Motivation January: How I Get a More Organized 2019!

Motivation January

It’s been a week since New Year, Happy 2019! I’ve been busy with family stuff over the holidays and for the first week of January, I have been doing the things that will help me start 2019 right! But we’re back to regular programming! Check out some of what I have been up to!


I took the opportunity to do some tidying up and decluttering. I just wanted to free up space to get more breathing room, and to stop maintaining things that I don’t really need or use anymore.


I have already decluttered my clothes over the years – I try to maintain a smaller closet with things I can actually wear today. If something doesn’t fit right today, and fixing it is too much hassle, it’s out. *Most* of the I’ll-wear-this-when-I’m-10-pounds-thinner clothes are gone. I still have a few cringy but comfortable clothes in my closet that I only wear when I go on errands, or pack on overnights because they don’t need to be ironed at all. I still have too many free T-shirts that I really should stop wearing. I didn’t use to wear the free T-shirts that companies give out, I don’t know why I started, but this year, it’s time to stop, haha. It’s unglamorous, even if it’s just pambahay 😀 I guess when I started doing more cooking and cleaning at home, I felt like if I wore those free shirts, I didn’t care if they got ruined. But surprisingly, those free T-shirts last a long time! But no more. Okay, in 2019, I’ll try to be a bit more fashionable even at home. I like watching “morning routines” or “clean with me” type of videos on YouTube, and those women have actual loungewear, the type I see at Uniqlo. I am still not convinced about spending that kind of money to buy Uniqlo clothes just to use as “pambahay” even if they’re cute. My regular “panlabas” clothes are not that comfortable to wear for “pambahay” because they are mostly dresses, so I can’t use old “panlabas” clothes as “pambahay”. What’s your take on this? Do people actually buy clothes from Uniqlo to use as “pambahay” lang? I did buy a few cute t-shirts from Greenhills that are not as expensive as Uniqlo. I also bought some loungewear pants at SM, the loose flowy type. I don’t want to buy “dusters” because that’s my mom and my aunts’ pambahay, I don’t want to think I’ve reached that stage where I wear dusters at home, hahaha 🙂

What is your usual “pambahay” attire? 🙂 Mine are the free T-shirts with the brand logos pa, and shapeless garter waist puruntong unisex shorts. Haha. It’s so bad. And the past year I’ve been getting visitors / deliveries, and I assume that it’s just a rider, but when I go to meet them, it’s actually my contact person doing the deliveries  So in 2019, one of my resolutions is to look presentable even when I’m just at home. Time to donate all the bad pambahay clothes. I will just keep 3 free t-shirts to use when I’m going to do projects where I will get dirty.

On most days, I don’t really get dirty aside from getting possibly splattered with raw meat water, fish goo, cooking oil and sauces. There are some days when I want to get something from the attic, or water spray clean off the moss that’s growing on the outdoor walls, or do some DIYs like paint furniture, and those are the times I get really dirty, but that’s rare. I guess I can make the effort to keep clean by making a habit to use an apron every time I cook or wash anything. 😀


The past few years I have been reading e-books instead of paper books and I have decluttered many books from my collection over the years. These are the only ones that are left that have sentimental value.

Declutter books

But as we were cleaning the attic, it became clear to me that I will never re-read these books. These books were just getting old, so I thought about giving them away before they disintegrated. But it was breaking my heart to let them go. So I posted the books on Facebook and just asked anyone of my friends if they wanted them. And so requests from  friends came for this set or that set to give to their kids who loved to read. This way, it didn’t feel so bad to let the books go because I knew that they were going to be appreciated. I feel like my books will get a new life and be read by a new generation. Someone suggested that I sell them, but it just didn’t feel right to sell these things I love. I’m just happy that they are going to good homes.

Including photos of the books here for my own remembrance.

Dragonlance Books 1

Dragonlance Books 2

Wheel of Time 1

Wheel of Time 2

While I wanted to keep the books forever, we don’t have a library in our house anymore. It’s not like the old days when having shelves upon shelves of books was a thing. Everything’s on the internet now. The only thing I have now is a small shelf with cookbooks I barely even use. I am sad that e-readers didn’t take off here in the Philippines like it has in the US. I wish there were more e-readers available locally at affordable prices, and that digital books were easier to access here legally and affordably, like, say, an iflix for books. Reading on a laptop, cellphone or tablet just puts too much strain on the eyes.

Using Up Beauty Stuff

Who else has a cabinet-full of makeup, skincare, and bath items and samples? I just end up with a lot – many gifted from friends and family, some sent in PR, and some my well-meaning relatives hoard from their hotel stays and give to me. It’s an Asian / Filipino thing, right? Hahaha. No, I don’t feel insulted that they give me sets of hotel bath products. I know it’s a sign that they think of me and they went through the effort to get me these things and haul them across the globe. I really don’t need them, and I have not come across any hotel shampoo, conditioner or bath gel that give the same effect as my holy grail bath products, not even premium brands, but I appreciate the gesture so I don’t want to give them away. If I give them away, I feel like I would be insulting them because after all the effort they did, I’ll just give the stuff away? I try to use them up as much as I can but I haven’t been using them as often as I should to use them up.  This year, I resolve to use as many of these as I can.

I always thought I would reserve them to use when I travel. But I actually never stay at a place that does not provide their own set of toiletries, so I never actually get to use them in this manner. So might as well start using them every day. At least my “real” products last longer 🙂

Also, I am the type of person who will finish an entire bottle of moisturizer even if it’s just so-so, unless it’s super bad. I paid for it, you’re damn right I am going to use it up. I don’t like having 20 opened bottles of moisturizer on my vanity. As it is, I already have 5 opened and it’s taking up too much space. I also use very little moisturizer each time, it’s enough for me, so each bottle takes a very, very long time to be used up. This is why I don’t think I can be a skincare blogger and review a new skincare product every few days, the amount of opened skincare products out on my counter would drive me crazy.

Inbox Zero

I have been slowly cleaning my various inboxes. I have unsubscribed from countless email lists. I was able to get my Yahoo email to just around 20 emails in my inbox, from 9,000+ emails! I created folders for the various emails I want to file, like Accounts (for account registration-related emails), Billing Receipts (for all emailed official receipts for online payments, online purchases, etc…), folders for Family, Friends, Travel, and filed all related emails there.

Then I looked at the emails I got. Which are the biggest spam culprits? The major inbox cloggers for me were the online shopping site emails. So, on the search box, I search for XYZ Shopping Site, and all the emails from XYZ Shopping Site show up. I select them all then quickly go through the list, unchecking anything important like “Thank you for registering to XYZ Shopping Site”, then I delete all the unwanted emails from XYZ. Why do I keep the registration email? It’s so that if I ever forget which email account I used to sign up to that site, I can just do a search. When you do a “Forgot Password” process, they rarely tell you which email address you used, so if you don’t know which email you used, it’s going to be more difficult to have to guess.

I also got my Gmail Inbox from 7,000+ emails down to 1,600+. I try to do a little every day – do a search on this particular sender, move the important emails to their appropriate folders and delete the rest.

The feeling of not having a lot of spam is just such a relief. For maintenance, I try to read or at least open and scan the emails and delete them immediately if they are not useful. I realized that the reason that my inbox crept up to 9,000+ emails was because I didn’t delete my emails if I had not read them yet, worrying that I might be deleting something useful that I might want to refer back in the future.

So while I was deleting these thousands of emails, I realized that from now on, I should just do a quick look right away and then delete the emails right away. What good were the sale emails from March 2018 now? The discount codes and whatever are useless now. No point in keeping them. If I don’t think I will be using those discount codes now, just delete them right away to prevent email from piling up. If I really, really need the discount code, the deleted email is still in the Trash folder.

Old Electronics

I still had an mp3 player circa 2000! And a Pocketbell. And a Walkman. And a Discman. Old speakers. I asked around if anybody wanted them, someone did. The rest, I decluttered. Also decluttering broken mice, old routers that don’t work properly… One of the things I need to do is to go through our cord box and figure out what the cords are for and if the cords still work on not.

Tip: From now on, any time we buy any sort of item that has a cord, a charger, etc… I make sure to label it. You can use a Dymo labeler, or what I often do is just write it on paper cut it out, and tape it on the thing. This makes things easier to identify when stored. And if you’re decluttering the main gadget, it’s easy to find the matching cord/charger to include with the declutter.

Cord Label

GET RID OF BAGGAGE FROM 2018 (or older)

I try to keep on top of things, but sometimes paperwork just pours in and they became this pile of papers on a corner of my room that I am afraid to touch. Well, one of the reasons I took so long to start blogging again in 2019 is because I spent this week tackling them. Filed the ones that needed to be filed, shredded the ones that needed to be shred, threw away junk mail and papers that I didn’t need anymore, and finally processed the things! By that I mean, submitting the forms that needed to be submitted (some were from 2014 pa!), going all around town visiting the different offices I needed to visit. I’m not yet finished but the big pile has been reduced to a few folders and I already have things scheduled to do with them.

This also means paying off any debts, returning favors, etc… Borrowed something from a friend? Did you promise something but have not followed through? Make an effort to do what you need to do. If you can’t do it right away, put it on your To-Do List or your calendar. Not only will this help declutter your home, you’ll also get this guilty feeling off your chest.

Also, unsubscribe from things you don’t need anymore. I switched my Smart Freedom Plan to the Call All 149 after they removed the MegaCombo250. I recently saw that the MegaCombo250 is back through the page. However, I don’t need it anymore. I spent all this time moving to my Globe Prepaid GoSakto that I don’t need the Mega Combo 250 anymore, even if it is a good deal. I also have not been using my Call All 149 at all, maybe just 2 minutes a month, and I was paying P149/month for it. So I just unsubscribed from it and put my Smart Freedom Plan on pay as you go and will just pay for what I use every month.

Get rid of baggage that is weighing you down. Start 2019 fresh!


What are the things that take up too much time and which can I improve to make life easier?

Meal Planning

Cooking meals is probably one of the most time-consuming things I do in a day, even with house helpers. When I do meal planning, I find that things go a lot easier, but I really should find more food that’s easier to cook and easily delegated.

I can’t really do what most of the US meal planners are doing, which is only cooking one thing per meal, because that’s just not how we roll. We grew up eating laureat per meal, complete with that round spinning lazy Susan in the middle of the table filled with food. Anything less and I would get told that I am not feeding them properly. We need to have a complete meal with at least 5 things on the table – a main dish, several side dishes (any combination: soup, vegetables, steamed eggs, pasta, noodles,etc…), dessert. This makes meal planning trickier.

Fortunately, no one minds if we eat the same dishes for lunch and dinner. What I have been doing is cooking a bigger batch of food, usually the main dish, good for lunch and dinner. By dinner time, we just reheat. This frees up my afternoon because the help can take care of reheating and simple cooking. Sometimes the leftovers last until the next day so that’s a little less cooking for me.

However, I still feel that spending 2-3 hours a day on cooking is too much wasted time. I have been working on some pressure cooker meals and crockpot meals to make things easier, and I hope to do more of those. But to be honest, crockpot meals all start to taste the same after a while.

I don’t get to do meal planning every week like I should. Meal planning takes the stress of wondering what on earth to cook today away. Also, with meal planning, things that need to be defrosted or soaked can be defrosted / soaked the night before. Ideally, all the ingredients needed for the week would have been bought during the Sunday palengke (market) run. However, just in case, any missing ingredients can be assigned to the help the night before to buy early in the morning. When I’m cooking without a meal plan for the week, it’s usually a mad scramble to defrost the meat and buy missing ingredients, which wastes time and effort and results in a late lunch.

But meal planning also takes at least 2 hours to do, or more, if it includes researching recipes. What I plan to do is list down a core group of dishes that we can easily cook for the next 3 months, and just pick from that list every week, varying it up a little each week. I also hope to be able to incorporate what’s in season on the menu. Also, I need to include making advanced food. For example, I can make a double or triple batch of embutido and freeze them. This way, there is always food available just in case I want to go out for a lunch event and wasn’t able to cook. The helper can slice and fry the embutido. I could also make lumpiang shanghai filling in advance, and the helper only needs to thaw it, wrap the lumpia and fry it.

I’ll try to blog my meal planning journey, please let me know if you’re interested!

Declutter and Organize an Area per Week

I still have “kalat” zones that I need to take care of, or little things that I want to tackle / improve. All I need is to organize one little zone per week, that’s all.

  1. Teas – I have too many teas, I need to make a habit of drinking tea regularly.
  2. Fancy jewelry – a lot of it I just keep for sentimental reasons. I really should just keep the ones I actually use and declutter the rest.
  3. Refrigerator – with 8 people using the refrigerators, they always end up looking like disaster zones. I must become a refrigerator tyrant and insist that all my fridge organization laws be obeyed.
  4. Paper Stationery – why do I still have my collection? 😀 Nobody even writes letters on stationery anymore… I haven’t used any in years.
  5. Junk Shelves – other people have junk drawers. We have junk shelves and junk cabinets. Need to declutter and organize them.
  6. CDs and DVDs – we don’t even have DVD players anymore… why am I still keeping my Naruto / Bleach / Hajime no Ippo / Code Geass CDs? 😀 Once upon a time, I went to Quiapo every weekend 😀 I am only keeping my “orig” CDs  / DVDs now, although I am thinking of decluttering them, too, because what am I going to do with them? We don’t even have players anymore aside from the DVD drive on our computers.
  7. Digital declutter! Movies, TV series,  music and photos – am I realistically going to re-watch any of them? No. Besides, we already have Netflix and Spotify. I haven’t updated my mp3 collection in years. As for photos – it’s time to go through the photos from 2018, file those that are nice and hold memories, and delete the junk photos, like the memes I send friends 🙂 Declutter / organize / update – just keep the favorites / classics.
  8. Eco bags / paper bags – we have too many eco bags! Three mountains’ worth… declutter & organize.
  9. Old jars & bottles & plastic trays used for meat from Landers & S&R – we have shelves full of them. I always thought we can reuse or repurpose them as flower vases, etc… you know, like how they do it on Pinterest… shabby chic… or do some DIY projects with them. But it never happens.
  10. Outdated-looking decor and paintings in the house – Mukha pa silang 2000s, get with 2019 na, hahaha. Ohemgee, it’s 2019! Almost 20 years since 2000!!! But I don’t feel old. Who still feels 26? Apir!

I finished organizing our bathroom shelf a few days ago. Our bathroom does not have any built-in storage, so for the longest time, I used this shoe organizer shelf. After a few years, I even spray painted it white. Twice. But now it’s cracked and ugly-looking with peeling paint.

Bathroom Shelf Old

I’ve been looking for a replacement shelf and was thinking that I might have to find a carpenter to build me one instead, when my sister chanced upon this bamboo shelf. It was more expensive than a plastic shelf, but we just bit the bullet because this means I don’t need to waste time looking for a carpenter, buying the materials, etc… Do you guys think I should paint it white so it recedes more into the background? Should I add a thicker coat of varnish to make it more water-resistant?

Bathroom Shelf New 1

I transferred the items to all white transparent containers so everything would look uniform and then I labeled them.

Bathroom Shelf New

Tip: from now on, commit to a color scheme and only buy containers in that color so all the containers look uniform. I am choosing white transparent with no other colors. For example, transparent white container with white cover YES; transparent white container with orange cover NO. I will slowly start replacing all of my other colored containers this year. I still need to work on the blue drawer thing that holds the Jeunesse.

I also washed my bag! We went to Dampa after New Year and I don’t want to use my bag anymore without washing it first. I just feel like it got some fish goo on it while doing the marketing. I transferred all my stuff to a clean bag and the dirty bag was just sitting on the bedroom floor for a week waiting to be washed. So I finally did it today. Yay, me! Go 2019! Want to know how to wash a Longchamp Le Pliage? Blogged it.

Wash Dry Longchamp Le Pliage

Digitize Old Photos

This is an important project for me. Many of our old photos got ruined by damp conditions in the attic. I started scanning the pile I was able to save in 2017, did half, but didn’t get around to finishing them. I need to scan them asap before they deteriorate any further.

I just use my all-in-one printer scanner to scan the photos and then I upload them to Dropbox, and shared with the family.

These all-in-one printers are so useful! Aside from color printing, I print out ID pictures using the printer, not for really official purposes, of course, but just generic stuff where they ask for ID photos. I also don’t need to go out to get a xerox anymore, I can do B&W and color photocopies with the printer. And I am able to scan our photos pa. Really very happy with that purchase.

Do the thing right away!

The traffic in Manila is really bad, that when I get home, the last thing I want to do is to sit in front of my laptop and blog. All I want to do is wash the Metro Manila pollution off, and then chill and relax and watch my shows.

I always think, my brain is fried now, I’ll do it tomorrow. But then tomorrow comes with its own problems and things keep getting pushed back. But having so many things “pending” is just not a good way to live.

This year, I’ll try blog things the same day/night of an event, or at least write a draft, which I can just polish the next morning.

I really need to be better at doing things right away rather than waiting for the “perfect time” or “when I have time” to do it. I should not let things pile up. Done is better than perfect.

Create routines

I need to be better about my morning routine. I used to have a morning routine, and somewhere along the way, it got lost. My morning routine now is very haphazard – just wake up and start doing stuff. I dunno. I used to hate routine, but now I feel like I need to build that structure. Things are too messy when your time is flexible, and everybody wants a piece of your time…

Anyway, I need to build daily and weekly routines where I don’t have to think about what to do because it will be automatic. I noticed that what bog me down are the decisions that I need to make – from choosing what to wear, especially on deciding what to cook, what to buy for groceries, and other mundane household stuff like having to call the mineral water people to order water, and dealing with all the household crap that inevitably happens. Something always comes up. Something breaks and needs to get fixed. Something happens that needs to be responded to right away and I am the only one available to do it. The bulk of my brainpower should not be focused on those things. I need to minimize any more decision-making on this end, hence, meal planning and working on the things that I can control, like printing out a nice phone list with the mineral water and LPG people’s numbers and put it beside the phone so I don’t have to look for their numbers on old receipts to re-order. I just put the phone list in one of those acrylic stands that you can buy at bookstores. I already have a draft of my routines, I just need to implement them and tweak them until they work for me.

Organized Phone Reference

These are the easy, small, actionable things that I will do in 2019 that will make my life more organized. With a more organized life, I hope to have more time to do actual more productive things. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please feel free to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you!

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2 thoughts on “Motivation January: How I Get a More Organized 2019!

    1. Karen MNL Post author

      Thank you for your comment @edelweiza 🙂 the phone list has been a practice I’ve kept since my corporate days. Since there were so many people whose extensions we needed to remember, it became standard practice to print out something like this and pin it to the cubicle wall. And then even after the phone extensions were already included in the Avaya directory, it was still faster to look at the printout than to search the name on the phone screen 🙂

      This time, I just printed out a new directory and updated it with the mineral water number, LPG, etc…

      Writing blog posts is hard, right? It takes a lot of mental energy 🙂


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