Top Ten Tips: Manage and Plan Your Time

This time last year found me getting ready for a nearly 2-week vacation. Being away from my life wasn’t the easiest (or worst!) task I’ve had to shoulder. I learned a lot about planning, delegating, letting go of control, and figuring out how to relax.

I’ve discovered that for me, relaxing isn’t just about hanging out doing nothing. In order for me to relax, I find that having routines and systems in place are important so that I can accomplish daily goals. Having routines helps me feel like I can also plan my down time (yes, that has to be scheduled, too!), which for me looks like a long bike ride, or a power walk, dinner and movie with a friend, or spending time with a good book.

In celebration of my learning to relax, I’m happy to send some tips and strategies to help plan and manage your time, put a little routine in your life, and relax for a change without feeling guilty.

Have a great month!

  1. Evaluate your morning. Do you wake up and immediately check your phone or e-mail to begin solving problems? Consider easing yourself into the day with an early morning walk, cup of coffee, or nice breakfast to center yourself before beginning each workday.
  2. Get rid of the rain clouds that follow you around. Is there a daunting task you’ve been putting off? Maybe you’ve been meaning to organize your junk drawer or unpack from your vacation last month. Though you can certainly survive and function without doing these tasks right away (which is why they are still unfinished), you will feel better after you finally say no to procrastination and get on with at least one, small project.
  3. Do you know where your time goes when you’re sitting in front of your computer? You could be over- or under-estimating how much time you actually spend online. Consider using a free time tracking tool such as to evaluate how to best use your time.
  4. Set a cleaning routine and stick to it. It’s easier to spend ten minutes cleaning the kitchen after dinner each day than an hour once a week when the dishes pile up. It is also stressful to be looking at a mess for an extended period of time. Write out a cleaning routine for daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.
  5. Take time to be present. When you find yourself overwhelmed and reacting to several situations at once, spend five minutes on deep breathing, self-awareness, and collecting yourself mentally. When you are ready, make a list of what you need to do and then act on which is the most urgent. Delegate tasks if you are able.
  6. Auto-schedule the payments for your bills. This way you will not have to spend time paying them over the phone, online, or via mail. Instead, spend five minutes each month reviewing the charges to ensure they are correct.
  7. Evaluate items in your home and ask yourself what purpose each item serves. If it serves no purpose, why is it taking up space in your home?
  8. Create a checklist for activities. This could include: gym bag, information for the pet, home, or babysitter, school bag, extracurricular activities, overnight bag, etc. Save these checklists as word documents and update them as necessary. Keep a print out in the mudroom or kitchen to review before leaving the house.
  9. Keep all of your passwords in one safe place or use a password service. This will save you time with the “forgot your password” link and also expedite the login process in the future. Here’s a handy link.
  10. Ask for help. Honestly, I think one reason I get a lot done is that I ask for help on the tasks I don’t like or find difficult to manage. I’ve traded “time” with friends and colleagues. I helped a friend organize her kitchen, and she agreed to edit a few articles I’m writing.
  11. Bonus: Feel free to contact me for any time-related issues – let’s chat and see what we can figure out together! 818-400-9592

Stay cool!


Top 10 tips for your best Garage Sale EVER!

Top 10 tips for your best Garage Sale EVER!

Hooray! Summer is nearly here – a good time of year to play, romp, and CLEAR. Clear out the old, the unwanted and the unused. There’s an incentive to clearing. Creating more space in your place may have a positive effect on your peace of mind. A fun way to deal with the stuff you don’t need is to sell it all at a yard sale. Make extra cash, ask a few neighbors to join you for a block sale, and get rid of the things that haven’t been serving you for years!

Doesn’t that sound great?!

Here are tried and true Top 10 Tips for your best Garage Sale EVER!!

1. Six or more weeks before the sale choose the date for your sale. Weekends, of course, are best. With good planning, a 3-day weekend is fine for a 1-day sale because people have more time for chores, shopping, and playing.

2. Schedule an entire day to clear your garage before the date of the sale since you will want to be ready bright and early in the morning of your sale. Throw away the obvious trash. Add colorful post-it notes to the sale items, and different color post-it notes to items that you plan to give away or keep.

3. Stage an area in your home or garage where all your “for sale” items can sit until the sale. Take a few pictures of some of your sale items.

4. De-clutter for the sale: Go through all the spaces in your home, office, garage, closets and drawers. Everywhere. Carry a box or bag with you as you go through each area and fill it with that which you no longer use, want, or desire. Be ruthless. And try to not let guilt guide your decisions about letting go! Now put all the stuff in the staging area.

5. Pre-sale advertising on Craigslist and This is the key to having the best garage sale EVER! Each week for four weeks prior to the sale, post an ad about your sale on craigslist. The weekly ads should include the same important information: title of ad, city/community of yard sale, dates/times of yard sale, but the body of the ad should change each week. Your ad should excite, delight, and attract potential customers! Show pictures of some of the sale items. Comments may include, EVERYTHING MUST GO! MORE ITEMS IN NEXT WEEK’S AD! Each week post different stuff with different but similar comments. The goal is to build a “following” so people look for your ad next week. Do not include your address until your final post a week before the ad. Very early on the morning of the sale, post ad #4 a second time (for a total of 5 posts).

6. Signage (part 1): Signs should be clear, simple, and readable. Cut a poster-board in half. That’s about the size you should make the signs. Use block letters, printed with date/time of sale, address of sale. Each sign should have a space to draw a directional arrow. Plan to start the sale in the morning because people are more likely to show up to your door before 7am!

7. Signage (part 2): Before you hang your signs, spend a few days driving around your neighborhood for all the ways to get to your house and likely places to hang the signs. If your sale is on a Saturday, post the signs on Wednesday evening. When you go out to hang signs, bring these with you: thick-tip Sharpie marker, heavy duty tape, hammer and a few nails. Add a directional arrow to each sign just before hanging. IMPORTANT: REMOVE YOUR SIGNS THE DAY AFTER THE SALE (or better, THAT NIGHT!!!) Do not clutter your neighborhood with your old yard sale signs.

8. Day before the sale: Take everything from the staging area inside the house to the garage or area where you plan to hold the sale. Get the items into boxes and bags and close to the front door. Wipe down dirty or dusty items. Have a bunch of paper or plastic grocery bags to help cart away the purchases. Also, have a change purse with several $1s, $5s, a couple of $10s, and coins. Get a good night’s sleep.

9. Day of sale: Get up and out EARLY! People will be waiting when you get outside. Feel free to politely ask them to return at the designated time or… start selling! Put a tall/large item near the curb to attract people driving by your house.

10. To price or not to price an item: If the point of your sale is to get rid of your old stuff, don’t add a price tag on anything. When a customer asks about the cost, ask what they want to pay and take their money! Or name a price, and banter back and forth with the customer until you come to an agreement. If you’ve got a big-ticket item such as a treadmill, couch, or dining set, go ahead a name a price and guage a customer’s reaction. Bottom line: sometimes when an item has a price tag, it may discourage the customer from asking for a lower price. I’ve done at least 25 yard sales (personally and professionally). I’ve never tagged a single item and always had a great sale.

I wish you amazing success with your sale. Put what you’ve earned in the bank, or take yourself and a friend out to dinner! But please don’t go shopping!

Productive and Prosperous: Top Ten Tips to Organize Your Home Office

The recession of the early 21st century saw an upsurge of home-based businesses According to this counts for approximately 38 million U.S. households with an active home office and the numbers continue to grow. Most people who now work from home were previously employed by someone else. A desk job generally included a desk, filing cabinet, office supplies, computer, etc. Everything is in place for the new employee to start the job and hit the ground running.

Leaving an employer – by choice or by force – and starting out on your own can be both thrilling and scary. Self-employment can be very freeing; autonomy and independence are seductive. Self-employment bring the very idea of “the sky’s the limit” into a tangible goal. There are so many things that can be accomplished when you work from home, and there are so many things that could actually help you as a home owner. Like did you realise that you might be able to save money by using business energy in your home? All you have to do is call up someone like Simply Switch who would be able to find you the cheapest energy provider and then you would be able to save money on your energy bills at home. This isn’t just the only bonus that comes from working at home, there are many other things. However, the key to a successful business from home is having the right working area. The ideal work space should be organized and designed for maximum productivity and prosperous goals. You should love the furniture that you have. The chair you sit in should be comfortable, the shelves should be with in easy reach and the desk should fit you perfectly. If you want to get some more ideas on what to get then you should take a look at a site like furniture in fashion’s computer desks to give you some inspiration on what would be best for your home office.

The shift from working for someone else to working for one’s self can be dramatic for the unorganized or uninitiated. And when it comes to creating the idea work-at-home workspace, a lot of people head over to an office supply store to purchase all manner of stuff they may think they need to prosper. While it’s fun to shop for purple post-its, pen caddies, and paper-clip cups, before you fill your space with gadgets and gewgaws, consider these Top Ten Tips to organize your home office or work space.

Create a Vision Board. Take out glue, scissors, old magazines and a 1/2-sheet of poster board. Find images and words that convey your ideal work space. Be creative, let your ideas flow. What do you believe will work best for you to be your most productive and prosperous self? For a traditional vision board [poster-board, scissors, magazines] visit this site: vision board website to get you started. For an online version click here.

Circle of Work: Set up shop at home in a area where you can access printer, a couple of shelves, desk space or table top, and a container or drawer for office supplies [but only what you currently need!]. The “circle of work” is about positioning your supplies so that everything you need is within reach and for which you don’t have to leave your chair.

Zone the Work Space: Within the circle of work are the work zones: flat space for writing, place for computer/printer, area for action or client files, etc. Group office activities together.

File or Pile?: If you are a visual person consider stacking your “papers in progress” in table-top trays or buckets. If you can file a paper into a folder and retrieve it later on you may want to create a more traditional file system. Either way have this handy paper retention guide to help determine which papers to keep and for home long.

Office Furniture: Choose home/workspace furniture that can perform multiple functions. Here are some fun ideas.

Drawers or Desktop?: The circle of work area will need to include pens, paper clips, writing pads, white out, scissors, etc. which tend to overflow from cups and bowls and inside desk drawers. Suggestions to keep under control: 1) designate a storage area in home or garage for office supplies. Your desk should only contain about a month’s worth of supplies; the rest should be stored away; 2) keep office supplies either on top of your desk or in a drawer; 3) separate supplies into trays or desk organizers; 4) label the inside of the organizer for where you want things returned.

The Spiral Notebook: I’m a visual person and still use a 6×9 spiral for all meeting notes, creative ideas, newsletter suggestions, and the like. Instead of grabbing for scraps of paper and post-its to jot an important thought, keep a spiral on the desk for all manner of things – from note-taking to to-do lists. For those more interested in virtual note-taking, here is a side-by-side of some of the best note taking apps.

Bookcases and shelves: Ideally, the home work space does not cross too much into the living space. As much as you can, separate family photo albums, children’s books and cook books from your workspace shelves. Instead, use the space for reference and resource materials, stationary, and office supplies if that is a designated storage area. In the circle of work these resources should be within reach of your desk.

Electronics and Electric Cords : If you don’t have enough outlets seriously consider hiring someone to add a couple. It’s really worth it and your space will look better without power strips all over the place. Consider wrapping cables and cords and tuck them out of the way. Charging stations are another solution for eliminating power cord clutter.

Label Maker: Do not underestimate the power of a good label maker. If you are a visual person use the labels as reminders to return items back to their original home.

Organizing for That Which We Don’t Want: The Medical Emergency

If you haven’t faced it yet, chances are good that at some point in your life cycle you will have to deal with a medical crisis of one sort or another. An aging parent may take a fall, or your spouse may require emergency surgery. These are not things we want to think about but having an organized system – a go to spot – for all of your medical information (prescriptions, co-pay amounts, insurance forms, lab results, etc). can make all the difference in the world should calamity strike.

If you are a somewhat organized person, use the tips below by creating a file system for easy access to all of your records. Creative right-brained people may want to organize the information in a box, or, hole-punch all the paperwork to fit inside a 3″, 3-ring binder. Regardless of how you process information, you want to create a space for a variety of information that falls under the category of “Medical.”

A special note for same-sex couples (residing in states where our marriages are still illegal). I cannot emphasize enough the importance of creating a clear path toward your right to speak on behalf of your partner. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) has strict privacy and security rules to ensure patients’ rights and include legal definitions for who is/isn’t a family member, who can/cannot speak on your behalf. Once you meet the person of your dreams and decide to set-up house, your next action should be a visit to your family attorney to create the paper trail to ensure your access your loved one.

1. Gather together all your medical information into one organized and labeled binder or filing system. Some useful information to file is:

  • Health insurance cards, Medicare cards
  • A list of medications (including dosage, frequency, date started/stopped)
  • Medical history
  • All of your emergency contacts (their relationship to you, address, phone number, workplace, etc.)
  • Immunizations
  • Allergies and blood type
  • A sheet to record the date of doctor/dental visits and any tests performed
  • A sheet of diagnosis’ and the dates (blood pressure readings, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, symptoms)
  • A copy of a health care proxy, advanced directives or living will
  • If one is used, a power-of-attorney

2. Regularly update emergency contacts. Also ensure your power-of-attorney, health care proxy, advanced directives, or living will is up to date. Clearly label this information.

3. Create a section for medical bills from providers, labs, and hospitals.

4. Keep a log of Insurance claims you file with the insurance company and insurance claims that have been paid by your insurance company.

5. Create a separate section for financial paperwork, including medical bills you have paid. Include a section for out-of-pocket expenses.

6. Keep prescription drug information – past and current in one section.

7. Keep records of all medical testing such as lab, x-ray, and scan results.

8. Have a section for hospital discharge orders/documents.

9. Keep a calendar in one section of the binder to record all appointments.

10. Clearly label all information, files, and folders. The goal: To find what you need, when you need it. There’s nothing like being organized in the event of a medical emergency.

Top 10 Tips: Fall in Love With Your Clear Space









1. Take time (even just 5 minutes!) at the end of the day to put away items and to make your to-do list for tomorrow. Once you have a clear countertop, keep it that way by routinely maintaining your clear area. Tomorrow will be easier to manage without having to take time to de-clutter and figure out what needs to be done.


2. If you don’t have time to deal with the mail, don’t start what you can’t finish. Oftentimes, we start to go through the mail then stop to prepare dinner, pick up the kids, answer the phone, etc. You can’t chop tomatoes and sort the mail. Period. Before your kitchen becomes the mail center, set aside uninterrupted time to go through the mail. When dealing with your mail, open/pay your bills first as these are the most important items. Consider setting up an auto-pay online so you can skip this step completely. If you receive invitations, RSVP and write down the details on your calendar.
3. Pick a day this month to be “someday” or “later.” We all have those tasks that we’ll get to “later” and “someday,” but not picking a day to do it means it will not get done. Mark your calendar and don’t overbook for this day so you can take care of those tasks.
4. Pictures. We often recommend transferring your pictures to a digital picture frame and deleting the unflattering/dark pictures that didn’t come out well. For people who are not tech savvy, get some small clear bins to store your pictures. Use a timer so you don’t spend five hours reminiscing.

5. Try the hanger experiment to help you pick what wardrobe pieces to clear out and donate. All of your clothes that require hangers should be in the reverse direction from how you normally hang them. After you wear something, put it back in the your closet facing the correct direction. After several months, you’ll be able to visually identify how much of your wardrobe you wear. This could also be applied to other items in your home.



6. Go wireless with what you can. For those items where it is impossible to go wireless, organize the cords so they are out of the way.



7. Clean up your inbox and virtually de-clutter yourself. Are you one of those people with 200+ e-mails in your inbox and don’t know where to start? Immediately discard junk e-mails and set up folders for other e-mails to be stored. Delete routinely. There are several sources to help corral your virtual clutter:, Google Inbox, and Mailstrom are great tools to help simplify your computer life.



8. Keep like with like. Whether it is in your closet, cabinets, kitchen, drawers, etc., keeping scissors with scissors and jackets with jackets is your best bet for easily locating items in the future. Make sure items are easily visible and accessible. If they are not, invest in a storage system that allows them to be, or donate/get rid of what you do not need.


9. Teach your children or significant other how to put back items where they belong and encourage them to take five minutes a day to clean up. The process will go much faster with more hands, and this also ensures that everyone knows where to put items so they are easier to locate in the future.


10. Physically make a clear path! De-clutter your mind by de-cluttering the floors of walkways in hallways and rooms. In addition, you will be better able to focus in your office with less stuff and “noise” going on. Less is more when it comes to de-cluttering.

Top 10 Tips to Plan for the Year of No Clutter!

“I’m going to get organized this year!” stands in the Top 10 of our New Year’s resolutions. And this goal remains on Top 10 lists year and after year. It makes sense, then, that In the world of Professional Organizers, January is Get Organized – or GO! – Month! GO Month activities around the country include “Shred-a-thons,” “Ask the Organizer” panel discussions, closet make-over seminars, and contests for the messiest kitchen pantry.

January is a logical time for GO Month. The beginning of a new year is a good time to create your plan to becoming less cluttered and more organized. Here’s your Top 10 list to get ready for your new year of No Clutter! Call me if you need help developing your own personal plan.  I’m here to help!

Begin with this idea in mind: Clutter starts outside your front door! If it’s in your hand before you bring it home, ask: “It is possible I don’t need this right now?”

Brainstorm, then list, all the spaces (home and work) that you want to de-clutter or organize. As appropriate, be sure to include storage units, piles of business cards, desk drawers, and the trunk of your car!

Prioritize the list. What area(s) of your home or work space makes you the most crazy? Have you put off a home repair because clutter prevents access to that space? Do you want to start small and then work up to the messier areas?

Do you need help? Who do you know who can help clear your path. You want to work with objective, non-judgmental (and physically strong!) friends or family members. Offer to reciprocate [your friends probably have clutter, too!]

Go through your calendar for the entire year. Note the days and times when you have to be at work, the dates of long weekends, and dates for visitors, vacations, and conferences. The plug-in dates for tackling each project.

Get a sense of when you can logically begin (and complete) a de-clutter project. For every hour that you spend de-cluttering, you will need another hour to re-organize. Too many people do not complete their de-clutter project simply because they didn’t leave enough time to do the work.

How long it will take? Choose a small project – the junk drawer! – gather your supplies [waste basket, recycle bag, old towel, kitchen timer]. Lay the towel on a flat surface, dump the drawer on the towel, set the timer, get to work! Don’t leave your work station until you complete the project. How long did it take? What were the distractions? What did you learn about yourself in the process? All of this is good information for when you’re ready to move onto something bigger.

Supplies: for most projects you will need a big supply of trash and recycle bags. For the garage you may need to order a 3- or 4-yard dumpster. Other supplies may include a label maker, boxes for items to be donated, paper/felt-tip pens to mark areas for sorting (trash, donate, keep, recycle), and gloves.

Avoid purchasing anything that you may think will help you become more organized. The time for buying shelves, bins, or containers is after each organizing project when you will know exactly what you plan to keep. Everything you plan to keep should have a “home” within your home.

Maintain your motivation: List all the reasons why you want to de-clutter and become more organized! Post the list where you will see it often. Conceive, believe, and achieve your goals! Remember: you are not your clutter.

Top 10 Tips: Gifts that don’t create clutter

The end of the year! It’s finally here! And yet it won’t leave until we spend time with, or think about people we love, who have brought us joy along the way. Sometimes, it is so easy to find presents for people. For example, if your friend is a gamer you could just buy him league of legends accounts and he’d be happy. But not everyone is so easy to buy a present for.

In my world as a professional organizer I walk into a lot of crowded spaces filled with things my clients can no longer use, or they feel they no longer need or desire. So many of them tell me that some of the clutter is from gifts they’ve never needed but guilt has kept the gift trapped in their home!

I listen to the holiday gift-buying commercials. Before 12/25, television and radio ads encourage you to buy things that people will LOVE!! After 12/25, the ads change, reminding consumers that since they didn’t get the gift they really wanted, they can exchange it for something they’ll really love! No one, it seems, can win at this game of gift giving/receiving.

Here at A Clear Path we’re all about the gifts that doesn’t cause clutter! Being of service, cooking a great meal, helping someone organize… now those are gifts everyone can use!

So with a grateful heart I offer you, our top 10 list for the holiday season: Gifts that don’t create clutter!

1. Take people you love to dinner or cook for them. Cook something you know the person likes to eat or take them out to one of their favorite restaurants or dessert spots. Some of the best memories are shared with loved ones at the table.

2. Help a friend de-clutter their closet. Start by emptying out the space you want to organize and create three piles: toss, donate, and keep. Help your friend by asking them, “do you really need/use that?” when deciding which items to keep. Each item you put back should have a “place.”

3. Professional organizer gift certificate. When you know someone who needs organizational guidance for tough jobs or putting an organizing system in place, a professional organizer is an effective way to get the job done. You will also receive guidance on how to maintain an organized environment. For more information or to order a professional organizer gift certificate, call 818-400-9592 or e-mail

4. Experience Gifts create lasting memories and can be described as more enjoyable and fulfilling than any material object. Whether it’s a tour of the city, a hot air balloon ride, a trip to the spa, your loved one will be happy to be spending time with you enjoying the experience.

5. A calendar. New year, new calendar. Everyone needs a new calendar during the year, make yours unique and special by gifting one with custom pictures or choose a theme you know the person receiving the calendar will enjoy.

6. Gift cards are great gifts for everyone. You can get someone a gift card to a grocery store they frequent, clothing store, the best online watch store, gas card, or even just a prepaid Visa gift card.

7. Household appliances the gift recipient actually needs and will use on a regular basis. Whether it’s a wine opener or food processor, be sure the item will not clutter the kitchen and the person has space for it.

8. Digital photo frames are a great way to display many pictures without taking up much space. The recipient can also upload his or her own photos in addition to the ones loaded on the frame. If you want something more traditional then why not take the recipient to an Art Gallery and see what they like. Photo frames never take up much room after all.

9. Consumables: Food, wine, and other alcoholic beverages, chocolates and other special treats are one good way to spread holiday cheer. Put together a food basket hand picked with the person’s favorite items to personalize the basket.

10. Charitable Gifts are perfect gifts for someone that has everything or immensely supports a charitable cause. Consider making a donation in the person’s name; be sure it is a cause that is important to the person, not just you. Find ways to donate to environmental, children’s, health research, and many other organizations online. Research the fund on Charity Navigator so you know you’re making a wise choice.

Doing it Differently this Year

Rain is predicated in Los Angeles for this first week of November. Regardless of the weather, it’s a bit of a shock to see that the holiday shopping season has begun.

Many people love the holidays but become depressed by the amount of stress it seems to bring into their homes or hearts or both. ‘Tis not (supposed to be) the season for frustration but for love and peace-filled hearts.

So before you start groaning about what lies ahead, here are some strategies for doing the holidays a little differently this year. I’d love to hear if you used these or any other techniques and ideas from past newsletters.

Here’s to a safe and dry November, and a productive end to 2017.


Before your Holiday Season begins, create a list of things/events/experiences that you enjoy as well as those that have caused stress for you in the past. When you are able to identify your holiday stressors, you can proactively try to eliminate them. For example, if putting up decorations is a chore, enlist the help of someone else or invest in decorations that don’t take a lot of set-up or clean up time.

Use your calendar. Include when you will decorate (it may help to span out decorating over several days), airport arrivals/departures, shopping trips, school/work functions. Calendaring ALL of your events will also help you prioritize what is most important to you and/or your family and you may time-map accordingly.

Female hand holding a pen and writing a plan in a planner

Once you have everything you need to do on your calendar, you can begin to plan ahead by creating daily to-do lists for both your life and your holiday preparation. It is easier to prioritize when you know what you need to do and by when.

Take inventory of what holiday items you already have: decorations, wrapping paper, cards, etc. Write down what you have enough of and what you are still missing. If you are noticing the same broken decorations you’ve had for year, toss them. If you have too much of something you don’t need, give it away. And don’t forget to label bins, containers, and storage areas to help you later on.

People Looking Choosing at Colleagues Photo

Delegate tasks to family members to create a family activity. Have one person work on writing addresses on envelopes for cards, another to help with meal preparations, someone else may do the online shopping, etc. This creates shared responsibility and achievement for the whole family.

Decide how you want to send out holiday cards and season greetings. Make a list of everyone to whom you will send a card and have their addresses available. If you’d like to write a special note on the card to each recipient, spread this activity out over several days and try to write two to five cards a day, depending on your schedule.

Gift Present Celebrate Party Wrapped Simple Concept

Try to get as much shopping and preparation done from behind a computer. If you are shopping offline, call ahead before you arrive at the store to reserve the item for which you are looking. You can avoid going to several stores in search of the same item with this method. Even some grocery stores will set aside turkeys or roasts if you call in advance. \

Don’t be afraid to turn down invitations. It’s completely understandable to be busy or “fully booked” during the holiday season. Over-committing may lead to stress when you try to be everywhere at once.

Enjoy living in the season rather than being focused on creating memorable moments for everyone else. Focus on what matters to you and loved ones and prioritize those first.

Don’t know what to do with all the leftovers or unused items from the holidays? Have a holiday after-party to get rid of things you don’t want. You can have a potluck to help everyone get rid of leftovers or a white elephant for unwanted gifts.

Fall Back Into Action

I hate to be the one to say it but we’ve got only a few more months left in the year. Oh my!

Do you feel good about meeting your de-cluttering and organizing goals for 2017? If you have had the desire and the willingness to get organized, but lacked motivation or a plan, this month’s newsletter is for you! It is designed to help you get back on track, get back to basics, re-take some baby steps.

For good or ill we live in a culture that bombards us with stuff that we bring into our home, the one place where we want to feel calm. Instead, we feel chaotic.

Take a deep breath and let the de-cluttering begin (again!).

Fall Back Into Action:

1. Remind yourself why you want to be organized! Make a list of what it will feel, smell and look like when you’ve completed a de-cluttering project. Why have you chosen to start this process? Control your surroundings? Improve mental and emotional well-being? Write your goals again, reinforce your commitment.

2. Start small.  Take one step each day to reduce the clutter in your life. Using a basket or box, go through your home or office and pick up ten items that belong elsewhere.  Put them where they belong. Take your trash our regularly. Don’t let it pile.

3. Turn your To-Dos into a “To-Due” list and go for “To Done!” We all know that it’s easier to write a list than to complete it! Some tips: Wake up earlier, put the difficult tasks first, spread tasks throughout the day within a particular time-frame, batch tasks (5 phone calls, 4 emails, etc.), and fit your day together accordingly.

4. If you procrastinate, ask a friend to be your accountability partner.  Explain the tasks you need to accomplish and let your partner hold you to your finish date for each task. Set up “rules” about reminders and consequences.

5. Create storage to stay organized.  If you avoid putting away an item because you don’t know where to put it, think about other similar items you might have and store them all together. If you have too many clothes, keep your winter and summer clothes separate, alternate them in and out of your closet according to season.

6. Become a minimalist. If you don’t need something, why keep it? While it’s tempting to keep all of your child’s art projects, try utilizing the storage space in your computer rather than your house. Take a picture of objects you want as a keepsake but have no space for. Make sure every item in your home has a home, and put things back where they belong. Encourage your children, spouse, or roommate to do the same.

7. Clean as you go. When making dinner, it is easy to end up with a pile of dirty pans and dishes in the sink. To avoid this, wash the dishes as you wait for the food to cook.

8. Time management. Schedule time for interruptions. Sometimes, there really aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Don’t instantly give people your attention unless it’s absolutely crucial to offer your immediate response. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls rather than answer them throughout the day. The 3rd edition of my book, “Psychic Debris, Crowded Closets” has new chapters on managing your time with time: click here for more information.

9. Learn to say “No.” Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm “no” or defer it to a later period.

10. Eliminate timewasters. Whether social media, television, or surfing the Internet, if it is not related to the tasks you need to complete for the day, it can wait! Schedule “free” time so a timewaster is not a waste of time anymore.

Remember in September: Preparing for Disaster A Clear Path’s Top Ten Tips

September is Emergency Preparedness month. In an ideal world we’d like it very much if we didn’t have to think about what may befall us or our family. But we live in a world where disaster can strike at any moment. And while many of my clients want to hold on to their stuff “just in case” (when chances of the “just in case scenario” is not likely to occur) it’s a good idea to keep and store a few things just in case the earth shakes or a fire is burning out of control.

1. Tools: You may want to have some or all of these tools stored in a bin for easy access:

  • Fire extinguisher large 5-20 pound, type ABC
  • Crow bar, 1 ft min.
  • Leather gloves
  • Multi-function pocket tool or knife
  • Plastic tarp, 9×12 ft min
  • Nylon rope, 100 foot
  • Duct tape
  • A multi-purpose tool for shutting of gas and water main valves
  • Portable generator.   Make your selection based on what really needs to be powered and the run time of the model. Our recommendation is for a maximum size of 5 HP, 2250 Watt 120 vac only. To get a 230 vac generator will require an 8 HP motor, and your run time will drop in half. Typically, the only items in your house that will require 230 vac is an electric heating system, an electric water heater, or an electric range. What you really need to power is a refrigerator, a few lights, and a radio.
  • Power converter for running 120 volt items from car battery.

2. Light: I lived in the San Fernando Valley when the ’94 earthquake hit Los Angeles at approximately 4:00AM and very dark inside and out. Disaster or not, you want to always have access to light.

  • Flashlight with 2 sets of spare alkaline batteries and one spare bulb.  Newer LED flashlights are also available and run much longer on a set of batteries. Store the flashlight by turning one battery in the wrong direction to avoid the inevitable corrosion.
  • Lantern battery, kerosene or propane powered. Store fuel or batteries, but never use fuel-based lighting until you are sure gas leaks are eliminated.
  • Long life candles
  • Waterproof matches or lighter

3. Communication: Chances are pretty good that cell towers will become inoperable for a time. Get ready with other methods of communication.

  • AM/FM radio.  Store at least 3 sets of alkaline batteries for standard units. Inexpensive radios are available from your local Radio Shack.  The best radio is one that has rechargeable NI-cads built in, and may be charged with the built-in solar cell, or by cranking on a built in generator handle.
  • This solar/generator survival radio is available from Epicenter.  We recommend this radio for your supplies in your car as well.
  • Pen, pencil, and paper pad.  Store in zip lock bag.
  • Stamped postcards.  Store in zip lock bags.  Your house might be gone, but if you still have a mailbox, the mail will continue service.  An easy way to stay in touch with family far away.
  • List of important phone numbers, including your out of state focal
  • Weather radio or police scanner.  A bit expensive, but a weather radio is a must in tornado or hurricane country.

4. Your home. Find out where the utility shutoffs are for water, power, and gas. Place a flashlight or an emergency light next to your breaker panel. Place a wrench in your water meter box located near the street and attach a tool on your gas meter for turning off the gas. Evaluate each room in your house. Ask yourself: what will fall on my head, or will keep me from getting out if it fell?  Secure anything you find.  Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit. Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches. Also be sure to store household chemicals on a bottom shelf of a closed cabinet. Never store bleach and ammonia in the same cabinet.  These chemicals, when mixed, will create a deadly toxic gas. Change the batteries 2x/year in the carbon monoxide and fire alarms throughout your home.

5. Store at home:

  • Water: 30 gallons per person (2 gallons per person per day for 1 week).
  • Canned goods: ready to eat soups, meats, veggies and fruit. Make sure you know when they will expire.
  • Cooking: Barbecue, 40 pounds charcoal, and two cans of starter fluid.  Or a propane unit with two 20 pound containers of propane.  A propane camp stove may also be used.

Store the following items for use with above:

  • Pot and pan for cooking
  • Kitchen knife
  • Silverware.
  • Styrofoam cups
  • Water proof matches or lighter
  • Zip lock bags
  • Can Opener
  • Aluminum foil

6. Keep your car safe. Think of your car’s trunk as a big steel supply cabinet.  Keep your supplies in the trunk along with other items like tools, jumper cables and spare tire. Even if you are at home when a disaster strikes, and your home is well stocked, you may still need the supplies in your car. Your house may not be safe to enter, or may catch fire after a disaster like an earthquake.

Your car will be one of your most important resources after a disaster strikes.  Keep it mechanically sound, and pay close attention to the exhaust system.  A leaking exhaust system could kill. Replace your battery every 2-3 years.  In an emergency, your car battery will need to run the radio and heater for extended periods.

7. Prepare for disaster on the job: Read your company’s evacuation plan. Note the designated meeting locations for after an evacuation. Each time you enter a room, take note of the exit routes and locations of fire extinguisher and medical kits. Keep your own personal supplies in your desk in a single pack of some kind that you can access quickly.  Along with your supplies, store a pair of walking shoes.

Be sure you have composed a card to carry in your wallet or purse with important phone numbers including the number of your out of state phone contact. Keep the area under your desk free of waste-paper baskets and the like. This 6 square foot area might be home during a few traumatic moments.

If you are not at your desk when something happens, don’t count on being able to make it back.

8. Emergency supplies at work:

  • Emergency water rations
  • MRE’s (Meals ready to eat, or coast guard food rations)
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Flashlight with extra batteries of chemical light stick
  • First aid kit

9. Know and understand your neighborhood. Contact your school district to obtain policy regarding how children will be released from school. Know the location of the nearest police and fire stations, as well as the route to the nearest hospital emergency room. Meet with neighbors and find out who has medical experience. If you are taking this preparedness thing seriously, share this information with the households next to you. The more people you can convince to prepare, the greater your group resources. Remember that you will be called upon by all around you for help, especially by those who didn’t take warnings seriously. Show neighbors where the utility shutoffs are and provide them with a list of contact phone numbers. Ask how to turn off your neighbor’s utilities.

10. Come up with a plan in case of an emergency. Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance: how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations. Here is a great chart to help you and your family come up with a plan in case of an emergency.


Thanks to make-a-plan for great emergency response ideas.