Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pesky Packing Issues ... Solved!

I was at a dinner party over Memorial Day Weekend when the topic of packing came up.  One brave soul spoke up and said that her problem was that she never knew what she might want to wear in the future.  How could she not over pack? She needed a variety of choices. If you are of the same mind set, here are some tips to help you plan exactly what you need:

  • Check weather reports before you leave. (If you have a smart phone there are numerous apps or you can check on line.) As your departure day approaches you will be able to adjust your choices should there be an unexpected shift in the temperature at your destination. 
  • If you plan to stay with relatives or friends you can borrow anything you forgot or didn't expect to need; you'll be able to do laundry; you can decide to leave items like an umbrella, shampoo or body lotion at home. (Do check the availability of items you'd like to leave at home.  This is not the time for assumptions.)
  • Stay with a basic color scheme so that everything you pack can be worn in a variety of ways. I would avoid clothing that wrinkles easily like linen.
  • Pack versatile items like a rain coat with a zip out lining or long pants that turn into shorts when you zip off the bottoms. 
  • Give yourself wardrobe choices by taking extra accessories.  There's visual magic in scarves and jewelry.
  • Get used to the idea of planning your wardrobe in advance by doing it at home. Practice makes perfect.
If  strong emotional issues  come up at the very idea of leaving that huge suitcase at home, do a little journaling to find out what the root cause might be. For example:
  • Was your mother a dictator about what you were allowed to wear when you were a child? 
  • Did you have very few choices in your closet as a teenager or young adult? 
  • Have you ever lost everything in a fire, flood, storm or earthquake? 
  • Were you ever the victim of a theft? 
  • Has an airline ever lost your suitcase?
Sudden loss is traumatic and very often causes a 'consciousness of loss.'  You can change these feelings if you acknowledge them and if you understand the perks that a solid plan gives you.  To wit:
  • You won't have to wait at the carousel for your bag to arrive: it will be with you the entire time.
  • You'll have room in your suitcase for items you purchase on your trip.  
  • You will save money by not having to check a bag.  The airlines charge us for breathing these days! 
I took my first flight at 17 and I still love to board an aircraft and see new cities. I share my packing formula and the story of how it developed in One Year to an Organized Life. Check out the month of May. And don't forget that travel affords you a great opportunity to teach your children the power of decision making and organization. Or perhaps you'll just surprise and impress your spouse!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Announcing the Goodreads Winners!

Attention, please!!! 

There were 1167 entries for the Goodreads giveaway of the audio for my New York Times best seller One Year to an Organized Life! 

Thanks to the wonderful and generous folks at Tantor Media the following lucky folks will be getting their MP3's in the mail: 

Michelle Kelley, 
Chelsea White, 
Kimberly Cheyenne, 
Jacki Akin and 
Shawn Clark. 


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Social Media: Is It Friend or Foe?

We are a nation of overworked, sleep deprived, financially strapped and emotionally raw human beings.  It's no wonder Social Media so easily eats away at time that could be spent in (dare I say it?) more productive pursuits. It's wonderful to be connected to others at any time of day or night.  It makes the world a more intimate place. When you go to Social Media sites however have a goal in mind and a set time limit.  Honor the latter no matter what happens.

Can you relate to any of these reasons you might be a Social Media Addict?:
  • Ask yourself if you are avoiding something with this time spent on line. Is your spouse already asleep when you come to bed?  Are you happy not to have a late night chat about finances or the kids?
  • Do you like the rush of doing important things at the last minute?  Does staying up late on Facebook mean you'll be forced to get that report in at work tomorrow?  Is that the impetus you need? Is 'high drama' your drug of choice?
  • Have you become used to the attention you get when you complain about your level of exhaustion? Do your family members and co-workers take things off your plate saying: "You poor thing!" Are you at a loss as to how you might get that attention in a more positive way?
  • Is time management not on your list of skills? Do you joke you'll be late for your own funeral?  Is Social Media just one way you fritter away time?
  • Are you lonely?  Does connecting with people on line fill a void?
It's always helpful to pinpoint the reason we have a negative habit. We live in a cause and effect universe and in order to have a new result we need to set new causes in motion.  The most powerful way to do that is to understand why the current cause is in place. We can run from our fears, obligations and assignments but we can can't avoid the consequences. Whether it's couples counseling, reading a book like "One Year to an Organized Life' that's filled with psychological insight as well as organizing tips or joining a club to get out and meet people there's always an antidote.

Baby elephants are chained and often beaten to get them to obey.  One day the physical chains are removed but the elephant is now a prisoner of his own mind.  Have you imprisoned yourself?  Or did a parent, spouse, teacher or friend do it to you? I give you permission to embrace your freedom!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Be Open to Change

Quite a few years ago before Google photographed every street and building on the planet and every smart phone had GPS, I had a clever way of keeping track of my clients homes.  I would print out the driving directions and place them in a sheet protector then file them in alphabetical order in a notebook I carried in my car.  Clients I hadn't seen in some time were always impressed I never needed directions after the initial visit. 

But now Siri tells me where and how to go.  The night before I still look up the address on Map Quest because I am visual.  I like to be able to picture the map I saw the night before in my mind as Siri gives me directions.  Los Angeles is a driving town and you never know when someone will live on a well concealed cul de sac or up on a mountain top.  My notebook, however,  is no longer needed.  It's now an homage to how clever I was in the good old days.  Yesterday I gave it a 'thank you' and a toss. What's the bottom line?

No matter how great your organizing solutions are stay open to new ideas and better ways of accomplishing your goals.  I'm not suggesting change for change sake.  I am suggesting you never utter anything like this: "Why do we need cell phones?  Didn't we do OK when it was just a home phone or a pay phone?" Yes, we did.  We also did quite well traveling by horse and buggy.  But planes, trains and automobiles are faster and the world is a connected place. Stay current: it will keep you youthful to the end!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Toy Storage

Yesterday a new mother asked me a question on Facebook that delighted me.  After 24 years of one-on-one work with clients and nine books on the subject of getting organized this was a new one! I love a challenge.  Here is the dilemma: her toddler had a growing collection of puzzles that had no boxes but lots of big pieces.  My reader had been storing the pieces in Ziplock bags but she's very artistic and the aesthetic of a growing river of plastic bags did not please her.  What could I suggest?

I told her that while those Ziplock bags might not drive me insane I understood that she was after a more pleasing aesthetic as well as a solution that would introduce the concept of getting organized to her son.  I closed my eyes to think for a few minutes.  Almost instantly I envisioned these parts being stored in cotton or burlap drawstring bags.  But would such a solution be available?  I'm delighted to report that Google came up with a page of companies selling such bags not only in various sizes and colors but for very little money.

Here's the company I selected for her to view:

Now there was one more issue: how to identify the contents without having to open the actual bags.  I thought of ID tags that are sold in bulk at office supply stores.  You could identify the contents on the tag and then tie it to one of the draw string handles.

Mom was happy and so was I.

As your children grow older and their toys do come in boxes remember that as those original containers age they can be replaced by universal toy storage boxes.  You can use your label maker to ID the spine of the box. I never stack my game boxes when I am organizing a child's room.  I stand them on their side and line them up.  It's easier to pull one out than to get to the bottom of a stack.

You'll find great solutions for your entire home in all of my books.  For a  typical family I recommend One Year to an Organized Life.  Until may 24, 2013 you can enter a contest at Goodreads to win a free audio copy of my favorite book.

Here's the link:

Have a great week and please post your questions for me here or on my public Facebook page which is 'Regina leeds, The Zen Organizer.'

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Contest Is ... LIVE!

Here's the link and good luck, Everyone!

If you are one of the lucky winners please let me know!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Contest Coming!

The wonderful folks at Tantor Media are going to sponsor a giveaway of five copies of the audio version of One Year to an Organized Life starting tomorrow on Goodreads. 

The second the link is live I will add it here. 

If you don't have a copy of the book this is an opportunity to score one and if you do have it you can ear mark the audio as a gift for someone who is living in chaos.  Stay tuned!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is on the horizon and I've been thinking more about the moms of the world than I usually do.  Moms after all are the most frequent readers of my books and make up the lion share of my client list.   I know of no other job that is as difficult or has more consequences if you don't give it your full attention. I salute all the hard working moms of the world!

This week on Facebook at 'Regina Leeds, The Zen Organizer'  I'm posting daily tips for ways loved ones can honor mom.  You know something personal to add to the gift, flowers or brunch you're planning.  Cleaning up your room without being asked will probably give mom a boost as will creating an adventure for her. Come on over every day this week and feel free to add your ideas. We were reminded at the end of the Boston Marathon that life can change forever in a matter of seconds.  Never take mom for granted is the bottom line. Mother's Day 2013 won't come again.

My mother passed away when I was just past my 25th birthday after a 2 year battle with cancer.  In the middle of that journey my father died suddenly.  I was 'old' at 25 with more emotional blows than I ever imagined possible.  For many years I couldn't even look at the rows of Mother's Day cards in the stores without blubbering like a baby.  But now I celebrate all the women who have mothered me in one way or another and I eagerly look for ways to nurture others.  Ironically that's the central message of my Zen Organizing philosophy: get organized so your environment can nurture you and all the wonderful things you wish to accomplish.

Many women are looking forward to the birth of a baby this time of year.  If you know anyone in this happy state consider gifting her with a copy of One Year to an Organized Life with Baby.  Mother of 5 Meagan Francis and I created this guide for pregnant couples and we stay with you until baby is 5 months old.  A virtual avalanche of stuff is coming your way from stuffed animals and 'onsies' to pregnancy clothes and nursery furniture.  If you don't get in control from the start it's going to be overwhelming. Besides one of the best gifts you can give your child is an organized environment: knowing how to get and stay organized is really the ultimate gift that keeps on giving.

Finally let me share that May has been designated 'Be Kind to Animals' month.  I hope we are always kind to animals but reminders are wonderful.  If you are the 'mother' of a dog, cat or other lucky creature I hope you too have a special day.  May you and your fur babies celebrate in some special way.  In fact come over to Facebook and let me know what you have planned.  Love comes in many forms and being grateful for it is all that matters.

What type of information would you most like to find here?

June 2009, in China

June 2009, in China
At the Summer Palace outside Beijing

About Me

My photo

I will always be grateful I grew up in Brooklyn, New York.  It was a rich atmosphere that introduced me to different races, creeds and professions.  It seemed that anything was possible if you were willing to work hard to achieve your goals.

I'm a yogi which means that my spiritual path is that of yoga principles that have been handed down for over 5000 years. Yoga is an ancient philosophy based on the Gita, the sutras of Patanjali and yes, the Bible. The postures are a key element as is meditation. We honor all paths.

I got my first dog when I was 6 years old after a full year of begging.  She was a collie and her name was Queenie.  As an adult I've had 2 golden retrievers.  A female named Miss Katie who came into my life when she was 3 months old and an ancient male golden who came to me when he was 15.  I'd like to have a Great Dane next but we'll see what the universe has in store.

I've been organizing clients for over 24 years and writing about it for over ten.