Organize + Energize: 6 Productivity Habits My Parents Taught Me When I Was Young

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


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I often get asked if I was always organized and if I grew up in an organized home. The answer is yes, and yes! My parents each transferred different skills to me. My dad, a successful small business owner, taught me great business skills and my mom taught me organizing skills in the home.  

I learned most of this skill set before the age of 8, but as I grew older, I took these skills to another level of efficiency and productivity. Here are 6 productivity habits my parents taught me:

How to fold/hang clothes.  I remember this event like it was yesterday. I was at dance class when I was about 7 years old and my mom came into the waiting room with me. I had just taken off my jeans to get ready for class and my mom said, “Go hang up your jeans on a hanger.” I came back with the hanger and couldn’t figure out how to hang the jeans on the hanger. It must have taken me 3 or 4 times to get it right and I remember my mom getting frustrated with me and then I finally got it right. Later in life, I was a manager at The Gap and it took my folding skills to another level. If you’ve ever been in a Gap store, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a skill set that can be learned at a very young age.  Do your kids know how to fold their clothes and put them away?  You’d be surprised at how many kids don’t know how to fold or hang clothes. 

How to maintain a calendar.  My mom taught me the importance of using a calendar. I had to keep track of dance classes, after-school events, birthday parties, and important homework and project dates to remember. It was important to keep track of these dates.  This calendar sat on my desk, and I kept track of everything. I don’t think I ever missed an event. Start your kids with a paper calendar so they can write everything down and make notes. Using a paper calendar will allow them to see their weeks ahead in front of them. 

How to file paperwork/bills.  At 18, I opened up my own bank account, opened my first visa and got my own phone line in my parent’s house. With that came mail addressed to me! So exciting! I had to develop a system to handle this incoming mail. My mom suggested that I purchase a small file box. I bought a black file box and grabbed some white envelopes and wrote the names of the accounts on them. When a bill came in, I filed it in my calendar on the day I wanted to pay it. I then paid it and filed it in the corresponding envelope in my file box. When I went to the bank to deposit money, the slip got filed in the envelope in the file box. Give your kids a little independence. Help them set up a filing box and get them started on maintaining a filing system. 

Plan and prepare. I was taught by both my parents that if you have an event to attend, an assignment due or a trip to make, don’t wait until the last minute to prepare. Don’t waste time. If it needs to get done, do it.  Getting things done efficiently and quickly allows you to spend more time on the things you enjoy doing. If a project needed to be completed, I knew if I completed it right away, it would leave me more time to play outside. Don’t procrastinate. 

Appreciate and take care of your belongings. My dad’s work trucks were always immaculate. I always saw my mom and dad taking great care in their belongings. When you appreciate things, you take care of them. I started working when I was 15. I worked hard for my money and bought my own clothes. I took care of my belongings because I knew I bought them with my hard earned money. Why would I throw my clothes on the floor and leave them in a pile? I would hang them up because I knew how much I paid for them. I knew if I took care of my things they would last longer. This transferred to big tickets items as I grew older. Teach your kids to respect their belongings. 

How to do things right the first time.  My dad always taught me that if you are going to do something, you do it right the first time.  I love this quote by my dad, “Being organized makes you more profitable because you don’t waste any time. Every shot has to count. Meaning, everything you do, you can’t waste time and energy. Put your nose to the grind and get it done right the first time. Time relates to money.  Bottom line, the more time you waste looking for things, it turns into money lost.” 

These skills are just some ways my parents have helped mold me into the efficient, organized, and productive adult I am today. I’m so grateful that my parents taught me so many great lessons. Take the time to sit with your kids and transfer some of the organizational skills that will help them become organized, efficient and productive adults. They will thank you for it, just as I have thanked my parents. 

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Kristin Carcieri-MacRae, the founder and owner of Organizing in RI, has always enjoyed finding creative ways to streamline the environment around her. She has appeared on air on Patricia Raskin's Positive Business Radio and her articles have been published in the Rhode Island Small Business Journal and New England Home Life. Kristin's CD, Organizing Basics, is a 1-hour guide for the person who wants to get organized but doesn't know where to start. She is also available for organizing workshops. Tune into her weekly radio show, Organize, Energize! on   


Related Slideshow: 5 Organizing Blunders

Avoid these mistakes and your project will take less time than you expected. You won’t be as stressed or as overwhelmed as you anticipated. You will be amazed at what you have accomplished. You will be motivated and energized to tackle another project.

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Not planning ahead

Getting organized is a process and you have to have a plan on how to conquer your project. You can’t tear apart an entire room all at once. You need to break the project down into small pieces. Plan to tackle your project in 3-hour increments. If you work longer than 3 hours at a time, you are setting yourself up for burnout. Plan ahead to try to avoid distractions and stay focused.

Click here for more tips on how to avoid distractions.

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Purchasing the incorrect supplies

I know you are excited to get organized, but don’t rush out to the store and purchase products just because you like the way they look. Get organized first. Figure out what you need to contain, and then purchase your container to match the items you need it to hold." target="_blank">Click here for more on choosing the right container.

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Not letting others know about your system

Once you set up the organized system, you have to get everybody in your home on board. Show them the systems and how you are going to function with this system going forward. Label everything if you must, so everybody gets in the habit of putting items away. Remember, the simpler the system, the easier it’s going to be to maintain." target="_blank">Need help creating those systems? Go here.

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Not maximizing your space

Use every inch of space and use it well. Take everything out of the area you are organizing. You can’t get a clear visual of the space if it is filled with clutter. Shifting items around is not going to work.

Here are more tips on maximizing your space.

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Repeatedly clearing spaces

You are creating more work for yourself if you continue to clear spaces once a month. Create a system and allow everything in your home to have its own place, and you will never have to clear a space again.

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Kristin Carcieri-MacRae

Kristin Carcieri-MacRae, the founder and owner of Organizing in RI, has always enjoyed finding creative ways to streamline the environment around her. She has appeared on air on Patricia Raskin's Positive Business Radio and her articles have been published in the Rhode Island Small Business Journal and New England Home Life. Kristin's CD, Organizing Basics, is a 1-hour guide for the person who wants to get organized but doesn't know where to start. She is also available for organizing workshops. Tune into her weekly radio show, Organize, Energize! on Mondays at 8:30am on


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