Get Ready for Back to School

Sandy Rhee, Organizing Guru

Sand Rhee 2016-08 01 first day of schoolThe end of August is quickly approaching and, with it, the beginning of another school year. The time of year that kids bemoan and parents rejoice. It can be a stressful time when there is no plan for getting ready, so let’s talk about it.


Sand Rhee 2016-08 02 clock faceIt’s time to start resetting the families’ internal clocks to the school schedules. That might mean going to bed and getting up earlier than during the summer months. Don’t wait to start the earlier bedtimes until the night before. Start the process early so kids can gradually get used to it. Going to bed and getting up at the same times every day is ideal for quality of sleep but not always possible. It doesn’t hurt to aim for it though. read more

Create a Strategy for Meal Planning

Meal planning can be a challenge for many people. Do you start to think about dinner when it’s time to eat? By then, you don’t have any food on hand and don’t have time to go to the grocery store. Meal planning is a hurdle that you can tackle by planning in advance and sticking to a schedule.

I cook most nights for my husband and me. I’m a Lifetime Weight Watchers member so eating healthy is important to maintaining my goal weight. I also work full time and have many commitments outside of my work life. Below is my strategy for planning ahead so I have what I need on hand to cook a healthy meal when I get home. 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

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

Free Information Overload

My Gmail InboxI love reading about organizing case studies, looking at office designs and tools, and exploring ways to be a better business woman. When I first started my business, I subscribed to any newsletter or blog that gave me some inspiration to improve Claiming Space. At first, it was easy keeping up with the information flowing into my inbox. If I couldn’t read it, that was okay, I saved it to read later. But later never came. More newsletters and blog posts showed up. I got behind, and the more behind I got, the more guilty I felt as valuable knowledge piled up in my inbox, unused. Digital clutter was taking over my life. It got to the point where I hated opening my inbox in the morning knowing there were 7-10 emails full of webinar alerts, newsletters, and blog posts that would get added to my to-do list that I was never going to get to. read more

Preparing Breakfast Ahead of Time

A Gift from Friends

Recently, some friends stayed in our home while we were away for a short holiday.  When we returned, they had left a pan of baked oatmeal in our refrigerator as a thank you gift.  It was one of the best things they could have given us!

Not only was the baked oatmeal YUMMY, but it provided both my husband and me a work week’s worth of warm breakfast.  Each morning, we’d spoon some into a bowl, pop it in the microwave for one minute, pour a little milk on top, and devour it.  Warm, comforting, yummy, filling, and quick and easy on a busy morning. read more

Using Small Chunks of Time to Complete Large Tasks

When I was in college, I preferred to write ten-page papers in one night.  It wasn’t because the paper was due the next day (often, I’d finish it before the due date), but I liked submerging myself into the task at hand and seeing it through to completion.  It’s just the way I’m wired.

Nowadays, I don’t have the luxury of segmenting my time into large blocks and working on a project until it’s finished.  And it has caused me a lot of frustration over the years.  Some of my clients are wired like me and prefer waiting to do something until they have a large enough chunk of time to get it completely done.  The problem?  You can see it…the large block of time never happens and the project never gets done. read more

Decide to Decide: Organizing is about Follow-through

In the organizing industry, we have a phrase coined by Kathy Waddill, “decide to decide.”  What does this mean?

In her book The Organizing Sourcebook, Waddill talks about “decide to decide” as the need to follow through with projects and tasks in our lives.  I see this most with my clients in the follow through of taking items designated for donation to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, donation bin, what have you.  This results in some of the items originally designated for donation creeping back into the home because the client has a chance to convince herself getting rid of the item may not be a good idea.  This behavior can be detrimental to the organizing process. read more

Procrastination: Three Dangerous Little Words “Just for now.”

Have you ever had something in your hand and didn’t know what to do with it?  Did you find yourself saying, “I’ll just put this here for now,” as you dropped it on the kitchen counter?

We’ve all done it.  It’s easy to do.

What I’ve realized, from my own experience as well as from working with various clients, is that “now” turns into days…weeks…months…even years.

And there are three reasons why:

  1. “Now” doesn’t specify a time when you will actually deal with whatever you’ve just deposited on the counter.
  2. Putting it somewhere “just for now” doesn’t actually identify what your next step is.  Do you need to find a permanent home for it?  Do you need to do a follow-up action?  Do you just need to trash it?
  3. Clutter breeds.  That thing on the counter will attract other things from the land of “Just For Now” and pretty quickly you’ll have a whole community of miscellaneous and homeless things on your counter for days…weeks…months…even years.

Amanda Darlack is a Professional Organizer with Living Peace LLC of Salem, MA and Winchester, MA.  Check us out at  Or call (617) 519-5693. read more

Time Maps: Visualizing How You Spend Your Time

Do you feel like you’re overcommitted?  Do you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day for you to get everything done?

Maybe there aren’t.

In her book Time Management from the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern explains that time is as limited as the space in your closet.  If you have too many clothes and you run out of space in your closet, you see it.  When you have too much to do and you run out of time in your schedule, you feel it.

So Julie suggests creating a time map.  Basically, a time map is a template of your schedule for the week.  It’s what you assume you will be doing each week unless something unusual comes up (which often happens and is OK). read more