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3 Thought-Provoking Ted Talks That Will Inspire You to Get Organized

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3 Thought-Provoking Ted Talks That Will Inspire You to Get Organized | organizedartistry.com

Do you ever watch TED Talks? I love watching TED Talks.

If I get to watch at least one a day I’m a happy camper. I watch them while I’m cooking, while I’m on the treadmill, and while I’m eating lunch at my computer. If I don’t have the time, I use one of my favorite apps, Pocket to store them until I have a free 20 minutes to watch.

TED began as a conference in California in 1984–five years before the birth of the World Wide Web. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.  It’s mission is to spread knowledge and since it’s inception, TED Talks have had attracted over a billion views online–there’s a lot more knowledgeable people in this world thanks to TED!

With all my TED Talk watching, I was curious as to whether there were any talks on the topic of Organizing. Well–there are! No one is sorting through papers or an overstuffed garage on stage, but the TED Talks I’ve selected are based on an ‘organizing’ theme. Carve out time in your day to watch them–you may learn something new just like I did…

Jessi Arrington: Wearing Nothing New

In my opinion, Jessi is one brave woman. She packed seven pair of underwear for her trip to Los Angeles to do her TED Talk. My heart is palpitating just thinking about it. When she got off the plane with her very tiny suitcase, she went shopping for clothes at local thrift stores in order to “reduce the impact of her wardrobe on the environment and her wallet.” I don’t expect you to watch this and then travel light, but listening to what she has to say, might cause you to take a good look at the clothes in your closet.


Laura Vanderkam: How To Gain Control of Your Free Time

Laura Vanderkam writes about Time Management. She says, “Time is highly elastic. We cannot make more time but time will stretch to accommodate what we choose to put into it.” Basically–it’s all about priorities. Your priorities. Your schedule and your choices. Listen to her TED Talk and think about how you use your time…


Tim Urban: Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator

Do you procrastinate often?  Whether you do or not, you’re going to get a good laugh out of this funny TED Talk. You might even see a bit of yourself in Tim Urban. Think about what you might be procrastinating on and watch out for the ‘monkey.’


*BONUS* TED TALK
–Yes–I said ‘3’ in the title but this one is short–only around 5 minutes long: Mundano: Pimp My…Trash Cart?.

The unsung heroes of the organizing world are garbage men. They take away what we no longer want in our lives and are not always highly regarded for their work. Watch how one artist in Brazil took the work of Catadores, people who collect recycling, and transformed their work into an art form to be celebrated and appreciated by their communities.

 

Which Ted Talk resonated with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Cool Product: OXO Expandable Drawer Organizer

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Cool Product: OXO Expandable Drawer Organizer, A Professional Organizer' organizes her sock drawer I organizedartistry.com #coolorganizingproduct

 

Stylists recommend matching your shoe and sock color to make you look taller. As a petite woman, I don’t want to appear any shorter than I already am so I try to match my sock color to my pant or shoe color. Sometimes all three are the same color and I’m feelin’ pretty tall!

Then one day, I left the house wearing black pants and navy blue socks.

Some of you might say, ‘So, what?’ Some of you might be shrieking in horror. I was shrieking.

When I got home later that day, I looked closely at my sock drawer. One side was for lighter colored socks and one side was for darker colored socks. The lighting in my bedroom wasn’t that fabulous. I could see that my navy blue and black socks (especially the knee-hi’s) were looking a lot alike. Something had to be done to prevent another fashion faux-pas!

Now, this scenario pre-dates my professional organizing days by about five years, but organizing is in my DNA so I set out to find a solution. I needed an easy, low-to-no-cost product that would separate my socks so I could find the color I needed quickly. I ended up getting a box from my neighborhood liquor store, took careful measurements and cut the cardboard. Twenty minutes later, I had sock drawer dividers!

 

Cool Organizing Product: OXO Expandable Drawer Dividers I organizedartistry.com #organizesockdrawer

Almost twenty year old cardboard!

 

Believe it or not, these pieces of cardboard survived three moves and many sock drawer purges. But after close to twenty years of service, I decided to retire my cardboard drawer dividers. We had recently renovated our home and the built-in dresser in my new closet had different dimensions. It was time to look for an upgrade.

I took to the internet to assist in my search for souped-up drawer dividers. After reviewing sizes, colors, and pricing, it was a no-brainer. It had to be an OXO product–The OXO Expandable Drawer Organizer (set of two).

I love OXO products. To put it bluntly–they’re made well with ergonomics in mind. I love, love, love my OXO POP Containers and other OXO kitchen tools I own. For years. Still working. Still in great condition.

From their website:

“OXO is dedicated to providing innovative consumer products that make everyday living easier. OXO was founded on the philosophy of Universal Design, which means the design of products usable by as many people as possible.”

But, did I really need an OXO product in my sock drawer? Once you install the drawer dividers, they just sit there doing their dividing job–right?

 

Cool Organizing Product: OXO Expandable Drawer Organizer I organizedartistry.com #organizesockdrawer

 

Here’s why I purchased the OXO Expandable Drawer Organizer…

Reputation – OXO has a long-time reputation for creating products with the user in mind. They’ve been around since 1990 and continue to create innovative tools for everyday life.

Design – I liked the way the dividers looked. They’re white and match my drawers. They have rubber ends so they don’t damage the inside of drawers.

Construction – OXO makes their products out of sturdy plastics and these drawer dividers are no different. When I took them out of the box, I felt the expansion mechanism was sturdy and would hold up to repeated changes in size if I needed to use them elsewhere someday. I was willing to spend a little more money on them because I felt they would last.

Reliability –  I’ve had OXO products in my kitchen that were given to me as bridal shower gifts. Sixteen years later, I’m still using many of them. If kitchen tools I use multiple times a week can last almost two decades, so can drawer dividers.

Bonus: I also had a 20% off Bed Bath and Beyond coupon which made the purchase a little easier on the wallet. And it makes me happy to look at them every time I open my sock drawer. There’s something to be said for that, too. I’ve been using them for six months and no complaints from me or my socks. They’re working well, looking great and my black and blue socks live on opposite sides of the divider.

 

Cool Organizing Product: OXO Expandable Drawer Organizer I organizedartistry.com #organizesockdrawer

My organized sock drawer!

 

So, if your socks drawer needs some organization, consider using one or two sets of The OXO Expandable Drawer Organizer. It’s my latest ‘Cool Product’ pick.

What have you done to make your socks easier to find?

 

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3 Items to Wear While Getting Organized

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Before I leave my home office to work with a client, I make sure that I have everything I need: label maker, trash/recycle bags, post-its, and a whole host of other organizing tools I keep in my work bag. The other thing I make sure I have ‘on’ me: comfortable clothes.

Getting organized is a physical endeavor. Lots of moving, stretching, bending–it’s important to be dressed comfortably. You don’t want tight clothes, itchy tags, or shoes that rub the wrong way to distract you from reaching your organizing goals.

Before we start working together, I advise my clients to dress comfortably for our organizing sessions whether we’re working in a basement, clothes closet, or home office. I let them know that I’ll be ‘dressed to organize,’ too. Comfort is key–this is not the time to try out a new maxi dress and flip flops.

Since starting my organizing business over twelve years ago, I have spent a great deal of time searching stores for clothes and shoes (and maternity clothes for two pregnancies) that work well for my profession. It’s taken me many visits to stores, but I’ve come up with a short list of must-haves in my wardrobe for getting organized.

3 items I wear while organizing clients and my own home are:

Clothes with stretch I move A LOT on the job and my clothes have to move with me. I’m a hoot to watch in a store dressing room. I put on the garment and start pretending I’m helping someone organize a room. I bend over, stretch high, twist my body left to right. I do all of this to make sure tops and bottoms move with me as I move. In fact, most clothes that I wear to organize in are cotton or a cotton blend and have some kind of spandex material in them for that very reason. Like the one below, I’ve started wearing draped cardigans with a tank top underneath for ease of movement. They’re stylish and can be dressed up or down depending upon who and what I’m working with.

3 Items to Wear While Getting Organized - Be comfortable! I organizedartistry.com #organizeclothes

Draped front cardigan – Modcloth.com

Wrist watch Time flies when you’re engrossed in an organizing project. It’s wise to wear a wrist watch in order to always be aware of the time. Yes, you can use your phone but maybe you’re not wearing clothes with pockets or maybe your surfaces are filled with stuff and you may not be be able to find it under the piles. Wear a watch. As a Professional Organizer, not only am I helping my client get organized, I’m also managing the time during our sessions. My watch needs to have a face that I can see easily with a quick glance. I don’t own this, but I thought it would work perfectly…

 

3 Items to Wear While Getting Organized - Be comfortable! I organizedartistry.com #organizeclothes

Geneva Platinum Ladies’ Large Round Face Silicone Watch from Walmart.com

Closed-toe footwear Of the three items I wear while organizing, wearing closed-toe shoes is the most important–not so much for comfort but more for safety. Have you ever noticed that dropping even a light object on your bare foot can hurt? I have made clients change into closed-toe shoes before starting a session in a garage/basement/attic–even a clothing closet! You never know what will fall on your foot. Let’s keep those little piggies safe. I like to wear Skechers–they’re as comfy as a sneaker but have more style.

 

3 Items to Wear While Getting Organized - Be comfortable! I organizedartistry.com #organizeclothes

Skechers Relaxed Fit Breathe Easy Miss Me

I have a Pinterest board on this very topic–check it out for some comfy and stylish ideas…

What is your most comfortable outfit to wear while organizing?

 

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5 Must-Haves for Spring Cleaning Your Clothes Closet

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Great ideas! 5 Must-Haves for Spring Cleaning Your Clothes Closet | organizedartistry.com

 

Where I live, it’s kinda cold. And it’s the first day of Spring (insert frowny face here). As much as I’d love to start doing a little spring cleaning in my closet, I still need my polartec tops and flannel lined jeans. May have to start elsewhere this weekend…

But, if you live in a warmer climate or just can’t look at your boots one more day, then by all means start spring cleaning your clothes closet.

 

Here are the 5 ‘must-haves’ you’ll need for this project:

Garbage bags

Despite their name, these bags won’t all be used for garbage. Grab two colors–black, white, and a third bag can be a reusable tote. Designate black for trash, white for donations, and the tote for repairs. Why use this system? I have heard stories of people accidentally donating their trash and putting their donations to the curb because they used bags of one color.

As you are sorting through and purging clothes from your closet, place them in the correct bag. Clothes with repairable tears and shoes/handbags that need a little TLC from the shoemaker go in your tote bag. When you finish, place the black bags wherever you keep your trash, put the donation and repair bags in your car or at your doorway, and mark off a day on your calendar to drop off them off at their next destinations.

Pad of paper and pen or cell phone

As you go through your clothes, you may find that they have an old stain, they’re too loose or tight, or you just don’t love it anymore. When getting rid of garments, keep a list of items you’d like to replace. That way, when you’re at the mall, you don’t have to think about what clothes you need–just refer to your list and you’ll know exactly what purchases to focus on. Use pen and paper or your cell phone to create the list–whichever works best for you.

Bottle of water/snack

Spring cleaning a clothes closet is a physical activity. Handling some sentimental items and items with ‘bad karma’ attached to them can be emotional as well. Even if you’ve eaten a large meal before starting, I’d recommend having a bottle of water and a snack at arm’s reach. You’ll need a break to clear your head and refuel–how often you do that during this task is up to you and your needs. But, I always advise my clients to bring a snack and drink into the space we’re working on. It means they don’t have to leave the room and lose focus while we’re working.

Large flat or multiple small flat surfaces

When going through a clothes closet, it’s important to have a place to put the clothes while sorting them out. If your closet is in your bedroom, use the bed to place the garments down as you make decisions. If your clothes live in a room without a bed, use folding chairs or storage tubs to separate your clothes by category. The floor is NOT a good option unless absolutely necessary. If that’s the case, please open a flat sheet, lay it on the floor and place your piles on top of the sheet.

Time

A basic organizing principle to follow for spring cleaning or any organizing task is. ‘Make an Appointment With Yourself.’ We make appointments to see doctors and to make our hair look fabulous and we wouldn’t consider canceling them except in an emergency. Do the same with Spring Cleaning. Take out your calendar and pick a day to start. Pencil in 15 minutes, a half hour, an hour–whatever amount of time you think you can manage. Keep that appointment. You’ll be glad you did.

What do you think you’ll find in your clothes closet this Spring?

 

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Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom

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The last week of November was a busy time in my household. It was Thanksgiving. It was Hanukkah. And it was also my birthday. Lots of food and festivities. Not a lot of downtime.

But, my hubby and I chose to carve out a small amount of time that weekend to make our home more organized. The colder weather was upon us and we had to come up with a solution to a recent organization problem.

We have a front door and an entry-way closet next to that door. Coats, shoes, umbrellas and accessories are kept in that closet.

Problem: My children and I enter and exit our home most days through the garage, not the front door. No closet next to that garage entrance door. Instead, we have a tiny laundry room with an even tinier broom closet that we converted to a storage closet years ago. We installed a row of hooks across the top and at the bottom of the closet we store shopping and recycle bags of varying sizes.

Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
On this closet door, we installed a 4-pocket organizer from Babies R’ Us which has proved to be an extraordinarily helpful organizing product. Each of us has a pocket to store accessories and one is for infrequently used items like snow gloves.
Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces

This worked well for a while. My children were young and had little coats and my jacket fit just fine next to theirs. Now, my kids are bigger and so are their coats. They have more hats and mittens, too. With all three of our winter coats in there, the closet door no longer stayed closed. And the hooks were so high, I was the person in charge of hanging everyone’s coats.

What to do?

I had suggested a hall tree for the room adjacent to the garage which just so happens to be my home office. It wouldn’t thrill me to have coats and backpacks hanging in my work space but it was better than having them spill out of the storage closet–especially when I was doing the laundry.

My husband did not like the hall tree idea for two reasons:
1) He thought a hall tree would have looked messy. (I agree)
2) The hall tree would have to stand in the space currently occupied by his grandmother’s table which he loves and it would not fit in our attic.

So, for a while we thought about it, spent the summer leaving camp bags in the garage but then Autumn came and the problem was back. Backpacks and diaper bags were dropped as we entered the house and coats were dumped on a couch that sits opposite my desk in this room. (No picture is available–too embarrassing for this Professional Organizer to admit!)

Besides the fact that it looked terrible, it didn’t exactly instill the importance of being organized to our two young children.

Once again we asked ourselves, “What to do?”

Solution: One day, my husband looked at me and said, “What if we move the ironing board and vacuum cleaner out of the laundry room and use that space as a mudroom? I measured the space. It was 24” wide. I was skeptical but I grew up in a 5’x12′ bedroom. I knew I could make this work.

Challenge accepted!

Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
I’ll give my husband credit for thinking of utilizing this space. I probably never considered it because my husband likes to iron despite the fact he doesn’t do it much anymore (Yes–he does laundry, too. I’m a lucky lady…). We had not hung an iron in the iron holder since our first child started crawling six years ago. It was a great iron/ironing board organizer from Rubbermaid but it’s time was up. We relocated the real vacuum to the garage with the ironing board and the toy vacuum went to the basement playroom.
Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
I thought to myself, “Where am I going to find what I need to fit into a two-foot wide space?”
I looked in Home Goods and online and didn’t see much that would fit my tight secifications. Then one day, I was in Target and went to check out their Closetmaid collection. I’ve used their products in the past for organizing my kid’s toys and got to check out their new products at the NAPO Conference last year.
I walked down the aisle and not only did I see what would work for me, it was on sale!

Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
The Closetmaid 24″ Horizontal Stackable Organizer

 

Twenty four inches wide, too! What luck! My plan was to have the boys keep their backpacks on the top shelf, store their sneakers on the middle and bottom shelves and since their feet aren’t too big, maybe there would be room for a basket to hold accessories.
Now, I needed to figure out the second half of the mudroom–a place to hang coats. There are so many hook choices out there from the simple to the whimsical. We just needed simple. And, we needed more than one set of hooks. One was to be placed at the top of the space for my coat/handbag/hat and the other was to be placed so my kids could hang and retrieve their own outerwear.
Before Thanksgiving, I attended the holiday party for the local organizer group I belong to–NAPO-NNJ. Besides a lovely dinner, we had a Yankee Swap. The table was filled with gifts and I had pulled the last number for picking. By the time it was my turn to pick, there was one gift left on the table. You’ll never believe what it was?
A SET OF HOOKS!
What else do you think Professional Organizers would bring to a Yankee Swap??? It was meant to be!
And, the person who bought the hooks hadn’t removed the price tag entirely. They were from Bed Bath and Beyond. You can’t imagine how giddy I was over a set of hooks!
The next day with my trusty 20% coupon in hand, I bought another set. I was ready for construction to begin.
We charged our electric drill, connected with our inner Bob Villa, and made Mudroom Magic. Hubby and I put together the Closetmaid shelf in less than ten minutes. We measured and hung the hooks making sure they were straight with the iHandy level on my iPhone.
Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
Measure twice, make hole once!

 

My kids tried putting their backpacks on the bench–plenty of room!

Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
Hooks were hung and so were the coats. The laundry room is tight–here’a a few pics of what it looks like now.
Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
My kids have been using it everyday–I am so proud of them! Sometimes I find my husband staring at this space with a big grin on his face. I love it, too. No more coat clutter. It looks great. It keeps us organized. Twenty-four inches of space. Challenge accepted. Challenge met. Challenge complete!
What organizing challenges have you resolved in your home recently?

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Organizing Help for Back to School

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Some of your children may have started school already. Some may still be anticipating the first day. Despite their start date, my guest blogger, Linda Samuels of Oh, So Organized! wants to make sure your child’s school year is a happy and organized one. Read on for her top tips for creating simple systems for getting and staying organized throughout the school year.

It’s that time of year. Leaves are turning, classes are starting, and new school supplies are flying off store shelves. The other day I came across an old pre-printed pad, “A Note to School from Linda Samuels,” which I no longer use since our daughters are in college and beyond. Seeing the notepad made me think about all the years of excited anticipation we had preparing for school to begin. Are you and your kids ready for the transition? Take a deep breath. Getting that organizing piece working for you can make a big difference in having your days run more smoothly. Here are my top tips for an organized, joyful school year.

Cycle – Giving closure to the previous school year helps us get ready for this year. Sort through last year’s school papers (preferably with your kids.) It’s a great opportunity to review what was accomplished and what they were most proud of. It gives you a chance to create a mini time capsule representing last year. Be ruthless when you sort. Save what’s important and recycle the rest. Store the “keepers” in a large envelope. Write your kid’s name, grade and year on the outside. Store the envelope in a larger container. Add a new envelope at the end of each school year.

Capture – Establish a place to put the current school papers as they enter your home. You can use bins, binders, boxes, or any container that’s easily accessible. As artwork, graded papers, or programs come in, put them in their designated spot. You might want a separate container for each kid. When the container gets full, you can do some editing. Then the “keepers” can be stored in their year-end envelope, as described above.

Classic Stockholm Magazine Files from the Container Store are helpful for organizing papers


Land – Create a place for backpacks, coats and notes to reside. When kids come home, they will know where to put their belongings. Cubbies work well, as do hooks. Make them easily accessible both in terms of their physical placement in the home and the heights that you place things. The easier you make it, the better chance you have for creating the “place it here” habit. Consider adding a white board or other communication center in this area to leave notes, messages and important items for kids to remember. Before bed, have your kids make sure that all needed items for the next morning are reading in the “land” area.

Center – One of the essential ingredients for school success is establishing a place to do homework and have school supplies readily available. When it’s time to do that science project, it’s no fun to have to hunt for the markers. Review your current supplies to see if there are any items that need to be replaced. Create a zone for the supplies to reside. If your kids like to move around to various locations for doing their homework, then put together a portable tote or crate to hold the supplies. Whether they prefer working on a desk, their bed or the kitchen table, the supplies can “travel” with your kids.

Pottery Barn Schoolhouse Craft Desk


Assess – Fall is a natural time to review clothing needs. Organize with each kid separately. Go through their closets and drawers. Remove any items that no longer fit, they won’t wear, or need repair or cleaning. With the “do not wants or fits,” donate or save for younger kids if appropriate. Make a shopping list of items that are needed. Remember that less is easier to maintain than too much. Factor in how often laundry is done. Especially if it’s done frequently, you many not need as many clothes. Getting dressed is so much easier and less stressful when everything fits, is clean, and organized.

Resources – This is the time of year when back to school tips and suggestions are abundant. Many of my organizing colleagues have great wisdom to share. Some of my favorite tips and posts are Lorie Marrero’s video about using a binder for organizing school papers and more, Leslie Josel’s Student Organizing Pinterest board, Clare Kumar’s 5 Tips for a Better Back to School, Helena Alkhas’ school paper organizing system, and Ellen Delap’s Back to School Tips to Organize Your Home.

Perspective – With transitions come new patterns, more to dos, and extra stress. Reminding our selves to enjoy the moments can be helpful. They go so fast. A few years ago I wrote a guest post for Working Mother, Moms’ ‘To Do’ Lists, about getting things done, parenting and appreciating the various stages of our children’s lives.

What are some of your favorite ways to stay organized for the school year? Come stop by to share your best tips and resources.

Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® is a compassionate, enthusiastic professional organizer and coach, founder of Oh, So Organized! (1993), author of The Other Side of Organized, and blogger on organizing and life balance.  In July 2013, Linda joined the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) Board of Directors as President-Elect. She has been featured in The New York Times, Woman’s Day, Bottom Line Personal, Westchester Magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray, and Enterpreneur.com. Connect with Linda on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blog, or website. Sign up for a free monthly e-newsletter with bonus tips at ohsoorganized.com.

Can Organizing Supplies BE the Clutter?

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I’m always advising my clients to sort, purge and inventory their belongings before purchasing organizing supplies. My guest blogger, Moreen Torpy of De-Clutter Coach in Ontario, Canada thinks that sometimes organizing supplies that are supposed to help us are in fact cluttering our homes! Read on to see if you recognize some of the signs of this idea in your home…

Many times when I go into clients’ homes, I see they’ve purchased any number of organizing supplies and books. What they’ve actually bought is the dream of being organized, not the reality. This may seem a bit harsh, but stay with me for a bit.

Cubbies containing enough shoes to stock a shoe store isn’t organizing the shoes. It’s simply showcasing the quantity. Who really needs a hundred pair of shoes? My question is whether all this footwear is actually being worn, especially when there are large numbers of children’s shoes. Because kids grow so quickly, how do they even have time to wear all of them before they’re too small. In this case, the cubbies intended to organize are really contributing to the disorganization.

Empty bins stacked or not, intended to store off season clothes, are useless unless they contain something. Before buying bins, why not prune your wardrobe, holiday decorations, and anything else you intend to store, then decide what kind of storage is needed. Spending money on unnecessary bins adds to the clutter rather than reducing it.

Adding storage baskets to closets to hold clothing that hasn’t been worn in years isn’t the answer. I suggest weeding out items that aren’t being worn on a regular basis and reduce the number of storage baskets to de-clutter that closet.

Containers for gift wrap can be a trap. Paper deteriorates with time, so having a large supply, even if it wasn’t expensive, doesn’t serve in the long run. Carefully storing all that paper in containers made for gift wrap is often a waste of time, especially if you run out the day after Christmas to grab more gift wrap on sale to add to the collection. Decide on two containers, maximum. One for holiday wrap, and one for other occasion wrap. These will be plenty for a normal household.

And we can’t forget all those plastic food containers! Whether they’re fancy take-out ones or recycled ones (margarine, yogurt, etc.) or new ones, they’re still clutter if they’re not being used. A rule of thumb for food containers is to have only the number that will fit in your freezer. Logically more than that won’t be used because there’s no place for it. And I won’t even go into the containers with missing lids or the covers with no bottoms. The only thing to do with these is to get rid of them. It’s a well-known fact that they multiply behind closed cabinet doors. Beware the unattached pieces!

I’m not advocating adding anything to the landfill that can be diverted—just saying to think ahead and not bring them into your home at all. We can only repurpose so much in the existing space. To my mind, adding space to accommodate clutter is unproductive and wasteful.

So you have organizing supplies that have become clutter? What’s your plan to eliminate it/them? Please share your solutions—we’d love to hear from you.

© Moreen Torpy

We would be honored for you to reprint this article. If you do, please include the resource box below with the hyperlinks intact.

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Moreen Torpy is the De-Clutter Coach, a Trained Professional Organizer, Author, and Speaker. Her new book is Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In. See www.GoForwardDownsize.com for more about the book including where to purchase it, and www.decluttercoach.ca to learn about her organizing services and other books.

On Hurricanes, Organization, and Being Thankful

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It’s been almost a month since Hurricane Sandy blew through the Northeast.

I am thankful that my family came out of the hurricane fairly unscathed. We had power and heat–our only loss was internet and cable for about a week. We know many who slept in chilled houses and went wherever they could to charge their phones and laptops for weeks on end. And that’s nothing compared to people who completely lost their homes…

But I was nervous…

You see, in the spring of 2010, a month before giving birth to baby #2, a storm dropped our neighbor’s huge tree onto our home. It came through a window of our three-season room and took up about 80% of our backyard.
Our neighbor still has another big tree in his backyard and as you can imagine, my husband and I were concerned about Hurricane Sandy causing similar or worse damage to our home.
We hoped for the best but prepared for the worst. And then got organized.
We made ice. And filled ziploc bags with water to make more ice. We bought all the ‘D’ batteries we could find and gathered all our flashlights, candles, and electronics in one place. I also gathered all information we might need in case of an emergency: 
-our homeowners and car insurance polices/account numbers, 
-our PSE&G account and contact information, 
-the telephone number for News 12 New Jersey to hear news reports if we had no other way to access the news.
I packed a few days worth of clothes for all of us and a weeks worth of diapers for my little guy. This is just the kids’ pile…
I also packed water, non-perishables and made a list of perishables to take with us in case we had to evacuate our home.

I was anxious about another tree falling on my house during the hurricane but I was equally as anxious about the possibility of having to feed my youngest child if we had no refrigeration or way to heat food up. He has multiple food allergies on top of the fact that he’s 2.5 and doesn’t have the most sophisticated palette.

I channeled my anxiety by making lists–a great way to get organized and prepare for an event such as a hurricane. I started on paper but then switched over to my favorite productivity app, Evernote. I use this app as a place to dump my brain and keep information for future use. I started an ‘Emergency Preparedness’ folder in Evernote and created the following lists of items we’d need:

-perishable food
-non-perishable food

-perishable food for my child with food allergies
-non-perishable food for my child with food allergies
-important contact information
-what we’d need to take with us in case we need to evacuate (clothing, cash, medicine, important papers, etc.)

You can access Evernote from any computer or your phone–the information is all in the cloud. I HIGHLY recommend this app. My desk would be overrun with papers and post-its without it!

Now that I had made my lists, I felt more prepared for the upcoming storm. What I wasn’t prepared for was my 2.5 year old getting his foot stuck between the slats of a dining room chair as the wind was howling and the trees were swaying. Days later, people asked us if we had any damage due to Hurricane Sandy. I laughed and said to them, “one chair–and it was INSIDE the house.”

It was repaired the next day and now our son’s booster seat sits on this chair. I think we’re going to be telling this story for years to come…

After the storm blew through, we touched base with family and friends discovered that we were one of the few homes around town that had power. We had no TV or internet access but I was grateful that we had heat and a fully working kitchen.
Our preparedness helped us as well as with others. We shared extra batteries, extra room in our fridge and freezer and gave out food, ice and a warm place to hang out to those who needed it.

School was closed for seven days. What kept my kids most occupied during the no-school days following the hurricane?

Balloons!

Is it possible to be thankful for a bag of balloons? Why not?

We also had nieces and nephews stop by to play and warm up. We had fun with stickers and crayons and other non-electronic toys. I will say–despite the fact we did not have cable, our DVR worked. So, we did have a bit of television to keep the kiddies occupied.

During this time, I also taught my kids how to use the Swiffer. They loved pushing it around, especially my 2.5 year old. He and my 6 year old had a competition–who could pick up the most dirt and dust with it. I had very clean floors after the hurricane!

Slowly we heard about more and more people getting their power back. Schools were opening again. Gas lines were getting shorter. Everyone from celebrities to relief organizations were collecting for Hurricane Sandy relief.

My son’s school sent a note home that they were collecting items for the towns of Little Ferry and Moonachie, NJ. I used this event as a lesson in gratitude/being thankful. My six year old and I talked about how we were very lucky that nothing happened to our house during the hurricane and how others had not been so lucky. We collected items from the list, labeled the bags and he helped me take them to school.

Three cheers for Warren Point Elementary School of Fair Lawn, NJ!

Three more cheers go out to Girl Scout Troop 445 of Fair Lawn. They made up a list of food items they wished to collect for those affected by Hurricane Sandy and were nice enough to staple a plastic bag to the list. Very organized, ladies!

Once again, I took my son into our pantry. We had another talk about people affected by the hurricane that need food and how lucky we were to have what we need in our house. He read the items from the list and I put them in the bags–a lesson in literacy and gratitude. I recycled the plastic bag, and used paper instead…

Other companies/organizations involved in collecting for Hurricane Sandy–

Deposit A Gift, an online cash gift registry service, has partnered with The Foundling Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund and is donating an extra 4% for every dollar given. Here’s how you can help. People have even created ‘registries’ for family/friends who have lost much to Huricane Sandy. Here’s an example of how one couple is raising funds for their Aunt Pat who lived in the devastated Breezy Point area of NY.

Whole Foods near me in Paramus, NJ is collecting coats through December 7th for New York Cares 24th Annual Coat Drive. According to the NY Cares website, “the storm created an unprecedented demand for warm coats.”

The Container Store is partnering with One Warm Coat to collect gently used coats, hats and mittens, sweaters and sweatshirts.

Please take a look in your closets and see if you have any outerwear that is in good enough shape to donate. This is the perfect time to de-clutter and help others.

Hurricane Sandy blew through town a few weeks before Thanksgiving–a time when most of us have more of an awareness of what we’re thankful for.

I’m thankful for much but in terms of the hurricane, I’m thankful…

-we had power, a working kitchen and didn’t need to leave our home.
-that we were able to help others after the storm.
-for my husband being home from work for a week and the time we got to spend as a family.
-for the break from the internet. As wonderful as it is, sometimes my eyes and brain need a rest…
-for the little time we got to organize. Not always easy with little kids around but we tackled a few -hot spots in my house.
-for Evernote which got me organized for this storm and prepared for a similar emergency in the future.
-that the only storm damage we had was a dining room chair!

A hurricane is a powerful reminder of our need to express gratitude and desire to be of help to others. Just because Thanksgiving has passed and the holiday season is upon us doesn’t mean we should forget about those who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. Please consider de-cluttering your closets, buying an extra holiday gift for a displaced child, or donating food to a local food pantry. Keep thankfulness and gratitude on your mind and in your heart this season and always.

Organizing Quote

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I’m guilty.

Guilty of not being able to keep up with reading my magazines. I’m now down to one subscription and I have a stack that I’m slowly chipping away at. See, even Professional Organizers get behind on tasks!

I just finished reading the March 2012 ‘De-clutter Your Life’ issue of O “Oprah’ magazine and really enjoyed reading an article called, “Journey to the Center of Gayle’s Closet.”

In the article, Adam Glassman, O Magazine’s Creative Director along with a small team of helpers assist Gayle King (Oprah’s ‘bestie’) with a closet intervention: sorting, purging and organizing her clothes closet.

It’s a great piece written by the very talented Lisa Kogan. She is so funny, I’d read the phone book if I knew she wrote it…

There’s a section at the bottom of the article showing products to help to organize a closet–that’s where I got the following quote from…

Quote: “What good are boxes and bins if you can’t easily tell what’s in them?” says Adam Glassman.

“People can last a day or two without food and water, but no one can live without a label maker!”

Loved that. Had to share. Who is running out and getting a label maker?

New Baby? Time to Get Organized!

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I’m not sure what happened in the universe nine months ago, but it seems as if everyone is having babies this spring. I have bought a bunch of baby gifts over the past few weeks and my mother just took three pink and blue packages to the post office.
It’s raining babies!
Babies are cute and sweet and smell great but they come with A LOT of stuff–A LOT of stuff that needs organizing! Clothes, toys, gadgets, and equipment are only the tip of the baby-belongings iceberg. Papers, feeding/sleeping schedules, and the baby gift/thank you note list need to be organized, too.
Whether you’re expecting or your bundle of joy has already arrived, what parent can’t use a few baby organizing tips?
With that in mind, I’d like to offer a few valuable pre-baby organizing tips and “can’t-live-without-them” organizing products to assist in creating a clutter-free environment for you and your new arrival.
Pre-Baby Organizing Tips
 
Sort and Purge—your own stuff
Get rid of the old to make room for ‘the new’ (your little one needs a lot of room!). Sort and purge through your own clutter in your:
Closets

Discard or donate any clothes no longer worn or usable. The clothes in your closet (whether they’re maternity or regular-sized clothes) should fit and flatter you and be easily accessible. There’s no time to pull together an outfit when your baby is crying in the next room. In addition, if there’s stuff in the closet that is designated for your child, sort and purge that one, too.
Kitchen cabinets
Clear out items such as old containers and expired food and relocate anything you use once a year to make room for bottles, baby food and sippy cups.
Linen closet or bathroom

Toss expired medicine and remove worn out linens to make room for baby’s linens and medical supplies.
Create lists
Whether your ‘womb-mate’ is depleting you of your brain cells or not, you still have plenty to remember. Write down everything you need to recall. Make lists. Here are a few examples of lists you may wish to create prior to your due date:
To-Do List

There’s so much to do! Register for necessities, write thank you notes, interview pediatricians, look at baby furniture and keep up with the rest of your life at the same time. Keeping a to-do list will help keep you focused on what must get accomplished before baby arrives.
Gift list

Unless you have many enemies, your child will receive gifts. It’s important to have a ‘gift’ list ready so keeping track of who gave you what and writing thank you notes will be a less chaotic task. Create the gift list on a legal pad or on the computer. Designate one place to store it so can find it when the UPS guy rings your doorbell.
Birth announcement list
If you’re planning on sending out a birth announcement, generate an address list of people you’d like to send an announcement to. The addressing of the envelopes is a perfect task to delegate. When friends and relatives ask how they can help you—hand them a pen!
Guest list
If you’re having a religious or non-religious post-birth celebration create a list of people you wish to invite along with their contact information.
Set up a filing system for your child’s papers
You’re probably thinking—papers? For a baby? Yes, not only do babies create a lot of dirty diapers they also create a lot of paperwork. These papers need a home so they’re not cluttering up your desk or kitchen counter. Their home could be a space in your file cabinet or a separate file box.
Examples of files for new baby are:
Birth certificate/Social Security card
Medical records/Pediatrician notes
Bank account/College savings account information
Baby equipment instruction booklets (yes—you should keep them…)
Gift list
Buy bins/tubs
Purchase a minimum of 5-7 bins large enough for ample storage but small enough for you to lift if necessary (to an attic space or to stack in your basement). My personal favorite are the Rubbermaid Roughneck bins. Label them as follows 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12 months.
People are going to give your child clothing as a gift, You may also receive ‘hand-me-downs’ from friends or relatives with older children. If the clothes you receive don’t fit your newborn yet, place them into the bin marked with the appropriate size for future use. Also, designate a bin for maternity clothes storage. As you drop the baby weight, drop the maternity clothes in the bin.
If you don’t have the space for bins/tubs, use Ziploc brand L-XXL bags for storage. They can be easily stored under a bed or at the top or bottom of your child’s closet.
A Few “Can’t-Live-Without-Them” Organizing Products:
Diaper Organizer
You’d be surprised to discover how many different products need to be handy while your baby is on the changing table. Depending upon what type of changing table you have, either one of these diaper organizers will work for you:
Prince Lionheart Dresser Top Diaper Depot Organizer sits on top of a changing table or dresser converted to a dressing table



Prince Lionheart Diaper Depot Organizer attaches to side of changing table



Baby Briefcase
If you have no time or desire to set up a filing system for your baby, check out the Baby Briefcase. It is a baby paperwork organizer created by a mom amazed by the amount of documents her new baby generated.

Bottle Drying Rack
Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, a bottle drying rack comes in very handy. It helps to keep all of your baby’s bottles, nipples and breast pump supplies in one place post-cleaning. As your child gets older, it can be used for kiddie plates, spoons and sippy cups.

Getting organized is essential as you prepare for the arrival of a new baby. You’ll want to be able to find what you need when you need it—quickly—and sometimes in the dark! After your first sleepless night, you’ll be glad you took the time to create an organized environment you and your new bundle of joy.
Share this with someone who is about to have a baby or just had one. Knowledge makes a great gift…

 

What area of YOUR life needs organizing?

Contact Stacey to Get Started!

Professional Affiliations

NAPO Member NAPO Golden Circle  Bergen Health and Life 2015 POWR
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