A Great Morning Starts the Night Before, 2.0 Edition (Not Just For Kids!)

Back in 2011, I wrote “A GREAT MORNING STARTS THE NIGHT BEFORE!” for a Back-to-School newsletter.   The original article, found here, is still pertinent and useful for kids and families!

I’ve learned a lot since I published that article!  And I still find myself re-considering how to tweak my routines.  Our days are complicated lately!  While I work on un-complicating them,  I still have to get to bed at a reasonable hour, get up and out of bed in the morning, and complete a handful of tasks before I leave the house every day!

I am older and wiser (as are my kids!), so today, let’s take another look at “A Great Morning Starts the Night Before”!

  • Look Ahead. 
    • In my original article, this was a solitary step for me as Mom to take. These days, the teenagers and I all need to check in with each other and with the upcoming calendar.
    • Part of parenting is to foster planning and self-management skills in our young adults (and working on that for ourselves, too!). Some days, there are scheduling challenges or car usage juggling!
    • I look at the calendar for the next few hours, days and weeks, and ask the important questions of myself and my sons to move us forward.  I may jot down those questions on a dry erase board, in case our schedules don’t synchronize.  (For example, “Where is the grade report from last Friday”, “Does your tux jacket need dry cleaned after last week’s concert?”, etc.)  They can start working on answering these questions in my absence!
  • Meal Planning:  I’m the only person who packs a lunch anymore, so lunch making isn’t as important as it used to be.
    • However, ensuring we have portable breakfast foods on hand has become more important, as has dinner meal planning to make sure I have a meal planned that works with the next day’s schedule.
    • Instead of assigning a specific meal to every day, I may list 5-7 quick and favorite meals on a note near the fridge, and make sure we have the ingredients on hand for each.
    • Then I can choose a really quick meal on days we’re strapped for time, or a more involved meal if I have a little extra time.
  • “Lay out clothes for tomorrow, for you and your children” was the statement in the original article.  However, as we and our kids grow and evolve, we know this gets a little tougher!
    • Laundry maintenance.  The success of this step relies on maintaining the laundry process (and yes, I have started a load of laundry as I’ve been writing this).  By “maintaining the process”, I mean – keep the laundry moving along and don’t let your wardrobe options pile up! For example, start a load every evening, and toss it in the dryer every morning while you get ready for your day.
    • Another key to success in this area is to have a standard ensemble to wear for your typical day.  I am NOT the person to give fashion advice, but I am the person to offer suggestions that will save you time and aggravation.  Spend an hour some evening, and put together a handful of outfits you can easily when you’re strapped for time.
  • “Pack Your Bag the Night Before”.  This piece of advice never grows old.  I had an early morning breakfast meeting today, so last night, I made sure my notes were in my bag.  We still stumble, as the completed forms I laid on the middle-schooler’s backpack for him to take back to school today are still laying on his dresser…  but tomorrow is another opportunity to turn stuff in!
  • Go to bed.  Good sleep hygiene is vital to success, for all of us.  A reasonable and consistent bedtime and calming night-time routines, including planning and prep for the next day, help ensure good sleep and a better morning tomorrow!
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“What Do I Do With All Those Magazine Articles?”

“What Do I Do With All Those Magazine Articles?”

This question came up at a Paper Management class a few weeks ago, and it comes up often in my work!

 

I understand the challenge!  Personally, my magazine reading consists of:

  • Stash new magazines into a holder above my desk as they arrive in the mail;
  • Grab the magazines as we head out the door for a road trip (I read when it’s my husband’s turn to drive);
  • Read magazines cover to cover, pulling out only the articles that interest me;
  • Recycle the used magazines;
  • (Eventually) Process the handful of articles and information I have pulled out when I get home.

So, most of those steps are pretty straightforward, right?

  • Create a spot to keep your un-read magazines.
  • Create time and a routine around actually reading them.
  • Keep the important info, and recycle the rest.

But…. then what?  How do we store them? What should we DO with them?  Here is my answer for the class participant (let’s call her Patty) and the rest of us with the same question!

CATEGORIES:  My first question to Patty was “What are the categories for your articles?  She answered:

  • Health articles
  • Books to read
  • Diet & Exercise tips
  • Great Household Tips
  • List of Good Wines
  • Sentimental Greeting cards given to me
  • Beauty/Makeup Products
  • Easy Craft Projects
  • Decorating Ideas

For my own categories, I might add:

  • Items to share with others
  • Recipes
  • Business ideas / marketing ideas
  • Blog article ideas

 

HOW TO USE THE INFO?

Once you have established your categories, consider how you want to use each category’s information.   For example –

Let’s say you save an article with “work out moves for cold weather”.  You probably want to post that article where you can see it as you work out.

What about an article regarding a new treatment that you want to discuss with your doctor?  You probably want to keep that article close at hand but portable, so you can take it with you to your next doctor appointment.

What about recipes?  The logical place for recipes is in the kitchen, of course, where they will be used.

HOW TO STORE THEM:

Low-Tech Solutions:

Consider 3-ring binders for articles you want to keep and read again.  Binders work if you want to read your information like a book, or if you want your information to stay portable.

I personally use a 3 ring binder for recipes.  I have done away with most of my cookbooks over the years, and keep only the recipes I use often.  When I tear out a new recipe from a magazine, I will tuck it in to the front pocket of my recipe binder.  When I am looking for dinner inspiration, I will head to that front pocket!  I’ll only keep recipes that my family and I actually have tried and like – those go in page protectors in the same binder, filed by category.

I have a client with multiple health challenges, and she keeps a binder for articles and ideas to take to appointments and discuss with her different medical professionals.

I also recommend standing file holders with hanging files tabbed with the name of each category.   As you collect the articles, filing becomes so easy!  Then, when you’re ready to review the file, you can pull out all the similar articles at once.

 

 

Consider high tech solutions, too.  I asked Facebook friends for their magazine article suggestions:

MHD: “I scan the articles and store in a file on my computer” or

MTO: “I take photos of recipes that I want to save and keep a file on my PC. For longer articles, I will sometimes scan them to my PC and save them based on topic. (Meaning, a marketing article would go into the Marketing folder on my PC, a sales article would go into a Sales folder, etc.)”

Snap a picture with your phone or tablet, save articles and ideas on Evernote or Pinterest. Better yet, consider receiving your subscription electronically on your tablet or kindle.

 

HOW TO USE THE INFO BETTER!

The most important thing to remember about these magazine articles you are keeping is that you actually want to USE the information they contain.

Read your periodicals differently.
  • Keep only the pages you want, and recycle the rest.
  • Read with a pen and notebook nearby.  Sometimes, an article only contains one idea or reminder that we need to keep (circle it or highlight it!!), or generates one idea or task to add to our to-do list. (“Oh, reading this article reminds me I want to ask my doctor about vitamin D supplements.”)
  • Make sure that you make time to actually ACT on the ideas from the articles!
  • What can you take care of right now?  Add ideas to your lists, bookmark the website referenced in an article or subscribe to the newsletter or blog, then toss the paper!
  • What can you get rid of for good?  Are there certain magazines that always seem to pile up?  That you never seem to want to read? Or that don’t have articles that you keep?  Time to let that subscription go!
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Change The Habit or Change The House?

Working with a client this morning, I was reminded  of an article I recently read on ApartmentTherapy.com.

In the comments for an article about creating an entry way in a small space, a reader asked if the solution to the problem was to “Change the habit or the house?”.

This is a powerful and useful question as we get organized!  And… what does that mean?

Let’s say I notice that, when I walk in the door every day, I consistently put my keys on the same side table and toss my coat over the same chair or the back of the sofa.

Leaving my keys and coat exactly there makes the space look cluttered or disorganized, so I could elect to try and change my HABIT and come in a different door, or walk down the hallway and hang things up in a closet, etc.   However, since I am consistent about where these items fall, I can find them in an instant and be out the door efficiently.

So the HABIT is a good one, but the entry way of the HOUSE doesn’t support the HABIT well.   I could change the house to support the habit by adding a decorative bowl in the entry way for keys and phone, setting a chair in the entry way for our coat and bag, or perhaps adding a coat tree or some wall hooks.

Another example.  This morning’s client has 2 school aged daughters, and they both consistently drop their school backpacks and sport bags in the same places in the living room / dining room.  This can drive a parent crazy, let me tell you!

Yes, the piles in these living spaces are unsightly.  However, these students have good and consistent habits that helps them keep track of their school work and team uniforms.  So, the question we asked this morning was “Is it easier to change the habit or the house?”

My client didn’t actually mind the location of the piles, merely the appearance of them.  So, de- cluttering the pile contents and adding attractive large wicker baskets to hold the bags and gear in the habitual drop zones seems a better solution than trying to establish new habits and drop zones elsewhere.

Years ago, I organized with a real estate agent who had a lovely home office, but she didn’t really like to work in there.  She preferred to work in her kitchen – it was warm and cozy, had great light plus coffee!  So, instead of trying to change her preferred habit of working happily in the kitchen, we instead set up a work space in the kitchen and reserved the home office for meetings with clients, and file and supply storage.  We helped her home better fit her good work habit.

Again, the question: Do I need to change my house or change my habit?

Is there is a space in your home or office that regularly causes you frustration?  A place that has just never seemed to “work” right for you?

If your habit is a problem – you drop stuff where it becomes unsafe, you neglect client files, you are inconsistent with your stuff and the habits around it – then consider changing your habits.

If, however, your habits are sound but the space doesn’t support the habit, consider what you can do to Support the Good Habit and Change the house around it!

Thanks for reading!

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4 Tips to Organize Your Bill Paying for Financial Wellness Month

January is National Financial Wellness Month. 

A great place to start your path to Financial Wellness is with organized and consistent Bill Paying!  Try these 4 tips to Streamline Your Process!

Set An Appointment.  

Client Study:  A client I first met many years ago admitted that deadlines and due dates would often slip past her and her husband, costing lots of money in late fees, not to mention frustration! She did not have a set time to regularly sit down and pay her bills, so as life got busy, they would both forget to pay bills.

Tip: Set aside time every week or every other week to pay your bills.  For example, if you get paid every other Friday, make an appointment with your computer / check book for every other Thursday evening to pay your bills and manage your money.  If it’s on the calendar, it’s more likely to happen!

 

Do the Job Until It’s Done.   

Client Study:  I worked with a couple, and I could tell that the husband was very nervous about having an organizer in the house! He was very happy when I told him I wanted him to spend LESS time on his papers every week!

Here is the rest of that statement: “Carve out an hour every week (they chose Saturday morning) to open all the mail, pay all the bills, respond to any other correspondence and shred / recycle whatever needed to go.”  They agreed an hour should be enough. They could worry less throughout the week, but they had to tackle all their money management tasks, start to finish, when they DID work on their bills.

Tip: Spend less time on your bill paying, but complete the job from start to finish when you sit down.

 

Dedicate Space for Paying Bills.

Client Study: I worked with a lovely couple just last week.  They took turns explaining how they used their shared work space.  One person had a place to always tuck the bills to be paid. The other person had no idea that was the system in place!

Just that one piece of information, a dedicated place to put the Bills-To-Pay, made a huge difference in how each uses the space!

If you pay bills on line, consider creating an email subfolder or maybe even an email account just for bill-paying and financial information, and make sure everyone who needs to know about it has access!

In addition, set yourself up to succeed with your necessary supplies in that space (pens, notepad, post its, computer if you pay on-line, envelopes and stamps, etc.).

Tip: Dedicate Space for bill-paying, and let all involved parties know the plan!

 

Make  Filing Easier, Too!

Client Study: Me.  For both our personal and my business bill paying, we have done away with individual vendor files and just have monthly folders for all income and banking info.  Any paid bills, receipts, bank statements, etc., get added to those monthly files.  Finding info is so easy, as is filing!

Tip: Create Monthly Folders for all things Income / Banking related and make filing easy!

Pick a Tip, and Give it a Try!
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9 Things Every Closet Needs! Tips for National Clean Out Your Closet Month

Did you know?  January is National Clean Out Your Closet Month!

Today, I want to suggest how to celebrate Clean Out Your Closet Month with some ad-ins that will keep your closet organized every day of the year! Check them out!

EVERY CLOSET NEEDS…

  1. A basket / bag for dirty laundry. This keeps random bits from piling up, and makes that dirty  laundry more like to get washed!
  2. A basket / bag for regular trips to the dry-cleaners or tailor (optional).  Ours dry-cleaner bag lives in our laundry room, and we have a weekly errand for taking in and picking up.
  3. A basket/ bag and a path for items to leave.  Our home has a system for getting rid of no-longer-needed items.  These items go into the dirty laundry basket with everything else and get laundered, then tucked in the “Donate” or “Off-To-Our-Cousin” baskets that live in our laundry room.
  4. A wastebasket.  Rubbish needs a path and a receptacle to leave a space.  Show me a closet littered with plastic dry cleaning bags, clothing tags, dirty tissues and general trash, and I’ll show you it lacks a wastebasket.
  5. Good hangers. I’m not suggesting you spend a fortune on your hangers, but invest in plastic or felted hangers to take good care of your clothes and give your closet a tidier appearance.
  6. A few extra hangers, but only a few.  One of the first and easiest steps to making more room in a closet is to clear out all the empty hangers.  Trust me, some have dozens taking up precious rod space!  Once all your clothes are hung and the closet is organized, keep all but 3 or 4 of your empty hangers in your laundry room instead of in your closet.
  7. An Ish-Hook or 2.  I have 3 hooks in my closet for clean-ISH clothes.  Clean-ISH, that you plan to wear again soon.  You know – the pajamas you only wore once? or the track pants and sweat shirt you put on when you get home from work?  Perhaps the jeans you wore for a little while but plan to wear again tomorrow.  It’s not worth it to wash them all, or to hang them all up again, so we need a way to keep them close at hand but not strewn about your space!
  8. A clear floor.  Imagine with me:  You’re standing in your closet, trying to get dressed in the morning. Or perhaps you have clean laundry to put away.  Now imagine trying to do these regular tasks while stepping on clothes or shoes, or dodging shopping bags or neglected empty suitcases.  Having those physical obstacles in the way will likely keep you from completing the simple maintenance tasks needed to make your closet work well for you.
  9. A plan! Every month or so, I get the itch to review my closet and drawers, straightening and purging as I go.  I encourage my sons to do the same, at least a couple of times a year.  This quick but regular maintenance keeps my clothes and closet organized and relatively clutter free all year long!

Spend some time taking care of your closet this week, and it will take care of you every day!

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Creating Productive Work-From-Home Space: National Clean Off Your Desk Day

Last week, I heard from a newly minted college graduate.  She is very excited to start her first  professional position with a national company, working from home.

Hmmm… “Working From Home”.   A quick glance at wikipedia revealed related terms like “telecommuting”, “remote work” or “teleworking”.  This is a growing trend, with many of us working at least some of the time from non-traditional work space.

According to this recent New York Times article,  “More American employees are working remotely, and they are doing so for longer periods… Last year, 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely, according to the survey of more than 15,000 adults.”

With this conversation in mind and National Clean Off Your Desk Day (second Monday of January) here again, let’s talk about Organizing Your Work Space for Working-From-Home.  Let’s look at solutions to common Work-From-Home Challenges!

Be Professional and Productive While Working From Home

There are habits we can create to feel professional and productive, no matter where we work.

  • Create a morning routine – get up, work out, eat a healthy breakfast, get clean, etc. – even if your commute is the 10 feet between your living room and office.

    My Company Wellness Program 🙂

  • We all benefit from the clear definition of a start and end to our work day.  If you need separation in your day between personal time and work, go for a run, for Mass, for coffee, or to drop off the kids at school.  Then, come home and boot up!
  • Dress professionally, even if you don’t see another person all day.  No PJs for productivity!
  • We need to minimize distractions (more on this later) working from home, but the opposite is also true.  Remember to walk around and take breaks!

My Company Cafeteria (a.k.a. my kitchen counter!)

 

Stay Connected:

  • A common challenge of working from home is feeling isolated.  Remember, Community comes in many forms.
  • Check with your company!  If your company has teleworking opportunities, they probably also have strategies in place to help employees stay connected.
  • Find a mentor or accountability partner within your company.   You can also ask the professional association attached to your industry, or even just someone you really respect.
  • Join networking or FB groups within your chosen field or geographical community. My FB and networking groups are amazing resources for me as I navigate my day!

Physical Workspace:

  • If you are clear on the Work of your Work, you can probably work from anywhere!
  • No one needs to know where you work!  Some days saying “working from home” doesn’t feel professional, so I might say I’m working “remotely” or “virtually”, whether I’m at a client’s office, my own home office or Starbucks!
  • Your Actual Work Space:
    • If you skype, or have video conference calls, invest in a back drop or standing screen that looks more professional than your family room or basement!
    • Organize your work space, especially if you need to switch from student focus to work focus, like my young friend.  A clean desk helps you focus.  My accountability partner mentioned just last week how much more creative she feels when her work space is organized and clutter free.
  • Need Professional Space for a change of pace or a group project?  Perhaps your team is coming into town for training?  Many communities have available shared professional spaces or  business centers.  For a fee, these centers may offer work spaces, office services such as copiers or fax machines, conference rooms to rent by the hour or day, and even administrative help.   For example, I am a member of BAPA here on the South Side of Chicago, and their business center offers office equipment and conference room space free to paid members.

 

The “Home” part of Working-From-Home

  • Be clear with your house-mates what your tele-working will mean.  You may be home but still on the clock!  (The same goes for pets – one client closes the door and curtains to the back yard, to signal to her faithful furry companions that play time is over!)
  • A closed door can be an arranged signal that quiet time is needed, or that a conference call is in progress!

Consider these ideas when creating your productive work-from-home space!

Got Resolutions? Perhaps We Just Need to Get Back To Normal!

On New Year’s Eve, I was thinking about positive changes to make in 2018.

I found myself saying “Know what? Change is hard.”

Saying it out loud, though, I immediately realized that I was wrong.

No, change isn’t hard.

Sometimes, change is extremely easy.  For example, just a few weeks ago, I was exercising daily and making healthy food choices.  And … then… the holidays happened.  And it is -2 degrees as I type this.  So there are still too many cookies in the house, and our daily walks are on hold until the weather breaks or I get on the treadmill.

While it’s easy to believe the self defeating statement “Change is Hard”, that is all it is – a self-defeating statement lacking truth.

We convince ourselves that “Change is Hard”, and then we set ourselves up for failure by:

  • setting unrealistic Resolutions;
  • starting a new journey without a map or plan;
  • setting the bar too high; 
  • pursuing goals that are not right for us right now;
  • not asking for help; or
  • expecting big change overnight.

But here is the good news – Change doesn’t have to be hard.  And for the New Year, just getting  back to what you are supposed to be doing can be a big step in the right direction.

Start with just getting back on track, whatever that looks like to you.  Let’s leave the bad holiday habits behind.  It’s time to:

  • Get to bed on time;
  • Clear that kitchen counter, and put the snacks out of sight;
  • Take that January list I suggested you make, and add action dates to it; 
  • Curb or stop spending money;
  • Unsubscribe from advertising emails;
  • Stop running around like a crazy person; or
  • Conversely, start moving again and be productive;
  • Clear holiday / all other clutter from surfaces;
  • Log into your on-line banking, and pay those bills;
  • Re-boot your morning meditation / routine / reading hours, etc.;
  • And From My Friends:
    • Use my little elliptical stepper in the evening (SM);
    • Go to the gym with my neighbor / Work out (JM/JH/LB);
    • Eat better (PB/LB);
    • Reduce sugar intake, decrease sugar / artificial sweeteners (LZ / MC);
    • Finding a planner I like and actually use it (LR);
    • Write 3 gratitudes each day, focusing on the positive; (PM)
    • Refocus on work, the Holidays allow a lot of distractions (LB);
    • Start running again! It is just 30 minutes out of my entire day, so no excuses (MO);
    • Spend time regularly to tidy/organize my papers & desk so that it STAYS tidy & organized (MTO);
    • Have fun – so often, I fall in the trap of pursuing accomplishment of various items in my ‘to do’ list that I neglect to devote time to things that are purely enjoyable (SRC).

I am so happy for us!  Know why?

WE KNOW HOW TO DO THIS!  We know what to do.

We know what healthy habits are, and how to re-establish them.

We know how to be productive, we just need to get back to it!

We know how to be good to ourselves, so let’s be good!

This year, let’s start the year with returning to what we know.  How about we review our good habits that may have gotten a little lax over the last month?  Let’s start the year strong, with realistic expectations to build a strong foundation, and then climb from there!

To:

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Even Santa Knows, Lists Can Be Naughty or Nice

The List.

I love lists.  Lists can be powerful productivity tools.  Or they can just be words on a page.  I want my lists to work for me.  So I turn my lists into Action Plans with a few simple steps.

Let’s turn that jumbled bunch of ideas into a list and then a useful, manageable Action Plan!

I worked with a client last week.  We were scheduled to work on a couple of projects, but when I arrived, she mentioned that what would really help her to feel organized was to plan for an upcoming brunch she was hosting for family.  She said she always got anxious about hosting big meals, and she really just wanted to enjoy her family this time!  Her goal was to be done and  leisurely sipping a cup of coffee 30 minute before the guests arrived.

Here is what we did:

Write it all down.   ALL OF IT.

Is your brain full?  Of thoughts and ideas and to-do’s, Oh My!

Every once in a while, I sit down and get all the thoughts and ideas and tasks out my head and down on paper.  I used to call this activity a Brain Dump, but that seemed inelegant, so my friend Jen came up with “Cranial Cleansing”.   This is a very useful activity!

Write it all down, don’t bother to edit.  Just get it all out.  And “write it all down” could also be “makes notes on your computer or smart phone or Ipad”.  I use either my Bullet Journal (by hand) or Evernote (technology) for such things!

With my client, we started with the notes she had already jotted down.  We added a lot more items, without editing, just adding them to the list!

The list included:

  • clean the house;
  • iron the napkins;
  • hang the wreath;
  • take the Christmas decoration storage bins downstairs;
  • organize the holiday storage closet;
  • make the breakfast casseroles using her mom’s special recipe;
  • set the table;
  • wash the china and wine glasses;
  • decorate the Christmas tree;
  • make the grocery list;
  • go to the grocery;
  • pick up champagne and other beverages;
  • get the table linen cleaned and pressed;
  • take back returns;
  • put appetizer trays together;
  • print up the Christmas photo and keepsake poem;
  • buy the paper to print up the photo and poem;
  • make or purchase desserts;
  • put together the salad;
  • clean the garage.

Make a Not Today or Not Now List.

A few items on my client’s list, like “Clean the Garage” and “Organize the Holiday Closet”, are good and worthwhile projects but were not necessary to the success of the Holiday Brunch.  So we put them on the “Not Right Now” list, and focused on the work in front of us!

Enlist Aid.  What can be delegated?

Fortunately, this client hires cleaning people a couple times a month, and they were scheduled for the next day.  Also, she and her husband would be home together on Saturday, and he had offered to take care of some of the errands.

Realistic Time Estimates.

This looks like a very long and overwhelming list, I know.  But when you start to break it down, most of these tasks are actually pretty short and to the point.  So we assigned time estimates to them all, so we could be more objective.

Assign a Day, sticking with your strengths.

As we worked on the list, my client mentioned she had a full day of work the next day, so we didn’t put too many tasks on that day (Friday).  Also, she likes to go to the grocery around 8 pm, as it tends to be empty that time of night.  So we worked with those details!

So, after the above steps were applied, our Action Plan looked something like this:

THURSDAY:

  • (Thursday, 10 minutes) hang the wreath
  • (Thursday, 10 minutes) take the Christmas decoration storage bins downstairs
  • (Thursday, 20 minutes) make the grocery list
  • THURSDAY ERRANDS:
    • (Thursday, 10 minutes) drop off table cloth to be pressed
    • (Thursday, 30 minutes) buy the paper to print up the photo and poem

FRIDAY:

  • (Friday, Cleaning team) clean the house
  • (Friday or Saturday, 30 minutes) print up the Christmas photo and keepsake poem
  • FRIDAY ERRAND
    • (Friday evening, 90 minutes with putting away) go to the grocery;

SATURDAY:

  • (Saturday, 45 minutes) make the breakfast casseroles using her mom’s special recipe
  • (Saturday or Sunday, 20 minutes) put appetizer trays together
  • (Any day, picked Saturday, 10 minutes) iron napkins
  • SATURDAY ERRANDS (husband will run):
    • (Saturday, 10 minutes) pick up table cloth; cleaned and pressed
    • (Saturday, 30 minutes) bakery to purchase desserts
    • (Saturday, 30 minutes) pick up champagne and other beverages

SUNDAY:

  • (Sunday morning,  20 minutes) wash the china and wine glasses
  • (Sunday morning, 15 minutes) set the table
  • (Sunday morning, 20 minutes) put together the salad

Not Now List: 

  • take back returns;
  • clean the garage
  • organize the holiday storage closet;

We spent a little time and effort at the beginning, turning jumbled thoughts into a solid, easy to follow and completely manageable action plan!  What was really great was that once we completed this process, which was quick and easy and painless, we had time to tackle some of the items on her list!

How can you apply these steps to a current project?  Give it a try!

(P.S., I texted the client this afternoon to see how the brunch went, I’ll let you know her response next week!)

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

Save Time and $$: Stop Running Errands (Over and over and over…)

Perhaps you love running errands.  Maybe you love shopping.  I love neither.

I detest errands and shopping.  The expense, hassle and time spent.  But, of course, there are items  – food, clothing, supplies, etc. – that I need for my family, our home and my business.  Errands and shopping are a necessary evil.

I have been pondering how to spend less time, money and hassle on running errands and shopping.  I’ve talked to a lot of people also working on the same challenge, and we’ve learned a lot from each other!

Why Change Your Shopping and Errand Running Ways?  Here are a few examples of why:

  • I want to make more client time available in my schedule which means streamlining some recurring errands and tasks.
  • A friend travels for work, and is looking to streamline the household errands and shopping to spend more time together with family on weekends.
  • A client has chronic health problems that make shopping or running errands difficult, and lugging supplies into the house nearly impossible.

How to Change Your Ways:

  1. Answer the questions:  What tasks / errands do you regularly run?
    Grocery or groceries, cleaners, coffee, bakery, post office, bank, pharmacy?
  2. Pay Attention:  For a week, take note of Where Your time Goes.
    Are you running off to the same place multiple times in a week?  A couple of grocery runs, dropping off cleaning, a handful to trips to the ATM or bank?
  3. Which of those tasks / errands / places could you complete less often?  Just once weekly, or even monthly?
  4. If you HAVE to run errands, bundle what you can.  I bundle the Errands I absolutely have to run onto one morning per week. I don’t need to run them more than once a week.  These may include: the cleaners to drop off and pick up; gas up my van; drop off donations for myself or for clients; or in-person banking if necessary.

More Importantly, what Errands could you eliminate entirely?  This week, I asked my FB community: “What is one regular errand you have been able to outsource or delete?”

 

Groceries / Household Supplies:

  • Scan-n-Go app for Sam’s club has been a major game changer. My husband and kids even come with me now that I don’t have to wait in that line! (KB)
  • Mariano’s click list I order my groceries online call them from the parking lot and they load my groceries in the trunk. They even give me 2 free cookies. (ND)
  • Love Peapod! Use them almost exclusively because I do not like grocery shopping. (KK)
  • InstaCart app (favorite groceries will deliver!) (BK/CK)
  • Amazon Fresh for groceries when I don’t have time to go. (MK, KB)
  • Amazon Prime Pantry for cleaning supplies, toiletries and paper products delivered monthly (NR, DCD, MK, LB)
  • Amazon for lots of little purchases, saving time, gas, and most importantly, aggravation. (LB)
  • Melaleuca.com, my first foray into home delivered household supplies!  (Me!!)

Gifts / Cards:

  • Gift giving. Sending an electronic gift card to out-of-town family saves me 1.) having to go to the store to search for a gift, and 2.) having to wrap and make a trip to the USPS to mail said gift. (JB)
  • Send out cards for sending g thank you cards and such. You can even attach gifts. (MK)

Errands:

  • I reserve my library books online. That way, despite having to go pick it up my reads at the library, they are at least waiting for me at the circulation desk, and I don’t need to search for them in the stacks. I guess true outsourcing for this would be using an e-book for reading on a Kindle or Nook. 
  • Mail-order prescriptions in 3-month supplies. No more long lines at the pharmacy! (MJS)
  • I have Chewy.com deliver my 30 lb bag of dog food every 5 weeks and I get great reminder emails when they are ready to ship the next box. I can move the auto ship out another week if they still have food or ship immediately if they are almost out. No more trips to the pet store to break my back on dog food. (AB)
  • Mobile banking is a big timesaver.  (LB) 
  • Chase quick pay and deposit (BO)
  • Auto pay for bills. (MK)
  • Stitch Fix (Me!!!):  I just received my third monthly Stitch Fix. This is an on-line styling and shopping website that sends me an great outfit every month based on my own preferences.  I can choose to keep as many of the items they send or none at all.  For this self-proclaimed non-shopper, this is GOLD!!
  • Target.com (Me!!) I shop at Target every other week for household items like paper goods, toiletries and cleaning supplies.  Amazon Pantry doesn’t carry a few of the items we regularly buy, so recently, I set up my on-line account at Target.com, paid with my Target Red Card credit card for free shipping, and received my first shipment.  They were delivered to my door.  It was beautiful.

So, in the interest of saving time, money and hassle, what errands are you willing to outsource or delete entirely?!  Let’s Go!

Kitchen Upgrades Without a Remodel

We spent our summer with a Kitchen Remodel Project.  I say I spent my summer with it because

it was my constant companion.  Most days, amidst working and family and living our lives, I was also planning / orchestrating / cleaning or occasionally waiting for activities centered on the Kitchen, and by extension, my office.  No summer va-ca for this girl.

HOWEVER,
IT
LOOKS
AMAZING!
We are so glad we undertook this project this summer!  The happiness outweighs the now dimming memories of washing dishes in the bathroom sink (also where the coffee maker lived for 3 weeks), the refrigerator in the corner of my dining room for 12 weeks, the lack of a home offices for 3 months while I still ran a business from home, etc..  But I digress.
What I really want to share with you are the Parts of the New Kitchen that Have Improved our Days! (and how to achieve similar benefits without a kitchen remodel).  There are many more than 5 things that we LOVE about the new kitchen, but this is a good start!
  1. Under-cabinet lighting!  This is truly a game changer.  In the Old Kitchen, we had ceiling track lighting.  As soon as we stood at a counter to work on food prep or anything else, we would block our own task lighting.  The under-cabinet lighting makes the whole kitchen GLOW, while providing task lighting any where we need it!  This is a simple upgrade, you can purchase ropes of LED lighting that simply plug in at any home improvement store.
  2. Clear counters.  Our counters were always clear before, but now that they are also beautiful, I am truly loath to leave anything on them.  One of my favorite (and cheap) purchases to complete the project was this dish drain that fits over the smaller side sink and can be easily slid over or rolled away (Amazon.com, ILifetech Roll-Up Dish Drying Rack).
  3. Zones.  Inspired by hotel stays and our occasional house guests, I now have a breakfast station.  My coffee maker lives on this small counter, along with the fresh fruit basket and napkins. In addition, the cabinet above houses breakfast bars and Pop Tarts (my sons’ quick breakfasts of choice), our daily vitamins and supplements, the toaster, and coffee / tea / hot chocolate supplies, etc.
  4. Cabinets that reach to the ceiling. Our old cabinets ended about a foot from the ceiling.  The tops were dusty, and storing stuff up there looked cluttered, so we never used the space. If you don’t want to remodel, you can also re-imagine how you use your cabinets.  Use the bottom shelf or 2 for daily use items, the middle shelf for items you use once a week, and the top shelves for items you use less often but would still like to keep accessible.
  5. Our SUPER QUIET new dishwasher.  Our kitchen opens into our family room, so the quiet dishwasher has made relaxing in the evening much easier.  You can achieve the same quiet results by running your dishwasher when you’re not around, either while you’re sleeping or at work.

 

    There are more kitchen remodel tales to tell, most of them good, and all of them with a happy ending!  But spend some time in your kitchen this week, and think about how you can make small changes with big, positive impact!