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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Organizing Some Fun

Happy Memorial Day!

I was trying to think of some fun for today. We have some limitations: one of our foster daughters has a sprained ankle and another needs to do a bunch of reading before tomorrow (what? procrastination? one word: her.choice! LOL) So we can't do anything that involves walking, which eliminates almost everything.

The reader was planning to come downstairs and read for about four hours straight. Sprained ankle offered to read at the same time. So we are all going to read - to me that's luxurious!

But I'm going to change it a little. After about 2 hours, we are going to go on a progressive fast food lunch. Sounds nutritious doesn't it? We'll give each girl $6 and go to various fast food establishments where they can spend their money. The only catch is that they can only buy one item at each place and they don't know where we are going until we get to each place!

This is my plan: MacDonalds, Taco Bell, Sheetz (gas station), Burger King, and the dollar store. Sounds horrifying, doesn't it? A teenager's dream meal!! I guess I could add a grocery store on the list and make them buy a piece of fruit. One word: not.going.to.happen. 

Then we'll come back and continue our reading time.

Yesterday we did a flip a coin adventure. Flip the coin once: heads = go straight; tails = turn. If tails, flip again to see which direction to turn. Heads = right; tails = left. We go about three blocks between flips so we're not just going in circles. Sometimes we start a little distance from our house, so we're in new territory. 

Yesterday we ended up in some beautiful areas where we had never been - fun! 

What creative fun have you invented?

More on fun:

Organizing Your Fun Time

Organizing An Intentional Summer for Your Children

In a Winter Rut? Here's How to Climb Out!

5-Minute Stress Relievers - Being Generous


Friday, May 28, 2010

Wrapping Up the School Year

 As the school year closes, it's a good time to wrap up end-of-year activities. Even if you don't have kids in school, many activities take a break for the summer - a perfect time to put closure on those activities.

If you volunteer, declutter and organize any paperwork for your position. If you are passing that position on to someone else, hand off that paperwork by the middle to end of June so the transition goes smoothly. 

If you've taken a class, organize your class notes and related material. Look over your notes for action points you want to take away from the class.

If you have school-age children, sit down together and look over school papers, projects and artwork you have saved. Determine an acceptable amount to save and work with your child to determine which masterpieces to keep. 

If there are too many for your comfort, take pictures of the rest and put them in a photo album. Or send them to relatives or soldiers. Or create placemats, lamp shades, collages, etc. with them.

Print photos you want to keep from this year and divide into categories. Or copy to CDs or DVDs or another medium. Organize according to activities. Remove these pictures from your camera to make room for your summer fun.

If you haven't done so already, evaluate summer clothes for the family. Get rid of those that don't work and fill in the blanks with new ones. While you're at it, if other clothes are outgrown, get rid of those also. Donate, hand them down - whatever, but get them out of the house!

Celebrate the end of school! Make something special, decorate, do something silly, make certificates to celebrate milestones. Whatever you do, celebrate all the work each of you has accomplished during the school year.

More on wrapping up:

Getting Organized for School - Organizing Your Child's Artwork and School Papers

Overwhelmed by Unfinished Projects?

Organizing Your Keepsakes into Bins

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Is Clutter Distracting You From Work?

Are you easily distracted by some of your clutter? Is it distracting enough that you stop working? Examples: the newspaper, magazines, catalogs, golf clubs, etc.

If you find that your work is suffering because of these distractions, remove them from your office! Make it a weekly habit to remove such distractions.

Work hard. Take breaks which refresh and rejuvenate you. Refuel yourself during your breaks with food and liquids. Get enough sleep. And you'll be operating at peak efficiency and energy.

More on clutter:

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

Can Clutter Cause You to Lose Your Job?

Clutter in Your House or Office Means Clutter in Your Mind  


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Finding Charities that Will Pick Up Your Clutter

On a recent organizing job, my clients were getting ready to move and wanted to get rid of some items to reduce moving expenses. As I was driving home, I noticed a nearby Salvation Army.

I called, and sure enough, they pick up unwanted items. While on the phone, they gave me an extensive list of what they will and will not take. As it turned out, Salvation Army took everything except some wood. 

While arranging for the disposal of these items, I was thinking it would be nice to go to a website that listed charitable organizations who pick up discarded household goods. Since I was working in an unfamiliar location, I wasn't sure what organizations were available in that 

Since that time, I discovered Donation Town - a website that lists such organizations by zip code. Just go to Donation Town, enter your zip code, and you have a list of charities that will pick up your unwanted items.

I took the following section from their website, listing such charities:

More on donating:

Donating Business Clothing for Job Interviews

Get Organized Month 2009 - Decluttering Your Electronics

Get Organized Month - Decluttering Your Suits/Coordinated Outfits and Jackets


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Test Taking Mistakes

 We have a few days off, which we are thoroughly enjoying! Our girls return Wednesday night for dinner. 

Schools around here are not out yet - not until the first week of June or so. Our girls get out June 8.

If your kids are still in school and have tests to take, have them take a look at the three biggest test-taking mistakes, according to Julie Baird, The Grade Coach.

While there, snoop around - Julie has great advice to students who want to be successful in school. 

More on doing well in school:

Getting Organized for School - Peaceful and Organized Surroundings

Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep

Getting Organized for School - Study Shows Flashcards Help Improve Memory

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spring Cleaning Your Career

Part of time management is knowing your priorities, passions, and gifts so you know how to invest your life. Helen Coster wrote the following article for Forbes, which provides hints for examining your career satisfaction and productivity. 

"You've sent your sweaters to summer storage, stashed away your snow boots and vacuumed up five months' worth of dust under your bed. Your career needs a spring-cleaning, too. Whether you're actively looking for a new job or just willing to jump if the right opportunity comes along, use this season as an occasion to make yourself a better job candidate.

Tackle the most intimidating chore first, by designating time to take stock of where you are professionally. Many of us get so caught up in our day-to-day duties that we lose sight of whether we're on the right path to begin with. 

Do you enjoy going to work every day? Are you stimulated by what you do? Are you making enough to live the way you want and save for the future? Are you pursuing your professional dreams? If not, take steps. 

"The most effective thing you can do to get to your next job is get a sense of where you should be going," says Win Sheffield, a career coach with the Five O'Clock Club, a career coaching organization. "Many people discount this question, because they assume they're at the whim of the market."
You don't need to figure out your life's purpose or have a laser-focused vision of the future before you can make a move, Sheffield says. "While that kind of focus is great, it's not in most of us." Instead, he recommends, have an open mind about different careers that might satisfy you. 

Start by developing a sense of what naturally interests you now. What do you read about in your spare time? What are your hobbies? Consider careers that could develop out of those passions. 

To get the most out of your current job, take on added responsibilities that will challenge you. In mastering new skills you may discover new things that excite you and give you ideas about what you want to do next.

Next, dust off your résumé. Sheffield says that employers look at a résumé for an average of 10 seconds, and that people who have worked for less than 10 years should keep theirs to one page. If you've been working longer than that, consider two pages. Replace hackneyed expressions like "strong team player" and "possess organizational skills" with strong, active verbs that demonstrate results.

"An employer hires you to solve his problems," Sheffield says. "The single best indicator that you're right for the job is an example of where you've solved other people's problems."

Whenever possible, use numbers to document your performance. Instead of saying, "Managed a team of three," say, "Managed a team of three employees who interacted with clients and had a 100% client-retention rate over two years." Include keywords related to your skills and background, since many big companies use computers to screen résumés for phrases, like "analyst" or "financial modeling." Have a friend double-check your résumé for spelling and grammatical errors, and always be honest.

Update your LinkedIn profile. Add links to any websites that showcase your work. Write a summary of your career, including as many keywords as possible. Enlist colleagues to write recommendations. Increase your volume of connections by reaching out to former colleagues. Send a brief personal note with each invitation to link. Flesh out the "Experience" section to include a description of every job you've had.

Clean up your online reputation, as well as your workspace. Either set your Facebook settings so prospective employers can't see your updates and photos or be very sure to post information that presents you in a positive, professional light. 

Set aside an hour before or after work to declutter your desk. File business cards in some kind of searchable way, and file random documents. 

Brush up on the latest skills in your profession. Work on your public speaking with an organization like Toastmasters International. Ask your office information-technology guru for a lesson in Excel or PowerPoint. Sign up for a continuing education class. If you have an area of expertise that you can share with others, gain visibility by starting a blog about it.

Network both inside and outside your organization. The best time to network is when you're not actively searching for a job. "When you're gainfully employed, you're in a position of strength when you meet new people," Sheffield says. "They're not worried that you're going to ask them for a job." Join an alumni organization, and network internally by meeting colleagues for lunch or coffee at least once a week.

Clean up your schedule by considering all the things that compete for your time, and decide what to keep and what to discard. If you volunteer with three nonprofit organizations, select the most meaningful one, focus on it and stop giving your divided attention to all three. Focus on the things that are important to you and ditch the extraneous.

Lastly, update your "bragalogue," a short, pithy story that incorporates a few bits of information about who you are and what you've done. Think of a few positive things you can say about your work, and be prepared to share them during fly-by encounters with your boss. 

If you don't already have one, create a journal in which you keep track of your achievements. Every time you accomplish something, add an entry, noting what you did and why it was important. When possible, show how that achievement helped your company. The list will help you make your case for an internal promotion. Or, if you've stopped being excited about your accomplishments, it will indicate that it's time for something new."

More on careers:

Announcing My New Coaching Package - Rethinking Life

Creating Routines and Systems

Three Steps to Time Management at the Office



Friday, May 21, 2010

Top 10 Workouts For the Busy and Budget-Strapped

I'm the time management expert for Campus Calm, an organization devoted to helping college students have balance while in school. Amy Lademann, Fitness Expert for Campus Calm gives the following advice when you're short on time and money:
"I know many people skip their workouts because they are too bored with the same old jog, or weight training program, and struggle to think of something new to do. 

Here are my favorite workout ideas when your time, and budget are limited. These exercises will help make you fit, healthy, and strong. Of course before trying any new fitness routine, you may need to evaluate your current health and/or check in with your doctor. Always listen to your body, and work within your limits.

10 – Group Sports
Remember the days of playing outside with your friends? Many of us headed outside after school, and stayed out until dinner time, riding bikes, playing tag, playing sports, and more. If you have a group of like
minded fitness friends then make a regular time to meet at the park and do some sort of workout. Even taking cues from your childhood could lead to new fitness routines, and improved strength.

9 – Swimming
Living in Southwest Florida, the white sandy beaches, and hot summer days, and beautiful blue waters call to many of us. If it is hot and you feel like you should do something healthy then go for a swim. Swimming can be an amazing workout, to strengthen your entire body, and increase your endurance.

8 – Jumping Rope
I love jumping rope, because it makes me feel strong. Also, a 10 minute skipping session is probably worth about 30 minutes of jogging (depending on your pace) which may save you time and give you something new to practice. Jump ropes are cost effective tools, that can shape your shoulders, tone your legs, and increase your cardiovascular endurance. They pack easily, and can be used anywhere.

7 – Hiking
Hiking is an amazing workout. An all day hike is good for the body, and the soul. It challenges your core, helps your stability, strengthens your legs, increases your stamina, and more.

6 – 100’s
When you’re looking for an amazing way to measure your progress and want to boost your overall fitness level try 100’s. Take any exercise you can think of and do 100 repetitions. Then, think of another exercise
and do another 100 repetitions. Obviously this is an ambitious goal. 
Start with a lower number like 20 and work your way up by 10’s until you reach 100.
For example, try 20 minute workouts of:
• 100 crunches;
• The 100’s from Pilates
• 100 pushups;
• 100 squats
• 100 bicep curls
• 100 jumps with a jump rope
By the end of it you should feel tired, and totally invigorated.

5 – Variations of 1 Exercise
If you travel frequently, don’t have a gym membership, and/or are limited on time, try the Variations Workout. The idea is to take one exercise and do it in all different ways for a whole workout. For example, do pushups for 20 minutes in a variety of variations. Try a normal width pushup, a wide one, narrow one focusing on your triceps, a declined pushup, an elevated one… keep changing positions until you have exhausted them all.

Start with a reasonable number, based on your current fitness level and add 10 each time you do this workout. If you only have a total of 30 minutes, try this with 2–3 exercises do each exercise for 10 minutes,
and then change to another body part.

4 – Hill Sprints
Hill sprints work your whole body, and really test your fitness level. Two or three sessions of these a week, is worth double that amount of jogging. Your heart rate increases higher in a shorter amount of time, and your body will be pushed to its limit. You’ll burn more calories than jogging alone, and change up your workout a few times a week.

3 – Circuits
For your circuit workout, use one exercise for each muscle group, and perform them one after the other with no breaks in between. Then work your way back down to the start. Some great exercises for a good
circuit are:
• Pushups
• Crunches
• Bicep Curls
• Squats
• Overhead Press
• Chin Ups
• Dips

2- Dance
Put on your favorite tunes and dance! You can do this any where, and at any time. No dress code required, no reservations required.

1- Hula Hoop
Want to feel young, carefree, and alive again? Grab a hula hoop and hula! See how long you can go swirling it around your hips. Time your sessions and work your way up to several minutes at a time. Your
core will work, your balance may be challenged, your waist may become slimmer, and your energy will soar.

Just remember, fitness, and healthy living, is about incorporating workouts into your lifestyle. Finding things that you love and that make you feel good, healthy, and fit. 

It’s not about being perfect, wearing the ideal outfit, or joining the best gym. Fitness is about being consistent, at times pushing yourself further, and sometimes pulling back, or taking a day off. Listen to your body, and have fun exploring your full potential."

For more information on creating fitness programs, visit Go Beyond Motion  or contact Amy at info@go2beyondmotion.com.

More on exercise:

The Best Time of Day to Do Your Cardio Workout

Time is Money: The Best Times to Do Everything (100 Tricks & Tips) - from Online Degrees

Spring Cleaning Your Mood


Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Study - Fathers Who Clean and Declutter Have Happier Marriages

I love this article! It resonates with my belief that unselfishness is the key to a happy and mutually encouraging marriage. John Stevens wrote the following article about the fascinating results of a study about husbands and housework.

"Sorting possessions, organizing closets, and packing objects into boxes can be hard work. But husbands and fathers who do these chores can now regard themselves as investing in their own future happiness, according to a study released Thursday by the London School of Economics (LSE).

The LSE study shows a clear connection between marital happiness and the amount of housework done by fathers. Fathers who clean house, shop, and are actively involved in the care of their children are much less likely to end up divorced. Fathers who shirked these chores and who also had wives who worked outside the home doubled their risk of divorce, making them the demographic that was most likely to get divorced.  

The researchers who gathered the data did not ask fathers how much housework they were doing. Instead, they asked mothers how much housework their husbands did. They began the research process in 1970, talking to wives who had just given birth to their first child, and followed up with the families periodically over the course of the next 16 years.

About 20 percent of the couples in the study divorced by the time their first child was 16. About half the fathers were doing little or no housework, so little that they almost seemed to be campaigning for a divorce. About one quarter of the husbands did three or four chores per week, according to their wives. Those were the husbands who hit the marital jackpot, so to speak.   

The connection between men doing chores and marital happiness was so strong that researchers said it canceled out the destabilizing effect on marriage of mothers returning to the workplace. Researchers also noted that the improvement in marital happiness when husbands did chores occurred whether or not wives worked outside the home.

Scholars analyzing the study’s results were quick to point out that the important factor in keeping marriages happy was that the amount of work to be done is shared equally. It did not matter who did what tasks, as long as there was no imbalance in the arrangement, with one partner (the wife) doing far more than the other. Traditional marriages in which the husband works outside the home and the wife stays home and does most of the housework and childcare can be just as happy as marriages in which both spouses work -- but only if each spouse does a fair share of the tasks that need to be done. 

The study, which was led by senior LSE lecturer Wendy Sigle-Rushton, was done on behalf of Britain’s Gender Equality Network, which is part of the Department of Business’ Economic and Social Research Council. The Gender Equality Network was established to study the ways in which changing gender relations might be affecting families."

More on Clutter and Relationships:

Is Decluttering/Organizing with Your Spouse Making You Angry?

Is Clutter Putting a Strain on Your Relationships?

Spring Cleaning Relationships

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Are Boys More Disorganized Than Girls?

Here's a video you might enjoy about whether boys are more disorganized than girls.

Sorry - they took it off the air!

The upshot of the video: boys' brains develop slower in the area of organizing than girls' brains.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

10 Signs That Your Parent Shouldn't Be Living Alone

Kind of a dreary day here in Ohio today. But beautiful with new life! I've been watching two little birds flitting back and forth from our bird feeder to our birdhouse, where I'm assuming they have a nest. Neither one goes far, fearing harm may come to their little ones. Fascinating, isn't it, how they instinctively know how to care for their young? Ok - on to our blog for today ...

Are you worried about your parent living alone? Here are some signs that he or she might need assistance decluttering and organizing, might need to move into a care facility, or might need some in-home assistance.

1. Piles of mail and unpaid bills

2. Difficulty walking safely through a home

3. Frustration trying to organize

4. Difficulty managing activities of daily living

5. Expired food in the refrigerator 

6. Jammed closets and drawers

7. Compulsive shopping

8. Difficulty deciding whether to discard items

9. A health episode such as a stroke or dementia

10. Loneliness.

To find a professional organizer near you, visit the National Association of Professional Organizers

Resource: Home Instead

More on downsizing:

The Advantages of Downsizing

Downsizing - Factors to Consider when Choosing a New Residence

How to Find Help When You’re Ready to Downsize

Residential Options when You Downsize


Monday, May 17, 2010

DC Area - Donate Your Denim to Habitat

If you live in the DC area and need to declutter your jeans, help out Habitat for Humanity at the same time. Vastu Design Clique and professional organizer Scott Roewer have teamed up to collect at least 500 pairs of jeans.

The jeans will be turned into natural cotton fiber insulation for Habitat homes. 500 jeans will insulate one house. They have collected 300 pairs already.

You can drop off your jeans at Vastu Design Clique, 1829 14th St, NW Washington, DC 20009 from Tues - Sat 11 am to 7 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm (closed Mondays) through Sunday May 23.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Organizing Stitchery Supplies

DMC Threads has been having several guest bloggers describe how they organize their stitching supplies. If you're a stitcher, you might enjoy the insights and ideas these women offer.

More on crafts:

Storage Ideas for Crafts and Art Supplies

Organizing Art or Craft Space

Saving Time by Cutting Out Craft Clean Up


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Organizing the ADD Household

I came across an article by Keath Low entitled ADD and Organizing Your Home. His tips are great whether or not you have a family member with ADD.

"Organizing a household can help a person with ADD or ADHD function more effectively from day to day. It can also help relieve some of the responsibilities that family members without ADD/ADHD take on. David W. Goodman, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, provides some ideas on how you can better organize your home if someone you love has ADD/ADHD. 

Central Calendars


A family calendar organizes all of the information for the household in one centralized location. Social engagements, doctor appointments, school events, birthdays -- all of these important dates can be written down on the calendar. 

The calendar is like a “the memory bank” for the ADHD individual -- a place to consult about upcoming events or appointments. The calendar relieves non-ADHD family members of having to be the source of this information. This ultimately reduces feelings of exhaustion, frustration and resentment that can arise from having to be consulted about every coming and going. If questions continue after consulting the central calendar, then the individual can go to a family member for clarification.


Visual Cues

Visual cues include any visual prompts, such as lists or colorful notes, that remind the ADHD individual about important things to do. Visual prompts may include taping a colored index card with a written message (such as directions to take a morning dose of medicine) to the mirror. Even better, says Goodman, “Velcro the medicine bottle to the mirror!” That is a prompt that is hard to miss. 

For many people, routines are simply an integral part of the day, often performed mechanically and without much thought. Individuals with ADHD don’t have these automatic routines. Each day is a new experience for those with ADHD. That is why lists, order, and prompts are so vital. 

Auditory Cues

Audible alarms can be set to go off to remind an individual to do something. Watches, cell phones, digital organizers, and computers --these items have alarms that can be set. 

All of these types of reminders can be incorporated into an individual’s life. It is very difficult for ADHD individuals to remain consistent; however, this is where a non-ADHD family member can provide oversight and additional support. 


Doing things in the same sequence, at the same time day after day -- these are routines. Routines are regular and unvarying. They follow a repeated course of procedure, and are often common tasks or chores. 

One simple routine that is extremely effective for organization is for the ADHD individual to empty his/her pockets in a central place immediately upon entering the door when returning home at the end of the day. The identified location may be as simple as a wicker basket that will hold keys, a wallet, glasses, etc. The main point is that the location contains all these necessary items, and that the routine of putting these items in place is repeated day after day after day. This strategy keeps things from getting scattered throughout the house, making the morning rush a little easier. 

Divvy Up Household Responsibilities

Another way to relieve some of the burden off those without ADHD is to systematically divide up household responsibilities. This makes it clear who is responsible for which tasks. It may be that a non-ADHD family member is better at the details that come along with paying the bills. Perhaps the ADHD partner enjoys the creativity that comes along with cooking. Spouses can get together and identify who is going to do what. This helps to ensure equity in the relationship."

More on ADD: 

Visual or ADD Organizers - Keeping Your Desk Organized

Understanding the ADD Mindset

ADHD Organization - Decision-Making

Helping Your ADHD Child Get Organized

More Tips for Helping Your ADD Child Stay Organized


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Organizers' Choice Award

At the recent National Association of Professional Organizers annual conference, Smead's TUFF hanging folder with easy slide tab was given the Organizers' Choice Award. Its tab just slides across the top of the file to the location you choose. Thought you'd like to know!


More on filing:

Managing Paper

A very simple filing system for email and paper

Get Organized Month 2009 - Rethink Your Desk

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spring Cleaning Bedrooms

Isn't it freaky that I posted a blog on organizing for tornadoes yesterday and a tornado hit my home town where my parents and brothers live? A little too close to home! Everyone is fine, though.

Thought I'd repost this blog from last year on spring cleaning bedrooms. It feels so good to freshen everything up!

Spring Cleaning Bedrooms

When the weather starts to warm up, it's a great time to spring clean the bedrooms. Spring is one of the times during the year I like to wash all the bed linens for each bedroom. When the girls clean their rooms this week, I will ask them to completely strip their beds down to the mattresses. If you have children and they are old enough, they can do this chore for you, too.

It's a logical time to clean all the linens, as it's time to remove blankets for spring and summer months anyway. And it will be nice to store a freshly washed blanket, ready to use when it gets cold again.

I'll take down the curtains since they are washable. If yours are not, send them to the dry cleaners or vacuum them, using the brush attachment.

While the linens are off, you may want to take the opportunity to recruit the family to sweep the ceiling, wash the walls, clean ceiling fans, vacuum, dust, and wash windows. While you're at it, flip the mattress, too.
Even little ones can dust or wash walls with Mr. Clean Magic Sponges. All you have to do is wash the walls and rinse the sponge - no rinsing of walls!

If it takes longer than an hour or so, you may want to break it up into hour-long segments so as not to overwhelm yourself or your family. Repeat for each bedroom until you're done. You'll be surprised at how quickly it goes!

It's a lot more fun if you all work together. Put on some fun music and enjoy! Tell jokes or funny stories. Then do something fun to celebrate everyone's hard work.

It's amazing how washing walls brightens the room! And freshly laundered comforters, sheets and curtains add a spring crispness to the room! It's a big job, but a clean fresh bedroom is worth the effort!

More blogs on spring cleaning:

Spring Cleaning the Walls and Windows

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Lemons

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Salt, Newspaper, Coffee Filters, and Olive Oil

If cleaning isn't your thing, and you need a little help, try Three Steps to Clever Cleaning - a short, colorful, glossy, fun little book.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Getting Organized for Tornado Weather

Don't know if you remember a while back when I did a series on National Preparedness Month (September). During that time I bought a NOAA emergency radio.

We had a tornado watch last Friday night and had a chance to test it out. It was cool in a nerdy sort of way. When you turn to the weather channel, all it plays is notices from the National Weather Service.

So you don't have to wait for the TV or radio to get around to telling you what is going on, you're listening to the real stuff as it happens! The radio runs on batteries, an adapter or via a hand crank. It can even charge your cell phone with the proper adapter!

When a new alert comes on it is preceded by an annoying noise like the "This is Just a Test" noise on TV, which is then followed by a siren. But you can turn off both of these features if you wish.

I left them on but turned down the volume as it scared our foster daughters. I wanted to be aware when something new was happening. 

We also talked calmly to the girls about what we would do if the tornado watch turned into a warning. We were already in the rec room in the basement, and we would all pile into the powder room and cover ourselves with pillows.

Just around the corner from the powder room is a storage room which has food and water supplies. We had our cell phones with us and our wallets and our laptops. That pretty much covers our lives, doesn't it? LOL! 

Are you prepared should you have a tornado watch or warning? Have you designated a place where you would take shelter? Do all family members know the plan? 

More on preparedness:

National Preparedness Month - Determining Potential Emergencies

National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #1: NOAA Radio

National Preparedness Month - Making a Plan


Friday, May 7, 2010

Living with Imperfection

One of the best time management skills to master is knowing when to do a top-notch job and when to live with imperfection. It is impossible to expect perfection from yourself on everything you do. Otherwise you get bogged down in the details and overwhelmed.

I've been under the weather this week, and it's amazing how quickly I settled for imperfection in several areas. In fact, I did what I absolutely had to do and shelved the rest. I have tried to listen to my body and get some rest so I can recover quickly. 

But you don't have to be sick in order to live with imperfection. Some tasks are just not important enough to require perfectionism. Knowing the difference is the key.  

Allow yourself to be human and imperfect!

More on perspective:

Priorities and Perspective from a Ninety-Year-Old

Feeling Overwhelmed? Organize Your Priorities



Thursday, May 6, 2010

Spring Cleaning Relationships

We celebrated one of our girls' birthdays yesterday by having fondue - a great activity for relationship-building. Since it's still spring, I thought I'd repost this blog on relationships. The people we have around us are so important! 

Spring cleaning usually brings to mind decluttering and purging and reorganizing. Why not look at our relationships in the same way? Rather than let our lives get cluttered with unproductive relationships, let's be intentional! Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Do you have people who clutter your life and don't fit with your priorities?

Are there those with whom you'd like to spend more time?

Are there people who interrupt you from accomplishing those things that are important to you?

Is there a person you'd like to have as a mentor?

Do you have clients whom you need to fire because of the time it takes to deal with their complaints, missed appointments, etc.?

Are there people you're attracted to and would like to get to know better?

Are there people who drag you down rather than encourage and motivate you?

Do you have people in your life who are infecting you with their unhealthiness?

We have one life to live and 24 hours each day. If we don't examine our relationships, we could find ourselves at the mercy of others rather than using our gifts and talents in a meaningful way.
There are times when we choose to invest in people who drain us, but that is a choice, not a haphazard circumstance.

As we intentionally choose to spend time with those who have similar priorities, who motivate and encourage us, we will have less time to spend with those who have a negative impact in our lives. It may be necessary to create boundaries and margins to maintain health. But we can't be passive!

Similar blogs:

Reduce Your Stress - Say No
To Do List or Not To Do List - That is the Question!
Spring Cleaning the Noise

If you need help in determining your priorities and passions, see any of the time management books in the 1-2-3...Get Organized series

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One Sign That Your Clutter is Out of Control

I had such fun yesterday speaking at our local Women's Connection group on Lightening Our Summer Load. We started out by organizing our purses - what a hoot! I gave prizes for the most unusual item, the oldest receipt and the most things purged.

Some of the funny things women had in their purses: a pair of underwear, false teeth, a hearing aid, a cabinet door knob, a tool kit, a road atlas, a buckeye (it's an Ohio thing), and several kinds of foreign money. The underwear was the hands-down winner. LOL 

Now on to our blog ...

What is one sign that your clutter is out of control? When you start making stacks on the floor! When life gets too busy or chaotic to put things away or find a place for something new, something needs to change!

If it's a short term problem, you can recover as soon as the busyness subsides. But if it's an ongoing problem, you need to be concerned. Do what you need to do to reduce the chaos and busyness in your life so life is manageable. Otherwise, stacks will accumulate and you might be nominated for the hoarding show on TV!!! Just kidding ... sort of. :)

What are your signs that clutter is out of control at your house?

More on clutter:

Overwhelmed with Clutter? Make an Appointment with Yourself!

Guilt-Ridden Clutter

Emotional Depreciation - A Long-Term Approach to Clutter


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Teaching Children to Organize

How soon can you start teaching your children how to organize? In my opinion,  you can start teaching your children organization skills when they are small.

When you help them put away toys, you can talk about putting books away with the other books. Putting a truck in its special spot on the shelf. Legos in the box with other Legos.

When you do laundry, have your children help by folding their own clothes. It doesn't have to be a perfect job! Teach them to put like things together while folding and while putting them away. 

Yesterday while helping a client downsize for a move and we were in her son's bedroom, he pointed out to his mom that a shirt was in his pajama drawer. He put it away where it belonged. And he was only three or four!

While emptying the dishwasher, talk about spoons going with spoons, forks going with forks, bowls stacking on each other, etc. It teaches your children that everything has a place and like things go together.

There is something comforting to a child when there is order - life is predictable and safe, not chaotic and haphazard. Did you ever think about organization providing safety and security for your child? That's motivating, isn't it?

More about children and organization:

Get Organized Month 2009 - Family Five Minute Challenge

Organizing "Messy" Toys

Helping Your Child Declutter Toys Before Christmas


Monday, May 3, 2010

Recycling Compact Fluorescent Lamps (Lightbulbs)

We finally had one of our compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) go out and were in a quandary about how to dispose of it. We found out we could take it to Home Depot.

If you have similar questions, go to Earth 911. Just type in your zip code and the item you want to recycle, and they give you a list of places where you can dispose of your item.

Sure makes it easy to be green!

More on recycling:

A Refresher on Recycling Plastics

More Eco-Friendly Recycling

Recycling Cell Phones to Our Soldiers


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Got a 17,000 Square Foot Attic? Here's Some Organizing Advice.

 Here's an article by Candy Spelling (wife to Aaron, mom to Tori and Randy) on how she organizes her 17,000 square foot attic. I'm sure it will come in useful to you!

"My attic, like most things in my life, is oversized. At 17,000 square feet, it’s larger than the condominium where I plan to move.  But, I’ll write about downsizing another time (just the word causes me great anxiety), and, instead, invite you in to this special part of my haven.  I know that, when people think “attic,” they usually visualize stuffing things away and going back “someday” to sort them out. Not me; I’m not only a chronic sorter, but I think more of the attic as “my special storage space” than “out of sight, out of mind.”

Candy's 17,000 square foot attic
Candy's 17,000 square foot attic

One friend said, “You treat Randy and Tori’s school awards as importantly as Aaron’s big TV statues.”  I liked that. Each item is a piece of our lives, and they deserve better than to be poorly packed away until the dreaded clean-out-the-attic day finally arrives.  I actually look forward to going to the attic and climb up there at least four or five times a week, and sometimes every day. There’s too much of our lives up there to be stuffed, piled and forgotten.

We’ve collected a lot of stuff, and I wasn’t sure where to start. So, I studied storage areas in hardware stores, hotels and big box retailers to figure out the best way to keep the original floor plans, architectural drawings and charts that show what’s connected to what and how to find the wiring for every piece of equipment in the house.  I have almost a hundred different kinds of light bulbs (for everything from koi pond reflectors to French lampposts), plus unique duplicates of every carpet, wall covering, upholstery fabric, stone, and paint used in the house. Everything is labeled, and I even wrote stories about some of the rare items, such as the tale of how I found the silk for our entry hall walls.

I’ve organized and captioned everything from Aaron’s amazing career, so a large part of my attic looks and reads like a "TV Guide" from a past decade with his scripts, photos, memorabilia, notes, videos and awards from the thousands of hours of TV he produced.  Next to scripts from "The Love Boat" for example, I have a display of family photos from our cruise, photos of the cast, awards the show received and even a TV version of a cruise ship captain’s uniform.  It’s like being on “The Love Boat,” without ever getting seasick.  Multiply that times “Dynasty,” “Fantasy Island,” “The Mod Squad,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” and dozens of other shows, and people feel like they’ve stepped back into their favorite parts of TV nostalgia instead of a climate-controlled attic.

Holidays have always been very special times for me, so decorations take up a lot of space. Nothing makes a home a haven more than celebrating the holidays with festive and special items.  So, I have 59 boxes of Easter decorations, filled with everything from bunny costumes Tori and Randy wore (soon headed for Liam and Stella), to every shape and color of Easter eggs for the children from various charity organizations who come over to hunt for Easter eggs. More attic space is devoted to Christmas than any other holiday.  In fact, I have 180 boxes of Christmas decorations, which hold everything from the seven-foot toy soldiers who greet visitors outside in December, to the Mrs. Claus dresses I put on my dolls.

A big dilemma was organizing all these different memories.  I have labeled every box (“big white rabbit husband and wife drinking tea” and “cushions from Tori’s Sweet 16 party” are examples), and I have photos on the outside of every box.  I often thought I solely supported Polaroid for years because I took almost as many photos of decorations as I had actual decorations.

I always liked walking into public libraries because I appreciated the organization and order. I realized that I used some of those old filing systems for my attic over the years, but with a much warmer feel to it.  After all, my attic is full of years in the lives of Aaron, Tori, Randy and Candy.  I want to be able to visit those times whenever I can.

Here are some tips to make your attic more of an attraction than a house of horror.

Candy's Storage Tips:
1) Be discriminating.  Everyone’s attic holds something special, or else the items should be in the trash, not in your home. So, for those special memories – even if you’re not as compulsive as I am to check on them all the time – you want to make sure they are protected and easy to find.

2) Label your items as you put them away.  Don’t put this off, or chances are, they’ll just get piled and pushed and never be where you want them.

3) There are great storage boxes, cabinets, holders and files today, available everywhere from the local discount store to the storage stores. Get those that are designed to hold photos or clothes or books, to make sure they stay in good condition and protect your valuables against the elements in a cold or warm or musty attic.

4) Look for acid-free tissues, boxes or wrappers to store your valuables and delicate items. Archival storage solutions are available from many retailers, container stores and online photo accessory retailers, and it’s worth finding it.  No matter how carefully you may pack some items, they still might wilt over time if not stored in an acid-free environment.

5) Take photos of what you’re storing, and number each box with a Sharpie or long-lasting ID.  Keep the records in a scrapbook, three-ring notebook or on your computer, along with a drawing or map of the attic to show where you placed each item. The reference numbers and maps will certainly be useful when you need to find something. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.

6) Check in on your attic from time to time and don’t be afraid to move things around.  You might also want to move some things back downstairs to be more prominent in your life again. Life moves very quickly, and there’s no reason to shut out the past."