September, 2009 browsing by month


Downsizing: Tablecloths, Blankets, and Towels…, Oh My!

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Whether moving to a smaller space or just wanting less stuff, getting started on the downsizing process can be the hardest part.   Choosing an area that has few small items and is relatively emotion-free is the key.  For that reason, the linen closet is a perfect place to start.

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Life Changes Are Stressing Me Out!

Monday, September 28th, 2009

There’s one thing on this earth that will never change: everything is changing.

Some change is really good.  The leaves’ changing to beautiful colors signals a drop in temperature that is always refreshing after the heat of summer.

Seeing children grow out of those annoying phases into respectful and caring people is a wonderful change to witness.

Normal is Just...

Then there are changes that suck all your energy and make you wonder if there is any hope for a return to normal (whatever normal is… Patsy Clairmont says Normal is a Setting on Your Dryer!)

The American Massage Therapy Association has a computer-scored version of a Life Change Stress Test on their website.  This test was was developed by Dr. Thomas H. Holmes and Dr. Richard H. Rahe.  Scoring is in LCU’s (Life Change Units) with ranges for low, medium and high stress.  Of course, a massage will always help!

By all means, take the test.  If you score more than 300 at least you will feel justified in feeling claustrophobic, trapped, and like you are in a tunnel with no light ahead.  I’ve been there.

Now look at the things you checked on your list.  Is there one you can influence or reverse?  Is there a circumstance that a professional can help you with?  That might be a doctor, a psychologist, a teacher/tutor, or even a professional organizer.  Don’t be a lone ranger, get help!

Maybe the help you need is the listening ear of a friend.  Write down a list of your friends and call one per day.  Every friend can field one call per week.  If not, you need a new friend.

One really good thing about change? Nothing lasts forever.  The sun’ll  come out tomorrow -  Little Orphan Annie.   Tomorrow is another day -  Scarlet O’Hara.   Most of the stress factors  listed are short term.  You will see light in the tunnel soon.  Hangeth thou in there.  We are in this change thing together.

Drop Back and Punt – Photo Sorting

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Recently I was working with a gal who had quite a few photos she wanted to sort.  The good thing was most were still in the photoshop sleeves and contained in boxes.  The bad news was that the photos represented quite a few years of memories.

At first, we labeled photo boxes by year and tried to identify each sleeve by year.  Unfortunately, there were no mileposts that my client could use as clues to the years taken.  I would use my children’s ages, or the house we were in at the time as determinants.  Her children, however, were grown with young children.  She still lived in the family home of fifty+ years.

We decided to switch gears and sort by category instead.  The categories we used were:  children’s families (one pile for each child), trips with friends, church friends, and hometown visits.  That way there was less hesitation in sorting.

She wanted to send most of the photos to her  children anyway, so we were  halfway Powersort-medthere after sorting.  The Creative Memories Power Sort Box held the photos for each child (up to 2400.) The kids could mix and match on their own.  My client could select the photos that she wanted to keep and offer the rest to friends.

In organizing, if at first you don’t succeed, sometimes you just have to punt.  In this case, it worked!

Hey! Where’d this mess come from?

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

That is what I asked myself more than once yesterday.  In the morning I gathered some of my favorite storage containers to share at my “Clear the Clutter!” workshop.  That meant emptying stuff onto the floor, in a drawer, in a cupboard, etc.

In the afternoon as I prepared to leave for Panera (yes, teacher and attendees ate in!) I kept finding all these messy drawers.  For a split second, I was thinking, “Hey!…”, then I remembered why things weren’t properly corralled.  I had to sort through other stuff to find what I needed.  I also went to reach for things that were not in the proper place and found… air.  Frustrating!

The experience was a good reminder of just how freeing it is to have homes for my belongings.  That home is more than assigning a drawer or cupboard.  Containers are essential to keep like things separated and easy to spot.

I spent my morning putting things back in order. Whew! Glad to have my neat spaces back!

Storage Tip: Use Decorative Greeting Card Box

Monday, September 21st, 2009

If you have ever been in one of my workshops you know that I love decorative storage options.  There is something about a beautiful box, funky trunk, or colorful tote that makes me want to put stuff in it.  Isn’t that a good thing to choose for a container you will use often and keep in plain sight?


I have been using a BigSo Box (11”L x 11”W X 6.5”H) from the Container Store to organize my greeting cards/notecards.

NOTE: This item is on sale now for half off at $5.99 through October 4th.

I labeled clear snap envelopes with the various categories:

Anniversary                         Baby
Birthday                              Blank
Congratulations                   Get Well
Holiday                                Sympathy
Thank You                           Extra Envelopes/stickers

Then I was nosing around Office Max and found a Divoga 19 Pocket case file.  Black and white retro look… love it!  With measurements   9.5”L X 4.5”W X 7”H, this will fit most large greeting cards. The only drawback is the width.  This container will work for 30-40 cards max.  Notecards might not fit in here.

I think I will fill this one with the birthday cards for our family and friends for the year.   If I use the 20% coupon at Hallmark for this purchase in December, I will feel justified in sending “the very best”!

This is what organizing is really about – saving time and money, surrounding yourself with beauty, using your  resources to touch others, and feeling great about it!

Your Trash Can Be Someone’s FREE Treasure

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

As a professional organizer, I want to give several options to clients who are ready to downsize or to just get rid of larger items.  One very effective channel for connecting givers to receivers is Freecycle.  This is a brief description of the organization from their website

The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,801 groups with 6,576,000 members across the globe. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them’s good people). Membership is free.


To participate, find the nearest Freecycle network to you on their website.

Fill out a membership form.

Then begin to post items you want to offer or to respond to offers for free stuff. The postings are via email.

A word to the wise:  Freecycle allows you to receive offers as they are made, in a digest, or to not receive offers on a regular basis. Here in the greater Columbus, OH area, my email filled up quickly.

You can always try the real time posting to get a feel for the process and change it later.  Just be prepared for a deluge of offers.  These can be a blast to read… for a short time!

Your Magic Wand Goal

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

September is one of those “new start” months. Hopefully, the summer has been a slower pace, with time off from the normal demands of family, work, and school.

Then the weather turns cooler and kids go back to school. This is a perfect time to begin a project that will take 3 months or so.

Magic WandBefore you jump into something NEW, take a look at your present systems for your home and office. Do you feel confident that you are using your time wisely? Is your home maintenance routine working for you? How would you rate your communication within your family unit?

This may be a good time to evaluate and shore up the everyday workings in your home or office. If you could wave a magic wand, what result would you command? Set that as your goal for these three months with a deadline of 24 November.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may find someone who is willing to lend you his/her expertise in exchange for your help with something you excel in.

My request to you: Did you write down your magic wand goal? List three actions that will bring you closer to that reality. What is one task that you can do now – with no preliminaries necessary? Put that on your calendar and keep the appointment with yourself. When that is done, choose another strategic (an immediately doable) task. Try for three per week and you will be amazed at the progress you make toward your ideal relationship/communication/surroundings!

You will feel victorious, vainglorious, and just plain glad that you did!