Archive for the ‘solutions’ Category

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Reading, Writing, and … Organization?

July 14, 2014
It’s hard to believe that, in just a few weeks, it will be back-to-school time! I personally have a few years more to observe this season of life. Mymessykids son is headed to his freshman year at Texas Tech, and my daughter is entering Texas Christian University with the anticipation of having her Master’s Degree in Social Work in one year!

Some of you are in the same season of parenthood as I am, or your children may just be entering Kindergarten. Learning to be organized in school will not only aid in their academic success, but will establish skills that will help them succeed in life. Here are some tips to help them survive the educational world:

For elementary age:
  • Establish a routine for when your child first gets home. Review their backpack contents with them. This gives you the opportunity to talk about their day, as well as helps insure assignments are completed timely. Be sure to check for notices about important school dates and note them on the family calendar!
  • In the evening:
    • Have your child pick out their clothes for the next day. This will save on some of the morning stress!
    • Check to make sure their backpack contains any necessary papers due.
    • Packing lunch is a task that can be completed the night before, many times by the child themselves.

For middle school/high school age:

  • SUBJECTS: Keep assignments and class information together in binders with tabs, separate spiral notebooks, or folders that are organized by subject. One suggestion is to take notes in one notebook and rewrite them into separate class binders at the end of each day. While it takes more time, this allows the student to read, write, and summarize all that was important during the school day. The more material is reviewed, the more likely it is to be retained knowledge.
  • SCHEDULE: Have a planner! Many schools these days realize the benefits of being organized and provide planners to the students. Encourage your child to note due dates in their planner for homework, projects, permission slips, etc. Be sure they include the non-academic deadlines such as team practices, drama rehearsals, etc. Using a planner is a great way for them to learn time management as well as goal setting.
  • SPACE: Kids need adequate study space that is clean, orderly, and quiet. (Try to avoid places that are the center of activity.) It’s best to study at a table or desk withstudying a comfortable, supportive chair, and enough light to avoid eye strain. The room should be comfortable. Concentration is difficult if the room is too hot or cold, or there is a parrot throwing sunflower shells from its cage!
  • MATERIALS: Have resources available such as supplies, notes, research aides, and/or a computer. Having all of these in one location eliminates the distraction of stopping to find the stapler or dictionary.
  • FOCUS: Research shows that, when people do many things simultaneously, they do a worse job on all of them than if they’d focused on one thing at a time. This doesn’t mean you need total silence to study. Listening to music can actually help some people concentrate–especially if they have to study in a noisy environment.
  • REFRESH: A 15-minute break after 45 minutes of studying can help a mind stay fresh and focused. Exercise is a great way to clear your head and allow the mind to absorb what’s just been studied. Your child can take Fido for a walk around the block or do some stretches, grab an apple, etc. It’s a good habit for them to set a timer for the break to ensure they get back to their studies when 15 minutes are up.
  • FREE TIME: Most children today use a computer for research or to type papers. It’s hard to avoid temptations like social media. Have them schedule separate “free computer time” so they can focus on school work knowing they will not completely miss out on those activities.
  • PLAN AHEAD: In the evening, your child should be sure to pack everything needed for class the next day–especially assignments due.
Forcollegedirection College students:
This section is written directly to the college student. Print it and give it to them or provide them with the link to this post.

College is not only about learning your major, but about learning how to organize your life in order to succeed. Here are some tips to help you accomplish this:

  • Your Planner is Your Best Friend! Whether it is school-provided or self purchased, your planner is going to be key to getting organized. With multiple classes, it can be difficult to keep track of due dates and tests. Each class typically has a syllabus that provides you with valuable information for that class. Use different-colored markers or pens to write down when chapters need to be read, papers are due, tests are given, and any important days off. (Be sure you pay attention to any subsequent changes from your professors.) When you learn of an upcoming test or event, immediately jot it in your planner–don’t wait for later. Always have your planner with you and keep it somewhere you can see it so you remember to check it regularly.
  • Color Coding. Just like using the different colored pens or markers for your planner, having different colored folders or binder for each class is an easy way to get organized.
  • USB Power! On the USB, make one folder for every class to store any class assignments, as well as any downloads that you are expected to have.
  • Cell Phone Magic! Most cell phones today have a reminder or calendar feature. If you need to remember a certain event, even if you think you’ll remember on your own, set the phone to remind you ahead of time.
  • Schedule Study Time. The old saying is true that “all work and no play make one a dull person.” (Ok, it’s altered some.) Finding a balance to work and play is especially difficult in college. To stay organized, you need to set aside a certain amount of time to study, ideally at the same time every day. Be sure to take short breaks every hour (set a timer!). Try to set your study time for when you are well rested. If you’re really tired, you are most likely not going to retain any information. If you can’t avoid having to study when you’re tired, be sure to have brain-power food on hand. Apples are an excellent choice, as are protein bars, and peppermint is known to increase alertness.
  • Keep Stocked! A key to being organized is to have things available when you need them. Keep the basics in your backpack: pens, pencils, erasers, highlighters, and post-its for example.library
  • Avoid Procrastination! Just because a paper is not due for a while doesn’t mean you should wait to complete it. If you get things done early, you have time to review and your life will be much more organized and simple. Bonus, you won’t stress over it when everyone else is downing multiple energy drinks at 3:00 am wishing they had followed this tip!
  • Professors Are There For You. Having good relationships with professors is really important. Arrive to class on time and participate in discussions. If you are having trouble in a course, schedule time with the professor. The more you interact with your professor, the better chance they will help you when needed, and they’ll be more inclined to provide a good recommendation when requested.
  • Take Care Of You! This is the secret key to being organized. It is imperative to get adequate sleep, eat healthy, and exercise. You can’t be organized if you don’t have the physical, emotional, and mental energy to function.

Using these tips will help you survive college with a lot less stress, and a lot more peace!

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Home Office 101

March 25, 2014

Home Office 101.

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The Cart Can’t Pull The Horse!

August 3, 2013

One of the firm beliefs of Organized Chaos is that you do NOT buy products to solve clutter problems until after you know exactly how much of something you have to store.  Buying a new container because it’s “cute and can surely be used for something” is like throwing gasoline on a campfire.  That cute container has now just become part of your clutter problem instead of the solution!

Gift Wrap Closet–Before

This belief was reinforced during one of this week’s projects for a whole-home organization.  Our client had purchased an Elfa system from The Container Store for gift wrap, but then did not follow through with setting it up to be a storage solution; thus, it had become part of the clutter.

Gift Wrap Closet--After

Gift Wrap Closet–After

After emptying the entire closet contents, grouping like things together, and adding a few missing components (a drawer organizer, melamine tops, label holders, and labels), this closet is a gift-wrappers dream!  We were also able to use some bins that had been emptied in other rooms for storage solutions.  Now, in this gift wrap closet, everything has its place, and there’s a place for everything.

If your space has more problems than solutions, click here to schedule a complimentary needs assessment.  We look forward to organizing your chaos!

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Lucy… you have some ‘splainin’ to do….

May 30, 2013

If you’ve ever looked into hiring a Professional Organizer, you may have noticed that many of them recommend working in three- or four-hour increments. If you follow us here or on our Facebook page, you may have seen tips instructing you to set a timer for 15, 20, or 30 minutes to tackle some of your clutter. We can hear you now, “Wait a minute! Three or four hours for the professionals but only 15 minutes for me? Please explain!”

There are a few factors that explain the time recommendations and why they are different:

  1. When you are faced with an overwhelming amount of clutter to tackle on your own, it is recommended that you set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes to focus on a portion of the clutter regularly, either each day or week… whatever is going to work for you. The smaller amount of time is recommended so that the task doesn’t seem so impossible. If it was recommended that you schedule four hours per week to catch up on filing paperwork or clearing out the master closet, you may decide (and possibly already have) to keep living with the clutter longer instead.
  2. When you invest in a Professional Organizer, you’re not only investing in their time, you’re investing in their expertise and skill. There is preparation time put into each appointment. It’s a better investment in their time if you have their help for a “chunk” versus one or two hours. It’s also a better use of their time if they prepare for a four-hour job than if they prepare for two separate two-hour jobs. And of course it saves on their fuel cost for traveling to your location.
  3. By selecting a Professional Organizer who specializes in your organization challenge, i.e. garages or paperwork, the value of those three- or four-hour sessions increases exponentially as they are able to do so much more in less time.
  4. A byproduct of investing in a Professional Organizer is that you also acquire organization skills through the process.

Of course, no matter how much time you devote to getting organized, it’s better than none at all. So if that kitchen counter is driving you crazy because it’s covered in clutter, set a timer now for 20 minutes and do what you can. Or, if you’re ready to not only get the clutter off of your counter but also get your kitchen organized to avoid the clutter in the future, call us. As always, we look forward to organizing your chaos!

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We’re putting what where?

November 7, 2011

Have you ever used something for a completely different use than intended?  This picture was taken on a day we were organizing during a warmer time in the south.  The plasticware was definitely a different yet effective way to keep my hair off my neck.

Thinking outside the box greatly contributes to finding organizing solutions.  I always tell my clients before we begin helping them, “Do NOT purchase any products for storage or solutions.  You never know what we will find that will fulfill the purpose.”

We love taking something and using it for a new purpose.  One of my favorite solutions for a client was for her files.  Using a table as her desk space left her with no drawers for her files.  We needed a filing cabinet.  However since the office shared space with a daybed in a guest bedroom, adding a steel cabinet would not be visually appealing, and a wood one would cost more than we wanted to spend.  Enter a toy chest that the client’s grandfather built for her when she was younger.  You read that right … a toy chest.  You can see it in the bottom right corner of the above picture.

By simply setting a file frame inside of it, we were able to convert the toy chest, without any physical alteration of the chest itself, to a great storage space for the client’s files.  The finished product is shown at the right.

Another great piece to use for thinking outside the box is the armoire.  A business client was storing various items including office supplies in her office armoire.  However, using it to house office supplies just wasn’t working well for her.  The supplies and other items had become a messy pile in the bottom of the armoire.  By adding a small piece we found at a hobby store, we were able to make this armoire store office supplies and then some!

Since this client did not use her printer often, the armoire being used to hide her printer was an added bonus for her.

But what about the armoire that you’re keeping (and dusting) only because it belonged to your great uncle Roy?  Don’t give up on its usefulness just yet!

A home-organization client had a gorgeous trio of armoires that she was using to store excess bed linens and pillows.  However, an extreme amount of space was left vacant rendering it ineffective.  We added 2 sets of quick-assembly shelves purchased at Wal-Mart for $15/set.  We also used the same type of shelving intended to hold shoes, but again, for a different purpose.  These inexpensive additions provided us with the ability to break up the massive interior space in the armoires and use them to house the client’s handbags, purses, and large tote bags.  Here’s a close up of the result:

The moral of the story?  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.  Your solutions for getting organized just might be right under your nose.  If you don’t think so, give us a call.  We’d love to help!

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