Category: Commentaries (Page 3 of 6)

Meal Planning For The Heck of It

Cyndi Seidler meal planning

Willy-nilly daily meal plans may work for some people however, without thought-out advanced planning, we may end up ordering fast food or dining out, or even having to thaw food out in the microwave last minute.

I think people on special diets would be planning their meals for the week in order to stay on track with what they eat and ensure some variety each day.

Meal plans make shopping for food a lot easier, too. Once you know what you’ll be preparing during the week, you can check to see if you have all the necessary ingredients on hand for those meals.

Sometimes however we just want to have some ideas in mind for our meals throughout the week. In this case, having a list of meal ideas written down is a good way to have at-a-glance plans.

meal planning menu board

I like to have a nice framed chalkboard for my meal planning menu board that I can erase each week. Also you can list your planned meals on paper that you hang up on the fridge or some place in kitchen is another way.

Creating a meal plan …

The way I like to create my meal plan for the week is to go through my recipes. I love this app called AnyList to collect recipes I like from the Internet (without having to type in the recipe), as well as ones I create. The app includes a shopping list for free, but has an very small annual fee for the recipes.

You can also look through cookbooks or even Pinterest boards that contain food recipes. And there’s Facebook recipe groups galore, so you could use those as another resource for ideas.

I write down (7) seven meal ideas on a notepad. I also check the ingredients I’ll need for those meals. If I already have chicken, for example, I may make a point to find a recipe I haven’t tried yet that includes chicken, just for variety.

Meal planning is something that you want to develop as a routine so that you do this every week. Pick a day to plan the meals before food shopping, then do your shopping on another day.

Bon App├ętit!

Benefits of Pretending To Move When You’re Not

Cyndi Seidler professional organizer los angeles

If we were to look around right now at all our stuff, it may seem like a harmless array of belongings, especially if we’ve surrounded ourselves with a lot of this and that.

Yet, if we were to look around at our stuff with the idea that we’re moving, it may suddenly seem like an overwhelming task to pack up and take everything with us that we’ve accumulated, especially if every square inch of space is occupied.

When people move, they typically take the opportunity to get rid of stuff, either by tossing, donating, or selling at a garage sale. It’s particularly necessary when you have to move to a smaller place that has less space and storage.

So let’s say you’ve opened up that jammed linen closet to pull out some sheets. Now look inside and pretend you’re going to move. What would you take and what would you get rid of?

If you made those decisions now, you would be streamlining the possessions you have, which makes it a lot easier to pack up and move with. And better yet, you’ve just sorted out what you absolutely need – no more, no less.

A friend of mine always seemed to be getting ready for a move, even when she didn’t have an immediate moving destination. She would constantly be going through her belongings and either getting rid of stuff or packing things up for garage storage, particularly keepsakes.

So, like my friend, I allowed myself the time to review my belongings and determine if I wanted to take it with me or if I could say my good-byes to it. This always gave me the chance to re-evaluate what I really cared about the most.

There have even been times that, after I move and am getting settled, that I end up re-evaluating an item again as I unpack. I then end up getting rid of even more stuff, oddly enough.

I actually went through a recent move 5 months ago. My calamitous display of decor and floral arrangements was going to be too much for my new place, so I had to make some decisions.

If only I had lived as if I was going to move (someday), that this last move would have been a lot easier on me. It goes without saying that I would have needed less boxes for packing.

So now I look around regularly at my stuff to make sure I love everything, that everything has value and a good use for me, and so on.

I now pass this wisdom on to you. Do with it what you will. But always know that pretending can be a fun game all in itself, so give it a try!

What Should Be In A Junk Drawer?

Cyndi Seidler Organize junk drawer

Most of us have what is commonly called a “Junk Drawer” which holds an a sundry of non-related items that we want handy access to.

The actual reason it becomes “junk” is when we end up throwing things in it just to get it out of sight and don’t know where else to put it, or don’t want to bother putting it where it should go.

I believe in having junk drawers. But not ones that actually contain junk. What I mean is, I like having miscellaneous items handy in a drawer that I often use or want quick access to – like scissors, razor blade, tape, pens, a tape measure, twisty-ties for bags, rubber bands, a note pad, matches, toothpicks, lighter, maybe keys, and the like.

Throwing receipts, written notes, fast food condiment bags, household hardware, or anything that doesn’t have a need to be used often (or never again) is what becomes a cluttered drawer, especially with accumulated abundance of these things.

If you want to go a step further in compiling your handy items for the junk drawer, get a drawer divider to categorize or group things. Certain things, like rubber bands, could be in containers. It’s just another way to create a smiling drawer when you open it.

Now, this drawer is a one-of-a-kind type of drawer. It also has “personal preference” settings, just like setting up your settings in a new account. It’s going to differ from person to person based on their need of having something handy.

So, in deciding what should go in your junk drawer, figure out your personal preferences for what you need to have around so you have quicker access to it. Keep everything else out of it.

In With The New, Out With The Old

Cyndi Seidler Organizing Lady

This is a philosophy that has been a long been standing guideline among the professional organizer community. When you bring in something new, get rid of something old.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be “old” to get rid of it. It just has to be older than what you bring in that’s new. It could be something no longer useful, no longer worn, no longer stylish, no longer loved, whatever. But it existed in your space longer than the new item you just brought in.

I, for one, love garage sales and thrift shops. Buying second-hand stuff is like a treasure hunt because I’ll often find things I wouldn’t find in a retail store and at half the cost. But I have to shop smartly, especially when it comes to room decor and art.

When I shop with my daughter, she has to point out what I’m not thinking about at the moment of my new discovery. “Mom, where are you going to put that?” she asks. I then look around my room mentally and can’t find a surface for it anywhere! Darn her!

Now, if I really, really wanted it, I would have to determine what item I could replace it with. No, the tabletop candelabra has to stay. But can I just move that somewhere else possibly? I ask myself. Well, what about that floral vase on the end table? I keep scoping the room out in my mind.

If I am able to find a place for it while scanning the room in my mind, I buy it. But I must really love it in order to buy it at the risk of having to get rid of something else though!

I’ve always had this same principle (or rule) going on regarding my clothes closet, as well. When I buy some new clothing or pair of shoes, I force myself to pull out something I haven’t worn in awhile or no longer love. Sometimes it hurts, but I make myself part with something.

And people love their books. One person I know purchased extra bookshelves to hold all their books, but now there isn’t anymore room for more bookshelves. What if they forced themselves to get rid of a book every time they bought a new book?

Imagine how much better our lives would be when we’re more in control of the belongings we have with this one simple guideline?

To put things into perspective, I try to think of the organized spaces I created and if I would be disrupting the harmonics of the room if I added too much to it. There are some hard choices to make when buying stuff.

Belongings are often personal. So are we willing to let go of something we have in order to replace it with something else? If we part ways with an item, will it haunt us later? Are we so fearful of letting go of something and later think that we wished we kept it?

I’m planning a trip with my daughter to some local thrift shops soon. I’ve gotten even wiser now though. I take photos of my rooms so there’s no mind-guessing on available space and occupied surfaces.

Maybe I’d have to rearrange some decor items on my bookshelf, but I don’t mind that so much. I just have to be careful to not clutter it up!

Of all the guiding rules I try to follow, I must not fall into that idea, “If there’s space somewhere, a woman will fill it.” While I believe that to have some truth – especially in this one area I just moved something out of, leaving a space void – I must keep trying to visualize the “openness” of the area now.

It’s killing me right now, but maybe it will stay an open space, maybe not. Time will tell, depending on my next thrift store treasure find.

The empty space between fireplace and cart. How long will it last?

The Big Get Organized Plot

Cyndi Seidler Professional Organizer

Every story has a plot – a design or setup to an outcome. If there is no plot, the story doesn’t go in a direction to an end.

So let’s say that we want to create our story of getting organized, and we have a plan: “to get organized.” We would need to develop an outline, of sorts, to layout the plan and know our course of action.

Once we have the basic game plan to get organized, we can make projections of the time frame this story plays out. It might be a day, a week, maybe even a month as to when our story begins to when it ends.

But time isn’t what’s really important in the plot, although we don’t want the story to go on endlessly. It’s more about the tactical steps we take in this undertaking.

As we start out, the plot begins to unfold. Now we can see things more clearly, and the “characters” in the plot (the items of clutter) take on new meanings. Usually, they end up having no meaning at all!.

The thing to watch out for in the story is that there is a climax – a point where things reach a maximum pinnacle or utmost turning point.

With clutter, it’s typically the mess we make while going through the process of getting organized. Yet, another circumstance might be that you don’t have a place to put all that clutter you’ve gathered up.

Tensions rise. What do we do with the stuff?!

Well, we find a place for the stuff, or we get rid of the stuff. That’s the resolution to the end of the story.

Then, our story has a happily ever after!

Enjoying Your Remote Home Office

For those of us who work from home or work remotely, we need to ensure our work space is not only functional, but enjoyable as well.

It goes without saying that clutter is the biggest enemy of an office. So, get rid of it first and foremost.

Now, I don’t usually write dated posts (time sensitive material), however this subject comes to you at this time because of the COVID-19 self-quarantine mandates which have sent a lot of people home to work remotely.

I’ll be getting into some of the essentials you need (and probably already have) for working remotely, but first I want to get into home office aesthetics.

Make your surroundings smile at you

Your office should be a happy office space. As for me personally, I love to surround myself with things that say, “This is me” – Things that I love and things I like to look at when I glance up from my computer.

As you’ll see from my own office photos (below), I love film-making and old Hollywood movies, so I have old movie posters on my walls, a couple movie clapboards, a film reel wall hook, even a director’s chair with an authentic Warner Bro’s back rest showing it once belonged to Clark Gable.

Other things I love which have a more functional nature include some not-so-typical office supplies. Like me, you could also find a decorative receptacle to hold your pens instead of a typical pen holder. Or a nice looking tray basket for your mail and/or paper instead of plastic trays. And why not use some pretty storage suitcases or bins to store office stuff in?

I love adding fresh cut flowers in the office space too. Live plants can lift the spirit of the room, as well. And let’s not forget some aromatic scents, like candles or a diffusion of essential oils.

Get the point? Put your personality and tastes into the work space and you’ll feel much better in it. As a matter of fact, the moment I did a recent office makeover, I find that I really like to be in there a lot more now. Go figure.

Okay, so now let’s get into some of what you need to work remotely …

Remote office essentials

Working remotely requires a different set of resources and tools. It would seem to me that you’re pretty much operating with what you need at this time, so I don’t want to elaborate a whole lot here. But I’ll give you a checklist anyway.

Equipment

  • Computer / laptop (duh!)
  • Printer, scanner, copier (an all-in-one machine is a good choice)
  • WiFi / High speed Internet
  • Surge protector
  • External hard drive
  • Noise canceling headphones
  • Shredder

Productivity

  • Platform used by your co-workers or clients
  • Cloud-based storage
  • Adequate software needs
  • Good communication technology (like email, Skype, Zoom, etc.)
  • Adherence to a schedule and routines

Office Space

  • A dedicated room or area
  • Comfortable chair (ideally an ergonomics chair)
  • Good lighting
  • File cabinet
  • Fire-safe box or case
  • Desktop supply and file holders
  • Tray baskets
  • Bulletin board
  • Sufficient storage for office materials / supplies

These are by no means meant to be a comprehensive guide on working remotely, but I hope it helps anyway.

By having what you need and having what you LOVE, you should now be complete.

Life In The Organized Zone

Imagine, if you will, walking into your home and getting a sense of calm and serenity and complete delight with your environment. Everything in front of you is pleasing; everything you look at makes you happy.

That zone of comfort and delight is what brings joy. And that zone is The Organized Zone.

Unlike my short-lived TV series, Disorganized Zone (available on Netflix) that made a 1-season debut, the zone I’m talking about here is quite the opposite. Because, in the Organized Zone, the outcome of our day is predictable and doesn’t have the hiccups like that in the Disorganized Zone.

In the Organized Zone, we get more things done, we have more time for ourselves, we are able to keep up with responsibilities and tasks, things like that. Top that off with a uncluttered spaces and you’ve got a happier, more functional person.

For those of you who find yourself in the opposite zone, let me see if I can help you get to the other side.

First, try to envision what you want your area to look and feel like. Picture it it your mind with as much clarity as you can muster. I think it’s best to stand in the non-optimum room you want to fix while doing this and close your eyes as you envision it.

By mentally redecorating your area, you can clearly visualize the ideal look and feel you want that room to have. It actually comes to life in your mind.

Follow this exercise with writing down everything in your vision – every detail that your vision came up with. It could be some new furniture pieces, a room cleared of clutter and debris that doesn’t belong there, a new wall color, maybe even some new accent furnishings.

I did this with someone who wanted a complete makeover in her family room. She was extremely unhappy with the space and asked me to do a makeover. Yet she had no idea what she wanted it to look like after the transformation (except it being clutter-free, of course).

In order to draw out a vision for this room, we first had to determine what kind of atmosphere and surroundings she would like to be in the most. It turned out that it was a medieval castle!

Well, I wasn’t expecting that, needless to say. However, I went with that and dived in further.

I wrote down what she envisioned the room to look like, every detail I could get out of her. I then drew up a room plan and, with her blessing, I went shopping. It was more of a treasure hunt actually, due to some of the pieces I had to find!

I found everything we wanted except for a desk unit, because the ones I saw would not go with the vibe of the room she envisioned. So I designed it myself and had it custom made. Thank goodness this expense fit within her budget!

Clearing out everything in her family room for the makeover was easy – she wasn’t going to keep anything in it except the TV. So I had a clean slate to work with.

Walls were faux-painted, new curtains were hung, the TV was draped in velvet fabric for a theater-styled enclosure, new furniture got placed strategically, and home accent pieces adorned the area, including the wrought iron floor candelabras.

I’d like to claim it was my masterpiece, but it was actually hers – she designed it with her vision and I just carried it out to the specifications of that vision.

I wish I kept the Before-After photos of this project, but it was a long time ago and those pictures got lost in a digital black hole.

My whole point in that scenario is that here was someone who had an area she didn’t like and transformed it. She not only stepped into The Organized Zone by clearing out all clutter from it, she stepped into her little slice of heaven.

Whenever you’re ready to create your own slice of heaven in your spaces, this just might help you to get started. Happy adventures doing so!

Good Organizing Habits To Help Keep Your Sanity

cyndi seidler the organizing lady

Habits, routines, bla, bla, bla, yadda-yadda. How many times do we hear those words and yet fail to fully understand the concept behind them?

I’m guessing these are just words that some of us don’t really take wholeheartedly (or enthusiastically) in the scheme of our daily life.

Whereas a routine is a regular course of procedure, a habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary (as defined in Merriam-Webster dictionary).

Heaven-forbid, I hope I haven’t lost you in the defining details!

Hate ’em or love ’em, habits and routines do help in managing some of our regular activities. So I’m here to give you a few guidelines that involve being organized that will help put some sanity in your life.

So I’m going to talk about one of the key rules of organizing: Put things away where they belong when done using them.

Everything should have a place, a home, in which it belongs. Our clothes belong in the closet; our books belong on a designated shelf; our kitchen dishes belong in the kitchen cabinet, and so forth.

Beyond that, dirty clothes belong in the hamper; dirty dishes go in the dishwasher or sink to be washed; and books we’re reading belong in a reading spot.

That said, the rule of putting things away applies to just about anything and everything we have around.

In bringing in the mail, for example, it should have a specific place to go (that isn’t on a dining table or end table or plopped on any piece of furniture. Tossing mail to conveniently avoid putting it in its “home” will only build up clutter and extra anxiety later on.

Then there’s the case of putting items in a certain “holding” place and not completing the action to get that item into its proper home.

I’m talking about dirty dishes in this scenario. I know some people who hate washing dishes and pile up dirty dishes in one side of the sink and on the counter for days. Although that is the spot for dirty dishes, the routine would have to include actually washing them (and putting them away) on a daily basis to avoid pile-up.

I’ve probably elaborated enough on the rule to put things away, so I’ll move on to making that habit into a routine.

Simply put, it’s a good idea to incorporate the habit of putting things away into the routine of doing it on a regular or daily basis.

When I’m done with a meal, I make it a routine to clean up the kitchen before I move on to something else. In other words, I don’t actually start something else until I’m done with kitchen cleanup.

And with laundry, when I’m done with washing and drying the clothes, I make it a routine to put my clothes away where they belong before doing something else. The clean clothes don’t sit around for hours or days to get put away – they are done as part of the laundry activity.

My life is calmer as a result of having routines that involve finishing the activities I start. That means I get some sanity in the areas I put attention on.

Get the idea?

Well, give it a try and see how your life goes. You never know how it will change your well being by following this one simple organizing rule.

5 Day Room Makeover Challenge

As we find ourselves staying more at home during the Covid-19 virus quarantine, I wanted to come up with a 5-Day Room Makeover Challenge to help occupy your time at home.

We’ve been so busy and in a hurry that things at home start accumulating and piling up into what becomes clutter. It gets to the point where sometimes we don’t even notice the mess after it’s been around for awhile.

Now that a lot of us are stuck at home due to the Corona virus, you’re also stuck in the mess we created. So this is my challenge for you to take the time to do something about that.

Start with picking out a room that’s frowning at you. Then look around it. Take photos, even a video of it.

Each day for 5 days, tackle those rooms you’re not happy with. Some rooms may take more than a day and some rooms won’t need your attention at all. If you get this challenge done in a day or two, that’s great! Well done!

Post your before pictures as well as your after pictures in the comments below and let’s do this together!

Note: Also share this Challenge on Facebook and Instagram – follow at:

https://facebook.com/organizinglady

Instagram – @organizinglady2020


5 TIPS FOR 5 DAYS

TIP #1:

Gather up anything that is out of place in a room and put those items away. If you have a lot of things around to gather up, put them in a bin and put away after you’re done gathering.

TIP #2:

Go through any “STUFF” bins that you’ve gathered up from the room you’re organizing and decide if you’re keeping it, if it needs a “home” (because you didn’t have a place for it yet), and categorize the items – clothing, books and magazine, etc. – into other bins or bags.

TIP #3:

Go online and shop for any storage solutions you may need to provide “homes” for items that haven’t had a nice home to live in. If it’s visible storage, make sure it fits in with your decor.

TIP #4:

Donate or toss anything you don’t use, don’t need, don’t like, etc. Try to get rid of all the excess items we tend to keep and streamline your belongings.

TIP #5

Refresh your de-cluttered room with new paint, new throw pillows, new art, whatever will make you happier in that space.

Achieving The Perfect Fit For Your Stuff

In the ideal world of having stuff, we would be able to have all the stuff we want in the spaces we have. Yet, in the real world this isn’t always the case for those of us who have small spaces and not enough storage.

I’ve seen overcrowded bookshelves with more books than can fit on the shelves. I’ve seen clothes closets so jammed with clothes that you can hardly pull out a piece of clothing. I’ve dealt with stuffed food cabinets, jam-packed file cabinets, cramped linen closets, packed cleaning supply spaces, over-flowing hair and makeup products, more DVDs and CDs than you can listen to in half a lifetime, you name it.

Essentially, I’ve seen more stuff loaded into spaces that just aren’t able to fit them all.

Often times, the spill over of stuff ends up in other areas. That’s not a terrible thing if you have other areas to house the stuff. But that’s just wishful thinking to many of us.

So I’m going to bring up yet another organizing rule (the other rule is about time covered in my article Good Organizing Habits To Keep Your Sanity). This rule is: Fit items in the space allowed for those items without over-crowding the space.

What does this mean for those jammed areas of stuff? Well, simply put, it means to thin out the herd, to get rid of some stuff. It means going through those crowded areas of stuff and deciding what we can live without.

At one time my linen closet contained numerous blankets that I think I was collecting and saving for a guest-army sleepover. It wasn’t until a disaster hit another country resulting in supplies, like blankets, becoming in dire need.

So I went through my blankets and sundry of throws and began to fill a rather sufficient donate bag. When I was done, I had left myself enough blankets to accommodate weather change blankets and one for the guest bed. And my closet looked GREAT when I was done, the now perfect fit for my blankets! Who knew?!

Not only that, but it felt good to donate stuff that I really didn’t need but others needed. I feel the same way about donating to other places as well because people can find second-hand goods they need or want at half the normal retail cost. So, I’m contributing to a good cause when I’m getting rid of my stuff.

Okay, I may have gotten a little off topic on donating stuff, yet I felt it was relevant in what we can do with the stuff we’re getting rid of. I certainly don’t want you to box it up and store it! Please!

And that brings me to my last point on this subject – don’t store what you don’t use (unless it’s important papers or photos). Storage areas, like a garage or attic, should only contain archival boxes. For example, if you’re storing dishware that you don’t use, ask yourself, “Why?”

Space for most of us is a valuable commodity. Use it well without over-using its capacity. A freed-up space is a happier space, and that happiness bounces right back to you.

May all your spaces smile at you!

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