Monday, July 6, 2009

It's not an easy time for a lot of us. The downward economy and uncertainty has left many people feeling frazzled and out of control. Our homes are sometimes the only areas in our lives that can offer us sanctuary. But if your home leaves you feeling chaotic and displaced, it offers little to no comfort to you.

A better organized space can make you feel more at peace with your surroundings. Less overwhelmed by the influences of the outside world. But where to start? Knowledge is power. Power to become more organized, to live a simpler life and get back to the basics. And now you can be more organized for less!

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Resolving to be More Organized

So, it's the New Year and probably, like a lot of other people “becoming better organized” might top your list of New Year’s resolutions. Usually what happens though is before the final verse of 'Auld Lang Syne' is sung, many of us will have considered this lofty idea just another failed attempt.

This year try to redefine your resolution:

· Set more specific goals such as; create a better filing system, use time management tools more effectively, follow up with clients more regularly.
· Create to-do lists each week, choosing one or two tasks based on your specific organizational goals such as; clear out-of-date files, use calendar/pda more efficiently, update contact management program.
· Build in regular maintenance time to your schedule, setting aside time to review files, update your calendar, enter new contact information, etc. so that you can continue your good habits throughout the year.
· Review your systems periodically so that you can re-evaluate whether or not changes need to be made or if your system is working to its potential.

I usually find that the more specific I am with my goals, the more likely I am to reach them.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Post Holiday Stress Syndrome; 8 Steps to a Speedy Recovery

OK...I don't know if there is such a thing as Post Holiday Stress Syndrome, but there should be a name for the craziness in my household that takes place from December 26th up until around my birthday. (That's January 9th if you're taking notes. We won't talk about how old I'll be.)I don't typically get too stressed before or during the holidays. It's the aftermath that usually hits me hardest. Not only are things more out-of-sorts with all of the stuff, but there's something a little depressing to me about the un-decking of the halls, so I tend to procrastinate with this task. I have learned a few tricks over the past few years that have helped me recuperate more quickly. Here's my 8 Step Recovery Process to help curb that Post Holiday Stress Syndrome:

  • Go through clothing, toys and other household goods before the gift-giving season hits to reduce and eliminate unwanted or unused items and prevent overload. (Sorry...ummm, maybe you can use that one next year!)

  • Set up a large box or plastic bin for each family member to separate and store their unwrapped gifts while in transit and until they find their permanent spot. Once emptied, use the plastic totes to store holiday decorations or off season clothing.

  • Plan upcoming menus using holiday leftovers and freeze some meals for those evenings over the next few weeks when cooking is out of the question.

  • Break down the post-holiday clean up into steps. Work on one small project at a time, like un-decorating and putting away the holiday dishes.

  • Spread the cheer. While leaving your Christmas tree up until February may be a little embarrassing, snowmen until St. Patty's Day (at least in some climates) isn't completely out of the realm of possibilities. Work on putting away the most season specific items first, then move on to less distinctive decorations.

  • If holiday overspending has got you down, the best way to face it is head on. It's time to review your budget and determine how much extra you can apply to pay toward your outstanding balances until they are paid off. Better to tighten the belt now for a few months than to still be paying on holiday bills this time next year.

  • If you have multiple credit cards, once one is paid off, apply that regular payment to another card in addition to what you were already paying. You'll multiply your efforts and get rid of debt even quicker. (This tip works great all year round!)

  • Finally, take some time for yourself. This time of the year can be just as stressful as the holidays themselves, if not more. We're all so busy this time of year, we often forget ourselves. It's a great time to take up a new hobby, start an exercise program, curl up with a good book or just catch up with friends.

Taken as prescribed, these tips will help you make a full recovery, with little or no side effects. Care should be taken as some of these tips (especially the last one) can be habit forming and should be used under the supervision of at least one other person for the maximum benefit. Use of alcohol and exposure to direct sunlight are optional and could possibly intensify (or inhibit) the effects of the recovery process. Individual results may vary.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Product Review-File Tote

I was recently asked to review a new product and I was thrilled to oblige! First, let me say that I've been looking, literally for years, for something to carry files on the go, but that was stylish. I never found one that suited me. Okay, maybe it's like going to be my personal mission to make it known that organized people don't have to be all about function and that fashion is important, too. (It's a good excuse to buy "cute" organizing stuff, anyway!)

So, when the people over at Jamie Raquel asked me to preview their new, fashionable--and extremely cute I might add--LifeSTYLE File Tote, of course, I jumped at the chance! They sent me the cool lime green one (one of my favorite colors!) and I was very impressed with the construction. THIS tote is STURDY! It holds hanging files, has cell, pen and pda pockets.

I waited patiently for a chance to use it. My day finally came when I had to load up some files for a presentation. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, I realized how great this file tote was when I made it there and back without losing a single file or without having the tote fall over in transport. If you knew my driving, you would understand that this is near impossible! But they all made it there, thanks to the strap that secures your files in place.

Two big thumbs up for this new product. It was exactly what I'd been looking for all these years, but never found in any store.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Back to School Basics

While most of the kids are back to the books, it seems like a good time to review some basics for us parents. Here are some ideas I use to help keep my kids organized when it comes time to head back to school:
  • Set up a place for the kids to deposit papers that you need to review, like an in-box (ideally this will located near the point of entry).
  • Install hooks at the entry way for book bags and coats.
  • If you keep special papers, keep them under control with a simple document box. Be sure to review them at the end of each school year and weed out those that seem to have lost their "specialness" over time.
  • Keep school notes, phone lists and schedules for activities in a central location. I use a 3-ring binder for this and keep it near the kitchen phone.
  • A few simple prep steps on Sunday evening can help ensure a more smooth week; pick out clothing for the entire week, prepare lunches for the next day, review after-school activity plans and arrange to do household tasks for the least busiest days.

Even the best laid plans can't always prevent chaos from showing up every once in awhile, but maybe with the help of some of these suggestions, you can rest a little easier knowing that winter break is only a few months away!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Frazzled Female

So, I've been invited to give a presentation on organization to a group of women tomorrow night for their series on 'he Frazzled Female', in hopes, I suppose, that my insights on organizing can bring them enlightenment on how not to be frazzled. This is something I'm finding quite humorous right about now because I am that quintessential "frazzled female" at this given moment!

I have one day this week to prepare for this short presentation and another unrelated, all-day event for over 200 women, where I'm giving two presentations. One day. That's tomorrow. And low and behold who gets called for jury duty? ME. And when am I supposed to report? TOMORROW. Isn't the legal system grand?

What you may also find humorous to note...I'm a part-time paralegal! What goes around comes around, I guess!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Clear Some Clutter and Stash Some Cash

Garage sales, tag sales, yard sales, rummage sales; whatever you call it in your corner of the globe, like it or not, it can be a great way to unload some clutter. The thing about these types of sales is that it's a toss up. You can sit out there all morning and make a whopping dollar-fifty, or worse yet, not even recoup your advertising costs. You never really know if the weather's going to be a factor or if the traffic will bring the just-right customers through who are looking for what you're selling. As a whole, I find donating items throughout the year is the best route to go, but sometimes a sale is in order (like if you have a large amount to get rid of all at once).

But, if the time has come for you to unload some of your treasures on unsuspecting neighbors, there's definitely a right and wrong way to make the most of your sale. Keep these things in mind:
  • Be willing to negotiate on price. Some people just like to "haggle". If you think you have something of considerable value, check out the going price on ebay or amazon so you know what you're dealing with.
  • Don't be offended if someone offers you less than your tag price. Keep in mind that for some people, it's the "thrill" of the bargain. Some people will just always try to talk you down, even on the 50 cent shirt you only wore once.
  • Organize your goods by sections, like a store; toys, clothing, electronics, kitchen items, etc. Your customers will enjoy looking longer and more looking = more money!
  • Have plenty of change and bills on hand as well as bags, newspapers for wrapping fragile items, a notebook, pen and calculator.
  • If multiple people are selling things, use a different color price sticker for each person. You'll know immediately who to credit for the sale.
  • See if your neighbors want to have a community sale. You're more likely to attract a larger crowd of customers and you can split the advertising costs.
  • Check local codes, regulations and neighborhood covenants. Some areas require permits to hold a sale. It's also a good idea to post a "not responsible for accidents" sign, just in case.
  • Don't stash things away for more than 6 months in preparation of a sale. My mom would hold on to things for years just for her next sale. These were usually the thing that didn't sell from the time before. Sorry, Mom--had to go there.
  • This brings us to our final tip: Immediately pack up leftovers and drop off at a local charity or arrange for them to pick up. If you were willing to part with them before, you should be fine with letting them go to a good cause. Your "compensation"? Creating a more organized living space. If you still have an item or two that is very valuable, consider taking it to a consignment, resale or pawn shop or listing it on the internet.

Having a sale can be a lot of work, but you can make some of your money back from past purchases and it sometimes makes parting with things a little easier. Use your profits to treat yourself to a day at the spa, dinner and a movie, a weekend away or something you've been wanting to buy. You deserve it!

Do you have more great garage sale tips you've found helpful?

Copyright 2007, Christine Rice

You are welcome to use any of the information or articles from my blog for your own newsletters or ezines, just be sure to add the following copyright notation:

Christine Rice, Professional Organizer and owner of Organize It Today helps people discover "organizational enlightenment" with the help of her newest book, A Life Less Cluttered: Expert Secrets to Your Own Organizing Epiphany. Visit her website at to find out more about her services and products.