COVID-19 Bingo Fun!

We are all taking this COVID-19 health situation seriously with the world wide pandemic.  It’s a scary time for us all. Research shows that laughter is the best medicine when it comes to difficult times. Not only does laughter help, being busy and productive helps too.  When we are productive, we know we are making a difference in our home and work.  With that in mind, download these free Bingo cards.

 

Self Care Bingo

The Self Care Bingo helps us keep perspective on what is most important; that being putting our own oxygen mask on first.  Self care is what makes the difference for immunity too.  According to Good Housekeeping research, following self care strategies improves your overall well being.

 

self care bingo

 

Declutter Bingo

The most common challenge to decluttering and organizing is time. We never have enough time to declutter. Because we think it will take a lot of time, we don’t get started decluttering. Now is the time.  Use this Declutter Bingo card to help you get started on closet, computers and small spaces.

 

declutter bingo

 

 

Enjoy these bingo games to help you feel accomplished and well taken care of during this tough time. These can be printed to use at home and keep you moving forward.

COVID-19 Home Schooling Resources for “Traditional School” Parents

 

 

CoviD-19 Home Schooling resources

 

“Been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.” – Shandra Rhimes

 

School is in session in homes across America. Parents are overwhelmed and underprepared for their new roles.  They are managing their work at home and “teaching” their kiddos.  Here are ideas and resources to help you navigate this new challenge.

 

Establishing routines

In the first few weeks, teachers are setting up virtual classrooms and getting prepared. Right now parents need to establish routines that promote learning.  It’s most important to set up daily routines like bedtimes and getting ready for the day.  Keep to your usual times for both your kiddos and you.  You will be better prepared to manage the ups and downs that come with new challenges.  Your kiddos will be more resilient to this change.

Here are some resources to reinforce your ideas about routines.

Leslie Josel and Order out of Chaos

Ann Dolan and Keeping Your Kids in Study Mode

Corona Schooling

Preparing for Online Learning

 

Learning online

Learning at home is a whole new element to you and your child.  Online learning can be positive because of fewer distractions and easier focus. Kiddos are drawn to computers.

  • Set up an environment for your child to keep focused. Creating multiples spots to sit comfortably with a laptop (not in bed) will make learning happen.
  • Comfortable headphones help with focus. These can be earbuds, airpods, or headphones.
  • Online learning could be consolidated with a single calendar such as Schoology.  Be sure your kiddo is looking at it daily like traditional school to keep up with assignments.

 

Acknowledge your child’s strengths

Parents know their kids strengths and challenges. Teachers often send different choices to do similar concepts. Distinguish what is required and what has options. Offer alternatives to assignments that are real life experiences. Baking with measurement or playing the Game of Life and being the banker are ways to experience math.

 

Along these lines, children with special needs and special education plans may need more diverse learning.  In this interim time with schooling, check in with Additudemag.com, Understood.org and your child’s teacher to learn more ways to teach a skill.

 

Always include downtime

Your new schedule will include recess twice a day. Take advantage of outside time for your kiddo to run and play. As the teacher, take this time for yourself too.

Individual work time can be time to read a book, time to work with crafts or time to work independently on a school related online resource. Independent work sets your child up to know more about their own strengths too.

 

Adjusting your expectations

Take the pressure off yourself as a parent during the COVID-19 outbreak.  You have been your child’s first teacher and continue to be successful doing the work of nurturing, supporting and educating.  You are doing amazing work so keep it up!

 

 

4 Top Trends in Organizing

4 top trends in organizing

 

I’ve been especially intrigued at looking forward at what’s new and different for organizing. Trends, what’s popular and what’s hip, show us the direction that our industry is heading. In the past there has been lots of interest in hoarding and clearing out stuff.  There’s more substance to organizing now.  New tv shows are sharing forward thinking trends in the organizing industry. Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo created buzz internationally.  Here’s a few other trends that are trickling out into our world.

Organizing with Style

It’s what I call “the pinterest factor.”  Organizing is not just about decluttering and categorizing. It’s more about the style of your home and office too.  We have take organizing up a level to include a highly visible part of home design and function.  That includes home design options with color and labelling. The style factor includes cute color or clear containers, chalk or faux chalk labels, and adding storage in innovative spaces.  A file cabinet can be a repurposed ottoman or a series of matching notebooks.  Style is a factor.

 

Small spaces, Multi purpose spaces and Multi-generational homes

Return on investment on space is a top priority.  Dwellings are being evaluated for size, spacial options and use.  Small spaces are inviting for cost and require a special approach to maximizing the space.  At the same time, multi purpose spaces where people live and work at home give us flexibility and options. Multi purpose spaces maximize use of your home.  With baby boomers caring for aging parents and new tots, many more families are living in multi-generational homes.  Looking at the maximum flexibility of our homes and the connectedness of family, this trend is on the upswing.  With more people in a home, there is a strong need for organization, easy access storage and lower clutter.

 

Artificial intelligence

We all have Siri, Alexa and other “organizing friends” who help us with timers, checklists, and more. The Smart Home is here to stay with lights, door cameras, and climate control in our homes.  There is a long list of ways to use AI for productivity. Our digital native kiddos have their organizing friends wake them, tell bedtime stories and offer meditation.

Eco-Friendly Organizing

With more emphasis on ecofriendly products, organizing with shabby chic, re-usable products and re-purposing makes sense.  Setting up a recycling center helps you stay on top of this trend. These stations are easy to access and drop in items, as well as take to the curb weekly.  Donating helps you be a part of this trend, as opposed to trashing items and adding to a landfill.  Regular donating is part of the big picture of organizing.

 

Organizing trends are turning us toward more practical, functional and inexpensive spaces.  It all comes down to using our space wisely and productively. There’s no longer only a spring cleaning time and now organizing is all the time! Organizing has become more a part of our daily consiousness.  Start now with one of these trends to empower and motivate you.

 

 

 

A Peek Inside the Homes of Professional Organizers

Sneak peek into professional organizers’ homes

As NAPO National President, I have had the pleasure of visiting chapters throughout the country. On my visits, it’s a treat to stay with a friend who is in the area.  It’s fabulous to see the ways my colleagues organize their homes.  Truly it’s fun to see innovation, favorite products, and routines that serve us well.

 

Innovation

My colleagues find innovative ways to use their spaces. In big cities where space is small, they use lots of creative storage to keep organized.

  • Their closets include shelving installations that maximize the space.  By using vertical space, these professional organizers are taking advantage of what’s available.
  • Back of door organizers are also frequent storage additions.  It’s either a metal rack or a shoe organizer. As in all busy homes, what’s stored there is what is used most frequently as you head out the door.
  • Need storage in a certain spot?  Command hooks to the rescue!  Hooks can be used for inside closets, over sinks and any spot you need to access something.
  • Furniture serves double purposes.  It often is retrofitted for file storage, exercise equipment storage or multiple uses.

 

Favorite products

By far the most frequently used product is a shoe box size plastic bin.  Professional organizers use these for all sorts of categorizing, whether in a closet to keep mittens and scarves together to keeping pet leashes and pet accessories together.  In pantries shoe box size plastic bins hold floppy foods and spices, such as pastas or spice mixes.

 

For the kitchen, another favorite product is the lazy susan.  This small spinner keeps easy access in kitchens for spices and a large spinner keeps access to condiments.   It’s used in pantries, cabinets and in the refrigerator.

 

Professional organizers love their closets!  Shoe organizers and shoe boxes hold less frequently worn shoes. Slim line hangers have neatly arranged items by color.

 

Command hooks rule! If there is a spot where access would help, add a command hook there to keep an item where you can find it.  In the kitchen it might be a potholder by the stove. In the entry closet it might be a purse near the door.

 

Routines

Professional organizers practice what they preach with routines. They have a donate bag in their closets to give away clothes routinely.  They have pared down their linens to just one or two sets so there is little to store.  My colleagues have just enough stock in their pantries for a week or so, and not too much.  It’s because they shop routinely weekly and use fresh produce.  Laundry baskets are there to keep a routine for washing and folding.

 

My colleagues use both paper and digital planners.  Tasks have dates and deadlines. It’s a pleasure to visit our national chapters because our members have made all the arrangements for this project.  Their tasks lists include paper lists, trello and asana.  Everyone knows where to be, how to be prepared and how to finish up after a project.  (Yes, they are all so very organized!)

 

Thank you dear friends for sharing your homes with me! It’s delightful to visit organized and welcoming homes!

Hugs and Happy Organizing: Whole House Organizing

organize your house

 

Whole house organizing is a big project!  We all want to have a place for everything and everything in it’s place. It’s essential for us to work  in baby steps to accomplish this goal.  Many times at the outset of our work together my clients ask how long it will take.  Remember that we are not only changing what your home looks like and how it works. We are also changing your (and those who live with you) habits.  It’s truly a case where every situation is different.

 

My client and I worked together weekly or every other week to create order in her kitchen, office, son’s room, master bedroom, master closet and master bath.   In these photos you can see the significant transformation that occurred each time we met.

 

home organizing before and after

 

To date, she and her family love the outcome! They have stayed organized because we worked together on her spaces to create systems and routines that work for them.

 

Her comment on her work is this, “best money and time I ever spent!”

 

5 Ways to Make Mother’s Day Extra Special (and last beyond that one day)

Mother's Day. Extra Special Experiences

 

Mother’s Day is here and you may have already purchased your mom the best gift ever! Or you may have plans with her to make her breakfast in bed and bring her flowers.  Celebrating Mom should likely last more than a day.  There’s ways that you and your mom can create lasting memories together.  Here’s ways to show you care that make for special times together. The best part is that Mother’s Day lasts throughout the year with these ideas.

 

Create a Mother-Child Bucket list together

You and your mom can noodle about and decide on an activities list.  The list can include going on a road trip together, cooking a family recipe, or learning a new hobby.  Add dates to when you want to plan your activities to be sure you get these checked off.

 

Volunteer for a cause together

Your mom and you both have generous spirits and are passionate about making a difference. Choose a way to give back together that makes a difference locally or globally.  It can be one big volunteer experience or a routine activity.

 

Read the same book at the same time

Want to be in the best book club?  Join a book club together or create one of your own.  It’s twice as fun to read and review together.  You can also listen to the book on Audible.

 

Meet for lunch monthly

A gift of time can be the best gift.  Set a time each month to meet for lunch without any distractions or additional guests.  Alone time with Mom is precious.

 

Organize photos together

Mom has buckets, drawers and boxes of photos. She may be overwhelmed by them all. It’s more fun to organize together!  Gather up supplies for paper photos and grab your devices for digital photos. Guaranteed you will not only have fun, you will learn a lot about family memories!

 

Create a memory for Mom

There are many of us without a mom.  Even without Mom here, we can create a memory about her. For our family, that memory often includes eating a special food Mom loved or lighting a candle in her memory.   Choose a way to honor your family members who have passed. It’s a memory you create for all of your family.

 

More ways to celebrate Mom and share the love here!

Spring Organizing Technology Edition

spring organizing technology

 

Technology tools are an big asset for our day to day living. At the same time these have overtaken our lives. We have devices of all sorts, ranging from cellphones, to smart home lightbulbs, to voice activated assistants.  Our tech needs a little spring cleaning and organizing too!

 

Inventory and edit

Where the heck is the tech in your home? Go through your home and office and find what you have and where it is.  Make a list of what you use and what is required of each.  Label cords with the tech device name and use.  Now you know what’s an older version or a duplicate. Many of us have quickly accumulated older devices as new items come on the market within a three year time frame now. If you have multiple devices that perform the same solutions, think about sending the item on it’s way to someone who can use it.

 

Plan for recycling

There’s electronic recycling all around us.  It’s the right thing to do for our environment. Be sure to clear your device of all your personal information by using the general settings.   For older equipment,  write the date on your calendar of local recycling. If your device is new, you can sell it and make back some of your investment.  Cell phones can be donated to a charity of choice. CellPhones for Soldiers, or local community domestic violence shelters.

 

Choose central storage

Now that you know what you have and what’s left, it’s time to plan for storage.  Choose a central storage spot in your home for technology. Ziplock together the device and cord to store for future use.  Organize the devices by use, such as listening devices like airpods and ear buds or reading devices like nook and kindle.  A drawer in an office, the bottom drawer of your nightstand or a basket in your office cabinet are common storage spaces.

 

Set up a common charging spot

Most important is to set up a common charging spot in your home going forward.  This spot is where all devices are charged overnight for a great night’s rest.  Research proves repeatedly that keeping electronics away from your bedroom improves your rest.  Your family will benefit too. There’s no longer the chaos of lost or borrowed cords for last minute charging or where to find your device on the way out the door.

 

If you are adding a new device this spring, be proactive and get organized with your devices.  It’s one small way to be more organized this year!

 

19 Ways to be More Organized in 15 minutes

19  ways to be more organized  in 15 minutes or less

 

Busy schedules required small time increments to make a difference in your life.  We just don’t have a lot of time to get organized because of all we do each day.  Here’s some baby step, 15 minutes steps you can take to have a more organized home, work and life.

Start with yourself and getting your stuff together.

  1. Gather your favorite clothes and hang them at the front of your closet.
  2. Use ziploks or small zipper bags to gather like items together in your purse or man bag.
  3. Group your exercise clothes together and place one set in a gym bag in  your car.
  4. Use an online app to purchase your groceries. Set up a reminder to do this every Saturday morning for delivery later that afternoon.
  5. Purchase online a small alarm clock for your bedroom to get a great night’s rest.

 

Move on to your family and home.

6. Place a donation bag for easy access to drop items in as they are ready to go to Goodwill.

7. Every time you go into a drawer in your kitchen, assess what’s not used and add it to the donation bag.

8. Grab a pile of paper and recycle or shred for 15 minutes.

9. Head to your bookshelf and add books to your donation bag you have not read or will not read again.

10. Walk around your home and gather school and office supplies together to know what you have.

 

Add in tech organizing

11. Spend 15 minutes in your email folders organizing by category. Think big and think about the ways to group your email rather than by alphabetical single folders. Organize only what you need rather than every email.

12. Delete photos you don’t need from your phone. Move photos to a consolidated cloud based access tool.

13. In email detach documents and save these in your documents folder. Rename these with an easy, consistent naming process.

14. In 15 minute slots, delete what you don’t need from email. Rearrange by subject and sender to make it easier to decide what to delete.

 

Finish up with routines

15. Take 15 minutes each evening to “reset” and get life back together.

16. Take 15 minutes each evening to prep for tomorrow with your clothes, nutrition and stuff.

17. On Sunday evening, add a weekly 15 minutes to review your calendar for the next week ahead.

18. Write up a weekly meal plan for you and your family. Post it or capture it digitally to repeat in 3 weeks.

19. Spend 15 minutes sitting, relaxing, rejuvenating, reading a magazine or taking time to reflect on all you are grateful for each day.

 

Congrats! You have made organizing simple, fast and easy! You are more organized in 15 minutes. Now repeat again next week, and again the following week.

How to set up an Organized home: Your Tech Spots

technology in your home

An organized home has 4 important components for living an easy, organized life.  These areas are zones that help you accomplish the basics: being on time, feeling in control by knowing where things are and working together as a family team. These components will make life better! The second step is having your technology organized.

 

Technology can rule and ruin the day in your home.  There’s so many devices, so much connectivity and so much that needs organizing.  Get your tech organized with a plan.

 

Common charging spot

Common charging spots make life better.  A good night’s sleep comes from no blue light before bed or distractions during the night.  Create a common charging spot for all of your family.  That’s where you and your family all plug in at night, overnight, to be sure that every sleeps undisturbed. All your devices are ready to go and in one place to take off for the day. Use alarm clocks for wake up for all of you.  It’s an inexpensive option as a replacement for your phone.

 

Labeling

Our devices have lots of pieces, cords and accessories.  Break out your labelmaker to know what cords are needed for what devices.  Have sufficient cords for yourself and your family. If you are a frequent traveller, have a duplicate set of cords to travel with in a small zipper case or grid it case.

 

Smart home stuff

Thank you to our friends Alexa and Siri for helping us each day! Smart home features are on our devices to make life easier. There are small ways to get started and most sites state that the most bang for your buck decision is your therostat.  Choose a strong password for your smart home stuff to avoid being hacked.

 

With your Amazon or Google assistant, place this in a well supervised area of your home. Just like any other device connected to the internet, there’s possibilities for your kiddos you may or may not have imagined.

 

Tech during homework or work time

All of us get easily distracted on devices.  There’s ways to help you stay focused with apps.  If you want to track your use, check out RescueTime. If you want to block segments of the internet, use StayFocd.  Keeping on task means staying organized and productive.

 

Tech graveyard

There comes a time when your tech dies. It’s reaching epic proportions in homes with computers, laptops and devices.  There’s ways to sell and recycle tech without much work. Sites like Gazelle and Decluttr to buy back your tech. There’s kiosks in your mall or your cellphone provider will buy back new-ish devices.  Don’t create a tech graveyard and take action when you get a new piece of equipment.

 

What’s best about your organized tech spots? It is using your tech for what’s best in your life!

 

How to set up an Organized Home: Your Landing Strip

how to set up an organized home

 

An organized home has 4 important components for living an easy, organized life.  These areas are zones that help you accomplish the basics: being on time, feeling in control by knowing where things are and working together as a family team. These components will make life better! The first step is having an organized landing strip where you leave and arrive home.

 

Coming and going, if it’s only you or you and your family, happens every day all day.  Why not make it easy to get in your home and get out?  Take the stress out of daily life by organizing this area that can be congested and chaotic.  Here’s the parts you need for an organized landing strip.

  • Set up by the entry
  • Drop spot for backpacks
  • Key holder
  • Shoe organizer
  • Hooks for your and your kids bags

 

Set up your landing strip by the location you come and go most frequently. It’s can be the hallway right inside the garage door, by the front door or by an area adjacent to your entry.  This follows the concept of placing items at point of use.

 

Drop spot for bags and backpacks

Life includes bags of all types. Your kids have school backpacks and bags for sports, dance or other activities. Hooks or slots fo all these bags give each of these an organized, specific spot for each.  Keeping these off the floor creates better traffic flow.  This is also the spot for your purse or manbag.  That way you always know where it is and where your credit cards and wallet are.

 

Key holder

A key holder is a happy place to keep your keys.  There’s nothing more frustrating and emotional than losing the expensive keys to your vehicle. A key holder is the organized spot for these.  What’s even more fun is choosing a key holder you love that makes you smile as you see it.  Here’s what else is on this organizer: neighbor’s keys and mailbox keys. Place this key holder near the door again for best access.

 

Shoe organizer

Many of us come into our home and remove our shoes. Our shoes carry lots of dirt and bacteria so it’s what we want to do to keep our homes clean.  A shoe drop area is perfect to keep your shoes organized.  It’s especially important for families for shoe organization.  The shoe drop area can be a basket, vertical grid with openings, a drawer or any product.  Your shoe organizer can be just organized enough or highly organized.  Shoe organizing requires maintenance too!  Once a month review what’s here and what needs to make it back to the closet.

shoe organizer grid

 

Hooks

Because the landing strip is often in a hallway, decorative hooks make organizing happen.  The hooks should be sturdy enough to hold the weight of the bags or your purse.

 

Pull your landing strip together with color and design.  Choose coordinating items that work together for an attractive combination.

Help the kids get ready for school with a bag packing and unpacking station.

Photo courtesy of IKEA

 

More ideas on landing strips and home organizing here on my blog!