The Importance Of A Personal Life

Thereís no doubt about it: Work is important. Frequently though, we allow work to overshadow all other aspects of life. We find ourselves working while friends and family members are enjoying social events, resenting it the entire time. When we let our work take center stage in our lives long enough, we begin to feel terribly out of touch with the people we care about. If your work has taken over, itís time for you to take a stand. It is time for you to take your life back.

What Do You Want?

What do you want from life, outside certain material possessions and basic creature comforts? Try to take a few moments to reflect. Perhaps friendship is important to you, and if you are like most people, love and romance is certainly a significant part of life. Positive relationships with family members are also meaningful, whether those relationships involve your parents, your spouse or in-laws, your children, or more distant relatives. Human interaction on a personal scale is immensely fulfilling; without it, we often feel empty, cold, and distant.

What Do You Need?

What needs do you have that are not now being fulfilled? If you work at a sedentary job, itís likely that your body craves more physical activity. Most of us would benefit from improved nutrition. Almost everyone needs more sleep, or at least improved sleep. Beyond these physical needs, we have emotional needs that are often unmet if work is our first priority. When you pause to think about your needs, it is likely that many of them coincide with deep-seated wants involving friends, family, and romance. When our needs are left unfulfilled, we feel as if we are missing out on life Ė even if we keep busy with work.

How to Improve Your Personal Life

Now that youíve taken a few moments to think about your desires, itís time to get serious about improving your personal life, step by step. If youíre like many people, then your lists of ďwantsĒ and ďneedsĒ are very much alike.

First, consider rearranging your priorities. This is especially important if the way you have currently ordered your life is out of step with your desires. Think about the future, and consider which relationships you would like to continue for many years to come. Reconsider whether some acquaintances have a positive or negative effect on your life. Spend a little time thinking about whether the actions you take each day move you closer to or further from whatever it is you want and need from life.

As you make these considerations, be sure to keep the focus on your personal life and leave work out of the equation. Itís okay to be picky when deciding which relationships are important, and itís fine to decide that some people should be sent to peripheral positions within your life. It may even be time to end relationships that do nothing to bring you closer to happiness and fulfillment.

Second, think about how your work life impacts your personal life. Try not to think negatively; instead, simply analyze the relationship between life and work in factual terms. Most of us can easily find ways to streamline certain processes, and nearly everyone can think of ways work interferes with personal desires.

Third, consider ways you can rearrange your schedule so you have more time to spend nurturing friendships and cultivating relationships with loved ones. Periodically reevaluating the interplay between work and your personal life can be wonderfully inspiring. In addition, it can bring greater meaning to every facet of life, ultimately leading to a great sense of personal satisfaction. Putting work in its place will help you focus when you need to, so you donít waste working hours wishing you were doing something else.

Finally, create a plan you can implement over time. It would be irresponsible to suggest that these changes are likely to happen overnight. In fact, making changes slowly may improve your odds of success. In order to create change within your personal life, you will need to replace old, destructive habits with habits that lead you closer to fulfillment. Here are a few general suggestions you can tailor to suit your own relationships and lifestyle.

  • Instead of checking your email first thing in the morning, spend a few minutes greeting family members. Share a quick cup of coffee with your spouse, or help a child get ready for school without rushing. Focus on the people you are spending these moments with. If you notice you are obsessing over your inbox, shift your focus back to what is happening in real life, right now. If you live alone, spend those first few precious minutes stretching, breathing deep, and taking a peek at the outside world. No matter who you are or what your circumstances may be, using the first minutes of the day to focus on connecting with your human side will make a difference.
  • Create a schedule that allows you to spend time concentrating on your personal life. Focus on friends and family members, and allow yourself the opportunity to participate in important traditions and holidays. If you have children, build in time to spend forging strong bonds with them. If you have a spouse or significant other, make romance a priority. If you need to ask others for things like sports or recital schedules, do so. Plan for special days in advance the same way you plan important work events in advance. If you are a parent, this is doubly important, since your kids are only going to grow up once and you want to be there for them. Be present for the things that really matter, and make plans for strengthening valuable friendships that need attention.
  • If you always have work overflow and you know it, schedule a specific time to handle the extra load. You might need to do this every day, or every few days; perhaps you only need to do it weekly or monthly. If you have already scheduled personal life events, scheduling work in a way that wonít cause conflict will be much easier. As a bonus, youíll find focusing on work is easier when you donít feel badly about missing out on your personal life.
  • Take time for love. Rekindle your romance with your partner or spouse, whether that means writing love letters, sending cute emails a few times a week, or finally scheduling that vacation youíve both been talking about for months or years. Spend a weekend away now and then. Get a babysitter and enjoy dinner out once a month or so. No matter what you do, enjoy each moment you spend together. Remind yourself of the need to be present for this relationship. If you find yourself thinking about work, gently bring yourself back to the moment.
  • Enjoy activities with family members and friends. Turn off the TV, go outside, and play. Try hiking, camping, or just enjoying a simple picnic. Share meals where conversation is the centerpiece, even if those meals are simple. Think about ways you can accomplish important tasks like home maintenance in a fun way that gets everyone involved. Help your community, go to church or synagogue if you feel drawn to, and grab every opportunity to enjoy positive interactions with the people who are important to you.

There are many ways you can leave work in its rightful place and spend time focusing on improving your personal life. In the end, itís not what you do that matters. Instead, itís that you actually do what it takes to bring joy and fulfillment to each day. Donít wait for life to happen, and donít leave room for regret. Itís your life Ė make it personal.


Career Path Dangers

Maybe youíre just starting out in life. Perhaps you are completely reinventing yourself after a job loss or other devastating event. Maybe you are bored with your job and are thinking about making a career change. The seemingly limitless number of career choices available may cause you to feel a bit overwhelmed, adversely affecting the decision-making process. No matter what your situation, it is important that you choose wisely, avoid pitfalls, and carefully consider all aspects of the career you are considering.

Common Career Path Dangers

Many people have had difficulty picking the right job. All too often, we simply take whatís available. While you may end up taking an unsuitable job due to financial pressure, itís important that you keep looking for something more suitable as your situation improves. Also, it is vital that you prevent any job or career from completely taking over your life, particularly if itís unfulfilling.

You can take heart in knowing that most people have had bad jobs, and in knowing that itís up to you to decide what to do next. If you are at a crossroads now, you can avoid making decisions that could prevent you from achieving success.

Some mistakes people commonly make when deciding on careers include the following:

  • Looking at the ease of obtaining the job, rather than looking at the potential for advancement within the career.
  • Choosing a career based on expectations others have for them. Many people have fallen into this trap, ultimately ending up in jobs they hate.
  • Choosing careers without end goals, or without having clear strategies for moving up a specific career path.
  • Not taking job environment and daily activities into mind.
  • Taking a job just because it is available, even though it is most likely a dead-end job.
  • Deciding on a career because it requires little education, rather than choosing a career that will lead to financial independence and personal fulfillment.

When deciding what to do with your life, it is important that you keep the distant future in mind. Will the career you are considering pay you well and provide you with important benefits? Will you be required to work shifts that conflict with your ability to enjoy a rewarding personal life? Will you like everything about this job, or will it cause you to feel depressed and unfulfilled? Be sure you answer these questions honestly. If youíre not satisfied with the answers, keep looking for a career that will bring you fulfillment.

Know What Youíre Getting Into

Before selecting a career, learn all you can about what the job entails. Know exactly what you are getting into before signing up for classes. In addition, be sure to find out whether youíll be able to advance in your chosen profession without the need for further education. The last thing you need is a dead-end job.

Some entry level jobs that might seem appealing at first, but which donít normally lead to career advancement without additional training include:

  • Bank Teller Ė Many banks hire tellers with high school diplomas, though some do prefer to hire college graduates. A bank teller must deal with customers face-to-face, and this is not always pleasant. They often work 40 hour weeks, though in some cases the workweek extends to include Saturdays, or even Sundays. The position can be mentally and physically demanding.

    The job of bank teller has a high turnover rate; part of this is due to the fact that the next rung on the career ladder is to bank officer or supervisor. Not everyone can advance up that ladder so many tellers become frustrated and ultimately quit. In order to obtain a more desirable job in the financial sector, more education is required.

  • Phlebotomist Ė A phlebotomist works directly with people, many of whom are ill. They find themselves in close proximity to veins and blood, day in and day out. They may also collect stool samples, urine samples, and sputum samples. Many work at hospitals, blood banks, and clinics. However, many health care facilities are asking nurses and others to double as phlebotomists, reducing the number of opportunities available to new phlebotomy graduates.

    Though many people who are interested in health care jobs sign up for phlebotomy courses and spend time working as phlebotomists, the profession has a high turnover rate. Partly, this is because this is a job that does not pay as well as most other health care jobs. In addition, the hours can be demanding, and the risk of coming into contact with infectious bodily fluids can lead to excessive stress. Also, the odds of promotion are not good. People who find they enjoy phlebotomy and want to continue working in health care often go on to obtain more education, usually with a focus on nursing.

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Ė A certified nursing assistant is one step below Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and two steps below Registered Nurses (RNs). They often work around the clock in environments such as nursing homes and hospitals, performing a variety of functions. CNAs monitor vital signs, collect urine and fecal specimens, aid patients with hygiene, and transfer mobility-challenged people from beds to chairs and back again.

The job is physically demanding, and it is mentally challenging as well. Even so, CNAs are not typically well-paid, and in order to advance their careers, they must normally go back to school. To become a CNA, one needs a high school diploma and just a little specialized training. The job can be a good ďtestĒ for someone deciding whether the health care field is for them, but opportunities for advancement are severely limited.

These three examples describe jobs that are in demand, but that are not necessarily good careers. They are, in essence, jobs that lead to a dead end unless additional training is obtained. All these jobs are demanding in terms of time and energy. The likelihood a person holding one of these positions can make a successful career change is fairly small, as their time and money tend to be in short supply. Unfortunately, many bank tellers, phlebotomists, certified nursing assistants, and others like them end up feeling trapped in stressful lives. They often find themselves working hard for little pay and wishing they had made better career choices from the outset.

Right now, you have an important decision to make. Itís true that the lure of a steady paycheck can be compelling. However, it is vital that you look into the future and consider the proverbial big picture before deciding what the next step ought to be. Conduct thorough research about various career paths that interest you. Ensure you understand exactly what you will be getting into as you decide where to focus your efforts. Taking these important steps helps ensure that you remain true to yourself and make your life your own.


Take Time To Recharge

Most of us have been there. Work is piling up, bills need to be paid, kids are demanding attention, and the dog needs a bath. We want to relax Ė really, we do Ė but feelings of guilt prevent us from doing what it takes to just slow down and recharge our internal batteries. The truth is that taking a bit of ďmeĒ time is far from selfish. So often, we spend the majority of our time doing what it takes to pay those bills, attend to the needs of a growing family, or handle all sorts of other tasks. When we do this without taking time to tend to our own needs, weíre doing everyone around us a disservice, and weíre not helping ourselves, either. Here, weíll examine the importance of downtime, plus weíll offer a few hints for making the most of every minute.

Stress and Your Health

If you want to be healthy, you need downtime; itís as simple as that. The time you give yourself to relax and recharge is not a luxury. Instead, it is a requirement for physical, mental, and emotional health. Itís important that you relax, no matter what your profession. If you have a stressful job, such as a police officer, a firefighter, or even a teacher, R&R time becomes even more important. Jobs in the health care field such as a nurse or a certified nursing assistant (CNA) require plenty of downtime too. If you are one of these dedicated individuals, you know that your job is both physically and emotionally demanding. If you donít take time to relax, you risk burnout.

Job burnout caused by excess stress is a problem many people face. When youíre burned out, you donít perform well. This can be a major problem, particularly if you work in public safety or are a health care professional of any type. People depend on you to do a good job; often, their lives depend on your ability to function properly.

No matter what your profession, you need to make rejuvenation an important part of your daily regimen. If you donít, the stress of daily life can lead to problems like disrupted sleep, low attention span, and physical ailments. Without appropriate relaxation, you might turn to alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal substances to cope. All these quick ďfixesĒ will ultimately make problems worse rather than helping to solve them.

If you believe that your work schedule is too busy to allow for daily downtime, itís time you reevaluate and re-prioritize. Just taking a few five minute breaks during your regular work day will help you feel less stressed. Get some fresh air, stretch, grab a healthy snack, or spend a few minutes sharing a laugh with a co-worker. Remind yourself to notice how your body and mind feel when you begin to experience stress. When those signs manifest, get a break as soon as possible. Just taking this simple action will help you feel better immediately.

Ways to Incorporate Downtime Into Your Schedule

Whether you want to perform better at work, be a better parent, or enjoy more fulfilling relationships, youíll benefit from downtime. When you are relaxed and rested, youíll feel a sense of empowerment, plus you will find it is much easier to remain focused at work.

  • Plan Downtime Ė Besides taking little breaks as opportunities arise, build time for yourself into your schedule. If you enjoy running or yoga, plan to do those physical activities a few times each week. If you enjoy getting pedicures or massages, make them a priority, too. No matter how you like to relax, pencil these things into your schedule, so you donít forget to do them. If you miss a ďdateĒ with yourself, reschedule it the same way you would if you couldnít make a meeting with an important contact.
  • Change Your Habits Ė We all have habits that help us, and habits that donít do us much good at all. If you tend to go to sleep late after watching several hours of TV, then end up dragging yourself out of bed in the morning, you are doing yourself no favors. Try shutting off the television at night and turning in early. Get up a little earlier than usual, and use the quiet hours of the morning to get some exercise or share breakfast with your significant other.
  • Simplify Your Routine Ė Look for ways you can streamline your routine. If you tend to shop for groceries several times per week, try to cut back to doing this once or twice a week instead. If you have a hard time saying ďnoĒ when people ask you for favors, practice doing so. Donít feel that you must explain or make excuses; just say no.

It may take you some time to get used to relaxing. You may find old guilty thoughts intruding, or you may start making excuses to skip downtime. If this happens, remind yourself that recharging is a necessity, and that failing to relax will cause your stress levels to skyrocket to unhealthy levels.

Just like eating properly and getting enough exercise, relaxation is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. Since relaxation helps us reduce our stress levels, it improves our health. Some ways relaxation helps:

  • Reduces the risk of heart attack
  • Helps keep memory loss at bay
  • Staves off depression

Do what makes you feel happy, and remember that while work is important and valuable, itís not the most important thing in life. Perhaps you find happiness playing fetch with your dog, working in your garden, singing in a church choir, or participating in community theatre. Identify your inner needs and spend time getting back in touch with yourself Ė the person you are inside. When you do this, your outlook on life will improve dramatically.

Take just a little downtime every day and relax deeply each evening. Pay attention to personal relationships, and give yourself permission to slow down. These simple changes will enhance your life experience, plus it will help keep you focused when the stakes are high. Breathe, relax, and unwind. You deserve it.


Working Toward Financial Independence

Financial independence means much more than freedom from money woes. No matter what this two-word phrase means to you, it leads to personal satisfaction and incredible freedom from worry.

To some, the term ďfinancial independenceĒ evokes images of sleek, shiny sports cars, beautiful beachfront condominiums, and fascinating journeys to far-flung places. To others, the same phrase simply represents freedom from the need to rely on income from work. No matter what your vision of financial independence, itís vital that you take some initial steps to get yourself firmly on the path toward freedom from monetary woes.

Create Your Vision

Before you can take steps to becoming financially independent, it is important that you create your own vision. What does financial independence mean to you? Is it simply having the ability to pay all your bills and live comfortably with the knowledge that your time is your own? Does it involve experiences youíve always dreamed of sharing with family or friends? Spend some time creating a vision that satisfies you.

Create a Realistic Cost Analysis

Once you know what financial independence represents to you, itís time to find out how much money you need to make that vision a reality. If private airplanes, yachts, and mansions are part of your dream, understand that you will need a high level of monetary wealth to get what you want. If you have a vision of thrifty living involving an acre in the country, an organic garden that supplies inexpensive food, and easy access to a public library filled with an unlimited supply of books to read, youíll need less money to make your goal a reality. Whether your vision is wonderfully grandiose or sublimely simple, draw it up in black and white, taking inflation and the cost of maintenance into consideration.

Eliminate Debt and Unnecessary Expenses

No matter what your vision of financial freedom entails, the first step to reaching your goal is to eliminate debt. Here are some easy ways you can begin to make the changes that will lead you to freedom from the burdens that are preventing you from getting what you really want.

  • Stop unnecessary spending. Begin by noticing where and how you spend your money. Simply record each purchase you make for about a month, not leaving anything out. Once you identify areas where money is being wasted, start eliminating those needless expenses. Keeping a spending journal lets you see just how much those little extras ultimately cost over time. Calculating the cost of unnecessary expenses can show you how much you could actually be using to eliminate debt; and how much you will eventually be saving.
  • Take a hard look at your monthly bills. How much are you paying for electricity? Could you save money by turning off lights in empty rooms or turning down the air conditioning? What are you paying for cable or satellite TV? Does your family really need that level of service? What are you paying for cell phone service? Could one of the cheap cell phone plans meet your needs just as well?
  • Pay down credit accounts, and finish paying for vehicles if you havenít already. Do this aggressively. Start with the smallest debt, eliminating it and moving on to the next one. If you have department store credit cards or other accounts that charge you for inactivity, eliminate them once youíve paid them off.
  • Pay off student loans. If you weren't fortunate enough to have your education paid through scholarships or school grants, you may still have student loans to payoff. If you are having difficulty making the required payment, check to see if you qualify for hardship deferral or an income-based repayment plan.
  • Understand that credit and debt are two different things. Using a credit card for some expenses and paying it off monthly before interest accrues helps to keep your credit score up. So does paying all your accounts on time. If you want to get rid of credit cards, eliminate the ones that have the lowest spending limits, and keep those with the highest spending limits. The more available credit you have, the better your credit score will be.
  • Downsize. Decide what is necessary, and whatís not. If you are an empty nester, do you really need a 7 seater SUV and a 3500 square foot home? What about the latest smartphone or tablet? Consider Will Smithís famous quote: ďToo many people spend money they havenít earned, to buy things they donít want, to impress people they donít like.Ē Many of us are guilty of spending to impress. Downsizing allows you to spend less now, enabling you to put money to better use later.

Begin Saving and Investing

The key that unlocks the door to wealth and financial freedom is within easy reach. To gain wealth, you simply have to spend less money than you make. This does not necessarily mean you need to sign up for a stressful high-paying profession. In fact, the opposite is true. Weíve all heard stories about people with humble jobs who have retired as millionaires. We have also heard stories about lottery winners and professional athletes who have managed to allow unbelievable sums of money slip through their fingers. The difference between these stories is a basic one: People who save thrive. Those who fail to save their money end up falling into deep financial holes.

Get professional help with decisions involving saving and investing, and donít be afraid to ask for a second opinion about how best to make your money grow. Learn which financial vehicles earn money fastest, and decide which risks you are or are not willing to take. Decide which costs to cut, and think about ways to increase income so you can save more rapidly. For example, consider methods for creating passive income, so more of your time will become your own more quickly.

As you develop responsible saving habits, keep your goals in mind. As your wealth grows, decide what kind of lifestyle will satisfy you most. Keep in mind that the more real estate, cars, pinnacle experiences, and possessions you need in order to feel satisfied, the more wealth you will need to amass before finally saying goodbye to the nine-to-five. If you take the important step of eliminating excess spending now, you might find you enjoy a simpler lifestyle. As you come to enjoy simpler living, those goals may change.

Control Your Time and Do What You Love

Get into the habit of controlling the way you spend your time. Start doing things that make you happy. If you donít care much for the job or career you have, think about making a change. No matter what financial freedom looks like to you, true wealth lies in your ability to control your time, and to enjoy the way you spend every minute, hour, and day of your life. If you need more education, then consider the cost as an investment into the financial freedom you desire. If you feel passionately about the work you do, it will be a pleasure you can take great pride in.

At the same time, recognize that additional education may not be for you. Even though about 90% of the millionaires in America graduated with undergraduate degrees, many successful people have less education. Many wear jeans instead of business suits. Some have amassed great fortunes doing jobs highly degreed individuals might see as humiliating. There is nothing wrong with doing a basic job, so long as youíre simply being who you are. If youíre true to yourself, you will enjoy greater success than you will if you fabricate a life designed to bring approval from others. To be happy, you need to take your deepest needs into consideration.

No matter what you do, be careful not to allow your job to completely take over your life, as doing so can cause you to rapidly lose sight of your goals. Focus on becoming the kind of person you want to be and act the way you plan to act once you achieve your dream of financial independence. Doing this will help you to enjoy a strong sense of empowerment that will help propel you toward success.

Build a Robust Support System

Surround yourself with people who have the same type of goals you do. If you are married, you and your spouse will need to agree on a collective vision of financial independence. If your spouse is a spender and you are a saver, you will need to help him or her learn the value of saving. Without agreement, your mutual ability to reach your goals will be severely hampered. If unmarried, be selective in choosing a partner. Look for someone who shares a common vision and who finds saving money easy. Nurture friendships with people who have similar goals to your own, and find ways to enjoy free time without overspending.

Building a robust support system and nurturing solid relationships with like-minded people will help you to realize your goals. Painful as it may be at first, eliminating relationships that do nothing to help you achieve your goal of financial freedom will ultimately help to propel you forward.

The road to financial freedom is paved with choices. Every choice you make either moves you toward your goals or holds you back. Every unnecessary item you buy is a bump in the road; every good investment you make is like a little downhill stretch that makes traveling through life easier. Eliminating debt, saving money, spending your time wisely, and enjoying the company of people who complement you are steps that are just as easy to take as their opposites. These simple steps lead toward a life that is rich beyond compare Ė a life in which your vision of financial independence is a reality.


Get Your House In Order

No matter what kind of space you occupy, be it a high-rise apartment, a sprawling house in the country, or something in-between, it is your home. Whether you own it, rent it, or lease it, itís yours to take care of. Perhaps you view cleaning as a chore and gardening as something better left to others to do, or maybe you wish you could be just like MarthaÖyou know the one. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle, striving for a comfortable existence thatís relatively free from clutter. All of us benefit when our homes look neat and attractive. Here, weíll share some tips for keeping your house in order Ė and enjoying the process along every step of the way.

Make Time for Your Home

All too often, work demands us to leave the house first thing in the morning, returning only a few hours before time to go to sleep. We enter an endless cycle, and along the way, our homes gather dust. Clutter accumulates, the roof starts to leak, and black mold starts growing behind boxes stacked in the basement. All this can be easily eliminated by simply taking a little time to take care of our homes; after all, our dwellings are like extensions of ourselves.

To take good care of your home, make time in your schedule to handle various jobs around the house. If it has been some time since you scheduled housekeeping and maintenance tasks, you may need to build some new habits. If your house is a complete shambles right now, there are a few things you can do to transform it. You may get a group of friends or family members together to help you do a deep cleaning and clutter clearing. Perhaps you can hire a team of experts to help you get things under control so you have a clean slate to start with. If neither of these strategies will work for you, start picking away at the mess one drawer and one shelf at a time. You can even set a timer for fifteen or thirty minutes each day and clean until it rings. Keep doing this daily until your living space is tidy. Once youíve cleaned your entire home and put things where you want them, youíre ready for the next step.

Create Space

Creating space in your home isnít just about getting rid of things you donít use or donít like. When you create space in your home and eliminate clutter, you also create space within your heart and mind. You give yourself the ability to focus on what matters. If you have a surplus of material goods youíre not using, donating them to charity allows someone less fortunate to make good use of them.

Most of us have items that might currently be hiding away in a drawer or collecting dust on a shelf in the garage Ė things we havenít really used in over a year. Make these items the first to go. Organizing experts recommend that you get rid of one item for each new item you bring into your home. Doing this prevents clutter from re-accumulating, and it prevents you from spending money buying and maintaining items you really donít need.

Creating space is also about decorating in a way that appeals to you. It is about expressing yourself, and itís about making a real residence of your home rather than simply creating a functional space. It is about making your home a place you enjoy, and a place youíre proud to show off to others. Use colors and textures that appeal to you. If you have no idea where to begin, consult an interior designer or simply conduct some research on your own. Expressing creativity within your home can bring you great joy. When youíve put in the effort required to make your space your own, youíll feel enthusiastic about caring for what you have.

Create an Appealing Home Exterior

Once you have taken care of the inside of your home, itís time to spend some time focusing on the way the exterior looks. Remove any accumulated grime, and touch up any chipped paint or faded trim. Whether you have lots of space to work with, or just a little patio where you can grow a few herbs and some flowers in containers, create a landscaping design that appeals to you.

Not only do gardens of all sizes offer visual appeal, they allow you to get out and enjoy interacting with nature. Youíll be more likely to enjoy positive interactions with your neighbors when you spend time outside. No matter what size your garden, youíll benefit from the exercise you get when you care for your plants each day.

Finally, gardens and patios are ideal spaces for relaxing and entertaining. Imagine having a comfortable space outdoors where you can read, enjoy your daily coffee or cocktails, or just relax. Consider the sense of pride youíll feel when youíre able to grow at least a little of your own food. These are just a couple of benefits that make gardening a fantastic addition to your routine.

If youíre new to gardening, donít fuss. Home improvement centers and specialty garden shops offer a wealth of information, sometimes at no cost. In addition, there are many online gardening sites you can use for gathering inspiration and gaining insight into what to grow and how to grow it.

Use a Simple Schedule to Maintain Your Home

Once youíve created indoor and outdoor spaces that appeal to you, itís time to go into maintenance mode. The more organized you are, the less time youíll ultimately have to spend maintaining your home. Expend a little extra effort at the outset, and youíll get the best possible results.

First, come up with a little list of things that need to be done daily:

  • Do dishes
  • Wipe countertops
  • Clear clutter from tabletops into baskets or drawers
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail
  • Pull weeds as they pop up in the garden
  • Water plants as necessary and harvest any vegetables that are ready to eat
  • Put compost out after meals

Next, make a list of tasks to handle weekly, or every few days, depending on your homeís size:

  • Dust furniture
  • Clean mirrors
  • Vacuum, sweep, and mop floors
  • Clean commodes
  • Plan meals
  • Rake leaves
  • Mow grass
  • Turn compost

Then, create a list of jobs to do each month. Include seasonal maintenance work:

  • Wash windows
  • Power-wash concrete driveways, sidewalks, and vinyl siding
  • Touch up paint or deck stain if needed
  • Do large gardening tasks, such as tilling, mulching, and clearing accumulated debris
  • Schedule necessary home inspections

Every home is different, so use the examples above as a starting point and create task lists that will work for you. Creating a schedule for daily, weekly, and monthly tasks does require some effort up front; however, doing this helps prevent you from feeling overwhelmed about caring for your home. It does take several weeks for new habits to form. Be diligent in reminding yourself about daily tasks, just as you would if you were attempting to create healthy eating habits or begin an exercise regimen.

As you might know from experience, failing to take good care of your home can lead to serious problems that cost money and rob you of your time. Just as an unnoticed leak in the roof will ultimately lead to water damage and black mold, daily care and attention will do the exact opposite. With a bit of effort, you can make your home a great place to be Ė a place you love spending time in, and one youíre proud to share with visitors.