Archive for the ‘Organizing Strategies’ Category

Do I Already Have It?

April 5, 2017

I read a blog post this morning from Joshua Becker, becoming minimalist, about shopping. He suggested that most of us have more than enough in our homes already. Joshua asks the reader to ask themselves ‘what if I don’t?’.

What will happen if you don’t buy another pair of jeans? Think about how many you already have. How many pairs of jeans are enough? That is another question for another day.

Today my question is: Do I already have it?  Sometimes we overlook things that we already have that can be repurposed to fill a different need.

I was watching the Today Show yesterday morning and a guest gardening expert on the show was talking about spring gardening. As many of you probably know, I’m a gardener. I just love digging in the dirt and creating beautiful gardens so this segment captured my undivided attention. This gardening expert was talking about starting new plants by seed – to save money. Great idea! An even better idea was to take a clear plastic egg container to use as a mini-planter. The small spaces to contain eggs are a perfect size to start each new seed. The lid captures the moisture to keep the little plants watered – it acts as a terrarium. And since it’s clear plastic it will be easy to see the little plants sprout. A new use for something you probably already have. No need to buy small pots in which to start your seeds.

When I had a tree cut down earlier this year I asked the men to save 3 sections of the tree for me. These sections of the tree are now placed strategically on my patio. I’m using one as a table and the other two can be places to sit or as plant stands. A new use for something that I had.

Many times before I go to work with a client they will ask me what should I buy? My response is always, please wait until we work together. I’m not sure yet what you’ll need and we may be able to use something you already have!

If you’re doing some spring cleaning please take a moment to think about these points before you go out to buy organizing supplies.

  1. Take everything out of the cupboard, drawer, closet – whatever space you’re organizing
  2. Sort the items
  3. Remove anything to recycle, donate, or toss
  4. Remove anything that you’re keeping but that doesn’t belong in that space
  5. Now, evaluate the remaining items
  6. Do you need some organizing supplies?
  7. Look around your house
  8. See if you have anything that would work
  9. If you do, great!
  10. If you do not, then make a note of the size container(s) you’ll need and the number before you go shopping.

Feel free to email me any questions you may have regarding an area that you want to organize. I’m happy to offer a few suggestions.

Ask yourself these two questions you begin your projects and you’re thinking of shopping:

  1. What if I don’t? (from Joshua Becker)
  2. Do I already have it? (from Diane Quintana)Thinking woman in glasses looking up at many question marks

     

Happy Spring

March 29, 2017

I’m so happy that Spring is here. I think it’s my favorite season followed closely by summer. I love watching the plants as they start this new season. The trees begin to have this haze around them, letting you know that something (leaves, flowers) is waking up inside their branches.

On my morning walks, I’m noticing all the small new things. Grass is greener, tiny leaves are starting to appear on the bushes and azaleas are painting the landscapes with the beautiful pink, white, and rose colored blossoms. I even saw a baby fox the other morning!

You may have read in one of my blogs from 2016 that I moved in August. Well, I left behind a gorgeous garden. I hope the new family is enjoying all the fabulous plants that are probably starting to emerge about now.

My current house had very little in the backyard in the way of plants. There were so many very large trees crowding out the foundation shrubs that had been planted.  And there was ivy everywhere. I do mean everywhere.

Little by little I have been working to transform this yard into a beautiful garden.  I had some trees removed. (Only the ones that were a danger to my house or that were diseased) This let light in. Some of those foundation shrubs are going to bloom! This is very exciting!!

I also hired a company to fix and enlarge the patio.

 The last step was to plant. This happened last week. I love that there are beautiful plants where there was just dirt during most the fall and the winter. I chose plants with different colored foliage which keep their leaves are year: some are light greens, some have a tinge of red on their leaves, some have green and white striped leaves. This provides a wide variety. Most of these plants have blooms but at different times of the year: some are spring bloomers, some are fall bloomers, and some are winter bloomers. This gives me something to look forward to year-round in the garden.

Yesterday, I sat outside in a lounge chair and just enjoyed the view. My dogs were happy laying on the patio in the sun and I was thrilled with my new backyard. I know I’ll be adding some more plants here and there. I’m already thinking about where to add hybrid tea roses! I  just love to dig in the dirt. I also know I’ll be pruning and weeding. Gardens need lots of maintenance and care. But, since I love gardening it will be an easy task for me to schedule the maintenance.

This was a huge project. If I could have snapped my fingers and magically made all the changes overnight I would have. This required planning, breaking the project down into several distinct parts, and scheduling. It also required patience.

 

backyard 03-2017 (1)

Are you working on a HUGE project? Does it have you operating in overwhelm? Talk to me about it. I’d love to help you break it down into manageable parts.

Hallmarks of an Adult?

November 16, 2016

Together, success is a given

The other morning I was listening to my local news station as I was catching up on my ‘words with friends’ and I was really surprised. I had only been listening half way, concentrating mostly on my strategy in the game I was playing on my phone, when something caught my attention. It was something about millennials taking classes in what the reporter called ‘adulting’. I didn’t know what that meant and still don’t really. The report went on talking about things adults do, for instance; chores around the house, budget their money, pay bills, file papers, and manage their time (although that’s a subject for another day).

The point of the report was that some millennials seem to be so lacking in knowledge in these areas that they feel a need to take classes.

Actually, I do get that because some of my clients are millennials and they haven’t the slightest idea how to go about cleaning their house, organizing their kitchen, putting away their clothes – I could go on but I think you get the idea. These millennials, the ones I work with (and possibly the ones in the news report), have grown up without any sense of what it takes to lead an organized life.

They have successfully completed school and, for the most part, have jobs. They want to live independently – to be adults.

Unfortunately, schools do not teach home/life skills otherwise known as home economics. I never took home economics in school – I think that was phased out even before my generation. So, what happened? Why is it that some of these young adults are not equipped with the basic skills and information that are the hallmarks of being an adult?

I think it’s a combination of things.

Some of these young people did not have the skills modeled for them. Maybe their parents weren’t great at organizing themselves, maybe they outsourced things like bill paying, maybe they didn’t ask the children to help with routine household chores.

Whatever the reason, I’m happy to know they are taking classes to fill in the blanks.

What are the hallmarks of becoming an adult?

For me, it’s taking care of myself and those in my family, taking care of my home (meaning keeping it clean and tidy), being a good friend, doing my job to the best of my ability, paying my bills, and having fun working on my hobbies which are gardening, needlepoint, and dancing.

What does being an adult mean to you?

PS I have written a book which covers all of these subject areas and more. You can learn more about my book on my website: www.dnqsolutions.com

 

 

 

 

Can You Ever Really Be Done?

June 15, 2016

 

Close-up embroidery

I want to continue a discussion about getting to the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list. I talked last week about finishing the tasks on your ‘to-do’ list and a strategy I have been using with great success! The strategy is to assign a group of tasks related to a specific topic to a day.

Now, I’m wondering if any of you reading this have ever felt the way I do on occasion. Sometimes I find myself thinking ‘when I get this, this, and this done then I will have time to relax and take care of something I really WANT to do’.

The truth is that there will always be things to do. That’s what life is all about. Some things are chores, some things are fun, some things are hard and some are easy. But there are always, always things to be done whether or not you chose to put them on a list.

How do you fit in the little (or big) things that you want to do that you (I) keep putting off until I get all these other things done? I have decided to schedule time into my weekly plan for the projects that are near and dear to my heart. For me, it’s needlepoint. I have a beautiful needlepoint canvas that I’ve been slowly working on. Actually, I had been thinking about working on it but had been neglecting it as I was so focused on getting other things done!  I had hope to have it finished by the summer. That’s not happening. I had been letting other things take priority over my needlepoint.

Since I started last week grouping my tasks and getting to the bottom of my daily ‘to-do’ list I’ve been able to plan time into my day – every day – for a little needlepoint. I talking about a ½ hour or so. This small change in my routine has made an incredible difference in my ability to feel more in control of all the things (tasks) on my mind.

Is there a small change that you want to make in your routine that will help you feel more in control? Do you have things that you’ve been putting off until everything else is done?

 

 

 

Going from ‘To-Do’ to Done

June 8, 2016

How long is your ‘to-do’ list? Do you have some things that never seem to leave it? I think you know what I’m talking about. These are the things that you just don’t really want to do so you leave them to the end of the day when you realize that you simply don’t have time to do them. Then you transfer those things to the list for the next day. I wonder if any of you reading this have ever done that? Actually, I’m sure you have but the question is really will you admit to doing it?

I freely admit that I have done this in the past and probably will do so again in the future. But I tried a different technique today. One that I want to share with you. I’m very proud to day that everything on today’s list will be done as soon as I finish this blog.

What did I do differently?

To Do List So Many Things

Over the weekend I looked at my calendar. Then I grouped my ‘to-dos’ by category. I assigned each category a block of time during the week. Today, for instance, I’m taking care of all things related to volunteer committee I’m working on. I made some phone calls, wrote some e-mails, and did some filing all related to this volunteer committee. It feels so wonderful to be completely caught up with those tasks.

Once I had finished that work I went on to respond to a few lingering messages that I knew I could handle in five minutes or less. What a relief! I won’t be transferring any of these things to tomorrow’s list.

I like managing my time this way. Grouping the tasks related to one topic has allowed me to think clearly about this subject alone. I’ve made more progress today than I ever thought possible in a few hours. Things that I had put off are done and I have a good sense of what I will work on next.

If you’re having trouble going from ‘to-do’ to done why don’t you try this method. I learned this from Mike Vardy at the NAPO2016 conference here in Atlanta. He talks about task management rather than time management because in all honesty we can never take control of time. Time will always march on. We can control the tasks we do in the amount of time we have.

Will you give this a try? Let me know!

 

 

 

Organizing Conference #NAPO2016

May 25, 2016

I just had the great good fortune to attend two days of the #NAPO2016 Conference in Atlanta. It was my original intention to attend the entire conference but my two sons and daughter-in-law decided that it would be good to visit me. I LOVE it when they visit as they do not live anywhere nearby but I freely admit that I was hoping they would not choose to visit when I was in the middle of attending this great conference. However, the three of them arrived on Friday evening and I was home to greet them. In my world, family trumps everything.

This blog post is not about my family but about the wonderful time I had at the NAPO 2016 conference in Atlanta.

The sessions I attended were fantastic! I am so happy to belong to an organization which brings in great quality speakers to further the education of their members. I will write more about the sessions next week.

For the first time this year I had a table at the Expo with two other organizer colleagues: Jonda Beattie and Judith Kolberg. We were selling our organizing books. It was a blast as many organizers stopped by our table to chat, see what was new, and buy our books. We, Jonda and I, had two new books available for sale. They are two children’s organizing books. They teach children how to go about the task of breaking down a seemingly overwhelming project (picking up a very messy room) into small manageable components. They are titled: Suzie’s Messy Room and Benji’s Messy Room. It was exciting for us to have our organizing colleagues see our new books, like the illustrations and the content, and buy them. We are working with one organizer who wants to buy the books in bulk and then provide them to participants in her workshop. Please feel free to contact me if you have a similar idea.

The other great thing that happened this year at conference – actually it happens every year – is connecting in person with organizers that I usually just communicate with online. We are a community. We speak the same organizer language and totally support one another in our efforts to give our clients the best organizing services. That means that we refer out to one another when necessary. It is an extraordinary experience to be among such a wonderful like-minded group of talented colleagues.

Admittedly, going to conference is an expensive experience. You have the cost of travel, hotel, buying from the vendors, some meals, and entertainment. I’ve found that putting money aside each month in an account earmarked for conference is the best way to afford the investment in my education as an organizer.

If you have a professional conference that you’d like to attend try my strategy of a savings account specifically for that event. I’d love to hear your thoughts on conferences. Do you attend them? Do you find them worthwhile?

 

Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timely  - SMART Concept

Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timely – SMART Concept. Conceptual image with yellow paint line on the road over asphalt stone background.

 

Organizing Your Pantry

April 6, 2016

pantry

Last week I talked about the benefits and drawbacks of buying groceries and household supplies in bulk. This week I want to talk about the pantry. What happens in your house when you bring the groceries home? Do you have specific places – shelves or cupboards – for specific sorts of non-perishable groceries?

Sometimes putting away groceries is a free for all. Things are just randomly put away. This makes it very difficult to know what you have and where it is. When things are just randomly put away it’s hard to just glance over to a shelf or into a cupboard to find the particular item you’re looking to find.

So, what can you do to have an organized pantry?

Recognize that this is a choice. You have to decide that you want to know what is in your pantry. There are some good reasons for making this choice and for cultivating the habit of keeping your pantry organized.

When your pantry is organized you know what you have and you will not wonder what is lurking in the back of your shelves so you will save money by not buying duplicates.

An added benefit is that when you plan your meals it will be easy to spot what ingredients you already have – saving you time. You won’t have to hunt through the shelves to figure out whether or not you have the necessary ingredients. You’ll simply be able to look in the spot where the required ingredients are kept.

Here are some simple steps to take to create an organized pantry.

  1. Empty all your shelves
  2. Toss expired foods
  3. Donate out food (that is not expired that you know you won’t eat)
  4. Sort like with like:
    1. Cans together
    2. Baking supplies together
    3. Condiments – oils and vinegars
    4. Snack food
    5. Cereal & breakfast foods
    6. Nuts
    7. Grains
    8. Pasta
    9. Anything else you can think of
  5. Look at your shelves
  6. Decide what you want to have within easy reach & what can go out of the way
  7. Decide if you want containers (you may want to empty bags of sugar, flour, rice, pasta into airtight containers to keep them fresh)
  8. Wipe down the shelves
  9. Label the shelves – even sections of a shelf – so that everyone in the home will know where to put each category
  10. Put everything away

 

I hope this helps you keep your pantry organized

Now What? How Much Is Enough?

June 18, 2015

I’d like to start a conversation about what enough means to you. How do you know when there is enough of something?

Well, sometimes the container defines enough. Take a glass, for instance. When you go to fill it with water you know you have poured enough water as the level of the water reaches the rim of the glass. If you get all the way to the very tippy top of the glass you know you won’t be able to lift the glass to drink out of it. It’s too full, there’s too much water.

A bowl, a plate, a pot are all similar in that the size of the container defines how much you can put inside.
These are easy concepts, right? But what about our closets and clothes?

I’d like you to think of your closet as a container – a defined space. Only so much will fit inside. Intellectually we all know this to be true. Yet we cram as much as we possibly can inside. So much that the hangers don’t always fit in well and the clothes become bunched up. Sometimes there are so many clothes to put away and no room for them that they find homes on the floor, on the back of chairs, doors, and in doorways. How do we figure out how many clothes are enough?

I have a few strategies for you to use to keep your clothes collection manageable.

First, let’s talk about your clothes. Are you keeping some because they hold marvelous memories of a great time you had while wearing them? Would you ever consider wearing them again? If so, great – keep them. If not, then take a picture of the clothes, remove them from your closet, and put them aside to donate. Someone else can benefit from them.

Next, are there any clothes hiding in the back of your closet. Perhaps you aren’t wearing them because they are either too big or too small. Maybe you’re thinking that one day you’ll be that size again. Well, maybe you’re right. You may be that size again one day but when that day comes these clothes will probably not be in style. Please remove those clothes from your closet and put them aside for donation.

Now, take a hard look at your clothes. How many pairs of black slacks do you need? I suspect you want to have different kinds of black slacks – dressy, work, and knock around. How many of each kind do you need? How many can you wear at one time?

Sometimes it’s necessary to have a pair to wear, a pair in the wash, and a pair ready for the next day. So, that makes three. This holds true for many articles of clothing that you need on a regular basis.

Think about this and decide how much is enough for you.

Now that you’ve removed the extra items from your closet you have room to get your hanging clothes organized!

I’ll give you some great closet organizing strategies next week. In the meantime, take an inventory of the clothes you’ve removed from your closet, take a picture of the pile and attach it to the inventory, then take your donation to your favorite charity. Be sure to attach the donation receipt to your inventory!

Reward yourself for a job well done!

Now What? Another NAPO 2015 update

May 13, 2015

Last week I told you about HomeZada – a wonderful computer program to help you with everything to do with your house and home. This week I’m reviewing the Purse Perfector. This is not a new invention but the company has been tweaking their design and this year I decided to really investigate it. This is the perfect tool to help organize your bottomless tote bag. You know the one you carry to the beach. The tote bag holds everything: your book, hat, sunscreen, water bottle and all the other various and sundry items we women carry in our bags. I don’t know about you but I always end up holding things in my bag for other members of my family too! Usually I am asked to please hang onto hats, sunglasses, other family member’s books or magazines so my tote bag is necessarily very big.

How do I find MY things amidst all these other belongings? Well, that’s where the Purse Perfector comes in very handy. It has pockets, sections, and slots to hold all my necessary items. It comes in two sizes: medium and large. It’s on sale right now in honor of Mother’s Day. Here is a picture from the website:

Large-Silver-Sage

I put my driver’s license, health insurance card and a credit card in the slots in the very front. My lip gloss goes in the little holder and right next to that I put gum or breath mints. I have room for a kindle or e-reader or small notebook in the center section. Behind that I put my reading glasses and sunglasses. Then I stash my keys in the section next to my glasses. This is how I keep my things all together and organized – even when they are at the bottom of a large tote bag!

The Purse Perfector comes in a variety of colors and you can use it in all sorts of different ways. It even zips apart if you want to use it in a small handbag. Check out their website for more information! http://www.purseperfector.com

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!