Laundry’s Gotta Get Done!

by Tina ~ April 30th, 2015

One thing that all my clients (and I) have in common, whether they live alone or with a large family, is LAUNDRY. It’s a necessary part of life, but with an organized routine and laundry room, it doesn’t have to be a major undertaking.

laundry basket

 photo credit: Day 86: “Laundry Night” via photopin (license)

Organizing Your Laundry Routine

Some people let their laundry accumulate all week and blitz it all in one day. If that works for you, great! But if you’re finding you can’t get through it all or if you’re tired of giving up a whole day to laundry, there are other approaches that might work better for you. One option is to toss a load in the washer before you head out in the morning, transfer it to the dryer when you get home, and put it away after dinner. This will allow you to stay on top of the laundry without eating into time you’d rather be spending on something else.

Save time sorting by having separate hampers for whites and darks, whether they’re in a central location or you have a set in each bedroom. Even young children can learn to put their dirty clothes in the right hamper. Keep a separate basket for items that need to be hand-washed, and designate a spot to place dry cleaning so it doesn’t get forgotten.

Instead of placing all the clean laundry in one container, keep a set of stackable baskets on hand. Use one for each room and sort the items accordingly. This will save you handling everything more than once.

You can sort, fold, and even iron clean clothes in front of the TV so you don’t feel like you’re giving up your evenings to laundry.

Teaching teenagers to do their own laundry will cut down on your workload and eliminate complaints that their favourite outfit isn’t clean when they want to wear it. At the same time, you’re preparing them for adulthood!

Make it easy for children of all ages to keep their clean clothes off the floor so they don’t end up in the laundry needlessly. Regularly removing clothing they’ve outgrown from closets and dresser drawers will keep those spots from becoming overcrowded and hard to access. You might also consider placing a coat tree in your child’s room or attaching hooks to the wall, making sure they are at an appropriate height.

Even if you have your own laundry equipment, laundromats are a great option for those times when you have an overwhelming amount of washing to do, such as after returning from a family camping trip, so you can do several loads at one time.

If you need to go to a laundromat or the laundry room in your condo or apartment complex, try to go at off-peak hours if your schedule allows it.

Organizing Your Laundry Room

Like any other job, laundry will be much more enjoyable if you have a pleasant environment to do it in.

Natural lighting is ideal, but isn’t always an option. Just make sure that your laundry room is well lit so you can identify and properly treat spots and stains before they go through the wash cycle.

Use your laundry room to store anything related to maintaining your clothing, such as mending supplies and spare hangers.

Housing detergent, fabric softener, spot removers and other products behind closed doors will keep them away from small children, keep your laundry room tidy, and allow you to keep tabs on when you need to buy more.

 

Contemporary Laundry Room by Redwood City General Contractors K.G.Bell Construction

As shown in the above photo, it’s not necessary to have a large laundry room to be organized, but if you have the space for one, a table or countertop will provide you with a great flat surface for sorting and folding clean laundry.

Create a spot for hanging articles that can’t go in the dryer, whether it’s a rod with hangers, a collapsible rack, or a retractable clothesline.

A foldaway ironing board will also save space and keep your laundry area neat, while making it easily accessible when needed.

Keep a couple of small baskets in the laundry room – one to hold stray socks until their mates reappear (unless you’ve taken my advice about buying all socks the same) and one to hold small objects that you remove from pockets. Of course, you don’t want to leave these things in the baskets indefinitely, but it’s better to give them a temporary home than to let them clutter up your laundry room where they’ll get forgotten. Labelling your baskets will make it even easier for you and other family members to keep track of things.

Assign each family member a specific sock colour. Not only does this speed up the sorting process, but you can usually save money by buying multipacks. When all socks are the same, if one goes missing or gets holes it in, it can still be matched up with others from that pack.

What’s your secret to keeping laundry under control?

“Get to work” – Setting up a Home Office

by Tina ~ March 18th, 2015

As computers play an increasingly important role in our lives, the home office has become an essential space for many families. Whether you have the opportunity to do some or all of your job from the comfort of home, run a home-based business, or simply need a spot to manage your household finances, you’ll be more productive when you have a comfortable and distraction-free place to work.

As with any organizing project, your first step is to plan your space.

If you happen to have a spare room, you don’t have to look too hard for your ideal spot, but don’t worry if you don’t. With a little imagination, you may find another area that can either do double duty or be converted to a home office. Here are a few examples:

  • Spare bedroom: Replace the bed with a sofa-bed so you can see clients in your office and still use the room for overnight guests as needed.
  • Landing: Some houses, especially older ones, have enough space at the top of the stairs for a small work area.
  • Dining room: Place the table next to a wall to use as a desk and move it out from the wall when you’re entertaining. A portable filing unit can easily be moved out of sight on those occasions.
  • Closet or alcove: Install shelves to create a compact home office.
Transitional Home Office by Boston Interior Designers & Decorators Twelve Chairs

If there’s simply nowhere for you to set up a dedicated office space, consider investing in an attractive armoire desk that will house your computer and other office supplies. Because you can close it up when you’re not working, it can sit in your living room or bedroom without interfering with your décor or your personal activities.

Eclectic Home Office

Be sure that your desk or workstation includes enough flat workspace for spreading out papers, assembling product orders, or any other tasks you may need to do. Proper lighting and a comfortable ergonomic chair are also essential, especially if you’ll be spending many hours on your computer.

You don’t have to break the bank to outfit your home office. Some people have created their own desk by placing one or more boards across two small filing cabinets. There are also many places in Toronto to purchase good quality used furniture, including Of Things Past, Elegant Garage Sale and foc!

Even if you don’t need a lot of workspace and are comfortable just using your laptop or tablet in whatever room strikes your fancy, I recommend that you have a dedicated spot to keep it when it’s being charged or not in use, as well as to store your files and office supplies.

When creating your home office, in addition to being functional, you’ll want it to be a comfortable room where you can enjoy working. Enhance your space with plants, artwork, desk accessories and office supplies that suit your personality. Office Candy has a great selection of fun file folders and other items to help you personalize your home office. Depending on your work style, you may also appreciate a bulletin board and/or desk blotter covered in fabric or wallpaper to match your décor.

Setting up your home office is just the beginning – you’ll need to develop strategies to organize it and help you to keep it that way. For inspiration, read about my work in Becky’s Studio and Steve’s Office and consider ways to adapt their systems to your own office.

Need help getting started? Contact me to find out how Spot On Organizing can help you.

Is your loved one challenged by chronic or situational disorganization?

by Tina ~ February 25th, 2015

disorganization

 
If someone you care about is struggling with clutter and disorganization, you may be wondering what you can do to help.

The first step is to determine whether they are chronically or situationally disorganized.

Situational Disorganization

The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) states that

“situational disorganization occurs when one finds oneself in clutter or chaos for a short period of time, resulting from an unusual turn of events or changes in living arrangements.”

We’ve all been there at one time or another. Being ill, caring for a sick family member, moving, and changing jobs are all examples of the types of situations that may disrupt our routines and cause temporary disorganization.

Offering a helping hand to get things back on track may be all that’s needed, but it often helps to bring in a professional organizer who can create systems that will make it easier to stay on top of everything the next time life throws a curve ball.

Chronic Disorganization

Chronic disorganization, on the other hand, goes much deeper. In her book, Conquering Chronic Disorganization, Judith Kolberg states that

“Chronic disorganization that has a long history, undermines one’s quality of life on a daily basis, and recurs.”

Rather than resulting from a short-term situation, chronic disorganization may be caused by a number of different factors, including neurological conditions, mental health issues, and addictions.

Unless you are a trained professional, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to provide the type of support that is required by someone who is chronically disorganized, but you can encourage them to seek treatment for the underlying problem.

To help determine whether your loved one is chronically or situationally disorganized, and to develop a plan of action, the ICD offers a number of free downloads, including:

  • Are you chronically disorganized?
  • Are you situationally disorganized?
  • Common characteristics of individuals challenged by chronic disorganization
  • Factors associated with disorganization
  • Should I hire a professional organizer or work with a friend?
  • How do I find a professional organizer that’s right for me?
  • Readiness for change

Hoarding Disorder

In 2013, Hoarding Disorder was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). More serious than either situational or chronic disorganization, this disorder has come to public awareness through such TV programs as Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive.

A person who has hoarding disorder experiences an irrational, persistent difficulty in discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.  Over time, they’ll collect so much clutter that it becomes next to impossible to live in their apartment or home in a normal manner.

It is estimated that hoarding disorder affects somewhere between 2 and 6 percent of the population.

(Source: Hoarding Disorder Symptoms, PsychCentral)

Here are some interesting facts about compulsive hoarding:

All About Hoarding Infographic
All About Hoarding – An infographic by the team at Bingham Self Storage

If you suspect your loved one may have Hoarding Disorder, you may find it helpful to read How to Talk to Someone with Hoarding by Cristina M. Sorrentino. As with any mental illness, you can encourage someone to seek professional help, but you can’t force them to do so.

Recommended Reading

  • Digging Out: Helping Your Loved One Manage Clutter, Hoarding, and Compulsive Acquiring, by Michael A. Tompkins & Tamara L. Hartl
  • Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding, by Jessie Sholl

The Emotional Side of Clutter

by Tina ~ February 11th, 2015

emotional clutterIn a previous blog post, I said that organizing memorabilia is different than other kinds of organizing because your focus isn’t so much on the practical value of the items, but on what they mean to you.

However, emotional attachment isn’t limited to old photos and other keepsakes. For many people, the thought of getting rid of any of their belongings is stressful.

Here are some of the most common obstacles to clutter-clearing that my clients report.

“It’s worth a lot of money.”

Have you bought something only to come home and realize it was the wrong size or colour, or that you didn’t really like it after all? Maybe it was on final sale and can’t go back, or you just didn’t get around to taking it back within the time allowed. Every time you see that item, you’re reminded of the money you wasted, but keeping it isn’t going to bring back your money; it’s just going to make you feel worse.

“I might need it one day.”

Are you afraid to get rid of things in case you need them again in the future and can’t afford to replace them? If your parents grew up during the Depression, they may have instilled this mindset in you, even if you’ve never been short on funds yourself. Although it may be practical to a certain extent, accumulating large quantities of items that can be acquired at a dollar store is not, especially if they’re taking up valuable space in your home.

“I’m going to wear it when I lose weight.”

You might, but there’s a good chance it won’t even be in style by then. Instead of motivating you to stick to your diet or fitness program, it probably just makes you feel bad. You’re better off treating yourself to a new outfit as a reward once you reach your weight loss goal.

“I’m going to use it someday.”

This is especially common when it comes to hobbies and other pastimes. Whether it’s exercise equipment, a musical instrument, craft supplies, or something else altogether, these items often represent activities that you no longer engage in, and maybe never did. Be honest with yourself. Do these objects really have a place in your life?

“I don’t like it, but it was a gift.”

People give you presents because they want you to be happy. If keeping that item is contributing to your clutter and making you unhappy, do you really think that’s what your loved one would want?

“It reminds me of a special time/place/person.”

It’s wonderful to keep things that bring back happy memories, especially if they’re well-organized so you can really enjoy them. But keeping everything takes up too much space and doesn’t set the extra special ones apart from all the rest.

Sometimes it’s better not to be reminded of certain times in our lives. Do you really want to surround yourself with memories of your ex, for example?

If you can relate to any of these obstacles, understanding why you are attached to certain objects is the first step to letting go.

Start with something small and see how it feels. You may be surprised at how liberating it can be!

10 Steps for Planning an Organized Space

by Tina ~ January 28th, 2015

10 Steps for Planning an Organized SpaceMany clients contact me after completing a DIY organizing project, only to find themselves back in the same situation after a few weeks or month.

What went wrong? They jumped into the project with both feet, without taking the time to draw up a plan first.

Although it may seem like more work, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration by following these steps for planning your organized space.

Step 1 – List the activities that take place in each room.

It may be helpful to download a Room Function Chart from Peter Walsh’s book It’s All Too Much. This handy tool allows you to capture:

  • The room’s current function
  • The room’s ideal function
  • Who uses the room
  • Who should use the room
  • What the room needs to contain in order to support the activities that take place there
  • What has to go

Print several copies, so each family member can fill one out for every room.

Step 2 – Create a vision of your organized space.

Hold a family meeting to review your completed Room Function Charts. Use the information to set common goals and plan a vision of your organized space and how to make it reality.

Step 3 – Identify which activity zones are needed in each room.

Activity zones are the basis of Julie Morgenstern’s Kindergarten Model of Organization, as described in her best-seller, Organizing from the Inside Out. If you look at a kindergarten class, you’ll see that it’s divided into zones for the various activities that take place there: music, art, reading, snacks, and so on. This same principle can be applied to your home.

For example, a child’s bedroom may include zones for sleeping, playing, getting dressed, and doing homework. Your kitchen likely requires zones for food preparation, cooking, dishwashing and storage, food storage, and household information.

Step 4 – Determine what supplies are needed for each activity.

Items should ideally be stored in the rooms in which they’re used. If you only read in bed, why keep the books in the living room?

Keeping things where they’re used most often will minimize the need to carry things back and forth and reduce the temptation to just leave something where it is instead of putting it away.

Step 5 – Assess your available space.

Now that you’ve identified the best place to store various items, you’ll need to figure out how much will realistically fit in each space.

Keep in mind that you can maximize your vertical space by using bookcases, cabinets, shelves, or hooks. Built-ins help make the best use of your space, as do double duty furnishings with drawers or shelves.

Consider storage units you already own and what you may need to purchase, but don’t buy anything just yet.

Step 6 – Map out your space.

Within each room, plan your zones around your natural habits and preferences.

Do you prefer to read by a window or a lamp? Plan your reading zone accordingly.

Be sure to also consider the relationship between various activities. For example, setting up a reading or homework zone near the TV is not recommended for obvious reasons.

Although there’s specialized software for creating floor plans, you don’t need to go to that much trouble. You can simply use regular graph paper or a free online tool such as Floorplanner.

Step 7 – Draw up a schedule.

You’ll most likely need to rearrange some of your furniture and storage units, and to move supplies to their newly created zones. Figure out the best time to do this, and be sure to allow more time than you think you’ll need so you’re not rushed. You may need to bring in some burly friends or paid help to handle some of the heavy lifting.

Step 8 – Move everything that needs to be moved.

Pause to give yourself a pat on the back – you’re almost done!

Step 9 – Identify what storage units, if any, are needed to complete the plan.

Once everything is in its new home, you’ll have a better sense of how well it all fits.

Now that all like items are gathered together, you may find that you have more than you need. Get rid of the surplus before you figure out if you need to buy any baskets, bins, shelving, or other storage units.

Step 10 – Develop routines to maintain your organized space.

Although organizing your home into zones will help you confine items to the area in which they’re used most often, you still have to make an effort. Getting in the habit of dealing with paperwork as it comes in and filing things right away will go a long way towards keeping clutter under control.

So there you have it: 10 steps for planning an organized space! If it feels a bit overwhelming, keep in mind that Spot On can help you through any or all of the steps. Contact us for more information.

Setting up Your Files for the New Year

by Tina ~ January 14th, 2015

organized filing systemThe start of a new year is traditionally when we begin developing new habits: more exercise, less junk food, more productivity, less clutter… you know how it goes.

January is also the perfect time to set up or update your filing system, and not just because you’re already thinking about making improvements. For individuals and most home-based businesses, it also represents the beginning of a new fiscal year.

Where to start

If you don’t yet have a good filing system, this is not the best time to deal with the backlog. Just take all your old papers and put them in a box (or multiple boxes, if you have a lot). Once you have your new system set up and it’s working for you, then you can deal with the old stuff.

If you already have a good system in place, now’s the time to archive or destroy your oldest files and set up new files for this year.

What papers to keep

Everyone has a number of VIPs (Very Important Papers) which should be retained for as long as they’re valid, and sometimes even permanently. Your VIPs may include any or all of the following:

  • Adoption papers, birth certificates, baptism and confirmation records
  • Business ownership papers, patents and copyrights
  • Citizenship and naturalization papers, passports, social Insurance cards and numbers
  • Financial accounts, credit card information, debts
  • Educational records, employment records, military records, identity cards
  • Family history, marriage certificates, divorce papers, death certificates
  • Household property inventory, safe-deposit box inventory
  • Income and expense records, net worth statements, investment records, pension plans
  • Insurance policies, funeral and burial plans and records
  • Medical records, veterinary records
  • Memberships and subscriptions
  • Property appraisals, deeds, titles, easement papers
  • Tax records (Refer to Canada Revenue Agency for their requirements)
  • Warranties, guarantees, and owner manuals
  • Wills and trusts, powers of attorney, advisers and contacts lists

(Source: Organize Your Important Household Papers, eXtension)

How to get rid of old documents

For your protection, any documents containing personal information should be shredded. You have essentially three options:

  • Take your old paperwork to a local office supply store or shredding facility
  • Hire Enviroshred to pick up your old records for safe destruction
  • Buy your own shredder, ideally one with a cross-cut design to prevent reassembling of the pieces

How to set up a new filing system

Your filing system consists of three major categories, which should be stored in a way that makes the best use of your available space.

“Active Hot Files” are items that you receive and access daily, weekly, or monthly. These should be kept close at hand, whether they’re in a drawer beside you, sitting in a hanging file box on your desktop, or on floating shelves within easy reach.

Since you rarely need to access many of the VIPs listed above, there’s no need for them to be kept in your living or working area, especially if you don’t have a lot of space. They may be tucked away in a closet or anywhere else that’s out of the way but can be accessed when needed. If you decide to store any files in your garage or basement, be sure to use plastic rather than cardboard boxes to prevent damage from moisture.

As you sort out the rest of your paper, they’ll generally fall into categories such as taxes, banking, utility bills, manuals, resources, references, and so on. Each category will need its own heading on a hanging file and a separate file folder for subcategories. For example, in the hanging file labelled BANKING, you would have a separate file folders for each bank where you do business.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to use the boring filing cabinets you see in offices all over the city. Create a system that suits your décor and your personality!

 

Traditional Home Office by Birmingham Interior Designers & Decorators AMW Design Studio

For more details about this process, read how Spot On helped to organize Becky’s Studio and Steve’s Office.

photo credit:  tpholland via photopin cc

Preserving Family Memories

by Tina ~ November 12th, 2014

Does thinking about de-cluttering make you anxious?

You’re not alone! Many people associate de-cluttering with getting rid of stuff – but although that’s part of it, it’s really about separating the things you use and value from those that are just taking up space.

There’s absolutely no reason that you can’t hold onto photos and other keepsakes. They’re a wonderful way to keep your memories alive, both for yourself and for future generations.

Before you go tossing those mementos in a drawer or storage box, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Is this the best way to store these items so they don’t get damaged?
  2. How easy is it for me to enjoy them and share them with others?
  3. If something happens to me, will anyone know the significance of them?

Organizing them into scrapbooks can be a fun way to while away cold winter nights, and it will help to preserve your memories (both literally and figuratively) for many years to come.

If a particular item is too large to put in a scrapbook, consider taking a photograph (or a few) of it, and donate or sell the item itself to someone who can put it to good use.

Ready to start? Here are a few places to find great supplies:

  1. The Paper Place
  2. The Papery
  3. Essence du Papier
  4. Wonder Pens
  5. Hanji Handmade Paper
  6. Write Impressions
  7. Above Ground Art Supplies
  8. B&J Trading

(Source: The Best Card, Paper and Stationery Shops in Toronto, blogTO)

Once you get into scrapbooking, you’re probably going to start collecting a lot of different types of paper and other supplies. That’s okay, as long as you have a way to keep it organized so you always know what you have.

If you’ve got a spare room available, you might like to convert it to a craft room:

Contemporary Home Office

You can also fit a scrapbooking area into a smaller area:

Eclectic Home Office by Atlanta Interior Designers & Decorators Designing Homemaker

For best results, the Scrapbook Preservation Society recommends the following:

  1. Store photos and scrapbooks somewhere cool and dry.
  2. Use preservation-quality scrapbook materials.
  3. Photocopy newspaper articles and ultrasound images onto good quality white paper, and store them in polypropylene page protectors. These will last longer than the originals.
  4. Use pigment ink pens that are fade-resistant, lightfast, bleed-proof and waterproof.
  5. Never use rubber or latex adhesives.

Are you a scrapbooker? Send me a picture of your favourite scrapbook page, and I’ll post it on Spot On’s Facebook page!

How to Organize Your Closet for the Change of Season

by Tina ~ October 22nd, 2014

messy closetHas the cooler weather got you down?

Do you feel like hiding in your closet, but there’s no room?

I can’t do anything about the weather, but I’ve got some great ways to free up space in your closet!

5 Steps to an Easy Closet Switchover

1.  What’s working?  What’s not?

Someone I know had a closet with two bars, one in front of the other. This allowed her to simply move her summer clothing to the back and her winter clothing to the front every fall, reversing the process in the spring. Most of us don’t have that option, so we need to be more strategic.

Start by deciding what type of clothing you’re likely to wear over the next several months. Take everything else out and  put it in a spare room closet, cedar chest, or plastic tote that you can store under your bed.

2.  Edit

What items are essential to you?  Apply Spot On’s D.W.M.S. strategy:  Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Seasonal.

Space in your home is valuable real estate.  Make sure that what is in your closet reflects the life you are living now!  If something no longer fits you or your lifestyle, pass it on to someone else.

Refer to my list of Toronto consignment shops and community or charitable organizations accepting donations.

3.  Don’t delay!

Be realistic. If you didn’t wear something last winter, how likely is it that you’ll wear it this winter – or ever?

If you struggle with letting go of things, call Spot On. We can help you through the process, with respect and a sense of humour.

4. Design your closet space

Think about how you want to use your space.  What do you want to hang?  What can be in a drawer, open basket or lidded container on a top shelf?  Using the proper tools will make it easier to keep your closet organized. I’ve included a list of my favourite closet organizing products below.

5.  Keep at it

Once you’ve organized your closet for the coming winter, be sure to stick to your system. Whenever you buy a new article of clothing, unless it’s needed to fill a major gap in your wardrobe, get rid of an old one.

When spring comes around again – and it will, I promise! – you’ll need to repeat this process. The good news is that it gets easier every time you do it.

5 Essential Closet Organizing Products

1. Over-the-Door Shoe Storage

Using the back (and/or front) of the door will greatly maximize your storage space, and these organizers are great not just for shoes, but also for scarves, hats, purses, and other small items.

2. Under-the-Bed Storage

Although not technically for organizing your closet, these plastic totes allow you to store out-of-season or seldom-worn clothing outside of your closet so they’re not taking up prime real estate.

3. Shelf Storage

Make good use of your shelf space by using small containers that you can easily pull down for putting away or retrieving items as needed.

4. Bin Labels

Organizing items in bins, either inside or outside your closet, is a great strategy, but if you have more than one or two, it’s easy to lose track of what’s in each one. Clearly labelling each one with the contents will help you find what you need much more quickly and easily.

5. Thin Velvet Hangers

These hangers take up less room than bulky wooden hangers, and they feature an extra bar for your belt, scarf or tie, so you can keep your whole outfit together.

To learn more about what we do here at Spot on Organizing check out our website at spotonorganizing.com or our profile at houzz.com.

Illustration © lenmdp / Depositphotos

Fall Organizing Checklist

by Tina ~ October 8th, 2014

Autumn is the perfect time to take account of what we’ve done, what we didn’t do, and what we’d like to do next year. ~Author Unknown

For many people, autumn is their favourite time of year: summer’s heat and humidity has passed, but the threat of winter storms still feels far away. It’s as if nature knows we need this transition period to wrap summer up for another year and prepare our homes for the coming winter.

I’ve created this handy checklist, inspired by P&G Everyday Outdoor Fall Organization Tips, to help you with your fall organizing.

1. Start by organizing and cleaning your garage and/or shed, so there’s room to store warm-weather items over the winter. (Read my Top Ten Tips for Organizing the Garage and Fall Organizing for Your Garden for help with this step.)

2. Clean seasonal items before storing them for the winter. This includes:

  • patio furniture and cushions
  • yard and garden equipment
  • barbecue
  • bicycles
  • camping gear

3. Clean and weatherproof your deck.

4. Inspect your roof and contact a professional if you see signs of damage.

5. Add weather-stripping around your windows and doors.

6. Disconnect and drain hoses.

7. Clean your drainpipe and gutters of leaves and other debris.

8. Start a gardening journal (more on that below).

For ready reference, print a copy of this checklist by clicking on the blue plus sign at the bottom of the post.

Creating a Gardening Journal

If you like to garden, a gardening journal will help you monitor your efforts by keeping track of planting dates, seed types, weather, and so on. Starting your gardening journal now, while you can still remember what you planted this past season, will be very helpful when it comes time to make your plans for next year.

There are lots of gardening journals on the market, including The Toronto Gardener’s Journal, but creating your own can be a fun project, and will allow you to customize it to your personal needs and tastes. Here’s all you need to get started:

  1. 3-ring binder
  2. Plastic photo sleeves to hold seed packets, photos, plant tags, and other small items – one for each garden bed or section of your yard
  3. Blank pages for writing on
  4. Permanent markers
  5. Photos of your garden
  6. Calendar

To learn more about setting up and using your journal, read Creating a Gardening Journal on About Home.

Next time on The B Spot, we’ll be moving indoors! Be sure to join our mailing list so you don’t miss out.

Photo by Vasiliisa / Crestock

Interesting facts that may increase your child’s productivity this back to school season

by Tina ~ September 24th, 2014

Increase your child’s productivity this back to school season

Not so long ago there was no way of bringing music to the library.  Nowadays students can bring their noise and music with them anywhere they go. As a parent, you may be concerned that using headphones will be a distraction.

Did you know?

  • A recent study by Clinical Psychologist Dr. Emma Gray revealed that listening to music can put students in a better frame of mind to learn and remember new facts. (Source: Listening to music while you study makes you smarter, Scoop Media)
  • A 2012 study showed that university students scored better on tests in difficult subjects when listening to music of their choosing. (Source: Music & Studying, Bankstreet College of Education)
  • For many students, listening to music can be an effective way to block out unwanted noises. (Source: How to Block Out Noise while Studying, Residential Acoustics)
  • Background music with acoustical variations can interfere with short-term memory performance, and listening to music with lyrics while reading can hinder comprehension. (Source: Don’t Listen to Music while Studying, Spin Education)
  • A student who listens to their preferred type of music while studying is more likely to be distracted, calming music is less distracting than arousing music, and introverts are more likely than extraverts to be distracted by background music. (Source: The Impact of Listening to Music on Cognitive Performance, Student Pulse)

Since there’s no clear right-or-wrong answer, you’ll need to monitor your child’s performance before you decide to allow him or her to listen to music while studying.

Kumon Learning Centres recommend 11 ways to help your kid stay focused this season:

  1. Set expectations early.
  2. Manage distractions.
  3. Establish rules for homework time.
  4. Do “homework” at the same time as your child.
  5. Create a designated place in your home for independent study.
  6. Restrict texting and phone calls during study time to homework-related questions.
  7. Offer incentives for completing assignments on time and without complaining.
  8. Use positive reinforcement and verbal praise.
  9. Communicate homework expectations to after-school caregivers.
  10. Work with teachers and instructors to establish short- and long-term goals.
  11. Learn what work style works for your child – including whether he or she studies better with or without background music.

For more study tips, be sure to read my last post, Organizing Kids for Back-to-School.

To learn more about what we do here at Spot on Organizing check out  our website at spotonorganizing.com or our profile at houzz.com.

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