Monday, December 20, 2010

My Christmas Gift to You

Listen up, last minute and chronically disorganized shoppers – this one is for you.  There are five days until Christmas and you’ve basically missed the boat for online shopping, unless you’re willing to pay outrageous shipping fees.  These three steps to efficient holiday shopping will reduce your stress and keep you on budget. 

Step One – List It
Before walking out the door, you need to make a list and check it twice.  Yes, you are Santa.  On a sheet of paper, or in an Excel spreadsheet (for you computer savvy folks), make eight columns – “Gift Recipient,” “Gift,” “Store,” “Alternate Gift,” “Store,” “Estimate,” “Actual Cost,” “Complete.” 

Under the “Gift Recipient” column, list everyone you need to buy a gift for – and I mean everyone.  List them all here and don’t forget teachers, trainers, great aunts, etc.  In the “Gift” column, write the gift idea.  In the “Store” column, write where you’ll find the gift.  Don’t forget alternate gift ideas in case you can’t find your first choice.  List those ideas and locations under “Alternate Gifts” and the other “Store” column. 

Next, estimate the cost and write it in the “Estimate” column.  This is an easy way to make sure your overall Christmas list fits in your budget. 

Fill in the final two columns after the purchases are made.  Under “Actual Cost,” write in what you spent on the gift.  And finally, put a check in the “Complete” column once the gift has been purchased.  This is like crossing it off your list – no better feeling than that!

Step Two – Map It
Now that you’ve got a shopping list that Santa would envy, it’s time to hop on the computer and map out the stores you need to hit.  Make note of each store’s location and cross streets on your gift list in the “Store” column.  This will save you time when you’re in the trenches.  Group the stores based on their locations and make a plan to hit those stores in the same day.  I like to use different colored highlighters to quickly group my Upper West Side, Midtown, and Downtown shops. 

With you’re shopping list at hand, make a quick a transportation plan to get you most efficiently from one location to the next.  You can write the plan on the back of your shopping list.  You won’t waste money on cabs if you know where you’re going and can get there by subway or foot.

Step Three – Schedule It
Next, you need to block out time on your calendar for shopping.  If you don’t commit to the time, you’re likely to put it off.  And who wants to be in Bloomingdale’s on Christmas Eve anyway? 

Be realistic about how many stores you can hit in one day.  There is nothing worse than a long, exhausting shopping trip; so one option is to hit a neighborhood, like Midtown, and all the stores in that area over a couple of hours on one day.  And remember many stores have early and extended hours, so do some quick research and factor that into your shopping schedule.

And Finally…
Despite the below freezing wind chill, Christmas in New York is the best time of the year, so enjoy the store windows, the tree in Rockefeller Center, and give a smile to your salesperson and fellow shoppers.  You might just get one back. 

Now grab your shopping list and get to it!  Good luck! 

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I can’t tell you how excited I am to start a new blog.  On the excitement scale, this ranks up there with my website going live and my business cards being delivered from the printer.  So, again, welcome, this is a big day! 

I have to be honest up front… I am not a natural born organizer.  I can’t claim that as a child my stuffed animals were perfectly lined up by size, type, and color, and then tracked in an Excel spreadsheet.  First, I am pretty sure Excel didn’t exist back then.  Second, I am pretty sure my mom is reading this blog and would immediately call me out with some sort of snarky comment about the messy room she constantly nagged me to clean.  My point is that there is hope for everyone out there!

My organizing skills developed somewhere along the way.  The first time I remember someone telling me I was hyper-organized (in other words, crazy) was in college when my roommate and BFF commented on my color-coded study notes on index cards.  Even back then, I thought that was normal behavior, but I guess not… 

What I do know is that the organizing obsession that has ruled my life for so many years now is the way I clear my mind, focus on priorities, center my life, and ultimately get things done.  And it feels so good to finally help other people live a more organized and stress free life.

Part of the reason for starting this blog is that the cost of an ever changing and expanding website is not exactly manageable for a new businesswoman such as myself.  The idea is that this blog is my outlet to share all the wonderful things about organizing – from tips, time savers, products, and other good stuff – and in the process, inspire you to live a more organized and simplified life.

So thank you for reading and allowing me to share my experiences.  I look forward to sharing many, many more in the future.