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Entries in Marcia Ramsland (13)

Tuesday
Jan302018

Create More Opportunities for Margin - Part 1

More and more, people are talking about “margin.” Dawn Wilson tackles this topic in a Self-Care UPGRADE in a two-part post to encourage those who find themselves stressed and over-committed, exhausted and near burnout.

Marginless living is the story of millions of Americans today. That’s part of my story too. I desperately needed more margin.

In his book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives (NavPress, 2014), Richard A. Swenson, a medical doctor, points out the lack of margin in American society in spite of all the “progress” we have made.

“The disease of marginless living is insidious, widespread and virulent,” Dr. Swenson said. “We live with unprecedented wealth and all it brings. We have leisure, entertainment, convenience and comfort…. Yet stress, frustration and oftentimes even despair unexpectedly accompany our unrivaled prosperity.”

His book is an excellent study of the reasons for marginless living, and he offers wisdom for every area of life. (I recommend it to stretch your thinking.)

But even before I read his book, I was thinking about the reasons for my own stress. Here’s what I discovered.

When some people think about margin, they envision the word “boundaries”—the need to not let others overrun the priorities in their lives.

I totally understand that. It’s important to have biblical priorities and values for our lives and families. We have to learn to say no to others’ expectations when they don’t understand, or when they either intentionally or unintentionally try to push past our boundaries.

But I think that’s only one side of margin.

My version of margin includes freedom. It focuses on space and freed-up time.

I like to describe margin as “spacious opportunities.”

In other words, yes, we need to establish firm boundaries so people will not take advantage of our kindness and desire to serve. That’s a necessary part of healthy relationships.

We want to live in a sacrificial way, but the Lord still may direct us to say “no” to some intrusive or unnecessary things so we can say “yes” to other things that fit our calling and biblical priorities (Colossians 4:1-2).

But we have to be sure we’re creating space for those “yeses.”

If we don’t, we’ll simply be piling good things onto other good things and causing over-commitment and stress.

We all need positive space to think, create, and breathe. But our lives are so busy, we won’t have wonderful, spacious opportunities unless we're purposeful in making room for them.

There are some things we can’t (and shouldn’t change)—the priority of a relationship with God and the priority of our key relationships (Matthew 6:33; Mark 12:30-31).

But beyond that, we need to see and embrace opportunities for margin throughout our lives. It’s a wonderfully positive approach.

There are at least SEVEN WAYS to create more opportunities for margin—for what really matters.

1. Create more empty space in your HOME. We don’t have to stuff every closet and fill every shelf. It’s OK to leave some empty space. Even healthy and freeing.

Part of the Titus 2:4-5 mandate for women, even those who have careers, is to work at home—to manage the home well. It doesn’t have to be a duty or drudgery. Make it fun. Create a freeing space to minister to people in your family and neighborhood.

Join me in creating that freedom! Evaluate your “stuff.” Go through one room per week with a big box or bag. What can you find to give away? Ask yourself:

  • How many of these do I have?” (Why do you need 12 pair of scissors—and they aren’t even crafting scissors? Learn to practice contentment: Hebrews 13:5a)
  • Why am I keeping this?” (An out-of-date college textbook. A 10-year-old jar of face cream, probably rancid.)
  • “Do I really need to have this object to keep a memory alive?” (A photo might suffice.)
  • “Is this a legacy item—and does my family want it?” (And usually, our millennial kids don’t.)
  • “Do I really need this?” or “Might someone else need this more than me? (Consider a homeless person, a struggling single mom, a low-paid teacher, etc.)

I have often used some of the home and office organizing techniques I've learned from "Organizing Pro" Marcia Ramsland in her book Simplify Your Life.

2. Create more space in your CALENDAR. Just as our homes can be cluttered with stuff we don’t need, sometimes our lives are cluttered with activity and our schedules need some paring down.

We need to plan “down time” as carefully—and with as much joyful anticipation and dedication—as work, event and activity times. Part of making “the best use of your time” (Ephesians 5:15-17) is understanding the Lord wants us to know when to stop working, to stop pushing… to just stop!

Plan breaks and times of refreshing on a regular basis: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. God wants His loved ones to get “proper rest” (Psalm 127:2).

Again, Marcia Ramsland can help with her book, Simplify Your Time.

3. Create more space in your BUDGET. Rather than thinking, “How much do I have left to spend?” think, “How much can I save?” or “How much can I invest?” Thinking we have money to indulge our every whim is seldom wise.

Rather than letting covetousness rule, give money its proper place and think in terms of faithful and wise stewardship.

When we plan wisely, we will feel more secure (Ecclesiastes 7:12); but remember the true Source of your security. Even so, it’s still smart to create sufficient financial margin—sometimes called a “cushion of funds”—to carry you over in times of stress or crisis. Financial experts may not agree on the exact amount, but they all agree on the necessity!

For financial wisdom beyond the scriptures, I seek out people like "America's Family Financial Expert," Ellie Kay and The 60-Minute Money Workout. I also learned so much from Ron Blue and Jeremy White's Faith-based Family Finances, Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover and Randy Alcorn's Managing God's Money.

How can you create more spacious opportunities in these three areas: Home, Calendar and Budget?

Part 2 of this post will appear on January 31st,  with four more areas needing margin.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices TodayLOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Wednesday
Nov012017

5 Tips to Strategically Simplify Your Holiday Season

Because Marcia Ramsland is one of the most organized people I know during the holiday season, I asked her to prepare us for Thanksgiving and Christmas with some helpful strategies.

This Holiday UPGRADE is based on her practical book, Simplify Your Holiday Season, and it includes a free download!

“If you do anything more than once in life," Marcia says, "organize it and simplify it. That’s especially true for the holidays that come year after year like clockwork. “  

I (Dawn) totally agree with the "organize and simplify" concept. Along with walking in the Spirit and experiencing His peace in our hearts (Galatians 5:16, 22), one of the blessings of being properly prepared for the holidays is the peace that flows into our celebrations and activities!

Marcia continues . . .

There is ONE DATE that signals it’s time to launch your holiday planning every year—November 1st.

Knowing that, you can be ready and sail through the holidays by taking these five action steps early. These five steps—and my free 8-Week Holiday Planning Calendar—will get you ready early and make it the peaceful Thanksgiving and Christmas season you’ve always dreamed of.

1.  Mark Your Holiday Dates for November and December.

Thanksgiving is “early” this year on November 23, which means Christmas is a little over four weeks after Thanksgiving. That’s really good news!

But you still need to follow a good Calendar Plan so too many details don’t mount up at the end to cause you holiday stress.

2.  Write A Master Gift List.

List the names of people that you are planning to give gifts to. Better yet, FIND YOUR LIST from last year and follow that same order early in November.

Can’t find last year’s list? You could download my free Master Gift List.

You can download the 2017 Free Master GIFT LIST and Holiday CALENDARhere.

(NOTE: If you already have my Holiday planner, put the list in the front pocket!)

3. Organize Your Gift Wrap Center.

Right now, you don’t have to wrap any gifts. Just organize your Gift Wrap Center with 7 key items all together, say in an under-the-bed box or drawer. 

Include: holiday wrapping paper, gift bags, gift tags, fresh tissue paper, bows & ribbons, scotch tape and a dedicated pen. Get it organized and ready to use.

4. Plan Ahead by Writing Things Down.

Mark your calendar with family coming to town, favorite concerts, kids school vacation dates, and business vacation days. This forms the structure for your holiday season.

5. Sort Your Holiday Decorations Early.

The best weekend to put up Christmas decorations this year will be Thanksgiving weekend or the weekend after, but not turning on lights until December 1.

That way you can enjoy them for five weeks before taking them down after New Year’s weekend.

Donate what you don’t use early in December. Why?

1) Someone else can enjoy your excess decorations this Christmas.

2) Charities won’t take them after Christmas, because they don’t have room to store them for 11 months.

Free up space by donating this year!

Planning is powerful! And with a good plan and your eye on the calendar, you can simplify your holiday season.

Instead of playing “catch-up” and feeling stressed, you will experience freedom and calm.

With an organized plan in action every week—written out on an 8-Week Holiday Calendar Plan—you can say wholeheartedly like the angelic heavenly host who praised God when they appeared to the shepherds and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests” Luke 2:13-14.

Let me share a holiday prayer just for you.

"Dear God, today as I work on preparing my heart and home for Christmas, may I reflect on the events of the first Christmas and find strength in knowing you have a special plan for my holidays this year.” Amen

What holiday activity will you start this weekend to make sure you’re calm and ready to celebrate this holiday season?

Marcia Ramsland, the Holiday Coach, is the author of two holiday books: Simplify Your Holiday Season: Turn Seasonal Stress into Holiday Success” and Simply December Devotions and was a spokesperson for Sam’s Club Holiday Entertaining. Download Marcia's free 2017 Holiday Calendar and Master Gift List HERE

Thanksgiving/Christmas blocks in the graphic available at BuzzingBeesCrafts on Etsy.com, while quantities last.

Tuesday
Mar212017

5 File Folders Save the Day!

Marcia Ramsland, a highly-respected organizing coach for businesses and individuals, sees paper messes everywhere. Fortunately, she knows exactly what to do with those stacks of paper.

“Do you have a kitchen paper pile that won't go away? Is your refrigerator full of reminders? Then,” Marcia says, “it's time to simplify the paper "mess" with a system.”

I (Dawn) wondered for a moment whether Marcia took a sneaky peak at my office… or saw the papers all over my kitchen counter!

I am organized in so many ways. But that paper stuff? Ugh.

Marcia continues . . .

My 5 File Folder System will clean that right up for you just as it has for hundreds of women across the country!

5 Files Can Turn a Pile into an Attractive File!

Did you know an average of fifteen pieces of mail arrive in your mailbox? If you flip through first and deal with only ten of the fifteen pieces, you are left with five dangling pieces a day. 

That’s why stacks of mail can appear from out of nowhere—they're waiting for you to come back "later," which usually never happens.

At the rate of five pieces of mail per day, that means 150 pieces a month or 1,565 pieces a year—sixteen inches of guilt piled on your countertop, refrigerator or desk.

Let's clean that up right now!

Five File Folders will clean up any mail piles from scattering across your kitchen countertop.

A portable file holder is a key ingredient to set up a “Personal Organizing Center.”  Every home needs one to conquer paper piles.

These Five File Folders Handle Daily Paper:

  1. Calendar
  2. To Do
  3. To Decide
  4. To Pay
  5. Your Name (and their own file for each additional person)

File #1: "CALENDAR"

Put an item in the CALENDAR file only after putting it on your monthly calendar. This cleans up “refrigerator clutter” and includes invitations, schedules, & upcoming events.

File #2: "TO DO"

Write it on a Master List in front of you and then put it in this file.

If it would take less than 5 minutes to do, don't even write it on the list—do it now!

Calendar your Master List items to the 3 days you can most control: Today, Tomorrow or the next day.

File #3: "TO DECIDE"

Place items that you are thinking about doing, ordering or following up on in here.

Then when you decide to do it, you know right where to find it!

The last day of the month, toss the unused items for a fresh start next month.

File #4: "TO PAY"

If you don’t have one place by your checkbook to pay bills, keep them in a designated file folder so they don’t get lost. Important!

File #5: "PERSONAL"

Keep your papers—each person's papers—in their own file. Go through it daily yourself or on the weekend with each person.

If something needs immediate attention, don't file it! Show it to the person that day. This should take care of the visible paper clutter.

Regular filing should be in another room beyond the "Personal Organizing Center" portable file.

Can you do that? Of course you can!

It easily applies to organizing your office, too.

Proverbs 13:4 always inspires me to be diligent in organizing paperwork.

“The sluggish crave and have nothing,
but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied!”

This five-file system is so simple, but it works. TRY IT!

So... which pile of papers are you going to tackle first?

Marcia Ramsland is The Leading Online Organizing Coach for Business & Life Success and coaches busy women to maximize their time and minimize their stress. Her “21 Day Total Office Cleanup” gives women the confidence and control that their work, email, and paperwork is all in order with personal coaching. Details at www.OrganizingPro.com/OfficeCleanup.

Thursday
Nov172016

5 Tips to Jumpstart Your Holidays

The first thing I learned about Marcia Ramsland is, she cares about people. The second thing I learned is, because she cares, she creates constructive ways to help them. In this Christmas UPGRADE, she encourages us to jumpstart our holiday preparations so we can experience peace at Christmas and not stress.

“If you do anything more than once in life,” Marcia says, “organize it and simplify it. That’s especially true for the holidays that come year after year like clockwork!”

I (Dawn) have learned so many things from reading Marcia's books, and appreciate this approach ... because they work!

Marcia continues . . .

After staying up late Christmas Eve to wrapping presents for years, I finally figured out “The Holiday Plan” to simplify the whole season! Now we all get a good night’s sleep at Christmas.

You can, too!

To get you started on the right foot for the busy Holiday Season, here are “5 Tips to Jumpstart Your Holidays.”

1) Look Ahead and Mark Your Calendar.

Mark family celebration dates, guests coming, vacation days, holiday parties, church concerts, plays, and annual holiday events you enjoy. Post the calendar where you can see it regularly—like in your kitchen.

This is a unique time of year you need especially good planning skills.

2) Schedule 2 Hour Segments of Weekly Holiday “Prep” Time.

Schedule weekly shopping time online or in the mall, cleaning house, decorating. Schedule Thursday nights for shopping, Saturday for baking and decorating, and Sunday afternoon for wrapping presents.

3) Write a Master Gift List on One Form.

Pull out your gift list from last year to create a duplicate. Don't have one? Download my annual  FREE Master Gift List  to stay organized with your ideas, purchases, and budgets. Use it every year to keep your ideas organized.

4) Make the Most of Your Limited Time.

Combine your limited social time by inviting friends to an upcoming event and getting together for dinner ahead of time or dessert afterwards.

Create a memory on one night instead of two.

5) Sort Your Holiday Decorations Early.

Sort your Holiday decorations when you put them up the first weekend in December.

Immediately donate what you don’t put up to a charity so you can help someone else have a light and bright Christmas.

Planning is powerful! And with a good plan and your eye on the calendar, you can simplify your holiday season. Every year over 800 people download my week-by-week holiday planning calendars and Master Gift List to put in the front pocket of their Holiday planning book, Simplify Your Holiday Season (see book link, below).

Instead of playing “catch-up” and feeling stressed, you will experience freedom and calm.

This year with your advanced planning you can say—like the angelic heavenly host who praised God when they appeared to the shepherds—“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:13-14).

Be sure to bring the Lord into the midst of your holiday preparations.

You might pray:

Dear God, today as I work on preparing my heart and home for Christmas, may I reflect on the events of the first Christmas and find strength in knowing you have a special plan for my holidays this year. I ask you turn my mental chaos into calm with your presence every day. Amen!

What will you do better this year to ease the stress of the holiday season?

Marcia Ramsland is known as The Holiday Coach, author of “Simplify Your Holiday Season” planning book and “Simply December Devotions” devotional. Download your FREE Holiday Planning Calendar and Master Gift List and join her weekly Monday Holiday Class at www.OrganizingPro.com/holidays.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of morguefile.

Tuesday
Jul122016

Never Say, 'Go Clean Your Room!'

Marcia Ramsland is one of the most organized women I know. But those organization skills aren't just for grown-ups. In this Organization UPGRADE, Marcia explains how we can teach our children good habits too.

Marcia asks, "Did your mother ever tell you 'Go Clean Your Room'? If your Mom was like mine, probably 'Yes.'"

Oh, Marcia. Where were you when I (Dawn) needed you years ago with my little boys? I never practiced organization skills as a young mom myself, so it was almost impossible to teach my youngsters.

Marcia continues . . .

Today ia good time to take Mom up on it . . . no matter what your age is!

And after you clean up your own room, it's a good idea to organize your child or grandchild's room with them.

You see, training children is 50% by example and 50% by teaching them how to do everyday chores so they become habits leading to life success. 

Your daily training leads to the goal in Proverbs 31:28: “Her children arise and call her blessed.” That comes by consistent modeling and patient teaching as they grow up in the only world they can can control – their room.

5 Steps to Clean Any Room —   

For Yourself and Your Child

Practice these five steps consistently and eventually it will become a consistent habit. You always get to start over on the weekend with children if they have a particularly busy week.

Step 1: Make the bed first.

Since this is the largest visible surface, the room is now 60-70% clean! Choose a comforter that is easy to pull up without showing wrinkles.

Step 2: Put everything away on the floor.

Start at the doorway and work toward the bed and nightstand until everything is put away.

Step 3: Clean up everything by three categories:

  • Clothes – Put dirty clothes in a hamper or clothes bag in the closet. A trek to a bathroom hamper is too distracting to stay on task.
  • Papers – Start by cleaning up the nightstand and dresser. Arrange books neatly on a bookshelf and organize papers into binders and folders.
  • Collections and Toys: Display collections or toys on shelves, take a picture before changing it to make room for their next interest, and declutter often.

Step 4: Focus on one extra cleaning area.

Organize the desktop, dresser, nightstand, or closet on a weekend or vacation day. The front 2/3 of every surface should be clear.

Step 5: Empty the wastebasket often.

Keep a medium size one near their desk and have the child empty it weekly.

Final Steps:

See their room as they do by laying down on their bed and looking around. Is it a pleasant place including their personality and interests, or does it reflect neglect and disorganization that you can improve?

Put up inspiring pictures of your child doing a favorite activity, and add a recent family picture so your child will always know they are special and belong in the family.

Then walk down the hallway to your room and look at what your child sees you model. A child will live like you do, so make your bed, organize your dressers, and put away laundry and other clutter before you start on their room.

A wise woman does build her home starting with her own bedroom. (Proverbs 14:1)

Now you never have to tell your child, “Go clean your room.” Instead give your child one of the five steps above to do before their favorite TV show or computer game and it will get done.

What a great way to help your child succeed in life by having an inspiring, clean room as their “home base.”

Which of the three points under Step 3 is the biggest clutter area in your child's room? In your room? What can you do right now to get that clutter under control?

Marcia Ramsland is the leading Online Organizing Coach for Business and Life Success. A former teacher and parent herself, she is the author of the booklet and online course “Ages and Stages of Getting Children Organized.” She was intereviewed on Martha Stewart radio for this topic and believes any family can get more organized to create harmony at home. Details at www.organizingpro.com/agesandstages.