{31 days of enough time} Use a timer

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

This is a common kitchen timer.

Some of you might remember my yellow egg timer. I think back very fondly on that old timer because it happily lived with me for many years until a certain set of curious twins came along πŸ˜‰

I’ve written a lot about timers in the past because they’re so effective at keeping you focussed and on track. They also really help with Parkinson’s Law.

The kitchen ones are better than the ones on your phone because they make that loud, annoying ticking sound which forces me to focus and get things done.

I was almost sure I wrote a post about using my iphone timer but I can’t find it now?

I personally like to play games against the timer (isn’t it fun being in my head?!) and see if I can beat it. E.g. if I want to tidy my study, I’ll set the timer for 15 minutes and see if I can finish before the timer goes off.

(I like 15-minute intervals – long enough to get stuck into something, but not so long that I get distracted)

Do you use a timer?

Which do you prefer? Old-fashioned kitchen timer or the one on your phone?

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.comRead my previous posts about timers here and here and here.

Fun on Friday – washi tape inspiration

I recently bought a stack of new washi tape so some reorganising of my baskets had to happen. I have a few other rolls in the cupboard too but these are the ones I use most often for creating.

I kept the rolls with only a little tape on the top and I even let the kids choose a roll each to decorate their notebooks one night while I was cooking. If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen that photo.

Crafting with washi tape = distraction for the kids while I cook πŸ™‚

I let the kids play with some of the small rolls to finish them off and make space for new tape
Think about what you can use baskets for, and organise something this weekend.

What will you organise?

Storing the brag books

Remember the brag book I told you about before?

That was my first one but after its success, I now do one for every birthday. I also do the card books with binder rings.

Someone once asked me how I store all these things and I said it really doesn’t take up much space at all.

Look. This little basket has three years’ worth of birthday brag books and birthday/ Christmas cards.

They’re stored on a shelf inside my study and if the kids want to look through them, they’re welcome to do so.

Do you keep any non-traditional photo albums?
How do you store these and your cards?

Favourite shopping in the USA? Stationery!

I’ve been meaning to post about stationery I bought in the USA for awhile now.

I loved loved loved all the things I saw but had to choose fairly light items that were 1) extremely cost-effective and 2) I wouldn’t be able to get in South Africa.


Some of the things I bought (starting bottom right and working clockwise)

(I know I could have put numbers… but I’m letting go of perfectionism one habit at a time)

  1. Jonathan Adler notebooks and little bookbag – Barnes and Noble. The bookbag was $10, can’t remember the price of the notebooks.
  2. 5-pack set of my favourite pens in the world (Pilot 0.7 gel pens) – this set was $5 (R40 at the time – I pay R30 for one pen here)
  3. iDevice USB connector ($10 at Bath and Beyond) in a cute frog shape
  4. cute envelope (Staples) – about $2?
  5. paper clips (not normal ones but these also hold paper together) and matching rubber bands to hold your place in a notebook (Target) – you all know I love my spiral-bound notebooks so I use these a lot
  6. packing tape and washi tape pack from Target (gift from a friend)
  7. Martha Stewart gift tags (about $5 from Staples) – I found these expensive but wanted something cute… and Martha Stewart
  8. green and blue little plastic envelopes from Staples – this is my one regret – that I didn’t just bring 10 home – they are SOOO useful – receipts, I use one for that frog connector and a flash drive I take to work – and they were only 50c each in the clearance bin.
  9. pencils (also Staples) – the best thing about these? they look like real pencils but actually take lead πŸ™‚Β  I bought a pack of about 20 and gave one each to my whole team at work and a couple of extra friends, and anyone else I saw within that first week. Great purchase. I think they were only about $10 and the cuteness plus usefulness factor made them well worth my while.
  10. 3-pack of purple glue stick – Staples. We can get coloured glue stick here but it’s still very expensive. I think these were $3.
  11. Cord organiser – $10 at Staples – to keep all the computer cords neat – I love mine!

I bought some more things but I forgot to take those out so there might be a part two to this if I can get myself organised.

Yes, stationery is my love language πŸ™‚

and yes, I spent a lot of time in Staples. I think I went three times while I was in NYC πŸ™‚

Do you like stationery too?

Which is your favourite item?



My se7en plus 1 favourite organising tools

I wrote an article years ago with my 10 favourite organising tools but I had a look at that list recently and decided I needed to rewrite something because I’ve changed my mind about some of those tools.

Not that they’re bad… but just I keep even less paper than I used to before and I hardly use flipfiles. E.g. a friend asked me once what I do with my magazine clippings and I said, “nothing, I don’t keep any”.

Honestly, if one of the babies is going through a challenge. Let’s hypothetically say whining πŸ˜‰ What is the first thing I do? I go to Ask Moxie or I ask some of my blog friends. I honestly never think, “now where is that baby magazine?” or “oh, I must look in my flipfiles”.

Do you?

Anyway, enough blathering on and on…

This was a guest post on the Se7en blog – she ran a giveaway for my book too and wrote some really nice things about it *blush* πŸ™‚

If you write a blog that appeals to real women (glorious, imperfect women) and you have a nice-sized readership, I’d love you to host a giveaway on your site. Contact me.

Otherwise, if you haven’t yet ordered your copy and you want a physical copy of Live Organised, get it here.

Here are my current se&en +1 favourite organising tools:

1. Notebook and pen

After all these years, it’s still my favourite way to keep my thoughts and life organised. It’s good for menu planning, grocery lists, things to do, errands to run, etc.

2. Clear square or rectangular plastic containers

For food, this is my number one storage solution. When you use square or rectangular options only, your fridge and cupboards look neater and you use your space more efficiently.

3. Masking tape

I found this tip in Confessions of an Organized Homemaker and love it. Masking tape is great for labelling anything. You can wash the dishes and the tape stays on but if you need to change labels, just pull off and it doesn’t leave a mark. These days if I want to make things slightly cuter for things that are on show or of a permanent nature, I use washi tape for labels. Same principle.

4. Baskets

I love baskets to contain things. They work equally well whether in the kichen for all the spice packets, in the bathroom for toiletries or in the bedroom for magazines.


5. Binder rings

These little rings are my new favourites. I’ve used them to hang calendars, to make little scrapbooks, to organise jewellery and my latest (not yet blogged), to hang handbags on my clothing rails.

6. Post-it notes

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of post-it notes. I still buy the good stuff because I want the stickiness to stick and last. They’re great for reminders (take salticrax to work – I have low blood pressure so always keep some salty snacks at work), for quick notes and again, for quick labels.

7. Little bags

I use three little bags within my handbag or gym bag to keep my things organised. It’s easier to find a little bag with your deodorant and ponytail holders than scrounge around amongst takkies and clothes. I also keep a bag (I think it was originally a pencil bag) in my handbag with my make-up bag, camera and a few other odds and ends.

and my newest favourite, my +1…



Love them, especially when they’re cute. Use to keep bags of food closed, as a quick label (can you tell I’m a visual organiser?!), to display birthday and Christmas cards, art work, or just to organise piles of paper on your desk.

What’s your current favourite organising tool?

Favourite organising tools #17 : binder rings

I had never heard of binder rings til I started stalking crafting blogs.

Especially blogs where the people made anything to do with paper, like mini books.

I love stationery…with a passion.

Eventually I cracked and asked a blog friend to buy and send some to me. Since for some crazy reason we don’t make them in South Africa.

I know, it’s terrible!

She sent me about 50 and I’ve made such good use of them I was more than half way through my stash in about a month. And I don’t even make stuff for other people.

Here’s a couple of things I did with my binder rings:

Organised Christmas cards

In South Africa people don’t really send a lot of Christmas cards so I mainly get from my overseas friends.

I only keep the ones either with pics of my friends’ kids or ones with meaningful messages.

In 2010 I had about 7 – 8 to keep and I was very pleased to use my binder rings to organise those.

Organised birthday cards

I kept all the cards from the babies’ birthday this year, punched them and used my binder rings to hold them all together.

Hooking up my calendar

The hook inside my wardrobe is way bigger than that tiny little punched hole in my calendar.

In the days before binder rings (I like to call them the dark days :)), I tied a piece of ribbon through the calendar and then on the hook.

A big schlep every month when I changed the pages.

But not any more. Look.

Do you also love binder rings?

What other uses can you think of for them? What are your favourite ways to use them?

PS Have you booked your place on Spring into Organising yet?

A quick organising thought for the weekend and {winner} of Clutter Rehab

While I was reading through all the comments on the Clutter Rehab giveaway post, I noticed an interesting trend.

A lot of us favour the good old notebook and pen (or pencil) as our organising tool of choice.

I love it.

That is all.

No, not quite πŸ˜‰

I brought home my work notebook and a new notebook this weekend to sort out so that I’m all set for 1 August next week.

Do you know why?

Because even after ALL these years, I still constantly flirt with different organising systems within the notebook and pen system.

It’s not that they don’t work for me; they do. It’s just that I know myself and when something starts being a bit annoying, I’m less likely to use it and then the overwhelm starts.

Which is exactly what happened.

The smaller size blue notebook I had been using, while exceptionally cute, is just not big enough for my daily notes. The lines on the page are also not spacious enough for my medium-size handwriting.

All this to say, don’t beat yourself up about having one system and sticking to it consistently.

I’ve said many times on the blog that part of organising is tweaking.

This weekend, consider your planning tool.

Is it working for you? If not, what needs to change?

And now, onto the winner.

I used random.org…

and the winner is Jacinta who said this:

Jacinta, please email me with your postal address by no later by Tuesday 2nd otherwise I’ll have to choose another winner.

Thanks, everyone, for playing along.

Have a WONDERFUL weekend!

10 must-have organising tools that won’t break the bank

There are some things in life I just can’t do without. These 10 organising tools are a must in my house and really help to keep us organised.

Notebook and pen

I have notebooks all over the house, one next to my bed, one on the entrance hall table, one in my handbag, one in the car, etc. It is easier to jot some notes down immediately without losing the thought than to have to try to remember it.


Flipfiles are so useful – in the kitchen alone, I use two – one for my favourite recipes and one for my household organising file (you get this as part of the Organise your home system). We also use a flipfile as our travel file and put all our printables from the internet of tours we want to take, checklists, etc.

Masking tape

I got this excellent tip from Confessions of an Organized Homemaker. I use masking tape for labels everywhere. The tape is really easy to write on with both a pen and a marker. Use in the kitchen to label your leftovers in the fridge and also on your storage containers in the cupboards.

Permanent marker

Use a permanent marker to label virtually everything. This is one of the main tricks to keep your home organised. It is all good and well to have everything nicely sorted but if you can’t remember what’s in each container without having to look inside then it’s a bit useless, isn’t it? My house has a permanent marker in the kitchen, one in my handbag and a couple in the study.

Post-it notes

I use post-it notes for labels on storage boxes. If you use the proper branded ones, they stick on everything and last forever. Don’t waste your time with the cheap stuff. My fridge is labelled with post-its – the same ones stay for upwards of 6 months and still look as good as new. There is no sign of non-stickiness. Use in the fridge, on shelves, shoeboxes, trays, magazine holders, etc.

Clear square or rectangular plastic storage containers

Once you start using clear containers, you will never go back to the opaque stuff. You’ll always know what’s in there and find your food doesn’t waste as often. You can pack more stuff into a space if you use square or rectangular containers than if you use round ones. Use them in the kitchen for food and in the study for paperclips, staples, etc.

Ziploc bags

Use Ziploc bags for sandwiches, freezing food, holding vegetables, for toiletries when travelling, for all your camera or MP3 player attachments, if you’re going on a day trip and need to take some sunblock and mosquito repellent, etc.


I use Prestik to stick up shopping and menu lists in the kitchen, a recipe on the cupboard when I’m baking (so it doesn’t get dirty), Christmas cards on the side of the wall unit (so they don’t take up space on a shelf) and to stick up a pen and my goals list in my wardrobe.

Elastic bands

Use to close bags of chips, sweets or vegetables or to keep your gift wrap in a neat roll. They are easier to use on freezer bags than those clips you get in the packets.

Perpetual calendar

Set it up once with all the birthdays, anniversaries and special events, and you use the same one, year in and year out. Diarise to check it around the 27th of every month for upcoming birthdays and you are all prepared! I’ll tell you a secret – I even set up all my birthday emails beforehand and then postpone them to only deliver on the person’s birthday.

Additional tips can be found in a blog series I did called

Favourite organising tools

Do you want to use this article? You may, as long as you include this complete bio with it:

Marcia Francois is a time management coach and speaker who helps busy women break out of overwhelm, make the most of their time and take purposeful and focussed action. Visit http://marciafrancois.com for your free Organising Success Pack.

If you’d like help creating a life you absolutely love, contact me about my coaching services.

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