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Helpful Organizing Tips ’ Category
If it’s August, it must be back-to-school season! Time to buy school supplies, new clothes and shoes and get back into routines.
It’s also a time that includes figuring out what’s for supper every night. If you need some meal planning ideas, check out this article…
Real Moms Share: Easy Ways to Plan Meals for the Week
|Photo of my family at Disney enjoying a meal–not planned by me!
It just so happens that I give tip #8 and Michelle Obama, our First Lady offers the first one. Hope you pick up some good ideas–I did! Even a Professional Organizer needs help with meal planning sometimes…
A few months ago, I was watching an episode of Curious George with my five year old. The episode was called ‘Trader George’ which made me laugh for a moment because it sounded so much like ‘Trader Joe’s’ which is a food store I love to shop in and eat from.
Hey, it was really early in the morning and I was hungry. OK–back to how this connects with organizing…
So, in the episode George does some trading of items with people in order to get what he thinks he wants. The back story involves The Man With the Yellow Hat. While George is out trading his stuff to get other stuff, The Man With the Yellow Hat is at his county house going through the closet looking for items to put out at a local swap meet (where George is doing all this trading).
I’m getting to the organizing part…
Mr. Yellow, as I’ll call him for brevity sake, ends up spending much of the episode sitting in front of his closet pulling stuff out and reminiscing about it. My son is enjoying the show while I’m yelling at the TV in my head, “Don’t do that!’
You see, Mr. Yellow was breaking one of the cardinal rules of organizing.
Do not reminisce while organizing.
Why is this a bad idea?
It’s distracting. You’re supposed to be sorting and purging and getting rid of the old to make for the new and instead you’re looking at pictures or dreaming about the last time you fit into that cocktail dress and now you’ve stopped organizing to look for the matching shoes and handbag you wore with it ten years ago.
It’s a time waster. Not many people have all day to organize. Time is precious and it’s important to focus on organizing during the time you’ve alloted for it before you get tired or have to move on to the next activity of the day.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a few moments to think about the past. But those moments should not take you away from the task at hand. Pick a time later in the day or week to go through all the bridesmaids dresses you uncovered or all the never-before-seen pictures you found from your parent’s first Thanksgiving together.
Next time you’re organizing a spot in your home and you come across some cool stuff you want to dwell upon for more than thirty seconds, think about The Man With the Yellow Hat. Make time later to reminisce–or you may miss out on a lot more than just a swap meet…
Holiday season is almost upon us. Holidays or not, going to the mall can make you dizzy! Add in sparkly decorations, tons of people, blaring holiday music–all that can make a brain very tired. So when it’s time to go home and you exit hopefully through the same door you used to enter the mall, it may take you a moment to think about where you parked your car.
Not any more! Because my helpful organizing holiday tip is:
Use the camera on your phone to take a picture of where you parked your car. No more wandering around the parking lot in a panic. (Whew!)
I do this even when it’s NOT holiday time. Above is a picture of my car at the Paramus Park Mall. I only had to run in and out of one store but I snapped the photo just in case.
When you take the photo make sure to have a ‘landmark’ in the background such as a store or a parking lot sign. If you look at the picture look closely, you’ll notice that I’m in Section 26 parked near the Sears Auto Center.
Now you have one less thing to worry about this holiday season! Less stress for you and more time for the joy of the season. Who can’t appreciate that?
Fess up–how often have you felt ‘parking lot panic?’
Do you clip coupons? In today’s economy, it’s especially wise to do so. Who can’t use a few extra dollars in their wallets?
Clipping coupons for the supermarket is easy. There’s a picture of the item–you know immediately what you’ll be using the coupon for. Then there are those coupons that are vague. They offer deals like free shipping, 25% off your total order, or $5 off of a $50 purchase. These are great–I use them all the time. But it’s very easy to put them in a pile and forget about why you cut them out in the first place.
To remind you to use them and to remind you what you need to buy, my helpful organizing tip is:
Attach a post-it to the coupon. On the post-it, write down what you need to buy from this particular store or website.
Here are some examples…
The above coupon is for the Carter’s store. With two little kids, I’m there a lot. I was very excited when this came in the mail. I clipped it, stuck a post-it on it and wrote down what clothing my children needed. Using this method, I don’t have to gaze at the coupon while at the store and ask myself, “Why am I here? What did I need?” Big time saver.
I’m also in need of some picture frames and a new photo album. I saw this coupon last week, cut it out, stuck a post-it to it and went around my house with it looking for frames that needed to be replaced. I still have to go through an envelope of recently printed pictures to see which need frames but I’ll add that info to my post-it (or use a bigger one) when I’m done. Now, when I get to the store, I won’t have to stand there staring at the frames wondering what sizes and colors I need. Like I said, big time saver.
So, next time you’re clipping coupons, grab a post-it pad and a pen along with those scissors. By using this helpful tip, you’ll be saving yourself a little time here and there during your day. But, make no mistake–those minutes add up!
Between raising a family and being a business owner, there’s a lot going on in my brain. If I need to remember something, I have to write it down or else it’s as good as gone. I’m a visual person so I like post-its and pads of paper for quickly jotting down ideas, to-do’s and lists.
With four people in our household, we go through a lot of food. When we run out of something, I add it to my shopping list (my main supermarket is ShopRite). But, I shop in four or five different markets depending where I’m driving past that day and what food item I’ve run out of. I needed a central place to keep track of all our food needs. That’s when I came up with the Master Shopping List.
|My Master Shopping List
I went to Michaels and purchaed a magnetic pad with lines and stuck it on the side of my fridge. I wrote in the names of stores I shop in often–ShopRite, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Fairway, and Costco and left room underneath to write what I’ve run out of. When I buy the item, I cross it off my list. Sometimes I’ll circle an item if I need to purchase it later or at another store.
Keeping this list close to the fridge or pantry makes jotting down items a quick and easy task. If you don’t like to or can’t hang items on your fridge, store your Master Shopping List near your refrigerator. Don’t like the note pad? Create something similar to this on your computer.
The master list is not just for food. Use it for drugstores, big box stores–wherever you shop often.
This master list has made my life much easier. If I notice we are running low on an item from a particular store, I grab my pen and write it under the appropriate store name. If I know I’ll be passing by a certain store after working with a client, I’ll jot down from the master list (onto a separate piece of paper) the things I need and cross items off them off the list when I return home.
I guarantee–creating a Master Shopping List for your family will work as well for you as it has worked for me. Give it a try. It’s all about making our lives easier and having what we need when we need it.
If it’s August, it must be Back-to-School shopping time!
In honor of the tradition, I’ll be posting weekly organizing tips on Organized Artistry’s Facebook Fan Page on the topic of Back-to-School organizing. Check back every week in August for a new way to get your kids (and yourself) organized for the upcoming school year.
Until then, I leave you with one of my favorite commercials…
I’d better practice my singing–my five year old starts kindergarten this year and he needs supplies!
July 27, 2011 is the 9th anniversary of my first client. Thank you Mrs. Z for trusting me with your papers and your closet. Hopefully, you had no idea I was a ‘newbie’ when I walked through your door…
Since that time, I’ve worked with more than 50+ clients–all of them like snowflakes–no two were alike. But, the one trait they all shared was their desire to get organized. Over the years, my clients have asked for some key tips on how to become and stay organized. In honor of Organized Artistry’s 9th anniversary, I am going to share 9 organizing tips to help you reach your goals and lead a less stressful life.
Use one, use some, or use them all…
1. Just Do It. Stop complaining/thinking/worrying about your clutter and instead draw out a written plan to tackle it.
2. Start small. Rooms full of clutter overwhelm most people. Start by sorting items one shelf, one drawer, or one corner of a room at a time. Feeling ambitious? Try one more and get back to sorting the next day.
3. Know Thyself. When do you work best? Mornings? Evenings? Organize when you are at your most energetic.
4. Give ’em a Good Home. Invest in a high-quality file cabinet for your papers. My father’s file cabinet is almost as old as I am and still functions well. My favorite brand of file cabinet (and my dad’s, too) is HON.
5. Save Money Where You Can. Don’t spend a ton of money on organizing products until you know exactly what you need. Until then, use shoeboxes, Ziploc bags and other free or inexpensive organizers.
6. Wear Sturdy Footwear. You never know what might fall off a high (or low) shelf. You never know what you might step on. Protect your feet while organizing–no flip flops or bare feet!
7. One-In-One-Out. If you bring something into your home, something must go. Bought some new towels? Purge some old ones. Got a new pair of black shoes? Send another pair walking. One-in-one-out keeps the amount of ‘stuff’ in your home at an even level. To really de-clutter, live by the One-in-three-out rule.
8. Take Before and After Pictures. You don’t have to show them to anybody. Just take the pictures and keep them for yourself. My prediction is that you’ll make sure your home never reaches ‘Before’ status again!
9. Reward your Accomplishments. Whether you organized a large clothes closet or a small drawer of office supplies, note the accomplishment and reward yourself accordingly. Manicure? Double-chocolate cookie? An evening on the couch with a good book/funny movie/loving spouse? You’ve worked hard at reaching your organizing goals–you deserve it!
Nine years in business is quite a milestone. Thanks so much to my clients, colleagues, family, and friends for helping me to get to this day.
People are always asking me for organizing tips. I enjoy being able to provide helpful advice and strategies so starting this week, I’m going to be offering a ‘Tip of the Week’ on my Facebook Fan Page.
Every month I will cover a different topic. July’s tips will be all about Getting Organized for Travel. Are you going away this summer? Be sure to check my Facebook Fan Page for tips to help you get where you want to go in an organized fashion…
Today I had a conversation about dust busters with my hair stylist, of all people. Why? Well, we both have small children who make a mess under their high chairs and we were discussing the best way to make it go away. She told me she shlepps out a vacuum every time her kid makes a mess. I advised her to grab a 20% off coupon and hightail it to Bed Bath and Beyond to get herself a dust buster.
The conversation made me think back to when my older son was in a highchair. For a few years before he was born, the dust buster lived in our laundry room. The few times I would need it, I would run downstairs and get it and later return it to it’s base–no problem. Then my son came along and started eating solid foods. Some missed his mouth and landed on the highchair and on the floor. So I’d run up and down a flight of stairs to grab the dust buster and then return it. After a few weeks of this. I thought to myself. “There has to be a better way. What if one of your clients presented you with this problem? What would you say to her?”
I’d give her today’s Helpful Organizing Tip: Put It Where You Need It
Everything you own needs a home: the remote, your toothbrush, your car keys. Creating a home for an item helps you locate it when you need it. When you know where an item lives, you can easily return it that home which in turns enable you to find it when you wish to use it next. But, any home won’t do. It needs to be a LOGICAL home. A logical home for the above examples would be remote – near TV, toothbrush – in the bathroom, car keys – near the door you enter and exit through most.
Did most of my messes occur in the laundry room? No. Did it used to be a logical place for the dust buster to live? Yes. Once my son started making daily messes was it still a logical place? No. Did I now need that dust buster to live in my dining room? Yes!
So I put it where I needed it–in a cabinet in our dining room. Now I have another child in the highchair who does the same thing. Guess who can clean that mess quickly? Me. Guess who can try ‘putting it where they need it’ in their own home. YOU.
Take a few minutes to think about what items in your home need a more logical place to live. While you’re doing that–I’ll be dustbusting a family of petrified Cheerios off my carpet…
So, school has been is session for over a month for some students. How’s everyone doing?
In case you didn’t get off to the most organized start, not to worry. Here are some tips for getting an A+ in organization for the rest of the school year…
Create a home for library books
A great way to NOT get them mixed up with other ‘like’ books in your home
and while you’re at it…
Make a note on your calendar the day the books are due back to the library. No surprises means no need to pay a library fine.
Designate a home for school papers
Doesn’t it seems like schools are the reason so many trees are chopped down each year? The amount of papers sent home is staggering and when you’re not looking, they multiply like bunnies on your kitchen counter or dining room table.
An easy system to adopt is to have a spot for papers parents need to see/deal with and a spot for each child. This could be a drawer or shoebox–whatever works for your space and budget. Have each child place papers from school in the parent ‘spot’ and when the parent is done processing the papers (trip slips/lunch money/) it is returned to the child ‘spot.’ The child then places the papers in their book bag.
For papers that need to be referred to often, consider placing them in a binder or folder for quick reference (holiday schedule, class lists, etc.).
Designate a home for artwork
First it’s ‘scribbles’ on a page, then finger paints and leaf rubbings come home. Soon, the artwork becomes 3-D and it’s living on your dining room table. Before it takes over your home, determine where your children’s artwork will live in your home. A folder? A box? Your child’s room? Make your child responsible for their creations. They may surprise you with how well they take care of their works of art.
Have supplies on hand
Take advantage of back-to-school sales to save you time, money an stress throughout the school year. I remember when I was an elementary school teacher, Staples
would sell mini bottles of Elmer’s Glue for .10 cents a bottle in August. I would stock up for my class because inevitable by February, everyone’s bottle tips were clogged. Another example–paying .59 cents for a pack of looseleaf paper in the summer is easier on the pocket than $2.49 a pack mid-year.
Know what fits (clothes)
As the seasons change, have a try-on session with your kids. No child wants to go to school in pants that are too short or wear shirts with buttons that pop open and be laughed at by their peers. Write down their needs on a post-it and put it in your wallet for the next time you’re at the mall. For my son. I take inventory of all of his shirts to determine what color bottoms he needs. Right now I’m looking for navy blue and gray pants and I have his waist size and pant length written on that same post it. (Yes, I carry a tape measure in my purse! Did you doubt it?)
Prepare the night before
This is probably the most important back-to-school tip I can give you. If there’s one thing you can do to stay organized, its to get ready for the next day, the day before. Make school lunches when you’re making dinner. Before bedtime, have your kids place their packed knapsacks by your home’s point of exit so all they have to do in the morning is put their lunch inside (as well as a last minute item or two) and they’re ready to leave. A less stressful morning often leads to a less stressful day. Who doesn’t want that?
Wishing you an organized school year!