Blog

  • 08/11/2014 4:28 PM | Nadine Sachs

    Imagine you must leave your home, fearing for your life, and are thrust into living in a 10’ x10’ room shared with three other people.  How would you manage your space and possessions? Nettie Owens, a fellow member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, recently asked me to consider lending my expertise in closet design to improve the closet system at a women’s shelter.  Since the summer is a busy time for my business, I was hesitant at first. But I could not refuse this request, and it turned out to be a worthy cause.

     

    I met with two employees of SARC, a shelter providing services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence and stalking. They described in detail what I was to expect when entering the rooms to measure the closets.  Although it is preferable that clients keep their rooms tidy, it was not something that the shelter enforced. Many of the women come from controlling, stressful environments, and shelter workers want to provide relief from this. Most of the rooms were in good shape, though one room in particular was disorganized and cluttered, making it difficult to get to the closet to take precise measurements. I entered each room, and quickly and quietly took the necessary measurements for my design.

     

    The closets themselves were rather small and may be shared by up to four women or children. I came up with the most functional design possible, giving each occupant her own hanging space and cubbies for folded clothes and accessories. To make the project affordable, I donated my portion of the fee to the shelter and asked Mark Loewner, owner of Closet Innovations, to consider giving a further discount. Thanks to our combined discounts and with the help of some funding, the shelter was able to afford the closets. 

     

    I walked away with the utmost admiration for both the staff that provides a safe environment free from abuse and fear and the women who seek shelter. Their attempt to leave abusive relationships and thus provide a better life for themselves and their families is commendable. It feels good to know that the closets I have designed will improve the lives of these women, if only in a small way.  In general, the work we do as professional organizers helps many of our clients take control of their lives, one drawer, one shelf, one closet, one room, one step at a time.

     

    © 2014 by Nadine Sachs, Organized2Succeed. All Rights Reserved. 


    Nadine Sachs
    , owner of Organized2Succeed is a Professional Organizer and Custom Closet Designer. She is currently serving as the Co-Programs Director of NAPO-Baltimore and enjoys helping her clients achieve and maintain a less stressful and simpler lifestyle
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  • 08/01/2014 12:57 PM | Nettie Owens

     

    Clearing a closet?  Moving? Important documents to get in order? Read on to learn what happened when over five hundred professional organizers descended upon Scottsdale, AZ in May 2014. NAPO Conference Panel

     

    Annually, the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) convenes to network, share ideas, learn new strategies and explore new products in organizing.  You may wonder how this relates to your specific needs as a homeowner, small business owner or corporation.  It should come as no surprise that education is paramount in the organizing industry and this one annual event spurs innovation for years to come.

     

    Here are a few of the latest ideas and products I took away from NAPO Conference 2014.  The first three are packages you can use to organize on your own terms.  I love the ‘out of the box’ nature of these.  Check them out!

     

    WJ_Logo_1.14My Wardrobe Genie – This closet organizing and decluttering product by Susan Terkanian has all the tools you need to go from cluttered to clear in your closet.  For only $29.95 you just can’t go wrong!  http://www.allsetsolutions.com/product/my-wardrobe-genie/

     

    MoveNOrderMove N Order – Save time, money and stress with Move-N-Order’s kit to label and organize your boxes as you pack and prepare to move.  On move in day, you will know just where to put each box and moving in will be a snap.  Also included are expert packing tips, detailed directions and a staging video.  The cost is $74.99 for a two bedroom home kit and $84.99 for a four bedroom home kit. http://moveinorder.com/

     

    LifeinCase – I receive questions about important documents all the time.  This product guides you in finding and organizing all of your important documents into one place.  It was designed by Mark Gibson and Diane Hoyle-Moran after the passing of Diane’s father.  Everyone should have their documents in order for ‘just in case.’  For only $34.99 you can check this item off your to-do list!  I especially love that there is a version specifically for military.  http://lifeincase.com/index.htm  

     

    There were also a few books that I will be adding to my ‘to read’ list:

     

    SuccessUnderStressSuccess Under Stress by Sharon Melnick, Ph.D.

    http://www.successunderstressbook.com/?  What entrepreneur or professional isn’t stressed these days?  I am looking forward to digging into Ms. Melnick’s book for tips to share (and use on myself!)

     

    http://organizedassistant.com/  So, this one is not a ‘book’ but Janet Barclay has a great blog and I can’t wait to dig deeper into it.  Ms. Barclay is a professional blogger with lots of great tips and information on organizing, blogging and more!

     

    Although that wasn’t ALL that came out of the NAPO National Conference in Arizona this May, the above items are a few of my favorite new ideas and thoughts to follow up on.  I know you will find them useful, too!

     

     

    © 2014 Nettie Owens, Sappari Solutions. All Rights Reserved.


    Nettie Owens is a professional organizer, productivity coach and owner of Sappari Solutions. Since 2004 she has been helping overwhelmed professionals to streamline their lives so they may live!

  • 07/16/2014 9:55 AM | Anonymous

    Need to Sell Furniture?  You have options!


    The Bottom Line.  Most household furniture is considered "second-hand" - usable, but not of high value.   Keep in mind that what you paid for an item is only the starting point of what drives the price.  The memories you have of your favorite piece provide no benefit to the buyer.  Other factors affecting the value include condition, manufacturer, and size.

    What is often overlooked is time involved, moving costs and supply and demand.  Because a large number of seniors are now downsizing, the market is being flooded with antiques and basic furniture. 

    Whom to call - plus two DIY options.  The list below addresses the pros and cons of each with respect to selling price, time, and costs. 

    Specialty Dealers. $$$           Start by sending a picture and receive a timely response. No moving costs, quick sale.  i.e. Mid-century modern styles are in high demand; dealers abound.


    Auction Houses. $$$+/-        Great option for high-end or antiques; not interested in basic furniture.  Start by sending pictures.  Auctions can insure sale but NOT price. Commission is 25-30% plus moving costs.  May take 45 days to receive a check.


    Craigslist. $$ /-                      You set the price and need to write an effective ad - free listing. Time consuming dealing with emails and no-shows. Safety concerns. Upholstered and pressed wood furniture is hardest to sell; this is your best option for these items.


    Consignment Shops. $$ /-     Automatic price drops over three months.  Commission is 50%.  Receive check one month after sale.  Moving costs. If item does not sell - find another option.


    Pickers. $                              Buy in quantity, minimum wait time, quick sale.  No moving costs.  Buy fair condition items to repurpose; so do not trash a damaged antique!  


    Yard Sale. $                          Very time consuming, weather dependent and expect to negotiate. Does not sell - find another option.


    Donate.  ($)                         Tax deduction only.  Only a few charitable organizations are allowed to enter your home to retrieve furniture. Good condition only.  Need at least one-week lead-time, may have to wait hours for pickup.


    Note:  Estate sale companies are an option if you have thousands of dollars worth of quality furniture and small items to sell. 


    Copyright 2014.  Eileen Golian, Dakota Downsizing.  All rights reserved.


    Eileen Golian is a Professional Organizer and Owner of Dakota Downsizing in Columbia, MD. 

    Dakota Downsizing has a team of professional organizers who assist families as they part with decades of possessions.  They coordinate

    all the details of distribution - one room or an entire household.

  • 06/24/2014 2:38 PM | Nettie Owens

    It is June but the desire to make the most of summer is upon us.  School, cool weather and a hectic pace are just around the corner. Take time now to plan and enjoy your vacation.   Before you head out of town by car, plane or train, put a little planning effort in and you will reap the rewards of a fun and relaxed trip.


    Before you go, pack and plan.  Utilize a packing list like the ones you can find on ListPlanIt.com rather than starting from scratch.  If you are making your list from scratch, keep it on your computer or phone.  You can double check while away and be sure that you still have everything when you re-pack.  Additionally, your list will be ready for the next time you travel.  Use the weeks ahead of your trip to plan.


    Four weeks ahead of your trip or more, research where will you be staying.  Decide how will you be getting there.  Use a website like kayak.com to compare prices on flights or Google Maps to map out your drive.   You can save the trip planning information to your phone and have it with you even if you do not have a network connection.


    Two weeks before you leave put in an order to hold the mail.  Make arrangements for your pets.  Consider using a local teen who can watch your house and care for your pets.  If you are flying, be sure to make a plan for getting to and from the airport. 


    A few days ahead pack and prepare your home. Mow the lawns and secure outside items in case of inclement weather.  Take your pets to be boarded.  If you are making several stops on your trip, pack for each stop so that you do not have to unpack everything at each leg.  If you are flying, use gallon zip lock bags to organize your items in your suitcase. 


    The day of your trip take out the trash, be sure all food items are put away and check that nothing is going to spoil in the fridge while you are gone.  

    While you are away, keep your things in order.  Use specific bags for each type of item packed so items are easy to retrieve and put away.  Have a separate bag for dirty laundry and if you get the chance, do a load of laundry or two while you are away.  If you are traveling by car and you find a fantastic way to pack your vehicle, take a photo with your cell phone then you will have a guide to repack the car as you stop along the way.


    When you return, do not let the unpacked bags sit for days.  Take the dirty clothes bag to the laundry first.  Unpack as soon as possible while you still have momentum.  It is helpful to take a day off of work to re-group after any trip. 

    Most importantly, enjoy your trip.  Too often, we do not relax and enjoy the experiences in the present.  Plan, organize and enjoy. 


    © 2014 Nettie Owens, Sappari Solutions. All Rights Reserved.


    Nettie Owens is a professional organizer, productivity coach and owner of Sappari Solutions. Since 2004 she has been helping overwhelmed professionals to streamline their lives so they may live!

  • 05/14/2014 12:53 PM | Terry L. Cooch

    Is your home bursting at the seams? Are you dreaming about your dream kitchen? Do you wish your house had a master suite? Renovating your home can be a satisfying way to improve your quality of life. The key to success is good planning.


    Know What You Want. Create a list of what you want and need to achieve.

    ·         Collect ideas: Keep a camera and tape measure with you at all times. Photograph show rooms and model homes. Look in magazines and brochures. Record anything to help communicate your ideas to a designer or contractor.

    ·         Make note of your physical wants: “I want more closet space” “I want more natural light.”

    ·         List your emotional wants: “I want the space to feel cheerful.” “I want to inspire creativity.” “I want to encourage togetherness.”

    ·         Identify any non-negotiable items.  “I need a walk-in shower due to mobility issues.”


    Determine A Realistic Budget.The temptation to do more than you planned is immense. Know yourself and what you can afford. What can you stretch your budget to and what will cause financial problems? Projects typically exceed budgets by at least 20%.  Factor in some potential overage.

    If your desires exceed your budget, talk to your contractor about ways to reduce costs. Can you give up recessed lighting for hardwood floors? Is there a cheaper look-a-like? Consider DIY options. Beware when buying online: you may pay less for the item but more for the contractors.  Time lost while you ship back a damaged product and wait for a replacement can throw the entire project off schedule and budget.

    Include in your budget the cost of extra meals out and a little pampering. You’ll deserve both.


    If You Pay Peanuts, You May Get Monkeys.  Shop diligently for contractors or designers. The cheapest price is tempting, but it’s not worth the savings if the project is done poorly or left unfinished.

    Do your homework. Ask neighbors, friends and family for referrals. Look at local directories, or search online. However you find someone, be sure to interview both the contractor and a few past customers.

    Make sure that whomever you hire is insured and licensed by the state of Maryland for the type of work they will do for you! To check on a contractor’s license, visit http://www.dllr.state.md.us/license.


    Understand The Process. Know what to expect before construction begins. Ask your contractor for a written or emailed explanation of starting time, daily and weekly goals, a thorough timetable of subcontractors (first week carpenter, then two days for electrician, followed by a week for the plumber, etc.). How will set-backs be handled?

    Learn how to communicate with your contractor. Calls, texts, email? Avoid frustration by knowing a typical time frame for replies.


    Schedule The Project Accordingly.  Once you have an understanding of what to expect, plan the timing of the construction work.

    ·         Are there times when a contractor might give a discount?

    ·         What time of the year can you most easily handle interruptions and added responsibilities? If you have children, will the disruption be less during the school year or during the summer holiday?

    ·         Factor in: school, work and volunteer calendars; after-school activities; camps.


    Get Ready, Get Set… Get Organized Before You Hit Go.  Prepare your home for disruptions. Your household can still run smoothly, if you plan ahead.

    ·         Set up staging areas where needed.

    ·         Do you need a new enter/exit zone of your home with needed purses, backpacks, coats and shoes?

    ·         Do you need a temporary small food station to replace a kitchen?

    ·         Do you need a portable leisure or work station that can be set up on the dining table and quickly removed at mealtime?


    Prepare Yourself. Acknowledge that, despite your efforts, construction will be challenging.

    ·         Allow more time to do daily tasks and to get out the door in the morning.

    ·         Every evening, make sure all temporary systems are in place for the next day.

    ·         Reduce your commitments, if possible.

    ·         Be ready for more noise, phone calls, and unexpected construction surprises.

    ·         If possible, double your patience level with your spouse and children; remember that everything is harder for them too.

     

    © 2014 Terry Cooch, TLC Home LLC. All Rights Reserved.

  • 05/05/2014 11:00 PM | Jill Prevatt
    This past January, NAPO-Baltimore launched its first "B'more Organized Photo Contest." January is National Get Organized (GO) Month, a nationwide public awareness campaign that promotes the benefits of getting organized.

    The NAPO-Baltimore Chapter, comprised of more than 30 professional organizers and productivity experts, recognized GO Month by hosting a photo contest for the Greater Baltimore area. Throughout the month, we received almost 50 entries from hopeful individuals submitting photos of their most cluttered and disorganized spaces in need of some major organizing TLC.

    The judging panel, whose experience in the organizing industry totals 67 years, took the job quite seriously, reviewing each entry with careful and discerning eyes!

    We are pleased to introduce to you the 2014 Grand Prizewinners: J. Skolnik of Catonsville in "Putting the Family Back in Family Room"; J. Brinkley of Baltimore in "A Crafty Conversion"; and C. Smith of Edgewood in "Hello Garage. My name is Car."

    We have our work cut out for us, but are certainly looking forward to helping our winners reclaim their spaces and reintroduce function, calm, and efficiency into their lives.

    We will bring you a series of in-progress photos and updates as our talented organizing teams dive in, so check out the "BEFORE" and stay tuned for the "AFTER"!





  • 11/08/2013 9:06 PM | Nettie Owens

    Image courtesy of ScottChan / FreeDigitalPhotos.netImage courtesy of ScottChan / FreeDigitalPhotos.netThe season is upon us when we are encouraged to buy, buy, buy.  Yet the more we have, the more we have to get organized to keep it all.  Ironically, Christmas is one of my favorite holidays.  I love the traditions; the process of picking gifts for friends and family; and the joy of giving gifts to others.  But, by the time the New Year rolls around on January 1, I am often overwhelmed by consumerism and glad not to have to deal with major gift giving for another 11 months.


    Even though the economy is in a slump, I still see the buying trend continuing with my clients, friends and family.  We look for the perfect gift or make purchases simply  to have something to give.  Our closets are full and our wallets are empty.  This year, I would encourage you to think differently about your gift giving habits. 

    1.  Make a list of all those folks that you intend to give gifts to. 
    2. Think about your budget, set a number and commit to keeping your budget.  This one can be tricky especially as you come closer to the holiday at hand and find there are people you have forgotten. 
    3. Think now about the gifts you would like to make or buy.  If you are overwhelmed by giving and receiving gifts then others are, too.  Keep your  gifts simple and think outside the box. Consumable items are less likely to be clutter. The items you make are often much less expensive. 
    4. Here are a few ideas:  homemade applesauce, cookies and pies; a gift certificate to babysit for a family with children while the parents enjoy a night out; a picture you enlarged or painted; registration for a class for the recipient to attend.

    The effect of thoughtful gifts is several-fold: there is less waste going into yours and your recipient’s homes and the environment; you feel great about the gifts you are giving and good about your finances, too; your gifts will truly be enjoyed.


    There is a wonderful buy local movement out called the ‘3/50 Project’ that encourages consumers to spend $50 a month with 3 locally owned businesses.  If you think that $50 is a lot, look at your last grocery bill or receipt from Target.  What business could you transfer to a local farm; gift shop on Main Street or bakery.  Now you have gift that gives back and supports the community you live in.  You can find out more at http://www.the350project.net/


    The best gift you can give is that of time. It is the least expensive, most precious and environmentally friendly and fills the heart with joy.  So, if you are truly at a loss for that special someone in your life give a clutter-free gift and make a date to spend time together.


    © 2013 Nettie Owens, Sappari Solutions. All Rights Reserved.


    Nettie Owens is a professional organizer, productivity coach and owner of Sappari Solutions. Since 2004 she has been helping overwhelmed professionals to streamline their lives so they may live!


    Gift image courtesy of ScottChan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • 08/19/2013 9:47 AM | Mary Cate Claudias, CPO® (Administrator)

    ‘Done is better than perfect’.  Not sure who said it originally but it sure has been a great reminder for me lately.  Little story to start us off…. I bought a $25 water bottle at Target about a year ago.  It has a flip top so when I’m on the job it’s clean and convenient.  I’ve come to realize that the relationship between my water bottle and me runs on a very interesting level.  Try as I might, I can’t seem to lose it.  I have left that thing at so many different clients’ homes and offices and somehow, I still get it back each time!  And of course the beautiful irony in this situation is that I’M THE PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER leaving her things behind in a wake and tide of having just restored some order to chaos and put belongings in their rightful place so they don’t get misplaced!


    So while the lost water bottle saga continues with at least 2 out of every 5 clients…. It continues to be a great conversation piece, ice breaker, and laughing matter at my expense…. which is actually quite nice.


    It reminds everyone present that no one is perfect or organized all of the time.  And it’s important to remember that.  There are a lot of us in this industry who tend to thrive from a system and do a silent happy dance when the plan comes to fruition.  But it’s good to keep in check the amount of time and energy that’s going into maintaining those systems.


    Yes, of course maintenance is the key to any good sense of order – but having run a business for three years, run a family, a home, events, and juggling those curve balls that pop up once in a while, I’ve learned that SOMETHING’s gotta give.  There’s an awful lot of talk out there about life balance, etc. etc.  It’s overused but it’s still true.


    Fellow organizers and our fabulous clients both… repeat after me:

    • When I’m sick, I am allowed to be sick and not do anything else.
    • When I need a break, I should do that without guilt or feeling as if I’m being unproductive.
    • And when I want to go have fun, I will! 

    Whether you’ve thought about bringing a professional organizer into your space or not, remember that whatever your situation is, there is no judgment in our eyes.  Perhaps your parents’ house has been sitting full of undealt-with items for years after their passing.  Perhaps your business is silently struggling because the paper and time management has gotten out of control.
    Perhaps your surroundings have gotten away from you and you’re embarrassed to invite friends or family in to your home.  Maybe you don’t ask for help well.  (I know that all too well.)


    And we get that it’s not easy to make that call…. Especially to someone who you may believe has it together ALL of the time?


    Well I’m here to be the first to tell you that we don’t.  We’re not.  And we can’t….. do it all I mean… ALL of the time!


    Done is better than perfect and we’re usually just looking for people who are ready to take that first step.  After that, ‘good enough’ is just great.




    © 2013 Mary Cate Claudias, Charm City Organizers. All Rights Reserved.


    Mary Cate Claudias is a Professional Organizer and founder/CEO of Charm City Organizers, LLC in Baltimore City, Maryland. Drawing on her experiences in teaching, coaching and non-profit management, she helps small businesses and home owners live less stressful and more productive lives. 


  • 08/13/2013 7:44 PM | Mary Cate Claudias, CPO® (Administrator)

    If you’re curious about whether or not you need a professional organizer, or perhaps just some consultation in order to start off on the right track by yourself, answer each of the following questions honestly.


    1)     This sounds like me and my surfaces:

    a.    I can’t really see too much surface area (end tables, kitchen counters, dining room table, etc.) on the main living area of my house.  Most surfaces only get a clear spot when I push stuff aside. I have containers for the stuff near or on these surfaces but they aren’t getting used.

    b.    Typically my surfaces have a lot of stuff on them but I stash it all away quickly when people come over so the containers and organizational products I bought become “miscellaneous” bins. 

    c.   
    I try and get everyone in the house to pick up their stuff and put it away but there’s not enough space for everything… or maybe the right system?  So usually I’m the one who gets tired of never seeing / using my furniture and do a mad clean up once a week or so.

    d.   
    I have stuff on my dining room table right now (it’s 2pm) but by tonight, it won’t be there because the mail will be processed and anything else that got dropped there will be in its proper home by dinner so we can eat.

    2)   
    When I walk into the house…


    a.   
    I usually step over or on a pile of shoes, work stuff, book bags, sports gear, etc. and am so frustrated by this every day. Will it ever get better?

    b.   
    I’d love (and love others in the house) to hang my coat immediately, put my shoes, purse, gym bag, etc, exactly where they belong… but it’s not realistic with my schedule and lifestyle.  I’ll get to it over the weekend….maybe.

    c.   
    I usually step over or on a pile of shoes, work stuff, book bags, sports gear, etc. but it’s because everyone else entering the home isn’t using the hooks, closet, bins, etc. that I created for the stuff.  I put MY stuff away.

    d.   
    I usually drop my stuff (or others drop theirs) but then we come back around in the next few hours and put it where it belongs.  At least by the time we go to bed.

    3)    When a friend, family member or even service repair man comes into my home, I feel like….

    a.    I don’t let them in. I would never want them to see how I’m living.

    b.   
    I’m embarrassed and I’m constantly apologizing for the state of things, but I don’t have the time to keep it up the way other people do.

    c.   
    It’s messy – Some laundry in a basket ready to go upstairs; toys around the floor; my work stuff is on the dining room table from last night - but it doesn’t bother me if people see my mess.  I think this is pretty normal for hard working people.

    d.   
    Well, my stuff is put away (most of the time), but it bothers me that others in my house aren’t using the systems I put together!  Why am I the only one doing it all? Because when people walk into my home, I shouldn’t have to frantically pick up after everyone else, even when there is an organizing home for everything!  I should be stress free and proud when someone comes to visit.

    4)   
    The mail – and what’s going on with it.

    a.    The amount of mail I get is disturbing. So many bills, magazines, junk mail fliers…. It’s really overwhelming so it goes into a box under my desk. I get around to it when I can but if I’m totally honest, there is probably some stuff in there I haven’t opened in a few months. 

    b.   
    The mail coming in is a pain but I usually tackle it once a week, maybe a bit longer in between sit-down sessions.

    c.   
    It usually gets put down onto the kitchen counter or dining room table (maybe entry way) and at least every few days, we go through it.

    d.   
    I pick it up daily.  I go through it and determine what needs to be done with what (shred, recycle, pay, etc.) and what needs to go to whom in the house.  All junk mail and extra envelopes, etc. go straight into the recycling bin. Bills go into a folder to get paid.

    5)   
    I might (ok… I do) do this:

    a.    I buy every organizational product, bin, basket and desk organizer on the market (sometimes a few times a week) because they WILL help me get more organized!  Just that a few of them haven’t made it out of the box yet.

    b.   
    I like decorative and functional things in my home.  I buy a few things a month that will help me get more organized and mostly… when I have time to put them together, they work ‘okay’… but not great.

    c.   
    There are SO many organizational products out there now – it’s way too overwhelming.  I love going into Bed, Bath & Beyond and getting stuff but then I get it home and it just doesn’t fit or work.  And I don’t have time to take it back.

    d.   
    Usually, I don’t buy a product unless I know there’s a great need for it. I measure the space and map out a plan of function and user-probability before I buy something new.

    Okay, now tally your score.

    A’s = 4

    B’s = 3

    C’s = 2

    D’s = 1


    If you scored:


    5-10 = Want a job? No, seriously. Your organizing is okay, but we could help you refine it to make you even more efficient and a bit less stressed.


    10-15 = You have some core issues with organization that with some coaching, we could put aside and make every-day life a bit easier. Some ‘tweaking’ if you will.


    15-20 = Organization is probably a major frustration to you, and maybe even others you live with. We understand. We help hundreds of people each year to become better at organizing various aspects of their life.

     

    Whatever your score, reach out to an organizer and learn your options. Many of us offer free phone consultations and we can help you find the level of organization that you want or need to be happier and move past some of the things that rang a bell above.



    © 2013 Mary Cate Claudias, Charm City Organizers. All Rights Reserved.


    Mary Cate Claudias is a Professional Organizer and founder/CEO of Charm City Organizers, LLC in Baltimore City, Maryland. Drawing on her experiences in teaching, coaching and non-profit management, she helps small businesses and home owners live less stressful and more productive lives. 

  • 08/07/2013 11:10 AM | Jill Prevatt
    by NAPO-Baltimore Members

    NAPO-Baltimore just celebrated National Simplify Your Life Week by sharing very practical tips to live more simply. In case you missed any of them, we're happy to provide this recap plus some BONUS tips!

    Get Motivated:
    • Nettie Owens of Sappari Solutions says, "Organizing is more fun with a buddy. Grab a friend, turn on some music, and have fun!"
    • Nettie Owens of Sappari Solutions says, "Use music to get in the mood to organized. Create a short playlist and organize for just as long as the music is playing."
    Simplify Time Management & Activities:
    • Annie Powell of Charm City Organizers says, "If space allows, keep different bags pre-packed for different activities: a swim bag with goggles, towel, and sun glasses ready to go; a school bag with pencils, notebook, and textbook; an overnight bag with travel toiletries."
    • Carole McDade of Simplify Organizing says, "Trunk organizers are fine if you go in and out of your trunk a lot. Even better though - if you have small children who don't yet sit in the front seat, place an attractive box there and add things to read while waiting, library books to be returned, anything pertaining to car errands. It's convenient and serves as a reminder, too.
    • Holly Henson of Simplify Organizing says, "Simplify correspondence! In this age of digital communication and social networking, it's rare to receive a handwritten note or card in the mail, but our friends and loved-ones are so thankful whenever we manage to! While we all would like to send birthday cards on time, many of us can't. We forget, procrastinate, or don't get to the store/post office on time. Simplify this process by following 4 easy steps: STEP 1. Create a list of everyone who you wish to mail a card to throughout the year (include birth date, anniversary, etc.). STEP 2. Head to your favorite store and buy each of these cards in advance. STEP 3. Using a large shoebox, organize your year's worth of cards by month they are to be delivered (stand the cards vertically and separate with month dividers). STEP 4. Make sure your calendar is updated with all these special occasions so you are reminded when to take action."
    • Jacquie Ross of CastAway the Clutter says, "Simplify your life by turning off the noise: turn off text, email, Facebook, and Twitter notifications. Consider deleting or ignoring distracting social media apps on your phone, and instead, schedule time once or twice a day to read and reply to messages. You could free up an extra hour a day!"
    • Carole McDade of Simplify Organizing, LLC says, "If you have a paper calendar and a smallish family, assign one color to each family member and then use one of those four-colored pens to mark events and obligations. Simplifies your life - you can tell at a glance which person needs to be where. Keep these pens hanging from your family calendar and in your purse so you can add to your calendar and keep up the 'color code.' If you use Google calendar, sync the colors and give everyone access."
    • Mary Cate Claudias of Charm City Organizers says, "To feel more productive by the end of the day, make sure you have your to-do's in one place. Every few days or at least once a week, prioritize that list and coordinate with your calendar. You'll knock things off that list in no time."
    Simplify With Kids:
    • Cheryl Osterhouse of In Order for Life says, "Regardless of the age or grade of your student(s), they will come from the first day of school with forms to fill out, papers to sign, and classroom and teacher contact information for your records. Set aside time to finish these tasks. Set up a Quick Access File. Within this file, set up files for each of your children, where you file teacher information, class lists, etc."
    • Terry Cooch of TLC Home says, "Make the most of your family vacation. Bring photos, an album, and supplies for a rainy day activity. Bring the kids their own mini book to fill."
    • Cheryl Osterhouse of In Order for Life says, "Create a School Memory Box for each of your children. This can be as simple as setting up a file box or cardboard banker's box divided into 12 sections for each child. Then, keep a small box, which is easily accessible, and toss in all of your child's potential treasures... all of their sweet cards, artwork, pictures, awards, and brilliant writings. At the end of each season, or as the box fills up, sort through and save the best and most meaningful. Finally, file them away in their School Memory Box in the appropriate year. By the of high school, you'll have a wonderful handpicked history of your child's life and development."
    Simplify In Your Kitchen:
    • Amy Rehkemper of Simplify Organizing says, "Having planned dinners will mean no more stress surrounding what to eat when 5pm rolls around. Imagine, no more spoiled food, no last minute trips to the store for that missing ingredient, no longer having to resort to eating fast food because you couldn't deal with figuring out what to cook! To get started, select 20 of your favorite quick & healthy homemade meals (five for each of the four weeks in a month). The remaining two days of each week can either be for dining out, ordering in, or leftovers. Next, list every ingredient needed for each week until you have 4 different weekly shopping lists. Yes, this will take some time initially, but for years following you will thank yourself! With a Rotating Meal Schedule, you can finally take advantage of the time when your family comes together to enjoy each other's company. Plus, you can feel comforted that you are supplying yourself and your family with a wide variety of foods that are home-cooked, in-season, delicious, and nutritious!"
    Simplify In Your Closet & Pantry:
    • Annie Powell of Charm City Organizers says, "Only purchase one brand of white socks. This way there's no matching to do after laundry - any two can make a pair. This same strategy can also be applied to dress socks, and can be used for each member of the family."
    • Susan von Suhrke of Timely Transitions says, "Forget those bulky chip clips for sealing snack bags. Buy a box of good old binder clips and then think 'outside the box.' A binder clip can hold the bottom of the rolled up toothpaste tube in place, provide a handle for hanging your kids' artwork, hold a network of aluminum mini-loaf pans together as drawer organizers, or keep your Triscuits from going stale. Small enough to fit inside the outer box for your snacks, you need only roll down the top and fasten with a binder clip to keep excess air from sucking the flavor out of your crackers. And lest we forget, they work well for binding papers together, too!"
    • Jill Prevatt of Arrange Professional Organizing says, "To minimize morning chaos, plan your outfit the night before - iron if necessary, choose accessories and shoes. As thoughts turn back-to-school, get your kids in on it, too! One less thing to think about on a busy school morning."
    • Terry Cooch of TLC Home says, "When unpacking from your vacation this summer, take notice of your dirty laundry. This is what you wore while vacationing. Simplify next year's packing by writing and keeping a list of everything you wore. If you don't want to wear the same clothes, list types and quantities."
    Simplify Your Stuff:
    • Jill Prevatt of Arrange Professional Organizing says, "Familiarize yourself with the concept of 'enough' and don't go looking for something to need. Once you've embraced this concept, you'll have less clutter and less distractions in your life."
    • Mary Cate Claudias of Charm City Organizers says, "Before running out and buying a new container or organizing product, take inventory and measurements! Group like items and weigh out size, shape, and style to find the right product(s) for your project."
    • Deb Clark of Go To Girl Organizing Solutions says, "Ziploc bags are a favorite organizing tool for me. From sandwich to jumbo to XXL, I have found they are great for people who need to see the items they are sorting, but need to have those items sorted and containerized for maximum efficiency. Recently, I purchased Ziploc Space Bags and find they are more reliable than other brands - they actually work! One of the goals I set for clients is to minimize the number of 'steps' required to reach and use any item that is stored. Visibility is key - when you can see what you need, it eliminates the step of finding the storage area. With the Ziploc bag, access is easy and so is system upkeep. Ziplocs are not fancy but work in a wide variety of situations - they are a must-have in the go-to bag of tricks that I take to all consultations and organizing sessions."
    • Nadine Sachs of Organized2Succeed says, "Reduce the amount of cd's and dvd's in your home and make a few extra dollars! Go to www.musicmagpie.com and see how easy it is to open an account. All you have to do is enter the item's barcode to find out if MusicMagpie will accept the dvd or cd and to see how much they will pay you. You then download a pre-printed shipping label, mail the box of cd's and dvd's, and wait for your check!"
    • Nettie Owens of Sappari Solutions says, "When you have less, you have less to handle, organize, and spend time and money on. Make a commitment to reduce your things by 20%. For example, for every 8 books you choose to keep, let go of 2."
    Simplify Your Desk/Office, Mail & Paper Flow:
    • Cheryl Osterhouse of In Order for Life says, "Remove anything from your office space that doesn't serve a purpose. Less really is more. It eliminates mind clutter that allows distractions. Implement the One In/One Out rule, limiting your supplies to the storage space you have.
    • Annie Powell of Charm City Organizers says, "Get the Paperkarma app (it's free!). Using the camera feature on your smartphone, it unsubscribes you from junk mail. Woo hoo!"
    • Cindy Bernstein of Aim 4 Order says, "Open your mail each day beside a recycling container and a shredder. It's a quick easy way to prevent piles of unwanted mail."
    • Cheryl Osterhouse of In Order for Life says, "Make 'you' the center of your office. Create a circle around yourself using an L-shaped desk. This allows everything to be at arm's length and eliminates excessive searching and getting up and down. Items to place in your circle include a printer and paper, telephone, computer, a few pens and pencils in a holder, scissors, garbage can, recycle bin, shredder, planner, etc."

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