Sue McMillin
Sue McMillin
Organizing Consultant & Speaker
719-495-7626

With Time to Spare

Organize to Make Life Easier

Welcome!

AT&P Course Attendees Page

Getting organized can be a daunting task, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Streamline your office. Do you have a strategy for organizing your paper and electronic files? Learn proven techniques on how to better manage your information and save an hour a day. Visit Office Transformations to see success stories.

Simplify your home. Do you know what to keep and what to throw away? Learn practical steps on how to gain more space, save more money and reduce stress. Visit Home Transformations.

I’m passionate about creating an organized workplace and a peaceful home so you can make life easier and be more productive. Even though the new year is behind us, it’s always a great time to get organized.Take a look around at the online posts and articles, books and Facebook. Learn how I come alongside clients through services including presentations, seminars, workshops and hands-on coaching. Whether in your office or home, I’d love to help bring order to your surroundings.Take advantage of With Time To Spare’s book discounts and get If I File It, Can I Find It? and Organized! How to Create a Happier Home, Family, and Life for half price.

 

 

 

Vibrant colors vector felt pen stains

 

Time for some more great tips from the web to help you save time and money!

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cereal canister for car trash

Repurpose a cereal canister as a trash can for the car

Thanks to BHG.com for this tip!

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coffee filter in flower pots

Prevent soil from escaping through the holes in the base of flowerpots by lining with coffee pot filters.

Thanks, This Old House, for this tip!

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kitty litter plastic bag

Clean cat litter trays quickly by lining with a garbage bag.

Via DIY Tip of the Day

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drill and post-it note

Use a Post-It note when drilling to catch the dust

Credit Lifehacker

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aluminum foil paint tray

Cover paint trays with aluminum foil to make cleaning up afterwards a breeze.

Thanks, OurHumbleAbowed, for the good idea!

 

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Welcome back to Timely Tips!

Here are some great tips gleaned and gathered from the web!

The goal is to give you stunning ideas that will save you TIME and money as you organize your spaces!

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color code your keys

Wow!  This is far cheaper than having specialty keys cut!  Just color code your keys with nail polish!

Thanks to The Chive for this tip!

 

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thrifty watering can

Create a thrifty watering can by puncturing holes in the top of a used milk bottle.

Credit to  A Journey to a Dream

 

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wrapping paper rods

 

Create a thrifty organizer for wrapping paper using cup hooks and painted dowel rods. This technique is also ideal for storing rolls of foil and paper towel rolls on the inside of pantry doors.

Thanks,  Woman’s Day, for this timely tip!

 

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bread tags power cords

Are your power cords in need of order?  Just use those little plastic bread tags to label power cords.

Thanks Apartment Therapy,  for this tip!

 

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pillowcase embroidery hoop

Make a simple laundry bag using an old pillowcase and an embroidery hoop.

Credit to Martha Stewart

 

 

 

Clutter

 

“Contemporary U.S. households have more possessions per home than any society in all of global history. Put simply, Americans sure do love their stuff. But at what point do all of the toys, gadgets and big box consumables that fill their homes become too much?”

Armed with questions like this, University of California TV has launched a new series that looks at the “what’s” and the “where’s” of middle-class abundance in America!  But, moreover,  UCTV looks at the “why’s”, for it is in the reasons for the accumulation where we will find answers to this nagging fact of American consumerism.  To read more about this, visit here.

The short three-part series is available for free online viewing at http://www.uctv.tv/clutter/.

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Take the time to try some of these great new tips!  You have to invest time to save time!   You will be so glad you did!

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clothes drawer organization

“File” clothes vertically in drawers so you can see your clothes at a glance.

Thanks to Chasing Cheerios for this tip.

 

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scarves on trouser hangers
Organize scarves by tying around trouser hangers to store in your wardrobe

Thanks to Squidoo for this idea!

 

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Pet hair problems--thing of the past

Squeegees are for more than your windows.

Use one to remove pet hair from furniture and carpets

Thanks, Bobbenblog Lite, for the tip.

 

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toilet cleaning

Who would have thought that dropping a couple of denture cleaning tablets into the toilet bowl at night would clean off all those stubborn stains by morning.

Thanks, Stockpiling Moms, for this timely tip!

 

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clean block lemon

“To clean a wooden chopping board,

sprinkle on a handful of Kosher salt and rub with half a lemon.

Rinse with clean water and dry to ensure it is clean and germ-free.”

From Off the Wheaten Path

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If you are like me, you will love this fresh inspiration and these great ideas about ways to improve your space.  The internet is chock full of fantastic ideas.

Here are just a few for you to enjoy!

 

microwave your sponges

I can’t stand the thought of using older sponges that smell of mildew.

Why not deodorize your used sponges in the microwave?

Soak your sponges in water spiked with white vinegar or lemon juice and put on full power for two minutes.

Use tongs to remove the hot deodorized sponges!

Thanks to Moms Against Cooties.com for this tip.

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 eucalyptus #2

 “Tie a sprig of eucalyptus to your shower head.
The steam will help infuse your bathroom with an invigorating fragrance.”
Thanks to Apartment Therapy for this tip!

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wax paper on top of cabinets

Placing a layer of waxed paper on top of kitchen cupboards will prevent grease and dust from settling.

Switch out the paper every few months to keep cupboards clean.

Thanks to In This Crazy Life for this tip!

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kleenex box for plastic bags

You know all those plastic bags that you accumulate each week after your grocery trip?

How about tacking an empty tissue box inside of a cabinet and using that as the storage box for these bags?

Keeps them handy but out of sight!  Fantastic!

Thanks to In This Crazy Life for this tip!

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towel racks on linen closet door for blankets

Attach towel bars to the back of the linen closet door to store blankets.

Thanks to The Storage Geek for this tip!

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Timely Tips
The Home Edition

If you are like me, you can finally breathe a sigh of relief that summer is finally here! Summertime shouts gardening, organizing, cleaning and fresh new starts before the school year starts up once again!

Spring and summer cleaning was one of those things that my mother did religiously, and I was always recruited to assist. Of course, I didn’t like to be recruited to clean way back when, back when I wanted to be out playing and climbing trees and wading in the creek.

There is an old saying, “Housework is something you do that nobody notices until you don’t do it.” And because home maintenance is a repetitive, endless task, I’m always on the lookout for beneficial tips on cleaning and organizing that makes all the hard work just a little easier.

If you need a booster shot of encouragement for the spring cleaning chores that lie before you, take note of this great quote from Nancie Carmody, author of Sunnyside of Life: A Collection of Wouldn’t it be Nice Thoughts:  “I am thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home… I am thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.”

More tips to come next week!

I would love to hear feedback from you on the tips we present here. Did you find the tip useful? Do you have some great tips to share? Please let us hear from you! We would love to highlight your tip on this page.

 

 

 

 

 

Order Under the Sink

order under the sink (2)

    Order under the sink

Here’s a genuinely nifty solution for your under-sink space. Eliminate the frustration of reaching into a  cramped and cluttered cabinet.

All you need is a 24-48” tension rod and several plastic baskets.

Or use the tension rod and some shower hooks to store saucepans inside a cupboard.

With a couple of clicks, get the highlighted products from Sue’s Amazon store. Same great prices, same great Amazon satisfaction guarantee!

Thanks to the Blue Velvet Chair blog and DIY Home Sweet Home for these fantastic tips!

 

 

A Handy Place for Everything

Need more organized storage in your kitchen cupboard or bathroom cabinet for those random kitchen or cleaning tools that so often get jumbled together?

All you need to do is cut up a shoe holder and hang it from a couple of adhesive hooks that you have adhered to the cupboard door. Voila, you have a ready-made compartmentalized area to organize your items.

A handy place for everything

With a couple of clicks, get highlighted products from Sue’s Amazon store. Same great prices, same great Amazon satisfaction guarantee!

Thanks to Mrs. Polly Rogers for this great idea.

 

 

 

Chalk it up to … a new use for chalk!

I love the idea that hanging a bundle of chalk in the closet will keep everything fresh and dry. The chalk absorbs excess moisture – a thrifty alternative to an electric dehumidifier!

Another use for chalk is to simply rub it into a grease stain on fabrics or clothes. Wash as normal. The chalk will absorb the grease and will be washed away during the washer cycle.

All you need is a container of chalk, a pretty ribbon, and a moment of your time.

 

Chalk it up to...

Thanks to Martha Stewart and Budget 101 for this tip.

 

 

Shoes off and hung up neatly.

Install a regular coat rack low down on the wall to store shoes safely and neatly off the floor.

All you need is the rack, some screws (included) and a screwdriver.

 

Shoes off and hung up neatly

Thanks to Destination Unknown for this good idea.

 

planner

 

 

PLANNERS!

“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail” Winston Churchill

• Perhaps the most fundamental technique in planning our days and weeks is to have a planner which could be a loose-leaf notebook to help you keep track of all your errands, appointments, and things to buy.  If you are not paper-based, your iPad or Smartphone will do the trick.

• The most important advantage of a planner is that it helps you remember. When asked to do something, pick up an object, or call someone, you can do one of two things:  either do it right then or jot it down somewhere to help you remember. A planner is an absolute must for helping you remember and will save you tons of time. Once you start using this gem, it will forever be by your side.

• When you rely on your notebook to remember for you, requests made of you or projects you want to do will no longer hang over your head. You jot down your project and do it when you can fit it into your schedule. No more will your mind be bogged down with mental clutter. Your mind becomes freer, funnier, and more creative and starts to dream.

• What if the thought of a physical paper planner just does not compute with you, the modern tech-savvy gal or guy. Good news! A quick google search will reveal that there are many planner apps for your smart phone.  How about this webpage full of apps?

Consider, for instance, the Schedule Planner by AppEggs.com. Their advertisement boasts dozens of features. “Busy users are provided with a flexible set of categories ranging from “Health” and “Shopping”, to “Work” and many others to categorize tasks with. Once you pick your category simply input the nature of each task as a time-block including your desired start & end times, alarms, and additional notes. You can also plan out and input daily plans, appointments, and events in advance and review them whenever you want via Schedule Planner’s twin-mode graphic calendar. To boot, tasks are color coded by category to enable you to see how your day is going to pan out at a glance. The world is busier than ever. Get the Schedule Planner advantage, optimize your time to a tee, and become more productive than you ever thought you could be, starting now.”

• So, whether you have a paper notebook planner or an app for your smart phone, your mind will be free to think about your goals, your dreams, and your hobbies. Here are some suggestions for topics in your planner:

1. To Do
2. To Buy
3. To Call
4. To Write
5. Ideas and Thoughts
6. Names to Remember
7. Borrowed or Lent
8. Projects
9. Personal Data
10. Household
11. Medical History
12. Names and Addresses for Emergencies
13. Christmas List
14. Calendar with Month-at-a-Glance

Need some great ideas for your planner? Just click here for the dozens of Pinterest pages dealing with planners! Not only does Pinterest have ideas, but they also have free printables and pages that compare and review the best planners out there.

So, go on and get yourself a planner!  You will be so glad you did!

 

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I just spoke in Buena Vista, Colorado, at Spring Canyon, a Christian military retreat camp this past week.

What a wonderful experience. Many families come each week for R&R and to listen to speakers from all over the country.

 

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I spoke twice to the families.

Then I went to observe the maintenance area for possible follow-up with organizing with the staff.

 

 

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I also worked with the Director’s wife to organize part of one of the rooms in her home.

It was a fantastic experience to help so many people understand the concepts of order and the how-to’s as well.

 

 

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Folks, it doesn’t get any better than this. Getting to do what you love in the most gorgeous state in the union!

 

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What a fantastic view I had every morning as I had my quiet time!

What a life!

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Sue packs her bags and moves to Redding, California. The beauty of her surroundings was stunning, but her organizing and speaking business took a big hit!  Redding’s economy was not one that would provide much in the way of income.  But, a phone call from a past client insures Sue that the Lord is preparing her for yet another adventure in the near future. Her walk of faith is bolstered yet again.

Read this exciting new installment in Sue’s story! 

At one time or another, we’ve all heard these sentiments: “When I was growing up, I had so little that I never want my kids to experience the poverty that I went through.”

As I’ve worked with families all over this country organizing their homes, almost everywhere I  have gone I have seen moms and dads struggling and muddling through mountains of toys that they have worked to supply to their kids. And from my perspective those parents rarely receive their kids’ appreciation for all the stuff they’ve been given.

Parents feel that if they don’t get their kids all these toys, educational games, and computer programs, they are depriving their kids of the opportunities that they, the parents, missed.

I suggest a paradigm shift: focus on giving your kids what you have, instead of focusing on providing them with what you did not have. Why give your kids something that is perishable that will just add to the junk heap in some landfill, when you can give them the lasting treasures of your time, energy, and focus.

Take them to the zoo. Walk or hike with them in a park or on a trail. Get them off the computer and into the car for a trip to a bookstore or for ice cream. Teach them how to serve by guiding them into helping others a couple of hours each month. Commit to having just plain good family time once a week at home without turning on the TV. Establish family traditions that they will remember for years to come.

There are so many things you can do that does not involve stuff. When I was growing up, more than anything that my dad ever bought for me, I wanted him to play ball with me and the neighborhood kids. I wanted time with him.

Cultivate an ever-deepening friendship with your children. It’s not time spent; it’s time invested. And all the while you will model for your children how the really important things in life have little to do with stuff that will be enjoyed momentarily before it’s soon set aside or discarded.

If you invest your time wisely, they will, too. They will grow up and tell their children stories, not about the stuff they didn’t have, but all the wonderful joys and memories of what you gave them. These are treasures that you can never buy in a store.  Your children will love you all the more for it, I guarantee!

 

social media photo scanning and uploading

 

 

May is National Photography Month, and to celebrate it I am providing tips and strategies on dealing with and organizing all the photos that accumulate in your home and computer!

Today let’s talk about photo sharing on social networks and online photo sharing sites.

Scanning Photos

First,  let’s address the idea of scanning an existing film photograph onto a computer. Let’s say you have a lovely old picture of your grandmother on her wedding day. It is old and fading and wrinkled. You don’t want to lose this precious treasure, so what do you do? If you own a printer/scanner, then you have the capability to save these old photos for all time.

Here are the steps for scanning a photo onto your computer:

  1. Many printers come with scanning and faxing capabilities. If your printer has this capability then you are set. Turn on your printer/scanner.
  2. Lift the upper lid of the scanner/printer and position your photo face down on the glass. Press the “scan” button found on the printer.
  3. At this point the software takes over. Follow the prompts. The software will usually create a file for your photo, but the software will name it something obscure, like “img037.jpg”. Go ahead at this point and rename the file to reflect the image that you are scanning, like “Granny Smith – Wedding Day – June 8, 1919”.
  4. At this time you can leave the file in the folder that the software created, or you can copy or move it to a folder that you have created with a meaningful name that will help you to find the photo later.

Now that you have scanned and saved the photo in your nicely organized folder you need to decide what you want to do with it. Do you want to email it to someone? Do you want to post it on Facebook? You have it safely locked away in your computer, ready for whatever plans you have for it. And there you have the process of scanning a photo and saving it onto your computer.

Uploading Your Digital Photos

Finally, I am going to provide you with the steps to upload your digital photos to an internet photo sharing service and to social media sites:

  1.  The first thing you have to determine is the purpose for your uploading of photos onto an internet photo sharing site. There are presently two primary purposes for uploading photos. The first purpose one might have to upload photos to an internet site is to store your photos in an online photo album. This safe method of archiving your photos is well documented to be a viable and practical way to insure your photo’s protection and security. Some examples of these simple online photo albums are Photo Bucket, Picasa, and Smug Mug. Photo Bucket has free registration and hosts over 50 million users. It offers unlimited free storage, 1 MB per photo and 10 minutes per video (With image size restrictions). There are no size restrictions with a Pro account. With a free account, you can use up to 10GB of bandwidth per month. Picasa also has free registration and hosts over 500,000 users. It offers 1 GB free storage for photos and videos, and then plans start at $2.49/month for additional storage. Photos smaller than 2048×2048 pix (Google+ users only) or 800×800 pix and videos less than 15 minutes in length do not count toward storage limit. Photos uploaded beyond the storage limit will automatically be resized. Smug Mug has free search options, but then they become a subscription hosting site. The costs range from $40 a year for the standard service all the way up to the pro service at $150 a year. Its 315,000+ subscribers enjoy unlimited storage, 12 MB per photo for the standard and power subscribers, and 24 MB per photo for the pros. There is owner control over the download of original resolution image. The other reason one might wish to download photos to an internet site is for the social networking advantages. There are hundreds of social networking sites supporting a wide variety of interests. These include photo buffs and photographers. There are several significant photography social networking sites: Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Flickr has open registration accessed through a Yahoo email account. Flickr offers their 51,000,000+ users a 300MB monthly upload limit (15MB per photo), with a max of 200 images viewable (free account). If a free account is inactive for 90 consecutive days, it will be deleted. Facebook is so popular and widely used that it is said if Facebook was a country, it would be the fourth largest country in the world. This free social networking site offers photo sharing as long as the photos do not exceed 4MB each. The photos can appear individually or in albums to be shared with “friends” and others. Photos uploaded to Facebook could potentially be viewed by thousands of people. Twitter started out as a blogging website but has quickly grown into a social messaging platform and one of the top social networks in the world. It boasts over 250,000,000 users. Many photographers think of Twitter as an indispensable tool in the promotion of their photos and their businesses. While Twitter takes work to get your photo sharing going, once a photographer hits the 100 followers mark, then typically his work will be seen by thousands, sometimes even “going viral” because of the “re-tweeting” which often occurs. As one blogger, James Brandon, puts it, “Twitter is a marketing machine for your business and for your brand. Through hard work, research and dedication, you can build up an audience of hundreds (eventually thousands) of people to market to at any time you choose. If you get connected with the right people, the numbers begin to multiply dramatically.” Instagram is a free application from the Apple App Store for your cell phone. As their website explains, “Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever. We’re building Instagram to allow you to experience moments in your friends’ lives through pictures as they happen. We imagine a world more connected through photos”. The filters that Instagram offer will take your mobile photos and transform them to professional looking snapshots. They also share the photos on multiple services, so that is a plus. The uploading process is fast and efficient.
  2. Once you have determined what your purpose is for uploading, either an online web album or a social networking experience, then the next step is to download the photos to your computer. Use the instructions earlier in this chapter to help you with that process.
  3. After you have downloaded the photos, put a title on your file and pick an online service. You will typically have to create an account, choose a username, and a password. This is standard operating procedure for these sites.
  4. Click “upload” and follow the prompts. You will be allowed to select the photos for uploading. Also, you will be prompted to create a caption for your photos.
  5. Depending on the site you choose you might be offered the option of joining groups, as well as following friends and sharing your photos. Typically you can make “albums”
    or “sets”. Sometimes you can make “collections” which are multiple “sets”.
  6. If you decide at first to use an online album storing site, you are not locked into that decision forever. The online album storage sites mentioned above have all jumped onto the social networking bandwagon, after the fact. They all now typically offer a Facebook button, a Twitter button, and an email button which will instantly upload your already archived photos to the site you click.

It really is that easy and that amazing. To think that in just a few short decades we have gone from taking fuzzy black-and-whites with a Brownie camera all the way to snapping photos with our phones and uploading them instantly to the world is a remarkable idea, indeed. The key is organization and purpose! I am sure if you follow these simple steps your photos will forever be a source of joy and connection with others rather than a headache and a burden. As Pulitzer prize-winning author Eudora Welty puts it, “A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.” Enjoy and embrace every one of those moments.

 

 

 

digital

 

May is National Photography Month, and we celebrate this fantastic art form by displaying and treasuring the photos that emerge from our cameras.

Last time we looked at a method for sorting our hard copy photos and then mounting them in photo albums.

Today we look at the coolest trend for two decades and counting, digital photography!

Digital Photos

Of course digital photos are extremely popular, and organizing your photos on your computer is much easier and faster. In recent years more and more people have moved away from film cameras and converted over to digital cameras.

The benefits of the digital format are numerous. These benefits include

  • less cost
  • a huge amount of space on your camera removable disc or card for numerous pictures without worrying about whether they “come out alright” or not
  • and the safety of the actual picture. This safety net is due to your photo being loaded onto the computer and less subject to flood or fire, like a photo album would be.

 

Here are the steps to loading and organizing your digital photos into your computer:

1. After you have taken the photos you want, connect your camera to your computer using the USB cable provided with the camera.

2. Some software (usually provided by your operating system) will cause windows to pop up with questions and prompts. Your digital camera might also come with software to load on to your computer, if you desire.

3. As you follow the prompts you will be asked to create a “folder”. This step could be prompted before you download the photos, or it could happen simultaneously with the download. This computer folder that you are creating is like the manila envelopes that I mentioned earlier in this chapter in which you would place your photos as you sort and organize them.

4. When you are creating the folder the software will ask you to give a title to your folder. This should be very descriptive of the photos in that folder. For example: “Summer vacation 2012”, or “Uncle Jonny’s wedding”. Most software will automatically date the folder, but if yours does not, then you need to include a date in the name of the folder.

5. With most software, at some point in the process a button will become visible which will prompt you to click it to import the pictures

6. Then the software will begin copying the photos from your camera via the cable you hooked up and placing them in the folder you created. You will see a “progress bar” display on your screen which will show you how the download is progressing.

7. After you have downloaded the pictures unplug your camera from the computer. You are now free to go view the photos you downloaded. Go to the folder location on your computer and open the folder and view.

8. You can organize your numerous photo folders by date, alphabetically, by event, or many other options. This is an important step in the process, for without a good organizational method, your photos will be difficult to locate. A friend of mine did not have a method of organizing his digital photos when he first started downloading and filing his pictures. He downloaded his pictures into folders that he just named with the date of the picture. He had not included the event or the occasion of the photos in his title. Years of using that method has left his picture files without meaningful organization, and he is left with folders named only with dates. Later in his organizational life, it became apparent to him that he needed to title his photo folders with more meaningful names that were descriptive of the occasion or event. He has begun doing that very thing, and now his photo files are beautifully organized with descriptive names and dates.

9. It does no good to organize and save your digital photos in this fashion if your computer crashes and you lose all the data on it. So, make sure you have a backup of your files. This could be done by a drive attached to your computer, or via a commercial backup service on the internet which charges a monthly fee to back up your data. I just bought my own back-up drive from Best Buy for $88. It automatically backs up my files and photos every day and stores them in a safe location.

 

Next time: Scanning and uploading digital photos to websites for display and storage

 

photography

 

May is National Photography month, and I, for one, love all things photography! The bugaboo about photography is how to organize all those wonderful photos that result from this passion and art form.

Photographs of our family, friends, and past are probably the most treasured items in our homes, and yet they are the most disorganized, abused and inaccessible items we own. Our drawers contain strewn photos dated two years back, countless negatives, and rolls of undeveloped film taken last Christmas. Keeping up with the organizing of photos can be a real bother, but oh, the joy they bring when you can bring them out and show off your family to all your friends! Collecting, organizing, and displaying photos can be a lot of fun. The real problem I have found is not the photos, but simply the method we use to deal with their accumulation. The very best way to organize your photos is to insert them immediately into a photo book. It is easier to organize 24 than 124. However, if you have a lot of photos that are presently unorganized, here are some tips.

Sorting

The first step to organizing your photos is sorting them. This will take some time, but the peace of mind you receive will be worth it. If you have an enormous amount of photos, sort them by using large manila envelopes. You may have one envelope for each child, one for each home you have lived in, or one for each year of your life. You could also divide the envelopes according to subject (your child’s first birthday, Christmas 2010, etc.) Choose your own method of division. Most people file their pictures chronologically. They like their trips and activities laid out as they happened. As you are sorting, be sure to toss out unwanted pictures and bad-quality photos. The duplicate pictures you do not want can be sent to friends and relatives. The second step is to go through each envelope and label each picture on the back with a brief description and the year. Then place them back in the envelope. When you
have finished this step, you are not through organizing, but if you have to leave the task for later, at least you will have them sorted. If you find more pictures in one of your drawers, you can file them immediately in the correct envelopes.

 Photo Albums

Next, you must decide what type of album you desire. Some people prefer large albums that come with corner tabs for the photos. Others prefer the stick-on types with the plastic covers. The most expensive ones have the plastic sheets that have several different sizes of pockets into which you can slip photos. Which type you choose is up to you. Take each envelope and put your pictures into the appropriate album. Write under the picture who and what it is and the date.  If you ever find yourself with a few minutes to spare at home, you can choose an envelope and begin organizing. If you divide this huge goal into bite-sized steps you can accomplish the organization of photos without even trying. Creative Memories™ is a class you can take that teaches you how to creatively organize and display all your wonderful photos in albums. However you choose to organize your photos, you will be much happier if you make a habit of filing them in photo books immediately after they are developed. That way they will not accumulate and become clutter.

Next time:  More tips on organizing photos, especially digital snapshots!

IMG_2525 bull mountain overlook

 

It’s always an adventure when you are talking about Sue and her daily walk with the Lord!

In this chapter we read how Sue finds out that God truly does care where you live.  Sue’s desire to live in the country, out of the fray of city life, is met with an amazing story of God’s provision and care, right down to the smallest detail!

Read the new chapter here!



What an absolute delight this man was to work with.  This Wells Fargo Manager from Chicago hired me to fly to Chicago to organize his professional and home office. He didn’t have that much clutter, but he didn’t have a system. And that’s why he was frustrated working from home.

In this chapter we follow Sue on new adventures with expansion of her organizing business into the corporate world. When a huge opportunity comes her way she jumps at the chance to work in California and dovetail other jobs and a seminar into her itinerary. But, these hopes and plans are dashed when the company she has been hired to organize has bad news. Read this exciting chapter of hopes dashed and faith engaged.

Read the new installment here!

Sue’s story continues as we see her take a giant leap ~~ the leap from organizing people’s homes to organizing corporations!

After seven years of organizing homes the opportunity came to make that huge step into the corporate world.  It started small and then continued to grow into a business that has organized offices and corporations in 46 states and Canada.

As Sue puts it, “What a ride! I never dreamed that I could actually speak in corporations, excite people, help them to help themselves, and make excellent money.”

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” —I Corinthians 2:9

Read the new installment here!

Kudos to The Inspired Room for some great ideas and pictures for spring organizing. It’s really true that one picture can be worth a thousand words, so let’s get on to those pictures!

Closet organization (picture #1 below). Notice the clever way this person used the plastic see-through shoe pockets. What a great way to use an organizational product for something other than what it was intended. Can you think up other ways to use these shoe pockets?

The organized mudroom (picture #6 below). I have found that the entrance way from the garage into the home is usually a real problem for families. The use of baskets is not only smart but small and compact and works beautifully housing mittens, hats, gloves, scarves and other outerwear. The only problem is that it seems too high for the average kid to reach. As usual, Mom to the rescue!

Wrapper station (picture #8 below). Again, this mom creatively re-purposed an organizing product into a nifty solution for storing her wrapping supplies. How smart is that!

To view these three fabulous solutions in greater detail, plus eight more,  just click on the image below! You’ll be glad you discovered The Inspired Room.

 

The Inspired Room

 

pray12Sue’s story continues as we witness the power of prayer in Sue’s life and business.

As Sue puts it, …”As a result of praying and seeing God provide miraculously through the years, I began to grow bold in my prayer life. Whether it was my overenthusiastic imagination or God’s call to a deeper walk of faith, I’m not sure, but I decided to let down the barriers and ask him for my “impossible dream.”

Read here to enjoy this segment of Sue’s story of faith and prayer in her business.

Manage your life, conceptual words on blackboard.

Part 2

~My Take on the Verse~

2 Peter 1:3-8 says that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through His promises. As we participate in His divine nature (His character) and appropriate His character into our spirits, these characteristics will enhance our productivity and effectiveness.

WOW! Now that is an answer to our life management issues!

What are those characteristics of Christ that will help us to manage our life more effectively? Peter lists seven of these characteristics. Let’s take a look at three of them.

Excellence--This Greek word means virtue or the fulfillment of a thing. When we are showing excellence, we are fulfilling our purpose in life. I believe that the Lord created each individual with a divine calling or purpose. When we find that purpose and operate in it, whether it is being a rancher, banker, pilot, mother, nurse, secretary, we are operating in excellence. When a company knows its core purpose and focuses on that purpose and doesn’t get distracted by too many initiatives, it is operating in its purpose or vision. It is expressing excellence.

When I discovered my purpose, which is bringing order to my clients’ offices, homes and lives, my life immediately became more efficient and effective, thus excellent.

Self-control-- This is another word for organized. There is proverb in the Bible that says, “He that has no rule (self-control) over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls” (Proverbs 25:28). What does that have to do with managing our lives? In the Old Testament days of Israel and also during the eras of monarchies that reigned in England and Europe, many cities had walls around them to protect them from thieves, marauders and enemy armies. If those walls were broken down in any place, these enemies had access to the city, thus the people were insecure and vulnerable. If our spirits are unprotected, that is if they lack self-control, we become vulnerable to emotions and people and that will directly affect how we manage our time and life.

Let me give you an example: Let’s say that you pass by two people at the water fountain, and they discontinue talking until you pass. You might think that they are talking about you. If you are insecure in whom you are, you will falter and fume over what they might be saying, or worry and wonder why they are saying it. Precious time is wasted in worry and wondering about what they might be saying. This affects your time negatively. Worrying drains your energy and saps your time!
Being secure in whom you are means that you have proper self-control and can manage your emotions; you will not falter and fume, worry and wonder. You will acknowledge that they might be talking about you, and you will simply move on with your responsibilities.

Self-control allows you to walk in proper boundaries and helps you to contain your emotions, not allowing them to rule you but instead you ruling your emotions. This ultimately saves you time and reduces your stress.

Perseverance-- This trait is the ability to endure when circumstances are difficult. If our boss or co-worker is causing a problem in our life, no amount of time management solutions will answer our dilemma. We will need Christ’s character trait of perseverance to handle our problem. Perseverance is accepting a difficult situation without giving a deadline to remove it. It means to endure. Sometimes with our boss, co-workers or even our spouses, we just have to endure the circumstances in order for them to work out in the end.

Peter goes on to give three evidences as to the results of these spiritual qualities. These evidences are productivity, vision and confidence.

WOW-AGAIN!

In conclusion, as we develop in our spirits the character of Christ (excellence, self-control and perseverance) we will walk in productivity, vision and confidence. Walking in those values causes us to manage our life more effectively and efficiently.

When facing everyday problems, don’t focus on just solving the problem. Focus on what God wants to teach you. What are the precious promises that Peter is talking about? What nugget from God’s nature does He want you to increase in? When you answer those questions, the next time you are faced with another problem, you can stand up under it and endure until it is solved.

So all this points to the truth that behind every problem there is a provision! Every problem will reveal what characteristic of Christ that you need in order to properly relate to and handle your life. Once you embrace and integrate that characteristic into your being, your life will become more stable and orderly, more efficient and effective.

Click here to read part 1.

Manage your life, conceptual words on blackboard.

The Little-Known Secret to Managing Your Life:
What the Bible Has to Say about Life Management

Part I

How many Time Management classes have you taken during the course of your life? As a Professional Organizer since 1982, I have attended about 20 such classes, and they pretty much all say the same thing. They deal with priorities, planning, organizing your projects, knowing your purpose (vision), procrastination, and much more.

I come at time management from a slightly different angle. I believe that you can’t manage time. You can’t buy it, sell it, store it, save it, loan it, multiply it, change it, manufacture it, or rent it. You cannot physically catch it, nor can you harness it and make it your own. No one can really manage time. You can only spend it. Time management is really life management or self-management. You can’t manage your time, you can only manage yourself, and you can’t manage yourself until you discipline your spirit, mind and body. The way you spend your time determines how you live your life.

Most of us are doing time. We never seem to have enough time, yet we have all the time there is. I believe that we are very much like a tree. Abraham Lincoln put it this way. “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” To manage our lives, we focus way too much on the tree limbs and not the tree root. I like to deal with the root of what is causing us to mismanage our time instead of the tree limbs. Dealing with priorities, planning and projects (the tree limbs) are necessary, but if the tree root is unhealthy, then just dealing with the tree limbs is a waste of time.

Let’s go deeper by asking what does the tree root consist of? The root consists of our values and character and what lies at the depth of who we really are. These character qualities would be things like faith, self-control, perseverance, honesty, kindness, and more. If we operate in these qualities, it is amazing how our time-life management falls into place.

There is an interesting group of verses in the Bible that talk about this very thing. They are found in
2 Peter 1: 3-8. Let’s take a quick look at what Peter has to say about life management.

2 Peter 1: 3-8- By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.  In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness,  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.  The more you grow like this, the more productive and effective you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

~My Take on the Verse~

2 Peter 1:3-8 says that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through His promises. As we participate in His divine nature (His character) and appropriate His character into our spirits, these characteristics will enhance our productivity and effectiveness.

WOW! Now that is an answer to our life management issues!

*Come back Thursday for Part 2 as we explore three of the seven characteristics that Peter applauds:  Excellence, Self-control, and Perseverance!

Or why you don’t want to discover you have 119 eyeliners and you lose 57 bras.

A while back I read a great article by Mark Shead, a seasoned blogger, about organizing your desk. I’ve picked 3 of his 12 tips that point to critical organizing maxims, truths that transcend the specifics of our desks and speak to wider issues in our offices and homes.

“1. Get rid of pens and pencils you don’t need. I have one type of pen I like to use, but every month or so my pencil holder gets filled up with other random writing instruments. If you aren’t going to use it, don’t feel bad about throwing it out. It is just clutter. The less clutter you have, the closer you are to having an organized desk.”

I once organized an office in the DC area and the man had 87 pens in his desk! Who needs 87 pens? But pens aren’t the only culprit. One man at the USDA had two drawers filled with napkins. One gal at Kodak had 11 glue sticks. A lobbyist in DC had 119 eyeliners in her bedroom dresser. I guess you never know when you may need a good eyeliner! And how about this bedroom closet decluttering surprise: the discovery of 57 lost bras.

Bottom line: Eliminate and consolidate or you will accumulate! We have too much stuff. So much stuff it’s blocking out light and air. And it’s not just the light and air, accumulation of stuff translates higher supply costs – $100 per year per employee. And the cost of those 57 bras — who can guess!

“6. Scanning documents. This is something I’m experimenting with. I have a scanner and I’ll turn important documents into PDFs and keep them on my computer. I use OCR so the documents are searchable. This is wonderful if you travel a lot because it keeps everything right there with you. The problem is trying to figure out what to scan and what can just be filed. If you are good at guessing what you’ll want to have electronically this can work very well. I haven’t figured out how accurate I am just yet. Keeping papers off your desk is an important part of desk organization.”

Sounds good, right? Two things to keep in mind that the scanner companies don’t tell you. First, your scanner can’t tell you which documents to scan. You might be scanning clutter into your computer! Second, your scanner can’t tell you where to store that image. Putting 100 or 1000 images of digital documents into digital folders can create its own nightmare when it comes to finding a specific document.

Bottom line: you need a personalized file-mapping system — an organizational structure for your paper and digital files, plus your emails, that mirrors your work processes. The system I teach is called FileMap® which allows you to find any file is 15 seconds or less!

“12. Organize as you go. As we discussed the Iron Chef Fable, it is more efficient to stay organized as you work instead of trying to do it all at the end. You should be constantly working on keeping your desk neat. If it gets disorganized in the middle of a big project, take small steps. Clear a 1 foot by 1 foot area before you leave for the day. Making a small effort toward organization may not seem like much, but if you do it everyday, it will keep things headed in the right direction for you.”

I call this step maintenance.  Here’s a simple rule-of-thumb for maintaining the order in your office. For every hour that you work, spend one minute maintaining or organizing as you go. Then, 4x a year, spend a whole day just going through all the stuff you have accumulated.

Bottom line: It only takes a small amount of consistent effort each day to maintain the organization of a desk, office, kitchen, bedroom closet or garage.

Here is a fabulous letter that I just received from a very happy client:

“After 30 years of collecting file after file, with stacks of papers everywhere in my home office and elsewhere, and books everywhere, I desperately needed help getting organized and focused.

That’s where Sue was a miracle worker! With the help of virtual organizing using pictures and computer and FaceTime, she came in with direct, simple, but extremely helpful ideas that helped me so much!

First she guided me through the categorization of all my files which I then implemented and purged the unnecessary. Beautiful!

Finally we took all my many stacks of loose papers and organized them into just three stackable paper holders that leads to clarity and positive action. Great!

Then I went through books and cleared out the lesser ones to focus on my best ones. Sue is excellent at what she does and I found her assistance in getting my office organized invaluable.

I enthusiastically commend her to you!

Andy Farina
Navigators, Staff & Personal Trainer”

~

Read more about more about Virtual Organizing.

Once in a while I hear something that makes me think of the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy’s traveling companions. They truly wanted to help Dorothy, but each of them thought they were lacking in something essential. Lion wanted nerve. Scarecrow a brain. Tin Man desired a heart. And they sang a similar chorus, “If I only had…”

Today, there’s no wizard to find, no flying monkeys to avoid, no witch to defeat. But I still hear a chorus of ifs that are just as troubling.

OK, I can hear some of you now. “Sue, hold on a sec! What in the world does the Wizard of Oz have to do with being organized?”

“If I only had more space!” says the mom.

“If I only had more time!” adds the dad.

“If we only had more money!” cries the kids.

Believe it or not, in more than three decades of organizing homes and offices across the country, I have never found any of my clients who genuinely had lack of space or time or money.  Don’t misunderstand me. I hear clients say this all the time and many of them believe it is true. “If I only had…” is a built-in mindset of the human condition, isn’t it?

It isn’t easy for any of us to face the seemingly stark reality of our personal situations, that the root cause of our inability to manage our lives lies squarely within ourselves — in that guy or gal we look at in the mirror each day. Just like with Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man. And Dorothy, too. Remember the ruby slippers? The ability to go home had been within her power and on her own two feet ever since her house set down on the Wicked Witch of the East.

New Year’s approaching and it’s a great time to face yourself in the mirror and change your thinking. Stop saying, “if only…” and start saying “with only…”

  • With only a little bit of space, you can organize a closet using every wall surface to it’s fullest potential with hooks for hanging and installing more shelving.
  • With only a little bit of time, you can organize your kitchen or desk by setting aside 15 minutes a day and in two weeks it’s done.
  • With only a little bit of money, you can organize a whole house. I once decluttered and organized a four-bedroom home in Utah using only $55 of boxes and containers.

It’s not the lack of space, time or money that’s our enemy, it’s how we think about what we already have. So transform your thinking from “If only…” to “With only…” and just imagine what you can accomplish!

Have a merry Christmas. I hope to hear your success stories in the New Year.

Thanksgiving

Here we are, two days away from Thanksgiving 2014! Where did this year go? As you have no doubt experienced, time is quickly draining out of the hourglass marked 2014. With that in mind, let’s talk turkey about Thanksgiving and its meanings and traditions.

I talk alot about time and the efficient use of it. The very best use of time is to invest it. One great way to wisely invest your time is by creating lasting family traditions.

And now, with Thanksgiving approaching, one long-standing tradition for most Americans comes easily to mind: a beautiful dinner table laden with delicious traditional foods and surrounded by dear family and friends. Thanksgiving, of all the holidays, is one of the most family-oriented and least commercialized holiday, and for that I am thankful!

Smiles and laughter balanced with reflection and celebration. The perfect combo. This Thanksgiving marks 151 Thanksgivings that we have celebrated as a nation. And we’ve never missed a single one!

On a personal level, my Thanksgiving traditions have taken on new life as of late. In 2007, I discovered my biological family who all live in Kentucky. All of them live far away except for one first cousin who lives down the road in Westcliffe, Colorado. My new tradition is that I go to their home for Thanksgiving, and as a special treat, we go into the national forest, usually in deep snow and cut down their Christmas tree.

 

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We load it on the truck and bring it home for the Christmas holidays.

 

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Now that is one cool tradition that I absolutely love!

 

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If you need some fresh ideas on starting your own fun and inspirational family traditions, try these websites to jump start your imagination:

1. Start a Family Tradition! “8 wonderful ways to create family memories, beginning in your baby’s first year.” (by Sascha Zuger at parenting.com)

2. The importance of family traditions. “As families become more fragmented and disconnected, there is less time and opportunity to enjoy the simple traditions that were once a natural part of family life.” (by Karen Banes at Hubpages)

3. Meaningful Family Traditions Strengthen Family “Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.”- Susan Lieberman

Have any great ideas that you have used and are worth sharing. Let me know!

And have a fabulous Thanksgiving.

time

In Part 1  and Part 2 of this series I provided significant quotes and thoughts from my books about time.

In this final segment of the series, I leave you with two more timely quotes:

  • “You might say, “I don’t have enough time!” But I say, “You have all the time there is.” 

Are you thinking from a misplaced paradigm? Are you thinking, “I don’t have enough time”? If so, look at that statement from another perspective and begin to realize that you have all the time there is.  When you see time from that perspective, it changes everything, and you begin managing your time based on another paradigm. All of a sudden, time takes on a whole new meaning, which in turn affects how you spend your time and handle your schedule.

Time management is a misnomer. You can’t manage time. You can only manage the events of your life or your priorities. You can’t save time or enhance time; you can’t buy it, sell it, store it, loan it, multiply it, change it, manufacture it, or rent it. You can only spend time.

Realize that you have all the time you need to accomplish what God created you to accomplish. After all, He’s the creator of you and your day. He not only orchestrates the dance of the planets, the stars, and the cosmos, but He is intricately interested in your every day. He is the originator of time, and He can guide you best in the most productive use of your time. As you respond to His timetable, projects begin to get done in record time. Why? Because you are doing His projects His way, not just doing activities that produce nothing. –If I file it, can I find it?

 

  •  And finally regarding the wonderful benefit of organization~~ You will have time to spare:

“E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web, once said, ‘One of the most time-consuming things is to have an enemy.’ Viewing disorder and disarray as enemies to be defeated will serve us greatly in our battle. When the battle rages and we win the war against disorganization, one of the great benefits is that we have much more time—time to do cool things with our kids. Isn’t that what the essence of family is all about? Time spent with kids and family is our most precious commodity, and we always desire more of it. Who among you have ever lamented, “Oh, if only I had a few more hours in the day!” Well, one wonderful result of organization is that this can become a reality. You can have “time to spare.” ~Organized

Enjoy your spare time today as you pursue all that your day holds.

And remember, I can come alongside you to help you in your organization. Let’s gain that spare time you so richly deserve.

Contact me for ideas and we can also work virtually using your computer, pictures and FaceTime. Let’s do this!

time4

 

Time ~ The Fourth Dimension ~ Part 2

In part 1 of this series, I gave you three indicators of effective time management.

Now, let’s turn our attention to three concepts about time:

  •  Concerning a mistaken belief that some people have

“Why are so many people disorganized? Good question! If order and organization are so wonderful, why don’t more people practice these principles?

Disorder actually occurs in epidemic proportions. It is a rampant fact of life.

Some folks would say that they are disorganized because they have no time. Little do they realize that their lack of organization is costing them much more time than the time it would take to organize.” (Organized)

  •  On the subject of gaining time at work:

“You will gain ½ -1 hour of time each day simply because you are no longer going through your work to get to your work.

No longer hunting for your work, it will be accessible and easy to find.” ~ If IFile It, Can I Find It?

  • In regards to taking time for yourself:

“When you plan a block of time each day and each week for yourself, you are caring for yourself and others directly. The time you allot for yourself does not have to be rigid; just try to give yourself some free time each day and week. It is healthy.

Your mind will be free to dream and create and your body will be refreshed with new energy.

You may ask, “How can I possibly give up an hour a day, one day a week, and exercise, rest, and eat right?” Again, you must see that time for yourself is important.

There are four main areas that will be affected positively as you accomplish these objectives: your health, your family, your outside activities and your relationships.” ~ Organized

 

clockThis past weekend Americans set their clocks back one hour as we ended Daylight Saving Time; many look at this as getting that one extra hour of sleep that they crave. It’s interesting to note that the idea of daylight saving was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1784. The main purpose of Daylight Saving Time is to utilize the daylight better. We change our clocks during the summer months to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening.

Denis Waitely, American author and keynote lecturer, is one of my favorite authors on time management.  I love his quote: “Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”

So just what is effective time management? Here are three indicators you are using time wisely.

  • You achieve your goals. “You must set aside some specific and significant portions of time, money and energy devoted to attaining your goal. Furthermore, it is important to set aside a little time and a few resources every single day. Do not wait for the large periods of time and money to devote to your larger goals as a family. Setting aside a little each day will help you move slowly and steadily towards the goal. In addition, it will help keep you focused on what you have decided is truly important.” (From Rubble to Reward)
  • You get organized. “Becoming organized has wonderful benefits. It brings a sense of stability and peace. Where there is order, there is peace; and real order liberates rather than confines… Accomplishments increase and all of a sudden you feel good about yourself. Your productivity on the job increases as does your sense of well-being and self-worth. Guilt subsides, along with procrastination and worry. Perhaps most importantly, you have more free time for you. The more efficient and effective you become, the easier things are to get done. Therefore, you have more time to pursue other goals and interests.” (Organized)
  • You complete tasks. “Do one thing at a time. This means that when you are working on a project, before starting another, put away the first project. If you fail to do this, your first project becomes a distraction. Finish fully what you start. Or, finish fully a segment of what you have started. For example, finish the paragraph of a report before starting another report, finish folding the laundry before starting supper. Ask yourself, “What is the best use of my time right now?” (Organized)

 

Now that the dust has settled…

In the last three installments we organized and tweaked the student desk, the backpack and the locker.

Today we will deal with the final place where disorder often reigns:  The Student Notebook

Stop Four: The Student Notebook

Has your student’s notebook already devolved into an overstuffed, disorderly mess in just this past month?

 

  •  Some students like to have a separate notebook for each class, but I feel that it is very advantageous to use just one binder for all their subjects as this will ensure that they have all the necessary material with them for whichever class they are attending.  If they have just one notebook with all their subjects they will not have to endure that sinking feeling that most students have experienced where they sit down in their class, look in their backpack and discover that they left their important homework and other class documents in their locker.
  • Hopefully, your student started out the school year organizing the notebook with index dividers. If not, consider this. These essential dividers come in every color of the rainbow, clear, or sprinkled with graphics. These dividers will separate their subjects with ease. Dividers come with handy little tabs that perfectly fit into the window separator. Label each divider with the class the student is registered for. You may even want to put them in order of the classes’ times, from earliest to latest, as they progress through the notebook in a school day.
  • Another must-have for the notebook, if you don’t already have one, is a zippered notebook pouch. This three-holed pouch securely holds calculator, pens, ruler, compass, and protractor.
  • Some schools provide an academic planner for their students. If you have not already done so, place this behind the zippered pouch. If it is not three-hole punched, do it yourself with your hole puncher.
  • Of course, you need make sure your student has plenty of loose-leaf paper to place between the dividers.

Encourage your student to maintain their organizational system with their papers and notebook. After each class encourage them to take a moment to replace their papers into the proper division, and keep their system intact.  This step only takes a moment, but the benefits of keeping their papers and homework organized in their binder are legion.

As a teacher for 25 years, I could always tell the students that had their notebooks organized.  They would walk into class with a smile, sit down, open their notebooks, and pull out their beautifully organized homework ready to turn in at the beginning of class.  They had learned the benefits of organization early, and they would be successful, I felt, as they continued on into college where organization was an absolutely essential element to success.

So, as a parent you can help your student and guide them in these essential exercises of applying organization to their desks, their backpacks, their lockers and their notebook binders.  They may push back a bit or argue that they don’t need these tips, but with a little love and encouragement you can insist that they apply these principles to their domain.  Their academic life will benefit greatly, I guarantee it!

 

 

Tax Day Ahead

Everyone is familiar with Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote,  “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.”

That inevitable date with the tax man has arrived. For many, this year was another year of burdensome and time-consuming tax filing and next year looks to be more of the same. And a cursory search of the web, littered with competing and comprehensive step-by-step articles on how to organize your tax forms, reinforces this notion.

The good news? You have 365 days to get ready for next year’s date!

Even better news? Two simple but powerful organizing principles can help you eliminate nearly all of the stress in finding and organizing your tax records for a timely filing for next year.

First and foremost:
“A place for everything, and everything in its place”

One of the guiding principles I teach and live by is to assign a place for everything, and this certainly applies to financial records, receipts and invoice, both paper and electronic.

This relieves stress in your daily life. I am a firm believer that it can be as simple as an expandable file folder, a spreadsheet program like Excel, or a tax-specific program like Turbo Tax.

Believe it or not, tossing your receipts and records into an old fashioned shoebox just might suffice! Really? Yes, because you know exactly where all of your paper tax records are located. Of course, a file drawer with multiple hanging folders would be effective, as well.

Now that you’ve have established a predetermined place for your tax records, you need to establish a time schedule.

Second and foremost:
“There’s no time like the present”

The second guiding principle that I teach and live by is there’s no time like the present. Procrastination is an insidious monster that robs us of many things, including peace, time and order.

Here’s one simple question that will help you frame your tax preparation schedule: Do I want to spend more time at the front-end of the record-keeping process as income and expenses occur, or do I want to spend more time at year-end and process it all at once?

Front end. Start setting up your filing system on January 1, and doing a bi-weekly filing of all your tax data into your system, whether paper or electronic, grouping your records in income and expense categories by month. This will mean that you are accomplishing all the record tracking throughout the year, and when tax-filing season is upon you, your filing will actually be quick and easy.

Year-end. This means that all the time-consuming work of organizing and filing will come as you approach April and your date with the Tax Man. But, since all of your data is in one predetermined, centralized container, such as the proverbial shoebox, you won’t waste any time looking for receipts or wondering if you have everything you need.

Want to read more and see how organizing taxes looks in real life? Read this tax preparation case study where we give kudos to two savvy and organized taxpayers.

When all is said and done

Expanding on Ben Franklin’s quote, Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone with the Wind, once quipped, “Death and taxes and childbirth. There’s never a convenient time for any of them.”

All the more reason to do a little planning and a little scheduling. Be a savvy tax organizer. As the shoe and clothing giant Nike reminds us, “Just do it!”

~ A note from Sue ~

I can help you to “virtually” organize any space in your office or home simply by using your cell phone, camera, and computer. Give me at call at 719-495-7626 or email me at Sue@withtimetospare.com. I will tell you how for a minimal charge I can help you to organize those frustrating areas.