Simply Put Organizing

Organizing Under the Sink

The space under your sink is one of the most challenging areas to organize. Deep dimensions and drainpipes make it difficult to find containers that fit. It is easy to use the shove and close method when storing items in these spaces. If you haven’t seen the items that are in the recesses of your under sink cabinets, read on to learn simple tricks you can use to clear the clutter and create a system that will let you keep track of what you have and make it easily accessible.
Start with a deep clean. Take everything out and clean up any spills. Discard expired products as they can become useless or even harmful as active ingredients age. Let go of unwanted items or anything that smells off or has had a change in color. If a bottle or jar is covered in dust it most likely should be thrown out.
Before buying any new containers, group like things together and take stock of what you have to determine how many and what kind of containers you will need. Small items are stored best in stackable drawers; larger bottles can be corralled in open, deep bins. Remove any bulky packaging to make storage easier.
If you can, create a shelf in your linen closet for bulk toiletry purchases. A dedicated shelf in a laundry room is great for bulk purchases of kitchen supplies. Items purchased in bulk are more easily inventoried when they are at eye level and will leave room under the sinks for the items that are actively used. If you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated ‘warehouse’, don’t worry, just think vertical when designing your storage.
Before buying any new containers group like things together and take stock of what you have. Remove bulky packaging to make storage easier.
Measure the areas around the drainpipe and the width and depth of your cabinets. You will need to purchase two types of containers. Stackable drawers or lidded containers are best used to store smaller products and deep, narrow bins to corral tall bottles of skin and hair care products. photo shoe drawer
Always label each container-this is an important step as labels help create new habits (putting things back and retrieving them from a specific place) and help you keep track of inventory to prevent overbuying.
Using containers to organize under the sink makes it easy to keep the space clean and orderly. To maintain, simply honor the container. If it’s full clear out some of the older items or resist buying new.
If you would like to see this blog post come to life, visit the video page to see the Organizing Under the Sink Sonoran Living Live segment.

Organizing your Jewelry

With all the amazing jewelry available to us these days our collections can expand faster than our ability to store them. Do you find yourself wearing the same pieces of jewelry every day, not because they are your favorites, but because it’s the only thing you can find? The problem is most likely not the amount of jewelry you have but how it is being stored. You can avoid tangled necklaces and lost earrings with a few steps and some creative ideas.
When I was a child I loved the allure of my mother’s jewelry box. It was so much fun to sift through the baubles and imagine myself all grown up with my own treasure chest of glimmering jewels. Now that I am all grown up I find myself rushing out the door I find that simple box doesn’t work for me. I want to see what I have quickly and preserve what I love safely. If your jewelry box looks like a Pirate’s chest of tangled treasures, look no further than the tips below to restore order to your to your collection and actually enjoy the fabulous pieces you have.
Eliminate the old and outdated. The first step in organizing anything is to identify what you love and want to keep and eliminate the things that are just taking up space. Gather up all your jewelry and take a good look at it identifying the things that are broken, out of date, or just plain ugly (the what was I thinking? category). Consider donating, consigning or selling the gold and set aside sentimental pieces that you want to keep but no longer wear. If you have young kids or grandkids make a treasure box of old jewelry for dress up play-they will love it.
Organize it your way. Consider how you wear your jewelry and reorganize your collection to fit your habits. You may want to separate fine jewelry from costume. You can separate things into sets or types of jewelry. If you have a lot of jewelry you may want to separate your go to items from pieces that are seldom worn.
Find the right location. This is the chance to think out of the jewelry box with a few creative storage solutions. If you are currently using jewelry box but have out grown it-consider using it for a specific purpose such as keeping all fine jewelry in the box and then organize costume pieces elsewhere. The following tips will supplement your current box or create a system from scratch.
Stacking Jewelry Trays I love these adjustable stacking jewelry trays and use them myself for all my rings and bracelets. I like stacking trays as they fit into drawers and eliminate surface clutter. If you choose to use this system remember to place seldom worn items on the bottom and your favorites in the top trays.
Hooks For long chunky necklaces I recommend hanging them in your closet or dressing area walls. This keeps them tangle free and easily seen. The inside of cabinet drawers works well for hanging jewelry as well. I use small acrylic command hooks that are easy to arrange and come off clean if they are no longer needed.
Shadow Boxes This is one of my favorite ways to organize statement pieces and beloved heirlooms. It turns jewelry into art for your dressing area. Shadow boxes of all types can be found at TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Marshall’s. When using a shadow box make sure it will mount securely on a wall and that the front will open easily for access.
Fabric Covered Bulletin Boards This is a great way to keep your jewelry organized and in plain site. Mount one behind a door or any available wall in your closet or dressing area and use push pins to hang your baubles. French bulletin boards with their ribbon lattice are great for hanging earring whether pierced or clip.
On a Budget Ice cube trays work great for earrings and rings. Use nails in a row on a wall behind a door or inside your closet to organize necklaces.

Remember to protect your investment when it comes to fine pieces. Scan your appraisals and keep them in a safe place. Contact your homeowners insurance and make sure your fine jewelry is covered against loss. Consider using a safe that is bolted to the floor if you have a large collection of fine jewelry (stacking trays work great in safes).
Whether the value of your collection is monetary or sentimental, organizing will make it easier to enjoy what you have.

Photo Organizing

Order is Heaven’s first law, wrote the poet Alexander Pope. Maybe that is why we innately feel better when our life is buttoned up. What about our life’s memories? When it comes to getting our photographs in order, many of us feel a pang of guilt closer to purgatory than to Heaven.
It is estimated that 86% of digital photos never leave their memory card. Many more photographs are held captive in bins, boxes and drawers throughout our homes. If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you are not alone. The good news is, if you are willing to put in a little work, you can free your photos and create a system that will allow your family to enjoy them for years to come.
Digital Images
• Download your photos from your camera or phone to your computer once a month. This is probably the most difficult thing for me to do! It is so easy to forget. I suggest doing it the same time each month, like the first Saturday. Always put it on your calendar and honor the commitment. It is very important as you don’t want your photos and videos trapped on a camera that could be lost, stolen or damaged.
• Transfer the photos in your computer onto a photo organizing system such as Picasa, a free download from Google, iPhoto or Windows live photo gallery.
• Once they are downloaded and transferred edit and delete any repetitive or poor quality photos. Let’s face it, a bad picture is just clutter and will distract you from the good ones.
• Once you have edited your photos, organize them into files. I like to put the year then the month in digits, then title so my pictures line up chronologically, example: 2012 02 Ski Trip. I don’t like subfolders in my paper files or in my digital files so this method works well for me as I can see everything at a glance. If you like subfolders you can organize just by the year with subfolders for each month and then subfolders for each event within the month. I also like to make a folder each year for certain types of random photos. For instance, 2012 Family and Friends or 2012 Client spaces. The important thing is that your folders make sense to you so that when you want to retrieve a photo you can find it.
• Once you have your photos in folders you can go in and rename each photo replacing the string of digital numbers your camera assigns it with something meaningful to you.
Remember the important thing is to get them off your camera and on to your computer and back them up. I have my computer backed up continuously by Carbonite back up service www.carbonite.com . Other methods of backing up photos include:
• External hard drive, 500GB holds about 200,000 photos
• Online services, check out www.sugarsynce.com or www.sugarsync.com
• Prints, yes prints! In this high tech world there is still something special about sitting next to someone and reminiscing over a photo album.

Prints
Where to begin? This is the question that can keep us paralyzed and our printed photos trapped in drawers, boxes and bins. Whenever, I feel overwhelmed I remind myself that the best starting point is always a plan. First, ask yourself what you want as an end result. Do you want all your photos on your computer or would you like to have albums-maybe a combination.
Albums
• Choose the area in your home where your albums will live. This will help you decide how big your albums can be. Choose a bookcase, shelf or piece of furniture that will accommodate the albums you will be making now and any future albums you will be making. It’s great to keep them in the family room so they are accessible and easy to enjoy.
• Choose an album that fits your budget and aesthetic then buy more than you need to you always have a place to easily organize future photos. I like albums that have room to write a caption next to each photo. Choose archival albums if possible. Check out www.exposuresonline.com for a great selection.
Now that you have your albums it’s time to load them up!
• Find a space in your home that you can set up as a photo organizing center-on a spare bed or a buffet table in a spare room. You will also need shoe boxes and post it notes. You can buy inexpensive plastic shoe boxes at a dollar store.
• Sort the photos by year into the shoe boxes labeled with the post its. Don’t worry if your memory is fuzzy. Do the best you can-you can always tweak it later. This is the time to toss any repetitive and bad photos. Just say no to photo clutter!
• Identify events within each year and group those photos together. I think random photos are an event as well. In each year’s album consider having a few pages of random photos of family and friends.
• Load the albums with your sorted picture. Depending on how many photos you have, you may have one album for each year or combine several years in each album.
If albums are not your thing and yourprefer to enjoy your images digitally just follow the steps above but instead of loading up the albums choose a scanning service like www.scandigital.com or www.scancafe.com. For about 25 to 50 cents a photo you’ll receive a disc that you can upload to your computer and organize digitally.
Whichever method you choose you will be creating a visual legacy for your family that will be treasured for years to come.

Keeping your Child’s School Memories

So your kids are back at school or soon to be back at school. One thing is certain, the school year equals a lot of stuff and less time to manage it all. Many of the papers that come home are transient and can be processed and then thrown away. But what about the papers that aren’t so disposable. Artwork and special achievements are the things that tug on our hearts and fill us with pride. While it’s impossible, or just not practical to save everything, it’s important for most of us to save the very special things our children have earned, received or created. The key is to have a system in place to receive the things that are deemed worth saving. A predetermined spot takes the phrase, where do I put this? out of your vocabulary and replaces it with the peace of mind that you can handle and preserve your most precious memories. Here are a few examples of systems that have worked for both me (I use the memory box) and my clients.
Photo books for large artwork. I wish these were around when my daughter first started bringing home her amazing creations full of beans and feathers and lots of white glue. Here is how to preserve the memory without saving the actual artwork: snap a picture of your child with their art each time they bring home a new creation. You not only capture the piece of art but also the pride on the face of your child. At the end of the school year upload your photos to Snapfish or any other service that creates photo books and you have a year of Artwork all in one space saving place. Your child will feel very special. The actual art can be displayed for awhile and then discarded without the guilt. If you already have bins full of old artwork and want to condense them into smaller books simply take the art to an office store that has a print shop, have the pieces scanned and saved digitally. You can make the books from there.
Memory boxes. This is the system that I have used for my daughter and it has worked well for us. Now that she is a teen we love to bring out the box now and then and revisit all the great things that are part of her growing up. We have expanded to two file totes as we filled up the first one at age 8. After that age the things we saved were a lot less bulky. You will need a plastic file tote the size of a banker’s box, hanging files and to make it pretty scrapbook paper. Using the plastic tabs that come with the file folders create a folder for each of the following categories (add anything that is unique to your family or omit ones that are not relevant to you)
Birth, First Year, Second Year, Third Year, Fourth Year, Preshcool, Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, 9th grade, 10th grade, 11th grade, 12th grade, Church, Sports, Cards, Portraits.
Take the scrapbook paper and cut it to fit the front of the box, print out your child’s name in the font of your choice and laminate. Attach it to the front of the tote with super sticky two sided tape, or, just slide it down into the tote in front of the first folder.

Memory Box

Now you have a place to organize keepsakes it’s important to create the habits to keep it going. Designate one place to keep your child’s current year school papers and anything else that might be worth saving. At the end of the year choose which are worthy of the long term memory box and pitch the rest. Some of the things that my client’s save for each school year include; report cards, school photos for that year, achievement certificates, valentines from classmates, small drawings and paintings, letters to and from Santa and anything else deemed special by you or your child.
Binders This is another way to save your child’s academic accomplishments. Simply designate a binder for each school year and use page protectors to preserve school papers, report cards and certificates.

Whether you choose one or all of the methods described here, or create one of your own, the important thing is to have a system in place before the random piles start accumulating in your pantry, closet, drawers and cupboards. If you already have the random piles, don’t worry! Simply set up one of these systems for each child, gather all of the piles, and spend a weekend making a treasure that will last for years to come.

Where Can I Donate My….?

I really like to donate. For those of you who have received my newsletters in the past, you have heard me say over and over to always have a donation bag handy. But what about those items you just don’t want to bring to a generic donation center? It is very important to plan where to donate before you start decluttering. It gives you the peace of mind needed to decide what to let go of and when. Here is a list of some of my favorites. All serve our communities in wonderful ways.

Project Smile collects stuffed animals for emergency responders to distribute to frightened children after fires, accidents and natural disasters.
projectsmile.org

Cell phones for Soldiers collects old and broken cell phones and sells them to a company that recycles them and uses the money to buy calling cards to give to soldiers stationed abroad so that they can call home for free. Go to cellphonesforsoldiers.com to print a free prepaid shipping label.

Onesight accepts prescription glasses, bifocals and nonprescription sunglasses at Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut, Target Optical and Sears optical nationwide. Just look for the marked bin. The Organization provides used glasses as well as free eye-exams to those who can’t afford them. onesight.org

Computer equipment The National Christina Foundation will match your used tech equipment,computer, printer, software, fax machine, monitor, mouse , or any other parts-with and organization near you that needs it. Many are nonprofits that provide training for at risk student or people with disabilities. cristina.org

Furniture The National Furniture Bank Association will pick up and distribute your furniture to families in need. Most accept beds, dressers, nightstands, tables, chairs, sofas and lamps. nationalfurniturebank.org

Medications disposemymeds.org lets you search by zip code for local pharmacies that have take-back programs to help keep potentially harmful pharmaceutical waste and personal -care chemicals out of the environment.

Paint, Tools and Building Supplies Drop them off at your local Habitat for Humanity Restore. Each Restore is different so contact them to find our what they take habitat.org

Sports equipment Gently used sports equipment can help underprivileged children enjoy the fun of sports. Sports gift will refurbish your items and send them to needy children in the United States and abroad.
Sportsgift.org

Shoes Soles 4 Souls provides shoes for those in need around the world. Visit soles4souls.org and enter your zip code to find a donation site near you soles4souls.org

Need extra cash? Here are great ways to lighten your load and fatten your bank account.

Replacements.com buys china, crystal and silver in more than 360,000 patterns.

Gazelle.com buys a wide aray of electronics. from cell phones to Blu ray players.. Simply visit the site to see how much your item is worth and request a prepaid mailing box. Super easy!!

Media exchange 123 buys blu ray discs, CDs, DVDs and video games Simply enter the UPC number to see how much they’ll pay. MX123.com

Recycling Visit Earth911.com to find recycling centers near you.

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. Charitynavigator.org 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.

Organized Habits

Habits are behavioral routines that occur subconsciously. One way to remove a bad habit is to eliminate it’s triggers (change your routine) or add a reminder to do things differently (a bright post it note to yourself). Most homes I work in have one thing in common. Items are placed in many different places around the home until there is a reason to clean up, (like a party). Then items are scooped up in any available container and put in any available space until….? Does this sound familiar? If it does, you have a habit of putting things down and leaving them wherever they land. Most all disorganization stems from this very thing.

Each organized person I know has developed habits that result in a clutter-free home. Here are a few to consider for yourself:
• Put things away as soon as you get home. When you bring something into your home whether it be groceries or anything else you have acquired take the items out of the bag and put them in their proper place. If an item doesn’t yet have an official home, put it in the room where it will be used. Eventually you will have organization just by developing this simple routine.
• Group like things together. Organized people have the habit of keeping likes with likes. When you do this it’s very easy to keep track of what and how much you have. Start doing this in small steps. For example: choose a place you are going to keep something and then whenever you find a like item in a different place you can start to group it in it’s new home.
• Use labels. Organized people use clearly labeled containers that are easily identified. Start organizing your home by getting rid of all the cardboard boxes and paper bags you are using as containers and replace them with clear bins. You can do this a little at a time. As you swap containers, purge any unwanted items.
• Throw away or recycle unwanted paper immediately. Pitch your junk mail before it hits a hard surface in your home. Throw away envelopes and any junk paper that come with your bills or other correspondence. Have a stapler on hand to connect anything with more than one page. Pare down to just the essential paper.
• Clear clutter on a continual basis: Organized people have the habit of letting go of excess on a continual basis. This doesn’t mean that they don’t live in abundance. It simply means that they don’t wait for one day to go through the house and decide what to donate-they have a donation receptacle handy and they do it continuously. They have a natural eye for elimination and usually don’t like the look of visual clutter.
If you incorporate these five habits you will be on your way to an organized life. If you start to group things together, put things away in the room where they are used, donate often and take the phrase ‘I’ll do it later’ out of your vocabulary you will be surprised at the change in your home this time next year.

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.

It’s About Time

Most everyone I talk to about time agrees on one thing, there never seems to be enough of it. Time is a precious, irreplaceable commodity, it cannot be saved, however, it can be managed effectively. Learning how to effectively manage your time is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

Goal setting is an important component of time-management. A goal is a destination. If you don’t know where your going it’s impossible to make a plan to get there. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels perhaps it’s because you’ve lost sight of your goals or not set any at all.

Once you have established your goals, short and long term, the most important thing to remember about managing your time is to PLAN. A plan is the roadmap you’ll use to reach your destination. Remember plans are not written in stone. They are guidelines for accomplishing the things you need to do in an efficient manner. Make it a habit, once a week, to plan for that week. If you work Monday through Friday, a good time to assess the things you want to accomplish for that week might be on Sunday night. There’s a saying, “On paper, off your mind”. The act of writing things down frees your mind of mental clutter and relieves the nagging anxiety that you’re forgetting something. Each day, using your weekly plan as a guide write a to-do list for the day. You can do this in the morning or the evening, whenever your mental clarity is at its peak. If you write your list at night you’ll experience an added benefit, a better night’s sleep.

Your weekly plans and your daily to-do lists act like your very own personal assistant, reminding you of the things you need to get done. Below you’ll find tips to keep in mind while making your plans.

• Avoid writing your lists on small scraps of paper. they’re easily misplaced. Be consistent by keeping your list in a notebook or pad kept in the same location whether it be a designated drawer, your fridge, purse or wallet. I keep my list in my planner so it’s always with me.
• If you’re away from your home or office and want to remember something when you get there, call yourself and leave a voicemail. You can also send yourself reminder emails.
• Prioritize your lists.
• When possible schedule large projects at the beginning of the week and, if necessary, break them down over a period of days. We all tend to procrastinate if something seems too overwhelming. But, you’ll find if you schedule a specific time each day to work on large projects you’ll have the peace of mind that there will be an end. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
• Get the things your dread out of the way first, you’ll feel less stressed throughout the day. So many times we take care of little tasks first and feel overwhelmed when the day is ending and we still have a large project looming in front of us. Smaller tasks are easily rolled over to the next day.
• Group similar items together by day of the week or time of day. You might make all your phone calls on Monday morning or each day between the hours of 9:00a and 10:00a.
• Group errands by geographic area to save driving time.
• Consolidate your errands; back and forth trips are a waste of time. When you go to the supermarket, get gas for the car, get the car washed, stop at the post office and take care of any other quick errands all at the same time.
• Bring the things you have to read with you. If you have down time, at the car wash, a doctor’s office or on a commute you can get the things you need to read out of the way.

Planning is nothing more than thinking before you act. Plan your tasks, your weekly meals, your routes, your schedule and so on. A little bit of planning goes a long way. You’ll waste less time and enjoy more productive, stress-free days. Remember to plan some free time for you!

Organized Bath

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO ON OUR VIDEO PAGE

You deserve a relaxing routine to get ready each day, but if your bathroom is awash in excess products, jumbled towels and unidentified clutter lurking in the deep recesses under your sink its time to tune up your bathroom and shave precious minutes off your daily routine.

Start with a deep clean: Take everything out of your cabinets and take stock of what you have. Let go of expired products, unused bath salts, potpourri and anything else you haven’t looked at in months or years. Here are the lifespans for common bath products:
Anti-aging and acne treatments: Three months to a year. Be on the lookout for any changes in color.
Body lotion: Two to three years, particularly if it’s in a pump container.
Shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel: About three years.
Bath oil: One year.
Sunscreen: Check the package for an expiration date.
Mascara and liquid eyeliner: Three to four months.
Eye and lip pencils: Three to five years.
Lipstick and lip gloss: Two to three years.
Foundation: About two years.
Perfume: About two years.
Nail polish: One year.
Hairstyling products: Three to five years.
Bar soap: Up to three years.
Shaving cream: About two years.
Deodorant: Up to two years.

Dispose of expired medications properly: expired meds and vitamins should not be flushed as they can contaminate the groundwater. Instead, empty them into a ziplock bag filled with coffee grounds, cat litter or sawdust and then throw them away. Controlled substances should be flushed to avoid accidental ingestion. Visit www.fda.gov or www.smartdisposal.net for more disposal details.

Create a warehouse for bulk purchases: a shelf on a nearby linen closet works great for this. (yes, it might be time to let go of excess linens too). If you don’t have a linen closet available consider a shelf in a spare bedroom. If this isn’t available then bulk purchases might not be a good fit for you. Unclutter your cabinets by only keeping one of each product you use in the bathroom. When you need to replenish, visit your warehouse. When the warehouse is getting low, it’s time to shop.

Discard bulky packaging: store like things together in labeled bins

Create more horizontal surface space: Use containers that fit around the pipes under your sink to coral things like towels, bath tissue and an products that you have to store under the sink. If you can pull one container out instead of several different items it will make cleaning and storage so much easier.

Keep everyday essentials handy: when you’re standing at the sink the things you use daily should be at arms length. Move your medicines and vitamins from the medicine cabinet to the kitchen or a nightstand, (the bathrooms high humidity and heat can affect potency, especially that of antibiotics). Use the medicine cabinet for your daily products like deodorant, skincare and toothpaste.

Use drawer dividers to keep drawers neat. You can separate a lot of bathroom necessities by dividing and conquering. i like individual drawer organizers that customize the drawer to your needs. To keep them from shifting use museum gel, (found at The Container Store)

Create caddies for things that may be used elsewhere: This works well for manicure tools and nail care.

Keep daily makeup convenient: separate the makeup you use everyday from the make up you use occasionally. If you travel it’s easy just to grab the bag and go. Check out the uniipalette at www.uniipalette.com. Easy and Fun!

Use magnets: Attach magnets to the inside of your medicine cabinet to hold nail clippers and tweezers to the inside of the door.

Use over the door shoe bags: these are great for hair accessories like headbands, flowers, large clips. Great if you have young girls in your home.

Once you’ve defined your bathroom the key is to maintain it. The first rule, don’t overbuy!! If you do switch brands, get rid of the old brands rather than let them expire unused. Throw away expired products and medicines at least once a year.

Repurpose. Replenish. Renew. Restore. Relax.