This month, I'm partnering with the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Research Foundation's Knowledge is Power campaign to help people get organized and reduce stress.
The short month of February is more than half over, but there’s still time to clear the clutter and get more organized.
According to an article in Psychology Today, “Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed.” So true!
But where do you start? This quick 1-2-3 will make your space more serene.
1. Grab a laundry basket, tote bag, or trash bag and zoom around your house picking up all the “strays” – things that belong elsewhere. This will fill more than just one bag, you say? Then start with your most-visible or most-used room (maybe your kitchen, living room, or bedroom). For a fun challenge, play your favorite upbeat music and see how many songs it takes you to gather everything.
2. Find homes for all those strays. If the item doesn’t already have a designated place in your house consider the following.
3. Going forward, find a mantra that works for you so you don’t end up with so many strays again. Repeating a saying such as “put it away right away” or “don’t put it down, put it away” can help break the habit of not putting things back, dramatically reducing future clutter.
Now, sit down with a good book and a cup of tea and enjoy a few minutes of peace in your newly-cleared space.
Do you, your children, or your coworkers have trouble staying on time with tasks?
Try using a Time Timer, an innovative timer design that shows a visual representation of time elapsing that's easy to see at a glance.
Use a Time Timer for:
Best of all, there's a Time Timer for everyone because they come in lots of sizes, several colors, an app, and a desktop version.
[Full disclosure: I'm using a Time Timer on my computer desktop right now so I don't dawdle the night away fine-tuning the details of this blog post!]
Do you have a closet that's been bugging you because the configuration is totally inadequate for your needs? Have you been wanting to outfit your pantry with better shelves? How about a closet or pantry door that could be made useful (spice rack, gift wrap organizer, etc.) if only you had a good, sturdy shelf rack for it?
Get yourself over to the Container Store where, from now through February, they're offering 30% off their Elfa closet and shelving components, including 30% off installation!
Measure your space and they can help you plan the closet layout and recommend the products you'll need.
Even better, sort all the items that you want to store in the newly-redesigned closet, making a list of how many of each type of item (e.g. 4 pairs of heels, 6 pairs of casual shoes, 3 pairs of boots, 1 pair of slippers, etc.) and bring that with you too so the store's designers can have a better idea of exactly how you need to use the space.
As always, if you need help with any of this process, feel free to schedule an organizing session and I'll help you get it all sorted and straightened out!
The calendar just rolled over to a new year, so it's time to start fresh with some new files. This goes for you whether you're mostly digital, mostly paper, or somewhere in the middle.
If you keep digital files, I recommend downloading pdf copies of the statements as a backup and keeping them in folders on your computer and backed up on a cloud server (I use dropbox, but there are many good options out there.). Now is the time to create new folders labeled with the new year so you'll be ready when this year's downloads are available.
If you keep paper files, now is the time to label some fresh new folders. If you have a file drawer, one good option is to keep two-year's worth of files available at a time so you can just rotate the files for the new year. One set of files will be labeled "odd" for odd years, and the other "even." When the new year rolls around, bring the new year's set of files to the front of the drawer, emptying them out by discarding anything no longer need to store and placing items for long-term storage (Check the IRS website for a reference list.) in an archive file location such as a less-accessible file drawer or a box in a closet, attic, or basement (Use plastic bins if moisture is a problem.).
Another option for paper files is my expanding file system. Each year, I start fresh with a new 19-pocket expanding file. For the first part of the year, while I'm preparing for taxes, I keep last year's file handy. After April 15th, it goes down to my basement on a shelf with 7 others. I store 7 years' worth of files (that's how long to save tax-related info) plus one expanding file for permanent information (tax returns, home repairs, major medical info, etc.). I like this system because it's easy, compact, and never has to be purged. After 7 years, the files get shredded and I can reuse the expanding file.
How will you make a fresh start with files this year?
Wondering what to gifts to give your loved ones? Have you seen this funny gag Christmas gift going around? It’s a roll of toilet paper just in case you get crap for Christmas! Don’t be the person who makes them use that paper!
Instead, think of gifts that feature experiences, upgrade everyday necessities into luxuries, or are consumable. Below are some of my favorites, many of which can be bought at the last minute. (Sorry the list is long – I got on a roll!)
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT STUFF
Can't we all use a little laugh to break up the busy-ness of the holiday season? Here's Jerry Seinfeld's 5-minute bit about how we relate to our things. He even throws in a "Swedish Death Cleaning"-type bit at the end. Enjoy!
Do you need some help and motivation to get you to wrap your head around why decluttering will enhance your life?
Grab Amazon Kindle's Deal of the Day, Joshua Becker's book Simplify for only $0.99!
Becker is one of the founders of the new Minimalist movement (check out his blog) and, even if you never desire to be a minimalist, his principles for simplifying your life by deemphasizing possessions so that you can focus on what you really value will change the way you look at your home and the way you live your life.
Don't have a Kindle? You can read the book through the free app instead.
Want to find out more about how a Kindle can help you be a more organized and productive reader? Check out these two blogs I wrote back in May:
How to Avoid a Book Pile-Up
An Organized Reader
Are you hosting Thanksgiving and planning to do a quick cleanup of the main areas of your house before guests arrive? Hosting is a great motivator to sweep through your house, gathering everything that’s out of place (Hello, kids’ toys and husband’s shoes!) and returning them to their rightful homes.
What if there’s kind of a lot of stuff out of place and you don’t have time to put it all away before Thanksgiving? Do you use the “throw it all into a hamper and hide it in a closet” method?
That’s not a terrible method as long as you remember to include putting everything away in your post-Thanksgiving clean up. A messy pile loves company (chaos begets chaos) so the longer you leave things in that basket, the more likely other things are to pile up around the house and in the basket.
After you’ve finished the Thanksgiving dishes, grab that basket and get to it!
You might find you need to assign new homes to some of the things so they’re easier to put away in the future. You might also find that the new home is in someone else’s house, in which case you can put those things right into your car and drive them over to the donation center the next time you’re out!
Yesterday, I did a spot for our local NBC-10 station about the latest organizing craze, Swedish Death Cleaning. Click here to read the article and click below to watch the video!
I like to change my purse with the seasons, using a more compact and colorful one in the summer and a slightly larger and darker colored one in the winter. Whether or not you change the actual purse, this is a good time to take a look at what's in yours and get it organized for the coming season.
This is a great 5-10 minute organizing project.
P.S. If you often lose your keys in the depths of your purse, use a carabiner to clip your keys to the strap and you'll never have to search for them.