Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Monday, July 30, 2012

5 Tips for Organized Back-To-School Shopping

This is the first year in forever that I am not doing back-to-school shopping either for our daughters or foster daughters! Hard to imagine! For some, school is just a couple of weeks away. Didn't summer just start?!? 

Here's a blog post I've done in the past to make back-to-school shopping a little less stressful ...
If we took our cues from the stores, we would think summer is over, even though it seems like it just began! After the 4th of July, all summer clothes are on sale and winter clothes will soon be on the racks, even though we are sweltering! Great time to beef up your summer wardrobe, if need be.

If you need to shop for back-to-school clothes or if you have children who need to do so, here are a few tips:

1. Take inventory of what you have. If you have children, tackle this job one child at a time. Make a list of all tops, categorizing them separately - short sleeve, long sleeve, t-shirts, dressy, dressy casual, etc. Do the same with bottoms - shorts, capris, jeans, skirts, dress pants, etc.

2. While going through the closet, start a donation pile and a throwaway/rag pile and a giveaway pile for clothing you want to pass on to specific people.

3. Make a list of all the possible outfits, both summer and winter.

4. It will become obvious which articles of clothing have no matches or matching accessories - shoes, socks, jewelry, belts, etc.. Make a shopping list.

5. NOW it's time to shop! If you are shopping for your children, make back-to-school shopping a fun event. If you can, take one child at a time, have lunch together, and make it a special day.

Even though this process takes a while, it is far more productive. You may discover outfits you never considered, you'll clear the closet of unwanted items, and your shopping will be intentional rather than haphazard, which will likely save you money. And you and/or your child will have a list of outfits to wear - especially helpful on those days when choosing an outfit seems overwhelming!

Similar topics:

Organizing Your Child's Room 
Get Oranized Month 2009 - Organizing Your Clothes Closet
Get Organized for School - Clothing Inventory
Getting Organized for School - Learning Style

Friday, July 27, 2012

Disorganized Brain = Creative Brain?

Eric Barker's review of Steven Johnson's book below is bursting with thoughts to ponder. Makes me want to read the book. What about you?

"In Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, Steven Johnson posits that "the more disorganized your brain is, the smarter you are" in reference to the results of a neuroscience experiment by Robert Thatcher.

Across the board, in Johnson's book and other sources it seems pretty clear that creativity is messy.

Ideas need to be sloshing around or crashing in to one another to produce breakthroughs:
  • The "accept everything" mantra of brainstorming doesn't work. Debate is far more effective. Let those ideas fight.

More on the brain and organization:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Get Organized with Chalkboard Paint?

Never would I have thought that I would write a blog post about how chalkboard paint can help you get organized. Well, actually, I haven't. But the people at Krylon, makers of chalkboard paint, have written an article about how to use chalkboard paint to organize your home. I don't often include a post  from a blatant advertisement, but they have some cute ideas. Go here goes ...
"Everyone's life needs a bit of organization - so why not do it with a bit of fun and whimsy? For a new way to get organized, think charming, unique ... think chalkboard paint. That's right, the old-school chalkboard is making a stylish comeback. And with a bit of hands-on creativity, your home can be organized, stylish and enjoyable.

Definable drawers  
Is your home being overrun with clutter? The best way to overcome clutter - and keep everything tidy - is to ensure everything has its place. Labeling is a great way to stay organized and alert family members where items are - and where to put them away. Using stickers and markers for identification can sometimes look plain and boring, and are more permanent. Luckily, there is another way to label: chalkboard paint.

Drawers are ideal for storage and come in a variety of sizes to store anything from toys to jewelry. Plus, you can find great deals on old sets at yard sales or thrift stores. To start, simply clean and paint your drawers in a color that coordinates with your room's decor. Once the paint is dry, create a border around the front of each drawer with painter's tape. Next, spray several even coats of Krylon Chalkboard Spray Paint inside the taped area. When the entire project is dry, use chalk to identify the contents of each drawer. And, don't limit yourself to white chalk. Colored chalk can add a stylish twist to your project.

Time to...
To organize your schedule - or your whole family's - keep track of time with a fun and creative schedule clock. This unique project replaces traditional hours and minutes with your daily activities.

Start by finding a large, flat, wall-hanging clock and carefully remove the hands. Then, apply a coat of Krylon Indoor/Outdoor charcoal black primer to cover the entire clock, making it the same even color. Once the primer has dried, apply three coats of chalkboard spray paint. 

Finally, when the clock is fully dry, reattach the clock hands and finish by designating certain hours for your daily tasks. This project is especially ideal for young children who don't yet know how to tell time; simply use drawings to help them know when it is time for their activities and you'll avoid the everyday question of "is it time to (fill in the blank) yet?"

Labels for entertaining tables
When entertaining guests, you want them to feel welcome and at home. Adding personal messages or labels can be the solution to put your party over the top. Chalkboard paint can be the perfect addition to many of your go-to entertainment pieces. 

Spray the base of your wine glasses and label with guests' names to keep track of drinks. Spray the fronts of buckets, bowls or canisters to call out their contents. 

Spray a large platter or board to create a welcome sign or menu for your guests. The ideas are endless. And, for an extra decorative touch, use Krylon Leafing Pens to create whimsical designs around your creations.

Soon, your home will feel more organized and stylish with these easy and delightful craft ideas. And the best thing about a chalkboard is you can constantly change it up. Simply erase and write something new. For more project ideas, visit www.krylon.com."

More on organizing with paint:

Magnetic Paint - An Innovative Space Saver!

Shadow Boarding Your Tools

An Unusual, Time-Saving Painting-Prep Tool


Monday, July 23, 2012

Clever Storage Ideas from Better Homes and Gardens

I came across several fun storage ideas courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens. There were several in the article, but these are my favorites:

A towel rack converted to store sweaters and shoes. 

Slide it into your closet under short hanging clothes. Keeps hangers from ruining your sweaters and it's easier than folding! 

 Use drawer organizers to organize game pieces and small games.

 No more lost pieces! And so easy to use - just take out the container holding the pieces you want to play with and slip it back in the drawer when you're finished!

Hidden Outlets


This is my favorite! If you're redoing your kitchen, have your outlets built in with covers to hide them! If there's enough room, you can store the cords there, too. 

Recycled Paint Cans for Accessible Storage


Clean up used paint cans, decorate if you like, and nail them to the wall for easy access. Great for hats, scarves, gloves, socks, hair accessories, etc.

More clever storage ideas:

Options for Organizing Spices

Do It Yourself Shoe Storage

Clever Bathroom Organizing Ideas from Martha Stewart

Friday, July 20, 2012

An Easy Way to Store Tablecloths

My mom gave me this idea on storing tablecloths: hang them up on hangers! She keeps hers in her basement near her washer and dryer. As soon as they come out of the dryer, they go on hangers to avoid wrinkles.

I keep mine in my guest room closet. In the past, I've used an entry closet. Anywhere where you have a little extra closet space or space for a hanging rod can work. Stuffing them into drawers just creates wrinkles, and ironing is not my idea of a good time!

More on storing linens:

Preventing a Linen Closet Avalanche - Storing Sheets

Get Organized Month - Declutter Your Linen Closet

Three Steps to Organizing Your  Closet (Kindle version)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

10 Green Organizing Solutions for Crafts

Craft supplies are messy aren't they? Becky Striepe of Crafting a Green World has compiled ten Do-It-Yourself Craft Organizer Projects, each with instructions and pictures. Great ways to upcycle, too!  

"Organizing your crafty space can make crafting so much easier, can’t it? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to delay a project because I couldn’t find that vintage button that I knew was somewhere or the pretty wrapping paper I’d salvaged over the holidays and stashed – well, someplace! Where is it again?
messy craft table - upcycled craft organizers to the rescue!

No matter what your craft, chances are your space could use a little more organizational oomph, but organizers from the big box store come with a big impact. They’re often made with plastic and shipped all over the world. Boo on that! We craft green, and we want our spaces to be green too, right? Instead of heading to the store, check out these upcycled organizers for your craft room instead!

1. Show Caddy Organizer – Got an old shower caddy that’s past its prime? Give it a little scrub, paint it with some low-VOC spray paint, and you can re-use it for vertical crafty storage.

2. Hangers for Fabric – Raid your closet or the thrift store for those clippy pants hangers. They’re a great solution for storing your large pieces of fabric.

3. Make a Frame Thread Holder – Transform an old thrift store frame into a pretty solution for all of that thread.

4. Chalkboard Sign - Of course, you need to keep your thoughts organized as well. Jot down your important to-do’s on an upcycled chalkboard.

5. Recycled Can Wall Organizer – Arrange clean, salvaged cans into a wall organizers for your crafty knick knacks. They recommend Eco Glue, but I’d go with something stronger like E6000. You don’t want this falling apart on you!

Upcycle Candle Holders into Colorful Organizers6. Upcycled candle holder organizer – keep those teeny items like buttons and paper clips in check by repurposing old candle votives. You could use this same method to adorn thrifted glass ware, if you have bigger items to store.

7. Mason Jar Storage – Reuse some of your old Mason jars along with a thrifted cake or cupcake stand for some small-item storage.

8. Ribbon Storage – Spunky Junky bought hers new, but you can hit the thrift store for a slotted Tupperware bin – or really you could drill holes into any thrifted Tupperware container that’s the right side – and use it to make an upcycled ribbon dispenser.

9. Old Dresser for Fabric – Got a huge stash of fabric? Keep it neat and organized in an old dresser spruced up with a coat of paint.

10. Funnels for Twine – Wrangle those balls of twine with funnels! The ball rests in the top, and you dispense the thread through the bottom. Easy peasy!"

More on craft storage and organizing:

Organizing a Portable Craft Station

Organizing Art or Craft Space

Storage Ideas for Crafts and Art Supplies

Monday, July 16, 2012

Apps to Help You Go Paperless

Paper multiplies faster than rabbits! Do you have stacks of receipts for reimbursements or taxes? Business cards you need to be able to access?

Lisa Gerstner of Money Power offers a few suggestions for getting rid of paper clutter via your smartphone.

"If you have a smartphone, scanner and computer, you have all the tools you need to banish paper clutter from your life. The payoff: You can more easily organize your files, photos and miscellaneous pieces of paper, and you'll be able to access them with the click of a mouse or tap of an app. 

Scrap the small stuff. Get a handle on paper receipts with tools that save and categorize them. With the free Lemon app (available for Android phones, the iPhone and iPad, and Windows Phone), you just snap a photo of a receipt and add a label. You can view a breakdown of the information on the app and at Lemon.com.

Shoeboxed, which manages receipts as well as business cards, has applications for Android devices and the iPhone and iPad. Plus, it integrates with several outside accounts, such as Evernote and Google, so that you can export data into them.

Just looking to clear your desk of business cards? Get the free CamCard Lite app. Take a photo of a card and the app stores an image of the card and transfers the information to an address book (you can manually edit the info if the reader translates it incorrectly)." 

More apps to help you organize:

Wunderkit - An iPhone app for Collaborative Projects

Organize Your Christmas Shopping with New Gifts HD iPad App

Get Organized for Your Vacation with Trip Doc App



Friday, July 13, 2012

Disheartenig Findings from a UCLA Study on Clutter and the Middle Class

The following article by Meg Sullivan about clutter and the middle class is a sad commentary on our society. UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) photographed, videotaped, tracked family members with position-locating devices, and measured stress hormones in 32 families. It's amazing how many of the problems are related to clutter! Read on ...

"It's the place to look for the plumber's phone number, the date of the next doctor's appointment, that photo from your summer vacation and the spelling test your kid aced last week. 

Yet even for all these telling glimpses into the minutiae of daily life, your refrigerator door reveals much more about your middle-class family. 

The sheer volume of objects clinging to it may indicate how much clutter can be found throughout your home. Furthermore, that clutter provides a strong clue to how much stress Mom feels when she walks through the door at the end of a day at work. 

This is one of the juicy tidbits from "Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors," the first book by researchers affiliated with UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF). 

Founded in 2001 with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, CELF sent a team of professional archaeologists, anthropologists and other social scientists to conduct a systematic study of home life in 32 middle-class, dual-income families in Los Angeles. 

The resulting rigorously documented book presents a troubling picture: costly but virtually unused "master suites"; children who rarely go outside; stacks and stacks of clutter; entire walls devoted to displays of Barbie dolls, Beanie Babies and other toys; garages so packed with household overflow that cars have to be parked on the street.

'This is the very first study to step inside 21st-century family homes to discover the material surroundings and vast number of possessions that organize and give meaning to the everyday lives of middle-class parents and children,' said co-author Elinor Ochs, a UCLA anthropologist and director of CELF. 

Added lead author Jeanne E. Arnold: 'This is something that's never been done before in a modern society and may never be done again because it was an incredibly labor-intensive enterprise.'

"Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century," which will be published July 1 by UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, shows how these families are using their time, what they do with the stuff they buy, how much use different parts of their homes get and what aspects of home life cause stress. 

Findings include: 
  • Managing the volume of possessions was such a crushing problem in many homes that it actually elevated levels of stress hormones for mothers. 
  • Only 25 percent of garages could be used to store cars because they were so packed with stuff.  
  • The rise of big-box stores such as Costco and Sam's Club has increased the tendency to stockpile food and cleaning supplies, making clutter that much harder to contain.  
  • The addition of costly "master suites" for parents proved the most common renovation in the homes that were studied, yet the spaces were hardly used. 
  • Consistent and troublesome bottlenecks emerged in the homes, yet families rarely devoted renovation dollars to remedying these obvious problems. 
  • Even in a region with clement year-round weather, the families hardly used their yards, and this was the case even among those who had invested in outdoor improvements and furnishings. 
  • Most of the families relied heavily on convenience foods like frozen meals and par-baked bread, yet they saved an average of only 10 to 12 minutes per meal in doing so.  
  • Fragmented dinners — those in which family members eat sequentially or in different rooms — threaten to undermine a sacrosanct American tradition: the family dinner.  
The book focuses on the physical surroundings of the families and, in the parlance of anthropologists, their "material culture," a subject that includes everything from art and trophies to televisions and outdoor furnishings and actually is much less understood than one might think. 

'Marketers and credit card companies record and analyze every nuance of consumer purchasing patterns, but once people shuttle shopping bags into their homes, the information flow grinds to a halt,' said Arnold, a UCLA professor of anthropology. 'But the 32 families who threw open their doors to us allowed unfettered access to their busy homes and lives.'

The researchers doggedly videotaped the activities of family members, tracked their every move with position-locating devices and documented their homes, yards and activities with reams and reams of photographs. They asked family members to narrate videotaped tours of their homes and took measurements at regular intervals of stress hormones via saliva samples. 

The researchers then plotted, compared and correlated the mountains of data they had collected over the course of four years. The project generated almost 20,000 photographs, 47 hours of family-narrated video home tours and 1,540 hours of videotaped family interactions and interviews. 

'Most of the time, the average American cannot see that which is most deeply familiar,' said co-author Anthony P. Graesch, an assistant professor of anthropology at Connecticut College. 'But when you invite anthropologists into your home, they will force to you step out of the 'insider's' perspective and examine your house, your possessions, the ways that you use time.'

GALLERY: Seven Common Challenges Facing Middle-Class Families at Home"

More on clutter and stress:

9 Ways to Enhance Your Health by Being Organized

Reduce Your Stress by Organizing

Declutter Any Room in Three Weeks


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Create No-Clutter Zones Where Clutter is Off-Limits

Yesterday I spent some time on the phone doing some virtual organizing talking about this very topic! It's universal, isn't it?

Do you have areas in your home that are clutter magnets - coffee tables, the entry table, the dining room table? Places where people drop their stuff instead of putting it away?

Declare certain places to be no-clutter zones, especially those that are visible when you enter your home. It's depressing to walk into your home after a long day and see a mess!

How to do this? First, solve the underlying problem of not having designated places for clutter, if applicable. Here are some ideas to reduce clutter coming into your house:

- Keep the mail in your hand until you dispose of it into various containers: recycling bin, trash, bills and items that need attention. This, of course, assumes you have such containers. 

Sort your mail while you're walking back from the mail box or as you enter your house. A few intentional moments will save a big pile of mail clutter! We have recycling containers in our garage, so some of our mail doesn't even enter the house.

- Create repositories for book bags, purses, briefcases, keys, coats and shoes. Hooks, shelves in an entry closet, a coat tree, a bench with storage, cubbies - whatever works with your space. If the entry point of your house looks like an explosion, spend some time figuring out a solution and train your family to use that solution!

- Don't buy things unless you need them. Avoid garage sales, thrift stores, and recreational shopping. Just because something is a great bargain doesn't mean you need to buy it!

The next step is to declare no-clutter zones. 

- Determine which surfaces will NOT collect clutter, no way, no how. That forces you to think through where that clutter should live. And it identifies those items that don't have a home. 

- Work on creating homes for everything. If you have too much stuff for everything to have a home, it's time to get rid of some stuff or get creative with additional storage.

- If need be, have a container for each family member in which their stuff can be deposited until they put it away. This is a short-term solution to clutter in common areas. At the end of the day, plan in a few minutes for everyone to empty their containers by putting their items away in the right place.

- If you are behind on clearing clutter, institute a 15-minute family clutter challenge one to three times a day until you get caught up. Set the timer for 15 minutes, put on some fun music, and have each person collect their own clutter and put it away. You may even want to give a prize for the most things put away. Is that rewarding the biggest clutter bug? Hmmm..... Oh well! You decide. :)

- Another option - leave the commercials on during your TV programs and declutter during those 2-3 minute periods. It breaks down a big job into bite-sized pieces. 

These are some ideas to help you get started. Here are some other ones:


3 Tips to Staying Motivated While Downsizing or Decluttering

6 Ways to Prevent Yourself from Bringing Clutter Home

Teaching Kids How to Sort and Declutter

Monday, July 9, 2012

Refocus Each Morning - ADHD or Not

I have been doing some business coaching with a client who has ADHD. He likes to process verbally, so we meet together at the beginning of each day. This is what we do:

- Review what happened the previous day.

- Look at today's schedule to see what is coming up.

- Determine the priorities for the day.

- Prioritize the tasks: which is the most important and the most urgent, second most important and urgent, etc.

- Schedule less important and urgent tasks later during the week.

- We also evaluate to see if strategies are working.

- And at times, we brainstorm to solve problems and come up with new ideas. 

My client's busiest time is at the end of his day, so he likes to refocus in the morning during his less busy time. By going through this process, he is able to stay focused during the day. And knowing I'm going to show up each day motivates him to stay on task. :)

I absolutely LOVE helping him be more effective, and we're starting to see our efforts pay off. 

You can do the same thing, too! If you prefer, going through this process at the end of your day might be even more effective, as you'll be poised to jump start your day tomorrow. 

More on staying focused:

Foods That Help ADHD Focus

Do You Have a Mid-Afternoon Priority Check?

Five Ways to Prevent Procrastination from Zapping Your Energy and Productivity

Friday, July 6, 2012

Clutter Solutions

Here's an enlightening article from Jenny Coad that appeared in the London Daily Mail. Vocabulary: Car boot it = put it in your trunk. 

"Bikes in the hallway, breadboard in the oven, clothes draped over chairs. Storing even the most basic belongings can be a logistical challenge in a small home. 

My diminutive flat is constantly decorated with washing, like great, drippy wreaths of bunting. Bottles of wine share space with shoes and spare chairs sit about like chess pieces waiting for their next move. I am not alone. 

An Ipsos MORI report published last month, entitled The Way We Live Now, puts storage space at the top of the list of domestic worries. Anyone trying to de-clutter and sell their home will sympathise. But if you can’t afford a bigger property - and with mortgage requirements being extra tricky at the moment, few can - what sensible solutions are there to the storage crisis? 

shelves sxc
sxc.hu  Shelves can go almost anywhere - in alcoves, below stairs, above doors. Put them in wherever you can and those piles of books, magazines and newspapers will melt away.

* Made to measure: Having cupboards fitted to suit your space might sound like a costly outlay, but it will make a big difference. Wardrobes, kitchen cupboards and bathroom cabinets should go up to the ceiling. This will make the room seem taller. 

* Don’t be shy of a shelf: They can go almost anywhere - in alcoves, below stairs, above doors. Put them in wherever you can and those piles of books, magazines and newspapers will melt away. 

* Hard-working furniture: Interior designer Kit Kemp recommends adding pockets to the sides of chairs using the same fabric.
They should be just large enough to hold the daily newspaper, she says. 

Cover it up: Plenty of us are avid recyclers, but no one wants to look at their empty wine bottles and discarded baked bean cans. Keep it in something with a lid. 

Cable chaos: We’re all wired up most of the time, so having enough power sockets is essential. But keeping them out of sight is a smart move. Cable tidiers are available from a number of retailers.Say no: When you move into a new home, parents will try to offload things they have been saving for you: old crockery, Seventies chairs, your old school photos. Be firm. 

Outsource it: Storage facilities can provide a useful interim if you can’t quite part with the goods. 

Bite the bullet: If you can bear to get rid of it, do so. You might even make some cash in the process. Car boot it, eBay it or give it away.

Grow up: In the garden, you can plant herbs up the wall to keep the ground space clear of pots or beds. These will cover up crumbling brickwork, too."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Beat the Heat and Organize an Indoor Decathlon for Your Kids

Here's a great idea when you've run out of ideas for summer fun, especially when it's hot outside. I'm recycling a blog post from previous summers ...

An indoor decathlon is similar to the outdoor decathlon, but you do it indoors. It’s great for a snow day or a day when it’s 100 degrees!  

I like to alternate short and long games so people don't get bored. 

Examples of games: 
bubble gum blowing
clothes pins in a bottle
pin the _____ on the _____
visible scavenger hunt 
pass the pigs
paper airplane flying contest
elimination jenga
paper balls into a waste basket

I keep the list of games a secret. Then it's a series of surprises.

Gather all the supplies needed for each game.

Create a box or bag of prizes.

Create a score sheet chart with each person listed and each game listed.

After each game, record the scores. If you have five people playing, the person who comes in first gets five points, 2nd place gets 4 points, etc.

After all 10 events are played, the person with the most points is first, etc. #1 gets to choose a prize first, #2 second, etc.

More organized fun:

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Treasure Hunt Dinner

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Guess the Theme Day

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Water Spoons