November, 2010 browsing by month


More Holiday Organizing Tips to Check Out

Friday, November 19th, 2010

This article is a bit like using two mirrors to look at an infinite number of YOU. I want to share several good articles from ezines / websites I subscribe to. All three have great tips for holiday shortcuts:

  • Countdown to Thanksgiving: Holiday Planner from ADDitude Magazine. This is a VERY detailed list of what to do when in 3 weeks prior to the day. Since you are already down to 2 weeks, you have a bit of catch up to do.
  • 10 Tricks to a Trouble-Free Thanksgiving from Real Simple weekly tips. The article includes an easy menu with shopping list, 24 make-ahead recipes, and how to mastermind a successful potluck Thanksgiving.
  • 101 Days to Christmas by Pro Organizer Cynthia Ewer. When you receive this newsletter, there will be 37 days ‘til Christmas!

Clear Piles of Paper with Speed Sorting

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Do you need to clear clutter and clean for your holiday company but are afraid to move your piles of paper for fear of losing something important?

Where do your paper piles collect? Are they on your desk, kitchen counter, or dining room table? This area must be where you tend to keep bills, projects, invitations, and all the other reading materials you want to get to. The problem is, important papers get mixed in with the “not so much” papers and you miss an opportunity or deadline.

To level the piles right away, try SPEED SORTING. The goal is to see quick results and to find that work surface again! Another plus is we will be identifying those papers that still require action and separating them from the piles that you kept to refer to in the future.
Gather supplies and set aside approximately 45 minutes for the speed sorting process.

The supplies you will need for this exercise are:

  • An IN BOX
    I like the attached, tri-level letter boxes for this, simply because you can label the middle box OUT, and the bottom box TO BE FILED. Then you have three options for handling paper in a relatively small footprint.
  • Colorful File Folders.
    Choose files with stripes, flowers, or buildings in Paris to make your projects stand out.
  • A Banker’s Box or other sturdy box to hold papers.
  • A Desktop Vertical File (optional)

Now, set aside time to begin your sorting. You will need approximately 1 hour to clear your desk with speed sorting. Determine not to answer the phone or leave your work area until you are done with this section.

STEP ONE: Create distinctive PROJECT FILES  Tool #1

To begin, find any supporting documents for projects you are currently working on. A project is a temporary action that has a beginning, middle and an end. [Example: mailing holiday cards to friends and family]

Use one of the colored PROJECT FILES for each project so you can see at a glance where they are in your work area. Label the folder with the name of your project and expected date of completion.
If you want to see the files easily on top of your desk, use the optional incline sorter to hold them. Keeping your PROJECT FILES in a desk file drawer will work also. You want to have these files within arm’s reach to grab quickly.
When you can’t see any more papers that apply to current projects, set the PROJECT FILES to one side. You can add any other relevant documents to the files as they are unearthed.

STEP TWO: Separate ACTION papers and place in the IN BOX   Tool #2

To encourage you to keep moving, set a timer for 30 minutes to complete this step. Stay focused and work quickly.

In this step, you will look at each paper still on your desk briefly and determine the answer to this question:

“Is there something I have to DO with this paper?”

If the answer is YES, you will put the paper in your IN BOX, indicating that it represents ACTION that has to be taken.

If the answer is NO, that means any action associated with that paper is FINISHED and the paper will be kept for reference only. Put that paper in the box you have standing by.

Remember, you are not allowed to leave the area during this process. You may not begin taking action on any paper that you find in the piles. Simply place it in your IN BOX with an “URGENT” note on it. GO!

Done? Hooray! You found all of the papers that you need to take ACTION on. Did you find a few that were URGENT?
The box of FINISHED papers can go under your desk for now (or some other hiding place, preferably not the oven!) You will be able to access anything you discover you need before filing time.
Now you can finish your cleaning to get ready for your holiday company or just breathe a sigh of satisfaction that you can see that surface again. Whew!

NOTE: Speed sorting is only the first step in creating a paper management system that cuts your paper piles down to size… permanently! In my eBook “7 Tools to Conquer Paper Piles Forever!” I walk you through the entire process step-by-step. That resource is available now on my website.

Ins and Outs of Personal Storage

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Every person, and by extension every household, is different. Duh! We all know that, right?

But, have you ever caught yourself thinking, “Why don’t they just do it the RIGHT way?” That right way being what works for you.

This thought pattern is exactly what an organizer has to guard against! There is no one size fits all solution to clutter, storage, or containing stuff.

That is why it is essential to work with a client within the framework of his/her habits and preferences. After the owner decides what to give away or toss, the choice remains – how to contain and store the keepers.

Thankfully, we have more choices than ever on furnishings and storage units. Conversely, with so many options, it can be difficult to make a decision.

Two universal principles in organizing are:

  • Assign a home to every object/paper
  • Store items close to where they are most used

With these general principles in mind, there are a few questions that can help you think through where and how you will store your treasures:

  1. Where do I typically use this item?
  2. When and how often do I use it?
  3. Do I want this item stored with or near similar items I often use with it? [example: wrapping paper, scissors, tape, and ribbon]
  4. How essential is it that I have easy access to this item?
  5. What is problematic about where I currently keep this item?
  6. Even if my current storage system for this item is not ideal, what was the appeal about having it in this spot?

These questions will pinpoint your current habits. You will find it much easier to maintain a storage system that is customized for YOU!