Hearts, Flowers and Organizing

Hearts, flowers and organizing

 

We’ve heard so often, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”  You set the scene for romance with jewels and flowers. So what do hearts, flowers and organizing have in common? According to the Five Love Languages and Real Simple, a lot!

What’s love got to do with it?

In the book, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Chapman shares the many ways we share and connect in love relationships.  These include acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, and receiving gifts.  Each of these are ways that we share connection.

 

Give a little gift of your heart

Acts of service is just one of these five. Acts of service are those ways you take on a responsibility for your loved one or perform an act of kindness.  These include vacuuming, doing the dishes, and routines around the house or at work. Now you can see how these two connect every day and especially at Valentine’s Day.

 

Families and homes have many responsibilities.  Set aside a family meeting time to discuss and assign home routines.  Be sure that there is an equitable distribution of work, hopefully assigned by preferences. Everyone hates to do dishes so work as a team to get this complete.  Together every one accomplishes more.

 

Words of love soft and tender

Another one of the love languages, words of affirmation, set the stage for romance. Words of affirmation are compliments, accolades and acknowledgements.

 

Show a little love with words of affirmation and gratitude.  Those who are washing and folding laundry, getting dinner on the table, or completing what is needed to keep you home up and running what to know you appreciate their efforts and that they are not taken for granted.  Knowing you appreciate them and their work keeps them motivated.  Share your gratitude with specific ways they are contributing to the organization, ease and energy of the house.

 

Love will keep us together

Quality time makes a difference. Quality time is spending meaningful time together.

 

Team work can be quality time.  That work together might be time with body doubling, where you are working independently in the same space, or teaming up together on the same project. No one likes to be told what to do and no one wants to work alone.  Make it fun and work together on organizing.

 

This Valentine’s Day, take the 5 love languages quiz and share some intimate organizing details over dinner!

Use Weekly Planning Time to Create a Calm, Organized and Productive Week

 

weekly planning time

 

Organizing your time takes many different steps to get the job done.  Having one great calendar and an effective way to manage your tasks and lists are the first step.  Carving out a Weekly  Planning Time pulls together these great tools.  Stephen Covey and David Allen both incorporate this routine into their strategies, as well as Asian Efficiency and The Productivity Show.  This time helps you create a proactive plan and gets you ahead of the curve.

 

Basics of Weekly Planning Time

  • Weekly planning time is when you pull together your lists, assess upcoming events and add a plan to your calendar.
  • Start by setting an undistracted time for you to “meet” with your planner.  This should be added to your calendar as an appointment!  A good time may be Friday before the end of work, Sunday afternoon as you are getting ready for the week, or any time that really works for you.
  • Gather together your tools of your planner, your lists, any emails or papers with upcoming events, projects you are leading or collaborating, and any other date driven activities. You want to consolidate all this information into your planner and an organized list.
  • First, add all new dates and update any existing dates, then add small reminders, consolidate errands, project out baby steps for a big project, and generally scan for bumps in the road coming up.
  • Next, scan ahead for new projects, events or recurring annual projects for that time period. This includes for work and home. Consider taxes, financial reviews and home maintenance. Make notes of who to meet with for these upcoming tasks and projects.
  • Finally, create a “think big” section of your planning time. What is a major goal you have thought about and would want to take action on?  This is where you have the opportunity to be creative and act on your dreams.  It’s also about being strategic about life goals.  Take this time to spend a few minutes on goals and dreams.
  • If you use a technology planner, no problem! Same strategy with this tool!
  • Make it fun! Grab your favorite beverage, sit in an inspiring spot and enjoy this planning time.

 

Upgrade your Weekly Planning Time

  • Use a planner that adds focus to your time.  I love my paper planner pad! A digital tool to do this work is To Do ist.
  • Set a day of the week for certain activities.  Money Monday and Financial Friday are the days you work on money matters.  By allowing yourself one set day a week for an important task, you give yourself permission to be dedicated to one specific task instead of many difference ones. This strategy works well for people who know that they can do one thing well.
  • Be consistent about your weekly planning time. The more consistent, the more you will notice what’s working and what is not. “Noticing” can lead to enhancements too, such as knowing what works best for you and what are your strengths.
  • Level up with this podcast featuring the weekly review of Getting Things Done (GTD) with David Allen.
  • Take this routine to the next level with a Family Meeting too.  Gather your family on Sunday evening, with all their calendars and your family calendar (paper, Cozi, or google calendar) and set this time for planning purposes.  Not only will you have family communication, collaboration and cohesiveness will be a big bonus.

 

What obstacles might you have incorporating into your week this planning time? Be sure to set this at at time that works well for you.  In order to be consistent, the time that you work on Weekly Planning Time makes the most difference. How do you do know this is working well? Now you feel in control, ahead in your planning and confident in your tasks and projects.

 

More time management tips here!

Organize your Papers with a Command Center

 

 

 

 

 

Scraps of paper everywhere?  Not sure where your bills are? What about your kid’s papers to return to school?  Organize your papers with a command center.

 

This custom creation pulling together several solutions for paper can make finding and accessing your papers super easy.  Bulletin boards, wall calendars and wall pockets may be the perfect spot for you to post your paper and get organized.  Having components that suit your organizing needs and create slots for specific categories of papers make it easy to find things.

 

Here are some ideas to post your paper and organize with a bulletin board, wall calendar and wall pockets.

  • Your bulletin board is a visual reminder of activities coming up.  Its a place to post important papers, schedules, invitations, announcements, and inspirational quotes.  As papers come in, simply pin the most important papers that you won’t want to lose to your board to keep track of them.  If an invitation or announcement arrives, keep it if it has directions, a gift registry, or as a reminder.  Be sure to add this date to your wall calendar as well, since duplication can help too.  Don’t overcrowd  your bulletin board as a clean, neat appearance will serve your purposes better.  Edit what is on  your board regularly to keep up to date.

 

  • Use 2 dry erase month at a glance calendars on your wall.  We always have dates that are more than one month away.  Having 2 calendars means that  you can keep up to date on activities.  Keep a handy container of different colored dry erase markers to use for different activities or family members.

 

  • Wall pockets are a fabulous way to keep up with paper.  Have one container for each family member. Have one container for receipts. Have one container for resources like directories.

 

  • Dry erase board lets you make notes, lists, and check lists.  It is an easy way to create reminders for you and your family.

 

  • A desk top sorter command station is another way to keep all your papers together too.  Use hanging files with tabs on them, labelled with To Do, To Pay, To File, Receipts, and Taxes.  You can add a hanging file for each family member too.  This compact solution keeps your bills and papers together.

 

  • Be sure to color coordinate your space. Having colors that match the walls or simply black or white make for a more serene space.

Check out my pinterest board for lots of ideas.

 

How to Tackle Organizing your Digital Photos

Organizing photos

 

When asked about what we must take with us in an emergency, we all say our photos!  Our photos are our most precious stuff.  We have them on our smart phones, cameras, social media online and in print.  It’s easy to over snap and not come back.  It can be overwhelming after a birthday party or family event to gather them together. Our photos are our way of capturing the magic of the moment.  Organizing your photos means you will truly enjoy them.

 

The best solution for organizing photos follows a routine that works well with your routine.  Allow time once a month or immediately after a family event to work with your photos. We jump back into life and don’t get the opportunity to reflect and enjoy our photos. It helps to set a time to work with these.  Summer can be a great time to reminisce, review and organize your photos.

 

Start with a plan.

How will you group your photos? With paper or digital photos, we can group chronologically, by events like holidays, birthdays or trips, or by family member.  Keep in mind your family will be growing, like adding grandkids and partners.   Write out your plan and then create folders online to capture the photos as you consolidate them. If you are working with paper photos, you can use photo boxes.  Make a plan and test it with sorting.  Remember, you can delete photos as you work to keep only the best photos.

 

Begin consolidating.

Get all your digital photos together in one place. For me that’s on my computer.  I email them to myself from my smart phone, download from Facebook, and move them from my camera with a cord.  There are many services that automate consolidating to get all your phots in one place such as GooglePhotos, Dropbox and AmazonPhotos.  Keeping all your photos in one place makes it easy to know what you have.

 

Always backup your photos.

There are lots of ways to do this.  I use Carbonite to back up all the time. Highest recommendations are for for GooglePhotos, Dropbox, Smugmug and Shutterfly.  Each allows a certain amount of space with additional space for a fee. Scanning is the way to back up your paper photos. There are options for you to scan yourself or services to delegate.

 

Taking the next step is the fun part.

Decide what photos you want to print, create a digital photo album, or create a gift.   I keep framed pictures of grand kids throughout my home. I know the frame sizes so each season I print out an updated photo.

  • If you are just starting a photo grouping in a hallway or on a desk top, choose the frames first, then purchase the pictures.
  • My daughter in law does a birthday book for each child. The book consists of 5- 8 printed pictures from each birthday, placed in sequence in a photo album. The kids love looking through these each year.
  • Other options include digital scrapbooks from Shutterfly and even Walgreens.com.
  • For Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or birthdays, gifts like mouse pad, calendar or mug are wonderful ways to share photos.
  • Remember to give yourself plenty of time to choose the photos you want to share.

 

Keep your most precious items safe with backing up and organizing digital and paper photos.

How to Maximize Summer Organizing

Maximize summer organizing

 

Summer is often when our organizing intentions get momentum. There are fewer school responsibilities and daylight lasts longer.  Those organizing projects have been on our list for a while.  Here’s ways to tackle these projects, even before you start your organizing work.

 

List first

First you want to have a specific list of what you are planning to organize this summer. Capture your list as a dump first with brainstorming. All those ideas need a spot to prioritize. Your list will be the base of your project management.  The best project management assesses how much time, what resources are available, the budget and the team.  Now you are ready to determine what you will tackle.  It may not all get done this summer however you know what’s possible. If you are not sure what you want to organize, here’s ideas.

 

Timeline

Start your list before the end of May.  Your summer may be much busier than you originally had intended. With your list prepared, as well as your vacation schedule, you can realistically get moving on these projects.

 

Strategies

There are several ways to accomplish your summer organizing goals.

Chunking

Do you like to plan specific units to accomplish your goals?

  • You review your prioritized projects and allocate manageable units of time, the budget, or team members you have to work with to your organizing.
  • The value in this method is to know your plan and work steadily to accomplish your goal.

All day project

Do you have a large block of time and know this organizing is a priority for the fall?

  • Allocate a large amount of time to accomplish decluttering and setting up systems. Allocate resources for editing and removing items in order to proceed smoothly.
  • The value in this method is that before school resumes or the fall comes, your organizing will make a major impact on your life.

Team approach

Who can be your helper in organizing?  Create your team before you start on any project. The teams can work together or in a sequence.

  • Your team might be members of your support community or a paid professional.
  • A team can work in segments, either in sequence or simultaneously.

 

If you need Plan B, C or D

If your summer is business than you originally thought, or your budget is less than required, or you have no team to help you, there’s options!

  • Be sure you have trash and recycling out of the way.  That’s often clogging up your system.
  • Prioritize the one most important organizing task and accomplish that. A single success builds you up!
  • Host a one hour organizing party where your team either does the 27 fling boogie (edits 27 things, places in a bag, and places in a car.
  • Keep it real with a 15 minute Reset (where for 4 time slots your team moves items back to the spaces where they are stored.)
  • If your team doesn’t exist, pick up a new team with high school or college age kids who want to earn money this summer.

No matter your list or strategy, you will be thrilled you allocated energy and time to organizing this summer!

I am a Certified Professional Organizer

Certified Professional Organizer

 

Are credentials important to you?  My “initials” in instagram represent a credential that’s valued beyond measure to me.  My industry offers a gold standard for working with clients.  It’s called Certified Professional Organizer®, which I have been since the program began in 2007.  I am so proud of my CPO that I always share this credential in articles, speaking and blogging.

 

Credentials are earned by passing a test to show a base line level of knowledge.   The test includes questions about my job, called a job task analysis, to be sure what is being tested applies to the work I do. To sit for the test, there are a required number of hours with clients.

 

What is required for certification?

You might say it’s surprising that there is a certification for this work.  Most clients inquire about how long I have been in business rather than the education or testing done.  Certification includes earning over 1250 hours in working with clients and passing a test over a body of knowledge for working in this field.  This credential is offered by the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers®.  There are a little over 350 CPOs globally. It’s an elite group!

 

Here’s more facts about my certification.

It’s more than passing a test! It’s about maintaining your education  with continuing education.

  • Every three years I recertify by earning 45 or more continuing education units.  I just recertified with 127 CEUs. I take classes to make a difference with you as my client and stay on top of industry and professional trends. We recertify every three years.  This is the year of my recertification.
  • I am bound by an enforceable Code of Ethics.
  • Certificates are not the same as certification. I also hold certificates of study in ADHD and chronic disorganization, as well as specialist certificates in life transitions and workplace productivity.
  • The CPO is the only certification endorsed by the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO).

 

Why certification matters

Certified Professional Organizers are committed to experience, education and ethics.  That’s who I want to work with when I am choosing a professional too!

 

 

Your Command Center for Papers

 

Your command center

 

desk top sorter acrylic desk top sorter

 

 

In our busy lives, information and paper come at us from all directions all the time! Where does all this come from? It comes in with the mail, from school or work, or in your purse! These items require immediate action, with dates and times to enter on our calendar, bills to pay, or addresses or service providers we may need later. The Command Center is a space for information and paper that needs easy access and quick retrieval.  Keep organized with a command center for paper.

Command Center location

Our first decision is where best to create the space for this work zone. Where do you see these papers? In most homes, it is the kitchen since it is the hub of your home.  In the office it is on your desk or on your credenza.  However, if your home office is on the first floor and in a central part of your home, this is a great space to establish this area. Your command center for paper must be located where it’s most valuable.

Setting up your Command Center

Begin by reviewing the current clutter that’s on your desk or counter. Start by deciding what to keep and what to toss. Be decisive! This ensures keeping only what you need.

Continue by sorting your papers into the categories that work for you. Most people need these categories: to do, to pay, to scan, pending, and to file. Other categories include the names of each of your children and partner, weekly activities, other school and organizations’ papers.  At work these categories include your assistant, your boss, hot projects and resources.

 

Choosing your container

Now that you have categories, decide what organizing product might assist you best in keeping these papers in order. Look around the space, measure the area for size, and think about your personal organizing style. Look for a desktop file suited to the décor of the space with hanging files to label with each category. You can also use wall pockets, one for each category, if you have h ave vertical space.  Be sure to choose a product you love and this will help you stay organized.

A calendar and bulletin board are a vital tools in this area too!  Add a month at a glance calendar where everyone can record their activities.  Placing it where all the family or your work colleagues can see it helps everyone stay on top of weekly plans.

 

Command Center routines

Designate an administrative time for you to work  on the command center. This routine usually takes just one hour a week, especially if you choose a time you are high energy to get the job done. Write your administrative time in your personal calendar to commit to the time and make yourself accountable to get the job done.

 

 

Creating a family Command Center and a work Command Center makes the difference in keeping information accessible and easy to locate. Find the right space, the right categories, the right products and the right time to make this work for you. You benefit by having balance and peace of mind!

 

 

Want more ideas on a command center for papers?  Visit my pinterest board Command Centers for Communication and Cohesiveness.

 

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ADHD and Tracking Tasks

 

ADHD and tasks

Is your mind is swirling with ideas? Are there so many projects you would like to do, but they are all running together? Perhaps there are also lots of small but very important unrelated tasks, which never seem to be at the top of your list. You’re not sure what to do or where to keep your tasks and ideas.  You need a task list or tracking tool to capture this.

According to ADDitude Magazine, “personal productivity is not a matter of coming up with ideas for what to do. The problem lies with poor sense of time and inability to gauge how long it will take to complete a given task. Then there’s trouble with setting priorities, and tendency to get distracted and forget what we were trying to do.”  If you are ADHD and struggle with getting tasks done, you may need some strategies that help you prioritize and focus. Here is a list of some ideas that can help you get more done in your week.

 

Capture your tasks and ideas

  • Be sure to list all your tasks in one place. This can be on paper or in technology.  The list starts with just a brain dump, getting everything out of your head.  This step makes the biggest difference in clarity!
  • Paper options are a post it notes, simple notebook or TUL notebook.  Date the top of each page as a reference for yourself later.
  • There’s tech tools too! Favorites include Evernote and Trello. Not only can you capture your ideas and tasks, you can track your progress with each.
  • Choose just 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) for you complete.  Prioritizing these 3 MITs can be difficult. However, any 3 completed are 3 less tasks to do.

Tips and tasks

  • Set a timer to get started on your tasks.  Initiation, that is just getting started, can be your biggest challenge.
  • Give yourself ample time to complete a task. If you think it will take 10 minutes, give yourself 30 minutes. It may take up to 3 times longer for completion.  Give yourself some “warm up” time too.  That is about 10 minutes to get oriented. Prioritize and get into the mindset of the work at hand.
  • Find someone to assist  you with verbal processing.  Verbal processing is talking the ideas that are swirling in your head.  “Talking”  through the work is a processing tools for you. It helps you be aware of what is most important and cull out the first action step.
  • Get started with a body double. Ths is a person who is with you, virtually or in person, to just be in the moment with you. The person is just there, not giving you advice or being an expert, just in the space with you.

Set a great foundation

  • Know how important self care is and practice it. We all work much better with a good night’s sleep and good lean protein in our diet. Be sure you are at your best to get your best work done.
  • Track your tasks either each evening before you head out, each morning before you start off and weekly with a weekly planning time.

What’s most important is to choose a tool that will work for you!  If it’s paper or digital, choose what’s easier to use reguarly.

 

Need more task tips?  Join my newsletter here.

When Life Throws You a Curve Ball (Decluttering After A Flood)

#KingwoodStrong

 

When life throws you a curve ball, you learn to organize the balls!  When you are going through a crisis, such as our recent flood, your resilience comes into play. There may be a continuum of coping mechanisms. Your response to the situation can be a range of emotions.  Here’s a bit of what you might be feeling, doing and experiencing when decluttering after an unexpected situation such as recent flooding.   This is a continuation of life in Kingwood after the 2017 flood, better known as #KingwoodStrong.

Going through the initial decluttering experience

When you’re going through a flood, there were most likely people helping you.  People showed up to support and encourage you. However, you’re in such a state of shock and so overwhelmed you may not be aware of what is being let go of.  The goal seems to be to just get rid of things.  There’s a lot of damage to your stuff and your property and you are not sure of what to let go of. Those around you may be more sure in their minds.

 

Sorting and triaging

In this next phase, you’re trying to triage what’s left. You remember you had some things, however you question if these items are still here.  At this point you are assessing what do you have. Your emotions center on a combination of loss and gratitude.  It’s time to organize what you have.  You keep hold of what you have, knowing it’s all you have.

 

Assessing

In this step,  you are wondering about what to keep now that you have less.  Why do I have any keep things even if they’re damaged or broken or stains? Perhaps you think,  “at least I have this.”  You may be packing up your home for repairs and think I still have a lot or I don’t have much.  It’s when real perspective change happens.

 

Final steps

The final steps may occur when your home is complete or you have decided to move to a new home.  The final steps start when you are making plans for your new home.  The refreshing change you make is that you are now looking ahead. It’s time to assess what will be in your new space.  You take a deep breath and are ready to make important decision.  You realize that you can start to let things go again that don’t have a space, don’t serve you well or you are ready for someone else to benefit from the items.

 

Living in a flooded community, if you did not flood

I must add a short passage for those who did not flood and supported others.  Your compassion and empathy make a difference for those who flood. As you support others in this experience, you are learning and assessing as well.  While you did not experience loss, you may feel that now is the best time to declutter given it could have been you.  Seize the opportunity while you are motivated to declutter and donate.

 

It’s a multiple step process in decluttering and organizing after an unexpected situation, such as a flood.  You will learn so much about yourself, your partners, your family and your community.  Stay strong, stay connected and seek support as needed.  In my work with clients throughout the flood saga, our main focus is support.  There’s much work to be done after 6 months post flood.  #KingwoodStrong

 

Want to be prepared just in case? Here’s how to create a home inventory for emergency preparedness.

Why is it so hard to let go of stuff?

 

The statistics say it all. Perhaps we have a problem with keeping too much stuff?

  •  In the U.S., 65% of self-storage renters have a garage in their home, 47% have an attic, and 33 percent have a basement. This suggests that Americans have more things than their homes allow them.
  • Over the past 40 years, the self-storage industry has proven to be the one of the sectors with the most rapid growth in the U.S commercial real estate industry.
  • While 92 % of homeowners surveyed described their home as somewhat or very organized, one fourth of them admitted embarrassment with the garage and nearly one third said they keep their garage door shut so others won’t see the mess.
  • The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years.

General reasons

There’s a problem with letting go of our stuff.  In working with my clients, I find that there are typically 6 reasons why it’s hard to let go of stuff.

  • Financial reasons hold people back.  I could be that we purchased an item and we have not used it. Maybe it’s the clothes with tags on them in your closet or the beany babies that could be sold.  If we think it’s valuable, we postpone the decision of decluttering since we are not sure to sell it or give it away.
  • Attachments and sentimental reasons make decisions difficult.  The item represents something special about a person, like your grandmother’s silver tea set.  Will you be a “bad” parent if you throw away some of your child’s artwork?  Are you the “caretaker” of your family legacy by holding onto your mom’s paperweight collection and can’t let it go?  There’s feelings of guilt, shame, and vulnerability that are a part of the sentimental reasons that hold you back.  In addition there’s grief bound up in our attachments. Loss can look like unemployment, divorce, broken relationships.  Grief holds us back in paralyzing our decisions.
  • With brain based conditions, such as ADHD, clutter can be paralyzing.  In the ADHD brain, it’s hard to limit the amount of stuff and all things have possibility. There’s perfectionism and the thought there is the perfect system which eludes you.  Because of working memory challenges, ADHD causes you to keep stuff just to remember about it.  There’s impulsive purchases and difficulty prioritizing. Not only is accumulating clutter a challenge, but also the decisions to let stuff go is hard.
  • We are busy! There’s seldom a time we have free time or will get around to organizing.  It’s a low priority because we want to spend time doing what we love and with people we love. It’s easy to procrastinate about letting go and decluttering because we have so much to do each day.
  • There are skills that we might not know to organize. Perhaps your family was not organized and you lived in much clutter.  Do you wonder what papers to keep and what to let go of? Does everything have a “home”? Are items grouped together that are used together? There are key concepts to being organized.
  • We attach our dreams to our stuff. We think we might have a special tea with our daughter and need those tea cups.  Our family will be eating a special dinner together on each of those sets of dishes.

There’s a shift going on, however.  Essentialism, minimalism, relationships, and experiences are becoming the norm.  Americans are re-prioritizing.  The book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up is a best seller.

  • There’s many ways to recoup some of the money you spent. While you can’t recoup it all,  there are many ways to sell your items. There’s Facebook sales and NextDoor to sell items to your neighbors. There are consignment shops of all types.  In terms of donations, you can make a list and use this for a tax deduction.
  • Is it time to process and find new perspectives about your emotional attachments and how let go of stuff?  Without processing or new awareness about an attachment, we can get stuck.  We can process with a professional organizer, coach, therapist or non-judgemental friend.  How we process can make a difference. We can talk through the challenges, tell the story of the item, and acknowledge. As Brene Brown talks about in Daring Greatly, we can have a small ceremony or share a story about your stuff.
  • Learn more about ADHD and other brain conditions to know what organizing is difficult.  On ADDitudemag.com there are webinars, blogs and articles on decluttering. The book ADD Friendly Ways to Organize offers many ways to learn about ADHD and clutter.  Podcasts such as Taking Control with Niki Kinzer offers support, tools and community for ADHD.
  • We have to set a time to organize and set a time to organize routinely. Organizing moves up in priority this way.  Write in on your calendar or set a digital date to declutter.
  • What’s the best way for you to learn skills? Is it working alongside a professional organizer? Is it reading a book?  Choose what’s best for you to learn and practice.
  • Start a new awareness of why you have what you have.  You might notice how many of an item you have which might lead you to think about what you are purchasing.  Spend time assessing.

 

Think about your home, your energy and your vision of your life. Is it time to assess your stuff?

 

Click here to view the CBS Sunday Morning show, Clean Sweep.

 

More tips and tricks on decluttering here!