Blog

  • 11/07/2012 4:01 PM | Anonymous

    by Mary Cate Claudias of Charm City Organizers 


    Not trying to be a Grinch – just lookin’ out for the bottom of your closet and your budget.


    With Halloween, the presidential election and a growing number of children’s school events teaming up on your schedule, you probably haven’t given Thanksgiving a whole lot of thought.  But it’s right around the corner and I’m not going to advise on cleaning and getting ready for family.  Instead I’d like to take a moment to focus on the day after this food-filled holiday: Black Friday.  Not that I don’t agree with boosting our economy - and by all means, if you’re gonna shop, shop local - but do we really need to fill our closets and cupboards with more stuff right now?


    Deals are great and it's nice that you want to buy gifts for friends and family (and maybe just that one shirt for you because it’s SUCH a great deal!) but take a second to consider the aftermath.  The credit card bills in January, the guilt, and the question we as professional organizers encourage you to ask yourself: where will all that stuff go?


    Tips for organizing BEFORE the holidays: 


    Purge now!  Don’t wait to make it a New Year’s Resolution.  Think of all the families you can help by donating good items before the shopping frenzies begin.  This is a popular time of year for shopping, and not only for the major department stores!  Your local charity will thank you!


    Since you’ve now done a great job getting rid of some things in order to make space for others, truly consider if you need this new item, not if you WANT it.  Same goes for kids.  Capitalize on little kids’ short attention spans when they’re little!  As they lose interest in a toy and stop playing with it soon after the new year, put it away and wrap it for Christmas next year.  They might like it better this time and if not, the donation center will!


    Dial in to your creative side.  My favorite gifts over the last few Christmases have come from a good friend and former roommate who continues to make the coolest stuff on a budget.  Thoughtful, functional and they take up hardly any space!  Her home-made magnets are still on my fridge but I can’t say I remember wearing that scarf from Aunt Sarah often.


    Don’t knock gift cards.  P.S. – they’re no longer tacky, folks.  Just plain functional and always welcome.


    So with these small tidbits and reminders, go into this holiday season feeling confident in your savings knowledge, strong in your good senses and extraordinary in your giving capacity without overdoing it.  It is possible!  And I’ll bet that as the week between Christmas and New Year’s approaches this year, you’ll feel pretty awesome instead of overindulged.


    © 2011-2012 Mary Cate Claudias, Charm City Organizers. All Rights Reserved.


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


  • 10/17/2012 3:29 PM | Anonymous

    by Sherri Fabic of FRAMEWORK Organizing & Design

     

    There are multiple types of disorganization: regular disorganization, chronic disorganization, and hoarding. Regular disorganization, which everyone experiences from time to time, is characterized by disorganization that is temporary and is not expected to persist into the future. It's a sort of "fix it and forget it" disorganization. The degree and longevity of the disorganization are what separate regular disorganization from chronic disorganization.


    Hoarding is different from chronic disorganization in that it is a compulsive behavior which includes acquiring and saving of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value, living spaces that are so cluttered that they are unusable, and significant distress or impairment caused by the clutter. 


    The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) states that :

    "Chronic Disorganization (CD) is characterized by disorganization that has persisted for a long period of time, has a negative impact on daily quality of life, has not responded to repeated self-help attempts, and is expected to continue into the future." 


    Let's look at these characteristics of Chronic Disorganization:

    • Persisting for a long period means that it has been present at some level for years, often since adolescence or childhood.
    • A negative quality of life implies daily effects on social, personal and work activities such as paying bills, showing up on time, personal care and turning in assignments.
    • Repeated self-help attempts such as 'how to' books and programs have met with little or no success.
    • Expectation of future disorganization is based on past experience with the failed attempts and the long period of living under these conditions.

    Furthermore, there are three underlying components that affect chronic disorganization.


    1. Beliefs about Self and Possessions. These are based on the relationship between one's identity and one's possessions.


    2. Brain Based Conditions. These are conditions that occur due to neurological or neurochemical factors, such as AD/HD, OCD, or Parkinson's. The individual may not even know if they are affected by one.


    3. Situational Factors. This is the condition or "state of affairs" in which the individual finds him or herself.


    Within these 3 components, many factors are associated with chronic disorganization. Factors such as learning differences, information-processing deficits, perfectionism, mental health issues, aging issues, physical challenges, life crises and systemic problems are just a few.


    There are some traits among chronically disorganized individuals that will vary from person to person, but these are quite common:

    • Accumulations of objects and/or papers beyond apparent necessity or pleasure
    • Cluttered spaces
    • Having difficulty letting go of things
    • Many uncompleted projects
    • Difficulty completing common household tasks
    • Missed deadlines
    • Weak time management skills
    • No (or multiple) calendar in use
    • Frequently misplaced documents or files
    • No (or multiple) filing systems in use
    • Tend to be easily distracted
    • Often have difficulty making decisions
    • Stressful household and/or work environment

    Traditional organizing methods seldom meet with success because they do not address the underlying factors that led to the disorganization in the first place.  So, how does a professional organizer work with a CD client? The professional organizer partners with the client in a collaborative relationship where they provide and maintain objectivity to help the client reduce overwhelm and gain a fresh perspective. They transfer skills and strategies that support the client's organizing goals. They focus on the client's strengths and successes and understanding of underlying factors to help them maintain motivation and get "unstuck".  They may facilitate cognitive and technical skills training and recommend outside resources when appropriate. They may also work in collaboration with the client's other physical and mental health providers and councilors.


    If you believe you have been challenged by chronic disorganization, you can find help through the NAPO Baltimore Chapter or the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.

     

    © 2012 Sherri Fabic, FRAMEWORK Organizing & Design.  All Rights Reserved.


    Sherri Fabic is the Owner of FRAMEWORK Organizing & Design, which specializes in working with the Chronically Disorganized population. Sherri is a member of National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), NAPO-Baltimore, the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) and of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD).


  • 10/02/2012 2:34 PM | Anonymous

    by Kathleen Durham of KD SpaceLifts

     

    In the past year, almost 1 million people have joined the ranks of ‘independent workers’ in the US, bringing the tally to 17 million, according to Virginia-based business consulting firm MBO Partners. Their second annual “State of Independence” career study, released last month, indicates that the solo entrepreneur, or solopreneur, career path is a growing trend despite economic uncertainties. 


    Who are these independent workers?  They are people who work 15 or more hours a week in non-traditional, full or part-time employment.  They identify themselves as consultants, freelancers, contractors, self-employed or on-call workers.  The gender makeup is almost evenly split between men and women, and crosses the age spectrum from Generation Y (ages 21-32), Generation X (33-49), and Baby Boomers (50-66).  Solopreneurs are represented in almost every business field. 


    The success of a solopreneur depends on hard work as well as the ability to connect and close a deal.  Every aspect of the business falls upon the shoulders of one person, who performs the duties of an administrative assistant, bookkeeper, marketing department and sales force.  To survive, an independent worker must be thorough, efficient and totally mobile.


    Achieving these goals can be a challenge when the office is a kitchen table or coffee shop.  While the client might not care whether you have a conference room or a coffee nook, he does care about quality of work and professional image.  Organization and presentation are key components in maintaining a successful solopreneur business.  In working with solopreneurs, I recommend a focus on several key areas:


    Separation of Business & Personal

    Even though most independent workers put in far more than the usual 40 hours a week, business life should not engulf your entire life.  Start with a physical separation of work space, even if it is as simple as a dedicated portion of counter space.  Just as you carefully plan your business day, set aside time when you will NOT work and dedicate those hours to family or personal relationships.  Establishing boundaries and balance will reduce stress and boost morale.


    E-mobility

    If you cannot access your files when you are away from your home computer, you are cheating your business.  There are many tools and applications available on the electronic market that will allow you to synchronize your phone, iPad, Mac or PC.  These will allow you to easily share data, photos or videos with a client.


    Workable Workflow

    Solopreneurs must establish a framework for incoming jobs.  How does the work come to you?  What steps do you take after first contact with a client? Once you get the job, how does the work progress and what are your standards for client communication?


    Despite the challenging road a solopreneur travels on the way to business success, the “State of Independence” report found that 71 percent of independent workers had a high level of satisfaction with their work lifestyle, proving what many have always suspected: being your own boss IS a good thing.


    © 2012 Kathleen Durham, KD Space Lifts. All Rights Reserved. 


    Kathleen ("KD") Durham is owner of KD SpaceLifts; dedicated to helping businesses improve efficiency and productivity through the organization of intangible spaces (workflow, systems, processes and procedures) as well as tangible spaces such as the physical workspace.


  • 09/04/2012 11:24 PM | Anonymous

    by Amy Rehkemper of Simplify Organizing


    Class work, homework, permission slips … OH MY

    Medical forms, event reminders, class schedules … OH MY

    PTA letters, progress reports, artwork … OH MY

    Toto, we aren’t on summer break anymore; it’s BACK-TO-SCHOOL! 


    If you are the parent of a school-aged child, you are probably not surprised by the truckload of paper that is systematically dumped on your kitchen counter every Monday-Friday via your child’s backpack. However, this year you are going to be armed and ready when it comes. Here are some back-to-school tips to help parents tame the paper beast!  


    BACKPACK ATTACK…WITH A SNACK!


    One of the best routines that you can establish with your child is to sit down with them for just 2-5 minutes every single school day and empty the contents of their backpack. Ideally this would be done immediately upon their returning home from school, or for working parents, schedule this meeting directly after dinner. For kids who resist the idea, or just have trouble sitting still, couple this “parent pow-wow” with their after-school snack time. If you are a working parent, schedule this over dessert. 


    So what happens at this Mommy meeting (or Daddy date)? Decide which papers need your attention, what’s due tomorrow, and what to do with all the artwork and/or completed class work. By tackling the avalanche of paper each and every day, clutter doesn’t build and important papers don’t go MIA. A surprise perk to this meeting is the opportunity to sneak in some questions about their day and to stay abreast of what’s happening for them emotionally and socially, as well as academically.


    “STAR” METHOD FOR DE-CLUTTERING SCHOOL PAPER


    Do you want a STAR STUDENT? Well then, use the STAR Method for de-cluttering the myriad of paper that comes home from school. You can find solace in the fact that there are actually only FOUR possibilities for what to do with school paper:


    SAVE IT,TOSS IT, ACT ON IT, REFER TO IT LATER


    S - Save It

    For the items kept purely for the sentimental value, know your end goal. If a specific purpose is not known, couldn’t everything that comes home be deemed worthy of saving? Ask yourself, will you be creating a scrapbook for every grade completed, or combining all their elementary best into a K-5 memory book, or maybe you only plan to keep one art portfolio for all their greatest academic achievements.  By knowing your end goal, it is easier to make a decision about what papers should be saved and the best method for storing them.   


    Many parents of preschool through elementary-aged children love using their refrigerator, or a large bulletin board to temporarily display art work and A+ papers.  However, I recommend what I believe is a far better-looking and space-saving way to display your children’s masterpieces: make a wall of fame with frames!



    Image courtesy dynamicframes.com


    Check out the Lil Davinci® Art Cabinet from Dynamic Frames. This is such a clever and useful product.  It looks like an ordinary frame, but wait… the front is on a hinge, so you can effortlessly open it to display your child’s works of art. The art can be changed daily, weekly, seasonally, whatever you and your child decide. This product can also STORE up to 50 pages!  So, not only is it a way to show-off your child’s masterpieces, all of it can LIVE inside the frame too; no filing or piling needed.


    At the end of every school year, clear out everything in the frame. Conveniently, it will already be in reverse chronological order. You can then pare it down to the 5, 10 or 20 items that best reflect your child for that grade.


    T - Toss It

    It is an important life-lesson for your child to learn that not every single thing they do needs to be kept.  The most important part of their school work was their experience creating it, not the experience of watching it collect dust. 


    Hold your “Backpack Attack” meeting next to a recycling can to ease the act of purging paper.  If too much paper is kept, you will dilute the enjoyment and appreciation of the truly superior accomplishments.  Plus, you are already honoring your child’s finest work (by placing it in an art portfolio, frame or scrapbook). By highlighting the BEST, it’s easier to eliminate the REST!


    A- Act On It

    1. DEAL WITH ACTION PAPERS ASAP!  I always say, “Do it now… or suffer later.” The longer you wait to complete a task, the harder it will become and the more you will procrastinate. Don’t chance losing the item, or forgetting the details involved in the task, carve out 15 minutes/day to complete school-related action items.
    2. KEEP ACTION PAPERS SEPARATE. Think of action items as the top dog of the pack.  They should never mingle or intermix with reference paper or memorabilia. Keep them separate from everything else and be sure it is given a special, consistent home. You might designate a wall pocket, inbox tray, or bulletin board exclusively dedicated to items that require action. The only rule is that you must check these action bins daily to make sure nothing is over-looked.


    R- Refer To It Later

    Kids (mostly upper grades) will need a place to put non-action papers deemed useful for later reference. Set-up a student archive file! Place colorful hanging files in a file crate or conveniently-located file drawer, assigning one file for each class or subject, and then label the tabs accordingly.  Place any class work that could be used for test review and you have a convenient “go-to” for study time.

     

    Moral of the story? Don’t let a day pass by without a stealthy attack on the backpack! If you use the STAR method of de-cluttering school papers, you and your child will be sure to have a more organized, stress-free and successful school year.


    © 2012 Amy Rehkemper, CPO® Simplify Organizing®, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 


    Amy is the owner of Simplify Organizing, LLC®, a mother of two, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. She was in the inaugural class of Certified Professional Organizers® and twice featured on HGTV’s “Mission: Organization.”  Since 1999, she has offered residential de-cluttering and organizing services to create stress-free spaces for busy families. 


  • 08/16/2012 4:56 PM | Anonymous

    by Terry Cooch of TLC Home

     

    Can your teen be organized? Well, sure... but it's going to cost you. It will go something like this:


    Set Example. Your teen can become organized, but it starts with you. Eliminate your own chaos. Be organized and be on time. Learn to prioritize. Know how to work well and how to relax.


    KISS and Make Up. "Keep it Simple Sweetie" is the right approach to organizing, but so is forgiveness. Forget who is to blame for the messy path your child has taken, forgive yourselves the past, and start fresh with a positive, can-do attitude.


    Give Warning. Do NOT wake your son on Saturday morning and ask which of his preschool art he would like to keep. DO inform him that, "On Saturday morning at 11:00 we'll be working together to reorganize some of your belongings. Eat breakfast first."


    Reality Check. Determine what is working and what is not, establish motivation, examine time management and create a goals list. Remember, organizing is about his priorities, not yours.


    Reality Attack. Teach the 4 C's: Classify, Clear out, Control, and Continue. Save only what is useful and appreciated, find what remains easily accessible homes in established zones. Together, create a realistic maintenance plan.


    Repeat Yourself. Periodic reminders are necessary. Lower the annoyance factor by coming to an agreement with your child as to how often (or under what conditions) he is to be reminded. Pleasant tone, please.


    Communicate Expectations. Assume nothing. Everything is in its place and a plan has been established, so we're all good? Not really. Let him know where you've placed the bar and your confidence in his ability to achieve it. Then be patient. Change takes time, diligence, and consistency. 


    © 2012 Terry Cooch. All Rights Reserved.


    Terry L. Cooch, owner of TLC Home Complete Home Management Services, is a mother of six and a  professional organizer.

  • 07/31/2012 12:11 PM | Anonymous

    by Laura Kavinski of Timely Transitions, LLC


    So, here we are in my favorite season! It’s summer and what does that mean? Cookouts and pool parties, right? It could also be a great time to get your feet wet in Professional Organizing. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about a career as a PO, and that’s what brought you to the NAPO Baltimore website. So here goes it, let’s get you into the water of Professional Organizing!


    1. The Toe: Your first NAPO Baltimore meeting. Check out our schedule of events and attend as a Guest! NAPO Baltimore is a great group of professionals working together to learn and grow our industry. It’s a space to meet and learn with a positive goal; we consider ourselves "colleagues, not competitors." Every organizer's career path was different, but we all have a similar basis in wanting to use our skills to help people.


    2. The Ankle: You’re in, so start moving your arms around and read everything you can get your hands on! There are so many great books available. The two that I got started with were: How to Start a Home-Based Professional Organizing Business by Dawn Noble, and Time Management from the Inside Out, Second Edition by Julie Morgenstern.


    3. The Knees: Now that you’re assured you’re on the right path, where are your passions? If you’re currently working in another field, where do the two skillsets overlap or complement each other? When I was a child, timeout wasn’t a punishment because I’d just spend the time re-arranging my room. I’d figure out a new design and re-work it with the same items. Having earned the nickname “Miss Allied,” I probably should have anticipated my career path. I’m sure many of you have had similar stories from organizing your kindergarten classroom’s toys and art supplies to that giddy feeling helping friends map out their class schedules in college (ahh, time management!). What are your transferable skills? Try this Transferable Skills Worksheet.


    4. The Waist: Create your Action plan. Where do you want to be in 5 years? Hopefully it will include some of the skills you enjoy using, which you identified using the transferable skills worksheet above. From there, work backwards. Where do you need to be at year 4 to get you there? How about at year 3, 2, and 1? My advice is be specific in the 5th and 1st year plans as the years in between will be up for revision. Who knows, you may surpass your 1st year goals in 6 months!


    5. The Shoulders: Now it’s time for all the legal legwork. For most people this will be the least fun, but it is by far the most important. It’s the foundation on which you will build your business and your future. Don’t short change this step. Here’s a website that is helpful: Maryland: Checklist for New Businesses.


    6. The Dunk! The best part! You did it, you’re there and all you need to do is start swimming. Create your website, create your marketing plan and start looking for the clients that fit your skillset.


    Above all, have fun! Each day, each month, each year is like one lap in the pool. Each lap is a new chance to move ahead, and each stroke is a chance to gain distance in a positive direction. Happy swimming!


    © 2012 Laura Kavinski. All Rights Reserved.


    Laura Kavinski is in her second year as a member of NAPO and her second year with Timely Transitions®, LLC. Laura has been organizing pretty much her entire life. Her expertise includes all aspects of residential organizing as well as small business acumen.

  • 07/17/2012 2:54 PM | Anonymous

    by Emily Herwig of Tidy Life, LLC

     

    You may have heard the saying, "Clutter is an accumulation of delayed decisions."  We tend to toss our belongings around without care or respect. We live in a disposable society; stuff is cheap to buy and replace. New purchases are shiny, exciting and carefully packaged, yet are soon relegated to the back of closets and junk drawers. Paperwork and junk mail bombard us daily and we can't keep up. Clutter is the symptom of this disease.


    Whether we realize it or not, we're faced with a decision every time we pick something up, put something down, buy something new, get something dirty, break something, use the last thing in a box, empty a bottle, remove a paper from an envelope… you get the idea.  


    This decision is 2-fold:


    1. What will I do with this object now?  Keep it, return or exchange it, wash or clean it, refill, recharge or repair it, put it away or file it, throw it out or recycle it, donate it, sell it or give it away, or put it in storage.


    2. When will I do it? Now, or later.


    Most of the time we don't practice mindful handling of our belongings. We toss something wherever it lands, AVOIDING the 1st decision and defaulting to “Later” on the 2nd one. The clutter grows and so do our stress levels.  According to the Clutter Decision Matrix (below), every time you are presented with a decision, one of 3 things can happen:



    Clutter Decision Matrix © Tidy Life, LLC


    Every little thing you handle is a candidate for clutter. The little things accumulate and clutter turns into a big problem.  Remind yourself that you control the stuff, it does not control you.


    For 1 day, try practicing mindful handling and make decisions as opportunities arise.  Anything you start, follow it through to completion, even if for now that means putting a task on your to-do list. The blissful lack of clutter left in your wake at the end of the day may just motivate good new habits for the future.


    © 2011-2012 by Emily Herwig, Tidy Life LLC.  All Rights Reserved.


    Emily Herwig is the owner of Tidy Life, LLC based in Baltimore. She helps individuals and businesses maximize their limited time and space through organization, productivity, time management, and technology. Emily is currently serving as the Director of Communications & Technology for the NAPO Baltimore Chapter.

  • 06/11/2012 4:36 PM | Anonymous

    by Nadine Sachs of Organized2Succeed

     

    As a young child I always dreamed of leaving for our annual beach vacation early in the morning. Climbing into our car, while still dark, seemed like an exciting way to begin a vacation. But, my father, being the perfectionist that he was, spent hours arranging and rearranging the suitcases before he tied them to the top of the car. Much to my disappointment, we would eventually pull out of our driveway mid morning with the sun shining brightly in the sky. My poor mother had to keep an eye out on my now exhausted father, afraid that he would fall asleep while driving!


    Packing for a trip can be stressful, especially if left until the last minute. While traveling by air versus by car may require different research and preparation, the following general packing tips will provide great ideas to give you an organized start to any vacation! 


    Prepare a packing list ahead of time and eliminate unnecessary items by researching what may or may not be provided by your accommodation. For example, is it really necessary to take a hairdryer when your hotel room provides that item? To avoid having to recreate this, keep a copy for the next time that you travel. Also, remember to get a local weather report a few days prior to departure. Adding a sweater or jacket to your list will prevent you unnecessarily purchasing one at your destination if the weather is going to be cooler than expected.


    Lighten your load by purchasing travel size toiletries and store them in a travel bag. The example below shows one that folds up compactly for travel and then unfolds to hang on a towel bar, hook or doorknob in your hotel bathroom.



    Photo credit: The Container Store


    Reduce the bulk of carrying full bottles of medications and vitamins by using Medicine Storage Boxes that contain seven or fourteen mini compartments. If you are flying, make sure to carry your medications and other important papers in your carryon bag.



    Photo credit: forgettingthepill.com


    Prevent wrinkles by using dry cleaner plastic bags. Pack one hanging item per bag and your clothes will arrive wrinkle free! Use plastic grocery bags to isolate dirty shoes and Ziploc bags for shampoo and other items that may leak. Take a few extra plastic bags to accommodate dirty clothes on your trip home.


    Roll your non-hanging clothes to save space and reduce wrinkles. For jeans, fold them lengthwise, so that the legs are stacked on top of each other. Starting from the bottom, roll them all the way up. For t-shirts, place them face down, fold the arms back so that you have a long rectangle, fold again lengthwise and then roll up. Another option is to plan ahead exactly what outfit you will wear each day and roll or hang an entire outfit together!   


    Use a nylon mesh bag to store your under garments and lingerie. Stuff your socks or other small items into your shoes to save space.   


    Pack your suitcase as if it is a clothing jigsaw puzzle, with no empty spaces. Lay your bag flat and pack the heaviest items like your toiletry bags on the end of the bag that becomes the bottom once it is standing upright. In this way, it won't crush your clothes and it will prevent your suitcase from becoming top heavy and falling over.


    Consider using a portable packing system (see below) that will allow you to unpack in seconds since your clothes are already organized on “shelves”. The shelves collapse when packed and then unfold as you hang the system on a closet rod or on the top of a door.



    Photo credit: Clever Container


    Plan ahead for the security line at airports by wearing easy to remove shoes, as little jewelry as possible and store electronics in an easy to access pouch. To eliminate a sore shoulder or back while walking around the airport, consider a carryon bag with wheels.

    I wish you safe, memorable and organized travels this coming summer season!

     


    © 2012 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 Secretary of NAPO-Baltimore and enjoys helping her clients achieve and maintain a less stressful and simpler lifestyle. 

  • 05/15/2012 2:16 PM | Anonymous

    by Rachel Jenkins of ScrapMyPix


    If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by the mounting numbers of photos that you are collecting on your computer hard drive, you might want to read on.  It doesn't take a great deal of research to know that our generation of digital picture takers probably takes more pictures at a single event like a birthday party or vacation than our parents took in 30 years or maybe even a lifetime. I don't have to look far for affirmation when I see how many pictures there are of me as a kid compared to the number of pictures I've taken of my kids. It's not a reflection of my parenting. I'm not saying I love my kids more than my parents loved me. Or at least, I don't think so.


    It's become so easy to take 100's of pictures in just a few hours, and it feels free doesn't it? Until you have to spend the time to sort through the photos and figure out which ones to keep and how to organize them. Our parents (and those of us that have spanned both the film and digital generations) had to pay for film and to develop the photos whether they were good or not. There were limitations of 24 or 36 pictures per roll, and we took just one or two pictures of a particular subject. There was a time we exercised self control when it came to releasing that shutter button because each click cost us money. My, how things have changed.


    When I work with clients and their photos, my main goal is to help them let go of the guilt they feel about "neglecting" their photos.  It's my goal to help clients enjoy their photos again and not feel overwhelmed by them.  We take photos to remember our family and friends and the feelings those times elicited.  It's hard to remember those events when they're hidden on the memory cards, so I'm going to give you some tools to reclaim those memories. 


    It's time to start some new habits.

    • If you've got a box of flash drives and memory cards, get them downloaded onto your computer.  Then start with the most recent and work backwards.  Trust me, you'll feel better about what you accomplish. How can you feel behind if you're working on current pictures right? Before you reformat that card, make sure your pictures are on your computer. When you are ready to clear your card, use the reformat option on your camera and don't just use the delete button on your camera. It's better for all those new pictures you're going to take. 
    • Moving forward, commit to downloading your photos after each event or at a maximum at the end of every month. Don't wait until your memory card fills up. By then you potentially have 400+ photos to sort through.  We know what happens right?
    • Set up a rating system and stick with it.  It will help you determine what pictures to keep, what pictures to display and share, and which pictures to delete, delete, delete. Yes, it's okay to delete. Most photo organization software applications have a star rating system you can use. Here's what I do:
    • 5 stars = Pulitzer Prize  (I don't have any of those)
    • 4 stars = My favorite and worthy of the wall or special display
    • 3 stars = I want it in an album
    • 2 star = I like it but not enough for an album (eventually I may delete these too)
    • 1 star = Delete. Once you've gone through your photos for a particular event, then you go back and run a search on all your "1 stars" and delete them. Ah, purging...it feels so good.
    • Set up a time at least once a month to move your pictures from your camera to your computer. 


    Finally, put together a backup strategy so you safeguard those precious memories and maybe practice some self control with the shutter button! You don't really need 10 pictures of the same pose. It will save you time in the end game of taming the digital photo monster and give you a chance to be part of those special memories instead of always being behind the camera and at the keyboard.


    © 2012 by Rachel Jenkins, ScrapMyPix.  All Rights Reserved.


    Rachel is the owner of ScrapMyPix based in Columbia, Maryland. She specializes in preserving and organizing both printed and digital photographic materials. She is a Certified Member of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers and an Associate Member of NAPO Baltimore.

  • 05/01/2012 2:29 PM | Anonymous

    by Jacquie Ross of CastAway the Clutter!


    Regardless of whether you’re a busy working parent or stay at home parent, if you have kids, you probably have some clutter in your home.  Everyone has stuff.  The problem occurs when the stuff begins to take over and gets in the way of living in a comfortable and functional home.  Here are some quick and easy ways to keep your home clutter-free while setting a good example for the rest of your family.

    1. Ask yourself what you use on a daily basis in your kitchen and bathroom.  If you find you only pull out your pasta strainer or hair dryer once every couple of weeks, store these items neatly in a closet or storage pantry.  Make more room for the things you use on a daily basis.
    2. Keep the things you always use within arm’s reach.  Cooking items like spatula’s, spoons, and pots should always be easily accessible.  Look out for items that take up a lot of space, such as unused coffee mugs and dishes.
    3. Clean up as you cook.  When you’re cooking, clean up as you go along.  Put extra leftovers immediately in the refrigerator, and clean your workspace before you sit down.  Put items back in their place when you’ve finished using them.  This will also make for fewer clean-ups after dinner!
    4. Utilize wall space.  This may seem like an obvious way to de-clutter, but wall space is often underused!  Look for where you can add shelves in the kitchen or bathroom to make cupboards and cabinets less cluttered.
    5. Organize with your kids.  Take 20 minutes or so and go into your children’s bedroom.  Get rid of old clothes that no longer fit and bag them up for donation.  Too many unused toys?  Get rid of those too. Do this every few months as your children grow, and you will find it easier to keep their rooms and other spaces clutter-free.
    6. Clean out the medicine cabinet.  Are your bathroom cabinets filled with junk that has expired or is half empty?  If you don’t have room for your bathroom items, you may find yourself shoving items anywhere, creating more clutter.  Get rid of expired prescriptions, make-up and toiletries.
    7. Get rid of extra paper.  If possible, try to use online bill-pay for your monthly bills to decrease the amount of paper you receive in the mail.  Un-subscribe to junk mail and keep a folder in one place for important papers.  Any paperwork that is not a necessity should be recycled or shredded.
    8. Use the one in, one out rule.  Whenever you buy something new, remember that something old should go.  Donate, sell or give it away to a friend.
    9. Store unused items in storage or in the basement.  Do you really need to have 5 sets of dishes in your kitchen cabinets?  How about those 20 pairs of sheets?  Ask yourself, if I haven’t used it in 3 months; am I likely to use it anytime soon?  While you needn’t throw these items away, you can store them away to create a more clutter free environment.
    10. Always think about donating your items to a charity.  Pick one or two charitable organizations that are meaningful to you and it will be a lot easier to get rid of things you no longer need.  Talk to your children about donating toys and clothes they no longer use, and remind them that they are helping out another family.

    While de-cluttering and getting rid of things can sometimes be hard, the end result is always more fulfilling.  Getting rid of clutter will help you to lead a more stress-free and happy life, so start today!


    © 2011-2012 by Jacquie Ross, CastAway the Clutter!  All Rights Reserved.


    Jacquie Ross is a professional organizer, certified life and family coach and award winning owner of CastAway the Clutter! A busy mom/parent expert, Jacquie works with moms, families and busy professionals to clear their clutter, manage their time and run their households more effectively.



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