Everyday Orgnaizing

Janine Cavanaugh, CPO®Upon returning home from getting my hair cut, I realized how many little things I organized. I can name 10 steps I took:

1. Hung up my keys
2. Hung up my coat
3. Put my gloves and hat away
4. Took of my boots and put them on the mat
5. Put my pocketbook away
6. Took my check book out of my pocketbook and put it back where it belongs
7. Put my book away (I brought a book to read at the hairdressers.)
8. Wrote my next hair appointment in my datebook
9. Tossed the hair appointment notice
10. Collected the mail and put it in it’s “to sort” location (I won’t go into the steps I took to process the mail. That’s a whole other blog entry.) read more

Value of Labeling

by Janine Cavanaugh, CPO®
Janine Cavanaugh, CPO®
While on vacation I read an article on the plane about David Beckham.  Did you know he’s really into Legos?  While reading, I was reminded of a client of mine.  I helped her organize her son’s room and his large Lego collection.  He liked them sorted by theme, so we put different themes into different containers.  That action would have been futile unless we labeled them.  We labeled the containers in two ways, with words and stickers that related to the themes.  Labeling is an important part of organizing, because it clearly indicates where an item belongs, and reinforces where an item needs to be returned. Do you think David Beckham had his Lego containers labeled? read more

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. read more

Yard Sales

Selling what you no longer want or need is one way of bringing in a bit of extra cash, so long as you know what you’re in for. Yard Sales are a lot of work. If you want to give it a try here are my top 5 tips:

1. Spread the Word – if no one comes, you won’t be selling a thing. List your sale locally, both on line and in print. Share the date with friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers.
2. Price to sell – remember people are looking for bargains. Group things together by price and have a colored sticker code. This beats having to print up or write up price tickets.
3. Get a permit – some towns require a yard sale permit. You don’t want to have to pay a fine, if your town requires a permit, and you don’t have one. Check with your town hall before you plan a yard sale.
4. Donate after the sale – establish the rule that nothing from the sale goes back into the house or garage. Instead pick a donation location before the sale and set up a pick up date or drop off date.
5. Have cash on hand – make a trip to the bank before your sale so you’re prepared. Only accept cash as payment, and have plenty of change and singles to make for smoother transactions. read more

The Reach Ability Factor

Reach Ability Factor
by Janine Cavanaugh, CPO®

In organizing, just like real estate, it’s all about location, location, location.  Where we permanently and temporarily place our belongings, papers, projects and information, is important because it helps us find what we want when we need it.  The Reach Ability Factor is a system that helps us decide the best location for things based on how frequently we use them.  We have 4 sections.

  • Section A:  Items in this section are things we use daily, like our toothbrush, our favorite coffee mug, and underclothes.  Everything in section A is easy to reach, all we have to do is reach out an grab it.
  • Section B:  Items in this section are things we use weekly but not necessarily daily, like our workout clothes, and specific utensils or dishes.  Everything in section B requires us to move a little, but still within comfortable reach.
  • Section C:  Items in this section are things we use occasionally, like suitcases,  a food processor, and extra blankets.  Everything in section C requires us to exert more effort to reach, like bending down or using a step stool.
  • Section D:  Items in this section are things we use once a year, like holiday decorations, or things you can’t part with like our wedding gown.  Everything in section D would be in a remote storage area like the basement, attic, or a cabinet that is more difficult to reach.

The Reach Ability Factor is meant as a guide to help individuals evaluate the best location for their belongings.  What is a perfect spot for one person is not the best spot for another.  Organizing is personal.
Please note that it’s important to concentrate efforts on one’s current lifestyle and reevaluate the placement of items once a year. read more

Resources to Reduce Paper Mail

I was at the National Association of Professional Organizers Conference for 5 days and guess how many pieces of mail I received? Only 9! In addition, I did receive one local newspaper and one packet of flyers. Out of those nine pieces of mail, two were really good, a check and a copy of the news article in which I was quoted. Not bad, right? Would you like to know the secret of how you can receive less mail? Below are my top 3 tips on how to reduce the amount of mail you receive:

1.  Get your name removed from mailing lists for newspapers, magazines, catalogs and solicitations. Please note it can take up to 6 months to be removed from a mailing list. Some websites to try: read more

Spring Organizing Tips

Happy Spring! The calendar tells us it’s upon us, even though there’s still a bit of snow on the ground. However, I did spotted a robin on my walk the other day. I get inspired by spring, the bright yellow daffodils and crocus, the chirping peepers, the fuzzy pussy willows, and the return of the song birds. It encourages me to start something new and freshen up my space. What about you? If so, I’d like to share a few spring organizing tips:

1. While you’re getting out your spring and summer cloths purge those items that you didn’t wear last year and any items that are a bit too snug. Donate to a local charity or look into a consignment shop. read more

What is the Cost of Ownership of Your Stuff?

September brings colder nights, and soon we’ll be turning on the heat.  My family received the depressing news from our plumber that our furnace should be replaced this year or next.  Oh, the joys of home ownership.  What about the joys and cost of owning any item?

Do you agree that it’s easy to accumulate belongings, especially if you have children?  Things, stuff, and junk seem to multiply at a very rapid rate.  Have you ever asked yourself what is the cost of owning all these things, all this stuff, all the junk?  Just like home ownership, I bet it’s not always pleasant to own things.  In fact, just like home ownership, it can be costly. read more

Staying Organized

Staying Organized
by Janine Cavanaugh
As a Professional Organizer I’m often asked by the homeowners I work with,
“How can I stay organized?” They explain that they spend time creating order and
buying cool organizing products to help them stay organized, but in two months,
things look just like they did before. In addition, their cool new organizing products are not helping or worse, they’re not even being used.
The best way to answer their question is to share this example. Imagine you
have magazines all over your house, piles of them here and there, and you have a
hard time throwing them out. You decide something needs to be done with them. So, you purchase a few magazine racks to help corral them. Great! Problem solved,
right? No! In a few months the magazine racks are overflowing and magazines are
finding their way to other parts of your house again. So, what can you do?
You need to complete the organizing process. I call it the ‘creating guidelines
phase’. By purchasing the magazine racks you have created a place for them to be
kept, but now you need to create some guidelines for yourself pertaining to those
magazines. The guidelines help you decide how long to keep each magazine and
when you have enough magazines.
Guidelines take the form of questions, and I find it helpful to write them down.
Here are a few examples:
1. How long will you keep a single magazine issue?
2. What are the deciding factors for keeping an issue longer than the given
time frame?
3. What is the maximum number of magazine issues you will keep at one time?
4. As many as will properly fit in the magazine racks?
5. Once that maximum number is reached, will you practice the one in, one out rule?
6. How frequently will you go through the racks to prevent stockpiling?
Answering these six questions and establishing a system to process your
magazines, enables you to keep them organized. By practicing the process and
having a little self discipline you should be able to stay organized.
These guidelines can be modified to fit other items in your space. If you are
struggling with the ‘creating guidelines phase’ I recommend using the six sample
questions listed above to help you establish organizing systems for the things and
paper in your life.
©2010 Janine Cavanaugh, Professional Organizer. All Rights Reserved
For more information or a consultation please contact Janine Cavanaugh at
janine@helpfulorganizer.com
(508) 699-6652
www.helpfulorganizer.com read more