One bite at a time together (projects 18-21)

It’s been another month.  Already.  Time is moving right along, and I’m not liking it very much.  Seems like the older I get, the more it speeds up.  Or maybe it’s just that I get slower?

Either way, it’s time for the next recap working through Tsh’s e-book, One Bite at a Time.  As a quick reminder (or for those of you that are new), I’m working my way through One Bite at a Time and writing here to share how I felt about the task, if it was helpful, what worked, what didn’t, and implement the suggestions rather than simply reading through them.

You are invited to play along as well, and share your own reflections from the last month’s projects.  Don’t be shy about jumping in now…the tasks do not have to be carried out in order, so you can begin at Project 18 and be just fine!  (Previous project posts can be found here and here).

Moving forward… projects 18 through 21.

Project 18: Get More Sleep

I’m really not a huge fan of sleep.  I  have never been one to want to “sleep in” on the weekends (even as a teenager!), and frankly, the thought of sleeping for anything more than eight hours sounds awful to me.  Am I the only one that wakes up achy and groggy and with a massive headache if I sleep too much?

But for as much as I don’t love it, I know that I need it.  Just the right amount: not too much and not too little.  Or else.  Or else I turn into a crazy mom that has patience the size of a dime.  Let’s not even talk about what kind of a wife I am!  (Says the girl who is currently five months pregnant and a short time away from the throes of newborn-dom!)

I just don’t like who I am when I’m sleep deprived.  So sleep is a priority for me.  I like getting up really early (say 5:00) so I tend to go to bed early (around 9:30).  This is mostly non-negotiable.  The way I see it, parenthood (and life for that matter) are really hard, even when you’re getting plenty of sleep.  I can’t imagine doing it when you’re exhausted to boot.

Photo from Pinterest

For me, my bedroom is a refuge.  Besides our alarm clock, there is no technology and I try to tidy it up before bedtime.  I was once told in college that students shouldn’t study or do homework in bed.  Your bed should be your body’s automatic cue to relax and sleep.

I’ve really taken that advice to heart, so even years later, I only allow myself to read or sleep in bed.  Well, that and you know, the obvious other.  Ahem.  The ebook gives other really good ideas if you’re having trouble convincing your body to get to bed at a reasonable time.

While this project was “easy” for me (I already did it—doesn’t get much easier than that), I think it’s so crucial for everyone.  Prioritize sleep, people!  It’s worth it.

Project 19: Dump Your Brain

There was a time in my life when I could remember every little detail.  Specifics.  Dates.  Addresses.  All without writing a single thing down.  That was before I had three kids.

Now?  I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast yesterday or when my next doctor’s appointment is—or frankly, what day of the week it is.  I love the idea of a regular brain dump.

I found that I was often trying so hard to not forget a certain thing that I ended up forgetting the 57 other things I was supposed to remember, too.  A few months ago I bought myself a really pretty planner from Erin Condren.  It’s big (not the kind of thing you carry around), there’s a ton of room to write, and there’s all kinds of extra pockets and tabs and stickers.

I have it sitting out on a cookbook holder on my kitchen counter, so I can see what I have going on at a glance while I rush my way through making lunches, scrambling eggs, and refilling a sippy cup of milk.  Every morning I would sit down for a few quiet minutes and just dump every single little thing I had to do that day in the extra space.

In fact, sometimes I would even write things I had just finished, just so I could have the satisfaction of crossing something off.  (I also wrote out my menu plan for the week in the same book so I could coordinate meals based on how busy our schedule was that day).  Did I mention this was an awesome system?

Did you catch that?  WAS.  Like anything, it fell by the wayside.  A few months ago, my planner pages were a colorful mash of scribbles, arrows, stars, circles, and reminders.  Now?  It’s pretty plain.  And my brain?  Mashed potatoes.  Tsh’s book reminded me to get back to my daily brain dump.  I’m much happier again.  And less disheveled.

Project 20: Plan in Advance for the Holidays

Whoa.  Now this is EARLY.  Especially for me.  Somehow, Christmas manages to sneak up on me every year.  Which is insane because it’s the same day every year—perhaps I should write it down in my planner?

But Tsh is right: “little things can easily add up, and if you don’t plan for them, they’ll knock on your wreath-adorned door when you least expect.”  I have no idea how those little strands of lights magically break when they’ve done nothing but live in a plastic bin for a year, but every single year my husband yells a shopping list of lights to me while he’s 20 feet in the air on a ladder.  Off I go to the store, shocked at how much I’ll spend, and how much it’s blowing our Christmas budget out of the water.

We’ve already culled down our list of who we buy for by negotiating with certain family members (“I won’t buy you anything if you don’t buy me anything”), and we only send Christmas cards to people we don’t see very often.  You know, Great Aunt Edna and that cousin in Rhode Island who only knows you’re still alive because they get a card from you every December.

I do, however, like the idea of shopping year-round for gifts.  So often I will see things that remind me of so and so, but it’s June, and I’m not really about to buy a random gift for no reason.  The problem is, that somehow, come mid-December I’m stumped as to what to get that same person, or I can’t find the item I saw months ago.

Project 21: Organize Your Files

I used to be really good about keeping our files organized.  (You see where this is going, right?)  Only, this time, I can’t blame it on my kids.  One of my early jobs included a lot of filing and organizing of files, so when I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was file more paper.  Kind of like the old saying that the mechanic’s car is always in need of repair?  Just like that.

And then, I really got out of the habit and just plain didn’t do it at all.  Going through that old file cabinet in the closet and actually being paper organized has been on my to-do list for YEARS.  Years, people!  But now, Tsh made me do it for real.

I spent a naptime up to my elbows in old paperwork.  Why I had copies of our electric bill from our first apartment together 10 years ago is beyond me.  Well, I know why—because I hadn’t bothered to trash them.  I also realized this year that I was scrambling to find and figure out what our write offs were for tax purposes.  Nothing was in one place, and I was making things 100 times harder on myself than they needed to be.

In particular, I was concerned about keeping track of our medical expenses.  Now, dovetailing off of this project, I’ve created a journal where I can quickly jot down what we spend as I pay them, rather than have to manually go through a huge stack of papers and add them up one by one.  I’ll be ready next tax season.  You’ll see.

If you’re not playing along yet, you can jump in at any time!  Buy One Bite at a Time here for $5 and then come back and let me know how you’re doing!

Are you working through One Bite?  How did you do this month?  Which of these tasks would be the hardest for you to genuinely implement?


Jeannett Gibson is a mom to four and wife to one who loves color and believes in story. She loves to tell you hers and wants to hear yours, too...because there is really no sense in wasting our suffering or not sharing in each other's joy. She blogs, fund raises, and sometimes even gets her crafty pants on at Life Rearranged.

Encouragement for living simpler, right in your inbox.

We share our stories as we simplify our lives - no guilt-trips, just love.

(no spam, promise. we hate it, too.)


  1. Great tips. Couldn’t agree more with your views about the bedroom. I just don’t get the idea of bringing the outside world into my sanctuary, never been one for a tv in the bedroom. Really need to look at starting a filing system – yikes. B x

  2. Oh, goodness–I’m so glad I’m not the only one who falls off the wagon! I was doing great at getting lots of sleep–but this post-Blissdom week has been ugly!

    The brain dump project has helped me so much. My to-do lists have never been more thorough, or more helpful.

    Thanks for the encouragement to get back at it!

  3. Thank you for your post! I am loving one bite at a time, and am working through it, here:

  4. I enjoy reading your posts as you work through her ebook. I really like the way you utilize your planner in the kitchen on a cookbook stand – great idea.

    I am responsible for getting the mail every afternoon. Once I get the mail I immediately shred/recycle unneeded papers, bills, ads etc. Then the ones I know we need to keep & file I stick in a manilla folder that sits in our kitchen. Then at the end of the month the papers in this folder get sorted and filed appropriately in our bigger/main filing system. Has worked well for us thus far! This way I am not having to really file every single day yet doing so 1x a month keeps the paper clutter under control and much easier to manage.

  5. Very inspiring! I need to reorganize my files – it’s been on my to-do list since last October. Also, I couldn’t agree more with the get enough sleep thing. It just makes everything else you do so much better.

  6. I think this is just what I need, I’m feeling kind of depleted right about now and I know I am the only one who can fix that, I just need some refreshing tools to use.

  7. I’ve been doing a few things one bite at a time, though admittedly not playing along with Tsh’s book right now. The sleep issue has become a BIG priority for me. As my bite for the last couple of weeks has been to get up early enough to pray/meditate and do a little spiritual reading before the kids have to get up from school. It just seems that staying up until 1am is just not an option anymore. My body naturally needs about 7.5 hours a sleep and what it needs I shall do my best to give it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts here!

  8. One Bite at a Time is so worth it. I pulled out the sections that applied to me and have inserted them into my calendar so that I make time for each of these “bites” every 2 or 3 weeks. Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Weirdly, I actually do get eight hours of sleep, but something about waking up at 6:30am every morning still makes me super groggy. I tend to be more rested if I slept midnight to 8am than 10:30 to 6:30am.

    I definitely need to work on dumping my brain. Sometimes I have a hard time falling asleep because of all the thoughts running through my head that won’t keep quiet at night!

  10. I started working through it with great intentions but got sidetracked. I should really get back to that because Tsh has a lot of very helpful stuff in there.

  11. I adore my E.Condren planner. It’s changed my life for the better. Laying my days and weeks out ahead of time has helped me plan ahead and not get caught doing things “last minute.”

    I WISH my bedroom was tech free. This is an area my husband and I don’t agree on and I’m just not sure how to reconcile his wants with mine. :-/

  12. With my varied work schedule, I definitely “fall off the wagon”. Great tips. Love that you are planning for the holidays already, I’ve been compiling a list of craft ideas and there’s no time like the present!

  13. Love your ideas. It makes me feel good to know I’m not the only one who lost all memory when I gave birth. I have loads of improve your memory books by my bed. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  14. Thanks for sharing. I’m a pretty planner addict. Though sometimes they don’t get used as often. I’m having an affair with my iPhone. But I think a physical planner is easier for us to visually see what’s really going on. I’m reading Simple Bites now too.

  15. Ah, the best thing about this post is the reminder that even when we get off our good routines, we can bite by bite work our way back to them. Filing is a big one for me.

    Two tips for better sleep: 1. Know the book Goodnight Moon? Think bedtime routine – excellent for training your body for sleep;
    2. Try going to bed an hour LATER. Sometimes we’re trying too hard to go to sleep earlier and our body’s just not ready for it. So go to bed a little later and slowly work your a.m. rising and your bedtime over to where you want it to be AND when your body’s ready for bed.

  16. So many moms stay up “just a little bit longer” to read or write one more post, or just a few more minutes on Pinterest or Facebook, and it inevitably turns into longer, and then we get into bed late, and like you said, wake up crabby. And we chide ourselves and say it wasn’t worth it, yet we do it again in a week or so. (I am pointing at myself here!)
    It is NOT worth it! Getting enough sleep is SO important!
    I SO need to go through and weed out my files, and file or trash all the random papers sitting around!

  17. I love to brain dump. I also love it when our filing is in order…actually filing, not so much.

  18. I love your idea of writing down what you already did so you could cross it off. It reminds me of what I use to do back in the toddler and baby days of my life. When I was really discouraged and felt like I was not making any traction, I would write a “I DID” list instead of an “TO DO” list every time I completed something no matter how small, even if it was just wiping off the counters or changing a dirty diaper, I wrote it down, and at the end of the day I was always surprised to see just what I did do.

  19. These are wonderful ideas for lighting one’s mental load. Thanks.

  20. I’m 8 months pregnant and need a lot of sleep. I’m really good at taking a nap in the middle of the day (when my youngest naps), but I never get in bed at a reasonable hour at night. Can’t figure out why, even when I’m tired. Is anyone else like this?

  21. I’ve been going through the bites in a different order, but did work on getting more sleep this last month. I even made it a goal on my daily checklist which meant I saw it on my to do list every day. Somehow that validated my need for sleep and meant I napped some of the days that my 2 sons napped (2.5 years and 6 months old). I’m up to an average of 7 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period and that is a huge improvement. Your description of the brain dump makes me want to work on that next. Love your cookbook stand idea!

  22. I have always been an early riser, and therefore, go to bed early. I can’t tell you how much my siblings have teased me about my early bed time over the years. I’m so glad to hear that I’m not the only one.

  23. Great to hear I’m not the only one who lost major components of my brain after having children (like the ability to remember things!). Also LOVE the idea of putting your planner up on a cookbook holder in the kitchen! Genius!

  24. I’ve been practicing the brain dump and totally love it! Thank you so much for that simple yet priceless tip! Always love your blog 🙂

Add Your Thoughts