simplify 101
Creative Organizing Blog

July 19, 2012

Guest Post: After You Declutter It’s Time to Change Your Habits

Today's blog post is a sample of my weekly Quick Tip newsletter, which (this week) is brought to you by Janine Adams—my friend, expert organizer, and the instructor of the popular online workshop Simplify Your Life with Habits + Routines. Today we’re kicking off the final session of this workshop for 2012. So if your life is feeling a bit too complicated, join Janine and learn how to create habits and routines that will simplify your life and free up your time and energy! (By the way, for the first time ever, we’ve made it possible for you to sample the first lesson on us absolutely risk-free. Want in on the free sample? Click this link now to gain access!)


After You Declutter: Change Your Habits

By Janine Adams

I love helping clients declutter and organize their spaces. As challenging as it can be to go through belongings and let go of unloved and unused items, this is actually just the first step. The truth of the matter is that, for most people, there’s another big step: changing your habits surrounding your stuff. Without new habits, that newly created order will not stick.


Sometimes houses get messy and cluttered because of some less than beneficial habits. For example:

  • Shopping for the thrill of the hunt
  • Not taking the time to weed out belongings periodically
  • Storing things in an inconvenient place, so it’s hard to put them away
  • Letting disorder build to a breaking point before putting stuff away


So once you’ve taken time to declutter and get organized, it’s important to focus on how you can turn the habits that contribute to clutter into good ones that keep clutter at bay. Examples of some great habits that will support maintaining order include:

  • Shopping mindfully and considering where you’ll store any new purchases
  • Weeding out storage areas on a regular basis
  • Putting away items after you use them
  • Doing a clean sweep of public living areas before bed, putting away ay items that remain out
  • Running the dishwasher at night and emptying it in the morning, so the kitchen counters stay clear


Great habits are the foundation for maintaining order and for living an easier life. And creating new habits can be easier than you think. When you link new habits with existing ones, you end up doing things automatically, which can dramatically decrease the stress—and clutter—in your life.

Janines signature001

P.S. Don’t forget, Janine’s workshop begins today! Join the workshop now, or go here to try the first lesson for free!


February 23, 2012

Getting Ready for Organized Closet Bliss

You know that place in your home that you would really only let your very best friend come into? And even then, it would be only after you had known her for 15 years and you were bedridden and had no choice but to send her in for that necessary item? Well, let’s all just pretend that I am sick in my bed and all of you are my lifetime BFFs. Deal? You have to agree, because I am about to let you into…(gulp)…my closet!


OK, before I let you in, let me tell you that honestly it isn't that bad. There is a whole lot going on in there that is right, but on the whole it is pretty uninspiring. And honestly, part of my issue is that I am an employee of simplify 101, so I know I can do better than what's currently going on in there.

I am lucky enough that my husband and I have matching closets. You should see how nicely he has his organized. In fact, if anyone comes to our house for the first time and is taking the “grand tour,” I only show them his closet! 


 But for you, my dearest friend, I open the door without further ado...



Not terrible, like I said, but it seriously could be oh-so-much better. The door hooks are overloaded. Scarves swing out into the door jam when I close it. My hats are eating up space on my shoe rack. The little cabinets in there don't work at all the way I need them to. I have jewelry stored in three different places. Two clothing racks are jam-packed and one isn't even half utilized. Items to donate are overflowing their basket. The shelves are overloaded and not efficient. See? It's just sort of one big botchy mess!


Look how the main clothes rack is so darn overloaded that it bows in the middle.



Notice how my collection of necklaces has completely outgrown the necklace hangers I have.



And last but not least, take a look at my stylish storage system for bags and out-of-season clothes. Yes, I do love to repurpose things, but somehow I feel I can come up with something a bit classier than a disposable diaper box. (I wish you could see how pink my cheeks are to share this one with you!)



I mentioned earlier this week that I could not wait for the Organize Your Closet workshop to begin. And by that, I meant that I really cannot wait! So I’ve already downloaded my materials and have begun taking my first steps towards organized closet bliss! The workshop doesn’t actually open until March 13, 2012, but hey, there are perks to working here. I can pick Aby’s brain as I go (just like the workshop participants will be able to do), but the one major downside to starting now is that I don’t have all the other participants in the workshop forum for added support and inspiration.


That is a bummer, so my work-around is that I’m going to share my progress on the blog over the next couple weeks. I will be looking to all of you to help keep my accountable and to give me a push if I get stuck on something. I hope you won’t mind. After all, you are my lifetime BFFs now, remember? 


Happy Organizing!

Jens signature black


December 31, 2011

Six Ways to Turn Your Resolutions into Realities

As the new year approaches, have your thoughts turned to setting New Year’s resolutions? As someone whose life is centered around helping others create change, I find January to be the most exciting time of the year. It’s time to wipe the slate clean and start anew. It’s time to leave the old and turn your thoughts to creating change. If you’ve set resolutions in the past, only to find your enthusiasm fading a few days into January, there are simple things you can do to make this year different. 


Following are techniques you can use to transform your resolutions into realities. These strategies are things you can do on your own and they’re also built into simplify 101’s online workshops. I hope you enjoy reading about these ideas, but most of all, I hope you use them to create exciting, positive change in your life in the months ahead! Here’s how to do it. 


Tap into what you really want. Is your typical resolution list a list of things you should do instead of a list of things you want to do? Give yourself permission to dream about what you truly want. Maybe you’ve grown tired of the clutter in your home, or the stress of the morning routine as you and your family race around looking for homework papers, backpacks or something clean to wear. Or perhaps you keeping wishing for a new job, or you dream about eating healthier, getting in shape or going on a tropical vacation.



Regardless of the nature of your dream, the first step in making your resolutions a reality is to listen to those little whispers (or loud shouts) that are telling you what you really want. Capture those dreams in a journal or simply jot them down on a piece of paper. 


simplify 101’s online workshops include worksheets and exercises to help you become crystal clear about your goals for the workshop and the changes you want to make in your home and life. I share a simple formula you can use to create an ultra-compelling goal statement that motivates you to take steps forward. 


Focus on fewer things to create more lasting results. If your New Year’s resolution list typically looks like a laundry list of every single thing you’d like to change about yourself and your life, try a new approach this year. Focus on just one or two meaningful changes. You’ll create results more quickly and those results are more likely to stick. Last year, for example, I started the year by adding just one more workout session to my weekly routine. And guess what—I’m still doing it! If you start to want to do it all now, say this mantra to yourself:  Fewer things. More results.


Our online workshops are designed to help you stay focused on fewer things, so you create lasting results. In Organizing 101, you start with one small organizing project—so you’re certain to start and finish during the course of the workshop, and then you put together a plan for tackling the rest of your projects—one at a time. 


Decide to do it! Once you’ve created a list of things you want, the next step is to decide that you’re going to do it! Deciding is the difference between saying “I wish I was more organized” and “I am getting more organized!” Once you’ve decided to do it, cement your decision by doing something that shows your commitment.  Tell a friend about your resolution. Or join a simplify 101 workshop and share your decision with me and the online community. By deciding, and then going public with your decision, you’ll motivate yourself to take action. 


Give yourself permission to ask for help. As someone who is very independent, I know this one is tough. But asking for help is truly an empowering thing to do. So if you don’t have all the answers about how to accomplish your goal, or there’s something that you know for sure is standing in your way, reach out for the resources, ideas and people you need to get moving. Help can come in many forms. You could research ideas online, read a book, take a class, ask a friend for help, or work with a coach or mentor. Regardless of the form of assistance you choose, you will get where you want to be more quickly and you’ll enjoy the process more, too. Last year’s goal to start a new weekly exercise class is a terrific example. My instructor inspired me to work harder than I ever would have worked while exercising at home alone, and as a result, I felt better and got in better shape much faster than I would have on my own. 


Simplify 101’s online workshops include great information AND access to the expert who created the content. This means you’ll get answers to your questions, stay motivated, and achieve your goals! 


Take action now! Here’s another mantra for you:  Action creates change! So the sooner you begin taking steps in the direction of your goal, the sooner you’ll cross the finish line! So why not start right now? You don’t have to figure out every single detail before you get started. Instead, figure out one or two steps you could take, and then just take them. As you move forward, you’ll create momentum and enthusiasm, which means all the steps to come become easier and easier to take. Believe me, the hardest workout class I went to in 2011 was the very first one. (I was sore for four days!) Every single class after that was easier, because I had the confidence that I could do it! As you take action, you’ll gain confidence, and the next steps forward will become easier and easier to see and accomplish. 


simplify 101’s online workshops are designed to make it simple to take action! Every workshop includes straightforward action steps you can take right away, as soon as you’re finished reading each lesson. Plus you can share your progress with the online community, which means you’ll feel accountable to move forward, and you’ll be inspired by what your classmates are doing, too.  


Build your goal into your schedule. Regardless of the goal you’re going after, you’ll be (much, much!) more likely to achieve it if you make it a part of your regular routine. Decide when you will work on your organizing projects, or go to the gym or search for that new, fulfilling job. When I think about my new exercise habit, there are many reasons I was able to make this change stick. But one of the biggies is that I found a way to fit fitness into my schedule. My workout class happened to be at exactly the same time as my daughter’s Saturday Taekwondo class, which meant it was simple to fit the class into my regular routine. As you consider the changes you’d like to make in 2012—whether it’s to get more organized or go after another goal—carve out time in your schedule to make it happen.




Our online workshops always fit your schedule. You don’t have to be online at any set time to take a simplify 101 workshop. Instead, once a lesson is released, you can log in and access the lesson materials any time that works for you—day or night!


So there you have it, six simple and effective techniques you can use to transform your resolutions into realities in 2012! I wish you the happiest of new years and much success on your journey to your goals.


 P.S. We’ve also made our online workshops risk-free to try. Check out our cancellation policy, and then, sign up for a workshop! Let’s make 2012 the best year yet!  

December 30, 2011

Happy Friday!

Well my friends, this is it—the last Friday of 2011! Do you have big plans for welcoming in the New Year? We’re going to celebrate at home with a nice dinner, crackling fire, and maybe a good movie. It will be quiet and relaxing…and I’m really looking forward to it. But before we get to that (or maybe after) there are some things to get done! Here are my lists: 

Checklist-copyright-simplify101Play List

  • Boot camp. My cold is gone, so I’m going back in for another week of boot camp. Woohoo! It feels so good to be heading into a new year with a good fitness habit built into my routine. I’m looking forward to adding more fitness in 2012.
  • New Year’s Eve celebration. Really looking forward to a relaxing end to 2011 and start to 2012.


To Finish

  • Freebie Friday post. That’s right—I’ve got a super fun Freebie Friday later today. So be sure to come back and enter!
  • Laundry. I’m in good shape right now—I’ve been doing laundry throughout the week. It really seemed to multiply last weekend. So this week the goal is just to do a couple of loads and start the week with empty hampers. (I love starting the week with empty hampers. Weird, right?)
  • January’s Get Organized Checklist. Keep your eyes out for that this weekend!
  • Put away the holiday decorations and take down the tree. 
  • Take care of a few more returns. 
  • Finish 2011 bookkeeping. We’re in really good shape—just a few little missing pieces to get into place. Hooray! It always feels good to have that done. 


So…it will be a mix of busy activity and relaxation on Saturday night. I hope you have a terrific weekend, and a safe and happy New Year!


P.S. Are you excited about creating change in the New Year, like I am? Join me in the online workshop How to Achieve Your Goals + Create a Life You Love! It’s a January tradition here at simplify 101 and I’d love to have you join in the fun this year. Tap into the power of goals and see how much fun it is to create a life you love!


September 29, 2011

Create a Sick Stash - Organize Supplies Before You Need Them

We all do our part to avoid getting sick, but how can you be prepared for the inevitable during cold and flu season? Jennifer shares her ideas on creating a "Sick Stash" to help get her and her family through the sick days.


Cold and flu season, you are so not welcome! We have already had our first big bout of illnesses at my house, and nearly everyone I talk to seems to be coming down with, or just getting over, something. Ideally these things would strike at a more convenient time, right? But you know how it really works. In our case last week, I reached down to detect a feverish forehead just as my husband was packing for business travel. There we were – the children and me - virtually homebound for 4 days. And it’s always the way it goes, isn’t it? You are also sick, or your partner is sick, or everyone is wildly contagious and ought to be quarantined for three weeks… Ah, but I suppose there’s never truly a good time for illness, no matter what.


I did have a bright spot in the week of sickies, though. I didn’t have to text a friend to ask them to please pick up children’s ibuprofen. That seems to be the thing we never have when we need it, which is odd because it’s a medicine chest staple! I’m not the kind of person who can’t ask for help, but it was a relief to feel prepared for the illness at hand. That sense of relief got me thinking about the other things we seem to not have but really, really need when illness strikes. And then… AHA! Why did I never think of this before? If I create a stash of supplies to keep on hand, I’ll be a lot more prepared for sickness even if I am also sick/have a sick or travelling spouse/am required to wear a hazmat suit.



I made a quick list of things we seem to need or need extra of, scrounged up an unused canvas bin, and (as soon as we were well enough to get the store) put it all together. Here’s what I included:

  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Applesauce
  • White soda
  • Gatorade
  • Children’s ibuprofen
  • Tissues
  • Toilet paper
  • Cough drops
  • Disinfectant wipes



Honestly, this is all stuff that we usually have on hand (unless someone is ill and we actually really, really need it), except for the disinfectant wipes. I generally make my own cleaners and try to avoid commercial stuff. But when I’m up against something like strep or norovirus, it’s chemical warfare time. I also find it easier to grab one of those wipes and swipe over everything my sweet little germ-spreaders touch.


I am certainly not inviting illnesses to visit us again anytime soon, but I do wonder if my Sick Stash will be as handy as I expect it to be. What else would you include? What would you leave out?


Wishing you wellness,


March 09, 2011

Stay on Top of Paper Clutter: weekly quick tip

My command central binder is one of my favorite home organizing systems. This simple, yet effective system tames paper clutter by keeping regularly used papers organized and easy to access. It will save you time searching for important papers, and put an end to unsightly paper clutter.



If you’re drowning in paper clutter, take time this week to set up a household reference binder (a.k.a. command central binder) for your regularly accessed papers. Corral together papers like carry-out menus, sports schedules and phone directories in a simple three-ring binder. (You can get complete step-by-step instructions for creating your customized binder via my f r e e download How to Create a Household Reference Binder.)


Business-card-holders-copyright-simplify101 If you’ve already received the download but haven’t set up your binder yet, why not make it your goal to spend fifteen minutes a day this week working on this project until it’s done? Or, if you’re already using a command central binder, take a few minutes this week to make sure it’s up to date. Create or update a list of emergency contact numbers, and weed out any papers that are no longer current.


Stop-sign-copyright-simplify101 Take Action! Whether you’re starting from scratch or just need to maintain your command central binder, take fifteen minutes today to make progress on this essential paper organizing system.



Happy organizing,
p.s. Do you need more ideas and easy to use systems for your paper clutter? My online workshop Organize Your Paper Clutter shows you how to set up functional and attractive systems for all the paper in your home. Get out from under the burden of your paper clutter. Class begins Tuesday, March 15th, so grab your spot today!

July 24, 2009

Are you joining me…

for finish it Friday this Week?

I’m happy to say that last week’s project of listing the bike trailer on Craig’s list was a huge success. It sold in 24 hours! Woohoo! I haven’t decided what to finish this weekend…but I know this for sure—finishing something will feel oh-so good!

Let me know if you’re in, and what you plan to finish this weekend.

June 12, 2009

Finish It Friday!

I’m starting something new today, and you’re invited to play along! What is this something new? It’s called Finish It Friday, an idea inspired by a forum discussion from inside the current session of Organizing 101. I will do this from time to time on Fridays, so keep your eyes open for more Finish It Fridays. (It won’t be every week because then what would happen to our friend “Freebie Friday?” Not to worry…we’re not going there.)

So, what’s it all about? Well, Finish It Friday is all about getting a nagging to-do off of your to-do list before the end of the weekend. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to decide to finish something that has been lingering on your to-do list for way longer than you ever anticipated or wanted.

Why should you get in on the fun? Well…because lingering to-dos feel icky and completion feels good. Started but not yet complete to-dos are draining; checking them off your list is energizing! Plus, it will be loads of fun! You’ll know that while you’re busily working toward a well-deserved check mark, others will be, too! You’ll get to experience how saying your going to do something makes you accountable for actually doing it—and this is very empowering! (I’ve gotten up at 5 AM five days straight due to this type of accountability. It really does work.)

What kind of to-do counts? Anything! (As long as it is an in-process project or should-have-been-take-care-of-a-long-time-ago to-do and finishing it would be particularly freeing for you.)

Here’s mine for the week.


This clipboard has been a work-in-process for quite some while—since our very first online workshop, in fact, when I put together this project download. At the time I wasn’t sure what to use it for, since it was put together part way, just for taking the step-by-step photos for the handout. Last weekend, upon doing some reorganizing in Kailea’s room…I found a use for a clipboard—holding sheet music for the current song she is learning in guitar. The best part is…this took me under 30 minutes to completely finish up (sanding, adding the rub-ons and decoupaging.) And now…no more nagging clipboard that isn’t done! 

So…do you have any lingering projects on your to-do list? Like I mentioned, this doesn’t have to be anything big (mine certainly wasn’t) just something that for one reason or another you haven’t gotten around to finishing. Your Finish It Friday project can be any of the following:

  • Any incomplete craft project such as half-finished scrapbook pages or mini albums that just need a few more bits added to make it done! Or, a home décor crafting project that has been stalled for some reason.
  • An almost finished organizing project. Maybe you intend to add labels to your organized pantry—but haven’t gotten around to it yet. (Wouldn’t it feel good to have that d-o-n-e?) Or perhaps you have that left over little pile of stuff you haven’t quite yet decided what to do with when you organized your closet. This could be your Finish It Friday project. Simply decide that you’re going to decide about the items lingering in that little pile…and then go decide! 
  • A nearly complete decorating project. Hang up those pictures! Or wrap up any other last-minute details so you can call that project done.
  • A simple item on your to-do list that you’ve been procrastinating on…because it seems unpleasant, feels like it will take too long, or just because you haven’t made the time for it as of yet. Sew that button on the shirt! Write that thank you note. Make *that one* phone call. 
  • In a nut shell, any little project or to-do that has been lingering for longer than you’d like that you can finish up by the end of the weekend!

To play along with Finish It Friday, simply:

  1. Choose a project. Don’t over-think this…just pick something that has been living on your to-do list (written or mental!) for too long. It doesn’t have to be anything big…just something incomplete and annoying!

  2. Post your plan in the comments.

  3. Complete your to-do by the end of the weekend. That’s right, simply check this item off your list before you go to bed on Sunday (and be sure to let us know you did it in the comments section!)!

  4. Enjoy the power of completion!

Sound like fun? I can’t wait to hear what you finish this weekend!

December 08, 2006

freebie friday returns!

I woke up this morning with a tremendous amount of energy and the desire to get things done! Completion is a wonderful thing. Wouldn’t you agree?

I’m guessing I’m not alone in this next one, either. I have just a few things hanging around my to-do list that I’ve started but haven’t completed. And these things are draining my energy on a daily basis. So I decided that today was officially “completion day.” I’m going to get done as many in-process projects and simple tasks as humanly possible. My goal is completion.

And then I thought: “Why should I have all the fun? I bet there’s at least one blogger out there that has started a project or two, or wants to do a simple five minute task, but hasn’t done it yet.” And so … Freebie Friday Returns.

Here’s how it works. All you have to do is complete something … it can be big or little …but it has to be something that’s been hanging over your head … either because you don’t look forward to finishing it or simply because you haven’t found the time. Maybe you need to sew a button on a pair of pants. Perhaps you started a letter to a friend a month ago and just never got around to putting it in an envelope and mailing it. Maybe you have school pictures to mail off to friends or relatives. Maybe you started a scrapbook page or project… got a bit stuck and never got around to finishing it up. The idea is that this is something that’s draining you … nagging at you … just making life a bit less pleasant. Let’s check it off the list … today! OK?

I realize you may have had some other plans today … so you have until 9 PM central this Sunday. Post a comment on this blog post with your list of everything you’ve completed. It can be just one thing … that’s fine! Just get something nagging and annoying off your to-do list and you’ve qualified. And what’s the freebie???

How about a command central binder in your choice of color? Sounds yummy! Simply post a comment on this blog post telling me what you’ve completed, by Sunday evening at 9 PM central. I’ll then randomly draw one commenter from a hat and announce the command central binder winner on the blog Sunday evening. If you’re the winner, email me your mailing address and then, first thing Monday a command central binder will be headed your way! 

OK … good luck! And remember … I’m right there with you in spirit checking nagging little things off my to-do list, too! Talk to you on Sunday!

June 16, 2006

creative organizing challenge(s)

Two challenges this week.

The first one is just in time for father's day. My Dad was in town for a two day visit this week. It was wonderful. I don't get to see him as much as I'd like ... he lives in Michigan and I'm outside of St. Louis. So, when we get together it's always special. 200606_grandpa_pete_grandma_norma_fire_f

Yesterday, we went to a local water park. It was Dad, his wife, my two kids and me. We had a great time (minus a few mishaps with sunscreen application ... but that's a whole other story.) I had a chance to browse through some magazines while we were there. One of them was Everyday with Rachel Ray (a great one by the way.) She had a story about her mom ... it was a one page tribute to her mom who's birthday is in July. At the bottom, she had a section called "Like Mother, Like Daughter" where she had six statements that started with "I am my mother's daughter because ..." I instantly thought scrapbook page! And with father's day just around the corner the timing was perfect. How about making a "like father, like daughter" page or mini album for your dad using "I am my father's daughter because ..." sentences for the journaling? I love Rachel's idea! Quick, simple and great tribute to dad.

The second challenge is directly related to the post below called "Live BIG, blog BIG" prompted by Stacy. Filling it out was way fun ... especially the one about what big idea am I glad I acted on.

If you took my "what's in your bucket" class with big picture scrapbooking, you may remember that I used a quote from Brian Tracy. If you aren't familiar with his work ... it is great. He has written many books on a variety of topics, but my favorites are the ones on goals. In one of his programs he asks the question "What would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?" It's an excellent question. Fear of failure holds us back from our true potential ... from living a life we'd love ... from dreaming BIG.

So for this week's challenge, answer the question "What would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?" Something may pop into your mind right away ... or you may need to brainstorm for a while. You may want to scrapbook about this, jot it down on a piece of paper, or write about it in a journal. Use whatever approach works for you ... but let's dream. And let's dream BIG. Deal?

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