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The Best Times To Sift Through Your Stuff

(category: Organizing, Word count: 615)
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What are the best times in your life when it's sensible to clean house and get rid of stuff you don't use? Take advantage of these opportunities to clean out your home and downsize your belongings.

When you move from one house to another is the best time to get rid of things you no longer need. Why move stuff you haven't used from one place to another where you won't use it either? Think kitchen gadgets and closets as your best place to start.

Do you have a wok but can't remember the last time you cooked anything stir-fried? If you rarely entertain, do you really need all those wine glasses and extra sets of dishes? How many plastic containers are in the cupboard and how many do you really use on a weekly basis? Get rid of the sizes you never use. Spend a little time to consider how much of your stuff you really use and make up your mind to let go of what is just taking up space.

Of course, when I say here to get rid of something, I mean donate it- don't throw it away unless it doesn't work or it's broken. There are plenty of charitable organizations happy to have your stuff as long as it's usable.

Look at your linen closet- how many of those sets of sheets to you really use? If you have towels that have lost their fluff, out they go. Old makeup and medical supplies should be tossed, especially if it's now past the expiration date.

If there is stuff in the basement or garage still in boxes from the last move, it's safe to say you won't use it again. Test your courage by just tossing the boxes without even looking in them. If you can't manage this without your palms starting to sweat, then check to make sure there wasn't a hidden treasure in one of them.

When your kids grow up and move out, it's time to clean out the stuff they didn't take with them. Don't feel you should keep your kids' room as a shrine to them. While I understand you want to keep your memories, you don't need to keep sports equipment from high school or every trophy they ever won. If it's not important enough for your kids to take with them to their new place, you shouldn't hold onto it either. Offer them the chance to keep what they want, but set a deadline for them to move out their things.

If you've always wanted a reading room or a place to work on your crafts, now you'll have it. Or, make this into the fancy room your guests will be thrilled to spend the night in. Redecorate, renovate and make that room your own!

At some point as you get older, you may decide your house is too much to keep up and you'll move to a smaller place such as a condo. Now you will absolutely need to decide what to get rid of since storage space will be limited. Once again, your kitchen and closets are the best areas that can be downsized. At this point, your lifestyle may also change- you may dine out more often than at home, causing you to need less kitchen gizmos. Consider your new routine and decide what you will no longer need.

Take advantage of these major life events to sift through your stuff, get rid of what you will no longer need in your new life, and donate it to someone else who could use it to start their new life.

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Clutter Quickly Grows With Procrastination And Even Kills

(category: Organizing, Word count: 584)
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The most common problem most people have with getting rid of clutter and getting organized is not knowing how to begin or where to get started.

So it gets put off until...later.

Of course, the reasons are usually decent.

For one, there's a lot going on in our lives. We go in so many directions and there never seems to be enough time to get anything done.

And it's easier to put organizing off because you think it'll take up too much time right now.

The other priorities - like eating and sleeping (minor things, right?) of course take first on the list.

But getting organized doesn't have to take a lot of time every single day.

And if you don't start getting organized, even just a little bit at a time, there are some very real negative affects that, well, could kill you.

A little drastic... I know.

But the affect clutter and disorganization has on your health is very, very real.

It adds stress to your already busy life.

It sucks away your energy and makes you tired.

In many people, it increases the symptoms of depression.

But enough of the negative stuff!

Here's how we can benefit from being organized and getting rid of clutter...

-More sleep.

-A better mood every day.

-Better relationships.

-Easier house management.

-Your bills get paid on time.

-More space.

-More time to do things you actually enjoy!

This is all very real stuff and getting organized should not be put on the back burner any longer.

But I know...it's still too easy to put it off for "later."

I will admit, the here and now makes it easier to pile things on the counter, on chairs and tables or toss things in closets and drawers.

It's too easy to put things down and ignore my simple and important rule of "touch it once."

Though, like I said earlier...clutter can be deadly.

No joke.

Back in January of this year a 62 year old woman from Washington was found dead under nearly six feet of dishes, boxes and "clutter" that apparantly collapsed on her.

A very sad, and very drastic story.

Take this poor woman's life back about thirty years. How many days went by when she procrastinated and said she would "get to it tomorrow."

Now I hope your situation is not as drastic but reality is reality. And unless you get things under control right away, you just don't know what a disorganized house can lead to.

At the very least I bet you're feeling stressed and a little frustrated with a real desire to simplify your life at home.

It's not a lot to ask, is it?

And we all know stress is not good.

But maybe your situation isn't so out-of-control, and you just want to get rid of clutter and get your things in order.

Or you need to manage papers better because once in a while you forget to pay a bill that was sitting somewhere in a pile (because you don't have a real system for your bills - which you need.)

No big deal, right?

After all, what's a $5 payment here or a $35 late fee there?

So how 'bout you take a step towards ending clutter in your home and getting organized...before it kills you?

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Addiction To Clutter

(category: Organizing, Word count: 803)
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Clutter is a big problem for many people. At a lecture that I gave, I asked for a show of hands regarding how many people had problems with clutter and disorganization. I was surprised to find that at least half the people raised their hands.

One of my clients told me that she was trying to help her sister get back on her feet after her sister had been laid up with an illness and lost her job. Her sister's house had always been a mess, and had become so filled with clutter that there was no place to walk or sit. My client, Rebecca, offered to buy her sister a car if she would clean up her house. Rebecca even offered to help her sister clean up the house. Rebecca was shocked when her sister refused the offer, even though she desperately needed the car. He sister was unwilling to get rid of the clutter.

Why? Why was the "stuff" so important to her?

Underneath all addictions lies fear - of emptiness, helplessness, loneliness and aloneness. Addictions are a way to feel safe from feeling these difficult and painful feelings, and an addiction to clutter is no exception. It's all about having a sense of control over feeling safe. Clutter, like all addictions, provides a momentary feeling of comfort. However, as with any addiction, the clutterer needs more and more clutter to maintain the illusion of safety and comfort.

When my mother died and my son was cleaning out her house, he discovered huge amounts of clutter. While my mother's house always looked neat and clean, the cupboards and drawers were filled with clutter. My son told me he found 6 broken hair dryers in one cabinet. Why would my mother want to keep six broken hair dryers?

My mother grew up during the depression and always had a fear of not having enough. No matter how much she accumulated materially, she never felt that she had enough. The six hair dryers made her feel safe from her fear, even if they didn't work.

Carrie has trouble throwing things away, especially magazines with "important' information in them. She subscribes to many magazines but, being the mother of three small children, doesn't often have the time to read them. So the magazines pile up and pile up. Carrie hopes at some point to have the time to read them, but that time never seems to come. When asked why she won't throw them out, her answer is, "Because there might be something important in them and I don't want to miss it." Carrie fears missing out on some important piece of information - information that may give her the peace she is seeking. It makes her feel safer and in control to have all the magazines around her with their important information, even if she never gets to read them.

When we don't feel safe on the inner level, then we try to make ourselves feel safe on the outer level, and clutter is one way of doing that. Whether it's things, such as hair dryers, or information, such as in magazines and newspapers, clutterers do not trust that they will have what they need. In addition, clutterers may be resistant people who see messiness and clutter as a way of not being controlled by someone who wants them to be neat.

HEALING THE ADDICTION TO CLUTTER

Clutter is created and maintained by a wounded, frightened part of oneself, the wounded self - the part that operates from the illusion of having control over people, events, and outcomes. As long as this wounded self is in charge of the decisions, the clutterer will continue to accumulate clutter as a way to provide comfort and the illusion of control over feeling safe, or continue to be messy as a way to resist being controlled.

Healing occurs when the individual does the inner work necessary to develop a strong, loving adult self. A loving adult is the aspect of us that opens to and connects with a spiritual source of wisdom, strength, and love. A loving adult is capable of taking loving action in our own behalf. The loving adult operates from truth rather than from the false beliefs of the wounded self, and knows that the comfort and safety that clutter seems to provide is an illusion - that no matter how much clutter accumulates, the clutterer still feels afraid. The loving Adult knows that safety and integrity do not lie in resistance. Only a loving adult who is tuned in to the guidance provided by a spiritual source and capable of taking loving action in one's own behalf can create a sense of inner safety.

Practicing the six steps of Inner Bonding that we teach develops this powerful loving adult.

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On The Go Tips

(category: Organizing, Word count: 223)
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Whether you're spending time at the office or are constantly on the move, there are some ways to make life easier while on-the-go. Try these tips:

(*) Stay organized. Use a calendar to write down all your engagements, addresses and phone numbers. Keeping all the information in one place can keep you from wasting time looking for it later.

(*) Find your time wasters. Keep track of the ways you waste time for one week. Do you spend 10 minutes finding your keys? If so, make a key hook by your door-and use it.

(*) Make the most of your trips. Knock a few items off your list on the way to work or at lunch, freeing up some night and weekend time.

(*) Finish what you start. When you work on a project from start to finish, it's one less item on the to-do list.

(*) Readjust priorities. Since you can't really do it all, re-evaluate which activities really need your time and focus.

(*) Look for grab and go snacks to give you a lift. Kraft To Go! snacks, which come in two cheese and cracker varieties, are a great source of calcium. They fit in your purse, briefcase or bag, and are great for women on-the-go who are looking for a wholesome, grab-and-go snack.

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Spring Cleaning Hard Work But Such A Great Pay Off

(category: Organizing, Word count: 376)
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Spring-cleaning: for some a chore for others a joy. I learned about this ritual at an early age. Now, the thought of spring-cleaning evokes precious memories.

When I was a young child, back in the land of four seasons and none of them rain (Manitoba), the cold inhibiting days of winter were ushered out with a yearly farm ritual: spring-cleaning. No corner of our home was left untouched by brooms, dusters, scrub brushes, rags and other cleaning weapons. Every inch of closet was emptied, inventories were taken, value was assessed, surfaces were washed and cleaned, and then those clothes that were still 'good' were organized in a useful and efficient way. Beds were moved, dressers emptied, ceilings dusted.

My memory of choice is the window cleaning. After windowpanes were removed for cleaning, the windowsill became a place of pure ecstasy! I can easily recall those moments: sitting on my perfect perch, watching the ice break up in the creek behind our home. Huge pieces floated by, cracking loudly, twisting, crunching, piling up in a chaotic proclamation of the new season's arrival. Fresh air was in abundance; pussy willows to the left, bird feeders with chirping chickadees to the right. It was heavenly!

It was that type of day where I learned that hard work pays off. At that early age, I felt the change of energy in my home and in myself after a day of thorough de-cluttering and cleaning. The house felt lighter, brighter, more cheerful. I felt like skipping.

The best part of de-cluttering and organizing for me today is hearing my clients describe similar feelings of lightness and freedom after a session together. Whether in their home or office, de-cluttering can be a cathartic passing of the old, the start a whole new season in life.

What are your plans this spring? Is a cluttered room or desk stopping you from enjoying your home or office the way you'd like to enjoy it? Have your dust bunnies proliferated beyond a reasonable limit? Do you find spring-cleaning to be a daunting task of Olympian magnitude? Has it never even occurred to you that a good spring-cleaning would be appropriate at the office?

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Organize Files Both Paper And Computer

(category: Organizing, Word count: 534)
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Tips to organize files in real-space

If you have a system that isn't working, it's probably because it is not the system outlined below. Simplicity of effectiveness is vital for a real-space filing system.

To organize files in real-space it should take no more than 1 minute to add so me thing new to your system and no more than 30 seconds to retrieve something.

Organize Files - Preparation:

Get a large sturdy metal filing cabinet.

Get box files and card files.

Get an electric label maker.

Chuck out hanging file guides.

Organize Files - Implementation:

1. Grab a card file as soon as you have paper work that you want to reference for later use.

2. Create a label with the electric label maker with a word/phrase that very obviously identifies what the

papers are about.

3. Put the labeled file in your filing cabinet in A to Z order.

Maintenance of Organized Files:

On computer start a file listing everything that's in your real-space filing cabinet from A to Z.

Keep your computer file updated by occasionally flicking through your filing cabinet (it will take less than 10

minutes) to check for items that are not on your computer file and adding anything new.

Consider that if you currently have trouble keeping on top of the way you organize files it's probably because the way you have been doing until now is not this simple strategy. The approach outlined above is purposely extremely simple. It really works to do it like this.

With that technique for how to organize files in real-space dealt with, we can now think about your way to organize files on your computer.

Tips to organize files on computer

Experience with clients has taught me that often someone has more clutter on computer than in their home or office.

The computer can be a source of great enjoyment and productivity if you organize files on it well. I realize that it doesn't take up any real space in your

home or office, which is probably why people let it get so bad, but I found that it effects my clients satisfaction and productivity immensely.

Sure there are plenty of manuals on using the computer but I discovered that there was no simple, straightforward explanation of keeping on top of where everything on computer is. So I created an approach that I show my clients and here is the basics of it.

Is it frustrating or even somewhat anxiety provoking sometimes to approach the computer? Such feelings are caused by thinking of the amount of time it will take to find what you want whilst half-thinking that it really shouldn't be so out of hand.

Well we're about to turn things around. Get into the habit of creating folders on your computer for various topics. Put everything relevant to each topic into the appropriate folder.

Create more folders within existing topic folders for sub-topics. E.g. You might create a folder called Health. In that you might have folders for Diet,

Spend time on that process and you will finally feel that you can organize files on your computer very very well indeed.

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So You Have Problems

(category: Organizing, Word count: 331)
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We are all faced with problems throughout our lives, some are small, others huge. Depending on how we deal with them, they can be overwhelming and devastate our lives, or they can quickly fade into the past.

Attitude plays a big role. With a difficult personal or work undertaking, consider all viewpoints, even those you think you don't like. It just might provide relief from your fearful analysis of the situation. Don't oversize the problem which is often a panic reaction. Discuss the actions that you could take with a friend or co-worker which can sometimes provide a good suggestion and some instant stress relief.

Lay out a procedure and slowly complete the first task. The next steps should be easier. Often we will keep on worrying after the decisions are made, which of course is of no help at all. If everything that can be done has been done then it's time to follow through.

"Our plans miscarry if they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind." Lucius Seneca (3-65)

Rejection can be an unpleasant experience, but it just lets us know that we aren't perfect. Who is? Consider it a lesson learned, then forget it and move on with your life in a positive constructive manner.

To help solve a difficult problem or to cut down on worrying about making a decision, analyze the situation, determine what must be done and carry it out. In writing or on your PC:

Get all the facts.

Describe the problem in detail.

List all the possible solutions.

List the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Detail what you will do.

Follow through.

You have detailed the planning and know that you will proceed in a certain way, but will review it as required. Later. Now it's time to think other thoughts.

"What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing." - Aristotle (BC)

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Plan Your Next Party Like A Pro

(category: Organizing, Word count: 343)
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"You're invited..." are always welcome words to hear− whether it's to a barbeque, birthday party, cocktail party, graduation, housewarming, girls' night out or other special event. However, most people think planning a successful party takes a lot of time and effort. Not true, according to Evite, the leading social event- planning service on the Web.

"By following simple party- planning rules, you can plan a fabulous bash in very little time," said Jessica Landy Raymond, a planning expert for Evite. "Your guests will be so impressed, they'll think you hired a pro!"

Organization is essential for seamlessly planning a great social event. Evite has helped millions of hosts plan successful events and offers these tips to take the hassle out of party planning:

1. Choose an event theme-A good theme ensures that guests interact with one another. A great theme-such as a barbecue luau, beach party, '70s-inspired disco, masquerade ball or poker night- will make your party unforgettable.

2. Create an event checklist-Be sure everything gets done on time with a comprehensive to-do list that includes everything from determining an overall budget and selecting an event date to choosing the perfect venue and making a guest list. For tips and sample checklists, check out Evite's Party Checklist.

3. Bring the theme to life-Pull all the pieces of the party together neatly by selecting invitations, decorations, activities and music that complement your theme.

4. Plan the food and beverage menu-The event theme should inspire your menu and beverages. Make sure you have enough food and drink for your guests by consulting recipes and drink calculators during the planning process. For help, try Evite's Drink Calculator and Party Menus & Recipes

5. Relax and enjoy the event!-Remember, the number-one party-planning tip is to not stress about any little things that go wrong. Everyone is there for a good time, and the host should be, too!

Tapping into online party-planning resources is a simple and easy way to fulfill all your planning "to dos."

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Organizing Family Discoveries

(category: Organizing, Word count: 428)
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It's great when the family gets together, but you know that it'll be much greater if all family members can get to know each other and share the family history. Much interest had been given to genealogic researches in the past years, but still, the most common form of genealogic research remains to be the family tree and its branching out. A family tree is a cinch to make if you intend to include only members of your immediate family (parents, sibling, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins) but what if you aim to include the three generations before you? Or what if you intend to find out who your ancestors are? This entails a much larger scope and therefore a more thorough research. This also means more extensive notes, files, pictures, interview transcripts, and other documents. To save you from disorganization and make your research easier, Carolyn Billingsley and Desmond Allen have devised an efficient filing system specifically for genealogic research.

The materials they prescribed are easy enough to procure such as a filing cabinet (boxes will do), data records, pens with black ink, file folders, notebook (loose leaf), and notebook dividers. They recommend that you start by making nuclear family records. Printed forms are available to make it easier. Record information by family. Separate your own family record from that of your parents. Use marriages as guide, as each marriage requires a separate data sheet. Fill out forms backward, starting from the present and to the past. Make all information on each family uniform, leave spaces for unknown data and fill them out later when you got the missing links. It is also important to indicate sources of the information. Include birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage certificates with the members' personal information but remember to use only photocopied records. Label sheets with family surnames and put them in file folders duly labeled. Collect and store these nuclear family sheets to larger family groups. To do these use bigger filing folders. Label these folders by the family patriarch's name, for example, your grandfather's name. Include in this folder all files of your uncles, aunts, parent, married siblings, married cousins, etc. An optional step is to add a contents page to give you a clue about what is inside the folders. These will make it easier for you to fill out your family tree and its branches. An organized research will save you the trouble of diving into heaps of paper searching for documents that you think are there but have no idea where to find.

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