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January 31, 2011

Organizing Quick Tip: Corral Valentine’s Day Clutter

This week’s quick tip is sponsored by the online workshop Organize Your Paper Clutter. Put an end to paper clutter and the stress that comes along with it—sign up today to take advantage of early-bird savings!


With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, now is a great time to set up a Valentine card mini-zone. Whether you have little ones who will be taking Valentine’s to school, or you’ll be sending Valentines of your own, getting organized with a mini-zone will help you save time and minimize paper clutter.



To create a Valentine card-sending mini-zone, corral together your essential supplies. If you’ll be making cards by hand, pull out items like cardstock, Valentine-themed paper, envelopes, glue stick, scissors, a portable paper trimmer, paper punches, craft stamps and ink pads. (If you’re using premade cards, simply pick these up from the store.) Next gather pens, markers, stickers, the class list (or your address book), postage stamps, and so on and corral them into an oval metal bucket or a rectangular plastic bin. Use drinking cups, small metal pails or ceramic pots to keep scissors, pens and markers upright and easily accessible.


Now that you’re organized, the process of creating and sending Valentines will be simple and fun. You can work on the project in small bits of time, while keeping project clutter to a minimum!




January 30, 2011

Weekend Check-In

Happy Monday to you...or Sunday night if you're checking in early like I am. We're bracing for a winter storm here, so I thought I'd get my Monday started early and start the check-in thread. Here's my weekend update:


Play List

  • Boot camp. Check! Turns out I was just was Collin who was coming down with something. 
  • Read. Nope, but I did watch a great movie. :)
  • Look for photos for my goals board. Check!
  • Make Eggplant Parmesan for dinner. Check, though it wasn't as good as when I make it with eggplant from the farmer's market. Oh well...


To Finish

  • Laundry. Check!
  • Clean. Check! 


I hope you had a great weekend, too! Remember to post how you did with your weekend to-do list in the comments. I look forward to reading about your weekend.


Have a happy Monday..and keep your fingers crossed for a smaller than expected winter storm. :) 

January 28, 2011

Get Organized for the Weekend with Finish It Friday

Wow, it’s Friday again…and late afternoon on Friday! I hope you had a great week. Who is up for Finish It Friday this weekend? If you’re looking for an extra boost of motivation to finish up the items on your weekend to-do list, simply post your list in the comments and check back here on Monday to report your progress!


I’m feeling a bit off this afternoon (not sure if I’m coming down with something or just tired from the week) so I’m going with the short and sweet approach to my Finish It Friday list. Here’s what’s on tap:


Play List

  • Boot camp. (Assuming I'm just tired!)
  • Read.
  • Look for photos for my goals board.
  • Make Eggplant Parmesan for dinner. (Yum!)

To-do-list-copyright-simplify101 To Finish

  • Laundry
  • Clean

I'm sure all add other things as I'm feeling inspired to do so, but that's a good start for now. :)


What’s on your to-do list this weekend? Thanks for playing along!

January 25, 2011

What to Do about Other People's Clutter

The following blog post—What to Do about Other People’s Clutter—was originally published earlier this month via my email newsletter. (If you don’t yet subscribe, you can sign up here.) I wanted to publish this as a blog post for a couple of reasons. First, when I blogged about other people’s clutter in this post called thoughts on clutter and in this follow up post it was clear that this topic struck a chord. It seems to be a universal truth that other people’s clutter is more unsettling (okay—annoying!) than our own clutter. Second, a new session of my online workshop Organizing 101: Learn How to Get Organized begins today and (as I mention in the article) other people’s clutter is always a hot topic of discussion in the private workshop forum. So I thought it would be fun to run this article on the blog…and get your thoughts on other people’s clutter. Is this an obstacle on your organizing journey? If so, how do you handle it? I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for sharing. Now, on to the article! 


In nearly every session of my online workshop, Organizing 101: Learn How to Get Organized and Quick + Simple Clutter Control, someone asks: What can I do about so-and-so’s clutter? While “so-and-so” changes from workshop to workshop—sometimes it’s a husband, other times it’s a roommate, and often so-and-so is a son or a daughter—the essence of the question is always the same: If I’m going to put in the time and effort to get organized and declutter my home, how can I make sure my efforts aren’t undermined by the clutter bug(s) that live with me?


My answer may surprise you. What I always suggest is that at the onset, instead of worrying about the other clutter-bugs in your home, focus solely on you and your clutter. Now if other people in your home are contributing to the clutter situation, it’s very likely that their clutter is far more noticeable and annoying to you than your own clutter. This is why your instinct is to worry about them. But, here’s the thing: If there’s any clutter in your home with your name on it, if your so-and-so isn’t noticing it now, he most definitely will when you ask him to do something about his clutter.


When you start with yourself, you will be standing on solid ground when you ask other people to jump on the clutter-busting bandwagon later on. Furthermore, you start the process of showing your family what is now expected in your home. Begin by focusing on spaces that are yours and yours alone—such as your side of the bedroom or your craft space or your drawer in the bathroom or the laundry room, if that is your domain. This will help remove the fear that someone else will mess up your hard work—since they don’t use this space anyway -- and it also shows that you’re creating these changes for you, which sends a very powerful message as well.


Share your journey. As you start with your own pockets of clutter, share your decluttering journey with your family. Explain why you’re putting in the time and effort to declutter your spaces and get organized. Tell your family members the benefits you intend to create. Then, as you make progress on your projects, share your successes and even your roadblocks with them. Share how good it feels to clear clutter and take steps forward on an important goal. Show your family members your organized spaces so they can see how great your spaces look. In short, share your enthusiasm…because enthusiasm is contagious.


Lead by example. When you declutter a room, the energy in that room shifts...and others will feel it, too, even if they weren't involved in the decluttering process. As you continue on your personal organizing journey, you may begin to see, as many past participants of my online workshops have found, that others will naturally jump on the organizing bandwagon! As they hear about and see and feel the benefits you’re creating, they just may want some of that for themselves. But if not, don’t get discouraged. Simply continue on with your journey, tackling your organizing projects and creating new organized habits.


Getting your clutter-bugs on board. Once you’re in control of your own clutter, then you’ll be sending a consistent message about the new rules of engagement in your home. If the clutter-bug(s) haven’t jumped on board on their own, this is the time to sit down and have a conversation with him, her or them. Share what you want and review the benefits you’ve experienced as a result of your organizing journey. Tell them how much more energized, yet calm and peaceful, you feel now. Share with them how confident you feel when someone goes into one of your organized areas, and tell them how much more time you have now because you no longer search through stacks and piles for your things. In short, explain how worthwhile your decluttering efforts have been for you.


Ask and listen. Next, ask, and really listen to, what your family members want. Perhaps the people you share your home with have a different clutter comfort zone than you. It’s possible that your clutter-bugs don't notice when their own things are out and cluttering up your space. If leaving things out is an automatic habit, then they may not even see it. Because of this, during your conversation make it your goal to reach an agreement that is a better place for both of you—one that gets you closer to your comfort zone, while recognizing and respecting that the people you share your home with may have a different perspective. You may find that your family’s comfort zone changes over time as they begin taking action on their own clutter.


Offer support. Once you and your so-and-sos are on the same page in terms of the goal you're both after, then ask how you can support him, her or them in achieving the new goal. It's possible your clutter-bugs may need help setting up new systems, as well creating new habits. In other words, after you talk about how you want things to be, it will still take time for those new habits to cement. If you know that up front and act as a support system, it will help all of you.


Take it one step at a time. When you’re at this point in the process, you’ll know that organizing is a combination of projects and habits. Just as you embarked on your organizing journey one step at time, give your family members permission to do the same. Notice their progress, and say thank you when you see them taking steps in the direction of your clutter comfort zone. As a past workshop participant said: "’Thanks’ makes a huge difference. It makes for a positive, cooperative atmosphere in our home, which is the ultimate goal.” I couldn’t agree more.


Okay, now it's your turn. What are your thoughts on other people's clutter? Thanks for joining the conversation.

January 24, 2011

Monday Morning Check In

Happy Monday morning my friends! I hope you had a great weekend full of fun and getting things done. My weekend was good. Unexpectedly we spent half of both Saturday and Sunday at a basketball tournament—so the weekend was different than expected in a more fun sort of way. I’m really glad I kept my list short this weekend, since my time was cut short, too. Okay, here’s my update:

To Finish


  • Laundry. (Check. Though I’m still doing laundry this morning because I had to wash a basketball uniform a couple of extra times this weekend. So…I’m actually going to be ahead on the laundry game this week. Woohoo!)
  • Office paper project. (Check. I made good progress here, though technically I’m not finished. But, I feel good about the progress I did make. The rest of the project will be finished up naturally, as I work on and finish up some projects.)

Play List

  • Read. (Check. I did quite a bit of reading in the car on the way to and from the basketball tournament.)
  • Relax with my family. (Check. Check. Check. I did lots of good relaxing this weekend including a four episode Oprah marathon and some card playing with the kids. Really fun.)  
  • Organize / decorate another binder. (Check.)
  • Boot Camp. (Check. And I’m much less sore this week than I was last week. Woohoo—this is progress!)


How was your weekend? I can’t wait to hear! Thanks again for playing along and inspiring me to have more fun and get more done. :)

January 21, 2011

Get Organized for the Weekend: It’s Finish It Friday!

Woohoo! I’m really happy that it is Friday. Around here it’s quite snowy—which I love. The kids are off school today for the second day this week, so its feeling like it’s going to be a “stay inside, relax, and get a few things done” kind of weekend.  This weekend I’m going to keep my list quite short so I can focus my energy on finishing up my office paper organizing project, and so I can set myself up for success. So here’s what’s on my lists this weekend:


Play List

  • Read
  • Relax with my family
  • Organize / decorate another binder. (Fun part of office / paper project.)
  • Boot Camp. My muscles are finally not sore. (I know—it took almost a week for the pain to go away.) And now it’s time to go back for a second round of punishment, er, I mean fun! ;) Wish me luck. This time will be even more challenging since I now know what I’m getting myself into.

To-do-list-copyright-simplify101 To Finish

  • Laundry.
  • Office paper project.


Before I say goodbye for the weekend, I want to talk about laundry a bit. I know that laundry is a source of frustration for many of my in-home organizing and coaching clients, as well as for many people who take my online workshops. One of the reasons that you see laundry on my list every week is because I make it a point to get completely caught up on laundry every single weekend. And this works really well for me. Here’s why. First, it means that laundry never piles up. There is never more than one week’s worth of laundry to do at a time…so laundry never gets overwhelming. Second, it allows me to give myself a check mark—and I find check marks very motivating. When that last load of the week is dry, folded, and put away, there’s a sense of accomplishment. The laundry is done! Sure, within minutes somewhere in the house a hamper has another pair of socks added to it…but for that brief moment in time, laundry really was finished and I got my check mark. Ahh.... :)


Okay…that’s all I’ve got for laundry chat today.  So now…it’s on to your to-do lists! Please share your plans in the comments, and then check back here on Monday to let us know how things went. If you’ve never tried Finish It Friday before, give it a try this weekend! Tap into the power of accountability…and see how it works for you. I hope you have a terrific weekend.

January 17, 2011

The Power of Accountability / Monday Morning Check-In

I mentioned on Friday that I was a bit terrified at the idea of going to the Boot Camp Conditioning class on Saturday morning. Well, this feeling stuck with me right through the start of class. Here’s a little snap shot of my self-talk on Saturday morning.


I’m not in that great of shape. What was I thinking when I said I would do this? It’s going to be hard. I’m going to look foolish because I don’t know what goes on in this class. What kinds of exercises do they do? What if I can’t do it? I won’t be able to keep up. I wish I hadn’t blogged about this…because then I wouldn’t go.


Does any of this sound familiar? Isn’t it interesting how we crave change and yet at the same time there’s that little voice that urges us to stay right where we are in our comfort zone? That’s where the power of accountability comes in. See, the real reason I went to Boot Camp on Saturday morning is because I told everyone who reads this blog that I was going to do so. I was accountable to all of you, and that gave me the extra incentive to tell the little voice in my head to hush—I am going to boot camp whether you like it or not! So what if I have to go at my own pace—everyone else there had their first class, too. It’s okay if I’m not where they are. I’ll figure it out, and I will be okay.


Keep the power of accountability in mind the next time you crave change. Whether your goal is to get more organized or to make some other healthy change in your life, in the beginning it is going to feel uncomfortable. You may not know what to expect, like I didn’t know what to expect in Boot Camp. Or you may anticipate things about the process that are going to be uncomfortable, and that little voice in your head doesn’t want that for you. She wants things to stay the same. She wants you to spend your Saturday morning reading a magazine and watching your daughter exercise instead of exercising yourself—just as you’ve done every other Saturday. Likewise, that little voice wants you to ignore the clutter a day longer, because really, it’s quite comfortable here in front of the computer, or sitting on the couch reading a book. You know that voice, right?


If you want something different, you have to find a way to silence that little voice or get her to change her message to one that supports you as you make change. Sure, she’ll chime in with her old messages from time to time, but when you decide what you want, and then, hold yourself accountable to someone other than yourself, you take away some of the power of that little voice. I see this all the time with my one-on-one coaching, in my online workshops, and here with Finish it Friday. Accountability helps us create change.


If you haven’t tapped into the power of accountability, why not give Finish It Friday a try next week? You just may find yourself in boot camp…or tackling that room in your home that really needs an organizing intervention…or taking care of some other nagging task that’s been lingering on your to-do list for far too long…or who knows what you’ll take on! It’d be fun to see though, wouldn’t it?


Okay…on to the weekly check-in.


Play List

  • Decorate 3-ring binders. (I did one…which is progress!)
  • Go to a Boot Camp Conditioning class. (Check! And yes, I do feel it still. I have become reacquainted with some muscles I didn’t know I had!)
  • Relax and hangout with my family. (Check!)

To Finish

  • Start and finish cleaning the house. (I’ll give myself a small check here. The house is cleaner than it was on Friday.)
  • Finish laundry. (Check!)
  • Finish prep work necessary to drop off paperwork for our biz tax return. (My part of this project is as far as it can go for now. I will finish up the rest today.)
  • Finish office decluttering / organizing project. (Made progress. I sorted the papers in one of three binders that just need to be gone through and updated. Will keep working on this! Again, glad for the power of accountability.)
  • Collect some items for a charity pickup next week. (I have some items set aside but plan to do another sweep-through before the pick up on Wednesday.)
  • Get birthday party gift. (Check!)


Alright, it’s your turn! How did you do with your lists this weekend? Thanks so much for sharing. Enjoy your Monday!

January 14, 2011

Get Organized for the Weekend with Finish It Friday

Happy Friday morning to you! I hope you had a terrific week. We had two snow days this week…and even better—two snow evenings (with cancelled evening activities.) :) And now its Friday and time to share our to-do lists again. What’s on your to-do list this weekend? Here’s mine:


Play List

  • Decorate 3-ring binders. (Part of my office project.) 
  • Go to a Bootcamp Conditioning class. (I have to admit that I’m wondering if I’ll consider this “play” during the class. I'm excited...and slightly terrified.)
  • Relax and hangout with my family.

To-do-list-copyright-simplify101 To Finish

  • Start and finish cleaning the house.
  • Finish laundry. 
  • Finish prep work necessary to drop off paperwork for our biz tax return. 
  • Finish office decluttering / organizing project.
  • Collect some items for a charity pickup next week.
  • Get birthday party gift.

It’s going to be busy! Can’t wait to hear what’s on your list this weekend. Thanks for playing along! Have a terrific weekend. See you back here on Monday for the our weekly check-in.

January 13, 2011

Stay Energized in January: weekly quick tip

After all the busyness and excitement of the holidays, January can be a tough month to get through.  In the northern hemisphere, spring seems far away and the reality of winter really sets in. If you have the mid-January blahs, here are some ideas to help you get energized and stay that way all month long.


Plan something to look forward to. This is a great way to boost your energy and give you something positive to devote your time and attention to. Best yet, your plan doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive to be effective! Plan a night in with friends for movies and popcorn or to watch the Super Bowl. Or figure out your plans for Valentine’s weekend early this year…so you have something to anticipate in the weeks ahead.


Create a change of scenery. January is a great time to rearrange the furniture or make other small changes inside that give your eyes something new to enjoy. Invest in some new throw pillows, a cozy blanket or even some new storage containers. For a free option, simply declutter your books or knickknack collection to create a bit more white space in your home. 


Set a goal and take steps to make it happen! Whether you want to get more organized, eat healthier or change your financial situation, goals give your life purpose and meaning—even in January! Create a list of changes you’d like to make in the year ahead, and then, pick one goal to focus on first. Take small steps in the direction of your goal, and you’ll see your energy shift as you sink your teeth into creating this positive change in your life.


If you’re feeling a bit blah this January—do something different! The change of pace, scenery and focus will lift your spirits and it might just make January soar on by. How do you stay energized in January? I'd love to hear what works for you! Thanks for sharing.

January 10, 2011

Monday Morning Check-in or Sometimes Plan B is the Better Plan

Happy Monday morning to you! I hope yours was a terrific weekend. Mine was just didn’t go as per the original plan. Sometimes it’s important to adjust and respond to new or more important priorities. In many ways, that’s what this weekend was about for me. I was busy and productive, and my weekend included time to relax, too. But I just didn’t work on all the things that I had planned to work on or finish. How about you? Did you have unexpected but important things come up that caused you to create a Plan B? When that happens, how do you feel about it?

I try not to beat myself up in situations like this, because beating myself up doesn’t help anything. It just makes me feel bad and makes me less productive. Plus, the decision to make a new plan was in response to new information. For example, I intentionally chose to work on other projects, like an important business project, and I chose to enjoy the process of doing some of the things on my to-do list (such as running errands with my daughter) instead of just rushing to get them done. Above all, for me this weekend was about not feeling rushed and not feeling bad. It was my time to relax and restore, and if I stressed about my to-do list, well, I would be here on Monday morning feeling worse than I did on Friday.


It’s helpful to remember that sometimes Plan B is the better plan. And while the B in Plan B doesn’t really stand for better…maybe it should. Sometimes a change in plans is truly the better decision.


Alright…here’s my update.


Play List

  • Create a list of 101 dreams. This is something I gave a lot of thought to over the weekend (and loved this process) but I haven’t yet captured my dreams on my list. I need quiet time to really let myself dream and capture these thoughts on paper, and this weekend didn’t involve much alone time. So, the ideas are percolating (which is fun) and my goal is to capture everything in writing during some quiet time during the week. I’m very excited to do this project.
  • Look through magazines for pictures for my goals board. Check! Though there is still more of this to do…I haven’t found everything I’m looking for yet.

To Finish List

  • Laundry. Check! And it was done on Saturday. Love that!
  • Clean the house. Check! The kids and I tackled the house on Friday evening. I love starting the weekend with a clean house. 
  • Run errands. Check! 
  • Finish my office organizing project. The files are finished; the binders aren’t. I selected some scrapbook paper to fancy up my binders a bit. So now I have one more motivator to finish this project…next weekend. :)


So how did your weekend go? And how do you respond when things don’t go as planned? Do you usually feel okay about it…or are you prone to beating yourself up a bit? Thanks for sharing. I hope you have a great Monday!

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