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Author: Annette ReymanBack To School Clutter Education Family General Goal Setting healthy living Home Organizing Productivity Time Management Tips

Take Some “Me” Time – Now

Ahhhh, can you hear it? Stop. Listen closely. Is that the sound of an empty house? Oh my goodness! Are you actually at home – alone? That’s right folks. The kids are back to school and that morning cup of coffee hasn’t tasted this good in almost longer than you can remember.

Thank you Fall for showing up – right in time to save us from completely losing any semblance of sanity! While you sit for an extra 5 minutes, enjoying the sound of silence and taking another sip-o’-joe, you may begin to look around.

What you are looking at is the aftermath of summer:

  • Collections of odd paraphernalia from summer crafts
  • Flotsam and jetsam of beach and pool excursions (Wait. Whose towels are those?)
  • Outgrown and short-lived children’s summer clothing and shoes
  • Vacation pamphlets and souvenirs

Amidst everyone else’s debris, there are some of your own items that need attention, yet it’s hard to know which and where they are. Here are 3 suggestions from a Professional Organizer and mom of three grown children:

  1. Pamper yourself. You made it through the summer. You planned and chaperoned and hosted and entertained. And now that everyone is back to their normal routines, start your autumn out by putting a date on the calendar for you. Get a massage. A manicure. Go out to lunch. Take time to get yourself settled down and focused for the season ahead.
  2. Make a List. The start of a new season comes with a host of tasks, commitments and appointments. Go through each area of responsibility in your mind and write it ALL down on your list. Doing this type of “brain dump” will help you capture everything while you are able to quietly focus. Getting it onto paper and out of your head will also relieve stress and help with better sleep. So, before you jump in and start running from one new event to the next, have an extra sip of coffee and take 10 minutes to write down a list of everything that needs your time and attention:
    1. Home – are there any service people that you need to call – plumber? electrician? roofer?
    2. Car – is there an inspection due? Do you need to replace your windshield wipers? Is an oil change needed?
    3. Medical – do you or any other family member need a doctor or dentist appointment?
    4. Organizations – do you belong to any organizations that require your attention; PTA? Church? School? Club?
  3. Clear your space. An organized space will help with clearing not just your environment but also your head. Organize an entire room or just one work area. Set things up the way you want them to be and allow your environment to support your productivity.

Take these three small steps and enter Fall confidently prepared to harvest the rewards of the season.

Author: Ellen TozziClutter Education General Hoarding Organizing Safety Seasonal Tips

EEEK! A MOUSE!

As autumn approaches, mice look for warm homes with food and water in which to hunker down for the winter. Don’t let one of those homes be yours! At a recent NAPO-GPC* meeting, pest expert Dr. Dion Lerman shared tips on how to prevent, eliminate and clean up after those little rodents.  Here are answers to questions you might not have known you had:

Are mice a health concern?

  • Mice are a health concern because they contribute to allergies and asthma
  • 83% of all homes contain mice allergens; 95% of low-income homes
  • The allergens are found in their urine

How do the rascals get in?

  • Under doors if there is a gap that is ¼” high (if a pencil can fit under a door, a mouse can fit)
  • Through holes in the exterior of the house (if a hole is the size of a dime, a mouse can fit)
  • Inside in corners, floors, closets, basements, openings around pipes, etc.

Where in the house do the critters live?

  • Mice generally nest 30 to 50 feet from food and water
  • They can live in wall voids, cabinets, under sinks, attics, basements, sheds … you name it
  • You can detect them by their droppings (or by the behavior of your pets)

How can one prevent them from coming in?

  • Install door sweeps on doors with gaps
  • Stuff openings with steel wool or copper pot-scrubbers as tightly as possible and seal with silicone caulk
  • Eliminate accessible food and water
  • Keep the home clean and decluttered
  • Use plastic bins with snap lids for storage (bins containerize items and makes clean up easier, should they enter)

What’s the best way to get rid of mice?

  • Use snap traps with peanut butter as bate
  • If successful, wear rubber/nitrile gloves, put dead mouse in resealable bag, then in plastic grocery bag and put in trash.  Disinfect surrounding area and trap if you want to reuse it.
  • Do NOT use poison in the house!  Avoid sticky pads.

What’s the best way to safely clean up after the critters?

  • Wear rubber/nitrile gloves, mist mouse droppings and urine with a 1:10 solution of water and bleach; let soak for five minutes
  • Wipe up with paper towels and dispose of them
  • Wipe again with a disinfectant or bleach solution

As with most things in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Author: Darla PompilioGeneral Organizing Productivity Time Management Time Management

Creating Mental Clarity in Your Business & Personal Life

Mental clarity begins with having the space, time and freedom to focus on what’s important to you.

Let’s start with what happens when you have a lack of organized space. Disorganization creates a feeling of being crowded and out of control of your things, which leads to lack of mental clarity.

Organizing tips to help free your mind.

Let’s take a personal poll:

1) Do you spend too much time looking for your stuff?
2) Do you feel like you are always in a rush?
3) Do you feel like your space does not support what you want to accomplish?

If any of the these sound familiar, then imagine your work space right now. Perhaps it is your desk or another place where you do most of your mental work, you know, the stuff that you need to get done every day. Take a moment and imagine you sitting down, about to get to work on a big project.

How do you feel about this space?

Do you feel like it is inviting you in and you are excited to get your work done or are you repelled by what it looks like? A space that repels, doesn’t support you to do your best work. A space that is inviting creates calm and clarity and allows you to be productive.

Creating an inviting, supportive space is different for each person. Yet, it comes down to the same thing for everyone. Choose to surround yourself with only things that you need and you love. That’s hard to do, because we all get attached to our stuff, however; when you create more space by having less stuff, you will feel more focused and in control.

Our second area to consider is Time.

While there is no end to the amount of information about how to manage time, I would strongly argue that it’s not about managing time, it’s about managing tasks. The difficulty comes from having too many tasks. Our plates are full with things to do all the time and this leads to brain fog, overwhelm and that feeling of being out of control.

Have you had one of those crazy busy days; where you’re running around doing a hundred different tasks and spending half that time attempting to do more than one task at a time? This is how we fall into the fallacy of multi-tasking. By the end of the day, you end up feeling exhausted and wondering what you did all day.

The solution is to create a system. And if you are rolling your eyes or shaking you head because you tried a system and it did not work, try again. Systems are NOT a one-size fits all solution. You often have to try different ones and one of the keys is to know what does and does not work for you. You need a system customized for you according to how you think, live and work.

Which brings us to Freedom.

Ah, Freedom- even the word sounds nice. When you have too much stuff surrounding you or you have too much to think about, freedom is the last thing you have. Instead you experience confusion, chaos and a lack of control. None of us wants that in our lives. This is the opposite of freedom and definitely does not give us mental clarity.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Mental clarity comes from creating a physical space that allows you to feel supported because you have surrounded yourself with stuff that you need and that brings you joy. Clarity comes from having a system to organize your tasks so you feel in control of how you spend your time. The knowledge that you are in control of your space and time creates FREEDOM. And at the end of the day, each of us wants the clarity and freedom to create the life and business that we truly want.

Author: Tiffany BregoviDocument Management Electronic Organizing General Home Office Tax Prep

You Too Can Stay Organized for Tax Season!

It’s that time of year, friends, when one of the only two certain things in life looms large: taxes.

As a kid, April 15 was a holiday in our house. It was the day my accountant mother could breathe again after over 3 long months of helping her clients. I may have learned a thing or two along the way, so I’m happy to share some tips on how to get organized before heading to your accountant’s office, or, if you’re one of those brave souls who tackles the task on your own, before you sit down at the kitchen table amid a sea of paperwork. In either case, the key is starting early… as in January 1 early.

How to Prep to File your Income Taxes

Taxes can get pretty complicated depending on what kind of return you have to file. Do you have a business? Dependents? Itemized deductions? There are already a lot of great sources of information out there about which documents and information you need to gather. Instead, let’s focus on how to move through this year proactively so that when April 2020 rolls around, you won’t be scrambling to find all this documentation.

Start a System

The first thing you should do is have a dedicated folder where you can file any paperwork that you may need come next April.

  • Create folders for:
    • Tax Documents
    • Personal Receipts
  • If you are self-employed, you should create additional folders for:
    • Business Documents
    • Business Receipts

Execute the System

Know which documents you need to keep in each folder and make lists. If you need help with this, your tax preparer should be able to help you create a customized list based on how you file and the specifics of your financial architecture. Otherwise, here’s a great general resource: https://www.rgbrenner.com/resources/what-do-i-bring-to-my-tax-appointment/

Attach these lists to the front of each folder. Cross off items as they go into the folder.
Documents come in all year, so this is a great way to keep yourself informed at a glance. A few notes:

  • Things like property taxes may show up early in the year.
  • Income statements start arriving in the mail or your inbox in January.
  • Some personal receipts worth saving are:
    • Records of cash donations to religious institutions, schools & other charities
    • Records on non-cash charitable donations
    • Unreimbursed job-related expenses (e.g., travel, tools, cell phone charges, uniform cost/cleaning, luggage, services fees, trade journals, meals & entertainment)
    • Job search/moving expenses¹
  • For your business, you’ll want to save receipts for EVERYTHING, such as:
    • Advertising
    • Equipment & supplies
    • Meals & travel
    • Continuing education & professional development
    • Books & research materials
    • Dues & memberships
    • Subscriptions

Maintain the System

Now that you’re filing, try to stay ahead of the record-keeping by doing it monthly. This effort will help both you and your accountant simplify the process come March or April, so you don’t have to scramble to collect all the information and dollar amounts in a last-minute rush.

Pick your poison to start an electronic or written file for keeping records of expenses. I’m a lover of Excel, but some folks prefer Word or even handwritten lists. If you’re in the latter camp, I recommend buying a dedicated ledger book to record line items. Keep separate files for personal and business. Once a month, go through your saved receipts and enter them into your record. Remember to categorize the type of expense for each receipt.

————

As you can see, it’s all about establishing a system that you can easily maintain throughout the year with minimal effort. It’s so easy to get behind with all the personal and professional obligations we balance. If we can stay aligned with the system and find an hour a month to maintain it, then when that April 15 holiday inevitably rolls around again, we can face it head-on with confidence and careful preparation.

¹ https://www.rgbrenner.com/resources/what-do-i-bring-to-my-tax-appointment/

Author: Kelly GalfandClutter General healthy living Home Organizing Room Transformation Small Spaces Storage Tips

Do Organizers Practice What They Preach?

If you’ve ever wondered, do organizers really practice what they preach?
I am here to say, YES! In my case, I follow 4 basic rules*:

1. Decide where things live
2. Return items to their “home”
3. Follow In One/Out One
4. Build routines around maintaining systems

The third rule, In One/Out One, is the least appreciated and most neglected by our clients, even though it offers the best defense against clutter build-up.

Here’s a personal story of how it recently went down in my house.

First you have to know that I LOVE citrus. Fresh lemon juice goes into every salad dressing. Fresh lime juice refreshes most fruit bowls. Many of my fish recipes require fresh lemon, lime or orange juice. So my juicer has been a staple in my kitchen. I love that it not only does a great job, it also attaches to a measuring cup – which makes it easy to know when I have enough.

Pictured below on the left, it had a primo spot in my most accessible gadget drawer just below my prep counter. Until…

My husband, an aspiring minimalist, bought me a new juicer. He had researched to get me “the perfect gift.” I was skeptical, even though for him to buy something it MUST be great. I could not imagine HOW anything could replace my beloved juicer.

 

It would have to at least be:
• super easy to use
• simpler to clean

Well, my new citrus press is all that AND bold and bright. In being so colorful — I smile every time I see it.

But it took me some time to let go of my trusted fave…2 weeks, in fact. I call it the testing time. Some “old” items deserve this reflective time.

Honestly, it took me a week to open the package and try the new “citrus press.” I felt like I was cheating on my trusted go-to.

Once, I tried it, I set an alarm on my calendar to remind me to “consider if keeping new juicer” and a few days later “decide if still need old juicer.”

When you replace something, even if you are committed to In One Out One, you don’t HAVE to let go immediately. But you must put a time limit on making your decision. (It’s too easy for items to stagnate, clog your drawers and attract more clutter.)

Since I was using these gadgets daily, it didn’t take long to know I was in love. As for my “old” juicer, it still has life left in it. My son is a decent cook at college — so guess who just inherited a new fave? 🙂 When he graduates, I will gift him his very own citrus press!

* Remember I said these were 4 rules that I think every Professional Organizer follows?
It’s true of any organized person.
• You don’t have to be a professional organizer to be organized.
• Some people are MORE organized than their organizer (GASP!)
Yes…it’s true. Not every organizer is the MOST organized person you’ll ever meet.
• Professional Organizers know how to help YOU solve your organizational overwhelms and clutter-crisis.

Author: Cindy EddyFamily General healthy living Holistic Home Organizing Project Management Time Management Tips

Helping our Kids

 

I am a parent of two older teens, one in the first year of college and one in the later years of high school. As an organizer, my kids grew up with structure and routine, in hopes of them learning to be organized as adults. Our home was organized, our mornings ran fairly smoothly, and homework was completed without any issues. There were a few sticky points, such as screen time and bed time, but for the most part, our daily lives ran smoothly overall.

Now that they are older, the organizer mom in me still wants to help them be the most efficient they can be. But the cognitive side of my brain knows that now is the time to let go, and let them make their own decisions. I should only help them when they ask me for it. However, it is very difficult for me to sit back and watch them make mistakes such as scheduling two events for the same time, or running late for something. But I know the only way they will learn is by my stepping back and giving them the control to manage their own time, schedules, and things. They will make mistakes, and learn from them.

As hard as this is for me to let things go, I am getting better at it. I still sometimes find myself jumping in when I shouldn’t, and they both let me know when I am intervening where I shouldn’t be. I just take note of this, and try to not make that mistake again in the future.

I am sure I am not alone, being a parent during this transitional time. I wish all of you the inner strength and patience to step back, and let your teens develop into the wonderful young adults we all want them to be!