Archive for the 'Storage Solutions' Category

Organized for Student Success – Part 1: The College Years

An Organized Student is a More Successful Student

This is true whether your student is heading off to kindergarten or, like 3 students in our family, heading off to college. The better prepared and organized your students are as they head off, the more they are able to concentrate on the important tasks that lay before them.

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

Get In Order for Dorm Living

Pre-Pack Check

Before you even check out any of the Packing Lists below, it’s a good idea to check out your individual school’s policies. You can find on- campus housing policies both online and in the student handbook of most schools. Alternatively, feel free to call your campus housing office. Find out answers to the following questions before you begin packing

  • What are the dorm policies?
  • Which small appliances can you bring, and which should you leave at home?
  • How is your dorm room set up? What furniture is provided with your room? Is the furniture stationary, or are you able to move it?
  • What is your bathroom situation? Are you heading down the hall or do you have a private/shared bath?
  • How are you allowed to decorate your room?

Roommate Check

If you are sharing a room, be sure to check in with your roommate(s) before purchasing and packing the larger items that you will need. Dorm rooms are SMALL, and shared items can go a long way in freeing up needed space. Consider sharing items such as: TV, DVD player, Game Consoles, mini-fridge, and microwave. You may also want to coordinate who (if anyone) will be bringing a rug, curtain, etc.

A quick introductory phone call to your new roommate(s) can go a long way toward getting acquainted, starting your relationship off on the right foot, minimizing the stress of shopping and packing, and feeling more prepared.

Life Detail Check

  • Vital Papers – Prepare a small file box with important papers that you may need during the school year.  Create sections for: Banking, School Passwords and Information and Personal Documents
  • Medical Concerns and Health Insurance – Be sure that you are covered under your parent’s policy or purchase medical insurance that is offered through your school. Be sure to have copies of your insurance cards and your current physician’s contact information. Familiarize yourself with your school’s Student Health Center, services provided, costs and hours. Be sure to bring along any medications that you are currently taking.
  • Renters insurance . Most schools will advise you to carry renter’s insurance to cover personal belongings. Accidents happen and thefts do occur, even in the best situations, and generally your University will not replace or reimburse in the event of loss of personal items for any reason. It’s always best to be prepared. A small fee can cover you for several thousands of dollars of coverage.
  • Protecting Your Valuables. Along with taking time to get renters insurance, protect yourself and your belongings by labeling your valuables and electronics with your name and hometown. This can be as simple as using a permanent marker, engraving your name and hometown on your valuables, or going more high tech using assett tagging. A simple assett tagging package can be purchased very inexpensively. ReuniteIT by LoJack asset tags allow you to label your personal assets, so that if they are ever lost or stolen, finders can return them to you. Better yet, removal attempts will always leave a trace, immediately identifying the item as a probable theft, and reducing the likelihood that it can be resold or pawned. A quick google search of “Assett Tags” or “Property Tags” will bring up hundreds of other options.
  • Cell Phone and Internet Access. Check your cell phone plan and be sure it will accommodate your new living situation. If your going out of state, be sure you won’t be paying for long distance or roaming fees. If you will be texting more and/or use your phone to connect to the internet, be sure you have unlimited texting and online minutes. Keep in mind that most colleges do provide internet access to dorm rooms.
  • Banking. Take the time to call your school and find out which banks have branches on or near your college. Many banks reach out to college students and offer free checking accounts.  It’s a good idea to open a checking account at a local bank. You may want to consider getting a debit card and find out where your bank’s ATM machines are located to avoid ATM fees. But, be sure to take the time to consider a spending budget and the importance of avoiding unnecessary debt.

Packing Check

If you are heading off to live in a dorm, chances are your University has sent out a packing list. Use this as a guideline, taking into consideration your personality. Generally the lists tend to be organized into sections of *Bed and Bath,*Eat, *Study, *Electronics and Relax, *Storage, Tools and Organizing Helps, and finally, *Cleaning and Laundry.

Keep in mind, that it probably isn’t necessary to pack clothes for every season during your initial move. Depending on where you are heading, you may be able to bring home your summer clothes at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, and pack up the rest of your fall/winter duds. Then during spring break, switch out your winter for spring/summer clothes. Try to keep to your favorites, as this is what you will end up wearing anyway.

Finally, you know yourself. Don’t pack items that you won’t use (even if they ARE on every list!). Remember, “Less IS More”. There is a fine line between being prepared and over-stuffing your small space, your mind, your time, and your energy with useless items from home. I found a list entitled, “Top5Must-Haves” from a reputable and popular online college resource. My students used none of these “essentials” in their dorm room! Think real life and essential. The reality is that most students will have the opportunity to head out to the local discount store and pick up anything they need.

That being said, below you will find a simple packing list of essentials:

Bed and Bath:

PBteen Dorm Bedding

Bedding: sheets, blankets or comforter, pillow(s), pillow protector/mattress pad, book light

Bath: towels/wash clothes, toiletries, medicines, tissues

Bath attached to your room? toilet paper, bathmat, shower curtain, toothbrush/soap holder, bath cleaning supplies – don’t forget to coordinate with your roommate(s)

Bath down the hall? bath caddy, flip flops for shared shower, robe


Microwave/Refrigerator -remember to coordinate with your roommate(s), quick snacks such as granola bars & fruit cups, a couple mugs, cups, and bowls,  hot and cold beverage mix. Don’t forget that most likely you have a FULL meal plan.


PTteen Study Time

Organize your study office with PBteen Study Products

Books – if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to order textbooks. Check online. Many schools offer the convenience of ordering online and picking up at the school bookstore. Quick, convenient, and space saving! Bring along any basic resource books that you will use (dictionary, thesaurus etc), but don’t bring these items if you generally access this information online.

Computer- monitor and cable, printer and cable, computer paper and ink, surge protector and power strip, thumb drive. Most Universities provide black and white printing at the student union or library. Check with your school before dragging along your printer and printing supplies.

Basics – Day planner (if you don’t maintain online planner), notebooks/binders /folders, basic office supplies, alarm clock (to wake up for class!)

Electronics and Relax

Extra pillows/back rest, i-pod or mp3 player, headphones, stereo/cd player, gaming systems

Storage, Tools and Organizing Helps

PBteen Organize

Organize with PBteen Organizing Products

hangers, towel rack for the door/closet, extension cord(s), multi-plug outlet, sticky tack, a few basic tools, light bulbs, milk crates or wire shelves for storage, and a fan

Purchase, after checking out your room, or bring along a few organizing tools such as drawer organizers, closet organizers, shoe storage, shelf dividers, but don’t open until you are sure they can be used.

Cleaning and Laundry

Laundry: Laundry bag/hamper, laundry soap and dryer sheets, quarters, stain remover, drying rack, small iron/board (another item that can be shared with roommates – and only bring it if you will use it!)

Cleaning: Find out if a vacuum is available on your hall, basic disinfecting wipes will cover most other needs

Check out one or more of the lists below, but please keep in mind that you won’t need all of the listed items. I suggest checking out a few lists to jog your memory, but your best bet is to create your own lists of items that you actually use on a daily basis.

Checklist for Packing for Freshman Dorm at College

Off-to-College Checklist

SallieMae College Answers – Packing for College Checklist

College Moving Checklist from

Heading Out of State and Travel Space Limited? Watch for my next blog post; The Traveling Student”

Happy (and Organized!) College Days!


Be sure to check out all of the articles in the Organized for Student Success Series;  Part 2: The Traveling Student, Part 3: Organize the Student, Part 4:  Organize Their Space, and Part 5:  Organize Their School Memories.

Precious Memories

Precious Memories………….Treasures or Clutter?

Chances are, if you watch any television, you have seen this sweet Mother’s Day commercial of a daughter, Jenny, giving her Mom a Mother’s Day card. Jenny gives Mom a card and a hug. Mom goes into her home, takes down a small wooden box from a shelf above her desk,  opens it and takes out all the Mother’s Day cards that her daughter has given her over the years. You see Jenny’s handwriting change from a primitive scribble, to an adolescent’s writing, to a young woman’s script. You notice both short and sweet, and longer, more sentimental notes from Jenny. Finally, you see the note that Jenny has written on this year’s card, “From one Mom to another”, along with a picture of Jenny and her baby.  A proud moment for Mom, indeed. Precious memories treasured.

As much as I love the commercial, as a professional organizer, what I love most is the fact that Mom can actually find, look through, and appreciate the cards that her sweet daughter has given her over the years.

Too often, in our sentimental fashion, and in our attempt to savor and appreciate our memories, we keep every card, letter, photograph and sentiment ever given to us. As our piles accumulate, they become overwhelming and, by the sheer volume alone, become our clutter instead of our precious memories.

It is not unusual to find a scene similar to this picture, with boxes and bins filled with memories, haphazardly stored in the garage, basement or attic, simply because they had taken over the living space.

So, how do we keep our keepsakes and precious memories from becoming clutter?

  • Keep the most precious (and be willing to toss the rest)! If you hold on to EVERY picture, note, card, and memorabilia, the volume becomes overwhelming and you won’t be able to enjoy any of them. The idea is to pick the most meaningful, organize those beautifully, and toss the rest. That way, you can actually find and enjoy your memories.
  • Dedicate a specific space and container for your memories. You might have a specific memory box in your bedroom for cards from your husband. A special box in the family room for saving notes, cards and art work given to you from your children or grandchildren.  A few beautiful, well placed, magazine holders  on a shelf might do the trick.
  • Remember that your decision to keep or throw out a card or piece of memorabilia does not reflect a corresponding sentiment for the person who gave it to you!
  • Ask yourself a few questions before storing away that card, note or picture…….
    • Does it bring me joy, make me smile, and bring specific memories of the person who gave it to me?
    • Does it show off the qualities or personality of the person who gave it to me?

Baroque Storage Boxes from The Container Store

Basic Magazine Holder by See Jane Work

Handcrafted Wood Memory Box

Find a storage box that matches your personality and style. Something that you want setting out in your home. There are 1,000’s of options! Then, save and enjoy those precious memories!

Happy Mother’s Day!


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!



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Organizing Just Got Fun!
Now Scheduling Home Learning Parties for Summer 2011
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