Taming the Paper Bill Monster

Do you have a ton of paper staring at you in your office or on your kitchen counter? Most of the time this is a big complaint.

Are some of those papers your monthly bills?

Many of us have files we’ve labeled “Telephone”, “Utilities”, “Water/Garbage”, “Cell Phone”,  “Credit Cars”… Sound familiar? We’ve set up these folders because that’s how our parents used to do it. So when we moved out of their home we did the same thing. Only, we hate to file them.  http://mbafoodcon.com/agenda/?share=tumblr Do you really need to keep those bills?

 

Probably not. While what I am going to say may make you feel a bit queasy or uncomfortable, I say it to help you eliminate the paper monster in your life.  No, I am not recommending that everyone go paperless, don’t worry.  I am recommending, however, that you embrace technology. Create passwords to your utilities, phone, and credit card accounts so you can access your information online at any time. Get comfortable with their websites so you begin to use this valuable resource.  You can look up past bills, see recent statements at the touch of a button. If you are reading this blog then you have access to the internet so use it and eliminate the need to keep all those paper bills.

It’s okay if you still want to get your paper statement (or you can request that they be sent to your email in box).  The point here is that you don’t need to file or keep those bills. After you pay a bill, shred it. The information is still there online anytime you need it.

So get comfortable and let go (if you haven’t already) – I double dare ya!

 

May is Combating Clutter Month at Organized Habits

This month I wanted to kick off May with Combating Clutter. For fun, I looked up a web definition of the word “clutter”. Here’s what I found:

clutter
clut·ter /ˈklətər/

Noun
A collection of things lying about in an untidy mess.

Verb
Crowd (something) untidily; fill with clutter.

Synonyms
confusion – muddle – mess – disorder – muss – jumble

clutter photo

Do those synonyms ring true when describing your home? Do you have a muddled mess filled with untidiness and disorder? Do you need to organize your home? You are not alone. Clutter is a problem many are combating on a daily basis. Many do not know where to start in getting the clutter under control and moving toward a more organized home/life. That’s what I am here for! As a Professional Organizer I help my clients create the new habit of being organized and living a clutter-free life.

This month I want to offer tips, tricks and solutions to help you get organized and on the right path to combating the clutter that has invaded your home. Stay tuned…..and be sure to share your own victories in combating clutter in the comment section below.

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

10 Reasons to Organize Your Closet

Today we are focusing on your clothes closet.  Let’s get going by looking at 10 reasons to organize your closet.

organize your closet

1.) You find yourself wearing the same outfits week after week
2.) You can’t shut your closet door(s)
3.) You can’t move your clothes hangers because it’s packed so tight in there
4.) You can’t find your favorite shirt but you are sure that it’s “in there somewhere”
5.) Your closet rods are sagging
6.) You can’t see the floor of your closet
7.) There’s a layer of dust on the shoulders of some outfits
8.) You can’t find the other shoe
9.) You have clothes now hanging on hooks behind every door
10.) You have clothes piled around your bedroom with nowhere to put them

If you can relate to any of these reasons, read the following articles on my blog and follow me through my closet organization (you’ll get to see the before and after)!

The Basics of Closet Organization

My Closet Transformation, Part 1

My Closet Transformation, Part 2

More Closet Tips

 

 

Managing the Calendar, Appointments and Tasks

Well, it’s back to basics for me. Over the past 60+ days I just really been struggling with managing my calendar, my appointments, and all the things I have to do. Yes, I know … I’m the organizer!

I had been using Google calendar via my iPhone and iPad for well over a year. It’s ideal in several ways, but there were the aspects I struggled with:

  • on my phone and my iPad I couldn’t read all the events for the entire month, in one of view; it was best to be sitting in front of my computer

  • on my phone, I could only read my appointments day by day

  • Google calendar took too long on my phone, in my humble opinion

  • on a few occasions appointments went missing on my phone (can’t figure that one out!)

Now for those techies out there, it may be that my iPhone and Google calendar are not ideal mates. In the grand scheme of things though, what is important?

follow url What is important is that I have a system that works for how I do things.

And the same could be said for you…

http://judylemarr.com/?p=1059 What is important is that YOU have a system that works for YOU?

Let’s just say, for the sake of this post, my system was broken. I thought about trying something new but also remembered that what I had used before worked. It never broke, I just got bored with it and thought I should try to get all my “essentials” on my phone. Or, as my friend Jessica would say, I had BSO syndrome.  BSO stand for bright-shiny-object; you know, that thing that catches your attention and lures you toward something else.

So, what did I use before? I used a Planner Pad.  This year, I am back to the Planner Pad. I even made a YouTube video about it a couple of years ago. I highly recommend going to view it if you want to know how it differs from the other paper based planners. (It’s just easier to show you than explain in writing.)

Here’s a couple of photos of my Planner Pad to pique your interest.

Why I went back to my Planner Pad:

  • I have immediate access to my calendar

  • I can see my whole month on 2 open pages

  • I can also see my whole week on 2 open pages

  • I can list my tasks based on the roles I play

  • I can funnel tasks into the week around the timed appointments of the calendar

  • I can jot quick notes on the same page as I am making appointments

  • I can see at a glance what was not completed

 So what kind of calendar or planner do you use? Is it a system that works for you? Have you ever struggled to maintain a calendar, your appointments and tasks? Would love to have you share your comments below.


Holiday Blog Series: Cleaning the House

Today’s holiday blog series is on cleaning the house. As busy as we get, we still want to have a clean house when guests arrive. Don’t stress! Don’t try to be a perfectionist, either.  But let’s be clear that this is not the time for deep cleaning.  I have put together a quick room by room cleaning routine to follow this holiday season.

First, before you even pick up that duster, grab a pen and paper. Stand in your entry, by your front door. Pretend you are a guest. What do you see first? What is your first impression?  Take notes as you walk through the main areas and bathroom of your home, seeing through the eyes of a visitor. Write down things that:

  • need decluttering   

  • need cleaning

  • need decorating

Next, set yourself up with a cleaning schedule. Choose one room a day and spend 15-20 minutes cleaning in there. Really – just 15-20 minutes. You can do this with a little focus and determination. Here are a few things to do, room by room, each week:

Entry

Living Area

Guest Bath

Kitchen

Guest Room

Declutter Declutter/ Pick up Declutter countersClean mirror Declutter counters (keep them as clear as possible daily) and clean stove top Change the sheets
*Clean flooring Clean flooring Clean flooring Clean flooring Clean flooring
Wipe down door trim/switch plates Dust Use disinfecting wipes for quick cleaning of sinks/faucets/ toilet seats Wipe down door trim/switch plates/handles Dust
Use large baskets to coral things to be put elsewhere Check shower, clean if needed; replenish soap Clean out/inventory refrigerator weekly Set up a guest basket with towels & travel sized shampoo/ toiletries
Put out new towels Shine your sink every night before bed (advice from flylady.net) Have a candle or air freshener in this room

(* Clean flooring = sweep, mop, vacuum – depending on the flooring in that room.)

I hope that laying it out in this format and telling you that you really only need to spend 15-20 minutes a day on this will give you a little peace of mind. It is doable!

When all else fails, you could hire a housekeeper for a “one time shine” for the holidays!

The Cookbook Conversation

 How many of you have more than one shelf of cookbooks? Many of my clients have several shelves of cookbooks that overflow into other areas of the home. Now, I’m not saying that you must limit your cookbooks to one shelf, but I do think that you should think about why you have so many and analyze if you need to keep all of them.

 organize your cookbooks

When I visited my mother, I found that she was no exception.  When I asked her if she used all the cookbooks, she quickly (and defensively) said “Yes!”.  Since I am always in a research mode; I wanted to know what clients like my mother are thinking/feeling. So I decided to “interview” my mother. Below is what I found out about cookbooks from her.

The Cookbook Conversation Reveals

 

  • Some cookbooks are given away over time, a few at a time

  • Some cookbooks have sentimental value

  • When wanting to cook with ingredients on hand, comparing recipes in a few cookbooks is helpful

  • There is enjoyment from just browsing through cookbooks sometimes

  • Some cookbooks are old friends; containing favorite recipes used over and over again

  • While the internet has a plethora of recipes, there are times when it just isn’t a substitute for a cookbook

Does this ring true for you?  I realize that cookbooks

are like any other type of book and sometimes very hard to part with (and for some very good reasons as stated above).

Here’s the cookbook I’ll NEVER let go.

It was given to me by my grandmother on my 16th birthday. I made my first Thanksgiving turkey in 1988 from this book. It’s one of those old friends and it very sentimental too. I have a few cookbooks in that category.

Look at your cookbook collection, are there some old friends? Are there also cookbooks you’ve never used?  Maybe they were gifts, but not really your “style”. It’s okay to let those go.

Keep the ones you want to keep… Just make sure you know which ones they are.

Give Yourself Credit for Organization

I taught a class recently and one of the first questions I asked the group was “In what one area of your life do you feel organized?” The faces of the audience began to drain… They were attending the class because they wanted to be organized and the question set them back. So I Ask YOU –

In what one area of your life do you feel organized?

This is a very important question. Most people I encounter need help with organization and cannot seem to formulate an answer (at least not quickly).

The truth is that everyone is organized in some area of their life. They may not realize that they are organized in that area because, well, it’s not a problem for them.

Many people have feelings of shame and guilt around being unorganized yet never give themselves credit for the areas they can organize. Acknowledging your success in organization is important. When you give yourself credit for organization it helps you to begin to think positively about yourself and your abilities and is empowering.

As I went around the room asking for a response to the questions I posed, there were all kinds of answers:

  • “my silverware is organized”

  • “my pantry and food consumables are organized”

  • “my books are organized”

  • “my finances are organized”

  • “my morning routine is organized”


    We are often stuck in the “unorganized mode” because we are paralyzed by the scope of the project. Remembering where you have taken control and are organized in other areas can help you begin to tackle the current area you wish to change.

    So, have you given yourself credit for where you are organized lately?




Ready, Set, Organize!

You have decided to finally get this (room, bookcase, closet, whatever) organized.  You have set aside the time and YOU ARE FINALLY GOING TO ORGANIZE.

So off to the store to get some organizing bins and maybe some cute labels…..

Wrong – DON’T DO THIS – I have seen it happen over and over again.  Organizing is work, organizing is not shopping…..

Let’s start off on the right foot, shall we?

Find an area near the location you will be working and set up some boxes.  These can be cardboard, plastic or even laundry baskets- use containers you already have.

Label them:

  • Goes Elsewhere

  • Give Away

  • Garbage

Goes elsewhere is for the things you find that you want to keep, but that do not belong where you found them.  Don’t leave the room, just put them in the box labeled goes elsewhere and keep working. At the end of your organizing session, you take that box around to the various locations in your home or office and put those things away in their proper home.

Give away is for those things you feel you can, well, give away.  You can donate them and get a tax deductible receipt or you can pass these items along to your family and friends (but ask them first if they even want it, don’t assume they do).

Garbage is for those things that just need to be thrown away.  If you are working in an area with lots of paper you may want two garbage receptacles – one for shredding and the other for recycling.

These boxes will help you stay focused and be clear about the decisions you are making.  And remember, no shopping (at least not at this point…)!

Organized Habits are Simply Routines

Do you remember Kindergarten?  organized routines

You walk into a magical room, filled with color and miniature chairs… Okay, while that’s true that’s not where I am going with this….


Kindergarten is the perfect example of having a routine.  And routines are essentially habits.  So… if you need “organized habits” you need to think about setting up some routines.   It is said that the best way to create a new habit is to pair it with an old habit.  Here’s an example:

I had a client who was the mother of 5 year-old triplet boys.  Can you imagine how busy she was?!  I came to help her with time management.  There was always so much going on in their life, that she felt like she was suffocating under the weight of trying to keep up  with everything.  She wanted to be a better time manager so that she would have a better handle on her day. 

After interviewing her, I learned that she would get up early, before the rest of the family, and make herself a cup of coffee then sit at the dining table to soak in the serenity (while it lasted). This was her morning routine.  So to incorporate some better time management strategies we decided that her calendar would be placed by the coffee pot every night before bed.  When she got up in the morning, she would go about her normal routine, with one change.  She would take her calendar with her to the dining table and review the days’ plans as she drank her coffee. She still had her quiet time but she also had a bird’s eye view of the rest of her day and what she would need to prepare,pack,etc. 

What new routine can you start to get more organized?

Use these questions below to help you can start a new routine:

  1. What is one new routine/habit you would like to have that would help you to be more organized?

  2. What tools (if any) are involved with this new routine/habit? (i.e. my planner)

  3. How much time is needed for this new routine/habit?

  4. What time of day do you want to do this? (i.e. at night before going to bed)

  5. What other routine do you have during this same time of day? (i.e. brushing my teeth)

  6. Can the established routine be paired with this new routine? Or at least act as a trigger to begin the new routine?

  7. When will you start this?

I would love to hear how you used these questions and what your new routine/habit is that you are wanting to start.  Please leave a comment.