Sunday, October 21, 2012

Do you have trouble making healthy habits stick?

We all have something that we would like to do better or more regularly.  Sometimes it is a simple as being able to walk out the door easily in the morning and be on time for work, for others they want to create healthy habits such as exercising, taking vitamins regularly or drinking plenty of water.  Our habits are also linked to our goals and the things that we want to accomplish.  Positive habits help us continually move closer to the things that we want.  What habits would you like to start or modify?

What do you want to change?  Once you have identified the behavior that you want to change or begin take a look at the things that you are already doing.  Is there a habit that you already have that you can pair with the new habit?  For example, if you want to remember to take vitamins every evening or morning, add them to a routine that you are currently doing such as brushing your teeth.

What isn’t working?  Have you tried to begin a habit and failed to make it stick?  Most of us have at one time or another.  Habits are hard to start and even harder to quit if it is a bad habit.  Take a look at what did not work.  Do you simply forget to do the task?  Did you not have what you needed or did you simply not want to do it?  Is the task not convenient?  Habits are much easier to maintain when they are simple and easy to do.  Create routines around your preferences rather than someone else’s recommendation.   

How can you change the current behavior to make it work for you?  Take a look at the time, location and your energy level.  Are you trying to make a morning habit that takes too long before work or you simply aren’t a morning person?  Try different times of day or week and see if the timing makes a difference.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again.  Just because the first few attempts did not work out does not mean that you should give up.  If the habit or task is worthwhile, then it is worth continuing.  You may need to modify your goal or give yourself permission to be less than perfect.

Bring in a professional.  Sometimes the most efficient solution is to bring in outside help.  A professional organizer can see the problems from many different angles at once without the emotional filter that you have.  They can also ask you questions that you most likely have not thought of yet and help you set up a system that will work for you and your habits rather than against them.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Is your closet a black hole?

Closets are a funny entity in our houses.  Even if the entire house is perfectly clean there is probably a closet that is stuffed to the gills in there somewhere.  The closet door allows us to shove things in and forget about them.  Clothes closets seem to be especially difficult because there are things from different seasons and different events.  We become attached tour clothes because they remind us of a particular time in our life or size.  They become a part of our identity and almost identify who we are.  But when the closet is overflowing it becomes a source of anxiety and dread.  Nothing else can go it, you can’t find anything.  All of the clothes that you haven’t worn or can’t wear taunt you each time you open the door.  So what are you to do?

Take stock of your closet!  Ask yourself, “What really belongs here?”  Is it a clothes closet, pantry, cleaning closet or something altogether different?  Often when I work with a client on their closet the first thing that I notice is that there are many things that don’t belong in a particular closet.  At some point they did not want to make a decision about something so they just tossed the item in to get it out of the way.  Determine what purpose the closet has much the same way you would for any space.

How much Real Estate do you want your clothes to take up? Or any item that is in the closet.  Many years ago, I moved in with my grandmother who was in her 80s.  I took over the basement as an apartment and as you can imagine there were no closets.  I purchased a couple of free standing clothes racks to use.  As I headed out to buy them my grandmother asked me why I would needed 2 of them.  I laughed to myself and thought, “wow this is from the woman who has every closet in the house filled to the gills with clothes?”  I couldn’t have used any of them if I wanted to.  Clothes have a way of multiplying.  We like to buy them every season but rarely discard as much.  After over 40 years in the house my grandmother had amassed a ton of clothes.  When she passed away, my best friend and I took 18 bags of clothing and handbags to Goodwill and several bags of shoes to Soles for Souls, not to mention the untold bags of clothes I got rid of while she was still alive.  So how much do you want to use for clothes?

De-Clutter anything that is the wrong size, style, worn out or torn.  Begin clearing out the closet by getting rid of the obvious.  If you are never going to wear it again for any reason, get it out of there and donate or trash them.  If you are having a difficult time letting go, ask yourself why.  Did it belong to someone else or remind you of a time or place?  Is there a better way to remember person or event besides an item that clogs your closet?  If you still want to keep the item, consider placing it somewhere else like a memory box and make sure that it won’t get ruined over time.

Organize by the way you think about getting ready.  As you put everything back prioritize the space according to how you will use your clothing and how you get ready in the morning.  For example, I am a jeans girl.  You will rarely see me in anything else.  I like to put jeans in a lower drawer because there is no decision making for me there.  I just grab and go.  I put shirts higher because I like to look through them a bit to decide what I want to wear.  The more that you use something the easier it should be to reach.

Monday, August 13, 2012

What do you use to organize? Here are a few of my favorite gadgets.

I am often asked about my favorite products for organizing.  Here are a few that I use with clients regularly and really love.

Handled baskets from the Container Store.  The handle makes it much easier to grab items off shelves for just about everybody.  I like them for spices, medications or any group of small item that would be impossible to keep organized if it was all by itself on a high shelf. 
Clear bins  from the Container Store.  These bins are more square than most so they fill the space better with less wasted room.  I like clear so that you can see what you have as well as being easy to get more as you need them.  Fashion colors are fun but it is almost impossible to get more when you need them.
Label maker.  I prefer the brother P-touch series for labelers.  They are an easy labeler for just about anyone to use and they take TZ style tapes which are easy to find and come in a 3 pack for less than $30 at Sam's.
Freedom Filer is an excellent system for home filing.  It creates a customized system that tells you when to throw papers out.  Most people are hesitant to toss paper since they feel they may need it someday.  Freedom Filer gives you the confidence to toss.  You can purchase Freedom Filer HERE or contact me for a copy.
ShelfGenie GlideOut shelves are an excellent way to maximize usable space in existing kitchen cabinets as well as help folk get to items that may be out of reach or difficult to access.  It is a fact of life, it is difficult to access there is much less chance that an item will ever be used or kept neatly.

Monday, July 30, 2012

De-Clutter your Mailbox

Incoming mail, email and phone calls that are unwanted create physical and mental clutter that most of us would rather skip.  With a little bit of time and effort you can drastically reduce the influx by opting out of many mailing and calling lists.  The government has helped us by creating laws that prevent these invasions but we have to do our part to add our names to the opt-out lists.  Below you will find physical and web addresses to remove your name from these lists.  These will keep you from being added to new lists.  If you have ordered something or done business with a company, you will have to contact them directly to remove your name from their list.


Main Opt-Out lists                     Direct Mail Association and other national opt-out lists.      

          Internet option is quick and free.


You can mail your request directly to Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512 along with a check for $1.                      Do Not Mail Registry



National Do Not Call Registry

   or 1-888-382-1222


When you do receive a telemarketing call, remember to let them know you would like to be removed from their calling list.          Opt-out of prescreened credit offers with all three credit bureaus.

    or call (888) 5OPTOUT or (888-567-8688)


Catalog Choice                      This website helps to stop unwanted catalogs.




Web Resources for more Information


            There are many resources for finding ways to reduce junk mail and tele-marketing calls.  Here are a few that are very complete with links and directions for removing your name from various lists.


Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

            Fact Sheet 4: Junk Mail: How Did They All Get My Address?


            Stop the Junk Mail Monster!

            How do I remove my name from junk mail and telemarketer lists?

Cox Target Media
            Removes your address from the Valpak mailing list

41 Pounds
            41 Pounds is a paid service that removes your name from 20-30 direct mail companies for everyone in your household for 5 years for $41.

            Costs $9.95 a year but they handle credit card offers, magazines, catalogs, coupons and they actually contact and then follow up with all these companies. 

Additional Hints

·         Opt-out of as many list as you can.
·         Keep the mailing labels from mail that you do not want to receive as mail arrives.
·         Follow up with the items you do not want by calling or writing to request your name removed from their list.
·         Make sure that when you sign-up for something or make a purchase that you state your wishes regarding mailings.  Often the default is to include you on the mailing list.  You have the right to Opt-out.
·         It will take a few months for your name to begin to be removed but you will begin to see less and less mail over time.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Are you stressed out by clutter?

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like it screamed at you?  Did it feel like every item was trying to get your attention, telling you that something needed to be done with it?

Clutter often is an accumulation of decisions that have not been made so each item is a reminder of work to do or a decision yet to be done.  Clutter is also a visual reminder of all the things we have yet to do, want to do, should so, can do, lost interest in and forgot to do.  With all these reminders it is no wonder a cluttered room is so stressful.

People often feel very relieved after de-cluttering.  This happens in part because they have finally made decisions on all their things, even if the decision is to get rid of everything.  Most people don’t need to toss it all out but rather be selective about what they keep and bring into their space.

I like to teach my clients how to pre-decide what they want to do with classes of items so that they are less overwhelmed.  It is likely that you will want to do the same thing each time with dirty laundry, junk mail, dirty dishes and your daily gear.  Make one decision based on your natural habits and turn it into a routine that frees up your brain for bigger decisions.

I love helping people dig out of overwhelm.  Give me a call for a FREE organizing assessment today.  (740) 334-1928

Monday, July 16, 2012

Save money - Be organized to buy less

We are all looking to save money these days.  Most of the time there are plenty of ways to save money by using what we already have instead of purchasing something new.  How many times have you made a special trip out to buy supplies to only find them later?  If you knew where they were you could have saved the time it took to make the trip, the gas money and wear on the car to get there, not to mention the cost of the supplies themselves.  In addition to time and money saved, you could have saved your own energy and been relaxing or spending time with family instead.

Many of the people I work with find that they save much more than the investment in organizing by being organized.  Some clients find that cleaning their kitchen not only makes them feel calmer but they also use the kitchen more because now it is easier and more enjoyable to cook at home instead of running out for takeout.  Imagine how much a family of 4 could save even in 1 month if they ate at home more often.

What are in your home or office could help you save?  Would you save time, money, energy or all three?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Buy in Bulk without Waste

Everybody loves to save money; it is human nature to want the best deal.  We like to know that we have what we need without always running to the store so it makes sense that Sam’s and Costco would be popular.  I love them too.  I buy business supplies and items for home.  The key to using this kind of shopping effectively is the system you use at home to store the items.  You have to store it, know what you have, use it in a timely manner and not waste it.

Store it.  I always encourage my clients to keep unopened items together in a pantry or garage for non food items.  The garage is a great place for bulk paper products, cat litter, garbage bags and much more.  It makes it easy to unload the car and find what you need when you need it.  Try a shelving unit with 4 or 5 shelves to hold items.

Know what you have.  This is probably one of the most important parts to this system.  If you don’t know what you have you aren’t likely to use it or you will buy more than you need.  It is not unusual to de-clutter a pantry, bathroom or other space and find many multiples of items that are used daily, many get thrown out because they have expired or are too damaged to use.

Use it.  I love to challenge myself to use all of something before I buy new.  My personal rule is “one open - one in reserve.”  I don’t buy new until I open the reserve.  This is a great way to save money at the store and reduce impulse buying.  It also ensures that nothing is going to waste because there aren’t old items going bad while newer items are used.   The pantry is a great place for this challenge.  Periodically challenge yourself to only make things with items that are already in the house and buy only what you need to use up ingredients on hand.

Don’t waste it.  It can take a bit of self discipline to resist the temptation to buy when you already have what you need.  It also takes conscious decisions to really evaluate what you need and when you need it.  Knowing what you have, how much and how quickly you use an item to decide if you really need to buy more.   A family of 5 most certainly needs more bars of soap on hand than someone who lives alone.  I also always remind clients that buying in bulk only works if you can use all of something before it goes bad.  I almost never buy food in bulk because I can't use it fast enough.  

Happy bulk shopping, just don't over buy and waste.  If you need help creating a system for buying and using bulk items, give me a call.  (740) 334-1928

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Were you prepared?

48 hours ago as I write this a huge summer storm ripped across the mid-Atlantic and knocked out power for millions of people including me.  Current reports state that it may be days or even more than a week before power is fully restored to everyone.  I am pretty well prepared for things like this.  I have been through many storms and outages over the years since my family lives in a remote part of the county.  We expect to be without power regularly and always stay prepared.  But each time there is something that I wish I had or had prepared better.  Here are a few things to think about to be better prepared next time.

What did you need from the store?  Was it bread, milk and other perishables?  If not, what items were non perishable supplies that could have been kept on hand?   If you needed it for the current emergency, there is a very good chance you will need it for a future crisis.  Make a list of supplies to keep on hand and use and replace them regularly.

Did you know where to find everything that you already have?  If you had to really search for supplies that are already on hand consider keeping everything together for the next emergency in a location that you will be able to access without electricity. Don’t store emergency supplies in a dark basement or really full closet.

Were any of your supplies too old or not functioning?  Supplies don’t last forever and many need to be used and serviced regularly.  I would have a running refrigerator right now but my generator hasn’t been used or started in 4 years.  This is definitely on my list of things to fix and service regularly. Don’t forget to remove batteries before storing items so that the batteries do not corrode and ruin anything.

Was there anything that you needed to do that you did not know how to do?  Do you know where to shut off water and power to your home?  Do you know how to hook up and start a gas generator?  Consider having someone show you these skills for the next emergency.

Her are just a few items that I like to keep on hand:

  • Batteries in a variety of sizes for a radio, flashlight or lantern
  • Gas grill and spare propane tank with cook ware for the grill.  You can cook just about anything on a gas grill with a few cast iron pans.  Coffee is simple with a percolator or French press
  • Coolers that can become your refrigerator with a bit of ice. 
  • First aid supplies for minor injuries.
  • Spare blankets and cold weather gear for winter emergencies
  • Candles and matches
  • Non perishable foods like soup and tuna
  • Gas cans with gas.  Use and replace regularly.

A little bit of preparedness goes along way during any emergency or natural disaster, the more that you have on hand the less frustrated you will be waiting in long lines.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Get those dreaded tasks done WITHOUT doing them

Tom Sawyer may have been a mischievousness young man but in some respects he had the right idea.  He had better things to do with his time so he got the work done by having someone else do it.  How many projects do you have around the house or at work that need to be done but you simply do not like doing the task?  Sure you are most likely able to do them yourself but are they really getting done?  Are you nagging yourself about them every time you see one of these tasks undone?  Its time to find someone else to do the job.

Delegate or trade the task.  Find someone else that can do the task for you.  If you are the boss there is most likely someone that works for you that can do the task.  Maybe there is a neighbor or friend that wouldn't mind your chore and they have one you can do in return.

Hire someone.  Often it is less expensive in time, money or simply energy to pay someone else to do the task quickly and correctly.  This especially applies to plumbing, electrical and auto repair unless one of these is your profession.  During high school I joined the National Guard.  I eventually went to school to learn how to be a tank turret mechanic.  I got a big dose of electronics, hydraulics and mechanics.  My father often wonders why I don't change my own oil in my car.  Simply put, I don't want to do it.  Yes, I could if I wanted to but it would take me more time and probably money after I messed something up to do it myself.  I can drop off my car, work or relax and pick it up later.  My car is well cared for and I can continue to use my energy on projects that I am passionate about.

Set up an ongoing service.  Some tasks never seem to be done.  There usually is someone out there that is willing to help.  Not interested in spending the weekend mowing or weeding?  Find a landscaper who will contract to take care of everything.  Hate taking out the recycling?  Check with your trash hauler.  I did!  Only $5 a month more and my recycling disappears at the end of my driveway.  One less thing that nags me every time I come home.