Fall is a great time to get organized!

Although Fall has not officially begun, most of us are certainly changing our “lazy days of summer” attitude and are gearing up for what tends to be the busiest part of the year. With the kids back in school and the holiday season and Winter in the not so distant future it is a great time to focus our attention and energy on Fall organizing.

– How does your garage or outdoor storage shed look? Time to clear out the clutter that has accumulated over Summer in order to get ready for the Winter season.

– The guest room often becomes the catch-all area of the home. Be prepared for visitors by purging the room and closet of all items that don’t belong. Don’t wait and go into full-blown stress-mode when guests are due to arrive.

– The mudroom and coat closet are two areas that will likely need to be reorganized as well. Remove all stray items and switch out Summer gear for Fall and Winter attire. Don’t just store things away. Use this opportunity to see what may need to be replaced, cleaned or mended.

– Bedroom closets are also on the seasonal list of areas to re-organize. Let go of anything you or your family haven’t worn this Summer and make a list of anything that may need to be purchased for the colder weather.

Planning ahead will alleviate a lot of stress. So grab a pen and paper and compile a list of all the areas of your home that need some attention. Then prioritize these areas in order of importance and schedule some time to work on each project. Consider breaking larger tasks into 2 smaller sessions to keep from feeling overwhelmed.

A few small organizing projects spread out over the next few weekends will prepare you for the busy season ahead and cut down on unnecessary stress. Involve the entire family and get started now.

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Planning your college packing list

Last fall, after we had successfully dropped our daughter off for her first year of college I had written a blog about our experience with helpful hints on making move-in day easier.

Afterwards I was asked to add a packing list, so I spent some time gathering my thoughts, ready to compile a huge list of every possible item to pack. I decided however, that it might be more helpful to write about organizing the planning and packing process, since there are already numerous lists available online.

I started browsing the internet and found that there are several sites that are quite informative. You may want to click on a few and see what speaks to you. Each one of them may hold some info that could come in handy. One of those sites is collegesupplylist.com. What I like about this site is that they have lists specifically for dorm rooms or apartments with categories for both boys and girls.

My suggestion with a site such as this is to print out the list that best suits your child’s needs and then highlight the items that would make sense to you. You may find that there are some items unique to your child’s lifestyle/preference that are not on this extensive list, so go ahead and add them.

Armed with this list I would suggest to start your shopping early, avoiding the last-minute rush that may leave you feeling overwhelmed. There will be all sorts of sales in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes open when the Sunday ads arrive.

Once you have purchased most of your necessities it is important to think about how to best store these items. Most dorm rooms are very small, so you will have to be creative with the storage solutions. Remember that visual clutter can make a small room appear even smaller, so containerize as much as possible.

Inquire if you are allowed to use bed risers in your child’s dorm room, they are a great way of adding additional storage under the bed. Special under-bed storage bins are great to keep extra bedding, towels or any other items that are mostly storage and won’t need to be accessed as often.

Next, think about a way to store all smaller items. Small sized plastic storage drawers or bins come in handy for things such as first aid/meds, eye care/ hair supplies, etc. Sort all items into labeled containers that can be put in place on move-in day.

If your son or daughter doesn’t have a lot of hanging clothing you may want to consider adding a shelf organizer for additional “shelves”. There are different sized options available. If you need lots of room for shoes use a shoe organizer, then add a larger unite next to it for sweaters, jeans, t-shirt, etc. This unit from Target combines both into one, which may work nicely if you don’t have a lot of shoes to worry about.

The one thing that I would like to add is to include your child in this process. Have them help think about what they would prefer as storage (give options)…and label as much as you can. They will appreciate this the first time they need a Band-Aid, sunscreen, nail clippers…you get the idea.

I have created a board on Pinterest with different storage options if you would like some additional inspiration.

As always please leave any comments below – I would love to help answer any additional questions you may have.

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Quick garage organizing tips for the season

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Has winter left its mark on the condition of your garage?

A little work in the spring with an additional tweaking in the fall will make all the difference in how you feel about entering this space.

Begin by pulling out all large items or anything that is stored on the ground into the driveway. Next, pull out all winter items, such as sleds, skis, etc. Assess the condition of all items and group into categories of “to keep”, to donate”, “to recycle” or “to sell”. Employ the same process with all other items still left inside the garage.

Clean out the garage by sweeping and hosing out any salt residue, wiping counters and washing windows.

Now it’s time to organize the “keepers” back into the garage. Be sure to think about where items would be best stored.

For example:

– Keep all garden tools together in one common area – could you hang the larger items on the wall?

– Smaller (like) items could be stored together in labeled plastic storage containers.

– Frequently used items should be stored at eyelevel and within easy reach.

– Your out of season items should be stored on a higher shelf or in the basement to make room for the current season’s tools and toys if space is an issue.

Open shelving works fine, however tends to look cluttered if not maintained on a regular basis. Metal cabinets with doors make for a cleaner, more streamlined look (like the picture below). Be sure to measure your available space and think about how much you have to store before purchasing any new organizational storage .

A small amount of time, twice a year is a worthwhile investment for your home and your enjoyment. Less stress looking for things, less anxiety looking at clutter.

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Organizing principles for busy/overwhelmed parents

overwhelmed mom

Parenting is definitely one of lives greatest blessings, it can however create its share of stress, frustration and overwhelm. The key to reducing stress and to simplifying life is to get organized and establish daily routines for the entire family.

Teaching children responsibility for their belongings, as well as organizational skills will help instill invaluable habits for them to carry into their adult lives.

We can’t, of course, expect to stay organized if we don’t start out that way, so begin with a thorough de-cluttering of your home. Let go of anything you no longer use, need or love. Sell or donate usable items and toss the rest. Next, create homes for all items in suitable containers, closets, cupboards or on shelving. Whenever possible label containers so everyone in the home will know where to find items or where to return them to.

Establish evening routines:

1. Enlist the help of the entire family for 10 – 15 minutes each evening to help clean up any clutter by returning items to their intended homes. Even toddlers can be taught to clean up their toys at the end of the day. Make it fun by turning the clean-up into a game like “beat the clock” (Set a timer for a few minutes, then try to return everything to its original home before the bell rings). When children get older make it part of their daily/weekly chore chart – reward them every so often by offering special treats depending on their age. (Such as time with mom/dad, stickers or a trip to their favorite play ground.)

2. Set up a “launching pad” near the door with hooks for bags, backpacks, purses, coats, keys, etc. Before going to bed be sure that each bag is packed and ready to grab on your way out the door in the morning. Have school aged children do their part by returning homework into their backpacks and packing up any sports gear.

3. Pick out clothing for the next day to save time in the morning.

4. Pack lunches in the evening to eliminate added stress.

Deal with everyone’s paper clutter:

1. Sort mail daily. Slice open envelopes and sort contents into appropriate categories such as “to pay”, “to read”, “to file”, “to shred”. Recycle all junk mail and envelopes immediately. Take a minute to distribute the piles to their respective homes, i.e. near the shredder, in your inbox, and if time allows drop the papers into the responding folders.

2. Children bring home lots of paper from school each week. Be diligent when deciding on what to keep. Display a favorite drawing or good test grade for about a week in a designated area such as a cork board , hanging off a string attached to a wall or even in a special frame. When a new paper is ready to get displayed switch out the favorite and store in a memory box created for each child. Be sure to add the date and name of your child before storing.

These are just a few things to help keep the clutter and stress to a minimum. I would love to hear what daily practices have saved your sanity over the years in the comments below.

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Quick tips to help you organize your craft supplies

Crafts and beads
 
Craft items can quickly accumulate and turn into jumbled piles of yarn, beads, paints … you name it. Organizing your craft supplies will ensure that you will be able to enjoy crafting without the frustration of searching for or purchasing items you already own but can’t locate.

Dedicate one space in your home to keep all your craft items together; whether it is an entire room or a section in a spare closet or in a corner of your basement. As always, before you organize anything you need to start by de-cluttering your stash, then sorting everything into categories of like items. How you store your tools and supplies depends entirely on your preferences and needs. Below I have listed just a few methods to help you on your way.

I personally like clear plastic totes that come in a variety of shapes and sizes; they are stackable and will let you identify what you need in an instant. Depending on the available space you can store (labeled) plastic containers on shelving in a closet or above a craft table. Rolling storage carts with shelving or drawers are also a great option with limited space. They can be moved into your work area during a project and then stored away neatly while not in use.

Small items are always hardest to keep contained, so be sure to purchase appropriate containers depending on the amount to be stored. Beads, buttons and the like are best stored in lidded glass jars or small plastic containers. Depending on the size of your stash you may want to take it a step further and sort by color or size. Tiny items such as glitter, sand or micro beads can be stored in spice jars. Another option may be small storage bins designed to hold hardware items that have numerous tilt out drawers in various sizes or multi-compartment, stackable storage boxes.

Ribbons can be stored in a variety of different and fun ways:

– Use straw containers – simply pull up the lid and thread spools of ribbon over center post.

– Wall mounted dowels or rods can hold numerous spools above a working space.

– Stand spools upright in clear plastic storage box or make your own ribbon dispenser by using a cardboard shoe box and feeding the ends of the ribbons through slits on the side of the box.

Pegboards or magnetic wall bars can be a great wall storage solution to hold all sorts of craft supplies above your work area, including hooks, cups or small shelving.

A desktop Carousel or a craft caddy are perfect for keeping your markers, scissors, pens, pencils or brushes close at hand! Purchase one or create your own work station by adding cans or cups to a lazy Susan (turn table) for your supplies.

Craft stores carry a variety of specialty storage solutions or browse the internet for inspiration to create your own personalized crafting space. Happy crafting!

Please feel free to comment with any thoughts or questions.

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Gift giving advice – avoid adding clutter!

gift card imageWe all like to give gifts to show our appreciation to those that touch our lives throughout the year. Whether it’s a teacher, co-worker or even the mail carrier – it’s just nice to give a little thank you.

The trouble with many of these well-meaning gifts is that they may end up as unused clutter in someone’s home. Think about how many ornaments, mugs or trinkets teachers have gotten over the years? Many times I have helped clients to de-clutter only to come across boxes or shelves full of old knickknacks that were given as gifts but were kept out of guilt.

This year let’s resolve to reduce future clutter by given wisely. Some things to consider before making a gift purchase are:

– How well do you know the person?
– Does he or she enjoy books, music, coffee or baked goods?
– Would they enjoy getting pampered or perhaps a nice dinner out?

Now, I know that many will argue that gift cards are impersonal; and while it is true that they aren’t for everyone I do believe that most people would prefer them over a trinket. It’s a great idea to give them a card to their favorite coffee shop, restaurant or spa. I-tunes cards are always a hit with music lovers, especially teens. Aside from gift cards I also like giving consumable gifts, although you want to carefully consider your choices. Only pick items that you know are the person’s favorite – like sweets, baked goods or wines and spirits.

Do you have any non-clutter gift ideas? Feel free to leave your comments below.

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Clean your closet with the change of season

Organized closet

The change of the season is great time to reorganize your closets. Here are a few tips to help you make quick work of the task.

1. Purge

Begin by evaluating each item in your closet (including shoes and accessories) and then ask yourself these questions:

– Have I worn it in the past year?
– Does it still fit or does it look worn?
– Does it still suit my fashion sense and life style?
– Do I feel good about the way I look when I wear this item?

Only keep what you love, need and wear and donate or consign the rest. If you decide to keep clothing that fits snug in the hopes that you will lose weight be sure to only keep the “best”. Store items in a storage container labeled with clothing size and the date in a different location. If you haven’t worn them by the next year let them go. Besides – wouldn’t you want to reward yourself with a new outfit after all the hard work to lose that weight?

If you are switching your summer/winter clothing to and from your seasonal storage be sure to ask yourself the same questions before storing anything for the coming year.

2. Sort/Categorize

Sort the remaining items by style, i.e. dressy, casual, pants, dresses, skirts, blouses, long or short-sleeved, etc. Then take it one step further by grouping all items by color. Store lesser worn items toward the back of the closet and always face clothing on hangers in the same direction to assure a uniform look.

A great investment, when organizing your closet are matching hangers. I prefer slim line hangers which are sleek and will keep your garment from slipping while protecting its shape. Stronger wooden hangers are great for heavier items such as jackets, coats or suits.

A few items, such as sweaters are better stored folded on shelves or in drawers. Some homeowners prefer to use shelf dividers to keep rows of folded clothing neat and separated.

3. Organizing accessories

Some smaller items are best kept in baskets or bins up on shelves. Scarves and belts can be stored on specialty hanging organizers. Store shoes on shelves sorted by style and color. Avoid storing anything on the floors – your closet will look neater while making cleaning easier as well.

Additional thoughts:

Did you ever put something on but ended up taking it off because you didn’t like the way it made you look or feel? Then you proceeded to return it back in the closet? Why do we do this? Do we really expect that the item will look or feel differently when we try it on again? From now on let’s donate the item – it’s actually a great idea to have a designated donation box in your home. Once it’s full take a trip your local charity to help someone in need while getting a tax deduction.

Feeling overwhelmed or pressed for time? Organize your closet in stages.

Google and Pinterest are great resources to give you inspiration when deciding how to organize and store items.
Take time to straighten things up from time to time to maintain your newly organized closet.

As always, feel free to leave your comments or questions below, I would love to hear your favorite organizing technique.

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