Sunday, December 30, 2007

Take 5 Friday - The Season of Giving

OK, so I'm a few days late on my Take 5 Friday, but that's only because it took me a couple of days to get my family motivated to join in on this one. And what's the best way to make use of your 5 minutes? Get your family members to also pitch in for 5 minutes...that's a total of 20 minutes worth of work for a family of four (minus 7 minutes per child under the age of 6!)

We spent 5 minutes in a quick "game" of find the give-aways and were easily able to fill up this box to go to Goodwill before the timer ran out. Now that's what I call spending your time wisely!

How much were you able to accomplish in just 5 minutes this week? Share your comments here then link to your own Take 5 Friday post!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Organizing Bags

I'm so excited! I just got my shipment of Organizing Bags from The Lazy Organizer. It's like Christmas came early for me! I've ordered some of these bags in the past, but this time I got the variety pack with all the different sizes. You have to check out Lara's site for all of her great ways to stay organzied using these bags.
I'm looking forward to sharing all of the great uses I find for these amazing bags with everyone. I'll keep ya posted. Has anyone else found some unique uses for these bags? Share your ideas here!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Take 5 Friday - The sock basket

This week I took a few minutes out of my busy schedule to match up renegade socks. I keep a medium sized basket in my laundry room to toss in lone socks as they come out of the dryer. Then, about once a month I sit down and go through it. Usually, by this time most of the strays have managed to catch up with each other and they can be paired up. This saves me time the rest of the month because I know eventually they'll catch up to one another and I don't have to fret over finding matches right away.

What did you accomplish this week in 5 minutes or less? To read more about Take 5 Friday, visit the Guidelines post and join us every week to see what others are up to!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Free shipping

This month until December 31st, I'm offering readers FREE shipping on my book, A Life Less Cluttered. Just click here to be directed to the PayPal payment screen and your order will be delivered to your door within 2 - 4 weeks. This is a first time offer and won't be availalbe forever, so pick up your copy today!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Take 5 Friday - The Frige

Maybe you noticed that I didn't make the Take 5 Friday post last week. That's what happens when you don't take at least 5 minutes to rest end up sick! But, I'm back this week to share my latest Take 5 Friday venture.

There's nothing like the chore of cleaning out a long over-due refrigerator to follow on the heels of your recent illness. If the unidentified container of food left way in the back isn't enough to turn your stomach, maybe you can use the mold growing in it to make a useful antibiotic. But that's what I tackled this week (cleaning the frige; not making meds). Now it's spotless and shiny. Once I was done with the "yucky" part (decifering edible from not), I used a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to give if a quick wipe down. This way, I didn't have to worry about chemicals effecting our food.

What about you? What did you tackle this week on Take 5 Friday? If you're new to Take 5 Friday, click here for guidelines and share in the fun!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Take 5 Friday-My Desk

It's amazing what we can do in just 5 minutes time. That's why I came up with Take 5 Friday. If you're new to Take 5 Friday, check out the guidelines to find out more.

Even with the Thanksgiving holiday it was easy to find 5 minutes during the week to tackle some sort of organinzing task. This week I went for the desk. I made a quick sort and filed some paperwork that had accumulated in my "to file" basket. And because things weren't too out of hand, I even had time to straighten the rest of my desk. Now, my work space is ready for work, even if I'm not! Tell us, what did you accomplish this week in just 5 minutes?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Take 5 Friday-Reading Basket

Welcome to the first post of Take 5 Friday! Join us each week to share your 5 minute organizing projects or ways you use 5 minutes to stay better organized. If you want to check out the posting guidelines click here, then join us! Being organized doesn't have to take tons of time. Take 5 Friday is all about what you can do in a short period of time to get or stay better organized.

This week I worked on a couple projects. One was my overgrown basket for reading material. I keep a medium sized basket next to my end of the couch for magazines, catalogs and other reading material. Problem was, it had become too over-crowded. So I sat down for 5 minutes the other day and cleared out all of the old, out of date stuff. Low and behold, my reading pile has gone from a jumbled mess about 10 inches thick to a neat stack in my basket that is only about three inches deep! This feels much more manageable for me to read!

Now, I'd love to post a before and after of this, but as you'll read in the guidelines I won't be able to until I get that nifty, new digital camera for Christmas...(I'm not above dropping hints, people...certain wonderful, loving family members, you know who you are!)
So, what were you able to accomplish in just 5 minutes this week? Post your name along with a short description here, then link to your own individual blog post. Be sure to add the link to Take 5 Friday to your posts so your readers can find out more. Oh, and feel free to use the Take 5 button on your sites!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tomorrow's the Day!

I'm so excited! Tomorrow is the launch of Take 5 Friday here on Organizational Enlightenment! Do you have your 5 minute organizing projects ready to share? Click here if you want to find out more about Take 5 Friday or the guidelines for posting. It's easy, it's fun and you're sure to get tons of 5 minute ideas to make your home or life more organized.

I've got my 5 minute project ready to post, how 'bout you? See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Countdown to Take 5 Friday

Have you been working on your 5 minute projects to post on Friday? You've still got time! Stop by here this Friday to see what others are accomplishing in just 5 minutes (plus get some great tips for yourself!) If you haven't heard about Take 5 Friday, get the scoop here and find out more!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The countdown begins...

Take 5 Friday! What are you going to get done in 5 minutes this week? Be sure to return here on Friday to see what everyone is up to and to share what you accomplished in 5 minutes this week!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Take 5 Friday

Becoming better organized doesn't have to take tons of time. There are lots of small things you can do each day or each week to help you along.

That's why I created "Take 5 Friday" for my readers. Take 5 Friday will be hosted here on Organizational Enlightenment each Friday and sponsored by Organize It Today. It's a chance to show just what you can do in just 5 minutes to help you become or stay better organized.

I've set up some guidelines here to help answer any questions you may have about posting and linking to Take 5 Friday. The first Take 5 Friday post will be on November 16th. I can't wait to get started! So, show us whatcha got!
Update: If you need some great 5 minute ideas to get you started, Laura, the Organizing Junkie has recently posted some great ideas on her site. Check them out, then check back here on the 16th for the kick off of Take 5 Friday!

Take 5 Friday Guidelines

Updated Guidelines

Here are the guidelines for posting on Take 5 Friday:

  • Be sure to mention "Take 5 Friday" in your post and link back here so your readers can find out more about it and join in too. (We can't have all the fun to ourselves!) You can also (and are encouraged) to add the Take 5 Friday lable to your post so that people will recognize the topic.

  • You can post any type of organizing tip or better yet, share a project you actually did during that particular week. But, here's the catch: it has to be something you can/did do in 5 minutes or less the time it takes for a coffee break (about 5-15 minutes) And don't forget pictures if you have them. Unfortunately, I won't be posting any pics until after Christmas when I receive my new digital camera (hint, know who you are!)

  • If Take 5 Friday "takes off" I will make it an official blog carnival and use Mr. Linky for everyone to link with. But until I guage the response to warrant doing so, just post your blog link in the comments each week under my Take 5 Friday post. Mr. Linky is now up and available on Take 5 Friday!

  • Everyone and anyone is welcome to join in the fun. After you've written your own post, come here every Friday and link to your individual post (not your home page).

  • You may leave a short description with your comment and link back to your individual post.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Setting Your Expectations

For those of you who do not know, I live with my husband, two daughters and our family dog, a big, happy golden retriever named Buddy. We're a dog-people kind of family. Living with a dog can sometimes be frustrating and full of surprises, like the time I came home to find the stuffing pulled out from my upholstered foot stool. But it can also bring much joy, like when I come home to find Buddy running to greet me with a wagging tail while trying to maintain his traction on the slick surface of the kitchen floor.

There are certain things that you come to expect from owning a dog. For instance, while I wouldn't be totally surprised, I would momentarily be taken aback if my 4 year old decided to lick my face. I say not totally surprised because this is not something that she hasn't tried or failed to accomplish once or twice. But it would be nothing for me to expect an occasional sign of affection of this type from my 4-legged friend.

I think nothing of Buddy jumping up on our bed to snuggle with the same 4 paws he uses to run after bunnies in the yard, kicking up dirt and grass along the way. But I'm sure I'd let out a horrified screech if I saw my husband on our bed with dirty shoes on...especially if it were Clean Sheet Sunday!

Likewise, one innocent, errant "mom hair" in someone's mashed potatoes and you'd think the whole meal was toxic. But they could drop their sucker in a pile of dog hair, half-heartedly wash it off and never think anymore of it.

So, it appears that some things are expected when you live with someone of a different species. Sometimes we have to look at organizing and keeping house the same way. And, let's face it, there's probably been more than one time you've thought your family was from another planet, or at the least that they were a bunch of pigs.

You have to expect that there are going to be times that your home doesn't always look like something from a magazine. You have to expect that someone is not always going to put things away. There are going to be days you want to hide the dishes. But, these are normal parts of everyday living. The joys of everyday living far outweigh the little inconveniences and those are the things that make you want to wag your tail.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Organizing Gene: Fact or Fiction?

Do you go about your daily activities thinking how much better things would be if you were just more organized? But then, reality hits and you say to yourself, “Who am I kidding? I just don’t have an organized bone in my body!” Do you often think that some people, maybe including you, just lack the “gene” to function in an organized state, forever doomed to live a life of clutter?

For some personalities it would seem so. But, becoming better organized is actually less about clearing clutter and knowing what to keep and where to store it. It’s more about developing the personality traits that are conducive to good organizational skills. It goes without saying, that to be more organized you have to do the obvious, like spending a few minutes each day picking up. But, when you get down to the nitty-gritty, it’s the personality traits of organized people that make the habits stick, and luckily, contrary to what many think, with the right tools these can be learned.

But, what about those who just seem to be “born with it”? It’s more accurate that these people were just exposed to examples of these traits early on in their lives. Fortunately, for those less adept, it’s never too late to learn. In actuality, everyone with the desire has the ability to learn to be more organized.

There are many adjectives that one is reminded of when it comes to describing someone who is “organized”. Things like being self motivated, prepared, efficient and consistent are all very attainable characteristics. Oftentimes, people think of these as things that you’re either blessed with or you’re not. But it is this same thought pattern that limits our ability to learn, effectively sealing our fate to never being able to successfully make that change.

Let’s take efficiency, for example. Organized people are often thought of as being efficient, true? Well, being efficient is all about processing things, whether it’s the daily mail or the kids’ toys, in a timely and proficient manner. Imagine how much more efficient you would be if you had pre-determined systems for the belongings in your life. By this I mean that when you open the mail, you have a place for bills, a place for magazines to read later, and a place for junk mail. Likewise, if you establish consistent places for sorting and storing children’s movies, books, toys and the like, clean up time is much more efficient.

Many disorganized people chronically suffer from the effects of clutter simply because they haven’t previously taken the time to explore the how, what, where and when of storage and processing. When you make these decisions ahead of time and use them consistently, most of the future work is done for you. Congratulations, you’ve just become more efficient! This method can be applied to nearly every area of your home if you stop and think it through. It takes a little forethought, but once you’re through that process, you hardly have to think about it again.

When it comes to organization, greater success is gained when the attributes are developed first. Developing good habits and specific techniques will follow. But the biggest payoff is that the transformations brought about will more likely be long-term changes that will help you reach your organizational goals and make positive improvements in your life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mom's Coffee Break

Hop on over to Mom's Coffee Break this week for a chance to win a copy of my book, A Life Less Cluttered and a 20 minute phone consultation. I'll be joining Coach Tonya Ramsey next Thursday October 18th for a live radio talk show. This will be my first time as a guest on a radio program, so I'm very excited about that! Be sure to get all the details and tune in to hear the discussion.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Smart Habit Saturday

So far I've been doing pretty well on all my new habits. I was worried when I started SMART Habit Saturday that some would drop off as I picked up new ones, but I've not been doing too bad. I think it's the whole accountablity factor and the fact that I know there are others out there striving to reach their goals right along with me. If you're not familiar with SMART Habit Saturday, visit The Lazy Organizer's blog to find out more.

Here's a recap of what I've been up to so far:

This week I'm adding:

  • Take my vitamins EVERYDAY!

Check in with me next week to see how it's going. What new SMART Habits can you come up with to be a better you?

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Life Less Cluttered

Don't take my word for it...visit The Lazy Organizer to see what others are saying about my book, A Life Less Cluttered: Expert Secrets to Your Own Organizing Epiphany.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Are You Stretched Out, Mommy?"

The title words inspired by my 4 year old probably have you all conjuring up a myriad of images, I'm sure. But, after my initial outburst of laughter was under control, I realized how profound my little one was.

Let me give you the background. It was a particularly difficult day last week. Lots of things going on and going wrong. I was about to be called upon to be referee between my daughters for the umpteenth time that day, when I let out one of my patented sighs of exasperation (which is apparently a sign for those around me that Mom is near her breaking point). My youngest daughter comes up behind me, lays a hand on my shoulder and asks in her most concerned voice, "Are you stretched out, Mommy?" See, what she really meant was, "stressed out", but the common, everyday term got turned around...or did it?

I realized, I have been stretched out lately, stretched thin, to the point it doesn't feel like there's enough of me to go around. Between my organizing business, my job (normally 4 days a week as a paralegal) and home and family, there's just been very little time for me. No doubt about it, I'm stretched out! No time to think, to ponder, to read, to relax, to do any of the things I enjoy. I'm almost to the point where I've forgotten what it is that I enjoy. Scrapbooking, what's that? A manicure? Never heard of it.

I took my plight to my husband. "I need time out. I need time to recenter. I want to take yoga. Not just pop in the cd at home either. I want to go somewhere and "take yoga".

He's usually a really supportive guy, so I wasn't surprised that he was very agreeable to the idea. (Plus he knows if mom's not happy, nobody's happy.) He even suggested he'd call his friend who owns a local fitness center and set something up for me. It's this great place, he told me, with a kids area right next to the class and a big window so I can keep an eye on the kids. You know, if he ever needs to drop them off to me for any reason.

"No way, bud! The point of me getting out alone is to get out alone! You know, like you do when you play softball twice a week."

"Oh," he says. "Is that what you meant?" He was even more agreeable then. Lucky for him.

I took my first class this past Thursday and it was great! Aside from the sore, stiff muscles in places I didn't know had muscles, it was very relaxing. The balance ball was interesting. I always felt slighted as a kid because I never got a "hippity hop ball". Now I figure this is my chance to re-live my childhood. And as I bend and twist my way into "downward facing dog" (that's a yoga pose by the way) I think to my self, "Now I'm really stretched out!"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Moisturize, Don't Agonize!

For awhile now, my catch phrase has been "Organize, Don't Agonize!". I think I'm officially (or not) changing it to "Moisturize, Don't Agonize!" It's going to be my new SMART Habit Saturday mantra. I'm tired of the scaly, flaky legs and with winter coming, it's bound to be worse. Plus I just saw a 70 year old woman on Oprah who didn't look a day over 40 and her secret she said, was moisturizing! So, my habit is to start using lotion everyday...of course I already missed this morning. But tomorrow...promise! So, maybe by the time I'm her age I'll look 50ish. I'm 34 now, so I have some time to work with, but I'm not expecting miracles here!
So, what new habit can you start picking up this week? See what others are tackling over at The Lazy Organizer's blog with Lara Gallagher.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

SMART Habit Saturday Recap

This week for SMART Habit Saturday I've decided to just recap what I've been working on, re-center, re-focus and re-group. Here's what I've been working on so far:

So, this week, I'm going to continue with the SMART Habits I've been working on and add a new one next week. If you want to find out more about SHS and The Lazy Organizer, visit Lara's blog.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Healthier Eating Habits

So far, I've been doing amazingly well on my new habits. This one will put me to the test. I've really been trying to eat more healthy. Tonight I didn't do so good. Ever have one of those movie-night dinners where you plop down for a family movie and eat snacky food for dinner? Pizza Rolls, mini quesadillas, cheese sticks...mmm! It only happens about once or twice a month (more often in the winter) so all's forgiven.

But, my new habit this week is to make better food choices by replacing not so good foods with better ones. Like wheat bread for our usual white, yogurt instead of a cookie, fruit added to my cereal instead of the ususal heaping spoonful of sugar. You get the idea.

I think I'm hoping the small changes will fake out my body and not be such a shock to my system. Maybe by the time this habit sinks in I'll have forgotten what junk food tastes like and I won't miss it so much!

Have you been over to The Lazy Organizer's blog to find out more about SMART Habit Saturday? SMART Habits are all about Saving, Money, Associations, Resources and Time. Check it out to find out more!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Good for the Soul Time

Smart Habit Saturday
(to join in on SHS, visit The Lazy Organizer)

I realized today that I'm really missing some "me" time, that little bit of time I used to tell my husband was "good for the soul" time just for me. One of the things I really miss is getting a manicure. It's been months, I tell ya! I'm not "high maintenance" or a real "girly-girl", not that there's anything wrong with that, but I did enjoy the occasional hand massage/manacure.

I'm fortunate enough to have fairly nice, natural nails. Mainly because I hate doing dishes. If they won't fit in the dishwasher, I ask bribe my oldest into doing them...or hide them in the oven. So, I enjoy keeping my nails painted most of the time, which I could do at home. But the best part is the relaxation I get from having them done at a salon. It makes me feel like queen for a day (or at least an hour). A good hand/forearm massage will leave you feeling almost as good as having a full back rub...almost.

Plus, it was a place I wouldn't dare take the kids; the older one because she'd beg me to get her's done and the younger one because I'd be fishing her out of the foot tubs. So it was alone time by a default. I did try to take my husband once when we were going out for the evening, but he poked so much fun at the bad voice-overs they had on the foreign movie they were playing that I told him I would never take him with me again. He was crushed.

So, I think my habit for this week will be to re-introduce an old one. I'll become a re-habitual offender! While getting my nails done may not be a weekly habit, I'm sure I can find something else to do for an hour or so on the off weeks.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hook, Line and "Stinker"

Ever want to know what chicken liver left in a closed vehicle for two days in sweltering 100 degree heat smells like? No? I didn't think so. Neither did I. But I had the distinct pleasure of finding out. And for the record, it's bad...really bad.

No, I didn't forget and leave a bag of groceries in the van. This was definitely not of my doing. My husband decided he'd like to do a little fishing at a get-together we attended Friday evening. When we got home after midnight that night, he forgot to bring his bait inside.

I haven't had need to set foot in my van again until today when I went to retrieve some cough drops I'd left in there. I've been a bit under the weather with a summer cold. Unfortunately, my sinuses weren't congested enough to save me from the stench which permeated my olfactory senses when I opened that door!

Whew! "Honey, I think something died in my van."

"Ummm" he says upon his investigation of the interior. "I guess I forgot to bring in the livers Friday. Would you like me to take it through the car wash and spray some car scent in it?"

"Ummm, yeah. And some disinfectant. And some more car scent. It really does need vacuumed out, too, while you're at it." I think I could possibly get an actual whole new car out of this.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Breakfast of Champions

For someone who enjoys food and has a hard time picking a favorite, I sure do skip breakfast...alot. I'm horrible about getting out the door without something to eat. Sure, I'll have a mid-morning snack sometimes, but somehow I think I'm missing out on something by not having breakfast. I tell my kids how important it is. Why don't I listen to my own advice, not to mention my growling stomach? to break this awful habit? Here's some "food for thought": Piggy back with an already existing (maybe not so good for you but fun) habit!

Okay, I admit it. I'm an internet junky. I almost never miss my early morning ritual of checking my emails and catching up on my horoscope, a favorite blog or tidbits of actual news. If I had a laptop and wireless, I'd be in trouble. My husband often wonders how it is that I can stay up til the wee hours surfing, but nod off at the exact instant we sit down to watch a movie. Maybe if you'd let me control the remote once in awhile like I control the mouse, I'd have something to occupy me!

So anyway, I figure, why not eat a bowl of cereal while I'm busy getting my net fix? I'm on day five of my new habit and so far, so good. I was actually looking forward to my bowl of cereal instead of just my emails. I may have to adjust my wake up time a little though. It seems that surfing takes longer when you're eating. Maybe because I haven't mastered eating with my left hand so I can control the mouse with my right, but I'm working on it!

Join in on SMART Habit Saturday with Lara Gallagher

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rules Are Meant to be Broken...Sometimes

Pick up nearly any organizing book out there and they'll tell you "finish one project before moving to the next", "do things in a specific order", yada, yada, yada. I've even been guilty of giving the same advice to clutter weary clients. But, sometimes rules are made to be broken.

See, for organized people who just want to pretend that they need more structure in their life, that advice might work. Might actually be FUN for them in some crazy, warped way. But for those of us with shorter attention spans...well, it means more than just WORK. It means TORTURE! I mean, spend more than ten or fifteen minutes in one area?! That's nearly unbearable for some people! And chronically disorganized people (or recovering ones) often find it hard to devote long spans of time to one project.

There are some tasks that I can happily attend to and hours may pass by indiscriminately, while others seem to drag on forever. Some organizing projects are that way. So, I say...why not bend the rules? Who says you can't jump around from area to area, task to task like a pin ball and still accomplish something? Well, take it from The Organizing Muse, you can!

In one short weekend I managed to:

  • Cleared out my old nail polish and toiletries in my bathroom

  • Went through magazines and books in our bedroom

  • Sorted outgrown kids clothes to donate

  • Pulled and pitched indeterminable items from the fridge

  • Dusted and vaccumed our bedroom

  • Sorted kids' bath toys; tossing out "yucky" ones

  • Listed gently used books on Amazon (and made some money too!)

  • Clipped and filed coupons

I did all of these things in no particular order and not all during one time span. I didn't worry that the rest of the room didn't get touched. (Next weekend, I'll hit some other areas.)

I picked tasks that wouldn't take long. I used my time wisely. And I didn't let myself get bored. For instance, I went through the bathroom cabinet while I was supervising bathtime. I sorted magazines while catching up on my favorite TV shows. And, I felt like I really accomplished something. I broke one of the cardinal rules of organizing...and I'm better off for it. So, don't be afraid to let your attention wander. Some rules were meant to be broken!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Clean Sheet Sunday

Oh I love a Sunday night, such a beautiful sight. I love to feel clean sheets on my bed, smell the fabric softener as it...OK breaking into a bad version of "I Love a Rainy Night" may be taking it a bit too far. But I do love "clean sheet Sunday"! It's amazing how well I sleep when the sheets have just been changed.

Recently, I've tried to develop the habit of changing the sheets on our bed every Sunday and so far I've been pretty successful at keeping this up. You know the Febreze commercials where the lady sprays the carpet and comes back in the room to find all of the toys doing a face plant on the floor so they can smell the carpet? That's me on "clean sheet Sunday". (I know my husband laughs at me for all of the "little things" in life that I find amusing.) I'm practically glued to the bed as I drift off to the scent of fresh linens.

Now, I recall an Oprah episode on dust mites and how one lady had not changed her sheets for years. Years, people! I'm not sure how many, but it was alot! Oprah went on to say "I change my sheets everyday". Now, although I can't picture Oprah changing her own sheets (I have a sneaking suspicion she has some help with that)...but I'm amazed to say the least--everyday?! Now, that's something to aspire to!

Hon, you've got the kids, I'm turning in early tonight! I'll soon be off to peaceful sleep, that is until the dog and the 4 year old decide to hone in on my "clean sheet Sunday" and nuzzle their way into our bed! Anyway, you should give "clean sheet Sunday" a try tonight! (Cover Stealer and Tail-Wagger optional.)

Christine, The Organizing Muse

Want to join in on SMART Habit Saturday? Visit my web friend Lara's site, The Lazy Organizer.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Organizing Muse

OK, I was trying to come up with a cool "handle" for myself now that I'm into this blogging thing. I wanted something that reflected my quest for the calm serenity that I hope organization brings to my sometimes hectic household. I wanted something inspiring. The term "muse" struck me.

Since I've heard it used and had a general idea of the meaning, but never had the occassion to use the word myself, I looked it up on which describes muse as: "any goddess presiding over a particular art" Goddess, huh? I like it! Not to mention the whole inspiring thing. The Organizing Muse...hmm...has somewhat of a greater presence than the Organizing Queen or Guru (always hated that word) or something similar. And don't you think it fits great with my blog title "Organizational Enlightenment" and my "Musings and Mishaps" category? That and the fact I've always thought of organization as an art form in and of itself. But, that's a post for another time...

For now, I'll just sign off as...

Christine, The Organizing Muse

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Organized vs. Spontaneous

Being organized or being spontaneous? Does it really have to be one or the other? A good friend of mine recently confided in me a deep dark secret. Deep down she was afraid that becoming organized meant that she would have to lose her spontaneity. Her fun loving, get up and go spirit was something she cherished and nearly everyone who met her could easily fall in love with that quality about her.

Of course it got me wondering if everyone who was chronically disorganized had this fear, but moreover I shuddered to think that people may be finding me (gasp!) boring and a tiny bit dull! So, out of sheer friendship I set out to put this myth to the test and dispel my friend’s qualms. Alright, maybe some small portion of me wanted to make sure I was still fun to be around!

Trying to think back to the last time I did something out-of-the-blue, I realized immediately that I, a professional organizer, almost never plan a weekend. It’s true. Take a look at my Palm Pilot and you’ll see that among the carefully planned weekdays, there is hardly a Saturday or Sunday to be found with a planned activity. Now, come to think of it, that’s just disturbing. Maybe I don’t have a life after all. Surely there’s something else to draw on as a case in point.

I’m sure I can be just as unpredictable as the next person. Just a couple weeks ago, for example, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things and I didn’t even take a list! Nope, didn’t even bother to take stock before I hit the store because I stopped on the spur of the moment! That’s got to count for something. Everyone knows that is one of the cardinal rules of organized meal planning.

The truth is, since becoming more organized (no, it doesn’t have to come natural but that’s another story) I think I’ve truly learned to loosen up and adapt more. Over time, I have been able to enjoy the freedom of being more impulsive on the things that really matter because I don’t have all of the “un-dones” hanging over my head. I have learned that if I’m not particular about the way the towels are folded and put away, I leave the possibility open for someone else to help me around the house. I have developed the knack of being prepared so that if I want to scoop up the kids and head out for a day of unplanned fun, it doesn’t take me hours to gather everyone and everything and leave the house.

I think learning to be more on top of things has led me down a path of “planned spontaneity”. I think that may be the best of both worlds, my world anyway. The object of the game is finding what’s right for you.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Back To School Basics

School is almost here. For many people, the end of summer means back to school and a more hectic schedule. Even if you don't have children at home, many of us can benefit from basic organizing tips to help stay better organized.

Organizing 101

With school only a few short weeks away, preparation is underway for our youngsters to return to the halls of learning. Here are a few tips that parents can use to help kids hit the books with some organizational knowledge in hand.
• Obtain a list of needed school supplies and hit the store. If you don’t have the list handed out at the end of the year, visit your school’s website or check major supply stores for a copy. Most local stores post them near the front or in the school supply section.
• When it comes to items that are less durable, such as folders and crayons, stock up now when prices are at their lowest. Check what additional supplies are needed for second semester and purchase those now as well.
• Try a plastic accordion style expanding file for transporting homework, spelling lists, graded papers, etc. They are more durable than paper folders and most come with dividers so you can establish good learning habits early on.
• Anticipate supplies needed for special projects, such as poster board, extra glue, markers, etc. and purchase a minimal supply ahead of time to help prepare for those last minute “mom, I forgot I have a project due tomorrow!” days.
• Speaking of last minute notifications, keep a frozen tub of cookie dough on hand in case you suddenly become volunteered to donate to the bake sale or class snack.

While these ideas are sure to make the grade, more importantly they are teaching kids to take an active role in the planning process while learning valuable organizing and time management skills from you which aren’t always taught in a book. And that’s something they can take with them throughout their grade school years, to college and beyond.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Home Offices Home to More Clutter

With home-based businesses and work-from-home options of “telecommuting” on the rise, many home offices have become havens for mounds of paperwork and misplaced clutter. The piles and disorganization can make digging out seem overwhelming to most.

It’s no surprise this area seems more out of control than others. Many home offices have to pull double duty. Your desk by day might be the family’s dining area in the evening. Your master bedroom may serve as your main business hub by day. Add children to the equation and you can bet there will be a “toy room” intermingled, whether it was intended, or not. These scenarios can make for a very stressful, disorganized work environment and a likely place for clutter to emerge.

Some simple steps can make a home based office run more efficiently:

  • Arrange your office area into “zones”. Have a specific task in mind for each section; mailing, filing, computer work, reference, etc. This helps determine a clear home for everything and develops good habits of returning items to their proper place.
  • Keep up with paperwork on a regular basis. Even if you have to schedule time with yourself to do this, make sure you’re diligent. Keep a “to be filed” tray, but keep it small so that you can’t pile more than you can file away in 10 minutes time. This will force you to work on paperwork more frequently and for shorter periods of time, so you don’t get bogged down with the task.
  • If your office area is multipurpose, look for “trans-formable” storage solutions. By choosing a rolling file cart or a stylish cabinet that can conceal files and supplies or using a desk that closes up, you can easily transition the space for after hours.

The bottom line is, when you’re more organized, you are more efficient. Taking the time to organize and develop systems for your office area is not a waste of time. You are investing in your business by increasing your own productivity, and that’s not a bad thing!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Maybe She's Born With It

“Maybe she’s born with it”, the cosmetics jingle rings in my ears. People ask me, “Are you just born with the organizing gene?" What they really want to know is, “Is there any hope for me?” The answer is yes! Actually, I was not always an organized person.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I were at home when the phone rang. Friends wanted to stop by in about fifteen minutes! The place was a wreck. Dirty dishes were piled in the sink, the dishwasher was full, newspapers and mail cluttered the living room, and we probably hadn’t vacuumed in a while. My husband straightened the living room while I started on the dishes. I was running out of room and time. In my infinite wisdom, I decided the oven would be a great place to stash some dirty dishes, temporarily of course! The place was presentable, our visitors came and went. The antics of our breakneck-speed clean up were forgotten.

Days later, I was pre-heating the oven for dinner. You guessed it. The dishes that I had so cleverly hidden in the oven included some plastic cups and plastic handled pots! Those items are not rated for a 350 degree oven! One huge mess, some bologna sandwiches for dinner and a few well learned lessons came from that episode; 1) never, ever think you’re too clever for your own good, and 2) it’s never too late to learn a new skill, such as organizing.

What can you do if you weren’t born with it but want to look like you were?

• Find help from books and television. The knowledge that you’re not alone can alleviate anxiety you may be feeling over your current situation, plus you’re likely to pick up a few tips.
• Have a plan and a starting point. Depending on your preferences, either choose your most troubled spot or a smaller area where you can see quick improvements.
• Call in a professional. A good personal organizer can help you learn the necessary skills to be more organized. By working along side of them, you can develop good habits. Many organizers offer services ranging from consultations to hands-on sorting sessions to best fit your needs.
• Set goals. Knowing what you want to accomplish with your space will help you attain your goals. Do you want a more relaxing environment? A functional space? An efficient work area? Keeping your goals in mind will help you if the going gets tough.
• Fine-tune your systems. You may need to regroup and rethink your newly organized system a few times before you’re completely comfortable with its inner workings. What works today may need tweaking tomorrow, and any system is going to need regular maintenance.

Above all else, know that this is a learning process. Some are born with natural musical or artistic abilities, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to practice to perfect their skills. Organizing doesn’t always come naturally, but with practice it can become easier.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Updated website

If you haven't visited my website, or if it's been awhile, please take a few minutes to stop by. I've been busy over the past few days! While you're there, be sure to sign up for my free monthly subscription of Organi-zine: The Ezine That Gets You Organized! I always offer great tips for getting and staying organized and subscribers are the first to know about special offers.

Have a great day!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Camp Mom

Well, my kids are off to their grandparents' house for a long weekend. I've got two girls, Samantha, 10 years old and Alexis, 4 years old, and it's a rare treat for them to go for an overnight.

So, what's the first thing on this mom-gone-wild's agenda? You might think I have a hot date with my husband planned, but no. I'm going to the county fair to sit at a booth in the sweltering heat with a friend. I'll enjoy some of that junky fair food without having to hear about going on rides or winning a goldfish. I'll be able to walk through the booths without anyone begging to go see the animals already. Ok, they've only been gone one hour and I miss them already!

What I think I'm actually looking forward to doing is some closet cleaning and reorganizing this weekend. How sad is that?! Maybe get in some walking or some yoga, my newly found relaxing "me-time" activity.

Blogging virgin

Okay, I admit it. I've never "blogged" before! Lots of people have told me I needed to, but I just never took that first step to actually do it. I thought, what's the big deal about it anyway? I publish an email newsletter, what could be so different? Do people really want to hear about my life anyway? Boring! I'm sure I'll get the hang of it.

Anyway, I wanted to create this to keep in touch with others, let them know what was going on in my organizing business and to let them have a place to come to ask questions or get answers. And hopefully, it won't be boring!

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.