January, 2010

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Pretty Post-its – New Organizing Solutions

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Some days it pays to be a National Association of Professional Organizer (NAPO) member. This week I received a packet from 3M with samples of the new Post-it offerings we have been seeing on commercials lately. The not so subtle hint read, “6 Great Blog Topics for 2010.”

OK, I will share the love. These are my 3 favorites.

1. Durable Filing Tabs – 2″ square tabs that attach securely to any file folder, can be used for creating subcategories in hanging files. At Office Max, four assorted colors, 24 total tabs, $2.99.

2. Removable label pads- have full adhesive backs, are repositionable, and remove cleanly. Use these to label any size storage container. My favorite is the 225 piece neon assortment from Amazon at $9.40.

3. Post-it pockets – Lightweight plastic sleeves that peel and stick on the wall. These are pretty, antique floral prints in three sizes- receipt, bill, and letter.  I want the letter size pockets, 1 pink and 1 blue, $6.99.

It always helps to have more options for paper management and labeling storage. Thanks 3M for the presents.


How Do You Get Kids to Take Their Stuff?

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

This is the question I was asked at a recent GO Month presentation. The topic was Downsizing BEFORE You Have to Move.

The short answer – Set a Deadline! I give anyone reading this permission to make me the bad guy. Say, “My professional organizer is making me do it!”

Watch this short video for a true story about kids and their stuff from premier New Zealand organizer, Wendy Davie.

My mom saved stuff for her four children in her basement for 30+ years. When she was ready to move into a retirement center, she set the deadline for us to take our stuff or else.  Clothes from the 70′s were mildewed.  Hundreds of science fiction paperbacks were carted off (and pitched later.) There was no reason for her to have stored those things all that time.

Be tough! Set a deadline. If the stuff is important, children will take it.  If not, donate the things so someone else can use it.

3 Ways to Give Homage to Your LP Oldies

Monday, January 25th, 2010

You know the words to most of the songs on the oldies channel and can sing along when you are driving. Of course, that is only because your dad made you listen to that stuff when you were little. Right?

If you were a teenager before the 90′s, you are sure to have a collection of long playing record discs or  LP’s. They represent memories – some good, some not so good. You may even have a record player still hooked up your stereo system. If not, rather than simply consign your golden memories to a cupboard or a box in the attic, you may want to consider these options that let you enjoy the memories on a year round basis.

Acrylic record frame

1. Display your best loved albums on your wall as framed art.

Bags Unlimited has a selection of archival quality frames in either aluminum or wood, with 24 mat colors. You can choose to frame the album cover, a picture disc itself, or gatefold art (interior rectangular photos twice the album width.) These are priced from $32 – $57.

Bed, Bath and Beyond has a more modern take with an acrylic cover that is bolted over the jacket on a black background that frames the piece. This single option is also priced at $30.

2. Convert your LP sound tracks to CD or MP3 format.

If you feel lucky and are a techie, you can try to do this yourself.  DAK Industries offers an e-book tutorial for $10.

Otherwise, there are many of companies offering their services to you, for a price. LPtoCD.com will convert your first 10 LP’s to CD for $25 each. Reclaim Media advertises as  “the best, fastest and most affordable audio digitization service in the industry” and is less pricey – $12 per LP. Reclaim Media gives you the choice to convert to CD or MP3 format on a DVD.

LP Record Bowl

3. Turn your sturdy vinyl discs into home decor. This suggestion is only for those records you don’t care to listen to again.

Use the step-by-step instructions at this craft site to make odd-shaped bowls or wall art. Not sure if I would put food items in these without a liner.

Of course if you are ready to let go of your LP collection, you can sell on eBay or to a resale shop.  A good site to discover the value of your oldies for resale is Music Price Guide.

Box any remaining records vertically and store in a climate-controlled location. One day they may truly be antiques! Your great-grandchildren will bless you (if your children don’t throw them away first.)

“Organization Can be Messy”, Charlotte Adams Mysteries

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

These books just went on my “to read” list. How fun to see how an uptight, driven organizer solve mysteries! Each book includes organizing tips and tricks.

Organize Your Corpses, reprinted May 2007

August 22, 2009 review by bookeeBD

Maffini entertains with a delightful mystery that involves cleaning up a cluttered, aging mansion. When Charlotte is commissioned by Helen Henley to clean out a mansion she has just inherited, Charlotte gets more than she bargained for and ends up being the number one suspect when Helen is found dead at the mansion and Charlotte’s favorite pen is found at the scene.

The Cluttered Corpse, released April 2008


Organization can be messy. When Charlotte Adams agrees to help Emmy Lou Rheinbeck organize her stuffed animal collection, she never imagines she’ll find herself fending off pranksters whose shenanigans lead to murder.

Death Loves a Messy Desk, released May 2009

April 24, 2009 review by BikerLibrarian13:

Charlotte Adams is a control freak, a busybody, and a compulsive organizer who likes to neaten up everything she can get her hands on. While these qualities may make her somewhat irritating to her friends, they also make her a stellar professional organizer and de-clutterer. They also get her in over her head when she is hired by the office manager of Quovadicon to clean up the desk of an employee whose messiness is leading the rest of the office into chaos.

Mary Jane Maffini continues to entertain readers in her third mystery featuring Charlotte Adams. This is a mystery full of quirky, humorous, and engaging characters, many of whom are as frustrated with Charlotte’s investigative compulsion as she is with it herself.

I will get started reading these three so I am ready for the next book in the series. If Ms. Maffini remains true to form, we will have the continuation this summer.

Ask NOT What Organizing Can Do For You…, Better Yet DO Ask!

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Perhaps intelligence can lessen the consequences of ADD tendencies? Maybe, maybe not.  My father labeled me a “scatterbrain”, but I was able to excel in school and in my first jobs. The real challenge in my life began when I became a military wife and eventually a mom of four. To survive, I was forced to develop systems that would guide our home life as well as our packing and moving 11 times in 20 years.

Just when I thought I had it all figured out, my family began to experience the added turmoil of cancer diagnosis and treatment, anorexia, mental illness, and death of parents. I trust in a big God, but had to tell Him, “This is really too much, Lord!”

Although I was not thrilled with these situations , they have stretched me and given me an added measure of compassion.  I know what it is like to feel buffeted by situations you can’t control, to feel helpless and hopeless. I also know that to do what I can no matter how little that is, is all that is required of me.  Small actions taken consistently can produce extraordinary results!

My desire for you is that you…

  • Get clear about what you really want. What is that? Do you want to be able to find what you need when you need it, to have only furniture sitting on the floor, to enjoy a calm retreat at the end of a busy day, or to finally get rid of paper piles… what is it? In other words, why are you reading a post about organizing?
  • Know why you want it. Be specific. How will that result improve your life?  What will it allow you to do? How would that feel?
  • Stop allowing the past to dictate your future.
  • Eliminate the physical and mental clutter that is holding you back.
  • Make room for something new in your life – a new vocation, volunteer effort, or creative pursuit.
  • Be realistic about where you are now.
  • Dare to dream about where you want to be. Expand your possibilities.
  • Do not be a victim, or a survivor, but be ready to thrive.
  • Let go of those things and attitudes that are blocking your success.

Once you have taken an honest look at where you are and have decided you don’t want to stay there, allow me to be a part of the solution. On my home page, you can request the F.R.E.E. 60 Tips to Organize Your Life.  Use that as a quick guide to de-clutter, take control of your time, and save an hour a day.

You will find that taking those small positive steps will increase your self confidence. That begins a ripple effect that makes you want to take the next step and the next – rather like painting your living room and then seeing that your old ratty couch doesn’t fit anymore.


Let me know what tips you decided to take action on first. I want to be able to cheer you on. As the L’Oreal commercial says, “You are worth it!”

Clutterer vs Hoarder, What’s the Difference?

Monday, January 11th, 2010
Hoarders A&ETV

Hoarders A&ETV

The A&E show, Hoarders, does not give viewers the option to walk away untouched. Whether you are shocked, saddened, or can relate to the accumulation of things, it is impossible not be moved by the plight of these homeowners.   So how do you know if you or someone you know is a hoarder?

According to Mike Nelson, author of Stop Clutter from Stealing Your Life and originator of Clutterless Recovery Groups, less than 1% of the population is a true hoarder. He explains the difference this way:

“A hoarder cannot make rational decisions about what is useful and what is not. Thus, the hoarder often saves garbage or soiled items. If you don’t you probably aren’t. You are probably “just” a clutterer, like the rest of us. I have worked with hoarders in my consulting capacity and it is a very sad and difficult task to help hoarders.

A hoarder obsesses about her stuff and is compelled to collect it. A clutterer just lets it pile up. We don’t give it much thought. It seems to flow into our lives without any effort on our part.

A hoarder is usually unaware of anything being wrong. If you are concerned about your clutter, you are in good shape.”

Read the rest of Mike’s article here.

Free From Life Clutter! Throw Out 50 Things – Book Review

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
Available at Amazon, $20

Available at Amazon, $20

Do you wonder if you can ever streamline, but are afraid to throw out something that is important? Life coach Gail Blanke’s book Throw Out FIFTY Things might be just the thing you need for that extra push!

This book is not only about clearing out physical clutter, as freeing as that is. Once you take the first steps of tackling drawers and shelves that are holding debris from actions and attitudes long past, you are pumped up to do the real work of pitching the emotional baggage that is weighing you down. Gail’s vision is “to empower men and women to live truly exceptional lives.”

What is your “life plaque”? What is holding you back from, as the Army puts it, being all that you can be? This book is a great motivator to just get started!