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, July 31, 2013

Organizing Office To Dos for the Visual Person

Most time management experts say that you should clear your desk every night.

However, if you are a visual person, out of sight is usually out of mind, isn't it? So clearing your desk at the end of the day may be a disaster UNLESS you make a list of your top priorities for the next day.

Another option is to clear your desk of everything other than your top priorities for the next day. Arrange those top priorities in order of importance on your desk so you're ready to go the next morning. You won't even need to think! It's all ready for you.

What a nice way to start the day!

More on organizing for the visual person: 

Organizing for the Visual Person - Calendars
Office Organizing for the Visual Person – Magazine File Boxes
Three Steps to Organizing Your Office

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Getting Organized for School - Discover Your Child's Learning Style


I try to repeat this blog post every year because I think it's so important! It's critical that we are students of our children so we can create an atmosphere where they can succeed!

One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is understanding her learning style. Discovering my daughters' learning styles greatly increased my ability to help my children learn - knowing whether they were auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners. It kept me from forcing my learning style on them, and helped me suggest ways to study and learn.
Cynthia Tobias has written several books on learning styles and learning in general. I'll recommend two that I found very enlightening: The Way They Learn and Every Child Can Succeed: Making the Most of Your Child's Learning Style. She gives numerous ideas for implementing each type of learning style.

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

You still have time before school starts to read one or both of these books. What a great tool to stash in your parenting tool belt!

More on getting organized for school:
Getting Organized for School - Ideas for Creating a Central Hub
5 Tips for Organized Back-to-School Shopping
Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room


Monday, July 29, 2013

Space Savers for Small Spaces

I had a wonderful birthday yesterday - thanks for all the birthday wishes!

I uncovered some great space saving ideas for those with small spaces, courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens. But you don't need to have small spaces to enjoy these clever suggestions!

"Secret Stash: Place furniture in the corners of rooms at an angle and use the space behind to stash baskets of extra linens, toys, crafts supplies, or whatever else you need to store.

Save Space: When space is at a premium, invest in a large, one-stop-shop bookcase that will serve multiple storage needs. Place it in a central location in your apartment unit and store books and dishes on the upper shelves; place bins, baskets, or drawers on the lower shelves to house linens, flatware, office supplies, and any extra things that don't have a place to live.

Faux Built-In: Some vintage apartment buildings come with gorgeous built-ins, ideal for storing modern necessities. If your apartment is lacking, fake the look by flanking a doorway with identical bookcases that reach almost to the ceiling and install moldings around the tops of the shelves. As a style bonus, paint the bookcase before installation, or line the backs with pretty paper.

Apartment Assets: Turn awkward apartment features in your favor. Tap odd corners or narrow closets for storage or a cozy seating area for one. In this living room, two narrow nooks provide storage for office and crafts supplies, and curtains can be drawn to conceal the spaces."

More on space saving ideas:
DIY Under-the-Bed Storage
Entry Closet Door Organizer
Organize Toys Using a Wire Garden Planter

Friday, July 26, 2013

Organizing Your Dorm Room


If you or someone you know is heading off to a college dorm this fall, space is probably on your mind.

Lately I’ve been hearing about spacious and luxurious dorm rooms - how nice if you're lucky enough to have one! But this is the exception rather than the rule. Dorm rooms are notoriously small and cramped. So it is essential that you use your space extremely well in order to function at your peak in college.

If you have the chance after you have gotten your room assignment, measure your room, noting where built-ins, plugs, sinks, windows, doors (and which way they open) and other non-movable items are located. There's usually not much room for additional items, but your measurements allow you to purchase additional storage, for example, with accuracy.

One of the keys in organizing a dorm room is using the vertical space. Many schools have a loft option for the beds, which allows you to utilize the space below the bed efficiently. Adding additional storage options in this area or purchasing tall storage units will maximize your vertical space. Adhesive hooks also add storage for hats, keys, and other such items without using premium storage real estate.

Utilize hanging storage units in your closet, on the back of the door, etc. Don't forget those spaces at the bottom of your closet and under your bed (if you don't choose the loft option) for extra storage containers, drawers or cubbies. All these cute storage options multiply your storage capacity while using normally non-usable space.

Be realistic about the space you have! Only bring to school that which can fit in your dorm room. A sure-fire way to guarantee a mess is not having a home for everything. If you will be traveling back home before winter sets in, only bring summer and fall clothing with a few transitional items. Swap out seasonal items each time you go home.

There's nothing that gets out of hand quicker than paper! Have a place for files and paperwork, whether it's in a desk file drawer, hanging files in a crate, or a rolling file unit. This eliminates lost papers and wasted time looking for them. Don't forget to use your wall space for bulletin boards and message boards - another great way to coral paper, important messages and reminders.

Make use of small containers with lids for school supplies, food, and toiletries. Crates turned on their sides make great stackable shelves. Rolling drawer units are space-conscious, as well.

Designate a few minutes each day or each week to declutter, and your room will be a cozy haven! Declutter while you're on the phone, watching a movie, or talking with your roommate, and you'll be doubling your time.

Speaking of doubling your time, to get the most out of college check out Three Steps to Time Management for the College Student.

More on college:
Three Steps to to Time Management for the College Student
A Unique Way of Storing Folded Clothes
Organizing the College Application Process

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored - Treasure Hunt Dinner

I started doing treasure hunt dinners when my girls were in grade school, the first being a birthday party. For the last course, the girls discovered a limousine waiting to take them to get ice cream! (We had a friend who had just started a limousine service and offered a free ride for our girls!) That was a huge hit and I had a reputation for throwing great parties after that! Most of my treasure hunt dinners were not that exotic, but fun nevertheless.

We also had them with our foster daughters, who were skeptical at first but got into it and even invited their friends for a treasure hunt dinner. I've included the details below and clues for three different treasure hunts we've had.

1. Have four courses and hide them in or out of the house, depending on the weather. I use coolers if needed.

2. Make up three clues for each course. You read the first clue. From then on, whoever finds the clue reads it. He/she must wait until everyone is there and can hear or until everyone has finished that course.

3. When you find a course, you must eat it where you find it - in the garage, in the bathroom - make it fun!

4. When everyone is finished with a course, give out the next clue and continue. At each course, you can ask a question everyone has to answer: Where would you like to visit? What is your favorite color and why? Who is your favorite person in history? What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

This is a fun event to do for birthday parties, when your kids have friends visiting, or just as a family. It's a bit of work, but a fun memory.

See sample clues below.

Dinner #1

Clue #1 – my hand
It’s not in the mixer
It’s not in the toaster
It’s on the first floor
In a drawer with coasters.

Clue #2 – Coaster drawer
It’s not on a cow
It’s not on an ox
But it’s where we get our mail
A big white box.

Clue #3 – Mail box
Go down one floor
Between two chairs
It’s in the ice bucket
But who cares?

Veggies/dip in the basement

Clue #4 – Ice bucket between chairs
Go to the room
Where you take a bath
Open the cupboard
You’re on the right path.

Clue #5 – Basement Bathroom
A bunch of books
In the second floor hall
Look for “Virtue”
Not hard at all.

Clue #6 – Book of Virtues
Go out the back
Open a door
Look in a cooler
Near the floor

Breschetta/bread in the cooler in garage

Clue #7 – In garage
Go up the stairs
To the second floor
Look under the tissues
Not in a drawer

Clue #8 – Under Kleenex in 2nd Floor Bath
Go outside
Spot a table
Look underneath
If you’re able

Clue #9 – Under Picnic Table
The very next clue
Is not in your sock
Not on a rock
But in a crock.

Spaghetti sauce/spaghetti in crockpot

Clue #10 – Under Crockpot
The next clue you find
Look for a lion
Who’s in a movie
Oh! Stop you’re cryin’

Clue #11 - Lion King video
Where’s the next clue?
I’ll never tell
Look somewhere low
Where there’s a bell.

Clue #12 – In the bell cabinet
We still have dessert
For us to eat
Look where we keep
Things that go on our feet

Cookies in entry umbrella holder

Dinner #2

Clue #1 – my hand
It’s not in the mixer
It’s not in the toaster
It’s on the first floor
In a drawer with coasters.

Clue #2 – Coaster drawer
It’s not on a cow
It’s not on an ox
But it’s where we get our mail
A big white box.

Clue #3 – Mail box
Go down one floor
In front of two chairs
It’s on a foot stool
But who cares?

Veggies/dip in the basement

Clue #4 – On foot stool
Go to a place
Where we keep snacks
Run up the stairs
You’re right on track

Clue #5 – Chips Box
A bunch of books
In the second floor hall
Look for “Virtue”
Not hard at all.

Clue #6 – Book of Virtues
Go up one flight
Open a door
The second course
So you can eat more!

Fruit/white bowls/napkins in attic by craft table

Clue #7 – In attic
Go back downstairs
To the second floor
Look under the tissues
Not in a drawer

Clue #8 – Under Kleenex in 2nd floor bath
Go downstairs
Spot a table
Look underneath
If you’re able

Clue #9 – under antique table
The very next clue
Is not in your sock
Not on a rock
But in a crock.

Spaghetti sauce/spaghetti in crockpot

Clue #10 – under crockpot
The next clue you find
Look for a lion
Who’s in a movie
Oh! Stop you’re cryin’

Clue #11 - Lion King video
Where’s the next clue?
I’ll never tell
Look somewhere low
Where there’s a bell.

Clue #12 – In the bell cabinet
We still have dessert
It won’t be long
Look in a drawer
Where mats belong

Cookies in drawer with placemats

Dinner #3

Clue #1 – my hand
It’s not in the mixer
It’s not in the toaster
It’s on the first floor
In a drawer with coasters.

Clue #2 – Coaster drawer
It’s not on a cow
It’s not on an ox
It’s where we keep cars
On top of a box.

Clue #3 – Garage on a box
Go down one floor
Look for matching chairs
It’s on a foot stool
But who cares?

Veggies/dip in the office

Clue #4 – On foot stool
Go to a place
Where we keep snacks
Run up the stairs
You’re right on track

Clue #5 – chips box
A bunch of books
Is where you will find
A babysitter’s clue
Of the best kind

Clue #6 – Babysitter’s book
Go up one flight
And open a door
Where guests spend the night
We’ll eat on the floor

Fruit/white bowls/napkins in guest bedroom

Clue #7 – Guest Room
Go back downstairs
To the bottom floor
Look under the tissues
Not in a drawer

Clue #8 – Under Kleenex in basement powder room
Go around the corner
And spot a table
Look underneath
If you’re able

Clue #9 – under antique table
The very next clue
Is not on your head
It’s not on a sled
But an empty bed

ham/cheese/tuna/crackers in empty bedroom

Clue #10 – Empty room
Where’s the next clue?
I’ll never tell
It’s in a tree
Next to some bells.

Clue #11 - Christmas Tree
The next clue you find
Look for a lion
Who’s in a movie
Oh stop your cryin’

Clue #12 – Second Hand Lion
We still have dessert
It won’t be long
Look in a drawer
Where crafts belong

Cookies in craft dresser

Memories are made during times like these!

More on organizing summer fun:
Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone Is Bored: Water Spoons
Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone Is Bored - Outdoor or Indoor Decathlon
Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone Is Bored - 10 Free (Or Nearly Free) Activities for Kids

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Getting Organized for School - Ideas for Creating a Central Hub

With school starting in less than a month for some, it's time to start thinking of how to create an atmosphere of success for your student and your family as a whole. If things are organized and running smoothly, your child will be more likely to do well. If chaos reigns, it will be very difficult for your child to focus and excel.

One idea is to create a family hub - a central location for several important things:

- You need a location where you keep papers to be signed for school, library books, invitations, and other important information. The point is to have one location into which you deposit vital information so you know where to look when you need it. It can be a drawer, a decorative box, a shelf - whatever works for you. And it needs to be in a central location. When my kids were home, I used a basket in my kitchen.

- If you want to include backpacks, briefcases, and keys in your hub, you could put up pegs or hooks near the door you normally enter. Or use a coat rack or a coat closet to store these vital necessities.

- You may also want to create a section in your hub for each person in your family to house their important stuff.

- And a family calendar would be a vital part of this hub, too.

I searched around the internet and found several different ideas for creating a family hub or parts thereof. Let these be a springboard for creating your own family hub!

Aren't these clever ideas? What does your hub look like? We'd love to see pics!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dehoarder Game - Clean Up a Hoarder Home

A game where you pretend to be a hoarder cleaning up all your stuff? Yes, its true! gives the following review:

"Dehoarder, made by SmilingCat for last year's Ludum Dare competition (the theme was "Minimalism"), is yet another experience again; and there's something about it that we just cannot stop playing.

You (the first-person protagonist) are a hoarder, and you're tasked with clearing up all of the junk in your living space. The game takes place in a single room; when you start, you have three stats: Score, Will and Money.

Like Katamari Damacy, initially, you can only start with small objects, such as empty burger containers. This is because you have no Will — this, however, can be obtained by throwing things away. You'll have to work your way from fast food wrappers to newspapers to the larger items cluttering your room.

At the end of each day, you'll be given a cash reward for cleaning, and sometimes, you'll be able to sell some of your junk. This cash can be used in two ways. A cleaning service will randomly pop by, offering you their services in exchange for your money. We advise you to take them up on it whenever possible — because the other way your cash is used is to your detriment.

At the end of each day, you will compulsively give in to the hoarder addiction and buy more junk. This happens automatically; when it does, your score will go down, too. Since the aim of the game is to get to 10,000 points as fast as possible, you want to have as little money as possible to blow.

The game was made in two days (the main condition for entering Ludum Dare), and it does show — it's not the most graphically sophisticated work we've seen. But there's something compelling about it. The first time we cleared off an entire couch was glorious, only to have it littered with empty soft drink bottles and newspapers again the next morning after a binge.

Dehoarder is playable for free on Kongregate, so give it a whirl and let us know what you think."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Costs of a Disorganized Office, Solutions for Productivity

A great article by Frank Rowan:

"When you organize your work environment, you optimize your surroundings for productivity and increase your ability to work effectively.

Conversely, a disorganized office costs more to run. Supplies, tools and equipment go missing because nothing is organized or put away properly. Those things have to be replaced to complete work tasks, consequently twice the money has been spent in the end. Plus, you spend valuable time searching for missing items, files or paperwork. In fact, some studies have revealed that the average senior business leader spends nearly four weeks each year navigating through messy or cluttered desks, looking for lost information. Does that sound like productive time to you?

If I haven’t convinced you yet, read these benefits of taking the time to create an organized and well-structured office.   
  • Better communication: An organized office environment encourages better internal communication. With a central area for staff communication, it is easier to share sales news, track targets, and plan and monitor projects.
  • A manageable budget: Organized spaces will allow you to quickly see what you have, what you need, and when you might need more. This supports the creation and sustaining of budgets, especially for supplies and equipment.
  • Increased work ethic and morale: When you and your staff take care of your surroundings, it makes the workplace a more pleasant place. Taking care shows that you value your work and the people who work for you.
  • Better time management: Simply put, you spend less time looking for things and more time actually working. An organized office will complement and support your time management strategies.
Begin by clearing your desk of everything but your computer, your day planner, your current files, your inbox and your telephone. Depending on the size of your desk, you may wish to put your current files or inbox on top of a filing cabinet within arm’s reach to maximize desk space. Anything you don’t need on a regular basis should be stored out of arm’s reach. Choose one central system for managing your notes, tasks, to-do lists, brainstorming and scheduling. If you have a day planner, use it. If you prefer electronic systems, use those. Having too many binders, notepads and calendars gets confusing. Make a habit of tidying your desk at the beginning and end of each day.

Keep loose papers pinned to your to-do list, or have clear and organized folders. Use drawer organizers to keep your stationery drawer clean and easily accessible. Organize your loose paper, inbox and action items in a file sorter or stack of paper trays. Use categories like to-do, to review, waiting response, and on-hold and to file. Put your phone on the left if you’re right handed, and on the right if you’re left handed, so you have the appropriate hand free to take notes when you’re on a call. Keep a notepad or sticky notes by the phone to record messages and conversation notes. Personal items can be distracting when they’re in your primary line of vision, and encourage daydreaming. Photos and memorabilia have a place in your office, but relocate any items that are in direct sight.

Assess common areas. For example, put doors on shelving so cluttered spaces are not visible. Label boxes, containers, and shelves so everyone knows what goes where. Create a consistent filing system. Provide enough shelving and filing cabinets to store files in a systemized fashion. Ensure your system keeps files out of the way and out of sight when not in use, but maintains easy accessibility. Return or sell unused stock and overflow office supplies, like stationery. Locate other unused items that you can potentially sell or donate to create more space.

Consider renting out unused portions of your office to independent consultants or small businesses. Ensure each staff member has access to the organizational materials they need to keep their offices neat. Provide stacking trays or file sorters, and suggest systems that may help them. Remember that you can’t control their work environment, but you can provide the support they need to stay organized. Minimize the distance between your office and the areas you frequently use (like the printer or photocopier). Locate your office so you have a clear line of sight between you and the most productive area of your business.

Once you make some initial improvements and set up systems to manage your data and organize your supplies, the hard part is over. A clean and organized office is easy to sustain once it is in place. Remember to be patient with yourself. Depending on the state of your work environment, this may be a project that takes a little while."

More on office productivity:
Three Steps to Organizing Your Office
Three Steps to Time Management for the Office
Increasing Your Effectiveness at Work

Friday, July 19, 2013

4 Tips for Organizing iPhone Apps


Here's another great techie organizing article by Jill Duffy. This one's about organizing iPhone apps ...

"An iPhone is only as useful as the apps you keep on it—and how quickly you can get to them when you need them. I have a few strategies for how I arrange my apps to help keep them organized, put them in easy reach of my fingers, and thus increase my efficiency by reducing the time it takes me to find the apps I use most often.

Sometimes, people inadvertently believe that being "organized" means their apps should be in a certain order from left to right, or top to bottom. I disagree.

Here are four tips for keeping your iPhone apps truly organized. If you're a novice iPhone user, you'll find a quick how-to at the end of each tip.

1. Use Your Hotspots
The home button of an iPhone (the round one) and the app dock (the area where you can lock four apps to the bottom of the screen) are near one another on iPhones for a reason. They're meant to be areas of the phone you touch most frequently, which explains why Apple kept them together: for efficiency.

Similarly, the nearest areas of the screen are also what I like to call "hot spots" or zones where you fingers hover most often.

If you use your thumbs to navigate your phone and are right-handed, your hot spots are probably the lower right corner and leftmost column.

Because I don't have dexterous thumbs, I hold my phone in a slightly unusual way. I hold it in the palm of my left hand and use the middle finger of my right hand to tap and swipe. As a result, my hotspots are the bottom two rows of the home screen.

You may have already utilized your hotspots, wherever they happen to fall for you, by putting your most-used apps in those locations. But if not, be sure to take advantage of those zones.

How to move an app: If you're a true iPhone beginner, you can move apps around the screen by pressing and holding any app until it jiggles, which means the apps are now unlocked. Now simply hold and slide around the screen the apps until they are where you want them. Need to delete an app? Just tap the 'X' in the upper left corner. Apps without an 'X' cannot be deleted. When you're finished, just tap the home button once.

2. Consider Clustering
The second trick is to cluster your apps. By "clustering," I mean position them near one another on the screen, but not in a folder (using folders is a different trick). It takes an extra tap to open a folder, and while one tap might seems trivial, there's a whole field of research devoted to measuring how much time we waste with unnecessary movements and keystrokes. Those unnecessary motions add up!

You've likely already clustered your four most frequently use, or most "important" (however you define it) apps in the dock and around your primary hot spots. Clustering works in other areas, too, though.

On the second screen of my phone, I have clustered together a few social media apps: Vine, Facebook, Flickr, and Pinterest. I "hang out" in that cluster when I'm relaxing and using my phone to leisurely check out what's new. I keep them on the second screen, rather than the first, because I don't want to tempt myself into looking at those apps too frequently. I reserve the home screen for apps that are more important to me.

Another example might be if you travel often for business, you could cluster together you preferred airline's app, a scheduling app, and maybe an office suite app.

How to put apps in the dock: You can only have four apps in the dock at a time. To change which ones are there, tap and hold any app until they jiggle. Then hold and slide an app out of the dock to free up space. You can now fill that empty slot with a different app. You can also change the order of the apps in the dock by pressing and sliding them. When you're done, press the home button once.

3. File into Folders
There are two ways to use folders: by app theme and by use.

Folders let you group apps together and name the set while only taking up one slot on the home screen. You can have up to 16 apps in any folder.

Theme. The most obvious method for putting apps into folders is by theme—that is, apps that are similar to one another, such as putting all music-streaming apps together, or all games together.

Whether you want to organize your apps into folders based on similarity depends on how you use them. For example, do you use consider all your music-streaming options before listening to music, or do you tend to always go for the same one favorite app? If it were me and the latter were true, I'd leave the favorite app on the homescreen and shunt the rest into a "Music Streaming" folder; or depending on how many apps I had, I might make an "Entertainment" folder.

Theme folders don't have to just hold apps of the same genre, though. I have a theme folder that lives at the top of my home screen called "Apple apps," which holds apps that came pre-installed on the phone, but which I don't use frequently.

I have another assorted collection of apps in a folder called "Apps to Test," meaning these are miscellaneous apps I've downloaded and want to try out sometime, but not with any great urgency.

Usage. Another way to group apps into folders is by how or when you use them. Let's take the case again of a business traveler, but this time, it's someone who travels less often. Instead of clustering on the home screen those apps for air travel, scheduling, and productivity, you might slot them into a folder called "Business Travel Essentials" or something along those lines.

How to make folders: To create a folder, press and hold any app until they all jiggle. Press and slide any app on top of any other app until the iPhone automatically creates a folder. Release the app, and you can tap the text field at the top of the folder to change its name. Press anywhere outside the folder to return to the home screen and to continue sliding more apps into the folder. When you're done, press the home button once.

4. Leave Blanks, and Stick Extra Apps in the Back
Don't feel bad about leaving blank spaces on your home screens! You don't have to fill every slot. You can still drag apps back (to the right) to another home screen even if you don't fill up the preceding one 100 percent.

I like to drag lesser-used apps and folders way back to the fourth or fifth screen so they're out of sight most of the time.

When I do need to access the apps that are hidden back there, I usually navigate to the iPhone's search feature, which you can reach by swiping left-to-right from your first home screen, or by tapping the home button once.

How to create another home screen page: Press and hold any app until it starts to jiggle. Press and slide any app or folder as far to the right as you can go. When you reach the edge, there will be a slight delay, but then you'll move to the next page. If you repeat that process until your last home screen page, the iPhone will create a new one. Simply lift your finger to deposit the app or folder on the new page, and press the home button once to finish. You can create up to 11 screens (though I don't recommend it!).

Order of Importance Based on the order of importance (again, "important" can be however you define it), use your iPhone app organizing strategies like this:
  • Hot Spots: reserve for most important apps
  • Clusters: use for apps that are frequently used, but less important
  • Folders: group apps you don't use often into folders by either theme or how you use them
  • Backmost Homescreen: stick apps here that you use the least."

More on phones:
Get Organized: Planning for Your Next Phone Upgrade
5 Best Apps for Getting and Staying Organized
Decluttering Your Mobile Phone is a Good Way to Start the Year

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dinner in 10 - Lime Dill Chicken

An easy recipe that was well received at my house recently - lime dill chicken. Simply sprinkle lime juice and dried or fresh dill on chicken tenderloins while they're cooking over medium heat. I took half a lime and squeezed it over the chicken. When I turned the chicken over, I squeezed more lime juice over the chicken.

Microwave corn on the cob, husks and all, for about five minutes or until you can smell the corn. (I usually peel back the husk and use a spoon to grab a kernel to taste it.) When the corn is done, it's so easy to peel back the husks and silks using kitchen towels. No more silks all over the kitchen!

Microwave fresh asparagus for about 2-3 minutes, after you've broken off the tough ends. Season with butter and garlic salt after draining.

Serve fresh peaches. That's it!

More on quick dinners:
Hassle Free Dinners
Three Steps to Planning Dinner
Dinner in 10 - Chicken with Cranberry Mandarin Sauce


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Six Ways to Maintain Peak Energy at Work

Do you find yourself dragging through your work day? There are a number of ways to maintain your peak energy level during your work day. Experiment with the following:

- Get organized the night before. By getting your clothes, lunch, and briefcase ready the night before, you're less likely to be rushed and/or late. A calm and controlled start to your day allows you to focus readily and lucidly when you get to work.

- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation results in irritability, stress and slow reaction time similar to being drunk, not to mention many other health risks. Your body keeps track of the sleep you've lost. Falling asleep when sitting quietly is an indicator that you may be sleep deprived.

- Take breaks! Take those your employer offers or create your own breaks if you are your own boss. Go for a walk, go outside, climb a few flights of stairs - move! Just a few minutes of change refreshes your mind and your body.

- Noise is a distraction and energy drainer. Try to reduce it as much as possible. If you are in a noisy area, close your door or wear headphones to reduce sound, if acceptable at your workplace. Go to a quiet location to work, if possible.

- Eat. If you are running low on fuel, you will not be able to function properly. Have a healthy snack during your breaks. And don't skip lunch!

- Drink. Keep yourself hydrated. Coffee from our favorite coffee cafes is three to four times stronger than regular coffee. And if you get a specialty coffee, it's loaded with sugar. Stop for one on the way to work, and expect your energy to crash in a couple of hours as the caffeine and sugar wear off. Better to have some green tea or water.

Be intentional about maintaining your energy level, and you'll find your productivity will increase. As your productivity increases maybe your paycheck will too!

More on productivity:
Three Steps to Time Management books
The "Do It Now" Mindset
Wrapping Up  Today so Tomorrow Runs Smoothly


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

DIY Storage - Managing Paper with a Dish Drainer

An easy way to create a vertical file from a dish drainer, compliments of Better Homes and Gardens:

"Now that dishwashers are often a kitchen staple, wire drainers are a bit out of favor. Give one new life as an office storage solution to store file folders. This old item adds character, charm, and utility, making it the perfect display and organization piece for your home office."

More on DIY storage:
DIY Storage - Entry or Side Table
DIY - Turn a TV Cabinet or Hutch into an Entry Organizer 

DIY Under-the-Bed Storage


Monday, July 15, 2013

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored - Water Spoons

Everyone is bored and you are brain dead when trying to come up with something fun to do. We were taught this game by some dear friends and we have played it with our kids and their friends, our foster daughters and their friends, and more! It's always good for a laugh!

Water spoons was originally a drinking game, but we do the watered down version (argh!).

It's like regular spoons except:

- the loser has to drink a glass of water
- if you say water in any language, you have to drink a glass of water
- if you point at someone else, you have to drink a glass of water
- if you burp out loud, you have to put your hand on your head and everyone does the same, and the last one to do this drinks a glass of water
- you can only go to the bathroom if you win a hand of spoons.

We use juice glasses and only fill them half-way.

When you need a quick, easy way to fill up time, water spoons is a fun choice. It's especially fun when your teenagers bring friends home, and they're a little awkward. This game is a great ice breaker!

More on summer fun: 

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Outdoor or Indoor Decathlon
Organizing Summer Fun - 10 Free (or Nearly Free) Activities for Kids
Organizing Summer Fun - 50 Ideas for Your Summer Bucket List

Friday, July 12, 2013

5 Tips for Organized Back-to-School Shopping

Summertime is a great time to do some back-to-school shopping. Vacations often involve shopping, so why not get some of that school shopping out of the way? But read these tips first to maximize your effort:

1. Take inventory of what you have. If you have children, tackle this job one child at a time. Make a list of all tops, categorizing them separately - short sleeve, long sleeve, t-shirts, dressy, dressy casual, etc. Do the same with bottoms - shorts, capris, jeans, skirts, dress pants, etc.

2. While going through the closet, start a donation pile and a throwaway/rag pile and a giveaway pile for clothing you want to pass on to specific people.

3. Make a list of all the possible outfits, both summer and winter.

4. It will become obvious which articles of clothing have no matches or matching accessories - shoes, socks, jewelry, belts, etc.. Make a shopping list.

5. NOW it's time to shop! If you are shopping for your children, make back-to-school shopping a fun event. If you can, take one child at a time, have lunch together, and make it a special day.

Even though this process takes a while, it is far more productive. You may discover outfits you never considered, you'll clear the closet of unwanted items, and your shopping will be intentional rather than haphazard, which will likely save you money. And you and/or your child will have a list of outfits to wear - especially helpful on those days when choosing an outfit seems overwhelming!

More on family organizing:
Managing Paper, Part 2
Keeping  Things Organized - Family Five Minute Challenge
Creating Routines and Systems


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Living with Imperfection

One of the best time management skills to master is knowing when to do a top-notch job and when to live with imperfection. It is impossible to expect perfection from yourself in everything you do. Otherwise you will never stop working!

If you have perfectionist tendencies, ask yourself if perfection is necessary for the task at hand. Is it worth the extra time to do it perfectly? If not, determine what is necessary and let the rest slide. Your twitching will eventually stop!

If perfectionism is getting in the way of quality relationship time or personal refueling time, stop now! Perfection is not worth that sacrifice.

During a quiet moment, ask yourself why perfectionism is so important to you. Is it a competition issue? A self-image issue? Something you've carried from childhood? Take a look at the cost of perfectionism on you and yours. Are you forcing others to be perfectionists, too? Does it create stress?

Some tasks are just not important enough to require perfectionism. Some are. Knowing the difference is the key.  

Allow yourself to be human and imperfect!

More on productivity:
Do You Have a Mid-Afternoon Priority Check?
Don't Sabotage Yourself with the "Evening Drift"
Increasing Efficiency


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

DIY Storage - Entry or Side Table

"Repurpose a vintage cart as a side table for a living room or entryway. A cart like this can be used as a drink station when entertaining or when outfitted with baskets on the lower shelf, it can be used as a handy entryway organizer and hold seasonal gear, shoes, and more out-the-door essentials." Thank you Better Homes and Gardens!

Here's my adaptation: I couldn't find a place for my beloved wicker tea cart we brought back from Kenya, and I also needed something to go in our entry way. A wonderful marriage!

The bottom shelf holds games, which didn't have a place to live either. My vintage guest book sits on the top shelf.

Since most people here take off their shoes (due to snow, etc.), I wanted a place for them to sit. I had bought a lacquered pink wrought iron chair which was perfect for that spot!

We painted an antique mirror lacquer red and completed the scene with an lacquered orange wrought iron hat rack. A fun, colorful welcome to our guests!

More on DIY organizing:
Turn Your Clutter into Storage - DIY Ideas
DIY Under-the-Bed Storage
DIY - Turn a Hutch or TV Cabinet into an Entry Organizer


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Organizing Summer Fun when Everyone is Bored - Indoor or Outdoor Decathlon

As I do each summer, I'm going to blog about some creative summer fun ideas you can use throughout the summer. Today's is an outdoor or indoor decathlon. An indoor decathlon is ideal for those those experiencing this summer's heat wave! A little heat is no reason not to have fun! I'll be posting more crazy ideas as the summer goes on. Now on to our post for today ...

"I'm bored!" My response is usually, "Sorry, that's your choice!" Over the years, I've come up with some activities to do when there doesn't seem to be anything to do. Most of these I've made up or adapted from other ideas. Sometimes merely reframing ordinary activities creates fun! Here's one I've used with adults and kids for years.

Indoor or Outdoor decathlon
10 games - a combination of silly games and games of skill. 
See possible games below.
Getting organized:

I keep the list of games a secret. Then it's a series of surprises.

Gather all the supplies needed for each game ahead of time.

Create a box or bag of prizes.

Create a score sheet chart with each person listed and each game listed.

After each game, record the scores. If you have five people playing, the person who comes in first gets five points, 2nd place gets 4 points, etc.

After all 10 events are played, the person with the most points is first, etc. #1 get to choose a prize first, #2 second, etc.

Possible games - adjust to kids' ages and whether you're playing indoors or oudoors:
dropping clothespins in a bottle
horse (basketball)
elimination bocce ball
bubble gum blowing contest
tossing a coin into a muffin tin
bowling with a toy bowling set
paper airplane making/flying
frisbee golf
bouncing a tennis ball on a tennis raquet
tossing a tennis ball into a waste basket
balancing a ball on your finger
Pass the Pigs game
pin the _____ on the _____
elimination jenga
paper balls into a waste basket

The sillier the better! Enjoy!

More on summer fun:
Organizing Summer Fun - 10 Free (or nearly free) Activities for Kids
Organizing Summer Fun - 50 Ideas for Your Summer Bucket List
Organizing Summer Fun - Michael's Passport to Imagination


Monday, July 8, 2013

Washington Post: Get Organized for Your Vacation

Hope you had a great 4th! We had a wonderful time entertaining friends and relaxing. Love a four-day weekend!

Here's some great vacation organizing advice from Nicole Anzia featured in the Washington Post.

"Summer is here, and so are the vacations we’ve been anticipating for months. But before the fun can begin, we have to conquer packing and get out of our houses without having a nervous breakdown.

Before you leave

Don’t wait until the last minute to start packing. It sounds obvious, but there is always so much to do before a trip — tying up loose ends at work, boarding pets, clearing out the refrigerator — that sometimes we end up just tossing a bunch of stuff into a bag at the last minute.

Start preparing early by making a detailed list of what you need to bring and buy. Then as you’re running errands in the days before you depart, you’ll know exactly what you need. Make your list thorough and include everything from underwear to sunglasses. A week before you leave, take clothes to the dry cleaners. Wash the rest of the clothes you’re packing at least two days in advance.

Write your packing list on a piece of paper or buy a packing list template like Knock Knock’s Pack This! Pad ($6.50, www.knockknockstuff.com) that requires only that you check off the pertinent items for your trip. For people who prefer a paperless method, Packing Pro is a well-regarded app that allows you to update your list on the go ($2.99, available for iPhone, iPod and iPad, www.itunes.com).

Tell family and trusted neighbors where you are going, how long you’ll be gone and how to reach you. Arrange for someone to collect your mail and newspapers or put a hold on them while you’re away.

Smart packing

Remember when we didn’t have to worry about bag fees, long security lines and three-ounce bottles? Although those rules and restrictions have made traveling more of a hassle, they also have the benefit of requiring us to pack more thoughtfully.

The maximum size for a carry-on at most airlines is 45 linear inches (height plus width plus depth), and the maximum weight is 40 pounds. Don’t pack the kitchen sink. Contact your hotel or host to ask whether they provide things like a hair dryer, iron or beach towels. Think through the outfits you’ll need and choose a central color to pack around. Brown, black and tan are good options that can be easily accessorized with brightly colored items. Bring items that can be repurposed or layered to create different outfits. And remember, in many places you can do laundry while you’re away, so pack individual detergent packets and a travel stain-treatment stick. A compact laundry bag will keep your dirty items separate from the clean ones (Reisenthel travel laundry bag, $3.99-$4.99, www.containerstore.com).

Wear your bulkiest shoes, sweater and jacket to save space. Pack any other shoes on the bottom of your bag and put smaller items inside them to save space and keep their shape.

Roll T-shirts, shorts, pants and undergarments. And if you want to be extra-organized, further compact and categorize your clothes with travel organizers like Eagle Creek’s Packing Cubes ($8.50-$42, www.eaglecreek.com). If you’re bringing pressed shirts, skirts, dresses or trousers, place plastic dry cleaning bags between each item to prevent wrinkling or use “packing folders” that allow you to compress many items at once while also keeping them wrinkle-free ($24-$40, www.eaglecreek.com).

Carrying liquids

Put your liquid toiletries in a clear, sealed, quart-size bag near the top of your suitcase so you can quickly remove it when you go through security. Many stores sell “airport-ready” clear travel kits with TSA-approved bottles for you to fill. Or use a regular resealable plastic bag and purchase travel-size products that are three ounces or less. Human Gear has created the GoToob, a “squeezable tube for traveling,” that is food safe, BPA-free and approved for carry-on luggage ($6.99-$9.49, www.humangear.

Space savers

Carriers like Stella & Dot’s Bring It jewelry roll allow you to pack your jewelry securely in one place without taking up a lot of space ($39, www.stelladot.com). Buy a lightweight sleeve for your laptop, tablet or e-reader. And a multi-port USB hub allows you to charge several devices at once.

Essentials and valuables

Make sure you’re not packing important or valuable items in the bags you’re checking. Again, this seems obvious, but in the whirlwind of getting out the door, items that should remain with you at all times can end up in the wrong bag. You don’t want to be caught without passports, itineraries or medical papers. And when a child has an accident on a long flight, that change of clothing won’t do any good in the belly of the plane."

More on vacations:
Peace-of-Mind Vacation Check List - What to Do Before You Leave
Helping Your Child Organize Vacation Packing
Organize Your Family Vacation


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Increasing Efficiency

Ever feel like that hamster in a cage, moving but not going anywhere? Here are a few ways to increase your efficiency and productivity.

- First and foremost, know your priorities, passions, and gifts. Use these as filters for incoming opportunities and requests. If you're not sure what is important to you, you may be controlled, by default, by others' agendas.

- Create a master weekly schedule that includes your priorities, passions, and gifts. Use this as you plan your schedule each week. If your schedule is erratic, create a master list of things you need to accomplish each week.

- Say no to those activities which do not contribute to your objectives. If that’s difficult, ask for some time to think about it, compare it with your priorities, and then say no. If you're unsure about whether or not to pursue the opportunity, get some advice from your spouse or close friend who is aware of your priorities and commitments.

- Find ways to simplify your life, schedule, etc. Remove activities from your life about which you are no longer passionate. Remove clutter from your life.

- Create systems and routines for handling paperwork, daily/weekly activities, etc.

- Delegate whenever possible. Train your delegees well, whether it is on the job or doing house chores! And plan a time to follow up.

- Make lists. Write down what you need to do, to remember, to buy, etc., rather than waste time later trying to remember them. I keep my lists on my phone, so they are available at any time.

- Plan your errands strategically so as to save drive time and gas.

- Avoid people who are time-wasters, unless you feel “called” to that relationship. Use email or texting when you must communicate with them so as not to be trapped by their lack of control. Or call them five minutes before a meeting or similar commitment, thereby limiting your conversation time.

- Determine if an emergency or interruption is urgent and important or just urgent before you change your scheduled activities. Just because it may be an emergency for someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean it must become an emergency for you!

- Don’t check your email first thing in the morning; instead, do your highest priority.

- Prepare the night before so your morning will run smoothly.

- Keep well-stocked on the essentials - milk, bread, toilet paper, etc. Milk and bread can be frozen (use milk with screw on cap and pour out a little milk before freezing to allow for expansion). This prevents costly (both time and money) emergency trips to the grocery store.

- Make a master list of school supplies your children use frequently. When you go to the office supply store, check your list to avoid running out of an essential. At the beginning of the school year buy project supplies as well as school supplies - markers, colored pencils, poster board, report folders, etc. When your child has a last-minute project, you'll be prepared! No more late-night trips to the grocery store hoping they'll have poster board.

- Do the same with office supplies. Make a list of essentials - paper, ink, labels, legal pads, binders, etc. Each time you go to the office supply store, check your list. Many office supply stores will deliver if your purchase is over $50.

- Compare prices between local office supply stores and online stores. I have found quality computer ink, shipping supplies, and other items at cheaper prices than my local stores, many times with a better selection. And I don't have to go anywhere!

- Use small snatches of time to do quick tasks. Save large blocks of time for big projects. If you have projects that require lengthy attention, create "no interruption" times during your day. Schedule times when you are available to field questions, phone calls, etc. Record this information on your answering machine.

By increasing your efficiency, your day will be more productive. And you may be able to find some extra time in the day for yourself!

More on productivity:
1-2-3 Get Organized Time Management Books
Wrapping Up Today so Tomorrow Runs Smoothly
Increasing Your Effectiveness at Work
Do You Have a Mid-Afternoon Priority Check?


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Organizing Summer Fun - 10 Free (or almost free) Summer Activities for Kids


Need some new ideas for providing creative activities for your kids or grandkids? I discovered this great article that will inspire you to try something new! Handy links provide resources for making it happen.

"Visiting a museum can be a low-cost (and air conditioned) way to enjoy a hot summer day. Kids of all ages want summer fun that's a break from the ordinary, especially from those dog days of boredom.

The good news is that parents and grandparents can provide lots of fun activities without breaking the bank.

While they're at it, they can even provide some priceless lessons, skills and memories.

If you're prepping for another summer with stay-at-home kids or visiting grandchildren, consider these wallet-friendly ways to make the most of "together" time.

1. See how it's made

Unlock the marvels of manufacturing for thousands of American-made products by going on factory tours that are often free and usually educational. Visit Factory Tours USA for listings of nearly 600 offerings, searchable by state, product or industry.

2. Amuse 'em at a museum

Organizing Sumer Fun - 10 Free (or almost free) Summer Activities for Kids @1-2-3GetOrganized.com/blog Check with museums near you about free or low-cost admission and other summer programs for kids on select days. Some credit cards and member organizations also offer special museum admission deals.

3. See pros play

If the young 'uns (or you) are pigskin fans, you can go hog-wild at National Football League training camps, usually mid-to-late July. Admission to preseason practices is often free, or a small fraction of a game ticket, and some training camps offer "family fun" events for a more fan-friendly experience. Contact franchises or visit NFL.com for dates and locations (typically posted in early July).

4. Spare the expense of bowling

Kids can bowl two games per day for free — every day, all summer long — at some 1,000 bowling centers across the U.S. and Canada participating in Kids Bowl Free. Preregistration is required (you'll need to print and bring passes to your designated lanes), and if you want to do more than just keep score, low-cost family passes allow up to four adults to participate.

5. Angle for free fishing

With the exception of Alaska, every state (and the District of Columbia) holds no-license-required days, ideal for newbies to, ahem, test the waters — and maybe even provide dinner. Get details on summer's free fishing days at takemefishing.org/nfbw, where you can also download a free app for iPhone and Android smartphones that features more than 35,000 boat ramps and marinas in the U.S. where you can launch or dock a boat.

6. Turn half-pints into handymen (and handywomen)

In addition to free weekend "how-to" workshops for adults, Home Depot hosts them for kids between ages 5 and 12 on the first Saturday of each month, while Lowe's offers them on select weekends. In these clinics, kids get the lowdown on do-it-yourself projects and typically build a wooden craft they can keep.

7. Let them be crafty

For those who prefer pipe cleaners and beads for their creative construction, Michaels, Hobby Lobby and A.C. Moore host regular, in-store crafts classes specifically for kids; many are free, others cost $5 or less. Lego stores hold free, monthly model-building events. Meanwhile, any-aged offspring -— or you — might enjoy spilling creative juices at BeFunky.com, where uploaded photos can be tweaked into cartoons, Warhol-esque painting or who-knows-what.

8. Host a yard sale

You can get rid of clutter, teach some entrepreneurial-enhancing skills and earn a few bucks. For the best turnout, pick a Saturday morning — and have the kids spend Friday designing and hanging signs in the neighborhood. You can post a free advertisement on Craigslist and in some community newspapers.

9. Instill a science alliance

No disrespect to the classic "volcano" made from baking soda, vinegar and food coloring, but an at-home Science Fair can reap more inventive, if not yuck-inducingly offbeat, projects — and also help your kids get a jump on mandated assignments for the coming school year. Find dozens of creative experiments, for various skill levels and ages, at ScienceBuddies.org, ScienceAndMath.com or other websites by doing a Web search on 'science experiments.' Most projects can be done with less than $20 of already kitchen-stocked or store-bought materials.

10. Hit the big screen (at a small price)

They may not be new releases, but some theaters have free or low-cost showings of family-friendly films, typically on weekday mornings. Chains offering freebies include REI Cinemas, Muvico and Clearview Cinemas. Admission is $1 at Regal as well as Cinemark and Century theaters, with the latter providing a $5 punch card to see 10 films in its series."

More on organizing summer fun:
Organizing Summer Fun - 50 Ideas for Your Summer Bucket List
Organizing Summer Fun - Michael's Passport to Imagination
Planning an Intentional Summer for Your Child


Monday, July 1, 2013

DIY - Turn a Hutch or TV Cabinet into an Entry Organizer

"Give an old TV cabinet or china hutch a new purpose as an entryway organizer. To create this piece, we removed the doors and added hooks along the back of the hutch, gave the piece a fresh paint job, and added a shelf for extra storage."Another idea from Better Homes and Gardens.

Looks like they added wallpaper to the back of the hutch, adding a nice touch.

More on entry way organizing:
Entry Closet Door Organizer
Organizing Products I Use - Mail and Key Rack
Three Steps to Decluttering