Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Organize That Traveling Suitcase

Weather is getting nicer and many of us are looking forward to some spring or summer travel. I know it is not fun to schlep around multiple or huge suitcases. Here are some tips to make packing for that trip a breeze.

  1. Make a list. I keep a master list that I modify for each trip. This keeps me from forgetting my phone charger or medicated face cream (both in original pack and repack to come home). Then for each trip I list what I am really taking and print it off. This goes in the outside flap of my suitcase.
  2. Start early. I start laying out outfits a couple of days before the trip. I know from past experience that if I wait until the last minute, I am no good at making decisions and pack waaay too much.
  3. Pare down. Take only what you are sure you will need. Plan on wearing some outfits twice. If it is going to be cool, take only one sweater. Plan to layer. I always feel that if I do forget something I absolutely need, it will be an excuse to go shopping (but this has never yet happened).
  4. Plan outfits. Lay out your outfits before packing. How can you mix and match? Only pack jewelry that goes with those outfits.
  5. Clear out clutter. When packing your hygiene/cosmetic care products, only pack what you are sure you need. Clear out the extraneous clutter. I use a soft dopp kit that can be scrunched a bit.
  6. Plan. Pack your bags with a plan in mind. Put your shoes - one or two pairs - at the bottom. Stuff the shoes with socks or underwear. Roll up most of your clothing to save room ( and reduce wrinkles). Place folded items that don't roll well on top. Last, tuck in smaller items.
  7. Contain dirty clothes. Pack a plastic bag for dirty clothes or designate a space in your suitcase for the dirty clothes. For short trips I use a zippered net section in the lid of my suitcase.
  8. Plan carry on. If you are flying and have a carry on, pack your prescriptions, expensive jewelry (but why take it?), money, camera, tickets, itinerary, keys, and a book or kindle in this bag. If room, carry one change of clothes.
  9. Save space for return. For the return trip, take lots of pictures and keep souvenirs to a minimum. But still, when you pack your bag leave a little room for that special item.
  10. Just for fun - look at the fantastic packing skills in this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5UlxHsgD58
Bon Voyage!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gain Control of Clothes Clutter

It's not unusual for me to go into homes and find a lot of clothes "clutter." By this, I mean clothes that are in heaps on the floor, overflowing in laundry baskets, or stacked on any available surface in the bedroom or laundry. This is often not only clothes waiting to be washed but also clothes that have been washed.

Let's look first at the clean clothes clutter. Often the clean clothes are left in stacks because it is difficult to actually put the clothes away. The drawers are already crammed. The closet is overflowing. Basically, what is probably happening is having too much clothing. Most of us who live in America have too much "stuff" and this includes clothing. We tend to buy things we like (often in multiple colors) or because they were "on sale." We don't really plan how the new item will fit with what we already have or what it will replace.

So, the answer to this problem is to clear out the closet and drawers. Most of what is in there has not been worn for a long time. Keep only what fits, is in good shape, and makes you feel good when you wear it. Purge your wardrobe so that everything  you own can easily fit into a dresser or closet (this includes the items that are currently in the dirty clothes pile).

Now, let's look at the dirty clothes piles. Again, I suggest this may also be due to an abundance of clothing. If you have 15 pair of work pants, you can go a pretty long time without having to do laundry. Another way of handling the dirty clothes piles is to have laundry hampers (without lids) placed everywhere dirty laundry accumulates. This would probably be in each bedroom and perhaps the bathrooms. When the laundry hampers approach "full" do the laundry. Only bring to the laundry room the clothes you intend to clean that day. Leave the rest in the hampers where they normally live. When you finish a cycle of laundry, plan to put them away the same day.

Sometimes there is also a third category. This is clothes you have worn but are not ready to wash. Hang these clothes back up. This will keep them dry and prevent that musty odor. If you don't want to hang the already worn clothes, designate a place on a shelf in your closet to hold them until you feel they are ready for washing.

Once you have cleared the piles from the floor, you will feel so much lighter. You have a clean space and can feel great that others are benefiting from your donations. Reward yourself - just don't do it by buying new clothes.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Using Containers as Organizational Tools

Containers can be a great help with organizing. They hold items neatly. They help when sorting like items with like items (all short sleeve T shirts in this bin). They can also help in the process of purging. I often suggest to my clients that they can keep as many of any item as they like if the items will easily fit into a specified container.

Now, when I am talking container, I am talking about anything that holds something. I open up the definition beyond tubs, bins, and baskets and include cabinets, drawers, closets, and bookcases.

This past weekend, Rob and I sat down to organize our entertaining credenza. When we got married this fall, we both did a lot of purging. Still, when we looked into the area where we keep our CDs and DVDs it was easy to see there was still an overabundance. We reached an agreement that we would keep as many DVDs as would easily fit on a shelf and as many CDs as would fit into several containers. Next was the task of deciding what our absolute favorites were and what we could give away. At first it was pretty easy but when we got down to the last 3 CDs it became difficult. We finally managed, but our containers are absolutely full which means if we buy another CD we will have to let one go. This rule, though, does keep our area from getting completely overrun with media.

Try using this same principle throughout your home. I have one cabinet for storing nonperishable food. I want this cabinet to be easy to use - not overly crammed, not with cans stacked, and not too full to see what is already in place. I also zone out this cabinet so one shelf is for canned items, one shelf is for snack items, one shelf is for beverages, etc. This enables me to easily keep food rotated, always putting the newer purchases in back. This also means that I do not buy a case of something just to save a few pennies a can.

A bookcase can only hold so many books. I love books but I don't think it is respectful to my books to overly cram them into a bookcase, stack books on top of books, or put a row of books in front of an existing row of books. I also do not want to put books stacked on top of my bookcase or on the floor. This means that I can only keep so many books. When new books come in, if they do not fit into the bookcase, I must donate some of my lesser loved books.

Try using this container principle with your clothes closet, your bathroom cabinets, your desk, or anyplace that you feel might be getting disorganized and overfull. As you go through and purge items, try to leave empty room. This allows for new to come in and gives you room to shuffle items within the container.

If I know that I will keep only as much scrap paper as will easily fit into one container in my desk drawer, as many sweaters as will fit in one bins, as many travel toiletries as will fit into one small basket, it makes letting go of the excess so much easier.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Organizing the Living Room Zone

This is the month I organize my living room zone. Spring is around the corner and I want my living room fresh and ready. The first thing I do is review my vision for this room. What do we do here? How do we want to feel when we are in this room?

This year things have changed. It is no longer just my vision to consider but a shared vision with my husband, Rob. I start off my day in this room with my coffee and newspaper. Rob and I often end our day on the couch talking, listening to music, or watching TV. This is a good place to sit and look out the window at the birds, squirrel antics, and the passing parade of life. If we are having a light meal, we will often eat here. We entertain our friends in this room. We want this room to be relaxing yet with some visual stimulation, cozy and casual, warm and inviting.

When I organize a zone, I look for any clutter that may have accumulated. Are things placed in this room in an organized and functional manner? Are there things in the room that we no longer need or love? We will pare down our collection of CDs and DVDs. I will evaluate the items I use for entertaining and see if I still feel the need for all of them. We will purge the coat closet of any extra outerwear or anything we no longer enjoy.

As I go through every zone, I clean and polish as well.

By the end of the month, the room will  look and feel bright and ready for spring. I will celebrate with fresh flowers, a candle, and a nice glass of wine with Rob.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer