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January 28, 2009

organizing quick tip

I thought I would share last week's weekly quick tip...just for fun (and just in case some of you aren't aware of this extra little dose of weekly organizing tips and inspiration.) The quick tip is designed to be a quick and fun read. Hope you enjoy! If you'd like to start receiving this via email (I normally don't share them on the blog) there's a sign up box at the bottom of this post.

Last week, we had an ice storm. It was nothing terribly dramatic—no power outages or downed trees—just your run-of-the-mill-thin-sheet-of-ice ice storm. It was enough ice for school to be called off and to make it tricky to get just about anywhere outside. But other than that, it was nothing too dramatic. Well, until you tried to get around, of course.

Because school was out, a neighbor child came over to see if one of my kids wanted to play outside. In the process of discussing plans at the front door, 92 pounds of fur and enthusiastic muscle, which we fondly refer to as Maggie the dog, bolted out the door and onto the ice. The thin sheet of ice wasn’t enough to keep the 92 pound lab from breaking through to the muddy layer of dirt underneath.

Muddy dogs and freshly cleaned carpet don’t mix…so a temporary panic ensued in the Garvey household. We must get the dog inside!

I did as I always do when attempting to retrieve 92 pounds of dog—bolted out the front door, calling “Maggie!” Only this time…I had dramatically different results. You see, concrete sidewalks are slippery when frozen. Very slippery, I might add, and very hard when you fall on them flat on your back side. (Which I did, for the record.)

Now you may be wondering to yourself, how on earth could Aby have forgotten that the sidewalk was frozen? It was because of the ice that this whole situation was happening in the first place. Good point.

Here’s why:  I was responding to this crisis situation based on habit! I have run out the door after this dog (or the mail, or a child, or any number of other things) thousands of times in my lifetime, without the worry of ice. Even though one side of my brain knew there was ice today, the other side of my brain was responding to the crisis at hand and doing things on autopilot.

So what does this have to do with organizing or creating change in your life? A whole lot, really. See, just because you intend to get organized or go for some other big goal this year, it doesn’t mean you will do as you intend one hundred percent of the time. Nope, sometimes you will forget, or uh, slip-up—it’s just part of the learning process.

There’s a whole other side of you at play—the side that’s operating based on habit and deeply ingrained ways of doing things just as you’ve always done. That part of you has to be reminded from time to time that there are new rules now. You will forget to sort the mail every single day, or put your things away as soon as you’re done using them, or drink more water, or eat healthier food. You’ll simply fall back to your habitual way of doing things.

The trick is to recognize that forgetting is just part of the learning process; it is not a personal failure. Just as when I was laying on the concrete staring at the sky saying “ouch, right, it’s icy today” you too will get reminders when you forget about your newly intended goal or habit. You will slip-up. Look at these slip-ups as gifts— opportunities to pick yourself up and dust yourself off, knowing that next time you’ll be much more likely to remember that things are slippery when frozen.


What big goal are you going after this year? If you’re losing steam with your New Year's resolutions or you’d love to set a goal but the whole process sounds just a tad bit scary, join me in How to Achieve Your Goals and Create a Life You Love. I’ll show you how to go for your goals and have loads of fun in the process! Class began yesterday, so sign up today.

January 23, 2009

organized knitting

Back in December I mentioned that I had taken up a knitting. Heidi commented "OMG, you are knitting!! That is awesome! Now you can tell all us readers how to organize our hordes of yarn. :-) What did you pick for your first project and where did you get the yarn?"

So...I thought I would share. Especially now that my first project is complete. Want to see?


A green scarf was project number one. I had to start it over a few times because I still haven't figured out how to get myself out of a pickle when I'm knitting. If I make a mistake and notice it and try to fix turns into a big unraveling of stitches. Sometimes I just didn't know how to stop the I unraveled it all and just started over. But you know what...I didn't really mind. I seem to enjoy the process of knitting as much as the end product.

So it's funny Heidi asked about how to organize yarn and stuff. I'm still at that blissful stage of a new hobby where I really don't have much of a clue as to my options and I don't own much gear. For the scarf project I went to Michael's, pulled my cell phone out of my purse and called my friend Janine. Janine helped me figure out that worsted weight yarn is different from chunky (which seems kind of obvious now) and if I look on the back of the yarn it will help me figure out how much yarn to get for my project and what size needles to use and handy stuff like that. (So nice to have a knitting consultant programmed in your cell phone.) So, I grabbed a couple of packages of green yarn, a set of size 9 bamboo needles, and on my way I went.

At this point, my entire collection of knitting supplies is stored like this, in a ceramic bowl on a cabinet in my family room.

Yarn - 1 

This bowl of yarn and needles includes my daughter's yarn, too. In fact most of it is hers. I'm liking the simplicity of these early days in a new hobby...not much to store, organize or keep track of.

So...if you knit I'd love to know what you do. What projects are your favorites? How do you store your supplies? What's your favorite yarn to use? What's your favorite knitting book? Do you like bamboo needles or some other kind? Bamboo is my favorite so far...need to get a longer pair for my next project, a hat for my daughter.

I'm a rookie at this...and would love to hear any thoughts you want to share about knitting. Are there things you wish you had known when you started? Do you know any good on-line resources for knitting supplies or patterns? What's a good easy project for someone who realizes there are only so many scarves that one family needs? Oh, and what's a good project for a boy? I made my daughter a scarf and my son wants something. He is ten...and I just haven't a clue what he might like. But I know it would mean a lot to him. So if you have any ideas on a knitting project that's easy and suitable for a rookie knitter but good for a ten year old boy to receive, I'd love to hear it.  

Its anything and everything knitting today on the Creative Organizing blog. Can't wait to hear what you have to share! ;)  

January 22, 2009

Inspired by Carolyn

I met Carolyn almost a year ago. She contacted me via email as many of my potential clients do. She asked the regular questions…how does it work? How do we get started? Things like that.

Like many other prospective clients, Carolyn had a signature file with a web link. This is where things got different. The web link was for Carolyn’s Compassionate Children, a non-profit organization founded by the very same Carolyn who was emailing me about organizing coaching. The most remarkable part? Carolyn founded this organization at age 15! I was (and continue to be) completely in awe of Carolyn.
Carolyn started Carolyn’s Compassionate Children after visiting a camp for children with cancer. She was so moved by the experience that she wanted to help. So she did what any other 15 year old would do—she set up a non-profit organization to help. The goal of her organization was to help alleviate the isolation children with cancer face by matching cancer patients with pen pals.

Over the past ten years the organization has grown and now provides scholarships for young adult cancer survivors who would have a difficult (if not impossible) time financing their college educations because of their medical bills. You can learn more about the scholarship program here.

Carolyn is a truly remarkable person. She constantly looks for ways to improve herself so she can give even more to others. Right now, she is in her first year of graduate school at Harvard, pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology. She studies and researches the psychological impacts of cancer on the patient. She is also working on a book about cancer survivorship that will be published in August.

Carolyn is truly an inspiring person.

I’m sharing this with you now in hopes that you will take a minute to vote for Carolyn. Carolyn has been nominated as a top ten finalist in the NIKE Give 100% Contest. Carolyn is someone who always gives 100% and she started doing so at age 15.

The voting ends tomorrow January, 23rd…so please take a moment to vote now.

Thank you!

January 15, 2009

would you rather...

go to the grocery store or clean your house?

I need to do both tonight and would much, much rather clean than grocery shop. I think this shift happened right around the time milk hit $3 a gallon. Or maybe it was at the $4 mark.

Hello. Did anyone tell the cows that gas prices went back down? Perhaps the cows could let up on the milk prices now, too. That would be nice.

In other kids were off school today. And they're off again tomorrow. Due to cold.

It is cold...but is it THAT cold? I don't remember cold days back in Michigan...

The cold is starting to get to us...cabin fever of sorts, yet ironically I'm not jumping at my chance to go out into the cold, cold world and grocery shop. Hmmm...I'm starting to reconsider.

So seriously, which would you rather do...groceries or cleaning? And if you have a cure for cabin fever, well, I'd love to hear that, too. Hope you're warm and well...

January 14, 2009

the eye candy book

Continuing with the organizing books's my favorite eye candy book: Pottery Barn Storage & Display. It's loaded with ideas for creatively storing your items and using storage as display throughout your spaces. The photography is simply you would expect from Pottery Barn. It's very soothing to simply flip through and look at all the photography.


Do you have this or any of the other Pottery Barn Design Library series? I love the whole series, by the way. Or do you have another favorite eye candy organizing book?

January 11, 2009

favorite organizing books - post two

Thanks for all the comments on the last post about organizing books. You all reminded me of some of my other favorites and I learned about some new books, too. Great fun all this sharing of favorite organizing books. So if you haven't shared yours yet, feel free to jump in and share on this post. next organizing book to share (and these are in no order by the way...I like them all for different reasons) is SORTED! The Ultimate Guide to Organising Your Life - Once And For All by Lissanne Oliver. As you may have guessed by the spelling of the word organizing, Lissanne is also from Australia. (Interesting, isn't it?) And while this is one of the things I like about the book, her Australian way of putting things, I love many other things about it, too.


For is a tiny little thing measuring just 5 1/4" by 6 3/4". Which is important because it makes this whole topic of getting organized feel very doable. But what's better is that it lives up to it's size. Lissanne does in fact make getting organized very doable. She spends about fifty pages on the basics...why and how to get sorted (a.k.a. organized) and provides truths and techniques. Then, the next 140 pages are dedicated to recipes—simple to follow, step-by-step instructions for organizing various areas of your life—from paperwork to living areas. Lissanne has a knack for boiling down organizing projects to what is essential, and by following her recipes it's easy to take action on the various projects in your home.

The best part of all is that Lissanne is complete sweetheart. I met her at the NAPO convention last spring and she had her little book sitting there next to her...and I just had to have it! It called to me from across the room. But not to worry, you don't have to stalk Lissanne at a convention to get a copy of your own. The Australian version of this book, the one I have, is available via the link above. An Americanized version is hot off the press and now available at Barnes and Noble stores. So now you, too, can go forth and get sorted!

January 07, 2009

Favorite Organizing Books

Can reading a book change your life? Yes. If you take the actions that the author suggests in the book. Simply reading and absorbing the information in an organizing book (or any other self-improvement book for that matter) will only change your outlook and knowledge on the topic. Without getting up out of your chair and taking action on what you just read…your home won’t be any more organized.

In the next couple of posts I plan to share some of my favorite organizing books. If you’re looking to get more organized and you love to do-it-yourself, books are an excellent tool in your organizers tool bag, especially if you’re self motivated. In other words, books work really well if you can get yourself up off that chair and start taking action!

Today I’ll share one of my very favorite organizing books, It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh.


The reason this book ranks at the top of my list is because it is so inspiring. You literally want to jump up out of your seat and start eliminating the clutter now! And you want to really dig deep into the depths of that clutter and just let it all go. Peter also provides excellent advice for navigating through the organizing process with a loved-one. If you share your home with someone who has a different tolerance level for clutter than you do, Peter offers excellent advice on how to broach this subject with your loved-one and make progress together.

If you’re looking for a book to kick-start your organizing efforts and motivate you to really declutter your home, give It's All Too Much a try. It’s an enjoyable read in and of itself, but even more so if you can imagine Peter is speaking to you in his oh-so wonderful Australian accent. ;)

What’s your favorite organizing book? How did it change your life or your approach to organizing? I’d love to hear.

January 01, 2009

did you resolve to get organized?

I have to say, I love January. The time period from Halloween until New Year's Eve is just jam-packed. Sure it's packed with really fun stuff...but it's packed none the less.

But when January hits...the calendar is a bit more manageable. Plus, its the season of resolutions and getting organized. I'm completely in my element. ;)

So how about you welcome the arrival of January and the New Year with open arms like I do? Do you set resolutions? Do yours involve getting organized?

If you’re looking to get more organized this year, you’re not alone. And you don’t have to go it alone, either.  There are a number of resources, classes, and books available to help you get organized. Find a resource that works for you and will help you achieve your resolution this year. In the next couple of posts, I’ll be sharing resources that can help you get organized. I'll start by sharing info on the on-line workshops I’m participating in this month that will help you keep your resolution to get organized.

The first is Clear Out the Holiday Clutter. This workshop started the day after Christmas and stays open through January 16th. If you’re still surrounded by holiday clutter like new gifts that still need a home or holiday decor, Clear Out the Holiday Clutter was designed with you in mind. You'll get ideas for all your holiday organizing needs, including ideas for storing all your holiday items---from garland to greeting cards. At just $16 it’s a low cost way to try out on-line organizing workshops.

What if you’re surrounded by creative clutter and scrapbook supply chaos? Well, there’s a workshop for you, too. Check out Wendy Smedley’s workshop on Big Picture Scrapbooking based on the book we co-authored together. This year I’m joining Wendy and providing some fun bonus content for class participants. Registration for this workshop closes on January 7, 2009 at 10:00pm PST.

Now what if your whole house (or several rooms) could use an organizing spruce-up? Organizing 101 is the workshop for you. In this workshop, you’ll learn basic organizing techniques and strategies that you can apply to any project or room in your home. You’ll get past that overwhelmed feeling and get busy eliminating the clutter in your home. The next session of Organizing 101 begins January 13th.


If you’re thinking resolutions aren’t for you (because they never seem to stick), then the workshop for you is How to Achieve Your Goals and Create a Life You Love. In this workshop, you'll learn how to set and achieve your goals, making 2009 the best year yet!


In a nutshell, on-line workshops give you added inspiration and motivation and a supportive community, helping ensure you achieve your resolution this year. I hope to see you in one of these workshops.

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