If you’re wondering how an all-out paint covered mess of a human being starts to put her life back together after a year of 150-year-old house related insanity… let me just tell you, in involves a lot of lists. It involves lists of my lists. Okay, and that part where I built a tweleve-foot long desk to hold all of my crap. But mostly lists.
There were two parts to my January goals. The first was to keep up with my big themes for the year:
- Not frantically jumping from project to project — I’m adhering strictly to my 5 project list in all versions of reality that don’t require me to drop everything, build a stall in my barn, install a fence, and pump 4″ of water out of my basement in the same week.
- Work in my sketchbook/journal twice a week — I’ve been working off my 104 Journal prompts a couple of times a week, and it’s been a great to have little no-pressure creative time in my week. Some of my journal work as actually sparked ideas for larger wall art in the house, once I knock a few things off my current project list (stairs, I’m looking at you)
- Stop the madness every night — Eh. I’ve been both exceptionally good and exceptionally bad at adhering to my 9:30 PM quit-time. Oddly enough, on my vacation days last week I actually went to be and got up earlier than any other time in the last year (maybe because I wasn’t trying to cram so much shit into a particular day?) but the addition of farm chores to my morning routine pretty much ensures I’ll be going to bed earlier these days.
- Making time for others — The last few years of my life have pretty much been a constant litany of “I can’t, I’m working on the house” whenever anyone asked me to do anything. But now more than ever I’m giving myself permission to say yes, even if it means putting off house projects for another day. There might be a little less sawdust in my life some days because of this, but there sure is a lot of awesome.
And, specific to my Get Your Shit Together theme for January:
Create a budget and bill paying system –– This is about as much fun as having an inch-long splinter shoved under your fingernail, but with a few evenings spent with my spreadsheets (and more than one bottle of wine) I’ve got a pretty good handle on my finances. Which basically means that instead of thinking that maybe my eyeball should be twitching because of how much it costs to heat a big old house with fuel-oil, I know my eyeball should be twitching. Probably I should invest in an eye patch. But this is what it costs to live in an old-ass farmhouse, and it’s worth every penny.
The other thing that has made a huge difference in managing and paying my bills is the Pageonce app… it had a lot of great reviews, and let me just tell you something, this thing probably singlehandedly just saved my bill-paying ass. For real.
I’m not going to be able to sing all of the praises due this thing (you just have to check it out) but I’ll tell you a few of my favorite features:
- It gives me a look at all of my finances at a glace. It took me about 10 minutes to set up almost all of my bank accounts and bills in the app, and I can see how much money I have available how much I should have going out in upcoming bills (and what it looks like if I pay my minimums on credit cards vs the whole balance).
- All I have to do to see my info is enter my 4 digit pin instead of logging in to 15 separate apps or websites
- I can pay my bills right through the app, and it costs about as much as a postage stamp
- I can also log directly in to any of my online accounts right through the app if there are other details I want to see
- It sends updates to my phone in a non-annoying way. And not just about bills that are due, but it also monitors the minutes on my wifi hotspot (hey, there is no DSL in the middle of nowhere) and let’s me know when I’m getting close to my limit. Super handy.
- It is in my pocket. The biggest hardest thing for me isn’t that I never remember to pay my bills, it’s that I remember when I’m in the middle of my hour drive into work, or right before I go to bed, or when I’m using my drill… I do not remember when I’m sitting at my desk with nothing to do and a checkbook in front of me. The fact that I can pay bills from anywhere with just a couple of taps on the screen? Game changing.
Creating a house calendar for maintenance– Next up was organizing maintenance tasks for the house. While it would be nice to have an app that gives me a small electrical jolt when I need to check the level of the fuel oil, I haven’t found one that will be quite that useful, so I went old-school instead, and build this chalkboard calendar:
I also started a very long list of maintenance tasks, compiled from several monthly home maintenance checklists and my own brain.
The idea is that I can take a look at this list each month as I re-do my chalkboard dates (or my 5 project list) and see what needs to be added to my ever-growing to-do list.
Finding a spot for important things– Here’s a post-christmas miracle, last week when my well tank exploded with the force of a small bomb (exaggeration), the basement turned into a wading pool, and Newt the salamander moved in, I needed to write a check while simultaneously moving the water pump around the basement and taking a work call… and I knew right where my checkbook was.
Making a concerted effort to get the office in working order helped, so most of my important things do have a “spot”, albeit not a permanent one. I’m keeping my eye out for an old metal filing cabinet or something similar, but in the meantime, my current system seems to be working.
Putting together lists and budgets for upcoming projects — And this is the one thing on my Get Your Shit Together list that I haven’t even touched yet. With the donkeys, the stairs, the imminent sanding of the dining room floor, and sprucing up the guest bedrooms, I feel like starting a new “big” project is at least a month or two off… and frankly, I’ve had enough of looking at spreadsheets for the time being.
So, that’s January. And it only took until the middle of February to write about it. Good news is that I still have a couple of weeks left to make headway on my February themes:
- Writing love notes to friends and strangers.
- Spending one-on-one time with as many people as I can.
- Reading an epic love story.
- Writing or creating something from the heart.
Anyone have any recommendations for an epic love story?
UPDATE: I went with The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Fantastic book. Fast paced, funny, tragic, with an undercurrent of truth… definitely an epic love story.