4 Benefits of Writing by Hand

You often hear the many benefits of electronic planning. However, writing things out by hand has its place, as well as some surprising benefits beyond just putting words on paper.

1. Information Retention

fountain penIf you’re learning new information, taking notes by hand works better than typing it out on the computer. When your brain focuses, it activates the Reticular Activating System, or RAS, and filters out extra information, like noise from fluorescent lights, the feel of your shoes on your feet, or stray thoughts. When you write, the physical motions stimulate the RAS, helping you focus on the information you’re writing.

A survey from the Two Sides global initiative also found that “88% of respondents indicated that they understood, retained or used information better when they read print on paper compared to lower percentages (64% and less) when reading on electronic devices.  The same trend was found for reading complicated documents with 80% indicating a clear preference for reading print on paper, and reading on screens showing a much lower preference than print at below 16% across all age groups.”

2. Health

Another section from the Two Sides survey found the following: “62% of mobile or smartphone users, 59% of computer users and 50% of e-reader users are worried that these devices may be damaging their health (ex: eyestrain, headaches, insomnia).  Reading in print had the least health concerns with 22% concerned that it may be damaging their health.”

3. Cognitive Function

Even if you’ve left the classroom behind long ago, writing by hand can still have an impact on your life.  According to The Wall Street Journal, some physicians claim that writing activates your motor-skills, memory, and more, making it a good cognitive exercise for those who want to keep their minds sharp as they age.

4. Writing Content

A 2009 study from the University of Washington found that elementary school students who wrote essays with a pen not only wrote more than their keyboard-tapping peers, but they also wrote faster and in more complete sentences. So it’s no surprise that many famous authors, including Stephen King, Susan Sontag, and Truman Capote, wrote the first drafts of their novels out on paper. With a deeper focus on your words and extended time to write each sentence, writing by hand keeps your train of thought on track.

If you find yourself having trouble remembering meeting notes, or if you’re stuck on Chapter 1 in your memoir, try writing it out by hand. Your mind and your goals will thank you.

Find a Good Pen

If you’re organized, you can probably find a pen when you need one. But finding the right pen for your planning sessions takes more careful consideration. You’ll want to find a pen that writes well and fits comfortably in your hand. It also saves wear and tear on your planner if it fits in the pen loop. If you’re interested in scrapbook-style planning, you might even consider getting a set of pens in different colors.

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8 Reasons Why it’s Better to Make Your To-Do List the Day Before

By Patty Gardner

Do you make tomorrow’s to-do list before you go to bed or first thing in the morning?  I’ve always made my list the night before and I think that works better for these eight reasons:

1.       If I make tomorrow’s list before I go to bed, I sleep better.  I have a plan for the day and I know exactly what I need to do as soon as I get up.  Plus I’m not trying to remember what I have to do tomorrow because I already planned it out and wrote it down.

list2.       When I’m making the list the night before, it gives me more time if I discover something that needs done beforehand, like making sure certain clothes are clean, having cash on hand or taking food for the office potluck.

3.       If I wait until the next morning to make my list, I lose a lot of time in the morning trying to decide what to do.  By the time I get up, get dressed and figure out what I want to do, the day is already well underway and I feel behind.

4.       When I plan, I always plan what we’re having for dinner.  Planning the night before gives me time to thaw anything I might need for the meal.

5.       Knowing what I’m doing tomorrow helps me prepare mentally, especially if it’s going to be a tough day.

6.       Making my list the night before helps me know what time I need to get up.  If I have a lot going on, sometimes I need to get up a little earlier.  If it’s going to be a slower day, I can take my time in the morning.  But I only know that if I know what’s going on.

7.       When I make my list the night before, I notice if there are any conflicts or if there’s too much to do.  That allows me to make adjustments before the day gets started.

8.       If there’s something I need to do first thing in the morning, I might miss it or be late if I wait to make my list until morning.

When do you make your to-do list? 

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6 Questions to Consider When Organizing a Space

by Patty Gardner

I don’t mind cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, making a grocery list or running errands, but please don’t ask me to organize a space in my house.

I’m NOT good at organizing and I don’t enjoy doing it.  It actually stresses me out to look at an empty closet or cabinet and know I have to figure out how to arrange it.  It’s a little easier if I’m just moving things around, but I still don’t enjoy it.

That being said, we remodeled our kitchen several months ago and the pantry needed organized.  I put it off as long as I could but finally had to face the music.  It was stressful and unpleasant and stressful but I got it done.

Now my idea of organized may not even be close to your idea of organized but it works for me.  For my purposes the pantry is organized.

pantry

If you’re space organizing challenged like I am but you need to organize a space in your house, here a few things to keep in mind.

1.       What are your goals for the space?  Obviously my goal for my pantry was to store food and to do it in such a way that we could find what we needed fairly easily.

2.       Is it easy to use?  Do you have to reach up too high for things you use frequently?  Do you have to squat down to get things you need?  Do you have to move one thing to get to another?  Those types of complications make it HARD to use and that’s no good.

3.       Can you maintain the system?  I tried grouping similar items when I organized my pantry but I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain it.  When I get home from the store, I don’t want to take the time to carefully arrange the food.  I just want to get it put away as fast as I can.  So I started out grouping but I knew I wouldn’t keep doing it.

4.       Does it take too much time and effort to maintain?  Maybe you are able to maintain the system, but how much time and effort does it take? Is that how you want to spend your time?  If you do, that’s great.  If not, maybe it’s a better idea to simplify or come up with something different.

5.       Does it actually accomplish anything other than looking pretty?  A pretty space is awesome as long as it’s functional.  So if your organizing results in pretty AND functional, you hit the jackpot.

6.       Does it make sense to others using the area?  If you’re the only person using the space, you can do whatever you want.  But if others are using it, too, the system needs to make sense to them and they need to be able to help maintain it.

Since I’m space organizationally challenged, I keep my systems as simple as possible.  If they’re too complicated or time consuming, I won’t do them.

Do your organized spaces look like the ones in the magazines or are they more like mine?

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6 Tips to Help You Find the Motivation to Get Organized

By Monica Friel

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

Work when you have the energy

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

Take care of yourself

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

Get moving

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

Play music

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

Schedule It

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

Break it down

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

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

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Monica Friel

How to Prepare Your Planner for a New Year

By Naomi Cook

Can you believe that 2015 is right around the corner?  Are you ready for it?  Better yet, is it ready for you and all that you have to do?!   Now’s the time to figure out your plan for your planner, and what better place to start than FranklinPlanner, where you can find a variety of paper planners to create your own unique system!

Do you prefer a paper planner, or do you favor having an electronic planner on your phone/computer?  Maybe you have taken on a hybrid of both, where you write down personal appointments in a paper planner, but add work appointments into your electronic planner.  I have gone through stages where I prefer one over the other, but have found that a paper planner is the right fit for me, because I am a fan of check marks and crossing off tasks.  Yes, I am a professional organizer and a perfectionist, and I’m proud of it!

Here are some simple steps that you can take to prepare your own perfect paper planner for the new year!  Can you say that 10 times fast?!

–     Things you will need: a mechanical pencil, an eraser, pens in different colors, paper clips, one brightly colored binder clip and a warm drink. Are you asking why you would need a warm drink? Well…it’s because you may be getting hand cramps from writing so much, and therefore it will come in very handy!

1)       Get out your 2014 planner, don’t toss it yet!  There is a lot of valuable information in there that will be repeated in your 2015 planner like birthdays and anniversaries.

2)       Ok, well you know what I’m going to say next…add in those birthdays and anniversaries to your new planner.  Use one color pen for birthdays and another for anniversaries.  As a quick trick to always remember how old someone is or how many years they have been married, add in parentheses after the name(s) that age of the person or number of years of marriage, and increase it by 1 every time you update to your next yearly planner!

3)       As you are scouring your 2014 planner look for any other pertinent information like any tasks that never got done, and any phone numbers or e-mail addresses that were quickly jotted down.

4)       Gather all of your new appointment cards and invitations and start entering those.  I like to use pencil for these dates in case any get rescheduled.  It looks cleaner to erase than cross out.  Once I’ve jotted those down, I like to staple the appointment card or clip the invitation to its coordinating page.  It may make your planner a bit thicker, but you’ll be able to see when an event is coming up.  Once the date has passed take out the appointment card or unclip the invitation and toss it.

5)       Add the brightly colored binder clip (so you can differentiate it from the paper clips) as a page marker so that you always open it up to the current week.

Now that you’re done, put the planner aside until January 1st, celebrate the end of 2014, and get excited for the beginning of an organized new year!

Until next time, stay neat people!

4 Ways to Use Your Planner This Holiday Season

Your Franklin Planner is the gift that keeps on giving. Here are four ideas to help you save time, energy, and sanity this holiday season:

CLrh_HolidayGiftList_Final1. Track Your Gifts: start by making a list of all the people you need gifts for this season, from family members and friends to your child’s school teacher.  Keep this list in your planner as you shop for gifts, and mark down the gifts you purchase. You never know when inspiration might strike – you might decide the traditional Hawaiian gift of a pineapple is perfect for your neighbor while walking through the produce section, for example.

Download a Holiday Gift List for your planner:

Holiday Gift List – Pocket: JPG PDF

Holiday Gift List – Compact: JPG PDF

Holiday Gift List – Classic:  JPG PDF

Holiday Gift List – Monarch: JPG PDF

2. Plan Your Parties: from guest lists to ingredient lists to decorations to daily reminders, your planner can handle the rigors of planning a party. Mark off RSVPs, plan out your errands, and watch everything fall into place for a stress-free get-together.

3. Prepare for Guests: if you’re having family or friends from out of town staying with you this holiday season, help their trip be memorable in a good way. Jot down reminders to prepare your guest rooms before they arrive. Research fun local activities happening on the dates that your guests will be with you. Then you’ll have options for entertaining, giving your guests a choice between a night on the town and a cozy evening at home with your family.

4. Holiday Card List: Yes, it’s that time again. As you prepare to send out holiday cards this year, brainstorm a list of recipients in your planner. Then you can print out address labels and take your cards to a more comfortable spot than your computer desk. Mark names off as you hand write each card, and your season’s greetings will be that much more personal and meaningful.

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. 

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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Business Card Bombardment!

By Naomi Cook

As a self-employed business owner, aside from working with clients in their homes, I spend a lot of time in my home office. It’s wonderful to get out of the office and network with new people who can help you and your business grow. However, while a lot of networking can help both you and your business grow, it can also create a dust covered growth on the corner of your desk…yes, stacks and stacks of business cards!

It’s not atypical to arrive home from a networking session with a dozen to a couple dozen business cards. Don’t panic…we can work through this together! Follow these simple steps when you get home from your networking event, so you have the people that the cards belong to fresh in your mind. Don’t stress about this too much, the process should be quick and painless!

1) Lay out the cards in front of you and first pull the ones that you want to take immediate notes on, if you haven’t had the opportunity to do so at the event. Write down anything of interest that you talked about with a person, even if it’s a hobby that the two of you share.

2) Take 3 sticky notes and jot the following three words down, one on each. Grab 3 rubber bands as well to group the cards together in each category.

  • Contact – If they are someone to call or e-mail about an upcoming opportunity.
  • LinkedIn – If they are someone who you don’t need to talk to about anything at this point but simply want to add them to your LinkedIn account to stay connected.
  • Referral – If they are someone who you think could help another one of your contacts.

business cards

3) Set up time in your schedule within the next few days to focus on each group.

So what is there to do now, now that you have gone through them? How do you go about storing them? Well, that depends on your personal preference. Consider the following options:

If you and your smart phone are attached at the hip, then consider one of the business card scanning apps out there. There are so many, so it’s best to check out the ones available to your phone, read the reviews, and decide which one is best for you. After you scan all of the cards, you can toss them in the recycling bin if you so choose!

If you would like to keep the cards (some of them are really great looking!), then consider filling any binder with plastic business card pages designed to hold business cards. You should be able to find these in any office supply store. Or, go old school and get a Rolodex! Keep either in order alphabetically or by occupation.

However you decide to handle your business cards, remember that the main point of collecting them is keeping in contact with new people who can help you. Oh and don’t forget to dust your desk once in a while!

Recipe for Receipts

By Monica Friel

receipt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monica Friel

 

October 2014 To-Do Checklist

October is here; let the taste and smell of pumpkin begin! It’s time to pull out the sweaters and boots. Time to watch the leaves change colors. October is a great time for family and to begin your holiday preparations.1310022 ToDoList_Classic5

October Checklist Classic Size

October Checklist Compact Size

October Checklist Pocket Size

30th Anniversary Story: Larrissa Geiger

Read Larrissa’s story to hear how her father passed down the gift of organization into her life.

My experience with the Franklin Covey system began with my dad. He worked in outside sales, and always had his “arm” with him. He wrote down EVERYTHING in that planner. Over the years his dedication to recording all of his calls, visits etc. helped us to figure out that he was having some serious health issues and to get him healthy again. Because of his constant example of using his planner, Dad was instrumental in me developing (or begin to develop) my own habit of use.

PhotoWhen I began a new job as office manager, he encouraged me to pick out a planner and the pages that I liked, going so far as to buy a complete system for me for my birthday that year. I have now had that same planner for close to 10 years.

Over the years, I have picked it up and put it back on the shelf. I have been using it steadily for the past five years, and now I find that it helps me more and more to organize the multiple roles in my life….Wife, mom, employee (juggling multiple projects), business owner/partner, volunteer and brainstorming how to start my own business. Over the years, I have discovered and changed the way that I use my planner, but I always find myself at a loss when I’m not actively using it.

Sincerely,

Larrissa Geiger

Wanna Get Organized? 4 Must-Do Steps

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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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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5 Easy Steps to Let Go of Clutter & Reclaim Your Life

By Carmen Coker

Have you tried to get organized before, either on your own or perhaps with the help of a book, magazine, or course, but with no luck?

This is a common outcome because, most of the time, organizing tools are about de-cluttering your space. While this is an important part of the get-organized equation and should not be ignored, it is only a single, small component of your large, full life.

You see, organizing is more than just organizing the stuff around you. It is organizing you – all parts of you and your environment – so that you feel balanced, fulfilled, and happy. Transitioning from traditional to holistic organizing mindsets and techniques is one small change that can make all the difference not only in your efforts to get organized, but also in your overall health and wellness.

In this same spirit, here are five powerful-yet-easy steps to let go of clutter and reclaim your life:

1) Think beyond the space around you.

[PROBLEM] When picturing the clutter in your life, it is normal to think about the piles and stacks – the “stuff” in your space. However, there are actually six types of clutter that influence your general well-being: physical, virtual, behavioral, emotional, mental, and temporal (of time).

[FIX] Brainstorm a list of what you are tolerating in your life, which is often helpful in identifying which types of clutter are adversely impacting you. Select a single toleration from this list each week, and take steps toward either positively changing it or eliminating it altogether.

2) Visualize your path to becoming an organizing superstar.

[PROBLEM] Like the proverbial can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees analogy, it becomes difficult to imagine yourself, totally organized, when your life is a disorganized mess. Instead, feelings of overwhelm (Where do I start?), frustration (Why is this so hard?), and guilt (Why can’t I do this?) hijack your heart and mind.

[FIX] Let go of the negative “I can’t” or “it won’t work for me” attitudes for good. Visualize your path to organizing and simplifying success, envision reaching beyond the grasp of chaos and clutter, and take your results to the next level.

3) Tap into your organizing personality.

[PROBLEM] Viewing amazingly organized homes in magazines makes you feel as if that ideal is what you must achieve in order to finally get organized. While there is nothing wrong with trying to be Martha Stewart, it can backfire if the concept does not fit your habits, routines, personality, and lifestyle.

[FIX] Analyze how you operate, day in and day out, and determine where you can improve upon or implement systems to make your life easier. Craft organizing systems that work with you and for you – systems you love – rather than trying to copy those that look good in glossy magazines.

4) Use your core values as a filter.

[PROBLEM] In every moment of your life, you live in choice. While this may seem like an oh-yeah fact, human beings often lack mindfulness about personal space and time when making decisions, and this can let in clutter on many levels.

[FIX] Select your top five core values (such as faith, family, excellence, independence, and love) and constantly utilize them to screen decisions, big or small, about what you purchase, how to use your time, what type of habits you allow, and more.

5) Practice reciprocity with your space and time.

[PROBLEM] Given the busyness of the world, it is not unusual for you to want to have more free time or more space for what is most important. On the flip side, it is also not unusual to complicate your life by doing more and acquiring more than is truly necessary.

[FIX] Be consciously aware of how you treat your space and your time – both resources are gifts, and it is important to treat them as such if you want more of each to open up to you. In the end, if you do not value and honor the time and space you have, neither will value and honor you.

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 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 this company.)

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.”

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.)

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 

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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Daylight Saving Time Ends November 4, 2012

Don’t forget to “Fall Back” this weekend. Winter is on its way with shorter days and longer nights. It’s time to adjust our clocks to fit Mother Nature’s schedule. We suggest turning all your clocks back before you go to bed, but after your children fall asleep. It will give you one more hour of quiet at the end of the day. Changing the clock can also serve as a great reminder to change all the batteries in your smoke alarms.

 

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.