April 16th, 2013
We are down in New Orleans at the National Association of Professional Organizers 25th Annual Conference. I am presenting on Friday. The topic “All Things Google: Tools to Organize Your Clients and Organizing Business with my co-presenter, Josh Zerkel. I am a Google lover and will soon be starting a regular post on “Using Google to be More Productive” so stay tuned.
On my flight to New Orleans, I read the infamous “SkyMall” magazine. It is always chockful of organizing items. Some practical… others impractical. I came across the Joseph Joseph Chopping Boards. They are today’s “Use it or Lose It?”
We have seen many cutting boards that are color coded to avoid cross contamination. We also know that many times in kitchens cutting boards don’t have a real “home”. This set comes in two colors – silver or dark gray and two sizes – small and large. They stack within their case so they are vertical taking up less space in your cabinets or countertop.
Joseph Joseph Index Advance Chopping Board Set – $67.95 (large)
- Chopping board categorization system with four colored boards
- Color coding system: red for raw meat, blue for seafood, green for veggies and white for cooked foods
- Illustrated tabs provide at-a-glance reminder; contemporary ABS storage case with a non-slip base
- Boards are made from polypropylene; convenient, non-slip feet on both sides of each board
- Dishwasher safe
The chopping boards get “filed” when they are not in use.
What do you think? Would you use it or should we lose it? Leave a comment below.
April 2nd, 2013
We are starting a regular post called “Use It or Lose It”. We will feature an organizing or productivity product we find and ask you “Use It or Lose It?” Would you use it or should we lose it and move on?
The CB2 Chalkboard Storage Line. The items are made from wood composite. They are a painted chalkboard surface and include one piece of white chalk. They wipe clean with a soft dry cloth.
File Box = $39.95
Pen Cup = $4.50
Magazine Holder = $19.95
What do you think? Would you use it or should we lose it? Leave a comment below.
March 15th, 2013
It is that time of the year again… Spring ahead, lose an hour of sleep, warmer temps, more hours of daylight and time to change over your closets.
Change over your closets? Change it to what or change it to where?
Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? The what??? Pareto Principle? Wait… Don’t go anywhere. You have heard of it but maybe not by that name. It is better known as the 80 – 20 Rule. Oh yeah, the 80 – 20 rule. I won’t bore you with the details about Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population but rather tell you how it relates to our closets.
As a rule, we wear 20% of the items/outfits in our closets and drawers 80% of the time.
We often stuff our closets with items we rarely or never wear and certainly wouldn’t miss. We stuff so much in our closets that can’t find things we are looking for when we need them and sometimes we forget what we own so we end up of multiples of similar items.
Many folks have two distinct wardrobes (depending on the climate where they live). A summer wardrobe and a winter wardrobe. So how do you separate them?
Some have the space to keep two closets and switchout the items in the dressing area depending on season. Others have two sections of their closet and do the switcheroo with the current season in the most accessible section of their closet.
So as the seasons change from Winter to Spring, it is time for the big Switcheroo.
Here are three suggestions for making a successful and productive Switcheroo.
1. Ask yourself as you take each item from your closet,
- Do I still like this?
- Is it in style?
- Does it fit?
- Is it clean?
- Is it in need of repair?
2. If it is a keeper, proceed to the next item. If it is in need of repair, set it aside to mend or take to a tailor or seamstress. If it is dirty, toss it in the wash.
3. If you no longer like it, it is out of style or it no longer fits, grab a bag & pen & paper. Write down a brief description of the item and it’s condition. Then toss the item in the bag for donation. When you have finished, drop the bags at your preferred charity. Next year when it comes time for taxes, you won’t be standing there with a handful of donations slip with a puzzled look on your face trying to recall what you donated and it’s value based on the item and it’s condition.
Repeat the same process for each item that comes out for the past season before adding it to your closet. Your future self will thank you when it is time get dressed each day and you feel like you are shopping in store where you like everything, it is clean and it fits, and also when it comes time for taxes next year.
Good luck and feel free to add your suggestions below. Also, what is the oddest thing you found in your closet when doing the switcheroo?
September 28th, 2012
Over the past two weeks, I got involved in a social media conversation about organizing your groceries. I think most would agree that organizing your groceries as you put them away makes a lot of sense but how do you feel about organizing groceries while still at the store?
I believe the conversation first started by this card Geralin Thomas posted on Facebook. The Facebook post garnered 155 Likes, 49 Comments and 41 Shares. It also created a multi-day dialogue on Twitter. Comments included everything from cashier insensitivity to “my cashiers rock!” to “I go to self-checkout for this exact reason.” There were many (including myself) that as this “card” states, place our items on the conveyor belt exactly as we would like them bagged.
In Montgomery County, MD (my home county) and in neighboring Washington, DC, we are charged a fee for not using our own bags. Not only do I bring my own bags, I am a fan of Tote Buddy. Tote Buddy neatly holds piles of reusable bags, helping you declutter and stay organized for every shopping trip. My conveyor belt organization, grocery list and coupon organization along with my Tote Buddy, bag organization has caused some cashiers to stop and take pause in amazement. To the point that, they have asked me for information on how to purchase a Tote Buddy.
Maybe it is just the cashiers at my local Harris Teeter but I find that when the cashier is observant and sees the effort you have put in to organizing your purchases, they try bag it accordingly. My items are placed on the conveyor belt based on where they go once they are brought in to the house. All of the cosmetics that go to the bedrooms in one bag, all of the laundry and cleaning supplies that stay in the basement in another bag, dry food stuffs in another and the normal refrigerated and freezer in another. I kinda thought that this was normal but this conversation has told me that apparently it is not.
I have read comments that some go as far as freezer goods go in one color bag, dry goods in another color, produce in another. Do you organize your groceries while still at the store? How far do you go? I’d love to hear your comments below.
March 26th, 2012
Last week, I attended the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Annual Conference. Over 850 organizers gathered at the Hilton Baltimore in Baltimore Maryland. There was an Expo Hall with over 58 exhibitors, 3 key note speakers, 30 break out session options. It was a very busy four days. In addition to sharing my feelings on Twitter as @PutItAway, I also Tweeted the conference as @NAPONatl. As always, conference was an amazing experience. I was able to learn, network, hang with old friends, make new friends, meet friends who I knew only from social media, be inspired and inspire others.
Over the next few days, I will share my experiences from the 2012 NAPO Conference. I will share tips from the sessions I attended, reviews of products exhibited, lessons learned from others and pictures of some of the fun.
Great conference tote bag from tote bag sponsor Tote Buddy!
March 12th, 2012
Ok, who has completed their taxes and now has lots of papers to shred? Well folks in Montgomery County listen up, you are in luck!
NBC Washington & PNC Bank are at it again. They have announced their next wildly popular Community Shred. The spring Community Shred takes place on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at Montgomery College Rockville Campus.
Here are the details… The event takes place from 8am – 11am. Cars must be in line by 11am or they will be turned away. So come early. You may bring up to (5) five boxes of personal papers for shredding (no CDs or credit cards). Shredding is the best way to recycle (friendly for the environment) your personal papers and is the best way to protect your identity.
Photo courtesy of NBC Washington’s website
To keep this event safe and secure for everyone, please DO NOT BRING these items: batteries, flammables, combustibles, electronic equipment (hard drives), media materials (DVDs, CDs, Tapes), binders, hanging files. If you have all of these types of good things to recycle, fear not. The Montgomery County Transfer Station recycles almost everything and anything AND is only 2.2 miles from the Montgomery College Campus. Guide to friendly recycling in Montgomery County. Now that is what I call safe and environmentally friendly spring cleaning!
March 24, 2012
8am – 11am (cars must be in line by 11am)
Montgomery College Rockville Campus
51 Mannakee Street, Rockville, MD 20850
April 12th, 2011
So I’ve shared the four basic steps to organizing almost anything
In this plan, we are aiming for organized and good enough. We are not talking about buying any supplies (other than a trash bag, a recycle bin and a shopping bag to hold donations). In this project we are not running out and buying label makers and pretty bins. We are aiming for better and good enough, increased function not perfection.
Let’s attack the easiest one. It always helps to start off with something easy to get you rolling.
I doesn’t matter what you are organizing you need to start with a clean slate. Let’s say your organizing a drawer…. find an EMPTY spot on the floor, a countertop, a desk and remove all of the contents of the drawer. All of them, no really everything. If you find any obvious trash, go ahead and toss it. You can do a general sort now grouping similar item but don’t worry we will handle sorting in detail in step 2. If you are using the floor to EMPTY the drawer, you may want to lay down a piece of cardboard, a trash bag or newspaper first especially if you are EMPTYing a desk drawer. Desk drawers are prone to having leaky pens and we don’t want to get ink on your hardwoods or carpets. Remember to only EMPTY one drawer. We will go through all 4 steps with each drawer before EMPTYing the next drawer.
EMPTYing is the same if it’s a closet. Pick a section, a wall, the floor, just shoes or belts. EMPTY everything out of that section. That is it. Told you this step was easy.
Stay tuned for step 2 – SORT. That is where the real fun begins!
April 7th, 2011
Have you ever wondered “what is a professional organizer’s secret to getting organized?” Well, I’ll tell you … for free. These 4 steps apply to both getting an organized home and an organized office. They will help you reduce clutter and simplify your life.
Growing up we are all taught our ABC’s but how many of us our taught how to organize things? We are taught some of the principles but rarely taught how to apply them in real life. Remember those shape sorter toys we all had as children? How about the memory game? Did you ever play Go Fish?
All of these ‘games’ taught the principles of matching like items. How is it that we lost this ability as we became adults? Did we really lose it or just forget or become lazy? It seems like the only time matching like items is highlight for adults is during challenges on Survivor. Matching like items is a primary foundation of organization.
Below of the four primary principles in organizing almost anything. They apply to closets, paper, drawers, toys, garages, attics, dishes, you name it. They are very general but they are a starting point. Over the next few posts, we will break down the four principles to help you get an even clearer start on the organizational process.
September 24th, 2010
Top 3 Trends in Past 3 Years (Part 1 of 3)
I believe there have been three major trends in the past three years that has changed the way we do things. I will be sharing my insights over the next three weeks. I’d love to hear your input and experiences.
1. Reliance on Tech
We now live in a world where we constantly rely on technology to get us through each day. If you are not a mobile phone user (do they still exist), you still rely on technology when you go to a restaurant, the post office, the bank.
We have all likely been to a restaurant that uses technology – a form of a pager to notify you when your table is ready. Some restaurants take orders on a handheld device that automatically transmits the order to the bar or kitchen. You can even place a take-out or delivery order from home without picking up the phone.
You can make calls without picking up the receiver or handset. You can write checks, pay bills or transfer money via a mobile phone or notebook computer without getting in the car or spending money on a stamp. While the security of doing any of these still has some vulnerabilities for the most part they are secure. Some folks still fear banking online, even if you avoid it, the banks stores your information online. Security online is one part of the equation, backing up the data is the second.
When I work with clients, sometimes they ask to go paperless and store everything on their computer. I ask about their back-up plan. Nine times out of 10 they have none or they can’t remember the last time they backed up, if ever. When I ask why not, they either don’t know how or it’s too difficult or too hard to remember. There are many options for traditional back-up. Many folks purchase an external hard drive. I have one. While they are a great option, there are some downfalls.
1. Your computer must be connected to the external hard drive for your back-up to be completed.
2. You must create a schedule to back-up.
3. They can get lost or stop working making it difficult or impossible to retrieve the data. (this happened to me, the drive stopped working and I did not know until I went to look for something on the back-up drive).
I still use an external hard drive to back up but I also use one of the the web-based options as well. The two big ones are Carbonite and Mozy. Both offer a free month. Following you free month, their fees vary based on the size of the files being backed-up. An additional option is Dropbox. Dropbox is an online back-up and collaboration tool. I prefer Dropbox over Carbonite or Mozy. I like that you can access it from any online device (mobile phone, pda, iPad, iTouch, notebook or desktop computer). There is an app for the iPhone/iPad/iTouch and Android phones. From any of the devices you can access anything in your Dropbox as long as you have internet access. The Dropbox folder does reside on your computer. As you create or edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, audio, video or pictures Dropbox saves a copy on to your computer and updates your Dropbox account. It also allows you to share files and collaborate with other users. You can configure your computer to save all files to your Dropbox folder. The free account includes up to 2GB file storage. You can grow your storage for free by referring friends, family and colleagues to Dropbox. They reward both the referrer and referee with an additional 250MB of storage. You can continue to refer until you reach 32 accepted referrals or 8GB of addtional storage space. You may not think that is very much space but you’d be surprised. Take a look at the drive where you store your documents. I am a heavy user. My Documents folder currently uses 4.38GB of space. It includes documents, spreadsheets, presentations and pictures.
Why do I love Dropbox? Because it is mindless. I don’t have to do anything. I work on a document or download pics from my camera as long as I am connected to the web … voila after a few seconds, it is saved on my notebook and it is updated on Dropbox. I don’t have to schedule anything. If thinks for me. I love that it is intuitive and costs me nothing (at this time). If my storage needs grow faster than my free Dropbox grows, the cost of purchasing Dropbox storage space is very reasonable (All three online back-up systems mentioned do offer a discount if you pre-pay for a year vs. month to month fees). I love that my documents folder looks identical regardless if I am looking at it on my computer, notebook, smart phone or a computer of a friend or at a hotel when I am traveling. I don’t know how it could get any easier. I only recommend it because I use it and find it is the best product available that meets my needs. Feel free to check out Dropbox and get a free 250 KB of storage space. I’d love to hear your feedback. How do you protect and back-up your information?
Are you reliant on technology? Share with us how technology shapes your life and has changed the way you operate on a day to day basis.
Stay tuned for #2 and #3!
April 28th, 2010
April 22, 2010
My friend and fellow Certified Professional Organizer®, Deb Lee wrote a great post about how the 2010 National Association of Professional Organizers Conference Goes Green & High Tech.
Can you imagine a conference of all Professional Organizers? You can bet that we are studying each others organizational processes and techniques. Looking at who brought Sharpies®, highlighters, paper clips and mini-stapler. Who is taking notes in a binder, on a laptop/netbook, an iPod, and who grabs the hotel notepad laying on the table. Who is using the conference bag and who brought their specialized/personalized conference tote.
If you enjoy teasing me for my anal retentiveness, you will particularly enjoy Deb’s post. It’s ok, I enjoy laughing at myself too.
BTW- I even brought a 6 foot extension cord with three 3-prong outlets. And yes, I have already used it twice & it took up virtually no space in my bag.
Enjoy! Thanks Deb for including me in your post.