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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Get Organized Month - Update Your Christmas Card List

Now that you have probably received all your Christmas cards, it's a great time to update your Christmas card list. Whether you use an address book, Outlook, Yahoo, your phone, an online mailing list, or a written list, let's get started!

Compare the address of your Christmas cards with the address you have on your list. You may want to add in any personal info you want to remember about your friends and family. For those addresses that disagree with your list, change the pertinent information.

If you received Christmas cards from people not on your list, decide if you want to add them to your list.

If you are revamping your list this year, like we are, it's easier to do it with another person. One person to read the address and the other to write or type. It also serves as a way to insure accuracy if the person writing or typing repeats it back to the first person.

More on Get Organized Month:
Get Organized Month 2009 - Organizing Your Foods to Keep Fresh
Get Organized Month 2008 - Declutter Under Your Sink

Celebrate National  Get Organized Month - Half-Priced 1-2-3 ... Get Organized Print Books

Monday, January 28, 2013

Starting the New Year with Good Sleep Patterns - How Sleep Helps Keep Your Brain Organized

Now that the holidays are over, it feels good to get some order in life again, doesn't it? Sleep somehow gets neglected. It's easy to stay up late when we have special family activities, when we have people visiting, and doing holiday preparations.
Unfortunately, our bodies keep track of the sleep we've missed and we need to make up for it. Sleep and the Brain is an article that describes the importance of scheduling enough sleep. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

"Sleep is actually a very important function of and for the brain. We need to generate enough sleep to feel rested, to have energy, to assist with mood, and to even help us think more clearly.

Sleep is divided into four stages. Deep sleep or stage IV sleep is critical to brain function. With advanced age we generate less deep IV sleep and it is probably not a coincidence that our cognitive abilities change as well.

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is the part of sleep when we dream and we are actually paralyzed. REM occupies about 25% of our sleep and is critical for encoding information to a deeper level. Our brain processes millions of bits of information daily and during REM it is thought the brain selects those bits of information that are most critical.

Debate on how much sleep is necessary continues, but it is probably safe to say that young children need at least 8 hours of sleep a day while adults should get more than 6. Certainly, these numbers are not fixed and there are cases where some do fine with only a few hours while others do not. The bottom line is that our brains need sleep, deep sleep, and REM to function efficiently."

More on sleep:
Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep
Insuring Peak Performance: Sleep 101
Sleep is Non-negotiable!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Organizing Dinner in 2013

After the holidays, it feels good to put some structure back into your life, doesn't it? An aspect of that is putting a quick, tasty, balanced meal on the table every night. I feel strongly that providing a good meal for my family is part of creating an atmosphere for their success.

These days, it is even more motivating to plan dinner with food becoming more expensive. I recently read an article on ways to fight rising food costs, which suggested:

- eat at home
- plan your menus before shopping
- shop infrequently
- don't buy prepared food.

With a little planning, you can prepare delicious and nutritious meals at home for a fraction of the cost of eating out. When you consider four combo meals at a fast food restaurant comes out to at least $20, you could buy steak or fish, real vegetables and fruit for less than that for a family of four. It takes a few more minutes, but you don't feel guilty afterwards!

If you are at a loss as to what to plan for dinner or if you're bored with what you've been cooking, I have an answer for you: Hassle Free Dinners. I spent a couple of years creating this information, with a year's worth of seven dinner menus per week. Each weekly menu contains color-coded instructions for each day of the week and a weekly shopping list.

Recipes show amounts for two, four, and six servings so you don't have to do the math. Nutritional information and cost per serving is listed for most recipes. And no entree is repeated during the entire year.

Each week includes 1-2 chicken, 1-2 beef, 1-2 pork, and 1-2 fish recipes, with one meatless meal. Each meal includes protein, carbs, and something red and something green - fruit and/or veggies. Menus are listed according to months, and use seasonal produce for that time of year. Don't worry - no liver or Brussel sprouts!

This system allows you to shop once a week, saving bunches of time and money. I read the other day about a woman who plans her meals on the way home from work, keeps recipes in her car, and stops at the store each night on the way home. Even if she spends only 20 minutes each time she shops, that's 100 minutes for five days. I can usually do my weekly shopping in an hour or less when I have a plan.

Hassle Free Dinners is for people who don't mind cooking, but don't like to plan or are out of ideas. It's a marriage of dinnertime and professional organization, streamlining the time you need to spend in the kitchen in order to put a decent meal on the table.

More on planning dinner:
Hassle Free Dinners
Three Steps to Planning Dinner
Piggy-Back Dinners

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Unique Idea for Storing Folded Clothes

Another idea from Redbook: "For tidy drawers, try arranging folded piles of clothes horizontally, filling each drawer from front to back. This way you can see everything, including that favorite college T-shirt you thought you lost five years ago." 

Isn't this clever? I love it! 

It would work well for storing fabrics, too!

More on drawer storage:  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Managing Paper, Part 2

This is the second part of my series on Managing Paper. Part 1 addressed dealing with mail, how to reduce unwanted mail, and what documents to keep. Today we'll talk about all those school papers/artwork and filing.

Children’s Artwork and School Papers

School papers and artwork can become overwhelming very quickly! The only way to survive is to stay on top of it.

First, choose a receptacle for such papers. Consider the amount of storage space you possess, as you will probably have one of these containers for each year of school. I like plastic boxes, as they protect against damage.

With your child, clean out her backpack at the end of the week. Encourage her to choose only one item a week to keep. Label the back with the date and description, and place in the container.

At the end of the month look back over the previously stored papers to see if some of the sentimentality has decreased for the earlier keepers. Repeat every month.

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.

Artwork that doesn’t make it into the keeper file can be sent to grandma, our troops, or nursing homes.

For family night one night, take out the keepers for the last few years and reminisce.

Ideas for storing artwork:

- For large three-dimensional projects take a picture rather than storing the entire project.

- Create a gallery by hanging a cord across a wall in your child's room. Using clothespins or colorful clips, hang the latest masterpieces. Swap out as necessary.

- Picture frame storage - showcase one picture in a frame with others stored behind the latest picture. There are picture frames designed especially for this type of storage.

- Permanently frame a picture - maybe one a year.

- The typical fridge or bulletin board gallery,

- Turn your child's artwork into place mats by laminating them.

- Use your child's artwork as wrapping paper.

- Scan your child's artwork, reduce if necessary, and print onto cardstock, creating greeting cards.

- Create a collage under a glass-covered coffee table.

- Create a calendar, using a different masterpiece for each month.

- Create a collage or digital collage.

- Have several art pieces bound in a book.

- Create a scrapbook or digital scrapbook.

- Store in binders.

- Create a photo album with pictures of your child holding various pieces of artwork.

- Turn the art into charm bracelets or Christmas ornaments.

- Create a digital photoframe slideshow.

- scan and load onto disk or memory stick.

- Have your child's art displayed on a t-shirt.
The following websites can be used for the above creations: Big Art Blessing, Walgreens, Snapfish, Shutterfly, York Photo, Dynamic Frame.                                                Filing
 Filing is one of my least favorite things to do! Does anyone like filing ... really? If we have to do it, here are a few tips to make it a little painful:
- Setting up and maintaining a simple, effective filing system saves an untold amount of time because you know exactly where to find items you need.

- If you are a visual person, consider using different colors of file folders for different categories. For example, use green file folders for your financial files.

- Prevent eye strain by using the same file tab for one category. For example, use the left tab on your green files for your financial files. Use the right tab on your green files for gardening ideas.

- Don't over-categorize or get too detailed - it's too much to remember. If you must have large quantities of files, make a one-page list of your files and where they are.

- Keep frequently used files within arm's length of your desk chair. Store less-used files farther away. If you must archive files for a certain number of years, consider putting them in storage.

- If reports, statements, etc. can easily be found online, don't keep paper copies.

- File ongoing projects in a hanging file. At the end of the day, deposit work into that file, clearing your desk. Make a list of projects and work to be done the next day, so they are not forgotten or overlooked.

- Keep a "pending" file for those items without closure.

- Set aside specified time to file so it doesn't get out of hand. Multi-task by filing when you are on hold or when having a casual conversation or when your brain needs a mental break.

- In order to free up space in your file cabinets, go through your files and move inactive but necessary files into storage boxes. Number or label each box and keep a list of what is in each box so you can locate it, if needed. Toss files that do not need to be kept.

Remember, 80% of what we file we never look at again. So consider carefully whether you will need to see that paper again before you file it. Reducing the amount you file reduces your work and the amount of storage you need!

More on filing:
A Very Simple Filing System for Paper and Email
The "Do It Now" Mindset  
Five Ways to Prevent Procrastination from  Zapping Your Energy and Productivity

Monday, January 21, 2013

Managing Paper, Part 1

I gave a seminar over the weekend on Decluttering and Managing Paper, and promised I'd write a blog post on managing paper for those who weren't able to attend. The decluttering part of the seminar can be found in my Three Steps to Decluttering book (see below). Since there is quite a bit of material, I'll break it up into two blog posts.

Paper multiplies faster than rabbits, doesn't it? If we're not intentional about how we manage paper, it can quickly inundate our homes. So let's look at some ways to control our paper clutter:


Mail is just so much clutter! While you are walking back from the mailbox, sort your mail: 

 - Separate out the junk mail and immediately toss it into a recycling box. I keep a paper recycling container in my garage so the junk mail doesn't even need to enter my house. 
 - Shred what needs to be shredded. 
- Place your bills in the place where you keep unpaid bills. 
- Place other mail that needs attention in your area for action items. 
- And file or place in a "To Be Filed" container those pieces that must be filed. 

Deal with mail the day you receive it so it doesn't develop into a large stack. It takes a few minutes, but it's so less daunting than a big pile of mail. Have you heard the expression "touch it only once?" If you touch each paper that comes into your house or office only once, you are eliminating deferred decisions, lost bills, and clutter.

An ideal situation would be to have your shredder and recycling containers near where you put your bills and action items, and your file cabinet. I've only had this ideal situation once in recent years, so do the best you can with what you have. The key: don't let your mail pile up!

Reduce the Paper Coming and/or Staying in your Home or Office

If we can prevent paper from coming into our homes and offices, we don't have to deal with it! Here are a few suggestions for eliminating the avalanche: 

Whenever possible, do your bill-paying and banking online, reducing time and paper clutter. Once you have paid your bills, it is not necessary to keep those bills if they are not needed for taxes. Make sure you have a list of your account numbers in case you have issues. For example, if your electricity goes out, you'll need to know your account number when you call to report the outage. 

When you receive a new catalog or magazine, recycle or give away the old one. If you haven't read the old one by now, you probably won't. 

Unsubscribe to magazines or newspapers you don’t have time to read. 

If there is an article you want to keep, tear it out and slip it into a page protector in a binder rather than keep an entire magazine. 

Ask to be removed from mailing lists, and don't sign up for contests to win a new car or something similar. When you sign up for a contest, you are placing yourself on a mailing list that will be sold. 

If you are inundated with junk mail, the following websites can help reduce your unwanted mail:  

Catalog Choice allows you to choose the catalogs you want and don't want to receive.  

Yellow Pages Goes Green allows you to opt out of receiving phone books at your door.  

Opt Out Prescreen allows you to opt out of receiving credit card and insurance offers. 

 Lifelock not only prevents you from receiving unwanted offers and mail, but notifies you if someone is trying to steal your identify. There is a fee for this service. 

What Documents to Keep

Once you have reconciled your ATM, debit and credit card receipts, you don't need to keep them. Shred them. 

Car or real estate receipts - keep records of improvements and repairs for seven years after it's sold. 

Monthly credit card, banking statements, paid bills - save anything that is tax-deductible for seven years. 

 IRS Documents - retain annual returns forever. Discard supporting papers after seven years. 

Pay stubs - shred when you have reconciled them with your W-2 (once a year). 

I hope you are feeling leaner already! It's a big job to deal with paper as it comes into our homes and offices. But it's even bigger job if we let it pile up! 

More on the decluttering part of my seminar:
Three Steps to Decluttering (print and ebook) - the print book is half-price during January
Three Steps to Decluttering (Kindle)
Declutter Any Room in Three Weeks

Friday, January 18, 2013

Redbook: Clever Storage for Plastic Wrap, Foil, and Reclosable Bags

I came across several ingenious organizing ideas from Redbook. Here's one: a clever, inexpensive way to save drawer space by storing wraps in magazine holders. 

More kitchen storage ideas: 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Recovering from the Holidays - Give Yourself Some Grace

Did you know that this week is supposed to be the most depressing week of the year? Not surprising with short days and more darkness, holiday decorations to put away, family and friends have gone home, we've had time to abandon our New Year's resolutions already, and it's cold for many of us!

But instead of getting depressed, give yourself some grace.

Our daughter left yesterday for her work in Kazakhstan, and we won't see her for another year or two. We were so happy to have the unexpected pleasure of having her here over the holidays. I wanted to savor the time she was here, and didn't want to fill it with chores like taking down the decorations.

I also wanted to wait to send out a New Year's letter (instead of a Christmas letter) because she didn't arrive until Christmas Eve and I wanted to include a family picture. I've written the letter, but didn't want to take up our valuable time sending it out. Same thing with thank you notes.

But I made my choices with my priorities in mind. And I'm sure you did, too! So if you have a stockpile of things to do, don't despair! Just give yourself some grace to get them done!

Parcel them out and put them on your calendar. If your chores are overwhelming, tackle them in 15-minute spurts. You can do anything for 15 minutes! Just getting started creates momentum!

We can also be intentional about driving out the winter blahs. Some suggestions:                        
- do something you've never done before
- go somewhere you've not been before, even if it's just a road you've never driven down
- get some exercise
- get some sun
- get lost in a good book
- listen to your favorite music
- visit or call a good friend
- volunteer.

What do you do to combat the winter blahs?

More on priorities and perspective:
Prioritizing According the Energy Level
Prioritizing Your Day
Priorities and Perspective from a Ninety-Year Old

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Decluttering Your Mobile Phone is a Good Way to Start the New Year

I ran across this article by Virginia Heffernan and thought it was a great January organizing task. See what you think.

"The New Year is not the time to get a new app. Your iPhone is bloated; it can barely load the apps you already have. It is groaning under the weight of all those 'productivity' gimcracks you stuffed onto it in 2012. Nothing can update. The battery is a sieve. The phone is in a stupor.You don't need apps. You need a svelte, swift and actually smart smartphone--the kind that only an elimination diet can achieve.

First: turn off push notifications and location services. These give the battery migraines by constantly recruiting juice for their chronic silliness. Some child put an app called Dragon Story on my phone. Now I get pressing bulletins telling me my loyal subjects miss me and need my attention. A dram of actual guilt in me is activated by this appeal to my sense of lordly responsibility. But more than that the battery has had to bestir itself to serve me this non-news. No wonder I'm down to 85 percent before the sun's up.

Location services work the same way. When that tracker's on, your phone is always trying to find you, like the mother of a teen. It also wants to let your friends find you, lest someone on Snapchat or Twitter lose track of, say, your trip to Chipotle or the eyebrow-waxing salon. Noble as this surveillance minutia may be, and as vital to the preservation of the digital republic, it's OK to go off the grid.

Then it's time to declutter. Interesting that my iPad doesn't recognize the word 'declutter' and prefers 'deck utter.' Is that because our Cupertino overlords don't want their loyal subjects to know about app clutter and how to purge it?

Well, here's the truth: ditch all 'productivity' apps -- the insidious ones with checklists like 'Things' that graciously allow you to, um, make lists of all the things you have to do. These apps slow your iPhone down, drive you batty with their fussy interfaces and keep your from doing anything on your list. All you can do is make lists. And slowly. These apps are to slow-phone people what heaps of organizing files and hangers and boxes are to hoarders. They are part of the problem. The most depressing part.

Now ditch all vanity apps. I oohed over The Elements and Alice when they first appeared. I've downloaded every pretty, praised astronomy app in the history of the firmament, hoping somehow I'd become one those dreamy science girls who knows what the Pleides is. I did not. I never looked at The Elements again either except to show it off. Goodbye, form and reference. I need function and sharing.

Finally with ecommerce apps like the ones from FreshDirect and Amazon, delete them when you're done with them and reinstall them when you need them. The reinstall is quick and free but there's no use having apps you use weekly or less sitting around jamming up the works. Sign in and all your data is right there; you're not going to lose old orders and saved credit cards when you delete the app; that's all in the cloud.

Clear out one corner, one drawer, one room at a time, as they do on 'Hoarders.' and be gentle with yourself. For many there's fear attached to riddance. But you know what to do. Declutter, enjoy your refreshed phone, and then download some new cool game featuring field mice and mangoes and start all over again."

More on Organizing Apps:
Apps to Help Get Rid of Your Clutter
4 Apps to Increase Your Focus, Efficiency, and Organization
Apps to Help You Go Paperless

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2013 - Living Intentionally - A Year of Growth

January is a great time to look ahead to the year and consider potential areas of growth for yourself and for your children, if applicable. I would not suggest considering growth areas for your spouse! :) 

Here are some possibilities: 

 - Are you being held back because of a lack of knowledge in a particular area? 

 - Do you need to get further training in order to be more effective? 

- Is there an area you are eager to pursue, adding to your personal or professional toolbelt? 

- Are there some life skills you need or want to work on - communication, boundaries, time management, parenting, ball room dancing, technical/computer skills or programs, etc.? 

- Is there an area in which you'd like to expand your knowledge? 

As you pinpoint an area or two, consider how you might pursue growth in this area - a class, a mentor, reading a book, coaching, for example. Figure out how you can fit this into your budget and schedule. 

Growth is invigorating and inspiring! My personal opinion: growth is necessary for a positive self image. Don't be tempted to short-change yourself. 

For myself, I'm going to pursue a business idea that got sidelined. I'm going to try another method of getting it off the ground, thanks to the advice of some special people. If we can figure out a way to make it work, I'll march ahead! And I'll let you know about it soon. 

If you have children, think through areas in which they may need to grow. For example, when we had teenage foster daughters in our home, I tried to work on manners. Most of them came from homes where manners were lacking, and I wanted to prepare them for adult life where they might be hindered by poor manners. They didn't appreciate it very much, but I told them they would need to know what to do when they were invited to the White House for dinner! 

 As you consider areas of growth for your children, look at the needs of each individual child. Make sure to select areas that are age appropriate for each child, not expecting them to function at a higher level than they are capable. Try to make it fun, and reward a job well done. 

Being intentional about growing keeps you fresh and vibrant! 

What areas do you want to pursue this year?  

More on personal growth: 
Align Your Life with Your Design  
Three Steps to Time Management for the Working Mom

Monday, January 14, 2013

Clean Off Your Desk Day January 14, 2013

Today is Clean Off Your Desk Day! I'm updating the following post from days gone by.

With a new year beginning, it's a great time to rethink how your desk is functioning. When stacks start accumulating on my desk, it's a clear indication that I need to rethink things. Some good questions to ask:

- Have my responsibilities changed in the last year?

- Are there items that have no home?

- Have some areas increased in importance and others decreased?

- Is my desk area functional and efficient? If not, why?

As I may have shared before, I HATE to file. Consequently, for my few most active areas, I have used attractive open boxes on shelves. I can just drop papers into the boxes and be done! However, I find that I'm not doing this now because I have to stand up and open the cupboard door each time I must file something.

As stupid as this sounds, if you can't do it while sitting at your desk chair, you're more likely to put it off or put it in a stack. Sad, but true.

So, as I have evaluated my desk, I'm going to break down and use some hanging files instead of boxes. I also need the storage space. A box takes up a lot more room than a hanging file.

I've looked at what accumulates on my desk and figured out what I can do to keep that from happening.

And I'm going through my file drawers under my desk to remove files that are no longer active. They will go into a file cabinet in another room.

I'm also creating new files for new areas, as necessary.

My goal is to take a few minutes at the end of the day and take care of anything that needs attention - filing, items that require action, shredding, etc.

Since everything will have a home, my desk shouldn't be the repository of stray items.  

How do you like to keep your desk functional, efficient and neat?

More on similar subjects:
ADD and a Clutter-Free Desk - It's Not Impossible
A very simple filing system for email and paper,
Can Clutter Cause You to Lose Your Job?  

If you need more help organizing your office, treat yourself to Three Steps to Organizing Your Office - it's half off during January! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

10 Ways to Avoid Distraction When Organizing

Is one of your goals for 2013 to get more organized? Kristin MacRae has some great insights on staying focused on your organizing task:


"Organizing can be overwhelming if you get distracted, and that's very easy to do. Here are 10 tips for keeping distractions at bay.

How many times have you started an organizing project and 3 hours later you found you have made no progress and are in a bigger mess than when you started? Sound like something you have done before? It's all about focusing on the task at hand. Check out these 10 tips to avoid distractions: 

1. Mark your organizing project on your calendar just as you would schedule an appointment. 

2. Try to disconnect yourself from social media. 

3. Try to limit any other distractions, i.e, phone calls, pets, kids, spouse, tv, etc. 

4. Focus. Once you start organizing it is easy to veer off and do other things. 

5. Instead of picking up an item and moving it to another area of the house, keep piles. When you are finished move the piles to other areas. 

6. Try to stay in the area you are working. 

7. Don't spend too much time deciding whether to keep something. If you can't decide, put it aside and move on. Save it until the end. 

8. If you are organizing paper, try not to read full articles or get started in reading magazines. Rip out articles that are important to you and move on. 

9. It's ok to reminisce with sentimental items, but don't let it zap your time. Decide whether to keep or toss and then move on. 

10. Try to limit your project to 3 hours. If it will take you more than 3 hours, schedule a lunch break in between. 

If you organize more than 3 hour straight, you are setting yourself up for burnout and stress. 

Without distractions, your project will take you half the time. You will have finished with more energy. You will be motivated and energized to continue and move forward with the rest of the home or office. Organize! Energize!"   

More on focused organizing:
Teaching Kids How to Sort and Declutter
Got Cabin Fever? Organize Something!
Declutter Any Room in Three Weeks 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Dozen Tips for Staying Clutter Free in 2013

One of the top new year's resolutions is to reduce clutter! Here are a few hints I came up with for staying clutter-free in 2013:  

1. Deal with your mail as you bring it in. Sort your mail over a paper recycling container (a box or paper bag will do), a trash can, a shredder, and near the place where you keep bills and mail that must be acted upon. That way, you get rid of most of your mail and put the essentials where they belong. Instant decluttering instead of a stockpile of mail! 

2. Reduce the mail coming into your house.
Lifelock gets rid of credit card offers and other solicitations while protecting your identity. There is a fee for this service. 

Catalog choice allows you to opt out of the catalogs of your choice and other solicitations. This is a free service.  

Yellow Pages Goes Green allows you to opt out of both white page and yellow page phone books that are left at your door. Unsubscribe to newspapers and magazines you do not have time to read.  

3. Determine the quantity of art work and school papers you will keep for each child. At the end of each week, cull through their papers and together decide which ones are keepers. Do the same at the end of the month, further reducing the stockpile. You are training your child to be discerning and not to hold on to everything. Send some to relatives or military personnel as a nice way to purge.

4. Have a giveaway box in your home. When you discover outgrown or unused articles, toss them in the box. When it's full, take the box to your favorite charity.

5. Keep a container in your car to hold returnable items - library books, borrowed items, purchases that need to be returned, etc. Even though dry cleaning is not a returnable item, it could be kept in the box, too. You're more likely to return those items while you're out.
6. Change clothes near the laundry hamper. Better yet, have five laundry hampers - whites, lights, darks, towels, delicates. When one basket is filled, wash what's in it - no sorting necessary!  

7. Hang or fold clothes as they come out of the dryer. Clothes are unwrinkled and you don't end up with stacks of laundry to fold. I consider laundry clutter - it's constant and can become overwhelming if not taken care of regularly.  

8. Clean up as dishes are used. It takes little effort to put dishes in the dishwasher rather than stack in the sink. Train other family members to do the same - you are not their maid! Divvy up clean-up chores after dinner - floor, counters, putting food away, dishes. Even toddlers can help!

9. Before bedtime, have everyone clean up what they've messed up or pick up what belongs to them. Tomorrow will start on a pleasant, uncluttered note!

10. Have a place for bookbags, briefcases, purses, keys, coats. Train everyone to store these items in the proper location - hooks, a closet, shelves, cubbies - whatever works for you to eliminate the after-school-after-work explosion!

11. Have a container where you place things that people have left around. When we had four teenage foster daughters living in our home, I had a yellow Rubbermaid container in the bottom of our coat closet. 

Our foster daughters were deterred from leaving their stuff around for fear that their precious possessions would be put in the "yellow bucket" with someone's stinky socks! 

I have heard of others who charge the owner a fee to take something out of the container, or require the item to stay in the container for a certain length of time before it was retrievable.  

12. If you find items lying around that do not have homes, create a home for them, so they are not just moved from place to place. 

With a little effort, clutter does not need to reign in your home in 2013!   

More on decluttering:
Clutter and the Brain
Declutter Any Room in 3 Weeks
Quick Decluttering Tips

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013: Align Your Life with Your Design

January is a wonderful time to take stock, evaluate, and realign yourself. Do your activities reflect your passions and priorities? Do your work and leisure hours capitalize on your gifts? Are you being intentional about the legacy you want to leave your children and/or future generations? 

Or are you bouncing through life like a pinball – rebounding off other people’s goals and ambitions, unclear about your own missions in life? 

Aligning your life is something you can do once every few years, once a year, or several times a year – depending upon how often your life has significant change or needs significant change. 

 I like to get away to a place where I won’t be disturbed. Sometimes I have gone to a friend’s cabin, or to a hotel, or just isolated myself at home. Sometimes I go alone and other times my husband and I go together. We’ll work separately, but then come together to work on those things we are committed to jointly. 

 If getting away or even carving out a chunk of time isn't a possibility, set aside a few minutes each day. However you do it, how often you do it – the important things is to do it! We don’t want to echo Yogi Berra, “We’re lost, but we’re making great time!” 

During these “rethinking times” I like to look at my passions, my priorities, my gifts and the legacy I want to leave my children and generations to come. I then compare my activities to see if they reflect these things that are most significant in my life. 

I make long-term and short-term goals in various areas of my life and schedule them into my calendar. 

 It is an appropriate time to eliminate activities I am no longer passionate about or that don’t rank high enough on my priority list. It’s also a reality check if I discover I’m expecting myself to cram 30 hours into a 24-hour day! 

The result? I’m intentionally spending my time doing those things that are most significant to me. I’m not at the mercy of others’ agendas. And I’m living in reality. I only have so much time each day. I want to be intentional about the way I spend it! 

An important key to maintaining your priorities: build in time each week to evaluate your schedule, tweak it if necessary, and plan for next week. I like to create a master weekly plan that I can refer to each week when planning my week so I don’t inadvertently leave something out. 

 Life can be busy and hectic, but you are able to experience peace because you are living out your priorities and leaving an intentional legacy! 

 What legacy do you want to leave? 

Make 2013 an intentional year by aligning your life with your design (your unique passions, priorities, gifts, and legacy)!   

More on this subject:  

Each time management book in the 1-2-3...Get Organized series guides you through a step-by-step process of determining your passions, priorities, gifts, and legacy and aligning your schedule and activities accordingly. Some are half-price this month! 

If the thought of doing this alone is overwhelming, join me for some coaching.  

Need it broken down into bite-sized chunks? Maybe Rethinking Your Life in 3 Weeks is for you.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Clearing Out Emotional and Physical Clutter

At a time when we're rethinking life, I thought this article by Michelle Aycock would be very helpful and inspiring. Hope you find it useful.

"Most of us feel a need to organize our lives and begin making goals that we would like to accomplish in the new year. In attempting to organize your life, you may find it difficult to let go of things that are no longer useful. I have put together a list of four things that you do not need in your life. It is important to take the time to clear out negative thinking patterns that may be draining your emotional energy or those things in your life that you no longer need. Clearing out not only the physical stuff, but also the emotional junk can leave you feeling refreshed and motivated to reach your goals so that you may begin to enjoy your life.

Here are some things to consider eliminating from your life:

• Negative and emotionally exhausting relationships. Some relationships are emotionally draining, but some are emotionally uplifting. If you are putting a lot of emotional energy into a relationship but still continue to feel emotionally exhausted, you then must ask yourself, “Is this relationship mutually satisfying? Do we support and encourage each other?” If not, then it may be time to move on. Not only ask these questions regarding your intimate relationships, but also friend and family relationships.

• “Someday” thinking. One of the biggest road blocks to having the life you want is being stuck in “someday” thinking. Some day is not a day on your calendar and without some planning it never arrives. Ask yourself, “Why am I putting my life on hold?” Make a list of all the things that you have been wanting to do and goals you would like to achieve. Which is the one that you will most regret not having accomplished in your life? Go down your list one by one and take steps to work toward each and every goal.

• Old ideas and attitudes. Albert Einstein once said, “You can’t solve a problem with the same mind set that created it.” Shifting your perceptions is often the key to new opportunities. You are in charge of your own life. It is not your current circumstances that are holding you back, it is the way you are thinking about them. If you sometimes say, “That’s just the way it is,” instead say, “How can I think about this differently?” Just beginning to think about things differently can open up possibilities you hadn’t imagined.

• Piles of stuff laying around. Take inventory of items that simply take up space or collect dust such as clothes you don’t wear, old magazines or old bills that need to be filed. Ask yourself, “Is this something that I truly love or is currently functional in my life? If your answer is no, consider getting rid of it by donating or recycling it. Clutter can not only block us physically but also emotionally.

Take the time to evaluate how each of these four things may be interfering with you enjoying your life. Once you determine what you would like to change in your life, then begin by taking action by actively working to reach those goals. Hopefully the new year will bring more peace and enjoyment to your life."

More on rethinking life:

Rethinking Your Life in 3 Weeks
Spring Cleaning Your Relationships
10 Types of Emotional Clutter