Don’t Do Everything at Once – Just Do the Next Thing

New Year’s is rolling around, which means both looking back at the year that passed and making plans for the year to come.  And those resolutions…yikes!  We all want to eat more healthy food and less junk, exercise more…or just exercise at all, become more organized, improve time management…and the list goes on and on.  And for some, those resolutions will be completely shot by the end of the first week.  Why?

It is simple.  Too much too fast is too overwhelming.  If you want to succeed, you just need to do the next thing.

It was one of the best pieces of advice I received when I started Crossfit.  I wanted to be stronger, eat cleaner, and be a competitor within the next six weeks.  A little unrealistic?  Absolutely.  And those who were wiser said to me not to try to do everything at once because I would get freaked out and overwhelmed.  They were absolutely right.

I simply needed to do the next thing.  Become very consistent with training. THEN stay hydrated.  THEN begin to eliminate grains from my diet by changing one meal at a time.  None of this happens overnight.  As I worked, I had to focus on doing the next thing.  One good decision led to another.  And all of the good decisions I made were never to be negated by one or two bad ones.  This allowed me to be human.  I love that; I am allowed to be imperfect.

So if you are looking to make changes in your life, determine a realistic goal.  The heavy emphasis here is on realistic.  You will not lose 20 pounds in the next month, or clean the clutter out of your entire house and have everything properly filed in the next two weeks.  Be honest with yourself.  Then, break this down into a series of achievable steps.  If you want to become more organized with your time, start with something simple – perhaps finding an app that you will use and using it for a few days.  Then add from there.  Doing the next thing will help you build up to achieving your goal.

Do not doom yourself with a list of resolutions that serve no purpose than to overwhelm you and make you feel as if you have in some way failed.  No good can come from that.  Choose ONE realistic thing to do at a time, do it well, and then add the next thing.  You CAN succeed with that.

Just do the next thing.  Nothing more.

Handle Your Holiday Leftovers

Leftovers…they have taken over your refrigerator.  And you need to start sorting all of that out and making sure that it does not go to waste.  So what do you do?

  1.  Freeze the meat in dinner or single portion sizes.
  2. If you have a ham bone, freeze that as well.  It would be great to flavor beans at a later date.
  3. Save the turkey bones to make turkey broth later.  You can do the same thing with beef bones.  I freeze mine and then make broth when I have more time.
  4. Make turkey or ham salad for sandwiches.  Simply dice your protein, add Greek yogurt or sour cream or mayo, and then add pickles or cranberries or any combination of ingredients that you like.
  5. Leftover beef can be served on tortillas or in lettuce wraps.
  6. Use leftover raw veggies and leftover protein for a stir fry.
  7. Make soup out of the remaining veggies.   Serve with leftover bread and/or salad.
  8. Make a frittata with some of the leftovers.  Add veggies, and maybe a bit of the stuffing or ham or turkey or all of them, to a skillet.  Sauté the veggies in your fat of choice just to warm them a bit, and then add egg whites or several beaten eggs.  Add cheese if you would like, and then cook the eggs until they begin to set (just leave them there – don’t stir).  Put skillet in broiler to finish cooking.  Cool for a few minutes and then slice and serve with the leftover salad.
  9. Make a hash.  Dice some of the leftover meat.  Add that and some potatoes to the skillet.  Add additional veggies.  Cook until potatoes are lightly brown.  Serve with the leftover salad.
  10. Have a leftover potluck with your neighbors.  Make this as informal as you can; maybe watch football or play games.  This works well with leftover desserts.
  11. Make open face sandwiches using the leftover bread.
  12. Cornbread does freeze well, so you can save that for later.
  13. Pack leftovers in divided containers so that you can take them to work for lunches.
  14. Take it to work or to an appropriate gathering and share it.

Be realistic.  If you are not going to be able to consume the leftovers in a reasonable amount of time, you may have to throw some things out.  I hate to waste, too, but there does come a point in time where it is just no longer safe.

Last Thoughts – All Done by December 01

It is the day before Christmas, and did “All Done by December 01” work?  How did I do?

Not too bad.  Here is what was accomplished:

  1.  Shopping was done early.  I did not spend much time at all in the big box stores – one trip in and out.  OHMYGOSH that was so nice.
  2. Calendar was set early in the game, and we pretty much stuck to it.  This made it easier for my poor husband, who has a very strange work schedule, and hates missing events or running late to get there.  He was able to make events because we planned in advance.
  3. Cards were ordered a bit late, and they are going out a bit late.  Some people may be getting them close to New Year’s.  The fault on that on is mine.  We had the cards at the end of the first week in December, but I did not get them addressed and sent out in time.  I think next year, I will do labels to make the process faster.
  4. Meals were made in advance and frozen.  I also planned meals so that I could shop efficiently and make the best use of my coupons.  The drive through was not an option.
  5. I have not decorated every horizontal surface in my house.  I am feeling far less cluttered, and it will not take nearly as long to take all of this stuff down.
  6. I scheduled time just for me – not so that I could run around doing errands, but so that I could run. I had been training for months, but I still needed the time to train for a half marathon. I ran it last weekend, and beat my old time by over an hour.

The system does work, and despite being behind on the cards, it did give me the valuable gift of time.  Not only have we been able to do a few extra fun things as a family, it gave my son breathing room during those difficult last few weeks of school.  Those last few weeks are when there are tests and projects and finals in all of the class, which all demand attention and time.  This year, he had that.

Are there things I would do differently next year?  Sure.

I would order cards earlier and make labels.

I would wrap gifts along the way.

I would start brainstorming and shopping earlier next year, just to take even more pressure off.

But I absolutely will do this again next year.

It is December 01 – Am I All Done?

Well, here it is at the deadline – December 01.  Am I all done?

Honestly, not exactly, but I am pretty darn close.

I am down to two gifts – one of which I just need to call and order on Monday.  Yes, indeedy, call and order; this organization does not do online sales.  No biggie.  I can use a phone.  The other I am still trying to narrow down.  It is coming along, though.  And if I am at this date and have so few gifts left to purchase, I am calling it a win.

Cards are ordered and will not take long to get ready to be sent out.

Calendar is mapped out and we have taken time off for our own time together.  I even have a few races scheduled so I have a reason to keep training during this season.

Several nights worth of meals are in the freezer.  Plus the food for lunches this week is already prepared and in the fridge.

So I am heading back to school today for the last three weeks of the semester.  That, in and of itself, is pretty hectic.  Not having the additional pressure of having to “do Christmas stuff” is going to make a world of difference again this year.  I will have that valuable time in the evenings and on weekends to spend with friends and family, and not running through the mall in a panic trying to find that perfect gift. That was what was important to me this year.

Hoping that your All Done by December 01 worked well for you, and that you truly enjoy this less stressful Christmas season.

All Done by December 01 – Weeks 4 and 5

How is the All Done by December 01 going?

Well, I got behind on blogging last week, but I am not as far behind as what I thought I would be.

Week four – last week – was about planning entertainment for the season.  Most importantly, block out some days that will just be for you and your family.  Keep those blocked out.  This is a step toward slowing down the craziness of the season, which we all want to do.  Then, think about those activities that you go to just because you “always go.”  If it is not something that you and your family truly enjoy attending, take the year off from it.  Keep the remainder of your entertaining simple and casual.  Potlucks of any kind, cookie exchanges, or just meeting for coffee would be great ideas.  A simple cookie exchange, or in the interest of tacky fun, a Pinterest “nailed it” party could substitute for a more complicated party.

And let’s face it – very few people can really “nail” something from Pinterest.

Week five is about your food plan.  What can you make ahead of time to ease your stress?  I love my crock pot, so I need to spend some time using it this week to prepare some meals that I can put in my freezer.  I have several recipes on the blog.  If you are a baker, you can make your cookies and breads ahead of time and freeze them as well.  These will also be the weeks to clip those coupons and stock up on those meal prep items.  I caught a coupon for those tiny oranges this week, as well as one for organic raw sugar, and that almost never happens.  Check your ads and shop wisely because the food for the season does not have to cost a squillion dollars.

So what have I done?

  1.  Made a gift list and a budget.
  2. Purchased some gifts.
  3. Made some meals ahead of time.
  4. Started stocking up on some of the food items and am clipping coupons.
  5. Blocked out dates on the calendar.
  6. Registered to run some races so I have to keep training – me time!
  7. Reviewed the Christmas Card list

What do I need to do?

  1.  Purchase remainder of the gifts.
  2. Wrap gifts.
  3. Order Christmas cards – behind on this one; taking pictures this weekend
  4. Make some additional meals.
  5. Decorate
  6. Start Christmas baking

There is not that much left, and it is only November 18!  Plenty of time to finish the list.

No stress this season!

All Done by December 01 – Week 3

Well, here we are at week three, and we are making some progress toward avoiding the Christmas-Time Crazy.

So what to work on this week?

Buying a few more of those gifts is the first thing on the list. Just a few things each week will add up to having it all completed very soon.

Now is also the time to work on those Christmas cards. My email box has been full of offers for Christmas cards over the past week, so now is the time to take advantage of that.  Although those professional photographer pictures are lovely on the cards – we did those last year since we had not had photos done since my 15 year old was a toddler – they are not essential.  I’ve loved the cards I have received with those silly photos that we take on our cameras throughout the year.  Remember that you do not have to be perfect this season.  Just have some fun.

Also, go over the Christmas card list. It may be time to do a little pruning on that as well.  Narrow down exactly who you want to wish a Merry Christmas, and go with it.

So in three weeks, we have established a budget, started to list out and purchase gifts, ordered those Christmas cards, and maybe even started addressing them.

I don’t know about you, but I am feeling much less stressed already.

All Done by December 01 – Week Two

Week one of “All Done by December 01” was the budget meeting. We made our list, checked it twice, and determined our budget for this Christmas, all the way down to stamps for the Christmas cards.

Week two of this process is to begin brainstorming gifts and starting to obtain them. Let’s be honest – the malls at Christmas are a trip through Crazy Town that I want to avoid at all costs because I already have enough weirdness in my life.  So this is not all about trying to get the gifts purchased this week, but is really about trying to do a little bit at a time and avoid that trip through Crazy Town.

Now is the time to start accumulating those coupons and special offers. Seriously, how many coupons do you get from Bed, Bath, and Beyond?  Start gathering those now, and start using those now.  Watch your ads and start shopping.  Use those reward points you have been saving all year.  Also start thinking about some out of the big box store gifts for people.  What are their hobbies or interests?  Favorite teams?  Places to visit?  Remember, the focus needs to be not on finding the most expensive gift, but finding one that is meaningful to the recipient.  And the recipient will never know if you used a coupon.

Also, if you have children, now is a good time to start thinking about those teacher gifts as well. Another source of stress is trying to rush around at the last second to find the perfect gift, so start chipping away at that list now.

Now is not the time to harness yourself to a hundred different Pinterest projects unless you truly have the time and energy to devote to those.

Remember, a little at a time, and you will get it “All Done by December 01.”