Get Ready for Back to School

Sandy Rhee, Organizing Guru

Sand Rhee 2016-08 01 first day of schoolThe end of August is quickly approaching and, with it, the beginning of another school year. The time of year that kids bemoan and parents rejoice. It can be a stressful time when there is no plan for getting ready, so let’s talk about it.

Schedules

Sand Rhee 2016-08 02 clock faceIt’s time to start resetting the families’ internal clocks to the school schedules. That might mean going to bed and getting up earlier than during the summer months. Don’t wait to start the earlier bedtimes until the night before. Start the process early so kids can gradually get used to it. Going to bed and getting up at the same times every day is ideal for quality of sleep but not always possible. It doesn’t hurt to aim for it though.

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Why not to clean up?

At a recent networking event I was talking to an acquaintance about the work I do. I mentioned that I encourage my clients not to clean up their spaces before I arrive. She gave me a horrified look.

It brought back childhood memories of my mother telling me to clean my bedroom before the cleaning lady came. I never understood the point of cleaning my room so it would get cleaned by someone else. There is a family disagreement about why. My mother told me it was so I would have an easier time finding my favorite things later, but my sister remembers being told that it was so that the cleaner would have more time to do deep cleaning. I assume that part of the reason was to lessen the embarrassment of the mess before the cleaning person could see it.

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3 Simple Ways to Make Your House Guest Friendly

With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner now is a great time to scrutinize your home with the eyes of a guest. I have listed three rooms that are focal points while entertaining and can play a large role in hospitality:

1) The entry– Make sure it is clear and easy for people to move through. You do not want your guests to feel as though clutter is leaning in over them as they enter your house. Create a home for all your jackets and shoes, and set up an area where you can quickly hang visitors’ jackets.

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The Simpler the Better

Receiving a thank you note in the mail is pleasant. It’s even more pleasant when you’re being thanked for something you didn’t realize would make an impact on the other person. This happened to me when I offered a simple organizing solution to a Realtor I had met at a networking event. She asked me if I had any ideas how she could keep all her real estate forms portable and organized. I suggested a portable accordion file. The next thing I know, I’m reading a very sincere thank you note that makes me smile. It just goes to show you, sometimes the simplest organizing solutions are the best solutions. In this case, find a good home for paper and things.

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Simple tips: Bathroom products

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by clutter and don’t know where to start? Sometimes just picking one type of item or one small area of a cluttered space and organizing that is a great start. Small organizing projects can usually be finished quickly, and it’s easier to focus on one small part of a big task than to tackle the whole thing at once.

I have a few simple tips that I’ve found make a huge difference for a lot of us. You might not find every single tip useful for your space, but I bet you’ll be able to take advantage of one or two.

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Less is more

Because I am an organizer many people think I hate stuff, that I despise things and belongings.  When working with a client one-on-one I am able to dismiss this assumption pretty fast.  I don’t hate stuff and I do not disregard other people’s precious items.  What I try to help people see is that relationships and quality of life are so much more important than anything we own.  Organizing is often not about the physical stuff so much as it is about our perception of those things.

If disorganization, clutter or a lack of systems negatively affects you and those around you, you are being held captive by what you own and allowing it to control you.  This will cause stress in your life and ultimately your relationships.  Sometimes people have simply acquired more than their space can comfortably contain, but the belongings are relatively current.  Other times clients are drowning in an avalanche of memorabilia or things associated with memories.  This habit will hold you in the past, keep your present from being enjoyable and even your future from moving forward.

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How To Keep Your Car Organized

When thinking about home organizing, we often forget about our cars.  Many of you spend a significant amount of time every day in the car, commuting to work or chauffeuring your kids around after school.  The car gets cluttered very quickly because you bring so many things into the car and there’s very limited space.  Below are some suggestions for keeping your car clutter-free:

  1. Remove the clutter.  Take a look at what’s cluttering up your back seat and your trunk.  Sort out those things that were inadvertently left behind.  Bring them back into the house and return them to their rightful homes.
  2. Throw away the junk.  Get rid of anything that is no longer useful – plastic shopping bags, empty cartons, trash, chewed up dog toys.
  3. Identify what’s essential.  What do you use in your car on a regular basis?  Don’t keep anything in your car “just in case”.  Chances are you will never use it.
  4. Consider seasonal needs.  As the season change so may your car essentials.  In the winter, you may want to carry a small shovel, some road salt and an extra blanket.  In the summer you may want to keep extra water or sunscreen in the car.  Assess your needs as the weather changes so you won’t be caught off guard.
  5. Determine your storage needs.  Yes, you will need storage in your car to keep all of your essentials organized.  There are many products in the market specifically designed for car storage.  Don’t feel you need to spend money on those.  You likely have containers in your home already that will work in your car.  Keep in mind that you will need something covered so the contents don’t spill out if the car comes to a sudden stop.
  6. Add a trash receptacle.   Having some place to put trash in your car is essential.  You can buy trash cans/bags specifically made for the car.  Or you can improvise.  I use a small paper shopping bag lined with a plastic bag.  As long as you and your family have a defined place to put trash, it won’t end up all over the backseat and the floor.

Now that your car is neatly organized, you’ll have to maintain it by repeating steps 1 -3 periodically.  This will take a matter of seconds if you do it daily, minutes if you do it weekly.  The benefits of an organized car far out weigh the minimal amount of time the upkeep takes.  You won’t dread getting into your messy car anymore.  You will have more room for passengers and cargo.  You and your passengers will be safer because you’ll have what you need at your fingertips.  All in all, your time in the car will be a much more pleasant experience.

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Use a Lazy Susan to Tame Craft Supplies

If you are a crafter, you know how many small supplies go along with your hobby; pens, scissors, pins/needles, tape measure, buttons, paint, the list goes on.  While these items are essential for the success of your work, they are also easy to lose.  Having a clear home for these items helps you stay productive and organized while working.

A great organizing strategy for the craft or hobby room is a Lazy Susan.  The ability for the supplies to be displayed clearly and interacted with easily is ideal.  The Lazy Susan in the picture came with several glass dishes that fit in the tray.  They were perfect for holding pins, measuring tape and other small items.  If your Lazy Susan does not have dishes, simply using cans or jars will serve the same purpose.

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A+ Homework Helpers

Try these tips to set up an effective homework spot for your child:

Provide a lap desk if your child likes to do homework in bed.
Clear the desk clutter.  Does your child have a clear space to spread outand work? Remove anything that has piled up on the desk but isn’t related to homework. Have the most-used supplies (pens, pencils, stapler, notepad) out on the desk and ready to go. Make sure your child’s desk has drawers or another spot to keep the less-used school/craft supplies. If your child prefers to work at the kitchen, stash supplies in a cabinet or basket. Have good lighting for the workspace. If your child likes to work on the bed, get a lap desk. Provide a place for the papers. No matter where your child likes to work – desk, bed, or kitchen counter – be sure they have a place to store their school papers. A desktop file works great – label a folder for each class.

Give papers a home with a desktop file.

Elizabeth Goodsell is a Professional Organizer and owner of That’s Neat! Organizing. Check us out at www.thatsneatorganizing.com or call 617-905-7762.

Organizing the Garage Doesn’t Have to Be Painful

Organizing a garage can seem like a daunting task, especially when the space has become a dumping ground for the family as it is often the gateway to our indoor living space. Before jumping in, plan ahead; what purpose should your garage serve?

  • To create an open and easy-to-utilize storage area for all outdoor activities?
  • Is it to have the ability to use the space as it was originally intended, to store the car(s)?
  • Or are you converting it to be a workshop?

Three Easy Steps for Organizing the Garage

1.  With your end goals in mind, create zones for your different types of items (Such as gardening, tools, toys etc.).

2.  Then create aisles, and keep them clear.

3.  Finally, get items off the floor for easy maintenance and cleaning, which will reduce the amount of dirt that gets into the house.

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