Sunday, November 30, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

The weather gets colder as the economic forcast gets bleaker. Does anyone have any great stew recipes to warm the harth and keep the shopping list light? What's on your menu this week?

Monday - Fish, salad, potatoes, peas
Tuesday - ( One away, possibly one extra) Pasta, salad, home made bread
Wednesday - Omelettes, bacon, salad
Thursday - (Swim meet) BBQ chicken & grilled vegetables
Friday - Pasta with chicken & vegetables
Saturday - (Swim meet) Tacos
Sunday - (Swim meet) Roast beef, potatoes, brocoli

Thursday, November 27, 2008


A very peaceful and joyful Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

Small Space Organizing

Here's an interesting site for those of you living in small spaces. What's not to love about a site named Loving. Living. Small?

Where is Everything - Very Important Papers

Do you know where your critical documents are?
Do you know what that means?
If your house were on fire, could you get them in less than 30 seconds?
Is there a copy off site safe?
Where is your passport, immigration papers, citizenship documents, birth certificate?
Where is your marriage certificate, divorce papers, name change confirmation?
If anything happend to you, could your Power of Attorney (Finance) find enough information in a short enough time to take care of your affairs the way you would want them handled?
Do you have a Power of Attorney for Finance?
Do you have a Power of Attorney for Health?
Do you have a Will?
Do you have a Living Will?
Do your executors know how to get copies of the Will?
Do you have guardians for your children in the event anything happens to you?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Top Five Series - Reasons for Procrastination

And you thought you could duck under the radar screen! Sorry my friend, upon review of the posts this year I realized it has been a long time since I confronted the big, ugly enemy of procrastination. Are you a procrastinator? ("Oh yeah" - I can hear you whisper under your breath.)

You are wondering why and what you can do about it? The following list is an adaptation from the book Making Time Work for You, by the Time Guru himself, Harold L. Taylor.

  1. A procrastinator's view of time is distorted. With 2 weeks before the due date, you think yo have lots of time to get that report finished. The reality is, no where in those two weeks do you have the 9 hours of time free to actually finish the report. The solution: as soon as you know the report is due - book in the time to complete it. Now book in extra time since we both know it will take twice as long as you think it will.
  2. A procrastinator is often a perfectionist. The perfectionist is often afraid to start something for fear it won't be perfect. The solution: get started to that you have lots of time to make it good enough which is much closer to perfect than not done at all.
  3. A procrastinator often sees tasks as overwhelming. Solution: just do it. Start with any small piece of the project even if it is just five minutes. Break the rest of the project down into bite size pieces that you can manage.
  4. A procrastinator is often someone who thrives on the adrenaline of crisis and deadlines. If you work in the publishing industry you likely have a busy, rewarding life. For the rest of us, it is important to understand that always running late is inefficient, disorganized and often problematic for everyone else around you. Solution: learn to get your adrenaline kick by getting the project done early.
  5. A procrastinator is often just plain disorganized. Some individuals avoid starting projects because they are too disorganized to arrange the information and material they need to get it done. In the meantime, they are still scrambling to find the information and material for the previous project or report which is late. Solution: plan ahead. Plan your year, months, weeks and days by blocking time to accomplish your goals and projects.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tired of the Tires?

In you live in the northern hemisphere, north of about 60 degrees, you have contemplated at some point putting snow tires on your car. If you live in the southern hemisphere, south of about the same latitude or in the mountain ranges of other continents, you have also contemplated snow tires and maybe have chains to go with them.

Now since changing tires, like checking the oil, is a regularly occurring event, why is it that many of us end up in the "tire queue", with coffee and newspaper - for several hours - after the first snow fall each year to get those tires put on?. You would think we didn't know that winter was coming!

Ok, now for everyone in any hemisphere who owns a car - snow tires or otherwise:

  • Open your calendar.
  • Mark in the next date your car service is due.
  • Mark in the date your car service is due after that and every date to the end of the year (2009).
  • Go to November 7 (May for the folks down under)
  • Mark down "Change car tires".
  • Close calendar.
  • Smile!

Adjust the dates if you are a little farther north. The point is that next year you will be in a short queue and have the tires changed before the snow. You will be organized, smiling and taking that coffee and newspaper to your son's hockey rink/daughter's dance class and enjoy his/her game/practice. Enjoy!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

A new wrinkle in our house: teenage daughter joins the swim team and now we have swim training 4 nights of the week. Note to menu plan - increase calories for first born. What's your new wrinkle? I know, I know - who says there was only 1 new wrinkle this week!?

Monday - Swim night - Fish, rice, salad, vegetables
Tuesday - Swim night - Pasta, salad
Wednesday - Swim night/choir night - Lentil caserole, salad
Thursday - Swim night/musical theatre night - BBQ chicken, potatoes, salad
Friday - Tacos with lettuce, cheese, vegetables and ground beef with home-made sauce

You may want to pop over to OrgJunkie, the originator of Menu Planning Monday and check out the menus.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Get Organized without the Buts

For today's post I'm sending you over to millionairemommynextdoor. She has a great post talking about all the buts we put into our lives i.e. all the reasons we think we should not, could not or will not succeed. Check it out.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Client Questions - When do I Shred

As a professional organizer, I am frequently asked by clients what paper needs to be shredded and what can go straight into the recycling bin. Recently I was asked specifically about some old utility statements that a client was throwing out.

Most utility bills have enough information on them to be able to identify you clearly. That's why its on your bill. Some even contain billing and payment information. This is not information that you want public if it were to go astray. Shred.

As a rule of thumb, if there is anything on the bill to identify you, shred it. When in doubt, shred. You can always sit down with your television show some night after the kids are in bed and shred away during the commercial breaks.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The (Dis) Organized Teenager - The Agenda

When I was a student, no one carried an agenda. When I entered the business world, everyone carried a day planner. Nowadays, many school boards create day planners or agendas for the students in their schools. Many day planner publishing companies provide planners targeted specifically for students.

Trying to get a student to use a day planner is a much harder task than just finding one to use. If, however, a student can learn to use the tool on a regular basis they will also learn it is a powerful tool to stay organized and give their brain a break from having to keep a lot of schedule and due date information. Here's some tips to help get your student on top of their agenda:

  • Have the student enter into the day planner all the regular activities in their week such as hockey practice, soccer, dance or band practice.
  • Have them enter in all the irregular schedule items such as holidays, band concerts or vacations. Most of these items are booked many months in advance and are available from the program organizer.
  • Encourage them to write in all their friends' and family members' birthdays. Why? Often there will be parties booked around these dates and with the dates booked in the agenda a student can anticipate a gathering of friends or family around the birthday date. With the heads up on their agenda, they can also budget their funds if they wish to go out to celebrate a friend's birthday.
  • Encourage them to keep the agenda with them in their back pack or hand bag at all times. Then it will be available for reference when the opportunity to babysit comes up or when a party invitation arrives.

Reading over the Recycling Bin

The best way to keep paper from accumulating is to keep it out of the house.

When you receive the mail, get into the habit of sorting and reading the loose material right over the recycling bin. That way you can throw the unnecessary fliers, brochures and promotional items along with all the envelopes right into the bin as you sort through them and open the mail. The pile of paper will immediately decrease in size and you are left with paper that really in which you are really interested.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Last Frontier - Kitchen Shelf

As promised - here it is - a kitchen cupboard that refuses to be organized.

You can see that I have made previous attempts with this shelf. The challenge is that it is deep, pulls out but is at knee height. To really use the space effectively, I have to find tall containers to store the food that could then be labelled on top. That would make them easy to see, identify and ,hopefully, with the right size container, easy to access.

My strategy?

  • Pull everything out and completely empty the shelf. (Clean it while empty).
  • Assess what to keep and what to get rid of (don't use, don't need or is too old to keep).
  • Determine from what is left how many containers I need.
  • Get the containers. You may have your favourite source; one of mine is the Dollar Store. I have already determined a location to get the size and especially the height I need.
  • Fill up the containers.
  • Label.
  • Put everything back. I will make everything fit the space I have as there isn't any other space i our 1970's renovated kitchen for these items. They have to live in the space available.

Stay tuned for the after pictures!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

My better half is a big advocate of preparation the night before. So, after a big conversation about that last night, what do I find on Org Junkie this morning? You all had your menus planned for the week last night. Well, guess I better catch up.

If you are a WW fan, you might be interested in this site: note, the author was first to the post this week with her menus planned. So, organized and loosing weight - do you think the two are connected?

Here's what will be on our table. How about yours?

Monday: No one's home - uh oh.

Tuesday: Swim Night & Pasta Night with Carolyn's tomato pasta sauce (no bits)

Wednesday: Choir Night - Pork Chops

Thursday: Swim Night, Teacher Interview Night, Zodiactors - home made pizza

Friday: Beef steak, baked potatos and brocolli

Friday, November 14, 2008

Last Frontiers - What's Yours?

You have to love Blogland as my friend Laura calls it. I can sit here in my office and find friends all over the world who are reading this. Welcome to my lastest discovery - we have friends in South Africa! You might want to take a look at Marcia's blog from the other side, and other end of the world.

Meanwhile, many of us who consider ourselves reasonably well organized - maybe not you but maybe someone you know - still have a corner of our lives that remains the Last Organizing Frontier. I have one cupboard in the kitchen that defies organization. It's going down next week. There, I've made a public statement. Stay tuned for the oh - so - revealing pictures.

Strategy for the really tough stuff: schedule, subdivide into bites, conquer.

What's your last frontier?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Seasonal Clear out - a la Hong Kong

Still trying to get that seasonal clear out completed? Hop over to Dim Sum Mom and hear how she accomplished it for a family of six: that would be Mom and Dad, son and triplets!

Lighten your Closets - Results

The weather is chilly, the snow is threatening and winter is looming in the shape of a big, grey, cold cloud. I promised last week that I would report on the success of Bob McGee's (CHFI, Toronto) coat drive from last weekend. Toronto has proven once again it is a city with lots of heart and closets with lightening potential. Over 10,000 coats were collected which will be distributed to children where needed. Here's a picture of the truck loads. Way to go TO!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Clear Vision for your World

It seems the longer I work as a professional organizer, the less organizing is about the stuff and the more it is about stuff behind the stuff.

What is your vision for your life? What is your vision for your home? What is your vision for your favourite place in your home? Do you have a vision?

If we don't have a clear understanding of what we desire for ourselves it is very hard to get there - sort of like that preverbial trip, not knowing where you are going and no map to get there.

Before you start your next organizing project, develop a really clear vision of what the space, room, area, corner or cupboard will look, feel, smell, sound or function like when you are done. If you are more kinetic than visual, try imagining what the space or place will feel like and how you will function in it. Likewise, if you are more auditorily inclined (listening) try describing outloud how the space will look, feel or function.

Start with a clear vision - its much easier to know when you get there.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Meal Planning Monday

OK here goes for staying on top of supper time this week:

Monday: Fish, Rice and Brocoli (won't I be popular!)
Tuesday (swim night): Pasta at our house every Tuesday
Wednesday (choir night): BBQ Pork Chops, Potatoes and Corn
Thursday (more swimming): BBQ Chicken, Rice and Peas
Friday: we've already planned a night out for the family, yippee, no dishes.

Head on over to the Organizing Junkie to find out what some really good cooks are up to this week.

Courageous Organizers

I have just returned from three days at the Professional Organizers in Canada annual conference here in Toronto. It was an information packed, fun filled and industry driving conference with almost 25% of the organization's membership in attendance.

The talent in attendance was exceptional. Harold Taylor and Krista Green were both in attendance to reveal their latest training and business development programs. Elaine Shannon from the Organizing Connection and Laura from I'm an Organizing Junkie brought us up to date with the latest in online business development. Authors Karen Shinn and Gail Shields launched their new book GO! The Essential Guide to Organizing and Moving.

Having filled up my brain and note book with enough ideas to keep me planning for centuries, the conference finished off with a powerful presentation on The Courage to Succeed by Tanya Chernova and Joanna Andros of Courageous Living. They challenged the audience to step right out of the box, break the old neuro-receptor patterns that lead us down predictable roads and start to form new thoughts around our ability to accomplish those goals we never seem to reach.

It's a simple enough message but one which we often forget. When was the last time you took a courageous step? I did; I accepted the invitation to be a tip host on the Organizing Connection.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Check out the Organizing Tools

If you live in the Toronto area, you may want to join the Professional Organizers of Canada this Friday November 7th at our annual conference. This year the vendor exhibit is open to the public. It will be held Friday from 9 am until 4 pm at the Delta East Hotel at Kennedy and Hwy 401. Why not come up and check out the latest organizing tools and strategies.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lighten up your Closets - Warm up the City

OK folks, time to clear out the closets. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find as many unused coats in your closets as possible. Think of the space you could free up! Think of the warmth you could pass on to someone else!

Bob McGee from Toronto's CHFI FM radio station is, for the 5th year, collecting coats for children this weekend. Here is the link to the details where you can drop off the coats.

Let's make this a challenge. I'd like to see how many coats this blog can send out to Bob and friends to help keep the kids warm. Add your comments and tell me how many coats you are send up. I'll report the tally on Monday.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Organizing with Depression - Realistic Goals

You, or someone you know, may have already been diagnosed with depression - mild, severe or somewhere in between. For those of us moving through menopause, this is often the time that depression is identified although its symptoms may have been evident for years before. You may have experienced a severe loss and your depression related to grief. Or perhaps you have suffered many years of abuse - physical or emotional - and are now struggling to regain some confidence.

Whatever the background, reason or lenght of time you have suffered from depression, its impact on your ability to organize will be the same. Organizing takes energy. One of the first symptoms of depression is a lack of energy. You may also be suffering from difficulty maintaining focus and challenges with your memory.

The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to organize if you suffer from depression is to keep your goals as realistic as possible. You will have days when sorting through paper is just not possible - especially if it requires not only mental but physical energy. If you have an organizing project that just has to get done regardless of your energy level, try and get help. Call in a trusted friend or family member. Their presence alone can sometimes provide additional energy for you to work with. Try and break your project into small pieces and keep track of your successes. It is important that you recognize your accomplishments. Celebrate your successes no matter how small.