Sometimes we just need to be reminded of the basics! If you have an organizing project and don't know where to start, look no further than this quick guide! It's all about the basics.
1) SET ASIDE TIME: Block of 3 hours to start your project. Make this a time with no interruptions. No kids or phones!
2) START SMALL: Pick a room and choose a small area, such as your desktop or one drawer to start.
3) ASK QUESTIONS: For every object, as yourself, do you want it, love it, or need it? If the answer is "no" let it go!
4) CAN IT BE DONATED? Donate items that still have use! Check out my favorite donation organizations here.
5) HOW ABOUT RECYCLED? Can't donate it? Use the RecycleWhere tool to find recycling and responsible disposal options.
6) KEEP GOING: Stay focused on your chosen area and your work will pay off! If you need some extra help, feel free to book a session!
In San Francisco, our garages need to work hard. They may hold a collection of bikes, tools, toys, art supples and even a car! Too often, however, the garage is the ultimate dumping zone. Wouldn't it be nice to walk in your garage and love it? Imagine a place where it's easy to get around and find what you need. Is garage zen too much to ask for? I don't think so. It just takes some time and work.
PLAN. Block off a section of time to start your project. I recommend 3-5 hours. Make this a time with no interruptions. No kids, phones or pets. You may not be finished at the end of this time, but you will have a good start. Keep at it and stay focused.
SORT. Pick an area (such as the workbench) or a category (such as sports gear) and start asking yourself questions about the items you find. Is this item being used by you or someone else in the family? Is it needed? Does it work? Has it seen better days? Assess EVERY item you come across.
DONATE. If the item is not needed or wanted, can it be donated? Not sure? Check out my list of local SF donation organizations. Place smaller items in grocery bags and put everything near the door. It's helpful to label the bag with the organization's name. If it's not something you can donate, recycle or responsibly dispose of it. Is it toxic? Call Recology to do a pickup at (415) 330-1405.
ORGANIZE. If the item stays, find the right home for it, remembering to place it with like items. Not sure where it goes? Would bins, hooks or shelves be helpful? Put these items on a list and keep going. Stay focused on the task at hand.
STORE. Once you have purged the area, additional storage is often needed. Should you hang the bikes? More shelving? You could go with a simple shelving unit from a home supply store, mounted shelving such as Elfa Utility, or an entire garage system such as Monkey Bars. Whichever way you go, purging and organizing must come first. For additional garage organizing ideas check out my garage Pinterest board.
As always, feel free to book a session if you would like some help in creating your own garage zen!
Be Ready for Anything
Being Californians, we all know we should have supplies on hand in case of an earthquake, but rounding up emergency supplies is just the first step to really being ready for anything. Creating a home inventory and vital records carrier can take your preparedness to the next level!
Be prepared to go without services for 72 hours in an emergency. Gathering three days worth of food, water, medicine and toiletries for each member of your family, including pets, is a good starting place. Then add a first aid kit, flashlights, warm clothes and a hand crank radio. Check out SF72 for additional essentials.
It's likely you already have many of these supplies on hand. Gather them together to create a dedicated Emergency Kit. Store everything in a sturdy container in an accessible location. Be sure to label it and notify other family members. Alternately, you can purchase a ready-made kit at The Ready Store!
Can you name all of the items in your home without looking? I certainly can't! That's where having a home inventory list comes in handy. It can save you time and money when filing an insurance claim. A home inventory can be as simple as a list of items for every room in your home and an accompanying video.
You can also use apps like Centriq or HomeZada. Both offer free home inventory capability as well as additional services such as keeping manuals, warranties and maintenance information all in one place.
Accessing your vital records, such as birth certificates and passports, in an emergency can be essential. Keeping them secure, but easily accessible is important. It's a good idea to protected the originals in a fire-proof safe. You can then have copies in a folder where they are ready to grab in case of an emergency.
Take your emergency planning one step at a time, knowing each measure helps your family be a bit more prepared. Revisit each of the above items every few years to keep them up to date.
Of course, I'm always here to help!
Being first aid certified is another way to be ready for anything. Check out the American Red Cross web site redcross.org for tons of local and online first aid classes.
Being an organizer, means you haul a lot of stuff around. For the months of September and October, members of NAPO are challenged to post photos of each of their donation loads for the #NAPOCaresChallenge. The photos below document all of the donations I hauled and donated in September as well as the recipient organizations!
In case you were wondering, NAPO (The National Association of Professional Organizers) is an association of over 4,000 organizing and productivity specialists who are dedicated to helping people and organizations bring order and efficiency to their lives.
I have been a NAPO member since 2006. As well as being a national member, I am also an active member in our local Bay Area Chapter NAPO-SFBA. Being involved in this wonderful organization helps me to continually educate myself on best practices in the organizing industry. It also means I have a wealth of resources, in the knowledge of my fellow members, at my fingertips!
Back to school often involves new books, new clothes, new shoes, a new schedule and sometimes a even new school! With all this change, it can also feel busy and overwhelming. A little organization can go a long way towards making the transition easier. Below are a few ideas for getting your home in shape for fall. For more inspiration check out my back to school Pinterest board.
Purge Kids Clothes. Take a look through your kids dresser and closet. Are there any clothes that have seen better days or they have outgrown? Anything they have a ridiculous number of? Box them up for a younger sibling or toss them in a bag for Goodwill. While your at it, make a list of the basics that need replacing.
Create a Drop Zone. Is there a pile near your front door of shoes, coats, backpacks and school projects? Maybe it's time for a "drop zone". If you're tight on space, this can be as simple as hook for a backpack, a tray for shoes and a dedicated spot for all incoming papers. If you have a bit more room, you may want to create something more elaborate like these mudrooms featured on Comfy Dwelling.
Homework Haven. Kids need a dedicated place to do homework that is quiet, free from distractions and has all the tools they need at hand. It does't take much to create this area. Start with a desk, a comfortable chair, a desk lamp and a few mason jars for writing utensils and scissors. You may want to add in a space for paper and books and a charging station. Add in a few personal touches like some of their artwork and it's ready to go!
As always, feel free to book a session if you would like some help making any of these back to school ideas a reality.
There's a connection between making space in your home and making space in your life. Why not also make space in your head?
Headspace is a lovely little app that makes meditation a friendly and accessible experience. Get yourself some Headspace!
Many of us have heard of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) but have you heard of JOMO? It stands for Joy of Missing Out. I'm not what you would call cutting-edge. I often have no idea what the latest trend, cat video or show is. When I first heard of JOMO on the Note to Self podcast, I thought "Yes! That's me!"
With JOMO we can dive deeply into the present moment. That can mean having focused and productive work time or a truly rejuvenating (and phone-free) walk in the park. Read on for some ideas on how to 'miss out' a bit more and tap into your now.
So much of our time is spent posting (or checking) updates, catching up on news (or non-news) and compulsively checking (and re-checking) email. Technology is a fact of life, but our repetitive and mindless interactions with it don't have to be. I love helping clients be more purposeful and intentional with their time, that includes time online. Below are a few strategies for gaining control of your relationship with technology.
Single Task! Research shows that we are not capable of multitasking, we just switch from one task to another really quickly. When we multitask our productivity goes down as our level of distraction goes up. Start single-tasking. Do one thing, finish it and move on. It can be hard at first, given our instant-response culture, but it is so worth it.
Turn Off Notifications. You look at your phone and see red dots on every app, letting you know everything you are missing out on. Do you really intend to read them? Do you even care about them? Turn them off and breath a sigh of relief the next time you look at your phone. This goes for your desktop as well.
Say "Night-Night" to Technology. Pick a time in the evening that you will stop engaging with technology and stick with it. Let's say it's 8 PM. That means, no checking email, no Facebook updates, no Twitter, no news. On the same note, start your day with breakfast, coffee and a few minutes of peace, not that 6 AM email. The world will not end. Really!
If you want to go further into the idea of engaging intentionally with technology check out the Infomagical Challenge on the Note to Self podcast. I found it very insightful. Of course, I am always here to help you through your productivity and technology challenges!
Do you have a few things around the house that you no longer want or need, but haven't gotten around to giving away? We all do. Maybe it's time to check out Yerdle.
Yerdle is a new website that's basically an online swap meet. The big difference with Yerdle is instead of using cash to buy and sell items, you use Yerdle Dollars. After getting an account, you post a photo of the items you no longer need. You then send it off to the purchaser with a prepaid envelope provided by Yerdle. By doing this, you earn Yerdle Dollars which you can then use to purchase other items on Yerdle. Their mission is to reduce the number of new things we purchase by giving and receiving items instead. So far over 600,000 items have been given on Yertle!
I love this quote from their About page "Our relationship with stuff is broken. We all feel overwhelmed by our clutter, even as we race along the treadmill of buying more stuff."
I couldn't agree more!
I have not used Yerdle personally, but it sounds pretty awesome! You can use the following link to get $35 in free Yerdle Dollers! If you do, I would love to hear about your experience.
For a long time, I wasn't sure what to make of Evernote, a free note-capture software. I got an account and for years, I did nothing with it. What was I supposed to do? How was I supposed to use it? People raved and I just didn't get it. Then slowly, but surely, I started using it and I was hooked. Below are a few of my favorite ways to use Evernote.
NOTE CAPTURE. As you may have guessed, Evernote is great at keeping track of notes. Start by taking the various notes you had been keeping in Word or on paper, and put that information into Evernote. Emergency contact lists, favorite recipes, party ideas. Whatever it may be, Evernote is a great place to hold that information. The best part? Evernote is searchable so you can find the note you need in a flash.
WEB CLIPPER. Evernote has a very useful Web clipper that works directly in your browser. See an article you like or a restaurant you want to remember? Clip it and it goes directly into your notebook.
TASK LISTS. Every Monday I sit down with my Evernote task list. It reminds me of all the weekly business tasks that I need to get done, both large and small. You could use it to make a grocery list or help organize a project. You can even share and collaborate on notes.
With Evernote, all of your scraps, notes and ideas can be streamlined and saved into one system and found with a quick search. If you get the Evernote App, it's also on your phone and ipad! From packing lists to business plans, Evernote holds it all.
Did I mention Evernote is free? Once you download it, check out their great tutorials. If you're not sure where to start, schedule a session and we can tackle it together!
Kids are prolific artists! The painting, the gluing, the drawing! It's wonderful to see our child engrossed in making art, but perhaps it's not so wonderful to see the dining room table covered with glitter glue.
There is a solution. Whether it's a table in the corner of the kitchen or a whole room, let them have a space to unleash their creativity.
Gather & Purge. The first step is to gather all the art supplies in one place and purge, purge, purge! Keep what they need and take the rest to SCRAP.
Get the Essentials. You don't need much to create an art area. I suggest a table, a few chairs, pen/pencil holders, and a place to hold supplies like paper, coloring books and stickers. Get some inspiration from my Kid Art Areas Pinterest board.
Create a Gallery. Kids love to see their work displayed! The fridge is fine, but two of my favorite ways of displaying art is on a clothesline and in hinged frames. Have fun making art together!
So many of my clients have beautiful jewelry they would love to wear, but don't because it's in a tangled mess. If this sounds like you, here are some steps you can take to remedy the situation.
1) Purge. Take everything out and assess. Ten pairs of hoop earrings? Broken necklaces? Clear out everything you don't love and donate or sell it.
2) Store. Next, look at my Pinterest board about Jewelry Organizing to give you some ideas about storing your favorites. Could you use drawer inserts, or a tree stand? Pick one or two and go for it. Maybe now that all the excess is gone, the storage you have works perfectly!
3) Organize. This is the fun part! Organize all of your favorites into your new system. Remember to maintain the system by putting things back after you wear them. Be prepared to feel fabulous!
Erin Becker is the owner of PICK IT UP, a