Piles on the Stairs: Proceed with Caution

The other day, I put a couple of papers on the stairs to take up with me next time I go up.  I told my husband that’s why I put them there.  Then he asked a very sensible question: “Should we get a basket to collect things on the stairs?”


Right now, those papers are intruders on the stairs. They are the only things there, and they don’t belong. I’ve made a pact with myself that if something is on the stairs, I MUST take it up with me the next time I go.  But, if there is a basket there, I know that things will begin to “live” in the basket.  The basket gives those papers, socks, gadgets, etc. permission to be on the stairs. Once things have permission to be there, the longer they will stay. read more

Getting the Most Out of a Professional Seminar

Whether your attending a professional development seminar for your job or a presentation about a personal interest, I wanted to share with you some of the things I do to get the most out of my investment of time and money.

1. Bring a way to take notes, whether that be a paper and pen or your laptop.  You will be bombarded with ideas and new information during the seminar, and you will never be able to remember it all.

2.  As you take notes, focus on the following:

  • Quotes/Key ideas – Capture the little “nuggets” that you want to take away, remember, and share with others
  • Ideas to Try – You’re not commiting to anything here, but if you hear a new idea that you may want to try back at work (or wherever), write it down.
  • Resources/Products – Hear of something that will make your job easier?  Learn of a new company that provides a relevant service?  Write it down!

3. Bring a drink and some snacks to keep you alert as the day goes on. read more

Creating a Home Mail Center

We may not be sending handwritten letters to our friends anymore, but there’s always something still in the mailbox.  I wanted to give you three tips on how to create a home mail processing center.

1. Assign a home for incoming mail.  Whether it’s the corner of the table in the hallway or a paper tray on your kitchen counter, you need a specific, designated spot for the mail once it comes into your home.  Nothing else lives in that spot. Whether you process your mail daily, weekly, or whenever you get around to it, at least you know ALL the mail is right there waiting for you. read more

Creating a Morning Ritual to Start the Day Off Right

I love my sleep, but I’ve discovered that I really love having time for a little morning quiet time before getting ready for work.

When the alarm goes off (a little earlier than it used to), I get up, put on my bathrobe, and sit in my chair by the window. It’s dark outside, but as I sit there for about 20-30 minutes, I can see the sky start to lighten. During these dark winter mornings, I turn on my “Happy Light” (like this one) and bask in the blue light as I let my brain slowly wake up. I read a brief daily thought in a favorite book (currently, this one) and prepare myself for the day.  I’ve found that allowing myself time to have this little ritual each day makes a difference in my resilience. read more

New Job, New Desk, Whose System? Easy Office Organizing for YOU.

Have you ever started a new job and “inherited” a desk and its previous owner’s organizational system?  It’s like wearing someone else’s glasses. Maybe you can get by for a bit, but then you get a really bad headache.

When you start a new job, there’s lots to learn. Organizing your desk may not be a high priority at first, but the sooner you organize for YOU, the more efficient you’ll become.

Your desk is your command central. You want your desk to be organized according to the way YOU think and work. read more

Keeping Track of Books: LibraryThing.com

My husband is a librarian and a scholar at heart. He has lots of books.

I have my own collection of books, including a large selection of children’s books to use in my preschool classroom.

Our family loves LibraryThing.

LibraryThing is a  website where you can catalog books. Here are some ways you can use it:

  • My husband has cataloged his entire personal library. This helps him keep from buying duplicates.
  • I tag all my children’s books according to theme. Then when it’s time to get books about fish, I can search my own collection quickly. No need to refamiliarize myself with what’s on my bookshelf.
  • Whenever I find a children’s book that I love, even if I don’t own it, I put it in LibraryThing and tag it with the theme. Then I don’t need to do a catalog search at the public library next time I need to find that cute book about manners.
  • I often hear about books I’d like to read someday. When that happens, I hop on LibraryThing, search for the title or author, add it to my catalog, and tag it “Books to Read.”
  • I’ve heard of people also using LibraryThing to keep track of which books they’ve loaned out.

LibraryThing has a social media component so you can connect with people who are reading the same things you are. You can explore other people’s catalogs and read people’s reviews. I haven’t taken advantage of these features, but they are there. read more

Book Preview: The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard

At the end of our last organizing session together, a dear client gave me a parting gift.  It was the book The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communtities, and Our Health – And a Vision for Change by Annie Leonard.

I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m really excited to find a book that addresses the environmental issues that lurk behind the organization/consumption issues that so many of my clients struggle with.  I’m especially looking forward to the “vision for change” that the author incorporates into the book. read more

Time Management: Start at the TOP of Your To Do List

There are lots of things you start at the top, for example:

  1. Ice cream cones
  2. Writing letters
  3. Washing windows

And when the To Do list just looks too daunting, that’s where I start – at the top.

It’s tempting to look at the To Do list like a buffet menu. Which would be good to do first? And which do I feel like doing next?

But when nothing on the To Do list seems appealing, I’ve found that simply starting at the top and working my way down is the best way to actually get things checked off. Otherwise I just keep looking at the list and debating where to start. read more

Home Organizing: Board Games

I recently met a family who has dozens and dozens of board games that they like to play with friends. The problem is that when they want to play, they can’t remember what all their choices are.

So I suggested two things:

1.  Keep all the board games together. Currently, the games are stored in at least four different locations. Bringing them all together will ultimately make them easier to find and, therefore, to enjoy.

2. Create a visual catalog of the games. Use a digital camera or the internet to get photos of each game box. Then create a print-out of all the pictures, put them in a binder or folder, and store it with other entertainment options (movies, video games, etc). read more

Basic Organizing: Keeping Track of Your Keys

I confess that I’ve had to work hard at keeping track of my keys.

At home, they always go on the hook right inside the door. That’s worked well for years.  But I’ve had trouble keeping track of my keys when I’m not at home. Just put them in your purse, right?  Well, I have this ginormous bag for work, and I was always losing my keys in its deep recesses. I was always hunting, hunting, hunting for those silly keys.

Here are my solutions for never losing keys:

Assign Keys a Permanent Home in Your BagI assigned one of the outside pockets as the home for my keys.  Nothing else!  Just the keys.  Which pocket, you ask?  Well, the one with the label on it!  That’s where my keys live in my bag.  Not in any of the deep inside pockets.  Only in the outside pocket with the label on it. read more