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Holiday Office Survival Guide

Holiday office parties can be a chance for you to shine in front of your employer and peers. You can take advantage of the casual setting to have some fun and advance your career, or misbehave and cripple your career. Follow these tips to make sure you adhere to the highest standard of office party etiquette:

1) Don’t pass up the opportunity! It’s not every day that you get the chance to have a one-on-one personal conversation with the boss. Even if you can’t stay the whole evening don’t be a no-show. Arrive, mingle, and then make your exit.

2) Always ask before bringing a guest. Bringing your spouse or partner is a great way to meet new people in the office and showcase a bit of your personal life. However, not all office parties are open to families.

3) Don’t overindulge. Just because there’s a buffet or an open bar doesn’t mean that you should help yourself all night. You never know whose eyes are on you.

Businesspeople at Christmas party

Businesspeople at Christmas party

4) Dress appropriately. Dress more festively than you would for a day at the office, but more conservative than you would for a night out on the town.

5) Get involved. Don’t be afraid to take part in activities at the party. You’ll stick out more if you refuse to be a team player and participate.

6) Don’t forget it’s still a business event. Be sure to take the time to chat with your colleagues and superiors. Get to know the people you work with, but maintain your professional image.

7) Be gracious to the hosts, and send a thank you note to management and the personnel who organized the event the next day for inviting you.

Office parties are a great chance to network and have some fun with your co-workers. Enjoy yourself, meet some new people and expand your contacts in the organization. By following our simple do’s and don’ts you’ll avoid making any embarrassing missteps.

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How to Purge the Urge to Procrastinate

Do you procrastinate? You’re not alone. It’s easy to say, ”I’ll do it tomorrow,” when faced with a project. But if you keep putting it off, you run the risk of racing the clock to complete it at the last minute. And if you do complete it, you may be unhappy with the results. So when you feel the temptation to procrastinate:  

1) Ask yourself why you procrastinate – There are many reasons why we put things off, from fear to lack of motivation. Knowing why you procrastinate will help you break the habit.

2) Identify what motivates you – Is it tight deadlines? The promise of a reward? Think about what motivates you and use that to get the ball rolling.

3) Prioritize your tasks – It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you have several projects competing for your attention. Categorizing tasks as high and low priority will help you to focus on the most pressing projects.

4) Consider the time required – Be realistic when looking at the time it will take to complete any project. Block out time in your calendar so you have a clear start and end date with sufficient time to get it done.

sticky note wall

5) Avoid distractions – Easier said than done. But by focusing on the work at hand, you can complete it quickly and properly. And that will give you more time to focus on other responsibilities or activities.

6) Tell someone else – Knowing that you’ve told someone what you’re planning to do is a great motivator. Even saying it out loud to yourself is often enough to get you started.

7) Anticipate problems – There are always tasks that pose challenges. The key is to visualize them and how you will respond to them. This can significantly reduce anxiety and will help you perform better.

8) Plan a reward – It’s easier to complete a task or two when you know that there will be a reward for your hard work.  

9) Do things as they occur to you – This way, you won’t risk adding another item to your “To-Do” list. You may even find the thrill of getting something extra done motivates you to take on other projects.

10) Ask yourself ”Is there an easier way to do this?” – A little extra thought can make the difference in getting a task done quickly and easily.

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 www.organizeanything.com

STAGING TIP – Keep it Light and Bright

When selling your home, keep it bright.  Dimly lit rooms tend to look smaller and dingy.  Turn on many, if not all lights, even when you are showing your home during day hours.

Create lighting that sets a warm inviting mood. This occurs with multiple lights and not just overhead lights. If there is a small or darker room in your home, put a floor lamp in the room to bounce light off the ceiling and use table lamps to make the remaining space light up.

If the walls seem dreary, repaint them in a nice neutral shade to catch the light.  By creating a lighter feeling in the room, it will appear more relaxed which will allow buyers to visualize themselves in the space.  Make it more welcoming with drapes and blinds open to let in natural light.  Wash the windows in each room on the inside and outside.  Hire a professional window washer if necessary.

By lightening up your home it will help to sell it faster, for more money and that will brighten any seller’s day.

bright-window-replacement-interior

Back-to-the-Basics with Back-to-School Organization

Although most of us are enjoying a relaxing summer break, the new school year is just around the corner. August is the time to get ready for back to school by preparing ourselves with the proper supplies and organizational techniques. Follow these suggestions to create a less stressful year and to avoid that last-minute scurry before the first day of school. Even if you don’t have children or aren’t attending school yourself, we can all benefit by using this time to readjust our schedules and routines.

1) Use Calendars – Prepare your calendar for the upcoming school year. Family members should have easy access to one central calendar at home. Keep one in your kitchen or den so everyone in your family can see what is on the agenda for the weeks ahead. Record important dates such as school closings, vacations, appointments or meetings. This will allow everyone to judge time accordingly for car scheduling and pick ups. Designate each family member a coloured marker to write activities to clearly see who has what coming up. In a backpack, keep a daily planner and carry it at all times. Jot down appointments or project deadlines right away before you forget. Don’t rely on memory – write it all down.

2) Only Buy What You Will Use – Organizing and prioritizing means making space in your room, home or office to store new school work and supplies. Don’t go overboard buying new supplies thinking this will help you be more organized. Rather, look at the basic items you use and only buy those. Make a list of the items you need and only purchase those items when shopping. By gathering your pre-existing supplies, you can judge more effectively what extra supplies you will need, and what has worked best for you in the past.

3) Get Rid of the Old to Make Room for the New – Get rid of old books and papers that you no longer use. When you do come across important papers, have a specific place to store them. A filing cabinet would be a great investment, and it keeps stacks of papers out of sight. Outdated magazines should be donated or recycled. If there are articles you like or don’t have time to read, tear them out and keep them in a binder or file them by subject. This way you have all the articles that you enjoy together and can take it along with you while waiting for appointments or in between classes.

4) Keep All School Supplies in One Area – Designate one spot in your home for all your school supplies. Spend 15 minutes each night tidying up this area. This will save time in the morning and avoid the panic of looking for misplaced items. Always have your backpack ready and your homework finished the night before. Keep lunches prepared in the fridge and ready to grab.

5) Donate Old Clothes – Everyone wants to have a few new items of clothing for the first day of school. Before you go shopping, look at the clothes you already own to see how they will work for the fall season. Go through your closet and get rid of outdated clothes and those that don’t fit. If you haven’t worn items in months or years, chances are you do not need them. Getting rid of these articles of clothing will make way for your new fall wardrobe.

6) Do it Now – Start shopping early for back-to-school clothes and supplies. Don’t wait until the weekend before school starts. The stores will be crowded which may cause unnecessary stress. Make shopping a leisurely and enjoyable experience with your children or friends.

Back-to-school can mean a fresh start for your organizing routine. Prepare now to ensure you start the new school year on the right track.

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

© 2006 Colette Robicheau
The Organizing Coach
Organize Anything
Phone: (902) 233-1577 Fax: (902) 455-0553
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.

How to Make it Easier to Get Kids Back to School


Professional Organizer Colette Robicheau shares the best tips for getting ready to go back to school.

She talks about how to make the yearly return to school a smooth transition and how to prepare your youngest for their first time to school.

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.

STAGING – Flaunt Your Best Assets

Highlight and draw attention to elements in the home, such as a great view, architectural details, even repairs, renovations or equipment upgrades. Your kitchen and bathroom are prime selling opportunities, so pay special attention to these areas. For example, keep your kitchen counters clear of any knickknacks and small appliances, and remove any magnets or personal items from your fridge. Remove as many personal items as you can from the bathroom so it looks pristine and that there is lots of counter space available. Replace leaking or worn faucets to give a new look to the room. Make sure to clean under the sinks. Potential homeowners will be checking out all the details. If there are any leaks, fix them. Then clean up the damage using contact paper or paint. Spending a little extra time to fix up the existing items in the home is an inexpensive way to make great changes, therefore increasing the selling value and decreasing the time it will be on the market.

living room

Lost and Found: Keep Tabs on Your Loved Ones

Group Safety Tips for Crowds 

Summer is upon us and it’s time to soak in the sun, see the sights and enjoy everything summer has to offer – like concerts, street fairs, festivals and more. However taking in the local culture can turn into a stressful time when corralling the family and traveling in a group. Whether it’s your two-year-old wandering off in a crowd, or your husband of 20 years, it’s important to have a plan in case you’re separated.

Organize Anything has put together six great tips to help you stay connected with your group as you enjoy summer activities.

1. Colour Coordinate. Taking the kids to the fair, or attending this summer’s “must-see” concert? Consider colour-coordinating your t-shirts, or dressing the little ones in bright colours so they’re easy to spot in a crowd. This tip is popular at large amusement parks like Disneyworld where you’ll often see whole families decked out in neon.

2. ICE it. Traveling with a group of friends to see a concert or enjoying a festival? Make sure everyone’s got everyone else’s cell phone numbers programmed into their phones. Label the numbers with “ICE” which stands for In Case of Emergencies.  Taking smaller children out to enjoy performance? Safety pin your cell phone number, home phone number and address to the inside of a pocket or coat so they have it case of emergencies. Remember at large events you can’t always hear the phone ringing vibrate may help.

3. Plan ahead. In the event you do get separated from your group, you should have a plan in place of where you’ll meet them. Before leaving the house or when you have arrived at the venue, decide on a spot where everyone will meet at the end of the day if you get separated. Everyone knowing the plan will save you headaches and heartaches later.

4. Talk it out. When travelling with small children, be sure to tell them early and often how important it is to stick together. Cover the ground rules before leaving the house in the morning and then review them on the ride there and before you get out of the car. Make a game out of remembering the information.

5. Get Technical. For grownups, there are apps for your smart phone that let you share your location via GPS with friends. Perfect for that crowded concert, group members can go for snacks and bathroom breaks without losing you in the crowd. For younger children you can purchase small GPS trackers that tie onto shoe laces or backpacks. At the press of a button the tracker will start to chirp, alerting parents to their child’s location.

6. Light it Up. Heading out to watch the fireworks? Go to the Dollar Store and grab coordinated glow sticks or funky flashing lights to pass out to the family. Turn them on when the sun goes down so you can track the members of your party.

Armed with this handy information, you and your family and friends are ready to hit the streets and the beach this summer worry free. A little planning for safety can ensure lots of fun at any gathering this summer.

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STAGING – Make It Pretty

Dirt, dust, fingerprints and cobwebs all detract from the appeal of your house. Be sure to clean thoroughly in every nook and cranny, and empty all wastebaskets, for enhanced appeal. You should also consider updating the look of your house by removing dated items.

Replace these with a few well-chosen accessories, fresh flowers or lighter drapes that brighten up your house. By simply changing the hardware on kitchen and bathroom cabinets this cost-effective upgrade will take years off the look of dated cabinets.bright-bedroom-design-ideas-6

STAGING – Context Is Key

People aren’t buying houses, they are buying homes. Most potential home buyers want to see where they can fit in that home. Without being able to see furniture in the rooms, it just looks like a big empty space and potential buyers will find it hard to visualize themselves in the space.

Here are some reasons why you should never try to sell your home empty:

It is hard to tell the size of a room when there is no reference point.  Furniture will allow the buyer to see the scale of the room and sometimes even make it look larger then if it were empty. A small empty bedroom can leave one wondering if a bed even fits. Most potential buyers do not have a sense of size from reading numbers on a promotional sheet. They need some sort of reference point to make the connection to their own stuff.

Potential buyers will focus on negatives in the home rather then looking at the overall picture.  Maybe there is a scratch in the flooring, a light switch in an inconvenient spot or a bar missing from the closet. All of these negatives are easier to spot in an empty room. Instead of looking at the overall flow, the buyer is concentrating on what needs to be fixed or critiquing furnishings like light fixtures, woodwork, countertops.

Marble Hall and Staircase

Empty rooms can distract buyers from the home. They may be focusing more on why the home is empty rather then deciding if it is the right home for them. Did they get a divorce? Have they moved away? Are they trying to sell fast because there are too many problems? These are questions they may be asking because the home is so empty and nothing is catching their eye. They may even be asking themselves maybe they are desperate and I can make a low offer?

So be sure to stage each room with items to help the potential buyers see the purpose and potential layout of the room.  Even if the house is not fully furnished it is important to at least paint the picture of what could go on in each particular room for potential buyers. A vacant house is depressing, show the cheerful side of your house.

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