Archive for the 'Clutter Control' Category

Clean Out Your Closet for a Good Cause!

Let it Go! Bring Your Goodwill Donations to Gap and Get 30% Off Your Entire Gap Purchase!

Pulling out your summer clothes? Kids and young adults moving in and moving out for the summer? Packing up, packing away, and sorting through those piles of clothes?

It is the perfect time to clear out your closets. While your clearing out, take note of any needs you may have for the upcoming season. Then, it’s time to go shopping! Gap has partnered with Goodwill, and between May 19 and May 29, 2011,  if you bring old clothing to your local Gap (to be donated to Goodwill), you will receive a coupon good for 30% off your purchase of both sale and non-sale items. What a great deal! It’s definitely a win-win situation!

It’s all part of The Donate Movement. Gap Inc. and Goodwill® are encouraging consumers to clean out their closets for a cause. From May 19-29, Gap stores in the United States and Canada will accept clothing donations in support of the Donate Movement. The clothing donations will be given to Goodwill Industries® and then sold in Goodwill’s more than 2,500 stores.

Happy Clearing (& Happy Shopping!)


“The Revolving Door”

Getting (and Staying!) Organized During the College Years

Graduations, another year of college completed, mission trips, summer camp, a new job, a new town, …………each resulting in “The Revolving Door”, as young adults move in and out of our homes.

The Revolving Door:  “characterized by a frequent succession or a cycle of leaving and returning.” Merriam Webster Dictionary

As in college students returning home for the summer!

Moving Day......Simplify the Process!

College students often return home for the summer with more stuff than could have possibly fit into their little dorm room or apartment! Their last days at school are consumed with finals, friends, and hopefully, a little fun, and they usually aren’t too concerned with neatly packing their belongings for the summer. Oftentimes, their belongings are shoved into bags, bins, and crates in a hit or miss manner (and that’s on a good day!). So, how do you keep it (your home, your life, your car) organized in the midst of the revolving door?

Don’t allow them to dump! Gently remind them that this is your home, not a storage facility. Then, offer simple, easy, and effective solutions to storing away their college gear until the next semester.

Dorm and Apartment Supplies, School Supplies and Gear

Pack away these supplies in clearly labeled, clear plastic bins. Sort like with like. Only then, can they see what they have, and decide what to keep. Next, ask a few questions about each item, before packing it away:

  • Did you use this item last semester?
  • Do you foresee a need for it next semester?
  • Where would you like to donate items that aren’t needed/used?
  • This is the perfect opportunity to assess any needs for next semester.

College Textbooks

  • If they won’t be needed in the future, require them to sell back their textbooks. This will result in less clutter, and can be a deposit for next semester’s books.
  • If you missed selling textbooks back to the college bookstore, check out these easy solutions.

Unopened Foods, Any Toiletries, Cleaning Supplies, and Laundry Detergent

Incorporate all foods (opened and unopened), any toiletries, cleaning supplies and laundry detergents into your household. Then they can start new and fresh next semester.


Encourage them to take a few extra minutes to sort and purge before they unpack and/or pack away their clothes. Begin by taking a hard look at the clothes they did not bring to college. Generally, these are clothes they don’t like or don’t wear as often, and it just may be time to donate. Next sort like with like. Then ask the following questions to help your student sort and purge before storing away:

  • Did you wear it this semester/year/season? If you didn’t wear it last semester or season, you probably won’t wear it during the next semester or season!
  • Does it fit? If not, is it within a reasonable number of size ranges of your current size?
  • Do you love it? Is it still in style? Is it YOUR style?
  • Is the item in good condition? Does it have stains or tears or is it too worn?
  • Does it need mending? If so, will it realistically be mended?
  • How many do you currently own of this type of item? How many do you realistically wear or need?
  • Where would you like to donate the clothes you haven’t worn? Carroll County friends, check out this Renew, Reuse, Recycle link to some local possibilities.

Before storing away clothes, be sure to take the 3 simple steps of clothing storage, Clean, Contain, and Repel to protect them. Read more at a previous blog post,  “The Great Exchange”.

Linens and Bedding

Use the same 3 simple steps of clothing storage; Clean, Contain, and Repel, and store linens to be used next semester in a clearly labeled container. Incorporate any other linens into your household, or donate to a worthy cause.

Microwave and Refrigerator

Clean out the microwave and refrigerator, and any other appliances, before storing them away for next semester.

Before packing away the crates and bins of clothing and supplies, be sure that everything is clearly labeled.  I love, love Post-it and 3M removable and self adhesive labels . They allow you to quickly and easily label boxes and bins, while giving you the flexibility to change labels often. They come in a variety of sizes and colors.

Not only will you be taking steps to keep your home organized, just as important, you will be helping your student(s) learn and practice organizational skills, that they will use for a lifetime.

Yes, this hits close to our home! We had 3 college students move in within a 2 day period last week, and 2 will be heading out for the summer next week. It truly is a revolving door!

Happy (and Organized) Living and Moving!


“The Revolving Door” was originally posted in May 2010.

Your Trash, Their Treasures

I am currently working with a client to organize her craft room. Now, she is a crafter from way back. She is a women who has seen trends and styles come and go, and has been in the forefront of many of them. Aside from crafting for her own enjoyment, Ruth is a craft teacher to many, a mentor to some and a Stampin Up representative to the masses. If you are in need of any Stampin Up supplies, Ruth can be reached at 410.751.8818.

She keeps up with the changing times, and so do her craft supplies. Over the years, her craft supplies have managed to take over her craft room. Despite the fact that Ruth is an organized soul, and had some great organizational systems in her craft room, the space had become unruly.

During our first organizing session together, Ruth was able to part with many craft supplies that have become obsolete to her. This truly is the 1st and most essential step in any organizing project.

Treasures Ready for Donation

You can’t organize clutter! And clutter is anything that you don’t love, anything that doesn’t bring you joy, or anything that you simply don’t need or use anymore. These are items that can be in perfect, pristine, and wonderful shape. They may be “in style” and current. But, if YOU don’t love them, if they don’t bring YOU joy, or if YOU can’t use them anymore, they become your clutter.

Ruth donated specific items to specific friends who she knew could use and would want them. Other items were boxed up for Goodwill. Finally, we had several boxes filled with art and craft supplies that she donated to Elmer Wolfe Elementary School. These included items that could be used for arts and crafts, as well as items that could be used as teacher prizes.

Both the teachers and the administration were thrilled and

For the hardworking teachers.......

thankful for Ruth’s generosity. The boxes were brought into the teacher’s lounge and the art and craft supplies were distributed to all. What an awesome gift Ruth was able to give the teachers at Elmer Wolfe Elementary School. Her trash truly did become a treasure and a blessing to others. Thanks Ruth for taking the time and the energy to bless another!

How might you be able to bless others with your “clutter”?

Happy (and organized!) days!


Paper Management, Part 1

Help, My Kitchen is My File Cabinet!

Take a quick look around your kitchen and dining room: the kitchen table, the counter tops, the buffet, and the surfaces of your refrigerator. Do you notice a re-occurring theme? Do you see the mounds of information needed to run your home and your life, spread hit or miss around your kitchen? Is the pile of junk mail, catalogs, and newspapers on your kitchen table blocking your view of your loved ones at dinner? If so, you’re not alone.

Do you realize how much paperwork enters your home on a daily basis? Most of us probably receive more mail on most days than our parents received in a week. We receive newsletters, magazines, bills, advertisements, million dollar offers, and letters, to mention a few. Along with incoming mail, many of us have school-aged children, who each bring home permission slips, completed work, tests to be signed, the dreaded fund-raising packets and letters from teachers and administrators. We receive the Daily Newspaper, and we carry in papers on a daily basis from work, meetings and appointments.

In my time as a professional organizer, I have come across a universal problem of overwhelming amounts of paperwork, and the resulting piles that usually end up in the kitchen. In our efforts to “Get Organized in 2010”, we will look at this all-too-common issue and outline simple solutions that can solve this problem and simplify your days.

Together we will create a plan of action. A place for everything and everything in it’s place! Clutter happens when we don’t have a place for something, or when it’s more difficult to put something away than it is to deal with it. The result is the inevitable cluttering up of our spaces and our lives.

As we create a plan for all the paper coming into our homes, we will ask ourselves some very basic questions:

  • Who needs this information?

  • Where will I/they need or use this information?

  • How long do I need/want to keep this information?

  • What time of day does most of this information come into the home?

  • Do I have time to put it where it belongs?

The truth is, the majority of the paper coming into your home will NEVER need to be looked at again!
“Man’s best friend, aside from the dog, is the wastebasket”.           Business Week

Remember this truth and always have your friend with you when dealing with paperwork. That’s the first and most essential step! Until next time, I challenge you to quickly recycle or simply throw out that which you don’t need, won’t use, or won’t read (despite your best intentions!). Make it a habit, and your piles may actually start declining!
In the upcoming weeks, I will be posting a 6-part Paper Management Series, which will simply outline what to do with all that paperwork. From developing short term and long term filing systems, to “junking all that junk mail”, to practical filing tips and tricks; all of which will help you to launch into a more organized 2010!

Happy (and Organized) Days!


It’s Time to LAUNCH into a More Organized Life!

Did you know that the average American spends nearly an hour every day looking for simple things? How sad! Think what YOU would do with an extra hour every day. It may seem like an inflated estimate, but let’s think it through a bit.

What do you typically spend your precious time searching for? Keys? Wallet? Shoes? Library books? School papers? Important documents? Tools? The list goes on.

Much of what we spend our time searching for includes items we need in order to get out the door. And isn’t that the most frustrating time to be searching? I’m sure you can picture it:

  • The bus will be in front of the house in 3 minutes, but first your sweet child needs to find their jacket and shoes, signed permission slip, gym uniform, lunch and library books. Chances are you just wasted 5-10 minutes searching along with 15-30 minutes in drive time, shuttling them to school because they missed their bus.
  • Your husband is getting ready to leave for work, but where are his keys, brief case, lunch and black belt? Just a few minutes late, and he’s more likely to be stuck in rush hour traffic. Precious minutes wasted in his day before it even begins.
  • You are ready to leave for a meeting, and had planned to run errands on the way home. You are now frantically searching for your brief case, the black pumps you wore Saturday night,  your grocery list and the library books that are due today. You run out of time, give up on finding the grocery list and library books, and head for the meeting, arriving just in time. Consequently, you add 30 minutes to your day having to run back by the house after work to retrieve your grocery list and library books.

Ok, now that you can relate to the problem, what is the solution? Part of the solution is the creation of a “Launching Pad”. It’s a place within your home that you designate as THE place to put anything you will need as you leave your home. It can include your keys and purse, library books to be returned, and the little neighbor’s  sweat shirt that was left at your home last week. Also, items such as your grocery list and errand plan, store returns and your PTA file needed for the next meeting.  You get the picture.

You tend to have a “Launching Pad”, whether you consciously plan to or not. Without a plan, your Launching Pad tends to be your kitchen counter or table, again adding to your kitchen clutter. So take a few minutes and think through a logical place for your launching pad, preferably near the door that you normally use. You could designate a kitchen cabinet near your “Quick Access Files”. Or you could designate a shelf in the laundry room, if it happens to be near the door. Be creative and look around your house for space that is available and makes sense.

This same concept works beautifully for your children. Create a place for them to keep their coats, shoes, backpacks and anything else that they may need as they walk out the door for school. This space could include hooks for coats, cubbies for shoes and larger cubbies for backpacks.

Hooks and Shoe Cubbies

Hooks and Shoe Cubbies

We actually have a small “Launching Room” in our home, with space for our children’s as well as our own coats, shoes, backpacks and other items coming and going out of our home. We were able to customize this space with labels for coat hooks and cubbies for each child. This both simplifies and organizes, saving many minutes and ultimately hours of search time.

Cubbies for the Kids

Cubbies for the Kids

In my previous post, I recommended creating “Quick Access Files” which will enable you to quickly find all those bits of information that you need often. The Launching Pad perfectly compliments the Quick Access Files!

Later this month we will look at creating a simple, yet effective long term filing system. If you can’t find any document within a minute’s time, your filing system is not as effective as it could be. Having an easy and effective long term filing system is yet another time saver.

Have Happy and Organized Days!



Quick Access Files…….Don’t Live an Organized Life Without Them!

Last time in “Help, My Kitchen is My File Cabinet”, I referred to the universal problem of overwhelming amounts of paperwork, and the resulting piles that usually end up in the kitchen. Part of the solution to this problem is the creation of Quick Access Files.

Quick Access Files are just that– files that you need to access often and quickly. Don’t let the word “file” in “Quick Access Files” throw you. These are files containing different information than we generally keep in our regular “Filing Cabinet”.

My Personal Quick Access Files

  My Personal Quick Access Files


To create “Quick Access Files”, gather up all the bits of information lying around and plastered to your kitchen. Then separate them into logical categories. Because each of our lives and habits are different, so too will be each of our Quick Access Files.

You may end up with:

  • A file for each school, which will hold current phone lists, school calendars, announcements, and newsletters
  • A file for every sports team or club
  • A file for volunteer organizations, which will hold current phone lists, announcements, schedules and newsletters
  • Or, you may choose to create a file for each family member in which you can place all the information from each school, club or organization
  • A “doctor/dentist” file with contact information, directions and appointment cards (which you will drop in the file AFTER you write it on the calendar)
  • A file for prescriptions which can hold patient information for any current prescriptions that your family members are using
  • A file for take out menus
  • A file for parties and invitations (which you drop in AFTER you write on the calendar)
  • A file for coupons and gift cards

For many of these categories you will also have a file in your regular file cabinet. For instance, each child will have an “Education” file in your regular files in which you will put all their permanent records, report cards and testing information. Each family member will have a “Medical” file, which will hold immunization records, surgery, allergy and all permanent medical records.

These papers, invitations, schedules, announcements, appointment reminders and take out menus in your Quick Access File will generally be  used for a season and then discarded or updated. At the end of a school year or sports season, for example, most of the contents of the Quick Access File will be discarded. Any important information or documents, however, will be added to your regular long term filing system, and your Quick Access Files are ready for a new season!

Several of my clients have been hesitant to create a Quick Access File because their spouses didn’t like the idea of a file box setting out in the kitchen or family room. You may kindly suggest, to these well meaning spouses, that a small, nice looking file box (think compact and attractive) looks much nicer than a pile of papers in disarray!

Check out some of these links for ideas.  Be creative!

Happy and Organized Days!



Twitter Updates

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Follow inorderforlife on Twitter

Visit In Order for Life's Facebook Fan Page!

Click here to check it out!

NEW Home Learning Parties!

Organizing Just Got Fun!
Now Scheduling Home Learning Parties for Summer 2011
Gather your friends, choose a topic, learn, simplify AND earn free and half priced products from the Clever Container Company! To schedule your party, call Cheryl at 410-259-1466 or email

My Favorite Things

Click here for my collection of favorites links for organizing products and other useful sites.

Reuse, Renew, and Recycle

Click here for useful tips and information to assist you in being environmentally friendly!

Proud Member of:

National Association of Professional Organizers