Have you ever invested time and money into getting your home or office organized but over time it goes right back to where you started? Perhaps a friend or co-worker has helped you get organized but even with their great ideas, the organization doesn’t stick, or it may be even worse than when you started.
Don’t get discouraged; there are some simple tips on how to avoid organizing pitfalls and challenges all while creating the best organizational systems that will last.
In celebration of January’s Get Organized month, Certified Professional Organizer Diane Albright shared tips with WFMZ-TV’s news anchor, Eve Tannery, on how to create the best organizational systems and avoid organizing mistakes.
TV segment – please come back to view once segment has been posted online.
How to Create the Best Systems for Staying Organizing
Mistakes to Avoid When Getting Organized
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If you are going to invest time and perhaps some money in getting organized you’ll want to create systems that will last. Put some thought and planning into the systems before you set them up. If you follow the recommendations below, you’ll be well on your way to creating some of the best organizational systems, whether at home or work.
1. Creating Organizing Systems that Work
When setting up an organizational system, make it so it is easy for everyone else to use it. Don’t set it up with you in mind only; that is unless you want everyone dependent on you when they are in need of locating an item. So whether at home or at work, the system should require little or no instruction for others to use and preferably be self-explanatory. That insures everyone else can easily find what they are looking for.
At work, set up systems so co-workers, your boss or your assistant can easily locate what they need when you’re not available. This way if you are off work for a sick day or vacation you won’t get texts asking where something is. Your office can continue functioning without you, decreasing the amount of work left for your return.
To set up the ideal organizational system, create categories and use labels to identify the categories. Remember, the categories need to make sense to everyone else. Labels will identify where to find something and where to put it back. Keep in mind we use 20% of our things 80% of the time. Therefore, labeling will help you too in finding the less often used 80% of what we have!
2. Create Broad Categories and Label!
When creating categories, select broad categories that are general. Don’t create categories that are overly specific.
If you’re labeling a pantry, label a shelf “Drinks” not “Soda”. This way if you fluctuate between drink types you’re still good, now and in the future.
If you’re creating a file folder for you dog, don’t label the file folder “Fido” or “Dog.” Instead use a broad category like “Pets.” This way you’re covered if one day you have a cat or rabbit. Use the same methodology when creating a file folder for your car. Don’t label it “BMW” or “Van.” Instead use the title “Auto.” These broad categories will make it easy for family members to find the file.
3. Use Alphabetical Order or Color order When it Makes Sense.Within a category consider using alphabetical order or color order if will help in locating an item quickly. For example, in you clothes closet keep your clothes in color order within a category such as pants or tops. As far as alphabetical order, put your spices in alphabetical order in a drawer, or alphabetical groupings on a Lazy Susan. In both of these cases, the color order or alphabetical order is simple and requires no memory of how the system works.
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7 Mistakes to Avoid in Getting Organized
Nothing can be more frustrating then spending time on getting organized only to find that over time it returns back to the way it was. There are common mistakes made in getting organized – most often because you tried to hard. When getting organized at home or work, remember to set up a system that will work for everyone in your environment – not just you. You don’t want to be the only one who can understand and use the system. Seven common organizing mistakes are below.
1. Be Careful with Color Coding Files
Use caution when color-coding. When setting up a filing system don’t color code with file folders. The only color you will probably remember is green for money. If you can’t remember the color-coding, how will others remember it?
It is okay to use simple color-coding. For example, you may want to designate files that belong in one location. You can designate them by using two different colors, one color for each location. This way it will be very obvious when a file was put back in the wrong place.
You also can designate important files versus unimportant files. Important files can be red. A good rule of them to keep it simple is to use no more than 2 colors.
2. Getting Rid of Air Space, aka Wasted Space
Don’t fall victim to thinking that all items of the same category have to be on the same shelf. If you do, you may have air space or wasted space above them. For example, if you place baking items on a shelf and you place a bag of flour and box of baking soda on the same shelf, you’re definitely going to have some wasted space above the baking soda. If you find considerable air space, you may want to get rid of it by making some easy adjustments.
To understand the concept, think of the soda isle at the grocery store. All Coke products are not on the same shelf or row. Instead, all Coke products are in the same column. You’ll find each shelf, or row, with soda of the same height. All 2-liters of soda are one shelf. All 22-ounce bottles of soda are on another shelf. All soda cans are on yet another. This way there is no air space or wasted space above the different heights of Coke or other sodas.
To maximize storage space, always choose pullout shelving over stationary shelving. With stationary shelving you need to leave space above items to see and reach to the back. With pullout shelving you do not need to leave any space. You will be able to put in more in pullout shelves than with stationary shelves.
3. Don’t Buy Containers
When taking on an organizing project, don’t buy containers before you begin. You’ll need to sort and purge to determine what and how much you have left to organize and containerize.
4. Don’t Let Your Giveaway or Recycle Pile Stay
The first step in getting organized is to purge and get rid of what you don’t need or want. Designate two bags or boxes as giveaway and recycle. But more importantly, make a definite plan as to when you will be dropping these off. A common pitfall is letting the giveaways and recycling sit in a room or garage. If you need to, designate someone, a family member or friend, to see it through.
5. Organizing Takes More Time than You Think
Divide your organizing project into achievable segments. Don’t pull everything out of your garage or clothes closet and think you will get it all done. Before you know it, it’s nightfall. The car needs to go in the garage, but there still is stuff that you pulled out and put on the driveway. Or it’s time for bed and now you need to move your clothes from the bed to chair. Your organizing project looks worse than when you started.
To avoid this common pitfall, first decide the area you want to get organized. Then, determine how much time you have or how much time you can realistically last working on organizing. Then decide what specifically you are going to work on and divide it into achievable segments. Keep in mind the first step in any organizing project should be to sort and purge. Then you will see what you have left to organize.
6. Hire Help or Take a Class
Realize that you’re not an organizing expert and that you can’t be good at everything you do. Your niche may be crafts or cooking. If it is, let it be just that. Some artists are born with the natural talent to paint. The same is true for organizing. You’re either born with the organizing gene (passion) or not.
Books on organizing may be great but most people have trouble getting organized from a book because there is no one to talk to and ask questions. If this applies to you, consider taking a class on organizing or hire a professional organizer. This way you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions.
There is so much to learn and know about organizing. Keep in mind, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
7. Organization Takes Maintenance
There are very few things that don’t require maintenance. Just like your lawn and laundry, organization requires maintenance. Your house or office is not going to stay organized unless you take the time to maintain it. For example, your file folders and clothes closet will be bursting at the seams if you don’t take the time to purge once a year.
Have a designated place for everything and put things back right away. If your life gets chaotic, stop and take a half-hour to put things away. For consistent ongoing maintenance to have a clutter-free home, consider having clutter patrol once a night. That means taking 10 minutes at the end of each day when everyone in the household goes around putting their things away.
The same techniques appliy at the office. Stop a half-hour before quitting time. Take 10 minutes to tidy-up. While tiding-up, create your to-do list for tomorrow.
Tags: color-coding files, how to get rid of wasted space, mistakes to avoid organizing, organizing pitfalls
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As a professional organizer and designer for custom pullout shelving, one of my favorite solutions is one that converts the unusable space in a blind corner into usable space. This creative solution gets rid of the black hole.
If you look closely at the photos I took in my client’s home you’ll see how it works. The blind corner solution consists of installing two perpendicular shelves on two separate levels each. We install two pull out shelves, one upper and one lower, to pull through the door opening. Then we install two pull out shelves, one upper and one lower, in the blind section that pull over perpendicular to the first.
When one of the pull out shelves is pulled through the door opening into the kitchen, the pull out shelf on the same level in the rear (in the blind spot) can be pulled into the space that was made vacant by the first pull out shelf after it was pulled through the door opening. It doesn’t matter if the blind spot is to the right or left of the door. We adjust the solution accordingly.
In a standard base cabinet, typically the upper shelf only comes out halfway causing you to loose storage space. When we install the blind corner solution we make our pullouts shelves the full depth and width of your cabinet maximizing your space to the full extent.
If you are interested in this blind corner solution, or any other pullout shelving solutions, feel free to contact me for assistance. You can reach me at Organize@DianeAlbright.com or call (610) 782-0636.
Tags: blind corner solution, custom pull out shelving, kitchen cabinet black hole
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TV News Segment – How to Simplify Laundry
View TV Segment: How to Simplify Laundry
Does laundry seem like a never-ending chore? Wish it was done and off your checklist? There is a simple way to quickly and efficiently get laundry done.
If you follow the system below, it will work! The first week or two will be the most difficult as you will be catching up on laundry from ages past. Don’t dismiss using the system until you have used it fully for 3 weeks – it will take that long until you see how wonderfully it works.
You’ll be following a very easy system of doing all your laundry on the same day each week or as close to one day as possible. Yes, it can be done! Once you start doing all your laundry on the same day you’ll be amazed at the amount it decreases. This happens because you’re getting it all done at once and it is then off your checklist!
Begin the process by removing laundry hampers from the different areas of your home, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. Then designate three laundry baskets, hampers or laundry bags – one each for whites, lights, and darks. Next, place these baskets or bags in a common area to the bedrooms of your home such as a linen closet or if you have to, in the hallway to get the process started. You can decide later on a permanent location. For towels, consider placing a hamper in the bathroom or nearby.
Announce to your family the new laundry system which will require each family member to place their soiled clothing in the appropriate basket according to color. It must be done daily, and should be done as soon as the clothing is taking off the body.
There are no exceptions to who does or doesn’t follow the system unless 3 years of age or under. If you have little ones (or big ones) that struggle with differentiating between what is white, light, or dark, consider placing solid colored stickers or ribbons to designate which colors go in each basket or hamper.
Next, determine a designated day that you will do laundry. Yes, just one day, not days! Monday is ideal and it cannot be stressed enough that Monday is the perfect day, whether your work or not. This way all the clothing is clean for the week.
Guess who else did all their laundry on Mondays? The pilgrims did! By completing all your laundry on Monday it will be done and off your checklist for an entire week, no more thinking about it all week long.
Skeptical on how you are going to do all your laundry in one day? Keep in mind that your laundry will already be sorted allowing you to “grab n’ go” with it. As soon as you rise on Monday, grab the basket or bag, put a load in the washer before you take a shower. Once out of the shower, put a load in the dryer and a new load in the washer. Working all day Monday? No problem! Put a load in the washer before work and then a load in the dryer as soon as you come home. Continue until done. To help with dinner, make a large enough meal on Sunday so there are leftovers for Monday!
If you have a frontloading or non-agitating washer you’ll find you can complete your laundry quicker. Clothing will come out of the washer with less moisture if washed in a non-agitating washer. Therefore it significantly reduces the drying time, in most case to 30 minutes.
You’ll find that you’ll have twice as many dark items in the winter and twice as many light items in the summer.
Your child plays a sport that requires a uniform.
Wondering what to do when your child is playing a sport with one uniform and two games a week? Do laundry as usual on Monday, but in the middle of the week do one load (of the color needed) to launder the soiled uniform.
Not sure your family will comply?
It is up to you to enforce it. A simple way to enforce it – if the clothing isn’t in the sorting hampers or baskets, it doesn’t get washed.
Nowhere to put 3 baskets or hampers for sorting?
Be creative. You can use 3 shelves in your linen closet or, if floor space is limited in your house, buy tall kitchen plastic garbage cans to use as hampers – tall ones take up less floor space. Don’t let finding space be an excuse to avoid getting started. Just put 3 hampers or baskets in the hallway or your room to get the system started.
Nowhere to put clean laundry?
It is not uncommon for laundry not to get put away because there is no available space in drawers or in the closet. Don’t let this stop you from doing your laundry all on one day. With managing your time better from completing all your laundry in one day, you’ll have time to purge your dresser drawers and closet of unused items to provide the room to fit the clothing you actually wear.
Now sit back, relax, and enjoy doing laundry just one day per week!
Happy laundering! View TV Segment: How to Simplify Laundry
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To simplify packing, first and foremost, don’t wait until the last minute to pack. A travel packing checklist is key and will make packing less overwhelming. Once the list is created, save it on your computer and also take a copy with you on your trip. During your trip, jot down any items you wished you had brought along. Update the list when you return and next time packing will be even more streamlined.
In travel preparation, review and edit your packing list at least 2 to 3 weeks before your trip. This will allow ample time to make needed purchases. If traveling out of the country, review the list 2 to 3 months prior.
No matter if flying or driving, packing a carryon with the certain items can make a substantial difference in your trip. If flying, pack your carryon with items that would be difficult or expensive to replace while away (contact lenses, bathing suit, etc.) as well as items you would need to comfortably get by if your luggage was lost such as a change of clothes, underwear, toothbrush, etc. If using our packing checklist, these essential items are indicated with an asterisk after them.
When driving to your destination, pack your “carryon” with essentials so you can enjoy your vacation the minute you arrive without the need to unpack your entire suitcase. In your “carryon” toss in your bathing suit, sunscreen, flip-flops, etc. You’ll be able jump into the pool or lake before the sun sets.
Quick and simple travel packing tips:
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