September, 2010 browsing by month


Get Ready, Get Creative…Organize!

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

“Three of these things belong together
Three of these things are kinda the same
Can you guess which one just doesn’t belong here…”

If your kids are Gen X’ers or early millenials, you are now singing the end of this Sesame Street song in your head. Of course, to make it a ‘no brainer’, three things are items of clothing and the other is a rubber ducky. There definitely was one obviously right answer.

Not so in organizing. One of the key principles when organizing is, “Put like things together.” Just like in the song, right? Not quite.

A principle is a broad truth that is then applied to a specific case. That is what makes organizing such a creative and fun act. There is not one “right” way to sort and categorize objects.

Two people may key on totally different characteristics to decide which things are alike. The distinguishing characteristic may be:

  • Shape – An extra long knife can only fit in a certain drawer with long utensils, not with other knives.
  • Function – The office tools that write are grouped separately from the adhesives.
  • Color – An artist keeps all green acrylics together to make choosing the right shade simpler.
  • Composition – Cotton fabrics are stored and used together, as are stretchy synthetics.
  • Sleeve length – Hanging sleeveless, short -sleeved and long-sleeved blouses in groups can speed choosing an outfit.
  • Season used – A tablecloth that is specific to a particular holiday may be stored with seasonal items rather than with everyday use linens.
  • Owner – Teenagers can be territorial with their CD’s of choice.

Once you decide which things are alike, you will know the dimensions needed to store each category. Then you are ready to assign a home and choose a container. Guess what that means? Shopping!! You can’t get any more creative and fun as that!

Go ahead, sing Sesame Street songs all the way to the store and back and share your ideas and experience with us in the comments.

Product Review: Greeting Card Organizers

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

When I worked at Hallmark, my curiosity was piqued by the gal who said she was shopping for her husband’s Christmas present. Her hands were full of greeting cards. She went on to explain that every year she picked out cards for each of her husband’s relatives and filed them by their birth month.

What a thoughtful and practical gift! Better yet, she used one of her 20% off total purchase coupons. I thought she was one smart lady.

You may not purchase cards a year in advance, but may have leftovers, some “Thank You” cards, and a few blank all occasion cards. You can get creative and group cards either by the month they will be used, or by sentiment using one of these resources.

Organizer Books (by the month)

These books have a total of 12 pockets (one per month). You list people with special days on the month’s pocket and file any cards you find ahead of time. Be sure to look at your monthly list before you go to the grocery store or card shop.

*Franklin C. CoveyGreeting Card Organizer by Gina B. Designs , 7.5″ W x 9″ H, $25.00

Greeting Cards Organizer Book by Current

*CurrentGreeting Card Organizer Book #604345, 8″ X 10 “, $8.99
This one wins my vote for good size, low cost, and trendy design.

Organizer Boxes (by the occasion/sentiment)

These boxes work well for the person who likes to send cards for many occasions. The cards are filed by category rather than month. The categories I use are: anniversary, baby, birthday, congrats/encouragement, get well , thank you, thinking of you, and sympathy. I use my Tickler File to keep the monthly cards with a list at hand.

*Lillian VernonGreeting Card Organizer Box, SKU: 013628
Was $9.98 on sale for $5.98
Pretty, but not sure of sturdiness.

IRIS Greeting Card Box

*IRIS Greeting Card Box, $11.95 or set of 2 for $19.99
Clear plastic means indestructible  and perfect for a closet or cupboard (not beautiful.)

*BigSo White Card Organizer from The Container Store, $14.00
This box is a heavy duty cardboard with reinforced corners, is neutral so can go anywhere in the home, and has large

I use a fern green BigSo Box with plastic envelopes labeled with categories as my greeting card organizer.

Why even bother organizing cards? If you can find what you need when you need it, you are organized.  Don’t bother.

If you find yourself hunting, stop wasting time and organize. Storing the same kinds of things in one specific spot is the way to do it. You can start with greeting cards and move on from there.

Do you have a greeting card system that is working for you? Please share with us in the comments!

Victory! Purged Clothes Lead to Organized Closet

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Recently I received this wonderful email from a friend and O4L reader. With her permission, I am letting you read over my shoulder. I hope you are encouraged and inspired to make needed changes in your life.

Dear Martha,

Here’s a praise report and some good [news] about how the LORD has given me the needed desire and encouragement to purge and organize my clothes and closet.

I had wanted to lose weight to be healthy and The LORD led me to a ‘diet plan’ that has really made a big difference.  I am down 22 lbs. and have reached my goal with 2 lbs to spare. In the meantime - the lost pounds and inches – meant lots of my clothes needed to go -  He has  given me a new mindset -  that this is the healthy weight for me and I’m making the lifestyle change to stay within two pounds of it.

So I no longer feel the need to save the larger sizes “just in case”. When I lost the first 10- or 11 pounds I gave away some of my ” too big for me but in good shape” clothing to friends and family.  It was a joy to pass things on to others (who were blessed) and to have less “stuff” cluttering up my closet.

Then two days ago – after losing this final 11 lbs - I tried on every piece of clothing I own – summer - winter – all of it and I’m actually purging at least 2/3 of my wardrobe!!

We have always had limited closet space and even though I’m not one to buy tons of clothes -I did save old ones for WAY too long and  I have had to use the  spare bedroom closet to store seasonal clothing.

Both the spare bedroom closet and our closet are so organized now. I  purged every part – old shoes – purses – belts you name it – WOW what a euphoric feeling on all fronts !!!  Also I’ve done what you’ve mentioned and used the summer sales to buy a few ‘nice replacement items’ in the new sizes – but only a few.

I still have to find homes for some of the clothing I think friends might like – but all that is decent and not something specifically thought of for individuals  is boxed up and in my car to be donated.

YOUR message is timely and I’m blessed by God’s grace to make healthy changes which I know are improving our quality of life.   MOVING Forward into a lifestyle of organization.  Thanks for your help and inspiration.

Blessings, Cyndy

Help! I Can’t Organize, There’s Not Enough Space!

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

In a recent consumer survey when asked, “What would you say is the biggest challenge to improving your home’s organization?” These were the answers:

  • 32.9% – Lack of space in the home
  • 27.3% – finding the time
  • 25.2% – too much stuff
  • 6.7% – not sure what product to use
  • 2.7% – products at local retailer don’t meet my need
  • 5.1% – other

Lack of space is #1. For real? When you don’t have places to put all your belongings, the problem can either be:

To illustrate the difference, imagine you have a good-sized kitchen. Your cabinets hold what you need to prepare and serve food. Then you decide you want more than one set of dishes. You decide one set for each season would be perfect. Suddenly, the cabinet space seems to have shrunk. You have too much stuff for the given space.

On the other hand, the galley of a small ship will have actual limited space to store kitchen-related items. Now you must critically evaluate the necessity of each item before you award a place in the tight storage available.

Where does your stuff to space quotient fall? How you would answer this question:

Have you truly pared down belongings to those items you use and love?

How much of what you are trying to cram into your living or working space are items you…

… have not used in last 2 years
… don’t really like but are keeping because they were gifts
… think you might need someday
… have no specific purpose in mind for
… would pitch if you had time to sort through

If you have quite a few things that fit into these categories, they do not pass the USE IT, LOVE IT OR LOSE IT test. It is time for a purging party.

The second question to ask yourself is:

Are you effectively using every square foot of the space you do have?

There are a few tricks that interior designers and professional organizers alike use to maximize storage in a truly small space.
These include:

  • going vertical
  • finding unused air
  • using dual-purpose furnishings

Read more in my post “Small Space Solutions” and listen in to Kelly Galea’s tips on Sept 8th, see events above.

The first step in any problem solving sequence is to properly identify exactly what the problem is. Hopefully, from this article you have pinpointed whether your problem is too much stuff or an actual limited space situation. Now you are in a position to take corrective action.