simplify 101
Creative Organizing Blog

November 23, 2012

Finish It Friday

Hello friends! I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving Day (for those of you who celebrate it.) Are you ready to get some stuff done this weekend? Here’s my weekend to-do list (or at least the parts I’ve figured out so far.)



  • Run. I need to run at least four miles before Monday.
  • Knit.



  • Black Friday shopping online. I’m not a big fan of crowds, in fact, I try to avoid them at all costs (or potential savings.) So getting deals while sitting on the couch all alone...really appeals to me. :)
  • Holiday planning. Now that Thanksgiving is under our belt, it's time to turn my attention to the next two "holidays" — Kailea's birthday and Christmas. 
  • Work on a simplify 101 project. The goal is to make four hours of progress.


I don’t have much planned for the weekend, so I'll fill in the blanks from here. What’s on your to-do list this weekend? Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!


P.S. We're having our annual holiday sale! Now through Tuesday, November 27, 2012 save 20% on everything in our store including January online workshops and instant download / self-paced workshops! Learn more here >>

November 16, 2012

Tips to Organize Your Weekend To-Do List

Hello friends, it's time for the weekly tradition called "Finish It Friday." That's right, it's time to organize your weekend to-do list. This week...I'm including a few tips, for new readers, and as a reminder for those of you who have been joining me in Finish It Friday for a while now. Hope you enjoy!


Tip #1: Make it fun.  For optimal results, include stuff you need to get done, and things you'll do for fun on your weekend to-do list. The weekend is a terrific opportunity to make progress on projects, but it's also designed for rest and you're ready to dive back into your weekday life when it rolls around again. sure that the fun stuff is restorative stuff...stuff that makes you feel like you actually had a weekend.


Tip #2: Make it doable. Pull out your calendar when you plan your to-do list. This will help you get a feel for how much you realistically can get done. I usually estimate (in my mind) how much time things will take, so I can get a feel for how much I can put on my to-do list. Sometimes priorities change and you can't get it all done, and that's okay (and nothing to beat yourself up about!) The main idea is that you get more done (and have more fun) when you plan your to-do list ahead of time.


Tip #3: Stay motivated. You'll have more fun and get more done...when you participate in Finish It Friday. I'm amazed at how much this still motivates me to get things done! I make it a point (when possible) to include at least one thing on my list that I really need to do...but might be able to talk myself out of if I didn't add it to my list. If you want to put a little extra fire and motivation on your to-do list this weekend, join us for Finish It Friday.  


Alright...let's share our lists! Here's mine:


  • Run (3-1/2 miles) and roughly map out the rest of the month. I have just over 20 miles to go for the month. 
  • Knit.
  • Read.



  • Holiday planning + make shopping / gift lists.
  • Laundry.
  • Work on a simplify 101 project. For at least four hours on Saturday and/or Sunday.
  • Menu plan + grocery shop. Need to do this early and beat the Thanksgiving rush! 


Alright...that's my list. What's on your to-do list this weekend?


Have a great weekend!


November 02, 2012

What’s on your to-do list this weekend?

Before I get to the weekend to-do list stuff, I want to send a shout-out to my readers on the east coast. I had been hearing reports of power outages via Facebook...but then I saw photos of how sever the destruction is on the news. I'm floored. My heart is heavy for everyone who has been effected by this storm. I'd love to hear how you're doing. 


As for the weekend to-do list stuff, it seems like Friday arrived way too fast this week. I know this is due to Halloween and out of town visitors happening right smack dab in the middle of the week. Regardless, what this means is that there’s lots to do this weekend to catch up from the midweek break! Totally worth it...but the laundry pile runneth over, for example. Here’s what’s on my to-do list this weekend:



  • Run. I met my 43 mile goal for the month of October. My total mileage was 53.77, which I’m really happy about! Never would have dreamed I would run that far when I started the challenge on October 2nd. I set a new goal of 46.23 miles for the month of November. When I hit that goal I will have run 100 miles in two months! So…I better get busy running this weekend.
  • Take photos for 30 days of gratitude. I've also decided I need some words to go along with the will be doing a bit of writing this weekend, too. 


  • In-home organizing appointment. I have a weekend appointment with a terrific client. (Very much looking forward to this.)
  • Laundry.  There’s a big pile up in the laundry room as I type! Must address this by Sunday.
  • Plan meals + grocery shop.
  • Make progress on 28 day challenge. I’m going out of order…we’ll see what I’m inspired to do. If you’re participating, how are you doing with the challenge?
  • Do some paperwork. 


I’m going to keep my list short this weekend, since the better part of one day is already accounted for. What’s on your to-do list this weekend?


Have a great weekend!


October 26, 2012

Are you ready to get organized for the weekend?

It’s time, my friends, to get ourselves organized for the weekend. Here are my weekend fun and done lists.


  • Boot camp.
  • Run. (Maybe.) I have 2 miles to hit my 43 mile goal for the month – woohoo! I have found that running and boot camp aren’t a terrific mix. So…I’m not sure if I’ll be up for a run by Sunday. If not, Monday will be the day I reach my goal. Yay!
  • Pumpkin farm. (Maybe.) We’ll have to see how the rest of the weekend to-do list unfolds, and see how everyone feels about it. We’re very wishy-washy about the pumpkin farm this year.


  • Get ready for Halloween. Okay…so this weekend doesn’t have a lot of fun stuff planned. Instead, I’ll be getting ready for the fun that will happen next week on Halloween when my sister and step mom visit. There are lots of little to-dos in here including decorating and cleaning…just getting the house guest-ready.
  • Weekly meal planning + shopping. This includes getting more Halloween candy and stuff for a little trick-or-treating get together.
  • Make progress on 28 day challenge. By the way, if you’re playing along at home and started on the first day, today is Day 4 and the challenge is to dust cobwebs and clean cold air returns. That is on my list for the weekend, as is cleaning the oven and cook top. I have already decluttered magazines (which is tomorrow’s challenge) and I may skip ahead and do a few later things like cleaning the baseboards.
  • Laundry.



So there's not too much to jump up and down about this weekend, but that’s okay. I’m really looking forward to our mid-week visit next week!


What’s on your to-do list this weekend? Hope you have a great one! (By the way, if you're doing the 28 day challenge, please feel free to share your progress in the Finish It Friday and Monday Check In posts. I'd love to hear how you're doing with the daily tasks! Thanks!)


It's a holiday tradition and you're invited...

It has become an annual tradition at simplify 101 and it’s almost here! My Get Organized for the Holidays online workshop begins next Thursday.


Here are some details about this class in case you’re considering signing up or you’re just finding out about it now.


Holiday Organizing Online Workshop


This workshop isn't about adding another obligation to your already jam-packed holiday to-do list. Instead, it gives you tools to help you simplify your holiday to-do list — this year and in upcoming years, too.


You’ll get printable forms that will help you organize and manage every aspect of your holiday preparations—from shopping, to entertaining, to gift wrapping, to scheduling activities and to-dos.


How to Create Joyful Holidays

If you dread the holiday season because it’s so stressful, or you find yourself rushing to the finish line every year, or you want to find ways to bring more meaning, relaxation, and joy back into your holiday celebrations, this workshop shows you how.


It’s light. It’s simple. It’s fun. And best of all, it shows you how to create a meaningful and joy-filled holiday season.


Class begins Thursday, November 1st and runs through December 20th. During this time, you'll have access to a private message board where you can ask me questions. I'll answer them within one business day (often even faster) so it's like having me "on-call" throughout the holiday season. You'll also have fun interacting with your classmates and me, where we'll be sharing ideas about gifts, recipes, holiday decorating, and anything else holiday related. One of the things I love about this workshop is hearing about the holiday traditions from our friends around the world. And if all that weren't enough, you’ll also continue to have access to the lesson materials and online community through November 1, 2013.


You’re invited to join the fun. And you're invited to create a stress-free, joy-filled holiday season this year and for years to come. Get all the details and sign up here.


October 23, 2012

28 Day Challenge: Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays

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28 Day Holiday Challenge
Last year in late October, Jen and I started a 28-day challenge to help us all get our homes ready for the holidays. The idea behind this challenge was to bite-size the process of getting our homes guest-ready before the season officially arrived.


Well, we had so much fun with it last year, and were so happy to have all that stuff out of the way before the holidays began, that we thought it would be fun to do it again. Listed below are the daily challenges along with links to the original blog post. Please note that we rearranged some of the challenges so that we weren't doing things like putting away Halloween decorations before Halloween. ;) So if you click on a link the day numbers don't correspond, that's what's going on. 


We also put together a printable with all of the challenges listed on it. You can print that out and do the challenges in any order that suits you. Just think, with a little bit of effort every day for the next 28 days, we can get our homes ready ahead of time and enjoy the holidays even more.

Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays 28 Day Challenge

Download 28 Day Challenge Printable You will need Adobe Reader to open this file.  


So what do you say—are you in this year? Let us know in the comments, and then, be sure to check back throughout the challenge to keep us posted on your progress! Good luck!


Day 1:  Decide to Join and Collect Your Supplies

Day 2:  Create a List of Trouble Spots

Day 3:  Focus on Surface Decluttering for At Least 15 Minutes Today

Day 4:  Dust Cobwebs and Clean Cold Air Returns

Day 5:  Declutter Magazines and Catalogs

Day 6:  Clean the Oven and Cook Top

Day 7:  Wash Light Fixtures and Lampshades

Day 8:  Clean Behind Your Stove and Refrigerator

Day 9:  Clean and Organize Your Fridge and Freezer

Day 10:  Clean the Trash Cans and Recycling Containers

Day 11:  Declutter Your Food Storage Containers

Day 12:  Declutter Your Halloween or Other Holiday Decorations

Day 13:  Wash the Windows

Day 14:  Dust Clocks, Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Day 15:  Declutter Disposable Party Supply Goods

Day 16:  Declutter the Guest Room

Day 17:  Deep Clean Floors

Day 18:  Clean Baseboards

Day 19:  Declutter the Family Room

Day 20:  Declutter and Organize Board Games

Day 21:  Declutter Paper

Day 22:  Set Up a Holiday Card Mini Zone

Day 23:  You Choose

Day 24:  Set Up a Quick-Clean Mini Zone in the Guest Bathroom

Day 25:  Declutter Kids’ Spaces (or Your Own “Fun” Space) 

Day 26: Declutter the Coat Closet 

Day 27: Sweep Your Entryway 

Day 28:  Declutter and Organize Your Reusable Shopping Bags


Happy Organizing!


Get Organized for the Holidays Online Workshop

October 12, 2012

Let’s Get Organized for the Weekend

Happy Friday my friends. I hope you had a terrific week. It was a good week here. I feel like I got a bunch of stuff done, both at work and at home, which feels good. And now I’m looking forward to the weekend ahead. Here’s what’s on my lists this weekend.



  • Spend Time with Kailea. We will either be driving up to Normal, IL for the State Cross Country meet to cheer on her teammates, or we will be going to watch a black belt test at her Tae Kwon Do school. Or we may try to do a bit of both—depends on the weather forecast and start time of the belt test. Either way, I’m looking forward to spending a good part of Saturday with my girl.
  • Run 3 Miles. Okay…so I mentioned in my Monday check in that I was falling behind on my 43 miles in October goal. Well…I’ve made good progress this week, logging in over 9 miles so far. If I run at least 3 miles on Saturday or Sunday, then I will once again feel like this goal is in reach. Whew.



  • Laundry. As always, right?
  • Plan weekly meals + grocery shop.
  • Organize and edit cross country photos.
  • Make progress on at least one current project. I have a bunch of options ;) and will let inspiration be my guide.
  • Send some cards. By the way, this week I finished the thank you notes that were on last weekend’s list. Yay!


I think it’s a plan. (Considering Saturday could be spoken for time-wise, I think this is plenty to do on Friday night and Sunday!) What’s on your to-do list this weekend?


Have a terrific weekend!


October 11, 2012

Home Storage Solution: The Canvas Bucket

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about a bucket. (It’s been a while since I’ve come across a blog-worthy bucket.)


But all that changed last Saturday, when I found this little bucket.


Canvas Bucket Target


She was sitting all alone in the makeup aisle at Target. 


(Not my Target, mind you. My Target sells far fewer storage solutions of any kind ever since the introduction of "banana madness". What’s banana madness? That’s my term for Target’s decision to turn every store into a grocery store. This seemed fine on paper. In fact, when they were making the transition I would excitedly exclaim “the bananas are coming!” to my family members. I was giddy about the change. I thought it would mean fewer trips to the store, because I could pick up bananas and other grocery items while out doing my Target run. But when the bananas arrived I realized the introduction of bananas (and all of the other grocery items) meant essential-to-me-items like favorite storage solutions had moved out of my Target! So now, instead of fewer trips to the store, I have to make trips to much farther away Targets when I need essential storage solutions like ITSO bins. This is exactly what I was doing when I came across the cute little canvas bucket.)


You can imagine, these days when I find storage solutions that I love at Target…I get very excited! Which is exactly what happened when I saw the canvas bucket. Since I’m not one to buy something unless I know what I’m going to use it for, I racked my brain for an excuse…I mean legitimate reason…to purchase this bucket. And then it hit me: I could use the little bucket to store my knitting stuff!


Threshold Canvas Bucket Target

I typically knit in the family room on “the big chair,” but recently I have been knitting before bed…to help me relax and fall asleep more easily. My cute little canvas bucket will make it simple to transport my knitting projects between rooms. And so the bucket hopped into my cart and we lived happily ever after. (Or at least we plan to.)


Organizing Takeaways:

1) Canvas buckets are a fun home storage solution that can be used for a variety of storage needs. Consider using them to store and corral knitting items and other craft supplies, stuffed animals, toys, laundry or dry cleaning.


2) When you’re out shopping for storage solutions, think about how you will use an item and what problem it will solve for you, before putting the item in your cart. Containers without a purpose can become a source of clutter just like any other unneeded or unused item in our homes.

3) Canvas buckets can be used for a bunch of home storage needs. They're light weight and portable, and can be found in a variety of styles and sizes. Here are a few that are catching my eye right now:


Cuffed Fabric Bin from The Container Store  

I love the colors of these but really, they had me at Reisenthel. (I love their products.) These would be fun in a kid’s room corralling small items like hair accessories, small stuffed friends, nail polish, or lotions.

Cuffed Fabric Bin Container Store

Raccoon Bucket from The Container Store  

Wouldn't this be super cute in a young child’s room storing toys or laundry, or in the nursery storing baby care items? I think yes. 

Raccoon Bucket Container Store

Crunch Can from The Container Store

These could be used throughout the house from the laundry room, to the bedroom. My daughter has a couple of these in her bedroom storing stuffed animals and we use another one as her laundry hamper.


Round Crunch Cans Container Store
Threshold Basket from Target

Target calls my beloved canvas bucket a basket. While I found mine in the makeup aisle, it didn’t belong there. I found others in the bath towel section of Target, but I couldn't find this item online. So if you're interested in this bucket, head to Target and then head to the bath towels department. 

  Threshold Canvas Basket

4) Target is still a great place to buy storage solutions, especially at the bigger stores.


5) If you're looking for other home storage ideas, check out my home storage solutions pinboard on pinterest


What do you think of canvas buckets? Are you using any in your home? And how about banana madness? Do you love having the grocery items at Target or are you missing favorite items that they no longer have space for? Thanks for sharing!


October 10, 2012

Professional Organizing Services in St. Louis

Did you know that I offer in-home professional organizing services in the St. Louis area?




Well…you’re in good company. Last summer I got a phone call from a prospective client who said “Do you still do in-home organizing services?”


“Yes, I do” I said, wondering why she was asking. We talked about my service offerings and decided my services were a good fit for her project and goals—so we booked a session.




As soon as I hung up the phone, I went straight to to take a look at the site through the eyes of prospective client. My conclusion? It was no wonder she wasn’t sure if I did services anymore! As we added new service offerings to our site—such as online workshops—the in-home services got a bit overshadowed on the site. It really wasn’t clear at all that I still do this! But here's the real irony:  I created my online workshops based on my experiences organizing with individuals in their homes and through my organizing coaching program. 


ClutterBin-320That client session laid the foundation for a few changes—changes to my website as well as changes to my service offerings. I decided to start offering service packages which will benefit my clients in a number of ways. My in-home service packages now include pdf versions of my online workshops and gift certificates for future online workshops. This means that after a client and I finish up an organizing project, the client will have a comprehensive resource guide to understand at a deeper level the process we used to organize their space. It's like I'll still be there with them even after I leave, which will make it easier to tackle future organizing projects and maintain order. This is a huge obstacle for people when they're thinking about getting organized—the worry that they'll invest time and money in the project and won't be able to keep it that way going forward. (Worry no more.)


Like before, when you work with me one-on-one via my in-home organizing services, I'll spend the time to get to know you and figure out what works for you. We'll also get to the root cause of your organizing challenges, and implement storage solutions and customized organizing systems that will make it easy to stay on top of things going forward. You'll get your projects done faster than you ever imagined possible, and we just might have some fun along the way, too. ;)


Follow this link to learn more about my St. Louis professional organizing services. (Or if you're outside of St. Louis, you can learn about my organizing coaching services.)


October 05, 2012

Let’s Organize Our Weekend Plans

Hello and happy Finish It Friday to you! I hope you had a terrific week. Are you ready to organize your plans for the weekend? Here’s my list.


  • Boot camp.
  • Go out with Jay. Dinner? Drinks? Movie? Not sure yet…
  • Knit.




  • Take the kids shopping. It’s time to get some new clothes…that fit!
  • Organizing project. I’m working on a team organizing project this weekend. It will be fun…but will definitely fill a good portion of my weekend bucket, which is why there isn't much else on my list this weekend. :)
  • Send thank you notes.
  • Plan meals for the week and shop.
  • Laundry. It's in pretty good shape at the I'll just need to do a load or two. 


I think that's it. As of the moment it's a cool, rainy Friday morning. It feels like a good weekend to get some stuff done. :) Hope you have a great weekend!


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