Have you tried driving to work with a flat tire or empty gas tank? Children are often expected to straighten and clean their room facing similar obstacles. Picture a child trying to make a bed that is wedged between large pieces of furniture, or hang clothes on a rod twelve inches above their head. Make it easier for children to maintain their room by keeping things streamlined, right-sized, and compartmentalized.
Simplify clothing by making colors easy to mix and match and keeping only what is currently in use. Store or pass on anything that doesn’t fit or is rarely worn. Avoid morning chaos by helping your child pre-plan outfits for the entire week.
Decide how many toys and books your child can comfortably enjoy and keep the rest out of sight. Rotate once a month. If space in the child’s room is limited, create a play area in the basement or spare bedroom and keep just a few of their very favorite toys and books in their room.
Bottom line: Do not use your child’s room as extra storage space for you.Using your child’s closet to hold your out-of-season clothing, or stashing your luggage under their bed, does not foster a sense of “ownership” or encourage responsibility.
Inaccessibility to storage is a primary reason things don’t get put away. Lower closet rods and shelves so that children can reach them. Hooks hung low are easier than hangers for bulky coats and jackets. Utilize high spaces for out-of-season or rarely used items, or for toys and books on rotation.
Make sure furniture is the right height and size. Select a dresser low enough so that the child can reach the top. Provide a waste basket that is large enough for the amount of trash children typically generate.
Bottom line: Store small items in small containers, large items in big containers. Check out your local discount or home supply store for ideas.
Use small plastic bins or dishpans for loose items like socks and gloves. Keep school supplies and small toys together by storing them in lidded plastic shoe boxes. Nestle bins and boxes into drawers or on shelves to keep items separated and organized.Hanging shoe bags work well for various items that need organization. Small items kept in rolling carts with drawers can be wheeled into the closet when not in use.
Bottom line: Label everything. Items kept in drawers, shelves and storage
containers that are labeled are more likely to end up in their proper home.
Labels can be pictures or words depending on your child’s age.

by Mary Sigmann CPO ® | Categories: Teach Your Child To Be Organized | Tagged: | No Comments

Organized kids feel more in control and competent. The entire household is less stressful and runs more harmoniously. If your children establish habits which prevent tardiness, forgotten supplies, and lost homework assignments, they will be happier and so will you.

Teach your kids to plan ahead by encouraging them to ask, “What is my goal, what materials do I need, and what steps are necessary to complete the goal?” Teach the concept of “preparation” by discussing how to plan for future events, tasks or outings. Talk it through step-by-step. Have a planning session each evening to go over the next day’s activities.

Establish a practical routine for each task or responsibility that involves your child. There is security in consistency. Have a standard place and  time for doing homework, and a designated space for jackets, gloves, and backpacks. Set up a center for depositing school work and a regular time to go over it together. Allow your child to select a strategy that works well for them. If they habitually leave the house without their lunch sack or gym shoes, let them
decide the best way to remember.

Help children learn to make decisions by looking at the “who, what, when and where.” If the question is whether to go out for basketball, many things need to be considered. When and where are team practices? Are special shoes, clothes or equipment required, and how much do they cost? Who will pay for that? What about transportation? Are there conflicts with other activities or duties?
If the child develops a sense of how each decision impacts other aspects of their lives, they will make better choices as they grow older and life gets more complex.
Assign age-appropriate responsibilities. Give kids a role in the household which allows them to assist the family in operating efficiently. Explain how feeding the cat ensures the health of the family pet and helps out other family members who rely on them to do that job.
Help your child learn to anticipate the consequences of their actions. What happens if homework is not ready on the day it is due?  What are possible consequences of leaving a pair of shoes in the middle of the floor? Encourage kids to write down responsibilities on paper. A chore chart, or calendar showing what assignments are due and when, can instill respect for goals. Charting and list-making are skills that will have lasting benefits as the child grows older.

As your child begins to demonstrate behaviors that show pre-planning, consistency and responsibility, praise them. Let them know that they are capable, lovable and good. By all means set clear rules regarding behavior that will not be tolerated, but notice the good things too. You are instilling organizational and decisionmaking skills and building character – and doing it with love.

by Mary Sigmann CPO ® | Categories: Teach Your Child To Be Organized | No Comments

There comes a time for most people when they decide they need or want less “stuff.” Often individuals decide to downsize or eliminate some of their accumulated possessions because they want to realize the benefits of a simpler life. Some do it because they get tired of all the attention and maintenance that possessions demand. Whatever the motivation, decluttering is a process that can be accomplished easily and effectively and will also bringing greater peace, freedom and control into one’s life.

A great way to begin the decluttering process is to start “subtracting.” Look all around the house for anything that could easily be thrown out or immediately given away. The idea is to create some space and get the “energy” moving. Once you start to “subtract” you will experience greater well-being, and a more optimistic outlook.

Pick a place to start and stick to it until that area is decluttered. Many people get overwhelmed because they get easily distracted and never complete the organizing task they started. Once you complete an area you will be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment that will provide the motivation to keep going.

Whenever we declutter, it is normal to experience emotional attachments to our possessions. These attachments are not easy to break. However, if you take a realistic look at the condition of these things, you may realize that they are outdated, worn out or no longer useful. Although letting go of these things may be difficult, making the commitment to keep only what is truly meaningful, necessary and irreplaceable, can make it easier. Through the decluttering experience we can learn how holding on to too many possessions can limit our freedom and our space.

The most important thing to remember is that your attitude can make all the difference in the ease and success of your project. If you approach organization or decluttering  with the end in mind — a simpler, happier, more carefree life — you will enjoy the process so much more.

by Mary Sigmann CPO ® | Categories: How To Declutter | No Comments

10 tips for better time management, efficiency and organization

1. “Bookend” your day with planning and organization.
When you start your day with a plan and an organized office, you are able to hit the ground running and accomplish so much more. Each morning, review and revise your “to do” list. At the end of the day straighten up your work space and create your schedule for the following day.

2. Focus on the task at hand.
It is hard to do more than one task well at a time. Put your energy into doing one thing right and move on to the next thing when you are done. If necessary, keep a running list of what needs to be done as new tasks pop up.

3. Set aside a block of uninterrupted time during the day.
Let everyone you work with know that you are unavailable for phone calls, appointments or questions and during this time. Use your undisturbed time to reorganize or for catching up on tasks you usually don’t have time for.

4. Take control of your email.
Delete emails on a regular basis, check email only at designated intervals, and keep as little in your in-box as possible. If you feel like you are drowning in emails, set aside a block of time just for the task of getting them under control.

5. Develop a “short call” mindset.
Courtesy is expected in business conversation, but you can still make brevity your intention without being rude. Replace, “How are you?” with “How may I help you?” Open-ended questions like, “How are you?” invite lengthier responses.

6. Establish boundaries on how long you will allow meetings to last.
The key to an effective (and brief) meeting is preparation. Let everyone know ahead of time how long the meeting will last, the topics that will be addressed, and the information you expect each person to contribute. Stick to the plan and discourage sidetracking.



7. Make a single page list of frequently called phone numbers and post
it near your phone.
It takes more time than you realize to look up a number on your computer or rolodex. Have the numbers you need most often at the tip of your dialing finger.

8. Group similar tasks for maximum efficiency.
Returning phone calls, answering emails, writing personal notes, and running errands are all categories of tasks that are done more easily if grouped together. When you make one phone call it is easier to just keep moving down the list.

9. Keep separate in-boxes for different categories of papers.
Try separating your papers into these categories: items that are immediate and important; items that are “on hold” or pending; items that are ready to be filed, passed on to someone else or reviewed at a later time.  Keep the in-boxes on a surface near your desk.

10. Keep your desk clutter-free.
Keep your stapler, tape dispenser, extra pens and other supplies in a drawer rather than on top of your desk. Display photos, awards and knickknacks on walls or shelves, and reserve the top of your desk for the essentials – your telephone, computer, and today’s paperwork.

by Mary Sigmann CPO ® | Categories: For Busy Executives | No Comments

Many people entertain the idea of getting more organized. It’s well known that organization
is the key to growing business, creating more balance in our personal lives, using time to
the greatest advantage and managing resources for optimal benefit and return. Yet for
many, making time for getting organized hasn’t become a priority. Now is not only the
perfect time, but a necessary step to help move through the current economic downturn
and set the stage for the next chapter of life. Economic down times offer the perfect
opportunity to assess your current financial and business situation, make new plans and
cultivate gratitude.

In fact, right now, you can’t afford NOT to be organized. Not only has the time and
opportunity come, but the necessity for organization is greater than ever. In these times, it
is essential to make sure everything counts – money, time and personnel at the
business/financial level, and energy, attitude and action on the personal level. Unless you
are organized, you risk wasting precious resources, and may allow situations to dictate your
state of mind and keep you stuck in old patterns that are no longer working.
Here are five tips to be better organized as you navigate this economy.


1. Conserve & Manage Resources
Get a thorough idea of what you currently have – money, contacts, supplies, opportunities.
Take one sheet of paper for each category and make a list. Once you have a clear picture,
ask yourself where or how you can use what you have more economically or create new
opportunities. Use information for planning and take action. Redesign your spending plan,
reconnect with contacts, organize your supplies so that you no longer duplicate purchases,
and move forward on potential business.


2. Plug up & Prevent Leaks
Ask yourself where you are wasting money or time and plug up the leak. If a daily
cappuccino is busting your budget, start making coffee at home. If you are spending too
much at the video store, check out the DVD selection at the library. Prevent future leaks by
canceling subscriptions, catalogs, and stop using shopping as entertainment. Check out
opportunities for volunteerism and use your spare time for the greater good.


3. Become More Conscientious
Create a new mindset that says you will pay better attention to every action you take every
minute of the day. Pay attention to what you think, say and do. Watch yourself as you
spend money and time. Check yourself as you experience emotions, especially fear,
irritability, worry and anger. When you notice you are overspending or caught up in a
negative emotion, take out your journal and write a few sentences about it. This will help
you keep better control of your finances and attitudes and keep you on a more even keel.
Staying balanced is equivalent to staying organized.


4. Gain New Appreciation for What You Have
It’s easy to look at what you’ve lost, can’t do, aren’t getting, and want, but don’t have.
Focus on what you do have and use those assets to your advantage. You may have worries
and concerns, but you also have trusted and helpful people in your life to help you
brainstorm solutions to current challenges. Things may feel tough, but when you remember
that you have your health, your family and loved ones, friends and colleagues, hope is
www.organizer-coach.comrenewed and the future seems brighter. Look at the big picture. You know what’s truly
important and what’s not.


5. Utilize Down Time to Strategize
Use down time to review and refine your contact list. Write letters or emails to reconnect
with prior clients or colleagues. Update your website, rewrite your resume, and redesign
your marketing materials. Clean out your files, desk drawer, storage cabinet, closets,
garage, basement or attic. How many times in life do we get extra time to return to
projects, revisit a craft or go back to a sport? What about that book you were writing, the
business you thought about starting, the friends or family you’ve thought about visiting, the
topic you’ve wanted to research, the skill you would love to hone? While you are engaged in
new activity, that new prospect is emerging, new ideas are cooking and strategies are being
created. Let go of the old patterns, the and the disorganization, and you may just walk right
into a new world of opportunity.
Disorganization sends the message that you are unprepared, disheartened and befuddled –
you can’t afford that. Getting organized now will not only pave the way for greater income
and opportunity, but when new prospects start to emerge you’ll be more prepared than ever
to greet them.