Organized with kids?

Some people tell me that it is impossible for them to be organized because of their kids.  While it can be a challenge to organize all the stuff that seems to just appear when you have kids, it is not impossible.  Here are some ways that you, and your children, can get organized – together.

  • Less is More. There are several studies and articles that show the benefits of children owning fewer toys.  Consider doing a deep clean of your children’s toys, keeping only what they toysactively play with and use daily.
  • Get them in the giving spirit. When organizing your children’s things, and your own, take your children with you to donate the items. Explain to them the purpose of a donation, who will benefit, and why this is important.  Once your children understand that you aren’t just throwing away their things, they may decide to give away more.
  • Make it a game. Being organized is challenging, but not impossible. Instead of telling them to go clean their room and then off they go for an indeterminate amount of time (and possibly little to show for it), set a timer for 10 minutes and tell them if they can get their items picked up and put back where they belong, they will get a prize! Prizes could be anything that is important to them, from watching their favorite movie (again) or going to the park, etc. You could develop a system where they get star stickers on a chart or money in a jar and after they get so many stars or so much money, they can go to the movies or go skating or go get ice cream. This helps them to watch their stars or money accumulate and know they are actually working toward a goal.
  • Treat them like an adult. Kids want their parents to be happy and for their parents to be proud of them.  Sit down and explain to your children how important it is to you for things to be organized and neat.  Explain to them that things last longer and will be more fun to play with if they are stored properly—less likely to be accidentally stepped on or run over by a car.  (Side note: this conversation will not work on anyone under the age of three, but you could give it a try.)
  • Get them involved from the beginning. Help your children build problem-solving skills by allowing them input into how their items are stored.  If they are part of the planning, it will make it much easier to get them to follow through with the process in the long term. This doesn’t just mean their bedroom or playroom. Kids love to take their things with them-even if they are just going to the living room. Have a special spot in the living room for them to keep a few things there instead of insisting all things must stay in their rooms.
  • One in, one out. Just like adults trying to get more organized, children, too, should toys2follow this policy. Instituting a one thing in means one thing out policy keeps your children from havi
    ng an overload – of toys, clothes, shoes, etc.  It also makes them value what they have more.  If they have to give something up in order to get something new, they will learn to prioritize and may even stop asking for new things just because they see something at the store.

Not all of these things will work with every child.  Some of these things may not work for your children at all.  The biggest goal is to include them and teach them.  You may discover that there are other methods that work for you, but the point is you can be organized – with kids.

Me, myself, and a bullet journal.

I’ve used a rotary phone and when I really need to remember things, I have to write them down.   I tell you these things so you know that behind this technology-using, social-media loving person beats an analog heart.

The Bullet Journal has been given a lot of media coverage lately from The Wall Street Journal and Real Simple to The creator, Ryder Carroll, has a website with videos and instructions on how to set up your bullet journal. The articles intrigued me, so after watching the videos and reading the instructions, I was excited to give it a try.

cover_fotorFor me, there were way too many pictures of bullet journal pages that were elegant and artistic. Since I am neither of those things, my bullet journal is strictly a functional tool and pretty representative of my constantly-changing schedule (more on that later).  I did try to make a concession by getting a cute notebook. Meh.

If you decide you want to do the bullet journal, please understand that you do not have to be artsy. However, if that makes happy, then go for it!  You also do not have to buy a fancy notebook, but I did find that notebooks with hard covers worked best for me.

Then you open the notebook and …index_fotor


Yeah. It’s a mess of different ink colors, lots of changes, lines crossed out, and a mix of work and personal entries.


But I LOVE the bullet journal.  I used it for the things recommended in the videos and instructions and then added a bunch of my own ideas.  Here’s a quick run-down, but if you want to give this try, I suggest you check out the video.



The first four pages of the book where you label what the following pages contain and their page numbers. (see above)


The next two pages of the book that lists future months beyond what you are currently scheduling. (I split each page in half and noted the four months after the month I was working on)


The next two pages where you map out the general things you want to accomplish, but not necessarily on a specific date, AS WELL AS events that occur on specific days.


The next two pages that give a week at a glance (I did not use this)


Split each page into half (or I did thirds like the picture below) and mark your specific items with one or more of these notations

  • Tasks             – Information                * Priority

o  Events             ! Inspiration                 > Migrated task            X Completed

In my opinion, the daily log is where it’s at. Note all the things you want to accomplish on that day, like this. Mark your tasks, events, and information. Anything not completed on that day is migrated to the next day.  And the next day. And the next day.  That’s the point. If you migrate a task so many times, you eventually ask yourself if it’s all that important in the first place.  Sometimes migrating a task incites a bit of guilt, and that’s why you complete it. Whatever works, right?

For me, just the act of writing things down helped me focus and gave me some perspective on how I was spending my time. I noted down everything from small tasks like returning something to the store to big things like a conference I attended.

Here are the things I added:


I keep a monthly budget of bills and income, so I just started tracking it in the journal.


A snapshot of the projects I have going, the people I need to follow up with, and topics/businesses I need to explore further.


Future topics to write about on the blog.


I’m writing a book, and this is where I keep all the random things I think about to add.

I also keep notes I’ve taken from the books I read. See the Index above where I took several pages of notes on the book The Art of Social Media.

A new notation I added was Hold with a squiggly line. To me, it was for things that had been on a long term hold, but not put off indefinitely.

Basically, focus is what I got from this exercise. I’ve seen where there are instructions for doing a bullet journal in an electronic format, but I disagree with this approach. I use Trello as a project management tool for overall projects, but this is for the minutiae, the details, and the accountability.  If you have to write something over and over again, you will either get it done or recognize it as unnecessary to your success. Things are less abstract to me when I write them down, while I can sometimes feel that technology is abstract (in the way that I understand and retain the information.)

Check out the links or give me a call, but I highly suggest trying this method and seeing if it works for you. I’ve already bought my next notebook, and the cover reads “Trust Your Crazy Ideas.” Indeed.

Thanks for the Memories

watchLegacy. Heirloom. Heritage. The tradition of passing down an item of significance from one generation to another has long been documented.  In today’s world, though, have we confused this act with handing down keepsakes or mementos? These things have value to a specific person and are usually about a certain place or time.  Are older generations bestowing things to younger generations that weren’t necessarily meant to be part of the historical tradition? If so, what are the younger generations supposed to do with these objects?

If you are considering what to do with your possessions, take into account these few things, and you could avoid some unintentional harm or hurt feelings.

Is your remembrance something that has been in the family for years and has a deep meaning?  Is it something that has a special significance to another family member?  Or is the reason that you want to pass this object on simply that you might feel guilty getting rid of it yourself?  If it is that last one, reassess the meaning of this token. You may realize that it doesn’t have the significance that you thought it did. While some things are painful to get rid of, not all things should be passed on to others.

A friend of mine told that me that when her grandmother was considering what to leave her family, she decided that whatever gifts you had given to her would be what you were bequeathed.  This seems like a strange approach because the keepsake was purchased with the receiver, the grandmother, in mind.  If the only connection is that the family member gave the gift, it might not have as much meaning and will be less likely to be kept.

Family, in the traditional sense, is almost unrecognizable today. With adoption, step-family, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and all kinds of configurations, the passing of treasures is harder.  When thinking about gifting an item to someone, consider how it will affect all parties – including those individuals that will not be getting the memento.  

Some people struggle to make this process fair.  Unless you are talking about cash, it shouldn’t be about being fair, but about the connection.  One person may have a strong connection to a set of books that holds no monetary value while another person may have a strong connection to a piece of jewelry that does have monetary value, but the emotional value is more important. Being fair in this situation isn’t actually possible because everyone values items differently. Another thing to understand about handing down items is that you shouldn’t make someone take it.  If you do, it loses the meaning and any positive feelings associated with it and that item then becomes a shackle. As a matter of fact, a synonym for “things” is “trappings.” Hmm.

Younger generations are moving toward a more minimalist lifestyle.  Older generations come from a time when you kept all of your things because at some point you didn’t have much.  How do we decide what is important and “hand-down-able”? The best heirloom is one in which the value is in the memories that surround it.  The best passing of an item between one generation and another is where the memories tied to the item are equally strong by both the giver and receiver.  Most of the time, a real heirloom has little financial value, but tons of emotional value.  Those are the best things!

What we collect, along with the things we are given, add to the challenge of staying organized.  If you are conscientious, you can have both – meaningful, wonderful things and being organized.

But I don’t love it, love it

One premise to being organized is to own things you only really, truly love.

Mmmmmm, okay.

There are certain things that you HAVE to own, right?  Plates, utensils … toilet paper.  In my case, it would be pretty much anything in the kitchen.  I don’t like to cook, and I’m not a fan of being in the kitchen at all.  So, how do you own things you don’t really love?   kitchen-cooking-interior-decor

  • Make it yours. I may not like kitchen tools, but I do have to have them.  I love things to be very colorful, so I decided that one way to enjoy using the utensils was to buy ones that are orange, blue, teal, and red.  Now I display them proudly and hope that people think I actually cook. Come to think of it, most of the things in my kitchen are colorful, even my toaster! Depending on what you are working with, a table, chair, or kitchen items like me, you could also paint, stain, reupholster, or cover it in washi tape! Go crazy, get creative, and make it your own.
  • Be honest.  Do you really need it? Cooking utensils, silverware, etc are things everybody has to have (mostly). However, if you own something and can’t remember the last time you used it, like that wingback chair in the spare bedroom, then you probably don’t love or even need it.
  • Hide it.  If you have to own it, and making it original isn’t an option, then hide that stuff.  I have never been a fan of displaying, well, much.  I like clean, clear countertops and try to keep a lot of things hidden.  The problem comes when my husband tells me that he forgets we own things if he doesn’t see them, like apples and the cat. So, we have a bowl on the counter with food in it, and the cat walks freely amongst us.  If you own something that you don’t love, don’t use often, and don’t need to be reminded that you own it, hide it away!
  •  Repurpose it. Some people keep things that they don’t love out of obligation, because it was a gift or hand-me-down or some other thing. If you have to keep the thing, ask yourself if it can be utilized in a different manner – you’re still keeping it, right?  For instance, my family gives me jewelry. I don’t really wear a lot of jewelry but I have all these pieces sitting in a box. Recently, I became friends with a wonderfully creative woman who makes jewelry.  I asked her if I could bring her these pieces of jewelry and have her fashion a new piece from it, and she said yes! By the time we’re done, I will own a completely unique necklace, made from jewelry that individually I was not likely to wear.  Win-win!
  • Embrace it. What else can I say? If you own something that you don’t love and can’t repurpose, hide, or make it reflect you – why do you own it? Secretly, you do love it and just don’t want people to know it, like a boxed DVD collection of Gilmore Girls? If that’s the case, then embrace it and love it. Be loud and proud. But really, Gilmore Girls?…

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Moving Day!

One reason people hire professional organizers for is to coordinate moving their household from one place to another.  This is popular among people with very busy lives, with a large household, or who recently suffered an injury. I, myself, am moving right now and thought it would be great to share a few tricks that I use when moving, whether myself or others.

    1. Start early. Start going through your belongings at least one month prior to your move date.  Begin by going room by room and determining if there any items you want to get rid of, especially big items or furniture.  It doesn’t make any sense to pay movers to move things you don’t actually want.  Post it for sale or donate it so that you’re ready to move only what you truly want to keep.
    2. Use boxes. Don’t make things harder on yourself by packing things up at the last minute in what ever you can find.  You will exhaust yourself unnecessarily, will increase your risk of breaking something, and will probably spend twice the amount of time than if you had just packed your  items in boxes.  Good quality boxes are fairly inexpensive at Home Depot.
    3. Use boxes unless… As stated in number 2, use boxes unless you are talking about clothes!  Use your luggage to move all your clothing items, bedding, bath towels, etc.  This can be especially helpful for moving coats or offseason items that are stored in spare closet.
    4. Label your boxes. Each box should be taped shut and labeled with: the room it goes to, what is inside the box, and the weight or special instructions.  For example: Living room-DVDs/Electronics-Heavy or Office-Decor-Fragile.  This will help you and the movers on moving day to arrange the load so nothing fragile is on the bottom or so that you can carry several boxes at one time based on how heavy the boxes are or what room they are going to .
    5. Have the proper tools.  Assemble these items together at the start of the packing process for ease: boxes, tape, marker, post-it notes, scissors, hammer, measuring tape, and bubble wrap.  Most of this is explanatory but just to make it super clear: the boxes to pack things in, the tape, scissors, and markers for the boxes, a hammer to remove nails, post-it notes for big items or furniture to indicate what room they go in, and a measuring tape in case you need to double check or make note of the measurements for a large piece of furniture.
    6. Snap a pic. If you need to remember the exact placement of an artwork collection or bookshelf set-up, take a picture before you pack it away. Then, when you get to the new place, you will be able to put it all back as it was. 

These simple things will make your move easier! You’ll be sipping wine in your new home to celebrate and not because the move went so badly you need a drink, I promise.



Getting organized is not an easy thing. It takes time, effort, and focus.  Staying organized is much easier, right?  Not really.  The problem is that some people make a huge effort to get organized but then slowly chip away at that progress until they feel that it’s not worth it.

Here are four ways you may be sabotaging yourself:

  1. Incomplete projects. You tell yourself that you’ll clean out the closet. You pull everything out, sort through it, and decide what you’ll keep, donate, and throw away.  All the things you want to keep go in the closet, the things you want to throw away go in the trash, and then the things you want to donate…sit in a pile on the floor…for months.  This is actually pretty common.  People get a project 90% complete and then it just loses its momentum. There’s a wall that you hit and if you don’t push through it, your project will stay incomplete. Check out this article on organizing your closet by Real Simple here.
  2. It’s all about the little things.  You feel that you almost have an organized home but there just seems to be stuff, little things, everywhere. No, there are not little elves rearranging your stuff when you’re asleep. You’re just not putting everything back where it goes every time.  If you make the time to designate a place for something, you have to commit to putting there after each use.
  3. Putting things where they look good but don’t help you. You are unique and so are your things. When considering how to organize your space, put things you use the most in the spots that you can get to easiest.  Also, determine how you use the item most and put it where it makes sense based on that use of the item.  For example, if you always go through your mail while sitting on the couch watching TV., put your letter opener in the drawer of your side table, not on your desk.
  4. Quantity over quality. Only keep things in quantities that make sense for their use.  Owning four cheap screwdrivers over one really quality screwdriver is not good for you and your organizational system.  If you have a collection, such postcards from places you’ve been, make sure they are displayed with care and that each have that special meaning for you. P.S. In most cases, you will not have a collection of screwdrivers (just in case you’re trying to figure out how to keep them all.)

And that’s a few ways you could be getting in your own way when it comes to organizing!

Getting and staying organized is no easy task, the last thing you want to do in hinder your ability to be successful.  Set up a system for you and not for anyone else. Be deliberate in the placement of items and get rid of the extras that are getting in your way. Be aware and be quick to change things that don’t work of you and your system. Be organized. Be happy.


The Total Woman

It’s 8:45 on a Saturday morning and twenty women have gathered in a training room on loan from a local bank. They’re here to attend The Total Woman Workshop and Luncheon. There’s a lot of talking, hugging, and introductions but everyone is a friend, colleague, or relative and the connections are obvious.

The Business and Professional Women’s  group (  has been putting on this event for eight years which allows women to talk to women about issues that affect women. The subjects are interesting and varied: advice to achieve success, voting, depression, auto-immune disease, and then Organization: The Key to Success in Life by yours truly.

I am pretty anxious about speaking. I have my speech typed up but then there are blue ink marks and additions all over – like I’m going to remember that when I get up in front of these ladies! I am the luncheon speaker, the last presenter and competing with food for their attention. Who can compete with food?! I worry about how I look, that I am making enough eye contact, and if my face is flushed. It happens no matter what and when I think about it, I blush even more. The one thing I am not worried about is what I want to say.

I talk about organizing being a difficult process and how someone can only  be successful if she thinks about who she truly is and where her short comings are and organize for that. Not to organize based on what’s on Pinterest or HGTV, but to organize in a way that supports and makes life easier for the individual works best. I say that sometimes that means having hard conversations about priorities and goals.

I have them do an exercise on classifying something they brought with them. The idea is that everything we own is either a Treasure, Toy, Tool, or Trash depending on the emotion tied to that item and how functional it is. Surprisingly, we have a conversation about cell phones – I say mine is a Toy, I love it and it’s functional. Another woman says that she just thinks of it as a tool – no love there. That’s the point though, everyone is different.

I finish my presentation and ask if there are any questions. To me, this is where you can tell if you did well. If there are lots of comments and questions, it means they were paying attention and were interested in what you said and want to continue the conversation.  I get a lot of questions, good questions, which makes me feel my presentation was strong.

Afterwards, I still have women come up and make comments, show me pictures, and thank me for coming.  I hand out a few business cards, but honestly I feel like I’m the one who learned something valuable today.  These women come in all different shapes and sizes, ages and colors, interests and backgrounds.  The common thing is desire: to be a better person, to interact with others and learn from them, and to share experiences. The complete package with female flair is The Total Woman.