disorder2order blog

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

3 things to do before the new year...

My favorite day of the year will always be December 31st. There is something so exciting about knowing that the next time I wake up, it will be a brand new year. 

I love December 31st, not just because it's the last day of the year - but because there are 3 specific tasks that I tackle on that day. 

I can always count on December 31st to accomplish these few simple, yet important tasks. It's probably not a big deal to you - but to me it's what keeps our family organized. Often taking me anywhere from 2-3 hours of my day but so worth the time spent! Want to know what they are?

New Computer Files: It usually takes me about 30-40 minutes, but I take the time to create new file folders and/or documents for the new year. I review my current files on my computer, updating dates or creating an updated version of each document. If I have annual folders (i.e. photo files), I create the new folder so I'm all set to go when the year arrives. Taking care and organizing your computer files (Simply Fabulous Tips) is as important as your paper files... imagine never cleaning out a paper folder... ever. Leah over at Simply Fabulous Living has some great tips on how to get that done...

Purge Paper Files: My favorite task of all. This usually takes me about 60 minutes (I like to reminisce about the past year... things we purchased, trips we took...) while I sit on the floor, put on Pandora and sort through the paper files. We organize our files by month; so it's usually the 12 monthly folders plus a few miscellaneous files (i.e taxes, insurance, house papers etc.). I pull out each folder, sorting out important documents, memorabilia items I want to keep such as birthday cards or notes and things to toss. Piles look like: keep, shred, toss. All the files get put back into the drawer, empty and ready for the new year.

Shred. Shred. Shred: This task speaks for itself - I shred it all taking anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on the pile. Still listening to Pandora I sit until it's done. Usually, we add the shredded paper into the compost bin (assuming it's all just paper) to get a little extra something out of that useless paper.

For me, starting the year off with a clean file drawer and my computer documents ready to go is worth every minute. Here are a few inspiring new year posts that I have enjoyed... Ellen Faye: Set yourself up for 2013, Aby Garvey: 3 questions to achieve your goals, and The Organising Queen: My year end goal process. Enjoy!

What do you like to have done before the new year begins?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

5 secrets to meal planning

It's not a secret that I am a little obsessed with meal planning. If you ask anyone in my family - at some point on any given Sunday, you will find me curled up with my schedule, grocery circular and menu list planning out our next two weeks of meals. It's become a simple habit that is as natural as brushing my teeth or doing my laundry. 

Now, I will tell you that you have to dedicate some time to this process. It's taken me the better part of 3-4 years to perfect my system - but for me, it works! Some people have to plan for health reasons (Plan to Eat), to loose weight (Skinny Mom's Kitchen) and some plan just because (What's For Dinner?)... For me, it helped me to find a balance between time, money and sanity...

1. Have a Meal List. About a year ago, I created a list of our favorite meals. Every time we try a new meal and we like it, it gets added to the list. You will never have to wonder what to cook or what the family likes. Having a list of the meals the family likes saves you time!

2. Shop the Ad + the Pantry + the Fridge. Always start with the things you have, the things that are on sale and then go from there. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how quickly your week will fill up when you start with the basics. Shopping before you actually hit the store will always save you money!

3. Use Your Schedule. When planning, ALWAYS know what your schedule is. If you are working late, have a busy day and know you need an easy meal... account for that in your planning. Document your meal plan on a family calendar so that you don't get asked 10 times that day "What's for Dinner?" Planning your meal time will hands down - save you time!

4. 3+1+1+1+1=7. I try to incorporate the following routine into our week: 3 White Meat meals + 1 Meatless+ 1 Red Meat + 1 Casserole + 1 New Recipe. Again, simplify the process by making the choices easier and ultimately save you time during the planning process.

5. For Goodness Sakes - Make a List! Without a list, it's virtually impossible for me to know what you need. It's an opportunity for overspending, impulse shopping and wasteful purchases. Do I need to say that this will save you money

Need list help? Check out ListPlanIt or the many apps available for your portable device. 

Still stuck? Post your questions in the comments happy to help! Happy planning!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Me and my planner... a love story!

Let's take a walk down memory lane shall we...

Do you remember the days of the Palm Pilot Professional? For me, this was the ultimate time management tool. I would sync my calendar, contacts and tasks with my computer; and my little device would track where I needed to be and what I needed to do each minute of the day. I had every contact phone number, address, and birth dates all at my finger tips. I was a directory of information for myself and the people in my life.

Then, my whole life changed. I had children. My time management system no longer worked. Instead of tracking meetings and social events I was coordinating play dates, doctor appointments and grocery lists. I was struggling (i.e. things were missed, and/or forgotten). The Palm no longer fit into my life.... We had to break up.

As my kids got older, and my work schedule increased; so did the demands of our schedules. Now... here's where the problem solver in me kicked in....

As an early "tech" savvy user, I felt clearly that I needed a smart phone for my calendar/contact (this was of course pre-iApple days), but at that time I could not justify the cost. Also to consider, I have always been a list maker and liked writing things down - it's a little cumbersome at times, but I remember things when I write them down. So clearly, I need to research a new planning system.

Enter the MomAgenda... I quickly found myself in love with this planner. It had the right amount of space to track my many activities (and my families) as well as keep a quick reference of contact information and my weekly tasks. Paper and I are like old friends. We love each other and will never fail! Perfect. Right? 

This worked well for a while, but I have to admit, I was getting tired of carrying over various pieces of information from planner to planner. There had to be a better solution...

Lets flash forward to about 2011 when Apple entered into my life (yes it took me that long and no, I still don't have a smart phone)... when I decided to invest in an iPad! My whole life changed. 

I felt (and still feel like) that my time and life are finally at one with my universe. I have integrated my calendar/contacts back into my computer/tablet. No more transferring information from year to year.  

I still use a pen and paper for my tasks and that's a perfect fit for me. It keeps my on track (remember, when I write things down I can better remember things) and I get great satisfaction from crossing things off my list.

So you see... the moral of the story is that nothing lasts forever, but things that work always stick!

So please tell me... what works best for you?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The A-Z's of dealing with Email

This was an article I posted on CWAHM.com [shout out to Jill] a few years back...I thought it prudent to share again! Email is one of those things that need to be managed... enjoy!

Email management can be overwhelming for everyone. Some people get as many as one hundred emails each day, while others may only get ten or twenty.  Either way, keeping it all organized and in working order may not be on the top of the “organization” list. It’s easier just to close the program and deal with it tomorrow.

I was reading some statistics online and Tim Burress, author of the Hamster Revolution, states that “On average, a professional today spends about two and a half to three hours a day, every single day on e-mail. We spend about forty percent of our day processing, handling, filing, storing, creating, reading, and writing e-mail. That's almost fifty percent of the day.”

Here is an A-Z guide on how you can be more organized and efficient with your email. It might be one simple step that can give you more time for work or family.

Address book or contact files can take time to set up, but will be a time saver in the long run.  You can track more than just an email address when you use the address book or contacts feature.
Be sure to take a moment to customize your toolbars. Almost all programs will allow you to add and delete quick function buttons from the toolbars. This can really speed up your processing of email.
Create folders for saved messages. Your inbox is just that, an inbox. If you have emails that you want to save, create a subfolder for your saved items.
Delete when completed! Emails that come into your inbox either require an action or response. Once you have completed the request be sure to hit delete!
Empty your in box each day. When you close your email for the day, your inbox should be empty.
Follow up within 24 business hours. It’s a good business practice to reply, even if you don’t have the answers, just acknowledging that you received the message shows good organization.
Goal setting can become a little simpler by using your completed task list items. It’s easy to set goals when you see what you have accomplished.
Help button does actually help! If you are stuck, always check HELP to see if the answer is there.
Interruptions can be managed by turning off or changing your notification settings when emails arrive.
Junk mail can be filtered on almost any email service.
Keep and Toss applies to emails as well as our stuff. Be sure to get rid of unwanted or unused emails, it’s still clutter.
Learn the program. If you are using email, take the time to learn how it works and what features might help you.
Maintenance on your email files is just as important as managing your stuff. Setting up regular reminders to manage tasks
Never substitute email for a conversation. It’s easy to hide behind the screen and not address business situations in person. Remember that people always like the personal touch.
Open emails from people you trust! Always be aware of who is sending you messages.
Putting off simple tasks takes more time to manage in the long run. Things like setting reminders, quick responses only take a few seconds. Do the simple tasks now!
Quick review of emails can be done through a reading pane without having to open each message when it arrives.
 Reply all can be a dangerous feature. Always be aware of who your message is going to before you hit send.
Sizes of emails do matter. Remember that the more emails you have in your inbox or deleted folders slow your pc down.
Task lists can be created in just about any email program. Tasks can be reminders or action items. Use your signature line as a means to advertise Very helpful tools are distribution lists. If you have a group of people that you email on a regular basis, create a distribution list. Write emails as if you are writing a letter, using both upper and lower case means something in email. For example, if you use only caps it can be interpreted as yelling. eXamine the processes you are taking when using email. If you feel like there is an easier way, there probably is, use the tools. You’re in charge. Setting limits to the amount of time you spend on email allows you to enjoy other things. Zero in your publication list to the things you actually will read. We often subscribe to so many things that we “think” we will read, but if you aren’t reading it… unsubscribe!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Why reminders and gratitude are like peas and carrots...

If you follow me on Facebook, you will notice that I'm 'trying' to post each day something that I am grateful for. 

For me, it's a opportunity to reflect on the many blessings in my life, a time to reflect on the many things that I have had the opportunity to enjoy...

Taking time, even just a minute, each day to think about my blessings serves as a reminder to so many things. We use reminders everyday... that tiny voice in our head reminding us to make a phone call, a sticky note on the fridge to remember the milk. Reminders, are a great way to getting things done and be a little more organized.

As I get older, I'm 'reminded' that I struggle more with remembering things. My memory isn't as good as it used to be; and if I don't offer myself help or use a support system - then I just won't remember.  Although I'm an organizer I still have to work just as hard as you do to keep it all together...

Here are 5 things you can try to help you with reminders:
  1. Pen and paper (personally I like a post-it's) is what I enjoy for remembering a task
  2. Calendar alarms/reminders in you mobile device or tablet
  3. Apps are a current trend: Remember the milk, Springpad and for all the Google fans Google + task lists are just a few I have used
  4. Family calendars (Cozi online or check out etsy ideas) can be a central system within your home to organize your thoughts and/or tasks
  5. Voice mail or text messages are a wonderful way to be reminded of specific things
If we don't remember, we don't know what we forgot. 

I find that when I remember to do something (and it actually gets done), I have a sense of accomplishment and gratitude. Today, I am grateful for remembering to do my blog post... they go together like peas and carrots.


"Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting." - Author Unknown

*Photo found on The Modern Nomad

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Everything in 3's....

Do you ever notice how most everything is recommended in 3's? 

We've got the 3-R's (reduce, reuse, recycle), hang pictures in groups of 3, I'm the youngest of 3 girls... There is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to the "Rule of 3" theory. It's interesting when you put this into a context that makes sense... What would happen if we applied this theory to getting organized?

3 Tasks to...
3 Minutes to... 
3 Boxes... 
3 Steps to....
3 Actions for... 

3 Files...
3 Hours will...

Look... I even used three "..." in my example.If you can subscribe to the idea of "3's; consider applying that into getting organized. Pick one of these strategies and see what it can do. 

3 Tasks to... get done today.
3 Minutes to... deal with my emails.
3 Boxes...  to sort today.
3 Steps to.... organizing my closet.
3 Actions for... organizing a project.

3 Files... to clean out today.
3 Hours will... be dedicated to office work
Last year (I know... it's taken me a while) I read a ViewPoint from Maggie Fox, CEO of Social Media Group. She was quoted in INC Magazine stating "If you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities." For some reason that stuck with me. It made me think how if we could only prioritize 3 things each day, we might actually get things done. We might actually feel like we can accomplish what we set out to do...

Today, here is my list:
Finish my newsletter [check] , write a blog post [check] and go for a run [leaving in 20 minutes... check]. 

Wow... I feel better already. What's on your priority list today?

Other blog posts on organizing in 3's: The Organized Wife, 
3 ways to organize your closet, and organize kids

Friday, March 29, 2013

Are you productive at work?

I love the Simple List in Real Simple Magazine. They always have such helpful reminders. Last year, I clipped this statistic and I wonder if it's really true:

New Technology, Work and Employment did a study that showed  that workers are 9% more productive if they take short internet breaks (say to check Facebook or read the news) than employees that just work work work through the day. The psychologist that did the study summarized that online breaks restore mental capacity which boosts effectiveness.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2 ways to get yourself motivated

The feeling you get when you've completed something is like no other. The exhilaration of completion... when a project is done, checked off your list or maybe you organized something that was disorganized.

You might be wondering, why is this such an obstacle? Why is it so difficult to get organized? Well, in my opinion, the problem is not about it being hard. The problem is really about motivation. 

Think about weight loss. It's the same thing! We all know we need to loose 10 more pounds. We know we need to eat the right kinds of foods, get a certain amount of exercise, but yet we still order pizza on Friday night and miss our morning workout class because we are tired.

In my opinion, the problem always seems to lie in motivation. I don't have time, it's not important enough, I have other things to do etc., etc. We have these conversations in our heads and the bottom line is that we just aren't motivated  to make "it" important. Finding your motivation or your "sweet spot" might be a little easier than you think. Here are a couple ways I find my own motivation:

Small Bites: sometimes just doing a small action can make a bigger thing seem slightly easier. Breaking down tasks into smaller more manageable steps might give you those little 'bites' of success to keep your momentum moving forward!

Pair It Up: if there are things you know you need to do, but hate doing them. I find that pairing them up with something I enjoy makes the "UN-enjoyable" easier. Cleaning out my closet is one thing I hate to do, but I always like the feeling I get when all my cloths are clean and the laundry is done and put away. So I tackle an extra section of my closet when dealing with laundry. An extra 5 minutes can go a long way in my closet. (Yes, you heard me. My closet is always a mess)

As Michael Jordan has said, I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying! So be like Mike and give it a try!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Over the hump and through the woods

I almost have to laugh a little... If you follow my blog (thank you by the way), and are seeing this post you must be thinking... "where the heck has she been for the last year?

Well, I'm not going to tell you... it's too long of a story and quite frankly, not very exciting. I've been starring at this last post for the better part of 13 months saying to myself... I need get a new post up on my blog. It just hasn't happened. 

Do you find yourself feeling the same way... maybe about something else in your life? 

pro·cras·ti·na·tion will get the best of you. If you put things off too long, you start to feel this sense of failure for what you haven't done; or maybe you start feeling depressed because you just "should" be able to get at what you said you would do. I always say to my clients... "don't should on yourself!"

What I am going to tell you is that you can do it! Take the leap and make a step, even if its just a small step. Take it! 

By writing this post, I've gotten over the hump. Who knows, you might find it isn't so scary.

Here's to a new day!