Monday, December 16, 2013

Tips For A More Organized and Enjoyable Holiday Season


As the holiday season approaches, many of you may feel overwhelmed by everything you want to complete before the holiday season arrives.  By following some easy tips, you will have an enjoyable and wonderful holiday season.
The first tip is to start compiling lists now for gifts and menus and start planning your time to accomplish these tasks.  You should have a list of all those you would like to purchase gifts for this year.  Make sure it is a list you will not lose easily.  Many smartphones have apps you can download for free.  As you start to hear your children ask for items they see and talk about, add them to the list.  Make sure you write down the items you think about for yourself as well.   Most of the time my clients are so consumed with the lists for others they forget to write down their wishes which makes it hard for their loved ones to shop for them.  Continue to add to the lists until you shop.  Plan your shopping days whether you shop in person or online, mark that time on your calendar.  If you shop on black Friday, with friends, or at various times, put it on your calendar and take your list with you.  I always recommend to my clients to buy those gifts that need to be shipped first so you can wrap and send them on time.  I also let my clients know that wrapping gifts as you buy them is easier and less stressful than waiting until night before.
If you are having some or all of the holiday celebration at your home or need to take items to various celebrations, start collecting the recipes now.  Have a special holiday folder marked and add to it as you think of dishes you would like to serve. 

If you are having guests in your home for 2 or 20 days, make a menu for each day you have guests.  Think about how much easier it will be if you are not stressing about what to have for each meal while your guests are visiting.  Do not feel compelled to make a complex meal for each day if you are working too.  Guests will be fine with standard choices for breakfast and lunch if they are visiting for multiple days.  Don't be afraid to have your menu visible to visitors too.  It might encourage them to offer to cook.
Baking should be scheduled if you are a big baker and make multiple types of cookies, cakes, and candies.  Schedule the times and days or evenings you will be baking your favorites.  I know many people start baking early and freeze some items ahead of using them.
You will need to schedule your decorating too.  Many people start decorating outside before Thanksgiving because the weather is nice one weekend and it is better than putting lights up in 30 degrees.  The tip for this is to test your lights now.  Plug in all your lights to determine if they are working or not.  The worst time to find out you need more strings of lights is while you are putting them out.  Schedule decorating outside and inside.  Set aside time as you can.  Maybe you decorate by floor in the house or the tree on a different day than other decorating.  If you have not used specific decorating items, go ahead a donate those.
Following some or all of these tips will get you through the holiday season with less stress and make them more enjoyable. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Staying Organized

Once you have organized your space whether it is a drawer or an entire room, the real challenge is keeping it that way. Many clients get the area organized, but fail to realize that it requires monitoring and purging. It will take some additional work to maintain the organized space. At least once per month you should look at the space and decide if there is a piece of the puzzle not working for you and readjust. After you have organized the space, make sure you come back in 6 months and look at all the pieces to see if some you have not used since the organization, and purge those. Eliminate items you are not using so those you are using are easily accessible. Making decisions about items coming into the space immediately will eliminate clutter because clutter is delayed decisions. Review your processes for system often to make adjustments to reflect your current life. If you started the organizing when your child was 2 and they are now 13, the system should look and be different. If you change occupations or your family status changes, make adjustments to accommodate your changes. To stay on top of your spaces review them often.


My Favorite Products

My clients often need products for us to complete their organizing project. I have some favorites that I use consistently because they work in many of my client's spaces and I use them in my own home.

For storage, I recommend clear plastic totes. It is easy to see what is inside and they are available at a numerous stores across the country. Most stores have sales on them consistently so they are very affordable. Why plastic over a plain cardboard box? Critters like cardboard and will make a mess of your treasures especially if they have any type of material. Plastic eliminates the chances of this happening. Depending on where you have them stored, if a pipe bursts, water would ruin whatever is in a cardboard box where plastic would keep your treasures dry.

When it comes to shelving for the basement or other areas where installing is not needed or wanted, I use the metal shelving sometimes referred to as metro shelving. They are available in many stores and in 3, 4, and 5 shelf sizes. They are great for the basement for holiday decorations, appliances used occasionally, and other items you store in your basement. I have also used them in closets and kitchens.

For filing larger amounts of paper in one file, I use expandable hanging folders. You can get them in a couple different expanding sizes based on your needs and they have sides on them to keep small papers from falling out. I recommend getting colored hanging folders just to keep your filing a little more festive because the standard green can be very boring. These are available in office supply stores and large stores with an office supply area.

For taxes, I like the expandable folder so you can place all your tax information in as it arrives in January.

For the coat closet, I use the clear hanging shoe holder. Gloves, hats, scarves and other coat closet items fit so well and smaller members of the house can put their belongings away too. These clear hanging holders can also be used for small toys, crafts and bathroom items in homes that have small storage space.

Many of my clients have linens or off season clothes they would like to keep and the Ziploc tote is a great solution. It has a real zipper and the top has small breathe holes to keep the fabric from mildew and to keep the critters out.

Busy moms love to have snacks their kids can grab for school and lunch. I use the mesh CD holders sold in many office supply stores. It keeps the snacks from falling all over the cupboard and you can fit a box of them in one container.

To organize the drawers in the kitchen, bathroom or office, I use the clear organizers. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes perfect for any size drawer. They keep things looking neat and organized.

Children need a place to keep their toys, crafts, and assorted play things and I use the fabric tote sold in many stores in a large array of colors. They can be placed in specially designed shelving or on any book shelf. They are easy to label for kids to learn the easy way to pick up and put away their belongings.

Be careful not to buy an organizing product because it looks neat, be sure you have a specific plan and need for the item.