simplify 101
Creative Organizing Blog

December 13, 2012

7 Ways to Have a Happier Holiday

7 steps to a happier holiday - from simplify101 copy


If you find yourself in the midst of this holiday season wishing to trade in all the hustle bustle for a bit more happiness, you're not alone!  Here's a collection of some of my top tips to help you create a merrier season.


  1. The best gift you can give your loved ones this holiday season is your own joy and happiness. Sometimes we can get so caught up in buying or making gifts that we lose sight of this. Focus on joy and you’ll make this the best holiday season for you and your loved ones! 

  2. Make a holiday to-do list. Prioritize the tasks that are most important and most meaningful to you and your loved ones. This way, you are sure to cover the activities that matter and know which ones you can let slide.

  3. Take a look at your ongoing tasks and activities, and see what can be eliminated or deferred until after the holidays.  During the holidays, we often try to add so many other activities into our already full calendars.  What can you set aside in order to fit in the extra holiday events?

  4. If you’re faced with a particularly daunting item on your holiday to-do list, break it down into bite-sized steps to make it more manageable. For example, rather than putting “send holiday cards” on your to-do list, break it up into “order cards, write X cards per day, address cards, stamp and mail cards.” By checking the individual steps off your list, you’ll feel more motivated to complete the project.

  5. Make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for and any ideas you have in mind. Then, keep your list with you throughout the season. Whether it’s in a holiday binder, on a piece of notepaper, or on your smart phone, having the list with you will help you avoid overbuying, overspending, or making the last-minute shopping trip for the gift you forgot!

  6. Let go of “should” and instead ask “what if?” Asking what if can help you realize that some of your expectations may be unrealistic. 

  7. Make gratitude part of a daily phone call or email chat with a friend or loved-one.  Making a concerted effort to focus on gratitude creates a foundation of joy to carry you through the hectic holiday season.


There you go! Print these out. Pin them. Tweet them. Share them. Do whatever you need to do to remind yourself of these tips throughout the next few weeks of holiday hubub. I hope some of these will inspire you and help you to more fully enjoy the season!


Happy Holidays!


December 11, 2012

Three Holiday Time Savers

If you’re feeling short on time and long on to-dos, here are three holiday time savers just for you.

Holiday-gift-box1. Save time by simplifying gift wrapping.
Gift bags and sturdy, pre-printed gift boxes save time and, since they can be reused, they’re better for the environment and your budget, too. Tie a simple bow on top and add a plain gift tag, and you can call it a wrap! Bonus tip: Store your printed gift boxes with the rest of your holiday décor. To save space and protect fragile items, fill boxes with glass ornaments or snow globes before placing in storage. You’ll keep these seasonal gift items out of your way year round, and they’ll be at your fingertips when you need them next year.


2. Save time with simple food dishes. The temptation can be great this time of year to try elaborate new recipes. But if you’re already feeling stressed and short of time, this just adds to the equation. Subtract some stress and save time by preparing simple holiday dishes. Use tried and true recipes that you know by heart, or stop by the deli of your local grocery store for dishes prepared by someone else.


3. Come up with a gift-of-the-year and give it to everyone. When you buy the same gift for multiple people, you can buy in bulk, which saves time and money. Consider items like olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, gourmet coffee, wine and bulk mixed nuts. Or consider a cheese ball mix with a small serving plate and spreader, jar mixes, bubble bath, bath oil or candles. Or put together three of your favorite items to give to friends and family. Attach a tag to the gift that says, “3 of my favorite things for 1 of my favorite people.” You’ll give a meaningful gift and save time.


What are your favorite holiday time savers? Please share your ideas below.

Happy holidays!


P.S. Don't forget to enter for a chance to win an awseome wall calendar from  

December 10, 2012

Monday Check In

Happy Monday my friends. I hope you all had a terrific weekend. Ours was full — very full. On the upside, we welcomed a new addition to our family. I'm now a great aunt! My great neice was born on Friday afternoon and we had the delight of meeting her on Saturday. She's so sweet and having a new baby in the family is so exciting!  

In less exciting's how I did with my to-do list. 

  • Run. Check! I ran once...which means this week I fell short of my December goal of exercising three times a week. In the early part of the week I was too sore from boot camp. Sad but true. (Note to self...don't take two months off of boot-camp again!) I plan to do more running this week.
  • Laundry. Check, check, check, check, check! Geez there was a ton of it this weekend.
  • Kailea's birthday celebration - finalize all the details and enjoy! Check! Kailea had a great time. Tomorrow is her actual birthday, so this isn't a complete check mark yet. There are still presents to wrap, a cake to bake, and more songs to be sung. 
  • Holiday stuff - hopefully get the tree and decorate. Check and check! This is the first year we've done the tree and the rest of the holiday decorating in one day. This is the last year we will do the tree and the rest of the holiday decorating in one day. Too much! But getting the tree was great fun, and now that the rest is's beginning to feel like Christmas...which actually feels nice. 
  • Freebie Friday post. Check! (Have you entered yet?)

How was your weekend?


December 07, 2012

Freebie Friday: 2013 NeuYear Calendar

**This giveaway is now closed - thanks to everyone who entered. The winner has been notified.**

Earlier this year, Jesse at contacted us about his awesome wall calendar. I’ve seen a few calendars in my day, so I wondered what made this particular calendar so awesome. So I checked out their website…which says the NeuYear calendar is awesome because...


It's BIG. It shows you the whole year at once. You no longer have to page through a traditional calendar (or on your small computer screen), to see the whole year. You can layout your goals for the year, set future deadlines, and clearly see the passing of time. Also, it has bigger squares so you can write more.


It has NO GAPS. Unlike other calendars, this one has no space between months. The philosophy here is that the week is the currency we think in, so this calendar focuses on presenting 52 weeks, rather than 12 months. This feature helps you plan across months easily, and see clearly the distance/days between any two dates in the year. It will also motivate you to see weeks passing, deadlines approaching and goals accomplished.


It's BEAUTIFUL. It combines functional features with brilliant aesthetics. In Making Ideas Happen, author Scott Belsky says "the design of your productivity tools will affect how eager you are to use them. Attraction often breeds commitment." You'll be eager to use this attractive calendar.


It’s TWO IN ONE. Not only all this, but its 2 calendars in 1! It has a horizontal orientation that fits perfectly above your desk, or you can flip it over for a vertical orientation that fits perfectly on your door.


Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you’re probably not at all surprised that after reading about this awesome calendar I was intrigued. After all, I’m a huge fan of beautiful organizing tools, and have been known to say that the more you love an organizing solution, the more likely you are to use it. But even more, as a visual girl (as I know so many of you are) I loved the idea of being able to see an entire year all in one spot…big and on the wall!


NeuYear Calendar 4

This format is terrific for planning future events (we used ours to map out our core workshops for the entire 2013 calendar year!) and it’s also terrific for tracking progress. Imagine tracking your goals on a big ol’ NeuYear calendar? Wouldn’t that be so motivating?



So after giving it a test drive of my own…I decided, yes, this is awesome enough to share with our readers. And so, share we will. Up for grabs is one NeuYear 2013 Calendar of your choice (DryErase or Uncoated). Plus, everyone can take advantage of this sweet 30% off coupon. Just enter the discount code "Simplify101" at checkout. This offer expires Jan. 31, 2013. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Friday!

Hello friends! I'm doing a short and sweet version of a Finish It Friday post my to-do list is calling to me (very loudly) with all sorts of business to-dos today. So here's my short list for the weekend...

  • Run. 
  • Laundry.
  • Kailea's birthday celebration - finalize all the details and enjoy!
  • Holiday stuff - hopefully get the tree and decorate.
  • Freebie Friday post. (That's right...check back later today for that one. Fun!)

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

December 06, 2012

Feeling frazzled by the holidays?

Has the frantic pace of the holiday season started to get to you? Even though we want to feel jolly this time of year, it's so easy to get fa-la-la-la-frazzled. Fortunately, it's not too late to create a happier holiday season for you and your family. Check out my article — Your Formula for a Stress-Free Holiday — for some of my secrets for de-frazzling the season!


Better homes and gardens - dec 2012Speaking of my holiday secrets, you may have seen a few of them in the December issue of Better Homes and Gardens in the article "Sanity Savers" by Berit Thorkelson. In the article I shared some of my tips from our Get Organized for the Holidays workshop. I am thrilled each time Better Homes and Gardens contacts me. It's such an honor to be featured in my favorite magazine!


I love how the article turned out, too. In addition to my holiday time management tips, she also gave suggestions to simplify holiday decorating and entertaining. You know how much I love simplifying things, right? It's a great article with lots of ideas for taking the frazzle out of the season. I hope you have a chance to give it a read!


What's your best tip for simplifying things during the holidays? Leave me a comment below! I'd love to hear from you. :)


Happy Holiday Season,


October 05, 2011

Looking for Scrapbook Ideas & Fun? True Scrap Is Coming!


This post has moved to our new blog. Go to True Scrap is Coming!



May 11, 2011

Organizing Q +A: What to do with homeless items while decluttering?

Today’s organizing question is from a participant in the current session of Quick + Simple Clutter Control.


Questionmark_copyright_simplify101 What I've found during my first attempt or two at a quick surface de-cluttering is that much of the clutter comes from "homeless" items. I have items that I know don't belong in the room in which I find them but, the area where they should reside is not accessible because it to is filled up with stuff. Consequently, I move things from room to room. I know I need to perform a deep de-cluttering of these areas. I would like some suggestions on what to do about these homeless items until I can create a home for them?


This is a great question and one that comes up often in Quick + Simple Clutter Control as well as in Organizing 101. The strategy I suggest (and I do this when I work with clients, too) is to move the items closer to where they belong. When working with clients I try to hone in on where this item will ultimately live once we are able to carve out homes for everything. So if we come across a screw driver, I'll ask if there are other tools elsewhere in the home. If there aren't other tools elsewhere (or they're all over the place) then the client will decide where she ultimately wants the tools to live. As we encounter tools while organizing, we start moving them to this room.


While this approach can create a bit more clutter while the organizing project is in process, we are taking steps forward to get the whole home organized and decluttered. So it is progress...even if it doesn't look that way on the surface.


A second option is to create a transitional space, one area in your home that becomes the temporary home for the homeless items you find while decluttering. You could use a table or some shelves in your basement, for example, as your transitional space. What I suggest with this approach is that you keep the transitional space as organized as possible. Take the time to group all the tools together, and all of the books together, etc. This way you can remember what is in the transitional space and carve out homes for these items as you continue with your organizing projects.


How do you handle homeless items when you declutter and organize? I’d love to hear your ideas!

October 10, 2007

come join me...

...for a super fun, live event! It's called Have Yourself a Happy, Healthy Holidays and it's just what we all need to get ourselves organized and energized for the holidays! If you're in the St. Louis area and are available on November 3rd, get registered today! Space is limited and I hear from the event organizer that tickets are selling out fast!

I hope to see you there!

February 25, 2006

OK .. so last night was just plain cool. I attended the NAWMBA and ArchWIT Conference at Washington University in St. Louis. I got to hang out with inspiring, intelligent, entrepreneurial women and participate as a panel member in a really thought provoking panel discussion about entrepreneurialism. So fun. (Thank you Hunter for getting me involved with this event! It was really cool.)

So here’s the takeaway … what event can you go to that will inspire you? Really get you thinking? Surround you with likeminded people who can fuel your creative energy and get you motivated to take action? Find the event. Sign up. Go.

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