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Use colour coding to organize your office space

Visual people find organizing to be more effective using different colours to represent different categories.  Other people find having too many colours to be visual clutter and distracting.  Colour can be used to motivate, grab your attention or calm your work space. My guest blogger Jessica Pyykkonen from Quill.com explains how to use colour to organize your workspace with this  infographic.

Color code your way to an organized workspace with office productsInfographic by Quill

Color code your way to an organized workspace with office productsWhen the workspace becomes chaotic, color may offer a solution. Adapting a color-coded system will organize your office and make it easier to track and access information. Read about the psychological properties of colors, plus strategies to organize by color.
Color code your way to an organized workspace with office products
  1. Psychological properties of colors

    Before applying a color-coded system to the office, learn the meaning behind popular colors to help dictate which hues to use and when.

    • Red: Associated with energy and power, red is an intense color. Since it quickly grabs the eye, use it to alert coworkers of something urgent.
    • Orange: Less aggressive than red, orange is still an eye-catching, dominating color. A hue closer to the shade of gold can mean luxury, wisdom, or wealth. Use it to label new or long-term projects that focus on the future or improving your business.
    • Yellow: Also a great attention grabber, yellow signifies happiness, hope, and positivity and is commonly used for important items that cannot be ignored. Use for production tasks or to communicate new ideas.
    • Green: A symbol of growth and fertility, green symbolizes stability and healing power. Use it for financial tasks and environmental initiatives.
    • Blue: As a calming color, blue represents loyalty, intelligence, and focus. It’s also a trusting color. Use it for brainstorming, presenting, and networking.
    • Purple: A combination of blue and red, purple is a creative color that symbolizes royalty and luxury. It’s great for creative tasks.
    • Pink: A playful color, pink is full of compassion. It’s a loving, intimate, and feminine color. Save it for personal labels and special occasions.
    • White: Associated with purity, white signifies success and perfection. Use it to signify simplicity and cleanliness.
    • Black: A formal color, black can be prestigious or authoritative. Use it to make other colors stand out and for formal events.
  2. Organizing files by color

    When it’s necessary to save every piece of paper that touches your desk, it can be easy to misplace important information in a pile of white. To file papers you may need to reference later, create a color-coded system with folders.

    Divide documents into categories—invoices, tax documents, office guidelines, etc.—and choose a color to represent each category. Use folders or tabs in each designated color to organize the categories. For file cabinets, choose an assortment of colored hanging folders, which are sturdy enough to hold most documents.

    When passing documents between teams, it’s a good idea to assign colors to departments or tasks. Colored file folders help distinguish which documents need to head to the HR department or be reviewed by the financial team. If using plain manila folders, stick colored labels or tabs on each folder.

    Multiple projects can be assigned a color and organized in three-ring binders. Maintain the color-coded system inside the binder to separate budget and creative documents.

    If it’s time to archive documents, use storage bins in the color-coded system to quickly identify what is inside.

  3. Color code your calendar

    A calendar filled with back-to-back meetings can be overwhelming and ineffective. Ease the stress by assigning colors to events—both work and personal—to get a better understanding of your day-to-day activities. Visualizing the events can help control how much time you allocate to each activity or project.

    To categorize meetings, choose colors based on their psychological properties. Most calendar apps allow users to assign colors, but if you prefer traditional day planners, use sticky notes or colored pencils to categorize.

    • Red: Wednesday 11 a.m.—”Final Spreadsheet due”
    • Blue: Tuesday 3 p.m. — “Brainstorm Session w/ PR”
    • Green: Thursday 10 a.m. — “Budget Meeting”
    • Yellow: Tuesday 9 a.m. — “Credit Card Bill Due”Wednesday 1 p.m. — “Order File Folders”
    • Purple: Monday 2 p.m. — “Present Sales Pitch”Thursday 1 p.m. — “Review Mock-Ups”
    • Pink: Friday 5 p.m. — “Happy Hour”
  4. Take notes in color

    Writing notes on paper is a great concept—until those notes get lost among other notes and are never read again. Take the color-coded calendar a step further by using the same colored pen to take notes. Color coding can also stimulate different parts of your brain and allow you to see connections previously overlooked.

    In a budget meeting? Use a green pen to jot down notes. If a creative idea comes to mind that you don’t want to forget to bring up during a weekly brainstorm, use purple. When you flip back through your note pages, the system will allow you to quickly find what you’re looking for. But avoid too much color—if everything is highlighted, it’s difficult to tell what takes priority.

  5. Color code your inbox

    If hundreds of unread emails leave you overwhelmed, assign colors to senders or subjects to quickly identify what needs attention. Many email systems have settings to adjust how emails are displayed in your inbox. Assign automatic colors to specific people, such as your manager, so those emails will stand out.

    Messages can also be coded by subject line. If you’re working on a specific project, assigning that project name a color will separate it from everyday emails.

Conclusion

Color coding is meant to make your work life easier. Assign colors before you start a new project and limit the amount to avoid confusion. You shouldn’t have to spend time deciphering your color code!

How do you use colour coding to keep yourself organized?

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Fire Prevention Week

Fire Prevention Week

Information below from Fire Prevention Canada: Working with the private and public sectors to achieve fire safety through education. Fire Prevention Canada is a non-profit organization which depends on sponsors and volunteers to help keep Canada fire-safe.

This year’s national theme is “Have Two Ways Out.©” Fire Prevention Week is recognized every October during the full week – Sunday through Saturday – that October 7th falls on. Despite the fact that fewer fire losses are reported in Canada, still, on average, eight Canadians die from fire every week. Most of these fires are preventable and caused by careless behaviour. That is why it is critical to educate Canadians and incite them to act. During this week, fire departments across the nation will promote public awareness of the dangers of fire and the ways we can protect ourselves from fire.

Did you know that modern homes burn much faster?

Research over three decades has shown that modern homes may be making house fires more deadly than ever before.

Newer homes and furnishings are made with more synthetics which make fires ignite and burn faster. They also release more toxic gases when burned. Most fire victims die from smoke or toxic gases and not from actual burns. Deadly conditions are reached much more quickly now than in the 1970s when more natural materials were used in home and furnishings.

Over 30 years ago, an important study conducted tests in actual homes with sizes and floor plans, furniture and items, and smoke alarms on the market. That report concluded smoke alarms generally provided the necessary escape time for different fire types and locations. This research led to the popular use of smoke alarms in residential settings

A more recent 2005 study found a troubling difference with the previous investigation. The amount of safe escape time was consistently shorter and the fire growth rates were faster. It is thought that synthetic materials currently found in homes contributed to this change. The study concluded that because fires could be more aggressive, the time needed to escape home fires has been reduced from approximately 17 minutes to as little as three minutes.

This gives less time for occupants to escape a fire and is shorter than the seven minute response time target for fire services. This disparity can mean the difference between life and death.

With this in mind, this is just a gentle reminder that it’s everyone’s responsibility for fire safety. Your line of defence is as follows:

  • The prevention of fires in the first place;
  • the detection of smoke and fire with working smoke alarms as a second line of defence; and
  • Evacuation to safety by having a well-rehearsed fire escape plan as the third and most important action are all important notes .
  • For more information on fire prevention tips for you and your family, please visit www.fiprecan.ca

Need help organizing a plan in your home, contact Mind over Clutter to help with streamling your processes and developing home routines.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

How do you store your batteries?

Here is a great video on how to store batteries safely to prevent a fire in your home.

Batteries can be recycled in many locations.  Share in the comments where you recycle your batteries. 

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Organizing your Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving can be a stressful time for some people.  Coordinating schedules, planning menus and preparing the house can make it a busy time.

Here are some tips to make the day for full of giving thanks and you less stressed.

1. Let people help

Ask them to bring some of the food.  If you have someone who doesn’t like to cook ask them to arrive early and help greet people at the door.

2. Plan a menu

  • record the amount of food you cook.
  • record the cooking time for each dish
  • reuse the menu, grocery list  and cooking  schedule next year

3. Plan to take a walk

  • Between the main course and dessert have your guests go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air and build an appetite for dessert
  • While your guests are out, you will have time to clear the leftovers and put them in the refrigerator

4. Be thankful

  • let everyone say something they are thankful for, it is amazing how this can create a happy atmosphere at the dinner table

Share your best tip for making Thanksgiving celebrations less stressful.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals.

Organizing your cosmetics, how long should I keep them?

When you start organizing your bathroom or bedroom you may find cosmetics.  Here is an infographic with information on how long to keep your cosmetics before throwing them out. Thanks to Natalie Brown a staff writer at BuzzFeed News for posting this information.  For more ideas on bathroom organizing read her post 7 Easy Bathroom Organizing Ideas You’ll Actually Want to Try 

By Natalie Brown BuzzFeed News July 2017

Have you found any alternative uses for expired cosmetics? Share them in the comment section

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Packing for college:What’s necessary and what’s not

Today’s post is by Jackie Heath of Allied Van Lines. Thanks for sharing your expertise with my readers.

Moving someone off to college? Here’s a quick list of what’s necessary, and what really isn’t.

college student deskYour first impulse when packing up and heading out to college will probably be to include all those creature comforts you’re sure you can’t do without. Sure, you’ve heard space will be limited, but you still need clothes to wear and books to read, right?

Not necessarily. If you’re like most new college students, chances are, there’s quite a bit you can do without.

What to Pack for College

Although every college is different (and your packing list will vary depending on whether you’ll be staying in a dorm room or apartment), almost everyone considers these items a necessity:

> Mattress/bed (assuming one is not provided)
>  Sheets and bedding for the bed
>  Pillows
>  Computer
>  Power strip/cords
>  Lamp
>  Alarm Clock
>  Garbage Can
>  Showering accessories (including towels)
>  Daily toiletries
>  Weather-specific clothing (note the weather-specific designation; for many students, it’s best to keep a closet rotation that allows you to store your seasonal items at home when not in use)
>  Hangers
>  Wall décor
>  Music/headphones
>  Laundry basket or bag
>  First-aid kit

Of course, not all of these items have to be purchased in advance and put onto the moving truck. If space is limited, you may want to make a list of items to bring with you from home and a separate list of items you can buy once you arrive. A last-minute trip to the drugstore can usually provide you with everything you need to get settled in.

What Not to Pack for College

More important that what to pack for college is what not to pack. These items tend to be bulky, heavy, or not relevant—which means that not only will they crowd your room, but you’ll pay more for the moving van, as well.

>  Air conditioner
>  Printer (the campus should have plenty)
>  Cooking appliances (with the possible exception of a microwave and/or mini fridge)
>  Stuffed animals
>  High value items, including jewelry
>  Books (with the exception of a few favorites and/or a well-stocked e-reader)
>  Furniture other than a bed and desk chair
>  Off-season sporting equipment (like skis during summer or a bicycle in winter)
>  Bookcases and shelves
>  Weight-lifting equipment

We also recommend not bringing things like school supplies, as you may not be sure what you need until you arrive and attend a few classes first.

Share in the comments what  you packed for college that was completely useless? 

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Organizing a Student’s move to University or College

Panic maybe starting to set in.  This is the time of year for back to school.  Some of you maybe moving a student to a school close to home, some may have a long drive to the new school and others may have to fly.  Whether you may be able to make multiple trips to your student’s school or if you have one chance to get it right, Anne Wynter’s    How to Cut College Clutter  or Cathie  Ericson’s blog Moving A student to College can help you with a successful, low stress enjoyable move.

dorm room organizing

How much should I take?

Need help moving your student into the dorm, send your questions to julie@mindoverclutter.ca

    Join my  Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space 

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

7 Organizing Packing Tips for a Move Across the Country

Depositphotos_73413557_m-2015

My son and his wife  told me they would be moving across the country to start new jobs.  They would be leaving in 2 weeks.  Can you help pack Mom?  Long distant moves on a budget require a lot of planning before the packing begins.  Some of you maybe moving for a job or for schooling.  Take a deep breath and relax.

If you are not hiring a moving company

This move involved selling anything and everything people were interested in buying.  Put your ads for the things you are selling on Kijiji or Craigslist.   Don’t forget about neighbourhood swap and sell sites on Facebook.  You may  have multiple sites in your area and it makes scheduling pickups so much easier when you know that they are in your neighbourhood. But don’t forget the most important source for your sales.  Tell your friends and family and ask them to tell their friends, family and co-workers.  One of my readers shared “do an “Internet Garage Sale” where you made a list of items with prices, emailed it to everyone you know, and asked them to share it with others. We were able to sell quite a few of our larger and more valuable items that way.” Don’t be shy.

Smaller items need to be sold too

You may need to sell clothing, jewelry or home decor items.  Take them to consignment stores.

Determine what you will take, store and ship. 

Moving out

In this case they were driving a car across the country.  They would be staying with relatives until they found an apartment.  They knew of a few people who would be flying out to see them in the next few months.  With this information the packing began.  For each item, it had to be decided if it would be packed:

  • in the car
  • in a suitcase for someone to bring next month
  • in a suitcase for someone to bring the following month
  • in a suitcase for someone to bring later
  • in a box because they were items that they might want when they have an apartment
  • in a plastic bin and stored

You never know what you might want shipped 

Knowing what is in every box makes it easy to find what you need

Knowing what is in every box makes it easy to find what you need

As boxes and bins were packed someone was in charge of keeping an inventory of what went in each box and bin and labelling the container with a corresponding number to the list.  We used google docs so later in the week when more things were packed or removed from boxes the list could be changed and a new list doesn’t have to be emailed to anyone.  You don’t have to worry if you are using the most up to date list.  The reason to do an inventory is so you can find items they might want shipped.  The hope is that the whole box will shipped but more likely they will decide on certain items and they might be packed in a number of different boxes.

Food

We started by going through the cupboards and anything that was unopened and not expired was donated to the food bank.  This can be done early in the packing session and it is an easy way to start.  No difficult decisions need to be made.  Some food can be used during the 2 weeks, some disposed of and then  find a friend who will be happy to take your food.

Donate

Remember to donate items to charity and not to put them in the garbage.

Remember to donate items to charity and not to put them in the garbage.

As time moved on they found things they didn’t want or need, couldn’t sell or give a way or give back to people.  Donate these items to charity.  It is easy to think no one wants them and start putting them in the garbage but most things can be donated.  It takes just as much time to put them in a garbage bag as in a box or bag to go to a charity.  You will probably be eating out so you can take them to the charity on the way to dinner.

You’re finally finished

You are probably tired and overwhelmed and over stressed.  Just take a big breath.  You did a great job, you are about to start a new adventure .  Focus on that.  Don’t focus on the stuff.  Enjoy the trip and the time off before the new jobs begin.

What is your advise for moving across the country in a car, on a plane or in a train?

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 

Storage Solutions

Organizing Challenges Unraveled – Storage Solutions

On the  People in Connection Internet TV show, I discussed Organizing Challenges Unraveled – Storage Solutions. When you are short of storage space in a specific area, there are many products on the market that can give you more.

Over the Door Hanging Products

There are a number of over the door hanging products found in stores such as Walmart and Canadian Tire.  There are over the door hooks to use for hanging coats, clothes, towels, purses, belts as well as over the door rings for hanging tea towels, hand towels and paper towels.  There also is a great product that has 5 pockets /shelves that are about 6” deep, which could hold shoes, office supplies or laundry supplies.   Using over the door hanging products makes installation easy and quick and you don’t need to put holes in your walls.

Magnetic Products

There are magnetic products that can be used to make storage space on metal appliances such as your refrigerator, filing cabinet or washing machine.  One is a rack with 3 slots to hold papers, magazines etc and a filing pocket to hold file folders.  They are available at office supply stores like Staples.

Unused / Hidden Spaces

There are unlikely places in the home that can be turned into great storage areas.  Under the staircase can be lined with cedar to become a storage area for clothes or bedding.  It can be fitted with a bar to hang clothes or shelves for storing containers.

Furniture with Storage

Using pieces of furniture is a great way to make additional storage spaces.  A simple chest of drawers can be used in an entrance way to store hats, mitts, pets’ leashes, keys etc.  An antique dining room buffet with drawers can be used to store CDs and DVDs.  Two drawer filing cabinets can be used as a night table in a child’s bedroom holding books and toys and later used for school work as the child matures.

When you need to make space to store items think outside the box, many spaces can be used to creatively and attractively store the things you need and love.

Join my Facebook Group Organizing Mind and Spaces

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Coopetition

Do You Play Well with Others? A look at cooperative competition

Professional organizer Julie Stobbe sharing tips with other local businesswomen

Coopetition occurs when companies work together for parts of their business where they do not believe they have competitive advantage and where they believe they can share common costs. (Source: Wikipedia)

In my experience, most professional organizers are very happy to share resources and expertise with their colleagues and reap many rewards from doing so. I asked my client, Julie Stobbe, about her thoughts on the subject, and was so impressed that I invited her to share them here today as my guest blogger.

Cooperating with someone in your line of business is a great way to get to know people, brainstorm and  learn ideas and help each other with areas that you are weak in.

When I decided to try coopetition, I did it on a project basis. I used it to help me to market better, because marketing is not my strength.

I would think about something I would like to have (product development) or something I would like to do (offer a new service) and think about someone who had mentioned that they had an interest in the same thing.  I would approach them with an idea and see if they were interested in working together to develop and implement the plan.  It was nice to have a partner to walk the path with and hold my hand.

The payoff is having to do half the work while increasing business for both parties with the understanding that if they get busy and need help, they would approach me first, and I would do the same for them.  If you develop a service with a partner, if someone gets sick, you have the other person as backup.   I always selected someone who lived east of my main marketing area.  This made it easy to get materials delivered over a larger area – half the work, twice the area covered.  This gave us both exposure to a larger market.

Here are some examples of projects I’ve worked on with people in my field and with complementary businesses:

  • Developing organizing tip booklets; we have 4 different topics.
  • Developing courses to offer to colleges, school boards and groups; we have 3 different 3 hour courses prepared.
  • Advertising someone else’s electronic resources (because I don’t want to develop them at this time) in exchange for services.
  • Advertising together so the cost of printing is shared by both companies.
  • Recommending specialty services to clients, such as clutter removal service, rug cleaning, and website design.
  • Inviting someone to attend new meetings and events with me. That way I don’t have to walk in alone, and perhaps they can make introductions too.

Although I have been fortunate and careful with whom I partner, there are always things to consider.

  • The person you partner with now represents your company as well as their own.  Make sure you have similar business ethics or your company’s reputation maybe adversely affected.
  • If you are producing a product and the quality of what they produce is not up to your standards, you may be disappointed.  However, you have both contributed time and money to the project so they may use it the way they want to.
  • One of the companies may work much harder at marketing the product or service than the other company.  Make sure that you can live with it if you realize that you are marketing them but they are not marketing you.

Overall, I have gained a lot from coopetition with others.  I have grown as a business person, I have learned new skills, I have made good friends I can depend on, and I have learned to be flexible.  I hope my coopetition partners have found me to be reasonable, supportive and hard working.  Taking a chance to work with good people is really making a sure bet.

Thanks to Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant for interviewing me.  Join her Maximize Marketing Club.

Julie Stobbe is a POC Trained Professional Organizer and the owner of Mind over Clutter in Beamsville, Ontario, Canada. You can also like Mind over Clutter on Facebook.

Residential Organizing Services for the Region of Niagara, Hamilton, Halton-Peel and Surrounding Area