“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.”
Smartphones Make You Tired and Unproductive, Study Says | WSJ.com | 2.20.14
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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.
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
- Dump that stack of unread magazines and newspapers into the recycling can.
- Toss unattractive photos of yourself.
- Donate or sell books you know you won’t read again.
- Donate the shoes that hurt your feet.
- Cancel subscriptions and memberships that no longer serve you.
- Go paperless for your monthly bills.
- Leave your clothes in the dryer or laundry basket for a day or two. We won’t tell (so let go of stress!).
- Recycle the product registration cards you have no intention of filling out and mailing.
- Toss receipts you don’t need for your taxes or proof of large ticket purchases.
- Ditch old files of credit card statements, utility bills and bank statements.
- 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.
- Delete emails, documents and other digital files you no longer need.
- 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.
“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.”
10 Surprising Things That Benefit Our Brain That You Can Do Everyday | HuffingtonPost.com | 11.19.2013
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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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Have 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!
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!
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!
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.
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
Having 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?
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.
Never fear, dear readers. You, too, can get organized and be lazy!
- 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.
As 2014 has just started, this is the perfect time to re-think the process that is being used for managing your to do list as there are probably an ever increasing number of tasks that need to be addressed in both your professional and personal lives.
There may be a new project to be started at work, plans to be made for the upcoming family trip to visit your parents, and re-storing and restocking your home now that the holidays are officially over. Everywhere we turn there will probably be another item to add to the growing task list which will make organizing your to do list potentially a project all by itself!
The real challenge is capturing all these tasks in one place and then managing your list. You may believe that you can easily remember what needs to be done and might not see the need to start making lists. But, I am a firm believer in organizing your to do list and then maintaining the list.
Here are three reasons why your should maintain your to do list:
1. Have Less Stress. We all lead extremely busy lives and likely don’t want to add to our stress levels. By relying on your memory to address all that needs to be done is tempting fate. There is always that one really important, time sensitive task that needs to be done that will keep popping in/out of your mind…most likely at 3 AM when there is nothing that you can do about it!
By noting what needs to be done — either on paper or by using an app — you will be able to clear your mind so that you can focus on the actual mechanics of getting the tasks done.
2. No More Scraps of Paper. Keeping an organized to do list of all those tasks you need to complete, whether they be mundane like stopping at the dry cleaner or more significant like setting your first quarter goals, will put you on the path to getting the essential tasks addressed.
The key to success is actually creating a list so it doesn’t really matter whether you use a paper pad or an app. Jotting down what needs to be done on old receipts, takeout menus, or today’s newspaper may provide a temporary feeling of relief. However, when there is another scrap of paper containing a notation of something that you should be doing every place you look , it will soon become abundantly clear that this approach for maintaining your to do list is not effective.
3. Have More Control. If you collect all of your to do’s in one place, you will be able to see the big picture and, after a very quick review of the list, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about each day’s priorities. By doing this, you can ensure that all of the key deadlines will be met. Reviewing the list provides an opportunity to include additional tasks that may have been overlooked so that your task list is as complete as possible.
Keeping a master to do list to track your current and future tasks will prove to be great tool in improving productivity in 2014 There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing a completed task off the list!