Historic Week with Coronavirus

Once again, the coronavirus dominated financial market news this week and caused nearly unprecedented daily movements. While stocks posted enormous losses, bonds lost some of their appeal as an alternative, and mortgage rates rose roughly one-half percent from recent record low levels.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, investors generally have reduced risk in their portfolios by selling stocks and buying bonds, including mortgage-backed securities (MBS). This added demand for MBS helped mortgage rates decline. The heavy selling in the stock market continued this week, but it appears that many investors are hesitant to purchase bonds at current low yields and are instead choosing to let assets remain in cash. Part of the reluctance to buy them is due to expectations for additional government fiscal stimulus (see below), which would be funded by increased issuance of Treasuries. A larger supply of bonds would push yields higher.

Economists widely agree that the appropriate response to help offset the economic effects of the coronavirus involves both fiscal stimulus from governments and monetary stimulus from central banks. While the proposed government action will take some time to implement, global central banks quickly added monetary stimulus this week. The US Fed expanded its bond purchase program and provided much needed liquidity. The European Central Bank (ECB) held rates steady at Thursday’s meeting but provided additional lending programs to support troubled businesses.

The most significant economic report released this week indicated that core inflation has remained stable in recent months, as expected. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a widely followed monthly indicator that looks at the price change for goods and services. In February, core CPI, which excludes the volatile food and energy components, was 2.4% higher than a year ago, up from an annual rate of increase of 2.3% as last month.


Business In Full Bloom

What began in 1944 on Boston’s Newbury Street with a pushcart of flowers, a father-son duo, and a dream, has since turned into a forward-thinking floral design business that remains one of the most highly regarded in the nation. Winston Flowers, now headed by founder Robert Winston’s grandsons, Ted and David, continues to excel at catering to its discerning clientele.

You’re located in New England and have several locations across the region. How have you grown since the business started? What about New England shapes your business? Ted: We’ve grown to have seven shops and two design studios: one in Boston, the other in New York city. Our father, Maynard, was incredibly forward-thinking. In the early 1970s, he started importing flowers that New Englanders could normally only buy for a brief season, like freesias, lisianthuses, and orchids. These exotic new varieties played a large role in the company’s growth and success.

David: The beauty of New England is in its seasons, and the constantly changing landscape is the single biggest influence on our designs. We rotate collections nine times annually in order to offer the freshest, most in-season flowers, and, when possible, we buy from local growers. From late summer to early fall, nearly 70 percent of all our products are native to New England. At other times, it is necessary to import in order to successfully supply flowers year-round, but the aesthetic of our design is always tied to the current season.

What does it mean to you to work with local growers? What does it mean for your business? D: With our local partners, we have close relationships with both the products and the people. We can go to the farm, see the product growing, and know we’re receiving it the same day that it was picked. As a result, our relationships with local growers are very personal and long-standing. In fact, nearly all of the local growers that we work with are generational businesses just like ours. It also allows us to secure one-of-a-kind varieties. We work with a vendor to grow Queen Red Lime zinnias, which is a stunning variety featuring deep burgundy outer petals that gradually lighten to a creamy lime center.

Does Winston Flowers have a unique style? What are your favorite blooms?  D: Since our style is based on the seasons, it is constantly evolving. The hallmarks of a Winston Flowers arrangement are seasonality, texture, attention to detail, larger-than-average blooms, unique vessels, and standout design. We’re very intentional with color—generally staying within a single color palette for each design. Our favorite flowers are in-season and a bit obscure. One local grower we often work with offers rare dahlia varieties, such as the Café au Lait dahlia and Black dahlia. Every element of design is important, so we also have nonfloral elements grown for our arrangements. For example, we ask our vendors to grow mint, raspberry foliage, sedum, and other novelty grass varieties like northern sea oats.

What is your process like for the various events you cover? How do the types of flowers you use help contribute to an event’s aesthetic? D: We start by working with the client to determine their design sensibility and overall vision for the event. Other important factors we consider include the time of year, venue or environment, and occasion. Our flower offerings vary with the seasons. Some of our most popular flowers are amaryllis, calla lilies, and orchids for winter; anemones, tulips, ranunculus, hyacinths, and daffodils for early spring; peonies, lilacs, and sweet peas for late spring; garden roses, delphiniums, scabiosa, and hydrangeas for summer; and dahlias and sunflowers for late summer. We also use lots of fruits, texture, and foliage for autumn. From there, we offer ideas and collaborate closely with clients to bring their vision to life. Our goal is always to use our expertise to help clients express their sense of style—not to impose ours on them.

Is there an event that you would describe as a highlight for the business? T: Our favorite events are ones that are personal to the client. We’ve worked with families that have long histories in locations like Martha’s Vineyard, and when their children grow up, they’ll have weddings at their family home. It’s such a pleasure for us to help make an important event beautiful in a setting that’s both gorgeous and highly personal.

What’s a memorable story you have from working with a particular client? T: In 2014, Winston Flowers was honored to provide the florals for a state dinner at the White House. To ensure a flawless event, we sent twenty team members to Washington, DC, to assist with the setup and installation. A few weeks after the dinner, the event planner sought us out to tell us that he’d received rave reviews about our team from the White House staff members. To us, that’s the ultimate compliment, as our goal is always to execute a flawless event.

How do you make people feel special through the art of flower arranging?  D: Because flowers are grown from the earth, arranged by hand, and ultimately fleeting, they feel incredibly personal. There’s a reason for the expression “Say it with flowers.” They have a way of expressing any emotion—from sorrow to appreciation to love.

Philanthropy seems to be another important part of your business. Would you tell us more about your charitable efforts? T: Philanthropy is a very important aspect of what we do. Winston Flowers regularly offers in-kind floral donations and at-cost rates to local nonprofit organizations in New York, Boston, and Greenwich for annual galas and fund-raisers.

In 2010, we sought to formalize a “give-back” program and created the philanthropic initiative called Charity in Bloom. Through this program, Winston Flowers donates 20 percent of retail proceeds from the sale of a custom arrangement to a different nonprofit partner each month. Now in its tenth year and managed by my wife, Simone Winston, Charity in Bloom has raised over $2 million and has donated funds to more than thirty nonprofit institutions on the East Coast.

In the spirit of my father’s hands-on approach, both of us are active on numerous boards and encourage associates who work for Winston Flowers to make a difference in the community. That’s why you’ll see team members doing floral workshops or demonstrations for clients of [women’s shelter] Rosie’s Place and [homeless shelter] the Pine Street Inn, as well as design classes for young students at Perkins School for the Blind.

Do you find that Winston Flowers follows trends? D: We like to keep an eye on trends in order to stay relevant and keep our designs interesting. There’s a parallel with the farm-to-table trend in food and the floral industry—people want local, in-season products that feel natural and organic. An emphasis is placed on nonfloral seasonal elements like berries, herbs, pods, and vines. Loosely arranged, textured designs are also popular, and our 2019 collections have reflected that aesthetic.

What’s something about working in the floral industry that not many people would know? T: It’s an incredibly personal business. We work with people at some of the most monumental moments in their lives, and, as a result, we’ve developed intimate relationships with many of our clients. It also requires a lot of hard work and passion. During the holidays, for example, we’re working hardest when everyone else is celebrating. You have to really love what you’re doing and take pride in making celebrations beautiful for others.

For more info, visit winstonflowers.com

Commercial Real Estate Projections Look Bright For Orange County

A panel of experts in the SoCal rental market was optimistic about the future of Orange County’s commercial real estate into 2023.

Commercial real estate in Orange County was projected to improve into 2023, experts say.


ORANGE COUNTY, CA — A three-year outlook forecast projects a bright future for California’s commercial real estate market will continue to improve.

A panel of experts at the biannual Winter 20202 Allen Matkins/UCLA Anderson Forecast California Commercial Real Estate Survey was optimistic that Orange County rental rates would increase faster than inflation while vacancy rates would be lower.

Though economic projections show a slowing in the economy for 2020, developers’ views on most California commercial real estate in 2022 are optimistic. There is an eagerness to get in on the ground floor of the next commercial real estate expansionary cycle, according to a UCLA economic forecast released Wednesday.

The panel projected a look ahead over the next three years of California’s commercial real estate industry, forecasting potential opportunities and challenges that may impact office space, multi-family, retail, and industrial sectors.

Overall, survey panelists for each market, except for retail, predict that 2022 will be as good or better than 2019, according to a statement accompanying the survey.


Panelists were optimistic about industrial and multi-family projects, while office markets are neutral, and retail space sentiment generally remains pessimistic.

While recent surveys indicated that the peak of the office market had been reached in the current cycle, the latest study suggests a beginning of a return to confidence by 2022.

In the San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles markets, this optimism is confined to rental rates, with only a slight decline in occupancy.

These views are consistent with the perspective of most economists that the California economy will return to faster growth in 2022, and will generate new jobs requiring additional office space.

With the industrial market currently dominated by warehouses serving continued growth in e-commerce, survey panelists don’t see the red-hot industrial market pulling back any time between now and 2022.

Activity throughout Northern California and the Inland Empire is expected to remain at the same level of strength as Wednesday. At the same time, the Los Angeles market was also expected to improve. Both space shortages near ports and a current but temporary downturn in trade are attributed to those projections.

An expansion of the Los Angeles industrial market will ultimately be driven by the implementation of multi-story edifices with productivity enhanced by robotics and new technologies to manage the high-rise warehouses, according to the statement. While the timing of these technologies is still unknown, they are expected to help drive Los Angeles industrial property values when rolled out in the years to come.

While the last survey saw a glimmer of hope for a moderate retail rebound, sentiment in this space has returned to pessimism—panelists have given retail its lowest values since this survey began collecting retail predictions four years ago.

This pessimism is likely fueled by the constant shift to online shopping and the weaker-than-expected start to the 2019 holiday shopping season. A weakness in the demand for the revitalization of existing retail space is also driving this pessimism.

City News Service, Patch Editor Ashley Ludwig contributed to this report.

LA residents spent $40 billion on rent in 2018, says report

It’s no secret that Los Angeles rental prices are some of the highest in the nation, but a new analysis from HotPads, a rental database owned by Zillow, illustrates just how much tenants collectively spend on housing each year.

According to the report, renters in the LA metropolitan area, which includes Los Angeles and Orange counties, paid $40.4 billion in rent during 2018. By comparison, that’s more than 423 of the companies on the most recent Fortune 500 list earned in yearly revenue.

Los Angeles was second only to New York in terms of total rent paid, and Angelenos accounted for an astonishing 12 percent of the $504.4 billion spent on monthly rent in the United States during the past year.

LA tenants coughed up around $1.9 billion more in rent during 2018 than the year before, according to the report. But if recent trends continue, local renters may see costs level off a bit in the year to come.

Within the city of Los Angeles, prices dipped slightly in December, according to a separate report from Apartment List. The median cost of leasing a one-bedroom apartment was $1,360 during the month, down from $1,370 in November.

Two-bedroom prices also dipped slightly during the month. They dropped to $1,750, after sitting at $1,760 since late summer.

Those prices are still up since the same time last year, but only by about 1.5 percent. That’s about half the yearly increase allowed under the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance, suggesting that LA’s competitive rental market has cooled off significantly since the beginning of the year.

But those numbers only tell part of the story.

Apartment List bases its calculations on U.S. Census data, giving a decent idea of what Angelenos are paying for rent right now. Meanwhile, real estate analyst CoStar uses active listings to get an estimate of what prices those looking for a new apartment are likely to find when searching online.

According to CoStar, the average price of a one-bedroom in Los Angeles County was $1,703 in December. Two-bedroom apartments commanded prices of $2,166. Each of those figures represents an approximately 3 percent increase over a year earlier, but prices have barely budged in the second half of the year.

Between July and the end of the year, prices for both one- and two-bedroom units rose less than a percentage point.


Source: https://la.curbed.com/2019/1/2/18165436/los-angeles-how-much-rent-costs-prices

Business Opportunity Zones! Call Us For Many Opportunities Available And Take Advantage Of The Future In Investing.

Despite being hyped the Next Big Thing in real estate, investor interest in Opportunity Zones hasn’t materialized as fund managers, developers and government officials had hoped.

But on Thursday, the IRS and Treasury released the final set of regulations for the federal program, providing investors and developers more certainty over the rules and regulations that govern how real estate money can be deployed into the 8,700 areas across the country. At minimum, the real estate world can no longer blame government inaction as the reason for not investing in the program.

The new regulations, spelled out in a 544-page document, ultimately provide more flexibility to real estate investors, developers and funds, according to Steve Glickman, Develop LLC founder who helped create the Opportunity Zone program. The new rules will provide large investment funds the clarity they need to finally feel comfortable investing in the program, he said.

The new regulations “provide more flexibility for when [funds] have to deploy capital, more flexibility for how much those funds have to invest in assets, and they provide more flexibility for how governments can use leases in order to put public assets to better use,” said Glickman.

The federal Opportunity Zone program gives developers and investors the ability to defer or potentially forgo paying capital gains taxes if they invest in a designated Opportunity Zone. The first regulations were released in October 2018 and the second set of rules was released in April. Investors and developers have to deploy capital by the end of the year to claim the biggest tax benefit.

The Opportunity Zone program was the most talked about play in real estate last year, but expectations and hype has cooled down due to some of the challenges of finding attractive properties to develop in the designated zones.

Many funds have had trouble raising capital. Of a sampling of 103 Opportunity Zone Funds that sought to raise $22.7 billion so far they raised only $3 billion, according to a recent report by accounting firm Novogradac & Co.

Then there’s Anthony Scaramucci’s SkyBridge Capital, which first sought to raise $3 billion, but is now seeking just $300 million.

More favorable rules for real estate investors

The new rule changes should help alleviate the uncertainty that caused big investment funds to back away from the program.

One benefit is that the new rules allow investors, developers and fund managers more time to complete an Opportunity Zone project, according to Glickman. Under the initial proposed regulations, an Opportunity Zone project had to be completed in 31 months from when the money was first invested in a project. The new rules give a developer 62 months to complete an Opportunity Zone project. This is crucial for real estate developers, since permitting and entitlements can be complicated and projects can take years before getting off the ground.

Another benefit under the new rules is for developers building on Brownfield sites and vacant lots in Opportunity Zones. Under the regulations, developers can more easily qualify for the tax benefits if they build on these properties.

If a developer is building in a Brownfield site in an Opportunity Zone, the project will count as an “original use” property as opposed to a property that needs to be substantially improved. This means that a developer only needs to build on the site in order to qualify for the tax benefits rather than doubling the value of the property.

The regulations were released a time when the program has come under increased scrutiny and criticism as a tax break for the rich.

News outlets have documented how developers have lobbied governments to include their projects as Opportunity Zones such as in West Palm Beach, Baltimore and Chicago.

Some Democrats are asking for more tracking and data collection on where the money is going and the economic impact that the program is generating. This was something not addressed in the final regulations.

The latest weekly market update has arrived. Will we see an interest rate cut?


Housing Starts Surge

It was a quiet week for mortgage rates. There were no significant new developments with China or Iran, and the reaction to the economic data was small. As a result, rates ended the week nearly unchanged.

A lack of inventory has been holding back home sales in many regions, so Friday’s report on home construction was very encouraging. In December, housing starts rocketed 17% from November, which completely blew away the consensus forecast, and were at the best level since 2006. They were a massive 41% higher than a year ago. The strength was seen across the board in both single-family and multi-family units.

Since consumer spending accounts for about 70% of all economic activity in the US, the monthly retail sales data is a key indicator of growth. The latest report revealed that consumer spending remained solid during the important holiday shopping season. In December, retail sales rose 0.3% from November and were up an impressive 5.8% from one year ago. Once again, the greatest improvement was seen in online sales.

As expected, inflation held steady in December. According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a widely followed monthly inflation report that looks at the price change for goods and services, core inflation was 2.3% higher than a year ago. This was the same annual rate of increase as last month.

Looking ahead, it will be a very light week for economic data. Of note, Existing Home Sales will be released on Wednesday. Beyond that, the next European Central Bank meeting will take place on Thursday. In addition, news about Iran or the trade negotiations with China could have an influence.

Easy Ways to Add Privacy to Your Home

The Top 5 Ways to Effectively Stage Your Home in Winter

Depending on where you live, winter can give your home a dreary effect, especially when trying to sell. Instead, aim to wow potential buyers as they peruse through your home with staging tips that will take your space from drab to fab.

Set the scene. While the warmer months may be more ideal for the overall home selling process, winter doesn’t have to be a dead end. Just like every other season, there are pros and cons—and it’s important to play to what everyone loves about the season. Add more pillows and throws to the living room to create a cozy ambiance, frame winter wonderland-esque pictures, and make use of warm-toned colors as much as possible.

Start from the outside. Sprucing up the exterior of your home may be easier when it’s sunny, the garden is prospering, and flowers are in bloom, but curb appeal in winter exists too. If snow is on the ground, make sure to shovel and salt your driveway and walkways. Add some winter porch decor—like a doormat, a lantern, or a pinecone wreath for the full winter effect. Don’t forget about the less glamorous work, like cleaning out the gutters and trimming the bushes and trees.

Light it up. We all dread the loss of natural light as we head further into winter, but don’t let that affect how your home looks. Open your curtains, blinds, and turn on the main lights in your house. The right lighting makes all the difference—and not just on Instagram.

Make the fireplace the focal point. If you have a working fireplace, play it up by decorating the mantle with pictures of winter scenes, and even light the fire to top off the cozy feeling of your interior. Place candles on top of the mantle as well, but don’t light them if they’re scented, as that may deter people from appreciating the ambiance.

Store away winter gear. No one wants to see dripping wet snow boots in the entryway, or hats and gloves lying around. Decluttering is important all year round, but in the winter, these items can be especially unsightly. Make sure to sweep up any debris that gets dragged in from outside. Don’t underestimate the power of a Swiffer®!

Staging your home in winter is just as important as staging in sunnier months. Make a positive impact with these tips!

Awash In Color



Originally envisioning a future as an oil painter, Yao Cheng abruptly shifted course into the world of textiles while studying at Rhode Island School of Design. A chance meeting with some watercolor paints and a tutorial from a colleague would alter her trajectory yet again and set her on the path to her current career as an artist and small-business owner in Columbus, Ohio.

What did your path to the art world look like? Did your family encourage your love of art? I lived in China until I was about eight, at which time I came to the United States. My path to art was introduced really early on by my mom. When I was four or five, she took me to an art class in my hometown of Nanchang. I was immediately hooked; it was a very instinctual and natural way for me to express myself from the beginning. My mom definitely encouraged my creative side throughout my childhood. The rest of my family was more of a mix—many of them were not sure if an art education would lead to financial stability. But I knew in my heart that this was the right path for both my education and my career.

You graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a bachelor of fine arts in textiles. Was that always the medium you wanted to pursue? I initially went to RISD to pursue oil painting. Around that time, I became obsessed with knitting. Working with my hands in such a visceral way was really intriguing, and something in me knew I needed to change my major. I saw textiles as evolving my painting interests in a three-dimensional way.

During my junior year, I studied abroad at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou for a semester. That was another distinct experience that has had a big influence on my work today. I learned a lot about traditional Chinese floral painting, as well as the power of expression through calligraphy and brushwork making.

How did watercolor painting enter the picture? Are you self-taught? I was designing patterns for Abercrombie & Fitch’s women’s brand at the time, including painted original designs. A work friend, who was much more experienced in watercolors, taught me different ways that I could play with them. He allowed me to see it from a modern, nontraditional way. It wasn’t about forcing the watercolors to be tight or highly technical; instead, I was challenged to control them only to a certain point and then allow them to do their own thing. It was so liberating and so much fun. I knew immediately that this was the medium that I had been searching for all along.

Did you always envision that your watercolors would go on textiles? No, but it has been an incredibly satisfying experience to see it on textiles. When I started my business in 2012, I was very focused on what I knew, which was painting. I really wanted to get back into painting but with watercolors. From there, people loved the printed reproductions that I was selling of my paintings, so I was able to expand little by little into other categories, including textiles.

It makes a lot of sense to see my work on textiles now, considering that so much of my education was about creating textiles. I find the industry really exciting, especially with the technology of digital printing—it really enhances the vibrancy of watercolors.

There is a lot of plant life in your designs. What draws you to this subject matter? I think my time studying abroad in China influenced a lot of my botanical work. I love trying to capture the life and energy that exist in plants. I find them poetic and so majestic. I love that they are imperfect and organic.

Tell us about your process. Do you sketch anything first? If it’s work that’s outside of my own line of products, I will create rough pen sketches. However, if it’s my own body of work, I sketch in the form of painting. It’s a good exercise to jump right into painting and not rely on previous sketches. The best ideas come from that improvisation process, and I build more confidence as an artist when I know that I can look at a blank page and eventually arrive somewhere that is really compelling.

Do you have any surprising sources of inspiration? I’m currently going through a phase where I want to find inspiration in real life, like going to an art museum. I want to experience art and find new ideas in a different way so that my paintings can move forward and be sparked by a different point of view.

But I think inspiration can also come in other ways, like music. I pay close attention to the tempo of music. The rhythms can spark a new idea or pair with something visual that I found in a book. It’s about combining inspirations from different places. I’m constantly mashing totally different things together—such as a geometric pattern combined with the colors that I see in a photograph of ice cream.

Funnily enough, I also find a lot of inspirations in my dreams. I think it’s my brain’s way of making sense of the things that I experience. Many times, I’ve painted a final piece after a nap or after a distinct dream that triggered an idea.

What artists do you admire? There are many contemporary artists that I admire, but I try not to look at their work too much because I believe deeply in respecting the work of others. I think a mistake that a lot of people make, especially in the beginning of their careers as they are finding their own voice, is looking too much at others’ work that they admire. It’s very easy to then subconsciously create work that feels similar. I am a believer that, as an artist, it’s my responsibility to find my own ideas and not recreate anyone else’s.

I’ve often revisited Van Gogh’s work throughout my career. I love that he painted in a medium that’s totally different from mine and that he tried to capture light in a million colors. His work has a shimmer and a glow that make me feel like the fields are moving right in front of me. I’m always trying to capture that same feeling in my work.

How do you fight creative blocks? What resets your brain? A creative block can be very frustrating to go through. I’m currently in one now. Fighting it has never worked for me; doing so only makes me more frustrated and costs me a lot of wasted time. My best defense is to recognize that I’m in a creative block and that it won’t last forever, and then I do something completely different until it passes.

You cofounded Rise & Design, a meetup for creatives in your area. What was the impetus for that? I cofounded Rise & Design with my good friend and creative, Danielle Evans of Marmalade Bleue, back in 2016. Columbus is a wonderful city, but a lot of illustrators and designers are scattered among the suburbs, and because so many of us work from home, it’s hard for everyone to get together. Rise & Design was a way for us to provide a place for everyone to come together and strike up important conversations.

The beauty of Rise & Design comes from the fact that we don’t all belong to one industry, so our discussions are more expansive and provide more perspectives. We also see some college students come through, which is particularly exciting for me because I love being able to introduce the next generation of creatives to the real world of running a design business. Rise & Design is something I’m incredibly proud of and am so grateful to have. It has grown into a community of amazing people. We are all genuinely supportive of each other, and having access to so many resources is very crucial for any small-business owner.

In an alternate universe, what is your profession? I would also love to be a ceramist, a therapist, a pianist, a dancer, or even an astronaut, but being an artist is my focus and love for this lifetime.

Organization 101: How to Make It a Habit

So you’ve spent some time on Pinterest or other social media networks, and suddenly feel that you need to overhaul your life and become more organized. Every time you discover an aspect of your life that needs organization, you find yourself rushing out to buy something new to help yourself with the project.

Then, after a few weeks, the inspiration fades away, and you end up back where you started. If this sounds familiar to you, it’s okay; it happens to the best of us.

The good thing is that being organized is not a personality trait; it’s a skill set. You just need to have the will to accomplish your goals and a few tips from someone who has been there. If you’re ready to be organized for the long term, here is what you’ll need to know:

Know yourself.
Be honest when identifying your biggest problem areas, and know what your goals are before getting started. Most importantly, prioritize your goals based on which ones will have the most positive impact on your home, office, or life.

Being organized is not the goal.
Don’t try to become organized for the sake of being organized or because your partner or colleague tells you that you should. Identify your own personal problems and priorities. Brainstorm (or write down) why each project is important to you and the benefits you’ll enjoy once the project is complete.

Expect hurdles and failures.
The process of organizing a space has a tendency to uncover some hidden uses or storage needs that you weren’t aware of. This realization can force you to make some big adjustments or even start over. Organized people understand that their system of organization is not a commitment; they know that when it’s not working, and it’s okay to just start over.

Free your mind.
Organized people don’t try to remember every item on their tasks list. Instead, they get their to-dos out of their heads and onto a list or calendar, so they never have to worry about dropping the ball. When you have a system and schedule in place, your mind is free to think about important problems, brainstorm a great idea, or even daydream.

Routines are the backbone of organization.
Create a routine, and stick to it. This might take weeks, months, or even years—there is conflicting research on how long it actually takes to develop a habit. So to find the routine that works best, think of it as a work in progress. Start by identifying the repetitive or undesirable tasks, and incorporate them into a checklist with milestones. These small actions will eventually become more and more familiar; they’ll save you time by adding efficiency and eventually become habit.

Have trouble letting things go? First, identify which of these common reasons is making you hold on to stuff—it’s sentimental, it was a gift, you think might need it some day, or it’s still in perfect condition. Ask yourself one simple question: would I choose to go out and buy this thing again right now today if I didn’t have it? If the answer is no, then you should let it go. Remember that having less means less to clean, less to organize, and less mess—less really does mean more.

Have a place for everything, and everything in its place. When deciding where to keep things, always consider where and how often you use each item. Store things where you use them, and don’t allow once-a-year items to eat up real estate that’s within arms reach.

Success is in the follow-through.
Procrastination is the enemy of organization. Once you have a plan for an organization project, or even a small clean-up task, schedule it. If something is scheduled, make every effort to complete it on time.

Remember, being organized is a skill, and it takes practice. Sure, organization comes more easily to some people, but that doesn’t mean an organized life is impossible to achieve if it takes you a little while to get your feet wet.