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  • 04/19/2012 5:28 PM | Anonymous

    by Susan von Suhrke of Timely Transitions


    So what IS it about closets? Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em! 

    Seriously, if you have clothing lying around in your bedroom on the backs of chairs, tossed on the top of your dresser, or even being held hostage in a laundry basket with other clean clothes… quite possibly that’s the stuff you wear the most.  What might be taking up the space in your closet are things you don’twear!  Why not give yourself the gift of stress-free dressing and take a couple of hours to spring-clean your closet?  If you’re procrastinating, get a “fashionista” friend to help - it will go faster and be more fun.


    As you change out winter couture for warm weather wardrobe, take some time to become reacquainted with what’s in your closet. Have some boxes, bags or laundry hampers on hand to sort discarded items by destination. Putting donations into clear garbage bags will prevent you from accidentally tossing them out with the garbage. In Maryland, Giant Foods carries an in-house brand of clear garbage bags. And any damaged, stained clothing can be given to Goodwill IF it is separated out and marked “Salvage.”


    Before you begin, I highly recommend: 

    1. Ditching (recycling) the wire hangers. Do your clothing a favor and invest in decent hangers. I personally prefer heavy dutyplastic hangers; available at Target in both regular size and XL (ideal for size 16+).
    2. Catch up with the laundry AND pick up the dry cleaning.  ALL of your clothing needs to be in one location.

    As you begin pulling items from your closet, put similar types of clothing into stacks on your bed (skirts, tops,  jackets,  slacks, etc.) “Sort Like with Like” is one of the mantras of Professional Organizers and it applies nicely here. As you pull items, “file” anything you’ve not worn (or can’t currently wear) into separate piles for “Donate/Gift” or “Salvage”. If you find things you’d wear but have nothing that matches, then jot down what article you need to complete the outfit.


    The standard "rule of thumb" for outsized clothing is to keep one size up & one size down.  Personally, I recommend storing non-current sizes somewhere else.  If it’s too small for you, why have that negative reminder slapping you in the face every day?  If it’s the next size up, well, that’s just inviting trouble, isn’t it? Either way, non-fitting clothing should not be taking up prime real estate in your closet.  Put out-sized clothing into containers; label it with the size and date.  Then store it elsewhere.  In a year when you haven’t retrieved any of the clothing, cut yourself some slack and donate the container, contents and all!


    We have a saying in Feng Shui: “Release the Old to Embrace the New.”

    If your wardrobe is out of control, then you may have “embraced the new” without having gotten rid of the old!  Your unworn clothing can be put to good use by someone else and your life will be so much simpler with a manageable closet… so what are you waiting for?


    Ready? Set? SORT!!!


    © 2012 Susan von Suhrke, Timely Transitions. All Rights Reserved.


    Susan von Suhrke is a Certified Relocation & Transition Specialist (CRTS) and the owner of Timely Transitions, serving clients in Anne Arundel and Prince George's Counties.  She is a member of both the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM); having recently been inducted into NASMM’s “Circle of Service.”  She specializes in residential organizing, relocation planning, and unlike 95% of the general population, she loves to speak in public.

  • 04/05/2012 11:52 PM | Anonymous

    by Sharon Wanamaker of DVDs 2 Cherish

     

    Someday is not a day of the week. Meaning, if you keep saying that someday you will do something with those family movies, then you may not get the chance. The thing about film is that it tends to break down over time. Videos stored on magnetic tape (such as VHS, BetaMax, Super8, miniDV, etc.) deteriorate over time, leaving the video choppy, blurry or even blank. So, with Spring Cleaning on the horizon, make organizing your family movies a priority! So many of us have a jumbled box of tapes; ones of all sizes, and many without labels. And many of us don’t even have a way to play them anymore! But you know that on those are some of your best memories.


    While many camcorder tapes only held 30 minutes of video, DVDs can hold two hours of video, so you can save yourself money, and space on your shelves by having tapes combined. Another space saver is to use cases that hold two discs in them, so be sure to ask that of your video professional.


    When choosing a good video to DVD transfer professional, ask if they do the work at the same location you drop your videos off, or if they outsource by shipping your videos elsewhere. Old family home video media is often fragile, and more importantly, they are often the only copies. The safest way to get your videos transferred is to use a company or professional individual who performs their work in-house, rather than mailing them out.


    To convert video tapes to DVD takes planning and questioning, but in the end it is a tremendous relief to have all your precious family videos transferred to a modern format. Professional Organizers are available to help ease the burden, and many of them know of companies who provide transfer services. When you transfer video tapes to DVD, you not only preserve the life span of your family videos, but you make it far easier to view and share your home videos with those you love. Some people even order extra copies to store safely, so that they feel even better about getting rid of the original tapes all together. Just think of all the space you can free up by doing just that!


    In conclusion, start going through your tape boxes, even for just 15 minutes a day. Get rid of the VHS movies and recorded TV shows that are not your own material, especially if you no longer own a VCR. Then set aside those tapes that are your personal videos, find a professional video transfer company, and knock this off your to do list. Your memories will be preserved, and your house will be more organized in doing so.


    © 2012 Sharon Wanamaker, DVDs 2 Cherish.  All Rights Reserved.


    Sharon is the owner of DVDs 2 Cherish based in Crofton, Maryland. She specializes in converting non-copyrighted video (from VHS and all varieties of camcorder tapes) to DVD, and cassette audio tapes to CD. She also does DVD duplication jobs for individuals as well as several public schools in Maryland. Sharon is an Associate Member of NAPO Baltimore. 

  • 03/18/2012 10:53 PM | Anonymous

    by Nettie Owens of Sappari Solutions


    Every winter I implore folks to look to the heart of their homes, their bedrooms, to find peace and sanctuary. February was the month of love, a sentiment that can and should be carried over into March and the remaining months of the year. When we love ourselves we provide ourselves with the space we need. Part of that space is a peaceful bedroom. Having a place to retreat to is a necessity in this fast paced world. Often, your bedroom becomes a graveyard for unwanted or misplaced stuff: things that you need to make decisions on; clothes that need to be folded. Really, you want to tackle the living room, the kitchen or even the garage before handling the bedroom. However, doing so is like putting on makeup or getting a new haircut when the problem in your appearance lies in your health.


    If your bedroom is out of control, you may find it difficult to sleep, to focus or to handle the daily stressors in your life. I like to think of a bedroom as a sanctuary. Literally a place where you can get away and hide from all the things that may be weighing on you: A place to sleep and rejuvenate; a place to enjoy your significant other. All of these things are important and require you to place yourself first in your busy schedule.


    How can you improve this space if it is out of control? As with anything we start with a plan. Look around and make a list of all that you would like to change. Then pick the one thing on your list that you could do today in 15 minutes of time. Do it! Next, plan for the thing you could do or change that would take the least amount of time and provide the biggest impact. Work on this space in 15-minute intervals, daily. You may have to change a habit or reconsider the purpose of your room. But if you are diligent and thoughtful in the process you will be making improvements in very little time.


    Reclaim your bedroom and find peace. It is the ‘physical’ your home has been waiting for!


    © 2012 Nettie Owens, Sappari Solutions. All Rights Reserved.


    Nettie Owens is a professional organizer and owner of Sappari Solutions serving Harford & Cecil Counties. Since 2004, Sappari Solutions has provided residential and small business clients organizational solutions that fit their lifestyle, budget and schedule. Sappari Solutions is highly committed to protecting the environment and to sustainable business practices.

  • 02/22/2012 2:05 PM | Anonymous

    by Terry Cooch of TLC Home 


    You know you should only keep what you use and love; you’ve read it in every one of your organizing books, but you can't standthe waste of parting with useful items that you spent good money on, and no one will convince you otherwise. However, you aretoying with idea of simplifying and are willing to try it in baby steps.


    These tips are to help you organize what you already own and lessen the need to shop for more. The purpose isn’t to create a more comfortable and efficient station for sitting by the phone to order products from TV infomercials or creating a Favorites List of your Top Ten Email Shopping Sites. You probably have enough stuff anyway.


    Take the quiz below to determine if you are a good candidate for The Shop-at-Home Method of Organizing, or Baby-Stepping it to Organization. Check all of the following that apply to you:

    • You have mega surpluses of useful, practical items: cleaning supplies galore, candles out the... well, you have a lot of candles.
    • You love to collect gifts, but can’t find them when you need them.
    • You have a year's worth of home improvement supplies, new in the package.
    • Office supplies are overflowing from every drawer in your home.
    • You’ve got some cool gadgets; you don’t use them, but you know you will someday.
    • There isn’t a craft you aren’t prepared to make, as soon as you have time.
    • You truly don’t know what some things you own are, but they were good deals.

    Checking even one of the above indicates you are a perfect candidate for using a baby-step method of organization. A slow and steady method to organizing your home is the only way to get back in balance – no cold-turkey for you. If after thinning out your cabinets, closets, shelves, drawers and most of the visible surfaces in your home, you’ve reduced the quantities to amounts that acknowledge the boundaries of each space and create simplicity of use but you still really, really want to hold on to the remaining useful items, read on:


    Categorize your Keeps. Sort your belongings according to where you would go to purchase them.  Set up bins and label with broad category titles such as Bed Bath and Beyond, Office Depot, Sharper Image, Michaels, etc. (Refer to quiz above to determine which are appropriate.) 


    Sub-sort as needed. Bins that contain a large variety or high volume of items may need a sub-sort. Further categorize these items into containers according to the store aisle in which you would find them: Bed Bath & Beyond - Storage, or Michaels - Scrapbooking.


    Make access fun and easy. Select an area of your home that does not interfere with daily activities: an extra dresser in a guest room, a set of shelves in a utility closet, or a wall full of shelves in an unfinished basement. Nickname this area "The Mall or Festival at your name here."


    Add good signage. Assign each space (drawer, shelf or set of shelves) a store’s name. Contain the sub-sorted items separately and label those also. If you have several sets of shelves, each unit is a store, and each shelf is an aisle. You could sub-sort those as well: Office Depot - School Supplies - Writing Supplies.


    Shop at home, not from home. Maintain your system by using it. When you run out of something check out your own store first before making a purchase. Should new arrivals come in, get them to their proper location: Store - Aisle - Section.


    Consider a clearance sale. Be sure to re-evaluate in a year. Examine how much of your inventory has been used. Ask yourself, "Do I have more than I’ll use?" Have any of the items that you thought you might use, been used? Could any of this go to better use elsewhere?


    Share with friends, donate, or sell. Take another step toward organization by parting with what you can. Forgive yourself for the spending mistakes you may have made and enjoy knowing that your surplus stock will be used. Then next year, take another step. 


    © 2012 Terry Cooch, TLC Home. All Rights Reserved.


    Terry L. Cooch is an author, professional organizer and owner of TLC Home. She works one-on-one to help individuals conquer clutter and chaos, eliminate stress, and save time and money by providing organizational solutions that fit their lifestyle.

  • 02/06/2012 3:06 PM | Anonymous

    by Barbara Boone of Productivity Solutions


    Tax time is stressful for most people. However, if you have your information organized ahead of time, it can be less stressful. Follow the directions below to create your own organizing container for tax back-up receipts.


    Once the receipts are categorized, it will be much easier to figure out what each category total will be. Take the totals to your accountant instead of having him/her work with the receipts. That will cost you more time per hour when you can do that part yourself. If you use a computer program like QuickBooks, the totals are already figured for you, if you have previously taken the time to enter all of the information. You are still required by the IRS to keep the hardcopy receipts for at least six years. 

    1. Make a list of all of the deductions that you take for your business.
    2. Check with your accountant or financial person to see if you forgot any deductions. These are some of the common categories for deductions: Advertising/Marketing, Cell Phone, Credit Card, Donations, Insurance, Office Expenses, Books/Magazines, Professional Services, Professional Dues, Training/Seminars, Travel, and Taxes, Internet, Equipment, Bank Statements, Credit Card Statements.  Include a compartment for Mileage and Income. You may have more or different categories.
    3. Buy an accordion file folder with the alphabet labeled. One without a top works better than one with a top. The reason you get one with the alphabet labeled is that you need as many compartments as possible. You will not use the letters, but will instead create labels according to the names of the deductions you have chosen.
    4. If you have an electronic label maker, use it to make the labels for each compartment of the accordion file. If you don’t have an electronic one, hand-write the labels.
    5. Lay the labels out and put them in alphabetical order. It is easier to file receipts this way.
    6. Attach the labels to the file folder.
    7. Place the file folder in a file cabinet next to your desk if possible. It should be close to your desk so that you log in the receipts into your computer files and then immediately file them into the accordion folder.
    8. When it is time to do your taxes, total each category and take the information, along with the back-up receipts, to your accountant.


    © 2011 Barbara Boone, Productivity Solutions. All Rights Reserved.


    Barbara Boone is a professional organizer and productivity consultant for small businesses through her business, Productivity Solutions. She specializes in paper management and file set-up to help business owners save time, money and space in order to be more productive. She is a speaker for small groups and a published author.


  • 01/24/2012 2:10 PM | Anonymous

    By Jacquie Ross of CastAway the Clutter! 


    Have your efforts to get organized failed?  Has procrastination become such a bad habit that it sabotages your efforts to get organized?  Procrastination can easily become a habit and can be a hard habit to break.  However, with some honest self-assessment and an organized and attainable plan of action, you can improve your efforts to be more organized and stop procrastination forever.


    Many people who procrastinate are so used to functioning this way, they don’t even recognize it as procrastination.  Procrastination comes in many forms.  Here are a few clues that you may be procrastinating:

    1. You’ve been talking about decluttering and organizing your guest room for several months now.
    2. You’ve been avoiding decluttering your guest room because you don’t really want to do it, so you make excuses by doing other “busy work” instead.
    3. You feel overwhelmed by the task and don’t know where to start, so you do nothing.
    4. You have tried to declutter and organize your guest room in the past, but always find a way to finish early, leaving the project unfinished with no specific plan to continue the job on another day.

    How do you kick the procrastination habit?  Begin by taking that overwhelming guest room and breaking it down into smaller parts that feel less overwhelming.  Then allocate a certain amount of time to work in the room; and when the time is up, you’re finished for the day.


    Be accountable to someone else about improving your procrastination habits.  Tell them about the room you want to organize and when you’d like it cleared out and clutter-free.  They can help you to set deadlines and also check in with you from time to time to see if you’re making progress.  This will most likely create a commitment on your part to fulfill the expectations they've set for you.


    As you work on your procrastination habits, you will probably begin to notice that you procrastinate in other areas of your life too.  This can affect your overall productivity, so it’s a good idea to sit down and map out a plan to manage your time more effectively.  When a deadline is approaching, be sure to give yourself enough time each day to work on the project so it doesn't sneak up on you at the last minute. 

    When you are close to reaching your organization goal, reward yourself for good behavior.  Don't wait until you've accomplished the end goal, but reward yourself for your successes along the way. 


    By making a commitment to avoid procrastinating, you'll soon be well on your way to getting those organizing projects done.  You will also discover that you will feel more relaxed, more productive and less stressed! 


    © 2012 Jacquie Ross, CastAway the Clutter.  All Rights Reserved.


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


  • 01/09/2012 10:51 AM | Anonymous

    By Trish Walsh of Conquer Clutter 


    As we begin the new year, many people have added "get organized" to their list of goals. The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) has designated the month of January as National Get Organized Month, or "GO Month." With this in mind, I've outlined below some things to consider as you interview Professional Organizers to help with your organizing projects and clutter. 

    1. Look for an organizer who will respect your confidentiality and is non-judgmental – someone willing to listen to your needs and goals, and work with you to get there.
    2. Patience. The organizing process can be physically and mentally overwhelming. It’s important to find an organizer who will work at your pace.
    3. Is the organizer an active member of NAPO or the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD)? Not only do these professional organizations offer relevant continuing education classes and seminars, affiliation shows commitment to the field.
    4. Ask about the organizer’s area of expertise. For example, some organizers specialize in clients with ADD or ADHD, seniors, or students. Others specialize in wardrobes and closets, or paper management and file systems.
    5. What services does the organizer offer? Will he or she remove donations and trash, or simply coordinate removal? Does the organizer offer a shopping service for supplies and materials? Is there a fee for the additional services?
    6. What are the organizer’s fees? Is it hourly or by-the-project? Is there a minimum number of hours required per booking? Does the organizer charge for cancelled appointments? What forms of payment does the organizer accept?
    7. Does the organizer carry liability insurance? This is particularly important if your project involves packing and unpacking or a move.

    Lastly, the NAPO website defines a professional organizer as someone who uses tested principles and expertise to enhance the lives of clients. By designing custom organizing systems and teaching organizing skills, they help individuals and businesses take control of their surroundings, their time, their paper piles, their lives!

    Armed with this information, you are now prepared to find a Professional Organizer that best meets your needs.


    © 2012 Trish Walsh, Conquer Clutter.  All Rights Reserved.


    Trish is a writer, speaker and owner of Conquer Clutter. She holds a Certificate of Study in Chronic Disorganization from ICD and is a Golden Circle member of NAPO. She offers personal, non-judgmental assistance to empower homeowners and small businesses to reclaim their space and gain a more ordered life.

  • 08/01/2011 10:52 AM | Anonymous

    by Jacquie Ross of CastAway the Clutter!


    After a long summer break, most children are bored and ready to go back to school, especially when it’s time for back to school shopping.  However, before you leave for your back to school shopping spree, you’ll need to get organized, so that you can have the best experience possible.  First and foremost, you’ll want to set a budget, and let your children know that you have one.  This will teach them a lesson in responsibility and they are less likely to be disappointed when they can’t have anything they want!


    Here are 8 tips to help you to plan a successful back to school shopping trip:

    1. Before you begin your back to school shopping spree, go through your child’s closet and thoroughly de-clutter and organize.  Donate clothes and shoes that they are no longer wearing.
    2. Take inventory of the remainder of clothes which can be worn during the school year.  This avoids wasting time shopping for clothes that they don’t need.
    3. Make a list of essential and basic clothing that they will need during the school year.  For instance, underwear, socks, t-shirts or sweat shirts, shoes, boots, raincoats, hats, gloves and scarves. Figure out approximately how many of each item they will need, and consider stocking up on extras to use later in the year.
    4. Keep in mind that you may not just be shopping for their day-to-day wear; you may also have to plan ahead for their after-school activity clothes too. Take into account what after-school activities they will be participating in and plan accordingly.
    5. Check the school’s dress codes so that you have up to date information before you go shopping for back to school. Otherwise, you may run the risk of ending up with a wardrobe full of clothes that your child can only wear on weekends.
    6. Check out back to school sales flyers and see if you can get a few things you need on sale. You may also want to check for deals online, and also take advantage of online coupon codes.
    7. Before you leave for your shopping trip, make an agreement with your child that they can pick out one or two outfits that they like.  This will make the trip a little more fun for them.  Of course, you’ll also need to remind them of your budget.
    8. During your shopping trip, you’ll want to wear comfortable shoes, shop smart, take advantage of sales and try to mix and match separates as much as possible.


    Finally, if your state has a Tax Free Shopping Week, take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity and plan the majority of your shopping during this week.  By planning and organizing your back to school shopping trip, you’ll feel more in control, less stressed and are less likely to overspend.


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


    Jacquie Ross is a professional organizer, life and family coach and award winning owner of CastAway the Clutter! A busy mom expert, Jacquie works with moms, families and busy professionals to clear their clutter, manage their time and run their households more effectively.  Learn more about her organizing and coaching services at www.CastAwaytheClutter.com.

  • 07/21/2011 3:05 PM | Anonymous

    by Barbara Boone of Productivity Solutions

     

    Everyone loves to go on vacation. You can feel the excitement and anticipation as the day draws closer. Is some of that excitement disguised as anxiety over getting everything ready in time? How can you avoid that anxiety? Here are some suggestions that you just might want to try.

    • Use a packing list. You may also customize your own list. Making one ahead of time and printing out copies for future use is valuable because you create the list in a time of peace and calm.
    • Lay out your suitcase(s) ahead of time in a room that has little traffic and low usage. How far ahead of time depends on you, your comfort level, and usage of the room for the suitcases. I generally lay mine out a week ahead of the vacation in my guest bedroom. I do this because I can calmly place things in the suitcase as I think of them. The first items I put into the suitcase are the staples of a vacation: pajamas, underwear, socks or hosiery. These of course are extra things that I am not currently using.
    • Think through your itinerary. Are you going to be doing any unusual activities that require some special clothing or equipment? If you can, put these items in or just near the suitcase so that you don’t forget them.
    • If you can plan your outfits ahead of time, do so. I put the tops and bottoms of outfits that I want to take with me in the room with the suitcase. As the departure day gets closer, I pair up the outfits and see if I want to add or subtract anything.
    • If you have your outfits laid out, decide what accessories you want to take with you such as jewelry. Planning ahead ensures that you won’t forget that favorite necklace that matches your blue dress.
    • Pack enough medications for your trip. It is always a good idea to include some extras in case you get delayed. I put mine in ahead of time so that I won’t forget them.
    • If traveling by plane, plan on how you will get to the airport. Make sure you have a back-up plan if things change.
    • If traveling by car, have your mechanic look over the car for routine maintenance.
    • Have all of your travel documents collected together in a container. This will make it easier to find them when you need them. I use a plastic badge holder with a loop to put over my head for my security information when traveling by plane. I can easily show them to the security people while I am holding my suitcase or purse.
    • Give your travel information to a close friend or family member. This tip is for your safety as well as the comfort of your family and friends.
    • If packing more than one bag, think about putting like items together. For instance, all shoes in the same place. If you are traveling to the beach and need to pack a beach bag, that can be done ahead of time. Make sure to include sunscreen, towels, flip-flops, bathing suits, sunglasses, and reading material.

    As the departure day gets closer, do the following:

    • Stop the mail/newspaper. This is a security precaution so that your home doesn’t look like you are on vacation from the outside.
    • Check animal boarding info if applicable.
    • Water plants or have someone come and do it for you.
    • Check your thermostat if you want to put it in vacation mode or turn it off completely.
    • Turn off the icemaker in the refrigerator so that it doesn’t overflow while you are away.
    • Tell close neighbors so that they can keep an eye out for any suspicious behavior.
    • Leave a light on somewhere in the house so that it appears that people are home.

    If you follow these easy suggestions, you will feel more at peace when you leave the house and you will enjoy your vacation much more.



    © 2011 Barbara Boone, Productivity Solutions. All Rights Reserved.


    Barbara Boone is a professional organizer and productivity consultant for small businesses. She specializes in paper management and file set-up to help business owners save time, money and space in order to be more productive in their offices. She is also a speaker for small groups and a published author.

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