December 18, 2014

Organized Travel Giveaway!

Hey everyone! Long time no post...and it's not only because the Christmas crunch is upon me. It's mainly due to the fact I've been without home internet service (and a home phone) for the last week. Not that I ever use a home phone, but I certainly need the internet up and running to post over here!

While I've been away, I've continued with projects and taking photos so lucky'll be seeing a lot more blog posts in the coming week as I play catch-up. Along with a very mini-Christmas home decor tour, I have a few organization posts and yet more issues to share about the gate install. (Hint - they are here today...and once again built the gate too wide. Someone wine me, please!)

Anyway, I still don't have internet service and am dealing with a bunch of random home issues today therefore this post will be short, sweet and to the point. But to celebrate discovering my cell phone's personal hotspot ( hummm, that sounds bad :-/ ), I'm here posting this giveaway for you! It was meant to be live on Monday with the hopes the winner would receive / be able to use it for holiday travel any event - here it is, my friends!

Remember last week when I shared a sponsored post about organized travel? It was fun to partner up with Marriott and The Container Store for that post! They sent me some money to purchase a few items for that blog post and I knew I would turn around and give those items away to one of you! :-) I already own enough travel organization products...and I'm pretty sure you guys know how I feel about this giveaway is on me! And I'll ship it out with a little something extra in the package too! ;-)

In case you missed that post, here are the items I wrote about...

These are some of my favorite tools for staying organized when I travel...

When I travel I'm all about utilizing vertical space and these bags help do that...

They hold a lot...

I love the compartments...

They are thin and streamlined and take up very little space when hanging...

And you can fill them with all sorts of things - not just make-up or toiletry items.

These bags hold a ton too and are helpful when you pack items that can't be pared down to a travel size container...

And I love to organize my jewelry in a compartment organizer...

One of you is going to win all 4 items (total value $56)....

As always, I keep giveaway entry simple. Feel free to enter as many ways as you wish! Good luck and I hope you are experiencing a much calmer homefront than me!

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December 11, 2014

20 Ways To Be More Productive & Happier In Your Workspace

There's no denying the fact that a happy worker is a more productive worker. Just walk through your local bookstore and you'll find a bajillion books written on this very topic. Happiness in the workspace generally begins with a job you love or enjoy, a good team of co-workers, an inspiring (non-jerky) boss and a comfortable place to work.

I realize many of you reading along may not be in a job you love or enjoy. Who enjoys working anyway? Well, unless it's something you're passionate about of course. But truthfully, those people you know and admire (envy even?) that are doing their "dream job"...keep in mind they also struggle with tasks that aren't so enjoyable.

So, today I have good news and bad news.

Bad news? I can't help you interview for / get that dream job....I can't hand-pick the team of people you'll work with...And I really can't help you with the jerky boss situation. But...

Good news? I can help you with suggestions on how to be more productive in your workspace. How to be more organized. How to bring a little calm to a situation or job that makes you feel unproductive and uninterested. This list includes tips for those working at home and in an office setting.

1. Create a peaceful work environment: 
I know, this can be easier said than done in some office spaces. But anyone can do small things to bring in some peace (more ideas follow this bullet point). Everyone has something that brings them peace - whether it's photos of your children or a close friend/loved one, a photo of a favorite vacation spot, a focal point that immediately brings you inner peace or happiness. For me, it's as simple as a candle, a cup of coffee and a clean desktop. Working from home is hard because there is a lot to distract me, but I find if I make my workspace cozier, I tend to feel more at peace which means my mind isn't wandering to other things. 

2. Adequate lighting:
Lighting is huge when it comes to working productively. If you have too much light and are working with the glare of a computer screen, it can be harsh and sometimes cause people to either lose focus from too much light energy...or feel overwhelmed and sleepy. Maybe you can turn off the overhead lights and sit near a window. If there aren't windows, try a table lamp on your desk that has a light bulb that puts off a light that's better for you and your work style. 

3. Fresh air:
Again, if you don't have a window you can open, maybe a small battery operated fan that circulates air. Or take small breaks to get outside for some fresh air. Breathing techniques are proven to be helpful. 

4. Plants or flowers:
I pretty much kill every plant I bring inside the house. Outside? - ok. Inside? - not so ok. So, for me I opt for fresh flowers on occasion. This week I found peonies on sale at my local market so I grabbed a bunch to brighten my desktop...

I've heard succulents do well without much water or attention so that's an option for those without the green thumb gene like me. Plants and flowers bring a life and joy to your workspace.

5. Have comfortable decor and chair:
Feeling comfortable in your chair, having your keyboard at the right height, and having items around you that feel like "you" - help you be more productive. You're just more comfortable and happy when you're....comfortable. 

6. Have a specific work area:
If you work from home, have an area designated as your workspace. If you don't have an office, maybe carve out a corner in your kitchen or dining room. A spot in the living room. Some place that isn't "too comfortable" or a spot that makes you think about the billions of chores that need to get done. 

7. Dress comfortably / Get ready:
Comfort comes from what you're wearing too. And if you work from home, get ready! Working in your pjs or sweats can be counter-productive. Everyday I get ready because I'm out in public with the kids or on a job. But even when I know I'm working from home all day, I find when I get dressed a lot more gets done. 

8. Set hours and follow them:
If you work from home, set hours for yourself and stick to them. If you work in an office setting, you can set hours or times during the day when specific things happen...or when you don't do specific things. Own your schedule and your time! Don't let it control you.

9. Finish yesterday's work first:
Before starting a new day's list of tasks, finish what you didn't accomplish yesterday. Enough said here.

10. Have a master to-do list:
This one is huge to me. Having a master to-do list keeps you aware of the big picture but also helps get it out of your head and onto paper (or digitally). I have several master to-do lists for my job, the house, and otherwise. It gives me comfort knowing I'm not relying on my brain to contain and remember it all. Peace comes from within first, my friends. 

11. Have a daily to-do list:
From the master to-do list, pull items for your daily to-do list. If you're thinking about starting this idea, start small. Start by pulling 5 tasks you know you can get done, write them down, then cross them off the list ... and feel accomplished. No need to overwhelm yourself with a daily to-do list that's 20 items deep. That causes stress and more than likely at the end of the day you'll feel sad and defeated that you didn't get those 20 things done. Be realistic!

12. Tackle the hard tasks first:
Many of us are at our best in the morning so take that "fresh" time of day to tackle those hard items on your to-do list first thing. Or tackle the things that you generally dislike doing - whether it's filing or e-mails - just get it done and over with and don't look back for the rest of the day. You can do more of those hard things the next morning. 

13. Set specific task days:
Filing tends to be the task most of us despise. Try working out a schedule to get those things done. For example, set Friday's as filing day. Or Wednesday's as e-mail inbox clean up day. Put it in your calendar and stick to it. If you stay on top of tasks they won't creep up on you and become too overwhelming.

14. Don't forget to take a break - a real break:
Yes yes yes! Take a real break. Not a break where you listen to a friend gossip and you end up taking on that unneeded stress and emotion. Not a break where you sit and scroll through your phone, Facebook or instagram. Turn it all off, go for a walk, sit quietly with the sun on your face, sit in a park and people watch (in a non-creepy way). Disconnect and give your mind a real rest for 15-20 minutes. 

15. Don't multi-task too much:
Yep, multi-tasking doesn't work very well. Sure, you get things done...but are they done completely, with intent and to your best ability? Likely not because no one can do more than one thing well while doing something else at the same time. Try to focus on one task only. It's hard I know because the world we live in loves to multi-task. But give it some mental focus and try!

16. Handle things once:
Don't let things hang around. If you read an e-mail, respond immediately and delete it. If you open a piece of mail, open it completely and recycle the envelope, put the contents wherever is necessary. If you have a piece of paper come across your desk that needs filing, file it. Don't push it aside for later. Which brings me to...

17. Have a paper system that works for you:
Paper is one of the biggest annoyances in a workspace. Paper clutter causes a lot of stress. If your current paper situation isn't working, fix it now. Notice what you're doing or not doing with the paper. Do you need updated files? More folders to contain categories? A shredder under your desk? A scanner? Figure it out and get on top of it. Even if it involved hiring a professional organizer to help you, it's worth the money! Yes, it will be a big task to tackle, but once it's set up and working for you, you're golden!

18: Have some face-to-face time - network:
If you work alone in a job, try to connect with your professional community. I'm amazed how much the blogging world has evolved with various conferences and events we can attend. I haven't attended any yet, but plan to very soon. In my professional organizing career, I've been able to join NAPO, which is a great networking and education organization for peeps like me. Most every industry has a way to network and connect. There's really no bad reason to network. And remember, if you're in a sucky job...networking is often times the best way to find a new one!

19. Don't be chained to e-mail:
Much like Facebook or social media, e-mail can be a real time suck. With our smart phones it's easier than ever to tap on your e-mail app and get an instant update. Try to set times for yourself each day when you check e-mail. Maybe it's once every 3 hours, for example. Then you can focus on the e-mails, reply immediately, and move on with your day. If you stop doing a task just to check e-mail, chances are you're distracted and are only going to lose focus even more.

20. Set a peaceful tone with music:
Many of us respond positively to music. While for some it can be a distraction. But if music works for you, especially while filing or doing something uninteresting, turn it on and be productive.

There are 20 more I could share with you, but these are some of the tips I have found work best not only for those I know, but for myself. Feel free to comment with what motivated you to work happier and more productively!

Have a great day!!

(I linked up with Tatertots & Jello)

December 8, 2014

Organized Travel with TownePlace Suites® and The Container Store® + a Giveaway!

This post brought to you by TownePlace Suites by Marriott®
The content and opinions expressed below are that of Simply Organized.

As if there isn't enough going on during this merry time of year, some of us also have travel plans on our to-do list. Whether you're visiting with or hosting family and friends for the holidays, it's nice to be comfortable and have your own space. Maybe you stay with family, if they have the space available for you and your crew (and can tolerate you and your crew - ha!). Or maybe they don't have room so you stay in a local hotel. Whatever the case, we all need to be comfortable while traveling. We want a little peace and privacy. Some extra room. Some comforts of home. And, if you're like me, the ability to stay organized. So, if you're in the thick of making holiday accommodation plans, this post couldn't come at a better time!

And I couldn't be more excited to team up with The Container Store® and TownePlace Suites® to bring you this post, great info and awesome giveaway for my sweet readers! Today I'm not only sharing info about a new partnership with TownePlace Suites® and The Container Store®, I'm also sharing a few of my favorite travel organization products and tips!


First of all, let me say I was blown away when I heard about this partnership because it's genius. A hotel and organization super store teaming up to keep guests comfortable and organized? There's no better travel combo.

Most guests stay in a hotel on average about 2 days. But during the holidays, family and friends tend to have more time off work and are able to visit longer. This is especially true if you live in a popular destination, like me, where people often want to stay longer, visit and make the most of their time. There's so much to do here in San Francisco that when people visit they tend to make a vacation around it. TownePlace Suites® is different than many hotels because its purpose is to accomodate longer stays. They are specifically designed to meet the unique needs of travelers who are away from home for more than a few nights, usually about 5. They offer spacious one and two bedroom suites that are equipped with a full-size kitchen, free wi-fi, on-site laundry facilities, Home OfficeTM Suites (ergonomic in-room work space), free breakfast, daily housekeeping and lower rates for longer stays.
If that alone doesn't sound amazing, they've teamed up with The Container Store® by adding elfa® closet systems to many of their hotel locations. Currently elfa® is in 11 locations, but the list is growing monthly. See the full list here:

elfa® closet

Yes, an elfa® closet system in your hotel room!

Warning: you may leave your stay with closet envy.

Say buh-bye to the hotel closet with only one rod for hanging. Or maybe you don't even bother unpacking your suitcase, instead leaving it on the folding luggage rack that's typically available in most hotels. During your stay at TownePlace Suites®, you can unpack completely, feel more at home and keep your clothes organized / wrinkle-free. With multiple closet rods, ventilated shelves and hanging drawers how could you not feel more at home and organized?

Hello organized hotel lover...

Just imagine your things neatly unpacked and organized while you internet surf away on free wi-fi! Maybe you'll be sharing photos of your awesome organized hotel room on Facebook! ;-)

If you've never seen an elfa® closet system, I popped into my local Container Store® this week to snap a few pictures...

elfa® is the best solution for any room - closets, garages, pantries, kid spaces...and now TownePlace Suites®!

While I was at The Container Store® I couldn't help but think about additional ways you can stay organized while traveling. They pretty much have every solution you can imagine for being an organized traveler, but I have a few favorite pro tips to share. I grabbed 4 of my go-to travel items to show you how to streamline your packing and stay organized while away from home...

Much like when I make use of vertical space while organizing any home or office, I do the same while traveling. There tends to be very little counter space in a hotel bathroom...or the bathroom counter of a guest room in someone's home. And you want to be especially sure you're a respectable guest in someone's home. Keeping your things tidy is important and helps you easily find what you need when you're getting ready. My go-to's get your items organized vertically but yet are super easy to pack away in any size luggage.

But first, organized traveling starts at home. My bathroom storage closet is outfitted with see-through bins from The Container Store®. I shared that here on the blog a while back, but here's a quick peek in...

When I'm heading out on a trip, all I have to do is grab a toiletry bag, gather my must-have items and pack 'em up. Once I reach my destination, I simply unzip and hang...

I can see everything, it's off the countertops and it's neat and tidy. These organizers are streamlined and thin which means they take up very little room when hanging...

Yet they pack a huge travel organization punch because they contain SO MANY items!

Hey, I'm 40 and I need a lot of products. Don't judge ;-).

The Container Store® sells a great variety of travel items but these are my faves...

I also go for re-useable travel bottles. While some hotel products are nice, I tend to stick with my own, so packing them into bottles and bringing along is easy when you grab a few, spill-proof plastic bottles as seen below. Of course, some of your favorite products may already come in travel-size portions...

Own products you must have on a trip but they tend to be bulky? I do...

These vinyl pouches are awesome! They hold a ton, have a great zipper, are see-through, easily cleaned and they have a handle for hanging as well...

Another travel tip is for my ladies out there that pack jewelry. Personally, I go for a solid jewelry organizer because I know my precious cargo won't get squished or broken. You guys know how much I love compartment organizers...these small two-sided organizers do the trick for me. Just load it up, on both sides, and it's all secure...

TownePlace Suites® and The Container Store® work beautifully together to help you stay organized and more comfortable during your time away from home. To prove that point, TownePlace Suites® is generously offering a Simply Organized reader a $100 gift card toward your stay at one of their locations!

Entry into $100 gift card giveaway is easy - just reply to this question in the comment section below:

What do you do to stay organized on extended-stay travel?

Good luck and travel safe (and organized) this season!

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December 3, 2014

Holiday & Thank You Card Tray

We're 3 days into December which means the Christmas / Holiday cards and party invitations have started rolling in. For you as well, I'm sure. This is the best month of the year to open your mailbox! This season I'm staying organized with a pretty and simple tray that contains everything I need to write Christmas cards or mail thank you notes...

Admittedly, my efforts in mailing Christmas cards in 2013 were not my best. There were so many home projects going on this time last year (ahem - the massive concrete driveway!), I co-hosted my niece's bridal shower, we hosted all of the family holiday gatherings, and then my niece got married 2 days after Christmas. Needless to say, the card writing fell to the bottom of the to-do list. For good reason. But I was sad to not have put more effort in.

This year is different! I'm on my game, baby! And it started by organizing a pretty tray with everything I need in a pinch to mail a Christmas card or thank you note. I found this tray a few months ago at Target...

It can be found in the office supply section. I love the rustic feel, and it's light enough to move around to wherever I'll be writing cards. I can write one card on the spot or if I have multiple cards to write, I can bring the whole tray right along with me to a cozy spot.

So, what's in my tray? First of all, Christmas cards with their matching envelopes...

I also have simple, clear return address labels (Avery brand) that I printed here on the home computer. If you have the option to order your envelopes with the return address pre-printed, that's a good option. Mine are blank so I printed a few sheets using a festive Avery template. You can see them propped up in the back of the tray...

There's a small tin containing various Christmas stamps as well as some of my favorite pens for addressing or writing a note...

There's a few stamps with ink pads - green & silver...

And some washi tape for a fun envelope accent....or if my mouth gets tired of licking envelopes ;-)...

In the far corner is a stack of thank you cards...

With gifts arriving and party hosts that need to be thanked, having these readily available is nice...

That's it! simply organized card tray for the holidays!...

Hope this little idea will be helpful to you during the busiest, merriest time of the year!

Have a great day!