Keeping a Record of Your Project Progress Helps Keeps You Motivated

“Progress is one of the most motivating feelings for the human mind. You need to have some way to visualise that; some way to see that you’re progressing.”

James Clear, on Dr Chatterjee’s Feel Better Live More podcast #145

Just wanted to jump on here and update you on my current home projects for this year which are going really well and making me feel quite calm and organised. In the past, I’m not sure if I would have used both of these words in the same sentence, but that just goes to show how I’m feeling right now.

By writing down in words the progress I have made to date it’s definitely going to help me to feel more motivated.

Project 1: Cleaning

I have been using The Organised Mum Method (TOMM or #teamtomm) for cleaning since Monday 4 January (I can hear a cheer from Vikki Thompson – selfcare365 😀 as I know she’s been using the same method but has been doing it for a lot longer than me).

Cleaning is something we all need to do whether we like it or not, but in the past I’ve focused on the tidying up and decluttering rather than the cleaning. I never really had a routine; I’ve tried but always given up with it. For this reason, I decided to start an already established routine and TOMM is working for me.

I will be treating cleaning as a project for a couple of months and then once embedded it will become a way of life. Certain areas haven’t had my attention for a while and I need to get them under control. Every day has daily tasks that need to be done as well as certain rooms getting done on certain days. All rooms including the outdoor areas are also on an eight week rotation.

Being only on day 13 at the moment, with more focused cleaning on Fridays, it’s only the lounge and the kitchen that have had the most attention so far (although I have used her Bootcamp section of the app to do additional cleaning in other rooms). This should mean that after a couple of months I will be able to relax a bit more… I hope.

The TOMM app costs £4.99 but it was well worth it just to see the smiley face telling me that I’ve done my cleaning for the day. The weekends are also pretty free because you only have to do the 15 minute light clean each day. This keeps the weekends free for my other projects, and to rest.

As at yesterday I am on a 12 day streak (yeah!)…

… and apart from the hard work of cleaning the kitchen kickboards last night so that I could tick it off the app, it’s not been too bad. I had to get on my hands and knees and scrub and it certainly was a workout in itself!

How can I see that I’m progressing? I’m able to track my progress on the app. The highlight for me so far is that everyone in the house has noticed how clean the main areas are looking and I am so up to date with the washing (and this includes towels and sheets). There have been days where I have actually had to go looking for some washing (e.g. bathroom mats) in order to tick the task off the app. I really don’t think that will be necessary going forward as I may just give myself a day off washing once a week or use that time to do come decluttering of clothes. Now, that’s an idea!

Project 2: A Year to Clear

I mentioned Stephanie Bennett Vogt’s book Your Spacious Self quite a few times during my decluttering blogs last year (click here to see the post that sums up my 2020 decluttering challenge). When I discovered that she had two other books I researched which one I should read next and ordered a copy of A Year to Clear. I made a start on this at the beginning of the month and it has been a life changer so far. It’s also achievable to read and absorb the day’s contents as it’s only a half to one page each day. Sometimes I want to read more, but instead I spend that time making notes and draw my interpretation of the day’s message – example below from day 2.

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There is No Clearing Without Self-Care

I had no idea when I wrote the post Thirteen Days in Decluttering Mode last year, that it’s more difficult to clear the clutter when you’re not balancing it with lots of self-care.

I got better at the self-care towards the second half of last year; however, I was still crazy busy all the time. This year has been very different in terms of making sure that I have ample time for myself every day.

Stephanie Bennett Vogt has taught me a lot in her book A Year to Clear which I’m working through this year in an attempt to eliminate more of the clutter. On day 13 of the book she says…

Compassion is the feel good principle of clearing. When we feel safe, supported, and good we are more likely to let go.

A Year to Clear, Stephanie Bennett Vogt

Whether you are struggling to clear the clutter, or just busy all of the time, have a think about how you can add more self-care into your day.

Until next time…


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Sometimes It’s the Little Steps That Make Me Feel the Most Organised

We’ve done loads to the house lately in terms of renovation and decorating but sometimes it’s the little changes that make me smile the most.

As I took the tea towels out of the dryer today and folded them up, I thought about the basket I organised the other day and it made me smile.

Organising the tea towels

I used to just roughly fold up the tea towels and throw them in the basket, as I didn’t think I had time to do anything better than that. The basket got filled up quickly causing an overflow situation which meant that the spare tea towels got left on the side.

Now I just fold them lengthways twice, roll them flat and pop them in the basket. I was shocked that the small basket was able to hold 15 tea towels, and this whole process gave me the opportunity to take out the older looking ones and use them as rags.

As I said, it’s the little things 😀.

Until next time…


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A 41 Year Old Jigsaw Gave us Three Hours of Family Time

A zodiac jigsaw 1979

In an attempt to get through the stack of jigsaws taking up space in my house (so that we can see which ones we want/don’t want to keep), I got out the second jigsaw so far this year. We started the first 1000 piece one on New Year’s Day (Starting the New Year With a Jigsaw) which only took us around 3-4 days.

This zodiac jigsaw was one that I received from my mum and dad in 1979 when I was just a 10 years old (I’d written my name and the year on both sides of the lid of the box 😊). You might wonder why I still have it… well, my mum and dad are like me, they keep things and they gave it to me with a bunch of books and other memories a year or so ago. I think it was on one of those socially distanced days out to see them in Herne Bay last year.

As we’d only just put the other jigsaw away a day or so ago, I didn’t think that the rest of the family would want to do another one so soon. How wrong was I? No sooner had I tipped the pieces onto the table, they gathered round to make a start on sorting the edges from the middle bits; however, this jigsaw was very different to the standard ones. It was round for a start and had different sections and it was quite difficult to get the edges to stay together at first. They almost lost interest.

We all persevered and actually had quite a bit of fun, and you’ll never guess what… we finished it within a few hours. All 499 pieces of it! That’s right, it had a piece missing, but as the jigsaw is 41 years old, I’m not sure if we’ll find it now 😂.

So, the questions is… should I keep the jigsaw or get rid of it? I can’t give it away with a piece missing… or can I?

Until next time…


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Two Thoughts On Clutter Build Up, and A New Cleaning Routine

(1) I still have too much stuff that I ought to get rid of

(2) If I get rid of something that I later regret, I can always buy it again

Even though I spent 366 days eliminating clutter from my home, my garden and my mind last year, and got rid of 40 charity bags full of stuff and so much rubbish and recycling, the fact is that I still have too much stuff. Stephanie Bennett Vogt defines clutter as…

“Anything that gets in the way of experiencing our true nature and best life”

A Year to Clear, Stephanie Bennett Vogt

I’m on Day 4 in her book A Year to Clear, and she describes that clutter comes in many forms, for example… physical, mental and emotional. The exercise at the end of today says to think about how clutter shows up in your life and also what it stops you accomplishing.

I jotted down that it comes into my life in the following ways:

  • Recycling
  • Things to return to shops
  • Unwanted clothes
  • Items with no home
  • Items to sell/donate
  • Things that require a decision
  • Rubbish

Lots to think about to stop the clutter building up again. How does clutter build up in your life?

Waking up early this morning to a new cleaning routine

I don’t know why I woke up so early this morning. Maybe I was excited to be starting the The Orgainsing Mum Method approach to cleaning. I dowloaded the app and got to work on Monday’s task which is the living room and then I started the level 1 daily tasks.

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Checking up on My 2020 Processes: Filing Receipts

In an attempt not to make the same mistakes as last year, I turned to the very first post of my 2020 challenge and found that I had created a concertina file for receipts and placed it in the kitchen cupboard. I sort of stopped putting the receipts in there around August/September. I know it was around this date because I found a lot of loose receipts thrown into the cupboard instead of actually filing them in the concertina file. Why did I stop? Was the space too awkward to get to?

The answer was yes. The shelf above it was stopping me seeing into anything past the first few months of the year in the concertina file and it was difficult to pull the whole thing out. I decided that it needed moving, so I filed the loose receipts into the relevant monthly slots. After that, I took out all of the January 2020 receipts and put them in the slot labelled 20 (for the year 2020 if you didn’t work that one out 😃), and so that I can start using the January slot for this year.

The concertina file was only meant to be a temporary solution last year until I found something better but I never did, so I’m going to continue with it for now and put the whole thing in a more accessible place e.g. in the temporary filing cabinet in the study. I’m attending an online course on paperwork in a few days so you never know, I might find a new and better solution for receipts.

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Starting the New Year With an Appropriately Titled Jigsaw

‘Life in the slow lane’ jigsaw

What an appropriate jigsaw to do to mark the start of a year where I want to start taking life at a slower pace. Thank you Mum for lending me this last year, I never noticed the title until today 😀.

Today has been a quiet one, pottering about tidying up and also lounging around listening to podcasts and audio books. One particular podcast was by Dr Rangan Chatterjee interviewing Edith Eger. It had such powerful messages in it that I had to make some notes. My notebooks were right there in the drawer next to me from when I sorted out the drawer the other day.

I’ve also downloaded Edith Eger’s book called The Gift which is about her life as a therapist and a Holocaust survivor. The stories of her life and the lives of her patience are very interesting and eye opening so far.

I know that I said that I wasn’t going to post daily this year but during a lovely Skype with my mum and dad this afternoon, my dad said how much he enjoys getting up in the morning to read my posts. So, I thought I’d sneak this one in for you dad!

Until next time…


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Day 366: Wrapping up 2020 From a Clear and Calm Space

This is one of my calm spaces that I’ve created this year for me to sit, relax, think, write and reflect on life…

My calming space

So, here I am at the end of 2020 having written consistently for 366 days about decluttering and clearing space. I still can’t believe that the idea I had on 1st January 2020 to clear one thing, would grow into what it did. My 2020 challenge wording changed a few times throughout the year but I settled on the final wording around mid-year which I turned into the affirmation below:

“I have a clear and organised space in my home, my garden and my mind”

My 2020 Challenge, Sandra Madeira

What I achieved on my journey was far more than I imagined. In fact, I didn’t really have a plan at all, I was just going to clear, clear and clear some more until it was all sorted out. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, but I’ve learnt so much along the way, particularly about myself. I’ve also learnt to ask for help, have rest when I feel overwhelmed and that I can’t do everything.

I’ve listened to various authors’ books on topics such as happiness, cleaning, decluttering, clearing and so on. They have been an inspiration to me and kept me going when I really felt overwhelmed. So too have you, my readers, and followers. I have loved reading your encouraging comments and tips. Thank you 😊.

So, did I achieve my challenge?

I’m proud of what I’ve achieved this year. Just to have most rooms finished is enough for me to acknowledge that I’ve completed my challenge. Realistically I was never going to get everything done. The house is looking and feeling clearer and tidier and when I asked my girls this evening how I’d done with my challenge, they said ‘really well’ which means a lot to me.

My plan for 2021 is to continue with the program of work that I’ve started and to get the last two rooms decorated. I’ll also be adding in a cleaning routine and trying to stick to it in order to keep on top of things. I’ll definitely be taking things at a slower pace, working on my inner self and adding in lots more self care and reflection time.

Some challenges thrown in throughout this year

  • Covid-19 and two lockdowns shook things up a bit; however, we were all fortunate to be able to work and do schooling from home and stay safe. This brought with it some challenges in terms of finding places around the home for desks that we could work at. Adding to that we were all in the house every day and had to juggle having builders in working around us (or not depending on the restrictions).
  • Renovation work wasn’t on the agenda at the beginning of the year but one decision to move my daughter into the study, opened up a whole program of work for me to manage which resulted in a new en-suite bathroom, skimmed/plastered ceilings, spotlights throughout the house, and many rooms decorated. This made me feel quite overwhelmed at times, but ended up speeding up the decluttering process because as each room got finished, we only put back in the the room what we wanted in there.
  • Qualifying as a coach was something that I achieved last month. It’s something that I have been working on for the whole year through work alongside my day job as a Finance Systems Manager. It was a challenge to fit in, but I’m so pleased that I did it.

A few posts I’d like to highlight

There have been many highlights in the year and I can’t list all 366 of them; however, I’ve chosen a selection of my favourite 2020 posts below:

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Day 365: Moving the Filing Cabinet, and Realising That the Real Me Isn’t Surrounded By Clutter and Stress

If it wasn’t a leap year, today would have been the final day of my 2020 challenge; however, as it turns out I have an extra day to clear something. How about that! There are still a few things left on my list that I want to achieve by the end of the year, or to at least have set the wheels in motion for next year.

After work this afternoon, I cooked two meals: chilli con carne and lasagne (a sneaky move to stop me having to cook on New Year’s Eve). I then had some quiet time reading and reflecting on the questions on Day 3 in A Year to Clear by Stephanie Bennett Vogt.

The daily exploring exercises are already stirring the thoughts in my head and making me realise that there’s someone quite calm inside me waiting for the clutter and stress to disappear, and I’m in control of that. I’ve had moments of clarity and calmness throughout this year already, but now I understand that this is the real me. It’s quite encouraging and very exciting.

What did I clear today?

One of the things on my list of ‘must dos’ before the end of the year is to move the old filing cabinet out of my daughter’s new room. I don’t really know why it was still in there other than the fact that when the desk got moved to our bedroom (so that my husband could use it to work) the filing cabinet got left behind. I then piled old sheets and plastic covers on top of it because we still have a bit of painting to do in my daughter’s room (something we said we might do over the weekend).

Moving the filing cabinet

I also remembered that there was no room for the filing cabinet in our bedroom, and because we’d rather sell the matching desk and cabinet together, I needed to find somewhere for the heavy thing to live until we are ready to sell it (whenever that may be).

So, where did I put it?

With careful thought, I moved it to the study; my lovely new and almost tidy room. I know what you’re thinking… I’m filling the room up again, but I had a bit of a plan. Paperwork and filing is on my list for January and I currently don’t have anywhere to put papers once I’ve sorted them all. Although this cabinet is already filled with ‘old’ filing, it will give me the opportunity to go through it if it’s in the same room as my desk.

I’m also making the assumption that most of the papers in the filing cabinet will be discarded, leaving room for more up to date filing. The two drawer cabinet has hanging files so I’ll be able to easily drop papers into the folders with no hole punching required. Nice and easy! I might still need to have a few lever arch files in the desk cupboard, but I’ll work all that out when I start the mammoth task of paperwork. Looking forward to that joy… not!

Anyway, my daughter was happy that she had a clear space in the corner of her room for the first time since she moved in there, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she uses it for.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow will be the final day of my 2020 challenge, so it might be a long post as I have a lot of thoughts going around in my head to sum up the year. I might need to start writing it early as I’ll want to have finished and posted it before we start seeing in the New Year 🎉🍾.

Hope you’ve all had a good day.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 364: Planning Ahead, and a Home for My Journals at Last

I woke up and remembered that I had to work today and did so until 5.30pm with a short break for lunch where I tidied the kitchen. Then it was time to cook dinner, do the washing, put out the bins etc., and tend to questions and requests from the family as they hadn’t seen me all day. I stopped to do my own thing around 9pm.

With just a couple of days left on my 2020 challenge, I’ve been getting a head start on next year’s challenge which is to work through A Year to Clear by Stephanie Bennett Vogt and at the same time reflect on my own daily posts of 2020. This way I can mop up what I missed.

I sat quietly and read through day 2 in the book (having made notes on day 1 yesterday). I’m going to go at a slower pace next year and use the principles described in the first few pages of the book as follows:

“Observing and allowing events to unfold without doing, changing or fixing the outcome”

A Year to Clear by Stephanie Bennett Vogt

I already feel like I’m observing myself and slowing down.

So, what did I clear today?

As I sat at the desk in the study listening to relaxing music, I thought about the desk drawers and how I would feel if they were empty. With that thought, I opened the top drawer and took everything out. My daughter didn’t mind me putting it all in her room. It was mainly make up in there all tidy in dividing boxes and I’m surprised she hasn’t missed it. It was then that I realised that she’s been in her new room for over two months. I spotted a hairdryer in the second drawer as well and realised that she must have two. One can be decluttered I think!

Just seeing the empty desk drawer made me feel happy. I vacuumed it with my small hand held cleaner and thought that it was big enough to hold quite a few of my journals that are currently tightly packed into my bedside drawers in our bedroom with a load of other bits and bobs (sorting those drawers is another job for another day!)

It always fills me with dread opening any of my three bedside drawers as there really isn’t any room to move in there. Not a single additional thing has been able to get into there for a very long time and I’m sure there are items that have fallen down the back. All I usually get out of there is my current journal which I write in from time to time when I can’t sleep. Seeing as I haven’t had many issues with sleeping this year, I haven’t written in it as much as I’d liked to have done… but then I have been blogging daily.

In each drawer there were old notebooks and journals large and small going right back to 2009 at least. I took them all out (which left a bit of room) and took them to the study.

Finding an empty drawer for journals

These aren’t all of my journals as I found quite a few in the wardrobes that we had knocked out recently.

The trouble with me picking up old journals is that once I get my hands on them, I just have to read snippets from them. I have so much material for blogs in the future it’s unbelievable. I tend to write my worries and thoughts on paper in an attempt to find answers and even if I didn’t find answers back then, I would probably have some words of advice to give to my old self now. It’s easy once you’ve been there and done that.

Anyway, after about half an hour of reminiscing, I placed all of the books in the drawer and went to run a bath. It felt good to finally have a drawer dedicated to these books. It seems silly hiding them away when I could be learning from them and seeing how much I’ve progressed (or not in some cases).

Once I sort out my bedroom and locate the other journals that I found a few months ago, they will all be in one place in the study. I might need to use all three drawers in the desk though as there are a lot!

Time to relax now.

Until tomorrow…


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