Operation Organization

Time Management: A Full-Circle Attitude Adjustment

Posted by on Jul 5, 2012 | 3 comments

Hello Crafting Crazy friends!  I’m sure it seems a bit like crickets chirping here at my corner of the internet.  I will say that potty training a 3-year-old boy, dealing with a sick dog, and learning so much behind-the-scenes  material about blogging and photography has really thrown my brain for a loop. So today, I’m throwing out some material that I shared way back in April over at Chronically Distracted.  It’s actually very timely for me- I need to re-evaluate my time-management…. yet again!   I’d love to hear how you do it, too.  We can always learn from each other, right?  Enjoy!


I’ll be honest here: I’m really a bit of a mess these days.  I’ve gone through a huge transition (for me) in the last eight months, and I’m still sorting myself out.  Here’s my backstory in bullet form:

  • elementary music teacher for 12 years
  • had three kids between 2007 & 2011.  Bam-bam-bam (done).
  • After becoming a mom, I didn’t want to teach anymore.  I wanted to be with my babes, but had to wait a bit.
  • Resigned from teaching in June of 2011.  Hooray!
  • Took on dreams and reality.  Dreams= being with kids, crafting & blogging.  Reality= we ain’t got no cash flow! Must earn cash!
  • Took on a WAH job that I love, but this new life is throwing me for a loop!

There ya go- me in a six-bullet-nutshell.

Today I’m going to share with you my full-circle journey in time management.  I say full-circle because while I have learned a lot in the last few months, I still feel like I am right back where I was when I started.  The difference?  My attitude is much more relaxed about time management than it was when I started because I made some minor changes in my approach.

What I wanted was to have a picture perfect day-to-day life.  I wanted to play with my kids, keep my house clean, work, craft, blog, cook, be a wife, and smile through it all.  Instead, I found myself tumbling into bed at night feeling stressed out that I didn’t get enough done, and wondering how I was going to “catch up” the next day.  I was also short-fused with my kids- I was inflexible with them and it showed.  It was time for a change.  Some action.  Some order.  So I got some books and I started reading about time management and organization.

One book instructed me to draw up a fairly detailed weekly schedule.  “This is exactly what I need!” I thought to myself.  “I need to plot out my week and just follow the schedule!”  So I tried.  I sat for several hours developing a schedule, and for one week… I was quite successful.  I did the laundry for our entire family of five in two days flat- folded and put away.  I cleaned a little each day, and my house looked awesome.  I assigned different tasks to different days in terms of blogging and work.   I even called my sister and told her that I really liked this new time-management thing- it was really helping!

I learned a week later, when “life” happened (husband working late, kids getting sick, etc.) and the schedule went out the window…it wasn’t realistic.  It was too rigid for me.   I’d allot time to blog while my kids were napping, but then one of them wouldn’t nap and I’d end up disappointed and stressed about not being able to finish what I started.  Or something would come up and I’d have to put the intended agenda on the back burner.  Does this mean the book was a waste of time?  Not at all.  It helped me prioritize and helped me examine the different hats I wear in my life.  And through trying a rigid schedule that I wanted so very much to live by, I realized that now, as a WAHM, I have to approach things differently.  I have to roll with the punches in a way I haven’t had to before.  Most importantly, I have to change my attitude.  Instead of getting frustrated when the kids have to take priority over editing photos or blogging, I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that they are the reason I’m trying to work from home- I want to be with them, not working away from them at a traditional job.

So here are those minor changes I mentioned earlier.   Maybe some of these would help you, or maybe they’ll spark an idea that would work even better for your situation.

{Get. Out.}  I get out of the house by myself at least one night a week, but usually/hopefully twice.  I go to Starbucks, I take my laptop and papers, and I work.  Without interruption.  I put the baby to bed and head out the door while my husband puts the big kids to bed.  I come home and I’ve accomplished something, not to mention I’ve had some hot chocolate that I didn’t have to make.

{Prioritize.}Family comes first.  Work comes before my blog.  This will hopefully change slightly as I craft and blog more and get more experience under my belt.  For now, I have to prioritize, and work gives me income, which is most important for my family right now, so that’s my focus.

{Keep it clean. But sane.}  One thing I did keep from that rigid schedule:  I still clean a little each day.  It just works better for me.  For example, Wednesday is bathroom day. (I hate Wednesdays.)  We have a decent sized house- if I leave it alone too long then it’s such a hassle to try and catch up.

{Wash it up- when needed.} I do NOT have a “laundry day”.  For some reason it irks me to wash a small pile of clothes every dang week.  I’d rather have my kids nearly run out of clothes and do a huge load for each of them.  So I do laundry as it needs to be done, no sooner.

{Ask and you shall receive.}  When I need help from my husband, I ask for it.  I don’t assume that he realizes I need it.  Thankfully, he obliges as often as he can.  If I need an extra night at Starbucks, he tells me to go.  Likewise, when he has projects crop up at work and has to stay until 2 a.m., I have to go with it.  He does, after all, bring home the bacon, so he should probably do his job.

{Give it Up}  I gave something up.  Sometimes you can’t just do it all.  For me, right now, that something is the self-induced pressure of getting to the gym.  I even wrote a post about rededicating myself to the gym once I was done breastfeeding my youngest, and that milestone has come and gone.  I have two mornings a week when my two big kids are at preschool, and technically I could take the baby to the child watch place and workout for an hour and a half.  The problem is that my baby naps in that window, and I think naps are super important for babies.  I could also drag all three kids with me to the gym, and… eventually I will.  But I need to feel more balance in my life in other areas before I throw a workout routine in the mix.

{Say “om.”} I relax.  I hate it when people say to “just relax,” but I need to.  Four-year-old giving up naps (somethingIholdsacredwhichgivesmepersonaltime)?  Deep breath.  I can handle this.  Nearly-three-year-old taking forever to potty train?  No biggie.  He’ll get there.  I’m trying to see the big picture- nobody naps forever, and no one cares when you stopped wearing diapers once you’re grown.  Right now I need to just meet my kids where they are, keep tabs on my attitude, and enjoy the moment.

Do you have any time management tricks?  Do you need a schedule or something more loose and fancy-free?  Do you throw a schedule out the window if things get crazy, or stick to it even more?

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Today’s the day! #CUYPB2012!

Posted by on Apr 26, 2012 | Comments Off on Today’s the day! #CUYPB2012!

Just got back from dropping my two oldest at school!  I can’t wait to get started after I have some coffee and let the caffeine do some work.   If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here to go to my original post!


Here’s my plan:

I’m going to start with my biggest boards and weed through them, pin by pin.  I’m going to check sources, and then (this will be painful) I’m going to divide them into smaller boards.  My Food & Drink board especially needs work- it’s too hard to find what I want when looking for recipes.

I’m going to look for misplaced pins.  Sometimes I end up with a funny pin in my Things I’d Like to Make board.

I’m going to move to smaller boards as I can.  The big boards may take quite a while.

I’m going to update all of my covers.

I’m going to assess my board titles- do they make sense?  Is it easy to tell what each board is about from the title?


Are you joining in?  Let me know!  Tweet me- I’m @nataliechiles on Twitter, and our hashtag is #CUYPB2012!


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{Operation Organization} Meal Planning: A Free Printable

Posted by on Apr 19, 2012 | Comments Off on {Operation Organization} Meal Planning: A Free Printable



Just a reminder to check out my post from Monday about Clean Up Your Pinterest Boards Day on April 26th!  Hope you can join us!


I have a love-hate relationship with meal planning.  When I do plan our meals, things go so much smoother during the week.  I don’t have to think when 4:30 rolls around and it’s time to start putting something together.  I can go into autopilot mode because I already know what’s happening in that department.  However, the process of picking what to make for the week can be tiresome, challenging, and sometimes annoying.

To that end, I decided to spruce up my menu planner.  My old one wasn’t working.  It was an old green frame (you’ll see it soon in an upcoming post), too small to write on, didn’t stay on the wall because the hanger on the back wasn’t that great- it needed to go.

I was at Michael’s Crafts getting a few things and saw a simple, flat glass frame and I knew it was what I needed.  It’s super cheap, too- only about $5.  I played around in Photoshop and came up with this.


(Clearly I have not mastered my new camera yet.  More about that later.)

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Operation Organization: Pouches for Toys

Posted by on Mar 21, 2012 | 2 comments

I fit some sewing in a few weeks ago and am so happy with what I ended up with.  My kids had a few toys that needed to be contained.  Some blocks that needed a better/cuter home than a Ziploc bag, and Connectagons from my mom at Christmas time.

I knew just where to go for what I needed.  My friend Kari’s blog, Handmade Mommy, has a lovely tutorial on fishing reel drawstring bags.  I thought they’d be perfect for the kids because they are easy to open and shut, and you can make them whatever size you need.  Here’s my final product:

Aren’t they cute?  I lined the inside with white flannel just to keep them a bit thicker and sturdy.

These blocks look so much better in a cute bag, don’t you think?

Thanks so much for the tutorial, Kari!

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IKEA Office Drawer Makeover {Mod Podge}

Posted by on Mar 7, 2012 | 16 comments

It’s time to get craftin’ around here a bit more.  I have been spending the last few weeks really cleaning out my craft room and getting it organized.  It’s getting to be pretty awesome.  Now all that remains is plowing through some projects so that I can clear off the bed, since the room is also technically a guest room.

I’ve had this little drawer organizer for over 10 years.  It’s one of the first things I ever bought from IKEA, and it’s one of the only things I’ve bought from there that did not require assembly.  I LOVE assembling IKEA furniture.  I’m weird like that.

I decided that since we are going to be in this house until our kids are grown and in college, it’s time to commit to spiffing this thing up.  I also organized all of my office stuff, and purged a lot, so it’s much more feasible to use this in a logical way.  The little orange tabs you see above are what I used to temporarily label the drawers while I pondered what to do with this thing.

You may or may not have seen my sewing & crafting organizers, but this is the same fabric.  Here’s my before and after; below you’ll see a bit about my process.  Doesn’t it look soooo much cooler?!

To prepare the fabric, I measured the width of the drawers. I know that fabric tends to stretch a bit when you use it with Mod Podge, but I also wanted a wrap around on the drawers, so I added about 1/2 inch to the measurement.  I pressed my fabric in the middle of the pattern- you can see the crease below.  Then I measured the height of the drawers and cut very precisely.  I actually had to do this twice because I messed up and Mod Podged a piece on upside down.  Whoops.  Note:  once you put the fabric on, it’s never going to be the same, so if you mess up, you mess up.  It’s best to have extra fabric for this project, unless you are perfect in every way.  Ha.

I knew that I’d be working on this in spurts, so I labeled the pieces of fabric with the corresponding drawer and also an arrow to remind me which was way up.  To do this, I used tailor’s chalk so it just brushed off before I Mod Podged. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance- that’s dangerous for me.

To attach the pieces, I applied a layer of MP to half of the drawer face, pressed the fabric down, and gave it a good rub down.  Then I did the other side.  Before the MP dried, I also poked a hole where the drawer pulls would go back in later.  I just used a sharp pair of scissors.  On the right, below, you can see the little bit of fabric that wrapped around the edge.  These were stubborn- I had to hold them down for about 30 seconds while the MP did it’s work.  I coated the top of the fabric with two coats of MP.

For the top, I measure the fabric and cut to size.  There’s a metal trim, and the fabric stretched over it, so after it dried completely I used an exacto knife and trimmed it off.  I coated the top with Hard Coat Mod Podge, and then sprayed acrylic sealer on it (just one coat) so that it wouldn’t be tacky on the top where I am putting some often-used supplies.

The drawers I labeled with vellum so that the pattern of the fabric wouldn’t be interrupted.  I just love it.

Click here to see all of my Mod Podge projects!

Here’s the before and after again:

Also, you may have noticed my sewing machine cords back there on the left.  I stuck two 3M Command Strips to the wall and I hang my sewing machine cords on them.  That way, when I’m not using my machine and it’s covered up, the cords aren’t under the table getting in the way.  Genius, right?!  :)





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Operation Organization: Art Station

Posted by on Feb 10, 2012 | Comments Off on Operation Organization: Art Station

I realize that this is not rocket science.  It’s a simple plastic bin with labels.  But I LOVE to see how other people organize their crap, so I thought I’d share what I did in this situation.

I was going absolutely bonkers.  For reals.

As I mentioned in my recent post about Anna’s mail slot, she is a very creative little girl.  She comes up with crazy Tinker-Toy creations, she builds amazing things with blocks (engineer, architect perhaps?), and loves, loves, loves to draw.  She loves art so much that I have to throw things away on the sly, lest our house become a fire hazard of paper.   I’m still working on a system to determine what stays and what goes, but what was more pressing was how to contain her supplies and her completed work.

I mention in my “About Nat” page that I am a practical crafter.  While I LOVE looking at DIY art stations with cute, color coordinated tubs, repurposed antique holders and such, that is not me.  If I put a lot of energy into something that is likely to get used, abused and tired, it will make me mad/frustrated/annoyed if it doesn’t hold up, stay perfect and pristine.  So with something like this, I like to go with easy, plastic bins from Wal-Mart.

I think this thing cost about $17.  I may get another when Jack gets more into art, but right now I’m lucky if I can keep up with the sticker trail he leaves all over our house.  He has one coloring book right now.  That’s all he needs.

What I like about this thing is it can only hold so much, so every once in a while I go through and downsize to prevent further insanity.

I started with simple labels on the drawers.  From top to bottom they read:

  • All done!
  • Not done & Blank Paper
  • Coloring Books & Stickers
  • Art Supplies
  • Activity Books

The labels however, did not stick to the plastic bins- they kept curling up.  So I sliced up a scrap of paper and stuck them to the paper.  Then I used some adhesive squares to stick them to the drawers, and now they stay nice and flat.

The art supply drawer is great:

The kids can pull out a tub (Target $1 section- they always have these) of crayons or markers, take them to the table, and then put them away easily (in theory).  Or, in reality, when it’s time for dinner, it doesn’t take me forever to get their crap out of the way. 😉

I’m sure there are cuter ways to do this- if you have one, please do show me.  If I see something too cute to resist I may do something different, but for now, plastic bins rule this particular roost.



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