Archive for the ‘01 News from Cathy’s Desk’ Category

Time Management

Posted on: September 19th, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy MendlerIt’s September!

I hope you had some time to relax during the summer. Cooler weather has arrived, and the leaves are starting to change colour.

For many people, fall means getting back into a busy routine. Time management often becomes a juggling exercise!

MANAGING YOUR TIME

What’s Most Important?

One of the critical steps in managing your time is establishing priorities. Set aside some time to think about what’s most important in your life.

Everyone has the same amount of time each day:

  • 24 hours
  • 1,440 minutes or
  • 86,400 seconds

Time is one of your most valuable resources. You can’t store it or get it back once it’s gone. So why is it that some people are able to accomplish so much? The answer is simple. They have a plan.

Plan

In order to come up with a plan, you may need to start with your desired outcome and work backwards. If you take the time to create a plan first, it will pay off in the long run.

Prioritize

Set aside some time first thing in the morning to prioritize what needs to be done. It’s even better if you can do this at the end of the day. You’ll be more focused when you can jump right into the first task on your list.

Schedule

Take control. Set limits. If possible, schedule your most important or difficult tasks at the time of day when your energy levels are at their highest. Be realistic about how much will fit into your schedule. Just because there are 24 hours in a day, doesn’t mean that you have to schedule 18 of those hours. Schedule blocks of time in your planner or calendar for focused work time.

Remember–it’s OK to say NO. If you find yourself always saying YES, ask if you can get back to the person asking for your time. Once you’re away from that moment, you’ll be able to review your schedule and determine if you really do have the time to say yes.

Perfectionism

“Perfectionism is not attempting to be perfect when performing a task; it is the act of spending more time on a task, activity or decision than theresults justify.” Harold Taylor, Canadian Time Management Expert

Procrastination

Emmett’s Law states that “The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself.”

Brian Tracy uses ‘“eat that frog” as a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day.

Multitasking

How many of you think you’re more productive when you multitask? Numerous studies have proven this to be untrue. It’s next to impossible to completely eliminate multitasking from our busy lives, but being aware that multitasking reduces your productivity is a step in the right direction.

Lateness/Missed Events

Are you on time? Not arriving on time shows that you are not respectful of other person’s time. When scheduling your day, remember to allow sufficient time to get to your destination. Set a timer or the alarm on your phone to remind you.

Do you miss events because you didn’t put them into your calendar? Make an effort to enter them into your calendar as soon as you make the commitment.

To-Do Lists/Planners

“To Do lists are intentions, but scheduled blocks of time in your planner are commitments.” Harold Taylor, Canadian time management expert

Delegate

Can you delegate an item on your to-do list? Ask yourself if YOU must complete the task. Remember—you are only one person, and there are only 24 hours in each day.

“You have the power and responsibility to decide what you do with the time you have, so choose wisely.” Matthew Jones, Contributor, Inc.com

So get started and turn over another leaf!

Until next month,

a new leaf-cathy.png



GETTING ORGANIZED FOR BACK TO SCHOOL

Posted on: August 9th, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy MendlerSCHOOL IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER!

It’s that time of year again. The relaxing days of summer are almost behind us. We’ve had such a warm summer already!

If you plan ahead, you’ll be ready for the first day of school.

Let’s get started and turn over another leaf! 

GETTING ORGANIZED FOR BACK TO SCHOOL

Planning

  • Don’t wait until the night before school starts to try and get your children into their back-to-school routine. Start a week or two before.
  • The morning routine is under your control. Everyone will have a better day if it starts out calmly.

Clothing

Have your children try on all of their clothing to see what still fits. Make a list of what is needed.

School Supplies

Has the school provided a list of supplies that will be required?

  • First, take inventory of the supplies you currently have. You may not need as many supplies as you think. Check out Katy Wolk-Stanley’s Just Say No to Unnecessary Brand New School Supplies!
  • Stock up during the back-to-school sales. Keep in mind that saving a couple of dollars by running from store to store may not be worth the extra effort involved. Remember–your time is valuable!

If you can, support a School Supply Drive in your area. There are always children in need.

Ensure that backpacks are the correct size for your children.

  • Let them choose one with your help; if they like it, they’ll be more likely to use it and less likely to lose it.

Lunches

Keep your cupboards well stocked with lunch items.

  • Single-serving sizes may be more convenient, but they are more costly. Buying in bulk can cost less—if you have sufficient storage space.
  • Keep a pen and paper handy in or near your pantry to note items that are running low.
  • Reduce the environmental impact of making lunches every day–try to make them litter-less.

Labeling

Don’t forget to label all items your children take to school which need to be brought home each night or week.

Entryway/Mudroom

Have a designated spot for each child’s coat, mittens, boots, backpack and sports equipment.

Homework and Study Area

Make sure that your children have an area to do homework or study that is free from clutter, comfortable, well-lit and as quiet as possible.

  • Pens, pencils, erasers, coloured pencils, markers, paper, glue, stapler, ruler, calculator, tape, scissors, etc. should all have a designated spot. If you’re limited for space, a rolling cart with drawers is great for storing art and school supplies.
  • Keep reference materials handy, so children aren’t distracted by having to look for these items.

Calendar and Scheduling

All activities should be put onto one calendar.

  • Keeping more than one calendar is difficult; it usually results in missed appointments.
  • Label each family member’s activities in a different colour; let your children pick their favourite colour.
  • Limit extra-curricular activities for each child. Try not to overschedule.

Your children need some time to just be kids!

Until next month,

P.S.  Do YOU or someone you know need a professional organizer? TAKE OUR TEST and find out for yourself today!



TACKLING SUMMER PROJECTS

Posted on: July 13th, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler SUMMER IS HERE!

Summer has arrived–with its high temperatures and humidity.

Whether you’re taking day trips or a lengthy vacation, going to the beach or just trying to stay cool, remember to have fun! And don’t forget to stay hydrated!

Let’s get started and turn over another leaf! 

TACKLING SUMMER PROJECTS

Warm summer days make it easier to work on outdoor projects.  

Planning

Be realistic about how many projects you can handle. If you’ve chosen a stay-at-home vacation this year, you don’t want to spend your whole time working!

Books

“I still think of summer as the best time to read for fun.”  Margaret Haddix

Before pulling up a lawn chair and grabbing a book you haven’t read yet, sort through your bookcase. Donate your used books to friends, neighbours or your favourite charity.

Organize your books by category, alphabetically or by author. Leave some space on your shelves for new purchases. Or sign up for a library card and borrow books–saving yourself some money!

Magazines

Summer can be the perfect time to get caught up with your magazine reading. When you only have a few minutes to read, short magazine articles are often best.

When you pick up a magazine at the store or your new issue arrives in the mail, put it in your designated reading area. If you haven’t read an issue by the time the next one arrives, you probably won’t read it–give it to a friend or recycle it.

Photographs/Movies

When you get together with family and friends–especially if a reunion is on your schedule–spend a couple of hours reminiscing and sort through your old photos. There may be photos you don’t wish to keep, but someone else might appreciate them.

Photographs can be organized in a number of ways. Organize them by child, family, friends, decades, vacations, etc. Store photographs in mylar albums or acidfree photo boxes; plastic or painted metal boxes can cause photos to deteriorate.

Transfer old home movies onto DVDs. There are a number of businesses that provide this service if you don’t want to attempt it yourself. It’s also a great gift idea.

Gardening

Spending time in your garden is a wonderful way to enjoy the fresh air. Take photos of your garden during the summer months. If you like to plan next year’s garden during the winter, photos will come in handy. Make some notes; they’ll help you decide what you liked or what you’d like to do differently next year.

Garage

Organizing the garage can be a very big undertaking. Click here for our tips.

Outdoor Projects

Make a list of all your outdoor projects–paint garage doors, stain deck or refinish a chair. Our warm weather never seems to last long enough to accomplish everything we want to do. 

Reward Yourself

The best part about summer projects is that you get to spend some time outside. Plan a fun activity for the whole family–head to your favourite place for ice cream, a picnic in the park or an outing to the beach–after the hard work is finished.

Until next month,

P.S.  Do YOU or someone you know need a professional organizer? TAKE OUR TEST and find out for yourself today!



MINIMALISM

Posted on: June 9th, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler SUMMER’S ALMOST HERE!

Who doesn’t love the warm weather? It’s hard to resist the temptation to be outside when it’s nice.

On the May 24 weekend, I was able to enjoy a few days of rest and relaxation at a friend’s cottage on beautiful Lake Temagami. It truly felt like summer!

The first day of summer is just about here. Kids are getting excited about the last day of school. People are trading in their socks and shoes for sandals or flip flops. The good weather never seems to last long enough in Canada. Enjoy it when you can!

So what do professional organizers do for fun? Last week my local POC chapter learned about apps to help our clients organize their lives. (I’ll share more about those apps in future editions.)

MINIMALISM

After our app learning session, we headed to downtown Toronto to attend a screening of “Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things” in which Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus discuss living a meaningful life with less stuff. They sum up minimalism as “a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important–so you can find happiness, fulfillment and freedom.”

Josh and Ryan made a conscious decision to quit their high-paying corporate jobs, pay off their sizeable debt, consume less and pursue their passion. Embracing minimalism has enabled them to find “lasting happiness…through life itself.”

How much does it cost to keep up with the Joneses? Did you know that advertising/marketing budgets directed at children has reached 2 billion dollars per year. That’s downright frightening!

Every day consumers are bombarded with messages to do this or need that. You have the power to determine how your hard-earned dollars are spent. Are you a mindful consumer?

As a professional organizer, I’ve witnessed clients who feel so much better after reducing the excess in their homes. It’s like a burden has been lifted off their shoulders.

What can you do? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I living my ideal life?
  • What’s most important in my life?
  • What can I simplify?
  • What can I reduce or eliminate?

Take some time to reflect–either by yourself or with those closest to you–and unearth your true purpose.

There’s no time like the present to lighten up your life!

Until next month,

P.S.  Do YOU or someone you know need a professional organizer? TAKE OUR TEST and find out for yourself today!



THE VALUE OF A CHECKLIST

Posted on: May 12th, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler HAPPY SPRING–FINALLY!

The warm weather is finally upon us, the spring flowers are in bloom, and the “May 24 weekend” (as we like to call it in Canada) is just around the corner. Get outside and enjoy it whenever you can!

On a personal note–Congratulations to Melissa and Patrice who welcomed their baby boy Clément on April 19! I was thrilled to become a great aunt.

THE VALUE OF A CHECKLIST

When you start a task or project, do you jump right in and get started–without a plan? Are you satisfied with the outcome? Is it what you had hoped? If not, take the time to create a plan.

Time spent planning can produce amazing results. Yes, it will take some time to create the original checklist, but it will save you valuable time down the road. Having a plan should reduce your sense of being overwhelmed too!

A checklist is a great tool for repetitive processes–big or small. For large projects, you may only be able to use a checklist for part of a project.  And remember, your checklist is not carved in stone. Consider it a work in progress, and revise it as required.

Do you own a business or work in a business that participates in trade shows? Are you always scrambling at the last minute getting ready? Do you inevitably forget to bring something with you? Click here for my Trade Show Checklist.

Don’t forget to take a look at our “Get Checking” archives too!

P.S.  Do YOU or someone you know need a professional organizer? TAKE OUR TEST and find out for yourself today!



THE TAX MAN COMETH…ARE YOU READY?

Posted on: April 13th, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

 

Cathy Mendler HAPPY BIRTHDAY to A NEW LEAF!

A New Leaf celebrated 10 years in business on March 17th!

Thanks to all of our clients and everyone who has referred clients to us. We have been very fortunate!

THE TAX MAN COMETH…ARE YOU READY?

I have a confession to make! This issue should have been published a bit earlier. I had assistance with it and wasn’t able to proofread it sooner because I was completing my taxes!!

Does the thought of getting your forms and receipts organized so that you can file your 2015 taxes make your stomach churn? While the best advice is always to work ahead and NOT wait until the last minute to get organized, these suggestions will help you to simplify your tax preparation.

1.    Start with last year’s return. Make a list of categories on your return which pertain to you. For instance, you might include basic items like T4s, investment income, RRSPs, medical receipts, charitable donations, and education expense (just to name a few!).

2.    Purchase an expandable accordion-type file. The traditional brown kind works well for us, but feel free to be creative! Make sure it has MORE sections than you have items on your list, so that you have room to add additional categories. Don’t forget to label the outside of the envelope with the tax year.

3.    Now, you will have a place for each form and receipt. Make sure to file them as soon as you receive them in order to prevent the headache of missing forms.

4.    If you have a number of receipts in some slots, medical expenses for example, add up the total for all of the receipts and staple the calculator tape to the pile. Repeat the process for each category as required.

5.    If you are a business owner, you will also have categories for business assets and expenses. We recommend that you keep a business tax folder separate from your personal taxes for ease of filing.

6.    If there is room, set up separate slots for completed returns, refund/payment information and assessments.

7.    If you are a tech-minded person, consider computerizing your financial records with one of the very effective programs available. Some clients scan in receipts and attach them to their respective files, but DON’T FORGET that you are still required to keep paper copies of your receipts for seven years. It is a good idea to hold onto ALL of your tax returns.

Now you can relax and calm that churning stomach…until you need to write the cheque!

P.S.  Do YOU or someone you know need a professional organizer? TAKE OUR TEST and find out for yourself today!



March 8th is Organize Your Home Office Day…are you ready?

Posted on: March 3rd, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler
  ………….  MARCH 8, 2016

   ORGANIZE YOUR HOME OFFICE DAY!

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Year by year, home offices have become increasingly more common. They are no longer used only by entrepreneurs and telecommuters; we use them as a workplace for school work, playing the bills and simply running the computerized part of our lives.

For some of us, having a home office is almost as important as having a kitchen; and for many of us, our office space can end up being just as cluttered and disorganized.

This Organize Your Home Office Day, let’s GET MOTIVATED with 10 great ideas to help make YOUR home office better!

1.    Tame the paper tiger! EVERY DAY, keep up with your paperwork so that it doesn’t pile up. Toss it, shred it, file it or take action on it now, but NEVER pile it!

2.    Store office supplies in drawers, baskets, bins and storage containers, so that your space looks less cluttered. Use a label maker so that everyone knows where to find something when they need it.

3.     Make use of vertical space! Take a hard look at the clutter on the flat surfaces in your office and use wall space for things like calendars, shelves, and filing systems.

4.    Organize your books so that they are easily accessible AND easier to return to the shelf. Try organizing by subject or alphabetically or, if you prefer, organize them by colour to give your office a more organized look.

5.    Create a printing station. Designate one space for paper and printing supplies, preferably out of sight. Keep in mind that if you have a wireless printer, you don’t need to store it near your computer. You can stow it away anywhere in your office.

6.    Set up a mail station for controlling the paper coming in and out of the office. Create your own filing system and set up folders for mail (incoming and outgoing), paper to file and bills. If you have a very busy household with school-age children, you may need to set up files for each family member. Make it a practice to set aside a few minutes every day to deal with mail.

7.    Arrange your filing system so that it is colour coded and simple to use. For instance, you can use green files for all of your financial files (bills, credit cards, invoices), and red for medical files. Whatever system you choose, don’t be blinded by how pretty the colours look; it is still best to stow them out of sight!

8.    Create “life binders” for family members (and even for pets!) which contain important health-related information in case of a medical emergency. This would include immunization records, prescriptions, and allergies. If this system works well in your household, you can also create binders for your car (including repair records and insurance), manuals (including warranties and serial numbers) and household (including maintenance records).

9.    Use Velcro (the self-adhesive kind) to secure loose cords to the underside of your desk. This is one of our favourite tricks!

10.    PURGE! Take a long and hard look at what you actually USE in your home office. If you don’t use it regularly or if it simply doesn’t belong, send it to another part of the house or toss it altogether!

Can YOU think of more ideas to organize your home office? (There are DOZENS more!) Comment on our BLOG or FACEBOOK PAGE.

P.S.  Does your home office (or any other room in your house) need a professional organizer?

TAKE OUR TEST and find out for yourself today!



How Do Professional Organizers Do It?

Posted on: February 11th, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler

 

                    HOW DO WE DO IT?

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Having a neat and tidy space can feel great, but it is NOT the same as being organized! Professional organizers seem to work magic by finding order from chaos, but we all follow a few simple rules to achieve that objective. Here are our five favourites:

1-Find a place for everything. Store frequently used items nearby and the rest out of the way. When your things don’t have a home, clutter is the end result.

2- Say goodbye. It is tough to let go of things for which you’ve paid money or hold memories, but if they are not usable, dispose of them. It can be even harder to part with something in good working order, but if it doesn’t belong, it needs to go.

3- Time it right. As with anything, you can expect better results if you take on a project when you have the most time and energy to do so. Organizing can be an exhausting process, so plan to work when your energy is at its peak.

4- Break it down. Most organizing projects look huge on the surface, so break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks and smaller chunks of time. Even if you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to do something every day.

5- Find a buddy.
Being accountable to someone, a friend, family member, co-worker OR your professional organizer, will help your motivation enormously.

There is much more to organizing, of course, than these five suggestions, but applying them to your own projects will help YOU to do a bit of magic yourself.

P.S.  Do YOU or someone you know need a professional organizer? TAKE OUR TEST and find out for yourself today!



Have Your New Year’s Resolutions Survived?

Posted on: January 12th, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler
..DO YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
..  LAST PAST FEBRUARY?

 
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What trait do EVERY one of our clients and probably most of our readers have in common? We want our spaces to be better organized, because we all know that this is one of the greatest keys to motivation, productivity and inspiration. At least 80% of us will TRY to accomplish this by making a list of resolutions this January, while only about 10% of us will actually keep them past February!

What is the key, then, to keeping our resolutions to improve our spaces AND our lives? We need to find the right approach that works for US personally! Here’s a list that we’ve compiled from our experience with helping our clients keep those resolutions all the way to NEXT New Year’s Eve.

1)    WRITE IT DOWN! Any goal is just a dream until you write it down! Making a checklist is NOT just for kids. Keep a chart where you can see it, and check off the boxes as you achieve your objectives.

2)    BREAK IT DOWN! Our resolutions tend to be for LARGE projects, like organizing your home for example. Break large goals down into smaller steps, and try setting up a rough schedule in advance which sets out your tasks month to month. Next, take a look at your tasks, and make a list of things that can be accomplished in a small amount of time and do them first!

3)    NARROW IT DOWN! Most of us set ourselves up for failure by making more goals than we could ever accomplish. Start off with just a few goals. Accomplish those first before you set out to do more.

4)    REMIND YOURSELF! If you are into high-tech, set up mobile reminders on your phone or mobile device. There are many apps available to help you with this!  For the less technically inclined, set up notes where you will see them often and remind yourself of your goals.

5)    MAKE IT FUN!
Not every goal needs to be a grueling one! Add enjoyable goals such as adding more plants or cut flowers to your home or redecorating a room. Goals can also be more fun to accomplish when you have a buddy or even a group to help you along the way. Try to stick with positive thinkers. Don’t forget to reward yourself for your good work along the way!

We wish you all the best in the New Year. Our hope is that these ideas will help you to turn over a new leaf and make 2016 your most organized year yet!

P.S. Do you have other suggestions for keeping your New Year’s resolutions? Comment on our blog or Facebook page and let us know!



A Simple Plan to Simplify Your Holidays!

Posted on: December 8th, 2015 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler 

              SIMPLIFY YOUR HOLIDAYS!

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Last month we talked a LOT about how to reduce stress by planning ahead and organizing your Holiday activities. No matter how well you plan, your stress level is likely to be proportional to the length of your to-do list! When we get caught up in all of the bustle, we not only run the risk of becoming tired, cranky and run-down; we can ALSO forget the reason for our preparations.

If your Holiday preparations are launching you into panic mode, it’s time to step back and control the chaos. Here are some reminders of the BEST of the many suggestions that we have provided to our Monthly Organizer readers to simplify their Holidays AND their lives!

1)    Write it all down! There are so many things to remember, aren’t there? Jot everything down, keep a calendar and a master list to help yourself stay organized.

2)    Start early! Divide your task list into smaller pieces and spread your tasks over as much time as you can. We aren’t fond of seeing Christmas décor on the shelves before Halloween either, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get ahead with tasks like house cleaning and Christmas cards.

3)    Take time to rest! Allow yourself time to rest and relax instead of hustling and bustling. Sometimes it helps to look at the Holidays through the eyes of a child.

4)    Avoid the crowds! Make your purchases early if you can or opt for gift cards, charitable donations or other gifts that can be taken care of with a few clicks of the mouse instead of a trip to the store.

5)    Get help! Don’t be afraid to assign tasks to family members, employees or associates. Your tasks may not be completed exactly the way you would do them, but at least they will be done!

6)    Don’t break the bank! If your gift list is long and your funds are short, consider giving handmade crafts, baking or offering a service. Don’t forget to make a budget and stick to it!

7)    Learn that important little word! It’s not “please” or even “thank you.” It’s “NO!” Set limits for yourself if you’re speading yourself too thin, and remember that you can’t do everything. Saying “no” can be hard but think of it as opening up more chances for you to say “yes.”

What’s our very best suggestion for simplifying your Holiday? Remember the reasons why you are celebrating and the things that are most important to you!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at A New Leaf Organizers!

P.S. Do you have other suggestions for simplifying your Holidays? Comment on our blog or Facebook page and let us know!