Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Simplify Your Life (Part 2 of 2)



Living a simple life is easier said than done these days. Many of us are overwhelmed by the vast amount of information and stuff in our lives. We crave organization and simplicity, but often do not know where to start.

Here are some easy ways to simplify your life. With these tips, I hope you will find getting and staying organized a positive experience. 

1) Create Empty Space
This is meant both literally and figuratively. Carving out empty space in our homes, offices, schedules and minds can be very freeing. For the month of May, pick one small area in your home or office that you can empty out. Be careful not to overbook your calendar and leave some empty space, just for you.  

2) Limit Distractions
There are so many ways to limit distractions in daily life, but we overlook most of the them or perhaps feel the need to be distracted or "busy". Some of the distractions I try to avoid include: multitasking, text messaging, recreational shopping, television and magazine subscriptions (although I am a huge fan of the free magazine exchange at my public library). 

3) Learn to Say "No"
This one is particularly difficult for those of us who are people pleasers. I have seen it over and over again, where wonderful people (mostly women) take on too much at their own expense. Taking on too much can run you ragged and leave little time to maintain organization at home or work. 

If you need help simplifying and organizing your life, please contact Carolyn to schedule a complementary telephone consultation. 


Carolyn Anderson-Fermann is a public speaker, organizing expert and founder of Simply Organized Life. Carolyn will be presenting "Spring Clean Your Clutter" at Ann Arbor Rec & Ed. on May 10, 2013. Register now with Ann Arbor Rec & EdBring a friend to this seminar and you both will receive a free 1 hour consultation with Carolyn via telephone. Just introduce yourself on May 10th to sign up. 

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Simplify Your Life (part 1 of 2)

Photo Credit:  Carolyn Anderson-Fermann

It seems that finally spring has sprung here in Michigan. Today was the first day I sent my children off to school without winter coats, although they insisted upon wearing their hats and mittens, perhaps feeling naked without them after a long winter. 

I look forward to washing and packing away all our winter gear in the days and weeks ahead. I want to simplify and create space for the new season.

Spring and summer are always such busy times that can make us feel disorganized, stressed and overwhelmed. A little simplification can go a long way in helping us enjoy our warm weather days more. 

I would love to hear what you will do to simplify your May! 

Carolyn Anderson-Fermann is a public speaker, organizing expert and founder of Simply Organized Life. Carolyn will be presenting "Spring Clean Your Clutter" at Ann Arbor Rec & Ed. on May 10, 2013. Register now with Ann Arbor Rec & EdBring a friend to this seminar and you both will receive a free 1 hour consultation with Carolyn via telephone. Just introduce yourself on May 10th to sign up. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tackling Paper Clutter


This morning I am catching up on some of my own paper clutter using these techniques, originally posted in September 2012. 

Speaking at Multiple Births Canada National Conference, Oct. 2011
Since founding Simply Organized Life in 2005, the question I am most asked is "What to do with all those pesky paper piles?"

After a busy summer filled with lots of activities outside the home, I found myself with some sizable paper piles in my office. I made the piles go away and am only left with my current project folders on my desk. Here's what I did: 

1) Set Aside the Time

Being a professional organizer, I know how to handle paperwork and (gasp) actually enjoy it. However, several rounds of house guests and our busy summer schedule kept me away from my home office where the paper piled up. At the first opportunity, I scheduled time in my calendar to deal with the paper on my desk. 

2) Just Do It

Paper piles can be pretty intimidating. It is much easier (and more fun) to check your e-mail, surf Facebook or do just about anything other than sorting through the papers. What I find works for me is to set a timer for a short amount of time (say 15 minutes) and just starting dealing with the paper pile top down. If a bill appears, I pay it. If project papers appear, I schedule time in my calendar or create a project file. Most people can handle those types of action papers, but what about those pesky papers that you *might* need to refer to in the future? 

3) Put it Away 

Everyone needs a system for those little bits of paper that we want to refer to in the future. The thing is that if we cannot retrieve those papers when we need them, what is the point of keeping them? 

I utilize a combination of paper files, like the family binder I referred to in my "Get Organized for Back to School" post, and am slowly shifting to a paperless system for other things. For my children's artwork I either take a photograph or scan the items. These things are stored by month and year with our digital photos. For other things, like interesting magazine articles or websites, I scan and save to Evernote, which I can then search at a later date.  

Source:  www.evernote.com
Carolyn Anderson-Fermann is a public speaker, organizing expert and founder of Simply Organized Life. Carolyn will be presenting "Spring Clean Your Clutter" at Ann Arbor Rec & Ed. on May 10, 2013. Register now with Ann Arbor Rec & Ed. Please note that Carolyn was not compensated by any vendors for this blog post. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Seminar: "Spring Clean Your Clutter"

Archive Photo: Carolyn Speaking on Organization
The evening of Tuesday, April 9, 2013 I had the pleasure of speaking to one of the women's groups at Dexter United Methodist Church. This is a great bunch of ladies and I was honored to be asked for a return visit. I first spoke to this group in December of 2011.

Just in time for the church's spring rummage sale, I shared four simple steps to clear clutter anywhere in your home or office. If clutter is holding you back from reaching your goals, here's where to start:

Step 1: Pick Your Project
Write down the first area that comes to mind and your vision for this space. 
Please feel free to share your project area or ask questions in the comments!

Step 2: Break It Into Small Steps
Consistent small blocks of time yield amazing results and keep you organized. 

Step 3: Set Goals
Use a calendar to aid in making sure your goals are measurable and attainable.

Step 4: Get Going
Keep it if you use it, you love it and it makes you feel good. Everything else can go!

Would you like more details on how to "Spring Clean Your Clutter"? Check out my May 10, 2013 seminar with Ann Arbor Rec & Ed

Do you need a speaker for your group? Check out the seminars page on the Simply Organized Life website

Carolyn Anderson-Fermann is a public speaker, organizing expert and founder of Simply Organized Life. Do you need to conquer the clutter in your space? Carolyn will be presenting "Spring Clean Your Clutter" through Ann Arbor Rec and Ed on Friday, May 10, 2013. Register with Ann Arbor Rec and Ed

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Planning for International Travel with Kids

For all of you headed overseas this summer, here are some helpful tips originally posted in August 2012.
Photo Source: List Mama, www.listplanit.com

Do you have family overseas? Do you dream of expanding your vacation horizons, but worry about traveling internationally with your children? 

Check out my guest blog on planning for international travel with kids over at ListPlanIt, a membership based website full of any list you could imagine. Why reinvent the wheel?

My guest blog is a time-line based list of steps for any family planning a trip overseas. Many of the steps can apply to domestic travel as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Spring Clean Clutter

Photo Credit:  Carolyn Anderson-Fermann

As a result of our long Michigan winters, the rebirth of spring seems so much sweeter. It's a fresh start. If you have been reading this blog or my newsletter for any length of time, you know that I love fresh starts.

Spring is a great time to give ourselves a fresh start when it comes to clutter. The thought of a traditional spring cleaning can be really overwhelming. These quick tips are intended to get you moving in the right direction without a major overhaul. 

Do you have "stuff" that is blocking your way both physically and mentally? Perhaps it is clutter on your bathroom counter that makes it difficult to clean? Or maybe those papers everywhere draining your energy? 

If you have clutter stopping you in your tracks, try these quick tips to help you spring clean your clutter:

1) Pick One Flat Surface
Select one flat surface in your home or office that really bothers you when cluttered. Now schedule time in your calendar to clear this clutter. Once you have a clear surface, declare this sacred space and set aside 5 to 10 minutes daily to maintain clarity.  

2) Shred the Old
If piles of old papers are bogging you down, do a little spring cleaning and sort out everything that needs to be shredded. From Saturday, April 13, 2013 Recycle Ann Arbor will once again be offering shredding services. The charge is $6 per banker box or $4 per grocery bag. Readers outside of the Ann Arbor area can check with their local recycling authority, credit union or bank to look for shredding events in their area.  

3) Dispose of Medicine Properly
Saturday, April 27, 2013 is National Take Back Drugs Day. Through the Drug Take Back Network, you can properly dispose of medicine on April 27th and on most days in many communities throughout the United States. Search (top left) the Simply Organized Life blog for more tips on organizing and disposing of medicine.

If you need a little extra help decluttering your home or office, please contact Carolyn to schedule a complementary telephone consultation and be your best in 2013. I work throughout Washtenaw County in person and also offer virtual services over the telephone, Skype or Facetime.

Carolyn Anderson-Fermann is a public speaker, organizing expert and founder of Simply Organized Life. To receive a free copy of Carolyn's "Secrets of a Simply Organized Life" and a monthly subscription to the e-newsletter "Your Simply Organized Life" sign up here

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Organizing Cosmetics

The Clinique counter at Macy's in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

It is Clinique bonus time at Macy's (until April 14, 2013 or until supplies last). I do not wear much make-up, so I can pretty much get by on purchasing my favorite powder and the samples from the bonus bag. 

Most of us are pretty good at stocking up on our favorite cosmetic bonuses, but not so good at letting go and organizing our make-up. Cosmetics do have a shelf life and it is important to throw out old or expired items. 

The same day I make my bonus purchase, I take everything out of its package and write the purchase date on the individual items in permanent marker. This gives me a good indication of when I need to throw out old items and how long cosmetics last in my drawer so I do not overbuy. After dating the new purchases, I throw away the old duplicates. This is also known as the "one in, one out rule" in maintaining organization. 

I keep my cosmetics laid out in a bathroom drawer in the order that I apply each item. This saves precious morning time. I also keep a makeup bag (a "free" bonus of course!) in the drawer, so that when I travel everything is easily placed in the bag. In addition to the cosmetics' bag, I have a couple of cups holding brushes, a nail file, nail polish; as well as a small organizer for lip stick, mascara and small brushes. 

This is a really easy way to organize cosmetics, which saves time and money!

Carolyn Anderson-Fermann is a public speaker, organizing expert and founder of Simply Organized Life. To receive a free copy of Carolyn's "Secrets of a Simply Organized Life" and a monthly subscription to the e-newsletter "Your Simply Organized Life" sign up here