Organization Hack: Hot Mess Express

New Glasses!

You know how I am always talking about organization and how organizing makes me happy? Well, I just want to say that I am human and sometimes I’m a hot mess.  This week is one of those times when I feel like I’m in a foreign world and have no clue at all what is going on.  In all honesty, I feel like I have been that way most of this summer.   Maybe it is because I have done a lot of traveling this summer (planned and unplanned) and was living out of a suitcase a lot.  I like routine. I like structure.  It’s hard to have structure and routine when you are traveling. Now that I am back home and ready to get back to some kind of normal, I feel all discombobulated.  There is so much to catch up on and things that need my attention that I just don’t know where to begin.  I kind of think this is how it must feel to be my kids with their ADHD.  I don’t know where to focus, and I am really struggling to focus on anything at all for any length of time.  I feel overwhelmed. I am a HOT MESS for sure! Why am I telling you this when I normally give you tips and tricks to get organized? Well, I want you to know that even the most organized and well-planned people sometimes loose it.   Yes, organization makes things easier and helps you to stay put together. However, sometimes even that doesn’t help. I know that I am super hard on myself on days like today when I just can’t seem to get it together.  I start that negative self-talk that I have told you I do sometimes. In my head, I am asking myself questions like: “What is wrong with you? Why can’t you get it together?” When I catch myself doing that, I immediately try to turn it around and speak positive things to myself because there is absolutely nothing wrong with me.  It is totally ok to not have it all together. It’s okay to feel that way sometimes.  I have to constantly remind myself of that. 

How do I get myself back on track and control the chaos that is going on in my head? For me, it is best to stop whatever I am doing at the moment and sit down.  I kind of have to take a deep breath or two (or 10) and calm my brain.  I then begin making a list of everything that I have to do or get caught up on. Sometimes even that task is overwhelming, but I force myself to do it.  I write down everything including small things like removing my nail polish.  That helps keep me from getting distracted later by my chipping nails. Things like that will easily cause me to loose focus when I am already feeling distracted. Then I will go through the list and prioritize it. I will even go as far as numbering the tasks to give myself some way to stay on task. From there I will begin the tasks in order.  When I feel myself getting off task, I will refer to my list again and again.  Prioritizing it helps me to see that although my nails may be bothering me right now, I at least know that it’s on the list and it will get done eventually. I get satisfaction from physically crossing things off.  That is motivation enough for me to keep pushing through.  It helps me to refocus my brain.  While this method may not work for everyone, I know that it works for me. It helps to turn the Hot Mess Express into Controlled Chaos Central. 

Anchored,

Organization Hack: Packing

I know that I have already done a couple of packing posts (Disney Packing List and Top 3 Packing Tips), but I wanted to do another one to show you my entire packing process in depth. Packing is what is on my brain right now anyway as I am leaving in the morning for our annual Trades of Hope Inspire Retreat in Orlando.  I am beyond excited about this trip. I have actually been prepping for packing for this trip for about a month.  If you remember from my 3 Tip post, my number one tip is to create a list.  I actually have a generic pack list that stays in the note section on my phone.  It includes all of the essentials that I pack with me on every trip I take.  It includes things like make-up, deodorant, phone chargers, pajamas, and other essentials that I always need.  When I am planning a new trip, I copy that list and then begin to add to the bottom all the things that I need that are specific to that particular trip.  I will continue to add to this list up until the day of a trip as I think of things. Then I begin to plan out my outfits for each day of the trip.  For this particular trip, I need at least 2 outfits per day.  We have sessions and training during the day and then big events in the evenings that require me to dress differently.  At the bottom of my list, I will begin to list the day of the week and everything I plan to wear that day.  Then as the day of departure gets closer, I will begin to lay those outfits out on the floor in my closet.  This includes all articles of clothing that I will wear on that particular day down to the under garments, shoes, and jewelry.  This helps me to visualize everything and insures that I don’t forget something important like a strapless bra for a strapless dress.  I don’t immediately put everything into the suitcase, though.  I will leave it there for a day or two as I continue to look over it and make changes as needed.  I actually laid out everything for this trip yesterday and am using today to make sure I don’t want to change anything up as I thinking about it more.  Here is an example of what my closet floor looks like right now with everything laid out waiting to be placed in the suitcase.  

Once I am satisfied with every outfit, I will take a picture of each pile.  This will help me to remember what jewelry/shoes I planned to wear with each outfit.  When that is done, I begin to bag things up using Tip #2 from my top 3 tips post.  I like to use gallon zip lock storage bags for this. For example, I will put all pairs of socks into a gallon zip lock bag in order to keep them all together.  I will do the same for underwear, bras, and camisoles.  Next I take all pieces of jewelry and place it in my Thirty-One Jewelry case (retired) (alternate option).  From there, I begin to add the clothes in neat piles to my suitcase keeping all parts of the outfit together (pants and top).  At this point everything that I am going to wear is in the suitcase.

Tonight I will begin packing all of the other things that I need to take with me.  This evening I will place a large Thirty-One cosmetic bag (retired) (alternate option) on the counter in my bathroom.  As I wash my face and prepare for bed tonight, I will place my soap and other parts of my R+F nightly regimen into that bag as I finish using them. Then in the morning, as I complete each step of my morning regimen; I will place those items in the bag too. Packing it after using it helps me to not forget an important step in my skincare routine.  I will also hang my Thirty-One travel bag on the knob to one of the drawers to my vanity tonight.  Then as I put my makeup on in the morning, I will place the pieces I use into the bag as soon as I am done with them.  Packing as you use it really helps to ensure you don’t forget any essential items.  The same goes for hair tools.  As soon as I am done drying my hair, my hair dryer will go into the suitcase.  Then I pack my flat iron and curling wand after placing them in a heat resistant pouch.  I use a circular pill case to sort out all of my prescription medications that I take daily.  Then I will add it to a small medicine bag (similar) that also has things like ibuprofen, eye drops, band-aids, antibiotic ointment, etc. that I may need (these go in my carry on bag). I use a Thirty-One Mini Zipper Pouch to hold hair ties, bobby pins (in case I pull my hair up), clips, and a headband for washing my face.  Once all of that is in my suitcase, it is ready to be closed up.  

It may sound like a lot of work, but it will keep you organized and make things so easy when you get to your destination.  Being prepared allowed me to spend today writing and getting my hair and nails done, instead of running around crazy trying to pack.  It is totally worth the time it takes to prep ahead.  

Anchored and Organized,

Organization Hack: Email

Are you one of the people that has like 1000 unopened emails? Can you open your phone and see that red dot next to your email icon and not freak out? I am one of the people who can’t stand to see the red dot.  In fact, it bothers me so much that I turned that feature off on my phone for emails.  I get so many a day that I don’t always have enough time to go through them all in a timely manner, and the red dot makes me crazy.  Now, if you ask me how I turned it off, I have no clue.  I probably couldn’t do it again, but somehow I figured it out.  I am very particular about email. Yes, I know I am very particular about a lot of things. You all know that I have an obsession with organization, neatness, and structure.  I am no different with email.  I am one of those people that will delete the email once it has been read unless it contains important information.  If it is an email that I need to return to later for some action, I will flag the email as important so I can easily find it later. In fact, I will go through my flagged emails daily to make sure things are completed on time. Once the action has been completed, I will delete it.  This is how I stay accountable.  The flagged emails are only those emails that require some kind of action from me.  It could be a form that needs completing, a payment that needs to be made, or something that needs to be turned in.  

All other emails that contain important information that I may need to refer to later or that I need to keep that don’t require an action are kept in folders within my email.  I do love some folders! Virtual folders or real folders, it doesn’t matter! They all make me happy. LOL! I have a Yahoo account (Yes, I know that shows that I am old!)  as my personal email account, and it is easy to create and sort folders in it.  I have a Gmail account for this blog, and it is also easy to create folders there.   I am certain that any email service provider will have the option to easily create folders. I like things neat and organized, and creating folders is what helps me to do that.  For example, each year I create a separate folder for each of my daughters for all school related information.  The title of those folders is my daughter’s name and the grade she is in that year. Then all important school information that I need to keep goes in that designated folder.  I also create a folder each year for my daughter’s sports. It will be titled with the team name and year or level.  At the end of each season or school year, I will go through those files and delete anything that I no longer need.  This again makes it easier to locate information when I need it. It keeps me from scrolling through a million emails to find the right one.  

Below is a description of some of the other folders I have for sorting my emails. 

  • Receipts: 

In this folder, I keep any receipts from things I have purchased throughout the year. For example, if I order something from a store online, I will get an emailed receipt.  Those emails automatically get put into this folder in the event that I need the receipt for a return.  Any PayPal receipts also go in here unless they are specific to one of my businesses. 

  • Taxes: 

I have a tax folder for each of my small businesses.  This is where I put invoices for things purchased for my businesses and other information needed for taxes.  When tax season rolls around, I can go to this folder and easily print out everything that I need to take to our accountant. 

  • Addresses: 

This folder contains emails where people have either sent me a roster for the girls’ sports or activities I am in or emails with address changes.  This is how I keep up with contact information for people. Now, once I have updated the contact information in my phone, I will delete these emails. 

  • Recipes:  

Sometimes friends will email me recipes or I find one online, and email it to myself. All of those go in this folder. 

  • Businesses: 

I have separate folders for each of my businesses as well. Anything relating to the business that isn’t tax information goes straight to one of these folders. 

  • Clubs:

I am the Vice President for the parents’ club for my daughter’s gym so I keep any email correspondence for it in a separate folder with the club’s name. 

Pretty much any email I receive that needs to be kept goes into some type of folder.  If I don’t need to keep the information, it is deleted right away.  In case you haven’t noticed the act of deleting something is satisfying to me! The only things that I keep just in the inbox are maybe something I wanted to read through but didn’t have time like a blog from another blogger I follow.  I will go back to it later and read it and then either sort it into the appropriate folder or delete it. I honestly don’t know how people can go without folders. It would drive me nuts to search through hundreds of emails at a time to find the thing I needed.  The same goes for unopened emails.  If you aren’t going to open them, you might as well delete them. What is the point in holding on to them and clogging up your inbox?  That is certainly a way to miss something important! To keep from having thousands of unopened emails in your inbox and having that red dot on your phone, commit to checking your email at least twice a day.  Check it once in the morning and once at night.  Then, if you have the time, check it at other times throughout the day. Whenever I open my email, I immediately go through and delete anything that is not important like all those emails from stores I shop at so that I don’t get distracted. Once that is done I go back and open all the ones that are left. This helps me stay on top of them all and ensures that I don’t miss anything.

Another tip that I have for keeping your emails organized it to unsubscribe from any email that you don’t care about.  I get tons of emails a day from stores and other junk that I never open because I don’t care. I many have had to enter my email at some point to purchase something or to get a discount, but I really don’t care to get their daily emails.  I try to go through those every now before deleting them and click “unsubscribe” at the bottom of the email.  You don’t really need all that junk in your inbox. 

Declutter your email! Get rid of unwanted mail by unsubscribing, Sort your important emails into folders. Flag those emails that require an action. Delete anything that isn’t important, and check your email at least 2 times a day. These steps will make life easier and that red dot will go away. I promise!

Anchored and Organized,

Organization Hack: Chore Chart

In an attempt to be organized this summer while my kids are home, and to give them some accountability and responsibility while keeping them off electronics all day, I am working on a daily chore schedule.  My kids have never had a set chore schedule.  They know they are responsible for keeping their rooms and bathrooms clean, and they do the dishes and other odd jobs when I tell them too, but they have never had a set schedule.  I definitely think that we have done them a disservice in this area, so I really want to work on fixing that this summer.  Part of the problem is that during the school year, they are never home.  My oldest pretty much goes straight from school to practice and gets home anywhere from 9:30-10:30 every night depending on the night. Somewhere in there she has to study and do homework, so there isn’t a whole lot of time for her to do chores.  We don’t think it is really fair for one to have to do all the chores while the other one gets out of it because of practice.  Our weekends are pretty much booked during the school year as well with meets, competitions, and traveling.  This is why I think the summer is a perfect time for them to take on more responsibility with keeping the house clean.  There are certainly things that they can do each day to help me out.  

My husband and I have also been discussing the fact that we need to really teach them how to manage their money.  We even discussed opening an account in each of their names where they deposit money and learn to keep up with all of it. When I was young (probably around my youngest daughter’s age), I won a monetary reward for a paper that I had written. I think it was $50 maybe. Anyway, my parents took me to the bank and opened a checking account in my name. I got to pick out my own cute little checks, and I thought I was the coolest thing. I was responsible for keeping my checkbook balanced and depositing money that I earned or got as gifts. It was a great lesson for me at that age. We really want our kids to learn that important skill while we are around to help them. I doubt that we will be getting them checks (Who really uses them anymore?), but we could get them a debit card. I was thinking that this daily chore schedule could tie into that because they could earn money for doing their jobs.  It is all about teaching them to be more responsible, be held accountable, and how to manage their money. 

I have been working on a chore chart to get the ball rolling on this, and I want to start it next week.  I have assigned each of them a job to do every day, and each job has a monetary value attached to it. Here is the schedule I have created.   

Monday: Laundry

I typically do laundry on Mondays.  I will continue to wash and dry the clothes and sort them into the designated baskets. They will be responsible for folding and putting away their own clothes as well as towels. 

Tuesday: Dust

They will alternate each week between dusting the main level of the house and upstairs.  For example: One week my oldest will be responsible for dusting every room upstairs and my youngest will be responsible for dusting every room on the main level.  Then they would switch the following week.

Wednesday: Vacuum

This will be the same as dusting. One will vacuum the entire main level and the other will vacuum the entire upstairs level. 

Thursday: Bathrooms

This is another alternating task.  Each week they will be responsible for cleaning their own bathroom, but they will alternate cleaning the master bathroom and the half bath on the main level. 

Friday: Basement

They will alternate cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming down there. 

Daily: Dishes

They will be responsible daily for keeping up with the dishes.  One week one of them will be responsible for loading and unloading the dishwasher all week while the other is responsible for hand-washing anything that can’t go in the dishwasher.  

I have created the chart below to serve as a visual reminder and for us to use to check off competed jobs. My husband or I will initial after inspecting each job and note if money has been earned or lost. I really think that these jobs are doable for them. They won’t take them all day, and it will give them some time away from their devices while teaching them a lesson.  They are not going to be happy about this when I first introduce it, but I think they will do it with ease by the end of the summer. I hope that it will become habit. I know that once school starts again, it will be way more difficult for them to complete their jobs, but I hope that I will be able to modify it slightly so that they can continue to contribute to the family and our home. I don’t think it is ever too late to teach them responsibility and to care for their things. Yes, I wish we would have been more strict about these things years ago, but now is the perfect time to start. 

Anchored,

Organization Hack: Journal Notebooks

Today’s organization tip is one that really works for me but may not work for you. I wanted to share it with you anyway, though, in case it could help get you more organized.  I have had people ask me how I keep up with all the things I am involved in and all of my entrepreneurial endeavors. I have a ton of things going on all the time, so organization is the key to keeping it all straight.   I showed you a few weeks ago how I uses lists on my phone for everything from groceries to a to do list. Those lists help keep me on track, but I cannot keep everything in my phone.  When I am at a meeting or doing training, it is harder for me to take notes and stuff on my phone, and I don’t want to carry my computer with me everywhere.  I am really more of a paper/pencil kind of person anyway.  I learn best from the act of writing it down.  For some reason writing it and seeing it on paper helps me to remember things better.  My solution to keeping up with everything is small journal type notebooks that are spiral bound.  I don’t really like regular spiral bound notebooks like my kids use for school for several reasons.  The first reason is that they are much larger and harder to travel with.  I like the journal ones because they are usually small enough to throw in my purse.  Second, I don’t feel like they are as sturdy as the journal books.  The journals tend to have thicker paper and a sturdier cover. Third, they just aren’t as nice looking or professional looking when I pull one out at a meeting. I also really prefer the spiral bound journals to the ones that aren’t because they are easier to manipulate when you can just fold them over.  I typically get mine at Target or Amazon, but you can find them at many different office supply type places.  I especially love the ones that have inspirational quotes on them. There are really so many pretty ones out there that cost a little more, but you can also find ones that are inexpensive that work just as well.  I will admit that I kind of have an obsession with them and tend to buy way more than I need.  My thought is that I never know when I will need to start a new one so why not grab it when I see one I love?

 I have one for everything.  For example, I have one for the blog where I keep ideas that come to me, ways to improve the overall look of my site, and more.  I have another notebook for my job as the Vice President of the parents club for my daughter’s gymnastics team.  I take it with me when I go to meetings to jot down notes, and I log any phone calls or other things that I do for that position.  I have one for each of my businesses.  I use them to take notes on trainings, ideas, and other important information that I may need.  I have one that I keep in my Bible case where I jot down sermon notes.  I even have one that I call my personal development notebook.  In it, I jot down notes from self-help books I read, notes from podcasts that I listen too, and things that I find motivational.  

Now, I know that you are thinking that it is a lot to keep up with, and it is.  That is why I mentioned at the beginning that this method will not be for everyone.  It is just what I use and what works best for me.  I keep all of these notebooks near me at all times when I am working at home so I can grab the one I need easily.  Then when I go to a meeting or training somewhere outside of my home, I just grab the one I need, throw it in my purse, and head out.  I do not label my notebooks, I just know which one goes for which thing by the cover, but you can easily label them if that is easier for you.  I just know that the purple stripes is for my Trades of Hope business, the pastel one is for gymnastics, the flower one is my personal development, and so on. This method really works for me.  It helps to keep me organized, and I don’t easily loose things that are important.  When you have a crazy life like mine (and most moms) where you have a lot of different things going on that you need to keep track of, it is really imperative that you find a system that works for you. The key is finding something that fits into your lifestyle and that is easy for you.  Your system is likely totally different than mine, and that is ok. Find what works for you and go with it. 

Here are a few of the journals I have and some others I really like from Target and Amazon. The links are in the captions.

Anchored and Organized,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission. 

Office Makeover

We have now been in our new house for almost 2 months, and we still are not completely unpacked and settled.  Life and lack of motivation have kept us from finishing.  We did get a lot done this past weekend because we forced ourselves to work on it.  Most of the main level is done except hanging pictures and my husband’s office. Everything upstairs is done except hanging pictures as well.  The basement on the other hand is another story.  It is a complete disaster of unopened and half opened boxes.  You can barely walk through where the girls’ playroom/rec room area is.  There is stuff everywhere.  Then there is the wall of teacher stuff that I never finished going through.  The media room is mostly done, I think.  We just have to make ourselves get it done. I know we will all be happier once it is finished.  No one wants to go down there now to do anything because it is such a mess. While the task is a little overwhelming, we all know that it needs to be done and done soon! 

My next project and area of focus, though, is my office down there.  It is also a complete disaster that you can barely walk through. I have a small area on the floor  carved out where I have a floor chair so I could make the shirts for my daughter’s cheer team a couple of months ago.  The room needs a lot of work.  The previous owner used it as a woodworking shop so the walls have a coat of saw dust on them that doesn’t just wipe off.  He had these big wooden shelves bolted to the walls to hold lumber that are still there and will need to come down eventually.  The walls will need to be repaired to cover the giant holes from the bolts. Plus, there is also a hole in one of the walls that also needs to be repaired. Once all of that is done, we can begin painting the walls.  We did have carpet installed over the concrete floor, which is nice.  I tend to work on the floor a lot so I wanted something soft to sit on.  I am not sure how far down the road it will be before we can get the walls done, but I can’t leave the room the state that it is in much longer because I cannot find anything.  Plus, you really can’t get to the walls to make any repairs at the moment! That leaves me to the project of unpacking and going through boxes upon boxes of stuff that hasn’t been unpacked or seen since we moved almost a year ago from Georgia.  

As far as furniture for the room, I already had a worktable that houses my heat press and silhouette machine.  I also have a small, old desk that actually belonged to my mom when she was a kid and that I used growing up. I have mainly used in the past just to store things because it doesn’t really work for me as a functional desk.  It needs a new coat of paint and some repair as it has been moved around for many years and is not the most stable desk in the world. Oh, and I also have a small cube shelf that I picked up at Walmart a couple of years ago for more storage. Other than that, I had no other furniture to fill the large space or a decent desk for me to use. My husband has a nice cherry, manly desk that we have had for years that goes in his office. I have never really used it other than to store notecards and the printer.  I’ve never had a desk that was just for me since we got married, and I feel like I need one to keep me more organized. Ikea to the rescue! We made a trip to Ikea this past weekend to shop for office furniture for me.  I ended up getting a customizable desk so that I had the space and added storage that I need.  Basically, I chose a large tabletop with two different storage units to act as the base of the desk.  One storage unit has 5 drawers and the other has 4 drawers with one drawer being for hanging files. I didn’t want anything overly fancy.  I wanted something that was functional for my needs and that didn’t cost me a fortune.  I chose to do it in all white for a clean, modern, and sleek look.  I also purchased this drawer unit to store all of my vinyl for crafting projects. I would eventually like to also get this taller drawer unit and something similar to this shelving unit to go behind my desk. Those are definitely purchases for down the road, though. Of course, since I got a new desk, I also had to get a new chair. I really need a chair that is comfortable. I sat in several chairs before choosing.  It felt like the one I chose had good back support for me while still being comfortable. Because of the carpet, I also had to get a plastic mat to go on the floor so the chair will roll.

Now that I finally have a desk, I am feeling a little more motivated to tackle the room and the boxes. I can’t put the desk together until I clean out the space to make room for it. I totally have a vision for the space, but it is going to be a long time before the full vision comes to life.  My wallet (and husband <wink>) will only allow me to do a little at a time. I cannot wait for it all to come together, though. I will be spending a lot of time down there so I want it to be perfect. I have to get out of this recliner in the family room where I have been sitting to work everyday.  It is killing my back and hips! Plus, I feel like there will be less distractions when I am working in my own office that just contains the things I need to work on.  I will be keeping you all posted with the transformation so that you can see how I organize everything.  It will definitely be a work in progress for many days to come.

Anchored,

Organization Hack: Makeup Storage

By now you have all learned that I am all about being organized, but I am also all about function. It is great to be cute and organized. However, if it isn’t really functional for you, it just won’t work long term.  Your system has to be organized AND functional for your lifestyle and day-to-day routines.  I have had a couple of messages asking about makeup storage.  I will tell you that it took me a while to find a system that is functional and organized, but I finally found what works for me. Keep in mind, though, that my system may not be a system that is organized and functional for you.  It is important to find something that works for your lifestyle.  I will share with you some of the different systems I have used over the years.  One of them may appeal to you more than another.  I will also share with you what worked about each system and what didn’t. 

In my early makeup wearing days (middle school), I kept my makeup in a big makeup bag.  I know that this is what a lot of people do. At the time it was somewhat functional because I could just throw it in an overnight bag and carry it with me when I went over to a friend’s house or traveled for sporting events or something like that. I was always on the go back then.  It wasn’t so functional for me in that I could never find anything quickly.  It was just a jumbled mess. It wasn’t organized at all.  I also hated that makeup would get on everything in there and I just felt like it was dirty all the time.  While this system was somewhat functional, it wasn’t organized. Check out these cute makeup bags below if this is a system that you think can work for you. Links are in the captions.

Then I moved on to the trusty old Caboodle.  This system kept my makeup more organized.  Everything had its own place.  It wasn’t nearly as messy, and I didn’t feel like there was makeup all over everything like in the bag. Caboodles made a comeback a few years ago and you can still find them at Walmart, Target, or on Amazon. They now call them “vintage.” My youngest has one that she keeps her play makeup in.  The problem with this system for me was that it wasn’t functional.  It was too big.  It wasn’t easy to carry it in my overnight bag because it wouldn’t fit or it took up too much room.  While I felt cool and cute, it just wasn’t the perfect solution for me.  It was organized, but it wasn’t functional. I eventually went back to the makeup bag.

Years down the road, I started keeping my makeup in the drawer of my vanity.  I organized it using these little trays from Target. This method was very organized and pretty functional.  I had things separated by categories.  I had eye shadows together, brushes together, lip sticks together, etc. This system worked well for me for years.  Then one day I got tired of having the drawer open and having to lean over it to use the mirror to apply my makeup.  I thought that there had to be a more functional system.  That is when I came up with the system that I use now.  I have a basket that is divided into sections that sits on top of my vanity (similar-Amazon). This clear plastic option from Amazon work work the same way.  Mine contains the makeup items that I use daily as well as the hair care products I use and my perfume.  This prevents me from having the drawer open all the time.  I still use the drawer with the trays.  They now contain the makeup that I wear less often and tools such as my eyelash curler and nail tools.  I keep all of my brushes in a cup that I got from my favorite Broadway show, Wicked.  It just add a personal touch to the top of my vanity. All of my stuff is organized, and it is functional.  It is easy to see what I have, and it easy to grab what I want and apply it.  This system really works for me. Now, when it is time to travel, I do have to pack my stuff.  It isn’t quite as easy as just throwing the cosmetic bag into a suitcase like before, but I am ok with that.  When I travel, I use a hanging organizer that I got from Thirty-one, but you can find them in many places.  I like this because it has pockets and sections to keep things separated and easy to locate, and I like being able to hang it up in the hotel bathroom for easy access.  Check out these cute hanging bags below.

You can see how I have evolved my system to one that is the most functional and organized for me now. Let me know what you use. I am always open to new ideas and ways of doing things.

Anchored and Organized,

Organization Hack: Lists

I have mentioned several times that I use lists for everything to help keep me organized.  I have had a few questions about how I keep up with my lists, so I thought I would share what I do with all of you today. I NEED lists.  I could not function without my lists.  If it isn’t on a list somewhere, it isn’t getting done, or I will forget it totally. I know this about myself.  I know that my memory gets worse and worse the older I get.  This is why lists are crucial for me.  In all honesty, I prefer handwritten lists.  The act of writing it down and seeing it in my handwriting is just how I process things. When I was in high school and college, I would recopy all of my notes as a way of studying.  That is how I have always learned and remembered things best. It is just how my brain works.  I actually prefer keeping my lists in a notebook.  Unfortunately, it’s not easy to carry a notebook around with you at all times.  I do have a small notebook that fits in most of my purses that I keep some things in like lists of my children’s medications, doctors and their phone numbers and addresses, and things like that. I also use it when I am in the doctor’s office with one of my kids to write notes on or things I need to remember that the doctor says.  Otherwise, it goes in one ear and out the other ear. Even the small notebook isn’t very convenient.  It isn’t always near me. The one thing that is ALWAYS within arms reach of me is my phone. I have had to train myself to keep my lists and notes in my phone instead of the notebook.  I will tell you that it wasn’t easy transitioning to this form of list making.  While it is not my preferred method, I have had to adapt.  I still do fear loosing my phone or things getting accidently deleted, but I just have to suck it up and use it anyway because it is what works for my lifestyle of always being on the go. 

I have tried many different reminder and lists making apps over the years, but what I have found that works best for me is the simple note pad app that comes on every iPhone.  In this app, I am able to create different folders based on my needs.  For example, I have a folder for this blog where I jot down ideas, lists of things I want to write about, and things I need to do. Sometimes, when I am driving, an idea will come to my head and I will start voice texting the post into a note. I also have folders for my Trades of Hope and R+F businesses where I keep things I want to post on social media or things I need to do. There are folders for gymnastics where I keep scores and meeting notes. There are even still folders from when I was teaching with lists of things I needed to do or buy or ideas I had. Then I have a generic folder where I keep everything else. That folder is really the heart of my note taking and list making.  It is where I keep lists of things that I need to pack for a trip. There is even a permanent Disney packing list in there too.  I keep lists of books I want to read and TV shows that people recommend.  I keep a running list of the groceries I need and just add to it as we run out of things. I have a permanent to do list that I just keep adding more and more things to.  If you can think of it, there is probably a list for it in there.  My whole life is in that notepad.  To loose it would be detrimental!

The one thing that I don’t like about the notes app is that I can’t cross things out.  I get a lot of satisfaction out of crossing things off of my list.  However, I have adapted yet again and now have a different system for crossing things off the list.  I use the green check emoji to “check off” things that I have done.  It is not the same level of satisfaction as physically crossing it out, but it serves the purpose. I keeps me on track and lets me know what I have left to do. I love it when I seen green check marks everywhere.

As you can see, it is pretty simple to keep up with all the things that you need to remember and do if you train yourself to do it. I have found that lists really keep me organized and prevent me from missing things that are important. I live and die by my lists and my calendar in my phone. Without those 2 things, I would be totally lost. I encourage you to find a system that works for you. You may find a different app that works better for you than what I use. It is just trial and error until you find what works best. If you are still a pen and paper lover like me and just can’t transition to the digital world, I encourage you to use a small notebook. It just keeps it all in one place versus having a million little notes all over the place that can get misplaced. Having things written down (however you choose to do it) really helps to keep you organized.

Anchored and Organized,

Organization Hack: Over the Door Shoe Organizer

Today I want to talk to you about a simple over the door shoe organizer with clear plastic pockets that you can get at places like Walmart, Target, or Amazon. Sometimes you can even find them at your local dollar store. This simple thing can be used in so many ways other than just for shoes.  I recommend that you use the ones with clear pockets so that you can see what is in each pocket easily.  These also come in a variety of sizes.  Some are short, some are long, and they have varying numbers of pockets.  You can pick the one that best suits your needs.  While these are meant to hang on a door, you can also hang them on the wall using command hooks. There really are a number of uses for this simple organizing tool. I have compiled several uses for these from other bloggers to give you an idea of how this simple, inexpensive thing can get you organized easily. 

The possibilities are endless, but one of my favorite ways to use these is to organize toys.  You can use them in your child’s bedroom or in a playroom.  For years, my daughter had one on the back of her closet door that we used to store Barbie Dolls and all the accessories that come with them.  All those little shoes, clothes, and other tiny pieces were organized and stored in there.  They were easy to see, easy to access, and easy for her to clean up. You could also use them for things like Matchbox cars, Shopkins, LOL dolls, action figures, and more.  My girls collect the small Beanie Boos, and this would be a great way to store them or other stuffed animals as well. You could even use them for Legos and sort them in the pockets by color or shape. 

Another way I have used them before is for long vacations.  We once did a 10 day trip to Disney, and I packed one of these organizers in my suitcase. We used it to hold everyone’s toiletries and things so that they weren’t taking up space on the one bathroom sink that we had.  Yes, I know I am weird, but it worked.  It kept the bathroom neat and tidy for the whole trip.  I have also seen people take them on cruises.

These are also great for use in the kitchen. You can hang them on your pantry door or somewhere else in the kitchen.  You can even hang small ones on the back of cabinet doors. You can use it for snacks, spices, kitchen utensils, food packetswater bottles, and more. 

Check out these other uses too. The possibilities really are endless.

Office Supplies-Source
Hair Supplies-Source
School Supplies-Source
Coat Closet-Source
Cleaning Supplies-Source

As you can see there are tons of uses for these shoe organizers. You can even hit up Pinterest for even more ideas, including a spice garden.

Anchored and Organized,

Disney Packing List

As I have mentioned before, my family and I have been to Disney World many times over the years. It has been a favorite for us for many years.  I feel like we are kind of pros at it by now.  I always have people asking me what they should pack for Disney. I know that before I headed to Disney for the first time with my kids years ago, I was all over Pinterest looking for tips and tricks and what to pack.  I read blog after blog of all the things that people suggested that you bring.  I remember making this massive list of things that I needed to pack before we went on that first trip as a family. Our suitcases were filled to the max.  Then, I ended up carrying this massive backpack loaded down with so much stuff that I was miserable at the parks each day.  My back and shoulders ached every day from lugging that heavy thing around.  What I have come to learn over the years was that I really didn’t need as much stuff as I packed or that I was carrying around.  Yes, when your kids are younger, you are going to need more things.  I totally get that, but you don’t have to bring 10 million things just because you think you might need it.  I have compiled a list of the essentials that I think you really need, but just know that you have to figure out what is best for your family.  Not all of these are things that you will carry with you to the parks.  Some are things that will be helpful in the hotel. I have come to learn that less is more. You really don’t need everything that everyone suggests you bring.  I promise! 

1. Anti-Friction Stick (Amazon)

This is the #1 thing that I make sure we have each trip besides sunscreen.  When I first started using one of these, Johnson and Johnson carried something called Band-Aid Blister Block, which I loved. You can no longer find it in stores, and it is ridiculously priced on ebay and Amazon now.  However, any kind of anti-friction stick will work the same way, like the Dr. Scholl’s one above.  I didn’t learn this trick until after we had been to Disney a few times.  If you have never been there, please note that you are going to be walking for miles every day that you are there.  Your feet are going to hurt and they are going to get blisters.  That first Disney trip, we were all wearing Band-Aids all over our feet because we had so many blisters.  Since I discovered the blister block, we never get blisters when we go anymore.  You just rub it all over your feet and toes on the top, bottom and sides, put on your socks and shoes, and then you will be good to go.  This stuff is amazing.  

2. Tennis Shoes (Under Armour)

I will tell you that my opinion is that the best shoes to wear at Disney are athletic tennis shoes with socks.  Some would argue with me, but I have found no other shoe that works better for all the walking you will be doing. You do not want to wear shoes that will easily come off on rides like flip flops.  You want a shoe that is supporting your feet and ankles, that won’t cause blisters (don’t go with brand new shoes that have never been worn), and that are comfortable. There are lots of water rides where you will get soaked and your shoes will get wet. Plus, it rains daily in Florida, even if only briefly, and your shoes will get wet. No one likes walking around in wet shoes every day. I personally bring a back-up pair of shoes with me that I keep at the hotel in case my shoes aren’t dry by the next day.  That is totally a personal preference, though. These  Under Armour sneakers are my favorite right now.

3. Extra Socks (Amazon)

For the same reasons as listed above, make sure that you bring extra pairs of socks.  Your socks will get wet! I typically pack 2 more pairs that the number of days we will be there. You can choose to bring them with you in the park if you are someone that hates having wet socks like me or you can just have spares in your suitcase in your hotel.

4. Ponchos (Dollar Tree)

As I mentioned, it always rains in Florida! I don’t think that there has ever been a time when we were at Disney that it hasn’t rained at least once while we are at the parks.  Just this past weekend, it rained 3 days that we were there. I highly recommend that you go to your local dollar store and buy multiple packs of the cheap ponchos.  Trust me, you don’t want to have to buy a super expensive poncho in the parks! You have two options when it comes to dealing with wet ponchos. You can either bring zip lock bags (or plastic grocery bags) to put the wet ones in when you no longer need them, or you can buy multiple and just throw the used ones away when done with them.  Either way works.  I do not recommend that you bring an umbrella.  There are just too many people around to carry an umbrella, and it just adds weight to your backpack. 

5. Sunscreen (R+F) and Face Stick (Amazon)

This is right at the top of the list with the anti-friction stick. They probably tie for first.  You are in FLORIDA, the SUNSHINE state! You will need sunscreen.  It is essential to apply is every morning before you leave for the parks, reapply it at lunch, and then reapply it again in the afternoon. Sunscreen is ESSENTIAL! I cannot stress this enough.  I recommend an SPF of 30 or higher.  If you use anything lower, you will get burned, especially if you don’t reapply. My favorite sunscreen is Rodan + Fields Essentials Body Sunscreen.  It has a light, airy feel to it.  It doesn’t go on thick and it doesn’t make you feel slimy. I prefer to use a face stick sunscreen for my kids’ faces.  I do not recommend spray sunscreens for a couple of reasons. First, they tend to leak and get all over stuff in your bag.  Second, they do not provide as good of coverage as liquid sunscreens do. You will miss spots with a spray.  Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your ears and in the part of your hair.  Those places are prime spots for sunburns that people often forget.  

6. Cooling Towels

Disney has Mickey and Minnie cooling towels that you can purchase in the parks.  They do cost a little more but I highly recommend them. I have seen others recommend the Frogg Togg Chilly Pads (Amazon), which are good, but I do not like them as much as the ones that you can get in the parks.  I don’t like the feel of the Frogg Togg (Amazon) ones or the fact that they get super stiff when they aren’t wet.  No matter which you get, I recommend that you have at least 2 of some kind of cooling towel. It is HOT in Florida! You can get over heated, even in the winter months.  These towels really help to keep your body temperature down.  My kids absolutely love using them.  As you can see, my oldest loves tying hers around her head to keep her head cool, and my youngest likes it draped around her shoulders.  Make sure that you bring them in a zip lock bag so that you can store them back in it without getting your bag wet.

7. Hand-sanitizer clipped to Back Pack (Amazon)

You will need hand-sanitizer.  When you eat lunch or grab a quick snack in the parks, you will want to wash your hands. Clipping it to the outside of your bag makes it much easier to locate whenever you need it.  I promise you that it will be often! 

8. Band-Aids (Target)

A small thing of Band-Aids like this one is all that you need. I do recommend this flexible fabric kind as well.  They hold well in the most tricky of spots even when wet.  If you need anything larger or more than this package contains, there are first aid stations in every park, and they are extremely kind and helpful.  We had to go to one when my nephew was stung by a bee, and the staff there was amazing with him.  

9. Portable Charger (Amazon)

This is essential! I do not recommend that you bring a camera with you to Disney.  It is just one more bulky, heavy thing to carry and keep up with. Trust me, I carried around my big heavy camera for years. It isn’t worth it. This means that you will be taking lots of pictures with your phone. You will be checking ride wait times on your phone.  You will be handing your phone over to little ones for entertainment in long lines. Trust me, you will be using your phone a lot so your battery will get low and you will need to charge it.  A good portable charger is essential! This is the one that I have, and it works great and holds a charge for a long time. 

10. Multi-port USB wall charger (Amazon)

If your family is like mine, you have multiple devices that you need to charge at night including your portable charger from above.  It is nice to have a multi-port USB wall charger that you can easily use to charge multiple devices. These work great to charge phones, watches, portable chargers, and tablets all at once in your room over night. 

11. Sunglasses with Straps (Amazon)

Again, Florida is the sunshine state, and you will want to have your sunglasses with you at all times.  I highly recommend that you also have a strap on your sunglasses so you can easily just let them hang around your neck as you go inside or are waiting in line inside somewhere.  The strap is also good for rides to keep your sunglasses from flying off.  

12. Travel Tissues (Amazon)

I always bring one thing of travel tissues because it is inevitable that someone is going to need one every time that we go.  I have told you before about my hypersensitivity to sounds and sniffling is one of those sounds that makes me nuts.  I like to have tissues on hand for anyone I hear sniffling. 

13. Stroller Fan (Amazon)

If you have small children and you will be using a stroller, I highly recommend that you get a clip on stroller fan.  It will help to keep your little one cool. How cute is this lion one?

14. Ribbon or Scarf for Stroller

Another thing that you will need if you are using a stroller is a brightly colored ribbon or scarf that you can tie around the handle of the stroller. This will allow you to easily find it in a sea of strollers when you park it for a ride.  My brother-in-law even put his favorite college flag on his stroller which could be spotted a long way away.

15. Breakfast Foods

When we lived close enough to drive to Disney, I always packed breakfast foods, plastic utensils, and bowls. When we fly to Disney, I will go to a store nearby and grab a few breakfast items.  I have found that it saves time and money if we eat breakfast in our hotel room before heading to the parks.  You could have yogurt, cereal, milk, muffins, pop tarts, fruit, etc. to eat in your hotel room.  

16. Small Convertible Backpack (Vera Bradley)

For the things that I carry into the park, I like to use a small backpack purse.  I do not like using a big regular sized backpack because it is cumbersome and can get heavy.  I also like ones that can be converted into a crossbody bag as well.  This one from Vera Bradley would make a great bag to take to Disney.  

These things are the things that I think are essential for a successful Disney trip.  Now, some may say to pack many other things including snacks and water.  I have done that many times.  However, it is more stuff to carry and my kids inevitably would rather have a Disney snack over anything that I brought anyway. The other things that others suggest are all great but I don’t think that are absolutely necessary. Now, use what I have suggested as a guide based on your family’s needs. These are just the things that work for my family. Obviously, you will need to pack essentials like clothes, toiletries, swim suits, etc. These are just the things that I think are extra that will make your trip smooth, easy, and fun. After all, it is the place where dreams come true!

Anchored,