4 Ways to be an Organized Traveler (After You Check In)

On July 23, 2014, in Travel, by Stephanie Shalofsky
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Organized TravelerMy own experiences during a recent business trip started me thinking about how I could be a more organized traveler especially once I checked into my hotel room. I realized that being an organized traveler was a state of mind that should carry through my entire trip.

I not only needed to be able to quickly find my hair dryer, vitamins, and conference schedule, but I also needed to organize all my clothing, toiletries, and work materials so that packing for check-out would take no time at all.

It is very easy to get caught up in the anticipation of the business meetings that you will be attending or the excitement of starting your vacation when checking into your hotel.

But, by taking a few minutes to settle into your hotel room before you get involved in meetings or sightseeing can make all the difference.

4 Ways to be an Organized Traveler

1. Unpack your suitcase. Taking a mere five minutes to quickly unpack your suitcase will save lots of time in the long run. You won’t constantly be rummaging through a pile of clothes to find that shirt which was neatly pressed when you left home.

  • Avoid spreading your clothes throughout the entire dresser so there will be fewer places to check when it comes time to pack.
  • Try to consolidate your clothing by type and place them in only a couple of drawers. For instance, keep all underwear, socks, and bathing suits in one drawer and shirts and sweaters in another.

2. Create zones. Divide your hotel room into zones and place all relevant items in each zone.

  • Place granola bars, bottled water, and other snacks near the coffee machine.
  • All conference materials or travel brochures should be kept on the desk along with your laptop or iPad.
  • Designate a spot for hair drying and putting on makeup outside of the bathroom when traveling with a colleague or significant other so that everyone can get ready at the same time.

3. Keep essentials on the bathroom vanity. While I strongly believe that clothing and shoes should be completely unpacked, take out only those toiletries and makeup items that are used daily and group them bathroom vanity.

The less frequently used Q-tips, aspirin, and band aids can be left in the toiletry kit. I typically find a place for my makeup case and hanging toiletry bag in the bathroom so that they are close by if needed, and packing those items that were used goes faster when it’s time to check out.

4. Collect dirty laundry. If you didn’t bring your own bag for dirty laundry, use the one provided in the closet for smaller items like underwear and socks.

  • Pile pants, shirts and other larger items in one spot on or under the luggage stand.
  • When it’s time to pack, the dirty clothes can be put in first along with your shoes and the remaining clean clothes on top.

Whether you are planning your next business trip or your summer getaway, be an organized traveler. These tips will help keep your room organized so that you can be in and out of your room quickly, have more time to focus on your travel adventures, and not stress over leaving personal items behind when you check out.

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Simplify Your LifeAre you ready for the July 5-Minute Organizing Challenge?

Each month, we share a few things you can do daily for five minutes at a time to get more organized. Since National Simplify Your Life Week is coming up soon (first week in August), we’ll be exploring ways you can simplify by taking five small steps in the form of mini-challenges.

Day 1: Examine your daily life. Figure out what areas (five or less) you are experiencing excess. Is your home or office cluttered with things you don’t use or need? Is your schedule so packed that you have no time for self-care? These are some common areas to begin the process to simplify your life.

Day 2: Create a List. Start thinking about general areas of excess you want to target and jot down a list. You can choose to rank the items in order of priority if you think that would be beneficial to you.

Day 3: Create a List of Solutions. Come up with some possible solutions for the areas you want to work on. Next to each general area, write down some ideas for changes that can be made to improve each situation.

Here are some examples:

  • If your bedroom is cluttered, you can plan to declutter the space under the bed or to organize the closet.
  • If you’re inbox is flooded with tons of unopened emails, create a long-term plan to go through and sort them for 20-30 minutes each day until you’re done.
  • If your car is unorganized, put a plan in place to maintain it after you clear it out (e.g., keep a container for garbage in your car and empty it each time you fill up at the gas station).

Day 4: Pick One Target Area. Select one area of excess to focus on first. Which spot should you choose? You could start with the issue that bothers you most or the one you’ve been avoiding for a while. You might also choose the easiest thing to work on so that it will be achieved quickly which will build your confidence to take on the other areas.

Day 5: Start Working! Finally, spend five minutes simplifying just one area of your life. It may be sorting items in a junk drawer, starting a budget form, or reorganizing the glove compartment in your car. If you aim to do too much at once, that usually leads to feeling overwhelmed. So, take baby steps and stay focused on your goal to simplify your life.

What areas of excess do you think you’ll be working on for this challenge? What one thing will you improve so that you can simplify your life?

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Tidy Friday: How to Avoid Manic MondayFridays can be tough, right? And, they can be especially difficult in the summertime. The weekend is just hours away and your mind can’t focus on anything except walking on the boardwalk at the beach in your flip flops and smelling the wondrousness of funnel cakes and fries.

What if I told you that you could have fun on a Friday afternoon – without playing hooky or doing online shopping – and still be productive? Well, you can have a “Tidy Friday” by doing a little organizing!

I know … I know, you’re probably questioning how organizing be fun to anyone aside from me and my fellow professional organizers! But, by spending the post-lunchtime slump on Friday doing specific organizing tasks, you can make strides in the battle against clutter and avoid “Manic Monday.”

You’ll need:

  • “Tidy Friday” on your calendar (every Friday, 30-60 minutes before you leave work)
  • Peppy music for motivation
  • Cleaning wipes
  • A trash can
  • A paper recycling bin
  • A paper shredder (affiliate link)

Listed below are several areas to work on, but don’t feel like you have to get everything done at once. One of the best tips that any professional organizer will share with you, is to work in small chunks of time, like 15-minute time blocks. If you are motivated, then continue. If not, move onto something else. So, pop a music CD into your computer and let’s go!

6 Things You Can Do on Friday to Avoid Manic Monday


1. The Desk Surface. By the time Friday rolls around, your desk may be holding a week’s worth of mail, sticky note reminders, and have pens and pencils strewn about.

  • The first step is to clear everything off . Then, put the important items from the mail into files and those of no importance into the shredder or recycling bin.
  • For uncompleted sticky note reminders, grab a new notebook, like the Arc Customizable Notebook System, and write down all of those reminders as to do’s for the upcoming week.
  • Finish up by wiping down the surface of your desk and put the remainder of items back on it.

2. Pencil Drawer. Often the nemesis of the desk, the pencil drawer is usually where a variety things like pens and pencils go as well as medicine and meal related items (like ketchup packets and straws). What a jumbled mess it can be!

  • Take everything out and start to sort them with a trashcan nearby. Get rid of broken rubber bands, dried out pens, and anything else that doesn’t work they are supposed to.
  • Give the drawer a good cleaning with a wipe and then put things away.

Often there is a big open space in the drawer aside from the pencil tray. Before buying organizers, check to see if you have any cardboard jewelry boxes at home (both the top and bottom can be used) or even a spare ice cube tray.

3. Small/Medium Size Drawer(s). These drawers may be already be filled with supplies, like sticky notes, note pads, and envelopes.

  • Return some of them back to the supply closet and gain extra space to hold some CDs, plastic silverware, or snacks.
  • As with the pencil drawer, take everything out first, and give it a good cleaning before putting everything back in.

4. File Drawer(s). When was the last time you looked inside your file drawers? You may be surprised by all the outdated information that you find! While some papers may always stay current, some are updated monthly and others annually.

  • Check to make sure that you don’t have duplicate folders.
  • Pull out everything that is outdated. For financial papers, it is best to shred them. Otherwise, pitch unwanted papers in the recycling bin.
Wire Step File Organizer (Amazon affiliate link)

Wire Step File Organizer
(Amazon affiliate link)

5. File Sorter. Are your priority files organized and easily accessible? If not, I recommend getting a file sorter that has an incline (see right).

Why? Remember the movie theater seats of the past, when all the rows used to be at the same level? Vertically challenged people (who are short like me!) had trouble seeing the screen and often ended up having the tallest person sitting in front of them! Tiered seating solved that problem.

These file sorters have the same feature and will help you see the tabs of all of the files easily so you can quickly grab the one you need.

Two things to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to label your files clearly. Use a label maker (affiliate link) if you need to .
  • You can arrange your files in the sorter by deadline or in alphabetical order. Choose the order that you like best.
inbox tray

3-Tier Steel Mesh Desk Tray (Amazon affiliate link)

6. Inbox Tray.  I’m not a big fan of these (see left) because everything may pile up and you can forget what is in the lower trays.

  • One way to still use this system is to have a big white board that corresponds to the files in the piles (hey, that rhymed!).
  • Write down the project name, who it’s for, the date you received it, and then the due date.
  • If possible, add a label to each tray to remind you what the contents are.

This is a great system that I have implemented in the past. Your colleagues and clients will appreciate it, too, so they know where their project stands in the queue. (Hey, that rhymed too!)

So, did you do it all? Did you have a little fun? If so, congrats! Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and say to yourself, “It looks good inside!” And, think about how great you’ll feel on Monday!

What small things do you do on “Tidy Friday” to make Monday more manageable? Share in the comments!

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Keep Track Of Your Connections With Newsle

On July 14, 2014, in Technology, by Nealey Stapleton
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I recently found out about a cool website called Newsle that finds and aggregates all news articles that your connections (e.g. LinkedIn contacts, Facebook friends) are featured in. It’s a fantastic and super easy way to keep up with who’s doing what. Keep Track Of Your Connections With Newsle

It’s still in beta testing and I’ve only been using it for a few months, but keep reading to learn what I think so far.

Newsle’s Cool Features

  • It offers you one place to see all of your connections in the news.



  • You can have the software keep track of your LinkedIn contacts, Facebook friends, public figures, journalists, and your e-mail contacts.



  • You can see who’s getting featured the most with the “Most In The News” box that appears on the top right of the feed.


  • Each article in the news feed is equipped with social share buttons, so you can immediately congratulate your connection.



  • It filters out “social noise” excluding social media updates and only showing real news.
  • You don’t have to visit the Newsle website often to get the information. You can set it up to send you email alerts daily, every three days, or weekly.

What Newsle Can Be Used For

You can use Newsle in a variety of ways to stay in the know:

  • Track accomplishments of connections and congratulate them.
  • See what your competition is doing.
  • Monitor your own online reputation and what’s being said about you.
  • Impress clients and/or potential clients with your very current knowledge of their recent news.
  • Keep up with your favorite public figures like actors, musicians, politicians, athletes and industry-specific celebrities.

Overall this new technology is useful, and I would recommend trying it out. It’s convenient, easy to use, and gives you an unnecessarily big leg up on everyone else who isn’t keeping up with their connections.

Have you used Newsle? What do you think?

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Fact Friday: Music Can Affect How You Think

On July 11, 2014, in Fact Friday, by Deb Lee
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” … researchers brought pedestrians into a laboratory and played them a short, stripped-down piece of music consisting of a series of alternating chords. 

What the scientists found is that the simple act listening to either of these two chord sets changed how people processed information in a very basic way. For example, the researchers asked people to take a list of shopping items and organize them into groups. Think detergent and paper towels: same kind of thing, or different? Results showed that “tritone” people formed fewer categories than “perfect fifth” people, indicating that they were thinking in broader, more inclusive categories than their counterparts.


Read More:

Music Changes the Way You Think | ScientificAmerican.com | 6.24.2014



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The One Family Routine to Keep Every Summer

On July 7, 2014, in Wellness, by Ellen Delap
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It’s summer time!  You may want to play it “fast and loose” as a parent, and keep the fun big and the routines minimal. However, there is one  family routine to keep every summer. Everyone needs a solid bedtime routine!


summertime sleep routine

Original Image Credit: Tamaki Sono (Flickr Creative Commons)


Research proves how vital sleep is. Everyone is more irritable, more emotional, and less able to handle daily stress. Sleep helps  us learn more easily, communicate with less frustration, and spend quality time together in a meaningful way.  According to the Mayo Clinic newsletter, most children and teens need approximately 10 hours of sleep daily, while adults tend to do best with about 8 hours of sleep (learn more).

So, how can you ensure that you and your family members get enough sleep during the fun months of summer?

  • Get on the same page. Start summer off with a family meeting to discuss what everyone’s daily and weekend bedtime will be. Set reasonable expectations and post a visible note so everyone remembers what was decided. With everyone having the same standards, you will be off to a good start.
  • Get to bed on time. Have everyone in  your family wind down early in order to be in bed on time. Start at least 30 minutes earlier than you think you need to. Power off all electronics at least one hour before bedtime. Then, encourage family reading time by sharing a book you can all read together or allow older children to read just before bed each evening.
  • Get better habits. As parents, you’ll want to model healthy sleep routines,too. After long days and extra activities, you’ll be  tired, so getting in bed at the same time nightly promotes good sleep. By developing sleep-friendly habits such as discontinuing caffeine early in the day, uncluttering your bedroom, turning off electronics an hour before bed, and winding down with a bath or music, you are demonstrating an important life skill with your kids.

Adhering to this one important routine this summer will likely make every day better — or at least more manageable. A good night’s sleep gives everybody time to rest and it’s also a way to prepare for the next day. Think of it as a mini-vacation each night!

What are your sleep routines? Share your own tips and tricks for getting more shut-eye in the comments below.

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“CDC data show that 28% of U.S. adults report sleeping six hours or less each night, and that’s just not enough for most people, experts say. It’s no wonder that the CDC calls insufficient sleep “a public health epidemic.

Sleep is so critical to good health that it should be thought of “as one of the components of a three-legged stool of wellness: nutrition, exercise and sleep … although people’s sleep needs vary, the sleep medicine group recommends that adults get about seven to nine hours a night for optimal health, productivity and daytime alertness.”


Read More:

If you don’t snooze, you lose, health experts say | USAToday.com | 6.22.2014



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Find Your Pain Point and Take Action

On June 26, 2014, in Motivation, by Deb Lee
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Pain Point

Original Image Credit: Steven Depolo (Flickr Creative Commons)

Do you like thinking about and remembering painful experiences you’ve had? This is probably not a topic that you give much thought to, but maybe you should. Let me explain …

The subject of pain came up in one of my classes in college (a long, long time ago). This question (or one very close to it) was posed:

If you could choose between experiencing extreme pain for a long time that you would not remember after it occurred …


… experiencing excruciating pain for a short amount of time that you would always remember, which one would you pick?

Interesting question, don’t you think?

No matter which one you’d choose, its seems (IMHO) that thinking about pain can be helpful. It can be a step in the right direction to focus a bit on painful, frustrating times — especially if you’re stuck in a rut and need to take a step forward toward completing a goal or task.

Oftentimes, it’s not until we feel a little bit (or a lot) of pain that we actually start making changes and start gaining a little momentum.

Here are some examples of some painful experiences that may sound familiar:

  • All-nighters: The pain of pulling an all-nighter (or two) to get your project completed.
  • Chaotic mornings: The pain of rushing around frantically each morning as you get ready for work.
  • Meeting blunders: The pain of feeling stressed because you didn’t prepare for an important meeting.
  • Late fees/service interruption: The pain of paying a late fee (and/or having a needed service disconnected) because you didn’t pay that bill on time.

So, how can thinking about painful times be a productive exercise? When you reflect back on excruciating, overwhelming, and embarrassing situations, you can come up with a plan to avoid them in the future.

Afterall, you can achieve a goal with or without pain, so why not choose the most pleasant path?

Here are some solutions you might come up with to avoid the painful experiences I mentioned earlier:

  • All-nighters: Add the deadline to your calendar and also include blocks of time that you’ll work on your projects. Get help and delegate when possible.
  • Chaotic mornings: Put out your clothes, gather all your important items, and make your lunch the night before to avoid the painful morning chaos.
  • Meeting blunders: Make a list of your responsibilities for the meeting and set aside time on your calendar to work on your designated tasks.
  • Late fees/service interruption: Add a reminder to your task manager to pay bills well in advance of the due date and/or schedule bill paying days.

So, what’s your pain point?  The moment when something becomes so urgent that you have to act?  How long does it take you to get there?  What does it feel like when you do get there? Think about the answers to those questions so that you can craft a plan to avoid those painful experiences in the future.

Do you have a solution to a painful moment that helped you get past the pain? Please share in the comments.




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“Researchers Jungsoo Kim and Richard de Dear at the University of Sydney discovered that noise privacy is the number one complaint among cubicle workers and open-plan employees, with 60% and 50% respectively describing it as a major issue.

Even worse? This reduction of sound privacy could be bringing down your entire team’s productivity. Think about it: How many times have you been trying to work on a project at your desk, only to be distracted by someone’s coughing fit or a conversation two co-workers next to you are having?

Read More:

The Surprising Thing That Could Be Killing Your Productivity | TheMuse.com | 6.3.2014



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Master ClosetWhether you have a small reach-in or a large walk-in for your master closet, and even if you have a just a small budget, you can make a big difference with how much space you have by maximizing your closet.

As a former custom closet organizer, I’ve shared some tips in today’s post that will help you figure out how to utilize every inch!

How to Maximize Your Master Closet on a Small Budget


Step 1 – Move It Out

If you haven’t done a healthy purge of your clothes, shoes, and accessories lately, then this is a great time to set pieces aside for donation or for the trash. Use a large surface for the sorting process, like your bed. Remember, that as with many organizing projects, you will probably make a mess before making it organized — so be patient with yourself!

Step 2 – Put It Back

This time, fold the items that you would like to keep folded and hang the items that you would like to be hung. Think about whether you’d prefer to hang your pants from their ends or have them folded over a hanger. Then put everything away in groupings of like items (i.e. skirts, shirts, pants).

Step 3 – Measure It

Now that you have your items in groups, grab a measuring tape, and get ready to do some math! You’ll want to take specific measurements of the height and the width of each group, in inches. For example, take note of the longest dress that you have so that you will make sure everything else in that grouping will be sure to fit.

Note on paper how many inches in length you will want to devote to short hanging items (tops and short skirts) and to long hanging items (pants, long skirts, dresses and suits). Do the same for shoes and folded clothing (sweaters and t-shirts).

Finally, take measurements of the width, depth and height of your closet.

Step 4 – Design It

With all of your measurements written down, you can now start your design plan. You’ll want just a few sheets of computer paper to draw out your plan, one for each wall. No worries … you don’t need to be an artist, just rough sketches will do!

Draw out a plan of each wall in a front elevation, as if you are looking at right in front of you. Now you can plan for your system to have enough rod space and shelving to accommodate your items.

Step 5 – Build It

If you have a small budget, you can work with what you have. For example, if you have a lot of rod space, use a hanging bag with shelves that provide spaces for foldable items.

You can also fill in dead space by adding stackable shelves at the bottom of the closet underneath your hanging clothing (you can use them for shoes) and bins at the top of the closet (you can use the bins for seasonal clothing).

Ideally, you’ll want to end up with a filled in space, but not so filled that you everything is squished together tightly.

If you are working with a smaller budget, check big box stores for closet systems that you can put together on your own (like this one from Rubbermaid). If you have a bit more flexibility with price, have a look at a system like elfa from The Container Store, or a custom closet company like Closets By Design or Closet Factory, where they can do the designing for you!

However you get there, following steps like these will encourage you to get rid of what you don’t love and keep what you do, and keep on an organized path. You can do it!

… and when you do re-design your closet, please come back here to share your before and after photos. =)


Note from Deb: Several links in this post are affiliate links. Organize to Revitalize! will receive a small commission if you make a purchase using those links. The items can still be helpful to you whether or not you use the links in the post, and you can purchase them by directly visiting those websites (but if you use the OTR links, I’d be very grateful!).

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