Top 10 Organizing Tips for Busy Families

busy families

At professional organizing company Simplify Experts, we attract one type of client over all others – busy families. You know who you are. You and/or your spouse may be juggling long hours at work, volunteering at your child’s school, attending your children’s many weekday and weekend activities, managing home upkeep, and perhaps even handling elder care. You rarely have time for yourself. Over time, clutter in your home builds and builds. You can’t find things. Sometimes, things fall through the cracks – bills don’t get paid on time, tax returns are late, appointments are missed. Despite your best efforts you never seem to catch up. You can no longer host events at your house. The state of your home increases your level of anxiety.

If any of this resonates with you,

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Goal Setting Strategies for Adults with ADHD

Many adults who have ADHD are curious, intelligent, resourceful, imaginative, genuine, hyper-focusing, out of the box thinkers. This is especially true when they are working on something they find novel and exciting, interesting and fun! But when it comes to tasks they find horribly mundane and boring – ADHDers often can’t get going, they struggle, they get distracted and derailed. Even getting through daily responsibilities can be tough. They may set huge goals (or too many goals) for themselves but just can’t execute on them. They may have great intentions but come up short. Sometimes, they get discouraged and frustrated, and give up on setting goals altogether. This is not caused by a lack of effort; it’s caused by brain chemistry!

If this sounds at all familiar, help lies in customizing time management strategies to work specifically for you and making those strategies part your daily routine.

There are some things in our lives that energize us and some things that sap our energy. Only you know what types of activities recharge your batteries – thus making you more mentally available to get work done.

Think about your best days, your most energy filled, most productive days. What helped you feel so good? Were you well rested? Did you get to exercise? Did you have a great conversation with a friend?  The answer is different for every person. When we are aware of what energizes us, we can seek to optimize that energy and harness it toward more productivity.

Consider what derails you while you are trying to work. You may get started on something productive, but soon get distracted, derailed, lost. Are there specific triggers? Is it social media? Is it online shopping? Is it email notifications? Is it anxiety? Is it your children constantly interrupting you? Is it your cluttered desk? Is it depression? Is it your pet vying for attention? Again, only you know. Awareness, is a great starting point to try and minimize the triggers that derail you. Think about how you can eradicate the triggers that curtail your productivity. Can you turn off all notifications? Can you work in a coffee shop or library? Are you able to hire a babysitter? Would it help to report to a friend who is your accountability partner? Do you need to talk to a therapist or life coach?

When you have identified your sources of energy and have become aware of what derails you, it is time to set a goal. One very clear, very specific small goal. You are less likely to procrastinate if you know you have only one small thing to do.

Specific attainable goal: After dropping the boys at 8:30am I will jog three miles around my neighborhood. 

A vague daunting goal: I want to train for a marathon.

  1. Set a timeframe to achieve the goal. Run the Turkey Trot 10K in six months on Thanksgiving.
  2. Break goal into smaller goals. Run three miles for four weeks. Then increase run length to five miles.
  3. Break smaller goals into action steps. Be very clear about what needs to be done. Jog three miles each week for a month, then jog five miles twice a week until race day.
  4. Identify time to work on action steps – a fixed period of time in which to focus on work. Set reminders or alarms on your phone or computer. Tuesday mornings, from 9-10am is my time for jogging.
  5. At the end of each completed action step – reward yourself! Your choice!
  6. Repeat the action steps. Even if you have set-backs, keep going! You are on your way toward a positive routine.
  7. Complete all small goals. Celebrate when you complete your goal! Note how you feel each time you complete what you set out to do. Your success on each small action item proves that you are in control of your life and that is a reward in in itself. You have the tools to help yourself.



It has been proven that our brains don’t actually multi-task they quickly switch from one activity to another, making us less effective in the end.

Try the Pomodoro Technique to extend your productivity. Set a timer for 25 minutes. Work only for that time frame. When the bell goes off, take a break for five minutes. Energize during your break. Then set the timer for the next 25 minutes.

Use productivity apps. Try different ones to see which ones work for you. There are many: Trello, Asana, Basecamp, Any.Do, ToDoist, WunderList, EverNote.

If a strategy doesn’t work, tweak it a little. Use a different timer to give you visual cues and help you stay on task. Write out a checklist with specific steps you need to take to complete a task. Print it out and post it where you work.

Get outside help. Use an accountability partner. You are more likely to get something done if someone else is counting on you. A family member, a friend, or a life coach can help you stick to deadlines.

Delegate tasks. If household chores or errands are sapping your energy, consider hiring a housecleaner or having your groceries delivered.  Blue Apron delivers wholesome ingredients for recipes chosen by you.

You may have setbacks. You may fail to achieve some goals. Keep trying, routines are built by repetition.  CELEBRATE your successes, even the small ones. Duplicate small successes until they become routine.

Don’t give up. You can be in control of your ADHD. It doesn’t control you, you control you.

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Summer Home Improvements: The Garage

Summer has finally arrived and with it a slew of home improvement projects. One area of the home that quickly falls into disrepair is the garage. Creating a functional and organized garage storage plan saves time, money and energy in the long-run. Knowing exactly what and where items are in the garage helps homeowners avoid buying duplicates of items already stored in the garage. Learn how to upgrade your garage from a cluttered cave into an organized and functional space below.

Assess Your Stuff: Before any storage updates are done in the garage, it’s important to review what is already stored in there. Over time, items find their way into the garage that don’t necessarily belong. Set aside an afternoon or entire day to sort through those items. Honestly answer three simple questions to determine which items stay and which items are evicted.

  1. When was the last time I used this item? If the item is seasonal, ask yourself if it was used during that season.
  2. Is this item broken? Can it be fixed?
  3. Would someone else use this item more than me?

If items are broken beyond repair, it’s time they saw the inside of a recycling bin or trash can. Gently used items or items that can be fixed with a little love can be sold or donated. Once items have been pared down, it’s easier to group similar items together. Common groups include yard tools, sporting equipment, outdoor gear, cleaning supplies, and seasonal decorations.

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Fabulous NAPO Service Project

The first Saturday morning in May I had the privilege of leading a service project for my Seattle NAPO chapter.  NAPO is the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals of which there are 4,000 members worldwide.  We have a Greater Seattle chapter that meets monthly on the first Tuesday evening in Bellevue.  This Seattle chapter has 35 plus members and I am currently serving on the board as Treasurer.


Service to others is an important personal value of mine;

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Are You Monitoring your Long Term Goals?

long term goals

We all have our own individual goals and dreams. They have evolved over our lifetimes as our lives have changed. Long term goals are things that are very important to us. Some goals are really just dreams because we haven’t taken them seriously enough to take any action toward achieving them. What dreams and goals do you have? Can you take some action on them this summer? Talk through your goals with your spouse or partner and take steps toward achieving the life you want.

Some examples:

Long Term Financial and Legal Goals:

  1. Check in with financial advisor to confirm investments are on track for retirement goals.
  2. Revisit any college funds and make sure they are on track.
  3. Create or update your will and last testament.
  4. Create or update living will or medical health care directive.
  5. Revisit your insurance policies including life, umbrella and personal articles policies.
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Five is the Magic Number (on Your To-Do List)

There is nothing like crossing items off our to-do lists to give us a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.  But, what if your to-do list is more like a wish list – an unrealistic list of tasks and jobs that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed instead of productive and accomplished?  Your to-do list should be a tool that moves you forward, not quick sand that slowly pulls you under.

There are lots of ways to organize your tasks – color

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Why You Don’t Need More Than One Kitchen Knife

kitchen knife

Do you have a favorite kitchen knife? Right before the holidays last year, I took all my Henckels knives to be sharpened at the Epicurean Edge, a local knife shop. To be honest, I’d never had my knives professionally sharpened before. But this same set of Henckels knives has lasted me the 22 years of my marriage, so since they’ve been such a great investment, I thought I should do the right thing and have them sharpened by the pros. I brought all of my knives, thinking the lovely people at Epicurean Edge would sharpen them for me while I waited. I was mistaken. The sharpening would take a few days. Hmm, what to do. I needed my knives – every day.

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ADHD Kids and Summer Vacation


My son (who has ADHD) didn’t want to go to the end of school beach party with all his friends. The last day of school assembly and all the end-of-year excitement just wore him out. HE JUST WANTED TO GO HOME. I was torn. He would not see many of his friends next year because they were attending different middle schools. I wanted to enjoy the festivities with the other 5th grade moms. He’ll have fun once we get there, I thought to myself. But to the contrary, my son had been more irritable and anxious lately. He’d had trouble falling asleep. He was argumentative and he picked fights more than usual.

We did not attend the beach party that day. Transitions are tough for kids with ADHD. The end of the school year, moving up to middle school are both huge transitions. My son knew he’d had enough and I am proud of his self-awareness. We went home. A couple of hours later that day, he was bored (of course!) and asked for a playdate (with someone who had gone to the party and was still there). Sigh.

Parenting ADHD kids is tricky terrain in the best of times.

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The 7 Things That Are True for Yoga and Organizing

yoga and organizing

The other day in the middle of my fifth sun salutation I realized yoga is really similar to home organizing. Hear me out, I know it sounds far-fetched. If you think about it, both are really hard work, both are very repetitive BUT both also bring about a lot of wonderful, awesome results.

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Learning Chores and Decluttering for Kids


Celebrate the end of the school year and take advantage of this transition period to purge unwanted items, donate old toys, and make your child’s bedroom a welcoming uncluttered environment this summer. Talk to your child and explain that as a reward for completing a successful school year, you would like to help make their bedroom a really nice place for them this summer.

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