Simply Put Organizing

Clutter Control

Clutter has a funny way of expanding to fit any undefined spaces in your home. For that reason, it is very important to assign a purpose for each room, cabinet and closet you have. Once spaces are assigned a definite purpose you can go about the job of relocating items in your home to the places they belong and remove the excess as you go. I once had a boss who taught his employees to never walk anywhere in the restaurant empty handed. He knew there was always something to be relocated and put away. He didn’t know it then,but he helped me develop a lifelong habit that has helped me save time in everything I do. Below you’ll find more useful tips and inspiration to help you clear the clutter everyday and reclaim your spaces.
Food for thought

Determine your priorities in life: It is impossible to know what you don’t need if you haven’t determined what you do need. For example, I need more time. I had to take a look at my time wasting habits. I have decided that I don’t need to tear out and save pages of things I want to buy from magazines anymore. If I tear something out of a newspaper or magazine it becomes a to-do. I don’t need anything else to do. And if I really need that thing so badly then I won’t forget to get it. It has been so liberating to flip through a magazine and enjoy it without feeling the need to tear and manage all that paper and to make a trip to the mall to get the thing I thought I had to have in the magazine. This small tweak in my habits has saved precious time, mental energy, and, most likely, a lot of money.

Determine your priorities and what you are willing to spend time on and what you’re willing to give space to in your home.

Clutter is a delayed decision: Take a look at any cluttered areas in your home and you will see that each item there is really a delayed decision. Maybe you just didn’t decide where the item should be located in your home or maybe you haven’t decided if you will ever wear something again or use something so it has been relegated to a spare closet until a decision can be made. Make decisions on the things in your home right away. Choose if it stays or goes and, if it stays where will it ‘live’. If you have given thought to what you really need to support your values and priorities this becomes very easy.
Make a Plan

Choose a charity: For many of us, it is easier to let things go if we think it is going somewhere where it will be appreciated and put to good use. However, sometimes finding the right place can be paralyzing so you stay stuck in your stuff. can help you find a charity in your area you can to be good stewards of your things. Set up a donation receptacle to make it easy to unclutter your home on a daily basis.

Schedule regular decluttering sessions: whether you are drowning in clutter or just a little it is important to assign a time each day or week that you will devote time to relocating items and clearing clutter. It could be 10 minutes a day or 1 hour each weekend. Whichever works for you, it is important to be consistent with the commitment.

Create a landing spot: Organization is about everything having a place. A landing spot is the place where you unload things as you come in the door. Clutter happens when we put things down in random places and then become too busy to go back and put them away. Your landing spot should be located near the entrance you most often use. It needs a designated place for mail, purse, wallet, keys and an area for any shopping bags or other things you may not have time to put away at the moment. In having it all in one spot-it is easier to go back and clear it as time permits. Caution: don’t fill up your landing spot and then make a new one. Take time each day to process what has accumulated there.
New Habits
Set goals; Daniel Hommer M.D., is an expert on brain imaging and motivation. He shared in Real Simple magazine that there is a phenomenon called delayed discounting. If it takes a long time to reach a goal we value that goal less then one we can reach quickly making it harder to get started at all. The solution is to make projects small and rewards immediate. For example, if you clear off a surface, dress if up with something you love keeping in mind that eventually your entire home will be that orderly and beautiful.

Don’t bring it home: Walk away from bargains. Just because you can buy three for the price of one doesn’t mean you should. Ask yourself: Where will I store it? Will it expire? If you find yourself accepting a freebie there’s nothing wrong with putting it in the donation bag straight away.

Put it away immediately: We all have good intentions to do things later. The problem arises when “later” creates piles all over our home. Put things away right away or, at least, the same day. Remember it’s all contained in your landing spot.

Give yourself time: If organizing doesn’t come naturally to you putting things back where they belong is not going to happen overnight. According to Charles Duhigg New York Times reporter and author of the book ‘The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business’, habits are hardwired into our brains. They are our brains way of simplifying our lives, saving us stress and energy. The trick is not to focus on undoing the habit but to replace the bad behavior with a better one. If each time you walk in your kitchen you drop everything you are holding on the counter think of the better habit of putting things away where they belong or using your landing spot to hold them until they can be put away. The reward: clear kitchen countertops.

Keep it Together Christmas!

Each year I rely on all the information I have accumulated in my Christmas binder. No matter which holiday your family celebrates you can keep a wealth of tips and inspiration all in one simple place. Here’s what you need:

A 1″ binder. I like the binders that you have a a pocket style cover for labeling.
Scrapbook paper (optional) cut to fit the pocket on the binder’s cover and spine. The picture to the right is the cover of my holiday binder.
A three hole punched zippered pouch. This is a great place to keep all the receipts for your holiday purchases. If you need them for returns you’ll know right where to find them.
CD holders. I keep all my holiday music in my binder. No more hunting for the elusive holiday music.
Page protectors. I keep a few page protectors in my binder to hold things like Christmas carol lyrics, poems and prayers.
Photo pages. I like to take pictures of my decor so I can remember how I set things up the previous year.
Binder pockets. You can find these at any office supply store. I always shop at Office Max as they have the Peter Walsh line of organizing products that I love. The pockets come five to a pack and each hold up to 70 sheets of paper. Use a labelmaker or simply write with a sharpie to assign a category to each pocket. Here are some of the things you can keep in your binder pockets:

Christmas card list
Decoration inventory Assign a number to each one of the bins you use to store your decorations and then list the contents of that bin on a sheet of paper and keep it in your binder. When you go to decorate next year you’ll know which bin to grab first.
Entertaining ideas. This pocket is for everything you tear from magazines. It’s great to have all your ideas in one place before you decorate.
Gift ideas. This is by far my favorite pocket. I tear pages from magazines and catalogs all year long and tuck them away in this pocket. When I start my Christmas shopping I am always thankful for the reminders.
Recipes. I keep all my holiday recipes separate from my other recipes so they can be easily located when I need them.
Tips. things pertaining to the holidays that I don’t want to forget (like this newsletter).
Travel. A great place to keep itineraries of friends and family that will be visiting for the season.
Anything that you need to keep at your fingertips during the season

I keep my binder with my cookbooks in the kitchen so I can easily add to it throughout the year. Choose a place in your home to keep the binder where it will not be forgotten and enjoy the gift of a holiday with a little less stress next year.

Family Information Centers

There are two things you need to keep in mind when managing the paper and information that comes into your home on a daily basis. First, you need to choose just one location to process it. Second, you need to process it in a timely manner. Remember, clutter is simply a result of delayed decisions.

To set up a Family Information Center keep the following tips in mind:
• it should be located in a heavily trafficked area like the kitchen or a mudroom.
• it needs to have wall space for a bulletin board or wall calendar , a surface for an action center and reference material and ideally, a floor surface for a shredder (although there are some great tabletop shredders available)
• it needs to have a file close by to file papers that need to be retained for a long period of time. Remember to file once a week. If you wait any longer the task becomes unbearable to most people.
Once you have determined a place where you will process incoming information it is important to gather all the papers that are around your home and process them. if you are completely overwhelmed, at least place all the paper in one pile and process it for ten minutes a day until it’s gone. There are three different types of paper: reference, action, and trash. Reference papers are school schedules, invitations, legal papers and such. How long you keep them depends on the importance of the paper. Papers for medical and tax purposes have to be kept for a longer period of time but are seldom looked at. These papers belong in a file cabinet somewhere in your home but necessarily in your information center. Reference papers such as sports schedules, school information and such need to be referred to on a regular basis and should be kept in a binder or folio close at hand. I love Mom Agenda’s Kitchen Folio. Check it out at Don’t forget to check out the free printables to keep you and your family on track.

Papers that require an action such as bills to pay, invitations that require a response, permission slips to sign, etc. need to be placed in an action center. I love the three tier sorter from Office Max for this purpose. As you see there is a place to label each tray. Use one for items to do that are high priority (check it daily) label the second tray for items that are not really important such as things you may want to do with your family or things you want to buy (check it weekly) and the third tray for paper that needs to be filed. File it each week.

Paper that is to be thrown away needs to be discarded before it hits a hard surface. Open mail over a trash can, recycle bin or shredder on a daily basis and quickly put items in their predefined spaces: either the trash, the action center or a file.

To keep track of schedules use an individual planner. whether you choose an electronic schedule or a paper depends entirely on your personality. There are a lot of people who still prefer paper, including me. I have used and loved Mom Agenda’s personal portfolio for years. I like to look at my entire month at a glance and the uncluttered pages of this planner make be feel like I’m in control even though there is hardly a square in that doesn’t contain something I have to do or somewhere I have to be.
I think it’s gorgeous and I love to carry it. My good friend prefers her I phone which absolutely doesn’t work for me. Decide which calendar works best for you and then input all your commitments on a daily basis.
If you have a large or busy family. I think it’s important to have a family calendar. Dry erase calendars are perfect for this. Each family member can use a different color to mark their schedules and everyone knows where to look to see who is doing what. If you prefer the computer screen you can do the same thing online. I really like the clean look of the magnetic dry erase calendar at the container store,
If you don’t have the wall space, mom agenda has come out with a home office addition planner that is large enough to capture all your important information and attractive enough to leave out.

So, if you apply the organizing triangle to your new Family Information Center. The system would be the defined spaces that your paper goes to immediately when it comes in the door. The products are the planners, folios, action centers and shredder. The habits, keep on top of things. It only takes five minutes to process your mail each day. Remember, it’s not the things we do that wear us out. It is what is left undone.

Don’t know about the organizing triangle? It is my own organizing method that I teach my clients and use myself. Find out more in my coauthored book, Get Organized Today. Available at a discount on my site


Be the Boss of Your Mailbox

I found the a great resource last night while researching an article I was writing: Mail Stopper. Here’s what it can do for just a twenty dollar annual subscription.

  • Stamp out junk mail.
  • Un-Clutter your Life. Stop up to 90% of your junk mail with MailStopper – in just 90 days. We work with over 6,500 direct marketers – to make sure you get only the mail you want.
  • Catalogs. Credit card offers. Grocery store circulars. Not only does junk mail pile up – it also can lead to identity theft. With MailStopper, you’ll save time, reduce waste, and protect your privacy.
  • Think green. Plant trees. When you join MailStopper, we plant 5 trees on your behalf. Combined with the paper you save, it’s like growing your own tiny forest.

I love the fact that they plant trees on your behalf. I have signed up and I’m really looking forward to ending the paper nightmare that is my mailbox.

I would love to get feedback on this if anyone else tries this service…

More on Paper…

I love doing television segments!! My only frustration is that it is extremely difficult to boil down a complicated topic, like paper, to fit into a three and a half minute segment. So here’s what I didn’t get to say about paper. The best way to keep it from piling up is not to bring it into your home in the first place. Think before you hit the print button on your computer. Do you really need the piece of paper? If you need it do you have a place to keep it so that you can retrieve it when needed? If not, don’t print!! If you are worried, as I once was, about losing information if your computer should crash check out this remote backup service, For a small monthly fee it continually backs up your computer files. How do I know it works? My computer crashed!! When I bought a replacement computer, I went to my carbonite account, it asked me if I was on a new computer, I answered yes. It asked me if I wanted to restore my files, I answered yes and voila, done. All my information was intact. I no longer print anything that is stored in my document files on my computer. Complete Freedom!!

Another way to keep piles at a minimum is to keep a spiral notebook or a journal by your phone or in one or two easily reached places in your home. Instead of writing down messages or thoughts on random pieces of paper jot them down in the notebook and periodically date the pages for future reference.

The other service I love is Lifelock. I use this service to eliminate my fears of identity theft. For those of you afraid to toss your junk mail this is for you. Check it out at Signing up for the service not only protects your identity, it stops almost all of the financial junk mail such as preapproved credit card offers from coming to your home in the first place. I also, had my nine year old daughter’s identity locked.

Last but not least, get a shredder, a garbage can and a recycle bin and keep them close to the place you process mail and school papers. School papers…that’s another post.

Organizing Paper: From Piles to Files

Hello everyone!! I hope you’ll all watch me tomorrow on Sonoran Living Live, Phoenix’s ABC 15 at 9AM. I’ll be talking about paper and what the heck to do with it when it ends up in piles all over your home. Get a head start on restoring order to your environment with the article below. See you tomorrow…

Piles to Files

The fact about paper is that it is everywhere. It arrives daily in our mailbox. Our kids bring it home from school. We print out articles and pictures from our computer just in case we can’t find the website again. The list goes on and on. The problem with paper is that, if you don’t have a processing system, it can end up in piles all over your home. When that happens, digging out without a plan, feels overwhelming. As with any big project take it slowly, address a pile, or part of a pile, each day and create new habits for incoming papers.

Use the simple processing system below to restore order in your environment:

Think F.A.T. Paper falls into three categories, file, act and toss:

  1. File: Papers that need to be kept for reference; insurance policies, medical reports, tax information and any other critical document falls into this category. You will need a file cabinet with clearly labeled folders for this type of paper. You’ll also need a clearly defined place to keep your papers that need to be filed until you can complete the task.
  2. Act: Papers that need an action taken on them; invitations, coupons, projects, school assignments and anything else that is associated with a task. This type of paper needs to be stored in an action center. The action center should be in only one location in your home and needs to be checked daily. Checking your action center daily allows you to pull the items you need for that day and toss anything that is no longer relevant. Keep it current and file papers that need to be retained at least once a week. Three tiered sorters found at office supply centers are great for this purpose as the tiers can be labeled: to do, to file, and pending (papers that you’ve taken an action on and you’re waiting for a response).
  3. Toss: Most papers that come into our lives fall into this category. Always open your mail close to a recycle bin or trash can in order to eliminate them before they hit a hard surface in your home.

Organization is about defining your spaces and creating homes for everything, including paper. After defining easy access homes for your paper to live the key to maintenance is a well established system and a routine to follow.

If you feel overwhelmed and just don’t know where to start please call for help. I would love to work with you.

Simply Put Organizing (480) 659-2663

Repurpose. Replenish. Renew. Restore. Relax.