Goal setting for the new year

Trying to make a change?  Here are some thoughtful resources  to begin the process!

10 Questions to Ask Yourself


My Specific Goals by MomAgenda


Organize to Revitalize


Zig Ziglar’s Seven Steps to Goal Setting

Time for a Picker Upper from the Houston Chronicle

Most of us have too much stuff.

It’s tough to resist the latest gadget in a consumer-oriented society. Sentimental attachments are difficult to break. And often, we’re simply too overwhelmed to declutter. Life transitions and work overload get in the way.  The situation has fueled a growing demand for professional organizers to help sort through the forests of paper, boxes of junk stuffed in the garage and the dark cave of half-used cleaning products lurking beneath the kitchen sink.  Fall’s an opportunity to get the house in order so you can show off seasonal decorations, have spices in easy reach for holiday baking and welcome company to a guest room without outdated computers shoved into the corner.  “Start with the end in mind,” says Ellen Delap, owner of www.Professional-Organizer.com.


Organizing your new gadgets

In holidays past we were all about assembling toys and reading instruction manuals.  Now it is setting up your wireless and using your new smart phone!  We each have a different way of getting started on our new technology.  Some of us like to read on the internet, some of us like to play with the technology, others like our friends to talk us through the set up.  Let me offer a few hints with baby steps to get organized.

New Kindle or Nook

New mobile device like a smart phone

  • Verizon offers a class for their customers with blackberries, droids or other new phones. It is well worth the time to attend! I did! After struggling for 2 weeks with a new phone, it was great to get specific instructions on common tasks and shortcuts. 
  • Google instructions for your specific smart phone. There are an incredible number of online resources to suggest how to get started.
  • Just do it! It may be painful for the first 2 weeks, but the transition is worth it.  Remember when you travel to a new country how quickly you learn the language? When you “just do it,” it is the same immersion process. 

New computer, laptop or other hardware

  • Find a reliable, knowledgeable and trustworthy source to help with installation.  If you work with technology regularly, you know the shortcuts.  Consistently rely on the same source for set up for all your devices.
  • Before you transition, think about backing up all your data. I use www.carbonite.com and it has been a great resource.

New ipod,  ipad, itouch or iphone

  • Online resources will be a great help here.  Of course Apple offers a great resource here. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4053
  • The Apple Store offers one on one, workshops and other training.
  • There is always the old fashioned way: by phone at 1-800-MYAPPLE. 

Calendar technology

  • Choose a calendar that will work well with your smart phone or find an app that will add your existing technology. With my smart phone, I added nitrodesk to be able to view my Outlook calendar.  You can use Google calendar automatically with your gmail accounts on Verizon products.  If you have an iphone, you can also sync with the google calendar.  Every phone is different, so check your provider for  more information. 
  • Set aside an hour to add as much current or upcoming information as possible.  Add dates from school, church, Boy Scouts, and any other events between now and June.
  • Begin adding in dates for birthday and anniversaries as recurring events.
  • Remember, each time a new date comes up, check your calendar, and enter the date.

Getting started with your new gadgets may take a few extra minutes but it will be well worth it! Remember, there are always a few glitches so be sure to persevere.  If you get stuck, talk with friends, google or call.  

What are your ways of organizing your new gadgets? 

Lifehacker’s link for shiny new gadgets  http://lifehacker.com/5717749/

Keep It Simple Santa

It is the happiest of times and the busiest of times!  The holiday season is here!  Sharing a few ideas to help you celebrate this special time of year! 
Choose one

Whether is it choosing gifts, baking holiday cookies or sending Christmas cards, we often have complicated choices.  Choose one biggie and make it your best.  Simplicity is a powerful way to do your best and de-stress. 

Also, think about taking one task off your list this year.  Throughout the year we are busy, and the holidays are extra busy.   Take off that one task you dislike the most, you are least prepared for, or one you can delegate easily. 
Share the joy

Holiday time is filled with ways to share time and tasks.  Partner with family members to get tasks done, such as wrapping gifts, baking, or decorating.  Put aside perfectionism so your partners can be creative and have fun.  These moments make the holiday  most memorable.  

Think of others to share the joy too! Set a time and date in the next few weeks for family decluttering.  This is the perfect time to declutter with your kids help.  Have them help you load the car and go with you to donate too.  Used toys in good condition are appreciated by Goodwill now and all year long.
Spend time with people, not preparations

Nurture time with family and friends at this time of year.  Set a date and create a simple gathering with those who are most important.   Time together can be a visit to a museum, a picnic in a park, or a watching a holiday movie together.  Here is where the true joy of the season really shines.

Wishing you a very merry holiday season and the happiest of new years!  Hugs, happy organizing and happy holidays! 

Elegant Holiday Decorating Made Easy

Thank you to Leslie Sarmiento for this guest post on making your home merry and bright! 

 Holiday decorating is an American tradition. No matter what kind of year you’ve had, the holidays always seem to conjure up images and memories of a magical time. Holiday decorating allows you to capture some of that magic and bring it home.

With the huge selection of holiday décor to choose from, deciding which items to buy can be overwhelming. With all the sparkle, glitter, bells, and music, all beautiful and magical, reminding us of a warm holiday moment or two. The biggest mistake most people make with their decorations is thinking all holiday accessories coordinate and work well together. Not true! As the selection for decorations grow larger each year, holiday décor now goes way beyond Santa, the angels, and Christmas trees.

So how do you know which items will work well for you?

As with any decorating project, before you go out and make your selections, you need to do some careful planning. Ask yourself these questions:

 ~ What decorations do you already have, and which ones do you want to use again this year? (There is no rule that says you have to bring out every single holiday item you own).

~ Do you want to decorate around a specific theme? Examples would be winter themes, Santa’s toyshop, nature themes, or gingerbread houses.

~ What color palette do you want to use this year? Do you want to stay with the traditional red, green, gold and white? Or maybe pair your favorite color with gold or silver for a trendy metallic look. For contemporary designs, combine jewel tones, such as turquoise, purple, magenta and apple green. Red, white and blue can make a big statement, too.

So now that you’ve made your overall design decisions, you are ready to shop. You need to prioritize your budget so that you spend most of your money on basic accessories like holiday linens, table runners, and throw pillows, and spend less on novelty items such as your fireplace mantle or a new centerpiece for your table.

 Don’t feel like you have to fill up every nook and cranny. Decorating with elegance means less is always more, even during the holidays.

From my house to yours, have a colorful holiday season!

Leslie Sarmiento, author, speaker, interior decorator

Website: www.LeslieSarmiento.com

Homemade Holiday Gifts

Homemade gifts are gifts from the heart.  We all have ornaments on our tree made by our children when they or we were young.  We have cherished small table top decorations in the same way.  Some ideas for homemade holiday gifts:

Create a family cookbook.  You can print it or give it on a flash drive to family members.  Our family created a family cookbook last year to share within our family and with family friends.  We use it constantly during the year to find frequently made foods.  

There are also many online scrapbooks to create with family photos as well.  Check out  http://www.smilebox.com/scrapbooks.html.  Family photos can be shared and cherished in a new way this way.

Bake your favorite recipe and share it with friends.  Our family has an irresistable toffee recipe that I am baking this year!  A traditional favorite is fudge too! http://www.christmas-cookies.com/recipes/recipe191.fantasy-fudge.html

Every family cherishes ornaments for their tree.  Familyfun.com has lots to choose from! http://familyfun.go.com/christmas/christmas-decorations/christmas-ornaments/

Assemble a homemade gift basket with a theme.  Hot cocoa, a mug, and a sweet saying can be gifted together.

Gift a gift in a jar.  http://www.allfreecrafts.com/giftinajar/index.shtml

Homemade holiday gifts are a treasure!

Your Calendar and You! Making a Match!

Helping decipher the calendar code is what I do with my clients.  There is no perfect planner, but there is a planner that will make your life, your work and everything come together. 

A work at home mom and photographer who is also a very busy volunteer prefers google calendar.  She loves that it synchronizes with her phone so she only has one item to carry in her purse.  It is also compact, so no bulky planner to carry.  Her husband can enter dates and see all the family activities.  She adds dates consistently and loves that it is always updated.

A working single woman uses ical to track her work week.  She uses the week at a glance feature and color codes her appointments, her testing dates, and her administrative time.  The color coding reinforces what tasks she has to accomplish.  She add recurring dates and uses this feature to keep her on top of routines.

A part time working, part time stay at home mom with an additional small side business loves the planner pad.  This planner is only available online at www.plannerpads.com.  She loves the columns at the top of the week at a glance section to add tasks in categories, loves the month at a glance page to get an overview of the upcoming events, and loves that it comes in a notebook format.  She adds additional pages at the back to record information she uses regularly in her additional business. 

A busy entrepreneur loves his Outlook calendar.  He writes notes on index cards every day and enters into his calendar each evening.  What is especially helpful is adding reminders 15 minutes before each action item and dates.  He never misses an appointment or is late!

A blended family with 6 kids come together weekly and fill in their month at a glanc calendar that hangs in their kitchen.  Everyone talks about the weekly activities, while one of the kids fills in the dates on the calendar. Each family member knows that is going on that week.  Kids and parents refer to the calendar throughout the week to keep on top of pick ups, drop offs, and tasks. 

Call me old fashioned, but for my work I love the paper planner with week at a glance.  It really works for me as a visual tool, easy to access and great for planning.  I work with a week at a glance, have a weekly planning time to update and review what is coming up, and add items all the time. It is my most important tool for my business and my life balance.  I carry it like it is my “blankie” and never let it out of my sight. 

Think about your strengths, your needs and your work flow to make an effective choice!  What calendar system works for you?