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

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!

..

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?

..

 

 

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?

 
..
..
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!

.

.
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!



Peace and Joy NOT Stress and Hurry!

Posted on: November 10th, 2015 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler     STRESS-FREE HOLIDAYS

   The Holidays are supposed to bring us joy.
 ..For many of us, it is also a time of stress.

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.
Many, but certainly not ALL sources of Holiday stress can be relieved to some degree by prior planning and organization.

Let’s take a look at the TOP TEN Most Stressful Holiday Activities List from Franklin Covey, a global leader in effectiveness training.

1.    Spending too much money
2.    Deciding which gifts to give to whom
3.    Sending parcels and cards on time
4.    Taking care of health and well-being
5.    Not enough time for gift buying
6.    Not enough time to attend events
7.    Decorating and hosting parties
8.    Managing workloads in order to take time off
9.    Maintaining relationships with family and friends
10.  Creating and sticking to a Holiday budget.

Most of these items probably sound quite familiar to most of us, and almost every one of them could be reduced or even eliminated with a bit of prior planning and organization.

We recommend that you start NOW (it IS November!) to make your own plan to relieve your Holiday stressors.

If you need a few ideas, read on to check out our suggestions to reduce Holiday stress. Print out a Holiday Checklist.

P.S. What stresses YOU most about the Holidays? Comment on our blog or Facebook page and let us know!



How to Store Your Holiday Decorations

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler
‘TIS THE TIME OF YEAR…TO GET ORGANIZED

 Holidays like Thanksgiving and Halloween are fun, but they
.can also create a challenge when it’s time to stow away those
.seasonal decorations. 

 We all know that the best solution is to store them out of the way, so that they don’t take up the space assigned to more frequently used things, but WHERE and HOW do you store them? 

Here are a few suggestions we share with our clients: 

1. Use a storage area like a garage, basement or attic, if you have one, so that they are out of sight but still easily accessible. 

2. Choose a place that is easy to access. If you store them in a place that takes too much effort to access, you might make organizing for these occasions a chore even before you start to celebrate. 

3. Label containers so you know where to look. If you are a fan of those giant plastic storage tubs (which, unfortunately, you can’t see through), be sure to use different coloured containers based on the event, such as red for Christmas, orange for Halloween and green for St. Patrick’s Day.

4. Group items by occasion or season. It’s okay to combine Halloween and Thanksgiving or Christmas and New Year’s decor, for instance, but try to avoid combining several occasions into one container. If you have only a few decorations, just use a smaller container.

5. Purge as you pack. Did you use those pumpkin lights this year? If not, what are the chances you will use them next year? If you’ve received a new item, try finding an old item for it to replace and PURGE!

Get started and turn over another leaf!

We wish everyone a safe, happy and organized October!

P.S. Check out our Facebook page every Monday to see a new MARTHA MONDAY organizing video on this topic…and many more!



Let’s Get School to Home Paperwork Organized!

Posted on: September 9th, 2015 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler  It’s September!

  Children are back at school, and the first official day of fall is
..almost here. I love the fall with all of the beautiful colours as
..the trees change, although I’m not so fussy about them losing
..their leaves.

I hope you had some time to relax and rejuvenate during the summer. For many people, fall means getting back into a busy routine with meetings, piano lessons and sports activities.

Back to school brings with it much more than structured routines and homework—a seemingly endless stream of paper!

Here are some suggestions to help you handle all of that paper.

ORGANIZING SCHOOL AND HOME PAPERWORK

Designated Paperwork Area

Designate one area where you will deal with paperwork.  Use a tray or basket as an inbox.  Get everyone in the family into the habit of using it.  If it doesn’t go in the inbox, it won’t get looked at.  Remember–it can take up to 21 times repeating an action before it becomes a habit.  Gentle reminders will help the process when you first start.  Perhaps you can offer a small reward as an incentive.

Routine
Having a routine for keeping paperwork under control is critical.  When your children get home from school, have them unload their knapsacks—dirty lunch containers go in the sink or dishwasher, books go to their homework or study area, paperwork goes to the inbox, etc.

Calendar and Activities Schedule
The family calendar should be kept in your designated paperwork area.  All activities should be put onto one calendar.  Keeping more than one calendar up to date 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.

Once you add all of your children’s extra-curricular activities to the calendar, you may realize that they are overscheduled.  Remember that it’s OK to limit the number of activities for each child.  Your children need some time to just be kids!

Reference Binder
A three-ring binder can be used to store frequently used information–names and phone numbers for your dentist, school, babysitter, veterinarian or lawn care company.  Lists for children’s sports activities and take-out menus can also be included.

Tickler File
Set up a tickler file.  A tickler file system consists of folders with tabs for each month and day of the month.  This system should hold all of your current household paper—bills to pay, receipts, coupons, wedding invitations, etc.  A file cabinet should contain your non-current household paper.

If you would like further information on setting up a tickler file, please contact us.

Schedule Time for Paperwork
Set aside a few minutes every day to deal with paperwork.  What’s important is that it happens on a regular basis as required.  Review paperwork in the late afternoon or evening.  It is less stressful than trying to deal with it as everyone is trying to get ready and out the door in the morning!

Don’t forget to place signed permission slips, tests or notes into the children’s knapsacks as soon as possible after completion in order to avoid misplacing them.

Artwork and Projects
Is your fridge or bulletin board covered in artwork?  Each child should have their own box for artwork and projects.  Let your child have fun and decorate the box.  Place a folder inside for current masterpieces.  At the end of the month (or whatever time period you decide), ask your child to select his or her favourite piece or two.  You’ll run out of space in no time if you keep all of them.  If necessary, take photos of bigger projects and artwork that they decide not to keep.  Remember to label each box with the year and grade.

Keep it Simple
Don’t make your system for dealing with paperwork more complicated than it needs to be.  Controlling your family’s paper will be much easier if you keep it simple.

Get started and turn over another leaf!



Let’s Get Started to Turn Over a New Leaf!

Posted on: August 4th, 2015 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler
IT’S AUGUST!

It’s been more than a few months since my last
newsletter. Life threw me another curve ball. This
time, however, it was expected–for the most part.

In a span of five months, three family members had joint replacements and another major surgery. Countless hours were spent at the hospital, on the highway and caring for my mother. There are times in life when family and friends need to be first on the priority list. I am grateful for clients and business associates who are so understanding. I did, however, complete a very large client move which required me to be out of town for six weeks.

During times like this, I had to remind myself that there’s only one of me. As my business coach said recently, “I wish I could clone you!” If only it were that simple!

It’s important to take care of yourself when life gets to be overwhelming. Here are 106 Tips from Caregivers which may be helpful if you find yourself in that situation.

The past month has been busy, but it hasn’t all been work-related. We celebrated my niece’s wedding several weeks ago. I’d like to officially welcome Patrice to our family–as well as all of his family who travelled from France. It’s been the summer for weddings, as we’ve had the honour of attending two others as well–at beautiful locations.

I also managed to squeeze in six days of rest and relaxation at a friend’s cottage on beautiful Lake Temagami.

Have you been promising yourself that you’ll clean out the garage or have a yard sale this summer? Here are links to a couple of past blog posts–for our new readers and for those who asked for a repeat.

Organizing Your Garage

Organizing Your Yard Sale

Get started and turn over another leaf!