Have yourself a merry little Organized Christmas!

Greetings and Happy Holidays! The holidays are our single most favorite time of the year. The eggnog, the music, the reindeer sweaters, not having enough power outlets for all your electrical decorations…. magical. There’s no time like it, which means it can get pretty unorganized and stressful pretty quickly.

I have compiled a list of five simple tips to get you organized and in the right mindset this holiday season. You’ll be ready take on whatever the sugar plum fairy throws at you (even the sarcastic remarks from your mother about your cooking).

Let these 5 tips help lead you to festive success:

1. Make a list and check it twice

One of the best, tried and true ways to start succeeding in all of your organizing needs is to make a list. Santa’s got it down pat, he’s a very organized man dealing with so many little ones across the globe. Make a list (that you won’t lose) of everything you need to get accomplished for each month. Groceries, gifts, appointments, etc. If you thrust it all into one singular sensation of a list, you’ll be able to prioritize more successfully and be set. So be your own Santa this year and check your list twice. Who knows, maybe you’ll do so well, someone will leave you a plateful of milk and cookies.

2. Sing synchronized

We all have smartphones, am I right? And if you don’t, you’re probably reading this blog on your tablet under a rock. A few of my favorite apps are Google Cal and ICal. Putting every single schedule, appointment, meeting, party date, brunch date, dinner date, sale date, release date, etc. for every family member into your calendar will help you know what’s coming up next and how soon you have to prep for it. Any kind of smartphone on the market now lets you synchronize every smartphone in the family, so what one adds to one’s schedule, everyone can see & know about it.

3. Try something new

Before the hustle and bustle of the holidays ignite, before you start thinking about your New Year’s resolution, before you start giving yourself ulcers thinking about the lines you’ll have to face at the Apple Store, embark on an experience you’ve never explored before. Take a road trip to a magical festival or drive-by a light show, take a loved one to a famous landmark or concert, or just sit home and try a new recipe with Martha Stewart. You’d be amazed at what a fresh new experience can do for one’s perspective.

4. Indulge a little

“It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” Johnny Mathis and I get it. Need I say more? It’s a time for being thankful, giving, sharing, reflecting, spreading love and Christmas cheer. So, who says that can’t be directed towards you by… well… YOU! You’re with you more than anyone else is throughout the year, so why not do something extra special for just you this year. You’re one of the lucky ones that has survived another glorious year, so go ahead and splurge for that spa day, get that new Samsung 50” TV you’ve been wanting. You deserve it. Alright, go! I’m kidding, not now, finish reading this lovely blog first, then go! Taking time for you might be just what you need to clear your head for everyone else’s wants.

5. Help Others

Tis’ the season to be jolly and is there any better way to be jolly than making others happy? Bueller? Bueller? I didn’t think so. The Holidays are a great time to purge your things as you scurry around to make your house clean for the relatives. So, grab one of those extra-stretchy heavy-duty trash bags and fill them to the brim with glee, hop into your gas guzzling sleigh, and donate your treasures to a homeless shelter, a Goodwill drop-off, or a national organization like Operation Christmas Child. You’ll end up[ free of all the things you don’t want anymore, have more room for newer shinier things, and you’re helping someone who is less fortunate. It’s a win-win.

I hope these steps will bring you to a brighter Holiday Season and provide you with less clutter tangibly and mentally. Until next time. A very Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy New Year!

Jonathan Cobrda

Celebrate Earth Week With The Most Sustainable Companies

Shopping For Clothing and Home Decor Can Be Fashionable and Ethical

Why is it that we cringe at the term “hand me down” but drool over “vintage”? Sometimes a term has a bad connotation, like those terrible maroon corduroy pants that got passed from your older sister to you. Ethical consumption is a hot trend.  More people are falling in love with the idea of reducing, reusing, and recycling. In honor of Earth Day, we’ve got a round up on the best sustainable clothing companies and home decor shops. These brands will bring gorgeous, ethical products into your home. After the brand round up, check out our favorite tips for practicing sustainability.

Sustainable Clothing Companies in NYC

New York has always been fashion forward. Not just in looks but embracing all trends. These shops sell items that are beautiful and ethically produced.

Teich

Teich works with artisans making clothing and accessories from organic, natural, and vintage material. Their one of a kind items are  a blend of vintage and cutting edge.

Kaight

Cross the river to Brooklyn to check out Kaight. Fashionistas rejoice! Kaight sells the hottest rising designers who blend fashion forward with eco-friendly practices.

Most Sustainable Companies: Home Decor

Home decor is also trending toward sustainable products. Reclaimed and upcycled are two hot trends. Rather than create new items, artisans craft unique pieces using found items. Reclaimed windows and barn wood are two of the hottest ingredients in this trend.

Yorkwood Co.

The company’s motto “born on the streets” might not sound high end, but a look at their work paints a very different story. They reclaim wood from construction and other sites around New York. Yorkwood transforms found wood into gorgeous, custom pieces in both commercial and residential spaces.

Fallen Industry

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody’s there to witness it, chances are Fallen Industry will pick it up and turn it into something beautiful. This Brooklyn-based outfit is one of the most sustainable companies around. Fallen Industry crafts pieces that fit perfectly across a variety of design aesthetics.

5 Tips For Sustainable Living

There are lots of ways to run a sustainable household, here are five tips for sustainable living as well as links to read even more.

  1. Try Consignment. Stop feeling guilty when you open the closet and see a dress you only wore once. Learn about consignment so that someone else can enjoy the dress and you can find your next favorite.
  2. Make Donations. One blogger shared that she always saved ribbons and gift tags. During decluttering, realized it was time to let go of these items she was not going to use. You can post items on sites like freecycle.org. Or, better yet, donate items like these to a local elementary school or day care program. Gift wrapping makes for great art. If you have clothing and home goods to donate we recommend donating to the United War Veterans Council. Click the link to contact this organization who will pick up your donations.
  3. Practice Awareness. This post has great information on moving toward sustainable living. Our favorite? The Eco-Sabbath. Put aside time each week where you do not use machines, buy anything, or produce waste. Spending time unhooked from our consume/trash cycle makes us more aware when we start up again.
  4. Go Digital. Paper planners are beautiful but wasteful. Try to go waste free by using your smartphone and apps for scheduling, communicating, and everything else.
  5. Build Habits. Sustainable living doesn’t happen overnight. Spend time planning ways to shop at the most sustainable companies. Educate your family on the importance of the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) and set a goal to move toward sustainable living for a smoother, longer lasting transition.

In Order To Succeed provides expert organizational help to residential and commercial clients. If you are interested in learning how to declutter, organize and live better or in how to do these things utilizing sustainability, contact us to set up an appointment.

How to Start Organizing Your Inbox

Get Control of What Seems Uncontrollable

Let’s face it, you may have a beautiful desk, color-coded planner and pristine car, but chances are there is a disaster hidden where most people are unlikely to see it: your email inbox.  At In Order To Succeed® we believe that an organized email boosts productivity, eliminates stress, and makes for a happier, healthier you. Start applying our tips for organizing your email and watch how quickly you start to feel more in control.

The Overflowing Inbox

Email.  Some years ago it was primarily used as a go to method reserved for work communications. For most of us, the daily information flood of sales notices, social media updates, newsletters, and marketing emails now make up a significant portion of our inboxes. It can get out of control very quickly with messages going unread, undeleted, and haphazardly marked and tagged.  The easiest way to get control of your email and begin working toward achieving the elusive inbox zero, is to begin to simplify it.

Plan An Unsubscribing Session

One of the problems with email is that we all sign up for mailing lists we’re just not interested in.  Maybe it’s to get a coupon, maybe it’s because we enjoyed a few articles on a site.  Whatever the reason, it’s time to kick those space-hogging subscriptions to the curb.  Pour a cup of your favorite beverage at a time when you can give at least 90 minutes attention to nothing but your inbox.  Open it and scan through just for subscriptions.  Do not open anything else, ignore the beeps and leave your other tabs closed (it’s tough, we know!).  Open each email and immediately scroll to the bottom where you’ll find the teeny font where you can unsubscribe and DO IT.  If you haven’t opened and used the information in the subscription you’re not going to.  You don’t need to know that someone else pinned a recipe similar to yours or what the specials are at Target — there’s an app for that.  Only keep subscriptions to the emails you open and actually read.

After Unsubscribing

After your 90-minute unsubscribing marathon, make it a habit to open, read, and delete all of your subscription emails.  Anything from yesterday that is unread tomorrow should be unsubscribed from going forward.  If you subscribe to something for a coupon, once it comes IMMEDIATELY go into the email and unsubscribe.

Avoid The Siren Song of Email Managing Software

At some point I signed up for a service that would roll up my emails into one.  Instead of a ton of subscriptions I would get a daily email with all of those emails.  And I ignored them.  Services that say they are here for organizing your email often sound better than they are.  The key is to only subscribe to things you will actually read, recognize those you don’t, and get rid of them.

Avoid Notification Emails

Many apps include an option for an email notification.  But do you really need an email every time someone comments on a photo you liked on Facebook?  No.  Your notifications come up when you log onto various websites so unless it’s something very important (like major breaking news, your bank, or a job search site) stop the notification emails.  One of the easiest ways to start organizing your email is to declutter your inbox!

Set up Filters

If you still want to receive and review the social network notifications, just not be notified every minute, create a filter and rule on your email platform to identify incoming messages that are generated by your network sites and give them a label. You can set up a rule to then have them redirected into an archive folder to review at a later time. This way, you can still keep up to date with your social news and events, but they are out of your inbox.

Stop BCCing Yourself

The last bit of email advice we have is to stop blind copying yourself.  Your sent email file is a valuable thing but the blind copy clutters the heck out of your inbox. Just don’t clean out your sent mail so that you have your copy if needed.  It will be nearly impossible to feel like you’re organizing your email if it’s overflowing with messages you’ve sent to yourself. Added tip: don’t print emails.  You don’t need hard copies of your emails — they take up space and add to the clutter.  Take a screen shot of important information and add to your phone or write what you need into your planner.

Read, Delete, Repeat

Rather than keeping your email open all day or having notifications for it on your phone, only open your email twice a day: when you start working, and when you’re winding down.  8 a.m. and 4 p.m. if you work a traditional work day.  In addition to being harder to manage, multi-tasking just doesn’t work and getting distracted by the constant beep and buzz of emails that likely don’t matter isn’t helping your productivity.  If someone needs you immediately they will call or text.

When you settle in to check your email, do so with intention — this is essential to organizing your email.  Open your email inbox and nothing else.  Skim and select those you know you won’t read and delete them without opening.  Then start with your least recent email (the first to come in after you checked before ending work).  Read it, do what you need to with pertinent information, and then delete it.  Scared to delete?  Here’s how to get comfortable with it:

  • If an email has a meeting request that is linked to your calendar simply accept or decline.  It’s now in your calendar or not.
  • If an email has a meeting request that is not linked, assess whether the time/location works, put it in your calendar, respond and delete.
  • Contact info?  Add to your contacts and delete.
  • Project info?  If you have a hard file, print and place it in.  If you are paperless, screenshot the necessary info and delete.

Once your inbox is empty, close your email and don’t look again until your day is unwinding.  Eventually you’ll get into such a habit that it won’t bother you to see something at 5pm that came in at 1pm and wasn’t all that important. If you can’t act right away create a follow up folder and go back to it within 48 hours.

For other ideas to achieve inbox zero, check out these helpful apps that can assist you and make the process a little less daunting. Here is a good list.

In Order To Succeed® has a wealth of talent and experience in assisting clients get their digital spaces under control. Let us help you — organizing your email is the easiest place to start.  Once you have that down you’ll be excited to see what else you can accomplish with that newfound time.

Declutter Your Life Using The KonMari Method

What Sparks Joy?

Unless you’ve been unplugged for a while, chances are you’ve heard the phrase, “spark joy” recently. Maybe on a morning show where a woman had all of her clothing on a bed and asked each pair of jeans, “Does this spark joy?” This is part of a movement to help declutter your life using the KonMari Method. What does it look like to declutter your life? And what’s the KonMari Method? Here is some insight into the movement that is taking over the nation, the movement brought about through Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”.

Why Declutter Your Life?

We are surrounded by things. Clothing, books, papers, mementos. But much of our time is not spent enjoying those things. Rather it’s grumbling about the space they take up, how no matter what we do our spaces appear cluttered, and how we can’t find anything. Even the most organized home with gorgeous bins and baskets is likely held hostage by these things. The concept of decluttering your life is one that boils down to one question: what are the things that spark joy in you? Once you can answer this and minimize your possessions, there is a calmness that takes hold and a huge amount of time freed for other pursuits rather than constantly cleaning, organizing, and frustration.Imagine getting through the list of books you want to read. Imagine being able to go for a walk in nature each day. Imagine whatever it is that gives you peace or brings you joy. If you want to have time for it, the way to get it is to remove the things that are taking up valuable time, energy and thought.

What Does The KonMari Method Require?

The KonMari Method doesn’t require you to make a single purchase. Nor does it require any course or seminar. Instead what it requires is a copy of the book which is available in hard copy (hard- and paperback, eBook, audiobook) and a willingness to allow the process to move exactly as KonMari explains in the book. It will make most people uncomfortable at the outset, but once followed it quickly leads to a home that is more organized and more reflective of your authentic self, where you are only surrounded by only those things that bring you joy.

KonMari Method At-A-Glance

The KonMari Method takes you through categories of possessions rather than rooms. Each category is pared down to what you will keep through a series of steps. After you have discarded items there are specific ways in which to organize and place the possessions that are left.

Picture The End Result

The first step is to picture where you want to be at the end of your tidying marathon. One client of Kondo’s wanted to start a meditation practice. She wanted a clean space in her bedroom, which was covered in clothes, where she could light incense, practice, and then take a hot bath with candles. What is your end result you want? What is the thing that would give you joy?

The driving outcome of the Konmari Method is to strip your life down to the basic things that give you joy, remove the things that sadden and distract you, and spend your time on pursuits that bring you joy. Visualize what you want and keep it in your mind when the clutter creeps into your life.

The Categories

While you could apply the method in different ways, Marie Kondo believes that following through the recommended steps in the correct order is the only way to end the process organized and without need for future organization. She is firm that you must not change the process to fit your personality but instead be strict and follow it exactly to avoid retreating to be bad habits. The list of categories and order in which items should be addressed:

  • Clothing
  • Books
  • Papers
  • Miscellany
  • Mementos

Kondo warns that starting the KonMari method with mementos is a recipe for disaster and that the only way to guarantee success is to start with clothing and follow the process. Mementos come with a significant emotional attachment — we keep them to remember an meaningful event. With clothing, it is easier to assess quickly and move on to the next item. Starting with clothes and moving down the list trains you to be ready to approach the difficult assessment of papers and personal mementos.

The Metric of Joy

The first step of each category is to gather every item of that category in one place and then begin to pick up each item, individually, and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” The idea being that there is no reason to be surrounded by things that do not spark joy. In the end, a dwelling space that is only filled with items that make you joyful means you are able to look around feel at peace. Items that do not spark joy should be discarded for donated. Items may not be kept because they were expensive, because they might fit one day, or because they were given to us by someone special. For those items we hold onto for reasons other than sparking joy, we thank them for whatever they brought us and then toss them on the discard pile. Items that are able to be donated should be, with items that are no longer useful thrown out. It will amaze you how many things you’re holding onto that don’t ever get worn and simply take up room. Time to declutter the Kon Mari way.

Organization

After going through a category, the KonMari Method has steps for how every type of item is organized. Even folding clothes has a process. The KonMari Method shares how to fold shirts, arranging them in such a way that they can be stored upright in drawers like files. This allows them to be seen, selected and put away neatly and also frees up closet space, which are often far too cluttered. Kondo goes so far as to teach students how to fold socks in a new way: rather than bunched up socks are lovingly folded, giving them a sense of rest. Clothes can relax and breathe while stored and in a sense thanked for serving you well while they work for you. This can make future release of items easier because you know that you lovingly cared for them while they were in your possession.

The KonMari Method is a studied approach that will declutter your life and bring you peace and calm. It is worth reading the book and starting with clothes, to see how quickly your space will begin to transform. And from there it is easy to apply the method to all aspects of your life. The benefits feed upon themselves. Whether you wish to work through one category to start or take a comprehensive approach, In Order To Succeed is a full service firm with professionals who can assist you in getting your home and your life organized, the KonMari way!

Simplify Your Life in 3 Steps

Stressed out? Join the club. According to the American Psychological Association, you are among almost three-quarters of the population who have had increased or constant stress levels in the last five years. And the cause for all this stress may be coming from the most mundane areas of life. Consider how you can organize the high-traffic areas in your home and simplify your life with these three steps.

1. Obtain Financial Freedom

Financial stress is probably one of the scariest stressors to address. Oftentimes, you may feel like you have no control. The good news is that you can drastically diminish your stress by automating several aspects of your financial life, according to FDIC Consumer News.

One way to regain control of your finances is to eliminate your dependence on banks. Opt for direct deposit paychecks so you don’t have to use your lunch break to deposit your paycheck. Similarly, you might consider online banking with an option to e-check deposit. This way, any personal check written to you can be deposited immediately using only your smartphone, after business hours or on weekends.

Another way to reduce stress is to automate payments. By scheduling recurring payments online, you’ll never forget your internet bill again. You can also significantly slim down your wallet by using a mobile wallet, like Google Wallet or Apple Passbook. Any extraneous statements or paid bills that you think might be important someday can be scanned to your personal cloud storage and then shredded to save space.

2. Keep Your Car Happy

Let’s face it: your car is not just your vehicle. It is the transition between work and home, the place to decompress at the end of the day and start over on the next. So keep it clean and running smoothly.

Stash Wet Wipes in the center console. Use these to dust off your dash weekly or to clean off sticky fingers after a meal on-the-go. Designate a space to toss trash — like a plastic bag or door pocket — to keep Starbucks cups and fast food wrappers from taking over your space.

Make a trip to the car wash a weekly ritual. A once-over vacuum job and drive to the gas station quick wash mind as well be a spa trip in terms of the way it makes you feel.

3. Tame Your Entryway

The first place you see in your home is often the last place to get organized. One way to start is to install hooks right by the front door to catch keys and coats. You could also install a slot, shelf or cubby, like those found at The Container Store, for each person in your family to dump anything important coming or going — like mail, purses, lunchboxes or library books. Organizational systems like these will help to prevent a mid-morning panic when you realize that you forgot to grab that fruit basket for boss’s day.

To keep your home’s floor clean and to reduce weekly cleaning time, place a chair and boot tray next to your front door. This will encourage family members and visitors to take off their shoes before entering your house.

If you can follow these three steps to reduce stress, you may be able to sleep better tonight, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And who doesn’t need a better night’s sleep?

How to declutter for a more peaceful home

Clutter: the stuff that fills up your living space. The unattractive and subtle source of psychological distress in your home. According to Health.com, clutter is related to anxiety, depression and even weight gain. The article quotes Dawn Buse, a health psychologist, saying that clutter makes people feel weighed down, literally and figuratively. So, here’s how to declutter, minimize the mess and cut the excess in your home with these interior design storage tips.

Hide the Cords

Your entertainment center is a breeding ground for clutter. Items like remotes, movies, video games and cords populate this area and can seem to multiply if you don’t get it under control.

Hide unsightly cords by organizing them according to their endpoints on the floor and by connecting them to a power strip. You also can make the cords easier to manage by simply shortening them with zip ties or Velcro. Additionally, if your flat screen television is mounted to the wall and the cords are exposed, consider drilling a small hole in the drywall and bringing the cords up through the wall to the height of the TV.

As for the movies, remotes and video games, look for an entertainment center that offers multiple concealed or attractive storage areas. Consider browsing Houzz for media storage inspiration.

Design Practically

Minimalist interior design isn’t for everyone, but you can still benefit from the concept with practical designs. Choose furniture that offers storage space—for example, a stylish ottoman that opens can be used for keeping blankets and pillows tucked away. Decorative fabric footstools and poufs also can serve as storage solutions for smaller items like children’s toys.

Better Homes and Gardens suggests using items like console cabinets and nesting tables to maximize your living space. BHG also recommends using a tiered coffee table in the living room. This style provides a functional surface on top and also has storage space below for magazines and books or space for decorative baskets to store knickknacks.

Create a Retreat

Your home should be a place of peace, a space where you can relax and unwind from the duties and stresses of the day. If you’re finding yourself more anxious and stressed than at peace when you arrive home, it may be time to update your living space to reflect the tranquility of a luxurious retreat. Creating a relaxing space doesn’t require a full home remodel, either; all you need is the right lighting, a few decorative accents, and a little handiwork.

If your home lacks natural light and you use harsh fluorescent bulbs, consider using ambient lighting and strategically placed floor lamps instead. Also, harness outdoor light by installing custom solar blinds that reduce glare and offer UV protection.

Then, add accessories to your interior that make you feel happy, like green plants or fresh blooms. Make your seating space cozy with plush blankets, throws and pillows. Consider adding an abstract bookcase to your décor to provide storage and function like a piece of art. Also, think about adding candles, family photos or other accents that reflect your lifestyle and personality.

Denise Caron-Quinn is now an Evernote Certified Consultant

Evernote is a remarkable productivity tool that offers cloud-based storage, flexibility, and multi-platform support. We’re pleased to announce that In Order to Succeed Founder, Denise Caron-Quinn, has become an Evernote Certified Consultant. Having completed the comprehensive Evernote Business training, Denise is recognized as an Evernote expert. She can help show clients how to quickly get Evernote Business set up for their team and guide them towards maximum productivity.

Benefits of Working with an Evernote Certified Consultant:

Custom-designed workflows tailored to meet your needs
Guidance on how to best deploy Evernote in your business
In-person assistance to ensure fast adoption of Evernote among your team
Access to a personal go-to expert when you have questions
From small tasks to major projects, Evernote is where you’ll achieve your best work, day in and day out. As one workspace that lives across your phone, tablet, and computer, Evernote is the most productive office for modern teams.

Getting Started with Evernote

Interested in trying Evernote?

Sign up for an Evernote account and get one month of Evernote Premium for free

Contact us to get started using Evernote for you or your team.

Denise is looking forward to attending the Evernote Conference: EC4. Please join her and use code EB25 for 25% off registration fee.
Evernote Business Certified Consultants

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Creating a paperless kitchen with NeatCloud

Our inner foodie sees a cooking magazine and wants to rip out new recipes for later. This leads to a messy pile of loose papers with delicious pictures sitting on the kitchen counter. By the end of the week, the papers have been moved around; some are stained by food or wine, but one thing is definite: we don’t know what to do with them. What happened to  the folders we were going to use to categorize the recipes? The pages kept sticking to each other…  But what about that recipe binder we bought last year?  Oh. We gave up on placing each sheet in a plastic protector and opened a bottle of wine instead. So what are we going to do about these magazine recipes in front of us? Maybe we should just throw them out now because organizing them is going to be such a pain in the… What’s that you say? A digital scanner?
The

The Neat scanner is an excellent tool for saving ripped-right-out-of-a-magazine recipes. In less than a minute the page you held in your hand is in the recycling bin and its contents are in the NeatCloud, and the kitchen is free of paper clutter.  When the time comes to tackle that gourmet flatbread recipe, it’s waiting for you in NeatCloud. Summon the recipe with a search for the word “flatbread” and OCR (optical character recognition) technology will find it. You don’t need to remember what magazine the recipe came from, what folder you put it in, or even what title you gave the PDF three months ago. With the ability to search for individual ingredients or words in all your files, you no longer need to spend time carefully naming and categorizing each document immediately after scanning it. The Neat scanner saves time in filing and finding your recipes and food related articles.

Have you checked your garden today? The tomatoes you planted two months ago are ready and begging to be eaten. After such a long wait, there are high expectations for these plump red fruit (unless you argue vegetables), so which recipe is worthy? Don’t worry, since you scanned all your recipes to the Neat Cloud already, you can find the ones with tomatoes with a simple search: “tomato.” Then you stumble upon an old magazine cutout for a tomato tart that suggests using fresh summer tomatoes! You can thank the Neat scanner for the best dinner all month.

With more and more people eating gluten-free nowadays, it’s time to update the recipe collection. It turns out that gluten-free recipes can appeal to anyone, so you have a stack of 20 sheets once all the magazines are put away. Now the scanner doesn’t seem like such a time saver, especially with double-sided pages. The Neat scanner is up to the challenge, because it boasts such features as handling paper stacks and double-sided scans, no problem.  The only mess it can’t clean up is the kitchen sink.

Get organized for the holiday season

How are your holiday plans coming along? Hopefully well, but just so you know, we have a bevy of tips and methods to help you get on top of this holiday season so that you can truly enjoy what matters most.  Get organized for the holiday season with these five tips.

  1. Start preparing a family holiday calendar that includes travel arrangements, appointments and events, etc. Leave nothing unwritten and post it where everyone will see it.
  2. Just like Santa, you should be making lists. Begin a master holiday gift list that includes things to buy and things to make, including supplies.
  3. Speaking of lists, the sooner you get to work on the lists of lists, a.k.a. the Christmas Card List, the better.  By now, this list should be electronic so you can print the mailing labels and they’ll be accessible when or if you need to send Thank You cards in the future. Have you updated that holiday card list lately?
  4. Now that you’ve got an idea of things you’ll be needing,  try and agree on a budget you can stick to this season. Be sure to enter your expenditures into the budget to help you keep track.
  5. If you have a gift list going, take a look at last year’s supplies and estimate how much wrapping paper and supplies you’ll need this year. Keep your supplies together and wrap as you go.

Additional Resources:

Curious how to address a card to a married couple when the woman has a military titile. Hallmark.com has the answer for all your etiquette address questions.

Need some inspiration for making all sorts of gifts this season? Here’s a good list to get you started off: http://mumsmakelists.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/home-made-gifts.html

For more holiday organizing tips visit In Order to Succeed on Facebook and on Twitter.

Organizing Yourself For Vacation

Going on vacation is something we all look forward to, yet it can cause quite a bit of stress during the preparation. Here are some quick tips to make the process of preparing for vacation go more smoothly:

Packing List – type up a general packing list for each member of the family. Save it as a document in your computer. When preparing to leave, print them up and hand them out. This way no one will forget toothbrushes or special medicines.

To-Do List – as long as you are typing up that packing list, type up a to-do list for vacation preparation as well. Include things like “put newspaper on hold” or “ask neighbor to feed fish.” Again, every time you are preparing to leave, you print this up and check off the items.

Contact List – Keep a vacation contact list on file as well. Include emergency contact numbers, addresses for postcards, etc.

 Big Trip Preparation – if you are going away for an extended vacation or you are traveling internationally, there will be more things to do to prepare. Make a complete list of all that needs to be done (passport update, money exchange, etc). Open your calendar and break down the items so you only have a few things to do each week, leading up to your vacation. For example, passport updates should be handled 6 months out so there is no stress or rush. Money exchange can be done a few weeks out so you aren’t running to the bank the day before you leave. Plan ahead so you aren’t completely frazzled the week of your departure.

Now go ahead and start off your vacation in a more relaxed state of mind. Enjoy!

Meagan Farrell, professional organizer, is the owner of Clear the Clutter organizing services. She can be reached at (360) 631-7268 or at clear_theclutter@yahoo.com – Check out her blog at http://cleartheclutterprofessionalorganizing.blogspot.com/

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