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HalloweenAre you ready for this month’s 5-Minute Organizing Challenge? I hope you are because Halloween is only weeks away, and this time we’ll focus on getting prepared for the spooky holiday. These mini-challenges will help you get organized for Halloween, and they only take about five minutes each.

  1. Create a list. Write a checklist of all the items (off the top of your head) that you need for Halloween. Each day, spend a few minutes adding new items you think of and begin planning  when to purchase things you need. Your list can include:
    • Decorations
    • Components for costumes
    • Pumpkins & a carving kit
    • Halloween themed books & DVDs
    • Holloween-themed foods (and more!)
  1. Work on your costume. If your costume (or your child’s costume) requires work to put it together, spend a few minutes at a time working on small parts of it. This might be planning, sewing, gluing, or some other creative tasks. By doing a little bit at a time, the costume will be completed before you know it!
  1. Add seasonal decorations. Start out by taking a quick inventory of decorations you have. Select one area of your home a day, and spend five minutes or so decorating that nook. It will come together over time just like your costume. If your Halloween stuff isn’t all stored in one area of your home, be sure to pack it away together so you’re organized for next year.
  1. Make treat bags. One way to get ready for Halloween is to prepare the treats before the holiday. Pack a variety of treats in individual baggies whenever you have a few spare minutes. This will save you time on the big day and it’ll also ensure trick-or-treaters will get equal portions.
  1. Enjoy the Halloween spirit. Some days, take a short walk in your neighborhood and enjoy the Halloween (and Fall) decorations in your area. Other days, spend a few minutes planning which TV or cable programs you will watch to celebrate the holiday, and set recordings. This will allow you to relax and enjoy this fun time of year.

What other challenges can you complete in five minutes or less to get organized for Halloween?

 

6 Reasons to Hire a Maid Service

On October 16, 2014, in Cleaning, by Deb Lee
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maid serviceToday’s post by Lizzie Weakly explains the many benefits of using a maid service.

If you’re a homeowner who spends any amount of time cleaning your home, you may have considered contracting a maid service. For those who are still on the fence, the following six points will help to convince you that using a service is a wonderful idea.

6 Reasons to Get Maid Service

 

1. More Time to Focus on Family

Hiring a professional maid service is the perfect way to shift the focus from routine cleaning to valuable family time. Hours spent maintaining a clean home will easily eat away at weekend trips, leisurely dinners, and children’s afterschool activities. This is precious time that most families will never get back.

2. Helps to Reduce Stress

As if life wasn’t stressful enough, the burden of house cleaning only serves to make matters worse. Hiring a maid service gives homeowners peace of mind knowing that after a long day at work, they’ll be returning to a clean home. Maid service eliminates the feeling that you’re leaving work only to return home to complete a second job.

3. Get Help When Schedules Are Busy

Let’s face it. The majority of busy homeowners simply don’t have enough time in the day. When faced with cleaning, the job is either done quickly or other commitments have to take a back seat. A professional maid service makes a busy schedule much more manageable.

4. Get Professional Results

Homeowners who decide to use a professional maid service are always amazed at the results. Not only do the cleaning service staff offer their experience and training, they’re provided with tools and equipment that most homeowners don’t have access to. A reputable maid service will do a thorough, professional job each and every time they clean a customer’s home.

5. Get Innovative Cleaning Products

If you are concerned with the environment or have specific health concerns, a maid service will tailor their cleaning methods to accommodate your individual needs. This means access to green cleaning products and equipment that will make the process healthier for your entire family.

maid service6. Maid Service is Cost Effective

Many homeowners will make the argument that hiring a maid service costs too much money. On the contrary, a maid service can be very affordable and tailored to fit each client’s individual budget.

When considering cost, homeowners need to place a value on their own time. How much time and money is it costing to clean your own home?

If you’re still not sure if you will hire a maid service, consider the above points carefully. Once you make the choice to have your home professionally cleaned, you’ll wonder why you ever waited so long.

 

About The Author

Lizzie WeakleyLizzie Weakley and is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. Lizzie enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.

Connect With Lizzie: Twitter | Facebook

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Use Fiverr To Get Stuff Done Quickly and Inexpensively

On October 13, 2014, in Business, Technology, by Nealey Stapleton
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Get stuff done with FiverrFiverr. Fiverr. Fiverr. I like saying Fiverr; it has a nice ring to it and it just sounds cool. Have you heard of it? If you haven’t and you’re looking for an inexpensive way to hire someone to get something done, then have I got just the thing for you. Yep, Fiverr!

Cool Fiverr Features

 
1. Everything starts at $5. Of course, there are add-ons to get extra products or services with your order, but you can get a whole lot for five bucks. It’s pretty irresistible and signing up for an account is free.

2. Access your account anywhere. Like almost everything else these days, Fiverr has an app so you can access your account from anywhere. This is convenient for getting stuff done on the go and getting notifications when you are away from your computer.

3. The options are endless. You can have someone design an infographic or an ebook cover. You can also find someone to do a voice over or to get traffic to your website or even proofread something you wrote. The sky is the limit!

4. Make some extra money. What’s your special talent or skill? Whatever it is, sell it! Signing up to be a seller on Fiverr is easy and fast. Once that’s done, start promoting your Fiverr profile to get customers and make some extra moola.

 

Fiverr Business Services

User Fiverr to get stuff done

 

Want some ideas for what talent to sell? Check out my Fiverr gig and poke around the site.

Fiverr-My-Gig

Create gigs on Fiverr to sell your own services

 

Benefits of Using Fiverr

 
So, how does this benefit you? Great question! I’ll tell you.

  • Save time. Save serious time. By delegating mundane tasks that you need done for your business, you can focus on the part you’re passionate about. Stop trying to figure out how to create an infographic and pay $5 for one.
  • Save money. I’m pretty sure you can’t hire anyone for less than $5, so this awesomeness that is Fiverr.com will definitely save you some loot.
  • Get ideas. Fiverr is a great website full of things that can spark some good brainstorming. It’s a database of ideas – ideas for making more money, ideas for making your services better — lots and lots of ideas.

I highly recommend checking out Fiverr. At the very least, bookmark it and take a peek at it later.

What do you think? Have you heard of it? Used it? Share your experiences in the comments.

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Fact Friday: Multitasking Lowers Your IQ

On October 10, 2014, in Fact Friday, by Deb Lee
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“Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, multitasking lowers your IQ. A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child.

 

Read More:

Multitasking Damages Your Brain And Career, New Studies Suggest | Forbes.com | 10.8.2014

 

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*All book links are affiliate links.

 

 

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Wage War on Your Cluttered Office (Part 2)

On October 8, 2014, in Office Organizing, by Stephanie Shalofsky
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Original Image Credit: Houzz.com

Original Image Credit: Houzz.com

If you’re still waging war on your cluttered office, don’t stop! I’m picking up where I left off from my previous post — Wage War on Your Cluttered Office (Part 1) — to share more things you can do.

Today’s post shares some additional steps that you can take to get your office organized and functioning well. If you have already started to do what I outlined in Part 1, you’re half way there and you can surely see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Most important is to remember that staying clutter-free is an ongoing endeavor. If you fall back into old habits (e.g., piles of folders accumulating on the floor, papers on every surface and not in their rightful folders, things hanging from the backs of chairs, etc.), the clutter will start to build up and once again take over your space.

Avoid having a cluttered office by taking the six additional action steps listed below.

6 More Steps to Organize Your Office

 
1. Arrange your desk. Be sure that the things that you use frequently (i.e. pen, pad, stapler, cell phone holder, etc.) are easy to access. And remember to keep your desk as clutter-free as possible. The items that you don’t use frequently should be put away in a drawer or in a supply closet.

2. Clear your floor. Remember, your floor is meant to be walked on and not intended to store books, papers, files, and whatever else you don’t have room for on your desk (or other furniture). If the floor is cluttered, this can present tripping hazards, too.

3. Organize your files. Keep your files in order and be scrupulous about maintaining them.

  • Don’t put paperwork back on your desk when you have finished organizing it. Instead, put the papers into their “assigned folder” and then put away the folder in its proper place.
  • Take up to 15 minutes each day to re-file, reorganize, and get rid of anything that you no longer need. This will ensure that the paper clutter never has an opportunity to get out of hand.

4. Clean up regularly. Like Mom always said, cleanliness counts. You can use a cleaning service or you can do-it-yourself. Take a moment or two at the end of each day to wipe down the surfaces in your office so that you don’t come in each morning to dust bunnies (or spills from yesterday’s lunch).

5. Take care of keepsakes. If you absolutely cannot bear to get rid of some of your memorabilia, buy a container or an attractive box, place these items in it, and then store it on a shelf or in your closet. Label it Cherished Mementos. Periodically rotate one or two pictures or souvenirs from this collection that you keep on display. Each time you start a new rotation, see if there are any items that you can let go off.

6. Find a place for your accessories. Resist the temptation to hang your coat, scarves, or umbrella on the doorknobs or off of the backs of chairs. This contributes to a general impression of disarray and clutter. Mount hooks in a designated place (on walls, behind doors) for things you use often.

Just Remember …

 
As with many projects, it’s best to set a deadline lest the actual work of clearing the clutter stretch on indefinitely. But, don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself enough of a window to get your office organizing project accomplished without too much stress — but make sure that you adhere to your schedule.

Once everything has been sorted, stored, and organized, you will feel a wonderful sense of peace, calm, and accomplishment.

Finally, the battle of the cluttered office will be over!

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Home renovation is sweeping the nation. According to a recent survey,  more than half of us will be renovating in the next two years. With home prices rising, it’s a great way to invest in your home.

It’s also a great way to make the most of your existing space. Home owners make a choice to be DIYers or employ a professional to do the work. It’s a big investment and you want to do it right. Most especially, in either case, you want renovation organization throughout the project.

renovation organization

Original Image Credit: Houzz.com

How to Prepare for Your Home Renovation

 
1. Prepare: Before Renovations Start

Getting ready to renovate requires lots of different tasks, and there are several things you should do to prepare.

  • Consolidate all information. Getting a clear idea of what you want to do is an important step. You can clip ideas from magazines and websites (like Houzz.com), keeping them together with these tools or pinning them in Pinterest. Gather all this information in a paper notebook or Evernote.Keep organized by creating categories such as ideas, budget and receipts, and contractors.
  • Prioritize tasks. Make a list of your renovation priorities in order to keep within your budget. You will want to get three contractor or interior design bids. Remember to ask for references, thoroughly review the plans, and discuss your budget. Spend time on this design phase and you will be happier with your outcome. Gather additional help such as movers for help throughout the project.
  • Unclutter. At the same time, start preparing your home for the renovation by decluttering. Take an hour in each space and eliminate as much as you can to have less to move around during the renovation. Move valuables to a safe place, and, most importantly, keep a list of next actions for each of these steps.

 

2. Plan: After Renovations Begin

During renovation, organization is especially important. With your home topsy-turvy, you may feel like you are in survival mode. As work begins, you will have to shift items from space to space. To keep some sense of control and order, put a plan in place and stick to it.

  • Communicate. Be available each day to discuss progress and review your contractor’s work. Communication is critical to the success of your project.
  • Stick With Daily Habits. Keep up with every day routines as best as possible, such as bill paying, laundry, and regular meal times. Set up extra reminders for the most important tasks, such as an alarm on your smart phone or put up extra sticky notes around your home.
  • Expect the Unexpected. Be prepared for a longer timeline than originally communicated. It’s not unusual for things to not go as planned. Start your project during particular months that can more easily that allows for changes. Also, keep on top of your budget as purchases and changes can occur. Be sure to record and update your budget weekly and talk through this with your partner.
  • Get Extra Help. You may need to take laundry to the laundromat or dry cleaners, eat on paper plates or eat out more, or hire outside help to move large pieces of furniture. Extra hands will save you time and money, as well as sanity.

 

3. Enjoy: Home Sweet Renovated Home

It’s time to enjoy your home once the renovations have been completed. Setting aside ample time is the key to getting back up to speed quickly so you can begin enjoying your “new” home.

  • Put Things Back. Order will return to your home as you replace furniture, appliances, clothes, and other needed items. Set aside a weekend to get items back to where they belong.
  • Let Go of Unwanted Items. It will be especially helpful to eliminate and donate extra decor, framed pictures, lamps, and pillows. Working appliances that were removed or replace can be donated to Habitat ReStore.
  • Clean Up. Find a cleaning service that can help you dust, mop, and deep clean your home. This extra expense will make you feel nurtured in your newly renovated space.  You can work alongside the crew with extra tasks you want to accomplish.
  • Keep Track. Add your new paint color numbers, grout colors, appliance model numbers, and other information to a file or an Evernote notebook. Write the room name (e.g., “Master Bedroom) on paint cans you’ll use for touch ups later. Use labels, like the ones from WhatsThatPaint.com, to help you record all the information you need (see the video below for more details). Knowing which paint color goes on particular walls can be useful in later years and a real time saver.

  • Make a Punch List. Tally your receipts from the project and make your final payment once work is entirely complete. Get your final punch list to your contractor to finish up even the smallest bit of work.

The final thing you have to do is to enjoy your new home! You have worked hard, stayed organized, and made big improvements! If you’ve remodeled your home, please share your own tips in the comments.

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Original Image Source: Wikipedia

Original Image Source: Wikipedia

The message was simple, powerful, and absolutely beautiful.

I stumbled across the meme on social media, and I audibly gasped. The background was a picture of cotton candy, and the words across the photo were “Not my circus. Not my monkey.”

When our beleaguered associate director walked into my office, I waved the print out around, declaring that he needed to read it right now! I’m certain at some point he said he couldn’t read it if I was waving it around. Once he had a look at it, he had the same reaction as I did.

Why, you may ask, were we so excited to discover this piece of sage advice?

Nothing drains your productivity more than getting sucked into other people’s stuff, especially in the work environment. It happens quite easily, and you can find yourself up to your armpits in someone else’s circus and monkeys, wondering how it all happened.

When you get distracted inside someone else’s circus, you may end up neglecting your own priorities. In an office setting, doing this can be deadly for your productivity and make your boss unhappy.

So, do the following four things instead. With these suggestions, you can leave other people’s circus tents and their drama behind you.

  1. Use the Mantra. If you spend all your time worrying about other people you don’t have control over, you can make yourself crazy. When other people try to lure you into their circus, repeat, “Not my circus, not my monkey.” Keep repeating it until the other people run away in terror, confusion, or both.
  2. Focus. Look at your own goals, priorities, and to do list. What projects do you need to focus on? What actions do you need to take to get started or finish your projects? Whenever possible, spend 30-60 minutes — before you open your email in the morning — to work on your important projects.
  3. Stretch Yourself. Sometimes we can get easily distracted if we’re bored with our work or if it’s become a mundane chore. Find yourself a new goal or project that will stretch you and help you grow. If it scares you a little, then you know it’s a good choice. Need a bit of motivation? These quotes will fire you up and get you moving forward.
  4. Find a Tigger. Ditch negative, toxic people whenever possible, and surround yourself with positive people who encourage and support you. Life’s too short to always hang out with Eyeore. That dude is depressing. Find some Tiggers and add some joy to your life.

Do you have a favorite mantra or quote that motivates or keeps your productivity high? Please share in the comments.

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“While you might think that people are more productive in good weather, just the opposite is true, according to research from Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. On warm, sunny days worker productivity actually decreases because people are distracted by thoughts about what they could be doing …

 

Read More:

No Time to Think |Simplicity.Laserfiche.com | 9.11.2014

 

 

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‘Tis the Season to Get More Organized!

On September 18, 2014, in Home Organizing, Uncategorized, by Naomi Cook
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get more organizedNope, it’s not Christmas … it’s not even Halloween (although you would think that it was next week, with the mass amounts of candy in the stores!). It’s just plain ol’ September! But, what a month for great deals on products to organize your home.

Keep in mind that you might already have some of these items at home. After sorting and purging, you might be able to free up a few containers and organizers you can use.

So, after doing a bit of uncluttering first, think about restructuring the areas below so that you can get more organized. And, if you find that you need to buy some storage organizers and containers, you’re likely to get better deal now.

1. Patio Furniture. If you have some space for it, consider using deck boxes. Aside from providing some extra seating, you can stash your chair cushions during the winter months inside them, and use a more convenient space for BBQ tools, your gardening tools, and outdoor toys during the summer months.

2. Small Indoor Furniture/Accessories. Think about using ottomans with storage inside, over the door organizers, and fabric and plastic bins to store out of season clothes. College students have probably cleared the stores of similar items for their dorms, but there are likely to be some things in stock that a few stores want to clear out. And, you can, like those students, you can put them to good use in your small spaces.

3. Kitchen Accessories. Drawer and cabinet organizers can help you to separate items that are stored together in the same place. Also, think about using small bins inside your fridge and pantry. You can keep your pantry organized by using bins to store similar items together (like snacks for your children). This will likely make packing lunch for you and your family a breeze!

4. Office Supplies and Accessories. Brighten up your office or workspace with color and show off your style, no matter what size! Think about using drawer organizers, desktop file organizers, and one of my all time favorite products, poly zip envelopes (affiliate link).

Here are a couple of examples of how you can use those envelopes:

  • I use one for store coupons, one for restaurant coupons, and one for grocery coupons.
  • I recently did a show and tell of my favorite things at a networking event and asked the group what they might use the envelopes for. One person suggested receipts, and another person said they’d put their their cell phone in it. That’s one way to keep your mobile phone safe if it drops!

5. Bedding and Towels. Bedding is another example of what’s ins stores for college students, although linens on sale tend to be for twin beds. But, you may want to pick up some new blankets and throws to keep you warm this upcoming winter along with a few new towels. Don’t forget to donate older blankets and threadbare towels to needy animals at your local shelter.

Enjoy the rest of your month and go find those bargains. You never know — you just might find them in your own home!

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Self ImprovementSeptember is Self Improvement Month, so the 5-Minute Organizing Challenge is focused on brief activities that will help you develop yourself. The mini-challenges will help you get organized and they will each take just five minutes to complete.

  1. Organize a “junk drawer.” Usually transforming any “junky” area of your home will make you feel better, and it can build your confidence to tackle larger areas. Try starting with the most cluttered drawers in your home. Put like things together and find a way to separate items into categories. If you have drawer dividers or expandable sliders, use them to help you separate your categories.
  1. Make your bed & put your clothes away. If your room is more a sanctuary than a war zone, you will feel calmer and more relaxed overall. Take time to make sure the room you wake up and go to sleep in is well kept. You can start by getting stray clothes off the floor and putting them away.
  1. Identify places and/or individuals to receive things you give away. Spend five minutes creating a list of intended beneficiaries. It’s often easier to get rid of excess things if you can visualize other people getting good use from them. There is often no shortage of people in need and non-profit charity organizations can be worthy causes you can donate to.
  1. Start removing things you don’t use. Be cautious about letting yourself accumulate too many things because you’ll need to always find a permanent place to store them. And, sometimes storing things means you don’t plan on using them often. Spend time purging a small area like a closet, scanning for & removing things will not be used in the next six months. If it’s not something you need on a seasonal basis, consider parting with it.
  1. Do an “evening clean up” before bedtime. Spend five minutes tidying up areas like your desk, living room, or bedroom. Take dishes to the kitchen sink, stack paperwork neatly, and put things where they belong. If you make this a daily habit, you’ll feel much more organized and prepared for the next day.

What other challenges can you complete in five minutes or less to feel more organized and fulfilled?