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Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

June 2nd, 2016

I am excited to see "Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things" tonight in San Francisco and I'm honored to be one of the panelists in a short discussion immediately following the film. This event is sponsored by my fellow bay area Chapter Members of NAPO-SFBA (the National Association of Professional Organizers San Francisco Bay Area)

If there is one truth I have gained from my years as a Professional Organizer, it is this: Less is More.

Joshua and Brian, the "Minimalists", who are prolific in this movement of late, tell us to thoughtfully question what adds value to your life. Get rid of clutter to "make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth and contribution".

About that Clutter You Left at Mom’s House

May 6th, 2016

I'm reposting a clever article by Cynthia Drake on SelfStorage.com regarding all that stuff you left at Mom’s house, which includes some quotes from me. Enjoy, and thanks Cynthia!

It’s time to do something with all the stuff you left at Mom’s house

Maybe it’s out of a sense of personal obligation, or maybe it’s all those “polite reminders” from your parents … but you have finally come to the realization that it’s time to clear your stuff out of your parent’s house.

It’s a big project — so many years of memories have been stored there, possibly in the place where you grew up. How do you tackle all those boxes and bags so that you leave your mom and dad with some extra space?

We talked to some organizational experts to get their tips for making the process as quick and painless as possible.

Collaborate with your kin

If you have a good relationship with your folks, this might be a good time to work together on getting rid of the detritus that you left behind when you skipped town for college or your tiny studio apartment in the city. Whatever you do, don’t leave the burden up to your parents.

“I firmly believe that if parents are willing to play the role of storage host, then the kids need to participate in the decision making process,” says Kelly Jayne McCann of The Organizing Maven in Essex, VT.

Schedule some time with your parents to sort through your old stuff together. If you’re throwing some things out, maybe give them a heads’ up to make sure you’re not jettisoning anything they really wanted to keep. If anything is going to be sticking around at their house, make sure it’s packed and labeled.

Look at your stuff with new eyes

One benefit of being away from your possessions for so long is that you will gain a new, detached perspective, making it easier to part with some of those items.

“The operative consideration here is that you kept it in the first place,” says Nancy Castelli, organizer, productivity consultant and CEO of BALANCE Organizing Service Co. in San Francisco.

“Does it still have value to you now? Your priorities have likely changed. I tell my clients to ask, ‘Is it serving me? Is it useful or beautiful?’ If not, let the stuff go.”

Repurpose your memories

One of the reasons it can be hard to let go of your old items is that they hold sentimental value, like your childhood teddy bear or your grade school artwork that Mom dutifully held onto.

Castelli challenges people not to mindlessly store these items away. “I find it a fascinating concept of packing your ‘memories’ away in a box where they are soon forgotten,” she says. “If it’s a memory, will taking a picture be enough? (Consider taking a selfie with those trophies you earned in high school — and pull Mom or Dad into the pic, too.) Can it be turned into a pillow? The point is, even memories can be useful … but not when they are packed away.”

Keep an eye on your parents

Truth be told, some organizers get a little bristly when you ask them about adult children leaving their items behind at their parents’ house.

“Don’t treat your mom’s house as your own personal storage facility,” says Sonya Joseph, a Los Angeles professional organizer. “You have to sort through your stuff. It is not fair to use someone else’s real estate for this purpose.” She’s not alone in that sentiment.

However, since you’re going to be spending some time at your parents’ house anyway, it’s a good time to keep an eye toward the future and think about how your parents’ house might need  a few tweaks to accommodate them as they age.

“Use this opportunity to also evaluate how the house is working for your parents who might be getting a little older,” Joseph says. “By making the focus about you and your stuff, you could perhaps get rid of some other things that are causing a safety hazard, such as slippery throw rugs, piles of paperwork, newspapers and magazines, broken items that need fixing.”

Minimalism, A Documentary - Sponsored by Organizers

April 27th, 2016

Get your tickets now to see Minimalism, A Documentary about living with less! 

Showtimes:  Thursday, June 2nd at 7:30PM in AlbanyMenlo Park  and San Francisco

All three screenings brought to you by the National Association of Professional Organizers local San Francisco Bay area chapter.

                See you there!

Feng Shui and the Art of an Organized Desk

April 14th, 2016

Personally, I am productively stymied by clutter on my desk. Only after I take a moment to de-clutter, can I really start getting things done. Yet in the book "A Perfect Mess," Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman claim there are hidden benefits to being unorganized and cluttered. The book suggests a messy desk can be the product of an effective worker and that there is a price for being neat in terms of staff, time and other costs.

In the end of the day, it is your choice. If upon approaching your messy desk, you are able to get right to the key work at hand and power through, then you need not waste extra time getting organized or creating systems to stay that way. If, however, the mess has you distracted, jumping from email to phone call to reviewing a file, then the flag is red. If you procrastinate often, simply not moving forward on the high-payoff work, then that messy desk is costing you time and money.

If, as Feng Shui states, piles of files block your capacity for thought, here are some ideas.

Get a file cabinet. Most offices require at least a two drawer file cabinet for reference documents that aren't active; read more here on the key types of files. Create a logical filing system to house that paperwork.

Bagua your desk. Objects on the desk can be organized according to energy content:

  • The left side of the desk is for new projects, ideas, marketing and sales issues.
  • The right side is reserved for bills, reports and lists.
  • The area in front of you should remain completely clear.

Trash your trash. Even on your computer, throw away your garbage. Save only what you really need. Set yourself a goal (and put it in your calendar) to ruthlessly delete all redundant data every three months. "Data" in this case means both paper on your desk and files / emails in your computer. The result: You (and your computer) will work faster and your thoughts will have free reign!

Get the right bins. If you don’t have bins for your trash, that paper will end up as clutter. Make sure your office has:

  1. A shredder, or a bin for paper to shred... and a service to get it occasionally
  2. A bin for recycle paper
  3. A bin for trash

So, what are you? Do you power-through clutter, or does a clean desk rule?

BALANCE is now a San Francisco Green Business

April 4th, 2016

BALANCE Organizing Services Company is very proud to now be a San Francisco Green Business.


Because here at BALANCE we care about conserving resources, sustainability, building community and the health/safety of our workers, we signed up. We took on the rigorous approval process and have been accepted into the SF Green Business Program. We have matched our practices with our values.

San Francisco Green Business exists to help San Francisco businesses adopt environmental practices that are sustainable as well as profitable. Their mission is achieved by setting stringent criteria, providing technical assistance, and publicly recognizing and promoting Green Businesses with a seal that enables customers to shop in keeping with their values.

The Program is made of up of three City agencies. SF Environment runs the program and is supported by the San Francisco Department of Public Health and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.  The San Francisco Green Business Program is also a member of the Bay Area Green Business Program and the California Green Business Network.

We are so pleased to be a member of this body of amazing businesses here in the bay area!

EXTENDED! Container Store’s annual elfa sale event is still on (or wait until next year)

February 24th, 2016

I am not condoning procrastination. The organizers' question is: do you shop for containers right away? Or rather, do you sort and edit your stuff first? When I suggest waiting until next year, I mean to say: don't put the cart before the horse.

To organize just about anything, first you sort, purge and assign a space for the item. Then, and only then, do you containerize.

I see this mistake often. The decision is made to organize and the first step is to go buy some more stuff! The good intention is there, but you have to start with the stuff you already have.

Therefore, I ask: have you sorted the stuff first? Have you decided that it serves you in your life? Have you determined that the stuff indeed belongs easily accessible in an elfa basket rack on the back of the kitchen closet door?* If yes, congratulations. Namaste. Now, get on down to the Container Store. 30% is a big deal.

* Yes, that last one was me, for my client. Off I go to the elfa sale! Needless to say, I love it there. And they love my dog!

Paper Clutter - Piling vs. Filing

February 24th, 2016

A funny, but it's no joke. To manage your paper clutter, understanding the core paper categories can help you get started turning piles into well-organized files.

Some rare individuals find storing paper around the office in piles works fine, but most of us find it ineffective, inefficient and not so easy on the eyes.

It will make things easier to know that whatever paper you are keeping will usually fall into one of three categories.






Related to a current project or core activity. Examples might be client work, a home remodel project, shopping lists or the paper around a Board of Directors position you hold

Store this paper close at hand. Much of my active paper does exist as (very small) piles on my desk, under paperweights. The paperwork from other active projects are each in a labeled folder in an open file bin near my desk.

Used regularly, almost daily


Paper you need to refer to on occasion. The "go to" paper you get when it's needed.

Tax documents, bills, financial paperwork, instruction manuals.

Used weekly or monthly.


All paperwork you are required or need to retain. This includes tax archives, financial transactions (stock purchases), older client files and the like.

This paper you only go to when it's needed for a specific issue or transaction. In some cases, never! For example you are hoping you never get audited by Uncle Sam but you will want that paper if you!

Used annually or in the off chance you need to refer to it.


To begin to manage your paperwork, categorizing your paper into these types can be a great way to start!

Reduce Your Mail Clutter in One Minute

October 29th, 2015

With a mission to save natural resources, Catalog Choice is a free service that will reduce your catalog (and phone book!) clutter. If you want to "stop unwanted mail", this free service willl opt you out of catalogs, phone books, coupons, credit card offers, those annoying circulars, and more.

Just ask me! I signed up a couple of years ago and I get virtually NO catalog and circular mail save those from which I order.

If reducing your incoming mail clutter, simplifying your life and even protecting your privacy aren't reason enough, Catalog choice gives a bunch of environment impact arguments to encourage you. Millions of trees, deforestation, industrial energy waste, rotting landfill material, oh my!

Take one minute and stop the mail madness! Sign up

ICD2015 - Compassion Fatigue - a real issue for caregivers…

September 19th, 2015

Have you heard about Compassion Fatigue?

"Compassion Fatigue is a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper"                         --Dr. Charles Tigley, Tulane University

Our speaker, Patricia Smith, a compassion fatigue specialist and founder of the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project, explained that compassion fatigue is a set a symptoms, not a disease. It is experienced by caregivers like nurses, and EMT's, and even you or me when we become caregivers to someone we love. Compassion fatique results in a combination of physical, emotional and spritual depletion asociated with the trauma-related work one does caring for others who are in significant emotional pain and / or physical distress.

If you recognize these "set of symptoms" in a caregiver you know, it may be Compassion Fatigue:

  • Isolation
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Sadness, apathy
  • Impulse to rescue anyone in need
  • Persistent pysical ailments
  • Lack of self-care practices
  • Substance abuse
  • Hypervigilence, hyperarousal
  • Recurring nightmares or flashbacks
  • Excessive complaints about colleagues, management, and / or those being helped

Patricia and other professionals in the field recommend caregivers regularly take the Professional Quality of Life self-test. It is a well-established way to measure a caregiver's compassion satisfaction, burnout and stress levels. Patricia also has a bevy of information and resources at her website. Because, she reminds us,

                   "caring too much can hurt"...

ICD Conference Update - Working with People with Memory Loss

September 18th, 2015

Around the age of 50, most humans begin to experience a gradual but cumulative decline in memory. Yet most people "remain mentally alert and competent as they age", according to Margrit Novack, the Founding President of NASMM. Indeed, she said, the loss of mental acuity is not a natural occurence of aging. 

If you occasionally forget things, usually new information, you can likely blame it on aging (or simply stress, depression, medication, etc.). If memory loss is more severe, it may be cognitive impairment. However, if you notice in a loved one language problems, impaired judgment and shortened attention span, it may be an indication of dementia or Alzheimer's Disease for a medical professional to diagnose.

Here are some of Margrit's practical and powerful tips on how to engage with Seniors and those suffering from Memory Loss:

  • Have barrier-free communications, speaking face to face, at their level, and a bit more slowly
  • Minimize distrations; turn off the TV!
  • Use repitition to reinforce the conversation
  • Place helpful lists, notes and reminders in strategic locations

Alzheimer's is a particularly difficult disease where victims experience an intense loss of self-esteem and control. In these cases, encourage their participation, don't correct wrong answers, be patient and provide reassurance often, which are all tips that are great ways to treat anyone who sturggles with health and organization challenges.

Nuggets of gold! #ICD2015

Abunancing Order - My New Word!

July 9th, 2015

My new verb:   abundancing

[uh-buhn-duh ns ing]


the act, or actions, of manifesting extremely plentiful or oversufficient quantity or supply everything you want and need:
abundancing joy this weekend at Yuba River

to bring forth overflowing fullness:
abundancing love with my neice when we spoke yesterday

creating, with every action and thought, affluence; wealth:
the richness of abundancing was enjoyed by all.


If you are not sure where to start, just dance!

Clutter Pop-up?

June 25th, 2015











On my way home, I came across Twice, a chic pop-up that wants to help you eliminate your clutter by selling it! Cool! According to Twice, "your clutter is someone's treasure. Sell and get paid.", though you have to hurry. It's just an experiment and they close at the end of this month!

Their main business is online selling of your clutter at liketwice.com. The truth is that the internet has opened up many ways to get rid of your clutter virtually. At MoveLoot, they will sell your furniture and household goods. At The Real Real, they will sell your designer goods.

Look around. If just eliminating your clutter to clear your space isn't motivation enough, maybe making a buck or two back for it will get you off the fence!

Fall away from your winter blues by doing some spring cleaning this summer!

Geroge Carlin (unintentional) Quote About Clutter

June 21st, 2015

Source: http://worldtruth.tv/

Celebrating the Art of Clutter…Wha?

June 3rd, 2015

A May 29th article by Dominique Browing entitled "Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter" opened up a discussion amongst my Professional Organizer peers, as you might expect. The article undermines the process of purging personal possesions to eliminate clutter.

Sure, there can be art in clutter, as Dominique argues. I love seeing the interesting "stuff" my clients have kept over the years. Though it is rare, in the cases where people have collections that are well managed and maintained, they are extraordinary and interesting and intellectually stimulating. The operative statement here is "my clients", and by that I mean they decided to make an investment to get help in eliminating clutter. That decision, virtually evey time, is because their clutter does not bring them joy; it is not serving them. Their possessions are not "winking happily" at them from tabletops and the bookshelves of which there are "never enough".

It's an intriguing read, but at the end of the day, it is for you to decide if your clutter is beautiful art that serves you and brings you joy, or rather is a burden, and brings you shame. If it's the later, then you can be thankful for the Organizer in your life to come and help you artfully let it go!

Great Holiday Tec Gifts - To Eliminate Clutter, that is!

December 3rd, 2014

Here's a great Holiday Tec Gift idea...   Tec, as in To Eliminate Clutter!

You may not think of wall hooks as a container, but indeed they are very useful. Especially in tight spaces, they provide a coat closet in any tight space, and will serve you well in any entry way, behind a door or on any wall. Get two matching and put one at a lower hight for the children.

If you get a really unique one, you'll have a container that serves as decor! I am always drawn to these baskets of hooks on sidewalk display at my neighborhood shabby chic antique store (When Modern Was).

This is a great gift for anyone on your list who just moved or is moving soon to a new home.

You'll find decorative and functional hooks or hook racks at any of your favorite home shopping stores, including Target, Ikea, Bed Bath and Beyond, uh, and beyond.  :)

Where do you find your favorite?

A Minimalist, on Clutter

September 2nd, 2014

I have so much admiration for Joshua Becker, a self-described minimalist. In 2008, he, his wife and their 2 children decided to become minimalists and intentionally live with fewer possessions. They cleared the clutter from their home and he thoughtfully shares their inspiring journey of discovering the abundant life found in owning less.

In this interview on Mint.com, he speaks of minimalism, the challenges of applying it and the benefits of getting rid of the stuff you don't need.

"Ultimately, minimalism forces us to identify our values and articulate the most important things in our lives. You can't decide what possessions to remove until you decide what you want to accomplish with your life.

[...so] we began to define minimalism as the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it."

Read more, or just take it from here.

Define what you value. The rest is clutter. Let it go.

A Mudroom Solution for Family Clutter

July 24th, 2014

Family Mudroom by BALANCEMy client sent a photo of our finished work in motion. Here’s an easy to build Mud Room idea for the grand entrance of your busy family home!  There’s a cubby and multiple hooks for each child and parent as well as the dog and nanny. There’s a top shelf (not pictured) with bins for hats/gloves and errands.

Products to complete:
1 handyman!
Cubbies from Container Store:
Bench and drawer bins from IKEA
 What do you think?

Clutter Attitude Adjustment: from Scarcity to Abundance

July 2nd, 2014

When talking to my clients about the clutter they keep, I very often hear reasoning like this:

I haven't used that old bike for years, but I might again someday   or   What if I need it and don't have it.

You might not see it if you are in the habit of this mentality, but usually the chances of those "what if's" coming to fruition are quite rare. The problem with this thinking is that it comes from a place of scarcity. It says you believe you won't have what you need when you need it. You are telling the universe that it won't provide for you. Indeed, you are telling yourself that you can't take care of you! If follows, then, that you are manifesting scarcity in life. You attitude is that the universe is out to screw you over. Yikes!

I recommend that you shift your thought process and come from a place of abundance. Decide that if a possession is not serving you now, today, this week, this month, then it needs to get out of your way. Because, after all, you are a fabulous one-of-a-kind gift to this world. Trust the universe so that when the occasion comes that you need 70 shopping bags all at one time, the universe will provide those items in that quantity just for you. Believe that you are strong, capable and life, therefore, will provide for you. The difference in the thought process is quite simple yet the effects are profound.

Getting rid of that old bicycle or those large quantities of shopping bags not only opens up room in your life for something new and amazing, it provides immediately for someone else who can use those things today. So there's abundance and good karma in this attitude shift!

Go for abundance. The universe will reward you.

Organize, or Prune for Growth

May 22nd, 2014

When you prune your home or office of clutter, like pruning a tree, light gets in where it didn't before, air circulates better and new growth appears.

For just about all my clients where their clutter has been present for some time, once we begin to clear the clutter, things open up in other areas of life for them.

In your environment at work where productivity is essential, and especially at home where your refuge is a place to both recharge and decompress, a clutter-free space is essential to forward movement. When you surround yourself with a simple, well-functioning environment where everything has a purpose and serves you, or brings you joy, your life will flow smoothly. If your home or office is cluttered without systems in place to support you, it drains energy.

It is fundamental to take some time to organize and declutter every now and then. There is an analogy that Jason Fried used in his regular Get Real column in Inc. Magazine (February. 2013). He uses it in the context of a business tip, yet struck me as very applicable anywhere in life. He found, after eliminating nonessential offerings in his business (A.K.A. decluttering!), they unexpectedly developed two new product offerings and expect exponential growth. He likened it to pruning his apple tree:

"There are a number of reasons to prune a tree. ..to make it look prettier, to cut away or prevent disease, or to generate more fruit.  ...cutting things back is a way of favoring what is left. You help the tree flourish... Light gets in where it couldn't before. Air circulates better. And new growth appears."

He affirms that if you do it right, you give your tree a stronger foundation for the future. If you are looking for growth or change at your home or office, or just a breath of fresh air, getting organized may be just the answer.

Start in one corner, on one surface.

Be brutal and let go.

Clear the clutter and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Harmonious Organizing

May 19th, 2014

In the following entry contains excerpts from "Harmonious Organizing", Organize Magazine, K. Cox. March/April 2008

There a lots of ways to say it. but my favorite thesaurus word for Organize is Harmonize.

The thing is, if it were easy to make choices about clutter, it wouldn't be, um... clutter. The word harmony, for me, goes deeper. When it comes to making organizing decisions, you need "...to get deeper with your choices about what you keep in your home.".

The following excerpt from an article in Organize Magazine by Kathleen Cox describes Vatsu further explains what I mean. I encourage you to put your belongings to the Vatsu test!

Vatsu is a Hindu tradition of space design to promote harmony with natural forces. According to the principles of Vatsu, your home is your own private universe, therefore nothing in it should be random.

Remember that what appeals to the eye, doesn't necessarily appeal to the soul. Get deeper with your choices about what you keep in your home. What makes sense for the soul are objects with a specific active utilitarian purpose or items that reveal who you are in a profound way. Everything else is clutter.
While physical clutter can lead to mental and emotional clutter, an uncluttered home encourages peace by honoring our special essence and authentic self.  Look around and put your belongings to the vatsu test. Ask yourself:

  • What is this item's use?
  • Do I really use it?
  • Does it have special meaning?
  • How does it fit into my life?

If you draw a blank, it's clutter, and it's taking up valuable space.


Snap it up. Pass it on. You won't miss it because it wasn't connected to your life in the first place.


(Speaking of harmony, I am busy rehearsing to maintain mine as an Alto in the Chorus of the SF Sinfonietta, conducted by the fabulous and talented Maestro Urs Leonhardt Steiner! If you live or are visiting the San Francisco bay area, come and see us in early June.
at Southern Pacific Brewing Company in SF near Folsom and 19th St.
at St. Marks Lutheran Church in SF, O'Farrell and Franklin Streets.

Support the Arts!

Organizing…defined! (A.K.A. Getting your poop in a group!)

May 17th, 2014

Getting Organized. How do you say it?

A friend just told me he thought of me when he recently "...spent a couple of weeks catching up on my accounting, decluttering my [space] and in general getting my poop in a group."  I love that! So many ways to say it and its all good in the end!

The dictonary says this:

or•gan•ize (ˈɔr gəˌnaɪz)

v. -ized, -iz•ing. v.t.
1. to systematize; order.
2. to arrange methodically or in order
3. to give organic structure or character to.
4. to put (oneself) in a state of mental competence to perform a task.

The Thesauraus says this:

arrange     put together     catalogue     codify     harmonize     straighten     systematize      tailor     fine tune      clarify     methodize     align     spruce up     tidy     iron out     make ready      shape up     fix up     straighten out     lick into shape     jack up     put in order     file, index, catalogue     classify     codify     tabulate      inventory   whoa!  sigh.

Of course, at BALANCE, we simply say:

Turning Matter into Energy
Making sure that everything in your space serves you or brings you joy.

What's your lingo?

3 Steps to Organizing… Before a Move, or anytime!

April 9th, 2014


Nancy is an Angie's List Expert, and one of her back to basics articles on getting organized was recently published on AngiesList.com.


This is a must read if you are looking to get organized in your household, or anywhere. 3 Steps to Organize Your Home Before a Move.


It's worth a read regardless of whether you are moving. These 3 simple steps apply for any organzing project!

De-clutter your Workload!

March 18th, 2014

10 Ways to Get a Handle on Your Workload

When your workload has you overwhelmed, it will likely take a toll on your personal life, leaving you tired, anxious and left with no time for family and play. Inspired by Michael Hyatt's article in GettingOrganized Magazine (10 Reasons Why You Aren't Done Yet, Winter 2012), here are 10 ways to get control of your workload and lighten up.

1. Manage the Meetings
Make sure that the meetings you plan or attend are pertinent to your core objectives and will "advance your agenda". Ask yourself, or your associates, "do we really need this meeting"?

2. Stop Surfing!
Limit your time online. It's easy to get drawn in to link after link leading to another link. The internet, loaded with information, can easily waste your time. Discipline yourself to keep within the boundaries of only what is needed at the moment. Try setting a timer and stop at the bell.

3. Turn off the Pings
If your phone, text service and email inbox, not to mention your social media sites, ping you for every new message, it is difficult to keep your energy on the project at hand. Indeed, Interruption Science, which studies the effects of interruptions on job performance, has determined that answering notifications slows task performance. Unless it's a job requirement, you probably don't need to respond to these messages in real time. Turn them off to eliminate the distraction, perhaps scheduling time blocks in the day to check messages. This will also set a precedent for the people you communicate with; they will learn that during core work hours, your response time will be delayed. I'm guessing they won't mind.

4. Close the Door
The open door policy is great, especially if you are in management. However, if you work in an office, these interruptions can really slow down your work effort. Just like the email and texting, set a precedent that during a certain period of day, you close the door. A time management course I took years ago even suggested putting a sign on the door, such as "working on a project until 2 pm". Or graciously walk your un-scheduled guests to the door.

5. BALANCE Urgency
Everyone believes their issue is the most urgent; but it's not necessarily yours. Be sure to manage this with your associates. Alert your associates if you need more time to respond to their "urgent" requests. Again, set a precedent.  Most demands are negotiable.

6. Don't Yield to Perfectionism
If you find yourself spending too much time trying to get something perfect, you may be a perfectionist, and you may be wasting time. Take this test on Psychology Today to see if you are. Not everything has to be perfect. Sometimes it's more important to just get it done so you can get out the door!  After all, Confusious says: perfect is the enemy of the good.

7. Practice the Four Ds
A popular time and workflow management idea is called The "Four Ds"

  • Delete it - if it's not important, just let it go
  • Do it - If it's a priority, do it now
  • Delegate it - If you have resources available, then delegate when you can
  • Defer it - if it's not a priority, act on it later

8. Use a To Do List
There are so many to do list tools in the market now, from paper to technology, that it can be over-whelming to find the right one. Yet, managing your day with a to do list to set priorities is well worth choosing a tool and sticking with it. Choosing the right system is as easly as 1-2-3:

1.  Keep it simple. Too many bells and whistles and you won't use it. Even a whiteboard in your office will get the job done.

2.  Choose a system that allows you to do some categorizing, such as work/home/family..  or email/desk work/errands.. etc.

3.  Pick a system that is easy for you to use. If you don't like to enter things into your phone, then don't use an app, no matter how popular or cool it is. Stick with paper. 

9. Time it
Especially for the tasks you dislike or procrastinate, use a timer. Set it for 30 minutes and spend that time responding to emails, working on project X, writing the report and on. When the timer goes off, your done. You have the choice then, to keep going if you are in the groove. Or to move on if it's not a priority.

10. Schedule it
For major efforts, or regular required work, try blocking time on the calendar. I block off Monday afternoons to plan my week, call clients and get desk work done. If someone wants to schedule my time, I can legitimately say that the time is booked. I have found that Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are good times to get this type of work done, since not a lot of meetings are planned during these times.

Follow these tips and get it all done with time to spare!

The Patience of Ordinary (uncluttered) Things

March 7th, 2014

The Patience of Ordinary Things

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they're supposed to be.
I've been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

~by Pat Schneider,

I love this wonderful poem about finding beauty in everything, every little thing. But it also appeals to me as it follows my mantra: turning matter into energy. In the language of BALANCE, that means organizing your clutter so rather than being in your way or a drain on you and your life flow, its energy, where everything is in its place, waiting to serve you.

The towel on the rack

The clothes in the closet

The soap in the dish


in its place

ready to serve you.

Joyful Puppy (Baby or Senior) Clutter - 3 Secrets to Managing the New Order of Things

February 21st, 2014

Whoa! It's been a while since my last blog entry back in December when I was in Mexico enjoying a short sabbatical. I have a terrific reason. While there, I met a new friend, Sara, who runs SayulitAnimals. If you have been to Mexico, you likely noticed that generally, dogs are not respected and cared for as well as in the U.S. However, in Sayulita where I was staying, they are lucky to have Sara. Upon hearing that I would be open to adopting, she introduced me to a little white Boxer named Santa, the match was made and home she came with me!

She's a sweetie, but like any life transition, you have to reorganize your life a little. Clutter, as I have said many times, comes in all forms, and this little 33 pounds (and gaining) of joy was also clutter. When you bring a new living being into your home, whether it’s an aging parent, a new baby or a dog, everything changes.

It's not just the stuff clutter. A new life to care for means you need to significantly re-organize your schedule and manage time in a whole new way as well.


Here are the three steps I took to manage the new order of things:

1. Create Accessible Storage
Make sure the things you need for care and feeding are easily accessible, where you use them. Santa's food and treats are in an easy to access cabinet in the kitchen close to her dog bowl. To do so, I moved my bin for canning (which I will have less time for now) to deeper storage to make some room in the kitchen. For senior care, keep meds close to where you disperse them. Keep baby toiletries by the sink, or in the bathroom, where they are used.

2. Change Up or Give up Some Activities
Some things in your schedule have to go, or change. See my canning hobby above; I'll have time again for that as Santa gets older. I used to swim and practice yoga 4 to 5 times a week. That's now down to twice a week. Instead I take long stair walks with Santa happily by my side. Be creative, blend, let go...this is temporary. Life is long and it's all worth it.

3. Get Help!
I have flexibility in my schedule to walk Santa, but not always. Hiring a dog-walker, a nanny or a caregiver will give you a break. Now, a couple of times a week I can be at client sessions without worrying about my dog. My single-parent girlfriend Constance, who miraculously cared for her aging Mom and Uncle while raising her young son, hired an energetic babysitter who also did the housekeeping, ran errands and even brought in extended family to help with yard work and household maintenance.

Make it easy on yourself; keep things where you use them, change it up and don't do this alone. Enjoy and be here now.

And by the way, Happy New Year!

My warmest wishes to you for an ordered, clutter-free and balanced 2014!

Another Minimalist Packing Tip: Your Lava Lava is a Travel Essential!

December 4th, 2013

In Mexico, it's called a Pareo
My Kiwi surf instructor calls it a Lava Lava (Polynesian) or Sulu (Fijian)
It's known as a Sarong in the U.S.
...but it's not just for beach-wear anymore!

Because it's lightweight, washable, dries super-fast and shakes dirt off easily, the uses for a sarong are almost endless! To me, it's hands down the best travel item to pack, regardless of where you are going. It's useful for camping, beach holidays, a resort vacation and even for winter ski breaks.

If you want to be a minimalist packer this holiday, don't forget to pack a sarong and you can eliminate the need for
a dress
a skirt

a blanket (picnic, beach, chilly night, airplane, etc.)
a beach towel (very absorbent)
a scarf
a pillow
even a tablecloth!
...and more!

Here's a great Pinterest site with photo examples!

Rock that sarong and happy holidays!

Holiday Travel Tip: Clutter-free Shoe Packing

November 27th, 2013

SlippersShoes, BlackI am writing this blog from warm and sunny Sayulita Mexico, where I'm enjoying a brief sabbatical; clearing my head and decompressing to serve my clients (and myself!) more mindfully. This is a one-month trip, but even if you are only traveling for a few days, the same general principles apply. Here are my basic tips, including photos of the nominal shoe gear I packed. 

Determine your core color (black, brown, grey and navy are typical), and bring one to three pairs of shoes in that color. For trips of 2 weeks or less, one core color is all you need for minimalist packing. I'm on a longer journey so I have two core colors: brown and black.

  • Choose shoes that are appropriate for the type of travel (business, family, walking) and the climate.
  • Watch for heel size. Most travel requires a bit of walking so leave the Manolo Blahniks at home.
  • Boots take up lots of space, so try to just take a very versatile pair, or none at all. For girls, those bootie type shoes are great for winter, spring and fall since they can be dressed up and down.
  • A nice pair of flats in your core color is a good choice.
  • For business or dressier travel, a pair of basic heels may be necessary.

You may need to pack "occasion" or "utility" shoes, for example, dress heels for a formal affair, or running shoes if you are a runner. Try to keep these to a minimum.

It's also a great idea to pack a pair of not-bulky slippers for long flights and hotel rooms. I abslolutely love Isotoners Ballerina slippers because they are wildly comfortable and light, yet have a sturdy leather sole. The pair pictured here stays in my luggage, used exclusively for travel. I have a black pair in my workbag to wear with clients in their home.

Plan to wear the bulkiest shoes you packed to and from getting there, to minimize space in your suitcase.

For more packing tips, see this earlier entry.

Am I missing anything? Please share...

Happy travels!

Celebrate life with the Good China

November 16th, 2013

What are you saving for a special occasion, and why isn't that special occasion today?

My cousin Rick died suddenly of a heart attack. He was a great man who lived well every day, sharing his musical gifts, humor and positive outlook. These sad surprises always remind me; whether death comes too soon or you are fortunate enough to live for many years, life is short.

I only want to say, in honor of Ricky, live life today, now, consciously. By covering the couch with plastic, saving your best shoes for a special occasion and keeping the china stored, unused, in the cabinet, it's just clutter. Use the good china, eat in the dining room, wear your best jewelry, take the plastic off the couch

You are special

Today is a special occasion.

You are alive now, and that's a great cause for a celebration!

De-clutter for Disaster in California

November 6th, 2013

My client just told me about an amazing organization!

What a super excuse to de-clutter your home of the personal and household items you don't need.

The Re:Action Foundation will help you help others who have suffered from disaster. They provide "a year-round donation alternative – so we are prepared for crisis, so when disaster does strike - you can feel good knowing you've already taken action." 


With their "Recycle.Rebuild.Relief Program", in certain areas of California, they will pick up your clutter (they take personal and household items), sell them to participating thrift stores. The proceeds go to support worldwide disaster relief efforts. Currently, they are donating funds to The American Humane Societies Red Star Emergency Animal Serves Sector, an organization that steps in fast to take care of pets and animals lost or abandoned from floods, tornadoes, fires and hurricanes nationally.

Recycle your clutter into Disaster Relief

....it's a no-brainer!

The Art of Reuse

October 23rd, 2013

The Art of Reuse

by Katherine Taylor, SCRAP Outreach Coordinator

Do you have arts & crafts materials taking up precious closet space? National Geographics you’re saving for no reason? Breathe new life into your old materials by giving them away in the name of creative reuse!

SF’s best-known secret is SCRAP, the Scrounger’s Center for Reusable Art Parts! We accept donations of potential art supplies and provide them free or at low cost to teachers, artists, and the Bay Area community. We love things like fabric and sewing notions, metal, wood, art tools, paper of all kinds, and materials in bulk that teachers can use.

If you are clearing out space or making room for new hobbies, consider donating materials you no longer need. Donations accepted between 10-4pm, Monday- Saturday. Our depot in Bayview is at 801 Toland St., San Francisco, CA 94124 (entrance on Newcomb). SCRAP offers free pick-up for 6+ boxes!
See our website - www.scrap-sf.org - for a full list of what we accept. Free up space in your office or home and help support SF teachers and artists at the same time!

Your support is vital to help SCRAP build and sustain our role in the community. All donations are tax-deductible. Thanks for your support!

A Truth about the Paper Clutter You Store….?

October 11th, 2013

From my favorite magazine, the New Yorker, a cartoon by Jack Ziegler.

Consider your intentions for your paper storage. Send it to the shredder or recycle bin if you know you won't ever get to it. It doesn't have to be your burden!

Managing Stress - Fear is at the Heart of the Disorganized Mind

September 30th, 2013

According to Don Joseph Goeway, author of Mystic Cool, "fear is at the heart of the disorganized mind." Stress affects the brain, particularly the not-so-intelligent part called the Amygdala, and results in risky decisions, agrressive behavior, a decline in creative thinking and closed off communication channels. Clearly, that's a disorganized mind!

I had the pleasure of hearing Don speak at the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) 2013 Conference. After articulating the why of something we already know - that stress is dangerous and unhealthy - he provided some great ideas and tools to help illuminate and eliminate stress.

... only 15% of the things we worry about actually happen  ...that means 85% of the time, our worry is a waste of time!   Think about that the next time you are stressed out trying to predict the future,  ....then take a deep breath and stop wasting your time and  brain-power with worry.


To clear stress clutter, a tool Don introduced called:

Stop and Stand Still

1. Start each day in quiet, by waking up little earlier than usual, than find a quit place and meditate. "When you're fully awake, take a few minutes to frame the day in a positive light. ...follow your breathing. Imagine each breath softening your heart and opening it wider. Feel appreciation for the gift of another day of life... Set the intention fo have a great day, achieving meaningful results in your work.., and to succeed at love, peace and joy."

2.  Once a week, count your blessings. Research suggest that people who count their blessings experience lower levels of depression and stress and are more likely to make progresss towards important personal goals.

3. Take breaks. Take Walks. ...after 90 minutes of work, take a break, to maximize performance. Further, taking a 20 - 30 minute walk three times a week in a green environment dissolves stress hormones and oxygenates the brain.

4. Let your mind wander. Your openness to the seemingly irrelevant content of daydreaming intensifies the brain's creative process, increasing creative intelligence by as much as 40%!


Look at the sky.

Watch the wind blow.

Sense the way the sunlight encourages the grass and flowers to grow.

Look at people with the clear intention of not judging anyone.

Be as free as you can be...


Try it.. let me know how it goes!

For more, read Don's book, Mystic Cool.

How to Tell if You are a Hoarder, or just Cluttered.

September 27th, 2013

I am visiting my friend Joe, who keeps telling me he is a hoarder. I notice his antique camera collection, a dozen or so displayed thoughtfully on a high shelf. Um, no Joe, not hoarding. In his tidy and orderly home, he shows me his great grandmother's china collection behind a glass door that only gets used on special family occasions, and says "I know, I'm a hoarder." Not so, Joe. He explained how the beautiful talble in his dining room was made out of antique walnut wood that he and our mutual college friend saved from a home remodel they worked on together back in Cleveland, Ohio. "I dragged it all the way here to Colorado!" Hoarding, right? he wondered, almost hopefullly. No, Joe, no go.

I hear the term bandied about a lot these days, but a hoarding diagnosis is quite a bit more serious than mere clutter or collecting. In a 2013 study by J. M. Sampson and S.M. Harris, presented to us at the Institute for Challenging Disorganization 2013 Conference, the Doctor's cite that hoarding behavior is defined through three criteria:

(a) The acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions. (referred to as 'pathological collecting')

(b) Clutter that precludes activities for which living spaces were defined

(c) Significant distress and impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding

So Joe's reasonably sized collection, re-creations of old things and his well functioning home is not a hoarding household.  However, if you recognize these patterns in you or someone you love, it is important to seek support before it progresses further. The disorder "has been found to cause large amounts of distress and impairment for individuals who hoard and their family members."

To get help and support, here are some great resources:  

  • Clutter Recovery Groups  -  www.clutterless.org
  • Messies Anonymous  -  www.messies.com
  • Buried In Treasures Workshops  -  www.buriedintreasure.com
  • National Association of Professional Organizers  -  www.NAPO.net
  • Institute for Challenging Disorganization  -  www.challengingdisorganiztion.org
  • Anxiety Disorders Association of America  -  www.adaa.org
  • Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies  -  www.abct.org
  • Obsessive Compulsive Foundation  -  www.ocfoundation.org                      

Or just call me

CD Intelligence from the ICD 2013 Conference

September 21st, 2013

I learned so much at the first day of the Intitude for Challenging Disorder (ICD) 2013 Conference. Here are a few highlights :

People with ADHD have "a greater hunger for reward", which.explains why there are so many ADHD sales reps and CEO's!  This is just one of many strengths of an ADHD'er. As I often tell my clients, ADHD is your power and your lot in life. If you manage it, you can achieve great things.

We learned strategies to work with memory impaired clients, such as listening with undivided attention, eliminate distractions and get the persons attention before speaking. It's important to know these strategies, because the latest facts about Alzheimer's are astounding! View them here

Some surprising and a hopeful facts on Hoarding,

  • The onset is usually between the ages of 11 to 15 years.
  • The disorder affects 2 to 5% of US adults. (that 4 times the number withBipolar and Schizophrenia!
  • Hopeful new research suggests it may be a genetic disorder.

And an inspiring quote for you: 

"...nobody says

you have to keep the

circumstances somebody

else gives you"

-- Amy Tan --

A Balanced Approach to Purging vs. Storage

September 18th, 2013

by Gregory Youngblood, Founder, CityStash

Our friend Nancy asked us to weigh in on our opinion of how storage fits in for someone looking to declutter and organize their life.  The answer is Nancy’s mantra:  balance.  We’re big believers in starting by whittling down your belongings to the bare essentials of what actually gets used regularly.  Beyond that, we see a gray area.  There are often many items that get used seasonally (i.e. seasonal wardrobes and skis), or sentimental or valuable items (i.e. china or furniture you inherit) which you need to keep but won’t get deployed until you move up to a bigger apartment, condo, or home.  Now, these are the items for which you might consider using storage.  The benefit, of course, is that you clear space in your home, which will lead to an immediate increase in your peace of mind and well being!

Assuming you don’t have adequate storage in your apartment, condo, or home, then you have two main options.  The first is a self-storage unit. These work well if you have a lot of items to store, so you can fill an entire unit (and not pay for wasted space). They are also a good option if you have a large vehicle and some friends to help you do the transportation of your items yourself.  Finally, storage units are a smart option if you need frequent and 24 hour access to your items.

But there is a new class of storage companies cropping up that offer an alternative to self-storage.  These services typically provide you free boxes and containers, and do all of the pickup and delivery.  Some of these companies will transport and store only containers, while others, such as CityStash, will take anything:  furniture, boxes, sports equipment, etc.  You track everything in your online account, and can request a redelivery of any or all items with just a few clicks.

We are CityStash Storage, and we’re one of the companies bringing this alternative to self-storage to San Francisco.  We’ll store just about anything, and we’ll make the whole process very convenient for you!   Visit us at www.citystash.com.  Our business office is at 524 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (415-992-6188) and facility is at 435 23rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (415-675-8017).

See it. Do it.

September 8th, 2013

Vision without action is a daydream; action without vision is a nightmare. 

-- Japanese Proverb --



It's like chemistry and timing, yin and yang, silver and gold...

See it, do it.

Buy it, use it, break it, fix it,
Trash it, change it, mail - upgrade it,
Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it,
Snap it, work it, quick - erase it,
Write it, cut it, paste it, save it,
Load it, check it, quick - rewrite it,
Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it,
Drag and drop it, zip - unzip it,
Lock it, fill it, call it, find it,
View it, code it, jam - unlock it,
Surf it, scroll it, pose it, click it,
Cross it, crack it, switch - update it,
Name it, rate it, tune it, print it,
Scan it, send it, fax - rename it
Touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it,
Turn it, leave it, start - format it...

(Daft Punk, Tehnologic Lyrics)

Not much space? Remodeling? Extended Travel?  Got Storage!

September 3rd, 2013

I recently, fortuitously, met Gregory, one of the co-founders of CityStash Storage, a very clever option for storage in San Francisco.

  • CityStash brings you boxes.
  • They pick them up (and any furniture you might need to store too).
  • They inventory your stuff.
  • They bring it back when you need it.
  • ...and it's affordable!

The truth is, I'm not a big believer in storage and storage units, if it's because you simply have too much stuff. As my clients have heard, I like things to be "active and serving you". But, if you live in a small place with limited storage, sometimes storage is the best option for housing seasonal and lesser used stuff.

So, check it out! More on CityStash soon!

The Citystash business office is at 524 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (415-992-6188) and facility is at 435 23rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (415-675-8017).

Schedule Management…

August 21st, 2013



“A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time"

-- Ann Dillard --


Give us a call if you are having trouble managing yours.


  <--  Check out our Pinterest Office and Paper Board for some other great examples of Family Scheduling Centers like this one.

The Most Organized Site on Pinterest!  ;)

July 30th, 2013

BALANCE Launches on Pinterest

We are very proud of our new Pinterest site, which will make it easy to share our favorite organizing solutions and some funnies too!

As their mission statement reads, "Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organizing the things that inspire you. We are located in sunny San Francisco, California."  Thats two great reasons for BALANCE to have a presence there.

Check us out and tell us what you think!

From Clutter to Paperless .. is it possible?

July 16th, 2013

First watch this, to lighten the mood. My Mother sent me this video.. I love it. So funny. 

Going paperless is still a challenge, even in this age of digital everything. My best advice is to start slowly. Here are 10 great steps you can take - knock them off, one at a time, and by 2014 you might just be paperless!

10 Great Ways to Get You to Paperless


1. Opt Out of Junk Mail Lists

Sign up for a service such as DMA Choice to opt out of junk mail and catalog lists. This is a simple thing to do and it will drastically reduce the amount of mail you receive. It's free, and so is CatalogChoice.org or you can go with a paid service like Updater.com.

2. Pay Bills Online

Most big banks offer an online bill pay service for free. Just be careful when selecting an online bill pay service if it is not from a known company - there are more than a few scams out there.

3. Sign up for eStatements

Sign up to receive statements online - from your bank, credit card companies and other financial institutions.

4. Curb the Need to Print

Much of the paper you have you will only look at once, so curb your habit to print. Before you hit "print" on that email, document, or receipt, ask yourself if you really need a paper copy of it. Chances are you don't. 

5. Digitize Everything

Invest in a good scanner and digitize all those papers you have including old bills, important documents, even kids artwork. You'll need 2 key things to make this happen - a good scanner and an online storage service.

6. Create a System for Incoming Mail & Other Paper

Open mail as soon as you get it. If you are brutal about it, to be kind to yourself, you will recycle or shred 80% of it. Have labeled baskets or bin for "Shred", Recycle, To Read, etc. Remember, to manage incoming paper, the key is RAFT'd.

7. Go eBooks

Read Books with an eReader like Kindle, Nook or even your iPad or Phone. They are easier to use then you think.

8. Purge Old Books

Get rid of all those old books that are "non-keepers." If they are in decent condition, consider donating them to Goodwill or a similar non-profit. Or start your own Amazon store.  Have a goal that every book on your shelf is:

  • A book you will read again
  • A book you will refer to
  • A book you will give as a gift to a visitor
  • A book that is a collector's item; an investment
  • A book that is very meaningful or is part of the decor of your home (and these need to be nominal)

9. Minimize Magazine, Newspaper and Newsletter Subscriptions

Have subscriptions to only your very favorite periodicals. Be brutal about it to be kind to yourself. You can always subscribe online or buy one or two issues a year from the magazine stand. Most "free" subscriptions, like from your Insurance company or healthcare provider, can be stopped with one phone call or online request.

10. Convert Owner's Manuals into iPad "Books"

Most, if not all, owner's manuals can be found online now, especially the tech related items.  They take up space, and how much do you actually ever refer to them? I realized I go online now anytime I have a product issue.

SOURCE: Thanks so much to Eden Godsoe of Skinnyscoop.com for this compilation, with my slight edits.

What do you think? I've gotten to 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 9. Have you ticked any off the list yet?

Nancy’s Crème de la Crème Tips to Organize Tech “Cordage” Clutter

June 25th, 2013

What is the best way to deal with all that tech clutter, specifically, all the printer cords, phone chargers, the i-this and i-that cords?  aargh!!  I get this question a lot. I just put together some "best of Nancy" tips for a Journalist asking it again, so I thought I would share...

Nancy's Crème de la Crème Tips to Organize Your Technology "Cordage" Clutter

Regarding “cordage”, as I’ve named it, there are lots of products on the market designed to collect and house the cords in a tube or other management device. The problem with those solutions, however, is the nature of technology - fast-paced and short-lived. No sooner have you finished implementing this, and one of the items needs to be replaced or a new device added. Now you're starting all over!

The secret to cordage de-cluttering is to hide the unsightly look yet make sure they are very accessible.

One of the standard items I keep in my small client toolbag are Velcro cord wraps. I find they are the easiest and most reliable way to contain cables while keeping them accessible.

Another tip is simply to use light furniture, a large plant or decorative objects to block the view of the cords. Then, when you need access, you just move it out of the way.

IKEA Cable BoxNow, what about the recharging cords that need to be on the desk or countertop? There are many cool products to manage them, as pictured. Or do it the way I do and just use a big clip attached to a neat looking bowl or bin.

Finally, if you have the time, label the cords; Modem, Monitor, Color Printer, and on. It will save you time in the long run.

Desktop Cable Holder






    And there you have it. Manage that gadget!

Happy Birthday Mom! And Her Best Organizing Tips.

June 5th, 2013

My Mom, the CEO of a family of nine, ran a tight ship that was a remarkably well-oiled machine. It was a wonderful learning experience for me, and afer all, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. In celebration of her birthday today, I am sharing, with love:

The 5 Best Organizing Tips I Learned From My Mom

1.  Lazy susan's are an excellent space extender. Not just for kitchens, Anna (my mom) had one in just about every utility cabinet. The spinning allows you to see every item, whether its spices in the kitchen or cleaning products in the laundry or linen closet.

2. Behind the door is a great place store essentials. A tie rack in the bedroom, hooks for robes, an iron board, and more. My mother even took advantage of using the door hinge, like the rack pictured here. Luckily, us girls got a full length mirror behind our door. Righteous!

3. Be committed to a family calendar and hang it in a central location. Keep schedules and other like detail in that same area. My Mom used a bulletin board. Regardless of the size of  your family, it's great for everyone to know what's going on. If we weren’t sure what day our swim lessons are or when mass is on Sunday, we knew where to look instead of bothering Mom. Well, most of the time. Sometimes we might have bothered her instead. :)

4. Have a place for everything and label when necessary. One thing about our household was that you just knew that everything had its place and it was everyone's responsibility to put things away where they belong. There was a place for flashlights, a place for medicines and first aid, a place for our shoes, a place for games, and on. This is the number one rule of organizing and a challenge to do in any household. But the more every member learns this, the better your home "machine" will run.

5. The Chore Jar. This one is my favorite. I asked but Anna can't remember where she learned this tip or whether she just made it up. I'm content to believe the later. I remember this mostly in the summer, when all you wanted to do was play play play all day. But not before you do your chores was the rule in the Castelli family. To make it fun, she had a jar filled with chores like "dust the living room", "vacuum the family room" or "sweep the porch" written on little slips of paper. But amongst them you could also pick from "make yourself an ice cream cone" or "call your father at work to say hello". It was a game and chores! So clever the way she got her little slaves working for her! 

There are so many more, but this is a good start. I hope you find some great ideas to run your household, small or large, from the wisdom of my Mom.

Please feel free to share your best Mom advice.

Happy Birthday Mom.

I love you so much.

Lost productivity costs big bucks!

May 28th, 2013

Productivity man!According to Gallup, lost productivity costs businesses $350 billion.

This is one area of hidden costs in your business, small or large, that is easy to remedy. Providing yourself and your staff with the resources they need to reduce desk clutter, manage their time and work at peak performance is worth the expense.

There are plenty of options in the marketplace. As my regular followers know, my favorite is David Allen, of Getting Things Done, or just hire your favorite Professional Organizer!

7 Tips to Get Organized for Spring, from all types of Clutter

May 14th, 2013

It's Spring; the time of year that I get calls from clients who need help with "spring cleaning". With new growth, the weather so fine and summer on the horizon, it's naturally a time to want to lighten up and get organized!

There are many ways to de-clutter, since clutter comes in many forms beyond just stuff and paper. There is time and task clutter, emotional clutter, entertainment clutter and even body clutter. For example, aren't those extra pounds just another bit of stuff you need to let go of and repurpose, into a lean mean machine?

I just finished reading a post from my friend and associate, Kelsey Lowitz, a Move, Grow, Know Transformational Life Coach. I couldn't have said it better so I will simply repost her "7 Tips to Lighten Up this Spring". Apropos to this blog, I've renamed it:

7 Tips to Get Organized for Spring!

  • De-clutter: Clean out a closet, get rid of some old clothes
  • Go on a TV cleanse-- turn it off for 3 days (or more!) and see how you feel
  • Eat KALE-- it's a dark green leafy powerhouse of nutrients, may help prevent cancer, is high in fiber and delicious.
  • Play more. Take some time this week to just play. Incline your mind towards joy.
  • Give thanks. Write a note of gratitude...to yourself, or maybe to your mother!
  • Stretch. Go to a yoga class or just bend a little yourself at home
  • Forgive. If you can, let it go, and ultimately you will feel lighter.

Happy Spring!

Scarf Organizing, the Apple Doesn’t Fall Far…

April 26th, 2013

Raising 7 children in a time before nannies and housekeepers were de rigueur, my mother was definitely organized...all day long!

She just sent me a text of this scarf rack she created. An easy solution with a plastic hanger and clothes pins if you have just a few scarves to keep in order. She likes that the clothespins keep them separated and also can be used to clip on her smaller scarves.

Scarves are so beautiful that this can hang behind a door, on a wall, or anywhere, and look great. You may notice that your favorite clothing colors tend to match your home decor style!





If you have more scarves, here is what I use behind my door. Scarves are a necessity in the eternal spring/fall weather of San Francisco - so this solution works well for my light fabric scarves.








Now if you have lots of chunkier scarves, a box, bin or the right sized drawer allows you to keep them in order. And I recommend this type of layout, so you can see every scarf and even keep them sorted by color (if you are so inclined!)Nancy's Scarf drawer




Another example of how to turn matter, or in this case scarves so cluttered you hardly wear them, into energy, where the scarves are ready and waiting to serve you so you can easily find just the right scarf for beautiful you.

A Chinese Proverb for Organizing Balance…

March 14th, 2013

Peace on EarthChinese Proverb: Peace in the World

If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.
                                                           ~ Chinese Proverb ~

Here at BALANCE, we can help you with creating light in your soul and, especially, harmony in your home. Our little contribution towards peace on earth.

All Matter Rots (and clutter speeds up the process)

March 13th, 2013

My 9 year old friend Vaughn - star hockey goalie and fourth grader - is a master player of "Magic: The Gathering" (the world's premier trading card game). Last night, while telling me about the card game and how to play, this was the first card he handed me, which says:

"All matter, animate or not, rots when exposed to time. We merely speed up the process."
—Ezoc, Golgari rot farmer

I just love this message. As an Organizer I portend to "turn matter into energy", with the general idea that matter, or clutter, sits and rots in your space, emoting negative energy. However, an organized clutter-free space serves you well, and has great energy. It slows the process of all matter, exposed to time, rotting away.

In other words, as my clients have heard me say, "everything has a shelf life" and that includes you, me and, especially, all of that clutter.

Slow down the rotting!

(Thanks Vaughny!)

Head to IKEA for Organizing Life Improvement Seminars!

March 9th, 2013

BYOF IKEA EventToday, Saturday, March 9, the IKEA store in Emeryville, CA, is celebrating BYOF (Bring Your Own Friends) Day!

Join us for an in-store shopping event that offers fans and friends special perks, activities and giveaways, along with an opportunity to shop for items to help improve your life at home. We are excited to be part of this fun event at IKEA, a great place to find products to organize your home and office!

Everyone is welcome to enjoy…

  • Ask a Home Furnishings Expert for free decorating advice!
  • FREE food samples throughout the day.
  • Free Life Improvement seminar – learn tips on how to improve life at home, featuring our own Nancy Castelli of BALANCE, who will tell you about the 5 best IKEA products to get you organized fast!
  • Eat for FREE - Dine in our Restaurant & deduct your Restaurant total from any home furnishings purchase over $100!
  • IKEA will be giving away $1,000 in IKEA gift cards through the day! (must enter for chance to win, see co-worker for details)

See you there!

Organize and Save Big!

January 15th, 2013


I designed six closets and a media center for my client in her new home using the Elfa System at Container Store. We saved $581.00 at their 30% off Elfa sale. The BALANCE team is installing it now. I am going back tomorrow to design a garage mud room area as well.  Elfa is an excellent, reasonably priced way to make better use of a space, whether its a closet, an entry way, garage storage or shelving system. It's durable, flexible and looks good too. 
Don't forget to sort and purge your stuff first before "containerizing". Though I would love to help you out, you don't need an Organizer to design it. The staff at Container Store are great at building you a space-efficient system.
Don't delay - the sale ends in mid-February.

Elfa Media CenterWe designed six closets and a media center for a client in her new family home using the Elfa System at The Container Store. We saved $581 at their 30% off Elfa sale; over $600 if you include my NAPO Professional Organizer discount on the non-sale items! The BALANCE team is installing it and I'm going back tomorrow to design a garage mud room area as well. The Media Center pictured here ---->

Elfa is an excellent, reasonably priced way to make better use of a space, whether it's a closet, an entry way, garage storage or a shelving system. It's durable, flexible and looks great looking too. Though we would love to help you out, you don't need an Organizer for the design. The staff at Container Store are great at working with you to create a space-efficient system.

A tip:  don't forget to sort and purge your stuff first before "containerizing" so you know what you have to contain in the space. And take photos of the stuff with you.

Don't delay - the sale ends in mid-February.

The 2013 DeClutter Challenge and 52 Reasons to Simplify and Organize Your Life

January 8th, 2013

Let it go seascapeI just love this post from Brooke McAlary at SlowYourHome.com. So much so that I'm taking the challenge, ask you to join me and will keep you informed here with insights and tools to help make it happen.

In 2012, Brooke initiated a 2012 Declutter Challenge and she decluttered well over 2012 items from her home. I find this to be so beneficial in soo many ways - for you, your family, your finanaces, your peace of mind and the planet, that I am challenging myself and you to take this onl. Starting today, I will eliminate at least 2013 things from my home and office space over this year.

Let's start with the amazing benefits; some immediate, and some you will appreciate over time as you begin to declutter and get serious about simiplyfing your life of too much stuff.

So, here it is, motivation to take on the 2013 Declutter Challenge:

Brooke's 52 Reasons to Simplify in 2013, reposted from Slowyourhome.com

    1. Less physical clutter in your home.

    2. Less stress from constantly battling clutter and the emotions it brings.

    3. You will be less likely to overcommit yourself in daily life.

    4. Less time spent cleaning.

    5. More time for people you love – your kids, your partner, your parents, your friends.

    6. More good conversations as you will spend less time thinking and talking about stuff.

    7. Less impact on the environment.

    8. Learning that gifts and love are not the same thing.

    9. You will spend less money.

    10. You will eat healthier, less processed foods.

    11. Less dusting because you will have less knick-knacks decorating your home.

    12. Less time organising your belongings.

    13. Less waste – you will collect less packaging, less disposable fashion, less excess food.

    14. Less likely to inadvertently support child slavery and unfair work conditions through buying cheap, disposable items.

    15. You can stop being a slave to fashion trends.

    16. More honesty – you will get to understand what’s truly important in life, and honesty follows swiftly.

    17. You will focus less on the negative aspects of others – and yourself.

    18. Improve your mindfulness as you strip away all the things that distract you.

    19. Naturally focus on your health more as your self-awareness improves.

    20. Eat less takeaway.

    21. Feel pride in your efforts.

    22. Feel lighter in yourself – emotionally and physically.

    23. Accept that its OK to move forward, to change, to evolve.

    24. You will have more energy.

    25. You will think more clearly.

    26. Feeling more content with what you have.

    27. You will feel happier – or give yourself the opportunity to experience more happiness.

    28. More time to pursue passions and hobbies.

    29. More time for relaxation or to do nothing at all.

    30. Tidier wardrobes.

    31. You will be able to help those less fortunate with donations of both physical items and money.

    32. Spend less time getting dressed in the mornings.

    33. You will only own clothes that you like, fit well and suit your lifestyle.

    34. Spend less time organising your stuff.

    35. Everything you own will have it’s place – meaning it’s much easier to keep tidy.

    36. You will learn to embrace quality over quantity.

    37. Learning to look after what you do have.

    38. Discover that the value of people and the value of their stuff is not related.

    39. Watch less TV – you will cut out the mindless channel surfing.

    40. You will be more likely to consider travelling.

    41. You will have less luggage when you do.

    42. You will be more inclined to look for adventure or the road less travelled.

    43. Less time (and money) wasted shopping for things you don’t need.

    44. You will pay your bills on time.

    45. Your house will look more appealing because it will be less cluttered.

    46. Your cleaning routine will be simpler and easier.

    47. You will be less likely to find housework overwhelming.

    48. You need less furniture, which gives you more space.

    49. Your home and its style will reflect you, not IKEA.

    50. No more dreading drop-in visitors.

    51. You are giving yourself the opportunity to get out of debt.

    52. You can start saving for that long-awaited holiday/house deposit/college fund.

Ka-boom. Let's go for it...STARTING NOW. Whoop!

(and if you need help, we're here for you!)

Get Righteous and Rename Your “Get Organized” Resolution

January 1st, 2013

If you do a web search, you will find, year after year, that to get organized is usually one of the top 10 New Year's resolutions we set for ourselves. Since it shows up every year, it is safe to assume that we often fail to achieve this rewarding yet difficult resolution.

This year I would like to suggest, not just in honor of our beloved yet suffering planet but to make it easy on you as well, that we rename this resolution and call it: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Getting organized is a term that carries weight from your past, laced with the idea that you should be able to get yourself in order. It can feel like a sacrafice. It's no wonder the edict is so unachievable.

On the other hand, striving to simply reduce, reuse and recycle in everyday life is a fresh idea. It is righteous, honorable and just as rewarding getting organized. Further, reducing, reusing, and recycling can help not just you and your family, but also your community, and the environment since is saves money, energy, and natural resources.

Get organized by:

  • Reducing and reusing throughout your household.
  • Get your stuff reused by donating it to your favorite charity.
  • Recycling and repurposing clutter that doesn't serve you.
  • Eliminating used electronics via a multitude of local options.
  • Checking here for some options to get you started: www.epa.gov

And as ever, stay tuned to us here at BALANCE, where we can help you turn matter into energy!


BALANCE on A&E TV Hoarders Show Monday, 10 December

December 7th, 2012

A&E LogoI worked as an Organizer on the crew of a recent A & E Hoarders episode. At last, it will be broadcast this coming Monday, 10 December.

It was a great opportunity to work on the show. Though these stories can be difficult and bittersweet, note that the Hoarder clients are provided with "after care", as needed, to help them continue to make progress. The clients on the show I worked, with the fictitious names of Lee and BG, have been going to therapy since the show was filmed last May and are ready to start de-cluttering again. I will be working with them soon, with one or two of my organizer peers.

Hope you get to see it!


Clutter.. it’s not just stuff.

October 3rd, 2012

cartoon about throwing away old beliefsClutter can be anything that clogs up your life. Typically we think of it as stuff in piles on the desk, in closets or the garage, but you can have clutter in your head, with your schedule, or even in your relationships. Any place in your life where the flow of energy is blocked, consider that you may have clutter there. If you have pile on your desk, is it time to find a home for it or maybe it's just time to let it go? If you are struggling with a relationship, there may be a block due to thing left unsaid or an unresolved issue. It may even be you yourself who are blocked, where you can't seem to feel good about life or your self-esteem is at a low point. Consider that you have clutter in your heart and your head that is blocking you and keeping you from attaining your true power and gifts.

Be brutal with in clearing out and eliminating your clutter to be kind to yourself. It can be very difficult to take that first step. To let go of those once cherished possessions that are no longer serving you. To engage in that difficult conversation with a loved one and expose your vulnerability. Or to take on the challenge of taking care of yourself, with therapy, self-help, or simply by asking a friend for help. But it is essential if you are ready to free yourself of clutter... in all it's forms.

And you deserve it!

Waiting with bated breath for my Hoarders Episode…

September 18th, 2012

I had a wonderful, curious, laborious and exciting experience working on a recent Hoarders Episode filmed here in San Francisco. I worked with my peer, the fabulous Dorothy Breininger. I know you are waiting with bated breath for that episode to appear! Well, anyway, I am! Or maybe I just wanted a reason to write "with bated breath!"

Alas, here is the scoop: Dorothy recently let me know that the show will air sometime in October. Stay tuned!

Another Lesson on How Getting Organized Can Save You Money!

August 14th, 2012

Cost of clutterI trust the links my clients forward me to be the best concepts around finding balance from clutter. I love this Carl Richards sketch and the message is clear. Don't forget the costs of clutter. Here are some examples of what your "too much stuff" is costing you:

  • Cost of real estate, space and extra storage to house the "too much stuff"
  • Cost of all the bins, hooks, shelving and containers to manage it
  • Cost to your health - for most people, it is stressful to have clutter
  • Cost to your image - a cluttered office, home or closet will reflect in your image and appearance.
  • Cost of time - digging through the "too much stuff" to find what you really need
  • Cost of redundancy - buying new stuff because you can't find what you need in the "too much stuff"
  • Cost to your self-esteem -  most of my clients are embarrassed and ashamed of their clutter
  • ____ Am I missing any??

Holding on to clutter it is a waste of your hard-earned money. Another great reason to get organized at last!

The Tyranny of Multiple To Do Lists!

July 26th, 2012


To Do List ClutterMost of us have clutter and "getting organized" problems in some area of our life. For many folks, paper is a big one and a close second is To Do List or Action List management. If you end up with multiple to do lists, whether its several half finished notebooks, a few legal pads or dozens of little sticky notes, it is a burden. One of my clients even said of his many pads of notes, that they "kind of tyrannize me!"

According to Merriam-Webster:
tyr·an·nize   verb \ˈtir-ə-ˌnīz\
1: to exercise arbitrary oppressive power or severity
2: to treat tyrannically : oppress <a regime that tyrannizes its citizens>

Maybe it's worth taking the time up front to consolidate the lists and get disciplined about tracking them in the future. I am a big fan of David Allen (Getting Things Done) for time management stuff, who highly recommends having a compatible workflow system for getting things done. He asserts doing so in order to capture all the things that need to get done into a logical, trusted system outside of your head and OFF YOUR MIND. Thus, you free up your mind to recieve new information, to be present in the moment, to improve your performance ...it's all good!

So choose a source - paper, electronic, notebooks - wisely considering convenience and accessibility. When you get to the task of consolidating:

  1. Set a timer – for example, for 20 minutes – and just do the consolidating and getting things done until you hear the buzzer.
  2. If an item on the list will take 2 minutes or less, get it done immediately. Quick phone calls, emails and fast tasks.
  3. If an item has been on a list for a long time or has been transferred from list to list, it is likely not something you really need, want or have as a priority, so remove it from the list completely. Remember, be brutal about your list to be kind to yourself.  You are a unique, important and busy person so be arrogant about what gets to stay on your list. Is it worthy of your time? Does it fit into one of your top 5 life goals? If no, buh bye.

Carry on, man. Fight the to do list regime of tyranny!

Help for your Small Business Clutter Troubles and Congrats Tony!

July 20th, 2012

It was great to be a part of Tony's growing Small Business Forum Radio program; a radio show dedicated to supporting Small Business Owners. Our show in April specialized in helping you save money in Digital Marketing as well as getting back lost revenue from your clutter.

Listen here!

Happy Friday!

My Hoarders Experience? ..can’t say much, but it’s airing in August!

July 12th, 2012

I am under contractual obligation not to say much until the show airs, but I can share that I had an extraordinary experience, as expected, working on the crew with my peers filming for A&E Television’s Emmy-nominated weekly series, “Hoarders.”

Stay tuned and I will let you know when the show airs in August!

It was especially amazing to work under the guidance of Dorothy the Organizer, a Professional Organizer, Motivational Life Coach, Speaker and one of the Expert Organizers on the show. She was so generous with the time, support and wisdom she shared with our little organizing team. It was fun and rewarding to work with my bay area peers that made up the rest of that team: Courtney King and Kirsten Stein. 

It was also remarkable working with the Production company and film crew. It's one thing to be in Hollywood with a script. I see now that it's an entirely different skill set to work in a "reality" environment like this and create a useful and important story for the audience. I can't wait to see the results! 

And of course, 1-800-GOT-JUNK was there! A whole fabulous crew of blue-shirted, dedicated and hard-working Got Junk crew to help us out. You guys & gals ROCK!

I'm looking forward to the show!

Here We Go - My A&E TV Hoarders Adventure, DAY ZERO

June 22nd, 2012

Messy Hoarder ClosetNine TV production crew people,
one therapist,
five organizers (including me!),
ten 1-800-Got-Junk guys,
five housekeepers,
five painters,
three trucks,
500 empty boxes,
300 trash bags,
two angry, blaming hoarders

and three days to make a miracle! 

I'm game and ready! I expect this will be hard work, very rewarding and a blast.

By the way, this may be for "entertainment" but it is NOT a game. According to Dr. Renae Reinardy, a Psychologist who specializes in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Compulsive hoarding, "Compulsive hoarding is a very complex behavior. It's much more than just having a disorganized house. It's a multi-faceted problem with lots of pattern of thought, lots of pattern of behavior [issues]. There is often times co-morbid conditions. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, OCD, attention deficit problems, addiction difficulties and trauma histories can all be contributing factors that lead to a hoarding symptom or a compulsive acquisition symptom."

It is a misnomer that it's an easy issue to address. You might think "Just clean it up", but it's not that easy at all for the afflicted. It's actually a very biologically-based problem and there is even evidence that some genes have been targeted to be associated with Hoarding.

So much to learn!

Stay tuned!

The last 30 of 60 in 10, and Other Happenings

June 20th, 2012

The 2nd half of How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days will begin in 10 days on July 1st. Join us for more practical eco-tips that also get you organized in your home, office or business. If you want to catch up, it's all here.

Meanwhile, stay tuned to this blog for the scoop on my upcoming weekend filming an episode of Hoarders. Cool, right! As a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, I am one of 8 Organizers chosen to join the team. We will be filming in the Haight/Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco.

I expect this adventure to be illuminating in so many ways and fruitful for my practice.. and therefore, for you.

Whoop! Here we go. Filming starts this coming Saturday, 24 June!

How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days, Day 30: Contest and Clutter-eliminating Prizes!

June 2nd, 2012

In celebration of the 30th day of How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days, here's a chance to play and win! Guess correctly what blog entry in the
Get Organized Save the Planet in 60 campaign fits with each of these pictures and you're a WINNER!

ewaste CFL Bulbs Mad Men's Don Draper Pill Pile 

All winners will receive a BALANCE Get Organized Gift bag, which includes a copy of the book Get Organized Today and other useful organizing gifts.

Fine Print:
Completely biased judging by the BALANCE team, so be creative; multiple answers will be accepted.
Two photos can match with one blog entry.. or not. 
Blog entries are at this 60 Seconds to BALANCE blog dated April 20th to May 20th 
Up to 20 winners chosen randomly from all correct entries.
UPDATE: Use the form on the CONTACT page to submit you entry.
Extra credit if you share this on Facebook, Twitter or other Social Media sites!

Good Luck.

Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60, Day 29:  Use Your Butterfly Power

May 20th, 2012

beautiful butterflyChaos Theory's "butterfly effect" states that a butterfly flapping it's wings in Asia may cause a hurricane halfway around the world.

According to Chaos theory, "complex and chaotic systems -- which means most of the systems we encounter in nature and in society -- cannot accurately be predicted or exclusively controlled. Neither can rigid systems be easily budged. However, there's a loophole. What if we acted through the myriad tiny feedback loops that hold a society together? Chaos tells us that each one of us has an unrecognized but enormous influence on these loops. Chaos suggests that although we may not have power of the controller in the traditional sense, we all possess the "butterfly power" of subtle influence. 
                                                          -- John Briggs and F. David Peat, Seven Life Lessons of Chaos

Use your butterfly power. One small step at a time.

How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days - simple sustainability ideas to get you organized.

Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60, DAY 27: Packing Peanut Progress, But Clutter Nevertheless

May 19th, 2012

Polystyrene loose-fill packing materials, more commonly known as "packing peanuts", actually only contain about 0.4% polystyrene resin. The other 99.6% is simply air. That could be why it didn't take long to produce an eco-friendly alternative - the cornstarch peanut - which is 100% biodegradable and can be tossed in the compost pile. The Styrofoam version cannot be recycled and is a problem when it ends up in the landfill. The bottom-line, either way, is that packing peanuts end up as clutter in many offices and households.

What's the answer, you ask? Of course we have it here at the headquarters of How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days!

Packing PeanutsPLASTIC

• Many packaging stores (like UPS and Mail Boxes, Etc.) will take your peanuts and packing material.

• Find a local drop-off location at the Plastic Loose Fill Council or call their Peanut Hotline at 800-828-2214.


• Toss the cornstarch peanuts in the compost. (Don't eat them, man. contrary to a recent ad campaign, it's not a vegetable!)

• If you don't compost

• Cut up/shred the peanuts with scissors and mix with potted plant soil. The peanuts will break down and dissolve into the compost or soil over time.


• Fill a large bucket or trashcan with the packing peanuts. Add hot water to dissolve the peanuts. After the packing peanuts have dissolved, pour the starch residue and water down a drain.


Finally, for a packing peanut alternative, use shredded paper. If you don't have a shredder to protect yourself from identity theft, we strongly recommend you get one. If you do, and ideally if it's a cross-cut shredder, it's a great packing matierial alternative. A different messy problem to plastic peanuts, but on both ends its recyclable.

Day 26: Business Clutter Clearing - Start at the Mail Box

May 17th, 2012

Save Money Key

For businesses large and small, here's a planet-friendly tip: stop receiving mail meant for former employees by visiting the Ecological Mail Coalition. For every former employee entered into the site's database, a company will avoid 100 pounds of waste in undeliverable mail. That's equivalent to one tree! Since the estimate is that one former employee's bulk mail costs your business $18 or more, it's another win-win!

Day 25: The Symbiosis of Zine Clutter Clearing

May 16th, 2012

Piles of magazines are a perfect example of the symbiosis of sustainability and organization. To be sure, symbiosis, defined:
sym·bi·o·sis - noun -
1: the living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms; especially : mutualism
2: a cooperative relationship (as between two persons or groups)

Magazine PileIn reference to piles of old magazine subscriptions, by minimizing the magazines you read to those that you can consume in a timely fashion, you eliminate both the annoying clutter that clogs up your space and the need to fell trees - a planet hardship; the natural symbiosis of living a sustainable and organized life.

So for the planet's sake, consider your situation with magazines. I was at my local library and they were selling bundles of magazines for $1.00. What a great way to get rid of your piles of magazines - the library will reuse them. Besides the library, other places who may want your magazines include a doctor’s office, hospital or laundromat; a residential home or hospice; and schools, for children’s art projects or class work. You might even find a bookstore that will credit or pay a pittance for them. Save another bunch of trees by cutting back on the number of subscriptions you have to just those you love and can actually read in the short term. (Don't forget, magazines have a short shelf life

Read on, but not so it hurts!

Stay with us for more ideas on How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days - One simple tip a day to help you live organized and sustainable.

Get Organized Save Planet in 60, Day 24: Options to Scrap Your High Tech Clutter!

May 15th, 2012

Three for Tuesday - a 3-part tip on letting go of your old tech gear at last!

What to with all your old technology...? I find most people are reluctant to donate or discard computers, cell phones, hard drives and other data devices for fear that someone will get access to your confidential information. That is a valid fear. Data theft is actually pretty easy for a reasonably savvy scoundrel. Yet, once it's clean, it's pretty easy to eliminate this gear responsibly, thoughtfully or even profitably!

Keyboard in the GrassPart 1: Erasing the confidential data
Here’s a great video from PC World that guides you through several options to completely erase your hard drive, including the sledgehammer approach!

For mobile phone data, there are companies who would like to recycle, reconstruct and resell your old cell phone. As a service, they provide details on how to clear it for just about any mobile phone.
Pace Butler’s Data Erase Page
Secure Trade-in's Data Erase Page

Part 2: How to eliminate Tech Gear, the charity route…
There are likely several options for eliminating your tech gear right around the corner from your home. Most are run by non-profit organizations looking to fund raise. Making a quick phone call to your neighborhood school or community organization may be all you need to do to find out when the next technology drop-off day will be right in your hood!
Here are a few resources for you as well:

  • The Consumer Electronics Association sponsors a Recycle Electronics locator service. (While visiting there, you might also find the Energy Calculator interesting, to find out how much in energy dollars your electronics are costing you monthly and annually.)
  • If you have working products to donate and want to be sure they go to a non-profit who can use them, Christina.org will take care of you. Just let them know what you have and where you are and they'll hook you up!
  • Find a location here to take your Sony electronic products
  • Check out your nearby Office Depot Store, Staples or Electronics Store as most of them have a recycle program to offer.

Part 3: How to eliminate Tech Gear, the money route…
If you're short on funds and would like some money for your tech gear, you can always try to sell it on ebay.com or craigslist, but for the fastest route, I <3 Gazelle.com, who will give you a quote for your working tech gear. Check out my previous blog post for more Gazelle.com details.

Thanks for staying tuned to How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days – daily tips, inspiration, and food for thought on living sustainable and organized. Improving our planet and your life, brick by brick:

I avoid grandiose plans.  I start with a small piece that I can do.  I go to the root of the problem and then work around it.  It's building brick by brick.”  Muhammad Yunus

Day 20: Clutter Hunger

May 11th, 2012

"We excel at making a living but often fail at making a life. We celebrate our prosperity but yearn for purpose. We cherish our freedoms but long for connection. In an age of plenty, we feel spiritual hunger."

...and this is the American Paradox, according to David Myers. Once again, it's not about the stuff. And I have seen it many times before for my clients. Once you start letting of clutter, you make space for amazing things to come in to your life. De-clutter this weekend and find some purpose and a connection.

find purpose


Day 19: Manifest a Greater Future for your Plastic Clutter!

May 10th, 2012

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you – just one word.
Ben: Yes sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Ben: Yes I am.
Mr. McGuire: ‘Plastics.’
Ben: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Ben: Yes I will.
Mr. McGuire: Shh! Enough said. That’s a deal.

However, years later, Mr. McGuire might have been referring to the fact that plastic takes practically forever to go away! Petroleum-based plastics are non-biodegradable and are accumulating in our oceans, and in the bellies of birds and fish. Most of its coming from us, not from ships or the fishing industry. It's coming from land and washing down our water sheds.

What to do? Minimize your plastic purchasing and reuse plastic whenever and however you can. Give it a useful future.

P.S. Was Mr. Maguire the first person to say Enough Said?

Anyway, plastic = bad. Enough said.

Please hang with us for 41 more days of How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days - small sustainabilityideas to get you organized!

How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days, Day 18:  Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff!

May 9th, 2012

Don’t sweat the small stuff when recycling your paper, meaning the sticky notes, staples and such. In the paper recycling process, it all gets put into a big vat and pureed into a pulp "smoothie" where the random paper clip, staple or the sticky note glue substances get separated out. So recycle freely!

Day 16 & 17 - Your Unorganized Office Could be a Teacher’s Paradise!

May 8th, 2012

Two Tip Tuesday! Part 2.

In most offices that I have organized, a portion of the clutter is always office supplies. We gather tools of all kinds to support ourselves in our daily work, yet, since things changes constantly, there may no longer be a use for much of the office supplies you have gathered over the years to be productive. Meanwhile, most school teachers, already underpaid, are faced with shrinking budgets and forced to forage on their own for tools, school supplies and craft projects. Put things back in balance by sorting and boxing up office supply overstock and donate it to your local school. During the school day, just walk in with a box of it. This simple act will make you feel so good to when you see how grateful they are to get your clutter!

If stopping at a school is not convenient, here are some alternatives:
Do Something.org - who partners with Staples each year for a school supply drive
DonorsChoose.org - where you can choose a project based on a topic that interests you
Adopt A Classroom - who matches donors with a classroom in need of supplies

A bonus to this planet-friendly tip is that if you take the time to gather, sort and edit/purge your office supplies, it will make an impact in organizing your office. The process will make the space to move forward in organizing the other key area of office clutter - paper and files.

Thanks for joining us for How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days - practical tips, inspiration, and food for thought daily on living sustainable and organized.

Day 14 & 15 - Crayon Clutter?

May 8th, 2012

Two-tip Tuesday!  Part 1.

We took the weekend off so we're giving you two tips today...

Tip 1: Have you got crayon clutter? Are the "kids" using them anymore? If your household is in the teen years plus, there is a place to donate your used crayons. Check it! You can recycle them at www.crazycrayons.com. Crazy Crayons estimates that 12 Million "petroleum-based wax" crayons end up in our landfills every day, so they take unwanted, broken crayons and recycle them into new crayons and firestarters. Fun recycled crayon products that are great gift ideas.

Stay tuned for more How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days - simple, sustainable daily tips that get you organized too! Many people taking one small step at a time for personal and planet BALANCE.

Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days - Day 13: Plastic Bag Clutter

May 4th, 2012

Plastic bags are a blight on the planet. But don't take my word for it. The facts are in this article at Livestrong.com or check out this video to sort it out for you. I expect the number is decreasing, but according to a recent estimate, Americans use one trillion plastic shopping bags each year.

By now, most of us have a plastic bag alternative. The problem now seems to be remembering to take it with you when you go to the grocery store! Here are two simple options:

  • If you drive to the store, keep reusable or recycle shopping bags in your car, so they will be active and ready to serve you on your next grocery run.
  • If you walk to the store, install a hook or a nail near the exit door and hang them there.. again, ready and waiting to serve you.

Thanks for staying tuned to How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days. One simple sustainable organizing tip at a time.


Day 12:  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… Clutter-free philosophy

May 3rd, 2012

As a Professional Organizer, you see a lot of bins. What I mean is, by the time my clients call me, they have attempted to organize on their own many times and often start by going to the store and buying containers and bins, or a new shelf unit, or a closet system. We learn, as Professional Organizers, to reuse containers. During engagements, we always end up with a "container" area, and it is the one thing I make sure my clients don't purge or edit from their collection. Bins and containers of any kind, from the old tupperware containers to a shelf-extenders and wall hooks, it will likely be useful somewhere along the line as we organize. This is why I live fully with the 3 R's in my practice, especially the middle one. Reuse or as we call it, re-purpose, your stuff whenever you can.

"Commonly known as the three Rs, the reduce, reuse, recycle principle — in that order — is simply a way to live by producing less waste. You can have a major impact on the amount of trash that ends up in the landfills simply by changing your habits about buying, using and discarding your stuff. 

Here are a few of the thousands of ways you can reuse your stuff:
- use reusable containers
- maintain and repair products before buying new ones
- participate in your local recycling program

and if you must buy,
- buy products made from recycled materials
- buy products that are less toxic or contain less packaging

Live the 3 R's, in that order!"

[N. Castelli Excerpt from Get Organized Today]

Happy Thursday to you. It's cool and raining a little in San Francisco.


Day 11: Detox your Clutter!

May 2nd, 2012

I often see toxic stuff as clutter because most people really want to eliminate it responsibly but don't know how! Take some time now to collect this toxic stuff from around your home, if it's not serving you, as is the first step of organizing. We will provide you with more ideas during this campaign on how to get rid of it. If you can't wait, check out earth911.com - an information-packed website that will help you find the right resource.

This stuff is toxic, A.K.A., not for the landfill:
Technology gear, computers, mobile phones
Fluorescent tubes, CFLs
Pesticides and other garden chemicals
Ammunition, explosives
Road flares
Latex paint
Oil paint and other finishes
Solvents and thinners
Cleaning solutions, including, ammonia, bleach, TSP, all-purpose cleaners, metal polish
Used cooking oil
Fire extinguishers
Roofing tar and adhesives
Used motor oil and auto products
Photographic chemicals
Pool chemicals

Stay tuned to Get-Organized-Save-Planet-in-60 for practical tips, inspiration, and food for thought on living sustainable and organized. Word. :)

Get Organized Save Planet in 60, Day 10: Is there Clutter in your Energy Bill?

May 1st, 2012

Save energy and fight climate change with ENERGY STAR qualified products. They use less energy, save money, and help protect the environment. As of 2012, EPA estimates that ENERGY STAR products prevent more than 150 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. These and other Energy Star savings have offset the need for more than 185 additional power plants.

Refreshing your appliances eliminates clutter in your energy bill!

And when you do, don't send your old stove to the landfill. Keep the planet recycle circle complete by recyclling your old appliances instead. Repurposed steel is more energy-efficient than newly produced steel. If you have questions about recycling an old appliance, call 1-800-YES-1-CAN where a live operator will help you find the recycling services available in your area.

Day 9:  Clutter and the Planet - What’s the connection?

April 30th, 2012

"What does getting organized have to do with the planet? you may ask. Great question. Let me explain.

Everyone and everything on the planet is some form of matter and energy spinning together, evolving and all connected. Human beings are a lot of energy and a bit of matter. A tree, on the other hand, is more matter than energy. Let’s take it even smaller now — down to those shoes in your closet. They, too, are bits of matter and energy—the energy of a tree for its wood, perhaps a cow for itsleather and of course the human hands which formed them. Parts of this spinning earth came together to create a pair of shoes whose purpose is to protect your feet, allowing you to walk comfortably. When they are on your feet, supporting you, you give purpose to all the matter and energy that went into that pair of shoes. On the other hand, when they sit at the bottom of your closet, simply gathering dust, the purpose of those shoes is lost.

With this premise, I hope you can see how getting organized is all about sustainability. It’s about making sure that the stuff that you have around you supports and serves you. If it doesn’t, consider that it is actually bad for you and for our planet to hold on to possessions that could be out there serving someone else.

There are lots of reasons for you to get organized - peace of mind, balance, productivity, self-esteem. Allow me to give you one more. Do it for the planet — to sustain this planet for all of our children and their children, and so on. I invite you to embrace this philosophy, make it your own and put some balance back into the planet, and into your life. Turn matter into energy."

Excerpt from the book "Get Organized Today".

Thank you for tuning in to How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days. Join us for practical tips, inspiration, and food for thought on living sustainable and organized. Peace.

Day 8:  The Story of Stuff: From Clutter to Conscious

April 29th, 2012

My nephew introduced The Story of Stuff video to me several years ago. Take a moment to watch this if you haven't already, or watch it again if you have! 

A simple straight-forward video by Annie Leonard and The Story of Stuff Project. The video lightly but seriously explains the underside of our production and consumption patterns and how our linear system does not work on a finite planet. Annie says she's not against stuff, she just "wants us to have greater reverence and appreciation for our stuff instead of this buying and chucking all the time" Instead, think about the fact that "someone mined those metals, felled that forest, produced those crops or fished in that ocean" to produce what we get.

Think twice before you buy new stuff or replace your old stuff.


Please stay tuned to Get-Organized-Save-Planet-in-60 for 52 more days of practical tips, inspiration, and food for thought on living sustainable and organized. Balancing our love of stuff with love for the planet, one little idea at a time.

Get Organized Save Planet in 60, Day 7: Sneaker Clutter!

April 28th, 2012

When it's time to say goodbye to your sneakers, bring them to any Nike Reuse-A-Shoe drop-off location – there are more than 200 locations around the world, including all U.S. Nike stores. They turn them into basketball courts, football fields and, of course, new sneaks!

Thanks, Nike, for playing ball.

Thank you for visiting the "How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 days" campaign. Stay tuned for 53 more days of practical tips, inspiration, and food for thought on living sustainable and organized. Namaste.

Day 6:  Sustainable Inspiration…it’s not about the stuff

April 27th, 2012

Welcome to Day 6 of How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days. For today, just a few words of inspiration for you.

First, from Donella Meadows, a pioneer in the movement for an environmentally sustainable society, 1941 - 2000

"People don't need enormous cars, they need respect. They don't need closets full of clothes, they need to feel attractive and they need excitement and variety and beauty. People don't need electronic equipment; they need something worthwhile to do with their lives. People need identity, community, challenge, acknowledgement, love, and joy. To try to fill these needs with material things is to set up an unquenchable appetite for false solutions to real and never-satisfied problems. The resulting psychological emptiness is one of the major forces behind the desire for material growth."

Karl Marx said it a little differently, back in his Economic And Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844

"The devaluation of the human world increases in direct relation to the increase in value of the world of things."

Thank you for reading this blog. Have a beautiful weekend with your friends and family, and maybe give someone you love a kiss. You are on this planet for a very particular reason and you are amazing and unique. Challenge yourself. And for the joy part, here's one final quote from my favorite comedian, Steven Wright

"You can't have everything. Where would you put it?"

Get-Organized-Save-Planet-in-60, Day 5: Is Your Old Mobile Phone Still Clutter?

April 26th, 2012

Statue of LibertyDue to the short shelf-life of the tech gear we so love, hundreds of millions of used cell phones are taken out of service each year. Two brothers founded ReCellular, Inc. to refurbish, reuse and responsibly recycle discarded cell phones. The aim is to keep valuable materials out of landfills, including an estimated $630,000 of precious metals from circuit boards, and enough copper from phone chargers to recover the Statue of Liberty, twice!

You can sell your old iphone or blackberry here
Buy a refurbished model for a bargain (at the store appropriately called Mobile Karma
Donate your phone by using the locator to find one of 40,000 drop off locations. The site even has a handy little Data Eraser service to determine how to erase all your confidential information! 

Tres eco, ReCellular Inc.!

Please stay tuned to Get-Organized-Save-Planet-in-60 for 55 more days of practical tips, inspiration, and food for thought on living sustainable and organized. Got Clutter?

Day 4: Local Hardware Stores will Recycle Your Clutter

April 25th, 2012

In most cities, your nearby hardware store will take your recycle materials, often including batteries, cell phones; and even latex paint, Christmas lights and plastic plant pots! At Lowes, they "collected nearly 44 tons of CFLs and 236 tons of rechargeable batteries at in-store recycling centers last year. In 2012, they "expect recycling revenue to exceed their waste costs for the first time ever."  Be sure to think locally if you can; in San Francisco, our local Cole Hardware Stores have great recycling options.

If you want more information on this tip, contact me.

Please stay tuned to How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days for 56 more days of practical tips, inspiration, and food for thought on living sustainable and organized. Watch the planet smile.

Get-Organized-Save-Planet-in-60 Day 3: The win win!

April 24th, 2012

During these 60 days, we will list sustainable ways to get rid of the very typical types of clutter that we see over and over again in the homes and offices of clients. It's clutter because you know it can be recycled but you haven't yet done the research on how. Or maybe it's clutter because you just haven't decided whether it's time to let it go. This campaign will give you options to help you make those choices.

The result: You free yourself of limiting clutter and the planet gets back resources.

It's a win, win!

"Everything in excess is opposed to nature." 
-- Hipocrates (460-377 B.C.E.)


Day 2: Stop the Junk Mail!

April 23rd, 2012

Start at the mail box. Go to www.dmachoice.org or if you are in the San Francisco bay area go to stopjunkmail.org. At least 80% of your mail is someone trying to sell you something, and the Direct Marketing Association will stop most of that by going through their now mostly online process at DMAchoice.org.

Take af few minutes. Log in. Fill out the forms.

It's simple. It works. It's worth it.

Enough said.


If you want more information on this tip, contact me.

Please stay tuned to Get-Organized-Save-Planet-in-60 for 58 more days of practical tips, inspiration, and food for thought on living sustainable and organized. Their symbiotic!

Day 1:  How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days

April 22nd, 2012

How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 days starts here, now.

sus·tain·able (adj)
a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged
b : of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods

clut·ter (verb)
 : to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness

By eliminating your clutter, you are not only serving yourself, you are serving the planet.  The mission of the get organized & save the planet 60 campaign is to help you see how living a sustainable life and living an organized life are symbiotic!

Try it, one day at a time. I hope you will stay tuned!

Live it, like Tommy and Ludacris

Climate Change a Market Failure - How to to Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days

April 20th, 2012

In his report on the economics of global warming in 2006, Sir Nicholas Stern calls climate change a “market failure on the greatest scale the world has seen”. Then the economy failed, and our collective eye got further off the ball. Maybe it's time for one small change a day? That's what we think here at BALANCE Organizing Services based in ultra eco-friendly San Francisco.

In the seven years since opening her Professional Organizing practice in San Francisco, Nancy Castelli has morphed into a Save-the-Planet zealot. Yet her authentic and intuitive approach is really about getting her clients organized. "Getting organized is all about sustainability", Nancy quotes in a book she co-authored (Get Organized Today). "Putting the stuff that doesn't serve you back out into the Planet to serve someone else is simply the right, sustainable thing to do." Nancy brings a refreshing perspective to the long-begrudged task of finally getting organized, making it about the planet and living a sustainable life, rather than making it about you and your past transgressions around clutter. Her planet-friendly advice and philosophy will have you clearing out your closets, liberating yourself of stuff, and minimizing your planet-footprint in no time.

To celebrate seven years in business, and to help her clients and followers launch optimistically into the spring cleaning season, Nancy has put together a 60-day virtual event series chock full of daily inspiration, moments of brillance and practical, executable tips to eliminate clutter in a sustainable way. If you haven't had a good excuse to clear your clutter, well, you just got one! Do it for the planet's sake.

How to Get Organized and Save the Planiet in 60 Days starts Sunday, April 22nd, apropos that it is also Earth Day 2012. It is a 60-day virtual event series to help you get organized in a sustainable way and serve the planet. Smart and illuminating daily updates include:

• Organizing tips that are sustainable.

• Sustainability tips that will get you organized too!

• Coaching advice to motivate you to action.

• Inspiration and sustainable food for thought.

• Videos, prizes, and more...

Stay tuned by flowing the BALANCE blog, BALANCE on Facebook (facebook.com/balancesf) or on Twitter (@matter2energy).

Give a Listen: Radio Interview with Tony Wilkins, “There’s gold in your clutter, man!”!

April 20th, 2012

Radio microphoneI was interviewed this afternoon on Blog Talk Radio by Tony Wilkins, the Voice of Small Business Radio. Give a listen. In the first part of the show, Tony talks with Feras Alhlou, President and Founder of E-Nor, who is a Digital Marketing Evangelist. Feras divulges some great information on how to measure, analyze and prioritize your website activities and he proceeds to take the science out of Google Analytics.

About half-way through the one hour segment, at about 29:30 minutes into the program in fact, I join Tony for the second half of the show. In our interview, I share a little bit about my background, some great practical and inspirational tips on getting organized, how to get started on an organizing project, stories and more... Listen for my astute (?) quote: "There's gold in your clutter, man!"

It was a pleasure to talk to Tony and I hope you find some inspiration from this program.

On Earth Day 2012 - How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days!

April 9th, 2012

How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days!

Planet EarthOn Earth Day, April 22nd, 2012, we will launch a 60-day virtual event series to help you get organized in a sustainable way and serve the planet. Wrap your arms around the planet and get some BALANCE for yourself too. It’s symbiotic!

Smart and illuminating daily updates including:

• Organizing tips that are sustainable.

• Sustainability tips that will get you organized too!

• Coaching advice to motivate you to action.

• Inspiration and sustainable food for thought.

• Gifts, prizes, and more...


Join us on April 22nd at our BALANCE blog, on Facebook (facebook.com/balancesf) or on Twitter (@matter2energy).


A Feng Shui Checklist for Cleaning up Clutter

April 6th, 2012

In my daily readings, I came across these words of wisdom from the book by Dumont Monte, 365 Steps Towards Harmony. Feng Shui is at the heart of my practice. In almost everything you read or study about Feng Shui, the number one rule is to be organized and eliminate clutter from your space. Even if you don't practice Feng Shui, you probably agree that a cluttered space is a block to productivity and peace of mind. "Rooms crammed full of junk tend to block and impede the fruitful interaction between individual energy fields. Energy must be able to flow." Before a Feng Shui master can really begin to analyze a space or before you can gain true benefits from a Feng Shui Assessment, you must clear away the mess.

"You will be surprised to see how many problems disappear and how few aids are still necessary to set positive energy free."

Here is Dumont's Check for Cleaning Up:Photo of Book Cover 365 Steps

  • Commit yourself to clearing away the mess
  • Decide on a starting date and write in on your calendar
  • Set yourself a realistic goal - decide in advance how much you want to achieve
  • Make a timetable
  • Have bags and boxes at hand to dispose of the rubbish
  • Work behind closed doors
  • Before starting, take a few minutes to sit down and relax
  • Work from the top to the bottom
  • Have you got too much of everything? Part with it, even if it hurts! Decide as you go along - what purpose does a thing serve? Is it instrumental to your well being?
  • A good exercise is to get rid of one object a day.
  • Only acquire new things after ridding yourself of the old ones.


The Worst Kept Secret - ADHD and Clutter

March 24th, 2012

ADHD is the second most common mental health disorder in adults, second to depressive disorders. ADHD can be a very powerful gift but it is also something that needs to be managed. If you are supporting an ADHD diagnosis in your life, here are five quick ideas to help you find some balance from clutter and balance in life, in general!

  1. Carry a small portable notebook, and when one of your brilliant ideas or an action item interrupts you, write it down and then get back to what you were doing.
  2. Use timers to help you focus on the completion of a task. Where a watch with a timer to help you keep track of the passing of time. Check out the TimeTimer; you will love it! (see photo, right)
  3. Label stuff with big, bright labels: Bills, Project X, Taxes, Reciepts, etc.
  4. Simplify a task by breaking it down into smaller parts.
  5. Know your power and don't let people get you down (or your own inner voice), because you are remarkable!

And, oh by the way, here is a short list of the many remarkable people diagnosed with ADHD, or where written history suggests they might have had ADHD:
Anne Bancroft - Actress
Ansel Adams — Photographer
Beethoven — Composer
George Burns — Actor
Andrew Carnegie - American Industialist
Cher — Actress/Singer
Sir Winston Churchill — English Statesman (Failed the sixth grade)
Bill Cosby — American Actor, Comedian
Leonardo da Vinci — Italian Inventor, Artist
Walt Disney — American Cartoonist, Film Producer, Theme Park Innovator (A newspaper editor fired him because he had "No good ideas".)
Kirk Douglas — American Actor
Thomas Edison — Inventor (His teachers told him he was too stupid to learn anything)
Albert Einstein — Physicist (Einstein was four years old before he could speak,and seven before he could read)
Malcolm Forbes —Forbes Magazine Founder & Publisher
Benjamin Franklin —American Colonial Politician, Elder Statesman, Inventor
Galileo (Galilei) — Italian Mathematician, Astronomer
Ernest Hemingway — Author
"Magic" Johnson — American Basketball Player, Film Personality, Business Man
John F. Kennedy — U. S. President
John Lennon —Musician
Greg Louganis — Olympic Athelete (Diving)
Steve McQueen — American Actor
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — German Child Prodigy Composer, Violinist, Pianist
Louis Pasteur — Scientist, developed "Pasturization" (Rated as mediocre in chemistry when he attended the Royal College)
John D. Rockefeller —Founder, Standard Oil Company
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt — American First Lady
Suzanne Somers — Actress, Pinup Girl
Steven Spielberg — American Filmmaker
Lindsay Wagner — American Actress (Bionic Woman), Spokesperson
Stevie Wonder — American Musician

You are in good company!

My Expo Winner - Digitize Your Clutter!

March 23rd, 2012

My favorite product at the Organizer Conference Expo is Neat Receipts - an easy way to go virtually paperless.

A nominal investment in this remarkable product will make it easy for your to digitize bills, bank statements, receipts of any size and even all those annoying but essential to record business cards. Neat also simpllifies the process of organizing these documents and even move them up to the cloud for safe storage. if I don't win it in the raffle, i'm going to get me one!

Carry On! - Five Tips for clutter-free travel.

March 21st, 2012

I decided to take some extra time while on the East Coast for the NAPO (Nat'l Assn. of Professional Organizers) Annual Conference this week. I am traveling for 10 days, will be visiting 4 major metropolitin areas; using plane, train, car and even bus transportation; and will be staying in 5 places. Traveling light is critical for this type of journey. I wanted to be able to move around easily with one roller bag and a chic back pack, not to mention the advantage of being able to carry on my baggage for the cross-country flight. A decision I am thinkful for now, since I ended up getting stuck for 10 hours at LAX Airport. ugh!

Carry OnI'm an organizer, so this challenge was fun and easy for me, though it still takes some planning. For those of you for whom this challenge sounds almost impossible, fear not. It's easier if you follow these five simple tips:

1. Pick 1 and 3

When planning your wardrobe, choose one core base color (such as black, brown, grey, purple, etc.) and 2 or 3 accent colors and pack only those colors. That ensures everything will mix and match.

2. Accessory Accents

Pack accessory items in your accent colors. Things itmes like colorful scarves, belts, legware (leggings, tights and socks are so in these days), colorful camisoles and jewelry are small, easy to pack and can be used to change the look of your base color shirts, pants and skirts to make a whole new look. Layering with camisoles is also a great way to manage times of year like this where weather can be varied.

3. The 3 Ounce Rule

Invest in some 3 ounce travel containers or sample sizes of your favorite shampoo, skincare and beauty products. I have my toiletry and make-up bags always at the ready since I am a big traveler and I store it inside my luggage so it's where i need it when I'm ready to pack. I also like to have quality and fun products in there to treat myself while I travel.

4. Roll With It

Fold clothes neatly and in similar shaped piles. Get in the hapit of rolling items of clothing which will make it easier to fit things snuggly into the corners and crevices of your luggage which is otherwise wasted space. Rolling and folding things well also ensures less wrinkles when you get there.

5. If the Shoe Fits

Shoes take up a bunch of space so see if you can minimize your shoes to 2 to 3 pairs in your core color.

  • Watch for heel size... traveling usually involves a bit to a lot of walking so leave the Manolo Blahniks at home.
  • For girls, those bootie type shoes are great for winter, spring and fall since they can be dressed up and dressed down.
  • A nice pair of flats in your base color is a good choice.
  • For business or dressier travel, a pair of basic heels is essential.
  • In addition, it's also nice to pack a pair of not-bulky slippers or flip-flops for long flights and hotel rooms. 

Plan to wear the bulkiest shoes you packed to and from getting there to minimize space in your suitcase.

As ever, call me if you need help. Since I'm a big traveler, it's my specialty!

Daily Organizing Tips from the Professional Organizers Annual Conference This Week!

March 20th, 2012

I'm very excited to be attending the NAPA Annual Conference this week. Spending time learning and growing with my organizing peers from around the country and the world. I will be gaining a bevy of great information that will enrich my practice here at BALANCE. Stay tuned for daily updates including:

  • organizing wisdom
  • expert advice
  • inspiration
  • & even some travel tips.

A Jolt of Organizing Inspiration!

March 8th, 2012


SF Examiner Article - National Procrastination Week: Spring Cleaning Time!

March 5th, 2012

A little bit of BALANCE showed up in today's online San Francisco Examiner. Check out the story here, written by Laurie Farr.

National Procrastination Week, March 4-10, has arrived again. What a good time to think about how refreshing it is to clear out the closet clutter. Ditto for the attic, garage, shelves and garden shed. No need to think about moving, because it is easy to gain space at home. However, some people could use help in tackling the job and procrastination is just not the answer. 

Hello pack rats 
Clutter does create clutter. Most of us have crammed stuff in somewhere and quickly shut the door, just to make the sight of it go away. This works to a degree...until the next time that door is opened. Did you know that there are professional organizers to help? Nancy Castelli is one right here in San Francisco, owner of BalanceSF and a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. Nancy consults on house moves, downsizing, getting the nursery sorted, making room for growing families, wardrobe advice, decluttering of all sorts, recycling and even disaster preparedness. 

Chronic or situational
Nancy explains that some clients have struggled with clutter for years, eventually realizing that they cannot keep everything as they run out of space, an urban dwellers' woe. Others are overwhelmed with their clutter due to temporary circumstances in living arrangements. Perhaps a second child has arrived, a marriage or divorce may mean consolidation of households, inheritance of large amounts of furniture calls for some careful thought, the need for a home office may arise. Regardless, there is help available, and without a judgement call. 

Turning matter into energy
From old catalogs to obsolete CDs, skis to stationery supplies, we can turn matter into energy by creating space and recycling unnecessary items, creating balance in our lives and see stress go away with the mess. 

Prevent Your Office From Killing You!

March 1st, 2012

Here are some excerpts from an article by Alicia Ciccone in today's edition of The Huffington Post. Most of us spend well over half of our waking hours at work, so it's good to be sure that it isn't "killing you"!

"Is your office killing you? Hours of sedentary, stressful work under bad lighting is taking a big toll on your well-being -- and the health risks extend far beyond junk food at the vending machine.  ...here are eight tips -- from simple modifications to high-tech gadgets -- to help ward off the Grim Reaper at work.

#1 Stop Hoarding

OK, so desk clutter may not be killing you, but it certainly is killing your work. In fact, a cluttered workspace can significantly hinder your productivity and mental clarity, according to organizing guru Nancy Castelli, founder of BALANCE.

"Clutter is self-inflicted stress," Castelli says. "You waste time looking for something, then waste more time reproducing it because you couldn't find it."
Clutter Desk
Castelli recommends following a popular organizing acronym:
S- Sort
P- Purge
A- Assign a space
C- Containerize
E- Energize

#2 Drop the M

It's easy to let your diet spin out of control, but eating processed, fatty foods directly contributes to the expansion of your waistline, which significantly increases your risk of developing heart disease and Type II diabetes.

By brown-bagging your lunch, you know exactly what's in your food, and you're also limiting your options.

# 3 Don't Stress

While stress may seem an ever-present part of your workday, continued stress without any relief can cause adverse body reactions. According to WebMD, ongoing stress can attribute to headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pains and problems sleeping.

When work has you in a frenzy, it's best to mentally check out for a few minutes and get some peace and quiet. Yoga gurus recommend completing some simple breathing exercises and meditation to stabilize your heart rate and refocus.

# 4 Straighten Out

While sitting at a desk all day seems safe compared to hard labor, millions of Americans are doing long-term damage to their joints, muscles, tendons and spine by not utilizing a proper work station setup or simply sitting up straight.

# 5 Get Some Sleep

While sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body, most of us do everything in our power to avoid it -- working overtime and having too many late night distractions. Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your immune system, memory, mood, metabolism and general overall well-being.

# 6 Step Away from the Computer

While researchers have yet to conclusively prove that computers cause permanent eye damage, the unnatural, backlit glare of a computer screen almost certainly causes eye strain.

While many can't escape the reality of staring at a computer screen all day, there are several preventative measures that can help reduce eye strain, headaches and neck soreness caused by overexposure.

# 7 Walk this Way

No amount of gym time can make up for the eight-plus hours you spend sitting at your desk only moving your eyes and fingers. Catrine Tudor-Locke, a specialist in walking, said the minimum amount of steps a person should take in a day is 8,000. In reality, the average office worker logs between 3,000 to 5,000.

To counter the effects of sedentary work, specialists recommend standing desks and conducting walking meetings.

# 8 Drink Up

While the common notion of drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is slightly off from the Institute of Medicine's recommendations, (13 cups for men, nine for women), the health benefits of drinking water are widespread. ...even mild dehydration can cause you to feel tired and less energized, according to the Mayo Clinic.

While keeping a water jug at your desk is your best bet for adequate (and affordable) intake, ...Snacking on fruits and veggies like tomatoes and watermelon, which are nearly 90 percent water by weight, are a great and tasty source of fluids to keep your bodily systems functioning.

The 5 Key Steps for Any Organizing Project

February 23rd, 2012

Whether you are organizing the kitchen drawer, a closet or an entire room. the process of getting the work done can be simplIfied into a basic five-step process identified by the acronym "SPACE". This approach, first established by Julie Morgenstern, is only slightly modified here:


Sort – Sort all items into basic categories

Purge, or edit, if necessary – consider whether each item is active and serves you. If it's not beautiful or useful to you, let it go!

Assign a space – Consider the size requirements and keep like things together. Accessibility is key here; if you use it often, put it in a easier to access location.

Containerize – Remember to reuse or repurpose before you buy. Be sure to measure hieght, width and depth of spaces and add those dimensions to your shopping list.

Energize - Live with the changes for a while to make sure it works for you within your life flow, and modify if necessary. Monitor the space ongoing as your life changes.

The key to your success here is to do every one of these steps and, most importantly, to do them in this order. If you only do some of them, or if you do them out of sequence, they can be highly ineffective. And don't for get to label things during the containerize stage, especialy for multi-person households.

As ever, if you need help, give us a call at BALANCE.



A Clutter Clearing Proposition: Turn Matter Into Energy!

January 31st, 2012

I believe in matter and energy. I believe that everything, all of us and everything around us, is some form of matter and energy, spinning together, evolving and all connected. Human beings are a lot of energy and only bits of matter (ask a shark!). A tree, on the other hand, is more matter than energy. Let's take it smaller now, down to those shoes in your closet. They, too, are bits of matter and energy, made from the energy of a tree for its wood, perhaps a cow for its leather and of course, the human hands that designed and crafted them. Parts of our spinning earth came together to create a pair of shoes whose purpose is to protect your feet, support you as you walk and make you look fabulous. Those simple shoes are supporting you with joy, because you have given purpose for all the matter and energy that went into their creation.  Yin Yan day nite

So how is clutter supporting you in your life? How is matter and energy working in that case?  What purpose do those other pairs of shoes have that you have not worn in months or perhaps years? Indeed, nothing. Nobody wins in that case. The clutter stuff has no purpose. The planet gave up natural resources for nothing. And you, you are at minimum wasting time digging around the clutter to find the things that do serve you, and at worst (and more typically) are punishing yourself for the clutter in your life.
When you consider your own clutter challenges, consider this: That pile of paper wants a purpose. Those piles and boxes full of who knows what are not serving anyone. Those shoes need your feet, or someone’s! So get busy making decisions on your stuff. Ask: Is this active and serving me in my life?  If not, get it out of your space and back into this spinning planet to serve someone else. Or recycle it. It's good for you. It's good for the planet. It's good for your shoes! EVERYONE WINS! Especially fabulous YOU.

Turn matter - your clutter and disorder - into energy - where everything is in its place waiting to serve you.

Welcome to BALANCE - A place to help support your ongoing quest to live a more organized and balanced life. 

Organize your closet in time for the Container Store Sale

January 25th, 2012

Most, if not all, organizing projects do not start with shopping for containers. Indeed, that is almost the last step. The process actually begins with sorting and purging, then you choose where to put things based on usage, accessibility, proximity, etc. Only then, once you know what you have for a space, is it time to "containerize". 

Having said that, any organizing endeavor needs a reward to motivate you, though getting organized is its own reward. This time of year, I like to remind my clients that Container Store is having their annual Elfa System sale, but don't start by going to the Container Store and buying a new closet system. The sale is now through February 13th, so there is still time to organize the closet first. If you do so, the system in which you invest will serve you much better.Container Store Elfa System

Here are the basic steps for closet organizing:

1. Make space. Clear off the bed or the hall way or make some room around the space where the closet is.

2. Get some supplies, including trash bags, a marker, sticky notes, and a few baskets or bins.  Designate the containers as follows:

  • Elsewhere: This container is for items that belong elsewhere in your home.  Don’t waste your time going to put them away.  Put them in this bin to put away later or it may distract you and disrupt your organizing effort.
  • Donate: This container is for items you will donate to your favorite charity. 
  • Give Away (or name of person, people) – This container(s) is for items you want to give to someone else, perhaps to someone at work or a family member.
  • Optional:  Sell – should you choose to have a garage/yard sale or sell on eBay or Craigslist. 
  • Recycle – This one is obvious!  For our planet, recycle much as possible!
  • Shred – This one is necessary if you will be going through paper.  Shred anything with an account number on it!!

3.  Now Organize, which means pull each item out of the closet and decide if that item is active and serving you. Ask yourself these questions:
          Is it Useful?
          Is it Beautiful?
          Do I love it!?
          Have I used it in the last year or so?
If there are no Yes answers to the above questions, put it in the appropriate bin to eliminate it. 
As I tell my clients, be brutal about your stuff to be kind to yourself. Make the hard choices. The less stuff you have, the easier your life will be; more ordered and productive.

4. Sort the Keep items by type. Also decide whether items are best kept in this closet or perhaps belong elsewhere.

5. Measure and purchase a system. Once you have a completed sort of all the items that will go into the closet, it's now time to take measurements of the closet. You actually may determine that you don't need a new system for the space; all the better as you are now closer to finishing. If you do need a system, measure the closet depth, height, width and be sure to measure the door height and width as well. You can now go online to containerstore.com where a design system will walk you through creating a closet and the parts you need to buy. Or just head out to the Container Store where the rep will help you with the design and what closet accessories you will need, be it drawers, shelves, hanging rods, divider racks, hooks, etc. As you design, consider the categories of items that will go into the closet and general volume, to insure you have the right space for everything. For example, if hanging clothing, how many inches of hanging clothing? If books, how many feet of books?

6. Now install the closet and put everything into it. The installation can be a laborious step, unless you have a willing handyman in the house who will have fun with it. If there is no such resource, hire someone. It serves you to get it done and it serves the local community to employ someone else to get it done. There will be payoff every time you look into your well ordered closet and every time you find something quickly when you need it!

Reward yourself with a well ordered closet now, while the price is right!

And as ever, call us if you need help!

A Qi Master can help you with Clutter

December 28th, 2011

I was taking care of some business at City Hall and was asked what do we do at BALANCE. When I explained my occupation as an Organizer, helping people to get rid of clutter and find order in their home or business, the agent said "oh, so you are like a Qi Master". A Qi Master, yes, that is just what I do!

In traditional Chinese culture, qì (also chi or ch'i, pronounced "key") is frequently translated as life energy, life force, or energy flow. In Chinese Medicine, balanced and free-flowing qi results in health; while stagnant or imbalanced qi leads to disease. In the same way that an acupuncturist diagnoses physical imbalances, and works to re-establish free-flowing qi in the human body, and the practitioner of Feng Shui perceives energetic imbalances in natural or man-made landscapes, and applies various techniques to remedy those imbalances, so do I, as an Organizer, work with my clients and their clutter imbalances. We work together to establish a more open flow of energy. If your space, home or office, has clutter blocking the flow of positive productive energy, perhaps you need a Qi Master to help you get to balance.  

I'm a Qi Master, indeed!

Can getting organized transform? Bring inner peace, clarity, self-confidence?

December 19th, 2011

If you are procrastinating on getting organized, read this. Here is what my client said to me Friday before beginning our session to continue organizing her home (something she has been wanting to do for years!) This client is a busy, single, working professional. So far, we had organized all of her clothing, accessories and jewelry and began to organize paper.

Inner PeaceI am not publishing this to toot my own horn but rather to encourage you, if you keep putting off the project of getting rid of your clutter. I expect that deep down, you know this could be the result. Well, here is proof.

Her words, exactly:
"Working with you on this organizing project has been a healing and nurturing experience for me. It has been transformational! It has given me a sense of inner peace and self-confidence. Coming home and seeing the order of things now helps me to be more clear about who I am in the world and what's important. AND IT'S NOT THE STUFF! Now I have more inner capacity to hold conflicting ideas and emotions. I feel more at peace and less hurried.  And, anytime I want to get a contact "BALANCE" high I look in my jewelry drawer!"

You can hire someone like me or you can do it on your own and just read this blog once in a while for tips and support. Give yourself a gift this holiday. Get organized and transform your life too!