What TO DO with old TO DO lists

While working with clients on managing their paperwork and filing systems, and/or time management/productivity we often come across very old (meaning over a year) TO DO lists.To Do lists and what to do with them.

Are YOU haunted by these? Know they are out there lurking to challenge and shame you? I AM!!!

Here are some thoughts to guide you as you contemplate your next move against these demons.

Option #1: Look at them

Pros:

  • They can serve as a reminder about some still very important priorities that may have fallen off your daily and weekly planners. Scheduling the tasks back in your life can get you on track to achieve your goals.
  • They can give you a sense of accomplishment when you note what DID get done.
  • They can give you a GOOD LAUGH at the things you thought were urgent.
  • You can see that the world did not end because you were not able to get to a certain project.

Cons:

  • Viewing what did NOT get done can make you feel frustrated or ashamed or angry.
  • You are using time that might be better spent on doing your top 3 high priority tasks as you know them TODAY.

Option #2 Throw them out

Pros:

  • You avoid any negative emotions that might arise
  • You are able to move on from the past and be in the NOW

Cons:

  • You might miss out on a learning opportunity. Insights you might gain include:
    • That there are simply not enough hours in a day/week/month/year to do what we all yearn to do.
    • Accepting the concept of limits can be liberating.
    • Our to do lists are sometimes not in alignment with our core values and/or abilities.
    • We might be trying to prove something to ourselves and/or others and that might not be a good thing.
    • Perhaps we are avoiding confronting something that could stir up uncomfortable thoughts and feeling.

My recommendation:
Take an hour or two off and, armed with a legal pad or journal, bring those lists to a coffee shop/library or other secret hideaway. Review them in a loving, self-accepting way. Jot down any thoughts that arise.
Then, like you would with the old tub of cream cheese that is festering in the back of the frig, growing green and black molds, TOSS the old to do lists out.
Onward to what calls to you NOW!

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Avoid “Laundry Overwhelm” with Time-Saving Folding Tips

As a residential professional organizer, I visit lots of homes. One household system that is quick to fall apart and overwhelm a person is LAUNDRY.

I have strong opinions on laundry:
• dark and light clothing should be separated (my children do not all agree)
• “laundry” is not done until it is all put away

You don’t have to share those views, but I see on a weekly basis how the “putting away” is where the system breaks down. Most of us are pretty good starting the laundry process. There is an obvious and inevitable external motivation to wash clothes when one runs out of clean socks or underwear. Many people are also decent at shifting the wet clothes over to the dryer. The widespread access to timers on our phones has made this step particularly easy for even the “follow-through-challenged.”

I see “laundry overwhelm” during the next 2 points in the system:
1) clean but not yet folded clothes that remain clean…until they get mixed with dirty clothes or buried under other stuff
2) folded clothes in baskets — when not returned to dresser drawers or closets they clog bedrooms and hallways and hold laundry baskets hostage creating a problem for dirty clothes who remain “homeless”

If we focus on these 2 connected steps along the process: 1) folding and 2) putting away and employ task batching, the process goes smoother.

Task batching is a way to manage time and perform tasks in sets where the same mental effort and physical energy is used to maximize productivity and streamline a process.

Even if laundry is not the most stressful task, any project you can simplify will free up your mind for the heavy lifting of life. If you’re a procrastinator, my suggestion to task batch your folding and put away steps is good news! It decreases the distance between start and finish and builds in lots of manageable size “loads.” More, but smaller tasks to quickly complete, offer the satisfaction of a job well done!

Task Batching will decrease laundry time and increase productivity!

Take this example of table linens – out of the dryer and onto a folding surface.

Task Batched Folding Steps would look like this:

• Sort clean laundry into categories: if you mix loads from a whole household, your first sort job will be by person, then by category of clothing (socks, underwear, shirts that fold, shirts that hang, bottoms, work out clothing, pajamas…etc).

Time-Saving Laundry Tips - Step 1: Sort

Step 1: sort into categories: this load broke down into hand towels, dish towels and cloth napkins.

• Prep each category so it’s ready to be folded (right any clothes that are inside out or button collars).

• Fold each category separately – meaning one category at a time – preferably on a clean and flat surface.

Fold laundry by category.

• Do all of your folding at once.

  • When you sort by category you are also sorting by location and your folded piles are easy to put where they belong.
  • Put each category away in its right “home”.
Task Batching to streamline your laundry process.

Step 2: fold each mini pile as its own category.
Our cloth napkins need to be ironed so they’ll stay on the ironing board.
The other 2 folded piles will go into their appropriate drawers in the kitchen.

Will task batching your folding process solve all of your laundry dilemma’s? No — but folding by category allows you to delegate small pieces of the project to even the youngest helpers and lets others take pride in the smooth running of the household if you’re lucky enough to live with people who will “volunteer” or as in our household, be volunteered to help 🙂

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Don’t Put Off Handling Procrastination!

When it comes to dealing with clutter, are you like Scarlett O’Hara in the film classic, Gone with the Wind, always putting off disagreeable tasks until “tomorrow?”

End ProcrastinationHere are some strategies that can help. The example we’ll use applies them to paper clutter, but they can help you get moving on any clutter-busting project.

First of all, know when you’re not procrastinating, as these first three strategies address:

  • Start by asking yourself “Do I know what I should be doing?” If the answer is “No,” you’re not procrastinating — you’re becoming aware that you need more information. For example, do you need to ask your insurance agent what receipts should be saved in case of a catastrophic loss? Go get that information, and action will come easier.
  • Now ask yourself, “Is this a priority right now?” Important as staying on top of your paper is, if your elderly father is in danger of tripping over the clutter in the family room, you’re not procrastinating – you’re clarifying your priorities. Decide what the most important thing to do is right now, and action will follow.
  • Finally, ask yourself, “Do I have all the tools I need for the job?” In dealing with paper, these might include a file storage unit, hanging or manila folders, a good marker, and a bag for recycling. Make task #1 assembling the tools you need,

If you know deep down that you are procrastinating, these techniques can help get you unstuck:

  • Write down just a few specific steps for part of the project you’re putting off, for example:
    1. Throw away obvious junk mail.
    2. Assemble all unpaid bills.
    3. Set up a folder for tax documents

Often, seeing something concrete will get you moving, especially if you’re a visual person.

  • Talk to people about what you’re planning to do. “This is the year I get rid of my paper piles for good.” This will have three benefits:
    • Listening to yourself will help you get moving, especially if you’re an auditory person.
    • Those people will probably give you good ideas and/or encouragement.
    • Accountability will help you move into action, if only to avoid embarrassment.
  • Pick a step on your action list that involves physical movement or use of your hands. Ripping up outdated paperwork is good for this.If you are what education experts call a tactile-kinesthetic person, this will engage you, and further action is sure to follow.
  • Pick any task that will take no more than five to ten minutes, no matter how trivial it may seem:labeling file folders; shredding old bills. Promise yourself that you can stop when time is up.Chances are, you won’t want to stop, because momentum will start to build.
  • Take advantage of your current mood. If you feel like talking, make that phone call to your insurance agent. If you feel like writing, make your to-do list. If you feel like moving, drive to the office supplies store.
  • Reward yourself for doing a task you hate to do by combining it with something fun. Listen to your favorite music while you purge old files.Or give yourself the reward when the unpleasant task is done: “As soon as I’m finished going through these old medical records, I’ll invite my friend to meet for coffee.”

Don’t put off handling procrastination another minute! Pick the one strategy above that speaks loudest to you, and do it before you go to bed today.

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6 Spaces to Organize When You Move In

You’re packing to move and you can’t believe you own this much.

“Where did all this stuff come from anyway? How did it all fit in here in the first place? I can’t believe how long this is taking and how many boxes we have! AAAaahhhh!!!!”

Moving

Well, it’s true. When we pull everything out of its storage space, we can see the volume of what we really have. And, for those things that haven’t been seen or touched in years: much of it is astonishing.

“Cans of hairspray? Wait. I haven’t bought hairspray in a can in at least 2…uh, 5…oh, I don’t know – better throw that out. How did these shoes get back here? Man, they’re dusty. And sort of misshapen. Well, okay very misshapen. Nevermind. Out! And, wait. Do we really have 6 new containers of black pepper? Six? I had no idea. This will last us forever!”

NOW is your chance!

You are moving into a new home. Whether larger or smaller than your last, it’s an opportunity to get organized – right from the start! Here are 6 spaces to set up when you move in so you can get and stay organized:

Spice Storage: There are so many options for organizing spices that there is really no reason you need to fight to find what you need, have bottles and jars falling out onto you as you reach behind, or repurchase multiples of what you already have. Sterline Deluxe Roto Caddy

  • Sterline Cabinet Turntable – not your average space-hogging Lazy Susan. I use it in my own kitchen!
  • Mountable Spice Rack – let’s you utilize wall space or the inside of a cabinet door.
  • Rev-A-Shelf Spice-Drawer Insert – if you have the drawer space, this is a convenient and user-friendly idea.

Pantry: DIY or go the extra mile and get pro-installation. A pantry organizing system will be a delight to your family today and a great selling point tomorrow.

  • Shelf Genie – products that are made to fit, professionally installed and guaranteed to last.
  • Container Store Solutions – want to avoid adding anything permanent? Shelf bins and door racks can do the trick.

Under Sinks: Either in the kitchen or bathrooms, under sink storage will make ALL the difference. Enjoy the control and say goodbye to yucky under-sink messes!

Shoes: The struggle is real. First decide where you want to store them (By the entryway? In a closet? Under the bed? In the garage?) Then, reign them in.Shoe Space Saver

  • Container Store Stackable Shoe Shelves – perfect for inside a closet.
  • Target Standing Shoe Rack – a little overwhelming for a bedroom but a great for solution for garage entryway.
  • Amazon Shoe Space Savers – these little devises will cut your need for space in half!

Bedroom Closets: If you are renting a home, you may want to save money and purchase some temporary solutions that you can take with you when you move out. For homeowners, installing built-ins is the way to go.

  • Closets By Design – Go for it and get it done right!
  • Temporary & Portable Solutions – Not ready to commit? Try something less permanent.

Storage Area: Before you go building columns and walls of heavy boxes stacked one atop another; stop and think. This is what got you into the last mess of storage chaos. Is there room for some shelving? Is there ceiling or wall space to be taken advantage of?

  • AtticTracPlus – quick and easy to set up. Makes attic storage usable!
  • Garage Sense – Use ALL the space your garage has to offer and get things out from under your feet!
  • Basement – Simple shelving will do the trick.

Make the changes and don’t look back. Move in and Move on.

Disclaimer: products in this post are in no way endorsed or sold by NAPO©
Posted in Downsizing, Garage, General, Home, Move Management, Organizing, Organizing Products, Storage | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Organized…NOT Your Mother’s Wedding Registry

As a professional organizer, I have seen more than my fair share of wedding gifts…

But not exactly as you’d expect…

I see them years after the big day…

…in their original boxes,
…collecting dust,
…tucked away in a closet or in storage.

Think ice cream maker (sure, sounds super fun but…), bread maker, fine china, crystal…

In recent years, there has been a real shift in registry selections, a move from traditional household items towards experiences, accessories to fuel their hobbies and lifestyle while still embracing good old gift cards, but to new locales, services.

As a professional organizer, I LOVE that modern, engaged couples are choosing to pack their registries with low clutter or clutter-free options!

So how can you, as a newlywed, plan a better registry with functional (and fun) items you’ll use and love vs those that you won’t? Check out our practical tips to your best wedding registry.

3 Practical Questions To Ask When Planning Your Registry

Does This Make Sense With Our Lifestyle?
Think about your lifestyle right now, as a couple. Do you love to make elaborate meals together, entertain family & friends? Or are you a couple who orders Hello Fresh or prefers to eat out due to busy schedules? How necessary is an 8-piece professional knife set or a Cuisinart Dual Blade 8qt Mixer or the 10-piece mixing bowl set if you have a compact kitchen? Are you planning to start a family right away or is travel and entertainment on your immediate agenda?

Think about what fits your lifestyle as a couple. For example, my husband was a chef, in a previous life, so the kitchen tools we received as wedding gifts have been well-loved & well-used over the years! So DO register for what you love…whether it’s cooking or entertaining, camping or traveling!

If you’re already keeping your life simple, don’t clutter up your kitchen or other spaces with big bulky items you’ll use once or never at all.

What Do We Already Have?
If you and your soon-to-be spouse lived in separate homes before getting married, now is the perfect time to see what you already have for your new space. Put everything where you want it. You may find that your future spouse already has a brand new Kitchen Aid Mixer and a set of glass mixing bowls, so no need to register for them. Have extra towels? Set some aside for guests.

Now you’ll have a great idea of…

…what you’re missing or might need,
…what is on its last legs and needs to be replaced,
…what items are duplicates and can be donated or passed along to a friend.

Repeat this process in every room in your home – declutter, evaluate, and adjust your registry accordingly.

But make no mistake…merging households could require quite a bit of decluttering…definitely more so than starting from scratch.

What Would Our Future Selves Do?
Your wedding registry is all about your future, so fast forward…5, 10, 15 years…

Do you see yourself using that must have juicer?
Are those higher thread count sheets really a priority?
Do you really need a 6-slice toaster or should you opt for nicer everyday towels?
Will being married motivate you to make your own bread?
Will you ever really host formal dinners that require fine china & crystal?

As someone who has been married for 15 years, I can tell you that, over the years, we’ve donated at least half of our wedding gifts…for one reason or another. Remember less is more so don’t overdo it…but get what you love to make your house a home! Good luck!

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Earth Day Ideas from a Professional Organizer

Recycle Tree

Spring is finally springing up all around us, daffodils are blooming and the forsythia is blossoming into that amazing yellow color.

April Is The Month of Renewal

Easter and Passover are a time of new beginnings. April is also the month we celebrate the earth. Earth Day began in Philadelphia in 1970 (Belmont Plateau anyone?). In the organizing and productivity industry, we consider every day Earth Day! When we work with clients on a home organizing project, we teach our clients about recycling. There is so much that we recycle to help preserve our earth. Here are some of the resources that we use to locate the most appropriate place to donate and recycle in our area:

  • Rubbish: Your county, township, and trash hauler are your primary resources – their websites have information on what you need to recycle, how it needs to be prepared and when their hazardous waste and recycling events are (usually in the spring and fall).
  • ReSale: Selling things is another form of recycling, Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor.com are easy and local. You can offer things for FREE on these sights as well.
  • RecycleGoogle.com “what you want to recycle+ your zip code” will help you find more resources. Earth911 – This is an informative website that also has lists of locations that accept all types of material for recycling by your zip code.
    Freecycle – This is a community board where you can post items that you no longer want and hopefully there is someone out there who is looking for what you want to move on to a better home. I found a woman who needed notebooks, I had tons of notebooks…she came by and picked them up one day! Out of my office! Professional organizer favorite. Grocery Stores – are great places to recycle those pesky plastic bags. Whole Foods -currently has containers for corks, plastic, and cell phones Mom’s Organic Market– the most comprehensive in our area has drop off bins for: bar wrappers, Brita filters, cell phones, batteries, drink pouches, food squeeze pouches, glasses, health & beauty packaging, cork, plastic and shoes- they also have other collections for specific items throughout the year, Christmas lights is a popular one. Staples and Best Buy take most electronic recycling. Goodwill– recycles electronics and fabric
  • Shredding: There are shredding events weekly in many locations- check local websites or do an online search for “shredding + your zip code”. Staples and your local UPS Store have shredding services
  • Donate:
    • Local Libraries– accept books and other media. Do not give them old text books, encyclopedias or VHS tapes that you recorded from your TV. Call your library to double check.
    • Habitat for Humanity -These folks use your donations to raise capital for their projects. I have had them pick up a jacuzzi, doors, furniture and windows. Call your local store because what they accept changes depending on what they have in stock, sometimes they will pick up.
    • Clothing and household goods including small furniture can be donated to Goodwill, Green Drop, various veterans groups, your local hospital and thrift shops.
  • Hazardous Waste: Local townships and counties regularly hold Hazardous Waste collection events. Check their websites. This is a guide for South Eastern PA. Look carefully at what is accepted.

These organizations will pick up from your home:

Consignment stores are an option as well.

However currently there is an abundance of stuff that people are getting rid of, they are very picky, so what you try to consign has to be in very good condition.

Finally, there are many auction houses that have niches that may meet your needs.

Depending on what you have there is usually an auction house or specialty sale that items can go to. When you sell at auction houses and consignment shops there is a fee usually between 30% and 50%.

Be kind to our earth…

 

Posted in Consignment, Donating, healthy living, Organizing, Recyling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment