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.

How to Handle Gifts You Don’t Really Like

holiday gifts

Gifts can be all types of surprises!

The holidays, especially in December, usually involve gifting.  You take a gift to a relative’s house for them having you over for a holiday dinner.  Or you have a holiday dinner and you receive a bunch of gifts. And on Chanukah or Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, you give and receive gifts.

Gifts are probably one of the hardest items to discard.  You feel like this gift was special – maybe it came from your Dear Uncle John who is no longer with us.  Or maybe it came from your child who made it when she was in kindergarten.  The fact that it no longer is “whole” because it has broken or fallen apart seems irrelevant.  Your child made it – you have to keep it no matter how it looks.

The question here is – “Do you?”   

The issue really came home for me when Aunt Babe made me a needlepoint tissue box.  It was designed for a square tissue box, which we did use in the small guest bathroom.   Since I didn’t have one, I know she thought she was being “really sweet” to make one for me.  And I know she probably spent a lot of time needlepointing it.  While I truly appreciated the thought and the work that went into making it;, I still didn’t like it.

One reason I didn’t like it was that it wasn’t easy to clean.  In fact it was impossible. And people with colds would keep the virus hanging onto the tissue box since I couldn’t exactly clean it with Lysol.  But the main reason I didn’t like it was the colors.  At the time our guest bathroom was brown and cream wallpaper.  The tissue box was pink and white.   It absolutely didn’t fit with the décor. In fact you could say it certainly did stand out — just in the wrong way.

What to do? ….  What to do??

If I didn’t use it, I knew my great aunt would be hurt.  She came over for holidays and birthday parties, but otherwise she didn’t just drop in because we lived on the other side of the city in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago.  Aunt Babe lived “in the city.”  We were probably a good hour drive apart.  Normally I would have donated something like this.  But I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.  So on every birthday or holiday that Aunt Babe and Uncle Abe joined us; I took the tissue box out.  I displayed it in the bathroom during those times, and I put it under the sink, hidden in the cabinet, when they weren’t there.

When Aunt Babe passed on, I did donate it.  Just like I had donated the foam fruit stuck with needles and beads from my grandmother.  Some “decorating ideas” from those years just weren’t my taste.  I’m sure at some time, somewhere, someone used them, but they were not for me.

Toss It Rules

My usual rules are:

If the sentiment isn’t worth it, or you dislike cleaning it; let it go.  

My second rule is:  If it isn’t whole, let it go.  (read broken).

The third rule is:  If you can take a picture and enjoy that; let it go.

However, in the case of special items, sometimes you want to  compromise and find a way to not hurt feelings.  Taking it out for special occasions when the person visits was worth sparing Aunt Babe’s feelings.

If you really can’t stand it, there’s always the “dog ate it” or the “kids broke it” excuse.  Hopefully you don’t have to “fib” and can just discard those things that don’t give you pleasure.  If you don’t enjoy it, why keep it?  I hope your holidays give you the gifts you really like.  (PS  Cash is always great for kids, especially since we rarely understand what they w ant.)

 

Leave a comment below.  What gift did you receive that you should discard but still have?

What are you going to do about it?

 

Happy Holidays,

 

Eileen

 

 

Are your Fall Goals too Big?

 Did you set some goals for this quarter?

If so, how are you doing?

Are you taking action?

 

action-running-stock-unlimited

Are you taking action on your goals?

If you feel you are not moving forward, a common reason is:

It is just too big!!!

 

What goal did you set?

Did you decide you are going to revamp your entire office?

 

Cutting the Clutter in your Office means:

  • Clear your desk – desktop AND drawers

    desk, papers, files, office organization,

    Messy Desk

  • Clear your file cabinet(s)  – how many cabinets do you have?
  • Clear your overhead bins
  • Clear the cubicle walls
  • Clear your bookcases
  • Clear your magazine holders.
  • Clear your computer

 

As you can see, there are too many areas to be uncluttered in an “entire” office.

It becomes overwhelming, and no one wants to tackle that much work, especially trying to do it all in one weekend.

 

So what can you do?

If you are looking to organize your office, you can see we have 8 areas.  You might think you could just divide that into 8 weeks and get it all done in 8 weeks.  Don’t fool yourself, they aren’t exactly even areas.

Depending on how many file cabinets you have, that will be the bulk of the work.

But you probably can’t finish a four- drawer file cabinet in one day unless you are already extremely organized and maintain it.

And if you work in a corporate or non-profit environment, you probably can’t take an entire day off to do even one file drawer.   It all depends on how much you have saved and how organized you are.

If you did do a major cleaning out at one time and have maintained that organization, you may not have too much to declutter.  However, if you have never really cleaned out your files, it will take quite awhile.

 

 

So how can you get it all done?

Break it down into smaller chunks, bite-sized pieces,

that you feel you could accomplish in one session, and do it that way.

Piece by piece by piece.

 

 

Bio:  Eileen Roth is a productivity expert, speaker and the author of Organizing For Dummies®.  She has appeared on the Today Show and Oprah.  If you would like free tips on organizing your office, home, or time management,  subscribe here:  http://www.everythinginitsplace.net.

Energize Yourself – Jump Start your Fall Goals!

 

fall-yellow-leaves

 

With so little time left in the year, ask yourself –

 

“How am I doing with my

Goals for 2016?”

 

There are 2 different ways to look at the rest of the year:

 

1. We are in the last 100 days.

Did you realize we are in the last 100 days of the year?

There is still a little less than 100 days to complete whatever your

New Year’s Resolutions were. That’s 1/3 of the year still to go and

plenty of time to get things done before the winter holidays.

 

2. The New Year starts this week.

The Jewish New Year starts now because it is the Fall Harvest.

The Jewish calendar revolves around the seasons, and starts in the fall.

If you are Jewish or not, would a new start, a new year, be good for you?

 

Whether you are considering it as a new beginning or completing 2016,

the cooler weather often brings about more energy than the summer

heat wave and will give you a much needed jump start

to doing more in the fall than you did in the hot summer weather.

 

So which is it for you –

  • the end of the year

OR

  • the beginning of a new year?

Either outlook should push you forward with new momentum.

 

Jump past the summer heat and jump into the Fall energy!

 

What are the goals you are currently working on?  Let us know.

Organizing Your Car

Whether you’re going out to the store or taking that summer road trip, here’s some tips to organize your car, especially if you have children along.

1.  Toss the trash.

The first step to keeping your car organized is to keep it clean and always toss the trash. Every time you return home, empty the car from all the trash and it will stay clean.  If a child had a snack in the car, have them help you take the trash to a garbage can when they leave the car. Obviously if your child is too young, this will probably be your job, but you can start asking them to carry out their own trash after age 3.

Click here to Read More

 

Unusual Stress Reliever

I didn’t know this was going to be such a stress reliever, but I love it.  I have never been an audio learner; when I attend a seminar I can’t tell you what they said unless I look at my notes.  I am more of a visual learner, and maybe even kinesthetic.  I even underline items in a fictional book so I can go back to follow a family background or I would mark some philosophical statement a character would make.  So I did not believe audio books would hold my interest.

About a year ago I heard some audio books on Sirius Radio.  I really enjoyed listening to a variety of different stories.  Unfortunately, I didn’t drive in the car at the same time every day so I wasn’t always able to keep up with a whole book and was disappointed to be left hanging in the middle of a story.  (Sirius has since dropped that programming.)

One time we made a gas stop at a place called the Flying J on the way to California.  I saw audio books in the store.  I quickly chose two different ones to listen to in the car on the long drive.  Because it was not “learning” or non-fiction, the story lines held my interest and I didn’t really have to take notes to learn something.

Since then I have found myself addicted to driving with an audio book on.  I keep one in the car as much as possible.  I try to listen to series books by an author so I can just keep ordering them from the library and listen to each one in order.  In fact when my local library doesn’t have the next audio book I need, I get it sent from another branch to mine so I do not have to drive far to pick it up.  When I have only 1 or 2 more disks to an audio book, I order the next audio book in the series.  And, of course, some books are on mp3 format or can be played as e-audios on your tablet while you drive.

We’ve had a lot of medical issues in the past six months, me included where I suffered from November through the end of February before I had sinus surgery on all 8 sinuses and my husband has had one surgery and another one coming.   One of the ways I can relax is listening to audio books.  It’s an unusual organizing tip – but anything that can reduce your stress is well worth your time!

My best friend says it relieves her stress while driving stop and go for 40 minutes until she can get to work.  She arrives more peaceful than when she was just concentrating on traffic.  My two daughters have also taken up listening to audio books in the car.  If you haven’t tried this stress reliever, consider it.  It’s a great way to start and end your day.

 

M for Magazines

 

I was getting a free magazine.  I don’t even know where it came from, but it has been coming these past few months.  I didn’t sign up for a subscription; they just showed up in the mail box.

Since it came, I naturally put them aside and thought I’d read them.  Unfortunately all they have been doing is piling up.  I have no real interest to read them.  It occurred to me that I should give them to my daughter who can take them to her office where patients might want to read them.    And when the next issue comes, I’ll look for my account number on the plastic wrap and call them and unsubscribe.

You may have even subscribed to magazines you are not reading.  If you are, look inside the cover and call the subscription department and unsubscribe.  Do not let them talk you into “six more months for free”.  I did that once too.  They just piled up.   If you have some piles in your home, just donate them to a doctor’s office or take them to your local library who also sells them in their book corner.

 

 

Traveling for vacation – Plan it out!

We had a large (20 people) family vacation that I organized for a major birthday. To say that planning was involved would be a complete understatement.  There was planning the “hotel” reservations (actually timeshares) for everyone – which was tricky enough to find a place where we all could stay.  Then there was the usual car rentals and flight reservations.

This was far from a “let’s just take it easy vacation” to more of a “let’s plan it all” vacation. We really had to plan because we went to Disneyworld.  Pre-reading really gave us some great tips, like checking out sites for various things like crowd calendars, where to find discount tickets, and dining options.

The last time I went to Disneyworld my children were probably 8 and 10.  In 20 years things have changed, and there are more international visitors too!  Back then we just wandered around from one exhibit to the next.  Now we had to plan what rides we could go on based on very young children’s heights, and then actually decide which ones were more important to get Fast Passes (new Disney system to get into a faster lane thru “time reservations”.)

 For Disney trips

Then there was the online planning through the My Disney Experience app and touring plans app which tracked our dinner reservations, sent reminder messages,  and even told us line wait times for various rides.  I liked the old days of just walking around.  But planning dining reservations seemed to be a must  if you didn’t want to wait hours to eat!

General Vacation Organizing Tips

Because there was so much just from everyone’s timeshare reservation, car rentals, plane flights, crowd calendars, weather, dining reservations,  etc.; I actually found that using a notebook with plastic/vinyl dividers helped to organize all the aspects of the trip.

For your summer vacation, be sure to plan – between reading books, Excel spreadsheets, a binder, and apps, it took all resources to plan this trip, and there was still things we didn’t do.  Don’t forget the raincoat and sweatshirt!  Mother Nature doesn’t care about your plans; she changes her mind –  it was cold and rainy some days.  Oh, and don’t forget the medical phone numbers and meds, we still had to order meds due to new problems.  Planning helps, but the unexpected happens.

Eileen

 

List it!

Like any other project with a definite deadline, I planned ahead. After 3 months of antibiotics not working, I am having sinus surgery this Tuesday.  Surgery might be outpatient, but it still means rearranging things.

First, I made a list of the things that needed to be done before surgery.  I like to list Business in the left-hand column and Personal in the right-hand column on a paper pad about 5×8.  The idea of writing it down vs. putting it on the computer Task List seems to help me when I’m under tight deadlines.  I think it’s the visual in me that says I need to SEE the List and writing vs. typing seems to reinforce it in my head.

It also helps to take into account results – i.e. I know I won’t be able to bend down or lift much for several weeks, so adding to the list of things to do was Clean the House on Sunday.  (Mission accomplished.)  That included another important item – clean the whole bed – washing the blanket and comforter as well as the sheets for maximum health (no sneezing germs still around).

Of course it also means preparing for the day of surgery – choosing button-down clothes, reviewing pre-surgery information and picking up pain pills.

I know I won’t feel like doing much the day of surgery, or days after, so I will want some distractions besides watching TV.  I created a third list – Bedside Setup.   I like to listen to audio books so I chose several to put on the night table along with a CD player and Radio Shack speaker (will not want to wear headphones with ice packs on my face.)  Plus I am adding some print books to read and my tablet (need full charge) to read emails or look up anything.   Though I just realized as I am writing this that wearing glasses may not be comfortable for a day or two.  (Guess TV series catch-up might not happen.)

So in essence, there are 3 lists:  Business, Personal and Preparation.  Your Preparation might be for an upcoming business trip, meeting, or just preparing for tomorrow.   As a former Girl Scout Leader = Be Prepared.

What’s on your To Do List?

Do you also need to be Prepared?

 

PS  I’m not prepared for my husband to take care of me.    I’ve always had to take care of his health issues – should be interesting.

 

2014 – Time to Get Organized

One of the top goals people set for 2014 is:

“This year I am going to get organized.”   

That may be a very large goal that could take all year to accomplish.  So how do you get started?

There are several ways to becoming better organized.

1.  Do it on your own.

Maybe you are good at organizing items.  Your problem may be making the time to do it.  The first step is to break the goal down into smaller parts.

Next, set aside a certain amount of time each week to organize.  When you organize for an hour or less, you barely get started before you are done. And the next time it is as if you are starting over by reviewing what you have done before you can continue.   The longer you can work in one stretch, like 2-4 hours, the more you will accomplish.  Try setting aside longer blocks of time to accomplish more faster, especially if what you want to organize is a large job like your whole office.

2.  Add more knowledge

You may have some organizing ideas, but may not feel you know enough to really get organized.  Reading a book written by a productivity expert can boost your knowledge and make the job easier because someone else has suggested what to do.  This knowledge may kickstart your own ideas on how to personalize your organizational needs.  (Organizing For Dummies® does give many detailed tips about getting organized.)

 

3.  Get professional help by hiring a productivity expert.

Many people can organize their home but can’t organize their office or their files.  A productivity expert can help you get better organized because I have systems to help streamline your organization and can customize it specifically to your needs.  Sometimes hiring an expert is the best and fastest route because it will get done quickly.  (In fact, I needed to talk to a tech expert this week when my internet would not connect and my basic knowledge of restarting my router and modem did not solve the problem.)

 

Are you ready to get organized this year?

Which method will work best for you considering your time is valuable?

Happy 2014!

 

What are your goals?

It is the end of 2013 – time to evaluate the past year and set new goals. Your goals could be in any of these areas:

  •   Business / Career
  •   Education           
  •   Family
  •   Financial
  •   Home
  •   Personal
  •   Physical               
  •   Religious /Spiritual
  •   Social

 

If you set goals in 2013, think about the past year:

  • Which goals did you accomplish?
  • Which ones did you not achieve?
  • Which ones do you want to stop doing?

 

Now write down your 2014 goals.  People who write them down (vs. keeping them “in the back of their mind”)achieve them.  When you write your goals down,  you make a commitment to yourself. 

 

For 2014, 

  • What new goals do you want to set?
  • Which goals do you want to keep doing or renew?

Set your goals and keep your targets in sight.

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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