October 27, 2014

How Do I Get More Organized and Where Do I Start?


Yep, the 2 questions organizers hear all the time. Would you be shocked if I told you the answer is easy? Simple? Doable? Even if you aren't the OCD organizing type? 


Haha…it's definitely not doing that! Although, that would be a fun experiment.

Maybe some of you have taken to google or pinterest to find the answer to getting more organized. And in the process of doing that I'm sure you found a lot of answers, ideas, theories and all those pictures. But chances are within 15 minutes you felt overwhelmed, got sucked into the pretty "after" images and were left feeling more unmotivated, sad and defeated….which is where you started in the first place and why you're asking these questions to begin with. 

Right?

My answer to these 2 questions is easy, my friends….

It's about being motivated, setting goals and 
deconstructing those goals into small tasks so that you stay motivated.

There it is. 

I'll say it again. If you want to be more organized and stay organized, it's about setting goals, breaking down the goals into small tasks and then being consistent by following a system you set in place. Yes, it's that simple. There's no need to shock your system into a new way of living come January 1. Habits take time to change. It's behavior modification at its most basic level. 

You set a goal.

You deconstruct it.

You knock little tasks off your list.

You achieve your goal.

Enough of my chatter, let's get to the point here, right? But first, while I'm a professional organizer, I don't profess to know it all. I'm always learning new things, but I've been doing this long enough to know what works and doesn't...and I know where people get hung up or struggle. So, if someone asked me, I'd say keep the right attitude, have fun with it - it's just stuff after all!….


(Keep in mind I'm also giving a view from 35k feet. I couldn't possibly share all of the nitty gritty details in this one post. I'll dig deeper soon with you guys. For now, I'm not going to overwhelm you.)

And then I'd say these are my top bullet-points:

1. What needs organizing? Start by understanding what in your space is disorganized. And what it is you want to change. What's frustrating you? Are you losing your keys every morning? Do you have a room / closet in your house where the clutter gets tossed before guests arrive? Do you spend 20 minutes or more hunting down an item that "I know I saw somewhere!"? Do you have piles of paper on the kitchen counter, in the front entry, the office? Is your entire house a mess? Maybe it's your car or office space outside your home? 

To begin, take some time (a few days or more) to write it all down and figure out the main overarching categories. Here's an example of a main category list…


Knowing and defining the areas you're struggling in is your first step. Always


2. Break it down. Once you have your main categories listed, break down each of them into doable, realistic, small tasks. 

Maybe in the month of January you'll choose to focus on your home office. This tends to be the hot spot in any home no matter what time of year, but especially in January as we come down from our holiday high and head into tax season. As you break down the main topic of "home office", you'll want to be specific and not write down something like "make the home office more functional". Instead, remember we're talking action items. Here's an example:

* Week 1: Gather paper into one spot (out of entry, off kitchen counters). Remember, you won't be able to define a successful paper flow system unless you know what you're working with - so get it all in front of you. 

* Week 2: Sort through papers and shred / recycle anything I'm not keeping.

* Week 3: Buy manilla folders and labels. 

* Week 4: Label and file.

Here's an example for a child's bedroom…

You get the idea, but what's important here is to remember that getting organized takes a little work up front. And to keep you motivated, breaking down the big main category into smaller tasks will not only move you in the direction of your goal, but also keep you motivated. You'll see your space begin to transform and you'll see that you're knocking items off the list, actually moving toward the end of your goal! 


3. Set a deadline. Now that you've got it down on paper (or digitally, if you work better that way), set little deadlines for yourself. If you tend to work slower, give yourself a full month to work on one room. So break your goals down into weekly assignments for yourself. If you tend to work faster and want to get it done, break it down over one week's time by giving yourself one job each day. 

Setting a deadline and meeting it because you dissected it into small tasks gives you a sense of accomplishment. If you're feeling the lack of motivation (we all do sometimes!), consider recruiting a friend and tackle your clutter together. Set goals and knock them off the list each week, then share what you're up to. Having someone hold you accountable could be a helpful strategy for some of us. Maybe at the end of the month, when you've tackled one main goal heading, treat yourself to a girl's night out to celebrate your success!


4. Visual Inspiration. If you're the type the needs a little visual motivation, find a few spaces that inspire you - either from a magazine or pinterest or a favorite blogger / author you follow - print it out, and clip it to your goal category list or the side of your fridge (unless you don't like eye clutter - like me!). Inspiring images can be helpful…inspiring quotes help too. 


5. Be kind to yourself. If you're not the organizing type, it takes time to get into the swing of purging, sorting, giving away your things (*shudder!*) and creating / following new systems. I've heard varying answers to this question, but the theory I've heard most is on average it takes 66 days to form a new habit. Yes - days and days….and days….so don't let a few missteps ruin all your hard work. Take it easy on yourself during this process. 

As with anything you want to work for, it's about setting goals, breaking them down into tasks and then getting it done. Getting more organized works exactly the same way! New Year's is just a couple months away (yup, I said it!) so I hope you'll keep this easy break-down in mind as you head into the holidays. Consider starting your list of main categories right now. Or maybe you'll want to go ahead and jump feet first into a category. Either way, know that getting more organized is easy! Hope I've helped take some of the mystery and stress out of this topic for you!

And I hope these funny e-cards help you remember to keep the humor in all of this and keep that smile on your face...



Have a great day!!


October 23, 2014

Simple DIY: Hose Holder


Slowly but surely I'm winning the war against dirt on this property.

Me vs. dirt.

I've come a long way from when there wasn't a paved driveway and cars could pull directly up to the pool in the backyard. Ha! The addition of landscaping (guessing sometime in next spring) will help cover even more dirt. In the meantime, I was tired of getting dirty when I watered something or used the hose for a project. So, when I saw what my Shanty girls did and what my southern belle Katie did…I literally stood up from my desk, grabbed my car keys and drove directly to The Home Depot to buy my supplies. Not kidding. I'm sorta crazy like that when I find a perfect solution to a problem area.

I have 4 spots around the house where there's a hose laying in dirt or hanging around. First one is over here by the play structure…


Yes, it's up off the ground, but the hose holder doesn't even fit correctly between the house siding. It's mounted on an angle. For the OCD lady in me, I've been wanting to tear the thing down with my bare hands since we bought the house. And when it's time to paint the exterior (no idea when that will happen), it will come down anyway and I won't mount another one on newly painted siding.

Then there's this hose directly in front of the house…

Yup, laying around in the dirt.

The 2 hoses in the back are directly outside the living room french doors, also on the ground…


And the wall-mounted version outside the door to the garage…

The 2 in the backyard will need to wait because I've run into an issue with underground piping. Ugh! However, I went ahead and built 4 of these bad boys to get them all out of the way. And I'm going to tell you exactly how I made them as well as how I set the posts in the ground.

Here's what you'll need for this super easy job - keep in mind I built 4. If you only need 2, just half the list…

I set up my work table outside since I'd be sanding and spray painting. You'll need fresh air for this project...

I bought 2 4 x 4 x 8's and had them cut in half at The Home Depot. This gave me 4 4 x 4 x 4's. Instead of building special caps like the girls did, I found these pre-made post caps in the lumber section...

Already assembled, cute design and only $$6.27 each!...

To start, I attached the post caps to my 4x4's with wood glue...



Then I used my air gun brad nailer to give them added support...


Once that was done, I sanded down the 4x4's. This gave me a smooth surface for the paint as well as handling them for setting...

This next step is going to be a personal preference. You'll add a wall-mounted hose rack to the 4x4. For me, I measured down from the top of the 4x4 to about 12" and that is where I placed my first screw...

Placement will depend on how deep you plan on posting these in the ground and how high up you prefer your hoses to sit.

Once the hose rack was attached, I placed each of them on scrap wood and a painting tarp. Then I went to town with my spray paint...

I gave each post 2 coats, turning them over and around to make sure every bit of wood was covered. The color I chose was Dark Walnut by Rustoleum. I allowed them to dry completely for a few days. This also gave me time for the hole digging process. Unfortunately, I ran into issues with underground piping - the french drain system and sprinkler system, to be exact. So before you start this project, be sure to check the ground to make sure this solution work for you. As I said previously, I'm struggling now in the backyard with the remaining 2 posts. It will be resolved, it's simply a matter of locating the right spot to dig.

Moving on…

Dig a hole about 12-15" deep…

This was my first time working with a bag of concrete - so so easy, you guys! Don't be intimated. I read the back of the bag and it was all good. I filled the hole 1/3 of the way with water...

Placed my post in the hole and added the concrete…

It sets quickly so move fast. Once the concrete is poured, stir it around with a stick or paint stick...

Don't allow the concrete to be too soupy. If it looks liquidy, add more concrete and keep stiring. Once you see the concrete stiffening (minutes here!), use a level to be sure every side is standing straight and level…

I checked the top both ways as well as the sides...

Once the concrete was stiff, I covered up the remaining hole with dirt, which there is no shortage of around here. Then I wrapped up my hose on its new rack!...

So much better than the wall-mounted version that was here previously. And once there's some nice landscaping around it, this area will be lovely...

I did the exact same thing for the hose in the front yard…

Much better than laying on the ground...

And again, will look even better once there's some landscaping in this bed...

Total cost to build 4 hose holders = $99. Works out to about $24 each! Not bad when you consider how much those fancy hose holders from Ballard Designs cost.

Go build something today and make it a great day!!


October 22, 2014

NAPO San Francisco Regional Conference


My local San Francisco Bay Area NAPO chapter hosted our annual conference on Friday and Saturday. I mean, come on...really? Two days with fellow organization-loving professionals? There are no words.

Ok, ok - of course, I'll try…because this is a blog afterall. ;-)

I'm still coming down from my conference high. There is so much to share about the books, apps, companies, solutions, authors and my fellow NAPO members that there's not question it must be broken up into a series. So, today I'm sharing the session topics I attended and a little about each of the presenter's. And I figured this was a good time to talk about my connection to NAPO and why I'm a member…since we are talking NAPO stuff here.

I'm still working out the "and then…". I'd love to share the info learned during each session, but I'll need to get the ok from the presenter's because it's their content. The ultimate idea is to interview each presenter (and more of my fellow professionals) for a monthly series I'll coin "from the pro's". Give me some ideas you guys! Maybe you aren't interested at all and would rather see more images of me kicking over a mailbox, shoveling dirt, labeling files or spray painting office supplies. ? ;-)

But first, let me quickly drop a few bullet points about the weekend to get my annoying excitement out of the way.

Number one - 2 days in my city?! Where I was born and raised. Heaven. And the weather was spectacular! Check this out…

Yes, that's a real image. No editing necessary. Snapped it on my cell phone. This bridge. *insert my heart melting* Perfection! It was a picture perfect weekend here in the Bay Area.

Number two - 2 days among fellow organization-loving peeps. Ummm, hello. There's not much that competes with talking all things organization amongst those that love doing it as much as (if not more than) me, right?

Number three -  The conference information and what I gleaned was incredible! I'm inspired and motivated...and you guys are going to benefit from that, big time. Lucky you?

Number four - I connected with amazing companies that offer various organization solutions….all of which I will happily pass along to you in another post.

Number five - Bouncing off number four, I live in the tech capital of the World. Hello, Apple and it's million (billion?) apps. While I'll be sharing the apps I learned about during the conference, I'm excited to share fellow companies located in the Bay Area...because it's my home and I love giving my hometown people a boost. I'm proud of the genius entrepreneurs living amongst us. Many whom are related to organization!

Now that I was able to vomit out the excitement, thankyouverymuch…Let's start with why I'm a member of NAPO.

You may have noticed the 2 NAPO logo's on my sidebar. If you aren't familiar with the organization, or on the occasion I mention it again and you're puzzled, NAPO is the National Association of Professional Organizers. NAPO is a group of approximately 4,000 professional organizers dedicated to helping people bring order and efficiency to their lives. Their mission is to have the World recognize the value of organizing and turn to NAPO as the leading organizing authority. As a consumer, you have access to advice, insight and a directory of NAPO professionals in your area.

I love my little blog and have no plans to walk away from it, but I do have bigger plans for my professional self outside of blogland. I want to help people - in real life...in person - work through their messes. It's my passion to share easy, simple solutions so that people and families can enjoy their spaces. Currently, I'm working on my mission / plans for my little business. I've connected with a web developer / designer to get the blog and new site looking more professional (and user friendly!). (Did anyone notice my new domain name?) So, as a business owner, I want some level of credibility behind my name. NAPO gives me that. I have a college degree in Counseling, however since I've branched off into professional organization, I recognize there is more I need to do within my profession. Again, NAPO gives me the education and credibility.

As a member of NAPO, I'm not only connecting with my professional network (this alone is invaluable!), I'm also gaining education on various topics, have access to product discounts for clients and more. If I felt like going all crazy-organization (yes, there are ways to take this obsession career over the top, if you wish), one could become a certified professional organizer (CPO). Or gain additional certifications through ICD. Right now, not sure how much certification I'm leaning into. I'm learning the details and connecting with colleagues that are certified to gain answers. At this point, I'm taking it one step at a time…first step - I joined NAPO...second step - I then joined my local San Francisco chapter, which has been absolutely amazing. Arkansas doesn't have a local chapter, so I couldn't wait to join the SF chapter after the move. The local chapter offers neighborhood meetings, trainings, an annual conference, and more.

(Disclaimer - I'm not making money by sharing anything in this post…or if you click through any of the links embedded here - with the exception of my Amazon store in the event you want to buy a book I shared below. This is simply my way of sharing info and ideas with you guys, since you come here for organization advice / info. I really didn't have to do this recap. I was just excited about the info learned at the conference and felt compelled to share!)

The conference started on Friday, which happened to be the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. The quake was in 1989 and it's shocking to me that I'm of the age to say I experienced it and can look back on it 25 years later. Have to admit, it was also a little bizarre that the quake occurred when the Giants were in the 89 World Series…and here they are in it again. Interesting coincidence. Anyway…

Since the conference began on the quake's 25th anniversary, what better way to begin than with a session about Emergency Preparedness.


Margaret Lukens, owner and principal of New Leaf Company, gave a wonderful presentation on being prepared for anything and everything…like what to keep in your car, where to store emergency supplies in your home, and how to create a communication plan for your family. I'm hoping to interview Margaret and share it here on the blog. Incredible info that everyone should be thinking about…because no matter where you live, there is the possibility of a natural disaster or non-natural disaster of some kind.

On Friday, we also heard from Andrew at BackBlaze


BackBlaze is an incredible company that offers unlimited online backups for just $5 a month. I hope you've never experienced the loss of a hard drive. We heard several stories about the sad reality that most people they hear from are those that have already suffered a hard drive crash. The best bet is to be backed up BEFORE something happens. For $5 a month? Not bad!

One of the statements that stood out to me during Andrew's presentation was "your data doesn't exist until it's stored in 3 places". You should have your data stored on 2 different storage mediums as well as 1 copy offsite…by companies like BackBlaze.

BackBlaze is also a member of NAPO, which means you know they are reliable / credible! They were recently featured on The Ellen Show too…


Saturday morning started bright and early with our keynote speaker, Judith Kolberg


Judith pioneered the field of organizing. She founded the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization, which is now the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). She specializes in working with chronically disorganized people in the business environment. She has authored 6 books, numerous special reports and received the industry's highest honors. 

Her speech was fun, informative and motivating. She spoke about organizing in the era of endless. We truly are living in the era of endless. So how do you navigate in a World like this? This constant state of "mental triage" we live in?

As with Margaret, I'm hoping to interview Judith for the blog, but in the meantime you can find her book on this topic right here by clicking on the image…

I have this and other books she has written in my Amazon store (on the blog sidebar) if you are interested in reading about them or purchasing. 

After a great keynote, we were able to choose from several break-out sessions. I wanted to attend all of them! Too difficult to choose one! In session one, I attended the Chronic-ness of Chronic Disorganization, presented by the amazing Regina Lark…


Regina is the founder and president of A Clear Path, based in Los Angeles. She's a board certified professional organizer and specializes in working with people with chronic disorganization, ADHD, and hoarding. She spoke about how what we don't know can hurt them. This was only part 1 of her session, she had a part 2 but I attended a different break-out session (shared below). Awesome information and again, am hoping to interview her for the blog. However in the meantime, if you're interested in more, there's an interview right here on her website. Her website is full of incredible information and resources too!

In session two, I attended a great presentation on building a better You Tube channel. Haha! Soooo, if you've been reading here a while you're aware that I started a You Tube channel (of sorts - psht) earlier this year….and now you know why I chose to attend this session instead of finishing Regina's part 2. Wow, did I learn a ton about making my channel better for you guys. The session was presented by Kacy Paide of The Inspired Office…you must check her out. She's adorable and has incredible office organization videos!…


Told you - precious

Thanks to Kacy, you will be enjoying much better videos from me in the future….oh, and much shorter videos ;-)

Don't click away just yet to watch Kacy (I got sucked into her channel too, I know!), because I attended one last session before the conference wrapped up. To finish out the day I learned about effective time management, or as Lisa calls it "energy management". 

Lisa Montanaro squeezed a ton of useful information into her 75-minute presentation. I think she said this was normally a 3-hour presentation…she spoke quickly, was funny and adorable! She was able to squeeze it all in because she also has a ton of energy! Lisa is a productivity consultant, success coach, business strategist, speaker and author. She's also an attorney and Certified Professional Organizer. You can find out all about her and more here on her website

Oh, she has a You Tube channel…that is much better than mine, too! Ha!…


Besides the loads of information I gained, I was able to network and hang out with some of the best women in the industry. I'm hoping to feature many of them here in months to come. I know each of you will learn new tips and tricks about getting and staying organized from each of them.

Thanks for letting me share! Hope you've made some new "friends" and blogs / channels to follow!


October 21, 2014

Outdoor Halloween Decor


Fall is definitely - finally - in the air around these parts. SF had a heat wave come through, but over the last week it's been colder in the afternoon, evening and morning. When the temps drop, it begins to feel like the season is here. This is one of my favorite seasons and it's such a shame this time of year passes so quickly. I mean, look at football, for example. We're like halfway through the season already.

I'm crying right now just saying that out loud.

There's also excitement in the air with the World Series beginning tonight. Go Giants!

And halloween is fast approaching.

I've had the indoor and outdoor halloween decor set-up for a while. My plan was to share my little tour when the gates were up and decorative lights were lining the driveway. But guess what? Sadly, there won't be halloween decor up the driveway this year. Next year for sure! We had yet another hiccup with the gate (I'll explain later) and that held up the electrical being finished. It will definitely be ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas though….so look out - Sam's going overboard with driveway decor this Christmas to make up for the loss of halloween.

Today I wanted to share the little bit of halloween fun we have going on outside. First of all, I had to freak out the people walking along the regional trail. The front of the house faces the trail and these furry little guys with beady red eyes have been a big hit…





My plan was to hang a few more on the gate. But again *sniff sniff* next year. ;-)

Some friendly faces along the path to the front door…


And they look adorable at night…

They are from Target by the way - have owned them for a long time...

When you arrive at the front door...

I hung a pretty garland (from Michael's) and added white lights.

Oh and this little guy...

Mailbox isn't done yet as well (boo!) or he would have been out there on the street. Remember him from the Arkansas house?..

Next year. Next year.



I picked up a new friend from Costco. Kids named him Skelly. He's a Giants fan, if you didn't notice…

For fun, thought I would share my post from Halloween 2013. You know, back when we were surrounded by dirt and had no outdoor lighting? My, how much a home can change in a year's time. The old front path is gone…

And then there's Halloween 2012, in the Arkansas house. I miss that house so much…

I'll share the interior halloween decor later this week. Have a great day and GO GIANTS!