Why You Shouldn’t Start a Charity and What you Should Do Instead

Nonprofits are inherently inefficient. No matter what, a traditional charitable organization that depends on donations to survive will take double the work, if not more, to accomplish its mission. It’s in the bones of the concept. There are better ways to do it.

So You Want to Start a Nonprofit

Do you want to start a nonprofit? Do you see a need that you think you can fulfill with a creative new solution? I know you’re excited, and you want to start right now, but just wait. Let’s do some working and thinking first.

Do Your Research

Research for hours, for days, for months even! Do not stop until you are 100% sure that an organization doing something even remotely similar does not already exist. If it does, change course. Help them. I’m very sure they would LOVE your help and suggestions, unless they are huge and overly bureaucratic or they’re brand new and the founder still has founder’s syndrome (give them another year, they’ll change their tune).

Stay Away From the 501(c)(3)

Okay, you have researched to the ends of the internet and you cannot find anything even close to what you want to do. You are absolutely sure that your idea will revolutionize the world! Still don’t start a charity. “But, Veronica!” Hear me out.

Start a for-profit business that accomplishes your goal while making money. You may have to change your idea a little or a lot, but I promise if you think creatively enough, you will find a way. Begging for money takes So. Much. Time.  Then, once you get the money, you often are very restricted in how you can spend it. This make creative problem solving and changing paths on the fly when issues come up quite difficult.

There’s also the board management, the data collection and management (gotta keep those funders happy with numbers), the extra filing work, the restrictions, the meetings, the events. It all takes so much time — time you could be spending doing the work to solve the problem.

The Example

Let me give you an example. I founded a charity called Project Food Forest. The mission of our organization is to plant public food forests in and near Sioux Falls, SD. We utilize what we call “host sites,” who are private land owners who agree to plant a food forest on part of their property, welcome the public onto that part of their property, and maintain the food forest.

We use donations and grants to fund our projects. I also have done private landscaping designs and consultations. All of that money went straight back into Project Food Forest’s account. I have not taken one penny for salary, and we have not been able to hire any staff. About a year ago, I experienced severe burnout, and I haven’t even remotely recovered. We are stuck at a hump where in order to do the things we need to do next, we need to have more resources, but the board and I are taxed, with nothing left to get over that hump.

Needless to say, it has been exhausting, inefficient, and difficult. I like to be efficient with everything I do and spending so much time asking for money rather than doing the thing I wanted to do seems ludicrous to me.

Necessary disclaimer here: I am eternally grateful for all the donations and grants our organization has received. People love to give money to help solve problems and fulfill needs, and that is awesome. However, if I could start over, I would make it much more efficient and cut out at least 75% of the work. And this is what I am advising to anyone looking to start a nonprofit.

A better way to set up Project Food Forest would have been to start a for-profit low-maintenance edible landscape design and consultation organization that uses part of the income earned to design and implement the public food forests. We should have charged host site property owners for our services to design, coordinate, and help implement the food forest. This would help fund our work and the materials for the project, but it would also help ensure a greater sense of ownership of the food forest. If they have to pay for it, they really want it, and they’re going to make sure they have the resources to maintain it.

From the get-go, we had the charitable ask mindset rather than a sell mindset. Not only would a sell mindset in this example be more efficient and easier, it would be more sustainable. Project Food Forest would be more sustainable as a company (for one, I would have been earning money for the countless hours I worked and probably would have been less likely to burn out) and the food forests themselves would be more sustainable.

I will add that there are benefits nonprofits receive that would be harder to receive as a for-profit. For example, posting on online volunteer boards like volunteer.org would not be possible, and it might be harder to get volunteers as a for-profit. Not impossible, just harder. Nonprofits often receive steep discounts on software, pay less in taxes, and donors’ contributions are tax-exempt. But even accounting for all the benefits we get as a nonprofit, I still think a for-profit would be much more sustainable. Creative thinking will get you around every obstacle you encounter, especially when you have the freedom of a non-charitable business.

For-Profit Can Be For-Purpose

For-profit doesn’t equal greedy, evil, businessmen in suits. All it means is you are earning money to do a thing. The purpose of each organization might differ; many businesses do exist simply to make all the money. But many of them exist to solve problems, and they make money doing it. Do not be a martyr. You’ll get sick of it, and your family will get sick of it. Be efficient. Make money. Love life. Lift yourself up while you are lifting others up. It will all work so much better.

If you’re thinking of starting a nonprofit and don’t think it’s possible to do it as a for-profit, post your idea and situation in the comments! I’ll try to help with some creative thinking, and other readers can lend their ideas as well.

Spontaneity and Joy – Don’t Wait for the Stars to Align, Just Go For It

Today I had to travel a couple hours away for a food forest consultation. On the way there I drove by a state park I haven’t visited before. It looked like it might be pretty nice.

Luckily, the meeting ended early enough that I was able to stop by the park on the way home. I didn’t have much time, because I had to be back in town in time to pick up my youngest from school, but if you wait until everything is perfect to do something, you might not get a chance to do it. Snatch up every little opportunity for joy you can get.

I stopped in to see what the fee was, because I’d never been to a Minnesota state park. It was a little high for 45 minutes of checking out a new park, but, again, I decided to go for it.

I drive down to the bottom campground, and it’s all just beautiful. This park is better than any of the state parks near me. There’s a spring-fed pond, a river, waterfalls, tons of wildlife, wonderfully managed native plant biodiversity, challenging elevation change, and lots of trails to explore.

I hadn’t planned to go hiking or running, so I was wearing jeans and ankle boots. Good enough for hiking, not the best for trail running.

I start walking around and take a picture of the map at the beginning of a trail, just in case. After I got to one intersection, I decided to message a friend and ask her if she’d pick up my youngest from school if I got lost. She accepted the challenge.

I was really enjoying myself on what I thought would be a loop, but I was wrong. I got to an intersection from which it seemed impossible to get back, so I just started backtracking. Only I didn’t have much time left so I had to run the whole way.

So here I am, running through rocky and uneven trails in my ankle boots and jeans, snatching and eating wild plums while I ran. (I mean, you can’t see wild plums and not eat them.)

I made it back to my car at exactly the time I had planned on leaving, a little too sweaty for an hour and twenty minute drive, but it was 100% worth it. I am so glad I stopped to explore, and I will definitely be making future trips specifically to visit the park with my family and friends.

If you get an urge to do something, even if it’s not the ideal situation, follow that urge! Joy doesn’t have to be experienced in 7-day increments.

Also, you really can’t use your clothing for an excuse to not exercise. If I can navigate that terrain running in heeled boots, you can totally get your sweat on in what you’ve got. If I had been wearing less comfortable shoes, I would have just gone barefoot. Luckily I didn’t have to, because it’s acorn season.

Tell me your stories of spontaneity and joy!

Let Go of the Grudge: How to Forgive and Why

You’re walking barefoot in the forest, soaking up the energy from the earth (no really, you should totally do that) when suddenly you feel a sharp pain in the sole of your foot. You find a moss-covered boulder to sit on and examine your foot where you find a brand new splinter.

It hurts like hell. It’s throbbing. You start blowing on it, trying to will the pain away while cursing the damn splinter for doing this to you.

Your hiking partner chimes in, “Don’t worry, I’ve got tweezers!” She starts rustling in her bag.

Your eyes snap open as you quickly slip your foot down and stand up. “No, no, no, I’ll just take care of it when I get home.” You promptly start limping down the trail, away from your surgeon-wannabe friend.

You get home and the pain is still there, but manageable. The last thing you want to do is start digging around and make it hurt all over again. Besides, it’ll probably come out on its own, right?

As the days slip by, the splinter, instead of working its way out, becomes more deeply embedded in your foot. You can’t see it anymore, and the skin around it is red and swollen. The wound has become infected, and now the problem is worse than it was in the first place.

Now imagine that splinter is a grudge and your foot is your heart. Forgiveness can be hard. It’s not always necessary to let someone back into our lives, but it is always necessary to forgive.

Why would you forgive someone whom you never plan to see again? Because it’s taking up room in your heart and head. It is a form of suffering for you to hold onto a grudge like that. Neither of you can go back and change what happened. Now is the time to let it go and free that space for joy.

A great trick for forgiving someone is to do the following meditations:

  1. Metta – Focus on this person. On every out-breath, breathe loving-kindness into them. On every in-breath, inhale their suffering. After all, their suffering is probably the reason they hurt you, right? Be sure when you inhale someone’s suffering you are grounded to the Earth and you focus on sending that energy straight through your core, out your bottom, and into the Earth (regardless of whether that does anything physically, it will help you emotionally).
  2. Three stages of life – Focus on this person. Imagine them as they are right now. Now imagine them as a baby – brand new to this planet, innocent, helpless. Imagine their toothless smiles and baby laughs, their tiny feet and perfect baby skin. Love them. Now imagine them as a 90-year old, frail person at the end of his or her life. Imagine their family gathered around their bed, soaking in their last minutes with that person.

Now let’s do some analyzing. I want you to write all of these down. Seriously, don’t read any farther until you’ve opened up a Word document or grabbed a pen and paper.

Answer the following questions from an unbiased view. Try to forgive them first. Remember, you need to get that splinter out whether you’re going to go back into the forest barefoot or not. If you can’t, this exercise might help you to. Ready?

  1. What did the person do?
    • Answer this with only the facts. For example, you might say, “The ball that she threw hit me in the face,” not, “She threw a ball at my face because she’s a bitch and wanted to break my nose.”
  2. Do you think that they did it to intentionally hurt you?
    • Try giving them the benefit of doubt.
  3. What are the reasons that person might have done what they did?
    • If you don’t know, ask them!
  4. Are they worth having in your life?
    • Did that person bring you into the world? Raise you? Are they a relative to your kids? Do they share many of your values and make a great friend? Are they still in your friend group, creating awkward situations because of the existing tension?
  5. What are the benefits of letting them back into your life?
  6. What are the disadvantages of letting them back into your life?

Hopefully that post-forgiveness analysis allowed you to step back and think about the current situation less from a place of hurt and more from a place of critical thinking. That’s the goal, anyway, because emotions can be great and all, but they do tend to cloud our judgement from time to time.

Holding grudges steals time from us in many ways, whether that’s in our thoughts (like reliving the conversation over and over) or in rearranging our lives to try to avoid someone. I hope this post helps you get a little closer to letting go of that grudge and freeing yourself.

Do you have any forgiveness tips?

 

 

 

Why Dreams are Like Bubbles and How to Prevent Them from Popping

My dog, Sita, loves to pop bubbles. She’s like the dog who’s always bringing you a ball to play fetch, except she’s standing by the bubble gun, whining.

She’s quite good at it. Often she’ll stand on her hind legs like a bear and pop all the high bubbles she can reach.

But sometimes her eye catches the highest bubble, and she decides none of the other bubbles matter. Her vision narrows to a tunnel as all the other easy-to-reach bubbles float past her and expire. And then right before she’s able to reach the bubble, it fades into nothing, disappears.

Imagine now, that the bubbles are dreams, and you’re Sita.

What’s the highest, most difficult-to-reach goal you have? Are you working toward it, or waiting for it to come to you?

For a lot of people, I think that top bubble might be a large sum of money. That’s a fine goal to have, but if you sit and wait for that bubble to fall into your snapping jaws, you’ll never get it.

Sometimes she gets lucky, and she gets that bubble. It’s like winning the lottery. All you have to do is buy a lottery ticket (which is little more than zero work) and possess an incredible amount of luck. Don’t plan on winning the lottery.

What is Sita missing out on by letting the lower bubbles fall past? Maybe she doesn’t care. Maybe those bubbles mean absolutely nothing to her.

If they’re smaller, more attainable dreams, you should think about whether you should snatch those up, or just forget about them, grab a stool, and jump for that high goal.

Big goals require big work. If you want to take a month to explore the Andes, you’ll have to do things to make it happen. You’ll need money for living and travel expenses. You’ll need the freedom to be gone that long (and if you don’t currently have that, you’ll need to figure out how to acquire it). You’ll need to book the trip and figure out the logistics. And you’ll need to get off your couch and leave.

But sitting and waiting for your dream to happen is a sure-fire way for your dream to never happen. Don’t let your bubble pop.

If you know what your dreams are, but you haven’t figured out how to achieve them, I want you to immediately start writing everything down. Now.

  1. What are your dreams? List them in order of importance or attainability — your choice. I list them in order of time frame; the most short-term are at the top. Add photos if you like.
  2. When do you want these dreams to happen? Back to the Andes example — do you really want to wait until you’re retired to travel? Or do you want to be able to enjoy it more while you’re young and traveling isn’t so hard on your body?
  3. What exact steps do you have to take to make these dreams happen? Do you have to have money? Exactly how much do you need? How are you going to make that happen? Save? Start a business? Get a second job? Pare down on expenses?

There are a lot of different ways to do this. I created a sort of vision board with timelines and steps in my Google Keep. Keep is where I also keep my need list and different planning and to-do lists. All of my dreams and goals are pinned above my other lists so that I have to see them every time I open Keep. This is incredibly motivating for me.

This is the desktop version of Keep. I also have the app on my phone. Notice my goals aren’t that crazy. My short-term dreams are some of the lower bubbles, because the results of the lower bubbles will act like stepping stools to get the higher ones. My financial goal isn’t to become a millionaire. It’s the exact amount of money I need to get the things and experiences I want in the near future.

Wherever you keep your list, keep it in a place where you will see it often. Then, take the steps necessary to get it done. Just start working on it, especially if it’s a short-term goal. What steps can you take right now to make your dream a reality?

Remember when your parents told you anything is possible? (You know, before you grew up and then suddenly the opposite was true.) They were right. Don’t accept excuses. If you want it, get after it, even if that means bucking the status quo and doing things completely differently than everyone else.

You have one life. That’s it. How do you want to spend it? Go get those bubbles.

Is a Lawn Right For You? How to Choose the Best Low-Maintenance Landscaping

Here’s a bit of trivia for the American readers, what we refer to as a lawn or a yard, most of the rest of the world would call a garden. We tend to think of “gardens” like flower or vegetable beds requiring a lot of work, and of lawns (mowed grass) as something easier to maintain. And while this can be true, it doesn’t have to be. In this post, I’ll show you how to make your yard lazefficient.

This article contains a couple affiliate links for some of the products that I use myself and suggest to others. I only recommend products that I use and like. If you decide to purchase an item from a link, it will help me be able to provide more awesome content for you.

Why most lawns are not lazefficient

Lawns require mowing at the very least, usually about once a week. Depending on your lawn and your mower, that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. Plus you need to maintain your mower and other lawn equipment. Most people also do one or more of these additional tasks: trimming, watering, fertilizing, applying pesticides and/or pulling weeds, aerating, dethatching, raking, and reseeding.

“But I hire out,” you might say. Well, then you are paying someone else money to do it, and you traded your time to make that money. This means you are likely either prioritizing your lawn over other things (like saving, investing, traveling, etc.), or you are working more to make more so you can also have those things. Either way, it will cost you time.

If you have a lawn, I’d like you to take a minute and think about these questions.

Why do you have a lawn?

Do you prefer the look of lawns over other types of gardens? Do you and your family and pets play in or otherwise utilize the lawn? Do you think it might just be the least work? Do you want to fit in socially?

How much time do you spend on your lawn?

Track how much time you spend on your lawn over the growing season. How important are those hours to you? If they are more important than your lawn, then you may want to consider replacing it with something lower maintenance (see below).

Do you need a lawn?

Some people are required to maintain lawns, usually because of homeowners associations. If that’s so, you’ll need to keep the lawn or work to change the rule holding you back from lawn freedom.

Should you keep your lawn?

If you take great pride in your lawn, and you love the look and utility of lawns, then spending your time and money on it makes sense. If you don’t really see a compelling reason to keep spending all your time and money on a lawn, I’ve got some options for you.

Keep the lawn, reduce the maintenance

There are ways to make a lawn require less maintenance.

  1. The less you fertilize and water the slower your grass will grow. Do not wait until the grass gets long and then mow it super short. That will severely stress the grass and invite many more weeds, some of them invasive, which you will then have to spend time eradicating. Mow high on a regular basis.
  2. Stop giving a damn what others think. Let non-invasive “weeds” grow. Many of them actually are trying to improve the quality of the soil. And if you have a hot, dry spell, your lawn will be greener than others who don’t water, because some of the weeds will be more tolerant to drought than grass.
  3. Don’t rake. Just mow over the leaves to shred them. This saves you time raking and fertilizing.
  4. Choose other grasses. Some grasses are easier to maintain (and more eco-friendly) than others. You’ll want to make sure you have a mix of cool season and warm season grasses, the right grasses for the amount of shade you have, and native grasses that can tolerate your climate’s extremes. There are also grasses that grow low or fall flat so you might not have to mow at all (check with your city’s ordinances if you live in town).
  5. Replace your grass with low-growing plants that don’t need to be mowed and can tolerate foot traffic. Stepables.com has many options to look at. Pros: You’ll still have an area in which to play and entertain with less work. Cons: Grass and other taller growing plants will find their way into your yard and you’ll have to either keep pulling them or start mowing again. Especially if your yard is very sunny. If it’s in full shade and you plant an aggressive shade-loving understory, you might have an easier time.
  6. Replace gas-powered lawn equipment with electric equipment. We have this mower and this trimmer (affiliate links). The only maintenance we have to do is sharpen the blade on the mower and replace batteries (last for years). I’m so glad we don’t have to worry about engines and gas and spark plugs. Bonus — they are much quieter than gas-powered machines as well.

Replace the lawn

If you don’t use your lawn, and you don’t particularly prefer the look of a lawn over other options, or you want to save time on lawn maintenance while also having a great looking yard, consider replacing the lawn with something else. Here are some options:

  1. Wildflower gardens
  2. Native prairie gardens
  3. Wooded area/grove
  4. Food forest

It depends on your property’s size, location, and other conditions, but the more natural a garden is, the easier it is to maintain. What do you want out of it? Do you just want something easy? Pretty? Do you want something that’s beneficial to the local wildlife, or maybe even food and medicine for your family? You really can grow food and medicine in a low-maintenance garden. I do it in my front yard, and it does much better than my annual vegetable garden (which I will be giving up after this year, because it’s not lazefficient enough for me).

Here is my front garden. It consists of only perennials or self-seeding annuals. Most of the plants in the garden are edible or medicinal. The rest are pretty and beneficial to wildlife. I designed this garden to form a little ecosystem where all the plants, and the visiting animals, work together to support each other, requiring less work from me. Here is a list of many of the plants harmonizing in my front yard

  • Apple tree
  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • Chicory
  • Yarrow
  • Comfrey
  • Milkweed
  • Salvia
  • Sunflowers
  • Carrots
  • Mints
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Parsnip
  • Salsify
  • Lovage
  • Rhubarb
  • Rainbow orach
  • Lambs quarters
  • Wild strawberry
  • Silver buffaloberry
  • Purple poppy mallow
  • Coneflower (echinacea)
  • Black-eyed susan
  • Garden sorrel
  • Salad burnet
  • Mustard
  • Valerian

These plants grow densely and the ground is also mulched, so most weeds are suppressed. I only spend maybe a total of one hour, probably less, in the entire growing season pulling weeds. Unless I’m trying to germinate new seeds, I also do not have to water this garden. These plants all grow like weeds, so I don’t need to fertilize other than chop-and-drop mulching and whatever the animals leave behind for me.

Here’s a commercial a local nonprofit aired featuring my property a couple years ago (skip to 0:53 to get to my yard or watch the whole thing to learn about river health).

We have a lawn, too, and we spend exponentially more time just mowing and trimming the lawn than I spend on the garden. We chose that trade-off because we do use our lawn areas. That’s something we will continually assess as our family grows and changes. But my front gardens are my absolute favorite part of our yard right now. 

I’ll write other posts that give more detail on how to implement these low-maintenance gardens, so definitely subscribe if you’re looking forward to that. If you want to make changes now and don’t feel like you can take the time to learn everything, contact me and I can help you remotely with a consultation.

22 Time Saving Cleaning Hacks You Can Start Today

We all love cleaning, right? Just kidding. But it does have to be done, and you can do it more quickly with these time-saving hacks. These are the lazefficient techniques I use, but I’m sure you have more tips to add in the comments.

This article contains a couple affiliate links for some of the products that I use myself and suggest to others. I only recommend products that I use and like. If you decide to purchase an item from a link, it will help me be able to provide more awesome content for you.

Dusting and Floors

1. Dust dart

After you’ve finished washing or loading dishes or wiping counters, take the well-wrung out dish cloth you’ve been using and dust one room or one floor with it. Trust me, you don’t need pledge or any other fancy dusting solution; a damp cloth works wonderfully. If you commit to one dust dart every time you use a dish cloth, you’ll never have to do a full dusting session again, and it only takes an extra minute or two each time.

2. Minimize decorations, knickknacks, and baubles

Minimalism has become extremely popular, and for good reasons. Take a tip from the minimalist world and cut down on the amount of things you have to dust, move, and clean around.

3 . Invest in a robotic vacuum

If you have hard floors or low-to-medium pile carpets, a robotic vacuum might be just that extra bit of help you need. After we got a dog, we invested in a eufy robotic vacuum (affiliate link) to keep the floors in better shape between jobs with the upright vacuum. The thing is pretty smart and does a great job navigating all of our furniture and staircases. I’ve also noticed an additional benefit — in order to run the machine, my floor needs to be completely picked up. So now my floors are less hairy on a daily basis and most often they are tidied up as well.

One side note, if you have a pet, I recommend you avoid possible disasters and never run the vacuum unless you are there to supervise it. I’ve heard too many horror stories (worth the read) to risk the tremendous aftermath cleanup.

4. Get a FURminator

We have a golden retriever. I love how soft golden retrievers are, but I’m not a fan of seeing fur fly every time I pet her. I finally invested in a FURminator about a month ago and it is worth every single penny. They have specific designs for cats and dogs (affiliate links) of different sizes and hair lengths.

I use the FURminator on Sita once a week and it has really cut down on the amount of hair that I have to dust and vacuum. The amount of hair that is left on the ground after deshedding can be quite large. Maybe you want to take all the time you save on cleaning and start spinning pet hair yarn and knit with it or sell it to local knitters at a premium. Just a suggestion!

Laundry

5. Reuse towels

If every member in your house is showering every day and using a new towel each time, you are most likely washing a ton of towels. If you are washing properly, you are hopefully clean when you finish showering. So dry yourself off, hang the towel on the towel rack or over the shower curtain rod, and go about your business; then repeat. Doing this will save you water and electricity as well. Just make sure you hang them to dry or you’ll end up with stinky towels.

6. Wear clothes more than once

If your clothes or pajamas are not stinky, sweaty, or soiled, you really don’t need to wash them every time. If something is is still wearable when you take it off, fold it up or hang it up right away. Don’t throw it in a laundry basket or on the floor to get wrinkly.

Not only will this practice save you time on washing, folding, and putting away laundry, it will also save water, electricity, and money buying new clothes, because washing less often will help your clothes last longer.

7. Pre-wash wipe

Do you completely forget about the laundry room when dusting? While you’re loading the washer, use one of the articles you’re loading, like a towel, and wipe off the top of the washer and dryer or dust other surfaces in your laundry room. Then toss it in the washer.

Bed and Bath

8. Use a card to clean the bathroom

If you spend way too much time scrubbing at soap scum, try the method I use. I wrote about it in depth on my personal blog, but here is the gist. For soap scum in the tub, spray with 50/50 vinegar water and sprinkle with baking soda. Then take an old ID card or credit card and scrape the soap scum. It’ll come off very easily into globs that just wipe or rinse away.

9. Wipe when you wash

When you’re at the sink to wash your hands, after you wet your hands, just use them to quick wipe off the sink and faucet. Then proceed to lather up with soap and rinse like normal. It adds about 3 seconds to your hand-washing routine, but keeps your bathroom looking much cleaner (all the time!) without having to get out all the supplies.

10. Skip the flat sheet

Maybe you really love your flat sheet for some reason, but we don’t use them at our house. We don’t really see the point of them except to get all tangled up at your feet and add time to your bed making routine. You’d be surprised how fast you can make a bed when it’s just throwing a comforter back in place. Or…

11. Don’t make your bed

If number 10 doesn’t save enough time for you, you can just give up on the whole bed making thing. Really, we all know to stay out of each other’s rooms anyway, but if you need an excuse, how about this: some scientists are saying that leaving your bed unmade during the day can help reduce numbers of dust mites.

Kitchen

12. Tidy the fridge every time you get groceries

Each time you come home from the market and start putting away your groceries, do a little tidying in the fridge. Maybe organize one shelf, clean out a produce bin, or wipe up some spots. Find any old leftovers or expired foods that need to be thrown and take them out. Now you can put away your groceries. Just deal with the expired food containers when you do dishes next.

13. Put away clean dishes while cooking

When you’re waiting for that water to boil or the veggies to cook, put some dishes away. It’s a nice task that can be done in little chunks.

14. Load the dishwasher as you go

Every time you finish with a dish, rinse it off and put it in the dishwasher (if you have one, obviously). Don’t just throw it on the counter and wait to do it in batches. If you prefer to do it in batches, that’s cool. At least make sure you rinse everything off thoroughly right after you’re finished with it.

15. Assign every member of the family a water bottle

Every family member gets one water bottle that they drink out of all the time (rather than glasses). You don’t even have to wash the water bottles every day. It’s just water. This will save time washing tons of glasses, but it will also help everyone drink more water. Also, take your bottles with you everywhere you go. Don’t buy bottled water, guys. That’s gross for the planet, and seriously, it’s just tap water in disposable bottles.

16. Post-dishes wipe-down

Every time you finish a sink of dishes, take the cloth you just used and wipe off all the counters, appliances, kitchen table, sink, and faucet. It only adds about a minute to the routine, but will significantly reduce scrubbing time in the future.

All the Rest

17. Let the rain wash your car.

If you have a garage and a vehicle, bring your car outside in a downpour and let the rain do the dirty work. This is my husband’s only car washing method. Is his car always sparkling? No, but he is perfectly happy with the way it looks. Luckily, he doesn’t give a damn what other people think.

18. Put things back properly

Okay, this one is where I’m really working to improve right now.  I would organize everything really well, then as I started using things, I’d just throw them anywhere when I was done with them. Eventually the area would be a huge mess and I’d have to spend several hours reorganizing the space. Don’t do that! Spend the extra few seconds to actually put everything back where it belongs and you won’t have to keep reorganizing your tool bench (or sewing station or cereal cupboard).

19. Listen to podcasts or audiobooks while you clean

I often feel like I’m wasting time cleaning. I’m not, of course — a clean house is extremely important to the health and well being of my family and myself. I think it’s just not mentally stimulating enough for me. And it can get pretty lonely. So I listen to podcasts and audiobooks and learn while I clean (and drive, and cook, and sometimes run).

20. Skip the major productions

I’m sure you’ve noticed a recurring theme in these tips. Do things in bite size chunks as you go about your day to seamlessly integrate tasks into your routines so you don’t have to waste a whole weekend day cleaning. Remember, for example, that you don’t have to mop every time you sweep. Making the task easier will make you more likely to do it. If you sweep every day or every few days, you don’t really need to mop that often, because the floors don’t get as gross.

21. Keep floors, counters, and tables picked up

It makes the whole house look cleaner, and it’s easier to do quickly a couple times a day rather than once in a while for a long time.

22. Enlist your kids

If you have kids and they’re not already helping, have them start. I struggle with this, mostly because I like things done my way. I give them tasks once in a while, but I should be giving them more regular chores other than keeping their rooms clean.

That’s it! How many of these hacks do you already do? What other hacks can you add to this list?

The Ultimate Time Saver: Stop Giving a Damn What Others Think

I know, you’ve read countless productivity and efficiency tips. You probably just read a post about 400 hacks to save time. But this post is gonna get deep. Here, we’ll get to the soul of our over-crammed lives, find a fear that lurks in the dark, and smash it to pieces.

Why do we care so much?

So why do we care about what others think of us? Don’t worry, we have a really good reason. You see, humans are social animals. Our ancestors lived in tribes over a long period of evolution. They had to fit into their tribes and be accepted or they would be rejected from the tribe – that means certain death for a tribal human. Now, things like how you and your things look did not cause a rejection; things like murder and other unforgivable acts did. Nonetheless, we still evolved to care what other people think, and it’s rooted in fear – fear of rejection.

How does this fear take our time?

Fast forward to today where we live in a fast-paced consumerist culture that has been training us to think we should look a certain way and own certain things that need to look a certain way. And we often don’t even think twice about it.

Here are some examples:

  • Meticulously kept grass-only lawns
  • Excessively large houses
  • Expensive and spotlessly clean cars
  • Fashionable clothes, kept up to season
  • Current makeup and contouring
  • Ever changing popular hairstyles and colors
  • Straight, brilliantly white teeth
  • Chiseled body shape
  • Stylish home décor
  • Flawless skin

All of these things bring some people great joy. If some of these things make you truly happy (look deep now), then absolutely keep doing it. But sometimes we do things we don’t really like or want to do because of that deep desire to impress others.

How do I take some of my time back?

For each of the items in the above list, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why do I do this?
  • Does it make me happy?
  • How much time do I spend doing it?
  • Do I do it only to impress others?
  • Do I want to keep doing it?
  • Do I need to keep doing it?

Let’s take a topic from the top of the list – lawns. Many people have lawns because that’s just what everybody else has, and they either want to blend in or they don’t care to do anything else (which is totally fine). I know some people who love their lawns and take great pride in them. I also know some people who never even seeded their lawn; they just mow what grows.

What’s time consuming about a lawn? Mowing, watering (in some cases), fertilizing, weed killing, aerating, dethatching, raking, and reseeding. Not everybody does all these things. Some people do none of them and pay someone else to do it. That’s fine, if you care about your lawn enough to hand over your heard-earned money for it.

Some people have lawns but they don’t want to use herbicide or spend countless hours attempting to pull dandelions and other weeds. In their case, they should answer the above questions and find out if they really need to be worrying about those non-invasive weeds anyway. Most of the time, people put a ton of time and/or money into killing dandelions simply because they don’t want to a) piss of their neighbors, or b) have a lawn that looks bad to others.

Stop giving a damn.

Here’s a hint you may have heard before — it is none of your business what other people think of you. It does not matter one bit if someone you know or someone you don’t know is unimpressed with your lawn or your skin or your clothing. They are working just as hard to impress you. Do you notice?

We are all just running on hamster wheels trying to impress each other and simultaneously raising the bar on each other (and ourselves), making it more and more difficult to maintain the standards we’ve set for each other (and ourselves).

Most people don’t go out and proceed to judge everyone else’s outfit; they’re too worried about their own. Nobody thinks you’re less of a person because you hold your essential fat in your arms or ankles or belly instead of your ass. As long as your teeth are clean, it matters to people only that you are smiling, not that your teeth are whiter than a 2-year-old’s.

Today I got a satisfying enough amount of cleaning done for a Sunday and decided to stop cleaning and take my older son out for some bonding downtown. I thought about changing out of my athletic clothes, maybe shaving, or doing something to make myself look more presentable like put on some makeup or style my hair a little. But it was a fleeting thought, and I determined that the time I could have spent making myself look “better” for strangers downtown was better spent as quality time with my son.

Not surprisingly, I got zero funny looks, zero comments on my appearance, plenty of smiles, and best of all, I was comfortable. But even if I had received funny looks or stares, it wouldn’t have mattered. Sometimes people stare or honk at me, particularly when I’m running. I actually choose to think that they just think I’m really sexy. It brightens my day a lot! But even if someone criticizes or insults me, I try (key word) not to let it get to me. Why? Because it does not matter one bit. If that person is suffering so much that they feel the need to judge or insult others, then they are the ones that need help. Not me.

Choose to let go of the fear that is driving your need to impress others. Do/wear/buy what makes you  happy and fulfilled. Let the true you shine through – you are totally and completely, one hundred percent lovable as you. Once you start to let go, you gain control of all the time you were spending feeding the fear of rejection. What will you do with all that extra time (and probably money)? Travel? Read? Meditate on self-love?

How were your results? Please share them with me in comments or emails!

What’s Lazefficient?

Are you lazy? I’m lazy. I used to think that was a bad thing, until I realized I’m really good at it. Actually, what I’m good at is hyper-focusing on important projects, increasing efficiency in my tasks, and cutting out things that don’t matter.

If you look at the thesaurus, the word “lazy” is associated with a lot of pretty negative terms.

Screenshot of Lazy results from thesaurus.com

The synonyms associated with “efficiency” and “productivity” are much more positive.

Our society is big on busy-ness. Until I embraced my laziness, I usually felt guilty every single time I sat down to relax. I felt like I needed to be doing something all the time or I wasn’t contributing – to my household, my family, society, myself.

But it really is human nature to be both as efficient and lazy as possible to conserve energy. Our ancestors had to work hard to get their food, and they weren’t about to waste all the energy they consumed performing any task unless it had a clear and obvious beneficial outcome. They’d weave baskets, not because it was the latest Pinterest craze, but because they needed to use them to hold things. They didn’t go to seminars and conferences, but they did learn from their elders about plants, hunting, cooking, etc.

At the end of the day, our ancestors probably didn’t gather around the fire to invent new CrossFit moves or plan their future goals for getting more of XYZ (unless it was food or tools). They relaxed and enjoyed themselves, told stories, and connected. They deserved it. It made sense.

Animals are lazy and efficient too. They eat, have sex, find shelter, sleep, and relax. When their bellies are full, they don’t start cramming for a degree in biochemistry or build skyscrapers. They conserve their energy.

Lazefficient Bear

 

And that’s what I do. I’ve spent quite a bit of time deciding what’s actually important in my life and then crafted a life around those needs and desires. I have goals like the rest of them, but I do everything I’ve decided I must do with the highest efficiency I can attain. Then, I relax.

I’m a runner, a mother, a founder, a leader, a writer, and so many other things. I need to spend time recovering, otherwise I burn out. You’ve experienced that, no?

It is so glamorous to be productive, busy, and always working that many of us have started bragging about how much we work and how little we sleep, like it’s a badge of honor. That’s okay, if that is what your best possible life looks like and your body can handle it. But if your life is filled to the max with endless tasks, and you feel like you can never catch up, and you long for vacation just so you can rest a little, I’m here to help you.

On this blog, I will write about evaluating what you value most, determining when tasks have little or no clear benefit (and cutting them), and increasing efficiency in all the rest of the tasks that you want or need to keep.

Lazefficient is the mashing of lazy and efficient. Chose what’s most important to you, be as efficient as you can be, and enjoy rest and relaxation. Because you only get one life; relax.