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?!

Rome wasn’t built in a Day

I don’t want to be a downer but I’ll tell you the truth… it took you awhile to get disorganized so I’m afraid it’s going to take you awhile to get it back in shape. Don’t let that stop you though, if you do something small every day (clean out one drawer at a time) before you know it you will not only be more organized but you’ll be organized in the best way possible… by making new habits!

You’ve heard me talk about “weekend warrior organizers” who are the kind that go to The Container Store buy everything in sight and then bring it home only to realize that you are overwhelmed by the project and give up before they even started. Instead, take a little bit at a time and you will be so much better off in the long run, trust me.

When we ran our very first Organizing Boot Camp the first assignment was to clean out your junk drawer. I still get comments on how our enlistees still feel awesome each time they open that drawer (wherever it is) because it’s organized and they can find things easily.

So, the moral of the story is: just do a little at a time and keep up with me for more ideas and inspiration!

To digitize or not to digitize?

I am often asked whether or not someone should “upgrade” to keeping their contact information, calendars, etc. on their computer or PDA vs. having an address book or physical calendar.  My response is always the same, everyone is different and it really all depends on how & why you might want to make the change. When I switched over to a Palm Pilot my son was just a baby and that was over 13 years ago and I remember it being a pretty major decision and this was long before Blackberries & iPhones too. So I guess people consider me somewhat “in the know” which is why they ask but I would like you to keep this in mind, I’m not an expert, these are just suggestions and as I mentioned before, everyone is different.

PDA vs. Address Book

 PDA Pros:

  • Always with you
  • can be “backed up”
  • would allow you to finally have labels for your holiday cards

PDA Cons:

  • can be lost if not backed up
  • information has to be input


Outlook vs. AOL/Yahoo, etc.

Outlook is a database program, not an online email host such as AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, etc. I have used Outlook for as long as I can remember. It keeps my Contacts up to date as well as our family calendar. Online email systems to the best of my knowledge don’t let you manage a “database” per se, it does keep your email addresses and any other information you want to keep but it ends there. If you want to use that information (for Holiday labels for example) you’d need to download them into a program such as Excel and then format a mail merge from there.

Programs such as Outlook also manage your calendar which is essential when you have a busy household such as ours. One of the things that I love about having our calendar digital is that when I put an event into it I can set it to “recur” or remind me that they are coming up. In the fall we have football practice every Tuesday, Thursday & Friday. I only have to input it once and then set it to “recur” which will automatically input the dates throughout the entire time that I set it to (mid-November). Another thing that I love about it is that I can color code the events. Each of my family members has a color and then we also have a “household” color as well which indicates that we’re all involved in something coming up.

Okay, this is something that baffles me. I’ve read many organizing magazines articles, books, etc. and none have suggested the following: PRINT your calendar so that your family can keep up with what is going on. You don’t have to use a white board and write everything down (again), that is a huge time commitment every week and it also allows for conflicts in the schedule, you should never have more than one calendar, that’s only asking for trouble.

Printing out the calendar also serves another purpose, it takes the pressure off of the one in charge of getting everyone everywhere they need to be… when everyone can see what is going on then they know that they have soccer practice, a recital for their brother or sister or an upcoming date night or other social obligation.

Paper vs. PDF’s

I am in both camps on this one. It is very difficult to get rid of paper altogether but it’s definitely not impossible. 4 in 1 printers with scanners and devices such as the NeatDesk scanner make saving your documents easy and will also serve another purpose, it will make you think about what you want to scan first… do you really need that piece of paper anyway?

Quicken vs. Writing Checks

Another item that I am asked about a lot is whether or not to use banking programs such as Quicken or Quickbooks. I can’t remember the last time I handwrote a check when paying the bills. Quicken/Quickbooks can integrate with your banking online which can make reconciliation (balancing your checkbook) easy.

People worry that when they order checks for their printer that they won’t be able to keep them with them which isn’t true. I suggest that they keep an extra check or two in their wallet which means they don’t have to carry around a checkbook anymore at all (yippee)!

Going digital is a very personal decision and not one to be made quickly. Even now in 2012 some of my friends still use a physical calendar rather than their PDA. Both have their advantages & you can’t go wrong either way.

Are you all digital & paperless yet?

Decluttering 101

When you are de-cluttering and picking up many objects that are taking up a lot of space in your world ask yourself a few questions in order to figure out whether or not it is something you still need (or want):

  1. Do you need this item anymore?
  2. Do you love this particular item?
  3. Does this item make you feel better (or worse)?
  4. Does this object reflect who you are now or is it something you might be striving for?

I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t keep anything in order to “punish” yourself (jeans that are 2 sizes too small, the sofa table that you hated the minute it was delivered, etc.). Life is too short & you should be surrounded by items that make you happy.

See what you can do today to make your space more comfortable and a true reflection of YOU!

Let me know how it goes, I’d love to hear from you…