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Sunday, August 30 2009

Life is complicated enough.

I have found that people tend to make their schedules and tasks much more difficult than they have to be. While there are hundreds of things you can do to organize your life, I believe these seven tips alone can help.    

1. Simplify your morning routine. Take a shower and select what you are going to wear the night before.  Go for a more natural look and use less cosmetics to save time.  Get an simple  hairstyle that requires very little work and is easy to maintain.  Set the breakfast table the night before. Wake up a little bit earlier so you can feed the kids, walk the dog and/or have a cup of coffee without the need to race to work.

2. Simplify your schedule. Stop doing the activities that you are no longer interested in doing. Delegate. Consolidate your errands to save time. Pad each errand, appointment or task by about 15 minutes and you will stop rushing from one thing to the next. Don't fill your calendar to the max. Leave some time open for fun and relaxation in between your work-related or chore-related tasks. Stop saying "yes" to everyone and everything.  Learn to say "no" sometimes!

3. Simplify your processes. Is it taking too long to accomplish certain things?  If so, take a look at those tasks.  For example, if it's taking you an hour to balance your checkbook, you might want to consider using a computer software program to manage your money instead. Are you  tired of waiting in line at the post office for postage?  Consider ordering it online.  If it's taking you forever to file your paperwork, perhaps it's time to revamp your filing system.  It just might not be the best system for you.

4. Simplify your possessions.  Remember, when it comes to possessions, quality is more important that quantity. It's better to have a few very nice things than tons of not-so-nice things. Do you have more shirts than will fit in your drawer or closet?  Do you really need that many? Donate clothes you never wear and you'll be helping someone less fortunate while simplifying your wardrobe. Weed out your kitchen cupboards. Reduce the amount of plastic containers.  Get rid of the small appliances or cooking utensils you no longer use.  Have a yard sale. Before you go shopping, get rid of something you no longer need. Use the "one in, one out" rule.  If your kids are off on their own, you may even want to simplify and downsize to a smaller house.  Remember, less is more!

5. Simplify your finances. Consolidate your credit cards. Most people can get by just fine with just one or two major ones. And, don't spend beyond your means! In fact, if your credit card bills run very high each month, consider paying for purchases in cash instead. Pay your bills online whenever you can. Balance your checkbook each month, so you don't fall way behind. Set up a monthly spending budget and stick to it so you don't go overboard with purchases each month. 

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Do you want an EASY way to budget your money?  Are you tired of those complex systems that you can't maintain from month to month?  If so, the U Can Do It Budgeting System is for you.  You will be able to download this e-book onto your computer within minutes and be ready to create your own personal budget in less than one hour!  Simply go to the Budgeting System tab right on this website and download it today!

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6. Simplify your cleaning. Clean as you go, and you'll never have to deep clean. Rinse dirty dishes and put them in the dishwasher immediately after each meal so you don't have big pile-ups in the sink. (Remind your family of this rule, as well.)  Use only one or two cleaning products to clean your entire house--you don't need ten!  Create a cleaning schedule. You may choose to do a chore each day, such as vacuuming on Mondays, dusting on Tuesdays, etc. Or, you may prefer choosing a room a day, such as kitchen on Mondays, bathrooms on Tuesdays, etc. Divide up the cleaning duties among each member of your household. If your budget will allow, get a cleaning person to come in and clean once a week, or once every few weeks. 

7. Simplify your meal planning. Choose one day each week (include your family, if you'd like)to decide what you will have for dinner the next seven nights. Write those meals down and make a grocery list of the items you need to purchase to make match those meals.

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STAY TUNED - THE U CAN DO IT GROCERY SHOPPING LIST is being launched in September 2009!

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This is much easier than worrying about what you're going to make for dinner each day. Choose meals that take less than 30 minutes to prepare and cook. Make double, so you only have to cook every other night! Learn how to use a slow cooker so dinner is ready to eat when you get home from work.

 

Please keep in mind that with any plan, maintenance is the key.  By utilizing these tips regularly, I guarantee you will have A BETTER SPACE.

If you need further assistance with this or any other organizational issue, please contact me at A BETTER SPACE.  I will be more than happy to help.

Enjoy the last days of August!



Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 01:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 21 2009

This week I saw some tips from Real Simple Magazine that I would like to pass onto you and add a few of my suggestions as well.

You can extend the life of your favorite clothing with some easy strategies guaranteed to keep your wardrobe in its best shape.

Real Simple Magazine recommends hand-washing your cashmere sweaters.  Repeated dry cleaning can hurt the fibers overtime.  Therefore, instead, use a mild soap.  I recommend using cold water.  Then lay the sweater out flat to dry.  Another alternative that I like to use is Dryel which is a home cleaning system you use right in your dryer.  It's quick and easy and keeps your sweaters in good shape because they are cleaned in their own garment bag.

In order to protect your clothes from fading, iron them inside out or place a cloth between your iron and the fabric.  Put your iron on the lowest setting possible for the particular fabric you are ironing to avoid fading as well.

In order to banish hanger dimples, especially from wire hangers (I really don't like wire hangers - don't get me started!), Real Simple Magazine recommends using a steamer to get rid of them.  Another alternative that I recommend is replacing your wire or plastic hangers with flocked hangers.  They are thin velvet hangers that will better protect your clothing from "dimpling" at the shoulders.  The flocked hangers also take up a lot less space in your closet.

In order to keep your socks together when they go into the washer and dryer (because we all know that all those odd socks just disappear into some deep dark hole somewhere in the earth), use a mesh laundry bag.  This is one of my favorite tips and I recommend it to my clients all the time.  I promise you will never end up with mismatched socks again!

These quick and simple tips will help you have A Better Space.

If you need further assistance with this or any other organizational issue, please contact me at A BETTER SPACE.  I will be more than happy to help.

Wishing you an organized week!

 

 

 

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 08:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 14 2009

Some of the people who contact me to help them out with their clutter woes suffer from varying degrees of ADD.  ADD is short for Attention Deficit Disorder.  For many adults with ADD, life feels overwhelming and chaotic.  Their homes are cluttered; laundry and dishes go undone; newspapers and magazines pile up; bills get lost in piles of paper, etc.  

In order to assist those of you who suffer with ADD, I recommend taking these 10 steps to building habits that will help you get and stay organized.

Tie a new habit to an old one.  Once you become an adult, you tend of have some ingrained habits.  It's easiest to develop a new habit if it's tied to an old one.  For example, place your vitamins next to your toothbrush in the bathroom to help you remember to take your vitamins each morning.

Make the habit as easy as possible.  Select a place that makes sense.  Pick a convenient, visible place to put your keys, such as by the front door.  Always return them to the same place each and every time.  Before selecting "the spot", think about where you would most need that item to be.  Usually your first instinct is the right one.

Make the habit hard to ignore.  Put the item in a place where you will notice it.  If you have to return clothing to the department store, put the bag by the front door so you will not be able to leave the house without remembering to take it with you.  I put my mail, bank deposits, cell phone and keys with my pocketbook so I remember to take them all with me when I leave the house.

Put reminders everywhere.  When you are first starting to develop your new habit, put sticky notes where you are sure to see them that remind you to act on your new habit.  You've decided you want to pack your lunch instead of buying it to save money.  At night, put a sticky note on the front door, refrigerator and kitchen counter to remind you to take your packed lunch from the fridge and take it with you when you leave the house.

Visualize yourself doing the new behavior.  Visualization is very powerful.  It allows you  time to actually imagine yourself doing something.  If the new behavior is a morning habit, for example, imagine yourself going through your morning routine which would include your new habit at the appropriate point in the routine. 

Practice correcting yourself. Everyone forgets.  Don't beat yourself up over it.  If you forget to practice your new habit, simply go and do the new habit the instant you remember it.  By just doing the habit at some point in your day, it will make it easier for you to do it in the correct time frame in the future.

Get back on that horse.  Everyone falls off the proverbial horse from time to time.  We are not infallible.  Remember that habits take time; forgetting is not failure.  It's just a part of developing a habit; so don't give up!

Problem solve if it's not working.  If something isn't working for you, change it.  Perhaps you need a different reminder.  Maybe you need to tie it to a different habit.  It might work better for you if you change the time of day you are attempting to do it.  Take some time to make the changes that will work best for you.

Practice, Practice, Practice. It takes at least 21 days for something to become a habit. To help you develop that habit, put the habit on your calendar for 21 days and check it off as you do it.  Soon you will no longer need to write it down; it will just come to you naturally.

FINALLY, Reward Yourself.  Congratulate yourself and celebrate the fact that you reached your 21 day goal.  Now, go on and create more habits.  Work with your ADD to take charge of your life.

You might find that you need the hands-on help of a professional organizer to get you started, especially when the level of clutter feels too overwhelming.

If you are bothered by your clutter and are interested in my services, please send me an email at info@4abetterspace.com and I will be glad to help.

Wishing you an organized week!

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 11:11 am   |  Permalink   |  9 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, August 08 2009

I recently heard about a book called "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan. It was about the romance of Frank Lloyd Wright (the famous architect) and Mamah Borthwick Cheney. I heard it was a riveting story with a tragic ending.  

There is an portion of the book that us organizers would find fascinating: 

It seems Frank was hyper-sensitive to space and objects.  It is said Mamah remembered many evenings when Frank would sit down to dinner and would promptly sweep aside his silverware. It was a habit that struck Mamah as crude and quite rude, since she had just set the table only moments before.

'Why do you do that?' she'd asked him once.

'Do what?'

'Push aside your silver that way, as if you're angry.'

'I hate clutter.'

'Silverware is clutter?' she asked.

'Until I'm ready to use it, yes.'

I find it interesting that some can be surrounded by clutter and not even notice it while others, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, would be bothered by a simple item such as a fork that was not being used at that particular moment.  

I recognize there is middle ground here.  It's somewhere between being bothered by a fork not being used at the moment and considering it clutter, like Mr. Wright, and eating your meals at the kitchen table on the top of a pile of paper or surrounded by clutter without being bothered by it. 

If you, however, are bothered by your clutter or have any questions or problems you would like me to address, please send me an email at info@4abetterpace.com and I will be glad to help.

Wishing you an organized week!

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 11:50 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, August 02 2009

It seems like yesterday we were getting ready for the Summer season.  The time is flying by but you still have time to organize the time that remains. 

Summer is my favorite season of the year.  I love the warm summer days, outdoor activities, the fact that the sun doesn't set until about 8:30 and the natural beauty of my backyard on a quiet summer evening.  It is a wonderfully lazy time of year.

However, it doesn't mean we can't be productive at the same time. Here are a few examples to help you organize so you can chill out this summer:

1. Plan your dinner first thing in the morning. Make it a crock pot or grill meal. Defrost your meat in the refrigerator overnight. Get your veggies washed and ready early in the morning.  Plan your dessert --something cool and fresh. For example, fruit, pudding, Jell-O, or a simple scoop of ice cream or sherbert.

2. Pre-cook or pick up a rotisserie chicken.  Use the chicken for a dinner or lunch during the week. It's quick and delicious!

3. Do the laundry in the morning. Before the heat of the day sets in, you will be done. If you can, hang clothes outside to air dry. There's nothing like the smell of freshly aired sheets on a bed.

4. Use bath towels a couple of times before washing them. Have each person hold on to their towel for a couple of uses if possible. Designate a different color for each family member. Put hooks on the back of bathroom doors to hang them to dry.  If the kids are in the pool, have them put their towels over the railings or a portable drying rack to dry, and use them again.  Less laundry in the summer is great.

5. If you are planning a trip to the beach, have everything packed up and in the car the night before--including non-perishable foods. If possible have all the perishable foods prepped and ready to grab from the refrigerator and placed in your cooler before you leave.  This will save the last minute hassle of loading up the car in the morning so you can get to the beach earlier!

6. Plan some short distance or local places to visit.  Visit an amusement park, a museum, or public park. Pretend you are visiting a new city and look at it with "new eyes", even if you have been there before. Exhibits change often, or perhaps they are a favorite exhibit that you enjoy seeing over and over again.

7. Have a picnic dinner one evening each week. Sit outside and have sandwiches--perhaps the kids can help prepare them. Serve quick-to-prepare items like fruit salad or pre-made potato salad from your grocer. Be creative!  If the weather doesn't cooperate, throw a big blanket on the floor and have a picnic in the family room or living room! It is the "being together" that is important.

8. Store some home decorations away for the summer. The house will feel more roomy for the summer. There will be less to dust and clean; more time to play!

9. Plan on doing yard work either early in the morning or in the evening to avoid working in the heat of the day. Also, it's best to water your plants at these times of the day.  If it is hot, remember to drink a lot of water to keep hydrated. Don't forget your sunscreen before going out in the sun!

10. Enjoy not having plans a few of days a week. Sleep later and just enjoy the day, read, or work on crafts. When you make your schedule for the week, leave a day or two open to just relax and enjoy without making concrete plans.

11. Have the kids' clothes laid out the night before going somewhere. Avoid running late in the morning, and get on the road to your destination on time so you can take advantage of the full day.  

12. Have a movie marathon. Make a simple meal that includes finger foods, make some popcorn and sit in the family room and watch movies together. Have each person suggest a movie and then you can all decide on the ones to rent.

13. Each week, exchange a meal. Cook a double-size meal for your family and give half of that meal to a neighbor. Then your neighbor does the same for you.  Do a pot luck in the backyard with some friends and neighbors and enjoy those great summer evenings together.

By using some or all of these suggestions, you will be able to relax and enjoy the lazy days of summer - before the kids go back to school and the crazy routines start up again!

In the meantime, if you have any organizing questions or problems you would like me to address, send me an email at info@4abetterspace.com and I will be glad to help.

Enjoy the rest of your Summer!

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 10:28 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
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    Phone: (215)491-5193
    Email:info@4abetterspace.com


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