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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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Organizing MY Home: Where Do I Put it NOW?

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As you may have read in my past three blog posts, last year I was a little busy with a home addition/renovation project. I knew it would be a challenging and rewarding process–and it was! But, there was one thing I didn’t realize would need to happen after we had moved back in…

I was going to have to find new ‘homes’ for almost everything we owned.

Although I don’t formally ‘move’ clients as part of Organized Artistry’s list of services, on occasion, I have helped a client  unpack their belongings into a new home. Within that process, I have assisted clients in finding new ‘homes’ for their kitchenware, linens and anything else that needed a home. With all the work that went into making our new house safe and beautiful, it never dawned upon me that I was going to have to figure out new ‘homes’ for everything we owned. Our house barely looked the same after the renovation/addition. Much of our old furniture was gone. We had a brand new kitchen with ample cabinets and pull-out drawers (squee!)–new closets, vanities, and storage options, too.

A Professional Organizer re-creates homes for everything she owns I organizedartistry.com

One of the storage pieces we created–four drawers to hold BBQ and entertaining pieces.

Yup. I’m a Professional Organizer and ‘finding new homes for everything we owned’ had not made it to my To-Do list.

We had lived in our pre-renovation house with mostly the same furniture and storage systems for fourteen years. For fourteen years the tape measure, the check book, and most of what we owned had ‘lived’ in the same place. I always knew where to find things when I needed them. Now, after almost six months in our house, it’s more like…

“Honey, where’s the (fill-in-the-blank)?

or

“Honey, do you remember where we decided to put the (fill-in-the-blank)?

or, once in a while it’s more like…

“WHERE IS THAT (fill-in-the-blank)? I COULD SWEAR I PUT IT IN (that drawer, that closet, that room)!

I’ll be honest–this has been pretty frustrating for me as a person and for someone who finds ‘good homes’ for people’s belongings for a living! It has left me discombobulated and a little freaked-out when I can’t find something.

Like I tell my clients, nothing happens overnight and I have to remind myself of that, too. A task this large needed to be broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks. The joke is, “How do you eat an elephant?” and the answer is, “one bite at a time…” It’s an ongoing process. I broke it down into three parts: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary (like on the color wheel). Here’s how I’ve been breaking down the task to meet this challenge head on…

Primary: What Did I Do First? 

• On move-in day, I set up a bin in my new kitchen–large enough to accommodate papers. Any important papers that I needed to not misplace and have in front of my eyeballs went in there (ex. forms from school, our packing list, a wedding invitation, etc.)

• I thought of what rooms/hotspots HAD to be organized for us to function as a family in the days and weeks post move-in. Those turned out to be the kitchen/panrty, the kid’s homework/supply station, basic bedroom, bathroom, and home office set ups, current season clothing and sporting equipment (for my two boys).

• The tape measure and checkbook found semi-permanent homes!

Secondary: Three Months later–a few examples… 

• I have been slowly determining where items should now ‘live’ based on our new habits and the flow of the house.

• Important papers used to hang on my fridge and I kept some in a magazine holder on my kitchen counter. Now I keep them in plastic sleeves in a binder that lives in one of my kitchen cabinets. It’s now a ‘home’ for papers I need to look at regularly (schedules for recycling, school, sports, phone lists, etc.)

 pre-renovation magnet-covered refrigerator

This is what our old fridge used to look like! We had a ton of fridge magnets–my kids loved them!

• My kids needed a place to put their most popular games/puzzles/books on the first floor of our home. Certain kid games/puzzles/books now live in a dresser that is being used as an entrainment console until we get a new one. Other games/puzzles/books live in the basement and kid bedrooms.

Tertiary: Tasks left on the to-do list… 

• Holiday, BBQ/Entertaining items, Art Supplies are still in boxes. If I need them, I know where the boxes are and what’s inside of each since my packing list perpetually lives in the bin described above. Still haven’t figured out where everything will live–especially since we’re still in need of some furniture that will serve as storage pieces for the items in these boxes. Find the turkey platter, fondue pot, and glitter glue? No problem. Where to store it for the next few years? I’ll have to get back to you on that one…

• When the movers brought some of our boxes up to the attic, they were put up there in random spots. Once the weather gets cooler, hubby and I can organize them better–especially the bins of seasonal kid clothes. Those can be a beast!

• I am still slowly determining where items should now ‘live’ based on our new habits and the flow of the house. I think we’re going to have to live in the space for a year–four seasons–to know where everything should live.

I’m taking it slow and if you’re in a similar situation–you should, too. Find a fork and eat that elephant–one bite at a time!

What have you had to recently find a new home for in YOUR house?

 

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Organizing MY Home: Don’t Move Without this Packing System!

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If you’ve been following my recent Organizing MY Home series, you know that I moved twice in one year due to an addition/renovation project.  Part of what made such an upheaval bearable and organized were a few key moving tips I created for myself and a packing list system that helped us find anything we needed while we were living in our rental space.

Organizing MY Home: Don't Move Without this Packing System! Tips for finding what you need when it's all in boxes I organizedartistry.com #packingsystem

This wasn’t your typical move from one home to another. We were packing up our entire house, moving it to a rental property but not opening all our boxes and setting up to stay. Our plan was to only open boxes of items we truly needed and keep most of the rest sealed until we returned to our renovated home.

As a Professional Organizer, I have offered clients packing ideas but never for a double move. I also hadn’t packed up and moved myself for many years so I took to the internet and did some research on line on how best to pack an entire home. I came across a few posts, mostly from military wives who had lots of practice packing and relocating their households and gleaned some ideas from their experience. I quickly learned that writing the contents on the outside of the box is a magnet for unscrupulous movers. And what if we stacked the boxes so we couldn’t see what was written on the outside? I needed some other ideas. I then came across this post from DesignMom. I didn’t follow exactly what she did –but it (as well as the post comments) gave me some good ideas that I adapted to our particular situation.

Based on ideas I read in the above post, I chose to create a numbering system that would enable my husband and I to track and quickly locate of all our belongings during both moves. My husband created the cover sheet and tracking sheets of the packing list and left a few lines blank for anything we needed to add.

 

Organizing MY Home: Don't Move Without this Packing System! Tips for finding what you need when it's all in boxes I organizedartistry.com #packingsystem

My ‘vintage’ NAPO-NY clipboard and trusty black marker.

Each room in our home received a number series. As we packed items from each room, we wrote down the contents of the box on the line next to the box number. We also jotted down where the contents/box would be in our rental and where it would go once it came back to our renovated home. An example is below:

Organized Artistry Blog Post: Organizing MY Home: Don't Move Without this Packing System!

A sample page from our packing list.

Here’s the breakdown of the columns on the page:

• Top of the page: Room Name (also written at the bottom of page–not shown in photo)

• Column 1: Box number

• Column 2: Where box is going in rental home (a room vs. the garage for storage)

• Column 3: What room the box will go to when it comes back to our renovated home (our address was originally next to the word ‘Location’)

• Column 4: Contents of the box

In the above photo, the ‘Green Room’ (the walls had been green for many years) at this point only had one box. This was because my home office was relocated there after our second child was born and the contents of the room would eventually be spread to three different spaces after we moved back in. Lucky for us, our rental space was a split level very similar to ours so you see in column 2 that we figured the box would either live in the garage or be unpacked into the rental home’s equivalent of our ‘Green Room.’ In box 701 (column 1), was framed family pictures (column 4) (they ended up in the garage) that eventually would live in my home office and my husband’s home office (column 3).

Depending upon the room and it’s contents, some of the pages looked fairly empty. Then there are rooms such as the kitchen that practically filled two pages! (Yes–we did purge before packing.) Notice–the top part of the page dealt with the move to the rental property while the bottom part (and the next page, too) dealt with the move back to our home. We unpacked much of our kitchen stuff and then had to repack it for the move home. Example:

Organized Artistry Blog Post: Organizing MY Home: Don't Move Without this Packing System!

Lots more to pack in the kitchen!

 

You might be thinking, “This sounds like A LOT of work!’ Yes, it was a lot of work! But, when it comes to time management, I advise my clients that spending more time at the beginning of a project will save you time at the end of it. Take the time to write the contents of each box on your list. You’ll be happy you did when you’re looking for an item you need!

This system isn’t just for double moves. You can delete a column or add an extra one for your unique moving situation. My husband and I found this system to be incredibly helpful in keeping us organized and knowing where to find all that we owned.

A few tips for using this packing system:

• If you are keeping some numbered boxes in storage for a while, group the boxes by ‘like’ numbers (all 200’s together, all 500’s together, etc). It will make finding the box you need much less time consuming!

• Write the box numbers on the top and at least two sides of the box–the more sides the better–a good task for kids old enough to write!

• Use a thick dark colored marker for writing the numbers on the boxes. Buy a box of them–they will run out of ink quickly from numbering all of those sides!

•  When you are finished packing, back it up! Make a photocopy of the Master List and put it somewhere safe and take pictures of each page with your phone.

• Designate one spot to keep your Master List in so you’ll always know where to return it to and where to find it the next time you want to pack/unpack more boxes.

We’ve been living in our renovated home almost six months and some of our boxes are not yet unpacked. I still refer to the Master List when I’m looking for something and it sits in the same spot I designated for it the day we moved back in. As helpful as this system was, my husband and I agree–we’re not moving again for a LONG time!

Could this system be helpful to you in a move? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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Organizing MY Home: Moving Tips

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I haven’t moved much in my lifetime. I went away to college and moved some of my stuff with me. As a single gal, I moved in and out of a one bedroom apartment, then moved those belongings to a house when I got married. After that, no moving for fourteen years.

So, when my husband and I decided to renovate and add on to our home, we chose to move our family and 98% of what we owned to a rental across town for the duration of the project. Once our house was finished we would pack up again and move back in. Two moves in one year. Gulp. I was a little out of practice. But, I knew that if we were organized, we’d get the job done with barely a few mishaps.

Here are some tips that helped us have an organized move (twice!):

Start purging early

If you have been in one place for a while, you have probably accumulated some ‘stuff.’ For some of you, you might have A LOT of ‘stuff.’ Advice that I learned early on and continue to pass on to my clients is, “Don’t pay to move anything you don’t want moved in the first place.” With that quote in mind, I created the ‘two-can’ rule. Every weekend, we purged an area of our home and made sure to fill our two garbage cans before trash collection day. Making decisions can take a while–my recommendation is to start purging as soon as you know you’ll be moving.

Delegate

It takes a village to pack up a home and move so line up your villagers and let them know how they can help! Some examples of how they can help you are:

-Get your kids involved. Have them crumple up newspaper. Have them bring empty boxes to different rooms. Ask them to purge and pack their own belongings. It is a good exercise in decision-making and takes some tasks off your already-full plate.

kids helping with a move

-Ask friends and relatives to bring you their old newspapers, help you pack boxes, hold onto valuables, babysit your kids–whatever you need to ensure a smooth packing and moving experience.

-Get it delivered. The internet can be part of your village, too. Run out of packing tape? Order it. Need more boxes quick? Look on Craigslist to see if any of your neighbors are getting rid of boxes and stuffing. Need to research moving companies? Google! And have dinner delivered, too…

NAPO. Yes–there are Professional Organizers who specialize in packing and moving people. Head to the NAPO website to find someone in your area and let a professional be part of your village.

Organize your packing supplies

If you can, start the packing process as far in advance as you can. You’d be surprised how long it takes to pack an entire home! While you’re purging, this would be a great time to start collecting packing supplies such as:

-boxes from the liquor store or from a boxed product other than food
-a minimum of one tape gun per person doing the packing
-packing tape
-newspaper and store circulars
-thick black markers/Sharpies
-bubble wrap/packaging from packages you’ve received
-scissors/box cutter
-plastic wrap/plastic baggies of varying sizes
-paper/pen/labels

Keep all of your packing supplies in one spot. Use a bucket/caddy large enough to hold your tape gun, scissors, 2-3 black markers, labels, etc. A bucket/caddy is easy to transport from room to room and easy to spot amidst a room full of boxes. Place supplies back in the bucket when you’ve finished a box-packing session so you’ll know where they are the next time you want to fill a box.

Create an organized packing system

We had to keep track of over 100 boxes. Some of those boxes we unpacked in our rental home and some stayed packed for nine months in our garage. In order to find what we needed during those nine months, I had to create a packing system that would allow us to easily locate clothes and other belongings for Summer, Fall and Winter. Keep an eye out for my next post–you’ll see the Master Packing List my husband and I created to keep us organized through two moves.

By the way, some things just don’t fit easily in a box. Here’s how I moved our close-to-full olive oil dispenser–who knew my driver’s side cup holder could be the perfect spot to nestle it for the short ride across town?

Organizing MY Home: Moving Tips. Get yourself a whole lotta packing tape! I organizedartistry.com #movingtips

Thanks to some organization, our amazing ‘villagers,’ and a highly competent moving company, we survived our two moves!

Organizing MY Home: Moving Tips. Get yourself a whole lotta packing tape! I organizedartistry.com #movingtips

Montvale Movers moved us twice!

Next post: The packing system that got me through two moves in a year…

 

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Organizing MY Home: Renovation and Addition

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Think about an organizing project that would challenge a veteran Professional Organizer–what would it be? A room filled with loose papers? A fashionista’s exploding closet?  An overstuffed garage?

How about a renovation/addition project? Her own homes’ renovation/addition project!

For about eight years my husband and I kept going back and forth trying to decide–move or renovate/add on to our home.  We kept lists on paper and eventually in Evernote as to what we wanted/needed and didn’t want/need in a future home. Our house was ‘whispering’ to us–sending us ‘SOS’ signals. Slowly, appliances began to die, cracks appeared in the walls, plumbing started to malfunction. We were busting out of our closets, kitchen, and living space. It was time to make a decision.

 

Organizing MY Home--Renovation/Addition. Must read! Organizing steps you'll want to take before starting such a huge project... I organized artistry.com #homerenovationaddition

This was our house before the renovation/addition project began.

 

After much deliberation, we decided to stay at our current address and renovate/add on to our home. I knew this was not going to be a quick and easy project. I also knew this would take and enormous amount of energy, thought, coordination, and organization. This project was so all encompassing that during this time I had to take a few things ‘off my plate’ such as blogging. This is my first blog post in over a year–I’m writing it happily from my new home office!

Here are some of the organizing steps we took for this project to flow smoothly…

Purging of our entire home

Based on our contractors’ recommendation and the fact that we have a child with food allergies and need a full kitchen to cook for him, we decided to rent a house across town during the construction process. That meant we had to take everything with us. Eve-ry-thing.

After meeting with our contractor and architect, we started the purging process. Each weekend before our move-out date, my husband and I would tackle a room together and purge it of what we didn’t want to come back into our new home (we purged during the week, too). I created ‘The Two Can Rule.’ Our garbage pick up day was Tuesday so every Sunday, we had to fill a minimum of the two garbage cans from our purging session. We also created bags for donations and gave things away to family, friends, and schools.

Creating an organized packing system

The last time I had packed to move, it was the contents of my one-bedroom apartment when I got married. Now, I was packing a three-bedroom house with a filled attic and basement. This double move required a multi-tiered packing and tracking system. Half of our boxes were stored in the garage of our temporary rental home and the rest were unpacked for daily use. Then, before moving back in to our new home, we had to purge (again!) and pack up to then finally unpack (again!). More on my packing system in a future post.  If you or someone you know is moving in the future–keep your eye out for it. You’re going to want to know about the system I used. It was a success!

Creating a ‘home’ for all project-related paperwork and correspondence

This renovation/addition project churned out an inordinate amount of paperwork–even for a Professional Organizer to keep on top of. Keeping track of receipts, returns, contracts, finances, bills for two homes, design choices and all other related papers was overwhelming. I created a binder for all papers and created folders in my inbox for emails from our contractor, subcontractors, designer and others. (True PO Confession: The project plus our everyday life became so overwhelming, I just started putting all papers in one box so I would know where to find them if I needed them. Last month, I created a portable hanging file box for all renovation/addition papers and they’re stored in my closet.)

Creating a ‘home’ for all design-related items

I quickly found that I needed a space for things I would need handy for the design part of this project. I stored a recycle bag in my car filled with paint and tile samples, fabric swatches, a tape measure, scissors, and a roll of blue tape. It was always there when I needed it–at a store, at the construction site, in my car. If I had a dollar for every time I used that bag, I’d be a rich lady!

And all of this doesn’t happen with out an amazing team that was organized in their own areas of expertise…

Contractor/Architect

Rich Palmacchio of RTJ Construction and Joseph Donato, Architect

Designer

Deborah Glazer of DRG Design Group

Mover

Montvale Moving

Plus subcontractors, friends, relatives, salespeople, and everyone else who kept us focused, informed, and sane. A big organizing shout-out goes to my hubby who became a purging, packing (unpacking) and organizing LEGEND during this project.

 

Organizing MY Home--Renovation/Addition. Must read! Organizing steps you'll want to take before starting such a huge project... I organized artistry.com #homerenovationaddition

This is our house after the renovation/addition project was complete.

 

They say it takes a village to raise a child? It also takes a village–an organized village–to raise a house!

 

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Cool Product: OXO POP Containers

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Last summer, I went on a field trip to The Container Store with my colleagues from NAPO-NNJ. As you can imagine, the bunch of us that attended had a blast! We saw a few demos, learned about some new products, and had a chance to roam freely through the store. While I was roaming, I happened upon these: OXO Good Grips POP Containers

Cool Product: OXO POP Containers. So easy to open and close--I don't know who likes to use them more--me or my kids! I organizedartistry.com #OXOPOP

They were so cool! You’re probably thinking that I bought out the store…but I controlled myself and didn’t. Even though they were ‘cool,’ they were a bit pricey. I left The Container Store without them in my hand but those POP containers lingered in my brain and heart…

Here are a few reasons why I thought these were a ‘Cool Product.’
• Their square/rectangular shapes fit well side-by-side on shelves
• They stack!
• Easy open/easy close
• Aesthetically pleasing

Fast forward a few weeks. I was shopping in TJ Maxx and found a shelf in the Housewares Department filled with OXO POP Containers! And, in TJ Maxx fashion, they cost less than the ones in The Container Store–jackpot! I brought these two babies home with me, gave them a good washing, and put them to work in my pantry closet.

Cool Product: OXO POP Containers. So easy to open and close--I don't know who likes to use them more--me or my kids! I organizedartistry.com #OXOPOP
Here’s how they open and close… This is the lid when closed. That big button gets pressed to open the container. Press down and…

Cool Product: OXO POP Containers. So easy to open and close--I don't know who likes to use them more--me or my kids! I organizedartistry.com #OXOPOP
It opens!

Cool Product: OXO POP Containers. So easy to open and close--I don't know who likes to use them more--me or my kids! I organizedartistry.com #OXOPOP

When that big push-button is in the ‘up’ position, the lid is loosened and can be lifted. The push-button also acts as a handle! I thought that was pretty cool, too.
Cool Product: OXO POP Containers. So easy to open and close--I don't know who likes to use them more--me or my kids! I organizedartistry.com #OXOPOP

Push the big button down again to create an airtight seal with the pressure of a few fingertips.

Right now, I’m using the two large POP Containers for storing pretzels and Tostitos Scoops. I also bought two tall, slim containers that are holding Twizzlers and small cookies. I purchased one smaller POP Container and it fits an entire package of Fig Newtons perfectly. It’s so easy for my kids to operate them. They are able to get their own snacks and nine times out of ten, the lid goes on and nothing goes stale. That’s pretty good odds for a 4 and 8 year old…

If you’d like to try one out for yourself, check your local TJ Maxx store. I have seen one or two floating around Home Goods but I haven’t seen any in Marshall’s. Want to spring for a 10-piece set? They are sold at The Container Store, Amazon and other home stores. If you have a 20% off coupon, consider purchasing them at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Try one–I think you’ll get hooked on OXO POP!

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Confessions of an Email Hoarding Professional Organizer

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Hi. My name is Stacey and I am a reforming email hoarder.

Did I mention I was also a Professional Organizer?

That’s OK–laugh if you want to. I laugh every time I tell someone this story.

How did I get to be an email hoarder?

All it takes is being a very busy woman with lots of interests and one email address for both business and personal emails. Throw in two young kids, not enough time in one’s day, and being a visual person and the emails began to accumulate.

“I’ll look back at them later.” I said.

“If I put them in a folder, I’ll forget about them.” I figured.

“I’ll chip away at them little by little.” I promised myself.

Yes, I looked back at a bunch and yes, I did chip away at some but the emails were coming in faster than I could take action upon them.

By February, I had a thousand emails in my Inbox. Yes, you read that right–1000–one thousand. That’s A LOT of emails…

Organized Artistry is getting a facelift this year–a new logo and a newly-designed website and blog. My web designer mentioned that I needed to change the hosting company of my website due to compatibility issues so I did the domain transfer. The last step was to have my email flow from my old host to my new host.

So last week, I got on the phone with my new host to help me take that last step. What the person on the other end didn’t ask me was whether or not I had any emails in my Inbox. When the email was transferred to the new host’s server, it wiped my Inbox clean. As you can imagine, I almost had a heart attack. After lacing into him for this oversight I asked how it could be fixed. He told me I had to call my old hosting service for some coding and some numbers and then I had to call my new host back with that information.

I wasn’t happy, but I did it. I called my old web host and explained the problem. We accessed my inbox through ‘webmail’ and yes, all the emails were still there. He put me on hold for a few minutes so he could figure out the best solution.

While on hold with the tech guy, I had an organizing revelation–an ‘a ha’ moment. Did I really want all 1000 emails in my Inbox? The answer was ‘No.’ If I were helping a client, I would have guided them to make the same choice. It would be like moving to a new home and taking everything with you even though you didn’t need it. I felt the time had come–this would be a good opportunity to ‘de-clutter’ my Inbox. A colossal purge.

To quote the song from Frozen, “Let it go…”

Although it took me a long time and the process still isn’t complete, I sorted through all 1000 emails and forwarded one-quarter of them to an alternate email account. Over the next few days, I’ll be forwarding them to my stacey@organizedartistry.com account and either filing them in a folder or taking action upon them. I purged old newsletters and correspondence. I’ll now be filing emails I had once lost track of. From now on, I’m going to do better by incorporating one of the most important steps in getting organized–maintenance.

Although Professional Organizers are fairly organized, we sometimes experience similar situations to our clients. It’s the old saying, “The shoemaker’s son has no shoes.” Sometimes we can’t keep up, either. And that’s OK. We’re human and so are you. Please take a moment to look through your Inbox. Delete a few emails. Create folders for others and remember–even Professional Organizers need to get organized!

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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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