04 Jan 2018

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2018! A fresh start. I’m sure like me many of you are setting goals and making a list of things you want to accomplish in the new year. I long ago gave up on making New Year’s Resolutions – I found doing so is an exercise in futility and nothing more than setting myself up for failure. Rather than wait until the start of a new year to make life or lifestyle changing decisions, I chose to set a series of goals and objectives for myself throughout the year. I’m learning to celebrate the individual successes and build on them to push me forward.

Every year at this time you can almost guarantee there will be people who say they are going to work out more, get organized and stick to a budget. No sooner than the last gift is open the ads are already appearing online and on the TV proclaiming that it’s not too late to get everything you wanted for Christmas. There are ads highlighting healthier eating. And, all the big box retailers put every bin of every size on sale.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – buying a bunch of bins and organizers isn’t going to instantly get you organized. There is a lot of work that goes into it – and stuffing it all in pretty containers isn’t going to magically solve that closet that you’re afraid to open.

My advice for the new year is to think about putting together a road map and a plan first and going from there. Start small – maybe it’s just one drawer or closet. When you start have a vision for what you want to accomplish. Are you simply wanting to clean up the space? Are you looking to give a room a new look and purpose? Are you wanting to integrate something new into an existing space? There is no correct answer. What you need to do is establish a clear expectation of what it is you want. If you don’t know where you are heading then how are you going to get there?

My advice to you as this new year gets started is to keep things simple, set goals that are measurable and achievable. Enlist the help and support of others and most importantly, if you really are stuck on where and how to begin – ask for help!

Here’s to a fantastic 2018 for us all!

30 Dec 2017

The Right Way to Pack Up The Holiday’s

Another holiday is behind us – the New Year is knocking at the door. I know people that take down their decorations the day after Christmas (that’s a whole other topic for me – Christmas lover that I am.) The majority of people will take them down on New Year’s Day – or within that first week of January. Whenever you chose to pack up the holiday’s, it’s an excellent time to make preparations now so that when you go to get the bins down from the attic or out of the basement next year things will be easier.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to put out a client’s decorations and spend a good portion of my time (time that I’m being paid for) to sort through bins full of items that are just haphazardly filled. I spend hours untangling lights and ornaments, changing burned out bulbs and all that fun stuff before I can even begin to decorate.

Putting things away in a neat and orderly fashion not only protects your gems it makes getting them out much less stressful.

Here are tips and tricks that I use when stowing away my Christmas trinkets (and remember I have five trees – so I have a lot of them!)

  • Banish the cardboard boxes – rather than a ragtag collection of boxes invest in some nice storage bins – many retailers put them on sale starting the day after Christmas. They are more durable than boxes and you can get them in uniform sizes.
  • Discard anything broken
  • If you don’t want it anymore donate it or give it to a friend or family member
  • Wind your lights – you can use pieces of cardboard, wooden paint sticks, or a storage bin made for lights. I typically wind them neatly around my hand and then connect the ends together.
  • Replace as many burnt out bulbs as you can when you take the lights off the tree or mantle. (spending a few minutes doing it now means you won’t have to do it when you go to put them up next year!)
  • Try to put things in bins as neatly and compactly as possible. I wrap a lot of my items in tissue or plain newsprint.
  • Be mindful of where you store your decorations. Best not to place items that are sensitive to warm or cold temperatures in bins if you store them in the garage.
  • To the extent I can I discard as much extraneous packaging as I can – unless of course it is an item of value or a collectors item that having the original package adds to its value!
  • Make a list of items that you know you will need next season when you bring the bins out – having this list is helpful if there are items you will be looking for in the off season – either at tag sales, thrift stores, antique stores, etc.
  • Take photographs of everything before you disassemble – I find this useful for when I’m particularly happy with how a display or arrangement looked and want to duplicate it the next year.

I do hope you find these tips helpful and that they not only help you put away your holiday items more efficiently – but that they save you unnecessary stress next season!

20 Dec 2017

Happy Holidays!

Okay, first of all my apologies for the lack of posts these last few weeks. It’s a busy time of year and the first thing I do when things get busy is set priorities. The Christmas holiday season is by far my most favorite time of the year. If you were to see my house right now you would understand! I’m not content to have one tree, or two. This year the house has five (yes five!) I told you it’s my favorite time of year.

Now I could speak to you about how you should keep things simple so as not to overwhelm yourself – but that wouldn’t be fair of me to do. (Besides, I’ll still be decorating when I’m 80 – may take me from Halloween to Thanksgiving to do it, but I love it so much!

What is important is to remember to celebrate the season as you move through it. Look at the shopping, baking and decorating as individual components – enjoy them. The Christmas holiday isn’t supposed to be about just one day – don’t stress yourself out and put huge expectations on that day. Take time to enjoy the traditions and most importantly your friends and family who are included along the way.

Use this time to reflect on all that you have achieved in the last year and what you want to strive for in the new year as you look to set new goals.

From our house to your’s, have a safe and joyful holiday – however you celebrate and with whoever you celebrate it with!

14 Nov 2017

Good Organization is a Habit!

I’ll let you in on a little secret…getting organized is more than just sorting things, putting them in fancy bins with labels and making everything neat and tidy…at the heart of getting organized is creating processes, systems and most importantly HABITS that improve the way you do things.

When I meet with a new client, the first things we go over are what they want to achieve – it usually is more than just cleaning out a closet or organizing a desk – they want to do something that impacts their lives and makes a noticeable difference. The reason I spend the first 30 to 60 minutes just talking with a client is I want to understand what motivates them and what will be most meaningful. Just as important as having a plan is knowing what that plan will accomplish and how it can influence how one gets to the achieved goal.

When I put together a system for a client I want to create something practical that makes sense to them. I also want it to be something they can easily do. In most cases getting organized and staying organized means replacing ineffective or inefficient methods with ones that are effective and efficient. It means teaching new ways of doing things. Think for a moment about what it is like when you are learning a new routine or process – it’s not until you’ve done it several times that it starts to become a learned behavior. If you have been doing something a certain way for a lengthy period of time, altering or replacing that behavior can be a challenge. It may take a couple of tries before it becomes easy to do or to remember to do. Eventually you form a new habit and the task almost happens without thinking.

Keep this in mind as you get yourself organized. Remember that it may take a few tries to get the hang of a new routine. Be kind to yourself and also don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to adopt too many new processes or behaviors all at once. Work incrementally – get one thing mastered before you jump into something new. The more you plan so that you don’t overwhelm yourself the greater your chances for success!

I was recently doing a revisit with a client that I had helped organize their home office. It had been about a year and she wanted me to come help her again – she was feeling as if things had deteriorated to chaos and they wanted a reboot. Things weren’t nearly as bad as they thought they were. In this instance my client hates to file paperwork. Most of what we dealt with were piles that had cropped up on the desk that had grown to the point of being out of control. I explained to my client that rather than avoiding something because it was their least favorite thing to do they needed to get in the HABIT of dealing with the filing in smaller pieces – don’t let the pile grow so big, when they have 20 or 30 minutes tackle a segment of the problem. If you get in the habit or routine of doing something it makes it that much easier to make sure it happens!

06 Nov 2017

Quick Tips to Keeping Your Desk Organized

I’ve heard it all – “I know exactly where it is!” or “I’m a creative type, mess is part of the process.”

I’m not suggesting that a little disorder once in a while is out of the question, but if your desk is in a constant state of chaos it is costing you time – your most valuable asset – and it likely is weighing on you emotionally (I know I repeat this often, but the emotional cost of disorganization is a proven fact!)

You’ve finally committed to getting your desk organized and making a better effort at keeping it organized – so what tips and tricks can help? What are quick and easy fixes that will yield noticeable results? Here are a few of my favorites:

1.) Purge the paper!

The first thing I do with any client is have them purge the excess paper. Grab one of those out of control piles and go through it. Discard junk mail. Open all bills and letters. DISCARD envelopes and extraneous pieces of paper that are in the envelope. The bill or letter goes into a file to be dealt with after the sorting and purging are completed. Chances are you will eliminate at least 1/3 to half of the paper that was in the pile and you haven’t taken any action.

2.) Keep a notebook.

Have you ever seen the computer monitor on someone’s desk framed in sticky notes? Not only is this messy it’s inefficient. What do you do when you run out of space for new notes? Sticky notes don’t stay sticky forever – have you ever lost one and panicked? A similar occurrence is the stack of little pieces of paper piled up – tell me how you really enjoy going through those when you are in a hurry looking for a specific piece of information.

The solution is a spiral bound notebook – take this to meetings, have it handy for taking notes while on the phone. If you are a list person create your daily “To Do” list in this notebook. I typically put the date at the top and what the notes are from or regarding. As you complete things on your list you can cross them out or check them off. Because they are in your notebook you can refer back to them as you create new lists. If you are like me at the end of the week I often review lists, compile new ones and discard the old ones – the whole concept here is that all of those things you were righting on sticky notes and pieces of scratch paper are now contained in one neat little notebook! Of course the challenge now is to get in the habit of using the notebook and not losing it. You may find as you get used to using a notebook that you may graduate to a spiral bound notebook with subject dividers so you can categorize notes – making it even easier to find things. One recommendation is that before you start a new notebook – look at what needs to be transferred to it so that you can discard the used notebook. After all, you don’t want years worth of them piling up somewhere!

3.) File things regularly.

I have a tray on my desk that things I’m done with, but need to keep are placed. Usually once a week (every other week if I get crazy busy.) I file the items in that tray. Depending on your volume of paper, you may have to adjust your filing intervals – but the trick is collect it all neatly in one place and deal with it – if your inbox is overflowing you aren’t paying enough attention to the task.

4.) Purge your files annually.

This one goes hand-in-hand with the recommendation to “file things regularly.” Every January I open up my file drawer in my home office desk and go through each file. Most things like credit cards, utilities, etc. send you monthly statements (unless you’ve gone paperless.) There is no reason to keep years worth of these types of statements. I go through the file and keep the most current year of statements and discard everything else. This is how I keep my files organized and contained in one file drawer of my desk. If you have concerns how long to keep certain types of documents there are lots of resources online. If you purge your files annually they won’t grow into an overwhelming wave of paper that paralyzes you!

5.) Have a drawer that is simply for pens, paper clips, and all those miscellaneous office items.

I have a mug on my desk with my favorite pens, a letter opener, a highlighter and a pair of scissors. Everything else is in the top drawer neatly organized. I have a separate drawer that I keep notepads, envelopes and similar items. I also have a drawer with paper for the printer, ink cartridges, etc. I’m not saying these drawers need to be pristine, but know what is in them and put like items together. You’ll get in the habit of always keeping certain things in certain places so you will always know where to find.

6.) A shredder or a shred box is a must!

Either have a secure box for collecting documents to be shredded or have a small shredder in your office – in today’s crazy mixed up world you can never be too cautious!

Hopefully this short list of the basics will help you keep some organization and stem the tide of chaos in your world!

30 Oct 2017

The Secrets of Organization!

I’ll admit it – growing up with a mom who was very organized, and myself being what my friends often referred to as a “neat freak” I kind of took it for granted that everyone is as organized as I am. As a professional organizer my goal is to coach my clients to become better organizers. What I do isn’t rocket science – and truth be known while I do have my tips and tricks, there really isn’t a “secret formula”. To be better organized has nothing to do with natural ability – it’s about discipline and commitment.

Most of my clients admit that they have finally sought professional organizing help because they are too overwhelmed to tackle what they thought they could do themselves.

People who opt not to work with a professional often set out with the best of intentions. They dive into a project after seeing an idea on Facebook, in the latest magazine or on Pinterest (I’ve saved hundreds of ideas on Pinterest- and have executed very few. They head to the store seeking the latest and greatest gadget or gizmo to help them be better organized (most often having no idea of their needs or what the product is really suited to accomplish. They arrive home, ready to take on the challenge, only to have it quickly deteriorate into an overwhelming situation which leaves them once again discouraged.

If this sounds familiar here are some quick tips I’ve gleaned from other organizing pros!

Have a vision before you begin!

I can’t stress this point enough (which is why I often mention it in my blogs.) You won’t know where you are going if you don’t have a plan. If you don’t have a vision of what you want to accomplish how will you identify the steps to get you there? Set achievable goals. Be realistic.

Create your vision first, then organize. Visioning is a bit like planning. It’s when you take the time to think things through before you begin doing the work.

Plan what you want the space to be before you start. If you aren’t sure what your vision is then spend some time thinking of the space and ask yourself questions that will help solidify your vision.


For example, let’s look at organizing a closet. Here are the type of questions you would use to help you create that vision:

  • How do I want to use this space in my closet?
  • Will I store just this season’s clothes here, or just those that fit me currently? Or will I use half for clothing and half for memorabilia storage?
  • How’s the lighting?
  • Do I need a step stool to reach the shelves?
  • Do I want to keep my hamper in the closet or move it to the bathroom?

Once you have answered these questions (and I encourage you to take the time to write these questions and answers down as you will see the beginnings of your vision.) It’s not like you are writing a novel – so it doesn’t have to be complicated. After you have done this several times you will have it mastered and my find yourself applying this skill to other things in your life. Once you have your vision and have written it down, the next step is one of those “secrets” of the professionals – Share it with someone and ask them to help!

Human behavior studies show that when two people (rather than one) are working on a project it gets done faster — not just because of the extra pair of hands, but because of the synergy between the two people. You’ve heard the expression the sum is greater than the individual parts – this is exactly what happens. Having a helper is a catalyst for motivation.


Don’t get caught up in the gadgets and gizmos

Professional organizers know that getting organized doesn’t necessarily mean having custom shelves built to clear the over-cluttered corners. Nine times out of ten my clients have everything they need to be organized – it’s just that they lack a vision. I’m not saying you won’t benefit by having some fancy closet organizer built and perhaps having something stylish and nice will help motivate you – but before you go spend hundreds of dollars unnecessarily look for practical solutions first. It’s not necessary to answer the organizing dilemma with an expensive or time-consuming project.

Keep it simple

It’s called the “subtraction method.” You’ve heard of dividing your stuff into keep, sell, and giveaway bins or piles, but when the clutter seems overwhelming, I start with an easier approach – the this goes somewhere else or doesn’t belong here bin.

With your intention set toward subtracting items from a particular room, starting in one spot simply work your way through the room removing the items that you recognize as not belonging. Doing this as a first step really helps reduce clutter and make things seem less overwhelming. This is the point at which I often encourage clients to break things down into a series of smaller tasks that can be completed in 30 minutes or less. It’s a great way to begin organizing a specific area. You can set aside the box and return those items to the areas they belong once you’ve completed your primary tasks.

A place for everything…

I’m sure everyone has heard this expression and it’s VERY true in successful organization. It also makes it easier for you to establish routines or processes that help you maintain the order once you’ve created it! This is where the discipline, commitment and CONSISTENCY come into play.

Getting organized isn’t just about cleaning, sorting and labeling. The biggest takeaway here is that it’s about creating habits and routines that support you. If one of your biggest challenges maintaining order in a busy household is everything seems to land everywhere establish a system that will place them in the proper locations instead. Kids leave coats, shoes, toys, homework everywhere – there is no sense of order. How much time is wasted when an item is misplaced or can’t be found. The solution is simple – create homes for items and enforce routines. In my household when myself or my significant other arrive home we have a drop zone that we place things – from there the items are moved to where they belong. Things aren’t just randomly placed and dropped. Every member of your household should have his or her own drop zone. This is the technique I use for people who commonly misplace items (such as car keys.) The idea is to get them in the habit of putting their keys in the same place, so they are easily located when needed. Having drop zones keeps clutter from migrating all over the house. Give it a try! You’ll be surprised how easy it is! You can apply this tactic at home, work, your car, your briefcase, etc.

Distractions need to be eliminated

It’s a proven fact that multi-tasking is a myth – human beings aren’t designed to multi task – those who think they are expert multitaskers are only kidding themselves. Disorganization and the chaos it brings thrive on distractions. My role as a professional organizer is to help my clients stay focused. Clients typically tell me that having a professional help provides accountability and helps them to move forward. If you can learn to eliminate or ignore distractions, you are well on your way to making your organizing projects a much more enjoyable experience. Here are some basics to consider:

  • Ignore interruptions. Put your cell phone on silent or leave it in the other room. Ignore the dings and rings that alert you to text or voicemail messages. If necessary, close a door, alert staff you aren’t taking calls or won’t be checking email for a few hours.
  • Avoid diversions. This is a biggie – as you start sorting and discarding you are going to come across items that trigger memories, don’t get stuck on memory lane. Remind yourself what your purpose is and stick with it!
  • Discipline, Discipline, Discipline establish routines and stick with them.