Sunday, December 27, 2009

In With the New, Out With the Old...

Something new you may want to try this year is a “things to remember list” for next Christmas that you can place in with your decorations. Basically it is a list of things like desserts everyone loved/hated, buy a bigger turkey for next year, don’t invite so and so again unless you are mentally up for it!! This list will help you take the guess work out of next Christmas. Don’t forget to add to this list, “make sure there are enough batteries on hand”, nothing is worse than getting a new toy for Christmas that needs batteries and you only have one of the two batteries it needs.

As you know, one of my constant rants along with every other organizer in the world is “in with one new, out with one old”. Take a look around at the gifts you and your family received and before you start cramming the new blouse in your closet, is there an old blouse that is tired that it could replace? Did your children receive extra action figures or dolls that maybe could replace some broken toys or toys they rarely play with? Bottom line, it is all about excess no matter if it is Tupperware, toys, clothes or make-up there is always “extra” things around that people don’t use, play with, or wear. Do you have some of those things cluttering up your home?

New Years is this week and maybe instead of writing the typical New Years resolutions, try something new and write down new habits you could start. Instead of losing weight, try writing eating healthier or eliminating afternoon snacks. In place of getting organized you could write, spend ten minutes a day clearing the clutter. Sometimes we tend to take on more than we can accomplish and if your goal is too high, it can be hard to attain it and you end up feeling as though you have failed. Who wants to feel like that?!?!? Not me!

So this year, start with “little positive improvements”. Who knows, you may end up losing the weight you want and wouldn’t it be nice to live in an organized home! Happy New Years!

By Michelle Lehman Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter”

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Exchanges, Returns...When Will it Ever End?

Any time I feel stressed I hear that old commercial from Calgon Bath Soaps…”Calgon Take Me Away”, do you hear it?

I don’t know about you but I already have two returns and one exchange. I have to do the exchange before Christmas. I bought my husband a history book and you would think out of the 1000’s of history books out there I could find one he didn’t already have, NOT! Maybe he has too many!!!

I personally would not run out the door first thing on Saturday to do any exchanges or returns unless you absolutely have to for financial reasons. The lines will be out the door. My suggestion would be to look at the receipt and see what your time limit is for the exchange/return. Is it 30 days after the purchase, is it January 31st or is it three months? If you have some wiggle room, I would save your returns to do after the kids are back in school and everyone is back into their weekly routine. The lines will be shorter, trust me!

If you have saved your returns to do after things “go back to normal” put all of your returns in your car with the receipt in their designated bag/box. Map out your returns according to their location, try to make a full circle rather than zig zagging all over town. If you need to go grocery shopping as well and have return at a super center have your return map end at the super center so you can come straight home with your groceries. Time management is of the essence here!

If you are exchanging a sweater for a smaller size (notice I said smaller, trying to be positive here) I would go into the store and buy the sweater that you want in a smaller size. More times than not, the sweater will be marked down drastically for the after Christmas sales. Return your other sweater later for a store credit that you could use to buy a new swimsuit or just return it for cash back if that is an option. The check out lines will still be long but you will not have to stand in two different lines and you will have a chance to get what you want if you postpone the return line for a couple of weeks.

Your time is valuable and if you really enjoy shopping the after Christmas sales, take your time shop and don’t worry about returning until later. Who knows you may find a sweater you like better and maybe it’s marked down to $9.99 with an extra 20% off if you can stand on your head! Happy Holidays and have a great time shopping!

By Michelle Lehman Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter”

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...But

Everyone is so stressed out, including me. I have now started wrapping gifts like an assembly line. I put names on all of my tags first (stickers so they adhere quickly) and as soon as I finish wrapping the present the label is ready and off it goes under the tree.

I have even gone one step further, I grab all presents that are like sizes measure the largest one on the wrapping paper and cut different wrapping paper designs in the same general size so I can wrap faster. I feel like the Engergizer Bunny who just keeps going and going!

It’s not that we spent a lot of money on so many presents instead we are wrapping several books, art supplies and other things. Sometimes quantity is better than quality. Besides Santa brings all the cool gifts and we’re stuck with the socks and underwear!!!

The point to all of this is that it’s okay if you take some short cuts to get things done faster so you can enjoy this wonderful time of year!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Break is Almost Here!

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but next week is the last week you have before the kids are out of school. YIKES! I realize you have 100+ things left to do on your to-do list but maybe we could rearrange some items to take advantage of children being at school.

Try to get as much done next week that is secretive such as; wrapping their Christmas presents, making sure Santa has gotten everything on their list, stocking stuffers and even if you have a return or two to make because you decided on something else for your children. Nothing would be worse than a PlayStation game or Barbie doll falling out of the bag with your children in the car wondering why it is going back to the store! Good luck explaining that one!

It is difficult to finish these secret things when they are at home. If you can try to get most of it out of the way next week, that would be great! Leave making fudge bars, cookies, buying Aunt Judy’s gift for when they can come with you or help you in the kitchen. Hey…why not buy some extra aprons while you are out next week and put them to work in the kitchen. Now we are talking!!!!

Take a couple of minutes to “reprioritize” your list for next week for secret “stuff” and leave the rest for later, when you have extra help…

By Michelle Lehman Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter”

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Scratch the Christmas Cards off the List!!!

At this point of the season I just want to scratch everything off of my list! This weekend I decided to tackle or attack our Christmas cards. My husband loves for us to send out a card with a picture of the boys. By the time you figure out who to send them to and you sent you one last year that wasn’t on your list, before you know it you are sending out a ton of cards.

Here I am Saturday evening stuffing the picture into each card one after another. Now I am signing all of them with all of the members of our family. Where is my family during all of this, are you thinking? I am thinking the same thing! My oldest one is watching the football game (Texas vs. Nebraska), my youngest one is playing (Texas vs. Nebraska on PlayStation) and my husband is in and out listening to the game on the radio.

I decide to enlist in some help. I called a family timeout, TV time out and asked my husband to grab his radio. I had my oldest putting the cards in the envelope and my youngest putting stamps and return address labels on the envelopes (crooked and diagonal but they are on) while my husband and I addressed the envelopes. It was quite a production. Sure I would have loved to have Christmas songs playing on the stereo and yes we could have all been sitting in front of the fire place…enjoying the Christmas spirit. Instead we are on a roll, knocking them out!!

I know you are wondering where I am going with this? As we were finishing our task as fast as we can, my husband notices that one of the envelopes is not staying shut. He looks to see who it is addressed to and notices it is for one of his friends he likes to tease and joke with all the time. My “three boys”, yes “three boys” decide they are going to tape it, put Ninja Turtle stickers all over it, put a band-aid on it to keep it closed. They wrote on the envelope “warning contents may be hot”!

Never in my life have I heard the three of them laugh so hard, they thought they were so funny! We started off by attacking my Christmas cards as fast as we could so we could all go back to what we were doing and ended up having the time of our life. Our new tradition is to pick one card every year and “decorate” it Lehman style. Who would have known that it would have turned out to be a great Christmas memory and isn’t that what it is all about?!?!?

By Michelle Lehman Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Organizing Your Spending

Yes, I am going to try and organize your spending. I know, I know I have gone over the line this time but if someone doesn’t cross it you maybe wondering how to organize your budget after the first of the year.

First of all, find all of your available balances on your credit cards and your interest rate. If you don’t have to use them great, but just in case, let’s try use the credit cards wisely. I would use the card with the lowest interest rate and leave the rest of your cards at home so it will be easier to calculate your holiday spending. This will help you from accidently grabbing the wrong card at the checkout. Not only with this protect your budget it will protect your wallet. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of shopping for all those gifts we loose our wallet or worse yet it is stolen. Can you imagine trying to cancel ALL of your credit cards and losing your personal information?

Speaking of which if you have not already made copies of all of your credit cards front and back of the card (account number is on the front and the toll free number for the credit card company is on the back along with a three digit security code number). If you don’t have a copier PLEASE take the time to write all the information down. I promise this will give you peace of mind knowing you have all of your information at your finger tips and you don’t have to guess or scramble to find all the account numbers.

Quick reminder, don’t over organize your holiday receipts. Keep it simple…one envelope or shoe box…all receipts no matter who the gifts are for, including you and your husband. Just fold the receipt into an a tiny square if you think he might take a peak and smudge some lipstick on a corner to make sure it hasn’t been opened.

Happy shopping and I promise I am not trying to drive you crazy, I will save that until after the first of the year!

By Michelle Lehman with Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter”