Photo slideshows are a great way to grab someone’s attention and demonstrate personal and/or professional successes.
They are fantastic for…
- Sharing personal updates with family and friends (e.g., what the kids have been up to)
- Showing potential clients your work portfolio (e.g., before and after photos of a home renovation)
- Exhibiting a line of products (e.g., how your products are used)
- Displaying arts and crafts projects (e.g., creations of your own or masterpieces from your kids)
- Celebrating the progression of something (e.g., losing weight)
I recently updated my website’s home page to freshen it a bit and add a little pizzazz. One of the things I did was add a photo slideshow that showcases some of my work and give readers some visual inspiration without having to click on anything or leave the page.
You can see it here: http://www.the-organizing-boutique.com.
In order to put together this totally tubular slideshow on my home page, I used a free service called PhotoSnack. I found it to be simple and quick to use, and I would recommend you check it out if you’re in the market for slideshow software.
The many amazing features of the PhotoSnack app:
- Easy to use
- Upload photos from various sources like Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, and more!
- Use stylish templates
- Add music to your slideshow
- Create links within the slideshow
- Select transitions between slides
- Simple to share on social media, send in emails and embed in websites or blogs
- Edit existing slideshows
- Create as many photo albums as you want
- Compatible with mobile devices
- View stats when logged in (i.e. how many views)
If you’ve used Photosnack or any other slideshow software, please let me know your thoughts about it in the comments section below. I’d love to hear about your experience.
Thanks and happy photo sharing!
The first thing we think about at the holidays is spending time with our family. The holidays are an important time to gather together, but this can be more than a little complicated with a blended family.
Keeping your holiday plans simple and practical can help create blended family fun. Being organized can keep the stress down, helps keep the lines of communication open, and smooths out the rough patches of the holidays.
Here are four holiday organizing tips for your blended family that can help you enjoy the season to the fullest.
Whether your kids are 5, 15 or 25, they come first at the holidays. Start by asking them what is most important to each of them. Their ideas will help you prioritize your holiday plans and gifts. Using their priorities as your guide for activities, you can then keep a calendar of your holiday commitments.
Be sure to add in school and church related activities, like a holiday play or winter party. Your kids will appreciate your support and you will enjoy being a part of their every day activities. Sit down with your partner and share the responsibilities making these plans happen.
Plan ahead, way ahead
Block out time ahead for your family celebration in advance. If your kids are not visiting during the actual dates of the holiday, you can choose a date to celebrate on a weekend.
Coordinate and communicate dates ahead of time. When you communicate clearly the dates and times your celebration, this will help ensure that everyone, including grandparents, extended family and friends, will be included. Visitation dates and time can vary, but work toward consistency so your kids know what they can count on.
New traditions, new fun
Blending your family can be a great time to create new traditions. The new holiday routines can be as simple as when you decorate your tree, dinner with new recipes or at a special restaurant, or sharing traditions like celebrating both Chanukah and Christmas in your home.
Sometimes wacky fun can be the most interesting and enjoyable, like watching the same silly Christmas movie each year or crazy Christmas sweater competitions. Or. you might simply change things up each year for the holidays. Find fun in small, simple ways that include a little (clear) communication.
Be prepared with snacks and beverages, whatever the plan, since food usually brings everyone together.
Remember the joy of the season
A holiday filled with love and laughter is likely your goal. Don’t let the small overrule the big. Keep perfectionism in tow and your expectations reasonable. Be realistically optimistic in creating a fun time together.
“A 2013 survey conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) found that 44 percent of U.S. adults feel a high level of financial stress. As seasonal expenses loom, these worries intensify.
‘People are very afraid right now,’ says stress management psychotherapist Steve Rosenberg of Elkins Park, Pa. After being in practice for 33 years, he recognizes the signs of pre-holiday worries. ‘Halloween, Thanksgiving and beyond, everyone is looking at the price.’”
3 Ways to Curb Pre-Holiday Money Stress| FoxBusiness.com |10.29.13
*Product or book links are affiliate links.
It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the United States which means that many of us are not working … well, many people are probably working on lots of eating. ;)
Whether you’re celebrating, at the office (sorry if you don’t have the day off!), or intend to do absolutely nothing, the OTR authors hope you’ll have an enjoyable day.
Planning to catch up on some reading? Here are some OTR posts you can check out:
- 3 iOS7 Tips You Can’t Live Without
- Tech Wars: My Love-Hate Relationship With Technology
- Bluetooth Makes Life Easier and Gets Rid of Cable Clutter
Productivity & Time Management
- Fact Friday: Listen to Unfamiliar Music to Increase Productivity
- Simple Time Management: Figure Out Your Time Wasters
- Stop Procrastinating: 5 Strategies to Get You Started
- Professional Organizers are Like Vampires
- 3 Steps to an Organized Laundry Room
Last month, I mentioned five things you can start letting go of. A change in seasons is a great time to take action and get more organized. When it’s time to begin the process of parting with things that you no longer use or need, you might not know how to begin. Though it can seem daunting, you can use three simple steps to help you get started.
Follow this three-step action plan:
Action Step #1
Take an inventory of everything (e.g., all boots, all sweaters, all knick knacks, etc.). Doing this is the first step to to figuring out how much stuff you have. After writing down all the things you have, you can then move on to …
Action Step #2
You will need to figure out how much of your stuff you actually use. Guessing how much you use doesn’t give you the real picture, but when you have cold, hard numbers, you really see more clearly the number of things you are storing but not using.
So, separate the things you use often from the things you tend not to reach for. Then, write down the total number of each. As shoes and boots tend to be the Achilles heel for many people (see what I did there?), they’re the stars of my examples, but you can apply these actions steps to just about any item.
- Volume: 20 pairs of boots
- Actively using: 3 pairs
- Not using: 17 pairs
Action Step 3
As you look at volume of things you have verses how often you use them, think about how much space you have to store the items you will keep. If you let go of the things you no longer need, could the remaining items all fit in their designated storage area? Or, will you have to carve out space in other areas of your home? Do you have realistic option that you can maintain with relative ease?
Using the same example above, I’ve added expanded upon it a bit and added another that differs drastically. Both should prompt some questions you can ask yourself as you decide what to let go of.
- Original volume: 20 pairs of boots
- Actively using: 3 pairs
- Keeping: 6 pairs
- Can be donated: 14 pairs
- Original volume: 20 pairs of boots
- Actively using: 3 pairs
- Keeping: 18 pairs
- Can be donated: 2 pairs
Questions to ask yourself:
- Can they all fit in one closet (with my other shoes)?
- Will I really wear the _______ pairs of boots that I haven’t reached for but am keeping anyway?
- Why am I holding on to shoes that I haven’t worn (and most likely will never wear again)?
- Am I keeping items that are in disrepair or outdated or unflattering?
- How will I feel if I give them away to someone who needs them more than I do?
- How will I feel when have enough space to store the things I do use?
Of course, there are probably several more questions that you can ask yourself. But, if you are committed to letting go of excess stuff that’s no longer useful to you, you’ll take specific steps to ensure that you live with less clutter. So, take action and …
Commit to letting go:
- If I don’t wear them by ______ (insert date), I will donate them to __________ (specific person or charity).
- I will drop them off or have them picked up by _____________(insert date).
- I will repeat this process every ___________ (days/weeks/months).
Organizing is one thing, but cleaning is an entirely another thing.
I love organizing stuff, but I hate cleaning with all the dusting, mopping, and other “fun” stuff.
My sister, my brother-in-law, my niece, and nephew are coming for Thanksgiving weekend, so I’ve been cleaning up around the house to prepare for their visit.
I’m reminded of a joke I heard a long, long time ago. A woman is visiting her sister, and she finds her sibling furiously cleaning the house the next morning. She asks her sister why she was cleaning since the house was already clean. The sister replied, “The house is sister clean, but since Mom is coming, I need to get it Mother clean.”
Oh, yes. That rings true. Prepping for a visit to your home is like a real-life “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” moment, and your prep time is dependent on who your guest is and what kind of impression you want to make.
Here are my levels of cleaning:
Best Friend Cleaning
For my besties, well, they’re lucky I don’t answer the door in my jammies and bedhead hair, but they wouldn’t mind if I did. For the besties, I make sure I have clean glasses or coffee mugs and toilet paper in the bathroom. That’s all I can guarantee.
Good Friend/Acquaintance Cleaning
When people outside the besties come over, I have to step up my cleaning game a few steps.
This is my basic cleaning regime:
- Clean the bathrooms, including mopping the floors and putting out fresh guest towels.
- Clean the kitchen, including wiping down the countertops, cleaning the sink, and running the sink disposal with a little ice and lemon-scented cleaner.
- Load and run the dishwasher.
- Make sure everything is in its place.
- Make all the beds.
- Vacuum the rugs.
- Empty the trash cans.
- Fluff and arrange the pillows on the couch.
- Close any doors to rooms you don’t want people to see.
- Light nice smelling candles so it smells clean.
Now we’re getting serious. This is more in-depth cleaning that I do for when my sister or friends are coming for weekend stays.
So in addition to the basic cleaning, I add these steps in:
- Sheets are changed in the guest rooms. I also run the comforters through the dryer to freshen them up.
- Dust and vacuum the guest room, including the window sill.
- Make sure there is space in the closet for any hanging clothes.
- Wipe down the refrigerator and toss anything that looks like a science experiment.
- Fill the filtered water pitcher so SOMEONE doesn’t insist on buying bottled water.
- Buy some food so people can eat so I don’t get the disapproving head tilt from my sister. My sister has already called me this weekend to see if I had salt, a glass pie dish, and a whisk she could use during Thanksgiving.
This is the ultimate level of cleanliness. Everything is scrubbed, even the freaking windows. During her visits to my past abodes, my Mom went through my cabinets and closets to “see how I arranged things.” If there’s something I don’t want her to see, I have to hide it in a box labeled “religious reading material” in the back of the closet. (Get your mind out of the gutter, people.)
If there’s something she needs to see, I display it. If it’s close to Easter, I make sure the ceramic bunny figurine wearing a hat and a yellow dress is out with the other Easter decorations.
Since this is the Olympic Games of cleaning, we have to get to the Gold Medal level because there will be an inspection and a possibly a quiz. No need to repaint or anything like that, but hey, I leave those decisions up to you.
- All of the windowsills. Yes, every windowsill in the house.
- All surfaces are cleaned. Maybe twice.
- All corners and baseboards are inspected for cobwebs.
- Wash the curtains. If you can’t wash them, run them through the dryer with dryer sheets to freshen them up. While you’re there, wipe down the curtain rods.
- Dust lamps and light fixtures.
- Pull off the couch cushions and vacuum up the couch gunk.
- If you have a landline, delete any incriminating voice messages.
- If your parents are religious and expect to go to church services, know where those churches are located and what time the services are scheduled.
Have a great holiday season!
“…researchers found that after being deprived of sleep, participants displayed greater craving for high-calorie junk food. The more sleep-deprived they were, the greater the cravings. By contrast, when they were well rested, the same people were better able to resist temptation.”
Why the Sleep-Deprived Crave Junk Food and Buy Higher Calorie Foods| Spring.org.uk | 11.14.13
*Product or book links are affiliate links.
As an interior designer turned professional organizer and bargain shopper, I know how color and design can make a big impact on spaces. However, function and budget are of equal importance! It is my mission in this post, and ones to come, to share with you simple, inexpensive, and effective ways to stay organized (…or get there!) while maintaining a beautiful aesthetic that you will love coming home to.
Since the holidays are fast approaching, and friends and family may be descending into your home to eat and celebrate, let’s talk about your dining area and put plans in place so that your guests go buzzing to their friends about what a fabulous night they had!
Your table will likely be the centerpiece of the evening, which in design is known as the focal point of the room, even if it is just a simple folding table.
Here are three ways to dress up your dining table:
1. Create a Color Scheme. We all know that the typical Thanksgiving colors are oranges, browns, and reds, but that doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit!
Choose colors that will compliment your home, and décor, and those items will probably work for any future dinner parties that you have as well. If you don’t already own any, purchase a tablecloth and napkins that can be laundered and you won’t feel the guilt of throwing away so much at the end of the night.
2. Go Vertical. Vertical space can be overlooked when it comes to organizing and design. Use cake plates stacked upon each other for small hors d’ oeuvres and bigger books from around the house, draped with extra napkins, to raise up the platters.
By following these examples, your guests should each gain a bit of surface space, and find where the can-shaped cranberry sauce is immediately!
3. Create a Take Away Present. Designate where everyone will sit, but don’t bother with place cards. Instead personalize something that will also be a present for them to bring home. Wrap up a plastic storage container like a present with the tag showing each person’s name.
Keep their minds guessing all night as to what is inside and have them open them up all at once at the end of the night. They’ll get a good laugh, but realize that they now have something that they can take home some delicious leftovers in, and still be able to use again.
However you decide to decorate or celebrate, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Oh…and if you spot the can-shaped cranberry sauce, I hope you’ll think of me and have a good laugh!
The 5-Minute Organizing Challenge used to be a regular feature on Organize to Revitalize and then it went away for a little while. But, now it has been revived! Dan Loya, the newest OTR author, will share quick organizing challenges with you every month. ~Deb
It’s time for the 5 Minute Organizing Challenge! What can you do in 5 minutes to gain a little order in your life? Here’s a new set of five things that can each take as little as 5 minutes to complete. This month’s theme is preparing for the coming fall and winter holidays.
If your goal is to reduce your stress preparing for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and/or Christmas, then today is your lucky day! Here are five small challenges that will help you prepare, and therefore minimize your stress during the holidays.
1. Set up a Holiday Activity Center. Start by finding a comfortable space with good lighting and gather: holiday cards, colorful pens, your address book, stamps, mailing labels, and Post-Its Notes (affiliate link), etc. Place the items in a fun container and then any time you have 5 minutes of down-time, sit down and work on writing up your cards and addressing the envelopes.
2. Add Wrapping Supplies to Your Activity Center. Gather your gift wrap and place it in one large container or box. Lug it over to your Holiday Activity Center. Then, place scissors, tape, gift tags, tissue paper, and anything else that is needed for wrapping gifts in a smaller container. In just a few minutes, you will have added this station to your center! Easy.
3. Create an Events List. Start a list of food, condiments, and meal supplies that are needed for events you are hosting. Write as much as you can on your lists for 5 minutes, and then place them in the Activity Center. Keep adding to these lists as you think of additional items.
4. Create a Gift List. Find a notebook and start writing the names of people you are buying gifts for. Next to the names, you can add other columns such as: gift ideas, budget for gift(s), stores to shop at for items, etc. Now that you started your gift list, you can spend a few minutes a day expanding on it.
5. Schedule Time to Decorate. Grab a calendar and schedule several times each week (up to early December) to decorate your home. 20-30 minute sessions are recommended. This activity itself should take about 5 minutes.
I had recently received a call from a client who I previously worked with as she was now in need of additional assistance because she had changed jobs. Four years ago, we worked together with the goal of creating a more organized home office. After speaking with her, I was very happy to learn that many of the systems that we had put into place to organize her papers, emails, and to do list were still working well for her.
The process that we had followed and the progress that we made in rather short order is noteworthy. My client, who is an attorney, split her time between her home office and city office, and faced the additional challenge of needing access to specific information regardless of her work location.
Here’s a snapshot of the situation before we implemented my paper filing tips and office organization systems:
- Papers covered the entire desk
- Desk trays piled high with documents
- No specific action assigned to any of the desk trays
- Ineffective system for managing priorities and daily tasks
- Inbox contained over 10,000 emails
- Digital filing system needed to be overhauled
Once we applied my approved office organization tips and ideas, my client had a much more productive work space and could efficiently (and with less stress) manage her daily workload.
If you were to see the after picture for this project, you would note the following:
- A completely cleared desktop
- A system for the organizing the papers which incorporated assigning a specific time for addressing tasks
- Specific actions assigned to each of the desk trays
- An empty email inbox
- Re-organized digital filing system so that it more closely mirrored her paper files
In order for a home office organization project to be successful, especially when the space is used predominantly to run a business, a straightforward strategy needs to be followed.
Here are the five steps that we followed for this home office organizing project:
- Plan. Many professional organizers will likely tell you to always start with a plan! Identify your ultimate objective and then divide the desk into specific areas (file drawer, left side, right side, etc.). Focus on only one area at a time.
- Prepare. Gather supplies specific to the tasks that will be done. You may need large trash bags, a shredder or place to collect papers to shred, file folders, and two of my favorite tools: a Sharpie and Post-it note pad (affiliate links).
- Schedule. Set aside specific chunks of time to devote to your home office organization project and schedule the time in your calendar. Think in terms of a 5K race instead of a marathon when blocking out the time to organize your home office.
- Clarify. Be sure to clearly define how the various areas of the desk will be used so that you can ensure that materials relevant to performing those tasks are also kept at hand.
- Define. Identify the tasks that will need to be addressed in each area and prioritize them so that you can tackle them in a logical sequence. This way you will be most productive.
As I mentioned, my client needed some additional office organizing assistance. Check back next month and I will share information concerning this latest NYC office organization project.