A Time Management Mug?

March 13, 2009

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Flipping through my favorite magazine Real Simple, I found something that was new and different that can help with Time Management.  Yes, a reminder mug!

Before you say…now I have seen everything, let me tell you why I like it.

  • A time management and efficiency expert friend once gave me a stone.  I was instructed to keep it on my desk.  When I see it, it triggers in me “what am I supposed to be working on…what is the priority?”  It helps me stay on track when I stray.
  • #1 rule in time management is to do the most important, most time sensitive or most difficult item on your to do list FIRST.  Grab your coffee or tea in the AM?  Then put the MOST IMPORTANT to do on there as a reminder.  Go for a second cup or to wash it out and you have not done it yet, time to go back to your desk and get going!
  • I like to sip all day…having this on my desk will be fun and I will get more done!

One of the other rules of time management is to only keep 1 calendar, so I don’t recommend you transferring your entire calendar on here ever day.  But highlight the most important!  Check out Heliotrope Home to order on-line.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Some may say all clutter is negative, but there is clutter that is without a doubt, 100%, truly negative.  It can be physical clutter or emotional clutter.  Either way, it is time to clear it out!

Especially if you have a hard time letting go of things, start with anything that has a negative feeling, memory or experience attached to it.  For some reason we hang on to these items just like we do the positive ones.  Why?  Would we continue to eat something if it tasted bad or made us sick?  Would we continue to do activity if it hurt or harmed us? Start by removing anything that has negativity to it.  Make room for the important and positive things in your life and your space.

I’ve worked with clients who have kept medical letters of former dire circumstances.  They remember the pain all too well without the need of this piece of paper as a reminder.  Let those go.  Photos of relationships that was negative, say bu-bye.  I myself found a legal letter this week that was from a very painful experience.  I actually thought I had thrown it out years ago.  Nope, it was still there.  Was, key word.  I have released that negative energy and it is gone.

Toxic, negative people in your life?  Remove them too.  I call that “people clutter.”

Grab that trash can and start having more room for positive memories, people and energy!

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Surprised I am writing today about holiday decor?  Me too!

I spent a lot of time out and about this weekend, driving in suburbia.  It amazed me to see how many folks still had their holiday decorations up in their yard & on their houses.  I’m not talking folks who have not been able to take down lights from the roof due to safety with all the snow on the ground.

I am talking about wreaths on the door, blow up Santa deflated on the lawn, candy canes outlining the walk way.  People put so much hard work into making their homes look festive for the holidays, but they do not finish the project.  Finishing is not when you are done putting them up.  The completion of the process is taking them down and putting them away in an organized fashion.  It is the FULL process, it doesn’t stop with putting them up.

This can be translated with other projects and tasks….laundry is not done until it is fold and put away.  You get it, right?

I always joke that I want to go around with little holiday citations.  Put them on these people’s doors.  If the Easter Bunny comes and they are still up, I just might!

Happy Monday!

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Tax Tip Thursday – Week 4

February 12, 2009

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So…you have or have scheduled time to empty out the 2008 files, set up ones for 2009, sorted receipts and documentation by like category, totaled up receipts or run reports and checked for errors.  You have documented and calculated your charitable donations.  You have made an appointment with your tax professional or bought your Tax software.

Now it is time to complete your return.  Remember, I am an organizer not a CPA.   Here are some links to further help you prepare and beware.

Tax Mistakes

Tax Central From MSN Money

IRS – Frequently Asked Questions

Tax Tip Thursday will resume in a few weeks…where we will focus back on the “organization” of tax related documents, what to keep, what to shred, etc.

For now…I want to give you time to work on your taxes.  Good luck!

Got a question on how to organize for prep?  Just comment here and I’ll give you the answer!

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Organizer’s Best Friend

February 11, 2009

Yes, it is true.  A label maker is an organizer’s best friend.

Using labels help you stay organized.  They can be especially helpful with multiple users in a home or office.  That way everyone can be on the same page on where the “home” for an item is.  For playrooms and children’s rooms, it can help with reading skills.  Regular maintenance and items have a “home” are the staples of staying organized.

It is important that the label you place on something makes sense to you, what you would call something.  If the label does not make sense to you then you will not be driven by it and end up placing  items in other locations.

There are all different types of labels to help you.

The basic: Standard label maker.  You know the white strip with black letters.  This is the most universal one of them all.  Can be used on files, shelves, boxes, bins, etc.

label-makerFun: I just found these pre-made labels at The Paper Source that I love for mail, paper centers.  They have lots of other fun and decorative labels as well.

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Decorative: Mabel’s Labels is  a great site for decorative labels.  Many clients like to label jars, drawers, cabinets but the traditional style of a label maker doesn’t work.  Now there is a better option.  Various sizes and designs  available  for home products as well as children’s clothing.

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Creative: Crafty?  Make your own.  It can be fun and decorative!  I have used kid’s school pictures on ribbons tied to school paper “in boxes.”  Creative paper with fun colored binder clips.  The better you like the look, the more you will be attracted to it and use the system!

Remember — function over fashion, but if you get the functionality down, have fun with it!

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Tax Tip Thursday – Week 3

January 29, 2009

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As an organizer, I am regularly recommending that folks donate unwanted goods to charity.  Not only will it help clear the clutter and  help those in need but they can also get a tax receipt.  This week’s Tax Tip Thursday is dedicated to information on just that!  You give…You get.

When donating goods to charity, make sure the items are something that someone else would want.  They need to be in good working order.  Charities spend tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on trash disposal — items people donated that are really trash.  So if you really want to help a charity, be selective on what you donate.

The good rule of thumb for donating goods is to keep detailed record in case of an audit.  I suggest (and do for my clients) the following:

  • Document what is donated
  • Take photo of the items donated
  • Donate to an organization that is an official tax exempt charity
  • Retain a tax receipt from the charity

How do you “value” what has been donated?  There are many sources that give you fair market value.  This is a start, but then it is best to consult with your tax professional.

  • IRS info on donating goods (IRS)
  • Workbook – “Money for Your Used Clothing” (Workbook)
  • Bankrate.com valuation worksheet (Worksheet)

If you didn’t keep good records in the past, now is a great time to start.  It is easy, and worth it to all.  You benefit and so do many needy charities.

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And now a word from my lawyer….you should consult your tax professional or irs.gov for any rules and/or tax laws. Atmosphere does not represent itself as a tax professional.

I only recommend products that I really like. For closet systems I suggest either Elfa systems from The Container Store or full service closet design and installation from Brian McSharry of Closet & Storage Concepts.

Check out The Container Store’s annual January 30% off sale. http://www.containerstore.com

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Elfa is a great system. Strong and versatile enough that they’re store fixtures are from their own product lines. It is SUPER easy to install. They also have a new install service if you don’t want to fire up the power drill.

If you have wondered what the difference is between this and the similar product from Home Depot type stores? I did too, so I did a little comparison. The basic materials are the same price at all stores. The price difference come from the shelving. The Container Store shelves are almost double in price but they are much better quality. If you are doing a predominately hanging system, then this doesn’t even come into play.

But, the key advantage (and worth the extra shelf pricing in my mind) is that The Container Store is always fully stocked. You go in, you bring in your measurements, work with a designer. They give you one of those restaurant buzzers and it goes off when your order is ready. All cut EXACTLY to your measurements. All organized. In a cart and they even put it in your car!

At the other stores, they have limited sizing and you have to do all the cutting yourself and many times they don’t have full inventory. Many times I’ve tried, but I end up walking out empty handed.

But before you head out to buy a new closet system, you must go through your current closet, purge out what you do not want, and really measure and design the new space. How can you maximize space? How much short hanging do you need? How much long hanging? How many pairs of shoes do you need to store.

Need more time? It is good to plan. Atmosphere has a relationship with the Container Store allowing us to offer a 20% discount year round for projects we do.

Even if it is not time to re-design your closet, take a peak and see what can go…