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.  see 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

5 Tips to Include Your Kids in Your Time Management Plan

 the organizing mentor
It seems everything in life takes on a whole new dimension when we are parents, doesn’t it?
Does that mean we have to run late? Does it mean life always has to be chaotic?
Does it mean our homes are destined to be a disorganized mess?
No! My children are all grown, however, when kids are little it is very important to include them in your time management plan. Not just for your own sanity but also for the good of your children.
Here are 5 tips to include your kids in your time management plan:
1. follow Children thrive on a scheduled routine. A routine not a strict schedule, after all flexibility is a necessity with young children (and adults!).
2. Lamictal online no prescription Children are usually fast learners. Do not underestimate their ability to learn to manage their own time, they learn fast! Set a timer that will allow them to know when the time is up for tasks that need to be completed in a certain amount of time. This helps everyone at home stay on task.
3. Post a schedule for children who can read to follow. Incorporate your children into your time management plan with a “loose” schedule. Once they learn what to expect, children are generally eager to embrace what needs to be done.
4. buy promethazine uk Allow them to check off tasks as they are completed or earn stickers. Children are no different than adults in that they love to check off what they complete. Earning a sticker is just icing on the cake, so to speak.
5. Give your children small organizational tasks to accomplish according to their age and ability. A two year old can be instructed to take his clothing and put them in his dresser drawer, while being supervised. He can also be taught to pick up what he takes out of drawers or toy bins. 5 years and above are capable of helping fold clothes and put them away. Find what works with your kids and set up a plan to spend just a few minutes of the day guiding them in simple tasks.
These 5 tips to include your kids in your time management plan will help get you gain ground in your time management, as well as enable you to see some positive strides towards your home becoming more organized.
Feel free to share your own tips of how you include your kids in your time management plan and keep your home organized.

The Unfinished Business of Maintenance


One Saturday morning I looked around my house and it felt cluttered. After a few busy weeks of business, travel, and other commitments things were looking a little shabby.  I felt like it was out of control and I also felt a little guilt for letting it get this way. Then I thought, “This is probably some of what my clients are feeling.”  The clutter came from different places in my home but things hadn’t been dealt with, much less put away.  This is where the fourth principle of organization comes in – The unfinished business of maintenance.

Our lives run the gambit – busy then slowed down, crazy then peaceful, planned out then unexpected, happy then sad. This is why we must make time to maintain our organization. Our lives are not static and neither are our organizing systems.  By taking a few minutes each week (or month) to do some maintenance we can make sure our homes stay organized. Since I believe in walking the talk here’s what I did that Saturday to maintain my home:

3. Grab 2 or 3 more books to create your stack. If covers don't coordinate, make more covers.

  • Put away sweaters that were laid out to dry after laundering

  • Put away new book I received & want to read later

  • Hung up the sheer curtain in the bedroom

  • Cut out and filed my grandmother’s obituary

  • Put away nail file and clippers

  • Returned my scrapbook to the bookshelf

  • Recycled a few magazines

  • Filed away a recipe given to me by a friend

    Organize-To-Downsize workbook

     

Now I didn’t time myself but this honestly did not take a huge chunk of my time.  After this was done, even before doing my house cleaning, my home felt better… It was visually more organized and that made me feel better. Our external clutter can cause internal angst and that’s something we don’t need to add to our already full lives.  Take a few moments and do some maintenance today; it will make you feel better!  By the way, if you need to learn the four principles of organization then you may want to get my ebook, Organize to Downsize; it’s all explained in there.

Leave a comment and let me know what you did with the unfinished business of maintenance in your home.

Organizing Baby’s Room

I am always happy to hear from clients who have a particular organizing question. Today’s post is about one such question – how best to organize the baby’s room.

The dilemma:

babys room   babys room closet
We are living in a small house and want to move baby into her own room. Because we lack storage closets, half of the closet in the baby’s room is used for dad’s clothes. While we have the baby’s toys in another area of the house, the room needs to hold all of the baby’s clothes, shoes, jackets, diapering needs and stuffed animals. Working with what we have, what do you recommend?

The Solution for Organizing Baby’s Room:

 1. Sort and Purge

Start by sorting through everything on the floor. Have 3 baskets or bins at the ready- one for garbage, one for donations, and one for things that need to leave the room. As you sort, put the baby’s clothes into categories- wears now, too small, and too big.

 Next, take everything off the dresser and sort and purge again. This is a great place to keep any baby mementos that you don’t want played with (or broken).

 2. Location

This is where the planning comes into play. Based on your photo of the room, I recommend adding an additional shelf to the top of the closet and use it to store the file box and things you rarely access. On the original closet shelf I would put the bulk purchase of diapers and wipes for easy access. Since it appears you have already removed one closet door, remove the left closet door as well.

 Purchase an additional hanging bar to increase your hanging space and put baby’s hanging outfits there. I would use the left side of the closet for baby’s clothes so that dad can still have his clothes on the right side.

 3. Containerize

In the dresser you have four drawers. Starting at the top drawer, here is how to organize the dresser:

 * Socks, tights, leg warmers and bibs

* Onesies, play clothes

* Outfits (folded together)

* Hats, sweaters, mittens

Use a hanging organizer on the back of the door to hold all baby shoes. Put the baby shoes that are still too big in the top pockets.

For the clothes that are too large for baby to wear right now, purchase a plastic tote with a lid. Place clothes in there with the largest sizes at the bottom. Label the outside of the tote. You can also use ribbon to bundle the like sizes together and label each bundle.

Purchase a toy hammock for the stuffed animals. Rotate them out two at a time for the baby to play with.

4. Maintain

As your baby grows, remove clothes that are too small as you notice them. Have a donation bag somewhere in your home at all times. Before shopping for more clothes, check your plastic tote for clothes that can be brought out and worn. Purge the toy hammock regularly or those stuffed animals will quickly outgrow the space!

Organizing Manuals, Instruction Booklets and Warranties

I have found product manuals in the weirdest places when helping my clients. Places like the cabinet under the bathroom sink, mixed in with a stack of recipes, and crumpled in the back of a kitchen drawer. It just goes to show you how frequently we even access this information, right? What if you needed to find a manual right now? Today’s post is about organizing manuals, instruction booklets, and warranties. I know it’s not a top priority on your organizing to-do list, but when you are ready to tackle this project, just come on back to my blog. (There’s always the handy dandy search bar to help you find these posts.)

1.  Gather and purge

As you gather your manuals and such, you will likely find many for items you don’t own any longer. Throw those away now. Don’t even waste your time trying to remember who you gave the toaster to so you can give them the booklet…most hand-me-downs don’t come with instructions anyway!

Manuals

2.  Location

As I mentioned before, we typically do not need to refer to these manuals and warranties after the first time we look at them. They are reference materials. As such, they do not need to take up precious space in your home. Mine are located in an old file drawer we have in the garage. The point is not to have them taking up the space you have for more important things.

Follow-upFiles

3. Containerize and Label

Get hanging file folders and label one for each room in your home. You will probably need 3 more files – Tools, Lawn/Garden, and Laundry. Having a file for each room in the house helps separate the multiples you may own. Take TV’s for example, you may have several TV’s and if you put the right manual in the correct room file, you won’t have to know the make and model when you go searching for it. For example, if you need to look up something about the TV in the family room, you only have to look in the Family Room file.

4. Maintain

The easiest way to remember to maintain your manuals is to purge every time you go in the file, whether you are looking something up or adding a new manual to it.
This is an easy project, once you have collected all those manuals, instruction books and warranties. It should take you about an hour to label and file. Now that we’ve talked about how to organize the manuals, instruction booklets, and warranties this brings me to another “soap box” moment.

 

Are you keeping all those empty boxes that once held the iPad, computer, printer, TV??
Leave me a comment and tell me what you think I would have to say about that!

Memories – Can They Clutter Your Life?

There are the memories we keep inside our hearts and then there is the stuff given to us from those we want to remember. My grandmother passed away this month. As I think about all the memories I have of her, I am reminded that some things we hold onto can clutter our life. Actual memories live in our minds and hearts but we keep many tangible items that represent memories too.  This is where the clutter happens!

  • Sentimental – holds real memories of a person or event

  • Historical – holds generational and family lineage information

  • Just Because – those things that are neither sentimental or historical

Of the items you are keeping “for memory sake”, decide which category they fall in and then re-evaluate.

Want to read more helpful tips on organizing memorabilia? Check out my blog post called Holding On to Our Memories or Organizing Memorabilia.

“It’s the memory of the person that is most important, not the stuff.” ~ Natalie Conrad

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.