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Getting organized in 2014

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Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 1:45 pm

The holidays are over, the calendar has turned a new page and, like many people, you find yourself with a renewed enthusiasm for self-improvement. According to statistics from the University of Scranton, nearly half of Americans regularly make New Year’s resolutions, with weight loss, organization and improved finances ranking among their top three goals.

If getting your home in order is at the top of your 2014 to-do list, try these tips to help send clutter packing:

• Identify goals and assign deadlines. Start by narrowing down what you want to organize. Is it your garage? Your kitchen? Your kids’ rooms? Put it in writing and designate a deadline for accomplishing your goal. The more specific the deadline, the better.

• Break the goals into bite-size pieces. Tackling a large organization project all at once can be intimidating. Avoid getting overwhelmed by the enormity of the task by establishing a series of smaller, more manageable, goals that will be easier to accomplish.

• Reward successes. Keep yourself motivated by designating an enticing reward for each goal you accomplish. You may even look forward to crossing tasks off your list if you know there’s a treat waiting in the wings.

• One in, two out. As you put away holiday gifts, take the opportunity to clear clutter throughout the house. A good rule of thumb is to donate, sell or toss two counterparts for every new item received.

• Utilize the Four Box Method. Gather three boxes and a trash bin. Label the boxes “Keep,” “Donate/Sell” and “Store.” Items to be thrown away belong in the trash bin. Ask yourself as you pick up each piece of clutter, “Do I want to keep this, sell/donate it, store it or toss it?” After you’ve made a decision about each item and concluded the decluttering session, give yourself 15 minutes to put the items away.

• Keep at it. According to researcher Richard Wiseman, 88 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. Why? Changing a behavior requires developing a new habit. And, developing a new habit sometimes requires hard work and commitment. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t achieve perfect organization all at once. The important thing is to take aim at the problem and to eliminate clutter one step at a time.

• Andy Warren is president of Maracay Homes, the Arizona subsidiary of the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company. He serves on the board of directors for the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona and Greater Phoenix Leadership; as well as the board of directors and as an executive committee member with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. He is also an active member of the Urban Land Institute.

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Keystone Montessori

[David Jolkovski/AFN]
Teacher Pily Pantoja helps Sarah Wang, 4, with the addition snake game at Keystone Montessori on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014.

Keystone Montessori has come a long way since its founding in 1995. Back then it was operated out of the founder’s home before eventually moving on to rent rooms from Horizon Presbyterian Church. It was only in 2000 that they had gained a strong enough enrollment to move into the facility where they currently reside on Liberty Lane, just off Desert Foothills Parkway and across from the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA.

The school services students as young as 18 years old, as part of their toddler program, and as old as ninth-graders. The current enrollment is around 320 students, who all have access to Spanish, music and arts programs in addition to the full Montessori curriculum.

“We provide an authentic Montessori education which focuses on the independence and whole development of the child, including academic as well as social and emotional growth,” said head of school Cindy Maschoff. “We want our students to become independent citizens of the world.”

The school will be taking the time to present the concept of Montessori education to the public Jan. 29 and 30. At the presentations the school will provide a clear understanding of what Montessori education looks like at each level of education. Those wanting to attend should plan on going to both meetings, with the Jan. 29 meeting going from 6-7 p.m. and the Jan. 30 meeting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The meetings require attendees to RSVP, which can be done by emailing laura@keystonemontessori.com.

For more information, visit keystonemontessori.com.

• Compiled by James Gingerich.

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