A Peek Inside the Homes of Professional Organizers

Sneak peek into professional organizers’ homes

As NAPO National President, I have had the pleasure of visiting chapters throughout the country. On my visits, it’s a treat to stay with a friend who is in the area.  It’s fabulous to see the ways my colleagues organize their homes.  Truly it’s fun to see innovation, favorite products, and routines that serve us well.

 

Innovation

My colleagues find innovative ways to use their spaces. In big cities where space is small, they use lots of creative storage to keep organized.

  • Their closets include shelving installations that maximize the space.  By using vertical space, these professional organizers are taking advantage of what’s available.
  • Back of door organizers are also frequent storage additions.  It’s either a metal rack or a shoe organizer. As in all busy homes, what’s stored there is what is used most frequently as you head out the door.
  • Need storage in a certain spot?  Command hooks to the rescue!  Hooks can be used for inside closets, over sinks and any spot you need to access something.
  • Furniture serves double purposes.  It often is retrofitted for file storage, exercise equipment storage or multiple uses.

 

Favorite products

By far the most frequently used product is a shoe box size plastic bin.  Professional organizers use these for all sorts of categorizing, whether in a closet to keep mittens and scarves together to keeping pet leashes and pet accessories together.  In pantries shoe box size plastic bins hold floppy foods and spices, such as pastas or spice mixes.

 

For the kitchen, another favorite product is the lazy susan.  This small spinner keeps easy access in kitchens for spices and a large spinner keeps access to condiments.   It’s used in pantries, cabinets and in the refrigerator.

 

Professional organizers love their closets!  Shoe organizers and shoe boxes hold less frequently worn shoes. Slim line hangers have neatly arranged items by color.

 

Command hooks rule! If there is a spot where access would help, add a command hook there to keep an item where you can find it.  In the kitchen it might be a potholder by the stove. In the entry closet it might be a purse near the door.

 

Routines

Professional organizers practice what they preach with routines. They have a donate bag in their closets to give away clothes routinely.  They have pared down their linens to just one or two sets so there is little to store.  My colleagues have just enough stock in their pantries for a week or so, and not too much.  It’s because they shop routinely weekly and use fresh produce.  Laundry baskets are there to keep a routine for washing and folding.

 

My colleagues use both paper and digital planners.  Tasks have dates and deadlines. It’s a pleasure to visit our national chapters because our members have made all the arrangements for this project.  Their tasks lists include paper lists, trello and asana.  Everyone knows where to be, how to be prepared and how to finish up after a project.  (Yes, they are all so very organized!)

 

Thank you dear friends for sharing your homes with me! It’s delightful to visit organized and welcoming homes!

Hugs and Happy Organizing: Whole House Organizing

organize your house

 

Whole house organizing is a big project!  We all want to have a place for everything and everything in it’s place. It’s essential for us to work  in baby steps to accomplish this goal.  Many times at the outset of our work together my clients ask how long it will take.  Remember that we are not only changing what your home looks like and how it works. We are also changing your (and those who live with you) habits.  It’s truly a case where every situation is different.

 

My client and I worked together weekly or every other week to create order in her kitchen, office, son’s room, master bedroom, master closet and master bath.   In these photos you can see the significant transformation that occurred each time we met.

 

home organizing before and after

 

To date, she and her family love the outcome! They have stayed organized because we worked together on her spaces to create systems and routines that work for them.

 

Her comment on her work is this, “best money and time I ever spent!”

 

5 Ways to Make Mother’s Day Extra Special (and last beyond that one day)

Mother's Day. Extra Special Experiences

 

Mother’s Day is here and you may have already purchased your mom the best gift ever! Or you may have plans with her to make her breakfast in bed and bring her flowers.  Celebrating Mom should likely last more than a day.  There’s ways that you and your mom can create lasting memories together.  Here’s ways to show you care that make for special times together. The best part is that Mother’s Day lasts throughout the year with these ideas.

 

Create a Mother-Child Bucket list together

You and your mom can noodle about and decide on an activities list.  The list can include going on a road trip together, cooking a family recipe, or learning a new hobby.  Add dates to when you want to plan your activities to be sure you get these checked off.

 

Volunteer for a cause together

Your mom and you both have generous spirits and are passionate about making a difference. Choose a way to give back together that makes a difference locally or globally.  It can be one big volunteer experience or a routine activity.

 

Read the same book at the same time

Want to be in the best book club?  Join a book club together or create one of your own.  It’s twice as fun to read and review together.  You can also listen to the book on Audible.

 

Meet for lunch monthly

A gift of time can be the best gift.  Set a time each month to meet for lunch without any distractions or additional guests.  Alone time with Mom is precious.

 

Organize photos together

Mom has buckets, drawers and boxes of photos. She may be overwhelmed by them all. It’s more fun to organize together!  Gather up supplies for paper photos and grab your devices for digital photos. Guaranteed you will not only have fun, you will learn a lot about family memories!

 

Create a memory for Mom

There are many of us without a mom.  Even without Mom here, we can create a memory about her. For our family, that memory often includes eating a special food Mom loved or lighting a candle in her memory.   Choose a way to honor your family members who have passed. It’s a memory you create for all of your family.

 

More ways to celebrate Mom and share the love here!

Spring Organizing Technology Edition

spring organizing technology

 

Technology tools are an big asset for our day to day living. At the same time these have overtaken our lives. We have devices of all sorts, ranging from cellphones, to smart home lightbulbs, to voice activated assistants.  Our tech needs a little spring cleaning and organizing too!

 

Inventory and edit

Where the heck is the tech in your home? Go through your home and office and find what you have and where it is.  Make a list of what you use and what is required of each.  Label cords with the tech device name and use.  Now you know what’s an older version or a duplicate. Many of us have quickly accumulated older devices as new items come on the market within a three year time frame now. If you have multiple devices that perform the same solutions, think about sending the item on it’s way to someone who can use it.

 

Plan for recycling

There’s electronic recycling all around us.  It’s the right thing to do for our environment. Be sure to clear your device of all your personal information by using the general settings.   For older equipment,  write the date on your calendar of local recycling. If your device is new, you can sell it and make back some of your investment.  Cell phones can be donated to a charity of choice. CellPhones for Soldiers, or local community domestic violence shelters.

 

Choose central storage

Now that you know what you have and what’s left, it’s time to plan for storage.  Choose a central storage spot in your home for technology. Ziplock together the device and cord to store for future use.  Organize the devices by use, such as listening devices like airpods and ear buds or reading devices like nook and kindle.  A drawer in an office, the bottom drawer of your nightstand or a basket in your office cabinet are common storage spaces.

 

Set up a common charging spot

Most important is to set up a common charging spot in your home going forward.  This spot is where all devices are charged overnight for a great night’s rest.  Research proves repeatedly that keeping electronics away from your bedroom improves your rest.  Your family will benefit too. There’s no longer the chaos of lost or borrowed cords for last minute charging or where to find your device on the way out the door.

 

If you are adding a new device this spring, be proactive and get organized with your devices.  It’s one small way to be more organized this year!

 

19 Ways to be More Organized in 15 minutes

19  ways to be more organized  in 15 minutes or less

 

Busy schedules required small time increments to make a difference in your life.  We just don’t have a lot of time to get organized because of all we do each day.  Here’s some baby step, 15 minutes steps you can take to have a more organized home, work and life.

Start with yourself and getting your stuff together.

  1. Gather your favorite clothes and hang them at the front of your closet.
  2. Use ziploks or small zipper bags to gather like items together in your purse or man bag.
  3. Group your exercise clothes together and place one set in a gym bag in  your car.
  4. Use an online app to purchase your groceries. Set up a reminder to do this every Saturday morning for delivery later that afternoon.
  5. Purchase online a small alarm clock for your bedroom to get a great night’s rest.

 

Move on to your family and home.

6. Place a donation bag for easy access to drop items in as they are ready to go to Goodwill.

7. Every time you go into a drawer in your kitchen, assess what’s not used and add it to the donation bag.

8. Grab a pile of paper and recycle or shred for 15 minutes.

9. Head to your bookshelf and add books to your donation bag you have not read or will not read again.

10. Walk around your home and gather school and office supplies together to know what you have.

 

Add in tech organizing

11. Spend 15 minutes in your email folders organizing by category. Think big and think about the ways to group your email rather than by alphabetical single folders. Organize only what you need rather than every email.

12. Delete photos you don’t need from your phone. Move photos to a consolidated cloud based access tool.

13. In email detach documents and save these in your documents folder. Rename these with an easy, consistent naming process.

14. In 15 minute slots, delete what you don’t need from email. Rearrange by subject and sender to make it easier to decide what to delete.

 

Finish up with routines

15. Take 15 minutes each evening to “reset” and get life back together.

16. Take 15 minutes each evening to prep for tomorrow with your clothes, nutrition and stuff.

17. On Sunday evening, add a weekly 15 minutes to review your calendar for the next week ahead.

18. Write up a weekly meal plan for you and your family. Post it or capture it digitally to repeat in 3 weeks.

19. Spend 15 minutes sitting, relaxing, rejuvenating, reading a magazine or taking time to reflect on all you are grateful for each day.

 

Congrats! You have made organizing simple, fast and easy! You are more organized in 15 minutes. Now repeat again next week, and again the following week.

How to set up an Organized home: Your Tech Spots

technology in your home

An organized home has 4 important components for living an easy, organized life.  These areas are zones that help you accomplish the basics: being on time, feeling in control by knowing where things are and working together as a family team. These components will make life better! The second step is having your technology organized.

 

Technology can rule and ruin the day in your home.  There’s so many devices, so much connectivity and so much that needs organizing.  Get your tech organized with a plan.

 

Common charging spot

Common charging spots make life better.  A good night’s sleep comes from no blue light before bed or distractions during the night.  Create a common charging spot for all of your family.  That’s where you and your family all plug in at night, overnight, to be sure that every sleeps undisturbed. All your devices are ready to go and in one place to take off for the day. Use alarm clocks for wake up for all of you.  It’s an inexpensive option as a replacement for your phone.

 

Labeling

Our devices have lots of pieces, cords and accessories.  Break out your labelmaker to know what cords are needed for what devices.  Have sufficient cords for yourself and your family. If you are a frequent traveller, have a duplicate set of cords to travel with in a small zipper case or grid it case.

 

Smart home stuff

Thank you to our friends Alexa and Siri for helping us each day! Smart home features are on our devices to make life easier. There are small ways to get started and most sites state that the most bang for your buck decision is your therostat.  Choose a strong password for your smart home stuff to avoid being hacked.

 

With your Amazon or Google assistant, place this in a well supervised area of your home. Just like any other device connected to the internet, there’s possibilities for your kiddos you may or may not have imagined.

 

Tech during homework or work time

All of us get easily distracted on devices.  There’s ways to help you stay focused with apps.  If you want to track your use, check out RescueTime. If you want to block segments of the internet, use StayFocd.  Keeping on task means staying organized and productive.

 

Tech graveyard

There comes a time when your tech dies. It’s reaching epic proportions in homes with computers, laptops and devices.  There’s ways to sell and recycle tech without much work. Sites like Gazelle and Decluttr to buy back your tech. There’s kiosks in your mall or your cellphone provider will buy back new-ish devices.  Don’t create a tech graveyard and take action when you get a new piece of equipment.

 

What’s best about your organized tech spots? It is using your tech for what’s best in your life!

 

How to set up an Organized Home: Your Landing Strip

how to set up an organized home

 

An organized home has 4 important components for living an easy, organized life.  These areas are zones that help you accomplish the basics: being on time, feeling in control by knowing where things are and working together as a family team. These components will make life better! The first step is having an organized landing strip where you leave and arrive home.

 

Coming and going, if it’s only you or you and your family, happens every day all day.  Why not make it easy to get in your home and get out?  Take the stress out of daily life by organizing this area that can be congested and chaotic.  Here’s the parts you need for an organized landing strip.

  • Set up by the entry
  • Drop spot for backpacks
  • Key holder
  • Shoe organizer
  • Hooks for your and your kids bags

 

Set up your landing strip by the location you come and go most frequently. It’s can be the hallway right inside the garage door, by the front door or by an area adjacent to your entry.  This follows the concept of placing items at point of use.

 

Drop spot for bags and backpacks

Life includes bags of all types. Your kids have school backpacks and bags for sports, dance or other activities. Hooks or slots fo all these bags give each of these an organized, specific spot for each.  Keeping these off the floor creates better traffic flow.  This is also the spot for your purse or manbag.  That way you always know where it is and where your credit cards and wallet are.

 

Key holder

A key holder is a happy place to keep your keys.  There’s nothing more frustrating and emotional than losing the expensive keys to your vehicle. A key holder is the organized spot for these.  What’s even more fun is choosing a key holder you love that makes you smile as you see it.  Here’s what else is on this organizer: neighbor’s keys and mailbox keys. Place this key holder near the door again for best access.

 

Shoe organizer

Many of us come into our home and remove our shoes. Our shoes carry lots of dirt and bacteria so it’s what we want to do to keep our homes clean.  A shoe drop area is perfect to keep your shoes organized.  It’s especially important for families for shoe organization.  The shoe drop area can be a basket, vertical grid with openings, a drawer or any product.  Your shoe organizer can be just organized enough or highly organized.  Shoe organizing requires maintenance too!  Once a month review what’s here and what needs to make it back to the closet.

shoe organizer grid

 

Hooks

Because the landing strip is often in a hallway, decorative hooks make organizing happen.  The hooks should be sturdy enough to hold the weight of the bags or your purse.

 

Pull your landing strip together with color and design.  Choose coordinating items that work together for an attractive combination.

Help the kids get ready for school with a bag packing and unpacking station.

Photo courtesy of IKEA

 

More ideas on landing strips and home organizing here on my blog!

Marie Kondo, Tidying up, Decluttering and Organizing

 

marie kondo and tidying up

Before the Netflix hit, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, there was Clean Sweep and Mission Organization.  Television has been showing the process, emotions and benefits of organizing since 2003. It’s not surprising that we have a fascination with getting organized.

  • 67% of people say they would save 30 minutes a day if they were organized
  • When people organized, they feel accomplished, in control, confident and relaxed.
  • The top 2 reasons people don’t organize is that they feel overwhelmed and don’t have the time.

What is most fascinating about th buzz created by this new series.

  • Donations have skyrocked, up to 60% more donations to Goodwill stores.
  • From the Washington Post: Millennials texted friends photos of their newly neat sock drawers and makeup trays, and posted them on Instagram. Furloughed government workers spent their time off sifting through closets and lugging shopping bags of clothes to consignment shops. Auction houses got calls from consumers desperate to get unwanted furniture out of their living rooms; consignment shops filled up appointment slots weeks into the future.
  • Couples are watching together and decluttering their homes together. That’s a powerful moment for connections and family goals.

 

It’s what we call what we do “tidying up”

It’s not decluttering, editing, or purging. It’s called tidying up.  That gentle description of what we do when we let go brings meaning to our work.  Our national buzz about tidying empowers us with a positive, approachable, strategy.  Rather than being overwhelmed, we have hope to make positive, joyful changes in our environments. There is not shame or judgement with this zen approach.  Marie Kondo’s “spark joy” approach gives us a big reason to make changes in our nests.

 

Inspiration, motivation, and actionable decluttering are the best reasons and benefits.

The series has been a cheerleader for many people in many ways.  It is bringing together groups who serve as encouragers for each other to spur on decluttering using social media group texts, instagram and hashtags. Families have conversations and support each other’s efforts in letting go of stuff in their home.  There is a gentle encouragement, outward support and strong conviction in getting started, dropping off and organizing stuff that remains.

 

Thank you Marie Kondo for making tidying up a great start to the new year! Let’s hope the series continues to inspire us to make positive changes in our homes and lives all year long.

Decluttering and tidying is a journey. It’s a routine that we incorporate. How do we keep our inspiration and motivation going?  Be sure you have time each week to do the work. Be sure you keep inspired with the benefits of your new lifestyle. And be sure you bring into your home and keep only what brings you joy.

 

 

How many clothes do I need?

How many clothes do I need

 

I am asked this question a lot by my clients. How many clothes do you need per person in your home?  How many clothes do I need? It’s not an easy answer.

  • Too many clothes can cause chaos in your home.  Having too many clothes makes it difficult to get ready in the morning, aka “I have nothing to wear, but my closet is full.”
  • If your laundry is overwhelming, it’s probably because you own too many clothes. Laundry is never complete and you have a mountain to do.  Laundry can become a priority because no one has underwear too even when you have 14 pairs of undies.
  • Think of the money you can save if you knew the number of clothes to purchase.  Purchasing just what yo need could save you money.
  • So, just how many clothes do you need per person? See what you think after I share my experiment with my client.

 

Here’s what Organizing and Decluttering Blogs say

I searched many blogs for the answer to how many clothes.  If you are a minimalist, perhaps just owning fewer clothes is your first step. Owning less is an easy option to start.  If you turn your hangers around to see what you wear, you can see how much you don’t wear. To save money, a specific list works well. That list could be a starting point to let go of extra clothes.  A coordinated capsule wardrobe minimizes the number of clothes and maximizes your style potential. You will be excited to get ready each day when you know everything in your closet matches.

 

Here’s what followers on Facebook say

I posted this question to my Facebook followers. How many clothes do I need?  Most comments included “depending on your activities.”  More activities, then more clothes.  Some commented on their own capsule wardrobes.  Many commented that they let clothes go each season.  What I learned from my Facebook followers is that the number of clothes you need is not a constant and depends on what your activities are.

 

Here’s what a client and I did

How many clothes does a mom need? My client and I decided on an experiment. Our goal was to simplify her laundry. It had become overwhelming.  We took 5 (yes, just 5) of each item (shirts, pants, exercise, dresses, undies) in her closet to keep and placed the remainder in bags in her garage. Our experiment was to keep these bags in the garage for a month to see if she retrieved any clothes and how many she needed.  Here’s how we started. We went through her clothes piece by piece and place what we were keeping in a laundry basket. When we were complete, there were 2 baskets of clothes.  Immediately she felt relieved.  She had struggled with laundry for quite a while. Right away she knew she had plenty to wear and that everything she wore would fit and be what she loved.  She is enjoying the freedom from taking care of too many things. Then she did the same for her husband!

What’s the result of our experiment?

  • Less stress because of less laundry
  • Clothes are put away in closets and drawers
  • More time to play with her kiddos
  • Plenty to wear each day

When you think of how many clothes you need, drill down to what you need to wear and how many you need. It’s life changing!  Take home this experiment and see what you think is the number of clothes you need.

 

More tips, tricks and experiements here! Get my newsletter! 

 

 

 

 

Hugs and Happy Organizing: Study and Office

Hugs and happy organizing

 

There’s a space in all homes where it becomes the drop zone. It’s where all the items that have no home go, just so these are not in your living room or bedroom. This space has potential for many different uses and it’s up to us to create a functional areas here.   This is a Hugs and Happy Organizing story about a space designated for a study.

This client’s space had become a drop zone, that being unused space for for quite a while.  It’s been where papers and photos that had no home go, just to sit.  Piles were piling up, books were sitting on the floor, and crafts were sitting unsused.  In just 3 hours, we were able to reclaim the space for a study for her husband. Here’s what we did.

 

  • First, the client decided exactly what this space is to be used for, that being a study.  It’s where her husband will work on accelerated virtual learning. That let us know what would be needed in this space to accomplish this task.
  • Starting with the floor, we went through the piles.  The piles were an assortment of different papers.
  • Some of the piles were her kiddo’s art work from school from the last few years. We decided what to keep, what to photograph and what to let go.  This precious artwork will be stored in a portfolio in her daughter’s room.
  • There was an accumulation of mail that needed to be shredded.
  • Books were replaced on an amazing lawyer’s bookshelf.
  • We edited, shredded, and sent items on their way.
  • We consolidated office supplies into drawers for easy access.

The result is an amazing space that is ready for study!  It all came down to getting started, working efficiently and knowing what the end results should be for the desired use.

 

If you have a space that has gotten away from you, it’s collecting paper instead of being used, now is the time to get started.

 

More Hugs and Happy Organizing stories here!