16 Nov

Ok, for those of you who know me personally, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we would be moving house again but we’re not. Thank goodness!

At the end of the 31 Days writing challenge, I realized that because this blog is built on a free site, I have limited flexibility and options for building in more features and functions in the future. So, I decided to import my TechnicallyOrganizedMama posts onto my business site here at I’ll be writing over there from now on. Right now, I’m experimenting and trying out new things so I’ll hope to see you over there!

BTW, I just posted a quick video highlighting my three favorite tools for organizing. Check it out and let me know what you think…

How To Let Go of Stuff

8 Nov

Are you {or a family member} having a difficult time letting go of stuff around your home? If you {or your family member} are truly committed to uncluttering, here are some methods for helping the process along.

“Friends, Acquaintances, Strangers” is an organizing game created by Judith Kolberg, author of Conquering Chronic Disorganization. It’s a great method for helping you {or your child or spouse} sort and shed a particular type of item i.e. books, DVDs, toys, clothing, etc. I recommend using this approach following your initial empty and sort when you’ve arrived at the Shed step. This is the point at which you are looking at a specific category and deciding what you’d like to keep and what you are ready to let go of. How long should friends stay in your home? Acquaintances? What about Strangers?

Another option is to instead choose something you love like movies, music, or sports, for example. Select three different genres or sports based on your personal opinion of them: one you love and absolutely cannot live without {hip hop, for example}, another you feel somewhat ambivalent about {say, country}, and the third one you don’t care about at all {easy listening, perhaps}. This may include belongings you have used and loved in the past but no longer fit in your life. Write each of these on sticky note and attach to an empty file box and start sorting. The contents of the Easy Listening box can be donated or tossed and the contents of the Hip Hop box stay. Take another run at the Country box contents and see if there is anything that really does belong in the Easy Listening box.

Finally, instead of sorting every item into the three categories, simply focus on “love and let go”. Help your child alternate between the two categories by picking out five {the number doesn’t really matter just pick a number between 1 and ten and stick with it} toys they love and five they can let go of. Then, five more they love and five more to let go of. Try not to spend too much time hemming and hawing. If you/they are hesitating, skip it and find something that fits in the love or let go categories.

The reality of letting go is that sometimes you have to approach it in phases over time. Yes, it takes longer but letting go when you’re ready is an important part of the process, in my opinion. So be tough but patient with yourself {or your spouse or child} when it comes to letting go.

Most people have at least one area of their life where they are reluctant to let go. I confess: mine is clothing. I still have suits and shoes from my days working as a software implementation consultant that I know need to go but I haven’t done the work yet {yes, we’ll come back to that on another day}. What’s your soft spot? Please share in the comments.

What Are You Grateful For, Turkey?

6 Nov

TurkeyWell, it’s November already {Be Thankful Month} and since Thanksgiving (and Hanukkah) are at the very end of the month, that means that the New Year will be here before you know it.

I have spent the last two months either traveling or having visitors every week. It has been really wonderful to spend time with lots of different family members and friends but also quite exhausting. It was a welcome distraction from the change of seasons that always brings some sadness for me. And, it all started off with a big milestone birthday for me that I was not looking forward to. In October, I also decided at the last minute to participate in The Nester’s 31 Day Writing Challenge…and I completed it. In 31 days. {You can check it out here, if you’d like.} It wasn’t perfect but I got it done and I’m proud of myself for completing the challenge. I’m also looking forward to improving on that experience.

All that to say I am so grateful for the unplanned distractions this month. I stopped being sad about the seasons changing and being another decade older and enjoyed the things that are important to me, like spending time with family and friends. It has also reminded me that what we give attention to grows.

So, in this month for being thankful, what are you giving your attention to? The stress and overwhelm of the holidays or the reason for the season? I’d love to know: what are you most grateful for right now?

Simplify For The Holidays

1 Nov

Wow! Can you believe it’s November already? That means less than 8 weeks until Christmas…and less than 4 weeks until “Thanksgivukkah”. I look forward to sharing meals and holiday traditions with family this time of year. The thing I don’t look forward to is the stress. So, it got me thinking about ways to simplify the holiday season. Think “less is more”.

Commit to less- You don’t have to say yes to everything you’ve been asked to do, especially if the only reason you say yes is because you always have. Time to make new traditions.

Spend less- Instead of buying for everyone on your list and getting swept up in the commercialism of the season, consider holding “Secret Santa” or “White Elephant” gift exchanges. You can set a spending limit and everyone can still have fun both giving and receiving.

Eat less (junk)- It’s still feasible to indulge in some of your favorite treats without making each and every meal of the holiday season a gluttonous feast. Drink lots of water, eat your veggies and indulge in smaller portions.

Sleep more- Ok, not necessarily more but make sure you don’t sacrifice your sleep. You’ll make better decisions and feel less stressed when you’ve had enough sleep.

Spend more time- with loved ones, that is. And less time worrying about appearances and making everything perfect.

Be more present- No, I didn’t say “more presents”. Instead of doing the same old thing on auto-pilot, considering creating some new traditions that encourage you and yours to share and laugh more.

Be more with less.

Organizing Solution for Kids Activities and Gear

31 Oct

Does it seem that you are always running out the door to soccer when your child discovers s/he has no idea where his/her cleats are? Or you get to dance class only to discover you have cleats instead of dance shoes?

Create sports or activity packs for each child and activity. Use different colored/types of duffle bags or backpacks for equipment for sports or other activities. For example, if your daughter participates in dance lessons and soccer, designate one bag for cleats, shin guards, extra practice uniform, etc. and the other for dance shoes, tights and leotards. If your son has piano and flag football, find a tote for music books and a duffel for cleats, uniform and headgear.

Have your kids (or help them) clean out each bag immediately after the activity. Place cleats, shin guards and other gear/equipment right back in the bag right away, toss the trash and bring uniforms, etc. right to the laundry room. As attire is laundered, place it right in the designated bag. If you’d like to go the extra mile, pin or place a checklist for what goes in each bag.

Activity packs will make life easier when it’s time to run out the door and will eliminate or minimize missing or lost equipment if they have a home and are not constantly being shifted around.

How Do I Get My Spouse Organized?

30 Oct

I heard this question quite often when I was working in clients homes. I’d like to preface my response by saying that I am not a counselor, therapist, or psychologist nor do I play one on TV. Roger? Now that we have that out of the way…My answer is “well, that depends”. What does it depend on? It depends on what your intention is. If your question really is “how can I impose my level of organization on my spouse?” My short answer is that you can try, but it probably won’t end well…for either of you.

If your wording would be more along the lines of “how can I get my spouse to help out more and get involved in organizing around the house?”

My answer would be:
I highly recommend that you sit down with your spouse and discuss how their current attitude/behavior around organizing makes you feel, what it means to you to have your spouse’s help and how you might work together to modify systems, expectations, and have every family member contribute to make things run smoothly.

If you’re having ongoing difficulty, you may want to try enlisting a professional. A professional organizer to help find joint solutions for two consenting parties or a therapist to help address relationship issues, whichever feels more comfortable to you. It can be valuable to have a neutral third-party help iron out the kinks and find common ground. IMO this never works when one party feels they are right and simply trying to get the other to see it their way.

Finally, consider how you might be able to adjust your organizing systems or rules to meet somewhere in the middle. Focus on making it as fail-proof as possible. If wet towels are lining the floor instead of being hung on the towel rod, consider hooks as an option (and have ribbon loops sewn on to make it even easier). If t-shirts are being pulled out of neatly folded piles, try folding in half again and file instead of piling. Trash ending up on the top of the dresser? Place a small wastebasket next to the dresser. Obviously, placing ten laundry baskets in one room is unreasonable but if dirty clothing isn’t making it into the laundry hamper in the closet, consider adding one or relocating it closer to the point of removal. Just some food for thought…

I’d love to hear any ideas you’ve implemented for making organizing easier for your spouse. Or, if you have specific questions on how to adjust a task/organizing system, please leave a comment below.

Baby Steps for Tackling Paper Clutter

29 Oct

When I met my husband, he always used the term “baby steps” and we happen to agree that baby steps are a better route to success than a complete revamp of your current methods. Overwhelmingly, paper is at the top of the list of struggles for many moms so I wanted to share a few ‘baby steps’ to help you get started on tackling your paper clutter:

1. Tackle the mail as soon as you bring it into the house. This means getting rid of the outer envelopes and inserts that come with bills, any obvious junk mail and sort/file the rest into action and reference categories. Check back for a future post on eliminating junk mail when I go into more details on the Eliminate step.

2. Set up a ‘bill paying’ center if you prefer to do so via paper. Designate an area/container to place your bills once you have opened them. It may also help to designate a bill paying day or days…find something that works for you. If you feel you only need to pay bills once a month, choose a day and try to stick to it. You may feel that every 2 weeks works better for you. Try asking your spouse/significant other to help you remember your designated bill paying day (but only if you feel that would help you remember- not cause you to be resentful). Better yet, consider online bill paying solutions and eliminate the paper altogether.

3. Be more selective about the paper you keep- Here are some questions you can ask yourself when dealing with the decision, remember it only helps you to keep it if you can retrieve it when you need it!

- Is it expired (or soon to be)?

- Can you reference the information quickly and easily elsewhere? Or more importantly, ARE YOU more likely to reference it elsewhere? It isn’t really necessary to file the paper if you are more likely to go online to search for the info.

- Can you condense the paper clutter? If you have collected a brochure or other literature, can you transfer the pertinent information (web address, name, phone #, etc.) to a small notepad dedicated to that purpose and throw out the remaining paper? I use a Circa journal-sized notebook that I carry in my purse, for small reminders, phone numbers and reference information (like window measurements, etc. I even tape swatches into my notebook so I have them when I am out shopping).

- Do you really need it? Be realistic and ask yourself – am I really going to read this article/magazine/catalog? If you decide to keep it, dedicate yourself to following through and then toss the item when you are done. (This will also help you determine if it is worth your time to keep those papers the next time.)

Of course, these are just some basic steps and there is much more to an effectively organizing your paper and setting up a paper management system. But it’s a start…

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