Friday, October 31, 2008

Eva's Edict: End of Month Paper Purge!

It's the end of the month again... Let's roll out another one of Eva's Edict!

Want to be in the game? GREAT! I'll post your story in my next blog.

OK, let's GO!

Today, I'd like you to choose ONE area of paperwork to focus on, to Clean Out, Clear Out, Close Out.

Even though you might have piles of papers all around you, we're going to ZOOM in and focus on ONE thing to work on.

We want to make the most use of your time, and avoid the "bumblebee" syndrome (touching on many different piles in the house, but not getting anything accomplished).

I'd like to see you make some progress, so pick ONE area today.

What'll it be? Your choice:

- Accounting (update your bookkeeping)

- Bills (sort, pay, file)

- Mail (sort, recycle)

- Old Paperwork / Mystery Pile (start at the top, recycle, shred)

- Receipts (clear out your wallet, purse, day planner)

- Your Choice (let me know what you're working on!)

Set your timer for 5 minutes to start, then add on extra time, as you have available today.


The main thing is: to get started, start doing SOMETHING rather than nothing and to begin to Sort Things Out, one step at a time!

Ask for help if you need it (family member, friend, assistant, your friendly neighborhood Professional Organizer!).

You can always call me for moral support and extra guidance, Toll-free (U.S.) 1-877-708-0884. I'm here to help!

Contact me or leave a Comment below after you've done Eva's Edict: End-of-Month Paper Purge and I'll feature your story here!

Good luck, RELEASE, RELEASE, RELEASE that paper, and let me know how you made out.

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Photo by Ian Britton,

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Organizing: Inspired By Nature

Sometimes, we need a fresh perspective of things, to step out... or step away from it all, to see things through new eyes.

The most recent book that I reviewed as host of a monthly Barnes & Noble book group gave me that fresh perspective this week.

The title: The Power of Vastu Living: Welcoming Your Soul Into Your Home and Workplace, by Kathleen Cox (Simon & Schuster) is not the typical organizing book, but instead, is an introduction to the 5,000-year-old principle of vastu, the precursor to feng shui. As the author mentions on pg. 23: "Vastu asks us to show our respect for nature by bringing it into our home and workspace. The presence of nature comforts us and helps us relax. We are also connected to nature, and our respect for nature becomes an expression of respect for the self."

As we look around our cluttered areas, how much of nature are we seeing?

As it turns out, today became a nature-inspired day for me as well.

The morning began with a beautiful view out my west window (see the above photo).

We went apple-picking again, for the second time in two weeks. Here are some photos that I took of the apple orchard today:

It was so peaceful, serene and invigorating at the same time, to be outside in the fresh October air, walking through all those rows and rows of apple trees, the smooth, hefty feel of a ripe apple in your hand as you pluck it from the branch, and looking up to see the beauty of the leaves starting to change in the distant trees.

For some people, coming home from a day like today could have the potential of turning into a downer, when they open the door and see that the clutter in their home didn't magically disappeared while they were away.

Instead, let's take this opportunity and turn a day of nature into a day of inspiration.

How can you reflect in your home that same sense of beauty, peace and tranquility that you find in nature?

Take a few moments to sit back, close your eyes and imagine that same feeling within your home.

What steps can you take to make it happen?

(Hint: look to books, magazines, home improvement shows, interior designers, feng shui & vastu practictioners, professional organizers, etc.)

Contact me anytime if I can help, or feel free to leave a comment. I look forward to helping you Sort Things Out, one step at a time!

Follow me on Twitter! @Eva_Abreu and @SortThingsOut

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Guest at Special Occasion: Things to Bring

I attended a wedding last night at a first-rate catering hall that had a thoughtful, well-stocked basket in the ladies room on the sink counter. Included was hairspray, a sewing kit, safety pins, small first aid kit, and assorted supplies that a lady-in- distress would be grateful in finding.

It's been quite a while since I last attended a wedding and I thought to jot down a short list of things to bring that might end up coming in handy, based on past experiences and something that another guest had needed last night but no one had.

Guest at Special Occasion: Things To Bring

1. Invitation & Reception Card

2. Wedding Gift

3. GPS (pre-programmed)

4. Print-out of directions (in case of GPS-failure, which has happened to me!)

5. Single dollar bills to tip valet parking

6. Tissues

7. Extra pack of pantyhose
(happened to me before, got a big honking run in my stocking, ran late trying to find a local store to buy another pair).

8. Aspirin

9. Wrap or sweater
(we sat under the air conditioning vent and it was freezing!)

10. Camera (fresh batteries, empty memory card)

Again, this is a short list and might not included EVERYTHING that you would ever need as a guest at a wedding or special event. The key is, you don't want to go overboard either and pack too much!

What other things can you think of that came in handy as a guest at a special occasion (or, that you really wished you would have brought to make things a whole lot easier for you?). Feel free to leave a comment below.

Helping you to Sort Things Out, one step at a time!

Follow me on Twitter! @Eva_Abreu

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Eva's Edict: Clean Out Your Pantry

This post was inspired by today's news report about local food banks looking to increase their donations of food items.

The new economy gives us an opportunity to re-examine what we have in our lives and release what we no longer use.

Let's focus on our pantry, where we store our canned and boxed foods. (Perhaps you have a cabinet, cupboard, or shelf, rather than a pantry.

Or, you simply use your countertop or kitchen table top as a "pantry".

So be it. Time to clean it out.

No time, you say?

Like I say in my workshops, it's ok not to be perfect. Do it 5 minutes at a time (or 5 items at a time, like in my Friday Eva's Edict)

Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Do one shelf (or one section) at a time.
Start with the easiest area to get to right now, and clear off one section. Then STOP for today and get on with the rest of your day.

2. Keep going, 5 minutes at a time, ONLY if you have the time and energy to continue today.
Otherwise, it's ok to stop where you are and pick it up the next time. We want to avoid burn-out or creating a bigger mess that we're too tired to clean up.

3. Keep in mind SAFETY.
Ask for assistance if a shelf is too high or too low to reach, or if items are too heavy to carry out. Get an organizing partner to help (family member, friend, your friendly local Professional Organizer, etc.)

4. Have on hand a trash bag and a donate bag (or box).

5. Keep what you use. Really use.
Be realistic, will you really make that one day? Keep what you eat on a regular basis.

6. Toss expired or questionable items.
Look for expiration dates and throw away expired items, even if unopened. Not worth getting sick over.

7. Not sure of the expiration date?
a) Call the consumer telephone number on the item label to double check, or...
b) Simply throw away item if there's a chance it's very old.

8. Donate extra food items or never-used items to local food bank.
Again, be aware of expiration dates. Don't donate questionable or expired items. Look up local food bank online, through the local newspapers, religious organizations, contact local town or county offices, etc.

9. Wipe down, put away.
Wet a rag or paper towel and do a wipe down of the one shelf that you're currently working on. Then put the items that you're keeping, back on the shelf.

10. It's OK Not To Be Perfect.
Don't worry if it's not perfectly put back, or not in order right now, especially if you're short on time. Alphabetizing your spices and lining up labels in the same direction can be done when you have a larger chunk of time on your hands.

The main thing is, we want you to have a usable pantry area and release what you don't use anymore.

You may even find some bonus items that you forgot about and can use to stretch your meals and also save yourself a trip to the grocery store.

One shelf at a time, 5 minutes at a time, do what you can, when you can.

Release, release, release.

Let me know how you do! Leave a comment below or Contact Me.

Helping you Sort Things Out, one step at a time!


Eva Abreu,
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Friday, October 03, 2008

Eva's Edict: Friday 5 Minutes / 5 Things

Friday is here!

Eva's Edict for today: 5 Minutes / 5 Things for Friday

Photo by Brian J. Geraghty

Your choice: (choose 1 today, or, if you want to mix it up, do both! choose)

A. Take 5 Minutes to clear an area that you've been avoiding.
Perfectionists beware, I'm going to tell you to give yourself permission to stop after 5 minutes. If you're so inclined, keep going for another 5 minutes at a time, but.... we want to avoid burnout. Do what you can today, then pick it up another day. The key is, to just get started... do something rather than nothing.

B. Release 5 Things.
Only 5 items. Pick up, put away, throw away, recycle, donate, whatever needs to be done, so that those 5 things aren't just sitting there, doing nothing. Stir up some of that static energy and see what happens!

Let me know what you did today! Add a Comment below or Contact me.

Looking forward to helping you Sort Things Out, one step at a time!

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Done! Eva's Edict: End-of-Month Clean Out

Congratulations to Jim Deitzel of Rubbermaid who took on the challenge yesterday of Eva's Edict: End-of-Month Clean Out!

Within minutes after seeing my post on Twitter, he had completed the assignment within 15 minutes and cleared out a bunch of old files to the recycle bin.

Jim says, "When you have a pile of old files/papers, it's not too hard to get rid of them. They were all in one nice tidy spot."

After reading my initial Twitter message, it spurred him on to do the job. He said, "I like challenges too." You can follow Jim on Twitter here and see what other neat stuff he shares about Rubbermaid products and organizing your life.

At times, we may have the self-motivation to get an organzing job done without much effort; other times, we may need a nudge or push to get moving. That's why I created Eva's Edict, to inspire or "tell" you to get it done, for those times you need an extra source of motivation.

It's not too late to jump in and do an End-of-Month Clean Out today!

Got bills, a briefcase, or a desktop to clear off? Or, some other place that's been nagging at you?

Focus on that one area today, set the timer for 5 minutes to start, and start releasing!

Add extra time as your schedule allows to chip away at that one area.

Let me know how you do, I'd love to hear your progress! Leave a Comment below or Contact me.

Helping you to Sort Things Out, one step at a time!

Follow me on Twitter!

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