Quick Tip Thursday

Do you have an artificial tree that comes in multiple pieces?  Is it a challenge each year to find the cords and get each section connected correctly?

This year, when you are putting up (or taking down) the tree add labels to any cord that needs to be plugged/unplugged.  Labels can be in many different forms

  • printed labels from your trusty label maker
  • handmade adorable tags that look like ornaments
  • old bread bag closers that you write on

The keys to making it work are:

  • Make the label easy to see/find amidst all the branches
  • Make the label hard to remove (so it doesn’t get knocked off)

Next year when you drag that tree up from the basement you’ll get it lit on the first try (assuming you didn’t break any bulbs!)

Quick Tip Thursday

Do you have a huge frustration over socks in the laundry?  Do you hate matching them and trying to find the right mates?

With two kids we are overwhelmed with little socks.  But about a year ago I made an executive decision and have never looked back…

Both kids wear the same socks.  Plain, boring, white socks.  I’m sure my daughter would love to have some crazy pink ones but since she’s only 3 and I’ve never given her a choice, she doesn’t know the difference.  We buy one brand, one style, one color.  Then it doesn’t matter which kid’s drawer they end up in.  And matching is a breeze.  And if you are really a free-spirit you could even skip matching them and just throw them in the drawer unmatched.  Then just grab two when you need them.

(Remember… this principle can apply to adults too!)

Office Organization?

Found this gem in the Sunday paper a few weeks ago and I just had to share it with all of you.

Inspired Insight – The Desk Whisperer

It is my goal here at Delightfully Organized that you have access to the best and brightest minds in the business.  To that end, I try to bring you useful information from many of the best organizers who inspire me every day.

Inspired Insight

Today’s inspiration comes from Erin Rooney Doland, editor of Unclutterer. Her presentation on creating a desk that enhances your profile in the office is outstanding.

28 Days To Living Organized – Day 18 – Time: To-Do List

28 Days to Living Organized

Time: To-Do List

We’ve talked about space and we’ve talked about email. Now we’re going to talk about organizing your TIME.

Have you ever….

• Made an appointment but forgot to write it down so you missed it?
• Committed to an activity that you didn’t make it to?
• Been late to an event?
• Been too early to an event?
• Left home without everything you needed for what you were doing?
• Skipped a few days of housework and ended up feeling overwhelmed by the results?

I’m guessing you’ve done at least one of these. I’m guessing almost everyone has done all of these at least once.

I want to talk today about your to-do list. I believe there are three keys to having a successful, useful to-do list. If you will do these three things I guarantee you will accomplish your goals – both big and small.

Write It
Read It
Do It

Brilliant, isn’t it? And yet despite the simplicity and obviousness of these three steps, how many times have you skipped one or more of them and then wondered why you weren’t getting things done.

1. Write It – Have a to-do list in written form.  Thiss can be done in a number of ways. You can use a pad of paper and pen, make a spreadsheet-style list, use some fancy notebook feature on your cell phone or you can use one of the many online options such as Ta-da Lists or Remember The Milk.

2. Read It – Refer to it regularly. Some of you are like me. You write it down then lose what you wrote it on and so you make a new one. In the meantime, you try to remember your items in your head. Don’t do that. Put it somewhere you can see while you are at home or away. And look at it at least every day – if not more than once a day.

3. Do It – When you look at it… DO SOMETHING. Making lists is fun for organizing geeks like me. But it is so much more satisfying to actually get things accomplished than it is to just write about what you wish you could get done.

In a few weeks, look for a follow-up for more advanced to-do list techniques. But for now remember this:

Write It
Read It
Do It

When Life Happens

I must apologize for my absence over the last week.  I know many of you have been looking forward to your daily information on living more organized.

Where have I been?  I’ve been having the type of week that challenges even the most organized among us.  I’ve had two sick kids and caught their nasty germs myself.  Croup, vomiting, ear infections, sore throats, whining, crying, watching too much TV… and the kids were in pretty rough shape too J.

The truth is, a week like this will put the brakes on everything except survival mode.  I still managed to shower every day.  And the laundry got clean (at least the important pieces) and the dishes were washed.  But not much else happened.  If you were to walk into my home today you’d be appalled that I profess to live a delightfully organized life.  My home is certainly not delightful and nowhere near organized.  There are toys all over the family room floor, the sheets haven’t been changed in far too long to mention, our laundry – while clean – is still sitting in the baskets waiting to be put away, and the kitchen floor has far too many cheerios and smashed grapes on it.  And, oh yes, my inbox is out of control with unread and un-responded-to messages.

But I make no excuses.  I was caring for my babies and myself and that was more important than any cleaning. 

Sometimes LIFE gets in the way of our best laid plans.  And that’s okay.  This is actually a great example of what I mean by living organized rather than simply getting organized.  When we “get” organized we then can easily get discouraged when things run amok for a little while.  But when we “live” organized, we know that there will be bumps on the road and that is just fine.  No one will judge us for not having a magazine-worthy home on the heels of illness. We’ll just brush ourselves off and get back to it tomorrow.

And speaking of tomorrow…. Look for some catch up posts in the series to debut tomorrow.  I think we are all on our way back to healthy now.

28 Days To Living Organized – Day 17 – Check & Adjust

28 Days to Living Organized

Check & Adjust
It’s time to come back to your original organization project from earlier this month and figure out how it is going.  It’s time to make any necessary adjustments.
So… you’ve been living with the new solution/space/routine for 10 days now.  How does it feel?  Is it working?  Are there glitches that you didn’t forsee.  To do a quick assessment, ask yourself (and your family members) these questions:
1. Is {INSERT PROBLEM} still a problem in our home?  If you answer No to this then hats off to you!  If you answer yes then let’s keep going.
2. Have any positive changes been made?  If yes, what are they?
3. What areas are still a problem?
4. Did my original plan not work (or only partly work) because it was not a good plan or because I didn’t execute it?
4a. If it wasn’t a good plan, it’s time to think of a different solution
4b. If it wasn’t executed you need to ask yourself why and address that.  It could be that you didn’t carry it out because it was too hard or time consuming – if so, you probably need a new plan.  Or it could be that you just got busy doing other things.  If this is the case, you might just need to make it a priority.
I’ll give you my assessment.  My problem was with clutter on the island in our kitchen.  Our solution was to create folders for the mail that tends to accumulate and put those folders into a nearby drawer.
The current result is that there is a folder for medical receipts (something I need to track separately from the regular bills) but the folders for the other bills has just not been created.  Why?  Because I just didn’t do it.  It wasn’t too hard or costly.  I just.didn’t.do.it.  It was that simple.  So I don’t really need a new plan, I just need to implement the one I’ve got.  And now that the health status in our home is back on the upswing I’ll be working on that tonight.

28 Days To Living Organized – Day 16 – De-Clutter Day

28 days to Living Organized

De-Clutter Day

On our last de-clutter day we cleared a space.  Today we’re going to stop the bleeding.

I mean let’s keep the clutter from coming in the door – both your physical door and your electronic door.

Follow these simple steps:
1. Opt out of pre-approved credit card offers.  This is the official site.  Yes, you do have to put in your social security number.  This is legitimate.  This will eliminate most “You’re Pre-approved!” offers from your mailbox.  The exception is that your current creditors can still send you things.

2. Stop the phone calls.  This doesn’t make physical clutter in your life but it sure is annoying and can suck your time.  The National Do Not Call Registry will block those annoying telemarketers.  Know that some groups, like charitable organizations, are excempt.

3. Cancel your catalogs.  You ordered something from “Cute-Stuff-That-You-Probably-Don’t-Need-Anyway Corporation” three years ago and you still get their catalogs.  Next time one arrives, call and ask to be removed from their mailing list.  They should be accomodating since they don’t want to spend money on postage to someone who isn’t going buy anything.

4. Eliminate the “fluff” mail.  I’m talking about e-mail here.  Specifically e-mail that you have no use for.  Not real junk mail – there are spam filters for that.  I mean newsletters you subscribed to but never read, sale “flyers” from companies you ordered from years ago.  All of them should have an “opt-out” or “unsubscribe” option at the bottom of the email.  Use it
A word of warning… don’t select “unsubscribe” on an e-mail from an unfamiliar source.  Those can lead you to unsavory websites.  And if you are not sure if the link is okay, you can find out what it really is.  Just because it says http://www.cnn.com/ doesn’t mean it isn’t sending you to horrible-site-that-will-give-you-a-virus.come
To check, hover over the link with your mouse.  It will very likely give you a pop-up with the actual link.  If it says www.amazooon.com instead of www.amazon.com then it’s probably a scam.

It’s a lot easier to manage what’s really important when you don’t have to sort through the things you don’t need.

28 Days To Living Organized – Day 15 – Email: Clear The Backlog

28 days to Living Organized

Email: Clear The Backlog

You’ve set out on a good course of tackling new messages as they come in and not letting them sit as a to-do list in your Inbox. 

Now it’s time to deal with those many months (or years) of email you have to catch up on.  There are several ways to do this and anyway that gets your Inbox to Zero is appropriate.

One option (not my favorite) is to move all the old stuff to a “Old Stuff” file that you will defer until you have time to go through it.  This is not my favorite because I know that personally I would just leave that file there forever and never go through it.

A better option (in my opinion) is to simply tackle it with a few easy steps.

1. Sort by the “FROM” column.  This will make it easy to see ones that be quickly deleted.
2. Follow the 6 rules – Delete/Archive, Delegate, Respond, Defer, Do
3. Delete/Archive – this should be the easiest category.  If you’ve had them this long do you really need them anymore?  Probably not.  I expect most things will fall into this category
4. Delegate & Respond – Unless these emails are only a few days or weeks old it is probably well past the time to make any kind of response.  But there may be a few in there that still require you do respond or ask someone else to respond.
5. Defer – Um…. haven’t you already done this long enough?  Forget this category and do one of the others
6. Do – A favorite here, right after Delete

It may take you awhile depending on how much backlog you have.  I suggest setting a timer or putting a few songs on a playlist and challenging yourself to get through as much as possible (all?) in 15-30 minutes.  If you don’t get through all of it you can set aside another time later in the week.

Happy deleting!