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November 30, 2011

Your December Get Organized Checklist

It’s hard to believe, but it’s time for our final Get Organized checklist of the year! I hope it’s been a fantastic—and organized—year for you.


This month’s checklist is focused on holiday to-dos, but there are a few other basic organizing to-dos tucked in there, too. Let’s get right to it!


Here is the free printable PDF for this month's Get Organized checklist:   Download December - checklist (You will need Adobe Reader to open the file which you can get here:

Checklist-copyright-simplify101Your December Get Organized Checklist


Set your goals for the month. I love starting a new month with a fresh look at my goals. Why wait until January? Instead, set a new goal, or reaffirm your commitment to an ongoing goal. You’ll start January that much farther ahead of the game! 


Check your monthly tickler folder. If you use a tickler file, today is the day to check your December folder and distribute the contents into your daily folders. 


Finish your holiday shopping. Some of you may get an instant check mark for this one. I’ll have to work for mine. I still have a bit of shopping to do. I hope to get it finished up early in the month so we can do a bit less rushing and a bit more relaxing later in the month. 


Wrap gifts and ship any gifts to out of town friends and relatives. Here’s a link to find out the USPS shipping deadlines for the 2011 holiday season. Ship early though, as sometimes packages do get lost in the mail. (This happened to me last year…I was so sad when my packages to home arrived after Christmas.) 



Send holiday cards.


Plan your holiday menu. This is on my to-do list for the upcoming weekend.


Decorate for the holidays. Again, some of you may already have a check mark. I have a partial check mark. This weekend we’ll get our tree and put it up, and then we can call it done.


Declutter your holiday decorations. As you pull out your holiday items, let go of anything that you don’t put out this year because you no longer love it. It’s a great time to donate no longer wanted items to someone who can enjoy them in their home. 


Make New Year’s Eve plans. What do you like to do on New Year’s Eve? I’d love to hear your ideas because for me, this will be the hardest item on the list.


Prepare for winter weather. Now is a great time to stock up on salt or sand for the driveway and sidewalk, so you’ll be ready when the first (or next) winter storm hits. Make sure your snow shovel is in good shape and hasn’t gone missing over the summer. And while you’re in the mode, get your cars ready for winter, too. Top off the wiper fluid, and put an ice scraper and blanket in the car. 


Call to have the chimney swept. Or if you’re ambitious, do it yourself. It’s a messy job, but when it’s done you’ll have tremendous peace of mind. 


Enjoy the holiday season! At the end of the day, enjoying yourself, your family and your home is what all of this is all about. I hope you and yours have the merriest of holiday seasons. 



What's on your to-do list for December? Thanks for sharing. I look forward to hearing from you!


Using Pinterest to Get Organized for the Holidays

I knew as soon as I joined Pinterest that this would happen… my head is just swimming in incredible ideas for the holidays thanks to all the “Pinspiration” and “Pinteresting” things I find there! If you aren’t familiar with it yet, Pinterest is web site where you can store and share all the fabulousness that you run across on the web. Think virtual bulletin board, only more organized!


Right now, I am giddy over the cool ideas for Elf on the Shelf, not to mention great gift ideas and recipes! I just love to log in and instantly see things that are fun, simple, creative, and completely doable. I realized today, though, that I’m not yet using Pinterest in a way that makes total sense – getting organized for the holidays!


As I run across gift ideas for my family, I can Pin them. As I find recipes perfect for holiday gatherings, I can Pin them. When I see cute decorating displays, I can Pin them. I love that I can add notes right then to specify who, what, when or where I am thinking of using the idea. I have been doing this to some extent, but not necessarily in the most organized way. Today, I spent a few minutes reorganizing and adding boards that are more specific. Plus, I realized I can repin to multiple boards. So, if there's a gift in my Gift Ideas board that could be given any time, but I am thinking about it now as a great holiday gift for a neighbor, it can live in both places. Hooray!



I also just added a board for things I have already tried, thanks to Pinterest.  Here’s a photo of a thankful tree I made this year.




 Here is what inspired my Thankful Tree.


To really maximize Pinterest's ability to help us organize for the holidays, here are some tips for you:

  • Create new boards specific to the holidays, such as New Year's Eve Ideas, New Traditions, Holiday Recipes, Party Planning, Holiday Gifts, etc.
  • Go through your current boards to see what could be moved or repinned to your new holiday boards. For example, you may have an outfit on a style board that you would like to replicate for a holiday event.
  • Make specific notes on pins when you pin them. Quickly jotting down thoughts like "Great gift idea for my elderly neighbor," or "Pretty Christmas dress for my daughter," will help you remember what you had in mind when you revisit this later.
  • Create a board to repin all the stuff you've tried thanks to Pinterest. Delete or make notes on pins of things you tried but didn't like, that way you won't repeat the disappointment in a year or two!


Have you found holiday inspiration on Pinterest that you can’t wait to try? Have you tried things you really loved? We'd love to hear what's Pinteresting to you!

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P.S. You are welcome to follow Aby  and me on Pinterest! It’s another great way for us to connect and share!

November 28, 2011

Monday Morning Check-In

Happy Monday morning my friends! I hope you had a great weekend, with plenty of time for fun and getting things done. Here's my Monday check-in. 


Play List

  • Boot camp. Check. And I’m still feeling it. My muscles are very sore this week.
  • Knit. Check! I still have a long way to go...but I have started! Hooray. :)


To Finish

  • Clean the house. Check.
  • Laundry. Check.
  • Decorate our home for the holidays. Check!
  • Do some Christmas shopping. Check!
  • Finish planning my daughter’s birthday celebration. Check! I think we’re in good shape. 


Thanks for joining me for Finish It Friday this week. I look forward to hearing your updates!


Happy Monday!


P.S. Just a quick reminder about our annual store-wide sale! This is the best time of year to stock up on instant download organizing guides and online organizing workshops. This once-a-year savings event ends tomorrow, so learn more now!  


November 25, 2011

Let’s Get Organized for the Weekend!

Happy Friday my friends. I hope my U.S. friends had a happy Thanksgiving…and that everyone reading this is having a happy Friday! Are you ready to share your weekend to-do list? I am—lots to do this weekend.

Checklist-copyright-simplify101Play List

  • Boot camp.
  • Knit. Hooray! I have been looking for yarn for a knitting project for quite a while, and finally on Wednesday I found something that I think will be great. Very happy to have a knitting project again.



To Finish

  • Clean the house.
  • Laundry.
  • Decorate our home for the holidays.
  • Do some Christmas shopping.
  • Finish planning my daughter’s birthday celebration.


I think that should keep me busy. What’s on your to-do list this weekend? Hope you have a great one.


Simplifying for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Ahhhh, Thanksgiving Day… For me, that typically means gathering together with some friends and family, and feasting on an incredible meal. When our bellies are full and the dishes have been cleared, out pop the Black Friday ads and laptops as many in our family begin to plan their holiday shopping. We chatter about the hot ticket items, what we most hope to find, the deals we hope to score. Does this scene play out in your home, too?


Ironically, I personally have never ventured out on Black Friday. I wouldn’t exactly call it a phobia, but I have a sort of “thing” about massive crowds. Therefore, early-morning wake-up calls to go be pushed and shoved in a hot and overly crowded store never make my holiday to-do list.  But I do admit to having sent my husband out a few times for particular items, and that was well worth it! (Especially since I stayed home all cozy in my PJs.) I guess if anything, I am more of a Cyber Monday girl. I do like to accomplish as much holiday shopping as possible over the Internet. (No surprise given my crowd thing, right?) Plus, it’s just simpler to shop online, and I do so enjoy simplifying.


Speaking of which, if you interested in further simplifying your life -- whether that's through getting organized for the holidays, organizing your kitchen or making plans for the life you love in 2012 -- now is a great time to save on simplify 101 workshops! Stop by our store and save 20% off every single instant download and online organizing workshop!



How about you? Do you brave the wee-morning shopping rush? Surf for the sweet deals? We’d love to know!


Happy Black Friday!

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November 23, 2011

Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays: 28 Day Challenge – Day 28!

It’s Day 28! Can you believe it? We are almost there my friends! Congrats to you for all the progress you made during the past four weeks! Woohoo!

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So we have one final challenge, and it’s just in time for any Black Friday shopping you may have planned.  Here it is...


Day 28:  Declutter and organize your reusable shopping bags.

Today’s challenge is a simple one that’s designed to deal with current clutter and prevent future clutter. (Gotta’ love a two-for-one challenge, right?) If you’re anything like me, you love the idea of using reusable shopping bags. It prevents the hassle of collecting the plastic bags inside your home and taking them to be recycled. Reusable shopping bags help prevent clutter inside your home, and they’re great for the environment as well. But, what happens when your collection of reusable bags gets unruly, and how do you make sure to remember to take your bags to the store with you? That’s what today’s challenge is all about.



Let’s start by talking about decluttering an overgrown collection of reusable bags. If you have too many, and feel it would be a good idea to downsize them, why not use the extras as donation bags? Set a bag in each closet in your home, and make it your goal to fill up the bags over the course of several weeks or months. When they’re full, donate the bag and the stuff inside. (Oh, wow, that’s another two-for-one! How fun is that?)


Okay, so for the bags you decide to keep, the real trick is to store them someplace so that your bags are with you when you’re at the store. The most effective solution I have found for this, so far, is to keep bags in my purse. But there was a downside. It meant having a super huge purse, like a purse so big that my family called it a suitcase (and I would literally run into people with my purse while shopping.) 


Plan B for my bags has been to keep a supply in the trunk of my car. I also keep a handful of bags in a bucket that hangs on hook on the back door of my house—the door I use every single time I go shopping. This works great!



So your challenge for today is to reevaluate your collection of reusable shopping bags. If you have too many, use the extras for donation bags. And then, create a storage solution for the bags you keep, so they’re easy to remember to take to the store.


I’d love to hear from you! How do you handle reusable shopping bags? Do you have a storage solution that works great for you?  And…are you going shopping on Black Friday? Thanks for sharing. And thanks so much for joining in this challenge! I hope you enjoyed it as much as Jennifer and I enjoyed putting it together.

Happy organizing!


November 22, 2011

How to SIMPLIFY the Holidays

This is a sample of my weekly Quick Tip email. If you don't yet subscribe, you can sign up here.  This week's Quick Tip is sponsored by our annual black Friday sale! Stop by our store today to save 20% off every instant download and online organizing workshop! (This represents the lowest price you can get on our workshops—so act now!) 

Ahh…it’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. For me, this week signals the true start of the holiday season, where I move from planning to doing. As we enter this season, I wanted to share some simple ideas to help you simplify the hectic parts of the holidays, so you can truly enjoy the most meaningful aspects of the season.


SIMPLIFY the Holidays:


S – is for START with the end in mind. The holidays are loaded with not only a mile-long to-do list, but also with a lot of emotions and expectations. Decide now how you’d like the holidays to be for you. How do you want to feel? What would make this year’s holiday season the best ever? Ask your family to share their thoughts, too. Their answers may just surprise you.


Joy-350-copyright-simplify101I – is for INSPIRATION STATEMENT. Distill your ideas about what you want for the season into a single INSPIRATION STATEMENT or word. Then, put your statement or word someplace where you will see it often throughout the season. My statement is, “The Joy is in the Journey.” It reminds me not to get bogged down in unimportant details that stress me out and steal my joy. It also reminds me to enjoy the entire season, instead of waiting to have fun until Christmas morning, when my to-do list is completely checked off. 


M – is for MINIMIZE and MAXIMIZE. MINIMIZE the aspects of the holidays that stress you out or don’t really add to the overall reason for the season for you and your family members. This will create space to MAXIMIZE, or do more of, those things that truly fill your heart with joy.


P – is for PLAN. And…


L – is for LIST. Write down your holiday to-do LIST on a piece of paper or capture it electronically. Then, pull out your calendar and create a simple PLAN by assigning your tasks to specific days throughout the holiday season. For example, decide what day you will decorate your home, get the tree, shop and wrap gifts, and bake. Doing this will give you tremendous relief and make your holidays that much happier.


I – is for IMPLEMENT. IMPLEMENT your plan, focusing on one task at a time. 


F – is for FLEXIBLE. As you carry out your plan and do the tasks on your to-do list, remain FLEXIBLE. Give yourself permission to move tasks around if necessary and even to delete something that seemed fun while you were planning, but doesn’t sound fun when it comes time to do it.


Y – is for YOU. Most of all, remember to take good care of YOUrself throughout the season. Get as much rest as possible, and make sure you take time to recharge your batteries by doing things that energize and restore you. Take your dog for a walk, or go to yoga class. Spend some quiet time reading a favorite book, or meditate. Remember, the best gift you can give your loved ones this time of year is your own joy and happiness. So prioritize YOU for the happiest season for everyone you love.


Happy simplifying and happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. Don’t forget to stop by our store and save on all of our online workshops like Organizing 101 and How to Create a Life You Love, and instant downloads like Get Organized for the Holidays. Act now to take advantage of the lowest price you can get on these life-changing workshops and instant downloads! 

Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays: 28 Day Challenge – Day 27

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Day 27: Sweep Your Entryway

Leaves, spiderwebs, debris, kids' toys, out-of-season items... these can all add up to a less-than-welcoming entryway for visitors. Grab your broom and perhaps a multi-purpose cleaner, and head outside. Many of us enter through a garage or side entrance -- or we enter the house so often -- that we often fail to notice any trouble spots. Try walking up to your front door with fresh eyes. Pretend to be a visitor, and see what you notice. Remove dead plants and anything else that doesn't belong. Use the cleaner to make your door sparkle. Then give the stoop a good sweeping. Now step back and take another look at the welcoming entrance your guests will find!




Happy Cleaning,

Jens signature black

November 21, 2011

Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays: 28 Day Challenge – Day 26

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Day 26: Declutter the Coat Closet


Where is your designated spot for guests’ coats, shoes and belongings? We have a decent-sized coat closet, but ordinarily it is pretty maxed out with our own family’s stuff. Today, I’m clearing out all non-essentials to make space for company. Our extra coats, jackets and shoes will go to our own closets or the basement. I’m temporarily moving anything that doesn’t have to be stored here (like the vacuum cleaner) and adding an extra over-the-door hanger to provide extra storage.



If your home does not have a coat closet, do you have adequate hooks or a coat rack near the door? If you live in a region where guests typically remove their shoes at the door, or if it could potentially be rainy or snowy when you entertain, plan for boot trays, bins, or shoe racks. Planning for this now will help you avoid awkwardly carrying armloads of your own “stuff” down the hall while guests are arriving.


Happy Cleaning!

Jens signature black

Monday Morning Check-In

Whew. I thought the weeks were going fast, until I had another weekend. That was lightning-fast! How about yours?


Other than flying by…it was a good and productive weekend. Hope yours was too. Here’s my update:


Play List

  • Boot camp. Check!
  • Movie night with friends. Check!
  • Make banana bread. This was an add-on. Sometimes I like to add things to my list so I can check them off. (Do you do that, too?)


To Finish

  • Decide on a snack for movie night and make it. Check!
  • Laundry. Check, check, check! 
  • Hand-wash a wool sweater. Check! And wow, it took so little time. Good to note for next time if I feel like putting this task off. It's really not a big deal.
  • Clean house. Check! 
  • Plan meals for the week, including what I’m bringing for Thanksgiving. Check! And I did the shopping, too. 
  • Take some forms to get notarized. Check!
  • Work on gift lists and share with family members. Check. Progress was made, but the task isn’t done yet. 
  • Make 30 minutes of progress going through some old project files in my office. Check! I actually spent an hour in my office this weekend doing paperwork. It all feels so much better now. 


Hooray! It’s always so nice to start the week with a clean slate, don’t you think? Can’t wait to hear how your weekend went.


Happy Monday! 


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