Monday, December 24, 2012

Organizing for the New Year

On this rainy day before Christmas it is a perfect day to stay home to bake and organize your home.  While you are doing this you have a chance to evaluate new goals for yourself  and your home as well.  I was just talking to a good friend and it reminded me to write this article to jump start some of my readers. First start by a plan of action, a plan for success.  Remember to start small and end with a reward for yourself.
Getting Started:  Prepare two shopping bags to fill, walk around your kitchen and put the things in the bags that you don't need.  One bag will be to give to the donation shop and one will be to save in a different part of the house.  For example, look at your kitchen counter.  How many of the items there do you need?  Are their too many cups/ mugs?  Just keep twice as many mugs as people in your home.  Trust me you won't really miss the ones you have donated.  Are there too many pots and pans, platters that you don't need? Can you move the rice cooker off the counter?  Can you de-clutter the pantry and sort the items by category so you have room to put things away?  Look at your counter and analyze each items.  Determine what you really use and what is over kill.  Ask yourself what would be the worst thing that would happen it you didn't have it anymore?   Continue to move around the house in this fashion.  Stop at any area that is cluttered and remove an object and put into the bag.  Are there too many picture frames around the house, too many magazines, books, DVDs.  Look closely, ask yourself how do I want my house to look for the new year? 
Organizing the Clothes Closet:Now its time for two new shopping bags.  Clothes that don't fit anymore and clothes that should be put in storage or passed on.  If you haven't worn it in two years , you can generally live without it.  Let someone else wear it,  If it truly is memorabilia, then put it in a clean zip lock and storage it up high.  Don't put it in the prime space in your closet.  Put the important use able clothes there. Remember less is more, and we are creators of habit.  We generally wear the same clothes over and over again! Remember put your clothes on good hangers and try to color sort them along with sorting my style and use.
Tackling Paper Clutter in the Home: Once January comes you need to toss all the holiday magazine and categories.  You will get new ones next year.  Toss all the paper ads, and sale pamphlets.  Sort your mail, by bills, and tax information.  (Next month I will write about setting up new files)  Keep only the supplies you need on your desk top.  Shed and toss any papers that don't belong in the file cabinet.  You need to get in the habit of sorting mail daily.
There are many areas in the home to organize and de -clutter but for now on this rainy day lets just begin here and celebrate the first of many new beginnings.  Get out the ice cream and reward yourself!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Organzing your Household papers

Today's mom can find herself in her kitchen with a pound of paper piled high on her kitchen counter or her desk.  Not knowing what to do with it each day, it just seems to grow and grow.  How does this happen she wonders?   It seems that this mom does not have the proper systems set up and also has difficulties making decisions.   The simplest solution would be to set up some files, a list of to do's and a life coach helping her with the decision making process.  But it doesn't have to be so complicated. If you take some some simple steps to create a few filing folderswhich I call " the hot files" that can help manage income mail and the paper flow.
In just two hours you can begin the process of clearing your desk.  Begin my taking everything off the desk and only leaving the phone,some paper and writing tools.  Choose a notebook, or pad of your choice to write your master list for scheduling events and calendar your activities.  Use the "touch it once method" to decide what to do with each paper.  Identify each paper item on your desk and create file for it in your drawer for easy access.  For example, any medical forms can be put under the file "Medical" .  You can also create a " to pay" folder, and a " to do" folder than will correspond to your notepad.  This system must be maintained daily.   Just five minutes of opening the mail each day and 20 minutes of office/desk time can establish a routine and maintain a clean organized desk.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Organizing Your Time and Priorities

 As we approach the end of the year, I am beginning to think more about my goals and priorities for next year.  I am also interested in teaching this idea to my clients and friends.  The first step would be to have a better sense of how we spend our time and our awareness of time.  Begin by getting to know yourself and your pace.  How fast do you get things done?  Know your commitment.  What does the passage of time mean to you ?   What are your goals and aspirations?  What would you like to have accomplished at the end of the day? the week?  the year?  end of time?   What really motivates you to change?  Create goals?  Create Priorities?  These questions can be the beginning of your answer.   The process is to first believe in yourself.  Ask yourself what is it that your REALLY want?  Acknowledge that you have to start with baby steps, one day at a time.
Changing Habits come slow and patiently.  Create goals and set priorities  by writing them down in a notebook.  Write something down for each day, week and for the year.  Try to set four goals for the coming new year.  Give yourself some time to think and plan for the future.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How to entertain at Thanksgiving without feeling like a Turkey

I promised myself that I would not think about Thanksgiving before November 1.  I just thought that being in the moment, dealing with first things first (my Stephen Covey training) told me to do that.  This morning as I was taking my 6am walk before driving my son to high school at 7am, I thought about Thanksgiving.  Here are my thoughts.  Now I am ready to look at my magazines at all the yummy, delicious pictures of Turkeys, stuffing, and side dishes for the Holiday.  I have my mind set on making my famous apple pie and carrot cake for sure.  In line with my newly acquired learning from Harold Taylor ( can set out on my organizing principles.
Firstly, have the Vision, ask yourself what is it you want.  What are your goals and priorities? Second, planning, what do you need to do to make the evening a success?  Who do you want to invite, what do you want to serve, what items do you need to buy,  Third,  your action, How can you get things done, who needs to help you, where will you buy, rent, shop, call for that evening. And Finally Schedule, Look at your day planner and write out all your "to do's" and schedule something for each day of the week counting to the Dinner Evening itself.  Spread the actions over time so you will not be rushed nor go crazy making things the last minute.  Remember, It's all in the planning… which means THE VISION, THE PLANNING, THE ACTION, THE SCHEDULING.  Take it slow and Enjoy.  You will have a great meal with good company and be ready for my December's Holiday tips.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Questions and Answers for School Organization

1. What kind of system can you suggest to keep all the kids paperwork in one place?

Each child should have a basket, container or drawer in the home to put their school work in where they can find it easily for themselves. In this location, when your child gets home from school and wants to leave their "work-in-progress" notes, spelling test, assignment at home they will have a holding area, which can have two folders, one for work-in-progress and another for work that can be saved as memorabilia or tossed. This insures a place for them to look to for work that needs to go back to school and follow up at home. This basket can be in the kitchen or family room or close by to where they do their homework. It should be thinned out once a month and kept up to date.

 2. What methods (whiteboards etc) do you recommend using to have the kids know which day they are expected to bring in what? 

Some mothers like whiteboards and the student responds well to them. You can use different color dry erase markers for each child/student. Some families like a different calendar for each child individually. This can be used for homework and school/activities appointment. Some people like a wall calendar and this works fine also. There are schools that use a planner that is expected to be checked at school and signed by the parent. Either way, what needs to be done is consistency and follow-up. Some homes need a hard poster board to write each activity and schedule for the day. It mostly depends on how much memory the mom has and how much each child needs to be reminded.  Calendar boards are really good if used religiously and diligently.

 3. What is the most important thing we can do to help our kids become organized? 

If the parents can role model for the child/student, that is the best form of support. That means that the parent is on time; follow through with activities, requests and promises. The good CEO of any organization is the key to success and the CEO here is the Parent. Other than that, set up a well organized home, have it clutter and stress free. Have it well planned out and follow up with a smile and praise. (Just like in a well run business)

 4. Should we help them to plan their time or should they do it themselves in 6th grade?

I think each parent should evaluate how much time their child need to get work done, For example, you will find that some of your children will need to eat something small as a snack while they are doing their homework, Others will need complete silent and nothing on the table. Some might need background noise, music to work and concentrate. This goes for time also. Each child works at a different speed. Spend time observing your child and talking to them. Experiment with different locations in the house to complete homework and /or different types of environment. Some might need to go to the Library to do work, or use a different location in the home. Help them plan for their time, Measure their time by how long it takes them to finish an easier project or something they are more interested in. Some students do well with starting with the hardest homework first and saving the easiest for last as they might get too tired in the later evening. On the other hand some students like to start with the easier work first to give them encouragement that they can do the harder one later. Just watch the time and take a survey.

 5. Do you think organizing their room is part of helping them organize their homework? 

I personally think an organized room helps the student focus. How can children works in a cluttered distracted environment? I vote for setting up a homework area with a desk and chair, good lighting and supplies. If the student does not spend time doing homework in their room then let that be a place for them to relax in a clean carefree healthy space.

 6. Do you personally expect the kid's rooms to be tidy every evening before they go to bed or is tidying once a week enough in your experience?

I think that depends on how much tidiness is important to the mom. I would think that you would want you kids room to be tidy and clean for your own satisfaction. I do. I like to clean up the room to set a good example for how we should live. Its' your home and you are in charge. If you child says "It is my room … Pick your battles. But I would point out the positive aspects of having a clutter free tidy room that they can hang out in and feel good about.

 7. How much input do you think that the parents should have when helping to keep kids organized? 

The parent should set up the systems and supply the tools to make the organization "user friendly". This means giving them a plastic container for their supplies, a drawer or basket for their papers and homework holder. Follow up daily or weekly. See what they need and mix things up if they are not working. Think of school as their job. Sometimes the supervisor or boss needs to give advice and input to make the project successful. School and students are not difference then Employer and employee. Your home and children are your most important assess. Protect, support and value their work and efforts.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Organizing A Move In

The Before and After Picture on the Left of this Blog is a example of what could be done in three hours of my organizing time during a move in. Today I had the pleasure of helping a newly divorced mother of two, unpack and de-clutter her living room. In just three short hours we were able to make a clear path and create some "living room" in her living room. The main idea here is to just keep what you really need and cherish, let go of the items and things that just don't fit into your new apartment and lifestyle. Begin with baby steps and realize that every step you make can make a difference when you stay focused, have your priorities set and think positive.