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!


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. Children thrive on a scheduled routine. A routine not a strict schedule, after all flexibility is a necessity with young children (and adults!).
2. 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. 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.

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?

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

And the same could be said for you…

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:


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!

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.

Time is a Woman’s (and a Man’s) Best Friend

“Time is a woman’s best friend”.

I found this statement in my notes from the 2011 Women in Business conference. The speaker who said this was Joy Chudacoff – a phenomenal business coach. Now if there are any men reading this – don’t leave; time can be your best friend too! Okay – so maybe not your best friend but at least time can be something that you manage better instead of fight against. There are three principles about time that must be embraced if you want to manage your time better.

#1. Have a process for managing your time.

This can be done by batching. Batching is simply doing like things together. For example, if you have phone calls to make today, make them all at the same time. One after the other instead of spreading those calls out between different activities of the day. Use a calendar, smartphone or planner and review it daily.

#2. Use a timer

If you’re the kind of person who feels time just always seems to slip by, using a timer can help you stay on track.You can set a timer so that you stop working and get to an appointment on time. You can use a timer so that you spend only a certain amount of time on one task before moving to the next.

#3. Use time buffers.

Using a time buffer means giving yourself more time for transitions between activities and to travel between appointments. Mark off those time buffers on your calendar or extend the time you think it will take for an activity so that it includes a time buffer. In the example of batching your phone calls, let’s say you allowed one hour for these calls.  Mark it in your calendar for 75 minutes – just in case you get on the phone with a long winded person! 🙂

The bottom line is that time can be on your side if you take steps to put these three principles in place.


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