Many thanks to Richard Campen for today’s post on how to organize your children’s playroom.
The playroom acts as a retreat for your kids. It is a place they can come to play with the toys, enjoy making crafts, and to read books. Unfortunately, this room is sometimes one of the most unorganized and messiest in the home.
One of the best ways to keep a playroom tidy is to organize it in a manner that is easy for children to maintain. Here are five organizing ideas that will help you organize your child’s playroom:
1. Consider Using Clear Storage Bins
Toy boxes are not bad ideas. They just prevent kids from being able to see all of their toys. When children are trying to find a particular toy to play with, they will dump its contents onto the floor. See-through plastic storage bins allow your children to see what is in them. Place toys in a bin according to their type and add labels using pictures and/or words to make identifying the contents easier. Clear containers let kids find exactly what they want without rummaging through everything.
2. Remove Old and Broken Toys
If your kids own a lot of toys, there is a good chance that some of them are old and not in the best condition. Twice a year, go through the playroom and get rid of items that are no longer useful. Throw out any toys that no longer work. If the toys are old and meant for younger children, donate them. You can even let your kids help you by letting them sort out the toys they no longer want.
3. Keep Your Kids in Mind When Organizing
Do not forget that you are organizing a room for kids. When you organize any bookcases or shelves, place the toys that are used the most on the bottom of the shelves. Reserve the highest points in the room for storing toys that do not receive as much use or are out-of-season. Also, keep in mind your kid’s height in mind while storing the toys/ books/ games so that they remain within their reach. Doing this will ensure that your child get the most use out of their toys and encourage them to put things back where they belong.
4. Create Zones
Again, an important aspect of organization is having a place for everything. Creating zones in the playroom is a good way to for kids to identify where certain items go. Having a reading zone with a bookcase will give your children an area to put their books when they are finished reading. An arts and crafts area will provide a place to store arts and crafts materials. If the room is large enough, use a bookcase as a divider to separate the room into study and play areas.
5. Teach Your Children to be Neat and Organized
One of the biggest ways to keep a playroom neat and organized is to keep items not in use in a designated storage area. A good way to teach your kids this point is by allowing them to participate in the clean up and organization process.
Most kids probably see cleaning up as a chore and may reluctant to want to do it. You can encourage organizing activities by doing the following:
- Teach them a song and sing along with them while cleaning up the room, so as to make the cleaning process more entertaining and engaging.
- Encourage kids to put their stuff back in their designated spaces after they’re finished playing. You can also praise them for putting things away in front of other family members. It’ll make them more responsible and confident.
- Convert the process of cleaning the room into a game. Tell your kids to use their energy and memory to put their toys in the right place quickly. The one who does it first can then get a reward.
- Remind your children that if they practice putting things away when they’re finished with them, they won’t have a lot to do when it’s clean up time.
Try some of today’s suggested tips to help keep your children’s playroom uncluttered and more easily maintained, and please share in the comments what works for you.
About the Author
Today’s guest author, Melisa Cammack, shares advice on how to help your children transition to a home of their own.
Before you boot your fledgling adult from the nest and turn your child’s room into the home gym you’ve always dreamed of, consider carefully what he/she will need to take. How much furniture will they need? Do they have enough room for all their things? Will you keep some items in your home? Carefully consider which pieces will be essential and help your child transition to a home of their own.
Being quite removed from those first days on their own, many parents may not think of all the types of things their child may need for his or her first place. Some children might insist they need a big-screen television or the latest gaming system. You might even get requests for color-coordinated bedding and drapes or other décor like wall art and throw rugs. To figure out what is really needed, start with the basics: a bed to sleep in, a chair to sit in, some pots to cook in, and a lamp or two at night. Talk through with your child other items that they will need (e.g., linens, personal care items, cleaning supplies, etc.) and write a list to ensure nothing is forgotten.
What don’t they have?
Decide on what is absolutely necessary based on their personal preferences and your budget. Many household items can be handed down or purchased inexpensively at thrift shops. Pots, utensils, trash cans, glassware, and photo frames don’t have to cost a fortune. Some furniture can be found at flea markets (or even your own home) and stored until moving day.
What is left behind?
For many young adults, their first move away from home is usually a temporary one into a tiny college dorm or a friend’s furnished apartment. In these cases, kids tend to leave most of their larger items behind with their parents for a while. If you no longer have room for them, renting a secure storage unit can be a way to make sure their bed, dresser, bookshelves, and other large items will still be accessible when they move into a bigger place. And, they’ll be tucked out of the way when you bring home your new treadmill and stair climber.
About the Author
Melisa Cammack has been freelance writing for several years, and loves to write for parenting, self-help, and health blogs. She is currently promoting self storage in Albuquerque NM and storage units in York, and wants to wish everyone a stress-free moving day!
Please welcome new guest blogger, Gwen Stewart, who has tips on how to jack up your productivity.
Do you thrive on routine or do you run away from it? Most people have morning routine when they come into work—grab a coffee, check your emails, make a few calls. If you are struggling to accomplish everything you need to each day, then you may need to tweak your routine.
Here are four ways you can tweak your routine to boost your productivity.
1. Eliminate Your 5 Top Time Wasters
The first thing you need to do is to list the five things that you do each day that waste your time. The list may include things like checking your email, using Twitter, checking Reddit, a coffee break, or phone calls chatting with friends. Not all of these activities are bad to do when you are stuck, but you may be surprised at how much time they are eating up throughout your day. Start listing how much time you spend on each activity throughout the day. If you can eliminate or limit the time you spend on these activities you can boost your productivity.
2. Condense Your Like Tasks Into Groups
You can save time by condensing your tasks, so that you take care of similar things at the same time. It can also save you time if you do not do one task multiple times during the day. For example, if you check your email first thing in the morning, and then again at the end of the day, you will save yourself time during the day.
You can also schedule meetings and make phone calls at the same time you do this, and you will free up more time to focus on larger projects. Similarly, you may want to schedule all of your writing tasks for the same time or same day and all of your accounting tasks for a specific day of the week. This will allow you to focus on the task, and eliminate mistakes you may make when you are multi-tasking.
3. Look at Your Best Time to Schedule Difficult Tasks
You can boost your productivity by taking the time to schedule tasks around the times you have the most energy. Some people have more energy in the morning and tend to struggle to pay attention in the afternoon, while other people are sluggish in the morning and have most of their energy in the afternoon. Schedule your menial tasks to take place during your downtime, so that you can focus your energy on the tasks that need it the most. This simple step can help you focus and accomplish a lot more each day. If you are under a tight deadline, you may not have this luxury, and you can reward yourself by breaking your larger tasks into smaller chunks and giving yourself a break after you finish each of the smaller sets of tasks.
4. Shut Out Distractions
Another important aspect of tweaking your to-do list is to eliminate your distractions during the day. It does not matter how much time you allot yourself for a task, if people continuously interrupt you while you are trying to get it done. This may mean turning off the phone, and sending all calls straight to voicemail. You may also want to turn off the notifications you get whenever an email comes in. If you work from home, you may need to train your family to leave you alone if your office door is shut. You may need to do the same thing if you are working in an office. There are programs you can install on your computer that will prevent you from accessing the Internet during times that you set, which can help you eliminate distractions.
About the Author
Gwen Stewart is a business development professional and writer for Outbounding.com. Her line of work often requires she have a great solution for large file transfers and meeting tight deadlines. Any spare time she can scrape together finds her hiking, reading and enjoying the company of great friends.
Guest blogger, Tracy Pierce, explains how Evernote helps her to be productive.
I’ve never been a person who is on the cutting edge of technology. One of the reasons I like the Organize to Revitalize blog so much is all the great information about new organizing technologies. Deb wrote a great post about Evernote over on their website a few years ago, and I have to agree, Evernote has changed the way I organize my life for the better.
Recently, I decided that I had to make a switch in organizing my online research. I had struggled for years to find a good way to do this. I do a LOT of research online.
I had tried:
- Printing webpages and organizing them in binders by topic (bulky and take up a lot of extra space).
- Creating bookmarks by topic in my browser (no search function, I still had to get back to the right webpage by memory).
- Starring favorite articles in Google reader (search function, but I still had to remember if I read it in Google reader or somewhere else).
Rarely did any of these methods end well – I was searching multiple places for the same information and this was really counterintuitive and irritating.
And, what about notes I kept on my cell phone if I didn’t have a piece of paper? I could never seem to manage to find a good way to organize these notes, and usually ended up reverting to paper or forgetting about the information completely.
Luckily, Evernote takes care of all these information wrangling challenges and more! When researching online I can easily use the webclipper to select the information I want to save. It is even smart enough to guess which notebook I want to file it in – and it’s usually right. I can quickly add tags to notes and/or do a keyword search or for easy retrieval. Notebooks are organized and can be placed in “stacks” under a more general heading:
Another great benefit of Evernote is that it’s on the cloud, so I can access and add to it as long as I have a proper device, such as my smartphone. Since I don’t currently own a laptop, if I’m ever traveling I can still access Evernote through any web-compatible computer should I want a larger screen than my smartphone offers. I love that I can access my notes anywhere I go!
But Evernote does more! I have used it for dictating voice notes, such as when taking measurements of a space (your phone must have the voice dictation ability in order for this to work). Snap a couple pictures and keep all the information in one place. Brilliant!
It’s also great for writers. When you get that dazzling idea for your next novel, blog post, or newspaper article, how do you get it out of your head before it disappears? It’s pretty easy to create a new note, type, or record the idea quickly and file it into my “Work – Writing” folder.
In my ever-increasing effort to ditch the paper and go digital, I’ve even scanned in handwritten notes from seminars I’ve been to. I applaud the geniuses who came up with this feature. Magically, Evernote can even include your handwritten notes in the search index! It’s not instantaneous, but it’s really cool!
Evernote has definitely taken my digital organization to a whole new level. I look forward to its updates and upgrades and learning more about this great organizing tool!
Have you used Evernote? I’d love to hear about your experiences with it in the comments below.
About the Author
Tracy K. Pierce is a holistic professional organizer, clutter coach, and certified bio energetic synchronization technique (B.E.S.T.) practitioner. She founded her two businesses, Synergy Organizing and Synergy Wellness, with the mission of propelling her clients towards the realization of their ideal lives. It is her passion to help people reclaim space for what matters most. Tracy will consider travel to anywhere in North America for professional organizing services and offers Skype clutter coaching sessions to anyone in the world.
Today’s guest post about increasing your productivity is by Michelle Rebecca. She’s new to OTR, so please give her a warm welcome.
Multi-tasking is no longer a desired quality in an employee, it’s an absolute requisite. Unfortunately, there is no way to get more hours in the day … so employers seek out avenues for increasing productivity. Sometimes, this can have the reverse effect.
Here are a few of the most common “helpful” tips that often don’t work:
Maximize Your Time
Eating lunch at your desk used to be a universal symbol of a hard worker. This person is so dedicated that they don’t even take a real lunch break.
Think again…because trying to simultaneously eat and send an email slows down both processes. There’s also a possibility that this worker is prone to checking Facebook while munching on a wrap rather than filling out reports.
It’s also very important to prioritize breaks. Taking a lunch hour or 30 minutes away from a workspace rejuvenates you and allows for better use of time when lunch is over. Whether you manage a private investigator company or a staffing firm, happy employees are productive employees.
It’s All About Planning
Planning is important, but not as important as results.
Your mom might have been the queen of “to-do lists,” but writing things out by hand doesn’t help productivity. An office needs to have an established means of prioritizing tasks, such as Google+’s latest ESN features, which you can quickly scan and update in just a few brief seconds.
Offices can get caught up in the planning of things and putting the action by the wayside. Yes, documenting things is important. Having clear goals is essential. However, goal planning is something that should be done during set times (and not daily), and documentation should be a clear, straightforward process that administrative professionals are in charge of.
Work’s a Party?
You know morale is good for the office. Having solid professional relationships is beneficial and if colleagues genuinely like each other, that’s an extra perk. However, those requisite birthday parties for every single person and team building exercises don’t always work. If everyone considers it just another part of the job and no one really enjoys it, what’s the point?
Consider what your staff is saying and be honest with yourself. You know if everyone secretly dreads those office parties, so don’t force something that’s not there. Open up a discussion about what your staff really wants. Maybe it will work and maybe it won’t, but it beats sticking to the same old routine just because it’s familiar.
Trial and Error
Remember: Just because something has “always been done this way” doesn’t mean it’s right. Be open to change. More importantly, keep an eye on the overall productivity level and if it’s not up to snuff, get creative about ways to change it.
Also keep in mind some of these not-so-helpful tips actually do work for some people. The real secret is finding out what works for you and your staff. Everyone is different and everyone works differently. Being able to take an objective look at real work output, employee happiness, and overall morale is key.
About the Author
Michelle Rebecca is a Content Specialist and Blogger with a passion for the Internet, specifically social media and blogging. She loves how social media connects people across the globe, and appreciates that blogging gives her the opportunity to voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.
Please give a warm welcome to past guest blogger, Helene Segura, and check out her tips below on how to go about finding your next favorite app.
What’s the best calendar app? What’s the best app for to do lists?
What’s the best app for ____________ ?
Most folks are underwhelmed by the first part of my answer: The best app is the one that works for you.
When they allow me to explain myself, they begin to see that there is not a single magic cure-all for everyone in the world. Everyone has a different personality, different finger dexterity, different phone/tablet features, and different needs, so an app that works wonders for your friend, might not deliver the same results for you.
My clients who find that apps don’t help them have the following similarities:
- They don’t know their goals.
- They download a popular app they’ve heard about, but haven’t read up on various apps to know what their choices are.
- They try out an app for only one week – never really getting “into the groove” and learning what it can do.
- They switch apps every week, always trying to find the latest and greatest tool. But, they never make progress because they’re hopping around instead of digging in.
Your best bet is to go through the following steps to find an app which will suit your needs:
Determine what you are trying to accomplish with the app
- What have you not been able to do successfully?
- What do you want this app to be able to do for you?
Answer those two questions and you’ll be well on your way to figuring out the kind of app you need.
Do Some Research
- Read two or three reviews or “Top 10″ lists from reliable sources (PC World, Mashable, TechLearning, etc. ).
- Based on your goals and research, determine which two apps would most likely meet your needs.
- Download them. Give the “lite” versions a try. Many paid apps have at least a limited free trial period.
The first week is usually trial and error and getting used to the functions of the application.
- Test App #1 for two weeks. Reflect on what you like and don’t like.
- Test App #2 for two weeks. Reflect on what you like and don’t like.
- Based on your trial runs, which app will best suit your needs?
Once you’ve made your choice, use it. Every day. An app can help you only if its tools are utilized. If in six months, your life and needs change, you can go through the process again to find your next favorite app.
About The Author
Productivity expert, Helene Segura, helps people get control of their stressful living and working spaces by teaching clients how to understand their core issues causing disorganization and thereby prevent it in the future. She is a Certified Professional Organizer® who has provided coaching for clients as varied as authors, physicians, artists, students, teachers, domestic engineers, and business owners.
Helene also conducts informative organizing workshops for larger groups such as non-profits, schools and businesses, and serves on the trailblazing team providing organizing help online at The Clutter Diet. She has been a featured organizing expert in publications such as Woman’s Day Magazine, as well as on Fox, CBS, and NBC affiliates. Helene is the author of Less Stress for Teachers: More Time & An Organized Classroom.
Buy Helene’s Book
Small business owners will appreciate today’s topic. New guest blogger, Elke Schmitt, explains the benefits of “keeping the books” in the cloud.
As a business owner, you want to outsource or delegate as much work as possible to other people, and doing the books should be no different. If you can make more per hour than you have to pay someone else, then you should definitely pay someone to do whatever the task is. Another reason to hire someone to do your accounting is that with something so important it’s best to hire an expert. Remember, you can’t do everything, and it’s important to focus on what you’re good at.
A lot of times business owners get trapped into doing the bookkeeping because the program is on their computer, and there is no easy way to access it, or to let others access it, without also giving them access to everything else you have on your computer. But today, with online accounting software, that’s changed! There are terrific accounting options for small business owners that put the accounting software in the cloud, nothing to download on your computer, which means you (or someone else) can access the books from anywhere as long as they have Internet.
If you’re worried about being in the cloud, you should know that the cloud is actually a more secure place for your financial data than on your own computer. The IT professionals that set up the service are very concerned with privacy, security, as well as compliance with the laws to keep sensitive data safe.
It will help you feel safer if you understand the terminology surrounding not only accounting but cloud-based software. If you’re unsure, you can rely on your certified public accountant or an accounting software expert to assist you.
Once you overcome your fears there are many benefits to accounting in the cloud such as:
- Simultaneous data access. You and your accounting professional can be in different cities, states or even countries, and access your data at the same time using a mobile device or computer. This will enable you to hire someone independent of location to help you with accounting and data entry.
- No software to install. The software is on a server off site, so you don’t have to install software on your computer that will take up a lot of space.
- Low start up costs. It often costs less to invest in cloud accounting software than to buy the older type locally installed software.
- Works with many operating systems. Most cloud-based software will work regardless if you use a Mac, Linux, or Windows operating system.
- Software is always current. For the price of your monthly fee you’ll get continuous updates which not only increase the value of the software, and the features, but also keeps the security at the highest level.
- Continuous technical support. If something goes wrong with your software you’ll have professional IT at your finger tips without having to bring on full-time professional staff, thus saving you even more money.
In order to find the right cloud-based accounting software for your small business, you should have a clear idea of what features you need, then test out existing cloud-based online accounting software to guarantee that it has everything you need. Becoming familiar with the various solutions available, reading reviews, and asking others what they think about your choices, will go far in ensuring that you choose the right software for you.
About the Author
Elke Schmitt is an English Philologist from Germany with a passion for Online Marketing and Internet trends. She currently works as an online marketing manager for GetApp, the #1 Cloud Business Apps Marketplace. Her motto is: “Your life is what your thoughts make it.”
A big welcome to new guest blogger, Ashlee McCullen, who has suggestions on how to cut through clutter.
One of the hardest parts of taking on household (or workplace) clutter is simply starting out. Because I found that I had difficulties keeping up with the tedious work of cleaning (hey, I’m just being honest!), I’ve implemented a few systems in recent years to help me take on big challenges. I might use any of these techniques together or separately, but what’s important is that they provide me with a manageable starting point and they give me the motivation to do the “dirty work” that’s not always fun.
Divide Tasks Up (Even if it Seems Ridiculously Specific)
Sometimes, when I really feel paralyzed, I’ll create a to-do list that starts with eating breakfast and getting dressed. Having super easy tasks ahead of me – and then getting them done – provides a surprising psychological boost for me. I tend to be more willing to go onto bigger things after accomplishing a few small tasks. In the same sense, I’ll take a chore like organizing my desk and break it down to 5 or 6 easy steps, like gathering papers into piles (e.g. To be Filed, Inbox) and then sorting each pile.
Divide (By Area) and Conquer (On a Rotating Basis)
I found recently that by grouping my household tasks by room, I could make better use of my to-do list. For one thing, I can knock out a few items easily by looking up what needs to be done in a particular room. But to keep things neat on an ongoing basis, I dedicate time each week to an in-depth cleaning of one particular room. That way, I can knock out low-priority items on a constant basis instead of letting them accumulate. Just a few ideas for implementing this include keeping a stack of index cards with tasks in each room, or using an electronic to-do list like Remember The Milk and tagging each task by room.
Seek a Friend’s Help
My husband and I will often team up to get big things done around the house. I find chores and monotonous cleaning tasks can be less painful when I do them with a companion. Just having someone else also adds a measure of accountability and of course, speeds things up. Plus, it’s just a bit more fun.
Work on an Area a Few Minutes at a Time
Sometimes, I’ll divide up cleaning tasks not necessarily into particular steps, but into chunks of time that I’ll dedicate to it. For instance, I’ll dedicate 15 minutes a day for several days to organize my nightstand drawer. That way, the tasks are less intimidating to take on, plus they don’t eat up a huge chunk of any one day.
Try a (New) System
I’ll admit I’m a “hardcore” to-list junkie. I like to write down everything as a task. I’ll keep a “Today” list, a “Next” list and a “Someday/Maybe” list, plus an “Inbox.” Yeah, it’s a lot of sorting and categorizing, but for me, it works. Your own approach to tasks may be different, but it should be something. A system can help you manage your priorities and know where to start. Some people live by their glass boards, while others use index cards or even just notepad paper to keep up with tasks. Either way, try something new and see if it helps you overcome clutter paralysis.
About The Author
Ashlee McCullen is a staff writer for Apron Addicts, a website about kitchen fashion and home style. She also writes about mobile technology, travel, food, and whatever else strikes her fancy at the moment.
Connect With Ashlee: Website
We’re excited to introduce a new guest blogger, Certified Professional Organizer®, Sharon Lowenheim. She has first hand knowledge and a few tips about staying organized in a small space. Welcome, Sharon!
Staying organized in a New York City apartment is challenging. We have no basements, attics, or garages in which store things we aren’t using daily. Our kitchens tend to be small, with never enough cabinet space and no pantry. Closets are few in number. In some ways, these limitations are a blessing, as they force us to make decisions about what items are truly important to us.
To help my clients make those decisions, we use one of my basic organizing principles: “Use it, love it, or lose it.” There are things that we use every day — toothbrush, coffee cup, and bedroom slippers. We definitely want to keep those. There are also things that we love, that make our lives meaningful — like photographs, music, and art. We definitely want to keep those, too.
What about the stuff that we don’t use very often and we don’t love? We should examine those things very carefully. What are they contributing to our lives? Are we holding on to them just because we’ve always had them? Here is an analogy that my clients have found helpful. Let’s pretend that you are packing for a journey. When you pack for a trip, you don’t take along everything you own, do you? That would be cumbersome. You only pack those items you anticipate needing or using on that trip.
So, let’s pretend that you are packing for a journey that starts today and continues until the end of your life. What do you need to pack to go on that journey? What items will not serve you on that journey and can be left behind? Thinking about your possessions in this way — and their applicability to the life you are living now as well as the one you expect to live in the future — can help you to let go of items that you have been holding on to out of habit.
Once you use the “Use it, love it, or lose it” principle — and the journey analogy — to arrive at the right amount of stuff for you, then it’s time to apply another of my basic organizing principles: “One in, one out.” Every time something new comes in your home, something of equivalent function should be donated, recycled, or thrown away. Otherwise, you just end up with the same problem again: a home full of stuff you don’t use anymore.
Clothes are an interesting case in point. Did you know that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time? We love getting new clothes, and we want to wear them as often as possible. They fit well, they aren’t faded or soiled or stretched out, and they are this year’s styles and colors. Every time our new clothes come out of the laundry, we wear them again. What we don’t think about is are the clothes that we are not wearing because of our new clothes. The tired old clothes from a few seasons ago are regulated to the back of the closet. That’s why it’s prudent to get rid of your least favorite item when something new comes in.
These techniques that I use with my New York City clients in their small spaces will work equally well for those of you who have larger spaces but still feel overwhelmed by the excess.
About The Author
Sharon Lowenheim, Certified Professional Organizer®, helps individuals in their homes or offices to overcome three kinds of clutter: physical clutter, electronic clutter, and mental clutter. Her specialties are: maximizing the space in New York City apartments, and helping high performers to spend their time more productively. Sharon founded Organizing Goddess, Inc., in 2006 after 25 years in Corporate America working for three of the world’s largest companies. She is a native New Yorker, and has spent a lifetime developing techniques for living happily and comfortably in small spaces. Sharon graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. She did her graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a Masters degree in Computer Science as well as an MBA from the Wharton School.