E.R.A.S.E Everything Part 4

ELIMINATE…REDUCE…AUTOMATE…SCHEDULE…EXTERNALISE ©

If you missed the earlier posts you can click on the links for Part 1. Part 2 and Part 3

 

EXTERNALISE

Depending on your skills, abilities and finances externalising jobs, tasks and projects that need doing can save you and/or your family hours and days of time. The things you don’t need to do personally, that you don’t want to do, have the skills needed to do, have the time to do or even if your time is better spent on others things are all perfect for externalising.

As an example most of us hand off the maintenance of our cars besides the very basic oil, petrol, air in the tyres, washing type functions. We bring in plumbers and electricians for maintenance or repairs involving water and electrical. Mostly we don’t have the skills needed and it’s just smarter (not to mention in some cases illegal) for us tackle those things ourselves.

What I’m asking you to consider where finances allow is to hand off more. By all means keep doing the things you and your family don’t mind doing or find enjoyable. Don’t create an expense for no quantifiable reason or benefit. If it causes stress, arguments or is costing you time as a family or personally that you’d like back to do other things though .. externalise … pay someone else to do those things for you.

Let your neighbourhood teenager or mowing/landscaping business take care of the yards. Bring in a cleaner for the whole house or just the parts you hate. I had a relative who had a burning hatred for doing windows, so periodically they hired someone to do it for them. Problem solved. They had beautiful clean windows and never again wasted a moment of time or negative emotion on it. Hire an ironing lady. Some even pick up and deliver. Hire a broker to ring around and check you’re getting the best insurance deal or mortgage. Do your grocery order on-line and have it dropped straight to your door. Hire a handyman to clean out your gutters. Hire a contractor to handle the renovation project. Find an odd jobs person to pick up dry cleaning or post office box mail or handle drop offs etc. Have  your dog washed and clipped by a groomer and walked by others if you choose to.

You and /or your family are completely capable of pulling together and doing a lot these things of course. Kids can earn pocket money doing odd jobs, learn the teamwork of  family and contributing and valuable life skills. They are all valuable things and can be taught regardless without it eating personal or family time on a permanent basis though. This is about time. If you’d rather have the time back or a bit more of it back – pick and choose what you’re happy to hand off and do that immediately.

I would add also for those who feel this is a cop out or lazy that you are creating jobs (preferably) within your community.. but work and jobs none the less. An income or part of for another person. Thereby making this a win/win situation. You get more time. Someone else get more money. As always spend your dollars with thought. Who and where you choose to spend your money can make an enormous contribution to your community or not. I always encourage trying to keep it local where possible and then individually owned over corporates if you can which for most of our home based jobs is absolutely doable.

Spend a half hour or so brain storming yourself or with your family and see what can be externalised to free up your precious time. Literally, that is all the time it will take. Then find a provider and start planning what you’re going to do with those extra minutes and hours .. that might even just be going for that long walk, or having that bath… maybe a family movie night.

That brings to a conclusion this little series folks. I’d love to hear about the things you chose and the amount of time that freed up for you or any of the other things you were able to accomplish with E.R.A.S.E in the comments.

 

E x

An Ode to Winter. Lets Hibernate!

In Europe we’ve just left Winter behind and it’s Spring. Soon though I will be heading back into the Australian Autumn and “Winter is Coming” [get it!] Ok, anyway it has reminded me of thoughts that had been percolating in my mind in the last couple of seasons I had spent in my own country. Things that I had been working on how to implement into my own life.

This post is NOT about gardening it’s just the book I was reading while working on “The Secret Garden” in Ireland triggered it. “A Gentle Plea For Chaos” by Mirabel Osler.  It is a delightful, beautifully written and funny account of her own and others gardens, gardening and gardeners in general. Mirabel had me at the first page and it was this that set my thought processes in this direction once more……

A gentle plea for chaos

Whether you are a gardener or not is not really relevant only the idea behind this. In Australia my thoughts had been turning to earlier generations where generally the rise and fall of seasons was payed more attention to in the forms of work and activities done or engaged in. Spring and Summer so busy with socialising and in a time of wide spread home gardens and home cooking – a flurry of cultivating, growing, weeding, picking, canning, pickling etc etc. Winter was indeed more a time of rest and hibernation. Knitting, crochet, stories around the radio.. more indoor pursuits. Shorter slower days… less jam packed. Cosy jumpers, book reading, early nights under fluffy quilts or blankets. Pots of tea and bed socks. A time for catching up on the things let slide or put on hold during the busy days of Summer. Some of those things remain of course.  In our modern culture more often than not though the only thing that changes is our clothes and the sports you may or may not be involved in or watching. With or without gardens our lives are as frenetic in Winter as they are the rest of the year. This time of year that nature and the earth in all her wisdom know is a time of rest. We push on relentless in our busyness.

Now I realise we can’t all just stop and snuggle in for the winter but what had been in my mind those last few seasons in Oz was if we couldn’t take just a bit more notice of the ebb and flo of the seasons and adjust our lives accordingly. The thought of a season of slower living was so enticing to me. To be planned for and enjoyed as such year after year – that sounded like something that I definitely wanted in my life. Hearty Stews and friends over for lunch. Catching up on books on the couch. Tea and lap rugs. Early nights. Trying that new indoor hobby. Scanning those photos you’ve been meaning to get to. Planning that new home renovation project. Attacking that paperwork beast once and for all. Trying to master that tricky cake recipe. Jam making. Home made Christmas Presents. Things absolutely to be delayed and pushed aside in days full of light and sunshine but perfect for colder winter months. A season for hibernation and rest. Time indoors with friends/family, board games, movies. Attending to the details of our lives that keep it on track, improve it or provide enjoyment and interest while honouring a season that is perfectly designed for that kind of slow time of rest and recuperation.  Taking  time to simplify and sort out anything that will give us more leisure time when the warm days start to coax us out of the house again.

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This seemed like the best of all worlds to me. A season of rest, comfort and rejuvenation that could also at the same time be used to take care of things that would free up more time for what we chose to do in those hazy days of Summer. So I thought I’d pass it on for your consideration too. Looking into the future I plan on structuring much different projects and down time during the Autumn / Winter seasons. It just appeals on so many levels and makes sense to me. Truly if it’s good enough for Mother Nature. It’s good enough for me.

What about you? What do think?

E x

E.R.A.S.E Everything Part 3

ELIMINATE…REDUCE…AUTOMATE…SCHEDULE…EXTERNALISE ©

Part 1 and Part 2 can be found here.

AUTOMATE

Automate is actually the easy one.

It is exactly what is sounds like. Anything that can be automated, ought to be. Anything that you spend money or have to pay regularly you want to automate. You can eliminate unnecessary trips, late fees because you forgot to pay the bill or just stop doing and paying the same thing every 2 weeks, monthly etc. When you are able to set it up or organise just once to last till eternity if you wish.

This is especially useful for financial targets. Starting here consider some of the following in relation to your own home and life as examples and build from there….

  • Increasing your savings.
  • Making credit card and loan payments.
  • Paying bills. Rates. Water. Electricity. Insurance etc
  • School Fees. Day Care. Sport / Gym fees
  •  A regular grocery, bread, meat or fuit and vegetable order.
  • Vitamins.
  • Magazines. Papers or Industry journals you buy

The perfect partner to this for when Automation isn’t an option is Scheduling.

SCHEDULING

Now I have an absolute, undeniable and ongoing adoration for Scheduling. This one thing one in my opinion is the one that enables you put your life as close as is possible to set and forget. With the aid of a Calender. Planner or Word document, whatever your personal preference is where you write down everything that needs doing and give it a place in your year or life. Out of your head onto paper and then filed in your home manual. You can schedule basically any part of your life and have multiple schedules for different aspects of your life, although for the sake of simplicity and ease I’d keep them to a minimum. It may sound regimented and it is but the effect of that is actually increased ease, productivity, brain space and decreased stress, forgotten or not gotten to jobs, appointments or projects.

There are lots of jobs that may only need to be done a few times a year and scheduling is just as perfect for those as it is for the things we need to do regularly. The schedules or events and jobs I usually have in my home manual include the following

  • Home Maintenance Schedule
  • Cleaning Schedule
  • Menu. Groceries. Shopping
  • Personal / Family
  • Weekly. Fortnightly. Monthly
  • Financial
  • Business
  • Goals
  • Birthdays
  • Christmas Cards and Shopping.
  • Clean Gutters
  • Service Car
  • Service Airconditioner
  • Financials
  • Menus  [3 months worth]
  • Dental / Doctor visits
  • Windows.  Dooners. Skirting boards. Curtains/ Blinds [Cleaning of]
  • Washing. Clean the Washing Machine. Dryer. Drains
  • Lawns. Garden. Weeding ~Yard/Farm maintenance
  • Shopping ~Food. Clothes. Back to School. Christmas
  • Goals ~ Personal. Business. Financial. Home. Family/ Friends.

These actually boil down into only a few pages it’s not as unwieldy as it sounds

Screenshot (3)   Screenshot (4)

Screenshot (5)

These are just a couple of examples of very basic documents which is what mine are most of the time. You can make them prettier and more detailed but it is just about useability and getting it done. I always had 2 months of menus planned out and on rotation and was about to implement a third which allows you to just keep rotating without worrying you’ll become bored with the meals. You could also do it seasonally if you wanted to incorporate the heavier or lighter meals of summer and winter. You’ll notice not all the week is filled. This is because we always left at least one day but usually 2 free per week where we were using up left overs or had been invited out. There was always at least 1 super easy meal as well .. eg cheese toasties that we might put a salad with or not. Once you get this in place meal time and shopping becomes easy. What’s on the menu ?? … then put whatever you don’t have on hand on the shopping list. Done. Always make extra if you can for lunches or leftovers.

The above yearly calendar again is just an example of some of the things that can be put on it and how it can be used. The yearly calendar is one of my favourites. I never have to remember a thing. If something new comes up onto the calendar it goes and it makes sure you, your family including all pets get scheduled dental and medical visits and that machines (cars / aircon/ mowers etc) are also maintained which in the long run saves you time and money as well as getting better performance and helping to eliminate any problems or catch them before they get too big. Check it regularly, book in anything you need to and those appointment times go into your planner. The jobs you fit into your month either at a set time or when you can. Car cleaning and pet washing / clipping was always the first Saturday of the month for me. Financials the first of the month.. you get the idea. I programmed everything. My cleaning schedule I had on a weekly list that included family commitments etc. Sports. Meetings etc. The cleaning list was tacked on the end. I had a birthday list so I knew whose was coming up and planned ahead. Your life can pretty much be on remote control. Nothing forgotten. Everything planned for, done or checks in place, maintained. This in turns gives you the time and head space to start improving any areas you want to improve and / or giving you more free time and importantly working towards any goals you have.

We’ll finish off with the nice quick one Externalise in a couple of weeks.

Ever x

 

 

E.R.A.S.E Everything Part 2.

 

ELIMINATE … REDUCE … AUTOMATE … SCHEDULE … EXTERNALISE. ©

If you haven’t read part 1. Start there and come back.. we’ll wait. x

REDUCE

If we can’t get rid of something altogether the next step is to reduce. How much we have, how long it takes, how often we do it, how much it costs.  The aim is always to save time, space, money, effort. You do a big grocery shop every week. Do it fortnightly. Fortnightly.. do it every 3 or 4 weeks. YES. You can. Better yet do it online and have it delivered your time is likely worth more than the delivery cost and you won’t buy things you don’t need or get side tracked in other shops along the way. You have clothes and shoes, kids toys in more than one place… time to cull. 27 photo albums .. can you scan most of those and reduce that number. If you think you need more storage space – it’s time for things to go.  If you or your children are in so many extra curricular activities that your spending hours in cars and outside the home with reduced family time and increased take out meals. Time to reassess. If what you want to do isn’t happening if your not getting the time you want with the people you want it with but you’re spending time in gyms, meetings, committees, unpaid work hours, activities. Your just prioritising wrong. Stuff has to go….. what’s it gonna be.

There is more than one way of reducing so pick what works for you. For instance. If you have a small family or just you. Batch your washing into days.. say…  Thursday nights or even twice a week. One night clothes, one night sheets, towels etc. I’m a fan of always trying to keep your weekends free if you’re in paid employment. But if the weekend suits you – do that. Here you are reducing the amount of times you wash. If you have a large family. You may want to do a load most nights of the week so that you wash more often but you can wash, dry and get it away quickly rather than try and batch it like above and lose your whole Saturday because of the amount you have.

Before even doing this though. You also will want to seriously look at how much clothing you and your family has ( go back to elimination) and how often it gets washed. Unless your kids got in the mud, or you husband is in construction or it was a hot and sweaty kind of day most clothes can be worn more than once. Besides washing it will save wear and tear on your clothes from unnecessary washing and money when they need to be replaced less often and while you’re at it only use half to 3/4 of the washing powder/liquid they tell you… it will be more than enough. Try it for yourself and see. Again this will save money.

Social media and emails etc. Where do we even start. Maybe we save that for another post.

This is just a couple of area’s. If there’s something specific you want me to address. Let me know. Automate. Schedule. Externalise. We’ll look at next time.

 

E x

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E.R.A.S.E Everything Part 1.

E.R.A.S.E  –  ELIMINATE … REDUCE … AUTOMATE … SCHEDULE … EXTERNALISE ©

In the previous post we talked about getting your dream life and that some of the key components of achieving that were simplicity, focus and time. To get more of your life for what you want to do, you need to simplify it. I said we’d talk about simplifying further and so I thought the easiest way to do that would be to just show you the system I use.

E.R.A.S.E  is what I use in my life to free up time and streamline my life. To simplify as much as possible.  It’s how I was able to take off 2 months to go and walk the Camino (a cross country pilgrimage trail starting in France and finishing in Santiago De Compostela Spain) It is how I have now been traveling for nearly 12months months and all going well plan on doing that for just a little bit longer. It’s how I run my home when I have one and the system I used within my own family. It is how I continue to redesign and explore my own life. I have used it with friends and their houses. This is the system I developed and used as part of Managing a team and projects in the finance sector. Especially around the improvement and change management processes I became known for. It can be both incredibly in depth or simple depending on how you put it to use and how deep you’d like to take it. lets start with the simple stuff.

The truth is I’m not going to show you how to organise every single thing in your life. Only the stuff you need or want to keep. Everything else we are going to Eliminate. Reduce. Automate. Schedule or Externalise. We want to simplify our lives and get our time back NOT find a place and time for everything that’s already there. Because frankly what you usually find is much of it shouldn’t be there to start with or is taking up waaaayyyy more time than it justifies. If you want to multitask yourself into the middle of the next century. This is not the system for you. Nor is it if you want to keep everything you have and do currently.

Now  I’m more of a “teach a man to fish” person i.e. I want to show you how to do it for yourself “the system” so you can go off and use it whenever and on whatever you decide you want to or that needs it. We’ll focus mainly on home, family and life in an overall helicopter type view but if you have any questions feel free to ask. Pretty much anything I will ever talk about is just a part of this basic system tweaked and applied to whatever conditions, system or problem at hand. Once you’ve learnt it / understand it. You have it forever to use or not as your choice dictates.Lets start.

 

ELIMINATE

In relation to “things” Do I need this? Do you have multiples of the same thing. Do you have it just in case you might need it. Have you kept it because it was a gift or heirloom but you don’t really have any attachment to it. Are you holding onto it because it cost you a lot of money. ALL of these reasons are WRONG answers. Everything you own – actually owns you. It has to be looked after, maintained, stored, cleaned, whatever. It takes up the hours and space of your life, your house, sometimes money. sometimes more. You have a finite amount of hours in your life…. you should be VERY discriminating as to what warrants your time. I’m not a minimalist but I would be closer to that definition than any other. You want to be living your life, exploring your passions, building your career, having relationships and fun, having quiet time, family/friends time or adventures, trying new hobbies. Whatever it is you want to do and focus your time on. Not doing chores and looking after stuff. They are base necessities of life we’re talking about. Get in, get it done and move on to the better, more fun stuff.

Too many clothes, knick knaks, tools, committee obligations, after work activities. Donate. Sell. Get the electronic version. Give it to friends or relatives that want it. Take a photo of it and let the actual item go – if it’s there simply as a reminder of a time, place or person. Scan it and get rid of the paperwork / photo.This can be done in layers over time with most things. Start with clothes, move onto video’s, DVD’s etc I wouldn’t drag it out forever though. Aim to get it done within 6 months tops. Keep the stuff you love or is useful and get rid of everything else including any time commitments ..committees etc that you aren’t 110% wanting to be part of.

In relation to jobs, tasks, the day to day of life it gets even more exciting. Does it need to be done at all. Does it need to be done as often as you do it. Does it need to be done by you. You NEVER organise or simplify anything that can be eliminated altogether. It is also here that I would like to suggest to you that if you do not live alone you are actually part of a team who, fantastically, you get to or already should be involved in the successful running of your home. Whether that is you and your partner plus or minus children, any other family members or you and your child. Anyone who is living in the home is contributing to it’s need to be cleaned and maintained….therefor should be contributing to it’s cleaning and upkeep. If you are doing the line share of the work. Stop being a hero, martyr, victim or idiot. There is not really any lesson of value I can see in teaching your children or partner this level of expectation or failing to prepare them for or let them be fully functioning human beings in their own right.  You are creating a rod for your own back and frankly your childrens  future partners are unlikely to thank you either.

Adjust for age and ability and start but realise that ability is often just a lack of teaching. Most children by the time they start High School are fully capable of washing their own clothes especially in the age of push button programming. Show them how. This is not rocket science. Let alone other even easier tasks. Let alone if we are talking about another adult in the house. There are few things that feel as good as being part of a tight, well functioning team. Knowing there is a bunch of humans who you love and support and that love and support you. Team environment. Team participation. If you have a partner and you’re not splitting the workload of running your home and relationship 50/50. That is entirely up to you. You do not need to explain or justify that to anyone else if you are happy with that arrangement. Truly. No-one else needs to hear why, in the comments here or anywhere else. The only person you need to justify it to is yourself. If you are looking for suggestions or solutions though by all means comment away someone may have a work around or idea. Realise though – that your choice to take on more than your fair share will of course have obvious flow on effects to how much time you will have for other people, places or things in your life, including your own self.

So start with elimination… things you don’t need or want, commitments you don’t need or want… tasks you don’t need to do at all or don’t need to do yourself. Next will be reducing. Let me know if you get stuck or you have questions.

 

E x

 

How to achieve your Dream life

Simplicity. Focus. Time.

Even if you’re just trying to achieve some goals it requires the same things. Sounds easy right. The reality is more complicated as we all know. But here’s what I’ve found in nearly every aspect of life. These 3 steps work. The simpler your life is, the easier it gets to achieve the meaningful stuff. Every. Single. Time. Simplify your life, add focus and time and you’re on your way.

Years ago I had a dream to get away, leave everything behind for a time and travel. Extended travel…. months at least. There was zero possibility of it being a reality anywhere on the horizon. I knew though if there was ever a chance there were things that needed to change and so I worked on those. Using those exact 3 steps. I worked towards the dream and when the opportunity presented, it was sudden and I was as surprised as everyone else. I grabbed that opportunity and was living that one particular dream within 6 weeks. This was only possible though because of the work I’d done previously using those steps.

More importantly….. Use these steps to go and achieve your dreams

Simplicity:

The more time, money, energy you can free up. The greater the chance you have of achieving the life you REALLY want. If you are bogged down in details and time consuming tasks in every area of your life you won’t find the time to learn, do, be or have the goals you’d like to reach. We all know this. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, even if we are not admitting it to ourselves. The often trotted out line ..”Once I finish this. Go on Holidays. Summer finishes. If I could just” .. variations of those themes. Is a lie and we know it. There will always be something. The minutiae of life will consume your whole life if you let it. Multiple trips to the grocery store. 17 after school activities for your kids. Endless bill paying. Too many loads of washing. Time wasted looking for the lost thingamajig…. There isn’t a thing in your personal, family or home universe too small to look at simplifying or better still eliminating if it’s not needed or necessary. Address it all! We’ll look at this in more detail on the site.

Focus:

When I say focus this also means DOING the work it will take to achieve what it is you want. It won’t just turn up on its own.  More ease. More time for yourself, friends, family. A holiday. Time for volunteer work. Learning a new language or skill. Improved health, finances, job. A completely new life. What is the ultimate aim? Your target? Once you know it – you can work backwards. Envision what your future dream life looks like for you. What would you need to do to achieve that. New skills? Reduced debts? Training? Would you need to save money or enlist professional help? Don’t pick a whole bunch. If it is truly something that will change or improve the quality of your life it requires your attention. You can change it all but focus on one thing at a time then move on to the next if it will take multiple changes. Trying to change 17 different things at once is a recipe for failure, exhaustion and despair.

Time:

Now. Just start. It may take time but the decision to change your life or go after a goal is made in an instant. It really, really is that simple. The commitment to that goal – the focus, is what comes next. Whether you want it enough to keep working towards it, even if you fall off the  wagon now and again, just climb back on. Then … time. Patience. Enjoying, refining and improving where you are while working towards where you want to be. I know life is now geared as .. How to get the perfect body in two weeks. 3 simple life hacks for corporate success etc etc ad nauseum. It’s all instant gratification and ease and it’s disheartening if you feel your failing. Here’s the thing though… you have time. Decide what you want. Simplify. Focus. Time. Get moving. Keep going. Don’t give up. Here is one of the quotes I love in relation to this concept.

organic-market

So as long as you’re here. You may as well keep working towards what you want. Don’t fritter away your time, get moving on your dream. Make the commitment. Do the work but release any fear or anxiety around the outcome. As clichéd as it sounds – “enjoying the process or the journey” really will make it easier. My dream was never a win/lose proposition though and neither is yours. If I hadn’t achieved it. The things I addressed and improved in my life incrementally over the years, every change had a positive pay off in some way and would have led to other opportunities if not this one.

Give it a shot. No effort is wasted and think of what you might achieve. I’m cheering for you. Let me know how it turns out.

Ever x

Featured picture: Croatia… one of the countries visited during my extended travel trip.