Fun Ways to Look at Organizing Projects

An organizing project can be fun if you look at the task with these strategies in mind:

1. Think of your project as a Treasure Hunt – which is much more fun than saying “I am going to go through my clutter!” I have never worked with a client who during the day didn’t exclaim, “I am so
glad I found this…!”

2. Make a detailed list of the different Areas to Tackle. Check off each area and feel the sense
of accomplishment!

3. Any boxes or bags that leave your space are called Trophies! Some businesses and families that I work with have a contest to see who has the most and even take pictures of the group in front of their Trophies. Count yours and be proud. You may want to take before/after pictures.

4. Jump-Start the project by getting out supplies and making your list the night before. Remember that a job begun is a job half-done.

5. Get out your WOW! sheet and put it in the area you have completed. Look at your accomplishments – not what you still have to do. This will motivate you to keep going.

6. From my experience of teaching classes and presenting seminars, I hear people getting
discouraged because they have tried to tackle too big of a project. Remember the turtle – slow
and steady wins the Organizing and Productivity Award. Think small!

Do You Hate Filing?

Honestly, I hate filing just like you do.

Last week I realized my personal stack of insurance papers, receipts, etc…. needed filing. So I had to practice what I preach: I wrote it on my calendar to do Saturday morning. If I hadn’t made that commitment, I would have kept letting the stack get bigger.

Next I figured out a way to eliminate the boredom and the pain of doing it. I timed the filing so I was listening to one of my favorite radio programs. In fact, to finish listening to the program, I even cleaned out the drawer of a desk I was letting my daughter use.

What do you do to take the pain out of filing?

Organizing Tip 1. Write filing project on your calendar.
Organizng Tip 2. Plan something you would enjoy listening to while doing your filing
Organizing Tip 3. Reward yourself with a walk, dark chocolate kiss or something enjoyable.

Organizing Golden Rules

Follow these Organizing Golden Rules to guide any organizing project.

Consistency – When you form a good organizing habit, stick with it. Example: Always put your bills in the same place.

Like Items Together – Group information by subject. Name the file by asking yourself what you will be thinking when you need it.

Prime Items in Prime Space – Use it every day–keep it at arm’s reach. Use it once a week or less–you can get up and go get it.

What Will Make Me Need This? – This is a much more decisive question than “Will I ever need this?” Use it for papers in your office or home.

Simple is Smart – Ask yourself: “How and when will I need this in the future?” How it will be used will then tell you how to organize it.

Don’t Forget to WOW Yourself! – Patting yourself on the back will energize you to organize other areas. WOW yourself and keep moving forward!

Quick Kitchen Organizing Project

Taking my own advice in the kitchen. . . .

Recently as I tried to close the kitchen drawer which holds my plastic lids for storage containers, I realized I had to do something. Lids were trying their best to jump out, crawl out, or fall out the bottom onto the kitchen floor; there were just too many pieces in the drawer.

Time to have a Lid Party! So this morning, I took all the lids out and put like ones together. Taking all of them out at once would make me finish the project. Next, I emptied the drawer that was filled with all the bottoms and put like sizes together. Then I matched bottoms to tops.

You guessed it – a number of items without matches. All right, I confess: 6 bottoms with no tops and 25 tops with no bottoms. I think that container tops and bottoms are like clothes hangers – they multiply at night when you can’t see them do it.

Finally, I checked the refrigerator and dishwasher to make sure none of the matches were hiding from me. Then out went all the unmatched pieces. How wonderful to be able to close those kitchen drawers!

Organizing Tips:
1. Don’t be overwhelmed by this mini-project for the kitchen. It’s quick, fun and immediately satisfying. Get
your children to help!

2. Once your matches are made, ask yourself the Clutterfree & Organized question: “What
will make me need this?” Be honest, you probably don’t need a dozen old chicken salad containers.

3. Reuse, recycle, donate! Use the containers for crafts, crayons, picture hangers, uncooked
pasta…you get the idea. Be sure to use a sharpie and write in bold letters what you are
storing in them. Give friends in need a lovely little meal and invite them to keep the
containers. Could a senior center use the containers for game pieces, sewing bits and pieces,
craft projects?

What ideas can you come up with to organize your kitchen drawers? Please share them with me!

Learning a Lesson from Fall and the Leaves

Ever wish that a strong autumn wind would blow all your clutter away? Let’s take a few minutes and see what we can learn from falling leaves. It might help you change your thinking.

Trees shed leaves. Is it time for you to shed your clutter?

Winter is a time for trees to rest. Would you rest better with reduced items in your space?

When the leaves are shed, the lovely graceful shapes of the branches stand out. Would your favorite items stand out if the clutter surrounding them was reduced?

Leaves become mulch that helps protect plant roots. Our unneeded items can be donated to help others.

It is exciting to see the color on the leaves as they start to fall and it can be just as exciting to see items boxed or bagged to be donated. A calm house or home office can make our lives more enjoyable as we nest in our homes during winter.

Some good questions to ask yourself as you decide what to keep or donate:
– Does it make me smile?
– Is it close to my heart, or have I just had it a long time?
– Is this still useful to me or am I keeping because I have always kept it?

Henry David Thoreau once wrote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or
believe to be beautiful.”

Organizing My Closet and Letting the Light Shine

Does the thought of organizing your entire wardrobe make you groan and feel light-headed?
What to do?

Break it up into sections. For example:
I’ll put away my sandals and bring out my fall/winter shoes.
Next I’ll move the summer jackets out to make room for the year-round ones.
Then I’ll switch my summer pajamas with my winter ones. You get the idea.

A client who recently had me organize her closet for her was thrilled to discover a pair of
earrings purchased during a trip to Europe. She was sure they were lost forever…but they
were just waiting for rediscovery in the depths of her closet! I always say that instead of
thinking of it as tackling your clutter, go on a treasure hunt. My clients always find treasures
they thought were lost forever.

Let there be light!
That could be the motto for every closet organizing project.
Light equals energy. Let me repeat that. Light equals energy.
For some reason, good closet lighting is often overlooked, even in a walk-in closet.
Last week I decided to apply this rule to my own closet by adding another light. What a change!

Good light lets you see whether your slacks are blue or black. It eliminates “dark holes” that contain clothes you don’t choose to wear because you can’t see them back in their dingy corners. It motivates you to hang things up after wearing them.

Closet Organizing Tips:
Organizing Tip 1. Break closet organizing into sections.
Organizing Tip 2. Go on treasure hunts when doing projects.
Organizing Tip 3. Light is energy for all areas of the home.

Time Management When Children Are Home

Did I have a big reminder of how little you get done with a 2 year old at your feet!

My granddaughter Ava and I were spending some special time together. By 11 o’clock that morning, I finally
had the kitchen cleaned up from breakfast.

I had a big laugh when I thought about what I teach on procrastination. You may have heard me use the illustration about emptying a dishwasher: Emptying the dishwasher is a 3 -5 minute project, so it is just as easy to “Do It Now!” and get the job done. But you can count on that being an hour project or more when you have a little one helping, interrupting, and causing you to stop and play.

About the time the kitchen was cleaned up, it was time to start lunch. Nap time (hers) was when I finally put on my make-up and real clothes. After all, I needed to look presentable. We were going to the hospital for Ava
to see her new, adopted baby sister.

Having raised 7 children, I had to stop and think how much it helped when the older ones had
assigned chores like emptying the dishwasher. I remembered when my 3 boys were small, we would laugh and say that we didn’t worry about the house getting broken into. If the would-be burglar didn’t break his neck on all the toys on the sidewalk, he would end up falling over all the ride toys in the living room. Someone once asked me what my decorating style was and I said “toys, toys and more toys.” Actually it has never changed – now there are cat toys scattered on the floor.

I may be an organizer but children come first. Organization should support you and not control you. Little ones grow up so quickly. I find it hard to believe my youngest is 35. Given the choice between organizing and spending time with your children, my recommendation is to spend time with your family!

Organizing Tip 1. Put family first in your life – you can empty the dishwasher later.
Organizing Tip 2. There is a funny side to almost everything – lighten up!
Organizing Tip 3. No one expects you to be SuperMom. It is better to be super-loved.

My Weeds May Equal Your Clutter

Clutter and weeds have a lot in common.  Consider:

1.  Think before you pay for something – where will it go and do I have room for it?  If I am not careful, I bring home pretty plants that sometimes die because I do not know where to put them.

2.  Plants are a lot like collections – a few are nice but too many become clutter.

3.  It is a lot easier to pull small weeds, just as it is a lot easier to tackle small areas of clutter.

4.  Even when you have room for things, it may be more than you want to take care of.  I live on a farm,so my yard can grow in any direction, but at this point, I have too many flowerbeds!

5.  Humor makes life easier.  One of my flowerbeds has a sign that says: Weeds For Sale, Pick Your Own!

Is weeding out your clutter on your To-Do List?  That’s my specialty.  Call me – I can help.

Conquer That Overwhelmed Feeling

Does your To-Do List make you feel overwhelmed?

If so, make a list of what you need to do.  Then for each item, ask yourself: “What is the Next Step?”

We can usually conquer the “Next Step” without being overwhelmed.  It is when we think of all the steps to be done on a project that we get paralyzed and then do nothing.

Doing the Next Step will get you started.  A very appropriate quote puts it nicely: “A job begun is a job half done.”

What is the Next Step?

Often when we think of a project, we think of all the steps, get overwhelmed and then do nothing.

When I ask my coaching clients: “What is the next step?”, that frees them up to move forward.  The next step is usually do-able.  It is when we think of the next 20 steps involved that we get stuck.

That is how I am tacking my yard this spring – one step at a time.