- Set goals and write them down. You are 10 times more likely to make a change by physically writing down your goals.
- Structure your day. When you spend time scattered about, you end up feeling unaccomplished. Manage your time with a plan.
- Take baby steps. We can only change about 10% at a time, so start small and take it slow. Don’t set your expectations too high.
- Edit where you can. Delegate and determine what you can eliminate from your tasks, putting your priorities in place.
- Create a routine. Set up a schedule with regular times to work on specific projects.
- Finish what you start. Clutter is often related to unfinished tasks. Make it a point to finish projects and put away related items each and every time.
- Establish good habits. Read our blog post: Organization: It All Boils Down to Creating Good Habits.
- Schedule an appointment. Start off 2012 organized with a personal visit from our professional organizers. Call us at (847) 825-8400.
The month of December feels like it’s two months rolled into one. If you think about it, the amount of “extra” things we do in December is overwhelming. We do everything from holiday decorating to baking and parties to year end finances and needing to squeeze in those special holiday visits with friends and family. Work still has to get done, and sometimes at the end of the year there’s even a big push to also get extra work done–go figure! Here’s a little product that can help to keep your projects organized . The Project Organizer from Smead is a great place to keep papers from several different projects relating to one category. I particularly like the labels because you can create 10 different categories with labels all in one Project Organizer. There’s also plenty of space inside for notes and lists. It’s made with a durable cover and 2-ply tabs. If you’re on the go, it’s good to bring along. Check out the Smead Project Organizer and get your papers in their place!
As the owner of Chaos To Order you may assume that every aspect of my life is organized—Wrong-O! I have come to realize one of the reasons I’m so passionate about organization and how to better achieve a more organized space is because I struggle with what I call, “Organizing ADD”.
As I’ve become more involved in the creative aspects of Chaos To Order, I find that my brain flits from one creative idea to the next leaving in its wake scattered thoughts, papers, to-do’s, etc… It’s gotten to the point that it becomes a real distraction for me. So knowing this about myself, and quite frankly, loving the innovative, idea churning aspect of this business— I wouldn’t want to stop those creative juices from flowing. So knowing that I have them and how they distract me, I plan accordingly. I plan ahead for the distraction of fleeting thoughts. I keep a notepad handy and know that the space around me is going to become cluttered. That’s where having good systems come into play. I have my “Dirty Little Secret Drawer”, my filing cabinet and beloved laptop, with folders to store every document, task, meeting and idea.
It’s not that I want to go thru life with everything remaining in perfect order— I’m not sure how much fun that would be anyway. I want to go thru life with systems in place so that when the creativity and chaos of life happen, I have a roadmap to reclaim the order that brings me peace.
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: email@example.com 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.
The process of organizing requires you to always be putting like things together. But what happens when you have an array of miscellaneous items that need to be organized and somehow contained? Well here are before and after photos of a kitchen cabinet that was a catch-all for everything that didn’t have a place. The first step was to weed out what was no longer needed. The second step was to create categories for what was left. For example, there were lots of cords and computer wires. You know the ones– you don’t need them, but if you get rid of one, then you have to run to the store and purchase it again! So we put all the cords into a section, found the proper fitting container and labeled it “cords”–brilliant, right! This same process applies to any area that needs organizing. It’s just a matter of weeding out, figuring out how we can categorize things, finding a container that fits it, labeling so we can find it again and voila–it’s organized!
This week I am at the annual conference for the National Association of Professional Organizers in San Diego. It’s the place where everything organized happens. Professional organizers from all over the world meet up and the many products that help us organize are exhibited. There are many new and exciting products and ideas that I am learning about. The tote in the photo here is called LifeSTYLE File Tote. You can find it at www.jamieraquel.com. It holds standard letter-size hanging files in a very sturdy box form. It comes in seven colors and is very attractive looking, you don’t feel like your carrying around a file box (even though you are). Check them out, and stay tuned for more posts on organizing products I’m finding at the NAPO Conference.
Ziploc bags are an essential element in any organized home (we also find plenty of them in not-so-organized homes). We are mid-way through March and that means that many people are planning spring break get-aways. Ziploc bags are perfect for travel. Now that sectioning out your liquids into 3oz containers when flying is the norm, the Ziploc bag is more handy than ever. Even before we had to put liquids into clear bags for flying, they were still the optimal choice because they protect leak-ables from oozing onto other items. I always travel with an extra stash, they’re great for toiletries, food (that’s what they were meant for, right?), sectioning and sorting everything from tiny toys to papers and puzzles, the list is endless. There’s also Ziploc Big Bags which are great for sorting clothes, keeping sets of linens together, etc…what do you use Ziploc bags for?
I spent the weekend with eBay on location in Chicago. Initially, I became involved with eBay as a spokesperson for eBay Classifieds. As I’ve learned more about this terrific company, I’ve gained interest in finding ways to make eBay a useful tool for our clients. Most of our clients complain about having too much “stuff”. When we are working to weed out and pare down with someone, we find three categories of things to eliminate. It’s either garbage, donation or “I don’t use it, but it’s too good to get rid of”. So what about finding a way to sell it on eBay? I am exploring the option of having Chaos To Order be a source for our clients to sell unwanted items. There’s a lot to consider in doing this, and we are not officially doing it yet, but I would love any thoughts and ideas that you, our customers would have. You can comment on this blog post, email the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (847) 825-8400.
Is your basement filled with clutter? Hot days are the perfect time to get down into your cool basement and organize. Don’t get overwhelmed by a basement filled with clutter, you’ve got to start somewhere. Make a plan: How much of grandmother’s furniture are you going to save? How long have you been saving all that stuff for the upcoming yard sale you’ve never had? Do you get lost in a sea of keepsakes and mementos? Remember, if you keep too much, you can’t find what’s truly important. Weed out, organize and contain items in your basement. Plastic bins with lids and labels are perfect for the stuff you want to keep, but wait–don’t go out and buy the bins first, you’ll end up with container clutter! Start by weeding out. Determine what you can toss, what you can donate or sell online. Have a plan in place, if not, you may get down into that basement and just push piles from one place to another. If you can’t seem to get thru it, remember to call the office at 847-825-8400, we are always here to help!
Being organized is all about having the habits in place to maintain order. Being disorganized is all about having habits in place that inhibit maintaining order. As you go about your day, stop yourself and ask, “Am I finishing tasks that I begin?” I happen to be easily distracted and have to work hard to complete tasks. My husband is a task master, when he starts a project, nothing can stop him until it’s complete and every piece is properly put away. I, on the other hand, get distracted at a moments notice. I can fly from one thing to another without a second thought. I have to work to remind myself that I’ll be so much better off if I take the time to put everything away when I finish. I’ve used this quote with my children since they were very small, it’s a constant reminder to me and to them, “finish one project before you start another”.
If you want to create habits to help yourself become more organized, read my blog post, “How To Create A Habit”. Living organized is all about having the habits in place and the discipline to maintain them–much easier said than done!
If you keep your closet organized by season, you’ve moved back or put away the summer stuff and have fall/winter clothes easily accessible in your closet–right? The problem then is, how do you know where everything is when you need to pack for a vacation? This is another reason why it is so important to look over your entire wardrobe every season. If you have too much to look through, it becomes a daunting task. However, if you keep only what you’re currently wearing, you can get through it quickly. The better organized your clothes are when you “seasonize” your closet, the easier it is to find exactly what your looking for when you’re packing. A few things you may want to consider:
- When putting away summer clothes, think “vacation” and pack a box that has all the items you’d want to take with you. Example: favorite shorts, swim suit, several summer shirts, sandals, etc.
- If you store off-season items in boxes, label them with what’s inside. You can be as general as “shorts” or as specific as having an entire list on the outside of the box.
- Have you had something in your closet FOREVER because it has sentimental value? Box it up and store it as “Keepsake Clothes”. Closet space should be reserved for things you currently wear, especially when space is limited.
Again, the more time you take to organize your clothes now, the easier it will be when it comes time to pack for a trip. As you know, Chaos to Order is always here to help you through the closet organizing process!
Every year around this time we receive desperate calls from clients asking us to come and help them sort through papers and get tax documents in order. There are a few simple steps you can take to make it a little easier. First, have a single spot where you deal with paper, mail and receipts. Next,keep a file handy to throw tax deductible receipts into, if it’s in the back of a stuffed file cabinet, it’s too much work. Filing receipts and papers needs to be easy, a good system is essential. Now you may look at the system you have and feel overwhelmed. Instead of feeling like you need to start a major task in order to get a system in place going forward, just get a simple file crate and start there. As you find time and motivation, you can take a couple file folders at a time and weed out the drawers. Another thing you can do to help keep track of your receipts and tax related documents is make sure you only save what you need. If you keep too much, you can’t find what’s really important. When saving receipts, first create some parameters. Is it tax deductible? Will you need it in the future? Might you return this item? If not, you can toss it. Another must is a yearly tax file. Create a 2009 tax file now. Keep forms and important tax related documents in it. Use a separate folder for tax deductible receipts. Depending on how many you have, you may want to make categories. If you deduct most of the receipts and bills you pay, you may want to make files labeled January – December 2009. Tax time, like any other organizing project takes well thought out systems and good maintenance habits. Follow these ideas and preparing your taxes will be much simpler and less stressful.