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Getting Organized: A Quick FAQ

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Whether I’m at a networking meeting, a client’s home, or a social or family gathering I am often asked the same few questions about getting organized. Some people ask me about products, others ask me how I feel about all the organizing shows that have been on television, but most ask the questions below.

I hope the answers to these questions prove to be helpful as you begin or continue your journey to an organized life.

Why is it important to be organized?
Organized people are able to find the things they need when they need them—and finding what you need when you need it is what ‘being organized’ is all about. Being organized saves you time, money, and stress. By being organized, one is able to put lost time back in their day, money back in their wallets, and live life with less stress and frustration overall.
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How do I get organized if I don’t have the time?
You have to MAKE the time. If you didn’t make the time to get your car an oil change would it work well? If you didn’t make the time to exercise and cook healthy meals would your body be able to maintain an active lifestyle? If you don’t set aside the time to ‘get organized,’ your household as well as your life will not function to it’s fullest capacity.

Start by making a fifteen-minute appointment with yourself at a time of day when you are most energetic. Mark it in a calendar and stick to it. You don’t need to devote eight hours on a Sunday to getting organized—you’d be amazed at how much you can get done by spending fifteen minutes in ‘organizing mode.’

Where do I begin?
I’m always asked this question and the person asking it usually has a look of panic on their face! I always recommend to people that they take inventory of their organizing needs and select an area that is driving them crazy or making their life difficult. For a small business owner, it may be their filing system. For a stay-at-home mom, it may be the playroom or the kitchen.

Break the task down into small, manageable tasks. For instance, if it’s your kitchen that’s disorganized, start by going through the silverware drawer. After you’ve tackled the drawer, you’re done with organizing for the day unless you choose to move on to another small section of the kitchen such as the sippy cup collection or the spice rack.

Once I’m organized, how do I maintain it?
The most important thing you need to keep your home/home office organized is DESIRE—the desire to keep your space organized and the desire to put forth the effort to keep it as so. Realistic goals are also necessary when it comes to ‘staying organized.’ You cannot expect an overnight change–on average it takes 21 days to establish a habit. So, if you install a hook by the front door for your keys and you forget once in a while to hang them there, don’t beat yourself up over it—it will come naturally soon enough.

Be prepared–there will be some days where you won’t have the time or energy to organize even the smallest of spaces—that’s OK. Just do your best. I tell people that one of the most important things they can do when they lack the time or energy to organize is to just stay ‘on top of their lives.’ Putting dishes back in the cabinet after they’ve dried, dealing with your mail shortly after you walk through the door, straightening out the medicine cabinet while you’re brushing your teeth are all quick and easy ways to prevent disorganization from creeping back into a newly organized space.

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National Association of Professional Organizers

What can a Professional Organizer do for me?
A Professional Organizer has the skills and experience to provide their clients with information, ideas, solutions and systems to increase productivity and reduce stress. By hiring a professional organizer you will not only be able to take advantage of their knowledge, and expertise, but you’ll be able to benefit from their non-judgemental physical and emotional support as well.

To find a Professional Organizer in your area, go to the website of the National Association of Professional Organizers and click on ‘Find an Organizer.’ It may be the first step on your journey to an organized life.

Do you have any other questions? Ask away!

Tales of a Town-Wide Garage Sale

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In 2000, my husband and I got married and merged two households. Between all the stuff we came with and the beautiful wedding gifts we had received, our home was overflowing with three of this, four of that and too much of a whole lotta stuff. So, we decided to sort through what we owned, purge out what we didn’t need and have a garage sale.

I wish I had pictures to show you but our driveway and lawn were filled with our belongings. People thought we were downsizing and moving! I overheard one woman on her cell phone yelling to a friend, “You gotta come over here–there’s so much great stuff!”

Two days and almost $1000 later, we had done a good job of clearing space in our home. We used the funds to buy a patio set which we still own. At the end of day two, I turned to my husband and said “I never want to have enough stuff in our home to do a garage sale again…”

It’s now 2013. We’ve had two children and our house was feeling full. My husband swore our attic floor would soon buckle and bins of stuff would crash to the floor below. In the Spring we began, Operation ‘Get It Out of the House.’ Big ticket items like our crib and two exersaucers found new homes. Bags upon bags of baby clothing found their way to three different expectant mothers. My husband says he could hear the attic exhale for the first time in years.

Tales of a Town-Wide Garage Sale - A perfect way to purge before a home renovation I organizedartistry.com #organizegaragesale
Multiply this times three and that’s how many bags of 0-12m baby clothing I gave away!

I kept purging–kiddie toys to the preschool, old pillows to the trash and then it happened…My neighbor tells me our town is having it’s first town-wide garage sale.

I pass the great news on to my husband. He’s as excited as I am.

I continue purging. I started to collect boxes and plastic bags, and began pricing. I even dug up the Word file for the garage sale sign I had created in 2000 (Hubby says that didn’t surprise him one bit…).

Tales of a Town-Wide Garage Sale - A perfect way to purge before a home renovation I organizedartistry.com #organizegaragesale
My cousin Dale gave me the ‘Fill a bag for $1’ idea. Brilliant!

After pricing, I sorted our items by category–Baby, Kid Toys, Housewares, Books, etc. counting down the days when I could finally reclaim my garage space again.

We had about a tenth of the stuff we put out in 2000. Our friend gave us some of her things to put in the garage sale so she could purge her house, too. We had two beautiful sunny days and although foot traffic was light, enough customers made purchases to say it was successful.

 

My neighbors across the street set up a few tables and my nine year old neighbor decided to try his hand at selling some toys he and his brother didn’t play with anymore. I advised him to lay them out on towels grouping ‘like’ with ‘like’–dinosaurs with other dinos and all vehicles together, too. He sold a few items (including one of the bikes in the background) but at least half of them went to my son’s preschool or to my own kids!

Tales of a Town-Wide Garage Sale - A perfect way to purge before a home renovation I organizedartistry.com #organizegaragesale
The wares of a budding entrepreneur…

 

A few shoppers commented on how organized my labeled pricing system was. I smiled and said, ‘Thanks.’ Oh, if they only knew…
Two days later, we made less than a tenth of the money we had made in the 2000 garage sale but that’s OK. We weren’t doing it for the money–we were getting rid of the ‘old’ to make room for the ‘new.’

Some funny/unexpected things that happened during the garage sale:
• My neighbors bought some of my stuff!
• A shopper thought a painting marked $3.00 was actually $300. We all had a good chuckle…
• A grandma about six inches shorter than me bought and then picked up a Little Tikes picnic table and walked back to her house with it.
• I sold a NJ Devils giveaway towel to my seven year old for $ .25. I thought it would be a good math lesson…

He said, “Mommy, I can’t believe you were going to sell this!”

Some great things that happened during the garage sale:
• I had fun hanging out with my neighbors and celebrating our selling successes.
• My kids acquired some cool toys and baseball mitts from our neighbors across the street.
• I got to read two magazines during selling ‘downtime.’ Any mom of small kids know that this is quite a feat!
• We made a little extra spending money.
• We purged our home of things we no longer needed.

At the end of the garage sale, I packed up all unsold goods and split them into three categories. Give to Preschool, Give to Thrift Shop, Bring Back in the Garage. The ‘Give to Thrift Shop’ bags and boxes went from my driveway to my car to a local donation center. My ‘Preschool’ items are enjoying a new home in my son’s classroom and the one (!) bin marked ‘Bring Back in the Garage’ is being dealt with this week.

So, if your town is declaring a town-wide garage sale soon, or you’re looking to make some room in your home and some money for your wallet, here are a few tips to make your garage sale successful:

• Use a color coded pricing system and hang your signs everywhere. I used blue painter’s tape and a marker for any item over $2.
• Wear comfortable clothes with pockets and comfy footwear. You’re going to be moving and standing a lot.
• A few weeks before your sale, start collecting large and small plastic shopping bags for customers to put their purchases in.
• Group like items together. If someone is looking for kids toys and they’re strewn across your lawn, customers are less likely to see them and buy them.
• Smile and welcome your potential customers. Engage them in conversation and ask if you can help them find anything special.

OK–Who is ready to have a garage sale?

 

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Cool Product – Artkive

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Looking for a digital way to store your kid's artwork? Try the Artkive app! My dining room table is artwork-free! I organizedartistry.com #kidsartwork

 

 

I know it’s summer, and no one likes to mention the word ‘school’ during the summer, but I want to prepare you for what is coming. I bring up the topic of ‘school’ because just like kids, parents need to start the school year with tools to make their lives easier.

I’ve started using an app for de-cluttering my house and I wanted to share it with you so you’re ready for the day your child brings home this:

and this:

And enough three-dimesional pieces of art to fill an exhibition space at the MOMA.

The app is called Artkive

Their tag line is: ‘The clutter free way to save and enjoy your child’s artwork’

I read about it in an article on apps for Moms about a year ago and decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did–I LOVE IT!

True Confessions: Despite the fact I’m a Professional Organizer, I still have to deal with the influx of my children’s artwork just like you do. What I’ve done in the past was display some of my son’s artwork, have him sort and purge all of it with me at the end of the year, photograph him with some of it, keep his best pieces and toss the rest. We still take pics of his artwork if he no longer wants to keep it but Artkive has made the process a much easier and organized one.

Now, artwork comes home from TWO children and as it comes out of their backpacks, I ‘Artkive’ the work of art and place them in each child’s room either for display or storage.

If you’d like to see the top of your horizontal surfaces this school year, read on–you can thank me later…

How to start…
• Download the Artkive app (for iPhone and Android).
• Set up an account with the name(s) of your child(ren) and their grade in school.
• Take a picture of your kid’s artwork or upload from your camera roll.
• Tag the photo with your child’s name, grade, date and title of artwork.
• Share with family and friend or turn into a book (coming soon: other products).

It’s just that simple. I haven’t created a book of my kids’ artwork yet, but it’s something I would definitely try out in the future. Currently, there are two options: 8″x8″ or 8″x11.” The cost is $25 for the first 20 pages–$1.00 for each additional page. Before holiday time, Artkive plans to expand to gifts like mugs, calendars and the like.

Why I love Artkive…
• It’s EASY to use.
• I can quickly email artwork to my husband or parents without having to first download the pictures to my computer and emailing them from there.
• All artwork is backed up in the ‘cloud.’
• It helps eliminate artwork clutter.

• It’s free. Go download it and set it up before the first day of school.

You’re welcome.

After you’ve used it for a while, come back and let me know what you think about Artkive!

CLICK HERE to sign up for Organized Artistry’s motivating monthly newsletter!

My Top Ten Organizing Posts

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It’s hard to believe but Organized Artistry is heading into it’s 11th year in business. The time has certainly flown! In that time, I’ve written organizing tip articles for my website and almost four years ago, I started this blog.

In honor of 11 years of organizing, I share with you the top ten most popular posts of this blog–plus one bonus post to make it 11. I hope at least one of them will offer you an idea or a resource for creating and maintaining an organized life.

Curious as to what readers liked most?

Top 3 blog posts:

Best Products for Organizing Your Car
This post was the most popular by a landslide! Maybe I need to add ‘car organizing’ to my list of services…

Organizing Inspiration from Curious George
Who would think that a mischievous monkey could teach us a lesson on organization?

Peter Walsh Organizes Rachael Ray’s Kitchen
She’s got a smaller kitchen than one would assume. Peter Walsh makes cooking at home a more stress-free activity for the famous cook.

Cool Product blog posts:

Cool Product – Jewelry Organizer
Not your usual jewelry holder…

Cool Product – Cable Turtle
Wires! Wires! Wires! No more unsightly wire messes thanks to cable turtles.

Cool Product – Fridge Binz
If your fridge need organizing, check these out…

Other popular blog posts:

De-Cluttering Tips
Simple, basic steps to follow for de-cluttering…

Top Ten Helper Shelf ‘Hot Spots’ for Your Home
This was a popular post, too. I love helper shelves! See how they can transform your closets and cabinets.

Organizing Up and Down–a Vertical Makeover
My motto: “If you can’t go outward, go UPWARD!”

Organizing on the Cheap: Target Dollar Spot
Love the Target Dollar Spot. You never know what organizing products (or other goodies) you’ll find there.

New Baby? Time to Get Organized
These little people have a lot of stuff and require a ton of organization!

Bonus post: Some organizing humor…

Professional Organizer Humor
Yes, there’s a bumper sticker for our profession, too!

My blog posts are written with the intention of providing information, tips, resources and sometimes a good laugh. I hope they have provided you with all that and more. Thanks so much for supporting Organized Artistry!

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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.

10 Organizing Projects You Can Do While Watching Television

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Too tired to get organized? Here are some of my favorite ideas for 'organizing in your bunny slippers.' 10 Organizing Projects You Can Do While Watching Television I organizedartistry.com

 

Do you watch TV? What’s your favorite television show at the moment?

The Voice?
Big Bang Theory?
Dancing With the Stars?

Watching television can be a great way to relax, learn a new subject or be entertained. But, I’ll let you in on a little organizing secret:

Watching television can be a great way to get organized.

You’re probably thinking, “What? I can organize my house while watching TV? Hook me up!”

Well, I’m about to…

As I’ve discussed in past posts, in order to reach an organizing goal, one must have a plan in place and mini-goals set to eventually reach that goal. Some of these mini-goals or projects can be accomplished while watching television. Sitting down. In your bunny slippers. With a glass of wine in your hand–if you’d like.

Before you plop down on the couch in your pajamas with or without a glass of liquid inspiration, bring an organizing project with you. Here are ten organizing projects/mini-goals you can easily tackle while watching television, getting you one step closer to the organizing finish line:

1. Empty your wallet and go through receipts, business cards, cash, etc.

2. Put your sock drawer (T-shirts/underwear/you get the idea) on your lap and sort/purge/organize

3. Put your kitchen junk drawer on the floor/coffee table to sort through, purge and reorganize

4.  Sort through, delete or update apps on your smart phone

5. Organize recipes into categories and place in plastic sleeves in a binder

6. Sort/Purge a stack of papers from your file cabinet/dining room table/pile on the floor

7. Group photos by event, person or chronologically and put into albums

8. Sort through old magazines

9. Sort/Purge expired coupons

10. Fold laundry and put away during commercials

What will you be watching and organizing tonight?
 
 

Peter Walsh Organizes Rachael Ray’s Kitchen

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If you watch television and you have even the teeniest tiniest interest in organizing then you know who Peter Walsh is. If not, here’s the short version: Peter Walsh is an Organizing Expert from Australia who has a ‘tell it like it is’ attitude but also uses compassion and empathy while organizing with his clients. He has worked miracles in tiny spaces, as well as in the homes of hoarders. I first saw him on an organizing show called ‘Clean Sweep’ and from there, he occasionally appeared on The Oprah Show as well as other daytime shows.

I ‘Like’ Peter Walsh on Facebook. He’s always posting about projects he’s working on, easy organizing tips, and when he’ll be on TV next. So, a short while ago, he posted that he was going to be de-cluttering Rachael Ray’s home kitchen on The Rachael Ray Show. Sweet! My DVR was set. If you didn’t get to catch it last week, here’s what happened…

Rachael Ray, America’s sweetheart of the kitchen had a secret…

She told her audience that she has a tiny NYC apartment kitchen and that she’s just as guilty as other homeowners when it comes to de-cluttering her kitchen–it never happens. Cluttered cupboards, out-of-date food in the pantry and cabinets overflowing with pots and pans were just some of her organizing issues.

If I had her hectic schedule, I might not have time to de-clutter my kitchen either…

She decided to bring Peter Walsh to her home to see if he could get her kitchen organized again. Rachael gave him a quick tour of the room and then he kicked her out and started organizing. Peter started with the pantry–he emptied it, sorted the items and tossed all expired food in the trash.

Some of Peter’s pantry tips:

-Store platters upright for easier access. Use an organizing product that stores baking trays to do the same thing for platters.

-Keep flat surfaces clear. They are for food prep–not for storage.

Peter then headed to a spot most people wrestle with in their kitchen–the junk drawer. Like the panty, Peter emptied the drawer and sorted out the trash. He then grouped ‘Like with Like’ and used containers to keep ‘like’ items together.

Peter used drawer dividers like these to organize Rachael’s junk drawer

What junk drawer items did he hold up for all the world to see? Four pair of gardening shears! Since Rachael didn’t use them very often, he promptly moved them to a different area of the kitchen.

He then removed all magnets from her refrigerator. I have a ton of magnets and children’s artwork on my fridge–Peter Walsh would have a field day with my fridge!

He and his crew worked to de-clutter the rest of Rachael’s kitchen and then brought her back in to see.

The first spot he showed her was the pantry–she loved how de-cluttered it was and how Peter had grouped ‘like’ items with like items on clear trays from The Container Store. They then moved on to the junk drawer–Rachael was so thrilled with the way it looked, she gave Peter a high-five! He had removed many of her household tools and placed them in labeled bins in a cabinet over the refrigerator to get them out of the way.

Rachael then walked over to the fridge and saw that most of her magnets were gone! She almost had a heart attack because a magnet with her deceased dog’s picture on it was no where to be found. It was quickly placed back on the fridge–organizing crisis averted!

As I often do with my clients, Peter gave ‘Organizing Homework’ to Rachael…
-go through all cooking utensils
-separate out the ones she uses often from the ones she barely uses
-keep drawers neat and tidy

Peter offered up two tips and advice for the viewing audience:
1. Stop using the word LATER as in, “I’ll put that away later.” Do things as you go and he promises it will make a huge difference.
2. Flat surfaces are for PREPARATION not STORAGE.

Peter also gave the viewing audience five ‘Double Duty’ organizing products to use in the home:
1. Use an empty tissue box to store plastic bags (I do this in my own home.)
2. Use a tension rod to create hanging space under a sink
3. Thread a tab from a soda can over a hanger and hang another garment from it to double your closet’s hanging space. (I LOVED this tip!)
4. A tag from a loaf of bread can be used to wrap around and label electrical cords.
5. Use extra glass vases to corral multiples of items.

I thought this was a great segment. Kudos to Rachael Ray for being brave enough to have Peter Walsh organize her kitchen for all the world to see!

*Author’s Note: I love watching de-cluttering segments on daytime television–I pick up great organizing and product ideas all the time. But, what I’d like you to know is that de-cluttering a room takes hours–sometimes days and sometimes weeks. It looks quick on TV but what you don’t see is a multi-person crew working arduously to get the job done in a certain amount of time. When it’s just you, or you and a friend, or even you and a Professional Organizer the process takes a LONG time.

 If you are de-cluttering an area of your home, don’t despair that it’s taking a while to emerge as a clutter-free space. Make good decisions, have trash bags at the ready and look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Here are a few tips to make sure your organizing efforts are taking you in the right direction.

Top Ten Helper Shelf ‘Hot Spots’ for Your Home

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A while back, I wrote an article for my website about my favorite organizing products. Years have passed but my favorites have not changed. One of those favorite organizing products is the Helper Shelf.

What is a ‘helper shelf?’

A helper shelf divides the horizontal space of a shelf, offering more storage space above and below itself. They come in many different widths and heights—some are even width-adjustable. Looking for one to match your decor? You’ll find most are made of chrome, plastic, metal or wood. Helper shelves can be found in the same aisle as other kitchen organizing products and purchased at home stores like Target or in specialty stores such as The Container Store. They can be used anywhere you need to double a shelf space.

I recently counted how many helper shelves I was using in my home–about 15! And I have a few in my basement that are waiting to be used when the need arises.

Do you have places in your home that could use a helper shelf? If so, get ready to get organized. Here are my top ten helper shelf ‘hot-spots’ for your home:

1. Linen closet – Besides sheets and towels, linen closets often house medicine, health and beauty supplies, lightbulbs and other small items. This is a picture of the shelf in my linen closet where I keep health items for my two kids. Notice–lots of little packages. A perfect spot for a helper shelf!

2. Medicine cabinet – If there’s a spot in our homes with small bottles and boxes, it’s a medicine cabinet. Most standard-sized helper shelves don’t fit in a medicine cabinet but while shopping at the Christmas Tree Shop a few months ago, I came across one that was made especially to fit in medicine cabinets. I bought it for a whopping $1.99. Turns out I didn’t need a helper shelf in my medicine cabinet so I now use it on my…

3. Kitchen counter – I have a small kitchen and need certain items handy. Thought the ‘medicine cabinet’ helper shelf would work well to organize items near my stovetop. This is a picture of the small helper shelf in action–shorter items below and taller items on top. It’s been working very well for me!

4. Kitchen cabinet – This is where many people use helper shelves. My kitchen does not have much cabinet space so I had to maximize the space as best I could.

Between these two cabinets, I have five helper shelves. They came in extra handy when I had kids and had to make room for their kiddie plates, bowls and cups.

5. Freezer – I have one of those older refrigerators with the freezer on top. I use a helper shelf to double the space that might otherwise be a pileup of bagels, frozen veggies and leftovers. Small items such as the ice cube trays fit well under the shelf while flat items stack well on top.

6. Pantry – Sometimes we can adjust our pantry shelves and sometimes we can’t. If you have tall pantry shelves that can’t be adjusted, a helper shelf will create more space. Double the space means double the room for food storage! Here, small food items such as jello and pudding boxes fit well underneath and larger boxes stack equally as well on top.

7. Playroom – Kids have big toys and small toys and as a parent, I know that not all shelves accommodate all sizes of toys. Place a helper shelf on a tall shelf to store puzzles or board games on top and create a home for small toys like cars or a basket of Beanie Babies underneath.

8. Home Office – Use a helper shelf in a closet or storage piece to neatly stack and store office supplies. This will make it much easier to find and retrieve the supplies you need.

9. Laundry room – Like the playroom, a laundry room also has large items and small items that both need an organized home. Purchase a heavy-duty helper shelf for detergent storage and place small items such as dryer sheets and a receptacle for lonely socks below.

10. Over/Under Kitchen Sink – I had one of these when I lived in an apartment years ago. It was a great way to make more room for me in my already tiny kitchen. I put my sponge underneath the shelf and kept dishwashing soap and a few decorative items on top.

What are YOUR helper shelf ‘hot spots?’

Clearing Clutter Increases Success

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In 2007, Jack Canfield of ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ fame was the Keynote Speaker at the 2007 National Association of Professional Organizers Conference in Minneapolis. Since then, I have subscribed to his newsletter–this article came through my inbox back in April and I thought it would be perfect to post on my blog. Thanks for your words of wisdom, Mr. Canfield!

Clearing Clutter Increases Success

Our physical spaces are filled with dozens of minor distractions and irritants, such as stacks of unread books, scuff marks on the wall, and closets filled with unused items. For most people, these things are like gnats – annoying, but generally insignificant and easily ignored.

Rarely do we recognize them for what they really are – potent threats to our productivity, energy, concentration and peace of mind.

For those of us committed to achieving greater success in our lives, a cluttered physical environment produces three negative consequences:

1.    You feel drained. If there are things to do everywhere you look, your mind constantly keeps thinking “I need to fix that.” Eventually, you to feel drained, anxious, irritable, and overwhelmed. To cope, we have to put blinders on and overlook the distractions.

2.    Problems spiral out of control. We often overlook irritations for the short-term gain of being able to continue with our daily routine. The danger, however, is that some problems with grow worse with lack of attention. The chip in the windshield that could have been fixed in 30 minutes grows to a crack that requires replacement of the entire windshield.
3.    You miss important clues and ideas. It’s impossible to selectively numb out your awareness, ignoring only the minor distractions in your physical space while paying close attention to everything else. This is perhaps the biggest danger for success-minded people. Our most powerful insights often manifest in gut feelings, fleeting thoughts and subtle cues. Numbing out to our cluttered physical environments makes us oblivious to these clues, as well.

Physical Space Impacts Mental Space

Seemingly small irritations and distractions also have a dramatic impact on our mental state. It’s common for people who feel overwhelmed by their physical clutter to go into a state of resignation. When you have a sense that you can’t control the little things – such as quickly finding a stapler when you need it – then it becomes easy to tell yourself that there’s no way you can have the other, bigger things that you want, such as a better car, bigger house, prestigious job, or loving relationship.

The good news is that the same concept works in reverse. When you do recognize that you can control little things, such as the squeak every time you open your front door, you recognize that you can control the bigger things in life, too. Taking action to manage irritations, distractions and clutter builds your confidence in your ability to achieve success, regardless of form.

3 Ways to Deal with Clutter

There are three ways to change any environment: add something to it, take something out of it, or modify it in some form.

Go through your environment and figure out what is irritating and distracting you. Ask yourself how it needs to be fixed. Then think about who you might be able to delegate all or part of the task to. One reason that to-do items accumulate is that we feel like we have to do all of the work ourselves. One of the key strategies for getting more done is to master the art of delegation.

To help you move forward with this process, I’ve posted an “Irritations & Tolerations” worksheet on my blog. Use this tool to identify and create an action plan for handling your irritations and tolerations.

Next, scan your environment to identify elements that need to be removed completely, as well as items that can be brought in to increase the energy in your space. For example, you might find that removing the television or computer from your bedroom makes your sleeping space more relaxing and peaceful. On the other hand, you might find that adding a conference table to your office gives you an inviting place for creative work, while adding plants makes you feel calmer and connected to nature.

Spotting “Good” Clutter

Remember that all clutter is not bad. For many people, clutter is part of their creative process.

When in the midst of creation – such as writing an article, developing a presentation, mapping out a business strategy or creating a product – they pull out resources like books, clippings, articles and notepads. More artistic types might fill their work spaces with tools of their particular trade.

The litmus test to use in determining whether your clutter needs attention is how you feel. If you feel inspired, the clutter is serving you and contributing to your creative expression. If you feel contracted, drained, anxious or stressed, the clutter needs to be tamed.

Environments control us, but it’s important to recognize that as human beings, we are one of the few animals that can control their environments. 

Jack Canfield, America’s #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you’re ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com

Cool Product – Random Crap Tin Cigar Box

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Organizers are always talking about containers–clear containers, odd-shaped containers, heavy-duty containers. For instance, I always recommend Rubbermaid containers to my client–they’re tough and I’ve found that the lids always snap well to the bottoms. I have my preferences for shoe, paper, and food storage, too.

But what about the sentimental items in our lives? Ticket stubs, “Make Love, Not War’ buttons, a mix tape from your teenage years and the like need a place to live. The container doesn’t have to be fancy–it just has to keep your beloved items safe and all together in one spot.

Have you ever checked out the website, SpoonSisters.com? They offer unique items at different price points–at least half of them will make you chuckle when you see them.

I was looking for a cute baby gift when I stumbled upon this item. I thought it would be perfect for people who are decluttering but wish to keep some sentimental items. And yes, when I saw it, it made me chuckle. The title says it best…

Random Crap Tin Cigar Box $15.95



It measures 7 1/4″ long x 5 1/2″ deep x 3 1/2″ high. Here’s a view of the inside:



It’s cute. It’s kitchy. And I thought it was pretty cool. Those three adjectives make this Random Crap Box a winner in my book!

What container are you currently using to hold sentimental items?

What area of YOUR life needs organizing?

Contact Stacey to Get Started!

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