Improving the Living Room

Ways to Make Living Room Appear and Feel Bigger

Our house is pretty small, and although I think it's perfect because we are not living beyond our means, it does get a bit overwhelming when it feels like the walls are closing in on me. And part of the reason I get that sensation is that our house is filled with so much STUFF. I feel like I'm constantly downsizing our stuff, but it just keeps growing.


#1 – Reduce Furniture

One quick and easy way to make a living room appear and feel bigger is to reduce the amount of furniture. It may seem like an odd thing to do, but for us, it meant moving our old couch out of the living room. Hubbie was kind of against it initially because he though (correctly) that it really reduced the seating for when we have guests over. The reality is that we rarely have people over (ok, actually we probably have a few people over every weekend). So the reality is that when people come over, we typically congregate at the table to eat, drink, talk and play games.

My thinking is that if people want to relax in my living room, they can sit on our little ottoman or pull in a kitchen chair. We currently only have 2 adult recliners and M's little purple recliner. I think it should be fine. If it turns out to be terribly awkwards, I may rethink the whole thing and consider buying a loveseat or newer couch.

#2 – Remove the Exercise Equipment

So that would be a great way to clear space in your living room and make it feel bigger. For us, though, we moved our Elliptical IN from the garage to where the couch used to be. The Elliptical does take up less space, so it was still a spcially economical swap. 

…to be continued…


On another note of GSD:

I've been wanting to swap our old couch with our Elliptical for a while, and we finally did it today! It was an amazing feeling! As much as I love the old couch, it has unfortunately transformed into a landing station for clean clothes, toys and blankets. It's rarely cleared off and feels like just "one more job" to keep it in a cleared state. 

My Happy Lists - De-Cluttering

The couch is now in our garage and is a project for another day. But now we have the Elliptical in the living room so that we can do 30 minutes of cardio every day. No excuses!

My Happy Lists - De-Cluttering

Love it! Now we just need to get into a habit of hopping on regularly.

I am officially Gettin' S*&% DONE!

My Everything/Forever List

That's it. I'm doing it. I'm making a list for "everything else" that's never going to be finished because I keep adding to it. Where does this list currently exist? In my head.

Yeah, like many women, I have the running list of everything I need to do, want to do, hope to do, just going on and on and on in my brain. Well, I'm tired of it. It's time to just put it on the list when I think of it (or when I get a second to write). Then I can stop thinking about it and start planning and doing, which sounds pretty appealing. 

Rules of the List

  • Number the list because it's fun
  • When an item is complete, "cross it off" the list 
    • Write a blog post about it and include at least ONE picture
  • Add the date the item went on the list
  • Add the date the item was completed


So here goes…My Everything/Forever List

  1. Make a list for a week of work lunches/snacks
  2. Start making hummus (10/23/13)
  3. Start using homemade wipes again (10/23/13)
  4. Re-read the Five Languages of Love (10/23/13)
  5. Design Elliott's birth announcement (he's only 3 months old already!) (10/23/13)
  6. Send pictures to Minnesota family monthly (10/23/13)
  7. Start a "Baby Mamas" group at work (10/23/13)
  8. Go the Seafood Buffet at the CDA Casino with friends (10/23/13)
  9. DONE on 10/23/2013! Go to luncheon and donate to Transition (10/23/13)
  10. Make a bigger breastmilk storage box for freezer (10/23/13)
  11. Redesign MyHappyLists blog (11/21/13)
  12. Write at least once per week (11/21/13)
  13. Start a tradition of weekly date nights with daughter (11/21/13)
  14. Experiment with different eczema treatments for Baby E and myself (11/21/13)
  15. Create a visual tracking at home for goals (exercise & chores) (11/21/13)


Simplify for Success

This list is for the things that will help me be more successful by simplifying tasks.

  1. Leave a bag of frozen berries at work (instead of bringing a cup every day and then not bringing them) (10/24/2013)

Ways to Improve Focus at Work

I am really struggling today to get focused on work. I'm juggling a few different projects with similar deadlines, and I'm finding that I quiickly lose interest in all of them as soon as I start working on them. So what happens? I switch between projects repeatedly, which means I have about 30 windows open on my desktop, including Facebook and my personal email (tsk, tsk). 



If you ever have days (or weeks) like this, try using some of the following ideas to get focused at work. As soon as I'm done writing this (giving myself a 7-minute time limit to finish it), I'm going to do #1. 

#1 – Set the timer for 45-minutes & turn off EVERY unrelated distraction

I set the alarm on my phone for 45 minutes from now and I turn off every distraction. For me, that means closing every window and tab on my computer that is not DIRECTLY related to the task at hand. I tell myself, when that alarm goes off, I can reward myself. Until then, all I can do is the project at hand.

This method usually results in the same amount of work as a 3-hour chunk of time with all those distractions. 

#2 – Measure your tasks & time to deadline

Make a list of all of the tasks you need to complete to finish said project. Now make a time estimate for each of those tasks. How many working days until your deadline? Divide those days by the total amount of time. That's how much you need to spend each day before your project is due. It's a good idea to add a couple extra hours in there for when things go wrong, too. 

Put your time in at the beginning of the days so that if you want (or are able to), you can spend some more time on your project as needed. Don't save it all up for the end of the day when you're liking ot push it all off. The key is distributing tasks and times evenly. 


Project: Computer-Based Training Development
Deadline: 6 working days


  • Create Training Binder & Need of Training Verification (.5)
  • Complete training analysis & summary (.5)
  • Determine & justify delivery method (.5)
  • Identify existing material to re-use or adapt (.5)
  • Review flip chart & suggest edits or updates (2)
  • Collect visual media, finalize layouts, design CBT activity (4)
  • Storyboards, Action Maps, Scenario Branches (2)
  • Create facilitator guide (3)
  • Create Knowledge Check (2) 
  • Collect attachment info & URLs (1)
  • Complete CBT scenes with text and visual media (8)
  • Write narration (2)
  • Record Narration (4)
  • Add animations, annotations (3)
  • Develop participant handouts and guides (2)
  • Subject Matter Expert review (2)
  • Test and Edit (2)
  • Test and Edit (2)
  • Test and Edit (2)
  • Publish for Pilot (1)


RESULT: 44/6 = 7.3 hours per day

Suddenly a project that seemed pretty simple and straight forward just became real. I need to work on this baby for 7+ hours per day to hit my deadline? And this is only 1 of 3 projects that are coming due. 

As you can see, this exercise can be a big wake-up call. It only takes about 5 or 10 minutes to complete, but I feel incredibly motivated (and a tad stressed) to get VERY focused today. I really don't want to be spending time at home working on these projects. Perhaps if I focus intently, I can shave some of that estimated time off!

#3 – No time! 

Would love to make this list long, but I REALLY need to get focused on deadline-oriented tasks right now! :)