Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
I'm not an expert decorator myself and in fact don't have a very large stash, so I turned to our Organizing Boston resident expert, Kate Altieri, for some organized holiday decorating tips. Kate loves to decorate for the holidays and has a self-proclaimed rather large festive supply. Here's what she suggests to keep holiday decorating fun and spirited rather than cluttered and chaotic:
Friday, December 3, 2010
1) Start with a clean bag, wallet, and car. Do yourself a favor and empty out the contents of your bag or purse, toss the trash, return rogue items to their rightful homes, and put what you do need back in an organized manner. This might mean adding a pouch or toiletry case to contain loose items. Do the same with your wallet...and your car too. This process not only clears the clutter for an improved shopping experience, but also allows you to see what important items you don't have with you yet. To avoid crowding my wallet, I use a small coin purse to house store credit cards and rewards cards that I don't need on a daily basis. I keep it in my bag so it's there when I need it, but the items aren't cluttering my frequently used wallet.
2) Keep your gift cards and coupons at the ready! There is nothing worse than ending up at a store, ready to buy and realizing you have a coupon or gift card you could've used...at home. I prevent this problem by keeping coupons and gift cards for stores I frequent in a simple mesh envelope in my bag. It is comforting to know they're there when I need them and this slim, but durable way of storing them means they take up almost no room.
3) Get receipt ready. With shopping comes receipts, gift receipts, and returns. The only thing worse than not having a coupon or gift card with you, is not having a receipt when you need to return something. With holiday shopping, your wallet could get quickly overwhelmed with receipts, so I would recommend keeping a separate envelope (which could be similar to the one above) to house all holiday shopping receipts while you're out an about. Whether you use your wallet or a separate container, take a few minutes after each shopping outing to organize what you have. If you have a particularly long list, you may want to separate receipts by person, family, or store so it's easy to find something if you need it. You can even write the recipient's name(s) at the top. My mother-in-law uses a simple strategy for gift receipts - she tapes an envelope labeled 'gift receipt' to the box or item - you could do this right away so there are no mix-ups and no lost receipts.
4) Designate a gift zone. Before you head out, figure out where you're going to store your newly acquired gifts while they're waiting to be wrapped and delivered. This is ideally some place that's safe from pets, peeping eyes, and day to day activity. This will prevent gifts from being misplaced or damaged and they'll be ready to go when you're ready to wrap!
Bottom Line: Having a few simple systems in place and starting out with a clutter-free bag, wallet and car will help make holiday shopping a simple and stress-free endeavor this year. So turn on that holiday music and let the fun begin!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
- People often hold onto clutter for emotional reasons, just like extra weight. Addressing the emotional background may be key to making progress on either front.
- You have to decide that you are ready to free yourself from your excess stuff, just like you have to be ready to lose the weight. Professionals or family and friends can help support you, but it has to come from within.
- Drastic approaches to de-cluttering often fail in the long term, just like weight loss. Slow and steady changes definitely win the race.
Friday, November 19, 2010
1) Hanging Art Gallery - Using a curtain rod with clips or a simple wire/cord attached to the wall, you can create a gallery space where favorites are displayed and then switched out for newer works periodically. The selection and easy switch process can be done by or with your children, allowing them to take ownership of the gallery. And if you still want to save one or all of the pieces that come down, you can keep a special box for this or follow up with the binder or photo book ideas below. Here are some great examples of galleries from Ohdeedoh.com and MakesandTakes.com. If you don't have a curtain rod with clips, you can simply use ribbon or string to tie clips or clothes pins to the rod. You can see my friend Melissa's simple and cute creation for her daughter's room in the picture above.
2) Framed Gallery - Along the same lines as the hanging art gallery, you can use frames that are easy to switch pieces in and out of, such as those shown by MakesandTakes.com or Unclutterer.com. You can also use simple acrylic frames from an office supply store - either free-standing or magnetic. And speaking of magnetic, another great idea for a gallery pictured in the Makes and Takes post is to paint a wall section with magnetic paint - I love this one too because it would be super easy to switch and rearrange differently-sized works of art.
3) Special Selections Book - Another idea especially good for 8.5 x 11 or smaller works of art is a simple binder with sheet protectors. You can use a fun, decorative binder, such as those available at Target, rather than an office-supply version. This is an easy way to preserve items for each child and can also be combined with special school projects for a year-long memory book.
4) Photo Book - Another great way to preserve more in less space and with a "professional" look and feel is to take photographs of the works of art and create a photo book using any of the online photo sites (i.e. Shutterfly, Snapfish, Kodak Gallery). This is especially good for 3-dimensional works that are harder to display on a wall. Talk about a great way to make an artist feel special! This could be your first step or a follow up step from the gallery ideas above. Simply take photos of your rotating gallery art (to be included in a photo book) before it's taken down to make room for the next round.
Bottom Line: Don't let your child's artwork become a source of clutter and stress. Try out the above ideas for enjoying and treasuring their creations - a win-win situation for you, your artist and your home!
Photo Credit: Thanks to Melissa for sharing her art gallery inspiration!
Monday, November 15, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
And we're back! The last few weeks have been a great example that sometimes life just gets in the way of getting everything done...even for professional organizers! But the key to making progress is to get back on the horse and keep going. On that note, this seems like a perfect time to review the ten time management tips we've highlighted over the last several months. I can't believe it, but the holiday season is just around the corner, so what better time to reclaim some precious time and figure out how to get things done without feeling crazy!
So if you've been following us, this will be review, and if you've missed the tips, here they are in one place. Check out the full post for each tip for more explanation and inspiration. And if you're feeling overwhelmed, remember to start small - incorporate one tip at a time. The beauty is, it'll get easier as you go!
Top Ten Time Management Tips
I'm focusing on #1, 4, 5, and 9...how about you?
Bottom Line: Fall is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf and try out or recommit (that would be me) to these simple tips for streamlining your life and routine so you have time to get to (almost) everything you want to!
Monday, September 27, 2010
Time-Saving Tip #10: Downsize Your Inbox - limit your incoming email and mail to items you need or want to receive.
Let’s face it, there’s only so much information we can take in and process. With so much information out there, you will do yourself a huge favor to put some limits on what you let into your mailbox or inbox...especially if you’re someone who feels obligated to read potentially useful information...you know who you are. We all inevitably end up on mailing lists we don’t want to be on or that seemed like a good idea at the time. Next time you get something that falls into that category, go ahead - click the unsubscribe link! If you don’t love it and read it right away, it’s probably not worth your time.
When it comes to snail mail, if you find yourself spending lots of time getting rid of junk mail (or worse, not getting rid of it), it might be worth your time to spend a few minutes getting yourself off the major mailing lists that are contributing to your mail clutter. For more information on reducing junk mail, check out our post Less Paper, Please on our other blog, Get Organized and Go Green. Also take a look at your subscriptions - if you don’t have time to read and enjoy all the magazines, papers and newsletters you get, you are wasting money and paper. Consider paring down what you get delivered - you can always access information on-line or add back in others down the road. And if you find yourself backed up - either with paper or electronic FYI material - cut yourself some slack, declare information bankruptcy, recycle or delete what you haven’t gotten to and start fresh with the new material. Spring gardening tips won’t do you much good in the middle of fall anyway!
Bottom Line: Save time and money by limiting your mail and email to what matters most and cutting out the rest!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Time-Saving Tip #9: If it’s only going to take a few minutes, just do it!
Sometimes we waste a lot of time thinking about what to do next - this applies at home and at work. Most of the time, we would feel a lot better (and get more done), if we just channelled our inner Nike and ‘just did it.’ Getting things done tends to build momentum. So open the pile of mail, take the trash out, put the donation items in your car, make that phone call. You get the idea. Those small household and work tasks can weigh us down when they start to multiply. Keep them at bay by keeping up with them. Try to schedule yourself 15-30 minutes daily just to tackle some of those little unfinished projects before they turn into permanent fixtures on your unfinished project list. I’ll admit, I’ve got a few of those on my list, so let’s all start a productive week and just get it done...whatever it is!
Bottom line: Tackle those small projects before they add up with just 15 minutes a day of ‘getting it done.’
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Time-Saving Tip #8: Streamline your routine with a simple household binder.
All you need is a small binder- use a spare one you have around or try these eco-friendly binders from greenroom, available at Target - some sheet protectors or a 3-hole punch, and some dividers. Simply hole-punch (or slip into sheet protectors) all those important papers, schedules, pieces of information that might otherwise get lost in a pile on the kitchen counter. This might include extracurricular or daycare schedules, important contact info, including babysitters, tutors, and coaches, upcoming events, and more. You can even step it up a notch and include a family chore chart, a master calendar or extra features like lunch-box ideas so these tasks can easily be shared among family members or helpers. Use the dividers to separate types of information or create a section for each family member - you can customize your binder to meet your family’s needs.
Get everyone involved in the binder - gathering information, deciding on what to call it, and most importantly, where it will live. If everyone in your house knows about the binder, you stand a fighting chance of being on the same page. Now wouldn’t that be nice?!
Bottom Line: Create a simple household binder as a place to store and organize your family’s activities and you’ll have your playbook prepped for a winning team!
Monday, August 30, 2010
Time-Saving Tip #7: Streamline Your Closet
Reserving closet “real estate” only for in-season items you love and wear will save you time and stress on those busy mornings...which might be every morning! Here are some tips to help you stay in line:
1) Get rid of your ‘fat’ or ‘skinny’ clothes. Instead, focus on the items that make you look and feel your best now! If your weight changes, you will likely want to update your wardrobe with the latest styles.
2) Keep only the clothes that suit your current lifestyle and job. Similar to the weight issues, if your situation changes, you will likely want to refresh your closet with current trends.
3) Weed regularly! You’ve heard the rules, if you haven’t used it in a year, it’s time to move it along – donation, consignment, or swaps with friends are easy ways to do this. Review your closet twice a year (at the season changes) – if you went through an entire season and didn’t wear something, it’s time to go. This may seem scary at first for you savers out there, but you’ll be amazed at how much more enjoyable an uncluttered closet is.
4) Follow the “one in, one out” rule. Closets follow the basic laws of physics - stuff just doesn’t disappear and space can’t be magically created. To maintain order, the best policy is to discard something that has fallen off the favorites list when you get something new.
5) Store like with like. For most people this means sorting your closet by type of item – shirts with shirts, pants with pants, etc. Do what makes sense to you (some people like to sort by color) and maintain the system so you know where to find things and where to put them away. This will also help with regular weeding since you’ll be able to see items that may be redundant.
6) Try not to save clothes for sentimental reasons. Take a picture of the item or find a picture of yourself when you were wearing it to keep the memory alive. If you simply cannot get rid of an item but you are not wearing it, find another place to store it and reconsider your decision in 3-6 months.
Bottom Line: Maintain a clutter-free closet containing only items that you currently love and wear and you’ll have more morning time for the good stuff - coffee anyone?