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Organization | The Balanced Mom Magazine

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by Georgia Theodorou

It’s almost summer and the question is – Have you accomplished your goal of getting organized? Was this goal one of your New Year’s Resolutions? Do you still have one of those “How To” books on your table? Don’t worry. It’s not too late to get started and get going.

With today’s busy moms, life can get very hectic from balancing work and family obligations to juggling the kids’ school and outside activities. Just trying to find the time to relax is extremely challenging. The road to a more balanced life can be accomplished once your home, work and daily routines are in place and organized.

To be successful in getting and staying organized, you need to focus on three key themes: set up good habits, always follow up and stay consistent. Some of the key tips and techniques to help accomplish your goals include:

Start with Small Steps

If you find that you want to organize and declutter your home or business, don’t try to conquer everything all at once. Start with one room and a small section at a time. Maybe choose the top of your desk and once this is organized then look at your drawers. Set simple goals and work to accomplish these target areas. Believe me, this will help you eliminate the feelings of overwhelm and frustration.

Everything Should Have a Place

Remember when mom would tell us to put our things away as kids? Little did we know that she was preparing us to be organized. If you follow this concept, your life will be on the way to being organized and clutter free. How does this work? Every item you own should have a designated area or place. It should not be on the floor or on top of your desk or kitchen table. Take action and put all the items away as you go. This eliminates piles around the house.

Create Routines

The best way to keep your life organized is to create routines. We have routines for our children and as busy moms we need routines too. The same applies to organizing our homes and our lives. Set a routine for everything from laundry, bills, running errands, mail, household chores, cooking, work responsibilities and so on. Make sure to be consistent and to follow up with your routines. Have a daily or weekly list of things you need to get accomplished. If for some reason you can’t complete your task, make sure to follow up the next day. Don’t get behind because the more you have to do the more you feel overwhelmed and not do anything.

Put Things Away and Clean Now

Are you finished with something? Most of us will leave the item somewhere with the intention of putting it away later. But what happens in the meantime is that other items will stack on top and the pile becomes larger and too overwhelming to conquer. If you finished folding the laundry, put the clothes away now. The same applies for cleaning up. Develop a good practice of cleaning as you go. Don’t wait till the dishes pile up in the kitchen sink. Wash them right away. Trust me, it takes less time to clean as you go then to wait for things to pile up.

Simplify Your Filing System

One of the most basic ways to find papers when you need them is to retrieve the papers from an effective filing system. A good filing system will allow you to find what you are looking for with no problems. Most will utilize one or a combination of three basic filing systems: alphabetical, numerical or chronological (Jan, Feb, etc…). Use the system that works well and that you will follow to locate your documents quickly.

Share A Calendar

It doesn’t matter what type of calendar system you utilize, just as long it works for you and your family. Make sure to indicate all your activities from work, personal, kid’s school and extracurricular activities, birthdays, family obligations, and other activities to ensure follow up. Keep all of your family’s scheduling in one place. Google calendar is a great online tool that is quick and easy to use.

Tame Your Email and Mail

With today’s abundance of technology, I find that keeping a handle on email is a growing area of frustration and disorganization. Why? Most individuals will look at email and take action later. This approach turns into hundreds of emails and piles of mail. My advice… “Touch it and take action!” Read your mail and quickly sort all the bills in one place to be paid and read the rest and take action. This same theory applies to email. Reply to your emails and then create folders to put your emails that you want to save. Strive to have no old emails in your inbox. Your inbox should have the recent emails that you are following up. Don’t get behind in this area, it will get overwhelming and eventually out of control.

You can be organized by utilizing some of these essential ideas, however many individuals will have a difficult time continuing with these methods on a consistent basis. Give it a try—you have nothing to lose! You might even be surprised how easy life can be once you are organized. If you are still having a difficult time, please let me know. As a Professional Organizer, I evaluate each of my client’s needs and make suggestions to help implement effective and repeatable techniques. Whatever road you take, make sure to get organized and you will notice that your life will be more balanced and you will have additional time to enjoy the things that are most important in your life.

Georgia Theodorou

Georgia Theodorou is a Professional Organizer and founder of Organizational Concepts & Balance which specializes in residential and small business organizing. Georgia is committed to organizing and creating efficient households and effective businesses for the long term. Georgia has helped many clients from working professionals to stay at home Moms and today’s busy families. All of Georgia’s clients have one thing in common, they want to stop the chaos and find more time to enjoy life. The road to a more balanced and enjoyable life can easily be accomplished once your home, work and daily routines are in place and organized. Visit www.OCandB.com for more information.

With so many women joining the workforce from home, recently I began to think about the many different ways to create an office at home and what we need when doing so. Ideally, those who work from home have a separate room available for a home office. However, many times we incorporate an office into an existing guest room, corner of a living room or even in a bedroom. And, more often than not, we aren’t the only person who uses the space! Whatever your situation, here are a few rules of thumb to follow, as well as some essential elements to incorporate, from my experience creating and working with multi-functional spaces.

The Basics

» Begin with a plan

To avoid falling victim to what I like to call the Shiny Object Syndrome, any good design begins with a plan. More often than not, and because of fantastic advertising by retailers, people first fall in love with the look of a piece in a home store or catalog, then try to make it work in the room. It’s like building an outfit from a pair of shoes, a belt or a great handbag: it’s successful at times, but it’s much more difficult than if you had an idea ahead of time of what actually worked. Of course, you still want your home office to be aesthetically pleasing, but first think about how the room is used the majority of the time and begin designing your room from there, taking into consideration the room’s other functions, as well as who will use the room and what their needs are.

» Choose comfort and functionality

Comfort and functionality are significant characteristics of any productive home office and versatile furniture is your best choice, as it adapts easily to different needs. Versatile pieces, like a beautiful armoire, eclectic sideboard or wallmounted storage and organizational pieces, are useful in almost any room and function in a multitude of ways. I love to use them to hide the necessary but not-so-pretty printers and other office equipment.

As well, you’ll likely spend the majority of your time sitting at your desk, so invest in the most comfortable chair you can find and leave as much surface area as possible for work functions, like writing, computer time and bill-paying.

» Incorporate storage

Whether you are a financial planner, teacher, skin care specialist or freelance artist, you probably need storage. Storage is usually at the top of the needs list, particularly in a multi-functional space. Built-in or wall-mounted storage not only looks better and gives a high-end look to the room, it takes up less floor space than free-standing pieces. It also works better if it has adjustable shelves to allow you to update your look and function as much as you like. If you have open shelves, give thought to backing them with mirror or even wallpaper with a sheen to it, to give the illusion of additional space and to create a custom look. If you prefer doors, consider those with a mirrored front to achieve the same effect.

If your primary area of storage is on or around your desktop, the most effective way to manage clutter is to create organizational zones for your items, within eyesight, based on function and how often you use them. For instance, if you are a sticky note fanatic like me, consider creating a note board above your desk only for these reminders. If your children are budding artists and you frequently find their items all over your desk, give them their own shelf or wall space so they feel like they are still part of the picture, and to allow you to retain your own organized space. Your storage and organizational system is only good when you use it!

» Use ample lighting

Lighting is one of the essential components of a good workspace. I once had a client who dragged the only floor lamp in the room to his desk area each evening when he would work in his home office area. When I asked him why he didn’t simply purchase a desk or wall-mounted lamp, he replied that he didn’t know which one to buy. I think this is a common issue, so when it comes to a home office or other workspace, task lighting is inherently easier on our eyes than overhead, general lighting, particularly in the evening. Choose lighting that illuminates your workspace rather than lighting that shines directly in your eyes and you will feel less eyestrain at the end of the day. If desk space is at a premium and you have a cabinet over or around your workspace, consider pendant lighting, puck lighting or other undermount lighting.

Lighting is one of the essential components of a good workspace. I once had a client who dragged the only floor lamp in the room to his desk area each evening when he would work in his home office area. When I asked him why he didn’t simply purchase a desk or wall-mounted lamp, he replied that he didn’t know which one to buy. I think this is a common issue, so when it comes to a home office or other workspace, task lighting is inherently easier on our eyes than overhead, general lighting, particularly in the evening. Choose lighting that illuminates your workspace rather than lighting that shines directly in your eyes and you will feel less eyestrain at the end of the day. If desk space is at a premium and you have a cabinet over or around your workspace, consider pendant lighting, puck lighting or other undermount lighting.

When working with windows as your main or part of your main light source, consider the amount of light control you will need. You may want to layer a pretty, heavier window covering over sheer panels, to allow versatility and light control, as well as privacy. If the room doubles as a bedroom or other living space, you may need a heavier window treatment, like a Roman shade.

The Fun Stuff

» Balance

As with any space, we want to create a room in which we truly want to spend time and the key is balancing the functionality of the room with the pretty, decorative things that make our eyes light up when we walk into it. Finishing your room with decorative elements like draperies, a rug and personal items, like family photos and your children’s artwork, help any office become personal and inviting and balance out the functional areas you’ve created.

» Using The Unexpected

You may also enjoy using the unexpected as functional accessories that are in line with your design aesthetic. For example, I design for coastal homes and small spaces and one of my aesthetics is using coastalinspired elements in design concepts. In my own office, I use a large shell as a business card or paper clip holder and I’ve incorporated a woven sisal rug for texture. So, think about balancing the functional items with fun pieces that speak to you, as well as the look and feeling you’d like to create.

» Dress Your Floor

Rugs are an anchor and can be one of the jewels to any space and they’re also a great way to add color and your own personal touch. Much of a room’s personality – as well as your own – can be conveyed with the right rug. If you have contemporary taste, try one with bold colors and geometric shapes and if you prefer something more traditional, a floral or Asianinspired rug may be more to your liking. However, when considering one for your home office, choose a low pile and opt for one of the hard plastic sheets that will allow you to roll around easily in your chair. If you prefer not to use this sheet, choose an office chair without casters, as they can be difficult to use on a pile rug.

Any time you’re choosing the fun things for your home office, keep in mind how often décor changes seasonally. Every three months or so, there will always be a new trend, so choose items that really speak to you and that can be changed out inexpensively. If you’d like, you’ll be able to create a fresh new look a few times a year and indulge that Shiny Object Syndrome from time to time as well! In the end, it’s all about beautiful, balanced space that is uniquely yours.

Nicole Cavanaugh

Mind, Body + Home
Interior Design
Nicole is the founder of Cavanaugh Interior Design Group. Her goal is to provide people with functional designs of spaces. Read more about Nicole and her mission here.