Posts Tagged 'Home Office'

Organized for Student Success, Part 3: Organize the Student

An Organized Student is a More Successful Student

Give the students in your home every advantage by working with them to develop excellent organizational skills.

Organize Time and School Work

Help your student(s) develop a plan to organize their time. Most students will receive an agenda book. Hold your student(s) accountable to using it. Help them develop good habits. It takes approximately 21 days of constant repetition to form a new habit. Offer them grace, as you encourage them in forming this new habit. It will help them succeed as a student and they will learn valuable lessons of time management for the future.

Teach them organizing skills as you work with them to set aside specific places in their binder, notebook, or folders for homework, current work, and completed work. Many teachers will share their suggestions for organization with you and your students. Take advantage of their wisdom and experience. Finally, consider creating a file box at home to store completed work, filed by subject. When their binder or folders begin to bulge, they will have an easy and convenient place to file their work away, while still having quick access to it for future needs.

Organize a Study Area

Create an area in your home specifically for doing homework. This area should be will lit and quiet, with a work area and a supportive chair. It is also helpful to have storage for basic study helps and school supplies. This is the perfect time to inventory all your school and office supplies while reorganizing the area for ease of use. This is an easy process, which includes a few simple steps:

  • Think through how you want your space to look and function

    An Organized Space by PB teen

  • Empty out any drawers, cabinets, bins or files that are storing office and/or school supplies
  • Group like things together. Create sub categories such as; Art Supplies, Paper Supplies, Pens and Pencils, Notebooks and Binders, Office Supplies etc.
  • Toss or donate any damages or obsolete supplies
  • Return the “keep” pile to the space and think through what, if any, storage accessories or containers you many need
  • Finally, store often used supplies close at hand, while utilizing harder to reach space for seldom used supplies

Happy (and Organized) School Days!


Be sure to check out all of the articles in the Organized for Student Success Series;  Part 1: The College Years, Part 2: The Traveling Student, Part 4:  Organize Their Space, and Part 5:  Organize Their School Memories.

IKEA and Baltimore NAPO Join Forces

NAPO Baltimore Members

A great day was had by all this past Saturday as our NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) Baltimore Chapter joined IKEA Baltimore in offering customers  two simultaneous, mini seminars covering closets and wardrobe systems organization, and home office/home businesses organization. This was part of Get Organized Month  – a national event sponsored by NAPO each year that is designed to highlight the benefits of the association and working with NAPO’s professional organizers.

Cheryl Helping In The Closet and Wardrobe Systems Organization Workshop

It was the perfect partnership as our NAPO members were able to teach customers the “how to” in putting to work IKEA’s  excellent organizing products and systems.  IKEA is known for their stylish and affordable home and office solutions.

If you haven’t taken a trip to IKEA recently, it’ s definitely worth the effort. With 2 locations in Maryland (College Park and Baltimore), and locations throughout the USA (and world wide!), you may just find a store near you. Check out their store directory. If there isn’t an IKEA near you, try IKEA Home Shopping, where you can order online.

Their stores are filled with smart and affordable ideas to furnish your dream home. You can easily make a day of it for the family! Bring your kids and they can play in the supervised playroom while you shop or you may choose to try out the furniture together.

Cheryl at the IKEA - NAPO Baltimore Organizing Event

Don’t forget to fuel up on energy at the IKEA restaurant for a meal, a snack or just a quick cup of coffee. Their restaurants offers you a relaxing atmosphere and a menu that satisfy most every taste at a price that satisfies every budget. You will also find special kid’s meals as well as baby food. And on your way out, stop by the Food Market and pick up some traditional Swedish specialties.

Happy (and organized!) Days!


Organize in (Your) Style

I was recently in Santa Fe, New Mexico celebrating a special birthday. I visited a great store, KOWBOYZ , “A First-Class Second-Hand Western Store”, selling 5,000 pairs of new & happily used boots. It was pretty impressive!

Cowboy Style for Your Office

I LOVED their clever solution to organizing their desk. Kids cowboy boots put to use to round up their office supplies.

Boots, chaps and cowboy hats… nothin’ else matters.
Cowboy Proverb

Go, ahead. Get Organized. In Style!

Happy (and organized) days!


Blog a Job! 2009- Part 5 The Transformation Complete!

IMG_5441 craft area reduced

The Transformation Complete!

Let the fun begin! This is the last work session with my client, Becky, and her home office.

During our previous work sessions, we literally worked our way through the room and through many years of paperwork and accumulated clutter. We were working in a room, which lacked identity and purpose, and that made it way too easy to continually add to the clutter and chaos.

We were able to reorganize the past, disposing of everything that was not needed in the present and organize treasures and precious memories for their enjoyment in the future. We set up a current working filing system and archive files for storage. We sorted through many years of craft and sewing supplies, and were able to purge the useless and organize the useful.

As the process continued, we were able to define what tasks Becky wanted to accomplish in her office and therefore, which clearly defined zones would be established in her space. She was left with an area for books, crafts and sewing, her office area with her desk and current files and the closet which would store off-season clothing, gift wrap, craft and office supplies.

Becky is a creative soul. She is both vibrant and gracious, and she is overflowing with personality and style. She had decorated her office, but the style was literally lost in the clutter. Once we cleared out the clutter, we were able to edit some of her decorative items and were left with a stylish office space that is light, bright, and functional.

We were able to use much of what Becky already owned and therefore had to spend very little money on supplies, while creating her new space. Becky purchased the craft supply cart, jars for the ribbons on the shelves and some filing supplies.

It is my hope that by following the progression of this organizing job and the transformation of this space, that you are both encouraged and challenged to imagine the possibilities of your home “In Order” for “Life”!

Check out Blog a Job! Part 1, Blog a Job! Part 2, Blog a Job! Part 3 and Blog a Job! Part 4 for the complete story! Also, check out the Before and After Gallery for pictures of our progress from beginning to end.

Thanks Becky, for opening your home and your life and allowing me to be part of this transformation.

It has truly been a pleasure!


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Blog a Job! 2009 Watch a Professional Organizer in Action! Part 4

Today is paperwork day. Tedious and time consuming. But, it is oh so worth it! Investing the time into creating a simple and effective filing system is one of THE MOST BENEFICIAL organizing jobs you can accomplish. Think about all the paper lying around your house……..the newspapers, magazines, newsletters, school papers, bills, mail, invitations, the stack on your kitchen table (you KNOW you have one!), appointment reminders, and the list goes on! Now imagine your home de-cluttered and organized with no paperwork in sight, yet easily and quickly accessible. It IS possible. And the fist step in achieving this is to create and maintain a simple and effective filing system.

Becky and I spent four full hours setting up a filing system. Our first step was to organize both her and her husband’s past work files and clear them out of their office space. Becky worked in an industry, which requires her to keep business contacts and files for four years. These files will, most likely, never need to be accessed, and therefore, could safely be stored in their attic. Next, we organized her husband’s past files. Much of his paperwork and files have to do with his master’s degree and current teaching position. His files may need to be accessed occasionally, so they were organized and will be stored in the office closet. Out of the families current living space, yet still accessible. By clearing out the past, we created space for the present. Finally, we set up their family’s current filing system.

Check out my previous blogs; “Developing a Simple and Effective Household Filing System” and “Filing Tips, Tricks and Ideas“, for direction and ideas on setting up your own filing system. Or, feel free to shoot me an email at or give me a call at 410.259.1466 to schedule an appointment.

The secret to any good filing system is to keep it simple. Whatever system you use should make it easy to find what you need, be easy to maintain, and make sense to everyone who may need to use it. You should be able to retrieve any paper in less than one minute—if that’s not the case, it may be time to revamp your system. Then be sure to locate your files in a place that is easy to get to. If they aren’t  you won’t get to them!

The Shred Pile has grown as big as Charlotte!

The Shred Pile has grown as big as Charlotte!

Becky and her husband both had homework this week:  Becky was to bring her books to the library for donation, sort, purge and organize her memory bins and shred all her documents that had identifying information on them. Her husband was to sort, purge and organize both his past files and his memory box.

Check out Blog A Job! Part 1, Blog A Job Part 2Blog a Job! Part 3, and Blog a Job! Part 5, to read the complete article and to see the finished office space.  The fun is just beginning. Now that we have cleared out the clutter, re-organized the past, and decided exactly how the office space will function, we can organize the present!

Happy (and organized!) Days!


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Blog a Job! 2009 Watch a Professional Organizer in Action! Part 3

During this 4-hour work session, we literally began working our way through the room. We started at one end of the room and began sorting and purging everything into one of the following categories:

  • Trashkeep-relocate pic
  • Consign/Give Away
  • Relocate (move to other areas of the home)
  • File – Long term (will be moved out of the office)
  • File – Current
  • Office
  • Craft
  • Gift Wrap
  • Memories

As we were sorting, we came up with the following zones within the room:

  • Bookshelf
  • Craft/Sewing Area
  • Desk/Office/Files
  • Closet: Off-Season Clothing, Gift Wrap/Craft Storage, and File and Office Supplies

charlottes room picI mentioned earlier that it will look worse before it gets better. This is almost always the case. It takes space, energy and time to pull out everything and sort. But it is a necessity, before you purge. How can you begin to make decisions about what to keep, if you don’t truly know what you have? The answer is, you can’t! Becky and I were working in a relatively small office space. Therefore, it was necessary to spread out a bit. You will see photographs of us working in her daughter’s room which is located across the hall from the office. We also used the hallway for storage of our supplies along with bags, boxes and bins, which were being permanently moved out of the space.

At the end of the day, we had an even better direction of how Becky would like the room to function. We also had several huge bags of trash, several “relocate” bins and a gigantic pile to take to the consignment shop. It truly does pay to get organized!

I am often asked if I will throw out or get rid of other family member’s belongings. I always assure clients that it is my policy to only work with my their belongings. If there is ever a question about other people’s belongings, they are set aside in a pile or bin so that the owner(s) can sort through and make decisions.

I also don’t try to talk clients into getting rid of belongings. I do help them see the trade off (and there is always a trade off!). The reality is; more stuff = less space and less breathing room, while less stuff = more space and more breathing room. Generally by the time a client contacts me, they are tired of living in the midst of so much stuff, and are ready for change. The truth is, you cannot organize clutter. I love Flylady’s definition of clutter:

“Clutter is anything that does not bring you joy, you do not love, or you don’t need. Things that you use, love, and enjoy are necessary and important to have. Things that you have in your home that you don’t need or don’t like will have the opposite effect on you: they will make you feel negative and dragged down.” FLYlady

So, my job is to help clients eliminate clutter. But this is a process that we work through together. It begins by first helping clients identify what things they use, they love, and they enjoy. Then we figure out what to do with the rest. We don’t just “get rid of” the rest. We thoughtfully make decisions. Are there family or friends who might enjoy an item? Is this something that they might be able to sell or consign and make a few extra dollars? Are there people in need who could truly benefit from the donation of these items? When put in this context, most people are much more likely to begin the process of eliminating clutter.

As I work with clients, I suggest specific “homework”, jobs that they can accomplish on their own.  This can reduce the number of hours that we work together. Clients can, of course, choose to have me work alongside them throughout the entire process. The choice is theirs.

After this work session, Becky was left with the following homework:

  • Go to the consignment shop
  • Empty “relocate” bins and move to the appropriate areas of the home
  • Remove 2 extra file cabinets from the room
  • Purge and reorganize 3 “memory” bins
  • Purchase additional clear plastic bins for memories

During our next session, we will dive into the paperwork. We will begin to set up a family filing system. This is going to be a tedious and time-consuming task, but will both simplify Becky’s days and significantly de-clutter her office.

Check out Blog a Job! Part 1, Blog a Job Part 2Blog a Job! Part 4 and Blog a Job! Part 5.

Check out our progress in the coming days!

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Blog a Job! 2009 Watch a Professional Organizer in Action! Part 2

My client, Becky, has graciously agreed to allow me to “blog” her first experience working with a professional organizer. I thought it might be eye opening for you to see how the process plays out through an actual job.

Becky is a creative soul. She is one of the most vibrant and gracious people you will meet. She is overflowing with personality and style. This is going to be a FUN job!

Clutter Piled On Top of Important Files

Clutter Piled On Top of Important Files

We will be focusing on her home office space. Becky was a successful business women, who has now chosen to commit full time to the new job of raising her precious daughter (the darling girl you will see in the pictures). In the midst of the transition from the business world to the home world, Becky never made the transition in her home office.

She is an organized girl and has a beautiful home. But, she has a room. Many of us do. It’s the one place we “pile”. It is the “extra” room. It is the room that no one sees. Therefore, it is the room that we put anything and everything that doesn’t have a place. And it becomes THE room to accomplish many tasks. While accomplishing many tasks, it accumulates lots of stuff. That’s the reality of many of our homes and lives.

During our first meeting together, Becky shows me her home office, which is causing her stress. I ask many questions, attempting to get a feel for how she and her family work, what systems they currently have in place, and how we might improve on them or create new systems. At the same time I’m trying to get a picture of her vision for the finished project. How would she like this room to function? What tasks will be accomplished in this room? I take pictures, both to refresh my memory throughout the process, and to motivate us both along the way.

An Inefficient Work Space!

An Inefficient Work Space!

With this information in hand and pictures in my camera, I can begin to create a plan of action.

During our next appointment, the hard work will begin. Next time we will get down and dirty.

It generally gets worse, before it gets better. But, as you will soon see, the results are definitely worth it!

Check out Blog a Job! Part 1Blog a Job! Part 3 , Blog a Job! Part 4, and Blog a Job! Part 5

Piles and Bins and Tubs, Oh My!

Piles and Bins and Tubs, Oh My!

Check out our work progress next week!


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Blog A Job! 2009 Watch a Professional Organizer in Action! Part 1

Have you ever wondered what in the heck a Professional Organizer actually does? Will she take over your home? Will YOUR mess shock her? Will she work for endless hours, working you right into the poor house?

You have the opportunity to have your questions answered, as you follow Cheryl Osterhouse, owner/operator of In Order for Life, LLC, in action. You will be able to witness the progress of a “typical” organizing project through each step of an actual organizing job. You will see first hand, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Let’s start at the beginning. When I get a call from a potential client, I am sensitive to the fact that it has taken much nerve and often weeks or even months to pick up the phone and make that call. Why is it so difficult to make that call? Why do we assume that everyone should naturally be organized? We each have gifts, strengths, and areas in life where we naturally excel. Organizing may or not be, one of your gifts.

I think creatively when it comes to organizing. Otherwise, NOT! I have finally come to terms with this fact. I’m on our Women’s Ministry Team at our church with some ridiculously creative women. They can brainstorm and come up with ideas, themes and programs in no time flat. Myself, not so much. I could come up with fresh and creative ideas, but at too high a cost. So, they come up with creative ideas, and I keep us organized. It works.

Gardening is another area where I do not excel. I enjoy gardening. I love the IDEA of gardening. I feel like I SHOULD be a gardener. After all, I live on 5 acres with great potential for beautiful gardens. Again, I have come to terms with the fact, that at this time in my life, gardening just is not one of my strengths. I simply don’t have time and/or energy for it. It’s OK. The stakes are low. I maintain the gardens around my house, and let the others go for now. Maybe one day………

So, what if you are not naturally organized? What if you simply haven’t learned organizing skills? Or, more likely, what if, in the midst of your crazy, ever changing life, you haven’t had the opportunity to re-group and get reorganized? Well, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that the stakes of maintaining a disorganized home (and life!) are high.

Being disorganized costs you financially, in loss of time, and emotionally. NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) estimates that the average American spends nearly an hour every day looking for simple things. That’s for the average American. If you consider yourself “disorganized”, chances are you spend more than an hour a day looking for things. Think what you could do with that extra time each and every day. Aside from wasting time, being disorganized can quickly lead to financial loss as well. Do you find yourself paying late fees on bills that you had the money to pay, only because you had misplaced the bill? Are you purchasing duplicate items because you simply can’t find or don’t have time and energy to look for the items that you know are “around here somewhere”? Are you running to fast food restaurants and purchasing pre-made dinners from the grocery store, not because have want to, but rather because you have to?

Finally, do you feel burdened and overwhelmed by all the stuff surrounding you?  Are you unsure of which way to turn, where to start, or do you feel stuck?

Organizing is a skill to be learned. My favorite definition of organization comes from Julie Morgenstern in her book  Organizing from the Inside Out:  “Organizing is the process by which we create environments that enable us to live, work, and relax exactly as we want to. When we are organized, our homes, offices, and schedules reflect and encourage who we are, what we want, and where we are going.” That’s my job in a nutshell. I work with clients to create processes within their homes and within their lives, and at the same time, teach them the skills necessary to maintain those processes.

At times I am called upon to assist with a specific room, while other times it may involve the entire home. Occasionally, the request for help is in the area of time and life management. In each situation, the process remains the same. I begin with a visit to the client’s home, at which time they have the opportunity to show me, first hand, their current situation. I ask many questions, attempting to get a feel for how they work, what systems they currently have in place, and how we might improve on them or create new systems. I will then create a plan of action personalized for both their budget and style. Finally, we jump right into the work. We work together as we sort, purge, and reorganize, one area at a time. I usually suggest specific “homework”, jobs that they can accomplish on their own, reducing the number of hours that we work together. They may, however, choose to have me work alongside them throughout the entire process. The choice is theirs. Throughout the process, it is my goal to teach my clients new skills, giving them the tools and tips necessary to maintain their newly organized space.

My Brave Client, Becky

My Brave Client, Becky

So, come along with me as I work through an actual job, from beginning to end. My client, Becky, has graciously agreed to allow me to “blog” her first experience working with a professional organizer. I thought it might be eye opening for you to see how the process plays out through an actual job.  So, come along with us. Next week, Part 2 will be posted, showing the first stage of any organizing job, the in-home consultation.

Check out Blog a Job! Part 2Blog a Job! Part 3Blog a Job! Part 4 and Blog a Job! Part 5

Come On Along!


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Continue reading ‘Blog A Job! 2009 Watch a Professional Organizer in Action! Part 1’

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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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National Association of Professional Organizers