Tag Archives: meal planning. car organization

It Is Clutter Awareness Week: Can you identify clutter?

“Clutter is postponed decisions.”
— Barbara Hemphill

This is National Clutter Awareness Week.  Most of us think we can identify clutter when we see it, but can we?

Kitchen BeforeLet’s take a look at some of the items we can identify in the picture above and determine:

Clutter or Correct Place?

Stack of Ziploc bags.  Although we use Ziploc bags in the kitchen, the extra boxes probably would be better stored in the pantry.  Clutter.

Sleeping bag.  Does a sleeping bag belong in the kitchen?  No.  Clutter.

Small filing system:  The filing system may very well belong in the kitchen even though our first instinct would be that it belongs in an office.  If the kitchen is where the homeowner pays bills and does their filing, then it makes perfect sense.  Correct Place.

Pest control product:  There may very well be pests in the kitchen, but the pest control product more appropriately should be stored away from food.  Clutter.

Large slow cooker:  If this appliance is used on a regular basis, then this is the perfect place for it.  If it is only used occasionally, then it should be placed in a more out-of-the-way place.  Correct Place.

Lots and lots of plastic storage containers:  Plastic containers are certainly used in the kitchen, however, the sheer quantity of containers we see in this picture pushes them into the clutter category.  Clutter and Correct Place

There were lots and lots of decisions to be made while working with this homeowner, but she was motivated and determined to take back her kitchen.  Here’s how we left it at the end of our work together.  She’s happy to report to me (on a regular basis) that her counters are still clear and her kitchen functions more as a kitchen and less as a storage area.  I’m so proud when my clients can maintain and improve upon the work we do together!

Kitchen 4 After

Cindy Jobs


Organize to Simplify RGB www.organizetosimplify.com

Member Color - WebNational Association of Professional Organizers, Seattle Chapter President
 ICD_LogoTag_Horz_72 websiteCertified Premium Subscriber, Institute for Challenging Disorganization

Tax Time: How To Get and Stay Ready

Generally speaking, filing taxes is not at the top of the list of “fun things to do today.”  Taxes are frustrating, confusing, and sometimes moderately depressing.  Therefore, we tend to procrastinate when it comes to filing them.  According to TurboTax, there are five general reasons we procrastinate when it comes to filing our taxes:

  • Laziness:
      We just don’t want to do it!
  • Thrill-Seeking:
      We think we work better under pressure (generally we don’t).
  • Lack of Urgency:
    There’s no penalty for dropping them off at the post office at 11:59 PM on April 15.  Why hurry?
  • Availability of Extensions:  Extensions don’t mean you have more time to PAY
    , just more time to file.  If you are expecting money back, why extend?
  • No Expected Refund: 
    If you aren’t getting money back, why give Uncle Sam our money a minute earlier than we have to?

Hopefully you’ve already filed your taxes, received your refund, and none of what I’m presenting applies to you.  If so, way to go! (Now skip to #3, Create A Reusable File System To Track and Maintain Tax Documents).   If you are still waiting to file your taxes, here are your next few steps:

1.  Call For A Tax Appointment: Stop reading right now and call for an appointment with your tax preparer.  If you don’t have one, now is a good time to do some research.  There are, of course, a plethora of tax preparation options if you do an internet search on “tax preparation services,” but now may be a great time to use that social network you’ve been building.  Ask your friends and relatives if they have anyone they could recommend.  In addition, there may be some free tax preparation services available  depending on your age and income, search “free tax preparation services.”

2.  Gather Your Documents:  By now you should have received all the documents required to prepare your taxes.  These documents may include, but are not limited to:

  • W-2s from your employers,
  • 1099-MISC forms for self-employment income,
  • 1099-INT (interest) and 1099-DIV (dividends) forms,
  • 1099-B forms showing brokerage trades in stocks and bonds,
  • K-1 forms for income from a partnership, small business, or trust,
  • 1099-SSA form showing Social Security received,
  • Documentation of charitable donations.

Other great sources for documents you may need to prepare your taxes:
Tax Preparation Documents for Homeowners
Documents To Take To Your Accountant

3.  Create A Reusable File System To Track And Maintain Tax Documents:  Once you’ve gathered all your documents, create a filing system (it may only be two file folders or envelopes) that will allow you to repeat this process year-after-year. Create two files/envelopes:  Current Year Taxes and Previous Year Taxes.  That way you will have one  to use for the immediate filing and one to start saving documentation for next years filing. Create a checklist of all the documents that are in the Current Year Taxes file/envelope (generally it will be the same for next year, but adjust as necessary) and place it on/in the front of the file/envelope.  I suggest using sturdy, plastic folders or envelopes for this purpose, that way you’re not replacing them every year.  Plastic File Folders or  Plastic Envelopes

Although filing taxes isn’t always fun and rewarding, the consequences of not filing can be expensive and stressful.  Don’t procrastinate. Filing your taxes accurately and on time can save you money and unnecessary stress.

Cindy Jobs

Organize to Simplify RGB www.organizetosimplify.com

Member Color - WebNational Association of Professional Organizers, Seattle Chapter President
 ICD_LogoTag_Horz_72 websiteCertified Premium Subscriber, Institute for Challenging Disorganization

Organize in 15 Minutes or Less

ImageTop Ten 15 Minute Organizing Options

Organizing doesn’t have to be incredibly time consuming. Little organizing successes can bring great rewards and not take much time at all!  Here are my top 10 super-fast organizing tasks, each of which can be done in 15 minutes or less.

1. Create a calendar:

  • Find a calendar that fits your needs:  wall calendar, day planner, customized spreadsheet, phone app, etc. Whatever works for YOU!  It doesn’t matter what your friend/mother/sister/boyfriend uses.  Find the one that fits your lifestyle.
  • Fill in obligations for the month.
  • Create an area to document tasks to get done during the month.
  • Categorize tasks by A/B/C priority.
  • Check/update calendar on a daily basis.

2.  Clean out a drawer (pick a drawer, any drawer):

  • Take everything out.
  • Sort items by purpose (do they even belong there?).
  • Throw away anything that isn’t functional; donate items that are functional that you don’t use.
  • Thoroughly clean the drawer.
  • Containerize like items together much as possible.

3. Clean one shelf in the refrigerator/pantry/medicine cabinet:

  • Take everything out.
  • Check expiration dates; throw out anything past expiration date. Going forward, write the date on products as you open them.
  • Categorize items by function: condiments, snacks, salad dressings, etc.
  • Thoroughly clean the shelf.
  • Containerize like items together much as possible.

4. Create a mail station:

  • Mail station should be wherever you are comfortable opening the mail.
  • Put a recycle bin and shredder as close to the mail station as possible.
  • Create an area to put items that need further work: bills to pay; invitations to respond to; filing, etc.
  • Ongoing: Place any important dates on your calendar.
  • Ongoing: Unsubscribe from unwanted catalogs or direct mail items.

5. Purse:

  • Take everything out.
  • Vacuum out the inside; wipe the outside down with appropriate cleaning agent (vinyl can tolerate antiseptic wipes).
  • Reorganize by function: sunglasses/reading glasses in one section; small cosmetic bag in another; wallet in another. If the purse doesn’t have sections, consider investing in a purse organizer.
  • Make a list of everything in the purse.
  • Scan front/back of important cards in case purse is lost/stolen.

 6. Car interior:

  • Remove all the garbage.
  • Wipe down surfaces with a Swiffer® or soft rag and mild detergent.
  • Clean windows and vacuum seats.
  • Create a place for a small garbage can/bag.
  • Containerize like items: one container for reusable shopping bags; others for emergency kits (see below)

7. Create emergency kits:

  • Check for dealer supplied items already stored in the vehicle.
  • Find appropriately sized containers.
  • Gather the following supplies for the everyday situations kit: paper towels, granola bars, water, blanket, coat, gloves, flashlight/batteries, etc.
  • Gather the following supplies for emergency situations: first aid kit, flat tire repair kit, flares, jumper cables, etc.
  • Create a list of items in each kit and check semi-annually.

8. Meal Planning:

  • Check refrigerator to see what needs to be used within the near future.
  • Create a meal plan for the week.
  • Plan at least one day for leftovers.
  • Post meal plan for the entire family to see.
  • Create a master shopping list (Linda’s suggestion: Amazon Subscribe and Save).

9. Clean out the linen closet:

  • Take everything out.
  • Sort by function: sheets, towels, etc.
  • Detail sort by sheet/towel size.
  • Donate any items not.
  • Designate shelf by function if possible; label if possible.

10. Create a regular household “to do” list:

  • Make a list of tasks you perform on a regular basis.
  • Consult with others in the home that perform regular maintenance and include their items on the list also.
  • Separate them by frequency: weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, etc.
  • Create a spreadsheet or other document capturing regular tasks.
  • Review list weekly.

See, organizing doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming.  You will be amazed at how much better you will feel, not to mention motivated to do more, after just a few minutes of organizing