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Turn the major stressors in your life into blessers

A couple of the major stressors in our lives are money and paperwork. Now I can't wave a magic wand and make more money come into your bank account, but I can give you the tools to help you wisely handle what you do have.

In our basic weekly plan we have a couple of days (no, not days — just a few minutes on Wednesday and Friday) set aside to pay your bills and put together a grocery list. What you have told me is that you can't understand why you don't just pay your bills when you have the money. Well, I understand why. It is called procrastination and lack of an appointed time to sit down and do them. The bills are hiding in a hot spot on the dining table or floating around in the car or, heaven forbid, your bottomless pit of a purse. So, in order to pay a bill, you have to be able to find it. Imagine that, knowing where your bills are, where your checkbook is and how much money is in the bank, and then being able to find a stamp to mail the envelope. If you had all of this in one place, then that would be a stressor turned into a blesser.

Here is how you do this. When you bring the mail in the house, do not pile it on the dining room table. Open it up immediately, don't set it down thinking you will get to it later. Then get rid of the junk mail, and put the rest in one place. Then when Wednesday or Friday rolls around, you will know where they are, and that is one less frustrating step you have to take to pay them.

This is why we developed the "Office in a Bag." It doesn't matter what kind of zip-up binder you use, just as long as you keep your necessary items in one place so you can find them. The beauty of using a zip-up bag with a carrying strap is that it is portable. So when you have those 15 minutes at soccer practice, your lunch hour or waiting for an appointment, you have everything you need to pay your bills, plan next week's menus and a grocery list. Just look at all the stress you have relieved by putting together this little tool. Not to mention the money you have saved in late fees and overspending at the grocery store once you actually use your basic weekly plan. With menus, a grocery list in hand and a shopping trip, you will no longer find yourself standing in front of your refrigerator at 6 p.m. saying, "What's for dinner?" That is another one of the big stressors in your life.

There is no magic wand here, it all fits together, but you have to start by putting a couple of pieces in place. Imagine all the stressors in your life as a big jigsaw puzzle. When you dump the puzzle out of the box, it is a jumbled mess. Then you start by turning over all the pieces so you can see them clearly. I think this is what our FlyLady e-mails and Web site are all about: looking at things just a little harder and trying to figure out how it all fits together. Then you start to put the framework together, by finding all the flat sides. This is in your routines, basic weekly plan, taking care of yourself, decluttering and keeping that sink shining. Before you know it, the outside frame is put together and you start filling in the various sections. Each little section is one of these stressors that play havoc with your health and life. As you put in place one little section at a time — these are the areas of your life and home that have been in chaos — your puzzle's pieces get easier and easier to fill in. The finished puzzle is a picture of peace for your life.

I know this sounds kind of simple, and it really is. If you will just start with building your framework of your simple routines (Control Journal), get dressed to shoes each morning and keep your sink shiny, then you will begin to feel a sense of accomplishment and some of your stress will go away!

Are you ready to turn the stressors in your life into blessers?

Marla Cilley, a k a FlyLady, is the author of Sink Reflections (Bantam Books Trade Paperback). For more help, please go to her Web site: © 2005