The Benefits of an Organized Home

Sometimes people get too bogged down in the details, the process and the struggles.  If you focus on the goal, the outcome and the positive benefits, even a project like cleaning the kitchen can have a positive twist!

So let’s talk about the benefits of having an organized home. I can think of many reasons that keep me striving, not for perfection, but organization:

  1. When life is chaotic and schedules are hectic, in one day you can get it all back to normal.
  2. Broken items get fixed and projects are completed in  a timely matter.
  3. You can have friends pop by whenever they want!
  4. You can offer to host neighborhood get togethers for kids and parents so you are more social.
  5. You save money by not overbuying, paying bills on time and taking advantage of special offers/coupons.
  6. If something is lost, it’s in one of two places or it’s not in your house! You won’t waste time looking for it.
  7. There is a predictable flow to your day and your week.
  8. You can afford to shut down for a day and everything will be fine.
  9. You don’t stress. You plan and do.
  10. You look forward to coming home.

Have you realized any of these benefits in your home?

Organize Your Job Search

I was recently invited to speak at a network meeting for job seekers at a local parish. While I’m an expert on organizing, my husband is really the experienced one with job searching. He was out of work for 10 months last year and each day he was busy working his system. Thank God it paid off eventually.  So I picked his brain and presented these tips:

General Tips:

CREATE A ROUTINE FOR YOURSELF-  There is comfort in routines. In stressful times, if you have a routine then you don’t have to think too much, just DO. Too much time to think can lead to negative thoughts.  Keep busy & productive. Maybe even throw in time for something you’ve been meaning to do. Work when you are at your best.

START WITH A GOOD LIST(S)

  • Industry experience – what industries have you worked in? Where would you like to work?
  • Job experience – what specific jobs have you held? The broader the better. What jobs would you like to do? (maybe your experience here has been on a volunteer basis)
  • People Connections – who do you know who has a job you would like to do? Who is still in your industry?

KEEP A NOTEBOOK WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES. Ideas come at all different times:  while you’re driving, before you go to bed, when you’re out talking to people.

The Process:

This process if for using on-line search engines such as:  Career Builders & Monster, The Ladder (for exec jobs), other specific sites for government jobs, academia, health care, etc.

  1. Set up multiple searches using key words like job titles, industries, software experience. Be inclusive rather than exclusive. [i.e. not just accounting jobs in Telecommunications Industry, but all accounting & all telecom jobs]
  2. Set each specific search to hit your email once a week.
  3. Browse the search engines once a week. Look at new postings for jobs that may have missed your search criteria.
  4. If there are companies where you would like to work:  search their job postings every 2 weeks.
  5. This is less “routine” but equally as important:  Phone networking and face to face networking.  If things are slow, take an old colleague out to lunch or go to their company’s happy hour, or networking event.  Go to your reunions, chat with friends on line.
  6. Apply to the jobs that interest you.
  7. Keep a log in excel w/columns for: search engine, job title, date, progress, names, direct emails, notes.
  8. If you know the name of the company, look at their website & research. Ask around if anyone you know works there or has a connection there.
  9. Adapt versions of your resume to meet the job criteria (use specific key words because these will pass the screening process).  Make it succinct, catch their interest, don’t tell your whole story
  10. Adapt versions of your cover letter and always include one, even though it might not get looked at on the first pass. Format: Greeting, bullet section, closing. Change the bullet section to fit the job.
  11. Follow up 2 weeks after applying. Call HR department or send a follow up email or letter. Check the company website for a contact name.
  12. At the interview: Dress appropriately, bring a copy of your resume, ask when they plan to do the next round of interviews and how they will notify you.
  13. Follow up with a thank you note or email the next day.  Differentiate yourself.  Say you are very interested in the job, reconfirm the time frame.
  14. Call if the time frame has passed and you haven’t heard anything.
  15. If your leads are stale, go back to the searches you set up and tweak them with new key words, new industries, etc.

Finally, give yourself time. Know that you are not alone. Unemployment is unfortunately common these days. If you are married, talk with your spouse about a plan B, and maybe a plan C.  Think it through: “If I don’t have a job by this date, I will go get a part time job. OR We may need to move OR I may have to change fields.” Whatever it is that you believe is your next step. You need to talk about it and plan. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Please comment with any tips you have used to organize your job search!

Spring Cleaning

So what is spring cleaning? Does it mean we have to clean up around the outside of our house? Use vinegar on the windows? Beat the carpets? Or is it that desire to air out our homes and hang our linens on the clothesline for that crisp clean smell?

Whatever it is, I am ready for it and so are my clients. They’ve been easily tossing things for the last 2 weeks. Even those who normally hang on to stuff! So if you’re feeling it – I said go for it. I guess it means something different to everyone. Here’s what I like to do once the snow has melted and the temperature rises:

  1. Get outside and play & pick-up sticks with my kids. Literally, have them help you pick up sticks that have fallen all winter. Set a timer and make it a game or have a contest to see who gets the most. Then tie them up or put them in a trash can and dispose of them.
  2. Give the house a thorough cleaning from top to bottom. Start on the top floor, and clean each room until you reach the basement. This may take a day, a week or a month. Also, look up in your rooms – at the light fixtures or tops of shelves. These places are often neglected during your regular cleaning. And move the furniture to vacuum underneath.
  3. Clean out the closets – This is a great time to purge your clothes and the kids’. My method is to take everything out and put back what fits, box up what doesn’t and give it to charity. Make a list of what staple goods you need for spring & summer and reward yourself with a little shopping spree. But bring the list!
  4. Dare I say it? Put the shovels, the ice melt and the Christmas lights away. Use a cord wrap for the lights and tuck them away in the garage. Make sure spring items are easily accessible: bikes, baseball gear, roller blades, gardening supplies, etc.
  5. Air out & switch out your linens. Time for lighter blankets & sheets so wash the winter ones and tuck sheets sets into a pillowcase, making it easier to find the sets together next time. Just for fun, wash the curtains, area rugs and maybe put out some spring throw pillows and blankets. Crack the windows on a nice day and you just might & catch it – spring fever!
  6. As you are going through the house make a list of “fix-its” or projects you would like to accomplish this season. Then discuss priorities & budget for these with your spouse. I always get 3 quotes and then tackle one project at a time. Plan to finish before your summer vacation!

Leave a comment to tell me what you will do for Spring Cleaning!