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. 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!


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:


Living Area

Guest Bath


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!

4 Tips for Back to School Organization


It’s back to school time. In other words, it’s how we know to settle into another routine; summer has ended and fall is at our doorstep. I don’t have little ones in school any more but it still affects me because my husband teaches and my clients are all adjusting their schedules based on the school schedules in our area. I’d like to share 4 tips for back to school organization to help make your back to school transition a little easier.

  1. Have a Launch Pad

    This area of the home is for everyone who comes and goes daily. It should be near the door you most use to exit and enter your home. This is a place for shoes, coats, bags and backpacks, sunglasses, keys, and other things to leave with you.  It can be a coat closet, a piece of furniture or a simple bench with hooks on the wall above. When setting up your launch pad, look at the things that tend to collect near the door. Make a plan for the best use of the area you have to work with.  Check out my Pinterest Board called Mudroom/Launch Pad for ideas.
  2. Create a Collection Area for each Child

    This is especially important if you have children in elementary school. They are bringing home graded homework and artwork that they want you to see. Just like in your own office, make them an in-box.  This can be a plastic container, a wall pocket, a basket or even a cardboard flat (the kind from a case of soda). The idea is to give them an area to collect their papers and art. Want to know what to do with the papers after they land in this box? Read these blog posts : Managing the Paper Memorabilia and School Days memorabilia.
  3. Set up a Homework Station (or Homework Supply Station)

    It’s important to have an area for your children to do their work. No matter the location you choose, be sure that all the tools needed are at hand. Make up a kit of binder paper, notebooks, markers, pencils, eraser, pencil sharpeners and the like to have easily accessible for homework time. If the children do homework in their rooms then make sure the supplies are centrally located. Having a homework station is a key component to helping your children be successful with their homework habits.
  4. Establish Morning and Bed Time Routines

    Having a morning and bed time routine is critical for all members of your household, not just the children. Sit down and discuss with your family what things will make the mornings and bed time go more smoothly. Give yourself more time than you think it will take for these routines; you can always adjust after you have solidly established these routines. Some suggestions:
     – Lay out clothes the night before
     – End the day with reading rather than television or video games (the experts say this makes for better sleeping)
     – Pack lunches and backpacks the night before
     – Make the bed every day
     – Eat a good breakfast at home before leaving

It’s Simplify Your Life Week

Photo Credit: Use with permission from Country Primitive Gatherings

Which math equation is simplified?

10+20x+12-x or 22+19x

(No, you won’t be graded on your answer)

simplify: to make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier

So …
What can you do to simplify your life this week?

Tools Needed:

The right frame of mind!


  • clear out the entry and set up a place for your keys, glasses, mail, and purses to land

  • make a list of you favorite breakfast foods; group them together in a bin in the pantry for quick fixin’

  • get rid of all the extra bedding – keep 2 sheet sets and one blanket per bed

  • go through all your cleaning products and only save the ones that do more than one job

  • copy your favorite recipes and donate the recipe book

  • remove everything off your bathroom vanity and only put things back that are used every single day (put them in a basket)

Do you need help with more ways to simplify your life? Just give me a call!

I’m Noticing A Shift…

Silly title? Maybe, but it’s what this post is about. It’s about some self-observations too.

In my early mommy years, I got in the habit of buying Stride Rite shoes (i.e. leather, good quality) for my little ones and offsetting the expense by shopping at the thrift store for my own clothes and accessories.   I didn’t mind, really.  After all, thrift shopping is like an adventure.  You venture out, not knowing what you will find so you keep an open mind and an eagle eye out for bargains on quality merchandise.  As my kids got older, I kept shopping at thrift stores because, well, kids are expensive even before college starts!

Some of my favorite finds –

  • a blue dress that was casual or dressy depending on the jewelry and shoes

  • the $5 suit that I wore to speak at a large company

  • a Coldwater Creek jacket that looked amazing on me!

Ask my friends, I can find the jewels in the thrift store…  but alas, the shift. I recently visited my favorite thrift store in my old neighborhood/city.  I grabbed the cart, traced the usual route and after about one hour, I left the store… Empty-handed!

That had never happened before,

Managing Paper Memorabilia


Kids School/Artwork

–        Use a lidded box, color coded per child and label

–        Use large envelopes, labeled by year and child

–        Transfer yearly papers to labeled accordion file keeper

Travel/Sightseeing Memorabilia

–        Have a journal with you to notate date, locations, and events

–        Gather tourist brochures, postcards, etc. in journal

–        Transfer to accordion file keeper, categorized by year

–        Tear pages from journal and include with memorabilia

Product Review: FreedomFiler

I haven’t done a Tool Tuesday feature in a while, so here ya go!  I helped a client in her home office last week and introduced this product to her. She is a local realtor and although she had been in business for years, she felt that she needed to get “re-booted” in her office.  She felt it was cluttered, the work process didn’t flow, and her files were a mess (her words, not mine).

While we worked together for a couple of days on all aspects of her office environment, I want to tell you about the tool we used to revamp her filing system.  Based on my clients existing files, personality, and needs I recommended the FreedomFiler®.


FreedomFiler® is best known for being a self-purging file system. This system goes a long way in keeping your files organized and is very user friendly. It uses color coding to categorize odd year versus even year files as well as separating your active and yearly files from your permanent, or archive, files.


The system contains 200+ pre-printed file tab labels with a total of over 400 customizable file tab labels included.  There are easy-to-follow instructions and 5 great indexed cards to keep your system on track.  You also have the option to purchase other accessories if you need them.  This system works for home and work files.

Here are a few reasons why I find this product to be so helpful to certain clients:

  • easily integrates into your existing file system
  • streamlines the look of your files, making things easier to read
  • the even/odd year file sets make getting ready for tax time a breeze
  • gives you guidelines for when papers should be purged
  • eliminates the need to make new files each year

FreedomFiler® is a great system and so easy to use.  I am an affiliate for FreedomFiler and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Contact me via the Contact tab or leave a comment here.

Getting Your loved Ones Organized

So you are determined to be more organized than ever but you don’t live by yourself… There’s your other half, the kids and maybe even a mother in law in the mix! You may be wondering how to get them organized. The answer … you can’t.  It’s like making someone love brussel sprouts (sorry mom). You cannot make someone be organized, and if you could, they certainly would not be organized the way YOU expect them to be.

Getting organized is a choice and a person must be ready to make that choice. The best way to get loved ones at least interested in getting more organized is by setting a good example. Here are a few simple ways to set a good example:

Set up easy systems for others to manage. For example, a launch area near the door you use to enter and exit their home. Have a place for keys, glasses, and bags in that area.


Label things. For example, label the laundry sorter. Label the kids toy bins.



Ask for help with keeping the common areas organized. Have family members spend 15 minutes before bed daily picking up the family room and putting things where they belong.  You have to ask for help, they aren’t mind readers.

Talk about what you are doing to be better organized. Open the door for communication and this may inspire them to work on an organizing project of their own!











5 minute tasks to Keep You Organized

Got 5 minutes?  Then you can stay organized!

Here’s my list of quick things I do to stay organized and manage my time:
  1. Put incoming mail into a basket
  2. Sort laundry as I put things in the hamper (whites-colors-jeans)
  3. Use a paper recycle basket in the room where I read newspapers & magazines
  4. Make my bed as soon as I get out of it
  5. Review my calendar every night
  6. Set things in family room that can be done while watching TV
  7. Just before bed, I quickly pick up the main area of the house
  8. Religiously use my tickler file!
  9. Have a birthday calendar and set up cards to be sent out for the entire month, in one sitting
  10. Have a tote bag packed for each of the groups I belong to so I can grab and go
  11. Separate bulk meat purchases into smaller freezer bags after grocery shopping
  12. Have a designated donation container so I can purge & have a place for thing s to accumulate before donating
  13. Label, Label, Label


There’s More than One Way to File

When you hear the word “file”, what do you think of?  What image pops in your head?

There is actually more than one way to file your papers.  The traditional method of file folders and file drawers is only one option. You don’t have to file the way your mother did.  Choose what works for you! Here are just two other options:

1.              PileSmart® – a Pendaflex® product

Remember the Pilot from my other blog post, Three Personality Types of Paper Mania?  Well this is the product for that person.  The PileSmart® Organizer features a clear lucite tray that is open on two side.  There are 6 plastic dividers, with end and side tabs that are easily seen as you stack things vertically. The dividers are very sturdy so you can lift up a stack by the divider tab and retrieve papers when needed.  In addition to allowing you to color code your stacks, the labels on each divider are durable and are “write-and erase”, which means you can use re-use them after a stack is purged. Nifty product, huh?  You can get it online at Amazon.

2.              Binders

Yes, binders!  They are not just for school anymore… You can use binders with dividers to keep categories of paperwork manageable.  Don’t relish the thought of hole punching and/or pinched finger accidents?  That’s okay; use plastic pockets in the binders.  This will enable you to quickly “file” your papers away.  Binders can be stored on shelves, in file drawers, or archived in boxes.  You can also color code your binder, if that’s what you like to do or purchase colors that match your office décor, looking sleek and orderly on a bookcase or credenza.

These are just two options for filing the papers you keep.  Would love to hear how you manage your papers, please leave a comment.