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.

10 Ideas to Take Spring Cleaning to the Next Level

It might be a little early to talk about Spring Cleaning but its finally getting warmer, the rain is letting up and it’s been on my mind. So, I thought I’d provide a different take on Spring Cleaning. Instead of giving you tips and tricks on how to go about your Spring Cleaning rituals, I want to talk about the things that never seem to come up when we get ready to tackle our Spring Cleaning chores. For example, most articles talk about switching out winter clothes for spring and summer clothing, house cleaning from dusting to window washing to carpet cleaning. But what about all the other things like:
1. Cleaning and/or replacing make-up brushes or hairbrushes.
2. Cleaning out the junk drawer or any drawer for that matter.
3. Instead of just switching out winter clothes for Spring, what about going through & getting rid of the clothes you didn’t wear this winter before storing them away.
4. How about going through the cabinets & closets throughout the house. I don’t mean all at once but, every so often it’s a good thing to go through these areas to determine what to keep, what to donate and what to toss. Break it down & do one cabinet or one closet at a time until you’ve gone through them all. It will take time but there’s no rush. Afterall Spring is still a couple of months away.
5. When was the last time you looked at the stacks of magazines that seem to pile up around the house in different areas (think bathroom)? Do a sweep of the house & get rid of any magazines that are older than 3 months. The only exception is if you or a loved one are in that magazine.
6. Have you looked at the kitchen counter lately? Are there appliances or other random items that are there just because they’ve been there and not necessarily because anyone is using them. Take anything off the counter that really doesn’t need to be out. Put it away or give it away if you don’t need it or want it any longer.
7. Medicine cabinets don’t get much love either. Take a few minutes & throw away the old razers, expired medications & make-up that you haven’t used in several months. After you make some room you can put away the other things that have been on the counter because there was no room in the medicine cabinet.
8. Book shelves. Look closely & see how many objects, other than books, are on the shelves. Oftentimes there are so many other objects that you can’t even get to a book without having to move the other items (ie, photographs & small objects that you didn’t know what to do with so you just put them on the shelf). Wouldn’t it be great if you could just pull out a book that you want to read without having to move everything over to get to it? Move 90% of anything that is not a book off the book shelf. Keep a photo or a chotschke or two but move the rest out of the way so that you can actually see the books. Find other more appropriate homes for those items that don’t belong on the book shelf.
9. Wires and cables and chargers Oh My! I see it all of the time. A box or bag or drawer full of wires and cables and chargers that nobody seems to need. You’re probably saving them “just in case” but mostly they are for items that you no longer have. If you had the item you would undoubtedly need the wire that came with it for one reason or another. Soooo, if you haven’t needed it for a few months chances are you won’t ever need it. At the very least, go through them and sort and purge in the process.
10. Finally, get rid of anything that “you’ve been meaning to fix or mend” and just haven’t gotten to it. The broken piece of ceramic from your favorite mug, the ripped article of clothing, the handbag with the missing shoulder strap. I’m sure your intentions were good but, if it’s been sitting around waiting to be fixed for a few months, perhaps its time to let it go.

To be clear, I’m not saying that the above should take the place of Spring Cleaning. I’m just suggesting that there are other things and places around your home that need attention too.

I’d love to hear from you if you thought this was helpful. If not, I’d still like to know.

Great Information About Estate Sales

I’ve been doing Estate Sales for many years now and it seems that there’s a lot of misconceptions about what an Estate Sale is or isn’t. I’m hoping that the following will provide some helpful information about Estate Sales.

An Estate Sale IS an accumulation of someone’s life-long possessions. It includes everything from artwork, antiques, furniture, jewelry, silver, collections, clothing, tools, china, flatware, appliances, CDs, albums, frames, books, electronics, clothing and just about anything else you can imagine. It consists of an entire house full of items that have different values or price points.

An Estate Sale is NOT: Individual or random things that people no longer want or need like a bedroom set and an old TV.

Estate Sale -vs- Garage Sale: One main difference between an Estate Sale and a Garage Sale is the total value of the items to be sold.

*NOTE: When contemplating whether you want to have an Estate Sale remember… “One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure”. Therefore, DO NOT donate or throw away anything before meeting with an Estate Sale company as you may greatly diminish the value of your sale.

Organizing Concepts and Designs offers our clients a full-service experience. In addition to our organizing services which include organizing, downsizing, packing and unpacking, we also facilitate Estate Sales from beginning to end. If you or someone you know needs help determining whether an Estate Sale is a viable option, we can help. Here are some of the services that we provide:
 *We offer a FREE consultation to determine if an Estate Sale would be profitable for all involved.
 *If hired, we then organize and set-up everything that’s for sale.
 *We then research and price all items to be sold. If we don’t know the value of something we bring in someone who does, at our cost.
 *We provide the advertising and marketing.
 *We have a strong online presence and an extensive list of people that follow us and shop at our sales.
 *We send several newsletters before each sale which include photographs of the contents of the house and reminders about the sale.
 *We also advertise on to reach a larger audience. Again, this is at our cost!

Our Estate Sales are commission based. We will determine the commission split at the time of our initial consultation.

After a “typical” Estate Sale, there are usually items left to dispose of. This service is NOT included as part of the Estate Sale. However, we do offer services to facilitate that process as well so that the house is completely empty: The options are:
 Donations
 Liquidations
 Trash removal

From helping you determine whether an Estate Sale is right for you to making sure that the house is empty, we handle the entire process from beginning to end! It is our goal to greatly reduce the stress associated with downsizing, moving and/or handling the estate of a loved one.

One last thing…Organizing Concepts and Designs is insured and bonded!

Great Tips for Staying Organized While Traveling During the Holidays (or Anytime)

While going on vacation is exciting, I think we can all agree that returning from 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 both personally and professionally. However, just in case you get overwhelmed, here are some tips to help you ease back into reality:

1. Plan: Make a list of the things you need to do. Keep this list with you so that you can refer to it while you’re out and about.
2. Calendar: Schedule some time on your calendar when you can and will actually do the thing on your list. (See #1 above)
3. Easy Does it: If you’re overwhelmed with the amount of things on your list, break it down into smaller, more do-able pieces. You don’t have to do it all in one day.
4. Consolidate: When planning and calendaring, group items in the same area together. For example, if you’re going to the mall, perhaps you can make a bunch of stops that you need to make while you’re there.
5. Delegate: Your husband, your children, your significant other or another family member who will be involved in the festivities can and hopefully will be happy to help. LET THEM! Afterall, the holidays are for everyone.
6. Call in the Pros: You don’t have to do it all. Free up some time by hiring someone to do something that you just don’t want to do. One thing that comes to mind is to hire a cleaning crew instead of doing it yourself.
7. Re-think it: Maybe you don’t have to do something that was on your list. Just because you did it last year or the last several years doesn’t mean you have to do it every year. If there was something that didn’t work out or wasn’t necessary, cross it off your list.
8. Get started: The earlier you start, the less stressful it will be. Sh-t happens so give yourself ample time.
9. Make it fun:. Some suggestions: listen to great music while you’re doing whatever it is that’s on your list, ask a friend to meet you for lunch when you’re in between your errands, treat yourself to something nice when you’ve completed something on your list.
10. 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.

1. Communicate: 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 emails.
2. Clear it Out: 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.
3. Get it done: 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. See if you can delegate things that haven’t been finished so they can be taken care of while you’re gone.
4. No Appointments: 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.
5. Arrive Early: Upon your return, arrive an hour early to work. Use this time to check your schedule, messages, mail and e-mail before your colleagues get in and start asking about your trip and giving you more things to do.

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

Have a great trip and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Organizing & Advocating for Your Health

In the past month, three of my closest family members have had to undergo surgical procedures.   Thankfully, everyone is doing well and on the road to recovery.   

The events of the past month really made me to stop to think about how much easier this past month was because we were organized.    I don’t like to throw around the “should” word but when your health is involved, you really SHOULD be organized. The following is a list of things you “should” have in place prior to undergoing a medical/surgical procedure:

1.  Make sure that you have an updated and legal Health Care Directive.  Give a copy of your Health Care Directive to your primary care physician as well as the physician performing the procedure.   

2.  If you don’t already have a Health Care Directive, you can download one from the internet.  Make sure that the person you designate to make decisions for you in case you are not able, knows and agrees to taking on that responsibility.   The Healthcare Directive must be signed and dated and, in some cases, notarized.   

3.  Make sure that you bring all necessary paperwork with you on the day of the procedure ( ie., insurance card, identification, checkbook and/or credit card).

4.  Know your medical history and provide this information to your primary care physician and the physician performing the procedure.

5.  Make a plan, in advance, to have someone drive you to the appointment and pick you up.   If worst comes to worst you can always call a cab or Uber but don’t make the mistake of driving yourself.

6.  Ask your physician’s office, before the procedure, to call in your prescriptions to your pharmacy.  Pick them up before the procedure.  The less you have to do after a procedure, the better.

7.  Go to the market before the procedure and get whatever you might need for at least a couple of days.   Again, the less you have to do after a procedure, the better.  You may not be able to drive or do much walking afterward and, even if you can, you may not want to. 

8.  Ask your doctor before the procedure to give you the After Care Instructions.  It’s best to review them prior to the procedure when you are more able to comprehend them.   

9.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions both before and after a medical procedure.   Remember to write down any questions and/or concerns so that you don’t forget them when you’re with the doctor.  It is important to be your own advocate.   

10.  Dress comfortably on the day of the procedure!  For example, don’t wear restrictive clothing or shoes that need to be tied.  Leave your jewelry and other items that you don’t want to lose at home.