Do you own a storage locker–2 perhaps or even 3? Stay tuned to future issues for a deal to help you clean out that locker–once and for all!
Do you own a storage locker–2 perhaps or even 3? Stay tuned to future issues for a deal to help you clean out that locker–once and for all!
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!
..…with SEVEN great ways to reduce Holiday Stress!
1. Set up a Holiday action plan.
Start by determining what activities are most essential to bringing YOU that Holiday joy. Then, set goals based on how you will spend your time doing things that you value. Don’t forget to break down larger goals in smaller and more manageable tasks. Be sure to write them down, and refer to them often.
2. Keep your plans WITH YOU all of the time.
Include your appointments, task list, gift list (including ideas), contacts and budget notes with you, so that you will be able to make use of this information as you need it.
3. Spend time daily and weekly to review your plans.
Take time to review your goals. Chart your progress to make sure that you are on track AND that nothing critical gets overlooked. Set deadlines for your goals. Remember to be realistic, AND remember to reward your progress.
4. Create your Holiday budget AND stick to it.
Determine how much will you spend in total and for each person on your gift list. Take your budget with you, and keep track of what you’ve spent. Be sure to include an allowance in your budget for unforeseen circumstances like forgetting to include a person on your list, price increases, shipping costs and sales ending too soon.
5. Keep gift buying as simple as possible.
Limit the number of stores as well as the amount of time spent in each one. Online buying is a good alternative as long as you allow extra time and consider shipping costs in your budget. Follow your plan as closely as you can. Include some flexibility, so you still enjoy your gift buying experience.
6. Focus your time between work and play.
When you are working, don’t focus on your personal life and your never-ending to-do list. Do your best to leave work on time, so you CAN get those things done. Try to focus ONLY on family and friends while you are spending time with them.
7. Take time for your own personal well-being.
Whenever you are feeling stressed, take time to relax and refocus. Schedule time for self-renewal, exercise and healthy eating. If you can’t get everything done, focus on the things that matter most to you.
When you plan in advance and manage your time based on what is most important to you, you will have less stress and more peace during the Holidays AND in the New Year ahead.
The Holidays are supposed to bring us joy.
..For many of us, it is also a time of stress.
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.
Even though it’s the beginning of March, it’s still not looking like spring is just around the corner with all of the snow that’s still on the ground. But don’t let that stop you from forging ahead with your plans for this year.
Let’s get started and turn over another leaf!
EMPTYING YOUR CHILDHOOD HOME
Emptying your childhood home is one of life’s more difficult transitions. Whether your parents are moving to an apartment, a retirement residence or a nursing home–or they have passed away–here are some tips to assist you.
If possible, let your parents be in control. Put yourself in their shoes, and remember that it is their home. The process will run more smoothly if you respect their wishes.
Have a plan, and start as early as possible. Don’t expect your parents to clear out their entire house in a couple of weeks. The process takes time, as well as a great deal of energy and patience. Keep your parents’ energy level in mind.
Be empathetic. Did they grow up during the depression when possessions were scarce? Realizing that possessions are not worth very much now from a monetary point of view is an unfortunate reality. Often they have far more sentimental value.
Disposal of Possessions
Are there items that children and grandchildren find particularly meaningful to them? Schedule a family meeting. If someone doesn’t want or need items, don’t make them feel guilty. Nowadays, most people don’t want the maintenance that comes along with grandmother’s silver tea service.
Sorting through items will likely evoke many memories, and it’s common for seniors to share those stories. It’s a necessary part of the process and will help them let go. The more meaningful an item, the harder it may be. It’s often easier to let an item go if they know someone else will make good use of it. No one likes the idea of their possessions being discarded. Items that are worth money can be sold or donated.
Avoid packing items in a box and storing them in a basement. It’s not a good way to honour the memory of a loved one. In addition, it will prevent someone from dealing with the items again at a later date.
Remember–letting go of someone’s possessions does not mean you are letting go of that person. The memory of a loved one lives in your head and in your heart.
Spring has finally sprung!
Spring is the time of year when we like to clear out the cobwebs, splash on a fresh coat of paint, and spruce up tired areas of our homes.
So let’s get started and turn over another leaf!
ORGANIZING A DECORATING/RENOVATING PROJECT
“Among these several kinds of beauty the eye takes most delight in colours.”
Joseph Addison (English Poet, 1672-1719)
If you’re planning to redecorate or renovate, start your plan on paper. Determine your budget.
Renovating can be stressful. However long you think the project will take, add some extra time to your estimate. Unexpected delays are often a reality of renovation projects.
Create a list of everything you will need in order to avoid numerous trips to the store.
Hiring a decorating professional for a 1-2 hour consultation may seem expensive, but one large mistake may prove more costly.
Choose a contractor if you’re not doing the work yourself. Get family and friends to recommend someone. Check out the contractor’s references, and contact the Better Business Bureau.
If you are planning to build a new deck or outside structure, don’t forget to contact your local utilities in advance. “Call before you dig” is always sound advice. You don’t want to cut hydro/power, telephone or TV/internet cables, and/or water or gas lines. Always think safety first!
Which styles do you like–traditional, contemporary, country, cottage or eclectic? What colours do you like?
A piece of fabric or artwork can be the inspiration for a whole room/area. If you plan to redecorate more than one room/area, think about the colour flow.
Watch a decorating show. Take a walk through a furniture store or fabric store. Peruse some decorating magazines. Canadian House & Home and Style at Home are good ones; they provide the Canadian sources for many of the featured items.
How can you decide what to build for storage if you don’t know what items will be stored in that location? Purge as you pack your belongings, so that you can determine your storage needs. Reassembling your room will be easier also.
Furniture and Placement
Will you be rearranging your current furniture, switching pieces from another room in your home or adding new pieces?
Decorators often recommend neutral colours for investment pieces. It is much easier to replace your accessories than to replace your sofa.
Remember that large pieces of furniture look smaller in the showroom than they will in your home. It is extremely important to take the measurements home beforehand and check to see if the new pieces will fit. You can tape an outline of the furniture on the floor, so that you don’t have to move heavy furniture.
Choose furniture that performs double duty—an ottoman with a tray and storage inside, a sofa with a bed, etc.
Changing the colour of a room is the easiest change you can make, and it will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Keep in mind that it is easier to mix a paint colour to co-ordinate with your fabric and/or furniture than the other way around. Take fabric samples to the paint store. We can recognize over 7,000,000 colours, but we can’t remember an exact colour for more than 30 seconds.
Choose an environmentally friendly paint if your budget allows. Large paint chips and test pots are available at some paint stores. If you don’t want to test the paint on the wall, paint a small piece of bristol board. You will be able to move the board around to different locations to see what the colour looks like at different times of the day and night. Light is an important issue when choosing a paint colour.
Did you know that if you paint a cool colour in a north-facing room, it feels even cooler? Did you know that if you paint a warm colour in a south-facing room, it feels even warmer?
If you choose a neutral colour, a variety of textures in the room will make it work well.
Here is where you can use this year’s trendy colours. Take paint chips and fabric samples when you look for accessories. Remember that items don’t need to match exactly—as long as the colours blend.
Plan ahead for easy meals. When cooking, double a recipe and freeze one batch. This is especially important if you are renovating your kitchen. What will you be able to access? Can you cook outside? Consider using paper plates if you won’t have a kitchen sink to wash dishes or use your dishwasher.
If you’ll be ordering take-out, don’t forget to include those costs in your budget.
If you take the time to plan well, your decorating/renovating project should go more smoothly, and your money will likely be spent more wisely.
Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but the holidays are just around the corner. Make this the year that everything runs smoothly. If you start planning now, there’s no reason why that can’t happen.
So let’s get started and turn over another leaf!
PLANNING FOR THE HOLIDAYS – PART 1
“The more prepared I am, the more I’ll be in control, less nervous, less stressed and more focused.” Marilu Henner
Never has this statement been truer than when it comes to the holidays.
If Thanksgiving was too hectic, think about what you can do differently. I’m not going to scare you and tell you how many days are left until Christmas.
Spreading out your tasks over an eight-week period instead of trying to cram everything into the last few weeks is the best approach.
Now is the time to think about your family traditions. Which are your most favourite? Which are your least favourite? You don’t have to do something just because you feel it is expected. It might not be as important to others as you think. Talk to your family about eliminating the least favourite.
If dinner is at your home this year, and the idea of cooking dinner for 25 people overwhelms you, don’t try to do it all yourself. Make it a potluck dinner. Ask relatives or friends to bring their favourite dish. Remember to keep a list, so that you don’t end up with too much of an item.
Calendar and Activities Schedule
Update your family calendar with school events, parties, concerts, parades and tournaments. Try not to overschedule yourself. Remember that it’s OK to say NO! It may be tough if you’re not used to it. If you do say no, don’t feel guilty about it.
Create a Master List
Your master list should contain all of the tasks that you want to complete. Write the tasks on your calendar and plan to do one task each day.
Start a notebook, and make a list of everyone for whom you need to find a gift. Ask for suggestions. Listen carefully to people; they often provide ideas without even realizing it. Don’t forget to jot down ideas as you think of them.
Your time is valuable; perhaps you can order online or use the Yellow Pages. Call ahead to see if the store has an item in stock. Most stores will set items aside.
Label an envelope for gift receipts. If an item needs to be returned or exchanged, you’ll only have one place to look.
Stock up on any items you need–especially if they’re on sale. Pick up hostess gift items—boxes of holiday chocolates, holiday napkins tied up with colourful ribbon, a bottle of their favourite beverage, etc.
Give gifts that are kind to the environment. Check out the many church bazaars and shows which showcase talented local artisans. A gift certificate to a nursery for plants, flowers or trees makes a great gift for someone who loves gardening.
Make your own gift certificates—several hours of babysitting for a friend, a home-cooked dinner, shovelling snow for a neighbour, etc. Let your children have some fun creating the gift certificates.
For those people who have everything, make a donation to their favourite charity. Make a donation to a Christmas Goodwill program in their name. Or give them a card stating that you have bought an Angel Tree gift, so that a child has a gift to open on Christmas morning.
Would four kinds of cookies suffice for the six or eight kinds you made last year? Organize a cookie exchange. Make sure to order ahead from your favourite bakery, if you decide not to bake. If you have a friend who loves to bake, ask her if she’ll bake for you in exchange for wrapping gifts or another task.
Try out new recipes ahead of time. Don’t attempt them on Christmas Eve when you have numerous other things to worry about.
When cooking meals now, double the recipe and put the second batch in the freezer. You’ll appreciate not having to cook when you have a particularly hectic night.
Make time to volunteer—even if it’s for a couple of hours. Involve your children. Whether it’s buying gifts, serving a meal at a soup kitchen, helping at the Food Bank, wrapping gifts, delivering Christmas hampers or visiting with someone who lives alone, there are unlimited ways to get involved in your community.
We all want everything to be perfect, but it’s not good if we’re so stressed that we can’t enjoy it. Be realistic. Set reasonable limits on gift-making, wrapping and baking projects. Don’t add to your stress level by being a perfectionist.
The important thing about the holidays is that you set aside some time to be with your relatives, friends and neighbours or doing whatever means the most to you!
I invite you to share our newsletter with your friends and family. As well, I welcome your feedback and suggestions.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next month!
It’s that time of year again! The relaxing days of summer are almost behind us.
GETTING ORGANIZED FOR BACK TO SCHOOL
If you plan ahead, you’ll be ready for the first day of school.
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.
Have your children try on all of their clothing to see what fits. Yes, they really have grown 3 inches during the summer! Make a list of what needs to be bought.
Let children decide what they are going to wear, and lay out their clothes the night before.
Has the school provided a list of supplies that will be required? Stock up during the back-to-school sales. With higher gas prices, saving a couple of dollars by running from store to store may not be worth the extra effort involved. Remember that your time is valuable.
Backpacks should be 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.
Keep your cupboards well stocked with lunch items. While single-serving sizes are convenient, they are more costly. Be thrifty and get supplies in bulk. Keep a pen and paper handy in or near your pantry to make a note of items that are running low.
Older children should be responsible for making their own lunches. Provide healthy choices, and let them choose what they like. Make lunches at night to save time in the morning. Put leftovers into lunch containers when cleaning up after dinner. When you cook, double the recipe and freeze one batch. You can use the second batch for lunches or dinner on a busy night. It will save you time and will be healthier than picking up fast food.
Don’t forget to label all items your children take to school which need to be brought home each night or week.
Post a checklist as close as possible to where your children enter and exit for school. Make it easy for everyone to read. Have young children draw an outline of the items they need to take. Have a designated spot for each child’s coat, mittens, boots, backpack and sports equipment.
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. To make everyone’s life easier, try not to overschedule. Your children need some time to be kids!
Set up a reward system to motivate your children to reach their goals throughout the year. With your encouragement and positive reinforcement, they will succeed!
Summer is usually the time of year to take a well-deserved break. Like many of us, you’ve been eagerly awaiting some time off from your busy schedule.
While your business may slow down during the summer months, it shouldn’t grind to a halt.
Did you know “it is a fact that creativity often flows more readily when you are out[side]—especially if you are near water”? In Write It Down, Make It Happen, Henriette Anne Klauser tells us that “Being near water, especially moving water, gets ideas to flow.”
I attended a POC conference session a couple of years ago on “The Impact of Technology on Time Management” and learned a new word – “Thinksomnia.” While Harold Taylor (a Canadian time management expert) did not create this word, he has “adopted it and use(s) it in the context of our extreme busyness and resultant lack of creativity.” The definition for this made-up word is: “An idea that pops into your head just before you fall asleep, which is so big and brilliant, or else so dark and scary, that it keeps you awake all night long”.
For Harold, “it fit perfectly with [his] belief that because we are so busy and preoccupied all day, the only time we get to really think about anything new is at night just before we fall asleep. That’s when the ideas pop into our minds, and we start thinking about them to the point that we can’t get to sleep.” “I recommend to my clients that at least 10 percent of their work day should be left [available] for planning and thinking. Because our success and the success of our companies depend on it. Everything except creativity is being outsourced to other countries…We can’t afford to short-change our creativity – which we’re doing in this age of speed.”
Keep the above points in mind as you think ahead and set personal or business goals for the remainder of 2012. You may come up with your most brilliant ideas yet. Remember to keep a notepad handy to jot ideas down, so that you can put them into action!