Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Keep the Lunch Box Close at Hand

We've just returned from a two week trip from Toronto, through Kingston and on to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, following the route of the Optimist Dinghy Fleet from CORK to their Canadian Championships. You would think our car would be the most organized in the lot given my credentials. Sadly, with boat gear, swim gear, overnight gear, a boat and a few extra boat pieces which we carried for another sailor, our van look liked a barely controled wilderness of gear.

We managed the obvious strategies: keep what you are using in the order you use it, take the time to repack the gear when stopped for several days to keep the order efficient, use laundry hampers for the wet (and salty) stuff to keep it open and airing.

By far though, the best strategy, was keeping two coolers: one for the lunch and one for the rest of the parishables. Each day we were on the road, we prepacked the lunch cooler with not only lunch, but a full complement of snacks to keep ourselves and our two children happy for the 8 - 10 hour days. Having the rest of the parishable food in another cooler meant the second cooler kept cold longer and the food less likely to parish. Having a lunch bag cooler at the handy in the car meant less money spent at convenience stores and better snacks for everyone.

And if you have not yet been to Nova Scotia, I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Organizing Food in the Pantry

For many people, the pantry shelves represent the last frontier of organizing in the kitchen. Never was this more true that in my own kitchen, despite being in business for over 3 years as a professional organizer.

Organizing a pantry, often filled with half-full boxes of dry goods, is an exercise in matching up the right container with the right food stuff to fit in the right space. Remember those pre-school "fit the right shape into the right hole"? Here are some strategies to help you along:

  • Rigid containers always store better than floppy bags. It doesn't matter whether you are purchasing food storage containers from a direct marketing distributor or the dollar store, consider repackaging your dry goods out of their original product bag into a rigid food storage container.
  • Go vertical - often we loose valuable storage space by not using up the full height of a storage shelf. Try and fill up as much of the shelf height as possible. If necesary, consider investing in some additional shelf steps to turn a tall shelf into two shorter shelves.
  • Label - no surprise here. Labels provide directed choice. It's like opening up the pantry and finding the road map with your route already marked to the wild rice or icing sugar.
  • Buy only what you use - get rid of what you don't. If your family won't eat the whole wheat pasta no matter how many different versions of their favourite sauce you put on it - get rid of it. (Maybe the neighbour's children will eat it?). Your pantry space is valuable - don't use it to warehouse food you won't use.
  • Group similar items together. If all the vinegar is organized together on the shelf, determing if you have any balsamic for the new salad dressing recipe is much easier.
  • Enjoy! After your hard work of sorting, repackaging and organizing the food - plan a great meal for yourself and/or your family to celebrate all the great food you found in there!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Taking Back Time

Having trouble managing or organizing time?

Do you feel as if you are always busy but get nothing done?

Take a look at what you spent the majority of yesterday - or even this week - doing. Now reflect on what you did not do.

Time management is a challenge most of us face most of the time. All too often, we spend our time busy, busy on things that come up and convince us they are urgent in nature. At the end of the day, those things rob us of the time we need to accomplish things in our life which are really important to the values and goals we hold most dear.

Try this time management tip: allocate your time such that at least 50% is spent on those tasks or projects which are directly related to your highest values and greatest goals. Now book the time and protect it from unimportant intruders.

Enjoy achieving your goals.