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My 10 best tips for getting stuff done

by respaced on September 1, 2015

A good cup of coffee may be the key to your productivity. Coffee holder from MOMA store.

A while ago, I asked you to submit your best tips for getting tasks done. I picked out my favorites, plus added my own. The result? Ten awesome ideas for getting boring, annoying, or overwhelming tasks done around your house:



Schedule weekly (home) office hours for yourself in order to get mail sorted, paperwork done, kids’ schoolwork organized, phone calls and emails sent out, and the to-do list and family calendar updated. Make sure you pick a time when you know you can ALWAYS be home for your office hours (e.g. Monday nights from 7-8 p.m.) Be super strict with yourself about never cancelling your office hours.

If your schedule varies greatly, meaning you cannot count on having a weekly set office hour time, schedule a back-up day for your home office hours.


Adjust your environment

During your home office hours, work where it is free of distractions that become excuses for not getting things done.

Put on some mood-lifting, upbeat music if that helps you. Some people need it absolutely quiet, so wear noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs if you need silence.

Treat yourself, if need be. For example, maybe your office hours are the one time a week you buy yourself a super fancy coffee drink to slurp while you power through those papers.

Reward yourself, if need be. Maybe you buy yourself the super fancy coffee drink AFTER you have completed your tasks.


Get to work!

Start with the short, easy tasks first so you can start feeling the high that comes from crossing things off your To Do list!

Break big tasks down into small chunks. Write out each chunk. Then do one chunk at a time.

Try my trick for getting through a hated task: Set a timer on your smartphone for 10 minutes. Work for 10 minutes, then break for 5 minutes. Set the timer for another 10 minutes. Then work another 10 minutes and break for 5 minutes. Keep resetting the timer until your hated task is done.

Studies show that people think more clearly when they stand up, so prop your laptop on the counter and hammer out those emails or pay bills standing up.


Would any of these tips work for you? Any other tips you think should be added to the list? Please feel free to submit them in the comments below.

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How to organize kids’ school supplies at home

by respaced on August 20, 2015

In honor of Back To School (yes, that is a defined season, worthy of all caps), I thought it might be useful to share my best tips for organizing all those extra school supplies at home. You know, supplies like those extra 5 gluesticks, of which your kid only needed to take one to school at a time, but it was cheaper to buy a package of 6?

School supplies often get mixed in with the home office supplies and craft supplies, so this whole “Supply” area of  the house can get chaotic quickly!

First of all, separate out the “paper-based” school supplies (e.g. notebooks, folders, binders, dividers, loose leaf paper, etc.) from the rest of the school supplies (e.g. gluesticks, pencils, crayons, scissors, etc.)

Next, the easiest way to store these two categories of school supplies is to give each category its own bin (labeled, of course!) on a shelf. The two red bins in the pic below hold the two categories of school supplies at my client’s house:

Office cornerYou could just leave it at that, and that would be good enough. But sometimes it’s fun — and more appealing to kids — to separate the colored crayons, markers and pencils by color and display them in jars. This way they are more accessible to the kids while adding a fun pop of color to their rooms (see below).

Kids School Supplies

I have used this method in my own house with a box lid and red plastic cups:


One last tip for organizing kids’ school supplies: Store them in ONE place in the house so you and your kids can find them when you need them. This way, you won’t waste money on buying more school supplies throughout the year simply because you couldn’t find what you needed at home. Think of the money you will save, Parents of the World!


What is one of the biggest problems I see in my clients’ home offices? No recycling or shred bins! Sometimes no trash bins either. This is one of the main reasons paper piles are such horrible problems in many home offices: There is no convenient place to dump all of the unwanted paper.

You can spend a lot of money on a shiny, metal, 2- or 3-compartment bin at The Container Store. Or you can go super cheap, yet highly effective with these two ideas (below):

Recycling station

In the above pic, I just took a big box, covered it with paper, and made 3 signs that say “Recycle,” “Shred,” and “Trash.” Inside the box, I placed 3 brown bags, the kind you get at the grocery store. That way, when the “Recycle” bag is full, I simply lift the bag out, dump the entire bag and its contents in the recycling, and then put a new bag in the box. So easy. And so inexpensive!

Recycle station

In this pic, I used two baskets from Ikea (sized to fit in the KALLAX unit). The kind of baskets I used here were key: Each basket is straight-sided so they can snuggle right up next to each other, making them more space efficient. Round wastebaskets are a waste of space. Get straight-sided baskets instead.

Again, each basket is lined with a brown bag or garbage bag, making dumping the recycling or trash super easy. Oh, and note the honkin’ huge labels! These are essential if you are sharing your home office with other family members, and you don’t want your bins filled up with randomness.

Setting up recyling/trash bins is definitely the unsexy part of organizing a home office, but it is CRUCIAL to keeping the paper chaos under control.

Happy Organizing, Everyone!


Oh boy. Time to start sorting the kiddos’ schoolwork

June 16, 2015

School is out for the summer, which means it’s time for my annual post on “how to organize kids’ schoolwork.” (Scroll to the bottom of this post to see what we did with the vast majority of my son’s schoolwork this year!) How to Organize Kids’ Schoolwork 1. When your children get home, ask them […]

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Finally! A solution for the kid who ALWAYS forgets something important at home

May 5, 2015

Do you have the kind of child who is always forgetting to pack certain things in their backpack? You know, a chronic homework-forgetter or lunch-leave-behinder? Well, I FINALLY solved that problem in our house! Only took me until the school year is nearly over to figure out … I got this chalkboard sign from our […]

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Here is an easy way to start your organizing project

April 13, 2015

I recently had a lot of fun reorganizing a linen closet for a client. I like talking about linen closets, because they are the perfect space to ease into organizing, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of tackling an entire room in your house. Linen closets are easy places to start with because: […]

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Overwhelmed by your memorabilia? 5 tips to make it easier to organize

April 1, 2015

When it comes to home organizing, nothing is harder to organize than memorabilia. (Memorabilia are objects we keep because they remind us of past events in our lives.) It’s not the sorting and categorizing of memorabilia that is so hard; it’s making decisions about what to keep or toss that makes it feel so overwhelming. […]

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Beware of adorable stuffed Easter bunnies!

March 19, 2015

See how cute these Easter plush animals are, just staring out at you from the store shelf with their big, sad eyes? Wouldn’t your children just love a cute, cuddly, brand-new stuffed Easter bunny for Easter this year? Here is a bit of Easter-related organization advice: If your kid is like so many other kids, […]

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Easy DIY way to keep track of household projects + plan the weekends

March 13, 2015

You know that whole scenario where you have something planned for the weekend, but then your spouse surprises you with having other plans for the weekend? Meanwhile, that home improvement project that you started 2 months ago is still sitting out, neglected week after week? Here’s how we finally conquered that in our family: 1. […]

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Pics of my non-home office

March 9, 2015

Oh my goodness, it has been so long since I updated my blog! Suffice it to say, I’ve been busy. With what? Well, I’ve been organizing a lot of home offices lately. This made me realize I often get asked about my own home office and how a professional organizer sets up her workspace. So […]

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