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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Conducting Time-Worthy Meetings

I dread meetings. How many times have you sat in a meeting, frustrated because one participant held the group hostage with incessant blathering? Or there was no clear agenda and the meeting wandered all over the place? What a waste of time!

Don’t subject those in your meeting to such misery! Rather, conduct a clear, crisp meeting that is efficient and productive. Here are a few non-negotiables:

- Have a clear grasp of the objectives of the meeting. If you conduct a regularly scheduled meeting and there is no business, cancel the meeting rather than waste people’s time.

- Create an agenda for the meeting, with the most important and urgent topics listed first.

- Determine the amount of time to be allotted for each item on the agenda and list it next to the agenda item.

- Note on the agenda the work that should be completed by participants by the time of the meeting.

- A week (or longer, depending on the needs of your participants) before the meeting, send a reminder and the agenda to participants. The agenda should include the allotted times and expected work to be done. This allows people time to gather their thoughts about the agenda items.

- Ask for an RSVP so you know who will be attending. If a key player with key information will not be attending, for example, it will have a significant impact on your meeting.

- Start your meeting on time regardless of the number of participants present. This respects the time of those already present. It also sends a message that you will start on time and will run an efficient meeting.

- Move through each agenda item, making sure the discussion is not dominated by one or more persons. If necessary, limit the time each person may speak. In addition, specifically ask quiet participants to share their ideas.

- If necessary, speak privately with the person who is dominating and ask him/her to help you out by encouraging the quieter participants to enter in the discussion.

- When decisions are made, determine action points to carry out those decisions. Schedule follow up on the action points.

- End the meeting on time. If there were agenda items not covered, add them to the agenda for the next meeting.

- If there are consistently too many agenda items to be covered at the meeting, consider adding additional meetings. If too few, meet less frequently.

- Utilize conference calls or virtual meetings, even if your members are local, saving travel time and expense.

- Try stand-up meetings. People are not sitting in comfortable chairs and will want to expedite business.

When your participants know that your meetings are worthy of their time, their attendance will be consistent and productive. Your business will be accomplished in short order. And you will rescue yourself and others from boring, ineffective, and time-wasting meetings.

Comments? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

Similar Topics:
Why Meetings Can be So Unbearable
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
A Dozen Tips for Efficient Appointments

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Getting Organized for School - Family Calendar

It's nice to be home after taking a couple of days to visit my husband's parents. Even a two-day trip is disrupting to routine, I find. We listened to books on tape which made the five-hours-each-way fly by, even during the pouring rain. And we learned a lot!

Here's another episode of getting organized for school to give you a head start. :)

Getting Organized for School - Family Calendar

I'm taking another look at getting ready for school - if you start now and get yourself organized, life will not be so chaotic when school starts. The following is a revamp from last year's post on the same subject.

A major aspect of getting ready for school (or life) is having a family calendar in a location where everyone can check in to see what's going on. It's best if it is located at your hub (see my post on this subject, listed below).

Your calendar can be an organizing software program on your computer/laptop or a wall 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 childre
n coming each week, it makes more sense for me to just post a weekly calendar from my Palm Centro (Palm's version of the Blackberry) 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.

You can use a different color pen or marker for ea
ch person, and a separate color for family activities. Then 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? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

More on Calendars/Organizers:

Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub

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 29, 2009

Getting Exposure for Your Garage Sale

There's still time to have that garage sale this summer! A great way to get some extra back-to-school or vacation cash. And a motivation to get rid of some of that clutter.

After you've decluttered and sorted, you need to get some traffic to your sale. I've come across some helpful sources of free advertising that will expand your exposure:

Garage Sales Tracker


Craig's List

Do you have garage sale tips? Please share! Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

More on garage sales:
Garage/Yard Sale Tips
Garage sale time!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

5-Minute Stress Relievers - Organizing and Cleaning

You might think that as a professional organizer, my stress is relieved by organizing or cleaning. Not so. If life is chaotic, and things have gotten messy, organizing is necessary for me to even function.

As a Myers-Briggs personality profile facilitator, I have learned that stress relievers are not generated from the areas of your natural giftedness, but the opposite. Can you see that moving out of the area where you spend most of your time is a break from the usual - a relief?

For some, cleaning and organizing provides that break. Here are a few 5-minute stress relievers in this area:

1. Clean out a drawer.

2. Clean out a drawer or shelf in the fridge.

3. Make a list of your favorite things to do, and plan when you will do one.

4. Declutter a room or surface.

5. Make a to-do list or prioritize the one you have.

6. Clean a bathroom sink or counter.

7. Dust.

8. Go through a magazine rack and toss old magazines.

9. Declutter your car.

10. Empty one shelf of the dishwasher.

11. Clean your kitchen sink.

12. Fold a basket of clothes.

13. Clean out your purse or wallet.

14. Take out the trash.

15. Organize a shelf in your pantry.

16. Organize a closet.

17. Sit in a room that is irritating you and think about what is not working.

18. Make list of possible options for your dinner menu next week.

19. Remove and hang clothes from the dryer.

20. Set the table for your next meal.

Got some more ideas? Please share! Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

More on Organizing and Cleaning:

National Clutter Awareness Week - Give it 5 or 10
Decluttering Tips
Decluttering in 5 - 20 Decluttering Tasks You Can Do In Five Minutes or Less

Monday, July 27, 2009

Organizing for College - Guest Blogger Sarah Scrafford

Today we're taking our college-bound foster daughter down to her school so we can see her dorm and to help her apply for a job. I thought this would be an ideal time to repost a great guest blog by Sarah Scrafford:

Sort out your Organization Problems

My dad is a profound thinker who excels in converting his ideas into intelligent and profitable ventures. But there’s one thing I don’t get – his perpetually disorganized and cluttered desk. Woe betide his secretary or anyone else who attempts to restore some form of order to the chaotic mess of papers and other office paraphernalia; he argues that if the desk is cleaned, he’s bound to forget where he left stuff, little bothering to even listen to my take on the value of a clean and orderly desk with a place for everything and everything in its place.

I guess tidiness and order are characteristics that we acquire as we grow up, because I certainly didn’t inherit them from my dad. Besides saving an enormous amount of time when you’re searching for something, being organized is one way of letting others know that you are disciplined, in how you take care of your belongings and in how you deal with any aspect of life.

College is a time for higher learning, not just from the pages of a book, but in the art of self-discipline too. It’s time students took the effort to change the stereotype that college dorms are messy places that stink to high glory. By turning around one minor aspect like the cleanliness and order of your room, you’ll find that the same attitude spills over into the more important things in your life. Here’s how students can maintain order in their rooms, the easy way:

· When you move in to your residence (either on or off campus), don’t just dump your belongings anywhere; make an effort to identify the right place for each of your things, and put them away neatly.

· If you have stuff that’s left over after you unpack, take what you don’t absolutely need back home to your parents.

· Your books and study materials need to be kept separately from your other belongings.

· Make sure your papers are filed neatly and pinned so they don’t end up flying out the window or being swept away in the trash can.

· If you eat in your room, throw out the leftovers and empty containers immediately instead of waiting for a week to clear up the mess. The sooner you tidy up, the less stains and spills you’ll have to deal with.

· Put your dirty laundry in a designated basket so that the smell of sweat isn’t overpowering when you enter the room.

· Set aside time every week to do your laundry and take care of other personal errands.

· Tack up a list to a cupboard where you can add items that you’ve run out of and need to replenish. This not only simplifies your shopping process, but also makes sure that you’re not left high and dry when you need stationery or other personal provisions.

· As much as possible, do not borrow stuff from others or lend them yours. It’s hard to keep track of what belongs to whom when there’s too much exchanging going on.

· Make notes of things you’re supposed to do for the day. Better still, set up an online calendar of all the events you’re supposed to attend all semester. Check your to-do list each morning before you leave your room.

· If you’re not a morning person and have trouble waking up all fresh and cheery, wake up 10 or 20 minutes before you normally do so you have time to compose yourself, take a shower and be as fresh as a daisy for class.

While there are no hard and fast rules to be followed in your attempt at order, a regular routine helps when you’re a student. An orderly existence is the hallmark of an orderly mind, which in turn makes sure you are successful in anything you do.

Sarah Scrafford is an industry critic, as well as a regular contributor on the subject of top online university. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address: sarah.scrafford25@gmail.com

Friday, July 24, 2009

Managing Paper

I consider paper to be clutter, especially when it is unsolicited. But we must deal with a certain amount of paper on a daily basis. Here are a few ways to keep from getting overwhelmed:


- Setting up and maintaining a simple, effective filing system saves an untold amount of time because you know exactly where to find items you need.

- If you are a visual person, consider using different colors of file folders for different categories.

- Prevent eye strain by using the same file tab for one category. For example, use the left tab on orange files containing potential clients and the paperwork associated with each one.

- Don't over-categorize or get too detailed - it's too much to remember. If you must have large quantities of files, make a one-page list of your files and where they are.

- Keep frequently used files within arm's length of your desk chair. Store less-used files farther away. If you must archive files for a certain number of years, consider putting them in storage.

- If reports, statements, etc. can easily be found online, don't keep paper copies.

- File ongoing projects in a hanging file. At the end of the day, deposit work into that file, clearing your desk. Make a list of projects and work to be done the next day, so it is not forgotten or overlooked.

- Keep a "pending" file for those items without closure.

- Set aside specified time to file so it doesn't get out of hand. Multi-task by filing when you are on hold or when having a casual conversation or when your brain needs a mental break.

Mail, Bills and Banking

- Deal with mail when you receive it – RSVP, file it, toss it, pay it, recycle it, shred it, etc. Try to touch it only once.

- Have one place where you keep your unpaid bills in the order in which they need to be paid.

- Do your bill-paying and banking online whenever possible, reducing time and paper clutter.

- It is not necessary to keep bills once they are paid, if they are not needed for taxes. Keep the last one, so you have a handy record of your account number in case you need it.

- Get checks that make a duplicate each time you write a check, so you don't have to record it in the check register.

- Have one place where you keep items that need attention (school papers that need to be signed, invitations, directions, etc.) - a central hub. Consider having a section for each family member to house their important papers.

Reduce the Paper Coming into your Home or Office

- When you receive a new catalog or magazine, recycle or give away the old one. If you don't have time to read the periodicals or newspapers you are receiving, cancel your subscription.

- If there is an article you want to keep, tear it out and slip it into a page protector in a designated binder. Then toss the magazine or newspaper. If you place a piece of paper in the page protector, you'll be able to use both sides. If necessary, create different binders for the categories that interest you. Your material will be nicely categorized and easy to find, rather than leafing through piles of magazines.

- Ask to be removed from mailing lists. The following allow you to opt out of unwanted catalogs, phone books, and credit card offers:

Catalog Choice,
Yellow Pages Goes Green
Opt Out Prescreen

How do you manage the paper in your life? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

More on Paper:
A very simple filing system for email and paper
Your Priorities, Passions, and Gifts Create Context for Your Clutter
National Association of Professional Organizers' Best Product in Technology

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Clever Organizing Tips from Woman's Day Magazine

When I went to the gynecologist yesterday, I forgot to take my book - horrors! And then the receptionist came out and told us our appointments were running an hour late!! Double nightmare!

So I picked up the July copy of Woman's Day magazine. Right on the front was a headline for organizing tips on page 104. It seems that these days all women's magazines are not only required to feature the latest diet, the most decadent chocolate dessert, but organizing tips, too!

These were clever and I don't think I've mentioned them before
(I'm sorry I didn't remember to note the names of the organizers mentioned in the article!):

- Lost and found. Be it a basket, crate or box, designate a location for items you find around the house and don't know what they are, what they are for or whose they are.

- Fix-it basket. Place those little fix-it jobs in a basket and tackle them while watching TV or on the phone. By having a designated place for such tasks, they are not forgotten, and you can find them easily when you're ready to multi-task.

- Pending file. This is for items you've ordered and haven't received, for example. Print up the relevant information and drop it in the file. Then you don't forget about your order, and have the info if your order gets lost. Great for refunds, rebates and returns, as well.

- Keep extra bank deposit slips (the generic ones without your account number on it) and coupons in your glove box. Then they're available when you need them.

- Keep your fridge smelling fresh by either placing cotton balls soaked in vanilla in an open jar in your fridge or placing unused coffee grounds in an open container in your fridge.

Comments? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

More organizing tips:
Clever Organizing Tips from Better Homes and Gardens
Saving Money by Being Organized
Decluttering in 5 - 20 Decluttering Tasks You Can Do In Five Minutes or Less

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub

It's hard to believe that in some parts of the country school will be starting in 2-3 weeks! School here starts August 25. Only about a month left! Prepare now to avoid chaos later.

But before I get to that, I was drooling in Walmart yesterday over fun-colored large Sterilite storage containers for $3.50 - turquoise, purple, orange, lime green, etc. They are not see-through, but you could use different colors for different categories. Or just label them. Great for college, too!

OK, I'll stop hyperventilating and get back to the subject at hand. I am reposting this blog entry from last year ...

Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub

If you don't have one already, create a hub - a location where you keep papers to be signed for school, library books, invitations, and other important information. The point is to have one location into which you deposit vital information so you know where to look when you need it.

It can be a drawer, a decorative box, a shelf - whatever works for you. And it needs to be in a central location. When my kids were home, I used a basket in my kitchen.

If you want to include backpacks, briefcases, and keys in your hub, you could put up pegs or hooks near the door you normally enter. Or use a coat rack or a coat closet to store these vital necessities. You may also want to create a section in your hub for each person in your family to house their important stuff.

How do you handle the incoming information from school? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

Related Posts:
Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep
Get Organized for School (or life!) - A Family Calendar
Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Foods that Relieve Stress

Relieve stress by eating - what can get better than that! Here's another in my series on relieving stress.

Foods that Relieve Stress

"Romaine lettuce – It provides tyrosine, an amino acid that is thought to work against depression.

Tomatoes – Tomatoes are full of phenylalanine, an amino acid that prolongs the break-down of endorphins, chemicals which give you a sense of well-being.

Chicken – It contains the amino acid tryptophan, which turns into serotonin, a soothing, calm-inducing brain chemical.

Green beans – They contain folic acid, which increases the level of serotonin.

Green tea – Green tea contains vitamin C, which may cause your body to produce less stress hormones.

Brown rice – It is high in vitamin B-6 and helps change tryptophan to serotonin.

Chocolate ice cream – Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a natural antidepressant. The sugar increases serotonin. The fat raises endorphin levels. Just watch the portion size."

Source: “Eat, Drink and Be Mellow,” by Charlotte Latvala, Redbook as appeared in RD Health, Reader’s Digest , July, 2002.

Comments? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

Similar topics:

Organizing Your Herb Garden, Part 4 - Using Your Herbs for Healing
Reduce Anxiety with These Foods
Five Health Benefits of Laughter

Monday, July 20, 2009

Disorganized Teens - Symptons of ADHD

Happy Monday! Hope you had a wonderful weekend! Yesterday our temp at lunchtime was 69 degrees! Lovely lunch outside. :)

I've noticed that school supplies are out already. So my thoughts today will go in that direction ... preparing for school.

I came across an article entitled ADHD: Not Just for Little Kids by George Schulz, Ph.D. I thought this might be helpful to you if you suspect your teen (or anyone else in your family for that matter) may have ADHD.

The article cannot be republished or copied, so I couldn't include it here. Please click the link above to read it - it's very enlightening.

If you suspect ADHD, have your child examined before school starts to get the year off to a good start! ADHD happens when a neuron is not firing properly, which is corrected by appropriate meds.

Even though many parents don't like the idea of ADHD medicine, it is still considered the best solution.
If your child is near-sighted, you wouldn't refrain from buying glasses. Your doctor will also instruct you in behavior modification as well - ways in which ADHD symptoms can be reduced: physical exercise, for example.

A friend of our daughters was not diagnosed with ADHD until he was a teenager after suffering scholastically and emotionally for years in school. Another adult friend just started on ADHD meds as she is going back to college and needs to be able to focus. ADHD is hereditary, so if your child has ADHD, it is likely that a parent has it, too. It is not something you outgrow - take it seriously!

Comments? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

More on ADHD:

Understanding the ADD Mindset
Helping Your ADHD Child Get Organized
More Tips for Helping Your ADD Child Stay Organized

Friday, July 17, 2009

Increasing Efficiency

Ever feel like that hamster in a cage, moving but not going anywhere? Here are a few ways to increase your efficiency and productivity.

- First and foremost, know your priorities, passions, and gifts. Use these as filters for incoming opportunities and requests. If you're not sure what is important to you, you may be controlled, by default, by others' agendas.

- Create a master weekly schedule that includes your priorities, passions, and gifts. Use this as you plan your schedule each week. If your schedule is erratic, create a master list.

- Say no to those activities which do not contribute to your objectives. If that’s difficult, ask for some time to think about it, compare it with your priorities, and then say no. If you're unsure about whether or not to pursue the opportunity, get some advice from your spouse or close friend who is aware of your priorities and commitments.

- Find ways to simplify your life, schedule, etc. Remove activities from your life about which you are no longer passionate. Remove clutter from your life.

- Create systems and routines for handling paperwork, daily/weekly activities, etc.

- Delegate whenever possible. Train your delegees well, whether it is on the job or doing house chores! And plan a time to follow up.

- Make lists. Write down what you need to do, to remember, to buy, etc., rather than waste time later trying to remember them.

- Plan your errands strategically so as to save drive time and gas.

- Avoid people who are time-wasters, unless you feel “called” to that relationship. Use email or texting when you must communicate with them so as not to be trapped by their lack of control. Or call them five minutes before a meeting or similar commitment, thereby limiting your conversation time.

- Determine if an emergency or interruption is urgent and important or just urgent before you change your scheduled activities. Just because it may be an emergency for someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean it must become an emergency for you!

- Don’t check your email first thing in the morning; instead, do your highest priority.

- Prepare the night before so your morning will run smoothly.

- Keep well-stocked on the essentials - milk, bread, toilet paper, etc. Milk and bread can be frozen (use milk with screw on cap and pour out a little milk before freezing to allow for expansion). This prevents costly (both time and money) emergency trips to the grocery store.

- Make a master list of school supplies your children use frequently. When you go to the office supply store, check your list to avoid running out of an essential. At the beginning of the school year buy project supplies as well as school supplies - markers, colored pencils, poster board, report folders, etc.
When your child has a last-minute project, you'll be prepared! No more late-night trips to the grocery store hoping they'll have poster board.

Do the same with office supplies. Make a list of essentials - paper, ink, labels, legal pads, binders, etc. Each time you go to the office supply store, check your list. Many office supply stores will deliver if your purchase is over $50.

- Compare prices between local office supply stores and online stores. I have found quality computer ink, shipping supplies, and other items at cheaper prices than my local stores, many times with a better selection. And I don't have to go anywhere!

- Use small snatches of time to do quick tasks. Save large blocks of time for big projects. If you have projects that require lengthy attention, create "no interruption" times during your day. Schedule times when you are available to field questions, phone calls, etc. Record this information on your answering machine.

By increasing your efficiency, your day will be more productive. And you may be able to find some extra time in the day for yourself!

Comment? Subscribers, click here to comment on the original blog.

More on time management:

The "Do It Now" Mindset
Increasing Your Effectiveness at Work
Six Ways to Save Money on Food by Planning Ahead

To Discover your passions, priorities, and gifts, see any of the time management books in the 1-2-3 ... Get Organized series.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

5-Minute Stress Relievers - Physical Activity

Yesterday Melody Warnick interviewed me for an article she is doing for Woman's Day magazine on relieving holiday stress. Her article will appear in the holiday issue in November.

So I have been thinking about 5-minute stress relievers lately. :)

As a Myers-Briggs personality profile facilitator, I am aware that different personalities find stress-relief in different ways. Some need physical activity. Others are soothed by music or wonderful aromas.
Gaining spiritual perspective is calming for those whose faith is foundational in their lives. Yet others get an urge to clean (not me, that's for sure!). There are many additional ways to relieve stress, as well.

So, I thought I might address this topic periodically over the next few weeks, each time focusing on one type of stress relief. Today we're going to talk about physical activity.

In general, physical activity is a fabulous release for pent-up emotions, tension and stress. We'll be concentrating on activities you can do in five minutes - whether at work or at home - for a quick break.

1. Take a walk at a moderate pace with your shoulders back. Breathe deeply and exhale slowly. One of the many benefits of deep breathing is that it lowers your blood pressure.

2. Do push ups or sit ups. Feel the tension roll off with each rep. Just a few minutes gets your blood pumping and rejuvenates your energy.

3. Climb up and down a few flights of stairs. When your mind is getting numb, a change of scenery and elevating your heart rate release stress and give you renewed mental energy.

4. Go outside and take a five-minute run. Being outdoors plus exertion provide an outlet for nervous energy as well as a fresh outlook on your task at hand.

5. If your muscles are tense, lie in bed or on the floor and stretch out your muscles - one by one from head to toe.

6. Ask someone to massage your back, neck, shoulders or head. Return the favor.

7. Get down on the floor and play with your child or your pet. Just not right before your child's bedtime!

What are your 5-minute stress relievers? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog post.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Decluttering Mail and Phone Calls

In my opinion, telemarketing wastes my time. Even though we are on the Do Not Call list, we still get calls from non-profits. I gather that non-profits can only call those who have given to them, but we get calls from others - especially medical and police/fire groups it seems.

Yesterday during lunch, we received two such calls, five minutes apart. Thankfully we have caller ID, but it still interrupted our lunch twice by having to go look at the phone.

I know we've talked about a couple of these lists that reduce these annoying sources of clutter before, but here it is in one place:

1) Opt Out Prescreen is a centralized service to accept and process requests from consumers to "Opt-In" or “Opt-Out” of firm offers of credit or insurance.

This is a joint venture among Equifax Information Services, LLC, Experian Information Solutions, Inc., Innovis Data Solutions, Inc., and TransUnion, LLC (collectively the "Consumer Credit Reporting Companies").

Stop these offers for 5 years via phone by dialing 888-5 OPT-OUT (888-567-8688).

Catalog choice allows you to opt out of the catalogs of your choice.

Direct Marketing Association provides a variety of opt out options for consumer assistance. You will need to register online or download the form and mail it in.

4) The National Do Not Call List
cuts down on telemarketing calls - 1-888.382.1222. You do not need this for cell phones.

5) Yellow Pages Goes Green allows you to opt out of both white page and yellow page phone books that are left at your door.

I use almost all of these (I haven't tried #3.). They have greatly reduced the irritations of unwelcome clutter coming into my house. (source: NAPO chat)

Similar topics:
Get Organized Month 2009 - Opt Out of Phone Books
Life Lock - Protecting Your Identity
The Truth about Cell Phones and the National Do Not Call Registry

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Craft Storage

A few months ago I came across some containers that are perfect for storing small craft items - beads, scrapbooking/card-making items, etc.

They are clear acrylic circular containers that stack and screw onto each other. The advantages:
- you can see all your supplies at a glance
- ease of removing and replacing contents
- compact, consistent storage
- reasonable price.

I bought this set at Hobby Lobby for $6.99. I've heard they are also available at Walmart.

I had previously used flat plastic boxes with multiple compartments. In order to see the contents, you had to open the lid. Removing items like small beads were difficult and even harder to replace. Many times they would fall into the sections next to them.

Some people use a drawer unit designed for nails, screws, and like items. It must be mounted on the wall or placed on a surface. If mounted on the wall, it conserves space, but may not be the look you're going for. Storing it on a table takes up valuable work space.

I store my circular containers horizontally in a drawer. Even though they are a couple of layers deep, it's easy to see what I want at a glance. If you store like items together in the same column, all you have to do is pick up a column and you're ready to go!

I might even decide to use them for storing dried herbs! How about office supplies? OK, I'd better stop.

What do you use to store your craft items? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

Other crafty ideas:
Saving Time by Cutting Out Craft Clean Up
Organizing Your Ribbon

Monday, July 13, 2009

Five Health Benefits of Laughter

I'm going to be interviewed on Wednesday by a writer doing an article for Woman's Day magazine about quick stress-relievers for the upcoming holiday season. So this is what I've been thinking about the last couple of days. Here's a stress-reliever I particularly love.

Five Health Benefits of Laughter

"- It stimulates a mild to moderate cardiovascular workout

- It produces endorphins, which counteract the production of stress hormones

- It appears to optimize the immune system

- It reduces self-consciousness and boosts self-confidence

- It relaxes muscles and helps fight the chronic pain associated with muscle tension."
(Source: “Together, They Laugh The Stress Away,” by Sally Stich, Parade Magazine, April 21, 2002)

When our children were still at home, my husband would just burst out laughing several times a day! He had heard a speaker wax eloquently about how laughing was like a jog for your insides. We would all start laughing - how can you hear someone else laugh without joining in? Give it a try. :)

There are certain movies that make us laugh, Dennis the Menace being my favorite. We drag that out whenever we need a light moment.

Physical humor makes me laugh. I've included some examples below.

What makes you laugh? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

These make me laugh:

CDC Warning: How to Avoid Getting the Swine Flu
The "Why Plan Ahead?" Awards - Too Funny!
Why I Didn't Make the Olympics
A Little Humor for the Weekend
Poor Planning Humor

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Dozen Tips for Efficient Appointments

Have you ever arrived at an appointment to find that you have been stood up? Or the person with whom you were meeting didn't do what was necessary to make the appointment worthwhile? When appointments are thwarted, it is harder for you to reach your goals in a timely manner. Here are a few tips to help make your appointments most efficient:

1. Know the objective of the appointment before you agree to it.

2. Ask whether the appointment might be accomplished over the phone or via email, rather than meeting face-to-face, saving time.

3. Create or ask for an agenda for the appointment.

4. Determine beginning and ending times for the appointment.

5. Complete any required work beforehand.

6. Call the day before to confirm the appointment, checking to make sure the person with whom you are meeting has completed any necessary work required for the appointment. If not, reschedule the appointment.

Start the appointment on time. Be on time to appointments elsewhere. Carry with you something to do if you are kept waiting.

Turn off your cell phone and prevent other interruptions during your appointment. It shows respect for the other person’s time and for the importance of the appointment.

Set an alarm on your PDA, phone, or watch to signal the ending time of the appointment.

Plan appointments one after another, if possible, to prevent short, unproductive times between appointments.

11. Consider having appointments while standing. People are more efficient if they are not sitting in a comfortable chair.

12. If you and the person with whom you need to meet attend the same event, schedule your appointment before or after the event or during a break to eliminate extra travel time.

Appointments need to contribute toward your goals. Following the tips above will increase your efficiency in reaching those goals.

Comments? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

Other time management topics:

10 Ways to Double Your Time
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Save Time and Clutter by Making Decisions
Reduce Your Stress - Say No

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Organizing Back-to-School Shopping

If we took our cues from the stores, we would think summer is over, even though it seems like it just began! After the 4th of July, all summer clothes are on sale and winter clothes will soon be on the racks, even though we are sweltering! Great time to beef up your summer wardrobe, if need be.

If you need to shop for back-to-school clothes or if you have children who need to do so, here are a few tips:

1. Take inventory of what you have. If you have children, tackle this job one child at a time. Make a list of all tops, categorizing them separately - short sleeve, long sleeve, t-shirts, dressy, dressy casual, etc. Do the same with bottoms - shorts, capris, jeans, skirts, dress pants, etc.

2. While going through the closet, start a donation pile and a throwaway/rag pile and a giveaway pile for clothing you want to pass on to specific people.

3. Make a list of all the possible outfits, both summer and winter.

4. It will become obvious which articles of clothing have no matches or matching accessories - shoes, socks, jewelry, belts, etc.. Make a shopping list.

5. NOW it's time to shop! If you are shopping for your children, make back-to-school shopping a fun event. If you can, take one child at a time, have lunch together, and make it a special day.

Even though this process takes a while, it is far more productive. You may discover outfits you never considered, you'll clear the closet of unwanted items, and your shopping will be intentional rather than haphazard, which will likely save you money. And you and/or your child will have a list of outfits to wear - especially helpful on those days when choosing an outfit seems overwhelming!

Comments? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

Similar topics:

Get Oranized Month 2009 - Organizing Your Clothes Closet
Get Organized for School - Clothing Inventory
Getting Organized for School - Learning Style

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Got Cucumbers? Skin Care Rx

Good Morning! It has been a busy time with our foster girls this week - 4th of July parade and fireworks, Amish country, some great discussions, crafts, and more! Hope you're having a good week so far. :)

Here's some interesting cucumber information I found and thought might come in handy sometime ...

Besides being a refreshing veggie loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and dietary fiber, cucumbers have healing properties for your skin!

You've heard the expression "Cool as a Cucumber" - it's no joke! The inside of a cucumber is up to 20 degrees cooler than the outside.

That's why it feels so good to put cucumber slices over your eyes to reduce puffiness. You can also use them to put on minor burns or other skin irritations. How does it work? Cucumbers contain a natural astringent which causes blood vessels to constrict, decreasing swelling.

For skin rashes, insect bites, sunburns, and minor aches, chop cucumber skin and flesh in your blender and spread the paste over the affected area. This paste can also be used to make a homemade skin mask - it brings out the natural shine and beauty of your skin.

Aren't cucumbers amazing?

(Resources: Better Homes and Gardens, February 2009, p. 106. Uses for Cucumbers. The Many Uses of Cucumbers)

Comments? Click here to comment on the original blog.

Similar topics:

Organizing Your Herb Garden, Part 4 - Using Your Herbs for Healing
Reduce Anxiety with These Foods
Mouthwash and Mosquitoes

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

National Association of Professional Organizers' Best Product in Technology

The National Association of Professional Organizers awarded NeatDesk their
“Best Product – Technology” at their annual conference this year. I thought you might like to know about it. I have not tried it, but it looks pretty cool. It costs $499, but they are offering $50 off right now. Here's what NeatDesk's website says about it:

Paper goes in. Information comes out.

NeatDesk is a high-speed desktop scanner and digital filing system that scans receipts, business cards and documents all in one batch. It includes NeatWorksTM software that identifies and extracts the important information and automatically organizes it for you.

With NeatDesk, you get a digital filing cabinet that intelligently organizes and secures all your important information.

Transform your workspace into a space that works. At work or at home, NeatDesk declutters your workspace, providing a central “inbox” for all your papers—ready to scan when you are.

All-in-one scanning. Our removable input tray can scan both sides of up to 10 receipts, 10 business cards, and 10 documents at a time—or even a single, 50-page document.

Key Features:

Intelligent Text Recognition

NeatWorks software uses OCR and patented parsing technology to identify and capture key information from scanned documents. On receipts, it looks for the date, vendor, amount and sales tax. On business cards, it captures all of the contact information: name, company, title, address, phone, email, website and fax. And on documents, the software captures all of the printed text and gives it to you in searchable PDF format. You can also perform keyword searches on any scanned item to find what you need quickly and easily.

Scan in receipts to:

  • Save digital copies of receipts and records of vendors, dates and totals
  • Create expense reports and manage business and personal expenses
  • Keep track of expenses for tax time (records accepted by the IRS)
  • Export data to Excel®, Quicken®, QuickBooks®, TurboTax®

Scan in business cards to:

  • Keep digital images of cards and contact information
  • Capture name, address company, title, etc.
  • Create your own searchable contact database
  • Export data to Outlook and more

Scan in documents to:

  • Create searchable PDF files
  • Edit text using copy/paste
  • Organize and store in your digital filing cabinet



What do you think? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Organizing Your Mud Room

Hope you had a great 4th weekend! We did, and we're headed off to Amish country today.

This was a guest post I did at I'm An Organizing Junkie, but I never posted it here. So ... here it is, with a little revision! The picture was added, compliments of Laura, The Organizing Junkie:

Organizing Your Mud Room

I love mudrooms! They corral clutter before it enters your home! If you don’t have a mudroom, you can even create one in your garage or a hall closet.

Whether your mudroom is inside your house or in the garage, the idea is the same – you want to have a dumping ground as your family enters the house. Start with pegs or hooks to hang backpacks, briefcases, coats, scarves, etc. If you have room, add a bench with storage to sit on while taking off shoes. A chair will suffice, too.

The bench can house sports equipment if you have athletes in the house. Or choose another receptacle for sports equipment. And finally, shoe storage – a shoe rack, shelves, cubbies, etc.

A rug from the bench or chair to the door is a nice touch, if your mudroom is in your garage. If the members of your family are slipper wearers, they could keep them in the mudroom and slip into them after removing their shoes.

By creating such a mudroom, your house doesn’t look like it has exploded when family members come home. It takes a little training to get everyone to put things on hooks or in the shoe or athletic storage, but it is worth the effort! Every few days, have a shoe exchange where everyone picks up an armload of their shoes and takes them to their closets.

Whoever invented mudrooms was ingenious!

photo courtesy of dennace

What have you done to make your mudroom work? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

Similar topics:
Get Organized Month 2009: More on Closet Organizing - The Closet Purse Hanger
Get Organized Month - Declutter Your Linen Closet
Get Oranized Month 2009 - Organizing Your Clothes Closet

Friday, July 3, 2009

Using Your Drive Time Efficiently

Happy Friday! And happy 4th of July! We plan to go to a parade and see local fireworks. Hope you have a great weekend. :) Here are some thoughts I had about using your drive time well ...

Using Your Drive Time Efficiently

Life is busy! And our time is finite. If we use our time well, life is less chaotic and we have more time for things we love. Here are a few tips:

  • Travel during non-peak traffic hours whenever possible.
  • If flexible hours are offered at work, and it works for you, start your work day earlier or later than normal, saving hours by driving at off times.
  • Carpool or ride public transportation if possible, using that time to do something else.
  • If possible, work from home one or more days a week, eliminating commute time.
  • Save up errands, rather than running out several times a week. Write them down so you don't forget them.
  • Pre-plan errands – combine errands and appointments in the same area to reduce drive time or repeated trips. Add on errands before or after times when you are out anyway.
  • Listen to a recorded book or seminar, podcast, etc. while driving.
  • Capitalize on the time spent stopped at lights - file your nails, remove trash from car receptacles, make a list, listen to the news, read a few paragraphs in a book, do deep breathing exercises, butt crunches, or finger exercises, etc.
  • While shopping, if you find something you know you will need in the future, buy it, rather than having to make another trip later.
  • Try to find doctors and other professionals near your home or workplace to reduce driving time. Do the same with shopping and restaurants.
  • Share driving responsibilities with other parents for team practices/games, youth group, etc.
  • Keep your car in good working order, preventing emergencies, missed appointments and wasted time.
How do you use your drive time efficiently? Subscribers, click here to comment on the original blog.

Similar topics:
10 Ways to Double Your Time
Organize Your Shopping Trips
Restorative Moments and Margins

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Helping Your High School Graduate Make an Intentional Plan for Transitioning into College Gracefully

Good Morning! We have girls coming this morning. One of them has graduated from high school and will be heading off to college in less than two months. Going to college is scary the first time! So I thought I'd chat with her about transitioning into college gracefully.

We usually go out to coffee together to have some uninterrupted time together when she's here. I want to ask her how she can make her transition into college a positive one, even though she has a bunch of emotions going on.

She is scared. I want to mention that everyone is scared when they go to college. Just voicing it out loud makes it not so scary. And to know that it's normal helps, too. My own children were scared and excited at the same time, and they had far fewer hurdles to climb than our foster girls have had.

She's be anxious to have freedom! To be a guardian of the county carries with it many guidelines and restrictions. Just to be able to call a friend, their social worker must interview the friend and family! I want to talk to her about the pendulum - how she wants to maintain the same values she has maintained this year and not go to an extreme in the opposite direction just because she can.

I've seen many college students who come from rather controlling homes go crazy their first year in college because they don't know how to handle their freedom. They haven' t been trained in how to make decisions, use discernment, or manage their time. During our girls' last year in high school, we tried to give them more control: we stopped asking if they had homework and such to prepare them for the total freedom they would have in college. We still expected to know where they were and when they'd be back, though. :)

She is so done with the childishness of her peers and siblings. Our girls were ready to move on from the beginning of their senior years! Everyone else at school seemed so petty and immature! I want to talk with our foster daughter about leaving well for the sake of the younger girls in her house. She is setting an example for them - hopefully a graceful one - on transitioning.

Many times our foster girls don't have the luxury of smooth transitions. Their parents do ridiculous things which are unpredictable, and create unpredictable lives for our foster daughters. They are yanked from their homes, schools and neighborhoods. Sometimes over and over. So smooth transitions don't come naturally.

I want our foster daughter to keep the younger girls in mind as she is transitioning - that they are the ones being left, that they will miss her, that they are looking to her as a role model.

She is stressed. There is so much to do before leaving for college! I want to help her think through what her tasks are before leaving: packing, shopping, paperwork, etc. To plan out those tasks will relieve the stress of being rushed at the last minute. I want to help her remove any chaos that doesn't need to be in her life during a very chaotic time.

She is insecure. She is probably wondering if she will be successful in college. She has already changed her major several times this year! I have gone over the Myers-Briggs personality inventory with her to pinpoint what is important to her in a vocation. So that is a huge tool in her tool belt.

I also want to work through my Three Steps to Time Management for the College Student with her to help her determine her own passions, priorities, and gifts. In doing so, she will be confident going into college because she will know what is important to her. And can measure opportunities that arise in light of her own priorities. She will be able to plan her schedule to include her own goals, rather than be at the whim of others. She will be less likely to flounder.

So ... we have a lot to talk about! If you have a child going into college, help make that transition graceful! Tears come, but that's normal, too. :)

Comments? Email subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

More blogs about college:

Organizing For College - Dorm Room
Organizing for College - Guest Blogger Sarah Scrafford
Packing for College, Round 1

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Shadow Boarding Your Tools

Hope your summer is going well! We are having a bumper crop of raspberries this year! I love it!

Here's a re-post of a one I did last summer:

Now that the weather is nicer, you may be spending more time outside and using the tools in your garage more often. One way to make sure your tools get put back in the correct spots is to do what the professionals do - shadow board your tools.

Shadow boarding consists of tracing the outline of your tools with a marker or paint onto the pegboard or wall where they hang. This is especially helpful if you have other people using your tools. Even a child can see where to replace a tool once it is used.

If you loan out your tools to neighbors, family, etc., you may even want to keep a list of who has borrowed which tool and when. Then if one turns up missing, you'll have a record of where it might be rather than having to remember who may have borrowed it.

Comments? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.

Other Garage blog posts:

Spring Cleaning the Garage - Storing Hazardous Materials
It's that Time Again - Swapping Out Your Seasonal Tools
Storage for Your Garage