4 Ways to Streamline Email

4 ways to streamline email title

4 Ways to Streamline Email

Are you bothered by an overflowing email inbox?  Many people are overwhelmed by too much e-mail that is unread, unsorted and chaotic.  The organizational system of your email inbox should be as unique as you are.  The way you arrange your email depends on your learning style, the way you process information, and of the type and number of emails you are working with.  Here are 4 ways to streamline your e-mail processing.

1. Folders

Think about the big categories of email information you receive.  Create inbox folders based on these categories.  Remember folders are called “labels” in gmail and “mailboxes” in Outlook & Apple mail.  Don’t make too may folders at first, start with general categories, and if that works well, you can create more.

For example, for a business, you may want broad categories like “Finance,” “Vendors,” “Clients,” & “Marketing”.  For a home email, you may want categories like “Bills to Pay,” “School Information,” “Family,” & “Volunteer Activities”.

When deciding where to store an e-mail, and whether not to keep it, first ask yourself, “Am I going to reference this in the future?”  If so, “What folder is most appropriate?”

2. Filters & Rules

Take advantage of the filters and rules available through your email client.  When messages come into your inbox, they eat up your time, so by establishing filters and rules, you will save time checking, deleting and moving email messages around.  For example, if you receive many ads or coupons from stores, create an “Ads” folder and then set up rules to send all email from those vendors directly to the “Ads” folder.  This rule will keep your inbox clear, and then you can check that folder when you’re ready to shop.

3. Unsubscribe

Unsubscribe from as many email ads, newsletters and other information that you do not need regularly to help clear your inbox. You may want to try the service unroll.me to quickly unsubscribe from many automated messages.

4. Follow Through and Maintain

Email is a huge time waster, many people are checking it multiple times an hour, responding haphazardly, and having it interrupt the flow of their day.  Schedule your email reply time, rather than “putting out fires” every time a message comes in.  Set up 2 or 3 times a day where you will read and reply to messages.  Use a timer to help keep you on task, and to help you realize how much time emails are really costing you.

By | 2017-08-29T09:26:58+00:00 October 11th, 2017|digital, email, organizing, Organizing Tools, productivity|0 Comments

10 Reasons to Organize Your Living Room

10 Reasons to Organize Your Living Room title

10 Reasons to Organize Your Living Room

The living room and kitchen are the main hubs of most homes.  A disorganized shared space such as a living room can cause stress and tension among family members.  A clean sweep and reorganization in your living room can benefit you in many ways.

10 Reasons to Organize Your Living Room:

Better organization and less clutter means less to clean, dust and maintain.

Creating a place for everything clears the floors, making chores such as sweeping and vacuuming easier.

The room will feel more comfortable and visually pleasing

Redecorating or interior design projects will be more manageable.

You will have the ability to host visitors more often.

It will be easier to do the planned activities in this room with everything organized.

Organized book shelves will make books more accessible and encourage reading.

Entertainment will be simpler when you can always find the video game or movie you want.

Board game activities will be smoother, when your family can quickly find games.

Toy organizational systems set up in a living room will make toy clean-up straightforward.

The main benefit of organizing any area is that you will save time searching for items resulting in less stress.  If you live in the Raleigh, North Carolina area and need hands-on organizing assistance or want a do-it-yourself plan, please contact On Task Organizing.  If you live elsewhere, On Task Organizing offers virtual organizing services via FaceTime and Skype to help you with any organizing project.  Contact us for a free phone consultation to get started.

By | 2017-08-29T09:17:09+00:00 October 4th, 2017|benefits, living room, organizing|0 Comments

Fridge Organization Tips

fridge organization tips title

Fridge Organization Tips

One area that is sometimes overlooked in kitchen organization is the inside of the refrigerator.  Your pantry and cabinets may be neatly organized, but a functional organization system in a fridge will help reduce spoiled food.  It will also make it easier to cook meals, and you will be able to make grocery lists more quickly.  The ability to know what needs to be bought at a glance will make your life simpler.

Fridge Organization Tips

Arrange Your Fridge by “Department”

Grocery stores have departments to make it easier to find items, and you should mimic this inside your fridge.  Designate sections of your fridge for dairy, vegetables, fruit, meats, condiments, bottled water, soda, juices, leftovers, deli meat, etc.

Adjust Your Shelves

Almost all fridges have adjustable shelves, so don’t hesitate to move shelving around based on your needs.  If you find you want or need more shelving, there are products such as shelf risers that can help.

Use Drawers & Sections as Intended

Most refrigerators already have drawers or sections set aside for storing eggs, vegetables and meats.  Use these drawers as intended, but make use of storage products to better contain these items.

Store Tall Items in the Door

Make use of the fridge door for storing tall items.  Most fridge doors have door pockets deep enough to hold 2 liter soda bottles.  Adjust your door pockets and fridge door shelving as needed.

Use Clear Bins to Contain Smaller Items

Linus Fridge Binz come in various sizes.  They are clear and perfect for storing items such as yogurt and condiments together by type.

Use Water Bottle & Soda Can Holders

Water bottle holders and soda can organizers are great products to save space inside the fridge.

Choose Stackable Containers for Leftovers

There are many different types of containers from disposable to plastic to glass available to hold leftovers. Choose whatever type you like, but get a matching stackable set so you can easily fit more in your fridge.

Label Leftovers

Labeling leftovers, containers, and even fridge shelves will make it easier for everyone in your home to find items and put them away.   Erasable food labels  or freezer label stickers make labeling leftovers simple.  You can label ziplock bags using a sharpie marker.  The date is the most important detail to put on leftovers, but you may also want to put a more detailed description or indicate who the food belongs to, such as “John’s lunch”.

Check the Fridge Before Grocery Shopping

Before a grocery shopping trip, always check your fridge for the freshness of items, clear out spoiled food, and make space for the new groceries.

Create a Fridge Cleaning Schedule

Routinely clear out your fridge, ideally weekly or before each grocery shopping trip.  Give your fridge interior a thorough wipe down and cleaning at least once every 3 months. Put fridge cleaning on your schedule, so you won’t forget.

By | 2017-08-29T08:42:41+00:00 September 27th, 2017|groceries, kitchen, Meal Planning, refrigerator|0 Comments

How to Get Your Husband on Board with Hiring a Professional Organizer

How to Get Your Husband on Board with Hiring a Professional Organizer

How to Get Your Husband on Board with Hiring a Professional Organizer

Asking for help when you need it is not a sign of weakness.   I have many conversations with women who need and want the services of a professional organizer, but unfortunately their husband is not on board.  He may  not see the investment of a professional organizer as an investment in improving your life, your time, your stress level, your environment and more.

Your husband may say “you should be able to do this on your own,” or he is too embarrassed to ask for or accept help.  This is a common concern among spouses, and I will say that in my 5 years of organizing, it is usually the husband who argues or even belittles his wife for wanting outside help with organization.

I am not a marriage counselor, but I do know that improving your home organization and time management skills usually results in improved relationships.  Here are some tips on talking to your spouse about why asking for organizational help is okay, and why they should agree to give it a try.

You Hire Experts for Other Needs

You hire a mechanic to fix your car, an accountant to do your taxes, a personal trainer to improve your fitness, a carpenter to fix your roof.  A professional organizer is an expert to help repair disorganized systems, improve your overall environment, and transfer organizational skills to you, so you can maintain an organized home.

These are Skills You Need and Want to Learn

If you wanted to learn how to paint, cook, or play an instrument, you would take lessons.  Some people never had lessons in organization or time management, so a professional organizer can teach you these skills that you may need to improve or want to learn.  Home organizing sessions are personalized and customized lessons about you, your home, your time, your family, your life.  A professional organizer doesn’t just move stuff around, he or she helps you to discover your goals, prioritize, create a plan of action, and make decisions on what to do with all the “stuff” that’s surrounding you.

You Need or Want Accountability

A professional organizer will help to hold you accountable, keep you motivated, and work with you either by your side or via phone or online to keep the process moving.  After each organizing session, follow-up tasks and next steps are discussed.  Your professional organizer will call you or check in with you at the start of each session to hold you accountable.  Sometimes, having an accountability source is all you need to get the ball rolling and stay motivated.

You’ve Tried On Your Own, and it Hasn’t Worked

Ask yourself (or your husband), “How many times have I tried to get this place organized?  How many organizing books or programs have I started or never finished?  When will this get done if I don’t hire someone, schedule a time to do it, have an expert guide me in the process, provide me with storage product ideas, help drop off donations, and provide me with resources for selling or consigning items?”

You are Worth the Investment

The investment in a professional organizer can vary based on your needs. The total cost depends on many factors, including the size of the home, amount of items, number of people involved, and your decision making speed.  As many of my clients can attest, the monetary cost is well worth every penny because you are investing in your well-being, in lowering stress, in saving time, and in improving your surroundings.

If You’re Happier, He’ll be Happier

With a better organized home, you will be happier, and things will run more smoothly throughout your home.  You’ll have more time for enjoyable activities, and most likely this will result in a happier family, including a happier husband.

How much does your husband want to invest in and support your happiness? Call 919-561-0885 or email to schedule a free phone consultation.  I can also set up a conference call with both you and your spouse, so we can really discuss your organizational needs and concerns in depth together.

By | 2017-09-05T07:24:02+00:00 September 20th, 2017|benefits, family, organizing, outsourcing, Professional Organizing|2 Comments

Organizing Recipes: Paper & Digital

Organizing Recipes Title Image

Organizing Recipes: Paper & Digital

Organizing recipes can be challenging because you may have recipes in a variety of cookbooks, on index cards, on loose paper, or stored digitally on your computer or on a website.    Recipes can often add to the paper clutter in a kitchen.  Creating an organized recipe collection will streamline your grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking, saving you time and stress each day.  Getting your recipes organized is a time-consuming task.  Here are some of my tips on recipe organization.

Tips for Organizing Recipes:

Start by Decluttering Recipes

Gather all of your cookbooks and recipes together, and start by decluttering those you do not like or never use.  Reducing the overall amount of books and paper from the start will make the process so much easier.

Decide How You Want to Store Paper Recipes

The way you store your paper recipes is a personal choice.  Decide what works best for you, and stick with that one method.  Here are some options:

Determine One Place to Store All Paper Recipes

Choose a certain cabinet, drawer or shelf, in your kitchen, or close to it, to store this collection of recipes.  Once you’ve gathered them all together, and ecluttered and organized them, you will have a better idea of how much storage space is needed.

Digital Recipe Storage

You may decide it is the time to go digital with all of your recipes.  In that case, scan the paper recipes you use, and save them digitally.  You could store digital recipes on a folder on your computer, on Google Drive or in Evernote.

Retrieve Recipes Online

Search online and save recipes you like by using Pinterest boards, or bookmarking webpages and storing them in clearly labeled bookmark folders on your browser.

Use Apps on Your Phone or Tablet

Evernote is a great way to access recipes digitally.  Recipe specific phone apps such as Paprika or Cheftap are also great options.

Whether you use paper or digital storage methods, or a mix of the two, if your recipes are disorganized, it will be hard to make the meals you love.  If you need assistance with organizing your recipe collection, On Task Organizing is here to help.  We offer in-person organizing services in the Raleigh, NC area, and virtual organizing services elsewhere.  Contact us to get started on a plan to organize your recipe collection.

By | 2017-08-28T15:34:38+00:00 September 13th, 2017|kitchen, Paper Management, recipes|2 Comments

Creating a Home Inventory

Creating a Home Inventory Title

Creating a Home Inventory

In the wake of a catastrophe like Hurricane Harvey, we see many people with homes and belongings that have been quickly and severely damaged from flooding.  It is a frightening fact that a catastrophic event could happen to any of us, such as a as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, flood or fire.  It is crucial to have your home insured, but it is also important to have accurate insurance for all of the belongings inside your home.  This home inventory list should be stored off-site, so it is not lost during a disastrous event.

There is an home management software program called HomeZada that provides an easy way to create and manage your home inventory.  The inventory is then securely stored in the cloud, so it can be accessed anywhere through a computer or mobile app.  HomeZada offers a standard home inventory service that is free, or a premium service for a small monthly fee. The premium service includes home maintenance, home finances, and the ability to create and maintain home inventories for multiple homes, such as rental properties or vacation homes.

I find the HomeZada mobile app easy to use and manage.  There’s the option to add photos, videos, and scans of documents.  It is easy to take photos of an item, record the model and serial number,  warranty, registration, and owner’s manual, and then indicate where the item is located in your home.

The benefits of a digital home management system like this include reduction of paper by scanning and saving items in the cloud such as real estate documents, owners manuals, warranties, receipts, and business cards of home service providers.  Since the application also allows you to record other home details such as structural information like flooring details, HVAC systems, light fixtures, appliances, floor plans, etc., it can also be a tool to market your home when you’re ready to sell.

Having a home inventory can help you with estate planning, and make sure you are properly insured.  You can also use HomeZada to keep track of remodeling projects in detail, to help you stay within your project’s budget.  The home maintenance function allows you to create recurring reminders for tasks such as changing air filters, removing lint from dryer vents or testing smoke detectors.  Regular maintenance can result in reduced energy costs, and protect your home equipment from eroding.

The value of having a detailed home inventory stored off-site ensures that you’ll be properly insured and prepared for “what-ifs,” and have a more accurate estimate of your belongings.  If you’re in need of a home inventory, I suggest you try an application such as HomeZada.  If you need assistance in creating a home inventory in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, please contact On Task Organizing.

By | 2017-09-05T07:34:10+00:00 September 6th, 2017|emergency, home, insurance, inventory, preparedness|0 Comments

A Visit to The Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC

title - a visit to the scrap exchange

A Visit to The Scrap Exchange

The Scrap Exchange in Durham recently gave a tour of their space to members of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals North Carolina Chapter (NAPO-NC).  As a professional organizer, I provide donation and recycling resources to my clients.  It was wonderful to learn more about this local non-profit organization with a mission to promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse.

make art not strach signThe Scrap Exchange is located in the Lakewood Shopping Center in Durham, an area that is being revitalized.  They have an area that accepts donations, a very organized sorting area, an art gallery and a retail store.  In addition to re-selling items, they offer creative workshops and programs for individuals and groups including sewing classes and craft nights.  There’s even a design center with sewing machines, die-cut machines and more.

The Scrap Exchange also conducts outreach activities at schools and community events.  They travel with barrels full of reusable craft supplies and promote creative reuse to the community.  The Scrap Exchange also hosts birthday parties, where party attendees can create their own art in the make ‘n take craft room.

After our tour of the facility, our group of NAPO-NC organizers participated in our own make ‘n take craft time.  We all had fun being creative with the variety of materials available such as cardboard, fabric, ribbon, puzzle pieces, stickers, and old CDs and computer discs.

CD wall art

Craft supplies are not the only items The Scrap Exchange accepts for donation.  They are expanding to another building in the Lakewood Shopping Center and are now accepting clothing, furniture and more for their thrift store.  They accept donations of office supplies, gift wrap, packing materials, trophies, small electronics and more. Visit their website for a list of all materials they accept for donation.

If you are in the Durham area and have items to donate, or would like to shop or create art from reusable materials, I suggest you stop by The Scrap Exchange.  I highly recommend their group tours as well.  At the end of most organizing sessions, I fill my car with donations from my residential clients, it is wonderful to have a donation option like this in the area.

By | 2017-08-28T15:15:05+00:00 August 30th, 2017|Donations, Recycle, repurpose, retailers, Reuse, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Back to School Decluttering

Back to School Decluttering Title

Back to School Decluttering

At the end of the summer, there are many steps to take to prepare for the school year.  If your child starts school in early September, set aside a day or two in August to declutter for the school year ahead.

Items to Declutter Before Going for Back to School

Last Year’s School Papers & Artwork

If you still have a pile of paper from the last day of school, now is the time to sort through it, declutter, and store away keepsakes in a labeled box or folder.

School Supplies

Gather the school supplies your child used last year, and review the teacher’s list for what is needed this year.  Consider everything from pens, folders, binders, electronics, lunch boxes and backpacks.  Determine what can be reused, and make a list of what needs to be purchased.

Summer Camp & Vacation Items

Those unpacked luggage bags, camp crafts, swim goggles, travel souvenirs, camping supplies, sporting goods, etc. may have piled up over the summer.  Work with your child to go through all of this to determine what should be kept or discarded, and organize what remains.  Tidying up these items will make it easier to move forward and make space for items needed during the school year.

Toys

As your child grows, there may be toys he or she has stopped using.  At the end of the summer,  sort through these toys, and decide what should be handed down to younger children, sold or donated.  This opens up space for your child’s current interests and activities.

Crafts

Your child may have been working on many arts and crafts projects over the summer.  Sort through the crafts and all of the related supplies at this time so you can have items on hand for school projects in the fall.

Clothing & Shoes

Have your child try on all clothing to determine what they have outgrown.  Save outgrown clothing for hand-me-downs, or sell or donate these items.  Make a list of what clothing will be needed for the upcoming school year.

After decluttering, schedule a time to sell or donate items.  Next, make a list of everything that needs to be purchased for the upcoming school year.  Plan a time to shop for back-to-school clothing, shoes and school supplies.  Shop with a list and stick to it, so you do not over-buy.

When Organizing Books Don’t Work For You

When Organizing Books Don't Work For You Title

When Organizing Books Don’t Work For You

I think that organizing books are a great source of information.  I’ve read dozens of books on a variety of organizational topics as part of my education as a professional organizer.  In just about every home I organize, I find at least one organizing book, usually more.  These are often found under piles, or on an overloaded bookshelf.

Not All Organizing Methods Work for Everyone

In my opinion, organizing books, like many self-help books are great for practical information; however, just buying or  reading a book will not get your organizing project done.  Many of my clients have read books, and we’ll discuss organizing methods they’ve learned, but not all methods work for everyone.  There are different modes of learning.  Organizing systems need to be set up in a way that works well for the individual.  Some people buy a book, implement the system, and it works well for them, but not all people.

Learning & Organizational Styles are Unique

If you’re among the many well intentioned people who want a more organized life, have sought out books on the topic, and tried time and again to get organized, don’t be frustrated at the book or the author, or yourself.  Your learning style is unique, as is your organizational style.

A Friend’s Help Didn’t Work

Usually, after a book doesn’t do the trick, a person may enlist the help of a well-meaning friend or family member to get organized.  This sometimes works, but many times, you’re now imposing someone else’s organizing method that may not be right for you, and often the process of decluttering and organizing with someone close to you may end in arguments or disagreements.  This can derail your personal relationships.

It is OK to Ask for Expert Help

If you have 1 or 2 dusty books on “how to organize” in your home, and you’re still feeling overwhelmed with disorganization, it is OK to ask for help.  Reach out to a professional organizer trained in various organizing techniques and methods to help you to declutter, organize and simplify your life.  Remember, organizing is not a one time task, so your professional organizer will help to transfer skills to you so you can continue to remain better organized, once you feel your home organizing project is complete.

You May Need Accountability & Motivation

In most cases, a complete home or office declutter and reorganization will bring a person to a baseline level of organization.  This is a clean slate, a new starting point.  A place where organized systems are arranged specifically for you based on your lifestyle, the layout of your home or office, your current needs, and the needs of your family.  This does take time and motivation, but your professional organizer is there for you as your cheerleader, your accountability partner, and motivator.

Reach Out for Help

If organizing books don’t work for you, or you’ve read partway through an organizing book and just thrown your hands up in exasperation, reach out for help.  Over 4,000 trained and educated professional organizers are there for you, and can be easily found through a zip code search on the website of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals.

On Task Organizing provides hands on organizing services in the Raleigh, NC area, and can assist you through virtual organization via Skype or FaceTime in all areas.  Whether you need hands-on help, a do-it-yourself plan, time management systems, or just general encouragement, a professional organizer is there to help lighten your load.

For further information, or to schedule your free phone consultation, email me or call 919-561-0885.

Back to School Organizing Tools

 Back to School Organizing Tools

Back to School Organizing Tools

As you prepare to send your children back to school, there are many organizing tools that you can use in your home to make school days less chaotic.  In addition to buying school supplies, consider some of these organizing tools.

Back to School Organizing Tools

A Pantry Snack Station

In your pantry, put after school snacks on a low shelf or in a bin or basket.  This will allow your children to quickly find an after school snack.

A Fridge Bin for Lunch Items

For refrigerated items, set-up a containers like these Fridge Binz to hold lunch making supplies and refrigerated snacks.

Hooks for Backpacks & Jackets

Give each child a sturdy hook to hold backpacks.  Also, supply enough hooks for jackets.  Make sure these hooks are placed low enough for young children to reach.  Labeling the hooks with your child’s name will also help give ownership to your child.

Shelves or Bins for Shoes & Hats

Create a storage area for other items such as shoes and hats.  Hats can hang on hooks or, be placed on shelves, in cubbies or bins.  Place a shoe shelf or bin or basket near the most frequently used door to further streamline the before school morning routine.

An Inbox for Each Child

Place a small tray or bin to act as your child’s “inbox,” for the small items they bring to and from school daily such as lunch money.  If they bring electronics to and from school, set up a charging station for phones and laptops.

A School Paper Wall Pocket or Folder

Set up a labeled wall pocket or folder for papers about school activities and for school forms to be signed by parents.

An Activity Tracker on the Wall

Use a bulletin board, magnetic board or dry erase board on a wall at home to keep track of activities and events.

Calendars or Planners

Give your child access to a planner, a shared family wall calendar or a shared digital calendar to keep track of times and dates of school holidays, after school activities, family events & more.

A Homework Station

Designate one space as the homework station.  Have regularly used school supplies such as pens, pencils, calculators, tape, scissors and rulers nearby.  Keep this surface clear so there’s enough space to do homework.  This should be located in an area with limited distractions.

By setting up organizing tools like these at home, your child’s before school and after school routines will be less stressful.  They will be able to easily find all items they need for going to school and doing homework.  With these organzational tools in place, you will also prevent losing important school papers or missing a school event or after-school activity.

14 Reasons to Organize your Home Office

14 Reasons to Organize Your Home Office Title

14 Reasons to Organize your Home Office

Home offices are one of the most common rooms I am hired to organize. So many people are working from home, or trying to juggle a busy home life and work at the same time, that a home office can quickly become cluttered and overwhelming.  Getting your home office better organized will not only improve your work productivity, but it can also benefit you by lowering stress at home.  Here are just some of the many reasons to organize your home office.

14 Reasons to Organize your Home Office

-Better organization can improve productivity and increase income.

– Save time searching for items you cannot find.

-Streamlined filing systems, reference material storage, and office supply storage will save you both time and money.

-To create a more comfortable workspace with the correct chair, desk and ergonomic set-up for you.

-For a more visually appealing workspace that makes you want to spend time in the home office.

-To make it easier to manage cords and charge electronics.

-For better use of time with improved to-do lists, calendar systems and overall time management skills.

-To save money by not repurchasing items you know you own but cannot find.

-To make space for others to visit such as clients or assistants.

-For quicker preparation for events, meetings and business travel.

-To create improved systems for accounting, budgeting and bill paying.

-To separate your home from business spaces for your business tax purposes.

-Organized tax papers make tax filing time less stressful.

-Less clutter and more organization will make cleaning easier and faster.

Preparing for Tax Free Weekend

Preparing for Tax Free Weekend Title

Preparing for Tax Free Weekend

In many states, tax-free weekend is offered in early August.  This is a great time to plan and prepare an organized shopping list.  Here is a general list of the items usually included, depending on your specific state’s tax-free weekend rules:

  • School Supplies
  • Backpacks
  • Clothing
  • Jackets
  • Computers
  • Laptops
  • Printers
  • Emergency Preparation Supplies

Not all states offer tax-free weekend, but those that do usually hold it in late July or Early August to coincide with back-to-school.  Some online retailers also offer discounts on tax-free weekend.  Check here to see if tax-free weekend is offered in your individual state.

Tips to for a Streamlined & Organized Tax-Free Weekend

If you know that tax-free weekend is coming up in your area, you can plan for a more streamlined shopping experience and savings, if you organize in advance.

School supplies

When it comes to school supplies, check your child’s teacher’s list, and determine what is needed in advance.

School Clothes and Backpacks

Test out your child’s backpack to determine if a new one needs to be purchased over tax-free weekend.  Have your child try on all clothing to see what they’ve outgrown, and make another list of clothing to be purchased that weekend.  Plan which stores you’ll need to take your child to, and in which order you’d like to go to each store.  I suggest starting at the clothing stores first thing in the morning, and plan a route that uses the least amount of travel time and gas.

Computers, Electronics & Printers

Test out your electronics to determine if anything needs to be upgraded.  Tax-free weekend is a great time to take advantage of discounts.  Make a list of what you need, and research in advance which stores or online retailers are offering tax-free deals and have the items you want in stock.

Emergency Preparation Supplies

Some states also includes tax-free emergency preparation supplies for hurricane preparedness and more during this weekend.  Check your survival kits and emergency supplies, and plan to shop for these items as well.

Since you only have a short time to take advantage of tax-free weekend, start shopping as soon as the stores open.  Divide the shopping amongst family members if needed.  If you must plan for a whole day, plan for a brief lunch break, and continue until you’ve gotten everything on your list.  Making a list and sticking to it is a very important way to keep to your budget, and make sure that you get only what you need.

By | 2017-07-06T10:24:36+00:00 July 26th, 2017|finances, money, shopping, summer|0 Comments

Traveling Compactly

Traveling Compactly Title

Traveling Compactly

Packing for vacation can be a daunting task.  Luckily, there are many storage products available to make it easier for you to travel compactly.  Whether you’re traveling by car, train, boat or plane, packing compactly will make your travels easier and more enjoyable.

Tips for Planning & Compactly Packing for a Trip

Schedule a Time to Shop for Your Travel & Vacation Supplies

From travel sized toiletries to clothing, you will most likely need to buy something before your vacation.  Schedule a day to do this shopping, well in advance of your trip.

Choose Clothing for the Trip

Determine how long you will be gone, and how many outfits you will need, and the type of outfits  needed such as formal, casual, or swimwear.  If laundry facilities are available, you can pack less, but must you plan for doing laundry while you’re away.  Closer to the travel dates, double check the weather forecast and pack accordingly, so there’s no need to buy a souvenir sweatshirt just because the beach was cold one night!  Try on all of your outfits in advance, and don’t pack anything that doesn’t fit.  Do pack at least one back-up outfit.

Buy Travel Accessories

Once you’ve gathered everything you plan to take on your trip, determine what size bags and containers you need.  Depending on the type of trip, you may want some of the following items:

Store Clothing Compactly 

Rolling your clothing and storing items like socks inside your shoes will save space. You can also use Compression Pack-it Cubes or Travel Space Bags.

Secure Electronics

Remember to pack all of your chargers and outlets. If traveling internationally, remember to bring adapters.  The Grid-it system offers great ways to store electronics while traveling.

Label All Luggage

Label all of your travel bags and containers using luggage tags, label tape, or permanent marker.  You can distinguish your luggage at baggage claim with colorful zipper-pulls, duct tape or painter’s tape.

By | 2017-07-06T09:49:30+00:00 July 19th, 2017|packing, Travel|0 Comments

Summer Party Organization Tips

Summer Party Organization Tips Title

Summer Party Organization Tips

Summer is a time of relaxation, which often results in summer pool parties, graduation parties, and cookouts or BBQs to celebrate Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day & more.  With this plan for a relaxing, fun party with friends and family, the party host is often left with the huge task of organizing the summer event.

Tips for Organizing a Summer Party or Cookout

Budget

Before planning any event, it is important set a budget.  How much can you or do you want to spend?  This will determine how many people you invite, the food you serve, how much you decorate, etc.  Keep track of how much you spend for this event, so the next time you hold one,  you’ll have a better idea of where you can cut costs, or a general estimate of what an event like this will cost you.

Check Calendars & Schedules

Make sure your event doesn’t overlap with someone else’s party or family event.  As for timing, consider an earlier time for families with small children.

Determine How Many to Invite

Think about the size of your home and outdoor areas and parking accommodations as you write your invitation list.  Also, consider if mixing groups of friends, families and co-workers will go over well.  You may want to hold two or more parties to keep things separate.

Send Invitations

Most likely, social media will be the best way to send invitations, but depending on your event, you may want to snail mail invitations or call friends.  Invitations should include details such as the date (including the day of the week & year), the start and end time, the address, parking information, and suggestions on what to bring such as a dish for a pot luck, a swimsuit for a pool party, etc.  Please mention if pets are allowed or not.

Plan a Menu

When planning your menu, consider allergies, having vegan or vegetarian options, or having kid friendly food, depending on your attendees.  Decide if there be alcohol available or if it is BYOB.  If alcohol is served, have a designated driver available, or suggest a taxi, Uber or Lyft for attendees.   Determine who will be serving drinks, and who will be grilling or doing the cooking throughout the party.

Prepare Paper Goods

If you don’t have enough dishes, disposable plates & utensils work well for summer parties.  You should have the following items: cups, paper plates, paper towels, napkins, plastic utensils, and enough containers for all of the leftovers.  If you want guests to take leftovers with them, have small portable tupperware containers available for them.

Determine the Party Layout

Make sure you have enough chairs and tables.  You may need to rent or borrow chairs and tables, or ask invitees to bring their own.  Also, decide where food will be served, buffet style is often best.  Determine where the cooking will take place.

Choose Music

You may want to set up an outdoor sound system, or have a band perform.  Decide what type of music your guests would like to hear.  It is best to set up a playlist in advance.

Plan Decor

Consider how much you want to decorate for this event.  You may need signs, streamers, tablecloths, balloons, etc.

Consider Outdoor Needs

Have sunscreen, bug spray, citronella candles or other pest control methods in place.  If rain is forecast, you may need an awning or to ask guests to bring umbrellas.  If it is a pool party, remind guests to bring their own towels, and figure out where guests can hang towels to dry.  You may need to buy more lounge chairs, rafts or pool toys.  If you are planning to play outdoor games, prepare frisbees, horseshoes, cornhole, etc. in advance.

Plan a Shopping Trip

You may want to make one trip for paper goods and decor, and another for grocery only items.  A day or two before the party, make sure you have all party foods including condiments and drinks purchased.

Plan Cleaning & Yardwork Beforehand

If you’re hosting this party at your home, hire a cleaning service and a lawn service, or schedule a time to clean your home and work on your yard.  Depending on the size of your space, this may take a while, so plan accordingly.

Plan Post-Party Clean Up

Have a plan for when the clean-up will take place, and who is responsible for putting items back to where they should be stored.   Do not skip this step!  I’ve been in many homes where the party decorations and supplies just never got put away, and then clutter piles up around it all, making it that much more difficult to hold the next party.

By | 2017-07-05T12:05:13+00:00 July 12th, 2017|organizing, party planning, pool, summer|0 Comments

How to Pack for Summer Camp

How to Pack for Summer Camp Title

How to Pack for Summer Camp

As your child goes away to summer camp, there are many things you need to get organized first to make his or her trip run smoothly.  Much of this can be done in advance to reduce stress.

Tips to Prepare for Summer Camp

Review the Camp’s List of Items Needed

Most camps will give you a general list of what to bring and what not to bring.  Check this list, and gather all items in one place, this will be a staging area for packing.  As for the items you do not have, create a shopping list, and plan a time to shop for these items weeks or days before the camp starts.

Plan Clothing for Camp

Depending on how long your child will be away, and if laundry facilities are available, determine how many changes of clothes should be packed.  Remember to pack extras in case they get wet or dirty.  Have your child try on all of this clothing to make sure everything fits.  If needed, make a list and plan a clothes shopping trip beforehand.  Check the weather forecast for the week of camp as you pack up.

Label Everything

From sunblock to swimsuits, label it all!  You can use permanent marker or fabric labels for clothing.

Separate Items by Category & then Choose Storage Containers

Depending on the method of travel, choose what is needed for this trip.  You may want storage trunks, luggage bags, toiletry bags, shower caddies, wet swimsuit bags and laundry bags.  Separate your child’s items by category and then choose the right size storage containers.

Involve your Child in Packing

After everything is purchased, labeled, and separated into the staging area where you’ve been keeping “bring to camp” items, and you have all storage containers ready, involve your child in the packing process.  This way, they will know what is in each container, where to find it, and (hopefully) how to pack it up at the end of camp.

Schedule Time to Prepare for Camp

Sometimes it feels like preparing for camp may take almost as long as the camp itself!  Remember to schedule time in your calendar well in advance to do these tasks: checking the list, trying on clothing, shopping for clothes, shopping for other essentials like toiletries, labeling everything, gathering the correct storage containers, and packing with your child.

Make a Final Review

Review the list one last time for anything you may have forgotten.  Review camp rules with your child before they leave.  Also, review their “packing up” plan for the last day of camp.

Remember to Schedule Unpacking Time

It is very important to schedule a time to unpack, put everything away, and clean laundry and other items. This will prevent stagnant piles, items becoming moldy, and disorganization going forward.

By | 2017-07-04T15:06:05+00:00 July 5th, 2017|packing, summer, Travel, Uncategorized|0 Comments

12 Reasons to Organize Your Bathroom

12 Reasons to Organize Your Bathroom Title

12 Reasons to Organize Your Bathroom

There are many reasons to organize your bathroom.  Although bathrooms are often the smallest rooms in homes, a tidy and organized bathroom can make a big difference in your daily routines.  Most bathrooms can be decluttered and organized in a short time, but can result in a very positive changes in your life.

12 Reasons to Organize Your Bathroom

Less time spent searching for items

You’ll save time getting ready in the morning and before bed.  Less time searching for items such as razors, floss, toothpaste, soaps, and make-up will save you time during both your morning and evening routines.

To save time cleaning 

If your bathroom has less clutter,  there will be less time spent clearing counters and tub or shower surfaces before you start scrubbing.  Having bathroom cleaning supplies  stored together and better organized will also make cleaning faster.

Less time and money spent re-buying items you have, but cannot find

After sorting similar items together, many of my clients have found that they have months worth of supplies like soap and shampoo, so they don’t have to buy those for a a long time!

To stop running out of essentials

With more organized bathroom cabinets, drawers and closets, you’ll know when you’re about to run out of essential items such as toilet paper, and you will know when it is time to buy more.

To improve emergency preparedness

With organized first aid supplies and medications, you will be better prepared for medical emergencies.

To make it easier to have guests 

If your guest bathroom is organized and decluttered, you can have guests visit without rushing to clean or hide things away.

To simplify bath time

Organized bath toys make children’s bath time rituals less hectic and easier for everyone.

To make pet grooming easier

Organized pet grooming supplies can make dog bath time quicker and less chaotic.

Reduce family arguments

Setting up separate and organized bathroom storage areas for each person can prevent family arguments as to ownership of certain items, and disagreements about who is responsible for each space.

To be ready for plumbing emergencies

With a decluttered and organized bathroom, the plumber can more easily access your pipes to repair leaks.

Easier to redecorate

It is easier to visualize decorative changes once the clutter is gone.

To create a calming effect 

Cluttered spaces often cause anxiety.  A decluttered bathroom will help to create a more calm and peaceful feeling.

By | 2017-06-08T15:32:06+00:00 June 28th, 2017|Bathroom, declutter, organizing, routines|0 Comments

Organizing Inventory in a Home Business

Organizing Inventory in a Home Business Title

Organizing Inventory in a Home Business

Running a business out of your home can be challenging, especially with space constraints and and a lot of inventory.  I have worked with home business owners selling a variety of items from their home.   I’ve helped organize inventory such as clothing, jewelry, make-up, skin care products, essential oils, gift baskets, sports equipment, cooking supplies, books and model cars.  No matter what the product, my clients have all had the same goals: to best utilize the space, and to have a functional system where they can quickly access supplies and fulfill customer orders.  Here are some of my tips on organizing inventory in a home business.

Tips for Organizing Inventory in a Home Business

Determine where to store items

Assess the space in your home and decide on the best location to store your business inventory, this may be in a bonus room, extra bedroom, closet, garage, attic or basement.  If you lack space in your home, you may need to rent an off site storage unit.

Consider climate controlled storage

Many products can be damaged if not stored in a climate controlled area.  Severe temperature changes, moisture, pests, dirt and dust can impact your inventory.  If this is a concern for you, check the temperature and insulation of your home inventory storage location, or request a climate controlled storage unit.

Stack vertically

Make the most of your storage space, by stacking inventory items vertically.  Sturdy metal shelves can provide efficient storage for home business inventory.

Label storage shelves

Label storage shelves by using numbers or letters, so an item can be quickly found.

Organize by type

Sort and organize your products by type, and store similar products together.

Label all boxes

Place text labels or digital photos on unlabeled boxes,  so you know what is inside each box.

Store popular products nearby

Store the most frequently sold items in the area that is easiest to access.

Set up “departments”

Layout your home office or storage area in “departments” such as incoming new inventory, inventory in storage, shipping and receiving.

Use software programs and apps such as these to help managing inventory

SOS Inventory

Inventory Now Lite for iPad

Cashier Live w/ Big Commerce

A well organized home business inventory will lower stress and improve productivity.  If you need assistance with organizing your home business, please contact us for a free phone consultation about our home and business organizing services including hands-on organization in the Raleigh, NC area and virtual organization to distant locations.

By | 2017-06-08T15:12:54+00:00 June 21st, 2017|home business, inventory, organizing, productivity, storage|0 Comments

Managing Household Papers

Managing Household Papers Title

Managing Household Papers

Paper is constantly coming into our homes, and it can sometimes be overwhelming to manage it all.  Each paper that comes into your home requires a decision.  These decisions can be broken down into these categories:

  • Toss or Recycle – if you don’t need it and it doesn’t contain personal information.
  • Shred – if you don’t need it, but it contains personal information.
  • Keep temporarily until you’ve addressed it where is is easily accessible.
  • Keep temporarily by filing it or scanning it until it is no longer needed.
  • Save permanently in your home in a file cabinet or fireproof safe.
  • Save permanently offsite in a safe deposit box.

Toss/Recycle/Shred

For each paper that you look at, ask yourself what needs to be done with it.  Tossing, recycling or shredding can quickly be done if you have a trash can, recycle bin and shredder near where you open your mail and look at papers.

Keep Temporarily Until You’ve Addressed It

For papers that need to be kept temporarily until you’ve addressed them (current bills, event invitations, etc.) create an easy to access place for these types of papers.  I suggest a desktop file box with folders for “to pay,” “to read” “to follow-up on”,  to make sure the papers are acted upon.  If you prefer a more visual solution, a cork board or magnetic board may work well, if it is looked at on a regular basis and doesn’t become overloaded. Here are my tips on managing incoming mail.

Keep Temporarily by Filing or Scanning

Many papers need to be stored temporarily, these can be filed away for back-up records or scanned, if you are trying to go paperless.  Consumer Reports provides great suggestions as to how long to keep tax records and other documents.  It is helpful to check with your accountant or lawyer about saving financial or legal records.

Save Permanently in Your Home or a Safe Deposit Box

When it comes to what to keep permanently, it is best to consult with your account and/or lawyer first about what to keep and how long to keep it.  In general,  information about medical records, utilities, automotive records, insurance policies, retirement documents, wills, birth certificates, other financial documentation, and warranties often needs to be stored long term.  Always refer to your accountant about your specific case when it comes to tax retention guidelines.  Check out my tips on organizing tax documents.

Make a Place for Keepsake Papers

One last category to consider is keepsake papers.  You are not legally required to keep these, but you may want to store them long-term for sentimental reasons.  Create storage or files for  children’s artwork, old school work, keepsake cards, theater programs, vacation maps, travel keepsakes, ticket stubs, letters, genealogy records and memorabilia.

By | 2017-06-06T16:05:55+00:00 June 14th, 2017|filing, keepsake, organizing, Paper Management|0 Comments

Organizing on a Budget

Organizing on a Budget Title

Organizing on a Budget

Organizing on a budget is definitely possible, as long as you have the motivation, time and energy to focus on an organizing project.  You often don’t need to buy new or expensive organizing products to declutter your home and make it more functional.  There are many ways to save by re-using items your already own or selling items as you declutter.

Budget Your Time

The number one thing you need to budget to get organized is your time.  It takes time to sort through, declutter, sell or consign, and functionally organize your space.  The amount of time it takes depends on the size of your space, how cluttered it has become, and how quickly you can sort through and make decisions.  I suggest scheduling time in your calendar for 3 or 4 hours at a time to focus on one area or category of items.  Once you’re on a roll, you’ll have a better idea of how much you can get done in that time-frame.

Save Money by Reselling

Set aside an area to collect all of the items you’ve decluttered.  You may be able to make some money by selling items online through websites and apps such as eBay, Craigslist, NextDoor, LetGo or OfferUp.  You can also go to local consignment stores to resell items.  If you have many items that you’d like to sell at once, and have the time and energy to do it, you may want to hold a yard sale or garage sale.   Anything that you cannot sell, can be donated to a charity; itemized donations are often tax deductible.

Reuse Storage Items You Already Own

If you are on a budget and want to organize for functionality, there are probably many items in your home that can be reused for storage.  Shoeboxes, cardboard shipping boxes and even cereal boxes can be reused, redecorated and labeled to hold some items.  As you declutter, you will probably empty many containers such as baskets, plastic bins and fabric bins, freeing up these for storage.

Shop for Storage Supplies with a List and a Budget

Don’t shop for supplies until after you’ve done a full de-clutter of your space.  This way, you’ll know the size and number of items you need to contain.  Make a complete list, including the dimensions of the containers needed.  Then browse dollar stores, Wal-mart or Target, because they often have affordable storage products.  You may also want to shop sales or with coupons at home storage specialty stores such as Bed, Bath & Beyond or The Container Store.  Online shops like Amazon sometimes have great deals, and save you the time and cost of traveling and searching for items.

Book a “Do It Yourself” or Virtual Organizing Session with a Professional Organizer

If you feel that you need expert assistance to get started, but don’t have funds in your budget for multiple hands-on organizing sessions with a professional organizer, there are a couple of cost-effective options available.  On Task Organizing offers “Do It Yourself” organizing consultations where a professional organizer visits you one time to help create a customized action plan for your home organizing project.  On Task Organizing also offers Virtual Organizing sessions, via Skype or FaceTime where you can schedule one hour at a time with a professional organizer to virtually guide you through your organizing project.  Please contact us for more information.

Pool & Beach Storage Tips

Pool & Beach Storage Tips Title

Pool & Beach Storage Tips

As summer approaches, you may need to get your pool or beach items ready for the season.  If you have a backyard pool, neighborhood pool, or even a lake or beach nearby, you need to consider the best way to store and organize all of those wet items such as towels, rafts, goggles, sunscreen, and pool toys.  Here are some suggestions for storage products and ways to best organize pool and beach items.

Choose a space to store these types of items in your home such as a screened in porch, covered deck, laundry room, garage or mud room.  If you don’t have any of these areas, set up a storage space in a bathroom or along the wall near the door you most frequently use.

Hang extra hooks or towel rods in the area where you plan to hang wet towels in your home.  If necessary, set up a laundry drying rack specifically for wet towels and swimsuits.

Store rafts and floating toys in mesh bins.  If you need portability, try the Intex foldable mesh storage caddy.  For storing rafts by your pool, a poolside float organizer or rolling pool storage bins will work well.

Use mesh or waterproof bags to carry supplies to and from the pool or beach.  These mesh whale bags work well for families.   For individuals at the pool, Speedo swim bags or backpacks are a great option.  The Travel Happens Wet Bag is great for storing wet swimwear while traveling.

To make it easy for children to carry sand toys, try the EocuSun mesh drawstring backpack.

Be sure to have waterproof bag or case for your smart phone whenever you’re near the pool or beach.

For a neat way to carry small items like keys and sunscreen, and to bring your own pillow to the beach, try the L.A. Wedge beach & storage pillow.

Try using rolling beach carts or wagons to help make travel to and from the beach or pool much easier.

For a full day at the beach or pool, I recommend a cooler with wheels and a handle like this Igloo Island Breeze cooler with wheels.

With all of these available storage products, I hope some of them will make your summer trips easier, better organized, and more enjoyable.

By | 2017-04-11T10:05:49+00:00 May 31st, 2017|beach, organizing, Organizing supplies, pool, storage|0 Comments