One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

ASK RONI Q&A

Ask Roni: How I Stay “Organized” HA!

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Hi Roni,

I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now and am so impressed by all that you do. I’ve often wondered how you are able to stay organized and on top of so many projects, including managing your health and weight. I am a mother of one boy who is the same age as “the toddler” and also have a demanding career. My husband is often traveling for business and we spend much of the year on our own. I find that I struggle to keep all the balls in the air. I often notice that if I put the time in to manage my health (e.g., sleeping well, exercising regularly, doing all of the planning necessary to lose weight or just to eat nutritionally), I become behind in other areas of my life. I just can’t seem to stay focused or organized enough to manage. Eventually deadlines loom and I go weeks without attending to my health. I’d love to hear how you organize your time and your life, including any resources you might use.

-Kathleen

Hi Kathleen!

The beginning of your email made me laugh out loud and I mean that in a funny nice way because if you REALLY knew me you’d know, I am NOT organized. Not even in the least bit. You should see my office or my house for that matter. It routinely looks as if a tornado swept through. I’ve been in my new home for over a year and still have boxes in corners and my computer is so muddled I can hardly find files when I need them.

Don’t believe me?

Here’s Proof! I snapped these this afternoon…

My "cozy" living room…

My "lovely" kitchen…

My de facto "office", i.e. the Ottoman and dinosaur jungle.

I’m not telling, rather showing you this to make you feel better. It’s true. I can’t keep up. And I’d wager there are women all over the world that will benefit by the next 5 words I’m about to type…

You can’t do it all.

I’m also going to throw in…

You can’t be everything to everyone.

You can’t be in two places at the same time.

And the famous…

You can’t make everyone happy.

For me it comes down to prioritizing. It’s simple. I make time for the things that are important to me, including spending time with little guy, cooking healthy meals for my family, running/working out, and posting on the blogs. Those are my non-negotiables.

I define a non-negotaiable as something I will do regardless of my other responsibilities (within reason of course, I mean you can’t get fired.) That means I routinely go to bed with dirty dishes in my sink. Sometimes there is laundry in desperate need of folding for weeks, and you know what… my floor could use a good sweeping but it’ll have to wait, I’m responding to you at the moment. :)

I think the most important thing for you to do is prioritize and forgive yourself for not being Super Woman. I know society wants us to be. They think women can be effortlessly beautiful while managing a full-time career, raising the kids, keeping a spotless house and finding time to devote to their health and relationships. I hate to tell you, it’s just not possible.

You pointed out in your email that you become behind in other areas of your life when you focus on you and your health. I’m curious what these other areas are? Is there something you can drop to the bottom of the list that just isn’t as important as… well… you?

This is what I learned…. when I spend more time on me, as in eating healthier and staying active, I’m more equipped to handle the other things in my life. I handle stress better. I’m less moody. I’m more confident. I sleep better. I’m happier. The list goes on and on. However, the time it takes for me to focus on my health does need to balance out in the end. I mean there are only so many hours in the day. In my case, I skimmed that time from keeping a clean house. I don’t know about you but I’d rather take care of me first, the house second.

Of course others would prioritize differently. We all have our reasons but I would guess there are many of us that spend time doing things that really… at the end of the day… don’t matter.

As for me and how I organize my time? I have one simple rule I live by…

Do what you can, when you can, with what you have.

I wrote a post about this a while ago with regads to running but now I apply it to everything in my life. From eating healthy to working out to my job and the sites. I don’t beat myself up if I’m having a busy week and have to eat out more. I simply do the best I can and follow some simple rules to make healthier choices. I don’t throw in the towel if I can’t find the time to workout. I simply pick it back up again when I can. Maybe getting up early to squish in a run before work knowing it will make me feel good to do so. Sometimes I have so many things I want to fix on the sites that I could honestly work on them continuously for days but that’s just not possible. So when I get a free hour I accomplish something small off the list. Knowing I’m that much closer to my goals helps me feel like I accomplished something.

I do what I can when I can.

And guess what…. ALL those little things, those healthy choices at restaurants, those quick runs in the mornings when I have time, those small to-dos checked off on my list… they add up to big things. I mean really… somehow over the last 5 years I lost 65 pounds, built 5 sites, and ran a conference. All those things took a lot of work but it was a lot of work done a little at a time, over YEARS.

So it may look like, from the outside, that I have it all together. That I’m some super human crazy organized robot. But in reality I’m just a 30-something, mom struggling to find balance, trying to figure out what works for me and my family and making the best choices I can along the way.

I’m sorry if this wasn’t the answer you were looking for but I hope I shared something can help you find the balance you seek.

Does anyone have any time management tips for Kathleen? I’m sure some of you are better at it then I am! Maybe I’m missing some “big secret”.



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I’d love to hear your story or thoughts on mine.

However, to prevent the massive amounts of spam I was receiving I have turned off comments on any post older than 5 days old. If you'd like to leave me a note regarding this post or anything really try me on twitter (@RoniNoone,) my Facebook page, or even IG (@RoniNoone) I'm so sorry for the inconvenience. I never thought I'd have to do this but it's gotten way out of hand and comment management has become simply too time consuming to manage.

Discussion

There are 37 comments so far.

    Susan

    August 11, 2010

    Amen, sister.

    Susan

    August 11, 2010

    P.S. – loved the photos! It is … comforting. I guess…to hear others have the same struggles in keeping it all together. :-)

    workout mommy

    August 11, 2010

    THANK YOU for providing the pictures!!! My house looks 10x worse but it’s so nice to know others do not live in museum-like houses like my neighbors!!! :)

    Meredith

    August 11, 2010

    You don’t know how much a post like this means to someone like me. I look up to many blogging “mentors” (including you) and sometimes it seems like I’ll never be “enough” to keep up with everything. Thank you for this post and the encouragement it gives.

    Jennie

    August 12, 2010

    THANK YOU!!! My house is even more crazy ;) I did however finally figure out how to keep the bills organized and paid on time.

    Jenn (GH)

    August 12, 2010

    Thank you for posting this Roni. I’ve been wondering the same thing about you. I’d also love how you find the discipline to keep up all your blogs? I struggle to find time to do just one and I don’t have a job…well I do I homeschool…I just don’t get paid with money. :-)

    Caroline

    August 12, 2010

    Like everyone else that has posted it is comforting to know that other people have houses that look like mine. I think you are right on with your comments, Roni. I always have way too much going on in my life and have had to take a hard look at my commitments to decide what is most important. Spending time with my kids is #1 and I found that cleaning the house was taking away the little time I have to spend at home with my family. I would much rather play a game with my kids than clean the bathrooms. After a lot of thought I decided to hire a housekeeper and I have to say this is one of the best decisions I have made. She comes over twice a month and does the basic cleaning – bathrooms, mops, vacuum’s, etc. While my house is always cluttered, I know that it is relatively clean. It has been a huge relief and I find that I am able to focus more on everything else in my life because I am no longer worrying about the cleanliness of my house. I know a housekeeper is not an option for everyone but I would recommend getting one if you can afford it.

    abby

    August 12, 2010

    Roni, I love you for your reality. We’ve been doing a bit of work around the house, and at this moment, as i was reading emails, in the back of my head i heard the little voice saying,” stop reading, finish cleaning up, the place looks like a mess” etc. etc. that ugly voice that makes me feel incompetent and doesn’t let me appreciate how awesome I really am, and how phenomenal life really is!!!!!
    So I read the subject line, and I’m usually inspired by you, so I said to myself…perfect, i’ll read this and i will get a few tips on organization, etc. then i read the email, and i realized for the upteenth time, there are no superwomen who can do it all. there is absolutely no such thing. we are all beautiful human beings!!!!!
    If I put too much attention to the outside, then I forget about the inside, and like with everyting and anything in life it’s about balance and about loving the inside of ourselves, the outside of ourselves and the outside around us…for whatever it is!!!

    thanks again and again and again!!!!!!
    abby

    Did you ever watch the movie “pillow talk” if you have…
    this song’s for you…

    “You are my inspiration… ROni”
    love
    and do hope to meet you someday, just because i really like you!!!!!

    Crazylady

    August 12, 2010

    Love it ! !! Thank you for being so open and honest as always. I often struggle with the same time issues and this post is a huge encouragement to me as well as a reminder that we can’t do it all and that’s ok.

    Nadine

    August 12, 2010

    Way to keep it real, Roni. Thanks for saying it so plainly. Hope you are feeling better today.

    Lori T

    August 12, 2010

    Oh thank you for posting pics and for your no-nonsense wisdom :) As always, you make me feel better about juggling and inspire me to work on me. Hope you’re feeling better!

    Diana K

    August 12, 2010

    ok…so this post was perfectly timed! I am comming off of a six week string of weeks that have had me kicking myself…trying to get it “all” done. Printed….quoted…and hung in my cube for reminder…
    “You can’t do it all.
    You can’t be everything to everyone.
    You can’t be in two places at the same time.
    You can’t make everyone happy.
    I do what I can.”
    Love the Blog!
    Thanks, and Congratson you new blessing!

    Barb

    August 12, 2010

    I’ve been reading blogs for years and this was absolutely, bar-none, the best ever!!! I felt like I just got a big comforting, reassuring hug. I’ve spent this summer trying to fit in healthy food prep and workouts and have fallen behind in every other area except employment and marriage. I should post pictures of my poor flowers… But being/feeling healthy is all worth it. Thank you, Roni!!!

    Laurie

    August 12, 2010

    I agree..the words are great but the pictures made the post!
    Hope you are feeling better!

    Lori L.

    August 12, 2010

    Gosh. I have tears in my eyes. I recognize that kitchen counter… it looks like mine most of the time. I thought that I was the only one. It is so tough juggling the job, the kids, the house… I put myself on the back-burner too often. You have inspired me with this post to take better care of me and to overlook the kitchen counter / living room floor etc. Thank you! I hope that you feel better soon!

    Tish

    August 12, 2010

    Yes, it’s taken me years to learn what you know at such a young age! So true.

    Laura

    August 12, 2010

    Thanks for the dose of reality, and for the courage to post those pictures. My living room looks very similar but I lack the courage to document it. :)

    One of the many things I respect about you is how you keep things real.

    Hila

    August 12, 2010

    Roni you seriously brought tears to my eyes this morning as I read this because I felt like I was not alone. I am not a mother, but I do work full time as does my husband, we both work out alot to stay healthy and try to eat/cook healthy, while being very busy socially. I feel horrible about my house 95% of time, especially the never ending amount of dog hair that piles up in as little as two days. Thank you thank you thank you for your post, it has made me feel so much better and I am going to try my hardest to take your view on my life more often, and stop beating myself up about things that just can’t happen right now!

    Hila

    August 12, 2010

    And I love the photos, you are brave, my house looks like that too!

    Irina

    August 12, 2010

    OK, this may not be the most polite comment, but I gotta say it. My close friend has what’s become a very famous saying and it goes something along the lines of: “I’ve got 2 hands and one butt (not the word she normally uses, but hey…) and I can only be in one place at a time” :) LOVE IT I am a working mom of 3 very young kids and we specialize in tornado-looking houses :) You ladies rock!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Julie J.

    August 12, 2010

    Thank you Roni! Made me feel better!

    Kelly

    August 12, 2010

    A cleaning insight….Years ago, we bought a refurbished Roomba. He is awesome. True, he (he’s a he. It’s like having a pet) doesn’t clean as well as a regular vacuum, but he gets up the little bits of dirt that drive you nuts every time you walk by them. And he creates vacuum lines, which when I see them in any house, even mine, implies a sense of, hey, this place isn’t dirty. Also, if you get the scheduler one, as soon as you hear him start beeping as he backs up out of his dock to start his run, you run like a mad person to clean up the floor so he doesn’t get stuck on small rugs/toys/tassels/that ribbon from your helium birthday balloon that was from…6 weeks ago that’s still floating.

    Greatest purchase ever for us.

    Marvey

    August 12, 2010

    My mother was amazing at keeping her house spotless. You could eat off the floor of any room. She made breakfast and dinner for everyone everyday. The laundry and bills were always caught up. She was at church everytime the doors were opened. But all 5 of her children are grown and have no real relationship with her or each other. There was no family time, no bonding. She “had-it-all” under control but lost the most important thing, her family. Don’t try to be superwoman. Be yourself first, mom and wife second and let the house go.

    Hi Roni — Love the photos! Just last night I said to my husband “I am this close to overwhelmed” (and I had my hand in front of my face) “But I am choosing to not step in to it.”

    It is about priorities. And I love the non-negotiable list. There is so much that could be done, so it is biking and choosing. I even scheduled a 2 hour bike ride in the middle of my day today — because it just feels like what I need. The rest will fall in to place!

    Cynthia (It All Changes)

    August 12, 2010

    Amen it looks lived in!

    Lynn C

    August 12, 2010

    LIST LIST LIST. I would absolutely wither up and die without my notebooks. (one of my non-negotiable items is to always have notebooks I love. I consider them my rewards for continuing to function.)

    I have a complicated system of notebooks and calendars that probably wouldn’t work for anyone but me, and they’re the result of years worth of trying-to-figure-it-out-ness.

    I keep one notebook for my daily to-do list. A day is considered TO-DONE if at least 1/2 of what’s on the list gets done. The minimum to-done is “Dishes, Make Bed, Clean Bathroom Sink and Toilet, Plan Dinner” That’s IT. if NOTHING ELSE gets done, those things get done. (I also allow myself 4 OSI days a month. “Oh, Screw it.”)

    I write appointments down on my calendar the instant something gets decided. I look at my calendar first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and two weeks ahead every Monday.

    I also follow the 60-second rule. If it can be done in 60 seconds, go ahead and DO IT NOW. (change light bulbs, hang up my coat, change the toilet paper roll, dump the trash)

    I try to thoroughly clean each room in my house once a month (I have a small house, which actually makes cleaning HARDER because everything has to go back in the exact right place) so, one week is bathroom/kitchen, living room, my bedroom, kid’s bedroom)

    Also, stuff. I don’t keep stuff that I don’t love. Do I love this? Do I use this? Do I wear this? If not, why the heck am I storing it/dusting it? This is still a work in progress.

    I don’t have the best house or life in the world, but MOST of the time it’s not overwhelming, and I can generally panic clean in 15 minutes

    Amanda P

    August 12, 2010

    Roni, thank you so much for the post. I have a 3 1/2 year old and am about to deliver a little boy. I will be a stay at home mom once the baby comes. I have been freaking out trying to figure out how I am going to “do it all”. You’re post totally chilled me out. I may have to print it out and put it on my fridge!

    Louis Biggie

    August 12, 2010

    Roni,

    What an inspiration you are with your “tell-it-like-it-is” honesty and humility. Thank you so much.

    I am not very good at fitting in what I want to do, but if anybody wants a tip, here’s what I do. I never put something on a list. I put it on a calendar. If I put something on a list, I forget about it, but if I identify the task and the time slot, then I usually get it done.

    This works for me!

    Agnes

    August 12, 2010

    Thanks, Roni but most of all THANK YOU for the photos! Cleaning/tidiness is a huge issue for me. When it was just me my place looked like a museum! But the minute you have kids your world turns upside down (in all ways possible) it’s been a struggle for me not to be critical of myself when I can’t keep the house spotless. Thank you for sharing!

    CH4Health

    August 12, 2010

    OMG! I’ve been wanting to ask that question for a while. Thank you Kathleen!

    I love your answers Roni – it confirms what I thought for a while – that I’m not alone in not being able to do it all. I have a SIL that seems to be able to do everything and still have a smile on her face. I’ve always compared myself to her, but I would rather compare myself to you now. :) This post definately gives me some motivatoin to keep taking care of myself.

    I completely feel ya there. I work full time and it’s hard to balance housework, cooking, working out, a modest social life, my marriage, and blog work altogether. I certainly can’t do it all, and I’m afraid housework is the first to be put aside, much to my husband’s chagrin.

    Patty@NYC Girl at Heart

    August 12, 2010

    My living room looks just like yours. Less toys & more shoes, purses and what nots. Just this past week packing for blogher I lost it and left everything everywhere. Its all clean but not in their proper place. I’d avoided dealing with it because frankly tweeting with new friends and reading their blogs is more important to me. I’ll get to it this weekend. It’s an exercise in patience to letting the little things be…while I enjoy doing something I love. I work 9-5P, I don’t have to work 6p-12M at home unless its for fun. Great advice!

    MarrgieAnne

    August 12, 2010

    I’m 71 so speaking from experience except I was a stay at home Mum. We have 4 children who were spread over 11 years so ended up with some larger than usual gaps between some of the babies. For several years I had children spread from kindergarten to college. 4 levels of schooling and I was sick with some kind of fatigue syndrome.

    What I learned.

    Prioritize. Do the things that you cannot live with undone.

    Don’t sweat what is left.

    Show your family love with time and activities that build healthy memories.

    Get some kind of household help. Even 2 hours a fortnight helps and make it a priority even if you can’t afford it.

    Trim your life, daily expectations, to basics and add in as you are able.

    A perfectly kept house might be your priority but remember it must feel comfortable enough for your family to live in.

    Take time to teach the children to be helpers. Begin this as early as possible. It’s part of their growing up and you are the only one who can turn what might become chores into fun.

    Life is to be enjoyed so make sure you have time and energy to enjoy what you do. Take a long hard look at yourself if things are out of balance and you are constantly cranky.

    If you are married or have a partner don’t forget he is part of the equation. Find ways to make sure he pulls his share of the weight while remembering he to has needs and job demands.

    Super women do not exist. They are a fantasy.

    Brilliant women do.

    Laura

    August 12, 2010

    Wow! Roni, if you ever decided to give out an award for awesome comments, please allow me to nominate MarrgieAnne. Brilliant.

    roni

    August 12, 2010

    Agreed! Amazing!

    Rachel Pearson

    August 13, 2010

    Roni,
    Thank you for your honesty! As a busy working mom of 3 (who has lost 33 pounds in 6 months and maintained for one month now), I appreciate your blog. I have bookmarked it as one of my select few that I visit, since it provides much encouragement and comraderie to me. I do have to say that during my weight loss journey I gradually started getting my house in order. It was almost as if after I began shedding my shed pounds, I was shedding the clutter and chaos around my house. This did not happen entirely unconcsciously. During an unusual very high calorie day/binge, there was a moment that I looked around at my unusually messy house (this used to be the norm until the weight loss), and I realized that I must tend toward over-eating when I feel the most out of control. It’s not always that complex, but it’s still not always conscious until I’m in the middle of it or after the fact: I’m avoiding housework, and eating is a way for me to procrastinate! Once I realized this, I worked on getting my house in order. Knowing that I am NOT Superwoman, I became judicious about assigning chores and enlisting my whole family. Yes, there are times when I let it slide b/c I’d rather hang out with my family, or I have better things to do. The difference is how I feel. I feel okay with choosing to read a book to my kids, or spend intimate time with my husband, or work out, while laundry goes unfolded. I don’t feel okay with surfing Facebook while my house is a wreck! For me, it only leads to guilt, and unhealthy things follow. I’d much rather tackle it than turn to food, or the computer, as an escape ( I know the computer is your “work”, but for many of us, we can waste time on it…so I wouldn’t necessarily label the original poster’s computer time that she doesn’t have time for b/c she’s making healthy choices as “me time”) I’ve also changed my attitude from feeling like I “deserve” to zone out in front of the tv or computer (which I still consider “me” time, to a point…but let’s face it, it can quickly become an escape and it burns the fewest calories!), to feeling like I deserve fairly clean, comfortable surroundings. I also have an attitutude of gratitude while I’m cleaning that I have the energy and stamina to get it done, even after working out! I love knowing I’m burning more calories, to boot! I love knowing that I’m teaching my kids life-long skills that will make their adult lives easier some day.
    Sorry to be so long-winded. I really just wanted to applaud the original poster on taking the time to invest in herself through exercise and eating healthy. I think all of us who read your blog can agree on this as our number one priority! As busy moms, sometimes it might be the only “me time” that we get, but it’s so worth it!

    Sandy

    October 3, 2011

    Hey Roni,

    Great post – I am sure I will be back to read it again and again when my house starts to look like this (it actually regresses back to this state about 24 hours after I have cleaned it, balancing the entropy of the universe and all that). And I loved that your mac had kid stickers on it – mine is plastered with them as well – most of them are Superheros stickers.

    I am learning how to define what is a “non-negotiable” – it is not as easy as you might think. I decided to start by saying what can I easily live without – that helped narrow down the list considerably. The other thing I have always had problems with was getting those around me on board with my decisions on how to spend my time. It seems that if you start running and sacrifice other events that inevitably something or someone makes me feel guilty for doing what I think is best for me for a while. I liked your statement, “Do what you can, when you can, with what you have.” I am a “black and white” kind of guy. Most of us are, I think. Either I am doing something from start to finish or don’t even bother starting the project. But, that does not aways work, I am learning. I started running this year, just did my first 1/2 marathon. The best part about it was not the race, it was the training. I learned that if you have a good plan, let everyone close to you know about it, seriously commit to it as much as you can – you will be fine and will accomplish some or all of your goals. A friend advised me to really really try to do my runs during the week – but never ever miss your weekend run. You need that consistency in training to show yourself you are committed, but you need to give yourself some slack sometimes as well. I think this translated to other areas as well, work, house care, bills, diet, fitness – other non-negotiable things. I liked your statement because it summarized my thoughts of putting the things that are most important to you in your weekly schedule, commit to at least some of it, come hell or high-water, and be a little flexible with the other days. For example, I am supposed to run tonight, but I found out last night that we are supposed to have dinner for the father in law’s birthday. So not only will I not run, I will probably eat something that will not make me want to run in the morning. Oh, well – now I am even more motivated to get my longer weekend run in! It’s a balancing act.

    As far as being a Super Woman – I guess it depends on your definition – your kid seems happy, home seems like a fun place, you look and sound like you are doing great, and I can tell how much your husband enjoys being photographed (has he considered being a finger model?). If you are not a super woman already, you are on the right path.

    Again, thanks for the great post.

    Cheers.