April, 2010

...now browsing by month


Clear the Clutter! Part 3 – Keeping Stuff Contained

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

This past Monday I was giving a presentation at a local Senior Center. I met Terry who found me online and had several printed copies of my blog in her hand. Then she asked, “I found your blogs Clear the Clutter Parts 1 and 2, but not Part 3, did you write Part 3 yet?”

I was embarrassed to have to answer, “No, I have not.”

So, you know what’s coming… by golly, this is Part 3! Maintenance doesn’t have to be a bad word. Use these tips to keep your newly organized space contained and going strong.

Room to live

7 Keep it Organized Tips to making “main-tain” more than two rhyming four-letter words:

  1. Store items by categories. Name the category so you and everyone else know what goes in there. Label, if necessary. Sample categories: first aid kit, cold weather accessories (hats, gloves, scarves), everyday office supplies, Stationery/Bill paying supplies, hair care.
  2. Keep items close to where they are used so you don’t have to travel very far to put them away.
  3. Use containers that fit the item to be stored in size, convenience of access, quality of décor. Ask, “Does this container make me want to put things in it, or is it too hard?”
  4. Set limits on how many you truly need. You are the manager here. Too many extraneous things make it hard to find what you really use and love! How many margarine tubs can you use in a month? That’s enough.
  5. Commit to putting things in their homes that you have designated.  Think “There’s no place like home…there’s no place like home.” Click your ruby slippers and let that object go home.
  6. Gather things that have escaped, or are on permanent vacation from their homes into a “Move” box. Then walk around your house delivering them to the doorstep of the room where they belong. Put each one in its home the next time you enter that room.
  7. If you have kids, make a family play date to do some straightening. In each child’s room let him/her be the manager and tell the “employees” where things go. Hold your tongue, mom or dad. Any headway you make is an improvement on what was before. Other children may make some good suggestions that can better be heard by their sibling.

Maintenance issues often are solved in the organizing process.  When systems are put into place in deference to personality and present habits, the odds become much greater that we can “keep it up.” If you are having lots of difficulties maintaining your organized space, it could be that the system itself needs tweaking.

Organization doesn’t have to be boring. Use color and style to ratchet up your desire to keep your space appealing to the eye and inviting as a fun place to hang out.

Final thoughts:

  • Enjoy your space as you currently have it arranged.
  • Be present in NOW.
  • When you leave an area, look for something that you can deliver to the room you are headed to.
  • Try to spend 10 minutes a day putting things away.
  • Devote a concentrated 2 hours per month working on one area in particular.

Living and working in an organized space is more a process than a destination. Over time as you find systems that work for you and are committed to keeping it up, you will see the gradual change. If you need more support, find a professional organizer in your area on the National Association of Professional Organizers webpage. We are a diverse group but all have a passion to help others live balanced and productive lives.

A Bit of Wisdom

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

The greatest distance in the world is the 14 inches from our minds to our hearts.

Agnes Baker Pilgrim

Knowledge is one thing. Belief and commitment is another.

Do you ever catch yourself saying, “I know…, but…”? I have. That is evidence that the knowledge has not yet found lodging in our heart. No commitment translates into no action.

ThuRsday Recycle and Reuse: The Waste Not Center

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
ThuRs Recycle and Reuse

ThuRs Recycle and Reuse

What do 14″ green, 10″ blue and 8″ orange plastic balls, bins of odd Styrofoam shapes and hundreds of black porcelain bowls have in common? These are just a few of the objects donated to and available at the Waste Not Center, on the west side of Columbus, OH.

This center is a wonderful opportunity for Franklin County residents to help teachers while keeping tons of materials from becoming solid waste. The program is a win-win-win for environmentally conscious residents, students/teachers/artists, and the Department of Sanitation.

The Waste Not Center (WNC) receives donations from individuals and businesses of supplies that would otherwise be discarded and makes them available to teachers, artists and non-profit organizations at no charge other than a small annual membership fee.

Students pay $35-45, the teachers/artists’ fee is $75, while entire schools can register for $295 for the year.

Some of the more common items that can be found at the center are paper products, art supplies, decorating samples, office supplies, silk flowers, fabric, carpet samples, and Styrofoam. Then there are the surprises like a 6′ tall faux orchid tree, dozens of safety vests, and a 40″ faux moss wreath. Photos of current inventory items can be viewed here.

The Waste Not Center is open:

  • Every Thursday, 2:00pm – 6:00pm.
  • 2nd Saturday of each month, 9:00 am – 11:30am

It is located at 2830B Fisher Rd, Columbus OH 43204 (map).

To make donating easy and accessible to all, there are bins for Neighborhood Drop Offs at 10 locations around Columbus.

Now you can feel good about letting go of those craft supplies that you will never use, knowing that a teacher will be thrilled to have them. All donations are tax deductible.

More posts in this series:

A Bit of Wisdom

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Generosity consists not in the sum given, but the manner in which it is bestowed.


Selfish motives often hide behind the guise of generosity. These motives can include bribery, assuaging of guilt, a symbol of status, or a desire to control another. In reality, these motives make generosity a “gift” with an agenda.

Three questions we can ask to measure our motives and confirm a true gift of generosity are:

  • Is the gift made quietly or with fanfare?
  • Does the gift spring from love and kindness above all?
  • Will the gift be welcomed and seen as an affirmation of the worth of the receiver?

Be Organized for a Medical Emergency

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

How can you be organized and ready for a medical emergency, you say? The answer is – not totally, but having the everyday workings of your household in order makes a big difference!

When I read Erin Doland’s  April 8th blog “In Cases of Emergency, Being Uncluttered and Organized Can Help”, I was identifying with her being thankful for an uncluttered home. I don’t have a cat and am not in a wheelchair, but recently had outpatient surgeries one leg at a time with two weeks in between. DR’s orders were to stay off the leg of the week, keep the leg elevated, limit lifting, etc.

Like Erin, I found myself grateful for an uncluttered floor so I could walk like Chester in Gunsmoke and yet not trip over piles of stuff. Other basics that have been of great help are:

  • First aid supplies and medicines in one place where I can find bandages and pain meds easily.
  • Food staples on hand so my husband Jeff has only had to shop as we run out.
  • Knowing where things are in our condo so if  I need something out of reach,  I can direct Jeff to an exact location to retrieve it.

“Being uncluttered and organized is great during regular times, but can be a huge asset during those times when life puts you on a roller coaster,” Erin writes. ” Significant ups and downs are easier to manage when the day-to-day activities aren’t already out of control.”

I totally agree. One more reason to take charge now before life throws a new curve your way!

This is Your Life: Organized

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Do you embrace the words “priorities” and “goals”, or do they fill you with fear?

Are you afraid that if you took a long look at where your time is spent, you would be disheartened and disillusioned? You can’t see the merry-go-round of life slowing down, so you keep on running as fast as you can?

Credit: David Salafia/Flickr (CC-ND)

We Americans tend to fill our lives with so much clutter that we cannot see what is truly important. Even our children have sports and music lessons and are going in so many different directions that the parents have to go separate ways on the weekends to make it all happen.

The same principles that professional organizers use to help people dig out from under all the extra “stuff” can be applied to life choices as well. Rather than use the terms “priorities” and “goals”, think about going on a treasure hunt.

Priorities and goals: a treasure hunt

What are the top three “treasures” in your life; what do you value most? Some answers that come to mind are: family, spiritual life, making a difference, financial security, health. Write down your top three.

Now honestly evaluate your attitudes (the way you think) and your activities (the things you do) based on what you have just said are the most important things – the “treasures” – in your life. How do your attitudes and activities line up?

Treasure your priorities

This is the sorting stage of organizing. Putting the like things together and seeing “What you really have!” Sometimes just looking at your life clutter in the light of day is enough to toss some things.

Next is the painful part – purging. There may even be some good things in your life that must go to make room for the best. We all have the same 24 hours per day. After sleeping that amounts to 960 minutes. If you have a full-time job, only half of that is discretionary – 480 minutes per day.

Where do you want to invest your time and energy so that you are true to your values?

Get off the merry-go-round

There are more steps to the organizing process, but we will stop at this third one: assigning a home. Where in your life schedule will you make a place for the people, attitudes and activities you have identified as your treasures? Make appointments with yourself and others that honor your decisions.

One of my favorite childhood songs is titled “Horace the Horse”. Horace is a horse on the merry-go-round, always going up and down, round and round. He is sad because he is the very last horse, always following others. Then one day he looks around and says, “Gosh! Oh gee! I’m the very first horse on the merry-go-round, ’cause the others are a’followin’ me!”

Home is where your heart is

Your attitude, your decisions can influence the lives of others in profound ways when you take the initiative to identify what is truly of value and determine to follow your own path.

ThuRsday Recycle and Reuse: Crayons and 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

Thursday, April 15th, 2010
ThuRs Recycle and Reuse

ThuRs Recycle and Reuse

“120,000 pounds of crayons [are] made every day in this country. Crayons are a petroleum-based product that shouldn’t be going into landfills,” says LuAnne Foty of Wayzata, MN, founder of Crazy Crayons.

Who knew?  For years I pitched my children’s old crayons and purchased them new ones again in August.

Grade school students can apply what they are learning about environmental concerns, and make it personal with crayon recycling.

There may even be time left to involve kids this way in the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day coming up on April 22nd. You can check out Earth Day activities in Columbus, OH coordinated by Green Columbus here.

These are some ideas to use should you choose to promote crayon recycling in your area:

Collect, box and ship the crayons as they are to:

721 Village Road
Pelican Lake, Wisconsin 54463

If you live in or close to Florida, use the following address:

14180 SW 30th St. Road
Ocala, FL  34481

Leave the wrappers on so those employees with learning disabilities can tell the difference between black, purple and blue crayons.

Using USPS priority flat rate shipping cartons might be the most cost effective way to ship. A large flat rate 12x12x5.5” box ships for $14.50 up to 70 lbs.

Have fun and save the earth in a colorful way at the same time!

More posts in this series: