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Organization Tips & Ideas Blog

We hope that you find these articles and tips a great resource for getting organized and managing your time.  All of these articles have been written and posted by our members.  

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  • June 02, 2013 8:55 AM | Ashley Easley, CPO

    Contrary to what some people may think, you can get organized, even if your track record doesn’t show it!!! 

    It’s all in the systems you use – in order to be successful at getting and staying organized, you must have the proper systems in place that work for you. Sometimes the standard methods and materials don’t work. There are many options available, and MasterPeace Solutions can help you find the systems that are personalized for you!!

    These are the guidelines we use for a successful “MasterPeace Transformation”:

    1. Make a list of all the spaces that are troubling you. Prioritize by listing them in order of most stressful to least stressful.

    2. Depending on your tolerance level, start somewhere in the middle. This method will help prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed, and ensures that you will see results more quickly. Positive reinforcement helps!

    3. Get an organizing buddy or hire a Professional Organizer to help you. Having a buddy offers some accountability, helps ease the decision-making process, and makes it more fun!

    4. Then use the steps below to work through each space:

        a. Sort and categorize. Put “like” items with “like” items. They want to live together! Trust me.
        b. Purge old, unused and outdated items to make room for what you truly love!
        c. Create a home for what you are keeping. When something has a home, you can always find it when you need it.
        d. Contain. Resist the urge to splurge at the Container Store until you have completed the steps above. Measure first!
        e. Continue to stay organized by using an easy maintenance routine. Depending on the space, choose a regular purging schedule to avoid backsliding.

    5.  Work only a few hours at a time and take breaks. Enjoy your new space!

    Ashley Easley, Certified Professional Organizer

    MasterPeace Solutions

    (214) 949-5212


  • May 29, 2013 6:49 AM | Debbie Stinson

          I recently had the wonderful opportunity to work with a few young people.  Our organizing sessions were so successful!!! I know that I left them with some valuable organizing lessons that they can build on through high school, college and careers. 

    One young teen was so excited to receive a Make My Life Simplified Gift Certificate for Christmas that she jumped for joy realizing, at a moment when she was frustrated with her own organizing efforts, that she had some "Debbie Time"  coming to her. 

    What led to this excitement about getting some outside help with organizing?  

    Watching her mother ask for assistance in organizing and how she step by step has evaluated what stuff she needs in her life.  She observed her mom being willing to let go.  All of the moms started with their own spaces. This had a huge influence on all of their daughters readiness to follow suit.  

    So, the first thing is... start with you.

    When you take care of you and your child sees the results, they naturally want to mirror you.  This does not always happen over night.  However, if you are patient, you will see a gradual willingness for them to simplify their spaces.

    As I worked with both of these young girls,  I noticed that they felt so relieved that I never told them what they should or should not keep.  The second tip is...

    begin with the obvious. 

    Start with what they are totally ready to release.

    I absolutely loved finding out about what they held dear and cherished.  

    The third tip is...learn about what they love now.

    Those items deserved a place of honor.  You may need to hang a new shelf up to display their most precious things. I explained to them that removing the unwanted clutter makes room to honor those things that they are into now.

    All of the girls, from elementary through college age, knew how to make decisions.  They knew what they wanted and did not want.  Honoring the healthy decisions that your child makes, encourages them to make more mindful decisions.  My fourth tip is to...

    start today with giving your child opportunities to make some decisions...

    and be in control.  They may make some they regret, but they have to start that process to find the balance. 

    The fifth tip goes along with this.  Your young person may decide that the shirt you got them for their birthday last month is not something they feel comfortable wearing, or the heirloom trinket box that was your great grandmothers is not matching the style they want their room to reflect.

    Accept that what you value, may be different from what your child values.

     You can always include them in future clothing purchase decisions and find a place for what you hold dear in your space. 

    This is such a great way to get to know your young person and as the summers zoom by you can take this time to find out who they are and what they love.  So, my sixth tip is to...

    Enjoy them while they are young.

    If you feel that organizing with your child is not the way that you want to spend time with them, or that things might get too tense, you may consider my final tip...

    hire a professional organizer...

    that enjoys working with young people. You can be in the next room, working on your own stuff, and you can step in when they need your feedback. It takes a village and sometimes our children shut out our (sometimes nagging) voices.  However, they will open up their ears to someone that is present just to give them undivided attention and direction in creating a room that will be easy to keep clean. A professional organizer will help them find the best place to keep the things they love and use now. Someone that is not their parent and does not have the emotional attachments and memories of their childhood associated with the things in their room.

    When the unwanted clutter is removed it takes less time to dust and vacuum. 

    Wishing you a summer of easy to clean rooms!  

    Peace and Progress,


  • February 01, 2013 7:40 PM | Sara Genrich

    Are You Ready for Tax Season?

    Tax statements and reports from employers, charities, financial institutions and investment brokers have been coming to your mailbox all month.  If you start organizing now, it will not be as difficult, demanding or stressful to get your filing done on time!  The following steps will help ease you into the process.

    First, make a folder to hold all of your tax information for 2012 and go ahead and make one for 2013.  At this point you can put 2013 in the filing cabinet!  Your 2013 file will be used to collect receipts and other tax related documents throughout the year.  (This will help you skip this step next year.  Tax preparation and organization is easiest if you prepare all year long). Gather any and all reports you have received such as W-2s, 1099’s, and donation receipts and put them in your 2012 file.  If you think you spent over 7.5% of your income on medical expenses, go ahead and collect those receipts too.  If you are a business owner or contractor, put your business and professional accounting files with your tax information. 

    Second, separate all the statements used to report income (W-2’s and 1099’s) from the deduction statements.  By January 31st, you should have received statements and reports from every employer, financial institution, investment firm, and charity you worked with in 2012.  A good way to ensure you have received statements from each company is to pull out your 2011 return.  Most people donate to the same charities, live in the same place, keep investments with the same brokers or advisors, and work for the same employers from year to year.   So, your previous return is a good tool to use to verify you have received all of your statements.

    The deductions portion of the collection process can be daunting to some people.  Just remember that this is where your work can really pay off by adding to your refund or reducing what you have to pay. Track down your charity receipts for donations of cash, clothing and household goods.  You can also deduct mileage to and from volunteer jobs (at $0.14 per mile), your mortgage interest on primary and secondary homes, property taxes, heavy medical costs, sales tax, tuition, etc.  If you are unsure on whether or not something is deductible, go ahead and include it in the file.  Do not let your indecisiveness slow you down at this point.  You can always ask an accountant about the receipt later, but you will not remember to ask if it is not in the file. 

    The third step is to ensure you have the social security numbers of all dependents.  If you added a dependent to your home in 2012, you will need to get their information.  If you paid someone to watch the kids while you worked, be sure to get their tax identification number.  It will be necessary to provide this information to get the related tax credit. 

    The fourth step is for people who work from home.  If you fall into this category, gather all the information regarding your office and equipment used to do your work.  This includes the square footage of your office, phone bills, internet bills, electric bills, etc.   It may also be helpful for you to gather any information on computer equipment and office furniture you use for business purposes. 

    Spending the time to get your papers in order now can really pay off in a number of ways. Even if you are dropping off your information with an accountant to prepare your return, getting organized early will benefit both you and the accountant.  It will reduce the stress and panic associated with having to find everything at the last minute. You will be able to determine if you need additional information, and you will have time to obtain it. You could prepare your taxes early and know if you are going to get money back or pay additional taxes.  If you prepare the return on your own and you run into a problem, you will be able to ask a professional.  The benefits of putting your information together now will make a far less taxing tax season. 

    Happy filing!

    Sara Genrich, Configuration Connection - www.configconnect.com

  • November 29, 2012 7:42 PM | Sara Genrich

    Email Overloaded?


    By:  Sara Genrich of Configuration Connection, Allen, Texas

    With the holidays in full swing and tight schedules getting tighter, a few email management tips might be just what you need to add some time back in your day. 

    1. No email retail - If you choose to follow just one of the tips in this article, this is it. Setup a new free email box like gmail or yahoo just for stores, ads and orders and start using it.  When I started using a different address for retail, I noticed a significant drop in my number of messages.  After you have setup your “retail box,” set aside some time to go through your current retail subscriptions and change your existing address from all of the companies that are using your email. (There is usually a link at the bottom of all retail ads to unsubscribe or to change your email).  Only check your new retail email account when placing orders, and place all of your order confirmations in a file that you can refer to until delivery of your order.   You can also use this new box as a reference tool for coupon codes before placing orders. Be sure to give out this email address at the cashier in retail stores when they ask you for one.  This new box can be cleaned out easily once a month or quarter.  I like to do mine when I pay bills at the first of the month.   

    2. Stop the Email Reaction - If you feel like your email manages you instead of you managing it, stop tethering yourself to it. Don't read your email first thing in the morning before breakfast.  When you do, you are letting someone else or something else setup and prioritize your day.  I have also found that checking my email first thing in the morning sets the day off to a much more stressful tone.  It is much more productive for you to schedule times during the day to read your email.  This will seem odd at first and will take some adjustment.  However, when you schedule time you will notice that you are more productive in your email response time and in your other tasks as well. 

    3. Pavlov’s Dog – Remember Pavlov’s dog and its “conditional reflex” – the conditional reflex is something we do without even thinking about it.  Email has turned into a conditional reflex for most of us with all of its bells, whistles or “You’ve got mail” sounds that we use to notify us of a new message.  These sounds make us react instantly without thought to what we are currently working on or who we are with.  So, turn off all bells and whistles and notice how much you can accomplish!!  If your response to this is, “I can multi-task.”  We all can to some extent, but that multi-tasking makes you lose productivity and efficiency.  Every time you switch tasks, you lose momentum and therefore lose some efficiency. 

    5.  Keep your contacts up to date - Be sure to add important messengers to your address book to ensure that you will continue to receive their messages.  This is especially true for emails, newsletters and emails sent to large groups of people.  For example, you should add pr@lovejoygifted.com to your address list now!  Important information and dates could be missed if they end up in your Junk e-mail file. 

    4. Reading Email Efficiently – (This same technique should also be used on all paper that enters your home) – You really should touch and read each email only once.  If you save it, you will read it again and again and again.  Using the folders and categories options in email are a necessity.  This is true for personal and professional email boxes.  When processing email, you should use the following decision making process for each one:

    •   Delete – this key should be used if you don’t need it, won’t refer to it or you can find it somewhere else. 
    • 2 minute rule – if your response or reaction to the email will take less than 2 minutes, you should process it now.  Coming back to it later will require more time.  If items will take more than two minutes, you should assign it a due date so that you know it will be addressed.   So, these items are added to your To Do List.
    • Waiting on Someone else – Categories are very useful for this or you can setup a folder.  This breakdown of your email will help you quickly find messages and can be used as a tool for reminders.  For example, each of my children has a folder and a category color (in Outlook).  When I receive messages from teachers with class updates, I quickly review them and add them to the folder.  However, if the message contains information that I must act on, I keep the message in my inbox and I assign it the child’s color.  This reminds me that I need to ask them about the message I received from the teacher.  
    •  File – This should be used for items that you will need to reference in the future.  For example, financial records, emails from teachers, coaches or committee leaders.    

    Organizing and managing your email better can lower your stress levels and help make you more productive.  For more email management tips and techniques, I recommend David Allen’s book titled Getting Things Done

    Sara Genrich, Professional Organization Consultant, Configuration Connection.  www.configconnect.com

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