Author: Vali HeistClutter General Goal Setting Home Organizing Procrastination Time Management

Happy National Get Organized Month

"Happy New Year" decorated slogan

Let me be the first to wish you Happy National Get Organized Month! I saw a sign hanging in Lowe’s that said “Resolve to Declutter” and it was surrounded by a colorful array of storage containers. It’s that time of year when many of us look around our homes and ask “Where did all this stuff come from?” Taking the first step and staying organized can be daunting, but if you think you are alone, you are not. Here are ten barriers that keep my clients from starting and staying organized. Let’s break it down:

  1. Don’t have the time. Time won’t magically appear when you want to achieve something. Use a day planner or your smart phone to schedule the time to organize, have fun, or accomplish something great. When you do, there is suddenly time to be spontaneous!
  2. Allowing others to dictate your schedule. I’m not talking about going out and having fun, but I am talking about setting boundaries so others don’t infringe upon your personal time to get your own life in order.
  3. You aren’t good at organizing. Some people need more practice than others and developing a habit takes at least 30 days to make it stick. Use books and websites to help.
  4. Staying focused. Our brains aren’t wired to stay on task so use cues, rewards, or a stop watch. Use whatever you deem necessary to stay focused on the project at hand.
  5. Perfectionism. If it can’t be perfect why start at all? If that sounds familiar, start small and celebrate small accomplishments. Practice saying the words “good enough.”
  6. Too much clutter or CRAP: Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure. If your things do not bring you joy, pleasure, usefulness, or life to your home, it should leave your home.
  7. Once and done should do it. All homes need maintenance to remain organized week after week, but if you have a home for everything, cleanup will be a breeze.
  8. The voices around you. Don’t allow others to make you feel bad about not being able to get organized yourself. Ignore the naysayers and enlist a friend or call a professional.
  9. House isn’t big enough. The size or layout of a home isn’t always the issue. Organization methods, storage tools, and less clutter will usually do the trick.
  10. Health issues. Even if you have the desire, you may not have the ability or the energy to do what is needed to get organized. Enlist help.

If you or someone you love needs help moving forward in the New Year, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a professional: a cleaning service, a senior care agency, financial planner, insurance broker, senior move management company, or a professional organizer. Professionals are trained to listen and narrow in on your specific needs. They can give you a jump start or much needed tools to help you or someone you love live their best life.

Clutter Quote: “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” Henry David Thoreau

Author: Anna SicalidesDocument Management Donating Family Filing General Goal Setting Home Office Organizing Productivity Receipts Tax Prep

I Love the End of the Year!

I look at the last week of the year as a super productive week since I am not scheduled to work, and I can spend time getting myself ready for the new year. I want to be as organized as possible before January 5, 2015, which is my first day back to work! Below is a list of suggestions that may help you start your new year off a bit more organized.

Donations Donation-Tips 1
-If you want to maximize your donations for the 2014 tax year, take one more look through your closets, bookshelves, cabinets, attics, basements and garages to pull anything out that needs to be donated. Children’s toys and books are usually a gold mine for most donation establishments.
-After the holidays, as you integrate your new gifts, take stock of your duplicates, triplicates or otherwise unwanted things that can be better utilized by others.
-Keep in mind that you shouldn’t wait until December 31 to drop off your donations, because if the center hits their capacity level, they may stop accepting donations.
-Some donation centers will pick up your unwanted goods as long as you are on their schedule. Some donation center choices are GreenDrop, Vietnam Veterans of America, The Salvation Army, and Impact Thrift Stores.
-Make your final online cash donations as soon as possible since you don’t want to get stuck with slow or crashing websites at the last minute.

Files Files
-Assuming that you have them, the end of the year is a great time to purge your old files and create new ones.  If you need help creating a filing system, a professional organizer can help. You can go to the ‘Find an Organizer’ tab at the top of this page.
-Go through your 2014 bills, pull them out of their files, and clip or band them together if you are going to need them for your taxes. If you don’t need them for your taxes, I would suggest shredding anything that has personal information or account numbers. Most of my clients shred their department store bills and hold onto some of their utility bills for another year (I think they just want the security of having them…just in case).
– A filing cabinet or file box are both great choices to keep your files organized and accessible.
-If you scan your bills and receipts, remember to create new files on your computer.

Hopefully, there is something here that will help you start 2015 off with a little more organization in your world.

Author: Ellen TozziFamily General Goal Setting Organizing Productivity Time Management


Ellen Tozzi picAlthough we tend to hear a lot about the importance of time and task management, more often than not, there is a more effective approach, and that is in the way we manage our CHOICES. Choices are made daily and affect every aspect of our day. Some examples are:
-What to do next
-What to say
-What to eat

Many things dictate and influence our decisions such as our intuition, our subconscious, outside deadlines, ease of choice, and pain vs. pleasure just to name a few. How many decisions are made by default, rather than by design? Also, what criteria is best to use when making choices?

The easiest way to make healthy, wise choices is to have clear-set goals. Knowing what you want to accomplish or achieve, setting a time-frame to achieve said goals, and asking yourself if your choices are taking you closer to your goals or moving you farther away from them is a step in the right direction.

Although it is not ideal, letting external deadlines dictate our actions is certainly one way to manage time and tasks. We are forced to focus on that ONE task in order to meet the deadline, but when this happens, we are reactive and not proactive. While it helps to eliminate making choices, it adds unnecessary stress.

Instead, I have found that what works for me is if I ‘check in’ with myself throughout the day and ask if what I am doing is the most effective behavior to meet my goals. The goals might be to maintain good health, grow my business, be in touch with friends and family, give back to the community or create life balance. Sometimes, I catch myself making decisions that may not be the best choice, such as a glass of wine instead of a workout on the treadmill. I check in with myself and confirm that I do want to make good choices and make a mental note be more mindful. For instance, I can work out and then have a glass of wine!

I invite you to think about the choices you make and to compare them to your goals. Are they in alignment? If not, what choices can you make to make a change? Remember, all it takes is ‘baby steps’ to come closer to achieving your goals?

Author: Ellen FayeDocument Management Electronic Organizing General Goal Setting Home Office Productivity Time Management

How High Performers Get Their Important Work Done

So much to do for busy professionals.Every email that comes in is an opportunity.  Every Facebook article is a worthwhile read. Every free 60 page ebook is a life saver. But come on now, if you read everything you could read you would NEVER BE DONE and on top of that YOU WOULD NEVER GET TO WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT.

I’ve been a long-time advocate for short and sweet, so I always try to keep everything I share manageable and digestible in 5 minutes or less. That’s what I can do for you.

What can you do for yourself?

  1. Delete email articles you didn’t ask for: Just say no – Let them go
  2. Disregard free or low cost deals you don’t have time to use: Just say no – Let them go
  3. Ignore electronic chain letters and social media games – no the baby bunnies in your yard won’t turn into mutant ninja rodents and take over your life: Just say no – Let them go
  4. Skip networking events with people that don’t match your target market: Just say no – Let them go
  5. Don’t attend free webinars and classes that have nothing to do with your short-range priorities: Just say no – Let them go

If you choose to spend your time on things that just pop up and come your way you will NEVER get to the work you want to do. To be a high performer be clear on what is important and spend your time on what matters. All the rest?  JUST SAY NO – LET THEM GO.

Author: Vali HeistGarage General Goal Setting Home Seasonal Storage

Organize your Gardening and Enjoy the Process

bright flowers put a smile on any garden setting.

Finding the time and energy to garden has been a challenge for me in the past few years. Our property seems to be getting bigger or am I getting older? Regardless of the reason, I’m not willing to give up the great exercise and satisfaction I get from planting my garden, so I need to get more organized to get it done. I also have to be satisfied with an hour or two here and there instead of a full day of gardening. After I planted my garden last year, I took pictures of the planters and the gardens and made a list of the plants I bought at the local nurseries.

Our garden shed was built on top of an old outhouse and frankly it could withstand a hurricane. It has a waist high counter and wooden shelving. We used leftover linoleum flooring from the kitchen for the floor. It’s just the right size to hold the following:

  • gardening gloves and ball caps in a closed plastic container
  • small gardening tools-store in plastic carrier or basket with a handle
  • gardening planters
  • folding lawn furniture stored under the counter
  • gazing ball and stone statues for the garden
  • rod iron poles for hanging baskets, plant and tomato stakes, and long tools (small shovel, rake, edger)-stored in 5 gallon plastic bucket with metal part up
  • items to decorate my screened-in porch
  • flower seeds and bulbs in a metal container
  • leftover potting soil in 5 gallon plastic bucket with a lid

In the spring:

  • Use 5 gallon plastic bucket with handle to pull out weeds.
  • Pull everything out of the shed and sweep it out (mice and chipmunks have made their winter homes in my shed).
  • Take plants out of the garden that died over the winter.
  • Throw out older seeds and bulbs that didn’t make the winter.
  • Divide perennial plants if too big and share with your neighbors or replant in other parts of your garden to save money.
  • Move other plants around to fill in where plants died or didn’t come up.
  • Using pictures from last year, I bought plants and vegetables and planted the planters and the gardens.

In the fall after the first killing frost:

  • Fall is for planting, so buy perennials on sale and fill in where plants didn’t live.
  • Don’t forget to call 811 before you dig too deep to prevent damage to electric lines and natural gas pipelines.
  • Wash out the planters and store in shed.
  • Store leftover seeds and bulbs in metal containers
  • Donate any ceramic planters or recycle plastic containers you didn’t use

After plants have been hit by frost, I like to fill in with fall décor so it doesn’t look so empty. I use some of the more colorful pots I emptied to hold mums and fill in with straw bales, pumpkins, cornstalks and gourds. Organize your gardening so it’s a pleasure, not a chore.

Clutter Tips:

  • Don’t store 9 volt batteries against each other or other batteries. They can spark and cause a fire.
  • When you clear the clutter in medicine cabinets donate unused and unexpired medical supplies, to C.U.R.E., c/o Mission Central, 5 Pleasant View Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050.

Green Tips:

  • Latex paint disposal: equal parts kitty litter and latex paint. Let sit for one hour and throw in garbage.
  • Make the switch to permanent water bottles instead of putting plastic into our oceans. Even recycling plastic bottles produces toxins.
Author: Vali HeistClutter Digital Apps Electronic Organizing Filing General Goal Setting Home Organizing Project Management Time Management

Happy National Get Organized Month!

clip0001Happy New Year and Happy National Get Organized Month! I always set a few goals for myself and my business each New Year and organizing certainly plays a key role in accomplishing those goals. Over the years clients have asked for my assistance for many different reasons including New Year’s resolutions.

On the other hand, those resolutions are often derailed because “life happens.” Whether you are ready or not, you could lose your job, suffer through an illness, or deal with a divorce. You can’t always be prepared for the ups and downs of life, but being organized can help. Here are my ten organization basics to help you handle the uncertainties of life and achieve those pesky resolutions you are so adamant in keeping. Let’s break it down:

If it takes less than 60 seconds, do it! Whether it’s putting bills away, making a quick phone call, adding a number to your phone, sending a quick email, do it! Take seconds now or hours later.

A home for everything. Finding a home means you know where to put it when it gets misplaced and when you need it — it’s there!

Choose a time management tool. Use a day planner or smartphone to keep track of appointments, tasks lists, self-appointments, and vacation plans.

Keep lists. Use your time management tool for all lists: clothing, household items, food, gifts, etc. Keep sizes and dimensions on the list. Lists save time and money and no more buying things twice (you aren’t the only one).  

Consolidate contact information. Gather mailing addresses, emails, and phone numbers and place them in your time management tool. No more little pieces of paper and sticky notes all over the place.

Convenience is the key. No digging and no searching. Place things where you use them; keep most-used items front and center — no pushing other things aside to get to what you need.

Focus! Small and large task completion requires focus. Break down any large task into smaller, manageable pieces and stay focused: one bite at a time.

Know what to eliminate. Surround yourself with tasks, events, and people who support your goals. Eliminate the rest and learn to say “no” (I have a handout on my website).

Consult the experts. Don’t reinvent the wheel; ask friends for recommendations and referrals; consult the Internet (but don’t believe everything you read); and then trust your judgment.

Maintenance! Things will get out of order (even in my home), so do a little each evening or once a week in order to keep it that way. Have respect for yourself, your time, and your home. Every time you put something away, it’s a gift to yourself.

Whether you are making resolutions are just trying to smooth out life’s bumps in the road, get organized! You’ll be glad you did.

Clutter Quote: “God takes care of the breath of your life; it is your responsibility to take care of the depth of your life.” Unknown