Category Archives for "Organizing Tips"

All Natural Homemade Cleaning Products
Mar 08

All-Natural Homemade Cleaning Products

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

All-Natural Homemade Cleaning Products


Toxic chemicals are all around us from toiletries and cosmetics, pesticides on our food and the store bought household cleaners we use in our homes every day.

The average home contains an average of 62 toxic substances - many of which have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity.

The good news is there is a lot we can do to limit our exposure to these chemicals. One great idea is to make your own all-natural homemade cleaning products.

Not only will your home be safer but you will spend a lot less money on your day to day cleaning products.

It takes a bit of time and effort to make these all natural homemade cleaning products but the results are well worth it!

Some of the Toxic Ingredients in Cleaning Chemicals



Chlorine Bleach

Bleach fumes can contain chlorine and chloroform, which have been linked to respiratory and neurological effects and cancer. Bleach is very reactive and can form other dangerous gases when it comes in contact with ammonia or acids such as vinegar.

Formaldehyde

Used as a preservative, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.

Ammonia

Ammonia is a respiratory and skin irritant.

Fragrance

This commonly found ingredient listed as “fragrance” may contain hundreds of various chemical compounds, including phthalates, an endocrine disruptor. Fragrances may also trigger asthma and allergies.

Safe All-Natural Cleaning Ingredients

Many of the cleaning tasks in your home can be handled with these safe, all-natural and easy to find ingredients - many of them you have in your home right now!

We have listed the most popular all-natural and non-toxic ingredients you can use alone or in combination together.

Baking Soda

Baking soda cleans, deodorizes, softens water and gently scours.

Lemons

One of the strongest food acids, lemon juice works great against most household bacteria.

Salt

Use salt to clean cast iron or combined with lime to remove rust.

White Vinegar

White vinegar can be used to not only cut grease but remove mildew, odours and some stains.

When to Skip Vinegar: Never use vinegar solutions on stone surfaces such as granite or marble, cast iron, aluminum, or waxed surfaces. The acid in the vinegar can etch, pit, and strip finishes or otherwise damage these surfaces.

Cornstarch

Use cornstarch to clean windows and deep clean carpets.

Castile Soap

It is available in liquid or bar form and helps rinse dirt away. It's made with olive oil or a vegetable base and is available unscented or scented.

Hydrogen Peroxide

A disinfectant normally used for cuts, hydrogen peroxide can also be used for disinfecting in the kitchen or bathroom. It has a mild bleaching effect which helps to remove stains on fabrics and grout.

Hint: You can also use hydrogen peroxide to disinfect your toothbrush.

Easy Recipes for All-Natural Homemade Cleaning Products



General All-Purpose Cleaner

Mix 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tbsp baking soda and 10 drops of your favourite essential oil into 1 litre warm water in a clean, glass spray bottle. Use for removal of hard water stains and disinfecting showers, chrome fixtures, kitchen surfaces.

Dish Soap

Mix 3 tbsp liquid Castile soap, 2 cups warm water, 2 tsp glycerine, 2 tbsp white vinegar and 10 drops of your favourite essential oil.

Bathroom Mold Deterrent

Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water in a clean, glass spray bottle and spray on areas with mold. Wait at least one hour before rinsing or using the shower.

Ceramic or Glass Stovetop Cleaner

For stuck on food, wet the area with hot soapy water and sprinkle with baking soda. Cover with a damp towel and allow to stand for half an hour before wiping with a clean damp cloth.

Chopping Block Cleaner

Rub a 1/2 lemon across a chopping block to disinfect the surface.

Marks on Walls and Painted Surfaces

Fingerprints, crayon or marker spots can be cleaned from painted surfaces with baking soda applied to a damp sponge. Rub gently, before wiping clean.

Mold and Mildew

Use white vinegar or lemon juice full strength.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Mix 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 cup white vinegar and 10 drops of your favourite essential oil, pour into toilet bowl and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub with a toilet brush and rinse.

Tub and Tile Cleaner

Rub in baking soda with a damp sponge and rinse with fresh water.

Window Cleaner

For a streak free and easy to use window cleaner, mix 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 2 cups of warm water in a clean, glass spray bottle.

NOTE: All homemade cleaning products should be labelled with the full list of ingredients, how to use and what to do if swallowed, skin becomes irritated after contact or accidentally splashed in the eyes.


Healthy Home Cleaning Routines


Minimize Dust

  • Declutter as clutter makes it more difficult to dust your home properly. 
  • Keep your shoes at the door on a washable mat.
  • Keep humidity low and vacuum regularly.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water.

Keep Your Kitchen & Bathrooms Clean

  • Wash and disinfect your kitchen sink daily as e-coli is commonly found lurking there.
  • Clean and disinfect kitchen counter tops daily to keep germs and crumbs at bay.
  • Wipe down bathroom mirrors, sinks and countertops daily.
  • Clean and disinfect bathroom shower stalls, bathtubs, sinks and toilets weekly.

Clean From the Top Down

  • When cleaning, do the floor or carpet last. 
  • Clean light fixtures, windows, blinds and shelves first and then work downwards.
  • Allow time for the dust to settle before vacuuming.

Clean As You Go

  • Make your bed every morning.
  • Deal with paperwork and mail on a daily basis.
  • Clean up as you cook.
  • Tidy up at the end of the day - fold the living room blankets, do the dinner dishes, have the kids put their toys away.
  • Fold and put laundry away immediately after it comes out of the dryer.
  • Hang clothes up or put them in the laundry hamper as soon as you change your clothes.

Clean Up After Pets

  • Keep your pet brushed to cut down on fur balls and vacuum often.
  • Train them to go on only certain pieces of furniture.
  • A blanket on the sofa for them to lie on is easier to clean regularly than a sofa cushion.


These are the all-natural homemade cleaning products and basic cleaning routines we recommend to keep your home beautifully clean and your family safe from the toxins in over the counter cleaning chemicals.


Leave us a comment below with your favourite homemade cleaning products!

For more helpful DIY suggestions and resources, check out our Do it Yourself page.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

7 Tips to Conquer Your Clutter
Feb 25

7 Tips to Conquer Your Clutter

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

7 Tips to Conquer Your Clutter

Do you have clutter in your home that needs to be dealt with? Does it bother you to walk into the garage or basement and be faced with all of your stuff?  

If you answered "YES!" to having clutter in your home that you want to conquer, read on.

As a professional organizer, here are my 7 tips to help you conquer your clutter.

Tip #1 - Write Down Your Vision

When you have a clear picture of how you want your spaces to look and feel after you have completed the organizing process, this gives you something positive to work towards. It's also easier to stay motivated when you have the end goal in mind.

Your home is meant to be the place where you feel relaxed and comfortable at the end of the day so ask yourself....

  1. Why is it important for me to declutter?
  2. How do I want to feel in my home?
  3. What makes me happy?
  4. What do I most want to accomplish?
  5. How will getting organized improve my life?
Bonus Tip: Remember that your home is your home. If you like things minimal with everything tucked away, awesome. If you prefer more of your treasures, books or photos on display, that's cool too. We all have an acceptable level of clutter that works for us. The key is to find your sweet spot.
Tip #2 - Come Up With a Plan

In order to turn your vision into a reality, you need a plan. 

List the spaces you want to tackle and in what order. 

Do you need to have a conversation and get input about decluttering with your spouse or family? Talk about your vision and expectations so they help, not hinder, the process.

Set mini goals for yourself. When you accomplish a goal, celebrate it as a win! Reward yourself in a way that won't add more clutter to your home. Think of experiences like a home spa treatment, a Saturday afternoon nap, coffee with a friend, or a long walk in nature.

Give yourself a realistic deadline to have your organizing project completed. This will depend on how much time you are willing to devote to decluttering, how much stuff you have and your energy level.  

Enlist a friend who also wants to declutter to become your declutter buddy. You can help each other get organized plus stay motivated by having an accountability partner. Don't forget to take before and after photos so you can share your successes on social media and inspire others!

Bonus Tip: If you run out of steam, remember your vision! You will never regret getting organized by conquering your clutter.
Tip #3 - Schedule Time to Declutter

Block your calendar when you know you have the most energy and decision making power. It could be first thing in the morning, just after lunch or in the evening. Schedule your decluttering when you will be the most effective at getting it done.

In between your longer decluttering sessions, try doing small bursts like your junk drawer. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and just get it done!

Be consistent with decluttering. Your spaces didn't get cluttered overnight and they won't get organized overnight either.

Bonus Tip: The more you conquer clutter, the more motivated you will be to keep these appointments with yourself. You will love the time and energy this process frees up for the fun, healthy, creative and passionate pursuits you want in your calendar instead!
Tip #4 - Decide Where You Want Your Items To Go

Decide in advance where you want your items to go. There are a lot of options for donation, online selling, consignment or landfill (as a last resort).

Keep in mind that what you think something is worth is not always what someone else is willing to pay for your used stuff. Think of the good you will do for people in your community who need the donated items you no longer want or need.

We have already taken the work out of researching where your used goods can go. Check out our DIY Organizing Resources page for more information.

Bonus Tip: Only donate what doesn't belong in the recycling or garbage bin. Items that are missing pieces, stained, damaged or broken should not be donated. Charities don't have the extra resources needed to deal with your trash so please keep this in mind when donating!
Tip #5 - Where to Start

Start with the one area that frustrates you the most. Or alternatively you could start with one of the easiest areas of the home to organize like the bathroom or linen closet.

Next, look at easy decisions like removing obvious garbage or items that should be recycled.

Remove anything that has missing pieces or is broken that you don't use and won't repair.

If you have duplicates, pick the best one and get rid of the other one.

Begin with surface clutter before moving on to hidden clutter in cupboards and drawers.

Ask yourself - do I need it, use it or love it?  If the answer is no, let it go.

Bonus Tip: Make it fun! Put on your favourite music and get the kids involved by making a game out of it to see who can declutter more.  
Tip #6 - Use the S.P.A.C.E Method

S.P.A.C.E is an easy way to remember how to organize any space!

The S.P.A.C.E acronym stands for:

S = Sort
Gather all similar items together that should or can be stored together. Having similar items in multiple locations can cause confusion and clutter. This also allows you to visually see what and how much you have.

P = Purge
This is the process of going thru your items one by one and deciding what you want to keep. Ask yourself - do I need it, use it or love it? The items you let go of should be boxed up into donate, sell, recycle/garbage and be dealt with right away.

A = Assign
Now that you are left with only the items you need, use or love, it is time to assign a place for everything. It makes sense to keep things where you use them. Creating zones also helps such as a craft zone, reading area, paperwork zone, etc.

C = Containerize / Label
Containers and labels make it easy to keep all of your items grouped together in their proper home. This step makes it easy to retrieve your items, you know exactly what you have, you won't accumulate more than you need and putting things back is easy because you know where it belongs.

E = Evaluate
This is a critical step in the organizing process. It takes a lot of effort to get your spaces organized and you don't want to end up disorganized and cluttered again. Revisit your systems to make sure they work for you. If they don't, modify them.

Bonus tip: Here is our blog post How to Organize Any Space which includes a great infographic on the S.P.A.C.E method.
Tip #7 - Keep it Up

Establish regular routines to keep your home clutter free. 

Tidy up and do the dishes before you go to bed at night. 

Fold and put your laundry away as soon as it comes out of the dryer. 

Keep a clothing "DONATE" bag and every time you find something in your closet you no longer want, put it there.

Limit what comes into your home. Follow the one in two out rule.

Examine your shopping habits and gift giving/receiving practices. 

Do bigger decluttering sessions with the seasons. In the spring, clean out all of the closets. In the summer, clean out the shed and garage. In the fall, clean out the kids rooms to get them ready for school. In the winter, clean out the basement and under the stairs.

Bonus Tip: Did you know it takes 40% less time to clean an organized home? Clutter is a time stealer!
What is your most challenging part of conquering clutter?

Which one of these tips was most helpful for you?  

We would love to hear from you so please comment below.


Need more help with your organizing project? Call (587) 889-7198 or email us at info@organizemyspacecalgary.com or leave a comment below.

We are always here to help you.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

How to get your email inbox to zero
Feb 25

How to Get Your Email Inbox to Zero

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

How to get your email inbox to zero...and keep it that way!

If I were to ask you right now "How many emails do you have in your inbox?" what would you say? 50? 150? 300? 7,000? 

If you have over 50-100 unprocessed emails in your inbox, chances are this is causing you to be unproductive and experience email overwhelm.

Now imagine your email inbox has zero emails in it. 

Does that change your feeling of being overwhelmed to being in control of your workload?

What if you had a simple formula to get your email inbox to zero and keep it that way for good?   

This would be a game changer for you and how you feel about your work.

People who make a daily practice of keeping their email inbox clean are in control of their tasks and deadlines. They are in the loop with internal and external communications. Leaving the office on time without stressing about what might be buried in all of those emails is something they enjoy.

Sounds great, right?

Follow these simple steps and you will get your email inbox to zero and keep it that way....for good.

STEP ONE: Mass Deleting & Filing

The fact is, at least 80% of your emails do not require any real significant action on your part so get comfortable using the delete button. A word of caution however....be ruthless but not reckless with deleting. DO NOT read each email in its entirety - at this stage you are focusing on weeding out all of the unnecessary noise and the emails you don't need to do anything with.

Sort & delete emails by FROM - Ask yourself these questions - has this person left the company, is the project over or is it the fridge cleaning notice from 4 months ago?

Sort & delete emails by SUBJECT - Do you have email strings from a group conversation that you can delete except the last one? Has a date or event already passed and is no longer relevant? Do you have emails from retailers or blogs that you never read (hint unsubscribe from these please)?

Sort & file emails by DATE - If you have many months worth of emails, the chances are pretty good that anything over 6 months can be safely bulk filed in an "EMAIL BONEYARD" reference file.  If you haven't needed anything from this folder in another 6-8 weeks, delete it.

STEP TWO: Processing Emails One by One

Now that you have mass filed and deleted, you should only have about 20% of your email backlog left. This is where you sit down and process each email one by one.  Use the D is for Decision method:

  • Delete it or file it.
  • Do it now, if it takes less than 2-5 minutes.
  • Do it later by sliding the email into your task list or writing it on your to-do list.
  • Decide if it should be filed for reference or future use.
  • Delegate it to someone else to do.
  • Defer the decision by adding it to your task list or calendar.
  • Decide if you need to follow up with someone or track if someone else follows through.


When you make one of these decisions for each and every email, your email inbox will be at zero.

How to keep your email inbox at zero

Now that you are on top of your email inbox and no longer scrolling up and down wasting precious hours a day and stressing about what you are missing or not getting done, here is how you keep your emails at zero.

STEP ONE: Set Up Processing Folders

Action Folder - This is where every email goes that you are actually working on NOT sitting in your inbox. Emails here should only take 2-5 minutes to deal with. Emails that take longer to work on go into your task/project list.

Read Folder - This is for those emails that you need to read but they can wait until later. Use unproductive time like waiting in line or at the doctor's office to do your reading.

Holding Folder - This folder is where emails go while you are waiting on someone else to do something or you're waiting for an answer, a quote, etc.  This folder can also be used to remind yourself to send reminders to other people.

STEP TWO: Set Up Reference Folders

Set up reference folders into larger buckets with NO sub-folders (and definitely no sub-sub-folders). A smaller number of folders ensures you make quicker decisions about where to file an email when you are processing your inbox plus it leaves fewer options and makes it easier to look for an email in the future.

STEP THREE: Process Emails 1-3x a Day

Your email inbox is where new emails land and are waiting for you to process them, that's it.

Schedule in your calendar 1-3 times a day to keep your inbox at zero. Resist the urge to check your emails at any other time unless you are expecting an urgent message. We only do this to procrastinate on work, when our brains have decision fatigue or to look busy. 

Clear the handful of emails that have accumulated in your inbox since the last time you checked using the D method and you will always be at zero!

For more productivity secrets, check out our post Top 10 Productivity Secrets to really boost your confidence at work!

Need help getting organized at work? Go to our business organizing page and check out our 4P Productivity Program and coaching services or call us at (587) 889-7198. 

We are always here to help you.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

Being an Organized Person
Feb 21

Being An Organized Person

By Noreen Music | Organizing Resources , Organizing Tips

Being an organized person

So what does it mean to be an organized person?

Being an organized person means different things to different people.

There is a sliding clutter scale where we each feel the most comfortable and in control of our lives. Some people prefer their spaces to be pristine and minimalist while others are happiest when they can see more of their stuff.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to being organized. The most important thing is that your spaces work for you.

If you feel ashamed to have company over, you regularly can't find things you need, or you miss paying bills on the due date because of clutter, it is time to get organized.

How do you become more organized?

Organized people are not born that way....really they're not. They have simply learned skills, tools, habits, and systems to get and keep themselves organized.

The good news is that anyone can learn to become more organized!

You may think "I'm just not that way." or "I'm too creative/spontaneous." and that is understandable.

But if you are open-minded and motivated to implement a few basics, you can live a more organized and stress-free life.

Basics of becoming organized

When you are an organized person, your house is neat, and you keep track of what you need to accomplish and when.

You know what your priorities are. You have simple systems in place. You use tools to help make tasks more efficient. You understand the basics of organization.

The following practices, systems and habits illustrate what being organized looks like.

  • You take time to think about what is most important and set goals for yourself.
  • You use your goals & priorities as a filter for what you commit to (and what you don't) and what important tasks you focus on completing.
  • You find tools that work for you such as technology, apps, paper planners/calendars, meal planning methods, etc.
  • You declutter any excess stuff regularly. Your golden rule is to only have what you need, use and love.
  • You have simple systems that you actually use. 
  • You have established daily routines to keep your spaces clean, organized and prepared for the next day.

Benefits of being organized

The benefits of being organized are numerous and truly life-changing.

Here are just a few of the transformative ways your life will improve.

  • Making small and simple shifts reduces your feelings of overwhelm and stress.
  • You project a better image to your clients, colleagues and friends.
  • What you accomplish in a shorter amount of time amazes you.
  • You gain energy and a sense of calm from your spaces. 
  • You find the freedom to be creative, pursue your passions and have more fun in your life!

Enjoying the satisfaction and advantages of living a more organized life is within your reach.

You will never regret becoming a more organized person.

Looking for more help?

If you are looking for more help, check out our DIY organizing resources to find a ton of great suggestions.

Need even more help getting organized and putting systems in place to stay that way? Call us at (587) 889-7189 and we can chat.

We are here for you.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

SPACE-Acronym
Jan 11

How to Organize Any Space

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

How to Organize Any Space

S.P.A.C.E is an easy way to remember how to organize any space!

The S.P.A.C.E acronym stands for:

S = Sort
Gather all similar items together that should or can be stored together. Having similar items in multiple locations can cause confusion and clutter. This also allows you to visually see what and how much you have.

P = Purge
This is the process of going thru your items one by one and deciding what you want to keep. Ask yourself - do I need it, use it or love it? The items you let go of should be boxed up into donate, sell, recycle/garbage and be dealt with right away.

A = Assign
Now that you are left with only the items you need, use or love, it is time to assign a place for everything. It makes sense to keep things where you use them. Creating zones also helps such as a craft zone, reading area, paperwork zone, etc.

C = Containerize / Label
Containers and labels make it easy to keep all of your items grouped together in their proper home. This step makes it easy to retrieve your items, you know exactly what you have, you won't accumulate more than you need and putting things back is easy because you know where it belongs.

E = Evaluate
This is a critical step in the organizing process. It takes a lot of effort to get your spaces organized and you don't want to end up disorganized and cluttered again. Revisit your systems to make sure they work for you. If they don't, modify them.

Need more help organizing your space?

Check out our DIY section for a ton of great resources to help you get more organized.

Or you can ask us a question by leaving a comment below and we will respond with expert advise to help you.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

Hassle Free Holidays
Dec 09

A Hassle-Free Holiday Season

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

When did the holidays become such a hassle?

We rush around crowded malls buying mountains of gifts we can't afford. We spend hours planning and attending an overwhelming amount of holiday events and commitments because we feel obligated.

There are gifts to wrap, decorations to put up, baking to do, special meals to cook and, oh yeah, enjoy Christmas.

I know there's no way of getting around many of the to-do's that come with this time of year. It is an incredibly busy and stressful season without a doubt. For some, it is a really sad and lonely time too.

Christmas however, is meant to bring light into a dark world. It is a time to nourish ourselves and our loved ones, to reconnect with what gives us true joy and peace. It's a time to celebrate an amazing gift given to mankind.

For instance, we have a choice. We can fall into the hassle and stress of the holidays or we can focus on the magic and wonder of Christmas. Sorry but big box stores and TV marketing ads should not get to choose for us.

Ask yourself these important questions for a hassle-free holiday season....

  • Who do I really want to spend the holidays with?
  • How much time and money am I willing to give without sacrificing my calendar and pocketbook?
  • What traditions mean the most to me?
  • Who can I truly bless or serve or reach out to in comfort?

Above all, being clear and focused on the reason behind the season reduces the stress and hassle you experience. You may decide to let go of a few things that no longer serve you (with love and gratitude of course). Some special people and traditions you may hold onto even closer.

Not all of the holiday hassle can be eliminated from your life, but it can be dramatically quieted when you focus on what is most important to you.

Leave a comment below telling us what part of getting ready for the holidays stresses you out the most. I will respond with my best tips for you.

From my family to yours, I wish you a blessed and hassle-free holiday season!

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen