May 27, 2011

Get Organized for Summertime--Do the Winter/Summer Switch

The Memorial Day weekend is finally upon us--Yipeee!

Are you ready?

Do you still have heavy sweaters in your drawers? Is your snow shoveling gear easier to get to than your kids' floaties? Are your boots blocking your collection of flip-flops?

If you answered 'Yes.' then it's time to do what I call 'The Winter/Summer Switch.'

Doing the 'Winter/Summer Switch' started when I was a kid. With three kids, a small apartment, and very little closet/drawer space we had no choice but to store out-of-season clothing in a place other than our closets. My parents were very creative. They had luggage that they rarely used so our off-season clothing would be stored there. At the end of the Winter and then again at the end of the Summer, my father would take the suitcases down from the top of the closet. We'd try on the clothes and make piles of what to keep for the upcoming season, what to store as hand-me-downs and what to pass on to younger cousins.

That's just one example. Here are some ideas for jumpstarting your own personal 'Winter Summer Switch:'

1. Identify the areas of your home that are in need of 'The Switch.' These might be the garage, clothing closets, outdoor storage area, linen closets, etc.

2.  Make an appointment with yourself to choose ONE area to focus on at a time. Please don't spend the entire holiday weekend switching your stuff around. Even most Professional Organizers wouldn't do that...

3. Gather supplies such as garbage bags, labels, markers (or a label maker), and a pen and paper for jotting down any thing you discover you need or want for the upcoming season.

4. Sort through your items, purge what you don't need and determine the best way to store what you are keeping.

5. Repeat Steps 2-4 as necessary until you are ready for the Summer. You're one step closer to being ready for the new season...

May 15, 2011

Organization with a Sprinkling of Chaos

Today, I am honored to host our first guest blogger--my organizing colleague, Linda Samuels of Oh, So Organized!. Linda has been a Professional Organizer since 1993 and has recently authored, The Other Side of Organized, a book dedicated to helping readers find a level of order, balance, and organization in their lives. Ever feel like you’re never organized ‘enough?’ Read on…

Organization provides a base to let spontaneity thrive alongside a sprinkling of chaos. Organization is a valuable layer in life, but not an end to itself.  Recently, a friend mailed me a Woman’s Day (1996) article I was featured in from 15 years ago. Our daughters were four and six. One of the photos was taken in front of their closet. Aside from noticing their sweet faces, I also saw the organization of their clothes and toys behind them. It was amazing how that one image instantly brought me back to this other time of stuffed animals, building blocks and Candyland.

It made me reflect about the role organization played in our lives. Our girls grew up with a certain level of order. The idea wasn’t to stifle them with it, but merely to be there as a support. Toys were easily accessible. They could reach them and put them away without any difficulties. Art supplies were readily available. Clothes were easy to reach. The order helped to grease the wheels of the day. Having things placed in homes enabled the girls to be spontaneous or deliberate with their play, their schoolwork or whatever they were doing. They had less stress and so did we.

To accommodate their growing interests or needs, we adjusted the organizational systems.  Tub toy baskets left and make-up organizers appeared.  The dress-up box always existed and still does. After all, you never know when you might need to wear a costume! The layer of organization provided the structure to reduce the stress of life’s details so that we could just fully engage and enjoy ourselves. Less time hunting for things meant more time playing games or painting pictures or dancing around the living room.

Before, I mentioned that the Woman’s Day article made me think about an earlier time. In that same way, my library of photos that cycle as a screensaver on my computer, make me reflect about the moments of our lives. These snapshots are my treasures.  In the pictures, I see a lot of laughing, snuggling, celebrating, picnicking, vacationing, hosting of puppies, walking in the woods and gatherings with friends and family. All of these moments and events involved organizing in some way. Our lives were full and busy. Time was precious and still is. So, when we set aside or found the time for fun and for being together, having a level of organization in place enabled us to just go and do that without the stress of hunting for the picnic cooler or the pans to make the birthday muffins.

There was just enough order so we could enjoy ourselves, be spontaneous, let chaos reign briefly and engage completely in the precious moments. Sometimes when people like to tease me by saying, “Oh, Linda. You’re SO organized,” I just smile and think, “I’m just organized enough.”

My wish for you is that you find a level of order that’s right for you so that you can celebrate all of your wonderful moments with as little stress and as much enjoyment as possible.

Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® is a compassionate, enthusiastic professional organizer and founder of Oh, So Organized!,  author of The Other Side of Organized and blogger on organizing & life balance at Follow her on Twitter @LindaSamuels and Facebook at Oh, So Organized!

May 13, 2011

Purge Your Panty for a Good Cause

Saturday, May 14th is the National Association of Letter Carrier's 'Stamp Out Hunger' Food Drive--a perfect reason to purge your pantry.

Wake up early. Have a protein-packed breakfast. Take a bag to the spot in the house you keep food. Be ruthless. You bought 10 boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese on sale. Can you donate one or two? Thought you were going to make that cake but didn't? Donate the mix. On a diet? Donate the foods you're now avoiding.

PURGING is a WIN-WIN situation. You get rid of things that are cluttering your home and others get things they truly need. In this case--food.

My bag is filled and we'll be putting it on our doorstep a few hours before the mail carrier arrives. My bag has pasta, canned vegetables, and baby food in it. What will you put in YOUR bag?

May 10, 2011

Be an Organized Bride--It's in the Details...

Have you ever had a dream that you forgot your veil at home on your wedding day? Or that you put all of your invitations in the mailbox without stamping them first?

Then you must be a bride-to-be.

No need to wake up in a cold sweat anymore. I have an amazing list for you...

A bride-to-be in North Carolina, has compiled a list of 20 wedding details you don't want to forget. I thought it was a pretty impressive list considering she's not even married yet. My personal favorite is:

#15 Photographer's guidelines - It helps a photographer to have a list of photos that are high priority.

I couldn't agree more. You don't want to get your proofs back and see that your photographer has taken a bunch of pictures of your boss and her husband while your grandmother is only in two shots.

Read her list and breathe a sigh of relief. She's done all the work for ya. And I'm more than happy to pass on the information and help make your wedding planning more organized and less stressful.

May 6, 2011

Organizing on the Cheap

One of the first posts I wrote a year and a half ago was called 'Organizing on the Cheap.' It focused on organizing products that cost very little money or nothing at all. Organizing products don't have to cost a fortune. In fact, many of them can be made from recycling an item already in your home.

I have two little kids and I'm always in need of a plastic bag. Most of mine live in a bag holder in my kitchen or in the garage but when you have a dirty diaper or need to bag up things before nap time is over, believe me--you need them handy.

Today's Organizing on the Cheap Award goes to: The Empty Tissue Box

It's original cost is approximately less than two dollars--that's pretty cheap. Once you're done with all the tissues, don't recycle the box. Stuff it with plastic bags that you wish to keep. Here's a picture of one from my home. The yellow bags are from ShopRite but dig deep enough and you'll find bags from Target, Marshalls, and other stores:

I realized that there were many spots in my house that needed plastic bag storage. I have one of these tucked away in both bathrooms as well as the laundry room and both of my kids' rooms. Not only have they been convenient, these plastic bag organizers only cost me what I paid for the box of tissues. Have tons of bags? Buy a larger box of tissues.

I don't wish anyone the flu, but if you happen to finish a box of tissues anytime soon, consider stuffing them with plastic bags. It's a great way to organize them, keep them tidy, and all in one place.