Absolute #10 – Routines are a Must!

deb4_0689-300x225Ok, so here it is – the final Absolute of Organizing. It’s the most important because after organizing is a project it really is a process. A process that you have to do every day or you’ll be back at square one with a mess on your hands. So create daily routines to keep your life & home running smoothly.

Think about it – did you ever walk out of the house without brushing your teeth or putting on deodorant? Ok maybe once or twice but not daily. That’s because you probably have a hygiene routine you follow each morning. If you forget something crucial, it’s most likely because your routine was interrupted. So if other things about your life are frequently forgotten, think about where you need a routine.

Mail – The most common routine I see missing is how to handle the mail. Many of you know this so I’ll just keep it simple. Open the mail, sort it into: To Do, To Read, To File and then move your piles to where you will handle them.

Email is much like the paper mail. You must have a routine or you will get sucked in! Triage it in the morning. This means mark as spam any messages that you will NEVER read. Delete messages that you won’t read today but may want sometimes. RESPOND to anything that is a quick answer or urgent. FILE any emails that you will need to reference in the future (yes you can create folders right on your email). And if you are in a rush or your timer has gone off, leave all remaining emails in your Inbox – these are your To Do’s which can be handled later. At lunch time, check for urgent emails again and then in the evening if you have time, clear those non-urgent emails in your inbox.

Hectic times of day – if it’s the morning rush or the post work/school rush that has you pulling your hair out, create a routine. Maybe it’s to put on the news while you cook dinner or clean up dishes from the day. Maybe it’s to delegate to your children setting the table or walking the dog. Whatever it takes to calm down a chaotic time. If you have a morning routine you can actually doing it while sleep walking!

Weekly/Monthly Tasks – Think about the things that have to get done weekly like trash, laundry, and food shopping, then assign a day for each. Monthly tasks like bill paying should also have a routine that includes one place where you put the bills and all the materials you need to pay them at hand. Then you need to schedule it.

Straightening the house – The simplest way to keep a house straightened is to have all family members straighten their bedrooms in the morning and the common areas at night. At the very least, get items to the right room even if they are not put away.

 I hope that gives you some ideas to get your routines started in the place where you most need them! What are some of your organizing routines? Leave a comment:

Absolute #9 – Organize from BIG to small

Big – like a whole storage room garage

 

 

make up

 

 

 

Small – like your makeup bag

This absolute or rule of mine is another way of saying, “start by looking at the big picture.” I think many people are overwhelmed with the concept of organizing their home. They don’t know where to start so they start small. They fold clothes on shelves, clean out a junk drawer, put little pieces of toys in a bin. All of those exercises are worthwhile and can help you straighten up your home, but they don’t take into account the big picture. Here are some quick tips on how you can organize from big to small.

  1. If you want to organize your whole house, take a walk through it with a notebook. Write down the function of each room and then what needs to get out and what needs to stay in that room. Then move things to the right room.
  2. If you are tackling one room or area, categorize everything in there first. Start with what you see – items on shelves, table tops, floor, your bed, etc. Then dig deep into drawers, closets and pull everything out. You may be surprised at the biggest pile!
  3. Address each pile separately and purge what needs to go out: donate, trash, recycle and move to another room might be your sorts here.
  4. Now we get into the small stuff. What you have left in the room needs to find a home. That could mean a shelf, a drawer, a closet or new bins.
  5. If you are left with some itty bitty categories like jewelry, foreign money, craft notions, or baseball cards you can put those in a temporary bin, take them out of the room and do a mini categorize, purge & re-arrange. That can be done while watching TV.

By following these tips you will have done a thorough clean out. I’ve seen it work in all kinds of homes for the last 11 years. And if you want to re-arrange your sock drawer so be it. But starting small will take you a long time to get the whole house in order.

The Lazy Person’s Guide To an Organized Home

The Lazy Person's Guide To an Organized Home2

 

 

 

 

Guest Post by Ella Andrews

There is nothing shameful in admitting that you are not into organizing. Believe it or not, most people have the same attitude towards daily organizing chores. How do they succeed at keeping their home neat? It’s all about the proper storage solutions. You can maintain the pleasing appearance of your living space even if you are lazy and not exactly motivated. The secret is to trick yourself into doing it.

Many people get discouraged by the idea of spending their whole weekend sorting through piles of clutter. Indeed it’s not a pleasant activity, but it is manageable if you follow this process:

Set a Deadline

When you know that you can prolong something for infinite amount of time, you will have less incentive to deal with it as soon as possible. Having a clear schedule will give you an idea of what you actually need to do. Completing each task within a deadline will boost your confidence that you can manage the issue and will provide you with certain satisfaction.

Start With the Not-So-Obvious

There are a number of hidden spots around your home that are flooded with clutter. When in a hurry, you probably fill different drawers with miscellaneous items. You have no clue what is going on in there until you open the “Pandora’s box.” Even exposed areas like coffee tables and countertops fill with various things that are often neglected. You can pass them, without even noticing the chaos. Instead of overflowing multiple drawers with random stuff, have one specific place. Just imagine how much mental energy you waste trying to figure out where you put those keys. You can save efforts and time by designating one “junk” drawer or basket – a lazy storage solution for a lazy person.

Deal With It Right Away

You can avoid getting overwhelmed by simply dealing with the mess on time. A big part of the problem comes from the natural tendency to procrastinate. Get rid of this nasty little habit. You will find immediate improvements.

Try to de – clutter on the go. For instance, when new mail arrives, keep only the important and throw away the rest. Have a recycle bin close to your doorway. In this way you will stop unnecessary paper from accumulating. Try to put everything on its place after you used it. This applies particularly to your clothes. Don’t simply put them on the chair or let them lie on the floor. Spare five minutes to return them back in the closet or put dirty clothes in a hamper.

Make It Fun

Most people associate organizing with their teenage years when they were constantly told to clean their room. Transform your attitude towards de – cluttering. One way is to combine the annoying tasks with something pleasant. If you love music, turn it on and start dealing with the clutter. Think of a compatible activity that will make organizing a little less painful. In time you will start feeling less stressed and antagonistic towards the household tasks.

Maintain your positive attitude and persistence and you will soon find out that organizing is not all that bad.

 

Ella Andrews is a dedicated writer and keen home improvement specialist. She gets inspiration by exploring new sources of information regarding household maintenance. Presently she writes mostly about house and office removal matters. Read more tips on: http://www.manandavanlondon.org/storage/

How to Make Your home Look More Organized

I’m always asked for quick tips and tricks on organizing. I usually answer that there’s no trick. There is a method, there are routines and it’s an on going process to keep your home organized. However I will tell you that if you are a visual person, one key to looking and feeling more organized is uniformity.

Let me explain. You can have a closet or shelf that is functionally organized, but it still looks off to you. It doesn’t feel neat and tidy even though you can find what you need.  Like this:

after closet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you put like things together and in uniform bins, it will look much better, like this:

shelf bins

shelf bins

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try this with your clothes closet. Put everything on the same type of hanger.  My favorite is the new micro-suede hangers because they are thin and they grip silky materials. Put like items together: blouses, pants, jackets, dresses and see what a difference it makes. You will feel like you’re shopping at a store every time you get dressed! Better yet if you can have a little space between clothes.

hangers

 

 

 

 

 

You can also try this with your storage shelves in the basement or attic. Put everything in the same type of bin and label it uniformly. This will make finding what you need so much easier.

atticmaxx

 

 

 

 

On a smaller scale, try this with your file drawer.  Just by putting files in the same manila or hanging files and labeling them with color codes and in the same type, you will have a neat drawer that is so much easier to use.

FFSetUpHorizJPG

 

 

 

 

(This is an example of Freedom Filer labels which can be ordered from my Resources page)

What area can you improve with uniformity?

10 Things This Pro Organizer Wants You to Know

cover shotAbout a year ago, Reader’s Digest published a list in their “Who Knew” section entitled, 13 Things A Personal Organizer Won’t Tell You. I like to think that I do tell my clients these things when we meet in person and when we are in the process of getting organized. For those of you who haven’t worked with me, here are my tell-all nuggets that I have picked up over the last 12 years:

  1. Yes, many of my clients “know” how to organize. I don’t think you’re stupid. In fact most of my clients are smarter than me. But there’s a reason why you called me and just by making that appointment and having me work with you, we will get to the project that has been escaping you, for whatever reason.
  2. Most clutter is just post-poned decisions. I’m going to press you and play devil’s advocate just to get you to decide. If you say, “keep it for now” you’re postponing again!
  3. I know your stuff may have been worth a lot of money when you bought it, but the reality is that it’s probably not worth much now. (With a few exceptions.)It’s easier,and I believe better, to donate what you don’t want or need. If you’ve got classic antiques, we’ll check those out but clothes and household trinkets are just not worth selling.
  4. I don’t recommend yard sales. Like consignment and trying to re-sell items, it takes a lot more time and energy than it’s worth. That being said, if your neighborhood is having a sale day and someone does the advertising and marketing to get people on your street AND it’s going to be a fun day outside for you and your family – go for it. If it’s only you, think twice.
  5. Your closet is full of “someday” items and “wear only with ___” items that are really just taking up space that could be filled with “I love this” items. Keep clothes that make you feel great and look great. Everything else can be donated.
  6. Don’t be afraid to have your kids help with purging. When you start them young, they learn that sometimes you should let go of things. If they are the type that is emotionally attached to everything, you hold up the item and ask for a YES or NO decision. It keeps things moving.
  7. Don’t make your systems too complicated! Some of my perfectionist clients do this, and then they can’t keep up with their own system. So use bins, files – things that are easy to dump things into. If you are designating a single category to each, it’s easy to keep up with. For example, in a linen closet have a bin of household refills, another for medicine. Keep files names general until they get too big, then sub divide.
  8. There’s no magic to keeping up with organization. It’s a matter of having routines. You can do them daily, weekly or monthly. I suggest paperwork & mail – deal with it daily. Straighten bedrooms & family rooms daily, clean weekly (or bi-weekly) and clean out monthly or seasonally those areas that you don’t use all the time. (garage, basement, attic)
  9. Hiring an organizer is a luxury, we know. But if you need someone to keep you focused, give you different ideas, help you haul stuff out, and teach you systems and strategies, that may free up valuable time for other things in your life. Don’t feel guilty that you need help.
  10. If I’m taking donations out the back door, don’t keep bringing new stuff in the front door. Learning to live with less stuff can be very calming. The less you have, the less you have to categorize, purge and re-arrange. One simple tip is always shop with a list of what you need.

What’s your experience in working with an organizer?

Help Your Kids set Goals

goalsAt this time of year there’s a lot of focus on adults getting their acts together. We want to get in shape, save money, make more money, reach new milestones. But what about our kids? If we help them develop goals, gain focus and make a plan, I believe that will give them a life skill that they will use over and over again throughout their lives.

Just the other day, my sixth grader received a letter that he had written to himself one year ago. His clever fifth grade teacher had each child fill out a simple form with: Books I’d like to read in 2014, Things I’d like to learn more about, One thing I’d like to change,etc. Then she had them address the letter to themselves and she mailed them this January 1. That’s one way to do it, and it was interesting to see where his mind was at last year, but if he never looked at those goals or made a detailed plan to reach them what are the chances of success? Not very good I tell you.

As parents, here’s a few things you can do to help your kids start off the year with some attainable goals.

1. Write it Down Annual Goals - Sit down with your child one on one. Ask her what does she want to achieve this year? Maybe it’s an academic achievement, or making a sports team, or learning a new skill. Then talk about when he/she can do on a day to day basis to reach that goal. Putting it in writing solidifies the goal. And posting it on a bulletin board, white board or a simple post-it on the desk gives him a constant visual reminder of what he’s working towards. Also put daily or weekly tasks into a daily planner so your child remembers to do these.

2. Check in on a weekly basis – Sunday nights might be a good time to talk as your family looks ahead to the new week. Check academic assignments or tests that are coming up. See what your child has planned in the way of extra-curriculars for the week. Don’t overload the schedule but make sure that there is time for productivity.

3. Positive Feedback – As your child reaches little milestones, tell them you are proud. If you want to reward them in other ways, okay. But parental approval and confidence does go a long way in motivating your adolescent to keep going!

4. Have a plan B – So it might not all go perfectly. Kids fail tests, they don’t make the team, they don’t get elected sometimes. It’s a life lesson that they may as well learn now. So help them dust off and come up with a plan B. For example if your son doesn’t make the school football team, is there a less competitive team he can play on during that season? If your child fails a test, immediately ask the teacher about extra credit. If your child runs for an office and loses, is there another committee he/she can volunteer for? You may be surprised how many options are out there until you search and ask the question.

5. Help them re-prioritize  – Each year in school brings a new challenge. This is especially true in high school. One year the goal might be to get a driver’s license, another year it’s get into a dream college, or get a part-time job. There’s so much thrown at students these days that it’s really helpful for a parent to narrow down the priorities to maybe three per semester. Talk about them, post them and this helps the kids focus.

I will say that I have learned this through experience. I have a daughter who was very involved in high school. She was loyal to her various committees and activities. Sometimes I had to remind her to focus on her own priorities of getting good grades, getting into college and working a part-time job. On a day to day basis, this helped her focus. My sons are athletes and the competition gets tougher the older they get. My husband helps them design a workout routine to make sure they are at their best condition when tryouts occur. I help them look at long term projects and set interim deadlines. Kids seem to think they have all the time in the world and they only think about what’s happening tomorrow. Parents can provide a great service in helping them see the big picture and plan ahead to meet their goals.

 

Out With the Old – In with the new!

messy office

 

 

This is the week for New Year’s Resolutions. And I know many of you will be planning to get more organized this year! And even if that’s not your goal for the year, many of you organized people will be cleaning out files, bins and desktops this week. So here are some quick tips to help you with that process. I’ve got a list of “no-brainers” that you can toss in order to make room for all the new stuff that will come in the new year.

1. Reading materials – Any magazine or periodical with the year 2014 or earlier can be tossed. If there is something in there worth saving (like a great article or a recipe) tear it out, file it or scan it. Then have a nice basket or bin cleared out for your 2015 reading.

2. Banking receipts – all those ATM receipts that are filling up your purse, a drawer in your desk or a bin can be shredded IF YOU HAVE BALANCED YOUR BANK ACCOUNT THIS MONTH. Once the deposit or withdrawal has shown up on your statement, the little piece of paper is redundant. So keep your statements (most of which are on line now).

3. Food – If it’s been a week or longer for those leftovers – use ‘em or lose ‘em. Expired jars and cans can also be tossed.

4. Calendars – toss last year’s and buy a nice pretty one to keep with your or hang in a central location in your home.

5. Holiday decorations that you didn’t use – donate to a senior center, school or theater.

6. Wrapping paper, cards, boxes and bows – when you put your gifts away, keep the best, toss the rest and fold the paper and boxes down for easy storage.

7. All those holiday photo cards. – Keep the photos that are important to you and cut them to fit in an album. Toss the rest, know one will know!

8. Invitations to events that already happened. – You wouldn’t believe how long I’ve seen these things hanging around on bulletin boards, calendars and in planners.

9. Post its and scraps of papers of things you “meant to do.” Take a clean sheet of loose leaf or a page in your new daily planner and make a master TO DO list. Only include those things that are still a priority. Then assign each task or project to a month of the year and write it on that month’s page. I wouldn’t plan out any further than 6 months.

10. Envelopes that you’re saving because of the return address – Take the information, write it in your address book or make an excel spreadsheet and toss the envelopes.

Good luck with your post holiday, pre-new year clean out!

What other areas do you like to tackle before the year’s end?

Wrapping Up the Year

gift box
My wish for all my subscribers and clients this year is that you have at least a few days off around the holidays to really wrap up your year in a thoughtful way.

This is a gift that my husband and I have been giving each other for years. Maybe it’s because we are both entrepreneurs and that’s what we do for our business – we take stock of what went well this year and then look at what didn’t work so well. We look at where our money was spent and then think about was that the best use of resources? It’s really a great exercise and it helps you get over the melancholy of “another year gone by.” And gives you something to shoot for in the New Year.

Here are a few questions and suggestions to guide you through a way to wrap up your year:

  1. Work – How is your work going? Do you like what you do? Do you want to change what you do? Do you have any flexibility in your work hours? Is there a higher level you would like to achieve? Write it down or talk it out with someone you trust, then make a goal and a plan for your next step. If you work part time and can control the hours, sometimes you just have to block off that time in your planner and say, “this is when I will work.” Sometimes it’s a matter of speaking up to your boss about a raise, a move or a career path change. You know what you can control and what you can’t, so set realistic goals and expectations.
  1. Play – Did you get some play time this year? Consider hobbies and sports, vacations and time with your kids if they are little enough to still want to play with you! If not, what’s a way that you can incorporate some play into your week or at least your month. Look into classes that will allow you to have a creative outlet and sign up in January to start the year right.
  1. Social – Whom did you get to socialize with this year? Who do you miss? Why is it so hard to get together? Maybe you need a regular outing. Years ago I bought a subscription to the Walnut Theatre with my friend who also loves to see musicals and plays. So no matter what, we have 5 dates a year that we will go out to dinner and see a play in town. What is it that you can set up with your best friends so that you all have it in your calendar? Even if it’s an annual get together – it’s better than nothing!
  1. Health – Any new health concerns this year? Are you still trying to loose 20 pounds? What can you do differently next year? Join a gym? Take up a new hobby? Join a support group? If your health concerns are more urgent, make sure you are up to date on all your check-ups. Make those appointments, get those tests. Do the same for your children. And be prepared for the winter with lots of vitamins and healthy things to boost your immune system.
  1. Finances – Last but not least, look at the finances for you and your family. It’s painful, I know. If you have Quickbooks or Quicken, it’s easy to take a snapshot of the year in review and see where your money went. If you need to, are there any areas where you can cut back? Maybe the TV, phone & internet bill, maybe eating out instead of cooking in. These are items where most people can cut a little. If you’ve got big bills looming, make a plan for how you are going to finance them. And if you’re not tracking expenses for your household maybe you should start January 1. An easy way, if you are not inclined to do Quicken or a spreadsheet is just to use one credit card for all household purchases, another for entertainment, another for work related expenses. Many credit card companies will give you a year-end summary so you easily see where your money is going. If you have a spouse, look over your accounts together to make sure you both know where your money is. Check insurance policies and shop around, some companies will give you a break to switch. Make sure you have the right health coverage.

Well I hope that helps! And you don’t have to do it all in one sitting. Just be mindful of what you did this year so you can set goals and plan ahead.

Organizing Your Child’s Room with Creativity

Organizing Kids' Room. Painting it.2 Painting the kids’ room is one of the most fun projects one can undertake in their home. Not only because the effort is all done in the name of the most precious and loved members of the family, but because the work itself is so much fun. It allows the parents to do a new sort of project, which, under other circumstances, is not applicable for the rest of the house. The kids’ room follows rules much different from the rest of the house, and thus is considered a highly creative outlet.

As far as painting the walls of your kid’s room goes, there are little to no limits. Not only that, but you must adopt a new set of rules as your children might want to have a final say in the matter and it is imperative to listen to them. They will be living among those four walls after all.

A good starting point would be to clear, de-clutter and decide what your child likes most. Surely you have a good idea of that already, but you should even more actively look for their opinion and include them in the decision process.

As much as it is likely that your kids will have a ton of interests, it is important to make a throughout clearance, choose a single theme and stick with it. Different themes will only make the project harder to finish and the end result will not be as satisfying. Choosing on the theme and working from there is the first step to making a great room.

When it comes to what you can actually do, there are limitless possibilities. Some modern designs feature interesting ideas such as the glow and magneto themes. Glow themes include an element which looks ordinary until there is no light in the room anymore. Then it hides parts of the picture and reveals others, making it not just wallpaper, but a whole story. Magneto themes include a picture on the wall, which can then be complemented with different magnets and attachments, adding more elements to it, essentially serving a purpose of canvass for creativity.

If executed properly, after the waste clearance and the de-cluttering process, a wall painting can greatly complement the rest of the room. For example, if your child’s bed is one that features a racecar design, why not reinforce the young pilot’s imagination by adding a race flag wall or a traffic light element? If your little one likes travelling, let him choose the next destination by placing a great map of the world on one of the walls. If you have a nature lover, draw trees next to the window and then use green curtain as their leaves.

Literally there are numerous options to choose from when it comes to painting the kids’ room. Only one’s imagination can set the limits.

More helpful tips for your home find at: builders clearance Battersea.

What creative things have you done to decorate your child’s room? 

It’s Never Too Late to Get Organized!

atticmaxx

 

 

 

We’re in the midst of a frenzy of Christmas activity and so many of you are not thinking about organizing. That’s something most people think about in January. But I want you to know there are some things you can do right now to get a fresh start to the New Year and make next Christmas season a little easier.

What to do with all those Christmas Cards:

  • Sort the cards as they come in using a three pocket mail sorter that hangs on your wall. Photo cards, cards & envelopes, and Christmas letters can be the categories.
  • Cut out the pictures that you want to save, like those from family and close friends, and put them in a photo album. This can be your regular chronological photo album or a special one just for Christmas pictures. Looking back over the years is fun to do especially at holiday time.
  • If you like to scrapbook, save beautiful holiday cards to decorate your pages.
  • Save return addresses for new people who are sending you cards and for those who have moved, put them in your computer.

Get your decorations under control:

  • Take time to wrap up your lights when putting them away. A cable wrap can be found for about $2 at a hardware store. It’s certainly worth it not to have to detangle next December!
  • Lots of home stores carry red & green plastic bins now. Put your decorations away in categories such as: outside, inside, and tree ornaments. These make it easy to identify in your attic or basement especially if you have decorations for several seasons. For ornament dividers, you can use the cardboard ones found inside of a case of beer or wine.
  • Take a look at all those decorations that DIDN’T get put up this year. Discard the broken or really old ones and donate any that are in good shape. Places to donate include: schools, community theatres, nursing homes, libraries, or any charitable organization.

Use your time between Christmas and New Year’s wisely:

  • With all those leftovers it’s a great time to clean out the fridge. Have a “use it or lose it” night and have your family pick a dinner from the leftovers. Take stock of your plastic containers and make sure they all have matching lids or else toss them! Clear and square are the best because your refrigerator and drawers are squares!
  • Something fun to keep away the post-Christmas blues is to plan vacations for the upcoming year. Our family likes to brainstorm on a white board. Parents have the final say about where and when but it’s fun for the kids to come up with unique ideas each year. A couple weekend trips can really break up the year instead of waiting for one week off in the summer! Have someone look up info and pictures on the computer while you discuss different options.
  • End of the year also marks a good time to clear out catalogs and magazines. Designate a magazine rack or basket for each and every time the container is full – purge the oldest copies. Also, put it where you will use it. That could be the living room, bedroom or even bathroom!

What will you tackle in the way of organizing this December?

Get Ready for the Holidays!

RoastTurkey

Happy November! If you’re a planner, like me, you can’t help but think about what’s around the corner…Thanksgiving, and Christmas, family meals, gifts, decorations, cards, oh my!  But a little planning and a few deep breaths can go a long way in helping you get prepared and then enjoy the holidays as you should.

Here are a few things you can start doing now in order to get a jump start on the winter holiday season:

1. Asked your loved ones for gift suggestions. Or just be very observant if you don’t want to ask them outright. Start forming a list of ideas, especially if you have kids and a spouse that you buy for every year. Then you can start looking for those things on sale or grab coupons for the stores they love and buy a little early.

2. Clean out your pantry to get ready for cooking. Spices has expiration dates so toss the old stuff. Check your recipes for your traditional holiday meals or maybe a few new dishes you want to try and make sure you have all the ingredients. Again, make a list of what you need and then go shopping! Make sure your carving knife is sharpened for the turkey.

3. Talk to relatives about the holidays to know who’s coming when and if you need to spruce up the spare bedroom, now is the time! Clear the clutter that may have been tossed in there all year and make sure you have some nice sheets and towels for the guests.

4. If you send holiday cards, decide now if you are going to use a photo that you have or take a new one. Then place your order on-line with Shutterfly or Snapfish or anywhere else you can purchase photo greeting cards. If you are sending traditional ones, purchase them now.  In either case, make sure your address list or book is up to date and create mailing labels in a word document to make it easier to address the envelopes.

5. Take a look at your calendar or day planner and map out all the major things you want to get done before the holidays. For example, your checklist might look like this:

  • Shopping for gifts
  • Decorations Up
  • Cards Addressed
  • Presents wrapped
  • Tree Decorated
  • Cookies baked
  • Food shopping for the holiday meal

Then assign a week for each task (probably more than 1 week for shopping) and put that goal on your calendar. That will give you something to shoot for and help you focus on one task at a time. Try to finish everything a day before the actual holiday so you have time for last minute details or unexpected events. Then do something festive that you enjoy after all the hustle and bustle is done.

Relocating an Office – How to Organize It

Relocating an office. How to organize it2

Guest blog by: Ella Andrews

 

Changing offices can be a difficult and stressful transition to make. Organizing an office is a tough job, especially as it can affect the everyday efficiency of a business. Having some useful do’s and don’ts can transform the move into an easier transition.

 

 

1) Make sure you plan and don’t rush

Take your time. As mentioned before it is a difficult task and cannot take place in one day. Having patience and taking time towards the move can avoid missing any last minute details. Implementing an action plan, or a numbered checklist of duties allows you to anticipate and foresee possible issues that may arise. This will avoid any time-consuming blunders, and will make the move quicker and more efficient. Also, having a diary to keep track of how many days are left and what duties need to be fulfilled will improve the work pace.

2) Assessing Location

While considering location there are a few factors that need to be assessed. How much proximity is there to competitors? Also, how easily accessible is the office? How many modes of transportation are nearby to the office, such as bus stops and train stations? The office should not only rely on one mode of transport; this could limit the number of clients coming to the office, and eventually affect the office’s profits. How popular is this location? If clients have not heard of this location how will they get there? These are all factors that need to be considered.

3) A Fresh Start

While relocating offices, sorting out which documents and files should be kept and which should be thrown out is important. This will allow the move to require less storage space and will be a fresh beginning in the new office. Also, reviewing what equipment should be shifted in the new office is important, as some equipment may be damaged or not be of any use. Selling old equipment or machinery could help pay for some of the packing materials. Also, donating equipment could also be a way of getting rid of unwanted items, yet again giving the office a fresh start.

4) Packing Materials

The move will consist of fragile objects, having appropriate packing material could prevent any type of damage from occurring. Especially whilst moving you need to consider how durable the material is since it could be a long distance of travel. For instance, having plastic to wrap certain items like computers could prevent water damage from occurring. Marking and prioritising boxes of what needs to be unwrapped or opened first could help you to find objects quicker. For instance, marking the box that is carrying office stationery will avoid wasting any time and will help avoid confusion as to where certain things have been stored.

5) Removal companies

Making a list of quotes given by a  few good removal companies and comparing quotes would be a good option as it could save you some money. Also as well as having quotes, ensuring that the removal company is trustworthy and has a positive reputation is also necessary. Looking at a few customer reviews will give you an insight into which removal company you should choose. There are some removal companies that do not provide packing materials; therefore doing research into which companies provide the best service and offer a good quote is necessary.

 

6) Planning the office

The layout of the office is important, as factors such as Health and Safety need to be considered. Identifying where the electricity sockets are in the office and determining how the electrical wires are going to be placed, as this can avoid any trips or falls from occurring. In addition, testing out how strong the Internet connection is in the office could determine if using a router where it can be placed within the office.

 

 

Ella Andrews is dedicated writer and keen home improvement specialist. She gets inspiration by exploring new sources of information regarding household maintenance. Presently she writes mostly about office organizing. 

The “Be” Attitudes of Organizing

candlelight

 

 

As I prepared my lesson for Sunday school this week, I was inspired to put a twist on the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s gospel. In it, Christ gives us a roadmap for living a happy life which have become known as the Beatitudes.

So I submit to you that there are ways to be organized so as to live a happy life:

 

Happy are the minimalists for they shall have abundance in other ways.

Happy are they who purge for they shall make room for the good stuff in life.

Happy are those who see only fresh, healthy food in their kitchens

For they shall waste not

Happy are those who donate to the poor

For they shall want not

Happy are those who straighten daily and clean weekly

For cleanliness is next to godliness

Happy are those who teach their children how to help out, let go and pick up

for they will be passing on a life skill

Happy are those with routines for they shall not forget

Happy are those who write everything down, and do one thing at a time

for they will have focus

Happy are the simple for they will live with less stress

What be-attitudes do you have to add? Leave a comment!

Organizing Your College Student

Most of what parents talk about when moving a child to college is all the “stuff” they need. I have never been an organizer who focuses on the products – I focus on the process first. And so it was with moving my daughter to college. All summer her friends where buying bins, containers and bookshelves and we waited until a couple weeks before her move to do that. Don’t get me wrong, I loved going to the Container Store with her and buying some pretty stacking bins and then some new bedding at Bed, Bath  & Beyond. But I first talked with her about her chosen major, career development and money management. We also talked about social issues and what she might see in college that she hadn’t seen in her sheltered life here at home.

So life skills that I believe college students need to know:

  1. Budgeting their money – There are basics like writing a check, keeping a ledger and balancing your account. With debit cards its very easy to loose track of what you’ve spent.  If you give your student a lump sum to take with her and put into a new account, also give her a weekly budget. For example:  If you have $1000 for a semester (16 weeks) you can spend $50 a week and still have $200 left over at winter break. Other points with money:
    • if you have a meal plan, don’t waste money on other food
    • If you have to spend more than your weekly allowance, call home and we will discuss
    • Don’t get a credit card while in college
    • Do take a part time job on campus if it doesn’t interfere with studies
    • Make sure you know your cell phone plan so you don’t run up the bill
    • It’s good to have a job at home you can come back to on winter break and next summer
  1. Keeping themselves safe – There are certain things that we do for our children to keep them safe at home, so remind them:
    • Lock their dorm room doors at all times
    • Travel in groups
    • Keep the locator on their cell phone
    • Report suspicious people to campus police
    • Know the fire escape route in the dorm
  2. Staying healthy – College students notoriously beat their bodies up so go over good every day habits like:
    • Stay hydrated
    • Wash your hands
    • Take vitamins
    • Eat fruits & vegetables
    • Boost your immune system with vitamin C, exercise, sleep!
  3. Making major decisions – Bill Rancic and I do the same thing, we make pros and cons lists when making a big decision. I also tell my kids to talk it out:
    • If I do A, what will that look like? Feel like? Will that effect other people? If I do B what will that look like? Etc.
    • Do I need more information to make this decision?
    • When does this have to be decided? Can I sleep on it?
    • What is my gut telling me?
  4. Finding a career – Probably the biggest decision your child will make in the college years is what to major in. For my daughter who has a talent and passion for theatre I said, “Do what you love and figure out how to make money at it.” Some parents might not agree with me and that’s okay. But her passion earned her a scholarship so that got her in the door. Now she needs to learn in four years how to make a living at it. That might mean taking on a minor or a dual major. Or it might mean switching her major before she graduates. All of this is common today and I told her not to worry about in the first year. What I did tell her was:
    • Just do the best at what you’re doing right now.
    • Take advantage of every opportunity or career connection your school has
    • Ask people in the business for advice
    • Have a plan B

Many kids have no idea what job they want to do. For them I say, look at big categories of careers and decide what you don’t want to do to narrow it down. Think about:

  • Health care
  • Law
  • Business
  • Entertainment
  • Education
  • Computers

Once you have a short list of possible career industries, look at schools that offer all of those and start with general courses. The fact is, there are jobs out there that you’ve never heard of. Once you get into different subjects in college the light bulb might go on!

Organizing Your High School Student

organizing memoriesHigh school flies by fast. You look at your student in the first few weeks of freshman year and they look so small and lost. In a few years you’re looking at colleges and sometimes thinking we should have started this sooner! When I breathed a sigh of relief last March as my daughter received acceptances and scholarships and made her big college decision, I immediately turned to my son and said, “Now we start working on you!” He’s three years younger.

I believe the organizing challenge with high school students is getting them to see the big picture. They are concerned with fitting in socially, and maybe even doing well in each of their classes but they often don’t look to the future. It’s too scary. They don’t want to think about leaving home, moving away from their childhood friends and, god-forbid, deciding on a career! And can you blame them?

So you’ve got to ease them into it by setting goals and managing their time. Goal setting is a great place to start with organizing your time. I worked with each of my kids in high school to set three goals. One was academic, one physical and one was to help them grow as an individual. Then we broke down each of those goals into daily practices or tasks. For example:

Goal: Get a 94 general average this semester.

How: complete all homework assignments

Study in advance for tests

Ask for help in subjects where I need it

In addition, that academic goal might qualify your student for Renaissance or National Honor Society, which does look good on the college application!

For some kids who are naturally driven a goal might come out as an inspiration like, “When I’m a senior I want to be Student Council President or Captain of the Baseball team.” That’s great, and then they have to do little things along the way to get there like become active in school, or practice their sport. It’s still a good idea to write it down and post those goals where they can see them every day. It’s just a subliminal reminder of where they are headed.

After you set the goals – check in with your student frequently to make sure they are following through, but be careful not to nag. It’s a fine line.  When a goal has been accomplished, celebrate and then set new ones!

Every child is different and if you have a child that is over-involved, your goals might really work as a priority list. So when they have to make decision about how to spend their time, have them refer to the list. If you have a student who seems to waste time playing video games and on social media, you’re going to have to push them to set goals and find interests that matter.

Consider this: What do you need to get your high school student into college?

  • money
  • good grades
  • a consistent activity
  • communication skills

If you can help your student work towards these goals during their four years in high school you are setting them up for success!

What solutions have you found to work well for your high school student?

Organizing Your Middle School Student

arc notebookThose of you who have read my books might have guessed that the tips in there for busy moms, come from my own experience. When I wrote my first book, my children where 4,7, and 10 years old. I was in the early years of being a stay-at-home mom, adjusting to all the nuances of keeping up with the house, having time for myself and spending quality time with my children. When I  wrote my second book, it was two years later. My children were at the stage where they could do more for themselves and I wanted to teach them what I feel is a life skill – to be organized with your thoughts, your actions and your surroundings so that every day flows.

 

Now here I am with a middle-schooler, a high-schooler and a college student and the challenges are changing. So I thought I would share my experiences in a blog. The first one is about middle school.

In our school district, middle school starts in sixth grade. It is the first time students have a locker and are responsible to get themselves to the right class and remember which papers and books to bring to class and then home. They are getting into  paper management, at a time when they are anxious about being in a new place and probably going through some hormonal changes as well. It’s the perfect storm. And often their lockers, school bags and bedrooms reflect that.

Here are a few tips for setting your middle school child straight in the first few weeks of school:

  1. Go to back-to-school night! You can see whom you know in your child’s classes. Parents can then use each other for resource when instructions are unclear and homework is forgotten. You also get to meet your child’s teachers and get a feel for their personalities. Most will give you their email so use it whenever there is a question about a certain class.
  1. If your child has to use binders: use one for all the classes they have before lunch and another for the classes they have after lunch. They can usually go to their lockers then and switch. Make sure to use dividers to mark each subject. The teacher may also require sub sections.
  1. If your child can use folders and spiral notebooks: color code each subject so a blue folder and notebook for math, red ones for science, etc. Have them keep the notebook and the folder together for each class.
  1. Make one TAKE HOME folder. This should always be with your child. So when they get forms in homeroom, they go in one pocket marked “Forms.” And as they receive papers for homework each day, then go in the other side marked, “Homework.” I tell my kids to empty the folder every morning in homeroom – get papers back to the teacher or put them in the right binder. Then the folder gets filled each day and comes home. This prevents them from dragging two big binders home every night along with their textbooks.
  1. Have a routine at home for the morning, after school and before bedtime. Post a chore chart or just a little reminder card in a place they look every day until the routine becomes second nature.

Middle school is a growing season. Let your child have more freedom and see how they do with it. They will start to develop their own systems and routines and that’s fine – as long as they work. If something is not working (like they keep forgetting homework) talk it out and come up with a solution.

What are some challenges you find with your middle school student?

Arranging Your Office Cleaning

Arranging the big business clean you needWhen it comes to getting that big seasonal cleaning solution for your business, finding the right professional cleaning services can be difficult. With so many needs and possibilities, what is the best way to find the right services to suit your requirements? Getting your business as clean as possible is one thing, but finding the right company to provide those real deep clean services can be quite another. However, it can be made a great deal easier by following a series of steps designed to filter out the companies which don’t suit your needs. Follow these steps in order to find out just how to find out which company is able to suit your seasonal cleaning needs:

 

1. Timing – The first thing to establish when planning a big cleaning solution is to figure out the time frame in which you would like to operate. By establishing the best time in which to get your cleaning done, you can ensure that the operation does not interfere with your business commitments. While the general idea behind seasonal cleaning for your business is to make sure that customers get the best possible experience, this should not be done at the expense of your company’s ability to perform to its full potential. By finding a time which suits you, your business and your customers, you can ensure that your seasonal cleaning service provides the maximum amount of return on investment without interfering with your trade.

2. Scope – As well as establishing which time suits you best, it is also vital to establish which services you will need, such as upholstery cleaning, floor cleaning, window cleaning, carpet cleaning and more, in order to get your place of business as clean as possible. With every company requiring various services, the list of requirements will vary from company to company. As such, it is important to understand which services will benefit you the most and to plan your office cleaning accordingly. Depending on the type of business you run, whether it is a store front or an office space, the services which you require will alter accordingly. If this is the first time which you have performed a deep cleaning operation at your business, it might be worth enquiring with a professional office cleaning service as to which solutions will make a real difference. Once you have an idea of what you need to get the best results, then it is time to move on to the next step.

3. Frequency – Do keep in mind that seasonal cleaning can be a one-off ocurrence, while you can greatly benefit from a contract with a cleaning company for a more regular, everyday solution to your cleaning problems if you believe you need it. You may want to hire a fully vetted cleaning company, allowing you to trust them and what they have to offer. Read the contract carefully and see what responsibilities it covers on their end before you sign. Choosing an individual over a company may be a decent choice for a smaller business, but if you’re running a company this will not be the most logical choice in terms of efficiency.

4. Budget – Armed with the knowledge of when you will be needing the cleaning solution and which services you require, you can now begin to get in contact with professional cleaning services in order to find out what the possible price will be. By contacting a number of companies, you can compare and contrast prices, allowing you to make sure that you get the very best value for money. As well as comparing prices, talking to a number of companies will allow you to better establish which services will really suit your needs and the chance to talk to a cleaning expert can better inform you of how to go about the cleaning operation.

Once you have found the company with whom you wish to do business, the only thing which remains is to sit back and enjoy your newly cleaned business premises. With the cleaning services rendered, both you and your customers can enjoy the benefits of a thoroughly cleaned property. After the service has been completed, it might be worth asking the cleaning company for any tips which can help you maintain this level of cleanliness for the longest possible time.

Guest Post by: Ella Andrews

Ella Andrews is dedicated writer and keen home improvement specialist. She gets inspiration by exploring new sources of information regarding household maintenance. Presently she writes mostly about office organizing.

Absolute #8 – Finish One Thing Before You Start Another

secretaryLong before any one heard of ADD, mothers across the globe were telling their rambunctious children to “finish one thing before you start another!” In our world full of distractions today, we adults would do well to heed this mantra.

As a professional organizer, much of what I do entails keeping my clients on task. Just by standing next to them, I encourage them to finish the pile in question, sort it, make quick decisions and then move on. Some don’t like this, they would rather cherry pick – do the task that looks interesting or fun. “We’ll get to that,” I tell them, all in good time. So I always have a plan when organizing with clients and that includes following my own absolute of finishing one thing before we start another. If we are focused on a room, items that belong elsewhere go in a pile or bin right by the door. We don’t leave the room until we are finished. They we move things around. If we are focused on a certain category, like photographs, we don’t worry about the bookshelves in that room. We just do photos until they are under control.

Take a look around your house. Just for fun, try to find all the projects you’ve started and not finished because you got distracted. If you can, put them in a bag or box and mark it. Then prioritize the projects. Next, get out your planner and make an action plan to get them done. If they are a bunch of little things, try to finish all of them in one Saturday. With larger projects try one per week or month. With these projects complete, you’ll have less clutter and more room for fun stuff!

But finishing one thing before you start another also applies to consumable products. Do you have 5 half squeezed toothpaste tubes in your bathroom? Six different shampoos or lotions open? How many ketchups do you have in your fridge? Just sayin…I once cleaned out a fridge that had 10 half gallons of ice cream in it. Some were freezer burnt so the homeowner would never feed those to guests. I suggested that if it’s not good enough for guests, it shouldn’t be there! When you do a kitchen or bathroom clean out, remember to keep the best, toss the rest and don’t buy anymore of that item until you really need to. If something is getting low, put it on your grocery list.

By following this rule, you can stay focused on tasks, feel a lot more productive on a daily basis and waste fewer products around your home.

What is it YOU need to finish before you start the next project?

OMG it’s Back to School Time!

mom at bus

 

Ok parents, I hate to say it but it is back to school time. In fact, some of you might have already sent your little ones back. Here in Philadelphia we are lucky enough to call it summer until the day after Labor Day. So I usually avoid facing the end of summer until I absolutely have to! Especially this year because my oldest is going off to college.

But it happens whether we like it or not so we might as well be prepared. I have compiled a list of my favorite back to school tips and routines for you to make the transition a little easier. Here ya go!

 

1. Determine what time your kids will need to get up for school and get them used to that schedule at least one week before the first day. If this means a few extra hours in their day – great! They’ll need it to get everything ready.

2. Find the school supplies list from your school and do a scavenger hunt in your house first. Check off the list and then take it with you to the store to buy any items you don’t have. This will save you money. Nothing wrong with used copybooks, folders and crayons – they might just need a little sprucing up.

3. Check summer reading or math assignments to make sure they are complete with your child’s name and in their folder on the first day. If they’ve put off assignments this might be the week to cram!

4. Make a weekly chart that shows all your kids after school activities and their daily chores. Post this on the fridge for daily viewing. It helps the kids to know what’s going on each day, for instance: I walk the dog after school then I have soccer after dinner. No surprises.

5. Designate a dumping place for all incoming papers, backpacks, shoes and homework. Once school starts you know the avalanche will happen. It’s a good practice to review papers each night as your children do their homework. Putting backpacks and shoes in the same place every day makes life easier for the whole family.

6. Set up a homework area for each child. This can be in their room or a common area. You’ll need a clear desktop, computer, dictionary, analog clock and possibly some bins for storing regular supplies. If table space is limited, try hanging something on the wall with multiple pockets or bins – one for each child.

7. Create a hanging file for “School Info” and “Kids Activities.” Again, I suggest a sub folder for every child. In it, you can keep reports and reference material for their schools.

8. Talk about lunches. Will your kids buy or pack? If they buy, set a budget. If they pack, talk about healthy options and get some reusable storage containers. Every school is different so check with yours about recycling and what kids are allowed to carry during the day. Make sure you are stocked with easy grab snacks, fruit and entree options and plan to pack lunches at night.

9. Set goals and boundaries. You may have the child that needs a push to get involved. Talk to him about what he’d like to join this year. I think 2 activities is a nice number. Or you may have someone who over commits and wants to play every sport, join every committee. Talk to her about budgeting her time. One sport team per season is a good rule of thumb. Or one physical activity and one intellectual.

10. Plan your last hurrah. Because I love summer and I truly love being with my kids, I like to plan something fun for the whole family to do during the last few weeks of summer break. Plan a family day to do whatever it is you like to do. Forget the schedules and lists and computers for 24 hours and just savor the summer. Mom and Dad take a day off from work and just enjoy.

 

How do you feel about Back to School time?

 

Top Three Factors in Choosing an Intensive Tree Care Service BY:  Candice Hubbard

kayaking

Trees make our world a better place in many ways; aesthetically with their graceful beauty; environmentally by giving off oxygen; by providing food, shade etc., and most people like and appreciate them for it.  If you happen to have a lot of trees surrounding your property it can make for a pleasantly cool atmosphere even in the extreme heat of summer.  And what child doesn’t like to try tree climbing at least once or twice?  But while it’s easy to see the good things that trees do for us, what about what we owe them in return?  Nothing comes free in this world and in order for the trees we love and enjoy so much to be kept in prime condition, we must hire tree services to prune and maintain them.

A tree care service can determine if there are any hidden problems with the health of your trees that you might not be aware of.  Plus they can perform any necessary tree surgery that you wouldn’t be able to undertake yourself.  It’s their experience, knowledge and skills that you need to help you keep your trees in tip top shape.  Here are the top three suggestions to keep in mind when choosing your intensive tree care service:

Arborists

Only opt to use a company for your tree services that has qualified arborists on its staff.  What exactly is an arborist?  An arborist is a certified professional experienced and trained in the science of planting and caring for all species of trees.  While this job does require a broad range of skills, an arborist is trained to know precisely what the needs of each tree are and how to best provide care for it.

In the case of commercial properties like businesses, etc., qualified arborists are as essential as the tree companyservice itself.  It’s vital to hire a company that has specialists, like an arborist who know more than just the basics of tree surgery.  They also understand the value of public image and how important that is to a business, so they will do they best they can to keep the trees healthy and looking beautiful.

Wide Range Services

When looking for an intensive care tree service makes sure that the company you select has a wide-range of services available.  For example, if your property has several trees that are either in poor condition, or perhaps a safety hazard and they have to come down, you will then have to call a tree removal service.  By selecting a company for your tree care that includes this service, together with tree trimming and pruning, you have saved yourself the trouble of having to hire another company to tend to your trees.  The same is true when it comes to transplanting trees and stump grinding.  It’s always much better if you can depend upon only one tree company service for the all around health and maintenance requirements of your trees.

Longevity

Last, but not least, find out how long the tree care company has been in business.  Opt for a tree care company that has been around for a while.  This will be an excellent sign that it has many satisfied customers, but that it also knows it’s field of work.  A company with longevity has the experience, knowledge, respect for safety, and professional skills to provide the absolute best care for your trees under all conditions.

Biography:  

Candice is an arborist living in Sydney Australia, and had extensive experience and qualifications to provide tree services for Sydney, up to and including tree surgery.  Her expertise in this field is often sought out and she had written numerous articles on the topic.

 

 

Absolute # 7 – Subtract Before You Add

imagesIf you remember the “order of operations” in basic arithmetic it went: “My Dear Aunt Sallie” which stood for: multiply, divide, add then subtract. Well I’m flipping that around because my dear Aunt Sallie has a lot of clutter! So I suggest she subtracts before she adds. This can apply to a lot of operations we perform while organizing.

First example, lets take the clothes closet. Many of us do the seasonal clean out in the fall and spring. You really need to look at every piece of clothing, make sure it fits, it makes you look beautiful or feel wonderful and you are going to wear it! Those clothes can stay. Everything else should go to an appropriate donation center. So you subtract what doesn’t work for you. Then comes the fun part. Make a list of what you need to replace and any basic items that you don’t have (like a little black dress or a blazer) and go shopping! That’s the adding. You also want to take out clothes before you buy any bins, dividers or organizers for the closet. Too often people rush out to buy bins before they have pared down. Rookie mistake.

Another example of subtracting can happen in the kitchen. Why would you go food shopping if your refrigerator is stuffed so full, there’s no room on any shelf? Most likely you’ve got some old stuff in there that needs to go. Or if you have a ton of leftovers that don’t look appealing to your family, get creative. Mix some veggies and rice together with a sauce and cook fresh chicken or steak to go with it. Or if you have meat leftover, consider making a fajita, or stir fry dish. Just adding something new makes it so much better! Leftover fruit goes great into a smoothie or milkshake. Of course anything with mold should be tossed. Then you can go food shopping and add. One thing I like to do on food shopping day is take all the half-eaten snacks in the house and put them in a divided party dish. Those are the snacks for the day and until they are gone, we don’t open anything new.

One more example is with paper. Don’t just look at the piles you have and buy bins or file drawers to fit everything. First categorize & purge them. Then you can see what you’re left with and you can go buy file drawers, bins or file folders to put them in. And always take care of the backlog before you filter in any paper that has just come in.

I hope you remember this rule as you tackle your next organizing task.

In what ways do you subtract before you add?

Simple Summer Pleasures

beach

Now that I am back from vacation, I’d like to share with you some simple pleasures that I find at the beach. My hope is that we can incorporate some of these into our daily lives, even when we are not at the beach or on vacation. As Hemingway said, “Paris is a moveable feast.” So too, is vacation. Simple moments can bring us calm, peace and help rejuvenate us in a hectic world if we are organized enough to make them a priority in our lives.

 

 

Simple Joys

  1. Biking every morning
  2. Going to a farmers’ market and eating that food in the next couple days
  3. Sleeping with the windows open so you can hear the birds in the morning
  4. Ice cream in the afternoon
  5. Having just enough food and clothing to get through the week
  6. Reading on the porch
  7. Cocktails with friends outside
  8. Outdoor showers
  9. Digging your feet in the sand
  10. No computers

I once saw a friend take a beautiful vacation picture of an island beach and pin it to her visor in her car. She said she looked at it every time she needed to take a little vacation – even if she was stuck in traffic. This is the same idea.

What are some simple pleasures you enjoy in the summer?

The benefits of steam cleaning your carpets

carpet cleaner

Just about this time in the summer, I see how dirty my berber carpet is in our den. That’s the room we enter right from the garage. And after a troop of adolescent boys comes in from baseball, basketball and general playing outside we track a lot of mud in! Add to that, this is the room where the kids entertain friends, soda and snacks are consumed and my dog likes to hang out. You get the picture. So usually in September when the house is quiet again, I bring in my favorite steam cleaner to work his magic. The place smells like lemons after he’s through and he usually tells me, two more times and this carpet will be as good as new! And he reminds me not to use any spray cleaners in the mean time. So here’s a guest post from a professional on the best way to clean your carpets. Think of carpet cleaning as a seasonal clean out and  appointments for the fall and spring to keep your carpets looking good. It also gives you a chance to move furniture out & around to spruce up your rooms.

BY:  Candice Hubbard

When it comes to carpet cleaning nearly all the carpet manufacturers are in agreement that the absolute best way to accomplish this task is by using hot water extraction, or what is otherwise known as “deep steam cleaning. “ Dry cleaning is usually not recommended because the results are nowhere as good.

What Is Deep Steam Cleaning?

This is a method of carpet steam cleaning that is really nothing more than the extraction of hot water, but there is a great deal of steam involved.  What is called a truck-mounted hot water extraction machine uses extremely high pressure to force near boiling hot water into the carpet, and then proceeds to pull out the water, dirt, debris, etc.  That essentially sums up this simple method of carpet cleaning.

One method of dry cleaning uses a dry foam or shampoo which is poured onto the carpet, given time to dry, and then, with no rinsing, pulled into a vacuum.  Much dirty residue is left behind in the carpet.

Another method of dry cleaning is done by placing a large cotton bonnet on the carpet and using a buffer machine, the same one used for polishing floors, to buff the carpet.  While it’s more work than dry foam, the dirt and residue are still left behind in the carpet.

Lastly there’s the absorbent powder.  A moist, absorbent powder is spread throughout the carpet, left to dry and then pulled into a vacuum.  Because the carpet is not rinsed, much dirt and residue are left behind, so this too is not a very thorough cleaning.

Benefits of Deep Steam Cleaning

The benefits of steam cleaning your carpet are many:

The extremely high heat does an excellent job of eliminating bacteria, dust mites, fungus, and mold.  They don’t stand a chance against this way of cleaning your carpet.  This is why it is considered the healthiest manner to clean a carpet.

There is no soapy residue left behind, provided the carpet steam cleaning is performed properly.  And if you are dealing with a professional company, there is no reason that it shouldn’t be.  If there is a soapy residue left behind from the detergent that is used, it will serve to attract dirt, and that will make your carpet become dirty and need to be cleaned again even sooner.

The high-pressure steam is another advantage to this way of cleaning.  It penetrates downward all the way to the base of the carpet’s fibers, thus removing dirt that is embedded there.

The powerful vacuum system sucks up 95% of the wetness that is left behind, thus your carpet is left feeling damp to the touch, but not soaking wet.

Environmentally Safe

Steam cleaning is really a fantastic way to clean your carpet.  The heat involved is above 118 degrees Fahrenheit, and every 18 degrees more that it is heated doubles the cleaning strength of the cleaning agents that are used.  Amazingly enough deep steam cleaning is done between 180 and 240 degrees.  Another benefit of this is that it uses much less of the cleaning agents on your carpet, which makes it a much healthier choice for the environment as opposed to dry cleaning.

Biography: 

Candice does professional carpet cleaning in Brisbane, and carpet steam cleaning too.  She owns her own carpet cleaning business and writes often about the proper methods of cleaning a carpet.  Her opinions are considered expert.    

 

 

Absolute #6 – Start with a Good List

cover shotStarting with a good list and sticking to it is just like planning your work and working your plan.  Just the other day, my sister asked, “Are you ready for your graduation party?” Although I haven’t bought a thing or made any food, I said “Yes, I have my plan.” Which basically means I have a list of decorations I want and food I’m planning. I’ve ordered what I can ahead of time and now I just have to execute. The second part of the list is my calendar where I have a list of “To Do’s” each day. I will shop for decorations one week before and then the fresh food the day before the party.  All set.

So if you are a list maker, ask yourself, “Is it thorough and do I stick to it?” A prime example of this is when you go shopping. The point of a shopping list is to keep you on track and sometimes on budget. If you stray from the list with a lot of impulse purchases, you’ve really defeated the purpose. Take your time when making the list and think it through. Then trust it.

Likewise if you start your week or your day with a list of tasks you want to accomplish and then stray from the task at hand, the list does you no good. Obviously things come up that are not planned for, but if you refer back to the list and re-prioritize it on a daily basis, it still keeps your organized. And don’t fall into the habit of having a list of 100 things to do in one day. Assign a date and timeframe that is realistic, otherwise your list will overwhelm you. Make a list of big goals, and then make sure your daily tasks support those goals.

Packing for vacation is a great chance to practice your list making skills. I keep a standard list on my computer for going to the beach for one week. I list food and house items as well as personal things like clothing and sundries. When we pack, I give my kids the list: 4 shorts outfits, 2 bathing suits, books, chargers, etc. I sit with them as they pack so I know they won’t forget anything. Each year I change up the menu but I trust that the list will guide us from year to year. Many things on that list haven’t changed in 10 years.

 

So you don’t need a list of lists but make sure your lists are:

  1. Thorough
  2. Documented on your computer for re-use
  3. Prioritized
  4. Realistic
  5. Followed

Absolute #5-Keep Like Things Together

wrapping paperOne of my absolutes comes up all the time when I’m working with clients and my own family. “Keep like things together. “We’ve all heard this before, but have you thought about all the ways you can do this? As with most organizing techniques, there is no right or wrong way to do this, you just have to find what works for you. Often the way I see one item and categorize it is not always the way my client sees it.

 

Let’s take the example of an open, studio apartment. With one big room it’s easy to have things all over the place. When everything is everywhere, chaos ensues. This makes it hard to find what you need when you need it. It often leads to countertops and tables being covered with clutter. So the first step is…put like things together in a big way. Categories might be: kitchen, entertainment, office, and exercise equipment. If you do a big sort you can put every category in a corner or just a pile. Or if you’ve already decided on zones, put everything in its correct zone.

 

The next step is getting into the nitty gritty. With entertainment you can break it down into: cd’s, dvd’s and books. With office materials you might have paperwork to file, office supplies and computer equipment. Putting these things together helps you see what you have and maybe what you can get rid of. Then you can find appropriate bins, drawers or shelves to put these items on. Having designated bins makes it easy to clean up too!

 

And this rule applies not only to physical items but also to tasks. I find when I put like tasks together, they get done much more efficiently. If I have a list of calls to make, I do them one after the other. If I have tasks that need to be done on the computer (as I’m doing right now) I do them and then I can walk away from the computer for a while. This is especially true with errands. If you want to save time, it helps to make a list of where you need to go and plan it out geographically. Can you do some on the way to or from an appointment? Plot it out, and then make sure you have all the things you need to easy on down the road in your car. Sometimes my goal is simply to get rid of all the things I have on my passenger seat by the end of the day.

 

So the next time you’re trying to bring order to your home or office, think “like things together” and see how this can guide you to a neat outcome.

Wrapping up the School Year in 6 Steps

As we approach graduations and the end of school hoopla, it’s a great time to pull together your child’s memories of their school years. The problem is, many of these papers, pieces of artwork and awards and ribbons are all over the house in bins, files and maybe hanging on refrigerators and bulletin boards. Here are a few steps to pulling together and savoring all your child has done and accomplished this school year:

 

  1. You have to be reasonable about what you keep. It’s often said that the key to organizing is making decisions. I completely agree with this statement and have seen it with many of my clients. The people with the most clutter and the most “old stuff,” can’t seem to make a decision and let go of the past. When it comes to savoring your child’s life with little pictures, and tokens of their stages of growth, it’s best to do it on a year by year basis. Think of it as finding the “best of” that year. Chose the best, toss the rest and move on! There’s so much more ahead.
  2. Only save the happy memories. Believe it or not, there are people who save mementos of unhappy occasions. I have seen people save bloody blankets from when their dog was hit by a car, newspaper clippings of national tragedies and obituaries, and pieces of casts from a broken arm! And I have to think, “Why?” Why would you want to be reminded of something sad, tragic or unhappy? I guess it’s a matter of opinion and preference but I would like to think that if you are saving things for your child, you would want only the happy memories to be preserved. So when considering what to keep for your child, ask yourself and your child, “Does this bring a smile to your face?”
  3. Gather it all together. If you’ve already accumulated a bunch of memorabilia for your child or children, to get it under control and organized you’ll have to gather it all in to one room. If you have more than one child, do this for one child at a time. It’s a great excuse to have some one-on-one time together!
  4. Finding time. Make sure you have allotted a few hours for this process because you may get lost in your reminiscing and that’s okay! If you don’t think you’ll get through it all, make sure you have an area where you can leave the stuff until you do finish your project.
  5. Use my Categorize, Purge and Re-Arrange (C.P.R.) process. Your categories might be: photos, artwork, baby blankets & clothes, baby photo albums or scrapbooks, trophies & awards, religious articles, schoolwork and stuffed animals, just to name a few. Of course your personal categories will depend on the age of your child and how much you have saved thus far. As you categorize, ask your child “Do you want to save this?” If the child says “No” you’ve got to honor that. You can also decide if something is necessary to save just by your child’s reaction. If there are lots of “oohs” and “aahs,” and “I remember this!” You probably want to keep it. If you get, “what is that?” it’s probably a toss.
  6. Create a Memory Box. Once you have looked at everything and made your decisions, create a memory box for each child. I recommend a trunk that can be left out in their bedroom. This way they can add to it easily.  Or a plastic tub in their closet works well too.  If you collect lots of papers (awards, artwork, cards) consider putting them in a scrapbook. Summer break is a great time to review, reminisce and refresh your memory box. You can also take some time to put together a scrapbook of all you’ve collected over the year. The first time you do this, it’s a big project but if you continue each year, it becomes a seasonal clean out.

Where to Keep Your Memorabilia

In honor of Memorial Day Weekend, I’m thinking about memories. So many times when I’m working with clients, we find memories in the strangest places – garages, basements, closets, even kitchens. I believe the key to really treasuring your memorable objects is to give them a place of honor. Display shelves work great if you have the room. But usually you have years worth of memories that won’t fit in a scrapbook or on a shelf. So what do you do?

Here’s a guest blog that I did for Organize 365. It comes at a great time of year – end of school and beginning of some children moving away from home. Any move or transition is a great time to look back at our sentimental items…but first you have to gather them and give them an important place in your home. And so we have the “memory boxes.” If your sentimental items are taking up space in your cupboard or your drawers, you may need to give them a new home. Check out all the possible uses for a trunk that also doubles as a time capsule: http://organize365.com/memories-trunk-guest-post-debbie-lillard/

organizing memories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Organizing Products I can’t live without!

Sometimes it’s the simple things that I realize really keep me and my family organized. Don’t think that you have to spend a lot or fill your cart at Bed, Bath & Beyond or the Container Store to “get organized.” I often say, it’s the process not the products but I do have a few favorites:


 

 

 

 

 

1. My daily planner – Really, how can you live without one? Mine is a Franklin/Covey and it is on paper. I like to touch and see what I have to do. Then I like to cross it off when I complete the task. I have a month at a glance for where I need to be and a daily page to write all the details of my tasks, hourly time schedule and notes about who I spoke with, etc. I plan my week out on Sunday night and then consult my planner each day. You could use a simple notebook and write the date on top of each page, but you still need that month at a glance to get the big picture.

2. My step basket – It sits on my steps and as I straighten the living room each night, stuff that belongs in the bedrooms goes in it. When we go to bed, everything gets back to the right room.  When I’m straightening the bedrooms it gets filled again to go downstairs. Great way to tidy up fast for company, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Family Calendar - I have two boys now on 4 baseball teams and a daughter who works and does theatre. Need I say more? My husband and I have to coordinate who’s going where and who’s taking who each night. So it’s all on the family calendar hanging on the fridge. Color coded for each child, of course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Shoe racks, shelf dividers and double hanging racks for the closets – Ok, technically that is three in one but these are the items that work in most closets. The trick with the shoe rack is to count your shoes before you buy the rack. Most shoe racks have room for 12 pairs, but Container Store has a rolling rack that holds 50! If you have the wall space in your closet, this is my favorite. Now realize you might still have to put out of season shoes away because most women I know have more than 50 pairs of shoes! The shelf dividers keep sweaters from toppling over and the double hanging racks are great for increasing the hanging space if you have the vertical space

5. Big Rubbermaid plastic bins – really you can put these all over your house! Use them for storing old tax papers that you don’t need in your file cabinet. Use them for sports equipment in the garage, pool equipment outside and for putting out of season clothes away in the attic. And of course the color coded ones are great for holiday decorations. These keep moisture, dust and critters out of your items in storage.

What organizing products do you use on a daily basis?

Organizing After a Business Conference

We’ve all been there. You go to a business conference and you accumulate great ideas, business contacts and therefore business cards, as well as free products. No matter how organized you are, it’s a little overwhelming to re-enter your real world with all this new-found stuff and excitement!

As I recently came back from such a conference, I wondered how many days (or hours) on average it takes my colleagues to unpack their suitcases and put away all their new items? So I decided to test myself, do it in a day and document the process I used. So here it is, for all you other entrepreneurs and business travelers:

1. Compile receipts – Obviously this was a business related trip so you’ll need to save receipts for tax purposes. While I traveled I put all receipts in a pocket in my wallet. When I paid cash and could not get a receipt I wrote myself a note and put it in the same place. I also use one credit card for business so the receipts will get dumped in that credit card’s file folder and will be compared to the next bill. I also totaled them up for my own curiosity about the cost of the trip.

2. Connect with Business Contacts – I put business cards in one spot in my travel bag as I collected them. I also made some notes on the back of each card as to why I was saving it. Some people were company representatives, some were board members in my same position from another city and others were just personal acquaintances who I spoke to because of a common interest. When I arrived home, I sorted them, connected with each on Twitter and Facebook and will write personal emails to those who I would like to keep in contact with. Business cards can get filed, or scanned and saved into your contacts list.

3. Review Your Notes – If you’re lucky enough to actually learn something from your conferences like I do each year at the NAPO National conference, you’ll want to review your notes, highlight the gems and then create an Action list for tasks that you want to start working on immediately. Some courses might have been informational but you’re not going to use that information right now, so you can file it in a reference folder. Other info may not be useful to you ever, so recycle it. The conference you attend might also like feedback so fill out the survey after you have looked over your notes.

4. Gather your freebies – What is it with expos and trade shows that makes you want to pick up every free item someone is giving away? I like to think I avoid that temptation being a minimalist at heart. But sometimes I take items for my kids (cheap souvenirs) or my clients. So divvy up the goodies and either toss the rest or use some as prizes the next time you speak somewhere. I know my clients are always excited about another canvas bin, Command hook or file folder!

5. Start Fresh! Going to a conference can open your eyes to new possibilities in your business. You can’t do it all and change everything, but decide what goals you would like to set or new avenues you want to pursue and incorporate them into your business goals. Post your action list right in front of your desk so you can see it daily. Add the day to day tasks into your planner that will help you reach those goals.

One thing I learned for my next conference is to pack a small bag with wheels. That will save my shoulders in the airport and walking around the expo!

What take-away do you have from your last business conference?

 

Absolute #4 – If you don’t plan it, it’s not going to happen

 

 

Wow, how many times have you said, “we’ll get to that someday” or “we should get together and do lunch (dinner or coffee)?” The reality of today’s fast-paced, over-scheduled society is that if you don’t intentionally put something on your calendar and plan a date to do something, it’s most likely not going to happen.  And this applies to friendly get-togethers, big projects and even little tasks. Here’s five examples of how you can make it happen and bring some balance and satisfaction to your day, your week, your month and year!

  1. Have a standing date with your best friends or family. I have heard families say to me that every Sunday is dinner at mom’s. Whoever can make it does and mom always makes spaghetti and meatballs and the rest of us bring side dishes. How nice to know that if you want to see your parents or catch up with siblings, you know where they will be every Sunday. Likewise I have for years gotten subscription tickets to a local theatre so five times a year (every other month from Sept. to May) I have a date with my close friends. We go to dinner, catch the show and catch up with each other’s lives.
  2. Plan your year – When it comes to big goals, it’s a good idea to start the year off with some big plans. Whether that is a nice vacation with your spouse or family or it’s a big idea for your job or business. Set a few achievable goals that you can work on through the year. Too many will set you up for failure so stick to a max of three for each area of your life. If you reach those early – by all means, set some more! One year I decided I was going to write a book. I got started in January, did some research on publishers, read some “how to” books and although some of this was luck, I had a publishing contract by May! Imagine what you could do if you set your mind to it.
  3. Plan your month – I always start a month off by looking at what I’d like to do on a personal level and a professional one. I write those goals or projects down in my daily planner. Then when I plan my daily/weekly tasks I make sure they support the larger project. Or if I have an unexpected day or half day to myself and I just don’t know what to work on, I check the list. Anything not accomplished gets carried over to the next month. But it’s still in the plan!
  4. Little projects around the house – Putting work and professional goals aside for a moment, think about what you need and want to get done around the house. Month by month you can plan home improvements. For example, Spring & Fall are good times to clean out places like the garage or basement or closets. You may have to look at the weather but pick a Saturday to do the garage as a family and it will go quickly and may even be fun. Winter months are great times to do inside painting or renovations. Tax time is a great time to clean out the file cabinet and end of school is a great time to clean out kids paperwork. Put it in your planner or on the family calendar.
  5. Who or what have you been neglecting? Think about whom you haven’t spent one on one time with and make a date. If you’d like to continue, make that a weekly or monthly date. How about exercise? I’m sure a lot of us have that gym membership that is going to waste. The only way to get regular is to plan it. Look at your typical week and see where a little extra time can be found. Maybe it’s early in the morning before you have to shower and get off to work. Or maybe there’s some dead time in the evening (7-9 pm) where you could exercise instead of watching TV.  Try it for a few weeks and see if it doesn’t become a habit.

In the interest of work/life balance it’s a good idea to plan something that you enjoy doing every day, every week and every month.

“For in the dew of little things, the heart finds it’s morning and is refreshed.”

-Kahlil Gibran