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  • 08/07/2013 11:10 AM | Deleted user
    by NAPO-Baltimore Members

    NAPO-Baltimore just celebrated National Simplify Your Life Week by sharing very practical tips to live more simply. In case you missed any of them, we're happy to provide this recap plus some BONUS tips!

    Get Motivated:
    • Nettie Owens of Sappari Solutions says, "Organizing is more fun with a buddy. Grab a friend, turn on some music, and have fun!"
    • Nettie Owens of Sappari Solutions says, "Use music to get in the mood to organized. Create a short playlist and organize for just as long as the music is playing."
    Simplify Time Management & Activities:
    • Annie Powell of Charm City Organizers says, "If space allows, keep different bags pre-packed for different activities: a swim bag with goggles, towel, and sun glasses ready to go; a school bag with pencils, notebook, and textbook; an overnight bag with travel toiletries."
    • Carole McDade of Simplify Organizing says, "Trunk organizers are fine if you go in and out of your trunk a lot. Even better though - if you have small children who don't yet sit in the front seat, place an attractive box there and add things to read while waiting, library books to be returned, anything pertaining to car errands. It's convenient and serves as a reminder, too.
    • Holly Henson of Simplify Organizing says, "Simplify correspondence! In this age of digital communication and social networking, it's rare to receive a handwritten note or card in the mail, but our friends and loved-ones are so thankful whenever we manage to! While we all would like to send birthday cards on time, many of us can't. We forget, procrastinate, or don't get to the store/post office on time. Simplify this process by following 4 easy steps: STEP 1. Create a list of everyone who you wish to mail a card to throughout the year (include birth date, anniversary, etc.). STEP 2. Head to your favorite store and buy each of these cards in advance. STEP 3. Using a large shoebox, organize your year's worth of cards by month they are to be delivered (stand the cards vertically and separate with month dividers). STEP 4. Make sure your calendar is updated with all these special occasions so you are reminded when to take action."
    • Jacquie Ross of CastAway the Clutter says, "Simplify your life by turning off the noise: turn off text, email, Facebook, and Twitter notifications. Consider deleting or ignoring distracting social media apps on your phone, and instead, schedule time once or twice a day to read and reply to messages. You could free up an extra hour a day!"
    • Carole McDade of Simplify Organizing, LLC says, "If you have a paper calendar and a smallish family, assign one color to each family member and then use one of those four-colored pens to mark events and obligations. Simplifies your life - you can tell at a glance which person needs to be where. Keep these pens hanging from your family calendar and in your purse so you can add to your calendar and keep up the 'color code.' If you use Google calendar, sync the colors and give everyone access."
    • Mary Cate Claudias of Charm City Organizers says, "To feel more productive by the end of the day, make sure you have your to-do's in one place. Every few days or at least once a week, prioritize that list and coordinate with your calendar. You'll knock things off that list in no time."
    Simplify With Kids:
    • Cheryl Osterhouse of In Order for Life says, "Regardless of the age or grade of your student(s), they will come from the first day of school with forms to fill out, papers to sign, and classroom and teacher contact information for your records. Set aside time to finish these tasks. Set up a Quick Access File. Within this file, set up files for each of your children, where you file teacher information, class lists, etc."
    • Terry Cooch of TLC Home says, "Make the most of your family vacation. Bring photos, an album, and supplies for a rainy day activity. Bring the kids their own mini book to fill."
    • Cheryl Osterhouse of In Order for Life says, "Create a School Memory Box for each of your children. This can be as simple as setting up a file box or cardboard banker's box divided into 12 sections for each child. Then, keep a small box, which is easily accessible, and toss in all of your child's potential treasures... all of their sweet cards, artwork, pictures, awards, and brilliant writings. At the end of each season, or as the box fills up, sort through and save the best and most meaningful. Finally, file them away in their School Memory Box in the appropriate year. By the of high school, you'll have a wonderful handpicked history of your child's life and development."
    Simplify In Your Kitchen:
    • Amy Rehkemper of Simplify Organizing says, "Having planned dinners will mean no more stress surrounding what to eat when 5pm rolls around. Imagine, no more spoiled food, no last minute trips to the store for that missing ingredient, no longer having to resort to eating fast food because you couldn't deal with figuring out what to cook! To get started, select 20 of your favorite quick & healthy homemade meals (five for each of the four weeks in a month). The remaining two days of each week can either be for dining out, ordering in, or leftovers. Next, list every ingredient needed for each week until you have 4 different weekly shopping lists. Yes, this will take some time initially, but for years following you will thank yourself! With a Rotating Meal Schedule, you can finally take advantage of the time when your family comes together to enjoy each other's company. Plus, you can feel comforted that you are supplying yourself and your family with a wide variety of foods that are home-cooked, in-season, delicious, and nutritious!"
    Simplify In Your Closet & Pantry:
    • Annie Powell of Charm City Organizers says, "Only purchase one brand of white socks. This way there's no matching to do after laundry - any two can make a pair. This same strategy can also be applied to dress socks, and can be used for each member of the family."
    • Susan von Suhrke of Timely Transitions says, "Forget those bulky chip clips for sealing snack bags. Buy a box of good old binder clips and then think 'outside the box.' A binder clip can hold the bottom of the rolled up toothpaste tube in place, provide a handle for hanging your kids' artwork, hold a network of aluminum mini-loaf pans together as drawer organizers, or keep your Triscuits from going stale. Small enough to fit inside the outer box for your snacks, you need only roll down the top and fasten with a binder clip to keep excess air from sucking the flavor out of your crackers. And lest we forget, they work well for binding papers together, too!"
    • Jill Prevatt of Arrange Professional Organizing says, "To minimize morning chaos, plan your outfit the night before - iron if necessary, choose accessories and shoes. As thoughts turn back-to-school, get your kids in on it, too! One less thing to think about on a busy school morning."
    • Terry Cooch of TLC Home says, "When unpacking from your vacation this summer, take notice of your dirty laundry. This is what you wore while vacationing. Simplify next year's packing by writing and keeping a list of everything you wore. If you don't want to wear the same clothes, list types and quantities."
    Simplify Your Stuff:
    • Jill Prevatt of Arrange Professional Organizing says, "Familiarize yourself with the concept of 'enough' and don't go looking for something to need. Once you've embraced this concept, you'll have less clutter and less distractions in your life."
    • Mary Cate Claudias of Charm City Organizers says, "Before running out and buying a new container or organizing product, take inventory and measurements! Group like items and weigh out size, shape, and style to find the right product(s) for your project."
    • Deb Clark of Go To Girl Organizing Solutions says, "Ziploc bags are a favorite organizing tool for me. From sandwich to jumbo to XXL, I have found they are great for people who need to see the items they are sorting, but need to have those items sorted and containerized for maximum efficiency. Recently, I purchased Ziploc Space Bags and find they are more reliable than other brands - they actually work! One of the goals I set for clients is to minimize the number of 'steps' required to reach and use any item that is stored. Visibility is key - when you can see what you need, it eliminates the step of finding the storage area. With the Ziploc bag, access is easy and so is system upkeep. Ziplocs are not fancy but work in a wide variety of situations - they are a must-have in the go-to bag of tricks that I take to all consultations and organizing sessions."
    • Nadine Sachs of Organized2Succeed says, "Reduce the amount of cd's and dvd's in your home and make a few extra dollars! Go to and see how easy it is to open an account. All you have to do is enter the item's barcode to find out if MusicMagpie will accept the dvd or cd and to see how much they will pay you. You then download a pre-printed shipping label, mail the box of cd's and dvd's, and wait for your check!"
    • Nettie Owens of Sappari Solutions says, "When you have less, you have less to handle, organize, and spend time and money on. Make a commitment to reduce your things by 20%. For example, for every 8 books you choose to keep, let go of 2."
    Simplify Your Desk/Office, Mail & Paper Flow:
    • Cheryl Osterhouse of In Order for Life says, "Remove anything from your office space that doesn't serve a purpose. Less really is more. It eliminates mind clutter that allows distractions. Implement the One In/One Out rule, limiting your supplies to the storage space you have.
    • Annie Powell of Charm City Organizers says, "Get the Paperkarma app (it's free!). Using the camera feature on your smartphone, it unsubscribes you from junk mail. Woo hoo!"
    • Cindy Bernstein of Aim 4 Order says, "Open your mail each day beside a recycling container and a shredder. It's a quick easy way to prevent piles of unwanted mail."
    • Cheryl Osterhouse of In Order for Life says, "Make 'you' the center of your office. Create a circle around yourself using an L-shaped desk. This allows everything to be at arm's length and eliminates excessive searching and getting up and down. Items to place in your circle include a printer and paper, telephone, computer, a few pens and pencils in a holder, scissors, garbage can, recycle bin, shredder, planner, etc."

    © 2013 NAPO Baltimore. All Rights Reserved.

  • 06/26/2013 4:51 PM | Anonymous

    by Terry Cooch of TLC Home, LLC


    Is your home bursting at the seams? Are you dreaming about your dream kitchen? Do you wish your house had a master suite? Renovating your home can be a satisfying way to improve your quality of life. As your renovation’s project manager, the key to success is good planning. Here’s how to make sure you’re up to the challenge.

    Know What You Want. Create a wish list. Begin by writing down everything you want to achieve with your new space.

    • Make note of your physical wants: “I want more closet space” “I want more Natural light.” “I want a reading nook.” Add to this list as ideas develop.
    • List your emotional wants: “I want the space to feel cheerful.” “I want to inspire creativity.” “I want to encourage togetherness.” “I want a calming place.”
    • Collect ideas: Start a folder of magazine pictures, sketches, samples and brochures. Keep designs that you love or would like to copy. Keep a camera and tape measure with you at all times. Walk through show rooms and model homes and takes lots of pictures. Record anything that will help you communicate your ideas to a designer or contractor.

    Determine A Realistic Budget. (aka: the Las Vegas Scenario)

    Pretend you’re going to Las Vegas. You have a dollar amount you’re planning on spending, but then there’s the “I-can’t-bear-the-temptation” amount. There’s also the OMG (“Oh my God! What have I done!?”) amount.

    Examine this scenario when planning your budget. The temptation to do more that you planned is immense. There are some beautiful and expensive things out there. Know yourself and what you can afford, and plan accordingly.

    If your wants exceed your budget, talk to your contractor about other ways to reduce costs. You may be willing to give up recessed lighting in order to have hardwood floors, or there might be a great look-a-like that satisfies. Consider Do-It-Yourself options when planning both budget and contracting.

    If You Pay Peanuts, You Get Monkeys. Shop diligently for contractors or designers. The cheapest price is tempting, but it’s not worth the savings if the project is done poorly or left unfinished.

    Do your homework. Ask friends and family for referrals and be certain they were happy with their results. Internet searches can provide plenty of business names, if necessary, but be sure to interviews potential contractors and request a list of past customers.

    Call those people and verify their satisfactions. And make sure that whatever company you hire is insured and properly licensed by the state of Maryland. To check on a contractor’s license, visit the website of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation at and go to the “License Search” page.

    Understand The Process. Know what to expect before construction begins. Ask your contractor for a complete explanation of starting time, daily and weekly goals, and how set backs are handled.

    Reduce surprises and disappointments by requesting a thorough timetable that includes subcontractor information. For instance, first to arrive is the tear out guy, then the framer, the electrician, then the plumber, etc.

    Also, learn the best way to communicate with your contractor. Is he quick to answer calls or texts, or does he prefer email at the end of the day? Avoid frustration by knowing his typical time frame for replies.

    Schedule The Project Accordingly.  Once you have an understanding of what to expect, it’s important to plan the construction work around your family’s calendar and life. When possible, select a time that will keep stress to a minimum.

    • Will it be easier to renovate during the school year or will the disruption affect the kid’s success in school and other activities?
    • Will the change in routine interfere with your ability to get your children where they need to be?
    • The less demanding months of summer could be a good time for construction if your kids have a pool, camp or friends’ houses to go to. Or will the added noise be too much for everyone?
    • Do you want to avoid having the work coincide with holidays and vacations? Consider your own work and volunteer schedule.
    • What time of the year can you most easily handle interruptions and added responsibilities?  

    Get Ready, Get Set… Get Organized Before You Hit Go.  Prepare your home for the disruptions. Your household can still run smoothly, if you make it a priority.

    • Set up staging areas where needed. If the enter/exit zone of your home will be inaccessible, create a new one. Relocate needed backpacks, coats and shoes. Keep your purse and other necessities in this new launching area.
    • If your kitchen will be unusable, salvage what you can of the old one and create a small work station in the family room.
    • If leisure or work areas will be disturbed, create a portable station that can be set up on the kitchen table and then quickly removed when it’s time to dine.

    Prepare Yourself. Acknowledge that, despite your great planning and hiring of the perfect contractor, the construction will be challenging.

    • Allow more time to do daily tasks and to get out the door in the morning.
    • Schedule a daily recovery time at the end of the day, making sure all temporary systems are in place for the next day.
    • Reduce your commitments, if possible, and eliminate all unnecessary appointments
    • Simplify meals and rely on carry-out a little more than usual.
    • Be ready for the phone to ring more and the unexpected to happen.
    • If possible, double your patience level with your spouse and children; remember that everything is harder for them too.
    • Here’s a tip: Reduce some stress by including in your budget the cost of extra meals out and a little pampering. You’ll deserve both.

    © 2013 Terry Cooch, TLC HOME LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Terry L. Cooch is a professional organizer, home stager, and owner of TLC Home LLC Professional Organizing Services.

  • 06/12/2013 12:04 PM | Anonymous

    by Cheryl Osterhouse of In Order for Life, LLC 

    Another school year is coming to a close. Another year of your child's masterpieces are piling up. Now is the time to create a very simple system to save their school work, art work, and accomplishments.

    This can be done in 5 simple steps:

    Step 1: Purchase a few simple supplies to create a School and Art Archive for each child

    • A plastic file box
    • 12-15 dividers (1 for each year of school + preschool)
    • A larger document or art box for those larger pieces of art

    Step 2: Create a simple label for each file box, using a permanent adhesive label - be creative.

    Step 3: Purchase or find a basket or bin, that you can keep in the hub of your home to gather their treasures

    • As your child brings home all of their potential treasures, their brilliant writings and artwork, their awards and accomplishments, and their sweet cards, toss them in the basket or bin.
    • Jot a quick note on the back with your child’s age and any details you may want to remember.

    Step 4: Decide What to Keep and What to let go of. At the end of the school year, or as the basket fills up, it’s time to sort through the pile, and decide what to keep and what to let go of. Save the best and the most meaningful of your child’s treasures. I know that letting go of any of your child’s treasures can be difficult. As you are making these decisions, consider the following questions for each piece of artwork, creative writing assignment, project, or greeting card.

    • Does this show my child’s personality?
    • Does this show my child’s passions?
    • Does this reflect a special relationship in my child’s life?

    Step 5: Transfer their treasures into the appropriate hanging file or art box.

    By the end of high school, you will have a handpicked, wonderful, history and reflection of your child’s life and development, to treasure and enjoy.

    Happy (and Organized!) Memories!

    © 2013 Cheryl Osterhouse, In Order For Life, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Cheryl Osterhouse is a Professional Organizer and Owner/President of In Order for Life, LLC. For 5 years, Cheryl has been bringing order and simplicity to individuals, families and home businesses, one home at a time.

  • 05/20/2013 9:09 PM | Anonymous

    by Ryan Sentz of BumbleJunk, LLC


    Spring has arrived, and it’s time to open all of those windows, let the fresh air in, and begin your spring cleaning!  I’m sure you have many things on your list for spring cleaning; cleaning the windows, de-cluttering and organizing, cleaning out the shed and garage, and the list goes on! Regardless of what is on your list, if you are like most people, one of the first things to do is to remove all of your accumulated junk.

    Instead of busting your back hauling all that junk away to the dump, consider hiring a full service junk removal company to come in and take care of all that back busting work for you! Keep in mind, that most credible companies also recycle or donate a certain percentage of the junk that they remove from client’s homes. Bumble Junk, a local junk removal company, has saved over 125,000 lbs from going to local landfills, over the past 16 months.

    When you are hiring a junk removal company, you will want to look for the following:

    1. You will be letting the company into your home, so you want to be sure that you hire a company that is clean and organized. They should show up on time, in a branded work truck, and wearing a company uniform.  
    2. Confirm that there are no hidden fees involved. 
    3. Work with a company that cares about you. They should be respectful of you, your home, and your property. 
    4. Make sure the company is eco-friendly. There are so many items that can be recycled and donated today that it makes no sense to toss them.  Here is a small statistic about fast-filling landfills.

    Landfill statistics show that in 1979, approximately 18,500 landfills were available to receive trash all across the United States. In 1990, just 11 years later, this number was drastically decreased by almost 60%. According to the landfill statistics given by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 1988 there were 7,924 landfills available in the US. In 2006, there were only 1,754 left. This continued decrease in available landfill space is relative to the amount of trash that has been increasing in great proportions (

    Take advantage of the many services offered by local companies to assist in accomplishing your goals of spring cleaning.  No matter what you’re looking for, whether it’s a plumber, a professional organizer, or a painter, the four things you should look for in a professional company will remain the same. Stick to them and you should have a great time getting your house in order and starting off spring on the right foot! 

    © 2013 Ryan Sentz, Bumble Junk. All Rights Reserved.

    Ryan Sentz, is a junk removal specialist with BumbleJunk LLC. BumbleJunk LLC is a residential and commercial junk removal company, boasting some of the largest trucks, cheapest prices and best service available.

  • 04/02/2013 9:01 AM | Anonymous

    by Nettie Owens of Sappari Solutions, LLC

    As an organizer, I am always encouraging my clients to streamline, purge, declutter and otherwise let go of the excess.  As Marla Cilley, The Fly Lady, says, “You cannot organize clutter.”  It is not that I am on a mission to help you get rid of your stuff; on the contrary, I want you to be surrounded by all that you love.  I want you to have time and space for that which brings you joy.

    In this process though, we get to a point where we have to let go.  It’s one thing to decide to let go and a whole different process to actually remove those items from your space.  You can get them out of your home or office and do so in an environmentally friendly way. 

    In a perfect world, corporations would be responsible for Cradle to Cradle Design.  They would have a plan to dispose of or reclaim the materials in their products such that none of it ends up in a landfill. Unfortunately, the responsibility currently falls on you, the consumer, to dispose of your unwanted items without trashing the earth.  If you know where to take things, it is possible to divert a large portion of your cast-offs away from the landfill.

    • Household goods – these should be in good or like new condition and include items like clothing, some furniture, small appliances, tools, etc.  Goodwill, Salvation Army, Purple Heart and many local charities will accept these items.
    • Scrap metal, computers, and appliances – in any condition.  These can be taken for metal recycling and you may even earn a small amount of cash back.  Try or look for ‘scrap metal recycling’ in your area.
    • Paper and cardboard – may be recycled curbside in many areas.  Look for community drop off locations, shredding days or stores like UPS that perform paper shredding on site.
    • Hearing aids, cell phones, jewelry and glasses – the Lions Club in your area may collect hearing aids, glasses  & books.  Try the library for books they will sell at fundraising events.  USPS collects cell phones as do some local charities.
    • Old linens and towels – are accepted at pet shelters and humane societies. 
    • Fluorescent bulbs & batteries may be collected at your Home Depot, Lowes and Ikea.
    • Prescription Medication – is accepted annually at National Take-Bake Day and at local pharmacies
    • TV’s – are accepted one per customer at Best Buy.

    Still not sure where to take your items?  Try to search for charitable locations that will take what you have. is another wonderful way to find new homes for what you have. also lists locations for recycling. Call your local junk hauler or professional organizer, as they will often have resources for finding where to take things.

    If you live in Harford County, Maryland, bring a carload of your unwanted items to on April 27, 11am-3pm at the Harford Community College.  You can let go of your unwanted items and support Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna for a cost of $5 per car.  Check the website for more details.

    Remember, it is not about getting rid of your stuff, but making room for what you love.  If you do part with things along the way, make sure you do so in a way that protects the environment.  Have a GREEN Earth Day!

    © 2013 Nettie Owens, Sappari Solutions. All Rights Reserved.

    Nettie Owens is a professional organizer and owner of Sappari Solutions serving Harford & Cecil Counties. Since 2004, Sappari Solutions has provided residential and small business clients organizational solutions that fit their lifestyle, budget and schedule. Sappari Solutions is highly committed to protecting the environment and to sustainable business practices.

  • 03/25/2013 8:57 AM | Anonymous

    by Terry Cooch of TLC Home, LLC

    Green is the new annoying…. I just got recycling down!

    Not only are we expected to care for our families, be loving spouses, work or volunteer, eat healthfully, exercise regularly, discover our spiritual path, attend girls night out and be knowledgeable in wine and food parings, we are to do all this while saving the planet. Something’s gotta give…we’re not superheroes.

    As an organizer, I’ve witnessed the negative effects of we-expect-too-much-of -ourselves syndrome. Being unrealistic about what we can accomplish can leave us in a state of inertia, where very little gets done, or anything done well. The consequences of which can be very unfriendly to the earth. Heightened concern over hurting the earth can have the opposite of its intended effect.  Unsure of how to dispose of items, some do nothing.

    Reality Green: The first step toward green living is to decide your role. Where does this fit in all of your other responsibilities and personal expectations? Do you have the time, space, resources to include every tip you’ve read into your schedule? Perhaps start simply.

    Green equals efficiency: The greenest you can be is to be as organized as you can be. There is no way around that.  An efficient household creates less waste. No last minute purchases needed. No duplications to add to the landfill one day. Organization will also give you the time to incorporate best practices into your schedule.

    Green Housing: Create homes for all things green. Think green systems. "Donate - Deliver", is a systems category. Just as you have a designated place for your trash and recycling, have an established home for the regular removal of giveaways. A tote bag in the hall closet works well.

    Granny was green: Make do, when possible. A lot of time can be spent discovering green products. Let the first question be: Can I do without? Living simply is the greenest of all. Learn to use a good sharp knife and you’ll need few other gadgets in your kitchen.

    Green Routine: Once a simplified, organized household is established, create a home maintenance routine which includes green education. While planning your week, add fifteen minutes of research time to discover best locations for deliverables and green stores or products. Green tip: save fuel by scheduling errands together and creating an efficient route.

    Google Green: Remember the store of information at your fingertips. The internet can provide you with information from where to donate your old VHS tapes to green projects to get involved in. Or check out Green Drinks Annapolis, and immerse yourself in a green lifestyle.

     “It’s not easy being green.” Kermit the Frog.

    Though Kermit’s woes came from his frog-ness, not his role in saving the planet, it’s a line worth stealing. Be mindful that green is another to-do you’ve added to your plate. Incorporating new living practices at a measured pace will produce long term results of both healthy earth and healthy self and family.

    © 2013 Terry Cooch, TLC HOME LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Terry L. Cooch is a professional organizer, home stager, and owner of TLC Home LLC Professional Organizing Services.

  • 03/21/2013 5:08 PM | Anonymous

    by Nadine Sachs of Organized2Succeed 

    Shopping for clothes should be an enjoyable experience. Rather than getting frustrated, I find myself avoiding stores that have their merchandise tightly crammed on their hanging racks, making it virtually impossible to move the hangers aside and see the item you may want to try on.

    Your closet should provide the same experience as entering a well-organized store. Clothing and accessories must be visible, accessible, and categorized by type and color. By taking an honest look at your clothes, and keeping only those items that you love, and that currently fit well, walking in to your closet will be a delight, and getting dressed in the morning will become something to look forward to!

    To create order in your closets, follow these simple steps:

    Suggested Supplies:

    • Pop Up Hamper lined with a sturdy trash bag for donations.
    • Portable Garment Rack to hold clothes as you sort through them.
    • Reroute Bin for items that need to leave your closet and find a home elsewhere.
    • Bins, Post It Notes and Markers to label and store items elsewhere.

    Step 1: Remove all Items from the Closet

    If you would like to do some spring-cleaning as you organize, you need to remove everything from the closet. Wipe down all of the shelves, poles and drawers, and vacuum the floor.

    Step 2: Purge

    As you remove the items from your closet, ask yourself these questions:

    • What have I not worn at all this past season?
    • What needs repair or does not fit well?
    • Am I going to wear items that are stained or are no longer in style?
    • Am I holding onto something purely for sentimental reasons?

    Use the portable garment rack and your bed to temporarily hold the clothes you are keeping in your closet. Fill the trash bags with donations. Items to be kept but stored elsewhere, should either be stored in another closet, in a bin under your bed, or possibly in the basement or attic. Be sure they are well labeled!

    If your keeping clothing items for sentimental reasons, remove them from your closet space. Take a photo of the sweater that your grandma lovingly made for you, and either let it go, or create space for it with your memorabilia.

    Step 3: Organize

    Categorize: Get as detailed as you want. For example, main categories could include: Evening Clothes, Work Clothes and Casual Clothes. Evening clothes, that are worn less often, should be stored further back on the clothing rack, in a less accessible area, and evening shoes should be stored higher up on shelves.

    Sub-Categorize: For example, shirts can be further categorized into sleeveless, short sleeve and long sleeve. Organize them even further by color. In the back corners, where the light may not be as good, hang lighter colors and keep the darker colors closer in view.

    Shelves vs. Drawers: Use shelves for t-shirts, sweatshirts, work out clothes and sweaters and use drawers to contain socks, underwear and lingerie. Bulky items tend to fill up a drawer very quickly and store much better on a shelf. Avoid high piles and use shelf dividers to prevent items from falling over. Expandable shelf dividers can be used in drawers to separate work out socks from dress socks. Store shoes on shelves, in over the door hanging shoe bags, or perhaps in an under the bed shoe storage container.

    Accessories: Belts, ties and scarves can be hung on hooks, or on one of the many products available, such as this scarf hanger. 

    Image courtesy of Clever Container

    Image courtesy of


    Step 4: Maintain

    Remember, that although there are many wonderful closet-organizing products on the market, they alone, will not create order in your closets. You have to work through all of the above steps to attain and maintain a closet that you love to spend time in! 

    © 2013 by Nadine Sachs, Organized2Succeed. All Rights Reserved.

    Nadine Sachs, owner of Organized2Succeed is a Professional Organizer and Custom Closet Designer. She is currently serving as Secretary of NAPO-Baltimore and enjoys helping her clients achieve and maintain a less stressful and simpler lifestyle. 

  • 03/04/2013 4:55 PM | Anonymous

    by Anne Powell of Charm City Organizers, LLC

    Baskets and Bins: Are they helping or hurting?

    I can’t help asking myself that question as I work in client homes. Many of us have the idea that if we couldjust buy the right kind of container, we would be organized. The good news is that organization doesn’t need to cost anything. The bad news is that it can’t just be picked up at the store.

    Part of the trouble is the sheer lure of baskets and bins - they come in so many cute and irresistible varieties! (And of course, if used correctly, they can be quite useful, as one part of a larger organizational system, and maintenance schedule).

    So what’s going on here? Why do so many homes have bins over-flowing with clutter?

    It’s all about placement:

    Right placement with specific purpose = success. 

    Meaning: if you use a bin to corral necessary items in their rightful place, the bin will serve you well.

    Example: a paperclip holder or pen cup on a desk

    Hectic placement with vague purpose = baskets full of clutter.

    Meaning: if you place bins around your home with the hope they will somehow, magically make you more organized, you’re in for some disappointment. They will become a catch-all for items that are not in their proper place.

    The classic example: A mom is frustrated that shoes keep getting left at the base of the stairs instead of being taken upstairs to her kids’ rooms. So, she buys baskets for these few pairs of misplaced shoes, thinking “at least now those few will be contained before they’re actually taken upstairs where they belong.” The next time she turns around, instead of just a few pairs of shoes lingering at the base of the steps, there are tons! The cute little bins are over-flowing! “What happened?” she asks her kids, who at this point get defensive because, from their point of view, they’re just putting shoes in bins.

    Does this sound familiar??

    Here’s what went wrong:

    A bin was created for shoes in a place where shoes do not belong. It became an undefined space without clear expectations. Was the basket a holding area for just one or two pairs? Or, is this storage for all of my shoes? A guideline needs to be set and a maintenance schedule put in place to make sure it’s upheld. The task of emptying the shoe bin each week, and putting them away in each room, could be added to the weekly chore list. 

    OR, you can go to the cause of the problem and look at why there’s a pile-up at all. Is there a way to store everyone’s shoes in a more convenient place that will get used correctly?

    This deeper question - getting to the root of clutter - is something a professional organizer is great for: we help you think about how you’re actually using your space and can design a system to match your needs.

    © 2013 Annie Powell. All Rights Reserved.

    Annie Powell is a sub-contractor and blogger for Charm City Organizers, LLC. She works with clients to clear clutter and create new organizational systems in their homes and work spaces; she specializes in small space problem-solving. "Saving you time, money, and sanity... one drawer at a time."

  • 02/18/2013 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    by Jacquie Ross of CastAway the Clutter!

    Do you have boxes and bags of old photos that never found their way into albums? Photographs are one of the best ways to preserve memories, but they can also become another pile of clutter if there is no organizational plan for storing and organizing them.

    Image courtesy Stacks and Stacks (

    Here are a few tips to get started:

    Organizing Digital Photos

    Today, most of us have moved to digital photos, but this has not necessarily ended the chaos. Disorganization on the computer or phone can be just as frustrating as disorganization in our physical space, because at the end of the day, you want to be able to find your photos when you need them. With that said, it is a little easier to organize digital photos. You just have to make the time to do so, and have a plan.

    Decide on a system that works for you. You can create digital folders on your computer, by year, person or occasion and move each photo to the appropriate folder.

    One drawback of storing photos on your computer is that they take up a lot of hard drive space, so you may wish to use a portable hard drive just for your photos. If you prefer not to keep any on your hard drive, or dont want to bother backing them up on a portable hard drive, there are many online storage options available. 

    Organizing Hard Copy Photos

    1. Get your tools together. When you’re ready to begin sorting through the backlog of your old photographs, you’ll want to have a few tools handy, including, but not limited to:

    • Containers, bins or large envelopes for sorting and categorizing
    • A trash can to discard duplicate copies
    • Photo albums, photo boxes or scrapbooks with acid-free pages and/or inserts
    • Scrapbooking supplies, if applicable.

    2. Schedule some time to do a quick sort. If you have many years of photos, you might want to start by sorting and organizing by year. If it’s only a year or two, you will more likely be able to remember each photo and can sort by occasion or person, e.g. birthday parties by child, vacations, events, etc. Pick what is most intuitive to you.

    3. Keep only the best of the best. It’s OK not to keep every single photo. If you have several shots of one person at the same event, pick the very best and get rid of the rest. It may feel a bit weird to throw away “good” photos, but it can be boring to look through a bunch of similar poses of the same person, so just pick the best.

    4. Keep them organized during the process. For organizing projects that will take a while, consider storing them temporarily in envelopes and label each clearly with a marker, so that you know where you are when you have time to do a bit more sorting. Containers take up a lot more space, so it also depends on where you will be storing your photos when you’re not working on them.

    Image courtesy Exposures (

    5. Display a few. Plan to set aside a few of your favorites for display purposes. You can display in a traditional photo frame for the wall or table top. Plus, there are many other unique ways to display photos. Decorating magazines can help you come up with some other ideas.

    6. Get Extra Copies of Irreplacable Photos. For photos that would be devastating for you to lose in a flood or fire (or anyhow!), get extra copies made now, and store the back-up copies in a fireproof safe, a safety deposit box, or both.

    © 2012-2013 by Jacquie Ross, CastAway the Clutter! All Rights Reserved.

    Jacquie Ross is a professional organizer, certified life and family coach and award winning owner of CastAway the Clutter!, Jacquie works with busy professionals and families to clear their clutter, manage their time and run their households more effectively.

  • 02/08/2013 10:26 AM | Anonymous

    by Emily Herwig of Tidy Life, LLC 


    Welcome to February, the month of blizzards, cupids, and tax forms in your mailbox! The deadline to postmark W-2 and 1099 forms was January 31, so by now you should have received most of the paperwork you need to file your annual returns. Your potential reward is a nice tax refund, so what are you waiting for?

    If you haven’t kept your receipts for tax-deductible expenses organized throughout the year, now is the time to get them in order so you’re not scrambling in April. If you’re a technophobe or satisfied with hard copies, you can organize your receipts using an accordion file. Otherwise, digitizing your tax documentation is highly recommended because it:

    • Preserves the information from thermal paper receipts, which fade over time, often in less than the 7 years you may be required by law to keep them
    • Creates a duplicate of your paper records, which can be further backed up in the cloud, on external hard drives, or on flash drives or CDs
    • Provides an easy way to share supporting documentation with your accountant or tax professional while allowing you to keep the originals
    • Gives you the ability to search for receipts by keyword instead of sifting through a sea of little papers
    • Takes up less space than paper!

    Many people think that by going paperless, they can avoid organizing their documents. Untrue! It’s not about the paper, it’s about the information. Here are a few different approaches for tackling this project; your choice will depend on how much time and money you wish to commit.

    Outsource Your Scanning

    The easiest approach is to let someone else do the scanning for you. For a monthly fee, services like Shoeboxed will scan and digitally organize your paper records, give you secure access to them in the cloud, and enable you to export the data to various other software programs. (If you’re willing to do the scanning yourself but want to use Shoeboxed’s software, there’s a free plan available.)

    The Scannerless Option

    Mobile apps such as TurboScan (for iOS), JotNot (for iOS) and CamScanner (for Android) use your phone’s camera to digitize documents and receipts. You have the option to email the files as PDF or JPEG or open them in another app on your mobile device.

    Scan to Folders

    For the novice techie, a simple approach is to use a home office scanner to create PDF or JPEG files of your receipts and save them to your computer in a folder structure that maps to your expense categories (advertising, insurance, travel, etc). Digitizing your receipts this way is a start, but it doesn’t allow you to quickly and visually scan their contents or sum up expenses.

    Snazzy Scanners

    Two of the most popular brands of scanners are Fujitsu ScanSnap and Neat, both of which are sheet-fed (they accept a stack of papers) and can scan both sides of a paper at once. These “smart scanners” automatically perform minor corrections such as cropping white space and straightening out crooked images, and perform OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to make documents searchable. They come with their own digital filing system software, mobile apps (to access your scanned documents from anywhere), and link to many cloud software services.


    Uploading scanned receipts into Evernote, a digital notebook, is another great option. Because Evernote’s search function is so powerful, you can search your receipts by vendor (example: “Staples”), date, dollar amount, name of item purchased, etc. For those folks who DO want to go digital but DON’T want to spend a lot of time organizing documents once they’re scanned, Evernote is a winner.

    With all these tricks up your sleeve, and 2+ months standing between you and tax day, what do you have to lose? Give it a shot and enjoy a paperless tax season!

    © 2013 Emily Herwig, Tidy Life LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

    Emily Herwig is the owner of Tidy Life, LLC based in Baltimore. She helps individuals and businesses maximize their limited time and space through organization, productivity, time management, and technology. Emily is currently serving as the Director of Communications & Technology for the NAPO Baltimore Chapter.

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