Uncomplicate life: Get organized so you’re never late

don't be late to your son's wedding

Is there ever enough time to get everything done in your day? Even without traveling, commuting, and going out much it feels like there is always something else pulling our attention that seems more important than what we are currently doing. The inability to focus is just one part of the problem. We are ALL juggling more these days and being organized is part of the solution.

One of my pet peeves is being late. ME being late and others. It just seems like in this day of navigation apps and audible reminders it just should not happen but it does. I feel like I am disloyal to my profession if I am late and that just feels so disingenuous.

But let’s not tell stories about me. Let me tell you a story about being late to your wedding. 

Of not, your own wedding. But your son’s wedding. Almost late. Like the last- possible- minute- and- we- are- starting- without- you kind of late.

(yes, I have permission to tell this story)

My sister Laura is just like me in her feelings about being late. She makes plans and lists and is a very thoughtful and considerate person. She is not flighty, scatterbrained, or unfocused. 

She would never be late for an event as important as her only son’s wedding. But she arrived at 10:59:32 for his 11:00 am wedding service. 

Here’s what happened:

10:40 My husband and I arrive. We’re early but there was no traffic. Socialize with early arrivals.

10:45 Everyone assumes I am Laura and starts telling me what I need to do as Mother of Groom. I remind them that I am not she. Eyes of all wedding participants widen in shock and horror.

10:46 First of 180 inquiries “Where is Laura?”

10:48 Her daughter asks “Where’s Mom?”

10:50 Groom asks “Where’s Mom? Maybe you should call her.”

10:51 I call her. No answer. I naturally assume she and her husband must have careened off the bridge and are currently drowning.

10:52 I call her husband. After 4.5 rings, he answers. He sounds very calm (monotone) and says “We will be there soon.”

Soon?! Are you kidding me? People are nervous here! 

10:57 Is she here yet?

10:58 When will she be here?

10:59 Um, anyone know where she is?

10:59:32 Car comes screeching in to the parking lot (no exaggeration). Everyone lines up and the wedding nuptials take place.

I wisely decided to wait until after the wedding to ask what happened. ūüėČ

It was a tale of a series of errors that became more comedic as she progressed. 

  1. Waited (patiently) for husband to get out of bathroom. Not in a rush here so why make him expedite his routine?
  2. Although the skirt purchased 5 months ago was hanging in the closet the entire time, it still had wrinkles in it. Bad wrinkles.
  3. Steaming didn’t get the wrinkles out. Must find iron.
  4. Take out ironing board and iron skirt.
  5. Top purchased to go with said skirt for wedding was suddenly missing. 
  6. Must spend time trying on other options to find suitable substitute.
  7. Belt selected specifically for the outfit also missing.

Just writing this makes me feel anxious.

While none of those things by themselves would have caused any problem, it was the compounding of ALL of them that raised pulse rates.

The extra stress that was experienced by so many wedding participants was 100% avoidable. Not to say that mistakes don’t happen but all of these could have been avoided with a little advanced organization. 

I’m not saying life has to be perfect. In fact, it’s the things that go wrong that have made the best and, in this particular case, funniest memories. We are all laughing about this now and I hope you are, too.
If you are ever hesitating to organize that drawer or closet, do it. Make the time and get it done. Or hire someone to do it for you. ūüôā

Life is too short to spend any more of it than we have to overwhelmed, stressed, or angry at ourselves for NOT getting things in order. 

When you’re organized, you’re free to experience more of life because your’e not wasting your time looking for the iron or sweater or risking your life to speed to get to the church on time!

Anti-clutter gift list

Gift buying and giving is a stressful task that most of us wish we could pass on to someone else. That is why everyone puts together their gift suggestion lists and even Amazon lists: to make the selection process easier and more efficient.

But what if I told you there were great gift options that would be loved and needed by everyone on your list? These options work for just about anyone on your list and are guaranteed to fit! No regifting closet necessary.

  • Gift of experience. This is even better if it is something that you can do together. It could be going to a museum, concert, sporting event or play. Or something adrenaline fueled like driving a race car or skydiving or driving golf balls. The experience and time together is the true gift which creates long-lasting memories.
  • Service gift. This could be a gift certificate for a treat like a manicure or massage or even car wash. These gifts are thoughtful because they may be a luxury that the recipient wouldn’t normally indulge in.
  • Framed photos. This is one of my favorite gifts because it creates a piece of art from a shared experience or memory. Last year I gave my husband a framed picture from a concert we attended together and it always brings up fun memories when either of us looks at it. Go through your photo archives to dig up a treasured time together and frame the image.
  • Photo books. Similar to the framed photos, these books are a way of preserving the memories in a visual format. These are great especially  if you’ve taken a trip or together or went to an event where lots of pictures were taken. You can add annotations to personalize them further or just let the pictures speak for themselves.
  • Gift of learning. Whether you’re giving a gift of a series of lessons or showing someone how to listen to podcasts, the gift of learning is never returned and always appreciated. Also the gift of audio books is a perfect option for someone who enjoys reading but doesn’t have time or can’t see as well. You may open someone’s eyes to whole new levels of experience just with showing them a new skill or hobby they never thought about.

I love all of these suggestions because they require you to think about the person you are gifting and consider their needs and wishes with a little more attention. 

These are all a variation on the gift of time which is the only non renewable resource we all share. 

Happy gifting!

Products & Services I know make your life easier

Happy October!

October is one of my favorite months because the weather is cooler, the leaves gorgeous shades of red, gold, and orange, and there is a magical feeling of excitement in the air. Maybe it’s the excessive beer and wingconsumption due to all of the football but I know a lot of people agree with me that October¬†is their favorite month of the year.

Because it’s a favorite, I’m going to give you a list of some of my favorite things. Not my favorite foods or places to visit but rather favorite products and services that have made my life easier.

I have recommended all of these to friends, clients, strangers, and pretty much anyone who will listen or who asks for a recommendation. While getting your home organized is at the top of MY list of ways to make your life easier, here are some other tools, services, and sites that can enhance your life.

Some of my favorite things in no particular order….

 

  1. Frambridge. This is an online framing service that you can use from the privacy of your own home. I love art, as many of you know, but I do not love framing art. I have ruined far too many pieces by not framing it and letting it become damaged in a closet or drawer. If you’re going to keep it, you should probably frame it.¬†Framebridge allows you to pick a frame and mat or you can use their designers to give you suggestions. Their fee includes shipping you a container to send your artwork and the return shipping plus the frame and mat, plus printing if it’s a digital image. Soooo easy and no carting pictures around in your car for weeks trying to get to the frame store.

  2. Dyson¬†cordless vacuum. I do not love cleaning the house. I do not love vacuuming. I LOVE my Dyson cordless. It makes vacuuming a breeze because it is ready to go without¬†having to dig it out of closet¬†and there is no cord to untangle. You clean it after each use so there’s no bag to change out. It is a pricey investment but worth every penny. I use this several times a week for a quick run through of high traffic areas or when I’ve spilled something (often). It does the job well on rugs and hard wood floors plus has attachment tools for crevices, corners, and smaller areas. I got mine at Costco but you can find refurbished ones on Amazon.

  3. Commercial plastic wrap.¬†Seeing the size of this you might think I’m serving hundreds of meals a day but that is not the case. The fact that there is a built in cutter for the plastic wrap means that¬†I don’t have to struggle to find the end which makes my life so much easier. I actually don’t mind putting food away because this eliminates the struggle. I know a lot of you may be anti plastic but there are times when there is no substitute. I love the fact that I can easily pull a piece out and it doesn’t get tangled up in my hands¬†or stuck to itself. I got mine at Costco but it may be available other places.¬†It’s really all about the little things that help, ya’ll ;-).

  4. Audible. This app is so great and it’s upped my reading quotient 100%. I would usually read before bed and only get in a page or two before dozing off. Now I can “read” while I walk the dog, get dressed, drive around, and fix dinner. I preach all the time about how multitasking is a myth but here is an example of where you can pair a task that requires your attention (reading/ listening to a book) with one that does not (the aforementioned tasks). While I primarily listen to business books, I do get the occasional novel to add some variety. If you find you have no time to read, get Audible and you’ll plow through them in record time.

  5. ThirdLove. Gentlemen can probably just skip this paragraph as it applies to ladies undergarments. I first heard of this company a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised by their high quality, beautiful, and well fitting bras and underwear. They have everything from everyday, t-shirt bras to date night lace-y unmentionables. I love it when you can buy something online that is a sure thing as far as fit, function, and beauty¬†but can return if necessary. They provide that excellent customer service which is another huge bonus. I’ve seen some, let’s just say, “well used” undies in all the closets I’ve organized and investing in yourself with nice undergarments is a treat worth its weight in gold.

I hope you enjoyed reading this list of favorites and that you find one that help you make your life easier! I’d love to hear if you use or decided to try any of these. Just send me an email at carrie@neatsmart.com. ūüôā

Happy organizing!

Do you want the best office ever?

best office

I’ve set up and organized¬†a few offices lately so I feel like I’ve been thinking a lot about the¬†various supplies necessary to get best filing system set up in your¬†home office. The goal that I’ve been helping people achieve is having an office where it is easy to find papers, supplies like staplers and scissors, and having a pleasant and calm space to work. Continue reading

Reduce your stress the easy way

Do you feel like you’ve got a million things swirling through your brain? Do you need a few more hours in the day to get it all done? Ever wished for a personal assistant…or 5? If you have the budget to hire assistants you can stop reading now because this just won’t apply to you. Everyone else, here’s how you can be your own personal assistant or, if you want to be fancy, aide de camp.Continue reading

Follow up to “saving money using what you have”

simple shipping
Or “Simple¬†shipping tips to save your sanity” if I were trying to use as many ‘s’ as possible! I’m happy to report that the package arrived safely at my friend’s house so my experiment in shipping was successful. I even verified that this box met the U.S. Post office’s guidelines. Hooray for me!

While we are on the subject I wanted to share my tips for successful and organized shipping since we are coming into a season of gift giving. Also, I have a lot of family members with birthdays in October so it’s especially pertinent to me now. ūüôā

  1. Set aside an area in a closet or cabinet or drawer for keeping shipping supplies. This should include 2″ tape (I prefer clear), a good medium point marker like a Sharpie, scissors, and labels or index cards (my preference). Not having to scout these supplies out every time you have to mail something will save you precious time and your sanity!
  2. When reusing a box, make sure you remove or amply mark out all previous labels and bar codes. Make sure the box is sturdy, too.
  3. Use enough cushioning materials so you don’t feel anything move when you shake the box. This is where dry cleaners’ bags, newspapers, magazine pages, bubble wrap, and packing popcorn come in handy. I don’t usually have the last item on hand but it is great when you can reuse it.
  4. Clearly print out your mailing label. It is very important that this is legible! Also make sure your return address is legible. This is why I like index cards because there is a lot of room.
  5. I take packages to the post office to mail and almost always use the self serve kiosk. It’s great because it is always open and you usually don’t have to stand in line. I love going in the evenings when nobody else is there and I can process a bunch in peace. I’ve never had a problem with it or with packages not arriving. Again, it saves precious time and my sanity!
  6. Another note about the kiosk: you can print a large or small postage label. It will ask you if the size will fit and show you a picture of the size. It’s very large! If you say “no” a much smaller postage label will be printed. It’s about the size of 2 regular postage stamps.Don’t think you’ve got to mail a¬†large package to use this service.

Do you have any shipping tips? How do you handle shipping packages when you’re busy?

Happy organizing!

Stop the (March) madness!

IMG_0548

  • Are you trying to finish a bunch of tasks prior to starting your weekend?
  • Finding yourself ending your day not knowing how you got through it all?
  • Have too much to do?
  • Overcommitted but can’t see a way to say no?

I think we are all guilty of at least one of these at some point during the week, however, your brain can only process so much information at once and you can only be one place at at time. Being present in any moment is what builds those memories in your head. Have you ever attended a child’s play or sporting event and watched the parents too busy filming to actually watch their child perform? It makes me laugh (and cry) that they are working so hard to preserve the moment to watch it later and yet they aren’t really present to experience it live. ¬†Your memory of an event is more important than the image of it. I’m not saying don’t take pictures, I’m saying live in the moment and be present to absorb what’s going on now.

It’s always interesting to me how I read articles or have conversations around a particular theme without planning or thinking about it. Here are some posts and classes you might be interested in on this topic:

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5 things you can do in 5 minutes to get organized: 2/24

Happy last week of February! Can you believe we are almost 2 months into 2014? Here are some tips to help you get organized so you can spend more time doing the things you enjoy!

Simple menu planning will make your evenings more enjoyable & less stressful.
Simple menu planning will make your evenings more enjoyable & less stressful. This is how https://mixonian.com plans their week’s menu on the refrigerator.

  1. Write down groceries that you need immediately after you realize it. Keep a notepad on your refrigerator or in your kitchen that you can add to periodically and then you’re half way through your list when ¬†you need to go.
  2. Fold clean clothes while you’re watching TV. You can put them away during the commercial break so it will be fast. I know most people record shows and skip through commercials but this is a good way to use that 3 minute segment of time. Bonus points for getting the family involved and it goes faster!
  3. Plan your week’s meals on Sunday. This is especially helpful for dinner if you’re feeding a family. You don’t have to have all of the groceries on hand but you at least know what’s coming and can prepare more easily. Sample menu above courtesy of Mixonian.com.
  4. Designate a landing pad for your car keys, glasses, wallet, & purse. Avoid that last minute scramble of “where, oh where can my keys be?” They don’t have to be kept together but you should designate a convenient spot and put these items in their home EVERY time you come in the door.
  5. Put your reusable grocery bags back in car after you empty your groceries. There is no reason to store them in your home if you only use them for groceries. Get them in the car as soon as you’ve emptied them so you’re ready for your next trip.

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