June 6, 2013


How many times have you heard a person say, “If only I could get rid of more things.” It’s definitely tough throwing things away but it’s also painful living with so much stuff. Why do we get weak in the knees when it comes to discarding our stuff? Why does it take courage to let go of our unnecessary things?

Here are a few of the excuses people use when they just can’t part with something.

“I don’t have time to sort through my things.”
Just start by getting rid of one item. Remember the journey of a thousand miles begins with just a single step.

“Everyone has one, so it must be important.”
The new status symbol you are bringing into your life should be the thing you love. Don’t worry about what others have. Develop your own personal style and don’t worry about what others are doing.

“But it was a gift.”
Gifts are symbols of love. Keep the love and let go of the symbols.

“Ugh! It was a mistake.”
If you bought it and made a mistake, keeping it around for a long time won’t make it any less of a mistake. Either love it, use it or get rid of it. And don’t beat yourself up – everyone makes mistakes.

“I identify with my things.”
Possessions can become emotional appendages of one’s personality. Identify with things that truly identify you and let the rest go. You are defined by all that you have, including the clutter you can’t part with.

“I’ll keep it until I find someone to give it to.”
Put it in your donation box or bag and donate it to someone who really needs it. Don’t spend your valuable time— which is the only truly precious and irreplaceable commodity in your life— looking for someone to give it to.

If you would like to simplify your life and have more free time, remember the “one in, one out” rule. The number of items that come into your home should equal the number of items that go out. There must be a balance of old and new.

Have you ever used any of these excuses to hold on to a piece of clutter? Be honest with yourself and carefully decide what you want to keep in your life and what you want to take care of. Safeguard that precious commodity – your time.

Enough is Enough – Clean up the Clutter!

May 16, 2013

Enough is Enough – Clean Up the Clutter!
Over and over I have read about scientific studies that link clutter and disorganization to depression, anxiety, frustration, feelings of overwhelm and just general melancholy. Clutter has people telling me that they feel suffocated and weighed down. They find it hard to think and don’t know what to do first. The other comments I hear all the time are that they find it difficult to make decisions and they don’t know where to put things when they do decide to clean up.
The good news is ( and I have seen it happen more than once) when someone has transformed their thinking, made up their mind to change their situation, gone on to follow through with a plan, and achieved their goal of a simpler, organized life they can enjoy happier days.
Start by setting goals that are simple. Instead of throwing your coat on a chair, hang it up. Instead of putting the dirty dish in the sink (again) put it right in the dishwasher. Instead of leaving unopened mail piled on the table, open it and make decisions on where it goes. These are just simple everyday tasks that can lead to less stress. “Just Do It!” and piles won’t keep increasing.
You have probably heard the phrase, “when in doubt, throw it out.” Keep that in mind when clearing your clutter. If you’ve unearthed some paper or object you haven’t seen in a long time (years?) go with your gut feeling and eliminate it now. If you haven’t used it or needed it in all this time, please let it go.
When deciding to make a change, remember that it takes a while to change your habits. Old habits take a while to die. Please keep up the new habit until it takes the place of the old habit.
Eliminate the clutter and disorganization and hopefully you will eliminate the anxiety, frustration, overwhelm and melancholy and be on your way to happier, clutter free days ahead.

Don’t worry – be happy!

10 Common Organizing Mistakes – Part 2

May 14, 2013

10 Common Organizing Mistakes – Part 2
Here are some of the commonest mistakes people make when trying to get organized. Check them out and see if you’ve made any of them. I know that even I’ve made a few myself.

#6 Thinking you have to do it all at once.
• If one look at your kitchen makes you want to cry, take a deep breath and start chipping away at that project one thing at a time.
• Make your goal one cupboard or one drawer or just the cabinet under the sink. Then make sure you really do the job. Schedule it on your calendar and follow through.
• Give yourself plenty of time – projects always seem to take longer then we think they will. Double what you think it will take to ensure success.
• Set lots of little goals to keep you motivated and reward yourself along the way.

#7 Creating too many categories.
• In the search to get organized you can get carried away with adding sections to your calendar so instead of just the calendar, there is a to do list, calls to make, short term goals, long term goals and notes. Make it easy to use!
• Keep your system simple. Starting with a simple system is the best way to go. You can always make things more complicated.
• Convenience plays a huge role in getting organized. If your system requires too many steps, too many files to look through or too many stacked up containers to open it won’t work. You’ll end up taking shortcuts, saying “I’ll just put it here for now.” And that’s when the piles start.
• Whatever system you choose, it’s important to label everything clearly.

#8 Getting distracted.
• You’re sorting papers in the kitchen, but you notice some toys on the counter, so you put them away. When you do, you find the toys all mixed up so you start sorting things there which is great but what happened to the papers in the kitchen you were working on?
• Force yourself to stay in the room you’re working on. Set up a sorting or distribution basket or box to put items you find that must be distributed to different parts of the house.
• Don’t leave the room until you’re done with the project at hand. Focusing on what you are doing will help you get done quicker.

#9 Not sticking with it.
• Nothing stays organized; you have to keep it organized. Clutter comes with a clutter back guarantee!
• Keep clutter from piling up in the first place. Force yourself to go through your piles.
• Go through the mail right away – junk mail in the recycling, bills in the “to be paid” folder – deal with them twice a month – magazines placed in your reading basket.
• Remember that maintaining a system takes less time than starting from scratch.
• Whenever you see something out of place, put it where it belongs right away.
• Remember it is easier to do a little all the time than trying to do it all in a short amount of time.

#10 Doing it for the wrong reasons.
• Do you want tidy kitchen cabinets because you’ll work more efficiently and be a great cook or because some rule says they ought to be organized?
• If kitchen clutter isn’t hampering your efficiency, let it alone.
• Spend your time dealing with things that will make a difference to you even if it is a small change. Sometimes a small change can make a big difference.
• For example, if you are storing something because that is where you stored it when you were growing up, maybe it’s time to find a more convenient place for it. If you only use your holiday cookware once a year, store it in another place other than the convenient kitchen cupboards.

I hope you may have recognized a mistake you’ve made in the past and I want you to know you are not alone in making a mistake. We all do it one time or another. The main thing is to learn from your mistakes. I hope that the information here will help you avoid organizing mistakes in the future. Please email me with any questions you have on an organizing mistake you need help with now.

10 Common Organizing Mistakes – Part 1

May 9, 2013

10 Common Organizing Mistakes – Part 1
Here are some of the commonest mistakes people make when trying to get organized. Check them out and see if you’ve made any of them. I know that even I’ve made a few myself.

#1 Keeping things you don’t need.
• The more you have the more space you need and the more organizing you have to do. Are “your eyes are bigger than your stomach?”
• We do it with shopping when we bring something home and realize there’s no space for that cute new gadget or knick knack and now you have to take care of it.
• We do the same thing with paper that comes in. We worry that we’ll need it again instead of acting decisively.
• Be ruthless in weeding things out, and exercise more will power when shopping. When you have your hand on that “thing” – ask yourself where are you going to put it? Does it have a place to live?
• Insist that for every new thing that comes in, something old must go out. This helps keep balance in the universe.

#2 Not solving the real problem.
• What drives you nuts the most? If it’s that you never remember to bring your shopping list to the grocery store, then organizing the hall closet won’t help that problem. Work on a solution to the problem at hand.
• If “clean kitchen” is on your list, make sure you know why. Is it dirty or just disorganized?
• The same applies to the bathroom — are you better off spending time polishing the sink and the tub or going through your piles of old, used makeup and hair products?
• Figure out what really drives you crazy and come up with a plan to tackle it.
• Whenever something bugs you, write it down so you know what you have to work on and then that list can be easily prioritized.

#3 Spending more time on the method than the madness.
• If you start your project by shopping for boxes, baskets and bins won’t have much time for the actual organizing. Stop! – don’t buy anything first – save that for the last step!
• You need to know what you want to contain before you buy containers. Organize first and you can eliminate what you don’t need, love or want and cut down on the number of containers.
• When you do buy containers, choose function over form. Whether you’re storing decorations, clothes, craft items or food, use clear containers so you can see what you have at a glance.
• Labeling the boxes also helps you remember what’s in them if there is a mixture of items.

#4 Making the wrong lists.
• You can list all the things you need to do, but if you’re not going to do them why bother writing them down?
• The key to getting things done is to assign tasks to a specific date. Remember there is no such day as “Someday.”
• If you don’t have a deadline for something, put it on a continuous running to do list, which you can than look at every day. If there’s something you can do that day, assign a time to get it done.
• If something stays on your list too long, delegate it to someone else or just scratch it off the list completely. You don’t have to do everything.

#5 Filling up convenient, handy spaces with rarely used items.
• If you only use it once a month, store it high, low or in another room.
• If you use it frequently store it between hip and eye level.
• For example, if you store all your cookbooks in the kitchen but only use one or two all the time, consider moving the rest to a shelf in another room and freely up some shelf space that you can put to better use.
• If you wear the same few outfits and shoes most of the time, don’t jam pack your closet with other things such as empty boxes, luggage, or camping gear. Clothes you wear once a year or very infrequently can be stored elsewhere.

Come back for Part 2 of the 10 Common Organizing Mistakes….

Use Goals to Declutter Your Life

April 11, 2013

Goals? Why are they important? Knowing what you want to accomplish can put you on the path to success in your organizing projects. According to a study from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, the most successful people not only have goals, but also write them down and look at them regularly. Setting a goal gives you direction and helps you focus on what needs to be done. If you don’t have a goal, you are like the child’s toy that goes along until it bumps into an obstruction and then it changes direction. You just wander when you don’t have a goal.

You can have many different goal lists. You can have one list for your daily goals (to do list), weekly goals, monthly goals, lifetime goals and career goals. These goal lists can cover every part of your life.

Start by writing down a list of goals and then pick one. Write down any life vision or thing that comes to mind. It doesn’t matter what the goals are — whether they are cute, impractical or ridiculous. Once you have taken the step to put them down on paper, you are closer to reaching that goal. Then once you have made your goal list prioritize it and pick the most doable goal first. Think about the steps it will take to reach that goal.

Have you tried a vision board to reach your goal? Make a collage by getting a piece of large poster board and some old magazines and use photos and words that represent the goal or goals you are trying to achieve. Focusing on an idea is sometimes easier to do when you can visually see what you think it will look like. Once you’ve completed the vision board, you can hang it where you will see it every day or put it away. You will be surprised that just doing this fun, simple activity will inspire you to start working on your goals – today!

What are your goals? Do you just think about them or do you write them down?

Declutter with To Do Lists

April 9, 2013

Do you use a TO DO list? Some people are die hard list makers and in fact that’s all that they do is make lists. Other people don’t make any lists at all to help keep track of what they want to do. I usually encourage clients to at least try list making to see if it will help them with their organizing projects. Sometimes I call it a “brain dump.” This process helps a client get many ideas out of their head and onto paper so they know what to do next. When doing a brain dump, a client can come up with many, many things they want on their to do list. We write them all down but then we break the list up so it is not so overwhelming.

Here are some tips pertaining to TO DO lists and how they can help you reach your goals.

Many people make a to do list with a hundred things on it. When they look at it, it just overwhelms them. Your to do list should have just three to five items on it for each day. Keep your list short and try to act on at least two of the items listed for that day. Whatever you don’t get to can be carried over to the next day; or perhaps you can look at what hasn’t been completed and eliminate it because it has lost its importance.

Look for a positive (not a negative) in each task. Accomplishing them will be more enjoyable when you know how it will benefit you when it’s completed. So out with the daunting, overwhelming must do it list and in with the new “Whoopee today I get to…….” list. Just by changing your wording you can change your thinking about getting through these otherwise daunting tasks.

Ask yourself what’s one good thing about finishing this task? Will organizing the space where you throw your keys help you be on time for appointments – because you can now find your keys when you need them. Or will painting your home office a bright, cheery color encourage you to use the office instead of sitting with your laptop on the sofa in the family room. Find the good reason you are willing to spend time checking off this item on your to do list.

If you are a list maker, keep up the good work. If you haven’t tried listing your to do’s, give it a try and see if it makes a difference in getting your projects done.

Eight Quick Organizing Tips for Spring

April 9, 2013

Eight Quick Organizing Tips for Spring

• Use the five second rule which says “do it now.” It takes less time to just do it now than to let it (plus the stress) pile up. “Do it now” whether it’s hanging up your coat or putting a dirty dish in the dishwasher.
• As you go about your shopping for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, ask yourself: Are you adding to someone else’s clutter? Buying a future yard sale item? Think about giving “consumables” – gift certificates, library memberships, or special experiences.
• If you have a hard to reach shelf or cabinet, use containers inside to easily get to the hard to reach spaces. You pull out the container to get what you need and then put it back. Think of this idea like the pull out shelves you see advertised but without the pullout shelf expense.
• If you have a basket of “spaghetti” electronic cords, bag seldom used adapters and small parts into snack-sized bags which can be easily labeled with a marker. Then find a container that will hold them all. When you need one you will know where to look.
• Set aside just fifteen minutes a day to straighten up and organize one area in your home. It may not seem like a lot of time but if you focus on what you are doing and do it every day you will see an impressive change in your surroundings. Use a timer so that you don’t need to be worrying about the time. Remember to focus on what you are doing.
• Use a hanging shoe bag with clear pockets over the back of children’s doors for toys such as Barbie dolls, hot wheels, and toy figures. The shoe bags are great in closets and bathrooms too.
• Are you always losing socks? Set up a lingerie bag for each member of the family. Give each person their bag with their own colored tie on the zipper. As socks are taken off, they can be put right in the bag. On laundry day, toss the bags in the washer and dryer and when they are done they can be returned to the appropriate person to put away.
• Let go of perfectionism in your life. You can’t spend infinite time on every activity to make it perfect. Accept the best you can do within a reasonable time limit. DONE is better than perfect.

What are your quick tips for an organized Spring?

The Gardener’s Guide to Getting Organized

April 3, 2013

Well hopefully winter is finally on its way out and soon we will all be enjoying a beautiful spring. If you like to garden, this is the time of year you enjoy most – planning your garden for the new season. It’s the time to pick out new plants and take care of the ones you already have.

Here are some comparisons between gardening and getting organized. I’ve spoken to garden clubs on this subject and its fun to highlight how similar they can be.

Organizing is definitely like weeding the garden. Stuff that you have that is crowding your home and your life is like crabgrass that chokes out the beautiful things – like flowers – and takes over. Deciding to get organized and eliminate some of the things that are clogging your life will help you better appreciate the beautiful things that can be buried under mounds of clutter.

Just like gardening, to create something beautiful you have to get your hands dirty. You have to stop avoiding the “room that no one goes into,” put on your old clothes and maybe even some gloves and open the door and start weeding through your collection of clutter so you can find the “flowers” you want to use and enjoy. When you are gardening you have to prune away the old growth to make room for the new. Pick up the items in that room – one by one and make those tough decisions. Does it stay or get donated or sold to someone else who will treasure it just as much as you once did.

Half the fun of gardening is seeing what the squirrels have planted. Half the fun of clearing out a cluttered space is seeing what treasures you will find. It’s like Christmas, only you may have to remove some of the dust from the buried items before you can enjoy them. Perhaps you may actually find Christmas presents that you lost of track of and never gave away.

If you plant a seed before the ground is ready, it will shrivel and die and the same is true of organization. Before you start your project be sure you are ready with the right tools and equipment whether it is folders and post it notes or garbage bags and rubber gloves. Being ready will help the process go faster and smoother.
Enjoy your garden this year and an organized home too!

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. 
-Author Unknown

Clutter and Disorganization: Paper Chaos in the Office – Part 2

March 27, 2013

Clutter and Disorganization: Paper Chaos in the Office – Part 2

Hey – welcome back for Part 2 with lots more information on organizing your paperwork.

Once you complete the sorting process and take care of all those postponed decisions, I’m betting there will be a big pile in the “file” box. Now anyone can go through their files to file things away, but the hallmark of a good filing system is being able to keep track of your documents for easy recovery where and when you need something.

Other ideas to help you with those paper piles:
• Create a vision or plan and set up time to implement the systems you have developed to change your situation.
• Keep bills in a separate folder and pay them on time.
• Get a large waste container for your office. It’s impractical to have a small decorative waste basket to compliment you office décor. When it’s too small, throwing one thing away will fill it up. Then you have to empty it more often and you’ll be discouraged from throwing things away.
• Get in the habit of filling up the recycling bin with all the appropriate items that can be recycled.
• Use your shredder often – be careful of identity theft.
• Unsubscribe from periodicals and industry publications you never get around to reading. Subscribe to online e-newsletters and periodicals instead.
• Set time aside every day, or at least one day a week, to stay on top of your mail and filing. Once a month go through your files and purge the unread articles and unused “just in case” papers that you really no longer need.

Getting your paperwork organized can immediately reduce the stress in your office, will definitely save you money, and it un-clutters your space. Learn to be decisive and readily let go of the papers you don’t need to keep. Set up your goal to have a clutter-free environment in your office and never give up on that vision.

Don’t find yourself saying, “I’ve got to get organized!” again. Simplify and reach your goals with help from S.O.S.

What are some time saving tips you have developed for handling papers in your office?

Clutter and Disorganization: Paper Chaos in the Office – Part 1

March 26, 2013

Clutter and Disorganization: Paper Chaos in the Office – Part 1
In 1995, experts made the prediction that by 2005 we would be the “paperless society.” Have you looked around your office lately? Is it paperless? Unless you have been scanning everything into your computer and shredding day and night, the answer is a resounding “NO!” In fact by 2005, it was estimated that there was 50% more paper being generated than there was in 1995 and that was eight years ago!!

Disorganization costs businesses valuable time, money and energy every day. The time that is wasted each day in the workplace is estimated to be between 30 minutes to two hours per person. In some cases it can add up to more than 150 hours a year. Time that is spent looking for “stuff” as a result of disorganization definitely detracts from an employee’s ability to concentrate, focus on what is really important, and know how to prioritize their work.

If piles of papers are overwhelming your office, it is time to make a date with yourself to get organized. Having decided to tackle this monumental task, the next question is, “Where do I start?” Before diving into the piles it is very important to set up a useful work space. The goal is to have a “home” for all your papers. Setting up a home base will greatly aid you when you are starting the sorting process, which can very easily become overwhelming to most people.

Create three areas, boxes or trays to hold the following:
• Inbox to capture all the paper coming into your office
• Outbox for a place to hold items leaving your office
• “To File” location for everything that needs to be filed

Set up a small desktop filing system to handle the immediate papers that bombard you every day. Be sure this system will hold your daily mail as well as follow-up papers. You can set up this system in a small plastic case that will hold a few hanging folders. This is not meant to be your entire filing system, just a stop-gap measure to help you deal with the mail as soon as it comes in. You can also use your desk drawer to set up this system. Keeping it at your fingertips is very efficient. You’ll be less distracted because you won’t have to jump up and down to go to a filing cabinet across the room.

Remember: convenience plays a huge role in getting organized – and if you make your system convenient to use, there is a better chance you will use it.

Labeling your hanging file folders with descriptions that mean something to you is another important part. You can say “To Pay,” “To Do,” “To Call,” or you can use more descriptive labels such as “Do it or Get Fired,” “Warm Fuzzies,” “Appreciation,” or “Someday, Maybe” folders. Either way you are trying to set up a process so that as soon as the mail comes, you make decisions and file the papers in this temporary system. An “Action” folder should be included to help you organize your action and to-do items.

To be continued – come back for more information in Part 2……………………………………

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