Making an Organized Transition to College

By Monica Friel 

Are you sending a child off to college soon, or do you know someone who’s about to embark on this great adventure? Here are some tips for an organized transition to college dorm living:

Weed Out. Eliminate what you can before you even begin packing. Think clearly about what you’ll need to keep now that your life will need to fit in a tiny dorm room.

Organize. Organize the space you live in now. It will help with packing up properly and you’ll be happy to return to a simplified and organized place during breaks.

Prepare for small space living. Make the most out of every inch of space so that you won’t be feeling cramped. Use vertical wall space and contain like things with baskets/containers.

Financial. Make sure you are linked to the students debit card so money can be sent quickly. Chase Quick Pay is a terrific option.

Coordinate with your Roommate. You don’t need two coffee pots and 2 refrigerators. Get in touch and make a plan for who will bring what.

Move with Plastic Bins.  Pack up the car with plastic bins. They can be pack & unpacked easily. Parents can also take the empty bins back home.  They’re reusable and great for packing and storing at home over the summers.

Shop before Departure. Don’t wait until you arrive on campus to complete your checklist. Avoid making last minute purchases. College towns know you’re coming and hike up the prices accordingly.

Monica Friel

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Tips to Balance Work and Kids During the Summer

By Monica Friel 

Summer is here! If you have school-aged children, you know the havoc that can wreak on working from home or getting projects done around the house. Here are some suggestions to help you navigate between working and enjoying quality time with your kids at home.

Get work done early in the morning. Make a plan in the morning for the work that needs to get done and regularly stick to the block of time that you set aside. Work efficiently and let your kids know when your working hours will be.

Keep kids busy with age-appropriate chores. If they have a place they want to go, give them a list to complete before departure. A little perk to get the house straightened up while they’re motivated. They may not do it like you, but it’s a great way to teach them.

Share the load. Talk with other parents and see if you can coordinate a regular babysitting co-op. This way, kids will have friends to play with and the parents will share the babysitting load.

Stick to a routine. Your kids will get used to the routine if you make sure there’s something fun in it for them at some point in the day. If they can be patient and quiet while you’re on the phone with a client, you can take them to the pool in the afternoon.

Forward your calls. Smart phones, tablets and laptops make taking the kids on an adventure without “leaving” the office possible. If you have to talk with clients, allow your child to bring a friend so they can have fun even if you can’t always engage.

Of course it all depends on what age your kids are and how independent they can be. Work is important, and so is making fun summer memories for your children.

Monica Friel

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Clean & Green: Help The Environment By Getting Organized

By Monica Friel

We all want our beloved earth to last and flourish for future generations. How we utilize what we have can truly make a difference in our pursuit of helping the environment. When you think about your stuff; what you buy, how you use things, why you keep what you keep, it enables you to take an honest look at how you’re doing your part to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose. Here are a few ways that the process of getting organized can actually help you to be more earth friendly:

Knowing what you have. When your space is organized, you know where things are, you can look and know immediately if you need to replenish your supply. In your closet, for example, if you keep all of your white shirts together, you can see exactly what you have, know what condition it is in, and decide when it may be time to add or subtract from your collection. In any area, knowing what you have will help you to make well informed purchases.

Keeping a mental inventory. Through the process of organizing, you must weed out and make decisions about what to keep and what to eliminate. This process of going through each and every item not only helps you get rid of what your not using, it also helps to mentally inventory what you have so you don’t over-purchase.

Strive to minimize. With all the attention that’s been given to environmental friendliness, there is an endless supply of gadgets and gizmos you can purchase to help in your green initiative. However, retailers don’t often mention that one of the most important elements in being earth friendly is not what you purchase, it’s what you avoid purchasing. When making any purchase, be clear about its use and value to you, as well as what effect your purchase may have on the environment. Small purchases add up. Think of what you can do to reduce your personal consumption.

If you desire to be more organized and want to be environmentally conscientious at the same time, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Your home is not a recycling center. Do you have a perpetual pile for the always elusive yard sale? What about the pile of things you want to eventually sell online? Stop putting it off, set a date, mark it on the calendar and hold the sale or post the items and get the ball rolling. If you don’t give yourself a deadline, the items could linger endlessly. Remember, having a yard sale, selling online or donating your items means putting things you no longer use  back into circulation, not only helping the environment, but also helping someone who may not be able to purchase that item new.

Sentimentality vs. Functionality: Is your space filled with sentimental items that you’ve been guilted into keeping? For example, Grandmothers rocking chair in your basement. Is Grandmother being honored by her rocking chair sitting there, or does the fact that its there taking up space you’d like to use for something else frustrate you whenever you walk past? If so, think of ways you can minimize what you have by still honoring Grandmother. Can you take a photo? Save another, smaller item that reminds you of her? Find alternate and creative ways to remember her, wouldn’t you want someone to do the same for you?

Beware of being over-earth friendly. Many times we hang on to things because they are too valuable to toss or give away. In the pursuit of finding the perfect owner, items linger in your home indefinitely causing clutter and frustration. If you’re pile of recyclable plastic bags is overtaking your kitchen pantry, set time aside to get them to the store’s recycle bin, or get rid of them. Think of an item’s recycle value in comparison to the value of that space.

So if you want to make some headway in your green initiative, it’s a good idea to start getting organized today!

Monica Friel

 

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5 Ways to Keep Up With a Busy Schedule

By Monica Friel

Are you busy? It seems like we are all so busy trying to keep up with it all. So how do we stay on top of the hectic schedules and remain organized? Here 5 ways to keep your schedule running smoothly:

Schedule It All

Put every activity, meeting and plan into your calendar. This way you’ll know exactly what is going on and what you can realistically fit in.

Decline

Don’t opt in to every interest and social event that takes place. Choose your activities wisely. Remember, for every item you add to your calendar, your choosing to eliminate what might be some much needed down time.

Plan Ahead

Anything you can do to plan ahead will make the hectic times less stressful.

Organization is about creating systems so you can find things in the future. Spending some time organizing and setting up systems will save you time when you’re in a hurry.

Decompress

Make sure you allow time to unwind. Re-group in between meetings and events. Running on fumes is neither productive nor enjoyable. Read more about carving out down time.

Enlist Help

Make use of help from others whenever possible. Carpool with neighbors, enlist babysitters, reciprocate favors. Even swap organizing projects with a friend. Having someone to help you accomplish tasks will ensure that it gets done!

Remember, it’s not glamorous to be busy, it’s exhausting. Use your time wisely and enjoy each moment.

Monica Friel

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How To Get Organized In 2015

By Monica Friel

Does your New Year’s resolution involve getting organized? Make 2015 the year that you commit to better organization. Don’t think of being organized as an elusive, far-off goal. Create routines to help lighten the load and bring the chaos to order today. Here are 5 tips to help get you started:

Structure Your Day When time is unstructured, it can leave you feeling scattered and unaccomplished. Start each day with a clear plan. Make lists of what you need to do and prioritize them. Structure your day around those goals.

Create Habits Small habits of putting away and finishing up what you’re doing can have huge benefits in maintaining order. Here are some creative ways to get a new habit to stick.

Do Less. Creating a tight schedule without time to re-group will set you up for failure. Plan ahead for inevitable distractions. If things happen to run smoothly, you can make productive use of that extra time.

Be Charitable Having a good cause to donate to will help get the clutter out, while helping someone else in need (not to mention the tax deduction). Regularly assess what you have and weed out the excess.

Create A Place  If you have 15 minutes to straighten up, but don’t know where to put anything, that 15 minutes is wasted. Having a place for everything is essential to living organized. Invest in furniture and containers to make maintaining order easier.

Organization doesn’t just happen, it  is  a discipline and a constant process. Commit to making 2015 your most organized year yet!

Thanks, Monica!  We know 2015 will be a great year!  

Monica Friel

 

 

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6 Tips to Help You Find the Motivation to Get Organized

By Monica Friel

Is it hard to find the time to get to that looming organizing project? People often say they don’t have the time, but it may have more to do with having the energy than the time. You can always find time for what’s important, but sometimes it’s hard to find the energy and motivation to tackle something that’s not on a deadline like keeping your desk organized or getting started on a big organizing project. Here are some tips to help you boost your energy and motivate you to get organized:

Work when you have the energy

Determine when your energy levels rise and fall and plan your projects accordingly. If you’re a morning person, carve out morning time to tackle tough tasks. Plan low energy, mundane tasks for after lunch and later in the day. Work within your own rhythms and you’ll feel more energized.

Take care of yourself

Eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep and regularly exercise to maintain optimal energy levels. If you’re not feeling well, you can’t expect to get much done. Sleep deprivation and illness can zap all of your energy. When you feel great, it will be easier to get motivated.

Get moving

If your job requires you to sit at a desk, make sure you regularly get up and move around. Studies show that we are actually more productive when we can move around. Think of tasks you can do while walking: make calls, listen to audio, collaborate with a colleague, or simply use the time to gather thoughts.

Play music

Music has the power to trigger energy. An upbeat song can quickly motivate. However, don’t keep the music on all the time–it works best to boost energy when it’s played periodically.

Schedule It

If you really want to get something done, get it on your calendar and stick to it. Carving out the time and putting it on your calendar will help ensure that it happens. Schedule time to get organized, whether it’s with a professional organizer or simply planning time on your own to get through it.

Break it down

Write down all of the projects (and parts of projects) that you need to get done. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed just by thinking (and re-thinking) of all we have to do. Create a list and break big projects down into smaller, do-able parts.

Getting organized can seem like a daunting task if you’ve let things slip, but it’s worth the effort to chip away at it. You’ll enjoy the feeling of knowing where things are and feeling more productive. That in itself will boost your energy!

monica

 

 

Monica Friel

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Recipe for Receipts

By Monica Friel

receipt

Of course there are many different ways to deal with the deluge of receipts that continually fill up your wallet and pockets, but what is the best way to organize them? That answer really is individual. When we work with a client who has “receipt clutter” we offer several suggestions, here are a few:

File them. The good old fashioned way of storing receipts is to file them away. However, it’s not necessary to save every receipt. Keep what you think you may need for returns, personal records, and of course for tax purposes_the rest can go.

Stash them. You can also create a convenient space inside a drawer to keep all of your current receipts. This way, when you empty your pockets/purse, there’s a quick and easy place to put them. Be careful to make sure you clean out this spot frequently or it will be another source of clutter and chaos.

Scan them. Scanning is a great way to keep any receipt you may need, without the clutter. Be careful not to randomly scan them on to your desktop, but to place them into carefully marked file folders so that you won’t be sifting through them again in the future!

Photograph them. Use the camera on your smartphone to take a photo of your receipt and save it. Lemon is an app that helps to organize and back-up everything that’s in your wallet.

Toss them. When in doubt, throw it out. We don’t need every receipt for every purchase. Depending on how well you itemize and budget your spending, you can keep either very detailed records, or none at all. Toss what you don’t need, because if you keep too much, you can’t find what’s really important.

Receipts can be a nuisance, so spend a few minutes thinking about what the best system is for you so that you can stay on top of all those random receipts.

Thanks Monica for the great advice. If you liked this article, give it a cheer and/or like it on Facebook.

Monica Friel

 

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Organize your Kitchen and Start Cooking this Fall

By Monica Friel 

The fall is a great time for cooking and eating, creating new recipes and bringing back old ones. Having a well organized kitchen is crucial for good meal planning and preparation. Making optimal use of the space in your kitchen is more important when you’re spending extra time asdsdcreating new recipes and making some of fall’s favorite comfort foods. Of course, every kitchen is different. Some are sprawling with plenty of open cabinet space to fit every appliance and gadget on the market. Others are tiny and tight without an inch to spare. However, many of the same rules apply when it comes to organization. Here are a few tips to keep your kitchen in tip top shape.

Maximize every inch of cabinet space. Somehow we always find a way to fill up every inch of cabinet space no matter how big or small our kitchen is. Make use of containers, and organizational items inside your cabinets to make the best possible use of space. Lazy Susan’s, helper shelves and drawer dividers will not only help to keep things organized, they will also help you fit much more.

Shop Wisely. If you have a tiny galley kitchen, you shouldn’t be shopping at Costco. When you live in a smaller space, you have to make frequent trips to the grocery store. Don’t purchase in bulk unless you have somewhere to keep the excess. Often the deal is not worth compromising your space over. If you do purchase extras, consider storing them separately so you don’t have three boxes of the same cereal circulating.

Make use of vertical space. If you have available wall space in your kitchen, add a fruit basket on the wall (see image) or free standing shelving. Also remember to keep frequently used recipes and notes on the inside of cabinet doors.

Consider a Hanging Pot Rack. If you don’t have great space for keeping pots and pans in cabinets or drawers, make use of a hanging pot rack. It makes them easy to access and frees up cabinet space.

Refresh your Fridge. Every time to shop, your fridge should get a once over. A simple weed out of stale food and a wipe down of shelves will make incoming items accessible and more appealing too.

Keep your Freezer Functional. Your freezer is great for storage of items that can be used for meal preparation rather than heading out to the market. Don’t forget to label, date and properly package items in the freezer so you know what you have and when it expires.

Keeping an organized kitchen will help make meal preparation more efficient. It will save you money on purchasing groceries and will help to ensure you enjoy mealtime with your family.

 Monica Friel

 

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5 Ways to use your Smartphone to Get Organized

By Monica Friel 

If you have a Smartphone, get to know it well so you can make use the
terrific functions it can perform. Here are a few ways you can use Siri (or
Android voice command) to get organized:

With Siri, hold down the home key and talk. Here are some things you can
say:

1. “Set timer for 15 minutes”. As soon as you say it, the timer is set—use
that time to clear your desk or dig into an organizing project.

2. “Locate the nearest office supply store” Do you need labels for your
organizing project? Ask Siri where the nearest store is, and it will give turn
by turn directions from your current location.

3. “When I’m at The Container Store remind me to pick up Acrylic
Drawer Organizers” You can tell Siri to remind you to get exactly what you
need when your at a particular location.

4. “Play Song xxx” Ask Siri to play any song on your device and turn up the
tunes while you organize!

5. “Schedule an appointment with Chaos To Order next Wednesday at
10am” Create any appointment instantly by speaking into your phone.

Getting to know the technology you own will help you to be more efficient
and organized in many ways.

Monica Friel

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Tips to Balance Work and Kids During the Summer

By Monica Friel 

Summer will soon be upon us. If you have school-aged children, you know the havoc that can wreak on working from home or getting projects done around the house. Here are some suggestions to help you navigate between working and enjoying quality time with your kids at home.

 
Get work done early in the morning. Make a plan in the morning for the work that needs to get done and regularly stick to the block of time that you set aside. Work efficiently and let your kids know when your working hours will be.

 
Keep kids busy with age-appropriate chores. If they have a place they want to go, give them a list to complete before departure. A little perk to get the house straightened up while they’re motivated. They may not do it like you, but it’s a great way to teach them.
Share the load. Talk with other parents and see if you can coordinate a regular babysitting co-op. This way, kids will have friends to play with and the parents will share the babysitting load.

 
Stick to a routine. Your kids will get used to the routine if you make sure there’s something fun in it for them at some point in the day. If they can be patient and quiet while you’re on the phone with a client, you can take them to the pool in the afternoon.

 
Forward your calls. Smart phones, tablets and laptops make taking the kids on an adventure without “leaving” the office possible. If you have to talk with clients, allow your child to bring a friend so they can have fun even if you can’t always engage.

 
Of course it all depends on what age your kids are and how independent they can be. Work is important, and so is making fun summer memories for your children.

Monica Friel

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Holding On To Stuff And Letting Go, Where Do You Draw The Line?

The process of getting rid of things can be a difficult one. There are many reasons why we hold on to objects. Here is a list of some of the types of objects people hang on to, and some helpful advice on how to encourage the purge.

Items of Value This is the struggle we see most often. We don’t want to eliminate something from our possession because it has value. The problem is there are many things that have value and they end up invading our space! Think about your home, real estate is expensive and you want your home to be a place where you can relax and feel comfortable. If that space is filled with items you don’t want there, you’re not enjoying it fully. Set a deadline to get it out. Make arrangements to sell online or give them to a friend or family member.

Memorabilia We hang on to memorabilia and mementos that remind us of our past. Think about why you are holding on to certain memories. Does the benefit of having it outweigh the cost of the space it’s taking up? It’s also important to remember that if you keep too much, you can’t find what’s truly important. It’s good to keep some mementos, but set boundaries on what you hold on to. Determine what you realistically have the space for, and how much space you want to designate to those items.

Family Heirlooms Has a family member passed away and left you with their antique living room set? Does it not fit into your ultra modern space? What do you do with items passed down from generations? Do you think your kids will want it in the future—probably not. Make arrangements to get it into the hands of someone who will appreciate it, it’s the best way to honor the memory of your loved one. A digital photo is a good way to always hold on to the memory without sacrificing the living room.

Might need it some day So much is saved for a rainy day. There’s a difference between needing something and possibly needing something. If you haven’t used it in the past year and space is at a premium, let it go!

Adult Children’s Items Have your kids grown up and moved on? Are their childhood items still hanging around in your basement or attic? If you have the space and you don’t mind, that’s one thing. If the stuff is taking up space and causing any resentment, get it out. Once the kids are adults, it becomes their problem.

Haven’t taken the time to toss it  Ok, this last one is more common than you may think. We have stuff around that needs to go, we just don’t take the time to get it out. Maybe a regular walk-around with a garbage bag or donation box will do the trick. Maybe an appointment with your organizer is in order. Get the stuff (that you know needs to go) out ASAP.

Monica Friel

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7 Steps To Spring Cleaning Success

By Monica Friel 

After a long, harsh winter, your home may be in serious need for spring cleaning. The brutal winter has caused us to put off projects that might have otherwise been dealt with during winter months. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the chaos, it only makes it worse if you continue to put it off. Here are some tips to help you determine how to really make progress on a spring cleaning project this year:

Make a list. Before you start emptying closets and finding yourself with an even bigger mess, sit with a pen and paper and make a list of spring cleaning aspirations. Listing them all will help you gather your thoughts and determine priorities.

Create a plan. As with any project, your always more effective when working with a plan of attack. Once you’ve created a comprehensive list of projects to complete, arrange them in order of priority, determine how much time you will need to allow and set some reasonable deadlines.

Schedule it. You may be motivated that first day and tackle many of the projects on your list. But if you still have projects hanging out there and want to make time to accomplish them, there’s no better way than to carve out time on the calendar. When you have a busy schedule, the only way you find time is to go to your calendar and make it. It may require eliminating another less important activity, but you will always find the time if you really want to get it done.

Don’t be fooled.  There’s no magic wand when it comes to organizing. Hiding a mess behind a closed door will only exacerbate the problem. It can be a tedious process of going through things, making decisions and creating storage solutions. A professional organizer can certainly speed up the progress, make it fun and encourage quicker decision-making, but all steps need to happen in order to bring the chaos to order.

Start small. Once you have decided on a place to begin, get even more specific. For example, if you want to organize a closet, start with a hanging section, a shelf or drawer. Go through it entirely, eliminate what you can and neatly organize the rest. Don’t move on until that specific area is complete. Organization boils down to fully finishing the details of every project. When you break a large project down into sections, finish each section before you move on to the next.

Don’t give up. It’s easy to walk away when you’re distracted, but you’ll regret it later. If you’re working alone and want to stay on task, set a timer. Work in 30-45 minute increments and stick with it until the timer goes off. Once you’ve finished a section, take 5 and set the timer again until you finish.

Reward yourself. Set a goal to complete a spring cleaning project that’s been on your list. Give yourself a reward when you get it done. It can range from treating yourself to a nice meal, to purchasing great containers to keep the contents of your organized space.

Monica Friel

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6 Paper Clutter Cures

By Monica Friel 

Paper is the number one culprit of clutter in most any home or office. Staying on top of the constant flow of mail and miscellaneous papers that accumulate is a big job that never really ends. Here are a few tips to help keep the paper pile-up under control:

  • Process Mail Promptly: Keep a trash/recycle bin handy and toss junk mail immediately. Have good systems in place to file, process papers and pay bills quickly.
  • Make Filing Easy: If your file drawers are stuffed, you won’t take that extra time to put papers where they belong. Keep only current files at your desk—toss, box and archive the rest.
  • Weed Out Regularly:  Use the “One In One Out Rule”: Every time you put something in, take something out. Files should be cleared through 1-2 times per year. When was the last time you gave your file system a purge?
  • Don’t Over Organize: When organizing you can get distracted and end up spending too much time on the details. Focus on the big picture, not on how perfect the labels are.
  • Digitize: Less space is wasted when you store items digitally. Get a good scanner and save items on your computer rather than in files.
  • Don’t Hoard Office Supplies: Supplies can waste precious desk space. Keep only what you need right at your desk. Store extra office supplies in a box or closet elsewhere.
  • Know What to Keep: Knowing what you should save can be confusing. Speak to your accountant or lawyer regarding your specific needs. You can also check out our Retention Document for some general guidelines.

Remember, if you keep too much, you can’t find what’s really important. Keeping too many papers can make it more difficult to find what you need when you need it. Streamline, organize and enjoy the benefits.

Monica Friel

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Organize Your Digital Life

By Monica Friel 

What is the state of the files on your computer? Is everything filed where you  can reference and retrieve it quickly? Rather than wasting time logo_brownin a state of chaos, invest time in organizing a system for digital files on your computer. Here are some tips to get you digitally disciplined:

  • Categorize: Think about the types of files you have and group them into a handful of main categories. Do you have a functioning paper filing system? Look at your paper files and create a similar digital system.
  • Detox your Inbox: If your email is out of control, it’s wasting precious time each day. Don’t just delete email you don’t want to receive, make sure you scroll to the bottom and unsubscribe. Keep your inbox clear by saving items as documents and removing what you can. Email is a constant process, so designate time each day to keep your inbox to a minimum. It will actually save you time in the long run.
  • Photo overload: Many people feel the need to hang on to every single photo ever taken–whether digital or paper–for an eternity! Remember, if you keep too much, you can’t find what’s really important. Saving photos is a significant part of your history, and it’s great to have a digital timeline of events. However, it can get out of control if you don’t have a system. Organize your photos chronologically and remove what’s duplicate/unnecessary every time you import.
  • Gain control of your computer desktop: Does your desktop turn into a dumping ground for files you don’t want to waste time filing? This is a good place to store items temporarily, but only temporarily. Take a look at your desktop and regularly file anything left on it. Just like your actual desktop, it’s a work surface not a storage area.

If you find that you always need more cloud storage and must always buy the devices with the most storage available, maybe you’re hanging on to too much. By taking these important steps to minimize your digital life, you’ll lighten the load and feel better for it. Digital clutter is similar to household clutter. You’re more in control when you know where things are and have a simplified system. Take the time today to get your computer files in order and see how eliminating what’s not needed and finding good, efficient places to store things will lead to better organization overall.

Monica Friel

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Resolution 2014: Why Can’t I Get Organized?

By Monica Friel 

Did you make a New Year Resolution for 2014? Getting organized is the #2 resolution this year according to statisticbrain.com. It always seems to be one of the top resolutions, so what are we doing wrong that it shows up again year after year? Maybe there needs to be a change in how we try to attain the status of the all elusive organized life. This year, try some of these ideas to make the goal of getting organized more attainable.

  • Be More Specific: Deciding to get organized is a very broad idea. There are many different ways you can get organized, so write down your thoughts and get as specific as you can. For example, maybe your goal is to be more organized at work. Write down the steps that will get you there. Clearing off your desk, going through old files, staying on top of email, etc… write down all the things that make you feel chaotic and then write down what would help fix it. Once you’ve zeroed in on what to do, schedule time to get the specific tasks done. Once the tasks are done, set time aside for maintenance throughout the year. Hopefully by the end of the year you can get the habit to stick and you will start to see yourself as more organized.
  • Get Accountable: there’s nothing better than having another person check in on you and keep you on track. Find a friend or co-worker who has similar goals and work together to stay accountable to each other.
  • Take it off the List: Instead of creating a New Year “To Do”, try creating a list of what “Not To Do”. We all have tasks that are important, yet they keep getting postponed. Decide what not to do, eliminate what you can, delegate where you can and create time to focus on what matters most.
  • Don’t Wait, Live Organized Now: People always set a goal to get organized, but they forget that they can live organized now. Rather than focusing on the pile of clutter that needs to be dealt with, focus on finishing every task as you do them. That means making those little decisions about what to do with each and every item. You see, they add up and become the clutter that haunts you.

If you follow these steps and set your mind on an attainable, concrete goal of maintaining organization in a particular area, it will grow and spill over into other areas of your life and you will be proud to have realized your resolution.

Monica Friel

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Making an Organized Transition to College

By Monica Friel 

Are you sending a child off to college soon, or do you know someone who’s about to embark on this great adventure? Here are some tips for an organized transition to college dorm living:

Weed Out. Eliminate what you can before you even begin packing. Think clearly about what you’ll need to keep now that your life will need to fit in a tiny dorm room.

Organize. Organize the space you live in now. It will help with packing up properly and you’ll be happy to return to a simplified and organized place during breaks.

Prepare for small space living. Make the most out of every inch of space so that you won’t be feeling cramped. Use vertical wall space and contain like things with baskets/containers.

Financial. Make sure you are linked to the students debit card so money can be sent quickly. Chase Quick Pay is a terrific option.

Coordinate with your Roommate. You don’t need two coffee pots and 2 refrigerators. Get in touch and make a plan for who will bring what.

Move with Plastic Bins.  Pack up the car with plastic bins. They can be pack & unpacked easily. Parents can also take the empty bins back home.  They’re reusable and great for packing and storing at home over the summers.

Shop before Departure. Don’t wait until you arrive on campus to complete your checklist. Avoid making last minute purchases. College towns know you’re coming and hike up the prices accordingly.

Monica Friel

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5 Ways to Keep up with a Busy Schedule

By Monica Friel 

Are you busy? It seems like we are all so busy trying to keep up with it all. So how do we stay on top of the hectic schedules and remain organized? Here 5 ways to keep your schedule running smoothly:

Schedule It All

Put every activity, meeting and plan into your calendar. This way you’ll know exactly what is going on and what you can realistically fit in.

Decline

Don’t opt in to every interest and social event that takes place. Choose your activities wisely. Remember, for every item you add to your calendar, your choosing to eliminate what might be some much needed down time.

Plan Ahead

Anything you can do to plan ahead will make the hectic times less stressful.

Organization is about creating systems so you can find things in the future. Spending some time organizing and setting up systems will save you time when you’re in a hurry.

Decompress

Make sure you allow time to unwind. Re-group in between meetings and events. Running on fumes is neither productive nor enjoyable. Read more about carving out down time.

Enlist Help

Make use of help from others whenever possible. Carpool with neighbors, enlist babysitters, reciprocate favors. Even swap organizing projects with a friend. Having someone to help you accomplish tasks will ensure that it gets done!

Remember, it’s not glamorous to be busy, it’s exhausting. Use your time wisely and enjoy each moment.

Monica Friel

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How to Maintain an Organized Kitchen

By Monica Friel

What happens to your groceries when you bring them home from the store? Do you toss what you must into the fridge and throw the rest haphazardly into cabinets? If you’re constantly in a hurry when you bring groceries in, your kitchen will reflect the chaos. The most important part of maintaining an organized kitchen is always putting things back exactly where you find them and unpacking grocery items properly. Here are a few things to consider:

Start Early. The grocery store process should really begin before you even get to the store. Go through your cabinets and look to see that what is on your list is really needed. How many times have you been to the grocery store to purchase something only to get home and realize it was hiding in a different place? That’s where good organizations and systems come in. Taking the time to create good, functional systems in your kitchen and maintaining them regularly will actually be a big time saver in the long run.

Make a list. You can keep a list in your kitchen that anyone can add to and snap a photo of it before you head to the store. There’s also some great grocery apps for your smartphone where you can keep your list and sync them with anyone else who does the shopping. A traditional paper list will also get the job done just fine. Working off of a list will help ensure that you get what you need. You can also set boundaries on your lists. If you shop when you’re hungry, your kitchen may end up overflowing with random snacks and impulse purchases.

Beware of bulk. There are benefits to bulk shopping, but you must really have the space and organization to make good use of it. Stores that sell everything giant sized can encourage you to use more, eat more, spend more and waste more. If there are items that you know you’ll be using frequently, and you’re sure you have the room to store it, go ahead and buy in bulk. If not, take a pass on bulk shopping.

Remove duplicates. One of the biggest clutter problem in a kitchen (or anywhere for that matter) is duplicate items. If you buy cereal, for example, you need to make sure you’re not putting brand new, unopened cereal in front of a box that’s already half eaten. That’s how the clutter creeps in. Instead, put your extras elsewhere. A high shelf or a pantry closet is a great place to store those extras.

Properly unpack. When you’re unpacking groceries, take the time to wipe down a shelf before adding items, tear off the tops of snack boxes so individual items are accessible, put like items together with newer expiration dates to the back, unpacking everything fully. Taking the time to unpack and organize after grocery shopping will not only leave you with an organized kitchen, it will save you time in the long run.

Monica Friel

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Make Time for a Closet Clean-Out

By Monica Friel

Are you tired of your current wardrobe? The universal 80-20 rule applies to our closets: we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. Chances are, there are outfits hiding in your closet that  you’ve never thought about putting together. Doing a mid-season closet clean out is a great alternative to an expensive shopping spree,  and you may discover clothes and outfits in your own closet that will have a fresh new look once you do some organizing. Here are some closet clean-out tips:

  • Thoroughly evaluate. Don’t just gaze over the sections of hanging clothes. Actually go item by item making a decision about each and every piece you touch. This kind of thorough evaluation will help give you a new perspective.
  • Keep an Outgoing Bin. Make sure there’s a place in your closet for clothes you can eliminate/donate. This is especially helpful in kids closets where they are constantly outgrowing clothes and shoes.
  • Re-Hang. The right hangers can make all the difference. Here’s a quick video about some of our favorite hanger choices.
  • Look Up. Use every inch of vertical space in your closet. Keep a step stool handy for easy access to those higher up items.
  • Put Away. Think about the current season, are some items past their seasonal wearing time? If so, put them in containers, place them up high or out of the closet until next season.
  • Add Hooks. If you’re in too much of a hurry to hang, avoid the urge to toss things on the floor by adding hooks inside the closet. Clothes you’ve only worn for a short time that don’t need to be laundered yet are good on hooks.
  • Everything old is new again. You’ll be amazed what a fresh outlook the newly organized space will provide!

Thanks Monica for more great tips!  

Monica Friel

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How to Manage Work with Kids Home During the Summer

By Monica Friel

Do you work at home and feel like you can’t get anything done with kids home from school during the summer? Unless your kids are in camp or summer school full time, they are around much more during the summer months, so intrusions and distractions abound. There are many different scenarios with little ones of different ages, but here are some tips to help you get work done without the guilt of closing the office door on the kids all day long.

Plan “special” time. It doesn’t have to be a full day, but an hour or so around lunch or two hours at the pool can actually help you be more productive in the long run. Your kids will have something to look forward to and feel that you are giving them attention.

Special activities with “conditions.” We all have to get work done before we can go somewhere fun — so should the kids. They are also more likely to be motivated to do chores when there is a fun reward at the end. Make a list of all the tasks you expect them to do before the outing (age appropriate of course). The kids may not do it as well as you, but at least something is getting done, it’s keeping them occupied and you’re able to get some work done at the same time!

Work in an out of the way space. Having an office on the main floor near an entryway is a recipe for disaster when kids are coming and going. If it’s possible to move to an out of the way place like a basement (which is cooler in the summer too) it will be quieter and there will be far less interruptions.

Play “bring your kids to work.” If you have an old computer around that the kids can use for playing games, you can set it up right in the office next to where you’re working. If they are able to play quietly, they can spend some time “working” with you in the office.

Change your working hours. With the kids home during the summer, count on the fact that there are going to be plenty of distractions. Plan some uninterrupted work time either early in the morning or late at night to ensure that you will have time available to be there for the kids during the day as well as quiet time to make sure work gets done and deadlines are met.

Get organized. Working with a professional organizer from Chaos To Order will not only minimize the paper piles, but setting up a good efficient system in your home office will allow you to be much more productive, thus allowing more time with the kids.

Kid swap. Make plans with a friend nearby to swap the kids. You take their kids for a day and they take yours another day. This can be fun for the kids as well as a way to squeeze in some quality work time.

Remember, the work will always be there, but kids grow up very quickly. Prioritize and make an effort to have fun with yours this summer.

Thanks Monica for more great tips! 

Monica Friel

 

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Clean & Green: Help The Environment By Getting Organized

By Monica Friel

We all want our beloved earth to last and flourish for future generations. How we utilize what we have can truly make a difference in our pursuit of helping the environment. When you think about your stuff; what you buy, how you use things, why you keep what you keep, it enables you to take an honest look at how you’re doing your part to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose. Here are a few ways that the process of getting organized can actually help you to be more earth friendly:

Knowing what you have. When your space is organized, you know where things are, you can look and know immediately if you need to replenish your supply. In your closet, for example, if you keep all of your white shirts together, you can see exactly what you have, know what condition it is in, and decide when it may be time to add or subtract from your collection. In any area, knowing what you have will help you to make well informed purchases.

Keeping a mental inventory. Through the process of organizing, you must weed out and make decisions about what to keep and what to eliminate. This process of going through each and every item not only helps you get rid of what your not using, it also helps to mentally inventory what you have so you don’t over-purchase.

Strive to minimize. With all the attention that’s been given to environmental friendliness, there is an endless supply of gadgets and gizmos you can purchase to help in your green initiative. However, retailers don’t often mention that one of the most important elements in being earth friendly is not what you purchase, it’s what you avoid purchasing. When making any purchase, be clear about its use and value to you, as well as what effect your purchase may have on the environment. Small purchases add up. Think of what you can do to reduce your personal consumption.

If you desire to be more organized and want to be environmentally conscientious at the same time, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Your home is not a recycling center. Do you have a perpetual pile for the always elusive yard sale? What about the pile of things you want to eventually sell online? Stop putting it off, set a date, mark it on the calendar and hold the sale or post the items and get the ball rolling. If you don’t give yourself a deadline, the items could linger endlessly. Remember, having a yard sale, selling online or donating your items means putting things you no longer use  back into circulation, not only helping the environment, but also helping someone who may not be able to purchase that item new.

Sentimentality vs. Functionality: Is your space filled with sentimental items that you’ve been guilted into keeping? For example, Grandmothers rocking chair in your basement. Is Grandmother being honored by her rocking chair sitting there, or does the fact that its there taking up space you’d like to use for something else frustrate you whenever you walk past? If so, think of ways you can minimize what you have by still honoring Grandmother. Can you take a photo? Save another, smaller item that reminds you of her? Find alternate and creative ways to remember her, wouldn’t you want someone to do the same for you?

Beware of being over-earth friendly. Many times we hang on to things because they are too valuable to toss or give away. In the pursuit of finding the perfect owner, items linger in your home indefinitely causing clutter and frustration. If you’re pile of recyclable plastic bags is overtaking your kitchen pantry, set time aside to get them to the store’s recycle bin, or get rid of them. Think of an item’s recycle value in comparison to the value of that space.

So if you want to make some headway in your green initiative, it’s a good idea to start getting organized today!

As always, thanks Monica for more great tips! 

Monica Friel

 

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How To Get Organized In 2013

By Monica Friel

Does your New Year’s resolution involve getting organized? Make 2013 the year that you commit to better organization. Don’t think of being organized as an elusive, far-off goal. Create routines to help lighten the load and bring the chaos to order today. Here are 5 tips to help get you started:

Structure Your Day When time is unstructured, it can leave you feeling scattered and unaccomplished. Start each day with a clear plan. Make lists of what you need to do and prioritize them. Structure your day around those goals.

Create Habits Small habits of putting away and finishing up what you’re doing can have huge benefits in maintaining order. Here are some creative ways to get a new habit to stick.

Do Less. Creating a tight schedule without time to re-group will set you up for failure. Plan ahead for inevitable distractions. If things happen to run smoothly, you can make productive use of that extra time.

Be Charitable Having a good cause to donate to will help get the clutter out, while helping someone else in need (not to mention the tax deduction). Regularly asses what you have and weed out the excess.

Create A Place  If you have 15 minutes to straighten up, but don’t know where to put anything, that 15 minutes is wasted. Having a place for everything is essential to living organized. Invest in furniture and containers to make maintaining order easier.

Organization doesn’t just happen, it  is  a discipline and a constant process. Commit to making 2013 your most organized year yet!

Thanks, Monica!  We know 2013 will be a great year!  

Monica Friel

 

 

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Tips for Staying Organized When Working Mobile

By Monica Friel

Having to sit in an office to get work done has become a thing of the past. Over half of today’s corporate work gets done outside the office. We went from having to work in an office to the convenience of work-at-home. Now technology has allowed us to break free from the desk and work wherever we go. In order to do that, organization is essential. It’s one thing in an office to have papers piled around to find what you need, but when your working mobile, you must streamline and digitize what you need for instant access. Storing files over the cloud on Google Docs or iCloud is a great way to store your documents. Of course there’s an app  or system built in for just about everything else. Here are a few that I find indispensable:

  • Mobile Banking. Your bank’s mobile app allows you the convenience of not only paying bills anywhere, but you can also make deposits, transfer funds, check balances and even receive text messages when bills are coming due or your balance is running low.
  • Contacts.  Think of your contacts folder not only as the people you call frequently, but a personal database for everything you need. You can keep all kinds of  important information stored (cryptically if necessary) in the “notes” section of each contact.
  • iPhone Reminders. If you have an iPhone 4S hold down your home button and ask Siri to remind you of anything, even when you arrive at a specific location. It’s cool how they’ve used the GPS to help keep us organized this way!
  • Things. This is a great GTD app which I sync on several devices with my “to-do” list. Not just for today, but you can hold many different lists on Things.

 

Thanks Monica for more great tips!  If you liked this article, give it a cheer and/or like it on Facebook.

Monica Friel


 

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10 Tips to Keep You Organized Through the Holidays

By Monica Friel

Do you feel overwhelmed by clutter? Even paralyzed by it? So many of us do — especially at this time of the year. So, in this season of making lists and checking them twice, here is a list that will help you prepare for the Holidays and make them a bit more enjoyable.

Start small. Break down big projects into small tasks. Looking at the entire project may lead to procrastination. Start in a specific area and make decisions about one item at a time. Take small steps in the right direction now.

Create itemized gift lists. Write down the name of every person on your list and get the ideas flowing. Always keep the list handy, you never know when you’ll come across the perfect gift. There’s even an app for that appropriately titled Gift List. You can keep track of everyone on the list and all the details. 

Make time. Set a timer and work with manageable bits. Doing this will help you feel less stressed. You’ll be amazed at how much can be accomplished in a just a short period.

Set up a gift wrapping station. Set up an area in your home for wrapping gifts. Keep ALL wrapping paper, gift tags, gift bags, ribbons etc. together. This way, you won’t have to search every time you need to wrap a gift.

Create a holiday folder.  Gather great ideas for gifts, decorating, recipes, etc. and put them in a folder marked “Holiday”. Keep the folder handy throughout the year to add ideas as they come to you.  When mom mentions in the summer how much she wants that gadget, you’ll know exactly where to put the reminder.

Corral holiday items. Holiday books, gift wrap, cooking items, clothing, linens and movies can all get packed away when the season is over. We tend to think of packing up holiday decorations and knickknacks, but there are many other things that are used only at this time of the year. During the season, rethink how much can go into storage. This way, you’ll have less clutter around the house the rest of the year!

Take pictures of your decor once it is set up. Print a photo of your display and put it inside the storage boxes. This way, if you really love the way something turned out you won’t have to reinvent the wheel every year. 

Whittle down your freezer. Plan ahead for holiday leftovers and have a “mustgo” night when everything in your freezer must go. When you entertain, you’ll have space in the freezer to spare.

Set deadlines. Define clear goals for yourself and keep your eye on the prize – an organized, clutter-free space!

Enjoy! Remember the holidays can be a magical time and your mindset plays a huge roll. Enjoy the season, schedule time to be with family and friends. It has actually been proven that taking time to enjoy the season will help reduce stress.

This list provides a great start. But remember, organization is a constant process. Decide right now to streamline and simplify. If you do, you will see a difference right away. 

One can never read too many organizing ideas when it comes to preparing for the holiday season!  Thanks Monica for more great tips.  If you liked this article, give it a cheer and/or like it on Facebook.

 Monica Friel

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Are You Wasting Time Trying to Get Organized?

By Monica Friel

Have you ever been motivated to organize your desk/office space and gotten lost in the details? Have you made a plan to get organized and found yourself wasting time trying to figure out how to print the perfect, color-coded file labels? Too often we find ourselves having good intentions to get organized, but wasting time focused on the wrong things. Here are some solutions to keep you on task when organizing:

Watch the clock. Look at the amount of time you can carve out for the sole purpose of organization and stick to it. Don’t let organizing get in the way of other work that needs to get done.

Tackle the tough stuff. It’s easy to organize where you like to. When you’re motivated to work, begin with the area that’s troublesome and stick with it, but don’t venture into other areas until you meet your initial goal.

Don’t create more chaos. Don’t pull everything out of a supply closet if you don’t have the time to put it all back. Keep everything in the space, eliminate what you can then sort and organize.

Piles of paper= unfinished tasks. Don’t try to finish all of the details of every task while organizing. You will find many things that can send you in different directions, don’t let them derail you.

Don’t focus on the details right away. The files don’t need to be labeled, color-coded and perfected. Creating temporary files is a great way to get started. You can slap a sticky note on the file folder and move on.

Organize only where you need it. When you decide to organize a particular area, don’t wander into other places. Get through what you need to organize and get back to work.

Don’t Over-file. Do you have files for every category possible?  Make chronological files for January thru December each year and file all bills and related receipts quickly and efficiently.

Don’t file alphabetically. File according to use. If you use a particular file frequently, keep it close so you can access it quickly.

Remember, organization isn’t about perfection, its about productivity and finding what you need quickly. Remember these tips to keep organization where it belongs, as a process that leads to better productivity, not a task that consumes your whole day!

Thanks Monica for more great tips!  If you liked this article, give it a cheer and/or like it on Facebook.

Monica Friel

 

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Recipe for Receipts

By Monica Friel

Of course there are many different ways to deal with the deluge of receipts that continually fill up your wallet and pockets, but what is the best way to organize them? That answer really is individual. When we work with a client who has “receipt clutter” we offer several suggestions, here are a few:

File them. The good old fashioned way of storing receipts is to file them away. However, it’s not necessary to save every receipt. Keep what you think you may need for returns, personal records, and of course for tax purposes_the rest can go.

Stash them. You can also create a convenient space inside a drawer to keep all of your current receipts. This way, when you empty your pockets/purse, there’s a quick and easy place to put them. Be careful to make sure you clean out this spot frequently or it will be another source of clutter and chaos.

Scan them. Scanning is a great way to keep any receipt you may need, without the clutter. Be careful not to randomly scan them on to your desktop, but to place them into carefully marked file folders so that you won’t be sifting through them again in the future!

Photograph them. Use the camera on your smartphone to take a photo of your receipt and save it. Lemon is an app that helps to organize and back-up everything that’s in your wallet.

Toss them. When in doubt, throw it out. We don’t need every receipt for every purchase. Depending on how well you itemize and budget your spending, you can keep either very detailed records, or none at all. Toss what you don’t need, because if you keep too much, you can’t find what’s really important.

Receipts can be a nuisance, so spend a few minutes thinking about what the best system is for you so that you can stay on top of all those random receipts.

Thanks Monica for the great advice. If you liked this article, give it a cheer and/or like it on Facebook

Monica Friel

 

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Back to School: The End of Chaos or Just the Start?

By Monica Friel

By now many kids are back in school, or just getting ready to start. This is the time of year when organizational systems are put to the test. Did you have the chance over the summer to complete all of those organizing projects that were on your list? If not, here are some steps to get organized and be prepared for the school year ahead:

Backpack/School Stuff Storage: Having a convenient place for kids to store backpacks, book bags and transient school stuff is a must. A closet, shelf, or cubby is best, along with hooks for coats, bags etc. If you want your entryway to be  functional, you must have places to store any items that are coming in and out frequently.

Kids Rooms: Use back to school shopping as an incentive to clear through kids bedrooms. Look over every piece of clothing so they know what they have, what they’ve outgrown and what they need to replace for the year ahead. Desks, bookshelves and any area in kids rooms are fair game to get organized and purge the excess.

School Year Files: Create a file at the start of each year for your child’s current grade. Keep all important papers in the file. Add new papers throughout the year and weed out periodically. At the end of the year, sit with your child and go through the papers determining what to hold on to and what to get rid of. Then put the file in a bankers size keepsake box. Over time, you will have a nice organized keepsake box of each school year.

Family Calendar/Bulletin Board: This time of the year there’s a million dates to add to the calendar. Sports and clubs are starting up and the school usually comes out with dates for the entire year. Spend some time inputting all of these dates into your family calendar, whether it’s digital or paper, make sure all important dates are marked. A centrally placed bulletin board with important messages and events is also a great way to keep everyone in the household informed as to what the day’s activities are. 

Back to school time means the start of new family routines. Seize the moment and get good systems into place now so everyone in the household will enjoy a smooth transition.

Thanks, Monica!

Did you enjoy this article? Give it a cheer!

Monica Friel

 

 

 

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How to Minimize Home Office Distractions

By Monica Friel

Working from home certainly has its benefits, but it is not without its fair share of pitfalls. The average person only focuses on work for 11 minutes before being distracted. So how do we combat the never-ending call of household projects, screaming children, visiting neighbors, etc.? There is no way to avoid all of the interruptions that occur, but here are a few tips to help minimize and manage the distraction deluge:

– Create a routine. Having a set schedule in place will help you move more quickly and efficiently throughout your day. Set regular working hours, break times and set time to deal with household matters.

– Work from a list. Keep a running to-do list. Decide what your tasks are for the day and prioritize them. With a list, you will not waste any time wondering what to cross off next.

– Work during “off” hours. Early morning is the best time to dive into big projects and do work that requires extra concentration. If you’re a night owl, late nights may be your best bet.

– Minimize technology distractions. Your computer doesn’t need 32 windows and 25 browser tabs open. Out of sight–out of mind. Turn off incoming mail alerts and set email filters with priorities. Go on a social-networking diet and limit the number of times you check those sites.

– Create a distraction-free workspace. Set up office space in your home that can minimize distractions. Is your office on the main floor? Can you move it to another level? Having an off-the-beaten-path office will encourage productivity. Also, make sure your office has a door, so that you can close yourself in to the working environment you need.

– Plan for distractions. We often cram so much into a day that if distractions occur, it can cause a complete derail. Knowing that most tasks take longer than we think, plan for the inevitable. Remember, office workers have their share of distractions to deal with as well!


Thanks Monica for more great tips!  If you liked this article, give it a cheer and/or like it on Facebook.

Monica Friel

 

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Organizing a Yard Sale

By Monica Friel

One great way to help you get rid of that clutter that lingers is to plan a yard sale. Sometimes it’s hard to donate items when you don’t know where they’re going and if they will really be used. It’s easier to get rid of  things when you know your items are going into the hands of someone who wants them. Sometimes a yard sale can be more work than it’s worth, so you need to be organized and efficient in the process. Here are some tips to help keep it simple and successful:

When clearing out the clutter, have an extra bin for yard sale items. Keep dot stickers and a black permanent marker handy to price things right away as you’re clearing through a cluttered place. When you’re motivated about a sale, you’re more likely to sell what you can.

– Don’t go it alone. A sale is a big undertaking, make sure you have someone to help out, there needs to be at least one person on duty at all times. The best option is to have a multi-family sale. Combine your efforts with a friend or neighbor, you’ll have more items to attract customers and more people available to staff the sale.

– Price to sell. Yard sale items are typically lower than thrift store prices. If something is priced for $8.00 at a thrift store, price it for $5.00 at a yard sale.

– Price by bin. Rather than pricing every item, label bins with a price and toss items into that bin.

– Get the word out. Post signs, place an ad in the local paper and go online. There’s even an app for that: Garagesalestracker.com

– The most important part of having a yard sale is making sure that the items ALL go. Since you’ve made the decision to get rid things by placing them in a sale. When your planning, call and arrange for the pickup as soon as possible after the sale ends. Itemize what remains and you can take a tax deduction so you’ll still come out ahead!

Having a yard sale is an undertaking, but if you plan it properly, its a great way to streamline, get rid of excess clutter and feel more organized.


Thanks Monica for the great advice.  Summer is the perfect time to have a yard sale and your tips will come in handy.

Monica Friel

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