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Author: Martha SpittalClothing Clutter General Home Organizing Productivity Wardrobe Management

80/20 Your 2018

Have you ever gotten to the end of your day wondering what (if anything) of value you actually accomplished? If so, it may be time to pull out the 80/20 Rule!

Professional organizers often apply the 80/20 Rule (a.k.a., the Pareto Principle or the Law of the Vital Few) to decluttering. For example, in a closet, determine the 20% of clothes you wear 80% of the time, purge the 80% of clothes you seldom or never use, and – voila! – you have space for clothes more like your favorite few.

The principle also applies to time. Most of us accomplish 80% of our best work in just 20% of our time, and fritter away 80% of our time doing…what? The key to really accomplishing our goals, to really making an impact, is to focus on the 20% of things we are really good at.

Determining our best 20% when it comes to clothes is pretty straightforward: pull everything out of the closet and start sorting: things I love (or not), things that fit (or not), things that make me look great (or not), etc.

But how do we determine our best 20% when it comes to work? Claire Diaz-Ortiz, in the book Design Your Day, suggests this similar pull-out-and-sort activity to find out:

First, get two pieces of paper. At the top of one write “Big Wins” and on the other write “Activities.”

On the “Big Wins” paper, list things that you’ve done in the past few years, personally or professionally, that have brought you the greatest joy, that have made you feel most alive, that have made you feel like you were in the sweetest of sweet spots. These could be things that happened just once, or continuing things.

On the “Activities” paper, list absolutely everything you do on a regular basis – fun or not fun, significant or not significant, necessary or unnecessary, whatever. Then sort these items into three categories: Things Only I Can Do, Things Someone Else Can Do, and Things I Should Stop Doing. (It might help to rewrite your activities on a fresh piece of paper with three columns headed with these categories.)

Next, cross-check. Things that appear on both your “Big Wins” list and your “Things Only I Can Do” list are your best 20%!

Now, set priorities:

  1. First Priority = Big Wins + Things Only You Can Do
  • These key activities are what you should focus on, but you could also think about if there are ways you could do them in even less time.
  1. Second Priority = Big Wins + Things Someone Else Can Do
  • These are things that need doing, but that could be delegated. You can better do your best work if you’re not trying to do everything!
  1. Third Priority = Things Only You Can Do
  • These items need to be evaluated carefully, because they are not on your list of Big Wins.
  • This category will have important necessities (sleep, doctor’s appointments) and other things that are just time-drains.
  1. Not a Priority = Things You Should Stop Doing
  • Cut it out! (But, don’t be afraid to leave some fun, non-productive activities that rejuvenate you or bring you rest.)

As Diaz-Ortiz says, “ultimately, this activity is a mind-opening way to see where your time and work is really moving the needle and where you’re just running on the hamster wheel to stay busy.”

Let 2018 be the year where you focus on the few vital tasks that best get you to where you want to be.

80/20 your 2018!

Author: Kelly GalfandChallenging Disorganization Closet Clothing Clutter General Home Organizing Wardrobe Management

Becoming Organized: The Case of the Missing Slippers

If being organized is not how you were raised but you’ve started to become more orderly, you may already know: it takes time getting used to “being organized.”

I learned this with a new client: Kim (not her real name) has struggled all her life to maintain a neat space. Her efforts go in waves and she has managed to live a really rich and creative life — but it hasn’t been easy. She’s lost a few things along the way. Paid her share of late fees for bills and penalties for misplaced parking tickets. And wasted time rewashing clothes after the dirty commingled with the clean.

When she was ready to stop this chaos…she called in a professional organizer.

She had 3 areas to organize:
• her wardrobe and bedroom
• her living room – including a desk area
• her hallway which had become an over-crowded storage space

We started in her bedroom because the mess was affecting her sleep. After 3 working sessions we had sorted through all of her clothes, cleared every surface (including the floor) of anything that didn’t belong, rearranged her dresser drawers and closet with zones for each type of clothing she needed in her life.

Moving on to the living room, Kim sheepishly told me a “funny” story about her missing slippers. The one constant in Kim’s life had been lots of weekends away to cabins with friends. In preparing to pack for one such weekend, she described how she had scoured her apartment looking for her slippers. 

She checked ALL of her usual spots: under the coffee table, in the bathroom, kicked under the hallway table, in a pile behind the couch, tucked under her bed, tossed into a corner by her cat…she couldn’t find them anywhere. 

She left for her weekend sans slippers in a bummed mood.

As soon as she got on the road to the cabin, it hit her. She couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Her slippers were right where we had left them — in their new home. They were in the bottom “bay” of the hanging shoe organizer we had installed in her closet.

It was a funny lesson to us both, that getting organized takes some getting used to! The motto of Kim’s story is: It’s easy to find what you need when you need it…when it is right where you left it.

Author: Ellen TozziGeneral Home Organizing

PRE-cycling, RE-cycling and UP-cycling

Recycle TreeBy now you’re familiar with Re-cycling, but have you heard of Pre-cycling? What about Up-cycling? What follows are descriptions of these “cycling” processes. Applying them to your routines will reduce the amount of packaging and other items that end up in landfills.

PRE-CYCLING

Pre-cycling is basically preventing recycling. It’s the practice of avoiding and reducing consumer waste by buying unpackaged, reusable or recyclable products.

  Examples:

  1. Unpackaged items: buy in bulk quantities (proven winners only).
  2. Reusable items: grocery bags, water bottles, batteries, cloth napkins, “real” plates, cups, cutlery, etc.
  3. Recyclable packaging: buy items with as little packaging as possible in #1 and #2 plastics, cardboard, aluminum, steel and glass.

RE-CYCLING

It’s great to recycle through your municipality but you (hopefully!) may want to go farther.

  Examples:

  1. Plastic bags: bring to bins at the entrance to grocery stores (not your recycling bin).
  2. Fabric: bring to Goodwill (keep separate from non-damaged clothing and label the bag).
  3. Electronics and accessories: bring any and all to Goodwill.
  4. Plastic packing peanuts: bring to UPS and other shipping stores.
  5. CFL (corkscrew) lightbulbs: bring to Home Depot and Lowe’s (bulbs contain mercury).
  6. #5 Plastics: bring to Whole Foods Markets (not recycled by most municipalities).

UPCYCLING

Up-cycling is the creative reuse of materials to produce a higher quality item.

  Examples:

  1. Memory quilts made from t-shirts, ties, etc.
  2. Purses made from soda tabs.
  3. Mittens made from sweaters.
  4. Clocks made from vinyl record albums.
  5. Rag rugs made from … you guessed it … rags.
  6. Sock monkeys … I’ll say no more.

Check out Pinterest for tons of other up-cycling ideas. Please post some of your up-cycled projects as we’d love to see them.

I hope I’ve expanded your awareness of options available to prevent unnecessary trash and recycling. Why not be creative and up-cycle some holiday gifts?

Work toward keeping your ecological footprint as small as possible!

 

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Author: Naomi CookFamily General Home Seasonal Travel

Staycation (all I’ve ever wanted!)

So, everyone wants to go on a vacation, even the band, the Go-Go’s, as heard in their song, simply titled…”Vacation”!

However, with gas prices and flight costs rising, taking a simple summer vacation has gotten to be a lot more expensive. Add in paying for meals and entertainment and say goodbye to even more of your hard earned money.

Oy vey…what a headache! Why not forgo all that stress, save some money, and instead have a Staycation in your very own home!

Merriam – Webster defines a Staycation as “a vacation spent at home or nearby”. Turn your home and backyard into an outdoor oasis that everyone in the family will enjoy. Think about how a hotel is set up and organize your home as such, for the whole summer or even for just a week!

Start in the kitchen:
Set up an island or part of a countertop for a breakfast buffet/snack bar like you would find in a hotel chain. Set out those single serve cereal boxes, some fruit and granola bars; maybe even whip up a large amount of pancake batter. Buy an inexpensive waffle maker and you can have fresh waffles every morning! Since you are saving money by staying at home, splurge a little here. Find melamine dishes and bowls and acrylic cups, and stash your everyday dishes and cups up on a higher shelf. Tie them together with a bright tablecloth and you have a fresh new look. When you decide to eat al fresco, just take those items outside!

Head into the great outdoors:
After a nice breakfast head outside for the next phase of the day. If you are in the mood to relax then set yourself up on your patio or lawn. Put on some music, bring out your favorite books and/or magazines, and even work on a hobby that you’ve been neglecting. Keep a cooler filled with your favorite beverages and you’ll be set! If you are in the mood to get out of the house, then use those at home days to figure out where to go. If you don’t have a pool at your home or community, consider a membership to a local pool. Or maybe you’d rather go shopping; an outlet center is a great way to spend a day and most offer coupons for additional savings. Another idea is to become a tourist in your own city. So often, our lives get so busy that we can’t appreciate the historical areas and landmarks that our own city has to offer.

End in the bedroom:
Use as a sanctuary to rest and recharge after a busy day outdoors. Put crisp linens and a light comforter on the bed in soothing beach colored neutrals. Try to keep it as a technology free area, which shouldn’t be too hard, because most TV shows are on reruns! Keep a book on your night table and read that instead.

However you decide to spend your Staycation, take the time to savor every minute of the day. Push aside obligations and expectations and put the focus on you. You deserve it!

 

Author: Vali HeistFamily Garage Home

ORGANIZE THAT GARAGE!

Garages tend to become the dumping ground during the winter. But the best thing about organizing the garage is that if we do a really good job, it usually stays that way for at least a year. In reality, families use garages as storage facilities rather than a place for the car. That stuff can include obsolete electronics, delayed decisions about where to put something, overflow from the house, and unneeded building supplies. Since the whole family probably uses the garage, bring everyone together and make it a family affair. Let’s break it down:

START WITH A CLEAN SLATE AND UNCLUTTER

  • Pull everything out onto the driveway if you can. Sweep it out and eliminate the cobwebs.
  • As you pull items out, sort them by categories:
    • lawn and gardening, work bench, sports equipment, dry goods overflow, car accessories, tools and power equipment, paints/solvents, lawn furniture, beach items, camping, etc.
  • Talk to your children about their items and help them eliminate clutter. Consider having a garage sale to sell their unneeded toys.
  • Finish or get rid of the unfinished projects (two years old or more).
  • Find a new home for stuff that shouldn’t be stored in an uninsulated garage (e.g. photographs, items that could melt).
  • Eliminate duplicates and donate unneeded tools, doors, windows, appliances, or anything to build a house to Habitat for Humanity in your area.
  • Take hazardous waste items (e.g. oil-based paint) to local semi-annual cleanups.

STAY IN THE ZONE

  • Divide the garage into zones according to the categories you’ve established.
  • Think “grab and go” and store things where they are convenient.
  • Hang tools where they are most accessible.
  • Keep car accessories close to the cars.
  • Store overflow from the kitchen close to the door near the house.
  • Reposition some zones as the seasons fluctuate: move bikes, beach items, and lawn furniture down in spring and move the skis and sleds up high.

TYPE OF STORAGE/SYSTEM

  • Put big items back first and the rest goes around those items.
  • Think ‘up’: store infrequently used items on high floating shelves or beams.
  • Metal on cement will rust the metal. Rest metal on wood or up on the wall.
  • Studs with no dry wall are great for peg boards. Cut different sizes according to the types of stuff you have.
  • Use open wire epoxy-coated steel shelving: wet things can dry, mesh prevents dust.
  • Consider a garage storage system. Search the Web or go to Lowe’s or Home Depot.
  • Use different colored plastic bins for different zones so it’s easier to put them away.
  • Hang long things vertically so they take up less space. If garden tools don’t have a hole to hang, drill one.
  • Remix things you may already have: Use old drawers/cabinets, shoe bag on the wall to hold small garden tools, old table for a work bench, etc.

Finally, if you enter your home through the garage make sure it’s clutter-free and welcoming. Hang a welcome home sign, clean the door, and put a nice door mat in place. You deserve a nice welcome home!

And remember: “Every time you put something back where it belongs, it’s a gift to yourself.”

Author: Darla PompilioClutter Family Home Organizing

Shed Clutter Weight for the Summer

Clutter WeightLooking for a way to shed a few pounds this summer? If you start with your home, you will gain more than weight loss benefits. Consider the excess weight that is in your home in the form of clutter. Clutter not only adds pounds, but drains your finances and takes a toll on you and your family –  physically, mentally and emotionally.

Take a guess at the approximate weight of these items (answers below):

  1.  A 12” stack of paper:   15 pounds, 20 pounds, 30 pounds
  2.  A 13 gallon garbage bag of clothing:  8 pounds, 15 pounds, 20 pounds
  3.  A 12” stack of books:  10 pounds, 17 pounds, 30 pounds

By taking time to de-clutter your home this summer, you will enjoy these benefits.

Physical

  • Easier to find and maintain what you have
  • Easier to clean your home
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased energy
  • Feel physically lighter

Mental & Emotional

  • Less stress
  • Increased enthusiasm
  • Enhanced mood
  • Increased momentum and direction in pursuit of goals
  • Improved personal relationships

Financial

  • Save money by being able to find what you have
  • Reduced financial loss from overspending
  • Decrease late fee payments
  • Increased productivity
  • More time – time is money

Shed some weight in your home this summer and you might find that the space you create promotes healthy changes in other areas of your life.

Answers to above: 1) 30 pounds    2) 15 pounds   3) 17 pounds.