Sunday, December 18, 2005

Holiday Tip #10: Have Fun!

Christmas week is here! And Hanukkah and Kwanzah are week from tomorrow. I find this timing very appropriate to write the last of our 10 Tips for Stress Free Holidays (or at least holidays with less stress!).

Tip #10: Have Fun!

I founded Simply Organized Life with the goal to help others find more time and space in their lives for things that really matter. That includes having fun! Fun is an essential element in enjoying our lives and is especially important at this time of the year.

Hopefully our tips have helped you to be better prepared for this holiday season, so you can take time to relax and have fun! This holiday season please be sure to do whatever it is that makes you smile, laugh and enjoy life.

It has been so much fun this past year to work with and help our clients put order back into their lives one baby step at a time! Thank You!

We at Simply Organized Life look forward to helping more wonderful people in the New Year!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Holiday Tip #9: The Reason!

As we near the end of our 10 Tips for Stress Free Holidays, it seems time for contemplation over why we do all that we do during the holiday season. This leads us to our next tip.

Tip #9: Remember the Reason for the Season!

No matter what your faith or what holiday you will celebrate this season, we at Simply Organized Life hope that you will take time to remember why you celebrate. At the end of the day, that is what matters!

Our friend Jennifer who lives in Vienna, sent me a great little e-mail that may have wandered into a few of your in boxes during this season. It is called "1st Corinthinans Christmas" and while it is not inclusive of all the faiths, there was one line that really sums up my point behind this tip.

"If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata, but do not focus upon the Babe in the manger, I have missed the point."

So, no matter if you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzah or whatever holiday this season....remember why!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Holiday Tip #8: Imperfection!

Here in Michigan the snow is falling and creating the perfect winter scene outside of my window. This is the kind of scene that really gets me into the holiday spirit. It makes me want to create the perfect holiday scene inside of my home too! Before I get carried away with strings of white lights, we should talk about holiday tip #8.

Tip #8: Accept Imperfection!

I must admit it...I am an HGTV junkie and I love all of those holiday decorating shows that are on TV now. They make the prettiest things and absolutely gorgeous scenes for the home and garden. I recently saw an episode of Divine Design where Candice Olson not only put up a tree with all kinds of homemade decorations that people in the real world have no time to make, but she also painted and changed around two rooms! Don't even get me started on Christmas at the White House!

This makes for great entertainment in my humble opinion (my husband says it's boring and would rather watch an old violent movie with Arnold in it). But entertainment value not withstanding, I think these shows send a message that everything about our holidays needs to be perfect. This in turn, causes a lot of stress at an already stressful time.

If we can accept that things will not be perfect at the holidays, we can relax and enjoy the blessings that we do have. Let's face it, most of our homes do not look like the homes on HGTV, the kids and pets will not always behave perfectly (not mention those relatives that always seem to get on your nerves) and no matter how much money we have (or do not have) there will never be enough time to make everything "perfect".

I still enjoy my HGTV, while looking at the simple and somewhat sparse holiday decorations in my home. After all, with or without fancy decorations we can still have a wonderful holiday season!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Small Group Event

Yesterday evening at Panera Bread on Washtenaw, I met informally with five moms of small children to share organizing and time management tips. All of the women have husbands in graduate school at the University of Michigan, which creates its own unique challenges to getting and staying organized.

Pictured left to right: Kate, Shannon, Carolyn (Simply Organized Life), Maribelle, and Holly (missing from photo: Carol)

Thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to come out on a cold December evening! Thanks also to the stranger that took our photo!

Please leave a comment or contact Simply Organized Life if you are looking for a formal or informal speaker for your group.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Holiday Tip #7: Clutter Free!

As we get closer to the holidays it is natural to feel a little pressure to get that "perfect gift" for a family member or friend. Rather than rush out to the mall or the nearest big box store, consider gifts that are both useful and clutter free.

Tip #7: Give Clutter Free Gifts!

The last thing most of us need is more "stuff" in our homes or offices. Now, if the folks that you are buying for have asked for an Xbox and you were lucky enough to get your hands on one this year, by all means give them what they want. But for the rest of the people on your list (and if you couldn't get an Xbox), try to give a gift that won't be looked upon as clutter come July or August.

What is a clutter free gift?
Simply Organized Life considers clutter free gifts to be anything that the person receiving has requested, can use and/or will not take up much space. This can include consumable items such as food, home spa items, bird seed, or basically anything that will be used up in the months ahead. Clutter free gifts can also include services such as oil changes, snow removal, spa treatments, or any kind of service that offers gift certificates. It can also be a charitable donation in honor of that person that has everything.

In addition, a clutter free gift does not have to cost anything but your time and can be homemade. In a recent conversation, a friend told me that she (along with her siblings) prepares and gives complete frozen meals to their elderly parents. What a wonderful way to share and care for someone you love!

A note about gift cards
Gift cards are great, but are not always clutter free. When working with clients, we at Simply Organized Life often stumble across unused gift cards. Please be sure that the gift card is for a store or restaurant that the person frequently visits and that using the gift card will not add more clutter to their space.

In our next post we will share more on Tip #8: Accept Imperfection!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Holiday Tip #6: Ask for It!

Our intention with this holiday tip is not to focus on material gift giving or to make demanding requests of our family members. The intent is to get away from giving meaningless gifts or worse yet, something that might be considered clutter several months from now.

Tip #6: Ask for What You Want (and ask others what they want!)

The truth of the matter is that most people stress over holiday gift giving. This tip is meant to eliminate some of that stress both on the giving and receiving ends.

By letting your loved ones know what you want for the holidays you help them give a gift that will be appreciated for years to come. Furthermore, what you might want for the holidays may not be material at all. This is especially true for our older relatives that probably have everything that they need, but just want to spend some time with family.

You should also ask others what they want for the holidays. If your friends and family are open with you this tip can save you time, frustration and money---especially if you happen to be a last minute shopper.

There will be people that readily tell you what they want. Then there are others that will say something like "oh, I don't need anything" and you darn well they will expect a gift come holiday time. For these more challenging folks on your list, look and listen for cues they might give you regarding something they might need or be able to use.

By sharing our wishes with our friends and family during the holidays, we get away from frenzied holiday shopping and focus on what is really important during this special time.

For tip #7 we will write about and provide suggestions for clutter free gifts!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Holiday Tip #5: Declutter!

We have talked about prioritizing how you use your time and money during the holidays. Now it is time to talk about how you use your space during the holidays.

Tip #5: Declutter your Space!

If you plan to decorate for the holidays at home or in the office, all of your beautiful decorations will be overshadowed if clutter abounds. Now is the time to declutter! This can be very empowering! Not only will you make room for those beautiful decorations, you will also make room for new gifts!

Make room for decorations!
Holiday decorations are usually displayed in the most public areas of a home or office. These are the areas that you want to look nice for visitors all through the year, but especially at the holidays. If you are overwhelmed by clutter in these spaces, focus on one area at a time that you plan to decorate. For example, if you want to decorate your staircase banisters, focus on clearing the steps of any clutter.

Make room for new gifts!
This tip is great for anyone that expects to receive a gift during the holidays. At Simply Organized Life we teach our clients to practice the "one in, one out" rule. This means that if something new comes into your space, something old must go out. This simple rule can keep clutter from taking over! By letting go of some things before the holidays, you can free up space and share with others that may be less fortunate. It is also a great lesson to teach children!

January is GO (Get Organized) Month! Watch for more tips on decluttering next month! is a process, not an event!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Holiday Tip #4: A Financial Plan!

December is upon us and we hope our tips are eliminating stress in your life! One of the biggest stressors (not just at the holidays) is money. Our tips will help you keep spending in check this holiday season. You will thank us come January!

Tip #4: Make a Financial Plan (And Stick to It!)

Rather than calling it a "budget" we like to call it a plan for financial success during the holidays. The goal is not to add to debt in January! You can do this by being in control of what you spend and save this season.

Each of our 10 Tips builds upon the tip before it. By keeping it simple (Tip #1), creating a plan (Tip #2) and using a calendar (Tip #3) you are prioritizing how you want to spend your time this season. You also need to prioritize how you spend your money.

The first step is to determine the overall amount that you can afford to spend on the holidays without adding to your debt in January. Once you have your "magic number" you need to break down your spending plan into categories. This should include not only gifts, but also extra food, decorations, utilities, and travel expenses to name a few.

The difficult part for most people is sticking to the plan. If you find you are a little too freewheeling with the credit card, you may want to make an envelope with cash for each of your categories. Another alternative is to purchase prepaid credit cards for in person or on-line shopping. It is okay to use your regular credit card, as long as you can pay for all of your purchases when the bill comes.

In our next tip, we will make room for wise purchases by decluttering your space!