December 26, 2012

Evaluate the Past, Plan for the Future

Resolutions. Goals. Intentions. Call it what you will--this is the time of year many people start fresh and decide what they want to do, try, or experience over the next twelve months of their lives. Today's guest blogger, Professional Organizer Audrey Cupo of A Better Space offers guidance on reflecting on goals of the past and planning for the future...

With the holiday season in full swing and the New Year right around the corner, many people begin to evaluate the past year and start thinking about the future.  People think about what they had intended to accomplish in the past year and note the things that just did not get done.  Then, they begin to look towards the New Year as a time to reset some goals and plan for the future.

It's a time for reflection and planning.

For me, I love the prospect of a New Year.  It gives me the opportunity to take a look at what I accomplished (or did not accomplish) in the past year, both personally and professionally.  It gives me a chance to re-evaluate my priorities.  Are there things I wanted to get done but did not?  Are the things I intended to do this past year still important?

The New Year gives me a chance to plan for the coming year.  What do I want to accomplish THIS year?

I have always been an advocate of writing things down.  At this time, especially, I find this true.  I like to take some time and make a comprehensive list of projects and "To Do's".

That comprehensive list then gets planned out over the coming year.  I pick my priorities, one by one, and work on them.  When something is completed, I select another.

You might have set some goals last year and found you did not complete them as planned.  Why not start fresh?

Do you need to do some home improvement projects?  Do you want to lose weight and be healthier?  Do you want to get your finances in order or get out of debt?  Do you want to improve a relationship with a friend or family member?  The choices are endless.

Do yourself a favor.  Take some time in the next week or so and reflect on where you have been and where you want to go in your life.  Start planning now for the New Year by setting some goals and create a list of the things you want to accomplish.

If getting organized is on your list, seek out the assistance of a professional organizer who can help you to set those goals and get them accomplished.

Enjoy this holiday season and the opportunity for a fresh start in 2013!

Audrey Cupo is a full-time Professional Organizer and sole proprietor of A BETTER SPACE based in Bucks County, PA. She specializes in residential organizing and focuses on helping busy moms and women entrepreneurs with home-based businesses get organized with her in-home services and her "U Can Do It" product line. To sign up for her free newsletter full of great monthly tips, resources and product reviews visit and for more tips, check out Audrey's Facebook page.

December 16, 2012

SMEAD - Secure Pockets with Easy Grip

If you've read some of my past posts, you know that just about once a month, the office supply company, SMEAD sends me one of their products to review on my blog. I'm always excited to rip open the package to see what it is.

SMEAD has sent me what I think is a very efficient office/home office product--the Secure Pocket with Easy Grip.

Have you ever put a bunch of papers in a folder and had them fall out all over the floor? I think all of us at one time or another has had that happen. It's no fun!

Enter the SMEAD Secure Pocket with Easy Grip. This pocket folder is designed to provide twice as much grip as other pocket folders. I'm not sure even a tornado could blow papers out of these folders.

These straps you see in the picture are strong! You're going to need to eat a bowl of Wheeties or head to the gym before stretching these straps out! I tried pulling them before I had my breakfast and I had to exert more energy than I usually do when securing paper into a pocket folder...

It fits beautifully in a file cabinet and has Tyvek reinforcements on the side to make the place where you put the straps practically tear-proof. Yea--no raggedy looking edges! It also has a barely noticeable grippy material running across the top of the folder--this makes it easier to pull out of your file cabinet. Love this feature!

Just to test it out, I put some papers inside the Secure Pocket with Easy Grip. I placed the straps over the top of the folder, threw it up in the air and the papers didn't fall out. I knocked the folder off my desk--no papers fell out.

With the SMEAD Secure Pocket with Easy Grip you're practically guaranteed that your papers won't fly out of the top and that you'll get an upper body workout as well. Who could ask for more from an office product?

November 27, 2012

On Hurricanes, Organization, and Being Thankful

It's been almost a month since Hurricane Sandy blew through the Northeast.

I am thankful that my family came out of the hurricane fairly unscathed. We had power and heat--our only loss was internet and cable for about a week. We know many who slept in chilled houses and went wherever they could to charge their phones and laptops for weeks on end. And that's nothing compared to people who completely lost their homes...

But I was nervous...

You see, in the spring of 2010, a month before giving birth to baby #2, a storm dropped our neighbor's huge tree onto our home. It came through a window of our three-season room and took up about 80% of our backyard.

Our neighbor still has another big tree in his backyard and as you can imagine, my husband and I were concerned about Hurricane Sandy causing similar or worse damage to our home.

We hoped for the best but prepared for the worst. And then got organized.

We made ice. And filled ziploc bags with water to make more ice. We bought all the 'D' batteries we could find and gathered all our flashlights, candles, and electronics in one place. I also gathered all information we might need in case of an emergency: 

-our homeowners and car insurance polices/account numbers, 
-our PSE&G account and contact information, 
-the telephone number for News 12 New Jersey to hear news reports if we had no other way to access the news.

I packed a few days worth of clothes for all of us and a weeks worth of diapers for my little guy. This is just the kids' pile...

I also packed water, non-perishables and made a list of perishables to take with us in case we had to evacuate our home.

I was anxious about another tree falling on my house during the hurricane but I was equally as anxious about the possibility of having to feed my youngest child if we had no refrigeration or way to heat food up. He has multiple food allergies on top of the fact that he's 2.5 and doesn't have the most sophisticated palette.

I channeled my anxiety by making lists--a great way to get organized and prepare for an event such as a hurricane. I started on paper but then switched over to my favorite productivity app, Evernote. I use this app as a place to dump my brain and keep information for future use. I started an 'Emergency Preparedness' folder in Evernote and created the following lists of items we'd need:

-perishable food
-non-perishable food
-perishable food for my child with food allergies
-non-perishable food for my child with food allergies
-important contact information
-what we'd need to take with us in case we need to evacuate (clothing, cash, medicine, important papers, etc.)

You can access Evernote from any computer or your phone--the information is all in the cloud. I HIGHLY recommend this app. My desk would be overrun with papers and post-its without it!

Now that I had made my lists, I felt more prepared for the upcoming storm. What I wasn't prepared for was my 2.5 year old getting his foot stuck between the slats of a dining room chair as the wind was howling and the trees were swaying. Days later, people asked us if we had any damage due to Hurricane Sandy. I laughed and said to them, "one chair--and it was INSIDE the house."

It was repaired the next day and now our son's booster seat sits on this chair. I think we're going to be telling this story for years to come...

After the storm blew through, we touched base with family and friends discovered that we were one of the few homes around town that had power. We had no TV or internet access but I was grateful that we had heat and a fully working kitchen.

Our preparedness helped us as well as with others. We shared extra batteries, extra room in our fridge and freezer and gave out food, ice and a warm place to hang out to those who needed it.

School was closed for seven days. What kept my kids most occupied during the no-school days following the hurricane?


Is it possible to be thankful for a bag of balloons? Why not?

We also had nieces and nephews stop by to play and warm up. We had fun with stickers and crayons and other non-electronic toys. I will say--despite the fact we did not have cable, our DVR worked. So, we did have a bit of television to keep the kiddies occupied.

During this time, I also taught my kids how to use the Swiffer. They loved pushing it around, especially my 2.5 year old. He and my 6 year old had a competition--who could pick up the most dirt and dust with it. I had very clean floors after the hurricane!

Slowly we heard about more and more people getting their power back. Schools were opening again. Gas lines were getting shorter. Everyone from celebrities to relief organizations were collecting for Hurricane Sandy relief.

My son's school sent a note home that they were collecting items for the towns of Little Ferry and Moonachie, NJ. I used this event as a lesson in gratitude/being thankful. My six year old and I talked about how we were very lucky that nothing happened to our house during the hurricane and how others had not been so lucky. We collected items from the list, labeled the bags and he helped me take them to school.

Three cheers for Warren Point Elementary School of Fair Lawn, NJ!

Three more cheers go out to Girl Scout Troop 445 of Fair Lawn. They made up a list of food items they wished to collect for those affected by Hurricane Sandy and were nice enough to staple a plastic bag to the list. Very organized, ladies!

Once again, I took my son into our pantry. We had another talk about people affected by the hurricane that need food and how lucky we were to have what we need in our house. He read the items from the list and I put them in the bags--a lesson in literacy and gratitude. I recycled the plastic bag, and used paper instead...

Other companies/organizations involved in collecting for Hurricane Sandy--

Deposit A Gift, an online cash gift registry service, has partnered with The Foundling Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund and is donating an extra 4% for every dollar given. Here's how you can help. People have even created 'registries' for family/friends who have lost much to Huricane Sandy. Here's an example of how one couple is raising funds for their Aunt Pat who lived in the devastated Breezy Point area of NY.

Whole Foods near me in Paramus, NJ is collecting coats through December 7th for New York Cares 24th Annual Coat Drive. According to the NY Cares website, "the storm created an unprecedented demand for warm coats."

The Container Store is partnering with One Warm Coat to collect gently used coats, hats and mittens, sweaters and sweatshirts.

Please take a look in your closets and see if you have any outerwear that is in good enough shape to donate. This is the perfect time to de-clutter and help others.

Hurricane Sandy blew through town a few weeks before Thanksgiving--a time when most of us have more of an awareness of what we're thankful for.

I'm thankful for much but in terms of the hurricane, I'm thankful...

-we had power, a working kitchen and didn't need to leave our home.
-that we were able to help others after the storm.
-for my husband being home from work for a week and the time we got to spend as a family.
-for the break from the internet. As wonderful as it is, sometimes my eyes and brain need a rest...
-for the little time we got to organize. Not always easy with little kids around but we tackled a few -hot spots in my house.
-for Evernote which got me organized for this storm and prepared for a similar emergency in the future.
-that the only storm damage we had was a dining room chair!

A hurricane is a powerful reminder of our need to express gratitude and desire to be of help to others. Just because Thanksgiving has passed and the holiday season is upon us doesn't mean we should forget about those who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. Please consider de-cluttering your closets, buying an extra holiday gift for a displaced child, or donating food to a local food pantry. Keep thankfulness and gratitude on your mind and in your heart this season and always.

October 22, 2012

Cool Product - Fridge Binz Part 2

A year and a half ago, I discovered a product that revolutionized my sandwich-making abilities. No, I didn't hire a chef--I bought a Fridge Bin for my refrigerator.

My food, especially my bread products, was getting lost, smushed and squashed. While strolling through the aisles of The Container Store one day (Yes, that's where Professional Organizers stroll...) I happened upon the Fridge Bin. I thought the concept was great--but would it function well in my fridge?

If you read my first Fridge Binz post you know that it was a success. And, I'm happy to report that almost a year and a half later, it still holds my bread products and saves them from being mutilated on a daily basis.

That's some of my bread products safely nestled in the Fridge Bin...

I was so happy with how it functioned in my refrigerator, I bought another one! This one wasn't for keeping my bread organized--it was for baby food. Those dang jars and little containers are very good at hiding! And when they hide, the food inside of them goes bad. Can't feed that to a baby...

I had tried organizing my youngest son's food on the top right shelf of our refrigerator but somehow, it would all migrate across the shelf, and start hiding behind and mingling with other foods--not to be seen for days.

Back to The Container Store I went and here's what I came home with...

It's deeper and more narrow than my first purchase. It's perfect for corralling my little guy's food items and it's BPA free, too.

It lives on the right side of the top shelf of my refrigerator--the spot where I had begun my organizing process. It's a place for me to throw my son's little containers, baggies of leftovers or anything I'm defrosting for him. No more lost toddler food which means the Fridge Bin is saving me money and time. I like that!

Another Fridge Bin success story!

October 15, 2012

Anniversary Post - Organizing in October

It's the third anniversary of my blog!

October of 2009 is when I dove into the world of blogging. My three year old had just started preschool and I was pregnant with child #2, when I wrote my first post. Three years later, that three year old is in first grade and the little one who kicked my insides while I blogged is in preschool!

In past Anniversary posts, I've talked about the improvements I had made to my blog and what I'd like to add to it in the future. This year, in honor of my three years as a blogger, I'd like to take a short walk down memory lane. Here are a few highlights from my blog's anniversary month.

Ah, memories...

Circa 2009...

Blogging Beginner
My first blog post

Organizing on the Cheap
The first category I created for my blog, inspired by the articles I used to write for Organize Magazine called 'Organizing on a Shoestring'

De-Cluttering Tips
My first post that offered readers organizing tips

Circa 2010...

Anniversary Post
Celebrating one year of blogging. Goals met and more to meet in the future...

Helpful Organizing Tips - Back to School
Good advice for anytime of the school year...

Circa 2011...

Anniversary Post
Reflecting upon my second year as a blogger. Some goals met, some I'm still working on...

Professional Organizer Humor
I like to keep this blog light and funny...

Wire Pull-Outs for Kitchen Organization
One of many posts to show how a Professional Organizer keeps their home organized.

As I've said in my past Anniversary posts, I love writing this blog.I hope that each post you read brings you either a good laugh or a good idea. I'm not going to end this post without discussing my goal for next year. My biggest goal to reach by October 2013 is to merge this blog with my website. I've been doing some research and by anniversary post #4, I hope to be able to present you a new and improved place to bring you cool products, 'gotta-tell-a-friend' ideas and a whole lotta organizing know-how...

October 3, 2012

Peter Walsh Organizes Rachael Ray's Kitchen

If you watch television and you have even the teeniest tiniest interest in organizing then you know who Peter Walsh is. If not, here's the short version: Peter Walsh is an Organizing Expert from Australia who has a 'tell it like it is' attitude but also uses compassion and empathy while organizing with his clients. He has worked miracles in tiny spaces, as well as in the homes of hoarders. I first saw him on an organizing show called 'Clean Sweep' and from there, he occasionally appeared on The Oprah Show as well as other daytime shows.

I 'Like' Peter Walsh on Facebook. He's always posting about projects he's working on, easy organizing tips, and when he'll be on TV next. So, a short while ago, he posted that he was going to be de-cluttering Rachael Ray's home kitchen on The Rachael Ray Show. Sweet! My DVR was set. If you didn't get to catch it last week, here's what happened...

Rachael Ray, America's sweetheart of the kitchen had a secret...

She told her audience that she has a tiny NYC apartment kitchen and that she's just as guilty as other homeowners when it comes to de-cluttering her kitchen--it never happens. Cluttered cupboards, out-of-date food in the pantry and cabinets overflowing with pots and pans were just some of her organizing issues.

If I had her hectic schedule, I might not have time to de-clutter my kitchen either...

She decided to bring Peter Walsh to her home to see if he could get her kitchen organized again. Rachael gave him a quick tour of the room and then he kicked her out and started organizing. Peter started with the pantry--he emptied it, sorted the items and tossed all expired food in the trash.

Some of Peter's pantry tips:

-Store platters upright for easier access. Use an organizing product that stores baking trays to do the same thing for platters.

-Keep flat surfaces clear. They are for food prep--not for storage.

Peter then headed to a spot most people wrestle with in their kitchen--the junk drawer. Like the panty, Peter emptied the drawer and sorted out the trash. He then grouped 'Like with Like' and used containers to keep 'like' items together.

Peter used drawer dividers like these to organize Rachael's junk drawer

What junk drawer items did he hold up for all the world to see? Four pair of gardening shears! Since Rachael didn't use them very often, he promptly moved them to a different area of the kitchen.

He then removed all magnets from her refrigerator. I have a ton of magnets and children's artwork on my fridge--Peter Walsh would have a field day with my fridge!

He and his crew worked to de-clutter the rest of Rachael's kitchen and then brought her back in to see.

The first spot he showed her was the pantry--she loved how de-cluttered it was and how Peter had grouped 'like' items with like items on clear trays from The Container Store. They then moved on to the junk drawer--Rachael was so thrilled with the way it looked, she gave Peter a high-five! He had removed many of her household tools and placed them in labeled bins in a cabinet over the refrigerator to get them out of the way.

Rachael then walked over to the fridge and saw that most of her magnets were gone! She almost had a heart attack because a magnet with her deceased dog's picture on it was no where to be found. It was quickly placed back on the fridge--organizing crisis averted!

As I often do with my clients, Peter gave 'Organizing Homework' to Rachael...
-go through all cooking utensils
-separate out the ones she uses often from the ones she barely uses
-keep drawers neat and tidy

Peter offered up two tips and advice for the viewing audience:
1. Stop using the word LATER as in, "I'll put that away later." Do things as you go and he promises it will make a huge difference.
2. Flat surfaces are for PREPARATION not STORAGE.

Peter also gave the viewing audience five 'Double Duty' organizing products to use in the home:
1. Use an empty tissue box to store plastic bags (I do this in my own home.)
2. Use a tension rod to create hanging space under a sink
3. Thread a tab from a soda can over a hanger and hang another garment from it to double your closet's hanging space. (I LOVED this tip!)
4. A tag from a loaf of bread can be used to wrap around and label electrical cords.
5. Use extra glass vases to corral multiples of items.

I thought this was a great segment. Kudos to Rachael Ray for being brave enough to have Peter Walsh organize her kitchen for all the world to see!

*Author's Note: I love watching de-cluttering segments on daytime television--I pick up great organizing and product ideas all the time. But, what I'd like you to know is that de-cluttering a room takes hours--sometimes days and sometimes weeks. It looks quick on TV but what you don't see is a multi-person crew working arduously to get the job done in a certain amount of time. When it's just you, or you and a friend, or even you and a Professional Organizer the process takes a LONG time.

 If you are de-cluttering an area of your home, don't despair that it's taking a while to emerge as a clutter-free space. Make good decisions, have trash bags at the ready and look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Here are a few tips to make sure your organizing efforts are taking you in the right direction.

September 20, 2012

Organizing Quote

I'm guilty.

Guilty of not being able to keep up with reading my magazines. I'm now down to one subscription and I have a stack that I'm slowly chipping away at. See, even Professional Organizers get behind on tasks!

I just finished reading the March 2012 'De-clutter Your Life' issue of O "Oprah' magazine and really enjoyed reading an article called, "Journey to the Center of Gayle's Closet."

In the article, Adam Glassman, O Magazine's Creative Director along with a small team of helpers assist Gayle King (Oprah's 'bestie') with a closet intervention: sorting, purging and organizing her clothes closet.

It's a great piece written by the very talented Lisa Kogan. She is so funny, I'd read the phone book if I knew she wrote it...

There's a section at the bottom of the article showing products to help to organize a closet--that's where I got the following quote from...

Quote: "What good are boxes and bins if you can't easily tell what's in them?" says Adam Glassman.

"People can last a day or two without food and water, but no one can live without a label maker!"

Loved that. Had to share. Who is running out and getting a label maker?

September 13, 2012

SMEAD - Super Tab Folder

Last month, I started blogging about products from a company called SMEAD. If you haven't heard of them, just walk into your local office supply store and check the shelves. They create products for document management. If you have paper, you've probably seen or used one of their products.

In August, I talked about SMEAD's 'My Organizer' Products/MO File System. Today, I'm going to give you a tour of another one of their helpful products...the Super Tab Folder.

Have you ever started filing your papers and realized you didn't have enough room to write what you wanted to on the folder tab?  I know, I have. You can squeeze just so many words in a small space! I guess the people at SMEAD heard that complaint a million times and decided to do something about it.

Here is a photo of SMEAD's Super tab folder. (The reflection is of my light fight fixture and of me taking the picture.)

This isn't any ordinary file folder. When you open it up--it's also a folder with two pockets! You may be asking--what is that doohickey is at the top of the folder?

That doohickey acts as a clamp to hold your papers in place while the folder is being carried or filed in your file cabinet. Here it is open:

With a stack of papers in it...

The doohickey at the top of the folder is perfect for those prone to the 'dropsies.' If you accidentally drop this folder, your papers aren't going to fall out all over the floor like they would from a regular file folder. That's great news--especially for those who never put page numbers on their documents...

By the way--if you haven't figured it out already, THIS is why they call it the SUPER TAB folder... 

That writing area is almost twice the size of a tab on a regular file folder. Ever try and fit everything you want to write on a tab but you'd run out of room? Not anymore with the Super Tab folder! I could write a novel on that tab!

I think the concept is great--the file folder is a 2-pocket folder with a built in paperweight. The only drawback to this product is its glossiness. After handling it for a while, my fingerprints were all over it. Maybe the cast of CSI should use it to file their papers and catch criminals!

Check back in October for my next SMEAD product post! I don't know what it will be but I'll be sure to let you know about more of SMEAD's helpful paper organizing products as they come through my mail slot.

August 31, 2012

Twenty-Eight Top Ten Organizing Lists!

Who doesn't love a good top ten list? I think David Letterman made them famous but wherever you turn on the internet whether it be a newsletter, a blog, or a sales pitch, everyone has a top ten list. I even have one on my website (left under the Facebook logo).

In my last post, I wrote about the top ten helper shelf 'hot spots' in your home. If you're not already using helper shelves, I hope my post gave you some inspiration to double your space on any of your horizontal surfaces.

I submitted that post to The Professional Organizers Blog Carnival for August. The theme: Top Ten Lists. Twenty-eight Professional Organizers contributed to the 'Top Ten Lists' Blog Carnival. That's 280 tips! To read all 280 nuggets of organizing advice, go to Top Ten Lists - August 2012 Professional Organizers Blog Carnival.

Some of the Top Ten Lists you'll find are:

• Ten Tips to Save Big Money on Your Food Budget
• Top Ten Ways to Say 'No'
• Ten Strategies to Stop Procrastinating
• Ten Best Sources for Organizing Help

...and twenty-four more! (including mine)

So, if you have some time to relax this weekend and would like to pick up  'a few' organizing tips, kick back with some BBQ and the Top Ten List Blog Carnival. You never know what you'll learn!

August 23, 2012

Meal Planning Tips: Me and Michelle Obama

If it's August, it must be back-to-school season! Time to buy school supplies, new clothes and shoes and get back into routines.

It's also a time that includes figuring out what's for supper every night. If you need some meal planning ideas, check out this article...

Real Moms Share: Easy Ways to Plan Meals for the Week

Photo of my family at Disney enjoying a meal--not planned by me!

It just so happens that I give tip #8 and Michelle Obama, our First Lady offers the first one. Hope you pick up some good ideas--I did! Even a Professional Organizer needs help with meal planning sometimes...

August 10, 2012

Top Ten Helper Shelf 'Hot Spots' for Your Home

A while back, I wrote an article for my website about my favorite organizing products. Years have passed but my favorites have not changed. One of those favorite organizing products is the Helper Shelf.

What is a 'helper shelf?'

A helper shelf divides the horizontal space of a shelf, offering more storage space above and below itself. They come in many different widths and heights—some are even width-adjustable. Looking for one to match your decor? You'll find most are made of chrome, plastic, metal or wood. Helper shelves can be found in the same aisle as other kitchen organizing products and purchased at home stores like Target or in specialty stores such as The Container Store. They can be used anywhere you need to double a shelf space.

I recently counted how many helper shelves I was using in my home--about 15! And I have a few in my basement that are waiting to be used when the need arises.

Do you have places in your home that could use a helper shelf? If so, get ready to get organized. Here are my top ten helper shelf 'hot-spots' for your home:

1. Linen closet - Besides sheets and towels, linen closets often house medicine, health and beauty supplies, lightbulbs and other small items. This is a picture of the shelf in my linen closet where I keep health items for my two kids. Notice--lots of little packages. A perfect spot for a helper shelf!

2. Medicine cabinet - If there's a spot in our homes with small bottles and boxes, it's a medicine cabinet. Most standard-sized helper shelves don't fit in a medicine cabinet but while shopping at the Christmas Tree Shop a few months ago, I came across one that was made especially to fit in medicine cabinets. I bought it for a whopping $1.99. Turns out I didn't need a helper shelf in my medicine cabinet so I now use it on my...

3. Kitchen counter - I have a small kitchen and need certain items handy. Thought the 'medicine cabinet' helper shelf would work well to organize items near my stovetop. This is a picture of the small helper shelf in action--shorter items below and taller items on top. It's been working very well for me!

4. Kitchen cabinet - This is where many people use helper shelves. My kitchen does not have much cabinet space so I had to maximize the space as best I could.

Between these two cabinets, I have five helper shelves. They came in extra handy when I had kids and had to make room for their kiddie plates, bowls and cups.

5. Freezer - I have one of those older refrigerators with the freezer on top. I use a helper shelf to double the space that might otherwise be a pileup of bagels, frozen veggies and leftovers. Small items such as the ice cube trays fit well under the shelf while flat items stack well on top.

6. Pantry - Sometimes we can adjust our pantry shelves and sometimes we can't. If you have tall pantry shelves that can't be adjusted, a helper shelf will create more space. Double the space means double the room for food storage! Here, small food items such as jello and pudding boxes fit well underneath and larger boxes stack equally as well on top.

7. Playroom - Kids have big toys and small toys and as a parent, I know that not all shelves accommodate all sizes of toys. Place a helper shelf on a tall shelf to store puzzles or board games on top and create a home for small toys like cars or a basket of Beanie Babies underneath.

8. Home Office - Use a helper shelf in a closet or storage piece to neatly stack and store office supplies. This will make it much easier to find and retrieve the supplies you need.

9. Laundry room - Like the playroom, a laundry room also has large items and small items that both need an organized home. Purchase a heavy-duty helper shelf for detergent storage and place small items such as dryer sheets and a receptacle for lonely socks below.

10. Over/Under Kitchen Sink - I had one of these when I lived in an apartment years ago. It was a great way to make more room for me in my already tiny kitchen. I put my sponge underneath the shelf and kept dishwashing soap and a few decorative items on top.

What are YOUR helper shelf 'hot spots?'

August 6, 2012

SMEAD - 'My Organizer' Products

While at the NAPO Conference in Baltimore this past Spring, I got to meet a lovely representative from SMEAD at our Product EXPO. She and I chatted about office products, 'liked' each other on Facebook and a few months later, she asked me if I would want to review SMEAD products on my blog.

What organizer can say no to checking out new organizing products?

A few weeks later, I received the MO File System.  MO stands for 'My Organizer.' There are three parts to the MO File system: a folder kit, a file case and a case wrap. Here's a video with all the details:

I received three pieces: the File Case, the Case Wrap, and the Financial Kit. They come in different colors but I got the green pattered one which coincidentally fits in with the decor of my home office.

Besides the Financial Kit, the other kits sold are the MO Medical Kit, the MO Project Kit and the MO Starter Kit. According to the SMEAD website,

"MO file kits provide all the help you need to get organized. Each kit contains 9 letter size SuperTab folders, one label sheet with pre-printed and/or blank labels and a detailed instruction sheet." 

The My Organizer system can be found at most office supply stores and on

Why consider the My Organizer File system for your paper organizing needs?

- It fits easily into a letter-sized file drawer
- It is easily transportable
- It's a great way to organize papers for a particular project or aspect of your life

I haven't started using it yet but here's what I like about My Organizer File system so far...

- It's compact
- The File Case slides out of both sides of the Case Wrap
- The Super Tabs on the file folders are huge! Plenty of space for writing file descriptions.

I have a lot of business and family-related papers that always need action or are pending so I'm going to explore the features of he My Organizer File system and give it a try on my desk. I'll keep you posted!

July 25, 2012

Organizing 'Quick Tip'

Open the drawer of your file cabinet. Are papers peeking over the top of your file folders? If your answer is 'Yes,' then read on...

Grab a manila folder and take a good look at it. You may have never noticed it, but there are scored lines at the bottom of most folders--some folders have three lines across and some have five. 

To make more space for papers in your folder, bend and crease one of the lines to create a box-bottomed effect. Creasing the highest of the three or five lines will provide you with the most space inside your folder.

July 19, 2012

Photo Organizing Update

About two months ago I blogged about how I made an appointment with myself to get my photos organized.

To recap: My friend Deb, in an attempt to get HER photos organized sent an email out to a bunch of friends saying that she was blocking off time one night to organize her photos--who wants to join her?


I took this opportunity to gather all the loose photos I had (some from a broken album), sort and purge them and put them into some new and existing photo albums.

After that fun photo organizing session, I created some mini photo organizing goals for myself to complete by the end of May. Well, life gets in the way sometimes even for a Professional Organizer. With June being a busy family time and a computer crisis that required my Mac to have major surgery at the Apple Store, I was unable to meet all of my mini-goals.

To add to the situation, my family took a vacation in Disney. MORE PICTURES! Ahhhhh!

Me eating Mickey ice cream at Disney--Mmmmmm!
The day we came home from Disney, another 'lets-organize-our-photos-again' email from Deb appeared in my inbox. I took that as a 'sign' and ordered pictures from iPhoto (from Spring 2012), gathered some random prints that had yet to see the inside of an album and spent another two hours at her dining room table. I'm happy to say that even though it took me longer than expected, I met all of my mini-goals.

It was that night at Deb's dining room table that I decided to use the summer to make sure my family photo albums were up-to-date. My goal is for all of my photo albums to be finished before Labor Day weekend. I am also considering creating a photo book for our trip to Disney. That, too will be done by the beginning of September.

In an attempt to reach my goal, I tried to place an order with iPhoto this morning but it wouldn't go through--a problem I had encountered before my computer had 'major surgery.' I may have to upgrade my iLife package (which I have been avoiding). That may be the solution. Or I'll have to visit the Apple Store again. I'll let you know in my next photo album update...

Have you made an appointment with yourself to catch-up on updating your photo albums, too? Tell me some of your mini-goals--I'd love to hear them!

July 12, 2012

Clearing Clutter Increases Success

In 2007, Jack Canfield of 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' fame was the Keynote Speaker at the 2007 National Association of Professional Organizers Conference in Minneapolis. Since then, I have subscribed to his newsletter--this article came through my inbox back in April and I thought it would be perfect to post on my blog. Thanks for your words of wisdom, Mr. Canfield!

Clearing Clutter Increases Success

Our physical spaces are filled with dozens of minor distractions and irritants, such as stacks of unread books, scuff marks on the wall, and closets filled with unused items. For most people, these things are like gnats – annoying, but generally insignificant and easily ignored.

Rarely do we recognize them for what they really are – potent threats to our productivity, energy, concentration and peace of mind.
For those of us committed to achieving greater success in our lives, a cluttered physical environment produces three negative consequences:

1.    You feel drained. If there are things to do everywhere you look, your mind constantly keeps thinking “I need to fix that.” Eventually, you to feel drained, anxious, irritable, and overwhelmed. To cope, we have to put blinders on and overlook the distractions.
2.    Problems spiral out of control. We often overlook irritations for the short-term gain of being able to continue with our daily routine. The danger, however, is that some problems with grow worse with lack of attention. The chip in the windshield that could have been fixed in 30 minutes grows to a crack that requires replacement of the entire windshield.
3.    You miss important clues and ideas. It’s impossible to selectively numb out your awareness, ignoring only the minor distractions in your physical space while paying close attention to everything else. This is perhaps the biggest danger for success-minded people. Our most powerful insights often manifest in gut feelings, fleeting thoughts and subtle cues. Numbing out to our cluttered physical environments makes us oblivious to these clues, as well.

Physical Space Impacts Mental Space

Seemingly small irritations and distractions also have a dramatic impact on our mental state. It’s common for people who feel overwhelmed by their physical clutter to go into a state of resignation. When you have a sense that you can’t control the little things – such as quickly finding a stapler when you need it – then it becomes easy to tell yourself that there’s no way you can have the other, bigger things that you want, such as a better car, bigger house, prestigious job, or loving relationship.

The good news is that the same concept works in reverse. When you do recognize that you can control little things, such as the squeak every time you open your front door, you recognize that you can control the bigger things in life, too. Taking action to manage irritations, distractions and clutter builds your confidence in your ability to achieve success, regardless of form.

3 Ways to Deal with Clutter

There are three ways to change any environment: add something to it, take something out of it, or modify it in some form.

Go through your environment and figure out what is irritating and distracting you. Ask yourself how it needs to be fixed. Then think about who you might be able to delegate all or part of the task to. One reason that to-do items accumulate is that we feel like we have to do all of the work ourselves. One of the key strategies for getting more done is to master the art of delegation.

To help you move forward with this process, I’ve posted an “Irritations & Tolerations” worksheet on my blog. Use this tool to identify and create an action plan for handling your irritations and tolerations.

Next, scan your environment to identify elements that need to be removed completely, as well as items that can be brought in to increase the energy in your space. For example, you might find that removing the television or computer from your bedroom makes your sleeping space more relaxing and peaceful. On the other hand, you might find that adding a conference table to your office gives you an inviting place for creative work, while adding plants makes you feel calmer and connected to nature.

Spotting “Good” Clutter

Remember that all clutter is not bad. For many people, clutter is part of their creative process.

When in the midst of creation – such as writing an article, developing a presentation, mapping out a business strategy or creating a product – they pull out resources like books, clippings, articles and notepads. More artistic types might fill their work spaces with tools of their particular trade.

The litmus test to use in determining whether your clutter needs attention is how you feel. If you feel inspired, the clutter is serving you and contributing to your creative expression. If you feel contracted, drained, anxious or stressed, the clutter needs to be tamed.

Environments control us, but it’s important to recognize that as human beings, we are one of the few animals that can control their environments. 

Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at:

July 3, 2012

Cool Product - Random Crap Tin Cigar Box

Organizers are always talking about containers--clear containers, odd-shaped containers, heavy-duty containers. For instance, I always recommend Rubbermaid containers to my client--they're tough and I've found that the lids always snap well to the bottoms. I have my preferences for shoe, paper, and food storage, too.

But what about the sentimental items in our lives? Ticket stubs, "Make Love, Not War' buttons, a mix tape from your teenage years and the like need a place to live. The container doesn't have to be fancy--it just has to keep your beloved items safe and all together in one spot.

Have you ever checked out the website, They offer unique items at different price points--at least half of them will make you chuckle when you see them.

I was looking for a cute baby gift when I stumbled upon this item. I thought it would be perfect for people who are decluttering but wish to keep some sentimental items. And yes, when I saw it, it made me chuckle. The title says it best...

It measures 7 1/4" long x 5 1/2" deep x 3 1/2" high. Here's a view of the inside:

It's cute. It's kitchy. And I thought it was pretty cool. Those three adjectives make this Random Crap Box a winner in my book!

What container are you currently using to hold sentimental items?

June 27, 2012

Blog Carnival - Product Reviews

This past month was the first time in almost three years that I took a break from social media. No blog posts for a month and only one or two Facebook shares. No original content was created for anyone in the month of June. Instead, I focused on family events and took a trip with my hubby and kids. My head is more clear now and I'm ready to blog again!

Before I started my social media 'break', I submitted a post to the 'Your Organizing Business' Blog Carnival. The last one I participated in was about helping families get organized. This one focused on Product Reviews of Organizing Products.

The product review I submitted was about the wonders of cable turtles. Our homes and offices would be a web of wires if not for this great product!

If you're wondering what organizing products might work for you in your home or office, this is the place to check them out. Twenty three professional organizers have road-tested these products for you. I'm still only halfway through the list!

When you find a product from the list you think might help organize your space or time, let me know about it. I'd love to hear about your newest discovery! Meanwhile, I'll be trolling the list looking for some cool products to try...

May 27, 2012

New Baby? Time to Get Organized!

I'm not sure what happened in the universe nine months ago, but it seems as if everyone is having babies this spring. I have bought a bunch of baby gifts over the past few weeks and my mother just took three pink and blue packages to the post office.

It's raining babies!

Babies are cute and sweet and smell great but they come with A LOT of stuff--A LOT of stuff that needs organizing! Clothes, toys, gadgets, and equipment are only the tip of the baby-belongings iceberg. Papers, feeding/sleeping schedules, and the baby gift/thank you note list need to be organized, too.

Whether you're expecting or your bundle of joy has already arrived, what parent can't use a few baby organizing tips?

With that in mind, I’d like to offer a few valuable pre-baby organizing tips and “can’t-live-without-them” organizing products to assist in creating a clutter-free environment for you and your new arrival.

Pre-Baby Organizing Tips

Sort and Purge—your own stuff
Get rid of the old to make room for ‘the new’ (your little one needs a lot of room!). Sort and purge through your own clutter in your:


Discard or donate any clothes no longer worn or usable. The clothes in your closet (whether they’re maternity or regular-sized clothes) should fit and flatter you and be easily accessible. There’s no time to pull together an outfit when your baby is crying in the next room. In addition, if there’s stuff in the closet that is designated for your child, sort and purge that one, too.

Kitchen cabinets
Clear out items such as old containers and expired food and relocate anything you use once a year to make room for bottles, baby food and sippy cups.

Linen closet or bathroom

Toss expired medicine and remove worn out linens to make room for baby’s linens and medical supplies.

Create lists

Whether your ‘womb-mate’ is depleting you of your brain cells or not, you still have plenty to remember. Write down everything you need to recall. Make lists. Here are a few examples of lists you may wish to create prior to your due date:

To-Do List

There’s so much to do! Register for necessities, write thank you notes, interview pediatricians, look at baby furniture and keep up with the rest of your life at the same time. Keeping a to-do list will help keep you focused on what must get accomplished before baby arrives.

Gift list

Unless you have many enemies, your child will receive gifts. It’s important to have a ‘gift’ list ready so keeping track of who gave you what and writing thank you notes will be a less chaotic task. Create the gift list on a legal pad or on the computer. Designate one place to store it so can find it when the UPS guy rings your doorbell.

Birth announcement list 
If you’re planning on sending out a birth announcement, generate an address list of people you’d like to send an announcement to. The addressing of the envelopes is a perfect task to delegate. When friends and relatives ask how they can help you—hand them a pen!

Guest list
If you’re having a religious or non-religious post-birth celebration create a list of people you wish to invite along with their contact information.

Set up a filing system for your child’s papers
You’re probably thinking—papers? For a baby? Yes, not only do babies create a lot of dirty diapers they also create a lot of paperwork. These papers need a home so they’re not cluttering up your desk or kitchen counter. Their home could be a space in your file cabinet or a separate file box.

Examples of files for new baby are:
Birth certificate/Social Security card
Medical records/Pediatrician notes
Bank account/College savings account information
Baby equipment instruction booklets (yes—you should keep them…)
Gift list

Buy bins/tubs
Purchase a minimum of 5-7 bins large enough for ample storage but small enough for you to lift if necessary (to an attic space or to stack in your basement). My personal favorite are the Rubbermaid Roughneck bins. Label them as follows 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12 months.

People are going to give your child clothing as a gift, You may also receive ‘hand-me-downs’ from friends or relatives with older children. If the clothes you receive don’t fit your newborn yet, place them into the bin marked with the appropriate size for future use. Also, designate a bin for maternity clothes storage. As you drop the baby weight, drop the maternity clothes in the bin.

If you don’t have the space for bins/tubs, use Ziploc brand L-XXL bags for storage. They can be easily stored under a bed or at the top or bottom of your child’s closet.

A Few “Can’t-Live-Without-Them” Organizing Products:

Diaper Organizer
You’d be surprised to discover how many different products need to be handy while your baby is on the changing table. Depending upon what type of changing table you have, either one of these diaper organizers will work for you:

Prince Lionheart Dresser Top Diaper Depot Organizer sits on top of a changing table or dresser converted to a dressing table

Prince Lionheart Diaper Depot Organizer attaches to side of changing table

Baby Briefcase

If you have no time or desire to set up a filing system for your baby, check out the Baby Briefcase. It is a baby paperwork organizer created by a mom amazed by the amount of documents her new baby generated.

Bottle Drying Rack
Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, a bottle drying rack comes in very handy. It helps to keep all of your baby’s bottles, nipples and breast pump supplies in one place post-cleaning. As your child gets older, it can be used for kiddie plates, spoons and sippy cups.

Getting organized is essential as you prepare for the arrival of a new baby. You’ll want to be able to find what you need when you need it—quickly—and sometimes in the dark! After your first sleepless night, you’ll be glad you took the time to create an organized environment you and your new bundle of joy.

Share this with someone who is about to have a baby or just had one. Knowledge makes a great gift...