Author: Danielle OBrienGoal Setting Organizing Productivity Project Management Seasonal Time Management

How Do You Remember?

danielles-seasonspicSome of us love change. With each new month we tend to change our clothing, eat different foods and decorate our homes. That’s a lot of work for some of us. How do you remember everything that needs to be done? I use my calendar. Each month reminds me of what needs to be done. Below is a monthly glance at my calendar.

  • January
    First on the list is the holiday decor, accessories, and gifts. If you do it right, you will be very happy unpacking next year. Clean, sort, contain, label, and store all your holiday items. I give the house a good cleaning hoping to pick up every pine needle from the tree, plus all the spills and dribbles from my youngest guest. Next, I purge my files of last year’s documents and put them in my tax file. Even if your financial documents are online, you can do this. This updates the file for the new year. Then, I hibernate, and I don’t feel guilty!
  • February
    This month I commit to organizing my photos. I place last year’s photos on the dining room table and create one book for each of my three children. I organize my videos in the cloud which although it takes a few weeks, I get it done. In the meantime, I cook soup, lots of hearty soups. My house is warm and the aroma is wonderful.
  • March
    Now is the time to find my “green” clothes or at least put my wools away in hopes of an early spring. I visit my friends more and schedule game nights. Usually, I am freezing in the spring, so I increase my cardio exercises. I enjoy the soups I put in the freezer. I also change the clocks, check our batteries and discuss a fire evacuation plan with our family.
  • April
    Now is the time to clean all the windows and blinds and take the covers off the outdoor furniture. I clear out the dead plants/shrubs in the yard, decorate for the spring holidays and clear out the garage. I also schedule to get our air conditioning system serviced.
  • May
    Gardening begins now. Flags go out on Memorial Day weekend. Clean and repair deck/patio as needed. I air out our suitcases, Jersey shore here we come!
  • June
    Purge the children’s rooms, store school memories and wash out the backpacks. I scrub the freezer and prepare for my 4th of July Ice Cream & Fire Works party. Also, I wash our grill accessories and summer platters.
  • July
    Start to relax into summer and enjoy.
  • August
    Swim in the ocean as much as possible. Read on the beach. I deserve it!
  • September
    Concentrate on back to school paperwork and schedules. It’s school shopping time! Put vacation accessories away and repack pool bags for next year. Clear dead plants and shrubs. Harvest the veggies. Bring flags in. Put summer accessories towards the back of the garage.
  • October
    Bring my fall clothes down from the top of my closet then shop for what’s missing. Halloween décor and costumes come out just for fun. Make sure the garage is clean so I can retrieve the holiday supplies.
  • November
    Heavy kitchen cleaning is done at this time, food shopping and of course, eating. Check fire alarm batteries, smoke detectors and have that fire safety discussion again. Cover deck furniture.
  • December
    Holiday madness, parties people & food!

How do you remember?

An easy way to keep up with the changing seasons is to set an event in your calendar for each month and have it notify you. Or, maybe break up things into weekends, starting each Saturday morning with a “things to do list.” I pretty much have it memorized and enjoy the changes that the seasons bring.


Happy autumn to you!

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Author: Adriane WeinbergEmergencies Family Organizing Productivity Project Management Time Management

OMG, What Do I Do First?

Woman Stressed-1The first day of Fall is September 22. Work and school are back in full swing. Managing your to-dos effectively is essential to maximizing your productivity at home and work.

A while ago I gave a presentation called “Stop Mumbling, Oops, I Forgot: How to Effectively Manage Your To-Dos.” With good intentions, people say they’ll do something but then forget because it wasn’t noted somewhere. People waiting for the promised ‘something’ to be done are disappointed. At work, this is a particularly bad practice. A good practice is to make notes on your to-do list or calendar so tasks are not forgotten.

Even with the best systems, life sometimes gets in the way. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Case in point: I received an email from an attendee the next day. “My kids need completely different school supplies than what we bought, my husband suddenly needs to take his car into the shop, mom’s aide left early without doing the grocery shopping, and I have a report deadline at work tomorrow. How do I know what to do first?” Let’s call her Amy and her husband Michael.

I made these assumptions: The report will take Amy’s available time to complete, and Amy and Michael each need a car to get to work.

Following was my response.

First, Amy should complete the report and meet the deadline. Her job provides needed income and benefits, so she shouldn’t potentially put it at risk.
Second is Michael’s car. There are a few options. Have Michael find out if the auto shop provides a loaner car, ask someone to drive him from the shop to work (if convenient), call Uber/Lyft or wait for the car to be repaired.
Third comes food. Cereal, eggs and PB&J (or whatever is on hand) can fill bellies for a day. Other options include ordering food from a market with home delivery, ordering takeout with delivery, and asking the aide to get groceries the next time he/she’s on duty.
School supplies are fourth. Amy can order the supplies online with next-day delivery or pickup after work.


General takeaway tips:

Have the school provide in advance a list of needed supplies and buy them then.
Schedule non-cancelable appointments with yourself to work on and complete reports and other important work well before the deadline to avoid a last-minute crises.
Develop a Plan B to get to work in case of future car trouble or other emergency.
Join AAA or another roadside-assistance plan.
Keep the fridge and pantry stocked with essentials such as cereal, milk, bread, eggs, pasta, tuna, soup and frozen meals.

Having a contingency plan for emergency situations helps to make life less stressful. Who wouldn’t want a little less stress?

When life overwhelms you, stop and take a deep breath. Figure out what needs to be done and by when. Prioritize by most-to-least important. So, first do what needs immediate attention. If you find crisis situations happen too often, click HERE to contact a member of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers for help.

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Author: Naomi CookHome Organizing Organizing Products Project Management Storage

Containing Your Creativity

Mosaic DresserDo you enjoy spending an afternoon crafting (otherwise lovingly known to me and my friends as a Crafternoon)?
Do your materials and supplies seem to multiply like Gremlins?
Do you buy more supplies because you can’t find the ones that you already have?
Do you dread clean up time because you don’t know where to put things? Or do you avoid it all together?

The good news is that as an artist, no matter what medium you work with or how messy you can get, you have a natural love of color. Using this to your advantage is one way of helping you to set up an organized system that will work for you, and one that you will also end up loving. Continue on and see how you can teach your creative brain to love order.

Using Color to Organize

For artists who work with mosaics (my craft of choice!), jewelry, fabric and yarn, this is a great method for organizing. Artists are visual beings and the tendency is to want to see everything in front of you. Organizing by color helps to curb the need to dump everything onto your work surface, by just choosing what color you need at the time and knowing the rest of the colors are just a quick glance away.

Using Categories to Organize

For artists who paint and draw, this may be the best method for you. All colors need to be exposed to you when you work, but you can organize by medium. Acrylics, oils, charcoal, colored pencils and pastels should be kept separate. By keeping this organizational system, you can easily keep track of what’s running low. More good news is that by taking care of your materials in this way (which can be expensive, right?) you can prolong their life and avoid having to buy replacements for colors that have gone missing. Imagine being in a creative zone, only to find that you are missing what you need. Ugh!

So now that we have discussed the different ways to organize, it’s time to find storage options that will work best for you. You can think outside of the box, and you don’t need to go for the expensive predictable storage options at craft stores like Michaels. As both an organizer and an artist, my passion lies in helping people get organized and finding creative storage solutions on the cheap.

If you work with a lot of different colors and categories, a smart solution is a good old fashioned clear plastic bin. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, yet offer the uniformity that makes for building a visually pleasing and calming organizational space. Found almost anywhere, and less expensive when bought in bulk, these beauties let you appreciate and enjoy what you have. If you are using color to organize, then let the color be the label for you. If you are using categories, create fun labels by painting ‘Acrylic Paints’ in acrylic, ‘Pastels’ in pastel, and so on, and then laminate them with an easy laminating kit that you can do at home.

Want to know how I organize my mosaics? Yes, I store some in clear plastic bins, but I also store some in a mosaic tiled dresser that I made! Yes, that’s it in the picture!

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Author: Ellen TozziClutter Family General Organizing Productivity Project Management Small Spaces

LAUNDRY ROOM ORGANIZATION: 9 Tips to Create a Space in Which You Want to Work!

The Container Store's White Elfa Laundry room

Do you dread entering your laundry area because it’s filled with piles of dirty clothes and who knows what else? Now is a good time to make a clean, fresh start!

1. Visualize your ideal space.
· Picture how you would like the room to look and consider how it should better function.

2. Reduce the excess.
· Remove items that don’t belong in the laundry room and put them where they really should live.
· Eliminate items you don’t want (use up, share with others, donate, or toss).

3. Maximize the space.
· Install shelves or cabinets above and/or next to washer and dryer.
· If space allows, place a narrow rolling cart between your washer and dryer to store small items.
· Install a wall-hanging ironing board, hanging rack and/or folding table to save space.

4. Organize what you keep.
· Assign a home for each item, keeping similar items together.
· Keep frequently-used items close at hand and less-frequently used items higher or lower.
· Dedicate space for sorting dirty clothes; use bins or rolling carts to separate and contain whites, colors, delicates, and heavily soiled items.

6. Decorate the room.
· Hang artwork, put down a throw rug, purchase attractive hampers, etc. so you feel happy and peaceful in the room.

7. Develop a laundry schedule.
· Make doing laundry a ROUTINE – daily, every other day, weekly, etc.
· Make it as enjoyable as possible – fold laundry while watching TV, talking on phone, etc.

8. Get help from family members.
· Have family members empty pockets, pre-spot and put their dirty clothes in the hamper.
· Delegate the folding of clean laundry and putting clothes away.

9. Follow through!
· Complete the laundry cycle and put clothes away and have family members do the same.
· Reward yourselves with a treat when you’ve completed the process.

BONUS TIP #1: To have a truly clean start, take your accumulated laundry to your local laundromat and have them do the wash for you. Approximate cost = $1.00/lb.

BONUS TIP #2: Use Color Catchers (by Shout) or Color Grabber (by Carbona) when washing lights and darks together. They really do catch the color!

Author: Sherry CastaldiClutter Document Management Filing General Home Office Organizing Project Management

3 Simple Steps to an Organized Desktop

Neat and orderly desk with only the essentials.

Does the thought of organizing your desktop bring music to your ears for the anticipation of the neat and orderly results of this accomplishment or does it bring painful groans of displeasure wondering how you will accomplish this seemingly impossible task for your desk?

As is the case with many tasks and projects, if we break it down into smaller parts then it’s not so overwhelming. Of course, there is always the super easy way out and that’s the complete one swipe and into the box removal. Quick, easy, and painless but I don’t think that’s really what you want to do. Especially not on National Clean Off Your Desk Day! So let’s take a look at a more organized and orderly approach.

1. Assess
First, take stock of what is on your desk. Consider what items you need to address such as: paper, files, and office supplies — along with any random items on your desk.

2. Store
Next, decide how to store these items that are currently on top of your desk.

  • For example: if you have piles of papers that need to be filed, it’s understandable you may not be able to file them all at this moment. However if you can, go for it right now and file them away! If not, consider a folder or letter tray labeled “TO FILE” so you can organize those papers into one designated area. Now remember, at some point you will need to actually file those papers.
  • If you have mounds of files and are working on multiple files at one time, you may not want to put them all back in the filing drawer and that is ok. However, to store those files in a more orderly fashion, you may want to consider a file folder for keeping them upright or letter trays to keep them tidy and easily available to you without each and every single file stacked high on your desk.
  •  How about supplies? Do you have notepads, pens, pencils, paperclips, etc, strewn about your desk? Consider a desk organizer to keep those items neat and contained yet easily accessible.

3. Remove
Finally, remove miscellaneous items that have no relevancy to your work area. You may even find some items that are trash which is a super quick removal.  Here is where the one swipe and into a box is a handy option. Make sure to return all of those random items such as books, magazines, empty coffee cups, etc. to their designated homes.

There you have it: 3 easy ways to tidy up your desktop! Optimize your productivity while at your desk by using 3 simple steps — Assess, Store, and Remove — to keep your desktop neat and organized.

Author: Danielle OBrienFamily Holidays Organizing Project Management Seasonal Storage

The Key to a Simple Halloween Party

Picture Orange leaping flames from a crackling fire

Everyone can agree life can get a little hectic, especially around the holidays. Who has time to read Martha Stewart magazine, shop for the ingredients, put out an amazing buffet, craft fantastic decorations, and then be the “hostess with the mostest” at the time of the party? However, nobody wants to wants to miss out on having fun and seeing friends either. So I’ve come up with an easier way, a simplified way, to celebrate Halloween.

Here’s how to host a simple Halloween party:

• On October 1st my two Halloween bins come out of storage. One contains decorations, the same ones I use every year because they are full of memories. And the other of costumes, which we like to try on throughout the month just for laughs.

• Around the second week of October I place a flyer in every mailbox on my street, email the neighbors I know personally, and start spreading the word whenever I see anyone out and about.
My invite reads:
Halloween Party at Danielle’s house
Dress warm, bring a chair & snack to share

• On the third week of October I purchase my candy, beverages, and paper products. During this time, I also make sure I have enough fire wood and clean up my fire pit.

• Finally Halloween arrives! I start off the day with a short trip to the Conshohocken Bakery where I buy tomato pies, cakes, granola bars, and cookies for later that evening. We set up a buffet table and our fire pit in the driveway and not long after that, the neighbors arrive with chairs and snacks to share.

Sitting under the stars outside with my neighbors, enjoying the warmth and beauty of the fire, and watching the children make their rounds from house to house is a great way to spend Halloween. It’s relaxing, fun and you don’t even have to clean your house! Try it, you’ll love it.