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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.

danielles-autumnpic

Happy autumn to you!

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Author: Ellen TozziFamily General Seasonal Travel

PREPARING FOR TRAVEL? STREAMLINE!

cramming as much stuff into a suitcase as possibleI love to travel, but I don’t like lugging a heavy suitcase. As a result, I’ve learned to streamline my clothing selections. Here are some tips on how to do more with less so you don’t exceed the 50-pound limit or tire yourself out unnecessarily:

Pick a color scheme
To minimize the amount of clothing, shoes and accessories, pick a color scheme of one or two colors. One of my favorites is black & tan.

Select neutral clothes and interesting accessories
Many neutral clothing items can be dressed up or down — depending on what is partnered with them. For example, a simple black sun dress can be worn with flip-flops during the day, then dressed up with a summer scarf, kitten heels and sparkly earrings for a night on the town.

Do the math
Calculate how many outfits you’ll need for the number of days of travel. How many items can you wear more than once, such as jeans or dress clothes? For extended trips, are you willing to do hand washing or utilize the hotel’s laundry service?

What about shoes? Try to limit them to three pairs.

Make a list, or better yet, a checklist
Once you’ve done the math, make a list of what you are considering. Create a checklist in Word, Excel or on paper. List the basics, then add selections for summer, winter, business or an extended trip. It will save you time and reduce angst!

Confirm the weather
What will the range of temperatures be at your destination? Closer to the date of travel, check the ten-day forecast. What if it rains unexpectedly; is cold or hot? Add raincoats, umbrellas, sweaters, shorts, etc. and remember that LAYERING is in order for chillier weather.

Limit your selection to your calculations
Many people bring a number of options for each day so they can wear what they’re in the mood for. Not! If you want to streamline your packing, don’t let your mood come into play.

An organized and packed suitcase makes for easy travel.

Select an outfit for each day, less what you’ll repeat, plus what’s needed for unexpected weather. Add an extra set of undies, socks and top in case of an unexpected delay.

When in doubt …. leave it out!

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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

Author: Liz O'NeillFamily Holidays Home Seasonal

SOS – Seasonal Organizing Simplified

Gift WrapAs we wind down the year, ’tis the season for celebrations. Unfortunately, feeling overwhelmed may be an unwelcome tradition for many of us. Last minute shopping, traffic back-ups, and the rush to decorate can make this time anything but joyous.

There’s a lot to do and think about. But help (SOS) is on its way! By incorporating organizing and productivity solutions, you can focus on what really matters – the joy and merriment of the holidays.

Streamlining and Sourcing-Out are two ways to increase productivity and manage responsibilities, including holiday traditions. Write down the tasks you need and/or want to accomplish and think about ways in which you can make things more efficient and still effective. Consider these potential tasks:

DECORATING

  • Streamline: Snap a picture of how you have arranged your holiday decor so you can recreate the decorating next year. Keep the picture stored digitally (Evernote is ideal for organizing notes and pictures into folders) or tape it on the box in which you store the decorations.
  • Source-Out: Invite friends over for a decorating party. Including those who may not celebrate the same holiday you do is a wonderful way to share customs and traditions. Turn a chore into a fun party by enticing Santa’s helpers with some hot cocoa, libations, and cookies.

HOSTING

  • Streamline: Was your Grandma’s famous latkes recipe or the chocolate dessert you baked last year a hit? Make them again and, while you’re at it, keep a folder labeled “holiday recipes” for those tried-and-true dishes. Of course, not everything has to be made from scratch.
  • Source-Out: Consider a pot-luck or delegate some of the hosting responsibilities by asking guests to bring a favorite side dish or dessert. Perhaps it’s worth it to you to hire someone to help with the clean up.

GIFT SHOPPING

  • Streamline: Give variations of the same gift– a blue-checkered shirt to your brother, and the same red-checkered shirt to your husband. Consider a gift exchange for groups or large families – each person picks a name and only has to buy one gift.
  • Source-Out: Online shopping is just a click away! Look for coupon codes or try ebates to save money while you save time.

Less to think about and do means more time staying in the present. And staying in the present is the best gift you can give yourself.

Author: Robin Stankowskibathroom clutter Clutter General Home Seasonal Small Spaces Storage

Organizing a Small Space: Learning from Your Summer Vacation

Creative hanging space for vacation home

This time of the year many of us are gearing up to head to our favorite beach house or lake cabin. While it may be hectic getting ready to go, once there, you find yourself in a relaxed, organized environment where all you have to do is enjoy each other.

Isn’t it interesting how we can live in a smaller space with less stuff while on vacation but we can’t seem to do it at home? Ok, so maybe it’s because it’s for a short period of time. Nevertheless, take a look at your hotel room, or rented house on your next vacation. Notice how they were able to find usable space within a small area. When you get home to implement some of their space saving ideas, don’t limit yourself by the design of your space.

It always helps to first sort through your belongings and purge what you don’t need (easier said than done, I know). Maybe it’s time to be tougher with yourself…”Do I really need multiple hand towels: fancy, guest, and every day?” Once you have made those culling decisions, it will become easier to see the empty space for its potential.

Look up: In most kitchen cabinets, the top half of the shelf is empty space. You can add a small wire shelf to create a second shelf. Also, tension rods make great use of vertical space under your kitchen sink to hang cleaning products.

under the sink storage with a tension rod

Look behind doors: For small bathrooms with pedestal sinks, making use of a medicine cabinet can be key. Strategically-placed acrylic stick-on pods can provide additional storage. And don’t forget about repurposing a shoe organizer for behind the door. You can store everything from toiletries…to toys…to crafts!

use the inside door space to store small items

Be creative: Just because it doesn’t look like a place to store stuff, doesn’t mean you can’t create one. For those exposed walls with studs, use hooks and hang drapery to create a closet.

So, take some tips from your next vacation. We love how rested and relaxed we feel after time away from home. There is no reason we can’t create that same type of sanctuary for ourselves year-round.

Author: Annette ReymanCloset Donating Home Organizing Seasonal

Five Quick Spring Organizing Tips

CrocusesHere are five ways to freshen up your home for spring:

Bedding-blitz  As you prepare to leave colder days behind, get ready to pull out lighter blankets and sheets. Refresh blankets that come out of storage by fluffing them in the dryer with a dryer sheet. Remove heavy blankets and flannels from beds to clean and store. This is also a good time to wash the mattress covers and give the mattresses a flip. Lighter, brighter spring-fresh bedding is sure to brighten everyone’s mood!

Counter-attack  Throw open the kitchen and bathroom windows and take a look at your counters. The fresh air will help energize you while you remove all items and give the counters a good wipe-down. Throw out any trash or items you don’t need and put away anything that has wandered out of its appropriate home. Return to the counter only those things that you absolutely must have out or that make you happy.

Pantry purge  During our winter hibernation we tend to stockpile supplies. Cupboards can become stuffed with soups, cocoas and comfort-snacks. As this happens, other food items get pushed out of sight. Set aside an hour on a nice spring morning to empty out a shelf or two at a time, wipe them down, discard outdated or unwanted food items and reorganize what’s left back onto the shelves.

Sew or go  Do you keep a sewing or ironing pile? If you do, make sure that what is in your pile has not been there longer than 6 months. If it has, it is likely that it may not fit, will be out of style, or will no longer be something that you think would be worth the effort. Now’s the time to sew or go! Pick an evening and an interesting TV show and get the ironing and sewing done. If you’re not going to do it – let it go. It will only sit there and make you feel guilty if you don’t. And, no one wants to feel bad on a sunny day!

Shoe-review  The warmer days of spring and summer will mean a change of shoe style. Take time to gather any and all of your shoes together. Separate cold-weather shoes from warm. Before storing shoes you won’t wear again until fall, try them on. If they don’t fit comfortably or you don’t like them, this is the time to donate or toss them. If any need cleaning or repair, get it done now, before storing. Next, look at their sunny day counterparts and go through the same process. If you find that your favorite sandals are broken or that those cute open toe shoes you bought last summer don’t really fit right, get rid of them. Take note of any shoes you may need to add to your shopping list for replacement to complete your wardrobe. Finally, make sure each member of your household has adequate shoe storage.

Happy Spring!