5 Quick Tips to Stay Organized

stay organizedThe biggest struggle my clients have is being able to stay organized after our sessions. While organizing their space, I teach them strategies to keep the room organized. I usually check in on them about 30 days after we finish to see how those strategies are working for them. If it’s not going well, we’ll tweak some things to tailor it to the family’s way of doing things.

Here are a few strategies I use and teach to stay organized:

  • Take notes. Taking notes is a great way to stay organized. Whether you choose to use pen and paper or your phone to keep track of things, make sure you use it. When something comes up on your schedule, immediately put it on your calendar. If there is something you need to do or purchase for an event, mark that down in your calendar to do it a week before. Example: Your child has a birthday party to attend in 2 weeks and you will need to purchase a gift. Mark the date and address of the party on your calendar and then one week before the party, write “Purchase a card and birthday gift for ______”. This will eliminate the stress of running out to buy a last-minute gift on the way to the party. Notes can be used for everything from grocery lists to your everyday to-do list. Creating lists will allow your mind to rest because now it doesn’t have to keep reminding itself of the things that need to get done.
  • Create routines to help you stay organized. Examples would be to make your bed each morning, place your keys on a hook or on a tray, pay bills on the 1st and 15th, change and wash the sheets every Saturday, leave your shoes at the door.
  • Plan out your meals. Planning out weekly meals will definitely help you stay organized. You will first have to create a grocery list and then purchase the needed items. If done correctly, you shouldn’t need to go to the grocery store for the rest of the week. Planning your meals will reduce the stress of having to decide “what’s for dinner” each night as well as help you save some serious money.
  • Use an in-box. Another way to help you stay organized is to designate a place to store an in-box. Place incoming mail, permission slips and any other forms that need attention here and go through it once a week. When you go through the box, place the paper wherever it is destined to go: sign permission slips and put them in backpacks, place bills into the “bill pay” file, etc. Only touch items from the in-box once.
  • Create a schedule for daily cleaning touch-ups. If you are able to work in a little cleaning each day, it will eliminate the need to spend a whole day (or week!) cleaning the house and you will feel more in control.

These are just a few of the strategies I teach my clients. The interesting thing is that one strategy may work for a few clients but not others. It is important to remember that if one strategy doesn’t work for you, don’t give up, just try something new. Following or tweaking these strategies can help you become and stay organized once and for all.

I’m curious to know: What strategies do you use to stay organized? Respond in the comments below. We’d love to know! :)

 

**photo credit: www.livesimplybyannie.wordpress.com

5 Tips to Control Clutter

5 tips to control clutterAn interesting thing about clutter is that it creeps up on you. It doesn’t magically appear one day; it took time to become clutter. Think about each and every time you used something and didn’t put it back where it belonged, or you purchased something you really didn’t need. If you didn’t need it, then it never really had a specific place in your home. That’s how clutter begins.

Here are some tips to help you control clutter in your home.

  1. The best advice I can give to control clutter is to perform daily maintenance. It doesn’t have to be an all-day affair, just a few minutes each day. It really only takes about 15-20 minutes per day. You can use this time to focus on one specific area or the entire house. If you take the time to put items back where they belong, it will help you start your day off right. You will know where to find the things you need and you’ll be able to get out the door faster.
  2. The next tip I have to control clutter is to put things away after you are finished using them. I know it is so tempting to just leave that glass on the table and move on to other things, but if you take the time to put the glass into the dishwasher, that will be one less thing for you to do when you perform your 15 minute daily maintenance. Have everyone in the home practice this tip, so you are not the only one putting stuff away.
  3. Don’t bring anything new into the house until you know exactly where its home will be. If you are about to purchase something and can’t figure out where you will put it when you get home, leave it in the store. If it is something you really think you need, go home first and find a place for it, then go back and get it. You may have to get rid of something or move items to other rooms, but any new item must have a designated place in your home before it enters.
  4. Regularly purge the items you own. If you set up specific times of the year to purge, it will be easier to remember. For example, when you perform your fall and spring cleaning, that would be a good time to purge clothing, shoes, toys, and linens. Make a note of any new items you will need to purchase to replace the purged items. The fun part about this tip is that you get to go shopping!
  5. Before birthdays and holidays, ask your children to donate a specific number of toys/books/items that they no longer want and take the kids with you when you donate them. This will help teach your children the spirit of giving, but it will also free up room for the new items that will be coming.

I could go on and on about ways to control clutter, but if you begin implementing these 5 tips, you will be well on your way to controlling the clutter in your home.

If you have any other tips to control clutter, feel free to leave them in the comments below. :)

**Image courtesy of varandah at FreeDigitalPhotos.net**

10 Items on Sale in April

items on sale in AprilThe following items generally go on sale in April. You should be able to find deep discounts on these items this month.

  • Jewelry- Just in time for Mother’s Day!
  • Gardening tools and supplies
  • Electronics
  • Kitchen cookware
  • Gym memberships  😉
  • Spring Clothing
  • Winter clothing on clearance
  • Bedding
  • Spring produce
  • Major appliances like refrigerators and ovens

If you have any other deals to add to the items that will be on sale in April, let me know in the comments below!

**photo creditKrazyCouponLady**

Declutter First-Organize Later

declutter then organizeOn many occasions when I’m called in to organize a room in a client’s home, he/she expects me to swoop in and immediately begin organizing. After assessing the situation and asking a few key questions, they are quite surprised to find out that our first task is to declutter.

Once we remove the clutter that is taking up valuable space, we are then able to clearly see what needs to be organized. It’s usually a slow-go for my clients in the beginning as they are unwilling to part with their items at first, but once they get going, watch out! I love when we reach this point because the organizing process will go much quicker. :)

If you are looking to declutter a few rooms or your entire house, my advice is to take it slow. Tackle one room at a time and try to complete that room in one day. If you stop and say you’ll come back to it tomorrow, you probably won’t and the whole process will be stalled. If you stick with it and finish the job in one day, you will feel enough satisfaction to continue to other rooms.

I also suggest that you declutter all of the rooms before organizing. This way, as you’re going through the process, you can mentally note (or jot down) what organizing solutions you will need.

Let’s go through the process to take when you are ready to declutter your home:

  • Pick a room.
  • Grab a trash bag and a box and pick up every item in the room one by one. Ask yourself if this is something you LOVE. If not, place it into the trash bag or box to donate. I only believe in two categories when sorting: 1) Donate and 2) Trash.  You should only have things in your home that bring you joy.  Fill your home with things that make you smile.
  • I don’t recommend boxing up items to see if you’ll need them later. In my opinion, that is still considered clutter because it’s taking up valuable space in your home and you’ll need to deal with its contents at a later date. I believe you should deal with an item only once.
  • If you are focusing on a closet, remove everything from the closet and replace only what you intend to keep.
  • If you are working in your kitchen, create zones: drawers, upper cabinets, lower cabinets, pantry. Work with only one zone at a time. This will keep you from getting overwhelmed. Take everything out of that zone and really ask yourself if you need, use or love that item before putting it back.
  • When working in kid’s rooms, declutter the oldest child’s room first. Examine every toy and article of clothing to determine if your child has outgrown it. If so, and you have younger children that could use it, feel free to pass it down to them. This is the only time I allow you to put items in a box for later. You’ll go through it more in depth when you reach the younger child’s room. Repeat the process for each child. When you get to the youngest and you have toys and clothing that they have outgrown, place them in the box to donate.
  • If you pick up items that belong elsewhere in your home, put it there now. If there are children at home with you when you are going through this process, ask them to help returning items to specific rooms.
  • Remember that it is ok to get rid of gifts and mementos if they no longer give you joy or make you smile. The point is that it made you happy for a period of time, but you are now ready to welcome new items into your life that will bring you joy now. You will probably feel a sense of relief after letting items go that no longer bring you joy.
  • If there is a thick layer of dust on an item, that is a sign that it hasn’t been touched or admired recently and may need to go.
  • Once you feel like you have finished with the room and cannot declutter it anymore, kick back and find a small way to celebrate! In the future, remember that anything that comes into the room/house must be something you LOVE and makes you smile. Remembering this will help keep your home clutter-free!

For my clutter-free friends: What additional tips can you offer to those who are looking for quick and easy ways to declutter their homes? Feel free to comment-We’d love to know! :)

**Photo: bhg.com**

FREE Dave Ramsey Budgeting Tool

Budgeting Tool Dave RamseyDave Ramsey just released a FREE budgeting tool called Every Dollar. This new tool helps you create a budget in less than 10 minutes. Just set up a new account and you’re off!

Prior to learning about this tool, I was budgeting my money the old-fashioned way. However, I am always eager to try new things to see if my system can be improved.

I tried out Dave’s new budgeting tool and was immediately impressed! It was very quick and easy to create an account and I was up and running in no time. It’s very easy on the eye and user friendly. It’s nothing fancy, but it looks like it will help you keep track of your expenses during the month.

To use the tool, you would enter the amount of money you are expecting to receive that month and then enter in your expenses. As you enter your expenses, a running tally lets you know how much money you have left to spend. The objective is to reach zero-where your income minus your expenses equals zero. Dave calls this a “Zero Based Budget”.

Many account expense names are already inserted for you and you can add any that are special to your circumstances. The accounts are grouped into categories like: Savings, Housing, Transportation, Food, Lifestyle, etc. There’s also a handy chart that shows you the percentages so you can see where most of your money is going.

Other features include a Baby Steps tracker so you can keep track of where you are in his 7 Baby Steps program. The seven baby steps are: 1) Save $1000 2) Pay off debt 3) Save 3-6 months in your emergency fund 4) Invest 15% for retirement 5) Save for college 6) Pay off the mortgage 7) Build wealth and give.

My husband and I have been following Dave Ramsey’s plan for a few years and we are nicely chugging along and making progress every day. His book, Total Money Makeover, is a great resource to begin with if you’re unfamiliar with Dave Ramsey and his philosophy.

The Every Dollar budgeting tool can be downloaded as a free iPhone app.

So far I am enjoying Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar budgeting tool. Only time will tell if I’ll still be using it in a few months or if I’ll revert back to my old ways! 😉

Have you tried this budgeting tool? If so, would you recommend it? If not, what method do you use to track your income and expenses? Let me know in the comments below! :)