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When is the last time you really lived in the moment?  I mean where you were totally focused on what was right in front of you and enjoying every minute of it without thinking about your to-do list or anything else. 

This is a tough one for me sometimes, but last night I did it and it was awesome!!  I took my little guy Brian on a mommy/son date.  We went to see Mr. Popper’s Penguins - just the two of us (almost literally - there were only three other people in the whole theatre).  We cuddled, ate popcorn, and enjoyed the movie.  He said thank you so  many times and said he would never forget the special night we went to the movies with just us (almost made feel guilty because we don’t do these things often enough).   Of course I had a million other things I could have done, but NOTHING more important than creating a special moment with my baby boy.

One of the benefits of “getting organized” is that you have more time to do the things you enjoy.  The more you take time to enjoy life, the happier and more energized you feel.  This energy helps you to keep tackling and accomplishing your organzing taks.  It all goes hand-in-hand.

What Simple Pleasure can you indulge in today?   I encourage you to take a break, nurture yourself and your family, and recharge.  Keep practicing living in the moment!

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Matching socks has always been a nemesis of mine, and don’t get me started on the onesies.  Where do they go?  I’ve tried mesh bags, plastic clips, and safety pins, but none of been successful.  These sock organizers by neatfreak are awesome!  They can go in the washer, dryer, clothes line, and right back to the sock drawer.  Very cool – very organized.

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Get Organized in 15 Minutes or Less

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Containers are a great way to keep things organized and are easy on the eyes!

When you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, it’s time to get back to basics. Here are some simple things you can do to “fan the organizing flame” and start a “blaze” of progress towards a simple, clutter-free home.
  • Toss old magazines and catalogs. If you think you’re going to miss something then use the “tear and toss” method. Rip out the article and put it in a “to Read” file and toss the rest (it’s 75% advertisements anyway).
  • Gather up all the pens and markers and test them to see which ones are still good. Toss all the dried up pens and markers and organize the rest into pencil boxes. Store them in convenient locations throughout the house.
  • Clear the empty hangers out of your closets (especially the old wire ones).
  • Clean out all the real “junk” in the junk drawer (garbage, old keys, dried up pens). When you have another 15 minutes, organize what is left into small drawer trays.
  • Get a box or bin and fill it with all those borrowed items you need to return.
  • Start a donation box – go from room to room finding items you no longer need. You will be amazed at how quickly you will fill it.
  • Get rid of old makeup or makeup you never wear.
  • Toss torn underwear and socks.
  • Throw out the expired food from the fridge.
  • Toss expired medicines.
  • Hang up all coats that are lying around and put away all the shoes in their proper places.
  • Gather the stray toys and put them in a bin or basket to have the kids put away.
  • Put all the books on the book shelf.
  • Purge some papers from your filing cabinet, or file a stack of papers.
  • Sort through the mail.
  • Put away the clean laundry.
  • Repair a broken item, or sew on a missing button.
  • Prepare a menu and grocery list for the week.
  • Respond to a couple of emails or return a phone call.
  • Make lunches for the next day.
  • Clean out one drawer or cupboard in the kitchen.
  • Put all the movies and Cd’s back in their cases.
  • Create a couple of outfits for the week.
  • Delete 50 emails from your in-box or one of your email files
  • Sort through a stack of old photos and toss all the blurry or unflattering ones.
Take some before and after shots of your latest organizing projects and send them to me to be featured in my next “Ott GO Tip” Newsletter and Blog Post.

Today is National Pack Rat Day!

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Not sure if you’re a pack rat?  Ask  yourself these questions….

Do I “own my stuff” or does “my stuff own me”?

Are my collections so large that they are taking over my shelves, window sills and counters?

Am I paying hundreds of dollars a year for a storage unit because my basement is already stuffed?

Are my magazine racks holding magazines over a decade old?

You get the picture…..

It is time to show your “stuff” who’s boss and send your inner pack rat packin’…….

Take some action today and ask yourself, “why” do I keep holding on?

  • Is it sentimental? If you do not have room to honor it or use it, give it to another family member who will treasure it.
  • Is there perceived value? It is worth nothing if you are not using or enjoying it, so get some money out of it.  Take it to a consignment shop, sell it on eBay, or have a yard sale.
  • Will I feel guilty if I get rid of it? If the person who gave it to you loves you they would not want you to feel burdened with something that you do not like or have no use for.  Find someone who needs it, and donate it. Give that amazing bird candle to a bird lover, or that awesome talking fish to your favorite outdoors-man.
  • Am I really going to take up that hobby again? If you used to knit, but realize that you no longer have time for it anymore, go ahead and donate your supplies.  Give it to the ladies at the retirement home, or donate it to the knitting club at the high school.
  • Will I need it “someday”? Probably not!  But, go ahead and designate one big tote as the “might need it later box”.  Write the date you are placing the item in the box on a post-it note and stick it on the item.  Every six months to a year go through the box, if you have not used the item, it is time to say good-bye.
  • Am I afraid to let go of information? Use the tear and toss method with all those magazines.  Make a commitment to go through three magazines a day.  Quickly flip through for anything that you think might be interesting to read or keep for reference. Tear out the item, staple it, place it in a page protector, and put it in a 3 ring binder labeled “To Read”.  Recycle the magazine,  70% of it are advertisements that are taking up space in your house.
  • Do I need to repair it? Fix it, or toss it.  Get out the super glue and put it back together, sew that button on, or take it to someone who can do it for you.  Just do it.

So, what can I keep?  Ask yourself these questions….

  • Do I love it?
  • Does it make me feel good?
  • Do I use it frequently?
  • Do I have room for it?

If you answered yes to all of these questions then go ahead and keep it!

Send this article to a pack rat that you love.

It is said that, “Procrastination is the thief of time”. We all procrastinate to some degree – you know…those undesirable tasks like cleaning the bathroom or going through the piles of paper on your desk.  They are not fun, but they must be done!

The trick to good time management is to work smarter, not harder.  The following five strategies are the same ones I teach my students for getting a handle on homework and studying for tests.  They really work!  Try them out.

1.    Chunk It. Rather than spending three hours cleaning out the garage, plan to work one hour a day for three days.  This is a very good strategy for those chores or big projects that feel daunting or unpleasant.  Spending 60 minutes at a time, rather than saving it for a last minute marathon session will save you a lot of stress, and you will most likely do a better job on the task.

2.    Plan It. We all have fun things we would rather be doing – the key is balance between work and play.  Is this you?  You don’t work effectively because you have so much on your mind, or you feel guilty when you are not working because there is so much to get done.  A good time plan is a very effective way to handle procrastination.  Actually block out time on your calendar for your project, and stick to it.

3.   Reduce It. Some call this the “making a molehill out of a mountain” method.  If you have a habit of procrastinating try this.  The next time you’re tempted to put off doing something you know you should, ask yourself, “what is the NEXT action I need to take?”  Overwhelm is one of the main reasons we procrastinate, so the key is to reduce the size of the task – over and over and over — until you get it done!

4.    Discipline Yourself. Did you know that procrastination and perfectionism often go hand-in-hand?  Some of us feel that if we can’t do a project “just right” we can’t do it all, or we put if off and off and off.  We leave ourselves an “emotional out”.  We didn’t have time to do it well, so it isn’t a true reflection of our abilities and we don’t lose any self-esteem over it.  It is important to try and figure out why you procrastinate and deal with the root issue, so you can learn to self-discipline and overcome your block.

5.    Ask for Help. There are many people who can help you with time management and organization.

  • Find someone you trust and is a good fit with your personality.  Ask them lots of questions and what kinds of methods they use.
  • Look at the costs and benefits of procrastination.  Would it actually save you time and money to have someone help you?  Just this week I spent four hours with one of my clients going through paperwork.  We found $79 in cash and change and four checks for $80 each.  She made money having me help her. 
  • Don’t beat yourself up.  We all struggle with different areas in our lives.  Get the support you need.  Remember BALANCE is the key!  Take breaks when needed so when it comes time to focus you feel refreshed and capable.

Do you ever feel like you are running in circles and nothing is actually getting accomplished?  Some projects seem so daunting you want to avoid them all together.   If you need a little boost, and want to get a project “started” and “finished”, here is my ACTION PLAN to help you organize any space.

Assess your space. What purpose will it serve? What kinds of activities will take place here? Start by making a list of all the activities and/or functions of your space. Now determine how much time and energy you think it will take to complete the task. Set aside some uninterrupted time to complete your task. Now you have a road map and timeline for your project. This is your focus and your goal, just stay on task.

Clear everything out of the space (within reason). If you are tackling a room with a lot of large furniture, then you want to remove as many of the smaller items as possible. If you are working on a closet, clear everything out. Put things in like piles (clothes, linens, shoes), you get the idea. This will make your next step easier.

Toss or give away what you no longer use or need. You should have the following 4 categories:
 Throw away
 Give away
 Keep in the space
 Store somewhere else
For most of you, this will be one of the toughest steps. We carry a lot of emotional attachments to our “things”. Be brutal! Ask yourself: Is this item useful? Have I actually used it, worn it, displayed it in the last year? Is it in good condition? Do I have multiples? Now pick a category and put it in the pile. Don’t be a hopper – If you have an item that needs to go to a new location, put it in the “store somewhere else” pile and keep going. It is better to stay put and avoid distractions but, don’t forget to take breaks. Fatigue can cause you to make poor decisions, so clear your head and renew your energy so you can get your project FINISHED!

Inventory what is left. This is where you need to double check and make sure everything that is left fits in with your original vision for the space. If it does, you are over half way there and ready for the fun part. Think of things in terms of broad categories. If you get caught up in tiny details you will get frustrated. Here is an example: If you are organizing scrapbook supplies your categories might be photos, paper, pages, pens, memorabilia and embellishments. Keep it simple. For more ideas on organizing photos and memorabilia go to my resources page at www.otttogetorganized.com.

Organize. Implement new organizational systems to keep things in order. You have worked hard and you deserve a beautifully organized space. If you have closet space or shelving for your items, containers are the best option for the clean, efficient look you are after. I like to use clear bins with lids that are easily stackable. You can find inexpensive bins in a variety of sizes at all major houseware stores. Items used most frequently should be easily accessible – put less frequently used items on the harder to reach shelves. Avoid stacking more than 3 high – you want quick and easy access. When organizing rooms, remember the less visual clutter, the more peaceful your space will feel. If you have a lot of collectible items, display them in like groupings. They are more interesting all together and less stressful to the eye. One designer tip: display things in odd numbers 3′s, 5′s and 7′s.

New space – Yeah you did it!!! 
Give yourself a pat on the back.
Now that you have a clean, clutter-free,
functional space, you need a PLAN to keep it that way.

Prioritize time for upkeep. As much as we wish things would just stay that way forever, life goes on and people actually mess up our beautiful masterpieces. It’s much easier to take a few minutes each day to maintain order in your space, than it is to keep repeating major overhauls. If an item is out of place, put it away. Everything has a home now.

Learn how to use your new systems effectively. If you buy a fancy filing system for your home office, but don’t have a clue how to implement it, it will be a waste of time and money. Make sure the systems and storage solutions you choose are easy to use.

Analyze whether your new space is working for you. Everyone has their own unique style. Customize your space for you and your family. You are the ones who have to live in it. Don’t be afraid to tweak your systems so they are perfect for you. Just because it is called a shoe box, doesn’t mean you can’t use it ten different ways. If you have tried using your new organizing systems and they aren’t working for you, give them to someone else that will appreciate them, and try something new. Remember all of your systems should be simple and efficient, not complicated. Your goal is ease and less stress.

Now RELAX! Once you have a place for everything, maintenance will be much easier.  Now take some time to enjoy the things you really love! Life is more than a To-Do list.  Have fun!

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