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Organizing Tips

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5 Tips for an Organized Summer

1. Keep Routines
School’s out and kids and parents alike are ready to buck the routine and schedules and be free to embark on later night BBQ’s, movies in the park, and lots of traveling.  Be sure you give your kiddos some calm nights at home with their normal bedtime routines at least a few nights a week.  You don’t want your kids crashing and burning before the summer even gets started!

2. Create a Bucket List
Nothing says organization like a list!  Get the kids in on the fun and brainstorm all the fun activities you’d like to partake in this summer. Maybe even pull out the calendar and discuss when you can do some of the bigger things on your list.  Let the kids check off the list. It will keep you more organized and teach your kids about the value of planning!

3. Organized Fun in the Sun
Create a space in your home (perhaps in your foyer, laundry room, or garage) where you store all of your pool and beach gear.  Designate 1 big bag for the beach and one for the pool and keep it stocked with sunscreen, toys, and any other gear your family likes to bring. All you’ll need to throw in are clean towels, change of clothes, and some snacks and drinks and you’re ready for fun in the sun!

Adelinesunset

Art by Adeline (my amazing 9yo)

4. Organized Camping
Truthfully I delegate this job to my husband, but if you’re a family that likes to camp, designate several big bins (and maybe even label them) with all of the necessary gear you’ll need for a fun, family camping trip.  A bin for your kitchen gear, one for bedding, one for flashlights, bug spray and other supplies, and so on.  Keep them all in a dedicated area of your garage.  Each time you camp you have a new opportunity to evaluate and refine your gear.  Keep a list of new things to add while you’re camping and upon your return pull out unnecessary items.  Soon your camping adventures will run like a  well-oiled machine and you can spend more time having fun with your friends and family.

5. Let the Kids Help Out
With the kids off school, now is a great time to get them involved with projects around the house. From purging their rooms, to washing windows, to cleaning out the pantry, and organizing the garage, there are lots of projects that kids of all ages can help out with on some level.  Accomplish a big task as a family and reward yourselves with an afternoon at the pool or ice cream with friends.  Teaching your kids that working hard makes playing even more fun is such a great lesson!

Time Management for Moms

Whether you have 5 kids or 1, you work full-time, part-time, or are home with the kids full-time, there are a few things that are certain for all of us mamas.  We all have 24 hours in a day, and it rarely feels like enough. We are all being pulled in many directions by the needs of others: children, spouses, employers, parents, siblings, and friends. We are tired, we don’t prioritize our own needs enough, and whether our houses are spic and span or we are too embarrassed to have our closest friends over, we could all do a better job of managing our time. As a mom and professional organizer I find this area to be the biggest challenge for my clients as well as myself, but it often gets neglected. In lieu of managing time, we attempt to manage the physical chaos around us, but without time to maintain the progress we have made, things always backslide over time. There is an entire segment of the organizing industry dedicated to time management as well as countless books (see my recommended reading below), but I will share with you a few secrets that I have learned during my time as a stay-at-home mom turned self-employed mom that will be a start to making time just a little easier for you to manage.

1. One Notebook

Life is a continuous influx of things to buy, calls to make, emails to send, projects to work on, events to plan. We get a call or an email with important info and we grab a post-it note here, jot a note on the back of an envelope there, start a to-do list on various scraps of paper. At the end of the day, who knows where half of these notes end up? ONE NOTEBOOK I say! Find a notebook that you love, that is the size that you can handle carrying with you in your purse or bag, a notebook that you won’t forget about. Anytime you get a call, or an email and need to jot it down; anytime you have a stroke of genius, or are brainstorming for a project, or you have a random thought in the middle of the night write it down in ONE NOTEBOOK. You can write and rewrite your to-do list a thousand times in this space.  You can review, revise, and rip out pages if you want. Think of your notebook as your most beloved container, and you will always know where to look.

2. One Calendar

As mothers we are tasked with scheduling our work, our vacations, our meetings, our home related tasks, as well as appointments and activities for all family members. We are vital to the functioning of our families. The calendar is the glue that holds all the crazy together. I see so many people that use their Google calendar but they also have some things on a wall calendar, and then they also have a paper planner. One drawer for eating utensils, one drawer for socks, ONE CALENDAR for your whole family’s schedule. I won’t tell you it has to be a digital calendar because some people just really prefer paper.  It just needs to be a calendar that everyone will access and use.

3. Power Couple

Now that you have one notebook to contain all of your thoughts, goals, ideas, and to-dos and one calendar to view all of the appointments, meetings, and activities of your family, let them work together to be the power couple of your life. Look at your to-do list, and decide WHEN you will do each task. Input your to-dos into your calendar.  Whether you set a specific time of day, or you just keep it general that you will do it sometime that day, set a day. If it’s a recurring activity that you always seem to forget like changing the furnace filter, put it on your calendar.  If you have a bill that gets paid on the same day every month and you can’t seem to remember, put it on your calendar.  Need to buy something for your kid’s class, or a gift for a birthday party, or pick up the dry cleaning?  Put it on the calendar.

Contact me today for more individualized help managing your time!
Decluttering with a Conscience

As a professional organizer, I stand firm that people generally live their lives filled with way too much stuff.  The stuff fills their closets, their garages, their living spaces, and even their bedrooms.  We bring these items into our homes with the best of intentions, but then they get lost in the shuffle of our hectic lives.  They sit in forgotten places in our homes where they become essentially without value to us. After working with many people to declutter their homes I can say there is an overriding theme that permeates most people’s attitudes toward their clutter and that is GUILT. This guilt doesn’t always change our consumption habits, but it often impedes the process of letting go.

I propose a paradigm shift. What if every time you cleared your unused or unwanted belongings you could rest assured that they would be reused or recycled?  What if you could be sure that your items were going to people thrilled to have them and that would greatly benefit from your generosity. The old adage “One man’s trash, is another man’s treasurer” really does hold true. You just need to know where to look. On my website I have shared with you many resources for donating and recycling your unwanted items.  Though I love Goodwill for its convenience, there are many other resources around San Diego.  For example, ArtFORM, a non-profit that brings art education workshops to schools, youth groups, and the community for little or no cost, accepts a long list of office, art, and other items that Goodwill would not be able to resell.  San Diego’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which helps provide affordable homeownership opportunities for hard-working families, accepts donations of building materials and home furnishings and will even pick up on request.

If you’re items are no longer usable, but you would like to recycle them, San Diego offers curbside recycling.  Check out a current list of what’s accepted. Did you know that they will pick up plastic crates, totes, laundry baskets, pallets and even lawn furniture?   Have you ever wondered about what to do with all of those stained, unusable textiles in your home from underwear and stained clothing to old sheets, towels, and even rags?  Non-profit organizations that collect clothing for donation (think non-profit collection bins, Goodwill, and many more) sell their unusable textiles to SMART for reuse and recycling purposes.  SMART stands for Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles. Here’s a list of items that can be recycled if donated.  And if you don’t know exactly how to recycle an item, check I Love a Clean San Diego or Earth911 for more resources.

Though I do believe that there also needs to be a shift in our consumption habits on a large scale, that is a topic for another time.  For now, know that when you are ready to let go of your clutter, which will benefit your physical and emotional health in drastic ways, there are many organizations out there ready to take your trash and turn it into treasures.

Say No To Clutter and Yes To Being Present

I never know quite what the statute of limitations is on saying “Happy New Year!” but the feeling of new beginnings is definitely on my mind still 2 weeks into the year.  I’m not crazy about the concept of New Year’s Resolutions only because they are the brunt of jokes just about as much as they are taken seriously.  I am, however, a HUGE fan of setting goals, especially goals that speak to the core of your life’s desires.  This year my goal is to be more present:  more present with my kids, more present with my husband, more present with my friends and family, more present with my clients, and more present with myself.  In a life that is generally filled to the brim with motherly and household duties, kids’ activities, volunteer commitments, running a small business, and an active social calendar, this is NO SMALL TASK.  Instead of rushing from one task to the next dragging my family behind or leaving them in the dust, I am making a commitment to SLOWING DOWN.  Life is only so long and I want to miss as little of the good stuff as I can. When my children speak to me, I want to look at them, listen to their words, and respond in a manner that lets them know that Mommy is listening and cares about them.  When my husband speaks to me, I want him to know that I love him and that our relationship is a priority in my life.  When my girlfriends, parents, and sisters call, I want them to know how important their relationship is to me. When my clients speak to me, I want them to believe that I am truly listening to their unique stories and focusing all of my energy on helping to make a difference in their homes and in their lives.  And I want to be present for my own mind and body.

In order to become more present my goal is to clear the clutter of my life and simplify.  While it’s true that as a professional organizer my home is not drowning in clutter (though with 2 kids in the house that is always a work in progress), I definitely have a weakness for acquiring other types of clutter.  These types of clutter fill my calendar and my daily activities and probably make me look like a hamster running on a wheel.   These types of clutter keep me from slowing down and being present with the people that need my attention the most.

Time Clutter

Over the years that I have been a mother (and quite possibly long before then) I mastered the art of over-commitment.  You know that chick at the PTA meeting that decides that she is the perfect person to take on pretty much every task?  That’s me!  I’m not sure if my ego’s drive is the need to feel useful, the need to overachieve, or a lack of trust in other’s efficiency, but whatever the reason, it can’t be healthy.  I like to think that my motivation is my children and their educational experience, but I’m quite confident they would much prefer me sitting and listening to them than creating spreadsheets for the latest fundraiser.  You will still find me volunteering because on some level it brings me a lot of joy, but I commit to letting others step in so that I can slow down and be present with those I love.

Habit Clutter

This clutter might be even harder for me.  As a busy mom and business owner, I do pretty much everything related to everything via my smartphone. My name is Beth, and I am a smartphone addict.  Too often I find myself checking my calendar, my email, responding to texts, or reading some completely random post on my newsfeed.  The minutes get sucked away as I stare at that screen.  In the meantime I could be chatting with my daughters, laughing with my husband, reading a good book, or maybe even nothing at all!

When I’m not neurotically tapping away at my phone, you can find me straightening and straightening the house (because disorganization makes me crazy).  Ironic as it sounds considering my profession, there is something to be said (especially if your house is already essentially organized and clean enough) for just being in the moment, as it is.  There will be time for clean up and organizing later (maybe during a scheduled focused time when you can even be present for that activity). Perhaps the habitual incessant motion of a job never done is its own sort of habit clutter that could be cleared to make time for more presence.

In a nutshell, I hope in the new year I can take my decluttering to a whole new level, decluttering my calendar, my to-do list, and my head space, so that I can be present in each moment as it comes.  At the end of it all, I hope those I love will be able to say that I lived my life to its fullest and appreciated all of my blessings.  As much as I LOVE TO ORGANIZE, an immaculate home brings peace of mind, but being present for life’s experiences is what it’s all about.

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I’d love to hear about some of your goals for 2015 and how you are working to make them successful!  And if one of your goals is to clear your physical clutter in order to have more time, space, and presence of mind this year, I’m your girl.  I would love to be present with you and help you strategize the best way to make that a reality this year.

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