October 31, 2009

It's Catalog Season!

Today is Halloween. Tomorrow, all the candy will be on sale and on Monday the holiday catalogs will start to fill your mailboxes.

Now, for some people, catalogs are pure fun--they're flipped through and recycled. For others, catalogs represent temptation. "I need that! I must have it--I never knew I needed it," they cry.

For many of us who feel rushed even when it's not the holiday season, catalogs are our salvation. We don't have to fight the crowds at the mall. We can go shopping at 3 a.m. in our bunny slippers.We can make ourselves and others happy with a phone call or a click of a mouse.

Regardless of the catalog personality you fall into, here are some tips for organizing your catalog shopping experience this holiday season:

• Create a folder or file and label it 'To Buy' or 'Holiday Gifts' or 'Why I'll Be Broke Come January'--whatever speaks to you. This is the place where all information regarding holiday gift giving will live.

• Compile a list of every person you need to purchase a gift for: relatives, friends, teachers, service providers, etc. You can do this on a spreadsheet or a lined pad of paper will work just fine, too.

• Create a few columns going across the page--"Gift Ideas," "Purchase By," "Actual Gift Sent," and "Delivered." "Gift Ideas' is a spot to jot down ideas if you're not 100% sure of what to buy. "Purchase By" is the date that the gift must be purchased to arrive in the recipient's hands on time (pad with extra days if gifts are going through the mail). "Actual Gift Sent' is a spot to record the gift you gave the person so you won't replicate it next year by accident and "Delivered' is the column where you'll write the date the gift was mailed or personally delivered.

• On the back of most catalogs there is an ID# in a colored box that is connected to your information. If you're thinking about making a purchase from a catalog, rip off the back page of the catalog. Then, rip out the pages that contain the items you wish to purchase. Staple these pages to the back page so you are ready with all of your information when you make that call or place your online order. Don't forget to write the name of the gift recipient next to the picture of the item in the catalog--just another way of saving time (which we have so little of this time of year).

The holiday season is just around the corner. I hope these tips will assist you in keeping your gift shopping stress free and organized. If more people shopped via catalogs, there would be less traffic and more parking spots at the mall. Now that's what I call 'stress-free...'

October 24, 2009

NAPO-NNJ Meeting

Besides being a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, I also belong the local chapter in my area, NAPO-NNJ (NAPO-Northern New Jersey).

We meet at the American Red Cross in Fairfield, NJ every fourth Monday of the month (except August and December). Members attend meetings for free and guests may attend for a $25 fee.

This Monday, October 26th we are having a speaker come to talk to our group on the topic of 'Working With Students.' Our speaker, Donna Goldberg is the author of "The Organized Student." She'll be talking about understanding and recognizing learning difficulties, advocacy, and educational milestones for various grade levels.

For more information check out the NAPO-NNJ website at http://www.naponnj.org

October 22, 2009

Decluttering Tips

This week I had the pleasure of speaking to a lovely group of people at the Montclair YMCA (NJ). Half of the group wanted to know how to organize papers and the other half wanted to know about organizing their closets. They ALL wanted to know how to minimize the clutter in their homes--who doesn't?

So, here are two tips for minimizing clutter and saving time that I shared with them--they'll work for you, too...

1. Give Everything You Own a Home (A Place for Everything and Everything in it's Place)

I know it sounds a little like micromanaging but most of the items you own have logical homes. Your toothbrush lives in a spot in the bathroom. The TV Guide and remote live somewhere near the TV. Unless the item is out of the ordinary, it shouldn't take long to come up with a logical spot for all of your belongings to live.

I'll tell you a little story...

Once upon a time there was a new husband and wife who took their tape measure with them when they went shopping for items for their new home. Upon returning home, they would drop the tape measure wherever it landed and the next time they went shopping they had difficulty finding it. Until one day when the wife (that would be me if you haven't figured that out already) said, "Why don't we just pick ONE spot to house the tape measure? That way, we'll always be able to find it when we need it."

Long story short, that tape measure is still in the same home we created for it almost 9 years ago. It takes us no time to locate it when we need it and it is easily returned to it's 'home' after a day of furniture shopping.

2. Immediately Dispose of Items Not Needed

Clutter is anything unfinished, unused or unresolved. But, it can also be items you just don't need anymore like expired medicine, clothes beyond repair, and food that's turned blue in the back of your fridge. These items have what I call, "The Duh Factor." They require very little thought when it comes to their disposal due to their poor condition. When you see them, you're most likely to say, "Duh, I should have gotten rid of this a long time ago. It's taking up valuable space in my home!" Getting rid of this type of clutter is easy and is a great way to start chipping away at your crammed closets and cabinets.

The best example of clutter that can be tossed immediately is JUNK MAIL. I'm convinced that even if you live in a shack in the woods, catalog companies and charities will still find you. When your mail comes, grab the pile and immediately toss the junk mail in your recycle bin (remove your name and address first). Thanks for saving a tree... ;-)

Take 15 minutes a day to try out these tips. You'll soon see a difference in your home and notice that you have a bit more extra time in your day. Not bad, eh? Well, 'duh...'

October 14, 2009

Organizing on the Cheap

A few years ago, a fabulous magazine was born called 'Organize.' During most of it's short life, I had the honor of writing the 'Organizing on a Shoestring' column. I would write about ways to organize items inexpensively or for free based on an organizing challenge that most people have such as keeping children's artwork or gift wrap from taking over the home.

In light of today's economy, I thought from time to time I'd share some very inexpensive organizing products with you. Sometimes it will even be free stuff you can find around your home!

Today's Organizing on the Cheap Award goes to: The Key Cover

What is a key cover? A key cover is a piece of plastic that slips over the top of your key. It can function as a gripper for those who have difficulty turning their keys and/or as an organizing tool for those with many keys on one ring.

I have a bunch of keys on my key ring and I needed a way to quickly locate my front door key as reached for them in my purse or coat pocket. When it's cold out or you're carrying heavy packages, every second counts!

I took a stroll into my local mom-n-pop hardware store and found a fishbowl filled with key covers of different colors--29 cents a piece. I took a red one (easy to spot in my purse, too), handed the cashier my quarter and four pennies, attached it to my front door key and have had very easy entry to my home ever since. This is what my key covers look like--pretty simple...

For those of you who would like to spend a few dollars more and put a little of their personality on their key chains, you can get key covers that look like monkeys, Pac-Man, Hello Kitty and guitars for the musically-inclined...

Whether it costs you a few dollars or a few cents, a key cover will save you time at your front door and free you from forever fumbling for the right key.

October 10, 2009

Blogging Beginner

Back in April, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the annual conference for the National Association of Professional Organizers in Orlando, Florida. I was especially excited to attend because I was signed up for workshops in Social Media and Blogging. I learned so much and came away with a ton of new and fresh ideas--I couldn't wait to start expanding my online presence!

Well, sometimes life gets in the way of starting or finishing projects (even for a Professional Organizer) and it took longer to start than expected, but here I am. I'm looking forward to bringing you organizing tips, hints, and tricks to make your lives easier as well as the latest in cool products, organizing factoids (great for cocktail parties), and a glimpse into my life as a Professional Organizer--what I've learned and what I've experienced in the past seven years as the owner of Organized Artistry, LLC.

Thanks for droppin' by...