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  • 12/01/2017 12:20 PM | Anonymous


    By Amy Rehkemper, CPO

    Simplify Organizing, LLC

    “I need help!” said an exasperated working mother of four, “This week, I’ve tripped over a box in my storage room, forgot an appointment, and lost my d%#* keys!” After years of being chronically late and disorganized, this frustrating week was the last straw. Fed up, she decided to call a professional to get her home and life organized. 

    Frustration can be a great motivator. Sometimes it takes literally falling over the clutter to realize that it’s time to clean-up life a bit. I like to think of these experiences as “failing forward.” I’ve done it countless times. Mess up enough and that foul-up becomes the very catalyst you needed to take action and figure out a better way. 

    Motivation is a powerful tool to use for anything requiring action, but my purpose in this month's blog is to help you find the motivation to GET ORGANIZED! 

    Do you cringe at the thought of tackling that cluttered spare bedroom

    Do you hate the mundane process of uploading photos from your phone every month? 

    How about that pile of dirty clothes screaming to be washed?

    Do you dread the unopened mail begging to be purged, paid or filed?

    (This list could go on and on…right?!)

    You understand the importance of these household chores, but you still avoid them, procrastinate, get a root canal-- anything to delay addressing the clutter.

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed, even paralyzed by disorganization, then it's time to tap into the power of motivation! Here are five techniques the team at SIMPLIFY ORGANIZING, LLC has found successful:


    LITTLE BY LITTLE- If you walk into a cluttered room and feel hopeless, you’re not alone. The room didn’t become cluttered overnight and it won’t get cleaned up that quickly either. Break up large decluttering and organizing goals into easy bite-sized tasks. Create a task so small that motivation is not even required! 

    Instead of saying, “I’m going to organize my entire basement storage room this morning,” focus on only the holiday decorations that are stored in that room and break that category down even further by starting with recycling torn or crinkled gift bags and wrapping paper you won’t use. Then, move on to purging seasonal wreaths that no longer look fresh. Once you’ve sorted, purged, and containerized the decorations category, then move on to the camping equipment. Don’t look at it as needing to organize the space as a whole (wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling in one fell swoop). Break it up and tackle it little by little. 

    The Japanese philosophy kaizen means “continuous improvement” and encourages taking the smallest steps possible. Steps are to be made so small that they result in zero intimidation, zero stress, like “open the drawer,” or “recycle one newspaper.” Few would object to completing such miniscule actions. Through this perspective, one overwhelming goal is actually 50 super easy tasks! As long as you are taking steps to continuously improve your home – no matter how small a change might be – it is progress… and progress fuels motivation.


    LET’S GET VISUAL, VISUAL- Beautiful spaces can motivate you to get and stay organized. Sure, I believe function should precede form, but good room design, attractive furniture, or even cute matching containers can be just the motivator you need to keep a space looking good. Nobody is driven to keep clutter off a stained and tattered rug. However, if you switch it with a gorgeous rug, I bet you'll be more inclined to keep it free of mess.

    Flip through home magazines, or search for "organized spaces" on Pinterest, and you are sure to find a ton of rooms that call out to you. When you're stuck on what to do with an area of your home, this is a great way to find motivation and inspiration. Here are some of our favorite online sources to check out: IHeart OrganizingIKEAHOUZZ, and


    TURN NEGATIVITY ON ITS HEAD- Does your mother-in-law come by dropping "helpful" comments about the benefits of a tidy home? Does your spouse complain that the house is an embarrassing mess? Does your neighbor hint that your porch is in need of a clean-up? 

    Instead of feeling defeated and that you're somehow not up to snuff... take those negative comments and turn them into positive action. Show the world and yourself what you're capable of and let those words be the reality check needed to motivate you. So, instead of getting bent out of shape, take the hint, and improve your situation. If you cannot make positive changes on your own, bring in a friend, or a professional organizer to get the job done. 

    “Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.” 

    --James Cook



    People are like teabags… you don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water!  

    Some people will not act until they are about to get in trouble. Time ticking toward trouble is an excellent motivator. Remember in college when you were given two weeks to write a paper, yet you weren't motivated to start until two days before it was due? Some of you may even be in the two-hours-before-it’s-due camp!

    One of my clients (who I'll call Jane) is a collector and enjoys a great abundance of possessions. For years Jane refused to downsize her belongings. She had so many collections that she couldn't even locate most of them, but when she learned that she was facing eviction, suddenly she found the motivation to reduce the excess.  

    I’m not suggesting that you set yourself up to be evicted, but I encourage you to think of a way to purposely put yourself in hot water!  My favorite of these "teabag tricks" is to schedule a regular party at your home (maybe it's a monthly book club, or a dinner date with neighbors). You'll find that it forces you to make the place welcoming and organized. I admit that hosting my Company’s Team Meetings at my home every month has been a great source of motivation for me to stay on top of household clutter! (Yes, Professional Organizers have bouts of clutter build-up too.)

    Avoiding embarrassment is a great motivator. Remember that spare bedroom that's bursting at the seams? Just invite an out-of-town friend to stay with you for a weekend. You'll surprise yourself with the sudden ability to create a guest room fit for Martha Stewart!


    DO IT NOW- The voice in your head needs to hush-up! The one that’s saying: "I'll get to that when I have more time... more money... more space... more information." It's also saying: "I'll do that when everything is better... easier... happier." Frankly, it might even be saying "Well, I can't start without finding motivation!" HAH!

    Don't listen. That voice is self-defeating. Don't wait for the perfect scenario. It rarely comes. Sometimes the hardest part is to start! So start wherever you are and with whatever you have. Just start.  Do as much as you can with what resources you have. The positive motion from just getting started will open the floodgates to possibility.  

    Which of those five techniques could work for you? When and how will you employ them? As this year comes to a close, it's important to reflect upon and appreciate the successes you've made - even the small ones. December is a time when we begin to look ahead to a new year, seek a fresh start, and an opportunity to better ourselves. I encourage you to start implementing a few of these powerful motivation techniques, and no procrastinating! Don't wait for January to take positive action. Find your motivation and resolve to get organized…TODAY!

    About Simplify Organizing, LLC

    Since 1999, Simplify Organizing, LLC has been organizing everything under the residential roof from attics to basements and all rooms in between. That includes time, paper, photos, and even your next move! Owner Amy Rehkemper was one of the first Certified Professional Organizers in the U.S. and has been featured on HGTV. The company is based in Towson, Maryland and has been twice-voted Best of Baltimore. To learn more, please visit


    Amy Rehkemper, CPO®

    Simplify Organizing, LLC

    P.O. Box 42523, Baltimore, MD 21284

    (410) 370-4109 

  • 11/01/2017 10:40 PM | Anonymous


    That's the only word that comes to mind right now as I sit looking out of my open office window. Birds are chirping. Leaves are changing and dropping. Neighbors head in and out. Dogs are being walked. Seems like I've 'got it all' working from home while my child is in a good pre-school and my team and business are thriving. Yet only 2 months ago, we were technically homeless.

    I usually write about fun / new organizing tips, trends, and case studies for our audience. This fall I'm looking at things through a different lens; a more self-aware and personal one. And I feel it's important to let our readership and broader public understand that professional organizers are human too.

    Often we are called upon to help, assist, guide, 'fix', and empower our clients through our work. We are sometimes put up on a pedestal and regarded as perfectionists, anal, type-A - usually in a good way :)  Folks who don't know us really well usually drop comments like:

    "Your home must be sooo organized."

    "I'd never let you come in my house."

    "You can NEVER see my office."

    "You must have it so together all the time!"

    Well guess what? We're human too. I'm going to repeat that a few times. It's hashtag worthy. Back to my little story...

    I moved my family in late February of this year. 3 months after we moved into a newly flipped property, a pipe burst in the finished basement, resulting in the pulling back of carpet and some baseboards, etc. As layers of floor and wall were pulled back, we found mold. A LOT of various species of mold. Floor to ceiling throughout the perimeter of the home in fact, due to wet paneling having been covered over / hidden by new studs and drywall.



    We also had a gas leak that couldn't be located and other issues that surfaced quickly once serious inspections were done. I won't dredge out all of the details but the end game was this. The home was deemed uninhabitable within 10 days of that pipe bursting. We were displaced and had enough time to pack some suitcases and laundry baskets. A dear friend took us in for the first week and another dear friend (with 3 small kids of her own) took us in for another 4 weeks while I frantically looked for a temporary place for my family to live. So no, we weren't on the streets or anything, but if I had not had these dear friends (who happened to live in close proximity to jobs and school), we very likely could have been in a shelter.

    'Finding another place to live' wasn't so easy. After all, it took us 8 months to find that little perfect flip in a good school district, in a town that everyone sweats. Not to mention, we had just dumped our life savings into that house. So by all accounts of the term, we were suddenly very house-poor. Left with a property that we could not live in, could not afford to fix, and could not sell or rent. So what do you do? Well, the saga is long from over but I digress.

    As soon as I found a great little rental and jumped on it, the first task at hand was to call in the big dogs for help. I was tired. Physically and emotional wrung out. For almost 2 months, I had been dealing with sellers, nosy neighbors, realtors, attorneys, banks, contractors, the fire department, BGE, inspectors, apartment haggling, coughs and colds, AND downsizing AGAIN ... All while trying to get my child to school every day (as normal) and continue to run my business. While at night, (all in one room) I'd stay awake to my snoring husband, my toddler, the cat (and his litter box), and my own stress and anxieties. I needed help. Real, dependable, fast and furious help.

    I happen to belong to the Baltimore Chapter of NAPO (the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals). My chapter is full of people who are technically my competitors, but who are nothing less than phenomenal colleagues, true professionals, and caring friends. In the space of 3 days, these heroines arrived in droves, packed us up in the condemned house and unpacked us on the other side.  And the service providers that were necessary to make everything happen also were colleagues of mine through our chapter. They answered my call for help within 24 hours. So special shout-outs to The Flood Department and MyWay Mobile Storage.

    The moral of this tale is not about sympathy or sadness or pity. It is not to compare our hardship to anyone else, for better or worse. I just felt it was time to offer the thanks to those who need to know (good month for that :)  AND to remind all of us that it is not only right and good to ask for help, it is also necessary. Having been in this industry for 8 years now, I truly wish our clients would be more able to let go of some of the shame, guilt, anxiety, and negative self-talk that comes along with disorganization. It can happen to any of us, at any time, for many different reasons.

    Productivity Consultants and Professional Organizers are ONLY in this business to HELP people. You call a doctor when you have major pain. You call the fire department when your house is on fire. You call a therapist when you need mental unblocking and more. We are simply one more armed professional with a fabulous tool kit at your disposal.

    I am openly and sincerely grateful for my circles who pulled us through this. As I have mainly been the one who others turn to for help, it is most difficult for me to let down my guard and finally ask for and receive help. And I'm so glad that I finally did.

    Thank you NAPO Baltimore. Thank you to my own team members at Charm City Organizers. Thank you to my friends and family that helped get us through this.  #organizersarehumantoo #NAPOBaltimore #askforhelp


    Submitted by NAPO Chapter Member:

    Mary Cate Claudias, CPO®

    Founder / CEO of Charm City Organizers

  • 03/20/2017 8:22 PM | Deleted user

    Happy Spring!  It's time to come out of hibernation, and here's hoping the weather will cooperate!  This time of year is the perfect time to get out and assess what all has been happening around the house after the winter.  So with that being said, here's a checklist to help you get started as the days start to get longer and the weather makes you want to spend more time outside.

    1. Go for a walk.  
    2. Sit outside and listen to the birds.
    3. See what plants are coming up for the season.

    Not the type of list you were expecting?  Okay, once you complete everything on the list above, come back and read on.  Here are some things to check around the house once you've stopped to smell the daffodils.

    Exterior trim.  Throughout the winter, the paint on your home's trim can chip, leaving the wood susceptible to water and pests.  Check the trim all around doors and windows, give it a fresh coat of paint and make repairs as needed.

    Air conditioning.  Now is a great time to change the filter if needed, and schedule some routine maintenance for the exterior unit.  A technician can clean the unit and check the connections to ensure everything is ready to go for the summer.

    Pests.  It's no secret that animals and insects seek shelter for the winter.  You'll want to find out if they settled unknowingly in your home.  Check attics, crawlspaces, garages, and basements for any signs of animals or insects.  Addressing any entry points now, could prevent them from revisiting in the fall!

    Spring cleaning.  It's an age old pastime for good reason.  It's a great time of year between needing the heat on and needing the AC on, so open up those windows and get to dusting!  It's also a great idea to air out the home before the pollen comes out and allergy sufferers need to close up the windows again!

    Organizing.  Yard sales will start popping up as spring ushers in sunny Saturday mornings.  Go through closets, garages, the kids toys, and clothes to weed out anything that no longer fits, works, or is useful.  Start compiling boxes to take to donate, consign, or post online for sale.  Not sure where to start?  Give us a call to get motivated, and lighten the weight of stuff in your home!

  • 01/15/2017 10:37 AM | Kathrin Shenk

     “Are you sure, honey?” he asked, excitedly. “I totally am, yes!” she replied. “The kids are long gone, and this house is too big for us anyway. If we sell now we can make enough money to finally get that dream home on the water we’ve been talking about for years!”

    Meet Norma and Gregory. They are finally able to realize their dream of moving from the big 4,000 sf home they raised their family in to a waterfront cottage with boat slip. How awesome is that! There is only one problem – the home they have their heart set on is tiny. 1,000 sf of space. That’s it. “It’ll work out somehow.” Gregory says. “I’m sure the kids want a bunch of our stuff. And the cottage has a big basement. And, we can always just rent a storage space if we have to.”

    The Realtor comes and assigns homework: Too much stuff everywhere! 25 years’ worth of family possessions on shelves and in drawers, cabinets, boxes and bins. Baby clothes. Kids’ toys. Teenager paraphernalia. Sports equipment. Garden tools. Place settings for twelve. The house looks much smaller than its 4,000 sf! And, who wants to buy a cluttered house? It looks like it wasn’t taken care of. The stuff has to go! And fast!

    So, Norma and Gregory call the kids and ask them to come get what they want. Daughter Ashley picks out a little Japanese tea set. Son Jason wants his grandpa’s fountain pen. Ouch. Not much progress.

    The Realtor recommends hiring a Professional Organizer to help lighten their load. Norma and Gregory are not convinced. “What? Pay someone to help us get rid of stuff? No way! We can do that ourselves!”

    Norma and Gregory venture down into the basement to start decluttering. 20 minutes into it Gregory trips over an errant Christmas garland and needs to go ice his ankle. Meanwhile, Norma finds an old family photo album and starts leafing through it. Oh the good times they had. This downsizing business is just too hard. She puts the album back and joins Gregory on the couch.

    A few weeks later the house is halfway organized, but Norma and Gregory couldn’t bear to part with much of anything. So, boxes, bins and furniture are piled in the basement and in the garage. The Realtor is concerned. Prime listing time has passed, and prospective buyers can’t appreciate the fully finished basement and the spacious garage, because they can’t see them!

    A young couple finally puts a bid on the house. It’s much less than what Norma and Gregory could have realized during prime time, and the still somewhat cluttered house didn’t show that well. But they are ready to move. They sell, albeit at a lower price, and put the money down for the dream waterfront cottage.

    The moving company comes by for an estimate. “It’ll be $3,000 to move everything to the new place. Are you sure it will all fit?” “It won’t.” Gregory says. We only have about one quarter of the space. “You will have to downsize, and fast.” the mover says. “I know a good Professional Organizer who can help.”  “Oh no, we will do that ourselves, no worries!” Norma rolls her eyes. By now she’s ready for help. But Gregory isn’t. He’s a man on a mission. Craigslist! Ebay! He’s going to sell their stuff and make some money!

    Alas, strangers are no more receptive than Norma and Gregory’s children. By the time the movers come only a few odds and ends have been sold. $3,000 later Norma and Gregory’s stuff suffocates their new home. Instead of being ecstatic, Norma and Gregory are stressed. “It’s like living in a storage shed! We can barely move around in here!”

    They decide to rent space at a storage facility. It costs about $1,500 a year, but what choice do they have? Several weeks and many trips later Norma and Gregory finally have cleared out their new home enough to actually begin unpacking boxes and moving in.

    Norma’s friend stops by for a visit. “I know a Professional Organizer who can help you get out of those boxes and start enjoying your home!” the friend says. “Oh no!” Gregory starts. “We can…” Norma cuts him off. “What’s her phone number?” “What??” “You know Gregory, I can’t help but wonder if we wouldn’t have saved ourselves a lot of time, money and headache if we had gotten expert assistance at the get-go. I mean, look, if we had decluttered and gotten rid of stuff right away, like the realtor said, we might have listed earlier, the house may have looked bigger, and buyers may have been able to appreciate it more. We might have made more money! Also, we wouldn’t have had to pay to move all this stuff we can’t really use, and we wouldn’t be paying to store it now. And, I’m too exhausted to even think about where to put all the things in the boxes that are still here.”

    The Professional Organizer arrives the following week. She works with Norma and Gregory to find the best place to store their belongings in the new home, working through box after box and putting things away. She helps the couple let go of items that no longer serve them, and takes all donations away to charity to be enjoyed by others. The more they work, the lighter Norma and Gregory feel. They can finally enjoy their new dream waterfront home, unencumbered by all the baggage from the past.

    Postscript: After Norma and Gregory had spent $2,000 in storage fees they hired the Professional Organizer to help them clear out the space and decide on the essentials they wanted to keep. After they were done they felt like they pulled up anchor and could finally sail away into their new, much lighter life!


  • 11/27/2016 6:17 PM | Deleted user

    The countdown to Christmas begins and now is the time to be making preparations for all of the upcoming holiday season activities. There are so many tasks you can do ahead of time to make the holiday season a little less stressful, so get organized now so that you can enjoy the holiday season later.


    Here are 10 tips and reminders to help you to have an organized holiday:

    1. Write down everything that needs to be done during the holiday season. A holiday checklist will help to keep you on track.

    2. Prepare for out of town guests who are coming to visit.  Is the guest room ready, or do you have a pull-out bed they can use? Do you have enough linens?

    3. Purchase, write and send your holiday cards early to get them out of the way.

    4. Finish your holiday shopping early, so that you can focus on enjoying the season with family and friends.

    5. If you have holiday parties to attend, or you’re planning to host a holiday party, check to see if you have an outfit to wear before shopping for something new. 
    6. Before you buy any new holiday décor, check your current stock of holiday décor or Christmas decorations. Purge anything that’s broken and replace only what’s necessary. The more decorations you have, the more you need to find space for.

    7. Make a few one-pot meals or casseroles. Freeze them to serve on busy weeknight evenings in December.

    8. If you like to buy gifts for the teachers, postman, etc., remember to include them on your holiday shopping list, so that you can plan your time and stay within your budget.

    9. If you’re planning to entertain and have a lot of odd jobs to do around the house before the event, plan to do something every day, or hire someone to help you.

    10. Don’t be afraid to say no to requests that you feel will be too stressful or time consuming for you. It’s ok to occasionally have some unscheduled “me-time”.


    By planning your holiday season now, you can avoid the rush, frustration and last minute panic later

  • 09/25/2016 7:38 PM | Deleted user

    In just a moment, I am going to ask you to close your eyes.  During the time, I would like you to imagine that you could be anywhere.  Any place you would like, you could be there. Imagine everything about that place.  What does it look like, feel like, smell like sound like? How do you feel in that place? Go ahead now and close your eyes and imagine.   When you have a full picture, open them back up and keep reading.

    Your space is critical to mental health and learning.  There are organizing systems that you can put into place that are ‘brain friendly’ that will support mental health and learning.  You can put supports in place to create an environment of success.

    While you were imagining just moments ago, what came to mind?  How is that space different or similar to the place where you currently are?  Which environment feels better?  In which do you think you would be more successful or learn more readily?

    What we know is that a cluttered space is not conducive to well being.  Although, clutter and creativity have been linked anecdotally, the reality is that chaos does not leave room for creativity.  The truth is that organization and the space that it provides does allow you to be more creative even if you need help creating this space for yourself.

    In almost every class I have taught for the last twelve years I have asked this question, “How does clutter make you feel?” and I have received variations on the same handful of words every single time.  Those feelings are: stressed, late, overwhelmed, guilty, inadequate, depressed, distracted, forgetful, lonely, worried, and isolated.  Clutter also creates conflicts within relationships and causes people to feel like they cannot have anyone over.  None of these feelings are positive and none lead to learning or success.

    You are beginning to see why your space is critical to mental health and learning.  When facing mental health challenges there are three ways you can affect change and these are typically used in combination.  They are: medication, therapy and adapting your environment.   As an organizer, my focus is on adapting the environment.

    From the time a person is born until about twenty-five years old, the brain progresses and develops.  In a typically developing brain the pre-frontal cortex, which controls executive functions (organization, time management, goal setting, working memory, future planning, etc), builds and adds to these functions over the course of those twenty-five years.  If there are any brain challenges that development can be extended to thirty-years.  Many conditions can affect this development and the executive functions including:  ADHD, age/developmental age, depression, diet, sleep, exercise, traumatic brain injury, time of day and stress/overuse. Problems with executive functioning are not problems with skill but with implementing that skill at the right time.

    When adapting an environment for better mental health and learning, what I am really looking at is making changes that will support your brain’s executive functions.  Remember executive functions are the part of the brain that controls: inhibition, time management, organization, problem solving, motivation, goal setting, working memory and emotional regulation.   What environment will support the use of executive functions? What works is an environment that is:

    • Simple
    • Quiet and non-distracting
    • Has natural elements
    • Allows for movement
    • Limits decision making and
    • Provides for outsourced executive functions

    In addition, you can further help to create this environment and add structure by using these supports:

    • Positive attitude
    • Focusing on your strengths
    • Creating habits
    • Using timers, lists and other tools
    • Making accommodations for sensitivities and areas of weakness
    • Using sleep, diet and exercise to raise the bar of health and brain function

    Albert Einstein said both, “ The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” And, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”  I don’t think these quotes are in contradiction.  It is the distraction and clutter in all forms that prevents a healthy environment.  You are not to seek emptiness, but instead simplicity, quiet and open space that will allow your brain to flow.

    Your environment is critical to mental well-being and learning and could be the block that is preventing health.  You can create an environment that is brain friendly by simplifying and removing the clutter.  There are supports you can put into place that will help you implement your organized environment.

  • 06/01/2016 9:06 AM | Deleted user

    Perhaps the most widely accepted and most effective time management philosophy is that of Stephen Covey (author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People & co-author of First Things First). It’s definitely not a ‘quick fix’; but as they say, ‘Anything worth having, is worth working for’.

    The basic outline of the Covey approach takes 6 steps.

    1.      Identify what gives you purpose in life. Consider which basic principles (e.g. integrity, honesty, modesty, etc.) are most important to your values & goals.

    2.      Ask yourself, ‘Who do I interact with?’ All of us wear many hats within the 3 general areas of personal, communal & work roles. For example, in the personal area there is self; family roles - parent/ spouse/ sibling/ child, & friendships we may have.

    3.      Ask yourself, ‘What can I do to increase the impact of my interactions?’ Weigh the roles that you play in your heart & mind to assess which roles are most important to you. Then think of something you can do to improve your effectiveness within that role. Tip: number your roles in order of the importance you feel for it.

    4.      Schedule time in your week for Step 3 actions. Make sure to balance your personal, communal & work roles in determining what actions to take. Allow the roles that can most improve your quality of life to have first pick of available times.

    5.      Be flexible. When urgent things come up, reschedule.

    6.      Evaluate - pat yourself on the back. Look back on your week & acknowledge what goals you achieved. Think about what challenges you encountered that made it difficult (or impossible!) to keep to your goals. Imagine how you can factor them in for the next week. Most importantly, when something came up, did you make decisions that were in line with your principles & values?

    One of the most important things to remember in this process is that it doesn’t pay to do it superficially. Without accessing the true desires of our minds & hearts, we’ll just be running after superficially satisfying things, which won’t sustain us in the long run.

    In First Things First Covey & Merrill explain that we first need to acknowledge that the 4 basic capacities of man: Physical, Social, Mental & Purpose are interrelated & that each needs ‘nourishment’. Then we need to use our 4 basic endowments: Self-awareness, Conscience, Independent Will & Imagination to fuel our capacities.

    We need to be able to examine ourselves. Set goals in harmony with basic principles. Will ourselves to act accordingly and consistently, & use our imagination to creatively work around / through our challenges. Working on this system will be challenging & slow, but Covey guarantees that you will see encouraging payoffs quickly.

    If you like the taste of this method that I’ve presented here, make sure to check out the full, original version in the aforementioned books. You can always ask family, friends or professionals for support.

    Submitted by NAPO Member and professional organizer,

    Shmuel Edelman

  • 05/06/2016 5:46 AM | Deleted user

    We’ve all seen the stories in the news of tragic and sudden accidents that halt the life of a mother or father in their prime. No-one hopes to go this way, but knowing that loved ones left behind aren’t scrambling to figure out where your important documents are, while going through the grieving process, can give you peace of mind.



    Even if your papers are organized and makes sense to you, if something were to happen to you, would your loved ones be able to easily find your insurance policy, will, financial information and pertinent passwords?


    Organizing your important papers now will help family members find the information they need to handle your affairs, while going through the grieving process.  At the very least, have a list of all of your important household information, including a note of where your important documents are located.  


    In any event, keeping an updated list of your personal and household information is a good habit to have in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.


    Are you ready to get started, but not sure where to start?  The best case scenario would be to have a spreadsheet with a list of all important information, including where to find certain documents, e.g. file, safe, safety deposit box. This spreadsheet would be printed and given to a trusted family member and/or lawyer, with a copy at home in a safe place. If your list includes personal details, SSNs, bank account info, it’s recommended that the list is stored in a fire and waterproof safe, ideally with a copy on a flash drive and/or secure online back-up service.


    To get you started, here’s a checklist of common important documents and information:

    •        Will and Power of Attorney
    •        Final arrangement wishes
    •        Life insurance
    •        Advance Directive
    •        Monthly bills and contact info.
    •        Bank and savings accounts
    •        Retirement accounts
    •        Loans, including mortgage information and deeds
    •        Passwords and logins
    •        Location of vital records, e.g. birth and marriage certificates, etc.
    •        Valuables
    •        Other policies, e.g. car, home.
    •        Off-site storage unit info, if applicable
    •        Medical information; including doctors, medications, allergies, etc.
    •        Safety deposit box contents and location

    This list is not conclusive. Everyone’s situation will be different, so take the time to think about what other information you could include and schedule some time to get started.


  • 01/09/2016 10:49 AM | Deleted user

    It’s the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and we all love Christmas! But when it’s time to take down the decorations, it can all become a bit overwhelming and challenging.  Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get your Christmas & Holiday gear organized and tucked away until next year!


    If you don’t have these already, invest in these supplies that will make organizing and storing your decorations much easier. 

    • Start with some large plastic tote boxes. These are great for holding all sizes and kinds of decorations. If some of your decorations already have smaller boxes, store these together in larger labeled boxes that are waterproof and can be easily stacked.
    • Purchase a few wreath boxes - these are great for storing both indoor and outdoor wreaths and garlands. As long as the lights are working there is no need to remove the light strands on your garlands - just store them with the lights on them.
    • Ornament boxes are the best way to store most of your ornaments. I like this kind (instead of those that are just one large box with several levels) because they are clear and you can access each level separately, which is handy.
    • Don’t forget to have bubble wrap and tissue paper on hand for wrapping and protecting your fragile decorations.


    1. ENLIST HELP: Unless you live alone, everyone in your home enjoyed your holiday decorations, so invite everyone to help take them down and put them away. If you have children, don't miss this opportunity to teach them a great life lesson - the joy of making a home for things so that you can put them away and find them again when you need them.  Check out my blog on Kids and Chores to learn more about age-appropriate ways to give your children responsibilities around the house! 

    2. TAKE A FEW PICTURES: Before you take anything down, if you were happy with the way things looked this year take a few photos so that next year decorating will be easier and you won’t need to try and remember exactly how and where you set everything up. If you are feeling super organized you can print the photos and put them in the storage containers, all ready for next Christmas - or save them in a “Christmas Decorations” folder in your digital photo program and make a mental note that they are there for next year. 

    3. KEEP LIGHTS UNTANGLED: These reels are awesome for storing your lights, or these cord wind-ups are handy to wrap your lights around if you want to use your large tubs instead. Make sure to throw away or fix any light strands that aren’t working before you store them away for next year. 

    4. WORK ROOM BY ROOM: As you take your decorations down store each area or room in a separate container (i.e. put decorations from the mantle in their own storage container and label it, everything in the dining room, etc.). This makes it easier next year when you are decorating because you can put each box in the appropriate room to unload it. 

    5. TOSS SMALL BOXES: Many small Christmas ornaments and decorations come in special boxes. Even though it is tempting to want to keep these for storage, sometimes it takes lots of time and energy to find each specific box. Try just wrapping the item in bubble wrap for protection and toss the box. If the item is larger and has a special box, sometimes it is worth using, but put these smaller items in larger tubs for easy storage and retrieval. 

    6. LABEL ALL STORAGE CONTAINERS: As you fill each tub, label each as Christmas, what room it belongs in, and the contents. This will make decorating next year much faster and easier!

    Clearly label your containers with contents and room where the decoration belongs.

    7. CLEAN CHRISTMAS LINENS: If you have Christmas linens, potholders, or dish towels, make sure to wash them before packing them up.

    8. RELEASE: As you put your decorations away, make sure to have a “DONATE” box nearby so that you can give away any decorations that you don’t love or use. Trash anything that is broken or is missing pieces. If you are packing up boxes that you used last year and you see that there are some decorations that you didn’t choose to use and are still in your storage boxes, consider simplifying and giving these away. You probably don't prefer them if you didn't choose to use them this year. Even if the item is sentimental, if you don't love it or use it, let it go. To read more about releasing sentimental things, check out this blog!

    9. CREATE A "CHRISTMAS DECORATION" STORAGE ZONE: Once you have cleaned out and packed away all of your decorations, store them all together in a closet, basement, attic, or storage room. Next year when Christmas rolls around, you will be all ready for stress-free decorating!

    10. BONUS TIP: As you put your decorations up next year, store your everyday home decor in the Christmas tub that corresponds to the room you are decorating (i.e. put whatever you normally have on your mantle in the “Christmas: Mantle” box when you take your holiday decorations out of the box.) They can stay in there during Christmas, and then when you are ready to put your decorations away you can put them back! 

  • 11/12/2015 8:18 PM | Deb Clark

    My mom says Thanksgiving dinner is the easiest meal of the year to prepare - she's done it so many times!  However, not all of us feel the same. If you are not jumping for joy at the thought of making the big meal, here are a few tips for getting things under control so you can enjoy the day.  Organization is the name of the game...

    10 days prior

    • Plan a menu and determine what can be make ahead of time.  Also, plan to delegate some of the menu and beverage items to guest.
    • Make sure you have a firm commitment from those who are attending and keep track of what they are bringing.
    • Make your shopping list – don’t forget to include film, batteries, beverages, and nonperishables.
    • Take an inventory of all items needed for your table. If you need more chairs or place settings, arrange this now.
    • Make sure you will have space in your refrigerator and freezer for the turkey.
    • Make a to-do list. This is a good time to delegate roles to family members or a hired professional.  Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect!
    • Look at your to-do list and schedule these items on your calendar.  It helps to plan what time you will start preparing dishes made the day of.

    One Week Before

    • If you will have young children visiting, make sure the breakable items are put away.
    • Shop for perishable items.
    • If you don’t have an ice maker, start making ice and fill a freezer bag with the cubes.

    Two Days Before

    • Fill your salt & pepper shakers, butter dishes, sugar bowls, etc.
    • Defrost in the refrigerator any frozen foods.
    • Make sure your home is clean.

    Day Before

    • Prepare the dishes you could not freeze.
    • Chill your beverages.
    • Buy flowers for the table.
    • Set the table now. To keep your dishes and glasses dust free, place them upside down.

    Thanksgiving Day

    • You should have time to finish last minute menu items – turkey and mashed potatoes (of course).
    • Most of all: enjoy yourself! Let someone else do the dishes and give thanks for all you have.
    • Happy Thanksgiving from Go To Girl!

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