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, April 30, 2010

Planning Ahead for Dinner

My husband and I had a wonderful vacation with one of our daughters last week. Because of distance, we don't get to see each other very often, so we relished every moment. 

When we got home, it was definitely time to go grocery shopping! I decided to plan menus for three weeks this time. While my mind was engaged in this direction, why not plan for longer than a week?

Last night I baked a bunch of chicken breasts. We had make-your-own quesadillas last night. We'll have chicken chow mein tonight. And we'll have chicken cranberry salad and wraps later on. 

I cut up chicken while everyone else was doing their after-dinner chores. I froze the chicken for the latter two dishes, refrigerated the chicken for tonight, and I've just taken a big step out of three dinners! Oh, that feels good!

All it took was looking ahead to see what was on the menu and thinking strategically. We'll have steak a couple of times and use leftovers in beef fried rice and fajitas. 

What do you do to streamline dinnertime? I use my Hassle Free Dinners, my own family cookbook, the internet, and recipes from magazines as resources when planning menus. 

More on streamlining dinner:
Hassle Free Dinners
Three Steps to Planning Dinner (includes my family cookbook) 
Planning Dinner

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Make it Easy to Get Rid of Things

Here's an idea that makes it easy to get rid of things: place a shopping/grocery bag in each closet in which you can deposit items no longer wanted or needed. 

Don't forget to put a bag in the laundry room, too. As you're removing clothes from the dryer, it's so simple to get rid of outgrown children's clothes if you have a bag right at your fingertips.  

If unwanted items are to be trashed, take them directly to the trash can. But if they are to be donated, drop them in your bag. When charities call, you're ready with your bag of donations! Empty out each bag and start fresh.

If you find your bags are overflowing and want to get rid of your unwanted articles quickly, toss them in your car so you'll remember to drop them by your favorite charity. 

If your hand-me-downs are going to a particular person, label the bags accordingly and put them in your car so you'll have them on hand the next time you see that person. Better yet, drop them off personally and get them out of your car!

More on decluttering and donating:

Decluttering and Donating

Save Time and Clutter by Making Decisions

Donating Business Clothing for Job Interviews

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Overwhelmed with Clutter? Make an Appointment with Yourself!

Having trouble getting that decluttering done? Make an appointment with yourself! 
Put it on your calendar just as you would a doctor's appointment or a luncheon appointment. 


Start with one hour a week. I think you'll be surprised at how much you can do in just one hour! In fact, you'll probably be motivated to go longer than an hour once you get started. 

But don't schedule your appointment with yourself for longer than an hour because it may overwhelm you. Just leave some extra time in your schedule in case you're still motivated after an hour.

Put on your favorite music and have some fun!  

If you really want to get serious, set a deadline for each decluttering job and celebrate after accomplishing each one!

One of my current clients has been enjoying having friends over because her house is no longer filled with clutter. You may enjoy doing the same.

More on decluttering:

A Simple Way to Stay Focused on Decluttering/Cleaning

A Tisket A Tasket - Decluttering with a Basket

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Organizing An Intentional Summer for Your Children

I loved creating an intentional summer when my girls were small, and try to do it as much as possible with our teenage foster daughters. The following is a blog I posted a couple of years ago. I hope you enjoy it!

Rather than enduring through the summer, make it intentional! If your children are old enough, have them think through some goals for themselves over the summer. These could includes the following categories: physical, social, financial, vocational, spiritual, educational, mental, artistic, musical, and life skills.

If you have grade school children, you may need to talk about this with them. If your children are younger, think through the areas that would apply to your small children and come up with ways you'd like to see them grow over the summer. 

With our teenage foster daughters, we let them decide their own goals. Some of them have included losing weight, expressing anger appropriately, speaking gentle words instead of harsh words, saving money for a car, learning how to manage money, and making new friends.

Some ideas for each category:

- Physical: eating nutritionally, running a mile in a certain time, learning a new sport, swimming lessons, care of hair and skin, an athletic camp, honing athletic skills, riding a bicycle/tricycle, fine motor skills, etc.

- Social: table manners, fun ideas for dates, sharing, please and thank you, not interrupting, telephone etiquette, how to be a good conversationalist, how to be a good friend, how to protect yourself on a date, what to do if your friends want you to do something you shouldn't, etc.

- Financial: saving, tithing, budgeting, opening a checking or savings account, investments, generosity, etc.

- Vocational: shadowing someone in a field of interest, researching a profession, field trip, internship, volunteer work, getting a job, how to interview, how to write a resume, how to fill out a job application, etc.

- Spiritual: vacation Bible school, memory verses, prayer, how to study the Bible, seeing God in nature, how to know God, restoring your relationship with God when you've blown it, finding a church you like, joining a youth group, etc.

- Educational: brushing up on needy subjects, summer school, work sheets, college visits, thinking through a major, keyboarding or computer skills, how to study, how to take a test, how to take notes, learning the alphabet or numbers or colors, learning how to read, etc.

- Mental: learning more about an interest, field trips, logic exercises, games, challenge programs, learning skills, memory techniques, time management, etc.

- Artistic: art lessons or classes, art time for drawing, etc., crafts, woodworking, sewing, jewelry, cartoons, knit, crochet, etc.

- Musical: lessons, learning a new instrument, concerts, symphonies, outdoor music programs, voice lessons, choir, band, camp, etc.

- Life Skills: changing a tire, setting the table, ironing, mending, tying shoes, folding clothes, laundry, how to plan balanced meals, cooking, how to use household appliances, cleaning up toys, how to make a bed, etc.

Hope I gave you some food for thought. Tell me about your intentional plans for the summer!

More on Summer:

Peace-of-Mind Vacation Check List - What to Do Before You Leave

It's that Time Again - Swapping Out Your Seasonal Tools


Monday, April 26, 2010

Declutter Your Purse with Celebrity Hairstylist's Invention

Here's a new invention I came across in an article in the Palm Beach Post that may help declutter your purse or bathroom. 

"Hairdresser Melissa Peverini flies the country in private jets to style the hair of famous clients, including Rod Stewart, Penny Lancaster and Paloma Picasso. The 39-year-old stylist from Palm Beach Gardens loves everything about her job, except one: the excessive amount of tools she needs to carry on a daily basis.

"I always had to travel with tons of bags full of brushes and combs that worked for different effects," Peverini said. 

"It was a huge clutter and became expensive for those clients who wanted to maintain the look, so I realized I had to come up with something that would bring all these tools together."

That was when Peverini, a stylist for 20 years, invented a hybrid that works as four styling tools in one. 

In December, after a year and a half of searching for a manufacturer and generating five prototypes, Peverini launched the VersiComb. "It eliminates the clutter and minimizes my clients' expenses," said Peverini. "I wish I would've had this over the last 20 years."

The ionic-infused styling tool has two sides. 

A narrow-toothed side has nylon bristles that detangle hair along with boar's-hair bristles to tease and add volume. The wide-toothed side separates curls while smoothing and polishing hair. 

The comb folds in half to become travel-friendly.

"It's a sleek, sexy and beautiful tool that my clients can take out in an evening bag to maintain their hairstyle all night," Peverini said. One West Palm Beach client, Sheilah Seidensticker, calls the VersiComb a "lifesaver."

"I don't even have to pack any other hair tools," she said. "I just pack the VersiComb in my purse and go."

VersiComb, priced at $14.95 on Peverini's Web site www.versicomb.com, is also sold in some salons and drugstores in West Palm Beach."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Getting Rid of Homeschool Clutter

I never homeschooled my kids, but I know many do. I came across the following article by Journey into Unschooling on decluttering homeschool supplies. Hope it's helpful to any homeschoolers out there.

"I am a huge fan of model homes. I love visiting them and poring over photos of perfectly arranged rooms with that too-perfect-to-be-lived-in quality.

I know that many of these are set up for a spectacular photo shoot — I’m sure if you could see the other side of the photographer, there’d be a pile of mess that had been shoved aside! Obviously, the imaginary occupants of these fantasy residences don’t homeschool.
However, just because we can’t live in the perfect model home, doesn’t mean we have to wade our way through a cluttered one...

Removing clutter from your home isn’t hard in theory. If you don’t find it beautiful or useful, then get rid of it. There are plenty of books and internet sources showing you how to accomplish this.

But for the everyday, slightly messy, order challenged homeschooler, it isn’t so easy. What do you do with all the curriculum that is not in use but might be one day?

I set out to answer this when I got rid of as much junk as I possibly could. It wasn’t even a conscious decision. It all started with mold. The weather had been particularly wet and the moisture seemed to have bred some mold onto various walls throughout my home. We didn’t even see it at first, just smelled it — that slightly musty odor whenever we walked into the bedrooms.

Unable to live with the thought of my kids inhaling disgusting spores every night, I armed myself with a spritz bottle and set out to uncover the source of this unwelcomed intruder.

After the first hour of tossing scrap paper, used tissues, and orphaned toys, I came across a beautiful wooden Papo Buccaneers pirate fort. As I was cleaning it, I turned it over and was shocked to find the entire bottom covered with fuzzy green mold. After that, something overcame me and I started working with a frenzy.

My friend, after hearing of my project, later said she envisioned a Tazmanian Devil whirling through the house, cleaning everything in sight, and that wasn’t too far from the truth. I suddenly lost sentimental attachment to 90% of everything I touched. Old artwork that I had already scanned? Toss.

Odd pages from workbooks of years past? Dump it! Scooby Doo books we’ve outgrown and have no desire to read again? Donate it all. It felt great.

Being homeschoolers, we had educational supplies tucked and distributed throughout the house. As I was going through the shelves and closets and drawers, I thought about what I really needed to keep.

Library discards are often fantastic bargains, but do we really need to have a copy of The Inside-Out Stomach when we’ve never had a lesson on invertebrates?

If we did come to that point, I’m sure there’s another copy at the library. The books I ended up keeping were the field guides, science books, and well-loved ones, like The Wizard of Oz collection and Rosemary Wells Nursery Rhymes.

The toughest decision turned out to be the World Book Encyclopedia. It was from my own childhood and in mint condition. The fact that it was in mint condition, probably should have been a good indicator. If I had never bother to read it all these years, what was the point in taking up an entire shelf to store it? Would any of my kids even use it in this Age of Google? Probably not. Alas, it was time to bite the bullet and just pack it away.

I think I’ll keep that spot cleared forever as a reminder of what little we need.

And indeed, we don’t need much at home in order to homeschool. I’d much rather spend the day tromping through the outdoors exploring or excitedly reading the next chapter of our latest library book, visiting museums, walking through parks, conducting wild science experiments, painting a masterpiece, banging away at the keyboard, or inventing the next big game.

Homeschooling doesn’t happen on the shelves.

In the end, I donated an entire bookshelf worth of books, tossed a bin full of old schoolwork, and got rid of every piece of educational material I had not used in the past year.

The fact that our latest routine requires the use of less workbooks was enough reason to stop hoarding them for the day my younger children might use them. I filled that newly emptied bookshelf with beloved boardgames instead–a reminder to enjoy our time together.

So stop living in the classroom and free yourself to better things. Let go of the unsuitable curriculum, half finished workbooks, and never-opened encyclopedias weighing you down.

Play a game that you had forgotten you owned. Get a whiff of that fresh, uncluttered air.

Start filling your children’s minds and lives with learning, not their bookshelves."

More on homeschooling:

Organizing a Classroom for ADD and ADHD Students

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Decluttering Your Digital Life

Kevin Purdy over at Lifehacker has come up with this year's top 10 ways to declutter our digital lives. Some of this is over my head, and that's why I'm leaving it to the expert ...

"We live out so much of our modern lives on personal computers and web servers—yet so much of it is messy and over-stuffed. Clean up your email, fix your files, and tidy up your digital life with these 10 tips.

We last delved into the "digital life" in July 2007, when Gina tackled this very topic. We've seen, and even created, new tools since then—and, to be honest, that page isn't looking so hot at the moment. So, in keeping with the conclusion of our Ultimate Clutter Cleanout, we decided to craft a new list of tools we think helps makes a life of 1s and 0s, computers and creation, feel much less frantic and disorderly.

10. Declutter and Streamline Google Reader Feeds

Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life, 2010 EditionRSS feeds can start out as a convenient way of streamlining your news and site reading. After some time, and a few too many feed additions, it can feel like opening up a fire hydrant in front of your face. Read up on how the How-To Geek streamlines and declutters his Reader inbox, starting with some statistical work, stepping deep into folder organization, and then filtering the remaining feeds with a little Yahoo Pipes tweaking.

9. Clean Up Your Contacts

Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life, 2010 EditionThese people that show up when you start typing in a Gmail address—where did they come from? Google Contacts, where Gmail and other Google apps keep your peeps, can get real messy, real quick. We've offered a complete (for now) guide to fixing Google Contacts, along with some tools that help in Outlook, like the Outlook Duplicate Items Remover, and a date-sorting trick that works best for those who haven't made huge imports. (Original post: Outlook Duplicate Items Remover)

8. Compact and Manage Social Network Alerts

Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life, 2010 EditionFacebook has a way of making you sorry you use it, at least if you regard your inbox as something more than just a junk pile. To trim down on the messages that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, and other services send you, we've suggested a two-part filtering and management scheme for social networks. The short version: use Nutshell Mail and a good RSS reader. Facebook has made email management a bit more convenient itself, offering in-email replies to comment mail, which we took as an opportunity to show off our Facebook-taming Gmail filter.

7. Build Yourself Serious Gmail Filters

Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life, 2010 EditionWe know, we know—nothing we haven't said before, right? There is, however, some new stuff under the sun. If you're not already keeping annoying stuff out of your inbox and making it easy to get at the real communication, do so by building advanced filters and persistent searches. Need some inspiration? Download ten of our own filters and install them in your own inbox. Maybe you've found a filter need that's not quite covered by Gmail's built-in tools? At least one editor (ahem) digs how Syphir adds a few key criteria, like timing and number of recipients, to the mix. (Original post: Syphir)

6. Pack a More Efficient Laptop/Go Bag

Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life, 2010 EditionIf you know what you need to get work done on the go, you spend less time wondering if you packed the necessities and more time remembering, for instance, to include a bathing suit. We can't offer the ultimate laptop bag, or non-computer "go" bag, for everyone. All we can do is point to our bags, the bags our readers have shown us (in Part I, Part II, and Part III of our show-and-tell series), the bag that NYT tech columnist David Pogue carries, and hope you get a sense of how the right kind of geeky gear can actually feel liberating, rather than just more stuff taking up bag space.

5. Clean Out Your Hard Drive

Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life, 2010 EditionDig your way through your hard drive, and you'll find all sorts of stuff. Most of it can be deleted to make room for more important stuff, like your complete collection of Herb Alpert import album tracks. Digging through his own drive, Adam found lots of room for cleaning, so he showed us how its done. He used the simple, pretty Disk Space Fan, the classic and open-source champion, WinDirStat, recommended Disk Inventory X and Grand Perspective for Macs, and some automated tasks, like setting up CCleaner to run on a schedule.

4. Free Up Space in Gmail

Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life, 2010 EditionYou never thought you'd use up all those free gigabytes in Gmail—seven, as of this writing—until you went and did. Need to clear up space to stop losing archives, or step a bit further back from the brink? Gina's previously provided a seven-step clean-out system, while the New York Times recommends a back-up-and-wipe-out solution, akin to how we've suggested backing up Gmail with Thunderbird. You get the added benefit of likely having access to Gmail when it's down, and an offline copy of all your data, which is never a bad thing.

3. Automate Your Folder and File Organization

Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life, 2010 EditionDownloads go in the Download folder. Unless they're finished video downloads—then they should go in Videos. And anything older than 30 days? That should get stuffed in a folder marked for deletion. You could do this yourself and give your mouse hand a workout, or you could automatically clean up and organize your folders, using Belvedere for Windows, Hazel on Macs ($22, but with a 14-day trial), and some clever settings that Adam, the creator of Belvedere, details in his step-by-step explainer.

2. Use Dropbox—For Almost Everything

Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life, 2010 EditionThe file syncing service Dropbox does one thing very well, and that is give you access to a certain amount of file space (2 GB in free accounts) on any computer you use, as well as on smartphones. By doing so, geeky types have figured out many ways to use that hard drive in the sky. Make it your ultimate password syncer, as storage for any file on your system, and, as the How-To Geek explained, just about anything. Keep a copy of Firefox portable in your Dropbox, and your concerns about having a decent browser on any given computer are gone, and you don't have to think about whether you formatted that USB keychain drive or not. That's just one of many de-cluttering steps you can take when liberated by having 2 GB floating all around you.

1. Ban Cables and Clutter from Your Desktop

Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life, 2010 EditionYour desk is where you use your computer most, and it's likely encroached on by many things, begging for your attention and personal space. Cables tend to multiply and tangle, unless you fight them back with a total cordless setup, or something simple like a $5 coat hanger or cable organizer, or something so simple as binder clips attached to a desk. There are lots of other transient things trying to take up residence on your space. But with the help of pegboards, flush-mounted gadget ports, and other anti-clutter tactics, you can keep the hounds of excess stuff at bay. (Original posts: transient stuff, power basket)"

More on digital clutter:

National Association of Professional Organizers' Best Product in Technology

Get Organized Month 2009 - Decluttering Your Electronics

A very simple filing system for email and paper


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Give Your Stuff Away Day - May 15

Here's a clever idea that Mike Monroe is promoting: Give Your Stuff Away Day on May 15. Here's a description in his words: 

"Cool happens on May 15, 2010. It’s called Give Your Stuff Away Day and it will work (almost) like magic, as long as we promote the idea and follow procedures about acceptable / prohibited items.

Here are the details – on May 15, we bring to our curbs, items of value we no longer want. No trash, recyclables, illegal, or dangerous items. No food, drugs, chemicals, or weapons. Just safe, valuable items we would like to donate. At the same time, millions of people will be coming around picking up free items. Instantly, the world’s largest giveaway!

You’ll feel good because you removed some clutter and helped a neighbor. Others will be happy obtaining free items in a tough economy. Landfills will shrink a bit and the economy will kick up a notch.

Give Your Stuff Away Day is not really magic – there will be a bit of a mess in some neighborhoods for awhile. And in the short run, municipal refuse hauling expenses will increase (but will shrink in the long run). We’ll also experience some additional traffic. Think of Christmas – a wonderful time of year, but messy."

Below is Mike's contact information. Why not spread the word?

Mike Monroe
Give Your Stuff Away Day
PO Box 21, North Chili, NY 14514
585 749-5107
Facebook - http://tiny.cc/s99rz

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Guilt-Ridden Clutter

What is guilt-ridden clutter? Guilt-ridden clutter is clutter you have accumulated because you think you "should" keep it in order to do something with it. 

For example, do you have a collection of gourmet cooking tools or cookbooks because you think you "should" become a better cook?

Or do you have massive quantities of scrapbooking supplies because you think you "should" make scrapbooks for your family?

How about all those skinny clothes because you "should" lose weight?

Have you become the recipient of antiques or collectibles that you "should" keep for sentimental sake? Or sell on ebay?

I'm not saying that these are not noble ideals. But don't keep things just because you "should." If your heart is not in it, why keep the clutter?

Get rid of that load of guilt by getting rid of those things you "should" do something with! Feeling lighter already? Then, go ahead, find another home for them.

More on emotional clutter:

10 Types of Emotional Clutter

Emotional Depreciation - A Long-Term Approach to Clutter

9 Ways to Enhance Your Health by Being Organized


Monday, April 19, 2010

When a Bargain is Not a Bargain

If you find a fabulous bargain, when is it not a bargain? If you can answer "no" to any of the following questions:

- Do I need it?
- Does it fit me now?
- Do I already have it?
- Do I have room for it?

If you love to shop for terrific bargains, do yourself a favor. Print these questions on a card and stick it in your wallet. Walk on by those great bargains if you can answer "no" to any one of the questions. You'll save yourself money and clutter in the long run! 

More on saving money and clutter:

Swap Parties - Decluttering, Saving Money

Decluttering Your Books with BookMooch

Cash from your Clutter

A Personalized Grocery List - Good Time Management

Friday, April 16, 2010

Earth Day - April 22

Earth  Day is coming! It's April 22. Amazon has created an Earth Day Store, where you can find toys, kitchen stuff, and many more items that minimize the footprints they leave on the environment.  

And stop by Amazon Green where you can learn about green solutions you can use year-round. 

More on green:

Some Earth Day Tips to Declutter Your Home

Green Baby Gifts

10 Eco-Friendly and Wallet-Friendly uses for Olive Oil


Thursday, April 15, 2010


 Are you feeling backlogged? Mark Forster, time management expert and author, gives the following advice:

Put your backlogged work in a separate folder but focus on today's priorities. As new work comes in, measure it against your current priorities and fit it in accordingly. Work on your backlog folder each day until it is empty.

Books by Mark Forster:
Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management 
Help Yourself Get Everything Done : and Still Have Time to Play 
How to Make Your Dreams Come True

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Statistics on Clutter

"In case you 1) desire to live a happier, healthier life or 2) just like random stats, this post is for you.
  • the u.s. department of energy reports that one-quarter of people with two-car garages have so much stuff in there that they can’t park a car.
  • according to the national soap and detergent association, getting rid of clutter would eliminate 40 percent of housework in the average home.
  • the national association of professional organizers says we spend one year of our lives looking for lost items.
  • harris interactive reports that 23 percent of adults say they pay bills late (and incur fees) because they lose them.
  • if you rent a storage facility to store your excess belongings, you’re contributing to a $154 billion industry – bigger than the hollywood film business!
  • 1 in 11 american households rents a self-storage space and they spend over $1000 a year in rent.
  • it costs an average of $10/square foot to store items in your home.
  • in a 2008 napo survey of 400 consumers nationwide, 27 percent said they feel disorganized at work, and of those, 91 percent said they would be more effective and efficient if their workspace was better organized. 28 percent said they would save over an hour per day and 27 percent said they would save 31 to 60 minutes each day.
  • stephanie winston, author of the organized executive, estimates a manager loses 1 hour/day to disorder, costing the business up to $4,000/yr if earning $35,000/yr – or $8,125/yr at $65,000)."

More on clutter stats:

Statistics: The Health and Mental Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning

Interesting Clutter and Organization Statistics


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April - National Stress Awareness Month

In honor of April being National Stress Awareness Month, I'm re-posting a blog from the past:

Clutter, both mentally or physically, creates stress. And stress zaps your energy and creativity. By taking some time to organize yourself, you'll be re-energized and clutter-free.

Reduce stress by getting your mind, schedule, priorities, and clutter organized:

- List everything that is flying through your mind - your to do list, places you need to go, people you need to contact, etc. Jotting these items down on paper relieves the stress of having to remember all of them.

- Next, prioritize and assign a day and time to each task. By doing this, your sense of overwhelm will decrease. Breaking down your list into bite-sized pieces gives peace of mind because you're not faced with a never-ending, unprioritized list of things to do. Having a time assigned to each task prevents panic because you know there is time and place for everything on your list .

- If you are still feeling overwhelmed, evaluate whether everything on your list is actually important to you. In addition, ask yourself if you have over-committed yourself. Remove those things that are least important, least urgent, or to which you are no longer committed. If possible, delegate or get some help on the remaining items on your list.

- Practice saying, "NO!" to reduce the possibility of over-commitment.

- If you have tasks you need to do each day, make a daily routine list to follow in order to accomplish those high-priority items.

- Now, take a look around you. If your surroundings are disorganized and cluttered, it's hard to have a focused and productive mind. Take a few minutes and clean off a surface, putting each item away. If an item doesn't have a home, determine where it will be most useful and efficient. If your clutter is sizable, attack it in short bursts rather than a long siege. You can do anything for 15 minutes! Start in the corner and work around the room.

When your mind is clear of clutter and your surroundings are neat and orderly, your stress diminishes. Clutter is no longer stealing away your energy. The result: you are free to be creative and productive!

More on reducing stress:

5-Minute Stress Relievers - Taking a Mental Break
Reduce Your Stress - Say No
Foods that Relieve Stress
Three Steps to Decluttering

Monday, April 12, 2010

Emotional Depreciation - A Long-Term Approach to Clutter

Hope you had a nice weekend. It was gorgeous here in northeast Ohio. We went out to a park, did some spring cleaning, and saw The Last Song. Who knew a Miley Cyrus movie would be such a tear-jerker! I can't believe I'm even going to a Miley Cyrus movie, but when you have middle school foster daughters, what are you gonna do? Now on to more adult things ...

Are you or someone in your family having trouble letting go of something? Let it depreciate emotionally. In other words, put some time or distance or both between you and that item.

For example, when one of our daughters was in grade school, she couldn't bear to part with many of her stuffed animals. We put some up in our attic and then looked at them 6 to 12 months later. She was much less attached emotionally and was able to let some go.

In fact, this child was emotionally attached to everything! You may find that you have a child like this. Each child is different. With a child like this, the process of decluttering may take longer and may require a few steps. 

Another tactic is to create a picture of someone else enjoying what you are having trouble releasing. One of our foster daughters imagined a younger child appreciating some of her clothing, and it made it easier for her to get rid of some outgrown clothes.

If you must say good-bye to something that has considerable sentiment, give it to someone you know who will love it as much as you do. You'll be happy that your beloved item is in good hands. 

You may want to create a box where you place items that are hard to part with. After a few months, look at the contents of the box to see if you missed them. Based on your reaction, you'll know what to do.

It is not wrong to be sentimental about your belongings. You want to surround yourself with things you love. But if your space is too crowded to enjoy those things you love, what's the point?

When it's hard to declutter:

Is Decluttering/Organizing with Your Spouse Making You Angry?

Don't Sabotage Yourself with the "Evening Drift"

10 Types of Emotional Clutter

Your Priorities, Passions, and Gifts Create Context for Your Clutter


Friday, April 9, 2010

Preventing Freezer Burn

Tired of planning dinner only to find the meat you want to use is looking dried out? Here's an article from Men's Health on how to prevent freezer burn. 

"Here's a little science for steak lovers: A water molecule is like a teenage boy - always looking for the coolest place to be. In your freezer, that's down by the cooling coils. So water molecules try to escape from your chicken and steak and drink down to the coils if they can. Once the meat has lost enough of these molecules, you get dried-out steak-the dreaded freezer burn. 

But this doesn't have to happen: Mammoth flesh found preserved in the ice of Siberia has stayed edible for at least 15,000 years. To keep your steaks tasty forever, remove the fresh meat from its package and wrap it snugly in plastic wrap, then slip it into a freezer bag, squeezing out as much air as possible first."

I'm going to try this! I will probably leave part of the package label  in the bag so I know how much the meat weighs, etc.

More on freezing:

Double or triple a recipe

Snow Day

Cook a turkey!



Thursday, April 8, 2010

Color-Coding Your Storage

It's been a crazy couple of weeks - helping two girls exit our program, welcoming another (we now have three teenage foster daughters), spring break, taxes, preparing for a speaking engagement. Today - a day to catch my breath! Aaaaaahhhhhhh. On to storage ...

Each season we see seasonally-colored plastic storage containers. If you have seasonal items you need to store, use these colorful containers to remind you of what is stored inside.

A recent organizing client stores her Easter items in a lavender container, baby gifts in a "baby" blue one, Halloween in orange and black, Christmas in red and green, etc. She doesn't even label them because she knows exactly what they contain just by looking at the color.

You could take this a step further by assigning a color to each member of the family, and storing their keepsakes, etc., in color-coded containers. 

Simple, isn't it?

More on storage:

Containerizing Your Kitchen

Don't Make the #1 Organizing Mistake

Organizing Your Shoes


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Social Media Etiquette for Students: 50 Crucial Rules

These suggestions from Online Degree Programs are great whether you're a college student or not! Especially if you want to be taken seriously by potential employers or professional associates.
"When you first got to college, social media was probably about sending party invites, posting pictures of your new friends, complaining about tests, meeting dates, and keeping in touch with family back home. Now that you’re getting ready to leave school behind, you will need to reconfigure your social media activity so that future employers and contacts respect you. Here are 50 social media etiquette rules to remember.

Keep these general tips in mind whenever you log on.
  1. Act like you would in real life: Just because you’re hiding behind a computer as you type doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to connect what you say online with who you are as a real person. How you act on social media sites is often the most direct way that people — including potential employers — will perceive you.
  2. Don’t discriminate just because: You can’t be friends with everyone online, but you’ll never broaden your network if you don’t connect with people outside of your circle and comfort zone. Be willing to open yourself up to all types of followers and friends.
  3. You have to earn respect: You can earn respect on social media sites by offering quality, accessible information in a friendly way. Share relevant links, commentary and helpful advice.
  4. Always introduce yourself: Whenever you friend or follow a new person or jump into an open conversation, take a quick second to introduce yourself. Share your real name, occupation and geographical location. It’s just polite.
  5. Avoid burnout: If you’re on social media sites constantly, you’ll burn yourself out and annoy other people. Find a balance so that you’re making quality contributions to the discussion, not dominating it.
  6. Tweet and update for your most conservative followers: If you have lots of friends online, it can be hard to remember who’s still listening in to your conversations and updates. Remember who your most conservative followers are, and make sure whatever you put online is appropriate for them.
  7. Be curious, but not nosy: Social media communities are all about sharing and learning from each other. You’re encouraged to ask questions, but don’t be too inquisitive about people’s personal lives until you become actual friends.
  8. Be extra polite: You wouldn’t make a nasty comment to a person you just met at work or school: you’d probably go above and beyond to seem friendly and helpful. Apply the same attitude to your social media activity.
  9. Don’t ask for favors: Once you’ve established a relationship with an online contact, you can ask for advice or help, but don’t log on just to ask people to do your work for you.
  10. Follow the golden rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated, and you’ll develop a reputation for being a worthy friend and follow who other users will want to pass along to their network.
  11. Remember that there are boundaries: Not everyone you’re following — or who is following you — is your personal friend, so avoid talking about health problems and mushy stuff.
These Facebook-specific rules address photos, tagging, and all those applications.
  1. Don’t cyber-stalk: If you’re never getting any responses back to the wall posts and messages you leave on someone’s profile, then you’re cyber-stalking them. Stop.
  2. Don’t drunk-Facebook: Sending drunk Facebook messages or making drunk wall posts can be funny with friends, but seriously damaging with professional contacts.
  3. Don’t send apps: Make sure that when you try out an application, you’re not sending it to everyone you’re friends with. That’s right: everyone.
  4. Don’t write private messages on wall posts: It’s embarrassing, rude, and makes you look immature.
  5. Edit your photo choices: Don’t put up photos of yourself or others engaging in illegal, irresponsible activities, including pictures of you chugging pitchers of beer, whether or not you’re 21.
  6. Stop playing the farm animal game if you want to be taken seriously: Would you want to hire someone who clearly spends all day swapping cows and feeding goats on Facebook?
  7. Be careful who you tag: Just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean your friends are okay with having ridiculous photos of themselves posted on Facebook so that their moms and bosses can see them.
  8. Write clear status updates: People who write vague, depressing song lyrics or status updates come across as self-indulgent.
  9. Be respectful of the relationship status: Talk with your partner before changing a relationship status. If it’s good news, do you want an online medium to be the one to share it? If it’s bad, you want to make sure you’re not breaking up with someone via Facebook.
  10. Avoid chain status updates: Don’t fall for chain status updates to save a child with cancer or promote world peace. They’re annoying.
  11. Ask friends to make introductions: You’ll avoid freaking people out if you ask a friend to make an introduction rather than friending people you’ve randomly spotted online.
Twitter is addictive, but it also has lots of traps that can lure you into looking unprofessional and lazy.
  1. Don’t use automation tools: You might think it’s nice to send an automatic message every time someone follows you, but it actually makes you look lazy and unengaged. Social media is about the personal effort behind the connection.
  2. Keep tabs on your ratio: One of the easiest ways for people to decide whether or not they want to follow you is to check your follow ratio. Try to keep it balanced so that you don’t look desperate or like a snob.
  3. Share other people’s work, not just your own: For every tweet you make about yourself, make two or three tweets about someone else’s work or a third party article.
  4. Send private messages for private conversations: Twitter has an option to let you send private messages, and it’s important that you remember to use it when appropriate.
  5. Always share your best work: You never know who’s watching you on Twitter, so always promote your absolute best work, not your mediocre stuff.
  6. Use your real name: Social media is about being honest, not tricking people. Even a clever pseudonym will turn off your more professional contacts.
  7. Don’t be a sucker: As with any viral medium, it’s easy to get caught up in scams and just plain incorrect information. Don’t go crazy retweeting sensational stories until you’ve verified they’re true.
  8. Use a real picture: Just as you use your real name, use a real photo of yourself to help others understand who they’re connecting with.
  9. Don’t ask to be retweeted: If your tweet is good enough to share, your followers will retweet it without a desperate plea.
  10. Don’t use Twitter to point fingers: You can send open tweets to ask about a problem, but don’t trash companies or individuals just because you had a bad experience. Contact them in private.
Grammar and Communication
There are appropriate shortcuts for social media, but don’t go overboard. Otherwise, no one will be able to understand you, and they may think you’re lazy and ignorant.
  1. Know what @means: @ is a sign that means you’re responding to or directly addressing a particular user or message. On some sites, it even tags that person.
  2. Use the word, not the number: Substituting "2" for "to" looks like you’re in junior high.
  3. Social media is a step up from texting: Unless you’re updating all your messages on a mobile device, remember that social media is a step up from texting. If you’re typing on a keyboard, you can type out the whole word.
  4. Don’t make stupid mistakes: You’re not receiving an official grade from your tweets and updates, but you are being judged on your grammar mistakes.
  5. Edit your work: Take a few seconds to review your messages so that you can correct any mistakes.
  6. Avoid exclamation points: They’re warranted sometimes, but punctuation marks are annoying to read and make your writing look juvenile.
  7. Always be honest and transparent: With so many distractions going on online, keep your messages short, clear and truthful.
  8. Know which rules you can break: Regular abbreviations and certain punctuation marks — like ellipses — can be used more freely on social media sites.
Job Search
When it comes time to hunt for new employment or broaden your network, remember these crucial tips for the online job search.
  1. It’s okay to be chatty: Penelope Trunk explains that your LinkedIn resume should be a little chatty, but still professional. You want to stand out and come across as easy-going, but know when you’re crossing the line.
  2. Don’t follow an employer’s personal account: You’re going to look desperate and creepy if you follow an employer or hiring manager’s personal profiles. Look for official ones instead.
  3. Monitor your style: Using all caps and typing in the vernacular are inappropriate when making professional contacts.
  4. Follow up: once.: It’s a good idea to follow-up after a meeting, interview or communiqué, but doing so over and over is stalking and spammy.
  5. Understand who your target contacts want to deal with: An executive isn’t going to be interested in talking to an intern, so find the middle man who can put you two in touch.
  6. Be mindful of the time you contact someone: Don’t send Facebook messages at 11p.m. Friday night. Send them during regular business hours to show that you’re responsible and can work on a normal schedule, too.
  7. Mind your ps and qs: Always say thank you and understand that anyone who’s helping you in your online job search is doing you a favor. You aren’t entitled to anything.
  8. Keep up with your LinkedIn profile headline: Make sure your headline is updated to accurately communicate your current occupational status.
  9. Don’t be bold about looking for a new job if you’re still under contract: Remember this for your future: don’t advertise that you’re looking for a new job if you haven’t told your boss you’re quitting. You could find yourself without any form of employment if your boss — or his or her colleagues — find your updates online.
  10. Help others: It’s not just about your job search. Offer to help friends and followers if you have a contact they need."                                                                                                                                                                                        

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

More Proof That We Should Not Multitask While Driving

Still driving and talking on your cell phone? Here are the results from a new study out of the University of Utah, finding that few can talk on a cell phone and drive safely at the same time. TechNewsDaily published the following article explaining the study:

"A very small percentage of the population can safely drive while talking on their cell phones, but chances are high that you're not one of these "supertaskers." 
In a new study, psychologists have identified a group of people who can successfully do two things at once, in this case talking on a cell phone while operating a driving simulator without noticeable impairment.
Supertaskers only make up about 2.5 percent of the general population, however, said study team member James Watson of the University of Utah. 
"Given the number of individuals who routinely talk on the phone while driving, one would have hoped that there would be a greater percentage of supertaskers," Watson said. 
"And while we’d probably all like to think we are the exception to the rule, the odds are overwhelmingly against it. In fact, the odds of being a supertasker are about as good as your chances of flipping a coin and getting five heads in a row." 
20 percent longer to hit brakes
In the study, the researchers assessed the performance of 200 participants over a single task (simulated freeway driving), and again with a second demanding activity (a cell phone conversation that involved memorizing words and solving math problems). Performance was then measured in four areas: braking reaction time, following distance, memory, and math execution. 
As expected, the driving ability of most of the participants suffered if they simultaneously talked on their cell phones. It took them 20 percent longer to hit the brakes when needed, and following distances increased 30 percent as the drivers failed to keep pace with the simulated traffic. Memory performance declined 11 percent, and the ability to do math problems fell 3 percent. 
However, when supertaskers talked while driving, they displayed no change in their normal braking times, following distances or math ability, and their memory abilities actually improved 3 percent. 
'Something special'
“There is clearly something special about the supertaskers,” said study co-author David Strayer, also of the University of Utah. 
“Why can they do something that most of us cannot? Psychologists may need to rethink what they know about multitasking in light of this new evidence. We may learn from these very rare individuals that the multitasking regions of the brain are different and that there may be a genetic basis for this difference." 
Watson and Strayer are now studying expert fighter pilots under the assumption that those who can pilot a jet aircraft are also likely to be natural supertaskers. 
The study will be published later this year in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review." 

More on driving and multitasking:

Driving - Not a Time to Multi-Task

Using Your Drive Time Efficiently