Totebag AUGUST 2017 30-Day Challenge Kick-off — August 1-4

Today is the first day of the August 2017 Totebag 30-Day Challenge.

All participants will choose their personalized activity.  Use the comments to let us know if you are participating and what activity/goal you have selected.  During the week you can check in with your progress.

Next month we will have a new 30-day challenge.  Maybe we’ll make it a regular thing.

(We also have a regular post today so don’t miss it.)

Let’s go! Good luck to all of us!

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68 thoughts on “Totebag AUGUST 2017 30-Day Challenge Kick-off — August 1-4

  1. I have a 2-week head start on a challenge to improve my balance, although I have a lingering doubt that what I’m doing actually improves balance. Five days a week I:
    A. Stand on one foot for 30 seconds, six times per foot. After a few days it became much easier so maybe I’ll go 60 seconds or try with my eyes closed.
    B. Do exercises 2-4 from this list. http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/rehabilitation-exercises/lower-leg-ankle-exercises/wobble-board-exercises I improved quickly so I’ll be graduating to some of the next exercises soon.

    I was actually able to stand up and maneuver a paddle board on my first try this past weekend, but I’m not sure if my exercises actually made a difference.

  2. July – my college coach would have us start out each practice balancing on each leg eyes open for 15-30 seconds and then again with our eyes closed. The coach thought it helped prevent knee injuries. I’m going to try doing this each day.

    My main challenge is to get gmail to inbox zero.

  3. I came up with a list of Do It Now type things. I didn’t get to 30, but it’s all the things that I’ve been procrastinating – from changing the light bulb under the vent hood over the stove (which is probably a 5 minute task) to cleaning out my closet (a couple hours) and fixing a pocket door.

    DH is on board.

  4. I will do a combo of planks and Do it Now. I cleaned out my sweater drawer today. :) A big one on the list will be to go test drive some cars since my lease is up in another 45 days.

  5. Our vacation is getting in the way of this. I think I am going to commit to Finn’s arm strength exercises, every other day, while we are home though

  6. I put together a calendar of things. I think I want to include that yoga-thing I told MM about in the last challenge post post from a few days ago. It will act as a plank challenge. And I have a bunch of things I want to take care of around the house.

    Plus, I have a bucket list of things to do with the family from July through October. I want to see how many we can shove in.

    Let’s see if I can get DH on board.

  7. I’m going to do the balance on one foot thing at least once a day.

    When toweling off after a shower, I’m going to try to remember to not put put my foot on top of something to towel off my leg, but just balance on the other leg. I’ll also try to remember to do my toothbrushing on one leg.

    Tieing back to yesterday’s discussion and how people, especially elderly people, suddenly lose the physical capabilities necessary for self-sufficiency, one common cause of this loss is injuries from a fall. Working on balance and the associated muscles is an attempt to mitigate against this.

  8. “I have a bucket list of things to do with the family from July through October.”

    I really, really, really hope you just don’t understand the concept of a bucket list.

    If you do, then I’m sorry.

  9. Finn, I think she gets it the way I do…stuff I want to do before I croak. Not necessarily RIGHT BEFORE, just some time between now and then.

    e.g. Bucket list item: get to all 50 states. I expect this to be wrapped up before Thanksgiving. But I don’t expect to kick the bucket for quite a while after that.

  10. I will do exercise challenge. Will try the do it now challenge, but not committed to it. All my do it now things are time consuming. Maybe I can try “. Clean the silverware tray now” type challenges for it.

  11. It’s a summer/fall bucket list – things we really can only do during the summer/fall (or really only want to do in the summer or the fall). Fred has the idea. These are things I want to do in my lifetime, but not necessary right before I croak.

    My problem with bucket lists is that I need target dates. How many people say “bucket list item” and never make it happen? And if I put a list together of everything I wanted to do in my lifetime, I would get overwhelmed. Why not divide it out by year, time of life, season, etc.? Why do I have to blindly conform to what others think is a bucket list?

  12. As I mentioned in the previous-post over the weekend, I have a lot of things I need to work on. The easiest to define and measure are body goals. I think I can do that in my own. The other that really needs attention is a growing list of what I’ll call administrative tasks. Some are financial, others are more signing up for things and the like. This week’s steps: clear the laundry off the kitchen desk, sort things as necessary, and come up with a comprehensive list of things to do.

  13. Ivy, I bet more things will show up for you to add to your list during the month. Isn’t that the way it usually works, lol?

  14. Rhode, the target date for bucket list items is, by definition, “before I die.”

    My guess is that very few people complete all of their bucket list items.

    I’d also guess that many people have bucket list items that require progression to the “eff u” stage as a prerequisite.

    But when the bucket is still seen as far in the future, I look at most bucket list items as things to do when opportunities present themselves.

  15. Dell, can your big things to do be a weekly list? If there are going to be 30 day challenges this month and next, that could get you through nine of them.

    Finn/Rhode, I started a “sand bucket” list a few years back for things to do in this state before we shake its sand from our feet. My thinking was that when things finally start rolling for us to leave, we won’t have time to see the bell tower in Lake Wales or whatever, but as it turns out, with everything wide open and no deadline pressure at all, we fizzled out on it.

  16. “look at most bucket list items as things to do when opportunities present themselves.”

    I think this is how most people (who don’t have a severe terminal illness) see them.

  17. SnM, maybe weekly do it now will work better. But I think that my “do it now” will be “spend 30 minutes doing part of a task” challenge. Like spend 30 minutes cleaning basement etc.

  18. “I’ll also try to remember to do my toothbrushing on one leg.”

    Finn – That’s interesting. I think a washcloth would be faster and more effective.

  19. I made myself get the other stuff off that desk & put it away before bed–which delayed my bedtime, because I really didn’t feel like doing it, lol. Today’s step: sort through the papers that are on there. Tomorrow will be coming up with list of things to do.

  20. So, to clean out the filing cabinet, I have to decide what to do with the stuff that I think is too old. I can:

    Shred it at home, very slowly, for hours and hours
    Take it someplace and pay to have it bulk shredded, but then I need to figure out where
    Put it in a banker’s box and put it in the basement, but then I need to buy a banker’s box.

    This is why things never get done.

  21. We don’t — it’s all propane. I wish we did. The other thing they tell you to do is put it in a trash bag with a lot of used kitty litter, which is a possibility.

  22. I had the same thought as Milo–burn the box!
    You live in Colorado & don’t have a fireplace?
    Go to a campsite & use their fire circle.
    Put it in a metal trashcan, add propane (optional) & light it.
    Hop in the TARDIS back to when I had a 5-8 year old who LOVED feeding paper into shredders.

  23. “Shred it at home, very slowly, for hours and hours”

    Sounds like a good thing to do while watching tv, if the sound of the shredder doesn’t bother you.

  24. You live in Colorado & don’t have a fireplace?

    I have two fireplaces, both gas. It’s the 21st century and everyone is concerned about air pollution. Back in the…70s? 80s? I guess Denver had a bad air pollution problem. They fixed it with super-tight regulations. So now there’s clean air, but super-tight regs, you know?

    I also have to give myself permission to believe that I will NOT need that huge file of bank statements from the trust accounts, because Mom died four years ago and the taxes are all squared away and I have a letter from the IRS saying everything is all squared away and so I can be confident that they won’t come after me years from now. Right? Right?

  25. Shredding is one of our “do it now” items. When we got new file cabinets, DH and I purged the old ones (like RMS – do I really need bank statements for accounts that were closed > 10 years ago? Or bills of sale for furniture I no longer own?). Anyway, this left 2 huge piles of shredding to do, which live on top of our printer, and get larger because we have to shred so much stuff regularly anyway. Tonight and tomorrow, the piles must be shredded. I will also clean out and organize 1/2 of our bookshelf tonight. After the shredding party, we’ll watch DVR to catch us up.

    I also put a weekly item in to shred and file paperwork. Every Friday night, I asked that this be done so our “office” space looks neat.

  26. RMS – can your DH take a field trip to work on the weekend and put it in their bulk shredder bin? I’m sure they have one. Ours looks like a recycling bin with a big padlock on it. :)

  27. This is motivating me to stoke up our firepit and do a bunch of paper burning. Before we were married, DW followed her parents’ diligent example of saving abso-freaking-lutely every piece of paper record she could. Ditto to Rhode’s receipts for furniture we don’t own. And we have furniture warranties that we were dumb enough to buy that were administered by third party vendors who immediately go out of business. And utility bills from four residences ago. …

    But I’ll wait until a brisk November Saturday to do it. We can make S’Mores.

  28. PS – if it were me I would just waltz into work with a giant bag and throw it in the bin – your DH may be more circumspect. ;)

  29. @Milo – We use old documents to start our charcoal chimney starter. One of the best parts of camping is throwing all the paper in the fire.

    “:PS – if it were me I would just waltz into work with a giant bag and throw it in the bin – your DH may be more circumspect.”

    Ha! I have done this.

    I completed one task yesterday – clean out the reusable grocery bags. I went through the trunk of the car & threw away ones with holes, ones that are a terrible size & never get used, and ones that are dirty and can’t be washed. Threw a few in the washer & ordered some replacements from Amazon. It took a bit less than 30 minutes (minus the time the laundry was running & I was reading my book/watching baseball). I have been meaning to do this for months.

    Today’s task is to run to the store at lunchtime to buy specialty lightbulbs for a couple of other DIN tasks.

  30. So so so glad to know that we are not the only ones with enormous amounts of saved paper. But yes, I have weeded it down to only a few folders. Maybe more than what is considered prudent! But it feels good.

  31. This is the problem with living in the suburbs vs., say, Manhattan — I have far too much room on the 3rd floor, which makes it super easy just to dump all those old papers in a box “just in case.”

  32. LfB – yup. Which is why my basement is on the list of things to clean this month. I divided up the basement into sections and am tackling one section at a time. First up is our pantry, then the fridge, the storage unit next to the fridge, followed by where I keep all the kids’ stuff (that will take the longest). I’ve even divided out where my mom keeps her stuff and gave her a section per day. I’m the least favorite person in my house right now, but at least the house will be clean and orderly when I’m done.

  33. It’s funny, I was thinking of this the other day. We have had a pile that builds up on the island, and then when the cleaners come and I don’t have time to figure out where it all goes, we move it to the little phone charging area, where the pile grows ever higher. So DH finally got annoyed and cleaned it out this weekend and spent like an hour organizing all those papers into piles by people. Then I went through my pile and put stuff in the to-be-filed cubby, in my in-box to deal with later, or in the designated large-item dump zone in the office to be filed later.

    So, basically, we did All This Work to basically move papers from one location to another to another, and it’s STILL not put away yet. Grrr. On the plus side, some of it was months old and so could be trashed because the time had passed. :-)

    I hate all of this miscellaneous stuff. I have figured out paper-flow for the routine stuff, like bills. But things like the paper explaining what DS needs for his field trip/overnight a week from Thursday, or the head sock you have to buy at the go-kart place, or the book I borrowed from my mom — that stuff just kills me, because it doesn’t fit into the categories that have their own designated spots, and so it piles up on the island until I figure out what to do with it. (The head socks + trampoline place t-shirts, btw, made it halfway up the stairs, where I deposited them on the radiator while pausing to do laundry. They have been there for at least 3 weeks, because while they don’t belong downstairs, they still don’t have a “home” upstairs.)

  34. junk drawer. or refrigerator

    then you clean those out periodically. it’s not perfect, but you can’t have a category for everything.

  35. L, it’s probably easier for me to just haul the stuff over to OfficeMax and have them shred it than to try to coax DH into doing something that is even marginally against the rules.

  36. LfB, the random short-term stuff kills me too. Where to put the information about what is needed each day at soccer camp vs. Y camp vs. church camp? The forms that need to be turned in the first day of Y camp? Where to put the summer reading program sheets? We have a stack of mail bins that help, but it’s still hard. Because I do much of what organization gets done, I lose the spousal game of chicken and become EXPECTED to do it all. I’m getting better at, “I don’t know where that goes- it doesn’t have a home,” in a neutral tone rather than an annoyed one.

    Having a toddler means I don’t have enough “up” places, and I can’t entirely blame the boys for not being able to find their shoes when she takes them off the shoe rack and strews them all over.

  37. We redid a room in our house and made it into DH’s office so now I have a separate office area in the sitting area of our master bedroom which makes it easier for me to keep track of paper work and shredding. I only shred every few months but dump all of the shred stuff next to the shredder upstairs. I once gave DH a bunch of stuff to shred at his office and a few weeks later someone tried to cash one of those credit card checks they send you in the mail so we shred at home now.

    Two out of three kids are now back in school but I have the littlest one (who is also the most demanding) and a puppy home with me so I won’t commit to this right now. I’ve been doing yoga three or four times per week and walking kids to and from school and that’s all I got. I generally try to really clean one room per day.

  38. I get SO caught up in temporarily storing miscellaneous stuff, like the nice wooden puzzle missing a piece that I know I will find before I can donate it and the box my new phone came in because what if I need to return it. This is all just silly, and I am getting better. I’ve been inspired by “when in doubt throw it out” wisdom shared here.

    Why didn’t I ever think of burning old papers in my fireplace??? Seems like a good solution.

  39. July – I got concerned about your idea of burning it in the fireplace, and a number of sites don’t like the idea of burning colored paper in a fireplace. To me, the issue would be if it’s going to cause a coating within the chimney, just like you don’t burn pine in the fireplace.

    Also, apparently, burning a lot of paper at once in the fireplace can lead to flames that could light the creosote in the chimney. I think this is silly; lots of fires can get hot and have high flames, and that’s the reason you shouldn’t have creosote in your chimney, anyway.

    But I also stumbled upon this *very simple* idea from the Simple Dollar about taking all your scrap paper and, through an easy, fun, and not-at-all laborious process, making your own artificial DuraFlame log:

    http://www.thesimpledollar.com/disposing-of-old-papers-in-bulk/

    If these options don’t work, burn them. Use all of your documents as the starting fuel for a large bonfire. However, it’s not a great idea to just take all of your documents and just burn them. Instead, make a giant burnable cube out of them.

    One better way to do that is to rip the documents into smaller pieces and fill up a tub about halfway with the documents. Then, add water to the documents until the bin is mostly full. Let it sit for twelve hours or so, then drain off as much water as you can (and squeeze out even more water). You’ll be left with a giant ball of mushy pulp. Put this ball somewhere dry for a few weeks and you’ll have a very large chunk of very flammable paper that will burn quite well. (If you want to get it really dry, stick the mostly-dry chunk in your oven at about 250 F for a while, which will cause the water to evaporate out of it while leaving the dry paper behind.) This is wonderful firestarter for a large bonfire.

  40. I have an ink roller thing that I can just run over the identifiable info (or special invitation code on credit card offers) and then toss stuff in the regular trash.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003BKOHYG?th=1

    Like that, only a smaller version. It wouldn’t be practical for decluttering a filing cabinet, but it works well for inking-and-tossing stuff as it comes in rather than having to set it aside to be shredded.

  41. One of my DIN things is to sign and send forms as soon as I receive them, so there are are no “To be done” paper piles.
    If I have to keep things for a temporary period – it goes into a folder on my desk. I purge this folder periodically. Very few things need to be stored permanently, most pieces of paper can be discarded because an updated version has come along.

  42. “Why didn’t I ever think of burning old papers in my fireplace??? Seems like a good solution.”

    Our trash goes to an incinerator that uses the heat to generate electricity, so I just dump our shredded papers into our trash bin. It’s also got scrubbers and stuff to minimize the air pollution it causes.

    “If you want to get it really dry, stick the mostly-dry chunk in your oven at about 250 F for a while, which will cause the water to evaporate out of it while leaving the dry paper behind.”

    Rather than waste energy heating the oven just for that, you could stick it in right after pulling out something that just finished baking. OTOH, I don’t know that I’d want whatever outgassed from that pile deposited on the walls of my oven.

    Or you could leave it in your car on a day when it’s parked out in the sun.

  43. DW got a shredder to keep at her desk, and since then, we often shred stuff like unsolicited credit card offers as we receive them to minimize their contribution to our clutter.

  44. “Or you could leave it in your car on a day when it’s parked out in the sun.”

    If we do this, that will be our option. I really don’t need my oven on in the summer.

    I’m seriously considering doing this since my city changed the rules regarding shredded paper. It may get us a few extra logs, which would be nice since our wood pile is dwindling.

  45. “I also have to give myself permission to believe that I will NOT need that huge file of bank statements from the trust accounts, because Mom died four years ago and the taxes are all squared away and I have a letter from the IRS saying everything is all squared away and so I can be confident that they won’t come after me years from now. Right? Right?”

    “I’ve been inspired by “when in doubt throw it out” wisdom shared here.”

    I’ve not shared that wisdom, nor been inspired by it. My mantra is more like, “When in doubt, don’t waste time agonizing over it. Keep it for now and move on to other stuff, and come back to it later.”

    RMS, if you do keep it, I suggest labeling it so your recent sorting efforts aren’t for naught; the next time you look at it, a quick read of the label will tell you exactly what it is.

  46. I have a dim memory of my brother making mush out of old newspapers, then forming that into balls and letting them dry in the sun. He later burned them, which made them into charcoal briquettes.

  47. I cannot imagine myself taking the time and trouble to make that artificial log out of my torn and soaked documents. I think it would be less trouble to run them through a shredder. But I’ve done neither, so there you are.

    “Keep it for now and move on to other stuff, and come back to it later.”

    And that’s how I’ve ended up with lots of junk that I never got back to “later”.

  48. “Where to put the information about what is needed each day at soccer camp vs. Y camp vs. church camp? The forms that need to be turned in the first day of Y camp? Where to put the summer reading program sheets? ”

    I totally get this. But most of this stuff for me is in email or an online form that I can PDF and archive, so I just keep it in gmail with a label and then search if I need to reference. The forms I try to print immediately, fill in, scan at work (don’t tell RMS’s DH), and then email back.

    I also mark stuff in our iCal – e.g., field trip days & what is needed, etc.

    The worst is when things aren’t electronic. Keeping the various immunization and checkup sheets over the summer for the first day of school is a PITA.

  49. I also probably shred/burn fewer documents than some of you. What does everyone shred? Do you shred financial offers (CC, loan mortgage refi)? School documents w/o SS#? I just tear those up a little bit and throw gross kitchen garbage on top. I pretty much only bother to shred/burn things with full account numbers or SSN on them, which isn’t much.

    I sign up for electronic statements wherever possible too.

  50. “And that’s how I’ve ended up with lots of junk that I never got back to “later”.”

    Yeah, my approach only works with iteration.

    The idea is to go through a bunch of stuff very quickly, by not wasting time agonizing over whether to save anything– just eliminate what obviously doesn’t need to be saved, or for which an eager acceptor is known, etc.

    Then some time later– in my case, it’s typically multiple years– go through it again, eliminate more stuff. Each time, the pile gets smaller, and it gets easier to get rid of stuff after having seen all that time pass without ever having its presence or absence affect your life. And the stuff with sentimental value is nice to revisit every now and then.

    I think (hope?) it’ll work well when I retire and start cleaning up our house. The key will be to go through everything quickly, although I can see the spending a lot of time reminiscing, which should probably be a one goal of the exercise anyway.

  51. “I pretty much only bother to shred/burn things with full account numbers or SSN on them, which isn’t much.”

    It really helps that a lot of places no longer print full account numbers, e.g., credit card statements only showing the last 4 digits of the account number.

    “I sign up for electronic statements wherever possible too.”

    Yeah, that’s been a big factor in reducing clutter.

  52. Our mailbox doesn’t lock, so I figure if someone wants to steal my identity, they’ll do it directly out of the mailbox, rather than sorting thru the mix of discarded mail, dirty diapers and coffee grounds in the trash.

    Unfortunately, my area is not very electronic so forms come home on paper and need to be filled out. Y camp didn’t even offer its long registration form on-line- you had to go to the registration desk at the Y to obtain it. Church camp offered the form on-line and it amused me by asking for my parent’s signature as an adult helper. (I need to joke with my Dad about that.)

    When forms aren’t on “special” paper, I scan the first one with all the generic family info and then fill in each boy’s specific info. I was talking to my neighbor yesterday and she doesn’t have “the internet”, so full electronic isn’t coming to my neighborhood anytime soon.

  53. “Our mailbox doesn’t lock”

    I’m curious of how many totebaggers have a similar situation.

    One of the first things we did on moving to our current house was install a locking mailbox. It eventually rusted out, so I recently replaced it with a better locking mailbox.

    And of course, electronic delivery of bills, statements, etc., reduces exposure to mail theft.

  54. Rocky, four years. You’ve gotta burn that box. Is her birthday or the anniversary of her death or some other big day coming up, so you can say “goodbye” with a flourish one more time?

    One of the things I got rid of at my parents’ house, in with the pix and memorabilia, was my financial records from undergrad. Not the tuition-paying or room & board. That all went from my parents to the university. This was the checking account from which I paid for books and pizza, along with some add/drop forms and records. It’s all in the recycling. If somebody really wants my SSN, they can find it there. Oops.

    far too much room on the 3rd floor, which makes it super easy just to dump all those old papers in a box “just in case.”
    My sisters and I look forward to hauling out loads of medical journals when my parents go. Mom says he can’t stand the thought of purging them now. I think it’ll one of the easiest decisions.

    July, I’ve got that stuff too. And socks looking for mates stashed in three places.

    Signing up for one of those no-junkmail services is one of my tasks for this month.

  55. On my “other” goal, I was 29.5 this morning, need to be 29 by the weekend. That means Booty Burners and a little weight-lifting today, and swimming if the thunderstorms quit by the time my kid has basketball tonight. Or I could swim tomorrow. But Booty Burners, situps and supermans all week, and I’m doing the situps on an incline.

  56. We completed day two – shredding, and organizing half of our bookshelf (our bookshelf has 10 sections, 6 need to be sorted/organized, 3 were done last night). We did the initial purge earlier this year. Now we came back to re-organizing the remaining books and completing the purge.

    tonight we are practicing a yoga/plank move, continuing to shred and maybe tackle another part of the bookshelf (I have 3 more sections needing to be sorted/organized; then I can move on to the next bookshelf).

    Bonus – my mom was inspired to tackle some of the mess in her room. I’m going to keep trying to inspire her!

  57. From the DIN list — cleaned off the inside of the windshield, finally got the new basil plants into containers, and sorted out one drawer of the pantry (tossing tiny amounts of various gluten-free flours DH is playing with and that were leaking bits of gluten-free dust all over the drawer).

    Can’t remember who was struggling with finding spots for “orphan” items (the ones that don’t have a home), but my new solution, at least for the paper orphans, is those zippered clear plastic folders. They come in different sizes, but I’m using the regular letter size. They work better for me than regular folders because little things don’t fall out of them, and I can see immediately what is in them. When the cleaning or guests are coming, they are easily stashed into a bin or decorative basket or in one of those desk-top file holders. If I want to take some paperwork to a coffee shop (when the cleaning people are coming), it’s very easy to stuff it in a bag.

    Houston, in your honor, I will be cleaning the filter of the dehumidifier on Friday. :)

  58. Thanks for the window AC unit idea. We may start to use one. It never occurred to me.

  59. Hehehe, No new comments. I must not be the only one who got distracted today. Looking for slightly larger woodscrews to replace the ones on our loveseat so the legs won’t fall off anymore led to reorganizing my whole collection of hardware and tools. But there are still hours left in the day. Maybe I’ll still sort.

    Trouble is, I want a glass of wine while I sort, and I’ve done zero exercise today. :/

    One thing I have done is draft a list of things for next month’s challenge. I can’t decide if I want to group like tasks together (paint one week, clean closets the next) or go by rooms, so the kitchen one week, laundry room the next, etc.

  60. I got in one workout, but work is crazy and i’m working a ton of hours the last few days. So – takeout tonight, which one of my dear children will fetch, and I’ve already opened a bottle of wine. I’ll ramp up on my DIN starting Saturday, after I sleep a long long time.

  61. Day 3 – got DH to do the yoga chateranga planks with me and finished the bookshelf. DH also shredded. More shredding tomorrow filing and DVR. Pray for me – my dad and his wife are coming tomorrow…

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