Lose 30 Pounds in a Day!

Organizing.Donations

Lose 30 pounds in a day! Most of us could do it. Maybe even more. All it takes is time, honesty, and a little ruthlessness. I helped two clients do it last month. In fact, they each had more than five garbage bags of clothes to donate when we were done. Oh, did I fail to mention I was referring to 30 pounds of clothes?
 
How many times do you enter your closet and think, “I don’t have anything to wear,” while the closet rod is sagging under the weight of all your clothes? I’m convinced that in those cases, we don’t need more, we need less. What if you were able to walk into your closet knowing you enjoy wearing everything—it fits you well, it’s the style you like, and it looks good on you?
 
You CAN have a closet like that! Check out today's Timely Tips for clothes purging and organizing ideas. 

TIMELY TIPS - to get your closet in shape!

Closet.organizing.jpg
closet.organizing.jpg

Schedule a time - Block out 3-6 hours depending on the size of your closet. Schedule breaks so you don’t have a melt-down before finishing. Plan a reward (other than shopping) to enjoy at the end of the day.  
 
Catch up on your laundry before you start so you’re not missing anything in the process.

Purchase matching hangers. I prefer the slim-line velvet hanger for most tops. T-shirts and frequently worn sweatshirts work best on the slim-line plastic finish. The open-ended hangers for pants are great—so easy to use!

Make sure your closet has adequate light. If your bulbs are dim, it can lower your mood and make choosing what to wear in the morning more of a chore. If it’s not a walk-in closet, and didn’t come with a light, install a battery-operated stick-on light.
 
Plan categories for the clothing you keep. Sort by type (pants, shirts, jackets, dresses), use (work, casual, dressy, workout), color, or season. I prefer by type and color to make them easy to retrieve.
 
Clear the closet floor of other items such as shoes, purses, bags of purse contents, etc. Save the purging process of these for another day, but get them out of the way, so you can easily move in and out of the closet.

Make your bed to use as a staging area. Pull out all your clothes (off the closet rod, floor, chairs, etc.) and lay them in piles on the bed. Use a sheet on the floor for the overflow, if needed.
 
Pick up one item at a time. Be honest and ruthless. Most of us are equipped with excellent rationalizing skills that can sabotage the purging process. You’re on a treasure hunt for only the items you’ll be anxious to wear. If it’s something you love and wear regularly, it gets an automatic pass back to the closet.
 
Hang your keepers backwards. As you’re re-hanging your treasures, use the most accessible area of the closet for the clothes you use most. Hang them in your predetermined categories with the hangers facing backwards. After an item is worn, you may hang it the right way. This will help you identify clothing you thought you wanted, but never wear, because they’ll still be hanging backwards at the end of the season.
 
Beware of faulty reasoning. As you continue the purge, don't succumb to, "But it still has the tags on it!" Apparently, that means you aren’t wearing it. Even if it was expensive, it’s not adding value to your life by taking up space in your closet, and someone else could get good use out of it. Donate or consign it.
 
Not your size? Limit the number of items you keep in a size that you’re planning to wear again, but not fitting into presently. Place a few favorites of that size(s) in a bin and put them under the bed or on a shelf, so they’re not mixed with your current size. 
 
Needs repair? Place items you love, but need repair, in a bag or bin. Give yourself one month to get it done. Whatever’s left at the end of the month, goes. Clothing, even items beyond repair, can be dropped off at H&M clothing store for repurposing/recycling.
 
Try them on! You’ll probably run into items that you’re just not sure about. Don’t just ponder them on the hanger, try them on. Then ask yourself, would you buy it again if you were trying it on in the store? Would you be happy to wear it the rest of the day, or out that evening? Remember, you’re on a treasure hunt.
 
Identify your preferences. Look at the items you’ve already returned to the closet. What makes them treasures—style, color, fit, easy maintenance? Identifying what you love about them will help as you filter through the rest of your clothing.
 
Bag and label the donate/sell piles. Send them to their final destination. Enjoy your predetermined reward, and relish in the joy of waking up to a wardrobe you love!

Comical Words
I like my money right where I can see it: hanging in my closet. -Carrie Bradshaw

A Common Find

organizing.papers

The other day I lifted out the final stack of paper from a box we were working through and there it was… Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern. My client had a sheepish grin on her face. Organizing books are a common find in my clients’ homes and offices. There’s some great information out there and today I’d like to share my top three favorites (in no particular order), what they have to offer, and how you can get the most out of them.

TIMELY TIPS - book reviews

 

Organizing From the Inside Out by, Julie Morgenstern
One of the cool things that gives credence to this book is that Morgenstern now has an organizing empire, but she wasn't born naturally organized. Her whole premise is that if she could learn to be organized, so can you! The book has four parts including perspectives on organizing and how to create a plan. She goes into detail about how to organize every room in your house, office, and even car. The book ends with a section on time and technology.

I love the charts, bullets, and extras like “Insider Tips.” It’s very comprehensive and user-friendly. Once you’ve read parts one and two, you can pick an area or room you want to start with and go straight to that chapter. Morgenstern’s advice on where to start, “Pick the space you either spend the majority of your time in, find the most irritating in terms of clutter, or that’s keeping you from reaching your personal or professional goals.”

 

Organizing for the Creative Person by Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Delores Cotter Lamping, C.S.W.
If you’re creative and find getting and/or staying organized a challenge, this book's for you! Chapter titles include “Creative Ways to Schedule Your Work,” “To Keep or Not to Keep,” and “Plowing a Path Through Personal Papers.” The book is full of relatable real-life examples. Each chapter ends with a list of the most important points. So helpful!

Lamping’s experience as a psychotherapist brings insight into the challenges we face, “We repeatedly tell ourselves we’ll ‘get around to it soon,’ though we know full well that we’ll always be able to think of something better to do.” Their practical strategies help those who resist conventional organizing. More words of wisdom from their book-- “Clutter expands to fill the areas allowed for its reception,” and "the fewer items you have, the less time it will take you to manage them.”

 

It's All Too Much by, Peter Walsh
Peter Walsh says, “This book is for people who are overwhelmed, trapped, suffocating beneath their stuff. This book is for people who think cleaning up is a waste of time, but spend whole weeks of their lives looking for their keys.” While practical and applicable, Walsh’s book also speaks to the emotional aspect of organizing. Part One helps you evaluate your circumstances, set priorities, and cast vision. “As soon as you calculate the cost of clutter, you’ll realize that it’s not worth holding on to things… because of what they’re worth. Remember to think in terms of the life you want to live and the vision you have for your home,” says Walsh.

Part Two is straight talk, with a little humor, on how to get it done. “I have never been able to understand the urge to cover a bedroom floor with yesterday’s socks, underwear, and jeans. Consider what you want from your bedroom and then ask yourself if dirty clothes on the floor are part of that plan. I didn’t think so,” writes Walsh. For each area he outlines organizing strategies and provides helpful “Reality Checks.”

You might remember Walsh from his TLC hit series Clean Sweep. My claim to fame was when he sat next to me in a workshop at a National Association of Professional Organizers conference! Despite his success, he’s a very down to earth person. I love his book, but I must admit, I’m a bit more gentle with my clients than he was on his show.
It's All Too Much Workbook
It's All Too Much DVD version available for purchase on YouTube

MAKE IT HAPPEN!

MAKE IT HAPPEN with small group conference calls!

Do you need an extra boost to put into practice what you read? I'm offering four one-hour small group conference calls that will provide just the right amount of support, accountability, and guidance to keep you on task. This is a nonjudgemental zone where you can freely share and be challenged and encouraged to persevere and see results. We'll use the It's All Too Much Workbook as our text with the following schedule (every other Tuesday evening 7-8 pm PST):

Session 1 (April 18) Setting the Stage (Chapters 1-3)
Session 2 (May 2) You Pick One Area (from Chapters 4-7)
Session 3 (May 16) You Pick One Area (from Chapters 8-12)
Session 4 (May 30) Sustaining Your Success (Chapters 13-16)

To Participate:

  • Email info@organizedbychoice or call 559-871-3314 for more info and registration
  • Payment due by April 1st (Cost: $65 for the four sessions)
  • Purchase your own It's All Too Much Workbook
  • Work through chapters 1-3 prior to Session 1 - April 18th

Limited space available

wise words

Theory is splendid but until put into practice, it is valueless. -James Cash Penney

I would love you for you to join me (and Peter by book) for the MAKE IT HAPPEN Conference Calls! If that doesn't work out, before you get on Amazon and order an organizing book, consider if you’re willing to schedule time to read and apply its contents. Otherwise, when it arrives on your doorstep, you might as well put it at the bottom of a box of papers and call me! ( ;

Taxes-- Too Easy?

I discovered parchment paper! How did I not know about this for so long?? It’s not like I just started baking last year. For years I’ve pried stuck-on cookies off baking sheets, and had to soak them before washing. What a discovery parchment paper was! My baked goods slide right off the pan and leave nary a crumb. 

Sometimes a simple fix can make all the difference in our ability or enjoyment of a task. Not all of us are bakers, but all of us are tax payers. I’m not proposing that we can “enjoy” preparing our taxes, but I can help take the dread out of it.

Last year I set up a tax document system for a client. This month as we prepared her paperwork, she commented, “That was too easy!” It made her a little nervous, because it’s normally a more arduous task. Were we leaving something out? Nope! She just had the tools to make the task more manageable.
 
If you’re one of the many who find themselves in a panic trying to locate all the numbers and documents your accountant requires, check out the Timely Tips and next year your tax prep will be "too easy" too!

TIMELY TIPS - to make tax time too easy!

paper.organizing

Compile a List
Go to www.irs.com/articles/tax-form-checklist or use the itemized list your accountant requested for this year’s tax preparation. This is a starting point for knowing which documents you need to collect for next year’s taxes.

Double-check Deductions
Things change over time, so watch for new deductions you might qualify for. For example, if you have a rough year health-wise, you may qualify for a deduction for medical expenses (must surpass 10% of your adjusted gross income, unless self-employed). If you started a home business, you can deduct a portion of the cost of your utilities. Teachers who spend their own money on classroom materials (which is all the teachers I know), receive an above-the-line tax deduction for those expenses. Child care, relocating, cost of financial planning, these all have deductions for those who itemize and qualify. Check out this list at RealSimple.com for commonly overlooked deductionsAlways allow your accountant and/or legal counsel have the final say on your personal and business taxes.

Create a "Tax Records" Spreadsheet
On Sheet 1 list all your income sources-- W2s, investments, unemployment, Social Security, rentals, etc. Below those, list your income adjustments-- mortgage interest, IRA contributions, students loan interest, self-employed health insurance, etc. That's column one. In column two record the totals. These documents normally arrive in January following the tax year.

On Sheet 2 list your deductions-- charitable contributions/donations, childcare costs, business expenses, etc. Use column two for the totals. Use additional sheets for tabulating deductions that have multiple entries throughout the year. 

Use your "Tax Records" spreadsheet as a template, so you don't need to recreate it every year. "Save As" and label it Taxes 2017. Print it out, or manage it on the computer for easy calculations. 

Create "Tax Records" Files
Use your spreadsheet as a guide to create labeled folders for your tax documents. If you have minimal documents, you can keep it simple with three folders-- Income, Income Adjustments, and Deductions. Create additional folders as needed for categories with multiple documents like Medical Expenses, Contributions, etc. Store these in a file drawer, file tote, or digital file if you're going paperless. 

Execute! 
Determine to maintain your system by not allowing your tax documents to land anywhere but in the designated folders, filing immediately upon receipt. You may choose to record them on your spreadsheet as they arrive, or monthly, quarterly, etc. Create duplicate "to be recorded" folders if needed. At the end of 2017 your tax prep will be "too easy!" 

wise words

The best way to teach your kids about taxes is by eating 30% of their ice cream. -Bill Murray  (We all need a little humor during tax season!)

What's Stopping Us?

I’ve never been a huge fan of running. Doing something until I feel sick just isn’t appealing to me. None-the-less, I’ve done my share of running. In Junior High I competed in track. In High School, I was up at the crack of dawn running laps on the PG&E park next to our house. Why? Well, in Junior High I “ran” with an athletic crowd and so that’s just what we did. In High School, I did it for love. My boyfriend lived across the street and if I timed it right, we could see each other for a few minutes after my run and before he left in the morning. (For the rest of the story, read to the end)
 
My motivation was obviously more about relationships than a healthy body. At this point in life (beyond midway), working on a healthy body is… well, work! I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that way. Getting healthy, along with getting organized, are the two top New Year’s resolutions ("2017 New Year’s Resolutions: The Most Popular and How to Stick to Them,” by Nicole Spector, NBCNews.com). Most of us must resolve to do those things because they don’t just happen. But, why is it that even when we resolve to do them, they still don't happen? What’s stopping us? If you've not yet set a goal for 2017, or if you've you've already given up yours, please consider the following Timely Tips and become unstoppable!

TIMELY TIPS - to make your goal unstoppable

WHY? 
Consider the "why" behind your resolution. Why do you want to get healthy, get organized, spend less/save more? Ask yourself - "What can I do more of, or less of when I reach my goal?" Viewing the action as a means to the end, rather than the end itself is much more motivating. Name the benefits as the end goal. 

HOW?
Tiny steps. In their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath talk about increasing success by “shrinking the change.” Rather than, “I’m going to start spending two hours at the gym every day” try, “I’m going to walk for 10 minutes during my lunch hour” or, “whenever I park my car, I’m going to park on the far side of the lot.” It may seem minuscule in relation to the overall goal, but start with something manageable, and do it! That's much more beneficial than giving up because of unrealistic expectations.

HOW LONG?
A day? A week? When working with clients who are chronically disorganized, I don’t expect them to create a spotless house overnight and every night. But if they're serious about getting organized, it's a lifestyle commitment and consistency is key. I love how Joanna Weaver defines consistency. “Consistency doesn’t mean perfection; it simply means not giving up.” None of us transforms overnight. Put your goal in the perspective of a lifestyle change and don't give up. I, for one, am glad I didn’t give up because you know that boyfriend I was running for? He became my husband!

wise words

Everything is hard before it is easy. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe  

goals

May the actions you take in this new year result in lifestyle changes and bountiful benefits!
And yes, that's me and my sweetie back in the day doing a selfie with the cows. 

Cheers,
Brenda

Equalize

organizing

"You're going to need a BIGGER CLOSET," said the ad in my Real Simple magazine. It was touting the idea that if the shoe fits, buy one in every color. But what if you're like the woman who called me today and already has 200 pairs of shoes? I'm going to go out on a limb and say a bigger closet isn't always the answer. 

In today's society bigger and more is almost always associated with better. We don't want to admit that we don't have room, don't have time, or can't afford it. So, we cram more into our space or calendar. We extend our credit to create the illusion that we have unlimited resources. 

I recently heard a wealthy young man interviewed on the radio. He is very philanthropic. The interviewer asked, "How do you decide how much you're going to give?" His answer was compelling. He and his wife determined how much they need to live on and then choose to give away everything they earn above that. Gives a whole new meaning to "more is better," doesn't it?

A term made popular by Julie Morgenstern in the organizing world is "equalize." It's the final step in her SPACE formula-- Sort, Purge, Assign Homes, Containerize, and Equalize. In her book Organizing from the Inside Out, Morgenstern uses the term to describe the maintenance part of organizing. There are many facets to maintaining organization, but today I want to focus on equalizing as it's defined in the dictionary-- to make even or equal.

Today's Timely Tips will help you determine where you're out of balance and how to restore order. 

TIMELY TIPS - to equalize your space, time, and money

Space 

When you equalize your space you don't create walk-in closets that you can't walk into. You don't have pantry supplies spilling out of the cupboards, or office storage so crammed that you can't see what you have. 

Just like the wealthy young man, you first determine how much you need. How many pairs of black boots? How many coffee mugs? How many sets of sheets? Intentionally keep the amount you need-- choose your favorites, and let the rest go. 

For consumables decide how much space you have or want for them to occupy. Keep it equalized by not buying more than will fit. Yes, even if it's on sale! It may cost you more later, but it will cost you more now in terms of space and stress if you exceed your predetermined boundaries. 

Time

When you equalize your schedule you don't add and add new responsibilities until you're running ragged. You don't crumble under the weight of over-commitment. 

Rather than adding things will-nilly, evaluate how much discretionary time you have. Make a list of what's important to you. Schedule those commitments and activities according to priority making sure to include some down-time. When a new request or opportunity arises, look at your schedule and make a choice. Will it replace something because it's more important? Can you add it later when another commitment ends? Equalize.

Money

When you equalize your money, you're not smothered in credit card debt. You don't succumb to "buy one in every color" ads. 

I can't think of a better time to consider how to equalize finances than the holiday season. The most obvious way is to not spend more than is coming in. Can you imagine a January not stressed by credit card bills?

Give yourself permission and explain to others if need be that you're intentionally cutting back this year to keep from acquiring more debt. 

Determine the discretionary amount of money you have and create a list of priorities. From that list create a holiday budget. When you discover something cost more than expected, equalize by cutting back on something else. You can do it! In January you will breathe a sigh of relief instead of grief.


Wise Words
The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. -Amelia Earhart

Two Classes Coming Up - SOON!

FAMILY MANAGEMENT 
Organizing strategies for parents

September 27, 2016 ~ 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Clovis Adult School


“The family is the nucleus of civilization.” --Will Durant. This may be a scary statement if your family feels chaotic. So how do we combat chaos when kids, toys, and crazy schedules rule the roost? This class offers practical tips and tools to create a more peaceful and productive home. Strategies include organizing kids’ rooms and keepsakes, family schedules, chores, meal planning, teamwork, and routines. You will be inspired and equipped to make transformational changes in your home and family.

Register online at ClovisCommunityEd.com

 

ORGANIZE YOUR PAPER, SPACE, AND LIFE
October 4, 11, and 18, 2016 ~ 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Clovis Adult School

Whether your life is an organizational nightmare, or you're simply looking for some tips to help you fine-tune things, this course provides practical tools to establish a more peaceful and productive environment. Topics include what to do with the endless paper flow, organizing your space, and how to manage your time and household.