Blog Archives

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

Holiday Stress Busters

Be realistic. We often start off the holiday season with lots of great ideas for family fun, decorating, parties, gifts and crafts.  Now is the time to take a step back and look realistically at the time frame you have remaining to get all these things done on top of your regular activities.

Remember that these fun ideas can become “one more thing” on your To Do list.  Pick a few things you would like to be involved in and enjoy them.  Save the other ideas for another year or as a way to ward off winter blues in the New Year.

Maintain your regular exercise routine.  Don’t slip up simply because you have some extra errands to do.  Don’t schedule your workouts around your other activities; schedule your other activities around your workout routines.  Try to go
to the gym, swim or exercise at home at the same time each day.  Give yourself and loved ones the best gift of all this holiday and take care of your health first.

Feel pulled in a million directions?
  If your children need you at school concerts, work has extra holiday hours for you or your friends need you to help plan a big holiday party, keep in mind that you won’t be of use to anyone if you over exhaust yourself.  Take a break each day for yourself.  Plan it in your calendar as you would for meetings with family and friends.  Schedule “you” time for at least 15-30 minutes each day doing something that you enjoy.  Whether it’s reading a good book,
going for a manicure or journal writing, take the time to relax and do things you want to do.

Learn to say no. Don’t take something on assuming you will find the time to get it done.  Practice with your family.  Separate
what really needs to get done from what would be nice if it got done
.  Focus on getting things that have to get done and delegate or hold off on the rest.  The holidays should be an enjoyable time for everyone, don’t let yourself become a slave to the season.

Eat properly.  Don’t use the holidays and stress as a reason to over eat.  Although the holidays always seem to bring with them sweet treats and extra appetizers, don’t let them tempt you.  Remember, just because someone offers you something, you do not have to accept.  It is not considered rude to politely pass on a food.  If you start something and know you should stop, pack it up and take it home for a snack or meal later.  There is no rule saying you must eat everything on your plate or everything that is handed to you.  Pick and choose the healthiest foods and indulge on those.  Eat smaller portions of your selected treats.  

Although some people think alcohol decreases your stress, it is only a temporary solution.  Try to stay away from consuming too many cocktails as this will interfere with your diet and overall well-being.  If you are careful with what you drink, you will also eliminate consuming too much at holiday parties which in turn could save you some added stress when you get on the scale.

Cut down your gift giving list.  If you have too many people to buy gifts for this year, make a smaller list. Many people will understand and be relieved of the stress and pressure of time and money just as you will be.  This works for especially well for larger families.  Gather for a cookie or gift exchange where each person is only required to bring one item or send a thoughtful Christmas card instead.

Stick to a budget. Financial woes top of the list of relationship issues.  Don’t put an extra strain on yourself and your relationship by running up big bills this season.  You will decrease your quality of living by increasing stress: wondering how you are going to pay your bills, working extra hours to keep creditors at bay, and doing without things you actually need because you wanted to have the “best Christmas
ever.”

Decide ahead of time how much you are going to spend on each person on your list. Remember that it really is the thought that counts, and not the size or number of presents.

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Jackpot! How to Make Garage Sale Gold

Organize a great garage sale 

Garage sales are a simple and fun way to clear out some unwanted clutter from your home. If you’re downsizing or just looking to let go of items you don’t use anymore, garage sales are a great way to make some money, meet your neighbours and de-clutter your home.

Organize Anything has come up with some great tips to make sure you hit garage sale gold.

1) It’s all about timing. Traditionally garage sales take place on Saturday mornings between June and October. If you live in a university town, aim to have your sale in late August/early September to take advantage of the students coming back.  Set up your table early in the
morning
– serious buyers start early and will visit many sales in one day.

2) Product placement. If you haven’t used it or worn it in a while, sell it. If you’re only keeping it because it was a gift, sell it. Baby equipment, sporting goods, furniture, tools, books, small appliances, toys and framed art are best sellers. Clothes don’t sell well. Put a big item or something eye-catching closest to the road. You want to attract positive attention from
passers-by.

3) Garage sale doesn’t equal garbage dump. Don’t sell something you wouldn’t buy. If an item is in serious disrepair, old, or not attractive, don’t waste your time or your customers’ by putting it out for sale.

4) Garage sales are a team effort. The more people involved in your sale, the better it will be. Recruit family members
to help you set up your tables and monitor customers. You’ll also need helpers to assist customers in moving heavy purchases to their cars. Make sure that you always have one person dedicated to running the cashbox. If you’ve got younger children in the family, why not have them run a refreshment stand? It’s a great opportunity to teach them about money.

5)  Advertising. Beyond the tried-and-true method of putting posters on the telephone poles in your neighbourhood the week before, there are several other approaches to letting people know about your sale. Post notices on the community bulletin boards of your local community center, supermarket and schools. People will stop if they see a crowd, so recruit family members to “shop” if you’re worried about traffic flow. Post the information online on websites like Kijiji.com. Email your friends and family – don’t forget to promote items that will get attention like couches, TVs or novelty
items.

6) The price is right. Garage sales traditionally sell items for less than $50. Exceptions being newer furniture or home electronics. If you have antiques or higher priced items you would like to sell, consider contacting an appraiser or holding an estate auction. Go through the items you want to sell before the sale and price them. Put a sticker on them in an obvious place and record the item in a notebook that you keep at the cash register.

7) Colour coded. You may want to colour code items to make it easier for yourself and customers to know how much something is selling for, green = $5, blue = $10 and so on. You can also have tables with items under for a dollar or two
dollars – get creative and make it easy for you to manage.

8)  The weather factor. A perk of the garage sale is being able to spend the day outdoors. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. Use your garage or have a tarp or a tent handy in case you wake up on the morning of your sale and it’s
raining. The tent will also be handy the day turns into a scorcher and you need
to escape to the shade.

So next time you need to let go of a lot of the clutter in your home, pick a Saturday and plan for rain or shine. Recruit your family members, tell your neighbours and lay out your wares. You’ll have fun and you’ll even make a little money in the end.

Being Organized Takes the Sting Out of Tax Time

A few simple reminders to save you money:

  • If you plan to seek expert advice during the tax season, look early
  • If using an expert, bring everything related to your taxes, including last year’s information   
  • Have a system to separate all your paperwork- this could be envelopes, an accordion file or file folders
  • After you have organized your papers and receipts in categories, flatten them out and have them upright to save time for you or the expert.

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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

How to Save 30 Minutes in the Morning

Professional Organizer Colette Robicheau shares the best tips to save half an hour in the morning.

She shares how to’s for the night ahead prep, lunch prep, the importance of using timers and laying out your wardrobe the night before.

If you have any questions, or would like to book Colette to help you find time in your schedule, you can visit us online at www.organizeanything.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/organizeanything, on Twitter at twitter.com/organizenow or at our blog: www.organizeanything.wordpress.com

Capturing Inspiration

Harnessing Your Brilliant Moments

Many people get their best ideas when they are doing a mundane task where their minds are able to wander. For me it’s long drives in the car, on the elliptical and more often in the shower.

When inspiration hits at an inopportune time, whether you’re halfway through your lather-rinse-repeat cycle or just about to drift off to sleep, it’s important to remind yourself to jot it down. At Organize Anything we like to be able to capture our great ideas on the fly, so we’ve put together a list of tips and tricks to help you jot down even your most fleeting brilliant ideas.

1.   Brilliant ideas in bed. If you’re prone to being struck with inspiration right before you close your eyes for the night, reach over and turn your alarm clock upside down, lay the nightstand lamp on its side, place a shoe in a drawer or drape your housecoat over a lamp. In the morning when you wake up, your first thought will be “Why did I do that?” Then your natural memory will take over and remind you.

2.   Flip out in the shower. Did your conditioner spark a creative idea this morning? Reach out and flip your shower mat. You’ll link the idea to the physical action and after you towel off you’ll be able to remember the idea so you can write it down.

3.   Don’t stress over memorization. Albert Einstein famously said “Never memorize something you can look up.” In this case, don’t worry about getting every detail written down. If you can remember the framework of your idea, the rest will come to you.

4.   Kitchen inspiration. Keep a whiteboard in your kitchen so you’ve got a handy place to jot down ideas when they hit. Attach a marker by string to it, and you won’t lose your thought while searching for a dry-erase marker.

5.   Early morning musings. When you’re making your breakfast and getting ready for work, you don’t want to be rooting around for writing tools. Keep a recording device handy in the kitchen if you find yourself inspired over toast. A voice memo can be transcribed and followed up on after you’ve had your coffee and start on your day.

6.   Tools to help. If you’re a shower genius who needs to capture ideas right away, we love using waterproof pens and paper – like scuba divers use! You can write down that missing link to your next work presentation even with the water running.

These tips and tools will help you keep track of the great ideas that come to you spur-of-the-moment. Memory is subjective, and capturing your brainwaves before the thought is gone is a great way to keep yourself fresh and motivated.

Scheduling Tools for Home and Office

Manage Your Office and Family From Your Home Page

Did you know that a great ally in getting your life organized and streamlined is just a click away – and it’s free?!

At Organize Anything we’re big fans of the Google Calendar. So often we think that electronic calendars are just for the office, but we’ve discovered that Google Calendar works great for the busy family too.

Here are some really fun and easy ways to use the Google Calendar to streamline your office and home organization.

1) Colour code it. Assign every member of your office/team/family a unique colour. Every time they enter an appointment/meeting/practice into the calendar it will display in that colour so a quick glance tells you who’s doing what.

2) Choose your view. Find a month view overwhelming? You can customize the view of your calendar to be daily or weekly if you want to stay focused on the here and now. The best part? Everyone who accesses the calendar can choose a different way to view it!

3) Sync it. Once you have a Calendar set up (and it’s as easy as getting a Gmail.com account), you can sync the calendar on your smart phone with your Google Calendar. This means your busy teenager on-the-go can update their schedule as they sit rink-side at hockey practice, or the office administrator can update schedules in real-time during a conference call.

4) Combine it. The great thing about this app is that you can make parts of it private and others public. Your office manager doesn’t need to see your 7th grader’s project due dates – so you can simply make that calendar private. Chose who sees what and when – with you getting all the information you need with a mouse click.

5) Schedule meetings. Need to get the office together or plan a family meeting? You can create an event and invite everyone who uses your calendar to attend. They can RSVP right from the Google account and on-the-go.

6) Access anywhere. It’s cloud based and covers all devices so works for everyone almost anywhere and anytime.

7) Reminders to take action. You can set three types of reminders to ensure you never miss an appointment or meeting. Popup reminders display on your computer screen if you leave your calendar open – they also appear on your phone. Email reminders can be set for anytime – I will often have an email reminder of key appointments a day early so I can make sure I have all materials gathered that I need. SMS reminders are perfect if you’ve enabled your calendar for mobile integration – your calendar will text you reminders of upcoming meetings.

In this digital age and being constantly on-the-move, having a way to co-ordinate schedules on the go is critical. We love how versatile it is and how you can create calendars for work and family, and keep them all in one place! If you would like to learn more about how productivity tools can help YOU, contact us today.

Tip, Tip, Tip: Know When and Where to Leave a Tip

Do you ever wonder if you are over-tipping or under-tipping, or should be tipping at all?  You are not alone.  Lots of people are unsure how much to tip the bell hop or the tour guide.  They usually end up tipping way too much or not enough.

Organize Anything has put together a handy chart of industry standards of tipping. We’ve also come up with a few ideas and suggestions on how to gracefully handle leaving a tip.

1)   Great service deserves recognition. If you are a patron of a location and appreciate the consistently great service you get, feel free to tip higher than industry standards. Hair stylists, mechanics and your favourite waiter are all people who may expect an inflated tip because you see them on a regular basis and have developed a relationship with them.

2)   Being a great tipper doesn’t excuse being a bad customer. People who work in the service industry remember bad customers more than good customers. Just because you leave a hefty tip doesn’t excuse being rude, or a difficult patron. The staff will remember you’re poor behavior and you may receive less than stellar service the next time you visit.

3)   Think about the big picture when tipping. It’s not your server’s fault if your food is overcooked and it’s not your cab driver’s fault if there’s bad traffic. However if your server delivers cold food and is reluctant to take it back, then that should factor into how much of a tip you leave.

4)   Not leaving a tip leaves a statement. Many people in the service industry make minimum wage because the companies that hire them expect them to earn the accepted minimum in tips. Not leaving a tip because you don’t feel like it can ruin a server’s shift. It will also get you branded as a bad customer by the staff. This doesn’t mean you should reward bad service though! If you receive truly horrible service mention it to the manager and leave a below minimum standard tip.

5)   Here’s a handy chart for some common services and the “industry standard” for tipping:

Job Tip
Mechanic $10-$20 for jobs up to $500, $50 for jobs over $500
Handyman $20-$30 each
Contractors (Foreman) $50
Mover $20-$50 for large, difficult moves.  $10-$20 for small moves
Taxi Driver 15-20% of fare
Take Out Delivery $1-2 or $5 for larger orders
Waiter/Waitress 15 – 20% of bill
Bartenders $1 for beer or wine, $2 for mixed drinks
Hair Stylists 15-20% of bill
Massage Therapist 10 – 20% of a one hour massage
Personal Trainer $50
Priest (for Marriage) $75-100
Wedding DJ $25-100

When in doubt about how much to leave, it is standard in North America to leave between 15 and 20 per cent. We hope that these guidelines will help you next time you need to leave a tip.

If you found the information in this article useful and you’d like to share it, please feel free – just be sure to credit us. For more great tips and information on our services visit us at www.organizeanything.com and be sure to follow us on Twitter @organizenow.

 

Sticky Do’s and Sticky Don’ts

Do use sticky notes for:

  • Marking catalog and magazine pages
  • Reminding your self of special tasks (on bathroom mirror, front door, fridge).
  • Out of office notice-have sticky notes prepared to leave on your office door such as back in 10 minutes, at lunch, working at home, in a meeting.
  • Flow charts and scheduling.
  • To avoid writing on original documents.
  • Brain storming sessions.
  • For quick lists (errands, groceries) to place on your to do list.
  • For daily affirmations. Put a positive message on mirror.
  • To enter the fax number on a document you are faxing.
  • Writing positive notes to employees and family members.

sticky-notes

Don’t use sticky notes for:

  • To remind yourself of day-to-day activities or projects.
  • When there is more than one task to complete.
  • As a record of phone messages. Use a notebook instead.
  • As a method of retaining information on permanent documents. They can get knocked off and will dry out after awhile.
  • To label computer disks and CDs
  • For external or formal correspondence.

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