Are You Exercising Your Earning Potential?

How much do you exercise? Do you agree with new research that has found a link between how much we exercise and how much we earn?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has found that people in the wealthiest earnings bracket had the highest participation rate in activities such as running, swimming, walking, weight lifting and aerobics. The study found the wealthier had more free time to exercise.

Irrespective of your income, daily exercise/activity needs to be an important part of everyone’s life as it is so good for balancing moods and reducing stress.

If you are struggling to manage your time, as counterintuitive as it sounds, take a 30 min break and go for a walk. You will return refreshed and reinvigorated and be more productive. 30mins too much? Go for a quick 5min walk every hour to recharge. I’m not sure about income and exercise being linked and I do know that productivity and exercise are.

You can read more about the ABS study here:  http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/earn-more-and-then-you-burn-more/story-fn6ck45n-1226213628156?sv=8592ff57af724594e978e21c053bf75

Tips for Hosting a Christmas Party

Invitations for holiday bashes go out early. Before every day of the season gets booked up, get your bid in for a Christmas party. Spread the word early so that all of your invited guests are available to say yes to your invitation.

If you are going to throw a Christmas party, you want all of your friends and family in attendance. Invite neighbours, coworkers, and others who you know and love to celebrate the festivities and make merry.

Now in order to host such a legendary party, you’ll need to start planning as soon as possible. Here are some great tips for getting that party off to a good start.

  1. Print up gorgeous invitation. Card programs on the computer usually include party invitations that can be personalized for your needs. Try for a Saturday afternoon a week or so before Christmas. As it gets closer to the holidays, your available days and times will get shorter. Include party theme (if applicable), menu (if applicable), and time frame for the party, and address. Don’t forget to ask for an R.S.V.P.
  2. Start on the party planning. What games will you have? Are you serving finger foods or a catered meal? Is the dress casual or dressy? Will there be recorded music or a DJ to play requests? Is this a party with alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages? Are kids invited? What is the capacity of your home? All of these questions will get you started on the planning.
  3. If you plan on catering, then RSVPs to your invitations are important. You’ll need an accurate headcount for ordering. If everyone has not responded two weeks before your party, call the non-committed invitees and ask for a response.
  4. Buy your decorations. This is a party, so your home needs to look the part. If it is a themed party, decorate according to the theme.
  5. If kids are invited, consider hiring a babysitter to watch the kids and play games with them.  Many Christmas parties are for adults only. If yours is one of them, state that in the invitation so guests can find child care.
  6. Move all breakable items out of the room. If there’s going to be dancing or games, something is bound to get knocked down or kicked across the floor. Store these things out of sight.
  7. If there is a bar, offer to drive your guests home if they get inebriated. No one wants their friends to drive drunk and hurt themselves or someone else.
  8. Set your house up early that day so that you have time to dress before the caterers arrive or if you are serving the food, before the food is ready. Have a list of games and supplies ready beforehand to play at the party.

Christmas parties can be so much fun. Make yours a party to remember and more importantly one you as the host can enjoy without stressing over every single detail.

Shop Your Own House: Reinvent Storage Solutions for Your Home Using Items Already in Your Home

One of the biggest causes for disorganization and clutter is a simple lack of space. There’s just not room enough for everything you own. It’s a common problem and fortunately there are solutions that don’t need to cost you a cent especially when you shop at home. Instead of going out and buying a new storage or furniture, discover what you already have at home that you can repurpose, that is, use in a different way that will help you get more storage in your home.

Here are our top 7 ideas for common items found at home that can be reused to help you get organised and stay organised:

  1. Hang a shoe organiser with clear plastic pockets in your kitchen pantry. It’s great to hold smaller items such as packets of herbs or stock cubes. Because the pockets are clear, you can easily see what is in them and because the pockets are small in size, you can only store a few things inside so things won’t get lost.
  2. Paint a wall in your house with magnetic chalkboard paint and write your schedule & week’s menu on it, as a place to draw & hang pictures and inspirational sayings. If you are renting or don’t want to commit to a wall, you can achieve the same effect by using a large picture. Remove the glass front and backing board, paint the board and then reinsert. Hang the picture on the wall.
  3. Love to entertain? Have too many bracelets? Use bracelets you don’t wear as napkin rings. Beautiful and functional!
  4. Under the stairs is often a wasted space. Use the space as a home office or library using shelving from timber you have stored in the garage.
  5. Armoires or bookcases can be used in a room to create separation between spaces. For example, two armoires can be set up between the lounge room and a work space. The armoires provide storage solutions and serve as a room divider. You can place decorative bins on top of the armoires to store more items.
  6. Shop your closet.
  7. Double duty furniture & furniture that doubles as storage space is a great way to keep items handy yet also out of sight. For example, a coffee table that offers storage space inside or underneath for remotes, magazines and small items is extremely useful. An ottoman or side table that doubles as a chest can store blankets and seasonal pillows.

5 Kitchen Organization Tips to Clear Your Counters & Pantry

You spend a lot of hours in the kitchen preparing, serving and cleaning up after your meals and as a result the kitchen can become quite busy and messy. Take a look around your kitchen countertops and you may well find that you have a lot more kitchen gadgets and appliances than you realized. These handy kitchen organisation tips will help you stream line the countertops in the heart of your home.

  1. Create zones. On your kitchen countertops and workspaces you probably tend to focus on certain tasks. For example by the sink you probably do most of your chopping. The countertops by the stove are reserved for serving up your meals. Make sure your tools fit the job. If you chop and dice fruits and veggies by the sink then the knives and cutting boards should be within easy reach.
  2. Hide the rarely used appliances. A kitchen countertop may house a toaster, coffee maker, espresso machine, blender, juicer, grill and so on. Many kitchens have appliance overload. Put away the appliances that are not used on a daily basis. Also, if you can replace them with appliances that do double duty, a toaster oven for example, then you save valuable counter space.
  3. Invest in drawer organisers. There’s nothing worse than not being able to find the utensil you need for the job. Consider creating a countertop utensil holder for the utensils used on a daily basis. The rest get stored in a drawer with a utensil organiser.
  4. Utilise space saving storage. There are so many wonderful storage devices now. You can triple the number of cans a cupboard can hold with a can rack. You can pour cereal into stackable storage containers and eliminate that cluttered shelf full of half full cereal boxes. Determine what you need first and then head to the dollar store or home goods store for solutions.
  5. Keep it clean. Once your kitchen is good and organized, create systems to keep it clean. A clean kitchen just makes you want to put everything back where it belongs. It’s motivating.

Organising your kitchen doesn’t have to take hours. Take a look at what you have, what you use and the space available and plan it out before you start making changes. What can you get rid of? How would you like your kitchen to look and feel? Embrace these tips, organise your kitchen and add the finishing touch by keeping it clean. You may just find you will enjoy your newly organized kitchen even more and be inspired to create even more mouthwatering dishes.

Crazy Clutter Killers – Unique Ideas to Get Rid of Clutter Forever

Clutter causes stress. It creates an environment of disorganization and lowers the quality of life. However, it can be challenging to get control over clutter. Here are some unique ideas to help you get rid of clutter forever.

#1 Catchall
This is actually a surprisingly easy approach to taming clutter. Depending on the size of your home and family choose a container that you can keep in your main living space. At the end of each day spend five minutes running through the house. Everything that is out of place gets dropped into the catchall container.

Then you have a choice. You can spend five to ten minutes putting things where they belong. You can alternatively call to your family and hold each person responsible for putting their items back where they belong. It’s simple, inexpensive and effective. (And eventually your family members may get tired of the routine and start actually putting their things away.)

#2 Play the Toss Ten Game
Choose any room in your home. Look around and grab ten things you can throw away. Limit it to ten, don’t go over and make sure you throw away ten items. (Note, if you want to donate them that’s okay too.) Play this game every day in one room in your home until you’ve paired down to items that you cherish and have room for.

#3 Hide It
Buy furniture that doubles as storage. One of the reasons clutter exists is that there isn’t enough storage in a home. You simply don’t have a place to put some of your necessary items. For example, coffee and end tables in a living room can double as chests or contain drawers for storage. A chest can double as a bench in an entry way and store outdoor wear and gear.

#4 A Shopping Elimination Diet
Don’t buy anything until you’ve cleaned out your entire home. It’ll either ensure you clean out the clutter quickly or you’ll stop shopping. You might be surprised how easy it is to stop shopping and how much money you save.

#5 One Habit a Week
Create one new habit a week. For example, this week create the new habit of always putting your phone on the charger or in the phone caddy each day. Next week create the habit of going through your bills and sorting mail at the end of every day, or week. Create the habit of throwing away one, or donating, item in your closet each day.

Clearing out the clutter won’t magically happen. Unfortunately, you cannot wave a magic wand and have your entire home magazine ready. However, you can make major changes in your environment today. Throw away ten things. Adopt a new clutter system. Stop shopping and change your habits. Start living a clutter free life!

How to Get Your Family to Help With the Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning is a big job. While it’s certainly something you can do on your own, you don’t have to. In fact, there is benefit to having your family help with the job. It alleviates some of the work you have to do. Children can learn the value of hard work. They can contribute to the care and keeping of your home. And perhaps they’ll discover a little bit more about what you do to keep your home nice.

Getting your family to help isn’t always easy. Here are seven tips and ideas to help you enlist their help.

  1. Bribe them. Money talks. Or if your children are young then stickers, treats or even an afternoon at the movies can motivate people to help. Come up with a reward before you approach them with their jobs.
  2. Make it fun with music. Music makes any job easier. Find family friendly, fun, and motivating music for the entire family to enjoy.
  3. Make it a game. Consider making the spring cleaning task a game. Everyone likes games, right? Consider timing each person. The person that gets their job done the fastest wins. Or the person that gets their job done the best wins. You might also make it a game of speed and skill. For example, finish a task and then run to a designated place in the room and take a token. The person who collects the most tokens wins. Of course their work needs to be checked. If they didn’t do a good job then they lose tokens.
  4. Celebrate after. Have a post spring cleaning party. Order pizza take out and watch a movie together. Have a family game night. Go out to your favorite family restaurant. Or do something fun like go bowling, skating or to your local indoor amusement park.
  5. Give them choices. Consider making a list of all of the jobs that need to be accomplished. Then ask your children or family members to each choose three tasks. This way they have some control over the process. And they have chosen tasks that best suit their preferences.
  6. Provide guidance. Create a step by step procedure of how you want the task to be completed. For example, if one child is cleaning out a closet list everything that goes into the job. Consider creating a checklist for them. They can easily follow the list and you know everything will get done.
  7. Make it age/skill appropriate. Make sure each family member has age appropriate tasks. You wouldn’t want to ask a five year old to clean out the refrigerator. You might find that they throw everything away! If you’re letting your children choose which cleaning jobs the take on, consider grouping them by age. That way your child can choose from a list of jobs you know they can complete.

When you enlist the help of your entire family, spring cleaning can be completed in no time. You’ll feel as if you have all accomplished something together. And you can celebrate your success when you’re done.

10 Tools Everyone Needs to Get and Stay Organised

Organising yourself and your life is a fine balance. Too many tools and devices and you spend more time managing the tools than you do your life. Too few tools and you lose time trying to find things and stay organized. Let’s explore the basics and ten tools everyone needs to get and stay organised.

#1 Planner/Calendar
This may sound like a no-brainer but there’s a difference between having a planner and actually using it. You want to find a planner that you will use consistently. Take a look at paper, computer based, and mobile device planners and find one that fits your needs and personality.  Additionally, consider creating or using different planners for different purposes. For example, your business planner, personal planner and family planner do not all have to be on the same system – they just have to work for you.

#2 Overflow bin
An overflow bin is a bin that collects items that don’t belong. For example, many people keep a basket at the foot of the stairs. Anything that belongs up stairs goes into the basket. Once a day or once a week the basket is emptied and items are placed where they belong.

#3 Media command center
The media center is often a source of chaos. Remotes get lost, DVDs are broken and it can be a frustrating area. Create a media command center. All remotes are placed in the command center when they’re not being used. DVDs and other media are all stored in a box or drawer for easy access.

#4 Phone/Electronics command center
If you’re like many the phone recharging are is a nightmare of chaos. Phones, cords and even keys and wallets get all jumbled. It’s a mess. Create a single location for all rechargeable media. For example, there are caddies that can house anywhere from three to five mobile devices. Each device space can be labeled and the cords can be organized from the back.

#5 Cleaning baskets/storage
Create a basket for each room that stores the room’s cleaning supplies. This is particularly important for rooms like the kitchen and the bathroom which tend to require a lot of cleaning supplies.

#6 Chore Chart/Family Organization Area
A family organisation area is important to keep track of where everyone needs to be and what they’re responsible for. One idea is to use post-its on a large calendar. The post-its can be easily removed and replaced as needs change.

#7 File Cabinet
The file cabinet should house all of your family or personal documents. Bank statements, tax information, and receipts are particularly important. You can also scan these items and store them on your computer. There are portable scanning devices designed specifically for this purpose. Just make sure to back up your computer information.

#8 Task List
Create some sort of task list system for yourself. It can be pen and paper, mobile device or other option. The key is to make sure it’s easily accessible and that you use it.

#9 Binders
Binders are excellent for storing information that you use often. Recipes, schoolwork, and even receipts can be organized and stored in three ring binders.

#10 10 Minutes, Minimum, of Free Time
While free time isn’t a tool per say, it is essential to get and stay organised. A cluttered mind cannot organise effectively and efficiently. Take time each day to clear your thoughts.

Organise Your Kitchen

Organising your kitchen can take a lot of hard work and planning. Many people find that they have a lot more kitchen gadgets and appliances than they realised. These handy kitchen organisation tips will help you stream line the most important room in your home.

  1. Create zones. On your kitchen countertops and workspaces you probably tend to focus on certain tasks. For example by the sink you probably do most of your chopping. The countertops by the stove are reserved for food prep. And your island may be used for pulling it all together. Make sure your tools fit the job. If you chop and dice fruits and veggies by the sink then the knives should be within easy reach
  2. Hide the rarely used appliances. A kitchen countertop may house a toaster, coffee maker, espresso machine, blender, juicer, grill and so on. Many kitchens have appliance overload. Put away the appliances that are not used on a daily basis. Also, if you can, replace multiple appliances with an appliances that does double duty, for example, a grill which grills food and toasts sandwiches, then you save valuable counter space.
  3. Invest in drawer organisers. There’s nothing worse than not being able to find the utensil you need for the job. Consider creating a countertop utensil holder for the utensils used on a daily basis. The rest get stored in a drawer with a utensil organiser.
  4. Utilise space saving storage. There are so many wonderful storage devices now. You can triple the number of cans a cupboard can hold with a can rack. You can pour cereal into stackable storage containers and eliminate that cluttered shelf full of half full cereal boxes. Determine what you need first and then head to the store for solutions.
  5. Keep it clean. Once your kitchen is good and organised, create systems to keep it clean. A clean kitchen just makes you want to put everything back where it belongs. It’s motivating.

Organising your kitchen doesn’t have to be a lifelong process. Take a look at what you have, what you use and the space available and plan it out before you start making changes. What can you get rid of? How would you like your kitchen to look and feel? Embrace these tips, organise your kitchen and keep it clean. You may just find you never want to leave your newly organised space.

Strategies for an Organised Home Office

The home office is one of the most important places in your home. It’s where your finances are managed, decisions are made and information is stored. If it’s chaotic and disorganised it might mean your finances and important family matters are also disorganised. And if you’re running a business out of your home office then it is crucial for it to be an organised and efficient space.

  1. Identify the purpose. A home office must suit its primary purpose. For example, if a home office is where a business is run then the office should be set up to support that purpose. If it’s instead set up to support family organization then it’s not doing the job.
  2. Use a tier system for organization. Keep all items you use on a daily basis close at hand. Lesser used items can be stored within reach. Items that are only used quarterly or less can be housed in boxes and out of site. An example might be last year’s taxes. Sure, you’ll need to look at them next year but they don’t need to be cluttering your daily work space.
  3. Find a place for everything – and put it there. Sounds simple, right? It should be but for most people it isn’t. That’s because the system they’ve created isn’t working for them. Take the in/out box for example. In theory the in/out box makes sense but an inbox can become overwhelmingly full quickly. Then it just becomes a disorganised pile of papers. Unless someone is in the habit of cleaning out their inbox on a daily basis this system won’t work well for them. Think about your personality and habits. Don’t try to make significant changes in your habits, find ways to work with them. If you only access your inbox once a month then create several inboxes. One for receipts, one for bills, one for miscellaneous information and so on.
  4. Group electronics. Cords are one of the most frustrating and often unsightly aspects of a home office – phone cords, charging stations, printer cords, computer cords, speaker wires the list goes on and on. When you keep your electronics in a single location you can mitigate the cord clutter. And it makes it easier to use cord hiding solutions.
  5. Label properly. Labels are a great way to keep things organized and easy to find. However, if you use a label you want to make sure they give you the full information. For example, a file labelled “taxes” isn’t enough information. Taxes from last year? Five years ago? Ten years ago? Add pertinent information and create a tiered system for your files. For example, create a mail file labelled “taxes” and then separate files for each year. You should be able to find any information in your file cabinet or on your computer in less than thirty seconds.

Organising your home office isn’t a matter of forcing change. Embrace your personality and habits. Be realistic about what you will and won’t do and then create systems to support that.

Laundry Room Storage Solutions

The laundry room is often a neglected space in most homes. It’s often tucked away and surrounded by open wires and pipes. The walls are gray and unfinished and often without a window. The result, of course, when a room is as depressing as most laundry rooms is that no attention or time is spent on the space. Oh sure maybe a wire shelf is hung on the wall so the laundry detergent and supplies have a space but that’s usually about as far as laundry room organisation goes.

Unfortunately when a laundry room is a dismal and disorganized mess no one wants to spend any time in there. Laundry ends up pouring out of the room. You’ll find clean baskets of clothes unfolded and sitting in rooms for days, weeks even. The clean gets mixed with the dirty and the end result is laundry chaos. However, when a laundry room is organised and pleasant to be in, laundry gets done, folded and put away happily.

The essentials of a laundry room:

A laundry room has a few essentials. They include laundry detergent, dirty clothes hampers, drying racks and a folding surface. You may even store your ironing board and iron. You’ll also want baskets to store and deliver the clean clothes.

Storage Ideas

Colorful painted shelving can be added to store laundry supplies. Consider using a small storage bin to keep the laundry detergent, dryer sheets and stain removal items organised. A narrow cupboard can be added to house the drying rack, ironing board and iron. And the surface of the dryer can be covered to provide a surface for folding clothes.

Instead of buying a tall freestanding hamper consider purchasing one that is housed in a cupboard. Then you have extra storage space and a place for your dirty clothes. And don’t forget the trash can for lint removal and all the fun junk found in pockets. You can find these cupboards and smaller storage areas by shopping in the cabinet area of your local home store. Consider also looking at the kitchen cabinets. Often the floor cabinets are small and just the right size for a small laundry room.

Have a jar to collect coins – and any dollar bills – and then treat yourself to something special when the money builds. A great way to reward yourself for all those endless baskets of laundry you do every week.

Dedicate a basket or small bucket to store any single socks you find.  This way all your odd socks are in one place so when its matching pair pops up, you can easily pair them up again.

The fun extras

Making a laundry room welcoming is as simple as painting the walls a bright welcoming colour. Finally, so that people will want to stick around to iron, fold and sort clothing consider adding an element of entertainment. Add a wall mounted television, iPod speakers or other media element to entertain while chores are being done.

The laundry room doesn’t have to be a dismal, depressing and cluttered space. Find simple storage solutions using bright shelving, storage containers and simple cabinetry found at your local home store. Add a splash of color with paint, incorporate media and watch the laundry chores turn into a pleasant pastime.