Our Top 10 School Supplies for 2015

Here are our top picks for heading back to school:

1. Premier Agenda Academic Planner

While planning a school day is different than planning a day at the office, there are certain principles that apply in both situations. These weekly planners incorporate the 7 Habits into your children’s daily planning, helping them set priorities, achieve life goals, manage their time, and increase their potential. With space to set down assignments for each day and a daily schedule for each afternoon and evening, these planners make it easy for your kids to take charge of their own lives. Available for Elementary School, Middle School, and High School students.

2. Kate Spade Office Set

It’s a good idea to set aside a study space in a quiet corner of the house, far from distractions and interruptions. It’s an even better idea to stock that study space with fashionable desk accessories from Kate Spade New York. With a coordinating gold theme, they help make study time a little brighter. Find them all at TidyNirvana.com.

3. School.files by Buttoned Up

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This one’s for both you and your kids. Designed to hold files for three different students, this durable yet lightweight organizer features five folders in each student’s compartment: stuff to do, stuff to keep, stuff to return, fun stuff, and calendars. As your kids bring home their work each evening, you can sit down together and sort their new papers into these files, saving both your sanity and the seams in their backpacks.

4. Office Organization Set by Anna Griffin

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The world is full of blue-lined paper and yellow sticky notes. This set adds a new sense of style to the humdrum practice of note taking and studying. It includes a four-pack of notebooks, file folders, and sticky notes in fun and fresh designs, letting your students add personality to their scholarly interactions.

5. Calendar Stickers

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A picture is worth a thousand words. And since it’s awfully hard to fit a thousand words into a calendar square, these handy calendar stickers make a big difference. With stickers for study group sessions, registration dates, club meetings, tests, and more, these visual reminders let your students get a handle on their schedule in a single glance.

6. Back to School Notepad Dry Erase Wall Decals

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If their desk is a mess of sticky notes, to-do lists, and notepads, help them clear the clutter with these peel & stick dry erase wall decals. They look like notebook lined pages and give them plenty of room for all their important reminders. They stick to any smooth surface and are removable, repositionable, and reusable. A great decorating choice for their bedroom or dorm room, these wall decals are a breeze to install, move, and re-apply—and will never damage your paint or leave behind any residue.

7. School Priorities Pad

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“Is there anything you have to do?” Ask your kids this at the end of the school day, and you might get a shrug. Present them with this pad, though, and you’ll teach them to review the day, writing down the top three priorities in six categories: assignments, reading, chores, skills, home tasks, and personal tasks.

8. Ace Backpack 

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While the video-game-inspired backpack might be just the thing for an elementary school student, a student heading to college needs something a little more substantial. The Ace Backpack features a fully padded laptop compartment, an organized interior design, and ventilated back paneling. It also converts from a backpack to a messenger bag, helping your student make a good impression when class is over and job interviews start.

9. Tornado Pencil

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There’s an interesting phenomenon when it comes to writing instruments—the cheaper the pen or pencil, the more likely someone else will end up walking off with it. Your student will want to hold on to this one! The Tornado Pencil from Retro 51 features a distinctive design that incorporates Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity on its stainless steel barrel. It opens with a twist of the top, and features a large eraser for walking back those lengthy math problems.

10. Tech 4 Multifunction Pen by Cross

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Color plays a huge part in organization. It helps label, emphasize, and sort information. The Tech 4 gives your students quick and easy access to color as they use their planners. With a simple twist of the top, they can switch between three different colors of ink and a mechanical pencil, letting them plan effectively without filling their bag’s organizer pocket.

How to Stop Procrastinating

By Carmen Coker

I find that, when it comes to organization, getting started is half the battle.

If you’re procrastinating on an organizing project, the key to pushing past the procrastination is to find out what motivates you. Know your motivators before a wave of procrastination hits, and you’ll be prepared to deal with it — head-on — as soon as it arrives.

So ask yourself, “What makes me want to get things done? To get organized?”

Here are some possibilities…

(1) Free time.

It’s well-established that if you simplify life, you save time.

But just how much time, exactly, will you save? US News and World Report recently demonstrated that the average American spends 1 year of their life looking for lost or misplaced items at home and in the office.

1 year = 365 days = 8,760 hours = 525,600 minutes = 31,536,000 seconds

Any way you put it — it’s a lot of time! A lot of time you could have been doing other things…

(2) Money.

Think about your biggest organizing problem. Let’s just say, for example, that it’s your home office.

Assume that you’re losing $20 a week ($3 a day) in personal resources — lost time, energy, productivity, sanity — because you don’t have an effective organizing system in place. (It’s probably much more than $3/ day, but we’ll go for a moderate amount.)

Imagine you decide against de-cluttering your home office and continue down the same unorganized path for the next 5 years. You will lose over $5000 of resources!

Although that $5000 is just a hypothetical figure, it puts disorganization in a whole new light.

(3) Positive energy.

According to the book The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People by Dr. David Niven, it’s important to establish a schedule to take your tasks from “To Do” to “To Done.”

Dr. Niven writes: “We often feel overwhelmed by the chores that have to be done on a regular basis. We clean the kitchen, then the living room needs to be vacuumed…and 16 other things need to be done. With a routine, you will not be lost in wondering what’s next.”

Precisely how much will a household routine boost your level of happiness? 100 Simple Secrets explains: “In a study of families, regularity in household routines improved daily personal satisfaction by about 5%.”

(4) Shaping your destiny.

I realize that for some of you out there, home organization may be just about as fun as boot camp. But in this day in age, when life keeps getting crazier and crazier, you can’t afford not to be organized!

Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”

Isn’t that so true? It definitely applies to organizing…

If you know you have to get organized, you can choose to procrastinate, and your disorganization will just cause you more frustration. Or you can choose to get motivated, get organized, and truly know the freedom that comes with it.

It’s always your choice…

(5) Tough love.

There can be some undesirable consequences that accompany disorganization.

– Can’t find your keys in the mornings = late for work

– Forget a birthday = guilty feelings (you) and hurt feelings (birthday boy or girl)

– Neglect to declutter the house = embarrassing mess to explain away to visitors

– Pack a suitcase without a purpose = too many socks and too few undies

– Pay a bill after it’s due = excess late fees

– Overlook expired car registration = traffic ticket and possible fines

I’m sure you could add a few more examples to this list!

It’s time to get organized — and stop putting yourself in situations where you wish that you had made organization a priority. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

For the purpose of this article, I’ve applied the above motivators to organizing specifically. But you can relate this same formula to other areas of your life where procrastination plagues you.

Knowing your strong inner motivators + Knowing where you’re vulnerable to procrastination = Knowing how to push past procrastination

It’s that simple. Although sometimes we tend to make it harder than that!

Martin Luther, German priest and scholar, opined “How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’.” Your “nows” are fleeting — don’t let them slip away!

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3 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Organizing Goals

By Carmen Coker

If you want to get organized and stay organized, you may need to change how you approach the process in order to get the most out of it. Common organizing mistakes such as picking out the wrong organizers may be the reason why you can’t get organized even though you’re giving it your all. Here are three typical problems people encounter when trying to get organized – and how to fix them – getting you back on the path to big organizing results.

Problem 1: You copy an organizing idea that looks good on paper.

Ever tried an organizing idea from a magazine, and it never really worked for you? The reason this failure likely happens is you try to achieve an organizing ideal – or what you believe organizing should be – instead of organizing according to your own rules. Break this pattern by crafting systems that work with your habits, routines, personality, and lifestyle – systems you love – rather than trying to copy what looks good in glossy magazines.

Problem 2: You try to accomplish too much organizing at once.

It’s a safe bet that the clutter in your life did not build up overnight. It likely has taken days, weeks, months, or maybe even years to become so … messy! In the same respect, getting rid of clutter is typically not an overnight success. For you, as it is for many people, this realization can become so overwhelming that it stops you in your tracks. Counteract this overwhelm by breaking larger organizing projects into smaller, bite-sized tasks. Then (realistically) schedule those tasks on your calendar, and follow through.

Problem 3: You don’t use flexible storage and organizing solutions.

To illustrate what a flexible storage option is, it’s best to describe what it is not. For example, non-adjustable shelves might hinder your organizing attempts, as you could run into dimension issues. Avoid this setback altogether by investing in organizers that can adapt to your personal needs, ones that modify, extend or retract, move, or otherwise give you additional flexibility.

How have these common organizing mistakes sabotaged your organizing goals? Please let me know your thoughts, experiences, ideas, and other comments below.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, The Washington Post and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

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

This Idea Will Change The Way You Organize Your Time

By Carmen Coker

A popular Zen parable tells of a Wanderer who happened upon a raging river. He wanted to cross it, but there was no bridge.

Afraid to wade across the river on foot with such a strong current, he spent hours building his own raft from vines and trees, which ultimately carried him safely to the other side.

However, once across the river, he thought to himself: “This is a good raft; I might need it again if I must forge another river.”

So the Wanderer carried the raft with him for the rest of his life.

The Big Reveal

From the outside looking in, the Wanderer’s decision might seem ridiculous. Why would this obviously resourceful guy carry a heavy raft around when he didn’t need to do so?

Often times, we make this same decision in our own life. In doing so, we hang on to something that was useful at one point but has since become irrelevant clutter.

Now, your “rafts” may come in various shapes and forms – maybe it’s too many commitments, maybe it’s a poor-fit household routine, or maybe it’s too much stuff. No matter, the underlying question remains the same: Is this clutter in your schedule, in your work, in your life holding you back?

The Ins & Outs

It’s important to be fiercely protective of not only your time and how you spend it, but also your space and what you bring into it. Wise decisions about your time and space allow you to preserve these precious resources, whereas foolish decisions can do just the opposite.

No one wants to play the fool! So to help you make those wise decisions – and help you release the “rafts” that are taking over your calendar, wasting your time, and diminishing your space – answer these five questions:

1. What areas of my home/work life could benefit from systems like checklists, automation, etc?

2. What commitments no longer support my top priorities and should be erased from my calendar?

3. Where does clutter stop me from enjoying and/or fully utilizing my home/office space, and how can the clutter be removed?

4. Where do I waste time and/or procrastinate throughout the day, and how can I stop doing so?

5. What are the biggest things about my life that I/my family complain about, and how can I/we smartly resolve these issues?

The Bottom Line

“Rafts” that clutter your mind, your time, and your space (amongst others!) are all stumbling blocks to your best life. A highly organized and productive person understands that doing less and having less often means creating more time and space for the things that truly matter.

So…where can you remove clutter that may be hindering your quality of life?

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, The Washington Post and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Going Vertical

By Naomi Cook

Ah …college graduation time – no more classes, no more books! I remember what a great time in life that was – no obligations (for the moment, anyway) and lots of celebration! Plus, I was finally able to check out of that cramped concrete cube that was my bedroom, closet, office, living room and kitchen all rolled up into one! Add in a roommate and I think to myself now, “How did I ever survive?!”

Wherever you live now, when it comes to organization, go back to thinking like a college student. Floor space is limited, but as the typical ceiling height of most rooms is 8 feet (at least!) take a look at all of the available wall space in your home.

Yes, walls aren’t just for artwork and tiny shelves holding grandma’s knick knacks…they are valuable real estate in any home. One of the first things I bought for my apartment after college was a 6 foot by 6 foot bookcase, which is divided up into 25 cubbies. It is still the best investment I ever made.

fpQT15K3The bookcase is now in my dining room and it has become invaluable for holding books and magazines, light bulbs, office supplies, and much more! Some of these items don’t need to be seen and are covered by 3 table runners to add visual interest and a pop of color. All that and it takes up barely any room!

Technology has helped tremendously and now laptops don’t require desks, unlike the big old desktop computers (a.k.a. beige dinosaurs!) of years ago. Stereo systems have been replaced by iPods, and tube televisions have given way to wall mounted flat screens. Here are some other inexpensive ideas for going vertical throughout your home:

Shelves are one of the simplest ways to go vertical. Use them for media in your living room, cookbooks in your kitchen and spare towels in the bathroom.

Hooks are another great idea, and these days you can find plenty to fit your style and color scheme. Use them to display your costume jewelry and handbags in the bedroom, mugs in the kitchen and hair dryer in the bathroom.

Door Organizers are perhaps my favorite way to go vertical. Without any need for power tools, you can slip them right over a door! Use ones with pockets for belts and shoes in the bedroom and small items in the pantry and bathroom. Use ones with hooks to set out your clothes for the next day in the bedroom and extra coats and umbrellas in a closet.

Whatever methods you choose, enjoy your home and design it as a reflection of you…and for goodness sake please throw away that blacklight poster!

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When To-Do Lists Don’t Work

By Carmen Coker

Generally speaking, a list is a good thing because …

When you write a list, it helps you focus. When you follow a list, it keeps you on track and moving toward list completion. And when you cross off list items, you feel productive.

And yet, despite proven results and positive qualities, lists don’t always work for everyone, every time because …

When you have to make a list, it means you have lots to accomplish. When you have lots to accomplish, you suddenly don’t want to do anything but sit on your couch, watch TV, and eat ice cream.

In other words, making a list is making you procrastinate. At this point, you’ve entered into a mind-game between your lazy self and your productive self, and your lazy self is winning!

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I encourage you to fight back by creating a NOT To-Do List to help you get organized.

The NOT To-Do List is exactly as the name implies – a list of things you do not want to do.

For example …

The Not To-Do List for Housekeeping

  • Throw shoes by the front door
  • Let mail pile up on the kitchen counter
  • Forget to file bills at the end of month

The NOT To-Do List for Time Management

  • Hit the “snooze” button on the alarm more than once
  • Check email more than 2 times per day
  • Turn on TV while getting ready for work

With the NOT To-Do List, you’re giving your lazy self permission to be lazy while, at the same time, giving your productive self permission to get things done.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

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

Make Your Pinterest Boards More Than Just Wishful Thinking

In just a short time, Pinterest has grown from a novelty to the norm with more than 70 million users. We use it to track things we’d like to have, recipes we’d like to try, outfits we’d like to wear, crafts we’d like to re-create, and workouts that might help us with those trouble spots. And that’s just the beginning. But at the end of the day, isn’t Pinterest just a creative list of website bookmarks—a fancy list of things to try?

63475_1lrgcase (1)Creating Pinterest boards is enjoyable, but the board isn’t the actual goal. Eventually we want to bring some of that creativity into our everyday lives. Sometimes adding that creativity is as simple as purchasing a clever hanging organizer, or striking shoe rack. But other times that creative touch requires time and effort—even planning.

If you’re ready to take something from your Pinterest board and make it a reality, we have a few suggestions to help ensure it’s a success.

Plan First

Creative projects always take time—usually more than you think you’ll need, so set aside time in your planner for your project. Decide how much time your activity will require, whether it’s decorations for a child’s room or an outdoor pergola, then double it. (My outdoor pergola was supposed to take two weekends, but because I was working alone and had limited time, it took 4 months.)

Make Lists

It’s important to keep track of your project with lists. You’ll want a list of required items, list of tools, and perhaps a list of expenses. You may want to break your lists into segments for larger projects.

Work With Friends

Projects are more fun when they’re shared. Find ways to include your children or other friends and family members, and turn your fun activity into a group party. This is also very helpful when you realize you aren’t going to finish your project in the time allotted. Friends and family can act as motivation to keep at it, or if the project turns out to be more than you bargained for, they can be the perfect intervention to protect you from your overgrown ambition.

Pace Yourself

Remember that some of the things you find on Pinterest are created by professionals. You may require more time, money, help, or expertise to complete your dream project. Don’t worry if your creative endeavor takes longer than expected or ends up looking different than you planned. Taking the effort to do a project is often the best way to learn something new. Acting on your goals is never wasted time.

Know Your Limits

If you find the perfect flower garden, patio, or bedroom makeover but know that it’s beyond your abilities, don’t stress. Instead of setting aside time and resources to do it yourself, you can make a goal to pay a professional. Keep your goals in your planner and track your savings until you can finally pay for that dream project. After all saving your money and paying for the job is still a huge accomplishment.

We love Pinterest. It’s a great way to keep track of your favorite aspirations, but actually working to accomplish those goals is even more rewarding.

How To Double Your Storage Space For Organizing

By Carmen Coker

Isn’t it amazing how you can look at something every day and not see what’s really there?

A few years ago, I was going to lunch with a friend, and we were stopped at a traffic light behind a delivery truck. My friend randomly asked me if I noticed anything strange about the logo on the truck.

Immediately, sensing a trick question, I searched to find something different … out of the ordinary … obvious. I couldn’t come up with a single idea.

(Here, you give it a try – it’s FedEx.)

Never one to back down from a challenge, I guessed: the colors? The size? The style? No, no, and no.

I was out of guesses! It was a logo I had seen countless times on boxes, trucks, and airplanes. In theory, I should have been able to see a difference, but at that moment, the logo appeared the same as it always had … and so I relented.

Grinning mischievously, my friend told me to look directly between the last two letters of the logo, or the “e” and the “x.”

FedEx

And there it was – the shape of an arrow, hidden in plain sight between the letters.

Many times, your usable or extra space can act like that arrow – in full view yet unnoticed, and thus, unused. Aside from the obvious option of de-cluttering, here are three simple ways to double your storage space for organizing:

1.      Change your spatial perspective.

Problem: During your waking hours, you generally observe your living space from a vertical angle, either standing or sitting. Doing so limits the imprint of your environment in your mind’s eye.

Solution: Grab a cushion for your head and lay down on the floor for five minutes, taking the time to focus on everything from floor to ceiling and corner to corner. Does scrutinizing from a horizontal angle allow you to see storage capacity where you didn’t previously? (It also might help you to do this with a spouse or friend for a second opinion.)

2.      Check your familiarity at the door.

Problem: If you agree with the saying “familiarity breeds contempt,” then you can appreciate that, if you experience a certain living area day in and day out, you tend to see what you want to see (I don’t have enough room!) instead of seeing the true storage potential of the space itself.

Solution: Move something substantial to a new spot, like switching your computer from the left side to the right side of your desk. Leave it there, and repeat this step with a new item for five days in a row. By the fifth day, the small acts of rearranging will have a large impact how you view the space – and storage possibilities – around you.

3.      Look up and over.

Problem: 80% of everyday organizing is accomplished downwards from 3-4 feet high. Think: baskets on the floor, drawers in the dresser, cabinets in the bathroom, and containers under the bed.

Solution: While lower-level storage is important and should be fully utilized, there is a lot of storage room at higher levels, too – walls, ceilings, rafters, and doors. Ensure you are not ignoring the upper spaces that are readily available to you.

WARNING! If you are thinking something like a wall is a wall is a wall – not more storage, then consider the discovery process this way. When an oil prospector finds oil, it’s a given that the oil is under the surface of the earth and that it has to be drilled and refined in order to become a usable resource. Such is often the same when you discover storage space! It’s there. It just has to be “tapped” by using proper storage and organizing solutions.

How about tripling or quadrupling your storage space? To learn more, go here http://bit.ly/GetTotallyOrganized now. In this free webinar, award-winning professional organizer Carmen Coker will show you how to say goodbye to clutter and finally create the home and life you desire (and deserve)!

The Top 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Get Organized

By Carmen Coker

Getting organized means…quality of life…high levels of energy and productivity…creating space in your home and life for the things that really matter…being fully present. Getting organized is a huge part of being all you can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and more.

Given these amazing benefits, what’s stopping you from getting organized? Here are the TOP 5 reasons why you can’t get organized:

1 – Can’t break free from the daily grind

Whether you’ve got one small organizing project to tackle, or you’re looking to organize your entire house, the question becomes: “How do I fit in organizing in between breakfast and morning meetings…diapers and dinner…laundry and housekeeping…Scandal and bedtime?”

Being perpetually trapped in the day-to-day could mean another year (or two, three, or more) passes you by – and still you are no closer to your organizing goals.

2 – Not being prepared for common situations

There are some spots that need organizing regularly, like mail, toys, and clothes. I bet if I ask you to list off the clutter hot spots in your home or the ways in which you waste time, you could list them 1, 2, 3 – without much thought.

You likely know the moments that make you disorganized, and if you let them, these moments will continue to steal away your hope of getting organized.

3 – Not connected to your why-power

Just saying “I want to get organized” will not sustain you. Why? It shows that you are interested in enjoying the many positives that organizing affords, but you aren’t 100% committed to doing what it takes to fully realize those positives in your own life.

If getting organized – whether it’s your kitchen or your attic or your files – is not connected to your why-power (aka your deepest motivator), then you’ll easily fall off the get-organized wagon.

4 – Don’t know what you don’t know

In order for getting organized to work for you, you need a complete organizing system, or know-how. Know-how generally consists of more than just tips like “to organize your shelves do this”. These are what I call surface tips, since they tend to repair the surface of things, and often just for a short time.

If you don’t have the know-how or don’t have access to the know-how, then getting organized can be an uphill climb.

5 – Too many negative influencers

Negative influencers are anyone or anything that hinders your organizing progress, either intentionally or unintentionally (spouse, kids, parents, pets). Despite your best efforts to get and stay organized, these guys just get in the way.

Not understanding how to deal with negative influencers will have nothing but a negative effect on your organizing success.

Did you know…there are not just five reasons why people can’t get organized – there are 26 total? Good news! All of the reasons can be easily fixed. To learn more, go here http://bit.ly/GetTotallyOrganized now. Let me show you how to say goodbye to clutter and finally create the home and life you desire (and deserve)!

Solve This Productivity Riddle and Save 10+ Hours of Time, Every Time

by Carmen Coker

Riddle me this: What is something that is no-cost to do, but if not done, is very costly? Hint: the answer has to do with time management, goal setting, and being productive in your home, work, and life.

The Big Reveal

If you answered “plan,” then you are close. If you answered “planning,” then you are spot-on! While the former is important, it shouldn’t be confused with or used in lieu of the latter.

Reason being, plans are pretty. Plans make us feel productive. Plans are what people should have. Life plan – check! Career plan – check! Weekend plan – check!

The problem is this: a plan easily becomes stagnant and outdated. More often than not, as soon as a plan is created, it is in need of revision, even though it may be just days (or hours) old and even though a lot of time and effort likely went into the making of.

Planning, on the other hand, is dynamic. It is the action to a plan’s inaction, and it always moves you and your life forward.

This is a vital distinction that successful people have been making for years. Case in point: Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was one of only five U.S. Army officers to ever wear five stars (and, oh yeah, who was also the 34th U.S. President), once explained: “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

The Ins & Outs

In any endeavor, not just in battle, Eisenhower’s words ring true. Planning is a powerful tool to improve your life – and it’s free. There’s no reason not to do it.

But, hold up! Who has time to throw in a bit of planning in between breakfast and morning meetings…diapers and dinner…Scandal and bedtime?

In the day-to-day of life, planning becomes one of the first things to fall to the bottom of the to-do list. And, if we’re totally honest here, sometimes it falls off the to-do list completely!

However, if you consider that a SINGLE hour of planning saves TEN hours of doing, then the avoidance of planning altogether drains more time than the actual planning itself. Phew! It seems you really do have time for planning after all.

Now that you’ve solved this productivity riddle, here are five ways to become a power-planner:

1 – Make it real.

Allow for a planning morning or afternoon at least once a quarter, and in advance, schedule these as non-negotiable appointments on your calendar. (Yeah, you “know it.” But…do you “do it”?) This step not only sets a positive intention, but it also turns planning from a nice thought into a new reality.

2 – Own it – loud and proud.

When you keep something to yourself, it’s easy to get away with…doing nothing. Tell someone – your spouse, your best friend, or your personal assistant – that the planning process is now a top priority for you.  Saying so aloud to this person should keep you honest.

3 – Take inspired action.

If you doubt its potential, then the planning process won’t ever seriously happen or create fruitful results for you. Read the autobiography of any influential person you admire – no doubt, planning will be part of their recipe for success. Let their example, in turn, reframe how you look at planning and what it can do for your personal growth.

4 – Bring in the heavy weights.

Planning on your own can have low impact. Ask mentors or trusted friends to get involved and mastermind the planning process with you. They will not only introduce new ideas but also challenge you to reach higher than, if left to your own devices, you would ever dare.

5 – Filter, filter, filter.

Infuse your personal priorities into the planning process. Put up a list of your top priorities for everyone to see, and filter all planning concepts through this list. Trusting your priorities is the way to avoid chasing poor-fit opportunities and getting off-track – and wasting time and productivity as a result.

The Bottom Line

Never underestimate the power of planning. A highly productive person uses planning as a secret weapon to save time, exceed goals, and “get stuff done”!

So…how can you leverage planning to improve your home and life?

 

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

What Aristotle Exposed About Getting Organized

Aristotle once said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

It’s hard to argue with Aristotle, one of the greatest scientists and philosophers the world has ever seen. It’s even harder to argue, given that his very name means “the best purpose.” Indeed, his advice encourages you to be the best that you can be.

I’d like to take this example of Aristotle’s logic a step further by changing “excellence” to “organizing.” (Here’s hoping he won’t mind me taking a little creative license!)

So…let me ask you: Is your life full of chaos and clutter, or order and serenity? Your answer reveals what you repeatedly do.

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Need perpetual inspiration? Download the above graphic here for your personal use.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, apply for a complimentary 60-minute Get-Organized Strategy Session today!

10 Tips for Surviving and Thriving This Holiday Season

By Patty Gardner

The holidays can be tricky for people who are already on a tight budget with their time, money and stress level.  I know I already have more to do than I can possibly do during the rest of the year and the holidays just about push me over the edge.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  There are things we can do to survive and even thrive during this holiday season.  So without further ado, let’s get started:

1.       There are SO many things you could do during the holidays, and most likely, your schedule won’t allow you to do all of them.  So before you get started, CHOOSE what activities are most important to you and schedule them in.  Decide which activities are the LEAST important and mark them off the list.  You can’t do everything so decide ahead of time what you will do.

2.       Skip what you can.  Just because you’re invited to something doesn’t mean you have to go.  Since there are more than enough activities to choose from, skip what you can so you can focus on the things you really want to do.

3.       If you like shopping for Christmas presents at the stores, then schedule shopping time.  If you don’t, do as much shopping as possible on-line.  But do it soon so you’ll be sure to get your gifts on time.

4.       If you’re attending or hosting parties, don’t be ashamed to buy food pre-made.  Yes, homemade is usually better but you can only do what you can do.  If you’re short on time and energy, buy it at the store!  There’s no shame in that.

5.       Do the minimum on the house.  Yes, I actually said skip the housecleaning – but not all of it!  Straighten, vacuum, keep the bathroom(s) clean and clean the kitchen as you go.  If you spill something, clean it immediately.  If you get something out, put it away.  But if time is short, don’t worry about a lot of cleaning.  Just do the minimum.  You can catch up when the holidays are over.

6.       Cook easy meals.  Use your crock pot whenever you can.  Here are some ideas:

  • Spaghetti & meat sauce w/frozen garlic bread
  • Tacos
  • Deli sandwiches with chips
  • Pancakes, Fried Eggs & Bacon
  • Chili

7.       Don’t pack your activities in too tight.  If you already have an event for one evening, don’t try to plan something else that day, too.  It’s tempting to schedule events back to back, but don’t do it.  That will definitely stress you out.

8.       Allow down time.  You want to get through the holidays with your sanity so schedule time just to relax.  It might be hard to fit it in, but it’s important.  It can be time for just you or time with the family.  But don’t go, go, go – unless that’s what you like.

9.       Don’t start something new!  If you’re thinking about making big changes to one of your systems (planner, cleaning schedule, etc.), DON’T.  Wait until January when things are slower.  Even if your life is busy all the time, January will still be slower than December.

10.     Don’t skip the things that are important in an effort to save time.  I’m talking about basics like your spiritual life, your sleep, good food, time with family, exercise.  You think you’ll save time by skipping these but in the end they cost you much more than you gained.

So which one of these do you need to put into practice in order to thrive this holiday season?

10 Easy Ways to Get More Organized Today

How long have you been telling yourself that you need to get more organized? Honestly. A month? A year? A decade? A lifetime?

No matter how long you have been tolerating clutter in your home and life, you will likely agree that:

  • Nothing good comes from clutter – only chaos, stress, frustration, loss, pain, wastefulness, hassles, and ineffectiveness.
  • Any amount of time is too long to struggle with clutter and the ill-effects it has on your space, time, mind, energy, money, and more.
  • You can get started today, removing clutter and making space for the more important things in life.

If you are like most, acknowledging the above factors is easy; acting upon them, especially the last one, isn’t.

You may explain away your inaction with: I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money. It’s too hard. I’m too overwhelmed. I’ve gotten by so far, so what’s the point? Even so, the reality won’t change – tomorrow, you will either be one day closer to your organizing goals and the home and life you desire, or one day further away.

It’s time to face the stories you are telling yourself about getting organized and set your excuses aside. Here are 10 action items that will help you get more organized today – in less than 20 minutes!

  1. Pick one chore that you’ve been doing but that could be done by another person, like a spouse, older child, or assistant – then delegate it. Permanently. Doing so will free up some “me” time or…some time to get organized!
  2. Consolidate half-full bottles of cleaning or laundry supplies. Doing so will free up extra space in your cabinets and on your shelves.
  3. Create a project/task to-do list for something for which you’ve been procrastinating. Doing so will make you feel as if you are getting things done, and boy – isn’t that a good feeling?
  4. Go through your kitchen fridge/freezer and toss any expired food, beverages, or condiments. Doing so will inspire you to restock with some big-energy foods that will help you be über-productive.
  5. Open your mail that’s been piling up, recycle or shred what isn’t needed, and file the rest away. Doing so will help you finally get rid of that nagging task that has to get done anyway!
  6. Remove three pieces of clothing from your closet that have seen their better days, and recycle them. Doing so will help tidy up your closet – and help Mother Earth.
  7. Clean out your purse or briefcase, making it more orderly. Doing so will make your day lighter!
  8. Choose a never-before-used recipe from a cookbook and plan a healthy, home-cooked meal for this week. Doing so is like milk…it does the body good! (Psst! That’s the most important part of finding life balance.)
  9. Start writing your Christmas cards early, before the season catches you off guard. Doing so will make your friends and family insanely jealous that you have got it so “together”!
  10. Schedule an appointment you’ve been putting off, like one with your hairdresser, auto shop, or doctor. Doing so will help you feel like you are finally getting back on track.

Pick one to do today, or do them all over the next week. Either way, you will feel more energized and organized!

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

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Welcome Back Organized October

It’s that time of year again. Time to make one giant organizing push before the holidays begin. We call it Organized October—it’s a month dedicated to organization of all types.OO landing page

We’ve posted our Organized October Calendar with tips, ideas, and product suggestions to help you get the most out of each crisp October day. You’ll find excellent ideas from our full family of sites, helping you bring an element of order and serenity into your life. (At least, that’s our hope.)

Schedule a time in your planner each day to spend organizing or re-organizing different aspects of your life—whether that’s your closet, a desk drawer, or your morning routine. Our Organized October Calendar offers daily tips to help, or you can come up with your own ideas.

For a great way to keep track of your month-long organizing blitz, download our new Autumn To-Do and Check Lists. They will help you keep track of your weekly errands, and remind you to participate in some great fall activities.

Contest: #OrganizedOctober

For each day of October we have an organization tip on our Organized October Calendar. Organize whatever the day’s tip tells you to do, post a picture of what you have organized and use the hashtag: #organizedoctober in your post.

Post your pictures on either Instagram and/or Facebook.

Each post is one entry. The more you post, the more entries you will have entered into the contest.

On November 1, 2014, one random winner will be selected to win the Autumn Organization Prize! This prize includes:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram (@franklin.planner). We will be looking for your results all month long!

Good Luck, and Happy October Organizing!

 

 

All You Need to Know About Time Management

When it comes to your life, would you categorize yourself as…

a. A highly effective person?

b. A moderately effective person?

c. A poorly effective person?

Now, here is the cold, hard truth about your answer, no matter which it may be: YOU CAN BE BETTER.

Granted, this very truth brings up the million-dollar question: how? The answer is simpler than you think! Better yet, the effects are immediate. Even better still, it is a rinse-and-repeat system that will take your time management and productivity skills to new heights.

The Big Reveal

In life, there are those individuals who are goal-setters and those who are goal-getters. A goal-
setter is someone who either likes the idea of or is very good at setting goals, but doesn’t put the necessary actions behind them; as such, the goals never come to life and remain well-meaning (but worthless) words on paper. On the other hand, a goal-getter doesn’t just set and believe in goals, but also has the follow-through to achieve them.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey wrote about the secret of goal-getters in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”

A-ha! Much of what comes into your day – emails, text messages, phone calls, meetings, snail mail, conversations – they are just vehicles for other people’s priorities in your life. If you always schedule in all that “stuff” first, then there is no room for your own priorities, goals, and dreams.

The Ins & Outs

This is the very reason why you should trust your priorities to help you make decisions, infuse your priorities into your daily routines, and stick to your priorities, no matter what challenges you face. In the end, doing so is the best way to avoid common time-sinks like lack of focus and procrastination.

Here are three guidelines to defining your priorities and becoming a goal-getter who is the envy of everyone around you:

1 – Deep down, you are driven by a set of core values and principles. For example, maybe you are motivated by faith, family, excellence, independence, love, power, honesty, wealth – or maybe a mixture of. From the get-go, decide what these values are. They will set the tone for your goal-getting success.

2 – Brainstorm the wish list of objectives that you would like to accomplish, either in the short-term or long-term. Next, break this wish list down into projects and tasks.

3 – Calendar out the projects and tasks in order of importance and also set a date for project completion.

REMEMBER: act as the gatekeeper for your time. Before putting anything on your schedule, ask if it will support your priorities – fully, partially, or not at all. While there will be surprises and unavoidable hiccups here and there, stick to your schedule as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

Your priorities act as your internal compass, helping you to stay focused, make clear decisions, and feel balanced and fulfilled. A highly productive person uses his/her values to guide every step, including how and where to spend time.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

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The Lost Productivity Secret

By Carmen Coker

If you could have a conversation with the late Steve Jobs, right here and now, and he offered you the key to productivity and success – would you listen to his advice?

Why wouldn’t you?! Every era has their icon, and one could easily argue that Mr. Jobs was the king of the computer age, and beyond. His ideas revolutionized the world in which we live. Sadly, he was taken before his time, as many of the great ones are. But he was, in fact, generous enough to leave us with his productivity rule of thumb. So…listen up!

The Big Reveal

When asked the reason for Apple’s achievement and innovation, Steve Jobs explained: “It comes from saying ‘no’ to a thousand things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.”

Doing too much seems to be part of modern life. Every day offers new chances, friendships, challenges, and ideas. Indeed, the world is a creative, exciting – and busy – place to be.

But are you letting these explorations, if you will, distract you from the most important thing? From making forward progress? From being truly great?

The Ins & Outs

The word “no” is the most powerful weapon in your productivity and time management armory. It’s simple, and it’s free – a true win-win. The problem is that many people find it difficult to say it for many reasons like: maybe you’ll seem rude, maybe the proposition feeds your ego (if you’re honest about it), maybe you feel pressure from others, maybe…the list goes on.

Here are three guidelines to ensure you can say “no, thank you” when you need to most:

1 – Clearly define your vision and priorities.

While this may seem like an oh-yeah fact, human beings often lack mindfulness about these very fundamentals when making decisions, and this can quickly cause a loss of focus. [Tip] It’s vital to separate your vision and priorities into primary, secondary, and tertiary levels, going from most important to least important. Keep a master list beside your desk, in your planner, or on your mobile for reference at any time.

2 – Use your vision and priorities to strictly screen all opportunities.

In the busyness of life, sometimes the day-to-day overwhelms the big picture. [Tip] Review your vision and priorities daily to keep them top-of-mind, plus constantly utilize them to screen decisions, big or small, about what you purchase, how to use your time, what projects you allow, and more. Weigh each opportunity according to whether or not it supports your primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. If it doesn’t, then mark it off the list.

3 – Have your no-can-do response ready.

When other parties are involved and demanding answers, it’s not uncommon for individuals to be at a loss as to how to send regrets in a genuine and honest way. [Tip] To avoid bumbling and why-did-I-say-that moments, create and memorize a simple script like: “Thank you for thinking of me. I’d love to support you, but I am unable to right now due to other obligations and priorities. Keep me in mind for next time, ok?”

The Bottom Line

Say “yes” to only those experiences that let your vision and priorities shine brightly. A highly productive person knows when and how to respectfully (and authentically) turn down anything that doesn’t sustain his/her values, goals, and dreams.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

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Wanna Get Organized? 4 Must-Do Steps

By Carmen Coker

You’ve vowed to finally transform your “clutter mountain” into a “clutter molehill.” Now that your mind is set, how do you successfully negotiate the ins and outs of getting organized?

(1) Have specific goals.

Don’t say: I want to get organized.

Do say: I want to organize my estate.

Speaking in generalities leads to doing in generalities – or no results. Take the time to make specific organizing goals so that you get the fabulous organizing results you deserve.

(2) Calendar it to make it real.

Don’t say: I’ll get to organizing the garage when I have time.

Do say: I need to schedule a day to organize my garage.

If you treat organizing like a regular appointment, you are more likely to take it seriously and follow through on your get-organized goals.

(3) Focus on one thing.

Don’t say: This week, I’m going to overhaul my kitchen, organize my files, get ready for taxes, clean out my closet, update my address book, re-do my schedule…

Do say: This week, I’m going to organize my tax paperwork.

If you try to take on too many organizing projects, you will surely fail. Focus on one task, and one task only, until it is complete. And let that success, as little or big as it may be, propel you onward.

(4) Have a positive attitude.

Don’t say: Organizing my closet? Yikes! I don’t know if I can…

Do say: Organizing my closet? I’m ready! I’ll save so much time getting dressed each morning…

Your thoughts channel real power to help you achieve your organizing milestones – so think positively not only about the process but also the end result, and put those brain waves to good use!

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

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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

 

5 Easy Closet Organizing Ideas

By Carmen Coker

Where is it?! You shout as you dig deeper. You tear into drawers, look behind doors, and peer under the bed to see if it is hiding among the dust bunnies.

It’s just another typical morning, where you are racing against the clock and searching for the ever-elusive finishing piece that will bring your outfit together – belt, shoes, purse, shirt.

You are not alone! In fact, the average woman spends almost one year of her life rifling through the closet to find the perfect ensemble for work, nights out, vacations, and other activities. If you would like to rewrite this statistic in your life and use that one year for something more important, then here are five easy closet organizing ideas to help you do just that.

 

PROBLEM: Your closet is jam-packed.

EASY CLOSET ORGANIZING IDEA: If you can’t see your favorite little black dress, you won’t wear it. To motivate and inspire you to downsize, adopt a charity – one that benefits from your donations and in which you strongly believe.

 

PROBLEM: You can’t decide what, in your closet, to get rid of.

EASY CLOSET ORGANIZING IDEA: Only 20% of your closet includes go-to items that you wear again and again. To remove the dead weight and give your closet room to breathe, focus on the remaining 80% that you rarely, if ever, wear.

 

PROBLEM: You feel overpowered by the mess in your closet.

EASY CLOSET ORGANIZING IDEA: It’s hard to wrap your head around getting organized when you are staring at a wall of clutter. To remedy the overwhelm and pinpoint a starting point, separate your closet into small blocks, and using a top-down approach, organize one block at a time.

 

PROBLEM: You don’t know how to organize your closet properly.

EASY CLOSET ORGANIZING IDEA: Organizing systems are best defined by your own habits and routines. To determine how to organize, think about how you naturally look for items in your closet or decide what to wear – by color, type, season, or activity – then arrange your closet accordingly.

 

PROBLEM: You’re not confident that you can keep your closet organized for more than a week.

EASY CLOSET ORGANIZING IDEA: Staying organized is about keeping organization top-of-mind. To maintain your get-organized goals, create and stick to a closet mantra like “one thing in, one thing out” or “1-1-1” (donate one bag of clothes on the first day of the first month of the year).

 

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

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Menu Planner

Organizing your meals and shopping lists will allow you to track how much food you are actually buying. Tracking the amount you’re buying versus the amount you’re using will save you time and money in the end.

This Menu Planner is the perfect way to help you plan out your meal for the week and track what you actually need to buy for each meal.

FranklinPlanner Menu Planner

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Easy Organizing Challenge: Consolidate

By Carmen Coker

Click here to download and print off your motivational poster.

What do ketchup, hairspray, and cleaning wipes have in common? They are just three of many everyday household items that tend to exist in half-empty states, often with their “twin” nearby.

So…instead of one full ketchup bottle, you have two partially-filled ones. Instead of one hairspray, locked and loaded, you have three that individually are a weak shot. Instead of one brimming container of cleaning wipes, you have four in various states of emptiness.

Sometimes, your home can become like a proverbial Noah’s Ark, where you bring in and store things two by two. Your Easy Organizing Challenge is to go through your home – check bags, boxes, bottles, and bins – to find candidates for consolidation. Ask yourself: where can two (or more) become one?

If you need some quick ideas, here are common offenders: liquid soaps, shampoos, hair styling products, lotions, facial cleansers, medications, makeup, cleaning solutions, detergents, paints, alcohol, condiments, dressings, sauces, beverages, cereals, snacks, chips, crackers, and cheeses. However, this is not an all-inclusive list!

Warning: There are times when you legitimately need two or more of something because you are stocking up or like to have a reserve. That’s not the issue here – focus on where you have two or more parts of the same thing, parts that can easily combine to make a whole.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

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Gussy Up Your Guest Room

By Naomi Cook

You may have seen or read about Kmart’s latest commercial for the holidays…no, not for Halloween, but for Christmas!  Airing in Mid-September, it touts that now is the best time to start buying those holiday gifts through their layaway program.

Taking their cue, let’s talk about getting your home ready for those overnight guests that will most likely be starting to arrive around Thanksgiving.  You have the time now to get that guest room ready and not be rushing around.  Perhaps your guest room performs multiple duties as an office, an extra closet and general catch-all area for things that you don’t know what to do with at the time!  Take a bit of time each week to get things cleared out and organized and you’re guest room will be sitting pretty, just waiting for that first guest to arrive.

Don’t worry about perfection; just consider the needs of your guests and follow the 4 easy steps below:

Clear the surfaces – If you have a dresser in the guest room, take off all of the tchotchkes and either store them temporarily away in one of the drawers, or consider if any of them can be donated.  Go through the drawers as well; keeping a drawer or two empty for your guests, keeping their pajamas and socks in mind.  If you have a desk in the guest room, gather up your papers and file them or if they are no longer needed, shred them.

Clear the closet – As this may be a space for storing clothes overflowing from your main closet, take a close look at these items and figure out if you really wear them anymore.  By parting with some pieces, you will automatically have left some inches on the closet rod for your guests to hang their dressier items.

Clear the bed – Of course your guests will need a place to sleep, so take everything off of the bed.  If there are items like boxes from small appliances that were just tossed in the room, break them down and put them in the recycling bin.  For everything else, take the items to the room that they belong in.  Of course you will want to wash the sheets and blankets too!

Clear the floor – Pick up anything that has landed on the floor like grocery bags or paper clips and give it a good sweeping or run with the vacuum.

Now that wasn’t too hard was it?  Finish the room off with a nice basket including sets of rolled up towels, travel size toiletries like shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste and leave a mint on the pillow!   Offering turn down service is up to you!

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The Secret To Becoming A Productivity Superstar

By Carmen Coker

There’s likely not a day that goes by where you, or someone around you, comments on how time flies or time is money.  It’s a given that you know how important time is, but … how do you make the most of it?

Traditional productivity strategies tend to emphasize “getting things done” through managing lists, goals, priorities, plans, and calendars. Indeed, all those facets of productivity are important and should not be discounted.

But there are multiple components to productivity – physical, mental, emotional – and these traditional productivity strategies often overlook something, without which, your productivity will remain low … unsatisfactory … broken.

And that something is: ENERGY MANAGEMENT.

If you are unable to manage your energy, the hard truth is that all the productivity strategies in the world will not help you. Maintaining high to moderately high energy levels isn’t difficult, you simply must find the best ways in which your body responds. For example:

1) EATwise
Garbage in, garbage out. It’s no secret that what you ingest into your body has a direct correlation to your drive and output. So, step away from the chips and soda …

2) SLEEPwise
Your energy levels today start the night before. Make sure you go to bed early enough to get the right amount of ZZZ’s you need.

3) BREAKwise
It is believed that Einstein conceived the theory of relativity while riding his bicycle. Research backs up this example – skipping break time actually decreases your productivity and creativity.

4) MINDwise
Safeguard what gets into your head because that will influence your attitude. As much as possible, avoid negative people, vibes, or news, and surround yourself with positive people and environments.

5) SPACEwise
Clutter zaps your energy on a subconscious level, whether you realize it or not. Keeping a tidy space will free up the energy once consumed by clutter for other more important things.

REMEMBER: don’t be deceived by the simplicity of the above suggestions. When used in combination with traditional productivity strategies like list-making and prioritizing, you will reach productivity superstardom!

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.
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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

Regular Office Cleaning Makes The Job Easy

I once worked with an engineer who had used the same office for his entire career and was near retirement. His personal mode of organization: Piles. He had a wrap-around desk covered with stacks of paper three feet high. Along with that, he had commandeered a long folding table and placed it near his office door. That, too, was piled at least 3 feet high with papers. So from the outside looking in, I could never tell if he was at his desk. I had to walk into the office and follow the path around the loaded table and into his buried workspace. I often wondered if being surrounded by an entire career’s worth of work gave him anxiety or a sense of accomplishment.

Surprisingly, if you asked for information about any project he’d worked on, he’d find it in 40 minutes or less-without messing up any of his stacks.

Like all things, offices tend toward chaos awfully fast. It doesn’t take long to find yourself buried in paper like my friend. The best solution is regular, consistent upkeep. If you set aside time each evening to clear your workspace, place papers into their proper folders, and file it all away, you’ll always start your day with a clean desk and room to work.

Perhaps you don’t create a lot of clutter in a day. If cleaning your desk each evening seems like overkill, schedule a weekly cleaning. Be sure not to let more than a week pass before you organize your space. If too much time passes, the job starts to look daunting. That’s when we start to procrastinate, and then we really have problems. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen your desk, here are a few steps to help you find it.

Start with the drawers. If you haven’t cleaned your desk in a while there’s a good chance that some of the things in your drawers are outdated. Perhaps you can throw some things out to make room for the stuff on your desk. It’s difficult to find things in an over-crowded drawer.

Clear off the surfaces of your desk and shelves. Remember that your goal when cleaning a desk is to eliminate as much clutter as possible. Keep a recycle bin close at hand and toss out as many papers as you can. Organize the rest in hanging folders in your drawers. Label your folders in the front of the folder so you can quickly find your important papers later.

Use your walls. You’ll discover that your walls make a great place for organizing. Using shelves and hanging organizers can keep some of your workspace cleaner.

Clean everything. Now that you have open surfaces, wipe them down with a disinfectant. Hold your keyboard upside down and use canned air to blow it clean. Wipe your monitor clear of smudges and other gunk that tends to collect there. Use a disinfectant wipe on your keyboard, your coffee mug, your phone, even your writing instruments.

Maintain a regular cleaning schedule. Now that you’ve done the heavy lifting, make sure you never have to do it again. Consistent cleaning and organizing will eliminate hours of big projects later.

Is there something we’ve missed? We’d love to hear your suggestions.

 

 

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

How To Organize Your Kitchen Now

By Carmen Coker

As the saying goes, the kitchen is the heart of the home. But your kitchen can also be the heap of the home if you let clutter pile up! If you want to know how to organize your kitchen now, then here are five easy, low-cost ways to do just that:

1) Edit your counter space.

It’s so easy to put most of your appliances on the countertop. Doing this is totally understandable – you get quick access whenever you need something.

The problem? Most of us are true conformists to the 80/20 rule; 80% of what we keep, we never use. That includes 80% of the items in your kitchen! So look at what’s on top of your counters and ask yourself … does this really need to be there?

2) Out with the old and unnecessary.

You wouldn’t really eat stale crackers, would you? Then why are they in your kitchen? Get them – and all other old or expired foods – out of your cabinets, pantry, fridge, and freezer.

Of course, food isn’t the only thing that might have worn out its welcome. Donate any cookbooks or kitchen gadgets that haven’t been used in a year or more. Scrutinize any freebies you’ve nabbed recently, like sports squeeze bottles, beer koozies, and magnets. Truth be told, you likely didn’t need them in the first place, and you likely don’t need them now.

3) Let the W’s guide you.

Think about how you use your kitchen when you’re making dinner – more specifically, what do you use, and where or when do you use it during the cooking process. Separate your kitchen into distinct quadrants based on your kitchen habits (i.e. cooking, preparing, cleaning, storing) and then organize utensils and supplies accordingly.

4) Think outside-the-box … or in this case, outside the kitchen.

The kitchen is a high-traffic area, and often times, stuff from around the house will find its way in and start to pile up. Designate a bag, bin or basket for items that should not be in the kitchen. At the end of each day, have an assigned family member fill the container with non-kitchen items and carry them back to the room where they belong.

In addition, bulk foods purchases and items like fine china – which are used sparingly or only a few times a year – can be stored elsewhere in your home to free up more space in the kitchen.

5) Deal with paper before it becomes a problem.

Mail, bills, and other papers can easily clutter your countertop or table. One solution: hang large envelopes and label one per family member. Use these containers to distribute papers, mail, messages, etc. Another idea? Store take-out menus in a file folder and tuck the folder away in a drawer near the phone or inside the phone book.

Thanks for the great advice Carmen! 

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super OrganizedTM.

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Take Charge of The Garage

GearTie Tube Assortment by Nite IzeNow that the weather is warmer and the days are longer, you’ve finally got time to clean out the garage. If that doesn’t exactly excite you, think of how nice it will be to finally be able to park cars in it again.

The biggest problem most of us have with cleaning out the garage is that we expect it to take less time than it does, and we don’t have adequate storage solutions for the things we need to keep there. We know it’s a big job, so we tend to procrastinate doing it. The trouble is, the longer we wait, the bigger the mess becomes.

Most garages barely have enough room for your vehicles. If you intend to store anything else there, you need to get creative with space. Mounting shelves high in the garage is a good way to get things off the floor. Some people even mount storage units to their garage ceilings.

When you are creating storage space on the walls, remember that you’ll need to be able to walk past the storage units when you are getting in and out of your car. Hanging a pegboard on the wall is a great way to organize your tools because it keeps things flat against the wall.

Defining storage solutions for your garage is typically considered the final step to garage organization, but it’s something you should consider before you begin, so you can plan for them while you clean.

Empty

The first thing you need to do when your clean your garage is find it. Pull everything out of your garage and place it in piles on your driveway and lawn. If your piles make sense, it will be easier to get everything back where it goes later. You may choose to keep all your power tools in one pile, hand tools in another, pet supplies in another, etc.

Deep Clean

Sweep the floor, wipe down shelves, and make room for all the things that you’ll need to store in your garage.

Improve Storage Solutions

Panel Bin 9 Pocket by SafcoMake places for the things you can’t seem to control. If your outdoor cooking supplies tend to roam, make a container or designate shelf space just for them. Sometimes it helps to build more storage space. That’s why we mentioned it earlier. As you clean things out, you’ll want to consider the best ways to store and secure it. You may need to take a trip to the hardware store for building supplies or storage units. If you have a lot of small items that need to be organized, consider the Panel Bin 9 Pocket by Safco. It’s a great see-through way to store your stuff.

Consolidate and Move Items Back Into Your Garage

Before you return your things to the garage, decide if any of that stuff is junk. Throw away, recycle, or donate anything you don’t need, so you can maximize your space. Load up your newly created storage units in an orderly manner so you can quickly find what you need later. If you have extension cords, ropes, or other items that you need to secure, consider using Gear Ties by Nite Ize.  These reusable, durable twist ties will work wonders for all sorts of things.

Maintain

Now that your garage is clean and orderly, the best thing to do is to maintain what you’ve created. When you use a tool return it to its proper place. Periodically sweep the floor and wipe down shelves. As you do this, double check that things are in their proper place, so your garage won’t overwhelm you again.

 

 

Take Charge of The Garage

GearTie Tube Assortment by Nite IzeNow that the weather is warmer and the days are longer, you’ve finally got time to clean out the garage. If that doesn’t exactly excite you, think of how nice it will be to finally be able to park cars in it again.

The biggest problem most of us have with cleaning out the garage is that we expect it to take less time than it does, and we don’t have adequate storage solutions for the things we need to keep there. We know it’s a big job, so we tend to procrastinate doing it. The trouble is, the longer we wait, the bigger the mess becomes.

Most garages barely have enough room for your vehicles. If you intend to store anything else there, you need to get creative with space. Mounting shelves high in the garage is a good way to get things off the floor. Some people even mount storage units to their garage ceilings.

When you are creating storage space on the walls, remember that you’ll need to be able to walk past the storage units when you are getting in and out of your car. Hanging a pegboard on the wall is a great way to organize your tools because it keeps things flat against the wall.

Defining storage solutions for your garage is typically considered the final step to garage organization, but it’s something you should consider before you begin, so you can plan for them while you clean.

Empty

The first thing you need to do when your clean your garage is find it. Pull everything out of your garage and place it in piles on your driveway and lawn. If your piles make sense, it will be easier to get everything back where it goes later. You may choose to keep all your power tools in one pile, hand tools in another, pet supplies in another, etc.

Deep Clean

Sweep the floor, wipe down shelves, and make room for all the things that you’ll need to store in your garage.

Improve Storage Solutions

Panel Bin 9 Pocket by SafcoMake places for the things you can’t seem to control. If your outdoor cooking supplies tend to roam, make a container or designate shelf space just for them. Sometimes it helps to build more storage space. That’s why we mentioned it earlier. As you clean things out, you’ll want to consider the best ways to store and secure it. You may need to take a trip to the hardware store for building supplies or storage units. If you have a lot of small items that need to be organized, consider the Panel Bin 9 Pocket by Safco. It’s a great see-through way to store your stuff.

Consolidate and Move Items Back Into Your Garage

Before you return your things to the garage, decide if any of that stuff is junk. Throw away, recycle, or donate anything you don’t need, so you can maximize your space. Load up your newly created storage units in an orderly manner so you can quickly find what you need later. If you have extension cords, ropes, or other items that you need to secure, consider using Gear Ties by Nite Ize.  These reusable, durable twist ties will work wonders for all sorts of things.

Maintain

Now that your garage is clean and orderly, the best thing to do is to maintain what you’ve created. When you use a tool return it to its proper place. Periodically sweep the floor and wipe down shelves. As you do this, double check that things are in their proper place, so your garage won’t overwhelm you again.

 

 

Setting Boundaries for Your Small Business

How you organize your time, work space, and personal life are key ingredients to your small business’s success.

How successful you are in your chosen workspace depends on how well you’re able to set boundaries around your work life. If you previously worked for someone else, most of your working life was probably decided for you-what time to start work, where to sit, how your day is structured, and much more. When you work for yourself, it can feel liberating to set all of your rules-but rules are, nevertheless, still necessary.

Setting some basic boundaries around your work life will help your define your business. This is especially true if you work at home. Consider the following:

Space

  1. How will you set up your desk?
  2. If you work from home, how will you define your work area?
  3. What supplies do you need regularly, and how will you order them?

Time

  1. What are your work hours and days going to be?
  2. Are you going to work evenings or weekends?
  3. How much work do you want to take home with you?

Interruptions

  1. How will you deal with your kids wanting to play when you have an important project?
  2. Will you take personal phone calls during your work day?

Remember, it’s your business-you get to define how you want it to work. Think about what worked (and what didn’t) at your last job, and use that as a starting point for how you’d like your business to be set up.

Joshua Zerkel

All You Need To Know About Learning How To Be Organized & Letting Go

By Carmen Coker

A Zen parable tells of a wanderer who happened upon a river. He wanted to cross it, but there was no bridge. Afraid to wade across the river on foot, he spent hours building his own raft from vines and trees, which ultimately carried him safely to the other side.

However, once across the river, he thought to himself: This is a good raft; I might need it again if I must forge another river.

So the wanderer carried the raft with him for the rest of his life.

Consider the moral of this story for just a moment. From the outside looking in, this decision might seem utterly ridiculous. Why would this obviously resourceful guy carry a heavy raft around when he didn’t need to? But, often times, we do this same thing in our own lives. In fact, you may be carrying around a lot of “rafts”!

It’s not uncommon for people to hang on to an item that was useful at one point but has since become irrelevant clutter, because … what if I need this later?what if it would hurt someone’s feelings if I gave this away?what if I regret my decision? There are lots of “what ifs” that can bubble to the surface when you are thinking about getting rid of your things.

In a very basic sense, this powerful Zen parable teaches all you need to know about learning how to be organized and letting go. To start your journey toward living clutter-free, your organizing challenge is to purge five objects that no longer add value to your home, office, or life. Don’t carry these “rafts” when you don’t need to …

WARNING: It’s important not to allow yourself to get a mental block around five if it seems like a lot to you. You could toss five sticky notes, five pens that are out of ink, five pairs of holey socks, five magazines, five expired meds, five old emails. It really is that easy!

Declutter Bigger | Instead of trashing, recycling, or donating five items just this once, decide to do it once a week. You’ll be amazed at how much headway you make.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Thanks Carmen!

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Spring Cleaning – Keep It Clean

Who says spring-cleaning should stop when summer arrives? This spring, set up a great system for keeping your spaces clean. For your messiest spaces, like your kitchen and bathroom, store the appropriate cleaners nearby. Then when you see a mess, you won’t have to cross your house twice to clean it up. Maintaining a clean home is so much easier than waiting for the mess to pile up and facing it down.

Controlling Your (Small) Closet

Urban living is great – many of us are fortunate to live in beautiful, historic buildings that are just bursting with character. Another thing that’s bursting is our closets. With more clothing and belongings than ever before, it can be a constant struggle to find places to put all our “stuff,” especially in closets that were designed twenty-five, fifty, or a hundred years ago. Our lives, and our storage needs, are very different than our predecessors, yet if we want to live in a historic city, we have to devise ways to shoehorn our belongings into closets that were designed for wardrobes from a bygone era. But how do you fit a modern wardrobe into a Victorian-era closet? I’ve got a few ideas for you.

The first step is to get rid of what you don’t need – that way, you can see exactly what you need to find storage space for. One of the best ways to do this is to take everything out of your closet, and start sorting it into piles. I like to recommend that my clients create piles for “Keep” (things you definitely wear), “Sell” (things that you can probably make money by selling at used clothing stores), “Donate” (things that are usable but that you probably can’t sell), “Trash” (things that nobody will want or be able to use), and finally a “Don’t Know” pile, for things you’re not sure what to do with. The “Keep,” “Sell,” “Donate,” and “Trash” piles are pretty straightforward, but what about the “Don’t Know” pile?

“Don’t Know” is for items that you like, but never wear or use. If you really can’t part with that $300 dress that you never wore, and you can’t bear to give up those soccer cleats for that league you were planning on joining two years ago, put those items into a box, and seal the box with tape. If you haven’t opened the box to use those items in six months, it’s time to sell, donate or trash those items, because chances are you won’t be using them anytime soon.

So how do you store everything that went into your “Keep” pile effectively in your tiny San Francisco closet? The key is to maximize every available inch of storage space in the closet. Look up, look down, look all around, and you’ll find that there just might be a lot more potential storage space in your closet than you originally may have thought. I’m often surprised at just how much storage space there can be in a closet – you just have to be creative about how you use it.

For instance, if your closet has only one rod, you can gain 50% more storage space by hanging another rod. Closet rods are available inexpensively at local hardware stores, and if you don’t want to install one permanently, you can get a removable secondary rod that hangs down off of your primary rod (I often suggest these to renters). No space in your room for a traditional dresser? Try some plastic, stackable drawers that you can use to fit in the floor space under where your clothes hang. I highly recommend the transparent or semi-transparent drawers rather than the opaque ones, because it’s very convenient to be able to see what’s in your drawers without having to actually open them up. If you have shelves above your closet rod, you can fold and stack sweaters and shirts, or use the space for transparent shoe boxes, which stack nicely. Don’t ignore the space behind the closet door, which can be a great spot for hanging a shoe rack, accessories organizer, or for installing a hook to hang long items such as coats and dresses.

So if your closet is currently on overflow, don’t despair. Use a few tips that I’ve suggested, and your closet will soon be your friend.

Excellent organizing advice Josh, thanks for sharing! You can find more pro organizing solutions from Josh at Custom Living Solutions, or see more space-saving organizing solutions from FranklinCovey.

Joshua Zerkel

Spring Cleaning Motivation

All Purpose Surface Cleaner 16 oz by GrabGreenAs the cold, dreary winter months start fading away, the beauty outside starts to highlight the messes inside. It’s easy to notice, but it’s also easy to procrastinate your spring cleaning tasks with each new opportunity to get out of the house. Here are five tips to help you tackle your spring cleaning:

1. Plan It Out – the huge task of cleaning your whole home can seem daunting, but planning out how you’re going to clean one area at a time makes it seem easier. Make estimates for how long each room will take to clean, then plan them out over a day, a weekend, or a couple of weekends. Then as you clean, you can feel the accomplishment of finishing a room, even if there are more to come.

And to make sure your planning doesn’t stretch your spring cleaning into summer, set up a date for a garage sale. The deadline will help keep you focused on completing your projects.

BlueTooth Travel Speaker by Dakota Watch Co.2. Make A Playlist – like working out, working on your home goes betterwhen you make a playlist of your favorite songs. Whether you turn up your stereo or take the BlueTooth Travel Speaker and your phone from room to room, the right music can make the cleanup go quickly.

3. Declutter First – Before starting on reorganization/cleaning projects, make a quick sweep through the house and pick up any clutter or garbage. You can also set up storage bins for different purposes – one for the garage sale, one for donations, and a large garbage bag for the trash.

4. Try a New Cleaner – Before you can scour the winter dirt from your home, you’ll need to make sure you have enough cleaning products. If your previous cleanup experience leaves you with a chemical fume headache, try motivating yourself with some All Purpose Surface Cleaner from GrabGreen. With all-natural ingredients and a fresh scent, you can refresh more than just the look of your home and get rid of any lingering winter staleness.

5. Reward Yourself – Set up a reward schedule to help you and your family meet your goals. It might involve a 20-minute break after each project, or a big ice cream outing when the whole house is clean. Having something to look forward to will help you work that much faster.

Once you get started, spring cleaning can take on a life of its own, and can refresh your home for many happy weeks ahead. Go for it.

 

 

Create a Yard Sale Game Plan!

The month of March can mean different things to different people.  For sports fans it is all about March Madness, and for fans of warm weather it is about the first day of spring.  However, for fans of organization like me, a Professional Organizer, it is the start of yard sale season and the time to pitch those things in your home that you don’t want or need, and that are taking up valuable space in your home!

Why not start collecting things around the house now, so that by April or May you have a good amount of things to sell.  That way you won’t be under a tremendous time crunch and it won’t be such a tedious process…I promise!

Go room by room and pull the whole family into the action.  Make it worthwhile to kids by telling them that they will get the money that comes from the sale of their items.  Remind them and remember yourself, that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.  Now see how fast things suddenly disappear from their rooms and end up in a pile to be sold!

Get together some boxes to collect the items.  Not sure where to find boxes for free?  Call ahead to your local office supply store and see if they can hold onto some for you. When you get there to pick up the boxes, pick up a pack of the circle sticker labels in a bright or neon color, some even have pre-printed prices on them.  The brightness will stand out on your items.  Most office supply stores also have premade yard sale/garage sale signs that are clear and concise.  Or again involve the kids and have them make some!

Like food drives keep boxes in a central location to collect food, keep one box in the kitchen or foyer and fill it up with the items to be sold.  After each box is filled to its capacity, move them into a corner, a closet or the garage and stack them on top of each other.  Don’t worry, this will only be temporary!  Think ahead and write down everything that gets put in a box and set a price for it.  Use your own judgment when it comes to pricing, or do some research.  I generally price items at one third of their original value.  Then put a price label on each item.  That way when it comes to the morning of the sale, setup will be a breeze because everything is already priced!  This especially comes in handy for those inevitable early birds who come asking “How much is this?  How much is that?”!

About a week before your yard sale…

* put signs up around the neighborhood.

* post an ad in the garage sale section on Craigslist, which is free!

On the day before your yard sale…

* head to the bank to get lots of one dollar bills and quarters for change.

* type up the written list of items in the boxes and save it as a word document.

On the day of your yard sale…

* wake up early and start setting up.

* watch the money roll in!

After the yard sale is over, please do not be tempted to bring anything back into the house.  Maybe you think you’ll try to sell something on ebay, but chances are you won’t want to be bothered with it and the time it entails.

Using the boxes that you collected items in, put the items that did not sell back in.  Have the typed lists handy to circle the items that are put in.  Once that is complete you can quickly edit the document to include only those items.  Once you have that, you’ll have a final document to pair with a donation form from where you choose to donate your items, and that means self satisfaction as well as a tax deduction!

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Everybody has their own methods for Spring Cleaning—we aren’t going to dictate what you do with your home, but this checklist should give you plenty of things to cross off as you go. (And who doesn’t like crossing things off their list?)

Click Here to Download our Spring Cleaning Checklist in Classic Size

Click Here to Download our Spring Cleaning Checklist in Compact Size

Click Here to Download our Spring Cleaning Checklist in Pocket Size

 

Five-Minute Blitz

By Carmen Coker

The battle drums are rumbling…it’s time to suit up for clutter combat. Let Operation Organize commence! Rest assured, this is one battle that will reduce the amount of clutter in your life – quickly.

TheFreeDictionary.com defines the word “blitz” as an intense campaign. Today’s challenge is to select one area of your home at random, and for five laser-focused minutes, de-clutter with all your might.

Go crazy, and do not let anything stand in the way of your blitz victory. If necessary, and to conquer more of the battlefield, call in reinforcements (kids, spouse, friends) to help.

  • The clutter in the toy room that you trip over daily – blitz it!
  • The utensil drawer in your kitchen that never closes – blitz it!
  • Your messy jewelry box – blitz it!
  • Your sock drawer – blitz it!
  • The mountain of old sticky notes – blitz it!
  • The stack of magazines you’ve been meaning to whittle down – blitz it!

Enjoy the full-out assault on your clutter, and celebrate when you can proclaim MISSION COMPLETE.

Get Bigger Results | Instead of leading a five-minute blitz, try a 20-minute one. Not once, not twice, but five times this week.

Carmen Coker, a former U.S. Air Force officer turned professional organizer, helps individuals clear the clutter that holds them back from living their best life. Claim your free copy of 7 Days To A More Organized YouTM at http://lessonsfromorganizing.com/want-your-story/ – and reduce the clutter in your life in one week or less!

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On-The-Wall Organizing

Happy Family by UrbioIf you ever attend a junior high school dance, you’ll learn a lot about organizing. First: People sort automatically. The “popular” girls will be huddled in a corner away from the speakers giggling over their shoulders. The athletic boys will have their own section with a convenient wall to hold them up while they pose. Then there will be the rest-sorted even further by interests and habits, but mostly by perception. And only the bravest will be huddled around the refreshment table.

But the biggest thing these awkward kids could teach us about organizing is: You can fit a whole lot against a wall. See that wide-open space in the middle? Yeah, that’s the dance floor.

In our homes and offices, we tend to reserve the walls for paint and a few special pieces of art, and our work surfaces become cluttered with the business of the day. Evidently, work surfaces aren’t meant for working. Like these youngsters, we could certainly make better use of our walls. A few shelves or a bookrack can turn special trinkets into display pieces instead of desk clutter.

Gadget Wally Organizer by KangaroomEven the things that were never meant for display can have a spot on the wall. You can keep all your gadgets, from video game controllers and cables to smartphones and remotes, neatly organized and easy to find in the Gadget Wally Organizer. With its unobtrusive neutral color, various pockets, and pouches, it will clear the clutter on a desk or in a drawer in just a few minutes-keeping it permanently off your desk, and on the wall where it’s easy to find.

If you want to turn your wall organization into a beautiful blend of art and order, check out the Happy Family wall organizers. These beautiful magnetic vases and bins attach to specially designed plates or to a metal door and give you an impressive assortment of shape and design that both intrigues and organizes.

Do you find yourself buried in mail, magazines, coupons, or schoolwork? Make sense of it all with beautiful, understated Mesh Wall Pockets. They look great empty, and when they’re full, they won’t look nearly as cluttered as your countertop.

Panel Bin 9 Pocket by SafcoIf you enjoy crafting, or just have odds and ends that you can’t find a place for, the Panel Bin 9 Pocket is a great so44260lution. It mounts easily on the wall giving you nine bins with spring-loaded, see-through lids to keep you from losing that special rivet or set of buttons.

Managing your time is easily done on the wall too. If you have a big week ahead you can keep the whole group informed with the Magnetic Dry Erase Weekly Planner. It provides ample space for your daily events and gives you room for notes or a shopping list, so you don’t forget the important things. Plus, it wipes clean so it’s ready for the next week.

So if your workspace could use a wide-open area in the middle, take a hint from the kids at the junior high school dances and stick a few more things to your walls.

 

 

 

Break The Procrastination Cycle

By Carmen Coker

Everyone’s got one of those tasks that never seems to get done, no matter what. You know you are in trouble when you start to joke about it, laughing at your failure to accomplish the task. Making light of the situation takes the sting out of the fact that you have procrastinated yourself into Never Never Land.

Yet, when you ignore tasks you should do, that doesn’t mean they leave your mind. They remain nagging little thoughts that may:

  • Keep you awake at night.
  • Distract you from other tasks and projects.
  • Become enablers for excuse-making.

Think of all the things to which you have given lip service, or mind service, about getting done – but subsequently, you pushed them aside for something else, or perhaps nothing at all.

“How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’.” ~ Martin Luther

Never, nada, zilch, zero. Have no doubt that those results are the only results that procrastination will give you.

Today’s challenge is to break free of the procrastination that has become a vicious cycle in your life. Pick one task that’s been eluding completion for too long now – and just do it!

Get Bigger Results | Instead of picking one task for the entire week, pick one task for each day of the week.

Great advice as always Carmen! 

Carmen Coker, a former U.S. Air Force officer turned professional organizer, helps individuals clear the clutter that holds them back from living their best life. Claim your free copy of 7 Days To A More Organized YouTM athttp://lessonsfromorganizing.com/want-your-story/ – and reduce the clutter in your life in one week or less!

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Want To Get Organized – For Good? Here’s How To Make Your New Year’s Resolution Last

By Carmen Coker

So you recently made a New Year’s Resolution “to get organized.” Well, you’re in good company! Organization is always a popular top ten resolution every year.

But now that you’ve set the organizing goal, how do you successfully negotiate the ins and outs of accomplishing it? Here are four simple tips to do just that.

(1) Have a plan.

Don’t say:
 My New Year’s Resolution is to get organized.

Do say: My New Year’s Resolution is to better manage my time. (Or: tidy up my closet, organize my estate, etc.)

Speaking in generalities leads to doing in generalities, and you’ll rarely be happy with the outcome. In other words, if you don’t have decisive organizing goals, you won’t get decisive organizing results. Take the time to make a plan … you’ll be glad you put in the extra effort.

(2) Make a schedule.

Don’t say: I know what I want to organize, and I’ll get to it when I have time.

Do say: I know what I want to organize, and I need to make a schedule of when to do it.

If you treat your organizing sessions like a regular appointment, you’re more likely to take it seriously and follow through with your plan.

(3) Focus.

Don’t say: This week, I’m going to overhaul my kitchen, organize my files, get ready for taxes, clean out my closet, update my address book, re-do my schedule …

Do say: This week, I’m going to organize my tax-related files.

If you try to take on too many organizing projects, you will surely fail. Focus on one task – and one task only – until it’s complete. And let that success, as little or as big as it may be, propel you onward.


(4) Have a positive attitude.

Don’t say: Man, this is gonna be hard! I don’t know if I can …

Do say: It may be a challenge to organize my house, but it’s a challenge with big rewards! I will have a home that makes me happy and that I’m not embarrassed to have other people see.

As Thomas Jefferson put it: “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on Earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Your thoughts channel real power to help you achieve your organizing milestones – so think positively, and put those brain bytes to good use!

Great advice as always Carmen! 

Carmen Coker, a former U.S. Air Force officer turned professional organizer, helps individuals clear the clutter that holds them back from living their best life. Claim your FREE copy of “33 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life TODAY” atCarmenCoker.com/free-organizing-gift

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5 Tips To Jumpstart January

Real Life Adventures Ring-bound Daily Planner RefillWe have a thing for January. It’s National Get Organized Month. All that sorting, stashing, planning, and relocating are right down our alley. It’s what makes us tick—not because any one of us individually is perfectly organized, but because for a whole month the dream feels almost attainable. And even if we never find that perfect state of organized nirvana, the efforts we make at the first of the year make a huge difference.

The list of things we could do in January is enormous, but sometimes we need a little jumpstart to get going. (Like that rusty, yellow 1973 Ford Pinto my brother drove to college.) Anyway, here are a few little things to get you started:

What’s In Your Freezer?

Now that the holidays are over, you’ll want to empty your freezer and see exactly what you have in there. Throw out anything that’s freezer burned or expired and make sure you aren’t hiding something wonderful behind your leftover turkey. You may be able to center your next few meals around the discoveries you make. Better to eat it while it’s good than waste it later.

Update Your New Planner

January is a good time to transfer important numbers, dates, and information from your 2012 calendar to your new 2013 calendar. Make sure you aren’t missing important items like birthdays, anniversaries, and your children’s healthcare specialists.

Prepare for April 15th

By now you’ve probably got most if not all of the paperwork you needLovisa File Box w/ 12 file by Bigso Box of Swedentofile your taxes from your employers, banks, and investments. Now you just need to gather the information that has accumulated throughout the year. Determine your medical expenses, travel costs, home business expenses and income, etc. and store it in a file box so you can easily file your taxes for the year.

Set An Achievable Short-term Goal

Most of us are focused on long-term resolutions at the beginning of the year. That’s fine, but who wants to wait a whole year before they get the satisfaction of having completed a goal? Take one of your long-term goals and break it down to pieces that you can accomplish in a month. Maybe in January you want to run or walk 3 to 4 days a week. That’s a short-term goal for the month with just enough flexibility built in to make it achievable, and it will move you toward your longer-term goal of developing a healthier lifestyle. Hint: if you schedule the days you plan to exercise in your planner and on your wall calendar, you’ll improve your chances of getting it done.

Start A Compelling Novel

Sure it’s not a way to get organized, but if you’re like the rest of us, your days will soon be getting longer and you’ll want to be outdoors and on the run. While you still have longer evenings void of major yard work, pick up that novel you’ve been meaning to read and escape reality for a few minutes each day. When you close the book and re-join the real world, you’ll feel a little more refreshed.

However you choose to start your new year, we hope you do it with a smile and with a positive outlook. Having an upbeat attitude toward life goes a long way.

Good luck and happy 2013.

 

Create a Gift Wrapping Station

Gift Wrap Organizer White by JokariWrapping a present requires lots of small parts – scissors, tape, ribbon, bags, tissue paper, and the wrapping paper itself. If everyone in your house has gifts to wrap, it won’t be long until these wrapping tools have scattered to the four corners of your house. Setting up a gift wrapping station in a designated closet (this Gift Wrap Organizer certainly helps) can help keep things together.

 

Make Room for the Feast

With the holidays come elaborate meals, both the ones you prepare yourself and the leftovers you bring home from work and school potlucks. Throughout the season, take the time to regularly clean out your fridge and make room for the next delicacies. Give yourself a recurring reminder each Thursday, and you won’t end up trying to fit leftover Bundt cake in between takeout boxes at midnight.

 

How To Break Mental And Emotional Attachments To Your Clutter

By Carmen Coker

A wise Zen master once said: “Be like the wind. Blow over everything without becoming attached to any of it.”

Have you become attached to your clutter? When you are tied to your clutter – whether it’s emotionally, spiritually, mentally, or otherwise – decluttering becomes all the more difficult to accomplish.

Here are five simple ways to break the “ties that bind” when it comes to clutter and help you release any attachments you have to your “stuff”:

1) Adopt a charity.
Adopting a cause of your choice – one that benefits from your donations and in which you strongly believe – will help you make the right decision when the time comes.

2) Practice gratitude.
Hold the item in both hands, and be thankful for all the good things it has brought into your life. Now, envision giving this item to someone else and the many good things it will bring to this individual, encouraging the chain of thankfulness to continue.

3) Think transformationally.
Hold the item in both hands, and think about how it pollutes the environment around you and/or how it is no longer a good fit for your life. Now, envision giving this item to someone else to whom it brings happiness, comfort, or care. Thus, it is transformed from a negative (piece of clutter) into a positive (treasured or needed possession).

4) Take photos.
When you capture a “special something” in photographs, it often provides you the safety net you need to let go. Placing these pictures into a slideshow on your computer desktop, a scrapbook, or a memory box are effective ways you can cherish its meaning and importance instead of the object itself.

5) Hire a professional organizer.
When looking for organizing help, have you ever thought something like: “my husband would just chuck everything out the door” or “my friend would just get mad at me because I can’t get rid of things as easily as she can”? Unlike many in your inner circle, pro organizers come from a spirit of understanding and offer non-judgmental organizing advice that works. Although it may be cheaper to ask friends and family to help you, decluttering will go more smoothly and quickly with a trained expert. Plus, you are guaranteed a happy result!

How can you be more “like the wind” (and less attached to your clutter) today?

Thank you Carmen!

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What’s Cooking, Good Looking?!

By Naomi Cook

Ok, here’s a little quiz for you all!  Don’t worry, there are no essay questions – just a simple yes or no will suffice!

  1. Do you like to cook and/or bake?
  2. Do you have some recipes bursting out of a folder in the kitchen, some on documents on the computer and still yet, others pulled from magazines that are somewhere in the abyss of paper piles throughout your home?
  3. Have you spent hours looking for a certain recipe and not been able to find it?

If you said No to all of these, then what are you reading this blog for?!  Just kidding!

If however, you said Yes to one or all of these, then you are in need of a recipe storage renovation!  No need for anything complex, just look through some of the options below and find out what might work best for you!

Go Old Fashioned

Maybe you have a nice recipe box that has been passed down along the generations in your family.  No worries if you don’t!  Find a nice wooden box (sized to fit 4 x 6 index cards) and some decorative index cards like the ones here at FranklinPlanner!  Or choose a simple index card case (divider cards often already come with them) from your local office supply store and some index cards that will fit inside.  I like 4 x6 rather than 3×5, just because they give you more space for writing.  Decide then if you would like to type up the recipes on the cards (via your printer of course, not an actual typewriter!) or if you or a friend has nice handwriting then write them out yourself or commission him or her to do it!  To keep the cards clean, consider getting them laminated and then you won’t have to worry about any spills!  Keep the process inexpensive by looking for self adhesive laminated sheets, again at your local office supply store or online, and you won’t have to worry about dealing with the expense of a heated laminating machine.  Another option is to look for a nice photo album that matches your kitchen décor.  Plus, albums come with divided sheets to hold multiple pictures; and as pictures are most commonly developed in the 4X6 size and coincidentally a lot of recipe cards are this size as well, everyone will think you’re so clever!

Go Modern

If you haven’t yet heard of Pinterest, it is a growing online phenomenon in which you can “copy” pictures of your favorite items, ideas and yes, recipes onto “boards”.  It also gives you the opportunity to peruse recipes from its thousands of users and it’s free!  Best of all, your recipes will be safe there even if your computer has its issues.  And if you are out and suddenly realize that you need ingredients, then you can access the site on your smartphone!  Another option is to make your own family cookbook.  Create a book with recipes and pictures of family favorites on a book making site such as Shutterfly or Snapfish.  Even Walgreens and Walmart are now offering these services online as well!  Make it fun by interspersing pictures from an event in which you had that delicious cookie or hearty casserole.

Once you have the option that works best for you, take a look through your favorites, make a list of ingredients and stock up your pantry.  Purchase non-perishable items, enough for making that recipe a couple of times, so that you can have everything, if not all, for your recipe in a pinch.  You’ll appreciate this most of all when winter is here and you won’t have to trek out to the store for the ingredients to make cookies…um, but you’ll still have to go out to get some milk to go along with them!

Until next time, stay neat people!

Thanks for the clever organizing advice Naomi!! Recipe organization can be challenging.  

 

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

 

The Biggest Organizing Mistake of All

By Carmen Coker

You’re sure to find a perfectly organized home when you open up any magazine. And those pictures make you think: Man, I wish my house looked like that! 

Of course, the ideal home doesn’t have to be in a book, in a magazine, or on TV. You may need to look no further than your next door neighbor or your own family to find the poster child for neat freak-i-ness. And that person makes you think: Man, I wish my house looked like theirs!

With organizing, as with most things in life, it’s sometimes easy to compare yourself with others. And when this happens, it’s important that you give yourself a reality check.

The perfectly organized home? The perfectly organized life? Here it is:

A perfectionist mindset is the biggest organizing mistake of all because it stops you from having the clutter-free lifestyle you’ve always wanted. Why? You become so fixated on how to “get it right” that you ultimately decide not to start or follow through on your organizing goals.

That’s why being perfectly organized should never be your goal. Instead, focus on creating organizing systems that fit your daily routine and help you have quick access to your belongings.

Of course, doing this is one of those things that can be much easier said than done. So it’s a good idea to remind yourself of the “imperfect action” principle…every single day!

A simple way to do this is to print off this article and cut out the phrase. Then tape it to a spot you see all the time, like your bathroom mirror, or nest it inside something you use a lot, like the loose change in your wallet. You’ll automatically know what it means, and it reinforces the idea inside your head, which is a key step to believing it – and putting it to good use.

Thank you Carmen!  Did you enjoy this article? Like it on Facebook and/or give it a  cheer!

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Making Sense of Your Closet For Fall

Purse Rack 2 Pack by JokariIt’s that time of year again. A new school year has begun and a new season has arrived, along with a change in the weather. That means, of course, that it’s time to change what’s in your closet. Out with the old, in with the new.

Organizing your clothes every season is a good way to avoid over-crowding. Start by pulling everything out of your closet…yep everything. Now sort each item into 3 piles, keep, throw away, and donate.

If you’ve worn an item so long that it’s threadbare, you really shouldn’t try to donate it to goodwill. As much as you love it, it’s time to graduate it to the trash or recycle bin. Sometimes worn clothes can be transferred to your work-in-the-yard clothes, but other times they just need to go away.

The clothes you’ve hardly worn tell a different story all together. Perhaps you loved these clothes when you tried them on at the store, or you couldn’t pass them up when you saw them on sale. But you haven’t worn them—which means the really aren’t you. They don’t speak to you. You really don’t see yourself wearing them. If you did, you would have worn them more by now. It’s time to donate these items to the second-hand store so someone else can truly wear them out.

Now that you’ve decided which clothes you aren’t going to bother with keeping, it’s time to sort the ones you still wear. If the item is strictly a summertime article, then fold it up and store it in your summer clothes bin for next year. If it’s something you can wear year-round, like jeans, fold it and set it aside. Don’t place anything back into your closet until you’re completely done.

Once your summer clothes bin is filled, put a lid on it and take it back to the basement or attic, wherever you keep your overflow clothing. Now open your autumn clothes bin and rediscover your new wardrobe.

Chances are, you’ll find items in this bin that you no longer want to wear. If so, place them in the donation pile. If you were able to keep your autumn clothes clean in their box all year, go ahead and start loading your closet now. If not, send them to the laundry room for a quick wash cycle first.

Water Hyacinth Storage Basket by Design Ideas Now it gets fun. As you reload your shelves and clothes rods, ask yourself if there’s anything that would make your closet more functional. Would hanging organizers help you make better sense of your shoes? Would it help to hang your purses and bags on the back of the door? If you divided your clothes by color, sleeve length, or degree of formality, would it be easier to find what you’re looking for? Would an attractive, sturdy basket help keep the smaller things contained? Make a list of all your ideas and head to the store. Or see what you can find on our family of sites.

Once you’ve got your clothes back into your closet and organized, you’ll see areas where you’re lacking. Maybe you need more dress shirts, shoes, sweaters or slacks—and that only means one thing. Time to shop for new clothes.

 

8 Lazy Ways to Get Organized

By Carmen Coker

Even if you don’t feel you have the time, money, motivation, or inclination to get organized, there are plenty of low-effort, big-win strategies for banishing clutter, saving time, and being productive.

Part 1: Shopping

Clutter starts at the store. You buy something you don’t need or even truly like … something you might need down the road, but never end  up using … something you thought you would return if you didn’t like it, but you lost the receipt instead. Now, lots of these little “somethings” morphed from a good idea in the store to clutter taking up valuable space in your life.

1. Remove one.

On average, a shopper makes three impulse purchases during 40% of store visits. Before you head to the checkout, whether it’s online or in store, look at your shopping cart and remove one item you grabbed spontaneously.

2. Walk away.

Everyone loves a good bargain. However, almost 90% of all impulse buys are made because the item is on sale. If you discover your favorite store is having a sale, and you know if you “check it out,” you’ll be tempted to buy yet another pair of cute shoes – walk away from the sale.

3. Pay cash.

According to the Journal of Consumer Research, it’s psychologically more painful to pay with paper, where the loss is more tangible, than it is to pay with plastic, where the loss is more abstract. Leverage this pain to crush the urge to go overboard on your shopping trips.

4. List it.

Stores know how to capture easy prey – you.  Unplanned purchases are heavily influenced by the sights, sounds, and smells of the displays. Don’t get caught in the trap! Making a shopping list and sticking to it will ensure you make it safely to the checkout line without extras in your cart.

Part 2: Space & Stuff

While clutter starts at the store, it multiplies at home. It tends to slowly creep up on you. At first, it’s just in the corner or on the table. No big deal, right? Then it spreads … amplifies … irritates … embarrasses … disgusts … until you simply can’t “take it” anymore.

5. Move forward.

Whether you have high, medium, or low levels of clutter – no matter – it’s still easy to get overwhelmed by the thought of getting organized. Create a charity bin, and choose one thing each day to place inside of it. It’s better to focus on one piece of clutter a day and continually move toward your organizing goals, than it is to get overwhelmed and stop completely.

6. Smooth move.

In any given day, you typically putter from room to room in your house without a second thought. Instead, make a conscious choice to declutter as you go. As you leave one area, pick up an item that doesn’t belong and take it to the place in which it does. No extra steps necessary!

7. Stop mail.

The average American receives 49,060 pieces of mail in their lifetime, and one third of it is junk mail. Save your counter space and time by using a free service like Catalog Choice, which streamlines the opt-out process for you so that you don’t personally have to contact each company individually.

 8. Skip traditional.

People tend to write or type lists, instructions, or requests. The process to do this – as well as any resulting paper required – takes up valuable minutes and space. Use your cell phone to record, save, or send out grocery lists, after-school chore instructions, or honey-dos via free mobile apps like Dragon Dictation. It’s much faster than traditional options, plus you won’t lose the note!

Getting organized takes work – but the time you dedicate to the process doesn’t need to feel like a second job. If you make these behaviors into habits, think of the space (and money! and time!) you’ll save in the end.


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7 Simple Steps to Keep Your Bathroom Spick and Span

By Naomi Cook

In preparing my thoughts for this posting about organizing the bathroom, I started to realize that the steps sounded vaguely familiar to my last posting about organizing the pantry in 7 Simple Steps to a Picture Perfect Pantry.  Hmmm…that makes this a bit easier to write for me, but what’s in it for you, you might ask?  Well, if you completed my mission for the pantry, you will already have the innate skills needed to work on this bathroom challenge!

Step 1 – Categorize:  Start by taking everything out of your medicine cabinet and/or your vanity and place items in categories on a countertop or even on the floor, i.e. hair care, medicines, facial care.  

Step 2 – Clean:  Wipe down all of the shelves to remove any spilled over products.  This is also a good time for you women out there to clean your makeup brushes and toss any overused makeup sponges in the trash. 

Step 3 – Toss/Recycle:  Now’s the time to trash any products that have expired, like cold medicine or products that you didn’t like, like the body wash which you swore smelled nicer in the store!  Pour out the liquid medicine from bottles into the sink and put them in your recycling bin.  Take medications in pill form to your pharmacy for disposal or put them in with the used kitty litter…no one is going to go after those…trust me!

Step 4 – Make a shopping list:  Write down items that you have disposed of, on a shopping list.  It’s a good idea to have your favorite pain reliever, nausea medicine and cold medicine handy.  It’s also great to have backups of your daily essentials on a shelf in a nearby closet.  If not, buy some storage drawers to set on the floor or on an upper shelf and stash the items in there!  Also, before you recycle your empty shampoo bottle, etc., write it down on your shopping list so you will always have an extra on hand.

Step 5 – Implement tools (Optional):  Does your bathroom storage capacity include only a medicine cabinet and a single sink/vanity with 2 doors?    No problem – mine does too!  There are many inexpensive solutions out there for extra storage and they aren’t always located in the bathroom storage section of your local home store – just be creative!  Here is what I use:

– Mesh / Clear Plastic Over-the-door Shoe Holder – I use this for hairsprlotions, hair accessories and more, that can’t fit on my countertop.

– Stackable Shoe Bin Size Drawers – I fit 2 stacks of 3 in my vanity and there is still room in the center for some backup items like extra shampoo, conditioner and body wash.

– Decorative Shelf/Hutch – I have a decorative shelf over my toilet for my perfumes and a clock radio, but a hutch is another great way to get a bit more closed storage in your bathroom!

– Wall Hooks – I installed a double wall hook to hide behind the door when it’s open.  It’s a great spot for a robe or drying towel.

– Acrylic Medicine Cabinet Organizers – I love mine to keep my makeup in order, especially the slots for mascaras and lipsticks so they don’t keep falling over and rolling out of the cabinet!

– Shelf Liner (Nonstick) – I cut strips to fit the length and depth of my cabinet.  It’s much easier to remove these and clean them once in a while rather than scrubbing those narrow spaces!

– Toilet Tank Toilet Paper Holder – Why take up space in your vanity when you can just hang your back up roll here!

Step 6 – Put back mindfully:  Separate your medicine cabinet/ vanity into sections for different members of the family or for items that should stick together, like first aid and dental supplies. 

Step 7 – Set up a dry erase board:  Just as you did last month with your pantry, establish a rule for those in your household, who can write, that if they use up say the rest of the shampoo, it get’s written on the board.  This can also be used for your general shopping list and transferred to paper when it’s time to go to the market.  Keep this in proximity to the bathroom and linen closet. 

Up for some extra credit and feeling ambitious? 

Also, as you did last month with your pantry, create an inventory of items that are ready to go back into the medicine cabinet/vanity on a master list.  Update it frequently on a document in your computer so you know what’s in there.  Also, think ahead, and stash all of your hotel toiletries in a small basket for any unexpected overnight guests!   They can use them after they eat their angel food cake that you made sure you got for your pantry last month, right?!

Until next time, stay neat people!  

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

 

7 Simple Steps to a Picture Perfect Pantry

By Naomi Cook

Has the inside of your pantry become like the Bermuda Triangle?    Have you ever looked for something, say a cake mix for your child, who just told you at 9pm that there is a bake sale tomorrow morning and she needs 3 dozen cupcakes?   Have you sworn you had several mixes…scoured the pantry, but couldn’t find them, and rushed out to the store all frazzled, only to find out later that you have 5 boxes of cake mix at the back of the top shelf behind that mega pack of granola bars that you couldn’t pass up at Costco?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then it’s time for a food intervention here, people!  I invite you to clean out your pantry and follow these 7 simple steps to get it to be a help and not a hindrance. 

Step 1 – Categorize:  Start by taking everything out of your pantry and place items in categories on a nearby table or countertop, i.e. baking supplies, snacks, breakfast items.   

Step 2 – Clean:  Wipe down all of the shelves to get rid of those cracker crumbs and cereal flakes…and hopefully that is just a raisin in the corner of the floor…

Step 3 – Toss/Recycle:  Now’s the time to trash any products that have expired, like the cereal you hated after eating it just once and has been crammed in the back ever since!  Break down cereal or cracker boxes after removing the bags inside, pour out expired spices from bottles in the trash and put them in your recycling bin. 

Step 4 – Make a shopping list:  Write down items that you have tossed in the trash, on a shopping list.  However, you should only limit it to staple items like oregano or cinnamon or your child’s favorite cereal.  If it’s something you’ve only used once for a recipe you made a year ago, it’s not that important.  Decisions like these will allow your pantry to have more breathing room!

Step 5 – Implement tools (Optional):  Do you have adjustable shelves in your pantry?  If you do, that’s great.  If not, you may have some vertical spaces that are being wasted between the shelves.  Expandable shelves are a great solution to this problem, and you end up with double the shelving!  You’ll notice that canned items will fit nicely underneath the expandable shelves.  Use this small space also by putting boxed items away horizontally or on their side.  Another good tool to have in your pantry is a packet holder for all of those seasonings and sauce mixes. 

Step 6 – Put back mindfully:  Separate your pantry into sections for different members of the family or for items that should stick together, like baking supplies.  For example, keep the kid’s snacks on the shelves that are most accessible to them. 

Step 7 – Set up a dry erase board:  Establish a rule for those in your household, who can write, that if they use up say the rest of the cereal, it get’s written on the board.  This can also be used for your general shopping list and transferred to paper when it’s time to go to the market.  Keep this in proximity to the pantry and the fridge. 

Up for some extra credit and feeling ambitious? 

Create an inventory of items that are ready to go back into the pantry on a master list.  Update it frequently on a document in your computer so you know what’s in there.  Also, think ahead and by several cake mixes (especially angel food cake since you only need to add water!) and a few cans of frosting.   You will have something for unexpected company, and you will never need to run out at 9pm for cake mix again! 

Until next time, stay neat people! 

Thanks Naomi!  Your tips will most definitely be helpful.

Did you enjoy this article? Give it a cheer or a like.

 

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

Organizational Top Fives – Clearing Your Closet

Closets make such tempting clutter traps. With the door closed, your friends and family aren’t exposed to the mess – at least, until they go to hang up their coat or search for something. Here are five solutions to help cut closet clutter:

1. Make the Trip-

Don’t use the closet as a dumping ground for things you don’t want to put away. When you’re cleaning up, take the time to put things away where they go.

2. Divide and Conquer-

Using closet dividers helps you find the clothes you already have and manage them accordingly. It’s amazing how much putting things in the right place changes the appearance of your closet.

3. Hang it All-

Closet floors can get especially jumbled, so it’s better to distribute things vertically. Over-the-door racks help keep closet floors clean…

4. Pen it Up-

…and Square Pop-Up Bins take care of the rest by keeping things             from spreading across the floor.

5. The Hanger Trick-

Reverse all the hangers in your closet. When you wear something, put the hanger back the right way. After a few months, pull out all reversed hangers and donate the clothes you haven’t worn to charity. You won’t even have to think about which clothes you have worn – the proof will be right there.

Organizing the Manly Spaces

This one goes out to all the men. We’ve got a lot on our plates – work, school, family, hobbies – and let’s face it, sometimes we don’t take time to organize as well as we could. So this Father’s Day, here are a few tips for male-centered organizing:

Garage – Stack It Right

No matter what size your garage is, you’re going to need to use vertical space if you want to park your car or pursue your hobbies. And it’s very likely that you’ll have to share the space with boxes of high school memorabilia, holiday decorations, and bags of winter clothing.

When stacking boxes, make sure the heaviest and least-used items go on the bottom. Then look for additional ways to put things up on the walls. For example, you could set up two sturdy hooks and use this Car Clothes Rod to hang mechanic’s coveralls, rather than have them take up floor space, or hang a Cargo Net and store your sports gear.

Game Room – Hang It Up

There’s one thing about a gaming hobby – it can add up to a lot of things to organize. Game cases, controllers, and other peripherals can seriously clutter up your man cave. If you need more space for your gaming gear, try a Hanging Organizer in a closet. It’s sturdy enough to hold heavy peripherals, and shaped well for holding game cases.

Programming Station – Make Elbow Room

For those guys who like creating things for the digital world, sometimes the physical world gets a little cluttered. Help keep the cords contained with the Cableyoyo.  You can also give them more mobility while charging their main device with the iKeep Charger and get one more cord off the computer desk.

So, men, speak up. How do you organize the male-centered aspects of your life?

Leaving For Vacation? What About The House?

Summer break is a great time for families. It’s a time when schedules open up, albeit with effort. The kids have fewer obligations and you can finally get out and do something together. But what about the house? Here are some suggestions to ensure your property is safe while you’re gone.

Get Help From Your Neighbors

Talk with your friends before you leave on vacation and ask them to keep an eye on your house. They can collect your mail and your newspaper so it doesn’t look like you’ve abandoned your property. Let them know if you’re going to have a house sitter or if you’ve asked someone to check on your pets, so they don’t call the police when they see your niece walk into your home.

House Sitters?

If you’re going to be gone a long time, a house sitter might be a good idea. If you have relatives who are looking for a place to stay for a short time, your home might be the ideal solution. But be sure whomever you invite into your home is trustworthy. You wouldn’t be the first person to regret your decision if you come home to a damaged house. You’ll improve your odds of returning to a beautiful home if you leave a list for the house sitter to help remind them of your expectations.

Pet Care

If you leave your pets at home, be sure you get a good sitter. Finding someone who will feed your dog is one thing. Finding someone who will feed him, clean up after him, and give him a good run is even better. Remember that your pets notice when the routine changes, and it can be disturbing for them. Try to keep things as routine as possible. You might even consider sending your pet to a pet hotel or pet boarding house. These can be costly, but they’re a great way to give your pets some extra attention while you’re away. Do your research and make sure your boarding house will do what they claim to do. Regardless of whom you ask to care for your pet, it helps to keep all your pet’s health records in one place so they can easily refer to it in an emergency.

Yard Care

It shouldn’t be hard to find a kid in your neighborhood who would like to earn a few extra dollars keeping your yard looking nice while you’re away. Tell them when you’d like the lawn mowed, when you water your grass and garden. If you have a sprinkler system, show them how to use it. And to be sure they do a fantastic job, pay them in advance and offer a bonus if you are impressed when you arrive back home.

Vacations are necessary. It helps to break away from your routine now and then and just breathe. It will be a lot easier to relax if you know things are okay at home. These suggestions should help you breathe easier when you’re away.

What are some things you do before you leave for vacation?

 

Kitchen Clusters

Do you find yourself running back and forth across your kitchen? If you cluster basic tools and ingredients you normally use for cooking, you can make meal preparation faster. If you keep wooden spoons, salt, pepper, and oil within arms length of your stove, you won’t find yourself running around while the milk burns to the bottom of the saucepan. You can also keep your favorite, most-used spices on a convenient rack in a drawer by the stove, so you don’t have to dash for a dash of nutmeg.

 

Make a Difference Around the House

Spring is a great time to do the small seasonal things that make a measurable difference around the house. In the bedroom, you can rotate your mattress and wash your pillows for a fresh, comfortable night’s sleep. Go through the house and wipe off any screens to get rid of little fingerprints or airborne cooking oil accumulation. And speaking of cooking, spring is a good time to reorganize your spice rack. Take everything you own out, throw away expired spices, and put things back with the most used spices in the front.

 

Kitchen Ins-and-Outs

Few rooms in the house have more uses than the kitchen. It’s the room where you prepare food, reheat food, wash dishes, and store an incomparable amount of things – from fine china to food supplies to the assortment of rarely-used appliances on top of the fridge. Manage it all with some smart organization.

One of the biggest challenges in kitchen organization is finding the right slot for everything. Dishes, cups, and spice containers come in all shapes and sizes, and what’s more, you use them every day. Taking things out and putting them away day after day can lead to jumbled piles if the organization isn’t intuitive.

As you go through your kitchen cabinets, be sure to stack the frequently used items where you can reach them. Reserve higher shelves and the back of drawers for specialty dishes and utensils, like the gag gift egg separator that dispenses egg whites through a nose. Then you won’t have to disturb your organization to reach the tool you need.

Also, make sure that your silverware organizer fits both your drawer and your silverware. Leaving empty spaces to the side of your drawer leaves space for small utensils to get lost under the organizer, making it even more difficult to find things.

How have you tamed your kitchen?

 

Garden Preparation

gardening journalAfter spending the winter cooped up inside, it can be exciting when the weather warms up. For many people, spring is the time you get to plan your garden. For the best results you’ll want to start early in the season – if you find seeds you want in a seed catalog, you’ll need to have them shipped before their planting season. Taking the time a few weeks before planting season to sketch out your garden plot and take stock of the crops you want to grow will pay dividends come fall.

 

Board Game Management

Over time, the boxes for board games get stepped on, shoved together, and compressed on the shelf. That’s if the game has a box to begin with – all too often checkers, dominos or poker chips end up sitting out on the shelf in ugly plastic bags. If your game boxes are disintegrating, try getting new ones, or put larger pieces in decorative jars. This can help turn your games into a decoration rather than an eyesore.

 

Get Out Of The Coop

By the time spring arrives, many of us are ready to crawl out of our skin. As much as we love winter, it doesn’t take long to start feeling cooped up. Spring is our chance to get out and do something. That usually means creating something wonderful in our yards.

I grew up with a big yard. Our family didn’t have a lot of time or money for vacations, so the yard became our retreat. With today’s uncertain job market and rising cost of living, more people are doing the same. They’re vacationing closer to home—discovering the richness of their local state park, the zoo, the movie theater, the back road, and yes, even the back yard.

But if you’re going to have a back yard escape, you need to start planning now. Take a fresh look at your yard as though it’s a blank canvas. What would you like to do with it? Do you want room for volleyball games, a vegetable garden, a fire pit, a grilling station, shade trees, arbors, trellises, soft grass for the kids, or even a pool? Your options are limited only by the space you have—and of course, your time and budget. It pays to spread your projects out over time, perhaps even over multiple years.

 Designate a binder or notebook just for your yard projects. Use dividers and labels for each area in your yard—the vegetable garden, the entry gardens, trees, rosebushes, container gardens. Each of these items will be on different schedules. You’ll plant your peas and beans before you plant your tomatoes. You’ll prune your trees before the snow is completely melted. You’ll fertilize your lawn at least twice, and likely 4 to 5 times during the growing season. Schedule each of these activities in your planner so you’ll have a constant reminder.

Find some simple projects to spruce up your yard. Some can be done in less than an hour. For example: You can recycle or repurpose to enhance your yard. Have you ever considered using an old bedspring, wooden door, or window frame as a trellis? These relics add a fun touch of whimsy to your garden, cost very little, and reduce waste. Plus, they look stunning draped in a clematis, Honeysuckle, or black-eyed Susan vine.

Spring is finally here. Let’s get outside and see what we can create.

 

The War On Clutter – Spring Clear-Out

It can be hard to throw things away. All too often, we overestimate the value of our belongings – based on how long we’ve had it, how much we paid for it, and specific memories associated with it. But as time goes on, even the most useful items wear out or become outdated, and changing priorities make yesterday’s treasures into today’s trash.

Setting aside a day every six months or so to clear out your old items can help keep your accumulation under control. On this day, tackle the worst spots in your house – the junk drawer, the back of your closet, any place where you find things gathering dust.

Luckily, a spring clear-out day is also an excellent time to reorganize. As you empty a drawer or closet, sort the contents by how often you use them. Make a pile for things you use every week, another for things you use every month, a small one for things you use every year, and a pile for things you haven’t touched in more than a year.

Then, you can start organizing your piles into drawer sorters and removing or relocating the objects that just don’t fit. Then, when you put your drawer sorters back into your drawer, you can put the most-infrequently-used items in the back, where they won’t get in the way of the things you use regularly.

If you have trouble letting go, picture the benefits – you’ll save time when you go to your closet every morning, you’ll save money when you find the glue in the drawer instead of rushing out to buy some, you’ll save your sanity by having an organized home.

Once you’ve amassed the full pile of old clothes and other items, you can pull out things to sell, donate to charity, or throw away. Clear-out day is also a great day to check clocks, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, furnace filters, and other items that need to be replaced seasonally.

What’s your best clear-out story?

 

Organizing Tax Documents

During tax season most of us will spend some time digging through our filing cabinets. Most likely, there will be all sorts of documents from past tax years – medical bills, W2s, interest statements, and, frankly, some things that we’re not sure why we’re keeping. This tax season, go through your old documents and throw out expired statements. Most documents can be shredded after three years, or six years if you run your own business. Check with your tax professional.

 

Keeping Canned Goods

Organize your canned goods by type. Keep a space for fruit, a space for vegetables, a space for soups and so on. The trick is keeping your cans visible. Store your cans in rows so you always know that what’s in the can in front is the same thing that’s in the can behind. Another way to always know what you have is to use tiered shelf platforms, a lazy Susan, or a can dispenser.

 

Controlling Your Keys

Keys have a way of wandering off and getting themselves lost in a hurry. Luckily, there are several great solutions. Key hangers and hooks are available in a variety of styles. A decorative bowl or small basket is a great place to keep keys. If you have several sets of keys, such as backup sets of house keys, keys to sheds, second or third cars, and relatives’ homes, keep them safely in one place. Whatever you do, the secret is consistency. If you always leave them in the same place, chances are, you’ll always know where they are.


Recommended Key Solutions:

Finders Key Purse by Alexx Inc

Opus Doodad Cup by Design Ideas

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

The beginning of a new year is always busy.  Adding a holiday to your already hectic schedule can add extra stress.  Have no fear, we have a great gift guide to assist you in picking out the perfect gift for your Valentine.  For the holiday of LOVE give your sweetheart something with style. Check out our gift guide here.

3 Steps to Clearing Office Clutter

It’s that time of year again, where resolutions have hopefully been started or implemented, and we’re ready to move forward! But before we do, it’s a great idea to do some pre-spring cleaning. Why wait for later to clear out the clutter? After all, a big spring cleaning can be a daunting endeavor. As with most things organizing-related, if you work on small tasks, the overall project can be a lot easier. Let’s start by paring down some of the extra supplies and electronics that might be lurking around your workspace:

What are you really using? Be honest with yourself, your needs, and what you’re truly likely to use. if you can’t think of an actual event or situation that is likely to happen in the near future where you could use an item, it’s time to let it go. If you haven’t ever needed the card stock you’ve been holding on to, you probably aren’t going to be using it anytime soon. Same goes for the t-shirt iron on transfer paper, the thank-you notes pre-printed with your old address, and the label cartridges for the label maker you no longer have. Your electronic detritus can also be pared down – look for mystery cables and connectors, dead hard drives, business card scanners that just didn’t work, and out-of-date devices to give the old heave-ho to.

Recycle or donate the discards. A huge barrier to clearing out the clutter that I see when I work with clients is that they don’t want their castoffs going into the landfill. It’s great to responsibly get rid of the things you no longer want or need – we just need to find the right new homes for your items. For office supplies, check with local schools and non-profits, as they are often happy to take all sorts of supplies, which can be used in their own offices, or as art supplies for kids. Electronics can be a little trickier. If you have something in working condition, it can often be donated to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or your favorite charity. Dead electronics can sometimes be sent back to the manufacturer of the item, recycled with a service like Green Citizen, or given to your local hazardous waste disposal unit.

Store what’s left. So you’ve cleared out the clutter and made some room in your workspace. Now it’s time to put everything that you want to keep away. Start by placing your supplies into groups – maybe the ink cartridges together, the mailing supplies in another group, and so on. Place the groups close to where you’d  be likely to use them – these then become your work and storage zones. Once your stuff is in a zone, then look for ways to store the items – whether in drawers, containers, on shelves, etc.

By clearing out the clutter, you can dramatically increase your productivity – the things you need and use are within easy reach, and it’s easy for you to put them away when you’re done. On top of that, you’ll feel better by knowing that you’re not hanging onto stuff that you don’t need!

Joshua Zerkel

Entryway Shoe Storage

Keep shoes on a mat or on a movable supporting rack so that the floor underneath can be cleaned regularly. Place mats inside the entry closet under the coats. If you have no closet, use attractive wooden or metal shoe racks or a decorative wicker basket to hold shoes and boots. Make sure your shoe storage provides plenty of air circulation to help wet shoes and boots dry faster. The right shoe organizer can also act as an entryway accent.

 

Organizing the Forgotten Corners

Here’s an interesting observation – the less time you spend interacting with a space, the more likely it is to become cluttered. In places like the linen closet and the recesses of your silverware drawer, you get in, find what you’re looking for, and get out. Because they’re not on display to the world, it’s tempting to save time by throwing things in and letting them fall where they may. However, even if you only access them once a week, keeping these locations organized can save you loads of time – say, when you need superglue or fresh bed sheets.

So to make these spaces effective, they need intuitive organization. They need a system where after you open the drawer to put something away, your mind zips right to the spot where it goes and your hand follows suit. Here are some ideas to streamline the forgotten corners of your living space:

Kitchen Utensils – Has it been a while since you’ve seen your ice cream scoop? All too often, our kitchen drawers just aren’t up to the task of holding all the various utensils we put in there, especially with the rise of specialty cookware. Santoku knives, micro graters, infomercial knives that can cut through your shoe; none of these fit into the old plastic silverware dividers with the spoon silhouettes. They often end up in the space to the side of the organizer in a jumbled mess.

The first step to sorting out your drawer is to make more places to sort with. Not all drawer organizers are created equal, after all. Flatware organizers have smaller slots than dedicated utensil organizers, and they offer more spaces for sorting smaller utensils. You’ll also want to look for organizers with expandable sides, so that you can use all the space in your drawer without smaller utensils sliding under the organizer and getting lost.

And if you still find yourself with no room for utensils, it might be time for a shakeup. You could turn one of your drawers into a spice rack and use the former spice cupboard space to store your egg separator. 

Fitted Sheets – Maybe there’s some hidden trick for folding fitted sheets into a standard flat package, but generally, folding fitted sheets can be such a pain. Trying to match up the rounded corners while keeping the elastic part on the inside makes them lumpy and unwieldy.

So, when you’re folding your bed linens, try making a rolled package. Fold your top sheets and pillowcases into long rectangles, and then lay them out on your fitted sheet. Fold the fitted sheet over as best you can, and then roll the whole package up as tightly as you can, tucking in the ends. Without any more folding, you now have an easy-to-stack roll. The next time you change your sheets, you won’t be searching for pillowcases under mounds of floppy fitted sheets.

Nobody likes sitting in the corner. Spending some upfront time organizing them will make it that much easier to do what’s needed and get on with life.

What are some of the forgotten corners you’ve had to deal with in your quest for organization?

Winter-Friendly Organizing Projects

by Dave Ulacia

The other day my dad admitted to me that he plans things all wrong. He’s a gifted craftsman and likes to build things for the kids and grandkids for the holidays, but by the time he decides what he wants to do it’s cold outside. His shop is in the garage, so he’s stuck working in cold temperatures with an inadequate space heater, and bringing projects into the house to be glued, painted, or stained. He swears he’ll start in the summer this year. We’ll see.

We can have the same problem when it comes to organizing. We often organize whatever strikes us at a given moment. Just a few weeks before Christmas, I found my wife and daughters organizing our basins of dress-up clothes. It seemed odd to me because just an hour earlier she had told me that she planned to get the kids to bed early so I could slip out and do some last-minute holiday shopping.

You never know when the organizing bug is going to bite. When it does, you could find yourself mucking out the storage shed in November or organizing the game closet in July. So in an effort to alleviate this problem, we thought it would be nice to give you a few things to work on while you wait for the sun to shine again.

Stay Indoors. Those of us living in temperate zones need to remember that it’s cold outside. This is the time to organize the game closet, coat closet, or spice cupboard-not the time to make sense of the tool shed.

Wally Closet Organizer by KangaroomThe Game Closet
Now that we’re spending more time indoors, we migrate toward the game closet for entertainment. Before long it can be a real mess. Keep it under control with containers for the little things like marbles and dice, bookends to act as dividers on shelves, and larger bags, baskets, or tubs for balls and other items that tend to get out of control. You may even want to hang an organizer on the inside of the door for things like video game controllers, T.V. remotes, or pool cue chalk.

The Coat Closet
Coat Closet Dividers Organizers by O.R.E. OriginalsThis is an area that is in constant disarray this time of year. With skiing and sledding adventures and trips outside to shovel snow or build a snowman, your coat closet runs the risk of getting torn apart several times each week. Use baskets and containers inside the closet for gloves, scarves, and hats so kids can put them back where they belong quickly without stringing them throughout the house. And a few closet dividers can keep your winter coats separated from your spring jackets.

Spice Cupboards and Drawers
The colder months with shorter days leave us with a little more time to kill. That often leads to hot chocolate, spice cake, warm soup, and homemade bread. Now that you’re using more cooking utensils, you’re probably struggling to make room for them in your drawers. Use a tall jar for things like wooden spoons, rubber spatulas, and wire whisks. They look nice on the counter or they can hide away in your pantry. This will leave more room for other items in your drawers.

It also helps to place your most frequently used spices in a tote that you can keep by your stove when you’re cooking and quickly return it to the cupboard when you’re done. This will help eliminate hunting and searching while your food is burning.

For a few more awesome ideas, check out all the great organizers from FranklinCovey for your Laundry, Kitchen, Closet, and Children. You’ll be surprised at the great tools you’ll find to make your busy life run just a little more smoothly.

What’s your favorite thing to organize during the winter? We’d love to hear about it – just leave us a comment below.

Good luck and happy organizing.

GO Tip: Organize Your Outing Essentials

Runnur Essential Strap OutdoorsIf you’ve ever had your keys bounce in your pocket as you’re jogging, you understand how irritating it can be to cart your belongings around as you exercise. As you plan your forays into the outdoors, whether hiking, biking, or taking a nature walk, plan on places for your essentials. You can leave the bulky items in your vehicle and use the Essential Strap from Runnur to carry your lightweight essentials hands- and backpack-free.

GO Tip: Organize Your Coffee Table

Chalk-a-doodle chalkboard coastersWhen it comes to coffee tables, less is more. Select no more than three items to have on the table, possibly two if you choose a large art book. And if you’re looking to protect your table without nagging your guests, these fun chalkboard coasters encourage them to make their own coaster art, and they won’t need any reminders to use them.

GO Tip: Organize Your Closet

ORE Originals smart closet organizers clothes dividersDo you wish your closet could be like a department store, with clothing sorted by size and owner? These smart clothing dividers give you a tasteful way to organize your closet. Consider separating your clothes by categories, such as dressy vs. casual, warm vs. cold weather, etc. You can also add two-tiered organizers for shoes, freeing up space on the floor of your closet, and hang up hooks for belts, ties and other items. See more closet organizers>