Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Organizing Challenge

What's your biggest organizing challenge?

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Friday, January 25, 2013

15 Ways to be Ready for Company

Does your heart rate increase when company is coming? Here is a list of 15 ways you can keep your home--and yourself--ready for company!

Keep non-perishable snacks on hand (such as cheese sticks, 100-calorie cookies, etc.) and put them out in an attractive bowl or basket

Always have some type of commonly liked beverage on hand such as soda or coffee.

Have at least one package of brownie mix or some other dessert mix in case you want to provide a
a quick dessert. Particularly quick are the refrigerator cookies or cinnamon rolls that are easy to pull out and

Keep easy meals available, especially if kids or teens tend to come over
regularly. These include frozen pizza, mac & cheese, sandwich meat and 
fresh bread.

Keep popcorn available to make up a big batch for a spontaneous movie

Keep the "guest triangle" areas of your home clean. This usually includes the bathroom most likely to be used
by guests and the kitchen.

Keep your main entry area picked up as it is the first thing you and guests will see.

Keep doors closed on rooms that are not as likely to be "company presentable." This usually includes
bedrooms and perhaps bonus rooms. Unless you are giving a tour, you don't need to open these rooms.

Keep sanitary wipes available for quick wipe downs of counters and sinks just before guests come over.
Even small children can help with this.

Purchase a "quick vac" tool to do quick vacuuming of high traffic areas without pulling out a major vacuum

Keep candles and/or fresh scent products on hand to have lit or going when a guest is coming by.

Keep board games accessible and possibly visible so that you can encourage guests to enjoy a game with

Consider purchasing battery operated candles with timers. This can assure that a "candle" is safely lit at a
certain time every evening. Bonus: they turn off automatically. (Tip: purchase rechargeable batteries as daily
use of these candles will use up batteries ever 4-6 weeks.)

If you have a guest room, always wash sheets and re-make bed soon after a guest has left. That way the
room is ready for the next guest.

Keep a basket of travel size items in the guest room if you have frequent overnight guests.Also, treat yourself
like a guest. You and your family are the ones who live in the house. At least on occasion, bake something
just for your spouse and kids, not only when company is coming. Keep the house picked up so YOU can
enjoy it, not just to "perform" for company.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why Do I have so Much Stuff?

Recently, my husband said, "We have too much stuff." (Yes, I helped write a book on getting organized.) I think many of you may agree with that statement. So let's take a look at the "Too Much Stuff Syndrome" through a series of five questions. Getting to the core of the matter may help you begin to find ways to deal with the stuff (but I will give you a practical tip at the end.)

Questions for "Why Do I Have So Much Stuff?" (with alternative questions)

1. Do I feel deprived in my life? Do I keep this stuff as a wall of security to combat that? (Alternative question: can I begin to find more joy through my relationship with God instead?)

2. Am I feeling pressured by others to keep this stuff?
(Alternative question: Can I trim down what I keep, consolidating the special things that bring back memories but not keeping every piece of memorabilia?)

3. What overwhelms me more: having too much stuff, or not having it organized?
(Alternative question: If I could figure out a good storage system, would that alleviate my stress about this?)

4. Do I think I may need this stuff someday?
(Alternative question: Would you be able to replace it, if and when you need it, if it was lost in a fire?)

5. If all this stuff was destroyed (and someday it will be) would I fall apart emotionally?
(Alternative question: How can I begin to strengthen my emotions through rightly relating with God so that stuff does not provide the joy and comfort that should come from Him?)

This can be heady stuff, can't it? Maybe you didn't bargain for this when you started to read my blog! But what is in our heart--what we truly believe--is what affects behavior. So let these questions marinate as you consider how to handle your stuff.

And now for a practical tip:

Contain first, organize later. Pick a corner, a room, a closet that overwhelms you. Get attractive containers and sort items into them. Don't spend a lot of time doing detail organizing. You can do that later, if you really want to. For now, just contain and label larger categories of stuff. Make sure the containers are large enough to hold the items you want to keep. Then, visually, it will be more attractive, and you can still find things within their basket or container.

Example: have file folders or containers (I use small plastic drawers) for receipts for each month of the year (see photo.) I keep the drawer for the current month at my desk. After entering receipts into my checkbook software, I put them in the container for the month. (I don't file them by store or bank–just by month. I can always flip through them later if you need to retrieve something from a particular month.) Later, if I really like organizing, I could go ahead and separate them by type. (I'm pretty sure that is not going to happen!)

With the "contain first" method, you'll at least be consolidating items into a general area where you can later find them. It may take a few minutes to go through the box, but no longer than it would take to organize them precisely.

What idea do you have for handling "too much stuff?"

Monday, January 21, 2013

The All Together Separate Principle

There are lots of ways to maintain calendars and to-do lists. This idea is just one of many, and it boils down to having one calendar, but separate to-do lists.

All-together: Keep one master calendar for your personal and professional life. You may choose to use Google calendar so it can sync between various technologies (phone, laptop, desktop) or have one master printed calendar in one room of the house with a copy kept up in a day planner. (Try to keep backups somewhere.) I recommend one calendar since it will give you a bird's eye view of everyone's schedule and where plans could potentially bleed into each other. You don't have to have everyone's daily plans for every minute, but having all major family events in one place is a good idea.

I use Outlook and Google calendar to sync my calendar between my phone, home desktop, work desktop, and iPad. That keeps one calendar of what I'm up to on all the resources I happen to be near. I know the basic schedule for my son's college classes, and general schedule for hubby's work but don't choose to put them on my calendar at this point since they are pretty consistent every day. (I don't feel the need to keep track of anything deeper than that--i.e. hubby's meetings or young adult son's specific social plans...that would be a little too much micro-managing!)

Note: check settings if you are concerned about the Google calendar being public.

Separate: Keep unique task lists for home, employment, and "third space." Likely, you won't (or shouldn't be) doing employment tasks while at home, or home tasks while at the job site. So keep your task list for workplace--at the workplace. Don't allow the mental clutter of professional tasks to interfere with your life at home (as a general rule, anyway.) Keep home tasks away from the workplace so you can focus on your job when there. If you have things to do in the "third space"--which includes your vehicle and the errands you do as well as other locations where you do things such as church, coffee shops, etc., keep that ongoing list separate. A good place for this could be your phone if it has that feature, or maybe a pad you carry in your purse.

I work part-time for a financial firm in addition to running HOPE Unlimited, (which is run mostly from my house.) My task list for my firm work remains on Outlook on the desktop computer they provide. I don't sync the task list from the there with my task list at home or my phone as I would only be doing tasks while at the office. I keep a separate task list on my home computer for tasks related to home and HOPE. I keep an app or two on my phone to handle my "third space" list or make myself a note the old fashioned way, keeping it in my purse or vehicle.  When I am ready to tackle tasks, I can take out the appropriate list and focus on that.

The "All Together Separate" principle is one way to manage the mental clutter in our lives. It gives you a birds-eye view of the direction of your days while compartmentalizing the lists you will need for specific places. Write it down. Keep it "all together" or "separate" as appropriate, and keep your mind from getting quite so tired.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Great Idea from

Source: via Beth on Pinterest

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013


How are you doing on any organizing resolutions you've made?

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Friday, January 11, 2013

The Reward of Goal Setting

© 2013 Jupiterimages Corporation

Celebration is a really important thing  to do, upon successful completion of any goal.  Setting a reward gives you something pleasurable to look forward to, in addition to the fulfillment you experience upon successful completion of your goals. The great thing is that you are not required to spend tons of money to enjoy that celebration!  It can be allowing yourself, as one of my clients decided to do, just to read a book of her choosing for pleasure – without feeling guilty and without being disturbed.  It could mean a bubble bath, or a trip to your favorite park.  Whatever brings you joy is a great way to celebrate. 

It’s important to stop at the completion of a goal to celebrate all that has been accomplished, and all that God has shown you during the journey to that point.  In fact, you can see it as an act of worship by showing gratitude for His continued presence with you along the way, and for Him giving you the direction, the energy, and all of the other necessary tools to compete the journey. It’s a time of reflection, possible recalibration, and gratitude.  It’s also a time to examine lessons learned on both the positive experiences and in the areas involving challenge.

Celebrating a victory here is not just about bringing joy to you, alone, though.  Your victory celebrations are for others, as well.  When you celebrate your victories publicly, you give hope to others who are trying to reach their goals as well.  You become living proof that it is possible to accomplish goals.  Your celebration might be the very thing that God uses to encourage others to begin their journey on the path He’s placed before them.  What a privilege to be used by God in that way.

Stephanie Baker

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Getting Organized Inspires a Celebration!

Image: Â© 2012 Jupiterimages Corporation
Read: Leviticus 23:33-44

If you've traveled through our entire book either on your own or with a group, or simply have read the weekly blog posts, we hope you've seen some positive changes in your attitude and in your home. We hope you are making progress and not worrying about perfection. We hope you are facing and headed in the right direction. It's time to celebrate!

In the above passage, God gives instructions for celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles. We go into more detail in our book, but in essence this celebration helped the Israelites remember their journey through the wilderness.

You may be feeling like you've traveled through a wilderness of disorganization and confusion in your home. Hopefully, one or two small changes, conversations or commitments have been made. If so, I invite you to treat yourself in some small way this week.

So often we linger on punishing ourselves for not measuring up. We often punish ourselves even more than God does. He delights in His sons and daughters. He provides grace and forgiveness for the many times when we fail. He wants to celebrate life with give you an abundant life, not one full of strife and stress. I'm not suggesting there isn't suffering or challenges in life. However, He gives us the power to "do all things" through Him (Phil. 4:13) and be able to rest in Him and have joy.

So this week, no matter how little or how much you've accomplished in your hopes of getting more organized, take a break and enjoy what's been done. Thank God for your home. Circle back to the idea that getting organized is an act of worship. You may wish to continue re-reading the book in cycles to encourage you in the ongoing journey.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

The Relevance of Goal Setting

After you clearly articulate why you want to do something, and create a vision of how reaching that goal will change your life, it’s then time to come clean and admit the relevance of that particular goal.  Relevance, in this case, refers to how much you care about this goal enough to make it a priority.  Are you willing to let go of or cut from your schedule to work on it?  On a scale of 1-10, how important is it to you to reach this goal?  If your answer is a ‘6’, then it’s true that you’re more than 50% committed. However, in that case, you probably need to take a closer look at the “why” you want to set and reach this goal. 

A lower relevance score usually indicates that you’re trying to work on something that’s important to someone else, but you have yet to find or assign your own value to that particular goal. Until you do, your efforts will most likely fall short of achievement or sustainability.  A lower score on your relevance scale can also mean that there’s an obstacle you haven’t  fully examined or addressed, therefore, you’re not confident that you can achieve the goal.  In that case, it’s really important that you drill down and get everything out on the table.  It may be that through this process you change direction and disregard this goal altogether, or you might keep the goal and establish a better plan for addressing potential obstacles. Unturned stones here will most likely cause you to stumble in your journey towards reaching your goal.

Stephanie Baker

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Great Book for the New Year!


If one of your resolutions is to get organized in 2013, why not get our Bible study to help guide you in changing your mindset and conquering your challenges? It's available in several formats (see right column.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Have a wonderful new year! This is the theme word for one of our authors. What's your word for the year?

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