Mini-Lessons: Set 1

A mini-lesson is a brief lesson with a narrow focus, intended to teach a basic concept which will later likely fit into a bigger concept. Today’s mini-lessons address small issues which contribute to bigger messes, so I hope tackling them helps us get closer to a simpler life.

I decided to use this approach because the weather disrupted our routines again, and I didn’t have the kind of time I needed to work on anything substantial. We had a delayed opening Monday, an early dismissal Tuesday, and no school Wednesday or Thursday. And while Emma is pretty independent and good at amusing herself, it’s tough to work when she is home. I appreciate being able to reorganize my books and make a menu for next week, but I otherwise only had time for these small things.


Mail ends up all over our house. My husband extracts the bills and puts them in a designated spot, but the rest of it comes to life and travels throughout the house. We never had a designated spot for mail, but a few months ago I drove past an old kitchen cart someone left at the curb. It was grimy and needed a coat of paint, which I was happy to give it. I removed the wheels and stained the top and it’s been a great place to store board games.


Kitchen cart turned entry table.

The small basket has been there all along; it finally occurred to me to use it for important non-bill mail. For now, there is a small box on the floor for recycling the junk.

Drinking Glasses:

This was my counter by mid-day yesterday. There is no reason for this. (The wine glasses were from the night before, waiting to be hand washed.)


A pointless mess.

We are a family of three and my husband was gone all morning. I have to admit my own role as I’m the worst culprit, especially since I drink mostly water. This is my temporary solution:


One glass per person per day.

We’ll each put our glasses there for the day, and at the end of the day they’ll go in the dishwasher. I’d like to make some kind of tray, like this one, but it’s not a big priority.

To-Do Lists:

Last year I traded my very old, very basic phone for a smart phone. I love it for a lot of reasons, and spent more than a little time tinkering with different apps, especially organization and productivity ones. But after trying a few, I decided to stay low-tech with my to-do lists.

By yesterday afternoon the roads cleared a little and we were tired of being stuck in the house, so we went to Barnes and Noble, where I found a pretty little notebook on clearance. It’s probably fancier than I need. But I have been scribbling to-do lists on the backs of old envelopes and Emma’s old worksheets, which I know is good environmentally but not so great organizationally, because I’m not planning ahead and these lists are ending up all over the place. My new notebook will work nicely, I think. Smart phones are great but nothing can replace the satisfaction of crossing something off a list.

I’m learning that the easy part is setting these things up. The hard part is sticking to them.

8 Responses to Mini-Lessons: Set 1

  1. I just wanted to say I’m really enjoying your posts. Thanks for making the process feel doable, I’ve taken away some good tips. I’m glad you’re posting so regularly!

  2. Organizing seems like an insurmountable obstacle. I like the way you break things up into small but significant tasks. You are giving me ideas – thank you!

  3. I appreciate the small steps too, since I am tackling my own little hell-hole of a mess this month (my reading retreat turned dumping ground). Gives me a bit of a push in the right direction!

  4. I love, love, love the repurposed kitchen cart and I’m totally stealing the drink tray idea! Plus, it would be a great way to introduce some color into my very neutral kitchen. Also, if it makes you feel any better, I have an (old) iPhone, an iPad mini (a very generous gift) and a MacBook Pro (for work). I still use an old-school, hard copy day planner. I can pop it in my bag or take it with me from room to room in my house.

  5. Ah yes, the many drinking cups by the end of a day. Just had that same happening told to me by a youngish dad…lots and lots of cups by days end. They are trying just putting the children’s drinking “bottles” on the bench for each child.
    Alexa-asimplelife visiting from Sydney, Australia

  6. Try Bullet Journaling – I love the combination of diary, lists, notes and reminders – I’m (nearly) organised for the first time in my life!!
    By the way, I’m enjoying your blog – I can relate!

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