Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Tip: Shop Your House Before You Hit the Stores

I heard a great reminder on The Nate Berkus Show this morning about shopping your house for items you can re-purpose before you hit the stores. And while I may not be able to DIY an old table into a design marvel (though I really wish I could), as an organizer, I couldn't agree more with this common-sense-but-we-could-all-use-a-reminder tip! Good organizing solutions are rarely complex or unique items - they are usually born from everyday containers, furniture or storage that just needed a little creativity and perhaps labeling :)

So the next time you have an organizing dilemma, which often involves finding a home for something that doesn't have one, take a look around your house, basement, and attic to see if you already have something that fits the bill. Since we're in the process of setting up our new home, I'm doing this almost daily. Just the other day, I re-purposed a simple Pier 1 basket that I've had for probably 10 years (and has always served some purpose in my office) into a perfect container for our cloth place mats and napkins. I used to keep them in a kitchen drawer, but storage space is super-limited in our new kitchen, so I decided I needed to relocate anything that didn't absolutely have to be in the kitchen. So the cloth items are now happily in the basket on a shelf right near our dining area - perfect!

Along the same lines, I was also reminded recently when looking at the Ikea Hackers site that when it comes to home furnishings and organizing solutions, things don't always have to be what they are intended to be. Just because it says it's a TV stand, doesn't mean you have to use it as one! Once again, my new house is challenging my organizational skills - we have almost no entry area, and even less entry storage. I have come to realize as an organizer that having a landing zone with proper storage for all the things that go in and out of your house everyday is key to maintaining overall household organization. I knew what I was looking for but couldn't find all the elements in a traditional entryway bench. So I am using an Ikea TV stand as the foundation of our landing zone, thanks to some ideas I saw on Ikea Hackers. I will also be adding a wall unit with baskets and a row of hooks to complete the storage options. The moral of the story is to get creative when you're looking for a solution and don't settle for something that doesn't meet your needs.

Is it a TV stand or a great entryway storage bench?!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Tuesday Tip: Get Your To-Do List To-Done

A recent survey conducted by LinkedIn confirmed what many of us already knew. That daily to-do list you make often doesn't get done! And your profession may have something to do with it. Check out this brief article summarizing the findings. Since completing to-do lists seems to be an elusive task, here are a couple of tips to help turn your to-do list into your to-done list!
  • Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. For your daily list, instead of writing down everything you have to do from now until the end of time, decide what are the top 3-5 things you must do today. Being realistic in terms of how much you can actually get done in a day will help set you up for success.
  • Limit distractions. Distractions including email, phone calls, meetings or impromptu chats with colleagues are likely one of the top barriers to getting that list done. Do what you need to do to limit these or other distractions. Close your door, set times to check email, or schedule meetings with co-workers rather than chatting non-stop.
  • Stay focused. While multi-tasking was once considered a required skill for most professionals, focusing on one task at a time when possible actually enhances productivity. Changing from one task to another only wastes time since you're constantly shifting gears.
Test out one or more of these tips to see if you can conquer your to-do list!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Friday Find: The Honest Company

A little while back I learned about The Honest Company, founded by Jessica Alba. Their goal is to provide families with 'honest' family and baby care essentials, ranging from diapers to cleaning products, that are free of harsh chemicals. I like the idea of using safer, greener products, but to be honest (no pun intended), I'm overwhelmed by all the choices out there and tend to hop around to different brands and products with no real direction.

So helping me choose good, safe products is nice, but the kicker for me is that The Honest Company delivers a personalized bundle of products directly to your door every month! This is a great example of automating your to-do's, one of my favorite time management tips. Since household products tend to be used up at different rates, it definitely take some effort to keep track of which items you need when...not to mention remembering to get them when you're at the right store. Having home delivery of family-safe, reasonably priced home and bath supplies sounded good to me...sign me up! So that's what I did. First I received the [almost] free trial (you have to pay for shipping). I liked what I saw, so I stayed on and received the standard family essentials bundle...it arrived just as I was running out of my old laundry detergent! My favorite part is that after your first month when you receive the standard (pre-selected bundle), every month you get to choose any 5 products you need - they have a variety to choose from.

From an organizational standpoint, I think this service is great. As already mentioned, it's a time management winner. It also helps me better manage my home inventory. It took me about 1 minute last night to go to my account and select the products I want in my next delivery. I can guarantee it would've taken more time to do a traditional inventory and shopping for the same products. I also see some value in product consistency. Once you find something you like, being consistent helps eliminate having 7 different partially used bottles of multi-surface cleaner under your sink! Beyond the organizing benefits, it just makes me feel good to know I'm buying family and earth-friendly products. They also donate a portion of their sales to charity - extra bonus!

If convenience and choosing safer, greener products is important to you, you might want to give them a try. I can 'honestly' say I'm a fan :)

The Honest Company Family Essentials

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday Tip: Don't Overload Your Plate!

If you checked out Friday's post, you'll know I talked about re-usable plates to help keep cookout clutter at bay. Well, today I'm happy to report that thanks to my wonderful family, I now have my very own set of Crate & Barrel marimekko melamine plates and even a tray to match for my birthday - yeah! Here they are...

But today I wanted to give a tip that involves a plate of a different kind...our 'plate' of life responsibilities. Most people I know always have over-flowing mental and physical to-do lists...usually it's a combination of life's must do's, should do's and want to do's. While this is ok and even good to some extent (to have ambition and things we want to get done), many times these over-flowing lists are a major source of what I call background stress. For me, it's that nagging feeling of never being 'done' and seeing a million projects everywhere I look. For the most part, the over-flowing lists and background stress are a product of having more on our plates that we can digest. And while it's common sense that we shouldn't overload our plates, it seems to happen all too easily in today's world!

So here's today's tip: If your plate is over-full, don't add anything new until what's already on there is under control! This means if you already feel like you're having trouble keeping up, don't jump into new activities, business ideas, committees, etc. I always have to remind myself that for most things in life, it's not now or never. Things can wait. If you really want to do them, you'll come back to them. This might even include delaying fun things like planning a big family trip if your background stress is keeping you from fully enjoying your want to do's. Does this mean you have to wait until you've got all of life's responsibilities completely under control? No, of course not! That would mean many of us would never get to the fun stuff. But if you're like me and you're bothered by too much 'background stress,' take a breather and hold off on adding more to your plate until you're feeling like you can handle it! Fair enough?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Find: Curb Cookout Clutter

Memorial Day weekend traditionally represents the start of the summer season - yeah! For many households, this means weekends filled with parties and cookouts and family fun. But don't let your cupboards and pantries become overrun with plastic cups, paper plates and enough plastic silverware to feed an army. Having a mess of partially used packages of disposable party ware doesn't make it easy to whip out the supplies you need for an impromptu barbecue. Our suggestion, keep one good set of re-usable outdoor tableware and your cupboards and the environment will be better off. Here are a few options we've seen...the first one is even from a local company who's transforming trash into tableware - how cool!?

Preserve Tableware

Crate & Barrel Melamine Plates

Bamboo Studio BambooWare