Thursday, December 21, 2006

How I organise my wallet

This is how I organise my wallet.

On the left I keep my cash/ debit cards – one is my personal bank account and the other is the business bank account.

The middle section has all my benefit cards from the stores – you can see Ster-Kinekor and Clicks sticking out. I also have my Fanatics card from Exclusive Books and in the pocket underneath, there's an Edgars cash card, Dischem and Mr Price Home.

On the right, my driver's licence is in the see-through sleeve. And then my 3 credit cards, each for a different purpose – one for groceries, one for any other household stuff that's not groceries and one for general spending. Now just before you jump to any conclusions, I use these as debit cards as I never buy on credit.

You can see I have a pen clipped there too – it fits perfectly.

Then the pockets...
  • The cash goes in the first one.
  • Any gift vouchers go in the zippered section – Clicks, Exclusive Books, etc.
  • And right at the back I keep my receipts until my weekly Budgeting Update day when they get removed.

The coins go in the zippered ouch at the back and my business cards go in the flap behind that. (If I get any other business cards while out, they go in my diary and then straight into Outlook).

Hope this helped you.

How do you organise your wallet?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dec 2006 - organising challenges

Here are this month's challenges

Week 1 - Baking stuff, pots and serving dishes
It's the first week of December!

Organise all your pots and baking stuff so that you're ready for all the cooking and baking you'll do later this month.You don't need two sets of measuring cups or spoons. If you have some old muffin pans, you can use them to plant seedlings or organise a drawer.

If there are serving dishes you've had for 5 years but never use, cook or bake something in it (casserole/ lasagna) and give it away as a present.

Take charge tip - Double up on some baking recipes and give the baked goods away as gifts. Arrange biscuits or muffins on some plates you don't like any more, cover with cling wrap, tie a red bow and there you have it - an inexpensive, useful gift.

Week 2 - Put up decorations and the Christmas tree & finish wrapping gifts
Decorate your house and put up the Christmas tree. Hang Christmas cards from a piece of string or attach to the side of your wall unit.

Finish wrapping your gifts and writing out gift tags. It's always a good idea to keep a few spare gifts around in case someone pops by and you don't have anything for them.

Week 3 - Finalise your menu and finish buying food
This is more important if you're hosting Christmas dinner.

Finalise your menu. If you'd like people to bring a dish, phone them now. Check your pantry and buy last-minute ingredients and drinks. Download your shopping list at

If you're having Christmas dinner elsewhere, make sure that you know what the host wants you to cook.

Merry Christmas!

Week 4 - Sort out your planning tools

All these challenges (plus more) have been packaged into an e-book called Organise your Home. Get your free copy now.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ali's organised closet

Here are some pictures of Ali's beautifully organised closet.

These are the summer clothes. Notice how the clothes are arranged by colour, with white and black on the sides, and the colours in the middle. I love how you can see everything at a glance, even the shoes. I'm sure she doesn't "forget" that she has any clothes or shoes because there are no piles.

In this photo, look at how the space on the doors is used well. This kind of space is often forgotten and, like in this case, is so easily made useful.
There are 5 hooks on each door for her jewellery (by the way, Ali also makes jewellery - if you go have a look at her site, you'll see her gorgeous stuff)

And here are her winter clothes. She uses a shoe organiser in this cupboard because you can see the space is less due to the bulk of the winter clothes. Even the kitten is comfortable here!

I was thinking how to introduce Ali to you but I think I'll let her do it herself. This is excerpted from her blog profile.

21st Century Nomad (currently putting down some roots). In April 2005 I left my job, friends, and family in the US and moved to Mozambique to work as a consultant. Some Brazilian friends of mine (including one who is now my boyfriend!) started a business here and invited me to take part as a fundraiser and grantwriter. We all used to live together in a small town called Chimoio, but now my boyfriend and I have moved to Maputo where we have a flat of our own. This blog is the story of my adventures, starting in Austin, passing through Rio, and ending somewhere in Africa.
Go visit her blog and remember to check out the jewellery.
Thanks for sharing your space with us, Ali.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The smallest bathroom in the world

A few months back in one of my mailings I told you I would blog pictures of the smallest bathroom in the world.

Well, here it is, my en-suite bathroom: From the front - the shower is to the right.

See how I use my wall space well...

And this view is from the top... in the corner, is a set of stackable green baskets - I use the top one for my make-up, the middle one for less-often used things, and the bottom one fits 3 spare toilet rolls very nicely

Of course, to balance this minute bathroom, for my main (guest) bathroom, we have one of the biggest bathrooms I've seen.

Only in Kensington!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Holiday Survival Guide

Hi all

Kimberly Fulcher just sent out a free e-book called Holiday Survival Guide. That ties in nicely with 3 of our challenges this month, so here is the link.

You can download it here.

Enjoy and have an organised week.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Nov 2006 - organising challenges

Christmas is just 6 weeks away so we have 2 Christmas challenges this month.

Week 1 – Start the Christmas cards
Make a list of people who you're sending Christmas cards to this year.

Buy enough packs of cards, divide the number by 4 (to ensure that you have them all ready by the beginning of December) and start writing some out every evening.

Tip You can also do a conveyer belt - one person writes the card, one does the envelope and the next one does the stamps.

Week 2 – Organise your guest room
You are going to make sure you have fresh sheets on the bed, that you have spare towels and guest toiletries and most of all, some space for your guests to put their clothes. I'm guessing that you'll have to do some decluttering too.

Most of us use our spare rooms as extra storage space so now is a good time to get rid of all the old things you're keeping there.

If you get this out of the way now, you don't have to go running around at the last minute if you have people to stay over Christmas or New Year.

Even if you're not having any guests, use this time and still declutter and organise the space, especially if you use the room for sewing or other crafts.

Week 3 – Make a list of gifts to make or buy.
Remember the special people in your life with a gift. Decide if you're making any or just buying. If you are buying, make a budget and stick to it. Remember to add in gift wrap and ribbon!Remember it is not worth going into debt buying gifts. It truly is the thought that counts

Buy plain rolls of coloured kraft wrap and gold or silver ribbon for a cheaper alternative. Try to give gifts that can be used so that recipients aren't faced with more clutter. If you google clutter-free gifts you will get plenty of ideas. There are also some great gift ideas at

Week 4 – Declutter tablecloths and placemats

Go through all the tablecloths to see which are stained, ugly or just don't bring you joy.

Remember, anything you don't love should go. When you buy new stuff, get in the habit of throwing something out or donating to someone. The old one in-one out principle.

The same goes for placemats. Last weekend I went through my sideboard drawer and found placemats that suited my previous house but not this one (country cottage vs more modern), so I gave them to my helper.

Have fun with this one and if you're really good, you'll have the space so that if you see something you absolutely have to have, you can reward yourself!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Some of my favourite travel tips

1. Start making lists ahead of time. These can include lists of things to pack, things to do, see, eat, etc. Download my travel checklist

2. Always take extra plastic bags for dirty laundry, shoes, etc.

3. You don't have to plan out each and every day but at least if you have a rainy day, you can look on your list and choose an indoor activity.

4. Count on buying things while you're on holiday so plan for this and take less with you. Our baggage allowance is 25 kg (hold & hand luggage) and I'm planning to take 18kg or less!

5. Decide on a colour scheme and stick to it… well, mostly. For instance, on this trip, I'm going for autumn (fall) colours like brown, yellow and orange, and also taking some clothes in military green.

6. Count the number of days you'll be away and plan just enough sets of clothes, remembering that you need more tops than bottoms. You won't use all so make a note of what you didn't use so that you don't overpack next time.

7. Pack travel size toiletries or if you have some old hotel toiletries, use those. I actually keep my toiletry bag permanently packed with everything except my Speedstick. Whether we're away for a long weekend or a long holiday, all I have to do is grab my Speedstick and I'm ready.

8. Take a backpack. There is a reason why these are so popular with tourists - your hands are free to eat, browse, carry your water (okay, that's for me), etc.

9. If you read the Bible, next time you go away, don't take the whole Bible. Simply go to a free online Bible site
and print out a chapter for each day you'll be away. You can try a different version of the Bible you usually use for added variety. The added convenience is that you don't have to bring these pages back with you.

10. Whether you're flying or driving, take any magazines or ebooks that have piled up around your house. You can catch up on your reading and again, leave the magazine or ebook in the airport lounge. I have about 4 Shape magazines to catch up on and yes, they're already packed.

Do you want to use this article? You may, as long as you include this complete bio with it: Marcia Francois, the Take Charge coach and professional organiser, coaches people to reach their goals and maximise their potential. She publishes the popular “Take charge of your life” monthly ezine. If you're ready to live your dream life, get your FREE subscription now at

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Sorting your clothes is easy as 1, 2, 3

This is my suggestion for purging your clothes closet.

Make 3 piles:

  1. Clothes you don't love anymore or that don't suit your lifestyle
  2. Clothes you love and that fit you
  3. Clothes that you're not sure about, for whatever reason
Then you action the piles

Pile 1 - donate or throw out
Pile 2 - organise in your wardrobe or on your shelves according to your personal preferences - by colour, style (smart, casual, etc), or season/ sleeve length, etc.
Pile 3 - move to another place in the house or to a storage container. Diarise a "to look at again" date. When you look at this pile again, fit everything on. You will be able to look at the clothes unemotionally and decide whether they deserve to take up space in your wardrobe (you want to keep them) or whether they need to be donated.

Last year when we moved into our new house I fit on ALL my clothes before I packed anything into my cupboards.

I made 3 piles:

1. Stuff I liked and that fit me (in the wardrobe)
2. Stuff I liked and that didn't fit me (in a spare wardrobe – deadline 1 November this year)
3. Stuff I didn't like and that didn't fit me (to the church's welfare box)

Well, I fitted on all the clothes (about 4 pairs of pants and 3 suits) from the spare wardrobe a few days ago (we'll be on holiday on 1 November) and most of them now fit!!! There is also a suit that fits but that I don't like anymore which is going to the welfare box this weekend.

The stuff that doesn't fit me nicely will also be donated.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Oct 2006 - organising challenges

Week 1 – Declutter your kitchen counter tops.
Do you really need everything on your counter tops?

Go around your kitchen with "new eyes" and see what you can declutter.You should only have things that you use more than once a week on your counter top. If, for example, you have an electric frying pan out that you use once a month, consider storing it in a cupboard and only taking it out when you use it.

Tip - use vertical space wherever possible. Instead of a canister with your cooking utensils, consider mounting hooks above your stove for them.

Week 2 – Organise your clothes on shelves.
I would suggest that you put all the clothes you frequently use at shoulder height and the rest either one shelf up or down.

I swop mine around every winter or summer and I find that it helps to keep my shelves neat and tidy. My jeans and T-shirts are now at shoulder height and the long-sleeved tops and jerseys have been moved a shelf down now that it's Spring.

Week 3 – Declutter and organise your recipe books and files.
This week, we are going to sort out all those recipe books in the kitchen. I know what it's like because I'm just like you.

You see some gorgeous books at the bookshop, imagine cooking all those delicious meals and buy the book. If you're lucky, you make one or two recipes and then that's it - they start gathering dust.

So our challenge is to sort the books into two piles - books I use (or have used) and books that just look pretty and take up space. Let go of the second pile to other cooks, second hand bookshops, etc. and free up some space in the kitchen.

Once you've decided on the ones to keep, buy a pretty magazine folder and keep them together neatly. I download things off the internet too and use plastic flip files to organise those recipes.

Now and again I go through them and throw out recipes I know I have no intention of ever making.

I don't know if I'm lazy or if I just prefer to cook more creatively but the only recipes I tend to keep are for baked goodies.

Have fun with this one - maybe you'll even get inspired to cook or bake up a storm this weekend. THink of me if you make any muffins (I LOVE baking muffins because they're so easy).

Week 4 – Spruce up your coffee & end tables.

Do you have an organising question for me?
Email your question

There are less than 3 months left before Christmas. Wouldn't you like to have an organised, peaceful Christmas? Go to to see how I can help you.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Do you need some distance organising help?

There are two types of people in the world:

Those that like to work alone and do things by themselves. If this is you, you are up to date with all the challenges and email me to tell me how you did and so on...

The second group of people read the challenge every week and say, "that is a good idea. I must get around to it sometime".

If this second person is you, then maybe you just need some ideas and encouragement.

You decide which area bugs you the most and I'll help you.

Go here to look at the 12 most common organising challenges

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sept 2006 - organising challenges

Week 1 – Organise your paper & plastic goodies.

This week, we're going to sort out all the cling wrap, foil, sandwich bags, bin bags, etc.

Dedicate a drawer or shelf for all these packs. If you have a wine rack you're not using, the bottle compartments work nicely to keep it all organised.What other ideas do you have?

You know those metal/paper ties you get in each pack of freezer bags? The ones that pile up because you only ever use 2 - 3 out of every packet? This week, we're throwing them out.

Week 2 – Organise your sideboard OR crockery & cutlery you use to entertain.
Really evaluate all the stuff - if you have 3 sugar bowls and you only ever use 2, give the other one away.

If you have 50 plates and the most guests you ever have over is 20, then use some of them as your everyday plates and get rid of the old, ugly ones. You get the picture...

Do the same for everything you keep in the sideboard but don't obsess - do 15 minutes a day so you're not overwhelmed. You can easily do a drawer or a shelf in 15 minutes if you don't get obsessive compulsive.

Remember, we're decluttering and organising, not detail cleaning.

Week 3 – Declutter and tidy your dressing table or any flat surfaces in your bedroom.
I want you to look around at any and all flat surfaces. Basically, we're targeting all those common dumping grounds like the bedside table, dressing table, top of chest of drawers, chair, etc.

Starting with one "hot spot" at a time, remove everything. Decide what you would like to keep there. Move all the other stuff to a box or basket in the meanwhile. Do not start putting these things away in the rest of the house - you'll get sidetracked!

Now organise the keepers. Do this same process for each of the other hot spots.

When you've done, you can then remove the box or basket and restore the other things to their rightful places, even if it's just to the laundry!

There - you're done. Now doesn't that feel good.

Week 4 – Declutter and organise your bathroom vanity and corners of bath.
A bathroom can be a place of peaceful tranquility or it can be a messy, cluttered space. And you don't have to have a big bathroom to have it feel peaceful. Trust me - I have one of the smallest bathrooms in the world so I know what I'm talking about (when I figure out the digital camera, I will show you what I mean).

Is your bathroom vanity cluttered with lots of stuff - knick knacks, soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste, etc, etc? See if you can't mount a holder on the wall to use up some of that vertical space.

Get a rubbish bin and look in that bathroom cupboard. Throw out all old medicines, shampoos, anything you're not using. You can donate some things like the shampoo you used once and don't like, and the old medicines must just be thrown out.

Decide to use your bath salts, bath oils and so on or give it to someone who will use it. When you remove all these things from the corner of your bath, you can finally see all the dust that has gathered there. If you do have a decorative bottle, wash off the dust and wipe it down.

This challenge won't take you longer than 20 minutes but it is going to make you feel so good! You can reward yourself by having a nice, long, bubble bath (men too)!

***introducing something new***
If you're seriously doing these challenges, then please take before and after pictures, and send them to me. I'll post the best ones on the blog to encourage the rest of the subscribers.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Spring has sprung!

Happy Spring Day!

Spring is the time of new beginnings, new growth and a new start!Even though the weather (here in Johannesburg) isn't really co-operating with the change of season, no reason for us not to start celebrating this new season.

Clutter stifles your creativity and the flow of any good things (like money, relationships, opportunities, etc.) into your life.

Think about which areas of your life are cluttered:
- your desk...
- your cupboards...
- your debts!
- your car...
- your garage...
- your to-do list...
- your relationships...

Don't get overwhelmed!
I want you to think about which areas you're not happy about and then jot down a few notes. Do it now.....I'll wait....

Right, now that you've made a list, it's time to take action.
Just do one thing every day for 15 minutes. If you do this every day in September, just imagine how much you can get done. (I made a business to-do list so I'll be doing this along with you).

If you need help,
go here. Bookings close for the Houghton workshop on Wed 6th September. Don't delay.

I will send out the monthly newsletter this weekend and also give you some testimonials from tomorrow's Organising Workshop. Also, look out for more information on Discovering Yourself early next week.

I'm only doing one of these workshops and then we're jetting off to Thailand!

Here is our
travel blog if you're interested -

Have a wonderful weekend!

Love and success
Marcia Francois

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Get more done!

The One-Minute TIP -

The twin secrets to getting more done are clarity and a sense of urgency.

When the phone rings and company is coming in 20 minutes, it's amazing how much cleaning can get done!

When you know exactly what you're trying to achieve, and know it must be done today, the same principle applies!

Never let "Murphy's Law" that work expands to fill the time available apply to you.

Have a sense of urgency about making those calls, getting those sales, finishing your most important projects.

Be a person of ACTION! Git 'er done!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I found some lists for you...

I found some great checklists for you here: You can try a few for free and then if you like her lists, you can buy the book. I bought the book a few weeks ago and I'm very happy.

I'm very careful before I recommend any products to my list but I can definitely recommend her stuff. Oh, by the way, I don't get any commission - I'm just a happy customer.

Don't you love lists? If you're coming to my organising workshops, you will get a free household organising file with 14 different lists and forms to help organise your life. (These are not the same ones here )

After this series of workshops is done, I will start selling the package of lists on my website, so if you ABSOLUTELY can't come, we'll miss having fun with you... but at least you can also buy online.
For more info on the workshops, read here:

Have a great week.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Aug 2006 - organising challenges

Week 1 – Organise your cleaning supplies.
This week, we're going to sort out all the cleaning supplies. Throw away ugly sponges and cloths in your kitchen and bathroom, and use up all those near-empty bottles. The aim is to reduce the number of cleaning products you use. If you don't enjoy using something, use it for everything in one week and get it done. Then don't buy it again. Last month, I mentioned that you can use one multi-purpose cleaner for almost everything.

***My challenge to you – I use dishwashing liquid, Handy Andy, Jeyes Gel (for toilets) and Teepol gel for everything else – showers, windows, car, etc. How many products do you use? Post your answers in the comments below.

Week 2 – Organise your photo albums or digital photos.
This week we are going to organise our photo albums or digital photos. This might take 15 minutes every day if you haven't done this for a while, or it might take just 30 minutes.

We have ours organised by periods in our lives, if that makes any sense. I have a set of 4 albums for baby & school years, university pictures, wedding and friends. Then we generally have an album for each holiday... but you know how it goes? Sometimes you really get into the whole picture thing and other times, you just can't be bothered.

If you take digital photos, use this time to sort those out too. Delete any pictures you hate, decide which you want to print and maybe burn some to CD.

Don't get overwhelmed - just do 15 minutes a day. You are going to be sohappy when it's all sorted out.

Week 3 – Tidy and organise all your jewellery.
For the guys, use this opportunity to sort cufflinks, belts, male accessories.

1. Firstly, throw away everything you don't love or use. Is there some item someone else will love or can use? Give it away.
2. Gather all the jewellery that needs to be fixed and diarise when you will take it to a jewellery store. If there are watches that need batteries, this is the time to schedule when you're going to get those attended to.
3. Now organise. You can use plastic ice cube trays to keep your things neat and tidy. Or stick a couple of hooks on the inside of your wardrobe (just underneath your goals list!) and hang your necklaces there.

Week 4 – Declutter and organise your document folders in Word and Excel.

This is something you have to do properly once and then maintain on a monthly basis. Remember the definition of organised is being able to find something in one minute or less (some people say 30 seconds but I know from personal experience it sometimes takes a few seconds just to focus!).

First step, open all the documents (I find that doing this 10 at a time works best). Delete those you no longer use. For the rest, keep a notebook next to you and start jotting down broad categories for your subfolders. You can then create subfolders and file.

Don't just file all your documents in My Documents. Name your subfolders the same way you think.

For example, in My Documents, I have a folder called Coaching. Subfolders in there are called Clients, and then the subfolders in there are my individual client names. Another subfolder is called Agreements for the different versions of contract I have, and still another is called Tools. In this one I have things like the
Find your Mission worksheet, my Debt Reduction worksheet, Time log, etc (tools I designed to help my clients). I also have a subfolder called Coaching Programmes, and mini subfolders for Love 101, Clean Sweep, Creating Reserves, etc.

I have another main folder called Organising tools. In there I have subfolders called Household (which has my
menu planner, cleaning lists, shopping lists, etc), Work (which has my daily planner and follow-up list) and Personal (which has my travel checklist {Dion and I each have our own customised lists}, weekly goals, health chart , etc. Now you get the picture.

One thing I want to mention - this filing system might not necessarily work for you and that's fine. Find something that works for you and organise according to that. You will only keep something up that gels with your style. If you're not sure, email me and I'll help you find categories.

Tip - when I buy e-courses, I paste each day's lesson into a Word document, so at the end of the course, I can delete the 10 emails and have one Word document for reference.

10 ways to save time for what matters most

It seems like everywhere you go, you hear the same message. I don't have enough time, I need more time, I'd love to exercise more, play more, __________ more (fill in the missing word) but I just don't have the time.

Here are a few of my favourite time-savers. If you have any more to share with me (and your fellow readers), please post them in the comments section below.

1. Do your grocery shopping when the stores are empty
I've started doing our weekly shop on Friday nights at 6.30. My favourite Pick & Pay closes at 7pm so the store is not very full and all of us shoppers are in "accomplish" mode so not a lot of browsing and so on. We're armed with our lists and get on with the job. I've saved at least an hour from doing the weekly shop on Saturdays like I used to do.

2. Whenever you cook, cook double
I cook at least double of everything for the nights when I have coaching appointments or consultations in the evenings. It then takes just a few minutes to defrost in the microwave and saves me about 30 minutes (you guys know I don't believe in spending a lot of time in the kitchen anyway, unless it's to organise something J ). You can freeze individual portions of just about anything – soup, rice, casseroles, etc.

3. When you return home from the shops, cut all your vegetables immediately.
Yes, it will take a bit of time, but it saves you time during the week when you're busy. Remember, you can spend some time every night getting out all your chopping boards, knives, etc. AND cleaning it afterwards, or you can do it once a week. I vote for once a week. Do the same for your meat and chicken if you separate it out for different meals.

4. Set up a menu plan for the week
I mentioned this point last month with regard to saving money, but the best part of it for me is that it saves me time. You don't have the indecision every night of opening that fridge or cupboard and wondering what to cook. It's already decided. Try it and see – you won't look back. You can download a
free menu planner off my website.

5. Choose your clothes in the evening
This is another underestimated time saver. When you choose your clothes in the evening, you can see if your shoes need to be cleaned, if all the buttons on your shirt are still intact, and so on. Then in the morning, and if you're like me, you need all the help you can get just to get out of bed, you're set to go.

6. Pack your lunch in the evening
Not only does this save time, but it also helps you to remember everything. I have a little cooler bag that I use to pack my lunch while supper is cooking (or defrosting). I pack my sandwich, cereal, yoghurt, my cup-a-soup and my two fruits.

7. Use TV time for other mindless tasks
I understand that TV is relaxation time but this works for me. I exercise with weights, wrap gifts, pack my bag, update my diary, sew buttons, go through my old magazines, etc, etc. all while watching TV. The list goes on and on. At least at the end of a show, I feel like I've accomplished something instead of just being a couch potato.

8. Tape TV programmes and watch them on video later
I'm a HUGE Dr. Phil fan and I tape the programme every day. If I had to sit and watch the programme live (well, first of all, it's right in the middle of the day) it would take an hour, or to be more precise, 58 minutes. Because I tape it and fast forward through all the ads, it takes only 43 minutes. The reality TV shows like Survivor, Amazing Race and The Apprentice are usually only about 37 minutes long. Just goes to show how they plug all the shows with ad breaks.

9. Batch routine tasks
Keep all your filing together so that you file 5 things at once. Make all your telephone calls at the same time. Write out all greeting cards for the month at one time. And wrap all the gifts at one time too – yes, in front of the TV!

10. Automate as much as you can
This is what I'm trying to do with the business more and more, like
automating this newsletter, so I can focus more time on my core genius. For example, I use the AutoText function in Microsoft Word extensively for all emails I write a lot, like questions on my coaching and workshops, my e-signature, etc. I'm actually also busy compiling these into a FAQ page which I'll upload to the website soon. I read a great tip in an online newsletter recently. Whenever you comment on a blog, make it meaningful and use the same wording as a post on your own blog. I did this with my spending fast post on the blog. By the way, I'm going to discuss lots more of these types of productivity-type tips at the Spring into Organising workshop.

Bonus tip - say no to things you don't want to do.
That's all I'm going to say because this is the topic for next month's newsletter!

Do you want to use this article? You may, as long as you include this complete bio with it:
Marcia Francois, the Take Charge coach and professional organiser, coaches people to reach their goals and maximise their potential. She publishes the popular “Take charge of your life” monthly ezine. If you're ready to finally live your dream life, get your FREE subscription now at

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I am a mother hen! What's your home organising personality style?

I found this interesting personality test that describes how you run your home.

I am a mother hen - see below...

You are a Mother Hen
You have the hands that build the foundation! Your home is your feathered nest.

There's no place like home! Or at least, that's the belief that you and Dorothy hold in common. You are the guardian of the group, making sure everything is running smoothly and according to plan. You talk about concrete things, what you can see, feel, and touch. And as far as your mode of action, you do what is right. Staying within parameters, and following the rules are at the top of your list.

The strength of any structure lies in its foundation.

You are very careful about every move you make. And when you are getting ready to undertake anything, you go into it fully prepared and with plan B, C, and D in your back pocket. Some people may view this attitude as pessimistic, but you are just being realistic. Things can and will go wrong, and you don't want to be caught out in the rain wearing cashmere.

You know instinctively that there is a right and a wrong, and you see it as your task in life to keep your world (as well as the that of everyone around you) on the straight and narrow as much as humanly possible. You are the first to volunteer to help out and can always be depended upon. When you hear the adage, “10% of the people do 90% of the work,” you are the 10%.

You have a gift. With your cautious nature, you won't be the woman caught with her pants down. When opportunity pops his head up, you will be the one fully prepared to take advantage of the situation. Everyone else around you is gifted as well, for you are the guiding force in any setting. Because of your involvement, things happen. You are the steady force that keeps everything running smoothly and the glue that holds it all together.

What about you?

Monday, July 03, 2006

July 2006 - organising challenges

Week 1 – Organise your shower/s.
Go through your shower caddy and throw away empty bottles of shampoo, shower gel, bits of soap, etc. Look at each item and ask yourself if it needs to be there. Make a commitment this week to use up the bits of shampoo and conditioner.

Do you have to put some Handy Andy and a scouring sponge in the shower? It takes just 2 minutes to clean a wall every morning and by the end of the week, you’ve done the whole thing. Might as well do something useful while you’re in there!

Week 2 – Organise the inside of your fridge.
Label the shelves of your fridge. I did mine about 3 weeks ago after reading about the idea on one of my
favourite blogs. I thought I’d see how well or badly it went before telling you guys about it. And... it is working great.

I did mine on blue post-it notes (medium size cut in half length-wise) so that if I wanted to change things, it would be easy.

I have labels for bread, milk, cheese, prepared vegetables, food to be eaten (this is the best one - lots of stuff used to grow mould in the fridge because we didn’t know what there was or what had to be eaten. Now it is sooo easy and I have not thrown food out for weeks), etc.

It is easy to pack things away in their proper place and you can immediately see if you need to replenish any foodstuffs.

Try it - you’ll be hooked.

Week 3 – Declutter your make-up and toiletries.
Let's start with the toiletries first. Set your timer for 5 minutes and go through everything in your bathroom. Gather all the stuff you don't enjoy using or that you only have little bits left. Maybe you were given some as gifts and you don't enjoy the fragrances. Take them to a shelter for homeless people or an orphanage. [I went to a Shape workshop recently and they asked all the ladies to each bring a toiletry item for someone less privileged. I think this is a wonderful idea and might just use this for my future workshops. It's R10 - R15 for us and means SO much to someone who needs it.]

Set your timer again and now go through your spare toiletries in your bathroom cabinets, or those from hotels, or in your suitcase (if you keep a travel bag packed like I do).

If you have lots of foam bath and don't have the time for long baths, then use it as shower gel or liquid hand soap. Old shampoo can also be used as liquid hand soap.

Now, onto the make-up. You gals know the drill - any eye make-up, especially mascara, older than 6 months and definitely older than a year should be thrown out. Also toss all old lipsticks and really anything that you don't love, that doesn't look good on you or has changed texture, shade, etc. Thick nail polish belongs in the trash.

Week 4 – Organise and clean your car.
Remove everything from your cubby hole, boot, side pockets, etc. and remove anything and everything that doesn't belong. Return items to their correct places and throw the rubbish away.

Now, give your car a good clean or take it to the car wash. Once clean, repack only those things that belong in your car. Make a point of doing a quick maintenance run every weekend when you're filling up with petrol.

In my car, I have my service manual, map book, sunglasses, CD case, notebook & pen, wet wipes and a few plastic bags. I also have my two canvas shopping bags in a box in my boot so my shopping doesn't tumble around. It is a good idea to keep a couple of plastic bags in your cubby hole for anything you need to throw away. Whenever I drive back from the gym, I always have a fruit (usually apples, my favourite) on the way back home and I throw the core or peels in a little plastic bag. At the end of the week, out it goes.

People often say how clean my car is and that it still smells new - that's because I don't allow eating (except for the fruit) or smoking in my car :)

P.S. I’m compiling these challenges into an e-book, which will be available at the end of the year.

Friday, June 02, 2006

June 2006 - organising challenges

I decided to post the organising challenge so that it's easy to reference and stay up to date. I will edit my post every week and write a little bit about each week's challenge, like I've already done for week 1.

Enjoy - each challenge won't take more than 15 minutes, or definitely 30 minutes if you're the type that loses focus quickly :)

Week 1 - Organise your sock and underwear drawer.
Throw out all those socks from 5 years ago that have seen better days. Any stretched, ill-fitting or plain ugly underwear must go. Treat yourself and go get some new things. You can still feel pretty (or handsome) underneath all your winter woollies. Use the bottoms of cereal boxes to partition your drawer and keep items neat.

Week 2 - Clear off the front of your refrigerator & tidy your spices and condiments.
Do you really need to have 50 magnets on your fridge? Many times a cluttered fridge makes the whole kitchen feel disorganised and out of sorts. Clear everything off and start with a fresh slate. Now put back only those things that you love or add value to your life - photos of loved ones, shopping list, menu for week, etc.
Throw out your spices if you've had them for longer than a year or two. Dried herbs lose their flavour after a year.

Week 3 - Organise your CD and DVD collection.
First off, go through all and decide if you still want to hold onto them. When was the last time you listened to or watched them? Has your taste changed? Are you hanging onto something because Aunty Mary gave it to you and you feel guilty giving it away?
Now, put them in whichever order you like – I do my CDs first by group, and then in chronological order. There is no right way – you need to organise according to how your mind works.
Lastly, pack them neatly in a CD holder, storage box or on a shelf. (Clicks has some lovely storage boxes for R29,99 that hold CDs, videos, photos, etc.)

Week 4 - Clear your desk by sorting out all physical and e-mail.
This week's challenge is two-fold - it's your desk at work AND at home. If you don't have a proper desk at home, it's the place where you dump your mail and all your papers! Now you know what I'm talking about!
1. Take a plastic bag and throw away anything that doesn't belong - old cups from the vending machine, bits of notepaper, all used envelopes, junk mail ads, pens that don't work, etc.
2. You should only be left with proper mail - bills to be paid, magazine subscriptions, letters and cards (does anyone still write real letters these days? On a nostalgic note, when I was at university, my friend Melody and I used to buy sheets of 100 stamps at the post office every couple of months!).
3. Diarise when you will pay the accounts and file any old, paid accounts.
4. Now for the email, delete, delete, delete. That is, delete anything you've already actioned, forwarded or read that you don't have to keep for reference. My goal is to delete about 200 emails daily - easy on a Monday when all my newsletters arrive, but it forces me to go through old folders daily towards the end of the week. What will your goal be?
5. Now, file the rest in your action, to read, and personal folders until your inbox is empty.

I read something really cool the other day. Do you ever get home, take the mail from the letterbox, read through it all and then take it back to the letterbox? No, of course not. However, most people treat their inbox like this! They read the email and leave it right there in the inbox. Just something to think about!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Transforming Your Junk Drawer by Maria Gracia

Ninety-nine percent of the people in this world have a junk drawer. So, I'm certainly not going to tell you not to have one.However, I am going to recommend that you organize it a bit so that instead of a junk drawer, it can be called your HELP drawer.Here are just a few simple steps to make this transition:

REMOVE EVERYTHING. Take everything out of the drawer and place it on top of your counter. If your junk drawer is removable, remove it from the track and turn it upside down onto your counter. You may want to lay a sheet of newspaper down first to help protect your countertop.

SORT. On your counter, begin categorizing each widget (i.e. thumbtacks in one pile, buttons in another, toothpicks in another, and so on.) By the way, when you come across a gadget that you can't identify, put it aside. Check with others in your family to determine if it a) can be identified, and b) if it is truly needed. If not, toss it.

FIND DIVIDING TOOLS. Find something around the house that you can slip into your drawer to keep these categorized items separated, such as an ice cube tray, drawer dividers, small boxes, or 3 oz Dixie Cups. Organize these separators into your drawer.

CATEGORIZE INTO COMPARTMENTS. Finally, begin replacing the items you are going to keep, ensuring that each categorized item is in its own place.You're done! Voila! One minute you have a Junk Drawer, and the next minute, you have a Help Drawer!

by Maria Gracia - Get Organized Now!
Want to get organized? Get your FREE Get Organized Now! Idea-Pak, filled with tips and ideas to help you organize your home, your office and your life, at the Get Organized Now! Web site

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Home Organization—Avoid These Five Common Mistakes

Home Organization—Avoid These Five Common Mistakes By Penny Johnson and Anne CalkinsTime and Space Unlimited LLC

Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition. The warmer, brighter days prompt us to clear out our homes as we put away heavy coats and blankets. Decluttering and organizing seem to have a greater effect on our surroundings than just scrubbing and dusting. Indeed, getting rid of excess clutter would eliminate 40% of the housework in the average home, according to the National Soap and Detergent Association.
Five common mistakes can thwart your springtime organizing projects. Avoid these blunders as you strive for a clutter-free home.

MISTAKE #1 – Buying storage containers first. When most people make the decision to “get organized”, their first step is to head to the store and buy a variety of plastic boxes and drawer organizers. Soon they find they are overstocked with containers that don’t suit their needs— the containers become part of the clutter. Do your sorting and purging first, then you will know exactly which storage tools to buy. Measure your space, count your items, decide on your style, then purchase containers. You may be surprised to find you don’t need nearly as many boxes as you thought!

MISTAKE #2 – Keeping things for the wrong reasons. You are paying room and board for your stuff. Is your stuff earning its keep? As you sort through your possessions, question yourself: “What value does this item bring to my life?” Just because you received that ugly vase as a gift, or you inherited it from Aunt Betty, or you bought it cheap at a yard sale, doesn’t mean you have to keep it now. Allow yourself to sell, give away, or toss those things that have no positive meaning in your life.

MISTAKE #3 – Using the “miscellaneous” label. The definition of organization is the ability to find what you want when you want it. The gold standard is being able to find it in thirty seconds or less. Store like things together and you will be able to find things quickly. Instead of tossing all of your tools into a miscellaneous box, for example, sort them into type: screwdrivers, hammers, pliers, etc. Now you can grab exactly the right tool without rummaging through the miscellaneous pile.

MISTAKE #4 – Ignoring your personal style. Are you an “innie” or an “outie”? If you crave clear counter and desk space, with everything tucked into closets and drawers, you are an “innie.” If you need to have everything out where you can see it, and you fear you will forget something if it is in a closed drawer, you are an “outie.” Either style is acceptable as long as you plan for it. An “innie” needs sturdy file cabinets, drawer organizers, cupboards and closets with doors, opaque containers, and lidded baskets for storing possessions. An “outie” needs open shelves, clear containers, clear desktop trays and file holders, baskets without lids, and tool turnabouts. Using storage solutions that match your style will help you stay organized.

MISTAKE #5 – Neglecting a maintenance routine. Remember when your high school science teacher taught you about entropy, the tendency for things to fall apart when left alone? Entropy can undo all of your organizing triumphs. If you are going to put the effort into getting organized, you are going to want to stay organized. Build a “maintenance plan” into your daily routine to keep your things in order. Choose something you know you will do regularly, and tie an organizing project to it. Make it a new rule that you cannot brush your teeth until you have spent five minutes decluttering your bedroom. Use the commercial breaks during your favorite TV show to sort household paperwork. Before you mow the lawn each week, straighten the garage.

Welcome springtime with a clutter-free home. Then go outside and enjoy the sunshine and flowers!
Note: The preceding article may be copied or published without obligation or payment to the authors, as long as this ending author resource box is printed with the article
AUTHOR RESOURCE BOX:Penny Johnson and Anne Calkins are professional organizers with Time and Space UnlimitedLLC, Baraboo Wisconsin. For a free copy of their idea-pak for seasonal organizing projects, contact them at 608-356-2089 or visit their website

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

10 ways to recycle boxes

1. Put awkward-sized gifts inside – makes for easier wrapping and looks beautiful.
2. Stand all your rolls of wrapping paper in a nice square box in an unused corner.
3. Cut the top and a portion off the sides to make your own magazine holders. You can also cover them with gift wrap to blend in with your colour schemes.
4. Use the bottom of cereal boxes as dividers in your underwear drawer.
5. Open and flatten out cereal boxes and let your kids use the reverse side to draw on or for projects.
6. Use tissue boxes to hold your spare plastic bags.
7. Use smaller boxes in your junk drawer or stationery drawer to keep small items like drawing pins, paperclips and staples neatly organised.
8. Use sturdy shoeboxes to hold CD’s or photo albums.
9. Cut the top off tissue boxes and use to stand your two-minute noodle packs upright.
10. Find two or three really sturdy shoeboxes from men’s shoes and use these as slide-out drawers on shelves. Use these to store stationery and gift-wrapping supplies.

Copyright Marcia Francois. Visit my website at

What are your favourite ways to recycle boxes?

10 ways to use plastic bags

1. Instead of buying plastic bin liners for your rubbish bins, use a plastic bag.
2. Use plastic bags to hold vegetable peels or scraps of meat while cooking. Then throw them in the rubbish bin – your bin won’t have any dirty smells this way.
3. Wrap yoghurts or any food that can spill in a small plastic bag first before packing your lunch. This way, if it spills, it doesn’t mess up your other food.
4. Take a couple of plastic bags with you when travelling to separate your dirty laundry.
5. Wrap your shoes in a plastic bag so they don’t dirty your clothes in your gym bag or suitcase.
6. Keep shampoos and other liquid toiletries in a separate plastic bag inside of your toiletry bag.
7. Keep a plastic bag in your car to throw the rubbish on a daily basis and remove every weekend.
8. Use a plastic bag over your hand to pick up doggy poo. Then just turn inside out and throw in the bin.
9. Re-use plastic bags when you go shopping instead of buying new ones continually.
10. Use plastic bags to pop bread in the freezer before it goes stale.

Copyright Marcia Francois
Visit my website on