Does the idea of getting organized leave you feeling overwhelmed? It’s easy to think of each project as a multi-day affair – and really, who has that kind of time? Each day you don’t address the issue, the area continues to collect more and more clutter, and the project feels even more insurmountable in your mind. Here’s a secret – you don’t need days or even hours to take control! Here are 7 things you can do RIGHT NOW to get organized, enjoy peace-of-mind and prevent clutter from piling up in the future.
Preparing for a new baby can be very exciting – but it can also feel overwhelming. Hormones and anxieties aside, it’s hard to wrap your head around the growing to-do list and the seemingly endless amount of stuff you need for your baby-to-be. And how on earth is it all going to fit in your apartment?! Don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling overwhelmed – even Professional Organizers can feel this way 😉
Never fear! Using your nesting instincts and these tips, you’ll be ready (and organized!) for the baby.
I absolutely love the beginning of a new year – there are so many possibilities – and the feeling of freshness just radiates from that first clean calendar page. When the clock struck midnight on January 1st, I know that many of you resolved to get organized in 2011.
duhdaduhdah. duhdaduhdada. duhdaduhdah. duhdadadadada. da. da. dadadadada da daaaaaahhhhhhhh.
Oh you couldn’t figure out what that is? That’s me singing the instrumental after the first line in the chorus of Europe’s 1986 hit The Final Countdown. Obviously.
Movers, Not Shakers will be here at 8:30 tomorrow morning, and we’re ready for them. We’ve got a few boxes around the house….
But of all the boxes we’ve got, this one is probably the most important:
I want to be sure that if we don’t get to unpack every single box tomorrow (and we won’t!) we’ll still have everything we need for a comfortable night and morning. Our 1st Night box (ok… boxes) has the following:
- Our bedding (which I took in to be dry-cleaned earlier this week)
- 2 Towels
- Extra sets of contacts, glasses (we wear disposable contacts, if you don’t — don’t forget solution and your contact case)
- Cellphone/Blackberry chargers
- Medications — prescriptions plus Excedrin, Advil and Tylenol — headaches and muscle aches are nearly guaranteed on move day!
- Shower necessities (shampoo, conditioner, soap, a shower curtain)
- the bedroom DVD player and Season 1 of The West Wing (i can’t fall asleep without the TV on. although I should be pretty tired by tomorrow night.)
Then there are the things we’re taking with us either on our person or in our own car so we can have immediate access to them when we arrive in the new apartment:
- collection of extension cords, surge protectors, etc. — we won’t have to wait to plug things until we find the box with this stuff.
- bag of tools – plenty of stuff might need to be taken apart, put together – never a dull moment on move day.
- box cutters and scissors — enough for multiple people to be opening boxes at once.
- checkbook — much easier to pay your movers when you don’t have to search for it.
- small stereo and ipod — you simply can’t unpack without music.
- passports – it’s a good idea to know where your passport is at all times and find a safe place for it when you get settled.
- jewelry – I actually gave my jewelry box to someone I trust to hold on to through the move (she’ll bring it back once we’re in the new place). Now there’s no anxiety about it inadvertently going missing. If this isn’t an option for you, be sure that you pack a bag with your valuables and bring it with you in the car.
- cleaning products – for your protection (and theirs), there are certain cleaning items that professional movers are not able to legally pack or move. Ammonia and bleach are flammable and should not be moved by a moving company. Open cleaning products have the potential to spill into your boxes, making a mess and potentially damaging your stuff. But you can bring them on your own — think about using a plastic bin, rather than a box, and putting it on the back seat of your car. Plus, you’ll be glad you can reach for the Fantastik and wipe down the cabinets before unpacking your nice clean glasses.
And with that, I sign off excited and exhausted. RB & I can’t wait to get settled into our new home. Unpacking is really the fun part. I’ll be back online to give the Big Day Play-by-Play on Tuesday when we have internet again.
by the way, we’re finishing our packing as we watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics. seems pretty fitting, really. We’ll miss you 201 East 19th – you’ve been good to us.
Over the past week, RB and I have been keeping separate, running lists of places we’ll need to contact about our address change (and other change-of-address type errands) – jotting them down as they come to mind.
Today, we compared lists and assigned jobs. Here’s a look at our list – it might help you to think in these categories as well!
- Credit cards (both)
- Bank/investment accounts (both)
- Cell phones (both)
- Cable/phone/internet (Dayna – Update: March dates STILL unavailable! I moved Malik to Monday on my calendar)
- Electric current/new (Dayna)
- Insurance– renters, life, disability, medical, dental, vision (RB)
- Payroll / 401k (RB)
- Driver’s Licenses/Car Registration (Dayna)
- EZ Pass (Dayna)
- Find a New Garage (RB)
- Newspaper subscriptions (RB)
- Magazine subscriptions (Dayna)
- Netflix – and now Bookins! (Dayna)
- Gym – especially if it’s necessary to change your “home gym.” (both)
- Doctors (both)
- Email friends/family (both)
The nice thing about having a full month is that you will receive mail from the “important ones.” And if you’ve gone paperless with these institutions, you’ve got less work to do! But even if you’ve missed a few, you can put a safety in place. Fill out the Official Change of Address Form online at USPS.com. The post office will forward certain classes of mail to your new address for up to 12 months – beginning with your move date. Looking for a way to cut back on catalog clutter? Now’s a good time to opt out of receiving your current culprits – they aren’t automatically forwarded! (This is one of my jobs — but since you can set this up anytime, I took care of it while I was finding the link for this post.)
What else did I take care of today? I got rid all of our old VHS movies. We don’t even have a VCR anymore. I made a list of them all – many were favorites that would be nice to replicate on DVD some day. (That is…until my Wii streams Netflix this spring!). This purge freed up 2 large plastic under-bed boxes. There’s definitely a better use for those in the new place.
Of course, I saved the tapes that had home movies on them — I have a vague to-do of getting those digitized sometime this year. In any case – I don’t mind moving 5 tapes with us to the new place….it was the 30+ that was killing me!
These were some gems I uncovered in the great VHS toss-out of 2010:
What’s the best way to manage your to-do lists? I’ve got at least 7 different lists floating around – sometimes the to-do item appears on all 7, and sometimes things fall through the cracks. I had good intentions, but it’s not working.
I absolutely give you credit for the list-making. Getting those to-do items out of your head and onto paper is a great way to feel in control of a project, a shopping trip, a life… Trouble is, with 7 lists out there, you now have to check 7 different places to make sure you covered everything. I strongly believe in having all your to-dos consolidated in one place – whether it’s set up:
- Digitally – there are some great Apps out there for this purpose (like Remember The Milk), but a running Word doc could also work
- In a notebook – perhaps with dividers/sections for the areas of your life that require to-do lists, or
- On the wall – products like IdeaPaint makes it easy to create a whiteboard on just about any surface, and you can create your own sections using electrical tape
The trick is to find a to-do list type that works for you. Visually, I love the look of a sectioned whiteboard – with one glance I can see everything that’s going on, broken down by category. Trouble is, I also love the physical act of crossing something off my list. Erasing from a whiteboard simply doesn’t give me the same satisfaction. Plus, when an item is erased, it’s gone forever – but when it’s crossed off, you can look back and see what you’ve accomplished. So for me, the answer is a whiteboard/notebook hybrid. Here’s a look at the way I handle my own Chaos Theory to-do list (those blackout shapes are there to protect client identities and other sensitive information):
I wanted the look of a whiteboard on paper – but it needed to be able to handle a lot of information. The answer was an 11″x14″ sketchbook that I divide using a ruler and a sharpie. I assign categories to each section (General Chaos Theory, Client Projects, Business Development, NAPO, Blog Brainstorm, and On My Mind), and when I think of something I have to do, I write it into the proper section. New project arises? Adding a section is as simple as drawing a blue line.
So that’s the master list. A great source of information, but overwhelming if I wanted to use it for the day-to-day. That’s where my ONE sticky note comes in:
Each evening, I plan for tomorrow. Using a combination of deadlines and my general whim, I peruse the larger list and decide what I will get done the next day. That gets listed on the sticky, stuck to the master notebook, and thrown out at the end of each day. Then I make my master list cross-outs for the day (oh the pleasure!), and plan for tomorrow. Something I didn’t get to today? That’s OK, it can move to tomorrow’s sticky. Find myself with extra time? I can peruse the master for a task to fill the hour.
Like the way I set this up? Try it on your own, using the to-do categories of your life. If this isn’t the solution for you, there are plenty of methods out there. If you need help figuring out what’s right for you, don’t hesitate to email!
Got an organizing question of your own? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll answer it in an upcoming Ask the Organizer Friday!
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