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July 29, 2011

Back to School Organizing Tips + Free Printable Checklist


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July 26, 2011

Back to School Organizing Idea: The Shared Journal

Around here its registration week for school. School starts in just three short weeks! This means back-to-school preparations are getting in full swing! On Sunday, Kailea and I went shopping for school supplies where I saw one of my favorite back to school finds:  bargain priced composition books! These are great for creating a journal of any kind, but a particularly fun project is the shared journal.

 

I blogged about this a few years ago…back in the days when my son and I still wrote notes to each other. (Now we send text messages which are fun, too, but they don’t give you the keepsake that a shared journal does.) Essentially, a shared journal is simply a place to capture an ongoing conversation between two people using short notes and letters. This simple idea will help keep the lines of communication open with your child once the school year gets in full swing. Plus, it's a fun end-of-summer project you could do with your kids…when it’s too hot to go outside. (Which seems to be a regular occurrence around here lately!) It’s a quick and easy project…and with those bargain-priced composition books, it’s an inexpensive project, too.

 

Shared-journal-copyright-simplify101
 
To create your journal, start with a plain composition book. Then, cover the front and back covers (inside and out) using decoupage medium and scrapbook paper. When the decoupage is dry, sand-off any excess paper using a sanding block. Add a few stickers to create a title, and viola! you’ve got a place to capture your notes to and from your kiddo. 

 

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If you aren’t up for creating your own cute composition books, Greenroom has some composition books with covers that are too-die-for cute. I found these at Target in the school supplies area. 

 

Greenroom-composition-books

Get-to-know-your-kidIf you love the idea of a shared journal, here’s another idea you’ll think is super fun. It’s a book called Get to Know Your Kid written by Shannon Connell Noyes. Inside the book are blank, lined pages with quotation bubbles that prompt your child to write about themselves by answering simple questions. For example, one page in the book asks the question “What was the best day of your life? Describe it.” Another page asks your child “If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world for free, where would it be? Who would you take with you? How would you get there?” The cover even includes a removable sticker so you can create a customized front cover with your child's name. Very cute! 

 

How do you keep the lines of communication open between you and your kids during the busy school year? I'd love to hear what works for you! Thanks for sharing!

July 20, 2011

And The Winner Is…

The winner of the spot in It’s About Time is jennybean who posted on July 15, 2011 at 11:40 PM and said...


What a great idea! I save time with planning grocery shopping with coupons by looking online instead of in the paper flyer. I have my coupons sorted by the departments listed online so I'm not always going back and forth to see what I have!


If you’re jennybean, email Jay at jay at simplify101 dot com to find out how to claim your seat in It’s About Time. If you’re not jennybean, there’s still time to sign up and learn how to spend more time doing the things you love! Class begins tomorrow, so grab your spot today! I hope to see you online soon.

Organizing Spices

Have you ever wondered how I organize my spices? Here's a hint:

Spices

Still curious? Find out more here. Thanks, Elisa, for letting me share on your blog this week. :)

July 19, 2011

Day 5: Time-Saving Tip of the Day + Online Workshop Giveaway

Time is running out to enter the giveaway! Post a comment by 2 PM Central today for your chance at a spot in the online workshop It's About Time

 

Time Saving Tip:  Match your task to your natural energy level.

When planning your day, or deciding what to do throughout the day, take into consideration your natural energy highs and lows. It’s more efficient to do some tasks during certain times of day than others. Some of your tasks require you to be at the top of your game...and some tasks can be done well even when you're in an energy lull. Here are some examples.

 

Morning is my golden writing hour. Ideas flow more freely, and therefore, I’m a much more efficient (and entertaining) writer when I write in the morning. The afternoon hours are better for tasks that require action and interaction—for tasks that allow me to get up and move around or interact with other people. The afternoon is an ideal time for me to schedule organizing appointments with clients or to do repetitious tasks such as emptying the dishwasher or folding a load of laundry.


Stop-sign-copyright-simplify101 Take Action!
Give task matching a try. Take a look at your to-do list and consider your natural energy fluctuations. You’ll get more done—and enjoy yourself more—when you match your tasks to your natural energy cycle.

 

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a time saving tip to share today? If so, please post it in the comments section! Remember, every comment you leave is good for one chance at a spot in It’s About Time, and you can share as many tips as you’d like. Thanks for sharing! Here’s a quick recap of all the ways you can enter to win. 

 

1.  In the comments, share a favorite time saving tip. OR…

 

2.  For a second chance to win link to this giveaway on Facebook. OR…

 

3.  For a third chance to win, tweet this giveaway with a link on Twitter. OR…

 

4.  Do all three for three chances to win!

 

Make sure to leave a separate comment for each thing you do—posting your time saving tip, linking on Facebook, or Tweeting. You’re welcome to enter everyday—so keep the tip sharing, Facebooking and tweeting coming. :) Remember to post by 2 PM today for your chance to win!

Comments are now closed. Thanks for entering!

July 18, 2011

Day 4: Time-Saving Tip of the Day + Online Workshop Giveaway

Time Saving Tip:  Use a timer to save time and get motivated!

Clock-copyright-simplify101 I’m a big fan of using a timer to help myself save time. A timer helps me set time limits on tasks where I normally might lose all sense of time. (Pinterest anyone?) And it also helps me stay focused for longer blocks of time on tasks where I might typically distract myself. This works particularly well for writing projects. I set the timer for thirty minutes and then focus solely on writing. If something pops up and distracts me, I jot it down on a nearby distractions pad and deal with those things after the timer dings. It's amazing how much more gets done when you allow yourself to focus on just one thing at a time. 

 

A timer is also a great tool when you’re procrastinating on a task. Set your timer for fifteen minutes and make the agreement that you’ll simply get started on the task you’re avoiding. When the timer goes off you have permission to stop…but usually I find I don’t want to. I’m over the hardest part of all:  getting started. :)

 

Finally, I love using a timer to declutter, especially with my kids. It’s so much easier to get their buy in on fifteen minutes of making progress decluttering their bedrooms, than it does to say “let’s go through your closet, dresser and desk this weekend.” By working in these smaller focused sessions, I find that we actually make greater progress—more unneeded stuff walks out the door. 

 

Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear how you use timers to get things done, or if you have another time saving tip, please share it in the comments.

Remember, every comment you leave is good for one chance at a spot in It’s About Time, and you can share as many tips as you’d like. Thanks for sharing! Here’s a quick recap of all the ways you can enter to win.  


1.  In the comments, share a favorite time saving tip. OR…

2.  For a second chance to win link to this giveaway on Facebook. OR…

3.  For a third chance to win, tweet this giveaway with a link on Twitter. OR…

4.  Do all three for three chances to win! 

Make sure to leave a separate comment for each thing you do—posting your time saving tip, linking on Facebook, or Tweeting. You’re welcome to enter everyday—so keep the tip sharing, Facebooking and tweeting coming. :) Tomorrow I'll wrap up this series with one last time saving tip...and we'll draw the workshop winner! So be sure to check back here tomorrow. 

Comments are now closed. Thanks for entering!

July 17, 2011

Day 3: Time-Saving Tip of the Day + Online Workshop Giveaway

Time Saving Tip:  Use a checklist for recurring projects you do infrequently.

Checklist-copyright-simplify101 Today I’m getting ready to go on a trip, which, as you can imagine, involves packing and getting things wrapped up at home and work so I can be away for five days. Packing and getting ready for a trip is a recurring project that I do infrequently. Because of this, I rely heavily on my travel checklist. The great thing about a travel checklist is that it saves time and stress…which is why even though I have mentioned my travel checklist a time or two before, I wanted to share it as one of my favorite time savers.

 

I love creating and using checklists, especially for projects that I do infrequently. Checklists help you avoid the learning curve for anything that you do once a month or once a year, or on any irregular schedule. I have checklists for spring cleaning, back to school, weekly house cleaning, as well as for various things I do at work (like paying taxes online…which thankfully, isn’t a daily project.) 

 

Stop-copyright-simplify101 Take action! Think about a recurring project you do infrequently that involves a learning curve each time you do it. Then, next time you do this project, create a little checklist you can use from then on. Your checklist doesn’t have to be fancy to be functional. I have many checklists jotted down on a piece of notebook paper and they work just fine. Then, find a convenient home for your checklists (such as a household reference binder) so you always know where to find them.  

 

 

Now it’s your turn to share a time saving tip. Remember, every comment you leave is good for one chance at a spot in It’s About Time. Thanks for sharing!

 

Here’s a quick recap of all the ways you can enter to win.  

1.  In the comments, share a favorite time saving tip. OR…

2.  For a second chance to win link to this giveaway on Facebook. OR…

3.  For a third chance to win, tweet this giveaway with a link on Twitter. OR…

4.  Do all three for three chances to win! 

 

Make sure to leave a separate comment for each thing you do—posting your time saving tip, linking on Facebook, or Tweeting. You’re welcome to enter everyday—so keep the tip sharing, Facebooking and tweeting coming. :)

Comments are now closed. Thanks for entering!

July 15, 2011

Day 2: Time-Saving Tip of the Day + Online Workshop Giveaway

Time Saving Tip:  Sort your grocery list in aisle order! 

Grocery-shopping-clipboard-copyright-simplify101 Today’s tip is one that has saved me countless hours wandering from one end of the grocery store to the other (and back again.) Before I started grouping my grocery list in aisle order, I was notorious for getting all the way to the frozen foods section (far end of the grocery store) only to notice I had a lemon not checked off my list! (Grrr!) And so I’d head back to the produce aisle at the front of the store! This doesn’t even include all the extra minutes I’d spend in each aisle scanning my list to be sure I hadn’t missed something in that aisle. 


To sort your list in aisle order, simply create a shopping list template. (Here’s a copy of my grocery list template for inspiration…or to use if you’d like.) To create a list customized to your grocery store layout, first, check with your grocery store to see if they have a print-out of their aisle layout. Or simply jot down what’s in each aisle next time you shop. Then, create your template using your word processor. Viola! No more running from one end of the store to the other! Time (and frustration!) saved. (Love that!) 

 

And to feel extra organized, snap your grocery list onto a clipboard. :)


Now it’s your turn. Remember, every comment you leave is good for one chance at a spot in It’s About Time. Thanks for sharing! Here’s a quick recap of all the ways you can enter to win.  

1.  In the comments, share a favorite time saving tip. OR…

2.  For a second chance to win link to this giveaway on Facebook. OR…

3.  For a third chance to win, tweet this giveaway with a link on Twitter. OR…

4.  Do all three for three chances to win! 

Make sure to leave a separate comment for each thing you do—posting your time saving tip, linking on Facebook, or Tweeting. You’re welcome to enter everyday—so keep the tip sharing, Facebooking and tweeting coming. :) 

Comments are now closed. Thanks for entering!

July 14, 2011

Online Workshop Giveaway + Five Days of Time Saving Tips

Clock-copyright-simplify101Next Thursday the next session my online workshop It’s About Time begins…so I’ve got time and task management on my mind right now. I thought it would be fun to do a short series of blog posts with time savings tips. But then I thought it'd be even more fun if we gave away a spot in It’s About Time. Sound fun?

 

Okay…here’s how it’s going to work. Everyday for the next five days, I’ll share a time saving tip blog post and invite you to share your favorite time saver in the comments. You will also be invited to share the post on Facebook and Twitter. Then, simply leave a comment for each thing you do. Every comment is one chance at a the spot in It’s About Time.  Simple and fun—just how I like it! So let’s get this party started with today’s tip!

 

Time Saving Tip:  Replace an energy depleting task with an energizing task.

Are you aware of how the tasks on your to-do list make you feel? If your to-do list is like most, some of the tasks deplete your energy, while others boost your energy—you actually feel more energized when you’re done with the task than before you started. The terrific thing about those energizing tasks is that they act like little productivity power pills—they give you more energy and enthusiasm to tackle the other items on your list. 

 


Stop-copyright-simplify101 Take Action!
Identify one optional task on your to-do list that depletes your energy, and replace it with a task that boosts your energy. For example, replace a low energy T.V. show with thirty minutes of an enjoyable aerobic exercise. Then, see how much more you get done today…just by decluttering one energy draining task. 

 

Now it’s your turn. Here’s how to enter for a chance to win a spot in It’s About Time:

1.  In the comments, share a favorite time saving tip. OR…

2.  For a second chance to win link to this giveaway on Facebook. OR…

3.  For a third chance to win, tweet this giveaway with a link on Twitter. OR…

4.  Do all three for three chances to win! 

 

Make sure to leave a separate comment for each thing you do—posting your time saving tip, linking on Facebook or Tweeting. Thank you! I look forward to reading your tips. :)

Comments are now closed. Thanks for entering!

July 11, 2011

Organizing Q & A: How should I handle pre-worn clothes?

A really popular question in my online workshops—particularly Quick + Simple Clutter Control and Organize Your Closet—has to do with pre-worn clothes. Here's an example:

 

Questionmark_copyright_simplify101 I need a place to store clothes that I have worn, but don't yet need to go in the hamper. I have a fair number of these. I don't like to put them back with all-the-way clean clothes, but piling them on a shelf is not a good solution either.

 

My approach to pre-worn clothes is to store them with the completely clean clothes. My thinking is that if the clothes are clean enough to wear again, then they should be okay living with the completely clean clothes. If they're an option for wearing when you get dressed in the morning, then keeping your pre-worn clothes with the rest of your clothes will simplify the process of getting dressed in the morning.

 

As with other organizing topics, this approach doesn’t work for everyone. So here  are some other ideas compiled from the online workshop community:

 

  • Fold your pre-worn items and put them in a designated spot such as on a shelf in your closet.
  • Hang pre-worn clothes on a hanger and hang the hanger on a hook.  
  • Hang pre-worn clothes and establish a section in your closet for these items.
  • Use a different color hanger for items that have been worn already. Or designate pre-worn items with a ribbon on the hanger, or by using a butterfly clip. 


Here’s what works for other online workshop participants…

 

  • I have a wide chair in the bedroom where we put worn but clean clothes. As we occasionally get outbreaks of clothes moths in the UK I don't ever put worn clothes back in the closet ~ it helps to deter them.
  • I added some 3M hooks (some of the nice brushed metal hooks, so they're a bit decorative) in the master bathroom to hang these types of clothes along with pj's. They hang near the hamper.
  • I think a shallow basket for the bureau or in the closet where "gently worn but not ready for laundry items" could live might be the best solution. They would be readily available but not looking cluttery.
  • I drape my clothing I change into after work over the hamper - that way I wear the same outfit a couple of days, wash it and move to another outfit.
  • I do something similar with my worn clothes, although I drape them over the railing in my hall overnight. My idea is to air them out a bit & deal with wrinkles. I like that this minimizes my washing (I think I save a couple of loads a week by this—we all re-wear clothes in my family), but also that my clothes look better, longer (less fading etc). 


What works for you? Are pre-worn clothes a source of clutter in your home? If not…how do you handle them? Thanks so much for sharing!  I look forward to hearing from you!

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