Archive for the ‘daily routine’ Category

Changing Routines

August 31, 2016

Last week I let you all know that I spent the last month or so preparing to move and then moving. I am going to spend the next couple of weeks talking about what else has to change – other than the physical address. Are you scratching your head wondering what I mean by that?

Let me give you a little personal history. I grew up in New York City. My family moved apartments 3 times before our final move to Connecticut when I was 16. That’s the house my mother lived in until she passed away in 2009 and the house that I think of as my home but I only really lived there for 5 years.

The longest I ever lived in any 1 house is 10 years and that’s the house I just moved out of! I had established really great routines and places to keep all of my belongings. After all, I am a Certified Professional Organizer and I walk the walk. I don’t keep things I don’t use, I do periodically tweak my filing system, and I’m careful about the things that I keep so that I don’t end up keeping too much.

It’s been really hard to change how I tackle some tasks and to realize that I just have to change some of my routines and habits. I’m not planning to change them completely, just alter them to fit better in this new home.

Are you wondering why? Why can’t I just do the same things I did in the other house, follow the same routines – just in a different location?

It’s not always that simple. Some things I can definitely keep the same – others have to change. Where I lived before I could walk my dogs every morning and evening safely in the neighborhood. There are wide sidewalks that are well lit with street lights. Where I live now there are only narrow sidewalks, there are very few street lights and the sidewalks do not follow the entire length of the road. But there is a park only a short 2 minute drive from my new house that has well-lit very wide sidewalks. My dogs and I love it there. We can still have our 30 minute morning walk safely. We just hop in the car and away we go.

Over the next few weeks I’ll tell you about other habits or routines that I’m changing.

My big take-away is that sometimes we are so comfortable in our routines and habits that it’s hard to imagine doing what we want to do in any other way. This move shifted me out of my comfort zone and put me in a place of discovery. Everyday I’m tweaking my routines a little at a time so that I can still do what I want to do – just differently. It’s all good! In fact, it’s even better.

Is there a routine or habit that you want to change or have to change because a shift in your circumstance makes change necessary?

Write me back and let me know!

 

 

Feeling Overwhelmed?

April 27, 2016

It’s not unusual to feel a bit overwhelmed at this time of year. Why? Well, if you have children there are all the end of year school activities. These include awards ceremonies, class parties, prom, graduation ceremonies and parties, athletic competitions and the list goes on. If you don’t have children the groups you belong to may be winding down, finishing up activities.

Then there is the yard. If you live in the South you may be changing out the winter annual plants and replacing them with the spring/summer colorful annuals. If you live in the North you may be guarding the tender perennials that are just starting to grow. In fact, yesterday my sister told me they were expecting snow in Vermont. She was concerned that the plants that were poking their heads out of the ground might be damaged by freezing temperatures!

What to do about this feeling of having so many things to do and a finite amount of time?

First of all, BREATHE!

When I’m feeling this way, overwhelmed, I sometimes forget to take deep breathes. How about you?

Start by getting out your calendar and noting all the due dates.

Then get out a sheet of paper and write down the steps you need to take to bring each event to completion.

Some events may just be a matter of getting there on time. Others may need you to take some actions – like buying or making cookies for a class party or planning a pre-prom parent party!

Once you have broken each of these tasks down into steps get your calendar back out and schedule those steps into your planner. Take into account your regular chores and activities and be sure to allow travel time or set up and clean up time.

I know that this is something I have just done for myself as I was feeling overwhelmed by all the little tasks I have to complete in the next few weeks. I was definitely feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared. Writing everything down and breaking the tasks into their steps helped me. I hope it helps you too.

 

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!

Maintenance is Key!

February 5, 2014

Are you thinking about getting your home really organized? Do you like the thought that once all your belongings have a place to be you will be able to find what you need when you want it? As a professional organizer I think these are beautiful concepts. The caveat here is that once everything is organized you must maintain the system.

Think about this another way. If you have a car you need to make sure it has gas in the tank. Every now and then the car will need to have the oil changed or undergo a routine servicing so that the car continues to run smoothly. The car will also need to be washed so that you can see clearly out the windshield – front and back. If there is trash in the car – like food wrappers, empty water bottles, or soda cans they can be thrown out so the car can be vacuumed. It’s also good to remove the trash so you have room for people and other things, like groceries, that you really want to carry in your car.

Your home is much the same. You can’t expect to organize once and be done. Schedule a few minutes every morning to make sure the bed is made, dirty clothes in the hamper, and the dishes washed and put away or rinsed and put in the dishwasher. Plan these chores into your morning routine so that when you return home from work you don’t have these chores to tackle before you can begin preparing for dinner.

Schedule a few minutes in the evening to sort the mail. Take the time to at least separate out the mail to be recycled or shredded from the mail that needs attention – like bills or invitations.

As you go from room to room in your house if you see a few things out of place put them where they belong. You’ll thank yourself later. A few things are easy to attend to. That will only take you a short time. It’s when things are left out of place that they tend to multiply. Then it will take you much longer to take care of the out of place items. Don’t indulge yourself by saying “I’ll do it later”. In my experience, later never comes.

Plan time into your day everyday to clean and maintain one room of your home. Just as it’s impossible to organize once and be done it’s impossible to clean once and expect your furniture to remain dust free. It doesn’t take long to dust and vacuum a room when it’s done regularly. As you’re cleaning the furniture put aside anything that has lingered in the room and doesn’t belong there. When you’re finished cleaning take the time to put those out of place items where they belong.

Rotate through the rooms in your house taking care of one a day. Doing this regularly means that nothing is actually that dusty or dirty and it won’t take you very long. This way you don’t have to dedicate an entire day to cleaning your house. It’s much more rewarding to spend your day off doing something you want to do – maybe something fun with a friend or family, maybe something indulgent like a spa treatment, maybe some gardening… the possibilities are endless.

If you have a spouse or partner and/or children involve them in the maintenance routine. Teach them to put their belongings away. You can make a game out of it. Put on some good music and let everyone know that now is the time to gather things up if they are out of place and put them away. Let each person have a part in keeping your home clean and tidy. Doing this you accomplish several things. You teach your children how to pick up and put away and you teach them to care for their home in a responsible manner.

Remember the key to having a clean and well organized home is maintenance. Create the system and then work it.

The Holidays are Coming!

October 15, 2013

Have you noticed that advertising and talking about the holidays has started already? In the October issue of Better Homes and Gardens there was a short paragraph about grocery shopping for the holidays. It mentioned that you can save money by buying some non-perishable ingredients in bulk now before the holiday rush begins in earnest.

The cover of the November issue of Real Simple magazine talks about holiday entertaining made easy. Real Simple magazine is referring specifically to Thanksgiving but really you can apply the tips to other holiday gatherings.

I was shopping at a mall in Atlanta over the weekend and saw many holiday displays. One store had Christmas bears for sale another was selling Christmas tree ornaments and even had several decorated trees on display already! I was really flabbergasted! Christmas on display before Halloween.

Does all the advanced warning of the holidays’ arrival put you into panic mode or does it make you want to organize yourself early?

There is something to be said for making your list in preparation for the holidays. When you start preparing in advance you allow plenty of time to get things done without stress and you give yourself time to do things at a reasonable pace rather than rushing through. Another benefit to preparing in advance is that you save money. If you’re buying gifts for family and friends you can save money when you take advantage of seasonal sales. When you wait to the last minute you may indulge in impulse buying – just to get it done.

If we’re talking about Halloween make list of the candy you’ll buy, the costume you’ll rent (if you dress up), and the decorations for your front door (if you decorate). Make a note on your calendar to buy your pumpkin and set aside time to carve it. Thinking about these chores or tasks allows you to mentally prepare to actually follow through and accomplish them.

What about your list for Thanksgiving, Channukah or Christmas? Thanksgiving could be really easy if you’re not hosting a dinner! My recommendation is to think about your plan for each of these holidays

. What is your vision for each of the holidays?
* Will you be hosting an event?
* Do you like to attend certain plays or programs (like the holiday lights at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens)?
* Do you like to decorate your house – inside and out?
* Do you like to give homemade baked goods as gifts?
* Do you want to send out holiday cards?

All these wonderful traditions take time. It’s possible to do them all but take a look at your calendar, factor in your daily routine and then schedule time to dedicate to the traditions that will bring your vision for the holidays to life. Only schedule those things that honestly fit your vision and your schedule. Be sure to allow time to simply relax and enjoy!

Summertime Scheduling

June 5, 2013

Summer ….don’t you just love summer? It’s a great time to relax, kick back and enjoy all the fun things we can do outside with friends and family; walks in the park, going canoeing, tubing sailing, swimming, attending parades and more.

How do you schedule those fun activities and take care of your household chores and garden?

Make your calendar your best friend. Schedule your daily tasks and make a weekly or bi-weekly household chores list so that you regularly hit all the chores you need to do to keep your home organized. Have the chores be a family affair so that you are not the only one taking care of everything. Share the wealth! Rotate the chores so that each person living in the home has a chance to tackle almost every chore. Having said that, if you have small children you will want to make the chores you assign to them age appropriate. The sooner your children learn to help out around the house the better it will be for you and for them. You are teaching them skills they will have for the rest of their lives!

Scheduling and prioritizing your chores will allow you to have some flex time for all the fun summer time activities in which we all like to participate! One of my favorite summer activities is gardening!

I love to be out in my garden. I have a large flower garden and really enjoy the weeding, clipping, and other chores that go hand in hand with having a lovely garden. I schedule a little gardening time into my day everyday that it’s not pouring rain. I do that so that I continue to enjoy the process and so that I don’t become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.

If I did not work in my garden consistently I would have more weeds than flowers. The result would be a garden that is not particularly lovely and it would be a monumental chore to get the garden back in shape. Doing a little bit everyday allows me to keep the weeds to a bare minimum, even if I miss a day here or there it’s O.K.

For more information on scheduling household chores you can download The Sample Weekly Cleaning Routine for a small fee from my website.

Take Time to Save Time

May 21, 2013

Quite often I hear things like this from my clients: I don’t know where to start; I have so much to do, I don’t know what to do first; I sit around and think of all the things I have to take care of and by the time I’ve decided what to do I don’t have time to do it.

Do any of these phrases sound familiar to you? Do you ever find yourself wondering what task to begin first or having so much to do that you spend all of your time trying to remember all those things and doing none of them. Then, perhaps, you feel a little guilty or unhappy with yourself because so much time has gone by and nothing has been accomplished.

I suggest that you take the time to make a list. Taking the time to write everything down (either on paper or electronically) will free your mind of having to remember all the tasks you want to complete. Then you can take a look at your calendar, review your schedule, and decide which tasks you have enough time to either complete or, at least, start.

When should you make this list? That’s up to you. What day and time makes the most sense to you? I make my master list on Sunday afternoons. I take a look at what I’ve accomplished during the preceding week and think about what I’d like to get done this week. Then I write everything down, recognizing that not everything will get done but if it’s on my list, I know I won’t forget! Every evening, after work, I make a short list for the next day. I first review my master list that I made Sunday afternoon, I look at my calendar see what time I have available to use and schedule my tasks accordingly.

I created the daily habit of doing this every evening because then I don’t worry during the night about what I have to do the next day. Taking the time in the evening saves me time in the morning – I know what I’m doing. I’ve already reviewed my tasks and prioritized them. This is not to say that I can always, everyday stick to my list and complete it – I can not. However, because I have this method and it works for me, when other unexpected things have to be taken care of first I am confident that I can juggle my schedule and manage the top priority tasks.

Blinders?

April 3, 2013

Do you wear blinders in your house? So many of my clients admit that they are so bothered by the chaos and clutter in their homes that they intentionally pretend it’s not there. Do they actually wear blinders? They do not. However; the fact remains that they pretend the piles of paper or clothes or empty boxes aren’t there.

This is where I come in. As a Certified Professional Organizer who specializes in Chronic Disorganization I help my clients remove these blinders and devise strategies for clearing the chaos and removing the clutter. 

This means that I work closely with each of my clients to figure out what they want to keep and how they want to be able to find their belongings. We talk about their priorities and make a plan to tackle each area of their home.

 This is not an overnight easy fix. Creating organization out of chaos is time consuming and requires scheduled organizing sessions. I even assign homework! The goal is to teach basic organizing skills and to develop maintenance routines so that  home becomes a place my clients want to be.

Even those who do not have chaos reigning in their home sometimes wear blinders as they travel through their home. Really open your eyes and look to see if there are things out of place. Maybe there is a pair of shoes beside a chair because you kicked your shoes off and curled up in a comfy chair last night while you were watching TV. There’s nothing wrong with that! Just open your eyes, see the shoes, and take them with you to your room as you pass by that chair.

It’s the daily looking around, noticing what’s out of place, and putting it away that keeps the clutter from gathering in your home.

 

Daily Habits

January 30, 2013

I have a several things (chores, actually) that I do everyday. I have done them so often now that taking care of these chores is a habit for me. You can call it a daily habit. Do you have tasks or chores that you’d like to be sure to do everyday? Take a look at the tasks you really want to accomplish on a daily basis. Maybe something like walking your dog or cleaning out the kitty litter? Walking the dog every morning accomplishes two things it gives you and your dog exercise. Cleaning out the kitty litter on a daily basis helps to combat the odor and eliminates the need for you to completely empty and refill the litter box as frequently. When you take care of the laundry frequently it doesn’t pile up and become a monumental or overwhelming task. Even just sorting the laundry regularly helps. You can see from the volume of clothes if you had better set aside some time to do a whites load or a colors load.

Once you decide which chores you want to do daily start by scheduling one task into your day everyday. When that becomes a routine for you – after a week or two – try adding another chore. Continue this process until you have created the habit of doing the tasks you want to do regularly. I’m not suggesting that you create a lengthy list. On the contrary, your list of things to do daily should only take about 30 – 45 minutes to complete (unless laundry is a task…that takes about 90 minutes total).

My daily habits include walking my dog, watering my plants (I grow orchids and check them daily), tidying the bathroom, and laundry. Write me back and let me know what chores you are going to turn into habits.

How Do You Show Gratitude?

November 20, 2012

As Thanksgiving Day approaches I have been thinking about all the many things for which I am thankful. The most obvious are my health, my family, my friends, my home, my hobbies, the community in which I live and the fact that I have a job I love. I appreciate all the blessings in my life but am I outwardly showing my gratitude?

One of the ways I demonstrate how thankful I am is to care for my home and garden. I make sure the inside of my home is organized. The items I treasure are displayed. Other items have homes in cupboards and closets. When I need these items I know where to find them and then when I’m finished they go back to their pre-determined home. My plants are watered. Infact, I go around most mornings with a watering can and admire the flowers or the new leaves that are pushing up. It’s easy to show appreciation and thankfullness for my home and garden because they require daily care, daily maintenance, in order to remain as lovely as they are.

What about my family and friends? Every now and then I promise myself that I will stay in better touch with my family and  friends.I have a large family – 2 brothers and 2 sisters, each of them has a family and we are spread out in the north east. I also have 2 sons and a daughter-in-law. My single son is in California and my married son in New York. I admit that I am in in close touch with my children but not as close with the rest of my extended family. This year I began a little weekly friends and family update e-mail. In the message I filled my family and friends in on things that are happening in my life. That lasted about 6 months or so. I skipped a few weeks and those weeks turned into a few months and before I knew it I had lost touch again. The truth is I treasure my family and friends. I am eternally grateful to have them in my life and appreciate the support they show me. I’m not sure they really know how I feel so because we are all so far apart, geographically, I will revert to showing my gratitude by reaching out in e-mails and phone calls.

I show my gratitude to my clients in the small extras I provide and by saying ‘Thank You!’ I do not take them for granted and am thankful for the trust they place in me by allowing me to provide them with my professional organizing services.

Every morning I watch the ‘Eleven Alive’ morning news broadcast. This station promotes what they call ‘Random Acts of Kindness’. I love hearing about the ways a reporter has helped someone in our community or something someone else has done to help a neighbor. It starts my day with a smile and gets me thinking about my behavior for the day. I believe that being kind in general is a behavior that is underrated. We all benefit from acts of kindness. It can be something as small as holding the door for the person behind you or something big like bringing dinner to your local fire station. These acts of kindness bring happiness not only to the recipient but also to the donor.

There is a man who works at my local grocery store. He and I exchange pleasantries when we see each other. He says ‘Good Morning, how are you?’ My reply is typically ‘fine. how are you?’ His answer never fails to get a smile out of me. He always says ‘I woke up today. It is a good day’. This reminds me that I am grateful for each day, that I should make the most of everyday, be thankful for all the blessings in my life and try to ensure that those I love and appreciate know how I feel.

Happy Thanksgiving!