Bins, Bins and More Bins

Bins, bins, and more bins. Seems like every time I speak to a prospective client one of the questions is inevitably going to be “How many bins should I get”. The next question is usually “Where should I get bins?”.

As a Professional Organizer you would think that I would love bins. For the most part I do and they do serve a purpose BUT, bins can also create more problems than their worth. Here are some explanations that I’m guessing most of you haven’t considered:

The downside:
• Bins typically become dumping grounds for all kinds of random items, even if the bin is properly labeled.
• Bins, especially large ones, are too cumbersome and usually wind up at the bottom of a heap of other bins and are not easily accessible.
• Bins that aren’t stackable create problems when dealing with limited space.
• People don’t understand the different types of bins and falsely believe that if something is contained in a bin, especially a plastic bin, then it must be protected (Note* See below for additional explanation). This can be problematic when someone discovers, after storing something valuable, that it was not protected as they had thought.

Obviously, there are many good reasons for having and using bins. Bins are one of many tools/supplies that people can use for organizing.

The upside:
• Bins can serve as great storage solutions.
• Bins can maximize your storage space (for example, under the bed storage bins).
• Bins, if you choose the right ones, can protect and preserve important items.
• Bins, if and when properly used, can help keep small items together and from getting out of control (ie, hair accessories, small office supplies like staples, paper clips, push pins, crafting supplies).

It is important to note that all bins are NOT created equal. Believe it or not there are many types of plastic bins. Just because you put something in a plastic bin does not mean that the contents will be protected. For example, if you want to protect memorabilia and you’re putting it in the garage, you may want to consider a bin that is “air-tight” or “water-tight” depending on what you intend to store. They cost more than a regular plastic bin but they protect the contents from moisture and critters.

Quick question: How many of you reading this even knew that air-tight or water-tight bins were an option?

Explanation: Airtight storage bins prevent items from water damage. Watertight storage bins work well in a moist basement or in a humid attic where items may become damp over time. These airtight storage bins have a foam strip in the lid which prevents moisture from getting in. The latching lids work to suction the lid onto the air tight container, to secure the lid to the top of the airtight storage bin. You can use airtight plastic containers for important files, clothes, family photos, collectibles or any item that you wish to preserve. You can also get extra piece of mind knowing that items in your basement or garage are being stored properly and protected from the elements.

As a rule of thumb, we usually suggest that people first use what they have before buying any more bins. In fact, that most people usually have whatever we need on hand (other than the air-tight/water-tight bins) and don’t even know it. We make use of many household items that serve as bins and work just as good. For example, we use the boxes that checks come in for office drawers to organize small items like pens or binder clips. We can use egg crates to store earrings, tupper-ware for small items that need to be contained. This list goes on.

So, next time you feel that you need to run out and buy a bin to help with an organizing project, remember to check first to see what you have on hand. If you determine that you might need a bin or two, think about out what you intend to use it for so that you get the right kind, size and color.

As always, if you are in need of any assistance with your organizing project, give us a call. We would LOVE to be of service!

3 Top Trending Organizing Styles

NAPO professional organizers association
We all have our different ways of organizing. Of course, I’m assuming (and we all know what implications that has) that there is some form of organization in your world. One can hope right?

Some people fold their clothes and put them away in drawers while others hang everything. Some people fold clothes, others roll their clothes. Some people file while others pile. There are so many options! There are countless ways to organize so do whatever works for you as long as you do something.

The Organizing industry is getting a lot of attention these days. There are TV shows (Enough Already and The Hoarding Show); literature (See books by Peter Walsh, organizer to the Stars and countless other authors) and entire stores (The Container Store) dedicated to anything related to organizing. More than ever before, people are talking about how important getting and being organized really is.

Here is some information about the 3 top trending organizing methods that are getting a lot of press these days (in no particular order). Maybe you’ve heard about them, maybe not. For those of you who aren’t in the loop about the latest organizing trends or want more information about them, this is for you.

• The KonMari Method™: KonMari, originated by Marie Kondo, is a way of life and a state of mind that supports cherishing the things that spark joy in people’s lives. As such, people are encouraged to part with anything that doesn’t spark joy. Belongings are acknowledged for their service and thanked before being let go of if they no longer spark joy.

KonMari places great importance on being mindful, introspective, and optimistic. Read more about The “KonMari” method of simplifying and organizing in Marie Kondo’s bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

• Swedish Death Cleaning: In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning, a combination of the word dö meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning”, aka the art of death cleaning.

Margareta Magnusson, author of the book, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Make Your Loved Ones’ Lives Easier and Your On Life More Pleasant” suggests that, once you reach the end of middle age, you get rid of all the stuff you’ve accumulated that you don’t need any more so that no one else has to do it for you after you pass. Once people reach a certain age, many know that eventually, even before they face death, they may end up having to deal with some disability that forces them to downsize or move out of their homes. Margareta suggests that this is a chance to go through your belongings and distribute them on your own terms.

• Minimalism: Minimalism is another organizing method that has received great interest. Brought into the public eye by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so that you can find happiness, fulfillment and freedom. We tend to give too much meaning to our things, often neglecting our health, our relationships, our passions and our personal growth.

Minimalism is based on the notion that happiness doesn’t come from stuff, but rather from relationships and experiences. So, when you get rid of the excess stuff surrounding you, you can better identify those things that are really important to you and what brings you pleasure in your life. Therefore, it’s up to each of us to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous in our lives.

While I don’t “follow” any of these methods in their entirety, I do try to incorporate the best parts of them all when I’m working with my clients to help them get organized or “better” organized, as the case may be. I take what works for me and my clients and apply it accordingly.

If you or someone you know is interested in getting organized, better organized or just wants to go through their stuff and get rid of the surplus, give me a call. We would LOVE to be of service!

Professional Organizer or Magician

The job of an organizer encompasses many different things and many different areas. Sometimes it’s as simple as organizing a linen closet. Other times it’s unpacking and organizing an entire house. It can be organizing a two or three car garage with random items stacked to the ceiling or a storage unit. Other times it might be filing system, or a craft room, an office or a playroom and the list goes on.

I believe I speak for most, if not all, of us (Professional Organizers) when I say that we do our best to find a place for everything. You know the saying “A place for everything and everything in its place”. It truly is a Professional Organizers motto. To take it a step further, while we do our best to find a place for everything, we also try to make sure that “the place” makes sense. That it is functional and accessible.

It doesn’t matter if you have a home that’s 500 square feet or 6,000 square feet. There is only so much room in each house, office, closet, etc. We must work within the confines of that space and make it work. While we can make suggestions and introduce you to some great organizing products or space savers to help you get the most out of your space, we can’t make space where there just isn’t any. We are NOT magicians!

If you have to much “stuff” and there’s no room to put it all away, it is then considered clutter. Even if you love it. Even if it was very expensive. Even if your favorite Aunt left it to you. If it doesn’t have a “home” and we can’t find a place to store it or put it away, it’s clutter.

If you want an organized and functional home, office or other space, and it happens to be so full that’s there’s no more room, the only answer is to let some of it go. You can sell it if you are so inclined, you can donate it to charity and get a write-off or, you can throw it away.

Here are some suggestions as to how you can get started.
1. Get rid of ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that is no longer serving your purpose and hasn’t for a while.
2. If you have VHS tapes of family reunions, vacations or other special events, have them transferred to a smaller updated format, i.e., DVD or hard-drive (especially if you no longer own a VCR player).
3. If you have tons of t-shirts or sweatshirts from your college days, instead of storing them in a large bin which is taking up a lot of room, consider having a quilt made of them.
4. Donate books that you started to read but just couldn’t get through or are no longer interested in.
5. Toss magazines that are older than 3 months. After that the information is pretty much obsolete and you can probably find what you need on the internet. If there is a particular article that you want to keep, rip it out and put it in a file (digital or physical) and throw the magazine away. FYI, hospitals, senior centers and doctor’s offices would be happy to take old magazines if they are in good condition.
6. Old shoes that are worn out, that no longer fit or are missing the match.
7. Clothes that don’t fit, are no longer your style or that you bought but never really liked when you put them on.
8. Anything that is expired including, but not limited to, food, spices and medications
9. Things that you intended to fix or mend one day but haven’t gotten around to for more than a few months. It’s okay to let it go. It’s broken!
10. Something that your favorite cousin or best friend gave you, but you never really liked. They gave it to you to enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t keep it. They love you and wouldn’t want you to keep something that is keeping you stuck and surrounded by clutter.
11. Socks that are torn, worn out or missing its match.
12. Lingerie or underwear that are stretched out or not comfortable any longer.
13. Purses that are out of shape or just worn out.
14. Hats that no longer fit or are just dirty/stained from too much wear and are beyond repair.
15. Old computers that have been sitting around for ages. If there’s important info that needs to be retrieved, take it to Best Buy and pay the Geek Squad or your IT guy to get it for you. If there’s nothing on there that you need, then take it to a place that recycles e-waste. Again, think Best Buy.
16. Going back to clothes… since this is usually a tough decision (especially for women). If you’re no longer working in the corporate world and haven’t for quite some time, start scaling down the business attire. Maybe keep one or two suits but you don’t need your entire wardrobe from that time in your life.
17. Furniture that is no longer serving a purpose. A lamp that doesn’t give off enough light. The couch that you can no longer sit in because you sink into it and can’t get up out of it. The broken rocking chair that’s been in the garage and you just haven’t had a minute to get it to the curb. The baby seats that have been in the garage since your kids were small and now they’re in their 20’s. (FYI, if you’re saving them for your grandkids, please don’t! Your kids will have newer/better models that your grandkids can use).

Bottom line is you gotta start somewhere. If you keep everything for “someday” or for that “just in case” scenario, you will always find yourself in this constant state of clutter. Getting rid of anything will give you more room than you had and free up some space.

If your space feels like it’s busting at the seams and you want or need some assistance, give us a call. We’d love to help!

Top Ten Tips for Choosing and Using a Calendar


We’re all living in a 24/7 world. So, I’m assuming that everyone is using a calendar of some sort. That is, anyone that has a job, is a student, has a family, a job, a life.

They are really so important for so many reasons on so many different levels. We can use them for:
• Appointments
• Deadlines
• Renewals
• Tracking
• Reminders
• Goals
• Events
• Holidays
• Occasions
• Time Management and, of course, the best for last…
• ORGANIZATION!

Here are my top tips for putting a calendar to good use:

1. Decide if you want to use a paper planner or a digital planner. Go with whatever you think will work for you.
2. Use whatever option you decided upon for a few weeks as it does take time to get used to.
3. If you decide to use a paper planner and it doesn’t really work after a few weeks, CHANGE it. It’s okay to change it if it’s not working for you. In fact, that would be a good thing as chances are you won’t use it if it’s not working for you.
4. Make sure you use your calendar CONSISTENTLY. If you’re not consistent it’s not going to work well. In fact, not using it consistently can have an adverse effect. For example, when you look to see if you’re available when making an appointment and you forgot to add an appointment that you previously made, you could wind up double-booking or missing an appointment.
5. Check it each night before you shut things down so that you are prepared for the next day. It will remind you of what you need, where you’re going, etc.
6. Remember to update it when appointments change or cancel.
7. Don’t forget to cross off the things that you have accomplished. This step can be very rewarding.
8. If you use a paper planner, make sure that there’s enough space. What’s enough space? For me, it’s got to have enough room for appointments, To Do’s and whatever notes are important for each day (ie, someone’s birthday). I’m old school. I use a paper planner with two pages for each day. One side is for appointments, the other side is used for my To Do’s and the bottom has a section for notes. (See photo above)
9. If you use a digital planner make sure that you are synching it with your phone so that you have it on the go. Also make sure to back it up.
10. USE YOUR CALENDAR EVERY DAY!

PAPER:
http://www.lifephoto.com/catalog/daily-planners/day-planners/

http://www.personal-planner.com/US/

http://www.no-frillscalendar.com/

https://plannerpads.com/

https://www.daytimer.com/daytimer/home

https://franklinplanner.fcorgp.com/store/index.jsp?

DIGITAL:
Google Calendar
Cozi
Timeanddate.com
Outlook
Apple Calendar

I can assure you that using a calendar, each and every day, will help you in your day to day life by keeping you on track and, of course, ORGANIZED.

Let me know how it goes…I’m interested!

Did You Know That Getting Organized Is One Of The Top Ten New Years Resolutions?

Yup, it’s true. Getting organized, or better organized, as the case may be, is one of the top ten New Years Resolutions and has been for a really long time.

However, organizing isn’t just something that happens once. IMHO it’s something that we all “should” do every day. Maybe it’s a load of laundry, or dropping off a bag of donations or tossing something that is broken. Spending just a few minutes every day on something/anything will help you get organized and stay organized.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day. We all have choices about how to spend that time. When it comes to organizing, you can do it now (as you go about your life) which will help keep things neat and organized OR, you can do it later when the piles are high or you find that you can’t find what you want or need.

Examples:
Now: Every time you take your clothes off they “should” be put in the laundry or put away. If you’re putting them away, you “should” either hang it up or fold it and put it where it belongs.

Later: If you decide to throw your clothes on the floor, eventually you will have to pick them up and do one of the following: put it in the laundry, hang it up, fold it and put it away. Note: By throwing your clothes on the floor, you’ve actually added an additional step (having to pick them up and determine what to do with them) which will ultimately take more of your time.

So, save yourself some time and just do whatever you can, when you can. Take a few minutes every day to stay on top of things. Clean the dishes or put them in the dishwasher, fold the laundry and put it away. Just do something around the house every day so things don’t build up and get out of control.

Food for thought…why not just make organizing a part of your daily routine. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Just a few minutes each day. It’s still the beginning of a New Year. Why not just try doing things differently for one month to see how it works out? As we’ve all heard… “The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result”. Why not stop the insanity and try selecting one area, one small area, that needs to be organized? Take a few minutes (since it’s a small area) and organize it. Here’s how:

• Take everything out, sort things into categories
• Get rid of the trash
• Make a pile of donations if applicable and then decide what to put back into that space.
• Start putting things back into place so that they accessible and functional.
• Put like items with like items.
• Use supplies if necessary (bins for laundry, boxes for donations, new hangers so that things look cohesive, labels so you can find things easily).

I can assure you that you will be more inclined to keep that area organized (at least for a while) because you’ve put in the time and effort to organize it.

Now, all you have to do is maintain that area. If you take something out, put it away when you’re finished. Put it, whatever “it” is, where it belongs. If something doesn’t belong in there, DON’T put it in there.

It’s that easy. Organizing isn’t rocket-science. It just takes time. Take the time and get organized little by little. Eventually you’ll get there.

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

• Check your schedule and make time in your day that works best for you to get things organized. Put it on your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself.

• If you don’t want it or don’t need it… get rid of it. You can sell it (whatever “it” is) or you can donate it and get the deduction.

• Learn to say “NO”. It will free up some time to do the things that are important to you.

• Delegate. If you don’t want to do something, give it to someone else to do. Sometimes you’ll have to pay someone else but that’s okay. You can’t do it all!

• Ask for help. It’s okay to ask for help if you want it or need it. Let me repeat… you can’t do it all.

If you need or just want help, give us a call. We will help you achieve your goals.

Great Tips for Holiday Travel

Vacations are supposed to be fun! However, it’s hard to relax when you’re thinking about all the things you have to do. There are so many things to remember and so many things to do before you leave.

Stress no more. The following Travel Checklist will help you remember some of the important things to do before you leave home:

• Make a list of all of the things you want to take & check them off as you put them in your suitcase.
• Notify the post office and arrange for them to hold your mail.
• Give someone close to you your itinerary if you have one. At the very least, give them your flight information.
• If you’re traveling abroad, make sure a trusted friend or family member has a color copy of your passport and drivers license, as well as a copy of your itinerary.
• Ask your neighbors or a good friend to keep an eye on your home.
• Leave a house key with your friend or neighbor.
• Adjust thermostats to save energy.
• Pay any bills that will come due while you are traveling.
• Lock all doors and windows.
• Close the blinds and/or curtains, especially in the back and side of the house.
• Set security alarms.
• Set up timers on lights and TVs to give the appearance that someone is home
• Inform your security monitoring company that you will be away and arrange for a security patrol.
• Check the fridge/kitchen for perishables and dispose of them. Take the garbage out!
• Since so many bags look alike, consider putting a bit of colored tape or ribbon on the handle to quickly identify your bag at the luggage carousel.
• Make sure to have all of your important travel information and documents all together in one place. (Note: *Carry important papers with you.! Do not check anything that you don’t want to lose)
• Photo identification
• Passports/Visas
• Itineraries/Schedules
• Tickets and Seat Assignments
• Frequent Flyer Cards
• Confirmation numbers
• Contact numbers for hotels or car rental agencies
• Money or Travelers Cheques

While going on vacation is exciting I think we can all agree that returning to work after a vacation is usually stressful. There’s a lot of mail, a ton of e-mails to go through and dozens of other things you need to get to that have been piling up while you were gone. It can almost seem like a punishment for ignoring your responsibilities.

Hopefully you will be relaxed and ready to tackle the many tasks that have been waiting for you upon your return. However, just in case you get overwhelmed, here are some tips to help you ease back into reality:

• Notify people you regularly interact with that you will be unavailable and away from the office. If people know you’ll be gone, they (hopefully) won’t try to contact you which will significantly reduce the amount of voice mails and email.
• Clear the inbox on your desk and your email inbox so that the new items you must attend to when you return will be obvious.
• Wrap up all of your “To Do’s” . This may be difficult depending on the type of job you have, but do the best you can.
• Make sure you don’t have any meetings or appointments the first day (or two) when you return to the office. You will definitely appreciate the time to get caught up.
• Arrive an hour early to work. Use this time to check your schedule, messages, mail and e-mail before co-workers get in and start asking about your trip and giving you more things to do.
• Take an extra day before heading back to work to regroup and catch-up on your life. Use the extra day to get things done at home so that you can focus on work when you return to the office.

Okay, now go and relax and know that when you get back from your vacation, you’ll have everything under control.

Wishing you a safe and relaxing vacation!