Sunday, January 31, 2010

#30 Are You Being Served

#30- You have arrived at the final post on the list of 30 Things in 30 Days.  Whether this is the first post you've read or the final one of the series, today's words are true beginning point for anyone on a mission to make their spaces more livable, more efficient and better organized.

Know this.  Every single thing in your home should have a purpose.  Some things like boot trays and tea kettles have a practical purpose.  Simple.  If you use them, they are serving their purpose.  Other things like antique vases and prom dresses have a sentimental purpose.  Not always simple to discern, but necessary.  If, when you see them they give you good feelings, or as you carefully pack them away to save for fun dress up and vintage costume parties you can imagine enjoying them again in the future, they are serving their purpose.  Every single thing should serve you.  You.

If it is not serving you, then you are serving it.  And IT does not care.  There are so many things in this busy life that need our time, our efforts, our service.  If you are wasting your time moving things from place to place, spending money on containers for things you don't use, losing sleep thinking about piles then you are serving your things...they are not serving you.

Maybe you've read and attempted some of the other 29 things on this list.   Every other suggestion on this list of 30 things is rooted in this concept of service.  You should live in rooms that serve you.  You should live with things that serve you.  The goal of any organizing project is to figure out what's important to you, in your life, right now...and how to have access to that, right now, when you need it.

Some people are able to live with almost no things and it serves them.  Others have so many things they spend their days in service to those things and find that they have no time for themselves.  I'm living somewhere in the middle of course.  The over sweeping point to all of this is that things are just things.  If they serve you because you like using them or you love looking at them, then keep them and they will make your life better.  But if they are not serving you then let them go.  Give them to someone they can serve.

Maybe you don't have the time or the energy today, this week, or even this month to take a look at your entire house with this kind of eyes.  But start to view every thing in your life this way and you will find time to remove the things that don't serve you.  Tomorrow morning when you're sitting at the breakfast table glance over at that piece of artwork on the wall...if you love looking at it, leave it there.  If it makes you angry, or burdened, or reminds you of something you don't want to think about...then walk over to the wall and take down that chicken picture that you hate.  It's not serving you.  Now when you walk by that wall you'll have time to feel good about your action instead of angry that its hanging there.  Next time you open the utensil drawer, think quickly about those things you have to move out of the way to get to the elusive slotted spoon.  Do they serve you or are you serving them by constantly moving them out of the way?  Use your eyes to see what's serving you and remove the things that don't.

My point.  Use things that you love.  Keep things that you use.  If it's not serving you, then you are serving it and it doesn't care.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

#29 Postponed Decisions

#29-  It's piled all over your house.  It's taking up space on your counter, the top of your dresser, the corner of the bathroom sink and the table in the foyer.  It sits on the stairs leading up to your room.  It sits on the stairs leading down to your basement.  It's in the trunk of your car and on the floor of the front seat.  It's tchochkes and papers and clothing and gifts you've received (and don't love) and mail and things with missing parts, broken bits or dead batteries.  You walk by it or trip over it or move it endlessly or pile something on top of it or scoop it all up and hide it somewhere so you don't have to look at it anymore because this stuff triggers an emotional response.  It makes you feel guilty that you haven't put it away, guilty that you spent money on it and can't use it, guilty that you don't have the time to deal with it.  It makes you feel burdened because every time you walk by it part of your motivation erodes, just looking at it wears you down.  Sometimes it even starts a fight.

Clutter.  Amazing how we give something so simple, so much power.  You may not be able to completely rid yourself of clutter and eliminate every single pile, but you can change how you deal with it and how you think about it.  Clutter is simply, postponed decisions.  It is the object connected with a choice you'll need to make, but you put it on a shelf while you decide what to do with it.  If you can begin to think about clutter in this way, you can begin to let go of some of the emotion.  Decisions get postponed for lots of reasons. Sometimes we simply don't have the time on that day, other times the decisions are bigger, take a greater emotional effort, but that's still all they are...decisions.

My point.  In one small area of your life, can you stop putting your unmade decisions on a shelf?  Can you begin to think about those objects that erode you and start living with the power of a decision made and not a decision put off for another day.  Clutter is postponed decisions.  If it doesn't do just sits there.

Friday, January 29, 2010

#28 Keep It Where You Use It

#28- It's a simple idea that's actually very easy to long as you keep an open mind.  You house is made up of rooms that look different from everyone

Keep the things that you use on a regular basis in the places where YOU use them.  If you always sit at the dining room table to pay bills then keep the stamps and the envelopes in a drawer in the dining room.  Stop getting up from your task to go get something from your desk, that you keep there because somebody told you that's where you're supposed to keep that kind of stuff.  If you always grill on the back porch, store your grill tools out there so you can grab them when you need them and stop cramming them into a kitchen drawer.  If you sort mail and other paper on the couch, your file cabinet or Family Encyclopedia (and the hole punch) need to be near the couch.  If your children are always halted in their attempt to put on shoes because they have to run back upstairs and get socks, then start keeping the socks in the foyer...really.  You're allowed to do that!

Walk through your house and take at look at the piles of stuff.  Ask yourself some questions about that stuff.  Is it there because you got it out to use it and its still there because its home is too far away from where it gets used?  Is it a project piled there because the tools you need to complete it are in some other room and you didn't have time to go there and complete the job?  As you move through your week, take a close look at where you do things.  Make sure all the tools you need for your regular tasks are located in the room where you work.

My point.  Make mindful decisions about where to keep things.  Just because the rest of the world keeps their stamps in the desk drawer does not mean that you must.  Keep it where you use it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

#27 Color Me Happy

#27-I've been suggesting lots of places to put your stuff over the last few weeks as I moved through the list of 30 Things in 30 Days.  Boxes, bins, baskets, binders, blahblahblah.  Choose what works for you or skip them all in favor of glass jars, tyvek bags or wire containers.  My over sweeping point about containers is always that every thing in your life should have a home, and all the people in your life should know where that home is.  People often ask me about labels for these containers, and labels are a very personal decision, they can be very helpful but they can also make people feel like their home has turned into an overly anal office supply store...not good.

Today's idea is intended to nudge you in the direction of labels, but not have you rushing out to buy the newest product available from the label printing people.  Research has proved that learning to divide things by color streamlines the time it takes to make decisions and sort information.  Using color can help a busy family with everything from schedules on the calendar to toys to hats and gloves.

Assign each member of your family a different color.  Use as many as you need, enlist their help in the selection of hue if they are able, and don't assign black to anyone (if you can possibly help it.)  Once everyone, including the adults, has solidly taken ownership of this color, you can begin to use it to help you organize.  Use a different color pencil or marker when filling in dates for each person on your master calendar and with a simple glance you can see who has events concentrated on which days and during what times of the day.  Not assigning black to any single family member allows you to use it for family events where multiple people are included or generic events that are not specific to any single person.  Use a folder, a binder (or a colored tab in the binder), or a tray in each person's color to hold important paperwork, homework or small items like library books/cards.  Use a ribbon, card, sticker or some other indicator on baskets, drawers and shelves to assign each person their own place for toys, seasonal gear, and other items. 

You could take this color theme as far as you want to.  I have a client with a house full of kids who uses color to help her shop for winter gear.  She has children close in age and therefore close in size and was always breaking up squabbles over "That's my hat!  No it's my scarf!"  So now she always buys a red hat/scarf/glove/boot combo for kid #1, blue for kid #2, purple for kid get the point...this list goes up to kid #7.  She has found that the time she regained now that even the littlest ones know which items are theirs far out weighs the few dollars she would have saved by passing outerwear down from kid to kid as they out grew things.  It was life changing for her but maybe you don't want to go this far.

My point.  If you're not ready for labels, maybe you're ready for colors.  You can be extreme or proceed with caution and just use this idea on your calendar, but get some color.  Its looks good on everyone.   

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

#26 The Encyclopedia of Your Life

#26-Paper paper everywhere!  We are adrift on a sea of paperwork, and just when you're sure you've sorted the last piece, filed the last statement, and shredded the final bill stub...the damn mail carrier comes to the door with another pile of it, or the kids comes home and dumps the backpack...sigh.  Much of it, you can get rid of, but some of that paper needs to be kept and today's tip is about what to do with some of the keepers.

Some paper we keep and we never plan to touch it again, but if we throw it away, we're in trouble.  Some paper we keep and we only need to review it once in awhile, maybe once a month, or a few times a year.  Other pieces of paper, we touch weekly, daily, or even several times a day.  This high frequency paperwork needs to be at your fingertips, and is appropriately named, FingerTip Files.  Get yourself a 3-ring binder and start building your Encyclopedia of Life.  Get a tab for each family member, and tabs for other sections that are important to your family's life.  Go through that stack of important paper on your counter and see if it contains things like take-out menus you use all the time, school lunch menus and newsletters, recycling calendars, class phone lists, phone numbers for neighbors, doctors, dog-sitters, etc.  Any piece of paper you find yourself touching on a regular basis should be included in this book.  Under the tab for each family member you might also want to include things like insurance cards, social security numbers, immunization records and any other critical health paperwork.

On the front of this binder print, in large type, the street number of your house, the home phone number and the cell numbers of every family member with a phone.  Here's why...911 researchers report that the most frequent single thing that causes delays in emergency personnel getting to you in a crisis is that when people are panicked they can't remember their own house and phone numbers to tell to the dispatcher.  When the system works properly, the 911 people can tell who you are from their caller ID, but the system doesn't always work perfectly and if you're having trouble, or the babysitter can't remember, but you know to look on your binder, you'll have the information you need. 

A binder works great because there is a finite amount of space, so when it gets full, you have to take stock of what's in there and purge some of the outdated stuff to make room for the new stuff.  When the updated take-out menu arrives, toss the old one.  When the new month's lunch calendar comes, recycle last month's.  When the new shot record comes, shred the expired one.  Just like an actual encyclopedia, a new version comes out regularly to keep up with the current information.

My point.  Get a binder.  Get a hole puncher and keep it next to your binder.  Regain some space on your counter and embrace the Encyclopedia of your Life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

#25 High Marks

#25-  The tip today is more of an "I had never thought of using that tool in quite that way before."  Will is change your life?  No, probably not...but then never know.  Dry erase markers are not just for dry erase boards anymore.  Any non-porous surface can be re-appropriated as a place to leave messages, make lists, take notes, or share ideas.  Glass doors, bathroom and hallway mirrors, microwave (if its light in color) doors, car windows, shower doors and walls, the underside of the toilet seat lid and hundreds of other smooth surfaces turn out to be great places to leave a thought.

One of my favorites uses of this high tech writing device is our revolving "to-do" list that goes on the white glass door of our microwave.  The list is always there for anyone, read: husband, to see and it is very satisfying to swipe off an item after it has been completed.  I also leave messages for children, husband and guests on the bathroom mirrors (and a spare black dry erase marker can be found in every bathroom of our home.)  There's no reason to discuss the messages that get left on the inside of our master bedroom shower...sorry Dad.  Notes on the glass door can remind kids to close the door, wipe their feet, or bring their bikes in before they finish playing.  I keep a marker in my car to write directions on the driver's side window: I60 North, Exit 34 turn Left, 4th house on Right.  I don't have to fiddle with scraps of paper that always seem to get dropped and simply putting the window down and back up, wipes away the evidence.

My point.  Sometimes using an old tool in a new way can simplify your life.  Go buy a pack of wide tip, black dry erase markers and get writing!

Monday, January 25, 2010

#24 Many Happy Returns

#24-Just like yesterday's tip from the 30 Things list, today I'm thinking inside the box.  Keep a basket in the car to hold all of the things that do not belong in your home and are on their way to some other location.  Make this basket their designated living space until they can be returned to their owners this way you'll have a prayer of having these items with you on the random day when you have a sleeping kid in your car and you have a few extra minutes to return things like library books, borrowed plates, dvd rentals, hand me downs, retail returns/receipts.  It also makes sense to keep things like coupons and vouchers in this basket.  You cannot save 20% at Bed, Bath and Beyond if the coupon is at home.

The trick to getting this basket to work for you is giving it a name.  We call ours the "Many Happy Returns Basket".  I call it that.  The kids call it that.  It always lives in the same place in my car.  The result of this consistent message is that when I have something that needs to go in it, I can simply say to one of my people (even the 3 year old) "Go stick this in the Many Happy Returns Basket," and she knows exactly where to put it.  I don't have to do it, explain to her how to do it or where to put it, it doesn't end up in a pile by the door that causes a walking hazard and I get to spend those minutes I would have spent taking it out to the car, doing something else.

My point.  Once again.  Think inside the box!  I'm trying to return minutes to your day by helping you get your people to work for you!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

#23 The OutBox

#23-The going out the door basket is for when you're pushing the Restart Button, cleaning a room or moving things up and down the stairs.  It's a simple concept really but not always easy to do.  When you're working on a room and you find something that belongs in another room DO NOT LEAVE!  You'll get distracted on the way, you'll get distracted when you're in there and you'll waste steps all day going back and forth between your spaces making many unhappy returns.  Start every room straightening project with some sort of container placed at the exit and fill that container with everything that goes out, even the trash.  Do not skip this step.  Do not fill your outbox with other things during the week so it's not available when you need it.  Do not let your 6 year old take your cute pink outbox and make a bed for her Girl doll. 

My point.  Sometimes you have to think inside the box!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

#22 Get Some Social Security

#22- If you must carry the Social Security numbers of your family in your wallet then do this.

Let's just say the list in your wallet currently looks like this:
Dad 123-45-6789
Mom 123-45-6789
Kid 123-45-6789

Change it to this:
Dog Sitter (123)456-7890
Midtown Train (123)456-7890
Kitchen Store (123)456-7890

Choose random locations or people with the same first letter as the person whose SS# you need to remember.  Like the first example the 'D' is for Dad's SS# and Dog Sitter.  Place the first three digits of the SS# in parentheses like a phone number and add a zero or another randomly assigned number to the end of the SS# and the list looks like a bunch of phone numbers.  If someone steals your wallet they won't realize what a precious list of identity killing numbers they have their hands on and will probably toss them aside in favor of other items.

My point.  I hope your wallet never gets stolen, but if it does, don't deliver your identity to the criminals on a silver platter.

Friday, January 22, 2010

#21 Make It Seasonal

#21-Today's tip is a simple suggestion for those of you who store seasonal clothing and rotate your closets.  Save money buying bins and shelf space storing them by having containers that are marked "Seasonal Storage" instead of "Summer" and "Winter".  It's a waste of space to have an empty container in your garage or storage room all Winter that is waiting for cold weather gear to once again fill it when warm sunny days return.  Use a seasonal bin to store whichever clothing or gear is out of season then empty and refill it when you rotate your closets.  As we freeze to death here in the Middle these days, our Seasonal Bins hold beach towels, swim goggles, bathing suits, and summer clothing.  When I'm ready for that stuff I'll fill those bins with snow pants, boots and sweaters.

My point.  Save space.  Save money.  Save time.  A bin that's empty for 6 months of the year is not helping you stay organized.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

#20 The Fight Box

#20-Again, the 30 Things List allows me to give you another suggestion on where to put stuff.  Part parenting technique, part clutter controller the Fight Box can be your best friend when breaking up squabbles over toys.  Multiple times a week I used to find myself taking a toy away from a pair of children in a death struggle over who got to play with it.  I'd find these confiscated toys high on shelves, in the kitchen window, perched on the upper ledges of my cabinets, on top of the entertainment center, on the dresser in my bedroom, and generally cluttering up my home while they waited for the heat of the moment to pass.  Then, we got a Fight Box.  It's an medium sized, opaque bin that I keep in the laundry room on a high shelf.  When I hear a toy quarrel approaching the point where I need to intervene, (usually I wait until the last minute because my hope is they'll work it out without me) I shout out my single warning, "Work it out or it's going in the Fight Box!"  Toys that land in the Fight Box are only returned to the collective once a month.  On the last day of the month we empty the box and they are thrilled to have their things back.

My point.  The Fight Box, which simply started out as a place to store all that confiscated junk that was perched around my house out of reach of my little people, has become the final warning that works magic on my children's ability to find a solution to a toy disagreement for fear of losing possession of something for weeks at a time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

#19 Zone Defense in the Toy Room

#19- Children are not born with the knowledge of how to clean their rooms.  You will need to demonstrate how it's done many times, you will be required to set up spaces they are physically capable of cleaning, and you will have to use several styles of toy defense when protecting your home from a full frontal attack of primary colored plastic.  For toys, I recommend Zone Defense, and by that I mean, different types of toys should have different locations in your home.  Consider how adults store the items they use for entertainment.  It would not be practical to store the video game console and all of the component parts, the stack of cooking magazines, the supplies for making beaded jewelry, the pedicure supplies and my book club book all in the same cabinet.  Those are the supplies I need to do some of my favorite activities, but I do them in different spaces all over my home, so I store them in different locations.

This can be true for your child and their toys.  If you are able to designate different spaces for different types of toys, it makes storage, clean-up and even playtime simpler.  My oldest stores her "Girl" doll with its furniture, shoes, clothing and accessories in her bedroom.  We keep the dress-up clothes and the play kitchen in the playroom.  The stuffed animals live in the bedroom my little ones share and the trains and blocks are in the basement TV room.  Does this mean they are only allowed to play with these toys in their designated spot?  No, but that's usually what happens.  Do I freak out when the "Girl" doll visits the basement to have a tower of blocks constructed around her?  No, but when playtime is over she is returned to her home in the bedroom.  Zone Defense can be applied to toys.

Setting up the space is also critical to getting help defending your home from the toy attack.  When assigning homes for toys that are not in use, have the user of this toy take a tour of the space with you and reach up as high as they can.  Don't store anything above this height that you expect the child to be able to put away without assistance.  When choosing containers to store blocks, action figures, dress-up, and any sort of toy that comes in piles or bunches, make sure the container is 25% larger than the items you intend to store in it.  This makes it easy for kids to scoop things up and throw them in the container.  If it's not easy, they won't do it.  Extra room in containers also gives you space to toss in those extra toys that are not in their designated location but have traveled into the space and simply need to be picked up at the end of the day.

Finally, once a month, or more regularly if you are an organizer, have a frequently visiting mother in law, or you find that the toys in your home are migrating too often, do something I like to call "Pushing the Restart Button."  This is not cleaning.  It does not involve the vacuum or a bottle of glass cleaner.  It simply means taking 10 minutes or less, but never more than that (If its taking you more than 10 minutes to complete this task you should be doing it more regularly) and return everything to its home.  We dump almost everything out of the containers and pull out the items that belong someplace else.  Don't take them there in the middle of pushing the restart button, you'll get distracted and never return, just make a pile by the door, or toss them into a basket for transporting them to their homes when you're finished.  This is also a good time to pull out a toy or two that isn't getting played with and can help you keep a handle on the sheer volume of playthings your people have.

My point.  Toys can have zones.  Zones should have spaces set up for the size of the people playing in them and containers that are adequate for holding their contents.  Pushing the restart button is not cleaning, but it may keep you from having to shut down. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

#18 One of a Kind

#18-At just past the halfway point of this list of 30 Things in 30 Days  and feeling like you all are going to get sick of reading this stuff and wonder when I'm going to get back to just being me I'm reduced to talking about socks and how this series of posts really is me being me.  I'm kind of bothered by this, but then kind of not, because I must admit I do keep my label maker plugged in (to a power strip in the off position of course, I do have those damn polar bears and their shrinking ice cap to think about) so I'm ready to slap a sticker on something at a moments notice, it's true that I like making the grocery list better than doing the shopping and I have made a science out of folding fitted sheets so well you'd think they were pillowcases.  Sick.  I know.  What can I say?  I'm nuts, but I digress.

Socks.  If they make you crazy, or if matching them up takes forever, or if you have such a huge pile of mismatches that you have pain about the sock loss in your life, then start buying all one kind for your people.  If someone in your life wears white tube socks but has 4 different styles and 6 of each kind and you can never find the correct ones to go together...donate the best matches and start over with all one kind of sock.  Buy extra of the same type and stash them in the laundry room or the top of the closet so you can add in new socks to the rotation occasionally without having to go on a quest searching for the same style again. 

This works for little people too...provided you can sell them on the idea that white socks go with everything, which is not always possible.  In this case, and if the socks in your life don't make you nuts, move on to some other area of chaos that needs your attention like sippy cups of 4 different styles which should be narrowed down to one style where every lid matches every plug which fits on every base so you don't have to search through a huge pile of molded plastic covered with cartoon characters every time someone cries out for juice...again, I digress, sorry.  Back to socks.  We have three sizes of little socks in our house, but each size is all one style.  It's easy to match them up, losing one doesn't necessarily render an entire pair unusable, and I don't have to check sizes so carefully when putting them in dresser drawers.  We know which style fits which kid so there is very little confusion about whose socks are whose.

My point.  Here is another area of your life where you are forced to deal with multiples of something on a daily basis.  Limiting your choices a bit, may make your life simpler and give you back just a few of those minutes we're all looking for.

Monday, January 18, 2010

#17 Pairs Without Partners

#17-Don't look for lost socks.  Put some type of container in the laundry room to hold the singles that come out of the the dryer all alone and sad.  Make a cute label that says "Pairs Without Partners" to make both you and the sock feel better about your inability to keep them together for this time in your lives.  Let them wait there for a month or a season, as long as you can stand it, but not forever, waiting for their partner to return and if after a period they are determined to remain single don't punish them by continuing to call them socks.  Socks come in pairs and you are torturing yourself and the single sock by continuing to refer to it as such.  Take it our of the "PWOP" basket and give it a new life as a "child-sized dusting cloth" and keep it with your cleaning supplies or a "halogen light bulb grasping device" and store it with your light bulbs or a "specialized car wax buffing glove" and put it in the garage.

My point.  Once a sock loses its partner for good it is no longer a sock, don't treat it as such.  Let it go and move on.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

#16 Go Get Dressed

#16-  When you tell your kids to go get dressed are you afraid of what they'll put on?  Do you cringe when the Father gets them dressed?  Try this.  When you're putting away clothing for your small people, match up the outfits and put them in the drawers all folded together.  Pants, shirt, sweater all folded together and placed in the drawer.  If you have a teeny fashionista who insists on matching up her own clothes, you can get her involved right from the beginning while you're matching up the clean laundry to go into the drawers.  

Use the drawers to sort outfits by purpose instead of putting all the pants in one drawer and all the shirts in another drawer.  Put all the matched school clothes in one drawer.  Put all the matched play clothes in another drawer.  Put all the matched Sunday outfits in another drawer.  Go crazy and get some labels if you think that will help you sell it to your kids.  Hear yourself saying, "Go pick something from the school/play/Sunday drawer." and being satisfied with whatever they come out in because you have already assembled it.

My point.  Kids, and their well meaning fathers, have a better grasp on activities than they do appropriate fashion choices.  Take some extra time on the front end when you're putting the laundry away, save yourself the hassle of fighting with them over changing their clothes and just say, "Go get dressed!"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

#15 The Art of the Matter

#15-You cannot possibly save every single piece of artwork that your little Picasso brings home so don't even try.  Dealing with the onslaught of paintings, sculptures, drawings, mixed media collages and other precious creations requires a multi-layered approach.  I have a rubric for getting that artwork from the backpack to the memory box that will save you time and space, and get you some help making decisions about what stays and what goes.

First, assign a space in your home and call it the gallery.  Make a big deal out of the naming of this wall.  Get a fancy plaque or some kind of sign that designates the space.  Paint a large faux frame on the wall or buy a huge empty picture frame at the art supply store (Framing galleries usually have a clearance box of frames that are slightly damaged or didn't fit the artwork properly.)  This is where the newest pieces of artwork should be hung.  Use sticky tack so you won't mess up your walls.  We make a big deal out of adding new things to the gallery weekly and including The Gallery on a tour when somebody new visits our home.  The trick to this first step working, is that your gallery has a defined space, and only so much stuff will fit in it.  So when a new piece is deemed worthy of a place in the gallery, something older must come down.  This is a working artist's display gallery, not a museum.  The collection is continually rotating.

Second, when something comes down it goes into a large, flat, underbed storage bin (I have one for each child) which they store under their beds.  We do not make final decisions about what stays forever at this point.  Everything goes in.  Periodically, when the bin starts to get full, we go through and select a few pieces to send off to relatives.  At the holidays and birthday time, they use large pieces as wrapping paper.  They keep their favorites in the bins, space permitting of course.  I also go through the collection and take out one or two of my favorites from each stage to save in their special memory boxes.  The rest, we let go.  This is difficult at first, but they have learned to do it because even at ages 6 and 3, they are beginning to understand that after some time passes, some pieces are simply more special than others.

For the large sculptures and items that cannot be a part of a wall gallery and become increasingly difficult to store, I suggest dated photos.  We have a dry erase board that hangs next to our gallery and when something large comes home, I write the date on the board and have the kid hold the masterpiece so I can take a picture of the the cute toothless kid and the mixed media sculpture representing a telephone.  We put the image into the rotating collection of images on our computer's screen saver, or print out the picture and hang it in the gallery.

My point.  You have got to learn to be an art collector and an art critic when it comes to Junior's body of work.  Help them to see that their art can be enjoyed in many different ways, showcased for a limited time in your gallery and then properly stored for posterity.  You can make it special, but you're going to have to throw some of it away eventually.  Trust me, your child's future spouse will thank you for not delivering 30 bins of artwork to their first home.

Friday, January 15, 2010

#14 The JUICE Box

#14-Juice boxes.  The bane of my existence.  The nightmare of all mother's of young children.  The creation of some childless soul who doesn't understand every kid's need to squeeze things thus ending up in tears with a apple juice soaked t-shirt and crying that he is thirsty.

No.  Not that kind of juice box.  J.U.I.C.E.  Just Unused Inputs Cords and Electricals (And yes, I realize that electricals is not actually a word but I needed something that began with E.)  This box is where you house all of those cords.  The adapters and chargers that you can't throw away because you're not sure what they go to...they go in here.  The extension cords, the three way plugs, the extra length of phone cord and the timer for the Christmas tree that you forgot to put with the holiday decor....they go in here.  Get a medium sized bin, slap a label on it that says JUICE, put the spaghetti mess of cords in it and sit back with a look of smug satisfaction the next time your people ask you where to find the missing cord.  Simply wave your hand in the direction of your new storage solution and say, "It's in the JUICE box dear."

My point.  Rethink your hatred of juice boxes.  Know that they can work for you instead of against you.  Give your cords a home of their own by thinking inside the box.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

#13 The BOOM Box

#13- What do you do with the puzzle piece you found under the couch, the eye that fell off the teddy bear, the holiday ornament that you found behind the entertainment center and have no intention of going out to the garage to put away with the rest of the decor, and the pieces of the china tea cup that you need to superglue back together?  Answer.  Put them in the BOOM box.  Get a small bin, slap a label on it that reads BOOM and put it somewhere that you'll have easy access to it.

The letters in BOOM box stand for Broken Odd Or Missing and that's exactly the kind of stuff that should be stored in your home's BOOM box.  That stuff that clutters up your kitchen window sill, finds its way into your junk drawer, or takes up some other space that should be used for more immediate projects; put it in the BOOM box.  The BOOM box does not just have to be the storage space for the broken and misplaced.  Those odd items that you know you'll need someday but you're not sure where to store...they go in this box.  Among other things, our family's BOOM box is the permanent location of a whistle, a bag of tiny drink umbrellas and an EZ Pass for the New Jersey Turnpike.   

My point.  Sometimes you have to think inside the box to be successful at organizing your space.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

#12 Don't Let This One Creep Up on You

#12-Yesterday's post was long, but necessary.  So continuing with the theme of healthy clothing, today's item on the 30 Things list is short and sweet.  Get up from the computer right now and throw away that pair of underwear.  Now.

My point.  Well, if you have that pair, you already know the point!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

#11 Everything has a Shelf Life

#11-Some of the storage areas in our home get a lot of traffic.  They are used multiple times a day for storing and retrieving things. These areas need to be highly efficient. Think about your refrigerator. This is one of the most frequently used storage spaces in your home and if you’ve never thought of your refrigerator as a storage space before…you need to start now!  Most of us are so good about managing the items in our fridge.  We toss the old and replace it with the new. When dealing with food items, it's simple to decide what needs to stay and what has to go. If you open up a container and the foul smell knocks you out because food item has spoiled, you toss it. Simple. It wouldn’t be healthy to put it back in the fridge. If you cook something and it doesn’t turn out well or you didn’t enjoy eating it, you throw it out. It wouldn’t make sense to pack it up and make space for it in the fridge. If the milk container gets a hole in it, you wouldn’t let it leak all over, you would fix it before placing it back inside. Simple. Ideally your refrigerator is filled with good food, that has not passed its shelf life, that you enjoy eating.

So, would you eat what’s in your closet? Closets of all kinds, especially clothes closets, are another area of our homes that need to function efficiently at all times. We go in and out of them many times a day and they need to be filled with things that meet our needs. The refrigerator analogy works so well for thinking about closets because we are smart about the stuff in the fridge. When we find an item in the fridge that’s not healthy, we throw it away but when it comes to our closets we get weak.  We forget about the rules of making healthy decisions. Does it fit me? Is there a hole in it? Do I even like the way it looks?  Is it still in style? Healthy decisions about clothing are about what’s good for your mind and your spirit. Spoiled food makes you sick, but staring at a closet full of clothing that has passed its shelf life makes you feel guilty, self conscious about your body, rushed and frustrated. That’s just as unhealthy as eating spoiled food.

Why is it so easy to throw away wilted lettuce and so difficult to let go of the unflattering green cardigan? Part of it can be that the lettuce cost about $2 and that sweater might have been a big purchase. The investment of time and money we spent on that sweater brings guilt and we force ourselves to hold on to it for the wrong reasons. If it looks great on you and it serves your needs, it should be hanging there. If not, it should be tossed with the wilted lettuce.  We fix the leaky milk container before returning it to the fridge but let the skirt with the torn hem hang there for months with no attention. The potential mess is easy to see when it’s the milk container that has a hole. It's not so simple to see the mess caused by a torn skirt hanging there week after week. The damage is two-fold. You are wasting your valuable time passing over that skirt every week.  It takes time to pull it out, realize its torn and hang it back up. Those moments add up and you have better things to do with your time. Leaving it there might also cause you to feel ashamed or burdened by the fact that you haven’t gotten around to fixing it. Let these feeling go. Toss them out, they’re not healthy. Fix the rips or get rid of the clothes.

My point.  Why is it so simple to read the expiration date on the yogurt and toss it when it gets old, but those acid washed jeans and that blazer with the huge shoulder pads continue to hang in our closets long after they have passed their prime? Don’t you wish clothing came with an expiration date printed right on the label?  The most important thing about healthy clothing, is holding on to things that make you feel good. If you reach for it over and over again, if you put it on and tell yourself you feel great and if it serves a need in your current life then it should stay. If not, it should go. It’s not healthy for your mind and your spirit to let it take up space in your closet.  So, would YOU eat what’s in YOUR closet? Are you holding on to things that are past their expiration date? Do you have items in your closet that are unhealthy? Feed your spirit with the same healthy stuff that feeds you body. If it is past its shelf life, let it go. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

#10 Your Bedroom is Not a Tropical Destination

#10- Is your bedroom as a storage facility for those items you're taking to Someday Isle?  Take a visual tour of the space where you rest and renew.  Think hard about the clutter on your dresser, the pile on your nightstand, the items stashed under your bed, the pile in front of the bi-fold closet doors that keeps them from opening properly and hanging stuff ditched behind the door.  Did that moment of clarity include thoughts like "Someday Isle return that thing to the store."  Or maybe "Someday Isle finish that needlepoint/knitting/quilting project."  Do you pile books and magazines by your bed with the idea that "Someday Isle get around to reading those."  Yeah?  Well stop.  Stop storing things for what you'll eventually get around to doing and live in a space that serves your needs today.  Take a few minutes each day to remove an item slated for Someday Isle and relocate it to another storage facility. 

Most people wouldn't consider stacking their large pieces of luggage in the corner of their bedroom as a monument to the vacation they are planning to take in a few months.  We keep our luggage in a place that's easy to get to when we need it, but that doesn't get in the way of our daily lives.  Do that for your Someday Isle items.  Don't hear me saying throw away your unfinished projects, forget about making retail returns and don't bother collecting wonderful things to read.  That's not what I'm saying.  Do that.  Do a lot of those things.  Just don't store them in your bedroom if they are not giving you pleasure today.

My point.  You can actually increase the usable square footage of your bedroom by treating it like a bedroom and not a storage unit.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

#9 Contain Yourself

#9- Today's thought on how 30 Things in 30 days might make you a bit more organized is one final big idea for your kitchen.  If you have your plasticware under control, stop reading now.  This post is not for you.  However, if the scramble for a container in which to place leftovers, tote-able lunches and homemade sauces regularly involves falling towers of recyclables, swearing over bowls without matching lids and a large pile of containers that must be completely removed from their home and then completely returned before progress can be made, then this idea will change your life.  Consider buying all one size plastic storage containers.  All one size.  Every lid fits every bowl, every top fits every bottom.  When you break a single lid, the bowl does not become useless, you can just use a lid from another one.  When you stain one container with too much tapenade, you can toss it and use another one that fits the same lid.

The image above should not be viewed as an endorsement for Ziploc, although this type of container is what we use in our home, you can achieve this goal by purchasing a single size of container from any number of retailers or brands.  I suggest that you focus on a 2 or 4 cup size as your universal container.  "But what if I have 12 cups of chili leftover?" you ask.  Who said you have to have a 12 cup storage container to hold all of it at once?  Get over it!  It is just as easy to put it in three 4 cup containers that will stack neatly in the leftover zone of your refrigerator.

With multiple containers of the same size they will all nest neatly in your designated plasticware location, the lids will  stack calmly and the 'Toppling Tower of Terror's' reign will end once and for all.  If you're not sure of where to store plasticware in the first place, consider getting a small laundry basket or tub of some kind that will fit into a lower kitchen cabinet and toss it all in there.  The basket will function like a large drawer, you can slide it out when you need to grab something and the containers will no longer spill out whenever you open the cupboard door.

My point.  Here is another place where having fewer choices makes your life easier.  You gain back minutes that you used to waste sweating over containers for leftovers and you'll barely be able to contain yourself!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

#8 End Surface Abuse Now

#8-People of the world hear this!  The time has come to end all kinds of abuse.  Look inward at your needs in the kitchen and then turn your gaze outward towards your counter tops and see if you are an abuser!  Kitchen counter space is prime real estate.  Like a lot in Beverly Hills or a corner in Manhattan, nobody buys one just so they can store a huge stack of bricks on it.  The same is true for the counters in your kitchen.  If space is at a premium in your kitchen, do not store items on the counters unless you use them every single week.  Every.  Single.  Week.  If you don't use it daily or very, very often it belongs someplace else in your home.  That might mean inside the cabinet.  That might mean in the laundry room where you can grab it once a month when you need it.  That might mean the tree shaped jello mold that is propped against the backsplash and is only used twice a year should be stored in the garage with the other seasonal items.  There is no rule that says every kitchen appliance that you own must be stored in the kitchen.  If you have an empty shelf in the guest bathroom, you can store your crockpot there.  If you have space under your bed, you can stash seldom used cookie sheets in a plastic bag.  There are no rules.

My point.  Surface abuse happens when appliances, dishes and other items prevent counters from fulfilling their dreams of being functional work spaces for people in their kitchens.  If you don't use it weekly or very, very often, it's abusing your surface and not serving your needs.

Friday, January 8, 2010

#7 Get in the Zone

#7- All organized spaces have zones.  Think of a Kindergarten classroom.  There is a reading area, an art area, a play area, a math center, etc.  Everyone knows where things belong and where to go when they're looking for a certain type of item.  Also when you take something out of its place, there is an empty space left waiting for that item to be returned.  One trick to keeping your refrigerator organized, waste less food and make assembling a grocery faster and simpler is to assign zones for certain types of foods.  Most refrigerators already do some of this for you by labeling veggie and meat drawers.  Some have cheese drawers, butter keepers and assigned spaces for eggs or cans of soda but you can take it one step further by designating a specific shelf for all leftovers, prepacked lunches or snack foods.  This way your people will know where to look for the things that need to be consumed first, you'll have fewer spaces to sort through for food that is past its prime and there is less chance of items in small containers getting lost and funky behind larger bottles and jugs. 

Know this.  Your people will not automatically put food in its assigned place, but neither does a 5 year old on the first day of Kindergarten.  Once you start your system, don't keep it a secret from your people.  You must tell them where the ketchup is and where to put it when they're finished or you'll get comments like, "Mom, I didn't put it away because I didn't know where it went." or "Mom, I left it out because you're the only one who knows how to put it away correctly." You'll have to do this several times, but as long as you keep it consistent they will learn where to put stuff and where to look for it when they need it.  The teacher doesn't move the reading center every week.  Don't keep moving the yogurt or your people will keep asking you where it is.  Get a system, but don't make it a secret system.

My point.  Having zones in the refrigerator cuts minutes off the time you spend looking for things, minutes off the time you spend telling other people where to look for things, and minutes off the time you spend throwing away things that got lost and furry in the back of the fridge.  These are minutes you can use for something else.  And everyone could use a few extra minutes.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

#6 Get It Together

#6-In the kitchen, group the food items in your cabinets by how YOU use them and not necessarily by what they are.  It might make the most sense for you to group your baking spices together and keep them separate from all of the other cooking spices.  Baby food comes in a glass jar but it might not make sense to keep it with the other items your store in glass jars like fruit or pasta sauce.  Put all the baby food together, whether it's a cracker or peaches in a jar and you'll end up saving time when you're looking for things to give that kid.  If you're so far past the baby stage that those last two sentences both scared and confused you then maybe you should be thinking about Foodie food.  It is most efficient to group ingredients by ethic cooking needs instead of by type.  For example, in my pantry, I have rice noodles and lasagna noodles, but they are not stored together.  I keep my rice noodles with other Asian cuisine items like brown rice and chili sauce and the lasagna noodles on a separate shelf with risotto rice and Italian sauces.  My dad likes to make fun of my Mexican zone which houses things like black beans, salsas and peppers.  The same is true for canned goods.  It is not always efficient to store them all together as a group.  Diced tomatoes, creamed corn and artichokes are not used the same way so it may make more sense for you to store them with their component ingredients so you'll know which items are missing when you are ready to prepare a dish.  You'll also save time hunting through your cabinets.  The only time I ever use roasted red peppers in a bottle is when I make hummus, so in my pantry you'll always find the peppers next to the garbanzo beans. 

My point.  When you're deciding how to group items in your cabinets, store them based on how you use them not by the type of food that they are.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

#5-The Urge to Purge

Number 5 on the 30 Things list is an opportunity to purge that comes in the form of 5 simple kitchen questions.  Just because the questions are simple does not the mean the answers are easy, but they are certainly worth thinking about.

How many plastic shopping bags can you possibly use?  Even if you are a professional dog walker and are daily faced with the task of picking up 10 piles of poo as you saunter down the city streets.  Seriously.  Can you let some of them go?

Do you regularly serve 10 people coffee in the morning?  No?  Then why do you need 10 mugs in the cabinet?  Could you cut it down to 4?  6?

Why do you have so many spatulas when you always reach for the same one?  Be honest, you know you have passed over a clean one you don't like and taken the time to wash the dirty one that works better?  Can you let go of the ones you don't use.

Do you have cookbooks you don't open?  Do you hold on to one book because it has a single recipe in it that you use?  Who told you it was wrong to rip out that single page and let the rest of the book go?  It's your book!  Rip it out!  Put it in a binder and move on with all of your newly found shelf space.

How many free plastic cups can you possibly fit in your dishwasher?  Can you keep that many and let the rest of them go?

My point.  Sometimes we keep stuff just because its always been there without really thinking about why its there or if we even use it.  Be mindful about your choices in the kitchen and you'll instantly find yourself with a bit more space.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

#4 Justin Case

#4-Take a quick look around your bathroom counter, the ledges in your shower or tub and the contents of your medicine cabinet.  All that stuff you see there...those bottles, and tubes, and tubs, and pots, and boxes.  Is it there for you or for Justin Case?  You know Justin right?  "Justin Case I might need this special cream."  Or "Justin Case I might completely change my coloring and this red lipstick I got for free in my Clinique bonus suddenly starts looking good on me."  Or "Justin Case I remember to bring the scissors in here and cut open this bottle of lotion/shampoo/toothpaste so I can get at the tiny little bit left in the bottom."

NewsFlash!!!  Unless your name is Justin Case, stop saving that stuff.  If you haven't used it yet, you probably won't.  If you didn't like it then, you probably won't ever.  Lipstick that didn't look good once will continue to not look good on you.  That last drip of lotion in the bottom of the bottle will continue to be impossible to reach.  Give yourself permission to let some of that stuff go.  Keep what you use daily out on the counter.  Keep what you're sure you'll use often stashed under the counters.  And the stuff that's for Justin Case, donate the unused stuff or toss it out.

My point.  Bathroom real estate is very valuable.  If you're littering yours with junk that isn't yours, the value of your property will go way down.  Use what you love.  Keep what you use.  Love where you live...or at least where you bathe. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

#3 Get Hooked

#3-Since we're already in the bathroom with this list of 30 things in 30 days I thought I'd drop one more gem on you about towels because if you're anything like me you've picked up a few dropped towels in your lifetime.  I might even go so far as to say that picking up wet bath towels from the floor is on the short list of things that drive me the craziest.  If you do a little investigating in your house, I'm betting you'll discover that one of the reasons the towels end up on the floor is because dropping them is simply easier than hanging them up.  Duh.  So what's a girl to do?  Make it easy to hang up the towel.  Stuffing a large, damp towel into a tiny space behind a bar, spreading it out across the bar and pulling it through is not a simple task.  It is one that a motivated adult can reasonably be expected to perform most of the time, but then again, not always.  No child is going to do this.  Skip the bars for the towels that get heavy use in your home and go for hooks.

But where, oh where should a busy mom hook?  My three small children share a very tiny bathroom with almost no wall space for towel bars.  I wanted to give them hooks for their towels and since anytime I mention holes in the paint job, drywall anchors and cordless drills to the Father, he has an apoplectic fit I knew I needed to get creative.  In order to make space for 3 bath towels and a hand towel I had to look for hidden space in the bathroom.  I used removable adhesive hooks on the inside walls of the tub.  Up high, out of the way of most of the splashing, this works well for us because nobody showers in this bathroom.  We have only short little bathers.  We'll have to reexamine this placement of hooks when Marge starts to shower but for now its a way to make use of unused wall space.  And, the hooks are removable so they can be repositioned without needing to plaster and paint...Happy Father!

My point.  Anything that can be hung on a bar, or a hanger for that matter, can also be put on a hook.  A nice low hook where short people can reach it or a nice high hook where short people can't get to it.  Just try it in one room.  You'll be hooked.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

#2 Please Throw in the Towel

#2-While I'm on the subject of bathrooms, here's another great tip that I stole from another organizer many moons ago.  When you need to replace your bath towels, now may not be the time, but the day will come when that fluffy bamboo thing drying your clean little self becomes worthy of only wiping dog feet or wax off the car, consider buying all one color bath towel for your entire house.  I can appreciate that you may have different decor in each bathroom, but most times you can single out one unifying color that will allow you to interchange towels from one room to the next without worrying about which color is clean for which bathroom.  You can also do them all in one load.  I learned this the hard way when as a young bride I registered for 8 sets of towels; 2 red sets, 2 navy blue sets, 2 yellow sets and 2 white sets.  Due to the generosity of my friends and neighbors upon receiving all of these towels I succeeded in guaranteeing myself at least 2 loads of towels each week, where having all one color would have allowed me to throw them all in at once.  We now have all white towels in our house.  I can easily add a few new towels when some of ours get a little worn and they instantly match the current sets.  We can mix and match sets in each bathroom and they still have a cohesive look and when I need fresh towels for a busy bathroom I can easily borrow a few from another's stash.  How many towels is a reasonable number to store?  Usually, two sets of towels for each person who lives in the home and one set for guests (two sets if you have a lot of company.)  That allows for one set to be in use and one set to be in the laundry.

My point.  Here's a place where having fewer choices can make your life easier.  When it's time to start replacing those towels, pick one color for your whole house.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I Have Just Returned From the Edge

It is very cold in The Middle at this time of year.  As I write this the temperature outside is 20 degrees below zero.  Sometimes a vacation to Gramma and Grampa's house on The Edge is just what you need to thaw out your toes and warm up your heart.  Don't get me wrong!  Packing up a family of 5 for a nine day vacation over the holiday is a monumental task that involved packing out the company that was with us for 3 days prior to our departure, arranging a ride to and from the airport, finding a non-traveling teenager to care for the dog who was being left at home, finding someone to cover work while I was away, getting out the boxes of warm weather clothing and determining which sizes of what things fit which kid and would fit into the suitcases that we were going to have to pay to fill with clothing and gifts that we would have to pay to bring home with us, and many other things that did not have me reveling in warm holiday feelings as we prepared for our journey to The Edge.  But the preparation for the trip is never why you go anywhere.  The fun of being there has to be worth the pain of getting there.  For us.  This time.  That was totally true.  It was a wonderful trip.

I have many souvenirs from my Christmas vacation on The Edge; wonderful holiday memories of my children and their grandparents that I will keep forever, 5.2 pounds that I will NOT keep forever, precious videos of Marge visiting the princesses and The Mouse, of Mona taking her first ride in a convertible in December with the top down (people who live on The Edge forget what a novelty this is for us Middle dwellers!) and of Minnie laughing and splashing in a whirlpool bathtub with bubbles so high they nearly covered her little head.  I have a mountain of laundry that might take all of 2010 to climb, a miniature replica of the Parthenon, a battery operated turkey that sings the "Chicken Dance" song, a thawed out soul that will dig into the cold winter that's left of 2010 with a renewed spirit, and so many more things that I can't even name.

Vacationing on The Edge has also apparently affected my ability to think clearly and post blogs with the correct date and time stamp, so the first 2 posts in a series that will continue for the month of January were up on the blog but posted under 2009 which it is obviously NOT and so I have unceremoniously removed them and will repost them tomorrow with some thoughts about the new year, the new decade, the new couch I'm looking for to help me get comfortable in 2010, and the new plan for what I will resolve to DO differently in the coming year.

Check back for the first 3 posts in my January series of how you might DO something differently to BE a more organized person this year.  Because what you DO is who you BE.  Happy New Year!  It's good to be back from The Edge!

30 Things in 30 Days

Welcome to January's series on organizing your stuff to make space for your life.  Do I have any expectation that every single thing on this list will be a novel idea?  Nope.  Would it be reasonable to attempt to complete all of the things on this list in 30 days?  Not a chance.  Will doing the things I'm suggesting change your life?  Maybe, but probably not.  I'm just putting them out there as a suggestion for how to make things a little easier, and a little simpler.  These are not pie in the sky, Martha Stewart budget, Extreme Home Makeover sized, twelve step process ideas.  They are little things.  Small changes.  Do I do them?  Most of them.  And I promise to admit it when I suggest one I'm just thinking about and have not actually done in my own home.  So here goes...Happy New Year!

#1-Decide which supplies you need to clean your bathroom from top to bottom and keep a complete set of these items in every bathroom in your home.  Everybody's list is a little different.  Mine includes a roll of paper towels, a microfiber cloth, a bottle of glass cleaner, a bottle of  tub/tile cleaner, disinfectant and an old toothbrush.  Maybe you are one of those vinegar and water kind of girls...good for you!  Then the space you'll need to store your stuff is much smaller.  Not me.  I keep one of each of my cleaning items in every bathroom so when I get 5 minutes to slick up the bathrooms I don't have to spend the first 3 minutes of my time running through the house looking for the stuff I'll need to start my job.  Oh, and about the toilets.  I don't do toilets.  Period.  I think in 11 years of marriage I can count on one hand the number of times that I wiped out the inside of a toilet bowl.  And when I did it, I did a bad job.  I wipe butts, both human and canine.  I wipe floors.  I wipe dirty windows, sticky fingers and snotty noses. But not toilets.  That is the Father's job in our house and I have no idea what kind of miracle product he uses to complete this task and keep our bowls sparkly and fresh or any earthly idea of where he keeps these said products, but I digress.  Put your supplies in a bucket, a basket or just stuff them under the sink.  The vessel that contains them is not important.  

My point.  Sometimes having multiples of something actually cuts down on the amount of effort it takes to get the job done.  Keep the cleaning supplies in every single bathroom.

Friday, January 1, 2010

What You DO Is Who You BE

For me?  What's my plan of actions for this year?  What are my resolutions?  They all revolve around getting comfortable.  Making some changes.  Because that's why anyone makes a change.  When you decide what you are is uncomfortable you shift, or move, or get up, get out and get on with it.  There are a few things in my life that make me uncomfortable.  The kind of uncomfortable that ranges from the casual pins and needles annoying that makes you shake out your sleeping foot to the sharp pain of someone's stiletto in your palm that makes you knock them off their Manolos.  And since I have no plans to let any part of my being, including my foot, sleep through 2010 and should I ever encounter someone deluded enough to wear Manolos in this ecomony I certainly would not bow down to them and let them step on my hand I plan do something differently this year so I can be comfortable.  I'll keep you posted...literally.  

For you?  First, make resolutions about doing something differently this year and NOT about being something different. It's backwards to think that people do certain things because of who or what they are.  What's really true is that people become what and who they are because of what they do.  If you want to be a healthier person, start acting like one and you will be.  If you want to be a thinner person, start acting like one and you will become one.  If you want to be an organized person, this is your lucky month because among many other things that most notably include wife and mother, I am also a professional organizer and you can come back  to TheMiddleBit everyday for the entire month of January for a new suggestion on how to do something in your home a bit differently to become more organized.

Your doing makes your being.  What will you do?  What will you be?  Happy New Year!