Pandemic Paper Purge Part 1

Last week we gathered together all the papers needed to fill out the tax organizer we received from our tax accountant for filing our Income taxes. You know the property tax receipts, the charitable giving receipts, the tax documents that come in the mail, etc. All of it pretty well categorized and easily accessible. Then it happened….I needed one receipt from a purchase two years ago that I hoped was in the supporting documents from that year-but it wasn’t.

The Search Begins

Being somewhat organized I first searched Quicken. If it had been charged, it would have shown up there – but it didn’t. Not in the receipt file either and that got me thinking (and fuming) about all the places I tend to keep “important papers.” How about you; do you keep papers “just in case” or “to read later?” Take a look around, how many different places do you have for those papers? Often, we tend to hold onto papers just in case we might need them later. I don’t believe we will ever be totally paperless but I am sure if you took a look at the papers you are saving – you may find some that can go.

What to Look For

Only you know where you have been “storing” paper so look around and check for:

  1. Warranty and Instruction manuals (still own it? Is the manual online?)
  2. Recipes you will never try (If you haven’t made them this year, what are the odds?)
  3. Helpful articles (health, organizational, inspirational, etc.)
  4. Bill receipts (the last year or more is available online – once it’s paid let it go)
  5. Tax records and supporting documentation from 2012 or earlier (CPA told me keep for 7 years)
  6. Kids’ artwork (can’t save it all be selective)
  7. Coupons – be serious will you use them?
  8. Junk Mail and Flyers (immediately into the recycle or shred)

Once you get rid of the backlog of papers you no longer need, you will want to focus on what to do with the important papers. Any system should follow the KISS philosophy of Keep it Super Simple. The first step is to consolidate those papers into categories. Some possible categories might be: taxes, reference, memorabilia, long term storage (birth certs, SS cards, titles, etc.) and of course your “might want this later” pile too. You’ll need to do the same thing with your digital files. Set up folders with specific names so there is no question what belongs in each folder. What can be scanned and kept rather than physically kept?

Look at all the places that you keep paper and try to decide the fewest number of possible places to store them. Just because you have a file cabinet, doesn’t mean it needs to be full. All the important (difficult to replace) papers need to be in one place – just in case you need them in a hurry. So, spend some time purging and grouping and then next month we will discuss how to retrieve this info you are saving.

As for me, I am still searching for that receipt – stay tuned.

What Can You Do in 100 Days?

January 20, 2021, Inauguration day, was the start of President Biden’s term as the 46th President. He has mentioned that he has  an ambitious plan for his first 100 days. That got me thinking why not create my own 100-day plan? Think of all that you could do/change/create or improve in 100 days. What would that feel like?

What better time to start fresh, clean out the clutter, establish new healthy habits, add some volunteering time or just add some structure back into your day than January (which is officially Get Organized Month).  We are still in the midst of the pandemic and many of us are spending more time at home. We all have our own burdens and losses but today I felt a sense of hope and a pervasive calm that I haven’t felt in a long time. If you are not feeling it maybe it is time for a change. Change starts small and builds. Everyone can take baby steps in the direction of their dreams and it can start today.

Step 1: What is your intention for 2021 (or more manageably) the first quarter of 2021? An intention is defined by Google as, “a thing intended; an aim or plan.” Living with intention means living a more balanced “on purpose” life that you are directing. It is turning off the autopilot and making conscious choices about how you want your life to be. Or an intention can just be the state of mind you want to focus on.

The cover of my new planner from ( ) says “Make today count” and I picked it because it was the message for my year and also because I could create the calendar part to work for me. (You can design your planner to fit your needs.) It has places for the top two priorities for the day and a space for the goal for the week. I added in a habit tracker where I can check off the days, I keep that intention.

Step 2: If organization has been a struggle for you then start by creating routines. If your routine includes emptying the sink of dishes before going to bed, then you are building your organization muscle at the same time that you are managing your time and energy. Soon you may discover the dishes go straight into the dishwasher and don’t collect in the sink. Adding a 10-minute pick up to your evening routine can help make your mornings run smoothly. No more searching for the car keys or important bill because they are in their places. What would make a successful routine for you?

Step 3: Choice Architecture. I love that term but it doesn’t really seem to mean what I think it should. Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by too many choices and as the day wears on our decision-making power can get used up, making it more difficult to make decisions. Choice architecture is about designing the environment so you don’t have to choose. Setting up things so you have no choice like workout clothes on the end of your bed or that big project laid out on your desk or connecting new behaviors to already established habits so that when you brush your teeth you also drink a glass of water (or whatever it is you want to do).

Start small and just keep moving in the right direction. Keep your intention in focus, keep tweaking your routines until they REALLY work for you and set your environment up for success. If you miss a day, forgive yourself and start again. The new research says it takes 66 times of doing something before it becomes a habit. If you need ideas or strategies to help, I will be posting to FaceBook daily tips for the next 100 days so check us out there.

Coffee and Routines

Routines keep us goingRoutines, we all have them. Some are helpful and some are not. Routines that are based on good habits are sets of things we do every day that have a positive effect. You probably have a morning routine that gets you and your family out the door in the morning, and an evening routine that ends the day. Do they serve you? By that I mean do they make things run smoothly, keeping you relaxed or do they add chaos, disorganization or a sense of hurriedness to your life?

I think the holiday season is one time where the impact of disrupting the routines of the day can show its effect. Behaviors erupt, patience is thin, and chaos reigns. If there is any ADHD in the family, then those routines/habits are even more important. For those with ADHD, a routine may not always be the same from day to day. In fact, for most people/children with ADHD every day is a new day and often a new “routine”. However, it definitely helps if those with ADHD can create a routine of good habits so that they are on automatic pilot rather than having to take the time to figure out what they should do next. It is the thinking “now what do I have to do?” that causes the mind to go blank or to act on whatever is in front of them.

According to pediatricians at, ““Every family needs routines. They help to organize life and keep it from becoming too chaotic. Children do best when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent.” We’ve all seen this. A sudden change of plans can send our day into a tailspin or worse, change our normally happy youngster’s personality into something we don’t recognize (tantrums optional). Routines for kids provide a sense of predictability and that makes them feel safe. It does the same for adults although I would change the feeling of safety to a sense of control.

Routines teach responsibility, organization, and cooperation and positively reduce your stress level, save you time and energy and bring a sense of control to your daily life. It is that simple. Routines are beneficial in the morning, after school or when returning home for the day, dinner time, and bedtime. It’s not just about the “basics” of a routine as there is often room to add something to your routine that you feel has been missing. For example: it is not just about remembering to brush your teeth at night, but also about ending your day on a positive note. Are you watching TV until bed and then tossing and turning or do you read something positive after having set yourself up for a stress free morning?(Clothes out, lunches packed or planned, keys on hook, phone charging, etc.)

Take a look at your routines and those of your family and see if they are beneficial or not. If things are not working, figure out why and try something new. Keep at it until it works. If things are working well, then you might want to consider adding something to an already established routine. Research shows that linking a new behavior to something that is already “routine” makes it easier for it to become a habit. I have added writing in a journal to my morning routine that also includes listing three things I am grateful for. It starts my day with gratitude and a positive attitude. What will you add to your routine?

Family Room Fixes to Encourage Communication

family-room-lIf the kitchen is the heart of the home then the family room/living room is the soul. It is the room that brings the family together. It is a place to relax, unwind, entertain and be entertained. Communication happens here and relationships are built and/or strengthened here. Is your family room conducive to communication or is it cluttered with energy draining reminders?

First, take a look around. Often things are piled because they do not have a “home.”  Remove those things that do not belong in the room or create a space for them. Do you have enough storage for your CD’s, DVD’s and Video Games? Shelves, baskets or closed cabinets work well for these. Sort all media into piles and then count or measure how much you have before purchasing new containers. Be sure that you leave space to grow. Recycle newspapers, catalogs and all but the current month of your magazines unless there are important articles you want to read. Tear them out and put them in a plastic file folder (the kind with the string closure) and keep them in your car for those unexpected waiting times. Consider cutting down on those magazines that you never seem to get to read.

Take a look at the furniture placement. Is it encouraging communication or is the seating spread out to the edges of the room? It is often difficult to have conversations especially while the TV is on if people are seated too far away. Ever notice how loud commercials are? Well, take advantage of those three minutes to communicate by pausing (if you have a DVR) or muting the commercials. Discuss the show or take time to connect with your family. Better yet, plan some family fun for one or two nights a week and keep the TV off.

Keeping the family room neat and functional makes it the room everyone wants to be in. Take the time to give it a summer pick me up and then have the family take 10 minutes before bed to put everything back in its place. Then enjoy the added time to connect with your loved ones.

If you’re not sure where to start, or your room needs some extra organization help, then give me a call (781.659.0513) and in two or three hours you’ll be amazed at the difference.

Get in the ZONE

houseLook around your home; are you happy with the condition it is in? Can you find what you need quickly and easily? Or do you suffer from C.H.A.O.S. (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome)? Well, stop living in fear of the doorbell (or cancelling play dates) and take back your weekend at the same time.

Often times we feel the “need” to clean the house weekly and many people spend their Saturdays doing just that. The problem with that is, if you have a special event to go to or your child is on a team your Saturday is not your own.  I know you have limited time and that there are lots of things competing for your time and attention – especially your children. Our home is our oasis from the outside world and should be comfortable and relatively stress free – it does not need to be dust free. De-cluttering and organizing are often very helpful and if the family gets involved, they’ll learn habits that will benefit them their whole life. So, here’s a plan that takes 15-20 minutes a day that the whole family can help with.

First: divide your home into 5 or 6 zones. A zone can be one room or a combination of rooms but don’t make it too big. You want to be able to do a bit of de-clutter, organizing and/or cleaning in the 20 minute block. For example, zone 1 for me includes the breezeway (because most people enter there), entry way and ½ bath (which is right near that back door). Zone 2 includes the kitchen, dining room (which does not get used very often) and the foyer. The idea is to create small enough areas that you can work on for 15-20 minutes each night and feel like you are making progress. At the same time you can have the rest of the family doing the DPU (15 minute daily pick up) and picking up and putting away in other rooms or get them to help with the current zone.  At first, you may only have time for de-cluttering, later on though as you keep at it each week, you’ll not only get to clean the areas but you’ll have time to deep clean or go one step further – whatever that is for you.

Next, figure out what time of day would work best for you and the family to take those 20 minutes. Will it be before dinner, before getting the kids ready for bed, after the kids are in bed or different each day? It’s okay if it is different every day but I feel it is important to “plan” it into your day somehow. So schedule it for the first week and then each day work on one zone. Monday is my zone one, so it is the breezeway, back door entry and ½ bath that get my attention. The biggest thing here in the winter is the sand and grit that gets carried in. So, with a shake of the rugs and a quick vacuum (using a cordless stick vacuum because my central vacuum has a 20 foot hose that is just not convenient for me), I change the towels in the bathroom and clean the fixtures and I’m done. One week I also had time to clean out the medicine cabinet and another week I cleaned out the drawers in the vanity. Even if your cleaning service comes each week, you can still de-clutter and organize and save the cleaning for them.

Lastly, only you can decide what things are important in your home. You may want to focus one day on just mail, or paying the bills, or collecting the recycling for trash day. Whatever works for you is what is important and you’ll need to consider why it is important to you. Life is full of so many “shoulds” that we often don’t stop to consider the “whys”.  Why take the time to do this? Only you can answer that.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of 2013

070621-partyhatAs we say goodbye to another year (I know I can’t believe it either) and welcome 2014, it is time to think about the past for just a few minutes. If you’re like me you might be wondering where 2013 went. I seem to be missing a few weeks somewhere, how about you?

Well, take a few moments and look through the year’s planner pages or calendar (whatever you are using) to recall how you chose to spend it. I call this my “good, bad and ugly” memory trip through the year. Make three columns (or lists)on a sheet of paper and as you go through the months write down the things you want to remember under each of those categories.


  • Husband loves new job
  • Son got married


  • Vacation postponed
  • Gained 7 pounds


  • Broke promises to myself
  • Three unfinished projects calling – no screaming at me

You get the idea. Take a few minutes now and make your list. Now you can focus on reducing the “bad” and the “ugly” and increasing the “good” in 2014. What will that take? Let me know in the comments below please.




What's In Your Closet?

I wonder who invented or designed the first closet. Maybe Mrs. Caveman got tired of tripping over Mr. Caveman’s club again and hid it behind a rock. Whatever the reason, closets can be either a black hole or a great tool for organizing. This month in celebration of Clean Out Your Closet Week, we are tackling the coat closet.

Pick the closet you use most often, it is usually closest to the door you use daily. First step of organizing is always sort.  You can start with sorting the outerwear by season and/or owner. If possible take it out of the closet and sort it so you can actually see how much each person has. As the winter winds down you can see which coats and accessories still fit your child and which will not make it through another season. Decide which coats are regularly worn and which do not fit or are in poor condition. Donate those that you can and store the out of season ones. Do the same for the accessories such as, scarves, hats, gloves and shoes. Take everything else out of the closet and decide if it needs to be stored elsewhere or if it will remain in that closet. (If you do not have a closet near the door that you use most often, try to find a space to put up hooks for jackets and baskets for the other extras for each member of the family.)

Next, look at ways to utilize vertical space. Can you add another shelf? Often the top shelf leaves a lot of unused space up to the ceiling. Add another shelf there and although it will be harder to reach, it makes good use of that space near the ceiling for plastic (labeled) bins for seasonal or seldom used items. A basic shoe rack can double as a removable shelf and shelf dividers can keep things separated. Can you add another rod? Adding a rod off of the existing rod creates a lower rod for children to use at their height. Just remember to leave some space for full length items (if you have any). Sometimes closet space is actually hidden behind the wall of the closet and is difficult to use. If it is 10 inches or deeper, you might want to add some shelves or hooks for easy hang up.

If you like things to be “put away” then you may want to use part of this closet area as a “landing pad.” Use separate baskets, bins or shelves for each family member to store their accessories (hats, gloves, etc.) and backpacks. For young children make sure there are hooks or a rod low enough for them to hang up their own coat and a bin low enough for their mittens, ski pants, backpacks and hats. The fewer steps it takes children to put their things away, the more likely it is that they will do it. Walk them through what you want them to do as they come in the door and for younger children, also add a picture list of the steps to help them create the habit.

Now put everything back into the closet grouped in a way that works for your family whether it be by owner, type of jacket or color – the choice is yours. Make it functional and no one will ask – What’s in your closet?

Got questions? Leave them in the comments box….I’d love to hear from you.

The Best Laid Plans

tuesdayEver set your day up perfectly, only to have a phone call or something simple send it spinning out of control? Me too! When I first started getting organized (yes, it’s true I wasn’t born this way), I set up a basic week schedule. It was a simple chart that had the days of the week on it and what “kind of” a day it was. For example, I had Wednesday as my domestic day, Tuesday for groceries and Friday for bills. If something interrupted my plan, I was thrown off my game – not just for the day but for the rest of the week. So, if it snowed on Tuesday and I couldn’t get to or didn’t want to get to the grocery store, I would try to make it through until the next Tuesday – which usually didn’t work.

What I discovered instead, is that each day I needed to look at what my plan was and check to see if it would still work. The fact that I had specific things to do on specific days saved me from having to stop at the store on the way home from work, or drop off the tax bill instead of mailing it on a Friday. But if something came up, I figured out the next best plan. Sure, sometimes the laundry (domestic day) didn’t get done until the weekend but it was not the overflowing basket that reminded me to it, it was my plan. This often saved my family from some strange combinations for dinner (whatever was still in the freezer).

What I discovered instead, is that each day I needed to look at what my plan was and check to see if it would still work. The fact that I had specific things to do on specific days saved me from having to stop at the store on the way home from work, or drop off the tax bill instead of mailing it on a Friday. But if something came up, I figured out the next best plan. Sure, sometimes the laundry (domestic day) didn’t get done until the weekend but it was not the overflowing basket that reminded me to it, it was my plan. This often saved my family from wearing dirty clothes and some strange dinner combinations (whatever was still in the freezer).

What I realized is that the best laid plans are the tentatively laid ones. Change them if you have to but at least start with a plan. You might want to think about having a grocery day, paperwork day, errand day, laundry day etc. How’s your plan working today? Tell me on Face Book.

You CAN Beat the Odds

mail-manAt the beginning of a new year, statistics say that some 45% of people make new year’s resolutions. The number two most popular resolution is to “get organized” right after “losing weight” which has become the number one resolution. The statistics also say that a mere 8% of Americans will achieve their resolution. I think when it comes to getting organized, we can do better than 8%, don’t you?

Paper and clutter are the two most common challenges to getting organized. Today, let’s just talk about one source of the paper piles – the mail. Six days a week the mail comes whether you want it to or not. Some days you have time to go through it and other days you may not. There may be decisions that need input from someone else, or more information, bills to pay, magazines to read and of course the most plentiful….the junk mail.

First thing to do to get it under control is to designate a home for the mail. Not having a specific place means it may land on the kitchen table, then at dinner it is moved to the island or the counter, or it gets hidden under a homework book. You get the picture, it needs a home. A clear inbox, basket or bin that is not too large but can hold a typical week’s worth of mail (smaller if you don’t want yours to build up that long) makes a good home or rather a temporary holding zone. Of course, if you can throw out the flyers and shred the junk mail before it goes into the inbox, all the better. If not, that’s okay. Just pick a day of the week when you will go through the entire bin.

On “mail day” sort the mail first into bills, decisions/to do, to read, and junk. Shred or recycle the junk. Next pay the bills. If you pay them online, then set a day of the week that you will do that or do it after the rest of the mail is taken care of. It is becoming increasingly time consuming to have to write out an actual check so those things can sometimes slip through the cracks.

Next, move the magazines to a “to read” basket or throw one or two in your car for those times you find yourself waiting. Or put one or two by your favorite chair and read during the commercials.

What’s left is the mail that requires a decision of some sort. The best way to do that is to just go through it and decide on the things you can and then write a “to do” in your planner for the next action step on anything that is left over. Make it a rule to empty the bin each week and of course try to deal with some of it as it comes in so that your “mail day” can become a “mail hour.” Keep at it and you will beat the odds!

This week I’ll be posting more tips on handling paper on the Laine’s Logic Facebook page. “Like” us so you won’t miss them. Thanks for reading!

January 2013 a Fresh New Start!

procrastination-fortune-cookie-500x300The month of January is symbolic of new beginnings with its clean, unscarred calendar pages. The word January dates back to Roman   mythology. The god Janus was believed to be “the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings,” according to Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia. How appropriate then, as we open to the new calendar page, that we are filled with expectation as we walk through the doorway leading to a happier, healthier and more organized new year.

January is the perfect month to tie up loose ends. Just like the leftovers that pull at us to eat them, the unfinished, loose ends pull at us and drain our energy. Cheryl Richardson, author of Take Time for Your Life, believes that each unfinished, incomplete or unresolved “to do” is connected to our life energy by invisible cords. The more cords, that is, the more “leftovers,” the less life energy we have for the present. Do you have a phone call you have been putting off, a relationship to mend or end, piles of unread magazines or errands to do? Each of these tasks, whether you consciously think about them or not, continues to drain your energy. Once you systematically start cleaning up and taking care of these “drains” you will feel your energy increase. Start with a blank planner page and list the “to do’s” you have been avoiding. Think about those things that pop into your head when you are trying to get to sleep or that are on scraps of paper covering your desk and write them down. Are there any that you could take care of today, tomorrow or this week? Write the task on the dated planner page and be sure to cross it off once it is completed. As you make progress tying up loose ends you will feel your energy being restored as you juggle less and less of 2012 and gain energy for 2013.

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” A.A. Milne

Would your student benefit from organizing help for their academics? Then check out our End Homework Hassle email program that sends daily “lessons” to teach them the skills they need to succeed. January’s Special Pricing is $50 off.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and organized 2013. Thanks for reading.