Yes, Organizers have to organize their offices too! (aka: I am not perfect or a robot)

August 15, 2013
Yes, Organizers have to organize their offices too! (aka: I am not perfect or a robot)
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I am taking you on a “behind the scenes” look into what my office looked like after one year of regular use including before and after photos. I file my papers and put things back where they go each day but I still have to do de-cluttering from time-to-time. Why on earth am I showing you this? Because #1. I’m a risk taker and #2. I want everyone to know that even organizers have to spend a little time each week (and at least an hour or so each year) to keep their space organized.

 

HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR HOME OFFICE

1. Develop a Vision:

If your office is used for more than just work, set up zones:
Work, Area for kids (homework or play), Wrapping or crafts, Exercise area, Guest room and Storage
      *My office is used for work, wrapping gifts and has a daybed in it for guests*
*BEFORE* – Closet and daybed during de-cluttering process
before 1before 2declutter 1
2. Arranging Your Space
—Your desk should fit your space
—Arrange it facing a door or window (not a wall)
—Have a comfortable chair (make sure it fits under your desk)
—Have action or desktop files at hand
—Have a filing cabinet handy (top can be used for printer)
—Bookcase
3. Desk Area
—Sort all like items
—Toss or donate unwanted and extras
—Store like items together
—Store extra items in closet, bookcase or magnetic strip
—Desk should only hold items you use every day
*SORT all like items: photos, envelopes, software disks*
sort 1pool 041sort 4
*DONATE*
donate
4. Filing
—Create a system for paper and electronic
—Sort, file and purge regularly
—Have a desktop or hanging action file (label: pay, call, file, pending, read) to keep papers from piling up on your desk
—Filing Cabinet: Files can be color coded by main topics
Ex: Banking = Red hanging file with each bank name and accounts in separate folders within main red file, Insurance = Blue with auto, home, health in separate folders within the blue file.
Vital Records File—
Set up a file, box or drawer where copies of all your most important documents are kept (originals in fire-proof safe or bank deposit box):
Passport, Birth certificate, Credit card numbers, Bank account numbers, Financial documents and or Insurance documents
5. E-mail System
—Use folders to sort and store e-mails (use the same folder names as your paper filing system)
—Flag important e-mails that are high priority
—Have separate addresses for work and personal
—Purge e-mails regularly
6. Store items not used regularly
—Take advantage of all vertical, closet and under-bed space:
Use built- in book shelves, Hang shelving, Hooks, Clear shoe/ pocket holders on back of door and under bed boxes for extra storage
7. Use Calendars to track appointments and tasks:
Wall calendar or Digital calendar (make sure to sync) – color coded for each family member
Block out time it takes for each task (from time you leave for appointment until time you get back)
Allocate twice as much time for each task
Break down tasks into small steps and use “do” dates as well as “due” dates
*AFTER*
*Wrapping area and extra supplies in closet*
*Daily supplies on shelf with action files on sides*
after 1after 2after 3
*Top of desk*
after 4
I hope you enjoyed seeing my imperfections :).
Please let us know if you need help organizing your home office or any other space by calling Simply Organized at 404-825-2105 or send me an e-mail: heather@simplyorganizedyou.com
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Back To School

August 14, 2013
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booksThis has to be my favorite time of year. Memories of going back to school still make me giddy. Shopping for school supplies and clothes, a fresh start with new teachers, friends, football and let’s not forget the crisper cooler weather we should expect in the next month or so.  Hopefully, you had a fun summer and the kids enjoyed not having home work.  Now it’s time to get everyone ready for a successful school year.  Getting organized now is the key to less stress later.  Here are a few tips to help get you started:

Clothes:

1. Have your kids try on their clothes from last year to see what still fits and what needs to be donated.

2. Make a list of what you need to buy with sizes and quantities (ex. 2 pairs of size 5 tennis shoes, 3 pairs of size 7 jeans, etc.). This will save you money and time when you take the kids shopping. Make sure to include any clothes they will need for sports and after-school activities.

Supplies:

1. See of you have anything left over from last year like unused paper, pencils, etc.

2. Make a list of everything you need and make sure you include special classes like art, music, P.E., etc.

Meals:

1. Have a grocery list and menu planner on or near your refrigerator (MEAD makes a magnetic one you can get at Target)

2. Make a weekly menu of meals so you can shop and cook ahead

3. I recommend cooking several meals at once on a weeknight or weekend and freezing them so you don’t have to think about it each night when you get home. I’m also a huge fan of the Crockpot.

4. Let your kids help you pack their snacks and lunches the night before. The less you have to do in the morning the better.

Routine:

1. Set up a weekly routine for yourself and your family.

2. Try to keep a set meal time, homework time, bath time, bed time and play time. Even if it doesn’t happen every night, if you try to keep to a schedule, it makes your evenings and your mornings easier.

Calendar:

1. Have a family calendar (monthly or quarterly) displayed somewhere so everyone can see it easily.

2. Color code it for each family member and put everyone’s activities on it each day (try to pick one day per month for the family to sit down and fill out the calendar for the next month). Make sure the bus schedule, school activities, permission deadlines and all after school appointments are on the calendar.

3. If you prefer electronic, use a system that can sync with your spouse or kids and update it regularly.

Drop Zone:

1. Create a space near the entry of your home for your family calendar, keys, hooks for backpacks, charging station for cell phones and ipads (http://www.greatusefulstuff.com/Faux-Leather-Multi-Charging-Station-a/378.htm), baskets for shoes and a mail center.

2. Every night before bed, make sure all homework is in backpacks and all items in drop zone for the next morning.

3. This alleviates all the running around searching for stuff in the hectic morning hours.

 Organizing your kids homework:

1. Every school subject should have a color coded folder.
2. All “to-do” work should be kept on left side of folder and when it’s completed it gets moved to the right side.
3. Once a week, clean out the backpack and make sure all folders are cleaned out. (Sunday evenings are a good time for this)

 Organizing your kids room and toys:

1. Provide a place for everything: a box for school supplies, a shelf for books, a bulletin board for upcoming projects or new artwork, bins or baskets for toys and an under-bed box for old artwork and papers.

2. Each day have them do a 5 minute quick clean to put all toys and other items away.

3. All clothes should be in a hamper (if dirty) or hung in closet/ folded in dresser each day.

4. In the bathroom, they should hang up their wet towels after each shower or bath.

I hope this information helps. If you have any questions, or would like some one-on-one help, please contact Simply Organized at 404-825-2105.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For Better or For Worse – merging two households

June 12, 2013
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For Better or For Worse: Merging Two Houses into One

June is the busiest month for weddings. I just attended a beautiful wedding for two of my friends and after they return from their honeymoon, I will be helping them tackle the daunting task of moving all of the bride’s belongings into their new home (formerly his bachelor pad). If a couple can survive this process, they can make it through any other challenge that comes their way.
Step #1: Talk about your goals for this move and make a list of the “must haves” for your shared home. Your list should include the furniture that is staying or being moved, each room and its new “use” (guest room, craft room, future baby’s room, etc.), items you are willing to part with and a moving date.
Step#2: Go through the new house/ future house first to purge any items you don’t need anymore. You may have lots of new wedding gift items and can donate your older dishes, pots and pans, bedding, etc. If you find duplicate items you just can’t part with (and don’t have room for), box them up and label them for storage in an attic, basement, or under the bed.
Step #3: Use your space wisely by installing shelving, using the backs of bedroom or bathroom doors and inside kitchen cabinet doors. These are often unused areas where you can maximize space. You can also store out-of-season clothing or bulky items like comforters in Space Bags and put them under your bed.
Step #4: Go through your items in the house you are moving out of. This is the time to donate or throw away anything you have not used in 1 year. After you have purged, sort all like items together. After you can see all of your books, clothes, kitchen items, etc., it’s easier to figure out what will fit in your new space. If you still have too much stuff to fit in your new place and they are all nice items you know you will need and use in the future, rent a storage facility. I only recommend this as a last resort and only if you put a time limit on how long you will rent it. Most people find they do not need any of the items they put in a storage unit and wind up wasting money but sometimes it is unavoidable.
Step #5: Box up all items you are moving and label the boxes by the room it will be going into and items in each box. The more detailed you are about your labels, the easier it will be for you and the movers. You may not be able to unpack everything immediately, so this also helps when you are trying to find your stuff after your move. Try to keep bedroom boxes in the bedroom, kitchen items in the kitchen, etc. if you can.
Step #6: Label the rooms of your new house for the movers using post-it notes. Make the labels on your rooms the same as the labels on your boxes. For example, label one room the “master bedroom” so all boxes that say “master bedroom” will wind up in the right place. If you have items being moved to more than one place (like a storage unit), keep those items separate and label them well. Make sure the movers know so they can load them accordingly.
Step #7: Enjoy your new home and new life together!

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Clean out the Garage for Father’s Day

June 5, 2013
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Every June we celebrate Father’s Day. My Dad taught me how to clean out the garage at a young age. Now that I am a Professional Organizer, I look back and realize many of my skills were learned from my parents. This Father’s Day, clean out the garage for your Dad or better yet, let Simply Organized do it for you (we have gift certificates too).
Your goals may be to park a car or two in your garage or at least get everything off the floor. Go ahead and set your goals before you start, this will help keep you motivated to finish. No matter what your goals are, the process is the same:
Step #1: Put on some music. This will help the process go faster and be more enjoyable.
Step #2: Pull everything out of the garage (hopefully it’s a nice day). Put all “like” items together for example: all rakes and shovels in one area, all tools together and all auto cleaning supplies.
Step #3: Throw away anything that is broken or obviously unusable.
Step #4: Make a “donate” section for any of your items you have multiples of or you do not need or use anymore.
Step #5: You may have found some things that belong in the house or in a back yard shed. Put them to the side for now knowing you can put them away later. I find that if you leave the project at this point, you may get side tracked and not come back.
Step #6: If you do not have shelving or enough storage space to put your items back neat, invest in some vertical shelving units, wall cabinets or storage that hangs from your ceiling. If you purchase shelves that are not adjustable, make sure your items or storage bins are the right size to fit in the shelving (most large storage bins are 16.5 inches tall). You may also need clear plastic storage bins for your smaller items and a wall hanging unit for your yard tools. A peg board can be installed to hang your most used tools from and if you have room, a work bench/table is always a plus to have under your peg board. You can get these items at most home improvement stores.
Step #7: Most people use their garage to store other items as well like camping equipment, seasonal decorations or tables and chairs that get used a few times a year. Now would be a good time to decide if there is room in the garage for these items or if there is a better place to store them like the attic, basement or closet. If they are staying in the garage, place them on your garage shelving. Just make sure you label everything well and place items you use least up high and items you use most should be the easiest to access.
Step #8: Every item should have a “home”. All of your rakes and shovels should go together with the rest of your yard equipment either hanging from the wall vertically or in a container where they are not falling over. Place smaller items in clear plastic bins (like the auto cleaning supplies in one, shop towels, bug sprays, etc.). If you have lots of tools, they should all be together in a tool box with like items sorted by drawer or bin. Small items like screws and nails should be sorted in a box or bin with compartment dividers so they are easy to find. After everything has a home, you are done!
Step #9: Hopefully, you now have room for at least one of your cars in your garage. Pull your car in and enjoy!

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How to get your house ready to sell

May 14, 2013
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Getting your home ready to sell

This is a great time of year to sell your home. Recently, I have helped several clients to prepare their home for potential buyers. The number one thing to remember is that many buyers want their new home to be “move-in ready”. The second item buyers want is to be able to picture themselves living in your home. You do not have to spend a lot of money remodeling your entire home to achieve these goals. Here are some easy tips you can do that will help sell your home quickly and get you a higher asking price:

#1. Landscaping/ the outside: If your home doesn’t look clean and fresh on the outside, your buyer may never even see the inside. Plant some flowers, keep the lawn mowed and pressure wash anything that looks mildewed. If the front door looks old, put a fresh coat of paint on it. Also remove any items in the yard or deck that look rusted or broken.

#2. Detail clean: I recommend hiring a cleaning service and tell them you want a “detail cleaning”. Most companies will charge $100-$250 to clean your house top-to-bottom which includes blinds, fans, inside cabinets and refrigerators, ceilings, vent covers and baseboards – THE WORKS! Of course you can also clean it yourself for no money at all just some time and elbow grease.

#3. Let there be light: The lighter your home is, the warmer and more inviting it looks. Put new light bulbs in all lamps and light fixtures. Use the highest wattage you can for each fixture. Keep all windows and glass doors clean and your blinds and curtains open.

#4. De-personalize: If a buyer is going to be able to imagine themselves living in your home, it helps to not have photos of you and your family all over the house. I know it sounds strange but what if a family with four children walks into the home of someone with no children; they may think there isn’t enough space for all of their kids even if there is. Also, put away anything that shows your school or state spirit. Could a UGA fan buy a house from a Georgia Tech fan? Probably not! You don’t want to lose a buyer for any easily avoidable reason. Pack up your framed photos, your fanfare, your “collections” and anything that may be offensive. Also, remove the photos and the magnets on the fridge.

#5. Clean floors, clear shelves and open spaces: The more of the floor you can see, the better. This goes for every room but especially closets. You want the closets to have as little on the floor as possible and some space on the shelves open so they look more spacious. It is also good to have open space to walk from room to room and around furniture. You don’t want anyone having to squeeze past the dresser to get to the closet.

#6. De-clutter: Moving is the perfect time to de-clutter! If you have not used something or worn an item of clothing in 1 year, donate it. Take the time to go through your old books, papers, tools, kitchen appliances, clothing, toys, VHS and cassette tapes (you know you will never use them again) and get rid of it. If you pack these items up, you are wasting money paying someone to move them just so you can toss them later.

#7. Pack it up and store it: Anything you do not need to use for the next six months should be packed up and stored elsewhere. This includes the bread maker, the train set and the skis. Move the out-of-season clothing out of your closets so they look more spacious. If you can get a POD great, if you can’t, at least have it out of the way in a garage, storage area (like an attic) or under the bed. Use Space Bags to get the bulky comforters, sleeping bags and coats smaller so they won’t take up so much space.

#8. Touch up paint: Paint is the cheapest and easiest way to make a room look brand new. A buyer may not appreciate your love of pink and purple polk-a-dots. Try to make each room a neutral color. The whole house doesn’t have to be painted beige but you should try to stay in the gray, taupe, beige or white family. If you have holes in the walls or scratches on any doors or molding, use touch up paint or the Magic Eraser (how does Mr. Clean do it?).

#9. Decorating and staging: Less is more! You do not have to have every surface decorated or every room full of furniture. The most important rule here is every room should have one purpose (if possible). A buyer should be able to tell what the room’s purpose is easily. For example, a bedroom should not have a desk, treadmill and kitchen table in it. If a room has too much furniture in it, it looks smaller. If all the tables, dressers and mantels are covered with knick knacks and picture frames, it looks cluttered. Your home should look clean, spacious and welcoming.

Let us know if you need our help: Simply Organized 404-825-2105 or Heather@SimplyOrganizedYou.com

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Hollywood Gets Organized

April 29, 2013
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organized sign
Ever noticed how after you buy a new car you then see the same car everywhere? Well, the same can be said about starting an organizing business. I expect to see organizing shows on HGTV or read about organizing in my Real Simple magazine, but lately organizing is all over the TV and in movies!

A few weeks ago on “The Big Bang Theory”, Sheldon was ecstatic to be able to organize Howard’s closet during a dinner party. One of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” had her closet organized, on “2 Broke Girls”, Max and Caroline took a second job organizing an elderly couple’s apartment, Frankie’s sister (played by Molly Shannon) moved in on “The Middle” to help her family get organized while she was studying for exams. All of the talk show hosts’ homes have been professionally organized including Oprah, Rachel Ray and Katie Couric.

The biggest surprise to me was while watching a movie from 1976 last week. It was the first time I have ever seen this very famous Robert Di Niro movie. If you thought getting organized was a new fad, the scene from 1976 “Taxi Driver” proves it is not: Travis Bickle: I should get one of those signs that says “One of these days I’m gonna get organezized”. De Niro and Cybill Shepherd discuss his need to get his life organized and then he buys a sign and hangs it in his home to help motivate him.

If you are thinking it’s time to get organized, you are in the majority and now you know you are part of a movement that’s been popular for decades, even among the stars and elite in Hollywood.

Contact me when you are ready to get started: Heather@Simplyorganizedyou.com or 404-825-2105

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Time to change the closets

April 13, 2013
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Clothes

It is April in Georgia so we have already hit 80 degrees and everything outside is coated with a thick layer of yellow pollen.  I love Spring time when everything blooms and is so beautiful.  I also love to get out my Spring and Summer clothes (it’s like Christmas).  Unless you have a closet and dresser large enough to fit a whole year’s wardrobe, it’s time to change your closets!

Hopefully, you have all of your out-of-season clothes bagged or boxed up and labeled so they are easy to find and don’t have to be re-washed. If you don’t, that’s your tip for what to do with the Fall and Winter clothes you are about to go through and put away.

Step 1: Go through your hanging clothes and dresser and decide if they all need to be stored for the Summer or if you can part with some sweaters and jeans that don’t fit, have holes or you have not worn them all year.

Step 2: Bag up the items you will not wear again to take for donation.

Step 3: If you really think something may fit next year (but did not this year) put it in it’s own box and label it by the size and year for storage.

Step 4: All clothing you will definitely wear again in the Fall goes in a water and dust proof (plastic) bin or box labeled “Fall 2013”. If you are tight on storage space, try Space Bags or under bed bags or bins and store them under your bed or in the top of your closet.

Step 5: Get out your Spring/ Summer clothes. Make sure they fit, are clean and you ant to wear each item (if in doubt – DONATE).

Step 6: Hang all of your clothes in your closet sorted by type and color or folded in your dresser by type and color (all t-shirts together, all shorts, work clothes, etc.)

Step 7: Enjoy the next 6 months of warm weather!

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Tax prep 101

April 13, 2013
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Accordion fileSo another year and another April 15th deadline. We all dread tax time because we have to gather lots of paperwork, documentation, receipts, etc. together and try to do our own taxes or give our information to an expert to do them for us. It’s not only time consuming but can also be confusing especially if you’ve had a big life change like a move, marriage, child or divorce. Do yourself a favor for 2014 and start now!

Print out a checklist from your tax prep software or your CPA as a guide for what you will need to have next year.

Go out and buy an accordion file. You can get them anywhere they sell office or school supplies. I recommend the hearty plastic kind with the closure. There should be 8-12 tabs inside; label the tabs with your personal tax items ex.: charitable donations, mortgage, medical, insurance, auto, etc.

Every time you get a receipt that is tax deductible or pertinent to your taxes, put it in the accordion file according to it’s topic. At the end of the year, you will not need to do anything else except total the receipts in each tab. Walla – magic – no more stress about tax time.

If you have lots of paper work, I suggest a quarterly accordion file or totalling your receipts quarterly. Put a date once per quarter on your calendar and spend an hour taking care of this. Again, this will take 4 hours during a year’s time instead of countless hours close to your tax filing deadline.

In march of 2014, you won’t be frantically looking for documents or trying to convince your CPA to take a huge box of jumbled crumpled papers. This will save you time and money!

Happy April 15th!

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Sites with great organizing and storage ideas (and photos)

February 15, 2013
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craft armoirEvery time I speak to a group, they ask for before and after photos. There are a couple of reasons I do not have many of those to show: 1. I forget to take them 2. My clients do not want anyone to see their “before” photos 3. The quality of the photo is awful. What I do instead is show bad, fuzzy, blown – up copies of photos from my Pintrest and Houzz sites. Let’s remedy this issue by going to my site links and seeing the good versions of these great organizing and storage ideas.

http://pinterest.com/simplyorgyou/unique-storage-ideas/
http://pinterest.com/simplyorgyou/organized/
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/6383602/thumbs/simplyorganizedyou-s-ideas

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