Thursday, December 17, 2009

Odd-sized Kitchen Drawer? Organize Your Utensils

When I moved into my new home this spring, I had the usual batch of organizing questions. Where should everything go? As many people do, I began with the heart of the home: the kitchen.

I hit a snag right away, though. There were two options to house my day-to-day utensils. On one side of the kitchen, there was a drawer that was too small to hold an average-size utensil tray. On the other side, in a less convenient location, was a large drawer where the utensils would only fill half of the space and have to share with other items.

Luckily, I found a great product from The Container Store called "Custom Drawer Organizers." I was able to give away my old utensil tray, and custom-create three spaces just for forks, knives, and spoons. I also used it in the drawer below to separate whisks, spatulas, etc. It was a great solution.

If you plan to use this product to customize your kitchen drawers, here are some suggestions:

1. Measure twice, cut once.

2. Err on the side of "tightness," as the plastic connections give a little over time.

3. If you are uncomfortable scoring plastic (with an exacto knife) or breaking it apart by hand, ask a friend to help you. The process doesn't take a lot of strength, but it does take accuracy.

Overall, I'm happy with the versatility this product has given my kitchen drawers. While a little pricey, the solution was much cheaper than redesigning my kitchen drawers and much less irritating that having items in an inconvenient place.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ideas to Tackle the Tupperware

Try these products to tackle your overflowing Tupperware cabinet:

Rubbermaid Easy-find Lids


Smart Spin Containers

Spruce Up Your Kitchen

The holiday season can be a great time to take a second look at your kitchen cabinets. Before you start your holiday cooking, follow these simple steps to streamline your kitchen.

Check your expiration dates. Throw out expired items. Determine why you didn’t use the items, and decide if they need replacing. If a food item doesn’t have an expiration date, use a sharpie to mark a date several months out, and get rid of it then. Don’t risk eating spoiled food to save three dollars.

Do you need all this stuff? Take an honest look at what you actually use. Do you bake four pies every holiday? If you don’t, you don’t need the four pie pans you bought a decade ago with the best of intentions. Avoid the “just-in-case” excuse. Most seldomly-used items can be bought or borrowed in a pinch.

Tackle that Tupperware! If your plastic storage containers are overflowing, consider an overhaul. Try to have only three or four sizes of containers, all from the same brand.

Put items in their proper places. I know it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people are reaching and bending for utensils they use every day. Start by sorting items in piles for daily use, weekly use, and less often. Items used more often should be able to be accessed without squatting or grabbing the footstool. Items used less than once a month may be able to be stored in other rooms or storage areas. Consider putting great-grandma’s antique platter on a shelf or the mantle instead of taking up prime kitchen space.

Remember, there are a lot of people in need, especially this year. Your kitchen items could be just what a family needs to make their holidays special. Consider donating to worthy causes.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cashing In

Have you ever been a little strapped for cash? I know I have! Here are some easy ways to find cash and save money to get through the lean times.

1. Use your gift cards. Were you saving those Christmas and birthday gift cards for a rainy day? Use them now! Buy necessities, or use them to cover expenses of gifts for others. Or, trade them in for other gift cards at website like

2. Request the checks. It may be the perfect time to cash out your Paypal account, or to request the checks for your credit card’s dividend dollars and other money-back incentives. Also, follow up with your employer about business reimbursements, and call in those loans to friends.

3. Collect the change. Now is the time to cash in your change jar, and to look for loose change around the house. Don’t forget your car, couch, and coat pockets!

4. Contact your insurance company. Many insurance companies offer refunds for programs like health club memberships, smoking cessation, and maternity expenses. Research your insurance company’s programs online, and call them to see if you qualify.

5. Clean out your pantry. I’ve found that most people have enough food in their kitchens to feed a small army. If you’re short on cash, try using up all of the food you have in stock, buying only perishable items like milk and eggs. It’s a chance to assess the items you want to replace, as well as to be a creative chef!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Turn Your Clocks Back

Don't forget to turn your clocks back an hour before bed Saturday night (October 31) or first thing in the morning on Sunday (November 1)!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Purse Perfect

Here's another great purse organizing option: Purse Perfect.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Find Your Calendar

Looking for the "perfect" calendar? Here are some ideas.

Personal/portable calendars:

  • Taylor Calendar

  • At-a-Glance

  • Day-Timer

  • Franklin Covey

  • Artalendar

  • Family/wall calendars:

  • Pottery Barn's Daily System

  • BusyBodyBook® Fridge Grid Pad

  • Magnetic Dry-erase Wall Calendar

  • I’m FLYing Calendar

  • Choosing a Calendar

    This is the time of year when we start to think about next year’s calendar. If your calendar isn’t working or if you’re looking for a change next year, here are some ideas.

    1. Find what works for you. Fancy calendars and electronic organizers may seem impressive, but they may not fit your needs. If you’re having trouble finding a calendar, I suggest starting simply. Buy a pocket month-by-month paper calendar, and use a small notebook for your “to do” list and other lists. These small items fit easily in your purse or pockets. If you find you need more space on each date, try a week-by-week paper calendar. If that isn’t working for you either, try a customizable, three-ring binder calendar with inserts like the systems from Franklin-Covey or Day-Timer. If you are very techno-savvy, try a personal digital assistant (PDA) like a Blackberry or iPhone. They are great because you can sync the information and have an electronic back-up, but they can be annoying because it takes more time to find your information. Also, they can run out of power or break just when you need them. There are also online calendars like Google and Plaxo, but you have to be around a computer a lot to make them worthwhile.

    2. Don’t have too many calendars. You’ll want to get in the habit of looking at your calendar every morning. Looking at three or four calendars will become cumbersome and will throw a wrench into your system. Try to have one personal calendar (for your work and home lives) that you carry all the time. Then have a big family wall calendar, if you need one.

    3. “Garbage in, garbage out.” You may have heard this saying about accounting, databases, or software. It means that the system is only as good as the information you put into it, and it applies to calendars as well. If you want to get a handle on your schedule, commit to writing all of your appointments in it. Include the start time, end time, name of event, brief location, and phone number (in case you have to cancel).

    4. Give it a chance. A new system will take several weeks to get used to. I suggest giving a calendar at least two months. If you’re having problems, analyze why it’s not working, and consider buying a new calendar that fits your needs. There are hundreds of options out there, so I’m sure you’ll be able to find exactly what you need!

    Friday, September 25, 2009

    Computer and Hazardous Waste Recycling Event

    Delaware County will host an event to recycle computer equipment and household hazardous waste (HHW) on Thursday, October 8, from 9 am to 3 pm. The event will be held at the Rose Tree Park, 1521 N. Providence Road, Media, PA 19063.

    There are some limitations, so please visit their website for details.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Paper Shredding Event in Aston

    Aston Township in Delaware County will host a paper shredding event on Saturday, September 26, from 9 am to 11:30 am. It will be held in the parking lot of their community center on Concord Road (where the library is). Visit for details.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Hazardous Waste Recycling Event

    Delaware County will host a household hazardous waste (HHW) recycling event on Saturday, September 19, from 9 am to 3 pm. The event will be held at Covanta L.P.,
    2nd and Harwick Streets, Chester, PA.

    These are great events, so take some time to go through your basements and garages to get rid of that old paint and stuff! For details on this event and the rest of their 2009 schedule, click here.

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    A&E's Hoarders TV Show

    Professional Organizers have had mixed feelings about a new show called "Hoarders" on A&E. The show seems to have brought out the best and the worst in us!

    Each episode features two people with hoarding issues, and the Professional Organizers and psychologists who help them clean out their homes in a two-day time period.

    The good thing is that it may help some viewers realize that they are hoarding and encourage them to contact a professional.

    The bad thing is that very few projects with hoarding clients are completed in two days. Most hoarding clients need months or years to clean out and to overcome their challenges. The organizing team works in conjunction a therapist who requires the client to attend regular therapy sessions.

    I know it's hard for TV producers to spend a year following a person's journey, but I wish someone had the courage and patience to document the long-term advances a person struggling with hoarding can make. Maybe it would help potential hoarders catch their habits before their houses became unsafe.

    copyright Sara Long 2009

    Are You Prepared?

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has designated September as National Preparedness Month. What does this mean to you? It’s a great time to evaluate your readiness for emergencies and natural disasters.

    A good way to start is to make an emergency supply kit, which may include these items:
    • Water (one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation)
    • Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, and a can-opener if necessary)
    • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert (and extra batteries for both)
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • First aid kit that includes sterile gloves, sterile dressings, cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes, antibiotic ointment, burn ointment, adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes, eye wash solution, a thermometer, and your prescription medications and prescribed medical supplies
    • Whistle to signal for help
    • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
    • Moist towelettes/wipes and garbage bags
    • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
    • Local maps
    • Cell phone with chargers
    • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records
    • Cash or traveler's checks and change

    Visit for more information, such as additional items for children and pets, family emergency plans, emergency information services, and volunteer opportunities.

    copyright Sara Long 2009

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    Back in Business

    After giving birth to my first child in July, I'm ready to get back to work! The only thing that has changed is my schedule. Due to babysitters' availability, I'm only offering on-site organizing services on evenings and weekends at this point. I am still available to do "virtual assistance" work from home, though, such as filing, data entry, etc. So, give me a call!

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009

    Looking for Purse Solutions?

    Here are links to some purse options out there:

    The Purseket:


    Butler Bag:

    Ikea "Komplement" Boxes:
    (They're great to create sections in big purses, tote bags, and diaper bags.)

    copyright Sara Long 2009

    Clean out that Purse! (Or briefcase, or wallet...)

    Your purse is like your sidekick. And what superhero would want a sidekick that’s bogged down and messed up? Superheroes, it’s time to clean out your bags! (Men can also use these tips for wallet clean-up, especially tips one and four.)

    1. Take everything out of your purse and wallet. Separate items into these categories: A. things you use daily, B. things you use several times a week, C. things you use less than once a week, and D. things you hardly ever use. Be honest with yourself, and consider not carrying items in categories C and D. Your purse doesn’t have to look like a drug store. Unless you live in Antarctica, you’re probably going to be able to get something within a reasonable amount of time, either from a store or from another person.

    2. When shopping for organization items, don’t get stuck in the “accessories” section. If you can’t find what you need with the purses, wander over to the makeup, office supplies, electronics, or men’s sections of the store. Makeup bags make great catch-alls for small items, and they come in a variety of colors and sizes. Pencil cases, notebook pouches, and plastic envelopes are great for storage. You may find slimmer wallets and card-cases in men’s accessories, and camera and phone pouches may be just what you need to store gadgets or little whatnots.

    3. Be smart about switching from purse to purse. If you like to change purses to go with your outfit, try to keep your necessary items together. Pursebrite and Purseket offer easy-to-access pocket systems that can be moved between purses. Makeup bags may also be a good size, and plastic envelopes and notebook pouches are great to hold papers and coupons. Give your purse a break, though: if all of your items can’t fit into a smaller purse, go back to step two and re-evaluate.

    4. Schedule a time to clean out your purse. It would be great if you could find a few minutes each day to purge your purse. If not, scheduling twenty minutes a week to clean out your purse will save a lot of time and aggravation throughout the week. It always felt good to me to clean out my purse on Friday afternoon, to transition from the workweek to the weekend. Sunday night may feel good to you, or maybe before an important weekly meeting or activity.

    copyright Sara Long 2009

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Find a Shredding Event

    If you're looking for local paper shredding events, visit

    On the right-hand side, scroll down and click on "Mid-Atlantic." Then scroll down to find shredding events in PA, DE, and NJ.

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    A Great Book for "Creative Types"

    Another great organizing book is Organizing for the Creative Person (Crown) by Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Dolores Cotter Lamping. Alongside their insightful text, the authors add quizzes, exercises, cartoons, and illustrations, furthering the interactivity and visual learning style of their creative readers.

    One of the most useful tools is their 12-question quiz to determine if the reader is right-brained-dominant (R.B. or "Arbie") or left-brain-dominant (L.B. or "Elbie"). Nobel Prize winner Dr. Roger W. Sperry’s studies of the brain found that most people naturally depend more on one hemisphere of the brain than the other. The left hemisphere thinks in sequential order, handling logic, language, and time orientation. The right hemisphere deals with nonverbal, abstract, and holistic thoughts. Elbies may be predisposed towards linear thought and compartmentalizing, making them natural organizers, while Arbies may have trouble keeping organized.

    The book begins by asking the reader to identify his/her goals. After Arbies identify goals and roadblocks, it’s just a matter of coming up with systems and learning skills that work for them.

    copyright Sara Long 2009

    Summer Reading

    Clients and friends often ask me for suggestions on the best books to help get them organized. There are thousands out there! Here is a list of some helpful (and fun) books to add to your summer reading list.

    Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern (Holt Paperbacks)
    Professional Organizer Julie Morgenstern’s book is one of the most comprehensive organizing books you’ll ever read. She delves into clutter management dilemmas with wisdom and understanding. Then she takes you through space management systems room by room. This is a great first organizing book to read, especially if you are really ready to turn over a new leaf.

    Taming the Paper Tiger at Home by Barbara Hemphill (Kaplan Business)
    Hemphill is a renowned Professional Organizer who addresses common problems in paper management and gives you various organizing options depending on your style. Hemphill has even produced software to help you create file indexes and track paperwork. This book will revolutionize how you use your filing system. Also, to organize your work life, try Hemphill’s Taming the Paper Tiger at Work.

    Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern (Holt Paperbacks)
    Another great read by the great Morgenstern! This book takes you through solutions to the challenges of over-scheduling, procrastination, motivation, prioritizing, and more. For more time management solutions, read any of Harold Taylor’s books. He’s been an expert in the field for decades.

    Absolutely Organized: A Mom's Guide to a No-Stress Schedule and Clutter-Free Home by Debbie Lillard (North Light Books)
    Local Professional Organizer Debbie Lillard wrote a comprehensive and fun book about how to organize your family life. She offers time management and space management tips for parents of children of all ages.

    Organize Your Corpses by Mary Jane Maffini (Berkley)
    If you feel like some lighter “beach reading” this summer, pick up Maffini’s murder mystery. Join lead character Charlotte Adams as she stumbles upon crimes during her life as a Professional Organizer. Also try Maffini’s The Cluttered Corpse and Death Loves a Messy Desk.

    copyright Sara Long 2009

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    I Love My Sterilite Shelves

    I moved recently, and I was happy to finally have a space (albeit small) to house some storage shelving. This opened the new conundrum, though: what kind should I buy? I opted for Sterilite's plastic shelving with matching bins. I like this option because the system deters me (and my family) from shoving little things into edges and corners of the shelves. The boxes take up almost the whole shelf.

    I chose clear storage bins because I can find items more easily this way, and the location doesn't receive a lot of direct sunlight. (If you are setting up storage in a bright attic or spare room, choose Sterilite's opaque bins instead.)

    Also, I like how versatile the shelf heights are. As you may be able to see in the photo, I have extra shelves when I need to make one taller to fit more storage.

    You can buy all of the pieces of the system at They may seem a little pricey, but personally I'd rather pay $13 for a good bin than $10 for a lousy bin that will break, won't work in my space, or have to replace in a few years.

    A caveat: if you buy somewhere else, remember that not all Sterilite shelves and bins are the same. When buying shelves, look for ones 36" wide (as the bins are a little over 15" wide) so there is room for the shelf posts. When buying bins for these shelves, look for 25-quart and 50-quart.

    Happy organizing!

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    Even Carrie Bradshaw Backs Up

    The column on computer file management reminds me of a funny episode of Sex and the City when Carrie (Sara Jessica Parker) crashes her computer. She loses most of her writing, and wonders why no one ever told her about backing up before.

    Carrie to Miranda: "You know, no one talks about backing up. You've never used that expression with me before ever, but apparently everybody's secretly running home at night and backing up their work!"

    Organizing Your Computer

    We all struggle with managing all of the files on our computers. Email attachments and other files come flooding in, and it’s hard to determine where to store them. Many of us are working long hours these days, so an efficient machine is key to productivity. Here are some tips to keep your computer files in order.

    Avoid storing files on the desktop. Your desktop can get full, overwhelming and confusing very quickly. The desktop isn’t as secure as other areas of the computer, and it’s easy to forget to include the desktop when backing up files. Instead, store files in your “My Documents” folder. If necessary, create shortcuts to certain files on your desktop.

    Organize your “My Documents” folder. Make sure the folders have names that make sense to you. Try to name folders the same names as your paper file folders. If you have a paper file folder named “Taxes,” name your computer folder “Taxes.” Also, try to keep the sub-folder structures the same.

    Create a “Personal” folder on your office computer. If you use a company-owned computer for work, try not to store personal files on it. If you must, though, create a separate file folder named “Personal” (or something similar). Clear out this folder often. Also, if you leave the job, you can delete your “Personal” folder or copy it to a disk or external drive.

    Take time to name your files. When saving a new file or incoming attachment, take an extra few seconds to choose “Save as...” (instead of “Save”). Type a descriptive file name and save the file in the appropriate folder. This step will help you find your files more quickly. Although most computers have search functions that review all of the contents of documents, this content search takes the computer longer than completing the regular document title search.

    Schedule a monthly clean-up appointment. Just as you would do for any other organizing system, schedule time to maintain it. An hour a month to clean up your computer files should be sufficient. Name files that were left unnamed, and move documents into the appropriate folders. This is also a great time to archive and back up your files onto a CD-R, external drive, or online service. If you have large and/or old files that you can remove from your computer, it is a good idea to archive them. After archiving, you can back up the files that should stay on your computer but that would be difficult or impossible to replace. If your computer crashes, having a back-up is a life-saver!

    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    Regional Hazardous Waste Recycling Events

    The Delaware County Hazardous Waste department has added a list of regional household hazardous waste recycling events to their website. The next date is on May 23 in Philadelphia. Click here for more information:

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Nancy Giles Gets Organized

    Nancy Giles had a great segment on CBS Sunday Morning on May 17. Professional Organizers Fern Silvernagel and Julie Morgenstern help her organize her utility/spare closet. I can't seem to find the video or transcript online yet, and her "official website" is having problems, but I'll post it as soon as I can!

    Thursday, May 14, 2009

    Do You Like Quotes?

    There is a this great website with motivational quotations that may help you through your organizing projects.

    Simplicity Quotes:

    Motivational Quotes:


    Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    Going Green

    Getting organized is a very green process, as you "reduce" the clutter you have and new clutter you’ll buy, "reuse" items you had forgotten about, and "recycle" items you give to others or dispose of properly. While it seems like you may be throwing away a bunch of stuff, getting organized often convinces you to consume less and to concentrate on the items that are really important to you. If you are having trouble deciding how to dispose of items in an eco-friendly manner, here are some ideas.

    Limit Trash
    As you sort, have bins for recyclable materials such as paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum. (Remember to shred anything that has personal information on it.) One of the hardest things to do as you organize is to decide what to do with items that are broken but that cannot be recycled. Be honest with yourself about when and if you will repair these items, and set deadlines for the items you keep. The items you don’t keep can be disposed of at a hazardous waste event in your community.

    Reuse Organizing Supplies
    Repurpose boxes, baskets and bins from other places in your home for organizing projects in your office, closets, and kitchen. Not only does this reduce clutter, but it reduces how many new items you have to purchase.

    Recycle Clothing
    Recycle clothing by making old clothes into rags for cleaning or carwashes. Or, create a few "work clothes" outfits for gardening, car repair, etc. Remember to be realistic with yourself about how many rags and work clothes you really need to keep.

    Donate Items
    Donate any unwanted clothing to your local thrift shop, a clothing donation bin, or to programs such as "Operation Warm" or "Dress For Success." Books and magazines can go to libraries, thrift shops, community centers, retirement communities, churches, or prisons. Drop off old cell phones at libraries or government buildings to be refurbished and given to those in need. Donate old towels to veterinary offices and SPCAs who use them for the animals.

    Reduce New Purchases
    Completing organizing projects is a good way to assess how much clutter you have and to gain a new perspective on your purchasing practices. Use the pleasure you gain from your successful projects to resolve to buy fewer new items in the future. You’ll find that reducing your own consumerism will help the environment and add simplicity to your life.

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    Creative Bookshelves

    I found this great list of interesting bookshelves on theWebUrbanist blog. While these options may not be in all of our price ranges, the photos may encourage you to think of new ways to organize your book collection.

    Friday, April 10, 2009

    Hazardous Waste and Computer Recycling Event

    Delaware County will host a household hazardous waste (HHW) recycling event on Saturday, April 25, from 9 am to 3 pm. The event will be held at the Emergency Services Training Center at 1600 Calcon Hook Road, Sharon Hill, PA 19079.

    They're taking computer equipment at this one! There are some limitations, though. Click here for details.

    Thursday, April 9, 2009

    Article: How to Say Enough

    I read this great article in April's issue of "O Magazine." Written by Martha Beck, the article entitled "When and How to Say 'Enough!'" talks about the different between "just in time" and "just in case" inventory. Check it out:

    Friday, April 3, 2009

    "My Mother's Garden" Hoarding Documentary on NBC

    The documentary film, "My Mother's Garden" will air on NBC at 10 pm eastern time this Sunday, April 5.

    This film was created by Cynthia Lester, who tries to help her mother overcome living in an unhealthy environment full of hoarded items. If you've ever known anyone who hoards, or have seen TV shows of people's homes and said "there's no way they really live like that," watch this film. It gives insight into what causes hoarding and how far it can go.

    Here is more information about the film:

    Here is more information about hoarding and chronic disorganization:

    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    Spring Cleaning

    When this time of year rolls around, I always feel better when I finish a few key spring cleaning chores. It washes the winter out of my house, along with those stuffy, closed-up winter smells. If you don’t know where to start your spring cleaning ritual, here are some ideas.

    1. Start at the top. This time of year is a great time to clean your ceiling fans and light fixtures. Most light fixtures will unscrew with a basic flathead or Phillips head screwdriver. I usually suggest cleaning from the top first because dust falls as you clean, so why try to fight gravity?

    2. Launder everything. Have you ever asked yourself “when was the last time I washed that?” Include washing draperies, pillows, comforters, and dust ruffles in your spring cleaning ritual. Pet-owners and smokers: you will be amazed at how washing fabrics freshens the air in your house. It’s one of those old open house “staging” tricks. If you are lucky enough to get a particularly nice spring day, hang items on your clothesline. If it’s too overwhelming to wash them all at home, spend a few hours taking up four or five machines at a laundromat. Or, better yet, get them dry-cleaned. Just don’t forget to read the labels!

    3. Shampoo the carpets. It’s worth it to call a professional shampooing service because they will move the furniture and do the legwork. If you want to do it yourself, though, you can rent a shampooing machine from many supermarkets, home repair stores, or department stores. If you have pets, have kids, or smoke, think about purchasing a shampooer and doing it more often, section by section.

    4. Get rid of expired items. Take time to look through your refrigerator, kitchen cabinets, and bathroom cabinets for expired items. You may be surprised at items that have expiration dates. For example, did you know that sun block expires? So does bottled water. Feeling guilty about all the garbage? Take preventative measures: make a list of new items to buy, but only include items you actually used in the past year. Any other items can be bought or borrowed in an emergency.

    5. Sort and purge before buying anything. I know, I know, all of the stores are having sales on organizing supplies. Resist the urge to buy new bins, boxes, shelves, and hangers before you actually go through your stuff. Many people wind up buying eight bins at a sale, when they really need only four. Then extra supplies become part of the clutter. I know it’s tempting, but be strong!

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    Thank You!

    Thank you to everyone who attended the paper management workshop at Middletown Library yesterday! Please contact me if you have any questions, or if you'd like to schedule a presentation for your group. See for details.

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Hazardous Waste Recycling Event

    Delaware County will host a household hazardous waste (HHW) recycling event on Saturday, March 28, from 9 am to 3 pm. The event will be held at Marple Transfer Station, Marpit Drive and Sussex Boulevard, Broomall, PA.

    I have attended several of these events, and I am always impressed at how the staff handles the waste collection. Often, you don't even have to get out of your car! For details on this event and the rest of their 2009 schedule, click here.

    Saturday, March 7, 2009

    Reminder: Change Your Clocks!

    Remember to move your clocks forward an hour tonight before bed (Saturday, March 7) or tomorrow morning when you wake up (Sunday, March 8).

    Does it seem like Daylight Saving Time's spring changes are coming earlier and earlier? Well, the schedule was changed in 2007. Read more about it here.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    Daylight Saving To-Do List

    Daylight saving time is a great chance to do all of those semi-annual tasks that we’d other wise forget to do. Here are some ideas for your daylight saving to do list:

    1. Right after you change your clocks forward on March 8, change your smoke detector batteries. Fire companies have been promoting this routine for years. It only costs a few dollars for a new battery, and it could save your life.

    2. Replace air filters in your heating/air conditioning system. This should be done at least every six months, or more often if you have pets or run your system a lot.

    3. Flip your mattress. Flipping your mattress twice a year saves your mattress and your back. (Flipping may not be necessary for memory-foam or pillow-top mattresses.)

    4. Replace your car’s windshield wipers. It’s best to replace your windshield wipers ever six months, or more often if you have a long commute or park outdoors. Measure your wipers, buy replacements for about $5 to $15 each, and install them yourself. Or ask your mechanic to do it, possibly in combination with an oil change or inspection.

    5. Replace your car’s air filter. Either ask your mechanic to do it, or do it yourself. Air filters cost about $10 to $50, and your auto parts store will have guides on which filter your car uses. Although it can be a little dirty, it doesn’t take a whole lot of know-how to change the filter. Just make sure you let your car’s engine cool down before opening up the hood.

    6. Add your own items to this list. For example, my vacuum cleaner needs a filter replaced every six months. There is no way I would remember to do that without my daylight saving list!

    After the first time you implement your daylight saving to-do list, you will know the last time you did everything. You’ll not only save daylight, but you’ll save your sanity.

    Monday, March 2, 2009

    Middletown Library Event

    Sara Long will be speaking at the Middletown Free Library in Lima, PA, on Thursday, March 26, at 10 am. The program is free, but please call the library at 610-566-7828 to reserve a seat. The topic will be how to reduce and organize your paperwork and files. Click here for more information.

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    Reminder: Ikea Event Tomorrow!

    This is just a reminder that NAPO-GPC* is having our big GO Event tomorrow, Saturday, February 7 at Ikea in Conshohocken, PA. As well as shredding outside, there will be a lot of events inside. Sign up for giveaways, or stop by the different Ikea departments to hear Professional Organizers speak. Visit for more details. It should be a great time!

    *NAPO-GPC stands for the National Association of Professional Organizers Greater Philadelphia Chapter. (Now you know why I abbreviated it!)

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    Laundry Time

    Are you overwhelmed by piles of dirty laundry? Does it seem like there is never time to do it all? Do you only do laundry when the piles are overflowing or you need a piece of clothing fast? If you’re ready to break this cycle, here are some tips to find the right laundry system for you.

    The first step is finding a laundry system that works for you. Here are some scheduling ideas:

    • Laundry Category Days - Assign days for several types of laundry. For example, Monday is darks, Wednesday is colors, Friday is whites, etc. Possibly include a Woolite or Dryel day, if you have a lot of delicates and hand washables. If you share a washer/dryer with other tenants or roommates, choose “off-days” to avoid weekends.

    • Laundry Day - Do all of your laundry in one day. Again, avoid weekends if you share a washer/dryer. If you have a large family and one of you is a stay-at-home parent, I recommend choosing a weekday when some or all children are at school. Notify your family that there is one laundry day, and ask them to bring their dirty clothes to the laundry room the night before. This will take will power on two fronts: sticking with that day no matter how much you don’t want to do laundry, and being strict with your family about helping you out. Be ready for the “emergency” I-need-this-shirt-for-practice-tomorrow laundry loads, though.

    • Everyday Laundry - Do a load every day at a certain time, like the morning, right when you come home from work, or after dinner. This may seem like torture, but it really keeps you caught up on laundry. Even if you have to miss a day because you have to stay late at work, you get sick, or your child gets sick, the piles still won’t get out of control. Plus, the worst thing that happens is that you go to do laundry one day, and there isn’t any to do. When was the last time that happened?!

    Here are some other tips:

    • Have a weekly dry cleaning schedule. For example, drop off the dry cleaning on Tuesday mornings, and pick them up on Thursdays after work.

    • Don’t have too many bottles or boxes of detergent around. Read the bottle to see how many loads it will do, and calculate how long this will last with your laundry schedule. It’s often easier to buy one bottle each month than to find room to store five bottles.

    • Try to get your family more involved in laundry, especially the kids. Tweens can do those “emergency” loads of their uniforms needed for the next day, and you can remind teens that they’ll soon need to do their own laundry when they’re in college or sharing an apartment with roommates. And these roommates won’t be as forgiving about their piles of smelly clothes as their parents are!

    Monday, January 19, 2009

    Big Shredding Event at Ikea on February 7

    The Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) is hosting a huge shredding event at Ikea in Conshohocken, PA, on Saturday, February 7, 2009. The event will be held from 10 am to 2 pm. Professional Organizers will also be at the store to answer questions and speak about organizing different areas of your home. I'll be there in the morning! Visit for more information.

    Wednesday, January 7, 2009

    Your January List: Beat the Winter Blues and Get Things Done

    Sometimes the January doldrums hit hard: you’re broke from holiday shopping and stuck inside due to cold weather. Why not make the most of this month by finishing some important—and free—tasks.

    1. Donate items to the thrift shop. You received new gifts in December, why not share something with those less fortunate? There are hundreds of thrift shops in this area, and many give you donation receipts for tax purposes. Check with your local church or hospital, or look up Goodwill in the phone book. Even if you don’t get a receipt, keep track of when and what you donated, and ask your tax accountant about using it towards deductions for charitable contributions.

    2. Check your credit report. I know, it isn’t very exciting, but these days checking your credit report is a necessity. Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) established the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which “requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies--Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion--to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.” You can check each of the three major credit tracking companies for free once a year at You can also request reports over the phone at 1-877-322-8228 or by printing out a form from the website and mailing it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. I suggest checking one in January, one during spring daylight saving and once during autumn daylight saving. Alphabetically is the easiest way to remember: Equifax in January, Experian in March, and TransUnion in November. A caveat: don’t confuse with The FTC states that “only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law.” You may have seen’s commercials, but they are not free. They charge your credit card about $12 a month to “monitor” your reports.

    3. Go through your files. Even if you don’t like to file, there’s nothing like purging old papers to start the new year right. You’ll be amazed at how much space you will have left for new files once you are finished. Budget two hours per file drawer. Review memorabilia and old resumes and be honest with yourself: are you really going to need this in the future? Studies show that 80% of papers filed are never viewed again. Shred old documents yourself, or attend this year’s “GO Event” on February 7. Find details at

    4. Use your gift cards. You shopped for everyone else in December; January is time to shop for yourself! Many people save gift cards and gift certificates until they are forgotten or lost. Keep your gift cards in a visible place, such as your bulletin board, refrigerator, dresser, or valet. Schedule times to use them in your datebook: “January 10, 9 am - Shopping for Me!” Winter is a great time have a date night and use your restaurant and movie gift certificates. Some stores even give you cash back if you use most of your gift card.