Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Guest Blog Post: Five Tips to Jump-start Your Vacation Planning

Greetings from Palm Springs! I'm officially on vacation out on the West Coast visiting friends and family and finding time to relax. I'm also taking a break from blogging. 

So this week, I have a special guest blog post from Paula Rizzo, founder of ListProducer.com, a site to help others become more organized, focused, and efficient while being less stressed. As the Senior Health Producer for FoxNews.com, she's an Emmy Award winner and attributes much of her success to her compulsive list making.

Check out these tips from Paula to jump-start your vacation planning. Summer is flying by, but you still have time to plan a last minute getaway... 

Picture it: You and your favorite person sipping cocktails poolside, warm sunshine, the scent of suntan lotion wafting through the air, fabulous music courtesy of a steel drum band, your to-do list consists of “relax,” “sleep late” and “eat out,” you’re far far away from reality - you’re on vacation!

Makes you want to plan a vacation, doesn’t it?  Me too! Here’s my list for planning a vacation:

1. Set a Budget

This is my least favorite step – but it must be done first. This will determine everything else.  Figure out how much you can set aside comfortably to spend on this vacation.  You don’t want to stress yourself out by spending out of your means and then jeopardize how much “fun” you can have on your trip. 

2. Decide Travel Length

Your budget will help you figure this out but also think about what sort of activities you’ll be doing when you set your trip’s length.  I will never turn down a chance to lie on the beach -- but a beach vacation can get boring.  I can’t really do it for more than five days.  But if I were traveling to Europe, I’d want more time to see all the sights and really absorb the culture. 

3. Do Your Homework

This is my favorite part! I’m a research nerd at heart – maybe that’s why I became a journalist. I troll discount websites like Expedia, Travelocity, JetSetter and LuxuryLink for inspiration and deals. 

I go to Barnes and Noble or the library to look through travel books and magazines to see what are the best locations to go at that time of year and for info on “hot spots.” I check weather, flying or driving times, cuisine and activities. I’m pretty much obsessed with Rick Steves and his books and videos. I’ve used his guides for more than one trip, and they are always spot on.

If I have time I’ll visit a travel agent. Even if I don’t book with them, I feel like they give you good insight into what’s worth it and what’s not. They probably hate when people do this, but I think it’s a great researching tool.

4. Get Recommendations

Talking to friends and family to get feedback is key. This is probably the best way you can get a feel for a place without going. I like to go on trip review sites like TripAdvisor and Fodor’s because they have endless recommendations from people all over the world.  The only problem with these sites is that I don’t know these people.  So what might be a great vacation for one person might not be a great one for me. 

5. Devote Time to Your Search

If you take your time making this decision you’ll be happier in the end.  The more time you give yourself to plan - the better. You never want to say “I wish I would have checked that out first.”  Do a little research each day so you don’t get overwhelmed.  Make a list of the resorts or locations you like best and compare them.  A pro and con list also comes in handy when trying to narrow down your choices.

Happy Travels!  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My New Obsession


It’s official. I have a new obsession. I can’t get enough of Pinterest. In case you haven’t heard of it (and aren’t yet a user), Pinterest is a site that connects people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.

If you are a visual person like me, you’ll love this site. As you come across images of things you find interesting on the Internet, you can “pin” them onto “boards” you create. You can organize your pinboards by topic. I’m primarily using my account for work inspiration like organizing products I love, ideas for clients, and organized spaces that appeal to me. However, the options are limitless. To name a few, you could use Pinterest to track recipes, to plan a wedding, and to redecorate your home.

I’ve only just begun, and the pins in my boards are still growing, but I would love for you to check it out and follow me.

If you’re interested in joining Pinterest, send me an email at kkb@UrbanSimplicityNYC.com, and I’ll send you an invite to join. I look forward to connecting with you all on Pinterest soon!   

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Organizer's Bag of Tricks

When I show up at a client’s home or office, I always bring my bag of tricks. Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic wand so I can effortlessly whip the space into shape. (I’m working on it.) Instead, my bag of tricks consists of the tools I have on hand to run a seamless organizing session.

I imagine professional organizers in other cities with beautifully designed car trunks full of supplies with everything they could ever need for a client visit. But in New York City, we have to be as efficient and practical as possible, because without cars, we schlep our tools around. Sometimes I feel like a pack mule.

This week, I have a sneak peak into my fabulous work bag.  Hopefully, you’ll learn some tricks of the trade that you can use when getting organized.

I shopped for the perfect work bag for weeks looking for something durable, yet sleek with lots of compartments. I settled on this bag from Lululemon (in black). Love it. With all the pockets, my tools have a home, which is important to keep a bag organized. For more tips on organizing your purse or bag, check out my blog post.

Lululemon Fast In Flight Tote 


So what are the “magical” tools in my bag? Here’s the list:
  • Labels – Colored removable dots, address labels, file folder labels, box labels, key tags. You name it. I’ve got it.
  • Label Maker – I love my compact P-Touch 1090. Plus extra label tape and batteries.
  • General Supplies – Tape measure, pens, mechanical pencils, Sharpies, highlighters, mini-stapler, extra staples, tape, scissors, paper clips, binder clips, and a letter opener all in one case.
  • Compact Camera – For before and after photos.
  • Furniture Sliders – For reconfiguring rooms.
  • Clipboard – A must to keep papers organized.
  • Paper Products – Post-it Notes, note cards, envelopes, file folders, printer paper and graph paper for project plans.
  • NYC Map – Better safe than sorry.
  • Rubber Gloves – You never know.
  • Mini-Medicine Cabinet – Band-Aids (for evil paper cuts), hand sanitizer, hand lotion, hair ties, bobby pins, Kleenex, gum, Tic Tacs, and pain reliever all in one case. 
  • Notebooks – One for general business that never leaves my side and one for client notes.
  • Client Files – To keep file folders from wear and tear on the go, slip them into a plastic cover like this.
  • Personal Essentials – Wallet, keys, business cards, Blackberry, sunglasses, Fresh lip treatment, a bottle of water, and snacks. (A hungry organizer is not a happy organizer.)
Using solely the contents of my bag and my organizing skillz, I do my best to keep clients happy and get them organized. 

My other trick is that I created a checklist of all these items, which I keep in my work bag. When I notice I’m running low on something, I quickly make note on the checklist so I don’t forget to replace or replenish it.

Am I missing any must-have items in my bag?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Before and After: Public Relations Professional's Bedroom and Closets

This week, for the first time ever on my blog, I’m sharing some before and after photos from a recent project. Get excited!

This busy, public relations professional, was struggling to keep her bedroom and closets organized. Urban Simplicity was able to help, and here are the results.

Desk and Files
The desk in her bedroom was cluttered to the point that it was no longer useful. Her original purpose for the desk was to have a space to file personal paperwork and keepsakes. She also wanted a clear space to focus on her sewing projects. 

Before
After

Beauty Products - Closet
Through her work, she was constantly receiving beauty products from clients, and they were overtaking her closet.  We cleared a shelf, sorted the products by type, and set-up labeled bins to keep them organized.

Before
After

Bedside Table
This space next to her bed is the last thing she sees before drifting off to sleep, and it needed to be simplified. We pared down the products to just those she uses before bed. She also often reads in bed, so we added a lamp, and added some magazine storage under the bed.
Before
After

If you enjoyed these before and after photos, please let me know, and I'll be happy to share more in future posts.