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

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. read more

Create a Strategy for Meal Planning

Meal planning can be a challenge for many people. Do you start to think about dinner when it’s time to eat? By then, you don’t have any food on hand and don’t have time to go to the grocery store. Meal planning is a hurdle that you can tackle by planning in advance and sticking to a schedule.

I cook most nights for my husband and me. I’m a Lifetime Weight Watchers member so eating healthy is important to maintaining my goal weight. I also work full time and have many commitments outside of my work life. Below is my strategy for planning ahead so I have what I need on hand to cook a healthy meal when I get home. read more

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.

Communicate Your Expectations

Communication is key when working toward maintaining a home with others.  Everybody is “wired” differently and may not be aware of the the same household tasks that need to be accomplished.  For example, if the dishwasher contains clean dishes, my first thought is, “the dishwasher needs to be emptied as soon as possible.”  My husband however may think, “the dishwasher needs to be emptied sometime.”  Therefore, I may leave the house for the day and when I arrive home later, although he may have been home all day, the dishwasher will not be emptied.  This is not a task that he felt needed immediate attention and piling dishes on the counter is acceptable to him.  If I do not verbalize my expectation that the dishwasher should be emptied as soon as possible, it will not be done. read more

Preschool Artwork: It’s OK to Throw Most of It Away

Just in these past few weeks of the school year, I’ve sent home with my preschool students hundreds of paintings on oversized newsprint, drawings on dot matrix printer paper, and sculptures made of recyclables.  Most children love to create.  But what to do when all that art comes into the house?

First, as a preschool teacher, I want to tell you that your child’s time being creative is very important.  Your child’s brain is growing smarter as they experiment with different forms of media, different techniques, and different subjects. read more

Book Review: Growing-Up Organized by Lea Schneider

In preparation for my presentation “The ABC’s of Raising Organized Kids,” I’ve come across a little gem of a book.

Growing-Up Organized: A Mom-to-Mom Guide by Lea Schneider is an easy-to-read book brimming over with practical suggestions for organizing both your home and your time.  It covers:

  • Children’s bedrooms
  • Closets
  • Homework
  • Toys
  • Laundry
  • Chores
  • Time management
  • Clutter
  • Responsibility

The author, a Professional Organizer, knows what she’s talking about.  What I really admire about her is that she understands how to really teach children, including very young children, basic organizing skills.  As a preschool teacher, I appreciate her emphasis on training young children in age-appropriate ways. read more

Quick Ideas to Organize Art Projects

While it is impossible and impractical to save every art project your kids create, it is a good idea to keep some projects to remember the year.  Here are a few ideas to organize children’s art projects;

1.  Take digital photos or scan each child’s artwork and create an online scrapbook.  You can take it a step further and create a poster or photo book to remember the year.  Sites like Snapfish or Shutterfly make it easy.

2.  Keep a portfolio – I actually use a combination of digital and portfolio.  I place artwork throughout the year in a portfolio for each of my girls.  At the end of the year we weed through them together and I then take photos of what we decide to keep. read more

It’s a Family Affair

When organizing a home occupied by many family members, it is critical that all members be on board to help with the organizing changes.  Organizing involves habit and lifestyle changes.  To maintain the new habits, everyone has to be aware of what needs to be done and on what schedule. Communication is key.

Keep the lines of communication open in the family.  If one member of the family is working with an organizer, it is essential that he/she transfers skills and ideas to the other family members in a timely manner.  There is nothing worse than attempting a major change in your home only to have it sabotaged because others are not on board due to lack of knowledge. read more

Three Tips for Creating a Successful To Do List

I have been making To Do lists since I was a kid.  And these are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

1. List single tasks, not entire projects.

A task is a single, actionable step whereas a project is a series of tasks toward a goal.  So, for example, let’s say you want to paint your house.  If you write, “Paint house” on your To Do list, you’re setting yourself up for failure.  But if you write down, “Pick up paint chips at hardware store,” you can actually get started! read more