Archive for the ‘The Messy Drawer’ Category

Prepare Your Garden & Yard Tools for Spring

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

If you’ve been counting the days until your snowy white yard melts into the gorgeous greens of spring then this article is for you, because I’ve got some ideas for getting your hands dirty now. It may be too early to get to your garden’s soil, but there’s plenty of prep work to be done if you want to make the most of your lawn and garden this year.

Get your greenhouse in order! Or your shed or the corner of your garage that is dedicated to your gardening… whatever space you have, getting organized before you take on any project will make everything run smoothly. After you’ve swept up your entire workspace and all the surfaces, eradicate any winter creepers that may have taken up residence with an appropriate product. Make sure to ventilate the space thoroughly afterwards.

Start with a clean slate. Clear out drainage ditches, fix your fences and trellises, and mend any containing walls that may have collapsed under heavy snows. Clean your tools and take your blades in to the local home center for a professional sharpening to make sure they’re ready to work.

Stock your gardening tote. You want to have what you need to get started, but don’t go crazy and over-shop when you see all the new supplies at the store, promising you that spring is just around the corner. Remember, you’re not stocking a nursery, but you will need a few essentials on hand:

  • Tending to your plantings can be back breaking work, and a trusty wheelbarrow is a gardener’s best friend. Make sure yours weathered the winter well, oil up the wheel and clean any critters out of the nooks and crannies. If space is a concern, look for a collapsible wheelbarrow so storage during the off season is easier
  • If the glove fits, wear it! With gardening gloves, proper fit is key to your comfort. If they aren’t comfortable, you aren’t likely to wear them. Try on a variety and collect the best ones for heavy-duty jobs like shoveling and moving rocks, and also for more delicate garden work like transplanting.
  • Trowels are multi-purposed which may be why they’re the most commonly used handheld tools for gardening, so you’ll want to have a few different sizes on hand. For tools with more reach, a selection of rakes and shovels will come in most handy.
  • Hand Pruners should be purchased specifically for right- or left-handed gardeners. More substantial pruners called loppers, should be used on branches larger than ¼” in diameter to prevent damaging your pruners and preserve the life of your tools. It’s worth it to pay a few extra bucks for a well-designed tool that fits comfortably in your hand. Pruning saws and hedge trimmers are only necessary if you’re taming with larger trees or shrubbery.

Taking the time to prepare your gardening workspace is an important step to maximize your plantings’ potential throughout the year. How are you getting your garden ready for spring? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Effective Scheduling – Making the Best Use of Your Time

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

The most valuable commodity known to man is the most finite: time. In our mile-a-minute lifestyles, it seems we never have enough time to get done all we need to, let alone the things we want to do. But if we learned to budget our time more efficiently, I believe we’d all be pleasantly surprised by what we could actually fit into a day.

The key to making the best use of your time is in your scheduling habits. There are tons of tools available to help you keep track of what you need to do, but even the best scheduling tool ever invented has absolutely no value if you aren’t going to use it consistently. For some people, the easy integration and ubiquitous nature of Google makes their online calendar tool the go-to choice, while others still prefer the feel of pen on paper. Whatever your preference, find a tool that is right for you, that will allow you to manage your schedule in a detailed daily and weekly view, as well as a longer-term overview of monthly and yearly pages.

Once you have selected your scheduling tool of choice, be it an app or a trusty day planner, follow these tips to sensible scheduling:

Make a list of everything you need to accomplish each day, week and month. Note how long you need to devote to this task and then log it on your calendar. (You might find it helpful to use different colored pens to differentiate between personal tasks, client work, etc., and most online tools allow for color-coding of events, as well.) Consider not only how long each project will take you, but how much time you can realistically devote to it in one sitting. You may be spot on in estimating that a job will take about 12 hours to complete, but will those 12 hours take place over three days or three weeks? Be honest with yourself and plot those 12 hours out logically on your calendar.

Prioritize. Populate your calendar first with the non-negotiable items: work deliverables, staff meetings and anything else you need to do to maintain your job, your relationships and your sanity. Start with your high-priority tasks and recurring deadlines, then move on to the items with more flexibility like your next haircut or painting your bedroom. When all of these To Dos are written on your schedule, you’ll have a clearer view of how to fit in your less pressing, but still important goals… like that novel you’ve been meaning to get around to writing. Yes, that goes on the calendar too!

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the time you have. It may make sense that you could accomplish five hours of work in a five-hour timespan, but it doesn’t really happen that way, does it? Studies show that our brains can only stay focused on one task for about 45-90 minutes at a stretch. For maximum productivity, be sure to factor in 15 minutes every so often to stretch, grab a snack, or return an email or two. That means a five-hour job will actually require six hours or more to complete, so plan accordingly and write it down.

Remember, you cannot manage your time unless you know where you’re spending it. Try out a tool like Harvest or Freshbooks to track your activity while you work. After a week or so, you can look back and see where you might find more time in your day.

Put it ALL on there – even if it’s just for YOU! Don’t forget to book time even for your most regular activities like working out, doing housework or buying groceries. By writing these items down, you are giving yourself a clearer view of the true scope of the responsibilities you must consider when you are trying to “make time” for something new. Putting your personal care on your calendar is also a way to remember that you are a priority in your life… as you should be.

Put every project on a timeline. “Timeline” sounds less threatening than “deadline,” but essentially, by selecting an endpoint by which you intend to have each goal completed, you are more likely to actually achieve it. Work backwards from your target date and you can easily figure out when you need to get started if you want to finish on schedule.

Leave it loose. Allowing time to deal with unexpected occurrences like a traffic jam or a crashed Internet connection will minimize your stress. It also helps to not become overextended by accepting every social invitation you receive. Skipping even the fun commitments once in a while gives you a chance to recharge your battery, and you’ll be more likely to stay on schedule in the days to come.

Don’t Give Up! As with all organizing tasks, maintaining order requires that you stick to it. If you find you’re not using your chosen scheduling tool, assess why it doesn’t work for you and then try a new one.

What have you found is the biggest obstacle to staying on schedule and how have you overcome it? Please share your favorite scheduling tools and tips or your time management woes in the comments below.

Time Management For Couples

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

The idea of “finding time” is a silly one, don’t you think? There are only 24 hours in a day and no matter where you look you won’t find any more, so if something is a priority then you have to make the time for it, by clearing your schedule of other less essential obligations.

But making time for each other is increasingly difficult for modern couples. Our over-filled calendars and mounting responsibilities have us feeling that any time we’re not working, if we’re under the same roof as our loved one, then we’re “spending time together”… right? Wrong. It takes a little more effort than that. So, whether or not you’re a fan of Valentine’s Day, you can use it as a reminder to carve out some quality time with your main squeeze. Here’s how:

1. Love always… but do it on schedule. It may not seem romantic, but carving out time for one another is actually a very loving gesture. Planning ahead will mean you’re less likely to miss out on couple time because work ran late or the other obligations that did make it on to your calendar ended up taking precedence. Block out some time – and book it! – not just for Valentine’s day, but every week or two thereafter. Seeing that date on your calendar will not only give you something fun to look forward to, the anticipation will help you feel more connected.

2. Get in line. Aligning your schedules at home isn’t always possible, but the intimacy it cultivates is worth the effort. Making an effort to go to bed at the same time so you have the chance for some pillow talk (or something… ), or creating a daily ritual like having your morning coffee together will help bond you to your partner. Take a look at your schedules and see where you can make them line up every day.

3. Find something you both like doing and commit to it… together. Shared activities are a great way to keep things exciting between you and your honey, so make a commitment to something you both enjoy. Whether it’s just for fun, like a playing or watching sports together, or it gives back to your community, like a volunteering at a local charity, doing something positive together on a regular basis requires planning. Remember, in any relationship, compromise is key, but don’t agree to an activity that makes you miserable, as this will only lead to tension and resentment. Find something you both enjoy and get it on your calendar.

Keep the lines of communication – and all your possibilities – open, by apprising your partner of any changes to your schedule. If you know what the other person is up to, not only does it makes it easier to manage your time together, it also makes it possible to be spontaneous. Make your relationship a priority and give it the space on your calendar it deserves.

Help our readers have a happy Valentine’s Day by sharing one ritual that you and your love make time for together.

Hiding Money at Home Can Bring A Wealth of Woes

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Recently I was interviewed by MSNBC for an article, “Money Hiders Risk A Wealth of Woes, Feelings of economic insecurity can lead to cash stashing“.

Most people have some cash available at home. However, I have found clients do not always take appropriate steps in securing their cash. As quoted in the article by MSNBC, I said.

“I’ve found money taped to the back of headboards, in clothes pockets, under loose floorboards, in fake books, and in shoe boxes,” says Scott Roewer, a certified professional organizer from Washington, D.C., who also does estate sales. “It’s amazing what people come up with to hide their money.”

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of a Tel Aviv woman who purchased a new mattress for her elderly mother and tossed out her lumpy mattress. What she didn’t know is her mother had stored her 1 million dollar life’s savings in the mattress, now buried at the dump.

I work with individuals of all ages, and find that all age-groups hide money. I typically urge my clients with cash or other valuables lying around their house to either deposit the cash in the bank, put the valuables or cash in a fireproof safe, and to tell someone where they’re hidden the items, even if they do it via a note in their will.

“I advise against hoarding cash,” he says. “I’ve seen instances of fire, robbery and accidental death where clients had money hidden but nobody knew and it was gone forever.”

Do you stash money at home or have any interesting stories to share about hoarding cash? What steps have you put in place so your money is not lost, forgotten about, or lost? You can read the entire MSNBC article here.

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.

The Container Store & Real Simple Want You to be Organized!

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Now is your chance to win an organized home!

It’s simple, “Real Simple” in fact! Enter every day between now and June 15th, 2009 to win the sweepstakes sponsored by Real Simple and The Container Store. The grand price is $3,000.00 worth of cool organizing swag along with the help of a “Real Simple” professional organizer to do the work for you.

We’ll, it’s not me helping you organize your home, but it’s a heck of a deal! Why not enter and win?

Professional Organizers Recognized For Excellence in Los Angeles

Thursday, February 19th, 2009
January was a busy month.  I spent time traveling to California to work with my clients who live there.   While in California, I had the opportunity to visit Los Angeles.  The National Association of Professional Organizers, Los Angeles Chapter on January 30, 2009 hosted the 4th Annual Los Angeles Organizing Awards.  This red-carpet event was held at the beautiful Luxe Hotel off Sunset Boulevard in Bel Air, CA and sponsored by Office Depot.
Best described by NAPO-LAThe Awards recognizes the best in the professional organizing industry. Professional organizers who set the standard for home and business productivity will be acknowledged for their accomplishments, along with those products and services that help consumers and businesses organize anything and everything.”
I had a great trip to LA for the Awards.  During the day, I had the opportunity to lunch with the Northeast Organizing Diva, Krista Colvin who was a finalist for Best Organizing Blog, Organizing in Style.  That evening, once everyone was dressed to the nines, everyone had their red-carpet moment.  After having my photo taken, I enjoyed cocktails with NAPO-NY’s Past President Janine Sarna Jones, Organizing Expert and Life Coach on “Dr. Phil Show” Dorothy Breininger, David Bertnick, President of The International Association for Private Service Professional and NAPO‘s President, Standolyn Robertson.
TV Personality and Stand-up Comedian Hal Sparks was the emcee.  He kicked off the evening by ‘losing’ his jokes.  After emptying each suit pocket, he found the jokes stored in a plastic baggie, appropriately labeled ‘Jokes’.  Each joke was numbered and organized.  Hal has worked with a Professional Organizer in the past, so he created the perfect spoof to kick-off the Awards Ceremony.  Hal was a great hit and a wonderful addition to the evening.

Other celebrities in attendance Sam Saboura, Jodie Watson, Gia Russo of Real Simple, Real Life, and Brady Bunch childhood celebrity, Christopher Knight aka Peter Brady now of Green Plug.

Congrats to each individual and company for their recognition.  For a complete list of those nominated visit the official nominee list on the NAPO-LA Organizing Awards website.  Below is a complete list of the award winners.  Please check out their websites and products – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
And the winners are:
Best Organizing Product Retailer
Best Closet Design Firm
California Closets
Best Garage Design Firm
The Green Award for Most Eco-Friendly Organizing Service
No Wire Hangers
The Green Award for Most Eco-Friendly Organizing Product
Bamboo Laptop Stand from KangaRoom Storage
Best Office Organizing Product
Shelf Conversions by ShelfGenie
Best Home Organizing Product
Shelf Conversions by ShelfGenie
Most Helpful Organizing Technology
Microsoft Outlook
Best National Organizing Television Show
Real Simple. Real Life.
Best Publication Featuring Organizational Information
Real Simple Magazine
Best Organizing Website or Blog
Most Valuable Educational Resource
At the Awards ceremony hosted by the NAPO-LA Chapter, individual members of their Chapter and LA-based organizations were recognized for their achievements in their profession, their volunteerism, and service to the professional organizing industry.
Best Organizer as Coach or Mentor
Jean Furuya, The Office Jeanie
Most Innovative Organizer
John Trosko, OrganizingLA
Most Supportive or Organizer-Friendly Charity
National Council of Jewish Women
Volunteer of the Year Award
Heidi Chianta, Your Project Manager
The Leading Edge Award
John Trosko, OrganizingLA
The Office Depot Special Recognition Award
Stephen Covey

Free Electronics Recycling in Montgomery County

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

I often find dead electronic laying around the homes of my clients.  You can’t donate them, you don’t want to fill the landfills, so you need to recycle the electronics, right?  According to the site, Earth911, ‘e-waste is growing at three times the rate of other municipal waste and e-waste may be responsible for as much as 70% of the heavy metals in landfills, including 40 % of all lead.’  That’s insane, people!

There is a free electronics recycling event on December 14th in Bethesda, Maryland.  Now is your chance to make a difference.

The event is from 12 PM – 4 PM at Walt Whitman High School.  I recommend you get there early. Accepted items include:

Calculators Small Appliances
Camcorders Fax Machines
CDs & Floppy disks PDAs
CD Players Microwave Ovens
Cell Phones Printers
Computers & Computer-Related Products Projection Equipment
Consumer Electronics Scanners
Copiers Telephones
Cords, Cables & Chargers Small Toys
Digital Cameras Televisions (limit 3)
Electronic Typewriters VCRs (not the tapes)

If you can’t make it on December 14th, the Shady Grove Transfer Station has electronics recycling every day for Montgomery County residents!  No need to wait for those special monthly collection events.   There is a limit of three TV’s per drop off.

Shady Grove Solid Waste Transfer Station
16101 Frederick Rd
Derwood, MD 20855

* Please use the Car Entrance to the facility.
* Open daily 9:00 AM. to 5 PM (Sunday – Saturday)
* Household Hazardous Waste can only be received during these hours — please do not drop off this
material at other times.
* These hours are only for Montgomery County residents – sorry business owners.

Free Shredding in Montgomery County – Again!

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Identity theft is one of America’s fastest growing crimes. Shredding your personal papers is one of the best ways to protect yourself.

NBC4, PNC Bank and Shred-It have once again, teamed up to bring you the next NBC4 Safe & Secure Community Shred event. You can bring up to five boxes of your personal papers and they will shred them for FREE!

You must drive up (not walk) with materials to be shredded. No business or commercial material will be accepted! Only 5 boxes of papers maximum per car!

Date: Sept. 27, 2008
Time: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Please note, cars must be in line by 11 a.m.!

Location: Prince George’s County Community College, Lot B

  • Beltway exit 17A to Rte. 202. From Rte. 202 make right onto Campus Way. From Campus Way make left onto Prince Place to access road to Lot B.
  • Central Avenue to exit 15 to Rte 202. From Rte 202 make right onto Campus Way. From Campus Way make left onto Prince Place to access road to Lot
  • Rte. 50 to Landover Exit Rte 202. From Rte 202 make right onto Campus Way. From Campus Way make left onto Prince Place to access road to Lot B.

The entrance into the Center City Parking lot will flow:

  • Curb lane south on 9th Street
  • Right onto curb lane on H Street
  • Staying on the curb lane making a right onto 11th Street
  • And into the parking lot

You can take the following items for destruction:

  • All types of paper (staples and papers clips are OK)
  • Empty binders
  • Unwanted/expired credit cards
  • Computer disks (may be shredded off-site)

As a victim of ID Theft, I encourage you to pay attention to your personal information.  Especially in your online action.  The majority of ID Theft happens when you enter information online in a spoofed website or click a link that’s phishing for information.

  • Shred confidential information, such as bills and anything with account numbers
  • Order a credit report each year from
  • Don’t use your SSN on your drivers license or checks.  Keep the card at home in a safe place
  • Empty your mailbox daily.  If away on vacation, have a neighbor pick up your mail or stop delivery online by visiting the USPS website
  • Only carry the credit cards you need
  • Consider signing credit cards “Ask for ID” instead of your signature

Stop Junk Mail, I Dare You!

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Junk mail is a huge waste of time. Don’t you agree? Unwanted mail is often what I see cluttering clients’ counter tops, entryway tables, home offices, and the never ending ‘in box.’

I dare you to follow these steps. I dare you to take a step forward by stopping unwanted mail. Do you accept this dare? If so, here’s how!

Step One

Stop unwanted junk mail by registering

with the Direct Marketing Association’s Preference Service.  Click on “remove my name from those lists.” You have to select each company individually, which can take some time, but in the long run it’s worth the extra effort. A credit card is necessary to confirm your identity, but there will not be a charge.

Step Two

Take a stand to reduce local junk mail through these resources.

  • Valassis Marketing – Call 888-241-6760 between 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM EST or complete this online form
  • VAL-PAK Coupons – You need to have a current pack envelope when you remove your name. Complete this online form
  • Call Carol Wright – 800-67-TARGET to get off that list

Step Three

Remove your phone number from the lists those

pesky telemarketers use by completing the Do Not Call Registry online. This list was previously only good for five years, but in February 2008 a new law made it permanent.

Tip to Share with Friends

If you move, do not fill in the USPS change of address cards. I’ve heard over the years that the address changes are sold to companies.  I reviewed the privacy statement and the 62 FAQ’s on the USPS website, but didn’t find anything for or against this belief.  I believe it is true, so stay away!   If it is true, you’ll be right back where you started.

Step Four

Cease bank and credit card offers by contacting the appropriate bank.  Banks and credit providers offer the opportunity to opt out of marketing efforts.  Some banks require a form, others require only a phone call.  Here are a few popular banks in the DC area:

  • Wachovia’s Online Form
  • Bank of America’s Online Form
  • Citibank – Call 888-214-0017 and tell them you’d like to update your privacy choices.
  • Chevy Chase Bank – Call 301-987-BANK or 1-800-987-BANK to update your privacy choices.

Step Five

Fellow organizer Ramona Creel offers additional tips on stopping junk mail in this post.  If you aren’t satisfied with the suggestions above, she offers some unorthodox approaches.

We’re passionate about stopping junk mail.  Be sure to subscribe to our blog by RSS Feed or via email (see upper left corner to enter email address).  We’ll be sharing more helpful information in the near future focusing on companies who will help you get rid of junk mail.

Do you have any other tips for our readers?  Please leave a comment with you ideas.