Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

HHP: Planning & Paperwork

Late in September, I wrote an article about choosing a Christmas organization plan, and about which plan I decided to try (see 90 Days!). At the time, I was late to the process; but not to be discouraged, I decided to work steadily on completing the tasks as they were assigned.

Quoting directly from the Houseworks webpage:
Part book club, part organizing schedule, the Houseworks Holiday Plan [HPP] is an 18-week holiday plan designed to help you clean and organize your home in time for the holiday season --- and take care of seasonal preparations, too.
Each week, participants are given a reading assignment from the book House Works: Cut the Clutter, Speed Your Cleaning, and Calm the Chaos by Cynthia Townley Ewer. This is called your weekly focus. For week one, the topic was decluttering your home. I read through this information one afternoon while my daughter was in music composition class and found it quite helpful. Ms. Ewer began by outlining a clutter cessation method she calls STOP: Sort, Toss, Organize, and Put Away. She also discussed some declutter strategies, as well as some ways to keep the clutter from returning once it has been culled. The best part, though, was determining my “clutter personality.” Given the checklist and the descriptions in the book, I figure I am a deferrer and a perfectionist, with a touch of sentimentalist. The counterproductive part is that my husband is also a deferrer and a perfectionist, with a touch of rebel. Is it any wonder we got married --- common ground with enough opposite to attract? But I digress…

The week one reading assignment also covered the creation of “Information Central,” that place in your home where you perform essential household organizational tasks: menu planning, bill paying, event scheduling, and the like. For me (currently), that would be wherever my laptop happens to be; however, I know from past experience that if I have a space with a comfortable chair and a desk, I will sit there to complete organizational tasks, so long as I can plug my headphones into a movie or some music while I work. So, as I stated in a previous article, my house task for week one is to create “Information Central” by decluttering my desk, and by deciding which desk to use --- the one in my living room or the one in my family room. I have a comfortable new chair for each one, thanks to a great sale at Target and the repair abilities of my darling husband.

As for the Christmas preparation half of the Houseworks Holiday Plan, those tasks are known as the “holiday prep checklist.” For week one, they included:

- making a promise to spend some time each day preparing for Christmas
- setting up a Christmas notebook
- completing a family values worksheet
- creating a Christmas planning activity center
- establishing a holiday budget
- considering a Christmas savings plan
- beginning a master gift list

So, how am I doing on those, you ask? Not bad. I work on some Christmas-related task every day. I already have a holiday planning notebook. I completed the family values worksheet. I have a Christmas club account into which I have deposited $200/month since January 2007, so funds for early shopping are not a problem. I also started a master gift list. The only task not yet tackled is the creation of a Christmas planning center. In my house, that is much the same as creating “Information Central.” Looks like I should be/will be working hard on my desk space.

If you would like to find a Christmas organization plan to use for your holiday tasks, check out for some great ideas.

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