Category Archives: Purple Crayon

The Simple Secret to Getting Rid of Piles (of Laundry, Dishes and Paper)

Here it is: are you ready?

The secret is do it daily.

Make it part of your daily routine.

It’s simple, but certainly not easy.

Decide what will be part of your morning routine and what will be part of your evening routine to stay on top.

There’s always something, isn’t there?

Always roadblocks and obstacles.

Always a reason to reach down and do hard things.

So, back to piles.

This is something that I still struggle with. It’s hard to be consistent. Even when you have a routine figured out.

I’ve been working for years on a workable system to keep on top of the papers that pile up around here. Mail. Receipts. Random paperwork brought home from random places.

My first “aha” moment was when I realized I suffered from decision fatigue and couldn’t process papers at the end of the day. I just didn’t have what it took.

So, I started doing it in the morning.

I’d set the timer for 2 or 3 minutes and sort, purge and process the papers.

Knowing that it was for such a short time and knowing that I could stop when the timer went off helped. Doing it the morning when I still had some mental capacity to make the decisions was a must.

Staying consistent, every single day has been a problem. Doing the extra catch up on weekends to handle the difficult decisions has also been a problem.

But, applying the daily routine to dishes and laundry helped me realize the power of daily.

When something piles up, it feels harder than it is and is so tempting to procrastinate.

Taking it one little bite at a time feels manageable.

Making it part of a routine means you don’t have to think about whether or when to tackle it.

What can you do to make laundry part of your daily routine? Put a load of clothes in the washer at night? Or wash them at night, dry, fold and put away in the morning?

Don’t wait till you have a full load. Do a load every day, regardless.

How about dishes?

They have to be done in the evening. There’s no way around it, unless you’re committed to paper products every suppertime.

But, you can incorporate as much as possible into your morning routine: unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the sink, wiping down counters and the stove.

If you have a good morning routine, the evening routine is easier.

Keeping on top of food planning and grocery shopping also helps.

So, the secret is simple, but it’s not easy.

One challenging part is figuring out what’s going to work best for you.

Another is being consistent.

When you’re establishing a new habit, it helps to keep a calendar where you can mark off every day you’ve been successful. Seeing a string of unbroken days is motivating.

Rosemarie Groner of the Busy Budgeter suggests 28 days in a row of a successful dishes routine to establish a habit.

There’s a lot of debate these days on how many times you need to repeat something before it becomes a habit. Some say it’s not 21. Some say it’s 66.

There’s a lot of factors that influence it, but you can count on at least 21, depending on what it is and what your resistance is to it.

Do you have trouble keeping up with your piles?  Try tweaking your daily routines to get them under control.

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4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Give Up on Goal Setting

Have you given up on goal setting?

I have.

Probably a hundred times.

Okay, that might be a teeny exaggeration. But not much.

Fewer things inspire me and frustrate me as much as goal setting.

I get all excited about the newest insights and gurus and strategies. Inevitably I’ll end up frustrated and disillusioned.

I’ll wonder if it’s worth it to keep setting goals and how I can do it better.

But, here I am again, giving it another go and believing there’s a way to make it work.

Why you shouldn’t  give up on goal setting

  1. Because you need it to accomplish the big things.                                                                   It’s the big goals that always seem out of reach. Breaking down those big goals into bite size chunks is critical. It’s one reason why we never achieve the big goals. Because breaking it down step by step and then following through is simple but definitely not easy.

2. Because you can keep tweaking your goal setting strategy and make it work for you.

I’ve been learning from Ruth Sukoup’s “Crushing it”  goal setting strategy.  She identifies some missing steps that I tend to skip over, such as determine why this goal is important to you, identify potential obstacles and plan to celebrate when you hit this goal.

Implementing these tweaks, especially with practice, yields encouraging results.

3.  Because we lead highly distracted lives.  Without goals it’s extremely difficult to stay focused.

I’ve been hit on all sides this week with the importance of focus.  It’s true.  The prize will always go to the ones who can stay focused.

4. Because if you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.  Failing to hit a goal is better than not setting goals.

Not hitting goals is discouraging. It makes you want to stop setting them. But life is too precious to waste drifting.

Let’s face it.

Some parts of your life are working great.  If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Then there’s the messes.

Or the untapped potential.

Or unrealized burning desires.

Or the castles in the air that you wonder if you could really build.

That’s where the power of goal setting comes in.

There’s more.  You know it.  If only you knew how to get there.

Don’t give up. Give goal setting another go.

Did you miss these posts?

Slow and steady wins

What if you could create a different ending to your life story? 


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Five Minute Friday: Burden

It’s been a good week.  Finally feeling back in the groove.

Thankful that God allows us to express creativity in so many different ways, including blog posts on the internet.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday crew.

This week’s word prompt is burden.  


I took a brand new suitcase on our trip to the DR last month.

It was something we picked up last year doing Christmas shopping for our kids.  As it turned out, we didn’t give it, we kept it.

The suitcase has four wheels and boy is it slick to push around those airport hallways.  Pete was pulling an old suitcase with two beat up wheels.  More of a monster on ice dynamic.

But, it got me thinking back to the days when you actually had to carry your suitcase by the handle and feel the entire weight of your cargo every step the entire way.

I’m glad we’ve made huge strides in suitcase design.

But it does make me wonder:  Have we made any forward progress in helping people with their emotional baggage?  Are we gaining there?

Maybe we have. But I’d say we still have a ways to go.



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Five Minute Friday: Repeat

I’m thankful for safety in travel and good health while Pete and I were in the Dominican Republic last week for a conference.

It’s also good to be home again to snuggle and kiss my grand baby.

Linking up again with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community.

Five minute free write on this week’s word: repeat.


“Sing them over again to me,

Wonderful words of life.”

An old song from my childhood emphasizes the importance of repetition.

People are forgetful.  We need to be reminded over and over and over.

God himself realized it and asked us to take the elements of communion regularly.  So we would remember.  A time to pause and remember.

Because we so easily forget.

It takes the accountability of a community to help us remember.

It takes regular rhythms of pause.

How desperately I need it.

How well He knows me.

How thankful I am.


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5 Break Through Books for Today’s Creatives

I heard a podcast guest say she doesn’t like to read business books for her job, because there’s so many new business books and so few new ideas.

So, when authors do come up with new ideas, we need to celebrate, clap and cheer.

These are break through books.

These are the books that are going to help today’s creative.  Because we are more distracted than ever before.  But, it’s easier than ever before to reach our audience and build our tribe and find our patrons and make a living.

Creatives face unique problems:  creating a life where they can do their work well, finding the people that appreciate their work, making a living from what they create.  It’s all a challenge, even today.

These are the pioneers who are showing the way.

(Note: “Buy now” links are affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase will support this site.)

  Buy now from Amazon

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Newport first builds the case for the importance of deep work, then he expounds on practical steps to accomplish it.  Simply put, what is needed is focus and discipline.

I agree with Newport’s main premise:  we are doing worse work because we’re distracted.  I see it all the time in the low quality of books that are published and the huge vacuums that exist in many genres for high quality work.

Newport is a college professor.  Publishing in scholarly journals is the deep work he needs to accomplish.  I think the principles apply to all writers, and probably all knowledge workers in general.

I think the most profound books are ones that are simple common sense:  ones that people agree with and see the wisdom of, but haven’t be able to articulate themselves.  It seems so simple.  So obvious.  And, yet, it wasn’t done before.  I would put The Purpose Driven Life in that category as well as Deep Work.

   Buy now from Amazon

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt

I’ve followed Michael Hyatt’s blog for a while and find his advice practical and succinct.  I even self-hosted this blog on his recommendation and with his affiliate link.  Even though the book was nothing more than a collection of blog posts, some of which I’d already read, I found the information helpful. Especially interesting to me were the collection of short chapters about using Twitter: a new world for me.  All his writing rings true, down to the necessity of building a platform and the step by step on how to do it.

Building a platform online changes so fast, that some of the information in this book is dated, but the basic premise remains the same:  you can build an audience or a tribe or a following by leveraging the incredible resources on the internet today.

  Buy now from Amazon

The One Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

I’ve been wanting to read The  One Thing FOREVER. I think I’ve been on my library’s waitlist for over a year.

Now I know what all the rave reviews are about.  This is a GREAT book!

It addresses the problem of distracted focus and the importance of lasering in on your most important work in order to achieve excellence.

A huge light bulb moment for me reading The One Thing was the idea of chaos derailing you and distracting you from your one thing.

Chapter 17, The Four Thieves of Productivity hit me hard.

The Four Thieves are:

1. Inability to Say “No”
2. Fear of Chaos
3. Poor Health Habits
4. Environment Doesn’t Support Your Goals.

Wow. These were so good and right on the money.

“The One Thing explains the success habit to overcome the six lies that block our success, beat the seven thieves that steal time, and leverage the laws of purpose, priority, and productivity.” –from Goodreads

   Buy now from Amazon

Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins

This book is a game changer.

It challenges long held beliefs and deconstructs myths.

Real Artists Don’t Starve doesn’t just refer to painters and sculptors, but writers, poets, and creatives of all types.

The twelve principles that emerged from Jeff studying creatives are supported by success stories from today and throughout history.

I love lots of them, but my favorite is about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and the literary group they belonged to, the Inklings.  They shaped each other’s art.  It debunks the myth of the lone genius and highlights the need to work in collaboration.

This message is important for young people who have been told to put their dreams on hold in favor of a steady income.

It’s also important for older people who have not pursued their dreams believing in the inability of artists to make a living.

It’s time for a paradigm shift and Jeff Goins is leading the way

  Buy now from Amazon

Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz

If Jeff Goins makes the argument that creatives should be getting paid for their work, Mike Michalowicz teaches the best way to handle that business income.

What an incredible book.

It tackles the default method of operating a small business:  pay all expenses first and take profit last.

Michalowicz argues that you when you operate that way, expenses will take all your income.  If you plan to take profit first, and also make a plan to compensate the owners, set aside money for taxes and operate on what’s left, your business becomes much healthier.

Expansions are realistic.  You don’t face cash flow problems.

I think it’s a great way to go.


And there you have it:  five break through books for today’s creatives.  How to do the work, how to get paid for it and how to manage the money once it starts flowing.

What books would you recommend for today’s creative? 

P.S. Did you see these book lists?

5 Can’t Miss Books for Introverts

Love Stories You Can Feel Good Recommending

Awesome Middle Grade Novels Adults Will Love

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Five Minute Friday: Praise

Welcome to our world, sweet Caroline!  I’m lovin’ wearing the Grandma hat.

Today’s Five Minute Friday word prompt is praise.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community.


Sometimes praise comes easily.

When the baby arrives safely and mom and baby are healthy and you take on the “Grandma” role for the first time.

But life doesn’t always go the way you hope and pray.

How do you praise when the answer to prayer is not what you hoped?

First of all you have to grieve.  Pry those fingers lose from the dream that died.  Sorrow and mourn and cry.

Then, as John Piper says, you wash your face and embrace the life God has given you.

The praise afterwards might be a little more sober, looking towards the ultimate reality and the ultimate praise that no earthly joy can touch.


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What bloggers can learn from Fred Rogers

I’m fascinated by the life of Fred Rogers.  I admire what he accomplished and what he stood for.      He was a creative genius, for sure.  But, I think it’s safe to say that his driving motivation wasn’t to build a following or become rich and famous.

Fred Rogers is best known for his decades long running show for children on PBS called Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

What is less well known is that he was a Presbyterian minister.

It’s interesting that he built his show around “neighbor”, probably more than a nod to the Good Samaritan.

He was intrigued by the medium of television.

But, he purposely focused on one child.  He talked to one child every day.

Building a following after all, is just one person plus one person multiplied a lot of times.

If you have a passion to communicate something, that passion will build something. If you focus on one person, and touch them deeply with your message, chances are, you can scale it, and touch lots of people.

I think we can learn from that.

It’s easy to look at people who have a  huge following and forget that they are touching one person at a time.  That is especially true for blogging.

Of course, you do have the interesting dynamic of a group of fans of the same person, especially if they show up in person in the same room.




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Feeling Discouraged?

Do you struggle with discouragement?  I do.

The feeling that you’re not making any forward progress.  The temptation to throw in the towel and walk away.

The temptation to not get up time after time after time.

You do have to know when it’s time to walk away.  When it’s time to stop trying.

But when the right thing to do is to keep going, the best antidote I know to discouragement is perspective.

Getting up above the daily grind and seeing the long view again.  Looking at our lives through the lens of eternity.

Each day’s efforts has an impact on eternity.

We will soar like wing as eagles. We will run and not grow weary. We will walk and not faint.

It’s the eagle’s perspective that we need. The 30,000 foot view. Soaring above the daily problems.

Knowing the why is important. Believing that there is a purpose. Believing that God is in control.

It’s impossible to go on without those assurances.

We need to be reminded of them daily.

It takes a renewing of the mind to change our perspective.

We have to change our habits of thought.

That takes time and practice and intention.

Some of it is choosing to believe truth.

Some of it is focusing on the positive instead of the negative.

Some of it is meditating on the love of God for us.

Some of it is focusing on hope instead of despair.

We can’t live without hope.

We have to remind ourselves of truth.

We need to meditate on it.

What we believe and what we tell ourselves all day long makes a huge difference in how we act and what we do.

Figuring out our core beliefs is critical and difficult. Because our hearts are deceitful.

Challenging the lies is an important part of finding perspective.

Aligning ourselves with truth is important and difficult. It takes a step of faith or a leap of faith. Sometimes we have to take God at his word, even when we’re not feeling it.

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Five Minute Friday: Potential

It’s good to be back to the Five Minute Friday challenge.  Last weekend we got away for a little R & R.  We’re still trying to recoup from a busy summer.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community.

This week’s word prompt is potential.

I don’t think we should be telling kids that they can grow up to be whatever they want to be.

The truth is: they can’t.

Some don’t have the physical capabilities to be an Olympic athlete.

Some don’t have the metal capabilities to be a rocket scientist.

Isn’t it a disservice to tell kids to dream big and watch them shoot for a future that is unrealistic?

On the other hand, there’s no accounting for grit and determination.

People have accomplished a lot of things that are unrealistic.

But, I think we should shoot straight with kids and let them know that they are wired for great potential in some areas, but not every area.

Not every dream they can dream for their life should be pursued.


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