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

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!

..

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!

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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!



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!