Free or Nearly Free Tools for Getting Organized

Is getting organized on your list of to-dos for the new year?  Need a hand?  Enjoy these free or nearly free tools for getting organized in the new year.

But…before you start going download crazy, heed this caution.   Do not overwhelm yourself with the process of preparing to organize, such that you never actually do it.  (Says experience.)  Don’t overclutter your life with “helpful” tools.  Keep it simple.  Say it with me: simple.

Free or Nearly Free Tools for Getting Organized

getting organized Vista Print freebiesVista Print is offering six free products, including two types of calendars.  The personalized post-it notes and note cards would be a hit in someone’s Easter basket. (I know, it’s barely past Christmas.)  Plus Grandma (or The Simple Homemaker) would love a personalized calendar.  Shipping fees apply.  I have had good experiences with Vista Print.

Visit Vista Print Here

Getting OrganizedGet Organized Wizard is selling the 2012 Organize-in-Five Diary for only $4.95.  That’s a discount of 87% for a limited time only. It also comes free with some of their other products.  Nice, eh? The diary gives you one organizational task a day, each slotted to take about five minutes.  I own this, I like this, ‘nuf said.

Visit Get Organized Wizard Here

 tools for getting organizedGet a free Kindle version of the book Organize for a Fresh Start: Embrace Your Next Chapter in Life by Susan Fay West.  It addresses how to organize your home and manage your time within the home.  If you do not have a Kindle, you can download a free e-reader app for your computer at Amazon.  Prices change, so check the cost before buying. (I have not read this book.)

Get Your Free Copy Here

 tools for getting organizedDownload a free 2012 declutter calendar from My Simpler Life with a mission a day throughout the year.  Beth of My Simpler Life is also the author of 365 Days to a Saner, Simpler Life which you can download for $4.95. (I have not read this book, so cannot recommend it personally.)

Download Your Free 2012 Declutter Calendar

Buy 365 Days to a Saner, Simpler Life

Download a host of free resources from Money-Saving-Mom.  This links to six of them, but follow her links from there to find more.  I believe we’re due for another reminder not to go download crazy.

Download Your Free Resources Here

Getting Organized in 2012Subscribe to The Simple Homemaker’s newsletter to get weekly inspiration and ideas for managing your home as simply as possible, eliminating complications, and enjoying your family and life to the fullest.

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What am I using to help me stay organized in the new year?  A calendar, scrap paper and pencil (for my ultra-simple lists), my computer for my long-term lists, the 2012 Organize-in-Five Diary (which is something new I’m trying this year), and, of course, my subscription to The Simple Homemaker!  (I must run.  I’m late for my meeting of Self-Promoter’s Anonymous…although by definition none of us self-promoters are anonymous.)

Have a great time getting organized in the New Year!

What is Clearing Your Queue?

Clear: to remove (people or objects); to make free of confusion, doubt, or uncertainty.

Queue: a line of people, vehicles, etc, waiting for something.

Bear with me as I share what will at first seem a completely pointless glimpse into my life.

What is clearing your Queue?Some time ago we subscribed to Netflix. Through Netflix we could stream videos to watch instantly.  We could also add shows to our Netflix queue to watch at will.

Netflix offered some great shows that I loved using for school on those days when I would fall asleep while reading out loud to my children.  (Let’s just keep that last bit between you and me, shall we?)

After the children were tucked in at night, I would often attempt to preview a show for school or occasionally completely relax and watch an old favorite.  Notice I said “attempt.”

I never actually watched anything. Ever.

I spent my limited viewing time filling our queue with great shows that we couldn’t miss.  There were over 400 “can’t-miss” programs in our queue.  The queue was so full that it was difficult to find anything.  Yet, instead of watching some of those carefully selected goodies, I only added more to the queue. I was so afraid of missing something, that I missed everything.

My life had become like my Netflix queue.

It was too full of “can’t-miss” programs.  Too full of great ideas.  Too full of projects. Too full of plans and schedules and curricula.  Too full of expert advice for health, faith, education, parenting, marriage, and fun. Too full of everything it took to live up to everybody’s expectations. Yet, instead of implementing those carefully selected activities, improvements, and experiences, I only added more to the queue.

I was so afraid of missing something, that I was missing my own life.

It was a harsh lesson.  A painful lesson.

It was hard to accept that all the time I spent researching and planning for the benefit of my family was in reality a detriment to them.  It was difficult to admit that I was doing what I ungraciously condemned other parents for doing: I was doing “for them” instead of doing “with them.”  What made it even more humbling was that I have always preached “family first” and honestly thought I was putting my family first, but I wasn’t. I was putting my queue — my agenda for my family, my preaching of family first, my self-improvement on their behalf, my research for their betterment — ahead of my family. This preacher needed to heed the preaching.

My family would rather have my attention than my expertise. They would rather have my time than my theories.  They would rather have me playing shortstop with them in the back yard than chopping veggies without them in the kitchen.  They would rather have me laughing on the couch with them than micro-managing their futures.  They would rather I formed a united parenting front with my husband than with the parenting specialists.

They would rather have me enjoying life than figuring out how to extend it. They would rather eat a few preservatives here and there with a happy mama than eat everything from scratch with a haggard grump. They would rather hear what’s on my heart than listen to my recitation of the latest parenting guru publication. They would rather have the honest, dorky me with all my foibles than some unnatural replica of the “experts.”  They would rather see grace than perfection.

In short, my family needs me–the imperfect, unpolished, simple me.

Accepting this crucial truth in my life was the first step to clearing my queue, to releasing the baggage and expectations, to putting my priorities back where they belong.

It was the first step to living a simple life and truly loving my family.

Welcome to my journey, as I continue to release the mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical clutter that was in my queue.

Do you need to clear your queue?  Join me, and return to a simple home, simple faith, simple life.

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5 Tips for Contentment

5 Tips for ContentmentHarboring discontent robs us of joy and contaminates our lives. It is soul clutter, plain and simple. And since we are trying to enjoy a simple life, there is no room for clutter. Discontent has to go.

For some people, living a contented life is a daily challenge, a sometimes hourly choice. For others, contentment seems to almost come naturally. I, sadly, fall into the first category. Contentment is a constant battle, and its nemesis, discontent, is frequently jumping in to take my eyes off the daily blessings God has given.

Following are some tips for encouraging contentment and giving discontent the boot:

  1. Gratitude–find a reason to be grateful in all circumstances. Did you catch that? ALL circumstances. Thank God for everything. Count your blessings. Make it a game. Keep a list. Do it as a family. However you do it, just do it.
  2. Don’t compare–never ever look at someone else’s situation and compare it to your own. And don’t listen to others who will enthusiastically do the comparing for you. You don’t know what hurts and fears and sorrows are hidden behind a happy facade, good job, big house and successful children. You also don’t know the purpose God has for you in your situation.
  3. Don’t dwell–don’t pine away after what you don’t have. Just plain stop. Period. Return to Tip 1.
  4. Don’t complain–don’t grumble, don’t hint, don’t whine. Just stop. It didn’t work when you were four (and if it did, your parents dropped the ball), and it’s not going to work when you’re 24 or 54 or 84. There is no room in the contented heart for complaining, so just get rid of the option. Don’t do it, don’t let others do it, don’t listen to it. By the way, complaining in your head is still complaining.
  5. Focus outward–stop looking at what you want for yourself, and think what you can do for others. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Whenever you find yourself reverting inward and cluttering your life with “if only’s,” think of a need in your community, extended family, church family, anywhere, and pray. Drop someone a note. Bake cookies for a neighbor. Kiss your husband. Play catch with a child. Get your focus off yourself.

Discontent has got to go. There’s no room in the simple life for discontentment!

What are your tips for contentment?

I believe the idea for a contentment challenge came from Joy, the precious gal who runs The Stay-at-Home Missionary.  Journey through her blog for encouragement and guidance.  Time well spent, my friends.

Contentment in the Desert

Contentment in the DesertYears ago I told my then newlywed husband that I would follow him anywhere except the desert. While some people love the desert and others think–say it with me–“it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there,” I did not even want to visit. I’d been there three times and that was three times too many!

The Lord tested my loyalty. Apparently, I passed the test, because we moved to the desert three years into our marriage, and we have been here ever since.

God has funny ways of eliminating the clutter of discontentment. The desert is one of the tools He uses on me.

While I frequently chose to be blind to the stunning beauty of the mountains surrounding our home in all directions, He forced me to see. He used little girls calling us outside to watch the glorious sunsets paint our mountains. He used my husband’s songwriting ability to focus me on the wonders of Creation and Creator.

Whereas I was immune to the amazing weather we experience nine months of the year, He forced me to appreciate it, setting my husband to the task of making a mini-paradise in our backyard. There we have enjoyed hours of simple fun, exercise, laughter, and togetherness.

When I grew oblivious to the remarkable day-trip destinations that surround us, He filled my camera with pictures of the stunning places we have been, possible only because of where we live.

Discontent clutters the mind, contaminates the soul, and saps life of joy.

Contentment is not a right. It is a battle. It is a struggle. It is a prize. If I cannot be content right here in our desert valley, then I cannot be content anywhere. I would like to say with Paul that I have learned to be content in all things….but I’d like to forgo the circumstances that brought him to that truth! No shipwrecks for me, thank you! I’ll stick with my beautiful desert.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on tips to declutter the discontentment.

Returning to a Simple Life


The calendar is packed. The closets are overflowing. The list of wonderful activities you have planned with the children is so long it needs its own filing cabinet. You spend your whole life planning and organizing, trying to do everything, afraid you’ll miss something. And in the process, you miss everything.

Does this sound familiar? Life has become far too complicated.  There is too much lined up demanding your attention. Your home, your calendar, your mind is filled with clutter. The result? Stress! Anxiety! Missing life!

It is time to clear your queue!  It is time to say farewell to unrealistic expectations.  It is time to get rid of the weight cluttering your life, ruining your family time and stealing the joy God intended for you.  Today is the day to get back to the basics and start enjoying the simple beauty of an uncluttered life.

Join me as I too clear my queue and return to a simple home, a simple faith, a simple life.