Monday, November 2, 2020

Thanksgiving - Plan a Stress Free Holiday. Don't let the Pandemic ruin it!

The holidays are approaching - but things already feel very different! Everyone is being told to "isolate and stay home".  Or "only have immediate family over to visit".

The stress this year is everywhere. A lot of people don't even want to think about the holidays because everything is up in the air. Who knows what we will be allowed to do by Thanksgiving.

But trying to keep things as "normal" as possible - which is really hard right now - is important. Not only for the adults - but the children. We all need something to look forward to.

The holiday gatherings might be small - but you can still make them special by making your favorite foods. Don't let the state of the world ruin your holidays.

Turkey and stuffing are what make the holiday special. So go ahead and plan a great dinner and try to forget the outside world for a few short hours.

Take a deep breath. And let's get through one holiday at a time.

Re-read this Thanksgiving article that will give you a STEP by STEP way to have a STRESS FREE Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving  -  Organized and Stress Free  - Yes, It is Possible

Yes, “Organized“, “Stress Free” and “Thanksgiving” can be used in the same sentence.

It all starts with the word “organized”. Don’t let it scare you. Embrace it. By being organized and planning ahead you can actually enjoy a holiday.

Start by deciding on what you want your holiday to be like. Do you really want to serve a sit down dinner for twenty (20) people? Or would a buffet be acceptable for you? Would it be acceptable for your “family”?

The pressure of trying to please everyone, especially parents and doing things “exactly” like when you were little and everything was perfect is how the “stress” starts.

It’s your house and your dinner party. You can start new traditions. I didn’t say that it would be easy or that you wouldn’t get some flack, but all “traditions” started somewhere. Make your own. You deserve some happiness.

If you really want a fancy sit down dinner party but twenty (20) people is too much for you to handle then cut the guest list down.

If you really want all twenty (20) people there then maybe you should consider a buffet. It’s much easier and your family will eventually come to terms with the fact that maybe you aren’t serving a formal sit down dinner, but the food is just as good.

You can make Thanksgiving as simple or as complicated as you want….it all depends on how organized you are willing to be.

A good way to keep the stress levels down is to divide and conquer.  Enlist your family for help. Don’t take “no” for an answer. This is your holiday too and you have a right to enjoy it. And we all know that old saying  “if Mom isn’t happy, no one is happy”.

Start at least two (2) or three (3) weeks before Thanksgiving.

Decide on the type of gathering (formal or informal), the size of the guest list and the menu.

Don’t attempt to make something new for dinner or try out a new dessert that day. It could turn out to be a disaster and that would cause you more stress. If you really want to try a new dish….test it out prior to Thanksgiving.

Menu: Do you really want to serve cranberry relish and sweet potato’s even if you don’t like them and only serve them because “they are always served at Thanksgiving”?

Make up your own menu (yes, it is radical). Serve something different. Serve something you like!
If you are having a small Thanksgiving dinner don’t feel obligated to serve Turkey. I know, blasphemy! I once made stuffed Cornish Hen. It was wonderful and just as delicious as turkey. You can also stuff a small chicken or even a duck! Or be really different and have Ham! The possibilities are endless.

Start new traditions! It’s not easy to buck the system but once you make up your mind that you deserve to be happy and stress free on a Holiday you will wonder why you waited so long.

Remember, the whole point of a Holiday is family and friends and spending “quality” time together.

Everything does not have to be perfect. Be thankful for what you have and not for what you don’t.

A great piece of advice: don’t attempt to clean your oven Thanksgiving morning before you put in the turkey. I did that once, years ago in my new house, when I was young and anxious to please. I then found out that after the oven is cleaned it needs to cool down and the oven will stay locked for another hour or so after it’s done. And you can’t open it! It certainly put a dent into my dinner timetable!

By starting early and making lists and getting as much done ahead of time you will avoid a lot of stress.

Once you have your menu planned work backwards and make up a timetable to what needs to be done.
For example: if you want your dinner to be served at 6 p.m., what time do you have to put the turkey into the oven? What time do the potato’s and vegetables need to be started?  Just make a list and put it on your refrigerator door so that you don’t have to second guess yourself and aren’t panicking at the last minute.

When your family or guests start to arrive your mind and attention will be elsewhere….so a list can help you stay on track. Don’t leave anything to chance.

A few days before Thanksgiving:

* Shop for all of the essentials, including as much of the food as can be purchased ahead of time
* Make sure that you have enough spices and things that you will need for the food (and rarely buy)
* Do any of the baking or make any desserts that can be made ahead of time
* Thaw the turkey (the size will determine how many days it takes to thaw in the refrigerator)
* Buy the wine or any beverages

The day before Thanksgiving:

* Buy any last minute items at the grocery store
* Chop anything that can be chopped ahead of time (vegetables, bread for stuff…but do not stuff the turkey ahead of time) and put them in plastic bags so that you will be all ready to go the next day
* Make sure you have enough ice
* Prepare any of the food items that can be made ahead of time
* Make your family aware of exactly what you need them to help you with on Thanksgiving.
* Having assigned tasks for your kids and spouse ahead of time takes away some of the stress of what’s expected of them the next day.

The night before Thanksgiving: 

* Set the table and get out all of your platters and serving dishes.
* Make sure that you have enough dishes and silverware. If you don’t, now is the time to call one of your guests and ask to borrow something. Don’t wait until the last minute to find out that you broke the gravy boat last Thanksgiving and never replaced it.

When I entertain I love to use all of my special platters and dishes. I love to fuss over my family and I love to set a very special table. I don’t consider it extra work or a hardship or stressful. It’s my way of telling my family and friends just how special they are.

But again…..the Holiday and family and friends are what’s important….not the china or the food. So if you aren’t the type of person to pull off a sit down dinner with all the decorations - don’t beat yourself up. There are only so many Martha Stewart's around. And she has a staff to help her!

Thanksgiving Day: 

* Wake up early so that you can have some “you” time to have coffee and relax before
the day starts (it will get stressful enough later, so the morning might be the only time you have)
* Read over your lists and timetable
* Gather all of your food and cooking utensils, pots and pans ....
* Measure out everything that you can ahead of time and set it aside
* Follow your time table and start making the food according to the schedule
* Once the food comes out of the oven let it rest a while (you can cover it with foil)
* Start cutting the meat and plating the food
* Have family members start their assigned tasks (setting out and serving food, pouring the drinks…)

ENJOY your meal…… sit and talk…..

After the meal:

Have a plan in place to clear the table. Since I always make a ton of extra food so that my guests can take home leftovers I start with portioning the leftovers into plastic containers and putting each family’s containers into a plastic bag and setting it near the door so that they don’t forget them.

Once I have the leftovers divided up and mine put away in the refrigerator and freezer I then start to collect the rest of the dishes and put them into the dishwasher. I don’t start the dishwasher until after they leave so that we won’t be bothered with the noise.

Again, this is where your family members can jump in and help clear and stack dishes. It makes quick work of things when you have other people help.

I need to have as many things cleared up and put away as possible before I start serving dessert. This also gives everyone time to rest and relax before they start eating again.

Some people like to leave the dishes and the mess until the next day. And sometimes I wish I could too, but it’s worse the next day when you get up and walk into a mess. I’d rather get it done and over with.

Make quick work of it (or as much as will fit into the dishwasher) and then sit and relax and spend time with your family.

Remember, a Holiday is supposed to be enjoyable. If it’s not, figure out why it isn’t and change it. Skip the big complicated meal, the fancy desserts and the good china and make it as simple as you are able to handle.

Start your own tradition….and make it about family!

Happy Holiday !

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, August 31, 2020

Estate Division - A Stress Free Way to Divide Assets with No Hassle

Organizing your life includes organizing your assets so that your family knows what you want done should anything happen to you.

A lot of people think that only old people should have a will and think about the future. That is the furthest thing from the truth! Being prepared for anything that life might throw at you is a gift that you can give your family. At a time of crisis a lot of people make decisions based on emotion instead of logic. Make your important decisions before a crisis so that the decisions you make are in your best interest.

One way to do this is to make a list of all of your assets. If you want to give something to a family member, make sure that they really want it. If not, pick another person that you want to give it to. Don't burden your family with things that they don't really want.

Divide your assets without dividing your family.

There are numerous ways to divide your assets so that it's fair and equitable. With a little bit of planning  you can avoid a lot of issues in the future.

One great option is FairSplit. It can be used to divide estates and even when someone is going through a divorce, to divide their assets.

Estate Division software - there is a FREE version available. This is a great way to track and later divide household assets.

Divide Assets and Clear the Home for Sale

Take a look at FairSplit to see how it can help simplify your life.

Organize your home and life - on your terms.


Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

Visit our Life & Business Coaching website:  North By Northwest

*** check out the Products tab for self-paced workshops, planners and more.... 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Clearing Your Clutter During This Pandemic

The last few months have been very stressful for everyone. But it's also given people a lot of time to work on clearing their clutter.

Then again, there's the problem of what to do with the clutter if the donation centers are closed or they won't pick up.

Clearing you clutter should be an ongoing project. I always have a donation bin going at all times. When the donation bin gets filled - it's time to take it to the donation center. So what goes into the donation bin? Anything and everything. If you have kids and they outgrow their clothes - put it in the bin. If they outgrow their toys - put it in the bin. It will fill up quickly!

You can go through your rooms - one by one - and take a good look at everything in the room. First start with anything that you don't really like anymore. Your tastes change - so let someone else enjoy the item! If your room looks too crowded - move some things out. It will open up the room and make it look bigger.

Go through your kitchen. What gadgets haven't you used in the last 6 months or a year? If you haven't used them - ask yourself "will I ever use it?"  Be honest! If you aren't using them (but will during holidays or only once a month....) - put them somewhere out of the way - instead of on the kitchen counter or in a prime location.

Go through your garage and basement - and clear out things that you rarely ever - or never use. If you "might need it someday" - you can always borrow it or buy it again (which can be cheaper than storing it).

A lot of people have tons of books - that they have already read (numerous times) or never read at all. Maybe it's time to let them go.

What about memorabilia? How long are you going to keep it? Why are you keeping it? Do you have a place to display it - or is it just taking up valuable space? Take a picture of it, write a story about it and let it go.

What about things that you are keeping for your kids - who are all grown up with families of their own? How long are you going to store it? Ask your kids if they want it (they probably don't). If they do, give them a deadline to pick it up - or you will donate it. If they don't want it - donate it.

When you  are going to start a decluttering project - give yourself a time limit - so that you don't get overwhelmed. Take frequent breaks.

Now - as for the donation dilemma. If your favorite donation center is not accepting donations yet - you have two options. Either you pick another donation center that is open or you continue to store your donation bin for a time in the future (hopefully soon) that it will start accepting donations again. But, put a time limit on how long you are willing to wait. 

Clearing your clutter gives a lot of people a sense of freedom and clarity. If you don't experience that - it's o.k. At least it will give you a less cluttered home!

Happy Clearing!

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

Visit our Life & Business Coaching website:  North By Northwest

*** check out the Products tab for self-paced workshops, planners and more.... 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Buried in Treausures

 A Group to Address Hoarding Behavior
 The Buried in Treasures Workshop is about more than clutter...
· Overcoming challenges 
· Increasing motivation 
· Reducing acquiring
· Prioritizing and celebrating choices

Self-Help & Empowerment
Finders and Keepers

Is clutter getting in the way of how you want to live your life?
Are you feeling overwhelmed with too many possessions?
Are you embarrassed to have people over?

This program offers a 16-week course that is based on the book ‘Buried In Treasures’​.  Join us for this group created by and for people who are ready to live a less - cluttered life! 

​The Buried in Treasures group is for people who would like to learn tips on how to de-clutter and stop over-acquiring with people who know what it’s like. Each week we will have a discussion around a specific skill, followed by the completion of challenging and rewarding exercises. Individual progress, challenges, successes, and goals are also monitored throughout the sixteen weeks.

Participants are expected to commit to attending all the sessions as well as to participate actively.

A Buried in Treasures Group is forming >>>

*** this will be a VIRTUAL CLASS - anyone - anywhere can participate in the class

Sessions start:    Wednesday, September 9th, 2020  -  from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm  -  Mountain Time

This group offers a judgment-free environment for people ready to make a change in their life.

Registration required. Call or email for more information.

(440) 666 – 9326 or

**** Virtual Class available – Conference Style – by phone and/or computer - call /email for Starting Date / Time and to be put on a Waiting List for future classes

Monday, July 20, 2020

Organizing Podcast

I just wanted to share a Podcast that I was on with 3 other Organizers who were from Idaho. It was a lot of fun!

The Podcast focuses on Organizers who live and work in rural areas.

James Lott - our host -  is an Organizer and media celebrity in LA.

All of us really love what we do - and it comes through in our Podcast.

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

Visit our Life & Business Coaching website:  North By Northwest

*** check out the Products tab for self-paced workshops, planners and more.... 

Monday, July 13, 2020

5 Mistakes That Cause New Habits to Fail

In order to be successful - you need to have Goals and a Plan. But sometimes you are your own worst enemy - because of your bad habits. Trying to change your habits takes time and commitment.

It's not easy to develop new healthy and productive habits that you can stick to. But don't give up!

Your habits determine how much money is in your bank account and the size of your waistline. Your habits determine the quality of your life.

It can seem impossible to break bad habits or to create new, positive habits. Most people have an ineffective approach. They try to go cold turkey and rely on willpower to force the necessary changes.

You already know this doesn’t work unless you’re incredibly motivated, and motivation isn’t reliable. It’s here one day and gone the next.

Create new habits more effectively by avoiding the most common mistakes:

1.      Changing too much, too soon. A new habit is best installed in baby steps. If you want to spend two hours each day writing your novel, start with a single sentence each day. One sentence accomplishes something exciting: it gets you in the habit of sitting down and writing when it’s time to write. That’s the most important first step.

·         Start with small changes. Then increase the amount of time and effort when the habit of beginning is in place.

·         Seek behavioral changes that are so easy, you can’t possibly fail.

2.      Relying on self-discipline. If your habit requires self-discipline, it won’t last. At most, self-discipline should only be required to make a habit of getting started. Habits are automatic. Self-discipline isn’t required to eat a candy bar or watch TV for most of us. If you have a habit of going to the gym, self-discipline isn’t required for that either.

·         Self-discipline is a short-term solution.

·         Seek behavioral changes that are so easy, you don’t need self-discipline.

3.      Expecting a new habit to be easy to install. Change isn’t easy. You’ll become complacent and lazy if you expect a new habit to be easy to implement. We’d all be rich, in shape, and speak five languages if creating new habits were a simple matter.

4.      Expecting a new habit to be difficult to install. The opposite is also true. If you expect the process to be exceptionally difficult, you’ll also struggle. The thought of doing anything that’s hard can be sufficient reason to never get started in the first place.

·         New behaviors are easy to implement if you start slowly and have patience. It’s moving ahead slowly and having patience that are difficult.

5.      Relying too much on information. Our society is blessed, or cursed, with access to an excessive amount of information. This can create two challenges:

·         It’s very easy to believe that you don’t know enough to take the first step. There’s always something out there that you don’t know. The need to know everything before getting started can leave you stuck. There’s no prize for knowing the most. There is great success in doing the most, though.

·         The belief that knowledge alone is sufficient is just as harmful. You might know how to do pushups, but that doesn’t provide the same results as doing 100 of them each day.

·         The special forces have a motto that 60% is enough to take action. If you know 60% of the relevant information, you know enough to move forward. You can figure out the other 40% along the way. Spend 90% of your time doing and 10% learning.

Dropping your negative habits and adding new, supportive habits is the key to changing your circumstances. Unfortunately, our instincts about change are incorrect.

Tiny changes are easy to implement and build upon. But this approach requires patience and the belief that it can work. Remember: small changes add up to big results.

Avoid the most common mistakes when attempting to add a new habit to your life and you’ll find greater success in adding habits that make a positive impact on your life.  

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life

Organizational Consulting Services

Visit our Life & Business Coaching website:  North By Northwest

*** check out the Products tab for self-paced workshops, planners and more....