Posts Tagged ‘organize’

Moving Again?!

August 24, 2016

Yes, I took some time off writing this blog because I was preparing to move again. I did what I tell all my clients to do. I took a long hard look at my things. I emptied out cupboards and only packed that which I really wanted to take with me. I donated some things, sold some things and put some things out for the trash. And I scheduled 3 appointments with a professional organizer. Yes. Even professional organizers need some guidance and encouragement when tackling difficult tasks!

Then the move happened. I didn’t go far – only about 8 miles or so from where I had been living but it seems light years away. More about that in a moment.

It doesn’t matter how organized or prepared you are – moving is stressful. There is a chaotic feeling about the day of the move. I knew this would happen so I took my dogs, Miles and Josie, to be boarded for a week. I didn’t want them to get even more upset watching the process of dismantling their house. Also, with all the doors open there was a chance that they may get lost!

The truck made its way to my new home. Everything was unloaded. Furniture was placed. And then the boxes. OH, BOY were there ever boxes!

I gave myself a week to unpack, put things away, and hang pictures. That was a very tall order. I did get all the boxes unpacked and everything put away. I am pondering the placement of a few pictures but most of them are hung and look great!

Miles and Josie came home to a house that was full of familiar smells, familiar pieces of furniture in unfamiliar places. They have adjusted well and so have I.

I’m resuming a normal work schedule and feel really settled. I am attending to some volunteer tasks that I had let slide while I was preparing to move.

Yes. I still have things I want to do. I want to tweak the shelving in a few places. I want to paint the rooms. I have HUGE ideas for my garden. These things can wait. I will get to them one project at a time.

The most important thing I want to share with you is that while moving is undeniably stressful there are things you can do to speed up the transition from one home to another.

1.      Be mindful of your decisions of what to take with you when you move

2.      Only bring things you Love, Need, Use

3.      Unpack and put away as quickly as you can

4.      Unpack your bedroom first so you can get a good night’s sleep

5.      Pace yourself

6.      Recycle the packing paper quickly

7.      Cut down and flatten the boxes (my moving company reuses the boxes and came to collect them)

8.      Board your pets – moving is stressful for them too!

I’m so happy to be in my new home! I hope if you move some of these suggestions will help you in your transition to your new home!

Workers Putting Furniture And Boxes In Truck

 

 

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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.

 

Paper Filing

February 17, 2016

Last week I talked about setting up Action Files. These are the files which hold papers with which you will do something. You might file them, read them, respond to them, keep them available for easy reference. Whatever you do with these papers once you take action they leave the Action File holder and go …

That’s just it. Where do they go? Which papers do you keep? Those which you know you are over and done with get rid of right away otherwise they will just add to the pile and you will need to look at them once again. Only to find out that you didn’t need to bother. Will you need to look at them again (reference them)? Are they papers to keep but not to refer to? Will they help you with your taxes? How will you find them, if you need the information?

These are all questions I am asked by my clients.

If you are technologically inclined many papers can be scanned and saved in secure password protected folders in the clouds. These folders will still need to be organized and labeled appropriately so that you don’t waste time searching endless saved files. This will enable you to have access to this information from any computer provided you have the password!

Now, back to the papers.

I often get asked how to organize the files. My advice is to organize them in a way that makes sense to you. Some people like to file alphabetically, some by category, and some like to mix it up. There is no right way to file your papers. The important concept is that you are able to find what you’re looking for when you need it.

Organizing supplies to have on hand:

Manila folders, hanging files, a marker, and plastic tabs and/or a scanner

Label the Hanging file and the manila folder so that you will know exactly where to return the manila folder when you remove it from the file drawer.

Here are some basic categories:

  1. Let’s start with personal papers. I call these Vital Documents. These are papers which serve to prove your identity. You keep them forever. I advise keeping a copy at home in your file cabinet and the original in the bank. For the technologically inclined – scan these documents and keep them together in a folder in the cloud. Label them with something that will prompt you to remember the type documents the folder contains. Keep the original in a safe deposit box at the bank.

Here’s a short list, you may think of others:

Birth Certificate, Passport, Baptismal records, Marriage license, Divorce decree, Citizenship papers, Military records, Social Security numbers

2. Finances:

Keep the year end financial statements for 7 – 10 years in an archival box  (or scanned to the cloud)

    1. Keep the current year in an easy to reference file in your file drawer. You may have more than one file depending on how many accounts you have. Be sure to include any investment accounts, checking and savings, credit card information, any loan information, and retirement accounts. You might file these by category and then alphabetize the folders within the category. Just a thought!

3. Insurance:

    1. Sometimes the insurance is bundled. You may have one policy which covers a multitude of things. Be sure to keep the original policy and then add the updated rider when it comes in each year. Remember to remove and shred the past year’s rider so the file doesn’t contain stale information.

4. House:

  • List any service providers – name and contact informationAlso keep receipts for any expensive furniture or appliances or machinery – like a new HVAC unit.

 

Keep receipts for home improvements and repairs (make a copy of this for your tax file – some may be tax deductible)

  1. Keep an inventory of all your household furnishings and belongings here. (more about this next week)

5. Taxes:

  1. Keep tax returns forever in an archival box. Keep the supporting documents in an archival box for 7 – 10 years.
  2. Keep a folder in an easy to access file drawer labeled with the current year. Put any tax related information into it as it comes into your house. This way when it comes time to doing your taxes you have only to look in the one place.

 

This is just a few categories of files. You will probably have more as you continue sorting through your papers. If, when you were sorting, you created a pending or marinating file please remember to go back and take another look at those papers. As time has passed you may have figured out what your next step with those papers should be.

Let me know how your paper sorting is going and if this was helpful. I hope it was!

 

 

Now What? Are you Prepared for Disaster?

September 2, 2015
Natural disasters design concept set with hurricane and flood sketch isolated vector illustration

Natural disasters design concept set with hurricane and flood sketch isolated vector illustration

September is National Disaster Preparedness month. We often talk about being prepared. In fact, our children have fire drills at school. There are so many things we can do to help ourselves and our families be prepared if and when a disaster should strike. But, how many of us actually follow through and create plans which we then share with the other members of our family?

Let’s think about some possible scenarios and then look at the things anyone can do to be more prepared.

Sometimes we have warnings that a natural disaster could hit our area. Think about fire warnings, hurricane and flood warnings. However; there is often very little time between the time a tornado warning is issued and the tornado strikes. So, what should we do?

We can stock our homes with some basic survival supplies like flashlights, a battery operated radio and batteries for the flashlight as well as the radio, canned goods (keep in mind that canned goods do have an expiration date – so use them before they expire and then replace them!) bottled water, granola bars, extra blankets, hand sanitizer. You can make a list that is appropriate for your family and area of the country. Please don’t forget current medications! Have a place in your home where you keep these items and can easily put them together should the need arise.

Have an evacuation plan and practice it. Teach your children what to do, how they can get out of the house if there should be a house fire or flood.

Which room is the best room or area of the house to stay in if a hurricane or tornado is predicted? Is there enough room for everyone or do you need to find a couple of safe places?

If you’re looking for a good book with excellent suggestions and strategies of how to prepare for a disaster check out Judith Kolberg’s book: Organize for Disaster

Another way to prepare ourselves is to have a complete home inventory. Why do you want this? Well, if your home is damaged or destroyed as a result of one of these natural disasters you will need proof of what the house contained. You will also need access to account numbers and insurance policy information.

The best way to keep this information is in the cloud. That way you can access the information from any computer at any time. The program I highly recommend is HomeZada (www.homezada.com). This program allows you store your inventory complete with pictures and other useful information that will help you with the upkeep and maintenance of your home. Check it out!

I hope you find these tips useful and will implement some of them!

Now What? Too Many School Supplies

July 29, 2015

Can you ever have too many school supplies? I think you can. When your child begins his school career in nursery or preschool you are given a list of supplies to get for your child. Some school supplies are taken to the school for the teacher to have in her classroom. Other supplies are important, or necessary, to have at home so that your child can complete his homework without you dashing off to the store to get markers, crayons, colored pencils, notecards, poster board, tape, the list goes on and on. When you do this year after year without culling the past year’s supply your in home supply multiplies dramatically.

Before you run out to get the necessary supplies this year take some time to go through the ones you have. You may be able to shop from your own store at home to supply your child with most of what he needs for the coming school year. You may also be able to give some of your supplies to a friend or a local charity if your child has aged out of some of the supplies you have around your house.

As your child gets older some items on your school supply list get dropped off. It may no longer be necessary to keep a stash of crayons or markers at home. What about all those binders and subject dividers or half used notebooks? What do you do with them?

Consider going through the supplies and determining what is really usable. This is something you may consider having your child help you with before school starts up again.

Get out the crayons. Put the broken ones in a pile or perhaps a large plastic bag. You may be able to use those in a rainy day craft project. Put the whole crayons – the ones that are still nice – in another large plastic bag or a basket to keep. If at the end of the school year your child has not used the crayons – either the broken ones or the whole ones consider tossing the broken ones and donating the whole crayons.

Next get out the markers and some paper. Test all the markers. Put the ones that still work in a basket or a plastic bag and toss the ones that don’t work. Also, toss the ones that don’t have a cap!

Move on to the colored pencils. Sort them into usable and not usable piles. Keep the ones that can still be used and toss the remainder.

Do you have piles of colored craft paper? Go through those piles and recycle the bits of paper that are not large enough to be used for much of anything. Then sort the paper according to color and keep it in a container or on a shelf near where your child does homework or craft projects.

What about those binders and half-used notebooks? First try cleaning up the binders. If they clean up nicely then have your child use them again. Are they completely falling apart? If they’re falling apart or don’t clean up well – toss them. As for the half- used notebooks either use them for grocery or ‘to-do’ lists, recycle, or donate them.

As you begin to think about school starting think also about gathering all these school supplies from around your home first. Go through them with your child. Determine what can be used this school year and then go to the store to purchase the rest!

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!

Planning

May 27, 2014

Do you have a plan for the day? Do you have a general idea of what you’re going to do or what you want to accomplish today? I’m sure you have places you have to be – perhaps work or appointments – that are accompanied by a specific time. That takes up part of your day. What about the rest of your day? Do you have friends you want to call or meet up with? Do you have errands you want to do? Perhaps you have a project like reorganizing a room on your mind. How or when will you get started? How will you get the other things that are swirling around in your mind done?

Planning is the key to getting things accomplished. Think about it. You schedule a dentist appointment, doctor’s visit, a haircut and the list goes on. You set aside time to take care of these appointments. So, how about setting aside time to get things done at home?

Recently, I was working with someone to reorganize their laundry room. I knew this was going to be a large (lengthy) project so rather than try to accomplish it in one day which would have been overwhelming we set aside time each day during the course of a week. We broke the project down into small manageable steps. You never know exactly how long each step will take and, in fact, one of the steps in this laundry room project took a little longer than anticipated.

Our first step, which should be the first step in every reorganization of a space, was to remove everything from this laundry room – other than the washer and drier, which we left in place. Then we sorted the items we had removed. Once we knew what was going to return to this room we were able to talk about how to organize these things. It’s important to creatively use the space you have. We decided that installing shelves about the washer with an additional shelf and clothes hanging bar above the drier would allow us to put everything away neatly.

We planned time to shop at The Container Store for the elfa shelving system and then we planned time to install the shelves and put everything away. The laundry room reorganization was a huge success! All the items are put away. The room looks great!

Do you have something in mind that you want to tackle this summer? Take a little time and write down all the ideas you have swirling around in your mind. Make a prioritized list of these ideas and decide which one you want to tackle first. Then make a plan. Schedule the time to implement your plan. Remember it may require that you spread this out over several days or maybe even several  weeks. If you plan it, it can happen!

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.

Getting Organized?

December 31, 2013

It’s almost the New Year and time to begin again. Is one of your resolutions to finally get organized? If it is, you’re not alone. Many people say they want to get organized. January is National Get Organized month – a perfect time to start.

How should you begin? The first thing many people do is go shopping for organizing supplies. Now, if you’re organizing a filing system I would say ‘great’! Go ahead and get manila files, hanging folders, a shredder and perhaps extra tabs for the hanging files and a few sharpie pens. You absolutely need those supplies when organizing a paper filing system.

If you’re organizing a closet you might go ahead and get some hangers. However, until you know how many sweaters, t-shirts, or shoes you are keeping (when you begin organizing one of the steps you’ll take is to sort through your belongings to determine if any of those items will be leaving your house to be donated, recycled, trashed, or consigned) you should not buy containers!

Let me say that again… Do NOT buy containers, baskets or bins until you know what you are putting in said containers. Are you thinking, why not? You save yourself time when you wait until you’ve completed the sorting process to buy organizing containers. When you buy them ahead of time you don’t know how many of which size, shape or style container you need. When you sort first you know where you will put the containers and approximately what the containers will hold. When you buy containers before sorting you will almost always have to return some containers and buy others of a different size and shape. So, you have to make a second trip to the store! When you sort first and have a good idea of the space in which you are putting the containers you usually go to the store once thus saving yourself a return trip to the store!

Now where to begin this organizing project? My advice is to start small. Start with a drawer or a small closet. See how much time that takes you. Then decide if there is a bigger organizing project in your house that you want to tackle. It’s important to finish one organizing project before beginning the next.

No matter the scope of the project being more organized in any area will give you satisfaction and hopefully encourage you to tackle another project in your home.

Let me know what you decide to organize and how it turns out!

Is it Spring yet?

March 14, 2013

I know Spring is coming. I can see it in the sunshine. The light is brighter and it’s staying light longer, particularly now that Daylight Saving Time is here! I love Spring. I’m a huge fan of gardening and my fingers are just itching to be spending my free time outside working in my garden. I have all sorts of plans for my planters and garden beds which will be fun for me to implement. I’m digressing. What I want to share is that while it’s still a little too cool to be outside for long periods I’m focusing my energy on the inside of my house. Tackling my spring cleaning!

This is a great time to clean out closets. I made a plan to go through the different closets & cupboards in my house. I want to figure out what was not worn or used this past winter. Those items I will donate. The best way to do this is to schedule a specific day and time for each closet and set of cupboards. Do not, under any circumstance, say to yourself “today, I’m going to clean out every cupboard and every closet in my house”. That would be a recipe for procrastination. Why would you want to spend an entire day doing this? I know I wouldn’t. Instead decide where you will begin and schedule this cleaning out over the next couple of weeks.

So, another tip is to completely empty the closet or cupboard. Give it a good and thorough cleaning out. Get out the vacuum for the floor and those hard to get at corners. Have a few cleaning cloths and a bucket filled with a vinegar/ water mixture. Wipe the shelves and walls using this mixture and then dry them completely.

Now, as you get ready to put the items back really look over each and every item. Ask yourself these questions: Do you use it (or wear it)? Do you love it? Do you want to keep it? Is it broken or in need of repair? Is it missing a part?

Only put back the items that you honestly want to have in your home. Take the rest to a donation site such as Goodwill.

Now that the inside of the cupboards and closets are organized and clean it’s time to spend as much time as possible outside enjoying this beautiful spring season!