Quick Organizing Tips to Gain Minutes Each Day

It seems like everyone I know is looking for ways to save time right now. Between regular tasks, upcoming spring schedules, the chore of getting everything together to complete our taxes (I know, bad word, I’m sorry), opening the garden or freshening the landscape, and SAS memejust general spring cleaning because we’re finally able to leave the house without having to brave the cold every day — there’s a lot to do at the moment. I quipped this morning I might farm out some of my tasks to the dog. And while she’d likely try to do her best, I think I’ll leave that as a joke between us.

While we can’t actually create time, we can save it and use the extra minutes each day in efficient ways to seem to do more things without giving up sleep or fun.

  1. Find 3 to 5 minutes every time you’re in the kitchen. We likely spend more time in the kitchen than any room in the house–and the most time waiting. While waiting 3 minutes for the microwave:
    1.  clean out the refrigerator and update the shopping list.
    2. plan a dinner menu and check for ingredients to add to the shopping list.
    3. go through recyclables and take out anything that landed in the wrong bins.
  2. When on the go, don’t stare out the window and wonder when traffic is going to move or the doctor will finally call you for your appointment. Instead “discover” an extra 10 or 15 minutes by:
    1. keeping pens and a notepad handy to jot down reminders.
    2. making a grocery or to-do list.
    3. dashing off a couple of quick thank-you notes (yes, we all use email a lot for this, but some things still need a personal touch).
  3. Let natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda cut cleaning time in half:
    1. fill a water bottle with white vinegar and leave for everyone to spray on the shower door and walls after each shower to help reduce the buildup of soap scum and hard water deposits, and make bathroom cleaning a breeze.
    2. leave baking soda sprinkled in a damp bathtub to sit for a short time, and dirt and scum wipes right off later with a rag–no hard scrubbing and minutes gained.
    3. instead of dealing with lint still on clothes after drying (and having to look for the lint roller or masking tape), add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to reduce lint buildup on clothes.
  4. Spend 15 minutes once a year to make self-stick notes to label cards/envelopes with names and birth dates, then file them by-month in an accordion folder so no birthday is ever forgotten. Another trick that a friend uses is to create a “personal” event page for herself on Facebook for birthdays and anniversaries she never wants to forget. Then Facebook alerts her each time she “has an event this week.”
  5. I love using colors to organize, so every project, every family member, every year has it’s own color, because:
    1. using specific colors for each family member means I can see with a glance at the calendar who has some event or appointment each week–without having to get close enough even to see the name–just by seeing what ink colors are used to mark in the days’ boxes.
    2. using colored baskets in the mudroom for each family member means it’s easy to sort out all the personal things for each person that get distributed far and wide in the house, and then family members can take the basket full of items and put everything where they need to go.
    3. when I use specific colors to label projects and years, it is much easier to find things later, as I can immediately disregard files, boxes, notes or notebooks that aren’t the right color.

These are just a few tips for creating time by using it in new ways. Right now, I’m working on a two new Organized Mysteries projects–a new novel and a new short story. And, yes, each has its own project color.

Do you have a tip you want to share that keeps your life balanced and a little better on-track? Feel free to add it as a comment.



I Guess I Have the Bargain of the Week

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]I have two books coming out soon. The first, Organized for Homicideis another featuring organizational expert Kate McKenzie as chief sleuth and bottle organizer. To coincide with this September 8th release, my publisher has discounted book#1 in the series, Organized for Murder, to 99 cents for a short time in all ebook formats. And the rest of this week I’ll be posting excerpts of the new book, Organized for Homicideso everyone can get a sampling of that story as well.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]In my Organized Mysteries series, Kate and her sidekick, Meg Berman, find that starting a small business sometimes leads to having to do more than your mission statement implies. Sometimes it means figuring out whodunit when someone involved in their business contract gets killed, and law enforcement focuses on the wrong person as the murder suspect. In the first book, Kate is in the hot seat herself, so she is absolutely sure the state police are pursuing the wrong person.

If you already own the first book, thank you, and please come back by in the next few days to read excerpts from the new release. But if you don’t have a copy of Organized for Murder, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to pick up a copy while it’s on sale. I just love a bargain, don’t you? You can click here for the Amazon link to get a Kindle copy or check my Where to Buy My Books page to purchase Organized for Murder in any of the other ebook formats, and where you can also find links to pre-order copies of  Organized for Homicide. All the buy links will be there once it’s available at all booksellers next weekend. I can’t wait to share the excerpts with you this week! Hope to see a lot of you return soon.

One of my favorite things about this series is that I get to share terrific organizing tips I’ve figured out on my own or learned from others. Do you have any favorite things you do every day to keep life organized and running a little smoother? Feel free to tell us in the comments 🙂


Save Those Things You Could Use for Years

We get so busy that sometimes we forget to hang on to things we should–things that could help us avoid stressful situation, buy additional items we shouldn’t, or even keep family members from serious medical issues.

Without getting into some of the first arguments hubby and I had, here’s a couple of tips that could save your life and definitely save budget and your relationship.

Anytime you buy anything with a manual or a written warranty, file it. Stapling the receipt that shows where and when it was purchased helps even more, but definitely file the item’s paperwork. Here’s why — it will break. Your spouse may be able to fix it, or you can order replacement parts, or one of you realize the kids shoved a plastic piece of toy where it doesn’t belong because the schematic in the manual doesn’t show that piece of plastic ever being a part of the design. If it can’t be repaired, that written warranty may prove you deserve a free replacement!

Save stress and expense by organizing ALL manuals together. If just starting out, get a three-ring notebook, and either punch holes in your manuals/warranties or buy those clear sleeves at Office Depot to slide the paperwork into, then clip the sleeves into the binder. You can sort these in sections, or not, but the big thing is to have them in one place.

We outgrew the notebook, so I have a portable Rubbermaid file box with a carry-handle that holds letter-sized hanging folders, one for each appliance. I drop each manual/warranty inside. I can easily shift hanging folders so all the paperwork from each room gets grouped together.

Best of all, whenever hubby asks for the millionth time where a manual is, I just point to the box. He never files the manual back, that’s too much to hope, but he does drop the manual back on top of the box when done. That’s a win in my book.

When I mentioned ‘save your life organizing,’ it wasn’t to keep from killing my spouse because he used to drive me nuts about product manuals. What I meant referred to those informational medicine pages received with prescription drugs.

Even if it’s a prescription you never expect to use again, keep the paperwork. When you’re ill, or starting a new prescription, you think you’ve paid attention what your doctor said, but if your symptoms change or become worse you may be having side effects from the very thing supposed to be making you better.

When we receive the written info from the pharmacist, I look it over, then file in a notebook holding all other paperwork like this our family has received.

If an unexpected side effect occurs, I make notes on the paper, and flag it in the notebook. If that family member is prescribed this medication again, we know what to tell the next doctor. Even if nothing bad happens, I keep the paperwork without adding notes to know the medication worked fine. We always think we’re going to remember, but even best intentions can fall short. A quick note now may save future health complications and stress.

Launch Week of Organized for Murder

It’s been several days since I’ve had time to blog on organization tips because I’ve been blogging so much on the new release. Anyone reading this who purchased ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, read & reviewed it, and/or blogged about it to share the news, thank you so very much. I cannot begin to put into words how much it has meant to see people like this book and help spread the news about it.

Early reviews and sales have been overwhelming. More than a hundred 5-star reviews on the online bookseller sites, and the book hit #1 on Amazon’s Cozy Crafts & Hobbies category on the first day. Right now, it’s still #4 as an Amazon Cozy, #1 on their Top Rated books, #2 in Hot New Cozy Releases, and #13 for Women Sleuths, which means that my amateur sleuth is measured against the popularity of all the other women sleuths in all the different categories of the mystery genre–what a thrill! On the B&N side, my book is currently #23 in Bestselling Mysteries–what a thrill to have the first book in my new series appear on the first page of that list! And while this is what I could call a very American cozy mystery, it’s become a pretty good hit in the U.K. as well, and by yesterday, which was Day 2 there on sales, it reach #26 in Bestselling Mystery category, and remains #1 on the U.K. Bestseller list for Cozy Crafts & Hobbies, just like the U.S.Image

While I meant to give a few more organization tips this week, the best tip I can offer today is to suggest if you have any interest in what I humbly call a good mystery, and/or like to read about ways to make your life more organized–but prefer to get the information in the midst of an intriguing cozy crime story instead of a conventional How-To book–please consider buying ORGANIZED FOR MURDER. Until the end of this week, it’s available in all ebook versions at the bargain price of 99 cents, but that price will go up to the regular pricing soon. So, if you want to save some money, get a well-reviewed mystery, and gain some organization tips along the way, please consider purchasing a copy of ORGANIZED FOR MURDER 

It’s available in print copy, too, at the Barnes & Noble site and the Amazon U.K. website, but the sale price is only for the ebook version. You can find all the easy links to buy by clicking on my page ‘Here’s Where To Buy My Books’ that you see listed just under the banner at the top of this page.

Posting Organization Tips Today on My Publisher’s Facebook Page

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]My wonderful publisher, Gemma Halliday, is offering me her Facebook page for the next three days to post even more great organization tips. How cool is that? You don’t have to be her Facebook friend to see the tips (though you can be), just go to her Author page at https://www.facebook.com/gemmahallidayauthor and look for the cover of my book near the top of the left hand column. Also, be sure to click on the blue ‘See More’ link near the end of her introductory paragraph to bring up my organization tips.

Enjoy! More tips will be posted on her FB page tomorrow and Saturday, and here on this site you can still read the Chapter One excerpt on my post for yesterday.

One final note: to tie to the Monday, Feb. 24th release for ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, my publisher has set the price on the first book in my other series COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES at a one-week bargain price of 99 cents–but that special price only lasts through tomorrow, Feb. 22nd. COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES is specially priced across all ebook formats at all online booksellers. Click the page above marked Here’s Where To Buy My Books to find clickable links. :)

Kate McKenzie’s Down To Earth Organization Style

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]The main character in ORGANIZED FOR MURDER is Kate McKenzie, wife, mother of twins, and small business owner. While her daily focus is on keeping her family’s and clients’ lives running efficiently and well-organized, she’s a pretty easygoing person and doesn’t feel one must go to heroic (or expensive) measures to keep life running smoothly.

In the book, she speaks at an organization workshop in the local bookstore. This is a little taste of her common sense approach to keeping a household on-track, and may give you some ideas, too.

Kate’s Notes: How to Keep a Happily Organized Home (for the organization presentation)

Unless you live alone, don’t try to organize your home by yourself. Involve the same people who helped get your disordered abode in its present state. Teamwork isn’t just more efficient time-wise, it’s critical if you want to make permanent organizational changes.

Learn as a team to clean as you go. No one is too young or too old to help in some way. Children can learn to put away one toy before taking out another, and the whole family can help load the dishwasher by rinsing and placing their own used tableware in after each meal. Hang hooks for coats and clothes, collect boxes and bins for toys, file paperwork as you’re finished with it and easily find what is needed later.

Most of all, don’t expect perfection at all times—the white glove test died with the 1950s. Ten minutes a day of family pick-up time, with everyone pitching in once a week for an hour to accomplish the big cleaning, and your house will stay comfortable for daily living and inviting when unexpected guests arrive.

ORGANIZED FOR MURDER will be released February 24th by Gemma Halliday Publishing. If you’re interested in learning more about the book, you can read early reviews at the novel’s GoodReads page. I’ll be posting the bookseller links when they go live next week.

Also, to tie-in with the release for ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, my publisher set the price on the first book in my other series COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES at a one-week bargain price of 99 cents–but that deal only lasts until Feb 22nd. You can find this special pricing in all ebook formats. Click the page above marked Here’s Where To Buy My Books to find clickable links to all online booksellers.