Saturday, December 31, 2016

Neat Doctor's Roundup of Simplicity & Organizing Challenges!

Happy New Year!  Every year, being more organized and living a simpler lifestyle tops many lists of goals and resolutions.  Here I round up some of my favorite organizing & simplicity challenges and lists.  Try one, try a few, or perhaps even try them all!

1)  Peter Walsh's 31 Days To Get Organized:  Peter posts these challenges on YouTube in January.  I love that there is a video each day to find inspiration in, and he makes the challenges clear and not too big to handle.  It's a great way to kick off the new year!

2)  52 Weeks To An Organized Home by Home Storage Solutions 101:  I love that this lasts a whole year, and tackles zones of the home a little at a time.  Check out the 2017 list with clickable links to each week.  If you are doing great in an area that is a focus for that week, you can easily move on to another week.  

3)  Organize 365's 100 Day Home Organization Challenge:  First, be sure to scroll down to the FREE Get Organized in 100 Days Checklist.  You could just work through that checklist.  However, if you would like access to videos, more detailed instructions, product recommendations and more support, there is a paid version as well.

If you already feel fairly organized, but could see yourself digging deeper and living a more minimalist lifestyle, Options, 4, 5 and 6 could be perfect for you.

4)  Uncluttered by Becoming Minimalist:  I love this course by Joshua Becker.  It's a 12 week course that takes you through videos and has a Facebook Support group.  It's got more of a focus on minimalism.  

5)  a simple year:  This is a program by Courtney Carver of Be More With Less (and creator of Project 333).  I have not done this program, but I have heard wonderful things.  I love that each month has a simple focus.  Of note is "August - Self Care" - something that is so important for all of us to embrace.

6)  30-Day Minimalism Game by The Minimalists:  Even the concept of this game is simple, and you get to do this with someone which makes it fun.  Here's the gist:  You both get rid of one thing on the first day, 2 things on the second day, and so on.  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Amazon's New "Give Back Box" Program

With the New Year Upon us, a lot of people will be in their purge phase, cleaning out for a fresh start.  Amazon just launched their new sustainability program of "Give Back Boxes."  More details can be found in the link below.  I would love to know your thoughts on this!  

My thoughts:  I think it is wonderful to encourage donating goods no longer used.  However, I would caution consumers to be mindful of the goods being newly purchased.  I would like to encourage the buying of goods that your household actually needs and is very functional.  For example, food, household and consumable products.  I can see this service being extremely convenient for busy families.  

Click Here to find out more about Amazon's Give Back Box Program:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Reboot Your Pinterest Account for the New Year!

It's Winter Break.  I am by a nice warm fire looking at something I have not looked at in quite a while:  My Pinterest account! I have so many pins that were quite fitting for the stage of life I was in a few years ago.  But now, many of those boards and pins are not relevant to my current stage of life. I went through all of my boards and eliminated quite a few.

Here are my final Board categories.  I was hoping to get them down to even less, but when I ask myself a) Do I see myself taking action with these items in the next year and b)  Are they relevant to my life right now, my answer is yes.  So they stay for now!
  • So Fresh & So Clean (cleaning tips)
  • Go Green
  • My Style
  • Home
  • Travel Bucket List
  • Garden
  • Frugal Stuff
  • Health 2017
  • Neat Doctor:  Simplicity & Organization
  • Emergency Kit
  • Lemon Recipes (I have a huge lemon tree!)
  • DIY Products
  • Prep Ahead Recipes
  • Completed Projects
All of these boards capture projects and inspirations that are very relevant to me right now and as I look forward to 2017.  It's now more of a project management tool rather than a random assortment of things I like, which can quickly become very overwhelming.  

Here are some tips to simplify your Pinterest boards for the New Year:

1)  Have a "Projects I've Completed" Board:  It is so satisfying to look back on projects you've completed throughout the years. 

2)  Limit Your Number of Boards:   Too many can be overwhelming!

3)  Be Realistic and Timely:  Ask yourself: a) Do I see myself taking action with these items in the next year and b)  Are they relevant to my life right now?  

4)  Include a Bucket List or Dream Board:  Think long term goals and things that inspire you!

5)  Once a year, reevaluate your boards & adjust as necessary:  I had quite a few categories which just were not fitting my current life.  For example,   "Sewing stuff" - I don't sew!  "Pet stuff" - I had only 1 pin!  "Workout Stuff" - I have not looked at that board in years, let alone use any of it!  I still ned to amp up my workout routine, but Pinterest was clearly not working for me in this category.  If something is not working for you, move on until you find something that does.  

6)  Be aware of the neverending scrolling! Just like Facebook, Pinterest can draw you in for large amounts of time.  Be more strategic and direct by searching for your interests directly or limit yourself to a set amount of time.

Happy Pinning!
You can follow me on Pinterest here:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Simplifying? Spend Some Time with these 5 Authors/Bloggers

You know that saying "You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with"?  Well, if a goal of yours is to live a simpler, more minimal & clutterfree life, surround yourself with these 5 authors/bloggers.  (In addition to yours truly, Neat Doctor of course! ;)  Read their books (think eBooks or library rentals for those going after minimalism), follow them on Facebook, check out their You Tube Channels and podcasts as well.  I love watching them on You Tube while I fold laundry.  It gives me focus and motivation to keep up our simplicity efforts.

1)  Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist:
I had the privilege of meeting Joshua at a book signing a few weeks ago.  Such a down to earth & inspiring guy - I love his wife & kids too!  So relatable to other families pursuing minimalism. His book "Clutterfree with Kids" and his course "Uncluttered" are 2 of my favorite resources.  I also have a favorite YouTube video of his from Ignite Phoenix:

2)  The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
These 2 were the keynote speakers at the 2015 NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) Conference.  I was thrilled to be a speaker at that same conference and have to admit was a little star struck!  If you have not had the chance to see their documentary "Minimalism," make it a point to see it. I love Ryan's experience of doing a "packing party."

3)  Peter Walsh
Peter was one of the first Professional Organizers I followed before I dove into the industry myself.  I remember being at The Container Store in Orange County, CA and stumbled upon him filming an episode of "Clean Sweep."  So fun!   A few years later I am quoted on page 24 of his book "Lighten Up." His tips are very practical.  Every January he has a 31 Days to Getting Organized Challenge - but you don't have to start in January - you can view those challenges anytime!

4)  Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo is quite the simplicity phenom these days!  Her best selling book, "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" offers some new perspectives and methods to the decluttering process.  "Does this spark joy" is becoming a popular question!  She also has a 2nd book out "Spark Joy."

5)  Courtney Carver
Courtney is my style inspiration.  Creator or Project 333, a capsule wardrobe philosophy, she takes the simplicity of fashion to new levels.  I am currently frequently referencing her material because, honestly, this is one of the hardest areas for me to simplify!  When something is a challenge, keep at it and keep being a great student of your inspirations.

May I also give a mention to Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits.  He has some wonderfully inspirational YouTube videos, like this one here:

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Simply the Rest: 5 Ways Doing Less Can Be More Fulfilling

1)      Consider Minimalism
Minimalism has so many benefits, and you don’t have to be an extreme minimalist to enjoy its effects.  There’s a simple philosophy at work with owning less:  the less you own, the less time it takes to care for your items, and the more time of yours is freed up.   Take the task of dusting as an example.  If you have a mantle full of tchotchke’s, it takes considerably more time to pick each one up, dust it off, dust your mantle, and return them to their places.  Compare that to a mantle with only 1 or 2 items on it, and how much easier it would be to dust it.  When you cut your physical possessions down, you also cut your cleaning and organizing time down.  Same is true for possessions not displayed, but stored away.  Eventually, as life stages change and you need more and different stuff, you will need to store things that serve you for that life stage, and you will need to purge.  Carefully consider your possessions and ask yourself these 2 questions:  Do these items serve a purpose in my life now?  And Do I love this item?   Also beware of the items you “might use one day” and items that have memories attached to them.  Items “you might use one day” can have a habit of multiplying.  Will those items really save you a significant amount of money of you hold on to them?  Do those items serve a hobby that is realistic for your current life stage or is it actually causing you stress by hanging on to them because you never seem to get around to that project?  I used to love to Scrapbook, but it just does not fit my busy mom life right now.  I am finishing up a few easy projects, but the ones I know I will not realistically get to in years to come, I made the decision to just get rid of.  Instead, I opted for a combination of digital photos, and am placing the remainder of the physical photos in photo boxes.  Items that have memories attached to them can be a bit more difficult to navigate.  First, consider how much physical space the item takes up.  Also consider if you are truly giving proper respect for the special item.  If it’s stored in a box in the garage, rarely to be looked at, maybe it’s time to reconsider.  If it’s neatly organized and has a place of its own, without causing clutter, then you can most likely feel great about preserving it’s memory in your home.  The time and effort you take now in purging down your items will have an exponential effect on the time you have to enjoy your family and do the activities you love. 

2)      Take Time to Day Dream
When was the last time you day dreamed?  I don’t just mean staring off thinking about relaxing in a day spa during an afternoon where you are feeling the effects of sleep deprivation and are in the midst of trying to entertain toddlers.  I mean truly day dreamed, thinking about future adventures and goals.  You may need to schedule some special time for this.  It could be as simple as an hour to yourself on a Saturday morning.  Maybe the 8-9am hour can be your special time of reflection.  Find a quiet coffee shop,  go for a run, or just a quiet spot at home where you will not be disturbed (if that’s even possible!)   Pray, journal, meditate, do what you need to do to connect and dream.  It is so important to have this time of reflection and dreaming.  Sometimes just being away from the chaos for 1 hour can have a profound impact on your life.  Invite a good friend to join you if you’d like.  Talking things over with a friend about your hopes, dreams, and even struggles in this life’s journey can not only be a great stress reliever, but can also result in some “a-ha!” moments.  Make these times of dreaming and reflection a regular part of your schedule.   In fact, get creative and fight for these times! 

3)      Work Rest & Recovery Times Into Your Schedule
I am guilty of not doing this!  Yep, even I, a Professional Organizer has experienced those weeks where the schedule got so busy, there was practically no time for regular routines of putting away, cleaning, prepping foods ahead of time, and even significant rest, connection, and down time.  Sure, I was rocking the schedule, doing a lot, experiencing a lot, having fun, and feeling like we were not missing out on anything.   Many probably know this feeling well.  You are tired when you get home from all of your activities, errands, and commitments, but yet there is still so much to do at home.  Dishes are in the sink, toys everywhere, corners of who knows what collecting, and scraping together sandwiches at the last minute for the kid’s lunches.  I hate these weeks!  I hate the feeling so much, when I feel that feeling creeping up on me, I immediately look at my calendar to see if I have down time in the next few days.  I call this my “Rest & Recovery” time to work some order back into the house and my sanity!  If I see crazy schedules during those days, I start saying no.  There is so much power in saying no.  Ask yourself, what will my family and I really benefit more from, this appointment/commitment in my schedule, or some time to recover, plan, and enjoy just simply being together?  There can even be some truly amazing bonding time as a family doing household tasks together.   Also, have you ever experienced a peace and calming when taking care of a sick child?  Maybe it was quite a disappointment to have to cancel events and miss out on some things because of the sickness, but instead the downtime brought some much needed time not only for your little one to rest and recover but for you to do so as well?  Maybe you were finally able to take that much needed nap while snuggling.  Or, perhaps you finally got to purge and organized the playroom during that time.  Maybe you and your child had some amazing time reading books and playing board games.  Embrace ”Rest & Recovery” time!

4)      Determine Your Focus
Overscheduling.  Unfortunately it’s become almost epidemic in today’s modern family life.  We are overscheduling ourselves and our children.  It’s something I personally struggle with.  There is simply so much in this world that interests me, I want to do it all!  I want to learn more and experience a lot.  Nowadays we have so much at our fingertips with the Internet, we are exposed to things we didn’t even know we wanted to do!  Pinterest projects, YouTube Videos of fashions and DIY Projects to get to “one day.”  All of this can add to feelings of stress, anxiety, and inadequacy.  We want to do it all, and others appear to be doing it all on social media outlets like Facebook.  We may even go to the craft store and get all the supplies for those DIY projects and start doing some of them, only to be sideswiped by life’s happenings and not able to finish, then cycling back to those negative feelings.  I’m not saying don’t do those projects.  You do however need focus.  Determine the projects, activities, sports, classes, etc. that are most important to you and your family.  My kids love practically every class I’ve taken them to.  If there was enough time in the week, they would be going to Gymnastics, Tennis, Karate, Baseball, Soccer, Dance, Scouts, Music and Swimming!  Instead of packing the schedule out, we pick a few, making sure it will not interfere with other important things in our schedule like family and church time, and also that much needed “Rest & Recovery” time.  Some activities can be done seasonally too.  Pick only a few activities, being realistic with your schedule.  Be sure to communicate with your family members about what their desires are, and figure out what are the most valuable activities. 

5)      Sleep Itself
Finally, there is so much value in sleep itself.  The statistics speak for themselves.  In September, 2015, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) declared insufficient sleep as a public health problem.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that school aged children need at least 10 hours of sleep daily, teens need 9-10 hours, and adults need 7-8 hours.   (More of this data can be referenced at:
If you are simplifying a lot in your life, working “Rest & Recovery” time into your schedule and have less possessions, there should be ample time for you to work more sleep in.  If you have a newborn, you are probably reading this and thinking – yeah right, that’s not going to happen!!  Hang in there!  When my kids were babies, and when I actually took the advice of “sleep when the baby sleeps,” I have to admit, I felt pretty good.  It didn’t happen all the time, but there was some great value in that advice – it really worked!  Sure my house was a wreck, but we recovered!  Give yourself some slack and know that you are doing your health and your family a huge favor by putting more priority and value on sleep.   Also, embrace your status as a night owl or early bird.  I am a night owl.  I do some of my best thinking and creating at night.  You will never be able to get me out of bed at 5am.  That’s just simply not going to happen!  I have even slept in clothes for the next day on an occasion where I had to awaken super early.  I love sleeping in! (When I can, which is not too often!)  I know some other moms who thrive by waking up at 4am, and are very productive, doing laundry, packing lunches, checking e-mail, working out and cooking breakfast before their family wakes up.   Embrace what you are, and thrive!