Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stress Free Holiday Tip #6

Tip #6: Ask for It

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

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 respond openly, 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 know 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. A donation to their favorite cause may be just perfect.

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.

In tip #7 I will share my ideas for clutter free gifts.
Would you like more tips on surviving the holidays without a big mess? The December 1st edition of "Your Simply Organized Life" delivers. Sign up here and receive a free gift.
Carolyn Anderson-Fermann is a public speaker, organizing expert and founder of Simply Organized Life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stress Free Holiday Tip #5

Tip #5: Declutter

I have written about prioritizing how you use your time and money during the holidays. Now it is time to discuss how you use your space during the holidays. Leading up to Thanksgiving, I have been helping many clients declutter their kitchens, family rooms and dining room tables. It is great fun and the rewards are plenty.

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.

Making 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 throughout 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.

Making Room for New Gifts:
This tip is great for anyone that expects to receive a gift during the holidays. Have you ever heard of the "one in, one out" rule? This is a way of achieving equilibrium in your space. 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.

Getting and being organized is a process, not an event. For continuing tips on decluttering, sign up for my monthly e-newsletter "Your Simply Organized Life".
Carolyn Anderson-Fermann is a public speaker, organizing expert and the founder of Simply Organized Life.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stress Free Holiday Tip #4

Tip #4: A Financial Plan!

One of the biggest stressors in life (not just at the holidays) is money. My 10 Stress Free Holiday Tips will help you keep spending in check this holiday season. If you are able to follow these tips, or even some of the tips, you will feel better for it come January 2012.

Rather than calling this a "holiday budget" I 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 these 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.
The next post will focus on making room for wise purchases by decluttering your space.
Carolyn Anderson-Fermann is a public speaker, organizing expert and the founder of Simply Organized Life.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stress Free Holiday Tip #3

Tip #3: Use a Calendar!

If you have been reading my blog posts, subscribing to the "Your Simply Organized Life" newsletter or have attended any of my seminars; you know I am a fanatic about calendar usage. I don't care if you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a retiree, in my humble opinion EVERYONE needs to use a calendar daily.

Hopefully, most of you are already using some sort of calendar or planner in your daily life to keep track of personal, professional and family appointments. It does not matter what type of calendar you use (paper or electronic) but I recommend using one calendar for all appointments if possible. If you are not using a calendar, now is a good time to start.

To avoid overbooking (and going crazy) during the holidays, put all of your appointments on the calendar. This includes the company parties, family gatherings and even your kids' holiday events. Be sure to ask your family members about these events and if you will be required to bring anything, dress a certain way or in general make any preparations. Remember, to say "no thank you" to events that do not fit with your holiday plan. This is the difference that will keep you stress free!

If any of your scheduled events require preparations, check to see if they fit with your holiday plan. If they fit with your simple holiday plan (i.e. it is something you want to spent time on), schedule time in your calendar for those preparations and do not forget to schedule driving time! For example, if you want to attend your company holiday party, but do not currently have the appropriate attire, schedule time in your calendar for shopping in person or on-line.

If the scheduled events on your calendar require preparations that do not fit with your holiday plan (i.e. it is something that you do not want to spend time on), try to outsource or avoid those duties whenever possible. For example, if your child needs treats for the school party and you are clueless in the kitchen, schedule time with your child to purchase or order an alternative. It can still be homemade, just not from your kitchen (ask me about my cupcake lady anytime).

With so many service providers available these days you can outsource just about any holiday task from baking, to decorating, to even sending your holidays cards (I have a great system for holiday cards). The key is to make sure that you can afford to outsource holiday tasks. In my next blog I will write about making a financial plan for the holidays!

Carolyn Anderson-Fermann is a public speaker, organizing expert and founder of Simply Organized Life.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Stress Free Holiday Tip #2

My last entry covered Stress Free (or at least less stress!) Holiday Tip #1: Keep it Simple! In that blog we mentioned creating a holiday plan which leads us to...

Tip #2: Plan, Plan, Plan!

Once you have decided what is important to you for simple holiday celebrations, you need to create a plan to make it happen.

Going through the holidays without a plan is kind of like driving in the car without a map or GPS system. I know, many of you will resist this metaphor with the logic that you do not need a map for somewhere you have already been. But if you got lost (i.e. stressed or sidetracked) the last time you went through the holidays, a plan for this holiday season is going to help keep you from getting in a wreck (i.e. overdoing, overspending, and regretting it come January).

You can create a simple holiday plan, by writing down what you want to do this holiday season and scheduling time to do those things on your list. You do not need a fancy notebook or special paper, but you should have your calendar nearby for scheduling time. Any paper or calendar will do, or if you are a techie, you might want to do this on the computer.

Next time we will talk more about using a calendar for scheduling both holiday events and tasks!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Stress Free Holiday Tip #1

Tip #1: Keep it Simple!

Complexity adds stress. It is that simple.

The key to avoiding stress during the holidays is to keep things simple. I know that is easier said than done especially with all of the media messages, stores all decked out and expectations from family and friends. However, with frugality coming back in style, I believe simple holidays are a breath of fresh air for many.

One of the ways to keep things simple is to focus only on the things that you enjoy during the holidays. This may take a little thought, as there are so many things we do "just because". Think about what you and your family enjoy during this season and why. For example, if you enjoy putting up a tree is it because the way the tree looks when you are finished or is it because your kids have so much decorating it with simple things? Asking yourself these questions, will allow you to focus only on the enjoyable elements and keep it simple!

As for those things that always stress you out (and maybe you never seem to get done) if it is not necessary, eliminate it from your holiday plan. What!? No holiday plan!? We will talk about making a simple holiday plan next time.

Carolyn Anderson-Fermann is a public speaker, organizing expert and founder of Simply Organized Life.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Organizing for Stress Free Holidays

Yesterday the November 2011 edition of Your Simply Organized Life hit in-boxes. In it I provided 10 simple tip for stress free holidays.

From my perspective being organized is an essential element in enjoying the holidays and living well every day. My 10 tips for stress free holidays do not cost anything and will help you save time and money during this busy time of the year.

1. Keep it Simple

2. Plan, Plan, Plan

3. Use a Calendar

4. Make a Financial Plan (and stick to it!)

5. Declutter Your Space

6. Ask for What you Want (and ask other what they want)

7. Give Clutter Free Gifts

8. Accept Imperfection

9. Remember the Reason for the Season

10. Have Fun!

Over the next few weeks I will be elaborating on each of these 10 tips at the Simply Organized Life blog. Please join me as we prepare for stress free holidays (or at least holidays with less stress)!

If you are in a crunch to get your house in order before Thanksgiving, check out November's special and schedule your complementary telephone consultation today with Carolyn to learn more. Please also feel free to sign up for my newsletter, Your Simply Organized Life. You will receive a free gift just for signing up.