Student Organizing Products


Homework strikes fear in the hearts of kids and parents!  And getting organized with your child can be tough! Here are a few products that can make a difference for both of you!

Start the process with open minded listening to your child.  The system you create needs to be the one they own, not your’s.  By presenting several different ways to do the same thing, you are co-creating the system, not demanding it. 


System 1.  Single 3 inch binder with multiple slash pockets with tabs.  Purchase 6 sets of slash pockets. Line up the pockets by color, grouping all the blue together, all the pink together etc.  Label as follows with a label maker:

Math hw, Math notes, Math test/quizzes

Eng hw, Eng notes, Eng test/quizzes

Sci or Bio or Chem hw, etc.

Determine if homework is going into each section, or is the one place for homework in a the front pocket of the notebook.  Be sure to be specific on each slot the paper goes so every type of paper has one slot.

System 2.  Accordian file.  Purchase a 7 slot accordian file. Label each tab, including the following, HW, classes in order of the day, notebook paper. 

Once the system is established, establish the routine.  Papers are always in one of the slots, never in the backpack.  Once the marking period is complete, the paper moves to the desk top paper sorter, labeled by class.  This way only the current paper is being carried back and forth to school. 

The Big Mouth Sorter fits directly into the back pack as an alternative to the accordian file .  Again, label it by class in chronological order of the day. 


Establish routines for students with starting and completing homework. Homework should start after a snack and a little time off.  It should be completed no later than 9 pm. The time timer helps students stay in track during homework time.  It is a visual reminder of their work time.  I recommend using a “power period” of 50 minutes of work and 10 minutes off.  This way students remain motivated and get the work done.  At the end of homework time, everything is packed away and placed at the landing strip to head out in the morning.



Most people know of a home in their neighborhood where the home is obviously overflowing with clutter.  Some homes begin to not function and contents spills out into the yard.  Most people have no idea where to turn to for help.


Hoarders (television show on Monday nights) has created an amazing buzz in my world of professional organizing.  Each 60-minute episode of Hoarders is a fascinating look inside the lives of two different people whose inability to part with their belongings is so out of control that they are on the verge of a personal crisis.  Certified Professional Organizers are featured on the show, especially Geralin Thomas of Metropolitan Organizing  As the clients and CPOs work together, public viewers watching are touched in a unique and powerful way.   Viewers identify with many of the challenges faced on the show.  The attachment and emotional issues make an impact in a way no family member can!  It is a powerful agent for change to have a new outside perspective on people and their stuff.   


Over 10 million people in the US have clinically significant hoarding.  This equates to 2 – 5 % of the population.  The average age at treatment is 50.  They tend to be single and have a high rate of divorce.  They tend to live alone and there is usually a family history of hoarding.  Onset usually occurs in childhood but does not become severe until adulthood.  Hoarding affects people regardless of socio-economic level.  As recently as last year in Houston, a River Oaks couple was unable to be rescued from their home due to hoarding.  What defines hoarding? Hoarders have a brain disorder resulting in an all-consuming compulsion to collect that often cuts them off from society and damages their relationships. In severe cases, clutter can get so out of control it can cause complicated medical issues, endanger lives and create safety hazards.   


The best help for those with hoarding issues begins with collaborative therapy with a counselor and a certified professional organizer or (CPO or CPO-CD). There is a workbook available to begin the process, Buried In Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving and Hoarding by By David F. Tolin, Ph.D., Randy O. Frost, Ph.D., and Gail Steketee, Ph.D.  How to help a family member with this illness? Seek professional guidance to begin the process.  There is hope and help for you and your family.  


Some resources

Clutter Hoarding Scale

 Obsessive Compulsive Information Center

 Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Hoarding Disorder



Clutter Support Group

There are so many ways to begin the organizing process, from reading a great book to asking a friend to be your clutter buddy to hiring a professional organizer.  The Clutter Support Group is one more of these valuable tools in the journey to living an uncluttered life.  With so much on television and in the media about hoarding, people are beginning to recognize how important starting this journey is.  

Let me share with you a little of the logistics.  Our Clutter Support Group meets weekly for 6 weeks with 7 incredible women committed to change in their lives. As they affirm and nurture others, they also work individually on a project in their home. 

What do they say is most valuable about our group? 

  • Learning about themselves and to focus their strengths on organizing
  • Clarity on what their personal challenges are in relationship to their stuff
  • They are not alone in this struggle
  • Being a partner to others and being accountable makes organizing happen
  • Learning new perspectives on the process makes a difference
  • Change happens!

I am honored to be a part of their efforts as they confidentially reveal what has troubled them most.  We draw our strengths from each other as we work to create the home and the life we envison! 

Interested in joining the next Clutter Support Group? Contact me to learn more!

Busy Moms’ Success Tips

busy moms' success tips


In the last month, while speaking to moms all over the greater Houston area, I have learned many success tips for families. Here are a few shared by moms of young children.

Write a list of 5 things you do every morning and do them before 9 am. This includes empty the dishwasher, start a load of wash, quick vaccum or whatever else is most important to get the day going.

Create an evening routine for you and your kids that includes bathtime, laying out all clothes including shoes, backpacks packed and breakfast table set.

Sort your toys into bins and label the bins. Your kids will not play with the tea set if the saucer is missing! Keep toys together that are played with together.

Play with your child first, then get your tasks complete.  Your kids will be happier and so will you if their needs are met, then you complete your other jobs.

Have your kids help with the laundry. Host the laundry party once a week, put on fun music, and get it all into baskets and back to their closets.  Have a laundry basket in each child’s room to take the laundry to the washer and bring it back from the dryer.

Using a command center for papers makes all the difference.   I have one place to look for paper this way.

Over and over I find that having a routine for my family makes the most difference.  Writing it out on a paper helps me remember what our routine is.

What are your busy mom’s success tips?

Hire a professional organizer?

As I work with clients, I am often asked, why hire a professional organizer? Here is an amazing answer from my client Susan. 


Hire a professional! Where do we get the idea we should somehow develop a skill if it has not happened in fifty-seven years? Do I still yearn to be more organized, yes. I still have to work harder in systems. However, Ellen and I have systems geared to me. It is different now because I am different. I look up because I know my gifts are many and I shine! I can give in those areas, areas others cannot.   It was profound when I realized I needed training from Ellen, and that was OK. If she wanted to paint she would need training from me. People go to cooking school, they hire party planners, accountants paid for their expertise, people look to teachers to learn to swim, to sew, etc. they even hire people to help them with fashion.  I hired Ellen be­cause my brain does not and never will work like hers. Her giftedness lies in her love of people like me. She is an encourager, she lets me make my own decisions, and keeps my secrets. For one of the first times I do not feel judged.


Are you ready to make a change? Hire a professional organizer!


Making the most of your money

Wondering about a budget? Here are some ideas to get you started!


Getting Started

Create a list of monthly expenses. Write down a list of all the expected expenses.  This includes your mortgage payment, car payments, auto and home insurance, groceries, utilities, entertainment, dry cleaning, retirement or college savings and everything else that is money spent.  These are the big ticket items.

Record ALL your spending. Write down all your expenses, both credit and cash in a daily log.  Doing this will make you think twice about unnecessary expenses, just like keeping a food diary makes you aware of every bite you take! After a month, review what you have spent your money on and ask yourself the true value of it.  Review this with your partner and confer on what is important, valued and prioritized. 



Look for ways to make small saving add up.

·                     Make dinner out a once a week splurge!  Bring your lunch to work and pack your kids’ lunches. 

·                     Curtail your afternoon coffee stop at Starbucks, stops for beverages like soda, and bring your own water in a non disposable container.

·                     Shop for clothes and household furnishings at resale and consignments shops. Need a holiday dress for your little girl? It is much cheaper at consignment than a major department store. Pick up furniture or other large items at

·                     Keep your home warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter.  You can save 5%–15% on your cooling bills by raising the temperature setting on your thermostat when you are away and don’t need cooling.  Keep your thermostat at 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter. Have your AC/Heat checked twice a year to be sure it is operating properly.

·                     Do chores you are paying someone else to do, like mow your lawn or clean your house. 


·                     Minimize your dry cleaning expense. 


Bigger savings on big ticket items

·                     Trade in your car for a less expensive model or purchase a used car instead of new.

·                     Reduce larger expenses by eliminating season tickets to ball games or musical events. 

·                     Refinance your mortgage with the new lower rates.  If new mortgages are costing at least two percentage points less than the rate you’re paying, refinancing may save you significant dollars.

·                     Increase your deductible on your insurance.



Some ideas for percentages for the budget

·                     Savings 10%

·                     Mortgage 25 – 30%

·                     Household expenses of utilities 10-15%

·                     Other obligations (debt/tithing) 10%

·                     Insurance, medical care 10- 15%

·                     Auto payment, car care, gas 10%

·                     Recreation and entertainment 5%

Once you have found ways to make your expenses at least 10% less than your income, create an automatic deduction each month that sweeps that 10% into a savings account. Now you are on track to be a stay at home mom!


Cultivate a mindset of less is more.

Accumulating stuff, whether it is a luxury auto, designer clothes or a big abode, takes its toll.  We have more to take care of and it ends up as a burden instead of a blessing.  Cultivating a mindset of less is more is thinking through the whether that “stuff” is more important than relationships. In creating our family, we should decide on our values and mission and create priorities as a result. Is your mission to have your children raised in a one income family with a stay at home mom or dad? It will take valuing that goal above all else to make it happen. It is in having less stuff, fewer expenses, a smaller home, less extravagant autos, and more about relationships, that we can accomplish this mission. 

Garage Organizing

garage organizing


In Houston, we are notorious for keeping our cars in the driveway and lawn equipment, unopened boxes and more in our garage! October is a great month to organize your a garage and even have a garage sale too!  It is a big project to tackle so be sure to include your family team in the process.

Plan Your Work
With all organizing projects, we need a plan for organizing success! Begin by setting aside 2 consecutive days for organizing your garage. You will need to take everything out of the area, boxes, bikes, recreational equipment or whatever! Enlist your family to assist with this endeavor for them to have ownership of the project and help in the decision making! If a clean space and a way to find toys is not reward enough, remember to find an incentive for your children in this family project.  Plan for the biggest parts of what is to be removed from the garage.  When is the heavy trash day? You can put items at the curb and have someone else taken them away.  Contact Salvation Army to pick up from your home the day after organizing so you won’t have to bring the donations to them.   What other large items will be sold and can be listed on  Get your plan in action with the big stuff first.

Toss and Categorize
Keep in mind when you might use items again! “Just in case” is not a sufficient reason to keep all the items in your garage. Be decisive about how frequently you will use belongings and whether to keep them. Decluttering is just as important in this space as any other in your home. Once you have made decisions about what you are keeping, it is time to define categories for storage. Categories for your garage might be recreation, hardware, tools, gardening, and seasonal. If you have wood scraps, be sure to store these together but don’t keep every scrap. Also, take this opportunity to clean your garage, sweeping out bugs, dirt and more!

“Finding a Home”
Once you have created your categories, remember to locate what you use most in the areas of best access. Whatever you use most should be located closest to the door to the house. Items that are used the least can be stored behind or beneath other belongings. Use wall and ceiling space to maximize your area. However, keep as much as you can off the floor.

Organizing Products
When purchasing organizing products for your garage, retail and wholesale superstores have wonderful and inexpensive products. Garage items can be very heavy and need extra support. Four tier metal shelving units are most popular. Sturdy plastic containers with lids that seal are an excellent way to keep bugs and dirt away. Rubbermaid has products designed specifically for garages with slots for specific tools.  Called “Fast Track” it is an easy way to use vertical space where you have lots of it!.   As always, be sure to label everywhere including bins and shelving.   Monkeys Bars also has outstanding products to organize visually with hooks, shelves and more.  If you can see it you know you own it.

Is garage organizing a priority for you? Email me what you have accomplished to park your car in there!

Get out the door in the morning with a smile

family organizing


Getting you and your family out the door in the morning can be the most chaotic part of your day.  It comes down to some simple organizing strategies and routines. 

Do as much as you can the night before.  Yes, really!  Set the table or set out super simple take aways for breakfast, pack the lunches (except cold stuff), have back packs loaded and by the back door, get you and their clothes ready and set your alarm.    The less you must do, especially for the non-morning people, the better.  

Set up work zones: Landing strip and command center.  The landing strip is a spot where you are going to see all the stuff and take it with you.   It can be a place with hooks for backpacks and cubbies for shoes, or just an assigned location. (At our home it is the angled section of the back steps!)  When you see it, you can easily grab and go!  The Command Center is the paper station for the important action papers. Having one spot where the kids papers can be retrieved, your information easily accessed, and a drop slot for bills makes the difference as you head out the door in the morning. No more looking for last minute papers!

Morning and evening routines.  Establish and write a list of the routines that your kids and you need to do daily. You may not need a list, but they do! It can be written on the mirror in the bathroom with crayola bath markers or dry erase markers. 

Morning routines including dressing, brushing teeth, eating a small something, and then getting out the door.   If possible no chores at this time, except feeding the pets or bringing hamper to the laundry room.   

Evening routines include homework in backpack at landing strip, clothes out the night before, laundry put away, clothes in hamper, set alarm, read, early to bed.  Apply the same to yourself!

Getting up on time depends on going to bed on time.  It is harder to get up if you have gone to bed late.  Setting a good bedtime for everyone, including yourself, makes a big difference.  We all need 8 hours of sleep so set a bedtime that allows for that.   Many of my clients take advantage of those late hours for their “playtime.”  Resist the urge and get to bed on time for a happier tomorrow!

Build in a little extra time. If it truly takes 15 minutes to walk to school, allow 20 minutes of time. Drive times in Houston can take an extra 15 minutes on any day.  We are most stressed when we feel behind or out of control.  Allowing some “white space” for travel, getting in the car, and that little something that always goes wrong gives us a better mind set for starting the day.  This is the gift of time I have personally given myself.  I have a newspaper to read in the car and take a few extra minutes to regroup if I arrive early.   

 Get everyone on board with the plan and be consistent. A positive approach works best with rewards for catching family members “doing it right.”  Host a family meeting where the morning routine and expectations are discussed and finalized.  

Getting out of the house can be the hardest part of the day! What strategies are you using to smooth out the bumps?


Rubbermaid Rocks!

could this be more adorable?

could this be more adorable?





We all want our kids’ lunches to be more nutritious.  What better way to add salad, veggies or yogie than with a new Rubbermaid Take Along and Blue Ice shape! This is an adorable way to pack a nutritious lunch for your kiddles.  It brings a smile to everyone’s face. 

In adorable shapes, like this monkey, who wouldn’t want to bring lunch.  My grand daughter squealed with delight when she saw it! She took it in her lunch the first day of school.   Her mom always packs her a healthy low fat lunch including yogurt and string cheese, so this is a convenient addition to her sack lunch.  We keep it in the freezer, pop it in early in the morning and things stay cold all day.  Pop it back in after school and it freezes overnight!

Other ideas for fun lunches?

·     ham and cheese roll up skewered with a pretzel

·     veggies and small dip

·     celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins

·     apple wedges with peanut butter and a marshmellow

Want to win this new product?  I am hosting a contest for a Rubbermaid TakeALongAFunLunch ice. 

Email me with your most creative and delicious lunch for your child’s lunch sack.

Deadline for submissions is September 21.   


Check out more about Rubbermaid at

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Make a Difference with Dress for Success

Our workplace attire is taking a new twist as we redefine the classic style of business. If you have classic work place suits, Dress for Success is the place to contribute to the success of others needing a fresh start. If your suits don’t fit, are not your style, or you have started a new business endeavor, donate these for women who are starting out professionally.   Find a local Dress for Success at  Each March Dress for Success holds its Send One Suit Drive. However you can donate all year! Also needed are neutral purses, neutral shoes, and hosiery.

What qualifies for Dress for Success? Traditional suits with jackets and either pants or skirts in neutral colors.  Please dry clean the suit and bring it on a hanger.  You are making a difference!