What’s Cooking in Your Kitchen?

Does your kitchen also serve as a part time office? workbench? school project centre? party room? When you think about it, we expect a lot from the room we call ‘kitchen’, So my question for you is this: does your kitchen serve and support your daily life, with streamlined order and touches of heart and soul, or does it need a little magic wand treatment? If it’s the latter, click here to get our Clever Kitchens guide. Clever Kitchens reveals the common issues with most kitchens that are easily overcome, the ten steps to organising your kitchen like a professional, clever kitchens techniques and routines to make your day a dream, and the details of how to put some heart and soul back into your kitchen.

I know when my kitchen is sorted my days always take off to a great start. I admit this is not every day – there are ebbs and flows in life that sometimes keep me from my usual kitchen maintenance routine – but when my kitchen is sorted, I feel like I can take on the world. It cannot be underestimated the feeling you get when you’re greeted in the morning with a fridge whose contents are visible and fresh, a pantry displaying neat rows of easily accessible produce and benches clean and clear. Implements have a logical home and you need only to think about the day ahead rather than the loose ends and unmade decisions of yesterday. In fact, it’s such a great feeling, that I had to write about it and share the secrets in my e-book Clever Kitchen Drawers. So let’s cut to the chase – if your kitchen is not serving and supporting you today, it’s time to make a change. Here are seven signs that tell you your kitchen passes the Clever Kitchens test:

  1. Your benches are completely clear and ready to deal with whatever you need to throw at them, be it school bags, brief case, shopping bags or tonight’s dinner
  2. You take less than 3 minutes to unpack the dishwasher because every item has a home in a logical place
  3. The cupboards and drawers are not overstuffed and their contents do not leap out and try and grab you when you go to take one of the 20% of items you actually use. Yes, did you get that? Only 20% of what you keep in your kitchen is actually used…….hmmm….(see you later pizza stone, fondue pot, bread maker, pasta machine and vegetable juicer, anything costing $19.99 on late night television)
  4. You have five zones in which all relevant items are located: cleaning, cooking, food preparation, food storage, food serving (oh, and the sixth: the ‘dumping’ zone!)
  5. Weight, size and frequency of use are taken into consideration when deciding where to store your items
  6. You have a place to think and plan while the pots are on the boil. Whether it be a laptop, a reference binder, a pad and pen or just the phone, you have the ability to connect to yourself and the world while you turn out culinary masterpieces.
  7. People feel good in your space – you feel good there. It just flows.

So if you want to know how to achieve this, we’ve done the hard work for you. You can get access to the Clever_Kitchens workbook here

Top Ten Travel Tips (for working parents)

As parents, we sometimes think it would just be easier to stay home than to deal with the packing, the whining and those dreaded words ‘are we there yet?’ Don’t put off non-essential trips because it all seems like too much hard work. From pre-trip planning to packing and arrival, these top ten travel tips will ensure busy parents arrive ready for business…

  1. Pre-trip planning Book flights as far in advance as possible to get the cheapest possible fare. Likewise, schedule all your meetings and social catch-ups early so that you hit the ground running. It’s far easier to move early appointments than reschedule late ones.
  2. Packing The simple rule to this is don’t over pack – it makes travel unnecessarily challenging. if you’re going for seven days, take five tops that go with three different bottoms. You’ll have 15 possible outfits for day and night. Pack accessories like scarves and belts that change the look of an outfit. Take items that don’t need ironing – no linen! – and for garments that do need ironing, wrap them in a plastic dry cleaning bag to prevent the friction with other clothes that leads to creasing.
  3. Five things to do The Day Before Online check in if you can. Review your suitcase and take five things out of it. Yes, five. Unless you’re going to the MIR space station, chances are you’ll be able to buy anything you forget anyway. Ensure phones and cameras are charged and have fresh batteries. Remember to pack chargers if going for an extended stay and any necessary adaptors if travelling overseas.
  4. Boarding If travelling with small children, you’ll often be invited to board the plan first. While this sounds wonderful, the reality is you’ll be on the plane trying to keep small children occupied while everyone else is boarding and before the in-flight entertainment starts running. Those twenty minutes can seem like twenty years…
  5. In flight Most modern airlines have entertainment covered but in the case of technical difficulties (it happens) pack entertainment for the kids and the latest blockbuster or an e-book for you. Portable games consoles are fantastic but remember to include the headphones to avoid arguments and a selection of games.
  6. Use the time As tempting as it is to use flight time to catch up on work or a business e-book you’ve been meaning to read, there’s often too much going on around you to concentrate and you’ll just arrive flustered and distracted. So pop the headphones in and relax so that you arrive fresh.
  7. Have car, will travel – If driving to your destination, portable DVD players are a wonderful thing. Some come with two screens that can be fitted to the back of the driver and passenger headrests for children in the back. Remember to take lots of breaks – at least every two hours. Plan before you leave to stop somewhere pleasant with a bit of space so that everyone can stretch their legs.
  8. Upon arrival – Give yourself time to completely unpack.  If you’re staying in the one accommodation for a few days, put clothes away in the robe and toiletries in bathroom drawers. Put the suitcase under the bed. You’ll feel more organized and will be better focused when not ‘living out of a suitcase’. You’ll also find packing to leave easier because you’ll be starting with an empty space.
  9. The things that are ALWAYS handy to have away from home – Mobile phone, even if you’re overseas and don’t have an international or roaming SIM, it has all your contacts in it. Any essential medical supplies for those with special health needs (allergies, diabetes) and a copy of any ongoing prescriptions. Most airlines will also require a letter from a doctor.
  10. Business to attend to Remember your business cards. Having a dedicated business card holder is a great option for frequent travellers because it keeps them from getting lost or damaged and it makes you look more professional than fumbling around in a purse. if you don’t want to travel with a laptop, take copies of files on a USB stick or other memory device.  Or take advantage of online storage systems for non-confidential files that can be accessed through the internet.

What’s your number one travel tip? Add your thoughts below.

More inspiring travel tips can be found in the DYRTM e-book. Purchase a copy here.

When the going gets tough, the tough get organised

After a turbulent start to the year, many Queenslanders are in the midst of re-establishing themselves and getting their homes, families and lives sorted. For some, starting afresh means tackling seemingly insurmountable odds, for others it’s back to the daily grind.

However, according to best-selling Australian author of Paper Flow and Did You Remember the Milk; and Brisbane-based mum of three Brigitte Hinneberg, 2016 could present a positive opportunity for people to reorganise and gain control of their home, work and life.

“However, this topsy-turvy time has also made us identify what’s really important to us and that’s a good thing to get clear and a great place to start,” she says. “For many people this year could be a positive experience and one of substantial personal growth.

“Getting organised is going to be the key to our success. Taking a relatively small amount of time to get some simple systems in place will save you huge amounts of time, energy, money and frustration in the long term.”

This is what getting organised could save you in 2016:

  • 260 hours – Australians waste this time each year looking for lost documents
  • $2,000 – this is what we pay in late fees, lost health receipts, fines and unclaimed gift cards.

Despite being more tech-savvy, people are losing the paper war:

A piece of paper is moved 8 times before it is tossed or filed
80% of paper that is filed is never accessed again
70% of Australians use ‘to do’ lists, but never feel on top of them.

Here are some of Brigitte’s top tips to get 2011 back on track:

Mission Control

  • Create a ‘control tower’ – your personal office where you manage your recurring actions like paying bills and handling correspondence. This is where you’ll move your key projects forward each day. Within arms reach should be your main reference folders such as your important documents folder, current financial records and ready reference information like school contacts, schedules, planners and business reference.
  • The level of cleaning up and clearing up will vary between each household but the principle remains the same, choose one room at a time and break down the task. For some it will be a case of needing new furniture and for others it will be a major de-clutter. If so, start with de-cluttering before you re-organise it. Trying to get organised in a messy room will prolong the task. Put your space through the 7 step milking it approach to de-cluttering: assess the room, set your goals, create your zones and decide your scope, set a deadline, set some rules (how much are you going to get rid of?), assign each item to a category of keep, toss, donate, repair or reassign, decide what needs to go.

Be Your Own Task Master

  • It may sound basic, but only use one notebook you carry with you and put all appointments, tasks and key dates into one diary. The one diary, one notebook rule will keep everything in one place and at your fingertips when you need to access it. Keep removable tabs in your notebook so you can jump to categories.
  • Always start the day with a plan and tackle the most important things first. Daily planning is the most powerful tool for getting control of your time.
  • No more multi-tasking! Despite popular belief, the fastest and easiest way to get anything done is to get clear, set your target and focus!
  • Master the art of estimating your time and remember for every task to allow set up time, project time, and clean up/winding down time as well as travel time and a buffer for interruptions

Me Time

  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed and in a rut, allow time for yourself because in order to go the distance and keep moving forward, you want to be operating in optimal condition. Although you might be strapped for time, exercise and healthy eating will give you more energy for your busy day and more endorphins, which will combat stress. Planning meals in advance will make shopping and cooking easier and save you time.
  • Aim to get eight hours of sleep per night and at least two of those before midnight. If you have things that are worrying you, write them down before you go to bed and then forget about them until you wake up.

The Power of Positive Thinking – create a new vision

  • It’s no secret that thinking positively and eliminating negative thoughts is a great way to combat stress. Become aware of the negative thoughts that crop up in your mind through worry, stress, anger, resentment and fear and write them down. Then come up with a new replacement thought that could help you re-frame the negative one.

Brigitte Hinneberg’s latest book Paper Flow the ultimate guide to making paperwork easy RRP $24.95 is available in all good bookstores, Australia Post, kikki.K, Officeworks, and selected newsagents.

Now she has launched her latest life-empowering tool, Milking It, an easy to use program that helps busy working mums achieve more with less effort.

“I wanted to create an affordable and easily accessible online coaching program, that you could access whenever you need it, wherever you are,” Brigitte said. Milking it gives you the tools and training to create 12 tried and tested systems that you can put in place in your life, business and home, such as: planning and time management, de-cluttering, meal planning, paper flow organisation, finances and helping children gain independence.

Click here to find out more about Milking It.