Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Going with the flow for organising success

If you have ever tried to set up routines or organising systems in your home, but given up on them shortly after because they just don't work, or feel like waaaay too much hard work, then this post is for you!

Organising Style

I really believe that everyone has their own organising style which is as unique as their personality. What you like to do, how you think, the way you process and store information, your aesthetic style, your priorities - they're all unique to you. This is why I don't think there could ever be a "one size fits all" solution. Many people read books on how to organise, or buy specific organising products, and try to follow "the rules", only to get very frustrated that they can't get it right, and may even end up feeling that they are destined to be disorganised forever. But the problem is not that they just can't get organised - the problem is that the solution was just not right for them.
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Image courtesy of

For example, if you have read about setting up a Home Command Centre (aka launch pad or drop zone) near your front door to help get the kids organised and out the door quicker, but you find everything still ends up piled on the kitchen bench, then having the Home Command Centre at the front door is not the right solution for you.

Go with the flow

Implement systems around the natural flow of things in your home. If your "stuff" always gets dumped on the kitchen bench, then use that flow instead of trying to establish completely different habits - like placing a box for mail on the bench, and hooks on the end of the bench for keys and bags.
Also think about where the sticking points are for you - what are the most frustrating things that happen in your day which make you feel disorganised? Is it always rushing around trying to find your keys? Is it nagging the kids to hurry up because they can't find their school shoes? If you can identify these issues and put solutions in place which address them specifically, and in a place which fits with the natural flow of things, you are going to make a real impact on your organising success.
Would love to hear from you - what are your sticking points?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Why organising is good for the environment

Last week I had the unexpected pleasure of being invited to speak at the SUSTAIN Show, as another speaker had to pull out at the last minute. The title of my presentation was "Decluttering your way to a healthier home, life, and mind". I believe living an organised life has a direct benefit on our internal environment (body and mind) and external environment (home, work place, and global environment), and today I want to share with you some of what I spoke about at the show – how the old "reduce, reuse, recycle" is the central core to my role as a Professional Organiser, and how you can implement this in your home and life.

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  • Declutter – put items back where they belong, and get rid of stuff that has no current purpose or adds no value
  • Reduce what comes in – say "no" to junk mail, don't accept freebies for the sake of it, and opt for online bank statements and bills
  • Reduce what’s in your schedule and on your "to do" list, which should also reduce your stress
  • Reduce wasted time by establishing morning and evening routines, and have a designated home for the car keys and school bags, which should also reduce your stress
  • Reduce what you buy, and therefore what you spend, by using a meal plan and shopping plan – this will also reduce the food that you waste by only buying what you need when you need it and avoiding food expiring
  • Reduce the number of things you own by streamlining and using multi-functional products (I go through this with my clients when I help them get set up for their baby – rather invest in one item which can multitask and fulfill various functions for a longer period of time, than getting 4 different things). A good example is household cleaning products – you don’t need 15 different bottles of stuff in your cupboard; there are great natural multipurpose cleaners on the market these days, or you can easily make them yourself (again, Pinterest has a wealth of info on this) 


  • Repurpose what you can at home – storage boxes, nappy boxes, clothing, etc. Pinterest has zillions of clever ideas on how to repurpose items around the home. Don't assume you need to go buy more stuff
  • Get involved in collaborative consumption. Check out this fantastic TED talk by Rachel Botsman explaining this rising phenomenon. My favourite quote is “you need the hole, not the drill”. Some of the local collaborative consumption sites here are Open ShedRentiod, and Freecycle.
  • Donate – pass things you no longer need on to family and friends, or donate to charities like St Kilda Mums, Fitted for Work, Men’s Shed, Footpath Library
  • Sell items you no longer need on Ebay, Fishpond, or Gumtree, so that someone else can get use out of it


  • Very little should land in your bin after a decluttering exercise – you should be able to find a way to recycle just about everything (and if you cant – call me and I’ll find it for you!) 
  • There are loads of private companies out there these days who recycle mattresses, e-waste, ink cartridges, mobile phones, CDs and DVDs, XRAY films, you name it! Plus stores like Bunnings, Officeworks, and Ikea have recycling bins for things like batteries, lightbulbs, and mobile phones. Check with your local stores what they can accept
  • At the very least, find out how to dispose of items responsibly, don’t just chuck it in the bin or leave it on the nature strip. Check what programs your local council has, as some have specific e-waste and chemical waste collection days

Coming from an environmental science background, this is obviously all very close to my heart and I can go on about this all day, but I'll restrain myself! As always I would love to hear from you if you have anything to add, or questions to ask. Just comment below!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

HOW TO :: 10 Week Christmas Countdown

Yes, it's true. Only 10 weeks to Christmas. If running around from one shop to the next with crowds of other frantic people is not your idea of fun, then try this rather...

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Obviously the amount of planning required will depend on how you typically celebrate Christmas - is it a large family feast, or a small low key gathering? Perhaps it's multiple events with different groups of people? In our household we usually have a celebration with friends a week before Christmas, and then with different family groups on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Whatever Christmas looks like for you, planning ahead will avoid last minute rushing and stress, and make it all much easier and more enjoyable.

Step 1 - Write some lists

  • For each event, you'll need a list of potential dates and venues, and a guest list.
  • You'll also need a list of people you want to buy gifts for, and ideas of gifts to buy. (It's also a good idea to keep a list at the back of your diary or on your phone, to note gift ideas as you come across them throughout the year)
  • Write a To Do list for each event. This again will depend on the scale and complexity of your events. Do you need to arrange for extra tables, chairs, and dinnerware? Do you need to plan a theme and source appropriate decorations? Do you need to plan the menu and delegate menu items to other people? Include everything on your list, even the obvious things, as we will use these lists to create a timeline in the next step. For example: Ask Mum if we can have it at her house this year; write the shopping list for the meal, do the grocery shopping; wrap the gifts... etc. Put it all on there!

Step 2 - Draw up a timeline

  • Use a calendar / diary / spreadsheet - whatever works for you - to plot out the 10 weeks you have between now and Christmas. The trick here is to only use one timeline, regardless of how many events you're planning.
  • Using a different colour for each event, start slotting in all the items on your To Do lists into the 10 week schedule. Doing this digitally (on your phone or computer) is an easy way to be able to move things around easily, but if you prefer a paper-based planner, try use different coloured Post-It notes (rather than writing in different coloured pens) to keep things flexible. This allows you to shuffle things around to find a schedule that's going to work, and also allows you to make adjustments if life gets in the way and things don't happen in the week they were supposed to! 
  • Start with the most time-sensitive activities, and then work backwards from there to slot in other things which are dependencies (for example - if you want to have all your grocery shopping done 1 week before, you will need to have your shopping list done 2 weeks before, and your meal plan and delegation done 3 weeks before). 

Here is a simple example of a 10 week countdown:

10 Weeks - Write lists for venues and dates, and discuss with potential hosts. Write guest lists. Start gift ideas list (if not started already).
9 Weeks - Discuss dates, times and venues with guests and finalise.
8 Weeks - Decide on a theme and plan decorations and table setting. Write a list of requirements and delegate to guests.
7 Weeks - Arrange to borrow / hire additional furniture and dinnerware if required.
6 Weeks - Start buying gifts, wrapping paper, gift tags, and cards, as well as decorations if required.
5 Weeks - Check with guests for dietary requirements. Plan the meal and delegate ingredients or full dishes to guests.
4 Weeks - Put up the Christmas tree and decorations. Send Christmas cards via mail. 
3 Weeks - Do non-perishable grocery shopping. Gift-buying should be complete by now.
2 Weeks - Wrap gifts and write cards / gift tags. 
1 Week - Clean the house (and BBQ if required). Do the final grocery shopping.
1 Day - Do as much food prep as possible. Arrange the furniture and set the table.

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Do you have any other fabulous ideas for a smooth running festive season? I would love to hear from you, just comment below!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

101 Uses for Command Hooks

Being a renter, I have always relied on my trusty 3M hooks and picture mounting strips. But then through the wonders of Pinterest I discovered all sorts of creative ways to use them - from storing pot lids to hanging curtain rods, and everything in between, and subsequently I use them a lot with my clients. (Here is a little Professional Organiser's secret...Ssshhhh don't tell anyone I told you! If you are struggling to keep your horizontal surfaces organised - use your vertical surfaces! Hooks, hangers, wall-mounted hanging organisers, etc - piles can't form on vertical surfaces)

I have started my own Pinterest board to collate my findings, and would love you to contribute if you have any more clever ideas. I have no doubt we can find 101 uses! Please comment below telling me how you use Command Hooks and email me photos if you can - I'll pop them on my Pinterest board (crediting the source of course!!)

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Visit my Pinterest board

How I use 3M Command Hooks 

Two of my biggest irritations at home... 1. rattling blind cords flapping about in the wind when we leave our doors or windows open, and 2. wet cloths hanging over the tap or left on the side of the sink.
Problem solved!!

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Here are some other ways I have used them in my and my clients' homes:

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The extra large hooks I used to store extension cords also work wonders for hanging large laundry baskets on the wall above the washing machine or laundry trough - great to get them out of the way and stop wasting valuable surface area in the laundry.

So please get commenting - I can't wait to see how you have put these fabulous little things to use!

* Please note this post is not sponsored by or in any way affiliated with 3M - this is purely my opinion and experience.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

How to Detox Your Home in 4 Easy Steps

This week I am thrilled to have Pearl from Resparkle as my first guest post. Enjoy!

Ok so perhaps you've embraced the organic lifestyle, an avid juicer or now a gym bunny, but do you still find yourself struggling with brain fog, sleeplessness or suffer from sensitive skin/sinuses? The culprit could be the quality of indoor air you breathe daily. Yes, indoor air is among the top 5 environmental risks to health according to numerous studies done in the US.

Common health problems that result from exposure to poor indoor air quality include: sensory and skin irritation; neurotoxic symptoms; hypersensitivity and odour and taste symptoms. Long term symptoms such as cancer and respiratory disease may be caused by long term, periodic exposure to chemicals.

While we do not have much direct control over the fumes & pollution we’re exposed to outdoors, we can take control in our homes. In this article, I share 4 easy ways to detox your home so it is a truly healthy sanctuary that you can retreat to after a long day.

(1) Rethink Artificial Air Fresheners/Deodorizers

I’m a scent junky so I totally get that you want your home smelling good but artificial air-fresheners are a toxic cocktail of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs can cause nausea, headaches and even cancer. Did you know that at the back label of many air-fresheners actually says “Inhaling contents can be harmful or fatal”?? Check out a photo taken from a randomly picked air freshener from Coles:

Instead, scent your home with essential oils. It might be more expensive for that tiny bottle but a little goes such a long way.
Here’s an easy way to keep your toilet smelling great:

(2) Ditch the chemicals starting with the nastiest 

If you’re using chemical-based cleaners around your home, you are exposing yourself to unnecessary poisons. One of the most toxic offenders are bathroom or glass cleaners that often contain chlorine or ammonia. (Did you know mixing chlorine & ammonia was used as a weapon during WW1? Now why would you want that in your home?!)
Ditching chemical-based cleaners is perhaps the most impactful way you can adopt immediately.

A good resource when deciding on what cleaners to use is the EWG website (Environmental Working Group). It has a comprehensive list of cleaning products and rates them according to their impact on our health and environment.

So start switching to natural cleaning products and it is important to make sure the store bought ones are made of 100% natural ingredients. Many “green” brands that position themselves as “natural” often still contain nasty chemicals. You don’t want to be forking out a small fortune only to be still cleaning with toxic chemicals.
Resparkle’s range of organic cleaners are made from 100% natural plant based ingredients and the best part is it does not cost more than most chemical-based ones.

(3) Improve Indoor air & energy with plants

Studies conducted by NASA confirms that, the simplest way to purify and revitalize indoor air was to introduce plants in your home. They absorb toxic chemicals through their tiny openings in their leafs, filter them through their root system and the release pure oxygen into the air.
For example, the Boston fern can remove up to 1.8mg of formaldehyde per hour (a common cancer causing chemical found in furniture and particle board). The Boston fern is also a low pollen plant so if you’re sensitive to pollen, this is the plant to get!

Read more about how plants improve your health and what plants to get here.

(4) Detox your Garden: Don’t use pesticides: Use natural soap!

Yes, soap-based solutions have been used for centuries as all-purpose pesticides. They're nontoxic to the environment and to people — and they work on a wide variety of garden insects by disrupting their cell membranes and causing dehydration.
The key is not to use too much soap, or you'll also kill the vegetation near the pests. Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid soap, such as Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap (do NOT use detergent) into 1 quart water in a bucket, then transfer to a spray bottle.
If you need to get rid of weeds, just pour hot water or vinegar at the roots. It will wilt and die in no time!

Pearl, founder of Resparkle – Australia’s first & only certified organic cleaning products that truly doesn't cost the earth.