Organize a July 4th Summer Celebration

organize July 4 summer celebration


It’s easy to get in the spirit of our nation’s biggest celebration July 4th.  It takes just a little organizing for summer celebrations for us to have a grand ole time!  Organize July 4th summer celebration with these easy to do ideas.


Red, white and blue

Easy to pull together, our patriotic colors set the stage for fun.  Coordinate your party goods, food and beverages around these colors.  Strawberries, blueberries, and watermelon are healthy additions to every celebration.  Make homemade ice cream and add red, white and blue sprinkles.  Guests love to be a part of the food preparation and are happy to bring pot luck items to share.


Lanterns, twinkling lights, and sparklers bring light to your party after dark.  While waiting for the fireworks, have on hand glow sticks, glowing necklaces and glow in the dark toys.


Patriotic music is a must for this holiday celebration.  Pandora has a special patriotic music station.  Create your own playlist with God Bless the USA.  Choose music from all generations to play throughout the day.


Decorate your home with small flags at your curb.  Place American flag toothpicks in your edibles.  Share your patriotic spirit.


Let’s the fun begin

Old fashioned games are the best!  Think about croquet, frisbee, kick ball and other outdoor games we played as kids.  Serve water infused with strawberries and basil while you are playing to keep hydrated.


Bike rides and picnics are a fun way to celebrate the 4th too.  Decorate  your bike the evening before with red,white and blue streamers in your bike spokes and on your handle bars.  Bring a picnic lunch with a red checked tablecloth.


Rained out on your party date?  Take the fun indoors with charades, Heads Up app on your smart phone, or a top 10 July 4th movie like Independence Day or National Treasure.  Watch one of the national celebrations on tv from Washington DC or New York.


Plan to pick up these items early in the week to stay away from holiday crowds.  Enjoy your day with family and friends as you celebrate our national holiday.


Let’s party! Ideas on pinterest.


Top 5 Clutter Questions Answered

clutter questions


Many  of the same challenges you face others face with clutter. These solutions can be simple ways to start decluttering and organizing your space.  Check out these clutter questions and see if there is an answer for you here.


I don’t know where to start organizing.

You see clutter in many different spots in your home. You may wonder what’s the best place to start organizing.   I suggest starting in one of these two ways.

  • Start with what’s most frustrating.  When you are frustrated, you are ready to make change happen.  You are ready to let go of items and donate them.   What’s most frustrating is most motivating.
  • Start with a small space. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by organizing. By starting in small space,  you are see the change you are creating. You can finish a project quickly because it takes only an hour or two to complete.

Any space you start in is a great space!


I never have enough time to organize.

Our lives are busy and full. It’s not always a top priority to organize and other activities take priority.  There will seldom be a time we are truly ready to organize or have the time we want to do it all.

  • Make an appointment with yourself (and those helping you) to organize.  It can be as compelling as any appointment you make with a doctor, dentist or any professional. Your appointment will prevent other activities from being scheduled at the same time. Write in your calendar the time you will work.
  • Work in baby steps.  We often think organizing will take longer than we think. It fuels our procrastination.  By working in 15 minute increments, with a timer, you can make a lot of progress.

Make organizing a higher priority by thinking about your benefits.


It’s not my clutter.

We’re not always partnered with those who view clutter the same way we do.   However, we know that all relationships work best with respect and communication.  Share and listen.  Your family will want to make their home a serene environment. Set up small ways that organizing can happen on a regular basis.  Most importantly, start with your own stuff first.  When you model organizing, your family will follow your lead.


What about “just in case?”

We live in a world of vulnerability and unpredictability. It’s in our natural to want to keep more than we need as a result.  There are a few antidotes to this thinking.

  • The Minimalist share their theory of 20/20.  Anything you can replace for 20 dollars or go out of your way 20 minutes to get can be eliminated.
  • Anything you have not used in a certain number of years can be eliminated.  You set that number of years.  You may have to use it in the next 6 months, but it is worthy of storing as a result?  You be the judge of which is more valuable to you.  A little inconvenience or more added space.
  • Share your story of why you are keeping an item. Does it make sense as you tell someone else?

Just in case keeps us paralyzed.  Check in with new perspectives to see if you are ready to let it go.


It’s a gift from someone special.

Unused wedding gifts, sweaters from sister’s that are too small, or a collection from a deceased family member can have a strong hold on us.  Sentimental clutter is hard to let go of.  Decide if it is something you love first.  Is it an item that you can take a picture of to remember it, instead of keeping the item? Write a journal or blog post about why it’s special.  Keep a few of the most precious items and sell the remainder.  There are many ways to move forward with special gifts that have lost value for us.


There are lots of decisions to make in organizing. There are lots of resources to use to help you. Check out my pinterest boards to find answers to your organizing questions.   Join my monthly newsletter for more answers too.

8 Routines of Organized Families

8 routines of organized families


Family routines make family life run smoothly.  It’s no secret there are lots of reasons to be an organized family.  It’s these 8 routines that make a difference and help your family be THAT organized family.


1.  Family meetings help everyone communicate, work together and know what is needed.

2.  Grocery shop on the same day or days each week. Never run out of milk, bread or other essentials.

3.  Your family calendar can be paper or digital.

4.  Completing laundry twice a week means everyone can find their jeans and underwear all the time.

5.  Have a landing strip where kids backpacks and your bags sit ready to go each morning.

6. Have a spot your mail comes to each day, open it over the recycling container and shred right away.

7. It could be just once a week, but having family dinner together makes for cohesiveness.

8.  Everyone needs a good bedtime.



Organized families keep up with habits and routines with charts, check lists and signs.  Organized families make time for organizing and prioritize working together to organize.  Organized families know the value of organizing.


More ideas for busy parents here!




Paper Processing (How to make your paper disappear!)

paper management


Overwhelmed by paper and just want to make it vanish?  Paper processing is a way to be sure you are getting rid of as much extra paper as you can.  Check out these ideas!


Gather paper together mail, your kids’ backpacks, and other areas.

  • Set up a command center with slots or action, pay, file
  • Set up baskets for your kids school papers to keep for a month
  • Process incoming papers 5 minutes each day
  • Create a weekly administrative time for one hour to process everything in your command center and file.


Kids papers

  • Once a month review your kids papers. Keep only what is precious.
  • Keep it in a box in their closets, photo it for a photo book, or use a large portfolio to store it.


Annual paper review

  • Each February as you prepare for taxes, gather papers for tax prep, archive financials, and shred papers.
  • Group papers by year that may be of special value, such as medical explanation of benefits, credit card statements or kids school documents.

Going paperless

  •  Use PaperKarma to eliminate paper
  • Use to eliminate junk mail and magazines.
  • Choose a scanner to move from paper to digital.
  • Include a To Be Scanned section in your command center.


References for what to keep

  • ABCs of Important Papers
  • Real Simple 5 Steps for Simpler Record Keeping
  • Ellen’s Blog Important Papers


More ideas for getting rid of paper in my monthly newsletter.  Join here!


Organizing Quotes I Love

organizing inspiration

11 Summer Routines


summer organizing routines



It’s summer and we love the lack of routines. There are some days we can stay in pajamas all day and play unlimited. The change of seasons is best when you create new routines that suit the season itself. Summer routines makes the season more fun! Check out these 11 routines that make life better.


1. Set a bedtime.

Even in the summer it’s best when everyone gets a great night’s rest. When everyone is in bed, parents can shut off their lights early too.


2. Start or end the day with a bike ride or a walk.

Get moving this summer with time for exercise. The days are longer so you can take advantage of the cooler summer dusk to get outside.


3. Set tech limits.

It’s easier to set limits at the beginning than nag all summer. Your limits can include using a timer so when the bell rings, it’s time to get started on something else.



4. Eat 3 fruits and veggies each day.

Summer brings lots of great vegetables in season. Try something new like a mango or kiwi. Pick your own blueberries or strawberries.



5. Brain boost with flash card, a workbook, or tech games.

It takes up to 2 weeks to review when school begins.  Keep your kids brains fresh all summer. Join the fun by learning too!



6. Read every day. It can be a book, a blog, or a magazine.

Read together as a family so you all spend time together. Talk about what you read to share information of all types.



7. Set aside weekly down time.

Summer is our time to unwind. Intentionally plan time to do nothing. You will be surprised how refreshed you feel and less stressed too. Mark off those days on your calendar to be sure they stay open.



8. Establish ways your family can help around the house.

Helping prep and cook dinner, taking out the trash, and laundry are ways kids can be more involved during the summer. There’s fewer school responsibilities so add in a few for your home.


9. Declutter a little at a time.

Just 15 minutes to declutter drawers, under the sink, and other small spots around the house. Have your kids declutter their own rooms. It’s a time your kids can assess what’s most important to them and share their blessings with others. This is especially helpful if there are summer birthdays in your home.


10. Play games and do puzzles.

Hopscotch, Monopoly, Bingo, Old Maid and many other games are great family fun. Our kids don’t always know there are other games besides technology.


11. Practice gratitude together.

Gather together each day to share what you are grateful for. It can be through a conversation at dinner or a gratitude journal. Knowing that we are blessed by our family and friends helps us all be more positive.



Keep hydrated with plenty of water. Have a camelback water thermos for each kid and yourself. Keep it refilled all day long and carry it with you. We all need lots of hydration during the summer.



Your summer routines add a little structure to busy days. When everyone shares the routines in their home, life runs more smoothly. What routines can you start this week at your family meeting for summer?



Keep hydrated with plenty of water. Have a camelback water thermos for each kid and yourself.  Keep it refilled all day long!


What summer routines are in place at your home?


Join me on Facebook for more summer fun!


Organizing Quotes I Love

organzing inspirations

Effectively Organizing Your Small Biz Team

small business organizing



Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. ~Vince Lombardi


The best businesses practices include team work.  You and your colleagues work together for the best possible outcome in revenue generation and efficiency for keeping costs low. Not surprisingly, 96% of executives cite lack of collaboration and ineffective communications for workplace failures (Salesforce).  It’s about how well you do your job and how you enhance the efforts of your colleagues that is the best of a team effort.  Effectively organizing your small business team includes strategies for communication, delegation, and  collaboration.



Team work relies on clear communication between you and your colleagues.  There are many ways to communicate with your team.  What’s most important is to keep the lines of communication open. Be open to all collaborator’s ideas and truly listen to all team members.   Set expectations for communication in the beginning by establishing email, meeting and phone protocols.  These protocols include who to “cc” in an email, what responses to expect during a meeting, and when a phone call is required.  Setting deadlines enhances communication.  Everyone knows what the next step is and when it is to be completed.  Ask for input from colleagues for communication methods and deadlines and they will be more buy in as a result.


Delegation is not only turning tasks over to others. It’s a way of getting more done efficiently and effectively for a team.  Delegation is a learned skill.  For some colleagues it’s more natural than others to ask for help, delegate or find resources for a team.  Delegate by knowing the strengths of your colleagues.  It could be a technology skill, a great researcher or another quality that makes your colleague stand out.  Remember that you are not looking for a colleague who does this work just like you or one to do the work “perfectly.”  Give clear instructions with a note to check in at a specific point.




Collaboration is more than just working alongside a colleague. It’s engaging colleagues’ minds together to work in a trusting, goal driven environment.  True collaborators feel they have contributed to the greater whole with a whole hearted enthusiasm.  Leadership sets the tone for collaboration with a clear process for working together.



Useful tools

Collaboration and delegation are easily accomplished using technology tools.  Free apps including Trello and Asana promote both by assigning tasks and deadlines to each team member.  Trello is a list of lists where attachments from dropbox and google drive can be integrated.  In Asana, tasks are recorded and assigned, with a deadline.  Collaborators can view your completion of tasks. Check out more useful Small Business tools here!


What’s most exciting about small biz team work is the outstanding outcomes.  When more colleagues tap into the powers of team work, there’s more energy, enthusiasm, positivity and income.


More ideas here!  Pinterest Small Business Organization!

5 Tips for ADHD Productivity

5 Tips for ADHD Productivity

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort. ~~Paul J. Meyer

Trouble getting started or knowing when to finish up? Easily distracted while working? Easy to do the short term projects but long term projects don’t get started? All these challenges can be part of ADHD. Planning or focus may not be the greatest strength for ADHD, however there are ways to be more productive at work and home.



Tracking and Reminders

Start with trusted tools to be productive. Use a planner that works with your strengths, whether that’s a paper planner or a digital tool. If you are highly visual, a paper planner is most helpful. If you love technology, a digital planner makes a difference. Track all dates and deadlines for both home and work. Add in reminders that are both visual (dry erase board on the wall or large sticky notes) and auditory (alarms or timer) to help you stay on track. These reminders can be to help you know where you start, where you were interrupted or what is most important to tackle that day. A kitchen timer, app, or the reminder app on your phone can be ways to stay on track. A single notebook keeps all your tasks together in a single place to find these. Track your 5 most important tasks and check them off at the end of the day. Simple tracking and reminders consolidate this information.


Chunk your day and your projects

Long term projects can get lost in the shuffle. A long day without structure can be unproductive. Break your day and your projects into manageable pieces either one hour in time slots or smaller sections of the project. Smaller sections can be just one step forward in a project or several small steps that coordinate together. Structuring your day into parts keeps you from being overwhelmed and less efficient. A typical day can include a morning, early afternoon and late afternoon time frame for work periods. Add in your morning and evening routines at home and you are set up for success.




Collaboration is the key to success. Working with a partner adds interest and accountability. The interaction and engagement with a partner brings energy to every project. Choose a partner who has different skills and abilities to bring about productivity. Your partner can keep you on track with weekly or bi-weekly deadlines to finish a project on time. The most positive partnerships engage and empower you in your work.



The most effective plans and projects include meetings for accountability and a time line. Just like when we invite company over, we are faced with an imminent deadline. With deadlines, you will complete tasks and projects timely by that extra surge of energy. Coordination brings this all into being.



Work from your strengths

Your strengths could be creativity, tech savviness, working well with others, and any number of skills and abilities. If you are unsure of your strengths, ask a colleague to reflect these back to you. Create a plan that includes these strengths. Use your strengths by choosing work aligned with these and not dwelling in negativity. Find ways to bring out your strengths in your work as well by choosing parts of the project that engage your strengths.

Get started today! You may be flip flopping between multiple planners. Just choose one and use it for 2 months and assess. It can be difficult to approach your colleagues to get started collaborating and coordinating. However, this difficult step can lead to a rewarding effort that is well worth the effort. Reach out today to start your most productive year ever.


Check out more tips on ADHD here on Ellen’s Blog ADD!


Getting Prepared and Organized in Case of an Emergency

organizing in case of emergency



Disasters happen across the US and throughout the year resulting in property damage, injuries and stress. There are some tasks that you can do to keep yourself organized during these potentially high stress situations.  Getting prepared and organized in case of an emergency makes everyone feel in control and as ready as possible.


Create a Kit

Include items like water, canned foods, a can opener and blankets. These are the basic necessities that can support you in case you are stranded or without power. If anyone in your family, including your pets, requires medication, make sure to grab this medication prior to exiting your home. Additional items like batteries, a flashlight, a first aid kit and wet wipes can come in handy. Consult for a checklist.


An Evacuation Plan

One of the most challenging aspects of dealing with disasters is knowing where your family members are located and how to get to them. If everyone is in the same house, write down a plan to leave the home and get to safety. If family members are at school, work or running errands, determine what meeting place will be the central location and how to evacuate the area. It is good practice to document these processes and review them periodically.


Get Digitally Prepared

With the use of mobile phones, computers, tablets and other technology, there are a number of ways to protect your family during an extreme situation. Make an investment in back up chargers for these devices. Using cloud technology, identify pertinent documents and take photos of all your belongings and upload this information into a solution that can support photos and documents. Safely storing your information in the cloud can protect in case your home is no longer standing after a tragedy.

Get Your Home Prepared

With some effort, making enhancements around the home can help protect your home a little better during disasters. Add boards to windows and move outdoor furniture in or out of the line of the house when a hurricane warnings are issued. Trim back trees and shrubs when heavy winds and potential wild fires are expected. Invest in a generator if you are prone to a lot of storms which take out the power regularly.

These helpful tips can help make a difference during high stress situations. It is good to practice emergency preparedness when an emergency is not present to get in the habit when the unexpected happens.



Home Zada


Elizabeth Dodson is the co-founder of HomeZada, a cloud-based home management and organizational software tool. HomeZada strives to educate and provide resources for homeowners in all areas of home management, including home improvement projects, maintenance, inventory, and preparedness.

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