Posts Tagged 'get organized'

Organized for Student Success – Part 1: Saving on Supplies

Organize. Plan. Save. Simplify.

The stores are telling us that it’s Back to School time. The “Start of a new year”.  In my little world it’s still the middle of summer. Enjoy. Go to the beach. Get back in the pool. Remember the Lazy days of summer? Try to find one before it’s too late!

No, it’s not time to go back to school, but it is time to get yourself organized, so when it truly is Back to School time, you will be able to ease into those hectic weeks with grace, being more relaxed, and with a little bit of extra cash.

Follow these simple steps to prepare for Back to School:

Gather ALL your school supplies…..from all corners of your home. Check the closets, the kitchen cabinets, how about your kids cubbies? Pull out last year’s backpacks, and dig into your child’s study area.  (Speaking of last year’s backpacks, have you set up a School Memory Box for each of your children? If not, check out my “Organize Their School Memories” blog for a simple, low cost,  solution to a common clutter problem.)

Put Like with Like. You truly can’t see what you have, and won’t know what you need until you take the time to put all of your office and school supplies together. Take the time to divide supplies into simple categories, such as:

  • Paper……….Lined, Computer,  Colored, Craft, Construction
  • Pens, Pencils, Markers, Highlighters, Crayons………….all things that write, draw or color
  • Notebooks, Spirals, Composition Notebooks, Folders, Binders, Dividers
  • Book Covers, Rulers, Glues
  • Calculators, Compass, Protractors
  • Backpacks, Flash-drives…………..And the list goes on…………

Assess What You Have. Now you have a realistic picture of the school supplies that are already lurking in your home. And you’re well on your way to knowing what you will need for the coming year. Perhaps you won’t need as much as you thought!

Be Realistic and Start Saving! Now that you know what you have, it truly is the perfect time to begin taking advantage of the Back to School  sales. Office supply and discount stores are offering some ridiculously low prices on supplies that in-coming students will be needing. Take advantage of the sales, but keep in mind…….

  • How much storage space that you have. You are not purchasing supplies for an army, just your family. Buy accordingly. Don’t purchase more than you can neatly store, or that will most likely be used in the coming semester (remember, the sales will begin again in December).
  • You probably haven’t yet received the official “Class Supply List”, although, unless your child is launching into their first year at school, you most likely have a good ideas of the basic supplies that will be needed.
  • Your local office and discount stores will offer excellent deals to get you in their store. They are betting that you will wander in uninformed, purchasing their incredible deal, but then being pulled into the Back to School buying frenzy, and buying more than you could possibly need. Shop with a list of your needs, and determine to stick to it.
  • Check out the sale adds so that you know what a great deal is.
  • Every week, every discount and office supply store will be having some incredible sales on school supplies. Take advantage of those sales that are convenient for you. Don’t go out of your way, wasting both your time and your gas, to get in on all the sales. Take advantage of the best. Forget the rest.

Happy Summer (and Organized)!

“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.

Spring Cleaning, Really?

I LOVE spring. I look forward to it all winter. Many things come to mind when I think spring: light, clean, cool, Easter, outdoors, sun, open windows, longer days, flowers, and……. SPRING CLEANING?

I LOVE the IDEA of spring cleaning and actually having every surface of my home clean at the same time! But, I must say, I have 5 very good reasons NOT to spring clean. 5 acres, 4 kids, 3 cats, 2 goats, 1 dog and only one life, and this life is ready to celebrate and enjoy spring! According to wikipedia, spring cleaning refers to the,

Yearly act of cleaning a house from top to bottom, which would take place in the first warm days of the year, typically in spring, hence the name.

In the past, homes were heated by coal and wood fires and come the end of winter, there was a definite need to open up the house and clean out, top to bottom.

I have the desire to have every surface of my home clean. But, I don’t want to spend my days cleaning, during what can be the most beautiful time of the year! So, what is the alternative?

Rather than cramming all your heavy cleaning jobs into a week or two in the spring, have a year long cleaning plan. Create a check off list of ALL the jobs you wish to accomplish throughout the year. Think of it as spreading your SPRING CLEANING throughout 12 months, rather than 2 weeks. Then set aside 30-45 minutes per week to devote to heavy cleaning. With very little effort, you have set aside almost 40 hours (45 minutes x 52 weeks) which, practically speaking, is more time than you would devote to spring cleaning anyway. And best of all, you have a clean house AND you are able to get outside and enjoy spring!

Throughout the year, do the jobs that make sense for the season.

Then in March and April do only your spring jobs. They might include:

  • We will be opening windows soon and getting outside, it’s the perfect time to clean the windows, sills and screens
  • Clean off the porches and decks. Pull out the cushions and deck furniture
  • Switch out fall and winter clothes for spring and summer. Take advantage of this time to purge and lighten your load.  Any clothes that you haven’t worn in the past season should be tossed or donated, depending on their condition. To protect clothes that are being stored, remember to wash them before packing them away and then, make sure they are stored in a clean, cool, dark, and dry place. It’s also the perfect time to take note of any clothing needs for next fall and winter and take advantage of winter clearance sales.
  • Switch out the snow suits, gloves and hats for the beach towels, goggles and suntan lotions.
  • Finally, get outside and begin your garden projects!

Enjoy spring AND a clean house!

Happy (and organized) spring!


Originally Posted April 5, 2009

Your Children………..Organized??

Oh yes, our children, organized!

Children. The very word can conjure up images of chaos and disorganization. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love children. I have 4 of them (who are all on their way to adulthood), and they have blessed my life beyond description. But, I also love order in my life. Can the two, children and order, dwell in the same home and life. You betcha!

You have an opportunity to learn how in Tuesday’s upcoming workshop!

Your Children, Organized!

Is your home overwhelmed with the overflow of  your child’s belongings? Come learn how to clear the clutter, reign in and organize the present and cherish the past. Learn how to set up a childhood memory box, create a school and art archive for each child, and learn creative ways to displaying and storing art work. We will also cover tips on reigning in and organizing clothing and toys.

When: Tuesday, November 9th, 10-11:30 AM

Where: Robert Moton Center, 300 S. Center Street, Westminster

Cost: $15

Sign Up Today! Call Carroll County Parks and Recreation at 410-386-2103 or Click Here for online registration

Happy (and organized!) Days!


Register Today – And Turn Your Piles into Files!

Westminster Workshop – Filing Basics for The Home — Monday, April 12th

From Piles..........

Westminster Friends: There is still time to register for my 1 hour workshop, Filing Basics For The Home being held on Monday, April 12th from 7:00-8:00 pm in Westminster. During this quick, one hour workshop, you will take care of a major source of clutter and stress in your home, as you learn the basics of file management. You will learn about the 3 types of files that comprise a complete filing system (quick access files, basic working files, and archive files), how to set them up, and just as importantly, how to maintain them. Finally, you will learn how to adapt these general principals to your specific household.

To Organized Files!

Come learn how to go from Piles to Organized Files in one night! You’ll be glad you did!

Register online with the Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks or call 410-386-2103 during business hours.

Happy (and Organized!) Days!          Cheryl

Paper Management, Part 2

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. A large 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. Quick Access Files are files that you will need for a season and/or you need to access often. They are filled with the papers that are otherwise taped to our refrigerator, stuck on the bulletin board or, all too often, piled up next to the phone or on the kitchen table.

Not Your Mother's File Box!

To create Quick Access Files, gather up all the bits of information lying around and plastered to the surfaces in your kitchen. Then separate them into logical categories. Because each of our lives and habits are different, each of our Quick Access Files will be different as well. 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
  • Or you may choose to create a file for each child in which you could place all their papers for their individual school, sports, and clubs.
  • A file for volunteer organizations, which will hold current phone lists, announcements, schedules, and newsletters
  • A doctor/dentist file with contact information and appointment cards (which you will drop in the file AFTER you write the appointment on your calendar)
  • A file for prescriptions, which will 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 the appointment on the calendar)
  • A file for coupons and gift cards

    Basic File Box by See Jane Work

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 place all their permanent records, report cards and testing information. Each person will have a Medical file, which will hold immunization records, surgery, allergy and all permanent medical records.

The papers, invitations, schedules, announcements, appointment reminders, and take out menus in our Quick Access File are generally 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 or permanent information or documents, however, will be added to your regular long term filing system, and your Quick Access Files will be ready for the new season.

With the addition of just a few categories, with corresponding files, you will have a complete system to deal with your mail on a daily basis.

  • To Do
  • To Pay
  • To File (anything that simply needs to be transferred to your long term filing system)

Now that you have created your own Quick Access Files, I suggest that you keep them in your main living area, which is usually the kitchen or family room. This is generally the place that you bring in and drop your mail, you walk in with files and papers from meetings and appointments, and your children bring you papers to sign, fill out and file away.

I have heard people say that they don’t want a file box sitting in their living area. May I kindly suggest, that a small, nice looking file box (think attractive and presentable) looks much nicer than a pile of papers in disarray!

Check out some of the links to file boxes and files in this article, or find your own. Be creative. There are 100’s of options available in every style. Find your own style.

A Cool Vintage File Box

If you have ever worked with me, attended one of my workshops,  or followed my blog for any length of time, this concept is not new to you. If you already have Quick Access Files, the New Year is the perfect time to revamp them.  Simply sort through each file and:

  • First of all; decide if you still need each file

    A Beautiful Alternative to Manila!

  • Toss any obsolete information
  • File anything that should be transferred over to your Permanent Filing System
  • Determine if you need to add any new categories – (do you have any new information hanging on the fridge or piled up on the kitchen table?)

It’s the perfect time for a fresh start!
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!


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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

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