Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Best Organizing Posts of 2013

Wishing you all a Healthy & Happy New Year!!!

At the top of Granite Ridge, Killarney Provincial Park, Canada, August 2013

In case you missed some of these posts, or wish to reread them for inspiration, here are some recaps of 2013.

"What If?" and "Why Not?"
A guide to Thinking about your Life.

Broken Links
What happens when we move away from Old Systems

The Ripening Box
What to do with all those Things That We Don't Know What to Do With

The Dynamic Dining Room Table
 Is your table Static or Dynamic?

Ask Linda: How DO I Get Started?
Often, the hardest part to any project

Corralling the Keys
This simple post got an amazing number of "page views"!

Monday, December 16, 2013

5 Things You Can Do About Loose Ends at Holiday Time

Photo Courtesy of Sakurako Kitsa
 I have Loose Ends. You know what I mean. We all have them. Unfinished projects and ideas, curling around in my brain like wavy ribbons, leaving me tangled and muddled.

For example, in this past week alone, my clean laundry was stuck on my couch for days, not only because I had no time to actually fold it, but because for some reason we did not have enough empty hangers in the house to hang them up; the Christmas decoration bins had been brought up from the basement and ravaged by some unruly elves who decorated the bottom right half of the tree and left everything strewn about; AND I ended up at the gym for my workout WITHOUT my gym bag!

If only this were an isolated thing, but it's not. I have found that December really gets crazy. For the last three weeks or more, I have been running from one thing to another and it seems like each thing takes 15 minutes more than I had budgeted for. So, that means the next thing is compressed and so on for the whole day.

Am I alone in this frenzy? I think not.

I have a busy life; four wonderful children, pets, parents, a business, and an amazing husband and partner to help me through it all, for which I am eternally grateful and appreciative (I hope I show it enough, Honey). But how do I really make it work? What can be done to cope with the pressures of December (or any period of time where things are really intense)?
  1. Look away until you have time to deal with it. When the laundry spills over in the family room I can simply leave it there. No, it's not ideal. Not at all easy for me to do, but a real solution. I just spread out the shirts on the back of the couch so they don't wrinkle and leave everything else in the basket. Of course, I will get back to it, just when I have time.
  2. Step back from non-essentials. We promised to bring egg rolls to a holiday party. My daughter wanted to make them but got sick at the last minute. Instead of making them myself, I called the Chinese restaurant and ordered them. Everyone loved them.
  3. Budget your time. Although I would love to help with the holiday play at church, since I joined the Christmas Eve choir this year, I can't do it.
  4. Do things 10 minutes at a time. (See my post 10 Minutes at a Time for more info on this!)
  5. Do what my husband is constantly encouraging, which is to just Relax and Realize that even if it all doesn't get done, it's Good Enough.
For help with any organizing project,
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Comments Welcome!
If the comment box is not visible, 
please share by clicking on the "(No) Comments" link
~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

'Tis the Season to Clean Out, Be Generous & Help Others in Need

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Ben Kirst, representing Uncle Bob's Storage, regarding donating gently used items to charity.  Thanks, Ben, for a great summary of the benefits to be found from Decluttering for the Holidays!

Here is the link to the article. 

For a list of potential charitable organizations that would be happy to receive your stuff, check out the listing in the left hand sidebar. Click any link for more info on that organization.

 For help with decluttering or any organizing project,
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Comments Welcome!
If the comment box is not visible, 
please share by clicking on the "(No) Comments" link
~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Taming the Toys, Parts 2 & 3

Back in June 2012, I wrote the post Taming the Toys, Part 1, admittedly, a very tedious project of sorting out our sizeable Lego collection, in an effort to make them accessible and useable to my youngest two children. I realized that I never posted the final outcome of that project, as I was in the middle of the process when I shared it on the blog.

Pictured above is the result of all of my sorting. Three sets of K'nex, fifteen sets of Legos, plus a bin of leftover miscellaneous Legos that can be used for free building or extra parts. The sets are a variety of houses, fire equipment, motorcycles & vehicles, airplanes, etc. Very overwhelming when mixed together, but very useable when separated.

So... when my son came home on a break from college, he was able to go down to the basement and make this airplane with his little sister and all the parts were there.

This is what I have out for the girls to use on a regular basis. A small complete collection, with instructions that they can take to the tabletop and complete, some with, some without assistance. Just right for their level now, and I can easily switch out a new set whenever they want.
 This is how I store the extra sets, in a clear bin on the bottom of the closet, with some other building supplies such as Duplo blocks, Magnetix, Thomas the Train and wooden blocks. The top shelf is off limits as it is games for older kids and baby toys. The second shelf is also off limits as it is my party/entertaining supplies.

 Taming the Toys, Part 3

So the last few weekends, I had been feeling frustrated with my girls for not keeping the basement clean. I talked with them about it and found out that it was hard for them and their friends to put things away after they used them. It became clear during the conversation that they were overwhelmed with the amount of toys in the basement. We do clean out on a regular basis, but I realized that they were right. They had changed significantly since the last purge about 2 years ago, and many of the toys had remained, while older aged toys had come out and there was too much. So we set to work. I asked them what they liked to play the most. This was easy for them to answer, as make believe/doll play was at the top of their list. I also wanted them to have a space to watch a regular and yoga videos. Another important factor was that I wanted to have a space where I could exercise alone or with the girls.

 When the girls were younger (and shorter) I had purchased two plastic 5 shelf units and split them into 4 sections of shorter shelves (2, 2, 3 and 3), as seen in this older photo, below. Shanna is blocking the TV, but it is sitting on a shelf, behind her.

The first thing I did was to buy this TV table ($29 Sauder, on sale at Valu- no link available) and take my two existing shelving units (~$40 HDX @ Home Depot) and put them into a configuration of two 3 shelf units (and one two shelf unit- used in the exercise area), freeing up much needed floor space. We went through the toys and purged anything broken or missing, and anything they no longer played with. I decided if it was something I wanted to keep for my potential grandkids, and if not, we donated it. This step was not too difficult because of our regular purging. We were really down to mostly basics and keepers. Here is the result.

Doll clothes and accessories are in the two large bins on the right shelf. Kitchen and food are in the large bins on the left shelf. They like to play shopping and store a lot, so they take various empty boxes and bottles from our kitchen to use in play. Small toys, such as the doctor kit, Legos, small blocks and play phones live in the small bins on the left shelf. Musical instruments and a small camping set are on the top left and on the top right are empty boxes that the girls constantly use for doll beds, couches, lockers etc. On the bottom left are doll/people blankets and sleeping bags and on the bottom right are foam floor pads that are constantly being built into houses and cribs for the dolls. The stuffed animals live in the yellow duck laundry hamper. Backpacks and small purses live in a round laundry basket underneath the pinball machine (shown in picture of full room, below).

Almost everything can be used interchangeably and can be left out for a period of days, and then easily put back as everything is clearly labeled and fits into its container.

 Another essential piece was the creation of a school area. I had all the components scattered throughout the basement, and simply brought them all to a corner behind the pinball game. This created a little "room" which the girls are very excited about. They insisted they wanted "a locker" so I swapped spaces with them and put my entertaining supplies in the bigger closet and gave them the cabinet for their games and school supplies.

The final piece was the creation of the exercise area. This worked out really well. The balls were rolling all over the place, so I used some step stools that I had (upside down) to corral them. The square mirror was one I had stashed away in the attic and the full length will soon be hung on the wall. On the shelves (leftover from the reconfiguration of the 5 shelf units) in the bins are exercise clothing and gear, like resistance bands and workout routines. The weight rack was something I have had for a long time and is really useful. Here is a link to a similar rack on Amazon and another, slightly different.
 So here is the overall view of the basement. A manageable, inviting space where everything has it's place. The girls can take things out, combine things together and really enjoy their play.

 And the view from the other way. 
 For help with your playroom or any organizing project,
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Comments Welcome!
If the comment box is not visible, 
please share by clicking on the "(No) Comments" link
~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Possiblity of an Open Doorway


I had an idea recently about a wall in our house. I just kept thinking that if only that wall had a doorway, it would allow us to walk from our front hall, through our family room and right into our back hall and laundry room, rather than having to walk all the way through the kitchen with several turns to navigate. If that wall were a doorway, we could walk right up the front staircase with the laundry baskets and it would be so much more pleasant! Plus, when we come in the house with all our stuff (primarily through the front door in the spring and summer) we could head right into the back hall to put things away, where there is more room.

I ran the idea by my husband, Eric, who has always dreamed of putting a stained glass window in that spot. Being a bit slow to warm up to my crazy ideas, it took a while to take root in his mind. Yesterday, when I came home from errands, I found that he had masked off a rectangular spot on the wall and drilled a tiny hole in the middle where we could see through to the family room. It surprised me, as the doorway on the one side did not quite match up to where I thought it would be on the other side! I thought it would be much closer to one side of the room, when it was really more centered! But I was happy to see the possibility start to take shape. He still put in his plug for a window, but I said he wouldn't be happy when he saw me climb through the window with the laundry baskets, and he agreed that he wouldn't.

Is there a place in your life where the possibility of an open doorway (real or figurative) would help you to make something easier in your life? Can you imagine it? If so, can you implement it? Sometimes, even just imagining the possibility can free up the physical energy needed to make it happen.

It's not going to be quick for our doorway to take shape, I know that it may take months for all the pieces to be started and finished, as there is electrical, baseboards and load bearing walls to contend with. But I am excited for the project to begin and am looking forward to the connection that the open doorway will provide!

Update! Click Here to read The Possibility of an Open Doorway, Pt 2!

For help with any organizing project,
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Comments Welcome!
If the comment box is not visible, 
please share by clicking on the "(No) Comments" link
~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Body Double

This is a term described by Judith Kolberg in her books Conquering Chronic Disorganization  and ADD Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life. In these wonderful and very readable books Judith mentions many suggestions and strategies to help people with challenges get on top of their tasks, and one of them is the use of a Body Double. This she describes as someone who will hang out with you while you tackle your task and will act as a mirror and an anchor until you get the job done. This could be a friend, relative, colleague or I suppose even your dog or cat, as much of the time all is needed from the other being is simply to be present. In fact, at my desk my dog Whisper usually sleeps at my feet and my cat Jasmine sleeps on a shelf at my right elbow while I work. It is very comforting to me and keeps me anchored.

Right this minute I am writing this article in the office of my friend, Dr. Elvira Aletta who runs a psychotherapy practice called Explore What's Next. We are seated across from each other, laptops open, coffee by our side, tip tapping away on our blog articles. Several months ago we had discussed our frustration that we often left blogging to the last minute, putting more urgent and pressing matters ahead of writing. We agreed that having a designated blogging time would be helpful and that we could encourage each other further by meeting together during our writing time to cheer each other on. This has resulted in a bi-weekly Monday meeting where we get together at each others home or office for an hour or two and crack out some writing. Being each others Body Double has been a huge help to each of us, with the added benefit that we can process other business and personal issues to the benefit of our well being and productivity.

I often serve as an anchor and support for my clients as we tackle the To Do List. I presort, put like with like, simplify the presentation of the task and clean up as we go along. While the decisions need to be and are made by my clients, I can help stage them so that it is easier to see the choices. It makes the job for my client much more efficient, effective and enjoyable. Plus it gets it done!

Could you benefit from a Body Double?
For help with this or any organizing project,
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Comments Welcome!
If the comment box is not visible, 
please share by clicking on the "(No) Comments" link
~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ask Linda: How DO I Get Started?

Dear Linda,

I've had the pleasure of enjoying your helpful tips via email. Presently, I'm semi-retired; a substitute teacher, HOWEVER, after 32+ years as an educator enjoying my own organized classroom/office space; I continue in my home trying to declutter and organize that space. My husband and adult daughter also contribute to the clutter here; but tend to always address their own priorities which do not include helping me declutter our home. So, as a new school year begins, my emotions seem to be tested and I'm looking for tips on how to prioritize the decluttering task and let go of much STUFF! Looking forward to your email reply.

Dear Reader:

Thank you so much for contacting me. I totally sympathize with you. One of the hardest things to do is to conquer your own space, especially when you have to work with others who do not have the same need that you have for clearing out the clutter. Believe it or not, I struggle with this as well. The sheer thought of starting can be immobilizing and lead to even further procrastination. Adding to that, the need to motivate what I call "disbelievers" (that clutter is a problem) may seem insurmountable.

Well, having said that, I do have some encouragement and practical suggestions.

  1. Start somewhere. It really doesn't much matter where, but I highly recommend picking a place that will make a great impact for you; and one that you deal with on a daily basis. For example, your kitchen, your "service" entryway, your desk, or even just your incoming paperwork. Whatever you pick, choose something that will make you happy once it is organized.

  2. Use the Paper Towel Tube technique. Originally described by Judith Kolberg in Conquering Chronic Disorganization, looking through your rooms with a paper towel tube narrows your visual field of vision so that you can easily focus on a tiny area and begin to make an impact there. I recommend doing this through your home and when you alight on something that makes your heart skip a beat, consider starting there.

  3.  After you have been working on your areas for a while, try to begin a conversation with your husband and daughter about how their clutter choices are affecting you. Try to come up with some mutually agreeable spaces that can remain clutter free, and some that they can keep the way they want. This may mean renegotiating how the spaces are currently divided up. Here is another post about helping my dad clear out his attic, which may be of interest.

  4. If you want to get a jump start on your project, consider booking a 4 hour session with me. The first part of my initial session is an assessment phase, where I would help you define your mission and goals. I can also help you and your family work together as a team.

Thank you for your awesome question and for allowing me to share it with others!

Can you relate to my reader? What is your experience with starting? Motivating others?
Please share by clicking on the "(No) Comments" link
~ Counter-intuitive, I know, but it's a Blogger quirk!

For help with getting started,
Simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Dynamic Dining Room Table

Ready for a Family Dinner

I have a confession. While occasionally it looks like the above photo, most of the time I have stuff on my dining room table. Yes, stuff. I am sure that my readers are shocked, as one may have the bias to think that a Professional Organizer would have a perfectly clear table, shining and polished, at all times of the day or night. Maybe some do, it's just that it's simply not me, at least not at this stage of my life. I am not advocating right or wrong here; just sharing my experience from my little corner of the world.

Now let me clarify a bit with an explanation of the difference between static and dynamic, according to Dictionary.com:

Static: pertaining to or characterized by a fixed or stationary condition; showing little or no change; lacking movement, development, or vitality.

Dynamic: pertaining to or characterized by energy or effective action; vigorously active or forceful; energetic.

Our table after our recent camping trip.

Some tables are static. You know if you have one of these. It is the kind of table whose layers could tell you something of the way the the clutter formed. If one excavated, one may find fossilized papers or objects, long since disappeared from recent memory. This kind of table is rarely used for any kind of relationship building or nourishment, as it is nearly impossible to find the surface of the table in order to use it properly. Things on it are fixed in time, move very rarely, if ever, and lack the energy of change. If you are lucky enough to have a clutter free table, then static may be a good thing, and open the door to spontaneous activities allowing the use of the table top! But of course, if this is your situation, what are you doing reading an organizing blog..... (directed at my sister-in-law K, who I know reads religiously, and whose table is always ready for action!) ;-)

My table is far from static. Although there may be various piles of things on it, it is totally energetic in nature and reflects the current projects our family is involved in at any given time. For example, this summer, it has been the point place for the assembly of two large tri-folds of photos for my son's graduation party, the packing point for my three daughters' overnight camp sessions, the packing and unpacking of our family's camping trip in Canada, and this week is transitioning to the packing point for my son to go to college and the assembly of school supplies for the rest of the kids. For the past several years, during July and August the table has also been a caterpillar nursery and butterfly hatchery, although this year, the monarch's late arrival prevented us from hosting them (you can read about the caterpillars we have hatched in the past here, here and here). Throughout the summer, in between all the projects the table has often been cleared for friend & family gatherings to celebrate special occasions.

Packing for our first trip to China, in 2008, to adopt Megan!

Our dining room table is a special spot in our home. It is a place of energy and love, relationship building and achievement of goals. It is a place of sanctuary for things which are not quite finished, and things yet to be. It is Dynamic, not Static, and definitely not empty and polished!

Tell us about your dining room table. How does it function in your life and home? Does it work for you or is it a hindrance to your energy and goals? If it is a hindrance, imagine how it would feel to free it up!

For help with any organizing project, including freeing your dining room table,
Simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Corralling the Keys

A great time saver is to know where your keys are when you need them. Here are a few suggestions:
Post hooks by the entryway and always know where your keys are. Command Hooks are my personal favorite and they are available in clear, as well as white. They are removable and reusable with new adhesive strips. Click here to see them on the Command website. 

 Another tip is to put your keys on a chain with a Carabiner Clip. These can be purchased at Lowes. Here is a link to see them on the website. I resisted this at first, because I thought it would be too big, but I found that tucking the car key into my pocket keeps it secure and out of the way. Before the clip, I was just tucking them into my pocket and found they often fell out when I bent over. Not anymore!! When I don't have pants on with a belt loop, I can hang it on the handle of any bag I am carrying.

 My husband likes it too, and wears it like this.
Since he is so much bigger than me, it doesn't hang in his way. And, since he was unavailable for a photo shoot at the time of this posting, here I am modeling it for him! :)

For help with any organizing project,
Simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Ripening Box

Last week, I wrote about Broken Links. I described how we all have systems and things that stop working, we no longer use them, but we never actually take the final steps to dismantle or dispose of them.

I now have another example: A physics project made by my son; a trebuchet (see example below), which is now sitting on my front step, where it was removed from the van, after the presentation at school. It will take some work to dismantle, and I get that.... I just hope it happens before the graduation party!!

Anyway, although I cannot offer a quick solution for trebuchet management, I can suggest a tool for dealing with smaller items;

The Ripening Box
This is a container (mine is an open cardboard box) that lives in a convenient location, hidden from plain view, and hopefully up out of the reach of peering eyes. Into this box I put things that have been lying around, that no one has claimed, or that seem to be no longer the priority. Tiny little toys and stickers, paper airplanes, things I am not sure I am done with, but no longer want to look at, older but still beautiful art projects, etc. All of these go into the ripening box. If by chance someone says to me "Did you see my xxxx?" I can easily dig in there and find it. If not, when the box is full, I empty it. Some things I may return to the owner, or save in the box for the next cycle, but most I either discard or donate. The box isn't very big, and I empty it every three months or so. Right now, a toaster is in my box, waiting to see if there is a need for it in my son's college dorm room.

Lest you think I am a callous person, let me tell you that I can probably count on one hand the number of times that I have had to dig into the ripening box. What I have found is that we have a plethora of stuff at any given time and much of it is not needed or missed.

What do you have laying around that you could put in The Ripening Box?
Share in the comments. I would love to hear.

For help with any organizing project,
Simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Broken Links

You know how you click on a broken link and a message pops up?

Well, that's annoying, isn't it?

I have found that this happens in our physical lives, as well. We are constantly setting up new systems, abandoning the old and NEVER removing the link, even though it goes nowhere.

Some examples:
  • I have a system for dealing with Holiday Cards. Works great. I get them, I tape them up on the wall in the kitchen to display (or temporarily in a basket to hang in a free moment). Sometime in January, I take them all down and put them back in the basket. I have every intention of sorting through them later, but somehow, here it is June, and there they still sit.
  • Our sweet little gerbil died last month. In keeping with the tender, end of life care we provided to him, we wanted to bury him properly in the yard. Unfortunately, he died on a rainy and busy weekend. I put him in a box in the garage and each day, after school, my daughters asked me if I buried him. Not yet. I was trying to find the "perfect time" when the girls were home and not busy and, of course, the few times the opportunity presented itself, I callously forgot to do it. So, a week later, I finally said to myself "Linda! Deal with that gerbil!!" and we went out to the yard, dug a shallow grave and buried him, saying a tender prayer. Was I procrastinating, unconsciously? Yes, I think so.
  • I have used an electric toothbrush for about a year. I have to admit, I am not really happy with it. Although I love the way it makes my teeth feel clean, I have to replace the batteries way too often and I can't stand when it runs down. Last week, I finally got frustrated and got out a "manual brush", leaving the electric sitting on the counter, open with it's batteries strewn about- attempting to dry out- in case somehow moisture was the problem. I pretty much know that my relationship with that toothbrush is over, but somehow, I can't yet bring myself to throw it out. Why not?
Can anyone relate? What are you avoiding or procrastinating? What broken links are there in your systems? Routines and storage you set up but are no longer using and never bothered to dismantle?

And most importantly: Why do we do this to ourselves??

Although, certainly not exhaustive, here are some ideas I came up with:

  • Frugality: We invested time or money in the system and are reluctant to give up on it (whatever "it" may be), even though it no longer meets our needs. This is the example of my disappointing toothbrush.
  • Guilt:  Related to frugality, if we spent time and resources on it, if someone gave it to us or if we feel that something bad will happen if we let go of it.
  • Rebelliousness: A bit of reluctance to actually react to the pressure we (or in many cases-others) put on ourselves to make changes to our environment. We rebel (lots of times unconsciously) and avoid the change and feel in control.
  • Apathy: We just don't feel like dealing with it, maybe just not now, maybe not ever. Especially, if the systems or stuff are excessive! A huge impediment to rallying the energy needed to establish change. This is part of what blocked me from burying my gerbil.
  • Sentiment: An emotional attachment to the items or systems in question. This is what prevents us from getting rid of our children's artwork or stuffed animals, or grandma's china that is no longer practical.
  • Fear of Failure/Perfectionism: This isn't everyone, but it is intense for some. This is an awareness that the perfect solution isn't available or can't be implemented right now, and even though an approximation might be 90% helpful, a "why even bother" thought process prevails. This is also what happened in my gerbil example. Waiting for the perfect opportunity to come.
Knowing is half the battle. An essential piece is wanting to change. Give yourself permission to wait until you have the energy and the interest, then act! You may be surprised at what you accomplish.

For help with Broken Links, Systems or any other organizing project,
Simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

"What If?" and "Why Not?"

Some days I wake up and I feel like can conquer the world. I have dreamed all night about Ideas and Problems That Need Solutions and before my eyes are even open, I have a list a mile long of Things To Do! That day, I begin to set things in motion.

THEN, the Very. Next. Day. I feel like I can't even get out of bed. I ask myself WHAT was I thinking!!!??? It all seemed so reasonable yesterday!! The thoughts of what to do swim before my brain and one merges into another growing larger and more nebulous, colliding with what feels like a growing headache.

Anyone else feel that way? Anyone surprised to hear that a Professional Organizer feels that way?

This is really the story of my life. A High Achiever, and somewhat a Naive Optimist, I am always thinking "What If?" and Why Not?" I will admit that my constant striving to change myself or my world, can be difficult. But yet, it is what makes my life interesting and exciting. When I follow my "What If?, Why Not?" line of thinking, beautiful things happen to me and my family.

For example, years ago, I spontaneously responded to an email and entered a contest sponsored by Rolodex. I had to design an systematic plan to meet the needs of a fictitious client with organizing challenges due to an attention disorder. I immediately got to work, and being a school psychologist for 16 years, quickly and easily wrote an assessment and plan to meet his needs, emailed it off and forgot about it. Months later, I received a registered letter inviting me to attend the National Association of Professional Organizers annual conference as a Semi-Finalist Winner in the Rolodex Office Makeover Challenge. I was shocked and thrilled. I had a ball at the conference and ended up winning the grand prize; a trip to Hawaii for my family!!! It was amazing and all because I was open to the idea of "What If and Why Not?"

The Big Island, July 2007 (pre-adoption of Megan and Shanna!)

Some people are "If, Then" thinkers. They are constantly aware of the consequences of their choices and carefully evaluate each possibility before acting. This is sound and prudent thinking and in many instances, essential. I can think this way, but it is harder for me. I admire so much people who can do this effortlessly. My husband and my oldest daughter are two of these reliable souls. I can always count on them to help me flush out the unrealistic pieces of my plan.

While neither philosophy is right or wrong; there is a need for balance. To live one's whole life as a dreamer can be exhausting and lead to the roller coaster of energy like what I described at the beginning. To live always in the predictability and safety of routine and consequences may not expose us to the right amount of fun, freedom or joy.

Somewhere in the middle is the answer.

For help with reaching balance or any other organizing project,
Simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Quick & Easy: Sign up with the Do NOT Call Register Right Now

Phone solicitations driving you crazy?

It will literally take you 5 minutes, and you can enter up to 3 numbers at once, including cell phones.

Visit my Links page for more useful resources.

For help with this or any other organizing project,
Simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May 18, 2013: Upcoming Erie County Hazardous Waste Drop Off

Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Event will take place on May 18, 2013 from 9-2pm,at ECC North Campus (enter from Wehrle Drive). Download the flyer for more details on the location and what materials will be accepted free of charge.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pharmaceutical Drug Drop-off Event

The next National Pharmaceutical Drug Drop-off Event will take place on April 27, 2013 in various locations from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. For more information and a list of locations in Erie County, click here to download the flyer. Drug Drop Off Locations

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Feed Me!! (Please): A Plea From the Household Pets

Is anyone familiar with this scenario?

We have a hungry dog, hungry cats, hungry gerbils and hungry fish. We have LOTS of pets. We also have 6 potential feeders in the family. I ask endless questions of "Did anyone feed the ..." (insert here- cats, dog, fish, etc.). Whisper, pictured above, is polite, but she at least paces when hungry and gets underfoot. The cats will RUN towards the laundry room whenever anyone ventures to the back hall, also tripping us. They can advocate for their needs. The gerbils and fish are at our mercy. The cats and dog are also prone to asking for more than their normal portion. I never seemed to know if the animals got fed AND I didn't want to do it all myself.
So I decided to take action.

I designed the form below:
I added some magnets labeled with different colored dots,
one for each pet type, marked C, D, G, F;
and placed it on the fridge.
(Because our dog gets meds twice a day
I added smaller magnets in the same color for her,
to help track that, as well.)

Here is the end result; 
an easy to use,
easy to read record of which pets have eaten:
It will take a bit of training and encouragement to teach your family to consistently use this tool,
but your calm persistence will pay off in a few weeks.
For help with this or any other organizing project,
Simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pre-Picked Outfits = An Easier Morning

Some children rise early and meet the dawn with a sunny outlook, and begin the daily preparations with a smile. This is my daughter, Megan. Other kids (maybe the majority) are slower to mobilize and need additional prompting to move through the daily routine. This is my daughter, Shanna. Both are 8 years old, both are completely capable. One is self motivated and self structuring, the other is a bit more dependent on me and my structure. One of my goals is always to create independence in my kids, helping them to develop tools to increase self sufficiency and confidence.

So, we decided to organize weekly outfits to streamline the morning routine. This is not a new idea, and one I had used before, with success. The only thing was that this time, Shanna was older and capable of participating in the set up & maintenance, if I kept it simple. Last time, I used clothes pins to put the outfits together on hangers, but I found it hard for the kids to do themselves and it looked a bit messy. This time, I decided to pack a weeks worth of clothing the way I do when we travel, and this is what I did.

First, I made cute labels for each day of the week,
on 3x5 index cards:

Then we went to the closet and picked out 7 outfits.

Using Food Storage Baggies
(not ziplocs, just plastic bags)
we folded the outfits and put them into the baggies.
If tights or special socks were needed,
we added those, too.

Then we put the labels into each bag.

Finally, using some baskets I had in the attic,
I taped a label on the outside of each basket,
piled the outfits in the baskets, in order of days.

And the final result!
Shanna, proud of her outfits and her efforts.
Maintenance is every Sunday evening, the girls pick out seven more outfits.
I have found that doing the laundry for the girls on Sunday is very helpful in having all their outfit choices available, so no one is asking "where is my such and such"!

If you don't have closet shelf space to keep the baggies of outfits, you can always use under the bed storage (slide out bins) or use a travel suitcase or duffle bag for even more added fun!

This is a great technique to use for children with sensory processing disorders, ADHD, children on the autism spectrum, or any child with special needs or not!

For help with this or any other organizing project,
Simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.