Streamline Your To-Do Lists

How to streamline your to-do list

Anyone else ever feel like they’re running around in circles, trying to get everything done? Finding sticky notes of things to do in your purse, your work bag, your kitchen counter, your car…

The very first tip I give to people when I see notes all over is to eliminate all those floating papers from your life. Gather them all up and put them in a single place. When they’re scattered all over the house, they have a tendency to become permanent clutter, where you learn to ignore them.

Make a master to-do list, either in a small notebook (hello dollar store), your calendar, or into an app that you can sync with your family. Write down every single thing that you need to do.

Then you need to prioritize the list. You will know which are the urgent ones. Keep those at the top, obviously. Then decide which ones are important soon (calling the electrician to fix the front porch light that has been out for a couple of days) and which ones are dreams (washing your baseboards).

Every couple of days or week, depending on how long your list is, go through and update it, adding and removing where necessary. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you have everything in one single place.

If you need some assistance getting that list in place, contact me to help you out.

Label All the Things

Labeling is so important to staying organized

Everything needs a home. I’ve discussed the importance of it before. When everything has a place to go, your family will know where to put things and where to find things without having to ask you, saving you time. When your family has all these good habits in place, you will find it’s easier to keep up than to catch up.

When you don’t have to think about where you should put the bills that need to be paid (small basket labeled “To Be Paid”) or the receipt for the dress you might return (envelope labeled “Just In Case”), it takes away a bit of that mental load that people tend to carry around. It becomes second nature to just put it where it belongs right away.

My closet has three hampers in it: darks, whites, and towels. When I first implemented the system, I put labels above each one so everyone in the house knew exactly what went where. (The cat eventually clawed them to pieces after about two months, but the habits were well established by that point). The labels prevented things from ending up in the wrong bin. And saved me a lot of aggravation.

The same applies to your kids and their toys: it makes it easier for them to pick up after themselves when they know exactly what goes where. You can use labels with pictures or words.

Let labels help you get things organized. If you need me (and my label maker) to come by to set up some good systems, contact me today.

Organized Grocery Shopping

Being (and staying!) organized doesn’t just apply to your physical house. Over time, it becomes a part of every routine you have in your life. Including grocery shopping. I want to share some tips and tricks to keep you organized before and during the shopping trip.

First, I like to keep an ongoing grocery list at all times – you know from previous posts that I love a list. Make sure everyone in the house knows where it is. I have a terrible memory so I will never remember to get more cat litter when told in passing while brushing my teeth in the morning. But when I have a list that everyone can get to, it can be added without me wasting brain power.

One of my favorite tips is to print off copies of identical lists of items that we tend to buy every week (milk, orange juice, bananas) so I don’t have to re-write the same things every single time. The list is generally in the same order I go through the store so I can avoid some back and forth and back and forth.

Our family likes to discuss our upcoming week and then start our meal planning. I make sure I check out my (decluttered) kitchen to avoid getting duplicates of items already in my pantry.

Once you get to the store, make sure you grab a grocery store basket in the main part of the cart as you load up produce. After you’re done with the produce department, just slide the basket under the cart so you have room for the heavy stuff.

I have recently been putting a spare laundry basket in the back of my car for all of those heavy items that you can’t carry in a bag, but also don’t want to take 10 trips in and out of the house.

After you start organizing parts of your life, you’ll realize that every part can benefit from some additional tips and tricks. If you need help getting started, contact me today.

How the ‘One Touch Rule’ Saves Me Time

The one touch rule of organizing: touch each item only one time before putting it away

How often is your family asking you where something is or where it goes? If your house is like mine, it’s pretty often! It’s so important to have a home for everything. Then everyone knows where to find it…and more importantly, where to put it away!

When everything has a home, it’s second nature to put it away. It doesn’t get stuck in a temporary home, becoming permanent clutter. Imagine your kids know exactly where their hockey bag is or where they should put their bake sale reminders for you to see.

The ‘One Touch Rule’ means everything gets put away the FIRST TIME you touch it. No more paperwork piling up on the kitchen counter. No more unfolded clothes sitting on your closet floor.

With the ‘One Touch Rule,’ those “I’ll deal with it later” stacks disappear. Go through the mail as soon as you get in the door (junk mail recycled and magazines onto the bedside table). Put away the laundry as soon as the dryer dings.

I’ve previously talked about how it is easier to keep up than to catch up. The ‘One Touch Rule’ is the perfect compliment. When you only touch it once, there is no chance for anything to pile up. You save so much time when you’re not spending 45 minutes each week going through a week’s worth of junk mail or cleaning up the playroom. You’re already keeping up.

If you want to hear more, feel free to contact me at organizingcu@gmail.com.

Space Limits – What they are and why you need them

Space limits: What they are and why you need them

You know that notification that pops up when your phone is running out of space and it demands that you remove an app or two before letting you save anything more? Space limits are the same thing, but in your home. It helps prevent that clutter creep, which can quickly become permanent clutter.

Space limits are restrictions on how much stuff you can keep in a certain area. In our house, we have space limits on clothing. We have 100 hangers in our closet (I didn’t count). Once we are out of hangers, I will not buy any more hangers – it means it’s time to purge some stuff out of there if I want to bring in any new clothes.

It is so easy for toys and clothing to explode out of control, especially after a holiday or birthday. Space limits make it so you can easily tell when you have too much of something. We have a couple of bins in our playroom for toys. If they’re full, we know it’s time to ship some toys to younger relatives or Goodwill.

You can do the same for your kitchen. Keep only a couple of items on the counter top and banish the rest to cabinets. Only the things that fit in the cabinets are kept. When you get new big items, it’s time to purge some of the older stuff that you don’t use.

Especially those of us that have small homes or children, you really need to keep your incoming items in check. Making a routine of it will make it easier to keep the house organized. That would make any new year a good one!

If you would like me to come help you define some space limits in your house, contact me!

How (and why) to Say No

No is a complete sentence. How and why to say it

Since it’s January, it’s time to determine priorities and decide what is going to be important to us this upcoming year. It may be to slow down and try to be present during your family time. Maybe it’s to take some time out for yourself

I get it. I’m a people pleaser so I can 100% understand the desire to try to be everything to everyone. However, as I have learned, you can do anything, but not everything. 

You have to learn how to say no to those things you don’t have time to do (or that you just don’t want to do!). Here are some ways I’ve learned help lessen that “No” blow:

  • I’ll have to check my schedule.
  • I want to help, but I’m pretty full this month. Can you reach out again soon?
  • I promised my husband that I would not tackle any more projects right now. 
  • No, but I can ______________ (give an option that you are willing to do).
  • No, but ______________ may be interested in helping.
  • No.

That last one may be startling to say the first few times, but you are allowed to just say no (or “no, but thank you for thinking of me” if you’re very polite!). “No” is a complete sentence. You do not have to explain yourself. 

It’s so important to guard your time. How often have you felt stuck doing stuff you don’t want to do only because you thought it would seem bad if you said no? Don’t let that feeling rule your calendar and your life. Don’t say yes to things you don’t want to do. 

Making yourself and your family a priority is the most important thing you can do. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Hopefully, 2019 will be the year that your cup overflows!

Contact me if you need help getting your priorities in order.

New Year, New Priorities

With the dawn of a new year, it’s time to look back at the last one. Maybe you want to make some changes and make resolutions to clean out your closetslow down or get your paperwork in order.

Resolutions start with determining your priorities and choosing what is going to be important to you this year. If it’s important to you, you choose to make time for it.

Take a look at your calendar for the next month and decide what is worth your time. Make a list and write down everything on your calendar for the next 30 days. Next to each entry, number the importance of doing it with 5 being ABSOLUTE MUST (non-refundable airline tickets) and 1 being a “I sort of said I may be interested” (PTA cookie exchange). 

Next, put a plus sign next to the things you are really looking forward to (girls only brunch) and a minus next to the blah stuff (oil change).

Obviously, the 5+ are the things that are important to you that you love, but check if there are any 1- or 2- on your list. Maybe you can outsource some of those tasks. There are people (and apps!) that can help with cleaning, cooking, preparing taxes, laundry, organizing, grocery shopping. Many of them are much more affordable than you think. 

Also, give some thought to your household chores. Is there anything you hate doing? Maybe your spouse doesn’t hate it and you can trade it for a different job. Hate folding clothes, but don’t mind doing dishes? Suggest a trade, even if just for a week or a month. You may be surprised at how much the annoying little tasks you dislike can add up in a short time.

The new year is a great time to really think about what is important to you and how to determine what you are going to say yes to! Contact me if you need help getting your priorities in order.

When Perfectionism isn’t Perfect

When perfectionism isn't perfect

I’m a recovering perfectionist. When I lived alone and didn’t have a kid, I knew I was a perfectionist. But now, I want to spend any precious free time with my family, not worrying about the little things. 

I have two pictures in my home (hung by me) that are crooked and I’ve left them that way. I like the reminder that I’m not perfect and that I need to let some things go. All I can do is shrug and smile when I see them. When my husband folds the towels and they don’t have crisp edges, it’s a reminder that I have a partner who helps out around the house. So I let it go and smile when I see the not-quite-perfect towel stack. 

When I look back at my first few blog posts, there are some things I would do differently, but I don’t mind it too much. It’s good to continually grow and change. I’ve talked about not being perfect on my Instagram a couple of times. I post about it often because it’s a reminder I need often. 

Perfectionism can stop you from moving forward. I had minimal website experience when I started this whole process earlier this year, but I purchased the domain and started working on it. I didn’t let my perfectionism stop me from jumping in and starting because a step in any direction is a good step. 

It may stop you from getting organized. Maybe you won’t redo your front entryway until you find the perfect piece of furniture. It’s okay to not have a perfect system immediately. Our guest room has gone through a bunch of changes. Much like ourselves, our spaces and homes need to evolve with us. No system is going to be perfect forever. As our kids grow up, our lives will change. 

Don’t let perfectionism stop you from organizing, changing, or evolving. Let some stuff go occasionally. You’ll get use to it.  I promise. 

If you need help letting go of your perfectionism, contact me!

23 Best Tips on How to Stop Procrastinating

23 best tips on how to stop procrastinating

I was honored to be part of this amazing group who all listed their best tips for stopping procrastination. If it’s something that you struggle with, there are TONS of suggestions from a variety of people. Much like organization is not one-size-fits-all, neither is problem solving! If my tips don’t strike a chord, you are guaranteed to find some that hit home with you.

If you need some help to stop procrastinating, contact me now!

Keeping it Simple for the Holidays

"Keeping it simple for the holidays" with glittery gold sequins

Think about your childhood holiday memories. Was the best part running around to 20 stores to get presents for every friend and family member? Was it when you were going to 3 holiday parties in one weekend? Was it when you were just lounging around with your loved ones? Was it when you were putting up decorations together?

For me, I’ve been working on slowing down.  I’m trying to make the holiday season all about simplicity and working on the “less is more” concept. Less gifts, less food options, less decorating. 

I think we can all agree that the holiday season is out of control. When the Christmas decorations are out before Halloween, I think it’s time to rein it in a bit! It’s become a months long marathon.

For a while, my gift list was longer than a CVS receipt. I finally went to close friends and family to make a pact to forgo presents for one another. While my husband still loves to buy gifts for his family, I have only my mom and mother in law to shop for – and they get very similar photo books of our family. 

This makes my new year much more organized. Less items to find a home for, less things I don’t need or want, less stuff to put away and pack up. 

Last year was the first year we hosted Christmas at our (small) house. On the 24th for dinner, I put some meat in a crock pot and some grits in another. For the 25th brunch, pre-made pancakes from the freezer, along with a pre-mixed quiche and overnight french toast dish all just required heating. I let everyone else fill in the blanks for the rest of the food. 

With our small house, hosting duties, and toddler running around, we don’t have much space for a full Christmas tree. For the last few years, I’ve put up a long strand of garland over our fireplace and hung my favorite ornaments on there. Simple, festive, and out of the way.

Everyone wants the magic of the holidays, not a ton of things. Spend the next couple of weeks trying to find your own balance, keeping things simple. 

If the holidays are stressing you out, contact me to help you out!