5 Steps to Help You Actually Start & Complete that Project

We all have projects and tasks that we’ve been meaning to get to for a while. Those items at the bottom of our to-do lists that for one reason or another we’ve procrastinated getting done. Perhaps it’s an organizing project or maybe it’s finally getting to that filing from last year. No matter the task, we’ve outlined some basic steps to help get you started.

1) Review the Project: Although you may have a general idea of what needs to be done, it helps to get a fresh look at the scope of the project. Determine how long it will take, what you need to complete it, and how you will work.

2) Make a Plan: Once you have a basic idea of what needs to be done, it helps to have a specific agenda or outline of how you will work. For example, if the project is to organize your filing cabinets, decide ahead of time, how many years of documents you will keep, what types of docs will be trashed vs. kept vs. shredded, and if you will need input from others during the process.

3)  Schedule the Time: Putting an allotment of time on the calendar is one of the easiest things you can do to ensure completion of a project. If the task will require several chunks of time, schedule the entire process. Don’t forget to leave yourself enough time before and after to keep distractions from creeping in.

4) Gather What You Need: Before you start the project, gather the necessary tools, supplies, and information. This will keep you from using the excuse of not having what you need to put the project on hold mid-process.

5) Focus on Completion: Once you finally get into the actual work, commit to seeing it through to the end, or the pre-determined stopping point. It’s easy to get distracted or frustrated with things, but if you mentally commit to a goal you’ll find it easier to see it through. We also find that a timer set in brief, but effective time intervals can help.

We hope this 5 step process helps to inspire you to get some of those bigger projects started this year. As always, if you need a little extra help, The Well-Organized Woman is happy to assist.

TWOW

Guest Post: How to Stick to Your Grocery Budget

You’re probably sick of hearing people complaining about how “Money doesn’t go as far as it used to”, but the sad fact is that there’s truth in those complaints.  The cost of living is going up, but it’s not just luxury items that are getting more expensive, basic groceries are rocketing in price too.  Today, we’re living in a world where people make calls on iPhones, and cook in designer kitchens with Maia worktops, yet struggle with the weekly food shop because the cost of essential staples such as bread and milk has skyrocketed.  Here are a few tips to help you stay within your budget, and still eat well:

Just Because it’s On Offer, It Doesn’t Mean It’s a Good Deal

Supermarket offers can be deceptive. Often, a supermarket will increase the price of something for a week or so, then “discount” it to a price that’s lower than the expensive one, but still overpriced.  So, soda that has been at a certain price for months may go up in price a little prior to going on offer, and then be advertised as being on a special “Two for One” deal; that offer is cheaper than the most recent expensive price, but it’s not a good deal compared to the earlier price it was selling for.  If you need the soda, check another local supermarket for it.  If you don’t normally drink soda, don’t be tempted by the not-that-great offer.

Don’t Buy More than You Can Use or Freeze

Promotions such as buy two, get one free are also designed to make people buy things that they wouldn’t normally pick up.  You might feel like you’re wasting money if you buy only one gallon of milk when there’s a buy two, get one free offer on the bottles, but what’s the point of paying extra for milk that you won’t drink quickly enough?

With that said, bulk promotions are great if they’re for items with a long shelf life, or for things that you can freeze.  Consider allocating a small part of your budget to buying long-lasting items which you’ll be able to defrost or dig out of the cupboards during hard times, or when bad weather prevents you from getting to the shops.

Learn to Cook Creatively

Meal planning is a good start towards savvy shopping, but restrictive meal plans get boring quickly, and they can cause trouble for you if the store runs out of your favorite staple, or droughts/floods/earthquakes cause a key ingredient to soar in price. I know this from experience, since unusually wet weather has made the price of bananas go up, making my banana and oatmeal smoothies a luxury item, rather than a breakfast ritual.

If you learn how to cook a range of dishes, and learn to experiment with different ingredients to create a meal out of whatever you have in the kitchen, then you’ll find yourself with far more options next time you go shopping.

Try Store Brands

One thing that frugal shoppers love to remind us of is that many store brands are actually made in the same factories as the big name brands.  It’s possible that you could save a lot of money just by downscaling the brands you buy.  Sometimes, there’s a clear difference in taste or quality between brand names and white label products, but that’s not always the case.  Try changing one brand each week – if you like the cheaper brand, that’s money in your pocket.  If you hate it, you can go back to the more expensive brand next week.

Grow Your Budget With Savings Elsewhere

tead.  Fit energy saving light bulbs.  Cut your water bill by showering instead of taking a bath.  There are lots of ways that you can cut costs, letting you spend more on the things you love.If you’re a devoted foodie, and you don’t want to scrimp and save on your shopping, then why not look for savings elsewhere in your household budget?  Stop using that expensive free-standing heater and try plinth heaters ins

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of The Kitchen Appliance Centre. To find more great money saving ideas please visit their site.

 

How & Where to Get Rid of Stuff

We are often asked what’s the best way to get rid of things being culled from the home. While some of the decision is personal preference, there are certain items that are best suited for specific removal strategies. Below we discuss the various options, along with the pros and cons of each.

Clothing Consignment Stores: Although it would be great if everyone could make money off of their excess clothing by consigning, the reality is these stores are extremely picky with what they take. The types of items that are best suited for consignment are new or like-new, in good condition, nicer brands, and most importantly, in-season. If you have winter clothes that you are looking to cull from your closet in the summer, this is not the place to take them. A tip we recently heard for successful consignment is to only do one trip per season. This way you can more easily track your sales and store time limits.

Specialty Stores: Places like Once Upon A Child are excellent options for donating specialty items such as baby products. They will pay you on the spot for your wares and you can feel good about passing along the things your family no longer uses. Play It Again Sports is also an excellent option for offloading old sports gear.

Donation Shops: GoodWill, Salvation Army, and other donation shops will take just about everything you’d like to give them. Although there is no cash payout, the tax deduction can be helpful.

Ebay: This site is most effective for items of slightly higher value that are new or in good condition. Managing the process can be tedious and learning the strategies of becoming a good seller can also be a challenge. However, there is excellent money to be made off of certain types of items.

Garage Sale: Yard sales are best conducted when there is a large amount of stuff to sell all at once. The process requires significant preparation and organization, but it is a good way to offload a variety of items. Keep in mind that prices should reflect severe discounts as your shoppers will expect to see bargains. For more garage sale tips, check out our past post.

Estate Sale: This type of sale is most appropriate for households will extensive collections of valuables. Most often they are conducted by professional estate sale planners who manage the pricing, sale, and delivery of purchased goods to the buyers. Estate sales are most common following the passing of loved ones, but they can also be great options for downsizing and long-distance relocations.

Craigslist & Freecycle: Craigslist.org offers the ability to sell or give away anything you could possibly imagine. Increase your sale odds by being descriptive in your posting and including photos. If possible, get original manufacturer information from other online sources and include in your ad for increased legitimacy. Freecycle.org is another option for giving your belongings away for free.

Recycling Center: If the stuff you are looking to remove from your home is simply not donation or sale worthy, recycling centers will gladly take the items for repurposing. In GA, the North Fulton Recycling Center accepts dropoffs of things like paint, batteries, electronics, books, clothing, ink cartridges, and most everything else you can think of.

No matter what method you chose, we commend you for your efforts to minimize personal belongings.

Good Luck!
TWOW

Back to School Organization & Time Management

This week marks the start of a new school year for most Metro Atlanta schools. We recommend using the opportunity to commit to a more organized and efficient year in terms of your children’s homework, gear, responsibilities, and activities. In order to help you set your child up for success, we’ve put together a few basic strategies. Implement these at the start of the year and within a few weeks the new system will seem standard within the family.

Homework: For some families, this daily task can be a real challenge. Minimize struggles, by creating a routine. The homework routine should, as much as possible, be consistent week-to-week and day-to-day. We recommend setting a specific time of day and allotment of time for the task to be completed. Although this may need to be flexible for older children, having a general idea of when they are to work on homework and for how long will help keep them focused during the task. The homework process should also be conducted in a space free from distractions, such as TV, phones, and even siblings. Once the child’s homework is done it should immediately be put back in the school bag or otherwise be prepared for return to school the following day.

School Gear: Backpacks and school binders can quickly become messy and disorganized. Products designed to organize these items can help keep things under control, but the more important part is that your child actually utilize the system. Prior to the start of school, discuss with your child the importance of organization and how to keep their belongings neat. Then set up a routine where they clear their backpack or binder of unnecessary items and nicely rearrange the leftovers each night. This re-set technique works great for adult offices and can be just as effective with kids. A final recommendation for maintaining paper organization is to implement a permission slip inbox/outbox. Simply set up a tray, folder, or other type of document catcher in the house and encourage your children to deposit unsigned slips in the folder each night and pickup the signed slip in the morning before leaving for school.

Activities: American children often have many activities and obligations each week. If this is true of your family, there are a couple of strategies you can use to prevent overload and missed engagements. First, decide how many commitments you and your child can reasonably agree to each week and standby this number when additional opportunities arise. It can sometimes be difficult to say no, but learning the skill can help you and your child retain personal time that is extremely important to mental health. Second, keep a family calendar, either paper or digital, that documents all activities. Each Sunday the family should review the calendar and discuss each person’s responsibilities including things like pickups and snack duties, etc.

With continued use of these strategies, school routines and tasks can become more streamline and worry-free.

Good Luck!
TWOW

Our Favorite Multifunction Products

Last week our guest blogger, Lisa, gave us some great tips for utilizing furniture and spaces in multiple functions. We love the idea of minimizing the amount of ‘stuff’ in our lives, so this week we’re going to highlight some of our favorite products that have multiple uses.

Dirty Jobs Complete Cleaner: Although many people think cleaning and organizing are similar tasks, here at WOW we dislike cleaning just as much as the next person. That’s why we loved sampling the new Dirty Jobs Complete Cleaner. The product, available at Walmart, was inspired by the Discovery Channel show and really works wonders. The best part is that unlike single-specialty cleaners, this works just about anywhere. Use it in the laundry, the bathroom, on upholstery, or the carpets; it will get the job done.

Food Processor: We love kitchen appliances, but sometimes they can be space hogs. Food processors, however, combine the functions of blender, chopper, cutting board, specialty knives, mortar, cheese grater, and more. If you are low on storage space in your kitchen, consider switching to this multifunction appliance as your go-to tool.

Ice Cube Tray: This everyday item, that many people no longer use, due to integrated ice makers are great for organized storage. Use them for earrings and rings, small junk drawer items, cuff links, hair accessories, sewing materials, crafting supplies, etc.

Dryer Sheets: Instead of tossing out your used dryer sheets, use them to freshen up other areas of the home. Rub them on the inside of smelly shoes to reduce odor, place them in the bottom of your underwear drawer or under your car seat for added freshness, or run them along a couch to pick up animal hair. The new ones will work best, but even the old ones can be put to good use.

Toothpaste: It can be a bit odd to consider using something you put in your mouth each day for other purposes, but toothpaste has a variety of household functions. It can fill in small holes in your walls, soothe bug bites, polish chrome and silver, remove crayon coloring from walls, and reduce blemishes, among other things.

These are just a few interesting multi-purpose products. What are your favorite tricks for making the most out of your belongings?

TWOW

Simple Organizing Tricks That Make A Big Difference

Some of the best professional organizer tips are the most simple. They’re the kind of small changes that make such a noticeable difference that an entire home can feel drastically more organized once implemented. Below are some of our favorites.

Hangers: One inexpensive change is to swap out old mismatched hangers for a new set. The change will not only increase the perception of organization, but if you select a thin, slip-free variety it will also help maximize space in the closet.

Like with Like: Instead of storing items anywhere they’ll fit, take the time to group like items together. For example, in your linen closet, designate specific shelves to certain items such as pillows or sheets. This will greatly improve your ability to easily find what you need.

Labels: Organizers love labels because they work. Labels encourage a behavior of putting items back in their designated homes. There is no confusion about where things belong and thus organization is more easily maintained.

The Daily Reset: We often talk about the re-set in terms of an office, but the concept applies to all aspects of one’s life. At the end of the day, take a few moments to put things back, prepare your physical needs for the following day, and generally tidy up. The daily routine will drastically cut down on lost belongings and general disorder.

Counters: Clearing kitchen and bathroom counters of all unnecessary items can drastically reduce visual clutter. For example, if you use the toaster once per month, consider moving it inside a cupboard.  The extra counter space will make the room feel cleaner and larger.

Good Luck!
-TWOW

Garage Sales: How to Organize & Run a Successful Sale

The Well-Organized Woman is a big fan of donating household excess to charity, but if you’re looking to make a bit of money off of the items you’ve culled, garage sales are excellent options. Although the process may seem straightforward, we’ve pulled together several strategies that can help ensure a successful sale.

Research & Plan: Many cities regulate the number, type, and location of signs that you may post around town to advertise your sale. They may also require a permit be pre-purchased in order to host, so make sure to investigate the rules and regulations in advance of your planned date.

While scheduling the sale, there are several things to keep in mind. First, do a bit on online research and see if there are any other neighborhood sales already scheduled that you can join in on. These tend to draw larger crowds and increase your opportunity for sales. Second, take into consideration that holidays, days in which there are large local events scheduled, and vacation season may not be the most ideal times to host your event.

Advertise: The most important thing you can do to drive traffic to your sale is to advertise. For physical signs, choose brightly colored paper and use arrows to indicate directions to your location. Include cross streets on signs that are posted farther out and utilize sales slogans such as, ‘everything must go’ to excite passersby. Additionally, you can make use of online resources, such as craigslist.com, garagesalestracker.com, yardsalesearch.com, garagesale.com, and various social media sites. For smaller communities, newspapers and bulletin boards can also be helpful tools. Generally, advertisements should be posted 1-2 weeks before the sale.

Organize: Prior to the big day, plan to spend some time preparing your goods. Every item should be clean (to a reasonable extent), priced, and bundled with coordinating accessories. It is also helpful to group like-items together, to make shopping easier for your patrons. For example, kitchen items can be placed on one table, while clothes are on another. When pricing items, be thoughtful about the expected deals shoppers intend to find. Unless the item is brand new, the price should be deeply discounted.

Hosts should also prepare for the sale by procuring change, including more one and five dollar bills than you think you will need. It is also smart to have a plan for the cash exchange process. Will one person handle all sales or will several? Will the change be stored in a box, a wallet, or somewhere else? Having answers to these questions ahead of time will save confusion and hassle during the sale.

Display: Just as stores merchandise their products in a fashion that is both pleasing to the eye and easily shoppable, so too should you. While setting up your sale, take time to display your goods in a way that is organized, but also interesting. For example, if you have china or decorative pieces, consider setting them up as a set table thus illustrating to your customers the way the set could look in their home.

With a bit of planning and a lot of organization you are sure to have a profitable sale.

Good Luck!
TWOW

Time Management: Working From Home

As the popularity of home-based jobs and telecommuting increases, many people find themselves struggling to maintain time management. The flexibility of working from home can have potential difficulties, but with a few basic strategies the arrangement can produce much success.

Establish a Schedule: Setting up time parameters for when you will work and when you be off will help you maintain the necessary mindset for professional activity. If you are able to set your own schedule, attempt to keep the same hours each workday to ensure optimum productivity. Whether you are a morning person or a night owl does not matter; what is important is that you commit to starting and stopping at the same time each day.

Minimize Distractions: Working from home can produce distractions that may otherwise be avoided in an office. Maintaining a space that is dedicated to work can help minimize the possibility of wasted time. If you have an office, excellent, but if not choose a location that is separate from obvious distractions such as t.v., household chores, or kids, etc. Your work area should also be well-stocked with all necessary supplies and electronics.

To Do List: At the beginning of each day, create or update your to do list with the tasks required of you. Tasks can be grouped together in blocks, including phone calls, emails, physical tasks, and needs from others. Grouping items can increase efficiency by having similar tasks completed while you are already in that mindset.

Breaks & Socializing: Working from home can at times be isolating. Scheduling plans for regular social interaction, be it happy hour or a quick lunch break with a friend, can help keep you from becoming too disconnected from the world. It will also ensure other forms of connection, such as social media or personal phone calls, are kept to a minimum during the week.

Timed Activities: Use a timer to ensure you focus on necessary tasks for specific amounts of time. For example, if you have a writing project to complete, set the timer for one hour and commit to dedicating your attention to that sole task. During the pre-set time, ignore emails, set your phone on silent, and let family members know you are off limits.

Everyone has personal tasks that come up during the week. In order to manage the draw to execute these immediately while at home, set aside a specific time each day to make your personal calls, get to an appointment, or handle other needs. If it is not your scheduled personal time, resist the urge to get off track.

By utilizing these strategies you will help to ensure your work-from-home arrangement is mutually beneficial for you and your employer.

Good Luck!
TWOW

Guest Post: Tips for Cleaning in the Lazy Days of Summer

With the weather warming up, the last thing anyone wants to do is stay inside and clean. It seems that once summer hits, everyone’s schedule begins to fill up. Here are a few quick tips on getting the house clean in no time by THE MAIDS.

Thirty seconds is longer than you think. You can easily maintain trouble spots or reduce pesky clutter by following these cleaning tasks:

  • Prevent soap scum buildup in your shower with a few quick squirts of daily shower spray.
  • Swipe the bathroom counter with a disinfectant wipe, clearing it of hairspray, toothpaste and soap scum.
  • Shake out entryway rugs to rid them of excess dirt and minimize traipsing it throughout your home.

With two minutes, you can:

  • Gather stray clutter into a laundry basket. Just be sure to put everything in its proper place at a later time.
  • Sweep high-traffic areas, like the entryway or bathroom floor.
  • Spritz the bathroom mirror with glass cleaner and wipe dry with a microfiber cloth.
  • And at the expense of sounding like your mother, make your bed.

Are you lucky enough to have won a time windfall? Use your five minutes wisely:

  • Start a load of laundry.
  • Wash the bathroom floor. Clean-up is simple if you have already swept it during your two-minute hiatus.
  • Wipe down kitchen counter-tops. You don’t want harmful germs finding their way into your food preparations.
  • Sort through your pile of mail and toss the junk. Remember to shred and recycle!

Busy lifestyles necessitate taking small, time-efficient steps when it comes to maintaining an orderly and clean house. If you need an extra hand, call THE MAIDS and experience the healthiest, most thorough housecleaning in the industry.

This post was generously written by the folks at THE MAIDS, a trusted and respected residential cleaning service.

Recipe Organization: Controlling the Clutter & Increasing Efficiency

One of the major organizational challenges my clients face during the week is finding and/or taking the time to prepare a meal at home. And when I do, it’s as if I (re)discover for the first time how wonderful it tastes and feels to eat homemade cooking – not to mention the cost savings per person on just one meal!

Though cooking at home comes with so many positives, there is one negative that comes to mind that. I’m talking about the clutter of all of those recipes you collect. These days, there are so many places where you can find a way to make a meal for yourself and your family, be it through cookbooks, a trusted friend or a recipe website. And with each of these comes a piece of paper with ingredients, directions and notes for next time you make it.

While it’s wonderful to build a collection of meals and experiences, it’s often hard to keep them all in one place – I know I’ve found myself searching for a needed recipe the moment before I’m heading to the grocery store, and if I can’t find it online again, it’s lost!

The simplest way to keep track of paper recipes is to contain this potential clutter in one folder in one place in your home. Though it may seem counterintuitive to keep your recipes in your paper office files, you’ll be more likely to locate them given that ‘like is with like’. Try to alphabetize by name of dish so you won’t have to flip through the stack for too long!

If you want to take it one step further – you can also add additional folders to a hanging file separated by type of meat or type of dish. But again, only if you have the energy and organizational style to do so.

If you are a little more technologically savvy, most recipe websites, like allrecipes.com, have digital recipe boxes where you can store your favorite recipes with notes. Taking the time after you’ve prepared the dish to store the recipe online will give you the freedom to recycle the paper and cut down on physical clutter completely. Tastebook.com is a fabulous idea for compiling all of your random paper receipes into a digital and nicely bound book with photos. I also love the idea of using Pinterest to find and organize recipes. If you find a great recipe on another site, simply pin the photo to a board and you’ll have a photographic collection that is easy to access anywhere. Feel free to label boards by type of dish for additional organization.

As you can see, just a few simple changes can help you take that one step towards a little less clutter in your house. Bravo to you for taking the time and care to cook at home. I’m sure your wallet and body thanks you.

Enjoy!
-TWOW

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