August 30, 2015

PSA: The Blog is Moving!


Hey everyone! Hope you're having a great weekend!

Not going to lie, life has been a bit on the insane-crazy-drama-happy-exhausting-draining side over the last few weeks. I got away this weekend for the wedding of a very close family friend and it's just what I needed. Seeing my framily (yes, that's a word), letting go, having some fun with my nieces and pressing the reset button - if even for only a few hours - was exactly what I needed. I'm going to need this happy memory as I head back to work and into another busy week.

As you guys know, I'm going through a branding process for my business and the blog...and along with the new branding, my site will be moving off blogger and onto Wordpress. I owe you a few updates on this topic as a lot has been happening already behind the scenes. Will get to that asap. I've been working with the absolutely priceless Lesley of The Launch Girls and Chaotically Creative. While we've been working on other things, she suggested I get in touch with the company that will migrate the blog over to the new site (RFE Hosting, for those wondering). We were expecting that would happen closer to the end of September and around the time the branding, formatting, etc would have been decided. We figured, let's give them a heads-up so we can get a lead-time or just get on their schedule.

But guess what...looks like the blog migration may be happening TOMORROW morning!

Yes, Monday.

And yes, before my logo and branding and site formatting is complete.

Even Lesley was surprised with how quickly RFE was available to do the transfer. This is so typical in my life, but I'm not complaining because I know there's a bigger plan I'm unaware of. And I think part of that plan is the Lord giving me time and grace to figure out how to use Wordpress. Ha!

So, I'm popping in here today to make you aware that the site may appear off for a bit. After the transfer, Lesley is going to make the site look ok by adding my old logo, so you may see some familiar things but the final product won't be up until the end of September. If you are following via BlogLovin or RSS, you should be fine. If you follow via Google Friend Connect, I believe that will be gone. So make sure you've subscribed to the blog in another way - I'd miss you!!

Thank you for your patience during this process! I'll be spending a lot of time watching Wordpress tutorials...Lesley gave me some good resources for that too! Yay!

Happy Sunday everyone! And I'll see you on the other side :-)

August 27, 2015

Organized Freezer: Top / Bottom Style Fridge


Last week I shared the details behind my organized freezer drawer in my garage fridge...

Many of you reached out to ask about additional ways to organize a freezer...for example, a fridge that's a top / bottom model. In my home, the kitchen fridge opening is super tiny. It's meant for a 1960s size fridge. Clearly, since then fridge styles and sizes have changed. While I've had to adjust quite a bit to life in my tiny kitchen with my tiny top / bottom fridge, I've still managed to make the most of this small freezer...



August 26, 2015

Organized Master Calendar


Anyone already feeling the pressure with school dates, appointments, volunteer requirements and classroom calendars flooding in? *raises hand - very high* Am taking my own advice, remembering one day / one thing at a time, keeping appointments with myself (the gym) and breathing in that fresh air. It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks as I got my 3 kids back to school (2 different schools) and had some high priority, last second deadlines dropped in my lap. All exciting things, but there's only one Sam here to do it all.

When I'm feeling the pressure, I find getting more organized releases the stress. May sound crazy because, yes, I'm already pretty organized. But when there's so much responsibility on your shoulders and dates, projects, clients and more to stay on top of...my master calendar is what keeps my head on straight and where I turn to know all is well in my little world.

I've tried going digital, but with everything there is to manage (including 3 kiddo schedules) it looked visually cluttered to me. The last thing I need to see is something that stresses me, doesn't mesh or goes against my grain. So what I'm sharing today is paper-based...but it works, my friends!

2 years ago I shared my master calendar binder here on the blog and it was pretty close to the version I'm sharing today...

Why did I make the change? Because Martha Stewart stopped carrying her calendar insert. Boo! I tweaked my binder one year ago (almost to the day) to my updated master calendar...

And happy to report what I'm sharing today is simple tweaks off that very same system. Earlier this year, I switched to a new binder and removed the extra divided sections in an effort to save my back. Those sections needed to live at home in a household binder because I was lugging around all this paper in my work bag - which meant my back was killing me. My calendar goes everywhere with me so the less weight I have on my back, the better. Literally. ;-)

My secret weapons for an organized master calendar...

August 25, 2015

Simply Done: Big Improvement in the Big Apple


When it comes to cramped living spaces, city living is at the top of the list. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I hear about and see endless organization challenges faced by those living in small apartments, condos and homes. But have to admit, New York City may have us beat in this department. As you can imagine, for a professional organizer, I'm in for the challenge and have a passion for maximizing small spaces. So when I was given the opportunity to travel to NYC to help 2 people maximize their tiny, city-apartment-size, kitchen space - with the help from Shelving.com / TheShelvingStore.com - I ran with it!

Shelving, Inc reached out after finding me and my love of wire shelving on Instagram. They are correct, I do love a good wire shelf. While some spaces need a step-up with a solid shelf or built-in unit, many times wire shelving can easily solve the problem...And then some given all the cool liners, shelf attachments and accessories available these days! Shelving.com and TheShelvingStore.com have it all. This sweet, family-owned business offers exceptional customer service (and blogger service), has a staff ready to help choose the correct system for you and an endless list of products. Personally, I got lost on the site myself dreaming of products that would work for my clients.

But let's talk about the before in NYC. First up, was surveying the scene through images shared long-distance and, yes, my people indeed needed some help...


This tiny kitchen, with very little counter and cabinet space, was in desperate need of vertical storage. They had 2 small wire shelving units, but check out the wasted space above. Since this is an apartment, I also had the additional challenge of not being able to build a system into the wall. Free-standing wire shelving to the rescue!

August 20, 2015

Organized Freezer Drawers


With back-to-school upon us and calendars filling up with fall activities (yes, already!), I love spending a little time cleaning out the fridge, freezer and pantry. And my phone is ringing off the hook with clients wanting help with that as well as homework stations! Getting those areas organized not only helps breakfast and lunch-making prep run smoothly in the morning, it also helps get that dinner menu plan back in order for the evening. So hard to think about "planning" after a carefree summer meal schedule, huh?

Many of us enjoy a weekly meal plan for the school year. I've done this before and it works well to take the guesswork out of "what's for dinner?!" each night...especially when you're exhausted after a long day. Personally, I'm aiming for improvement in this area this coming school year. And I should be successful because I've scaled back our after-school obligations quite a bit. 

In years past, I've had 3 kids in various after-school activities / sports. But with my busy business and homework ramping up as the kids get older, I noticed we were all tired and worn down at the end of a school day. I considered how our overall attitudes and health were during the last school year and decided we need a break. This fall is going to be more intense in other areas so I made an effort to say "no" when / where I can and am shifting focus to what matters / what must get done, which will give us a lot of after-school down time. It was hard to do and still struggle when I see fun sport clinic invites come through my inbox. But this fall with a few changes, that mom gut is saying slow down a bit. 

I totally believe that spending a little time getting your spaces organized - especially something as high-traffic as your fridge, freezer and pantry - will save your sanity and your time in the long run. I can't stress enough how important it is to not overbook yourself, your kids or your family. Think about what's important and how everyone felt last fall or over the last school year. No one can fault you for shifting more focus on the good things that make everyone feel better. 

That said, let's talk freezer organization! What a segway huh? ;-)

My children are creatures of habit when it comes to meals. I do my best to bring in new ideas, but we always end up back with the typical. So I make sure to have those on hand in my garage fridge, which acts as an overflow and am sure many of you have the same. But even if your main / only fridge is in your kitchen, this inexpensive freezer drawer organization idea is something you don't want to miss! 

My garage fridge is a Samsung that looks like this with the deep freezer drawer on the bottom...


I love this fridge and wish it fit *inside* my house, but the fridge opening in my kitchen is a 1960's size...so it's out here in the garage for now. As you can imagine, since it's outside, the kids and our neighborhood friends raided it all summer. It needed a serious cleaning before the school year began. This freezer always annoyed me because of the depth and inability to keep anything organized or easy to find without digging. For a long while I've been doing this project for clients, so don't ask me why I finally took a moment to do this in my own. #smacksforehead

Before, you can see items were reachable but there was certainly room for improvement and a whole lot more space...


And the after!...


August 12, 2015

How I Organize My To-Do Lists


Are your to-do lists getting longer as back-to-school gets closer? Do you write your list (or lists) and start tackling it right away? Or do you feel intimidated / suffocated by what you see on the list so you lose motivation to do anything? Not sure where to begin? Feel like you're chasing your tail?

Then I hope this post will help!

We need to take a collective deep breath as the school year nears. *deep breath in through the nose...slowly release it through the mouth* Seriously, do this a few more times before reading this post. Not because I'm about to stress you out. On the contrary, this post should empower yet calm you at the same time.

Take a moment to think about your lists. Ask if what you're putting on the list is really important. I think many of us fall prey to what we think is important, yet isn't. Ever felt like you've been running around all day doing things, but at the end of the day you ask yourself what exactly you got done? *raises hand* I've been there too! Structure your lists in a way that allow you to feel accomplished...meaning you're actually getting things done. Not just things, tasks that really matter!

Let me go ahead and shatter your World for a second...to-do lists never end or go away. So unless you're working on a project to-do list that has a defined, outlined start and end, your to-do lists will never be empty. Because to-do lists are a part of life, I'm going to share with you how I manage mine. I'm always successful with this system because I don't set myself up to fail to begin with. I hope my system makes you feel successful too! Some of you may prefer digital over paper, and that's totally fine. For me, I'm a paper girl. So while what you'll see here is paper-based...feel free to adapt for digital. That's absolutely possible!

If you're visual, like me, having hanging files (these are from the old Martha Stewart Home Office collection) within view can be incredibly helpful for getting more done!...


August 8, 2015

My Work-Out Program


As we gear up for back-to-school, many of my mom readers out there may be scheming planning all the things you'll do with those few peaceful, kid-free hours. And I'm certain working out is on that dream list.

I mentioned this month that in prep for the back-to-school routine around here I'd be sharing a few personal posts including recipes and organization tips to help during this time. I'll be sharing my day-to-day organization and how I structure my to-do lists and calendars with you too. But my workout program was on this list. While some of you may wonder why, it's because I believe if you're organized you can fit a workout program into your life - even with a small amount of available time.

I'll admit, it's only been in the last 2 years that I've embraced a regular fitness regime. For years it was something that ended up at the bottom of the list. Why? There were lots of excuses, but just as many genuine reasons too. A couple reasons? My gym (in Arkansas and here in California) doesn't offer childcare. Another is I was busy being pregnant and having 3 children for about 5 years. I figured...oh, I'm chasing kids around all day - that's plenty of exercise. While this is sorta true (some of my lowest weigh-in's were during the toddler years while chasing little people everywhere), we need to get that heart rate up and get moving.

And here's a bad excuse...I was busy putting everyone else before me.

As mothers I think it's easy for reasons and excuses to happen. Especially when our children are small. As they get older, it's easier to find pockets of time to workout without the guilt. So I'd say, as I do in almost everything in life or with the people who hire me, don't put a lot of pressure on yourself and do it when it works for you...but do it, even if you start small / slowly!

You can start by getting up 10-15 minutes earlier each morning to do a little stretching and yoga. You can do squats while folding laundry. You can do abs in front of the tv while the kids watch Dora or Sesame Street. It's not only a good example to set for them, but it's GOOD FOR US. Women need to workout that heart!

That said, you guys know how busy I am. Yet even I manage to squeeze a fitness program into my life. For the last 2 years. While managing home improvements, a growing business, day-to-day house stuff, kid stuff, sports, homework and more - yes, I did! It's possible and I'm here to give you hope.

August 5, 2015

Branding Process: The Brand Stylist Manifesto (Free Download)

While attending the Haven Conference in Atlanta a few weeks ago, I sat in on a branding workshop...which by the way was hugely popular. Forget about standing room only, there were folks standing and sitting on the floor in the back of the room. It was an incredibly informative session with 3 of the sweetest girls presenting and motivating us. I promise guys, the recap is coming soon. But the girls fired me up so much about the branding topic that I've jumped ahead of my recap and head-on into this. ;-)

You'll recall the other day I shared that Simply Organized is moving to Wordpress and I'll be developing a new site as well as branding. The creative process from start to finish is going to take a while...because I'm going to do it right. The first time. Because branding takes a while anyway, why not get started?

Also, I promised in that post to share my experience with you - the good, bad, ugly and true costs. The branding process is something I'll share a lot about in here as a way to journal my ideas and feelings, keep track of what's happening in real time, flush out thoughts about ideas my branding person presents me and more. Maybe do a little whining and crying too...oh yes. I'm sure there will be some of that. I'm not a perfectionist, but I can see myself really putting my heart and soul into this experience to get the perfect (for me) end result. I'd love to hear your feedback too!

Anyway, the ladies presenting mentioned a book and I jumped on it right away. It's called How To Style Your Brand...
(click book to purchase from Amazon)

You may be able to find the book elsewhere. I didn't look around...I knew trusty Amazon would have it because they have everything, right?!

Just one chapter into the book and I'm already so inspired and geared up to get going. I'm anxious to dig in, but also anxious to take my time. Her questions are thought-provoking and I'm looking forward to getting a big journal to answer every last one. (That's jargon for just another reason to head out to buy a pretty pad of paper - haha!).

But seriously, I'm grateful to have been recommended to this book. The author makes it clear that you should not only take your time but be totally honest with yourself and your designer. Your brand really should be true to who you are and represent exactly what you represent. While the idea of sitting down and writing down exactly what I am seems simple...we're talking about taking those facts and turning them into simple things that say who you are in a couple words or an image / logo or a color or a typesetting. Talk about pressure to get it down right...the first time.

She is inspirational and am sure she is way out of my price range to do my branding...I'll still be checking though. Thankfully, she was kind enough to literally write the book for us! ;-) Her name is Fiona Humberstone - The Brand Stylist. You can find out more about her cute little self right here on her site.

#girlcrush #notashamedtoadmit

In the preface, she shares a Brand Identity Manifesto as a free download and I immediately thought about sharing it here with you. It's beautiful, simple and real...