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I am happy to announce that I have a new website (new look and feel) which hosts a new blog. If you are currently a subscriber to ‘Your Efficiency Specialist’ blog, I encourage you to subscribe to my new blog at www.gracebrooke.com. I will no longer be maintaining the ‘Your Efficiency Specialist’ blog.

Make sure to share the new blog with your contacts. Sharing is caring!

All the best,
Grace

Cereal BoxesKids love cereal (and I must admit, I do too). School is in full force and everyone is looking for places to stash all those school papers, bills, catalogs, and schedules. Here’s a fun and creative way to make use of the empty cereal boxes. Get the kids involved in reusing the boxes to make handy holders for their desk and yours. Kids can let their imaginations run wild by decorating the outside of the box with decorative tissue paper, wrapping paper, markers, stickers, and fabric for a more tailored look. The larger cereal boxes work best for storing books and folders. The smaller boxes are great for keeping smaller odds and ends contained. For the safety of the child, adults need to cut the box with a utility knife at the desired angle and height. Wrap the decorative paper or fabric around the box to see how much is needed. Then unwrap, cut and secure the paper or fabric to the box with double-sided tape or glue. Trim the excess paper/fabric with scissors.

Take a moment to leave a comment and share your thoughts and ideas!

For more tips and tricks for organizing your home or office, sign up to gain access to Grace Brooke’s ‘Organizer’s Tool Bag’.

This is an article written by a local Life Coach who helps people find their passion and transition from overwhelm to a sence of peace. We all deal with some sort of overwhelm on a regular basis. Keep reading to learn how you can reclaim your power! There is a special offer at the end.

Read the rest of this entry »

SuccessI am returning from a little blogging hiatus. Over the past month I have been coordinating a community Back-to-School Clothes Swap, organizing workshops for students, and getting my daughter geared up for kindergarten. It’s been hard not to feel guilty when all those little things I wanted to accomplish didn’t fit onto one plate (i.e. blogging, social networking, household projects, personal goals, etc). However, the guilt lessened when I reminded myself of the things I did accomplish and that life wasn’t a race.

This past month I have made a point to acknowledge my achievements by patting myself on the back and doing a little ‘happy dance’. It didn’t matter if the task was large or small, I did a ‘happy dance’. Boy, does it feel great! By being aware and acknowledging my ‘gold stars’, I have felt my self-confidence increase as well as a sense of success. The need to beat myself up over not getting to a task/project has decreased.

If you are tired of feeling like a failure at the end of the day for not completing your to-do list, make a point to shift your thinking and focus on your successes. Reward yourself for the simple, little things in life that get accomplished.

Examples are:

  • You ate lunch: not many people take the time to eat lunch these days!
  • Brushed your teeth: you are taking care of your teeth and smile.
  • Cleaned the dishes: keeping the kitchen clean and decluttered leads to healthier meals.
  • Took your multi-vitamin: giving your body the nutrients it needs to thrive!

To get started, create a journal of your daily achievements. Post everything you completed that day – big or small, even itsy bitsy things. Don’t save the gold stars just for the children, use them for yourself too! Give yourself gold stars and do happy dances throughout the day. If you forget to journal one day or for the whole week, don’t beat yourself up. Start again the next day (make sure to give yourself a sticker for starting up again!). It is amazing how great you will feel in only a few short days. Focus on your successes and not your failures!

I’d love to hear your feedback. Take a moment to comment on how you celebrate your successes. If you currently are not acknowledging your achievements, start the journal and report back with your comments.

For more tricks and tips on organizing your time, goals, priorities, and life, sign up here to gain access to my ‘Organizer’s Tool Bag’. It will offer you inspiration and keep you motivated monthly.

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Grace

bannerI love to simplify! I am always looking for ways to take less steps, get more done in less time, and eliminate time-wasters.

My world revolves at a fast pace. With children to care for, a business to operate, relationships to tend, and a home to maintain, I need to simplify in order to THRIVE. If you want to thrive in your personal and/or professional life, I encourage you to click here and sign up to gain access to my Organizer’s Tool Bag. I share tips on organizing products which I love and steps you can take to simplify & thrive.

Over the past month I have been working on simplifying my online presence (blog, website, and social networking) through eliminating visual clutter. I realized that clutter on the screen can be just as distracting as clutter on the desk. It has been a process, just as getting organized is. And once again, it is a refreshing feeling to let go and keep only what I really enjoy and love. By doing this, it creates space for me to grow and THRIVE!

What one step can you do today to simplify your life, your home, your work space, or your family? Take 10-minutes for yourself and take action on that one step. It will put a smile on your face!

For more tips & tools on simplifying your life, visit my website at www.YourEfficiencySpecialist.com and join my page on Facebook.

Simply Yours,

Grace

organized pantryA perfectly organized pantry; what a glorious sight! With a dash of efficiency and a sprinkle of beautiful, you can have an organized pantry too.

Pantries can be the catch all for appliances, canned goods, lunch boxes, extra bulk items, and endless boxes of cereal. They can also be a black hole for items with expiration dates. Have you stuck your head in the back of your pantry lately? Things get lost back there!

A neat, organized pantry makes your life run more smoothly. You should be able to look into your pantry and know in about a minute what you have and what you need. Most of us, instead, see a jumbled mess of precariously balanced canned goods in no particular order. There are most likely expired boxes in the back from 10 years ago that you don’t even want to think about.

An organized pantry can be achieved with only a few simple steps. With these easy steps, one can save time, money, and a few extra calories by having a well organized pantry.

Sort like with like: Separate items by dry goods (pastas, beans, boxed rice, and grains), sauces, canned veggies, canned fruits, snacks, and cereals.

Containerize: I love using clear plastic containers to store snacks, cereals, grains, pastas, popcorn, croutons, and so much more. Make sure to use containers that lock in the freshness and keep the bugs out. Containers that are square in shape will offer a better use of the space than using round containers. Using clear containers will simplify life by showing you exactly what you have and how much you need. Gather an assortment of baskets to store seasoning packets, microwave popcorn, hot coco packets, and any item that is individually wrapped.

Label each shelf: Whether you are stocking the shelves or the kids are grabbing a snack, everyone will know where to go to find what they are looking for.

Leave some room: You don’t want to overstock your shelves. Leave enough room be able to maneuver when gathering supplies for your next meal.

Storing larger items: Many pantries work overtime by housing appliances and extra bulk items. Make sure to store the extra bulk items on the upper shelves and the heavy appliances on the lower shelves or floor space. Otherwise, utilize a wire shelf unit in the garage to store the less frequently used items.

There are three rules to remember:

New vs. Old: Store the newer items in the back and older items in the front. This simple rule will help to eliminate those expired items from piling up.

Remember the 80/20 rule: When stocking your pantry, keep in mind that 80% of meals typically come from the pantry and 20% are fresh produce.

Label, label, label: Label any undated food items with the purchase date.

With thanks to Better Homes and Gardens, here are three helpful lists for having a well stocked baker’s pantry, entertainer’s pantry, and quick family meals checklist.

Baker’s Pantry

Entertainer’s Pantry

Quick Family Meals Checklist

outdoor entertainI love to entertain outdoors. Set up is fairly easy and clean up is even easier! If you enjoy entertaining outdoors, but dread hauling supplies needed to the patio from the kitchen, read these outdoor organizing ideas to make your next party a breeze.

With school out and the hot summer months ahead, now is the perfect time to get your pool towels, patio cushions, entertaining supplies, and outdoor beverage center in tip top shape.

Whether you live in an apartment with a small terrace or in a 4 bedroom home with a spacious backyard, you can organize your outdoor entertaining gear with these low-cost, budget friendly tips.

Avoid getting pulled away from your Sunset Breeze to retrieve extra cups or ice at your next party by creating an efficient space outdoors to store extra cups, beverages, and towels.  Have your items accessible when you need them and easy to stash when you don’t. Your outdoor spaces should be a source of relaxation, not frustration.

Storage Bench: Save space in the garage and basement by storing chaise and chair cushions, beach towels, and outdoor blankets in a teak or faux-wicker box. Use the bench to set drinks on, too!

Ice Chest: Purchase a weather and insect-resistant cedar ice chest to keep beverages cold. The chest can double as a side table when the lid is in place.

Console: Create a place to serve drinks, store flatware, plates, plastic wine glasses, and extra party supplies.Invest in a weather-resistant console table  which comes with a rack for holding stemware. Keep utensils, straws, and condiments safe from dirt and bugs by housing them in clear plastic storage containers with locking lids. Reuse an old galvanized bucket to hold ice and watering can to store serving spoons. Keep a basket handing for storing napkins.

Hooks: Line a row of hooks on an exterior wall or fence to keep used towels, wet bathing suits, and blankets off the ground and out of the dirt.

Hose Pot: Hide the unsightly hose (and keep it handy) by storing it in a bronzed hose pot.

One of the most important questions to ask yourself when purging items from your closet is, “Does this item make me feel good?” This simple question will help to eliminate articles of clothing that you do not like (but paid good money for), that don’t compliment you (but it was a gift), and that have been keeping you ‘stuck’ (in the past).

Clothing follows the 80:20 rule – we wear 20 percent of our clothing 80 percent of the time! Here’s a little trick you can play on yourself to see which items are being worn. At the start of each season, turn your clothes hangers backward! As you wear clothes, face them properly. At the end of the season, any clothes that remain facing backward should be given away.

Tip: Keep a ‘share’ box/bag and ‘give-a-way’ box/bag in your closet to discard items that no longer make you feel good.

Recently, I was assisting a client in purging items from one of her two storage units. This client realized how much money she was wasting each month by have two units filled with stuff that was keeping her ‘stuck’ in life (personally and professionally). There were clothes that she had been holding onto for years due to various reasons (all the typical excuses – ‘it cost a lot of money’, ‘it was a gift’, ‘I will fit into that again…someday!’). It wasn’t until I held up each piece of clothing and asked her, ‘Does this make you feel good?’ did she begin to part with the items. In a matter of a few minutes, the client was able to let go of 3/4 of the clothes! That one simple question made her look at the clothes differently. They didn’t make her feel good. They kept her ‘stuck’ in the past.

As we approach a new season and unpack our summer attire, take a few moments to ask yourself that one powerful question, ‘Does this make me FEEL GOOD?’. Don’t waste your closet space, energy, or time on anything that does make you happy or feel good!

This past weekend I completed a DIY project that I have been wanting to do for sometime. Recently, I helped a good friend design and create her own. Now it was my turn! Thanks to my darling, Dave who brought home a new flat screen TV this past Friday, I was able to turn the entertainment center into my very own beverage center.
(Side note: We haven’t had cable for the past year. So along with the new TV came cable. Welcome back The Food Network! I missed you.)

Beverage CenterThe armoire previously used to house the TV and media equipment. It is now a fun and stylish station to whip up a drink with my favorite coconut rum! I covered the back of the armoire with squared mirrors which I picked up at IKEA (4 pack for 4.99). It adds drama and makes the space look a little bigger. I created a storage area for alcohol, club soda, glass pitchers, stemware, extra serving glasses, straws, napkins, and all the little odds and ends needed to stir up a fabulous drink and entertain friends. (Since there are small children in the home, I have made sure to put safety locks on the top and bottom doors.)

The project is not 100% complete. The wine rack which will be located above the stemware and memo boards (post drink recipes and display menus) which will be on the inside of both doors still need to be installed. For additional storage ideas and tips on creating your own beverage station, refer to Get The Party Started, Beverage Cart, and Beverage Bar.

Is it time for a drink yet?

Organized Junk DrawerJunk drawers, the majority of us have one, maybe two, or even three  in our home. It is amazing at what you will find in a junk drawer! It is the place where you throw those extra twist ties, that broken flash light, and even your favorite hammer.

If your junk drawer is over-flowing with old coupons, broken chip clips, and last years birthday candles, it is time to organize and bring some order to the junk drawer. It is possible to have a organized junk drawer!

I believe every home should have junk drawer, but only under certain conditions. Those conditions are:

  • You need to know what is in there.
  • Everything should be used regularly.
  • There should be dividers and/or small containers to seperate the junk into groups of like items.
  • It needs to be neat.

Take 30 minutes this weekend to empty out your drawer, purge what is not needed or used, sort like with like, and keep everything in the drawer contained. Storage containers for the drawer can be recycled plastic butter containers or a collection of trimmed sour cream container to fit the drawer. You can also use a drawer organizer used in a desk to store your ‘must-haves’ of the junk drawer. Save pieces to broken toys and gadgets in sandwich size Ziploc bags and store all broken pieces in one area. For convenience purposes, keep a small screw driver in your junk drawer for when the kitchen cabinets need tightening or when a battery needs to be replaced. If you have kids, you know that each toy which requires batteries also requires a screw driver.

If you can get your junk drawer organized, you will be able to organize any drawer!