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.