Category Archives: Lifestyle

They Can Do That? A Guest Post from the National Association of Professional Organizers

NAPO members discuss what consumers should ask when hiring a professional organizer in the Smead podcast series, “Keeping You Organized.” Click the image to watch.

When people think of the services professional organizers provide, de-cluttering closets, setting up filing systems, creating time management strategies, or designing custom garage storage systems typically come to mind. But professional organizers specialize in many different areas, and can help overcome a variety of organizing challenges faced at home or at work. Here is a list of some lesser-known services they offer:

  1. Specialty Moving & Relocation: Need help packing the kids up for summer camp or moving your college student into his or her dorm?  There’s an organizer for that! Hiring a pro lets parents stress less and spend more quality time with their kids before they go away, and helps college students get off to an organized start when living away from home for the first time.
  2. Organizing and Cataloging Collections: From photographs to memorabilia to wine, if you need to manage the items in your collection for insurance purposes, display, or simply for easy access, a professional organizer who specializes in collections can help you keep track of the items you have so carefully curated.
  3. Blending Households: A professional organizer can help preserve household harmony when new spouses, stepfamilies, roommates, or parents find themselves sharing living space, and need to find places for everyone’s stuff.
  4. EcoConscious Organizing: Everyone is more aware of humans’ effect on our environment, and for those consumers who actively try to reduce their overall impact, there are organizing professionals who specialize in sustainable ways to reduce clutter, organize and recycle unwanted items.
  5. Technology Organizing: Need someone to help set up your new smartphone?  Need help keeping track of documents and files on your home and work mobile devices? Need help figuring which apps to use to help you stay organized?  Tech-savvy professional organizers can help you get the most out of your electronic devices.
  6. Personal Assistant/Concierge Services: If staying organized means you need a helping hand running errands, scheduling appointments, or fulfilling other commitments, professional organizers who also provide assistant or concierge services will keep you in control of all the aspects of your busy life.
  7. Medical/Legal Office Organizing: Establishing effective filing systems, chain-of-custody protocols, and document retention policies is vital to successful case management and protecting sensitive and confidential information. A professional organizer experienced in medical or legal organizing can help improve office efficiency and maintain client privacy.
  8. Estate Sales: When a person passes away leaving behind a home full of possessions, sorting through a lifetime of memories may be too much for grieving loved ones to handle.  Professional organizers who offer estate sale services coordinate the sale or donation of unwanted items, taking the burden off family or friends at a difficult time.
  9. Working with People with ADHD or ADD: For people who struggle with attention-deficit disorders, routines and systems can dramatically help them maintain focus so they can be more productive at home, school, and work. Organizing experts who specialize in working with those living with ADHD or ADD understand their everyday challenges, and help them develop habits to minimize frustration and become more successful in all aspects of their lives.
  10. Emergency Preparedness: Disasters can strike home or work at any time, and a good emergency plan can keep you, your family, or your colleagues safe, and get you back on your feet sooner. Professional organizers can help you create a plan to keep your vital documents safe, create an emergency kit, put together disaster evacuation and communications plans, and develop recovery  procedures, so your life is disrupted as little as possible in the face of disaster.

These are just some of the specialized services that professional organizers can provide, so if you feel overwhelmed by an organizing dilemma, you don’t have to tackle it alone.

Need help getting organized? Visit NAPO’s Professional Organizer Directory to search for professional organizers in your area.

Advertisements

Smooth Transition from Summer to School

>Many children, especially in the lower grades, find it hard to make the switch from the lazy days of summer (going to the beach, playing soccer, visiting amusement parks) to the school year (early mornings, routines, homework). Come to think of it, it’s not easy for parents, either. But there are ways to smooth the transition:

1. Read, read, read: Make reading an integral part of your summer. Libraries often have incentive programs for the summer months; take advantage of them. Read to your child, have 29them read to you, and read together. Read menus, books, comics, read everything and anything.
2. Buy supplies: If you have your child’s class list of supplies, keep an eye out for bargains and stock up. Some schools get parents to pay a flat rate and the teachers buy the supplies in bulk and to their own specifications. It’s a great time-saver for parents, and the teachers know each child will have the exact supplies he or she needs.
3. Take inventory: Go through your child’s closet and donate clothes that no longer fit. Throw out any that are beyond repair. Make a list of what items are needed (indoor sneakers, outdoor sneakers, backpack, etc.) and go shopping. Don’t forget second-hand stores.
4. Call the school: A day or two before school starts, call the school and find out what class your child is in and if there’s anything you or your child needs to know before Day 1.
5. Know the route: How is your child getting to school: walking, by bus, by car, from the sitter’s? Is there a change from last year? Try out the route with your child to see how long it takes. A route that takes you five minutes to walk, for instance, could take a child up to 10 minutes.
6. Ease back into routine: A few weeks before the first day, start regulating bedtimes and rising times to be closer to the school-year routine. How long does it take everyone to get ready in the morning?
7. Build excitement: Most children are excited about the return to school, at least for a week or two after it starts. Even if you’re dreading the return to hectic mornings and evenings supervising homework, control your negativity, which can be contagious. Plan some fun outings during the first few weekends, and sign your child up for some favorite extra-curricular activities.
8. Visit the school: A nice tradition is going with your child on the first day back, not just for Grade Primary. It will ease some jitters and make your child feel valued.
Helping your child transition from summer mode to school mode will make them feel prepared to take on the school year and give them a smooth start. A smooth start can give a child the confidence boost he needs to do well all year.

If you enjoyed this article, please pass it along to others who would find it useful and sign up for our Organize Anything newsletter on our homepage at http://www.organizeanything.com
© 2010 Colette Robicheau
The Organizing Coach
Organize Anything
Phone: (902) 233-1577 Fax: (902) 455-0553

Permission to reuse or redistribute these materials is hereby granted provided they are reproduced or redistributed in their entirety with full attribution.

The Roadmap for a Healthy Business Trip

>A good business trip takes careful planning. So does maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a healthy weight. If you travel frequently in your line of work, or for your business, you know how difficult it can be to keep up good habits and how easy it is to slip into bad ones. The good news is that, with a little added preparation and smart choices, you can considerably reduce that risk. Here’s how:

Set realistic goals – Goals will help you stay focused while you are away, but be realistic. For example, instead of losing weight, why not set maintaining your current weight as your goal?

Be prepared – It’s easier to maintain your health and weight with a little preparation. For example, call ahead to the hotel where you are staying and see if they have a fitness centre. Or, for frequent stays, consider a pass to a local facility. And be sure to take along your workout gear.

Scan the menu – Taking time to review your choices will help you make healthy ones.

Consider avoiding foods with descriptions such as ‘fried,’ ‘crispy,’ or ‘battered.’ They are likely high in fat. Instead, look for high-fiber meals, like a baked potato or salad.

For baked potatoes and salads, avoid high-calorie dressings and sour cream, or extras such as meat, cheese, egg and croutons. Or, ask to have dressings and toppings on the side so you can control your portions.

Ordering a small or kid-size portion. This is a great way to reduce the amount of calories, sodium and fat you consume.

Eat on schedule – Skipping meals or not eating for long periods increases your hunger and the risk that you will overeat when you finally make time for food.

Curb the urge to splurge – Keep snacks like graham crackers and fruit on hand in your car, bag or briefcase. This will help keep your appetite in check when standing at the buffet table or ordering a meal.

Forego fast food where possible – If fast-food restaurants are your only option, remember that many now have health-smart choices. Be sure to ask for the nutritional information and check the calorie, fat and fiber counts before ordering. Often, these choices aren’t healthier than what is on the main menu. Avoid the value meals; the calorie content is generally equal to two meals.

If you enjoyed this article, please pass it along to others who would find it useful and sign up for our Organize Anything newsletter on our homepage at http://www.organizeanything.com

Colette Robicheau
The Organizing Coach
Organize Anything
Phone: (902) 233-1577
http://www.organizeanything.com
Permission to reuse or redistribute these materials is hereby granted provided they are reproduced or redistributed in their entirety with full attribution.

Music to Motivate You to Organize Anything

Tune in and Get it Done

Are you facing a giant organizing project that you’re having trouble feeling motivated to start? Make a playlist to help motivate you to carry through to the end of the project.

Music is proven to motivate and energize us – in fact headphones are banned in several sports because music gives athletes too much of an advantage! Choosing music with a high BPM (Beats Per Minute) forces your brain to focus and you will start to synchronize your movements with the beat of the song.

For low to medium intensity work, like rearranging the garage, an ideal BPM range is 120 – 132bpm. This music will be high energy enough to keep you engaged and active, but isn’t going to have you subconsciously pushing yourself harder than you want to go. Put a few slower and faster songs in the mix to keep it interesting.

Don’t forget about melody and lyrics. Various studies have shown that how a melody in a song is constructed can affect us physically. Take Adele’s smash hit “Someone Like You” for instance, not only are the lyrics heartbreaking and raw, the melody is written to include “appoggiaturas” – ornamental notes that clash with the melody just enough to create a dissonant sound. And dissonant sound is what causes a physical reaction in human beings.

Pick songs that you love to sing along to. A great beat and fun lyrics will keep you jazzed as you do the job that you’ve been putting off.

The power of music doesn’t stop at keeping you energized during a workout or a marathon organizing session. Did you know that music has been shown to reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis by up to 25%? With regular music therapy you can lower blood pressure, speed post-stroke recovery, boost your immunity, enhance intelligence and improve your memory performance. You can read more about it in the UK’s Journal of Advanced Nursing.

When we’re getting ready to tackle a large project, we make a playlist to jam along to. It keeps us motivated and it’s fun. The following are some of our favourite tunes, and if you visit our YouTube page this is a great 1 hour and 15 minute long play list, ready to go.

1.   Get the Party Started – Pink (129 BPM)

2.   Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson (128 BPM)

3.   Every Little Thing She Does is Magic – The Police  (180 BPM)

4.   Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye (129 BPM)

5.   Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen (80 BPM)

6.   Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 ft Christina Augilera (128 BPM)

7.   Say My Name – Destiny’s Child (127 BPM)

8.   Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams (140 BPM)

9.   Set Fire to the Rain – Adele (108 BPM)

10.  We Found Love – Rihanna (128 BPM)

11. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor (117)

12. Another One Bites the Dust – Queen (124)

13. I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar – Helen Reddy (160)

14. Respect – Aretha Franklin (116)

15. Don’t Stop Believing – Journey (135)

16.. Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins (157)

17. Should I Stay or Should I Go – The Clash (113)

18.. Let’s Dance – David Bowie (114)

19. Walk This Way – Aerosmith  (107)

20. Leader of the Pack – The Shangri-Las (112)

Have a tune that motivates you? Visit our YouTube Channel or Facebook Page and share it with us.

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

header-image

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.

By

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.

%d bloggers like this: