Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Closet Makeover

With the changing seasons (and especially after the holidays) you may be spending more time than usual standing in front of your closet trying to figure out how to make it all fit. At one time my sister, Tiffany, felt the same way. Then we got her clothes organized by using some great shelving and some space saving configurations.

The Problem:
  • Tiff loves jeans and sweaters (and clothes in general!) but that wasn't her biggest problem. The main problem was the way she was storing them. She had lots of sweaters that were difficult for her to get to because they were piled sky high on the top shelf and she's not super tall. Her jeans were impossible to get to because they were folded over each other on pants hangers with multiple rods. As you can see above, the floor space was underutilized as it was just a dumping ground for shoes and boots. She also had shoes in an over the door organizer (not shown) that rounded out her collection. The hangers were so tight she could barely squeeze anything in when it came time to hang things. Basically, getting dressed was not only a physical workout but an exercise in patience for Tiffany.
The Sort & Purge:
  • First, we pulled all the clothes out and sorted them into categories ("like with like"). Then Tiff went through each item and purged anything that she did not wear, that was not flattering and that did not fit. I was so proud of all the clothes that she bagged up to donate. She has good taste in clothes and they were still in great shape so someone was going to love them!
Assigning Homes:
  • Second, we decided what items from her closet would remain in her closet and what types of clothes would store better in her dresser drawers. This gave us more space in her closet to have some breathing room and make things more accessible.
Preparation and Planning:
  • Next, we measured her closet and counted how many pairs of jeans and pairs of shoes she had so we could buy the appropriate organizers. Then we went shopping! We decided to go with some Closet Maid shelving from the local Kmart (also found at Lowes (see link) and Target). Since we had our measurements and numbers in hand, in less than an hour we had what we needed to go home and finish the job.
The Solution:
  • Last, we put all her jeans in a vertical shelving unit placed in the middle of the closet where it could be accessed easily. I thought of it as a "Jean Tower." We then configured the shoe shelves in the best way to make use of the floor space. We stacked them right up under the short hanging items and left space in the far right area of the closet for her few long hanging items. Stacking the sweaters on the top shelf was much easier this time around because we had fewer of them to stack. If we had wanted to go the extra mile we could have bought shelf dividers (can also be found at The Container Store ) for the top shelves to keep the stacks in order. We also used a belt hanger for all her belts to hang on individual hooks which was much better than the one she was using before.


Isn't it beautiful?! The best part of this closet system was that two months later my sister moved our of her apartment and into her first home. She was able to take everything with her and set up her new closet in almost the exact same way!
  • I'd love to hear your closet makeover stories. You can even email me some before and after pictures and I'll post them.

Friday, November 16, 2007

To Purge or Not to Purge...

When evaluating items ask yourself the following questions. Even better--invite a friend over to do the asking!

1. Do I like it?
2. Do I use it?
3. Do I need it?
4. Do I want it?
5. Do I have room for it?
6. If I didn’t have it, would I think I needed it?
7. What is the worst thing that could happen if I got rid of this?

Honestly use these as guidelines and you'll be on your way to a more clutter-free life!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Turn a Stack of Photos Into a Book!

I happened upon a company today that makes books out of your digital or physical photos. You send them a stack of same size photos and they bind them into a cool little book and mail it back to you. As far as I can tell, it looks like it costs $30 and up. This is a really neat gift idea and would also be a great thing to do with collections of special photos that haven't yet made their way into albums.

Go to Togetherbook.com and check it out if your photos are begging for some attention.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Pretty" File Folder Labels-Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Do you ever feel like giving up on your filing system looking "pretty"? Have you ever decided to "Just Do It" and make computer generated labels only to discover that it's impossible to keep it up as you add new files. It just takes too much time. There are too many steps involved to do it quickly. Why bother?

I asked myself all those questions many times before I came up with a solution. I used to get so frustrated with trying to keep my files looking good that I would just use my handy dandy pencil to make a new folder and tell myself, "Who cares if they're pretty, anyway!" I would get around to making a new pretty label later (much, much later, if ever!).

As much as I told myself it didn't matter, I soon discovered that I cared if they were pretty! I found that I wanted the uniformity and more importantly, I wanted my files to be easy to read so I could find what I was looking for faster. After years of this, I finally realized that in order to keep the files "pretty" I had to do something to make it easy to print new labels as soon as I made a new folder. Here's how to make uniform, pretty labels in 3 easy steps:

1. Buy file folder labels from any office supply store and follow the directions to create a template for your labels on Microsoft Word. I use white Laser/Ink Jet Filing Labels Avery 8366 but you could use colored labels or removable if you want to get fancy. If you are not very "computer literate" don't worry! This is much easier than you think it's going to be so stick with me. Once you've opened Microsoft Word go to Tools, Letters and Mailings, Envelopes and Labels. Click on Options. From the list choose product number 8366-File Folder (or the number that matches your labels). Now click Okay. You should be back to the Labels window. Just make sure Full Page of the Same Label is selected and click New Document. Now you can choose your favorite font and type in all your file names. Print and apply your labels.

2. Create a shortcut file to your desktop so you can print new file labels with ease! Now you want to save this document on your desktop. You do this by going to File then Save As. Here you want to choose Desktop from the Save in: menu to the left of the Save As window. (It sounds more complicated than it is, trust me!) Type the name of your document in the File Name box. Call it "File Folder Labels" and click Save.

3. Keep a few sheets of labels in a folder labeled "LABELS" :) and keep it near your computer/printer. From now on when it's time to make a new label all you have to do is pull a sheet of labels out of your "LABELS" folder, open the "File Folder Labels" document on your desktop and make changes to the template. The key here is to clear the old file folder labels you've already printed and start fresh each time you make new labels. Don't try to save each new change (I've tried that and it's too confusing!). Just type the new file labels on your cleared template, print the new ones and be done with it! If you really want to save your file labels save them in another place/folder on your computer and not on the desktop template that you made.

Once you do it a few times you might actually start to think of labeling files as "fun"...or maybe that's just me again! Good luck and let me know how it goes or if you have any other great filing tips!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Words to live by

The Zen of Clean

Clutter-free living begins with an attitude of respect. Every item you possess
has its own function, whether practical or sentimental, so it’s important that
each has its proper space. Keep only the most useful and meaningful things —
it’s distracting when every surface is covered with objects. Prioritize what you
really need, then think about each object’s purpose and respectfully honor its
place in your home.

Kate Henninger

Katy, Texas

Looking for some inspiration?

There are always great organizing articles at Real Simple.com. It's one of my favorite places to go for inspiration and ideas.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What's Your Motivation?

How do you get from here...

...to here?

By writing down your goals, that's how!

What's the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? If you're anything like me you might be thinking, "I'd like a few more minutes of sleep before I start thinking, thank you very much!" By the time the bed is made, the prayers are said, the shower is taken, the make-up is on, the kitties are fed, breakfast is eaten, the dishes are done, the laundry is in...need I say more? In a matter of 30 minutes I've become so focused on what needs to be done today and all my to do's that I forget about why I am doing it all in the first place.

Recently I was reminded about the power of setting goals and the impact they have on our lives, even when we don't see it right away. The reality is, we all have goals whether we speak them aloud or not. But how often do we take the time write them down, flesh them out and make them real, measurable and attainable?

A few months ago I felt inspired to put my mental/unspoken goals into words and write a few of them down. I wrote down my 1-year career and business goals and my 1-year personal and family goals and then my 5-year career and business goals and my 5-year personal and family goals. I also cut some pictures out of a magazine to go along with those goals to help me visualize them better. As a part of this project I found and framed my favorite quote that symbolizes what I call "my motivation". It hangs above my desk so I can read it often. It has been so inspiring!

And what's even more notable is that in just a short few months I have already seen ways that I have moved toward achieving my goals. Most of the time I don't even realize that's what I'm doing until later. Articulating and writing down my goals also makes me look forward to finding ways to achieve those goals during the day when otherwise I would just be caught up in the who, what, when, and where of my life, forgetting all about the why.

So what does all this have to do with organizing you might ask? Well, a whole lot if you ask me (which I'm pretending you did!). If we can focus a little more on the why aspect of life we begin to live with more purpose. We make better decisions about our time and the things that fill our time and that, my friends, has a lot to do with organizing--the decisions we make with our time are an important part of living a balanced, happy life.

So ask yourself, "What's my motivation?" and then take a few minutes to write down some long term goals today. Put the pen to the paper and don't be afraid of writing down those "big dreams." Seeing those come true is the best part! Then, put your mind and your energy to achieving those worthwhile goals. Let the things that aren't truly important slip away and start living with direction and purpose! You will thank yourself later for it and so will your family and friends! :)

P.S. As a result of Googling for a good picture for this post I ran across some great links that expound on goal setting. Check out Goal Setting: The 90-Day Challenge and Cultivate Greatness. Both have great information on them. Happy goal setting--I'd love to hear what you have to say on this topic!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Internet Journal

A few months ago a friend of mine showed me her neat (and super cute, I might add) new find called the Internet Journal where she can keep track of all of her favorite Internet sites. She found hers at a local store and when she went back to find me one they were all gone! I wondered if I would ever see one in the stores--it seemed like a long shot. Imagine my surprise when I opened up my second issue of Organize magazine yesterday (I LOVE this magazine!!!) and found the very same Internet Journal in the "Neat Things We Like" section. It's only $8.95 (not bad, huh?) at Paperstyle.com. I couldn't find a picture of the inside on this site but there's one in Organize magazine (pg. 18). The pages are alphabetically organized and have places to write the website, description, username, password, and notes. Just remember to keep it stored in a safe place if you use it for anything other than shopping. Happy shopping!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Let's Broach the Subject of Jewelry

My grandmother is well known for her enthusiasm/love of jewelry (which I've noticed is beginning to rub off on my mother...I wonder if it's hereditary?). She has more jewelry than anyone I know. I'm convinced she has jewelry to match every outfit in her closet which is not easy since I don't think I've ever seen Grandma wear the same outfit twice. I can't think of a time when I have not seen Grandma's wrist adorned with multiple bangle bracelets, beautiful earrings and a necklace that coordinates perfectly. And let's not forget her rings! Grandma has an awesome ring collection. With all that jewelry I found myself wondering how on earth she finds all the parts to those jewelry ensembles and is still the first one up in the morning. So a few years ago after my grad parents finished a new master bedroom/bathroom additions that could accommodate Grandma's collection I took a peek and found that she she uses multi-drawer cabinets for most of it and she hangs her necklaces from hooks (lots of them) on the wall. But if you're anything like me, you don't have all that much jewelry to keep track of but you're tired of hanging your necklaces on thumbtacks next to the bathroom sink. Been there, done that! :)

Personally, I look forward to the day when I can afford to have a jewelry collection like grandma's and a wardrobe to go with it, but in the meantime, a well designed jewelry box and simple necklace hangers do the trick for me. Depending on where you want to store your jewelry (in a drawer, on a counter or dresser top) there are lots of ways you can do it. These are some of my favorite jewelry solutions:

If you store your jewelry in a drawer these stacking jewelry trays are great. They make one for necklaces, one for bracelets and watches and one with individual compartments for earrings, rings, and pendants. Lot of options, here. They have thin plastic dust covers to keep your jewelry dust free, too (nice).

If you like to have your jewelry out on your dresser you may opt for something more decorative. I love my stackable 3-level jewelry box. I bought mine at an Organized Living store years ago before they went out of business. (I found out later that they were a copycat Container Store which explains why I liked it so much!)

In this picture you can see how I've used the 3 levels. The far left I used for earring, rings and pendants organized by type (studs, dangly, gold rings, silver rings, the rings grandma gave me that are too fancy for anything other than weddings and funerals etc.) In the 2 compartment level I have my bracelets (beaded in one half, gold & silver in the other). In the bottom open compartment I store my watches. The little ceramic bowl you see hold my "daily" jewelry that I pretty much wear every day (favorite watch and rings).

This option is a similar product from The Container Store but without the lid.

For necklaces I really like this one (see picture below) for my delicate chains. But I recently saw this new one at the Container Store that I think is pretty. My sister-in-law uses a similar style holder and it looks really nice.

For my beaded necklaces, and pearls I really like my peg-board style acrylic organizer (also from The Container Store, although I didn't see it online today). I chose to hang this one next to my full-length mirror because these are the kinds of necklaces that I like to see with my entire outfit before I walk out the door. (That's just me, I'm sure!)

Now for one of my favorite jewelry suggestions--I like to use a double sided pill box for my jewelry when I travel. It's hard on the outside which protects the jewelry from getting squashed. It's compact and holds quite a bit in it's different size snap-closed compartments. You have to try it! And for those of you who subscribe to Real Simple there's an article with more jewelry organizing ideas starting on page 253 of the September issue and some inexpensive container ideas on the website. I would love to hear how you organize your jewelry!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Garage & Shed Tips Part 2

Last week I worked on a garage/work shop and thought I'd share some really useful tips.

  1. ASK: If the garage or shed is your husband's work space or the only place in the house he considers "his" you might want to ask permission to mess with his stuff before you dive in. (A friend of mine recently learned that her idea of a favor and her husbands idea of a favor differed when it came to organizing the garage--oops!)

  2. PLAN: Have a general plan for the space before you start moving things around. Decide where you want to set up various zones. Consider proximity to doors, open wall space, and where you already have shelves, racks, and storage space. Your zones might include: Gardening/Lawn Care, Tools & Parts, Sporting Equipment, Household Repairs, Summer/Beach Gear, etc.

  3. PREP: Get your garbage bags, brooms and dust pan ready. Your going to need them. Enlist the help of your children if they are old enough and get a notebook ready to write down things you might need to buy to finish the job.

  4. CLEAR A SPACE:Open your garage door, move your car if you need to and use your driveway to sort the items you pull out. Who cares what the neighbors think, they'll be jealous when you're done!

  5. PURGE: Get rid of anything really old, broken beyond repair, things you've never seen before in your life or that you know you will never use again. You might want to make a pile of the "unknown use" items until you are done. A friend and I almost threw away an attachment to her mini-vac because we didn't know what it went to until we found the mini-vac 20 min. later. Make a trash pile for your family members to go through later if you are uncomfortable throwing something away that isn't yours.

  6. FIND "HOMES"/HANG/CONTAINERIZE: Put things away in their "zones". Use storage containers (with wheels) and drawer systems for loose items like tape sand paper, gardening supplies, etc. Hang as much as you can! Use bike hooks to hang bikes and get them off the floor. Use tool racks like this (if you have floor space to spare) or hang rakes and other long handled tools from something like this. Use peg boards for hand tools. Use rolling drawers or drawer chests or boxes for small parts or items and label the drawers (even if they are see through). For sports equipment and balls use something like this. Check out these links to Stacks and Stacks , Target or Home Depot where you will find more great ideas for organizing all your zones. If you are looking to save money, use empty buckets and boxes you already have for storing items. It is, after all, just the garage! :)

  7. ENJOY! Step back, take a long look and enjoy having a place to put all your "stuff". Once you've done that you can gather up all your summer/beach gear and head to the beach. Just make sure you put everything away when you get back!

If you are still looking for more guidance here's a book I would recommend.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Finally! An Organizing Magazine!!

Great news! A friend of mine informed me that there is now an organizing magazine called Organize magazine! How cool is that?! Not too long ago I had a conversation with my husband about the fact that there were no magazines dedicated to organizing (which I was really craving). We even dreamed of being the ones to change that fact...I guess I missed that boat--Oh well, maybe I can get published in this one someday! :) It seems like the organizing industry has really gained momentum even in the short time I've been involved. I can't wait to check it out!

P.S. I just looked at the website and it's $20 per year to subscribe. NAPO members pay $15 for a year. Bonus!

Monday, June 11, 2007

This Week's Discussion Topic

Organizing Sheds, Garages and Storage Spaces
Now that summer is here, I'm sure you have all been in and out of your sheds (don't you love the one above? I wish it was mine!) and/or garages as much as I have been. Once inside, have you had the pleasure, as I have, of wrangling stray golf clubs or broom sticks, digging for garden gloves, corralling balls of various sizes or tripping over scooters and bikes on the way to the helmets hiding in the back corner? If not, that's fantastic--you're doing better than I am! However, if you are still nursing your stubbed toe thanks to that misplaced scooter, not to worry--help is on the way!
This week let's share our ideas on how to organize these hard to control spaces. I especially can't wait to hear from those of you with children and oodles of sporting equipment to manage!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Organizing Computer CDs

Where do you keep all your computer CDs? Are they upside down on the corner of your desk, stuck somewhere between the papers on your desk, or maybe they have somehow made their way under your desk?

Until yesterday I just kept mine in a little black box and that seemed to work really well...as long as I wasn't looking for anything specific. In my little black box labeled "computer disks" I found a mixture of blank CD-Rs, computer systems disks, disks for my cell phone, my mp3 player, some diskettes, computer games, Tax software, and a bunch of other random computer programs. It started to become clear that very few of the CDs were actually still living in their original cases. Since my husband had a similar box of disks in his office, I was finding a whole bunch of disks with no cases and cases with no disks. Not to mention that we had disks from the computer dark ages laying around.

Sound familiar? What to do? Well this is what I did. I gathered up all those disks and some nylon CD cases that we were not utilizing very well and started sorting. It only took about 15 minutes before I had all my CDs/disks sorted into these categories:

1. Disks that make our computers work or fix them when they are not working (systems type disks, Microsoft Windows etc.) If you know what on earth to call these kinds of disks, please enlighten me!)

2. Disks for phones, camera, mp3 players

3. Program disks (i.e. Tax Cut, AnyTime Organizer, Budget Software, Language Learning Programs, Business Card Maker, Games)

4. Picture CDs

5. Burned music CDs

6. Blank CDs and diskettes

7. Sell/Toss

Once I had the categories figured out I put my CD organizing cases to use. I also decided to take the disks out of their original paper covers and plastic cases and just keep the disks. If there was a useful booklet/insert I kept it to slide in behind the disk. As it worked out I used a tri-fold case to organize all the computer resources (see the first 3 categories above).
(The labels read: Program CDs, Computer, Phone/MP3/Camera)
Next I used a visor-style car CD organizer (not shown) that we were no longer using in the car to hold the burned CDs. The small square case I had was perfect for holding the picture CDs since I only have about 10 of those. As for my little black box labeled "computer disks"? Turns out it was the perfect place for all the blank computer disks and a few empty plastic cases. I didn't even have to change the label!
Now all the computer resources are stored in my husbands desk (since he knows what to do with them) and I have my little black box back where it belongs on my shelf. I'm in charge of the blank disks! :) The best part of it all is we know just where to look for each kind of disk and we know where to put new ones that come in. Even better, I didn't spend a dime! I just used what I had at home and my handy dandy label maker--yes I did label each case and the 3 categories in the tri-fold case for sure! As my husband says, "It's all about the labels."

I would love to hear how you organize your computer CD collection.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Organizing Sourcebook

I've just started reading a new organizing book that I really like so far. It's called The Organizing Sourcebook by Kathy Waddill. I won a signed copy as part of the grand door prize package (lucky me!) at the WDC-NAPO Professional Organizers Conference in March and just got around to reading it. I guess I've been too busy until now--that's a good thing! :) In the very beginning of the book Kathy relates how her assumptions about why people are "disorganized" evolved and changed as she met with more and more people in her early years as a professional organizer. As she worked with people she began to see that the "mess" the client was complaining about wasn't usually the real problem. (I agree!) She began to realize that there was almost always some life change or more than one change that a client was going through such as a move, birth, death, divorce etc. that was causing their normal systems to breakdown resulting in "disorganization". After quite a few different situations in my year and a half of organizing, this belief really resonates with me. I can't wait to read the rest and learn more about her "9 strategies for reasonably organized people".

Thursday, April 26, 2007

More Laundry Tips

To answer a few questions asked by mother goose...

Here' s a picture of the extra bins near my washer that I use for sorting brights and delicates. If a pop-up cube fit right I would use that but the dishpans do the trick, believe it or not!

For laundry rooms that are short on space you might consider this as a sorting option since they hold 2 loads of laundry yet are only 14"X14." You can buy a white one for white, a black for darks and a bright color for brights. Fun!
Note: The 3 bin sorters that are all connected and on casters are great but the ones like this that would fit in small spaces are not going to hold much. I bought a "cute" one at Target for a client that ended up being so small we thought the only thing it would be good for was doll clothes! We went with this sorter sold at The Container Store that was much better (I just noticed that it's still on sale--cool!). Just be careful not to choose a 3 bin sorter that is teeny tiny. Check your measurements before you buy!

I hope this helps. If not, keep the questions coming!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How to go from Loathing to Loving Laundry!

Well, I don't know if one can actually love doing laundry but it's worth a shot, right? :) Even if you just succeed in not loathing laundry that's saying something! For me it's all about the hampers. As strange as that sounds here are a few of my handy hamper tricks that made it possible for me to not dread laundry day--at least not quite so much. (*As I have mentioned before, there are only 2 of us in my household which makes things a little easier but I have helped many other families with children gain control over their laundry rooms using the same ideas.)

I have found that laundry routine can be greatly simplified by purposefully adding a few hampers to your system and giving the different types of hampers you use specific purposes.
For example, you might use wicker or decorative hampers in the bedroom/bathrooms to collect dirty clothes ...
and reserve the plastic less attractive hampers for transporting laundry to and from the laundry room.

You might use a crunch can style hamper for dirty rags/towels because they have a waterproof lining ...
and use mesh hampers http://www.containerstore.com/browse/Product.jhtml?CATID=166&PRODID=72108 for children because they are lightweight and come with handles making it so the kids can carry their own clothes to their rooms to be put away.
A 3-bin sorter or a set of larger hampers can be set up in the laundry area to collect dirty clothes until you are ready to wash. That way you always have all your hampers where they should be when they should be there.
My latest "pseudo hamper" addition is a small plastic basket under my kitchen sink that I toss dirty dishtowels and washcloths into. (I dry out my washcloths before they go in so they don't mold or stink.) Once the basket's full, into the washer they go. Very handy!

If you want more detail, this is how my many hampers help me get my laundry done. (FYI even though it's just the two of us I do laundry about twice a week.) First, clothes go into my wicker bedroom hamper. When that's full, the hamper gets taken downstairs by my DH so that I don't kill myself on our 2 flights of wooden stairs. (I have fallen before so I'm not ashamed to ask!) Once in the laundry room, I sort the clothes into whites, darks, lights, delicates etc. (I have many categories--more than you really need, but they make me happy!) When my laundry room sorting hampers fill up I know it's time to do laundry. I love this visual indicator! Once clothes are clean and dry I use a set of 3 plastic baskets to transport clean clothes back upstairs (3 is a good number because it allows me to do multiple loads in one day without have to run up and down stairs looking for an empty hamper). I like to hang dress shirts straight out of the dryer on a rod hanging close by and if I have time, I love to fold clothes straight out of the dryer into a hamper on the floor in front of the dryer--way less wrinkles at the end of the day. If I had children old enough to help, this is where I would use the small mesh cube style hampers with handles to sort clothes by child. Then they could carry them up to their rooms to be put away. I know, you're all thinking "what a great idea--in theory!" No really! One of my client does this and loves this system for her kids! So when all is said and done I put away the folded clothes, return my hampers to their homes (I store my 3 plastic hampers nested on my dryer in the laundry room when they aren't in use) and turn out the laundry room light...until next time
P.S. And for all you mom's out there with sock piles to the ceiling, my Busy Bee advice is buy fewer styles and colors of socks so it's easier to match them up and get your kids involved in the matching. As a former teacher I can tell you that they should be able to help with this by the time they are school age (or earlier depending on the child) but I admit that this might be a dilemma that would take being a mother of 3 to properly address! I'll ask around and get back to you! Ha! :)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Action Papers: What to DO with them until you are ready to do something WITH them!

Do you have important papers, forms, receipts, coupons, brochures and even scraps of paper that you need to act on but no where to keep them until you find the time to get the job done? Are those papers all over your counter top or plastered to your fridge as a reminder of your many to do's that just aren't getting done? If so, you will be interested in a great system I use that helps me deal with my "action papers." All you need is 3 folders, all those papers gathered up and your planner/to do list ready to write some things down.

When I talk about "action papers" I am talking about the papers that you have to act on or do something with. To hold these papers until I am ready for them I use 3 folders labeled: "Have To", "Should Do" and "Could Do." As I file my action papers into these folders I am automatically prioritizing their importance. I also record the thing I need to do on my to do list. I use a Treo, but a paper to do list will work just fine as long as you make a habit of recording the things you need to do on a regular basis. You can keep a master to do list as a record of everything you need to do and then have a daily to do list where you write down just the things you need to do in one day. You can even keep your to do lists it in the front of your "Have To" folder. The important thing is to write your to do's down and make a habit of referring to it daily.

1. The "Have To" folder is for very important action items. It is used for the urgent matters and items that, if left undone, I (or a family member) will suffer a negative consequence for having neglected it. I would like to point out here that I do not include bills to pay in this folder. Bills have their own folder which is kept in my bill paying area. In the "Have To" folder you might put a form that needs to be signed and mailed immediately. Mine is actually empty right now which is my favorite part of using this system--it feels so good to empty that "Have To" folder.

2. The "Should Do" folder is for action items that I really should get done sometime soon but that can wait a little while because there is no due date or immediate negative consequence for not doing it. In my should do folder right now, I have a card to send my mom, a brochure for a tanning salon that I really should visit before going on my anniversary cruise in two weeks so I don't burn to a crisp on day 1 (but really I could just go white and use 50 SPF!) and the two credit card offers I am considering right now.

3. The "Could Do" folder is great. That is where things go that I would "love to do someday" or "would be nice to do if I have the time." I have a coupon for Let's Dish, a flier for a nearby nail salon, a sheet telling me how to update my Windows Media Player, some information on IRA accounts, and a renewal form for my REAL SIMPLE magazine subscription. All things that I could do but I won't be crying if they don't get done.

Melissa's Top 3 Reasons for Trying this System for 30 days:
1-It helps you learn how to prioritize your to do items.
2-It's flexible. You can change your priorities as the need arises.
3-It gives you a logical holding spot for things that usually just end up in piles or posted on the fridge because you need to do it someday but you just aren't ready to do it today!

Just remember to do what it takes to make it work for you and make it fun. You can use color file folders--Red for "Have To," Orange for "Should Do" and Blue for "Could Do." Mine are manilla because I find paperwork fun anyway! It's all about finding something that works for you. Good luck and keep me posted!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Scrapbooking Organizers

For those of you who love to scrapbook, or feel at least compelled to scrapbook from time to time as I do, you know it's not easy keeping all that fun "stuff" organized. If you are looking to get your scrapbooking supplies and paper organized, you will definitely be interested in the Retrospect product line offered by Smead. I have a couple of the Page Managers (top picture)and they are really handy. The Paper and Accessory Organizer (lower picture) is also great because it holds paper and also has a smaller pocket in front to hold stickers and other smaller items. Check out http://www.retrospectbysmead.com/ for more fun products.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

How To: Organizing the Fridge

Now, granted, I do not have children, do not particularly enjoy cooking, and dislike grocery shopping but I happen to absolutely love organizing my kitchen! With that said, I have always been interested in finding a better way to organize my fridge. It seems that I can never get the shelving configuration quite right, at least not enough to make it versatile and functional. And things seemed to always be finding new homes every time I peered in to find something to eat. Even after I decided that the deli drawer should, in fact, be used for sandwich fixing's it seemed to reach out and grab tortillas and other random foods.

What to do?...Well in my case the answer to that question has been--experiment! After many moons I think I may have found a configuration and some improvements that may work. Keep in mind this has not been tested yet and my fridge is not really full right now, but I liked what I did enough to get my label maker out and in my book, that's commitment! :) I posted a picture and as you can see, I assigned certain shelves and gave them a name. Although there is presently nothing but a tiny bit of egg salad on it, I designated one whole shelf to left overs. That should be enough space for us, but someone who cooks more might need more. I also used a bin/basket system (like I do in many other areas of my home) to corral like items. I used one for meat, one for bread and one for yogurt. I even used an open basket in my fruit drawer for my apples. They seem more inviting and easier to get to that way. One of my favorite things that I did was give my eggs their own little home. I moved my deli drawer up just high enough for them to slip comfortably underneath. I also took out a shelf that seemed to be taking up space in order to make more room. And there you have it--an organized fridge! The only problem I have right now is that I keep opening the fridge just to see how great it looks! We'll see how it holds up and in the meantime you might consider trying an idea or two in your own. Good luck and don't forget to comment and share your fridge success stories!

Monday, March 26, 2007

The 7 Habits of Very Organized People

The following is an article from one of the organizing newsletters I receive from Maria Gracia's website http://www.getorganizednow.com/.

Have you ever wondered how some people could be so very organized, when you're struggling on a daily basis just to get your home looking halfway presentable and to get at least a few items checked off of your To Do list?Most organized people follow a few simple rules. Here are the 7 habits of very organized people.

1. They have a place for everything. Every item they have has a consistent, assigned home. The home for books is on the book shelf. The home for toys is in the toy room on the toy shelves. The home for blank greeting cards is in the greeting card organizer in the office.

2. They put things back. Whenever an item has been removed from its assigned home, it is used for whatever reason and then immediately returned to its home when no longer in use. There are no temporary holding places. It's just put back where it belongs, right away.

3. They write things down. Organized people make lists and notes, and keep these in one consistent place such as a planner, notebook or calendar. They don't try to remember things in their heads. They let the pen and paper (or the computer) work for them. They reference their lists and notes on a daily basis.

4. They don't allow papers to pile up. Papers to file are filed each day, not left to grow into mountains. Mail is opened over the recycle container so papers not needed don't even have a chance to multiply. Kids permission slips are signed right away and sent back to school with the kids. Bills are tucked into a bill paying system until bill paying day, and paid bill statements are filed away that day. Magazines are read within a week or two and then recycled or donated.

5. They don't procrastinate. When something has to be done, organized people schedule time to do it and then they keep that scheduled appointment. They know that the more they delay, the more likely deadlines will be missed or opportunities will pass.

6. They set goals and assign deadlines. They know if they want to get things done, they need to know exactly what they want the end result to be and by what date. They review these goals often and set aside time each day to work on achieving them. They review what they've accomplished and never forget to reap the rewards.

7. They only keep what they use and/or they enjoy. They can't stand anything taking up space that doesn't have a useful or pleasurable purpose in their lives. They're big believers in simplicity. They breathe easier knowing they've lightened their loads and can move easily without having to climb over boxes and piles of clutter.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Unique Product!

Hi all! I was doing some online shopping for a client today and ran across this really cool coat rack that I thought would be so much fun to have. And in comparison to the other cool items on this site, it's a bargain--only $30! The antler version would be especially perfect if you like to hunt as much as my sister's boyfriend! :) If you are interested, the website is: http://www.betterlivingthroughdesign.com/coatracks/

Friday, March 16, 2007

Tip of the Week: Kitchen

Okay, this tip is going to seem really obvious to some of you, but it's a really good one for the kitchen. I used to think that I had to store all my glasses in one cupboard, all my plates and bowls in another cupboard and all my platters in another cupboard etc. Then I read something in the book Organizing Solutions for People with Attention Deficit Disorder by Susan C. Pinsky that showed a picture of a cupboard with no dishes stacked on top of each other and no nesting. I was intrigued, since for me nesting was getting in the way of putting clean dishes away quickly and easily. I also noticed that the dishes shown in that same cupboard were one complete set of dishes instead of all bowls or all glasses and mugs. So, even though I have more than one set of dishes and glasses that I enjoy using, I decided to make the cupboard directly above my dishwasher the "everyday dishes" cupboard (shown left). I chose one set of dishes that we use the most (with the exception of the deep bowls from another set that my DH uses every morning) and one set of glasses that we use the most and removed all others. I then designated a cupboard just a little farther away from the dishwasher for the secondary dishes (shown right) and glasses that we use less often. So I basically have two full sets of dishes that I love and use and I've noticed that having my most used "everyday" set of dishes so close to the dishwasher makes putting away dishes a breeze! So spend 30 min. and "get busy and bee organized" in your kitchen today!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Quote of the Week:

"Organization is like exercise.
It's not very effective if you do it only once; you have to keep at it."

-L.A. Organizing Pro Jill Pollack (jillpollack.net)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Product Picks of the Week

How do I choose? There are so many great products out there that help you get organized it really it hard to choose which ones to highlight. I will start with those I love best.

My favorites happen to seem the geekiest until you've tried them!

#1 Classico Overtank magazine holder for the bathroom. Love it!

#2 Dream Drawer Dividers. Great for sock drawers and any drawer fot that matter.

#3 Cargo Document Boxes. I have the magazine files and I love them! They are sturdy and stylish. They come in other colors but I happen to love the nutmeg because it goes with almost any decor.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"Norganizers Anonymous"

If you love to organize then you have come to the right place! Organizing is my passion...okay so it's my obsession! So much so that a few years ago my DH cleverly suggested that I name any future organizing business "Norganizers Anonymous". I don't know why he felt the need to add the N to Organizers but I guess that was all part of the joke!

Although I have not developed a 12-step program for those obsessed with organizing, I have since started my own organizing business called Busy Bee Organized. In addition to running my organizing business (which has been the best career decision of my life), I love to spend my free time organizing and reorganizing just about anything I can get my hands on. It's my career and my hobby. My favorite things to organize are closets...closets have so much potential! I also love problem-solving and looking for new, fresh ways to approach an organizing dilemma.

So, if you are a fellow professional organizer, you love (or even like) to organize or if you are just looking for some tips, ideas or some great organizing tools and supplies, I would love to share ideas. Let the organizing begin!


Take a look at some of my organizing success! (Photos and text used with permission.)


Cluttered Desk


Clean and Clear of Clutter

Chaotic Shelf

Neat and Tidy Home Office

Client Feedback

I work out of a home office without any administrative support. I worked with Melissa to organize both my personal and professional effects as I prepared to relocate. I wish I had done it years ago. While organizing my office and paperwork Melissa identified my natural tendencies and created an organizational structure that was easy for me to maintain. When I began looking for a personal organizer, I mostly wanted someone else to come in and take care of the mess I had allowed to build up over the years. Working with an “uninterested” party during the purging process helped me lighten my load considerably. During the process Melissa provided me with simple intuitive skills that have not only allowed me to maintain my newly found order but help friends and family organize as well. I can honestly say hiring Melissa is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Kelsi Reeves