Two very important things that you can do every day to stay positive are to:
Say what you are thankful for. And… Think of something that you have accomplished.
I have made a pretty little printable that you can keep by your computer, bed or in a journal so that you can remember and do this every night. It will make a difference in your attitude and help you remain positive!
January is get organized month! There are a few things that you need to consider before ‘Getting Organized’.
First off there is not a quick fix for organizing. Anything can be organized but it takes a process of maintenance and scheduling to keep things neat and tidy. It is very easy to fall into old habits! Then next thing you know you are back at square one. We have all done that! When Shawna and I used to do in home organizing sessions we would teach our clients how to maintain their space as well. Here’s what you should consider before you start. ~ Why do you want to be organized? If you figure out what is motivating you then it is more likely that you will stick with the project. Do you want to be more efficient? Do you want more space? Will you have less stress? Will you have more time for family/friends? ~ Where should you start? Prioritize and figure out which space. Ask yourself: which area is most chaotic? Which space causes you the most frustration? Go from there. ~ Who will do the work? Is this a space that you can manage on your own? Do you have too much invested emotionally? There are options here. See if a friend can help. They are great to bounce ideas off of and don’t have emotional ties to your stuff so they can stay objective. Perhaps you can research it on your own or maybe you need to call on the help of a professional. A professional can help you focus and break the project down into manageable pieces. ~Lastly, decide on when you are able to start your organizing project. I always go on about this but you really have to schedule time with yourself. Break down the project into bite size sessions. organizing is very rewarding but can also be very taxing on a person.
Hope this helps! For a more detailed step by step answer. Check out our free download on the home page!
“There is no one giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps.” ~Peter Cohen
January always feels like a time for a fresh start to me. I always look forward to filling the pages of my own personal story throughout the year, don’t you?! One thing that many people want to do is to be more organized; it is a very common New Year’s Resolution. Sometimes things don’t always go as planned unfortunately. One mistake that people make with organizing is biting off more than they can chew. Big plans can get out of control and that leads to some serious procrastination!
I have some things that you can do daily to keep your home neat and tidy that are all doable. Some of these you may already do in your own routine. (Kudos to you!)
1. Everything in it’s place. Make sure that every item has a home that makes sense. Ie. All like items in one place. This increases the likelihood of everyone in your house putting them back. If you have no room then it is time to donate, sell or give away a few things.
2. If something is broken then either fix it or don’t. Make that decision and give yourself a timeline to deal with it. Having broken things hanging around is a waste of your precious real estate! (It is also bad Feng Shui as these things symbolize a broken life.)
3. Have a donate box/bin in an easily accessible place where you can have items that you no longer want, love, or need. As soon as it is full take the items to the thrift shop or appropriate new home.
4. Keep flat surfaces clear. This is a toughy! Clean and clear surfaces such as tables and counter tops are magnets for clutter. Keep the mess at bay by doing a quick tidy at the end of the day. Go from room to room with a basket and return items to their spot. Better yet get your family into the habit of helping with this as part of their bed time routine. 😉
5. Do your dishes after your meal. This is a great habit to get into that has been awesome for me in my home! As soon as we are finished our meal together, we each have a job to do; whether it be clearing dishes, washing, drying, or putting away. Then I usually follow and wipe the table and counter tops. It is a pet peeve of mine to wake up to dirty, smelly dishes. A nasty way to start the day is to have to do chores!
6. Another habit that takes just a couple of minutes is to make your bed after you get up. It is such a simple and quick thing to do that automatically makes your room look way better. Start when your kiddos are young in teaching them to pull the covers up when the get up. My seven year old is awesome at this! My teen…well still working on that one!!
7. Do a load of laundry every day or every second day at the most. This makes it so much easier than having a bunch of loads to do at a time. There is always enough to make a load if you think about it. Throw in some towels, a coat or that throw blanket that you have been meaning to wash. Also make sure that laundry ends up in the clothes hampers and not all over the floor. Lastly make sure those clothes get put away. (Why is this task so difficult?)
These things don’t cost money and they cost little time but make a world of difference! Start with one thing at a time and gradually incorporate all of these into your everyday routine.
New Years Resolutions are not my thing. From what I have researched only 8-14% of people will have success with their resolutions. I am not discouraging you from making them; you need to do what is right for you. I just want to give you some theory and really think it through so that you don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Resolutions are paved with good intentions however that just isn’t enough. I do think that it is imperative to understand why they fail so that you have a better chance of succeeding.
Here are my thoughts on why resolutions fail…
1. Goals are too vague or too complex. Either way you are setting yourself up for failure. For example, if you say that this is the year that you are going to get in shape but you don’t have a plan or a reason for doing so then you likely won’t stick with it. Something has to change in order for you to meet your end result.
What can you do? Things like scheduling time for workouts and meal planning would be a great start for getting on your way. Perhaps taking a health class or signing up for an event will get you motivated. Write it down and make it happen.
On the flip side if you make an uber detailed plan with no room for any flexibility you are going to get stressed, overwhelmed and begin to resent what you are doing. Don’t say, “I am going to work out for an hour every day, drink green smoothies twice a day, cut out all sugar, gluten, red meat and sign up for an event every month.” This is not realistic and most people would like to have a life to live beyond this one resolution. If you hate what you are doing then why are you doing it? Keep it simple!
2. Making too many changes at once. You are trying to make too many things a habit at once by saying that you are going to eat healthy, exercise more, get organized and get out of debt this year. This decreases the likelihood that you will make any changes at all.
What can you do? Choose one thing and make it a regular part of your life before you add another. (I read that it takes anywhere from 21-66 days to form a habit.) Prioritize what you want to do and make that a habit before you move on to the next!
3. You should do it. Many of us think that we need to follow the crowd and set resolutions because it is what everyone else is doing. We are ‘supposed to’ live according to the standard and do what everyone else is doing. No. Thank. You. If you cannot pinpoint any value in what you think you should change, you likely won’t do it anyways.
Resolutions and goals take work. So if you are serious about making changes then you have to put in the time. Prioritize, plan, and schedule your way to success. Check in with yourself every now and then as well to stay accountable.
In the digital age, it’s really easy to take photos. They don’t cost anything and we can now take them with our phone, not just our camera! They don’t seem to take up space because they are all digitally stored. But oh…they do take up space:
In our mind – as we worry about losing the memory card or the hard drive
In our hearts – as we stress about the fact that we haven’t yet made that scrapbook since his 2nd year (and now he’s 13)
In our gut – as we get that sinking feeling that we forgot where we stored those CDs of the wedding photos
Yep, these things still take up space – even if they aren’t physically printed and laying there in boxes.
What can we do to deal with these digital photos? There are lots of ways to store them. This lists some ways to store digital files and my thoughts on each.
Photo CD’s and DVD’s
These can store a lot of photos and video. However, they do not last forever; depending upon the quality. These can last from as little as 5 to 10 years to…we don’t know yet! These disks are susceptible to damage just like anything else, so store them properly and check them regularly.
Your Computer Hard Drive (or portable hard drive, networked drive, USB sticks, SD cards)
These are inexpensive and available everywhere. However, I’m sure all of us know someone who has washed or lost a USB stick, wiped a SD memory card by accident, or…the worst…had a total computer hard drive failure. Of course, we all have photos on all of these. These range in sizes as well, able to hold more and more of our precious memories…and thus more at risk of losing them all!
These are available anywhere you have an Internet connection. Some are free; some allow you to pay a low subscription fee to get more space. All of them are “out there”; on the web, so you may have some concerns about where YOUR data is sitting. Some of these tools:
Facebook – we can store and share various albums on Facebook. These are not generally of a large size (makes it difficult to print quality photos later) and if you lose access to your account, you lose access to your photos
Picasa – http://picasa.google.com/ – this is Google’s photo storage and sharing space. You can store larger files, create albums, etc. This synchronizes with the tool that you install on your computer
Microsoft SkyDrive – www.skydrive.com – I have used this in the past, it allows photo, video and document sharing and storage
Dropbox – http://www.dropbox.com/ – This tool is online and has a download for your computer. Use it for any kinds of files. I use this all the time because it synchronizes to the various computers that I use it on. You start with some space for free, but that can go up when you invite others to share with you
4Shared – http://www.4shared.com/ – this site gives you 15 GB of free storage space for all kinds of files. I have used this one for some things. The people you share with have to have an account
Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/ – I haven’t used this tool much, it allows 100 MB of photos uploaded per month from what I can find. I don’t think it has any other limits – many people use this for public portfolios etc
None of these are solutions by themselves. I recommend that you use a combination of several of these. Don’t rely on any one tool to keep all of your important photos. I like to have a combination of my local hard drives plus various online tools to keep a backup of my photos. This requires some organizing and constant maintenance.
What do I do?
I’m like you actually – I have photos everywhere too. It’s inevitable. These are the rules I try to follow:
I have CDs & DVD’s of the kids photos from when they were little. These are in a box all together. It’s actually time for me to take these out and verify them
Recent photos are on our main computer (with some scattered on others – compiling them this holiday season) and I have a task at the end of the year to upload them to an online backup and put a copy on my external hard drive as well
Shared photos are online in Dropbox – our biz photos are nicely organized by the amazing Krystal Worth online for both of us to use
I always, ALWAYS get rid of junk photos on the camera and the iPhone as I go. I don’t like these hanging around. I also upload these to the computer (from the SD Card) and to DropBox (from the phone)
My goal for 2014 – have MONTHLY “project” time with my photos – I have started making videos more for telling the story of our lives. These make the photos more fun. My goal then is to do this often and organize/cleanup the photos after I’ve used them in the project. If you don’t make time for it regularly, it will get out of hand.
Step out from behind the camera/phone and get in the picture – more and more I find that I take fewer pictures and get in there and participate. The memories will be there even if the photos are not. Enjoy life in FRONT of the camera!
SLC Gal tips for organizing your photos:
Keep backups of your photos, videos and other important documents. Preferably, have a backup online that you can access from any computer. Computers fail – often
Regularly download the photos from your camera/phone onto your computer and your online storage. Verify that these work before clearing the card
As you take photos, use “downtime” (eg. riding the tour bus somewhere) to clear the garbage photos off before you waste time downloading them onto your computer. Only keep the good ones! You’ll never get to it if you don’t keep after it
Don’t go crazy creating too many folders – keep them as simple as possible. Put all the Christmas photos in one folder, in sub photos by year. Use meaningful names for the folders. Don’t worry too much about naming all of the pictures; you can see what they are when you scroll through them. Add captions later when you use them in a slide show
Keep all of your passwords either in a notebook or a password storage tool. Be sure someone knows where this is and how to get into it. There are more cases of people who have passed on and accesses to their online “life” is impossible without this information
A word about “online security”:
People often ask me about the security of putting personal data online. My answer is that it’s already there, so it’s time to get over it. That seems a little harsh, I know, but if someone really wants to find out about you and your family, they can pretty easily these days. The best you can do is to protect your passwords, be aware of all of your accounts, and if it’s something you think your grandmother wouldn’t want to see, then don’t put it online at all! My house was robbed when we lived in Calgary 15 years ago as well as we’we’ve had our credit card information stolen.
I’m not bitter about it – it just happens. It’s not a matter of “if”; it’s “when” – there’s no such thing as perfectly secure. Online or offline, it’s just a matter of time before you or someone close to you will be affected by this kind of problem. Unless you want to live like a hermit, it will happen. Just be aware and constantly vigilant. Teach your kids as well (and be VERY aware of what they do online). Don’t let fear hold you back either; there is so much great stuff out there!
Take some time and “play” with some of these online tools. Feel free to use our Ask the Organizer service to get our professional answers to your toughest organizing questions.
If you have other ways that you have stored your photos, please share in the comments below. If you found this post useful, share it on social media!
Dear anxiety, please leave and go elsewhere. Sincerely. Me!
Does anyone else feel overwhelmed at times? I am sure that we all do; especially this time of year. Sometimes I forget to look at all that I have accomplished and hyper focus on all that I have left to do. Then I get anxious and that is never a good thing for anyone around!
This little monster may creep up when we least expect it. For example picture this… You are in the middle of laundry, cleaning up lunch, trying to get everyone out the door to go grocery shopping and the phone rings. You answer it and get caught up in the conversation. The kids are waiting by the door with their coats on, (impatiently I might add!) So you wrap up the conversation. Oh then you remember that you have to fold that load of laundry in the dryer before it gets all wrinkly. So you send the kids into the yard to play for a minute. Finally you are ready to leave, you go to head out the door and realize that the dog has peed on the floor. You. Lose. Your. Mind. You deal with that mess just in time for your little one to come back in the house and let you know that he has to pee. Off come all of the clothes. Super. You realize that you have just spent an hour trying to get out of the door and you are going to be late for a dinner party. You still have to make an appetizer! Your heart races, you can feel your body heating up, you almost feel like you are having an out of body experience. Then the tears roll down your face. You don’t think that things can get ANY worse.
That situation may be on the extreme side but has definitely happened to me. I am getting better at handling these situations which can really happen to anyone. Here’s what helps me control myself when I am uber frustrated.
1) Stop. Think. and Breathe. This is what we would tell our kiddos when they were little. It makes sense really. Shallow breathing contributes to panic. By taking long, deep breaths we stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for activities that occur when our body is at rest. When we are calm. It basically works opposite to our flight or fight response. When you begin to recognize the panic feelings, you should remove yourself from the situation long enough to take 10 slow, deep breaths. Breath in deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. When you breathe in imagine that air is going up to your head and when you are exhaling imagine that the air is going down your spine and out of your body. In with the good and out with the bad. Now chances are you can think clearly with a little more perspective.
2) Perspective. Ask yourself this: will it matter in a month? a week? or even a day? Is it a mountain out of a mole hill scenario? Sometimes I will stop and use the phrase, “In the scheme of life, does this really matter?” Nine times out of ten it does not.
3) Accomplishments. So no you didn’t get out the door in a timely manner and your list is still big BUT what about the laundry that got done, the dishes that got cleaned and the kids that are taken care of? All of those things count. Make a list if you want to. Cross off all of the things that you have finished, even if they seem trivial. You will soon realize that you are a rock star!
Just remember that we all of been there. You are not alone. Take care of yourself because believe it or not that is the most important thing that you can do. Do it for yourself and for your loved ones.
Christmas storage can be tricky between the indoor lights, the outdoor lights, the ornaments, the tree, the wrapping and all of the other cutsie knick-knack items. My goal is to find you ways that you can neatly organize all of your stuff without spending a ton of money! In fact there are several items in our home already that we can use to organize these items.
Lets first talk about lights:
Here you will see that these lights are simply wrapped around cardboard. Cut your cardboard to fit a plastic tub or cardboard box and you can stack various string of lights inside. Easy peasy!
Here we have Christmas lights coiled up in a regular mason jar which will tightly fit a 12′ string of small lights. It is apparently easy to unravel too. If you want you can even leave them in the jar, light them up and have a pretty decoration or something to use for a party.
Let’s not forget about the ornaments.
There are many ways to store those precious ornaments too! Ever thought about reusing those red solo cups? Place a cardboard or wood piece between and you have double the storage. Woot-woot!
Here is another great way to recycle and repurpose something and keep it out of the landfill. I think this is brilliant! Use those drink trays to hold round ornaments. They fit nicely and these things can stack nicely! Why didn’t I think of that? Please click on the picture to follow more on this.
Egg cartons are a great way to safely store all kinds of things including various Christmas tree decorations. All is protected nicely in this and you can use multiple egg cartons to stack. Just label the outside of them with marker to know what’s inside.
This would be a great DYI project made out of some wood, dowels and hooks. This lovely all in one organizer houses wrapping paper, ribbon, scissors and tape. Love it when everything can be stored together! The how-to is in the link below.
Remember when you were a child and you couldn’t wait for Christmas day to come? You were literally counting down the sleeps until that special day? Looking back I remember the get-togethers, playing with my cousins, driving around to look at the Christmas lights, the music and mostly the excitement of the big day building up.
So what happens as we grow up? We stop believing in the magic of Christmas perhaps? We forget about the reason behind the season and the true meaning? We end up emptying our bank accounts and then some? It could be a number of reasons. I recently polled some of our Facebook followers to see what it is about the holiday season that really irks them. The answers were: commercialization, financial strain, expense, excessive gift buying, pressure to buy gifts, the drama, and the excessive packaging. One person also resented the fact that stores started decorating and playing music way before December.
I think that all of these are valid reasons for feeling a little Scroogey.
Problem: Let’s first address the holiday in terms of the expense of it all. Who do we buy present for and where do we draw the line? We make our list. We have our immediate family, our parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, friends…Oh! Don’t forget about teachers, bus drivers, the paperboy…let’s not forget about our Dr’s…I mean PULLEASE. Where does it end? No wonder we are broke and have negative feelings towards Christmas!
Solution: Narrow your list to suit your budget. There are other ways to show appreciation. And how many mugs and smelly things can one teacher have?! Do they want a gazillion #1 Teacher ornaments? I am guessing for the most part no. At least not the ones that I have spoken with . How about writing a letter to let them know how much they are appreciated? Believe it or not, not everyone wants to receive gifts. Seriously. Unless you find truly meaningful gifts who is to say that your bus driver wants 25 boxes of chocolates. Don’t buy just for the sake of buying.
Here are some other ways that you can show appreciation:
Three Alternatives To An Expensive Gift
Quality Time (My favorite!) In my opinion this is the best way to show someone that you care. It is the chance to spend time together and make memories. I am more likely to remember the day we had together laughing and talking but chances but chances are I won’t remember or think too much about that sweater you got me.
Make a Gift. My favorite gifts are the ones that people have spent time making for me. My husband has built things with his tools, my bff made a beautiful quilt for me, my mom has made me afghans. Over the years my hubby has written me poems. These are some of my most treasured things ever! Yes some of these things still cost money but if you already have the materials to make them then you can also save money. Another benefit of making your own gift is that there isn’t all of the excessive packaging that goes with store bought items. It’s a win-win.
Offer your services. Offer to take your friend’s children for the day or for a sleep over so that they can have some time to themselves. That can be a real lifesaver when you need a break and don’t have family that is close by. Have your friends over for a nice meal or plan a day trip together. All of these things make for fun experiences.
Problem: Consumerism. Consumerism is slapping Christmas in the face and turning it into a retail free for all. Companies are using Christmas as a prime time to market their products. They all claim to have the ‘perfect’ gift amongst all of the plastic and boxes. There are tons of toy commercials on TV this time of year; much to parents chagrin. There needs to be that balance between Christmas and consumerism.
Solution: Don’t buy into it. (Pun intended). Do what you feel comfortable doing. Spend what you are able to spend. There are some things that are out of our control like the commercials, the store’s music, decorations, and advertising. People feel pressured into buying from the ‘get a head start on Christmas’ slogans. You know that though? I cannot stress this enough…people need to start doing what is right for them. If you feel like the true meaning of Christmas is lost then how can you find it again? In a previous post I suggested sitting down with your loved ones and discussing exactly what your goals were for the holiday season. Make your Christmas mission statement. You may be surprised to know that gift buying and giving etc. isn’t what everyone cares about anyways.
Problem: Family Drama. This can be tricky. I feel like this one should be left to the experts. I get that all families have drama. Why does this exasperate at Christmas time? I know that some families have to drive all over God’s green (or white) earth at Christmas time. Some love hangin’ with the fam. while others just want to stay home. I haven’t had these issues because my husband’s family is all overseas, my parents live in the same town as me and my brother isn’t far away.
Also all families have different dynamics and get along or don’t get along for various reasons. Dealing with that when you are all together at Christmas can be tough.
Solution: Let the little things slide and deal with the big issues. In other words there comes a point when you realize that you cannot change people so you either accept them for who they are or move on. Well, with family this is a little more difficult especially at family functions. So the little things that annoy you should just be ignored while the things that are going to make you insane if you have to deal with them one more time should perhaps be dealt with in the form of a reasonable conversation. We hope that our families will act perfectly at all times but we know that this is not realistic so set your expectations a teeny bit lower.
My Christmas wish for you is to have a positively wonderful holiday season. Make the most out of what you have wherever you are. You can do it!!!
I love to host a get together on Christmas Eve that involves our dearest family and friends. Basically we hang out listening to Christmas music, play games, and snack on appetizers. We always watch where Santa is in the world too. (Here is the link for that! http://www.noradsanta.org/)It is one of my favorite traditions. We exchange gifts with our friends and the kids always get to open one present from us which is new pajamas. They wear their new pj’s and then in the morning they look nice for the occasional snapshot that we may take opening presents. Like all get togethers it does take a little planning though. And here is why I thought it would be nice to have a pretty list ready for you to print and plan your special holiday get together. You can use it for a dinner party, a holiday games evening, the ugly Christmas sweater party, or even Christmas dinner.
Remember the theme here is to have a low to no stress holiday. You are not doing ANYONE a favor including yourself if you cannot enjoy this time of year.