Confessions of a Professional Organizer: Part 1

Filed under: Articles,Office,Uncategorized — Colleen at 9:25 am on Thursday, January 10, 2013

I’ve got a secret.  And it’s hiding in this LARGE bin.

As a professional organizer, I’m an advocate of minimizing clutter, of going through your papers, of making everything you own orderly so that you can put your hands on it right when you need it.

But this bin demonstrates that I, too, avoid certain projects.

Housed inside this huge tub is all the memorabilia I have saved from my kids.   Artwork from school.  Performance booklets.  Drawings.  Their first attempts at writing.  Certificates. Etc, etc, etc.   I think I keep telling myself, “One bin for 4 kids, that’s not too bad!”.  However, what really bugs me about the bin is that it houses all the things that I (at one point or another) thought was priceless.  Is this the way to store it?  All thrown in one bin?  Not even organized by child? (gasp)  Or by year? (double gasp)

I’ve been avoiding the task for a couple reasons.  The primary reason is that I’m a perfectionist.  You know, that “all or none” mentality.  “If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right!”.  And so it sits.  The emotional element also makes it challenging.   My babies (10, 8, 5, and 3) are growing up.  Yes, they are still young, but I know that looking at what my 10 year old made at age 3, will be a reminder at how fast my 3 year old will be 10!

So today is the day.  I’m embracing the attitude “Good and done is better than none! ” Today, I will confront this bin.  And I’ll post my progress as I go!

To aide in making this project successful, I’ve started by doing my normal morning routine, straightening the first floor.  I know that I will need a calm space to take breaks so I have a nice area to escape to that won’t distract me when I take breaks.   I’ve also set up a work space in my basement so I can have a flat surface to work on and so that I can be near my kids as they play.   I’ve set up oldest child who is home sick today, with TV, snacks, and drinks.

Oh, and I’ve got the coffee going!

Here goes nothing!

Revamping your New Year’s resolutions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Colleen at 8:21 pm on Tuesday, January 8, 2013

We are 8 days into the New Year!  How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?

Has the dust even settled enough from the Holidays to even think about resolutions?

Getting more organized is a popular resolution.    But it is also lofty.  How does one get “organized” or “more organized”.  When do you know that you’ve actually met your goal?

A good resolution, like any goal, needs to be measurable.  Take some time to think about areas of your life that you want to be more organized.  Reflect on why it is important to you.  How does disorder impact your life?  Are you late for work?  Are you unable to entertain or to allow your kids to have friends over?  Do you feel stressed in your environment and are taking it out on others?  Does it impact your ability to focus and accomplish your goals?  Is it preventing you from making positive changes in your life?

Now that you know your motivation, think of some specific, measurable goals that you help you achieve your vision for a simplified life.

Here are some suggestions:

1.  Start a load of wash everyday when I make the coffee.

2.  Do the dishes every night before bed.

3.  Put the laundry away as soon as it is folded.

4.  File papers once a week.

5.  Purge cluttered areas for 15 minutes a day.

6.  Get rid of 2 items in your home every time you purchase 1 new item.

Focus on just one or two measurable goals and as they become part of your new habit, you can add more.  (But first celebrate that you ARE getting more organized!)

Wishing you much success in your organizing goals in 2013!

~Colleen

Conquering the paper monster…my progress

Filed under: Articles,Office,Uncategorized — Colleen at 5:05 pm on Monday, January 7, 2013

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found it hard to get started on this month’s mission. I’ve been on a different mission, “putting away Christmas”, purging some of my decorations, packing them up, and using the found space to rearrange my home.

As I rearrange things, I’ve been sorting and purging. I’ve really caught the organizing bug! (Yes, I know I’m a professional organizer, but I don’t always have the same excitement or energy to organize MY home as I do with a fresh space such as YOURS!)

Putting away the holiday decor and rearranging and getting my 4 kiddos back to the normal routine has occupied my time. However, today I did it. I started to slay the paper monster.

Papers took the back burner while Santa was burning the midnight oil, so today I pulled out my “active” papers and purged. There’s more I want to do, but my workspace is again clear. And that in itself is energizing me to get started on the next project!

I ended up digitalizing a lot of my important papers. I’ve been using Genius Scan on my IPhone for about a year now. With the snap of a button, it scans your papers. It really is a fantastic app. I use in a lot for my business. But now I’m starting to use it more to manage my household.

With 4 young kids, important papers tend to walk off. So today I quickly scanned those important documents. I saved each document by category or by child (whichever made the most sense). Now in each of my kid virtual files I have their class phone lists and activity schedules. Now as long as I have my phone (or access to a computer as the paid version allows you to save the information on cloud services such as Dropbox), I have access to all the key details of our crazy schedule as as family of 6.

I’ll be keeping the paper versions in the house for the kids to reference, but now if they walk off it will not inconvenience me.

I think that makes me the victor in Round 1 of Colleen vs. the Paper Monster.

As seen in Central Penn Parent Magazine!

Filed under: Articles,Uncategorized — Colleen at 2:36 pm on Saturday, January 5, 2013

I’m thrilled to be included in the month’s issues of Central Penn Parent Magazine.   January is a great time to get more organizing, so be sure to check it out!

Here’s the link to read more organizing tips from me and other experts.  It’s on pages 28-29.

Day 12: The 12 Days of Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Colleen at 9:37 am on Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wow, we made it to the last day! How did you do? What did you accomplish? What is still left on your list?

Today we are wrapping up by cleaning and clearing our laundries and bathrooms. Here are some tips to make it happen!

Today is also the day to finalize our advent calendar activities as we discussed on Day 1.   I always try to have a few very easy activities such as “drink hot chocolate” or “cut out snowflakes”, so that if something comes up and the day is hectic, I switch the activity I have planned and since my kids open the activity envelope each day, they don’t even know when a change has been made!  Remember, the point is to not get wrapped up in the Christmas chaos and forget to do those things that make it feel like Christmas to you and the things that you want your kids to remember about Christmas.

I just saw that my gym is hosting a Toys for Tots collection.  I’m now thinking of putting money in the activity envelope and taking the kids shopping to buy gifts for the needy.   I’m also finding a ton of cool stuff to make on Pinterest, so I need to narrow my activities down to those that will enhance the holidays and those that will realistically get done without adding stress!

Today’s the day to drop off your bags of donations!

Happy Organizing and Happy Holidays!!!

Colleen

Day 11: The 12 Days of Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Colleen at 9:37 am on Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Today’s mission is fun, but don’t do it on an empty stomach.  Today we are planning the FOOD part of the holiday.  I plan on making a Pinterest board of just the food that I hope to make over the Holiday.  This will be different from the Pinterest board that I have for Christmas, because this board will be my “A list” recipes.  These are the ones that I will realistically make this year.  I’m hoping to not just include the side dishes I’ll be bringing to pot-luck meals, but also the cookies I’ll be baking!

If you aren’t into Pinterest, spend some time pulling out your favorite Holiday recipes so that you will have them at your fingertips!

Don’t forget to fill a bag to donate and freeze a dish for December!

Bon Appetite!

Colleen

Day 7: The 12 Days of Thanksgiving

Filed under: Articles,Holidays,Uncategorized — Colleen at 8:26 am on Saturday, November 17, 2012

Today we are getting ready for the holidays by making a gift wrapping station.

Gather all your holiday wrapping paper.   Inventory your supplies.  Do you have gift bags, tissue paper, wrapping paper, gift tags, scissors,  tape, and an assortment of boxes?  If not, make a list of what you need.  (And don’t forget the list when we do our shopping day tomorrow!)

Decide where a good place would be to wrap your gifts.  If you have a spare bedroom, you may be able to set up a temporary table to wrap gifts.  If you are short on space, consider using an under the bed storage bin to house all your supplies.  You can then easily pull it all out when you need it.  If you have room under a couch, you may also be able to slide your supplies under there.

Don’t forget that kids remember wrapping paper!  If there are believers in your house, be sure to have a different wrapping paper for Santa to use.  And find a good hiding place!

Don’t forget to fill a bag for donations today and freeze a meal if you are cooking!

Happy Organizing!

Colleen

Day 6: The 12 Days of Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Colleen at 12:34 pm on Friday, November 16, 2012

Wow, we’re halfway finished!  How is it going?

Today we are cleaning and clearing our kitchens.  Get those stains off your kitchen counter and sink!  Clean your microwave and refrigerator!  Wipe down your cabinets!  Purge your kitchen gear and take inventory of your food on hand.  What baking items do you need to stock up on and what to you have plenty of?

For tips on organizing your kitchen, click here.

Just one week until Thanksgiving!

Happy Organizing!

Colleen

Day 4: The 12 Days of Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Colleen at 9:51 am on Wednesday, November 14, 2012

If you are just joining us, read the overview here.

Today is the day to clean and clear your living spaces.   Deep clean your living spaces and get rid of the clutter.  Now is the time to do those little things you keep meaning to do.  Update your framed pictures.  Rearrange the furniture.  Discover what is under your couch!

Here are  tips to help you with your living areas!

Don’t forget to fill a bag to donate and double a dinner dish to store in your freezer for those busy December days!

Happy Organizing!

Colleen

Happy Organizing!

Colleen

Day 3: The 12 Days of Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Colleen at 8:52 am on Tuesday, November 13, 2012

If you are just joining us, read the overview here.

Today we are making our gift lists.  Jot down who you will be shopping for this season.  Include your family, friends, co-workers, school staff, neighbors, and any domestic helpers you may have.  Start to consider your budget for each gift.

Overwhelmed by what you need to get this year?  Consider changing some of your gift-giving traditions.  Is there a group on your list that  could start a Pollyanna or Secret Santa exchange instead of exchanging individually?  Are there people on your list for whom you could make some home gifts? Or perhaps you could start a new tradition?  Last year, my neighbor and I stopped exchanging gifts and instead went out to dinner.   I really enjoyed that meaningful time with her more than any gift we had ever exchanged.

App lover that I am, I found a Christmas list app that I’m trying this year.  I love how it tallies what you have spent as you go.  And it allows me to see what I’ve spent on each kid too!  Here it is:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/better-christmas-list/id295466005?mt=8

After you make your list for others, spend some time thinking about what you and your family would like to receive this year.  While it is the season of giving- not receiving,- inevitably people will ask you for ideas.   Sharing ideas with others allows you to minimize the clutter coming into your home.  It also allows Santa to scale back a bit if other members of your family purchase some of “must have” items.   I’m always a big fan of “experience” gifts.  I’ll often ask for memberships to museums or the Hershey Gardens, so my family can enjoy the gift all year long.

Happy Organizing!

Colleen

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