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Struggling with Weight Gain? Clutter May be the Culprit!

By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
January 3rd, 2017

According to a study by The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, people with messy or cluttered homes are 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. 54-year-old Nanette Cooley can vouch for the legitimacy of that statistic. On the Today Show she discussed how she lost 50 pounds after conquering the clutter.

The study “Clutter, Chaos and Overconsumption” had the same results. The study focused on how do cluttered, chaotic environments—such as messy kitchens—influence snacking behavior? How does one’s mind-set help prevent unwanted snacking from occurring? One hundred one female undergraduate students participated under standard-kitchen conditions or in a chaotic-kitchen condition. Participants were also asked to recall and write about a time when they felt particularly in control or particularly out of control. Finally, participants were given cookies, crackers, and carrots to taste and rate. Participants in the chaotic-kitchen condition and the out-of-control mind-set condition consumed more cookies (103 kcal) than did participants who were in the in-control mind-set condition (38 kcal). The chaotic environment had no impact on consumption of crackers or carrots. Although a chaotic environment can create a vulnerability to making unhealthy food choices, one’s mind-set in that environment can either trigger or buffer against that vulnerability.

Another study found that participants in a disorderly room, participants in an orderly room chose healthier snacks and donated more money.

As professional organizers, the results of these studies didn’t surprise us. We saw the trend with our clients for some time. Many of our clients that were faced with clutter in their home, had the tendency to be overweight.

We know that clutter or chaos can be debilitating. If you walk in the door from work and are faced with a cluttered environment, it’s easy to grab an unhealthy snack and putt off making dinner. Sitting down in front of the TV or going on the computer may also be coupled with the snack. The extra calories and sedentary choice, leads to weight gain.

We also found that those who had clutter family rooms or living rooms, fell victim to the same trend of weight gain. If our clients were embarrassed by their home, they didn’t invite friends over. With decreased socialization, the tendency to eat unhealthy and be less active followed.

So where to you begin to curb the clutter and curb the urge to eat unhealthy? First, take the time to think about why you are eating unhealthy. Is it because your kitchen is cluttered or chaotic? Or perhaps it’s a pile of papers that debilitates you or a cluttered family room that prevents you from inviting others over to socialize.

Once you determine the area of your home that is affecting your eating or socialization choices, make a plan to get that area organized. The key to success is breaking the project into achievable segments.

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Create the Best Organizing Systems and Avoid Mistakes – TV Segment

By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
January 11th, 2016

channel-_69_wfmzHave 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 

Happy organizing!
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Posted in General, Maximize Space, Media Appearances | 0 Comments »

How to Create the Best Organizing Systems

By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
January 11th, 2016

pantry_close_up_wide

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.

Happy organizing!
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How to Avoid Mistakes Getting Organized

By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
January 11th, 2016

7 paper-_folders_pileMistakes 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.

Happy Organizing!
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Posted in General, Maximize Space, Paper Management | 2 Comments »

End Paper Clutter with Neat®

By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
June 25th, 2014

End paper clutter! The Neat® Company offers a number of “neat” devices to help you go digital.

neat_deskThe Neat Desk® scanner allows you to scan business cards, receipts, and 50 sheets of double side paper at one time. The software in Neat Desk® identifies, extracts and organizes key information allowing you to send it directly to programs such as Outlook, Quicken, and QuickBooks. It is almost like having your own personal assistant.

Neat Desk® also brings scanned documents to life, using Intelligent Text Recognition technology to read and understand key information, then automatically organizing what it sees. The resulting digital files are useful and usable – easy to find, easy to access, and easy to share.

neat_connectNeat Connect® is a whole new way to get organized! Neat Connect® transforms paper into digital files and sends them straight to the cloud – without a computer. At home or at the office, NeatConnect sends your files straight to NeatCloud, the Neat mobile app, email, or to cloud storage such as Dropbox, Evernote, OneNote, Google Drive, and other programs.

You don’t need a computer to use NeatConnect®, because everything is driven by the easy, intuitive touch screen interface. From any room in your house, or any spot in the office, scanning is as simple as loading your paper, swiping through to your destination, and tapping Scan.

Click to learn more about Neat Desk® and Neat Connect®

Happy scanning!
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How to Spring Clean and De-clutter

By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
April 27th, 2014

Make de-cluttering quick and easy. Use our de-cluttering categories for sorting. Designate three boxes or bags: Giveaway, Throwaway, and Put Away. Print these de-cluttering categories and then fold to make “tent” cards.

The Giveaway box is for those items that you no longer need, wear, use, or want. Pass these items on to someone in need or to a local charity. When donating items to a charity request a receipt for tax purposes. If you are not sure how much your donated items are worth, view Goodwill’s Donation Value Guide.

The Throwaway box is for those items that are broken or too worn for reuse. Try to recycle these items. Click to find out where to recycle specific items in your community or learn recycling guidelines.

The Put Away box is for items that belong in another room. Wait until the end of your de-cluttering session to put items away. If you leave the room during the de-cluttering session you many never come back. Remember to save time at the end for clean up. If you don’t clean up, your project may look worse than when you started.

There is a fourth category that should be used with extreme caution. This only-if-absolutely-necessary category is Another Day. This category is for items that you know you should not keep but you just can’t let go of no matter how hard you try. You know, those jeans that haven’t fit in 20 years or a gift that was never on YOUR wish list but you are reluctant to part with. Toss these items into the Another Day box so you don’t delay the de-cluttering process. When you finish de-cluttering, revisit this box for additional tossing. Now that you are on a de-cluttering roll, you should be able to let go of items more easily.

Once you have de-cluttered, organize what you have left by creating designating places for everything. The system or places you create should be so simple and easily understood that it takes little or no instruction from you so others can quickly understand and follow. Label each designated place so you and your family members can easily locate items AND put them back. Labeling is the key to maintain organization.

Now that the de-cluttering process has been completed it is time for the actual cleaning.

Happy spring cleaning and de-cluttering!
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