New Year, New Theme: What’s Your Word for 2014?

On March 1, 2014, in Motivation, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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Welcome to a brand new year! What are you plans?

One of the things I intend to do this year is to surround my goals with a theme or a word (stop by our Facebook page to share your word for 2014) instead of focusing on tasks I want to accomplish.

Attempting to achieve a goal or two or ten can sometimes lead to frustration, especially since many people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by the time March rolls around. Which leads some people (myself included) to believe that resolutions are a waste of time.

Instead, selecting a theme can support the choices you make throughout the year. Before you make commitments, before making decisions (big or small), say to yourself:

“Will doing this fit with my theme this year?”

That simple question can affect the:

  • Goals you choose
  • People you keep in your close circles
  • Activities you say “yes” or “no” to
  • Words and language you use
  • Behaviors you cultivate



So, what’s my theme or word for 2014? I’ve had a tricky time picking one, but I’ve finally settled on consistency. I chose that word because I want it to be the thread that weaves itself throughout everything I do.

I’m great at starting projects. Tracking them. Tweaking them. Focusing on them. I give them 150% (though I may need to cut back to just 100%). Then, as sometimes happens, life throws a wrench in my direction. Even with a few wrenches in the mix, I still give my full attention, but my level of consistency seems to take a hit.

Not surprisingly, once I’m off track, it’s harder to get back on it.

So, I plan to:

1. Set reasonable goals with my theme or word for 2o14 in mind

2. Be more aware of the things (or people) that yank me off course

3. Come up with short-term steps to help keep me moving forward

4. Regularly look back at “the plan” for the year to see what adjustments need to be made

5. Ask for help (I really, really need to take off my super hero cape and consistently ask for help)

With this in mind, I’m suspect this will also help me kick stress to the curb often than not. So, now that I’ve announced my plan, feel free to keep me accountable. Gentle nudges and check-ins are are welcome. =)

Ok, now it’s your turn. What’s your word for 2014?



Fact Friday: Answering E-mails at Night Exhausts Employees the Next Day

On February 28, 2014, in Fact Friday, Productivity, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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“Reading and sending work email on a smartphone late into the evening doesn’t just make it harder to get a decent night’s sleep. New research findings show it also exhausts workers by morning and leaves them disengaged by the next afternoon.”

Read More:

Smartphones Make You Tired and Unproductive, Study Says | | 2.20.14



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You Have My Permission to Let Go of Clutter

On February 24, 2014, in Home Organizing, by Janice Simon
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During an organizing session, the busy clinician I was meeting with showed me the foot-high stack of unread medical journals.

“I thought I would read them, but they’ve been there for about two or three months,” she said.

“When you are looking for an article, where do you look first?” I asked.

“PubMed.” This is code for our campus library’s online journal search program.

“You can recycle them,” I replied. “Let them go.”

She breathed out a sigh of relief, and her shoulders relaxed. The doctor smiled since I gave her “permission” to do something she wanted to do but was nervous about.

permission to let go of clutter

We organizers wind up granting permission to many of our clients. Now I know what you’re thinking. We don’t need no stinkin’ permission. Why do Official Grown-Ups (OGU) need permission to do anything? Isn’t that the right of being an OGU?

One of the drawbacks of being an OGU is that our heads are filled with rules, thoughts about that permanent record our teachers always warned us about, and worry about what “they” say. No one can identify who “they” are, but they do say lots of things that we seem to listen to.

No matter how much of OGU we are, sometimes it helps to have permission to do what you want to do. Essentially, we need to cut ourselves a break. In honor of that …

You have my permission to let go of clutter

  1. Dump that stack of unread magazines and newspapers into the recycling can.
  2. Toss unattractive photos of yourself.
  3. Donate or sell books you know you won’t read again.
  4. Donate the shoes that hurt your feet.
  5. Cancel subscriptions and memberships that no longer serve you.
  6. Go paperless for your monthly bills.
  7. Leave your clothes in the dryer or laundry basket for a day or two. We won’t tell (so let go of stress!).
  8. Recycle the product registration cards you have no intention of filling out and mailing.
  9. Toss receipts you don’t need for your taxes or proof of large ticket purchases.
  10. Ditch old files of credit card statements, utility bills and bank statements.
  11. Shred papers with account numbers and confidential information. Don’t shred every single piece of paper with your name and address on it. If you own your home, your name and address are public record.
  12. Delete emails, documents and other digital files you no longer need.
  13. That thing you spent a great deal of money on but never use — get rid of it.

There you are. You have my permission to get rid of those things you really want to get rid of and still keep your Official Grown-Up street cred.

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Fact Friday: Multitasking is Impossible

On February 21, 2014, in Fact Friday, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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Organizing and productivity facts every Friday at Organize to Revitalize Blog“Multitasking is something we’ve long been encouraged to practice, but it tuns out multitasking is actually impossible.

When we think we’re multitasking, we’re actually context switching. That is, we’re quickly switching back and forth between different tasks rather than doing them at the same time.”

Read More:

10 Surprising Things That Benefit Our Brain That You Can Do Everyday | | 11.19.2013


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Storage Solutions: Visualize Going Vertical

On February 19, 2014, in Small Spaces, by Naomi Cook
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Stop for a second and look around you. Are all of your nearby surfaces covered with books, magazines, candles or knick-knacks?  Now take a look above those surfaces at the upper parts of the walls. What is the difference? Well, it could just be the solution to stopping clutter in its tracks!

The difference that I am speaking of is clear space. Yes, walls aren’t just meant for artwork and TV. They are valuable real estate in your home because they offer up great storage solutions. Think of how nice it would be to clear your surfaces, but still have your favorite items in the room. So, use your walls to your advantage and liven up those bare walls!

storage solutions

Here are five storage solutions that won’t even touch the ground:

1. Floating Shelves/Cubes. Pop a few cubes on the wall in a staggered position for a nice visual effect in any room. Use them for DVD’s in the living room, perfumes in the bathroom, and fresh herbs in your kitchen.

2. Floating Book Shelves. I have a floating book shelf made by Umbra (affiliate link) and LOVE IT!  It turned my favorite design books into a special wall sculpture in my office.  Do the same with your favorite cookbooks in your kitchen, nighttime reading by your bed, or storybooks in kids’ rooms.

3. Shadow Box. A couple of years ago, I put a shadow box (affiliate link) together for one of my oldest friends, with objects detailing memories of how we had met at day camp. These boxes are deep enough for knick-knacks that have meaning to you, but stay dust free (hooray!), and can and should be treated like art.

4. Hooks. Keep your necklaces and bracelets right in front of you on hooks and you will remember what you have, and you just might be more likely to wear and appreciate them. That’s what you bought them for in the first place, right? With multitudes of decorative hooks out in stores, you are bound to find one that matches the décor in your bedroom.

5. Over-The-Door Organizers.  Perhaps my favorite ways of going vertical is to use over-the-door organizers, especially since they are oh so easy to install – just slip them over your door!

Use shoe organizers with pockets (affiliate link) for belts and (of course) shoes in the bedroom. Or, like I do, to hold extra products in my bathroom. I recently advised a client to use these for extra storage in her pantry and she loved the idea! Think about all the little things that can go missing on your shelves like seasoning packets, spices, and extra chip clips.

So, what do you think? Are you up for seeing what you can eliminate from your surfaces? See if you will appreciate your items more once they are up at eye level, as if they are pieces of art in an art gallery or museum.

You have nothing to lose except those bare walls and clutter free surfaces!


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It is time for this month’s 5-Minute Organizing Challenge! What can you do in 5 minutes to get your life more organized? Did you know that February is National Time Management Month? That means the theme of this month’s challenge is managing your time effectively.


Time Management


Here are a few tasks that will each take as little as five minutes to complete.

1. Add meetings to your calendar. Check your digital or paper-based calendar system and make sure all the appointments and meetings for the next month have been recorded from e-mails, post-it notes, and voicemails.

2.  Set up alerts. Set reminders on your computer or smartphone for appointments, birthdays, financial deadlines, etc. You can set the reminder for the day before, the beginning of day a task is due, or customize it to your preference.

3. Organize your to do list. Once you have your task lists compiled, separate them thematically and create new ones. Why? If you have just one basic “To Do” or “To Buy” list, things can often get overlooked.

Here are some ways you can “break up” your to do list:

  • Top three things to do today
  • People to contact
  • Groceries to purchase
  • Supplies to purchase
  • Clients to call

4. Focus on important tasks. Make sure you prioritize just two or three of  the most important tasks you need to accomplish each day. Identify them and schedule specific times to work on them. This will help you to avoid getting caught up in low priority tasks all day. Start this process today!

5. Make time for fun. Schedule something each day that you love to do. If you do something you love for just a few minutes, you will boost your energy level. So take a walk around the block, read a chapter of a book, or sing along with your favorite song. What do you have to loose…except built up stress?

These are just a few small challenges you can use to manage your time effectively. What other things do you do that help you manage your time better? Share your tips in the comments below.


Check out the January 2014 Organizing Challenge ~ Home Office Edition

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5 Creative Office Organizing Tips and Ideas

On February 13, 2014, in Office Organizing, by Stephanie Shalofsky
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One of my favorite resources for inspiration as well as out of the box ideas for organizing various aspects of my life is Pinterest.

I have found many ingenious organizing ideas on the site and highly recommend spending a little time there if you are having difficulty finding the right solution for your organizing task.


creative office organizing tips and ideas

Original Image Credit: Houzz

To help you get started, I’ve pulled together five creative home office organizing tips and ideas that you can easily implement and benefit from immediately.

Five Creative Office Organizing Tips and Ideas


1. Control Paper with Desktop File Trays. Are you tired of the same old black, plastic file tray and in-box options? No worries – Pinterest has this covered with fun ideas for aesthetically pleasing file tray options.

… like the DIY idea below. Simply tape empty cereal boxes (tops cut cleanly off) together and wrap with pretty paper. Use horizontally or vertically!

I love this three-tiered design because it allows you keep your desk organized by optimizing your trays with “In,” “Out,” and “To File” sections.

Custom DIY file organization

Original Image Credit: The Organized Wife

2. File Papers More Easily. In addition to showcasing various office organizing ideas that will inspire you to tackle that pile of papers, Pinterest also features checklists that could save you time.

This chart of file categories doesn’t technically fit in the “creative” category, but it’s so colorful that I couldn’t leave it off the list! It can help you make a home for every piece of paper you need to keep. And, you can post it near your file cabinet for easy reference.

creative office organizing tips

Original Image Credit: Space for Living Organizing

Click to enlarge

3. Organize Your Cords. Some of the best office organization tips and ideas are so simple, yet so clever, like this cord keeper. Take an empty toilet paper roll, wrap it in that pretty paper (maybe use the same one from the trays above?) and voilà! You now have organized cords!

You could also organize that tangled pile of extension cords you are saving for future use.

creative office organizing tips

Original Image Credit: Craft Gawker

4. Corral Your Pens, Pencils, Markers. This solution is just as simple and clever as the one above and will keep all your pens neatly organized on one corner of your desk.

No need to sift through drawers and boxes trying to locate your favorite purple pen. Take an empty box, wrap it in pretty paper, stuff it with toilet paper rolls aligned vertically, and there you go!

creative office organizing tips

Original Image Credit: DIYator

5. Create a Charging Station. This solution takes the prize for creativity.  Repurpose those large binder clips that are taking up valuable space in your desk drawer and attach them to the edge of your desk, bookcase, etc.

Run your charging and sync cords through the eyes of the clips and ready, set, charge!

creative office organizing tips

Original Image Credit: Wired

Identifying the optimal office organizing tips and ideas to implement in your space is an essential component of the organizing process.

Be creative. Repurpose.

Enjoy creating the best solutions that will enable you to keep your home office organized and don’t forget to make a Pinterest board to store and organize all of the solutions that you find!

If you have taken a creative approach to a home office organizing challenge, please share it in the comments.

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Create Easy Infographics With the Pic Collage App

On February 10, 2014, in Apps, by Nealey Stapleton
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Pic Collage AppHave you seen friends post photo collages on their Facebook profiles? Or awesome infographics containing useful information? Or photos of cute animals with funny captions?

If you’re wondering how those things are created, then search no further. It can be very fun, free and simple (even for the technologically-challenged).

I use an app on my phone called Pic Collage. I create personal photo collages, useful infographics for my business (like the one on the right!), and inspirational quote images for my website…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as what you can make!

Here are some of the great features of Pic Collage:

  • Free from the App Store and Google Play
  • Connect to social media
  • Choose from tons of photo templates
  • Add text and stickers to photo collages
  • Explore and discover what others have posted
  • Use predesigned templates

Here are really fun ways to use this cool app:

  • Share collection of personal photos
  • Display photos showing a progression
  • Make a vision board
  • Create inspirational quote graphics
  • Show off your portfolio
  • Document travel or any other memories
  • Make something funny or cute or entertaining
  • Create infographics for your business
  • And so much more!
Pic-Collage-Personal Pic-Collage-Progression Pic-Collage-Portfolio
Pic-Collage-Travel Pic-Collage-Inspiration Pic-Collage-Funny

The process is pretty simple. Choose a photo or photos, pick the layout and background, add text and/or stickers and save it! Once you’ve created your awesome graphic, you have a few options as far as sharing it digitally. You can post it on your social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, save it to your phone’s library, or send it via email.

Give yourself some time to play around with it. There are a lot of options as far as layout templates, background colors, patterns, and so on.  It’s a time suck for sure, so have a plan before you get started!

Pic Collage App

Have you used the Pic Collage app before? What was your experience with it? Or, do you utilize another graphic-creation app? I’d love to hear from you. Share your opinions below!

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Remember the Brady Bunch? … man and 3 boys, mom and 3 girls, and their gal Alice who helped keep their lives running smoothly? Well, now there’s Modern Family with the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan working and playing together.  

Blended family” is the current term that refers to a family composed of a couple and their children from previous marriages. Blended families are part of almost every family now, whether they include grandma and her new spouse, your sibling and partner, or your children from prior marriages.

When family members come together under one roof, organization is an important part of a smooth running family life.

Blended Family

Being organized promotes a sense of calm

Clutter can bring on chaos, fuel strong emotions (which can run high), and can increase stress for each family member. So, bringing a sense of calm to an environment is important.

Setting up a home with a place for each family member, a spot for their belongings, and inviting family spaces can build community in a blended family. Doing this will help everyone feel like they belong and are respected in a home where everyone has a place to sleep and a place for their clothes, toys, and gadgets.

More family members means more stuff, so be on guard about keeping clutter away from family areas. Consider setting up a night time ritual to redistribute stuff to appropriate spots before everyone goes off to bed.

Being organized includes good time management

blended family calendarHaving a good handle on time management will help family members know who is coming and going, what activities are coming up, and when everyone will be home for dinner. This type of organization can bring another level of cohesiveness to a family.

When everyone feels informed and connected with a family calendar (affiliate link), family members will be encouraged to work together as a team. Sharing family responsibilities, like dinner preparation and laundry duties, furthers the blending process. When families eat and talk together, they keep the lines of communication open, and a nice side effect is that this helps to build lasting connections and strong family bonds.

Being organized adds consistency and promotes flexibility

Research has shown how important consistency is for all children. Consistency comes with the solid routines of family life. These regular habits can include doing laundry or grocery shopping on certain days and regular bedtime routines. Kids thrive when they know they can rely on specific activities each day.

And, when life is organized and things don’t go as planned, as we well know can happen often, being organized gives you the opportunity to make changes as needed. Having a balance of consistency and flexibility can also build resiliency, a key life skill.

Being organized can have a positive impact on you as a parent, on your kids, on your stepchildren — all your family members.  How will you organize your blended family?

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Get Organized and Be Lazy

On January 27, 2014, in Home Organizing, by Janice Simon
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As a professional organizer, one of the questions I’m asked on a regular basis is if I’m organized because I like it or have OCD.

Well, I have a dash of OCD, and I do like being organized. More importantly,  I am organized because I am lazy.

I am not fond of looking for stuff when I need it especially when getting ready for work in the morning. When I get ready, I need my clothes, shoes, socks, make-up, brush, and everything else at my fingertips and ready to use. If I’m looking for a document or photo, I want to find it quickly.

Get Organized and Be Lazy

Never fear, dear readers. You, too, can get organized and be lazy!

Here’s how:

  • Everything in your closet should fit you and be ready to wear. If it’s not your size or needs to be repaired or ironed, it should come out or be stored in another part of the closet or home. The same goes for shoes, underwear, pajamas, and other clothing items. This helps me get ready much quicker in the mornings since I know everything is ready to go.
  • Have a landing strip. Drop your keys, purse, and wallet in the same spot each time you come home. This eliminates the need to find your keys and such when you’re leaving the house.
  • Have assigned homes for your stuff. When you return your things to assigned homes, you can find your stuff easier and faster. Since I am super duper nearsighted, I can grab my lip balm in the dark of night without my glasses because I know where everything is located.
  • Know what you need. When mail comes into my home, most of it goes into the recycling can or the shredder (affiliate link). I know I don’t need new furniture, credit cards, phone service, real estate agent, or a dentist, and I also like to shop at particular stores. When I get mail for anything I don’t need or not interested in, I trash it immediately. No fuss, no muss.
  • Know what you have. Because I can easily see items that I do have, I’m not buying duplicates of things I already have. I know what I have, and when it gets low, I capture that on my shopping list.
  • Know what you use. On Evernote, I have a list of the beauty products that I currently use. The list includes the hair color I use to cover my special blondes, cosmetic brands and names, moisturizers, etc. When I’m out shopping, I can easily look up what I use if I can’t remember the specific color or number on a product.
  • Make paper digital. Paper leads to clutter. To cut down on paper, I pay my bills online and signed up for paperless statements with the companies who offer them. When I receive special bills, such as annual vehicle registration, I pay them online when possible.

With these tips, you too can be organized. Then, take a nap.

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