Efficient Spaces Blog

The not Sexy (but Savvy) secret to productivity

Q: When an organizer procrastinates, what will she be doing?

A: Organizing her desk or her closet.

We are one month into the new year. You are still feeling the energy to make changes in your office, but maybe not quite sure how to start. I am here to help!

The Urge to Purge

A project I love to do at the beginning of the year: cleaning out my office files to start fresh for the new year. My friend Susan McKenzie, who is a feng-shui designer, tells me when you make room for new clients they will come. You have to allow some space in your life for new opportunities.

I know it’s not sexy, but we all need to do it: the file purge. I have been feeling the urge to purge these last few weeks. It’s true that when files move freely in the drawer, it is much more likely that I will file my own paper. I know it works with clients too; they always want to use their new and improved file system after we have set it up. It gives me great satisfaction to know I’ve helped yet another person to be organized and find what they need quickly.

Sit back and envision a filing system where your files move freely and easily, you can see each file tab with the topic or category, and easily slide papers into their proper place? Even better, when you need information FAST about that client you spoke with last week, instead of frantically searching through the papers or notebooks or Post-its cluttering your desk, you will know exactly where it is and be able to quickly review the conversation. Talk about reducing stress!

How to get from where you are today to that level of organization, though? There’s no secret formula. And I don’t have a magic wand to whisk away the clutter. Just elbow grease!

Like I said, not sexy, but purging does wonders for any surface, any drawer, any home or office.

From Piles to Files

cluttered work desk

A client’s cluttered desk

Now, when I work with a client I think of myself as a clutter counselor. I am coaching each person to decide what to do with their clutter. Training him/her on what to do with each piece of paper. Sometimes it is slow going at first, but after a little bit they get to the point when they see, say, an insurance document similar to one we’ve come across before, they know if they should trash it or file it. Of course if there is any doubt, I am there to guide them. Along the way, we are constantly setting up new files.

A recent client Southern Oregon needed some help with her home office. Her life was so busy, she did not have the time to set up systems for the different businesses she and her husband own.  She did have some great files set up, but an unskilled assistant filed things in weird places. So ‘Abby’ could not find them. Once we set up systems to keep her desk free of clutter, and went through her files, she breathed a sigh of relief. Now she knows that everything is within reach, and that she will find what she needs quickly and easily.

So as a clutter counselor, here is some free advice: a large percentage of papers you file never get referenced again. Think hard about whether you will ever look at that information again.

Purging

Ask yourself these questions:

Organized office with standing files

Same client’s desk!

  1. Do I use this?
  2. Will I ever need this information again?
  3. If so, is there somewhere else I can get it?
  4. Will I remember where it is; does it fit in the category it is filed under?

This brings me to what I call file laziness. Instead of creating a new file for a new kind of information, you talk yourself into believing you will remember you filed your Notes on a new client inside the receipts file. You may think ‘I’ll just put it here for now; it’s only a couple pieces of paper. It’s not worth creating a new file. I’ll remember I put it here!’ If any rationalization is going on inside your head as you file it, stop right away, pull out a new hanging file, label it.

To prevent file laziness, I keep a hanging file in the very front of my most-used drawer, with plastic tabs and white file labels inside. New hanging files sit just behind it. This makes it easy. Then I am bound to use these when I need a new category or add a new client. You see, since I made it super easy for myself, I will create that new file when I need it instead of misfiling something or combining it with info it has no business being combined with.

So start the year off right with purging your files! You can pace yourself and just take 4 files a day or even 1 a day to go through. It will be worth it! You’ll be able to see labels clearly, file and retrieve your documents easily! Opening your file drawer will give you satisfaction instead of dread.

And if you need help, just call on me!

Please let me know if this post helped you! Click on this link to my FB page: http://www.facebook.com/OrganizingAttics2Basements/?pnref=lhc

Link to designer Susan McKenzie’s website: http://suemac2.houzz.com/

Workshop: Get Back in the Game

Create your Life Vision  & Fitness Plan for 2017

January is here, and it’s time to get back in the game!

Date:      Wednesday, January 18 from noon to 2 p.m.

Location: True Juice, 124 NW ‘D’ Street, Grants Pass. Bring lunch or order one here.

Cost:       $20 for this AMAZING  2-hour workshop! 2 for 1 offer: bring a friend and each get both workshops for $10! If you come solo and want just one workshop, it’s $10.

Speakers: (at 1 pm) Jenny Morin, Organizer & Coach; (at Noon) Doranne Long, Physical Therapist.

  • Get clear on your burning desire & VISION for 2017
  • Learn 5 steps to SUCCEED with your goals
  • Get INSPIRED for the year & start your vision board                                                      
  •  Get a copy of  Get Organized Quick! Price: $7.99

 

 

          

 

 

Doranne Long

From Doranne:

  • Use it, don’t lose it
  • Less pain, more FUN!
  • Better physical, emotional, mental and spiritual HEALTH

       

Get a copy of  Your Body Book!    Price: $ 16.99Your body book

 

 

Magical Mornings

make mornings magical and easy“Have a magical morning!”  is what we heard every day when we entered Disneyworld. Today, I have some tips to make mornings flow.

How can you avoid the mad dash that happens every day as you get the kids or yourself out the door? It’s stressful most days, and it feels rushed and frantic.

We all know the basics, eat a good breakfast, pick out an outfit, get dressed, and, if you get up early enough, exercise.

What about the other stuff? How can you prepare yourself for the day and get the kids, yourself and your spouse out the door without the mad morning scramble?

Tips for Magical Mornings

  1. This really helps . . . Get up before the rest of your family, even just 15 minutes. I know, I know. It doesn’t sound inviting, especially if you are tired right now. Trust me; it is worth it.
  2. Take time to pray or meditate.
  3. Do some stretches while listening to scripture or an inspirational book.
  4. Get showered if possible and DEFINITELY do get dressed for your first activity before you wake up kids—this really helps. As one of my clients said, when her kids were young, she would get dressed from her head to her socks before she woke her children up, and it really helped her feel put-together.–it’s ok to wear your slippers! Also, it reinforces the habit of taking care of you before taking care of others.
  5. Make a quick plan for the day: what’s for dinner, what’s your #1 priority for the day? Take out whatever needs to thaw for dinner. For quick and easy meal ideas: find it here.  http://www.efficientspacesco.com/2016/07/cool-easy-summer-salads/Link to my Pinterest board Easy dinners: http://www.pinterest.com/jennyrossomorin/easy-dinners/
  6. Now you are centered and ready to wake up your spouse and/or children and greet them with kisses and smiles.
  7. And last of all, go to bed earlier. Allow yourself at least 7 hours to sleep and you will awake refreshed and ready for the day tomorrow.

Now go put in a load of laundry. Yay!   Don’t forget to plan when to take it out too. Start a habit for when to transfer the clothes to the dryer… or you’re gonna have to re-wash it tomorrow.

If you do forget and need to rewash, I’ve done some research and experimenting. The best way to get the in-the-washer-too-long smell out is by putting a half cup of baking soda directly on the clothes, then rewash. Detergent not necessary.

And don’t beat yourself up if you cannot manage to wake up earlier one morning.  The routine here is the ideal. If you only have 15 minutes to get yourself ready on any given day, you’ve got to prioritize and pick the activities that are most rejuvenating for you in the morning. ALWAYS do #4, though. It will make you feel better, more put-together.

Bonus: Tips for Getting kids’ stuff ready the night before

  • Make sure homework is done
  • Backpacks loaded with homework, lunch money, permission slips, etc.
  • If your child tends to dawdle over getting dressed, have them pick out an outfit in evening. Better yet, have them pick out 5 outfits on Sunday!

Good Questions to ask kids before they go to school:

Do you have everything? Lunch money? Time they need to be picked up? Who’s picking them up? You, a spouse, or an older sibling?

What activities do they have in the afternoon/evening: remind them and yourself.

I promise, when you follow these tips, most of your mornings will be calm, less stressful, and yes, even MAGICAL!

 

 

Easy switch to Fall clothes for kids’ rooms

Make purging Quick for kids

Today, I got frustrated with my 11-year old’s room. Jacob is a typical boy, with lots of different interests. Sports, video games, TV, rocks, toys. Clothes are not one of his interests. As long as he has a t-shirt to wear and some shorts (clean or not) he is good to go.  So every day before school I inspect his clothing to make sure he doesn’t shame the family by wearing a T-shirt with ketchup stains on it to school.

Yesterday, I found a bag of Kyle’s jeans (he’s 16 now) that I had saved for Jacob, which were in the top of my girls’ closet. (The boys had been in the room the girls now use, so I must have just left them there when we made the switcheroo.)

Organized kids' room

With the purged clothes in the white trash bag, Jacob’s room looks great.

Messy kids room

Mid-project with all the clothes on the floor looks messy.

That is what inspired me to get Jacob’s room in shape. I had him do a “fashion show” to try on the jeans and show me which ones fit.  I sat in the hallway  and folded laundry because I really dislike waiting time and the laundry always needs to be folded. (It never ends, does it?)

Turns out, only two pairs of the jeans fit him, so we put the ones that didn’t fit in a pile. On his own, he took the long pants that were too small out of his drawer and added them to the pile, which I had placed outside his doorway. That is one of the tricks I use when organizing: Get the stuff as close to its destination as possible. If it isn’t going to end up in the room, put it outside the doorway in a box, bag or pile. Then, as soon as you’re done sorting, take it and put it in a designated “giveaway” zone in the garage or, even better, in the trunk of your car.

Next time you pass a thrift store, take 5 minutes and donate it. It’s a great feeling for me because I like to know my things will get used by someone who may desperately need them. And if you’re into recycling, this is the ULTIMATE recycling!

Next, I moved to the shirt drawer. By this time, he was asking to go play a video game with Dad. I told him once we went through his shirts he could. So he speedily put the shirts that were too small in the growing pile. Some of them were designated “PJ” shirts because they are ratty but he still loves them. Then I looked at the shirts (because he frequently puts things away when they need to go into the wash) and sorted the dirty ones into a laundry basket. (I still have not learned how to get him in the habit of putting dirty clothes into the laundry bins, which are literally 6 feet from his bedroom door.)

As I sorted, I put the long-sleeved T’s in a separate pile, because I’d decided to place them in a basket in his closet since he’s not wearing them yet. That seemed to work well. We put his painting/work clothes in another basket there.

So how long did it take us? 30 minutes.

The other drawers didn’t need attention because they are not overflowing, so I moved to the laundry, where I put stain stuff on all the shirts. In some cases, I needed to use Lestoil or Kiss off on the grease stains. Lestoil is for any oily stain, but it smells really bad. Kiss off comes in a stick, and is so powerful it can remove oil paint. (But you can’t leave it on the clothes more than 24 hours or it will bleach out the stain and the fabric color.)

So, once the laundry was started, I sat down and ate a homemade chocolate chip cookie.  It’s been a good day already.

Clothes switcheroo tips:

  1. Have the child try on the clothes that may be too small.
  2. Make it fun (play music, give small treats) or give them a reward to look forward to when you finish.
  3. Put any stained or ripped clothing in a giveaway bag or box.
  4. Separate dirty clothes into a laundry basket.
  5. As kids grow, their clothes get bigger. If they need more room than the drawers or closet provides, add a basket or a set of opaque plastic drawers to the room. Utilize under-bed space using an under-bed box for off-season clothes.
  6. Put the remaining clothes, the “keepers,” in drawers.
  7. Take your giveaway container to the garage or car trunk and drop it off at a thrift store this week.

Another option for donating: See if your community has a resource which  provides free clothing to needy families. In Grants Pass, we have the Campus Closet, which gives clothes to kids age 5 to 18. It has moved locations from North Middle School to:  The United Community Action Network building: 125 Manzanita Ave. Check the district 7 website for hours. http://www.grantspass.k12.or.us/Page/2873

They are open selected Wednesdays from 4 to 7. Campus closet Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Campus-Closet-121572287883293/

See my Pinterest page for organizing toys http://www.pinterest.com/jennyrossomorin/organized-kids-toys/

Ideas for organizing closets: http://www.pinterest.com/jennyrossomorin/organizing-your-closet/

Save money & time grocery shopping

Get in, get done & get out . . . with 5 cool and EASY meals!

What do you do when you are out of milk and it’s only Wednesday? Don’t panic!  A midweek shopping trip doesn’t need to take long, and you can quickly pick up enough for several meals by following this speed-shopping guide. Follow my shopping list to make five EASY weekday dinners too!

Sticking to your list saves you money!

Sticking to your list saves you money!

Here’s a tip you already know but don’t always DO:

  1. Make a list before you go into the store. It’s best to make list at home when you can check inventory. See how many boxes of pasta and cans of soup you have, and remember the milk! There is a nifty app that helps you keep track of your food inventory; it’s called Out of Milk. How cool is that!?!

“No matter how good your memory is, write a grocery list. Not only will it make sure you don’t forget things you need, it’ll more importantly deter you from buying the things you don’t need.”                   ~20 Simple Ways to Save Money on Groceries, Huffington Post.com

Did you know that people who shop with a list spend less than those who skip the list? That extra time in the store will cost you, literally.  Wandering down every aisle leads to impulse buying.

So . . . shopping with a list will save you money! And we all like to save money, yes?

More MONEY & TIME-SAVING SHOPPING TIPS:

  1. Don’t go to the store hungry. Big mistake! You will spend more if you are hungry. It would be better to buy a snack at the grocery store, eat it and then shop.
  2. Skirt around the edge of the store if you are only after the staples. You’ll be tempted by all the processed foods if you barrel down the center aisle.
  3. Set a timer for yourself to be at the checkout—this helps me focus instead of getting distracted in the produce or snack section; we all have our weaknesses!
  4. Be strong; stick to your list. Limit yourself to, say, 4 impulse buys.
  5. Make sure your list is compiled in order of the store layout. My list is different when I shop at Winco vs. Fred Meyer, for example.

“The more aisles you walk down, the more likely you are to add things to your shopping basket that you hadn’t initially intended to buy. Shoppers who decreased the number of aisles they visited checked out with only half their items being unplanned purchases vs. 68% of items for those who visited most or all aisles in a shop, according to a Marketing Science Institute study.”                                                                                           ~ 29 Ways to Save Hundreds on Groceries, Time.com

  1. Need one? Buy two (just in case). This saves you extra trips to the store, and ends up saving you money. How? Because most of us aren’t disciplined enough to come out of the grocery store with just a couple items—myself included!

Cool & EASY summertime dinner ideas:

Plan five dinners and shop for the ingredients. My choices for a hot, sticky summer week are some easy family favorites.  Many of these are cool meals, just right for sizzling summer temps. Chicken pasta salad (one of my kids’ favorites), Hawaiian haystacks, Taco salad, Potato Pizza and BLT salad.

Shop first in the produce and bakery sections. Pick up a pound of seedless grapes, 3 large heads of Romaine lettuce, 6 tomatoes, 8 oz. cherry tomatoes, 5-10 lb. baking potatoes (pre-bagged is cheaper), and a bag of carrots. Add two baguettes to serve as sides for Taco salad and Chicken Pasta salad.

Next, hop over to the canned goods and dressing aisles. For Hawaiian haystacks, get pineapple chunks and canned chicken.  For Taco salad, get some kidney beans. Potato pizza needs tomato sauce, and Chicken Pasta salad uses ranch dressing—a lot of it!

Shop the meat and cheese coolers. Get a Rotisserie chicken for Chicken Pasta salad, ground beef (or ground turkey) for Taco salad, bacon and mozzarella cheese for Potato pizzas, 2 lbs. chicken breasts for Hawaiian Haystacks, and more bacon for the BLT salad. I firmly believe you can never have too much bacon! Yum.

Also, grab Doritos, taco seasoning, Rotini noodles, slivered almonds, and rice if you don’t have it on hand.

And don’t forget the ice cream!

Find the complete recipes for these five yummy, easy dinners here: http://www.efficientspacesco.com/2016/07/cool-easy-summer-salads/

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Resources:

Grocery store hacks, Real Simple, Jan. 2015, 110.

http://time.com/money/3481381/save-on-groceries/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/18/money-saving-tips_n_1537035.html

 

Cool & Easy summer salads

Easy – peasey summer meals

Ahh, summer. When the thermometer goes sky high, my desire to cook definitely hits a low.  So I’ve found several easy go-to recipes for the sizzling summer temps. This recipe, Chicken Pasta salad, is one of my favorites. My Mom found this recipe back in the 80’s. My whole family loves it, and it’s easy enough that a 10-year-old can make it! (With supervision, of course.)

Chicken Pasta Salad--one of my summer staples

Chicken Pasta Salad–one of my summer staples.

Chicken Pasta Salad:

Spiral Rotini pasta

red seedless grapes, halved

1 rotisserie chicken

slivered almonds

Ranch dressing

grated cheese (optional)

Directions: In the morning, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss a bit of ranch dressing with pasta to keep it from sticking. Wash grapes and cut in half. Combine with the Rotini. Debone the rotisserie chicken, and toss meat in with the salad. Cover and refrigerate until dinner.

Serving suggestion: Serve with carrot sticks, cucumber slices and/or cherry tomatoes for a healthy meal. Serves 6.

Recipe 2: Taco Salad

Yummy and easy taco salad!

A great salad for hot days, this one takes a run-of-the-mill green salad and adds a twist! Just jazz it up with some ground meat or ground turkey if you are eating light, add a bag of Doritos, and the kids will love it. Trust me, mine do!

Ingredients:

1 head Romaine lettuce

3 tomatoes

1 can kidney beans

cucumbers

Doritos or purple tortilla chips

Spanish onions (optional)

ground meat or ground turkey, browned

taco seasoning

Directions: Cook ground meat, adding taco seasoning to taste.  If using ground turkey, cook, adding Worcestershire sauce and taco seasoning to get a fuller taste. Drain fat from cooked meat and refrigerate.

15 minutes before dinner, cut or tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces, chunk up tomatoes, peel and slice cucumbers, drain and rinse kidney beans, chop onions, and toss in a large bowl. Stir in cooled meat and top with purple tortilla chips or Doritos (or serve Doritos on the side so they don’t get soggy). Serves 6.

Recipe 3: Hawaiian Haystacks  

Hawaiian haystacks are so easy and fun to make!

Hawaiian haystacks are so easy and fun to make!

2 c. white or brown rice

2 lbs. chicken breasts, cooked, cooled and cut in chunks

garlic powder

1 can pineapple chunks

Thousand Island dressing

cherry tomatoes

chow mein noodles

cilantro sprigs

other toppings as desired

Directions: In the morning (while it’s cooler), cook rice and refrigerate it. Sprinkle chicken with garlic powder and cook it in the oven for 35-45 minutes at 350 F. At dinnertime, heat up rice in a microwave oven and serve with other toppings. Serves 6.

Recipe 4: Caribbean Chicken Salad 

6 c. Romaine lettuce, shredded                                               DSCN9355

3 c. cooked chicken breast, cut into cubes

(or shredded rotisserie chicken)

1 c. Monterrey Jack cheese chunks

15 oz. can black beans, drained

2 mangoes, peeled, cored and cut in chunks

1 c. chopped, seeded tomato

1 cucumber (optional)

3/4 c. shredded cheddar

1/2 c. green onion (optional)

1/2 to 3/4 c. cashews

Dressing Ingredients:

1 6 oz. piña colada yogurt

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tsp. Caribbean jerk seasoning

Directions: Layer ingredients in order listed except cashews. Put dressing on top with cashews sprinkled over all. Cashews will get soggy if left in salad overnight. Serves 6.

Recipe 5: BLT Chicken Salad

1 cucumber

BLT salad is a cool easy dinner on hot summer nights!

2 heads romaine lettuce

Spinach

2 cooked chicken breasts

2 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges

8 to 12 slices bacon, cooked

Dressing:   1/2 cup mayo or miracle whip

1 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

Directions: Shred half of the cucumber using a fork, set aside. Slice remainder of cucumber. Combine cuke slices with other salad ingredients. To make dressing, use shredded cuke mixed with other ingredients. If making ahead of time, leave tomatoes in a separate bowl so the acid won’t soften the other ingredients and place bacon in a container in the fridge as well, or it will get soggy.

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Photo credits: Chicken Pasta Salad: Jenny Morin. Taco Salad: myorganizedchaos.com.  Hawaiian Haystacks: freeeatsfood.com

Secrets to an Organized Closet

MG_2486
Does your closet scare you? How long does it take you to find what you are looking for? Are your clothes crammed in tight or is there space between your hangers?
How would I organize my closet, as a professional organizer? Well, I just did my closet last week, so I’ll share my secrets with you.
First, a little advice. These are the 2 magic questions to ask yourself as you go through, or purge, your closet.

Do I use it?
Do I love it?

Anything else needs to go in one of the discard piles.
Materials needed: 1 black trash bag and a white bag, Post-its or paper, a Sharpie, a labeler or plain-old Scotch tape.
Once you gather the materials, you are ready to get started! Here are the steps:

One:  Decide where you will donate or sell the clothes you discard. I like to give clothing to my favorite thrift store. Think about a women’s crisis center, a community closet or a resale shop close by. Now get 2 different colored trash bags, or even boxes, a sharpie, and some Post-its.

TWO: Take everything from one section of your closet—like all of your blouses–and pile them in a larger space like the bed or the bedroom floor. This gives you space to move and think. I’m a bit claustrophobic, so I prefer the larger room to work in.

THREE: Use the Post-its or some notebook paper to make categories where you will pile clothes.
Categories: Keep * Try on* Donate * Sell * Repair* Trash

FOUR: Sort your clothes by taking each item and making a quick decision about which pile it goes in. Do not think about it too much. Remember to ask yourself the use it/ love it questions if you get stuck.
One of my early clients, about 7 years ago, had an inordinate number of bras. This was inexplicable to me. She had between 20 and 30 bras. They took up an entire drawer in her bureau! I asked her to pick a reasonable number of bras, and then we whittled them down to that number. Then they only took up half of a drawer.

FIVE: Get together with a trusted friend, sister or daughter and give them a fashion show of the things you aren’t sure flatter you. If it doesn’t fit now, release it.
For example, don’t keep boxes full of the size 8 clothes you plan to fit into “someday;” by the time you fit into them they will be out of style and you will want to celebrate by getting new clothes.
Saying goodbye is so hard to do! I have a few skirts I need to take in, which I’ve been meaning to do for about 6 months. I wore them a lot when they fit me, so it’s worth it. I decided to put a Post-it with an expiration date on the hanger. If I don’t alter the skirts by Thanksgiving this year, I have to get rid of them.

SIX: Bag up or box the Give, Sell and Trash clothes. Use black bags for trash and label white bags ‘Donate’ and ‘Sell’ with a Sharpie. Put the ‘Donate’ and ‘Sell’ bags in your vehicle immediately.

SEVEN: Repeat with a section of your closet every day or every weekend until you’ve finished!

EIGHT: Once the whole closet is purged of clothing you don’t use or love, organize it. Divide up pants, blouses, T-shirts, dresses, bags, PJ’s, etc. into categories. If you think you have way too much of a type of item, like blouses, you need to do another purge. A good rule of thumb is 3x more tops than pants. Now place the clothing in their zones.

Some of the zones I use: workout, casual, professional, dresses, purses/bags, travel
Of course, we are all different. You may need to add or take away a zone depending on your activities.

NINE: Enjoy your handiwork; you just accomplished a major organizing project! Take a picture of your awesome, organized closet and post it on FB or Pinterest, and please share it with me too!
www.facebook.com/OrganizingAttics2Basements/?pnref=lhc
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Related links: https://www.pinterest.com/jennyrossomorin/organizing-your-closet/
Real Simple June 2016 article: Solutions for every closet.
Real Simple January 2015 “Clothes” purging tips p. 101.

Deal with Desk clutter for good!

 

AplandsBeforeDo you clear off your desk only to find paper clutter piling up within a few days?

How much does handling invasive paper clutter cost you every week, every month, every year? How much time does your office spend looking at, filing, piling, looking at it again, re-piling, and finally filing it or throwing it away?

  1. Refuse paper—Don’t bring it in

The first step to managing your clutter is preventing paper from coming into your home or office. Yes, refuse to let it come in. Don’t take papers, flyers, subscriptions, etc., unless you have something further to do with it. Ask yourself: is there an action linked to this paper?  If the answer is no, then let it go, let it go!

  1. Take time to purge

This is the most important way to prevent paper clutter.  Be ruthless! Decide on a time each day or at least once per week to purge unnecessary  paper from your desk.  What can you purge?  Anything you’ve delegated to another person, completed, spilled coffee on, decided on, or is outdated information, like old agendas, et cetera. **

  1. Rip open mail daily

This habit will help you stay on top of the mail, which is one of the main paper clutter-makers.  And while you open the mail, make sure you do it over the trash can or recycling container.  Then you just let the junk mail slip down into the disposal.

I recently worked for a client, a well-respected business owner, who had 2 years of mail piled up in boxes.  When we finally ripped through that mail and disposed of it, he heaved a sigh of relief.

  1. Do those 2 minute tasks now

I credit this tip to David Allen’s brilliance.  It makes so much sense everyone should be doing it.  Instead of putting that paper on a pile or putting that action on your to-do list, do it now!  Sort through the papers on your desk (or your emails) and do everything that requires 2 minutes or less.  I promise you will feel like you accomplished something, and the paper won’t weigh you down any more.

Office desk after

  1. Transfer the action (to calendar or to-do list)

To be more effective, take whatever action the paper represents and transfer it to your to-do list or calendar.  You kept your PTA agenda because you want  the information the principal shared about the new testing for next year.  Are you ever going to look at it again?  Or did you use the exercise of writing as an exercise to help you remember the information? (As many do.)

Here’s what I do:  any information I want for later, I type into my tablet or phone in a nifty Note app while I am in the meeting.  Then I email it to myself.  The information is not lost, and doesn’t end up cluttering your desk.  Sweet solution!

  1. Paper is not a reminder

Say you kept the agenda from last week’s staff meeting to remind you to call the head of HR for a link to a training she talked about.  Why not just email or call her right now, or write it down so you won’t forget, then toss the paper?

  1. Refuse to pile up magazines, newspapers

Just like you did with mail, flyers, and other paper, refuse to keep stacks of magazines to “read later.” This is a trap.  If you have trouble with this, discipline yourself to recycle last month’s magazine when this month’s arrives.  If you have more than 2 magazines unread, stop your subscription or put it on hold.  Especially if you get a sinking feeling when you add a new magazine to the pile of older issues.  If getting the magazine still gives you joy, that’s fine.  Just see step 8 for options about information you want to keep.

  1.  Scan articles and other information to read later

Instead of keeping an entire magazine, newspaper or other publication, take 2 minutes to scan the article that interests you most, then toss the original.  Or, if you don’t have a scanner, cut the article out and create a file– “Real Simple articles,” for example.

I actually have a file of Real Simple articles because I love the practical solutions and timely topics they present in the magazine. So it’s OK to keep some information– in reasonable amounts.

You know, I’ve been doing this a long time, and these steps really work.  Which tip is the most helpful to you?  I’d love to hear from you!

Contact Jenny: jennym@efficientspacesco.com

**Be sure to record next actions and tasks you’ve delegated on appropriate lists… For more on this, read David Allen’s book Getting things Done.

NatalieOfficeAfter

 

What to do with all the Toys?

Toys. . .

So your kids are in school and you walk past the toyroom or their bedroom.  Ugh! You think: ‘I can hardly see the floor in there!  Every time I try to organize it, it lasts for a week or so, then it’s back to this mess!  What can I do about the toys?’  Toy mess in child's room

Well, do you remember the toys you had growing up?  You probably were able to keep them orderly. Think back.  Just how many toys did you have growing up?  I’ll guarantee it’s nowhere near the volume our children have today.  Our kids are practically drowning in toys.  We have whole rooms dedicated to the overflowing bins of fast-food giveaways, stuff from grandparents, birthday parties, Christmas, et cetera.  I feel that kids today are overwhelmed by the amount of toys they have, yes, even burdened by them.  It’s definitely an overwhelming task for a child to clean up all those toys!

Now don’t get me wrong—I don’t have anything against toys.  I just think we have too many of them.  It is time to discard the toys children don’t play with or have outgrown.  So, how do you do it?

  1. When is the best time to purge toys? Short answer: When the kids are gone.

Long answer:  Purging toys when kids are home is pointless. You must tackle it while they are away.  Most children get attached to their toys even if they don’t play with them any more, (they are like us, holding on to clothes we never wear!) and they will promise to play with them.  Don’t believe it!!!

  1. What if something is valuable or has sentimental value?

Real-life example:  My friend has a train table her husband made. She asked me if she should get rid of it, stating that her son never plays with it.  I advised her to remove it from the room and hide it for a few days to see what happens.  See what her son’s reaction is and decide whether to reinstate it.  Since our talk, I thought: Why not talk to your son about selling the train table and then buying some toy or sports equipment he has been wanting?

  1. Where do I take used toys? Have a favorite thrift store? Donate them there. It’s a good idea to call first to save yourself a wasted trip or a runaround trying to find a thrift store that has room.  Locally, The Mission is my favorite, followed by Salvation Army and Goodwill.  Don’t forget the preschool or nursery nearby, which is likely to accept toys.  It’s a good idea to call first.
  2. Where do I donate used story books? That depends.  Most towns have used bookstores that sell books on consignment or will buy them outright.  You could make it fun and use the proceeds for an ice cream cone together or a trip to the Pharmacy (A Grant’s Pass icon;
    Book donation n Tizzard toy

    Tizzard shows off this stack of books my son donated to Highland Elementary school.

    old-fashioned soda-jerk counter and all).  Another good way is to donate them for a good cause.  Local schools have annual white elephant sales and they LOVE to receive children’s books.  You are doing 2 good turns: helping the school raise funds and getting a book into the hands of a child who will love it.

  3. Will my child be emotionally scarred if I get rid of toys while she is gone? No, 8 out of 10 dentists agree that letting go of toys is part of growing up. Seriously, folks.  I’m not saying get rid of their cherished items, like the panda bear that has been their lovey since age 2, or the quilt their grandma made them.  Store those precious mementos in a safe, dry place like a cedar chest, a labeled cardboard box, or a clear plastic tote.  I keep one box of baby clothes and special toys for each of my children, which I will give to them (with their other belongings) when they are settled.
  4. How do I organize the toys once I’ve purged? Short answer:  By category.

Long answer:  See the picture I’ve included.  Some categories for starters:  Legos, wooden toys, cars and other wheeled toys, people, balls.  One great tip for even small children to put away their own toys, take a picture of the kind of toys that belong in each bin as an easy label. Or, just draw a simple picture and tape them to each bin. It worked for my children!organized toys

  1. Can I get tax credit for my donations? Yes!

Whenever you donate to a thrift store or a school, library, etc, be sure to record it.  The number of books, and the approximate value are helpful.  Thrift stores will give you a receipt with your name on it, but they don’t write even the number of bags/ boxes you donated.  Make a note RIGHT then on the slip with the number of bags you donated and the general contents like: Household items, books, toys, clothing, shoes . . . you get my drift.

Just make sure that the organization is legally a nonprofit, says accountant John Warekois.

“They have to be a qualified nonprofit organization; it’s good to get a letter from the organization saying they are a non-profit.”  He described a client of his who had claimed some donations as tax deductions, but the IRS denied the deductions because the organization was not registered as a nonprofit.  So be careful!

To recap:  purge your toys, use these tips, make the results fun for the kids by using the profit for something they desire or a special outing.  And claim your due from Uncle Sam!

Resources for You:    John Warekois, CPA, Medford.  http://www.oregontaxcpa.com/

Local bookstores:  Oregon Books, http://www.powells.com/sell-books-online will buy used books in good condition.  In Medford: Rogue Book Exchange: (541) 779-1326, Village Books, (541) 779-7576, HQ Books: (541) 779-2326

Grants Pass Thrift stores:  Gospel Rescue Mission: (541) 479-9748, St. Vincent DePaul:  (541) 476-5137, Goodwill:  (541) 479-6000.

Medford Thrift stores:  St. Vincent DePaul: (541) 772-3828, The Salvation Army: (541)773-7335, Refashion Consignment: (541) 772-2302, Goodwill: (541) 772-3300

Freecycle.org is a great place to give away items you don’t need to someone who wants them.  See article:  http://www.moneycrashers.com/freecycle-network-free-stuff/

Tax deductions knowhow:  http://www.moneycrashers.com/charitable-contributions-tax-deductions/

Valuation: www.goodwill.org/wpcontent/uploads/2010/12/Donation_Valuation_Guide.pdf

 

 

 

 

Why Plan?

Planning is a great tool for you to grow your business or your career.  Why is planning so important?  you may ask.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail – Ben Franklinplan, schedule, business woman

Let’s invert that statement:      Be sure to plan, and you will SUCCEED.

When you take time to plan, you ARE more in control of your life.  You know what you have coming, and you get noticed as a doer; someone who gets things done.

And planning doesn’t take long! 30 minutes is plenty of time.  So, plan for success!

For example:  When my husband Frank came back from a writing conference, he had so many ideas for marketing his next book that he was having trouble keeping it all straight, and he was stressed about it.  As I do with my time coaching clients, I suggested we sit down and brainstorm all the ideas he wanted to put into place and schedule them.

He said: “That helped me prioritize, categorize, define and lay out a game plan for the next 3 months, which is critical for a successful book launch.  Now I can focus on my work and not get distracted by unknowns.  I can work with more confidence.”  ~ Frank Morin, Author

  1. Planning gives you weekly time to think about your business. I take this time to think about at least one new thing I would like to do differently or more efficiently.
  2. By taking time to plan, your week is geared toward YOUR goals. This is a major difference between doers and followers. To gain traction in any position, you must set and achieve goals to improve your performance. You will rise to the top and get noticed as a person who gets things done.
  3. Planning gets you motivated for the week. What are you most excited about this week? What kudos are you looking forward to?  Do you have a time planned to get together with someone fascinating or talented?
  4. Good planning helps you anticipate complications, which means less time putting out fires.
  5. Planning causes focus on priorities and what’s important; less distracted by minor events or tasks. This is true at work AND at home. Want more free time? Plan. To finally make progress on your goal? Plan. Want to be truly able to focus on your family while home? Plan. Planning is the answer, my friends.
  6. Looking ahead to the week’s appointments helps avoid scheduling conflicts or double-booking. Have you allowed enough time for the meeting with your client Amy? How long did your last meeting last?  If you don’t plan properly, Amy’s meeting may spill over into another person’s appointment time, which may upset that next client.

When I don’t plan, things go haywire.  A few weeks ago, I was getting ready for a last-minute trip.  I hadn’t planned on Monday.  Big mistake. I almost missed my call with my business coach, which I’ve NEVER forgotten before.  And I was so distracted that day I missed a reminder text from my Aesthetician, so I missed my facial, and probably annoyed her.  I felt frazzled and definitely NOT together.  Not a good feeling, because I like to have my ducks in a row! 

  1. Improve performance:  Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.  ~ Gary Ryan Blair Proper planning makes you better prepared for meetings and client interactions. Tracking how long different clients take and how long it takes you in between to prepare for the next person/meeting will save anxiety.  I know a financial planner who always allows herself 30 minutes between each client to prepare for the next one; a practice that has worked well for her.  Also, you will be more able to focus completely on the client you are with when you are not worried about timing or lack of preparation
  1. Be flexible. Remember, plans change. Your priorities may change as the week goes on, or you may have to deal with an emergency.  Make it work for you!

Source:  www.moneyunder30.com