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April 29, 2011

Your May Get Organized Checklist

Wow, Sunday is May 1st, the start of my favorite month of the year! It’s my birthday month, and my anniversary month, but even more, May is usually a great month to spend some time outside. What's on your to-do list this May? Here’s this month’s Get Organized checklist.


Checklist-copyright-simplify101 May Get Organized Checklist


Set your goals for the month.


Create some just-for-fun goals for the summer. That’s right—goals don’t have to be just about serious stuff. With summer just around the corner, why not set some just-for-fun goals for the summer?

Check your monthly tickler folder.  And distribute papers to the appropriate daily folder.

Declutter + organize your recipes. Set-up or update your recipe binder.  Here are a few old posts about recipe binders and organizing recipes.

organizing recipes

create a seasonal recipe binder

create a menu planning command central binder


Declutter + organize the garage or garden shed. Around here, May is a great time to tackle outdoor organizing projects like the garage or garden shed. Check out these posts for more ideas on organizing your garage or garden shed:

Organizing the Garden Tool Shed

The Organized Garage
Make a list of outdoor home improvement projects you’d like to do this summer. Take a tour outside your home and make a to-do list. My list includes painting our shutters and possibly the front door. But first…I have to decide on a color!

Create a summer gear mini zone.  Establish a spot in your home for summer essentials like sunglasses, sunscreen, bug repellants, lip balm, and other items your family needs for summer outings. 


Celebrate the Mom’s and Grandma’s in your life on Mother’s Day. 


Document your school you’ll remember what worked when school starts again.  The first couple of weeks back to school are always a bit clunky around here as I try to tweak the morning routine. But this late in the school year, it’s smooth sailing. This year, I’m going to document our morning routine…so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel this fall. 

Schedule summer appointments such as school or camp physicals, dentist appointments, etc.

Let go of something that is weighing you down. This could be a physical item in your home—something that you’re holding onto out of guilt or a sense of obligation. Or this could be an ongoing time commitment. Just pick one boat anchor in your life this month…and let it go!  

Spend some time outdoors having fun! That’s right, make sure to take time to enjoy May and all it has to offer!


Here is the PDF for this month's checklist:  May - checklist. (You will need Adobe Reader to open the file. You can get that here: I hope you have a great month! I'd love to hear what's on your May to-do list. Thanks for sharing!


This post is part of an ongoing series of posts that shares a monthly checklist of organizing projects to do in the month ahead. If you’d like even more specific ideas to declutter your home, Quick + Simple Clutter Control is just getting underway. The spring session includes all new daily decluttering and spring cleaning prompts in the online forum. There’s still plenty of time to join if you’d like an extra dose of ideas, inspiration and accountability to get your projects done!


What are your plans for the weekend?

It’s hard to believe, but another Friday is here! The weeks go fast this time of year, with the end of the school year fast approaching…but this week was ultra fast for me! How about you? Was your week a quick one?

So now it’s time to plan for the weekend. My desire this weekend is to keep things flexible. There are plenty of options for things to do around this house of mine…and I want to see what feels fun when I wake up on Saturday morning. Do you ever do that? Does it work well for you? Sometimes I get more done when I let inspiration be my guide…instead of deciding what I’m going to do ahead of time. So that’s my plan for this weekend, plus I’ll do my regular weekend to-dos. (I’ll let you know how it goes on Monday.)


Play List

  • Boot camp.

To-do-list-copyright-simplify101 To Finish

  • Laundry.
  • Cleaning.
  • Plan meals for the week.

Wow…that feels pretty good! A nice short list. I can’t wait to see what I feel like doing and what I get done. They’re predicting rain (again!) so it could be a great weekend to stay inside and get some stuff done. (And, of course, have some fun.)

What are your plans this weekend? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. I hope you have a great weekend! 

April 28, 2011

Are You Craving a Change?

I don’t know anyone who is 100% satisfied with their life. Do you? At some level, everyone I know wants to create some sort of change in their life. People reading this blog are interested in changing the way their homes are organized. Others want to change the number on the bathroom scale. Others want to change the numbers on their bank balances. This desire to create change—and to make our lives better—is widespread, maybe even universal. Are you craving a change right now?


I’d love to know in the comments what things you would like to change about your home and life. I’m currently working on a few “change projects” of my own. I’m in spring cleaning mode and so I’m changing the way my home looks on the inside. Soon I’ll be making some changes to my yard by planting some flowers and some vegetables. (Yay!)  And I’m on an ongoing quest to change how I feel through exercise and better eating. How about you? What changes are you working on right now?


Today I’m sending out my monthly newsletter which includes an article that shares seven strategies for creating change. If you don’t yet receive my monthly newsletter you can sign up here. Or, you can read Seven Strategies to Create Change online. I hope you enjoy the article and that the ideas inspire you to create change faster than you thought possible.


I'd love to hear about the changes you're making right now. Thanks for sharing!

April 26, 2011

Workshop Q&A: How to Handle Decluttering Inconsistencies

Today’s blog post is a question that was raised in a prior session of Quick & Simple Clutter Control. I think it demonstrates an excellent point:  when it comes to decluttering all things are not created equal.

Questionmark_copyright_simplify101 Aby - I have really noticed while working on this session that I don't have a consistent approach to decluttering. Some things I can easily let go of and others I can't seem to. The other day I purchased a whole bunch of new dish towels as ours were looking pretty tired. After I washed up the new ones and went to throw the old ones out I had a hard time throwing them. I am not sure why I struggle with this - I guess this isn't really a question, just a statement that I have hopeless moments with decluttering at times.


Here was my reply:  Some of the content from the Organizing 101 workshop (especially, the lesson on roadblocks) might help you pinpoint what is going on here. My guess is that deep down you are struggling with the fact that these items are still useful, and so it's hard to let them go. But, the reason you decided to replace them is because you don't love how they look anymore, so they don't make you feel great anymore. I bet letting go of them would feel good.



Around here you can donate old towels to the Humane Society. I wonder if finding a good happy home for these still useful items would help you let go.


As a general statement, decluttering isn't a linear process. There are hills and valleys. Sometimes we're climbing up the hill and sometimes we're sailing down the hill and it's lots of fun! It's okay and natural if some things are easier to let go of than others. Some things simply have a stronger pull on us than others.


It is for this reason that I recommend that when you’re starting out on your decluttering journey, you start with the easy stuff—the items that don’t have a strong pull on your heartstrings. This will allow you to make progress and enjoy the great feelings and sense of relief that comes from decluttering. This in turn fuels your motivation to keep decluttering. Over time, many of the items that once seemed hard to let go of become easier.


But…there will always be items that tug at our heartstrings stronger than others. When you get to the root cause of why an item has a hold on you (or as I like to say, when you figure out what your roadblock is) then you can develop strategies that make it easier to let go.


Have you noticed this, too—that some things are easier to let go of than others? Which items most tug at your heartstrings when decluttering?

April 25, 2011

Monday Check In

Happy Monday to you! I hope you had a great weekend. This is the place to share your weekend updates! I look forward to hearing how your weekend went. Here's my update:


Play List

  • Boot camp. Check!
  • Take photos for photography class. Check!


  • Make Jay’s birthday cake. Check! Kailea and I made a carrot cake yesterday. Just need to add the frosting this afternoon.

(Here's a picture of the cake making in-process. Wasn't sure how to shred baby carrots...this actually worked!)

  • Dye Easter eggs. Check!



To Finish

  • Finish getting ready for Easter and Jay’s birthday. Check!
  • Start + finish laundry. Almost a check – the last load is in the dryer.
  • Start + finish some light cleaning. Check! (Okay…the kids get credit for this one! Thanks guys.) 
  • Plan weekly menu + shop for groceries. Check!


It was a really nice weekend. (I even squeezed in a nap on the couch with Kailea. It really doesn't get better than that.) I hope your weekend was great, too. Thanks for joining me for Finish It Friday. :)

April 22, 2011

selling items when decluttering

As I mentioned in my Finish It Friday blog post, we are gearing up for the next session of Quick + Simple Clutter Control. If you’ve never taken one of my online workshops before, then you may not know that part of what is included with each workshop is access to a private part of the simplify 101 website. This is the place where classmates interact with one another to share progress on their organizing and decluttering projects, and to motivate and help their classmates. In addition, this is the place where workshop participants can ask me questions about the lesson concepts so they can keep moving forward on their organizing journey. And there’s lots of great stuff that happens in the forums, so I thought I’d start sharing some of it out here on my blog.

The following question is one that was asked in a previous session of Quick + Simple Clutter Control. It has to do with the (very common) desire to sell items as part of the decluttering process or in other words, convert clutter into cash.


Questionmark_copyright_simplify101 I have a large collection of items that could make some money online, at a consignment sale/shop, garage sale, or something of the like. I donate a lot of items and enjoy doing so, but often times my thought is to try to sell it first. With this rationale, nothing is moving and more is piling up. How would you suggest sorting and handling all these items knowing that time is a huge issue? Money is a big issue with our family now too and I know that we have some valuable stuff and you would think that we could carve some time out to commit to this, but it's difficult when it seems like it's a HUGE project.


I love this question because it's something I see with clients and workshop participants all the time. It really is hard to let go of things when it seems like you could make money on your stuff. What I would suggest is to first decide if you want to have a garage sale. The upside to a garage sale is that you could get rid of a lot of items all at once, but garage sales are still a big time commitment. An additional downside to garage sales is that you may not get as much for high ticket items at a garage sale as you would if you were to sell the items on Craigslist or eBay.


But selling via Craigslist or eBay requires a lot of time. You have to take photos, write descriptions, and interact with potential buyers. Then, if you’re selling on Craigslist you have to meet with the buyers (and hope they show up.) Or package and ship your items if you sell on eBay. This packaging and shipping also can add to the clutter in your home, since you have to stock boxes, tape, mailing labels and packing materials. 

If you decide to have a garage sale, set a date, and go through your home with a fine tooth comb to maximize your inventory for the sale. If you’re going to do it, go all out, and really make it worth your time. Then, try to sell everything via that sale. You can always know in the back of your mind if you’re not willing to negotiate on price and hold some items back to sell via consignment, Craigslist or eBay. But the more you can sell at the sale, the more you maximize the investment of your time.


If you don’t want to have a full blown garage sale, then another approach would be to set a dollar value for selling via eBay or Craigslist. What dollar amount is worth your time to sell an item via these online sites? Alternatively, you could start by selling your highest value items first and see how much money you make for the time invested. You can then decide when to stop selling and start donating based on the time invested for your dollar return.

Are you considering having a yard sale this year? If so, you may be interested in these posts:

How to Organize a Garage or Yard Sale

How to Organize a Garage or Yard Sale - Part 2

To Garage Sale or Not to Garage Sale


I’d love to hear from you. Are you planning a yard sale this year? If so, what do you do with your yard sale items before the sale? What tips do you have to make the most out of your selling efforts? 

Get Organized for the Weekend (and some other fun stuff!)

Happy Friday to you! I hope you have had a terrific week. Around here, it has been busy! Its spring break but Jay and I haven’t taken much of a break…yet. We’ve been busy putting the finishing touches on some fun new things here at simplify 101. Want a little bit of the inside scoop?


Well, fun thing number one is that we’re going to be running one of my favorite workshops (one that’s usually reserved just for January) this May. Can you guess what workshop it is? If you guessed the workshop How Acheive Your Goals and Create a Life You Love… you are right! Around here we believe that any time is the right time to begin the process of creating a life that you truly love.


This workshop is a fun workshop and one you can do anywhere…while you’re waiting in the carpool line, or sitting at the beach on your summer vacation. Unlike some of my other online workshops where you organize and declutter…this workshop is very portable. You can dream anywhere…and any time…so we thought “why not May?” (By the way, this workshop is on early bird sale for just a very short while. So if you’re thinking “you know what, I really would love to create a life I love…” go here soon to learn more.)



Fun thing number twois that I just put the finishing touches on the brand new daily decluttering prompts for the next session of Quick + Simple Clutter Control. These daily prompts are focused on helping you spring clean and declutter your home…and I think they’re going to be a lot of fun. The workshop starts next Thursday…and I can hardly wait.



Fun thing number three is that I’m just about to announce a brand new workshop! Keep your eyes open for that next week.


Fun thing number four…we got a new roof yesterday. I know…not so much fun for you, but we are thrilled. ;)


Fun thing number five is that it’s the weekend…and its Easter weekend and Jay’s birthday weekend all in one! So, I’m going to keep my to-do list light this weekend. Here we go…



Play List


  • Boot camp.
  • Take photos for photography class.
  • Make Jay’s birthday cake.
  • Dye Easter eggs.


To-do-list-copyright-simplify101 To Finish


  • Finish getting ready for Easter and Jay’s birthday.
  • Start + finish laundry.
  • Start + finish some light cleaning.
  • Plan weekly menu + shop for groceries.


What’s on your to-do list this weekend? Thanks for sharing! Have a great weekend.  

April 18, 2011

Monday Morning Check In

Happy Monday my friends! Thanks to all of you who shared your to-do list this weekend. I hope you had a fun-filled weekend filled with getting some things done! Here’s my progress report.


Play List

  • Movie night with friends. Check!
  • Boot camp. Check…and I’m still discovering muscles. How can this be?
  • Attend Tae Kwon Do tournament. Check!
  • Take photos. Check…but will do take more tonight before class tomorrow. 


To Finish

  • Finish spring clean-out in my daughter’s room. Check! Okay, we didn’t technically finish everything…but boy did we make a lot of progress. And best yet, we had a lot of fun in the process, too. So I’m giving us a check on this one!
  • Start + finish laundry. Almost a check. I have one more load to dry, and two left to fold.
  • Plan weekly meals + make grocery list. Check.
  • Clean. Check. In addition to my daughter's room, I also spring cleaned the master bedroom.
  • More summer planning. Nope.
  • Make eye doctor appointment. Check.
  • Maybe plant some flowers. (If the above gets done AND it's nice this weekend.) I looked for flowers…but didn’t find what I wanted. So…maybe I’ll do this next weekend…or one night this week.


How did you do with your weekend to-do list? Thanks for sharing!

April 15, 2011

Get Organized for the Weekend

Wow, it’s Friday again! I hope you had a terrific week. It’s time for the weekly tradition known as Finish It Friday where we share what’s on our weekend to-do lists. We start off with our play list — things we’ll do for fun this weekend so we remember to take the time for fun, and celebrate the good stuff in our weekends. Next, comes the “to finish” list…and list of things we’re planning to get done this weekend! If you’re new to the blog or you’ve never participated before, I invite you to join us this weekend! You really will have more fun…and get more done.


Play List


  • Movie night with friends.
  • Boot Camp. I’m really happy to be doing this on Saturday morning this week…and not on Thursday night. 
  • Attend Tae Kwon Do tournament.
  • Take photos. Photography class homework.


To-do-list-copyright-simplify101 To Finish

(Hmmm…my to-finish list looks a lot like last weekend’s list!)

  • Finish spring clean-out in my daughter’s room. (It’s ba-ack. Again.)
  • Start + finish laundry.
  • Plan weekly meals + make grocery list.
  • Clean. Regular weekly cleaning and make some progress on spring cleaning list.
  • More summer planning.
  • Make eye doctor appointment.
  • Maybe plant some flowers. (If the above gets done AND it's nice this weekend.)


What’s on your list this weekend? I look forward to hearing from you. Have a terrific Friday…and enjoy the rest of your weekend, too! See you back here on Monday.

April 13, 2011

Feeling overwhelmed? Try this tip.

The following is a sample of my weekly organizing quick tip. If you don't yet subscribe, you can sign up here.


Maybe this sounds familiar: Your task load is huge and growing faster by the minute. You feel as if you’ll never get it all done. You’re stressed, overwhelmed and ready to scream! 


No matter how terrific you are at managing your time and to-do list, from time to time, we all let more onto our plate than we can comfortably handle. Inevitably, we feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Perhaps you’ve taken on a new project and it’s taking more of your time than you anticipated, or it’s your busiest time of year in terms of outside activities for your kids or yourself. Whatever the cause of to-do list overload, it’s much harder to get things done when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. So try this little trick to help relieve these feelings and get back on track.


Pull out a piece of paper and pen and write the following at the top:  I will get more done if I focus on one thing at a time. Below this friendly reminder, list everything you feel needs your time and attention right now. By doing a “brain dump” of everything that’s vying for your attention, you get a sanity check on your priorities. Once your list is finished, ask yourself "What is the one most important thing for me to work on right now?" Select your item and then get busy focusing all your energy on that one task.


Remember, you will get more done if you focus on just one thing at a time. So select your highest priority task, capture anything that starts to vie for your attention on your to-do list, and keep moving forward one task at a time.

What do you do when you're feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list? I'd love to hear what works for you. Thanks for sharing!

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