My efficiency rate goes up 110% when I use the United States Postal Service

USPSlogoHow many of you have something that you need to return to a friend, check to send in to school or maybe something that you wanted to give someone that you have in your car (or maybe sitting by that back door) that you keep forgetting to take care of?  I used to chronically forget to drop things off or send into school with the kids so a few years ago I started to rely on the good old USPS to help me get things done.  For the cost of a stamp I can get so many things off of my “to do” list, it’s scary (and wildly efficient).  Think about it – you need to send a check to a friend to reimburse them for something… you write the check out at home and then put it into an envelope anyway – why not just address it and put it in the mailbox – poof, it’s off your list!  The alternative is that you put it in the envelope which goes into your handbag or briefcase or your car where it gets lost – you can see where I’m going with this… your “to do” list never gets anything crossed off… So, the moral of the story goes: just put a stamp on it and get it done!

Are you a stamp & send kind of person like me or is your car full of things that are in need of being returned or dropped off?!

Easiest disaster plan you can make: Fire Proof Safe

Sentry - Fire Proof Safe.jpgWhen it comes to documentation the best suggestion that I have is a fire resistant safe.  These are available at your local office supply store and are really worth the investment.  I’m not suggesting that you keep all bank statements, investment statements, etc. in the fire proof safe but it would be a great idea to keep your account numbers as well as photo copies of the front & back of your credit cards in here in case you lose your wallet.  At the very least your fireproof safe should contain the following items:

  • A folder for each member of your household that holds passports, birth certificates, medical information & anything else that is of importance that you might need.  I would include one for pets as well.
  • Titles to all vehicles that you own
  • House/Mortgage paperwork
  • Photos that have been backed up onto CD’s or thumb drives – have recent photos of your house (inside & out) in case you need to show or remember what might be lost for insurance purposes
  • Appraisals from any artwork or jewelry
  • Anything else of importance to you – genealogy information, photos that are irreplaceable, precious letters from loved ones, etc.

The purpose of the fire proof safe is to hold documentation that can help make you “whole again” should disaster happen in your life.  Think of the things that you would need to get a new driver’s license, credit cards, etc. and use that as a gauge.  Depending on the size of your safe you can put more personal items in there as well.

These are heavy so bear in mind that worst case is that you open it up, grab these items and go but either way, you’re out the door in a hurry and are able to get you and your family to safety which is the most important thing.

Do you have a disaster plan?

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Adapt to your space, rather than changing the habit

When living with your family (especially those with small children) I have found that it is best to adapt to the space rather than “training” your family to use an area in a way that they are not presently doing so.  A classic example is the front hall of your home.

Our family gets together in northern Michigan for a week or two in August every summer.  The Grandkids all kick off their flip-flops the minute they walk in the door. Now, we could implement a strategy to have them take their shoes to their rooms but that isn’t likely to work. Our solution was to put a big, attractive basket by the door so they can kick their “flippies” into it. Everything is contained.

This could also work for gloves & mittens in the winter or umbrellas in the spring. You could have a small piece of furniture with drawers for mittens and then for spring, purchase an umbrella stand or container so that the umbrellas have a place to be stored near the door.

Small adaptations such as these will make a big difference in how you use an area of your home. It should also hopefully cut down on some of the inevitable arguments that go along with stuff being left in an area where it doesn’t belong.

Do you have an area of your house that could use an adaptation makeover or am I the only one?!

More Isn’t Always Better…

We all get overwhelmed with our own “stuff” so don’t think you are the only one that is over their head. Today’s society is based on how much we can acquire and truth be told, after recently downsizing my family to a smaller home I was amazed at how much “stuff” we had (and I’m the one preaching that less is more…).

After significant soul searching I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s definitely okay to have stuff but just not too much of it. I like to change décor seasonally within my home and found that I’ve got a TON of varying items for all four seasons. Is this necessary? Probably not but I’ve weeded out the items that I haven’t displayed in a year or two and have kept the ones that we like most.

Getting overwhelmed is easy this day and age with stores like Marshall’s and HomeGoods encouraging us to buy more, more, more. The problem lies with where we are going to store it once it’s season has passed… so the next time you’re faced with a purchasing decision remember to ask yourself where will this live when it’s not on display and see if that encourages you to leave it behind rather than take it home.

When are you scheduled for another shopping trip to Marshall’s, HomeGoods or Target?

Rewrite your lists frequently

I love re-writing my task list, it always gives me such a sense of accomplishment to cross off some of the items and then look forward to crossing some of the “new” things off someday too. It also helps to prioritize (or re-prioritize) some of the items on your list too. I’ve mentioned that if you re-write a certain task more than 5 times on a new list that you can probably just delete it altogether since it hadn’t gotten done thus far, how important can it be?

A fresh start always feels good too. Writing out a fresh list on a clean sheet of paper always feels like I’m starting over in some ways. I also encourage you to use cute paper and maybe a clipboard or fun notepad that you like to record your tasks. It makes the mundane a little more fun (and as I always say, just because it’s practical doesn’t mean it can’t be cute)!

Don’t forget Vertical Space

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My clients hear me refer to “valuable real estate” when mapping out the best way to organize their space. We need to maximize the space that they have and work with what we’ve got, it doesn’t stop at counter space or work surfaces, walls help too!

 Putting files “upright” instead of flat will give you about 8.5 x 11 more inches of space, yup, that’s right!  Another bonus is that you will have it more visible in case you need to find it in a hurry. You can see it easily sitting up instead of just in a pile.

One of my favorite wall pockets are either the copper or wooden ones from Ballard Designs. I’ve had mine for about 8 years and they look just as awesome as the day they showed up on my doorstep. In all honesty, this is a must have for me now, not sure what I’d do without them. Everyone has a pocket, one for each of the kiddos, one for receipts, one for pending projects and one for travel. I can put paperwork in there and know that when I need it, I’ll be able to find it in no time.

So, when you’re running out of work surface, look up!  See if you can utilize the space on the wall around you or just stack things on their sides and see how much more space you can open up as a result. Let me know how it goes, I’d love to hear if this worked for you!

When was the last time you looked up?!

Don’t get discouraged…

I love the Chinese Proverb that says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” This can be applied to so many things but in particular I like to apply it to getting organized. If it took a while to get messy, I’m afraid to say it’s going to take a while to get yourself back on your feet and organized someday.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to take small steps and be sure to reward yourself frequently. Even if it’s just sitting for a cup of tea and watching your favorite TV show in the afternoon after an organizing session, whatever works and whatever makes you happy, I’m all for it!

Take your time, it’s well worth the effort in the long run but don’t be a “weekend warrior” organizer. Instead, just pick up the socks and dirty laundry off the floor of your closet and make a conscious effort to make sure you don’t just throw it on the floor at the end of the day. Sometimes it’s just that simple or as the proverb says, just that first small step will show you how to move forward towards a more organized life (and ultimately a more efficient lifestyle)…

Be honest… are YOU a weekend warrior?