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Author: Anna SicalidesClutter Donating Holidays Home Office Organizing Productivity Project Management Storage Time Management Time Management Tips

Post Holiday Thoughts

In between holidays, most of us aren’t working…a great use of some of that free time is to get a little organizational housekeeping out of the way. Here are some great, easy steps you can do to start 2019 off on the right foot!

December 31 is the deadline for getting all of your donations together, whether it be financial or stuff. With the new tax laws in place, try tracking donations using It’s Deductible to easily track what has been donated. If it is stuff you want to donate don’t wait until the 31st. I have seen donation centers unable to accept items toward the very end of the year.

Do you look at your holiday cards every season and have no idea who you need to send them to?

This is the time to update your 2019 Holiday Card List! Document who you sent cards to and who you received them from. Keep a record so that you can just pull out your list next year and start addressing. You can do that on a spreadsheet or if you really want to be ahead of the game, you can make a document for your labels so that all you have to do next year is “edit” and ‘print”, easy peasy.

Do you find old gift cards all over your house? Gather your gift cards together in one place so that you can easily find them. If you have a lot, put them in an envelope and label it with the cards you have.  This will help save you from letting them expire. Use them before the restaurants that you have them for go out of business (this happened to me this year). I made a reservation and the next day they closed, annoying.

Put your Christmas decorations away properly.

Give away any decorations that you haven’t used in a while. Decorating time will be more pleasant next year if you are only dealing with pieces you really love.
Store the things you love in nice containers that reflect their value to you, There are great containers for wrapping paper, ribbons, wreaths, ornaments, dishware, glassware. Check out The Container Store, Amazon and Frontgate for a wide selection, but don’t wait too long they sell out.

Paper Clear Out
One thing my clients do (actually I do it for them) is to pull all of this year’s bills, receipts and other documents out of their files, we separate the tax documents for the accountant and the most of others get tossed/shredded/filed. The result: clean files ready for the New year to begin and all your papers are gathered for your accountant…yes!

Thoughts for the New Year
Take some time for yourself to review this year’s events (use the photos on your phone to quickly do this).
What was great about this year?
What would have made it a better year?
How can you make the New Year better?

And finally….For ribbons, bow, cards and other miscellaneous items try the Organize It All Christmas.
For your special ornaments try Snapware Snap ‘N Stack Square Layer Seasonal Ornament Storage Container
For your LED lights these are great and they stack very well Christmas Light Storage Wheels with Bag
For your Christmas china and wine glasses we suggest Household Essentials Dinner Plate Holiday Storage Chest
Wine Glasses
Saucers
Dessert Plates and Small Bowls

Author: ellentreucohenFamily healthy living Holidays Home Seasonal Shopping

HOLIDAY GIFT-GIVING

I used to think I was very clever whenever I advised people about gift giving for special occasions and holidays. I would always suggest that when selecting gifts for people who actually have material plenty to give beautiful “disposables.” I observed that wonderful self-destructive options abound: wines, beautiful candles, delightful oils, luscious baked goods and candies, elegant lotions, fancy soaps…You see what I mean. And they don’t last forever! What a great idea!
Then, I started to discover that many of my clients – people who were trying their best to de-clutter – were given so many of the very disposables I routinely suggested that I couldn’t imagine how many lifetimes would be needed to use up all these treasures. It is possible to overdo absolutely anything.
So, what to do?? Depending on the closeness of the relationships, perhaps some frank discussions are possible. Can your entire extended family happily agree to pool money and go somewhere really special? Would treating someone to a lovely dinner or show be a delightful novelty? Someone else might love a membership or a day at the zoo or a favorite museum. Maybe the whole family would chip in to hire a chef or caterer to create a marvelous holiday dinner, so no one has the stress of cooking, hosting, or cleanup.

 

This year, really think about and talk about your gifts. So many of us are truly overloaded with objects, but would benefit from a certificate for a manicure, a massage, dog-walking services, baby-sitting, or perhaps a lovely outing to a tea shop for a long talk with you.

There are also gift cards and certificates for companies where your friend or relative will truly benefit from some extra freedom to choose something they need. One of my clients was actually given a generous check made out to her Professional Organizer! Moved by the friend’s thoughtfulness, the organizer (me) gave the client extra time.

Especially in the midst of all the natural disasters surrounding us, would your loved ones be thrilled (and relieved) if you made a charitable donation in their honor?

You can see where I’m going with this: make this a year of thinking outside the box with gifts that don’t go in a box at all. The key to success with these plans is the gift of intimacy, your shared comfort in discussing your true preferences, ideas, and suggestions.

Happy Holidays!

Author: Carla ShipmanGeneral Holidays Seasonal

Tablescape with Love

One of many things I love about the holidays is that it brings family, friends and people together. I’m appreciative of all that I’m blessed with and love blessing others. My most favorite is spending time with those I love and cherish. We hosted Thanksgiving at our home this year. We stood in a circle and talked about what we are grateful for and the importance of leaving a legacy for our young generation. 

Every year we adopt a family in need. It’s so exciting to see their smiling faces filled with gratitude. I tend to notice people are more kind and friendly during the holiday season. Wouldn’t it be nice if we can stretch that kindness all year round?  

This year I decided to be a little more creative with gift giving. When giving a gift I think it’s really important to know something about the person you are giving the gift to. For example, their favorite color, books they read, tech/kitchen gadgets, journal books, spas or help organize a particular space in their home. 

One of my favorite things to do is create a beautiful tablescape. This year I’m creating a beautiful table scape for my sister and best friend.  They are so elated. The best part is that I’m using items they already have and gifting the other items. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that people appreciate and love. 

Hope your holidays are filled with love, joy and peace. Be Creative. Be Grateful. Be Kind.

Author: Denise MacMurtrieDocument Management General Holidays Meal planning Organizing Paper Productivity Seasonal Time Management

Making a List, Checking it Twice—Not just for Santa

The holidays are upon us! There’s so much to keep track of and so many things to do! How can this wonderfully busy time of year feel less stressful? Make a list! Or several!

I love lists! Just the act of writing a list helps me to feel like I have a clearer direction. A checklist is a concrete tool to help you empty your brain of all the things you need to remember…and then to prioritize them.

There are even more things to do and to remember than usual. I use different lists for each facet of the holidays.

If you like writing lists out on paper, keep one folder or notebook as a central location to record your plans. If you prefer going paperless, keeping documents stored on a computer or in a note-keeping system like Evernote is a convenient way to keep an ongoing record over the years.

The following are types of lists to help you stay better ordered as the activities and tasks fill your schedule:

Menus: Write out a list of the entire meal from appetizers through desserts, including those items being provided by other guests. That way, you have a comprehensive overview of the full meal and can fill in the gaps if there are any. Don’t forget to include drinks, paper products, flowers and table centerpieces.

Shopping list: Go through all the recipes you will be preparing and write out every ingredient into a grocery list. The key here is to write the food items according to sections in the grocery store. It helps dramatically when your list is ordered so you don’t have to revisit different sections of the crowded store.

Tasks: Write out all individual tasks required to prepare for the holidays so you can clearly see the extra demands on your time such as: cleaning the house, decorating, shopping for gifts, wrapping, and mailing gifts (by a designated date).

Holiday cards: Keep a master address list that you can update each year. Many people keep it in a format on their computer to print address labels. I like to sort names according to groups:  family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.

Gifts: Keep a list of all gifts you plan to purchase according to each person. In the margin, record the store or online vendor and price. You can plan your shopping route according to the stores listed.

Accessory shopping: While shopping for gifts, there are often other details easily overlooked. Designate a master list for details. For example, as you decorate your house or plan your holiday party, keep one list for all those particulars such as a replacement string of lights, a new set of holiday placemats, etc.

A Final Step
Your Calendar: Look through your lists regularly and write tasks into dates on your calendar in order to keep track of what is being accomplished. Write in your planner in pencil to make easy alterations or use an online calendar to easily move tasks around.

Remember:  this is a busy time of year. Everything takes longer than expected. In the end, we may need to let go of a few tasks.

The ultimate goal is not to feel harried by the time the actual day arrives so you can enjoy the celebration with those you love!

Author: Vali HeistGeneral Goal Setting healthy living Holidays Organizing Productivity Spiritual and Holistic

Get Back to Basics this Year

GO month get organized napo logo

January is National Get Organized Month and it’s also the time for making resolutions and promising to follow through on all the advice in the self-help books on your bookshelves. Being the author of a self-help book, I can’t say I don’t recommend them, but striving to constantly improve your life and your home may not be the best advice.

According to Lindsay Myers on brainblogger.com, self-improvement represents a $10 billion per year industry in the U.S. alone. (In addition to high revenues, self-help has a high recidivism rate, which means that those same people already purchased another self-help book in the last 18 months.) Whether we want to lose weight, eat healthy, have a better marriage, or advance in our career, many of us rely on self-help books to improve our lives.

What’s more, home improvement is an almost $300 billion industry, which some say started with Bob Vila on This Old House and cable channels taking over from there with HGTV and DIY Network. I must admit that we bought our old farm house over 30 years ago and we’ve been improving and upgrading ever since.

Stop Improving Yourself and Start Living by Robert Jean Bryant is a classic self-help book that challenges us to end the perpetual quest for improvement and instead upgrade the quality of our daily lives. We are constantly bombarded by commercials and retailers who try to convince us to buy the latest and greatest stuff so we can “improve” our lives. But all that buying means more clutter, distracts us from the real issues and the real people in our lives, and takes us away from living in the moment. Bryant also says that when you get off the treadmill of constant improvement you help yourself to the freedom of creativity, joy and well-being.

I suggest that we start 2016 by getting back to the basics. Let’s break it down:

  • Kick the bully out of your head. Be kind to yourself and don’t let others convince you that you are “less than.” Strive for the joy of being well, not being a certain size.
  • Embrace your space. Do you have a patio you never sit on? Or is your two-car garage sans car? In many ways, our homes are “good enough”; we just need to take the time to find out.
  • Trust your own judgment. Focus on your own goals; use expert advice sparingly and move forward. Follow the guidance you need and discard the rest.
  • Streamline your home. Identify your CRAP (Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure) and let it go! The less there is to take care of, the more time you have to be creative.
  • Take stock…of your blessings. If you live in the United States of America, you are blessed.

Finally, answer the question “I wish I had more time to…” and make it happen. As the saying goes, life is not a dress rehearsal.

Clutter Quote: “Know many, trust few, learn to paddle your own canoe.” Anonymous

Author: Vali HeistGeneral Goal Setting Holidays Organizing Procrastination Seasonal Time Management

Happy New Year…Time to GO!

"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