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, May 31, 2012

Organize Inexpensive Summer Activities for Your Kids

Summer is looming! I know for many of you, school is already out. We have another week or so here in Montana, and others have almost a month to go. To help you get organized for summer activities with your kids, here's a blog post I'm recycling from last summer:

What to do when money is scarce and time is long? Trisha Navotny over at 24/7 Moms was kind enough to let me use some of her ideas for summer fun on a budget. I've added some of my own ideas, as well.

- "Movies  at Regal and AMC.  Be sure to check your  local movie theatres to see if they have summer special s going on.

- Free Reading programs – Chuck e Cheese, Barnes and Noble, Half Price books." Libraries also offer reading programs, competitions, and story times.
- "Go to a fast food restaurant ... for an Ice Cream or French Fries or other dollar menu treats.

- Make your own playdoh.

- Factory tours - You can find local factory tours in your area by visiting Factory Tours USA.

- Lowe's offers monthly free grow and build workshops for kids.  Click here for more information.

- Target FREE Museum Days.  Click here for Museums near you.

- Free Tours of local places like your Radio station, TV stations,  Newspaper or Fire station.

- Free Vacation Bible Schools.  Call your local church for dates and times.

- Kids Bowl Free pay for shoes only - Sign up at Kids Bowl Free 

- Kids Eat FREE - Find local restaurants where your kids can eat free when you purchase an adult meal. Theses two websites are a great resource: My Kids Eat Free and Kids Meal Deals."

- Memberships are a bit costly at first, but provide free trips for a year. Check out memberships at the zoo, historical societies, science museums, children's museums and more. Most of these memberships have reciprocal members across the country. So you can use these memberships to get into the zoo near where you vacation, for example. 

More on fun in the summertime:

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Outdoor Decathlon

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Treasure Hunt Dinner

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: A Random Act of Kindness


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Doubling Your Time - Work While You Exercise

We know that stand-up meetings are more efficient and shorter than sit-down meetings. But how about meetings on treadmills? 

This picture from the New York Times shows managers at Salo, a financial staffing firm in Minneapolis, conducting business on treadmills in a conference room. 

According to Wikipedia, Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, came up with the idea of a treadmill desk as an alternative to sitting while doing computer work. Mayo Clinic studies found that if computer users worked while walking on the treadmill at less than 2 miles per hour, they could burn 100-130 calories an hour. A great alternative to sedentary computer work!  

You might see if your workplace would incorporate such an innovative, efficient, and healthy idea.

If that's not a possibility, you can still work and exercise at the same time, especially if you work from home. By walking slowly (1-2 mph), you are able to type on your computer, watch videos for work, read materials or email, and do other tasks. 

You can buy treadmills already equipped with a desk for up to $4500. The one below is around $1300. 

If you already have exercise equipment, you can attach this $39 device to many machines to hold your laptop or iPad.

Or, if you're a do-it-yourselfer and your treadmill has side bars that are parallel to the ground, you can simply place a board over the bars as a work space.

Doubling your time by exercising while you work could cut out that trip to the gym! 

More on exercise and efficiency:

The Best Time of Day to Do Your Cardio Workout

9 Ways to Enhance Your Health by Being Organized

10 Ways to Double Your Time


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Quick, Easy Summertime Meal - Steak Salad

I love quick and easy meals, as you know. And I especially love cooking once and using it twice. Here's a meal I came up with, adapted from a similar recipe. 

We had steak on a previous night with just a little left over. So I added blue cheese and walnuts to ramp up the protein a bit. I was very proud of myself for turning a little bit of leftover steak into a meal! Here's my recipe:

Steak Salad

Salad greens (I used spinach and romaine)
Leftover grilled sirloin steak, sliced very thinly
Blue cheese 
Dried cranberries
Snow peas, sliced in thirds
Zucchini, sliced very thinly
Green onion, sliced

Layer each plate with quantities to your liking. Serve with your favorite salad dressing. We used a sweet vinaigrette. 

More quick, easy meals:

Organizing a Quick Dinner - Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken

Dinner in 10 - Herbed Tilapia

My Husband's Quick and Easy Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken

Quick and Tasty Chicken with Artichokes, and Mushrooms


Monday, May 21, 2012

Planning an Intentional Summer for Your Child

I'm recycling a blog post I did when we had teenage foster children. One thing I'd ad to the following post: don't over-schedule your child! Make sure he/she has time for creative and inventive play and just hanging out.

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

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

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

Some ideas for each category:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other summertime ideas:

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: A Crazy Dinner

101 Things to Do this Summer

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Indoor Decathlon

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Organizing a Portable Craft Station

One of my clients has a bunch of beads which she and her daughter like to use to make jewelry. Since they don't have a dedicated craft room, we decided to go portable. Here's what we came up with:

I found this set of drawers at Staples for about $30, wheels included (which they chose not to use). We sorted like items into each drawer: beads, hardware (clasps, earring stems, etc.), wire and other necklace materials, tools, gift boxes. 

Current projects reside on top until they're finished.  

We used a similar storage unit for art supplies - grouping brushes, paints, small canvases, etc. in the various drawers.

If you don't have a lot of room to store your crafts, go portable!

More on craft storage:

Storage Ideas for Crafts and Art Supplies
Craft Storage
Organizing Art or Craft Space  


Monday, May 14, 2012

Another Way to Streamline Your Morning Routine

Yesterday I was swapping out my summer and winter clothes, even through we got a couple of inches of snow last week! I'll still keep my winter clothes handy in my closet, but less accessible than summer and spring clothing. 

This week is very busy as I have a coaching client I meet with each day, I'm a part-time executive assistant for the president of a local corporation and I have a speaking engagement tonight.

Your week is probably packed, too, so you might want to try what I did yesterday. I went through my clothes and chose my outfits for the entire week. As I had some of my summer clothes folded, I needed to toss some wrinkly ones in the drier and iron some others. 

You may want to do the same thing for your children, if applicable - not toss them in the drier, but help them choose outfits for the week. If they are old enough, they can do it for themselves. 

While you are at it, choose accessories and shoes for each outfit. Your kids can do the same - even place underwear and socks with each outfit. 

What a nice way to start the week and make mornings go more smoothly!

More on smooth morning routines: 

Increasing Efficiency

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

Creating Order for the Disorganized Child


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Multi-Cord Organizers

Ever wonder which cord goes with which electronic device? Sometimes we need to unplug one device and don't want to unplug any others. I've discovered multi-cord organizers at Crate and Barrel. 

Simply fold the organizers over the cord and label each one with a fine-tip permanent marker. Easy, huh?

More on cord organizing:
My Power Cord Concealers Board on Pinterest

Containing the Power Cord Labyrinth

Wireless Chargers Coming to Cars - Will Cut the Clutter

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Five Most Popular Ways Businesses Organize Themselves

How do others organize themselves? Jill Salzman polled over 500 business owners to find out what they use. Whether or not you're a business owner, you might find the following information helpful from her guest blog on NBC Chicago. 

"What tools are you using to organize, share and manage your business?

It's an entrepreneur's constant battle to keep up with the creative flow of ideas, of operations, of schedules and of more ideas. Today's recipe for disaster, the computer plus the Internet, can create serious issues for any entrepreneur. Where do you collect your ideas (and remember to find them)? How should you communicate with employees, partners or interns? And when is that meeting again?
It's no secret that there's no one answer. Everyone has a favorite. But by informally polling 514 business owners, I thought it would be safe to say: what they said.

1. They don't need any more press, but the hands-down favorite of them all was Evernote. Most respondents shared the sentiment of Bum Bul Bee’s Ashbey Riley: 'I have no idea how I managed beforehand. There were little pieces of paper everywhere, lots of yelling when I couldn't find a phone number, [or misplaced] that awesome tip or recipe. It's a lifesaver.' Download it to your phone and desktop and keep all of your notes, photos, transcriptions and audio files in the cloud for instant access anytime, anywhere. Turns out that some entrepreneurs even pay for its premium service, although the majority of what one can do in Evernote is free.

 2. When it comes to scheduling, Google Calendar is king. 'I have my personal appointments, child's activities and work stuff in one place,' says Erin Krex of First Class Care. No one even bothered to mention a competitor who offers an alternative shared calendar in the cloud. SocialKaty.com’s Katy Lynch says 'Google Calendar is my savior! I like having my schedule all in one place, not numerous places. Google Calendar has never failed me.' The interesting part? With all of Google’s apps and docs, not one other Google product was mentioned in my poll. I found it interesting that the only Google product seemed to be worth its salt was what I lovingly refer to as the Goolendar.

3. Dropbox seems to be the fan favorite when it comes to file sharing. 'Dropbox is the best tool I think I'm using right now,' shared graphic designer Jessica Rosengard. 'Not only do I get to sync files between multiple devices, but it allows me to share files easily with clients.' The innovative sharing service seems to keep people coming; each time you share a folder with a non-user and they sign up to receive or open your file, you get more storage space for essentially adding a customer for them. And they make it so easy.

4. For project management tools, Teambox is the favorite newcomer. Many respondents remain loyal to Basecamp, but as far as ease of use and organization, Teambox won out. 'I’m excited to explore the Gmail integration…it seems much more user-friendly than Basecamp,' says Heidi Massey of The Nonprofit Connection.

5. Pen and paper still rules. Many of the heavier hitters (read: famous) entrepreneurs I heard from were quite low-tech in their quest to organize. They dropped iCal, Address Book, Teambox and Evernote and use plain old paper. Perhaps they’re not keen on using the goods we know and love because they have assistants organizing their days for them, but it was refreshing to hear from so many of them that paper calendars and paper notebooks suffice.

Project management runners up were Oprius, WorkETC, and Simpleology."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Interviewed for an Article in More Living Magazine - Boomers and Downsizing

Just finished being interviewed on the subject of Boomers downsizing their homes and schedules. Look for the article by Sandy Smith in a new magazine for Boomers, More Living Magazine, which is launching in September. Sandy's article on downsizing will be in the November issue. The above link takes you to their Facebook page.

Three Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence

3 Tips to Staying Motivated While Downsizing or Decluttering

You Can't Downsize Memories

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Clever Product that Expands Your Medicine Cabinet Storage!

I was recently introduced to StickOnPods, adhesive containers that expand your medicine cabinet storage.

Just like inside-the-door spice racks, you'll have to be careful with the placement of the pods so they don't interfere with the shelves. But a nice idea, don't you think? They don't leave a residue and they're reasonable priced. 

More on bathroom storage:

Finding More Bathroom Storage without Expanding Your Bathroom

Magnetic Paint - An Innovative Space Saver!

Clever Bathroom Organizing Ideas from Martha Stewart