Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Organized…for Life

As I write my last column for the News of Delaware County, I am reminded of the main challenge that many of my clients face as they approach organizing their space: maintaining their organization systems throughout the years. By the time I meet them, many clients have already tried several systems and have been frustrated with the results. Many clients had childhoods full of bad habits and had been labeled “messy” since as far as they could remember. If these clients truly wish to break the pattern—to take control of their time and their space for the rest of their lives—I often give them these suggestions.

Have a goal. This one may look familiar. I have used this tip in many of my organizing columns. If you have a clear goal for how to improve your life, you can visualize how you want your life to be, feel, look. Then you can take small steps to achieve your vision. Write down your goal and post it, paint it, embroider it, write it in lipstick on your mirror—whatever reminds you that you are taking control of your life from this point on.

Find systems that work for you. My columns have included many different ways to make your life easier. You don’t have to do all of them. I repeat: you don’t have to do all of them. Discover a balance between challenging yourself to improve your life and creating routines that work for you. Depending on your life—your job, your health, your family, your house—it may be impossible to do everything “right.” You are going to have to let some things go. Remind yourself of your goal, choose the most important tasks or rooms or meetings, and change your systems if they don’t work. My March 2011 column (“Just For You: How to Create Your Custom Organizing System”) can walk you through this process. 

“Get back on the horse.” Every one of us has had points in our lives where we fell out of habits. Whether it was due to an emergency or simply malaise, we neglected the steps we committed to doing to make ourselves legitimately happy. When this happens—for a week, a day, even a year—it is important to remember the overall goal of a better life. Then brush yourself off, get up, and get going again.

Get help. Read. Attend workshops. Call a friend. Call a professional. If you don’t know where to begin, there are a lot of people out there who can help you start. My July 2009 column entitled “Summer Reading” gives you some fantastic organizing resources.

Overall, I encourage each of you to enjoy the journey to know yourself and to set your priorities. We each have only 24 hours a day—make your time your own. Assisting clients with these adventures, and seeing their transformations first hand, are why I love being a Professional Organizer.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

To Collect or Not to Collect

As a Professional Organizer, I am often asked how I feel about collections. Is collecting antiques or memorabilia a harmless hobby or is it a sign of “hoarding?” The answer is, as usual, “it depends.” Here are some ways to determine if your collecting tendencies are becoming problematic.

1. Do you love your collection?
When you look at your collection, does it make you smile? When you think of buying an addition to your collection, does it fill you with excitement or with stress? Does it represent something special in your life or has it become a selection of gifts that you feel guilty about letting go of or to telling people to stop buying you? Are you addicted to the search more than the item itself?

2. Do you take care of your collection?
Is it clean? Is it stored so that the items stay in good condition?

3. Is it affecting you financially?
Can you afford to maintain, build, and/or insure your collection? Are you in debt and still buying additional items? Are you trying to keep up with someone else or keep up appearances? If you think that selling these items will earn you a lot of money for the future, have you done the research?

4. Is it affecting your safety?
Is your collection so large or stored in a way that it impedes moving about your home? Could you get out of your home or could people get inside in case of an emergency? 

5. Is it affecting your relationships?
Do you spend more time collecting, researching, and cleaning your items than you do with family and friends? Are the people you value in your life bitter or sarcastic about your collections? Has anyone confronted you about your collecting habits affecting other concerns on this list?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Do You Do with Lots of Linens?

Do you have a tower of towels? A surplus of sheets? A plethora of pillowcases? What do you do when you’re the contents of your linen closet look like they could supply a Holiday Inn? Organize!

1. First, sort by type and take a count. Put like with like: sheet sets, bath towels, hand towels, etc. See how many sets you have, and if you have any odd items.

2. Next, assess how many of these items you actually use. How many beds do you have in your home, how often do you change your sheets, and how often do you wash them? Consider the mattress sizes, and then use these values to determine the minimum number of sheet sets that you need. If you have one queen sized bed that you change the sheets on once a week, but you only wash sheets every two weeks, you need at least two sets of queen-sized sheet sets. You also can use this formula for towels, hand towels, etc.

3. Determine what you want to keep. Decide how many linens you’d like to keep based on what you use and how much space you have. It’s good to have an extra set of sheets and towels in case of emergencies, but be realistic. Then keep sets that are in the best condition, match, or are just your favorite for other reasons.

4. Donate old linens.
The SPCA accepts towel donations to use for the animals. You can donate sheets and blankets to most thrift shops. If they are in very bad condition, consider cutting them up and using them as rags.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Impact Thrift store is hosting an electronics recycling event. 

Saturday, September 24, 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Impact Thrift Store - Montgomeryville
979 Bethlehem Pike (Route 309)
Montgomeryville, PA

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Clearing Clothing Clutter with Lifehacker

Here's a great clothing organization article from Lifehacker:

Links to style guides for men and women included!

Repurpose Old Cribs

Thank you to Impact Thrift for the link to this great photo list of ways to repurpose old cribs:;_Repurposes_for_Old_or_Recalled_Cribs/#.TmkJT0Bx2ZQ.facebook

Monday, September 12, 2011

Household Hazardous Waste Event in Media, PA

Delaware County will host a Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Event in Media, PA, on Thursday, September 15.

Rose Tree Park
1521 N. Providence Road
Media, PA  19063
All Delaware County HHW Events run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m
* Computers, printers, fax machines and portable televisions will also be collected at this event.  See Computer and Television Recycling Topic for further information.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And you thought you didn't have room for more furniture...

Here are two examples of furniture pieces that stack into sleek sculptures:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How to Get Rid of Clutter...and Organized Confusion

This is a great article from AOL Healthy Living:

"Getting rid of clothes we'll never fit into again means accepting our current shape and level (or lack) of fitness...Getting rid of an expensive item we never use means admitting that we made a poor decision when we bought it..." Poignant thoughts.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Back-To-School Shopping List

Getting the kids ready to go back to school seems to become more complicated each year. The supply list is longer, the money is tighter, and the summer is shorter—and hotter! Here are a few ways to organize your school supply shopping to save time and money.

Read the list, and then make your list. Your child’s school probably gave you a list of supplies to send to school with your child on the first day of school. If you don’t have it, contact the school to get it. The list may even be on the school’s website. Once you have this list, make a list of other items your child may need for school.

Shop in your house. Once you complete your supply list, look for items around the house. Most people have more pencils, pens, and other office supplies than they think they do. Include your child in the search: make it a scavenger hunt!

Start at the dollar store. You’d be amazed at what you can find at the dollar store, especially classroom supplies like disinfectant wipes and tissues. I suggest purchasing as many items as you can at a dollar or discount store, then going to other stores to finish your list.

Read the ads. Many office supply stores, department stores, and pharmacies have sales on certain items in August and September. Some of the prices can’t be beat, like notebooks for 10 cents or pencils for a penny. Consider the value of your time, though. Would you prefer to spend hours going to five stores to complete your list or to spend more money buying all of your items at one store?

Buy in bulk. If you have an organized group of friends, you may be able to purchase school supplies in bulk and split them amongst yourselves. Many stores offer free shipping once the bill reaches a certain amount, so you can shop without even having to leave the house.

Remember the calendar and to-do list. Your child’s teacher may or may not have a system for students to keep track of homework assignments and project deadlines. I suggest purchasing a weekly or monthly pocket calendar and a small notepad for your child. These items often cost a dollar or less at dollar stores or office supply stores. The habits of tracking daily assignments (as a to-do list in the notepad) and long-term projects (in the calendar) will help your child learn time management skills, which will help them for the rest of their lives.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Here is a great article about car organization and maintenance from one of my favorite blogs, Lifehacker:


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Looking for a Job? Get Organized!

If you are in the midst of a job search and waiting for employers to return your calls, don’t just sit there and wait.  Now is the perfect time to organize your portfolio materials for possible interviews.  Examples of your work set you apart and may be why you are hired.  Here are some examples of what you can do while playing the waiting game.

Gather visual examples.  Gather all of your writing samples, graphic design samples, etc., into one place.  Then sort the items by type, then reverse-chronologically.  Once this sorting is complete, choose one or two samples from each category.  Make clean photocopies or print hard copies of each one to bring to interviews.  Also, make sure you have digital versions of each sample in case you need to email them to a potential employer.

Compile your work history.  Since you fit your resume into one or two pages, it may not list every job you’ve ever had, or it may not include specific dates, locations, telephone numbers and other details.  Now is a great time to create a document with more details for your own use.  Write down every job you’ve ever had, including part-time jobs and internships, and include their address, phone, contacts, and a list of duties and accomplishments.  This document is a great resource if you have to change your resume to apply for a different position or a job in a different field.

Obtain reference letters.  Now that you have a work history, see if you can use any past employers or co-workers as references.  If you do not have any reference letters, ask some recent employers to write you basic letters that you can use for any job application.

Don’t forget the numbers.  Employers are busier than ever, reading more resumes and managing short-staffed teams.  They may not have time to read your resume with a fine-toothed comb, but numbers will jump out.  See if there are places where you can add statistics about how much you increased sales, publicity, output, productivity, etc., to your resume or cover letter.  Include these numbers in your work history as well, so you can use different statistics with different types of jobs.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Shredding Event in Folsom, PA, on July 23

Representative Joe Hackett is hosting a free paperwork shredding event at his Folsom office. The event is on Saturday, July 23, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 554 East MacDade Boulevard, Folsom, PA 19033.

Also, Representative Hackett requests that attendees bring a donation the American Troop Support Team, which collects goods to send to the troops. Their list of needed items includes: AT&T national phone cards, batteries, baby wipes, disposable cameras, food, DVDs, novels and more. Visit their website at for the full list.

See their website for details:

Monday, June 20, 2011

CNN Article about Clutter

Here is another great article about organizing:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Article About Productivity vs. Interruptions

Here is an article with some new productivity statistics about workers who are interrupted on the job, mostly by wireless calls and texts.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Best Place for Your Baby Registry

I've heard a lot of pros and cons of having baby registries in different place: local stores, department stores, discount stores, online and more. After all is said and done, I still think the best store to have a baby registry is Babies 'R' Us.

While local baby supply stores may be good for your local economy, it is difficult for gift-givers from out of town. Department stores like Macy's, JC Penney's and Sears are nice for clothes and bedding, but they often do not offer the selection of equipment (strollers, cribs, car seats, playpens, swings, bottles, diapers, wipes, etc.) that Babies 'R' Us does. Discount stores such as Target and Walmart will give you a good selection for lower prices, but they have two detriments. The first is that their inventories change often, so your registry items may be gone even a month or two after you create your registry. The second problem is the return policy. Target has a notoriously poor return policy, setting a monetary limit on how many items you can return without a receipt within a year, even if the returned items are on a registry. Online stores like have the selection, but they change their inventory often as well. Also, the buyer has to pay for shipping and doesn't get to see or touch the items live--which is half of the fun of buying baby stuff! Plus, online stores exclude gift-buyers who are uncomfortable with using the Internet or paying for things online.

For these reasons, I suggest creating your baby registry at Babies 'R' Us. They have a very liberal return policy, especially for items on a registry. They have almost everything you can imagine you'd need or want for a baby, including clothing, bedding, equipment, furniture, diapers, wipes and formula. They have many locations nationwide, so out-of-towners can send gifts. They also have an easy-to-use online registry system that allows people to send the gift directly to your address.You can sign up for a rewards card that gives you large coupons for diapers and such, and Babies 'R' Us will give you a substantial coupon after your baby is born to finish purchasing items on your registry.

While it's finally your decision where to have your registry, or whether or not to have a registry at all, I recommend visiting a Babies 'R' Us as part of your search. The prices may seem a bit high, but it's worth the convenience for you and your friends and family.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Another Baby Gift Idea: Childproofing

Another great ideas for new parents is the gift of safety...child safety to be exact. You can purchase and install a lot of the items yourself, but why not call a professional?

There is a company in Wayne, PA, called KidProteq* that will analyze your childproofing needs for a fee. Then you can use that fee to purchase items from their store and/or to get them to install the items. While many babies don't start crawling until about six months old, it may be good to have these items in place while the baby isn't mobile.

I'm pretty savvy with a screw gun, but I wish I had hired someone else to give me the best products and tell me what to do.

*This post does not represent an endorsement of this company. Services and fees may vary.

Special Delivery: Organizing for a New Baby

The arrival of a new baby can turn even the most organized person’s world upside-down. Here are some ideas to help expecting parents, as well as gift-givers, to prepare for the big day and beyond.

Look at the registry.  If you’ve been shopping at a baby supply store in recent years, you know that it’s easy to be overwhelmed.  There are a lot of new “gadgets” out there for babies, some essential and some more gimmicky.  Many baby registries are available to view online or on computers in the store.  Gift cards to the store are also great idea, so the new parents can purchase unexpected essentials after the baby arrives.

Stock up on basics.  Of course, we all want to buy frilly clothes, tiny shoes and cute pillows, but the best gifts are towels, washcloths, receiving blankets and burp cloths.  These items are used often and washed often, so they wear out easily.  There are a lot of creative designs and organic options out there now, so you can still have fun shopping!

You can never have too many of the essentials.  It may not be glamorous giving someone diapers and wipes, but they are necessary!  Parents may even include their preferred brand of diapers and wipes on their registry.  You can also find out if the parents plan to use cloth diapers and help them stock their stacks.

Shop rummage sales.  If the new parents are on a budget, ask if you can look for gifts at rummage sales.  You can find almost-new swings, playpens, glider chairs and even bedding at rummage sales.  Inspect the items closely, though, and be careful about cribs and car seats.  Standing in line at a rummage sale while pregnant is not very fun, so it would be great if you could do it for the expectant mom!

Give time.  Having a baby is like having ten times as much work to do in half the time.  One of the best gifts a person can give new parents is his or her time.  Offer to come over for a few hours to babysit so the new parents can rest.  If you aren’t confortable watching the baby alone, offer to do laundry, go to the grocery store or cook a meal.  These tasks get very difficult when you have a newborn, especially if the mother is recovering from surgery.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why are my washcloths turning gray?

OK, this may be a little off-topic, but I had a hard time finding it other places on the Internet.

I recently noticed that the center of some of my washcloths were turning gray. I tried washing them with Oxyclean, and bleaching some of them, but nothing worked that well. And they just turned gray again.

I realized that the gray stains were due to using liquid body wash. I use liquid baby wash for my son, and only his washcloths were turning gray.

Rinsing the soap out before putting them in the laundry hamper helped, and I've seen a bunch of other laundry ideas and techniques posted on various obscure websites. But honestly, isn't it just easier to buy a lot of navy blue, burgundy, dark green, brown, and dark gray washcloths?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Radio Interview on The Joy of Organizing Show

 Thank you to Bonnie and Matt of The Joy of Organizing radio show for a great conversation about paper management. Listen here:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Shredding Events at Bryn Mawr Trust

Bryn Mawr Trust will host several free shredding events in the region in May. See for more details.

Shred Your Old Receipts, Statements & Documents

Bring those confidential documents and receipts.
DocuVault professionals will shred them as you watch.

• Old credit card receipts • Cancelled checks
• expired credit cards • Insurance forms
• Old financial statements • Any personal information
• Pre-approved credit offers you no longer need
• Credit applications

10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Brookhaven Office : Saturday, May 21, 2011
Parking lot of Bryn Mawr Trust at 3218 Edgmont Avenue
in Brookhaven, PA [610-876-6293]

Bryn Mawr Office : Saturday, May 7, 2011
Centennial Wing Parking lot, adjacent to office at
801 Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr, PA [610-525-1700]

Chester Heights Office : Saturday, May 7, 2011
Parking lot of Bryn Mawr Trust at Rte. 1 & Stoney Bank Road
in Chester Heights, PA [610-361-1300]

Exton Office : Saturday, May 21, 2011
Parking lot of Bryn Mawr Trust at 237 North Pottstown Pike,
Southeast corner of Swedesford Road & Route 100
in Exton, PA [484-875-9050]

Havertown Office : Saturday, April 30, 2011
Parking lot of Bryn Mawr Trust at 18 West Eagle Road
in Havertown, PA [610-789-1840]

Swarthmore Office : Saturday, June 4, 2011
Parking lot of Bryn Mawr Trust at 330 Dartmouth Avenue
in Swarthmore, PA [610-328-9998]

West Chester Office : Saturday, April 16, 2011
Parking lot of Bryn Mawr Trust at 849 Paoli Pike
in West Chester, PA [484-356-9413]

Willowdale Office : Saturday, May 14, 2011
Parking lot of Bryn Mawr Trust at 106 East Street Road
in Kennett Square, PA [610-444-9800]

When Can I Get These Chores Done!?!

Now that it’s spring, you many be tempted to do some much-needed spring cleaning.  But how do you find the time with all of those regular chores to do?  Here are some ideas on how to schedule your chores so you don’t feel like a maid and you have time to do the things you really want to do.

1. Make a list of chores for your home.  Brainstorm all of your chores, including spring cleaning chores.  Write down every task that needs to be done in your house on a regular basis.

2. Mark how often you’d like to do each chore.  On your list, estimate how often you’d like to accomplish each task: weekly, monthly, semi-annually, annually, etc.

3. Estimate how long it takes to do each chore.  Based on your experience with these chores in the past, write down how long it takes to do each task on your list.

4. Assign chores to your schedule.  Look at your weekly availability and determine when you can reasonably accomplish the weekly tasks.  Do the same for monthly, etc.  If you take an evening class or go to the gym on Tuesday nights, it may not be a good idea to schedule two hours of chores on that night.

5. Delegate.  Try to reinforce the importance of these chores to your household.  Give them each a chore that they can handle and that work with their schedules.  Can one of your children be in charge of the trash and recycling?  Can your spouse take care of loading the dishwasher and running it if you take care of emptying it?  Can you hire someone to mow the lawn, clean the bathrooms, walk the dog, etc.?

6. It’s all too much!  If your outcome still seems too overwhelming, it’s time to let some chores go.  If your chore schedule shows that you are spending too many hours cleaning on one or two days, see if there’s anything you can make biweekly.  Most likely, a room won’t fall apart if it has to wait an extra week.  Prioritize your chores and stick to your schedule, and you will have more time to do other things.

For spring cleaning ideas and laundry ideas, please search this blog. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Free Shredding!

Remember to stop by the free shredding event at IKEA Conshocken on Saturday! A Wiggins truck will be there from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. See for details.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Medications: Dispose of Old Pills Properly

The Drug Enforcement Administration is hosting a “Got Drugs? National Take Back Initiative” event on April 30 at many police departments. See or call 1-800-882-9539 to find a drop-off center near you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Great Closet Clean Out!

The Great Dames of Delaware are collecting clothing and shoes of all sizes for their Great Closet Clean-out on Friday, April 15. Here is their info:

A Career Clothing Drive sponsored by Great Dames Inc. & Pettinaro Relocation
9:00 am to 1:00 pm
The Towers at Greenville 210 Presidential Drive, Wilmington, DE
Additional drop-off locations online at

Who will benefit
The Clothing Bank of Delaware, Great Stuff (DE Breast Cancer Coalition) Shoes 2 Share

What we need
New or gently-used, clean business and dress attire for women and men in any size, shape or color

How to participate
Gather career clothing, preferably on hangers or in closed bags and bring your donations to The Towers at Greenville

For more information
Heather Hake at or 610.389.4710

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Could You Live in 90 Square Feet?

My friend Bridget sent me this article about a woman living in a 90-square-foot apartment in New York City.

Could you do it? I think she still has more than I would have! Ha ha! I've lived in 360 square feet (12' x 30'), but living in one-fourth of that would be a challenge.

Although I often don't read comments at the bottom of online articles, many of the commentators are less than supportive of this woman's lifestyle. They compare their cheaper, larger apartments in other parts of the country to hers. Come on! NYC is NYC. City living is spending good chunks of your time living publicly, in coffee shops, book stores, libraries, restaurants, bars, art galleries, theatres, gyms, parks, etc. You give up your living space, and the city gives you its food and culture. If your big screen TV and your whirlpool tub are your priorities, then you can't do it. It's a different lifestyle, but it can be very enjoyable!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

For Your Safety: Removing Your Computer Hard Drive Before Recycling

If you are planning to recycle your laptop computer at one of the upcoming electronics recycling events, it may be a good idea to remove your hard drive first. Your hard drive may contain personal information which, in the wrong hands, could lead to identity theft. See this article about how to locate and remove your hard drive. There are several ways to destroy your old hard drive once it is removed, including getting it shredded at companies like Wiggins Shredding in West Chester, Exton and Kennett Square, PA. It's not as hard as you think!

What Do I Do With This Stuff?

I recently wrote a column on how getting organized and reducing your purchases also can help the environment. In celebration of Earth Day later this month, I want to share with you some ways to responsibly dispose of items that you are purging as you organize your home.

That box of wires
Everyone I run into seems to have a box of wires! This box can contain power cords, adapters, extension cords and power strips that may or may not work or fit anything that you own. The Delaware County Solid Waste Authority hosts regular electronics recycling events along with their household hazardous waste (HHW) recycling events. The next event is on April 9 in Darby, PA. See or call 610-892-9627 for details and future events. The Earth Care Council will collect electronics recycling at their Delaware County Environmental Fair on April 9, as well. See If you cannot make it to one of these events, consider donating items to Impact Thrift Stores ( or call your local Staples or Best Buy store.

Cell phones
As well as bringing old cell phones to the above-listed electronics recycling events, you can donate old cell phones at many Delaware County municipal buildings and at every Delaware County Library System (DCLS) member library. Visit for a list of public libraries.

Paper (that I don’t want anyone to get a hold of)
Shred it! The Delaware County Environmental Fair in April will offer free shredding. Also, the National Association of Professional Organizers-Greater Philadelphia Chapter (NAPO-GPC, will host a free shredding event at IKEA Conshohocken on April 30. Many municipalities offer free shredding as well. If you need to get it shredded now, Wiggins Shredding in West Chester offers shredding services for a small fee.

The Drug Enforcement Administration is hosting a “Got Drugs? National Take Back Initiative” event on April 30 at many police departments. See or call 1-800-882-9539 to find a drop-off center near you.

Lions Clubs accept used glasses for donation to people in third-world countries. The Aston Township Lions Club has a drop-box in Aston. You can find your local Lions Club by using the search on Or mail your glasses to Lions Clubs International Headquarters, Attn: Receiving Department, 300 W. 22nd Street, Oak Brook, IL 60523.

For information about other regions’ recycling resources, visit my website at and click on “Resources.”

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Household Hazardous Waste Recycling

Delco is holding an HHW recycling event on Saturday, April 9 in Darby:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Daylight Saving Time

Turn your clocks ahead tomorrow morning, Sunday, March 13 (or tonight)!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Speaking Events at Haverford Library

I will be speaking at Haverford Township Free Library on these dates:

Sunday, March 20, 2 p.m. - What Do I Do With All the Paper?: Organizing Tips to Manage Your Paperwork

Sunday, March 27, 2 p.m. - Savvy Closets: How to Organize Your Clothing to Save Space and Time

Sunday, April 10, 2 p.m. - Finding Time: Time Management Tips from a Professional Organizer

Haverford Library is located at 1601 Darby Road, Havertown, PA 19083.

The program is free, but registration is required. Call Mary at 610-446-3082 or register online at If you do not see the event listed, click on the "Eventkeeper" link and scroll down.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Computer Recycling Event

Impact Thrift in Montgomeryville will host a Computer & Electronic Scrap Recycling Event on Saturday, March 26 from 9 am to 2 pm. Click here for details:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

On Jeopardy!

Did you see Jeopardy! tonight? The category was "Special Months:"

And the answer for $200 was "Shape Up USA Month & Get Organized Month:"

Yay National Get Organized Month!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Nate Berkus Helps Dr. Ruth Clear the Clutter

The New York Times shared a great story about Dr. Ruth, a Holocaust survivor, transforming her apartment after the death of her husband. Nate Berkus' insights about surrounding ourselves with the things we love can be applied to all of our organization and decorating projects.

Dr. Ruth and Nate Berkus on Clearing Clutter:

Just For You: How to Create Your Custom Organizing System

There are many organizing products and systems out there, but how do you know what will work best for you? Here are some tips on how to create custom systems to organize your space.

Write down your goal. Whether your goal is to make your home look like a magazine photo or just to be able to see the floor, your goal will help you make decisions on how to organize your space. It also will help you stay focused when tough decisions arise.

Sort and purge. Before setting up a system or buying products, sort your items into “like with like” and purge what you do not need. You may be surprised at how streamlined your space feels just by clearing out the clutter.

Find a place for everything. Many of my clients say that their biggest organization problem is that they never established the right places to put their things. Failure to create “homes” for items inevitably leads to further disorganization and frustration. Take the time to find a practical place for each item. Consider where you’d keep dirty laundry, books, magazines, mail in, bills to be paid, mail out, clean laundry and shoes.

Set up a system. This is where your space meets your time. Determine how often you need to do chores, read the mail, pay bills, file paperwork, etc. Assign days of the week or dates in the month for each task. Write it down and post it in a place that will remind you and other family members to do the tasks.

Be honest with yourself. Be reasonable and have confidence in your ability to get things done. Once you have a system, it’s a matter of sticking to habits that will make your system work. If you have a good system that’s right for you, the house’s organization won’t fall apart if you have to skip a day. Just get back to it as soon as you can.

As always, call a Professional Organizer if you need help. We are trained in the intricacies of many organizing solutions and can help you discover which systems will work best for you.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Zero Trash Family Also Has Almost No Clutter

Check out this USA Today article entitled "Zero trash family lives without clutter, excess."

"Béa Johnson said a neighbor called their uncluttered home 'futuristic and alien-like' and, peering into closets, asked: 'Where's all your stuff?'" I love it!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In Search of a Good Paper Flow System?

Many people I know are bombarded with incoming mail and other paperwork. I have a system that will help you keep your paperwork moving to the right location in your home. Using bins, boxes, magazine files or baskets, create these categories:

The in box is for any paper that has come in that you haven’t really had a chance to deal with yet. Ideally, you’d be able to open your mail right after you get it. Not many people have that option! Put it in the in box and deal with it every few days or weekly, at the most.

Also called an “action” file, move papers into the to do box when you’ve opened them, but they need further action. Bills to pay, invitations for which to RSVP, phone calls to make and items to read go into this box. If this box gets too confusing, consider breaking paperwork into separate categories for each type of action. If this box gets too full too quickly, increase how often you go through it or reduce how much you do!

This box holds paperwork to be filed until you have time to file it. Either file the paperwork when this box is full or schedule weekly filing sessions. You’d be surprised how quickly filing can go when you do it regularly.

The out-box is for letters going out in the mail, items to give to people, things to take to work, etc. Items in this box must be completely ready to go. A bill must have an envelope, address and stamp. The out box does not need to be a box or bin; it can be your briefcase, purse or coat pocket. Find a place that’s close to your door that works for you.

Finally, remember to have a trashcan (as well as a recycling bin and shredder, if possible) near where you sort your paperwork.

Monday, January 31, 2011

At the Office: Clutter and Time Management

Here are two great articles about getting more organized at the office.

National Survey Reveals Workplace Clutter Tarnishes Professional Image and May Prevent Promotions

Don't gnaw your nails; organize your tasks to control worry

Saturday, January 29, 2011

GO Event at Impact Thrift

The Philadelphia Chapter of NAPO volunteered at Impact Thrift in Montgomeryville on Friday. What a great place!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Video from Gilda's Club GO Event

Here is a fun video of our Gilda's Club GO Event that Alix Longfellow made. Awesome!

Gildas Club Go Month Event 2011 from Alix Longfellow on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gilda's Club South Jersey Welcomes NAPO-GPC Volunteers

I had a great time volunteering with fellow Professional Organizers Joanne Rinaldi, Alix Longfellow and Carla Shipman (all NAPO-GPC members) at Gilda's Club South Jersey on Monday, January 24. We organized their storage room in four hours! Check it out:



Friday, January 21, 2011

Photos from Good Morning America

Here I am with my NAPO-GPC buddies in the audience of Good Morning America with George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts and Juju Chang! More photos coming soon.

Organizing for Tweens

I'm mentioned in this organizing article by Kerry Luksic:

Friday, January 14, 2011 Featured Organizer

I'm the featured Professional Organizer on today!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

NBC News Tonight with Lilliana Vazquez

Update: The segment didn't air on Wednesday night, but it should air tonight, time TBA.

I'll be appearing on the NBC News tonight (during the 5 p.m. hour, I think) with Lilliana Vazquez. She is doing a report on organizing your wardrobe. I hope you enjoy it!

Plus, here are some more organizing tips about closets and about saving money through organizing.

Organizing Products for Kids

There are a tons of great organizing products for kids. Stores like Ikea, The Container Store and Target have some great options, and you can find a lot of products by conducting and Internet search. Here are some fun options to store stuffed animals.

Boon Animal Bags

The Zoo


...and much more!

Kids Can Organize Too

If you have children, you know that January presents some unique organizing challenges. The influx of gifts from the December holidays, plus more “inside time,” can throw a wrench into your goal of a clutter-free home. Here are some ways to help tackle your kids’ clutter while teaching them to organize.

A place for everything. It’s difficult to keep up with children’s organization systems because their possessions change so often. Give everything a “home,” though, to make it easier for you and your child to stay organized. Use bins (opaque or clear) of different sizes for toys, shoes and any items that children can put away themselves. Depending on your children’s personalities, you can sort and label, or just be happy that they get things off of the floor. Choose your battles!

Establish a routine.
Once everything has a place, it becomes easier to create times to put away items. Try to establish habits like hanging up coats and bookbags when the kids come home, putting toys away before bedtime, preparing homework and bookbags for the next day the night before, cleaning bedrooms once a week, etc. It may be a battle, but your kids will learn from experience that life is much easier when they don’t waste their time looking for everything!

Teach your kids to let go. Learning not to hoard items is an important part of growing up. For younger children, you can make items they no longer use “disappear” when they are out of the house. For older children, involve them in the process of letting go, concentrating on the fact that quality over quantity is best and that their donations can help children in need.

Teach yourself to let go.
You realize you can’t keep every toy and item of clothing that your child has ever owned, but why is it so hard? Be honest with yourself about your space and how many sentimental items you can keep. The truth is that your child probably won’t want a bin of baby clothes when they go to college or move into tiny apartments in their twenties. Save only the most important items, things that will be fun (not tedious) to look at years later.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Recent Articles about Beating Clutter

It must be Get Organized Month (GO Month)! There are lots of great articles on how to stick with your new year's resolution to organize your life in 2011.

Organize Your Finances in Five Days:

Cleaning Out Your Makeup:

Organizing Over 50:

General Organizing To-Do List: