so I can have a night out. And so the list goes on.

Daily gratitude ritual
I thought this was a great idea.  Something that would be awesome to introduce to the kids. So I started at dinner, each of us to tell everyone else something we are grateful for. The kids don't quite understand the concept of gratitude and grateful, so I asked them to tell me something they were thankful for or something that made them happy that day. I think it kinda works.

After a few nights of doing this Hunter asked, why do we have to do this every night. I said because it's important to remind ourselves how lucky we are and the good things in our lives.
Hunter usually says he is thankful for playing with his friends. The best part of his day was playing with his friends and he is happy playing with his friends. What a great thing to be grateful for. We all need good friends!  Savannah was funny.  Her answers varied but the one that stood out was she was thankful for the monsters. The pink monsters. Everyone loves a pink monster right!

Volunteer or participate in your community
I wrote about my volunteering in my post about fear. I have generally been quite good about giving my time. Firstly with St Vincent de Paul through emergency relief.  Then I moved into the Regional Team. I was a member of the kindy governing council and secretary for 12 months and now I'm secretary of the school governing council. I don't feel like I can commit more time, given I'm working and running a family. But I put in where I can.

Random acts of kindness
I bought a kindle book for a stranger on the amazon forums - searched their wish list sent it off to them. That gave me a real buzz!  I will try and do that more often. I was only a $2 book. But I felt good.
I also signed up to a pay it forward thingy - where I have pledged to send 6 friend something I make during the year. As a surprise - just when they least expect it. I did this last year too and sent 10 gift cards I made to 5 friends. This year I'm thinking of yummy, chocolatey treats (that can travel!).
I really wanted to pay for the lady in front of me at the newsagent today - but that just seemed weird (and lets face it - I'm not rolling in cash).

Charity money box
My son has a money box for charity. He gets $5 pocket money each week. $3 for his wallet, $1 for savings and $1 for charity. At the end of the year we gather his charity money and do something with it for charity. Last year our conversation went something like this
Me - you have $20 in your charity fund (we only started half way through the year), what do you want to do with it?
H - we need to find a poor person and give them the money.
Me - No, it doesn't quite work like that mate.  It's better to give food, or clothing or things they need
H - oh yeah, lets buy food and find a poor person and give it to him
Me - well usually we go through charity organisations - like the food you donate to school for the food tree.
 I have an idea, we could buy some more food to donate to the school, or we could buy something from the world vision catalogue, like school supplies (we did this as the card for his teacher and the childcare workers so he knew what I was talking about) or we could buy a toy to put under the Christmas Wishing Tree
H - yeah, lets buy a toy!
So that was it!

Yes, I have a lot to be grateful for!!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Home challenge - week 11 - organise bills

Sticking with papers that come into the house, in week 11 we are concentrating on organising bills.  I keep bills on my pin board, in order of due date, with the bill with the closest date on the top.

This was good, however I had to keep looking at the pin board to know when a bill is due.  Around a month ago I started writing the due date of bills on my calendar. I look at my calendar daily! I have highlighted the bills so I can see at a quick glance when they are due.  Once paid I tick it so I know it's dealt with.

Then to organise paid bills I decided to create my own electronic spreadsheet. I liked the idea of having it electronically, rather than printed out (less paper to deal with this way). I have categories of name of bill, date due, date paid, method of payment and reference number.

I also started going through my filing cabinet to store paid paper bills.  This is a big task that never looks like you have done anything. But the kids and I made 2 large boxes of paper noodles (shredded paper) with all the old bills and paperwork.


Saturday, 10 March 2012

Life challenge - week 10 - face your fears

Facing fears is hard. Really hard! But this is what Deb wants us to do in week 10 of the challenge!

My biggest fear revolves around being in situations with people I don't know. But it's not only situations with people I don't know, but large social gatherings.  I think it's some kind of social gathering phobia.

We have a weekly morning tea at work, company of just over 100 (but never that many at morning tea). I always feel nervous going to morning tea. Who will I talk to? What will I say?  I'm not someone who can just go join a group of people and start talking. I find this hard. It shouldn't be hard. I know all these people. But what if they don't want to talk to me? What if I have nothing to say? What if I make a fool of myself?

I want to make new friends, but I don't want to talk to people first. I'm the kind of person that if someone talks to me, I will talk non-stop back to them. I just have trouble making the first move.

Wednesday night was the school AGM. The first one since Hunter had been at school.  I wanted to go. I wanted to be a member of the governing council and had put in my nomination. I like getting involved. I like being in the know behind the scenes and I feel it has to benefit my kids. I thought it would be a good way to get to know people. But boy was I nervous. What if I don't know anyone? What if I have no one to talk to and am sitting there all alone for the whole night?  I will be sad, and lonely and bored!

So I drive down to the school. Park and stay in the car for a bit. I walk into the room and stand at the door to assess the situation. Groups of people talking together as there are drinks and nibbles before the AGM - argh - my worst nightmare. This means I'm going to have to either stand on my own - or walk up to an existing chatting group. Luckily for me I look over and see another Mum from Hunter's class - and with her is a Mum I met through the kindy governing council (yep I joined that one too) and another Mum who I know of, but she doesn't know me. So I joined that group. And another Mum joined later - who I knew from being in Hunter's class last year (he did 1 term last year). We had a nice chat and I sat next to one of the Mums during the AGM.

Then I had to face another fear - public speaking. There were 9 nominations for 5 positions on the governing council. There was going to have to be a vote. As we didn't know everyone - the 9 people had to stand up and give a little spiel about themselves.  Public speaking is a fear I've been working on for years. I need to talk at conferences for work so I have done numerous courses, and practised a lot at conferences. But usually I have practised (lots) before getting up to speak - and know my stuff. Now this was an impromptu public speaking - I didn't know it was coming. Luckily we had notes from our nomination forms - and I winged it. And I did okay. But then of course along came another fear. Oh no, what if they don't like me? I'm only new, hardly anyone knows me. I'm not going to get a spot and then I will feel rejected.

At the end of the little speeches, after some discussions with the current members it was decided the Constitution could be changed so we could all be members - so I got a spot - and I even managed to get myself elected st secretary. So now I'm on the school governing council for the next 2 years - and okay with this. secretary for the next 12 months.

I know it's a silly fear - and I know that more often that not- if I make the effort to speak to someone first they will speak back. And who knows, maybe they have the same fear of speaking first as I do!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Home challenge - week 10 - mail organise centre

We are getting through the tasks.  The week 10 organised home challenge is create a home mail organise centre.  As I been going through the previous challenges I've been thinking of better ways to do things. So this one I had already started. I identifed in week 1 that my kitchen bench was a place we dumped papers, junk mail, mail etc. I wanted to change this so in week 1 I put a basket on top of the microwave as a place to dump papers.

This was 100 % better than my previous system of dumping everything on the bench - however we found after a little while the basked was just full of papers that we didn't know what was in there. There was mail, bills, junk mail, things to be actioned and so on. I was then on the look out for something better. 

Looking through the junk mail I found something that I thought would be ideal. The basket at the top won't stay long term- but at the momen it's holding some presents before I have a chance to give them out! Still on top of the microwave - takes up a little more space - but still fits.

I have labelled the draws so we know what's to go where. The top draw has pens, pencils, scissors, sticky tape etc. The next one is Nigel's mail.  The 3rd one is my mail. The 4th one is junk mail and the last one is miscellaneous/papers to be actioned.

Whoever brings the papers in is responsible for placing them in the right draw. It's then up to either Nigel or myself to deal with our mail and either recycle, file (or filing needs work - but I'm sure we will be working on this in the near future) or deal with immediately.  This is 300% improvement on dumping the papers on the bench, and much better than the 1 basket system.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Home challenge -week 9 - contact information

Week 9 in the home challenge was a simple one too - it's all about simple address book and contact information.  I've decided this is a task I dont' need to spend too much time on - after all the point of the challenge is to make us more organised - not spend heaps of time on thing's.  I'm happy with the way I store address and contact information at the moment.

I have an address book that sits next to my phone.  This keeps all addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of friends and family.  My mobile phone stores all my friend's phone numbers. I also have hubby's written down on a piece of paper in my purse (as my memory is shocking).  My email system stores all friend's email addresses - and those I use regularly I have memorised.

I don't have a business contact section- however I find I don't generally need one. It's quite easy to use the white pages to find a business if I need -and those I use regularly - I put into my address book under what they are (e.g the dog clippers goes under D for dog clippers - not H for Home and country which is the name of the business).

Works for me so I ain't spending time trying to make it better!

Life challenge - week 9 - go easier on yourself

WOW we are up to week 9 already, and Deb is asking us to go easier on yourself. I can do this. I've found after going through the previous challenges I've been happier this week. I'm reminding myself of all the good things in my life.

I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself lately to lose weight. I joined 2 separate weight loss groups on FB, along with the 1 million kilo challenge.  Then I beat myself up when I get a bit slack and don't exercise as much as I SHOULD or eat more chocolate than I SHOULD.  But truth be known, I'm not even overweight. Sure I'm not as thin as my sister but mMy BMI and it's 23.3 - completely healthy.  My weight basically fluctuates up and down a kilo.  I wanted to lose 3kg to get to where I wanted to be - which would put my BMI at 22.3 (not wanting to share my weight with the world!) but I've decided this week that, you know what - I'm happy where I am. I can maintain this weight well and I can have some treats!  I'm healthy and happy.

I've been working on myself abit. I have walked up the stairs at work (all 232 of them) every work day last week ( and twice one day) - and walked plenty of times between the floors.  I wore a new dress last week and got 3 compliments at work!!  That made me feel awesome!  I've been trying to wear lipstick everyday thanks to Louisa from Louisa Caire and have started playing around with different hairstyles, and I've even had comments about that too! It's great to have some time to look at myself and not just rush out the door.  So I'm not beating myself up anymore about losing those last 3kg!  I'm accpeting who I am and am going to try and make the most of what I've got!

I'm also going to stop beating myself up or getting grumpy over things that can't be changed. I tend to dwell on things for ages wishing I had done something a different way, or "if only" statements. If only I didn't eat that ice cream with the kids, if only I got in the other lane at the check-out, if only, if only, if only. And I have a habit of getting grumpy at hubby for doing something the "wrong" way (read not the way I would have done it). This can stop too. What's done is done, so I'm going to learn to deal with it and move on!

The next thing I'm going to do is think positively of myself.  My self-confidence is a bit lacking -but it need not be!  I'm good at my job!  I'm a good, (at times fun) Mum, I'm a good wife (not as good as those that make their husbands lunch but hey he is a grown man!), I'm a good friend. I'm not perfect but I'm good enough!

My mantra is this quote from Audry Hepburn!  I just love it!!