Workshop offers tips on orderly life - 02/09/05
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News from Utica, Shelby Township, Macomb Township, Clinton Township, Mount Clemens

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

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Ankur Dholakia / The Detroit News

Debbie Tebbe, a professional organizer, speaks to a crowd at the Shelby Township library about how to manage clutter in their daily lives. . Tebbe is a professional organizer who advocates applying methods she honed in the corporate world to people's personal lives.

Workshop offers tips on orderly life

Professional organizer speaks on how to ease stress by streamlining at Shelby Twp. library.

How to get organized

Here are more organizing tips shared by Debbie Tebbe:

Let family members help with chores. Young children can learn to make their beds and put away toys.

Avoid the morning rush. Lay out clothes and pack lunches, backpacks and briefcases the night before.

Stock up on items while shopping to avoid a run to the store for one thing.

Charge utility bills to your credit card if you can to streamline bill-paying. Online bill paying isn't always secure.

Purge clothes regularly. If you haven't worn something in a year, give it to a charity or throw it away. Or get rid of an item whenever you buy a new item.

Clean one room at a time and use three bags (donate, throw away or keep) to sort items.

Keep clean and folded bed sheets together by storing them in a matching pillowcase.

Take a picture of a toy you want to give away to help a sentimental child remember the item. It's easier storing a picture than keeping an unused toy.

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP -- Managing your time is the key to organizing your life, according to professional organizer Debbie Tebbe.

Tebbe spoke recently at the public library to some 50 people who came for a workshop called "Clutter's Last Stand: It's Time to Organize."

"Clutter has a lot to do with time management," Tebbe said. "Everyone has 24 hours in a day. Think of Donald Trump. Think of the president."

"But they have help, we don't," replied an audience member.

Tebbe replied that even without help, many people can use their time more efficiently.

"If you watch a lot of TV, that's a 'time thief,'"

Tebbe said in the sunlit atrium. "You could be doing crafts or other things. You first need to make time to find a home for everything. Then you don't have to figure out later where to put it again."

A St. Clair Shores resident, Tebbe said she worked for years in the corporate world.

Her bosses noted that she was "very organized." Her own company, "Organized Happy Helper," helps clients plan special events, clean and organize their homes and offices, and update computers.

At the workshop, Tebbe recommended keeping appointments, to-do lists, menus, and donations to charity in a planner or organizer. "Writing it down reduces the stress of trying to remember plans or finding notes on paper scraps."

Tebbe recommends planning an errand day once a week to consolidate trips and save gas. She also suggests spending 15 minutes each day prioritizing work and personal plans. "And don't forget to schedule some time for yourself."

Tebbe offered ways to avoid "time thieves":

Say "no" more often. Useful lines: "I'll check my schedule" (even if you have a calendar with you); "I'll get back with you after I check with my wife/husband;" "I'll think about it and call you back;" "I'll take it if someone else can take this other job off my plate."

Multitask while exercising: read or talk on the phone.

Record a television show. Watch it later, zipping past commercials.

Screen calls with an answering machine.

Return calls and e-mails in one time block instead of individually.

Find related papers quickly by using color-coded files for different categories, such as family members, finances and clients.

"People called us to say they would take time off work to come" to the workshop, said library Director Judi Chambers. Reference Librarian Sue Ferrell arranged the weekday event.

"The best tip I got from the workshop was to use colored folders," said Becky Thompson of Shelby Township.

Another township resident, Sue Frailey, said she wanted ideas to help deal with her husband's medical appointments. Now, she said, she's thinking about "time thieves, especially phone calls, and ways to say 'no' and how to use a planner."

Cindy Hampel is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.



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