• Angela Marie Organizing

NOTE: I’m publishing this during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, so for the moment let’s suspend reality and pretend that this is *normal* life...because right now, it is anything but. No matter where you live or your socioeconomic status (and unless you were already a hermit to begin with), your routine has been completely upended. Work is being conducted from a makeshift home office if you’re fortunate enough to have this option, schools are closed, and your slate of extracurricular activities is wiped clean for the foreseeable future. You’re hunkered down and social distancing (if you’re not, you should be), save the occasional excursion from the house to satisfy your instincts to hunt and gather what scarce rations have been replenished on grocery store shelves. Here’s to hoping that by doing so, we are able to contain the spread of this virus! In the meantime, please capitalize on extra time you may have on your hands by taking the actions I suggest below. This way, you'll be ready when our normal lives resume hopefully in the next few weeks, if not months.

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If you’ve made it this far, CONGRATULATIONS! You should now be well on your way to establishing healthy habits and seeing the positive impact they have on your life.

The final step is to organize your weekly routine. Same as before, once your routine is established, it requires consistency and lack of thought to maintain. Like the Nike slogan advises, Just Do It. But before you can switch into autopilot, you need to pause and spend time thinking and most importantly acting to determine the weekly routine that works best for you and your family.

This requires setting aside a predetermined amount of time on your calendar for all of these ambitious healthy eating and working out activities. Do this the same as you would for going to work, a wedding or a baby shower to increase the likelihood that they will get done. The goal is to make it as easy as possible on yourself to stick with the routine until it turns into a habit and eventually a lifestyle change.

Or, to put it more bluntly:

Per week, I recommend spending 20 minutes on meal planning, one hour grocery shopping, and two hours on snack and meal prep. I set aside two hours per week on laundering workout clothes and 20 minutes packing my gym bag for the week. You also need to set aside time to actually do the workouts, even if this is just a 30 minute walk three times a week.

In order to ensure consistency in all of this, make sure these activities are scheduled the same time and day every week. I’ve found it’s best to spread these activities over multiple days, rather than lumping a bunch of them into a Sunday afternoon, for example. Now I will insert another quote I came across recently that seems appropriate here:

“A schedule defends from chaos and whim.” - Annie Dillard, winner of Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction, 1975

A little chaos and whim injected into your life can be fun, which is precisely why my weekends often lean towards the unstructured side. As such, I’ve chosen to do my meal planning, shopping and laundry on weekdays. But this is about you, so make sure to schedule these activities at times that are convenient. Having them on your calendar means they will be prioritized, making it easier to schedule around them as other things arise and compete for your precious time. This includes hauling the kids to and from soccer practice, piano lessons, taekwondo, ice skating lessons, math tutoring, and so on and so forth...

I do all my meal planning on Monday evenings, Thursdays after work I go grocery shopping, and Friday nights I do my meal prep because I already have events scheduled on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Laundry is done on an as-needed basis in the mornings by my lovely husband, so I’m lucky to have help in that department.

I’ve found it extremely helpful to pre-pack workout clothes for each day in separate Zip-lock baggies within my gym bag once per week, so I’m not having to put thought into this every day. This is a technique known as “batching” - grouping similar tasks together to eliminate the time spent mentally switching gears. This also depends on how many times you workout in a given week and how many clothes you own, and could potentially result in an excuse to buy another outfit or two. I pack my gym bag on Mondays, and double check everything I need is re-supplied, like shampoo for showering at the gym.

Below is the list of things to put on your calendar right now. Make sure to take advantage of the feature allowing you to schedule "recurring" events at the same time and on a weekly basis. If you don’t use a calendar, I’m not sure what else to say other than that is a whole ‘nother issue to address in a future blog post. It’s 2020 and time to get with the program people!

Where was I? Ah yes, making that list. Choose a time and actually add these as events on your calendar. Obvs you will need to adjust the amount of time spent based on factors like family size - it takes longer to do laundry for a family of six vs. two:

  • 20 minutes on meal planning

  • 1 hour for snack and meal prepping

  • 1 hour for grocery shopping

  • 2 hours for laundry

  • 20 minutes for packing gym bag

  • Three 30-minute workouts

I know that seems like a lot of boring ol’ adulting here, but there is really no way around this unless you have some extra cash laying around and are able to outsource. There are a few shortcuts here such as subscribing to one of those services that prepares healthy, individually packaged meals such as Clean Eatz, and the plethora of services that deliver recipes and ingredients to your door such as Blue Apron. Grocery stores like Kroger offer delivery service which would certainly shave some time off the routine. Heck, you could even take advantage of a laundry service to pickup, wash, folder and deliver your laundry! A local laundromat that provides this service here in Knoxville is called WaveMAX Laundry.

As always, I love a good life hack, so please comment with other suggestions to shave time off the routine, allowing us to spend more time with people and doing things we enjoy.

Well, that’s all, folks! Good luck and holler at me if you need help getting started on this by organizing your kitchen, your laundry room or your spouse!

So if you actually started this 4-part blog post at the beginning, you’ll recall I suggested that eating healthy is all about consistency. And I fully admitted that consistency can be boring. I’m sorry to be the bearer of this ugly truth, but you already know it and just need to admit it to yourself if you haven’t already. Please take a moment and acknowledge that eating healthy requires you to accept boring ol’ consistency in your life. Swallow it down like the jagged little pill that it is (shout out to Alanis)! Did you swallow it yet? Okay, do it now. Get that puppy down...3, 2, 1, GO!

Now that you’ve accepted that consistency is the key to healthy eating and exercise, I would strongly advise taking on a new fun hobby. Choose one that replaces the excitement that debating between the Mexi-Melt and the Burrito Supreme at the Taco Bell drive-through used to provide. Archery perhaps? Or hang gliding for the more daring? Either way, make sure and find a fun substitute for your former drive-through window shenanigans, because food is about to become more… routine.

To accomplish long-term healthy eating routines, you need to develop a new eating (and exercise) routine that you don’t have to think about. Best to keep new thoughts from creeping into this process, because they’re not going to help you any. Your thoughts want you to go to Taco Bell, but your new eating routine will have you on auto pilot to avoid that temptation. Once you’ve developed this new healthy eating routine, do it again and again until it falls into place.

What routine you ask? Well customizing it to healthy foods that you’ll actually eat is very much up to you. I know I just got finished telling you not to think. But you’ll have to do it just one time. Now.

So let’s start with your daily food routine. For me, my goal is to eat all my meals homemade because I can control how much I eat and what I eat that way. Going out to eat is rarely a consistent situation. So I want you to think about your day. I want you to decide when and what you are going to eat for a full day. Now write it down. It should look something like this: 8:00 AM: Breakfast - Coffee, oatmeal with ½ apple, ½ banana, blueberries, flax, 1 tsp peanut butter and ½ cup oat milk

10:00 AM: Mid-morning snack - 2 T hummus, 1 cup spinach, ¼ cup mushrooms, ½ cup cauliflower

11:30 AM: Workout for one hour

1:00 PM: Lunch - Pre-made meal prep from Sunday

3:00 PM: Afternoon snack - Handful nuts, ½ apple and ½ banana from breakfast

5:30 PM: Dinner - Meal prepped from Sunday

It shouldn’t take you long to plan out meals and snacks for one day like the example above so go ahead and do that.

Did you do it? Promise? No? DO IT!! Okay, I’m waiting. Please, do it now.

We’ll assume you did it. Good job! Now that you’ve established your daily eating routine, I recommend just keeping the healthy breakfast and healthy snacks the same every day for a while. And when you are about to eat and your mind starts THINKING, ask it to STOP THINKING. You got this! Simply eat what you’ve already planned to eat. You’ll see in the next blog post the prepping is part of organizing for healthy eating, so just assume your snacks and meals are already prepped for the week. The key thing to emphasize here is that you need to stop caring so much about what you eat and just eat what you prepped for yourself. Every meal does not need to be a culinary adventure. Do less thinking and more healthy eating. Now do this for the rest of your life. I’m not asking too much am I? Trust me, you will develop an appreciation for this new lifestyle once your health improves and you start feeling better.

Perhaps you have a friend acting as an accountability partner or a Pinterest board where you’ve learned of some new healthy recipes you’ve been itching to try. Once a week when you plan your meals and snacks for the upcoming week is your opportunity to introduce some new options. Then and only then do you get to think about food. Oh okay fine, you can have a “cheat day” once a week on a day of your choosing to have a little fund with food, but don’t go nuts! Actually, you can eat nuts. But just go mildly crazy - eat white rice instead of brown. Fine fine FINE! Go to Taco Bell on your cheat day if you think it’ll improve your chances of sticking with the routine the other six days of the week.

So, to summarize, you are going to plan your meals once a week, on the same day every week, buy the ingredients, pre-make the snacks and meals for that week on that day, AND you are going to follow through by eating your pre-planned food at or near the time you have chosen. If you get off track and one week you don’t get a chance to pre-make your meals, you are going to get back on track the next week. Don’t throw out the baby with the dishwater or whatever that crazy phrase is. The goal is consistency, but life isn’t always consistent. If you get off track, don’t beat yourself up. Just get back on track as soon as you can!

By this point, you’ve accepted that eating healthy will require less thinking and more planning and consistency, you’ve organized your pantry and refrigerator for healthy eating and you have a daily plan for healthy eating. Think about how much time this will free up for other activities you enjoy! Stay tuned for Act 4, “Organizing Your Weekly Routine for Healthy Eating.” We’ll bring this series to a close by looking at how to organize your weekly routine for healthy eating.

Updated: Jan 14

I’m gonna need you to organize your pantry AND your fridge to get healthy. Does just the thought of it lead you to feeling overwhelmed? This is where I come in handy! Organizing pantries is one of my favorite things to do, so if you need help, I’m your gal. Otherwise, it’s time to get to work.

First thing’s first. Whether you’ve purchased some organizing sessions with me or have chosen to tackle this project yourself, you’ll need to set aside some time on your calendar. If you have to reschedule, make sure this is not just an excuse to take it off your calendar. I recommend about half a day for this activity, but of course the time varies based on the size of your pantry and the amount of items. You’ll also want to pick up some small labels on your next pilgrimage to the store.

Okay, the day has arrived. Let’s do this!

Step 1. Take everything out of the pantry. Everything? Yep, you read that right. Put it all on a nearby table, counter, or floor. If you really feel like “adulting,” this is the perfect opportunity to wipe the shelves down for the crud that’s inevitably accumulated, like those little crackly pieces of onion skin. If you’re not in touch with your inner adult at the moment, just skip that part. As you are taking items out, check the expiration dates and discard any which are outdated. Another extra “adulting” step would be to rinse empty containers and recycle them. Also, be real with yourself and get rid of any food you simply don’t think you’ll be likely to use, expired or not. These can be donated to a food pantry like Second Harvest.

Step 2. Next, get rid of any unhealthy items. Use your own discretion on what’s deemed “unhealthy,” but it should include the usual suspects such as foods that are overly processed, fried, or laden with additives and preservatives...be honest with yourself here. You can add these to the collection already piling up for the food pantry from the previous step. Or you can just throw them away - anything, so long as they’re out of your house. You already have plenty of temptations for unhealthy food in other areas of life (think a coworker dropping off a tray of cookies in the break room) so there is no need to torture yourself in your own home.

And here’s a potential issue you might encounter during this step that I’d like to preemptively address (without starting WWIII). What if someone else in your family wants to keep the unhealthy food? I’m generally referring to someone with authority like a spouse, not your offspring, although they would probably disagree. Or what if that someone is YOU? In that case, make sure the unhealthy food is placed farther out of reach such as on a high shelf, a closet in another room, a locked safe (I’m 100% serious), or anywhere that is generally out of sight. This will help you consistently opt for the healthier items.

Step 3. Organize the remaining HEALTHY items into categories such as canned goods, noodles, breakfast foods, oils, vinegars, baking goods, items waiting to be put in the refrigerator, and snacks. Or another approach is to organize by entire meal categories, such as spaghetti central and chili corner.

Step 4. Another crucial step to getting and staying organized is to label the shelves in the pantry where they will be stored. Establishing a system will help you and others put the items away correctly, every time. Not only does this make food items easier to find by eliminating guesswork, it helps to take inventory on which items you’re running low on.

Step 5. Now take a little break, pat yourself on the back, then repeat the same process for all the stuff in your refrigerator.

Once you're completely finished with the pantry AND the fridge, go ahead and give yourself another pat on the back. Think of this as your future self literally thanking you for taking these steps toward a healthier you.

Now you’re ready for the next blog post - Act III. The Return of the King. KIDDING! It’s really about Organizing Your Daily Routine to Promote Healthy Eating. But you don’t have to wait for the next blog post to take action. Go ahead and put a date on your calendar to organize your pantry and fridge right now. What are you waiting for?

Angela Marie Organizing is not accepting new clients at this time due to COVID-19. We are sorry for any inconvenience. Current clients will continue to be served.

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(865) 232-4060


Professional Organizer 

Knoxville, TN