Sunday, November 28, 2010

Photos Under Control

The picture below is pretty typical of most homes I visit. Memories are stashed away in boxes and bags and you can't lay your hands on the one photo your want for the upcoming wedding or memorial service. The photo collection has grown too large to even begin to try to organize it.

This is a case where technology can be your friend. If you scan your photos, when you import them into your computer the organizing possibilities are limitless. The same photo can go into multiple albums. A photo of Cousin Ryan at the Coliseum can go into albums for Summer Vacations, Italy, Family, Ryan, etc. And sharing them with friends is easy and free by posting them on-line or emailing them.

You may be tempted to balk at paying for scanning but ask yourself how much you spent developing all those pictures in the first place. It is wasted money if you can't find the photo you want. And scanning them on a home scanner would take a lifetime.

The service I like for photo scanning is They have a pre-paid box that holds about 2,000 photos. Just put them in size order and in no time at all the pile above will be reduced to a single CD.

For slides I had great results ScanCafe.

When you get your order back, hard as it may seem, toss the originals. And then enjoy your new free space.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fall Garden De-cluttering

Although her tools were neatly organized, this avid gardener spent too much of her precious time roaming her yard looking for just the right pot for each plant. They were stashed under the eaves in random places around the house. Here they are mixed in with compost piles.

In less than an hour we gathered all the pots from around the yard and put like with like for an easier gardening experience. We stored the various bags of potting soil in a large garbage container and put it all next to the compost pile. Now everything is within easy reach for the next potting job.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hello Fall!

Its time to put your warm weather clothes away and get out your winter ones. 

If you used the the hanger trick this is where it comes in handy. Remove the items on the backwards hangers. Then inspect your winter clothes for wear and fit. Those that don't make the cut can join your summer rejects for donation or re-sale.

To make the spring wardrobe switch easier, be sure to use the hanger trick on the clothes you keep. 

Here' s a testimonial from Lisa in Menlo Park:

Every time I opened my closet I was filled with dread. I couldn't make decisions about what to wear every morning, because nothing was organized and a lot of it didn't fit. I used to really love coordinating new outfits and felt good about how I looked when I left the house in the morning. But dressing became a chore, and my outlook and appearance was beginning to reflect it.

I had moved and downsized and had tough decisions to make about paring down my wardrobe. Indecisive and reluctant to face reality, I actually had a rack of clothes in my bedroom and was using part of my daughter's closet. I also had gained weight and was storing three or four sizes of clothes -- wishful thinking! It just added to the clutter. Normally a decisive person, I was having a difficult time parting with quality clothing that seemed in good shape. But I was no longer able to judge what looked good. Procrastination ruled and my closet was a mess for almost two years.

Enter Catherine, who was frank about outdated styles. (Shoulder pads? Gone. Ankle-length dresses? Gone. Clothes from the 80s and early 90s, out of there.) She also was not hesitant to tell me what looked good and didn't. And she was efficient -- tackling one closet section at a time, making huge progress in one hour increments.

We separated everything into piles: Toss, donate, consign, and to accommodate my real reluctance, store in the garage my favorite pieces until that day that a diet may actually get me back to a size 6.

I couldn't have done it without her firm guidance. Now, I can open my closet in the morning and have fewer decisions. I don't waste time digging through things that looked good long ago. I know what is there fits, looks good and I am starting to get creative again about outfits. It's a huge relief to look at a less cluttered, more organized space. The first step was admitting I needed some help!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Garage Miracle

You've seen them, people who have gads of organizing products from the Container Store and still can't find anything. Maybe you are one yourself. One reason I rarely advise clients to purchase organizing gear is that products do not make people organized. People make people organized. You can usually make sense of your stuff with what you have on hand.

Here is a big exception: Fast Track by Rubbermaid. Look at this garage! It is neat and things are up off the floor and easy to find.

This easy-to-install handing unit has tool-specific hooks you can add to it. This one is holding:
2 bistro chairs
1 beach chair
1 folding stool
1 long outdoor extension cord
1 weed trimmer
1 garden fork
1 shovel
2 leaf rakes
1 kneeling pad
1 hedge trimmer
1 stepladder
1 large framed camping backpack

And all in four feet of space!