Organizing Tips

Get Your Home and Your Life Organized and Energized!

Do you feel like you and your home are energized and organized?

If you feel overwhelmed and already behind with your resolution to get your life in order, here are a few quick steps you can take to help you get ready for the holidays.

Take the time to look at your home through the eyes of a complete stranger (or perhaps your most critical relative!). I find that when I have a service provider, like a handyman or a heating and air tech, come through my house, I see my home from a completely different perspective. I see the pile that is stacked in front of the electrical box (real life scenario that just happened to me). I see the old Halloween decorations that are still not properly put back into their boxes. So, step one is to see your home from a new perspective. What would you hide or change if you knew someone was coming to appraise, repair or critique your home? Go ahead declutter  and eliminate the obvious eyesores.

Next grab an empty laundry basket and walk through your house collecting items that are not in the right place and need to be put away. After you fill your first basket, empty it by moving to each area stowing each item away into it’s designated ‘home’. Keep filling your basket and moving items to their proper locations.

Next up – declutter your guest room. Even if no one is coming to stay during the holidays, a clean and spacious spare room will give you a huge surge of energy because you will suddenly have a space to stow gifts, make lists, wrap gifts write cards and generally do whatever you need to do to get your holidays organized!

OK – now it’s time to move into your kitchen. The holidays are the time that you really need to clean and clear out your fridge. Tis the season to cook and eat and the last thing you need is a cluttered fridge. I find that the week before I buy the turkey is the best time to clear out the fridge. For most of us it is a necessity or we can’t fit the bird in anyhow!

Give your pantry a once over. As you move items around you can make mental note of what you need to add to your shopping list. It is always good to have a few quick snacks on hand and spur of the moment appetizer ingredients. This is also the time to make sure you have healthy snacks and quick meals stocked and ready for the nights that you get home wiped out from shopping or working a long day. The best way to eat healthy is to plan in advance. Make sure to stock your pantry with snacks that you can take with you while shopping. I love having small packs of nuts in my purse for the times when my outing extends into lunch or dinner time. It keeps me from stopping at a fast food place on the way home!

Set up a gift wrapping station. It is nice to have a dedicated place to store gifts and gift wrap throughout the year. During the holidays, having a space set up will save you time and energy. Imagine having all of your wrapping paper, ribbon, bags, tape, decent scissors and cards all in one place with a surface to work on. You can stow your gifts until wrapped in this same area in a large opaque plastic storage bin. This will keep your gifts clean and away from peeping tom eyes!

These are things that you can do to make your home feel more like a zen sanctuary and less like a chaotic jungle! If you spend the time this weekend organizing and decluttering, I know that you will be able to enjoy the holidays more fully with less stress and less effort.

Remember what Abe Lincoln said? 1 hour of preparation saves 3 hours of perspiration.
Get organized and eliminate unnecessary stress in your life.

If you are already feeling overwhelmed and know that you can’t get your home and your life organized and decluttered, I am here and ready to help. I work in person in the San Diego area and also consult virtually throughout the US. You can reach out and contact me here.

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DOWNSIZE AND ORGANIZE YOUR DIGITAL CLUTTER

If you’ve ever spent a morning trying to track down a lost file on your hard drive or searching through a decade of email, you know that digital disorder can also take a toll on your wellbeing. Most people handle a constant flow of text messages, emails, photos, videos, and other digital information. When all that digital data piles up, it can slow you and your devices down. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to downsizing and organizing your digital clutter.

Get Organized

Does your documents folder or email inbox resemble a junk drawer with everything tossed in together? Do you usually rely on your search box to help you find files? An organization structure can help you declutter, share, synchronize, move, and easily track down files. Follow these simple steps to get your digital life organized:

Designate Categories

Browse through your files and emails and determine the major and minor categories they fall into. For instance, you may be able to divide photos into “work photos,” “family photos, “head shots,” etc. Within those categories, you may have subcategories.

Make Folders

Once you’ve determined what categories and subcategories you want to use for each type of file, make folders or subfolders for them.

Develop Naming Guidelines

Librarians who manage large digital collections use consistent, meaningful, and descriptive names to identify what’s inside each file. Follow suit, and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to track down specific files and photos when you need them. For documents, designate a naming structure such as “descriptive keywords-type of document.” For example, this article might be named “digital-decluttering-article.” For images, create a structure such as “descriptive keywords-month-year.” For example, vacation photos might be named “Hawaii-vacation-March-2017). For emails, use descriptive subject headings.

Automate Email Organization

Email inboxes can become unmanageable quickly. Depending on your email provider, you can automatically filter incoming emails into certain folders. For instance, all newsletters can be sent to a “newsletters” folder, and emails from colleagues can automatically be sent to a “work” folder.

Declutter Your Digital Past

Depending on how long it’s been since you’ve sorted through your digital data, you may need to do a major purge to get back on track. As with any big organizational project, the hardest part can be getting started. Set aside plenty of time, and commit to going through everything saved on your computer, mobile devices, external hard drive, or in the cloud, including photos, files, and personal records.

How Long to Keep Digital Files - Downsize and Organize Your Digital Clutter

Decluttering can be an emotional process. Set a relaxing tone by listening to music and treating yourself to your favorite beverage. Repeat the decluttering motto: “If in doubt, throw it out,” and begin sorting files into folders. If you find yourself deliberating for more than a minute about keeping any item, create a “maybe” folder, and put it there.

Most of us accumulate a lot of photos and videos, because it’s so inexpensive and easy to snap and upload them these days. Photos and videos can hold a lot of sentimental value and can be difficult to downsize. However, it’s worth it! Not only are these files large and expensive to store; you don’t want to have to scroll through hundreds of files to find the photos that are meaningful to you.

Start by purging the following:

Blurry photos
Duplicates
Extremely similar photos
Photos with poor lighting
Poor quality videos
Photos or videos that no longer hold sentimental value
Photos or videos that are no longer meaningful to you
Back up Important Files
Once you’ve purged and organized, you’ll be left with only those files that are important and meaningful to you. Ensure that they’re safe! Computer hard drives don’t last forever and are susceptible to mechanical defects, virus and malware attacks, accidents, and other threats. Most experts recommend saving important data in three locations. For instance, you could save one copy on your computer’s hard drive, one in a cloud service, and one on an external hard drive.
Digital Decluttering Schedule - Downsize and Organize Your Digital Clutter
Make a Plan
Digital clutter builds up quickly. Get out your calendar, and schedule regular recurring dates with yourself to keep your data in order.

Keeping Data Safe Long-Term - Downsize and Organize Your Digital Clutter

Destination Peace of Mind
Decluttering, organizing, and securing your digital data can be a big task, especially if you haven’t dealt with it for a while. However, your efforts will pay off. You’ll not only keep your computer and devices running well; you’ll likely enjoy greater productivity and peace of mind.

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The Art of Finding Lost Things Becomes Easier with Less Clutter

I recently came across an article that talked a bit about clutter in a new way.

It put a smile n my face when Findologist Michael Solomon stated that there is nothing in your life that is lost, or no missing objects, simply an unsystematic search and/or clutter.

The art of not losing things within your life is to have a designated ‘home’ for everything. I am sure you have heard the phrase – ‘everything should have a home with a ‘yard’ around it’.

In case you are wondering what the ‘yard’ around it means, think of it this way; I you create a designated place for an object and it only fits that object, what happens when you add a second similar object?

Your system breaks down, right?

So having a ‘yard’ around each designated home will allow you room to grow because, let’s face it, we always grow and add more objects to our homes!

Also there is a great explanation of “The Camouflage Effect” and how to eliminate searching and not finding your lost objects!

Read more within this article, It will and make you smile and begin to feel less frantic when the day happens that you really cant find that super important item that you know you just saw!

 

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Do you use your inBox as a task list?

Has the concept of using your inbox as a task list ever crossed your mind?

The sad truth is if you have never thought about it, you probably are doing just that!

Over the years as a Pro Organizer, I have learned that most of my clients keep emails in their inbox as reminders of things that they have to do later.

While this seems like a simple solution, emails quickly pile up and the tasks and ‘to do’s’ that remain in the inbox get buried quickly.

A recent article titled Simple Tips For Getting Amazingly Organized published in Forbes Magazine explains how and why you should use every day tools like your inbox and phone reminders to streamline your life:

What are some simple ways to get and stay organized?

“You’ve done checklists, to-do lists, countless scheduling apps, and the latest in memory tricks. Yet, it can still sometimes feel as though your desk is cluttered, your inbox full, and your calendar is a mess. Are there any tips to getting (and staying) organized that are easy to implement and maintain?

Beth Beutler is the owner of H.O.P.E. Unlimited, providing collaborative virtual assistants and business soft skill education for overwhelmed professionals so they can excel. She’s also the author of 52 Ways To Be More Organized. I recently interviewed Beth on the LEADx podcast to learn a few of her go-to moves to staying on target. (The interview below has been lightly edited for space and clarity.)

Kevin Kruse: What are some of your favorite tips for people who are super crazy busy?

Beth Beutler: Well, let me give you a couple of practical ones. One tool I have found helpful is to keep a small dry erase board at my desk. So often, we take sticky notes and pieces of scrap paper and jot things down real quick and all that, and they end up staying on our desk and cluttering up the visual field of our desk. And they may be old and we don’t need them anymore, but we’re just used to them being there. With a dry erase board you can quickly jot down that number and then erase it when you’re done or transfer it to something on your computer. So that’s a real practical one.

Record reminders to yourself on the fly. Almost all of us carry smartphones now and have either have OK Google or Siri or some kind of assistant like that, that you can just say, “Hey, remind me…” You know, you think of things sometimes in an impractical place and so if you can pull your phone out and say, “Hey, remind me of this particular person I need to call or task that I need to remember.” Now, I wouldn’t do that for a recurring task, you need to manage those probably with a task management system, but we all need those occasional things that say, “Oh, it’s my friend’s birthday, send her a text later.” Things like that that you can record or message.”

To read the entire article click here.

 

 

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Want to Create More Hours in Your Day?

To create more free time, it helps to become aware of the energetics created by our routines, our stuff and our surrounding environment.

You see, we can protect and even boost our energy levels by creating systems to handle the minutiae and diiligently eliminating our excess stuff!

This planet is currently experiencing an information and technology overload.

There is so much noise in the world it is hard to pay attention to the important things. The things that will bring us success. The things that will bring us joy and peace.

Let’s face it: We spend so much time accumulating possessions, interacting with technology and shuffling paperwork that we often lose track of what we need to do in order to keep our life in balance.

It is easier now than ever to become unbalanced and overwhelmed.

Do you have days where at the end of the day, you wonder what you actually did? It happens to all of us.

There are many proven techniques that you can use to create balance, have more time for fun and even increase your prosperity.

Here is one routine to incorporate into your life and a sure-fire way to take contol of your time:

Stop letting your inbox zap your energy and suck the productivity out of your day. Take control of your email addiction and never check your inbox first thing in the morning!

I know you might have heard this before but do you understand why it is important?

When you jump into your inBox before you plan what you need to accomplish that day, you will get sucked in and inevitably delay tackling your current projects for an hour or two.

Why does this happen? I am not sure if you have thought about this, but here is the truth about emails:

Every email sent to you represents someone who wants you to do something. Someone who wants you to take some type of action. So – guess what?

When you begin reading your emails, you immediately go into reaction mode. You either spend time responding immediately or figure out that you dont have time to respond and table it for later.

Once tabled, the email/request stays there demanding your time and energy later. Does this make sense?

So this is your challenge, should you accept it, for this week: Don’t open your inBox until you have planned your day and know exactly what you wish to accomplish. Once you are crystal clear about the direction and schedule for the day, you will know how much time you can spend there and what time is the appropriate time to open your emails and check your inbox.

Try being intentional with your inbox this week. You will be amazed how your stress level lowers and how much more you will accomplish.

 

 

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You Can Use Moving as a Catalyst for Downsizing

downsizing

Most of us have clutter lying around the house: trinkets we don’t remember how we obtained, broken or worn items we’re never going to use again, things we were gifted but never wanted, the list goes on.

Moving is a great catalyst for getting rid of things you don’t want or need. A new home is a blank slate. You can start anew with only items that benefit your life. Below are some tips for using moving as a catalyst for downsizing your possessions.

womanundermoving boxes

Decide What’s Important to You

The first step to downsizing is to analyze your viewpoint on possessions. What sort of items do you want in your life? Obviously, items you use on a daily basis will stay. These items make your life easier and contribute to your happiness and well-being. When it comes to décor and other items, think about whether you notice them often and if they make you smile. We all want a positive vibe in our living space, but too many trinkets can actually add stress to your life instead of bringing joy.

You’ll also want to think about what you want your new home to look and feel like. This means getting rid of items that are broken, damaged, or just don’t contribute to your space. As you pack, you’ll want to think about every item. Does it add functionality or positivity to your life? If not, strongly consider leaving it behind.

Decluttering

Purge Your Belongings

After you’ve decided your standards for keeping and getting rid of items, it’s time to start the purge. Here is a great article with tips for purging your belongings before a move. 

As the article states, you’ll want to be very intentional in your organization. Designate piles and boxes for items you’re keeping, items you’re donating, and garbage. I suggest creating these groups in piles first, then packing your “keep” pile a few days later. This will give you a second chance to analyze whether each item truly positively contributes to your life.

You should get rid of:

Items you haven’t used in over 6 months

Items you’re only keeping to make someone else happy (gifts you never wanted)

Anything that is broken (if you haven’t fixed it yet, you probably never will

Clothes you haven’t worn in 6 months (with the exception of seasonal wear)

momentum

Keep the Momentum Going

Once you’ve moved, you have a chance to keep the momentum from your purge. You can do this in several ways. The first is to resist the urge to fill your new space with clutter. Keep your home organized and only buy things that you actually need. 

The second trick is to pay attention to what items you’re using. My favorite trick for keeping the closet organized is to turn the hangers backwards when hanging all your clothes. Then, after you wear them, re-hang the item the opposite direction. In 3 months, you’ll be able to quickly see which clothes you haven’t worn. If they aren’t seasonal, there’s a strong case for donating them.

Sometimes it’s easy to get in a funk with clothing. You wear the same clothes over and over again because you like them. But then maybe a certain shirt gets really worn. You keep wearing it because you used to love it, but you no longer feel confident in it. Learn to purge clothes as soon as they don’t make you feel good. This includes shirts with un-removable stains, clothing with (un-fashionable) rips and tears, and jeans that no longer fit properly, resulting in the zipper constantly sliding down. Removing these items from your closet will result in a functional wardrobe full of clothes you truly enjoy wearing.

These are just a few ways that moving can help you be more intentional in how you view your belongings. Do you have any downsizing tips? Share in the comments!

Moving-truck

* Contributor Jeriann Watkins blogs at dairyairhead.com. As a crafter, she knows the challenge of wanting to keep items for their potential. You can see her organization tips and downsizing successes on her blog.
 
 
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Recycling Your Old Batteries Is Easy

A client recently made this discovery about how to recycle her old batteries. My clients are so smart and savvy!

The Waste Management program here in San Diego makes it super simple.

On recycle day, you can put your old batteries in a ziplock bag and leave it on top of your recycle bin and they will take them away and dispose of them properly! How easy is that?

If you don’t live in San Diego and want to learn  how you can recycle, contact your local waste management company. From what I have learned, this process is available almost everywhere in the US. Also libraries and other public facilities now have bins where you can drop off at no charge.

There are also other resources listed in the infographics below. Use your mouse to enlarge:

Battery_recycling_jpeg

This is the process that happens when you recycle:

Battery-Recycling-Process1

Thanks for doing your part to recycle and protect Mother Earth!

 

 

 

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4 Tips to Keep Your Car Organized (+ Bonus Video to Organize Grocery Shopping)

Cars that used to be luxury items are now turning into on-the-go dens and mini-offices. Whether you play the role of mom chauffeur or work on the road, you need to implement a few tricks to keep your clutter at bay.

Let’s face it, kids in and out, spending time in school lines and working from your car will add wear and tear on the car and also add wear and tear on you – the driver!

Sticky seats, pens without caps, stale coffee mugs and other nasty items can gross out even the most seasoned traveller. So what to do?

Follow these 4 steps to keep your ‘home on wheels’ in good condition

1. Keep your car tidy by always taking something with you when you go from your car to your home.  And ask everyone (kids, spouse) to take something, too!

2. Use storage and organizing containers on the back of your car seats and in the trunk.

3. Keep reusable bags in your car so you are ready for eco-friendly shopping at all times.

4. Keep a trash bag in the car so that trash has a place to live other than your floorboard!

Watch this video to learn many other grocery shopping and meal preparation tips for staying organized:

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How to Increase The Storage Space Within Your Small Closet

What’s the best way to manage the limited space without having to do renovation work on the house?

 

Clients frequently ask me this questions and I solve this challenge with a few different organizing tricks.

 

One of the most common tips I recommend  is to convert your single rod into a double rod by adding a drop down hanging rod.

 

These are available at most department stores, are super cost effective and do not require tools to assemble.

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 5.43.10 PM

Once you have doubled your hanging space, make sure to look up and see what type of extra space you have above your shelf. You can easily add another free-standing shelf on top of your shelf for more storage area. I have used the inexpensive shoe shelves to add more shelf space above the traditional single shelf.

If you don’t want to install another shelf, use containers that are more tall than wide to use as much space above as possible.

If you have a two sliding door closet with pockets of unused space on either side, purchase a shoe carousel that secures itself floor to ceiling on a rod.

The seemingly useless pocket of space to the right or left of your sliding door can then be used for shoe storage.

 

If you don’t have space in the corner for this solution, use hanging shoe bags which will drop down off your hanging rod to hold 10 pairs of shoes in a 4-5 inch area. I once used 4 of these to organize 40 pairs of shoes. The hanging rod space required was less than 20 inches!

 

If these tips don’t quite finish your organizing closet project, leave a comment or question below and I will offer you even more solutions based on what you are up against.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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