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  • December 12, 2023 1:13 PM | Janet Schiesl, CPO® (Administrator)

    Elaine Weiss

    Declutter For Good

    As a life-long reader and lover of books, I totally get it.

    If books are central to who you are, you have been collecting them since you were little (and, possibly, since your kids were little). Each aspect of your life – high school, college, jobs, parenting, hobbies, book clubs, travel – has provided an opportunity to accumulate different ones. They all have sentimental value. You can’t part with them.

    But they can also present a problem. They are all over your home: on the bookshelves, tables, chairs, and now, even the floor. You have a feeling you aren’t actually going to read most of them again (or even once). But even if you might be able to part with some of them, you don’t know where to start. Or how to ensure they don’t end up in the dump.

    A few years ago, I was in your situation. I had at least six book shelves in various rooms throughout the house, with both books I loved and ones I didn’t. Books I had promised myself to shelve “right away” were settling into semi-permanent homes on the table, buffet, and chairs. When I went looking for one to read or reference, I could never find it. And as someone who had never parted peacefully with my books, I had dreaded even the thought of tackling this task. As it turned out, it was actually among my most enjoyable activities. Not only did I create space for many non-book items, I can consistently find the book I want. And even better, having a collection of only truly loved books has reinvigorated the book-lover in me.

    If you’ve been thinking that dealing with your books should be part of your home organization, now is definitely the time. Why now?

    The holidays are coming. Tackling this one part of your clutter can create a more inviting space for holiday hosting, clear your head to make planning, cooking, and shopping more efficient and enjoyable, and set you up for further, bigger organizing wins in 2024. Add this to your pre-New Years’ resolution list.

    Books make wonderful gifts. As you sort through the many you no longer want to keep, you will come across several that are perfect for a particular family member or friend. And inscribing a book you have loved with a note (and maybe adding a cute bookmark) can make for a more personal, special present. (I’m also a fan of crafting with old books! Sparkly jewelry boxes, cute pen holders, and unique lamp bases, are among the virtually endless options.)

    ‘Tis the season of giving. Good book drives are everywhere. One that is meaningful to me is the GO month drive by the National Association of Professional Organizers (of which I am a proud member). It is a month-long campaign to raise awareness about the many benefits of organizing and decluttering. So, this December and January, consider putting your pre-loved books to great use. 

    Ready to get started? Feel free to reach out to me for a list of great local charities that can ensure your books find loving new homes.

    Cleaner closet. Clearer head. Cuter me!

    I don’t know about you, but I tend to spend a lot of time in the morning looking at my closet and not being able to figure out what to wear. And not infrequently, even after I have managed to choose, I take off the skirt or top I selected and swap it for another that feels like a slight improvement. Picking the day’s outfit has definitely gotten harder over the years, and I’ve been attributing it lately to a combination of aging and insufficient early-morning caffeine. I just turned 50, though, and I’m the kind of person who is naturally awake – and immediately chatty – when I get out of bed, so I knew at some level that it couldn’t be only those factors.

    For the past five months, since my full-closet declutter, it has never taken more than a few seconds. I can see every option, and while they all look good, it is very easy to determine which I want. Several factors seem to be at play here.

    First, of course, is the fact that there are so many fewer options. Six months ago, I was trying to decide between fifteen or more pairs of shorts. Now I’m down to nine (if all of my laundry is clean, which is almost never the case). Given that, even if I stay home all week and wear shorts every day, that feels like a more-than-enough set of options. And having picked one or the other of my remaining pairs of jeans shorts twice, I can see that I had too many “lounge” shorts I wasn’t wearing, but could use one more pair of good jeans shorts. I.e., not only do I know what I want to wear, I know what to buy (and what not to!)

    Second, I am not getting bogged down by all the unconscious negative thoughts I didn’t realize I was experiencing. I’m not having my eyes catching on t-shirts that I don’t like, that no longer fit me, or that were never really my thing but that I couldn’t admit to, having just paid for them. Those all went to other people’s closets where they will be appreciated and worn, which also makes me feel lighter and less guilty (leaving me mental space to enjoy the tops that fit great, match my remaining shorts, and fit perfectly into a single drawer).

    Third, my husband’s side of the closet, which, despite being a bit smaller than mine, has consistently, since we’ve moved into this house, been neater and better organized than mine, now looks to me like a disorganized mess. His shirts, which had seemed so accessible relative to my three-on-a-hanger skirts, are clearly not so easy to get to. When I scan his shelves, I spot multiple shirts that he hasn’t worn in years and that are just making it hard to see, and pull out, the few that he consistently puts on. (But, I promise myself, I will not take that on until I finish decluttering my stuff, which remains far and away the biggest clutter issue facing our household.)

    Finally, my friends are jealous. I have been gleefully sharing pictures of my newly organized, lovely, accessible, attractive closet, and I suspect that I’ll soon be receiving requests to help them do the same with theirs.

    Helpful "storage unit'? Or endless black hole?

    If you’re like me, you have encountered a pile of old (sub your favorite “clothing” “books” “papers” “80s mementos”) and had the epiphany that the big grey bin you found at Home Depot would be the perfect solution to this disorder. All it needs is a label. Yay, mission accomplished!

    Fast forward five, seven, ten, eighteen years. Big grey bin is beneath two boxes, has gathered a few cobwebs, the label is faded, and even if you can read it, you can’t remember what it is in there. And the thought of pulling it out from beneath those boxes, opening it, and sorting through the dozens of things inside that you know you don’t want is just too daunting. So you pretend it didn’t happen.

    Now multiple that big grey bin situation by a lot. What do you have? A storage unit. I.e., a seemingly helpful tool for organizing and making space that, in reality, is a predatory force preying on us when we are most vulnerable.

    That might be an exaggeration, but only a very slight one. Why are storage units four-letter words in my mind? 

    They get you when you’re down. Who rents storage units, and why? People who have accumulated more things than they can reasonably store in their homes, whether because they were talked into buying things they didn’t need, inherited things they don’t want or can’t use, and/or went through a major life event that made dealing with things too difficult. I.e., you were persuaded that the new couch was necessary and perfect, only to realize that you couldn’t quite afford it and now have no space for the furniture that was already there. When your parents died, you were in no shape to sort through their drawers, cabinets, closets, and boxes, so it went, mostly intact, right into this space. Your husband’s sister had to move in with her baby, pushing old kids’ clothes you had been meaning to sort and boxes of books you read in college into the storage unit. This might sound like help when you need it, until you consider that…

    They enable you to avoid healthy grieving and processing. Of course, you wouldn’t “grieve” the bad decision to buy the couch you didn’t really want, but by shoving the old one out of sight, you allow yourself to not confront the pattern and nip this forming habit in the bud. And while it’s natural not to be able to cope with sorting your parents’ clothing, needlepoints, sentimental but not-your-thing serving platters, and old love letters in the weeks and months after they passed, the storage unit has turned those into years in which you never fully processed and missed out on valuable opportunities to use and cherish the few items that do keep them alive for you (and that you really do want to pass on to your own kids). And you are building up resentment towards your sister-in-law because the monthly rent for that storage unit has gone up a ton, but you can’t tell her that. Leading to…

    They stealthily rack up bills that, cumulatively, would have enabled you to do so many other, better things. I read in another organizer’s blog post recently that her clients’ twenty-plus year storage unit, which was housing basically her parents’ entire apartment since they died, had cost them more over those two decades than they needed for a solid downpayment on a second vacation home. This is likely on the extreme end, but the practice storage units employ of giving you the first few months cheap, or even free, and then raising the rates over time, is no accident. Most of us would balk initially at the rate we pay a few years later without even noticing. And the convenient monthly or semi-annual automatic payments guarantee that we’ll overlook the bills we’re accruing and make them feel much smaller.

    This is not to say that there’s no situation in which a storage unit is a good, or at least necessary, tool. But my strong advice to my clients is to treat it as such.

    Know, going in, that it is a temporary resource. Lean on it in tough times – when you can’t and shouldn’t deal with sorting and processing – but don’t let that set of crutches become a cane or a wheelchair you don’t need. Your initial criteria for choosing a unit can help ensure these wiser, more cost-effective choices. Proximity is huge – if you can’t easily get to your unit, you’re a lot less likely to actually start the sorting process at the three-month mark you set for yourself. Take advantage of those initial first months’ for free offer. If you play this right, those are all you need. Then, when you have cleared that baby out (with my help, if needed) within the six-month trial period, take yourself out for a drink on the money you earned, and toast your stellar ability to make these rules work for you.

    Who knew that cleaning a cabinet could turn into laughter, tears, and great memories.

    We all have a space in our home – a closet, cabinet, drawer, or box – that started out with a clear plan for what would go there, but over time has evolved into a somewhat random catch-all. As such, it’s one of those places that, as we go through our de-cluttering process, we avoid. It’s going to be too messy.

    Our buffet is one of those places in our house. Now, to be clear, the buffet itself is fantastic in every way. Michael inherited it from a great-uncle in Los Angeles who had both money and great taste. It’s got a 1930s-1940s post-Art Deco feel, with warm honey-stained wood and funky etched round handles, and it’s solid as a rock. (As the poor guys who moved our stuff from our one-bedroom downtown delivered it, they realized how underpaid they were!) It fits perfectly in our small dining room, yet it holds a surprising amount of stuff. The latter, however, has become as much of a curse as a blessing over the nearly two decades we’ve been here.

    It was initially the storage space for our “nice” dishes – a subtle white-grey-beige Villeroy and Boch leaf pattern that we fell in love with at someone’s dinner party – and our tablecloths and napkins. It made sense, then, that when my sister gave us a raclette grill for our wedding, the accessories would go in there, too. And once the kiddush cups and candlesticks and the lovely glass seder plate were stashed in the bottom drawer, it became a repository for any and all other things Jewish-holiday themed: the cute havdallah set and several candles, small silver tschotchkes that Michael’s great-aunt in Geneva sent home with him from winter visits there, and of course the requisite, and always-growing, pile of kippot (which really got out of hand when our daughters’ friends started to become bar and bat mitzvahs).

    You probably recognize this pattern and are wincing a bit thinking of your own “buffet.” But I’m writing to tell you not to. Over the past two days, once I got past the reluctance to tackle this cluttered monster, I’ve experienced multiple pleasures.

    First, of course, now that I’m becoming a pro at knowing what I will use and want to keep and what I won’t, I enjoy the feeling of sorting the plate, placemat, bowl, and cup “nos” into neat piles and then into a big box, where they can support families who are moving into their own homes for the first time. This also means that there’s now proper, non-cluttered space for the keepers. Second, and much more joyous, many of these items – both keepers and non-keepers – brought back wonderful memories.

    One of the now five tablecloths was a wedding gift from my parents’ close friends, and we still comment every time we sit down to eat about the lovely, colorful Hungarian embroidery. It recently has company from a second hand-embroidered tablecloth that my mother-in-law and I discovered while cleaning out her linen closet, and that brings its own story to the buffet. The apron that Michael’s grandmother embroidered for him with all our names – including both dogs – needs Atticus’ name added to it, which I can do. The way-too-ornate-for-my-taste tea set that I inherited from my maternal grandmother – the ultimate “if it’s got gold on it I love it” grandma – has evolved into our Mothers’ Day tradition of serving fancy tea after a brunch of tea sandwiches, scones, and cookies. Without the set, I suspect the tradition, which has become a huge favorite, including among the dads, would not have happened. And as Michael and I sort through the various tschochkes we have accrued, we can consider which few of them we really love and want to hold on to, and find a place for them that isn’t the bottom drawer of the buffet, but a lovely spot where we can display and enjoy them every day.

    For more information, contact Elaine Weiss.

  • November 14, 2023 9:09 AM | Janet Schiesl, CPO® (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    You can achieve a more organized life in 5-minute increments.

    Good time management is accomplished in small bits of time. The exercise of mapping out a daily/weekly/monthly plan is important to stay on track.

    Successful people plan their time by writing everything down. But it’s hard for some to understand. I get it. Time is such an abstract idea. It’s hard to do. How long will each task take? How about the commute? What can you do while you are waiting for the meeting to begin? I tell my clients that a successful calendar is “full” of notes.

    Whether you use a paper calendar or an electronic version practice noting everything you want to accomplish in your calendar. It is very important to schedule how long each task will take. By sitting down in the morning (or the night before) and mapping out your day with a list, you are less likely to be surprised with extra to-dos and you will also accomplish a lot more. It’s like making several appointments with yourself in one day.

    As you get comfortable with this exercise, you’ll find that it will only take 5 minutes. Plan your day, then follow the plan.

    In conclusion, try it – Prioritize Organizing-Time in 5 minutes.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.

  • October 26, 2023 3:39 PM | Janet Schiesl, CPO® (Administrator)

    Jill Katz

    One to Zen Organizing

    Are you thinking of renovating your kitchen, moving, or switching jobs, but you aren't sure if you are ready for a change? Well, as a professional organizer, I have become a bit of an expert when it comes to life transitions because professional organizers are most popular in times of change. I receive many calls in September when the leaves are falling and the air starts turning crisp, or right around January 1st when people are reevaluating their goals. Not to mention times when change is unplanned (i.e. a job loss, empty nesting, or learning you have ADHD.

    But not everyone is ready to make a transition. Please understand; There is no judgment here. Choosing to make a change may not be the best decision for you, no matter the season. But how do you determine if the time is not now?

    The "Why Now" Question

    A large gold question mark

    In order to determine your readiness, my number one question during a discovery call with a potential client is “WHY NOW? “

    Here are some of your responses to the “Why Now” question that suggest that you are ready for change:

    • We are planning on moving soon and I would like to downsize so I don’t move items I don’t need/want/use into our new home (awareness, motivation)

    • I’ve reached my pain point and I can’t deal with the kitchen clutter anymore (motivation)

    • I just found out I have ADHD, I have been working with a therapist, and I want to get organized (awareness, mental readiness, support)

    Here are some other responses to the “Why Now” question that suggest you are not ready for change:

    • My Significant Other is taking over the house with his hobby - please help (no Support)

    • I want you to come and declutter my home (vague, probe more to see if awareness)

    • I want my 10 years worth of clutter gone by the end of the month and I can only meet on Tuesday evenings (lack of time)

    The 4 Signs of Readiness For Change

    A woman wearing a hat with a thoughtful look on her face walking up stairs outide with nature in the background

    So how can you tell if you are ready for change - organizing or otherwise? Here are some guidelines I came up with based on my experience:

    1. You Have An Awareness Of Underlying Issues

    Awareness is integral to readiness for change. A great example- I once had a client with a shopping addiction who didn’t mention her addiction to me on our initial call or during our sessions. This lack of awareness suggested that she was not ready to change. Once this addiction was clear to me, I felt ethically obligated to point it out so we could openly discuss goals that would support her challenges. She could then decide if she wanted to continue working with me. Conversely, I have had many clients with underlying issues who have been forthcoming about it and successful in creating change.

    2. You have a Willingness to Form & Practice New Habits & Routines

    More often than not, my organizing sessions go beyond straightforward decluttering and containerizing. If so, I can organize and suggest new systems and supporting routines but it’s up to the client to practice these new habits. In this case, a client needs to be willing to make those changes in order for our sessions together to be a success. If a client is hoping for a quick fix, that client is not ready for change.

    This willingness depends on 2 areas:


    If you have hit enough of a pain point to seek help then you have motivation. If this motivation is strong then it will carry you through the effort of practicing new habits. If you have ADHD then holding motivation is a challenge so you need to come up with ideas (I can help!) to create sustained motivation.

    Mental Readiness:

    Changing routines can be scary. It takes flexibility and it can feel like a risk to start something new. Jumping into this new space can cause anxiety and not everyone has the bandwidth to enter that space. You might have too much going on right now or you might be a high anxiety person who doesn’t feel that the cost-benefit is worth it. But if you are prepared mentally for this change then you are ready!

    3. You Have The Necessary Support

    A woman putting her arm around a loved one to show support as seen from the back

    This one is super easy to identify. If you are coming to me about someone else or if your space is a shared space then the true question is: “Are all the involved parties ready for change?” If we are organizing a playroom then are all the adults involved ready to create rules for the kids and/or make decisions about what to do when the grandparents give a wagon-load of gifts over the holidays? And if you want to organize a shared space do you have the support of those sharing that space? Lastly, if you grapple with mental health issues, chronic health issues or are chronically disorganized, do you have a support system in place for you to help you with your challenges? If the answer is yes then you are ready for change.

    4. You Have The Resources

    You may have the awareness, motivation, and support, but if you don't have the budget, energy, or time then change might not be available to you. I have worked with people who have chronic health issues and often, those with flagging health, need to reserve their energy for more basic functions (see my post about The Spoon Theory). If you are throwing a wedding for a loved one, it might not be the time to spend money hiring a professional organizer. On the other hand, if you are a teacher that has time off for the summer, that would be a perfect time to work with an professional organizer.

    In Conclusion

    So if you find yourself on the phone with me and we have already discussed the details of my process. and you have asked your questions. and you are still hesitating, consider this - maybe you are simply not ready to take the next step. And that is OK. In that case, you might hear me pause, and then respond: “Why don’t you think about it? I will be here when you are ready.”

    Have you recently made a change? How did you know you were ready? Feel free to leave your story in the comments.

    For more information, contact Jill Katz.

  • October 26, 2023 7:38 AM | Janet Schiesl, CPO® (Administrator)

    Cris Sgott

    Organizing Maniacs

    How to Use Containers to Declutter and Organize Every Room of Your House

    Finding ways to declutter and organize your home can be a constant struggle. But what if there was a simple solution? Enter containers – the unsung heroes of home organization! As you may know, here at Organizing Maniacs, we LOVE containers and use them in every room - and let’s face it, most of us want to keep our stuff. We just need less chaos.

    With their ability to neatly store and categorize belongings, containers are the key to achieving a clutter-free environment. We will show you how to maximize the use of containers to create a well-organized and serene living space by containerizing chaos.

    Whether you're dealing with a chaotic kitchen, a messy bathroom, or an overflowing closet, containers can provide the structure and order you need. We will guide you through the process of selecting the right containers for each space, organizing your belongings efficiently, and incorporating container systems into your daily routine.

    Get ready to transform your home with the power of containers. Say goodbye to mess and welcome a sense of calm and order into your life. Let's dive in and discover the secrets of containerizing chaos.

    Benefits of Using Containers for Decluttering and Organizing

    Before we jump into the specifics of containerizing chaos in each room in your house, let's first explore the numerous benefits of using containers for organization.

    Maximize Space

    Containers are a great way to make the most of your available space. By utilizing vertical space and neatly stacking containers, you can create additional storage areas without cluttering your living space.

    Efficient Organization

    Containers allow you to categorize and organize your belongings in a systematic way. With clear labeling and proper placement, you'll always know where to find what you need, saving you time and energy searching for misplaced items.

    Visual Appeal

    Not only do containers provide functional organization, but they also add visual appeal to your living space. With a variety of colors, styles, and materials available, you can find containers that complement your home decor and enhance the overall aesthetic.

    Understanding the benefits of using containers for organization sets the foundation for achieving an organized and clutter-free home. Now, let's dive into the different types of containers available and how to choose the right ones for each room.

    Understanding Different Types of Containers

    When it comes to containers, there are various options to choose from. Here are some common types of containers that can help you in your quest for an organized home:

    Plastic Bins with Lids

    These are versatile containers that come in different sizes and are suitable for storing a wide range of items. With their stackable design and clear lids, plastic bins provide easy access and visibility to your belongings.

    Baskets and Woven Bins

    If you're looking for a more decorative option, baskets and woven bins are a great choice. They add a touch of warmth and texture to your living space while providing storage for smaller items like toys, accessories, or bathroom essentials.

    Drawer Organizers

    For organizing smaller items like utensils, office supplies, or jewelry, drawer organizers are essential. These segmented containers fit neatly inside drawers, keeping items separated and easily accessible.

    Shoe Racks and Shoe Boxes

    Keep your shoes organized and prevent them from cluttering your entryway or closet with shoe racks and shoe boxes. These containers help maintain the shape of your shoes while keeping them neatly stored and easily visible.

    Choosing the right type of containers depends on the specific needs of each room. Now, let's explore how to containerize chaos in different areas of your house.

    Containerizing Chaos in the Kitchen

    The kitchen is often the heart of the home but can quickly become a hotspot for clutter. Containerizing the kitchen is essential for efficient meal preparation and maintaining a clean and organized space. We suggest waiting to purchase containers until you’ve sorted through what you have. And always feel free to get creative about using what you have in your home as a container. Here are some tips to get you started:

    Clear Out and Assess

    Begin by clearing out your kitchen cabinets and drawers. Assess each item and decide what to keep, donate, or discard. This will help you determine the number and size of containers you'll need. Read more about where to start when organizing your kitchen.

    Categorize and Label

    Group similar items together, such as baking supplies, spices, or utensils. Use clear plastic containers or labeled bins to store these items, making it easy to find what you need when cooking or baking.

    Utilize Vertical Space

    Maximize your cabinet space by using stackable containers or adding shelf dividers. This allows you to make the most of your vertical space and prevents items from getting lost at the back of the cabinet.

    Containerizing your kitchen not only streamlines your meal preparation process but also creates a visually appealing and clutter-free cooking environment.

    Our Favorite Containers for the Kitchen

    Some of our favorite containers for the kitchen include Tupperware and Rubbermaid food storage containers. They come in a variety of sizes and can store nearly anything, from your assorted teas to cereals. We also love baskets for storing things that don’t easily stay on the shelf, like sugar packets or small condiments.

    Containerizing Chaos in the Bathroom

    The bathroom is another area prone to clutter due to its limited space and the numerous products we use daily. Small bathrooms, especially, can be challenging. Containerizing your bathroom will help create a spa-like oasis and keep your essentials easily accessible. Here's how you can achieve a well-organized bathroom:

    Declutter and Sort

    Begin by decluttering your bathroom cabinets and drawers. Dispose of expired products and items you no longer use. Sort similar items, such as skincare products, hair accessories, or toiletries.

    Utilize Drawer Organizers

    Place drawer organizers in your vanity drawers to keep items like makeup, brushes, or dental care essentials neatly separated. This makes it easier to find what you need and prevents items from rolling around.

    Utilize Wall Space

    Install wall-mounted containers or shelves to store frequently used items like hand towels, cotton pads, or small toiletries. This frees up valuable counter space and adds a decorative touch to your bathroom.

    By containerizing your bathroom, you can transform it into a peaceful retreat and maintain a clutter-free environment.

    Our Favorite Containers for the Bathroom

    The bathroom lends itself to some create solutions when it comes to selecting containers. From using wine glasses to hold makeup brushes to cookie canisters for cotton balls and Q-tips, it’s easy to get creative. Over-the-toilet shelving and over-the-door hooks can free up a lot of space.

    Containerizing Chaos in the Bedroom

    The bedroom should be a sanctuary for rest and relaxation, but a cluttered space can disrupt your sleep. Containerizing your bedroom will help create a serene environment and keep your personal belongings organized. Here's how to achieve a clutter-free bedroom:

    Declutter Your Closet

    Start by decluttering your closet and donating or discarding clothes you no longer wear. This will create space for containers and make it easier to organize your remaining items.

    Utilize Under-Bed Storage

    Invest in under-bed storage containers to maximize space and store out-of-season clothing, extra bedding, or shoes. These containers are easily accessible and provide hidden storage.

    Jewelry Organizers

    Use small jewelry organizers or trays to keep your accessories tangle-free and easily visible. This prevents necklaces from getting tangled and makes it easier to find the perfect piece for your outfit.

    Containerizing your bedroom will not only create a clutter-free space but also contribute to a better night's sleep and a more peaceful environment.

    Our Favorite Containers for the Bedroom

    Our very favorite containers for the bedroom are clear shoe boxes. They let you stack and store your shoes on shelves or even on the closet floor in a very organized way while still ensuring you can see all of them to make quick style picks.

    Containerizing Chaos in the Living Room

    The living room is where we relax, entertain guests, and spend quality time with loved ones. Containerizing your living room will help maintain a clean and inviting space. Here's how to achieve an organized living room:

    Media Storage

    Invest in media storage containers or shelves to neatly store DVDs, CDs, or gaming consoles. This prevents them from cluttering your entertainment center or coffee table.

    Toy Storage

    If you have children, containerize their toys with labeled bins or baskets. This makes it easy for them to find and put away their toys, teaching them the importance of organization from an early age.

    Magazine Holders

    Use magazine holders to store and organize your favorite magazines or books. This keeps them within reach while preventing them from piling up and creating clutter.

    By containerizing your living room, you can create a welcoming and organized space for relaxation and entertainment.

    Our Favorite Containers for the Living Room

    When it comes to quick and easy storage in your living room, nothing can beat an ottoman with storage. Reduce clutter by keeping everything from blankets to extra board games tucked away. Baskets and shelving can also make a big difference.

    Containerizing Chaos in Your Home Office

    Whether you work from home or use your home office for personal tasks, containerizing this space is crucial for productivity and efficiency. Here's how to achieve an organized home office:

    Cable Management

    Cable clips or sleeves can keep your cords and cables organized, prevent them from tangling, and create a clean and clutter-free workspace.

    Desk Organizers

    Invest in desk organizers or small containers to store office supplies like pens, paper clips, or sticky notes. This keeps your essentials within reach and prevents them from getting buried under paperwork.

    File Storage

    Utilize file storage containers or labeled file boxes to keep important documents organized and easily accessible. This prevents them from getting lost or damaged and streamlines your workflow.

    By containerizing your home office, you'll create a productive and organized space that boosts your focus and efficiency.

    Our Favorite Containers for the Home Office

    For paper organizing, we love color-coded filing systems. To really reduce your clutter, digitize every important record that you’re able to. Our favorite container for the home office is a fire proof safe where you can store all of your important papers.

    Containerizing Chaos in the Garage

    The garage or storage area is often a neglected space that quickly becomes a dumping ground for miscellaneous items. Containerizing this space is essential for efficient storage and easy access to your belongings. Here's how to containerize your garage or storage area:

    Purge and Sort

    Start by purging and sorting through your items. Dispose of broken or unused items and categorize the rest. This will help you determine the size and number of containers you'll need.

    Use Stackable Containers

    Invest in durable, stackable containers for storing items like holiday decorations, tools, or sports equipment. This maximizes your vertical space and keeps your belongings protected from dust or damage.

    Labeling and Shelving

    Label each container with its contents and consider installing shelves or racks to store the containers. This makes it easy to find what you need without rummaging through piles of boxes.

    Containerizing your garage or storage area not only creates a clutter-free space but also makes it easier to find and access your belongings when needed.

    Our Favorite Containers or the Garage

    The best way to maximize your space in the garage is with overhead storage. It can make all the difference.

    Final Tips for Maintaining an Organized Home

    The art of containerizing chaos can help you to declutter and organize every room of your house. By incorporating containers into your daily routine, you can maintain an organized and serene living space.

    Final Tips for Maintaining an Organized Home

    Containerizing chaos is an ongoing process. As your needs change and your belongings evolve, adapt your container systems accordingly.

    Regular Decluttering

    Set aside time every few months to declutter and reassess your belongings. This prevents clutter from accumulating and ensures your containers are utilized efficiently.

    Consistent Labeling

    Labeling your containers is crucial for easy identification and maintaining organization. Regularly review and update labels to reflect any changes in your storage system. Apply this same practice to your digital filing and storage, too!

    Establish Routines

    Incorporate container systems into your daily routines. Encourage family members to return items to their designated containers after use, creating a shared responsibility for maintaining an organized home.

    As always, if you need help with decluttering, organizing, and choosing the right containers, just get in touch!

    For more information, contact Cris Sgott.

  • October 24, 2023 7:52 AM | Janet Schiesl, CPO® (Administrator)

    Anna Novak

    Simply Downsized

    Is it time to downsize to a smaller home, but you’re not sure how to start? As soon as you make the decision to downsize, you'll likely encounter advice from all sides telling you that the first thing you need to do is “declutter.” In fact, it seems like the terms "declutter" and "downsize" almost always appear together, as though they are interchangeable ideas. However, decluttering is not always advisable as your first step in your downsizing journey.

    You Don’t Have to Declutter First (or at all)

    Back in 2018, when I first immersed myself in the world of downsizing, estate clearouts, and home transitions, I too believed that decluttering and downsizing went hand in hand. Early readers of the blog will remember that much of my initial advice centered on decluttering, either as an immediate starting point or an ongoing process in the months before a move. Over the years, however, my downsizing advice has evolved. Now, it’s just as likely that I will advise my overwhelmed clients not to focus on decluttering at all.

    If you 1) know exactly where you’re going and 2) have an imminent move on the calendar, it might be wise to temporarily shelve decluttering tasks. While decluttering might seem like a logical first step, it may not necessarily be the best use of your time. Moreover, as moving day draws near, many of my clients find that delegating the decluttering task to others can be a lot more efficient and less emotionally taxing than trying to do it all themselves.

    Of course, some people have a long lead-up to their move and have their minds set on sorting and decluttering all of their belongings until only their most loved objects remain. Some people even enjoy the task! But even for the most organized, the decluttering step should take place after some initial planning and legwork to make sure you’re not “decluttering” things you actually need or want.

    Three Reasons to Postpone Decluttering

    Don't Declutter: It Can Drain Your Energy

    Believe me, decluttering can be draining, especially when you’re facing a mountain of belongings that has accumulated over decades. We frequently see households where the drawers barely close, closets are bursting, and cabinets and shelves are overflowing with all manner of household wares, sports gear, tools, hobby supplies, books, paper, holiday decorations… the sheer volume can make you feel paralyzed.

    If this sounds familiar and you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone! Plenty of people are in your same situation. The first step forward in this case is to embrace the fact that decluttering may not be your strong suit, and that your energy will be best spent on other more important tasks.

    Simply doing the work to secure your new place and deciding what to take with you are both huge jobs that can take months. Instead of focusing time and attention on the unneeded items that are probably not going with you, I encourage you to preserve your energy for more critical decisions, such as:

    1. Safeguarding important documents.

    2. Protecting sentimental and valuable possessions.

    3. Identifying essential items for your health and comfort.

    You'll discover that making these significant decisions is a more valuable use of your time and energy than rummaging through your cupboards for unwanted items.

    Don't Declutter: You May Need Those Items

    The first thing I ask any downsizing client is “Do you know exactly where you’re going?” If the answer is “no,” I usually recommend that they put all of their energy into those decisions before they start getting rid of “stuff.” Put simply, if you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know how much space you’ll have to furnish? And which of your belongings will fit neatly and serve your needs the most? Even if you think you want to eventually move to a one or two-bedroom unit, it can be difficult to choose what furnishings to take with you without the benefit of a detailed and accurate floor plan of your actual space.

    I often meet people who get excited about downsizing and start giving away small or manageable items to friends and family, only to realize later they actually needed some of those items to furnish their new homes. When you've been living in a spacious home with many accumulated possessions and plenty of space in which to store them, you could get carried away with your purging and overlook some items that could prove useful in your new space.

    Be sure to keep an open mind and an eye out for these things you already own:

    1. Smaller, versatile furniture with functional storage.

    2. Decorative art that suits smaller spaces.

    3. Organizational items for your closets, drawers, and cabinets.

    4. Multi-purpose items.

    Downsizing is more of an art of maximizing your space than simply choosing your favorite things. You don't want to discover that you discarded or donated items that would have been perfectly suited for your new space. Delay decluttering until you're certain you've identified everything you need to take with you.

    Don't Declutter: Your Unneeded Items May Be Worth Money

    These days, the most valuable items in your home are probably not antiques, art or collections. You will likely make more money if you sell practical items like lawnmowers, tools, vacuum cleaners, or small kitchen appliances. And, more stuff equals more money. When you engage the services of an online auction service or local auction house, your best bet is to have a large quantity and variety of items to offer. You never know what buyers are looking for, and you may be surprised to find that your old computer keyboard is worth more than your wedding china.

    As a downsizing specialist, I always rely on the experts to decide what might sell, and I advise my clients to not get rid of anything until the pros have thoroughly looked through your belongings for items of resale value.

    Keep Your Eye on the Prize

    I advise my clients to prioritize the things that are going with them, not the things being left behind. When you consciously select your most essential and beloved belongings, the clutter naturally remains behind, and you're left with only the items you actually need and value.

    After you’ve determined each and every item that has earned a spot in your new, smaller place, I encourage you to relax and simply enjoy living in your home until your actual move. The rest of the “stuff” that is not going with you can easily and efficiently be handled by downsizing pros in your area.

    For more information, contact Anna Novak.

  • October 19, 2023 8:49 AM | Janet Schiesl, CPO® (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    Whenever you try to organize and eliminate the unnecessary, do these dreaded questions arise?

    • Should I get rid of this?
    • Will I need it someday?
    • Will that day ever come?

    Here’s a method I suggest to my clients. An experiment really.

    • Firstly, empty everything from a confined space: like a kitchen drawer, dresser drawer, desk drawer, closet shelf, bulletin board, glove compartment, purse. . . I could go on.
    • Secondly, put it all into a cardboard box. Write the date on the box. Stash that box not too far away.
    • Finally, if an item is needed, simply get it, use it, and then return it to its original location.

    I think you’ll find that you use the same items often and leave a lot of unused items in the box. Eventually, as time goes by you’ll see that a lot of what you are storing is stuff for someday. How long will you keep stuff for someday?

    One month after you filled the box, consider what you haven’t needed.  In six months realize the items you haven’t used for 1/12 of the year! Surprisingly, there may be quite a few items. Could you do without them?  Can you let that stuff go?

    Whenever my clients use this method they are often quite surprised at what is left in the box.

    For information please contact Janet Schiesl.

  • October 19, 2023 8:24 AM | Janet Schiesl, CPO® (Administrator)

    Samara Goodman

    Samara Interiors

    Does it seem like there are new interior design terms popping up weekly? Cottagecore, grandmillennial, grandmacore, hygge, and so on. This Samara Interiors Newsletter will explain what some of them mean and put them into the context of other, more familiar design terms. The most important takeaway for us is that classic design and tried-and-true aesthetics are always in style.

    What's old is new again! The relatively new grandmillennial design aesthetic is consistent with what Samara Interiors refers to as transitional design. To us, transitional design is a classic decorating style that is exemplified by a well-curated and elevated blend of the old and new. Samara Interiors specializes in transitional design. The photos below show examples of how we implement transitional decor into various rooms of clients' homes. We have also heard the grandmillennial aesthetic described as "posh" cottage core!

    To address the historical context of this term, I have asked a favorite grandmillennial and brilliant historian, Sarah Reeder of Artifactual History Appraisal, to give us her take on this style. Sarah says, “When Samara first asked me to write about grandmillennial design as she thought my taste was representative of it, my first thought was, 'Who, me?' Granted, my own grandmother had superb style, but when I think "grandmillennial," what immediately comes to mind is crochet, doilies, and potpourri. But when I researched what grandmillennial style actually is, it turns out Samara was right! The name was first coined by Emma Bazilian for an article in House Beautiful in 2019 and has become a design sensation in the subsequent years, particularly embraced by millennials like me. 

    • Combining items from multiple design eras? Check.
    • Bright colors and bold prints? Check.
    • A love of unique pieces that are assembled over time? Check.
    … a wonderful way to mix inherited items with new acquisitions you love. Not being constrained to a single style or design era creates a unique home that truly reflects the person living there, rather than a mass-produced suite that looks like an entire page from a furniture catalog just got delivered to your house. On reflection, now I'm proud to be a grandmillennial!”


    This whimsical aesthetic has been embraced since the start of the pandemic and is exemplified by elements such as light, flowing linens and vintage floral patterns on textiles, tea cups, and paintings. There are two classic decor styles that this new term brings to mind: English country and shabby chic. English country design is a style that has been around for some time. In our view, cottage core is a muted version of the English country design style. Designer Rachel Ashwell coined the term "shabby chic" in 1980. This aesthetic was inspired by rustic French country living. The photos below are examples of vignettes that reflect this style. 

    NYU professor and co-founder of Perfect Old Things, LLCMax Kaplan, shares his suggestions for how to create this style in your home from his perspective as both a visual culture expert and a fan of this charming style. Max says, "[We] encourage decorators and collectors to incorporate the beauty of the 'country' or 'cottage core' aesthetics into multilayered interiors using folk art objects like quilts, theorems, baskets, and hooked rugs. A seasoned American Folk Art dealer-as-mentor reminds us that folk art has consistently been a constant reference in fashion, textiles, and interior decorating through time as the genre paved the way for modern art in 1930s America."

    This is a Danish term that means "quality of coziness." In decor, it refers to bringing a feeling of well-being into your home. This style makes us think of the Scandinavian minimalism design aesthetic. The homes pictured below created warm, inviting, and nurturing environments for these client and their guests. 

    For more information, contact Samara Goodman.

  • October 13, 2023 9:58 AM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    Grocery stores are clean and organized. They have to be, in order for their customers to be able to find what they need.

    Use their model to create a little grocery store within your home – YOUR PANTRY!

    Everything has its place.  This  couldn’t be more true than in your own panty.  Lets  start following the basic principles the grocery chains use. These tips may help you find things quickly and easily in your own pantry.

    • Categorize food into groups, such as baking goods, paper products, breakfast items, pasta and rice, bread, and canned goods.
    • Place frequently used products at eye level. Make it as easy as possible to find what you need most often.
    • Place lighter-weight items, like paper towels, chips, and crackers on the top shelves, so there is no danger of injury if something should fall.
    • The tallest products are in the back, so you can see as much as possible. If you can’t see it, it’s the same as not having it.
    • Further, organize categories of items for better efficiency. Canned goods can be sorted into soups, fruit, and tomato products.
    • Contain bagged items like spice packets, pasta, rice, and beans inside bins or empty them into jars, so things don’t spill and create a mess and/or more chaos.

    Organizing a pantry to resemble a mini grocery store can save you time, energy, and money. Try it!

    For information please contact Janet Schiesl.

  • September 26, 2023 2:30 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    Simplifying will give you breathing room to do the things that truly matter. Try these two tricks to simplify your life!

    “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” — Hans Hofmann

    Forget about perfection.

    Don’t worry about it. You can’t achieve it, so don’t try. Give yourself permission to do your best and that’s it. Instead of impersonating Betty Crocker, send store-bought cupcakes in for the school snack. Set a deadline date for a project, finish it, and then move on. Don’t go back and redo something that is just fine the way it is. This is hard to do. You have to feel as though your best effort is good enough.

    Let me tell you a short story. I learned my perfection lesson early. When I had my first child, I always made a huge effort to get him dressed every day. You’d think he was going for a photo shoot. But on the days that I went to work early, my husband would dress our son and take him to daycare. Sometimes, when I’d pick the baby up from daycare I’d wonder if the DH had dressed him in the dark. What was he thinking – those pants with that shirt? But, did it really matter? My daycare provider and I would have a laugh over it and move on. Does anybody remember this now, years later? No (just me). Is my son scared by his fashion faux pas? No. He dresses better than his father.

    Don’t worry about variety.

    Does your family care if you work your fingers to the bone making a fancy meal every night? No, they just want to be fed. People tend to have their favorites and keep going back to those, so why go against that? I’m not saying to never try something new, but just not every night. Make up a meal schedule and stick to it to simplify food shopping, food prep, and clean-up. The same with clothes. Buy classic, well-fitting items that you can mix and match for a bit of variety. Shopping for new clothes for variety’s sake can be a time-consuming budget killer. Again, we all have pieces of clothing that we love, and that make us feel good when we wear them. Stick to those items instead of looking for that feeling at a shopping mall.

    Leaving these two things behind will not only simplify your life but also your time and your budget. Simplifying will give you breathing room to do the things that truly matter.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.

  • September 26, 2023 2:19 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    Want a Jammin’ Junk Drawer?  I’ve been reading a lot of blog postings about junk drawers lately.

    I think this because it’s a quick and easy project for those who have resolved to become more organized in the new year.

    One reason why your junk drawer is an easy project is that there are many different products available to customize your drawers and make them work for you.

    I love these Clear Drawer Organizers.

    Clear Drawer OrganizersThese drawer organizers can be used all over your house. We often use them in the bathroom and kitchen drawers. We like that you can configure each set to fit perfectly into your space.

    Have you tried these two-tiered drawer organizers?

    two-tiered drawer organizersStack the small trays on top of the larger bins or use them separately. They fit nicely in kitchen drawers to keep them neat and organized. This is such an easy way to get more use from your drawer space.

    Another great idea is these Bamboo Expandable Drawer Organizers!

    Bamboo Expandable Drawer OrganizersIf you want to customize a drawer so each member of your family has a space to drop their stuff, try these expandable drawer organizers.

    They say it’s for utensils, but why not use it for a junk drawer?

    It stretches to fit the space and offers large sections for keys, cell phones, sunglasses, and wallets.

    It would be great to use in a drawer in your entry, so everyone can drop their items as they enter the house.

    If you can’t find an organizer to accommodate your drawer space, try these Adjustable Drawer Dividers.

    Adjustable Drawer Dividers

    It allows you to truly customize your drawer for whatever you need.

    Use scissors to easily cut out the size suitable for your specific drawer size.  You can make the sizes you need. Perfect!

    Before you go to the store, plan the right option for your specific needs.

    Measure your drawers and note the types of items you want to store inside. You really don’t want to be standing in the aisle of the store trying to figure out what will work and what won’t!

    For the frugal organizer, can use small jewelry gift boxes or cut-down tissue boxes, or cereal boxes. The cardboard version won’t last as long, but they’re free!

    Try this quick organizing project! It will give you the confidence you need to try it in other places throughout your home.

    Have fun and enjoy your jammin’ junk drawer!

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.

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