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Author: Sherry CastaldiGeneral Home Organizing

10 Closet Organizing Tips

Looking for a calmer more relaxed start to the day? Consider starting your day by selecting your clothing and accessories from an Organized Closet.  Here are 10 Closet Organizing Tips to get you started.

1.    Use identical style hangers; wooden, clear plastic or tubular to give your closet consistency.

2.    Return metal hangers back to the dry cleaners as they leave indentations in your clothing and are not as sturdy as other style hangers.

3.    Purge, Purge, Purge.  If it doesn’t fit, is out of style, you never liked it, have no use for it, know you will never wear it – Donate It! This includes clothes, shoes, purses, and accessories.

4.    Do not hang your sweaters.   Neatly fold and store either in drawers or on closet shelving or neatly in containers.

5.    Have baskets or bins available for laundry and dry cleaning to keep laundry off the floor.

6.    Use shoe shelving to keep shoes organized in pairs and off the floor.

7.    Store small accessory items in drawers or small containers on shelves.

8.    Hang belts, scarves and ties for easy viewing and access.

9.    Do not store unrelated items in closets, such as; kids games with your clothes, husband’s clothing in baby’s room, kitchenware in coat closet.  Keep coats in the coat closets. Baby clothes in the baby’s rooms. Games with games, etc.

10.    Always take the extra minute to put things where they belong, such as hanging up a coat or putting shoes in a closet.

Remember:  Organizing is an on-going process, just like laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc.

New items are always coming into your home and other items are losing their function or style. You must continuously take stock of your inventory to keep it organized.

With an organized system in place, maintaining an organized space is much easier and more time efficient!

Author: Ellen TozziClutter General Spiritual and Holistic

Using Visualization to Aid the De-cluttering Process

Finding the motivation to de-clutter one’s home and maintain “order in the house” can be challenging for clutter-bugs and busy people.  Some are motivated when they are tired of being embarrassed; others are moved to action by nagging spouses or the arrival of company.  Working away from what you don’t want can be inspiring but the effects are not always long lasting.

Working toward what you want produces greater inspiration and longer-lasting results.  How, exactly, do you work toward what you want?  Simply through visualizing what you want and noting how you feel.  Let’s try it out:

Get comfortable, relax and close your eyes.  Focus on your breathing for a moment.  Picture yourself walking into your home – not your house as it is now, but rather your IDEAL HOME.  What does the first room look like?  Is it clutter-free and redecorated?  Look in the closets, cabinets and drawers – what do they look like?  Notice how you feel when you’re in your ideal room.  Do you feel calm, peaceful and confident?  Take a mental snapshot of the room for future reference.  Continue to tour your home, one room at a time.  How does it look?  How do you feel?  Take mental snapshots as you go.

Now notice how you IDEALLY OPERATE in your de-cluttered home.  Do you clean up without effort, gliding through your home every morning and evening, putting items back to their assigned homes?  Perhaps someone else handles these chores in your ideal world.  Do you juggle your responsibilities with ease?  Are you aware of what needs to get done?  Do you prioritize with clarity, delegate with ease and float from one task to another while “in the zone”?  How do you feel as you easily manage your time and tasks?  Preserve this image in your mind’s eye.

Come back to earth!  If you’re like most people, you found the visualization to be calming and inspiring.  You know what you’d like your home to look like and you know how you’d like to be in it.  You now have a photo gallery of visualized rooms and a mental video tape of a way of behaving.

Use these visualization tools to inspire action and keep going.  If you’re sorting your clutter and start to feel overwhelmed, stop, go within and look at your mental photos to remember how calm and empowered you felt in a home that nurtures you instead of one that drains you.  Face your clutter again and ask yourself if it fits in with your vision of your IDEAL home.  If it doesn’t, let it go and enjoy the resulting lightness of being.

Author: Naomi CookGeneral Home Office

Setting up a Mobile Workstation Anywhere in your Home!

You may have an entire room designated as your home office, but what if you don’t?  No problem!  You can create an environment that is well organized wherever you prefer to do your work, and with products that are easy enough to stash away when you’re done!

Do you like to work spread out on your bed, or on the sofa in the living room?  Or do you prefer to sit at the kitchen table?  Here are some inexpensive products that may help you:

  • Decorative Photo Boxes – Great for storing small items of any sort, they can be stowed away easily in a tight space!  Find inexpensive ones, in a variety of colors and patterns to suit your style, at your local craft store!  You may even want to keep them out because they look so nice… which is a good idea because you don’t want to forget to pay your bills!  The boxes often have a label slot in the front for you to fill out so you can know what is stored in each box.

Box 1 – for all your workstation essentials like pens, pencils, sticky notes, scissors, a notepad, stapler and calculator.

Box 2 – for billing essentials like stamps, address labels, envelopes and your checkbook.

Box 3 – for stashing receipts.*

Box 4 – for incoming bills.

*Photo boxes often come with dividers – use them to separate receipts from different credit cards, ATM and deposit slips.

  • Lap Desk – If you like to be propped up on the bed or on the sofa, this works great as a flat surface for your computer or for writing out checks.
  • Folding Tray Table – Place it by your bed, sofa or living room chair for an extra surface.  Since it folds up, you can keep it flat when not in use, and you may be able to store it underneath your bed or sofa.
  • Plastic File Box with hanging folders – Use this to file away your bills after you’ve paid them.**
  • Small Paper Shredder – Use this to shred your bills after you’ve paid them.**

**This all depends on your preference.  If you are an online bill payer, then you can send your e-mail confirmations of your paid bills to a folder designated for each company.

Whatever you do, find a system that works for you and you could find yourself enjoying paying your bills each month…but probably not!

Author: Sue FrostFamily General

Looking for the perfect gift? How about memories for a lifetime?

To prove a theory for this article I asked my husband, “What was the greatest gift you have ever received?” His reply, “You, my dear.” He actually said that, but he’s British so it’s normal. I pushed further to prove that giving the gift of an experience, a shared memory, far outlasts any tangible possession. So, I asked, “What is your favorite childhood memory?” His response, “Going to the seaside with my family.” Exactly!

As an organizer I often work with families who struggle to organize and maintain all of their possessions. The number of their belongings conflicts with their desire for space. When I ask why, there is often a common thread in their responses. They tell me that family and friends are generous with gifts for them and for their children. The abundance is both a blessing and a curse.

We can sort all of the toys by categories, find bins to accommodate them, place them at accessible heights, and add labels (or pictures for pre-readers). However, as a Professional Organizer, it’s my job to help clients organize their belongings AND transfer skills to help them maintain order. So, I feel obligated to explain that the more you have the more you need to maintain. More stuff = more work.

My kind hearted clients are faced with two problems, 1) where to put all of the toys and gifts and 2) how to politely discourage more. In Annette Reyman’s (another NAPO-GPC Professional Organizer) July 11 blog, she told us that in the event of an emergency home evacuation, pictures rank second only to living things (people and pets) for items we want rescued. I agree but believe that it’s not the photos themselves we want to preserve. It’s the memories. So, how do we discourage abundant gift giving?

Ask your generous friends to plan a special day together. My brother, cousins, and I often reminisce about happy childhood memories. Our parents and grandparents were of modest means, but they kept us busy enough not to notice. Our outings included dozens of us meeting up at the beach, backyard parties, surprise visits, ice skating lessons, the Easter show at Radio City (their multi-million dollar renovations were likely a result of my younger brother’s stomach virus), and seeing the Nutcracker at Christmas just to name a few.

Never keep anything out of guilt. Every item in your home should be useful or something you love. Space is finite and excess can be more of a burden than a blessing. Be ruthless about what you let into your home. You’ll have to make room for it, dust it, polish it, store it, dry clean it, mend it, fold it, and then when you’re sick of it, you have to get rid of it.

Life is busy. Our schedules are hectic. Often the best gift we can give the people we love is our time.

If you’re really stumped about what to buy the person in your life who has everything, consider a session with a professional organizer. I’ve heard it said that it is our memories that mold us. Let a professional organizer help you create a home that’s a true reflection of you and your happiest moments. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Author: Vali HeistBack To School Family

Back-to-school on the Right Foot!

Back-to-school time is upon us. Organizing is critical for a smooth exit in the morning, to make sure homework gets done, and to achieve a tranquil household. Moreover, you are teaching your children how to organize their own lives when they enter the work force on their own. Let’s break it down:

Mornings and Evenings

  • For stress-free mornings and time for breakfast: pack lunches the night before, have papers signed, and backpacks packed.
  • Have a designated area for an easy exit (preferably where you actually go out the door) for backpacks (with homework and signed papers), coats, and after school activities stuff (clothing, sports equipment, and/or instruments).
  • Depending upon the age of the child, have clothing laid out so dressing is a cinch. Use the collapsible sweater shelves that hang from a rod in the closet and mark them with each day of the week (or just leave unlabeled). Kids can put an outfit, socks, underwear and even shoes in each slot so there’s no hunting for items in the morning. This could be done on a Sunday quickly and quietly and then each child is set for the week!
  • Have a family calendar in a central location and review the next day’s schedule. Use this area to post upcoming events.
  • Have homework areas designated according to the age of the child, the amount of supervision she needs, and your space restrictions. Typically the younger the child, the more supervision he or she needs. The kitchen is a good place for parents to keep watch over children and help with homework. Offices work if a child’s room has too many distractions in order to focus. Teenagers typically choose their bedrooms; some may or may not need a desk. You can always change the location if grades go up or down.

Child’s Room

  • Involve your child in organizing her room. Interview your child as a professional organizer would and ask her what she likes and dislikes about her room.
  • Integrate as many of her suggestions to increase the chance the arrangement will work. Allow experimentation with the layout even if the room may appear chaotic at times.
  • Divide the room into zones for different activities so everything has a ‘home’. Use furniture as room dividers instead of ‘lining the walls’ with furniture.
  • Go vertical wherever possible: hooks, single shelves, book shelves, pockets on the backs of doors and inside closets.
  • Use bed risers used by college students to boost the bed to store items underneath (use rolling bins).
  • The less time she has to spend opening a lid, using a hanger, or opening a drawer, the more chance it will stay that way.

Start Organizing Early

  • Unclutter after birthdays and holidays. It’s an easier time to let go of things.
  • There’s only so much room; if you buy something new, get rid of something old. Teach your child charitable giving.
  • Allow your children to sell their belongings at yard sales or on EBay.
  • Set a good example and organize your own spaces.

Clutter Quote: “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling your walk before it stops snowing.” Phyllis Diller

Author: Kathy LuskusClutter Family General Home Organizing

RECLAIMING SPACE AFTER CHILDREN LEAVE HOME

Even the most organized of us will get to a point after years in the same home where we find ourselves somewhat overwhelmed by the things we’ve collected. Raising children will attract items that represent memories that make us smile, and some that will send us screaming from the attic and basement. Now that you’ve saved all those art projects, sports trophies, posters and various collections of Beanie Babies, Polly Pocket paraphernalia, Matchbox cars, baseball cards, etc. over the years, it’s time to reclaim your space and do some purging. One word of caution here: Don’t purge the baseball cards. You’ll never live it down – believe me!

Funny thing about kids, even after they’ve gone to college or married and moved to another city, they still often feel like your home should serve as a storage locker for the items they no longer need and don’t want to sort through. As a result, 18 years multiplied by the number of children you’ve raised results in – well, you do the math on the clutter.

Sooner or later when you can no longer get into your attic or basement because it’s become a warehouse of memorabilia, it’s time to take control. You might want to use the space to create an office, craft room, exercise room or an organized storage room for other items that are sure to arrive at your doorstep in the coming years. At some point you’ll probably inherit your parents’ furniture and important files and begin to start saving all those photographs, art projects, and hand-made gifts from your grandchildren. Having gone through this transition, I have some things to share in the way of processing what to keep, purge and move along to someone else.

ALLOW TIME

Be sure to allow plenty of time to complete this project. After all, it took many years to amass these things, so it’s probably going to take more than an afternoon.

SERVE NOTICE

A good way to start is to alert your family that you are taking on this project and ask if there’s anything in the storage area that they would like you to pack up and send to them. They may have a short list of things they want you to hold onto for them. You’ll probably find that they can’t remember what’s in the attic and aren’t interested in most of what’s stored up there. If, however, they want to do the sorting and purging themselves, you can agree to use part of the room to be organized as a staging area where you’ll hold the items up to an agreed upon date.

GET HELP

This is not for the faint-hearted, so instead of trying to take this on yourself, ask a friend to work with you who is emotionally detached from your possessions. This is where it’s prudent to engage a professional organizer who is trained in what questions to ask so that you can make good decisions on what to keep and what to do with those things that need to be moved out.

PREPARING THE ATTACK

Before you start, gather some materials to help you work more efficiently.

  • trash bags – dark green for trash, so once something is placed in there you won’t need to see it again.
  • trash bags – white for donations, whether to friends and family members, or charities.
  • permanent black marker – for labeling the white donation bags.
  • boxes/bins – one for each of your family members for items they want to keep.
  • plenty of water and some snacks.

There’s some value in creating a place for items that you want to decide on later, but try to refrain from delaying decision and having to pick up the same item(s) multiple times.

THE PAYOFF

Completing a project like this will give you great satisfaction and probably inspire you to continue your organizing throughout your house. One additional benefit of this exercise is that it helps you to better identify what items are really of value and should be stored for posterity and what is probably not worth keeping as you move forward. That knowledge will help you to better maintain the area that just opened up for your craft room, or whatever purpose you decide for this reclaimed space.