Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Organized Purse is a Happy Purse

What’s one thing that is scientifically proven to lead to fried brain cells and skyrocketing stress levels?  A messy and disorganized purse!  Just think about how many minutes you’ve wasted digging for keys and searching for lip gloss.  But saving your sanity and your time is not the only reason to get your purse organized.  Getting organized will extend the life of your purse.  Gum and ink stains can ruin the purse lining and overstuffing causes purses to loose shape and the leather to wear more quickly.

So, here are my quick tips to keep your purse organized. 

Carry only what you need.  Make a commitment to stop carrying things you don’t use on a daily basis.  Empty the contents of your purse, and ask yourself a few questions about each item –
  • When did I last use it?
  • Why do I have it?
  •  Where should it be stored?

Of course, there might be a rare emergency when you actually need the extra gloves and umbrella that you’ve been carrying like a pack mule for the last six months.  However, chances are you’re a block away from a Duane Reade or bodega where you could grab a replacement in a pinch. 

Sort your things.  Now that you’ve pared down your purse to only the most essential items, group all like items together.  For example, you might have spare change, items related to health and beauty, or snacks and gum. 

Love these from Stephanie Johnson
Contain your things.  To keep things from getting lost in the bottom of your purse, you’ll want to keep them contained and easily accessible.  This is a way to have fun with organizing.  Buy products that you love, and you’re more likely to use them to stay organized.  Some of my favorite containers are from Stephanie Johnson.  She makes every size imaginable, and the designs are fantastic.  If this doesn’t work for you, Ziploc bags will also do the trick. 

Find the right bag.  You might be thinking, shouldn’t I buy the bag first?  Well, no, that’s not the case.  You first want to determine what your essential items are, and then buy a purse to fit those items.  Keep in mind the weight of the bag, and stay away from anything too heavy.  A fabulous bag can still be functional, so make sure that at a minimum there are easy access pockets for your most critical items – keys, cell phone, and wallet.

Establish a routine.  Put everything in the same place every time.  If you carry work related items like files or a notebook, store them all together in the same general area of your purse.  Do this for all items, and you’ll be amazed that your days of searching will be over.

Outside view
Buy the amazing key hook.  With this contraption hooked on the edge of your purse, you’ll never riffle through your bag searching for keys again.  FranklinCovey sells some online here.  Go ahead, embrace the cheesiness, and buy one now.  
Inside View

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ten Tips to Get Out the Door Faster

If you’re anything like me, you are not a morning person.  I move the quickest from late morning into the afternoon.  So to help everyone else out there like me, here are ten tips to get out the door faster in the morning.

1. Establish an evening routine.  Before you go to bed, check your schedule, plan outfits, and pack lunches for the next day.  Make sure bags, purses, and backpacks are packed and next to the door (see tip number nine).  That goes for you and your kids.

2. Create an “Out the Door” checklist.  Make a list of all things you need before walking out the door:  keys, wallet, sunglasses, cell phone, Blackberry, umbrella, kids’ homework, kids…  We don’t want a Home Alone scenario here.  If there are specific items for the day, make note on the checklist the night before.  Make extra copies and replace the checklist once you’ve added notes to it.  Put the checklist near the door and quickly review it before heading out.

3. Use a Door Organizer.  Hang this on your door to hold your keys, cell phone, wallet, bills to mail, and any other critical items.  You can also include your “Out the Door” checklist here.

4. Find your favorite, portable breakfast.  Healthy options like granola bars, yogurt, fruit, and even toast are the best.  You can eat them on the train or in the car.

5. Have the coffee ready to go.  Set the timer the night before so your coffee is brewing by the time you wake up.  Don’t have a timer on your coffee machine?  Load the coffee the night before and turn on the machine before hopping in the shower.

6. Create a morning routine.  If I’m blow drying my hair, I know I’ve got 15 minutes until I need to walk out the door.  I don’t even have to check the clock.  Figure out the order in which you and your family do things, set a schedule and stick to it.

7. Don’t respond to emails unless it’s urgent.  There is a reason they call it a Crackberry.  Ignore your Blackberry (or whatever device you use) and respond to emails on the train or once you get to your desk.  

8. Simplify your primping time.  Are you the type of person that can't select outfits the night before?  If so, focus on your closet's organization.  Make sure work clothes are grouped together and easily accessible so you can see what you have and select an outfit quickly.  Separate the beauty products you use on a daily basis and keep them in trays or baskets for easy access.  For the guys, shave in the shower.  

9. Designate one area near the door for each family member.  Give each person a bin and a hook so they can quickly grab coats, gloves, and bags.  If you have limited entryway space, use your coat closet with stackable bins and extra storage on the back of the door like this for accessories and umbrellas.  Don't forget to label bins and slots for each family member.

10. If all else fails, give yourself some time.  If you try tips one through nine, and you’re still struggling, set your clock ten minutes fast.  It might sound silly, but you won’t know if it works until you try it.  This trick might not save you time in the morning, but at least you won't be late for work.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Taming of the Wires

Just in time for the Super Bowl last weekend, I decided to tackle another big organizing project around the house – the unsightly wires behind the entertainment center.  Some people might say – out of sight, out of mind.  But I disagree and recently more than one person has asked for tips on this topic. 

So, here is my advice to organize those wires and my suggestions on wire-organizing products that work best.  Trust me, tackling this project now will save you hours of frustration in the future, if you decide to move or to rearrange the living room.  Plus, organized wires make it much easier to clean behind the entertainment center; not to mention, a whole mess of wires must be a fire hazard. 

Step One:  Assess
Your first step is to assess the mess.  Carefully pull back your entertainment system from the wall to determine the number of devices you have plugged in and the number of wires that are running wild back there.  You definitely want a good assessment of the number, type, and size of wires so that you know how many wire-organizing products to purchase in Step Two.

Behind our entertainment center, we have wires for the television, Nintendo Wii (no, I don’t have kids), surround sound system with four speakers, cable box, cable modem, and wireless Internet router.  All in all, that’s around 25 various wires in different shapes and sizes.  

Step Two:  Shop
Now that you’ve got a sense of the number of wires you’re dealing with, it’s time to shop for wire-organizing products.  I stopped by my organizing mecca, The Container Store.  Naturally, at The Container Store on Sixth Avenue, they have an entire section devoted to wire-organizing products. 

During your assessment (Step One), you likely found you have around four sizes of wires back there:  heavy duty, large, medium, and small.  Here are my favorite products for each size:
  • Heavy Duty – Your heaviest wires are likely from your television, especially if you have an HD TV and cable box.  The Cable Zipper is phenomenal to keep these wires organized.  I found myself wishing I had more cables to zip.
  • Large – For wires the size of regular cable wire, the XL Cable Organizer is a gem.
  • Medium – For wires the size of those you’d find on regular small appliances and lamps, the Giant Cable Turtle is the best.
  • Small – For your thinnest wires, likely found on surround sound speakers, go with the Small Cable Turtle (NOT the Mini Cable Turtle).
And don’t forget to save your receipt to return what you don’t end up using.

Step Three:  Organize
Again, you’ll want to carefully pull back the entertainment system from the wall.  Next, take a deep breath because before you organize the wires, you’re most likely going to have to untangle them.  Turn off the power to all devices and get to work.  During the untangling, if you need to unplug wires from a device, use a Post-it note to write down where the wire should be re-inserted.  This is important, because unless you are a skilled technician, remembering where each wire goes can be overwhelming. 

Once the wires are untangled and most likely spread across your living room, it’s time to put the organizing products to work.  Start with the wires creating the most clutter.  Then, wire-by-wire, you’re going to wrap them up with each type of wire-organizer.  For some wires that are plugged in next to each other, you might be able to wrap them together in one organizer. 

Once all wires are organized, label the wires near the power strip (safety first – use a power strip!) where they are plugged in.  At The Container Store, they had these fancy things to label wires, but a label maker works as well.


Finally, don’t forget to dust and vacuum back there while you’ve got the entertainment system pulled back.

All in all, it’s not as scary as it sounds.  Start to finish, I spent about two hours on this project, including shopping time.  And I managed to wrap it up in time for my husband to watch the Packers beat the Steelers.