Now What? Musings from the NAPO 2015 Conference

May 5, 2015

I’ve been home now a couple of weeks from the NAPO 2015 conference in Los Angeles. Can you imagine staying in a hotel with (I’m not sure exactly how many) about 600 or so professional organizers? It was a very large hotel and conference center. I get lost easily and so was thankful that the conference organizers had lots of signs directing us to various and sundry classrooms.

For us organizers (those new to the profession and those of us who are more experienced) it was a magnificent few days. It offered us time to connect with friends we really only talk to face to face once or twice a year as well as time to take classes. I made lots of new connections, took terrific classes, and visited with vendors in our expo hall to learn about the latest and greatest organizing products.

My head is still spinning from all the new information I acquired. I plan to take my time deciding how to incorporate this information. A few classes I took were focused on running a business. Even though I’ve been in business now for ten years (WOW!) the elements I took away from those classes will help me to run my business better and to better serve my clients. I’m excited about that.

My plan is to review with you some of the things I learned at NAPO 2015 that I plan to share with my clients. Maybe these are things you would like to implement also.

The first is a program you can download. I plan to use it myself. It’s called HomeZada. As I said this is a program you download but it is cloud based. So, it’s accessible from anywhere, anytime. This is important because the HomeZada program provides you with tools to create a fantastic home inventory. If anything should happen to your home because this is cloud based and you can access it from anywhere anytime you would still be able to provide the insurance company with an accurate record of the contents of your home. How fantastic is that! Also, a home inventory comes in very handy if you’re planning to move.

HomeZada also has a way to keep track of routine household maintenance schedules and renovations. You know that it’s important to have great records of any and all home improvements. With HomeZada you have a tool to record what you did, how much it cost, and when the renovation or repair happened. All very important details. The program does other things too but these are the functions that impressed me most.

I can’t wait to start creating my own home inventory. How about you? Are you interested? Does the thought of having a home inventory, maintenance records, home improvements, user manuals all in one place – thus easy to find and access – thrill you? Check out HomeZada at: http://www.homezada.com and let me know what you think!

Do Your Best

March 17, 2015

There are a few organizer sayings that I often hear and even more often repeat to my clients. One of them goes like this… It doesn’t have to be perfect, just make it good enough! The message behind this statement is fairly clear but in the interest of complete transparency let me explain it further.

When you begin a project you have a vision in your mind’s eye – a picture of how you want the project to look once completed. This vision is probably close to perfection, if not perfection. However, it’s not always possible to achieve that level of perfection. So, if you finish the project and you’ve done your best, be happy with good enough.

How do you know if it’s good enough? Well, you can ask some questions – and answer them.

Does the completed project solve the problem?

Will you be able to maintain the organization?

Does it make you happy?

Does it look the way you’d like it to (even if it doesn’t match the picture in your mind’s eye)?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions then it’s definitely good enough!

I always work towards doing my best. I firmly believe that is all anyone can ask of another. So, if you consistently put out lots of effort and do your best, be happy with good enough!

Do You Have Time?

February 25, 2015

Do you wonder how some people seem to have more time in their day? You know, these are the people who accomplish many of their tasks during the day. They plow through their ‘to-do’ lists and still have time to exercise or relax over lunch with a friend.

Other people struggle to get even two items crossed off their ‘to-do’ list. Why is this? We all have the same number of hours in each day to use so why is it that some people accomplish more in the same amount of time?

I think we’re all so busy – our days are jam packed full – that we forget to stop and ask ourselves is this the best use of my time right now. When you ask yourself that question you might be surprised at the answer you give yourself.

Perhaps, instead of spending your time running a quick errand now you can combine that errand later in the day with picking the children up from school. Then, you’ll have time now to work on the project at home that you’d like to complete by the end of the month.

Maybe, you’re hosting the book club at your house later this week. What do you need to do to get ready for this event? Take a few minutes to write down all the small steps to take to make your home ready to welcome your friends. Then, schedule in your calendar to take care of these small steps. You’ll be much more relaxed and ready to talk about the book if you take the time to prepare yourself in advance.

Doing small tasks because you think you should be doing something is not always the best use of time. Take time to think about the things that matter most to you. What is really important to accomplish? Write it down. What are the small tasks that you can do – a little here and there? Write them down. Now get out your calendar and plan your time accordingly.

Before you know it you’ll be one of those people who get all the ‘to-dos’ on their ‘to-do’ list done!

For more tips on managing your time check out my book: Now What? A Simple Organizing Guide

Proud Navy Mom

February 4, 2015

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A little more than a year ago my son told me that he wanted to enlist in the Navy. I told him that would be terrific. He had just turned 28 years old and was looking at this opportunity with the Navy as a career choice. He also told me that he had some work to do before he would be considered.

Of course, I was curious.. what kind of work did he need to do? To be accepted he needed to meet the weight requirements for his height. I knew that would be tough. My son was in great shape and had been working out so had built lots of big bulky muscles. He had to do more than change his diet he had to change his workout strategy so that he would stay strong and fit but loose muscle mass. That’s a huge challenge. He enlisted the help of a trainer at a local gym. Together they made a detailed plan.

In addition to that he told me he wanted to study hard so that he would do well on the placement test. He figured out what he needed to study, looked at his calendar and plotted the different subjects into the months. He also scheduled review sessions so the material would be fresh in his mind. He also needed to move home – to do that he had to clean out his house and list it for sale. These were very big long-term projects but he was determined. He broke these projects down into small, manageable steps. He set achievable bench marks and rewarded himself along the way. He made lists and stuck to his plan.

He moved home in late September and started boot camp with the Navy in early December. All the while he studied for those tests, continued to follow his diet plan and worked out.

This past weekend I had the honor and privilege of attending his graduation. He is now a sailor! This just goes to show that hard work, dedication to a dream, determination, and planning pay off. I am a proud Navy mom!

Daily Routines?

January 27, 2015

Do you have routines that you follow day in and day out? Did you know that having a routine can save you time?

Routines save you time because the tasks that  make up the routine are simple and easy to complete in one or two steps. When you do these simple short tasks one followed by the other chores get done quickly!

What sorts of tasks do you think I’m talking about?

Which tasks will help you start your day?

My daily routines involve tasks that help me feel settled as I head out the door.

I make the bed, walk my dogs (by the way, walking the dogs first thing in the morning allows me peaceful time to think about the direction of my day and I get exercise – a double benefit!), get some breakfast and then check my indoor plants to see if they need water.

My evening routine involves making a to-do list for the next day. I tidy my desk and evaluate where I am in the work that I’m doing, think about my appointments for the next day, and gather all the items I need to take with me.

These routines don’t take long – maybe 15 minutes in the evening and about an hour in the morning. This is because my dogs and I usually walk for about 30 minutes. I have more information about daily routines in my book: Now What? A Simple Organizing Guide.

What daily routines can you create for yourself to make your days run more smoothly? Write me back, I’d love to know!

Think Replacement…

January 21, 2015

I often get asked how to organize a closet. Something to remember is that we generally wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the tIme! You know which clothes are your favorites. Since this is true, why are closets so full to over-flowing? My suspicion is that garments are not replaced. By that I mean when shopping for yourself, are you replacing something that is worn or that is either too big or too small or are you shopping because you’d like a new outfit?

If you have children, this is something you do already – I hope. First, you sort through their clothes. As you sort, you determine which clothes are too small and which ones are so well worn that they must be either cut up into rags or tossed. The too small clothes are put into bags or boxes to hand down to a younger child or relative or to donate. Then you go shopping to replace those clothes. If you don’t have children I bet this is something that your mother did for you as a child!

So, if your closet is over-full ask yourself when you go to buy clothes what are you replacing?

As a professional organizer I recommend you remove 2 items for every item you bring in. This adds space to your closet. You’ll be able to see what you have and find what you’re looking for!

Here are some other closet organizing tips:

1. Group your clothes according to type and color. Put short sleeved shirts together, long-sleeved shirts together, slacks, skirts, jackets, and dresses together. Then sort by color within the grouping.

2. Take a hard look at what you have. How many pairs of black pants do you have? How many do you need? How many can you wear at one time?

3. If you have ever put something on, looked in the mirror, and then said to yourself, “this doesn’t look right…”. You take off that garment and then put it back in your closet, right? I suggest that you take off that garment and give it away. If it doesn’t feel right or look right today it will never look right!

4. Keep a donation bag in your closet for those clothes and for any clothes or shoes that you haven’t worn in awhile.

5. Turn the hangers backwards. As you wear an item turn that hanger around. At the end of 6 months revisit your closet and take a look at the hangers that remain backwards. Consider giving those clothes away. The exception to this rule is the clothes that are special event clothes.

If organizing your closet is on your list to do, follow these tips and remember to think replacement!

Let’s Get Started

January 13, 2015

I don’t know about you but many times I start a project with a picture of what the end will look like to me. I also typically will have an end time in mind. Is this true for you, too? When you think about beginning a project do you have a vision of the finished project in your mind’s eye along with a completed by date?

What happens next? Well, for me, I break the project down into small steps. I like to write each step on a separate line. If I do it on the computer I print it when I’m finished (I could also use a pencil and a piece of paper). Then I get out my calendar and starting backwards I enter each small step into my calendar. Essentially, scheduling appointments with myself. This way I can ensure that all the steps I need to take to complete the project will be done because I have allocated the time each week to moving forward with this project.

What if the project is so big that it is overwhelming? Perhaps you don’t have an end in sight. Maybe the very thought of working on this project makes your head ache!

What do you think would happen if you just started to work on this overwhelming project? Just pick a place and start. Decide how long you want to work on it. Once you’ve figured out how much time you want to spend on the project today set your timer. Just dive in to that one spot where you decided to start. Take a box or a bag with you so that anything that doesn’t belong in that space has a place to go (into the box or bag). When the timer goes off spend a few more minutes going through the contents of the box or bag. Recycle or toss anything that needs to be recycled or thrown out. Have a box or bag ready for any items that you want to donate – put that in your car. Finally, put away any remaining items.

Try to spend a few minutes everyday or every few days working on this overwhelming project. Before you know it the project won’t be so overwhelming. So let’s get started. Write me back and tell me about a project or space in your home that is overwhelming you.

Resolutions

December 30, 2014

Do you make a New Year’s Resolution? I used to. It generally involved promising myself to exercise more and eat healthier meals – snack less.

I just read a post on Facebook from a life coach about her top 10 New Year’s resolutions. I loved reading them because they were all about doing small things for yourself. They were something like: rest more, let myself off the hook, schedule fun everyday…. these are wonderful to remember and not to hard to keep.

The resolutions that I used to make – promises to myself – were never kept. Well, maybe they were for about a month and then I forgot all about them. This New Year’s Eve I suggest that we follow this life coach’s example and write down a few (not more than 10) things that are easy to complete almost daily or at least weekly. Then post these resolutions somewhere you’ll see them daily. This way they will stay in your mind and hopefully on your calendar. Remember if you don’t schedule the time for yourself it probably won’t happen.

Another activity to engage in over the next few days is to write down your accomplishments from 2014. What are the projects that you completed – write them down. Did you take any trips, go to any conferences, have any adventures? Write them down and celebrate these marvelous accomplishments. I think it’s awesome to plan your next goals but I also think it’s great to remember and celebrate that which has already been tackled and successfully completed!

Here’s to remembering what was in 2014 and looking forward to what will be in 2015!

Happy New Year!

Celebrate!

December 16, 2014

I know it’s the holiday season and parties are being planned and happening. How much fun! I believe (I know you’ve heard this before) that everyday can be a celebration.

There’s a young man who works at my local grocery store. When someone says “Hello, How are you?” to him he always replies “I woke up today. It is a good day.” I love this attitude.

Celebrate everyday. We tend to celebrate our large successes but what about the everyday small steps that we take toward completion of that large project? Get in the habit of celebrating those, too.

Celebrate when you do something that’s been hard for you to do a little more easily. For instance, if it’s hard for you to donate clothes that are too small, that you’re hoping to get back into, but in reality you probably won’t want them – even if they do fit you again and you successfully put together a donation bag of these clothes, CELEBRATE!

Celebrate when you get to an appointment on time or a little bit early – particularly if managing your time is a struggle for you.

I think you get the idea. Celebrate life as you’re living it. Of course, we want to get together and celebrate holidays. That’s extra special. Think about celebrating as you go along. I think it will make you pay closer attention to the things you actually accomplish in a day instead of the things you haven’t done.

Shopping for Gifts

December 3, 2014

This is the time of year when most of us are looking for gifts for our family and friends. I want to offer you some tried and true tips for staying on task and getting your shopping and wrapping done without too much fuss and bother.

First of all, make a complete list of the people to whom you are giving gifts.

Next, think about the sorts of things that each person likes. Do you want to buy a gift to wrap or would this person like to join you for an afternoon at a spa or a trip to the movies followed by dinner? I love to give gifts that involve sharing time with those I care about. That’s something that works for me but that might not work for you. Particularly if the recipient doesn’t live nearby.

Schedule time to shop and go with a specific person or several people in mind. Try not to shop for everyone at once!

Then, as you buy your gifts or gift certificates take them home and wrap them. This way they are wrapped, tagged and ready to go. You can mail them off when the time is right or deliver them in person whenever at the appropriate time.

I hope these little tips will help you in your quest to doing your holiday shopping!


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