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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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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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 a Landing and Launch Pad Where There Isn’t One

Many of our homes were built around the idea of “everyone uses the front door”.  Larger entrance, coat closet, etc.  However, many of us do not come and go from that front door.   Last week, a friend asked if I could help with her new homes’ back door / drop zone / launch pad.  In her words,

  • there is no place for coats and bags;
  • the space is small and hard to manage;
  • adding in winter accessories like glove and hats makes the problem worse;
  • taking coats to the bedrooms makes no sense;
  • everything gets dumped at the door, and is now spreading into the kitchen; and finally,
  • “I’m gonna lose my crackers!”

Picture this:

  • The back door is where all five family members exit and enter.  
  • For scale, when the back door is open, it spans the entire width of the space.
  • The back door leads directly into the dining area in the kitchen.
  • The back door landing is a step down from the kitchen, and is the landing for the stairs going down into the nicely finished basement.

The family is quite organized, and they have done a lot to maximize the space they have while settling into this new (new to them) home.  There is a small set of hooks next to the door for keys, umbrellas and the dog leash.  There is a counter a few feet from the door where family members can drop their bags as they come home.   But they lack coat / accessory / bag storage.

We all may have an organizing challenge like this….

Often-used space that occasionally drives us crazy!

Spaces that every family member uses!

Spaces that can make or break our daily routines and flow!

Spending a little time and energy organizing these spaces saves us hours of headache (and yelling) in the future!

Here’s How:

State your purpose for the space. For my client, the purpose of the back door space may be “An attractive space that helps with timely and stress-free arrivals and departures”.   Once you state your purpose, Pare Down what is in the space to only the items that feed your purpose. My friend’s back door / landing pad space should be

  • geared towards a quick and easy transition, typically exit;
  • aesthetically pleasing;
  • as clutter-free as possible.
  • If you look at something, and you feel yourself frowning as you wonder “Who’s is this? Why is it here?  What were they thinking?”, those are all good indicators that something doesn’t belong in the space you are working on!

Once you know the Purpose of the Space, Look up and down and all around for storage solutions!

Keep it Safe!

Since this space is a heavily traveled walk way – in and out of the house and also up and down the stairs  – safety is very important.  Storage solutions will need to keep the walk way and stairs clear.  I will recommend coat hooks as solutions, but only on one side of the stairwell, to keep it as clear as possible.

Shelves, shelves and more shelves.

  • Any empty walls can be considered storage space.  To keep the walk way clear, I may recommend shelves high on the walls for baskets of accessories or off-season items.
  • Shelves, too, near the ceiling could hold decorative baskets with extra accessories, if needed.
  • Add shallow shelves above the command center in the kitchen, and add baskets for extra sunglasses, charging cords, and maybe one for each family member.

That Door Has Potential!   Consider the door itself in the organizing solution.  

  • Invest in an over-the -door coat rack; and / or
  • invest in an over-the-door shoe rack, for shoes but also for accessories; and/ or
  • if the door is metal, purchase heavy duty magnetic hooks for coats, like these…

Install some – okay, maybe a lot of – hooks:

  • Everyone gets a couple of hooks for their own bags and coats.
  • Consider key hooks, especially if any one shares a car.
  • Command Hooks are a personal favorite, too, for this type of challenge.
  • Double deck your hooks:  Consider installing two lines of hooks – the upper set (at eye level)  for accessories and keys, and the lower set, installed 6-8 inches below the upper set, for coats, umbrellas or longer hanging items.
  • Since my kids were little (and would take off with my car keys!), my handbag has been hung on a high, heavy-duty hook near the back door, with my keys securely clipped to it.

Expect and embrace maintenance.

  • I really wish I could say that once we organize a space, it will stay organized forever.  However… that is not typically the case.
  • Once a week, clear everything and put it away.   The shoes and coats will slowly migrate back to the landing / launch, but at least once in a while, the space is clear.
  • Keep an empty storage bench at the bottom of the stairs, for that day when you have a house full of people and you just want the space cleared!
To:

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First Step of Shopping? Check Your Inventory.

A thought occurred to me very soon after I posted last week’s blog article, “Can We Go Buy School Supplies?”.

It’s the obvious first step, although a little too obvious for me, as I forget to mention it.  That obvious but not-so-obvious first step to shopping should be make your list and then “Check What You Have On Hand”.

It’s always better, from both a financial and clutter clearing standpoint, to use up what you have on hand before you purchase anything more.  This will help you:

  • Save Money;
  • Use items before they expire;
  • Eliminate duplicates; and
  • Clear Clutter!

Here are 5 examples of how this first step has helped me, just in the last week.

When we prepared to go to Office Depot last week…

We first checked our stash of school supplies – lots of pens, mechanical pencils and folders on hand.  We had depleted much of our stash getting the younger son ready a few weeks ago, but we still started our shopping at home, in our own cabinet.

Menu Planning.

Shopping your inventory may be a little more obvious when it comes to making dinner.  Driving home from a double client day yesterday, I was pondering what to make for dinner since I have not been to the grocery yet (and I was tired and really didn’t want to go!).  I remembered my son asked for home-made chicken noodle soup the other day, and as I mentally inventoried my cabinets and freezer while I drove, I realized I had what I needed to make soup for dinner.  And it was good!

Shop Your Home for Home Decor.

I spent a fun few hours organizing and staging space with a client over the weekend.  I assembled new storage units for her office, and then we set up her office space.  What was really awesome was looking around her home and borrowing from other rooms a lamp here, some art there and a potted plant from the old house that hadn’t found a home yet.  The finished space made her so happy, and cost only our time and the price of the new storage cubes.

It’s time to paint my son’s bedroom.  

Our first step is to check and see what paint we have already, especially considering we just painted the kitchen and office. We will also look for any supplies, like paint brushes and rollers, etc., before we head to Home Depot to buy paint and supplies.

The Magic Pants Bin in my basement.

The age of our Magic Bin in the basement has passed, but I will still share the idea.  With three sons, we always had current-sized clothes for the boys plus the in-between sizes that someone would soon grow out of or into.  For years, we always checked the off-size bins of clothes for the next size of clothing before we hit the stores, and like Magic, we could usually find a lot of what we needed in the Magic Bins.  The youngest son is now the tallest, though, so hand-me-downs and the Magic Bin have been retired.  But the idea is still valid!

Before you buy more stuff, always consider this very important first step – Check What You Have On Hand!

 

“Can We Go Buy School Supplies?”

I was pondering tonight’s article topic this evening as I made dinner.  After his first day of classes today, I asked my high school senior (in jest) if there were any really important, hard-hitting organizational questions he would like to ask.

His response?  “Can We Go Buy School Supplies?”

Uh, well, sure.  That wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, topic-wise, or how I planned to spend my evening, but sure, we can head to Office Max/Depot.

As we stood in the very long line (I love my son very much), I was still ruminating on how to craft our experience into a meaningful blog post (doesn’t everyone use their waiting-in-line time to mentally write articles?).  I asked him what organizational tips we could learn from our experiences. Here is what we came up with :

  1. Do Not Go Shopping at 6 pm Monday evening when 2 or more local schools started back to school that day.  (um, yeah, that…)
  2. ALWAYS Use a list. Mentally walk through your schedule, or make a copy of the schedule and jot down next to each class the items needed.
  3. If your school doesn’t provide a list, don’t shop until you have been to class.
  4. If your school does provide a list (like our district’s elementary  and middle schools), shop as as soon as its published, and early in the day.  Why would you wait?!?!
  5. Use coupons.
  6. Bring an umbrella.
  7. Eat dinner first, since you don’t know how long this adventure may take.
  8. Don’t even bother losing your cool.  I apparently used the word “peeved” as we stood in the very long line (did I mention it was a very long line?!).  My son and I then discussed “peeved”, with my explanation being “I just can’t be bothered with actual anger.  What is the point?  No one benefits, it serves no purpose.” And he agreed.  There was a toddler losing his mind at the front of the store, and I’m sure perhaps a few of us in line wanted to throw a tantrum at one time or another. But again, what’s the point?  Instead…
  9. Use your wait time constructively.  Breathe deep, scroll FB on your phone, chat with the folks around you, mentally write articles or sing songs in your head.
  10. The line at Office Max/Depot is not the place to buy Swedish fish or cherry sours.  No matter how good they look.

On the way home, I realized that next year, this son will be doing his own back-to-school shopping away at college. I am totally okay with that, this is not (yet) one of those weepy “my baby is growing up” posts, though I sense those could be coming.  But I am even more glad we had the chance to talk it out!

This is about as close to a guest blogger as I’m doing to get, so I dedicate this to D.

To:

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Truth Bombs About Socks

I worked with a new client this morning.  She is awesome.  All my clients are awesome. 

This client, whom I will refer to as Client (all names are changed to protect the innocent), and I worked on her tween daughter’s room.  Client sorted her daughter’s  clothes into “keep” and “donate” piles while I worked on the physical space in the room.

As is often the case, the topic of Socks came up. And I capitalized “Socks” because Socks are a big issue.  More specifically, the topic of the big pile / basket / bag of unmatched, unloved and slightly scary Socks came up.

Come on, you know the basket.  The one that lurks in shadows, ready to take on more cast offs, silently judging you and draining your mental energy day in and day out?  Yes, that one.

Let me share with you some truths that I shared with Client this morning:

  • Some of us judge ourselves far more harshly than we deserve.
  • Just because friends don’t talk about this on Facebook doesn’t mean that others aren’t fighting the same struggle. You are not alone. Lots of people have too many Socks (and other things).
  • MORE IMPORTANTLY,
    • Possession of all these Socks does not make you a bad, lazy or crazy person.
    • Possession of all these Socks causes negative self-talk as we choose yet again to go about our day of Family and Work and Volunteering and finally Bed (all very important things!!) instead of dealing with those cursed Socks (not nearly as important).
    • You are awesome, and the quality of your character is not determined by a basket of Socks.

And, for your peace of mind, if you want to conquer Sock Mountain, try these:

  • Wash the Socks.  Check under beds and couches, and wash them all.  One nasty soccer sock really can ruin the whole basket.
  • Once clean, collect them all.  Yes, All.  Check the sock drawers for rogue lone rangers.
  • Enlist Aid.  All of these Socks are not yours (probably). This project will go more quickly with more hands.
  • At least try.  Some clients have suggested chucking all the Socks and starting over, but this is terribly wasteful and we won’t learn anything from that strategy.
  • Change your location.  If the laundry room is not well lit or cheerful, move the basket to your bedroom or the kitchen counter, or somewhere else that will inspire and motivate you.
  • Line the unmatched Socks up by size and dominant color, to make matching them up easier.
  • Luckily, these days, especially in the world of tween girls, unmatched Socks are cool and fun!
  • Set a lower limit and an upper limit.  Many times a session with my clients, I will ask “How much is enough?” and “How many is too many?”  For example, set your Enough for 30 (or some other number) pairs. Pick your favorite 30 and pair them up.  Now you can look at little more critically at the leftovers.
  • Recognize that those Socks, at least some of them, ended up in the basket for a reason, and may no longer be needed and useful.
  • Set a timer.  We can do anything, even if we don’t like to, for a short period of time.  Watching a show? Great.  Grab the basket, dump it out, and get to it until the buzzer rings.  Then put away the matched Socks, and donate the rest.

So, be nice to yourself this week about your Socks and anything else, be honest with others, and spend a little time and tackle this common problem!

Why I Never Find Money in Old Coat Pockets

One of the biggest Cold Weather challenges for me (aside from the cold, snow, chapped hands and lips, etc.) is… too many pockets.

Have you ever noticed?  Too many coats, too many layers, too many pockets – these make it difficult to keep track of things like receipts or car keys or that one thing that I just had… a minute ago… in my hand… hold on, maybe it’s over here… no, not there…

Well, you get the idea.

We can wait for Spring, certainly, which will solve the too-many-pockets challenge with fewer layers and, dare I say, coat-free days, but we may still be challenged with too many places to put things and no habit or routine to help us take care of those things.

The challenge of losing things in pockets can be addressed and resolved, like so many challenges, with better habits.

Working with a new client yesterday, we talked about Routines and checklists, and a Landing and Launch Pad for getting out the door on time.   Keeping track of our time and our stuff relies on Routines and habits, and setting up space in our homes and offices to nurture those routines and habits.

When you get home from your day, what’s in your pockets?  An informal survey this morning (thanks, FB Friends, for playing along!) reports many of us are walking around with:

from
makemesomethingspecial.co.uk

  • debit card;
  • car keys;
  • straw wrappers;
  • wallet;
  • Sharpie;
  • lint;
  • lip balm;
  • those little dental picks;
  • tissues, clean and dirty;
  • loose change, ranging from 30 to 76 cents;
  • receipts;
  • Legos;
  • dog treats;
  • key card for work;
  • Jewel monopoly pieces “that are probably duplicates”
  • good luck penny;
  • business card (cards to give out, or perhaps a card just received?);
  • rosary;
  • flash drive;
  • pocketknife;
  • medication;
  • “my precious” (thanks C!)
  • “my hand” (thanks  P!  And standing up, yes, it’s probably in your pocket!).

 

To track and manage the stuff in our pockets and in our lives, we need to

  • Create space to deal with the stuff;
  • Create habits around dealing with the stuff;
  • Encourage others around us to create space and habits for dealing with stuff; and
  • Maintain the habits once we’ve created them.

 

First, create space to manage the stuff in your pocket.  Near your entrance, have

  • a garbage can (for things like straw wrappers, lint, tissues, dental picks, etc.);
  • an envelope for catching receipts until you are ready to deal with them;
  • a jar for loose change;
  • a bowl or basket for the really important things you may need while you’re home, like your CELL PHONE or  READING GLASSES;
  • a bowl or basket, or the habit to put-in-your-handbag, for the things you will need again when you leave, like KEYS, WALLET, SUN GLASSES.
  • For me, these all reside on my desk, right next to the back door.

 

Create the Habit for yourself:

  • The items listed above offer a visual reminder for me when I walk in the door to empty the stuff out of my pockets.  Even if I’m not ready to deal with it all, at least it is out of my pockets (ever run pens or lip balm through the laundry!?! Or cell phones?!?!).
  • I take care of receipts and bookkeeping items with just a few minutes every day – it’s easier to recall details when I do this daily!
  • While I wish I could be one of those people who slips on a coat not worn recently and finds a $20 bill inside, I much prefer to be one of those people who knows where her money is!
  • Let me encourage you to establish this Space and this Habit near your entrance (instead of on your dresser or in the laundry room), since much of what you brought home with you will also probably leave with you.

If you live with other people, encourage them to create the space and habit for themselves, too. For example, with 4 drivers in our house, there is a specific place for car keys to live, so we can find what we need when we need them!

Once you’ve created the space and the habit, Keep Up Every Day.  And if you or a family member start to lag or drift on the habit, be ready to re-commit with reminders and routines until emptying out your pockets, taking care of business and preparing for a seamless next departure becomes a natural and comfortable action to complete!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
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Call / text 708.790.1940
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Winter Is Coming, As Are Allergies, Colds and the Flu. Sorry.

Get your Medicine Cabinet ready for a chilly winter!soup

I wish I didn’t have to say it, but here’s the deal – Winter is coming. We have yet to find a way around it, though many have tried.  Every Fall at the first hint of cold weather, my husband and a friend swear they are moving to the Equator.  But short of such hemispheric and drastic solutions, winter is inevitable.  Some parts of the country get off easy, I know, but here in Chicago?  Not so much.

teaThe natural progression of “cold weather is coming” is that with cold weather occasionally comes colds, flu and other bugs to make us feel crummy.  And NOW – while it’s not cold out and you’re feeling quite fine! – is the best time to prepare for cold and flu season.

A texted conversation with my friend in Myrtle Beach last week (she’s fine after the hurricane) mentioned that Hurricane Prep and Waiting is like a giant blizzard but no snow and great weather.  All the schools, offices and businesses are closed, so once you have battened down the hatches, you sit around and relax until the rain and wind begin.

Doesn’t that sound like a better way to handle cold and flu season, too?  Plan ahead, batten down the hatches, and then relax a bit for whatever life sends you.

Here’s how!

Gather up everything!
Take a basket and go to all the usual places in your home where you stash medications and supplies.  Medicine cabinet, of course, but also: linen closets; kitchen cabinets; the other bathrooms; bedroom dressers and night stands, etc.  Once you’ve gathered everything up…

 

Sort it all Out!
Sort your medications into categories.  Cold and Flu, Digestive Health, Vitamins, Aches and Pains, First Aid, Prescriptions, etc.    After you’ve sorted it all…

 

Purge the Old or Icky Stuff.
Check your expiration dates, and handle some quality control.   Remember, medicine and medications exist to make us feel better.  Using old or outdated medicines invites the potential for ineffectiveness or even unexpected side effects.

Saturday, October 28, 2017 (Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 when orginally published!!)  is National Take Back Day, so if you have outdated medications to purge, check this link to the DEA website, and find an prescription medication Take Back event in your area.

 

Put Your Medicine and Supplies Away in a way that makes sense.
Consider who will use certain items, where you will use them, and what needs to be kept out of reach of children.  Also, prolonged heat and moisture can damage medicines, so DO NOT store medications long term in the bathroom or on the kitchen window sill.

We use a plastic basket in the hall linen closet to store most of our medicines for the Cold and Flu Season.  The basket is easy to access when someone is feeling poorly, and gets tucked back away when we’re done.  The basket keeps things together, and makes any spills easy to clean up, too, so we don’t have a large shelf with dozens of small bottles toppling every which way (which I see in houses often!).

In some homes, the medications are kept in a kitchen cabinet.  This works just fine, too, however still invest in a basket or two, to keep things together and save shelf space.

 

Finally, Stock Up:
Add missing items to your grocery list now, so when you really need cough medicine in the middle of the night, you don’t have to run out to the pharmacy.  Here is a comprehensive list of suggested medications and items from Real Simple (“Medicine Cabinet Essentials Checklist”), plus a few items I added:

  • Aspirin
  • Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (such as Advil and Motrin)
  • Thermometer

For Congestion, Colds, and Coughs

  • Cough medicine
  • Decongestant (such as Sudafed or Dristan)
  • Throat lozenges For Allergies and Itching
  • Antihistamine (such as Benadryl)
  • Hydrocortisone cream (for persistent itching)
  • Calamine lotion
  • Eyedrops

For Digestive Issues

  • Antacids (in tablet or liquid form)
  • Antidiarrheal treatment
  • Laxatives

For Cuts and Burns

  • Gauze, bandages, and medical tape
  • Antiseptic for wound cleaning (such as hydrogen peroxide)
  • Antibiotic ointment for preventing infections from wounds
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Miscellaneous
  • Sunscreen
  • Antifungal creams (athlete’s foot relief)

Antibacterial Wipes
Tissues, boxes and personal pocket packs
Lip balm

So clean out and stock up this week, while you’re feeling great and the weather is fine! You will thank yourself later!

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

“If You Call It a Junk Drawer, Guess What Ends Up Inside?”

Last week, a friend reached out to me, sharing pictures of her morning’s organizing projects. (I love that!) The conversation went like this:after

Friend:  (Below a picture of school papers) “Making Decisions.”
Me:  “Ooh, those are tough, I know.”
Friend: “Yes, well, once you explained clutter as unmade decisions [Barbara Hemphill], I have been able to get rid of most of it.  This mess was from my China / @##$@ cabinet.”
Me: (laughing) “Decisions are tough, but making them strengthens our decision muscles – it does get easier!”
Friend: “It is laughbable.  I had 6 junk drawers.  Down to 2 now.”
Me: “Woo hoo!  And never call them junk drawers, as, well, that’s what will end up in them! Better to name it, whether its a “school supply drawer”, “household hardware” or “party and baking drawer”!
Friend: “Yes. Good Tip”.
Me:  “Hmm, maybe that should be my next blog topic!”
Friend: “Yes, it should.  I’m buying a label maker today.”

Inspired by this exchange, I asked my FB friends to share photos of their junk drawers for this article (In no particular order, and with no identifying tags!).  And for the friends who asked if junk corners or junk rooms counted, these same suggestions will apply to those spaces, too!!

Just start!  Drawers are great and rewarding little projects!  You can make a lot of progress in little pieces!

Grab a garbage bag and a note-pad to jot down ideas that come to you.  Then set a timer for 20 minutes or so, if you’d like, and get to it!  If the drawer is dirty, dump the contents out on the counter and wipe / wash out the drawer before you put anything back.

The Organizing Process is the same (per Julie Morgenstern), whether a small drawer or a big room:

  1. Sort Your Stuff.  Common categories of junk drawer contents:
  • pens / pencils / markers (working and not)junk-drawer-1
  • paper clips, safety pins, clips of all sizes
  • coupons, expired and not
  • recipes, good and not
  • take-out menus, old and current
  • toothpicks
  • paper clips
  • random photos
  • note paper and post-its, used and unused, and business cards
  • hardware, screws, tacks, small tools
  • snacks, gum, candy (edible and not, who knows which is which?!)
  • glue, tape, string, rubber bands
  • first aid items, band-aids, inhalers, nail files
  • small toys, broken jewelry, hair ties, etc.
  • candles and matches
  • plastic silverware and old napkinsHow am I doing?  Sound familiar?  Sort what is there, and then head to the next step – purging.

0072. Purging.  This is where that garbage bags come in handy.  We can all agree, much of what is in a junk drawer is probably, well, junk, and can therefore be tossed.  So part with the old papers, dried out pens, questionable food items and anything else that you don’t need or love.

 

3.  Assign a Home.   Decide what categories you have present, and what categories of stuff you want to keep and where.  Consider where you use certain items, or how often you need to access those certain items.  NAME YOUR DRAWER, for goodness sake.  And let everyone in your house know what the drawer’s name and purpose is!  I have said this before, a space009 needs a name and a purpose.  If you call your drawer a junk drawer, or your room a junk room, junk will end up there.  So, as you assign a home for your items, group them logically and by purpose.  Perhaps you end up with:

  • A meal-planning drawer, with: menus; gift certificates and coupons; and recipes.
  • An office or school supply drawer, with: tapa and glue; pens, pencils and markers; notepads and post-its; paperclips, etc.
  • A tool and household drawer with: tools, heavy-duty tape, flashlights.
  • An extra utensil drawer, with: the kitchen items you want to keep but don’t use regularly. Or
  • Some other category you choose.  Just name it, and stick with it.

4.  Containerize.   Look around your house, you probably have containers you can use to corral your items in your newly cleaned and NAMED drawers.  (Finally, a use for some of those mismatched storage containers?)  And I snapped a picture of the new containers on a client’s table, she loves the dollar store for inexpensive drawer inserts.  If you can’t track down old check boxes or small cardboard jewelry boxes around the house, trays similar to the photo below (of my desk drawer) can be found at home stores like Target, or office supply stores like Office Depot or Staples.
003 011

0065.  Finally, the 5th step is Equalize, which is Julie Morgenstern’s snazzy word for MAINTENANCE! Once your drawers are organized, keeping them that way takes a lot less time and hassle. You can maintain them every day by putting stuff away in the right drawer and space.  And once in a while, if you pull open a drawer and it has gotten a little messy, setting it back to rights takes just a few minutes, using the same Sort / Purge / Assign a Home / Containerize / Maintain process.

Tackle this small but awesome project this 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