Sunday, August 27, 2017

Keeping Track of Your To Do’s

Remember the Trapper Keeper days?  And the 5 subject notebook?  We all used them as students but why don’t we use them today?  The concept is still the same, it’s just the subjects have changed.

To-Do’s:  Instead of subject, separate your to do’s into broad categories (personal, business, church for example).  Use a 3 or 5 subject notebook as your one place to store it all.  Create a system to prioritize like highlighting or numbering.  Don’t forget about those to do’s that you keep putting off.  Mix these in with some of your urgent ones.

Projects vs. To Do’s:  There is a difference.  Projects are made up of a lot of to do’s.  That’s why a project can seem so overwhelming and never gets done.  Break up that project and add those to do’s to your list.

Notebook vs. Stickies:  Is your desk and computer overrun by sticky notes?  Use the divided notebooks to keep track of your to do’s/ideas/projects.  Stickies should be used temporarily.  Regularly transfer that information to the appropriate section of the notebook.  

There is no one way to keep track of your to do’s.  Build upon the systems that are currently working for you. But take it one task at a time and be patient.  Conquer a couple each day or set a time limit.  And in today’s digital era, sometimes a good old notebook will do just fine.  Just be sure that you don’t lose it because you can’t back it up!  


Photo credit:  http://1980sjunk.blogspot.com/2011/01/trapper-keeper.html

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Take A Bite Out Of Clutter  

You know the music...Duuun dun duuun dun!! You are swimming in a sea of clutter and are waiting for that shark fin to appear out of nowhere and take you under! In honor of Shark Week, learn how to take a bite out of clutter, one nibble at a time.


Start small:
You are not going to organize your house in one weekend. You will be destined to fail if you do. Most of us are overwhelmed with the prospect of getting started or where to begin. Keep your expectations realistic. Chose a drawer, something easy. Try not to work in a highly emotional area. Allow for small chunks of time and as you move from area to area, you can stretch that out. Start in one area of the room and work your way around it.


Sort like with like:
Sometimes before you can make a decision of whether you are keeping/tossing that black cardigan, you have to see how many you have.


2 minute rule:
Inevitably you will come across to do’s or a project. Take note but put them aside and continue sorting. Exception might be if the task will take less than 2 minutes to complete, then just complete it vs. putting it on your to do list.


Get a buddy:
We have more fun when we have company. He/she can serve as a sounding board, provide comic relief and help pass the time. Make sure your buddy is positive. Avoid those who will judge or criticize your decisions.


Hire a professional:
Sometimes getting a buddy isn’t enough. Your friend or your family member may not be suited to work alongside you. They may be too close to the situation. So having a third party helps provide a clear, objective voice.


It is safe to get back into the water.

So, proceed with caution and start in shallow waters.  Don’t jump into the deep too quickly.  Small, deliberate steps to organizing can get you off to the right start.  You will find it easier, even enjoyable!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Being Productive Through Automation

As a professional organizer, I primarily work in homes and small businesses.  I help people emotionally detach from their things.  But during the sorting and purging process, I am also discussing how we can improve the work flow and make life easier.  Organizing and productivity go hand in hand.  So I wanted to share some ways you can be more productive at home and the office, specifically through automation.
automation
noun  au·to·ma·tion \ˌȯ-tə-ˈmā-shən\
: automatically controlled operation of an apparatus, process, or system
by mechanical or electronic devices that take the place of human labor

First figure out what routine or mundane tasks bother you.  Is there a better way to do it?  Or is there a way to remind you to do it?  This can help those with procrastination too. 

Wardrobe:  Is there a uniform (same top/bottom) you can wear to work?  How about all those orphaned socks from the laundry?  Purchase the same type of socks in a couple of colors.  It will make your morning routine run more smoothly.  And sorting your laundry will be a breeze.

Food: Cook from the same rotating recipes.  Cook in big batches.  Or look into delivery services like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron.

Cleaning:  The last thing we want to do is spend the entire weekend cleaning.  Set up a schedule so you hit every area of the house.  Laundry on Sundays; bathrooms on Mondays etc.  Or, hire a house cleaner!

Shopping: Amazon’s Subscribe & Save sets up frequently used items and automatically ships them at the interval you set up.  And you get those items at a discounted rate.  And many of our grocery stores have a delivery service, like Giant’s Peapod.

Scheduling:  Use your smart phone to schedule routine things like testing your smoke detectors.  Or reminders to pay your estimated quarterly taxes.

Unroll.me:  Cut down on those pesky emails and use this service to one-click unsubscribe.

Social Media:  Create all your content then set up a time for it to post (Facebook has its own scheduler built in).

Admin:  Then there are always those administrative functions within your job that you have to do.
Consider hiring a VA (Virtual Assistant) to handle your social media posts, communications to clients, spreadsheets, bookkeeping or other projects.

Email Marketing:  Mailchimp is now offering marketing automation to all subscribers (paid or not).  This enables you to create a custom communication with your clients/leads then automatically sends it based on the type of action.  Examples: Send a thank you message after someone buys from your website, or a welcome note after they sign up for your e-newsletter.  Send out a note after an event.  Or send out a birthday card to your customers.

CRM:  (customer relationship management) Helps to manage your business relationships and the process/tasks involved.  Stay in touch with your clients and keep track of your leads through the sales funnel.  It’s really important for you to know what you need your CRM to do for you, so you pair up with the right one.  PC Magazine posted the Best CRM’s for 2017.

In summary, first examine if there is a better way to do something.  When it comes to using technology, do your homework.  Make sure it’s the right fit.  Investing your time and money in some of these systems are cheaper than you think.

Note:  RLN Organizing does not receive any compensation for any of the products/services mentioned above.


Thursday, May 11, 2017












Pretend You Are Moving
Spring is the time of year when most Americans are gearing up to move. Think about all the planning that goes into a move. You have to figure out if your current furnishings will even fit into your new space. Are there repairs that need to be made? It gives you the opportunity to go through each and every aspect of your home and make decisions about what you like, what still works, fits etc. But when you are moving, there is a deadline and it’s usually short. So, you either just delay those decisions and pack everything up or part with things you might not have otherwise parted with.


What if you pretended like you were moving?


Since there isn’t an actual move date, you will have more time to make those decisions. What are the things you wouldn’t want to move? It will ultimately save you time and money later. Finally, staging your home is like showcasing your space. You will have more space and are surrounded by the things you absolutely love. Think about how that attracts the buyer! Why wouldn’t you want to be attracted to your own organized home every time you walk into it?  

So, maybe you are in your forever-home or you are in or near a transition in your life. What if you got a do-over? What would you keep or let go of if you could start over? Near retirement? Downsizing a home that you have lived in for decades seems like an insurmountable task. There will be a moving date at some point, so why not start now?

Would pretending to move put you in the right mindset for letting go? Consider this as you clear out your garage, pantry or closet this spring.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hello Old Friend

So, I’ve been saying that a lot lately.  And not to who you would think.  It’s been to inanimate objects!  You know, the smoothie you start drinking again because you are going to give ‘that diet’ another go!  Why do we address people and things this way? Matter of playful affection towards a friend who we’ve known since grade school?  Used in jest as we put on our bikini for the first time in the Summer?
As we sort through our things, we go through this playful or sometimes sinister game with these items:
  • Is it really old and needs to be tossed? Has it worn out its welcome?  
  • Is it really a friend?  Was it kind to you over the years?  You know, that go-to outfit that never disappointed?  
Play the “Friends, Acquaintances and Strangers” game, created by organizing guru Judith Kolberg:
  • Hold each item and evaluate how often you use it and if it has a home;
    • Frequent use=Friend
    • Occasional use=Acquaintance
    • Rare or no use=Stranger
  • Keep your friends, some acquaintances and purge your strangers


Friends come and go and so do the things in our lives.  If it just doesn’t bring you joy in your current life, it’s time to say adieu. Keep those you hold valuable close to you and enjoy!


Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tips to Protect your Memories & Valuables

This time of year is when fires happen the most. Are you prepared?  Do you have an escape plan? How about after the initial emergency is over and it’s time to rebuild?  What things are replaceable and what are not?  Here are some things to do now, before tragedy strikes:

What your insurance company will look for?  They will want proof that the loss occurred.  Meaning, can you provide some sort of document, like a receipt, proving you owned it in the first place?  And can you estimate the original costs for every item?

Home Inventory  Identifying the belongings in your home may seem like an overwhelming task.  Remember that a loss not only includes the structure but its contents too.  So, taking inventory of each room and its contents before a tragedy will help you and your insurance company make you whole a lot more quickly than if just by memory.  You can start by searching your records for sales receipts, purchase contracts and appraisals.  When it comes to your clothes, tally the number of items you own by type, such as shoes and pants, the Insurance Information Institute recommends. Write down the make, model and serial number of appliances and electronic equipment.  Build a simple spreadsheet to capture all this information. List the items by room.  Identify the item, date when acquired, purchase price and any other pertinent information that would help with identifying the replacement value. This exercise is not just a good idea in the case of a catastrophic loss, but also for theft too.  Lastly, don’t forget to update this list yearly.  

Video/Photos  If you don’t have every sales receipt of your belongings then video or photograph them!  This simple task is cheap, easy and quick to do.  Use your smart phone.  Do one video clip per room.  Walk around from one side of the room to the other.  Narrate to give a description of the items you are looking at.  Remember to identify the brand, age, value and any other pertinent information that would help with identifying the replacement value.  If you photograph then be sure you are able to capture the description by using a document to accompany the photographs.  This exercise is also valuable in documenting your items for your estate or will.  These videos or photographs must then be stored digitally and/or remotely (safe deposit box).  Consider cloud storage with an app like Digital Locker.

Memories  What about all your favorite family photos?  Of all the items in your home, most can be replaced.  But for the most part, photos cannot!  In my experience working with homeowners, this project is usually one of the last that gets tackled.  But if there was a fire, flood or other natural disaster, photos are one of the most devastating to lose.   Make this project a priority!  

Step 1: Gather all of your physical and digital pictures. 
Step 2: Create & sort in an order (by year, holiday, family member etc.). 
Step 3:  Scan then store in multiple places.  On your computer(s), external hard drive and in the cloud.  Check out our featured product of the month, Mylio.  Mylio allows you to gather, organize, protect and share your photos across all of your devices.

This project may seem overwhelming.  Enlist the help of your family and friends or hire a professional!  Break it down into steps.  You will sleep easier knowing your memories are protected.  A little planning now can save you so much heartache down the road.


Note:  RLN Organizing does not receive any kind of compensation for product recommendation. Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday Tune-Up

Now is the time to give your home a holiday tune-up.  A little bit of planning now can reduce the stress the season brings:
 
Countdown Calendar
What can you say “No” to this year? Before the list of holiday parties and obligations get underway, examine what your goals are for the holidays. What would make it enjoyable and less stressful for your family?

Are guests coming?  Are you hosting?  What meals are you making?

Look at your list of To-Do’s and begin to put them on your calendar. Smead has a fun downloadable Holiday Events Calendar!  And remember to delegate, delegate, delegate when it comes to completing these tasks. Get your children involved...ask your guests to help with meal planning.

Gift Lists & Budget
Write out who you have to buy for and dig out those gifts you already bought and stashed away.  Have loved ones make an online Wish List. Consider reducing your list...do you really need to buy for your siblings and their significant other?  Make it just about the kids!  Or, agree to pick one name out of a hat for all adults in attendance.

On a budget?  Shop around your house first.  What do you have that you can re-gift? Research gifts you plan to buy.  Will it be online?  Be sure to give it enough time to be delivered.  Consider Amazon Prime - a one-stop-shop and free shipping for 30 days!

Locate Supplies
Gift wrapping - take stock from what you have left over from last year.
 
Holiday cards, stamps - are you doing hand-written cards or using an online company to send them out?
 
Decorations - drag them out of the attic or basement and consider parting with the ones you haven’t used in a couple of years.  Less you have to pack up later!

Remember that completing a task, like sending out cards, requires several little To-Do’s (personalizing the cards, finding addresses, buying stamps etc).  All of which requires different amounts of time.  Be sure to give yourself enough time to complete them while still trying to enjoy the task. After all, we should be enjoying the activities the holiday season brings, right?

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Robin Stankowski
Professional Organizer, Owner
RLN Organizing
Freedom from Clutter
610.737.5879

Website:    www.rlnorganizing.com
Blog:          rlnorganizing.blogspot.com/