Women

Rationalise your relationships

1.    Limit draining friendships Of course we support real friends through tough times, but there’s another type who wants to endlessly discuss the minutiae of her life and seek reassurance. Make a private “I will say this three times only” rule. Once you have offered your wisdom, if she continues to talk about the problem, stay silent and change the subject. Alternatively, try, “You need to talk to a professional, not me, as I’m your friend.” She’ll probably be relieved to have been given permission to seek help.

Description: Time to get some breathing space

2.    Cull long-standing commitments Diary always frantic, even on day off? Time to get some breathing space. List the commitments that have stacked up (school committees/treasure ect) and decide which are important. Eliminate the rest. As you step down, explain you have enjoyed doing it, but it’s time to focus on other areas of your life and you hope they understand. They will. This is easier than we realise because we’re all expendable. Think of it not as leaving them in the lurch but as creating an opportunity for someone else.

3.    Take your custom elsewhere! How many of us continue with unsatisfactory arrangements because ending them seems too awkward. What are yours? A cleanser who is not very good at cleaning? A hairdresser who has lost her spark? Take a deep breath and change them today, giving a month’s notice where appropriate. Do not justify yourself beyond saying your needs have changed. When we give reasons, we often fib, then feel bad – and the other party knows we’re not being authentic and feels bad too.

4.    Freshen up your marriage. Do you and your husband spend little time alone together? Offer each other one night a week or a weekend every month where you do this. Take each other on an “artist’s date”, where you show each other something creative that inspires you (a building, a sculpture, a painting). Offering each other something fresh helps bring you out of your routine.

Description: Do you and your husband spend little time alone together?

5.    Stand up to critical parents/friends/siblings! They love you, they want what they believe is best for you, but their niggling criticisms, raised eyebrows or unfavourable comparisons are undermining. Recognize that if someone makes you feel small, they do so with your cooperation. Take a deep breath, remind yourself you’re an adult and this doesn’t have to touch you. Don’t be drawn in with self-justifications. Respond with, “Thank you for that. I’ll think about it.” End of conversation. It’s easier to deflect by stepping away, not confronting. Create some space between you for a while and, if it persists, back away again, until the person gets the message.

6.    Find help caring for your parents Don’t silently seethe if when sibling don’t pull their weight  talk to them. Arrange a get-together on neutral territory. Don’t start with criticism but approach it as a team, explaining that you’d like to talk about how best to meet your parents’ needs. Proximity, career or family demands may place a heavier duty of care on one of you so offer alternative ways to help, such as financial support for additional care or taking your parents on holiday. No siblings? Can other family members help? Don’t expect instant resolution, so meet again in a fortnight.

Take control of your home

1.    Organise your paperwork Unopened mail, school letters, bank statements, bills – taken together are the single biggest problem in very household. Organize a three-tier system: an in tray for current matters, a magazine file for ongoing projects and a large box file for long-term, important documents you rarely refer to.

Description: Organise your paperwork

2.    Tackle your underwear Empty the drawers on the bed, pair up socks and throw out any odd ones. Get rid of everything greying, out of shape or holey!

3.    Streamline your wardrobe Most women have clothes for three different weights and sizes, but those really skinny jeans are a depressing reminder whenever you open your wardrobe! (And if you do get back to that size, you’ll want to go out and get new ones anyway.) Separate the clothes that don’t fit, pack away the special items and get rid of the rest.

4.    Tidy your photographs We all have a backlog of prints from the pre-digital era. Discard the ones you have in duplicate, any that are unflattering or meaningless, frame the best and stick the remainder in one box. You can also digitize your old prints – Tesco charges around 15p per photo to scan your snaps and transfer them on to a DVD or memory stick.

5.    Manage your medicines Get rid of the ones long past their sell-by dates, the emergency supplies you bought on holiday for a sick child – you can’t read the label or remember the dosage. Check you have up-to-date basics of adult and child medicines, plus bandages, plasters and sterile wipes.

6.    Empty your purse Get rid of loyalty cards you never use, out-of-date offers, receipts from 2010. Put back what remains in a tidy, sensible order.

7.    Recycle, gift and sell! Many of us intend to sell our bits on eBay, but often don’t.stuffusell.co.uk will do it for a fee.

8.    Sort out the shoe situation Piles of footwear in the hallway? Invest in a shoe rack with room for two pairs each. Tell the family others go upstairs. Warn that shoes dumped in the hall will end up in a black bag in the garage. Carry out your threat.

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