Can you believe that fall is here? I love fall, especially watching the trees turn all shades of wonderful colors. Fall brings so many memories every year from jumping in leaf piles, pumpkin and apple picking, hay rides, bonfires and watching the local football teams. My family starts to plan out our DIY Halloween projects we will tackle this season too! Take a minute to enjoy the beautiful leaf colors!
However, fall can be a frantic time. The kids have gone back to school, the juggling of the new schedules from homework to after school activities all with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas rapidly approaching. Fall also brings a range of home chores – from draining sprinkler systems to putting away patio furniture to leaf clean-up. Fall is also a great time to get your trees checked before the harsher weather arrives and get big jobs like window washing completed.
A busy fall means that time management must be your best friend this season. Here are my top tips to help ensure you take time to notice all the wonderful things that this season has to offer:
August blew in like a hurricane and I can't believe that it's almost September! I also can't believe that I will soon have a 2nd grader and a 4th grader. Before then though, we still have a few things left to do on the summer bucket list.
I started to get my kids ready for the new academic year at the beginning of August so that they won't feel the impact as much of no electronics during the day, early bedtimes and chores! I have a couple of checklists on my website for helping with back to school and establishing routines for kids, Below, I've outlined some of the key things that I do to get ready:
I roll back bedtime so that my kids are going to bed earlier than they have been all summer.. I set a limit on electronics and with the help of the kids we create a chore chart. A fun thing I do with the kids is create a paper chain that counts down to the first day of school. It's a great visual aid for all of us. I also create a list of the items that are needed before school begins, such as sneakers, school bags, hair cuts and lunch boxes. This gives us time to get everything done without cramming everything in to the last week!
Three to two weeks before school starts
I start getting the house ready by creating a home work station with all the essentials needed to complete homework. I also go over all the completed forms that I need for the school and drop them off.
One week before school starts
During the final week before school starts I take some time to create a lunch area in my pantry that contains the snacks and juice boxes and the essentials to make lunches. I also create a lunch area in the refrigerator that allows the kids to make lunches easily.
Finally, the most important task that I do before the chaotic days of school start is create a central family calendar, bringing organization into our daily routine! I create this before the middle of August so we have another visual aid and can also ensure we save a few days here and there to shop for supplies, get haircuts etc.
What do you do to get ready for school?
Have you considered hiring a professional organizer but for one reason or another you have decided against it? You are not alone! Many people think that hiring someone to get or keep them organized is foolish and unnecessary. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
Professional organizers are here to help you get your home in order, in a way that works best for your lifestyle. Many people outsource their house cleaning and lawn maintenance so why are people so reluctant to hire an organizer?
I will do it myself!
This is the most common reason people are reluctant to hire a professional organizer. Yes, you can just do it yourself, but…will you? How long have you been talking about organizing your basement, attic, garage, or closets? How many times have you started the project then stopped because you got overwhelmed or frustrated?
A professional organizer can help you through the organization process. The first thing I do when I connect with you is to talk to you about what you want. I listen to you and together, we make an action plan. I guide you through the process from start to finish, help you decide what stays and what goes, and provide you with support and guidance for maintaining organization.
With a professional by your side, your organizing project will get finished in a timely manner leaving your space feeling rejuvenated and refreshed!
They’ll make me get rid of everything!
Professional organizers are not heartless people who believe that purging is the only way to get you back on track. Part of my job is to listen to you and offer support and guidance. This will help you make the best decisions based on how you live, and want to live, your life. The final decision on whether to keep, donate, or toss items is always up to you.
When you make the choice to donate, I offer suggestions on the best options for donating useable goods to local organizations who need what you no longer want. When something cannot be reused, I help you to use environmentally conscious practices for recycling and disposal.
I’m going to have to spend so much money!
Hiring a professional organizer is an investment - an investment in your home, your quality of life, and your time. Hiring an organizer provides you with a valuable service that improves your quality of life. When you become organized, you’ll find that you are less stressed and have more time in your day because you have an easier time locating the items you need, when you need them.
Once we begin the organization process, and we use what you already have to organize your belongings, you’ll discover that you have more closet, cabinet, and shelf space than you knew! If you should need to purchase items such as bins or containers, I will make recommendations based on what will work best for you and your space.
Many people think professional organizers are perfect, so I must be perfect. Having just spent time with 500 other professional organizers, I can tell you we are far from perfect. We all have busy lives – kids, husbands, pets, hobbies, businesses.
Everything has a place, until the place is full!
As I am sure happens to all of us, our house had become a little disarrayed. The end of a busy week left us with items all over the place. However, being a professional organizer, everything does have a home, so when it comes to clean up, it’s a lot easier.
When I went to put some books away I got from the recent NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers®) conference I realized there was no more space on my shelf in my office closet. Noooo! I have been dreading this day! What to do?
Making hard decisions
I needed to make a decision and it was a hard one to make. I had a whole section for scrapbooking and making cards. But, in all reality, I haven’t scrapbooked, or made cards with my kids, in a while. The kids are now off doing sports or scouting activities and I am no longer a stay at home Mom looking forward to scrapbooking as a little bit of fun added to my day.
Now running my own business and scuttling the kids from here to there, I’d rather rewind with my kids or my husband. Doing yoga or reading a good book takes my time up now. I decided I will go back to scrapbooking eventually but making cards has passed.
I emptied the closet and whittled my scrapbook collection of supplies to a minimum, parting away with all the card supplies. I had every heart string pulled but I had to rationalize all the guilty feelings, the thoughts about all the money I spent and realized it will not go to waste. I filled two huge bags for my sister. The rest will be given to senior centers or preschools.
Today was a hard day, but a productive one. This painful realization allowed plenty of open space and the supplies I’m giving away will now be used, rather than sitting there collecting dust. Taking the time to identify your feelings and retrain your thinking will allow you to let it go!
Like it or not, the bathroom is one of the few places in our home that we use multiple times a day and that we rely on to help us and our families get ready and out the door in the morning. That means this space must be designed for maximum efficiency and also be a pleasing spot to start off your day.
Often when I take a first look at a client’s bathroom, I immediately see a number of items that can (and should) be thrown out or stored elsewhere. As a general rule for any organizing project, if you haven't used something in a year, get rid of it, including that bright red lipstick you were hoping to find the perfect occasion for, or that flat iron you swore you were going to use every day.
And speaking of cosmetics, when was the last time your cleaned out your make-up bag or drawer? Did you know…mascara should be replaced every three months, and foundation and concealer are good for about a year? And say goodbye to clumpy or dry nail polish. Dispose of or donate any unopened samples of hair, cosmetic, or feminine hygiene products, as well as shampoos, conditioners, and lotions from hotels. Shelters are happy to take these items and non-profits can even use them for fundraiser gift baskets.
Open up the medicine cabinet and do a quick scan for any expired or unidentifiable items, including over-the-counter meds. While you’re at it – medicines should ideally not be stored in the bathroom anyway, as the heat and humidity can damage them. Find an alternative cool, dry spot for them.
Take a look at your shower or tub area. Are you ever going to meld those soap scrapes into one mega soap? Probably not; ditch them, along with any bath “poufs” or razors that are past their prime. Use old washcloths and towels for cleaning or donate to an animal shelter.
Now look around for anything else that can be stored elsewhere to minimize clutter, such as back-up supplies, sheets, towels, etc. These items should be kept in a linen closet or laundry area shelf. And go through and remove books and magazines that have taken up residence.
These steps should take no more than 30 minutes and will go a long way toward organizing the prime real estate that is your bathroom and help to streamline your morning routine.
13 Days til Christmas and Hanukkah
This time of the year is so magical to me. Driving around and seeing the homes all lite up brings a smile to me. What are you doing to stay calm during this busy season?
The giving of gifts is always given in the spirit of love and holiday season – but sometimes they just aren't your style, type or interest. Some of you may regift, but many people keep them out of guilt, which only adds clutter.
This Season do not allow unwanted gifts to clutter your home. Create a space in the garage or closet to hold a bag or box whenever you or a family member recieves an unwanted gift put it in the bag or box. Once the bag or box is full call Green Drop. http://bit.ly/GoGreenDropLS
Give clutter free gifts. Check out below for clutter free gift ideas.
It is important to time mange and take time for your self this month. Prepare ahead of time, set the table ahead of time. Enjoy this magical season.!
Don't fret that you will not have room for the gifts. Scheudle a declutter session before the gifts come in! If that is to stressful start the new year with a decluttering session. Book before 2017 recieve a 15% discount!
Start 2017 being organized and saving yourself time and money. Is pictures on your computer or piles of pictures laying around cluttering your space? Contact Maryann at MCH Creative Photo Concepts at 484-450-8599. She will organize your photos and preserve your memories!
Happy Holidays and Happy 2017 to you and your family!
Can you believe that Thanksgiving is only one week away! This Thanksgiving reflect on all the positives that has taken place in your life over the past year.
I love this quote, I refer to it all the time
I am extremely grateful this year to all my amazing hard working clients. In my 3rd year of business I have connected with some awesome business owners who have provided me great resources that can benefit my clients. I am so grateful for all the support and encouragement I have received throughout the years.
As you reflect on your year, there will always be negative and positives, but focus on the positives and bask in the happiness.
Like I have been telling my kids, Thanksgiving is a time for celebrating two groups of people, friendships and collaborations that equaled success. What is your success? Is it donating canned food for the Homeless or donating money to veterans?
As the gratitude continues to grow we start to embark on a stressful, fun, and giving December! Enjoy the little things, and let’s work on some time management skills to make December less stressful.
To help you plan and prevent the craziness, I provided a Holiday Countdown list. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, lets chat and I can find ways to save you time and money during this crazy December!
Six Weeks Before (Beginning of November)
1. Make a master gift list
.Make sure you list everyone you’ll need to buy for, and think about what they’d like. This will let you pick up things as you see them, rather than running to the mall at the last minute. Have your children give you their wish lists, although if your kids are like mine, this list was completed in September and modified close to 100 times.
2. Make a budget.
Set a ballpark figure for how much you can spend on gifts—it will help you stay grounded when the shopping gets real busy.
3. Start Christmas shopping early.
Yes, you may already be picking things up here and there, but the more you buy ahead of time, the better—especially if you’ll be mailing gifts. If you have big-ticket items (like electronics) that go on sale the day after Thanksgiving, you may want to brave the crowds on Black Friday—you could save substantially.
One Month Before (Directly After Thanksgiving)
1. Do any online shopping.
Order gifts now so you have lots of time to wrap them once they arrive.
2. Wrap gifts as you buy them.
Not only will this keep little eyes from finding out what Santa is bringing, it will save you time on Christmas Eve.
3. Take stock of your decorations.
Get out your lights, ornaments, wreaths, and lawn ornaments. See if anything is broken and needs to be replaced. Is it time for an update? Don’t Have time to decorate, Contact Liz MacDonald with Shelf Help.
4. Take stock of dishes and glasses.
Make sure you have the serving platters and wine glasses you’ll need for parties or special meals, in time to buy more, if necessary.
5. Start addressing holiday cards.
It can take a while, depending on how long your list is.
Three Weeks Before (First Week of December)
1. Mail cards.
If you’re too busy to get them addressed and mailed during the first week of December, consider putting them off until after the holiday rush. People generally enjoy getting a card a few days late, when things have slowed down and they actually notice the mail.
2. Buy a live tree.
This is a good time to get your tree, if you want it to stay fresh and retain its needles through Christmas. Same goes for fresh greenery or garlands.
You may be one who decks the halls as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey carcass has been tossed. That’s fine too, but by the first week of December, it’s time to get the house looking festive.
4. Finalize menus.
If you’ll be serving the holiday meal make sure you know what you’ll be cooking and what family members will be bringing. Start a master grocery list.
5. Order a turkey or ham.
Or whatever else is the centerpiece of your holiday meal—you don’t want to get caught short.
Two Weeks Before (Second Week of December)
1. Make sure out-of-town presents are mailed.
Try to have gifts in the mail by December 10th.
2. Shop for nonperishable items.
Buy alcohol and any canned goods or pantry staples you’ll need.
One Week Before
1. Deep clean your house.
You’ll enjoy those decorations even more if the floors are clean and the kitchen is organized. One important task: Clear out your refrigerator. Toss old leftovers to make room for big dishes and ingredients that’ll be piling up closer to the holiday.
2. Buy batteries for children’s toys.
If you haven’t stocked up, do it now! You don’t want to be empty handed!
Three Days Before
1. Shop for fresh ingredients.
Hit the store for the last-minute vegetables or fruit you need for meals.
2. Set the table.
So you use those gold-rimmed goblets only once a year? Enjoy them! Go ahead and set the table. Make it even easier on the big day by putting a sticky note on each platter that states what dish you plan to serve on it. (That also allows people to help you without asking 12 times.)
Two Days Before
1. Start cooking.
You’ve probably socked away some things in the freezer already, but now’s the time to prep main courses and make anything that can sit for a couple of days.
2. Buy fresh flowers.
Whether they are for a party or a family meal, fresh flowers should always be purchased two days in advance. Blooms have time to open up, and they’ll still be lush and fragrant.
The Day Before
1. Recharge the batteries on your camera or video recorder.
You don’t want to miss the reaction on a little one’s face because the battery ran out during the school pageant the week before.
2. Finish last-minute wrapping.
Assemble toys that will be surprises from Santa.
3. Finish cooking, and make a timeline for the next day.
Decide when you’ll be feasting, then count backward to determine when to put the turkey (or ham or roast beef) in the oven, and what else needs to be cooked.
4. Sit back and relax.
Enjoy your family and friends and relish the traditions you share.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Fall! Can you believe it’s already November? Hopefully everyone is adjusting to school and their new routines. My September was a whirlwind, and without time management I would have been a stressed out mess!
I found out that I was teaching a class at the local community college two weeks before the class was scheduled to start! The school also changed the clearance processes, so in the midst of busy days working full time with clients, helping my children get adjusted to their new school routines, I had to fill out and submit my new clearances and run to the college so my fingerprints could be taken.
Luckily I already had my presentation for the class completed and just needed to make some minor changes to certain slides. While all this was going on, I was planning and learning how to be a Daisy Girl Scout leader. During these crazy two weeks, it was really important for me to focus on time management.
Time management helped me in preparing for all these different events/and activities. All this was happening in the midst of me preparing to leave for four days to Newport Rhode Island to attend my brother’s wedding. Staying focused and organized and using proper time management was definitely the key to managing this crazy month!
Here are my top Time Management Tips:
When I started my business three years ago August 28, 2013 (wow where did the time go!!), I never imagined the roller coaster journey that I would be on. It has been such a worthwhile and never-ending learning experience. I’m happy to share some of what I’ve learned along the way. Below are the Top Ten Things I’ve Discovered on this Three Year Journey:
1. People having an excessive amount of empty organizing products (bins, containers, bags, or anything else that is used to hold things) causing clutter. While most people buy these with the intent of using them to get organized, when these products are laying around not being used, then they are just part of the problem. I always tell my clients to first and then purchase your organizing products. This way you will know exactly what you need and you will be able to put the organizing products to good use as soon as you get them home.
2. People like to use the word “hoarder” or “hoarding”, not realizing the psychological harm it can do to an individual. Just because someone might have a lot of clutter or might be disorganized doesn’t make them a “Hoarder”. Clutter happens to most of us, usually because we have very busy lifestyles. Clutter can also be the result of situational disorganization or happen when someone is chronically disorganized. I help clients with clutter all the time; I can help you bring order to any disorganized space. I bring no judgement with me when I come.
The definition of Hoarding/Hoarder is: the compulsive purchasing, acquiring, searching, and saving of items that have little or no value. The behavior usually has serious effects—emotional, physical, social, financial, and even legal. A hoarder has persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions such as trash, newspapers, magazines, paper and plastic bags, and cardboard boxes. Is suspicious of other people touching possessions. Has obsessive thoughts about possessions: - Fear of running out of an item and needing it later. - Checks the garbage to see if an item was accidentally discarded. Also he or she may have - Loss of living space inside the home (no place to eat, sleep, or cook)
3. Online buying and wholesale stores can lead to excessive buying which can lead to an individual becoming disorganized and cluttered. I tell my clients to think “LESS IS MORE.”
4. Busy lives, no routines, and a disorganized home = stressed out children, which can result in your children having multiple meltdowns, giving you back-talk, showing disrespect, and misbehaving. I help my clients get order and routine back in their lives and they definitely experience more ease and comfort as a result. Everyone in a home benefits from living in a comfy and organized environment.
5. Many people are afraid or too embarrassed to ask for help. Clutter = stress, loneliness, depression, loss of time and loss of money. HELP = success, happiness, extra time, and a sense of freedom that we all deserve!
6. It’s not as bad as one would think. Many people describe their clutter worse than it really is when speaking with me on the phone. As a Professional Organizer, I always provide patience, compassion and experience to get my clients through the process. We can tackle disorganization one pile or one small corner at a time. It is always a wonderful and rewarding experience. Don’t let fear and overwhelm get in the way of your progress.
7. Everything needs a home. Before you decide to buy more things decide where the items you already have will go. Put systems in place to help maintain organized spaces.
8. Time management = success in staying organized. Take 5-10 minutes every day to keep things organized. Take 30 minutes a week to see if there are things that can be eliminated/tossed away. Take 1 hour a month to organize a different room in your house/office/garage.
9. Do Not Throw Out Anyone Else Stuff Without Asking! This is especially true for a hoarder. You might think you’re helping but you are actually causing mistrust and resentment.
10. My work is joyful as I love to help my clients grow. Over the last 3 years I have met so many fabulous and wonderful people. I am thankful to have amazing and appreciative clients, and to receive referrals from friends and family of my clients! I love to watch my clients grow. I truly enjoy the process of helping people learn to enjoy their home and office as we clear and organize their space.
Thank You for Life Simplified for Three Amazing Years! I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years bring!
Annie Kilbride is the CEO of Life Simplified, LLC a professional organizing business. Visit www.lifesimplifiedpo.com for more information.