Life Organized: The Blog

Tips & Tricks from Barbara

Holiday Organizing Tips

· Holiday · , , ,

Here are some helpful tips for getting through the holidays…

  1. Be prepared with suggestions when someone asks what you or your kids want as gifts. If you’re at a loss, ask for a gift certificate. Return the favor and give gift certificates whenever possible.
  2. Display holiday cards until New Years Day, then discard them. You’re not expected to keep pictures of children other than your own.
  3. Don’t keep gifts you don’t want. If you can’t return it, give it away. You won’t feel any better about disposing of it in a year or two, so you may as well do it now.
  4. Now is the time to clean out the playroom and children’s bedrooms. Tell your children that they can’t get anything new unless they make room on their shelves by donating what they no longer use.
  5. Teachers like to send home all of the semester’s artwork just before winter vacation. It only takes a few minutes to look through the pile when it comes home. Most of it should be discarded. If you don’t do it immediately, you’ll end up shuffling the same pile around for the next 6 months. Then, you’ll discard it anyway.
  6. When packing for a holiday vacation, think light. New airline regulations levy a charge for suitcases that weigh more than 50 pounds and most charge extra for more than one piece of luggage per person. If you’ve been accustomed to traveling with large heavy pieces, invest in some lighter weight canvas/nylon carryalls.
  7. Before starting your holiday shopping, search your closets for those gifts you bought throughout the year and then promptly forgot.
  8. Keep a supply of hostess gifts and gift wrap handy. A bottle of wine is always appropriate and can be put in a pretty bag in seconds.
  9. If you entertain, keep a list of everything you prepare or order. Make notes about what you’ll need more or less of next year.
  10. Create a spreadsheet of all of your addresses in Excel or another similar software program. This enables you to make labels for holiday cards that can be easily updated each year.
  11. Distribute your holiday tips a few weeks before the holiday. The recipients will be able to enjoy the gift when it’s needed most, and you’ll be able to cross one big thing off your list.
  12. Get ready for next year by keeping a list of all of the holiday gifts you give this year. In addition to family, include your hairdresser, housekeeper, nanny, doorman, garage attendant, secretary, teachers, and postal carrier. You’ll no longer have to wonder if you’re forgetting anyone, whether you’re giving anyone less than last year, or how much you need to budget.

Shopping Tips for Black Friday and Every Day

· Holiday, Shopping / Products · , , ,

I love shopping, and I pride myself on not getting sucked in by sales and not buying what I don’t need. But, based on the closets that I help organize everyday, most people are easily sidetracked and end up buying too much and not the items they need. So, for those of you who may be shopping on Black Friday or any other day, here are my tips for an efficient shopping experience.

  1. Don’t be sidetracked by items you don’t need.
  2. Check that inventory tags have been removed before leaving a store.
  3. Have gifts wrapped at the store when possible. Also have them shipped whenever possible.
  4. Don’t go into a store without knowing what you want and how much you want to spend.
  5. Ask for help. If it appears that an employee is clueless, disengage immediately
  6. When shopping in a department store, start on the top floor, get everything you need there, and work your way down.

 

Avoid the Paper Pile Up – Tips for Reducing Paper Clutter

· Paper Organizing · , ,

In spite of the fact that so much of our communication takes place digitally, there  seems to be more paper in our lives than we’d like.  In fact, the average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year!  If you feel like you’re drowning in paper, here are some tips for reducing paper clutter.

  1. Consolidate both credit card accounts and bank accounts. The more accounts you have, the more accounts you have to monitor.
  2. Cancel accounts you no longer use. Extra paperwork from unused accounts creates unnecessary clutter.
  3. Avoid the temptation of new credit cards and the annoyance of insurance offers by using OptOutPrescreen.com or by calling 1-888-567-8688 (1-888-5-OPT-OUT). You can opt out each member of your family for 5 years or forever!
  4. Reduce unwanted catalogs by contacting the mail-order companies directly or use a free service at (http://www.catalogchoice.org/), which will send opt-out requests on your behalf.
  5. Stop mailings for deceased family members by going online to the DMA’s Deceased Do Not Contact List (http://www.ims-dm.com/cgi/ddnc.php).
  6. Use automatic transactions whenever possible. Pay bills online, have your employer use direct deposit for your paychecks.
  7. Shred ATM receipts, bank deposit slips, and credit card receipts each month (once you’ve checked them against your statement).
  8. Take bills and statements out of the envelopes. Discard the outer envelope, and put bills in an in-box.
  9. Have a set routine regarding bill paying. For example, pay bills on the same day every week. When bills are left unpaid, they get sent again and again until they’re paid, causing even more clutter.
  10. Touch each piece of paper once. Take care of what you can immediately. Put the date in your calendar, send the check, RSVP, and be done!

When Your Husband is a Slob

· Family · , , ,

Recently, a friend of a friend came to me with the following dilemma: “My husband is a slob. He won’t put anything back where it belongs. Sometimes I think he does it just to bother me.  How can I get him to at least make an attempt at being helpful around the house?”  My response to her follows:

It’s a challenge to live with someone who doesn’t share your desire for organization. While it’s frustrating that he won’t put anything back where it belongs, you can try to show him the benefits of doing so. For example, he won’t waste time looking for things if they’re in a designated place, he won’t waste money buying things he already has, and life will be less stressful when he’s not wasting time and money. If he recognizes the upside to being organized, he may be more willing to help around the house.

From a practical perspective, your husband can be a slob, but you can confine him to “his” areas of the house. The kitchen, living room, and den are public spaces that need to be kept clean. His closet, dresser, and desk area can be as messy as he’d like. If he leaves his belongings in the public areas of the house, I would drop them in his area, and close the door or drawer. At some point, he may decide that he can’t live with his mess, and make more of an effort.

Summer Organizing – Before It’s Too Late

· Summer Organizing · , ,

Now that a new school year is right around the corner, it’s a great time to really clean out your children’s rooms!  You’ve had a brief respite from the influx of papers, toys, school notices, clothing, trophies, school projects, and books, that need to be constantly addressed, so before it starts up again, take stock of your children’s stuff. While a child’s room shouldn’t be as sterile as an operating room, no one can relax, let alone study, in an environment that’s filled with clutter. And you and your child shouldn’t lose countless hours looking for things, trying to decide what to do with things, and moving things around.

So, what can you do to eliminate the stress of a child’s room that is overflowing?  The first step is to get you and your child/ren comfortable with having less.  You can throw away, give away, or recycle, but you have to ruthlessly pare down.  Here are my 10 tips for de-cluttering your child’s room. Continue reading “Summer Organizing – Before It’s Too Late” »

Summer Housekeeping Projects

· Summer Organizing

If you’re lucky enough to be taking some vacation time this summer while your housekeeper is working at home, here are some summer projects s/he can tackle while you’re gone.

  • Polish all silver.
  • Remove everything from the refrigerator and wipe down all shelves and products before returning to the space.
  • Remove everything from the pantry, and wipe down all shelves and products before returning to the space.
  • Take everything out of the coat closet.  Set aside any missing gloves or boots that may be too small.
  • Take any winter shoes that need to be cleaned or repaired to the shoe maker.
  • Go through children’s closets, setting aside anything that’s too small, stained, or beyond repair.
  • Deep clean the house.  Clean light fixtures, the top of the refrigerator, behind the freezer drawer, wipe down moldings, and window casings
  • Dust all books and bookshelves.
  • Look at all sports equipment and separate what has become too small.
  • Shampoo carpets.
  • Put printed photos in photo albums.

 

What Moms Really Want: Mother’s Day Gift Guide

· Family, Lifestyle · , , , ,

What does every mom REALLY want for mother’s day? It’s not breakfast in bed, it’s not flowers, and it’s not a new kitchen appliance.  What she really wants is more time, more hours in the day, and the feeling, at least for a few minutes, of being caught up.  Caught up with all of the emails, endless forms that need to be filled out, loads of laundry, and to do lists.  Caught up with her friends and what’s going on in their lives, and caught up with herself. That is what would make her happy.

Continue reading “What Moms Really Want: Mother’s Day Gift Guide” »

Splurge vs. Steal

· Shopping / Products

I love a bargain as much as the next person…maybe more.  My husband often jokes that “…we’ll go broke saving money”.  In honor of that sentiment, here are some great organizing/home decor products that are real steals.  Click on any of the pictures if you want to visit the product’s website.  Check them out…

Splurge:
Herman Miller Eames Hang It All Coat Rack
$199.00 

 

 

Steal:
Retro Style Gumball Coat Rack
$19.24

 

Splurge:
Mirrored Circles Accent Mirror
$150.00
 

Steal:
Emily Circles Mirror
$29.97

 

Splurge:
Vermillion Bryant Frame
$125.00
 

Steal:
Silver Plated Medal with Red Enamel Picture Frame
$18.99

 

Splurge:
Hector Serrano Seletti’s Desktructure Organization System
$72.50
 

Steal:
Umbra Skyline Desk Organizer
$13.52

 

Splurge:
Desert Modern Woven End Table
$1,380.00
 

Steal:
Samar Ottoman
$99.00

 

Splurge:
Parisienne Chair
$470.00
 

Steal:
Entreat Dining Side Chair in Clear
$180.00

 


Splurge:
Amelie Two-Door Mirrored Chest
$699.00
 

Steal:
Hamilton 2 Drawer Cabinet
$196.99

 

Splurge:
Lacquer Tray
$225.00
 

Steal:
Format Orange Tray
$39.95

 

Splurge:
Cabled Cashmere Throw Pillow
$295.00

 

Steal:
Cable Knit Decorative Pillow
$29.00

 

 

 

Splurge:
Grey and Natural Zig Zag Pop Throw Pillow
$125.00
 

Steal:
ZigZag Decorative Pillow in Grey
$22.99

 


Organizing for a Move

· Moving
Moving can be a stressful time.  In fact, a move is considered the third most stressful life event, following death and divorce.  While you can’t completely eliminate the stress involved, follow these tips for a move that’s organized and well thought out:

  • File your change of address with the post office before your move.  Send out address cards or an email informing friends and family of your new address.
  • When you purchase moving boxes, be sure to get assorted sizes to accommodate all your belongings.  Don’t use an enormous box for school supplies if you don’t have so much, and then mix it with pillowcases.  Separate the items and pare down into smaller boxes so everything is truly separated by item.
  • As you pack each moving box, keep a list of what you are placing in it.  DO NOT ASSUME YOU WILL REMEMBER.  When the box is full, place this list on the top of the box before sealing, so that when you open it you have a table of the contests, and no rummaging is necessary.
  • As you pack up your belongings, be sure to think carefully about whether you really want to bring everything with you.  If you can downsize as you relocate, your new home will have that much more space and organization!
  • Make sure the contents of each box are labeled on all four sides.  A heavy box might be pushed up against a wall, and if only labeled on one side, the contents might be unknown.
  • The day before your move, pack a kit of immediate toiletries for the first night in your new home.  You don’t want to be hunting for necessities like toothpaste, toilet paper, or shampoo when you’re exhausted from a day of moving.
  • Give each child a small bag with all of their necessities: a change of clothing, a snack and some small toys, to keep them occupied throughout moving day.
  • All valuable items – passports, certificates, money, jewelry, electronics – should be put in a folder and transported by you.   Don’t forget to take phone and computer chargers with you as well!
  • Have your new home cleaned thoroughly before you move in.  If need be, stay in a hotel one night so that the job is done right and you move into a perfectly clean new home.  

 

 

Green Organizing Tips in Honor of Earth Day

· Spring Cleaning

Being green not only helps the environment, but it can also help you get rid of the clutter in your life.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Go paperless.  Opt for emailed bank statements, utility bills, credit card bills and credit card statements. This will stop the paper coming into your house, and save trees!
  • Reduce paper clutter by unsubscribing from catalogs and junk mail lists.
  • Donate items in good condition.
  • Think before you buy. The fewer possessions you have, the less time you’ll spend maintaining them.  Buy quality items over quantity.
  • Buy non-toxic cleaning products.
  • Give experiences as gifts.   A movie, a day at the zoo, or a baseball game can be more meaningful and don’t create clutter.
  • Buy bamboo.  Bamboo, the fastest growing plant on earth, is becoming one of the most significant and versatile natural resources. Look for it in fabrics and other household items.  Drawer organizers can now be found in bamboo rather than plastic.
  • Bring your own bag or carry your purchases without a bag.
  • Unplug electronics that are not in use.
  • Recycle batteries and ink cartridges.
  • Sell old electronics like cell phones, tablets and MP3 players at the ecoATM.