These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

By Susan Stone

How much do I love my organizing tools? Let me count the ways! I had a hard time narrowing down my personal list of favorite organizing tools so I decided that I had to limit myself to ten “must-haves” that go above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis.

This list could go on and on – but here are my top 10:

  1. Smartphone – This is my hands-down “if you could have one thing on a deserted island” choice. From using the apps for visual time reminders to those that help you get off junk mail my phone is my #1 organizing tool.
  1. Brother Label Maker – This handy sized label maker is always in my bag (along with extra batteries and tape cartridges). No matter what you need to label – the crisp type gives a professional, clean, and organized look.
  1. Staples’ ARC Notebook System – This note-taking and paper calendar system allows you to move pages around with ease and is customizable for your needs.
  1. Command Hooks – Hang just about anything without leaving a hole in the wall. Great for going vertical, I love to have a selection of sizes on hand.
  1. NeatDesk Desktop Scanner and Digital Filing System – If you’re interested in making your life paper-free, this is a worthwhile investment.
  1. Banker’s Boxes – Essential for sorting items, easy to move and store, and great as a temporary hanging file holder.
  1. Colored sticky notes and black sharpies – I love using the bright colored stickies for labels, reminders, and so much more.
  1. Matching velvet hangers – Using these makes not only makes a closet look more organized, but their thinness gives you more space. I use black for my current clothes and red ones for new items that I’m still considering so that they grab my attention before the “return by” date hits.
  1. 3-ring binders and page protectors – These are wonderful for storing and organizing recipes, stuff torn out of magazines, warranties, and other bits and pieces of info. The page protectors are great forholding onto odd-size papers.
  1. Ziploc Plastic Bags – From snack size to XXL ventilated storage bags, these are great for corralling stuff everywhere – from purses to workshops.

About Susan

Susan Stone is a Certified Organizing Coach and Certified Professional Organizer who helps over-stressed and over-whelmed people create order in their lives to make room for joy. read more

The One Month Cardboard Box Test from Peter Walsh’s book It’s All Too Much

In his book, It’s All Too Much, Peter Walsh offers a simple test to determine what kitchen utensils you are using and what can go:

Not sure what you use and what you don’t?  Here is a tried and true way to find out.  Empty the contents of your kitchen utensil drawers into a cardboard box.  For one month, only put a utensil back into the drawer if you take it out of the box to use it.  At the end of the month seriously consider discarding everything that’s still in the cardboard box.  Face it: If it’s still in the box after four weeks, you don’t need it! read more

One In and One Out

I’ve been on a hunt for a new dressy winter coat for quite a while. I kept my old one, since I didn’t have a replacement yet, even though I hadn’t worn it for a few years. But I decided it was ridiculous to hold on to it when I wasn’t wearing it and there were people who actually needed a warm coat to use. Out it went.

With the help of a stylish pal, I finally found a great new coat. When I brought it home, I did what I always try to do when I update my wardrobe: I looked for the old one to put in the donation pile. read more

Halting the Catalog Flood Starting Today

Is your mail box getting stuffed each week with a growing number of catalogs from your favorite stores to those you don’t remember signing up for? Are they mounding up on your counter/table because you think you might look at them or are theyfilling up your recycling bin (and you feel guilty about all those lost trees)? If you answered yes to either question, then take some time now to cut down on the deluge before you get buried.

First, grab all your catalogs.

Sort into 2 piles – keeping and recycling read more

The Tech Box Conundrum

About a month ago, David Galloway wrote a short article on apartment therapy asking “Should You Toss Your Tech Boxes?” I was very excited to hear his answer because my husband and techy friends all save the original packaging their electronics came in. We have boxes stored in our closet, attic, and basement. Whenever I question the logic of keeping all these boxes, my husband and friends tend to spout the same reasoning: We need to keep these boxes just in case we want to return, ship, or sell the item. They believe that keeping the tech packaging is part of the stewardship of owning an electronic device. Between David and his readers, here is the list of criteria they came up with for keeping or tossing your tech boxes: read more

Keeping Track of Books:

My husband is a librarian and a scholar at heart. He has lots of books.

I have my own collection of books, including a large selection of children’s books to use in my preschool classroom.

Our family loves LibraryThing.

LibraryThing is a  website where you can catalog books. Here are some ways you can use it:

  • My husband has cataloged his entire personal library. This helps him keep from buying duplicates.
  • I tag all my children’s books according to theme. Then when it’s time to get books about fish, I can search my own collection quickly. No need to refamiliarize myself with what’s on my bookshelf.
  • Whenever I find a children’s book that I love, even if I don’t own it, I put it in LibraryThing and tag it with the theme. Then I don’t need to do a catalog search at the public library next time I need to find that cute book about manners.
  • I often hear about books I’d like to read someday. When that happens, I hop on LibraryThing, search for the title or author, add it to my catalog, and tag it “Books to Read.”
  • I’ve heard of people also using LibraryThing to keep track of which books they’ve loaned out.

LibraryThing has a social media component so you can connect with people who are reading the same things you are. You can explore other people’s catalogs and read people’s reviews. I haven’t taken advantage of these features, but they are there. read more

Book Preview: The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard

At the end of our last organizing session together, a dear client gave me a parting gift.  It was the book The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communtities, and Our Health – And a Vision for Change by Annie Leonard.

I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m really excited to find a book that addresses the environmental issues that lurk behind the organization/consumption issues that so many of my clients struggle with.  I’m especially looking forward to the “vision for change” that the author incorporates into the book. read more

Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults Book Review

I recently read selected chapters from Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults by Thomas E. Brown.  Dr. Brown worked directly with children and adults and filled his book with real-life stories and perspectives from people with ADD.  I found this style of writing to not only be more engaging to read, but helped paint a picture to the reader the many ways ADD manifests itself.

As part of the selected chapters I read was one regarding the brain chemistry and chemicals necessary to make executive decisions (ie prioritizing, attention and problem solving).  While this chapter was quite “meaty” and less interesting to me, the clear images in addition to text helped the reader understand what sets the ADD mind apart from others. read more

Things and Happiness

The following is a technique discussed in the book Making Peace with the Things in Your Life by Cindy Glovinsky.  This book is packed with information on dealing with the Things in your life and how to determine which things are worthy of staying in your life.  Give this technique a try:

“Choose a room in your home.  List every Thing you can see in it that is not essential for your survival.  On a scale from 1 to 10, how much pleasure does each of these Things currently give you?  The items with a score of at least 6 are among your “happiness Things.”  Now focus on the Things that receive a score of less than 6.  What “shoulds” are motivating you to hang on to these belongings?” read more

The Secret Weapon for Constant Decluttering: The Donation Box

In my closet, I have a very important box.  Depending on the time of year, it can range from completely empty to completely full.  I love this box because it helps me in my quest to keep our home clutter-free.  It’s my Donation Box.

Right now, inside my donation box are:

  • some decorative items that we no longer love (but are still in good shape)
  • electronic equipment that we don’t use anymore but could be really helpful to someone else
  • some clean clothes that no longer fit

On the outside of my Donation Box is a label with the phone number of a charity which picks up my donations.  As soon as the box is full, I call the number on the label to schedule a pick-up.  Then, I put the label with the phone number on a new box and put it in the closet to collect any future donations. read more