The Fundamentals of Organizing

I know its Springtime but I just didn’t want to write about Spring Cleaning.   Everyone else is and you probably have your own way of going about your Spring Cleaning anyway. Also, I’ve written about Spring Cleaning in the past so you can access my words of wisdom on that subject on my website.

I’ve been trying to come up with an interesting topic for this month’s newsletter and thought that The Fundamentals of Organizing would as good as any.  So, here goes…

When organizing, and it doesn’t matter what it is that you’re organizing or want to organize, the fundamentals are really always the same.  Of course there’s many different approaches to organizing but, again, the fundamentals (the basics so to speak) remain the same.

  1.  Choose an area.   For example, instead of organizing the whole house, choose an area in the house.   For the purpose of this article, let’s say you choose your home office.    
  2.  Get all of your supplies together.  You’ll need bags for trash, a box or 2 for donations and a rag to wipe down the areas that have been cleared off.
  3.  Break the task down further.  For example, the office has many things going on. There might be an abundance of books on shelves; there might be piles of paper on the desk; there might be a storage cabinet for your supplies.   So, pick an area within the office to organize.   Again, for the purposes of this article, let’s choose the storage cabinet.
  4.  Make sure that you set aside a chunk of time, at least a few hours, to get the job done.  Preferably the time you set aside will be, for the most part, uninterrupted.   The more distractions you allow, the slower the process will be.  If you only have a few hours set a timer or alarm to keep you on track.
  5.  I know this is going to sound crazy and overwhelming but trust me, its the best way.  Clear everything out of the storage cabinet.  EVERYTHING!
  6.  Start purging.  Throw away anything that is broken, missing a piece, expired, no longer working.   Put anything that is no longer useful, to you or anyone else, in the trash.   Remember you have a trash bag (see #2 above) so just put these items directly into the trash.  
  7.  Donate:  Anything that you no longer need or want but that is still in good condition and someone else can use can be donated.  For example, you may have recently purchased a new automatic stapler so perhaps you can donate the other older staplers. Put anything that you no longer need, use or want in the box that you have designated for donations (see #2 above).  Put a post-it on the box indicating that it is a “donations” box so nobody mistakes it for trash.  
  8.  Sort.   Put things into categories.   For example, put all tape and glue together, put all small supplies together (ie, paper clips, binder clips, staples, thumbtacks); put all writing utensils together (ie, pens, markers, pencils, erasers).   
  9.  If there are random things that don’t necessarily belong in the storage cabinet but do belong in the office, put them off to the side in something (think small box or canister or tupperware) until the other areas of the office can be organized and you can figure out where they should be.  
  10. Like with Like! Place like items in a container or baggie or basket.   For the small items like paper clips, use a plastic baggie.  For pens, markers, pencils use a small box.  I like to use the boxes that I get from the bank with my checks as they’re the perfect size.   You can use tupperware as well.  Whatever gets the job done!
  11. Put everything away.  Put anything that you use frequently on the shelf that is easiest to see and reach in the storage cabinet.  Important:  place heavy items on the bottom shelf so that they don’t fall off and hit anyone.  
  12. Clean up.  Take the trash out.  Put the box of donations by the front door or in your car so that you don’t forget to take it with you when you leave the house.   
  13. Now that you’re finished organizing the storage cabinet in the office pat yourself on the back for a job well done.  Then, set aside some time to organize another area.   Put the date and time in your calendar and make sure you keep the appointment with yourself.   This will keep you motivated and keep the process moving along.   
  14. Follow the same steps as above when you move on to the next area.  
  15. I HIGHLY recommend that you continue working on another area that needs to get organized in the office or whatever room you decide to start in.  In other words, finish one room before moving on to another.  

If for some reason, you can’t or don’t want to do this alone,  why not get help?  WE’D LOVE TO BE OF SERVICE!  Give us a call. We’re ready when you are…


“Imagine” If You Were “Better” Organized 

     As I was selecting a quote for this month’s blog, I decided to use, “Imagine” by John Lennon, as a jumping off point.
     Since John Lennon’s infamous and timeless song “Imagine” is one of my favorite songs, I thought it would be fun to tie it in with my favorite subject, ORGANIZING!  What a concept?
     I often talk to my clients about their goals when we first meet about their organizing project. I ask them to “imagine” what it would feel like to be organized and to describe that to me. This helps us determine what to do so that ultimately, our client is happy with the results.
In this article, I ask you to “imagine” how you would feel if:
1.   You could quickly and consistently find something (ie, your keys) when you want it or more importantly, need it.
2.   You knew where to put something (ie, your purse, backpack, briefcase) when you get to your home or office so that if was always in that spot if and when you need it, instead of just throwing it on the floor or nearest surface.
3.    You could have more time in your day (we all have the same 24 hours but we don’t all use them effectively) to do the things you enjoy. 
4.     You could feel more confident inviting people to your home or office without having to stress out about “getting it together” before your company arrives. 
5.     You could save money by not having to buy the same thing twice, or more, (Ya know, when you know you have something in the house but just can’t find it.  Maybe its something as simple as glue.  Then you have to go out in a hurry to buy it, only to find that item a few weeks or months later when it appears in an unlikely place).
6.     Finally, since Tax time is upon us, what if you could pull all of the documents together for your taxes, whether you’re doing them or having a professional do them for you, in an hour instead of it being an all day and dreadful event?
     These are just a few of the many things that can and will improve if you are “better” organized. 
     For those of you who think you are already organized, I have news for you…you can always be “better” organized.  I have been organizing since I was 2 years old and professionally for 7 years and I still continue to learn about new and different ways to organize things when working with my colleagues on different jobs.  Not to mention that there are a countless number of organizing products on the market that you might not know about.  So, just another set of eyes and another way of doing things can help you get “better” organized.  Oh, and one more thing…it’s always easier and more fun to undertake an organizing project with someone else.
     If you or someone you know could use some help getting organized or “better” organized as the case may be, GIVE US A CALL!  We’d love to help and, if I don’t say so myself, we have an amazing team of Professional Organizers, each with their own specialty, who can help (check our the “About Us” page on our website to learn more).  From paper management/filing systems, to relocations (packing/unpacking) to downsizing and de-cluttering to garages and Estate Sales (and so much more) we can help you get organized, “better” organized and put systems into place that you can easily manage and maintain.

Are You Committed?

I’ve been organizing now professionally for 6 years and there’s a common “issue” I come across time and time again.   The issue being maintenance or upkeep.  
There are times (many times) when I get a call from a client several weeks after our work together was completed asking me to come back for another organizing session.  To be honest, sometimes it’s just after a few days.  They were thrilled with the work we did and felt really good when I left, however, apparently, things didn’t stay quite the way we left them and they express frustration.
As a Professional Organizer this is one of my biggest frustrations as well.
We work WITH our clients, “WITH” being the operative word, to create organized spaces. Spaces that are functional, accessible and efficient.   We show our clients what we’re doing, while we’re doing it and explain why in the hopes that when their space is organized that they will be able to maintain it.   We TRY to transfer our knowledge so that our clients will understand the basic principles of organizing.
If a client hires us to implement a filing system, for example, we do so with their needs and goals in mind.  We show them where to file the current-incoming paper and what to do with incoming mail so that the system doesn’t fall apart.   This requires time and effort as with anything new.
We also explain that it will not stay that way unless they maintain it.  You can’t clean your house once and expect it to stay that way right?.  You have to do a little each day or each week to keep a clean house.  Same principle applies to getting and staying organized.   
Maintenance requires a commitment.  It means that the space, wherever it may be (filing system, master closet or garage) needs to be tended to regularly.  Organizing requires time, just like anything else, if you want it to stay that way.
While I prefer to maintain my own spaces daily (think OCD), many people won’t or can’t and that’s fine. For those of you who won’t or can’t maintain their space daily try the following:
1.     Pick a day and time, each week or each month to get things done.   
2.     Put this day/time in your calendar so that you set up a routine for yourself.
3.     If, when you sit down to tackle whatever area you’re working on, you feel overwhelmed, move up the date.   Perhaps once a week might be better than once a month.
4.     Make sure that you have the tools and/or supplies you need (for example, if you’re working on paperwork have files, a shredder and a trash bin next to you so that everything you need is at your fingertips).
5.    Use the right tools and/or supplies.  Use good tools/supplies that won’t frustrate your efforts (for example, if your shredder is constantly getting jammed get one that works properly so the shredding doesn’t pile up).     
Bottom line, you must be committed to the process.  If you are not that’s fine too but at least admit it and figure out an alternative so things don’t revert back.  One way would be to hire an organizer, hopefully us, to maintain it for you.   
OC&D offers weekly, monthly and bi-annual maintenance services so that your systems or organized space(s) stay that way.
Call us anytime!  We’re here to help you get and stay organized

FAQ’S About Organizing with Organizing Concepts and Designs

1. What is a Professional Organizer?
A Professional Organizer is someone who can help you get organized or “better” organized as the case may be. That can mean organizing a room that has gotten out of hand, a closet that needs to be reorganized, de-cluttering a garage or implementing a file system and so much more. There are many Professional Organizers who specialize in particular areas, ie.-Residential Organizing and/or Office Organizing, There are others who specialize in only working with Corporate Clients. When choosing a Professional Organizer make sure that he/she has experience in the area that you want to work on.

2. What does Organizing Concepts & Designs specialize in?
Organizing Concepts & Designs specializes in Residential Organizing, Office Organizing, Relocations and Estate Sales. Please visit our website at: for a more detailed description of our services or click on the video below.

3. What is NAPO and why should I use one of their members?
NAPO is the National Association of Professional Organizers. As a member of NAPO, I am bound by their Code of Ethics, a set of principles that provides guidelines for our professional conduct with our clients, colleagues, and community. As a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, I pledge to exercise judgment, self-restraint, and conscience in my conduct in order to establish and maintain public confidence in the integrity of NAPO members and to preserve and encourage fair and equitable practices among all who are engaged in the profession of organizing.

4. How long will the job take to complete?
The answer to this question depends upon your goals and “wish list.” It also depends upon your availability as we work closely with you towards achieving your goals and wishes. Organizing Concepts and Designs works with you and for you to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

5. I’m embarrassed by my mess. Can I count on you to be discreet?
Part of our commitment to you as a NAPO member is to abide by their Code of Ethics (see #3 above) that is akin to the client privilege code under which doctors and lawyers operate. We will never divulge personal information about you. Additionally, you can always count on us never to judge you or your situation. We are all about discretion and we honor your privacy!

6. How much do you charge?
Our fees differ depending on what services you choose. For Organizing and Relocations we charge an hourly rate. However, we also offer packages, each of which has a standard fee, and includes a discounted rate. Estate Sales are all commission based.

7. Can I give your services as a gift?
Absolutely! It is important to note, however, that organizing is a very personal thing and can be a touchy issue. It would be best to make sure that the person you want to gift, is open to working with someone and isn’t insulted by the notion that you think they need to get organized. See the Gift Certificate that we offer below.

8. What is your privacy & confidentiality policy?
Confidentiality of all client information, both personal and professional is upheld at all times. We will never barter, sell or trade your information for any reason.

If you need help with an organizing project of any kind, give us a call. We’d love to help!

My Experience with a Professional Organizer

For those of you who read last month’s newsletter, you may recall that I needed the help of a Professional Organizer.   As a reminder, my house had been undergoing a major renovation and when everything was finished I needed to put “humpty dumpty back together again”.  iStock_000010631522XSmall

While I was organized before, during and even after the remodel, the thought of putting everything back into place by myself was daunting.  I work, I’m busy and I wanted it to get done in one day rather than days or weeks.   I just wanted to get it done!

A long time ago when I first started organizing a seasoned organizer told me that it would be a good exercise for me to hire another organizer to see what it feels like when someone else is touching your “stuff”, suggesting things to do with your “stuff”.

Well, I finally took the advice and hired a Professional Organizer. She happens to work with me often with my clients but it’s very different when you become the client.

This is what I learned:

1.   It’s not only okay to ask for help… it’s important. 

2.   It’s great that help is available for these types of situations.

3.   We all have different ways of doing things but, sometimes, another way is better.

4.   There are so many products and solutions out there that I either forgot or didn’t know about.  Now I have a few more things to share with  my clients.

5.    EVERYONE, even Professional Organizers, will need help at some time in their lives with some area in their life.

In my last newsletter, I promised to let you know how it all worked out.  IT WAS AWESOME!   My house is back together, I learned about new products and new ways of doing things that I might not have learned otherwise.  

If there’s a place in your house, office, storage unit that you  need help with, give us a call.   YOU DESERVE IT!




Help! I Need a Professional Organizer

I have been sending out this newsletter now for over 5 years.  For those of you who open it and read it, I hope you have gotten a sense of who I am, what I do and why.

For those of you who are new and have just recently signed up or, for whatever reason, decided to start reading, the readers digest version is:  I am a Professional Organizer and one of my specialties is residential organizing.  That covers everything from linen closets to bedrooms to playrooms to the garage.  There isn’t a place in a home that I can’t improve upon.  I help people get organized or “better” organized as the case may be.

One of the reasons I started Organizing Concepts and Designs (aka OCD) is because organizing comes naturally to me.  It’s just something I’ve always done for myself and for others.  I can walk into a room full of clutter or boxes and make sense of it all.  I can make that space more efficient.

Here’s the problem…my house is under construction, and it looks like a tornado hit it. There’s stuff everywhere.  Much as I tried to contain it prior to and during the construction, it was just impossible.   After living this way for a few weeks, I am now completely overwhelmed.  I don’t know where to start to put “humpty dumpty back together again”.  Why is it that I can do this for everyone else but I’m having trouble figuring this out for myself?   The answer is simple.  It’s never easy when it’s your stuff. 

So, even though I know exactly what to do I am going to hire a Professional Organizer to help me.   Here’s the questions and thoughts I had that led me to the decision to hire another P.O.:

1.  Why should I do it myself?

2.  Even if I can do it myself, it’s always better and quicker to have another set of hands.

3.  Maybe another P.O. will have some insight into organizing products that I haven’t thought of before.

4.  Perhaps I can organize things differently which might even be better than it was. 

5.  It would be great to have another perspective.

Bottom line is I’m going to give it a try.  I’ll let you know next time how that worked out. All I know is I can’t wait to get some order back in my life.

If you are asking yourself the same questions about your closet, a place in your house or your paperwork, give us a call.  WE CAN HELP!