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 blanket (picnic, beach, chilly night, airplane, etc.)
a beach towel (very absorbent)
even a tablecloth!
Rock that sarong and happy holidays!
November 27th, 2013
I 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...
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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:
you have to keep the
else gives you"
-- Amy Tan --
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).
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...
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).
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.
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!
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?
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.
Now, 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.
And there you have it. Manage that gadget!
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.
May 28th, 2013
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!
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.
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!)
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.
March 14th, 2013
Chinese 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.
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!
March 9th, 2013
Today, 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!
January 15th, 2013
We 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.
January 8th, 2013
I 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!)
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!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
December 7th, 2012
I 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!
October 3rd, 2012
Clutter 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!
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!
August 14th, 2012
I 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!
July 26th, 2012
Most 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:
- Set a timer – for example, for 20 minutes – and just do the consolidating and getting things done until you hear the buzzer.
- If an item on the list will take 2 minutes or less, get it done immediately. Quick phone calls, emails and fast tasks.
- 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!
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.
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!
June 22nd, 2012
Nine TV production crew people,
five organizers (including me!),
ten 1-800-Got-Junk guys,
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!
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!
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.
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!
May 20th, 2012
Chaos 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.
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!
• 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.
May 17th, 2012
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!
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)
In 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.
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!
Part 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
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Oil paint and other finishes
Solvents and thinners
Cleaning solutions, including, ammonia, bleach, TSP, all-purpose cleaners, metal polish
Used cooking oil
Roofing tar and adhesives
Used motor oil and auto products
Stay tuned to Get-Organized-Save-Planet-in-60 for practical tips, inspiration, and food for thought on living sustainable and organized. Word. :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
April 26th, 2012
Due 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?
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.
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.)
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.
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!
April 22nd, 2012
How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 days starts here, now.
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
: 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!
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).
I 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.
April 9th, 2012
How to Get Organized and Save the Planet in 60 Days!
On 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).
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:
- 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.
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!
- 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.
- 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)
- Label stuff with big, bright labels: Bills, Project X, Taxes, Reciepts, etc.
- Simplify a task by breaking it down into smaller parts.
- 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!
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!
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!
I'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!
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
- & even some travel tips.
March 8th, 2012
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.
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."
Castelli recommends following a popular organizing acronym:
A- Assign a space
#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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
I 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!
December 9th, 2011
About a year ago, someone gave me the gift of a lovely little memo book encased in silver. It has a red leather front and silver pen that clasps the notebook shut. Yes, I'm organized, so I put it in a small drawer in my office that holds my reasonable collection of note pads. (I regularly have one that is active to hold all my notes and action items.) This one for me was unique, so I wanted to wait until I had the perfect purpose for it.
Until then, I kept it in the drawer.
The other evening I was pleased when a purpose arose and I remembered the little red notepad. I'd been inspired by a client, who always keeps a pad and pen by his bedside to record thoughts and action items while decompressing from the day. As per David Allen, the productivity genius behind Getting Things Done, it is best to get those thoughts out of your head to free your mind to be more productive, or in this case, to have a restful sleep.
The notebook looked nice on my bedside table and I felt happy I had waited until I found the perfect use for it! But, alas, I had waited too long. After using it to write down a few items, the tiny silver pen was out of ink and was useless! I broke one of the many lessons I share with my clients: Use your stuff! If you keep it, make it active to serve you now because: everything has a shelf life.
The little pen,
That electronic device,
So use it. enjoy it. Especially if it's beautiful and makes you happy. When you find yourself putting something aside to "save beautiful things for just the right moment," ask yourself, "why isn't just the right moment right now, today?"
If you being amazing is not a good enough reason (which of course it is), as ever let me remind you of the planet. Some natural resources went into the making of that little silver pen.. only to dry up and be wasted. You see, no one was served. Not the planet, not me, not good karma energy to the people who worked hard on the factory line (probably in China) to produce that pen. No one. sigh.
So, go on now, go... take a bath and use those bubble bath salts you have been saving. Use that good china tonight! Don't wait for the holidays. Make sure your beautiful stuff is active. Serving you. Now.
Or pass it on to someone who will. For the planet's sake.
A.K.A at BALANCE: turning matter into energy.
November 21st, 2011
Nancy will be appearing on Blog Talk Radio with Dale Little and her program: Business Strategies That Work!
Dale regularly hosts speakers who empower Small Businesses with practical tips and techniques to increase small business profitability. Her shows cover the topics of Marketing, Social Media, Web Presence, Communication, Administration, Motivation and much more.
Tune in on Wednesday, November 23rd at 09:00AM to hear Nancy's powerful message:
If you want to effect change in your life or achieve goals; if clutter is a new or a chronic block in your life or business, than this program is for you. Whether it's with career, family or personal aspirations, getting organized is an important first step to getting what you want! After listening to Nancy, you will have learned:
- A rich philosophy and concepts that will change the way you think about and manage your clutter.
- Tangible advice and quick tips on how to get more organized right away.
- A simple secret to effective incoming paper and task management.
Spend an hour with Nancy and Dale and get clutter out of your way!
September 27th, 2011
Some Comic Relief!
July 28th, 2011
Rest in Peace Kenya, my sweet Boxer.
June 26, 2000 - July 28, 2011
May 12th, 2011
I was listening to talk show a while back on NPR where the respected commentator asked a panel repeatedly: “What are you doing to affect sustainability in your everyday life.” For a long time, the educated and interesting members of the speaker panel could NOT answer this simple question. It was evaded, ..ignored. Finally a young gentleman said something close to: "I took a water bottle [given at this conference] the first day and have been refilling it with the tap water in my hotel room".
Simple, beautiful, green.
So, what are you doing to affect sustainability in your everyday life? What if I told you it’s so easy to have least one answer, if not 10!
And if one person at a time changes a habit, that's MILLIONS, TRILLIONS in the reduction of use of water bottles, for example, which otherwise are a daily blow to our planet’s health.
My gift to you - to follow are some easy planet-friendly habits to add to your life. Reduce, reuse and recycle; in that order; for the love of Our Planet:
- Water bottles, as mentioned above (only reuse once or twice.) And/or, buy an aluminum water bottle or two and use them daily.
- Recycle books. Everyone can use them. They were made from trees. They educate us. Most donation centers and libraries will take them.
- Visit your local community recycle/trash service. Ask questions.
- Pick up your doggies poop. No really - your doggies cute, but the poop is toxic and of no value to any surface. In particular, the bottom of my hiking boot. Aarrgh!
- Designate a (sealed, hard plastic) bin somewhere to collect expired (toxic!) batteries. Put it in a shared hallway if you live in a multi-unit space. Hardware stores will take your batteries.
- Stop shopping for a while
- Most Packaging stores will take your styrofoam peanuts.
- Get a programmable thermostat.
- And more... wire hangers, ... tech gadgets, ...shopping bags, ... magazines, ... fabric, ... office supplies. People could really use this stuff, like drycleaners, non-profit organizations and schools. For more info, read my book for the top ten ways... Pg. 188!
And here's your inspiration:
Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" ...make that change!
Or just listen, and make a change.
March 28th, 2011
Laurie Jo Miller Farr, a journalist on the Yahoo! Network, was curious about how a professional organizer can to break bad habits around clutter. I spent a little time telling her more about the value of getting organized and my work as a Professional Organizer. Her refreshing prose will open a window for you on the general art of getting organized and the process of working with someone like me!
February 21st, 2011
Nancy Castelli, and her Peers, Share Their Best Tips at IKEA
To commemorate Get Organized Month in January of 2010, IKEA teamed up with the National Association of Professional Organizers San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NAPOSFBA)
to offer consumers and businesses shopping at IKEA an opportunity to see Nancy and several other Organizers demonstrate organizing tips to help them regain control over their space, focusing on bedrooms and closets. The Organizers demonstrated how to use IKEA products to address a variety of organizing dilemmas. Nancy recommends her clients to IKEA because they offer a wide range of well‐designed, functional products at prices so low you don't have to break the bank to get organized.
January 26th, 2011
Pop Quiz: Is your clutter killing you?
I'm was browsing through an interesting book called "The Owner's Manual" (Harper Collins), written by two M.D.'s. It's "An Insider's Guide to the Body that will Make You Healthier and Younger". Who doesn't want to be healthier and live longer? Early in the book, they ask you to test how "body smart" you are with a quiz. The very first question was the closest I have seen to an ROI (Return on Investment) study on the benefits of getting organized. ROI, in this case, measured in years of life.
Here it is:
Which of the following ages you the least?
a. Smoking one pack of cigarettes a day
b. An HDL cholesterol level of 29 mg/dl (for those of you who don't know, that's sorely inadequate)
c. Consistently avoiding a nagging task on your to-do list (...in other words, clutter!)
d. Eating steak twice a week
The answer.. eating steak twice a week ages you the least. A lousy cholesterol level will age you about 4 years. And, drum roll please, avoiding a nagging activity - such as those clutter piles or an action item you hate - will age you just as much as smoking a pack of cigarettes a week! The doctors say it will age you eight (8) (yes, eight) years! Yikes! Eating steak ages you less than a year.
So, the return you get from investing in getting organized is to live a longer, less stressful life! Does your clutter stress you out? Time to get organized. Eliminating those nagging to-do items. The time is now. Because, it's aging you my friend.
Stay tuned to www.balancesf.com in 2011 to help you stay young! Our mission, after all is "to inspire your quest to live a more organized and balanced life."
December 30th, 2010
I was raised in a large family; fifth of seven children. As you might expect, every once in a while my mother would get to her wits end. She must have read somewhere, in her own quest towards self-actualization, that when you really hit your limit, count to 10, out loud and deliberately. It was a trick that seemed to work for her and soon enough, it worked on us too. When we heard my mother say 1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8..9..10, often through clenched teeth, we knew it was time to simmer down fast, or ELSE!
Though it's a survival bonus tip for just about anyone, especially parents, that little story doesn't have a whole lot to do with the topic at hand. Yet I am reminded of it with this get organized tip: Using the count of 10 is a neat way to clear some clutter fast, to help you dig out from under the holidays for example, or any time when you have been very busy and clutter has ensued.
In any cluttered space - a particular room, the surface of your desk, wherever - just start with 10 and count down. The key - with each count, pick something up and put it away. It's simple but it works. I often do this in the bedroom before I retire Or the surface of my desk at the end of a work session.
So I guess counting down from 10 to 1 is not just for New Years anymore! I hope this helps you jumpstart your "Get Organized" New Years resolution.
And, since we are on the topic, I hope you have a productive and clutter-free 2011.
Best wishes for BALANCE, from me and Kenya!
August 1st, 2010
I am finishing up a job with a client who called me knowing she had a move planned. The move was a downsize to a smaller home after living decades in the current space. It was at last time to go through her life possessions and get organized.
First, we discussed her vision, focusing on the future. How do you want your life to be? What will you be doing? What are your priorities? Once clear, we kept that in mind over these last few months as we went through each room. For each and every item, we asked:
"does this item serve you?
Is it useful?
Does it bring you joy?
Is it beautiful to you?
Do you LOVE LOVE LOVE it?
A half-hearted "well, I like it" just isn't good enough. After a while it became very easy for my client to make the choices and let go when the anwer was NO. And, she kept on letting go on the unpack, when she was in her new beautiful smaller space.
You see, organizing is about you, about being good to yourself. Let me reiterate. Please, get arrogant about YOU when you organize. You are a unique, special individual unlike no one else walking on this planet today, so you simply don't have the time or the space to have things around you that aren't perfect LOVE LOVE LOVE items that serve you.
When you pack to move, it costs you money to buy the boxes, move the stuff, pay the movers. Even if you are doing it yourself, it cost you time and energy not to mention the cost to the planet to transport things that don't serve you.
No worries, however, because if you do not have the luxury of time to go through things slowly before packing, there is another opportunity to do so on the unpack. I tell my clients: when you unpack, think of each box as a new present to open. Are you happy to "get" that "gift" you just unwrapped? Again, will you use it and/or enjoy it? DOES IT SERVE YOU? If no, "return it". That is, put it back in another box, take it to a donation center or give it away to friends or family. Get it back out into the planet to serve someone else.
Stuff that serves you is either useful, joyful, or beautiful to you. Anything less, and it's a waste of your precious time.
Call me if you have trouble. Your worth it.
July 23rd, 2010
Get Organized TODAY is a key tool in building a successful life; to bring ease and flow to your day-to-day living when clutter has got you down. More professional and personal organization and preparedness expertise is yours with these insights from Nancy and her organizing peers. With Get Organized Today, you will better manage your life and be ready to handle any situation with ease. To support you on your mission to live an organized and balanced life.
This book includes expert strategies to:
- Capture the Vision to Create a Space You'll Love
- Create a Productive Environment in Five Steps
- Overcome Chronic Disorganization
- Build the Perfect Closet
- Create a Home Office that Works for You
- Conquer Paper Piles
- Organize for Disaster and Be Prepared!
- and more...
Including Nancy's Chapter -> Get Organized for the Planet, that outlines 10 incredibly easy ways to turn your matter (clutter) into energy (where everything is in its place waiting to serve you) in an Eco-Friendly way!
July 20th, 2010
Planet Tip – Create Less Trash
It has been measured that each year Americans produce 4.6 pounds of garbage per person every day. Let’s take a simple step to help sustain the planet by creating less Trash! Here's a few easy ways to cut back on your weekly waste, sourced from Real Simple Magazine:
- Banish plastic packaging - On your next shopping trip, steer clear of plastic containers. Look for comparable items packed in paper cartons or sold in bulk.
- Stock up on sponges and handkerchiefs. Forgo the rolls (and rolls) of paper towels you use and try reusable sponges or washcloths to clean up spills. Or put in use some old fashioned handkerchiefs in lieu of using those big boxes of tissues everywhere, cluttering up your garbage cans.
- Feed the Earth. Compost food scraps instead of throwing them away with your regular trash. They'll break down and help create fertile soil for the garden or houseplants. Indeed, the Secret to some of the most productive gardens is the use of compost. You will find "how to build a compost bin" instructions all over the web. Here's my favorite: http://simplemom.net/how-to-make-a-compost-bin/
- Concentrate. Choose concentrated versions of household basics, such as laundry detergent. You will use less of the product and won’t have to throw away big containers as regularly. Especially if you have soft water, which means you can use about half the recommended detergent per load!
April 19th, 2010
"Qi" is a central concept of Feng Shui (also written Chi or Ch'i, pronounced "key). It is best defined as "life energy," "life breath," or "active energy that flows through all things".
Everything is constantly in motion, everything has its own energy field and is connected in some way. All energy fields directly influence each other. Whether strengthening or weakening, everything flows. It is easier to follow the stream of Qi and to know what it favours, than to swim against the current. Clutter swims against the current; that is, it impedes the natural flow of positive Qi. It weakens...
In other words, according to Feng Shui teachings, a messy home or office indicates a disjointed life. If a stack of old newspapers or a pile of paperwork hinders the flow of Qi over a long period of time, Sha Qi will impose its negative influence on other areas, making you tired and even depressed.
- A congested entrance indicates a lack of openness toward new things.
- A mess under the bed may well keep you from getting a good night's sleep.
- Such "blockages" also occur when you postpone paying invoices or making an unpleasant phone call.
- Check your pockets or wallet: If you find ticket stubs, sweet wrappers or old receipts, throw them away, to ensure the free flow of money!
For harmony and free flowing positive energy in your space, start with eliminating your clutter! Like I always say, when you get organized you are turning matter into energy.
And, as ever, if you need help, call me!
April 15th, 2010
There can be clutter and disorganization in your closets, on your desk and in your file cabinets. There can also be clutter in your head, with to do lists and action items, and even in conversations. "Conversation clutter" is especially a time-waster when it happens in meetings, where multiple peoples are affected. I read a great article written by a fabulous Coach (not to mention a good friend of mine), Nikki Anderson. It resonated with me as a very simple process to follow in order to lead an effective ORGANIZED meeting.
According to Nikki, there are three simple yet important steps to conducting effective meetings:
1st - Create an Agenda, to be clear on WHAT you are there to talk about. I would add that it's ideal that the agenda is distributed prior to the meeting so that everyone is prepared and/or has a chance to add feedback.
2nd - Have a Desired Outcome, to clear on WHY you're talking about these issues. My .02 is to state this outcome clearly at the beginning of the meeting and get everyone's agreement. Write it down on a flip chart if there is more then 2 or 3 people in the meeting, and add other peoples ideas if there is feedback.
3RD - Set Next Steps, to clarify HOW each person is going to implement the outcomes, including WHEN they are responsible for a deliverable. And, if you are in the meeting, to save yourself from head/action item clutter, write down your next steps and due dates.
As Nikki affirms, these straightforward steps will ensure your 'good ideas' are part of a productive, satisfying meeting with successful results.
Check out Nikki's blog for more great articles.
March 22nd, 2010
It's madness, what comes into your space every day; mail, paper, reciepts, business cards, flyers, schoolwork, magazines and more. Yet, it's really very simple. Look at it this way: every piece of email and incoming paper fits into one of a short list of categories, indentified by a simple acronym. To manage incoming paper, you just setup a system to sort based on these categories as, soon as new paper enters your space. For personal, it’s RAFT. For a household or business, it’s RAFT'eD, as follows:
R = Read
A = Action. Where the next step is to take some action, such as pay a bill, make a phone call, consider invitation/RSVP, send an email, etc.
F = File. A business or home file system should be accessible, so easy to do that you file most things immediately or almost immediately.
T = Toss, as in recycle or shred. When it comes to paper, virtually all of it will either get shredded (anything with an account number) or recycled. Note that windowed envelopes, sticky notes and even some staples are ok in San Francisco and in most cities that recycle.
and, for a business or household,
D = Delegate - Distribute to appropriate household or staff member. Note, just as you have mail boxes in an office for each employee, have an in basket or incoming mail file folder at home for each adult family member.
As you proceed, here are a few key points:
-> A Green Tip: Paper that is not confidential and unprinted on one side can be reused in your printer for scrap printing.
-> Remember that 80% or more of your incoming mail typically will go to “T”
-> Open mail every day. Sometimes you will skip a day, but if you do it every day it will soon become a habit, it will get easier and faster and it won't pile up.
-> Get angry and arrogant about paper. Stand by the recycle bin and toss freely. Most of what comes in is someone trying to sell you something anyway! Don't take the business card or flyer if it doesn't serve you. Don't keep paper that isn't about YOUR goals and desires TODAY. Let it go.. you are too important in your busy life to waste time sorting and acting on things that don't serve you.
Ok... Manage well. Toss Freely.
And, as ever, call me if you need some help!
March 17th, 2010
From the dictionary:
clutter - 1556, var. of clotern "to form clots, to heap on". From the Middle English word “clotter” which means to coagulate.
Whether it's the toxic stuff cluttering your space or the toxic stuff you put in your body, clutter, inside and out, may be "coagulating" both you and your space. Time for fresh new habits around what you keep in your space and how you nourish your body.
Winter is ending.
Spring is coming.
Time for a cleanse with Teresa and Nancy to get some great ideas and a foundation to begin to get rid of all the excess clutter in your life!
BALANCE Tuesday workshop events are relatively intimate – from 10 to 25 attendees – so you will have the opportunity to get direct feedback on your specific issues and goals. The workshop locations are chosen with an emphasis on comfort and style. No cold, dark, echo’ing rooms! Each attendee will receive a gift bag. Snacks and H20 served.
March 10th, 2010
Most of us are familiar with the concept of donating our possessions to a donation center. Often, however, I still see bags of clothing and such that end up sitting stagnant in a corner as clutter. Make it easy to get these items out of your space and into a new space by findng a donation source that is meaningful to you and easy to get to in your "life route".
Add these three simple steps to your life:
1. Keep a donation box or bag in every bedroom of the house and in utility spaces, so adults and children in the household get into the habit of filling it up when clothing or possessions are ready for a new home. (That’s a great way to start good habits if you have children!)
2. Choose a donation source whose mission you value, so that it motivates you and your loved ones to donate often. If you are a pet lover, find a pet organization that takes donations.
3. Finally, if possible, find a source that is in the neighborhood, maintains hours that work with your busy schedule and is in an easy-to-get-to location. Ideally, a place somewhere on your normal work or errand route or near a place you go often. That way, it’s easy to get these items out of your space and into the hands of someone else who can appreciate them.
My favorite source in San Francisco is Community Thrift, where you can choose the charity (from a long list of local and national charities) who gets a percentage of the proceeds of your donation items once they are sold at the store. I call it the double give!
The Community Thrift Store
623 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
Community Thrift is a non-profit thrift store in San Francisco that relies entirely upon donations to stock it's shelves, and they even have a super easy drop-off window though check out their site for directions to it and to learn more: www.communitythriftsf.org
March 2nd, 2010
These basic truths about kitchens will help you put yours in an order that serves you. Where every item you want is in the right place, appropriately accessible and waiting to serve you. The way to start is to understand the core activities performed in the kitchen and then "zone" your space accordingly.
The typical activity zones are:
- Food Preparation
- Dishwashing and Dish Storage
- Food Storage
- Household Information Center
Food Preparation Zone
In this zone you are chopping, mixing, cutting, seasoning, and so on. The longest available counter is best for this zone, ideally between the sink and stove or the sink and refrigerator. In the cabinets above and below this counter area, store cutting boards, knives, mixing bowls, measuring cups, spoons, appliances, seasonings, and other food preparation items.
Clearly, the cooking zone is best located near your stove and cook top, and near this location you store pots, pans, pot holders, bake ware and cooking utensils.
Dishwashing and Dish Storage Zone
To make clean-up and storage of everyday eating and drinking items easier, you want this zone near the sink and dishwasher or dish drainer. It will include everyday dishes, glassware, flatware, dish towels and detergent.
This zone houses the heavy-duty cleaning and maintenance supplies for the kitchen and is usually under the sink. For outsized mops and brooms, you can store them in a closet or on hooks nearby.
Food Storage Zone
This is where food is kept, including the refrigerator and pantry space. In kitchens with no pantry, consider storing the food in the cabinets nearest the refrigerator.
Household Information Center
Finally, every kitchen has some level of paperwork or where all the mail gets dumped. This area can include everything from notepaper and cookbooks to a computer and household files. Determine what reasonably gets done in the kitchen (set boundaries) and make the right space for it. Managing household paperwork is a “big” organizing challenge, so stayed tuned to balancesf/blog for more on household paper organizing.
Once you have arranged your kitchen with zones, you will find you spend less time traveling within your kitchen to get things. What you need will be close by and convenient. Kitchen tasks will be simplified and clean-up will be easier. You’ll save time and stay organized.
February 22nd, 2010
You often hear the story about the young guy who gets famous with some techno business idea and you may think, darn I wish it were me. This story is so super fine and cool, you won't be green with envy, but it is green! Terracycle was founded in 2001 by a 19 year old Princeton Univ. freshman named Tom Szaky whose dream was to find a more responsible way of doing business that was not just good for the bottom line, but good for the planet and for people.
Terracycle is an extraordinary operation that turns your “trash” into useable stuff. Send them your juice bags, for example, and they will turn them into colorful purses and pencil cases and resell them at Target or Walgreens. They’ll even donate money to your charity of choice for each item you send them.
To participate in the Candy Wrapper Brigade, for example, all you do is sign up online and you will receive prepaid postage labels and collection materials from Terracycle. Once you collect enough candy wrappers to fill a collection bag, you affix the prepaid postage label and drop it off to UPS. The program is designed for schools, universities and other non-profit organizations that get money back for each item collected.
As of this writing, Terracycle has over 8.6 million people collecting trash, are making 181 products and have donated $562,000 to charities.
Go Tom. Get Green. ...and the planet lives on.
February 10th, 2010
It's nice to have a printed list of the upcoming holidays but even better to have them all posted in your calendar with reminders. So you won't forget to pick up those roses for Valentine's Day or to phone home for Mother's Day. Not to mention knowing when it's a full moon so you have an excuse for eratic behavior!
If you are an Outlook user, here's a solution. I've been using this service for years to refresh my calendar at the beginning of the year. It's so easy and it's relatively inexpensive. And if you do have issues with the service, their support is very helpful: http://www.calendar-updates.com/
February 9th, 2010
In the world of getting organized, "containers" are anything from a hook on the back of a door to a bin or box or even an entire shelf system or custom closet installation.
As ever, The Container Store is having their annual elfa sale. elfa is a modular shelving and drawer system that can be customized to your needs and your space to help you get organized. You can use the systems in just about any room, including the closet, office, garage or pantry. It's a relatively low cost and attractive "do it yourself" way to create a custom built-in closet and or a shelving system. Until Monday, 15 February, you can get 30% off a closet or built-in system!
It's unlikely that you will get organized if you start by going to Target or The Container Store or to IKEA; a mistake many people make when they set the goal to get organized. While these are all great sources for "containers", the FIRST step is to sort your stuff and purge, or edit. Editing as in letting go of what no longer serves you. Yes, it's true, organizing usually involves making some choices to let go. These decisions can be difficult, but they are always ultimately LIBERATING and REWARDING.
So, step 1 and 2 - Sort your stuff and edti. Let go of what doesn't serve you now in your life. Then, step 3, decide where the rest of the stuff goes. Then, and only then, if you need a shelf or a bin, it's not until step 4 that you head to the store, because that is when you know what you have!
(And don't forget, it's good for the planet if you repurpose those bins and boxes you bought the last time you tried to get organized!)
Make sense? Contact me if not.
February 3rd, 2010
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture*, if the typical "stay-at-home" mother in the United States were paid for her work as a housekeeper, cook and psychologist among other roles, she would earn $138,095 a year. OK, so first may I say what's with the "stay at home" mom descriptor? As if, tra la la, I'm just staying at home, bon bons, etc. Jeez oh Pete... not the Mom's I work with. So, please, "full time mom" ...it's an occupation and in my mind, the most important one any man or woman can take on.
So, is it hard to stay organized if your job is "Mom"? Yep, because, to meet that $140K salary, you would have to hire: a cook, a child care provider, a laundry service, a driver, a facilities manager, a janitor, a computer operator, a chief executive officer (oh yea, you are so good at that) and a psychologist. So you, master multi-tasker, are doing the job of many people. How do you keep it all sorted out?
First, simply accept the challenge you have taken on and know that at times it will be difficult to keep everything organized. Forgive yourself and have fun. Second, when you have a chance to breath, (sigh), review in your head what your top priorities are at this given moment. Not each individual action, just the top level goals and priorities you have as the family CEO. E.g. Jenny's Birthday, travel trip coming up, working with Tommy's learning issue, my husband/partner's xyz problem, the broken jfk, ... etc. Don't worry about the action times, those will likely just happen naturally by doing this.
Finally, about that breathing thing, no really, try to breath. Deep belly breath, eyes closed. And Thanks for what you do.
* SOURCE: U.S. Department of Agriculture; "Baby Bargains", Denise Fields, 7th Edition.; Salary.com
January 7th, 2010
It's a good idea to use the Unsubscribe button often on enewsletters to keep clutter from your inbox. You only need to ask yourself one question: "Will it serve me?" Is the content meaningful and useful to you and the goals in your life now? If not, unsubscribe freely!
Does the content of the newsletter appeal to you... for example, a key business initiative or personal goal, an activity or hobbie that you love love love? Or a philosophy, political genre or material that is of high priority in your life? Can you learn from the content? These are all questions about whether this information will serve you right now, today, in your life. Be sure not to fall into the trap of "maybe someday I'll get into this...". Don't worry. When that "some day" comes, the world will give you what you need. There will be a newsletter or website out there just for you.
Also consider the structure and format of the publication. Is it well organized? Is it easy to review and read to determine quickly? Are there links that work? That sort of thing.
Finally, consider the sender. If you met that person at a network event or a party, perhaps they included you on the list only because you know someone who might appreciate it's value. If that's the case, then forward it along - that's great karma. And then.. well, you get the idea... unsubscribe freely!
January 4th, 2010
There's a great way to get rid of your possibly valuable but definitely toxic to the planet high tech devices and gadgets. Check out www.gazelle.com. At the site you can calculate the value of your gadgets; they will give you a quote and even send you a box or envelope to mail it to them (with prepaid postage!) Gazelle will resell or recycle the product for you. Buh bye clutter and the check is in the mail! It’s all good. A small step towards clearing some of your more valuable clutter.
By the way, you will likely get a little less for the higher worth items then you might if you used eBay or Craigslist to sell them. But, really, how long has that Sell on Ebay pile been sitting there in the corner. Your time may be much to valuable for that!
November 16th, 2009
It is generally understood that it takes 21 consecutive days… a mere 3 weeks…. to establish a habit. So, start with a small "bad habit" and see how long it takes you to change it to a good habit. Do you lose your keys all the time? Try, for 21 days in a row - of putting them in one place every day. A hook, a bowl or just pound a nail in the wall and every day for 3 weeks take a moment to put your keys there.
Do you end up with piles of mail so daunting you continue to procrastinate opening it up? Well, try to start that habit. No matter how busy you are, open your mail every day. Stand over a recycle bin when you do it. Toss freely into recycle because 80% of your mail is someone trying to sell you something. Just for 21 days. After that, you might find it's not an effort any more and you have a nice neat pile of bills to pay, stuff to read and a healthy fat recycle bin.
21 days to liberation of a bad habit into a good habit that serves you. You so very much deserve the great results.
Let me know how it goes!