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Brushing Up Your Routines: How to Stop Chores From Growing Into Huge Projects


Being organized and staying organized might seem unfeasible in a busy household, but if you can distinguish a chore from a non-negotiable routine, you will be surprised with the time-saving results. When we change the way we think about our routines, maintaining our “busy” lives can be more manageable.

Approach home-life organization as you would your personal hygiene.  Do you shower daily?  Do you brush your teeth every morning and at bedtime? I think we can all agree that these are two things we do routinely every day.  It’s not only a healthy practice, it’s a dedicated daily ritual, right?  We find the time to make sure it happens.

Everything else we want to do in a single day spills onto some grandiose list for each of us to do, which sometimes never gets done at all.

I’ve coined the brush your teeth model as the guideline to help my client’s manage their life-organization. Brushing your teeth is not something you schedule, it is something that you just do.  Even moreso, these two times of day punctuate both the start and finish of any given day. So why not use this model as a consistent reminder to check in with yourself? It’s that rare time that you must stop and pause, at the beginning and end of your day. Here’s how to take advantage of this ritual;

1. In the morning, brush your teeth and brush up your productivity.  

Use this time to do one thing that will make your “later” easier.  This should only take you 5-10 minutes. Add this wiggle room into your your designated morning routine every single day. Maybe throw in the laundry, empty the sink, load or unload the dishwasher. Clear a counter. Pre-sort the mail in categories to save you time later.  Set the table for dinner.  Perhaps keep an empty bin handy, and do a quick sweep in the den. Return items back to their designated homes or just corral them in the bin to clear spaces. Deconstructing these annoying chores to a day-to-day practice will prevent them from accumulating into a bigger weekly chore.

The reality is that when neglected daily, these chores can mount into way bigger projects.  Paper piles grow taller, busy hubs become too cluttered, dirty dishes litter sinks, and hampers get overflown with an insurmountable of laundry.

When to-do’s get too big, they are simply not approachable. You’d be surprised how a cluster of just 15 minutes of preparation can ultimately save you exponential time later. Jump starting the task can be very effective.

2. In the evening,  brush your teeth and brush away tomorrow’s potential mistakes.

Before you go to bed, sync your schedule and calendars so they align. So often, we jot down appointments on scribbled notes, put reminders on our phones, but fail to write it down on our paper or virtual calendars.  Too often, important dates fall through the cracks and we miss important events and appointments.  This is great opportunity to organize the next day. Collect your thoughts, write down a doable plan for the day. Maybe a plan for the week is too big.  Keep it simple. Think about what has to get done tomorrow. Trust me, you will sleep more soundly knowing exactly what the next day will look like.

No doubt, maintaining a busy household and lifestyle requires attention.  It cannot and will not run smoothly all by itself.  Sustainable organization can be achieved with just a small change of a dedicated routine. Find the time to tend to your home, schedule, and things, as you would to brush your teeth. It’s as imperative. A healthy life-balance requires it.

Brushing up on these skills every morning and every night will keep things under control.  Consider breaking down some of your weekly chores into daily routines, it will improve your life in countless ways.

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April Ahhs…How The Enchantment Drives Productivity

hikingAlthough the temps are still vacillating from unseasonably cold to mildly normal, I think it’s safe to say that Spring has finally sprung.  Gone are the forecasts of snow and sleet. As we gradually accept the warmth and sunshine of recent days, we can sense the internal shift within us.

I’m not suggesting that Spring has magical powers but one would have to admit that it does cause somewhat of a spellbound effect. Beyond its glorious bloom, it has a strong and compelling influence on our mental attitude. Most of us have been stuck inside this past winter, we are all yearning to get out and do.  Anything.  Even a mundane errand seems joyful.  So aside from the noticeably longer lines at the car wash, what does this all mean?

This might just be the kick in the butt we needed. Change is good.

We are so ready to shift into action and squelch procrastination.  I write often about weather as a strong influencer and this particular cycle seems to emit such powerful motivation.  Inclement weather is no longer sabotaging our to-do’s. The change in weather boosts our morale and more importantly, heightens our productivity.

Spring urges us to spring forward, with a more positive bounce to our step.  We feel inspired by the new landscape that’s shifting before our eyes.  Flowers will be blooming and lawns will be turning greener.  You can sense movement and shift with the obvious external changes.  This feeling can likely discourage the ‘lazy’ in us, don’t you think? Fewer of us will opt to sit on the couch inside when a gorgeous sunny day is begging for our attention.

The thought of putting away winter sweaters and buying ‘spring things’ is so enticing, isn’t it? Perhaps even swapping out your wardrobes will inspire you to re-organize your closets and ignite the spring cleaning process… everywhere. Embrace the endless opportunities and possibilities that this new season prompts.

Whether you feel inclined to bike, hike, or start a new project, this is the perfect setting and time to do so. Spring into action!

So are you tapping into the shift?  Are you ready to do?

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Check Your Home Settings: Are You Running Out of Space ?

outside clutter_optWhether it be in our homes or on our smart phones, it seems that we are constantly vying for MORE space.  Our virtual space is easier to manage by merely increasing our megabyte storage to gigabyte, or even storing data to the Cloud. Ah, thank G-d for the cloud. There’s infinite space up there.  More importantly, there’s no pain and no heart wrenching decisions to make.

But the reality is that we do have finite spaces in our homes.  We live in an over-acquired society and without a practical exit strategy for our undesirables, we are in danger of running out of space.  We fill our attics, basements, and garages with overflow, and when those spaces are maxed out, many even resort to storage units to accommodate their overabundant spillover.

While purchasing storage units are certainly a vial option for specific situations, it’s not the ultimate fix.  If their sole purpose is the result of decisions not made on unused items, then there will be no end to the amount of units to manage. Entering dangerous territory, for sure.  More often than not, I’ve met many paying clients that have no idea what items are living in their storage facility, or have never needed to access their contents. Ever.

When we consider maintaining our things within the confines of our home, there is work to be done for sure. Busy households are crowded with multiple people and activities, and must accommodate many diverse possessions.  All the more reason that managing the incoming and outgoing be paramount. Failure to discard old, broken, or unused items will only result in untamable cluttered spaces.

You may not realize this right away, it accumulates very slowly. Suddenly, one day you look around and are overwhelmed and not quite sure how you lost control, right?

When lack of time marries procrastination, it’s a perilous combination.  All the while,  the unattended stuff  (that rarely returns to their home) accumulates.  The mounds of paper piles grow taller, and the new and preferred incoming items barricade the old.

But there is a bigger picture here.  The challenge is more about managing your spaces, not at all to do with the size of your home. When “busy” encounters “not today,”  you can run out of room very quickly even in the largest of homes.

Ultimately it’s rarely about the space at all, it’s more about the “relationship” with your things and the ability to let them go.

If you’re yearning for a more serene setting in your home, consider applying these very basic principles to your thought process.  It may evoke change.  Without this call to action, your personal spaces will potentially remain cluttered and be at risk for overwhelming your life.

No doubt, negotiating things and space will require some challenging decisions.  The hard-hearted may have an easier time; others may need to enlist help with these methods.  To reclaim your spaces, you’ll first need to clear space.  Here’s how:

  • One in, one out. (limit multiples)
  • Use it or lose it. (toss or donate what no longer provides you with value)
  • Keep only the items you use and love.
  • Identify the most active spaces in your home. Designate and discriminate what appropriate items and activities align with those spaces.
  • Consider the zones. Create specific homes for like categories.  Tame the clutter routinely.


We all aspire for a Home Sweet Home setting.  Making our home a place of sanctuary is very achievable.  We must remember that it’s an ongoing process and requires maintenance and family cooperation.

Look around.  What do your spaces look like?  No need for push notifications, reminders,  or alerts.  You will know.  If it feels crowded, then it probably is. This could be the wake-up call you needed to smack you in the face.

Now you’re ready to ask yourself,  is it time to change your settings?



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The Stuckness of Winter: Is Your Productivity in Danger?

snowed inAnother winter storm, another snow day.  Home. Again.  Most of us are thrilled to have a day off and more importantly, most of us need one.  But after continual blizzards and hazardous road conditions, many of us find ourselves stuck in our homes.

Some are lucky to be able to work from home, but too many are victims of mass transit nightmares and are unable to get to where they need to go.   In either case, both work days and office hours are shifting and cancelled appointments require re-scheduling.  Parents of school-aged children are dealing with delayed school openings and early dismissals. Everything is out of whack.  Winter weather advisories are our new normal.  Our new “busy” is about managing and adjusting our daily routines to fit.

Snowstorms interrupt our routines and can often impact our productivity both IN and OUT of the house.  

At first, the reaction is utter glee, right?  Hunker down with abundant food, snacks, and DVDs and cuddle on the couch with no concrete agenda other than taking a nap.  But after a while, cabin fever can get old.  We can get increasingly bored, lazy, or even depressed.  Winter doldrums can be paralyzing and likely to promote some bone cracking procrastination.

In theory, we could think about this “stuckness” as an opportunity to be more productive around the house, but how many of us actually do? How about cleaning out that spare bedroom or re-organize the messy coat closet? Maybe tomorrow.  The truth is that a call to action is so very difficult when procrastination is flirting. Lazy tends to beget lazy, especially this time of year.

Stop. Flip the thought. Consider framing this confinement in a more positive light. If you are indeed captive in your home,  why not focus on the inside?  Watching TV and reading are great but designating a time to work on a neglected “inside” job can be equally rewarding too.  Look around and find one project that you can work on.  The hardest part is the actual doing, so start small.

One simple call to action will surprise you and it just might ignite your productivity. Imagine the satisfaction of accomplishing one small task you’ve been avoiding. We never seem to have enough time, right?  So if you’re stuck in, you’ve got lots of extra time. Here’s some inspiration to;

  • Catch up on the laundry.
  • Organize the scattered shoes and dirty snow boots. Create a zone for them.
  • Clear countertops.
  • Sort mail.  Separate bills to be paid.  Organize your coupons.
  • Empty or load the dishwasher.
  • Return phone calls you never have time for.
  • Empty a messy drawer or closet. Toss the clutter and create an exit strategy for the donatables.


One thing for sure, when Spring rolls around, we will undoubtedly want to embrace the outdoors more than we will want to organize a drawer.  So jump in and simply do. If you schedule it to happen,  it will likely get done.

For me, icy roads and cancelled appointments are keeping me in today.  I’m inspired to write, and pushing myself to organize my office and files (and yes, my desk needs organizing too). 🙂

Hoping to inspire you today to get motivated and get ready. There’s another winter snowstorm coming this week.  Winter is far from over.  Let’s fight the winter blues together and get busy doing.

Don’t let Winter plow away your productivity.  Call to action.  You IN or OUT?



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The Power of Praise

cheerleaders_opt-1Everyone needs a cheerleader now and then. Who doesn’t love a compliment? We all respond well when we are told we look great, or we’re doing a great job. We feel validated. Make no mistake about it, “flattery gets you everywhere,” because it feeds our productivity and nourishes our success.

In fact, the casual “pat on the back” often provides us with the significant encouragement to fuel us towards reaching our goals sooner, more than later. Even the smallest acknowledgment can make the greatest difference in someone’s self esteem, thereby building self-confidence and impacting personal productivity.  Do not underestimate the power of praise.

As Organizing specialists, we can identify the key obstacles that cause our clients to feel “stuck.” While the analytics may reveal obvious shades of poor time-management, insufficient space, procrastination, fear of failure, etc., they are not the only culprits.

There is one more piece to consider.  The big “S” word, i.e. Support, or lack there of. This is a huge component of motivation and decision-making.  Whether it be a Professional, friend, or family member, sometimes just having someone standing by your side can inspire you to get “unstuck.”   When someone is rooting you on, it not only encourages you to do well, it propels you forward to even greater heights.  Ask any marathon runner who crosses a finish line, or any athlete who relies on their fans to cheer them to victory.  Everyone performs better with an active fan base and supportive audience.

At a recent NAPO Conference this year, Psychologist Dr. Ari Tuckman shared specific strategies to help increase a person’s motivation.  He suggests that if we cheerlead bits of progress, it can have a huge impact on a person’s motivation to succeed. Very powerful thinking.  Good therapy and coaching are super effective for this specific reason. Likewise, my role as a Professional Organizer not only embodies a facilitator of change, it also includes my being 100% cheerleader for my client.  For me, it cannot be separated, it is one in the same.

So ask yourself, do you have a personal cheerleader?  When you’re down, stuck, or overwhelmed, having positive backup could be a game changer. Get the support and help when you need it. Don’t go it alone.  You shouldn’t have to.

Gimmie a Y…

Gimmie a O…

Gimmie a U…


Whatever you’re doing, keep up the good work.  Keep going, you can do it!  The power of praise can be pretty powerful. Do you have a personal cheering squad that has made a difference in your life? Do you think that having someone “champion” your endeavors impacts your motivation?  Even if YOU believe in YOU, it feels good to know others do too.

Perhaps you never thought about it before, but I invite you to now…and continue to motivate some more conversation. I believe you can.

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What’s All the Fuss About Organizing?

Everyone’s talking about it.  Reality TV shows like Hoarders, Enough Already, and Buried Alive are turning heads while revealing the challenges of chronic disorder. This media exposure has given us all an opportunity to look more introspectively into our own lives. While most of these stories are extreme cases, so many more of us still struggle with normal levels of day to day organization.

I know what you must be thinking. You haven’t got the TIME .  I get it.  No doubt, we are all so busy with our lives; our schedules are hectic, our relationships are complex, our jobs are stressful, and the one commodity we all lack is the overabundance of FREE time. And when we finally find some leisure time, we certainly don’t want to spend it cleaning and sorting our stuff. Let’s face it, not only do we all own way too much stuff,  we have too much stuff to do, and little time to do it in!

We have an influx of paper coming into our homes at rapid speed, without ample time to sort or trash. We have bills past due, magazines unread, clothes galore (neither cleaned, folded, or found) There are pens that don’t write, projects that never get finished, garages that no longer accommodate our cars, consistently lost or misplaced items, and a vast collection of seldom watched CD’s and DVD’s that are climbing up our walls, etc. You and I both know that this list could go on forever. So what do we do? We do what any other average person would do; we continue to put things off for LATER.  But here’s the thing…putting things off for LATER just creates a million tomorrows that keep mounting into an overwhelming and fruitless situation. Procrastination is paralyzing and exhausting.

Make the time. Create more time to do the things you want to do, not have to do. Don’t you deserve that?

If your “TO DO”  list is growing and being neglected, chances are its filling your head with needless clutter, and impeding on your functionality. The solution is simple: Time-management.  Organization is the most vital tool we have to manage our daily lives. It nourishes our productivity in both our personal and professional lives.

Being organized is the best way to maintain balance and order in our daily lives, while providing a more efficient and functional landscape for our ENTIRE life. More importantly, an ORGANIZED life is a more fulfilling one.  It will reduce the day–to-day stress, and give us more time to enjoy our life and our family!

So if getting organized is the latest rage, don’t you want to join in all the fuss? Jump in. Be trendy.




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How Some Skillful Time-management Can Obliterate Overwhelm: The 4 Step Plan

Being overwhelmed about anything can be paralyzing.  If a project looms too large, it’s far easier to ignore it and avoid it, than tackle it.  The best tool we have to manage this state of procrastination is the power and control we get from organization. It is our only defense against all odds because it cajoles us into taking that first step. Any plan is an incentive to be productive.

While the big picture of any situation is often clarifying, it can be equally daunting.  Goal setting is a powerful technique but without the proper tools of how to get there, one can easily get discouraged, overwhelmed, and lost in despair.

How you utilize and your organize your time is critical.  These are some effective tools you can use to guide you through any personal project; large or small, at home or in the office.

    • Organize:  Create a list of similar goals so that once immersed, you won’t have to task switch and you can remain in a productive zone.  Group tasks in the same room and avoid zigzagging all over the place.
    • Prioritize:  Once you’ve organized your to do’s, you will be able to prioritize what is most important.  Setting goals will help you to accomplish them.  Identify the highest priority and attack.
    • Focus:  Select a time period for stop and start, and stick to these strict parameters.  Do not deviate from the task.  Work on one project or task at a time, for an uninterrupted block of time (even if it’s only 30 minutes). Avoid thinking about the big picture for now and focus on what’s immediately in front of you.  Do not be overly ambitious with your expectations. Keep your goals realistic for the time period you’ve set aside.  Feeling a sense of accomplishment after each block of time will probably fuel your drive to complete the project. The closer you get to your goal, the more encouraged you will be to continue.  Be kind to yourself, don’t take on too much. Just remember, if you break down chores into manageable steps, you will eventually fulfill them.
    • Systemize:  Establish a routine so you can consistently schedule your tasks and create a good work flow. This could be daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the task at hand.  Carving out time in your day on a consistent basis will maintain your productivity level.  When you schedule, you are prepared to commit to the process and its completion.


No matter the scope of the project, it is a necessity to organize it first, in order to accomplish it.  It doesn’t matter if you’re cleaning out a closet or creating a new filing system. Manage your time wisely and you can achieve anything.

Create a strategy.  Think it through.  Take a breath.  Make a plan.  Are you ready?  On your mark, get set, GO!






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Why Uncertainty Can Clutter Your Home

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is make a decision.  When a choice becomes complicated and too difficult, we often just delay making any.  You’d rather think about it or handle it…tomorrow.  Procrastination is always the easiest option, but indeed the most dangerous.  For instance, if you can’t decide where something goes and you just put it anywhere, and you do that every day, you will be faced with overwhelming piles of things everywhere. If you have no specific place for the incoming mail to land, it will find it’s way onto every horizontal counter and pile into frightening paper towers. It’s a potential nightmare that can be paralyzing.  Lack of decision-making  is a perfect storm for not only inviting clutter but feeding it.

We are all guilty now and then of throwing a jacket over a chair, tossing an unread magazine or newspaper on a counter top, or using the staircase to deposit an eventual  journey upstairs. These scenarios are very common when we simply lack the time to put things back in their proper places.  But eventually, if they have specific places where they belong, they ultimately can return to their home with little duress.  Easy and doable.

The problems arise when you don’t have designated places for specific things. You must decide where your things land. And if you marry lack of decision-making with lack of time, you’ve got a full blown crisis on your hand. Clutter thrives when you have no organizational systems in motion. Anywhere is not a place.  Create a home for all your things.  Pick a consistent place for the mail to land, keys to hang, laundry to drop, and the grab and go to live, so you can always find them when you need to.

Decide to decide…any decision is better than NO decision.  What do you think? Can you decide?

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