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June 29, 2006

more organizing ideas

That's right ... more organizing ideas are just a click away. Tonight I finished up my June organizing newsletter ... just in a nick of time since tomorrow is the LAST day of June!

Do you subscribe? If not ... go see what you're missing. This month's article is about the most productive day of my life ... my husband says it's one of his favorite articles I've written ... and believe me, he isn't biased. The first article go-around this month --- nixed ;)

Want to sign up? Come on, it'll be fun!

Back to blogging soon ;)

June 28, 2006



So I did it! They're gone, gone, GONE! Saturday night I went through my college textbooks and class notes and had a major purge fest. Whew! It felt good. I needed something that I could get done and get done fast. I was in a crummy mood --- the perfect mood for me to do some purging.

Why is a crummy mood good for me? Well, I was frustrated with a few things ... and this project was a way of regaining control. I was completely in control of what to keep and what not to keep. I can SEE progress with a project like this ... where once there were boxes full of indecision, in just a couple of hours, decisions and progress were made. By being in a crummy mood --- I was  bit less sentimental and more task oriented. I simply wanted to get it done. Why do I share all of this? Well ... you may find it useful to think about the best mood for the different tasks on your to do list. When your mood is in sync with the task at hand --- major stuff gets done and it's a whole lot of fun!

I started the project at 10:15 PM ... right after taking a shower. (Not the best time to sort through dusty boxes, but I was a woman on a mission.) I grabbed my buddy Sam, a couple of empty boxes, and a trash bag and pulled the boxes of books down from the shelves in my basement. Getting rid of the books, for the most part was easy. I was ready. Goodbye Accounting! Goodbye Finance! Farewell Statistics, Information Systems, and Business, Government and Society! Easy, easy, easy. Marketing ... not so easy. I kept three of those and one on business strategy ... I'll keep them around for a year and if I don't look at them during the year ... they're history (no pun intended.) I also kept two undergraduate books about packaging ... more for posterity sake.

Almost all of my undergrad notebooks and binders are gone. I kept creative writing papers from my senior year (very interesting) and handful (OK a bit more than that) of notebooks, artwork, notes from my mom and other things my mom collected for me through out my school years. I have a milk crate and a half full of this stuff, which I'll go through sometime to make a scrapbook. So really, a lot of this stuff was out of the scope of the project. I feel really good about keeping it and going through it in finer detail someday in the future.


I have to tell you ... I was dreading this project. I tried one other time to let go of this stuff but just couldn't bring myself to do it. All in all it was a pretty fun project. Here are some of the treasures I found ...

I always believed my handwriting had gotten worse with age but come to find out it was pretty crummy when I was younger, until grad school. I can not believe how neat my notes were in grad school ... no wonder people wanted to borrow them!

We had just gotten an AOL account when I was getting my M.B.A. I thought it was so cool to be able to do research at home. Isn't that funny?

Then I came across this:


A brown binder. At first I thought ... huh, I don't remember that. But then I laughed thinking "I was just so far ahead of my time!" So I opened it up only to find ... it wasn't mine! I accidentally pulled down one of Jay's boxes of school books. (Before me, there was only one color for everything in Jay's life --- from furniture to towels to dishes --- and that was brown. Not even I knew this love of brown extended to vinyl three-ring binders!)

More treasures:

Short stories I wrote in high school. In my mind I didn't know I had written anything creatively until senior year in college. That was the first time I remember someone enjoying my writing. Isn't that interesting ... it was there before and I didn't know it.

I came across magazine clippings from when I was in high school. I've always been a huge fan of magazines (OK -- I'm obsessed with them) and it was funny to see the things I cut out. Get this ... there was an article from 1987 on ... organizing closets! That's a keeper for sure.

The other great thing I came across were these pictures and a note from my Mom. It talks about how nicely I cleaned out my closet! I remember loving to clean out (a.k.a. organize) my closet as a little girl. What a treat to find evidence of that via my Mom's sweet note. Another keeper.


After the Saturday night purge fest, the next morning I loaded the notebooks and binders into my car (along with two eager helpers known as my kids) and we headed to the recycle dumpster ... where we proceeded to tear the pages from my notebooks. They thought this was the greatest fun since ... oh ... going to the water park (and I'm not kidding. They were sad when we were done and asked if we could do it again some time. Uh --- not likely.) As I looked into the dumpster I thought "a whole lot of my life is in this dumpster ... no its not, my whole life is out here ... helping me fill this dumpster." And isn't that the truth? The attachment to these things, to the past is so interesting in light of my very full and happy present life. It was time to let go of a little bit of the past ... keeping only those things that provide perspective and comfort. In the process, my kids and I made some wonderful new memories of a Sunday afternoon spent at the recycle dumpster. Go figure ;)

Today ... we donated the text books to the local university library ... this time with one little helper who also stood in as my photographer. It's really quite funny to see a little girl behind a big camera, thus my big grin. (Yes, I'm happy to get rid of the books, but come on, that grin is a bit overboard, don't you think?)


Boy ... this post has been an awful lot about me. You're probably bored to tears. So in an attempt to salvage the post here are some nuggets for you.

Think about your own projects ... what is the ideal mood for you to really dig in and make progress? Next time you're feeling that way ... see if you can't dive in and just get it done.

Go on a treasure hunt in your stash of books, notes, binders and so on. Which things are truly special and deserve a happier home than in a box in your basement? What stories do those treasures tell about you? What dreams did you have as a young person that you're living today? Which dreams need to be resurrected? What beliefs did you have about yourself in the past? Do you still have them today? I hope you'll take this journey ... I think you'll find it to be a lot of fun!

I'm really excited about all of you that have taken the 12 week challenge! I can't wait to hear from you as your projects get wrapped up, too! (Email me if you're getting stuck somewhere ... I'd love to help you get the momentum going again.) Or maybe, like me, all you need is one grumpy evening to get it done!

Now ... I'm on to chores!

June 23, 2006

creative organizing challenge (a quick, easy + fun one!)

So I've been a bit busy. How about you? It was one of those weeks that just flew by leaving me to scratch my head and say "how did that happen?" Still not sure I can explain it. So in light of the speedy week, I needed a speedy challenge. So here it is. In the before picture you'll notice a basic mini legal pad and a notebook from one of my favorite places on the planet: Target. Functional, yes. Fun, well, we might argue the one from Target is, but the mini legal pad, size aside, it's not so fun.


Before we see the after pictures, let's talk about some uses for these functional friends shown above. One of the things I've noticed about time is that it goes faster when we're distracted. You, too? It flits by and you get less done when you switch from topic to topic, thought to thought, or project to project. Yes? Me, too. A great way to tame this scattered-brain-tendency is to have what I call a distractions pad ... a place to jot down all those little things that pop into your head at exactly the wrong time.

Here's one ... you're sitting down to write journaling for your latest scrapbook project and poof! you remember you need cat food. Or you're sitting down to post on your blog and you remember you have laundry in the washer that needs to go into the dryer. (Yes ... this literally just happened to me.) Now ... I could get up and go change over the clothes ... but I'm in a groove. I'm writing. It's flowing freely. (And hopefully I'm making some sense and entertaining just a little bit.) So rather than run up and switch over the clothes and ruin my little groove, I just jotted down "dryer" on my distractions pad and barely missed a beat. Pretty fun, right? Right. At least until you have to look at the plain, mini legal pad all day as you collect your disractions. So why not ... do this?


The great thing about the legal pad ... this literally took me two minutes. I cut a strip of ribbon, wrapped it around the boring binding, fastened the ribbon to itself with adhesive (forming a band), and viola! a fun, little distractions pad, with polka dots, none-the-less. And if there's one thing that says fun to me, it's polka dots. Oh .. and best yet ... when you run out of paper, you can slide the ribbon band onto your next boring little notepad.

The second little notebook, is for jotting down all those random things that pop into your head when you're TRYING to fall asleep. Instead of thinking those thoughts and tossing and turning, jot it down  ... and catch some Zs.

The second notebook took a little more time ... but clearly, a simple project. It's a fun way to use up some scraps, or in my case, some leftover BasicGrey ornament card-stock. I simply cut some squares and rectangles, adhered them, wrote my title (in my own handwriting thanks to Heidi Swapp's great book) and used some rub-ons for the Zs. Then, because I'm just so addicted to decoupage, I decoupaged over the top. A fun little Friday project (OK ... so maybe it'll have to be Saturday for you since I'm blogging so late.)  If you're looking for an easy win (and a way to catch more ZZZs) this could be just the challenge for you.

Have fun!

Now after I change over the dryer ... I'm off to catch some ZZZs ;)

June 17, 2006

have you seen this?

photo stamps ... wouldn't these be fun for a wedding or baby announcement?

June 16, 2006

creative organizing challenge(s)

Two challenges this week.

The first one is just in time for father's day. My Dad was in town for a two day visit this week. It was wonderful. I don't get to see him as much as I'd like ... he lives in Michigan and I'm outside of St. Louis. So, when we get together it's always special. 200606_grandpa_pete_grandma_norma_fire_f

Yesterday, we went to a local water park. It was Dad, his wife, my two kids and me. We had a great time (minus a few mishaps with sunscreen application ... but that's a whole other story.) I had a chance to browse through some magazines while we were there. One of them was Everyday with Rachel Ray (a great one by the way.) She had a story about her mom ... it was a one page tribute to her mom who's birthday is in July. At the bottom, she had a section called "Like Mother, Like Daughter" where she had six statements that started with "I am my mother's daughter because ..." I instantly thought scrapbook page! And with father's day just around the corner the timing was perfect. How about making a "like father, like daughter" page or mini album for your dad using "I am my father's daughter because ..." sentences for the journaling? I love Rachel's idea! Quick, simple and great tribute to dad.

The second challenge is directly related to the post below called "Live BIG, blog BIG" prompted by Stacy. Filling it out was way fun ... especially the one about what big idea am I glad I acted on.

If you took my "what's in your bucket" class with big picture scrapbooking, you may remember that I used a quote from Brian Tracy. If you aren't familiar with his work ... it is great. He has written many books on a variety of topics, but my favorites are the ones on goals. In one of his programs he asks the question "What would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?" It's an excellent question. Fear of failure holds us back from our true potential ... from living a life we'd love ... from dreaming BIG.

So for this week's challenge, answer the question "What would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?" Something may pop into your mind right away ... or you may need to brainstorm for a while. You may want to scrapbook about this, jot it down on a piece of paper, or write about it in a journal. Use whatever approach works for you ... but let's dream. And let's dream BIG. Deal?

Live BIG, blog BIG

Stacy Julian is featuring me on her blog this week, and asked me to share a little insight into me and my life!

What is one of your BIG dreams?
My biggest dream is to raise my children to be loving, compassionate and motivated people who aren’t afraid to go after their BIG dreams. I see that as my number one priority and I’m always happy when I have the opportunity to remember that that truly is my number one priority. (So thanks Stacy for asking.)

My dream for myself? I’m living it --- by running a business where, on a daily basis, I get to help people clear the path to their big dreams.

What’s the biggest dessert you’ve ever eaten?
I don’t know if it’s the biggest, but the BEST desert I’ve ever eaten (and therefore the one that’s had the biggest impact on my life) was volcano cake. Jay, my husband and I split it after eating appetizers in a tapas bar in Florida. We literally said nothing to each other as we devoured the most moist, gooey, warm, chocolatey and decadent desert either of us had ever sunk our teeth into. When we were done, we put our forks down, and looked around the bar to figure out whether or not we had just completely embarrassed ourselves. Had anyone else seen the feeding frenzy that had just taken place? (Luckily, no!)

What’s the biggest scrapbooking project you have tackled to date?
Writing the happy scrapper! OK … while technically this wasn’t a scrapbooking project in that it didn’t result in a scrapbook, the book was definitely the biggest scrapbooking related project I have ever undertaken and it dramatically changed my perspective on scrapbooking. Writing it will forever change the way I approach and look at scrapbooking … it was BIG for me.

List three BIG-hearted people in your life:
I’m lucky to say it’s hard to just pick three. But here’s three that come to mind right away.
1) Jay, my husband has a huge heart and the most integrity of anyone I know. 2) My kids (can that count as one?) who amaze me by their big hearts and compassion for others. Just a week ago, my son couldn’t fall asleep one night because he was sad for people he didn’t know who had died tragically … everyone from (using his words now) the people killed when the airplanes crashed into the tall buildings to the lady whose parachute didn’t open when she went sky diving to the bug that had flown into his eye that night and died. I love their big hearts.
3) And third, I’m going to say Wendy.

What BIG idea are you glad you acted on?
Starting simplify 101!

What scrapbooking product/product category do you have the biggest stash of?
Who would guess that a professional organizer is restrained in buying scrapbooking supplies? Lo and behold I am quite the minimalist when it comes to scrapbook supplies. (I hear you gasping …) I like to buy on a project basis ... which has it's pros and cons but works for me. With that said, the biggest stash, would have to be my rubber stamps. I get weak-in-the-knees when I get anywhere close to a stampin’ up catalog!

What superstar or celebrity would you pay BIG money to see in person?Oprah.

What BIG plans are you making for the near future (vacation, accomplishment or other milestone event?)
The biggest plan that comes next on my calendar is a vacation to Michigan to celebrate my Dad’s 70th birthday! My brother and sister and I are planning a BIG party for him. (And can anyone guess what his present will be? Shhh … let’s keep it between us and hope he doesn’t figure it out.)

How BIG are your feet?
My feet are really small given my height (perhaps this explains my occasional clumsiness?) My feet are size 7-1/2 (and I’m 5 feet 8 inches tall.) My grandma’s feet were size four … she bought shoes in the children’s department when she was in her 70’s so at least I know why my feet are so small!

Thanks Stacy! This was fun!!

June 14, 2006

update on my 12 week goals

College text books. While there's no visible sign of progress there has been tremendous progress mentally. I am becoming very comfortable with the idea of being college textbook-free. The undergraduate ones, especially, should be a piece of cake. My MBA books? A little bit tougher. When I'm being rational I realize I started simplify 101 and never referenced ANY OF THEM! (Not even once.) So ... what on earth am I holding onto them for? If I didn’t need them when I was starting the business … when will I? (I hear you. Never! You're absolutely right.) Alright, more mental progress being made as we speak.


Chore system. On this one we’ve made a lot of progress. The biggest breakthrough has been a conceptual agreement with my kids about being paid for chores. They agreed that there are some things they should help out with and do for themselves simply because they are part of the family! Yippee! This is a big first step. So we’ve decided who will do what and when and which chores are for pay and which aren’t. Now we need to decide how much to pay for the "for pay" chores and put this all together in a system that’s easy for my daughter who doesn't read yet to follow. (And easy for my husband and I to consistently follow up on.) I have some ideas and will report back soon.


Hope you're doing well on your goals, too!!

June 13, 2006

just checking in ...

How's everyone doing on their 12 week goals? I have a progress report to post tomorrow but wanted to see how all of you are doing? We've got ten weeks left ... so if you're sitting on the sidelines there's still time to jump in and create real and lasting change this summer! Kudos to all of you who have taken the challenge. Can't wait to hear about your progress.

My dad is in town for a semi-surprise visit ... so I'm going to be brief tonight and go hang out with him. Just finished catching fire flies. Is there a better way to spend a summer night? I can't think of one.

June 09, 2006

what's for breakfast?

pancakes anyone?

Cooking is creative, right? And having good recipes is organized, right? So ... this post is a good fit for this blog, right?

Or maybe I should just go to bed and try again tomorrow??? (After I eat some pancakes for breakfast. Yum!)

June 08, 2006

creative organizing challenge: create a school artwork binder

Do you have stacks or boxes or piles of papers your kids have brought home from school or daycare? Not sure what to do with them? I know the feeling. For me, this is one of the hardest things to throw away (and it's hard for my kids to see me do it.)

So here's my strategy. In my laundry room (our main entry into the house) we have a collection bin for papers. After going through the daily stash of artwork, schoolwork and other creations, and culling out any papers that require attention, the creations are first, admired and then, put in the bin to "age."

After a sufficient aging period, the kids and I create a binder for their most important papers using a three-ring binder and three-hole punch. How do you know the aging period is up? It depends. If you love to organize, you can probably tackle a bigger pile and therefore handle a longer aging process. If organizing and purging papers isn't so much fun for you, I'd recommend a shorter aging period. Collect fewer papers and go through them more often. My current strategy is to do this about twice a school year. I know the aging is complete when the bin is too full to put anything else in and that spurs me into action.

We set aside a weekend morning and go through the art and other papers --- deciding which things to keep, which things to send to grandmas and grandpas and which things to recycle. I let my kids be involved in the process so we're sure to keep the things that are most special to them (and we also keep my personal favorites.)

Once we've sorted, we start punching holes and putting papers in the binder. For larger piece of artwork, we turn them sideways, punch the holes, and then fold the paper so it fits in the binder. The picture below shows large artwork unfolded:


For odd shaped items (like the turkey shown below) slide them into the binder's front pocket or a page protector.


It's a simple project but effective for keeping these types of paper safe, sound, and most importantly accessible. I have a theory that if you're keeping something you should be able to enjoy it. With these books my kids can open them up, look at their accomplishments, share their creations with grandparents when they come to visit, and so on. The other thing is that this project creates a limit --- we only keep what will fit in the binder (yes it's bulging just a bit, but I'm OK with that. And one more exception ... kindergarten gets two binders in my house ... indicating once again one of my weaknesses: kindergarten artwork.)

Here's a little bonus tip for you scrapbookers: once you have your child's binder together, make a scrapbook page. What does the binder tell you about your child and his or her past year? What did he learn? What was she "into"? Which subjects does your child excel in? Any struggles? And so on. The artwork and schoolwork tells a great story ... one that would make for a fun perspective on a scrapbook page.

Have fun ... and as always, I'd love to hear from you if you take the challenge or even if you don't ;) ... hellos are always welcome.

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