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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How Personality Style Affects Organizing - Thinking/Feeling


This is the third in a series about personality type and organizing. As a facilitator for Myers-Briggs personality type and as a professional organizer, I often see the effects of personality type in the way my organizing clients like to organize. It also explains some conflicts when people try to organize together!

Today we're going to look at how people make decisions - a huge part of decluttering and downsizing. People take the information they have gathered through sensing or intuition (see the previous post in this series) and then need to make decisions about that information. This is done either based on objective fact (thinking) or based on values and/or how the decision will affect people (feeling). 

We use both thinking and feeling. Your preference is just that - your preference as to whether you use thinking or feeling most often. If you base your decisions on logic or objective fact, it doesn't mean you don't feel. And if you base your decisions on values and how your decisions will affect others, it doesn't mean you don't think.

Can you see the conflict brewing? Let's take Mary and John. Mary trusts her rational analysis and impersonal logic and wants to get rid of the doilies Aunt Trudy made for them as a wedding present.  They don't use them and the doilies don't really go with their decor. 

John thinks about how Aunt Trudy will feel if she discovers they got rid of the doilies after all the work she put into them. And he's picturing how nice it would be to pass them on to their children someday as heirlooms. 

Two different perspectives, neither wrong or right. Just different.

John may feel that Mary is too blunt or even harsh when making decisions based on thinking. Mary, on the other hand, may feel that John is being irrational or too sentimental when making decisions based on feeling.

Uppermost in Mary's mind is fairness. Combined with bluntness, it can come across as cold and unfeeling. Harmony is uppermost in John's mind. He is very compassionate and diplomatic. Can you see how John could give in to Mary just for the sake of harmony, when he really doesn't agree with her opinion? 

However, if Mary crosses a values line with John, he may come out fighting, which is surprising to all since he is normally so bent on harmony. 

- The person who prefers thinking needs to realize that logic, analysis and objective fact may not be the only factors upon which to base a decision.
- The person preferring thinking needs to understand that it's okay to love a possession or be attached to it.
- The person who prefers feeling must realize that just because a special person gave a gift, the gift doesn't need to be kept. That person will still be special whether or not the gift is kept.
- The person preferring feeling needs to understand that in order to downsize or declutter, discarding some sentimental items may need to take place.
- The person preferring thinking needs to try to be diplomatic and compassionate when sorting with a person who prefers feeling.
- The person who prefers feeling needs to try to be objective and logical when sorting - whether alone, with a person who prefers thinking and especially with another person who prefers feeling.
- Both types need to communicate honestly so that both views and opinions are heard. They need to realize that they make a good team - looking at both sides of a decision before making it.
- If necessary, work out a deal with one another that is a win-win for both parties. 
- If a person has trouble letting go of a treasured possession, he/she could take a picture of it or give it to someone who will treasure it, too.  The treasured item can even be visited on occasion.

More on personality and organizing:

How Personality Style Affects Organizing - Introversion/Extraversion

How Personality Style Affects Organizing - Sensing/Intuition

Overwhelmed by Unfinished Projects?

Three Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Low-Cost Closet Storage Air Fresheners

There's nothing that ruins the ambiance of a home than foul odors! What's the point of organizing our closets (and our homes for that matter!) if they don't smell good? With four teenage girls and scores of their shoes, we are ripe for odiferous aromas wafting through our house! LOL! 

And it seems that houses just smell musty after a while. I've heard that plug-in air fresheners are fire hazards, and we are not allowed to have aerosols in our home for safety reasons. So I've been looking for ways to keep our home smelling fresh in light of these limitations. How delighted I was to discover this article by Closet Pages!

"Additions you make to your closet storage system don't have to be just gadgets, hooks and organizational structures; sometimes, it's little things that can make all the difference - like closet storage air fresheners.

Many closet storage spaces do not have air vents, which leaves the air stale and uncirculated.  As much as we don't want to admit it, this causes musty, stagnate odors where your clean clothes are stored.  Luckily, there are great inexpensive closet storage air fresheners that can solve this problem quickly, easily and at a low cost!

We've done some research of our own to see which common and not so common odor solutions work best as air deodorizers and closet air fresheners for closet storage spaces.  Some can be purchased and others are quick DIY projects, but either way, they'll get the job done.

Here Are 5 Great Low-Cost Closet Storage Air Fresheners

Activated Charcoal
That's right... activated charcoal;  a simple and seldom thought of solution for odors.  Activated charcoal acts as an odor absorbent.  Although, many retail stores sell pre-made activated charcoal air freshener solutions, they can get a little pricey.  If you choose to buy a pre-made charcoal air purifier or freshener, go for the simple, less costly ones, they all work well.  You can even find them in small sizes for pet areas and refrigerators and use them as closet air fresheners too.

You can also make a charcoal closet air freshener by purchasing tubs of activated charcoal at home improvement stores, garden shops or pet supply stores.  Put a cup of the charcoal in a thin cloth bag, place the bag in an inexpensive bowl or Tupperware container without the lid, hide it in the closet storage space and presto!  These closet storage air fresheners work in as little as a day!
Yes, cedar has been a staple in many closets for years, it's a great air freshener for many areas including storage spaces.  You can purchase cedar chips or shavings from a pet supply store and hang them in cloth bags in your closet or purchase cedar closet storage accessories that act as closet air fresheners as well.  Cedar garment hangers, cedar shelf liners, cedar blocks, cedar sprays and cedar drawer liners are just some of the products this air freshener can be bought as.  It also works great at covering pet odors.  The cedar solutions are the most well known closet air fresheners and it's got a great reputation because it works!
Baking Soda
Have that old box of baking soda towards the back of the refrigerator that you often forget about? If you do, you probably know that baking soda absorbs odors and moisture.  Baking soda-filled bowls, pouches and products can help act as closet storage air fresheners.  Baking soda-based air fresheners can be bought in the store, but you can make them at home too!  Fill a porous fabric, filter or dryer sheet with baking soda, tie it up with some string to make a pouch then hang it up in the closet!  This is a simple and inexpensive solution, just be sure to check the baking soda every few weeks as is may need to be replaced a few times a month for best results.

Another closet storage air freshener idea for baking soda is to sprinkle it on the carpet then vacuum it up for odor elimination from the ground up.
Essential Oils
Essential oils are concentrated liquids that contain the fragrance of a plants, flowers and other such naturally occurring aromas.  Essential oils are used in soaps, perfumes and candles; why? Because they smell great!  They're a great way to freshen closet storage areas and there are dozens of aromas to choose from.  For closet air fresheners, try just dabbing a few drops on the light bulb in the closet or even soak some cotton balls in the oils and hide them in the storage space.  When the oils are heated with the light from the bulb or room temperature, the fragrance is released and the smell will fill your closet.  So, even if the closet light is only on a few times a day, that's enough to jump start the essential oil closet air fresheners.
White vinegar naturally dissolves odors.  No one particularly likes the smell of vinegar, but vinegar's odor dissipates quickly making it a great air freshener.  Many people will fill a small cup of vinegar and place it in the closet while others will make a vinegar+water combination that can be sprayed in the air, on the carpet or on musty clothing.  An empty spray bottle can be purchased at a local drug store.  Fill the spray bottle with a 1 part vinegar to 1 part water ration and lightly mist the musty areas.  White vinegar not only makes for a great air freshener, but can also be used to clean up around the house or help rid carpets of pet odors.
One More Closet Air Freshener Idea: Plants
Yeah... this article is called "5 Great Closet Storage Air Fresheners" but there is one more that needs to be mentioned: Plants!  Plants take in carbon dioxide, release fresh oxygen and can also filter out other harmful toxins in the air.  Plants can be placed in (naturally) well lit closets, living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms and entry ways.  They are great closet storage air fresheners, but will also clean the air in the entire house if taken care of properly.

Tips: Closet Storage Air Fresheners

  • Some of these closet air fresheners eliminate odors while some simply add a fragrant smell.  A combination of solutions will work the best.  Perhaps one that dissolves the odor, then another to add a sweet scent.
  • Never burn candles or incense in small confined places such as closets.
  • Test any substance or any closet air fresheners on sample carpet or fabric to ensure that no harm will be done to the items in the area.
  • Potpourri can always be used as well in conjunction with other simple household closet air fresheners; citrus and vanilla aromas are most popular.
Over all, the mix of activated charcoal and essential oils was a Closet Pages favorite, but we found each air freshener to be useful.  Closets are tricky places to get rid of odors since burning candles or incense in a small enclosed space, such as a closet, is NOT advised and is a fire hazard.  There is less of a variety of closet storage air fresheners than more open areas of the home with outlets, but these do it yourself simple closet air fresheners will do the trick and make your wallet happy."

More on odors:

Vinegar - 10 Ways to Save Your Clothes!

Get Organized Month - Organize Your Shoes

Three Steps to Clever Cleaning

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Idea to Help Your Kids Get Organized

Looking for a way to organize your kids, especially in the morning, in the afternoon, and at bedtime? Try using dry erase boards!

To get your kids involved, have them list the things they need to do at these critical times of the day. By thinking of and writing down those items, they are more invested in the process, hopefully. If your child is too young to read or write, have them draw pictures.

When each item is accomplished, it can be checked off. At the end of the day, the check marks can be erased and the list is still in tact. 

A nice tool for disorganized or forgetful kids. 

More on organizing kids:

Helping Your ADHD Child Get Organized

Getting Organized for School - Organizing Homework

Getting Organized for School (and life!) 2010 - Getting Enough Sleep

Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room

Monday, September 27, 2010

Organizing Lawn Care - Fall Projects

We're already seeing leaves fall from the trees. It doesn't seem we are going to have very pretty fall colors due to the dry summer we had. Last year our next door neighbor's red maples were so beautiful - I'll be sad if we don't get to see them in all their glory! 

Fall is a wonderful time to get your lawn and garden ready for the winter and spring. We are doing some major weeding at our house today! Here's a post from the past on that subject:
Plan ahead now to get that wonderful garden and lawn in the spring! Especially, if you're planning to put your house on the market next spring, this will give you a head start on your curb appeal.

My husband just put Scott's Turf Builder Winterguard on our lawn to beef up the grass over the winter. It comes in varieties that get rid of weeds and other pesky problems. For some reason crab grass has become very obnoxious this year in our lawn.

Another suggestion from Scott's: don't bother raking your leaves. Go over them two or three times with the mower until they are dime-sized. Next, feed your lawn. And the nitrogen and microbes will take care of the recycling. Sounds good to me!

Scott's website has helpful information, including a schedule for lawn care according to your zip code.

This is also the time of year to plant those tulips, narcissus, and other bulbs that look so inviting in the spring. A couple of years ago, we dug up our entire front garden, mapped it out, and planted perennials so we would have blooms the entire spring and summer.

One of those perennials, however, took over much of the garden and I'm not happy with the color, either. And not enough tulips and narcissus came up. So we're going to redo it again. I'm not so sure I would be motivated to do it again so soon, but we are having the drainage system redug because it is leaking into our basement. So if we are going to have to dig up the garden anyway, we may as well be intentional about it.

By now, I know what I like in the garden and what I don't want to see again. I've also learned what grows well here and what doesn't. A lot of it is trial and error, isn't it? I had the idea that once we mapped it all out, it would all grow just as we planned and I would love it. But some didn't come up and some grew too much and some I'm tired of. It's a lot of work, but it sure pays off when flowers pop up each year and it makes our house look so cute!

What do you do in the fall to prepare your lawn and garden for spring?

Related Posts:
Using Your Snow Shovel Year Round - Another Gardening Tip
Winterizing your Garden

Friday, September 24, 2010

Decluttering Seminar

I will be giving a seminar on Decluttering on Saturday, November 13 from 3 - 4:30 pm at the Kent Free Library. We will be discussing creating a vision for your room, sorting, managing paper clutter, maintaining your new look and more!  

Kent Free Library is located at 312 W.Main Street, Kent, OH 44240. There is no charge for the seminar, but call to register - 330-673-4414. 

More on decluttering:
Three Steps to Decluttering

The #1 Cure for Accumulating Clutter

Starting Small with Clutter

How to Avoid a Clutter Explosion When You Walk in the Door

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm Honored to Receive the Top 50 Freshmen Advisor Award!

Isn't it nice when life is difficult and something comes along to encourage you?  Recently we've had some trying days as foster parents of four teenage girls, and my father's health is failing, making for some hard days.

Several things have happened in the last week to encourage me, one of them is being given the Top 50 Freshmen Advisor Award by Accredited Online Colleges. 

"The Freshmen Advisors Award recognizes the top web thought-leaders that offer young students advice that advances the college life experience. Your website has shown commitment to assisting college freshman on their (organizational) transition into college and this award is intended to commend your efforts."

They are referring to my book Three Steps to Time Management for the College Student which helps students determine their passions, priorities and gifts which will act as filters for new and present activities.

Thanks for sharing in my encouragement!

More on college:

Organizing For College - Dorm Room

Review - AgendaWorks Planner

Review of Three Steps to Time Management for the College Student

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When to Find Organizing/Decorating Items on Sale

Everyone's watching their pennies these days, but don't let that stop you from reorganizing or redecorating! Here's a list of when different items go on sale (not just organizing/decorating items), so you can plan your strategy! Thanks to Happy Hacker BBS II for this list:

JANUARY: Christmas decorations (up to 90% off in some cases); Linens; Bikes; Outdoor gear; Furniture; Winter coats (up to 75% off in some cases); CDs and DVDs; Cookware; Swimwear; Toys.

FEBRUARY: Winter clothes; Houses and Condos; Humidifiers; Small Consumer Electronics; MP3s and digital cameras; Treadmills.

MARCH: Video games; China; Computers.

APRIL: Electronics.

MAY: Towels; Athletic apparel; Cordless phones; Small appliances; Mother's Day materials.

JUNE: Tools; Father's Day materials; Computers; Swimwear.

JULY:  School supplies; Computers; Furniture; Swimwear.

AUGUST: Pool toys; Sandals; Patio furniture; Air conditioners; Camping equipment; Dehumidifiers.

SEPTEMBER: Summer clothes; Inflatable pools; Gas grills; Shrubs, trees, perennials.

OCTOBER: Lawn mowers.

NOVEMBER: Baby products; Toys; Halloween items.

DECEMBER: Christmas items (after Christmas Day); Wedding dresses; Cars.

Isn't this great information?

More on saving money:

Reorganize and Decorate with Little Cash or Carbon Footprint

When a Bargain is Not a Bargain

Swap Parties - Decluttering, Saving Money

Three Steps to Decluttering

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Short on Space for Bathroom Towel Racks?

If you're short on horizontal space for towel racks in your bathroom, here are a few ideas:

Coat racks

Coat Hooks

Over-the-Door Hooks

Do you have some space-saving tips?

More on the bathroom:

Magnetic Paint - An Innovative Space Saver!

Better Homes and Gardens - Inexpensive Storage and Organizing Solutions

Clever Cleaning

Friday, September 17, 2010

Memories, Small Spaces and Double-Duty Storage

This past spring I helped organize a client who lives in a very small space. She is very sentimental, so she needed a way to keep her sentimental things around her while using her space well.

One item she found while shopping is a picture frame that doubles as jewelry storage. If you look carefully at the picture, you can see that the picture frame swings out. Behind the frame are hooks for necklaces, and storage for earrings and rings. This particular frame comes from J C Penney.

My client has numerous grandchildren and is continually collecting little gifts for them. A trunk that has been handed down in the family now stores those gifts, making them accessible, but hidden. As a result, pleasant memories are associated with this trunk in a couple of ways.

A wall-hung coat rack which belonged to her dad now serves as their entry way coat closet, since their house does not have one. An ottoman in the living room opens up to reveal extra storage.

Thankfully, my client's house has a large attached garage. Those things which are used occasionally can be stored there, and don't need to take up real estate in the house.

More on storage:
 Color-Coding Your Storage

Containerizing Your Kitchen

Don't Make the #1 Organizing Mistake

Three Steps to Decluttering


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Creating Buffer Zones in Your Day

Don't you hate it when you show up for a meeting or appointment, only to find that it is running late because earlier appointments ran late? I know I do!

When you are the one in control of the schedule, here are some ideas to keep this from happening:

- When scheduling appointments or projects during your day, plan in some buffer zones. This means adding an extra few minutes to allow for these activities to take longer than expected.

- Don't fall into the trap, though, of relaxing your efficiency since you've planned in extra time. Try to finish in the time you estimated without the buffer zone.

- If you end up with a few extra minutes between appointments or projects, have a ready list of to dos that take short snatches of time. These will refresh your brain since you're changing focus for a few minutes between appointments or projects.

- Always carry something with you to do should you be kept waiting. Or if the person with whom you are meeting is chronically running late, call ahead to see if he/she is on time.

By adding buffer zones to your schedule, it's less likely you'll keep others waiting by underestimating time requirements. And you'll reduce your own stress because you're not constantly running behind. 

What a difference a few minutes makes!

More on appointments/projects:

A Dozen Tips for Efficient Appointments

Scheduling Appointments

A Dozen Ways to Take the Stress out of Big Projects

Three Steps to Time Management at the Office


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Getting Organized for School 2010 - Online Homework Help

I'm reposting this very helpful information for those who have school-age children:

Mary Meehan in her article School Rules: Tips for Parents offers some homework resources for kids:

- "Infoplease
is a free reference site including an encyclopedia, dictionary, almanacs and a "Homework Center" that covers English, math, history, geography, science and social studies. Plus it has a "Skills" section to help improve study, writing, speaking and research abilities. 

- Need help with homework or a school project? Discovery Education provides "Homework Help" to students in all grades with links to loads of sites. The links are conveniently organized according to subject. 

- Homework Spot offers links to Web sites grouped by grade level.

- Scho
lastic's "Homework Hub" offers free tools, tips and activities arranged according to grade and subject. In addition, it provides an online store offering Scholastic brand products. 

- Homeworkhelp.com offers live, online tutoring with personalized programs for fourth to 12th grade students. Users must purchase levels of membership ranging from $30 to $175.”

Source: School Rules: Tips for Parents by Mary Meehan, Dow Jones MarketWatch.

Related topics:  
Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist 
Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub 
Time Management for the Stay-at-Home Mom

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Getting the Most Bang Out of Your Produce Buck

I love having fresh produce available at local farmer's markets! I'll hate to see them go. I came across the following article regarding fresh produce, which I thought might be of interest to you. I learned a few things!

Fresher Doesn’t Always Mean Healthier

"Frozen foods can be not only cheaper but healthier - especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables in the winter and spring months. As Birdseye realized, fast freezing means more nutrition: One study found that vegetables such as green beans and spinach lose 75 percent of their vitamin C after being stored in the fridge for a week. 

And at Arizona State University, an analysis found that ready-to-drink orange juice has less than half the vitamin C of frozen OJ and loses all of its C within 4 weeks of opening the package. So freezing really does help foods retain the vast majority of their nutrients. 

Additionally, food processors pick "fresh" produce when it's still unripe, and then it sits on trucks and boats during its long journey-sometimes thousand of miles-to your supermarket. 

But produce intended to be sold frozen is picked at the peak of ripeness - which means it has more time to suck up nutrients from the sun and the soil. So not only are frozen foods higher in nutrition to begin with, but they also don't lose nutrients sitting in trucks and then in the fridge."

More on produce:

Getting the Maximum Mileage out of Your Veggies

Organizing the Pantry

My Ongoing Quest: Not to Go to the Grocery Store

Hassle Free Dinners


Monday, September 13, 2010

Parenting a Disorganized Child

I discovered this article written by Joyce Cooper and Khan and Laurie Dietzel. Great information: 

"Kids with weaknesses in planning and organization have trouble independently imposing structure and order to tasks and ideas. So, they have difficulty organizing information in their heads, as well as organizing their stuff or planning out a long-term project. When faced with various tasks, disorganized children may have trouble thinking through the steps required, and they may tend to underestimate the complexity and the time needed.

Does this sound like your child?
• She has trouble organizing her space.
• He neglects to turn in completed homework assignments.
• She arrives at her Girl Scout meeting completely unprepared.
• He underestimates the effort involved in a big class project.
• She is overwhelmed at juggling multiple classes and projects.
If so, there are tried-and true behavioral interventions you can try — and continue to practice — with your child to help him or her with this challenge.

1. Break down tasks into component parts. For example, for a school project, divide the tasks into daily chunks, and enter these on the calendar or in an agenda book as homework. Build in an extra day or two for the unexpected, so your child gets in the habit of planning a cushion of extra time.

2. Offer organizational frameworks in advance. Discuss the most important points to be learned before your child gets started.

For a reading assignment and book report, for example, provide an outline of the major topics and subtopics from the book with space for your child to fill in specific information. Offer study questions in advance so he or she understands the learning objectives before starting to read.

3. Teach the use of tricks and technology aids. Teach your child to write a one-sentence summary on a sticky note after reading each paragraph that he can use later for his report. Also, set the alarm on his or her watch for chunks of studying time. Enter reminders or alarms on the computer for due dates. When your child prints out an assignment, consider prompting him or her to also e-mail it to the teacher.

4. Develop templates for repetitive procedures. Make a checklist of everything that needs to be in your child’s soccer bag. Laminate it and keep it in the soccer bag for last-minute checking. For young children, create photo charts with pictures from magazines for completing chores, preparing to catch the bus and gathering necessary gear for sports practice.

5. Walk through the planning process with your child. If your son or daughter chronically loses or doesn’t turn in homework, talk through the process. Is the homework getting lost at home? Is it in the bottom of the backpack? In his or her locker? Is it in the right notebook, but forgotten once class starts? Once you identify where the process is getting stuck, add a step to his or her routine to get past it.

6. Provide accommodations at home and at school. Simplify your child’s schedule by reducing the number of extracurricular activities. Ask your child’s teacher for advance notice of upcoming assignments, so you and your child can identify the most demanding times of the week or semester so appropriate adjustments can be made in his or her homework and study schedule."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Online Printable Planner Pages

Looking for a place to print planner or calendar pages? Here are three options. Worldlabel is free. The others charge a fee.




More on calendars:
Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub 
Product Review of Organizers - Daily Home Planner  
Product Review of Organizers - The Planner Pad
Three Steps to Time Management

Thursday, September 9, 2010

How Personality Style Affects Organizing - Sensing/Intuition

To continue our examination of how personality style affects organizing, we're going to look at how we take in information. We do that through our senses - smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch. This preference is called sensing.

Next, we take that information and:
- correlate it to other information, or
- grasp the meaning of that information, or
- see the big picture into which that information fits.

This preference is called intuition.

All of us function in both areas. Our preferences determine where we spend more time. 

A person who prefers sensing will notice when things are out of place. A person who prefers intuition will not necessarily notice clutter until it gets to an uncomfortable level. In fact, the intuitive may not even see the obvious at times - the trash can on the curb which needs to be brought in, for example. 

An intuitive sees possibilities and loves to brainstorm and generate new ideas. This can be threatening to a sensor who likes the practical, sensible, and realistic. The sensor will point out flaws in the new ideas unless she feels they are practical and useful.

A sensor relies on past experience, whos motto is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."  An intuitive relies on hunches and gut feelings, which are usually reliable and accurate. Without necessarily being able to pinpoint the details he picked up through sensing, he takes those details and forms a hunch about them.

The person who prefers sensing, likes to receive information in consecutive order, whereas the person who prefers intuition can receive information out of order and can still understand its meaning. 

A sensor may be more likely to read instructions than the intuitive.

The person who prefers sensing is more present-oriented and focuses on what needs attention now. The person who prefers intuition is more future-oriented and focuses on long-term goals.

The person who prefers intuition sees meaning from the details, whereas the person who prefers sensing will see the details but may miss the meaning or bigger picture. It's a "can't see the forest for the trees" kind of thing. 

So how does all this apply to organizing and decluttering?

- The sensor needs to understand that the intuitive may not realize the clutter she has left behind and may not have done it purposely. A simple "Could you put your dishes in the dishwasher, please?" would suffice from the sensor.

- The intuitive needs to make a conscience effort to look behind him to see what clutter he has left. 

- The sensor and intuitive may need to come to an agreement about how much clutter is acceptable to both parties.

- A five-minute family challenge may need to be instituted each night before bed-time so all the clutter is picked up. It is depressing for a sensor to start the day with a bunch of clutter lying around.

- If an area is not functional, the current system is obviously not working. It's time to look at new possibilities - the intuitive's forte! The sensor needs to appreciate the intuitive's ability to think outside the box and come up with new ideas.  The sensor needs to be open to new ideas.

- When generating new ideas, the intuitive needs to listen to the sensor's critiques. 

- When critiquing, the sensor needs to be diplomatic and kind.

- Together, the intuitive and sensor can make a great team - one generating ideas, the other tweaking them to make the final outcome even better. If the parties aren't too possessive about their ideas or ways of doing things, they should be able to solve the problem!

- Even if it's scary, the sensor needs to listen to the intuitive's hunches and gut feelings. If the intuitive is not used to giving his own hunches credibility, he should start listening to them, also.  

- The person who prefers sensing may want to start decluttering at one place in the room and move around the room in an orderly manner, whereas the person who prefers intuition may prefer just jumping in anywhere. 

- If a sensor and intuitive are decluttering a room together, they need to determine a plan of attack they can agree upon - moving consistently around the room, jumping in anywhere, or something in between. The sensor may want to do the orderly sweep while the intuitive categorizes items into like groups, for example.

- The intuitive's strength is to see the big picture for the room - the vision. 

- Once the vision for the room is determined, the sensor's strength is to determine priorities of what needs to be done and in what order. 

- The person preferring intuition may enjoy making a floor plan with scale model furniture, trying different configurations until he finds an option that creates a functional room.     

- An intuitive and sensor working together need to draw upon the other's strengths by listening to ideas, contributing ideas, and having a teamwork mentality. 

- If you are a sensor and are stuck, find a family member or friend who loves to brainstorm and think outside the box (most likely an intuitive) and ask for help. Vice versa if you're an intuitive. 

- Or locate a professional organizer who will fill in the blanks for you. The National Association of Professional Organizers or Faithful Organizers provide directories of organizers near you.

More on organizing:

How Personality Style Affects Organizing - Introversion/Extraversion  

Three Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence 

Three Steps to Decluttering 

Three Steps to Becoming a Downsizing Professional


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Giving Yourself Permission to Move On

Just because you used to love collecting Beanie Babies, spoons, or coins doesn't mean you are obligated to continue. And even though you used to love painting, gardening, or woodworking, you don't have to feel guilty because your interest in them has vanished. We change and our interests change.

By giving yourself permission to move on when your interests change eliminates clutter associated with those interests. By all means, check to see if others in your family want your collections before you discard them. But if no one is interested, don't keep them just because "someone" might want them "someday." 

I used to enjoy doing crafts, sewing, etc., but no longer have an interest. I'm happy to teach our foster daughters how to do these hobbies, but when we leave this position, I'll leave all my craft supplies behind for them to enjoy.

Keeping things because they were gifts from special people is not a reason to hang onto them, either. If you're just not interested or don't use them, say good-bye.

Find someone who might appreciate your collections or your hobby paraphernalia and pass them along. You will lighten your clutter load and you are blessing someone else! Or sell them to finance new hobbies or interests.

Why live with excess when you don't need to? 

More on moving on:

Getting Rid of Guilt-Producing Expectations

Guilt-Ridden Clutter

10 Types of Emotional Clutter

Three Steps to Decluttering

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting Organized for School 2010 - Organizing Your Child's Artwork and School Papers

Along with school, comes all those papers! And art masterpieces. What to do with them? You want to preserve memories of your child’s school years, but you don’t want to train her to be a pack rat.

I’ll have to admit – I wasn’t very proactive in this area when my children were growing up. We’d sort through papers every once in a while, frame some, and store others, but we didn’t do it very consistently.

I researched this topic when asked to contribute to an article written by Mary Beth Breckenridge at the Akron Beacon Journal (Preserve your Children's Masterpieces without Creating a Mountain from Paper Memoirs, September 5, 2005). I found some great ideas I wish I had used.

So today’s blog comes primarily from the article Mary Beth wrote from the hints that two other organizers (Deniece Schofield and Chris Perrow) and I contributed. And I’ve added a couple I’ve come up with since then.

First, choose a receptacle for such papers. It could be a file folder, a hanging file, an art portfolio (or one made by taping two pieces of poster board together), a box, a binder with protector sheets - whatever works for you and your child.

Before storing your child’s artwork, you may want to display them. You could create a gallery in your child’s room or elsewhere by hanging a colorful piece of string or yarn across a wall and clip the artwork to the string. Voila – instant gallery.

Or use a picture frame to house artwork, swapping out the front picture when a new keeper comes along, storing the other pictures behind the most recent one. And there’s always the refrigerator or a bulletin board.

Another option is to turn the artwork into placemats (by laminating them), wrapping paper or greeting cards. A glass-covered coffee table can show off artwork under the glass. Or turn your child’s artwork into a calendar. Create a collage with several pieces of artwork. There are even companies that turn your child’s artwork into a book.

Artwork that doesn’t make it into the keeper file can be sent to grandma or to our troops, if it seems too cruel to toss them.

With your child, clean out her backpack at the end of the week. Some papers will not be sentimental and will go easily into the recycling bin. Try to encourage your child to choose only one item a week to keep. Label the back of the paper with the date and a description, especially if the picture may not be readily identifiable!

Some weeks may be more prolific than others, and it may be too traumatic to narrow it down to one item. If you don’t mind, and you have enough room, make exceptions here and there. There may be items you treasure, but your child doesn’t see the value in them at her age – keep those, too.

At the end of the month, as you are evaluating that week’s papers, look back over the previously stored papers to see if some of the sentimentality has decreased for the earlier keepers. Time has a way of diminishing the attachment. Repeat every month.

For large three-dimensional projects take a picture rather than storing the entire project. Large art pieces can be taken to a copy center and reduced to a manageable size.

At the end of the school year, determine if your storage is adequate to house that year’s keepers. If not, purge until it is. Label the container with your child’s name and the year.

For family night one night, take out the keepers for the last few years and reminisce – what a fun memory!

More on organizing for school:

Getting Organized for School 2010 - Learning Styles

Getting Organized for School 2010: Starting the Night Before

Getting Organized for School 2010: Homework

Three Steps to Time Managenent

Monday, September 6, 2010

Reorganize and Decorate with Little Cash or Carbon Footprint

Happy Labor Day! Hope you have a great day!

Feeling an urge to reorganize and/or redecorate, but can't afford much? Use what you have! Shop in your own home, garage, and attic. Repurpose pieces of furniture for new uses. Determine the look you want, rearrange furniture, bring in furniture from other rooms - a whole new look!

Paint is inexpensive and transformative. Paint walls, trim, furniture, appliances, even floors for a fun change. By painting several mismatched pieces of furniture, you've created a cohesive look. 

We have repurposed a no-longer-used entertainment center into storage for games and puzzles. A dresser holds fabric. Another one houses crafts. I've turned duvet covers, sheets, dust ruffles, and rugs into window treatments. We've turned bedroom storage into office storage. There's no limit to your creativity!

By shopping in your own home, you've saved money and haven't expanded your carbon footprint. And hopefully, you're using items you love.

How have you repurposed items in your home?

More on repurposing:

Don't Make the #1 Organizing Mistake

Expert Organizing and Design Tips for Your Foyer

Three Steps to Decluttering

Friday, September 3, 2010

Getting Organized for School 2010 - Learning Styles

Hope you have a great Labor Day weekend. I don't know what we're doing yet, other than shopping! With four teenage foster daughters, what else would you expect? LOL! I posted the following last year, but feel it's worth repeating ...

Getting Organized for School - Learning Styles

One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is understanding her learning style. Discovering my daughters' learning styles greatly increased my ability to help my children learn - knowing whether they were auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners. It kept me from forcing my learning style on them.

Cynthia Tobias has written several books on learning styles and learning in general. I'll recommend two that I found very enlightening: The Way They Learn and Every Child Can Succeed: Making the Most of Your Child's Learning Style. She gives numerous ideas for implementing each type of learning style.

As you talk these concepts over with your child, knowing his learning style gives your child confidence, the ability to adapt his learning accordingly, and the freedom from comparison. You may find it helpful to discuss this information with your child's teacher, especially if he is a kinesthetic learner and must be moving in order to learn.

Related topics:

Getting Organized for School - Determining the Legacy You Want to Leave
Getting Organized for School - Family Calendar
Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep
Time Management for the Stay-at-Home Mom

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How Our Digital Obsessions Affect Productivity

The following article by Matt Richtel provides some interesting insights into our obsession with digital products and not allowing even a few seconds to pass without being digitally occupied. The funny thing is that I'm sitting here with three phones and a laptop in front of me! LOL!

'It’s 1 p.m. on a Thursday and Dianne Bates, 40, juggles three screens. She listens to a few songs on her iPod, then taps out a quick e-mail on her iPhone and turns her attention to the high-definition television. Just another day at the gym. 

As Ms. Bates multitasks, she is also churning her legs in fast loops on an elliptical machine in a downtown fitness center. She is in good company. In gyms and elsewhere, people use phones and other electronic devices to get work done — and as a reliable antidote to boredom. 

Cellphones, which in the last few years have become full-fledged computers with high-speed Internet connections, let people relieve the tedium of exercising, the grocery store line, stoplights or lulls in the dinner conversation. 

The technology makes the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive. But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas. 

Ms. Bates, for example, might be clearer-headed if she went for a run outside, away from her devices, research suggests. 

At the University of California, San Francisco, scientists have found that when rats have a new experience, like exploring an unfamiliar area, their brains show new patterns of activity. But only when the rats take a break from their exploration do they process those patterns in a way that seems to create a persistent memory of the experience. 

The researchers suspect that the findings also apply to how humans learn. 

“Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories,” said Loren Frank, assistant professor in the department of physiology at the university, where he specializes in learning and memory. He said he believed that when the brain was constantly stimulated, “you prevent this learning process.” 

At the University of Michigan, a study found that people learned significantly better after a walk in nature than after a walk in a dense urban environment, suggesting that processing a barrage of information leaves people fatigued. 

Even though people feel entertained, even relaxed, when they multitask while exercising, or pass a moment at the bus stop by catching a quick video clip, they might be taxing their brains, scientists say.

“People think they’re refreshing themselves, but they’re fatiguing themselves,” said Marc Berman, a University of Michigan neuroscientist. 

Regardless, there is now a whole industry of mobile software developers competing to help people scratch the entertainment itch. Flurry, a company that tracks the use of apps, has found that mobile games are typically played for 6.3 minutes, but that many are played for much shorter intervals. One popular game that involves stacking blocks gets played for 2.2 minutes on average. 

Today’s game makers are trying to fill small bits of free time, said Sebastien de Halleux, a co-founder of PlayFish, a game company owned by the industry giant Electronic Arts. 

“Instead of having long relaxing breaks, like taking two hours for lunch, we have a lot of these micro-moments,” he said. Game makers like Electronic Arts, he added, “have reinvented the game experience to fit into micro-moments.” 

Many business people, of course, have good reason to be constantly checking their phones. But this can take a mental toll. Henry Chen, 26, a self-employed auto mechanic in San Francisco, has mixed feelings about his BlackBerry habits. 

“I check it a lot, whenever there is downtime,” Mr. Chen said. Moments earlier, he was texting with a friend while he stood in line at a bagel shop; he stopped only when the woman behind the counter interrupted him to ask for his order. 

Mr. Chen, who recently started his business, doesn’t want to miss a potential customer. Yet he says that since he upgraded his phone a year ago to a feature-rich BlackBerry, he can feel stressed out by what he described as internal pressure to constantly stay in contact.

“It’s become a demand. Not necessarily a demand of the customer, but a demand of my head,” he said. “I told my girlfriend that I’m more tired since I got this thing.” 

In the parking lot outside the bagel shop, others were filling up moments with their phones. While Eddie Umadhay, 59, a construction inspector, sat in his car waiting for his wife to grocery shop, he deleted old e-mail while listening to news on the radio. On a bench outside a coffee house, Ossie Gabriel, 44, a nurse practitioner, waited for a friend and checked e-mail “to kill time.” 

Crossing the street from the grocery store to his car, David Alvarado pushed his 2-year-old daughter in a cart filled with shopping bags, his phone pressed to his ear. 

He was talking to a colleague about work scheduling, noting that he wanted to steal a moment to make the call between paying for the groceries and driving. 

“I wanted to take advantage of the little gap,” said Mr. Alvarado, 30, a facilities manager at a community center. 

For many such people, the little digital asides come on top of heavy use of computers during the day. Take Ms. Bates, the exercising multitasker at the expansive Bakar Fitness and Recreation Center. She wakes up and peeks at her iPhone before she gets out of bed. At her job in advertising, she spends all day in front of her laptop. 

But, far from wanting a break from screens when she exercises, she says she couldn’t possibly spend 55 minutes on the elliptical machine without “lots of things to do.” This includes relentless channel surfing.

“I switch constantly,” she said. “I can’t stand commercials. I have to flip around unless I’m watching ‘Project Runway’ or something I’m really into.” 

Some researchers say that whatever downside there is to not resting the brain, it pales in comparison to the benefits technology can bring in motivating people to sweat.

“Exercise needs to be part of our lives in the sedentary world we’re immersed in. Anything that helps us move is beneficial,” said John J. Ratey, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and author of “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.” 

But all things being equal, Mr. Ratey said, he would prefer to see people do their workouts away from their devices: “There is more bang for your buck doing it outside, for your mood and working memory.”
Of the 70 cardio machines on the main floor at Bakar Fitness, 67 have televisions attached. Most of them also have iPod docks and displays showing workout performance, and a few have games, like a rope-climbing machine that shows an animated character climbing the rope while the live human does so too. 

A few months ago, the cable TV went out and some patrons were apoplectic. “It was an uproar. People said: ‘That’s what we’re paying for,’ ” said Leeane Jensen, 28, the fitness manager. 

At least one exerciser has a different take. Two stories up from the main floor, Peter Colley, 23, churns away on one of the several dozen elliptical machines without a TV. Instead, they are bathed in sunlight, looking out onto the pool and palm trees. 

“I look at the wind on the trees. I watch the swimmers go back and forth,” Mr. Colley said. “I usually come here to clear my head.”'

More on the brain:

How Sleep Helps Keep Your Brain Organized

Functioning at Peak Performance by Planning Quiet Moments

How Efficient is Multitasking?

Rethinking Life

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Getting Organized for School 2010: Starting the Night Before

Wouldn’t you love to have a peaceful, stress-free morning tomorrow? Starting the night before can help eliminate the rush and push, getting your day off to a pleasant and calm start. 

We have already seen the results of our girls not preparing adequately the night before, and school has only been in session four days - last minute scrambles for items, homework left at home, grouchiness, missing the bus, etc. I applaud those who prepare ahead of time and try to keep my cool when others don't.

Getting Your Child Organized

Knowing how much sleep your child needs is essential to his/her well-being and success at school. Trying to function well in a sleep-deprived stupor is impossible.

I feel strongly that a huge role of mine as a mom and foster mom is to create an atmosphere where my child can succeed. In order to insure that my children get enough sleep, I work backwards:

- I figure out when my child needs to be in bed with the lights out in order to get the sleep she requires. Even though most of our foster daughters are in high school, they must be in their rooms by 9 pm, as they have to get up around 5 am to get ready. That's still only 8 hours of sleep if they fell asleep instantly, and teenagers need at least that much sleep.

- We determine how much time is needed for nightly routines – shower/bath, brushing teeth, room decluttering, prayers, reading, etc. – and start the routine that much earlier than bedtime. We have four girls who share two bathrooms, so they must coordinate bathroom time.

- Next, we figure out how much time is needed for morning routines - shower/bath, brushing teeth, breakfast, etc. Each child sets the alarm to allow enough time for her morning routine to be accomplished without rush. We have one child who is younger than the rest, and has trouble judging time. When she first came, we wrote out a timed schedule of what she needs to do in the morning and how much time it should take.

- We encourage each child to choose her clothes for tomorrow and lay them out.

- Before choosing her clothes, she should have packed her backpack – homework assignments, permission slips, gym clothes, etc., checking her backpack checklist.

- If your child packs a lunch, she can pack it and put it in the fridge. If she doesn't want to make a sandwich the night before because it will get soggy, at least she can pack everything else and know which kind of sandwich she will make in the morning. (I must confess, I made my girls’ lunches throughout high school. For some reason it stressed them out, and I didn't mind doing it.)

Getting Yourself Organized

If I am running behind in the morning, it makes life stressful for everyone! So I try to create the same type of routine for myself. If I am sleep deprived, I get crabby and little things that shouldn't bother me trigger inappropriate responses.

- I need to know how much sleep I need and determine when I need to be in bed with the lights out in order to get it.

- Working backwards again, I calculate how much time I need for my nightly routine and start the routine that much earlier than bedtime.

- During my routine, I think through what my morning routine will be and how much time it will take, including fixing breakfast and making sure everyone else gets out the door on time. I set my alarm to allow for that to happen without panic. Ten minutes can change panic to calm, so I try not to cut my morning routine too short.

- Before I start my evening routine or during my routine, I think through what I'm going to wear tomorrow and make sure it's clean, ironed, etc.

- Before that, I think through my schedule for tomorrow and pack my briefcase and/or purse and/or gym bag (backpack or diaper bag for some of you) with what I need for the day tomorrow. I'm much less likely to forget something if I can think it through calmly.

- If I'm going to need a lunch, I'll prepare it before I pack my bag and stick it in the fridge. If I take leftovers from dinner, I try to package them while putting the food away after dinner.

- While I'm packing my lunch or while preparing dinner, I look to see what I have planned for breakfast. When I plan my meals for the week, I also plan breakfasts so I can get what I need when I do my weekly grocery shopping.

- After dinner is a good time to set the table for breakfast. If you have two tables - one in the kitchen and one in the dining room, you can set both whenever you empty the dishwasher - one for breakfast and one for dinner.

It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it? It’s easy to see why time slips away without even realizing it. But by being intentional about your evening schedule, you’re creating an atmosphere of success for both your child and yourself which will hopefully result in a peaceful and productive day tomorrow!

More on Organizing for School:
Getting Organized for School - Family Calendar
Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep
Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub
Three Steps to Time Management for the Working Mom