Look what we stumbled upon while helping a client organize their basement last week. It’s a gift wrap station that they created themselves. I was so impressed with the simplicity of it and how well it worked that I asked their permission to share it with you.
I invested in my first-ever iPhone last month and am amazed at all of the fantastic apps available out there. Here are a list of just a few that sound intriguing to me (and might be helpful to you):
For many, many years I ran around preparing for Christmas and other holidays so that everything would be picture perfect. Whether I was hosting the event, or attending it at someone else’s house, I would feel the entire weight of the event on my shoulders.
It’s a great idea to make room for all of the new stuff that you know will be coming in during the holidays. Here are a few simple tips to accomplish that:
- Shop online. – So simple – enough said.
- Condense your shopping. – Don’t waste time rushing from store to store. Pick a shopping destination, or two, and buy as many gifts as you can from your list there.
Don’t be sucked in by the great holiday sales you see this year. Sales can be a great thing, but not if they cause you to buy something you (or your family and friends) don’t need. Why not give gifts this year that won’t add clutter to your family and friends home or office? Think of some creative ways you can celebrate the season together instead.
Did you know that 80% of a recently polled group said that they ate dinner at home just 3 or fewer times last week! I’ve got a hunch that not having the time, or taking the time, to do meal planning may play an important role in that.
I’m the kind of person that has to see things to remember that I want to do them, or have to do them. I am what they call a visual person. That’s why it is so crucial to me that everything is kept where it belongs. That way I’ll notice things I have to do when I see them laying in a place where I know they don’t belong.
I am a huge fan of Rick Warren. His book, The Purpose Driven Life, was a catalyst for me becoming a professional organizer. The book had a huge impact on my life and was a life changer for me. Following is one of his daily devotionals about Choosing A Simpler Life. I’ve bolded the last 2 paragraphs because they say it all. Enjoy!
I have a 21 year old daughter that suffers from ADHD. Living a peaceful, orderly, organized life has never been easy for her. We’ve had many challenges over the years and I’ve been extremely hard on her in many instances thinking that would straighten her out.
When you think of being organized, you most likely think of a picture out of Better Homes & Gardens where everything looks perfect. Without a doubt the picture shows shelves lined perfectly with cute baskets or a desk with nothing on it. In all honesty, these pictures are not realistic. Being organized does NOT mean being perfect. Being organized means setting up your home or office to function more efficiently and effortlessly.
A big part of getting organized is determining the zones for each area you are working in and then only allowing those things that belong in that zone to live there. What do I mean by zones?
Simple quick tips to tackle any small area in your home or office this weekend.
- Pick a small area to start in.
- Sort like items with like items.
- Purge those items you don’t need or that don’t belong in that space.
- Find homes and containers for the items you’re keeping based on their use.
- Label, label, label!
We’re expecting a big storm in St Louis today. This is another situation where it pays to be organized and all it takes is a little planning ahead.
- Make sure your wiper washer fluid and gas tank is full in your car.
- Keep an ice scraper, bag of kitty litter (for traction in case you car get stuck) and blanket in your car.
- Have a snow shovel and salt handy.
- Have a well-stocked refrigerator.
It’s not too early to start getting the paperwork together that you need for taxes. If you have been using a FreedomFiler, your tax papers are already together for you.
At Simplified Living Solutions, we get so many phone calls that it’s hard to keep up with them. If I had to pick the hardest park of owning and running this business, it would be trying to return all of the phone calls when time allows.
As a small business owner there are so many things to keep track of for your taxes. One of which is keeping track of your mileage. It can be a struggle to make sure it is tracked and documented all year. Either you forget to mark it down, you forget to bring a piece of paper to mark it on, or you lose the paper you marked it on.
Do you have gift cards, coupons and frequent buyer cards scatterred throughout your home or office? Do you miss great deals and savings by never having them with you when you need them? If so, here’s the solution; the Card Cubby.
The Pledge fabric sweeper for pet hair is the best thing I’ve found for removing animal hair. I have 2 dogs who seem to shed alot. They sneak up on the couch at night. In the morning, I awake to a mess of pet hair on the couch that has always been difficult to get off. With the Pledge fabric sweeper for pet hair, it is so easy to remove the hair. Before I found this great product, I used my hand-held vacuum to try to get the hair up. I would spend a long time vacuuming and would feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere. Now the clean up is done in seconds.
I recently learned of a fantastic tool called Paytrust that helps you manage those out of control bill piles. You can receive, review, pay & organize all your bills online with their services. You can manage multiple checking accounts within your Paytrust account. The thing about this services that really stands out for me is that your bills are sent directly to them and they scan them for you. This way you don’t still have that paper pile of bills you would have when using other services, but you still have access to see any of your past bills with just a click. You can even print copies of any bill you might need a copy of. At the end of the year, you can get a copy of the entire years records on CD.
As a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, I have the opportunity to chat and learn from other Professional Organizers all over the country. This recent post by Robin Harisis of Room Service Personal Organizing in New York really caught my attention. She was able to capture exactly what I try to share with Moms in such a perfect way. With her permission, I am copying it here.
I live an organized life because I like a sense of calm. I want to feel comfortable if guests drop by unannounced. I want to find my phone and my keys instantly. I want to put my hands on a much-needed document at a moment’s notice. I want to locate the perfect outfit in my closet. I want to grab all of the ingredients for my dinner recipe. And I want to do all of these things (and more) easily, quickly and in a relaxed manner.
It’s not too early to begin preparing for the holidays. As a matter of fact, it’s a fantastic idea to get started now before the stress and rush of the holidays is upon us. Here are a few things you can do in advance to get a head start on things:
What little area in your home or office is so disorganized that it’s really creating havoc in your life? Why not tackle it this weekend? Here are some little projects you should be able to complete in 3 hours or less. And by taking the time now to tackle those areas, it will save you time and stress in the future.
Discover how YOU can change the world, live a supercharged life, and maximize your time at this FREE workshop.
Preparing for a move is the key to a successful, stress-free move. You can begin preparing months before you move by determining what items you know you won’t use before you move and packing those right away.
What? Why would you say that? Because there is seldom a home that we walk into that doesn’t have lots of cute organizing containers. I always say if a company makes a basket and puts a cute little bow on it, people are going to buy them up like hot cakes. The problem with buying these cute little containers is that you are making an uneducated decision. You think to yourself oh that’s so cute, I know I can use it for something. The problem is that you don’t have a plan for it. You think your CDs might fit well in it, or your DVDs. But when you get home you realize that it is the wrong size or shape to contain those items. Rather than returning the cute container, you keep it because you just know that you’ll use it for something. That never happens. The reason is that these cute little containers aren’t always practical or functional. Also, you have to sort through your belongings so that you realize what you need to contain, and how much of it you have, before you buy the container. My advice to you….don’t buy any more cute containers until you know what it is you need to contain.
If you hold on to the beautiful dish sets your mother collected after she dies, but they are wrapped up in boxes in the basement, are they really there as a memory of her? Wouldn’t it make more sense to save one of the dishes and display it? Or take a picture of the set and then pass them on to someone in need, or sell them?
So many people ask me if my home looks perfect because I am a professional organizer. The answer is a resounding no. Being organized, and functioning efficiently, does not have to look perfect, it just has to work. The bottom line is that you take the time to assign a place for everything to live. That way you know where it goes when it comes in, and you know where to find it when you need it. Eventually it becomes second nature and you don’t have to even give it a thought. Getting organized reduces your stress, increases your productivity and gives you peace of mind to name just a few of the benefits.
Since there was enough stuff in my spice cabinet to really fill two spaces, I separated the spices from the flour, sugar, etc. After raising a couple of the shelves in the cabinet so that the larger spaces were on the bottom two shelves, rather than the top two like it had been before, I began returning items to the cabinet.
After determining your vision, sorting and then tossing your items, it’s time to determine where they should live based on their usage. I had an empty drawer in my kitchen that I hadn’t realized before. I shifted other items in my kitchen around so that the right size drawer was empty. I wanted to put my spices in a drawer so that I could make my vision for the spices a reality.
- I would be able to see the spices easily.
- I would be able to get anything out of the drawer I needed very quickly. And return the item to the drawer just as quickly.
- I could also reach in very quickly and get my Sweet & Low for my tea, rather than having to struggle with getting the box out of the cabinet each time I made a glass of tea.
After establishing my vision for the spice cabinet and sorting the items, it was time to toss or consolidate items.
- Check expiration dates and toss expired items.
- Consolidate duplicate and triplicate items.
- Determine if you still need the items.
Once I figured out what wasn’t working with the spice cabinet, and what my vision was for it, I took everything out of the cabinet. Needless to say, there were many duplicate items and even more triplicates of items than I want to admit. After grouping like items with like items, this is what I found:
- 2 bags of sugar – one 1/2 full, one 1/8 full
- 2 bottles of virgin olive oil – both pretty full
- 3 bottles of vanilla – two full, one missing about 4 tablespoons
- 3 jars of chicken bouillon cubes – two missing about 6 cubes each, one 1/2 full
- 2 lemon peppers – one 1/3 full, one had about a tablespoon
- 2 garlic salts – one 1/2 full, one full
- 2 garlic powder – both about 1/2 full
- 1 bag flour – 1/3 full
- 1 bag brown sugar – 1/4 full
- 1 container coffee
- 1 package coffee filters
- 3 seasoning salts – one full, one 1/2 full, one 1/4 full
- 2 peppers – large one 2/3 full, small one 2/3 full
- 2 salts – one full, one 1/8 full
- 2 paprikas – large one 2/3 full, small one full
- 2 cinammons – large on 1/2 full, small one 1/2 full
- Several other random items
Being organized really is as simple as finding a home for everything, and then setting up systems to maintain it. An important part of getting, and staying organized is to keep your systems simple. Here are some examples of how to keep it simple:
- Too many files will slow you down. Rather than setting up individual files for each bill you pay, set up a file for bills you pay by month.
- Storing paperwork in hanging files is more effective than storing them in a binder. All you have to do is drop them into hanging files. With a binder, you have to hole punch them first and then take the time to place them in the binder. These small additional steps are enough to make you not do it.
- A paper action system without a lid is more likely to be used than one with a lid. Just having to remove the lid to use it is a big enough deterrent that it won’t get used.
I bought my house 3 years ago. There are two trees in the front yard that have been growing very haphazardly the entire time I’ve lived there. They look very messy and unkept. I finally tackled the trees this weekend and trimmed out all of the branches that were growing between other branches, going in the wrong direction or were too low. When I was finished, both trees looked like they had taken on a new life and a new direction. Finally free of the cluttered branches that weren’t serving them, and were actually harming them, they will now be able to grow stronger and more healthy.
That question will be addressed in depth on a new documentary show called Hoarders that debuts tonight on A&E. The show takes you inside the homes and lives of hoarders and discusses their struggles and challenges. The show also focuses on the ways that a Professional Organizer can help in these situations.
If you are a small business owner like me, chances are that you wear many different hats. You are the sales person, the marketing person, the administrative person, the research person and the person that goes out on the job. With so many tasks to manage, it is very important to plan your week, to allow time for you to work in the various roles. It is equally important to come up with systems and procedures of how and when you will execute each task.
There’s no denying it, every school year starts off the same; an overwhelming amount of paperwork is brought into your home from school within the first few days. If you make plans now for how you are going to deal with it, you’ll be amazed at how simple it is.
- Leave your schedule open. Don’t make any plans for the first week. You can count on making a trip to get school supplies you didn’t know they would need. You’ll need time to deal with the paperwork and to discuss school rules, etc with your children.
- Use one central calendar for everything. Take time within the first week to merge the various school schedules onto the central calendar, and then toss or recycle the individual schedules. These schedules might include sports, lunch, days off, picture days, etc.
- Prepare for the paperwork. Gather insurance cards, immunization records and emergency contact information before school begins. This way you’ll be prepared to complete the paperwork when it arrives and get it back to school.
- Designate a place for school papers to land. It’s important to have a central location where all of the paperwork that needs your attention will land each day. Make sure your children are aware of the plan and that they know what they need to do.
One of our favorite organizing products is a 6-quart storage box, otherwise known as a shoe box. We use these so often because they are a perfect solution for many different areas of the home or office. Because they are clear, it is easy to see at a glance what might be in them. They are also very easy to label and stack. Where can you use them?
When you stop to think about how much time you waste (lose) searching for things, and the amount of stress it causes, you will understand the value of taking the time to get things organized. You will gain back the time you spent getting organized in no time, and you will save lots more time and stress on top of that!
Being more productive at home just takes planning. If you take the time to map out your day in advance, you will get so much more accomplished, and you will have more time to spend doing the things you love to do.
People always ask me if my home is in perfect order, well it isn’t always. I do have a home for everything though, and so when it gets chaotic or I need to put everything back where it belongs, it doesn’t take long. You know, I have always been aware of the mental drain that a chaotic home or office environment has on people’s lives, but I recently got a taste of it first-hand.
If you are a small business owner like myself, you probably started your business because you love the work you do. Unfortunately, running a small business requires much more than just doing the thing you love. You have financial records to keep, marketing to create, clerical work, customer service and much more that steals your time.
Being overweight is a daily downer; your clothes don’t fit, you don’t feel good physically or mentally and you have less energy than you would otherwise. Unfortunately, I know this first hand.
I am so excited to have Simplified Living Solutions and my tips included in a back to school article for getting kids out the door on She Knows.Com. Raising two children as a single parent, I saw the benefits first-hand of being organized and having plans in place to simplify everyday activities, reduce the stress and keep things running smoothly.
I hope you are enjoying your summer. With the extreme heat we’ve been having in St Louis, you may find yourself looking for things to do indoors. Our next e-newsletter focuses on clutter pitfalls and the simple strategies you can implement to overcome these common pitfalls. The next e-newsletter goes out tomorrow, so it’s not too late to sign up for it.
I finally made myself block out some time to declutter and organize my closet. It took me about 3 hours start to finish. I was right when I said that I thought at least 80% of the clothes in my closet would end up being donated. I dropped off the clothes that no longer fit me at Mercy Ministries, which is a home for troubled or abused teenage girls. They get to live there completely free while they seek help dealing with their pasts. Not only do I feel great about tackling my closet, I also know that I’ve made a difference in others lives by donating my unwanted things to a charity that needs them. How did you do?
If you don’t believe that you can be taught organizing skills, think again. My oldest daughter (23) was recently preparing for a trip out of town. She began planning (organizing) for the trip about 2 weeks ahead of time by starting a list of things she needed to bring or do before the trip. She had learned these organizing skills by living with me. Some of the skills were taught and some of them she just observed me doing. As a professional organizer, I got such a kick out of her list that I just had to share her outline.
- Things I need to do before I go. This included such things as laundry, buy film, get passport.
- Things I need to pack. This included clothes, jewelry, make-up, etc.
- Things I shouldn’t pack. These were the items that she would be wearing or needed to use the day of her flight. She would pack them after she got ready in the morning.
It’s imperative that whatever organizing system or container you set up is super easy to use or it won’t last. Here are some common mistakes people make:
- Leave room to grow. You buy a container that is the exact size for what you have and you don’t leave room for growth. Within no time, your stuff will be laying next to the container instead of in it.
- Too many files. Don’t make your filing system overly complicated or the filing just won’t get done. Rather than having a folder for each of your 3 cars, just have one folder for all of them together.
- Too far to go. If you recycle and the only place you have designated to hold your recycling is in the garage, chances are that the recycling will pile up in your living space because it’s too far to go to the garage each time you finish a can of soda. Invest in a second kitchen sized trash can to hold the recycling until you can take it all to the garage.
- Landing place. Designate a landing space just inside the door you use for your purse, keys, book bags and mail to land. If you choose another place that is more complicated, chances are things will just get set down wherever. This will add to your stress when you’re in a rush and can’t find these things.
It’s so funny how people that clean houses never take the time to clean their own. People that build websites never take the time to keep their own updated. Well, I’ve been so busy helping others get organized that I’ve let my own space go and it’s driving me crazy. So I am going to tackle them this week, beginning with my closet.
I can still remember a time so vividly, almost like it happened yesterday. When in fact, it’s been closer to 20 years ago (yikes!). I was a recently divorced, single mother of two young girls, 6 months old and 3 years old. I held a very good full time job, but since we were not receiving any type of financial support from their father or my family, and I had to pay ENORMOUS daycare bills, were struggling to put it mildly.
Do you ever have to stop and think where the forks go when you are putting away dishes? Do you ever wonder where you’ll find a fork when you need one? Most likely your answer to these questions is a resounding no.