Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Perfect is overrated

Life will always be messy and that's a good thing!
Every spring, Oprah  puts out her organizing issue in March and its always full of goodies- great items, tips, online resources, I usually keep them to refer to later on. This issue has the new rules of de-cluttering- Some very useful tidbits that I want to share, but her final point may be the most important.
Give stuff away, don't be afraid to let it go!
Pair down the clothes in your closet, whether too big or too small, much can be donated. 
A junk drawer IS allowed-this is a spot where odds and ends can have a home- a little chaos in a clean house is good! 
Finish the cycle- Don't do things halfway, complete the routine, dirty dishes go in a dishwasher, mail needs to be sorted not piled, clothes hung- it will save time and energy!!
Fork it! everything in your life should be easy to put away, it have its own place - just like if you found a random fork somewhere you would know exactly where it goes.
Life will be always be messy- That's a good thing!
the rule which caught me was the last- we collect clutter - we have memories and experiences and that's a good thing! Organization should not make you feel the need to be perfect- nothing is- a perfect, spotless home lacks life and is unrealistic, who wants to live in a museum anyway?
Creating systems which minimize stress and create balance is what we strive for. A messy life is a happy one, but organization will help you breathe easier and get out the door on time! So make a plan, follow through, purge, sort and keep and then get started living with less.

Monday, February 10, 2014

If only we had more time...

Its cold, its windy and we are inside- looking around at the spaces that need help! One blog I follow, Simplify 101 talked about receiving a letter from a follower- a busy mom who works, has children in activities and has a husband who travels. The dog fits in there somewhere too! As she put it"Just your average, middle class, overworked, overstressed, running daylight to dark, ready to pull my hair out mom" Sound familiar? The blogger put together a list of the best techniques she uses in her own home for getting and staying organized and I thought they were worth hearing- After  a little tweaking of my own- Here are 5 tips that we could all use!! 

1. Own Less Stuff- of course! The less you have the less you have to deal with! It takes up so much time and space-  pare down and don't be afraid to let it go! If you do not use it, if it doesn't fit, or you just don't like it then its OK to donate- you will feel free!

2. Progress Using Small Chunks of Time- If you decide one weekend that you want to clean the basement- you will fail! A project needs time and dividing that time into bits is OK because you will make progress! Even 15 minutes can make a dent- declutter one specific area and then stop. Its OK if its not all done- progress is progress, big or small and you will feel accomplishment rather than failure.

3. Start Saying No!! If you need to create some breathing room in your schedule than start saying no so you can free up time. Use that time to catch up and focus on the projects in your home you want to tackle.  Remember its not no forever for everything, just for now.

4.Keep up don't catch up!- Becoming overwhelmed is never a good feeling- so stay a step ahead of the clutter by keeping up with it. So once a space is organized- take the time required to keep it that way- its probably only a few minutes!

5. Simplify anything you can! Have a simple meal plan you rotate- keep a grocery list so you don't recreate it every week, set up automatic bill paying etc etc! Anywhere you can simplify do it! Create systems that will save you some time.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Rules to Live By

The after Christmas let down- all the shopping, cooking, wrapping, eating and drinking is done and now you are  left with the aftermath. The mountain of mess- one room is worse than the last-garbage, dishes ugh it goes on and on. Now is the moment to take charge- while the family is busy with their new goodies check out this list Real Simple magazine published The Rules of Balanced Organizing- these mottoes promise to bring order to your mind and your post holiday home!
1. One in One out- this is obvious, new pair shoes under the tree then toss old ones out.
2. No Transferring of Clutter- Carrying piles from one room to the next will not solve any problems- don't bury the den to save the dining room.
3. Doubles are Trouble- 5 tweezers yes excessive, but 2 pairs of scissors fine. Remember 2 of anything should be the max.
4. Keep it Where You Use It- stash the toner nest to the printer-  don't make finding simple things a scavnger hunt.
5. A to Z- Fix one spot from start to finish! Do not jump around from mes to mess and end up with many half done projects.
6. Label It- Mark bins and boxes and that way everyone will know where items should go.
7. Just Do It- 1 to do list consolidate all to do items-whether on paper or your phone and then you can keep
8. Organizing is a Circle! You have got to roll with it all the time so get ready to start 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Do You Have a Minute??

So who has 15 minutes? That's about all I have these days. 3 children has consumed most of my time and now the house is not so neat, but since the holiday season is creeping in (ugh!) It's time to take a little control back! We all have areas that get overrun quickly- either full of unused stuff or just items put away poorly. So here is a cheat sheet of how you can spend 15 minutes and solve your toughest home tasks.

1. Junk Drawer- 

TIP:most of these items are NOT junk! We house little essentials that we use on a daily basis so purge anything not necessary.
Product: any drawer oragnizer you like, purchase ones that come in a variety of sizes and shapes- measure the drawer before you buy!

2. Pantry Shelf

Tip: Any item you eat daily needs to be at eye level, less used foods can be down low or stored farther back.
Product: risers allow you to see all the products on a shelf- this will prevent doubling. Also use clear food containers! streamline organization and allow you to see what snacks or cereals you are running out of.

3. Purse/Wallet: 

Tip: Get rid of all the garbge that falls to the bottom and  clean out unused cards etc-complie all shopping club info on one index card or your phone.
Product: Small bags in the bag- categorize, makeup, electronics, kid stuff etc

4. Linen Closet

Tip: You may need more time here but empty the contents. Any sheets that are old, torn or missing a piece of a set toss- same goes for towels too
Product: Dividers will save you! Sheets will stay stacked and organized. Also get baskets for the bottom to house extra soap, Tp etc

Everyone has 15 minutes this weekend- pick one area to tackle and get on it!!!

The list goes on and on..

Who loves to make a list? I do-even with all the clever technology that is around- smart phones, apps, google calendars, I still on a daily basis reach for a pad and pen to create a to-do list! It may be 4-5 chores I hope to fit in that day or those key ingredients I need from the store, but the old fashioned list is easiest way to focus my brain for the day at hand. Crossing off those tasks one by one still yields a feeling of accomplishment!!
Recently a post caught my eye- taking the list to a whole new level! Megan from the blog, Honey we're Home describes the Master List as  
"A giant brain dump"- basically when life becomes too overwhelming pulling us all over the place the Master List can help focus our minds. Putting it all down on paper can really help anyone stress less and not forget the smallest of details. Here is how you can start.
All of our lives can be broken down into sub categories-you, kids, work, home, friends, etc. Under each category, she lists items that need to be completed. During a given time period, she will only highlight a FEW items to be crossed off. Creating the list on the computer will make it simple to revise and edit and color coding different areas is a nice touch. I have used this idea with my house; Take a legal pad and walk room to room. Write down the ideas/projects that you wish for each space. When you are ready for a house weekend- the list is there! Highlight  ONLY the 3-4 tasks you want to complete.  It's the ultimate way to keep many ideas or projects organized, but remember its ongoing,- the list just evolves and adapts as you finish tasks and take on new ones. 
Lastly, For the every day list- dry cleaners, post office etc, I always use a sticky note- attach to your wallet or car console then its easy to keep track of! With the holidays coming- give the Master List a try! I hope it gets your mind and to-do list in order!

Friday, November 30, 2012

This Season Think Sentiment, not Stuff

Where could they possibly store all these lights???
Back again is Peter Walsh, Oprah's organizing whiz, and he is focusing on creating a clutter free holiday. Now I can't promise the holidays will be totally relaxing, perfect and stress free, but he gives great advice in this month's  The Oprah Magazine  on how to tone down the expectations and get what you  really want out of the season. He starts by asking us this question- "What do I want from the holidays?" Not "what do I need for this holiday?" If you set aside time to think about this, most will answer they just want to be with family, friends, for relaxation and reconnection! Here are some tips on how to focus more on the moments instead of the stuff!

1. De-decorate- I love this- don't get me wrong, hanging lights and trimming the tree are family traditions we all enjoy each year, but we have to set a limit on the collecting and displaying of decorations. Peter says we gather more decorations each year, but fail to filter out what we no longer use or what is outdated. Most of us shove all of it back in the bins and boxes when the holidays are over and promise to deal with it next year- does that happen? After you have finished garnishing the house and tree this year- take anything unused and donate. Ornaments can be used at hospitals and Senior centers. Also don't be afraid to let go off items that have seen better days- your holiday spirit will not be reduced!!

2. Don't hold on- pass on- We hold on to many family mementos, but often they end up in storage instead of being displayed and enjoyed. Why not pass on items to family members that would be able to house them properly! You will gain enjoyment watching a loved one enjoying the gift. Family heirlooms will then be passed down and more generations will have a chance to learn about past family members and events. Now is a great time to give precious items you have been holding on to.

3. Share the warmth- It's that time of year to take a hard look at your closet- the coat one! I try to do this every year around late October when we have a chilly day and try on cold weather items to see what still fits or anyone still wants. The coat closet probably holds a few non-essential items that could be donated to people who need some warmth this winter. You will open space in your closet and feel good about giving, especially now with Hurricane Sandy victims in need of so much. Your local goodwill should be the place or check with your town's  family services too.

4. Talk now and buy later We all get anxious thinking about gift giving- who should we buy for? how much should we spend? etc. Peter suggests setting some ground rules- early. Discuss it with friends and family over thanksgiving and make suggestions- Maybe this year its secret Santa or just gifts for kids. For friends, it can be something homemade or set a spending limit- talking about different ideas will end second guessing and frees us up to be more creative.

5. Give the gift of time- This is my favorite idea- time is so precious and hard to come by so if you can set some aside and spend it with friends and family- going to dinner, movies, a show, even out for coffee or shopping the memory of a shared experience will be cherished. It will mean much more then a present -and everyone really benefits. Last year's gift is long forgotten so make this year's really memorable for all!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tis the season.. to stress

This time of year can bring a lot of mixed feelings- excitement and anticipation of the fun  we will experience with friends and family over the next month, but don't be surprised if you also feel tension taking over. Nearly half of all women will feel overwhelmed with all there is to do- shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, decorating, ahhhh! Anyone could use a little help to regain their calm and it does not have to take long. These quick activities featured in O The Oprah Magazine this month offer all you will need- the right choice can bust stress which always makes anyone more organized!!

1. Chew gum ( 10 minutes) gum chewers feel less anxious and have less cortisol in their saliva. It's a great distraction! So while you are waiting in a long checkout line, pop in a piece and hum along to the Christmas tunes.

2. Brew some tea (12 minutes) If you are out running around on a thousand errands a hot drink can keep you motivated and calm- chemical compounds in this antioxidant beverage may relax us as we deck the halls!

3. Massage (15 minutes) If you are running in to get a manicure, a quick chair massage is a smart add on- a friend of mine always does this and says it is well worth it! The at home approach is another effective choice- roll a tennis ball over tired muscles and get a similar effect!

4. Writing (20 minutes) If you need to vent- write it down! Putting your feelings on paper appears to organize your thoughts and release negative emotions. 

5. Rock out! (30 minutes) This is almost a nightly ritual at our house- dinner is cooking, but not quite ready and the kids are antsy, but the music makes the tension melt. Music can elicit positive emotions and reduce stress levels. Boost your mood even more by dancing along! (Make sure you have music you love in the car too for those road trips)

6. IPhone Break (45 minutes) If you have a long list and need to check it twice, but your phone won't stop buzzing- leave it in the car. Constantly checking email and texts puts people on constant high alert with heart rates that indicate stress. Give your self a break so you can focus and finish tasks.

7. Clean house (60 minutes) This may be the last thing you want to do, but getting into a rhythm of folding clothes or vacuuming can disrupt stressful thought patterns and trigger the body's relaxation response. Even organizing a drawer can make you feel relaxed and ready to enjoy this season!