Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Great Time to Organize Your Office

Here's an article about organizing your office clutter this week, the "slow" week between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Summing It Up

One of my favorite blogs reviews one of my favorite books.

Lifehacker on "Organizing from the Inside Out"

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Great Shelves and Bins for Organizing Attics

For your attic (and garage and basement, etc.) organizing projects, I highly recommend Sterilite's shelves with coordinating totes. They shelves are very easy to assemble and can be as tall or short as you need. The bins come in clear or opaque, and they are a good size to move and fit through doorways. I found my set at

Organizing the Attic

If you want to tackle your attic, the colder seasons can be a good time to do it. You definitely don’t want to be up there in the summer! So bundle up, and set aside a few hours to organize and clear out your attic. Here are some tips:

Plan ahead. As with many other organizing projects, schedule a few hours ahead of time and avoid interruptions. Collect boxes and bags for items to go to donate or dispose. Set up helpers if you have trouble lifting or moving items.

Protect yourself. Wear appropriate clothing and shoes, and wear work gloves and a face mask if necessary. Lift carefully and have a first aid kit handy.

Clean as you go. Bring a dust rag, spray cleaner, broom and dustpan with you so you can clean as you go. This step will save you time later and will get rid of dirt that may be in your way discouraging you from proceeding. Bring down as much as possible. The reason so many items accumulate in the attic is that they are out of sight. Once you decide you are getting rid of things, take them downstairs and get rid of them as soon as you can.

Re-think your attic space. Now that you’ve had time to analyze your attic, determine how much you actually want to store there. Just because you have an attic doesn’t mean you have to use it. Carefully consider what you keep up there and if it can handle the dust and temperature changes. Store the items you do keep in waterproof, dust-proof plastic bins that are legibly labeled. Put like with like, and put the items or use more often closer to the door.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Do You Have any 80-Million-Dollar Vases Lying Around?

Check out this article: - Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: Vase found in house clutter sells for £51m

A vase found under a pile of clutter sold for 51 million pounds, which is over 80 million dollars. Clear out that clutter, folks!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Organizing Documents For Your Heirs -

Although none of us wants to think about this, I'm sure none of us wants to picture our family rooting through piles of paperwork and having trouble finalizing bills after our death. Here is a great article about how to organize your paperwork for your heirs when you pass away.

Organizing Documents For Your Heirs -

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Organize Your Holiday Decorations

Halloween is over, and Thanksgiving is coming, followed by Christmas, and more! Are you having trouble organizing all of your holiday decorations? Do you feel like you have more and more each year? Are boxes and bins of seasonal items occupying too much space in your home? Here are a few suggestions to trim the trimmings.

Plan and pare down. Decide which areas of your home you wish to decorate: the front door, the mantle, the stairs, the dining room table, etc. Then determine which decorative items will go in each space. Anything that doesn’t fit can be donated or given to family members.

Store wisely. Many seasonal decorations are stored in basements or attics. It’s best to store them in clear, plastic bins to prevent dampness and dust. Select bins that you can easily carry up and down stairs and through doorways. Label them well, and store all of one holiday’s items together. If you store your items in a sunny room, use opaque bins instead.

Consider displaying decorations you don’t have to store. If you are really tight on space, consider using plants and other temporary decor. For Halloween, use pumpkins, mums and bales of hay. Purchase pine cones, berries, poinsettias and evergreen wreaths for Christmas. When the holiday passes, you can dispose of these items easily in an eco-friendly way.

Concentrate on the meaning behind the holidays. When you think back to past holidays, was the abundance of decor what you remember most? The traditions and family memories celebrated among the decorations are what make your holidays special.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Yep, That Was Me!

If you were watching the Channel 6 News on Monday, October 18, and you thought you saw a familiar face (or name)...yep, that was me! I was filmed visiting Linvilla with my husband and son.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Organize Your Bathroom

It’s most people’s dirty little secret—their dirty little bathrooms! There’s nothing worse than looking for health and beauty items when you’re sick or in a hurry and finding only insufficient or expired items. Here are some tips on clearing your medicine cabinet and toiletries storage to make your most personal room your most efficient room.

1. Grab a piece of paper and pencil to make a list of items you discard and will need to replace. You may not need to replace every item, just those you are pretty sure you will use at least once a year. Also note the quantities you think you will need.

2. Open your cabinets and drawers and move shelf by shelf, disposing of any expired items.

3. Next, dispose of items that don’t have an expiration date but that look old or smell bad, to the point where you wouldn’t use them.

4. Finally, dispose of anything that you haven’t used in a while, say a year or more. Take an honest look at these items when you consider whether or not to purchase replacements.
5. If an item does not have an expiration date and you forget when you bought it, consider writing an expiration on the bottle. Use Real Simple magazine’s online article entitled “Expiration Dates for Beauty Products” to come up with your dates. Most items are good from three months to a few years.
6. Do not flush medicines down the toilet or down drains. To properly dispose of medicines, contact your local pharmacy to see if they participate in a prescription medication disposal program. The DEA’s Office of Diversion Control organized their first “National Take-Back Day” in September. They hope to host this event annually, to reduce the quantity of dangerous medicines available to children or sold illegally. See for more information. If these options aren’t available to you, you can take a few additional steps to safely dispose of medications yourself. Remove your name and personal information from any bottles. Recycle bottles, if you can. Then pour the pills into a plastic bag, and add coffee grounds so animals avoid pills in the trash. For more information, see

7. After you have cleared old items and purchased new items, consider creating “zones.” Create a shelf for cold medicines, a shelf for first aid, etc. Place the most urgent or often-used categories on the most accessible shelves.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Household Hazardous Waste Event

Delaware County is hosting a Household Hazardous Waste recycling event on Saturday, October 9, 2010, at the Upper Chichester Township Municipal Building. Computers, printers, fax machines and portable TVs will also be collected at this event. See for details.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Give Your Stuff Away Day

Kick clutter to the curb! September 25th is a new holiday called "Give Your Stuff Away" day. Don't worry, no Hallmark cards or gifts are needed!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Back To School and Lightening the Load

Here is a great article on helping your school-aged children to carry less stuff in their backpacks:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Get that Garage

Here is a great article about garage organizing from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Free Shredding Event in Wilmington

The Wilmington area Professional Organizers of NAPO-GPC will host a free shredding event on Saturday, September 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The shredding truck will be located at the Sports Authority on Rt. 202, across from the Concord Mall in Wilmington, DE. Click here for details.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hazardous Waste Recycling Event

Delaware County is hosting a Household Hazardous Waste recycling event on Thursday, September 16, 2010, at the Rose Tree Park in Media, PA. They will collect Computers, printers, fax machines and portable televisions at this event. See for details.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Manage Your Time

The summer is over, children return to school, coworkers return from vacations, and everything seems to move faster. If you’re grappling with how to manage your time better, to have the quality life you want, here are some tips to get started.

Set goals and priorities.
If you have an idea of how you want your life to be, it’s easier to make decisions on how to spend your time. Write a list of important things in your life, such as career, children, spouse, friends, education, hobbies, etc. Then write numbers next to each item, assigning number one to the most important item, number two to the second, etc. When you get two invitations for one night, refer to your priority list to decide which is the best choice.

Create a “task block” schedule.
Have you ever seen network executives working on a TV programming line-up? They take names of TV shows and put them into a schedule to see how the week looks. You can use a similar exercise to look at your personal schedule. You can use Outlook, Palm, Excel, a paper calendar or even a piece of paper with times written on it. Make sure you have space for 24 hours in each day. Input items on the schedule, until all space is filled, using categories such as such as sleep, eat, work, travel, chores, errands, family time, personal care, entertainment, etc. It may be good to overestimate time for items like travel and chores. Take a step back and look at your schedule. Does it line up with your goals and priorities?

Your health is #1.
Everything you do gets harder if you don’t take care of yourself. Try to eat well, sleep and exercise. Set aside at least one or two hours a week to treat yourself to some “me time” by going to the gym, reading, watching a movie, going to a museum or doing something else that feeds your soul. Take time to recharge, and it will carry you through the stressful events of the week.

Say “no.”
It sounds easy, so why is it so hard? Saying “no” more often will give you time to concentrate on how you want your life to be. Have you ever looked at your week and realized that half of the things you do don’t meet your vision for your life? You may think people will be angry or disappointed with you, but I think you’ll find that they respect and value you more when you stand up for yourself.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What’s Your Reason?

As a Professional Organizer, I hear a lot of frustration from people who are trying to organize their spaces. I’ve heard it all! Here is my top ten countdown of reasons why people think they can’t get organized.

10. “If I get rid of something, I may need it later.”
You may, but if you forgot you had it and haven’t used it in several years, you probably won’t need it. Plus, you probably will be able to buy a similar thing if you need it later.

9. “I’m so busy, I don’t have time to organize.”
Organizing an hour a week will give you several more hours in your schedule.

8. “All of this stuff may be worth something.”
If you are serious about making money, research your items’ worth, and be willing to sell. Call an appraiser if necessary. Your space is valuable too, and you need your space now.

7. “I’m saving this to give to my kids.”
Do your kids really want it? Ask them, and don’t be afraid to get your feelings hurt.

6. “All of this stuff has memories.”
It is difficult deciding which sentimental items to keep, but you know you need the space. Keep the memories, part with the stuff. And clear your house for new memories.

5. “Those clothes are three sizes too small, but I’m on a diet.”
If you have items of clothing that haven’t been worn in a year, take time to sit down and be honest with yourself. It adds stress to have a closetful of tiny dresses staring at you as you are dieting. Keep clothes one or two sizes too small at most, not all of your clothes from high school.

4. “This is all other people’s stuff.”
The kids leave stuff, your spouse dumps stuff, your room is full of junk! Start by dividing what belongs to whom. Find places in the house to be “homes” for their stuff. If it has no home and hasn’t been used in over a year, consider donating it. Then lay down the law: you deserve a clutter-free space for yourself!

3. “I’m just a messy person.”
Messy and disorganized are two different things. Some messy people can find what they need in two seconds, while some neat people don’t know where anything is. Organization is about retrieval. It’s still possible to be organized if you like your space full of things.

2. “It’s so bad, I don’t know where to start.”
There is no “perfect” place to begin. Start somewhere, anywhere. Start with a small project, and make a list of other small projects you can do a few hours at a time over several weeks or months.

And finally, drum roll please...

1. “I can’t do it alone!”
Maybe it’s time to call a Professional Organizer. Visit to read about what a Professional Organizer can do for you.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Article in Delaware Moms Magazine

I'm proud to say that I was featured along with Professional Organizers Rhonda Sinor, Dawn George and Catherine Dombroski in the July 2010 issue of Delaware Moms magazine. Denise Morrison Yearian wrote the article entitled "Everything in its Place" on page 25. Pick up this free parenting magazine in book stores and other locations in the Wilmington area.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Planning a Successful Yard Sale

If you’re looking to get rid of clutter and earn some cash, a yard sale or garage sale may be the answer. If you already have boxes of unwanted items and are willing to spend the time sorting, pricing, and organizing a yard sale, here are some tips to make your yard sale as successful as possible.

Advertise. List your yard sale in your local newspapers and online. List in the “garage & moving sales” section of, and conduct an Internet search for “yard sales” to see which other websites let you list your yard sale online for free. Also use email, Facebook, and Twitter to share your yard sale date with friends and family.

Create consistent signage.
The best yard sale signs include at least the following information: the words “yard sale,” the date, times, location and an arrow. Use large, legible lettering. Print all of your signs on the same color paper, so drivers can follow the signs from a distance. Place signage at major intersections a few days before the sale, and remember to take them down after the sale ends.

Balance between pricing to haggle and pricing to move. Most people planning yard sales want both to get rid of old stuff and to earn money. Overall, it’s better to sell an item for a small amount of money than to have to give it away for free later. Use a simple pricing structure, with room for buyers to bid lower. Consider labeling everything in dollar amounts and not charging below one dollar for anything. This way you only have to stock up on dollar bills, not lots of coins. Combine little items into plastic bags and charge a dollar for the whole bag. Try using brown paper lunch bags to create one-dollar “mystery bags” full of small items to sell to kids. Also think about having a five-dollar shopping bag sale for the last hour of your yard sale.

Consider selling refreshments. A good way to earn some extra cash at a yard sale is to sell yummy treats and cold drinks. They’re hard to resist for people who’ve spent all morning yard-saling.

Determine what you will do with the remaining items. Too often, boxes of old yard sale items are lugged back into the house. Once you determine you don’t want an item, let it go. If it doesn’t sell at the yard sale, donate it to a thrift shop or other organization. Don’t bring that clutter back in!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Eye Contact in the Modern World

Think back. Way back. To your high school dances. Have you ever been dancing with someone and they are looking around the room? Possibly they're looking to see who's watching them and what they are thinking, or possibly they're looking at (or for) more attractive dance partners. Either way, it doesn't feel good.

That's how it feels when someone is constantly looking at their phone when I'm out with them.

Now, I'm fortunate enough to have a group of friends who are techno-savvy as well as polite enough to make me feel like they really want to be there with me, not whoever may call or text in the next five minutes. But I know I'm one of the lucky ones.

It's the elephant in the room that makes us feel like "old fogies" when we bring it up. I didn't include it in my last article, but it deserves some discussion. It's not just etiquette, it's a lack of appreciation for a person you may really care about. It poisons the intimate, face-to-face connection that all of us crave and that all of these technologies were created to foster, not destroy. It's behavior that says "I'm not that into you," even when you may be.

As cell phone technology has advanced, users have been more and more trained to look for that "greener grass." This habit robs them of the enjoyment of the moment, time spent with the people who like them enough to make time to be with them in person. Being an adult is about making sacrifices and taking the chance on committing to something to reap deeper rewards. Only kids float from place to place, always searching, always proving and impressing, and never stopping to revel in the intrinsic satisfaction of the current experience. Having a short attention span and taking people for granted are immature traits.

So take a chance on the person in front of you, and let the rest of the world find someone else to dance with for an hour.

Communication Clutter

Do you ever feel like you’re juggling all of the people who seem to need your full attention immediately? Many of the gadgets released over the past 20 years seem to have made conquering your communication clutter harder, rather than easier. Use these tips to prioritize your communications, give you focus, and make you feel less frazzled.

1. It’s an old sales trick: the person in front of you is more important than the person on the phone. Good customer service reps will serve the person at the counter, and put the incoming phone call on hold. Try the same thing in your life. The person in front of you gets priority over anyone who calls or texts you on your cell phone. You can always check your voicemail and text messages in an hour, and the person that found time to sit down for a meal with you will appreciate your full attention. Of course, there are exceptions. If you are expecting an important call or get an emergency call, take it, but excuse yourself politely and make it brief.

2. Set boundaries with kids, and yourself. Inevitably, your kids will start talking to you as soon as you pick up the phone to call someone. Reiterate that it’s not polite to ask questions while someone is on the phone, and teach them what counts as an emergency. But hold up your end of the deal as well. Don’t spend all of your time on the phone or cell phone, especially when you’re with your children.

3. Make email lowest priority. It’s easy to get tied up reading and sending emails. If you have trouble finding time in your schedule, try checking email only a few times a day. Notify people that you are not constantly connected, so they know they need to call you if there is an emergency.

4. What’s an emergency? People will call you with urgency in their voice all of the time. But is there problem really an emergency? Remember the old saying: “lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Emergencies are events that require immediate action. If it can wait three or four hours, it’s not an emergency. Allow yourself not to be everyone’s keeper. (This change will make a lot of things in your life easier!)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Multitasking: A Professor's Insightful Video

Recent studies have been showing that multitasking is no longer a virtue, it's just doing two things poorly at the same time. As younger generations surround themselves with more electronics, we wonder if they are overcoming this multitasking pitfall. This video explains how the brain works (in a fun way) and why most multitasking still hurts learners more than it helps.

"Professor Daniel Willingham looks at multi-tasking and concludes that even though kids today may like to multi-task, there's no reason to think that they are different than previous generations; they don't *need* to multi-task to be engaged and, like everyone else, kids today can't do two things at once as well as they can do one."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Local Shredding Events

The Borough of Brookhaven, PA, is having their annual "Shred It!" event on Saturday, May 15, from 9 am to 1 pm. Call 610-874-2557 for details.

Maybe your town has a free shredding event coming up too! Check your town's website, newsletter, or call the office. 'Tis the season for shredding!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tackle the Paperwork

Tax season has just passed, and it’s a great time to organize your paperwork. If you don’t have a filing system, or if yours just needs a tune-up, here are some suggestions.

1. Get all of your paperwork in one place. It’s difficult to organize your files if you have boxes in several rooms.

2. Separate your paperwork into piles by subject. If you already have files set up, you may be able to use them for your new system. If you don’t have file folders, put documents in piles and use sticky notes to assign subjects. Broader subjects are better than very specific ones, so you avoid having only one piece of paper per folder and many folders. You can always go back and get more specific later.
3. Purge excess paperwork. Create piles for trash, recycling and shredding. Use a guide like Catherine Williams’ “How long to keep financial records” article from to decide how long to keep certain documents. It’s usually seven years for tax returns and 45 days to seven years for credit card statements.
4. Make your file folders. Use the sticky notes as a guide. I suggest Pendaflex hanging file folders with removable plastic subject tabs. They make it convenient to change subject labels in the future. Place your documents in the labeled folders.

5. Assess your file storage. Now that you know how much paperwork you have, make sure you have file furniture to store it and to grow. Office supply stores have a wide selection of filing cabinets, as well as more “open” filing furniture and racks. Make your system your own, and it will be easier to find things.

6. Create a file index. Look at your file folders and write or type a list of the subjects on the tabs. Keep this list near your files. It will help you find the right file, before you even open your cabinet. It will help other members of your household as well.

7. Dedicate time to file regularly. Try to find a half hour a week to file. Keep on top of it and your “to file” pile won’t be quite as intimidating!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hazardous Waste Event

Delaware County is hosting a Household Hazardous Waste recycling event on Saturday, April 24, 2010, at the Emergency Services Training Center in Darby, PA. They will also take computers, printers, fax machines and portable TVs at this event. See for details.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Blogs, Blogs, Blogs: How to Create A Blog Reading List

Blogs, blogs, blogs...It seems like everyone has a blog (short for “web log”) these days. How do you begin to find blogs you like to read?

Internet marketing expert Alex Seigfried of Seigfried Designs ( suggests using Google’s free online applications. “If you want to be notified of new blog postings on blogs you already follow, then I would use Google Reader,” Seigfried explains. Google Reader ( collects new postings from blogs you like, so you can read them all in one place at your leisure.

“If you want to find new blogs or Web sites on a certain subject, then you can use a service called Google Alerts,” Seigfried adds. Google Alerts ( allows you to create search terms, such as “home organizing blogspot” or “organizing blog wordpress.” The links it finds can be emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis, or they can be sent to Google Reader.

To get you started, here are a few blogs I like to read regularly:

Getting Things Done Blog
Author, consultant and international lecturer David Allen writes this blog about personal and organizational productivity.

Stepcase LifeHack Blog
This blog includes articles from dozens of contributors on the topics of saving time, improving productivity and bringing simplicity to your life.

Zen Habits Simple Productivity Blog
With articles that help you find simplicity in life’s daily chaos, this blog clears the clutter so you can focus on what’s important, create something amazing and find happiness.

Fitness Together Main Line Blog
The blog from this personal training company offers more than just exercise information. You’ll find articles on nutrition, stress relief and longevity.

Sara Long Organizing Blog
Yep, that’s my blog! If you like my column, you’ll love the additional organizing tips on my blog.

Monday, March 22, 2010

HGTV's New "Home Rules" Show: I'm Not a Fan

I really wanted to like the new series "Home Rules," HGTV's hour-long show with Life Coach Fran Harris. I thought it would be a little organizing, a little time management, a little money management, a little goal-setting, and a little therapy. That wasn't the case.

Overall, "Home Rules" is a glorified interior design show. I know one of the sponsors is Sherman Williams. I get it. They have to paint, and they have to have close-ups of paint cans while they're painting. But the rest of the show misses the mark as well.

The premise of the show is that a Life Coach is sent to help a family that has financial and relational problems. The show's answer is to tempt them to improve their lives by offering to drastically renovate their house for free. The renovations start while the family attends meetings, completes exercises, and establishes rules.

Okay, pause. Do you see where the first problem is? The family hasn't even gone through one week of attempting to change their lives, and they're already in the middle of what I can only guess is a $50,000 renovation. What are the producers going to do if the family doesn't commit to change, stop working and leave their house worse off than it was?

In the episode I watched, a family needed a new refrigerator, insulation in one room, and to finish a bathroom and a laundry room. (Also, the kids didn't like the styles of their rooms, but I'm not considering that a dire need.) Why couldn't the show just fix the broken things? Instead, they rewarded people who made poor financial decisions and lived beyond their means for at least ten years with a whole-house renovation that most levelheaded, frugal people could only dream of.

To reign in the spoiled oldest daughter, they made her take out an old toilet. Good television, yes. But couldn't they just teach her to do laundry? Or cook pasta? Or even clean a toilet? Couldn't they make her do something she could do to help her mother and that would be a good skill for her future as well? I'm a handy person, but I'll tell you, I never have taken out a toilet and never plan to take out a toilet. The idea was too extreme.

Also, there were several camera "asides" where Harris was shocked and almost teasing her clients. Really, Fran Harris? You've never seen this before? I realize these quick asides were probably just for entertainment value, but it's kind of insulting to all professionals who make a living helping people find order in their lives. Believe me, we're not all that judgmental.

Maybe I have an inaccurate perception of what Life Coaches do. I remember watching a TV show called "Starting Over," where a group of women going through life transitions lived in a house together and participated in coach-lead exercises, goal-setting, and therapy. Granted, it was still a cheesy "crazy house" reality show, but it had some great ideas on how to help people overcome common roadblocks. I've also seen similar shows about financial management and time management that used a "tough love" approach to help people and share practical advice that all of us can use.

It may be the producers, editors, or just the nature of the TV format, but "Home Rules" breezes through these people's transitions without pinpointing what was really wrong with their value system. They treat the family's obsession with over-spending on expensive stuff them a lot of expensive stuff. Sorry, "Home Rules," you lost me.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hazardous Waste Recycling Event

Delaware County is hosting a Household Hazardous Waste recycling event on Saturday, March 27, 2010, at the Marple Transfer Station in Broomall, PA. See for details.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Big Shredding Event

Save the Date!

The National Association of Professional Organizers Greater Philadelphia Chapter (NAPO-GPC) will host a big Get Organized shredding event on Saturday, March 13, at Ikea in Conshohocken.

And it's free!

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Winter Preparedness

Sometimes being organized just makes your life easier, and sometimes it goes as far as saving your life. During this winter of unexpectedly harsh storms, FEMA’s website lists a lot of great information to help you prepare for electricity failure, pipe bursts, and more at. Although it’s rare for Philadelphia area residents to be without heat and electricity for more than a few days, a few days can feel like a long time if you’re not prepared. Here are some useful tips you may not have considered.

Keep your cell phone charged. If you use a cell phone as your main phone, remember to plug it in and keep it charged. If you lose electricity, you don’t want to lose the ability to contact people as well.

Have a list of important phone numbers handy. Many people don’t memorize phone numbers anymore; instead they rely on their cell phone’s contact storage. If your cell phone loses power, you’ll want to have a list of phone numbers for family, friends, your insurance company, the water company, the electric company, etc. that you can call on another phone.

Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your car. If you need to leave your house for a warmer house or a shelter, or to check on a relative, it may be difficult to stop for gas. Road conditions may make it hard to pull over, and many gas stations may not be open.

Have "mad money" in the house. Along the same lines as it being difficult to stop for gas, it may be difficult to stop at a bank or even at an ATM during a storm. You may need to pay people to help you dig out.

Stock up on the real essentials. Many people run out to buy milk and bread before the storm. Remember to concentrate on the items you could not live without during a few days stuck inside. These include medicines, water, and supplies for pets and babies. Find more at

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Online Library Lists

One of my favorite new features on the Delaware County Library System website is their library lists option.

Simply search for a title using the online catalog. When you find the title you like, check the checkbox next to it, and click on the "Save to My Lists" button at the top of the list. Sign into your record with your name and library card number. Use the drop-down menu to select "Create a New List." Type a name for your list, and click on the "Submit" button. The title you selected is now saved to that list, and you can log into your record at any time to view your lists.

I have a list for organizing research, as well as for fun reading. Now I can check my lists before I go to the library, or even use the library's catalog computers to check them while I'm there!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Procrastination Story

CBS Sunday Morning had a great story about procrastination. It seems there are a lot of new books and studies on the subject. If you or someone you know is "time-challenged," take a look at this report:;contentBody.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wardrobe Strategy

If you're sick of digging through piles of clothes and trying on ten outfits each morning, maybe it's time to take stock of your wardrobe. Forgetting that you have things, unworn items with tags still hanging from months ago, and re-buying things are all signs that you need a wardrobe overhaul.

If you're ready to "go minimal," try this method: look at your life and what you where when. Then do the math to make sure you have no more clothes than you would need for two weeks, in any season. This means that even if you can;t do laundry for a few weeks, you're still covered, but the laundry pile doesn't overflow with a month's worth of clothes.

For example, say you work in an office five days a week, go to the gym three days a week, and like to garden on your weekends. With this system, you would have no more than ten pairs of work pants, ten work shirts, ten suits, etc. for each season. You would have no more than six sets of gym clothes for each season. You would have no more than four grungy gardening/housework outfits, and you would have no more than 14 t-shirts and 14 sweaters.

If you can live with less, great!

If you're really ambitious, try using layers in basic colors to skip the seasonal shift altogether. Try wearing black pants, jeans, and khakis that can transition easily between seasons. Cardigans, blazers, and light jackets also work well.

Some exceptions include dresses, tuxedos, and costumes for special occasions. But be honest with yourself! Will you wear it again, and will it fit?

Attack of the Closets

If one of your winter organizing projects is tackling your overflowing bedroom closet, here are a few ways to do it.

Yes, Maybe, No
The most aggressive process, this method is meant for people who have a pretty clear idea of what they want to purge. The “yes” pile is for items to keep, “no” is to give away, and “maybe” is to decide later. After the first round of sorting, take a break, then return to divide the “maybe” pile into “yes” and “no.”

Past, Present, Future
Your wardrobe may span several time periods: now, high school, when I lose twenty pounds, if I ever get invited to a gala, etc. These clothing items can be sorted into “past,” “present,” and “future” piles. To reclaim closet space, it may be a good idea to set limits on how many “past” and “future” items stay in your closet. Consider implementing rules such as not keeping anything more than two sizes too large or too small, or not keeping anything over five years old.

Always, Sometimes, Never

If you’re not sure how to start sorting, use this method to sort your clothing into piles for items you wear at least once a month, wear at least once a year, or haven’t worn in years. Look at your piles, and consider letting go of items you haven’t worn in years. For items worn once a year, consider how many of these items you really need to have on hand.

When putting items back into your closet, use a system that works for you. It doesn’t have to be color-coordinated or “like with like” if that’s not how you will look for items. Consider putting outfit separates together, sorting by frequency of use, or sorting by purpose if you wear a uniform or business attire to work. As with any organizing project, avoid buying boxes, shelves, and hangers before sorting and purging.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year, No Clutter!

If your new year’s resolution includes saying so long to clutter, here are some tips to stay organized in 2010.

The Fantasy. Every purchase involves a fantasy. Every new item of clothing, fitness equipment, book, pair of shoes, perfume, and on and on, has a dream attached. When you decide to spend your hard-earned money on something, you have a vision about how it will make your life better. This year, avoid clutter by taking a second look at what you buy and if it’s fulfilling its promises. More often than not, people’s "good intention" purchases turn into clutter in a corner, making their organization goals even more challenging. Establishing clear goals—"less clutter," "more time," "pay off debt," etc.—makes for easier decision-making.

The House Beautiful Effect.
Professional Organizers encounter this dilemma a lot. We’ve seen perfect-looking houses that aren’t organized, or that have secret, clutter-filled closets and spare rooms. Just because your house doesn’t look like a photo out of a magazine doesn’t mean that it’s not organized. The point is: make organizing your top priority, and save the glamour of fine design for your second priority. This way, there’s less of a chance that disorganization will creep out into your beautiful decor.

Maintain, maintain, maintain. I haven’t found a system yet that doesn’t need maintenance. Sorry. If I could come up with one, I’d be rich! The key is to create systems of organization that work for you, so that you are motivated by the outcome to continue the maintenance.

First People, then Money, then Stuff. One of successful financial advisor Suze Orman’s mantras is “People first, then money, then things." She has helped thousands of people get themselves out of debt by realizing what is really important in life. As you make your clutter-free plan for 2010, remember that debt is clutter. You can enjoy things without owning them, and some of the best experiences are free. Find ways to enjoy the people around you and life’s simple pleasures without spending money or purchasing stuff. If you can do this in 2010, you’re giving yourself the best gift of all.