About a year ago, a friend asked if I would consider doing a project pro bono; Lisa Meshulam, a single mother of triplets, desperately needed help with organization of her one bedroom apartment. I was intrigued.
When I saw the apartment, it was piled floor to ceiling with storage boxes on wire racks. Cube furniture was filled with bins, books, and papers. Children’s drawings and photos were taped to the walls, and the kitchen counters overflowed with food that didn’t fit in the pantry. Lisa slept in a bed in the corner of the living room, sacrificing her privacy so the boys could share the single bedroom. While the boys’ room was cleverly outfitted with two bunk beds, it was overrun with clutter. Clothing spilled out of empty cubes and onto the floor.
I immediately agreed to help and started by enlisting ClosetMaid as a sponsor. Then, I assembled my team of organizers, and began operation organize.
We all know holiday prep has a way of spiraling into full on hysteria. From gift shopping and RSVPs, to party attendance and clean-up, managing your holiday schedule is a full time job. This season, approach “the most wonderful time of the year” with a clear, organized plan of attack. Keep calm and party on!
Buy gifts you love in bulk and give them to as many people on your list as possible. Gift cards are your best bet.
Have hostess gifts on hand and keep it simple. It’s okay to bring a bottle of wine or to buy a dessert instead of cooking or baking.
Take inventory of your holiday decorations before and after the holiday. Before the holiday, you can assess whether you need to buy anything new. At the end of the holiday, you can get rid of anything broken or soiled.
Keep a spreadsheet of all of the holiday tips you give. You may not remember how much you tipped your mail carrier last year, but he or she will.
If you have a social commitment that you’re dreading, be targeted about how you spend your time when you get there. Arrive early and spend a few minutes one on one with the host. Put in your face time, do the necessary networking, and be on your way.
Don’t feel obligated to save your friends’ holiday cards with their children’s pictures. Since you probably don’t have your own children’s photos perfectly organized; why would you add pictures of other children to the mix?
Chocolates, stuffed bears, and roses are all nice Valentine’s Day gifts, but as Marilyn Monroe sang, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” If you’re lucky enough to receive a beautiful bauble this Valentine’s Day, it deserves a proper place to be stored. So, in honor of the holiday, take a look at some of our favorite jewelry storage options that will make you just as excited to put away your jewelry as you are to put it on!
1. Best Multi-Purpose Jewelry Box: Grand Lacquer Jewelry Box from West Elm: $219.00
This jewelry box contains three levels of jewelry storage with top sections that flip out for easy access to what’s below. It’s roomy enough to fit all of your jewelry needs, with a specialized cushion area for rings and earrings. When closed, its simple exterior and shape will match almost any décor and surface. An added bonus is that it can be monogrammed.
2. Best Modular Jewelry Storage: Stackers Premium Stackable Jewelry Boxes from The Container Store: $29.99-39.99
These stackable trays are available in three colors, three sizes and many different interior configurations. You can choose which tray style you want based on the type and amount of jewelry you have, and you can add trays as your jewelry collection grows. One of the variations is a lidded tray that can be placed on top of your stacks, so when the top is closed, It gives the appearance of one coherent jewelry box.
In the 22 years that I’ve been married, my husband has given me many gifts. While I certainly love getting the occasional extravagant gift, the one I appreciated most was definitely the least expensive and possibly the most boring. It was a stationery embosser with beautiful paper. Romantic? No. Practical? Yes. Do I still have it 15 years later? Yes.
Selecting the perfect gift can be highly stressful; there’s the discomfort over what to buy, how much to spend, and whether the gift will be appreciated. Recent research out of Indiana University Kelley School of Business and the Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business suggests that while “givers are drawn toward surprising or entertaining gifts that are fun in the moment of exchange…they underestimate how much people typically appreciate practical gifts.” If you want to be sure that your gift is one that “keeps on giving,” try these helpful hints.
When my twins were born 17 years ago, we received not one, but two decorative, monogrammed seesaws…from one store. It’s difficult to imagine that the store wouldn’t have told the second person ordering this “gift” with the same names and delivery address to select something else, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say that I was stuck with two seesaws that were, in my practical mind, a waste of space and a silly gift. So, I did what any self-respecting professional organizer would do and put them both out on the curb the next morning.
Although this can be difficult for some people, never feel compelled to keep a gift you don’t like. It will end up taking up space in your home and your psyche for what is often literally years. To avoid this, consider these tips
The time between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve can be the most festive, but also the most stressful time of the year. Between holiday parties, work events, shopping for gifts, eating too much and spending too much, sometimes we wish we could skip the entire season. But since that’s not an option, here are some guidelines to help you feel more in control this holiday season.
Say no. You don’t need to attend every party to which you’re invited. If you don’t go, you don’t need to find a babysitter, pay a babysitter, find something to wear, or purchase a hostess gift. Think of all the time you save.
Buy multiples of the same gift for as many people on your list as possible.
Have hostess gifts on hand. Whether it’s a bottle of wine, a candle, or chocolate, prepare in advance.
Purge your playroom. You have more leverage now than at any other time during the year. Tell your children you can’t buy them any new toys if there’s no space on those playroom shelves. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to donate what your children truly don’t use.
Get gift cards in a variety of dollar amounts. These take up almost no space, and are great for when you forgot about a last minute gift you might need.
Plan a go to outfit that you can wear to multiple parties. A simple black dress and a pair of black slacks and heels can take you through a variety of parties from business casual to more formal.
Breathe deeply and engage in some form of mindfulness each day.
From CEO’s to soccer moms, we’re all overwhelmed by the volume of emails received each day. Studies show that the average person checks a device approximately 150 times during waking hours. Still, it seems that we can never catch up. If you feel stressed just thinking about your inbox, here are some tips to tame the email beast.
Create a digital filing system. Filing emails reduces visual noise and eliminates wasted time re-reading emails already opened. It also facilitates emptying your email box on a daily basis (getting to “in-box zero”).
Search messages by name. Using the search box, type in the names of your boss, important colleagues, and frequent correspondents. This will help you categorize and file emails in a meaningful way. Most emails more than a week old are probably irrelevant and can be deleted.
Don’t save emails as a visual cue to take action. Unless you have white space on the bottom of your computer screen, a saved email is just clutter.
Touch each email only once. Avoid opening emails multiple times without responding. Make a decision about how it will be handled (delete or file) and move forward.
Any time you receive an unwanted email, take a few seconds to unsubscribe so you never see it again.
Over the past few months, I’ve had a number of clients ask me for help organizing storage units. Some clients have multiple storage units and some have just one. In some cases, the storage units are complimentary perks that come with apartments, and, in other cases, exorbitant fees are paid. Sometimes, the client knows exactly what’s stored in the unit and wants to make it less cluttered or more appealing. And sometimes, the items have been put away for years, and the client has no idea what s/he will find there. While I generally believe that a client is better off purging and living within his/her space means, here are some instances when a storage unit is a good idea:
By Guest Blogger Aviva Leshaw, McGill University Freshman
Now that I’ve settled into college life, I see how important managing my time and my space is. If you want to excel academically, socialize, and participate in extracurricular activities, follow these tips for staying organized.
1. Have a good calendar system: organizing your time will organize your mind, and eventually your space. Whether it’s paper or digital, keep your calendar with you at all times.
2. Don’t go to school with every single item you think you’ll need for the year. Plan to purchase some supplies after you live in your room for a while. You may think you’ll use a kettle, or have countless items to fill a 10pack of jumbo storage containers, but when you arrive these items may be unnecessary.
3. If you have a roommate, contact them beforehand to figure out who will purchase shared appliances, or purchase some of these items together when you both arrive at school.
4. As classes begins, if you do have a double room, keep in mind that you can’t control your roommate’s side of the room. Keep your area neat, and always how shared areas will be maintained.
5. Designate sensible spots for everything at the beginning of the semester. Your desk should be your study space, so keep books and supplies in that area only, while clothing and shoes should be in the closet.
6. Utilize all available space. This includes in your closet, under your bed, and on your walls.
7. Put items like extra linen and outofseason clothing out of sight, perhaps under your bed or on the top shelf of a closet, so that they don’t get in the way on a daily basis.
8. If you brought anything with you that you don’t need, bring it home with you on your next trip, or get rid of it. There’s no need keep something the whole year if you’ll never use it.
9. Keep snacks…snacksized. This will not only ward off the freshman fifteen, they’re also easy to grab when running to class. Stock your room with snack packs, rather than anything “jumbo.”
10. And finally, decorate! Make the space your own…it’s the only way you’ll want to spend time there and keep things neat.
Everyone has clutter, even the most organized person. The reasons behind the clutter; however, are different for each person. What does your clutter say about your personality? Are you…
1. UNABLE TO MAKE A DECISION?
Many people hold onto things/clutter because it’s easier then deciding whether or not to keep it or where it should go. In fact, an entire organizing industry has arisen to meet the demands of this group. Often, they’ll label and contain instead of eliminating.
2. A PROCRASTINATOR?
This group of people constantly put off sorting/purging their things because it’s not fun or enjoyable to them. They would rather do ANYTHING other then pare down possessions, so they never get around to it.
3. EXTREMELY SENTIMENTAL? This personality type thinks EVERYTHING is worth saving…every scribble from their child’s nursery school days, every photo (even blurry ones), every dish, and every item of clothing.
4. SEVERELY TIME CHALLENGED? Many people don’t have difficulty making decisions and they’re not procrastinators or overly sentimental. This group of people is so stretched for time, they simply can’t get it done. When they do have a block of time, they easily and happily de-clutter. It just doesn’t happen often enough.