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Showing posts from 2009

Stretch Your Holiday Dollar

I'm going to share with you what I do every November and December to save money so I have a little extra for gift giving and purge my pantry and freezer at the same time.

My secret...I prepare meals ONLY from what I have in my freezer and pantry as of November 1st. The only groceries I purchase are fresh produce, dairy and bread.

What's your secret to saving money around the holidays or in general? Come on share and send me your comments!

Tis the night before Halloween

Tis the night before Halloween and not a creature is stirring, but
Mom is having a frightful dream of the upcoming holidays and all the hoopla it's bringing!

If this is how you are feeling, I have five stress-free holiday solutions that will bring you peace and joy.

For $14.95 you receive a 30-minute Stress-Free Holidays phone consultation at a time that is convenient for you including:
1. Your personalized holiday task list that you can accomplish.
2. Your personalized holiday countdown calendar for visual motivation and tracking.
3. Your personalized holiday gift list, budget, and plan.
4. Gift-giving tips.
5. Holiday simplifying tips.

All this will save you time, money, and most of all frustration. $14.95 is a small price to pay for what could cost you hundreds of dollars, hours you don't have, and frustration you shouldn't have to experience.

It's only 27 days until Thanksgiving, 42 days until Hanukkah starts, 53 days until the first day of Kwanzaa, and 56 days …

Back to School Post #7 of 7- Conclusion-Help Them Find Their Own Method

Help Them Find Their Own Method

I have learned from my own experience that what works for me and works for my son and works for my husband doesn’t work for my daughter. If your method of organization isn’t working for your student, help her brainstorm a different method that will work for her. If she can come up with her own solution, she will have more ownership of it and be more successful as a result.

Do you know what's in your closet?

Do you have a closet full of clothes and can never find anything to wear? Do you hate to shop for clothes? Do you buy clothes and when you wear them feel like they just aren’t quite right?

I can help! I wanted to add personal wardrobe stylist to my repertoire of organizing services. Fortunately, I met Margaret Spencer, Founder of Holobi®, through my training background. I trained with Margaret and I am now thrilled to be a Certified Holobi® D.R.E.S. System Stylist who can show you how to bring out your brilliance and confidence so you can shine!

Find out more about our wardrobe makeover services and packages so you can enjoy an organized wardrobe and project the image you intend and feel brilliant!

View my Holobi® profile for the Holobi® services I can provide you.

Back to School Post #6 of 7 - Teach Project Management

Teach Project Management

Planners are essential for managing large school projects and papers. I suggest students subtract two days from the project’s due date for each week they have to work on it. (For a three-week assignment, for example, subtract six days and consider the new date as the due date.) This gives the student a buffer if anything comes up to throw him off schedule. 

From there, help your student work backward in his planner to create shorter term goals, such as “purchase materials,” “complete outline,” “finish first draft,” etc. This helps them manage their progress along the way and avoid a frantic rush to finish at the end.

Back to School Post #5 of 7 - Teach Time Management

Teach Time Management

It is a rare middle school student who can gauge how much time an assignment will take. Suggest your student use a timer to develop the skill. If they time themselves reading a fifteen-page chapter, for example, they’ll have a good idea how long to allocate when they have to read thirty pages, sixty pages, or more.

Plan their week every Sunday night or sometime over the weekend. Instruct the student to write in their planner any known commitments and assignments. Also, review what materials might be needed for projects during the week.

Back to School Post #4 of 7 - Use Tools Wisely

Use Tools Wisely Photo from Order Out of Chaos
Most middle school students use binders and planners, but many don’t use them effectively. Help them to choose a binder with several pockets, then designate the pockets as follows: 

one for each subject, to hold all completed assignments the teacher has returnedone for all homework to complete, so it’s easy to see what needs to be done one for homework to turn in, which should be empty at the end of each day.

With planners, suggest finding one like Order out of Chaos's academic planner shown above.  A planner that includes a week-at-a glance, with blank headings for columns and rows. Designate each column as a day of the week and each row as a subject area or class. Include a row for extracurricular activities as well. This way, students can see everything they have to do on each day. If one day looks heavy and another light (no assignments in one class or no extracurricular activities, for example), help your student determine how to use…

Back to School Post #3 of 7 - Make Homework Routine

Make Homework Routine

You can help by making sure your student has a suitable space to work without distractions and with homework supplies nearby. Find a place that’s comfortable but not so comfortable he’ll fall asleep.

Create a routine of setting aside a specific time for doing homework, not just “sometime tonight.” Have a really specific time so that gets developed into their routine and becomes a habit also.

Back to School Post #2 of 7 - Parents Need to Stay Involved

Parents Stay Involved

While middle school is a time of burgeoning independence, parents need to stay involved, at least until their student shows he can manage his own workload. Help your student by creating a routine and habit of the parent checking in with their child each day to review their homework and their projects.

Have them check daily to ensure their child has completed his work and packed it in his backpack or binder. When the student returns from school, make sure he’s turned it in.

For most kids, these daily checks will become habits before long and the parent will be able to relinquish the responsibility.

Back to School Post #1 of 7 - Transitions

I took the month of August off, but now I'm gearing up to send my kids back to school next week. I'm devoting the month of September blog posts to tips on transitioning back to school.

Parents need help organizing their children's school activities and their homework (typically middle school students who have ADD). The challenges of transitioning from one teacher in elementary school to many teachers in middle school often takes students and parents by surprise. 

Many students lack the organizational tools necessary to handle the multiple classes, assignments, projects, teaching methods, and expectations. This all leads to a breakdown in study skills, lower grades, and increased tension between parents and children.

What’s a parent to do? Don’t panic! In my upcoming blog posts I will offer simple tips to help your student develop the organizational skills he’ll need to succeed in middle school, and in life. 

Updated - August 2015
For more back to school organizing tips see:

My Book is Published!

Get Rich Organizing: The Professional Organizer Survival Guide to Launch, Manage, and Grow a Profitable Business

Order your signed copy now!

Listen to my book interview with Susan Creal
access code 220447
phone 6054754875
subscriber pin 401106

Effortless Organizing Solution #28

Say NO! Take 15 minutes and go through your calendar and your projects. What did you commit to that you really don't feel passionate about? What are you giving up that you truly want to do but can't be cause you said YES to other activities?

Select at least three activities or projects that you really don't want to do and say NO. Take them off your list/calendar and add three activities that will truly make you happy--or don't add anything and enjoy the freedom it brings you.

The next time someone asks you to do something and you really don't want to do...say NO!! It's the most powerful productivity tool you have.

Effortless Organizing Solution #27

Get a jump on your week! Sunday night sit down with yourself or your family and take 15 minutes to plan your week. 15 minutes of effort will save hours during the week! Review the following:
*Calendar of activities
*Who is taking whom where, when, and how?
*What's for dinner and who's cooking it?
*Who's doing what chores and when?

Let me know how your week goes. Did this save you time? Reduce frustration? Increase family communication?

Effortless Organizing Solution #26

Take 15 minutes and assemble a "while-you-wait" bag. Do you find yourself standing in line, stuck in traffic, at your child's sporting event and wish you had something to occupy your time? You can get a lot done in brief periods of time. Pack your bag for those projects you can do anywhere and keep the tools you need in your bag too. here are a few ideas:
*Read a novel or magazine
*Write thank you notes
*Sort through your coupons
*Write a shopping list
*Pay your bills
*Plan your weekly menus
*Crossword puzzles
*Fill out forms
*Write a blog

Effortless Organizing Solution #25

Stop the junk mail insanity!!! Are you just returning from a vacation and appalled at the amount of junk mail you received? Then do your part and stop your junk mail. Take 15 minutes and send a letter and $1.00 to the address below to get off the junk mail list. Click here for a sample letter or you can also register online.

Mail Preference Center Direct Marketing Association P.O. Box 643 Carmel, NY 15012-0643

Effortless Organizing Solution #24

Add turntables to difficult places to reach.
I am vertically challenged. So, whenever I find it difficult to reach something on a shelf, I add a turntable for the items on that shelf. This works particularly well in kitchens (pantry, top refrigerator shelf, and upper cabinet shelves).

Turntables also work well in cabinets when you can't reach the back of cabinet such as under the bathroom sink for storing cleaning bottles.

Do you have places you can't easily reach? If you do, take 15 minutes and add turntables for the items in those spaces. You will be amazed at how much easier life can be when you can reach the things you need without getting on a step stool or down on your hands and knees.

Effortless Organizing Solution #23

You have 15 minutes... GO! Use this time to: clear our your voicemail box, put 20 pictures in a photo album, run the trash relay, return an important call, toss the spoiled food in your refrigerator, clean out a bathroom drawer, sort the mail, wrap a gift, fill out a form, make a grocery list, or flip through your calendar and plan for the upcoming week.

If you take care of a task this size every time you have 15 free minutes, you will be organized and clutter free in a very short time.

Effortless Organizing Solution #22

SET TIME LIMITS - If you have to work late or during the weekend, set time limits for yourself. Whether you work for two or four hours, stop working at the end of that time and enjoy the rest of the evening or weekend.

Setting time limits can also encourage you to start a task you have been putting off. I don't particularly like to weed. So I set a timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off I usually keep on weeding. It's the getting started and thinking it will take too much time that often prevents us from starting an undesirable task.

Effortless Organizing Solution #21

Take a break! Do nothing on your "to do" list today. Instead practicing doing nothing. Not sure how? I suggest you read Real Simple's August Issue article 10 Ways to Enjoy Doing Nothing. But, then that would be doing something instead of nothing!

Effortless Organizing Solution #20

Pay your bills online and set them up to be automatically paid if possible.
Take 15 minutes right now and go online to your bank and set up your bill payments online. It's easy and you can set up recurring payments automatically for payments such as your mortgage, insurance, anything that is the same amount payment after payment.

Think how much time you will gain by letting automation work for you! And, you won't incur late fees because you forgot to pay a bill. That's what I call a double savings--time and money--with a single task!

Effortless Organizing Solution #19

Plan your errand route!
Monday or Friday is my designated errand day--depends mostly on my client schedule. Today is my designated weekly errand day and I have a lot of errands to run. They really pile up in a week's time.

I know if I don't take a few minutes to plan out my route I'll be zig zagging all over town. Not only will I be wasting time, I'll be wasting gas--a precious commodity these days. Take 15 minutes before you start your errand jaunt to plan your route and save hours from zig zagging!

Effortless Organizing Solution #18

Attack your magazine clutter!
I know you have them. Those stacks upon stacks of magazines--some read, some not, and some you want to keep for your "someday" ideas.

An effortless solution to reduce your stacks is to take 15 minutes and sort through your magazines. Keep only the past 12 issues of any one magazine subscription. Toss any that are older than 12 months.

When your new issue comes in toss the oldest issue. This will keep your subscriptions to a maximum of one year's worth of issues. Which, INMHO is still too many for those who often say, "I'm so busy", or "I just don't have time".

If you really want to reduce your magazine clutter, toss all but the current issue. And, unsubscribe to any magazines you are not enjoying any more. Enjoy your new found space and freedom from the guilt of not reading your magazines!

Effortless Organizing Solution #16 and #17

Solution #16 - A truly functional shower caddy!

I was in Storables the other day picking up closet materials for a client and one of the sales staff pointed out this great new product they have, she said for college students. It's a shower tote by Interdesign. I said not only is it great for college students it great for kids (and adults) going to camp to store their shower necessities!

We camp every year with our kids. Now camping for me is a camp ground with access to a public shower. I have used the typical shower totes with one open bin and a handle and they have worked fine. But, everything gets sort of jumbled together. This one has a specific spot for bar soap, a place for tooth paste and tooth brushes and two bins for shampoos or make up products. This tote ORBZ! keeps everything in its designated place. Love it!

Effortless Organizing Solution #17 - Make a list!

Make a list (preferably electronic) of everything you need to take with you camping or your child needs to take …

Effortless Organizing Solution #15 - The 5x5 Habit for Increased Work Place and Personal Productivity and Efficiency

As a professional organizer, I have the opportunity to assist home owners and business owners with office organization—specifically information management and productivity efficiency. You are not alone if this area presents a challenge for you.

One method to simplify information management is to use the "5 x 5" habit for incoming information. The 5x5 habit consists of five categories of incoming information and five possible decisions of what to do with each piece of information. By grouping items, you can begin to rewire your brain around this sometimes overwhelming chore.

The 5x5 habit methodology is a component of the GO System. It’s simple. “GO” stands for Getting Organized! The GO System is a proven, step-by-step process that can help you find things when you need them and, more importantly, help you stay focused on high-priority activities.

Here's how to break it down:

Five Information Categories

The first step is sort incoming information into one of five catego…

Effortless Organizing Solution #14

Psst...your passwords!
How do you keep track of your passwords? Most likely on a piece of paper "hidden" away. Not very convenient when you are on your computer and can't remember your password for the store you are purchasing from online.

I have an effortless solution for you. Well, it may require some effort initially to key in your password information, but then whenever you need access to a password it will be extremely effortless. Here's the secret PASSWORDS PLUS. Download a trial today, trust me you will thank me for this one!

Effortless Organizing Solution #12

Dealing with closet bulge! Is your closet jammed full? Does the thought of cleaning it out overwhelm you? You are probably making the project bigger than it needs to be.

Set up this one simple system and watch your closet space expand. Place a basket on the floor of your closet or near your closet. Whenever you come across an item of clothing that you haven’t worn in a year, needs repair, has a stain on it, doesn’t fit you NOW, or your simply do not like anymore, place it in the basket. When the basket is full donate what you can’t resell. Set this system up in all of your closets.

Effortless Organizing Solution #11

Where are your clutter-energy drains?
Take 15 minutes to create a list of what drains your energy in your physical environment. Go through your space methodically and write down anything that bugs you when you walk in the room. The first step is simply to become aware of where your energy-sucking clutter zones are.

The next step is schedule 15 minutes to start addressing one of the areas on your list--pick the one that bugs you the most. You know, that monkey on your back. If you can get the monkey off your back you will gain energy to address the other areas.

Effortless Organizing Solution #10

Ditch all your unused electronics!
One of the major stumbling blocks for my clients to letting go of something is, "I paid a lot of money for it.” The monetary value of any item is only that for which you could sell it. Don’t hesitate to part with something simply because you paid a lot of money for it.

Keeping items that don’t serve a purpose in your life today cost you in terms of lost productivity and sacrifice of freedom. Plus it is negative energy. It makes you MAD that you spent a lot of money for something that you are not using any more and keeping that item around is a constant reminder of that feeling.

For example many people are transitioning from the big-bulky computer monitor or TV and replacing it with a sleek, slim, and sexy flat screen monitor. Yet, they keep around those big bulky monitors because they paid a lot of money for them. One of the criteria I use with clients in helping them to decide whether or not keep something is, if it makes you feel bad or mad …

Effortless Organizing Solution #9

Set your timer for 15 minutes to organize and catalog your library of books. This may take several 15 minute sessions to complete depending on how many books you have. By breaking it down in 15 minute increments the job will not seem so overwhelming. You might plan to work on this task for 15 minutes every day until it is completed or once a week for 15 minutes. The point is to keep at it until the task is completed.

An easy way to catalog your books is to number each book. Record the number associated with the book title and book author in a word document or excel document that you can search to locate a book. For example:
#1/Get Rich Organizing/Anne Blumer, CPO
#2/Eat That Frog!/Brian Tracy

Effortless Organizing Solution #8

Set your timer for 15 minutes and organize your spice jars. Discard any spices and seasonings that have expired or you have duplicates of (toss the old/keep the new).

Return your spices to your spice drawer or cabinet in ALPHABETICAL order making access of your spices a snap.

Effortless Organizing Solution #7

Set your timer for 15 minutes and go through your medicine cabinet clearing out all expired medications, make-up, lotions, and potions. While you are at it, toss away any products you know you will not use.

With what is left group by category; medication, make-up, tooth care, and lotions and return to the cabinet in a designate spot.

For example; medications on the top shelf, make-up on the next shelf down, tooth care on the next shelf, and lotions on the last shelf.

This will help you find what you need when you need it.

Effortless Organizing Solution #6

Clear Out Your E-mail Inbox! Spend 15 minutes clearing out as many e-mails from your inbox as you can. Don't spend this time replying to e-mails. Focus on deleting e-mails you no longer need.

Create three sub-folders within your "inbox" folder; Reply, Follow-up, and Action.

As you come across e-mails that you need to reply to, move those to a "reply" folder.

As you come across e-mails that you need to follow-up on, move those to a "follow-up" folder.

Those e-mails requiring action, move to an "action" folder.

Delete, reply, follow-up, and action are your e-mail filters as you receive new messages.

Follow these steps and your e-mail in-box should remain "empty" at the end of each viewing.

Effortless Organizing Solution #5

Write Your To-Do's for the Upcoming Week!
It's a proven fact, what you write down gets done. Take 15 minutes to write down on a piece of paper your to-do's for the upcoming week. 

Don't stop here. Now schedule when (day/time) you will do each of your "to-do's". This step will insure you complete everything on your to-do list, otherwise it is likely to remain on an uncompleted list.

Effortless Organizing Solution #4

Catch Up With Family and Friends!
Stay close to the ones you love by setting aside a half hour on a Saturday afternoon to talk and catch up with friends and family. Whether it's a call to your parents or an e-mail to a close friend, every gesture will be appreciated without taking up the whole day. Make this a habit and repeat every Saturday or the first Saturday of each month. You'll feel more connected to those who matter the most to you.

Effortless Organizing Solution #3

Send Your Spouse On Your Errands. Delegating is the essential ingredient to getting it all done! Stop doing it all yourself!! Find the tasks on your to do list that can easily be accomplished by someone else; delegate those tasks and watch your list dwindle!

Effortless Organizing Solution #2

Keep Your Shoes Tidy in Your Closet! Tackle that pile of shoes by getting a sturdy shoe rack and organize your shoes by type: heels, boots, athletic shoes, flip flops, flats, and special occasion.

If you still don't have enough room after you've culled your collection, place your flat casual shoes like flip flops in this great flip flop holder available from The Container Store.

Put gently worn shoes that you no longer wear in a bag to be donated. Put the bag with shoes to be donated in your car so you can drop them off when you're out on your next errand.

Effortless Organizing Solution #1

Clear the Clutter Out of Your Car--empty water bottles, tissues, receipts, food wrappers, etc. Trash piles up in the car.

Set your timer for 15 minutes. Grab a trash bag and sift through the clutter in your car, throwing away garbage or junk.

Then arrange the glove compartment, console compartment, and seat back pockets to contain only necessary items (including a car trash bag!)

Effortless Organizing Solutions

Organizing doesn't have to involve hours or days. Sometimes just doing a little each day will make a bigger impact over time. And, you will create a new habit which is what is missing in your life--the organizing habit.

Pick one thing to do right now - yes, right now! Set your timer for 15 minutes and do just one small thing every day. You’re going to feel great about your home and office.

Need help? For the month of July I will blog each day one 15 minute organizing activity to inspire you to create this new habit.

Ready, set, go!!

Improving My Services for You!

I'm very excited about what I have been working on to improve my services for both my organizing clients and my training participants. Here's a recap:

My book, Get Rich Organizing: A Professional Organizers Survival Guide to Launch, Manage, and Grow a Profitable Business is in the final stages of publishing. Planned release date is early July 2009 and will be available at Amazon and my web sites. Read a sample.

To better meet the needs of my business clients, I am training to become a certified GO System Consultant to provide practical ideas on improving workplace productivity. Call 503-246-0710 and schedule a three-hour productivity session in July and receive a free GO System.

A little fun for my female clients, I will soon be a certified Holobi Personal Stylist and can assess your clothing needs, fashion style, best colors and body's unique proportions. All together, this gives you a roadmap to your brilliance.

What-to-Wear Seminars will be offered soon. This fun and…

How do you track and complete tasks?

As a matter of course I use Outlook tasks to track and complete my tasks. However, in the middle of the night that isn't convenient and it seems that is when my brain wants to dump my tasks. When I can't sleep because that little voice is telling me everything I need to remember or remember to do, I use post-it notes.

I jot down a word or more just so I remember the next morning when I look at them. Then I stick my post-it notes on top of my laptop (I use a docking station and a separate monitor). As I complete a task I remove the post-it note from the top of my laptop. If I haven't completed a note by the end of the day I transfer the task to my Outlook tasks.

But, somehow seeing the post-it notes on top of my laptop is a huge visual reminder for me and it keeps me on top of my tasks. Removing the notes from my laptop is even more satisfying than checking it off in Outlook.

When you need to do a brain dump what is your methodology?
How do you keep track of your t…

Earbud Yo-Yo Winner and Review

Monica Ricci wrote a product review on her blog awhile back about the earbud yo-yo along with a give away offer.

It was perfect timing because just before reading Monica's blog I was saying to my husband how much I hate how the iPhone earbuds get all tangled up. Takes me several minutes to untangle and by then I've worked up a good sweat. Well, I wrote a similar comment on Monica's blog and I was one of the winners! I was excited because I rarely win anything--not one of those lucky people!

The earbud yo-yo arrived last week and I've been trying it out. I agree with Monica's 'pros' about the earbud yo yo. She said, "First of all, they're small and cute! They're about an inch square and about 1/2 inch thick. They come in translucent colors, opaque colors, and decorative designs such as animal prints, a soccer ball, stars and stripes, checkered flag, camo, and tie-dye. I have the one called Swirls. The Earbud Yo-Yo is easy to use and to my absolu…

Weekly Menu

Tuesday - Baby Back Ribs; Coleslaw; Buttery Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday - Roasted Chicken; Green Beans and Almonds; CousCous

Thursday - Chicken Ceasar Salad; Garlic Bread

Friday - Pasta with Peas, Shallots and Herbs (pesto)

Saturday - Halibut with Sugar Snap Pea Salad

Sunday - Flank Steak with Summar Squash and Pine Nuts

Monday - Curry Chicken; Rice; Asparagus

Let the Pros Handle It - Kiplinger's Report

Picked up this tidbit of information from the NAPO member online chat and thought I would share it:

Professional Organizers and NAPO got a nice little plug in the June issue of Kiplinger's "Simplify Your Life" article. Here's the quote from "Let the Pros Handle It:"

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER. Tame your pack-rat tendencies, maximize your closet space, help prepare boxes for a move or set up a system for filing paperwork. Cost: $40 to $200 per hour, or by flat fee per project.

There's an abbreviated version of the article online at

Happy Mother's Day!

Here are the lyrics to the crazy new video Total Momsense and listen/view her singing it here:

Get up now
Get up now
Get up out of bed
Wash your face
Brush your teeth
Comb your sleepy head
Here's your clothes
And your shoes
Hear the words I said
Get up now
Get up and make your bed
Are you hot?
Are you cold?
Are you wearing that?
Where's your books and your lunch and your homework at?
Grab your coat and your gloves and your scarf and hat
Don't forget you got to feed the cat
Eat your breakfast
The experts tell us it's the most important meal of all
Take your vitamins so you will grow up one day to be big and tall
Please remember the orthodontist will be seeing you at three today?
Don't forget your piano lesson is this afternoon
So you must play
Don't shovel
Chew slowly
But hurry
The bus is here
Be careful
Come back here
Did you wash behind your ears?
Play outside
Don't play rough
Would you just play fair?
Be polite
Make a friend
Don't forget to share

Weekly Menu

This week I am making use of a family size package of chicken breasts and chicken thighs that I got on sale.

Tuesday: Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli with Rice Noodles

Wednesday: BBQ Shredded Chicken and Onions Wrap with Coleslaw

Thursday: Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas with Green Salad

Friday: Pasta with Chicken and Alfredo Sauce and Broccoli

Saturday: Asparagus Frittata with Green Salad

Sunday: Beef Roast with Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus with Almonds

Monday: My daughter's Gotcha Day - her choice but she hasn't told me yet.

*What's a Gotcha Day? The day she came home (adopted).

Interview by Susan Creel with Anne Blumer

Success Driven Woman Interview Series Presents:
Anne Blumer, Professional Organizer
Owner and Founder of SolutionsForYou, Inc.

May 13, 2009 12:00-1:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)

Registration Cost: FREE

Sign up now to learn:

•Anne's story and how she became such a success!
•Which obstacles she encountered and how she overcame them.
•Tips on getting organized in your own home/office.
•How to get started on a project and how to KEEP it organized!
•Much, much more!

There will also be time for a Q&A session at the end. Get your questions ready!

SPECIAL BONUS: Anne will be giving away TWO File Solutions Home Filing Systems!! ($32.95 each value!)

10 Ways Getting Organized Makes/Saves You Money

1. Ditch your storage unit. If you are paying $50 month, that's $600a year savings or $3,000 in five years! Invest the $50 and make money.

2. Sell your clutter or items in the storage unit on Craig's list or e-bay.

3. Don't want to spend time with Craig's list or e-bay? Donate the items and take a tax deduction next year.

4. Meal planning will save you money because you buy only what you will use based on the meals you have planned. No more running to the store for a missing ingredient will save you money on gas.

5. For one month eat from your pantry and freezer. Buy only perishable items you need. Maybe you will eat the food you have before it expires too!

6. Unearth gifts you have bought for people and contain them in one area (shelves in a closet, drawers in a dresser, or a large container). Create a gift center and store cards, gift wrap, and gifts all in one space where you can find them. Doing this may mean you don't need to go gift shopping this year because you …

Weekly Menu

Someone mentioned to me that my meals are "fancy". I replied that I have a few gourmets to cook for! This week Safeway had a great meal combo coupon offering for a spaghetti dinner, taco dinner, and hamburgers. This week it is back to simple, easy, and cheap dinners!

Tuesday - Grilled Shrimp, Peanutty Soba Noodles, and Edamame

Wednesday - Hamburgers with Cheese, Avocado, and Bacon

Thursday - Beef Tacos

Friday - Pasta with Meat Sauce, Green Salad, and French Bread

Saturday - Take-out Sushi

Sunday - Roasted Chicken, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Green Peas

Monday - Chicken Tacos

I'll be at conference after this, so the family gets to eat all the unhealthy food they want! Check back on May 5th for new menu plan.

Product Review

I mentioned in a previous blog that I am determined to cut my grocery bill in half. So far I am averaging 56% weekly savings! Coupon clipping, buying items on sale, and redeeming store dollars off coupons really adds up fast! I am saving more than I'm spending!! I heard about the Couponizer recently and ordered one--can't wait to receive it. Here are the components of The Couponizer® System:

The Couponizer™ - wire bound booklet
Your Guide to Smart Savings
CoupStacker - presorting mat
Shopping List
CoupTracker - record monthly savings
Carrying Bag

To learn more and to order one (only $19.95!) click here.

Weekly Menu

Tuesday - Lamb Pitas with Tomato, Scallions and Mint Yogurt Dressing

Wednesday - Turkey Meatloaf, garlic mashed potatoes, and peas


Friday - Farfalle, Pesto, and Asparagus

SaturdayGreek Orzo and Grilled Shrimp Salad with Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette

Sunday – Herb Crusted Salmon Filets (Ikea), Asparagus and Sliced Almonds, Whole Wheat CousCous

Monday Beef Roast with Root Vegetables

F*R*E*E Teleclasses You Don't Want to Miss!

Ready to make some long needed changes, but aren't sure how?

Join Professional Success and Wellness Coach, Susan Creal for these F*R*E*E, teleclasses and finally overcome your negative beliefs you have and be free and open for an organized, successful life.

How to create an organized, successful mindset and eliminate those negative, self-defeating beliefs for good!
April 21, 2009 8:00-9:00 p.m ET

How to gain back control, clarity and organization in your business and life.
May 12, 2009 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET

About the Coach:
Susan Creal is known as a Success and Wellness Coach for Women Entrepreneurs because she knows first-hand how to overcome obstacles both personal and professional with using specific tools and techniques she uses in her own life and the hundreds of women she has coached over the years. She is the founder of Success Driven Woman, LLC, a company supporting women entrepreneurs and sales professionals in creating lasting change, a success mindset and unstoppable self-…

Weekly Menu

I have shifted my weekly menu post to TUESDAY so I can plan my meals around the weekly grocery specials.

Monday – Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Cucumber/Tomato Salad

Tuesday - Beef and Bean Enchiladas with a Green Salad

Wednesday - Chicken and Barley Soup

Thursday – French Toast and Bacon

Friday - Creamy Macaroni and Cheese with Steamed Broccoli Crowns

Saturday – Balsamic Roast Pork Tenderloins with CousCous and Roasted Asparagus

Sunday – Leg of Lamb with Orzo; Minted Peas; Cucumber Yogurt Salad

Monday – Pork Fried Rice and Potstickers

Organizing Inspiration - How to Cut Your Grocery Bill

I'm determined to cut down our grocery bill. I have done a lot of research and learned a few new tricks. Here are my grocery bill cutting tips:

1. Clip coupons, but don't use them right away.

2. The coupons you clip in today's paper will be on sale in 4-6 weeks. Use them then for huge savings. Sale price + coupon.

3. Buy items when they are on sale--even if you don't need them right now, but you know they are items you will consume--stock up.

4. Shop at stores that offer double coupons--although I haven't found one in Portland yet.

5. Shop at warehouse stores such as WinCo for huge savings--especially buying their generic brand vs. name brand. I have saved as much as $1 per item by purchasing generic over brand. When it comes to canned water chestnuts I can't taste the difference between generic and brand--so why spend the extra $1?

6. Keep a grocery price book of the items you buy regularly. Note the regular price and sale prices so you know when to buy at the lowes…

Why should you get organized?

Check out the following organizing statistics - courtesy of - they will knock your socks off!

80% of what we keep we never use.

23% of adults say they pay bills late (& thus incur fees) because they lose them.

An enterprise employing 1,000 knowledge workers wastes $48,000 per week, or nearly $2.5M per year, due to an inability to locate and retrieve information.

The document for a Boeing 747 weighs more than the plane itself.

We wear 20% of the clothes we own 80% of the time. The rest hangs there, just in case.

IKEA did a survey of customers in which 31% reported they were more satisfied after clearing out their closets than they were after sex.

Did you know...80% of what we file never gets looked at again!

Job stress is estimated to cost U.S. industry between $200 and $300 BILLION annually.

Are 18,000 sheets enough? Your four-drawer file cabinet, when full, holds 18,000 pages.

Getting rid of clutter eliminates 40% of housework in an average home.

80% of the clutter in homes …

Why do you do what you do?

I’m always curious how and why people are doing what they do. I recently met with my best friend growing up and she said her sister-in-law told her that you do what you do based on your first memory. She asked me what my first memory is. My first memory is I was three years old and I was in our home that was being built at the time and the tile layer, Hal, was laying tile in the front hall. I had a bag of jelly beans and it broke spilling all of the jelly beans on the floor. The tile layer started eating all of the black [licorice] jelly beans—my favorites. I remember screaming, "stop eating my jelly beans." Now, what that has to do with teaching others how to become organized or how to run a Professional Organizer business I’m not sure—other than maybe I should have had a better container for my jelly beans!

What is your first memory and how does it connect with what you do?

P.S. Licorice is my favorite candy.

Next, find out how and why I became a Professional Organiz…

Weekly Menu

I have a family size package (8) of porkchops and of chicken breasts that I bought super cheap and froze. Time to thaw and enjoy!

Monday - Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Rice

Tuesday - Pork Chops with Orange Soy Glaze and Udon Noodles

Wednesday - Chicken Pot Pie

Thursday - Pork Chops with Mushroom Cream and Hazelnuts, Roasted Blooming Onion with Ranch Dip and Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Friday - Simple Pasta and Green Salad

Kids are away for Spring Break--that means lots of seafood on the menu next week because they don't like it, but I love it!

Saturday - Thai Red Curry Mussels and Soba Noodles

Sunday - Garlic Basil Shrimp

Organizing Your Craft Materials with WOW Factor

Tip: Sort your craft materials by color and place in clear jars and containers, such as those pictured here.

Ribbons were sorted by color, removed from their spools, and placed in large glass jars. Embellishments of various types were also sorted by color and placed in smaller glass jars and clear drawers.

Materials are not only organized and easily accessible, but also add a punch of color and WOW factor to the crafter's room.

Product of the Week-Doorknob Forget-Me-Not Organizers

I was planning to blog about this very product this week and Erin Doland beat me to it! I wish this product existed when I was growing up. I remember every morning my mother and father heading out the door and always, always, always searching for something--keys, wallet, book--you name it they couldn't find it! Now you know why I'm a professional organizer--survival!

If you struggle with remembering everything you need to take with you out the door each day, this is the product for you!

Effortless Organizing Solution – 5 Tips to an Organized Closet

Tip #1 - Take everything out of your closet so you have a clean slate. Consider installing a new closet system if yours is not functioning well (add double hanging rods or a system with adjustable shelves and rods). Paint the closet.

Tip #2 - If you haven't worn it in the last year or it doesn't fit, it’s time to let go of it. Make a game of it, for every two items you keep—let one go. This will reduce your wardrobe by one-third.

Tip #3 - We’re all trying to save money or find ways to make money. Instead of donating everything you are letting go of, consider taking your discards to a consignment shop. A fun idea is to have a “naked ladies” party—clothes swap with your girlfriends.

Tip #4 – After you have downsized your wardrobe, put your clothing back in your closet. Create an area or zone for each clothing type (shirts/blouses, pants, skirts, jackets) and then sort each zone (clothing type) by color. Then you will know where to put your clothing away.

Tip #5 - When you buy…

Organizing Habit #29

Pick a problem room and identify the “pinch point” – The pinch point is the one thing that prevents everything from running smoothly when it is not in order. So, if the laundry room is your problem area, look for the source of the problem (one big pile, no detergent, etc.) and tend to that first.

See it. Fix it! If the pinch point in your laundry room is clothing buildup because you’re out of detergent, then keep your soap out where you can see it. I keep my laundry soap in a glass cookie jar on top of my washing machine. Visual reminders help keep your necessary tasks top of mind, so they’ll be fixed faster.

Once you eliminate the pinch point, you’ll be amazed how quickly everything else falls into place.

Product of the Week

Tote Baskets – I love these tote baskets. I use them primarily in kitchen pantries and cabinets or bathroom cabinets to store and organize items that I don’t want to see and I want to be able to grab easily.

In the kitchen I use the large tote baskets to store and organize bags of snack chips, packages of pasta, rice, grains, hot cereals, baking products (flour, sugars), and root vegetables. I use the small tote baskets for snacks, teas, baking products (sprinkles, flavorings, cupcake liners, etc.), seasoning packets, and beverage packets to add to water.

In the bathroom, I use the large tote baskets to store cleaning supplies, tall bottles of shampoo, liquid soaps, and hair products. I use the small tote baskets to store makeup, bar soap, first aid items and medicines.

Each tote has a specific purpose of what it is storing and labeled accordingly.

Are You a Right-Brained or Left-Brained Thinker

This past weekend I devoured the book 4 Weeks to an Organized Life with AD/HD by Jeffrey Freed and Joan Shapiro. It hooked me in right away because it is the first book, of many, that I have read about AD/HD and organizing that explained AD/HD individuals are visual thinkers and that is a gift that left-brained thinkers do not have--or at least not as intense as right-brained thinkers and individuals with AD/HD.

The authors define right-brained thinkers and left-brained thinkers as follows:
"Right-brained thinkers are rapid-fire, nonsequential, visual thinkers. If you are right-brained thinker, you see things from many angles, often at the same time. You are a holistic, big-picture thinker, who needs to know why you are learning something before you can absorb it. You are a dreamer, and you tend to be distracted easily in your own endlessly changing internal world, as well as by the external world.

Left-brained thinkers are more sequential and linear in their thinking, learning …

Weekly Menus February 23-March 1

Monday-Thursday – I’m making it easy on myself this week and following Robin Miller’s Quick Fix Meals, four of them with Puttanesca Sauce as the base including
Pasta Puttanesca
Puttanesca Chutney over Chicken with Potatoes and Broccoli
Crabmeat Salad in Halved Honedew Melons
Tomato Soup with Bacon-Cheese Melts

Friday Mac and Cheese with Spinach

Saturday Chicken Pot Pie

Sunday - Sun-dried Tomato Pesto-Stuffed Pork

Storables 25% Sale

I didn't want you to miss out on this information. Storables is having a 25% off EVERYTHING REGULARLY PRICED in their store until March 2nd (see details below)!

If you have been waiting to buy some products to help you with your organizing pursuits, now is a great time to get them!

Weekly Menu February 16-22

Monday - French Onion Soup and Roast Beef Sandwiches (use Saturday's leftover beef tenderloin)

Tuesday - Roasted Vegetable Stew with CousCous

Wednesday - Chicken Curry--roast extra for Friday's dinner (uses Tuesday's leftover roasted vegetable stew)

Thursday - Arugula-caramelized-onion-and-goat-cheese-pizza and Hawaiian-pizza

Friday - Creamy-fusilli-with-mushrooms-and-chicken (uses Wednesday's extra roasted chicken breasts)



Effortless Organizing Solution

Are you hand writing a grocery list every time you shop? Do you zig-zag through the grocery store because you are following your list and not shopping aisle by aisle in a straight forward route? If you are, you may be organized (you make a list and you bring it with you), but you’re not effortlessly organized.

To make your grocery list and shopping activities effortless, create a handwritten or typed list of all the items you typically purchase at your grocery store in the order your grocery store is laid out, i.e. aisle 1, 2, 3, etc. Make several copies for future use.

This makes these tasks effortless because you will have a pre-printed list and it will be in a logical order. Both make it easier for you to shop. If you send someone to shop for you, you are making the task truly effortless!

Product of the Week

The elfa Mesh Gift Wrap Cart is a mobile gift packaging organizer for wrap, totes, tissue, ribbon and accessories. The design begins with a White elfa Medium 7-Runner Frame. Within the frame there are three Medium 1-Runner Drawers and two Medium 2-Runner Drawers. A Melamine Top provides the perfect work surface. Clipped to the exterior are Gift Wrap Organizer Accessories. A Ribbon Dispenser is a horizontal bar with screw-on finial for storing and dispensing ribbon on spools. Organize rolled wrap vertically with a Gift Wrap Organizer & Accessory Basket.

Organizing Inspiration

A quote from Peter Walsh, Clean Sweep host:
Organization is not something you do, it’s the way you live your life. It is not about simply cleaning up, it is about making mindful decisions about your life.”

Organizing Habit #28

Are you constantly forgetting birthdays and anniversaries? Now is the time to sit down and enter these special dates into one calendar that will keep track of these dates every year in the future. Make it a habit to consult your calendar monthly and weekly to give yourself plenty of time to find a card or a gift. Also check out or for free reminders of important dates.

Effortless Organizing Solution

I believe that most people don’t attempt to get organized because they think will take too much effort. I don’t believe organizing requires a lot of effort. In this regular blog, I will share my effortless solutions with you.

Do any of these statistics sound familiar:
51% of women cling to clothing they haven’t worn in three or more years.
64% find the stuff they no longer wear hard to get rid of because they might need it someday.
60% hold on to clothes that don’t fit anymore because they might lose or gain back the weight.
58% have clothes hanging in their closets with the tags still on them.
50% know they have too many shoes, boots, or handbags but cannot part with them.
54% complain that shoes, boots, and handbags are the hardest to store.
32% have too many T-shirts.
33% admit that their closets are bulging.
18% are actually embarrassed by their closets.

Is your closet jammed full? Does the thought of cleaning it out overwhelm you? You are probably making the project bigger than it needs…

Organizing Habit #27

If you are an information junkie this tip is for you. Most likely you are surrounded by stacks of unread magazines and books, piles of articles and information you printed from the internet, and more piles of magazine and newspaper clipping of recipes and pictures of ideas. Sound familiar? If it does then Organizing Habit #27 - Weedall information older than a certain cutoff date that you determine - is for you!

Your level of comfort might be for any unread paper information older than 3 months it can be recycled. For others it might be anything older than one year. BE REALISTIC. Accept the fact that you cannot ever possibly digest it all. Just as you can only comfortably eat until you're full, there is only so much information one can consume before you run out of time and capacity. Ask yourself, “How much can you possibly read before new information is added to your current accumulation?”

Whatever your comfort level is; set it and stick to it. Begin by weeding what you c…

Organizing Inspiration

I recently received an e-mail from a client requesting suggestions in figuring out what to do with items that are passed down through families and how to preserve that connection without having to keep everything from Aunt Mabel etc.

My suggestion is if you don’t love it and you are not using it, or it is just taking up too much valuable space then it’s time to let go of it. To preserve the connection, take pictures of the items and place the pictures in a journal where you can write about where and who it came from and how it came to you. That way, the memory will be preserved for future generations and you can regain some valuable space for the items you do use and love.

AM Northwest Debut

Last week I experienced my AM Northwest TV debut launching a series of segments on Solutions for Your Organizing Resolutions. I was a tad bit nervous because I have never been on TV, except for a brief stint on the Heck Harper Show when I was six years old.

Guests of AM Northwest wait nervously in what is called the “green room”. I was fortunate to have a very fun co-guest to chat with and take my nervousness down several notches, her name is Jill Keto and she is the author of Don’t Get Caught With Your Skirt Down a Practical Girl’s Recession Guide. Jill has a different perspective on our economic outlook and offers alternative investment choices to what the traditionalists are espousing. If you want a new and fresh perspective, check out Jill’s segment on AM NW , definitely take more than a glance at her book , and for ongoing economic information follow her blog.

Organizing Habit #26

Place an errand basket by the door. Fill it with books to return, dry cleaning to drop off, items to return to stores, etc. Before you head out the door each day look through your errand basket and think about what errands you could make en route to work, dropping kids at school, or to an appointment. Grab those items as you leave for your day.

Weekly Menu