Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

On behalf of the professional organizers at Wellrich Organizers, I would like to wish you all a very peaceful and joyful Christmas.  We wish you a day full of cheer and hope.

Carolyn, Chris and Jennie

Monday, December 13, 2010

Here Comes Winter!
Is it snowing in your part of the world like it is here in Toronto?  If you haven't done so yet, now is a great time to clear the garage and make room for the car - so it can overnight out of the snow.  Some quick tips:

  • Check that the sports gear still fits e.g. no point in storing a bicycle that will be too small next spring;
  • Put away the garden spades/shovels and put snow shovels close to where you will need them i.e. the side door to the pathway or the front door to the driveway;
  • Hang up on hooks as many tools and toys as possible;
  • Change to the snow tires and put away the all season tires;
  • Make sure you have a snow brush, extra anti-freeze and a winter kit in your car for winter driving. That kit could include a candle, matches, blanket, hazard sign and first aid kit.

Friday, December 3, 2010

When Good Enough is Just Perfect

Organizing is about balance: enough stuff - not too little, not too much; enough stuff in your time available - not too little, not too much.  Its also about having the right stuff at the right time in balance with the priorities of your life.  As many of you know, I work with a significant number of hoarding clients.  Much of our work together involves helping them balance the stuff in their lives with other priorities.

So when one of my clients called to cancel our session this week in favour of supporting his family through his newborn grandson's critical state following a difficult delivery, I knew his priorities were in the right order.

The pictures we see of perfect, beautiful, organized rooms in magazines are exactly that: beautiful rooms designed to stimulate your creativity to apply colours, furniture, materials, tools and strategies in your own home.  As a professional organizer, I encourage my clients to see those pictures as inspiration - not a target.  We strive for good enough, not perfect.

The difference between perfect magazine pictures and a well organized home, are the wonderful priorities like new grandchildren that are so much more important than the stuff that can overwhelm our homes.  By getting a grip on the stuff, we make room for our other priorities; the grandchildren, the children, the friends.

I will keep my client's grandson and family in my prayers - his stuff can wait but will soon have to make room for that grandson to visit.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Chanukkah

Today, the beginning of Chanukkah, we would like to wish all our Jewish readers a Happy Hanukkah.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hoarders Among Us

People who hoard do not normally brag about their hoarding behaviour.  In fact, most of them are very private and often have not let anyone in their home for many years.

Professional organizers do not normally go public with the names of their clients ~ client confidentiality is a key ingredient and ethical imperative in the organizing business.

So this situation is really unusual.  I am currently working with Bruce Kirkland, senior entertainment writer for Sun Media.  Having been interviewed for an article on hoarding, the reporter, Rachel Sa approached Bruce about participating in a series of articles to publish our work in hopes that other people struggling with hoarding behaviour would see there is hope, and help, available.

I invite you to follow our work and Bruce's progress.  This is a very brave thing for Bruce and Rachel to do.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Unplug for the Holiday Season

I recently had an opportunity to appear on Breakfast Television (checkout photo #16) speaking on unplugging kids after the summer.  Many parents are increasingly aware of the amount of screen time their children have over the course of a day.  Think about it: TV, computer (in school, at home), IPOD, cell phone.  Add in there a movie or attempts to look up a reference at the library and a modern teenager could easily rack up over 6 hours of screen time without even trying (2 hours TV, 2 hours homework, 1 hour total IPOD, 1 hour total cell phone).  Considering the kids are only awake for 16 - 18 hours and are in school for 6.5 hours, that's a big chunk of their day.

Here are a couple of tips to get you started thinking about how to help your teenager control their screen time:

  • As unpopular as it seems, turn off the email alerts and FB or other social media while they are doing homework.  Multitasking has been shown not to be effective and it will take them longer to get the homework done (more screen time).  Instead, encourage your teen to take regular breaks when they can check in on the pack.
  • Insist that your teen take their cell phone out of their room at night and plug it in to charge elsewhere in the house.  This strategy is also helpful to get them up in the morning since that phone will give a snapshot of the pack status for the day as soon as they check their texts/BBM or whatever.
  • If it isn't already, consider moving your family computer to a public place.  The worst place for a teen to use a computer is in their room.  They will stay up until all hours.  This is not a life skill worth learning.
  • Help your younger teens book physical activity during the week that requires a disconnect from a screen.  Clearly this type of direction gets harder as the kids get older but once the pattern is set, and they have a habit of regular activity, they have learned a life skill that is worth hanging on to.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Brown Bag It! -- So to Speak

Do you ever wonder where your money goes? Or why your waistline just won’t shrink? The answer to both these questions may be found in your lunch bag. Yes, the one that has been pushed to the back of your highest shelf.

Grabbing a bite on the go responds to our need for variety, and convenience. While there are more healthy choices available, both the healthy and not-so-healthy lunch options are costly – in more ways than one.

Most people say they just don’t have time to prepare a lunch. So, a few suggestions for you:

1. Never underestimate the leftover. If tonight’s dinner will travel well, just pull out an extra food storage container when you’re putting away the extras and voilà, lunch to go. You’re ready for tomorrow, before the evening has drained your energy.

2. It’s not all or nothing. If the thought of creating a complete meal is still too daunting, start with the non-perishable snacks. Put some fruit, a granola bar, a few crackers, in a bag the night before. You won’t have to think twice as you walk out the door in the morning and you’ll be glad to have some healthy supplements throughout the day.

3. Insulated lunch bags. If you haven’t got one, treat yourself. The lunch bag is now a trendy accessory. To be absolutely sure your meal will be safe to eat, throw in an ice pack for added peace of mind.

Bon appétit!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Building Time: Multi Task vs Multi Layer

The question of whether multi-tasking works to increase productivity comes up frequently at our house.  What can I say?  I have a teenager.  This age bracket of our species has taken multi-tasking to new heights with ear buds, television, blackberry and homework all going at the same time.

My experience is that multi-tasking does not work well.  I define multi-tasking as participating at one time in two or more activities that each require our attention.  Thus talking on the telephone and typing a report is multi-tasking. Similarly making dinner while helping a school child with home work is multi-tasking; both require your attention in order to be completed.  If your attention is distracted from your task, it is unlikely that you will complete it well.  Your phone mate may perceive you are distracted or merely wait patiently for your attention to return to his/her question, the report may have errors.

Time layering or time deepening is a strategy that does work.  I define time deepening as organizing two or more tasks that do not require our attention to be accomplished simultaneously.  If many layers are being developed, only the top layer can take your attention while the other tasks are accomplished without your input or attention except to get them started.  Home managers have known this strategy for ages: wash the laundry and hang to dry - while drying, mix bread and leave to rise - while drying and rising cut beef/vegetables and set stew to simmer - while drying and simmering, knead bread and set to rise - while drying, simmering and rising, mend clothes.  Project managers differentiate between those tasks that must be accomplished in sequence and therefore are time and order sensitive versus those tasks that can be accomplished at the same time therefore layering tasks.

If you work from home you may already layer your time without realizing that you are using this strategy: put on laundry, take out dinner meat to thaw, set coffee to drip, turn sprinkler on lawn - pour coffee, set to work on report.  One hour later you turn over laundry, turn over meat, move sprinkler to back lawn, refill coffee and back to report.

You get the picture.  Try it.  How many layers can you build into your time? 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

If you’re the lucky family member making a turkey this weekend you must be making a grocery list as well. As you sit to consider everything that will make your gathering a success, take a moment to also consider the aftermath of the holiday feast.

Do you look forward to demonstrating your culinary expertise, night after night preparing turkey pot pie, turkey pizza, turkey à la king – whatever it takes – to free yourself from the bird?

Do you haphazardly shove everything into the fridge and forget about it, until the smell in your fridge makes it impossible to forget?

Or do you cleverly freeze your leftovers, only to toss them out months later when the ice crystals make them unrecognizable?

With a bit of planning, your holiday meal can be enjoyed beyond this weekend, without being a burden.

· Purchase clear storage containers, suitable for fridge or freezer
· Label and date the contents of each container
· Separate large quantities into meal-sized portions before freezing; when it’s time to thaw your food, you only pull out the quantity you need – instead of chipping away at a frozen block
· Give some away: after six weeks living on a university campus, your big kids are jonesing for some home cooking; send them back to school with a care package of some of their favourite holiday treats.

Whatever you plan to do this weekend, have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Memories can be beautiful, and then...

Like so many of us, I have increasing problems with memory these days.  I like to blame it on the heat, the fact I have a busy family or that my business as a professional organizer is growing and I too much to keep track of.  The fact that I am of a certain age is of course not relevant!

Here's a tip to help you remember a myriad of items: use the memo pad or notes function on your phone to keep track of miscellaneous details.  My teenage daughter uses it to keep track of her locker combinations.  One friend uses it to keep track of notes to himself.

As long as you can remember to check your memos you don't need to rely so heavily on that overtaxed and again memory.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I've just been given the latest issue of Wired magazine to read... "Look! There's an article about organizing in here!" Of course I wasn't surprised, as organizing touches every aspect of our lives. They've featured four room makeovers with a range of organizing ideas, from simple fixes to high-tech solutions.

In 'The Office' the use of rolling filing cabinets adapted well to the work habits of the owner. Using the label maker to identify both ends of power cords is an easy way to keep wires straight. My favourite tech solution is the Sony PS3 in 'The Media Room'. It removes the need for dusty shelf space to store all of those DVD cases!

Check out the July issue of Wired to read the full article on page 91, or read online at

Friday, July 9, 2010

Efficient Epicurean

There seems to be no shortage of ways to store spices. Among the most common are the carousel, the magnetic board, the bulk purchase in a baggy, and the store-bought jars that land on a lazy susan or wall mounted rack.

What happens when you don’t have the space for a sprawling display of your spices, or simply prefer to keep them out-of-sight and away from the heat of your oven? If you are forced to store your spice bottles in a manner that obscures the label, it can become time-consuming and frustrating to pick up each bottle, turn it around to see the label and return it to its rightful place, only to repeat the exercise with the next bottle. To save yourself some time, try labelling the top of the spice jar. It’s unlikely that the sides and top of the bottle will be hidden at the same time. You’d be surprised how easy it is to pull out a basket of spice bottles, scan the homemade labels on the top and find what you’re looking for.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Organizing Experiment

Organizing is an on going process, one that requires revisiting drawers, closets and surfaces often to keep our organization up to date with our ever changing lives. I've been going through this review process with my home office. I recently made the decision to move my desk from the second floor into the basement. This involved the physical relocation of my workspace but it's also been an opportune time to re-evaluate how I use that space.

I have a two-drawer filing cabinet that fits under my desk. When I moved downstairs I thought I would experiment and try positioning it on the right side, versus the left side where I've always had it. I've given myself a trial period to see what influences it may have on my workflow. I've since concluded that it's just not working for me. Today I'm moving it back to the left! This really does make the most sense for me, as I'm left handed and therefore the files are easier to access.

It's okay to try something, to see if it might change your workflow for the better. By trying a different layout I broke the pattern of how I had always done something. In this case I had already been following instincts that were correct. If something is not working for you, in your home organization, it may be time to try an experiment of your own. Change one thing. Move it from the right side to the left, or from a lower shelf to one at eye level. See if that one small change can make a positive impact on the way your space functions.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Plan a Picnic

This holiday weekend you may be looking to get outside to enjoy some summer sunshine. Consider organizing a picnic to share with a loved one, family or friends.

First, choose your location. It may be in a park, on the beach, or even in your backyard. I'm planning our picnic at a favourite spot, next to the sights and sounds of moving water.

Packing for your picnic will depend on how you will arrive, whether by hiking, biking or driving. Utilize a traditional picnic basket (though any basket will do), a box, backpack and/or cooler to pack food and picnic accessories.

Your picnic essentials may include:

1. A blanket. Consider the size needed to accommodate your guests comfortably or so that you may be able to lie down on it, if desired. Look for something water resistant to keep everyone dry if the ground is damp.

2. Plates, cutlery, and cups. It's preferable to bring reusable dishware along. Pack them into re-sealable bags or lidded containers to transport the dirty items home.

3. Napkins. They're always good for quick clean ups too.

4. Cool beverages. On hot summer days it's important to stay hydrated. So bring extra! Try freezing some of your water or drink in bottles, using them as freezer packs to keep food fresh until you arrive. As they slowly melt drinks will stay cold and refreshing throughout the day.

5. Classic picnic foods. Think about finger foods when preparing your menu. I like to keep it simple. I prepare a selection of pre-cut bread, meats, cheeses, and pre-grilled vegetables to allow my guests to make their own sandwiches. Fresh fruit is always on hand for healthy snacking. Watermelon is the classic choice. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to picnic foods. Tailor your menu to suit the guest list, bring your favourite dishes and enjoy!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Organizing Maintenance

I baked a cake for my husband on Father’s Day. I’ve had the recipe since 2003; it’s the first time I’ve baked the cake. Fortunately, it was delicious and will be made again. Two weeks ago I baked some oatmeal cranberry muffins. Horrible, squishy, chewy little lumps. Muffins into the green bin; recipe into the blue bin. This is especially disappointing because I’d had the recipe since 2000.
In my defence, my recipe hoarding began long before I was a Professional Organizer. I’ve learned a bit about my own behaviours since then: If I don’t make a new dish soon after acquiring the recipe, the likelihood of my ever making it diminishes with each passing day.
I have a great system for storing my recipes and fortunately, each piece of paper takes up no more than 1 mm of space. Fairly unobtrusive. But regardless of how little space my recipes need, there’s no point having a folder full of paper I will never refer to. My system is rendered ineffective if I don’t maintain it. Establishing the system is the first step. Using the system is the second. But step three, ongoing maintenance, may be the most important of all.
So, over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be getting reacquainted with the contents of my recipe folder. Old favourites will be returned to their labelled pocket. Recipes that intrigue me will be tried and judged. And those that make me think, “well, maybe . . .” will be immediately discarded. Because if I’m still on the fence, I’m never going to make it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Computer Filing Made Easy

Keeping track of electronic files can be a challenge even for Professional Organizers.  One solution is to let your computer do all the filing work for you.

Your computer reads files names from the left whether they include numbers or letters.  It will automatically file letters by alphabet.  Alpha filing is great when you have a few files so it is a good solution for folder names.

Consider labelling series of files such as minutes, agendas or regular financial reports by number and let your computer keep track of the order in which they ought to be files.  Try starting a monthly series of files with the numbers 1 through 12.  The beginning of your year - regardless of what month it starts - will always be at the top of our file list.  Using dates can accomplish the same thing.  If you have files that make up a series or are date sensitive, start the file name with the date rather than finishing the file name with the date.  Remember to put the yymmdd format so that the computer will file in chronological order.  Here are some examples:

  • 1 Financial Statements Jan 2010
  • 2 Financial Statements Feb 2010
  • 1 Minutes ABC School Council Jan 23, 2010
  • 2 Agenda ABC School Council Feb 18, 2010
  • 2 Minutes ABC School Council Feb 18, 2010
Let the computer do your filing work for you so you can get on with more important things!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Arrive on time, with everything you need.

Early, early morning is not my favourite time of the day. When I have an early appointment, like this morning, I want to spend every possible extra second in bed that I can. To do that I need to prepare ahead and organize everything that I will need to take with me.

Starting the evening before:

1. Confirm the time and address of your appointment. Look up the location on a map or print if necessary from an online map search.

2. Plan your route, with a possible alternative for those just in case scenarios. For example, this morning I was heading downtown on the subway and had to change my planned route due to a G20 security incident.

3. Calculate how much time it will take to get from A to B. Give yourself an appropriate buffer of time, depending on time of day. I calculated it would take me 40 minutes to arrive at my destination. I rounded up to 45 minutes and decided to try and arrive 10 minutes early. This gave me a definitive time that I had to leave by. By planning ahead I was able to make it to my appointment on time, even with the delay on route.

4. Pack your bag with everything that you will need. For me this included a charged cell phone, a refillable water bottle, a snack, and documents required for my appointment. For regular appointments consider having a bag reserved and always prepared with the basics you'll need.

5. Set your alarm time to accommodate your basic morning routine, and to get you out the front door at your definitive departure time.

Now, when the alarm goes off early, early in the morning there is little stress knowing that everything is ready to go.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Now You See It, Now You Don't

Have you ever looked at something, without really seeing it? I recently discovered that our dishwasher has a Delay button. We’ve had the dishwasher four-and-a-half years. It wasn’t until reading the manual that accompanied my mother’s new dishwasher, that I even realized dishwashers have a Delay button.

I’ve heard of washing machines having a delay feature. While I marvelled at the idea when I was first aware of it, I quickly started to wonder how that would be useful. Now that Time-of-Use (TOU) billing has been rolled out by my electricity provider, I get it. The benefits are two-fold: I can load my dishwasher after dinner, but set it to run when the lowest rate is in effect and I no longer wake up to a dishwasher full of dirty dishes, because I forgot to press Start before going to bed.

Mornings are better when I can focus on the things needed for that day. Who wants to start their day washing dishes that should have washed themselves, while trying to get breakfast on the table? There just isn't enough time for that in the morning.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

That Darn Paper

With the recent downsizing of my own parent, and the move of my SO to working from a home office, our house has a few too many boxes stashed in a few too many places.  SO and I have been making a serious attempt to empty, sort and purge the contents of those boxes.  I've become my own organizing client.  And just like everyone else, it is easier sorting someone else's stuff.

This week we tackled a backlog of paper.  What a surprise I had to discover, as we fought for any extra storage space we could find for SO's business files, many inches worth of old investment statements that were more than just a few years old.  Since many of the statements are available online, and they usually send us quarterly statements anyway, we chose to shred.  And shred.  And shred. Our recyble bin will be full this week.  Our filing cabinet has extra space and even a few shelves were liberated.  Goodbye paper.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Zoning does not pertain to city planning alone. This term is often used by interior designers when trying to delineate functions within a multipurpose room; the same concept can be applied to organizing. And guess what, you’re doing it. You may not realize it, but you’re zoning.

Manufacturers of kitchen appliances and accessories make zoning suggestions. The presence of a dairy compartment, crisper drawers and meat drawer are examples of zoning. If you use a cutlery drawer insert to separate the knives, forks and spoons, you are following the principles of zoning. Whenever a large space has been divided into smaller spaces, each with an intended function, zoning has occurred.

To achieve order and improve efficiency throughout your kitchen, continue zoning. With assorted containers and a bit of analysis it can be done. The greatest challenge will likely be indentifying your zones. Try these on for size: snacks, breakfast foods, hot drinks. Then keep on going. All items that belong within a category should then be placed together on a shelf or in a container. There are no right or wrong categories. It’s just about you, the contents of your kitchen and how you and the people you reside with use the space.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Alternatives To Plastic Bags

We’ve talked about recycling plastic bags but there are other approaches to keep your plastic bags from overflowing – reducing your plastic bag use with reusable containers. From cloth and nylon bags, to boxes and baskets, or backpacks and push carts there are many alternative ways to reduce the number of plastic bags accumulating in your home. The less you have the easier it will be to stay organized.

My favourite plastic alternative is the compact style that easily rolls up or folds into a pouch. I carry one or two of these in my bag. This way I’m always ready to say, “No thanks, I don’t need a bag.” For larger shopping trips, like the grocery store, collect a few reusable bags ready for the task. Reusable boxes or baskets are a great alternative to bags if you shop by car. After you unpack your groceries return your bags, boxes and baskets to the trunk, so you won’t forget them for the next shop! If you shop by walking through your neighbourhood consider utilizing a backpack or a push cart with reusable boxes layered inside.

The best part about plastic bag alternatives is the choice. You can customize your bags and boxes to compliment the type of shopping that you do regularly, choose your favourite colours and style. Have fun with them and get creative. I would love to hear from you about your favourite plastic bag alternative.

If you would like to see some examples of plastic bag alternatives visit Please note this is a US based site, but they showcase several bags that may be available in your local area. In my neighbourhood several stores carry the Envirosax ( and Reisenthel ( brands. Whenever I can I try to shop local and support my community retailers.

Toronto Retailers

1934 Queen Street East Toronto

542 Danforth Ave Toronto

628 Queen Street West Toronto

2329 Yonge Street Toronto
See website for additional locations:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Riding Boots RIP

Even professional organizers have to let go sometimes and yes, even professional organizers are known to have a few emotional items in their closets.  We like to think of these hiccups in our otherwise perfectly organized (NOT) lives as assurance that we are human and reminders of the struggles of our clients.  Right - human we are.  Straight face I have not.

So I was not surprised, if perhaps a bit amused, that my colleague, cyber-guru, professional organizer Jacki Brown, owner of J-organize, sent me an e-vite on Facebook to attend the funeral for her riding boots.  A little research revealed that the boots had served Jacki well for 25 years of equestrian pursuits, had now "blown up" and were no longer serviceable and that a significant recent purchase to replace the boots hastened their impending trip to the rubbish bin.  But not before they have been properly honoured for their years and years of memories, faithful service and, I well imagine, great comfort afoot.

Sometimes professional organizers encourage clients to take pictures of stuff ladened with memories that have to move to a life outside the front door.  Sometimes we suggest clients take off a piece of the object, (usually fabric) and stick it in with a picture.  Here's another option for you: have a funeral.  Honour the memories, herald the good times and move on to those new leather boots in the box.

Rumour has it one of the invitees to this particular funeral can't attend but is sending his work boots as his representative. I may have a conflict and think I'll send my pointe shoes.  Maybe I could attend on a horse.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Recycling Plastic Bags

When my local recycling program added plastic grocery and shopping bags to their list of acceptable recyclables I was so happy. People with bags of bags know what I’m talking about. Finally, there was an option for disposing all of those indestructible plastics, other than the landfill for the next 1,000 years.

To reduce your bag accumulation start by sorting out all of those with holes or rips and put those bags that can be recycled into the bin. Next chose one bag and fill it with durable bags that will be good for reuse. Use this one bag as a guideline for limiting your collection. Keep only what you can realistically use. Let go of the rest.

For local Toronto residents June 1, 2010 marked the first day that all retail plastic shopping bags must be recyclable in Toronto’s recycling program. This bylaw prevents retailers from offering plastic bags with metal detailing or grommets, rope or hard plastic handles and biodegradable or compostable bags. (For more information on the inclusion of biodegradable and compostable bags see

Next week, Alternatives to Plastic Bags

What’s Lurking in Your Fridge?

A meeting with a colleague ran overtime on a Friday afternoon a couple weeks ago. As I dashed out the door I said, “I hope dinner’s ready when I get home”. Unfortunately, that’s not how it played out. I arrived home to discover our fridge sitting in the middle of the kitchen. Our four-year-old fridge had died.
We learned that General Electric (GE) had identified a defect with the motherboard. The only course of action was to replace the part. Ironically, our nearly-fifty-year-old GE fridge at the cottage is just fine. (Please don’t tell the energy police we have a fifty-year-old fridge.)
So we spent an hour shuttling the contents of our fridge to the overflow fridge in the basement. I also spent about 20 minutes emptying jars and bottles. I probably threw out $50 worth of sauces. Some were the mainstream grocery store items that I got tired of and never noticed were way beyond their Best Before date. But there were lots of dips and marinades purchased at trade shows, markets, or from independent grocers. These gems don’t have a BB date displayed.
It’s really worthwhile to check for a Best Before date as you take an item from your grocer’s shelf. Worst case scenario, check when you’re unpacking your groceries. If the manufacturer hasn’t suggested an expiration date, grab your permanent marker and write the purchase date on the container. Not all foods get green and fuzzy if left in the fridge too long. If you can reference your purchase date, you’ve got a good jumping off point to determine if the food in your fridge is safe.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Car Crazies

It's that time of year again: holiday trips, cottage weekends, camping excursions.  They all involve loading the gear, the kids and sometimes the dog/cat/hamster/fish into the family car and heading off down the highway. Here are a couple of tips to keep all that stuff organized so you can relax, enjoy the view and arrive ready for your time away.

  1. Take only what you need, clear out the rest - Before you pack the car, clear out all the debris that you don't need for the trip.  You'll have more space for yourself and your family, more room for your holiday/weekend gear and less clutter to manage.
  2. Contain, contain, contain - Try and get everything into a container whether it is a bag or box.  Try a laundry hamper for last minute items.  It is also great for bathing suits and towels.  You can even bring them back wet in the hamper after your last dip in the lake.
  3. Give the kids a container - Assign each  child a container for their car entertainment such as books, electronics, games and snack if you permit eating in your car.  It will help keep the bits together so you are less likely to hear 'Where are my earphones?" when you get to your destination.  A container that closes is even better - kids aren't so careful when tossing things around the car and again, bits are less likely to get lost or broken.
  4. Mom's/Dad's bag - If you have small children who are not yet happy to sit plugged into their electronics for hours on end, consider sticking a couple of special activity treats into your own bag.  You will be the hero when you pull out the special glittery markers halfway into your trip.
  5. Pack Snacks - Unless you and your children get car sick, you are likely going to need some food and/or drink before your trip is over.  Food can be expensive on the road.  While your vacation food may be packed into the cooler in the back of your vehicle, consider packing a smaller day cooler which can be easily accessed by your or your children.  Drinks in containers that won't spill, fruit, dried fruit and nuts all make great travel snack.
Buckle up, stay safe and have fun!

Friday, May 28, 2010 Not necessarily . . .

It seems that no matter what the publication, the first thing I look for is the recipes. I will admit that while leafing through the latest issue of Chatelaine I made the shocking discovery that I had flipped to the recipes, before even realizing they were launching their clutter-busting series. But I digress . . .

Magazines remain my number one source for new food ideas. Only when I’m really desperate will I go online to scout out a new dish. What can I say? I like paper. But what I don’t like is to have piles of magazines taking up what little living space I share with my family.

So, if I like the newly tested recipe, I will immediately tear it out of the magazine and file it away. I’m partial to the accordion folders, but am discovering that many people prefer to stash their recipes in a three-ringed binder. An added benefit of this storage method is that you can use sheet protectors to house the individual pages. Then splashes and sticky finger prints can easily be wiped away without compromising the integrity of your recipe.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Welcome Christine Janes

Please join me in welcoming our new blogger, Christine Janes, to our blog pages.  Tomorrow will be her first posting day.

Chris is a Trained Professional Organizer and member of POC. She brings 10 years of corporate experience managing people and processes to her organizing work. If your kitchen looks like a tornado passed through it, Chris will bring her appreciation for balance and harmony, a commitment to helping others and a healthy dose of good humour to show you how the busiest room in your home can be calm and functional.  Welcome aboard Chris!

Welcome our New Authors

Calm the Clutter is expanding.  Starting this week, the blog will have two additional authors.  Please join me in welcoming Chris Janes and Jennie Vlietstra both Associates with Wellrich Organizers.  Stay tuned for more scoop on both these authors and their initial posts later this week!

Welcome aboard Chris and Jennie.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's About Time

My clients are equally split between the number that use electronic calendars and those that use paper calendars. The electronic device allows you to have instant access to your schedule 5 years out or five years back without the weight of 5 books. They also allow you to flip things around with the touch of a role ball, touch screen or mouse. No need for those messy erasers and rewriting the re/re/rescheduled appointment in question.

For many people, no matter how easy the electronic device may seem, managing time does not work for them on a small device, small screen and fiddly tool. A month at a glance is easier on an 8 in X 11 in paper than a 1.5 in screen. Those with kinetic learning preferences may find the act of writing in appointments helps to secure the appointments existence into their mind - more so than typing an appointment once then hitting the recurrence function for the balance of the year's appointments.

I seem to be one of these people and I am in the process of trying out a paper calendar again. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. Meanwhile - what has been your experience?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Love that Car

Its winter - cold, wet and sometimes just plain grey. You, like many of us, may have limited your trips to the drive-thru car wash and vacuum station while the snow flies and Canadian wind howls. I know I have. You may also find yourself increasingly frustrated or discouraged with the debris in the car that doesn't get cleaned out when those freshen up stops at the service station get curtailed. Try these quick tips to help stay in control of the clutter until the next sunny, warm day.
1. Grab a garbage bag - check through the car and load up that bag. Most of the clutter in cars is associated with garbage that just didn't make it to the bin.
2. Give the kids their own garbage bag for their part of the car. Next time you fill up with gas, get them to toss it in the bin.
3. Put a box in the back for wandering gear - this can be as fancy as a "car gear box" available at many retailers or as simple as a cardboard box. Toss all the bits and pieces that have to stay with the car in there - cables, hitches, wrenches (for the hitches), ski box accessories and the like.
4. Clear the glove box - take out all the old napkins and receipts. The first goes in the garbage, the second to your tax file. Try replacing the napkins with hand wipes from the drug store - they come in a resealable package and are great for dealing with coffee spills and ketchup!
5. Wipe the dust off the dashboard with a dry napkin.
6. Check your windshield fluid.
That should hold you until the sun shines.