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Tip of the Month

When time is short, but you need a bit of organizational inspiration, check out the new “Tips” section on our website. It’s updated at least every month- sometimes more frequently. The tips are designed to dovetail with events in our lives that can be fraught with confusion. For example, after tax season, we might offer a tip on purging your home files; or at the holidays, the suggestion could focus on streamlining your gift wrapping and delivery system.

Current events like free document shredding, prom dress donation sites or where to dispose of unwanted medicines will also be highlighted.

One thing we can promise is that if you did nothing else all year to get organized, simply implementing these tips could give you a new lease on life. If you’d like to have the “Tips and Events” delivered to you inbox, please let us know or fill out the Tip of the Month sign-up form to the right.

  • Create your “Taxes 2011” files right now! We know, you haven’t even thought about dealing with the disorder of taxes for 2010. But imagine if this time next year all of your relevant data is organized in one file. Here’s a system you might consider: A box bottom hanging file folder labeled TAXES 2011 holding as many manila folders as your life requires. Some possibilities for interior folders are: Earned Income, Property Taxes, Charitable Contributions, Unearned Income and K-1’s. It will only take a few minutes to set up a storage and retrieval system, so don’t procrastinate.
  • Halloween Will Soon Be Here! Before costume panic sets in, spend a few minutes this week deciding how your children want to masquerade. Will it involve sewing/crafting? If so, now’s the time to get started. If costumes are being purchased, the sooner the better to avoid disappointment. Are there costumes saved from previous years that might be recycled? If your children have outgrown them, pass them along to a friend or relative who would enjoy them this year.If you decorate your house and yard for Halloween, it’s a great time to gather all these things together and take inventory. Anything that is tired or broken should be donated or thrown away. Do more batteries or candles need to be purchased? When it’s time to repack the keepers, consider a clear, lidded storage container for your seasonal decor. Be sure to label it clearly so next year’s trick or treating will be a real treat.And don’t forget to stock up on your trick or treat candy stash and a carving pumpkin while selection is good.
  • A Case for Drop Zones for your Everyday Things. Establish strategic drop zones for regularly used items, like purses, backpacks, laptop bags/briefcases, keys, or pet leashes. Hooks for backpacks should be mounted at a child-friendly height.
    • The drop zone for electronics, including cell phones, iPods, etc. ideally should have electrical outlets to accommodate chargers.
    • A message or bulletin board with calendar in the drop zone can really come in handy too.
    • Create an additional drop zone include a basket, box or bag for items that need to be returned, altered, or repaired.
    If you would like more tips or help in establishing drop zones in your home, contact Simplicity today.
  • Learn to wait constructively. Take advantage of the time you wait in the carpool line, doctor’s office, or when you arrive early for a meeting. Pack a small bag with any of the following to make your wait more comfortable and productive:
    Reading material (book, magazine, newspaper)
    Tennis shoes for a quick walk
    A notepad and pen to write grocery lists, thank you notes, or plan your weekly meals
    Puzzles (crossword, Sudoku, etc,)
    A knitting project
    An envelope of photos and photo-safe pen to label the back of your pictures with names, dates, etc.
    Music player and headphones
    Mobile phone to make quick calls, clean up your contacts or update your calendar
    Coupon organizer to purge expired coupons
  • Stop the paper clutter before it arrives in your home! Keep your shredder and recycling bin together. When you bring in the mail 90% of it can either be recycled or shredded before it lands on your desk. Check our the Paper & Time Management section of our Resources page for more ideas on how to stop the “junk mail”.
  • Folding Sheets. Just can’t seem to fold your sheets quite right? Fold your sheets the best that you can and then put each set into a pillow case. This will not only keep the sets together, but the pillow case will create a nice clean look on your linen closet shelf.
  • Children’s Artwork. The final Picasso piece is about to find its way home on the last day of school. There is no better time than now to pick your favorite pieces from the year and let the rest go. Really learn to treasure and honor the artwork you love.
  • Sort and purge financial files as soon as your taxes are filed. Consult your accountant or visit IRS.gov for details on document retention. Remember to establish tax files for each new year in January, before your documents and receipts are scattered.

 

Simplicity Newsletter Archive

  • {docs} aug10-newsletter {/docs}: Be A Discerning Shopper
  • {docs} aug10-kidsnewsletter-pdf {/docs}: Simplicity Kids – Back to School: The Importance of Structure and Routines – Customizing Your Child’s Daily Routine
  • {docs} mar10-newsletter {/docs}: Simplicity Kids – Clean Your Room!
  • {docs} jan10-newsletter {/docs}: Stretching Your Dollar – A New Path to a Fresh Start
  • {docs} dec09-newsletter {/docs}: Simplicity Kids – Organizing Your Child’s Artwork
  • {docs} novdec09-newsletter {/docs}: Holiday Survival – Deck the Halls with Organization and Style
  • {docs} oct09-newsletter {/docs}: Time for Time Management – Say Cheese! Organize Your Photographic Memories
  • {docs} sept09-newsletter {/docs}: Cash for Clutter – Closet Purging 101 – What to Keep or Toss
  • {docs} aug09-newsletter {/docs}: Simplicity Kids – Back-To-School Tips: Preparing for school and preparing your home for back-to-school. – Meet Simplicity Kids Coach Laurie Martin – Check out the What’s Up Charlotte! Event Calendar.
  • {docs} july09-newsletter {/docs}: The Luxury of Enough… the concept that not only is enough, enough, but just enough is an incredible luxury.
  • {docs} may09-newsletter {/docs}: Paper Management – Time Management – Procrastination
  • {docs} april09newsletter {/docs}: Spring Cleaning Tips & Ideas – Recycling – Rightsizing
  • {docs} mar09-newsletter {/docs}: The Organized Family Notebook – Spring Cleaning Garages & Attics – Simplicity Green Kids Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Repair – A Year of Simplicity Program
  • {docs} 01-2009-newsletter {/docs}: Good Intentioned Resolutions – Reduce Paper Clutter – Win Organizational Home Makeover
  • {docs} 12-2008-newsletter {/docs}: Top 10 Best Organizational Tips – “…A Few of our Favorite Things”.
  • {docs} 11-08-newsletter-pdf {/docs}: Streamline Your Holidays. Learn from the Grinch!
  • {docs} 09-08-newsletter {/docs}: Organization for Kids – Junk In Your Trunk? – Back To School.

smartsuitTravel: Packing & Smart Clothing Choices

  • {docs} the-smart-suit {/docs}: Clothing that knows how to divide & multiply. A two-day business trip? An out-of-town wedding? If the idea of extra luggage doesn’t fit your travel plans, here’s a suggestion for getting more mileage out of a great suit. We call it ‘breaking the suit’, which simply means the jacket and trousers do double or triple duty. You get three or even four outfits, but your arrive with only one bag. Now that’s a smart suit!

Information and Images Provided To Simplicity By:
TAYLOR RICHARDS & CONGER
PHILLIPS PLACE … CHARLOTTE…704.366.9092
SHOPS ON THE GREEN….LAKE NORMAN…. 704.895.2081
www,TRCStyle.com

Closet Organization

  • {docs} closet-queen {/docs}: “If you can’t find an article of clothing you want, or get easily dressed in the morning, your closet isn’t working for you—it’s working against you,” asserts Carson Tate. Read more by downloading the full article.
  • {docs} closet-purging-101 {/docs}: Clothes purging can be fraught with emotion. Here are a few thoughts and suggestions to help you keep your emotions in check and your closet project on track. Read more by downloading the full article.
  • {docs} reclaim-your-closet {/docs}: Reclaim your closet and your wardrobe with a few simple organizational solutions.
  • {docs} closet-efficiency-1 {/docs}: If you can’t find an article of clothing you want, or get easily dressed in the morning, your closet isn’t working for you—it’s working against you. Effective organization is key to reducing stress and simplifying your daily routine.

Donating, Recycling & Yard Sales

  • The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte, NC: Check out their website to find the address and hours of the Salvation Army location nearest you. For free pick-ups for Thrift Store Donations within 50 miles of Uptown Charlotte, please call 704.332.1171 or visit www.charlottearc.org.
  • Recycling Drop-Off Centers in Mecklenburg: All Recycling Centers Accept: Office paper, Cardboard, Magazines, Newspapers , Phonebooks, Aluminum cans, Steel cans, Tin cans, Plastic bottles and Glass bottles. Full Service Centers accept a wider variety of recyclables. Click on your closest Recycling Center’s location link to view the specific items collected at that location. Recycle your cell phones with the Mecklenburg County Women’s Commission, 700 North Tryon Street, 704-336-3210 for the Domestic Violence Program.
  • {docs} donations-resources {/docs}: Find a listing of various organizations accepting donations.
  • Free Cycle (A Yahoo! Group) www.freecycle.org: It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Membership is free.
  • E-Cycling Central: www.eiae.org: Everything you need to know about electronics recycling. Lists of local and national organizations that refurbish and donate used electronics to charities. Recycling options also available.
  • Throwplace.com: list goods they wish to give away to others. Charities, Businesses or Individuals registered with Throwplace.com® are able to search the site and make requests for items of interest. Items listed on Throwplace are not for sale—they are to be donated. Membership is free.
  • Host your own {docs} yard-sale {/docs} after you’ve purged your home, garage, attic, and storage units. Invite your friends, family and neighbors to join the sale.
  • CFL light bulbs can be recycled at Home Depot. The trace amounts of mercury in these light bulbs are not safe in landfills. Do not toss them in the trash.

Financial Organization / Tax Deduction & Information Resources

  • {docs} get-financially-organized {/docs}: Organizing your files is a step-by-step process of planning and preparation.
    It’s not simple, but once you get a filing system together it should be easy to maintain. To help get your financial records in order, follow the important steps in this article.
  • IRS.gov: What tax records to keep per the United States Department of the Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service.
  • CharityDeductions.com: A yearly membership fee keeps an organized record of your donations for your tax deductions, includes values for thousands of items.
  • Turbo Tax’s It’s Deductible www.itsdeductible.com: Free online resource for compiling the value of your tax deductible charitable donations.

Holidays Simplified

  • {docs} holiday-cards-without-clutter {/docs}: Creative ways to make the most of the cards you receive during the holidays.
  • {docs} good-gift-giving {/docs}: Does just thinking about your holiday gift list make your blood pressure rise, your wallet constrict, and your body break out in a cold sweat? Let’s simplify the whole gift giving by thinking about GIFTS a little differently.
  • {docs} getting-organized-for-the-holidays {/docs}: The holidays do not have to be stressful and overwhelming. A few simple organizational tips will help you make your holidays merry and bright and save you some time and money – precious commodities during the holiday season!
  • {docs} how-to-simplify-in-the-new-year {/docs}: Let’s focus on simply living. Streamline your routine. What can you do to reduce the number of steps you take each morning to get dressed? Can you pack all of your children’s lunches for the week on Sunday evening? Can you pay all of your bills on-line? Streamline. Make it easy.
  • {docs} resolutions {/docs}: We all do it. And we all make them. Resolutions. Particularly New Year’s resolutions. January 1st arrives and we have a clean slate. It is time to begin fulfilling our resolutions. We start down the road to fulfilling our resolutions, but slowly the resolution fades into the background. There is a way to keep your resolutions.
  • {docs} holidaysurvivaltips {/docs}: The holidays seem more stressful than other times of the year. How come? I am convinced that people allow themselves to be stressed by their perceived expectations from others and the symbolic rush of completing the year. Here are ten ways to take back control, time, and maybe even part of your sanity.

Home Organization

  • {docs} top-10-organization-tips {/docs}: Discover the 10 best organizational tips here.
  • {docs} tips-from-the-pros {/docs}: 7 helpful steps to organizing your home.
  • {docs} is-it-just-too-much {/docs}: How can you go from being overwhelmed by your possessions to creating a home that reflects who you are and how you want to live? Start living simply with these tips from organizing guru Peter Walsh.
  • {docs} got-junk-in-your-trunk {/docs}: From school to soccer to ballet to Scouts to play dates to the grocery store- like it or not, your car is your second home. The average family drives over 32 miles a day but it is easy for the busy family to far exceed that average. You know all too well that the time spent in your car adds up to hours each week. And with all your gear, your car can start to look like a dumping ground and a messy one at that. Here are some tips for conquering the junk in your trunk.
  • {docs} cash-in-the-attic {/docs}: During this time of growing economic stresses, the modern American family faces the most severe financial belt-tightening in decades. Along with many of my colleagues, I’ve been fielding a lot of questions lately from curious friends about expenses and costs related to organizing services.
  • {docs} a-clutter-too-deep {/docs}: Getting organized is unquestionably good for both mind and body — reducing risks for falls, helping eliminate germs and making it easier to find things like medicine and exercise gear.
  • {docs} get-house-in-order {/docs}: Slimming down your belongings to just what you really need and use takes time and intention. You don’t have to do it. But know that if you don’t, someone will. That someone may be your grief-stricken spouse, your stressed-out adult children, an estate sale representative who will reap a 25 percent commission, or a county worker assigned to your “case.”
  • {docs} home-staging {/docs}: Staging as a house-selling concept started in 1972 on the West Coast. Now, showcasing the so-called three C’s: cleanliness, clutter reduction and color. Staging has become a hot topic on HGTV shows. Its practitioners include home-staging professionals, interior designers and others.
  • {docs} make-every-foot-count-in-a-smaller-home {/docs}: Whatever the specific catalyst, homeowners and first-time buyers are rediscovering the charms of more modest digs. They’re realizing that square footage, like any number, cannot tell the whole story about that complex environment we call home. They look for quality over quantity, or even decide to stay put rather than upgrade to that larger place they’d had on their wish list.
  • {docs}how-healthy-is-your-medicine-cabinet {/docs}

Home Office Organization

  • {docs} home-offices-urban-home-article {/docs}: As the command center of a home, home offices are the hub of all activity. With so many tasks take place in one space it’s vital that your home office work for you and not against you.
  • {docs} an-orderly-office {/docs}: The author’s home office, where clutter reined and storage space was impropertly used, went from chaos to order after an intervention.

Organization for Children

  • Get your “What’s Up Charlotte” Events & Performing Arts Calendar while supplies last! It’s a calendar LOADED with events in Charlotte for the next 12 months! The who, what, where & when in ONE place! PLUS the contact information for the top Mommy Venues in town for sunny days, rainy days or a day trip away! Even if you can’t go to everything, at least knowing the events actually occurred can help you feel “in the loop!” 
Cost $15.00 with $1.00 of each calendar donated to The Relatives on East Blvd. in Charlotte, NC. E-mail Lori Martin of The Purple Martin & Co. at thepurplemartin@bellsouth.net for your calendar today!
  • {docs} help-your-kids-manage-their-clutter {/docs}: Parents battle the constant influx of stuff — everything from school art projects to gifts from grandparents, hand-me-downs from friends and the plastic freebies that come with fast-food meals. Here are five ideas for taming kids’ clutter.
  • {docs} packing-school-lunches {/docs}: Discover the 3-Ps and you’ll have lunch boxes under control.
  • {docs} prepare-for-back-to-school{/docs}: If you have more than one child and your schedule permits, it’s nice to do back-to-school preparation with each child separately. This gives you one-on-one time and reduces squabbles. Plan time for lunch or a favorite treat while you’re out.
  • {docs} playrooms-urban-home-article {/docs}: Playrooms are friendly places for children to learn and grow. Sometimes even the best playrooms can be your foe … chaotic and cluttered. Want to reclaim your playroom? Make it E.A.S.Y.
  • {docs} party-perfect-little-ones {/docs}: How to celebrate and create memories while avoiding emotional and financial meltdown!
  • {docs} traveling-with-tots {/docs}: Minimize the stress, and maximize the fun of family vacations!

Paper & Time Management / Junk Mail Reduction

  • {docs} can-your-personal-docs {/docs}: What would you do in an emergency? Are you prepared? Would you, a friend, spouse or heir be able to locate your personal papers and financial records? What can you do to be prepared for an emergency?
  • {docs} STOP-doing-the-Paper-Shuffle-and-Save-an-hour-This-Week {/docs}: Executives waste 6 weeks per year searching for lost documents. In the office, many people “shuffle papers” instead of “handling the work”. Projects, clients, ideas are all lost in piles of paper. Why do we do the paper shuffle?
  • {docs} Taming-the-email-monster {/docs}: How many e-mails are in your inbox right now? Opened? Unopened? Waiting for something? When someone asks you if you have received their e-mail, will you bend the truth to ‘cover’ for yourself because you won’t know?
  • {docs} FLOW-Time-Management-Strategies {/docs}: Tick, tick, tick… the hands of a clock turning. Time. As professionals, time is our greatest opportunity AND our greatest liability. How can we capitalize on this opportunity and minimize the liability?
  • {docs} clear-email-inbox-helps-unclutter-your-time {/docs}: I get several hundred e-mails a day, so I laughed the first time I heard the term “Inbox Zero.” It took me about a week to totally clear out my inbox, but boy, did it feel good once I did.
  • {docs} stop-the-junk {/docs}: Stop junk mail and phone solicitations.
  • Tonic MailStopper (fka GreenDimes) mailstopper.tonic.com: $20 a year removes you from all direct marketing lists and plants 5 trees for every person that becomes a member. You receive only the postal mail you want.
  • Consumer Credit Reporting Opt-Out www.optoutprescreen.com: The official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry web site to accept and process requests to opt-in or opt-out of firm offers of credit or insurance.
  • Direct Mail Association dmachoice.org: DMAchoice charges only $1 to remove your address from direct marketing lists. You must renew every 5 years.

Rightsizing: Organizing Your Life

Rightsizing is a process that will profoundly change the way you examine your life. Rightsizing is not simply about organizing, containing and labeling your things. Rightsizing is achieving a harmony between your physical environment and your desired lifestyle.

  • {docs} less-is-more {/docs}: You have decided to streamline your home, now you need some helpful hints to get you started living simply. Here are our favorite tips from organizing guru Peter Walsh.
  • {docs} getting-rid-of-your-folks-belongings {/docs}: It’s natural to be overwhelmed by emotion and your parents’ lifetime accumulation of things. Use these ideas to save time, your sanity and your family relationships.
  • {docs} fewer-better-things {/docs}: Advertisement with special message.
  • {docs} sentimental-attachments {/docs}: Experiences and people make memories, and memories make us who we are. But we
    must realize that things are not memories–they only represent the memories. We simply can’t keep it all! Here are some options to help you let go.

Organizational Products

Books We Love
SIMPLICITY’S TOP TEN READS
The following are books from our personal libraries that we refer to time and time again.  Some titles focus on practical “nuts and bolts” of organizing while others delve more deeply into the psychological obstacles to getting organized.  A few titles are targeted at specific issues, but still have broad appeal.
The public library has many of these titles and all are available on Amazon or from local book retailers.   We hope you’ll be both inspired and instructed.  As always, if you need help, Simplicity’s just a call or click away.
1. “Rightsizing Your Life-Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters Most” by Ciji Ware.
Are you ready to rightsize your life? After a lifetime of striving to have it all, baby boomers are realizing that more isn’t always better.  As they consider their futures, some important questions must be answered.  Where do I want to live now?  Do I still need a big, suburban home?  How can I build a meaningful, happy life without a lot of stuff weighing me down? The book provides a framework for answering these and many other tough questions.
2. “When Organizing Isn’t Enough-SHED” by Julie Morgenstern.
“When you’re eager to make a change in your life, but you are unsure of your new destinations, you need to SHED.  It’s about what comes before and after you heave the clutter, so that the changes you make are effective long term.”
– Separate your Treasures-What is truly worth hanging on to?
– Heave the trash-What’s weighing you down?
– Embrace your identity-Who are you without all your stuff?
– Drive yourself forward-Which direction connects to your genuine self?
3. “Clutter Busting” by Brooks Palmer.
“There is no inherent value in things.  Things themselves are neutral, but we ascribe them false value.  Things will never make you happy.  Nothing, even the most beautiful piece of art, is sacred, except you.  When you take care of yourself, you are happy.  Learn how to clear the way for new and exciting things to come into your life.”
4. “The Other Side of Organized” by Linda Samuels.
Organizing is about more than just finding a place for everything.  It’s about finding a level of order that’s comfortable for you, discovering places and people that renew your energy, and being organized enough to feel balance.  It’s time to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions.” Learn to recognize the visions of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.
5. “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.
David Allen shares his breakthrough methods for stress-free performance. Allen’s premise is simple: “our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective results and unleash our creative potential.” From core principles to proven tricks, Getting Things Done can transform the way you work and live, providing a simple, easy to implement approach for effectively managing and executing all of your tasks without wearing yourself
down.
6. “ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life” by Judith Kolberg & Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D.
This book was written by a professional organizer with a psychologist and ADD expert to address the specific challenges that adults with ADD or those who are chronically disorganized face.  Using humorous but compassionate stories they offer ADD-friendly solutions that will provide long-lasting, life-changing organizing success.
7. “Organizing From the Inside Out” by Julie Morgenstern.
This is a wonderfully helpful book that enables you to organize your time and your life in a quick, simple, practical series of logical steps.
8. “What Every Professional Organizer Needs To Know About Chronic Disorganization”
by Judith Kolberg.
If you are chronically disorganized or trying to help someone who is then you need to understand chronically disorganized people do not organize logically.
This book is an easy read and outlined with practical tips on how to help someone who is chronically disorganized by seeing the project from their point of view.
9. “It’s All Too Much –An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff” by Peter Walsh.
This unique approach helps people learn to let go of the emotional and psychological clutter that literally and figuratively chokes the life out of their homes.  Peter explains the importance of identifying the vision for how you want to live and outlines clear steps for getting there.
10. “Taming the Paper Tiger at Home” by Barbara Hemphill.
Barbara Hemphill tells how to tame the “paper tiger” with quick, practical solutions to managing every piece of paper that comes into your home.   You’ll learn what to toss, what to keep, where to keep it and how to find it when you need it.  A must read for anyone who is ready to banish the piles and stacks of paper that clutter your home.