Category Archives: Lifestyle

Professional Organizers in Canada Guest Post – School’s Almost Out for the Summer!

**Content produced and provided by Professional Organizers in Canada**

Keep Your Cool during the Summer Sizzle

Are your kids talking about the summer yet? Are they getting excited?  Chances are they don’t know how much more work it is for parents during the summer than it is during the rest of the year. To keep the kids busy with little effort, consider putting advance planning in place so that the rest of the summer can be more spontaneously enjoyed. Here are some ideas you can use to improve the summer months:

Create an activity list or an “I’m Bored Jar” 

Get a large jar for the whole family to add ideas when one strikes. Have all family members write their ideas on notes and put them in the jar. Need some inspiration for summer activities? Organize a picnic dinner, swimming at a local pool, or camping in the backyard. If your kids are acting like wild animals, you might even plan a visit to the zoo.

Install a wall calendar and put the activity ideas on it. 

Use some sticky notes and a marker and start by indicating the important dates, such as the first day of school or camp, or time that will be spent away on a vacation. Colour code the sticky notes by category which could make the board look more kid-friendly. Potential categories can include theme days, playdates, planned outings, and activities done at home.

Stick to a normal routine as much as possible.

To make life easier for yourself, make sure you write out sticky notes for your own well-being and apply them to the wall calendar. Write down your date nights, dinner menu plans and babysitter arrangements.

Pre-sort supplies for Grab and Go Bags

Pre-pack backpacks before an activity day. This will help you avoid the hour of preparation time before being able to leave the house. Some ideas for Grab and Go Bags are:

  • Theme park bags
  • Walking/hiking bags
  • Playdate bags, picnic bags
  • Library bags
  • Pool days

If you’re going to the pool, have water excursion supplies pre-packed in a tote bag. Pack swimsuits and towels, as well as sun safety essentials including sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. Don’t forget to bring a plastic bag for wet bathing suits!

  • Road trip essentials

Be sure to pack items that will keep you and your family comfortable and entertained while away from home. Include essentials such as diapers, water bottles, snacks, and sunscreen. To avoid the inevitable cries of “Are we there yet?” don’t forget books, colouring books or clipboards with blank paper, and zippered pouches of crayons for each child along with the electronic device preloaded with learning games and movies.

There is nothing wrong with kids getting bored from time to time, as some ingenious and unique activities can result from that.  Keep art supplies within reach in the craft cabinet, a few outdoor toys in the backyard, and fruit and sugar-free drinks in the fridge.

Spring Into Garage Cleaning – POC Guest Post

I love sharing guest posts from the Professional Organizers of Canada! Great content from my colleagues across the country. Here’s an article full of timely tips on organizing your garage.

‘Trouble finding the gardening tools?

The snow is gone, the air is mild, the buds are starting to appear – all signs of spring being here! Aren’t you excited?  Or maybe you will have a tough time getting into your garage to find your gardening tools and patio furniture?

During the cold Canadian winters, who wants to work in an unheated garage?  As a result, the garage becomes a dumping zone which has to be dealt with in the warmer months.

Think twice about what’s being stored there
A garage may not be an ideal location for certain types of storage. They often have solid concrete floors and despite the age of the garage, concrete can absorb and hold moisture and create a damp environment. Moisture eventually finds its way into your possessions and can create mould and rust.

Containerize properly
When storing, items should be containerized so there’s no chance of anything falling on to you, your possessions or your car. (if a car is indeed occupying the garage). It is also important to protect your belongings from pests and moisture as these can be severely damaging. Be mindful of important keepsakes or antiques and wrap them securely.

Sporting goods
Store them within easy reach and systematically according to seasons for easy and safe retrieval. Get as much as possible off the floor. Utilize the wall hanging panels and hooks. (pictured below)

Be realistic about the time involved to get it organized
Depending on the volume of clutter, you may need more than one day to get organized. Many garages require a minimum of 6 hours and can sometimes exceed 24 hours  depending on the size of the garage and the sheer volume of items. Remember, it’s not just tidying up; it’s creating a system of organization so that you will never have to do it again.

Don’t forget to label the bins and locations.
Once everything is up and out of your way, leave your garage in a clean, tidy and labelled manner. Consider labelling the locations of things as well, so that all family members know where to put things back.

Once you’ve invested in a system of organization for your garage, it’ll be easy to maintain for the seasons that follow.

Organizing Your Family Photos – POC Guest Post

Preserving, organizing, and storing your paper family photos in order to enjoy them for a long time is time-consuming but highly valued work.

Gone are the days when your family might have captured a few dozen pictures a year. Nowadays, there may be huge containers and bins of photos hiding in your basement and attic begging to be organized and cherished. It makes a great project for those snowy or rainy days. Enjoy that time as you take a walk down memory lane.

To get started, separate the various mediums: slides, home movies, photo albums and loose pictures. Keep in mind you are trying to get all those boxes reduced to one perfectly edited album that will look elegant on a coffee table, or a few well-organized photo boxes in which you can find things with ease.

Decide whether to sort the photos by chronological order or by theme.

  • If chronological, arrange the photos in a logical timeline; it makes identifying the people in your photos and selecting the best examples much easier.
  • If thematic, sort them according to categories such as trips, birthdays, life passage events, happenings, etc.Scrapbooks can be made that tell the story of a person’s life.

 

Get some help from family members to identify those mystery individuals in old snapshots.
Eliminate poor quality shots, duplicates, and any pictures where you don’t know any of the people. Also toss most of the scenery shots. Be ruthless! If it doesn’t immediately bring back a memory, let it go.

Use archival pencils or pens to write the date and the subject on the back of photos with a light hand. Be careful as you want to preserve the data for generations to come, not damage the image.

Once photos are reduced in number, you can determine how you prefer to access them:

  • Photo albums
  • Photo boxes
  • Web-based photo books such as Shutterfly, Picaboo, Canada Photobooks or directly through Apple’s iPhoto App.

For safekeeping of your photos, find a photo scanning company to digitize them. They can be stored in the cloud, or put onto a device for you to keep.

Take the time to respectfully and carefully preserve your family’s photos and memorabilia. Memories can be the most valuable things in a person’s life. Make your photo keepsakes a treasure for the future!

 
Content credit:
Lisa McDonald, Nova Scotia Member

Working with Your Memory to Find a Lost Item – Eileen Pease

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This blog entry comes courtesy of Eileen Pease of Dynamic Learning. Eileen is a leader in maximizing your memory and brain function to increase your productivity at work and at home. If you’re interested in learning more or arranging a training session for your organization, please visit her website.

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to find a misplaced item. The pressure to find it increases exponentially when it is something really important – like a passport.

Stop searching, sit down and think. There is a 99.9999% probability that the item is exactly where you left it. Here are some brain-friendly steps to help you find it.

  1. Stop imagining the awful things that will happen if you don’t find it. That distracts your mind away from the work you need to do with your memory to find it. Imagining awful consequences will stress your brain, decreasing your memory.
  2. Remind yourself in a friendly, optimistic way that you will find it soon because you know there is a logical reason why you haven’t found it yet. When you do find it, you will be relieved and amused.
  3. Take three deep, relaxing breaths and sit or stand exactly where you were the last time you had the item for sure.
  4. Keep your focus on that moment, look around slowly, and think about the next steps you took. Don’t let your mind run off into saying things like, “But I already looked there.” You have not found it yet because you have been distracting yourself with other thoughts and commands. Calm your mind and focus on where you were and what you were doing the last time you had it for sure.
  5. Remind yourself that this is the last place you were when you are certain you had it. Review the evidence. For example, “I had my passport in my hand while I was booking my flight.”
  6. Identify the one most probable place you would have put the item. Look for it there. If you don’t find it, step back and look to see if it could have fallen somewhere, slipped behind or under something, or been covered up somehow.
  7. If you still can’t find it, sit down again to think. Remind yourself it is exactly where you left it. What were you thinking about at the time? Was there anybody else involved? Were you listening to your radio or TV? Did somebody phone you or drop in just at that time? Did you go out to your car? Were you cleaning up in a hurry shortly afterward? It is often helpful to actually re-live and act out the sequence of what you remember happened next. Your memory knows what happened next, it just needs you to trigger the reminder.
  8. Continue to work calmly with your memory. Remind yourself you are going to find it and it is better to keep concentrating on it now, than to give up and search for it later. Acknowledge that physical items do not vanish into thin air and rarely get stolen or deliberately hidden by somebody else. Guard against *fantastic* solutions and reassure yourself there is a logical reason why you have not found it so far. When you do find it, there will be a perfectly logical reason for it to be there.
  9. If necessary, revisit in your memory the last moment when you are certain you had it in your hands. Are you making any unchecked assumptions about where you were or what you were doing? Look in your planning calendar, talk to anyone who was around at the time, and re-create that moment. See yourself holding the item and mentally follow the scene that unfolds.
  10. Sometimes the search becomes too irritating. Then it is better to stop and turn your attention to something completely different. Sleep on it. Next morning, rested and with a fresh perspective, start again at step number two.

Once you find the item, note the logic of where it was and recognize the assumptions you were making that stopped you from finding it sooner. I would love to know your lost and found story; please email me atepease@eileenpease.com or phone me at 902-483-5700. If you have faithfully tried every step above with no success, phone me and I will help you get your memory to tell you where your lost item is.

 

Start the New Year Right

It’s a new year, and a time when people like to start fresh and sample some new approaches to areas in your life you would like to improve. You have seen the development of the organizing and redesign shows take over our television stations. It’s been called the latest trend, the new dieting, but finding improved ways to organize your life is here to stay. Why? There’s just so much return on investment.

One thing we often forget when making changes and it’s especially true this time of year is the importance of starting slow and making small goals:

1. Your desk is a workplace- remove other non- work related items and place them clean deskelsewhere. Hang photos on the wall and place awards, personal objects and knickknacks on a shelf or credenza.

2. Keep the things you use the most close by and within reach, and items that you require only occasionally further away. This includes files, supplies and personal items.

3. Get rid of the extras- how many of one item do you really need-157 pens, 4 coffee mugs- give away, throw away or return to the stationary/supply area.

Speaking of extras, we usually have between 5-10 extra pounds that we have put on over the holidays. Looking for healthy time saving ways to get back on track? Here’s a few tips:

1. Plan your meals and grocery list ahead of time. You can save time and money. Eating healthier during your day will keep your energy up and your waistline down.

produce isle2. Stick to the outside aisles at the grocery stores. This is where we find our core foods, like fruits and vegetables. It’s a great time to eat more fruits and vegetables. Think of these as a healthy snacking alternative. Try a fruit you’ve never had before.

3. Cut back on your portion sizes- especially when eating out. Order half portions or ask for a to-go container for the remainder of your meal. This also gives you another meal you don’t have to prepare.

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Life Strategizing for a Successful New Year

Having a strategy is not just for business. Living your life with intent allows you to plan for uncertainties, accept what comes your way and move forward in health and happiness.

A life without some strategy is like a boat without a rudder. You need to contemplate what’s really important to you. Carefully consider the “who, what, when, where and how” of your life to assess your goals and wants.

You will feel better and approach life more confidently when you have a clear plan with achievable goals. When life throws you curve balls, it is easier to stay on track when you have a plan. Being thoughtful about many areas in your life will help you assess damage and get back to where you need to be.

Don’t be afraid of losing your spontaneity because of planning – it’s quite the opposite! When you have a map of how you would like to live your life, you are able to take unexpected detours without losing your way.

Here are 10 ideas to help you reflect and plan your upcoming year.

1) Look at the data from the previous year. Did you do what you were going to do, or are you still stuck in the same place? Instead of blaming others or circumstance get real about what part you played in both your successes and disappointments this past year.

2) Look closely at your strengths and know where you fall short. There are several books out here that can help you with this.

3) Who do you spend your time with? Ask yourself some tough questions. Are the majority of people in my life people who encourage me and help me work towards my goals. Do I like being around them or do I feel drained and discouraged in their presence. We have a lot of people in our space – family, practitioners, suppliers, colleagues. Make sure we are spending time with those who make regular deposits to our emotions bank accounts and not just withdrawals.

4) Simplify a complicated worldtry the power of three.

  1. If you divided your world into the following areas – career, health, money, recreation/fun, romance/significant other, friends and family, personal growth – what would be your three most important areas for you to focus on in the next year?
  2. What are your top three goals for each of these areas you choose a priority?
  3. What are the first three steps to create an environment for success for each of these goals?

5) Make it concrete. Write it down, do a mind map, create a Pinterest board or a vision board, tell your friends. Create tasks associated with your goals and electronically schedule them.

6) Make it a game. Sit with your partner and write out what is important for you to accomplish in these time lines within one year, two to five years, five to ten years, 10-20 years, before you die.

Set a timer for 2 minutes and write quickly. Share with your partner when the buzzer goes off. Some of these will become family goals and each partnercomes away with a sense of not only what is import to them, but their spouse as well.You now have a timeline to work with.

7) Be flexible. Murphy’s Law applies to life. You may have a meticulously thought out plan about how you see your life progressing, but be prepared to adjust it if things go off the rails.

8) Bring in the professionals. Whether it’s a financial planner or a coach, take advantage of the services available to you to ensure you’re following your best path.

9) Review and Reward. Once you’ve achieved a goal in the timeline you were striving for, treat yourself to a small reward.

Take the time now, as the year comes to a close, to look forward to the upcoming year and make decisions about what is important to you and your family. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve this year with a little forethought.

News Years Resolutions or Fatal Attraction?

>Are you like most people? Have you set and broken many of your New Years Resolutions already? Have you spent time focused on your deficits and shortcomings? The law of attraction says we will draw those things towards us that we spend time thinking about.

Quote from author, Ellen Goodman:
“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.’

Attract more of the positive and create brighter possibilities:

1. Don’t get caught up in the New Year hype.
2. Instead of focusing on making a resolution, focus on what you have accomplished last year and how you can take those positive events and use them towards making this year the best yet.
3. Look back on how you made your special memories and how you can create more to last a lifetime.
4. Picture those activities you shared with loved ones.
5. Think about what you are most proud of in your career.
6. Live your life with meaningful intent.
7. Take charge of your own well-being, embrace it and enjoy everything that the New Year has to offer you.

Realize that you can do whatever you set your mind to do.

Resolve to evolve into the person you want to be by attracting what you want.

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7 Things NOT To Do When Making a New Year’s Resolution

One in four people will not make it a week with their New Year’s resolution. Here are seven things not to do when creating a New Year’s resolution that will help you go the distance:

1. Don’t keep it to yourself. “I don’t want my friends to know I am trying to quit my bad habit.” Let others know! This gives you leverage and allows others to encourage you along your journey.

2. Don’t leave it in your head. “I don’t need to write it down, I know what I want to do.” Research has shown that those who write down their goals and track them have an increased chance of success.

3. Don’t be vague. “I’m going to lose weight”.  How much? At what rate? By when? Make your goals SMART- specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely and time bound.

4. Don’t be inflexible. “I’m not going to ever do that again” Not all goals happen with the flip of a switch. Sometimes you need to wean yourself off of a bad habit. Sometimes you will backslide or slip up. It’s part of life. Get used to it and get used to being more successful for the long haul by recognizing that people try and try again at their goals before they reach them. Some reports suggest an average of 14 times. Persistence not perfectionism pays.

5. Don’t be unrealistic or harsh. “I’m not going to eat any sweets.”  “I will exercise 2 hours everyday.” It is not always realistic to deny yourself. Life is meant to be celebrated. Think moderation and think about small incremental steps that will advance you toward your goal. It is better to be doing a smaller action for the long term than a larger goal that doesn’t have a chance of lasting a week.

6. Don’t take on too much at once. “I’m going to quit smoking, join a gym, meditate 10 minutes every day, lose 20 lbs, and spend more time with my kids.” This is just setting yourself up for disappointment. Focus on a couple of things and the activities that will take you towards your goals.

7. Don’t take the first step TODAY. “I’ll start next week…”  There always seems to be a better time than right now. You may think you need to wait until after a special date or occasion, or once the holidays are over or start on a Monday…the list goes on. The truth is now is always a good time. Start by visualizing where you want to be and eliminating negative self-talk that will keep you from reaching your goals.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

– Anonymous

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Organize Anything Gift Certificates

Do you have someone on your holiday list that is impossible to shop for? No idea what to get the friend that seems to have everything? Try an Organize Anything gift certificate for Christmas this year! It’s the perfect choice for the person in your life who needs a helping hand getting a handle on the clutter and disorganization in their life.
Whether they need organizing help at home or in the home office, Organize Anything can help. Know someone who could use some extra assistance getting their productivity up? We have a gift certificate for that. Know a student who wants some making their study habits more efficient? Have a grandchild moving out this spring to go to university? Buy a downsizing or relocating gift certificate for their parents.
Our gift certificates options are wide open so that they can be tailored to meet your needs. We offer professional organizing and productivity services. We also are available for public speaking engagements, teaching seminars and life coaching. Visit our website, http://www.organizeanything.com for all the details.
Please contact us if you aren’t sure if we offer the service you’re looking for organize1@organizeanything.com or (902) 233-1577. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter too (@organizeanow)!

Stay Fit and Healthy This Holiday Season

Did you gain weight last holiday season?  You’re not alone.  With so many corporate and social gatherings and events in such a short time, it’s hard to resist indulging in the array of seasonal treats they bring. The trick is to find a balance between enjoying yourself and maintaining healthy habits.  So here are a few suggestions that will help you avoid unhealthy weight gain this year.

  • Shift your attitude away from food – Remember that food is not the reason for get-togethers during the holiday season. It’s something extra.  Keep that in mind and focus on having fun.
  • Don’t abstain – Why deny yourself your favourite meals before and during the holiday season? The key is moderation – watch your portions, plan lighter, more nutritional meals and keep up your exercise routine.
  • Stock up on healthy choices – You probably like to buy a few treats for yourself and your guests over the holidays. Why not substitute some of all of those items with more nutritional options such as fruit, whole-grain products or peanut butter?
  • Curb your appetite – Want to cut the calories you consume at a seasonal celebration? Plan a small healthy snack before you go.  Regularly drinking water during the holidays is another great way to keep your appetite in check.
  • Plan your event calendar – With so many events to choose from, and so much temptation, it’s a good idea to take time and plan the events that you want to attend. Set yourself limits, don’t get over exhausted and make sure you are having regular meals.
  • Know your limits – if there are foods that you find irresistible, set yourself limits. That way, you can enjoy them without overindulging.
  • Buddy up – Chances are you have a friend or co-worker who is also watching what they eat. Why not pair up and look out for each other at your next event.
  • Toast to your health – Alternate your alcoholic beverages and seasonal favourites such as eggnog with Water and un-sweetened drinks. Not only will you cut calories, you’ll also avoid the holiday hangover
  • Eat your greens – Look for the veggie tray, a mainstay of any holiday party. For potlucks, plan a nutritious, low-calorie dish, like a fruit tray or shrimp ring.
  • Stay active – It isn’t easy with all of the festivities, but make time for fitness. It not only burns calories, it helps melt away seasonal stress. Consider walking to events, where possible, and arranging a drive home with a friend or by taxi.
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