simplify 101
Creative Organizing Blog

December 14, 2012

Let's Get Organized for the Weekend

Hello friends, and hello Friday. I hope you had a great week. Mine flew by, once again. Big projects and December aren't a good mix! Add to that a sick boy (he has missed more school this week than in all the years up until now combined!) and, let's just say, I feel like life is on overdrive right now.'s time to regroup and look ahead to the weekend. Here's what's up for me:


  • Boot camp.
  • Neighborhood Christmas party. 


  • Pack and ship Christmas gifts. 
  • Plan meals and shop.
  • Laundry. There's always a lot...but when you have a sick person in the house, it just goes on and on and on! 
  • Work on simplify 101 project. More to do!
  • Tie up loose ends for Christmas. I need to do a final check of the shopping list and a general sanity check to be sure I'll be ready in time. 

That's the most important stuff. What's on your list?

Have a great weekend!


P.S. We're getting ready to list the next session of the online workshop Organize Your Creative Space. It will be on early bird later if "organize scrapbook space" is on your project list for 2013, consider yourself invited. It's a really fun workshop that will help you set up a creative work area that's inspiring and works great for you. :)

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,


December 05, 2012

There’s more than one way to get there…

This is a sample of my weekly Quick Tip email. If you don't yet subscribe, you can sign up here


In January this year, just like every January for as long as I can remember, I wrote down a few goals I wanted to accomplish in the 12 months ahead. When I wrote down those goals, little did I know the bumps I would encounter just a few months down the road.


One of my goals was to run in a 10K. When I set the goal, this was twice as far as my previous longest distance. Nonetheless, in January the goal felt doable. I had mentally targeted the fall for running my 10K, and by June I was halfway there. But then, the road got bumpy. Just after I ran in a 5K race, my dad’s health took a drastic turn for the worse. Needless to say, my goal of running a 10K was quickly replaced with the goal of spending as much time as possible with my dad in Michigan.


After my dad passed away in August, it was running that kept me going. The goal of running a 10K was still in the back of my mind, but a different, shorter race called out to me. On September 22, 2012, I ran in the Race for Mesothelioma, which was a 5K. I ran in honor of my dad and in hopes of taking one step closer to a finding a cure for the disease that took his life.


When I ran that race, it felt like it would have to be the replacement for the 10K. I didn’t feel like there was enough time before the end of the year to find a 10K to run in and to also double my distance. By chance, and with my goal of a 10K fading, I joined an online challenge to run 43 miles in the month of October. I ended up running more than 45 miles that month, and then decided to bring my total miles to 100 in November. My last run in November—the one that pushed me over the 100-mile mark—was a 10-kilometer run by myself on the streets of my town. It wasn’t the organized 10K race I had pictured in my mind in January, but it was very much my 10K goal achieved. I simply took a different path to the goal. While there was no cheering crowd, timer or finish line at the end, the sense of accomplishment I felt on November 30 was remarkable.


I share this story because often we get so hung up on how we are going to accomplish something that we forget the original intent of the goal. My goal wasn’t to run in a specific 10K race—the race was simply the path I pictured myself taking to accomplish my real goal:  being able to run 10 kilometers without stopping. 


If there’s something you want that feels out of reach today—whether it is a clutter-free home, better relationships, a higher paying job or more time to do the things you love—try a different path. There’s always more than one way to get there, and that applies to anything you want to do. And you just never know…the next path you try may turn out to be the ultimate shortcut to your goal.



December 03, 2012

Monday Check In

Happy Monday morning! How was your weekend? Here’s a quick update on mine…



  • Boot camp. Ouch! Errr….I mean check!
  • Basketball game. Check! Very exciting game, but we lost by 2.
  • Set December fitness goal. I’m remembering why I stopped going to boot camp while I was trying to hit mileage goals in running. Doing both was a bit too much for the muscles. I've decided that I'm not going to set a specific mileage goal in December so I can handle boot camp a bit better. My December fitness goal is to run or go to boot camp three times per week. (Long way of saying:  check!)


  • Laundry. Check!
  • Plan meals for the week. Check!
  • Holiday preparation. Planning Kailea’s birthday celebration counts as holiday prep around here…so I get a nice little check mark on this one, too!
  • Make progress on a simplify 101 project. Check, check, check! Spent lots of time on this over the weekend…
  • Get a birthday gift for my sister. Check!
  • Return socks. Check! Okay…so the alarm did not go off when we walked back into the store…which explains how we got out of the store with the security thingies attached to the socks. What's more is that nobody wondered why we were returning the socks and didn’t seem at all concerned that the socks still had the security thingies attached. It seems there are a few flaws in that particular security system, but hey, I got a check mark. That's what really counts, right? ;)

How was your weekend? 


November 30, 2012

Hello Friday…

Are you back again already? Indeed you are…as hard to believe as it is. Around here it’s been a busy week. We are working like crazy on some exciting projects, but those are leaving little time for much else, like blogging, for example. I am soooo excited to share what we’ve been working on…just as soon as it is ready. And I’m soooo excited to get back to some regular blogging, just as soon as some of these other things are off my plate. Thanks for hanging in there with me during this blogging lull.


Are you up for some weekend to-do list sharing? Here’s my list:



  • Boot camp. I haven’t run since I hit the 100 mile mark. Part of this was due to the busy weeknight schedule we had this week…but the other part is that I want to start going to boot camp again. I've yet to figure out the right mix of the two, but tomorrow I will start figuring it out.
  • Basketball game.
  • Set December fitness goal. This will be some combination of running and boot camp.



  • Laundry.
  • Plan meals for the week.
  • Holiday preparation. Maybe decorate? We’ll see. If I have an eager helper (or two) I may do this…and if not, it can wait.
  • Make progress on a simplify 101 project. Four hours of progress minimum.
  • Get a birthday gift for my sister.
  • Return socks. (The ones that came home from the store with the security thingies still attached, so I had to go to another store to buy socks without security thingies attached so these important socks could be given to Collin in time for his birthday. It will be interesting to see if the alarm sounds on my way into the store…even though it didn’t on my way out!)


Alright…that sounds like enough fun for one girl for one weekend! Wish me luck.


Have a great weekend!


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