61 posts categorized "Organizing"


Organizing Tips for October

Fall is officially here. 
In some parts of our country the weather may not show it, but it is time
to get moving towards the season filled with decorating and entertaining. 

Buy your Christmas Cards now while selection is best and
send out “Save the Date” cards for any holiday events you plan.  Update your calendar with all the special fall events taking place, put out your fall décor and get your yard ready for
falling leaves.

This month we will concentrate on getting the dining room
and/or eating areas organized and ready for holiday entertainment. 

  • If you have a dining room that is not used often, the table can become a dumping
         ground for items put there temporarily. 
         What starts out as the mail mutates into miscellaneous things
         coming into the  house.  Start today to make it off limits for
         the temporary put down.
  • Inventory your linens and purge what you haven’t used in years.  If some hold sentimental value, see ifsomeone in your family can use them and give them the honor they deserve.  If some are in need of repair, make the
         decision to take care of that or to move them on.  Remember removing those that you do not use will make more space for those that you love and use.
  • Look over your dinnerware and remove pieces that cannot be used because of
         chips or other damage.  If there are
         odd pieces that cannot be used with other items, move them out, too.  Complete sets that are stored in boxes and never opened should be sold, donated or given to someone who wants
         them.   As with your linens, move on pieces that are simply taking up space.
  • Provide adequate seating for all those eating together.  Folding chairs can be
         used and stored in a closet or other storage area afterwards.  Wooden posts located on the wall of the garage can be used to hang them so they do not take up floor space.
  • Cloth or paper napkins can be placed in an attractive basket, bowl or tray and serve as a centerpiece.
  • Placemats are more versatile to use than tablecloths
         and can be left on the table as decorations or stacked in the center with
         a napkin basket.
  • Dinnerware, flatware and serving pieces should be
         located in an area convenient to setting the table and replacing after clean up.
  • Special occasion or seasonal dinnerware or silverware
         should be kept only if used and you have sufficient space for it.  .
  • Table cloths can be stored in shallow drawers or hung
         over a dowel or hanger covered with the empty roll from wrapping paper or
         paper towels.  Slit the roll on one side and slip it over the rod.  Hang
         it in a closet.  This will prevent  additional wrinkles.
  • Additional linens can be stored in the drawers or
         shelves of dining room furniture such as chests or buffets.  You may also use a linen closet if one exists.
  • Consider placing a clothing chest with drawers in the
         dining room if no longer needed for clothing.  It is ideal for linens.

Additional Activities to make the dining room more functional

  • The dining table may be a good choice for homework if
         the room is good for studying.  A tote with desk supplies may be used and then stored when the work is done.
  • It may also used for craft projects or other art activities.  Cover the table with a
         protective cloth, cutting board or plastic before using it. Portable
         storage for those supplies make it easier to clean the area when done.
  • If the family needs home office space, reserving a
         corner of the dining room for that activity is a good use of space.  Choose a table or desk that compliments the other furnishings.  Some items
         can be stored in the furniture already there or in rolling carts and file
         trolleys that can be moved to a nearby closet when not in use. 
  • If there is not space in the family room for board
         games and card playing, those items could be stored in the dining room for
         use there..
  • When not used, keep the tops of buffets, chests and china cabinets clear and free of clutter..
  • Keep the table attractive when not used with a centerpiece and/or tablecloth.
  • Use washable decorative fabrics on surfaces to reduce
         the amount of dusting.

The end of the month also brings Halloween
and the Trick or Treat invaders.

  •  First you want to be sure the pathway to your
    door is safe. Remember to clean the driveway, sidewalk, steps and porch while
    it is still daylight. Fallen leaves can be slippery especially when wet so they should be removed as well as any toys, twigs, etc. Make sure this area is well lit by leaving your porch light and any other light fixtures on during the Trick or Treat hours.

  • It is recommended that you give only individually pre-wrapped candy. Since this is the beginning of flu season, you should not allow each child to reach into
    your container to get the candy since each one could be contaminating the other
    pieces with his hands. Rather, you should choose and drop the candy into each
    child's bag yourself.

  • As an extra precaution, you may want to use disinfecting wipes to clean your doorbell or
    door handles if you keep it closed between visitors. This can be done
    periodically during the evening or at the end when Trick or Treating is over. Keep
    hand sanitizer near the door and use it yourself as often as you think
    necessary.  It is a shame we need to be
    so careful, but it is always better to be safe than sorry and we want to do our
    part in keeping our homes and neighbors as healthy and safe as possible.

If you have the splendor of seeing the leaves changing
colors in the fall, get out and enjoy it as much as you can.  It is one of the most beautiful times of the




Organizing Tips for August

Summer is moving on.  This month we
are concentrating our organizing on Toys and Electronics

But first:

Back to School
items are now on sale and families are getting kids ready for a new year at
college or school.  Take advantage of
great bargains on those supplies not just for the kids but for you home and office,
etc.  In Virginia we also have a tax free weekend the
first weekend of August on many of those items. 


With that in
mind, we need to make space for new items. 
Here are some tips to guide you along the way.

Children’s Toys

  • Children learn from their toys but there should be
         limits on how many they own and how many they can have out at one
         time.  Decide what that will be
         ahead of time and stick to it. 
         Encourage relatives and friends to give clutter free gifts to your
  • Toys should be more difficult to get out than put
         away.  Books that are stored upright
         on a shelf are easy to pull out and more difficult to put back in
         order.  A better choice would be a
         dishpan, bucket or basket that makes the child look for the book he wants
         but will be easy for him to drop it back in when
         he is done with it.
  • Depending on the age of the child, most toys should
         be kept in open bins arranged in cubes or shelves and labeled so that
         clean up easy.  Picture labels can
         be used for toddlers and large word labels for children learning to read.
  • Some special toys or games can be stored on a higher
         shelf where only a parent can reach it as a reward or incentive for
         cooperation, responsibility, etc.
  • Hanging pockets and plastic stacking drawers are good
         choices for small toys such as doll clothes, matchbox cars or train
  • Puzzles should be kept in their original box.  The corners may need to be reinforced
         with clear tape.  Another choice is
         zip lock bags with the picture included. 
         Color code the backs of the pieces for each puzzle with markers or
         crayons. Then the correct pieces can be returned to the proper box if more
         than one puzzle is out at a time.
  • Other
         storage options are over the window shelving to display some collectible
         toys, corner nets to hold stuffed animals and totes on wheels to transport toys that can be taken to
         other rooms temporarily and under the bed roll out containers or drawers.



families have electronic gadgets all over the house.  We even take our cell             phones with us out of the house.  Here are some tips to help manage and
organize            those.

  • Label
         each end of cables and cords that they use.  A label maker or write on tape can be
         used to place the name of the electronic. 
         This makes it easy to identify when many cables are attached to
         power strips or if they are stored together when not in use.
  • Donate
         unused electronics with their cables, power cords, etc.  Best Buy and other stores will give you
         a receipt for tax donations purposes. 
         If you are concerned about privacy, have the in-store geeks clean
         them while you watch.  If you can
         locate and identify the storage disk in them and know how to remove the
         data, you can do that yourself before donations.
  • Resist
         the urge to have the latest and greatest technology.  In a few months it will be replace by
         yet another upgrade.  Try waiting
         until your current gadget is no longer usable.
  • Contain
         remotes in one room to one basket or box. Since many televisions are used
         for VHS, DVD, and several electronic games, lable the remotes with the
         name of the item they control. 
  • Store
         the manuals near the electronics if possible.  Other manuals, receipts, etc. should be
         filed in the household reference files until the electronics are disposed.
  • Control
         the accumulation of cables for one device in baskets that can be secured
         under the device.  Some will attach
         under the table top, shelf or desk. 
         Look online for specific models. 
         This makes cleaning around the device much easier, especially if
         they touch the floor.
  • For
         the ultimate challenge, eliminate the TV, electronic reader and games, and
         the cell phone for anything but calling for one day.  You may have extra time to do the things
         you never had time to do.




Organizing Tips for July

Linen Closet

It is hot and humid but it is July after all.  Here are some tips for organizing the linen closet and things to consider this month to keep you cooler.

  • Purge the linen closet of those items that are worn out or never used.  Animal shelters and clinics often use
         those for bedding or to dry animals.
  • Consider bundling bed linens and bath linens. 
         These can be stored in containers or on shelving.  If items are rolled they can be placed
         upright in a container so it is easier to pick one out without disturbing
         all of them.  This is especially
         helpful for children who have their favorite towel or for picking the
         right size sheets from among all of them.
  • If there are many sizes of mattresses, consider color coding the linens for
         each size.  If all are the same size,
         consider one color to make laundry sorting easier.
  • Bulky blankets and other items used less often can be placed in vacuum bags to
         reduce the amount of space they take. 
         Be advised that the vacuum bags will eventually leak air back into
         them.  Blankets can also be stored
         in containers under beds. 
  • If space is limited in the linen closet, consider storing sheet sets in the
         bedroom where they are used.  They
         can be placed in closets, in storage bins under the bed or even between
         the mattress and bed springs.
  • Refold  items not used often so they do not develop wear on their creases.
  • Store extra pillows on the top shelf. 
         They are lightweight and fill the space without taking up valuable
         room on shelves where heavier items are easier to manage.
  • Place bulky items or equipment in the bottom of the linen closet.
  • Remove as many stored items as you can
         from the floor.  Bags and boxes that
         sit on the floor or against walls for months or years can harbor mold and
         mildew, especially in hot, humid summer months.
  • Change the filter on the a/c unit.  Spring
         and summer pollen can accumulate quickly as doors and windows are opened
         more often.
  • Clean around the refrigerator and other major appliances to keep them running
         cooler.  Try not to store items
         around or over them that would block proper ventilation for their motors.
  • Run the dryer late in the day or evening if it is located in the house.  Better yet, use clothes lines if you
         have them for larger or heavier items. 
  • Schedule outside activities or workouts early in the day or after sundown.  Better yet, begin an indoor routine.  Malls open early for walkers.  Just be sure to leave before the stores open lest you be tempted to make purchases you really don't need.
  • Begin or continue indoor hobbies during scorching temperatures:  scrapbooking, reading, computer programs, sewing, etc.
  • While you are inside, set a goal to clean/organize one drawer a day, one closet
         a week, one room this month.  Put it on your calendar..
Keep a happy attitude. 
Remember we were looking forward to July last January


Organizing Tips for June

This month we will concentrate on:

Children’s /rooms, Keepsakes and Travel

June is filled with activities and it is difficult to think
about organizing.  The best approach is
to work in the areas that are already requiring time.  Since it is the end of the school year and
the children or grandchildren will be around, one subject to consider is their
spaces and the keepsakes you have been saving for them.  Of course travel is on the mind of most of
us, too.


An avalanche of school papers may be arriving for you to handle
this month. 

My best advice is to let the child decide which to
keep.  Keepsake boxes or binders can be
used for these. 

Give one to each child and let it be the only place for
special saved items.  If it gets too
full, let the child decide what to keep and what can go. 

Resist the urge to get more or bigger boxes.  Think about how many things you really need
from your childhood to remember the good times. 

Of course there are items they have made that you will store
with your keepsakes, but be selective. 

Children now have time to go through their rooms and
eliminate items they have not used or no longer want or like. 

Clothing that no longer fits can be sorted for sale or
donation.  Children grow quickly and by
fall most of what they wore during the past year will not fit.  Thankfully not much variety in clothing is needed for the summer months. 

If you are storing clothes for younger siblings to have
later on, remember to label them as to sex, size and season.

Children need limits on everything except love and
affection.  They should not be allowed to
collect an unlimited amount of matchbox cars, Barbie clothes, t-shirts,
flip-flops or anything else. 

Let the space determine how much can be easily organized in
the given space and draw the line there. 
You will be teaching them good organizing habits and a lesson that there
are limits in life. 

Should they want a new item, remind them something they
already have must go.  This is the “one
in—one out” rule that we all should follow.


Too many of anything means none of them are special.  This includes collections such as china,
dolls, salt and pepper shakers, stamps, etc. 

If space is limited and many of these items are stored in
the attic or closets, consider saving only those that have special meaning and
letting the remainder go to other family members or donate or sell them to
anyone else who will appreciate them and has room for them. 

Storing keepsakes out of site does not honor or respect the
memories that go with them.  Put those
that you choose to keep in a place where they can be enjoyed and given the
honor and respect they deserve.

Photographs are another source of keepsake clutter. 

Save only the best from each activity.  No one needs 100 pictures of the beach
vacation.  A few special pictures are all
that is needed to capture that special time. 

There are lots of ways to sort and save them in colorful
scrapbooks and online in creative formats. 
I am not a scrapbooker, but I do admire the projects and products
available from Creative Memories and other sources.


Make a point of enjoying the outdoors while the weather is
nice.  Keep outdoor umbrellas closed when
not in use.  It will extend their
usefulness and prevent damage during high winds or thunderstorms.  I have personal experience with this one.


And speaking of storms, this is the beginning of hurricane
season.  If you live in an area affected
by hurricanes, high winds or rising waters, you should review the list of
necessary emergency items and secure those now. 
Be sure to update your household inventory. 


If you will be traveling this summer, create a permanent
travel kit with activities for yourself and family.  If it is only used for travel, the items will
appear to be almost new and more interesting. 


If you travel often and if you have storage space, create a
permanent supply box or bag with items you always need.  Some of these may be duplicates of items you
use everyday at home but you will not need to disturb those.


A permanent travel checklist that you keep on your computer
or in a convenient notebook is a great strategy to prevent forgetting items you
always need. 


Organizing Checklist for May

photo from cedarcreekgaragedoors.com
No one wants to be inside in the month of May.  Flowers have been blooming, the weather is mostly nice and we are tired of being in the house.  This is a good time to work on organizing the garage and getting the outdoors ready for summer activities.
Since the Garage is never first on our list of projects, let’s begin there.  During the winter it often becomes a temporary dumping ground for items. If this is the spouse’s territory, be sure to work together as a team.  God forbid that you should purge or arrange items that were “special”.  I have found the most effective way to motivate a spouse is to begin purging and organizing your things.  Sometimes the guilt factor is motivating. Sometimes.  Regardless, you never really can win a battle with a spouse.
      Try to visualize zoning items you store in the garage.  Plan locations for gardening, sports equipment, tools, automotive supplies, etc. so they are together and separated from other areas.
      Take advantage of systems that will allow you to organize your items off the floor. It is much easier and faster to clean with fewer items on it. 
      Check out the home improvement stores for hooks, peg boards or shelving units to hold items that are now stacked on the floor. For pennies or hundreds of dollars, you can invest in organizing solutions that will work for you. 
      Be sure to label bins and cardboard boxes used for storage. 
      Move out items you no longer need.  Only things you continually use should be kept. 
      Boxes of old magazines, newspapers, etc. should be recycled.  Let’s face it.  You didn’t have time to read them before and you won’t later on.  There are too many new ideas coming at us everyday and those articles are outdated.
      Review the sporting equipment to see if it is still needed.  Move on any you no longer use.
      Look for specialty hooks, bags and shelves to store the equipment you save. 
      Be sure to keep children’s things at lower levels so they can access them without your help.
      A great plan would be to make room for the car if you have not already done this.  Your automobile is probably the second most expensive investment you have made so take care of it. 
      Mark off a space for the car on the floor.  Identify a wall item or hang a string or chain from the ceiling as a marker for how far you should pull forward.
      If outdoor, yard or garden items are kept in the garage, garden tools and accessories, look over each one and evaluate keeping, cleaning or removing it. 
      Remove rusted, broken or stained plant containers, stepping stones and other garden fixtures. 
      Create racks or hooks for the tools and locate them together in one area. 
      Specialty items are available to hang rakes, shovels, etc. so they do not get tangled together or take up floor space.
      Outdoor furniture may need to be cleaned before using, so check over each piece. 
      Toys that are outgrown or no longer needed can be moved on. 
      If you have water sports equipment or pool accessories, try to store those in good condition in their own area for convenience when they are needed. 
      Yard art is becoming very popular but be careful you do not allow it to take over.  It can become clutter just like anything else. There is nothing more beautiful then flowering or luscious plants, shrubs and trees, so make them your focal point. 
      Adding hanging baskets or a border of blooming flowers can make a significant impact.
      Once your garage is cleaned, you may consider a Garage or Yard Sale.  Here are some reminders.
      **Collect, clean and repair items weeks ahead as you purge spaces. 
      **Check prices of similar items.  Put on price tags and store in a common area.  (Preprinted price tags can be found in some stationery stores, dollar stores, etc.)
      **Choose a sale date.  Join with neighbors if possible for a common date.
      **Check community rules and get permits if necessary.
      **Arrange for charity pickup or make plans for items not sold.
      **Write ad for newspaper, Craig’s List, newsletters, etc.
      **Make signs and flyers for bulletin boards and curbs where allowed.
      **Obtain sufficient tables, racks, etc. for items to be displayed.
      **Get change for large bills and newspaper, bags, etc. for fragile items or large sales.
      **Use extension cords for testing electrical items.
      **Place pens, paper, calculator, extra price tags, tape, and stapler at check out table.
      **After sale, remove signs, clean area and dispose of unsold items as planned earlier.
A few other reminders for May:
      Change the a/c filter and have a routine inspection of all its components before the scorching days of summer arrive.
      Clean ceiling fan blades and give other fans an inspection.
      Clean the carpets and floors.  They were used and abused all winter and deserve a thorough cleaning.  If piles of clutter or stacks of items are on them, consider moving the items to shelving, cabinets or tables. 
      Floors are easier to keep clean when only furniture is on them. 
If you get all of this done in May, you are exhausted and need a vacation.  Thankfully summer will be right around the corner and you should take advantage of it.  Have fun!


Organizing Tips for April

Clean Linen Closet Ideal for Clean Linen

Hopefully the weather will be improving over the next few
weeks.  I am still waiting for the first
blooms of my azaleas but the daffodils are out! 
We are continuing with our yearly plan of organizing that we listed at
the beginning of the year.  On the cool
or rainy days, take some time to organize your linens and bathroom(s).

 If space is limited in linen closets, consider placing extra sheet sets in the bedroom where they are used.  They can be stored in closets, inside under
the bed containers or even under the mattress of that bed.

 Replace heavier bedding
with lighter weight items.  Some
quilts or comforters need only to be put through the “air” cycle on the dryer
to remove dust.  Store them in pillow
cases or the large plastic bags now available to keep them clean.  Vacuum bags can also be used but be aware
they will gradually allow air to return.

 Remove sheets, blankets, etc. that are torn or in
disrepair.  If they can be fixed, find
someone to do it, otherwise, recycle them to local pet shelters or other
appropriate places.

 We often collect pillows and other bedding to have on hand
in case guests stay overnight.  Evaluate
what you have that has rarely or never been used.  Perhaps some of them can replace those you
have removed, or they can be donated or sold to allow room for better
organization of the space.

 Make similar decisions about your bathroom linens.  Towels and
wash cloths that are in disrepair should be removed and replaced with those you
have been saving for a special occasion or purchase additional items on
sale.  Most department stores have linen
sales throughout the year and discount or outlet stores also offer good
savings.  I suggest rolling towels to
make it easier for children (or adults) to choose their favorite towel with the
least amount of disturbance to those remaining.

 Many cotton items will dry rot if not used over a period of
time.  This often occurs on the folded
edges so check those that have been sitting on the shelf for a longer period of

 Clear the bathroom counters and contain any times that must remain there.  Use trays, baskets, bins, etc. to make clean
up easier there.   I love the portable
totes that can be easily moved to other storage areas.  Give one to each person using the bathroom is
space is limited.  Be diligent in
removing old or expired products and store duplicates of items in another area.

 Be sure all products in the bathroom have a label.  This is especially important with
medicines.  You may check out taking
expired medicines to your local pharmacy or ask them the best way to dispose of
them.  Flushing
in the toilet or garbage disposal is no longer recommended because of
contamination of local waters.

 If the bathroom needs updating, consider using hooks rather
than bars for towels.  Children find them
much easier to use so be sure to put those lower on the wall or door.  Consider using dark or disposable towels for
removing make-up

 Placing a magnifying mirror on the wall saves space and is
more convenient that a portable model. 
Using pull out shelves or wire baskets under the sink will make access
much easier to items stored in the back of those cabinets.

 Keeping these areas organized requires daily maintenance
because of daily use.  Setting up a
schedule and requiring participation of all the family members can help keep
them clean and neat.







Organizing Checklist for February

This month we are concentrating on books and hobbies.  Since there are so many types of hobbies and since we often take on too many, this blog will be a long one.  I have gone into more detail in my book, but you can begin with these tips.

  • Keeping fiction books that you have read serve no purpose except to prove you own them.  Sell or donate them knowing you can borrow it from the library if  you have time to read it again.
  • Non-fiction books should be grouped by category.  Since information is always changing,
     using older books as reference many not provide recent findings.  Let them go and use the Internet to find the latest information.  The books are not your brain and letting them go will not cause you to forget what  you have learned.  (Old age, however, may cause you to forget.  I
    speak from experience.)
  • Make friends with the library. 
  • Use vertical areas to provide extra shelves or cabinets for storage of books. 


  • Limit the number of hobbies you take on:  two is best or three if it is related to the one of the others. 
  • Do not try to purchase every new tool or supply for that craft when it comes along.  Most specialty gadgets are rarely used and take up valuable space.
  • Finish one project before you start another one.  I know that is difficult when classes come along to teach a new technique.  Go to the class and take notes if you must, but do not start another project. 
  • Purchase kits when they are suitable.  It will save you time in making choices and money in purchasing supplies you don’t use.
  • Use storage containers designed for your items if they are convenient for you to use.  It is usually the most efficient use of space.  If those are too expensive, try to find a less expensive but similar substitute container in the fishing tackle,  laundry or kitchen storage area of the store.
  • Consider over the door style shoe bags with clear pockets for sorting and storing small items.
  • Portable totes, rolling carts or drawers, wheeled suitcases and crates are all options when space is limited.
  • Fill the closet in a spare room with shelving for containers or stackable drawers for your craft items.
  • Folding or card tables can be used for projects if no other surfaces are suitable for your projects.  These can be stored under beds, behind tall furniture or in other storage areas.
  • Purge items you have not used and realize now you probably will never use.  Our tastes and preferences change over time and there is no point in keeping something just because you thought you might use it.  Sell or donate it to your craft group or guild.
  • Store craft magazines and how to booklets in a magazine holder.  When it is filled, use the one in one out principle.
  • Use peg boards to store tools and supplies that are used often.
  • Convert chests, china cabinets and other furniture into attractive storage for your supplies..
  • Discard unflattering, foggy or distorted photos.
  • Invest in a digital camera and begin using online services to create scrapbooks, calendars, cards and more.
  • Consider scanning older quality photos rather than saving them for scrapbooks. Companies that offer those services are listed in the resource section.
  • Plan a photo give away day for those photos you no longer need or want. 
  • Shoe boxes or similar photo boxes can be used to store saved photos.
  • If upgrading to equipment or supplies with more features, sell or donate the equipment and supplies it replaces.  Do not keep it just in case you might need it.
  • Use crafting/sewing tables with adjustable legs so it can be lowered to a comfortable level.
  • Divided plastic drawer sets and towers can be used to store supplies.
  • Purge project patterns and fabrics and sell or donate those you no longer use or like.
  • Create a cutting/project/pressing table by placing a table on bed risers to make the height more back and neck friendly.  Cover it with a padded board for pressing.  A cutting mat can be placed on top of this as the need arises.
  • Keep projects portable in the extra large zip top bags.
  • Consider fishing tackle boxes for sorting and storage of small notions, beads, wires and tools.
  • Store stacks of containers on shelves in bookcases or cabinets with identifying labels on the front edge.
  • Save only very special greeting cards you have received.  Cut off the verse and name of the giver to save and discard the front and envelope.
  • Make memories of sentimental items by creating shadow boxes, framed photo collages, pillow tops, album covers or quilts.  These can be passed on to other generations.
  • Make a child’s craft kit by storing the supplies in a zip top big bag.  Everything will be ready for them to use and clean up will be simple.
  • Eliminate excessive gift wrapping supplies by investing in one or two rolls of paper.  White or paper bag brown can be used for any occasion.  They can be decorated with markers or rubber stamps or left plain with a pretty bow.  Store in a flat container under the bed or in containers designed for them.  Keeping one bright and one pastel roll of ribbon is sufficient. 
  • Use special ribbon holders if you maintain several rolls.  These make it convenient for  you to pull off one ribbon at a time.


  • Valuable collections such as rare coins or jewelry should be appraised, inventoried and stored in a safe place.
  • Purge items you have collected but have no sentimental value and you do not want to display.  See if a family member wants them before selling or donating.
  • Have pictures taken of you with the item before removing it if you no longer have room for it.
  • Limit the items you collect to the space that you have to display them.  If you insist on storing some of them elsewhere, rotate them through your display so you can enjoy what you have.
  • Group your collections together for the most attractive arrangements.
  • The best collectible is money.  Save it in interest bearing accounts rather than spending in on other items to collect.  It takes no storage space and grows value.
  • For more information on organizing or to contact me, visit my website:  www.OrderlyPlaces.com.  I would love to hear the stories of your organizing progress.





Organizing Tips for January


Calendar from www.2013calendarprintable.net

Happy New Year!

Once again I must get used to writing the date for the new year correctly. You would think by now I would not start the year with 19 but old habits die hard. For those of you who like to plan ahead, I have an organizing agenda for the year that will include the checklists for those topics each
month. In addition, I will include other items that need to be addressed that time of the year. Here is the schedule:

January--Paper, Files, Home Office
February--Books and Hobbies
March--Attics, Clothing
April--Linens and Bathrooms
May--Garage and Yard
June--Children's Rooms, Guest Room/Spare Room
July--Family Room or Den
August--Toys, Electronics (are they the same thing?!)
September--Bedrooms, Clothing
October--Dining Room
November--Pantry, Kitchen

Now on to January. It is time to deal with the papers and other items in home offices. Regardless of the size or space you have to manage the running of the home, you need a clutter free space to pay bills, keep records and manage accounts. The computer was supposed to make us a paper free socieity but we all know that did not happen.  We bought printers and made matters worse. Here are a few tips to help with this areas.

  • Create an inbox for incoming papers: mail, bulletins, newsletters, schedules, etc. Put this in the space you normally drop mail.  Select categories and put the paper that enters the house in the correct section. If you use a compact hanging file box, make a hanging folder for each category that fits your situation. Drop the papers in it and deal with them when necessary or the file is full. I continually get feedback from clients on how this one thing helped them to get control of incoming bills, etc.
  • Save only legal documents or papers related to your home or health in a permanent file drawer or box. You do not need to keep the statements from every institution after they have been checked for accuracy and/or paid. Those accounts are kept in computer files by the institution that you can access if necessary. Even appliance and electronic manuals are kept online now.
  • Purchase a fireproof/waterproof box for storing originals of legal documents and information that relates to your accounts, etc. This will be heavy but can be locked and withstands destructive elements in case of disaster. It can also be accessed by you when banks with safety deposit boxes are closed.
  • Shred old documents with personal information and recycle the rest. Minimize your paper storage.  Don't save papers that have the information online.
  • Stop magazine subscriptions and get your information at the library or online. Move out all older magazines. If you have read them, you don't need them. If you have not read them by now, you won't read them in the future. The same goes for newspapers. Except for the Sunday edition with coupons (if you are a couponer), most news and obituaries (of course) can be found online.   Remember magazines and newspapers are more than half advertisements.
  • Throw away catalogues as soon as they come in. Save the discount label if you decide to order something online or by phone. Looking through catalogues is like watching a very long commercial. What a waste of time!
  • Speaking of time: Use a calendar with a week at a glance that breaks the days into house. Smartphones and computers have free calendar programs like this or you can use a paper version. Block out your activities and you will see the available hour you have to do the things
         you have put off.
  • Clear the desk, counter, table or whatever you use for office activities every night before going to bed.
  • If you would like more information on guidelines for saving papers, I have a document I will send to you. Email me through my website:  www.OrderlyPlaces.com and let  me know you want it. My book also has more detail on organizing papers, files and home offices. It is in your local library or can be purchased online from Amazon or my website.



Organizing Tips for December

The end of the year is almost here but this is probably the busiest month of the year.  Here are some final reminders to help you through the holidays.

  • Children and adults should take time to donate any items that are no longer useful. Many families will be forced to shop at thrift stores for holiday gifts and donating toys and clothing can be a blessing you will never see. 
  • If you have not done so already, immediately send cards, packages, newsletters and email messages.
  • Begin traditions with your family if you have not already begun them. For young children, simple activities such as baking cookies or decorating packages are best. Older children can help with community or church events. The family can purchase gifts for an "Angel Tree", read the Christmas story together, watch a favorite Christmas movie, etc. Keep it simple.
  • Take pictures of family and friends and the decorations you chose as a keepsake and reminder for next year. 
  • Be flexible on the big day and welcome any help offered. Don't sweat the small stuff and keep the mood light and happy.
  • Avoid the after Christmas sale unless you absolutely immediately need the items. Avoid the long lines, parking problems and traffic jams.  Items that need to be returned can usually wait for a few days. 
  • Resist the urge to buy more holiday decorations just because they are on sale.
  • Keep a journal of what worked and what didn't, the gifts you gave and any changes you would make in the future. Keep a list of clutter free gifts you can give next year.
  • Keep the collection of all the lists, ideas, recipes, pictures, evaluations, etc. related to the holiday in a manila folder or create a folder for them on your computer. 
  • Plan the holiday clean up when others are there to help you.  Make it as much a part of the traditions as decorating.
  • As you take down the decorations, consider purging what you can.  Eliminate as much permanent storage as possible. Make sure all items are clean and in good repair.  Try to maintain only those things with special significance or that cannot be replaced. Donate or pass on the others.  I offer items to my children and grandchildren as often as I can consider color coding holiday containers and label with the contents.  Many stores sell
    containers and/or their lids in orange for fall and green and red for December holidays. 
  • If you have space, hang bows in bags on hooks to maintain their shape.

Set a family goal to make the holidays even more meaningful next year. Adopt a charity, volunteer in the community, participate in your church.  And if the holidays and your situation in general is more than you want to tackle alone, we are available to help you any way we can.  Feel free to contact us through our website:  www.OrderlyPlaces.com 


Organizing Tips for November




The end of the year is approaching.  With such a dramatic weather event to end this October, it
is hard to get in gear for the winter holidays that are just around the corner.  Inevitably they will come and planning ahead will make the tasks much easier.  Here are several reminders plus strategies for getting your kitchen ready for the holidays.  

To begin the kitchen organizing, spend some time going through the kitchen equipment.  Now is a
good time to donate or sell those pots, pans, small appliances, tools and utensils you do not use.  If you have not used an item in the past year, it should not be taking up valuable real estate in your kitchen.  Consider storing it in a more remote place in the house if you cannot part with it. 

Inventory the pantry.  If yours is normally full it will be difficult to add the special holiday items you need this time of the year.  Check the expiration dates on spices and some staple items you have not used in a long time.  Eliminate or use immediately all you can to make more storage space.  

To organize it, use the trays, containers, turntables, and/or racks to help you group items in the same category together.  Keep items you use everyday in the most convenient spaces.  Small boxes, envelopes or packages should be grouped in clear containers so they are not lost on the shelving and can be easily accessed. If shelving is deep, use baskets or trays to hold items so they can be pulled forward to access items in the back.  Finally, try to leave a few inches of empty space between categories of food on the shelves.  This allows room for new items and also gives an appearance of order. 

Make a list of what your holiday recipes require and what you will need during the next few weeks.  Some special seasonal items will disappear from the grocery shelves before the holidays so shopping for those now will be advantageous.  Check off all ingredients you already have so you do not duplicate items that will take up valuable shelving.

Keep records of all you holiday planning, meals, events and reminders for future holidays.  It will
make planning for next year so much easier.  I have a folder (on my computer) with the menus, grocery lists, guest lists, etc. that I update every year.  I print those out, take notes on the printed copies and then update my original files. 

Have packages for mailing out of town ready to send.  Some overseas deadlines occur in November.  Even packages to domestic locations should be ready to ship by the end of the month.

Now is the best time for online shopping.  Almost all stores are offering free shipping and the selection is better now than later.  Be sure to save receipts until after the holiday so items can be returned if necessary and to validate any charges on future credit statements.  It is a good idea to keep these in a special envelope, folder, box, basket, etc. designated only for them.

Last month we reminded you to purchase holiday cards if you are particular about them.  Now is the time to address and get them ready to mail.  Email greetings can wait until December.

And I can never stress this point enough:  If you choose to send a holiday newsletter, remember to keep it short and sweet.  The shorter, the sweeter.  No bragging is allowed; keep it newsy with love and appreciation for the input the recipients have had in your lives.

If you begin your holiday decorating early, be selective as you pull out the boxes of decorations.  Pass on those items that you no longer like or use to save space and time.  Permanent wreaths for the door can have the bow and a few leaves or flowers changed each season and will not have to be packed and stored.  I purchase inexpensive wreath decorations for my permanent vine wreath each season and toss them after use.  They are normally dirty or faded anyway. 

Stand alone decorations specific to the holidays take lots of time in packing and unpacking each year and require more storage space.  By simply adding decorative bows, etc. to lamps, candles, house plants, etc., you can make your home festive without needing extra storage bins and space after the holidays. 

As I have advised every year, avoid shopping on Black Friday unless you absolutely must go and be sure to stick to your “needs” list.  Going into the stores with their displays of special pricing, etc. is an emotional trap waiting for your hard earned cash.  And all that stuff you don’t really need will clutter your house.  

After years of getting up before dawn to hit the sales, I have learned it is much smarter to just stay home that weekend, get more sleep and decorate.  If you love the adventure, if you only buy what you need and is on your list, and if you don’t mind crowds and insane traffic jams and parking, go for it and send me your stories! maryfrances@OrderlyPlaces.com