If time seems to constantly get away from you, keeping track of it is a good idea. I love this handy little digital timer, but there are many other timers that you probably have on hand. Most cell/smart phones have alarms and timers built into them. There are timers in your kitchen, on your microwave, oven or stove. Here are some ways I like to use timers:
Deadline timing: If I’m on a tight deadline for something, I’ll set the timer and designate a certain amount of time to each item or part of a project. Sometimes working under pressure helps to push me along and the timer keeps me from allowing distractions.
Time the kids: The best use of a timer in my household is with the kids. We can agree on an amount of time that they can be gaming, computing or watching TV and set the timer. If I don’t set a timer, I often forget and they can be entranced for hours!
Beat the clock: You can also use the timer to play beat the clock. If you want to get something done, but you have limited time, keep that timer out with a digital countdown.
30 Minute Fix: If you have a big project looming that’s wasting more energy in thought than action, set the timer for 30 minutes and take the first chunk out of it. Getting started can often get you moving in the right direction and it certainly helps to eliminate the overwhelm.
10 Minute Tidy: Carve out ten minutes, set the timer and do a ten minute tidy. I’m sure there are many times that you should be giving it a lot more than the ten minutes, but if it’s a busy day, ten minutes is better than no minutes!
It’s great to have a digital timer thats out and available for all to see. There are so many other ways to use a timer to make best use of your time, whether it’s pending projects, organizing a space or managing the kids, always be aware of the time, after all it is our most valuable and limited resource. What are some ways you use timers to get things done?
When we create new filing systems for our clients, we always recommend using 1/3 cut reinforced file folders inserted into a hanging file system. The reinforced file folders stand up to wear and tear so much longer than standard file folders, especially if you have an over-stuffed file cabinet where the files pop up and rub against the top when you open it :-/ The flimsy top of standard manilla files get tattered and torn quickly. The simple reinforcement allows the file folder to last much longer. If you’re going to go through the effort of updating your filing system, it’s worth spending a few extra dollars and purchasingreinforced file folders especially for files that you plan to keep for a long period of time.
January is the best time of year to revamp your filing system. It’s a new year, so you can start fresh and feel organized by paying some attention to those all-too-forgotten files. Any files that you create yearly will need to be re-created. For example, I create monthly files each year. Rather than having individual files for all of the different payments, I make January – December files each year and can quickly file all paid bills at once. At the end of the year, the files go into storage and new ones are created. I save my monthly files for 7 years, so each year I also remove the oldest box. Although monthly file tabs are great, they don’t work for everything, so you will need to update any other files you have.
If you are going to create new files, invest in good ones. I love the Reinforced Manilla file folders by Pendaflex. Files are kept for a long time, some are kept indefinitely and others 4-7 years–here’s our document retention schedule for tips on how long to keep specific papers. With the heavy use that some files get, it’s worth it to pay a little extra for good, reinforced tabs on top of the file. When your drawer gets stuffed and the files start to pop up and rub across the top of the drawer when you open it, the label part of the file folder can get tattered quickly. The reinforced files stay strong and last much longer. Take the time to revamp your file system (of course, our organizers are always here to help you with fun projects like that) you will start the year off right, your tax preparer will thank you, your file drawer will no longer look like a bomb went off in it, and you will certainly feel more organized!
Statistics reveal that more than 80 percent of us buy transparent tape for wrapping packages during the holidays. With so many different types of tape dispensers, which one is the most efficient? I like the Scotch Deluxe Desktop Tape Dispenser. It allows you to use only one hand when dispensing tape, you can pull any size amount, sometimes you need long pieces and other times short pieces so the dispensers that pop out the same size every time don’t work as well. I’m using my dispenser heavily during this holiday wrapping time, but it’s also heavily used year around. I have a tape dispenser right at my desk as well as on the counter in the kitchen. I’ve talked about the Scotch Desktop Tape Dispenser in a previous post as well. There are all kinds of uses for tape around the house, especially in the kitchen. Everything from sealing bags to taping a quick note to someone on the cabinet. If your hosting Christmas and are busy wrapping presents and cooking in the kitchen, keep this tape dispenser handy!
For all you holiday shoppers out there who are looking for some great gift ideas for your oh so organized gift recipients, here are Five Friday Favorite gift ideas to make that organizing junkie happy:
Brother P-Touch Labeler. An organizers must have for labeling everything from file folders to storage boxes. It a great size, you can carry it along anywhere, and it makes nice laminated labels. You can purchase the Brother P-Touch Labeler at Officemax.
Folding Step Stool. If you’re vertically challenged and have floor to ceiling cabinets in your kitchen, a good step stool is a necessity. The Easy Fold Step Stool can hang on a hook or even slide into the cabinet where you keep trays and cookie sheets.
Market Tote. This handy basket is is great for shopping and running errands. Listen to our organizer Pam discuss how she uses it. Watch our YouTube video where she explains how she likes to use this basket.
Opt for an “Experience” Gift. Rather than purchasing a gift that will eventually end up adding to clutter, choose to spend time with your gift recipient doing something they enjoy. A movie, theater tickets, dinner together—opt for an adventure rather than an item.
Give the Gift of Organization. If someone on your gift list has been wanting to get themselves organized, you can purchase a gift certificate from Chaos To Order in any amount. Buy your gift here–shipping is free
Today’s Friday Favorite is the Command Hook from 3M. They are functional and attractive hooks that our organizers use and recommend frequently. These easy to use and removable hooks help make use of vertical wall space absolutely anywhere. The Command Hooks by 3M are not only good looking hooks, they are also completely removable with no damage to the walls. I use them in my mudroom. When the kids were little, I placed the hooks at an appropriate height so they could hang up their own coats as soon as they were able—it’s great to get them in that habit as soon as possible! Another great use for command hooks is in a closet or a bathroom—especially with kids—hanging towels, robes etc… at the appropriate height allows them to start taking the responsibility of putting their own things away. Apartment buildings, office space, teacher’s classrooms, there’s many places that having a removable, non damaging hook can come in handy. You can purchase Command Hooks at The Container Store or online at Amazon.com.
The unofficial end of summer is upon us as we approach Labor Day weekend. Kids are back to school and all schedules are amping up. Now is a good time to take a look at your household schedule and make sure smooth systems are in place. In the Friel household we use electronic calendars and sync them with our phones, but not everyone is old enough to have a phone or use the electronic calendar. So I keep a daily events calendar on a dry erase board in our mudroom/back entryway. This is a great way for everyone in the house (wired or not) to know what’s going on. You may choose to show a week at a time, that can work well too. I’ve just been in the habit of writing out the activities daily. When schedules get really busy you may opt for a daily view and during slower times you can switch it to weekly. That’s the beauty of having a plain white dry erase board, make it whatever you want–if it’s a special day, you may just want to save it for a big, “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations”. However you use it, a dry erase board prominently placed near the most used entry of your home is a great way to help keep your family and their schedules organized.
Here’s a nifty little product that can help to keep you organized in many ways. These tiny Tool Dots are powerful magnets that you can stick on any vertical surface to hold tools, knives, scissors etc… The vertical space on the wall is a great place to keep things visible and accessible. I love the photo below of the scissors for crafters. There is always so much “stuff” around when you’re working on crafts, keeping the scissors on a nearby wall is brilliant. In the kitchen, sharp knives can be placed high up and out of the way of small hands, even kitchen utensils can be tacked up inside a cabinet door for easy access. These terrific little Tool Dots can keep us organized in many ways! Order Tool Dots before your next organizing appointment and your organizer can help you decide how best to arrange and set them up. Click here to schedule your appointment.
Today my Friday Favorite involves a personal story that relates to some recent computer nightmares we’ve had here in the office. On Monday morning Karen powered up the computer to a scary looking screen saying it needed to restart—in many languages— major sign of trouble. After restarting several times, I rushed off to the Apple Store only to be told that the hard drive had crashed. Well, I didn’t think of it as a very big problem because we have learned from past issues that it is vital to our business to have back up systems in place. So knowing we were well backed up, I opted to replace the hard drive and reinstall from our backup drive, only to learn that the files in the Time Machine backup drive had corrupted! Thankfully we just recently started a regular upload of our database to Dropbox. It was only because of the Dropbox backup that we were able to salvage our most critical data. We are hearing more and more about “cloud computing” these days and although many people feel that if they can’t see the back up source they’re afraid they can’t count on it. Today I’m here to tell you that Dropbox.com was the only source that pulled through for Chaos To Order and I am a fan. If you have critical data that is backed up locally, consider a second back up on Dropbox, I can’t tell you how glad I am that we did!
In order to have an organized space, you need to have a place to put all of the items you have. I have an 8 year old daughter who loves art, reading and playing with a multitude of “little” things. We moved into our house when she was two and the space was perfect for her then, but as she has grown, so has the accumulation of stuff!
Since I’m always talking to other people about how to put their own stuff in order, it was time for me to practice what I preach with my daughter. Her room seemed to be a sufficient in size, but the problem now was where to put things. Remember, if you want easy access and organization, everything needs a place to belong. Clean up time is a whole lot easier when you know exactly where to put things. So we decided to remove a dresser on one wall and replace it with a desk, but not just a desk because, after all, how much stuff is going to fit into three drawers of a little desk? I consulted with my friend and awesome designer at Closet Works—Sue Tinker. We decided to create a desk surrounded by bookshelves, not just for her books, but also for her many knick knacks and collectables. In addition to the desk, bookshelves and drawers, we also added space for a bulletin board to hang the most recent drawings and creations. The result was the desk in this photo, she and I both love it. My daughter now has the perfect place to sit and color, read, create etc… and I have the perfect storage solution to finally organize all of her “little” things!
At Chaos To Order we are all big fans of labeling wherever you can because it helps to keep you organized. When I was asked to review this LabelWriter 450 DUO of course I agreed because I love any excuse to make labels! Once I got the LabelWriter up and going, I was surprised how quickly it printed and how easy it was to use. Being able to print postage, file folders, mailing labels AND plastic labels was a big bonus. The plastic coated labels are great to use for labeling all kinds of containers, which we love to use to help keep you organized. The fonts and added clip art designs allow you to get creative and print very professional looking labels—you can even add your logo. If you make frequent labels, or if you love all of the labeling flexibility—this is the labeler for you!
Dymo is running a contest where you can email in your best labeling tip and win a free labeler! So if you have a great tip for something you do with labels, send it in an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with DYMO on the subject line. You can also go to their Facebook page and post a tip on their wall at: www.facebook.com/getbuttonedup.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Dymo and Chaos To Order was compensated accordingly.
Tax time is over, but now you’re wondering what to do with all of those old files, receipts and other sensitive documents. They take up needed space but throwing them out is not a good option. We’ve all heard the stories of theives rummaging through garbage cans and dumpsters looking for personal information to steal. If you buy a personal paper shredder it could take hours or even days to shred all of the papers. Looking for a better solution? Use a commercial paper shredding and recycling company like Shred Spot.
Shred Spot charges $.45 per pound for the first 100 pounds and $.35 per pound thereafter. The shredders they use are very powerful and can tear through staples, paper clips and binder clips, as well as cd’s, credit cards and floppy discs with no problem. All of the paper, cardboard and metals are recycled. Shredding companies take your shredded paper, mix it with other shredded paper (this also helps with security) and then bale it into 1,000 lb to 1,800 lb bales which are then returned to paper mills to be converted back into recycled paper. Each ton of paper recycled saves 17 trees!
Shred Spot can take care of all of your document destruction needs. You can drop off papers at their Northbrook location and see them get shredded or they can pick up at your location (north side of Chicago through the north shore and northwest suburbs) for a $25.00 fee. Just call (847)291-0100 for an appointment. They are open 9:00-5:00 Monday through Friday and Saturdays by appointment but please call first. Don’t forget that no matter the color of your papers, the shreds are always green!
For our clients in the Atlanta area, we recommend I-Shred
Here’s another product I found last week at the conference for the National Association of Professional Organizers that I think is great. “Viewables” Color Labeling System. This “Viewable” file labeling system by Smead really stands up to its name because you can read them from the front, top or back! They are great in a file drawer that holds hanging files close together. Most of the file systems we create for our clients use hanging file folders as the category and reinforced 1/3 cut manilla file folders inside for the sub-category. They work fine when used like this, but they work even better when you have many categories for the hanging files close together. The matching file folder labels look great too. But they don’t just look great, they are also very customizable. You can create tons different colors and fonts with the software (included, but PC only). You can also get refills and reprint when you need more. Smead products are available at Staples and are great for good looking, long lasting, organized filing.
Our Atlanta organizer Leah suggested these bags from Envirosax, and they are really terrific. Here’s what she says about them…
“I LOVE these shopping bags. I have the ones that fold up into a pouch and they are small enough to fit into a purse, glove compartment, or even into pockets (I am forcing my husband and sons to take these re-usable bags when they shop as well). I have had mine for several years and use them for groceries, at the mall, or if I am carrying things I need to match. They are a little pricey but I put mine in the wasing machine if they get too dirty and I overload them at the store, never a problem. It is much easier to remember to bring your reusable bags into the grocery store if they are already in your purse. Last year I got one of the cute sling bags and have used it instead of a purse at kids’ sporting events — it is lightweight, can hold my camera, phone, wallet, and water and is ‘hands free’ so I can clap loudly. ”