Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

One Last Bloggy Giveaway - Office Ebooks

My final Bloggy Giveaway is a set of ebooks for the office: Three Steps to Organizing Your Office and Three Steps to Time Management at the Office. We'll close all entries at 5 pm (eastern) on Friday, August 1st. I'll announce the winners on Saturday, August 2 if not before. See Related Posts below to enter the other three giveaways.

Want to keep my organizing tips for your home, office, and time coming? The sign up for my blog is just under my picture on the left sidebar.

I'll be offering some sales next week, so stop by!! Thanks for entering my giveaways - it's been fun!

Related posts: Bloggy Giveaway Carnival, Another Bloggy Giveaway from 1-2-3...Get Organized, Bloggy Giveaway #3 - Three Organizing Ebooks

Get Organized for School (or life!) - A Family Calendar

A major aspect of getting ready for school (or life) is having a family calendar in a location where everyone can check in and see what's going on. This can be an organizing software program on your computer/laptop or a wall calendar. You'll want to have a personal calendar or organizer, but you'll also need a family calendar.

There are a number of great software programs that track several family members (some are free!). And there are several personal spiral/notebook type organizers - my favorite being the Planner Pad. I've done reviews of both software programs and notebook type organizers and will link the related posts below.

When my children were home, we used a huge calendar on the side of our refrigerator. My friend Carole, hangs hers inside one of her kitchen cabinets so it's not so unsightly. Now, with different foster children coming each week, it makes more sense for me to just post a weekly calendar from my Palm software. But if I still had kids at home, I would use something like Mom's Plan It Calendar. It's a 17-month calendar which can track up to 5 family members, with stickers, and more. Click the link on my sidebar to get a more detailed description.

Use a different color pen or marker for each person, and a separate color for family activities, and it's a breeze to decipher your daily activities!

Do you have a favorite family calendar or software program you use to organize your family?

Related posts: Product Review of Organizers - Daily Home Planner, Product Review of Organizers - The Planner Pad, Product Review of Organizers - PDAs, The Final Review of Organizers, Cozi 2.0, Oops

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bloggy Giveaway #3 - Three Organizing Ebooks

Let's do another giveaway! This time we'll make it ebooks. The three I've chosen are: Three Steps to Planning Dinner, Three Steps to Organizing Your Kitchen, and Three Steps to Clever Cleaning.

Three Steps to Planning Dinner is a smaller version of of the workbook by the same name (minus the grocery lists, recipes, recipe pages for your own recipes, and CD template of those pages), which helps you plan your menus and create shopping lists, so you only need to shop once a week!

Three Steps to Organizing your Kitchen helps you figure out how to make your kitchen most efficient and convenient.

And Three Steps to Clever Cleaning helps you identify your cleaning philosophy (bet you never heard of that one!) and determine how to keep your home clean in the quickest, most efficient way.

For more lengthy descriptions of each book, see my website.

Don't forget to enter by posting a comment below. And make sure you sign up for my other two giveaways!

Related posts: Bloggy Giveaway Carnival, Another Bloggy Giveaway from 1-2-3...Get Organized

Another Bloggy Giveaway from 1-2-3...Get Organized

I have decided to offer another giveaway in the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival - my downloadable Hassle Free Dinners. It's over 800 pages of weekly dinner menus (52 weeks), instructions, and weekly grocery lists. It takes all the planning out of cooking dinner. Pick a week's menu (they are arranged seasonally), and go grocery shopping!

The grocery lists are color-coded, so if you know you are not going to be eating at home on Wednesday, for example, you won't buy anything red. And the recipes are set up for 2, 4 or 6 servings, so you don't have to do the math. Even if you have picky eaters, you can substitute ingredients or double up on some meals you know your family will like.

Meals usually take 30 minutes or less (except on weekends when you might bake something, like a roast, that will be repurposed later in the week). Each meal includes a protein, a starch, and something red and something green - fruits and veggies. Recipes that have more than a couple of ingredients will have the nutritional values listed and the price per serving. Most meals run between 400-600 calories total, without being loaded with fat. Menus don't follow any particular eating plan (vegetarian, low carb, etc.) - they're just nutritious and tasty and quick!

Each week includes 1-2 chicken recipes, 1-2 beef recipes, 1-2 pork recipes, 1 fish recipe, and one meatless meal. A variety of cooking methods are used - crockpot, grilling, baking, microwaving, and sauteeing, but not deep frying. No entree is repeated for the entire year. Read some client testimonials. It's a marriage of professional organization and dinnertime!

To enter to win Hassle Free Dinners leave a comment below. To enter my other giveaway, scroll down to leave a comment on my July 28th blog. To go to the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival, click the title above.

Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist

With school starting next month for many next month, I want to run several blogs on getting organized for school. The inspiration for today's blog came from The Disney Dream Team's Tracy, who created a system for remembering what needed to go to school with each child.

While Tracy's system targeted her elementary school children, a backpack checklist would work for middle school, high school, and college students. This could even work as a briefcase reminder for work, too. This is how it works:

Create a chart listing the days of the week at the top. Under each day, make a column for each person who needs a checklist. On the far left, list possible items that might need to be included in the backpack that day: a band instrument, shoes for gym, signed paperwork, a folder or notebook for a particular class, library books, etc.

You can create your chart on your computer and reproduce it each week. Or you could use a dry erase board or laminate a poster board to re-use each week. Each person on the chart could be noted in a different color. Then items can be checked off on the appropriate day as a reminder to put those things in the backpack. Make sure you leave extra rows at the bottom for items that aren't necessarily needed each week.

To make life easier, have everyone pack their backpacks the night before. What a morning stress reliever!

What do you do to take the stress out of your mornings?

Related posts: Organizing for School - Papers, Get Organized for School - Clothing Inventory, Hope for Disorganized Students!, Getting Ready for School: Organizing Homework Papers

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shake the Salt Offers Time Management for the Stay-at-Home Mom Giveaway

Christy over at Shake the Salt has offered my Three Steps to Time Management for the Stay-at-Home Mom as her current giveaway. She has written a review (a very nice one, I might add) and has a code for a 25% discount on any order for my books. Check out her fabulous site while you're there - she has so many helpful and money-saving tips! Click the title to go directly to her giveaway sign-up.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bloggy Giveaway Carnival

Bloggy Giveaway Carnival hosts a massive giveaway every quarter. There are already over 200 giveaways and it's just the beginning! I'm going to be giving away a package of organizing books (Decluttering, Cleaning, Kitchen, Planning Your Child's Parties, and the Time Management book of your choice) - over $50 in value. So click the title above to enter any or all of the giveaways. Hope you win!!

Just leave a comment to this post to enter.

Shake the Salt Launch Party

Christy over at Multitasking Mama has launched a new site called Shake the Salt - great reviews, freebies, deals and more! During her launch, which goes through August 25, she'll be giving away 40 items including one of my books. Click the title above and it will take you to her sign up page. Make sure you wander around her site - it's fabulous!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Help Mommy Meryl Win Blogging Idol

Mommy Meryl is trying to win Blogging Idol by getting the most new subscribers. She needs over 350 to beat the leader. Want to help? Click the title above to subscribe. The contest ends July 31st. Sign up for her newsletter and see my article each month. :-)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Organizing Your Pantry List

Jillian over at A Freckle for Every Moment blog had a great idea for creating a pantry list so you don't forget what you have and buy duplicate items. It's the July 20th entry.

Related posts: Get Organized Month - Declutter Your Pantry, Get Organized Month - Clean out the Freezer, Decluttering in 5 - Check out the Shelf Life of Your Spices

Thursday, July 24, 2008

To Do List or Not To Do List - That is the Question!

I ran across an article today in MomSense, a newsletter put out by Christianity Today that I thought was extremely refreshing. It's about giving yourself permission to take things off your to-list that are good, but may not be good for you. It encourages you to determine what's important to you, and not compare yourself to others. It sings my theme song! And you don't need to be a mom to appreciate the message. For a wonderful, freeing read, click the title above.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Organizing for School - Papers

Yesterday I was walking through WalMart and I couldn't help but notice all the school supplies - in multiple places. It reminded me of an organizing system one of our foster children set up for herself. It's a 13-pocket expandable file.

She designated one pocket for each subject at school and kept homework assignments, finished assignments, study sheets, papers that needed to signed - anything pertaining to that class - in the appropriate pocket.

This system eliminated the bookbag stuffed with a multitude of random papers, lost homework, and the chaos such disorganization produced. At the end of the week, she would go through her expandable file and transfer noncurrent papers to her notebook.

I saw these expandable files at WalMat for $5.88. They come in multiple colors and are only a couple of inches thick.

If you want to get a much more sophisticated filing system, check out the Binder Buddies Multipocket Organizer by DocOA. Each pocket has three sections, so you could have three filing categories for each school subject. Just click the title to see more.

Either of these systems could work for elementary through college.

Related posts: Hope for Disorganized Students!, Getting Ready for School: Organizing Homework Papers

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Organizing For College - Dorm Room

I really enjoyed helping my daughters get ready for college. Between the three of us, I'm sure we kept The Container Store in business! Now that I've moved to Ohio, the nearest Container Store is two hours away! Ugh! Maybe it's better that way. :-)

I just received an ad from The Container Store yesterday, showcasing six very cool rooms. If you or someone you know is getting ready for college, this is a great place to start - very fun ideas. And they are having a summer sale! Just click The Container Store image in the left side bar to see the six rooms.

One of my favorite products that both my daughters used was a folding crate. You can find it by clicking Summer Sale at the top of The Container Store page. On the first page in the second row you'll find folding crates. They come in several colors and can be used with or without wheels.

We packed up the girls' college items in the crates. And then when they moved into their dorm rooms, we turned them onto their sides and used them as shelves. You can stack several on top of each other. If you don't need to use all of them, they collapse to only a few inches and can be stored in very little space. And they're great for life after college, too!

Related posts: Packing for College, Check out CampusCalmU, Review of Three Steps to Time Management for the College Student

Monday, July 21, 2008

Recycling Cell Phones to Our Soldiers

When I posted my computer recycling blog last Friday, I got a comment that I want to pass on to you about recycling cell phones.

Qlubb-Andy said...
While you're at it, you probably have a bunch of old cell phones lying around in the closet.Here's a great service started by a 13 year old that helps you put them to good use.

I checked it out and found that you can recycle cell phones at locations in your community or get a postage-paid label to mail your cell phone. To help even more, you can pay the postage yourself.

The organization reconfigures the cell phones to be used with phone cards so our troops can call home for free.

What a wonderful idea and what creative kids to have started this service! Click the title above to find out how your old cell phone can be recycled for our soldiers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Recycling Computer Components

Do you have old computer components you'd like to get rid of, but don't know what to do with them? The Environmental Protection Agency (http://www.epa.gov) has created a list of possible options. Click the title above which will direct you to their list.

If you have a computer geek in the family who needs to declutter, you might suggest the following amusing article by Evan Goer, Decluttering for Computer Geeks: http://www.goer.org/Journal/2008/07/decluttering_for_geeks_computer_components.html

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Most Wonderful Organizing Bag!!

I have discovered a fabulous bag at Target - something I've been searching for for months! A bag with lots of pockets for all my categories of things.

My technical abilities are lacking at the moment, so I can't put up a picture for you, but if you click on the title above, you'll see it. The one I got is fuschia canvas, but there are other colors - black, green, gray, and tan. And it's only $16.99!

What I love about his bag is that there is a separate pocket for my phone, my palm, my wallet, my sunglasses, my keys, my tissues and gum, and my papers - and that's just on the outside. Inside the large main zipper compartment are three open pockets I use for my lipstick, a little first aid kit, and my lotion. There's loads of room - I don't even use it all - just a couple of zippered bags to corral small things.

Last night we went to a waterski show and I was able to fit in a hat, sunscreen, and bugspray with plenty of room left over. I could get along with a smaller bag if it had the same number of pockets, but I'm thrilled to find this one! The strap is long and adjustable. I only hope they come out with something similar for winter!

Have you found a bag that works for you? I would LOVE to hear about it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Keeping First Things First

Summer is whizzing by!! With organizing meals for our foster children as well as coordinating doctor's appointments, summer school, and fun activities, it's hard to have time for myself!

I have in mind two or three things I consider most important to accomplish each day. When I have some free moments, I tackle the one on the top of my list. Next, the second, and then the third if I get a chance. Remember "refill time" I mentioned in my blog on June 17 - alone time for each of the girls and for me? That's when I try to get to those important items on my list if I haven't done so beforehand.

What are your top three items on your list? Mine include spending time with God, exercise, and writing my blog. I'd love to hear yours!

Related posts: Refill Time

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why Time Off Is Well Spent

Did you see the article in yesterday's USA Today about how important taking vacation time is? You usually sleep more, exercise more, watch TV less, and talk to each other more. Other studies show how important having rest is to health and productivity. Check out the entire article by clicking the title above.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Organizing Your Print Photographs

Liz Seymour, Home Deputy Editor of The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com), has been running a series about organizing her attic. The eighth in her installment deals with her photographs. I thought you might enjoy her very helpful suggestions and insights as she goes through this process. Just click the title above to be directed to her article. I've enjoyed reading the other articles in her series as well.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Organizing Your Digital Photographs

What to do with all those digital pictures you've been taking? David Hutto has been working with digital media for 30 years and has written a very helpful article on how to organize your digital pictures. He shows you how to get them off your camera, get them onto your computer and what to do with them after that. He walks you through every step, so you don't have to be a techno-wiz to understand his directions. Just click the title to go to his article.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Getting Organized for School: Get Organized Sale

Just thought you'd like to know that Get Organized, a company that sells organizing products, is offering 15% off during the month of July. If you're needing some quality and innovative organizing products, click on the link in the left side bar. The under-the-bed shoe organizer looks very efficient! And check out the mini-fridge!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Can Clutter Cause You to Lose Your Job?

The answer to the above question should be "no." However, having a cluttered workspace influences how others view you. Even if you know where everything is, it does not give the impression that you are managing your work well.

During our present economic climate, you don't want to risk your job longevity by having a messy desk. You don't want people to hesitate giving you work or documents for fear you'll lose them or forget about them.

At the end of the day, try to set aside 15 minutes to organize yourself for tomorrow. Get rid of the clutter. File. Make a prioritized list of items that need to be done tomorrow. Paperwork associated with that list can be placed in a file. Tomorrow you can take those items out of the file as you work on them. Not only will you have an uncluttered desk, but your mind will be uncluttered without all the visual distractions.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

"It's just easier to do it myself!" I think at times. In the short run, yes. But in the long run, no. It does take time to teach someone else to do the task at hand. But when I do take the time, I am multiplying myself.

For example, if I'm the only one in my organization - whether it be my business, volunteer work, or at home - who knows how to do a certain task, I may be interrupted from something much more important and urgent when someone else needs this task done. To them it might be urgent and important, but to me it may not be.

For several years, I organized the annual women's retreat for our church. At some point, I realized I needed to make this job transferrable. I asked our retreat committee to write up job descriptions for their various functions. Even though I could have written the job descriptions myself, I chose to delegate it, lightening my load considerably.

After writing my job description, I put all the information in a three ring binder. As it turned out, we moved rather suddenly and I was able to pass on this notebook to someone else, so no one had to re-invent the wheel.

Some people feel they must be indispensable in order to keep their jobs. The thinking is, "If no one else knows how to do this, I can't lose my job." Not true.

Sometimes we become possessive of our areas of expertise. Or we want to guarantee that the job is done in a certain way and we think that no one else can do it as well.

This line of thinking, however, leads to being overworked or being inefficient. And if it would benefit others in the organization to know how to do this task, I would be doing a disservice not to teach them this skill. Building in check points insures quality control.

At home I am often tempted to put away the jam myself or wash someone's dish and put it in the dishwasher. There are times when I do these things, but if I do it on a consistent basis, I'm training my family to leave all the work to me. And then I feel taken for granted and angry. Not a nice way to live! I've learned to give gentle reminders and occasionally reiterate what level of cleanliness I expect.

I've also made the time to teach a skill or a segment of a skill, so our girls will be prepared to be on their own some day. If one of our foster daughters has no experience in cooking, for example, I work with her - making sure she reads the entire recipe and measures correctly. I take a deep breath if she spills sugar on the floor and remind myself what is really important. :-)

Something may not be done exactly the way I would have done it, but that leaves the possibility for it to be done better or in a more creative way. As I learned in cross-cultural training, different isn't bad!

What are you struggling to delegate?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Family Cookbook

Are your family's favorite recipes scattered all over the place? When my older daughter moved into an apartment in college, I decided to computerize our family favorites, so she could have a copy of the recipes she loved eating at home. And I was happy to have the recipes I used most often in one place!

I organized the recipes in different categories, just like in real cookbooks. At the top of each recipe, I wrote where and when I got the recipe and from whom. I was also careful to write in little tips she might not know from lack of experience cooking.

I printed up the pages and slipped two pages back-to-back into each page protector and placed them in a 3-ring binder. I even made a cover sheet and slipped it into the front cover.

I gave one to my future son-in-law at the time when he moved into his apartment, and later to my younger daughter. The beauty of having your recipes computerized is that you can update them, add to them, and copy them for friends who want your recipes!

If you want to create a more involved family cookbook complete with stories and pictures, check out Cooking Up A Family Cookbook by Ann Champeau (http://1-2-3getorganized.com./funstuff.html).

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Mommy Meryl's Contest Extending Another Day

If you haven't yet entered Mommy Meryl's contest for my Three Steps to Decluttering, she has extended it for another day. Just click the title above to enter!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Dinner in 15 - A Grilling Twist

Happy 4th of July! Hope you've had a wonderful day!

As this is a big grilling weekend, I thought I'd share a recipe that is fun to do on a grill: quesadillas. Everyone can choose ingredients they like, and if they chose both red and green ingredients, each quesadilla can contain a full pallet of nutrition.

Collect your ingredients together: tortillas, cheese, peppers, cooked meat of your choice, tomatoes, onions, baby spinach, avocados, salsa, mushrooms, zucchini, or squash - whatever sounds good to you.

On plates or cookie sheets with no sides, let everyone assemble quesadillas using cheese as the first and last ingredient to act as glue to hold the quesadillas together. Slide the quesadillas onto your olive-oil-brushed grill, heated to medium high.

Grill 2 minutes on each side, turning carefully. Allow quesadillas to rest for a couple of minutes before cutting with a pizza cutter. Serve with fruit.

If you'd like some more ideas for quick, nutritional, and tasty meals, look into my Hassle Free Dinners, a year's worth of weekly dinner menus, instructions and weekly shopping lists. It's a marriage of professional organization and dinnertime. Click the title to go my 1-2-3...Get Organized website.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Contest at Mommy Meryl

Mommy Meryl is hosting a contest at her site with my Three Steps to Decluttering (either ebook or printed book) as the prize. Hurry over to her site, as you only have a couple of days to enter. While you're there, wander around her site - she has lots of fun ideas for you! Just click the title above.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Christmas in July

You thought I was planning early yesterday - today it's Christmas!

We are on vacation in Branson, Missouri with my parents, my sibilings and their families. Yesterday we went outlet shopping - usually a tradition when we have these vacations.

Even though Bob and I didn't need much, we took the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping. So we picked up some gifts for our foster daughters and our own daughters. My sister-in-law Debbie was the Christmas shopping queen, blasting through her Christmas list.

To ease your Christmas stress, sit down soon and make a list of all the people to whom you want to give Christmas gifts. If you have gift ideas for people on your list, jot that down, too. Put your list in your wallet or purse and refer to it before you head out on a shopping trip.

Then, as you shop on vacation, do school shopping or other shopping, you may run across gifts for those on your list. How nice to get your Christmas shopping done while you go about life, rather than having to take out extra time to do your Christmas shopping! You will not have to "settle" for gifts because you've waited until the last minute and the selection is sparse and expensive.

What are your Chistmas shopping secrets?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Get Organized for School - Clothing Inventory

Get organized for school? It's only July 1! I know ... I know. But by doing a little here and there, it won't be such a rush in August.

One thing I always felt was helpful with each of my girls was to go through her closet and do an inventory. We would get rid of items she no longer wore - either donate them or turn them into rags.

Then we'd make a list of each category - short sleeve tops, long sleeve tops, shorts, pants, skirts, shoes, etc.

Next, we'd put together a list of possible outfits. She kept this list throughout the year. It made it simple to choose an outfit rather than standing in front of her closet waiting for inspiration to hit! And she wasn't as likely to get bored with her clothes if she didn't get in a rut of wearing the same combinations together.

By making these lists, it became very obvious where the gaps were - what article of clothing had no match, for example. We made a shopping list and started watching out for those things on the list. This way, we could spread out the shopping over the summer, rather than cram it in right before school.

While we were looking through clothes, we took inventory on underwear, socks, and athletic clothes. Our girls played school sports, so we'd check to see if they needed new cleats, sweats, athletic socks, etc.

I realize with guys you don't have to go into so much work. But it's good to do an inventory to know what he needs. Then, when you're on vacation and hit those outlet malls, you can stock up!

If doing a clothing inventory sounds too overwhelming, break it up into small segments:
- get rid of unwanted clothing
- make a list of each category of clothing
- make a list of possible outfits
- make a shopping list
- shop!

Have you discovered ways to reduce the stress of getting organized for school?