March 12, 2014

A New Logo for Organized Artistry!

When I started my business twelve years ago, I designed my own logo. I have a BA in Art/Graphic design so I knew I could put typography together and not offend anyone. I didn't have the proper computer programs to create it so I took advantage of the computers at Kinko's and created my logo there.

My old logo:


I liked the openness of the 'Artistry' font (Caslon Open Face) and that it contrasted well with the font I selected for 'Organized.'

The above logo has gotten a ton of compliments over the years which always made me feel happy and that my design skills had not gone to waste. But, after 12 years in business, it was time for a change. I hired the talented Kate McMillan of Outbox Online Design to move my company, brand and logo forward into 2014.

I was nervous--what ideas would Kate come up with? Would I like them? Change isn't easy--even for Professional organizers!

My new Logo:


I have Logo Love...


Most of all, I love that scribble. When I first saw it, I knew this was the logo for me. To me, the scribble represents chaos--any type of chaos, whether it's an overcrowded closet or a mile-high stack of papers leading to that state of being 'Organized.' It's 'Chaos' turning into 'Organized Artistry.'


Here's the vertical design...


Love that one, too. The scribble isn't attached but it still resonates.

By the way, Kate is also redesigning my website. Wait until you see it...


March 6, 2014

Confessions of an Email Hoarding Professional Organizer

Hi. My name is Stacey and I am a reforming email hoarder.

Did I mention I was also a Professional Organizer?

That's OK--laugh if you want to. I laugh every time I tell someone this story.

How did I get to be an email hoarder?

All it takes is being a very busy woman with lots of interests and one email address for both business and personal emails. Throw in two young kids, not enough time in one's day, and being a visual person and the emails began to accumulate.

"I'll look back at them later." I said.

"If I put them in a folder, I'll forget about them." I figured.

"I'll chip away at them little by little." I promised myself.

Yes, I looked back at a bunch and yes, I did chip away at some but the emails were coming in faster than I could take action upon them.

By February, I had a thousand emails in my Inbox. Yes, you read that right--1000--one thousand. That's A LOT of emails...

Organized Artistry is getting a facelift this year--a new logo and a newly-designed website and blog. My web designer mentioned that I needed to change the hosting company of my website due to compatibility issues so I did the domain transfer. The last step was to have my email flow from my old host to my new host.

So last week, I got on the phone with my new host to help me take that last step. What the person on the other end didn't ask me was whether or not I had any emails in my Inbox. When the email was transferred to the new host's server, it wiped my Inbox clean. As you can imagine, I almost had a heart attack. After lacing into him for this oversight I asked how it could be fixed. He told me I had to call my old hosting service for some coding and some numbers and then I had to call my new host back with that information.

I wasn't happy, but I did it. I called my old web host and explained the problem. We accessed my inbox through 'webmail' and yes, all the emails were still there. He put me on hold for a few minutes so he could figure out the best solution.

While on hold with the tech guy, I had an organizing revelation--an 'a ha' moment. Did I really want all 1000 emails in my Inbox? The answer was 'No.' If I were helping a client, I would have guided them to make the same choice. It would be like moving to a new home and taking everything with you even though you didn't need it. I felt the time had come--this would be a good opportunity to 'de-clutter' my Inbox. A colossal purge.

To quote the song from Frozen, "Let it go..."


Although it took me a long time and the process still isn't complete, I sorted through all 1000 emails and forwarded one-quarter of them to an alternate email account. Over the next few days, I'll be forwarding them to my stacey@organizedartistry.com account and either filing them in a folder or taking action upon them. I purged old newsletters and correspondence. I'll now be filing emails I had once lost track of. From now on, I'm going to do better by incorporating one of the most important steps in getting organized--maintenance.

Although Professional Organizers are fairly organized, we sometimes experience similar situations to our clients. It's the old saying, "The shoemaker's son has no shoes." Sometimes we can't keep up, either. And that's OK. We're human and so are you. Please take a moment to look through your Inbox. Delete a few emails. Create folders for others and remember--even Professional Organizers need to get organized!




February 16, 2014

25 Organizing Tips to Survive an Ice Storm

It's been a bad winter. Really bad. Snow, ice, freezing temperatures for weeks on end have made life more challenging this season. Just like any other season, it's important to be prepared with the tools to get through the changes in weather--shovels, rock salt, snow brushes, warm gloves and boots--the list goes on. My guest blogger, Moreen Torpy of De-Clutter Coach in Ontario, Canada knows a thing or two about being prepared for cold weather. Today she's sharing with us 'Southerners' 25 ways to survive an ice storm. I hope we never have to use any of these tips, but they're here for you just in case...


This winter has brought more than our fair share of ice storms and the resulting power outages, cold, inability to access transportation and all manner of other inconveniences.

After the realization sinks in that this might be a longer experience than you’d like it to be, after realizing you’re very cold will be the thought of what to do with food so it doesn’t become waste.

The following are lessons I learned from surviving the 1998 ice storm in Montreal:

Food:

1. Keep a few large plastic storage containers or clean garbage bins available to store your freezer contents outside without power. You can always chip off the ice to get into them when necessary.

2. Fill your BBQ propane tank at the end of summer so it can be used in case of winter emergency to cook whatever you have in your freezer, warm soup or boil water for coffee/hot chocolate/tea. Never use your BBQ or propane stove indoors. Set up in your garage if you have one, or outside

3. Use fresh food first, frozen food second and canned food last so you eliminate as much waste as possible. Cook whatever can be cooked when you can, then eat it cold if necessary. This will ensure less waste and provide as healthy a diet as possible under the circumstances.

4. Ensure you have a manual can opener and know where it is should you need it.

5. Don’t ever get rid of your fondue pot! It can be very useful to warm soup or water. Check now if you have fuel for it, and if not purchase a couple of bottles. Keep them with the pot so you know where they are.

6. Don’t cook anything that takes a lot of cleaning up, such as cheese. Remember, you don’t have hot water to do that right now.

Light/Heat:

7. Collect all candles and batteries from wherever you have them around your house and centralize them in one place. Inventory what you have and purchase what you still need—do you have D-batteries for your flashlight? C-batteries for your portable radio? What about candles? The dollar-store brand won’t last very long not to mention the mess they create when molten wax spills over. Keep something to light the candles with them, whether matches or a BBQ lighter.

8. Find any oil lamps you may have, purchase oil for them and keep them where they’re easily found when needed.

9. Find a mirror and put it with your candles. It doubles the light from lit candles as well as the heat produced. You might also toast marshmallows over the flames if you’re feeling adventurous. Maybe even assemble some s’mores!

Grooming:

10. Get used to the idea it may be a while until you can shower, shave or wash your hair. If there’s a shopping centre nearby with power, you could go to the hairdresser or take your hair dryer and wash your hair there. And perhaps even wash yourself as well. Hot water is better than cold any day for these personal care tasks.

Home:

11. Turn off as many lights and anything else electrical as you remember having on before the power failure and turn on your front porch light. This way, when the power comes back on, you won’t be as much of a drain on the infrastructure, and you’ll know immediately from outside if you have light.

12. Close doors to rooms you’re not using to keep any available heat in those you are using. This is a good time to congregate in as few rooms as necessary to take advantage of each other’s body heat.

13. Close off the entrance to the room where your gas fireplace is, if you have one, and spend your time there. This will keep the heat in that room and not where it won’t be doing any good.

14. Before abandoning your home, pour windshield washer fluid into the drains and toilet to prevent the pipes from freezing when your home has no heat. Also open faucets to allow a small trickle of water to help keep it moving.

Vehicle:

15. Always keep your vehicle’s fuel topped up. If there’s no power, the gas pumps won’t work. Additionally there’ll be less space for moisture to form in the car’s gas tank.

16. Be very careful when removing ice from your vehicle. You don’t want to damage it by being too aggressive

17. Keep your vehicle’s trunk as empty as possible in case you need it to store used cookware that can’t be washed until you have plenty of hot water. You might also store frozen food in your car until you need it.

Varia:

18. Keep an amount of cash in your home—bank machines won’t work without power.

19. If your local shopping centre has WIFI, take your device charger(s) with you and use them there. You might also hang out there with your phone, e-reader or laptop. The food court, while mostly junk food, can provide a hot meal if this is your only choice for one.

20. Don't bundle up in all your clothes to sleep. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, however you will warm up faster under the covers with just your usual nightwear or just something a bit warmer on. If you share a bed, take advantage of each other’s warmth. This is a good time for all the kids to pile in with parents so everyone stays warmer.

21. Remember Fluffy and Fido will be cold too, so allow them to cuddle with you.

22. Be as active as you can to build body heat if you’re staying in a cold house, but don’t work up a sweat or you’ll be colder than you were before.

23. Keep your medical prescriptions up-to-date, not waiting until you’re on your last pill. If you’re stuck without power, your pharmacy probably is as well and won’t be able to refill them.

24. If you intend to join others (family or friends) to wait out the power outage, select people you get along with and can hopefully find the humour in your situation.

25. Try to look on the experience as an adventure you can talk about and embellish in future telling of the story.

For more about emergency preparedness, check out my FREE report, Emergency Preparedness the Organized Way.

What’s your ice storm experience? Do you have any tips in addition to those above? I’d love to hear about both your experience and your tips. Please share!



© Moreen Torpy

We would be honored for you to reprint this article. If you do, please include the resource box below with the hyperlinks intact.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Moreen Torpy is the De-Clutter Coach, a Trained Professional Organizer, Author, and Speaker. Her new book is Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In. See www.GoForwardDownsize.com for more about the book including where to purchase it, and www.decluttercoach.ca to learn about her organizing services and other books.


February 6, 2014

GO Month 2014 - Operation Preschool Phase 1

A few weeks ago, I told you about a project I am working on--the organization of two storage closets at my son's preschool.  Because of the snow and bad weather we've been having, the project is going slower than expected, but I wanted to share it's progress with you.

On Martin Luther King Day, my hubby had the day off from work and offered to help me with Phase 1 of organizing the storage closet. He came in very handy as a second pair of eyes and a pair of strong arms. Thanks, Hubs!

Here's what the closet looked like before we started:


Two and a half hours later here's what it looked like:


Before we opened the closet door, I gave my hubby two rules to follow that day:

Work SLOWLY.

Work SAFELY.

We opened the door and started getting things off the floor.

When I work with a client in a space like this, we begin de-cluttering the floor first for one simple reason: SAFETY. It's very easy to slip on or trip over an object on the floor. Getting injured really slows down the organizing process...

What did we do? We...
• stacked all the chairs together
• created a temporary area for the custodial supplies that share this space
• removed anything that was broken beyond repair, yellowed, and crushed under the weight of heavier items
• grouped all toys, papers, classroom items that were in good shape in one spot so the teachers can look through them at a later date

Before, during, or after the school day the teachers can take a few minutes to go through the supplies and make decisions--keep or toss. Now, they can actually step into the closet safely to accomplish this and move the project forward!

So if you have a room in your home that looks like this, follow my two rules above and here's a third:

Wear CLOSED TOE shoes while organizing

Even the lightest object falling on your foot can hurt if you're wearing open toed shoes, walking around in socks, or are going barefoot.

Once the weather gets better, we'll be forging ahead with the next steps in organizing the closets--I'll keep you posted!


January 26, 2014

Organizing Quick Tip: Organizing Donation Requests

Do you get a truckload of charities and non-profits sending you requests for donations? They can really pile up--especially at holiday time!

This scenario may sound familiar...

You write a check to a charity. A few months later another donation request from the same charity lands in your mailbox.  You don't remember whether you've donated to them or not so you do one of two things:

• you send them more money
• you toss the envelope on your desk and now it's clutter

Today's Organizing Quick Tip will help you keep track of all of those donation requests...

Create a home for 
'donation request' envelopes. 

Follow these steps to keep those donation requests under control...

• Get a small box--approximately the size of a shoe box.

Examples of some boxes for this task:

Stockholm Photo Box from The Container Store

KASSETT Box w/Lid from IKEA

• Place the box in an area close to where the mail enters the house.

• When a donation envelope comes in the mail, place it in that box.

• Go through the box every three months to sort and purge for duplicates. I guarantee--you WILL have duplicates!

• After Thanksgiving, sort and purge the the donation envelopes one last time and decide which organization(s) you'll donate to. Spread the piles across your dining room table or sofa if you need a lot of room.

• Make your donations in December--once a year (if possible). That way you'll have no problem remembering when you sent your charitable donations. This eliminates the need to look back at a year's worth of checkbook and credit card statements to see when and who you donated to.

• If you don't already have one, create a 'tax file' for papers you'll need to collect for tax purposes.

• Place receipts for your charitable donations in the tax file.

• Empty your 'donation request' box and start over.

I recently set up this system for a client and she said it made her life so much easier in these ways:

• It organized all of her donation requests in one spot.
• It allowed her to notice when she had multiple envelopes from the same charity/non-profit.
• By doing her donations once a year, she no longer has to try and remember or look back in a check book register or credit card statement to see if she already made a donation.

This will save you time, money and brain power. Give it a try--let me know how it works for you!


January 14, 2014

Get Organized Month 2014: Operation Preschool

What is January is known for?

Blizzards.

White sales.

Lots of award shows on TV.

January is also a time for setting goals for the new year. Maybe you're looking to lose weight or get your finances in order. Or maybe...just maybe...you're thinking of getting organized!

Well, if that's the case, you're in luck because January is Get Organized Month (also known as GO Month).


In 2005, the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) proclaimed January as Get Organized Month. They developed a national campaign to stimulate public awareness of the profession and the importance of getting and staying organized. Local chapters of NAPO as well as individual professional organizers use this month to help individuals, businesses and schools bring time management, organization, storage solutions and productivity into their lives.

The last chapter-sponsored GO Month event I participated in was when I was seven months pregnant with my second child. It was held at the IKEA of Paramus and my job was to walk around the store answering questions and taking pictures of my colleagues giving demonstrations and workshops. Instead of walking, I was waddling and most of the questions I was asked by shoppers were less about organizing and more about my pregnancy!

NAPO started sending out emails about GO Month in late 2013. At around the same time, the director of my son's preschool approached me for assistance. She knows I'm a Professional Organizer and mentioned to me that the two storage closets designated for the preschool were disorganized and could use some TLC. Could I help? "Sure," I said.

When I told the teachers I'd be organizing the closets and they all asked, "Have you seen them lately?" To which I replied, "No. I'm sure they just need a little organizing and some love."

Then I took a look...


Here's another view...


Then I walked into the other storage closet...


OK...maybe they'll need a little more TLC than expected...

This is my personal 2014 GO Month project--to get the storage closets of my son's preschool organized.

What will result once these storage closets are organized?
• The teachers/director will be able to find the supplies when they need them.
• There will be no need to buy extra supplies because what they need is not accessible or can't be found.
• It will de-clutter and free up space in the classrooms and office.
• It will bring smiles to the faces of the people who have been so good to my children (and it will make their jobs A LOT easier).

I'll keep you updated on my progress!


December 30, 2013

Get Clear on What You Want

Jack Canfield, the guy behind the wildly successful Chicken Soup for the Soul empire, has some great planning advice for 2014. I read a similar article at the end of 2011 and set goals based on his ideas below. It took me two years, but I accomplished 90% of the goals I had set for myself and turned the other 10% into longer term goals. Why not give it a try and turn your dreams and aspirations into reality? Thanks for your words of wisdom, Jack!

Are you ready to make 2014 your best year yet?

It’s easy to start the new year full of enthusiasm and optimism. But to maintain your momentum through the year, you need to set powerful, crystal-clear goals.

The first step to getting what you want out of life is to decide exactly what you want.

What do you want to accomplish? 

What do you want to experience? 

What do you want to acquire?

Who do you want to be?

One of primary reasons most people don’t get what they want is that they aren’t clear about what they want. Others will recognize what they’d like to have, but when they can’t see how it’s possible to get what they want, and they dismiss their desires as foolish and unattainable.

Don’t sabotage yourself this way!

After decades of research into how the human brain works, scientists now know that for our brains to figure out how to get what we want, we must first decide what we want. Once we lock-in our desires, our mind and the universe can step in to help make our dreams a reality.


Dream Big
We start the process by getting clear about what we want. So, what do you want? To create a balanced and successful life, write down a minimum of 3 goals in each of the following 7 areas:

Financial Goals

Career/Business Goals

Free Time/Family Time

Health/Appearance Goals 

Relationship Goals

Personal Growth 

Making a Difference

If you have more goals than this, don’t limit yourself – write them down! On the other hand, if writing down 21 goals seems like a lot, remember that we can have a mix of long- and short-term goals. For example, in the financial area, you may have a short-term goal of paying off a $5,000 credit card balance, as well as a long-term goal of amassing a net worth of $5 million dollars. You want to keep both goals present in your mind, even though you’ll be working more actively on the short-term goal first.

Stretch Yourself
When setting our goals, it’s important to include a few that will make us stretch and grow to achieve them. These might be learning a new skill or trying something that is uncomfortable and maybe a little frightening, such as public speaking. It also helps to set a breakthrough goal that would represent a quantum leap. Examples of breakthrough goals include publishing a book, starting a business, getting on Oprah, winning a gold medal at the Olympics, or getting elected president of your industry association.

Material goals are important, but the ultimate goal is to become a master at life. In the long run, the greatest benefit we receive from pursuing our dreams is not the outer trappings of fulfilling the dream, but who we become in the process.

The outer symbols of success can all be easily lost. Houses burn down, companies go bankrupt, relationships end, cars get old, bodies age and fame wanes, but who you are, what you have learned, and the new skills you have developed never go away. These are the true prizes of success. Motivational philosopher Jim Rohn advises that “You should set a goal big enough that in the process of achieving it, you become someone worth becoming.”

Turn Your Dreams Into Goals and Objectives
Once you are clear about what you want, write them down and turn each item into a measurable objective. Measurable means measurable in space and time – how much and by when.

For instance, if you were to tell me that you wanted more money, I might pull out a dollar and give it to you. You would probably protest, saying “No, I meant a lot more money, like $20,000!” But there is no way I’d know how you’d define “more money” unless you tell me, right?

Similarly, your boss, your friends, your spouse, your brain, God, and the Universe can’t figure out what you want unless you tell them specifically what it is. What exactly do you want and when do you want it by?

Your Goals Impact Others
As soon as you commit to a big dream and really go after it, your subconscious creative mind will come up with big ideas to make it happen. You’ll start attracting the people, resources, and opportunities you need into your life to make your dream come true. Big dreams not only inspire you, they compel others to want to play big, too.

You’ll also discover that when your dreams include service to others – that is, accomplishing something that contributes to others – it accelerates the accomplishment of that goal. People want to be part of something that contributes and makes a difference.

Work on Your Goals Daily
To keep your subconscious mind focused on what you want, read your list of goals everyday. For an even more powerful approach, close your eyes and focus on each goal and ask yourself, "What is one thing I could do today to move toward the achievement of this goal?" Write down your answers and take those actions.

As the old joke goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Steady progress in bite-sized chunks puts even the most audacious goals into reach.


Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul® and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com