Archive for the ‘Organizing Tools’ Category

Picture Yourself Getting Organized

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

In the age of the social media and smartphones, everyone’s a photographer. We snap, share, filter and tag photos every day, but we rarely stop to organize the shots that stack up on our devices, let alone the prints that are stuffed in envelopes, in drawers, in boxes… just waiting for you to take the time to sort them out. Well, now’s your time, and I’m here to help.

Whether you’ve got them on digital devices or you’ve got piles of prints cluttering your home or office, you’re going to need a plan to sort and store your photos. It can be a pretty big job, so you may want to divide it into stages. Once you’re ready to get started, make sure you’ve scheduled enough time to get it all done, or those piles will start growing again right where you left off.

In the beginning, digital cameras seemed like the ultimate answer to photo storage, but the simplicity of taking digital photos was soon replaced by hundreds – or thousands – of images being stored on your memory cards, phone or laptop. Maybe you think uploading your pics to Facebook or Instagram (or your social network of choice) is going to keep them safe, but scrolling through an enormous digital stash is not a fun or efficient way to peruse your keepsakes.

Uploading a picture to Facebook is not the same as storing your photos online!

If storage is all you’re looking for, there are tons of online options that will keep your photos safe and unburden your laptop or smart phone. Dropbox.com offers the first 2GB for free, and also allows you to share your files easily. Their stand out feature, Camera Upload, allows you to automatically upload your photos (and videos) from any device. If you want more photo specific functionality, the most popular websites include Shutterfly, PhotoBucket, and Google’s offering, Picasa. These sites, and others like them, offer free photo storage and a host of options for editing, sharing, and printing. Pay close attention when you sign up, and you’ll find there are always great offers for first-time users to get free prints and other goodies.

For some people, their photo-folly is that they have a closet full of photographs that have never been stored digitally. The first step is to sort through everything you have and delete the duds. You do not have to keep every shot you’ve taken, so let go of any guilt you have over “tossing out memories” while you’re letting go of duplicates, blurry shots, and the “nothing specials.” When you’ve got it down to the truly cherished memories, you can use a service like ScanmyPhotos.com, which will scan all your photos and return them to you along with a DVD. Money saving tip – if you sign up for their email list, you’ll be eligible for significant discounts and promotions.

Once you’ve whittled down your catalogue, and transferred everything to digital storage, it’s time to start creating albums. First decide how you want to organize them – chronologically or by category (wedding, vacation, family, birthdays). I recommend printing your albums at one of the previously mentioned websites or, if you’re a Mac person, like me, you can create them directly from iPhoto. Whichever service you use, it is fast and fun to drag and drop your photos into beautiful, fully-customizable albums. These printed photo books are thinner than traditional albums, so they’ll fit better on shelves, and they can be stored online for future printing to give as gifts.

If you’re old school and you prefer traditional albums, remember to only use nonmagnetic, acid-free, lignin-free and PVC-free pages, as all of these materials will decrease the lifespan of your photos. Acid-free plastic sleeves will deter cracking and yellowing, and labeling with an acid-free archival pen will also prevent damage. Whether you go with digital or print albums, be sure to record who is in each picture, where and when it was taken. This will make revisiting the photos more fun the next time around. Always store your photos and negatives away from light and heat sources, and avoid storing albums in the basement or on the closet floor so if there is ever a flood, your memories will be spared.

Now that you’re motivated to get those photos organized, don’t wait to get started! You don’t have to do it all at once, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, begin with one box or one stack and go from there. You’ll have such a great time revisiting your memories, you’ll hardly notice the great work you’re doing getting organized, too.

Do you have a favorite product or method for keeping your photographic overflow in order? If so, please share it with us in the comments below.

Closet Organizing – How to Install an elfa® Closet

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

I work with elfa® frequently and find it rather easy to install.  The product is affordable, very sturdy, and flexible enough to use in most any space.  If you enjoy simple, do-it yourself type projects, this how-to video demonstrates how you can install your own elfa® closet system from The Container Store. This is the eighth video in a nine-part series on how to organize your closet like a pro.

Be sure to review the seventh video in this series, where I explained the closet parts, tools, and important safety considerations.

What’s your biggest challenge in your bedroom closets?

Here are the previous videos in this how-to series.

Organizing Your Closet – A How-To Series
Organizing Your Closet – Measuring and Planning Your New Closet
Closet Organizing – Removing the Old Closet
Closet Organizing – How to Sort & Downsize Your Closet Clutter
Closet Organizing – Sorting & Storing Your Linens
Closet Organizing – Sorting & Organizing Your Clothes
Closet Organization – Steps to Install an elfa® Closet System

Organizing Your Closet – Sorting and Storing Your Linens

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

This is the fifth video in a nine-part series of “How to Organize Your Closet Like a Pro” and we’ll take a look at organizing your linens.

I love living in the city. However, with city life, you often find a lack of storage space. In this home, there was a lack of closet storage. So the homeowner decided to store sheets, towels, blankets, tablecloths, and material in his master bedroom closet. As you can imagine, the closet was over flowing!

In this 4 minute video, I demonstrate the basic steps you can follow to sort your household linens. Because this homeowner was short on space, we had to find a new home for the towels. In order to redistribute them to another area of the home, I suggested we add a shelf in the linen closet/laundry room conveniently located outside the main bathroom. By adding a shelf here, we were able to move the bath towels closer to the bathroom. Several old blankets were donated, and we used large sweater bags from The Container Store to keep items clean and organized in the closet. Finally, we made use of the space under his bed and stored some of the linens that were not frequently used in the Underbed Containers from The Container Store.

Do you have a creative way you store linens? How many blankets and sheets do you think you should have for each bed in your home? Please share your comments below.

If you’ve missed the first four videos in this how-to video series, please review these posts. If you have any questions about the process, or if you get stuck, please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Organizing Your Closet – A How-To Series

Organizing Your Closet – Measuring and Planning Your New Closet

Closet Organizing – Removing the Old Closet

Closet Organizing – How to Sort & Downsize Your Closet Clutter

Get Organized & Save Money

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Oprah has once again teamed up with the awesome folks at The Container Store to offer you 25% off everything in the store now through, Sunday, July 12.  You’ll need to download this coupon to take in to the store or to use online.  Be sure to measure your spaces and make your shopping list before you go.  Know what you’re shopping for so you don’t buy items that clutter your living space.

Get Organized At Home With These Helpful Products & Services

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

I recently attend the National Association of Professional Organizers Washington, DC – Metro Chapter’s June meeting.  Members featured new products and resources from the NAPO Conference in Orlando, Florida which I attended this past April. One by one, members demonstrated various products and explained the highlights of some new services. Everything shown was new, unique or a great resource. Below is a list of eight items featured. I’ll blog about the other five items in a future post.  Thank you to all the companies who donated their product.  Each product was given away as a ‘door prize’ at the end of the meeting!  Read on to discover which item I won.

Shelf Improvement Rollout Shelves
Shelf Improvement makes glide out shelves which only require four screws to mount and have a “2 minute” estimated installation time.  They were very solid in construction and had beautiful dovetail corners.  I was very impressed with the quality and price.  The glide out shelves are $79.00 plus $10 shipping for any size.  The widths available are: 10″-30″ wide increasing in 1″ increments and the depths are 21.5″, 18.5″, or 16.5″.  If you’re a do-it yourself type, check out these glide out shelves.

Clearly Noted
These designer note cards were created specifically for Professional Organizers.  They are the concept of my friend and colleague, Jill Revitsky of Discover Organizing from Pittsburgh, PA. The designs are fresh, unique and feminine in style.  They’re also very reasonably priced at $15.30 for a 6-pack.  If you’re an organizer and need stylish stationary to stay in touch with your clients, buy these cards!

SaveMyPix.com
The owners of SaveMyPix.com, Maxx & Monica attend the meeting as guests.  Their unique service will scan your precious photos, old slides, and convert your old VHS Tapes and 8 mm film to DVD.  I love the idea of their service called – Stuff ‘n Send. A prepaid box which will hold up to 1600 photos. The photos are scanned at 300 DPI and returned on your choice of digital medium for the current sale price $99.95. They really couldn’t make it any easier.  Make this your Father’s day gift!

Brother P-Touch 1230PC
This easy to use label machine connects to your PC via USB.  You do not have to load software on your PC because it’s preloaded on the machine.  You can conveniently design durable, laminated labels up to ½” wide using your PC keyboard and monitor.  The labels print on their TZ label tape which comes in white, clear, and various other colors.  You can load additional logos or any True Type Font on the machine.  Brother says it’s “Perfect for home or home office labeling needs.”  I won this label machine in the ‘door prize raffle’ at the end of the meeting but I’m a Mac user – so, it’s not so perfect in my opinion.  For PC users, at $49.99, you could use this label machine – a bargain in my opinion.

List Planit
Jen Tankersley has branded her company as “List to Put Your World in Order”, and I agree!  List Planit has over 400 attractive, printable lists and planning pages for you to manage life.  They’re conveniently organized on their site by categories – life, business, kitchen, finance, etc.  They have three types of membership – print, download, or professional ranging from $20 – $50 yearly. That’s If you like paper lists, I highly recommend this service.

Time Timer®
If you saw the episode of Time Makeover on The Fine Living Network when I worked with the Lucchesi family, you would have learned about the very cool, Time Timer®.  Their products demonstrate how much time has elapsed.  If you see the color red on the face, that shows you how much time remains.  If you have trouble managing time or if you’re teaching the concept of time, there is no better tool than a Time Timer®. Their website boasts “This innovative tool constantly reinforces the sense of elapsed time in order to promote better time management.”  You can buy the 3″, 8″ or 12″ version or their handy wrist watch style.  They even have a new PC/Mac software that runs on your computer screen.  I’ve been using it since April to help manage the time I spend on Facebook and Twitter.  Prices start at $30 and I recommend you purchase the timers with the optional audible signal.

Recipe Nest® by Recipe Relish
I’m in love with this concept because I frequently tear recipes out magazines, dreaming of the day I’ll learn to cook.  The Recipe Nest® is perfect because it’s designed to store full-page recipes from your printer or from magazines.  They’re organized with tabbed dividers.  No more trying to punch holes in the flimsy magazine paper!  The built-in easel easily folds out and works with the clip-on the front to display the recipe you’re using.  This keeps my dirty hands off the recipe when cooking and I use a plastic sheet protector, or you can buy the specially designed ‘Recipe Sleeve,’ to keep the recipe clean as you cook.  The surface of the Recipe Nest® is also spill proof, so you can splash and splatter all you want!  There are great colors to choose from and the Recipe Nest® easily fits inside most kitchen cabinets or on a bookshelf.  Choose the color that matches your unique style.  Mine is Kiwi Green!  This is perfect for anyone who likes to cook at $38.95.

Easy Find Lid Food Storage Containers by Rubbermaid
I blogged about these Easy Find Lid Food Storage Containers by Rubbermaid back in September 2008 which I featured them on a WUSA 9 TV Appearance.

Their unique design allows you to snap the lid to the base of the containers.  You’ll never lose a lid again!  They come as small as .05 cup up to 2.5 gallons and all sizes in between.  With this graduated size design, they easily nest together. I’m a huge fan of square storage containers because they optimize your storage space.  Yes, you can microwave and freeze meals in these containers.  A 20 piece set is around $15.99.  I’ve seen them for sale at Target, Harris Teeter and Giant.  Click here to download a coupon for $1.00 off your purchase.

We had five more products featured at the meeting which I’ll feature in a different blog post.  Did you find anything above that would be helpful to you at home or that would make the perfect gift for anyone?  Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts and ideas.
Thanks,

Organizing Experts Recommend Products to Stay Organized

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Blogger Debbie Jordan Kravitz of Virtually Organized is a self described “recovering perfectionist” who writes about simplifying and organizing your life.  We’re virtual colleagues since she lives in York, PA.

Recently, she surveyed her colleagues on Facebook and Twitter asking what products they love to use when organizing with clients and she also asked what we didn’t like.  Everyone who’s worked with me knows I am a huge fan of The Container Store’s elfa®.  So it’s no surprise, that was the product I recommend.  Check out her blog to learn about the other organizing products various industry experts love and hate.   Everything from the basic staple to Rubbermaid’s Easy Find Lid food storage containers received props.  You may recall me blogging about the Easy Find Lid containers when I highlighted the products I featured on WUSA9 News.  They’re great for food storage and have a space saving design.

I have to agree with Allison Carter,
of The Professional Organizer who dislikes the toy storage racks that hold 9-12 bins.  These racks for toy storage may look like a good idea, but they are poorly designed.  The bins are too shallow for anything substantial in size, they are hard to take off the rack, the bins fall through the slats, and the bottom two rows are halfway covered by the row above.  Want to know what else was liked or disliked?  Read the whole article here!

Organizing Products Reviewed on WUSA9

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

I received a call from Lesli Foster, weeknight anchor on WUSA9.   She asked if I would join her live on the 5:00 PM news to discuss getting organized for the Fall.  Excited by the opportunity, I had just a few hours to pull something together and pitch the idea to Lesli.  Thanks to the Container Store, Rubbermaid, and HomeRule for providing the products I’ve suggested we feature.

Starting off, check out these amazing new food storage containers Rubbermaid provided.  They’re called Easy Find Lids.  After you’re done with those large, home cooked holiday meals, you’ll need some quality food storage containers for the leftovers.   Why not pick up a set that have lids that snap to the base of the containers so you can easily find the right lid.

They come as small as .05 cup up to 2.5 gallons and all sizes in between.  With this graduated size design, they easily nest together. I’m a huge fan of square storage containers because they optimize your storage space.  Yes, you can microwave and freeze meals in these containers.  They’re also dishwasher safe.  Now all I need is a dishwasher!  Buy these awesome containers at your local Target or most grocery stores.

The Container Store has introduced numerous eco-friendly storage products in their collection.  I’m loving the rich plum color of their Library office collection.  The Office Storage Boxes, Magazine Files, and Desktop File box would make a wonderful set for your home office.

They’re constructed of recycled
heavyweight fiberboard, have a linen weave fabric exterior, and a white paper-lined interior.  They’re excellently crafted and have a nice metal label holder to easily identify the treasurers you’re storing inside.

I challenge you to think “outside the box” about how you can use this collection outside the home office.  Perhaps the Office Storage Boxes would be good to store paper keepsakes, or one of those numerous art projects elementary-age children bring home, or a needlepoint or craft project on the sofa table.

The Magazine File would be a nice option to store papers to take to work or for outgoing mail you want to drop in the mailbox on your way out the door.  I also recommend a File Box for your kitchen counter if you need to have quick access to school papers, sport schedules, tickets, gift certificates, phone directories, and so forth.  Do you have any other ideas?

My church, uh, I mean The Container Store also has these awesome, multi-functional Feathergrain Bins.  I’ve used these with many clients who love their size, the light weight and nice quality. We’ve stored everything from pet supplies, toys, and magazines to craft items.  They come with handles or with lids.  I recommend you check these out A.S.A.P.

I have a few other suprises I’ll be sharing on the news segment, so tune in or set your Tivo.  The segment will air at approximatley 5:30 PM on WUSA9.

Paper Shredding Scissors – Tool or Toy?

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

In a previous post, I showed you the Dynomighty Magnets. Well the same company sells this cool set of portable shredding scissors. “This new Luddite paper shredder is perfect for those small items that you want to shred like voided checks or store receipts.” Made by Compact-Impact.

Made with stainless steel construction, they report the mechanics are very smooth and they feel great in your hand. I personally use a shredder that sits on the floor near my desk, but I could
see these scissors being used by someone in their kitchen or in a bedroom where they might want to toss a receipt they had in their pocket.

Available on line for $19.50. Buy a set for the person who tears up receipts into tiny pieces. At least they’ll save their fingers using the scissors.

Watch this video to see how easily they slice and dice a check into confetti.

I see these scissors as a toy more then a useful tool for the home.  They are certainly quieter then a document shredder but not nearly as efficient.

Survey Says, 62% Did It This Weekend!

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Are you addicted to email? Because AOL Mail is curious. Each year, AOL Mail surveys their users on the email habits. Over 4,000 people age 13 and older were surveyed in June. Here are the results for Washington, DC. The results for the top 20 cities can be found here.

“In Washington, D.C., 46% say they’re hooked on email, matching the national average. Worse, 11% have even hid checking email from family.

The Punctuation Police
87% watch their spelling and punctuation when typing emails. More than two-thirds (68%) are irked by misspellings but 77% excuse the errors when the emails come from a mobile device, like a BlackBerry®.

My Email Filed for Bankruptcy
23% of email users have either declared “email bankruptcy,” deleting all of their email messages to start anew, or are seriously considering doing so.

23% have gotten a new email address to start fresh with a new inbox or are thinking about it. It’s no surprise then that the average DC user has 2.6 email accounts. It’s easy to get a new email address these days too, just visit My eAddress for a new one of your own.

I’ll Have the Duck, Just Let Me Send Off this Email
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Washington email users say they’ve checked their email in a restaurant. Other popular email spots include in bed in their pajamas (62%), in a the bathroom (65%), while driving (49%), while on a date (32%), at happy hour (38%) and from church (14%).

It’s So Over, No Lose My Email Address
12% have asked someone out on a date over email and 6% have broken up over email. Meanwhile, 18% have used email to share bad news and 7% have quit their job by email.

Mixing Business & Pleasure
The average email user in Washington, DC checks personal email at work 3.6 times per day. Meanwhile, they also check work email more than 3 times in a given weekend.

19% plan vacations based on where they know they can access email, and 30% say they feel obligated to check work email while on a break from the office.

The First Email of the Morning
Almost a quarter (22%) of DC users check their email as soon as they wake up and 11% check email right when they get home from work. 37% even check their email in the middle of the night and 49% of mobile email users keep their mobile device or BlackBerry® on the nightstand so they can hear the chime of a new email arriving in their inbox.

Me and My Mobile Email
19% of email users check their email from a mobile device or cell phone. In fact, 51% of these users say they upgraded to a new cell phone in the last year because they wanted to get email while on-the-go. Want to get mobile email on your phone? Just click here to get started.”

I’m headed to Maine on vacation later this month. In the remote location where I’ll be camping, there is no internet access and no cell phone signals. I’ll have to unplug my spine and put away my iPhone for the week. I’m sure I’ll survive. I’m nothing like the guy in this video.

Do you have any experience with email addiction in you personal relationship or any rules with your significant other on cell phone use outside of work hours?

5th Street Ace Hardware Makes A Good First Impression

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

On Sunday, June 29, I had the pleasure of attending the VIP Grand Opening of the new 5th Street Ace Hardware at 1055 5th Street NW. It’s located in the CityVista project in the heart of DC.

In addition to over 9,000 square feet of retail space on two levels and more than 20,000 items in stock, the store is launching two product lines new to Ace Hardware–Mythic Paint and Schulte Storage Systems.

Mythic Paint is one of the first environmentally friendly, zero volatile organic compound (VOC) paints on the market, which should please homeowners who want to “go green.”

However, I was most excited to check out the Schulte Storage Systems. I have worked with Schulte’s closet line named FreedomRail system (previously I found it at Organized Living in Fairfax), so I know the system is easy to install, durable, and perfect for condo dwellers or anyone who wants to get the most out of her storage space. Organized Living closed a few years ago. Because 5th Street Hardware is located below the new CityVista condos, I anticipate this product line will be a huge seller for store.

FreedomRail has a basic ‘Profile’ system which is very similar to the Container Store’s elfa®. There is one additional step when installing FreedomRail as opposed to elfa®. The extra step involves screwing the upright into the wall for stability, which is not a drawback for FreedomRail, in my opinion.

I love the new tiered profile shelf (pictured to the left), which has a built-in stair step that maximizes visibility of items on the shelves. It can be installed level or at an angle, depending on your needs. I didn’t see this in stock at 5th Street Ace Hardware, but Gina Schaefer, the store’s co-owner, said they can fill special orders and requests, usually within a week.

Another item that sets FreedomRail apart from elfa® is the option of enclosed cabinets and drawers. I have several clients who have passed on elfa® because they did not like the mesh or grid wire baskets which make up the drawers. This could be the perfect alternative.

As expected, the store also has all the offerings of an old-fashioned hardware store: paint, tools, cleaning supplies, house wares, storage items, plumbing, electrical, a lawn and garden section, and more. If you can name it, this cool hardware store probably has it!