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

Friday, August 30, 2013

It's a Great Time to Rethink Life!

When I had kids at home, I would rethink life when school started, in January and at the beginning of summer. Each of these times marked when schedules changed. In light of these schedule changes, I'd think through my schedule and our family's schedule. All of us were active, and if I didn't intentionally rethink life, things would start falling through the cracks and we'd miss important events or need to be in several places at once!

I'd think through my passions, priorities, gifts and how these lined up with my schedule. I wanted to make sure that I was investing my limited time in those things that were most important to me. And it gave me an opportunity to remove those things that no longer mattered as much. A great time to evaluate!

As an empty nester, my schedule is not nearly as complicated as when we had kids at home, but I still want to be very intentional about how I spend my time. At every age, it's important to align your life with your passions, priorities, gifts and the legacy you want to leave future generations!

If you're inspired to rethink life, I'd love to help! A simple step-by-step plan is included in all my time management books. Here's where they are:

Three Steps to Time Management books (printed and downloadable)
Three Steps to Time Management books (on Kindle)
Rethinking Your Life in 3 Weeks

Or, if you'd like some coaching to walk you through the process, drop me an email at Bev@1-2-3GetOrganized.com and we can set up a telephone or Skype call.

Live life intentionally!


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Keeping Sheets and Pillowcases Together


"Never lose a pillowcase again! Here's how: If the clean set isn't going directly onto a bed, fold and stash it in one of the pillowcases to keep everything together". (Redbook)

I've shared this idea before, but the picture is so much nicer on Redbook's post! I've been storing my sheets like this for a few years now. I used to tie ribbons around sets of sheets a la Martha Stewart, but I love this idea so much more! You never have to wonder if the sheets match, especially if you have a bunch of white sheets, for example!

More on closets:
Ruthless Closet Purging - Getting Organized for a Move ... Or Not
Three Steps to Organizing Your Closet (ebook)
Three  Steps to Organizing Your Closet (Kindle)


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dinner in 15 - Herbed Tilapia

Herbed tilapia has become one of my favorite dishes since growing my own herbs. One night I just picked a handful of various herbs - cilantro, parsley, chives, and basil. I cut them up with scissors, sprinkled some olive oil in a nonstick pan and threw in the herbs for a minute or so on medium high heat.

Placed the tilapia filets on top of the herbs and cooked until I could see white around the edges. Turned them over for another few minutes. Seasoned to taste. If you're not a big fish fan (I'm not) tilapia is ideal - it doesn't taste real fishy. If you don't have fresh herbs, used dried ones to your taste.

In the meantime, steam some frozen peas, slice some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, and cut up some watermelon. A quick, fresh meal!

More quick dinner ideas:
Hassle Free Dinners
Three  Steps to Planning Dinner
Dinner in 15 - Citrus Salmon

Monday, August 26, 2013

DIY Cord Storage

Cables and cords out of control? "Coil spare chargers, cables, and extension cords inside cardboard toilet-paper rolls — and store them upright in a box to prevent tangle meltdowns." Thanks, Redbook.

More DIY storage ideas:
Trunk Storage - Prevent Runaway Groceries
Organizing Your Bracelets - Go Vertical!
Organize Toys Using a Wire Garden Planter


Friday, August 23, 2013

Hoarders Dos and Don'ts Guide

If you're a hoarder or have a hoarding friend or family member, you might be interested in the Hoarders Dos and Don'ts Guide put out by Address Our Mess, hoarding experts. 

Hoarding is a complicated issue and must be handled carefully and thoughtfully. This guide will give you some valuable insights on how to most effectively address hoarding.

More on hoarding:
Hoarding - There Are no Easy Answers
Are You Turning into a Hoarder? Find Out.
Dehorder Game - Clean Up a Hoarder Home


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Getting Organized for School - Organizing Homework without Battles

I repeat this blog post every year because homework can be such a battlefield!

Having trouble getting your child to do homework? Or does homework seem to stretch out over an unusually long time? When my children were in school I came up with a solution that gave my girls control and motivation, as well as some training in time management.

While they were having their after-school snack, each girl would list out all her homework assignments on a 3 x 5 card with the estimated time needed to complete each subject. Then, depending on how much time we had that day for homework, she would plan out her homework time, interspersing homework time with play time - a video game, a game with me, a TV show, shooting hoops, playing outside, etc. I recommend 30 minutes studying and 15 minutes to play with longer study times for older kids, shorter for younger.

I found that my kids were motivated to complete their homework in the time they estimated so they could get to playing. Plus homework time didn't turn into an endless expanse of time with no end in sight.

If one of the girls would underestimate the time it took to complete an assignment, her play time was still honored. Just having a change of scenery refreshes the brain.

By giving each girl some control over how she managed her time, she was motivated to do her homework and felt a sense of accomplishment from organizing her homework. Homework was broken up into bite-sized pieces and interspersed with fun. Homework battles were greatly reduced!

A suggestion: study your child. One of my daughters, an introvert, was depleted both physically and socially when she came home from school because she had used up all her words. She needed food and time to regroup before she was ready to talk about her day. My other daughter, also an introvert, wouldn't use up her words at school and was a chatterbox because she felt more comfortable using her words at home.

A child with ADHD may need to get rid of a bunch of energy before sitting down to homework. Each child is different, and as we study our children, we'll have more insight into creating an atmosphere for their success.

More on homework:
Getting Organized for School - Start the Night Before
Getting Organized for School (and Life!!) - Getting Enough Sleep
Getting Organized for School - Discover Your Child's Learning Styles


Monday, August 19, 2013

Study: Clutter Inspires Creativity, Other Interesting Findings

I discovered the following study that claims that clutter inspires creativity. As a personality type facilitator, I've observed that creative types are often more oblivious to clutter than structured types. So does clutter inspire creativity or just not bother creative types? That's my question. Here are the study findings - see what you think:

"A tidy desk might resemble a tidy mind, as the saying goes, but working amongst clutter helps you think more creatively, according to a new study.

Messy desk lovers now have science as an excuse for their office jumble as the research shows they can dream up more imaginative ideas.

The University of Minnesota researchers believe disorder inspires the mind to break free of convention.

But the neat freaks have also been given a boost, with the same study saying tidiness promotes healthy eating, generosity, and conventionality.

'Prior work has found that a clean setting leads people to do good things: Not engage in crime, not litter, and show more generosity,' psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs said in the study published in the journal Psychological Science.

'We found, however, that you can get really valuable outcomes from being in a messy setting.'

In one experiment, office workers were asked to fill out some questionnaires.

Some completed the task in a clean and orderly office, while others did so in an unkempt one with papers strewn about and cluttered office supplies.

Afterward, the participants were presented with the opportunity to donate to a charity, and they were allowed to take a snack of chocolate or an apple on their way out.

Those in the tidy office were more likely to donate, and chose the apple over the chocolate.

But in another experiment, the messy desk brigade came out of top.

Participants were asked to come up with new uses for ping pong balls.

Overall, participants in the messy room generated the same number of ideas for new uses as their clean-room counterparts.

But their ideas were rated as more interesting and more creative when evaluated by impartial judges.

'Being in a messy room led to something that firms, industries, and societies want more of: creativity,' said Professor Vohs.

'Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights.'

Whether the environment was tidy or unkempt made a 'whopping difference in' behaviour, the study found."


More on clutter tolerance:
Simple Questions to Get in Touch with Your Clutter Comfort Level
Is There a Difference Between Being Cluttered vs. Being Disorganized?
Three Steps to Decluttering


Friday, August 16, 2013

DIY Portable Storage

"Add casters to a simple wood box for easy-to-move storage for almost any purpose. Place the box beneath an entryway console and you have an accessible, but tucked-away, place for shoes." Another clever idea from Better Homes and Gardens.

Some other ideas: use it as a movable toy bin or a gardening supply container.

More DIY Storage:
DIY Storage - Turn Old Benches into a Shelving Unit

DIY - Turn a Hutch or TV Cabinet into an Entry Organizer
Turn Your Clutter into Storage - DIY Ideas

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Getting Organized for School - Start the Night Before

Wouldn’t you love to have a peaceful, stress-free morning tomorrow? Starting the night before can help eliminate the rush and push, getting your day off to a pleasant and calm start. This is a blog post I wrote when we had five teenage foster daughters trying to get to school on time each morning!

Getting Your Child Organized

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

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

- I figure out when my child needs to be in bed with the lights out in order to get the sleep she requires. We have five foster daughters in our house this week. One starts school today, two tomorrow and two on Thursday. We are reining in bedtime so everyone can get enough sleep.

- We determine how much time is needed for nightly routines – shower/bath, brushing teeth, room decluttering, prayers, reading, etc. – and start the routine that much earlier than bedtime. With five girls and one bathroom between them, we are starting at 7 to get them all in their rooms by 9!

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

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

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

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

Getting Yourself Organized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do to get your day off to a good start?

More on Organizing for School:
Getting Organized for School (and Life!) - Getting Enough Sleep  

Getting Organized for School - Ideas for Creating a Central Hub  
Three Steps to Time Management for the Working Mom

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Twelve Tips for Planning a Low-Stress Wedding


A wedding is a breeding ground for stress, one reason being that there are so many details to manage. There's not much you can do about Aunt Martha and Cousin Joe not wanting to speak to each other, but you can organize and manage details so there are as few surprises as possible.

There will always be those things that pop up at the last minute, but if you have done a good job of organizing, they are usually either out of your control or are minor. The following tips will help ease your mind as your plan your wedding:

1. Start early. As soon as you know you’re getting married, start planning. My daughter and I had almost a year to plan her wedding and we used it all! Her wedding was very large and we did much of it ourselves. If you don’t think you need that much time, it never hurts to be ahead of schedule, even if your wedding is intimate and simple.

Even if you’re not engaged yet, there are several things you can start looking at: wedding dresses, bridal party attire, invitations, etc. Don’t scare off your boyfriend, though, by jumping the gun!

2. Keep the communication lines open and healthy with your fiancé and your family during the wedding-planning process. Your relationships are more important than your ceremony. Your ceremony will take place on one day ... your relationships will continue for the rest of your life. Work on finding win-win solutions to problems and be open to their ideas.

You will spend the rest of your life finding solutions to problems. To help you perfect this skill, avail yourself of pre-marriage counseling. I highly recommend the Myers-Briggs personality type inventory. And make good choices, the most important one in my opinion: don't be selfish. It's impossible for a marriage to flourish if one or both partners are self-absorbed.

3. Determine your budget and the size of your wedding. Your budget will likely determine the size of your wedding. If your parents are paying for your wedding, get a clear picture of what they are willing to spend. You can decide to stick within that budget or contribute some yourself. Or you may be footing the entire bill yourself.

Whatever the case, I suggest living within your budget. Insisting on a lavish affair is not worth the stress that debt puts on your relationship with your parents and/or your fiancé and later on your marriage.

Do your homework as you estimate the cost of the various components of your wedding. Costs add up quickly, and being realistic about them avoids last minute sticker-shock and its ensuing stress. Overestimate your costs so that if things turns out to be higher than you anticipated, you have a little padding.

4. Get a wedding organization book and live by it! This wonderful tool provides checklists, timelines, and deadlines. It also supplies you with etiquette rules and other such valuable information. Remember, though, that just because something is suggested in your wedding organization book, if it’s not you, don’t do it! This is your wedding, and it should reflect you! If you can afford a wedding planner, she will do much of this for you.

5. Secure a venue for your wedding and reception. Some locations are booked a year or more in advance, so don’t procrastinate on this one if your location is a popular one! To avoid this hassle, some couples are deciding to marry on less typical days: Friday evening or Sunday afternoon, for example. By thinking outside the box, you may discover creative solutions to this search.

6. Decide on a wedding dress and wedding party attire. This may take a while, so give yourself enough time to find what you want. The internet makes this overwhelming task much easier! Look online to find styles you like and narrow down your search this way.

Give yourself enough time for altering, re-ordering correct sizes, etc. If you are having dresses made, allow adequate time for measuring, sewing, try-ons, and alterations. We had the bridesmaids’ dresses made by a friend. To cut costs, we used a 50% off coupon at Jo-Ann’s when we purchased the material.

7. Plan your wedding ceremony with your fiancé. Don’t just include everything you’ve seen in others’ wedding – make it meaningful to you. We actually attended a wedding ceremony that seemed like it included everything ever done in a wedding ceremony – it was eternal!!

Make your ceremony reflective of you! Sit down with the minister or person who is going to perform your wedding, and express your desires. Any wedding ceremony can be adapted to fit your values and wishes.

Our daughter and son-in-law have a very strong faith. Her engagement ring was a triangle. She and her fiance were represented by the bottom two corners, and God was represented by the top corner. They wanted their relationship to become closer as they became closer to God. The triangle shape reoccurred throughout the wedding and reception.

Our daughter didn’t want a wedding cake – she wanted cheesecake instead. We found already-sliced Cheesecake Factory cheesecake at Sam’s. They chose to eliminate the cake-cutting, obviously.

A friend of ours was into the two-step, so he and his groomsmen wore cowboy boots and it was a two-step reception. Another friend got married in his Chucks, his signature footwear! Don't be afraid to be different!

8. Keep a binder or file or box containing wedding paraphernalia – contracts with those providing services, sketches, ideas, final products, etc., so you can locate colors, samples, etc. at a moment’s notice.

9. Determine what help you need – both paid and volunteer. If you have friends who are willing to help with various aspects of your wedding, accept that help if you like their work. A friend might be able to design your invitation and/or program. Or help you address wedding invitations. Ask friends for recommendation for wedding cake bakers, caterers, etc. If people offer to help, consider saying yes!

10. Hire a wedding coordinator at least for your wedding day. Then you, your mom, your family, and your wedding party can enjoy the day and revel in your celebration. She can take care of those little details and make sure that everyone is where they need to be.

11. Prepare an emergency kit for those last minute snafus: safety pins, masking tape, cellophane tape, a stapler, bobby pins, hair spray, needle and thread, extra pantyhose, extra make-up, scissors, etc. Ask a friend to be on stand-by to run errands if necessary.

12. Relax and enjoy your day! Determine not to be stressed even if everything doesn’t go exactly as you planned. Someone may faint or goof up, but the important thing is that you're getting married!! Don't let small things spoil your celebration. And ... live happily ever after!

More on relieving stress:
6 Ways to Reduce Stress by Getting Organized
Foods that Relieve Stress
Twelve Tips to Destressing Christmas


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

DIY Storage - Turn Old Benches into a Storage Unit

"Create a scene-stealing shelving system by stacking a series of antique benches and anchoring them to the wall. The weathered finish of these benches testifies to their colorful past lives and adds a rustic, eclectic character to the space while providing a place to corral books and display accessories." (From Better Homes and Gardens.)

More DIY storage: 

DIY Storage - Managing Paper with a Dish Drainer
DIY - Turn A Hutch or TV Cabinet into an Entry Organizer 

DIY Storage - Entry or Side Table

Monday, August 5, 2013

How Clutter Affects Your Health

Had a lovely weekend doing some babysitting for our granddaughter and helping our daughter rethink her office. Got some new herb plants at our local farmer's market - so excited! I love having my own herbs!

Changing the subject drastically, we're going to look at how clutter affects your health. Robin Westen, medical director for ThirdAge has written the following article on that topic:

"There’s a good chance if you’re living with a lot of clutter, you realize somewhere in your psyche that it’s disrupting your life. It might be tough to find essential items, or the mess might be taking up valuable living space. But did you know your excessive clutter could also be hurting your health? Here are some problems you could be letting yourself in for:

Loneliness Countless studies show close friendships and socialization keep us healthy and youthful. If your home is so disorganized you’re ashamed to invite people over, you could end up living in unhealthy isolation.

Exhaustion Do you feel like you just don’t have the energy to clear out the clutter? Well, the reason you’re constantly feeling fatigued could be the result of the stagnant energy that accumulates around the objects causing you to feel lethargic. Just looking at it can bring on an overwhelming sense of weariness.

Depression When your available space is filled, it’s impossible to find the psychic room to bring anything new and exciting into your life. You may feel stuck with the same old problems that have brought you down for a long time. Clearing your clutter gives you a good starting point to deal with your problems and move forward.
Negative Reactions The truth is, people treat you the way you treat yourself. So if you value yourself and look after yourself, people will treat you well. If you allow the junk to mount up around you, you may attract people who mistreat you in some way because subconsciously you will feel that’s what you deserve.

Weight Gain Studies show people who have lots of clutter in their homes have a greater likelihood of being overweight. Psychologists suspect this is because body fat and clutter are forms of self-protection. By building layers of fat or clutter around yourself, subconsciously you may believe you’re protecting yourself from life’s disappointments or tragedies.

Distraction When you live surrounded by stuff, how can you have clarity about what you’re doing in life? There’s a good chance once you clear it, making life decisions will become easier and more focused.

Stress The stress experienced from excessive clutter can seriously impact health by helping to cause reduced immunity, sleeplessness, heart disease, gum disease, memory loss, obsessive-compulsive disorder, cancer, and more.


Poor Nutrition If you’re stocking your pantry with canned and processed goods, or expired products, it impacts your health. In addition, if your kitchen is disorganized and cluttered, you’ll be less motivated to cook and more likely to stop for fast food or eat out. In fact, there might be little or no space left on your counter for cutting fresh fruits and vegetables."

More on how clutter affects your life:
Costs of a Disorganized Office, Solution for Productivity
Health Risks of Clutter

University of California TV Series Looks at Cluter Epidemic in Middle-Class American Homes

Friday, August 2, 2013

Getting Organized for School - Helping Your ADHD Child Stay Organized

I've done a lot of study on ADHD and have a soft spot in my heart for those living with it. The following article offers excellent ideas for helping your ADHD child get organized for school.

"Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic disorder that begins in childhood and often persists into adulthood. Inattention can create difficulty with organization, which can pose problems in school during childhood and the teenage years.

Problems with organization stem from problems with executive functioning in the brain (i.e., the level of detail and the time it takes to complete the task). Learning organizational skills can help a child or teen overcome this obstacle. It can also be helpful with the other symptoms of attention deficit disorder, such as time management.

The NYU Child Study Center notes that some children have difficulty with organization, though the deficits are more severe in children with ADHD. But learning organizational strategies early can prevent the symptoms from interfering with productivity. Parents can play an essential role by teaching the child different techniques and monitoring progress.

For example, the parents and child can make a schedule for homework with due dates, and leave space for checking off the assignment when it is done. A homework schedule helps with other symptoms of ADHD, such as hyperactivity and impulsiveness, as it keeps the child on a specific routine.

Parents can use the schedule to make sure the child submits his assignments on time, and see if there are areas in which he is struggling. When making the schedule, part of it should be kept open to review assignments, as careless mistakes are also a symptom of inattention.

Besides creating a method to keep track of assignments, the child or teen also needs an area to work where the number of distractions are limited.

For example, the child should have a consistent place to do homework with all clutter removed. The study area should also be quiet. The child can also create a storage area to hold important papers for school, such as a binder labeled for each class. Parents should also encourage the child to pack his bag at night to prevent school work from being lost or left at home. Experts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also say that the child should also clean his desk at the end of the day to help maintain organization; this also encourages the establishment of a daily routine.

Since inattention can make it difficult for the child to do complex tasks, caregivers can help break tasks into steps and write out each step. This exercise also helps the child learn planning and follow-through. Leave room on the list to check off when a step is completed. When taking notes, the child should leave the page margins open to add more information when reviewing the material.

Parents should also consider the use of a reward system, which reinforces the child’s new organizational skills. Here are some ideas for ADHD behavioral interventions for the home that work and have been proven effective.

Parents should remember that a child’s or teen’s behavior takes time to change — it’s not going to happen overnight. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks, which are usually temporary in nature. Help be a cheerleader and positive support for your teen or child. You may find the results encouraging and beneficial, not just for your home life, but for your child’s mental health as well."

More on organization and ADHD:
Helping Your ADHD Child Get Organized
ADHD Organization - Decision-Making
ADHD Organization - Time and Energy