<![CDATA[Amy the Organizer - BLOG]]>Mon, 11 Jan 2016 18:12:01 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Are you ready for a big change?]]>Sat, 02 Jan 2016 23:37:01 GMThttp://www.amytheorganizer.com/blog/are-you-ready-for-a-big-changeLife-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book cover
If you can believe it, what I think has helped me the most is a book on organizing, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. Her whole concept is about keeping only what truly "sparks joy."

After about eight friends and clients asked me about or recommended the book , I finally broke down and read it. I get why it’s a best seller. Kondo tells you to abandon advice you’ve heard for years about organizing, comb through your entire house (in her clearly prescribed way), discarding a large portion of your possessions, and you'll never have to do it again. She says our lives will change in big, powerful ways, leading us to success in every arena. She claims none of her clients have reverted to their old, cluttering ways.

I confess, though I found the claims hard to believe, I’m giving it a try myself. As I look around my house, I can see so much that doesn’t “spark joy,” her measure of what to keep and what to discard. I’m eager to go through the whole "KonMari" process (what she calls her system) and see how my life changes, though I may not follow her directions to the letter.

I've found myself asking if every little thing sparks joy, including tasks and friends. I think I'll continue to get clarity around what truly sparks joy, and when I do, I just might flourish spiritually and financially. At least that's the story I'm telling myself.

How about you? Are you ready for a big change? Are you ready to commit to going through every possession, including papers and archives, and freeing yourself of everything that doesn’t bring you joy? I’m excited to incorporate the KonMari Method into the work I've been doing with my clients for years to see first-hand how powerful it can be for others. Who’s ready?

<![CDATA[Let’s get real: What I have in common with all my clients]]>Wed, 11 Nov 2015 22:22:17 GMThttp://www.amytheorganizer.com/blog/lets-get-real-what-i-have-in-common-with-all-my-clientsPicture
In working with a variety of clients in all kinds of situations, I’ve noticed we all have one thing in common: the best of intentions.

One client saved scraps of fabric because she thought she would use them for a “some day” art project.

Another client piled up months’ worth of his family’s clean laundry because he thinks he’s going to find the time to put it all away one day.

A third client is holding onto unwanted items for months because she knows the perfect person to give them to.

Yet another client has a stash of torn or damaged garments waiting to be repaired (and my partner just confessed to the same, but for him it’s been years).

As for me, I’ve held onto appliances that don’t work with the intention of having them repaired, and I’m guilty of all of the above as well.

We all have the best of intentions for what to do with these things we’ve kept. The reality is that we often just don’t ever get around to it. My advice? Forgive yourself and move on. Be realistic about what you can take on, and make a new plan. Donate those scraps of fabric to a school for children to use in their art projects. Delegate that laundry to the cleaning woman to handle when you hire her for more hours or ask family members to pitch in. If you don't make a firm plan to see that perfect person to give that cast-off to soon, it’s ok to donate it to charity, and those damaged garments can be trashed or repaired. With my defunct appliances, I finally donated them to the electronics recycling facility.

I’m giving us all permission to move onto Plan B with these things. The key is to face what we have the bandwidth for and what we don’t. Over time, these things weigh us down and make us feel bad about ourselves. If you really want to give yourself another chance, set a firm deadline, write it down or commit it to another person, and if you haven’t dealt with whatever it is by then, move on to Plan B, whether it’s donating, trashing or delegating.

Let’s face it. We’re all human, and we all feel overwhelmed sometimes. My philosophy with all my clients is not to force them into new, unnatural behaviors; it’s to find a new way that’s sustainable and comfortable and leaves them feeling successful. What have you got lurking in your home that’s been waiting a long time to be donated, repaired or used?

<![CDATA[A simple formula for sailing through your to-do list]]>Tue, 28 Jul 2015 02:07:26 GMThttp://www.amytheorganizer.com/blog/a-simple-formula-for-sailing-through-your-to-do-listPicture
Do you have items on your to-do list that linger for too long? Do you see days go by when you're not getting the really important stuff done? I've struggled too, and I've come up with a simple formula that really works for me. I hope it will help you too.

1. Make a list of just a few items for the next day
Make it short, and make it count. What's most important? Be specific, so you'll know for sure if the task was accomplished or not. I recommend making your list at the end of the day when you're not sitting at your desk with all the distractions that can make you lose your focus.

2. Assign a duration for each item
Decide how long you think each item will take. Most importantly, be realistic. Rounding up is better than rounding down. I use 15-minute increments. 

3. Add them up
Once you've got times next to your short list of items, add up all the time. Is that number larger than the hours in your day? That's when you know your list isn't realistic, and you need to scale it back. Set yourself up for success by scheduling only what will actually fit into your day. Remember to schedule mealtimes and exercise, if that's part of your daily routine. 

4. Stay on track 
When you start your day, remember that every hour is accounted for, so stick with your plan and pick an item on your list to start with. 

5. Celebrate your success
This step is just as important as the others. Acknowledge all you accomplished and give yourself a treat if you want to. You've earned it. Now you're ready to sail through tomorrow's list, and you know how to make a realistic timeline.

This technique has worked for me amazingly well. In fact, I'm using it right now! I realized I'd been letting the task of writing this newsletter slide (you haven't heard from me since May 12), so I knew I needed to actually schedule the time and make it happen. See? It works! I've had my most productive days using this process. I'm confident you can too. Let me know how it works for you.

<![CDATA[Get the most out of every bottle and tube]]>Tue, 14 Jul 2015 02:02:13 GMThttp://www.amytheorganizer.com/blog/get-the-most-out-of-every-bottle-and-tubePicture
For years I was frustrated when I couldn't get the last of the face cream or lotion out of its package while seeing there was more inside. Finally, I thought to cut the package open and was amazed how much product was left. Try this neat trick: Cut little slits into the sides of just one of the plastic tube halves, and then you can reassemble the halves. Now you can neatly keep reusing the (now two-piece) tube while using the remaining 5-10% of the contents. This trick works for toothpaste and shampoo too. You'll be amazed when you get another week or two of paste/lotion/shampoo to use. It's in there!

<![CDATA[What's up at Amy's house?]]>Sat, 27 Jun 2015 01:53:56 GMThttp://www.amytheorganizer.com/blog/whats-up-at-amys-house2Picture
As many of you know, my father died last year. My brother and I sorted through every object in the house, deciding what each of us would keep, what would go to other family members, and what would be sold in the estate sale. Now I have the boxes of carefully selected belongings in my already-full house. I confess that I'm not objective in this area and find myself wishing I had my own organizer. I really see how being too close to something makes it hard to have perspective and make good decisions. This experience leaves me with even more compassion for all of you feeling overwhelmed and/or burdened by physical things, even if they're important to you. You have my sympathy.

<![CDATA[What's up at my house?]]>Wed, 27 May 2015 00:41:02 GMThttp://www.amytheorganizer.com/blog/whats-up-at-my-house1Picture
A mini closet reorganization. Over time, entropy takes over, and everything becomes unorganized. In less than an hour, I tidied up all the folded clothes. From left to right you see neutral short-sleeved shirts, colored short-sleeved shirts, multi-colored short-sleeved shirts, solid sleeveless tops, multi-colored sleeveless tops and workout clothes (folded and stacked in the shoebox). Now it's easy to find what I need and identify what can be donated.

<![CDATA[Plan for your trip with a custom Google map]]>Thu, 14 May 2015 00:37:46 GMThttp://www.amytheorganizer.com/blog/plan-for-your-trip-with-a-custom-google-mapGoing somewhere new and exciting? Consider making a map of all the places you want to visit, a fantastic way to access and edit all this info, and you can't lose it because it's online (or in "the cloud" if you prefer). Access it anywhere there's an internet connection and easily share it. Just copy and paste www.google.com/mymaps and click “Creat a new map.”  Type in a city name or street address, click on the pin that drops onto that spot, and select “add to map.” You’ll see it appear in a list to the right. Add as many places as you want. You can create layers, add images and all sorts of other data. Explore and discover all you can do with these maps. Have fun! More detailed instructions here.
<![CDATA[Seven ways to smooth your air travel]]>Tue, 05 May 2015 00:35:31 GMThttp://www.amytheorganizer.com/blog/seven-ways-to-smooth-your-air-travelPicture
Flying has become more and more challenging the last several years. Follow these tips to make your next trip easier:

1. Make a list
Start compiling your list right away. Use either the Sticky Note app or Google Docs (or whatever is easy for you) that you can keep open on your computer desktop all the time. Add to it as you think of more items. I even make notes by my bed right before going to sleep the night before a trip. If you take certain types of trips regularly (such as the beach or a cruise), you can use this list repeatedly, refining it every time.

2. Pack shoes first
Putting shoes at the bottom of your bag makes for better weight distribution. Packing them in cloth bags will keep them from getting your clothes dirty. Packing socks inside shoes can help prevent damage to shoes.

3. Sort your toiletries
I always bring some toiletries in my carry-on bag in case my checked bag is lost or delayed. Think through what your minimum needs would be if you had to spend the night without your checked bag. Also think about what creams and cosmetics are too valuable to lose in a checked bag. Separate these carry-on items into liquids and gels and dry items.

4. Prepare for the worst
Like I mentioned above, think about what you might need if you had to spend the night without your checked bag. In addition to toiletries, I always travel with a nightshirt and clean pairs of underwear and socks. Always include all prescription medications in your carry-on.

5. Lighten your load
You probably don’t need to carry everything that's in your everyday handbag. Carefully select only what you’ll be needing on your trip and leave the rest at home. Make sure your carry-on bags meet today's requirements. Airlines are becoming more and more strict about their carry-on limits.

6. Check your weight
Finding out your bag is over the usual 50 lb limit before you leave home is much better than being hit with an extra charge when you can do little about it. You can also buy a portable scale to be sure you aren't bringing home too much.

7. Know where you’re going
Of course have your flight information with you. Also be sure you have hotel and rental car information, contact information for anyone picking you up or giving you a place to stay. Share this information with someone not traveling with you in case you need to be reached in an emergency.

<![CDATA[Make fewer decisions for a better life]]>Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:32:10 GMThttp://www.amytheorganizer.com/blog/make-fewer-decisions-for-a-better-lifeTim Ferriss
Too many decisions lead to overwhelm and under-producing. Just this morning I listened to a podcast from Timothy Ferriss, famous for writing The Four-Hour Work Week. I learned that the energy we take to make decisions leaves us less energy to get things done, so the fewer decisions we can make, the better, even if they sometimes cost more. I realized this concept applies to clutter. My holding onto something because I don’t know if I want to keep it or where I’ll put it drains my energy. I’m better off letting it go and freeing myself of the decision. What physical things are occupying your mind? Read the essay here.

<![CDATA[Make tax time easier next year]]>Tue, 10 Mar 2015 18:21:08 GMThttp://www.amytheorganizer.com/blog/make-tax-time-easier-next-yearfile folder
Now that you're almost done with last year's taxes (right?), it's the time to start thinking about tax prep for next year. If you haven’t already, designate a folder just for tax documents. Keep it handy all year. Add to it whenever you come across a donation receipt, property tax bill, anything from the IRS or Social Security, or anything else that’s relevant to your taxes other than obvious monthly bills and regular income. At the first of the year, you’ll add your W-2s, 1099s, and any other tax forms as you receive them. When you’re ready, everything will be in one place and ready to go to the accountant. Whew!