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Author: Naomi CookHome Organizing Organizing Products Project Management Storage

Containing Your Creativity

Mosaic DresserDo you enjoy spending an afternoon crafting (otherwise lovingly known to me and my friends as a Crafternoon)?
Do your materials and supplies seem to multiply like Gremlins?
Do you buy more supplies because you can’t find the ones that you already have?
Do you dread clean up time because you don’t know where to put things? Or do you avoid it all together?

The good news is that as an artist, no matter what medium you work with or how messy you can get, you have a natural love of color. Using this to your advantage is one way of helping you to set up an organized system that will work for you, and one that you will also end up loving. Continue on and see how you can teach your creative brain to love order.

Using Color to Organize

For artists who work with mosaics (my craft of choice!), jewelry, fabric and yarn, this is a great method for organizing. Artists are visual beings and the tendency is to want to see everything in front of you. Organizing by color helps to curb the need to dump everything onto your work surface, by just choosing what color you need at the time and knowing the rest of the colors are just a quick glance away.

Using Categories to Organize

For artists who paint and draw, this may be the best method for you. All colors need to be exposed to you when you work, but you can organize by medium. Acrylics, oils, charcoal, colored pencils and pastels should be kept separate. By keeping this organizational system, you can easily keep track of what’s running low. More good news is that by taking care of your materials in this way (which can be expensive, right?) you can prolong their life and avoid having to buy replacements for colors that have gone missing. Imagine being in a creative zone, only to find that you are missing what you need. Ugh!

So now that we have discussed the different ways to organize, it’s time to find storage options that will work best for you. You can think outside of the box, and you don’t need to go for the expensive predictable storage options at craft stores like Michaels. As both an organizer and an artist, my passion lies in helping people get organized and finding creative storage solutions on the cheap.

If you work with a lot of different colors and categories, a smart solution is a good old fashioned clear plastic bin. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, yet offer the uniformity that makes for building a visually pleasing and calming organizational space. Found almost anywhere, and less expensive when bought in bulk, these beauties let you appreciate and enjoy what you have. If you are using color to organize, then let the color be the label for you. If you are using categories, create fun labels by painting ‘Acrylic Paints’ in acrylic, ‘Pastels’ in pastel, and so on, and then laminate them with an easy laminating kit that you can do at home.

Want to know how I organize my mosaics? Yes, I store some in clear plastic bins, but I also store some in a mosaic tiled dresser that I made! Yes, that’s it in the picture!

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Author: Annette ReymanDigital Apps Document Management Electronic Organizing General Organizing Products Productivity Shopping

Afraid of the “Web?” Don’t Be!

Spiderweb

Trying to know everything about the Internet is as impossible as reading every book ever written. Like the spooky spider webs (real and synthetic) that accent our autumn décor, the fingers of the world-wide-web stretch and reach into sometimes unexpected corners of our lives. Schools, grocery stores, medical offices, places of employment and social groups – it is hard to find areas of life that are not touched. Yet, while technology races to manage our world, how well are we managing technology?

No matter where you find yourself in this digital age — ahead of the curve, just keeping up, or lagging behind — step away from the shivers you feel about getting caught in the web. Here are suggestions of some free tools and applications that I, myself, have found useful. They have helped me create order and ease in different areas of my daily life.

When You Shop: If you keep your cell phone with you, use it to store your shopping lists. Simply take a picture of your refrigerator grocery list before leaving the house or have a family member text you a picture of it when you’re at the grocery store. Create your list in an “app” such as Remember The Milk. And toss all those plastic loyalty and club cards. Use an app called Key Ring and they will always be with you when you need them.

Appointment Management: Phone calendars are wonderful for helping keep track of appointments and deadlines. They even offer the ability to set alarms. Go a step further and set up a shared calendar for your family in Google so you can know who needs to be where and when.

Travel Help: Have you ever been traveling and needed to find a gas station, restaurant or restroom? Don’t want to end up in a less than desirable location? Use the Yelp app to find something local and reviewed by others. Want to catch a movie on the fly? Try the Flixster app to find what’s playing now in your current location.

Files at Your Fingertips: Whether used for business or not, this can be more handy than you might think. Try creating a medical file in Evernote or Dropbox with snapshots of test results, medications and procedures. Bring an iPad or tablet to your doctor appointments and pull them up so your doctors can scroll through them easily. Similarly agendas, contact lists, and meeting notes for your association or social club meetings can be saved online. Even if you prefer bringing printed copies, storing them in Google Drive is a great backup plan. If you get into a bind and are caught without the printouts, you can log in to your Google account and access the notes on your phone or tablet without having to stop home.

I challenge you to choose one new techno-solution this month and see if it can help you streamline an aspect of your life. Don’t wriggle helplessly in a web constructed by someone else. Use technology to create your own web of control and order. Replace your fear of the Internet by spinning a web of your own design.

Author: Kathy LuskusCloset Clothing Organizing Products Shopping Wardrobe Management

“NO WIRE HANGERS EVER!”

Most of us remember this line from the movie “Mommy Dearest” along with the cruelty that accompanied it.

Most Professional Organizers cringe at the sight of a closet packed full of clothes and each piece on a wire hanger, twisting up, over and back. No wonder people say they have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear! You won’t wear what you don’t see. Most of us select clothes that reflect our personal style and if we’re appointing that task to our clothes, we need to respect them.

Proper care of your clothes will result in:
• longer wear
• neater appearance
• protection of your clothing investment
• easier outfit selection since you can clearly see what you have

The market is flush with many styles of hangers and it’s up to your priorities and budget to select what’s appropriate for your wardrobe. Here are some guidelines:


Plaid Padded HangerPadded hangers – Padded hangers are great for shirts, dresses, blouses, and of course, robes. Padded hangers with clips are a great choice for hanging outfits.  Amazon.com

Wooden HangerWooden hangers – If you can afford them, wooden hangers are the best choice for men’s and women’s suits.  The thick curved design provides support in your suits’ shoulders.  Some are made of cedar and protect precious fabrics and help maintain the shape of tailored pieces. It’s actually your most economic hanger purchase since they last for years and will most likely outlast your next 3 cars! HangerStore.com

Flocked Velvet HangerFlock/Velvet hangers – These hangers work best for delicate tops, camisoles, and pashminas. Although they come in many colors, black is best, and can always be matched when you need to purchase more.   ContainerStore.com

Quality hangers are also available for belts and neckties. If space is tight, hang these on the back wall of your closet behind the clothing.

Below are some budget-wise choices:

Clear acrylic hangers — These hangers are the ones most likely seen in department stores. They’re inexpensive, available everywhere, sturdy, moisture-proof, don’t take up too much visual space. They can be used in the laundry room for hanging items right out of the dryer.

Plastic tubular hangers — These hangers last forever and are inexpensive. Also, they can be used in the laundry room for hanging drip dry items. Purchase the thicker versions which hold up better.

Suit hangers — These hangers can accommodate pants/slacks folded underneath the jacket skirt/pant hangers with clips at the waist avoid that mid-length crease.

Space-saving hangers — Typically hold 10 garments vertically and then fold down horizontally to save space. Tradeoffs are wrinkled clothes and hidden garments; remember — if you can’t see it, you won’t wear it. Use them for long term/out of season storage.

Speaking of out-of-season storage, it’s best to use canvas garment bags. Plastic garment bags trap moisture and the chemicals used in the dry cleaning process. Be sure to add some cedar chips or blocks before closing the bag(s). Another option is Cedar Fresh sachets which are cedar and lavender combined in one sachet on a string you can hang on a hanger. The fragrance is pleasant and not overwhelmingly strong.

Hopefully, these suggestions have inspired you to ‘take stock’ of your closet situation, and if need be, make the necessary changes. Remember, you can always ask a professional organizer for help.

Author: Carla ShipmanGeneral Home Organizing Organizing Products Small Spaces Storage

Love Those Drawer Organizers

You know we always hear “Everything has its Place.”  It really does. Take a cluttered junk drawer filled with all kinds of mess. Often there are keys, batteries, receipts, tools, money, pens, gift cards, coupons, pencils, candy, stamps, unpaid bills, medicine, and restaurant menus having a conversation. You get the point. This happens when there is no designated area or system for these items. When we search for something and can’t find it, it affects our behavior and emotions. Stress icon showing negative impact Yes, unfortunately here comes the yelling at the kids or running late for work because we can’t find the keys.

That is why drawer organizers are a great, efficient, and simple way to transform your space so everything has a proper spot. The goal is to find items when we need them. Imagine grabbing your keys and walking out the door on time for work. What a great feeling.

Here’s how to get started (once you’ve taken measurements and purchased your drawer organizers).

• Empty the cluttered drawer.

• Sort like items together — decide what you’ll keep and discard the rest.

• Take a look…no more clutter. Now grab those keys and go to work.
Happy organizing!

before during and after drawer organizing project

(Images of Organized Drawer owned by Carla Shipman aka Ms. DeClutter)

Author: Yasmin GoodmanGeneral Medical Organizing Organizing Products Procrastination

Did you Hear? Diets Don’t Work. What does? Adherence!

A woman weighs in on a scaleAs I was driving the other day listening to NPR, I heard a provocative story suggesting that researchers should stop spending millions of dollars comparing the content of all the various diets programs on the market today. Instead, they should focus their studies on how to effectively change behaviors associated with weight gain. As a Professional Organizer, this piqued my interest.

Featured on the NPR program “Here And Now,” was Carey Goldberg, health reporter for WBUR in Boston, commenting on a recent paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Analyzing different well-known diet programs, the report concluded that the various diet programs — on average — are equally well suited for losing weight. Therefore, one could pick and choose any one of the diet programs that looks appealing to them and get pretty much the same result.

If the report concludes that it doesn’t matter what diet program you choose for losing weight, then why are these programs ineffective for so many participants over time? Why is it so common that dieters gain back the weight they lost soon after they stop dieting? The key is “adherence” – sticking to healthier eating habits over time. Instead of continuing to spend millions looking at and worrying about the specific content of the diet programs on the market, this report suggests that we need to understand the context of the individual dieter, and therein lies the key to adherence. We need to shift the focus from simply counting calories and carbs, and look toward behavioral change and how to make those changes last – forever.

Behavioral scientists studying the effects of dieting over time look at factors such as why people crave different foods and how environmental factors, such as family traditions, affect their dietary preferences. They found that the one common factor that undermined the best of intentions around dieting and healthier eating habits is stress. The NPR story stated that, “researchers often hear dieters say that they want to lose weight, but life gets in the way.” The root problem is woven in the feelings experienced, when “life gets in the way” and that is a behavioral issue – not a nutritional one.

Just like the dieting industry, the organizing industry has zillions of products to choose from, and still people feel overwhelmed and stressed. For many, the products don’t deliver on their promises of freedom and ease over time. Before clients call us, many of them have been on a number of “organizing diets” and have not reached or maintained their organizing goals over time.  Sleek new organizing products and best intentions are easily de-railed when “life gets in the way.”

As Professional Organizers, we know what makes the biggest difference to someone staying organized over time. It isn’t simply which storage bin we use but rather, that the person develops the habit to actually use the bin over time. All the different storage bins, calendar systems, time management tips, electronic gadgets, apps, etc., do not ensure that one will achieve a state of organization that lasts. They are only the tools we use to create an environment that supports an organized life-style. The actual change towards living an organized life comes from within the individual. Effective behavioral change resets our personal compass, and points us toward our goals and aspirations. “Adherence” to these behavioral changes, ensures us it will last forever!

So the point of this story is…If you want to lose weight, don’t stress about which diet program to choose. Choose the one that appeals to you since they all, on average, work about the same. If you want to keep the weight you lose off for years to come, work with a behavioral specialist to create your unique practices of adherence that promote healthier eating habits. And, if you want to decrease the stress of “life gets in the way,” create an environment that supports your new healthier habits over time — then call one of us. Professional Organizers love supporting behavioral changes that last forever.
http://commonhealth.wbur.org/about/carey-goldberg

Author: Annette ReymanClutter General Home Organizing Organizing Products Storage

A Tisket, A Tasket: Where to Use a Basket

Now that the winter holidays are over, we may find ourselves with a few extra baskets on hand – baskets that arrived holding fresh fruit or bath products.

Baskets, while making a lovely presentation containers, often have awkward shapes and can be challenging to store.  Sometimes donating them seems preferable to losing storage space to their clumsy designs.  And then again, how can we let them go when there may be a use for them…someday?

Before letting your frustration take over, here are a few suggestions of places around your home that can benefit from the strategic placement of some of these vexing vessels:

  1. Small baskets can be in a craft room for notions.
  2. Or on a table near an entryway to catch keys and loose change.
  3. In a desk area, small baskets can also be handy for items such as flash drives, an extra mouse or cord and small sticky note pads.
  4. They can also be used near your purse as a temporary holding area for receipts.
  5. Medium sized baskets can be used as a fruit or bread basket, or lined with a napkin and used for snacks like popcorn or chips.
  6. Depending on the shape, medium baskets are also good for storing light bulbs or batteries in the top of a closet.
  7. Large baskets are wonderful in bathrooms – they can hold some rolled guest towels or extra toilet paper.
  8. By an entryway, large baskets are a welcoming sight when filled with slippers to change into.
  9. A large basket is perfect for holding pet toys and makes clean-up quick and easy!
  10. In bedrooms, large baskets can serve next to the bed for a book and some magazines and maybe a tube of hand lotion.

So, if you’re ready to cram your baskets into cupboards or send them on their way out the door, take a look around your home and ask yourself if there area any areas that could benefit from some clever containment.

A lovely new basket might be just the solution!