Eileen Roth

Eileen Roth is a productivity expert and the author of Organizing For Dummies. She helps people be better organized in the Office, Home, Time Management and Student Organization.

Want to Simplify your Home?

The first week of August is Simplify your Life Week.

The first and fastest thing you can do is:          Get rid of the visible piles.

Piles can occur in any room of the house.  The most common areas are:      

  • Kitchen counters
  • Dining room table
  • Family room tables and couches
  • Master Bedroom
  • Other Bedrooms (including Spare)
  • Bathrooms
  • Home Office
  • Front Entryway

 Just removing the piles from your eyesight will dramatically improve your stress.  However, if you just toss items into a drawer or closet,  you haven’t accomplished anything.  Your mind will know the piles still exist, just in another place.

So take the time this week to get rid of the piles. AND Tell yourself that you will not start any new piles.

Make your new mantra      =            NO MORE PILES.

Challenge: Next 30 days – no more piles!

I challenge you to do this for the next 30 days.

Make August “NO MORE PILES” month, and you will start to create a habit. Continue that habit, and you will see a drastic change in your lifestyle. You will reduce your stress and feel so much more relaxed. You won’t see piles everywhere, and you will find things fast.

Any piles you remove will simplify your life!

2 Mistakes that keep you Disorganized

The obvious first mistake that keeps you disorganized is that you don’t put things away.

Instead you put something down, thinking you will take care of it later. That’s the start of a possible pile. Something not in the right place.

Next thing you know, something goes on top of the first piece. – There’s your pile. It starts with just 2 items. And by the end of the day something else is added to it. Now there’s 3 pieces.  It’s definitely a pile!

And later something else goes on top of those 3 things until there’s more, and more, and more. Now you’re suddenly inundated with piles. Piles everywhere.

 The best way that you can stay organized is to do what my parents taught me:

 “Take something out, put it back.” 

 If you’re done using it, put it away, NOW.

  • Not later.  
  • Not tomorrow.
  • Not next week. 
  • Not next month.

 

If it’s put away, it’s not going to end up in a pile. No piles means “almost organized.” What did I say – “almost organized?”

 

The second mistake makes “almost organized” turn into “mostly organized.”

This is the mistake of just putting things away anywhere.  Just tossing items into a hall closet or onto the bed or floor in the spare bedroom isn’t organized.  When you put something where it doesn’t belong, it might be put away, but it’s not really organized.  If you can’t easily find it, it isn’t organized.

Let’s take clothes on a chair in the bedroom.  That’s still the start of a pile, or added to a pile. Clothes have a place – either the dresser drawer or the closet.   Chances are it’s the closet. Pants go with pants, tops with tops, and skirts with skirts. It’s that simple to organize.  Don’t stick a top in the middle of the pants section. It’s not in its right place.  It’s not organized.

Think logical, even if you’re a creative.

 

So don’t just pick any place. Put everything in its place.

 

Being organized isn’t that hard.  It’s more maintaining it after you get organized so you don’t become disorganized again.

 

 

 

Flip a Coin to Decide? No way!

June 1st was National Flip a Coin day – but that’s a way I’ve ever used to make a decision.  Have you?  Did it work out?

 

 

Natl. Flip a Coin Day

Natl. Flip a Coin Day

 

For me, I like to make lists of whatever I’m doing. When I need to make a decision, I make a different type of list – the Ben Franklin Close.

What’s the Ben Franklin Close?

Ben Franklin close is about looking at an item and deciding it’s plus or minus values.  I prefer to think of it as Pros and Cons in two separate columns.  But there’s more than just Pros and Cons.

Weighing In

You could have an item that has more “weight” = it means more to you than another item.  Those items deserve more “points”.  So on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest, rate the item’s weight to you. 

Be careful to weigh each item individually and not against anything else you have listed.  Here’s a really simple example.  You’re going to balance your checkbook, but the question is do you do it today or another day?  

This example shows you that another day would be better.  You have other things to do.  This is a very simplistic example, but it gives you the idea that something could have high ratings on both sides – Pros and Cons. 

 

   Item:   Balance checkbook today?

  Pros    Rate Cons Rate
 balance off – want to reconcile   8  other priorities   10
need to do before automatic bills come in

  6

enough money to cover auto. withdrawals    9
 more time today   7  can do another day   8
Total   21    27

Next time you need to make a decision that isn’t coming quickly,

make a quick chart listing the pros and cons, but rate them too!

 


 

 

Spring – Fall Cleaning

Why should you Spring or Fall clean your house?

Spring or fall cleaning is doing all the things you don’t do on a regular basis.  That means it’s usually items that rarely get cleaned, mostly just a couple of times a year.  There’s a few items like dusting lamps or cleaning the oven that are probably part of your regular cleaning, but I included them for those that don’t do them in their normal cleaning.  Most items listed in these checklists are not done as part of a normal routine.

What are the benefits?

If you don’t clean some things, you might find yourself having extra work, or even repair bills, which means lost money. 

i.e. Not cleaning your dryer vent hose could cost you in longer drying times as well as problems when lint clogs the vent system. 

Having a house sparkling clean brings a sense of newness.  Something that definitely goes along with spring cleaning — and even the coolness of fall cleaning.  It makes you feel much better about the appearance of your house  especially when guests visit (neighbors, friends, or relatives). 

Spring Cleaning also can be a time to get better organized.  It might mean letting go of items that you no longer use, hence the increased amount of garage sales!   Or it might mean just donating those  items.  

Do you have to clean all at once? 

Of course not.  Sometimes, especially for duct work or heating and cooling cleaning, a professional is better.  And if you do have toddlers running around, it might be easier to have a cleaning service come in. 

There’s also the option to hire out some of the services and do some of it yourself.  For instance, hire someone to wash walls, windows and blinds besides the duct work and dryer vent.  You decide what you want to do and when it’s better to hire someone.

 

Best time to Spring or Fall Clean

If you are the host for family gatherings for the holidays, the best time to do your spring or fall cleaning is just before the holiday. Then your house will be ready for your holiday celebration.  But that doesn’t mean you have to do all the rooms before a holiday, you can just do the ones people will see.  If you want, you can do the rest after the holidays.

 

 Not that you don’t have to clean up after guests leave, but you can relax knowing your main spring or fall cleaning is already done.

 

Actually, I recommend cleaning whatever you can as early as possible. Even if the weather is still cold outside, there’s plenty of things to be done inside.  If you have kids, be sure to work around any spring or fall break schedules so you’re not cleaning when you want time to spend with your kids.

Click here for Spring-Fall Cleaning Checklists – 9 pages 

Print them as a pdf and just check off items as you complete them.

To customize:

Print as an Excel spreadsheet  (97-2003)   OR

Open docs for Google Sheets or other spreadsheet programs

 

Accomplish More Together

Last weekend we had 32 degrees and 7.5 inches of snow in north Scottsdale AZ. My husband actually measured how much snow was on top of a low dividing wall.  I felt like I was back in Chicago looking at a white winter wonderland as the large flakes fell softly to the ground.  In the 14 years I’ve been in this house, it’s been our fourth snow, but this one was the most and lasted more than overnight.  If you drove just 8 blocks south, there wasn’t even a drop of snow on the ground!  You could only see it on the top of the mountains. When we drive north towards our house, we always watch the temperature gauge on the car as it drops about 10 degrees from the main city, but rarely down to freezing.

As my daughter said, she didn’t have to take Max and Miles several hours north to play in the snow – just 40 minutes to Grammie’s house!  After a few sled rides over the back patio, we all went into the side yard (the only place with grass) to play in the snow and build a snowman.

My Fairy Garden buried under 7.5 inches of snow

The snowman was a group accomplishment. Max and Miles (7 and 3)  brought the snow over to our snowman location.  Padding the snowman into shape was mostly from the adults because the boys kept trying to put bulky pieces on top and the snowman would break apart.  That was mostly because the rain on Sat. with the cold temps had made the snow more like ice than fluff.  I really knew it was hard-pack when Max threw a snowball at me — it hurt.  As I suspected, the next day I had a black-and-blue mark on my hip.

Next:  Make the snowman look like more than a mountain of snow!

Since the snowman needed to look like one, we added features to our “mountain”:

  • The arms came from some red poles that were used for a game of horseshoes.
  • The face and buttons came from small rocks the boys found on the ground.
  • The gloves were donated by my daughter.
  • The hat was donated from Max since he had a hood.
  • I didn’t have any carrots, so I used an orange bell pepper for his nose.

I think the bell pepper was better than a carrot – more like a nose!


All in all, we had a grand time.  But it wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t all have the same goal – to build a snowman together. The boys couldn’t have done it themselves, as evidenced by their bringing huge pieces over and toppling half the body several times.

It only happened because there was a common goal and we collaborated.  We helped each other from carrying the snow, to padding it down, to adding the features.  When you collaborate, you not only get different ideas (the bell pepper nose and pole arms with gloves), but you also have more fun. 

What project are you working on that you could collaborate on with others?

National Clean Out Your Computer Day

Most people need a specific day to get things done.  Well today is the day.  It’s National Clean Out Your  Computer Day –  always the second Monday in February.

If you haven’t cleaned out your computer or reviewed your files for some time, you may want to do it today.  McDonald’s corporate sets aside a day a year for their employees to clean out their files.

What about you? 

Your excuse might be: “It’s too much; I need more than a day. “ That’s okay.  I get it.  It could be very overwhelming to tackle this all at once. 

So don’t … 

Don’t tackle it all at once

Get started by taking just a chunk of it. One bite at a time.

Ever eat a Mounds bar? Even though it comes in 2 pieces, I’ll bet you don’t eat a whole piece in one bite!

1 bite at a time
1 bite at a time

Take a chunk out of your digital file clean out. Set yourself a reasonable time limit of at least an hour or two, and clean out as much as you can.  Keep a running note (on paper or a digital file) that let’s you know where you started and where you ended up.  You might want to schedule it for the same time for the next day, or two, or three days.  Or you might want to do it over the weekend, or several weeks, whenever is best for you.

Where to start

The logical place to start is with your first file folder, and keep working through your files.

 But that doesn’t mean you have to start there.  If you have a certain file that has been bothering you for some time, that’s a good place to start cleaning it up.  Just be sure to note that you did those files so you don’t have to review them again.

The better organized you are, the easier it is to find information when you want it. 

Keep less, find it fast.

New Year – 3 Tips to Move Forward

How are your New Year’s Resolutions Going?

Goals at New Year's Eve Party
Friends Toasting New Year’s Eve

Did you make New Year’s Resolutions? Are you progressing? Some unknown person named Jan. 17th as Ditch Your New Year’s Resolutions Day. I don’t think you need to ditch them yet. It takes 30 days to make a habit. If you didn’t get going on your resolutions, it’s okay to get moving forward now. And if you did get going but aren’t moving along, here’s some ideas to re-activate your goals.

Success begets more success.

First, most resolutions are way too big, and you will miss the mark if you just go after the big goal itself. You can usually find several smaller goals within that one big goal. Chunking resolutions/goals down into smaller ones let’s you see more progress. More importantly, you have this sense of accomplishment of the smaller goal, and that makes you want to continue. Success begets more success. For example, your goal to drop 25 pounds won’t happen in one week so you’re smaller goal might be 1-2 pounds a week instead. When you accomplish 1-2 pounds a week, you feel better than only looking at the bigger goal of not reaching losing 25 pounds. When you steadily lose 1 pound a week, that sense of achieving your goal is the motivation to keep going.

Reward yourself.

Second, add another motivator — Take small rewards as you accomplish each step. If you lost 1 pound, have a 1-pound reward. If you organized one drawer, have a reward for that, not just one reward when you organize all your files or your whole office or the whole bedroom – those are bigger goals and get bigger rewards.

Make a list of small rewards that you could take like a cup of hot chocolate or hot apple cider (vs. your usual coffee), or a sweet treat, or reading a novel for 30 minutes. (Don’t do this last one at work unless it’s lunch time.)

Sweet Tray
Copyright Stock Unlimited

Chart it

Third, keep a chart of your progress as you accomplish each step. You could use a spreadsheet or even a handwritten list like: Week 1 small goal = 1 pound, and check it off when you have accomplished it. The same goes for week 2, 3, 4, etc. Reward yourself when you accomplish the 1 pound and don’t reward yourself if you don’t complete the small goal.

Make 2019 your best year ever!

Is your Guest Room ready for Guests?

Visitors Drop by

Helen used to run around her home and pickup the piles whenever a friend came calling.

Then she’d throw those items all into the guest bedroom.  ‘I’ll do it another day”, she would say, and close the room door.

Guest Room Ready for Company?

That was fine until the holidays came.  Helen’s sister wanted to come into town, which meant she needed to use the guest bedroom.  It wasn’t enough to have to worry about meal planning for family and relatives for the holiday, now Helen also had to get the guest room ready.

Before Helen could wash the bedding, she had to get to it.  Those things she constantly tossed in the room were piled on the bed and all over the place: clothes she was going to donate to  Goodwill, books and magazines she had finished reading, stuffed animals and toys from redoing a grown child’s bedroom, suitcases, gifts, etc.

 

 

 

 

It would take her weeks to clear up the piles of clothes, books, toys, boots, shoes, purses, photos, and everything else she had haphazardly tossed in the room to deal with another day.

 

Helen was fed up with having to clean up the bedroom every time a guest came in.  She saw a listing in her local paper, and signed up for my course. She went through the P.L.A.C.E.™ principles, and cleaned up her house.

 

She finally realized that even one pile meant more work to do.

More time lost.

Less time to get ready for the holidays.

 

Helen learned to stop tossing items into the guest bedroom and just deal with them right then. No more waiting for more things to donate, no more piling things in a room.  No more un-piling the guest bedroom just before the holidays.

Helen learned how to be better organized.

And now you can too.

This is the first time this course is available online.  You don’t have to spend any extra time or money to travel to a course.  It’s coming to you.

 

It’s your turn. 

Start the New Year right–get organized now. 

 

There’s only 2 more days left.  The course is closing Sunday night.

 

Cut the Clutter and get organized now.

Sign up here. 

 

 

 

 

Piles, Piles, Everywhere a Pile

Cindy closed doors to her home so she could keep the clutter out of her mind. She might not have been able to see it, but the closed doors constantly reminded her there was a mess behind each of the doors. So not only were her piles growing, but the piles in her mind were also growing. So now her emotional stress and frustration was growing too.

It seems that whenever a pile starts, it’s so much easier to just add to it. You think, “I’ll just put this away when I put away the other things in this pile.” And so the pile keeps growing and growing.

That’s probably how hoarders end up that way. Now I’m not saying you will become a hoarder, that’s unlikely because hoarders don’t seek out help. And if you didn’t want help, you wouldn’t be reading this in the first place.

I was hired once by someone’s son to help his mother as he was out of state. I talked to her on the phone, but once I got to her house, she refused to even let me inside. In fact, she barely opened the door to talk to me. Needless to say, I didn’t get inside to help her clear her hoarding.

Cindy’s main problem was how was she going to find the extra time to get rid of the piles.

Here’s 3 steps to get rid of those piles.

 

  1. No matter how big your pile is, stop making it bigger. Just put away what you were going to add to the pile. Whether it’s putting clothes into the laundry basket or the screwdriver back into the garage on the other side of the house–don’t leave it where it doesn’t belong. Put it where it needs to go.
  2. If you take even just one more thing off that pile to put away too, the pile will start shrinking instead of growing every time you remove something.
  3. Take 2 or 3 or 4 things to put away at the same time, and it will shrink quicker.  You don’t have to do the whole pile at once, but the more you can do at the same time, the faster your pile is gone.

 

Are you holding onto things too long?

How long do you hold onto things

you’re NOT using?

Do you have clothes in your closet that you haven’t worn in over 2 years – either because your weight has changed or they are out of style?

If you really lose that weight don’t you

                     deserve an updated wardrobe?                          

 

Are you still keeping stuffed animals from your child’s youth and they are now in college and don’t want them?

Won’t your grandchildren want new ones

to create their own memories?

 

Do you have toys from kids that they have outgrown?

Tip:  Keep Legos and other similar expensive toys

that will last from one generation to another. 

               Could you donate the rest to a thrift store?           

 

Do you have books you’ve read that you don’t plan on ever reading again?

                Could you pass them on to a hospital surgery waiting room,

a school, or a library book sale?

 

Do you have old, worn, or broken anything you aren’t using?  (kitchen items, clothes, tools, etc.)

Could you take to thrift stores that take these for parts –

especially electric cords.

 

Purging doesn’t have to be done all at once.

You could do one room at a time or one category at a time.

 

Once your purge what you don’t need, do you know how to organize what you are keeping?

 

Do you have systems to keep your home organized?

If you don’t, come learn how to use systems so that everyone can find things in your home without you having to label every cabinet and shelf.

 

If you’re tired of doing all the clean up yourself,

it’s time to learn systems and teach them to your family so that you can ….

 Cut the Clutter to Enjoy Your Life

 

Click here…   hurry – this course is open for a few more days.

We start Monday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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