December, 2009 browsing by month


7 Most Effective Organize-O-Metrics

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Perform these exercises once a month to lose 5-7 pounds of excess weight each time. ( As an added side effect, you may lose weight and build stronger bones.)42-15614410

  1. Deep knee bends: Bending knees, keeping back straight, lift one item from the floor.  Place the item in a drawer, cupboard or box nearest to where you will next need it.  Keep a trash can handy for extra balance and to store things that have no further use.  Repeat 20 times.
  2. Lower abdominal tighteners: Equipment – empty laundry basket.  In your main closet, pull in your lower abdomen and hold it.  Taking one item from a hanger, put it on.  If unable to fit over your head, close the front, or fasten waist, place in the laundry basket.  Breathe out as you release your abdominal muscles and commit that piece of clothing to another home.  Repeat 10 times.  ( Reuse filled basket in exercise #3)
  3. Step stool high-stepping: Write on 2 index cards: KEEP and GIVE. Determine the least accessible shelf or cupboard in your kitchen. Using a step stool, remove everything from that space. While performing the exercise, ask yourself two questions about each item you touch:  1) Have I used this within 2 years? If  “No,” put the item in the GIVE  pile. If “Yes,” ask the second question,  2) Do I use it at least once a month? If “No,” put it back where it came from. If “Yes,” find a new home in a more accessible location.  Add the clothes from the laundry basket to the GIVE pile and dispose of everything by donating to a friend, charity, or the trash man.
  4. Hip flexers: Equipment – One or more 25 CD/DVD storage containers. Sit on the floor facing your media center with knees apart. Lean forward and pick up one DVD or CD. Return to the upright position and open the case while taking a deep breath. If the case has the correct disc, close it and set it in the container. If not, remove any disc and place both to the side for now. Breathe out. Repeat until all CD/DVD’s have been removed. Match up any newly discovered pairs and place in the storage container.  Empty cases then are placed behind the loaded cases and lone CD/DVD’s placed in sandwich bags go in front. One final step to finish this exercise strong: flip through each title and let go of those that no longer hold any interest for you.
  5. Lower back stretch: Equipment – a plastic bin labeled MOVE.  Lying on the floor face down near a bed, reach with your left arm to capture the nearest container-escapee from under the bed. Place it in the plastic bin. Repeat four more times, then do the same motion five times with right arm. Continue until the floor under the bed is cleared. Use the items in the container in exercise # 6.
  6. Cool down: Pick one item from the container filled in exercise #5. Decide which person uses that and where. Walk from room to room at a medium pace, depositing each item close to the door of the appropriate room. DO NOT STEP INSIDE THE ROOM! Keep walking until the container is empty.
  7. One last stretch: Crossing one foot over the other, slowly pick up the laundry basket from exercise #3. Change foot position, crossing the other foot in front and slowly pick up the plastic bin from exercise #6. Place in the laundry basket and lift both over your head. Stretching as high as you can, say, “I did it!” Put both containers away until next month.

Now you can go weigh the items in your GIVE pile to see how much weight you lost this month. Congratulations!

I Simply Remember My Favorite Things: Stocking Stuffers

Monday, December 21st, 2009

We still have four days to shop before Christmas. I told my husband this morning I had to pick up a couple more things. His reply was, “Don’t get any large items, we have to fit luggage into the car yet!” We are heading for VA to watch grandchildren open presents on Friday.  Woo hoo!

In case you are still trying to come up with things for stocking stuffers, these are a few of my favorite things:

  1. Mead 4″ X 6″ faux leather address book:  I keep mine next to my computer to record all those annoying passwords every site needs. Keeps info     alphabetical and handy, so I can toss it in a suitcase to use on vacation if necessary. Found this treasure at Odd Lots for $2.99.
  2. Good Grips Mag Tacks: This gift means never having to say you’re sorry you put holes in your favorite photos. Can be used as simple pushpin, or a pin with magnet on top.   $6.99 at Container Store.

  3. Mini Magnet Strips: This gift puts versatile mini-storage on any wall. The possibilities of what to stick to these are endless. Use for an art rack, photo holder, or to contain little things with the next gift suggestion. On sale for $3.99 at Container Store
  4. See & Store Containers:  Perfect magnetic storage for office supplies, beads, or even spices. 4 for $1.99 at Container Store.
  5. Magnetic 3″ x 8″ To Do pads: Always have one on your refrigerator for grocery needs or a note to say where you went. Target usually has these in the $1 bin. The high end Post-It version is at Staples for $4.99.
  6. Velcro Get a Grip straps: These are great to bundle wires or to contain cords for small appliances. Five colors makes this fun even for people who hate electric cords, like me. $3.99 at Office Max.
  7. Specialty-colored duct tape: Even if you think this is a stupid suggestion, you’ve got to check out this site: for all the color possibilities.  I know a teenage boy who has a ball making all kinds of things out of duct tape. He pulled his red, white, and blue wallet out to show me one day. Your loved one can join the Duck Tape Club and get instructions for all kinds of crafts.
  8. A book for a little tyke: Duck! Rabbit! Very cute and will match the above gift. Interesting take on a classic optical illusion.
  9. The new game Bananagrams: Finally, a kid-friendly version of the crossword game Scrabble. Comes in its own banana-shaped pouch.  You have to find this at specialty game stores as the inventor refused to sell to the big box  stores.

Have fun getting those little things that make life interesting.  Don’t forget to get a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. All you have to do is pour the pieces out on a table and the family gathers.  That is what makes the holidays so special.

Drowning in Paper? Do the Perennial Paper Purge!

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Paper piles

Most small businesses and family units use the calendar year as their fiscal year for tax purposes. That makes December the wrap-it-up month (no pun intended) of the fiscal year.

Whether you celebrate Hanukah, Christmas or another holy day, the pace at the office and at home slows that last week of December.  Perhaps it is because your colleagues take vacation, school activities are on hold, and the kids are busy playing with new toys. As of this writing that week will be here in 8 days!

Take advantage of the slow down to shake out files from 2009. Here are a few ideas to get your reduction juices going.

  1. Weed out articles you thought you would read, but never got around to.
  2. Finish recording new addresses and recycle the holiday cards.
  3. Enter automobile expenses into a spreadsheet and ditch the gas receipts and repair bills.
  4. Make files for your hobbies and fill with those good ideas that you have floating around.
  5. Donate any magazines you have not read to a doctor, dentist, or senior center.
  6. Take all newspaper piles to your nearest animal shelter.
  7. Print out record retention guidelines and write in bold letters next to each category the earliest month and year that should be kept.   (Ex.  Pay stubs -  January 2009, until verified with W-2,  birth certificate – PERMANENTLY)

    The ABC’s of Important Papers – Julie Morgenstern


    [intlink id="what-financial-records-to-keep-and-how-long-to-keep-them" type="page" target="_blank"]What Financial Records to Keep and How Long to Keep Them[/intlink] –

  8. Shred documents in each category that are have dates prior to your cut off.
  9. Get a head start on tax preparation by pulling together all of your charitable receipts and business expenses.  A couple of hours of work now can mean a speedy refund by March.  Be aware that your accountant has the last word on which documents you need to complete tax forms. When in doubt, do NOT throw it out!

Have your paper shredder handy for sensitive documents, along with a box or black trash bag for papers you can’t recycle.

Paper purging is best done with a refreshing drink in front of those Bowl games, while watching the kids play on the floor, or with soothing music in the background. Think of it as a “paper purging party!”  You will be that much ahead going into the New Year!

Downsizing: The 100 Thing Challenge, Dream or Nightmare?

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Well, Dave Bruno’s personal 100 Thing Challenge timed out on his birthday this past November. This is how he described his intent last summer in his blog, aguynameddave:

Goal: By November 12, 2008 I will only have 100 personal things. I will live with only 100 personal things for one full year, until November 12, 2009.

Dave writes that he wants to distance himself from rampant American consumerism. His list of the 100 things he is keeping is an interesting read. Dave is a hiker, surfer, writer, and Christian. I don’t know Dave, but I can tell a lot about him from his list.

In an interview with, Dave explains what prompted this movement.

“Stuff starts to overwhelm you,” says Dave Bruno, 37, an online entrepreneur who looked around his San Diego home one day last summer and realized how much his family’s belongings were weighing him down.

Do you feel the same? Are you ready to downsize? Does the thought of reducing your belongings to only 100 things inspire you or make you break out in a cold sweat? I honestly don’t know if I want to live at quite that level of minimalism. However, I believe that a return to the basics would be a great  side benefit of our recent economic downturn here in the U.S.

Possessions can truly own us as we struggle to clean, maintain, replace, and endlessly upgrade the “stuff.”  Shedding a few extra pounds of belongings can be very freeing! I have experienced that in my own life, and watched the look of joy on client’s faces when they feel that themselves.

So, in the spirit of congratulating Dave on his courageous journey, here are a few suggestions to help us all pare down gradually.

  1. For every new item you bring into your home, determine to lose another item.
  2. Twice a month go through one drawer or cabinet. Separate the stuff you have used within the past year from the unused items. If there is something in the unused pile that you are certain to need in the near future, keep it.  Otherwise gift that entire pile to trash man, friend, relative, or charity.
  3. If you have clothing you don’t really like or is too large/small, give it away.
  4. Think of those collections of things you are keeping “just in case” – cool whip containers, newspapers, magazines, old ribbons and bows, gift boxes, string, rubber bands off the broccoli. Decide on a small number (maybe 1/4 of the number you now have) and dispose of the rest.
  5. Is there a hobby that you have outgrown? Find another enthusiast and make his day.
  6. Do you have possessions that are starved for affection? You have so many other things that you never use that one? Remind yourself, “This thing needs someone to love and care for it!” Be kind to that item and find it a good home where it will be cherished.

Three years ago, my husband and I moved downtown to a condo that is 40% smaller than our old home. The process of letting go of things was not an easy one. We are glad we persisted. Our time spent in maintenance is now minimal. We walk to sporting events, movies, and restaurants (maybe even a casino soon, though I sincerely hope not!) We are thoroughly enjoying getting back to basics!

Perhaps you will be inspired by this quote from a true minimalist. “I had three chairs in my house: one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”  – Henry David Thoreau, the ultimate downsizer.

Ricky Scaggs Sings About a Simple Life

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Life used to be simpler, didn’t it? Or are we only remembering from a child’s much simpler viewpoint?

Do you remember walking through fields and scaring up huge juicy grasshoppers that spit “tobacco” on your hands when you caught them?

Do you remember decorating your bike with streamers to ride it in the 4th of July parade?

Do you remember listening for the ice cream man and running like mad to get money before he passed your house?

Do you remember playing “hide n’ seek” in the twilight relishing those last few minutes before the street lights came on and you would be called home?

Do you remember the smell of burning leaves in the fall before that was banned for cleaner air?

Do you remember who was the perfect light stringer, ornament hanger, or tinsel spreader when you put up a Christmas tree?

Do you remember banging on pots and pans when the clock struck twelve, to ring in the New Year?

What are the sights, smells, and sounds that trigger that memory of simpler times for you?

Watch for the airstream on the beach and smile with me, remembering your simple life.

YouTube video by beanscott, October 1, 2007.    “Song by Ricky Skaggs. I loved this song because it so reminded me of the kind of life my dad has lived, one of simple devotion to God, as well as his family.”

Drug Litigation and Professional Organizing?

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Using Google Alerts is one way I keep up with current news in the area of professional organizing. Once in a while, I am perplexed when I see the  source. Today is an example. Google found an article from the site Drug Litigation: Get Help With Drug Litigation entitled:

Gain Order Of Your Home By Finding A Professional Organizer

Of course, I had to see if there was a way a professional organizer could actually be of help with drug litigation! Chia Trams wrote an excellent article, citing the many benefits of using a pro organizer’s services in the home. I found links to similar articles that were intriguing as well: Professional Organizers – Patience And Organization To Clean Up The Clutter and Get Rid of Clutter By Adding More Storage In Your Home.

I found no results that mentioned a connection with drugs. Perhaps if you have an organizer in your home, you have a ready-made witness that there were no drugs at that time? That is one benefit that had not occurred to me before! 

Mapping Out Your Perfect Holiday Activity

Friday, December 4th, 2009

A popular saying is, “You have to make time for the important things in life.” The truth is, each day we have all the time we are going to get – 24 hours – then that day is done, gone, kaput! We can’t really make time, we can only manage wisely what we have.

Just as with a dollar in a candy store, you can only spend the time you are given… once.  What is one important thing you definitely want to accomplish this holiday season? Is it to…

  • Give of yourself to someone in need

  • Reconnect with a distant loved one

  • Connect in a real way with someone close to you

  • Celebrate spirit-filled traditions with your children

  • Express gratitude to those responsible for the good things in your life

  • Create a meaningful memory for your family

Choose one activity that is of utmost priority to you. Commit yourself to making that happen. Then take these steps to insure that you make it to your destination on time.
road map
1. Write down your goal. Commit yourself on paper to accomplish this one thing if nothing else. Set a deadline for yourself: when will you be done and what is the result you want (how will you know when you have reached your goal?) Remember that you can only control your actions, so set a goal about what you do, not how someone else will respond.

2.  Plan the steps to take.
On that same sheet of paper, write down what it will take to get the job done. Will you call someone, contact a volunteer effort? Will you plan a special trip or activity?

3. Recognize supporting actions. For each step you have written, answer this question – What must happen before you are able to take that step? Do you need to hunt information? Will you have to go to the store to purchase supplies? Write these supporting actions down next to that step.

4. Make your time map. Now you are ready to plug these action steps into your daily calendar, thinking “When do I have to have this done so I can…?” take the next step to meet your deadline and ultimate goal.

Now you have the full picture of the actions you must take, the time you must spend to accomplish your mission. At this point, I am always shocked by the actual time and effort that my chosen activity will take.

That is why choosing to do what is important and non-urgent (rather than to obey the tyranny of the urgent) is both extremely hard to do and vital to your character and success.

My request to you: Don’t let today end before you identify your #1 priority action. Write down your exact goal and deadline. Then complete steps 1-4. You now have the map to get to your desired destination on time! You can do it, just follow your map!