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

Friday, October 29, 2010

Don't Let Clutter Create a Fire Hazard

Every winter you read about people dying in house fires. I've already seen several such articles this fall associated with clutter - the houses have been so full of clutter the resident can't get out of the house and the emergency crews can't find the resident. And many times there is no working smoke detector.

Gruesome topic, isn't it? If you know someone whose clutter is becoming a fire and/or safety hazard, try to arrange for some help before it gets out of hand. There are professional organizers who specialize in hoarding - not only the aspects of decluttering, but the psychological aspects as well. The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization offers referrals and assistance.

As we've discussed before, this is not an easy problem to tame and it usually requires professional help. But a working smoke detector is an easy step. Being a foster home, our house must be inspected every year by the fire department. They have even installed free smoke detectors! Check with your local fire department to see what services they provide if you or someone you know needs help in this area.

October is the month to change your batteries in your existing smoke detectors. If you know someone who may have difficulty changing their batteries, why not offer a hand?

More on hoarding:
Hoarding - There Are No Easy Answers!
Self-Help Books for Hoarders and Their Families
When Clutter is Unhealthy

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Declutter Your Thoughts Instead of Your House


I came across this article entitled, "Declutter Your Thoughts Instead of Your House a Stress Solution for Life" over at GoodHealth. It has some great ideas (and a few typos).

"When your stressed you often live with clutter. Clutter in your home, in your office, your car and your life. It may not be easy but it’s fairly simple to begin to declutter your environment. You select a room or area to declutter and begin to clear out the area by throwing things that are unusable and giving away items that are usable but you no longer need. The difficult part is to give up those items that you’re emotionally attached to. Clutter comes in all forms, from the never ending to do list, the messy bathroom to stress of holding onto a relationship that is literally destroying your mind.

But what about the mind. Clutter in the mind causes confusion, you may experience loss of energy and overwhelm. But you can’t throw out the mind or give it away because it’s usable but you no longer need it.

One way to declutter the mind is to simply write. That may seem oversimplified but it’s a fact. When you write about a stressful situation you not only record your thoughts but you defuse the stress. A stress journal is the perfect solution.

Steps to stress journaling
1. Select a journal that is pleasing to look at and small enough to carry with you throughout the day.
2. Find a quiet comfortable location to write. A place that you find particularly peaceful and relaxing.
3. If possible put on relaxing music that will set your mood and tone for writing. If time allows focus on the music for a few minutes. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths this has a calming effect on your mood.
4. Begin to write. Let your creativity flow. Write about yourself. But don’t judge your writing. Don’t attempt to write a book or in a manner that isn’t natural for you. Write the way you talk. Write about your accomplishments of the day. Writing takes the stress from your mind and places it on a piece of paper, bringing you a sense of calm.
5. Stick with it by writing everyday for five to ten minutes even if it’s hard at first. You’ll find that in a few weeks you’ll look forward to writing in your stress journal. 

It’s time to make a commitment to live the stress free life. Journal, meditate and be at peace. Don’t be afraid of your feelings. Writing is effective in releasing your feelings and it doesn’t have to be shared with anyone. Let your feelings show on paper. There is not right way to write –journaling will declutter your mind."

More on a clutter-free mind:
Clutter in Your House or Office Means Clutter in Your Mind
Increasing Your Effectiveness at Work
Save Time and Clutter by Making Decisions

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Clutter Becomes Storage?

Just for fun - thought you might enjoy taking a look at a line of products that provide a hiding place for your valuables in plain view. Developed by Yi-Ting Cheng, a Taiwanese design student residing in London.  

Secret Stash from yiting cheng on Vimeo.

Color-Coding Toys

Even though your child may have a place for everything, he may not remember where it is, even if it is labeled. So here's another way to help keep things neat: color-coding.

Using a blue permanent marker, place a blue dot on the back of each piece of a puzzle. Even if the puzzle is not put together, your child knows the pieces go in the clear shoe box with the blue dot on it.  And so on for other toys that may be confusing to place.

If your children get their toys confused, assign a color to each child and place an additional dot on their toys. Bobby's toys always have an orange dot in addition to the other dot that shows where they live.

I did this with socks as well, especially if I bought the same socks for both girls. They each had a color, and we marked dots on all their socks so it was easier to match socks on laundry day. 

More on toys:
Teaching Children to Organize
 Organizing Legos - Or Not
Helping Your Child Declutter Toys Before Christmas

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You Can't Downsize Memories

When my parents-in-law were downsizing to a retirement community several years ago, people kept asking if it was hard giving up the home they had lived in for 40 years. 

My father-in-law had a great response: even if they had to get rid of some "things," the memories will remain. Isn't that a great outlook? We can treasure all the memories created in our homes - moving doesn't take those away.

If downsizing requires parting with beloved possessions, take pictures or give them to special people so you can visit them occasionally. But your memories surrounding those possessions will be with you forever!

More on downsizing:
10 Signs That Your Parent Shouldn't Be Living Alone
Downsizing - Factors to Consider when Choosing a New Residence
Three Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reduce Christmas Stress by Organizing Now, Part 4 - Organizing Your Cleaning and Decorating

I hope you had a great weekend. I've been a little under the weather, but not terrible - just slowed down! I think everyone enjoyed a slowed down weekend - sleeping in, a little cleaning, a movie. Here's our blog for today ...

I love having people in over the holidays! But that means my house must be clean and, of course, I’ll want to decorate. If I wait until the last minute, though, I’m stressed! Here are a few thoughts to help avoid that stress:


- Determine cleaning chores that need to be done for the holidays. Parcel out chores over the weeks remaining before Christmas, starting with the ones that are long-lasting: cleaning the silver or the carpet, decluttering and purging, etc. Save the surface cleaning until closer to your events. Or, if you haven’t cleaned for a while, just get caught up on your cleaning and do it every week.

- If your list of chores seems too overwhelming, work on them in 15-minute segments and do them 2-4 times a day. If they are still too overwhelming, eliminate some! Enlist family/house members to help with the cleaning chores.

- This is not a time for major home repair, sewing projects, painting, or other major projects!

When the time comes for decorating, here are a few hints:
- If you have a lot of decorating to do, prioritize your list and schedule the individual items on your list.

- As you decorate, remove your regular decorating accessories and put them in the boxes from which you took your Christmas decorating items. That way, you won’t have to remember where you put them. I have a friend who couldn’t find her regular decorating items for a couple of months after the holidays one year!

- Take this opportunity to purge any decorating items or holiday items you no longer need or want. A great time to declutter! By doing this, the number of boxes you must get out every year decreases.

- Make holiday decorating a family affair, using items that have sentimental value to family members. Warm up some apple cider and put on some music!

- When you put your Christmas items away, make a list of what you have – decorating items, wrapping supplies, paper products, cards, extra gift items, dishes, etc., so you don’t duplicate them. Also make a list of items you need to purchase for next year and pick them up during the sales, if possible. This is a great time of year to get holiday storage boxes at a reduced price, too.

Do you have some great cleaning or decorating ideas you'd like to pass on?

Related Posts:
Three Steps to Clever Cleaning
Three Steps to Decluttering 
Reduce Christmas Stress by Organizing Now, Part 3 - Smart Gift Giving

Friday, October 22, 2010

If Elton John's Mom Can Downsize, So Can We!

Having trouble downsizing or decluttering? Get some inspiration from Elton John's mom! The following article by Jayne Dawson is a fun read: 

GETTING RID: Elton John’s mum Sheila Farebrother pictured with Elton as he receives an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Academy of Music in 2002 
"GETTING RID: Elton John’s mum Sheila Farebrother pictured with Elton as he receives an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Academy of Music in 2002
Click on thumbnail to view image
Click on thumbnail to view image
Should you ever meet Sheila Farebrother – please show her proper respect. 
She might be a woman who prefers a quiet life, she might be downsizing to a little place on the south coast, and these might not normally be the hallmarks of a fearless pioneer, but clearly Sheila is the exception. 
Because Sheila is stepping bravely into territory in which all other parents fear to tread – she is ridding herself of the possessions of one of her children, left in her safekeeping for decades.

Children do that, don't they? They desert you, they move on, they leave you bereft and they leave you jubilant, all at one and the same time.

They go to many different places, they do many different things, but one factor is constant – they always leave boxes of their possessions behind, with you, for safekeeping.

These are not possessions they want, or will ever need again, or, indeed, will ever look at again.


If your children were to articulate their thoughts on these items, those thoughts would be: "I am emotionally attached to all these leftovers of my younger life, but not emotionally attached enough to give them room in my home, so I want to solve the problem by leaving them at your house forever, because you are my mum and it is your job to solve my problems, and also to be the keeper of my past life, which I am going to pretend embarrasses me."

This is what your children would say to you, if that conversation were ever to take place. But it doesn't.

Instead what happens is this: your children move out, leaving behind their boxes full of their childhood.

They know, and you know, that at some stage you will call them and say: "Do you want this box full of your old dolls/ horror films you made when you were aged 14/ Spice Girls books?"

And they know, and you know, that they will reply: "I haven't got room for it, will you keep it?"

All over the nation there are bedrooms full of cardboard boxes, all stuffed with teenage leftovers. And these leftovers are not, repeat not, precious mementoes kept by parents who mourn the passing of the time when their children were young. No, they are boxes of junk kept resentfully by a mother and father who would much rather clear out the lot and embrace some empty space. Only their children won't let them

So parents dutifully do what is expected, and store the required items, stacked next to the boxes of blankets, and old ornaments, and bits of ancient cutlery similarly bequeathed to them, but this time by their own parents, an older generation determined to declutter without throwing away. This is yet another instance of "the squeezed middle"

But Sheila Farebrother has decided to have none of that, she has decided to get rid. And since Sheila is the mother of Elton John, she was able to do a bit better than leave the stuff outside in charity bags, or take it to the tip.

Sheila has unloaded her son's unwanted gear at a special auction where the goods for sale included all manner of starry items, like his platinum award for the first million sales of the 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and a disc commemorating 11 million sales of Candle In The Wind.

Tour jackets and VIP passes used by her for backstage access at his concerts were also among the lots, as were four silk Versace stage suits and a diamond studded crucifix.

Personally I would have been tempted to keep these items, because it is my belief you can get away with wearing more or less anything at the Women's Institute these days.

As to what prompted Sheila to take such an intrepid step, a spokesman for the auction house gave it away. Sheila, he said, used to have a large games room with shelf upon shelf to keep all the things Elton had given her, but since moving she didn't have the room any more.

So, there you have it. Elton used his mum's games room to store all the stuff he couldn't be bothered to keep in his own house(s).


Some of the items were even autographed, which must have been odd, and yet more proof that Elton was doing what all sons do and using his mum to store his cast-offs, since he surely can't have believed she needed his autograph.

But we should be grateful to Sheila, for she has empowered us. Where Elton John's mum leads, the rest of us can follow.

With us, it might be old train sets rather than gold and platinum discs but the principle is the same. Thank you Sheila, you are standing up for the rest of us. You are a mum in a million."

More on downsizing: 
Three Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence
Three Steps to Decluttering 
 The Advantages of Downsizing

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Invitation to the Mom Audience Giveaway Explosion


Over at Mom Audience, we're going to have five days of giveaways, November 1-5. This giveaway explosion is a little different from others, though. Instead of listing the giveaways on a site, we'll be emailing them right to you. In order to receive the giveaway emails, you'll need to subscribe to Mom Audience.

There are several ways you can participate:

- enter to win giveaways

- offer some giveaways on your site during the same dates and list them on Mom Audience for more exposure

- offer your products or services for others to give away on their sites (email me at Bev@MomAudience.com with your info and I'll send it out to our subscribers).

Take a look at all the details and get started now! The deadline is October 28.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shaving a Few Minutes Off Laundry Time, Part 2

Seems like we're always waiting on the dryer while doing laundry. I do know of people who have two dryers. In lieu of that, here are some great tips from Good Housekeeping on how to reduce drying time:

- Run clothes through a second spin cycle, especially heavy clothes like jeans and towels, thereby removing additional water and reducing drying time.

- Try to dry one load of clothes right after the previous load, while the dryer is still hot, eliminating warm-up time.

- Put a dry towel in with a load of wet clothes. It will absorb some of the moisture, lessening drying time.

More on laundry:
Organizing Laundry
Shaving a Few Minutes Off Laundry Time
Three Steps to Clever Cleaning

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Time Management Tip - Always Late? Start the Timer!

As I've worked with many different personality types over the years, it is obvious that certain ones have difficulty predicting how long it takes to do tasks. The result is that these people do one of two things: either work ahead to avoid last minute stress or find themselves missing deadlines or schedules.

If you fall into the latter category, start the timer! Time how long it takes you to eat breakfast, shower, put on your makeup, drive to work or school, etc. By doing so, you have a realistic picture of how much time it takes to get out the door or get ready for bed, for example.

Once you have logged your times, you can allow adequate time to accomplish your tasks without the stress of being late. You may even want to add a few minutes to allow for the unexpected. 

When one person is late, it affects the other people they live and work with, creating stress for everyone. If you're the one creating stress for others, be intentional and determine not to do it anymore! It may take a while before you figure out a system that works for you, but your life will be so much calmer! And you will be a source of blessing to others.

More on time management: 
Three Steps to Time Management
Three Steps to Planning Dinner
Creating Buffer Zones in Your Day

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reduce Christmas Stress by Organizing Now, Part 3 - Smart Gift Giving

We've had a wonderful weekend with my family, including our two daughters! We celebrated my father's 80th birthday, my parents' 60th wedding anniversary, and the life of a dear cousin who passed. Laughter, tears, memories, slide shows, toasts, hugs, teasing, and new memories made. Special times.

Now on to Christmas!

My brother loves the crowds and the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. I don’t know many others who do, though! I am stressed if I have to elbow my way through a store or not be able to find what I want because I waited too late. If you are smart, you can make holiday gift-giving less stressful. Here are a few ideas:

- Make a master list of gifts you need to buy or make along with a budget for the amount you want to spend. Stick to your budget and don't buy impulsively. Don't compete with family and friends - spend what you can afford.

- Set a deadline for finishing your shopping in order to avoid crowds, the last-minute rush, and poor selection. Remember those gifts for teachers, religious teachers, extra-curricular instructors, and stocking stuffers. Buy the same gift for several people on your list, if appropriate. Take advantage of the sales after Christmas to shop for next year's list.

- Plan your shopping trips. What stores might have most of your gifts? What is the most efficient route to the stores on your list? A little planning avoids backtracking, saving time and gas.

- Consider gift certificates that can be sent to the recipients via email or U.S. mail. Or shop online and have your purchases sent directly to the recipients. You don’t have to wrap either of these gifts!

- If you're into making your own Christmas gifts, mass produce a gift and give it to as many people on your list as possible. To reduce stress, choose a gift that doesn't have to be made at the last minute. Create deadlines for each stage of production, if applicable, so you’re finished in plenty of time.

- As you buy or make gifts, wrap them so you don't have a massive pile to do at one time. Use TV time or other mindless time to wrap. How efficient - you're doubling your time!

- Your children will be bombarded with commercial after commercial during the holiday season, and they may want it all! Have a conversation with them about realistic expectations, so they won't be disappointed. Make gift suggestions to relatives who are shopping for your children.

If you want to get away from expensive or excessive gifts, consider alternative ideas:

- Instead of exchanging gifts, experience an event together: a day trip, a service project, a holiday event, etc.

- Take the money you would have spent on gifts for each other and donate it to a cause or your favorite charity or a needy family. My parents live in Oklahoma and the year of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, they asked us to donate to The Salvation Army in their names, as that organization was so instrumental in helping during the aftermath.

- Consider drawing names or doing a "nice" white elephant game with a dollar limit on the gift.

- Give gift certificates of your time or service: babysitting, cleaning, meal preparation, handyman work, running errands, etc.

- Consider a “buy nothing” Christmas. This site gives scores of ideas from people who want to leave no footprint on the earth. Last year we gave home-grown herbs from our garden to some of our family and friends.

- With some friends or family, you may want to call a moratorium on gifts, especially when you get to the point of not needing anything. If it’s the thought that counts, try writing your thoughts down and giving them a note or letter expressing your gratitude for their friendship or love.

The holidays can be a stressful time. With a little planning, you can reduce the stress of holiday shopping and enjoy blessing your friends and family - without straining your budget or your temper!

What are your creative gift-giving ideas?

More on destressing Christmas:

Reduce Christmas Stress by Organizing Now, Part 1 - Expectations
Reduce Christmas Stress by Organizing Now, Part 2 - Thinking Through the Needs of Your Family and Friends
Three Steps to Decluttering

Friday, October 15, 2010

Quick, Frugal Meal

My husband and I are off from foster parenting for a few days and we get to eat what we want to eat. We can mix vegetables. We can eat salads. We can eat fish. We don't have to think about picky eaters. 

So the first night off, we raided the fridge and created a meal from what we had there - a stir fry.

I started with a little olive oil and sauteed some onions while cutting up some of the other veggies. I added a little garlic. Then came veggies in the order of what needed to cook the longest.

First came the carrots, then cauliflower, then broccoli and asparagus. From the leftovers in the fridge, we chopped up a baked potato, added some corn and cooked asparagus and broccoli. At the very end, I threw in a handful of baby spinach.

We didn't add meat or any other spices or herbs. Just a little salt and pepper. The onion and garlic flavored the dish wonderfully. With a fruit salad, we were set!

No extra cost - just using what was in the fridge, including some leftovers. And exactly what we wanted to eat!

More on quick meals:
Hassle Free Dinners 
Cook It Once, Serve It Twice
Getting the Maximum Mileage out of Your Veggies
My Husband's Quick and Easy Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Organize Your Christmas Shopping with New Gifts HD iPad App

Want to organize your Christmas shopping? Here's a review by AppScout of the new Gifts HD, a new iPad app.

"We know it may seem a little early to start thinking about your holiday shopping, but after the Halloween decorations have moved to the clearance aisle and the Christmas decorations have replaced them, early shoppers will start to formulate lists in their heads. Luckily, there's a new iPad app that can help you this year. Released on October 7 from Macspots, Gifts HD is a new iPad app created to help you track, budget, and compare prices for your holiday shopping. 

One of the app's most outstanding features is its ability to shop within the app while comparing products. You simply tap on a gift item that you have on our shopping list, and the app will launch a built-in browser and open Google Shopper to show you where you can find the product at its lowest cost. You can add an unlimited amount of people to your list, and assign multiple gifts and budgets for each person. 

It also features a multi-user function so that multiple members in your family can use the app with an individualized password-protected login. That way, you won't be able to see what's on the rest of your family member's lists. 

Gifts HD keeps a summary report which shows: the total amount spent per person, gifts purchased, gifts left to wrap, and the estimated budget and cost per person. It also has a built-in To-Do list and calculator. If you don't want to take your iPad shopping, you can send an e-mail summary of your gifts and your To-Do list to your phone or whoever else you want to share your lists with. 

The app costs $4.99 in the Apple App Store, and requires iOS 3.2 or later."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Help for Parents of Disorganized, Inattentive and Forgetful Kids

The following article, "A Parent's Guide to Executive Functions - Helping Disorganized, Inattentive, and Forgetful Kids" published on Q-smart not only offers valuable information, but reviews several books on the subject. 

"Executive functions are the brain skills that children and adolescents use for a variety of thinking tasks – including organization, planning, attention, self-control (also called regulation, self-monitoring or emotional control), self-awareness, flexibility, initiation (motivation), and working memory. These are skills that develop throughout youth, sometimes into a person’s early to mid-twenties.

So if your child is forever losing personal items, gets to homework at the last minute, has melt-downs over small things, or isn’t achieving as expected in school, you may be looking at delayed executive skill development.

Executive dysfunction is found in children and teens of all ability levels. It is a common in children with learning disabilities and ADHD. It is also frequently seen in children with very high IQ – think “absent-minded professor.”

So before you punish your child, demand a meeting with school teachers, or ask your child’s doctor for a prescription, there are two key things to know:
1) It’s not usually an attitude problem – it’s a brain processing problem
2) These skills can be improved.

In order to help your child develop these critical skills, there are a few parent-friendly books on the topic.

The primary book is “No Mind Left Behind – Understanding and Fostering Executive Control – The Eight Essential Brain Skills Every Child Needs to Thrive” by clinical psychologist Adam J. Cox, PhD. This book clearly explains the eight different executive functions, what is “normal” for certain age groups and when there is cause for concern. It offers practical improvement strategies for both parents and teachers of children and adolescents. The author also has a wonderful website that includes an executive skills checklist so you can review if your child may have a challenge with one or more executive functions, a newsletter, and lots of practical parenting information.

Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parents' Guide to Helping Children with Executive FunctioningAnother similar book is “Late, Lost and Unprepared ” by psychologists Joyce Cooper Kahn and Laurie Dietzel. Along with offering hundreds of common-sense interventions for a variety of situations, these caring authors remind us to be compassionate and offer empathy to children with these problems.

Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, Second Edition: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention (The Guilford Practical Intervention in Schools Series)Also, 'Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention' by school psychologist Peg Guare, EdD and neuropsychologist Richard Guare, PhD is an excellent guide for clinicians wishing to review the assessment and treatment options.  They also wrote the more parent-geared “Smart But Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential.”

Being an informed parent about executive skills can save you and your child a lot of unnecessary stress, conflict and failure. These books provide valuable resources to help your child or teen to be successful in school and life."

 More on disorganized kids:

Parenting a Disorganized Child

Disorganized Teens - Symptons of ADHD

Getting Organized for School - A Successful Day Starts the Night Before


Monday, October 11, 2010

Reduce Christmas Stress by Organizing Now, Part 2 - Thinking Through the Needs of Your Family and Friends

It's a little hard to think about Christmas when it's going to be 75 degrees today here in Ohio. But some of you live in areas where that's a norm, so I guess we'll just move past temperature and look at another way to destress Christmas: thinking through the needs of your family and friends. By using this as a filter, you can reduce some holiday stress. Here are a few ideas:

- Choose with whom you want to spend time over the holidays - friends or family who refresh, encourage, and cheer you. Take the initiative to make that happen.

Do you have friends who might be alone whom you could include in your holiday plans? Have you included a healthy amount of giving to others who might otherwise be neglected? Your heart will overflow with joy as you reach out to others! It doesn't need to be expensive, just something that says you're thinking about them.

If getting together with your relatives is too painful or unhealthy, give yourself permission not to attend. If you, your spouse, or your children might be subjected to verbal, emotional or physical abuse, don't put yourselves in this unsafe place. Even if it hurts others' feelings, you cannot condone unhealthy or painful treatment by attending.

- Consider family problems when planning gatherings. Be proactive in order to minimize Uncle John's drinking problem by having a brunch rather than a dinner. If Cousin Sally's conversation is predominantly negative or a never-ending flow, plan some conversation starters or games to reduce her dominance.

- If it's just too difficult for you to travel during the holidays, don't let others guilt-trip you into traveling anyway. Be honest and stick to your guns for your own benefit and that of your family. Invite your relatives to visit you (if that is better for you) or suggest another time of year for a visit when life is less hectic.

- Consider the needs of your nuclear family. If you have small children who need naps and a consistent bedtime (who doesn’t qualify for that one?!!), don’t overschedule. Make sure the events you plan to attend are age appropriate for your children. Don’t have an unrealistic idea of what they can grasp and endure.

- Study your family. Know what delights each one and what stresses each one, including yourself. Plan accordingly. When our girls were small, one of our daughters would respond to an overplanned schedule by vomiting - a pretty clear message! (Sorry to be graphic.) So I had to be careful not to pack our schedule too tightly.

One of our daughters loved to help my husband get the tree in the stand and put the lights on. The other one did not! So we did not include it as a family event, but chose other things they both liked, like the Christmas Eve service at our church.

By anticipating your needs and those of your family and friends, you can be intentional about your holidays. You’ll be able to weed out those items that don’t fit, plan around potential hazards, and create memorable experiences for those you love.

More on Christmas:

Easy Decadent Fudge Recipe

Toy decluttering

Tackle the Clutter before Christmas

Three Steps to Clever Cleaning

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reviews of the 1-2-3 ... Get Organized series

Melissa over at Fabulous Family Reviews was kind enough to review some of the books in the 1-2-3 ... Get Organized series. Here's the link if you'd like to read them. While you're there, take a look around her site - it's a lot of fun!

Books Melissa reviewed:
Hassle Free Dinners
Three Steps to Planning Dinner
Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Quick Decluttering Tips

Here are a couple of tips to lessen the clutter in just a few seconds:

- When you enter a room, put away one or two items that are out of place. It just takes a few seconds, but it contributes to your peace of mind. After your little mini-decluttering adventure, return to what you were doing.

- When you leave a room, take with you something that belongs elsewhere, preferably in the room where you're headed. You're not making special trips to declutter, just using your steps efficiently. Saving time and steps!

More on decluttering tips:

Decluttering in 5 - 20 Decluttering Tasks You Can Do In Five Minutes or Less

Get Organized Month 2009 - Family Five Minute Challenge

Three Steps to Decluttering

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Guest Post - Leveraging Technology to Get Organized: 4 Clever Tips

Alexis Bonari was kind enough to offer to do a guest post for us. I hope you enjoy her article. I'm going to try out some of her suggestions....

Whether you’re a college student, businessperson, or a stay-at-home parent, we all somehow find ways to lose our trains of thought and—as tasks are forgotten, appointments are dropped, and hairs are torn out—become disorganized.  Organizers and notebooks are great ways to maintain order, but for those of us more in tune with the digital age, there are many free online tools that we’ll be more inclined to use and keep up with.  Organizing should make life easier, not add a burden to our preexisting clutter.

Google Notebook
A university student will especially appreciate this tool’s ability to organize all of your web-based research.

I can’t remember now nor could I count then, in the midst of writing my senior Honors thesis, all the websites I kept under so many unorganized categories and groupings on my browser that going back to that folder today is like falling into Alice’s rabbit hole.  I could never shut my computer down because I would lose the twenty Internet tabs I had open, not to mention my train of thought.  Bookmarking these sites wouldn’t do much good since my Favorites list was a jungle, anyway.  I wish I’d known about Google Notebook.

With it, you can save sections of Web pages and annotate and comment upon them to your heart’s desire.  You can have multiple notebooks that you can break down into sections.  If you want to change something, it’s easily done, and you can rearrange notes by dragging and dropping them to the desired destination.  With the extension (available for Firefox and Internet Explorer), Google Notebook can also clip pages with a single click. 

For business people preparing for a conference or really, anyone who has any task worth writing down on a sticky note somewhere, Backpack is a treasure.  For personal use, you can make (and edit) lists, notes, and dividers for easy viewing on a page so it’s as if you’ve hired a graphic designer to plan an event or your day out for you in a matter of seconds.  It’s really hard to explain, so try watching the video.

For those wishing for a more interactive experience, with Backpack, you can collaborate with coworkers and together manage notes and research as long as they’re on Backpack.  And what about those spontaneous inspirations that come to you on the commute to work or school?  Each Backpack page has an e-mail address, so you can text that Pulitzer-Prize-winning idea to that e-mail via your phone (but be sure to park the car first).

Remember the Milk
This tool is for people from all walks of life, even if they’re not neck-deep in business appointments and important meetings and yadda-yadda.  If you just need to remember to go get the dog more food, to go to your friend’s book-signing, to, well, pick up a jar of milk from the store, Remember the Milk’s opening screen is there to remind you all that, plus everything else you’ve got planned for the day.

Tasks on Remember the Milk can also be shared between you and your spouse, your co-workers, or friends; you can all send task requests directly to individual Remember the Milk inboxes.

Hate balancing your checkbook?  Wesabe will do it for you if you upload your bank account and transactions either by hand (or rather, by key) or through its Firefox extension.  Don’t worry, its Privacy Policy insists that your transaction data, passwords, and the like are secure.  Wesabe makes even beginner money-makers feel at home with its user-friendly interface and handy tools that allow you to keep an eye on your money—a much better alternative than what I had before Wesabe, which was willful ignorance spurred by fear that the next time I ran my debit card through the reader, the machines around me would all start beeping angrily.  If you’ve got any questions, Wesabe is also a global community in which other users can help you if you ask and share advice.

Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident education blogger and performs research surrounding College Scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

More on technology:

National Association of Professional Organizers' Best Product in Technology

Get Organized Month 2009 - Decluttering Your Electronics

Replace Your Computers every Four Years

Three Steps to Organizing Your Office 


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fall Organizing - Winterizing Your Garage

Here's a post I did last year and it seems timely enough to repeat this year.

If you live in an area of the country where it gets cold, it's time to start winterizing. My daughter in Montana has already gotten snow, so I may be too late for some! 

The garage is a great place to start winterizing. The other evening my husband seeded the yard with grass seed (early fall and early spring), and then transferred gardening supplies to the back of the garage. He brought forward the ice melt, snow shovels, snow blower, etc. He took the opportunity to straighten up and clean up. He also put snow scrapers in the cars so we're ready when it snows.

We have been having unusually warm weather for this time of year, so we barbecued last night. It was so nice, I wanted to get one last outdoor dinner in before it gets cold (today!). But I imagine the outdoor furniture is going to the back of the garage, too! How sad. 

More on fall projects:

Winterizing your garden

Using Your Snow Shovel Year Round - Another Gardening Tip

Getting Organized for Winter - Your Chimney

Three Steps to Clever Cleaning

Monday, October 4, 2010

Clutter and Migraines

Here's an interesting article from USA Today Weekend about the correlation between clutter and migraines:

"It turns out that the same clutter that's distracting to most of us could be downright painful to people who have migraines. Scottish researchers studied the effect of 'visual noise' on people who have migraines. 

When compared with folks who didn't get migraines, those who did were more likely to have trouble searching for and pinpointing a specific object when it was surrounded by other visual distractions. 

The clutter might even provoke migraines by triggering whole clusters of nerve cells to become overactive, just like a muscle spasm. 

Cutting the clutter not only helps migraine patients; it also relieves stress for everyone."

More on clutter and health:

When Clutter is Unhealthy

Clutter in Your Car = Danger

Statistics: The Health and Mental Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning

Three Steps to Decluttering

Friday, October 1, 2010

Reduce Christmas Stress by Organizing Now, Part 1 - Expectations

Can you believe it's 86 days until Christmas!!?!! That doesn't seem very long to me. I'm updating a series I do every year to help you destress Christmas.

Thinking Through Your Expectations

As you anticipate the holidays, think through your expectations. Talk with your family members or those with whom you will be spending the holiday season. Ask what is important to them as you celebrate at Christmas - activities, traditions, food, spiritual emphasis, giving, service opportunities, etc. This is the time to determine what is important.

- Make a list of all your traditions, from decorating to Christmas caroling. Keep the ones you love (forget about impressing other people), and cross off the ones you don't. It's easy to feel a need to incorporate all the traditions you have ever done, which becomes unwieldy. To continue a tradition is ridiculous if no one wants to do it!

- Be flexible when things don't fit your expectations. Christmas Day doesn't have to happen on December 25th, for example. When we lived in Kenya, we worked with an expatriot medical team who gave their staff Christmas Day off. So we celebrated Christmas as a team on another day.

- Enjoy the moment rather than compare it to memories or expectations. Be present and relish what is happening. And if it's not exactly what you had hoped for, do what you can to make it pleasant. Be other-centered rather than self-centered.

- Keep a sense of humor. I like things to match and I appreciate beauty. However, my son-in-law secretly placed a very ugly decoration on the tree one year. I did manage to resist my urge to snatch it off the tree, and we left it on the tree for giggles. It has now become a tradition.

- Be realistic!!! Know what you can handle and what you cannot. Be kind to yourself and live within your limits. Consider the limits of your family members, too. Each year is different. One year we were moving right after Christmas and our holiday preparations for that year were very few.

Other years I had themes - stars, hearts, trees, etc. But after a few years, the number of decorations was getting out of hand, so I stopped that tradition. Don't hesitate to limit activities so you can enjoy the season!!

Be intentional about Christmas this year by thinking through expectations of your own and those of your family members and friends. Give yourself permission to make your Christmas celebration personal, meaningful, and realistic.

More on celebrating:
Get Started on Your Christmas Cards
Three Steps to Planning Your Child's Parties