31 Days of Self-Congratulations

It's New Year's again and all the magazines and newspapers are talking about New Year's Resolutions, those daggum lists that are supposed to magically fix all that's wrong with us. Now, I've got nothing against goal setting. Heck, I THRIVE on setting and reaching my goals. But how about we try something a little different this year?

My good friend and founder of Hatch life coach program, Melissa Grossman, has come up with a cool alternative to New Year's resolutions that is life-affirming instead of self-hating. She's "triple-dog daring" us throw out those resolutions and, instead, make a list of the good stuff from 2007. Instead of making promises to ourselves that we probably won't keep anyway, she's proposing that we highlight the positive things we accomplished during the past 12 months.

Here's how it works. Go to her blog, 31 Days of Self-Congratulations, and name 31 positive things about yourself, one for each of the 31 days of January. You can post a new accomplishment every day or, if you think you may have a hard time posting daily, you can post your whole list of 31 at once by using the "Share your 31" link at the top of the blog. Feel free to name something as small as helping a kitten out of a tree or as big as having the guts to start a new business.

I decided to take this challenge and am going to try and post everyday. I've already got my list made out and, let me tell you, it was fun to write. At first I had a hard time remembering enough good deeds and accomplishments from 2007. But the more areas of my life I considered, the easier it got. I think I'm going to enjoy this challenge a lot more than trying to give up dessert and cussing (as if!).

Now, you're not going to back down from a triple-dog dare, are you? Head on over to 31 Days of Self-Congratulations and don't be modest. I'm sure you can come up with at least 31 good deeds and positive attributes for yourself. While your at it, check out the site for Hatch, Melissa's one-to-one coaching services. She's a heck of a Life Coach and, if you're a single gal or a freelancer, she'll help you add to your self-congrats list for 2008!

Maintenance Coaching

I had a delightful conversation with a client this weekend. We've been working together to organize her entire home and are very close to completion. She told me that she felt that she was "slipping" in some areas and wondered if I could give her some tips to help her maintain the progress she has made. I suggested that, in our next session, we could look at the areas that are becoming cluttered again, and I could coach her on some tips and new habits that would help in the problem areas.

"Yes! Coaching is exactly what I need. " she said. "Like, you could remind me that, if I would just spend ten minutes per day picking up after myself, I could avoid spending an hour doing it over the weekend. "

I giggled and said, "I believe you just coached yourself! The next time you find yourself falling into your old disorganized habits, remember that 10-minute rule."

You see, the secret to maintaining an organized house and office, is creating new habits. For example, after you have decided on a home for an item, put it back in its home every time you have finished using it. Or always put your keys in the same place when you arrive home. And my personal favorite, always take the mail to your bill-paying zone and sort it immediately into Trash/Shred/Bill/Read piles.

Heck, if you simply did a quick before-bed walk through of your home, picking up "homeless" items and putting them away, clearing out and wiping down the kitchen sink (my favorite FlyLady suggestion), and hanging up or tossing clothes into the hamper, you'd easily and quickly improve the calm, clean, orderly state of your home.

And if you have children, make a chores list and monitor that the chores are done regularly. Help teach them, through your example, good organizing habits that will serve them in school as well as the rest of their lives.

Trust that little voice in your head to remind you of the habits that will keep you on track. Push laziness aside in favor of results. Know that you will feel so much better if you "just do it" than if you keep stepping over clutter or piling unsorted mail on every flat surface of your home.

You, and only you, have control over your personal habits and the results that these habits reap. Make those results positive!

What habits have you found to be effective in maintaining order in the house?

Make Your Holidays Less Stressful

Remember when you were ten years old and the holidays were exciting and FUN? I loved the decorations, the smell of the Christmas tree in the house, the family feasts, and the possibility of getting of tons-o-toys.

Then the older I got, the more stressful and less merry the holidays became. For several years, I even dreaded December a little because my schedule became insanely busy, my bank account got smaller, and my waistline got bigger.

Hmmm, interesting that a few years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer just two days before Christmas, no? Maybe there is something to that "stress causes illness" theory. Well, after beating cancer, I decided to stop the madness, simplify things, and make some changes that would help bring some sanity back to my holiday season. Here's what I've done over the years:

1. I stopped decorating the house if I wasn't in the mood or didn't have time to do it. This has resulted in me pulling out our cute little aluminum tree and retro decorations about every other year. Though he enjoys it when I decorate, my husband has ZERO interest in helping me do it, so I only do it if and when the mood strikes me. I find I can just as easily be filled with the holiday spirit by enjoying everyone else's decorations.

2. My circle of fabulous girlfriends and I decided to stop buying one another Christmas gifts since we all live in relatively small houses, and we all have most everything we need. Instead, we just enjoy one another's company at the Christmas party that one of the gals throws every year. This has saved all of us a boatload of money, time, and space.

3. Speaking of parties, I stopped saying yes to every single social invitation that comes up in November and December. By protecting my personal/sweetie time during these weeks, I find that I'm more relaxed, centered, and rejuvenated.

4. I try REALLY hard to eat more veggies, drink more water, exercise more regularly, and only nibble on all of the yummy treats that pop up all season long. I'm never going to "just say no" to holiday goodies. But I do try to minimize the damage but nibbling instead of binging. I also have found that I feel a heck of a lot better if I limit my party libations to just one adult beverage.

5. I focus on the positive things in my life like my good health, my supportive family, my wonderful friends, my sweet little dog Ruby Pearl, and my growing organizing business. I also start brainstorming, planning, and visualizing for prosperity in the following year.

6. I make sure I set aside some time and money to give back either in my neighborhood or by volunteering through my business. It's true that when we give, we truly receive.

Now, if I could only talk my husband into taking care of all the Christmas cards this year.

How have you simplified and de-stressed your holiday season? I'd love for you to leave us a comment letting us know!

Airlines Discourage Carry-On Clutter

According to USA Today, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun a campaign dubbed SimpliFLY where they are urging some 27 million holiday travelers to clear the clutter from their carry-on luggage.

The TSA explains that a neater bag is easier to view in the x-ray machines and, therefore, less likely to be pulled aside and searched by hand. And really, who wants a TSA employee rifling through your personal stuff? (I giggle every time I think about the airport security scene in the "Austin Powers" movie.)

So, to avoid angering those in line behind you or making yourself late for your flight, here are a few tips for airport trips:

  • Fold clothes neatly
  • Create separate layers for clothes and electronics
  • Coil any wires
  • Put liquids and gels in a single one-quart, clear plastic, zip-lock bag
  • Remove shoes and coat at checkpoint. (And don't leave your coat behind like my step-mom did on our trip to New Orleans. Big hassle!)
  • Arrive at the airport two hours ahead of time for domestic flights and three hours for international travel.
  • Bring a great book or magazine or just relax and people-watch while you wait for your flight. IMO, there is no better people-watching than what you find in airport terminals.
Got any travel tips to share? Leave a comment at www.betterorganized.blogspot.com.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Stop Buying Clutter Gifts!

If you celebrate the holidays, I'm hoping that I'm not too late. I'm hoping that you've been procrastinating (I know, blasphemy coming from a professional organizer!) and haven't gotten too far into your holiday shopping.

I say this because I want you to try something a little different before buying what may very well be future clutter for your friends and family members.

1. This year, try asking your friends and relatives if there is anything special that they would like for the holidays. Then give them what they ask for.

2. If they say that they don't have anything in mind, try buying gift certificates or consumable items as gifts.

Here are a few clutter-free gift ideas from professional organizer, Jeri Dansky. And Georgia organizing expert, Monica Ricci, has a great clutter-free list in her article in the November-December issue of the new Organize magazine.

I make this zany request because almost all of my organizing clients have held up what I call "clutter gifts" and grumbled, "This was a gift from (insert friend/relative's name here). It's not my taste, but I feel guilty when I think about getting rid of it." And so the gift sits in its box in the back of a closet, cabinet, or drawer. I'm talking about expensive stuff from Williams-Sonoma, Lenox and Tiffany & Co., people!

Please don't give a gift just for the sake of giving a gift. Make sure the gift is something that the recipient wants and will use. Otherwise, you may just be giving them clutter that they then have to store or dispose of through donation, consignment or re-gifting.

In my husband's family, they used to have a tradition of passing around catalog pages as their Christmas wish lists. At first, I found this ritual a bit forced until I realized that every year I got exactly what I wanted. As we all got older and our houses got more full, we decided that there were just too many gifts to buy and receive each year so we drew names for awhile. Now, we all just exchange gifts with the matriarch (who will probably never give up the gift exchange ritual) and the grandkids.

What holiday gift traditions does your family practice? Do you have any cool ideas about clutter-free gifts that you'd like to share?

Closet Switch-a-Roo Time

If you saw my tiny closets, you would understand why I have to keep a whole season's worth of my clothes in the attic. Each fall when the temperature drops, I haul down three or four plastic bins of sassy sweaters and warm wools. I love pulling out what feels like a whole new wardrobe after not seeing it for six months.

Part of this ritual also involves me trying on most of the "new" fall/winter clothes to make sure they still fit and to see which pieces continue to earn the right to live in the prime real estate of my closet. To make the grade, the piece has to fit well, be comfy, and make me feel pretty. Along the way, if I realize that I need a something to complete an outfit, I write it on a list that stays in my purse. Yes, it's a time consuming process, but worth the effort and I only have to do it twice a year.

Those clothes that don't make the grade end up either being thrown away, donated, or resold at Finders Keepers consignment shop. The way I look at it, if a piece isn't working for me, I may as well put it back into circulation and make more room in my closet.

If you are an organizing client of mine and I've set up your Finders Keepers account for you, this is your reminder that Finders Keepers is now accepting fall clothing consignments. Drop offs are limited to 30 items and must be on hangers unless you are a donate. Donates may drop off 50 items. Here are the guidelines for what not to bring:

  • Knock off purses
  • Double breasted or big boxy blazers
  • Pleated, tapered, or stirrup pants
  • Too-light wash denim
  • Big oversize sweaters
  • Too worn or pilly sweaters
  • Denim or corduroy jumpers
  • Turtlenecks with embroidered necks
  • Outdated or colored leather
  • Altered clothing
  • Anything with big shoulder pads
Now that I've taken all of my consignments in, I know that everything in my closet fits. Now if only this freakishly warm Atlanta weather would cool off, I could start wearing some of these clothes.

If you or someone you know needs help organizing closets this season, give me a call!

Ozzy Reluctantly Unloads

The Telegraph recently reported that former Black Sabbath singer, Ozzy Osbourne, and his wife Sharon are ready to downsize. Now that their children have left the nest, the couple is ready to offload art, furniture, and collectibles from their three homes in Malibu, Beverly Hills, and Buckinghamshire.

"It's time to unload," said Mrs. Osbourne. "We just have an overabundance of possessions that we do not need."

That's music to my ears, Sharon!

The Osbournes' auction has taken two years to organize and will be shown at the O2 arena in London on November 5th. It is expected to bring in as much as a million dollars with proceeds benefiting the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Foundation.

The couple is downsizing and moving to a new home, she said, adding that whittling down their possessions has been "one of the most refreshing things I've done."

Ozzy, however, was less enthusiastic about the sale. "I don't know why we are selling everything as I want it all. Sharon tells me that we have to, otherwise our house will...explode."

"Ozzy gets very attached to things," his wife explained. "He doesn't like change at all."

This scenario may sound familiar to some of you on two fronts:

1. Though you probably don't own multiple homes spread out across the globe, you may have accumulated so much stuff in your home that it feels as though the dwelling may burst.

2. If you don't live alone, you may have a very different level of attachment to your "stuff" than other people you share your house with.

This differing level of attachment coupled with a resistance to change can create some real challenges with the organizing process. Notice that, while Sharon is feeling the wonderful, cathartic freedom that most people get from purging, Ozzy is having a tougher time letting go.

I've had clients tell me that it's a good thing I take the recycling away after I leave because, otherwise, their partner would go "dumpster diving" to retrieve items out of the trash or recycling bags.

If you are a natural purger, recognize that others in the house may need some gentle coaxing to help them to let go. You can assist with the process by asking your sentimental collectors these questions:

  • When did you last use or wear this?
  • Is it broken?
  • Do you "love" it or just "like" it?
  • Can we get another one later if we need it again?
  • What is the worst thing that will happen if we part with this?
  • Would this item be better off in the hands of someone who needs it and will use it more than we do?
  • Is it worth the space it takes up and the trouble it takes to maintain or clean it?
These types of questions help the "accumulators" see that it's okay to let go and helps them to qualify what has earned the right to stay. Be warned, if you force accumulators to get rid of everything just for the sake of purging, they will probably rebel by accumulating even more over time. By taking the time to get their buy-in, you can reduce pack rat tendencies and increase their urge to purge.

Win a Real Simple Organizing Makeover

How would you like to win a visit from an organizer who will declutter three of the messiest rooms in your home PLUS give you $3,000 worth of organizing products from The Container Store?!!!

Alas, it is not I who will be your clutter buster, but Real Simple magazine will be sending one of their organizers to the home of the winner of their newest Organized Home Sweepstakes. You can enter here today and everyday through October 21st.

Their contest rules prohibit me from entering or I just might consider it just for the Container Store loot. Funny thing is, I probably ALREADY have at least $3,000 worth of The Container Store's products in my house right now. You see, a few years ago I worked part-time for them, and I'm sure I bought more than I earned while working there. Being an organizer working at The Container Store is like being an alcoholic working in a liquor store. I think my husband was afraid to see what new plastic container, backpack, or shelving unit I'd come home with next. Thank goodness the TCS employee discount is so AWESOME!

Now go enter that contest and start deciding which three rooms you'll start decluttering first!

What papers should you keep?

"What papers should I keep?" This question comes up over and over again when I'm helping residential clients organize their papers. Most businesses have a record retention policy that dictates what papers you should save and for how long. But many people are unclear about what they should be saving in their personal home files.

The lists below contains suggestions from Clark Howard, the consumer guru from Atlanta, and financial planner Ric Edelman. Prudence dictates that I tell you that I am not an accountant or lawyer. These suggestions should serve as guidelines to get you started, but you should also consult your accountant and possibly the Internal Revenue Service's web site (see IRS Publication 552: Record Keeping for Individuals) to see if there are other suggestions that better fit your situation.

Clark Howard says:


* Tax returns, keep forever
* Tax return documentation (receipts, supporting documentation), keep for six years
* Contracts, forever
* Real estate records, forever
* Last pay stub of a job if you leave the job
* Last pay stub of the year of your current job
* All mortgage payment checks (statements), until the mortgage is paid off
* All student loan payments, until the loan is paid off
* Car loan payment stubs, until the car is paid off
* Canceled checks, for 7 years
* Bank deposit slips, for 7 years
* Bank statements, for 7 years
* Home Improvement records, ownership period plus 7 years
* Investment records, ownership period plus 7 years


* Credit card statements that are more than three years old
* Past insurance statement
* Old utility bills, except the most recent one from your old address if you've moved
* Recently paid bills (statements), once you have something saying they have been paid

Other suggestions from financial planner Ric Edelman's web site:

  • Birth certificates, Death Certificates, and Marriage Certificates: never discard
  • Health records: never discard
  • Stock and bond certificates: discard or shred when sold
  • Vehicle titles: discard or shred when vehicle is sold
  • Wills, trusts, and powers of attorney: discard or shred when a new one is signed
  • College financial aid and other loans: shred ten years after loan is repaid
  • Insurance policies: keep copy of existing policy as long as policy is in effect. Then keep a copy for one year after your replace the policy
  • Investment account statements: seven years after the last investment held in account is sold
  • Pension documents: never discard
  • Receipts for items under warranty: shred after warranty expires
  • Receipts for expensive items: shred after item is sold or donated
  • Social Security statement: shred old one when new one arrives
  • Transcripts: shred old one after you complete another course
  • Vehicle registration: shred old one when the new one arrives
  • Vehicle repairs: keep until vehicle is sold
Most of these documents can be placed in a locked filing cabinet, though you may consider purchasing a fire and burglar resistant safe for some of your important, but hard to replace, documents. Consider using a safe deposit box for originals that you rarely need such as adoption papers, citizenship papers, lawsuits, divorce decrees, household inventory lists, photos of possessions, military discharge and veteran's papers.

Hopefully, these suggestions will help liberate your filing cabinet of all those non-necessary bits of paper that may be inappropriately squatting there now. Of course, they aren't going to jump out of there on their own. Sometimes you gotta go in there and throw them out.

Managing Email Folders

Later this week, I will be speaking to a large cancer practice about managing their email, along with other productivity tips. Like many companies, this group has been struggling with huge quantities of emails hitting their inboxes each day. Here are a few suggestions for folders you can create in your email program to help store and manage incoming email:

* ACTION: I use this folder to house those emails that I personally need to act upon. Then, after I've sorted through my inbox, I go back to ACTION and begin to prioritize the tasks I want to tackle first. A cool trick I use to make the ACTION folder pop up to the top of my folder list is to include the number 1 in front of the word ACTION.

* WAITING FOR: This folder is used for those emails where I have delegated a task to someone, am waiting for a response back, or am waiting to receive something in snail mail. For example, if I order an item off the internet, I put the confirmation email into WAITING FOR. Because I check WAITING FOR at least weekly, I use the same trick of adding a 1 in front of the folder name in order to make it pop to the top of my alphabetized email folder list.

* READ: I put those emails that are info-only and not time sensitive into a READ file. Then I spend a couple of minutes at the end of each day (during my low-energy times) perusing these emails. Or if I know I am going to be out running errands where I may get caught waiting, I print a few of my read-only emails to take with me. I love it when I can multi-task!

* PROJECT-SPECIFIC FOLDERS: For projects that are going to generate lots of emails that are save-worthy, create a project-specific folder. You may find that, as the project progresses, you need to break the project file into sub-folders to help you better manage the information. For example, as the Director of Communication and Technology for the GA chapter of NAPO, I oversee the chapter's web site, email list, and newsletter. To keep track of all of the info that I have to save for these different areas, I created a NAPO-Web, NAPO-Email List, and a NAPO-Newsletter folder. Then when I need to retrieve an email, all of my NAPO folders are close together alphabetically but separated into sub-categories by folder name.

* CLIENT-SPECIFIC FOLDERS: I create client-specific folders for on-going clients so that I can easily keep all of our save-worthy interactions in one place. I encourage you to use the same folder names for email files that you may also have in My Documents on your computer and/or your paper filing system.

* OTHER FOLDERS: Clients will often ask me, "How should I name my folders?" Whether it's an email folder, a paper folder, or a folder in My Documents on your computer, I always encourage you to pick the first name that pops into their head. More than likely, the name that first occurs to you is the same name that is going to occur to you the next time you need to find the information again.

And I would be falling down on the job as a professional organizer if I didn't STRONGLY encourage you to delete as many emails as possible, as often as possible. You've seen me use the phrase "save-worthy" in this post. Make sure that the emails you choose to keep are valuable enough to take up the mental energy and disk space it will take to store them.

Container Store's Annual Shelving Sale

As subscribers of this Better Organized blog know, my favorite shelving system is elfa from The Container Store. Good news! The Container Store is holding their annual 25% off Storewide Shelving Sale until October 21st. They only put elfa on sale two times per year, during this summer sale and again at the end of the year. So you should jump at this chance to save some dough if you've been thinking about upgrading your closet, basement, garage, or other storage areas. For those of you who aren't near a store, you can still take advantage of the sale by designing and ordering the components on line.

Not only is elfa on sale right now for 25% off, but so are several other shelving products that The Container Store offers. These include:

* Metro and InterMetro modular shelving
* Freestanding Shelving
* Wall-Mounted Shelving
* Modular Steel Cubes

For more info about The Container Store as well as tons of other sources for organizing solutions, go to the affiliate links at my website at www.creativeorder.com. Look under the Products tab and click on Recommended Resources. Happy organizing!

Creating Morning Routines For Kids

The new school year brings with it the need to get kids back into a normal daily routine. Gone are the lazy summer days of sleeping late and splashing around in the pool all day. Here are some suggestions to help simplify your morning routine with the kids:

  • Get up about 20-30 minutes earlier than you would need for a "perfect-world" morning. This leaves you some wiggle room for the occasional kiddie meltdown, lost school work, and dressing dilemma, not to mention mom misplacing her keys.
  • Stagger wakeup times if you have a shortage of bathrooms in your home. Also consider having kids bathe the night before.
  • Eliminate distractions such as television to keep kids focused on getting dressed, fed, and out the door on time.
  • Pre-pack school lunches the night before or have the kids make their own lunches in the morning or night before.
  • Select outfits the night before. Lay out or hang everything needed for the outfit including underwear, socks, shoes, and accessories. This little tip works well for mom and dad too!
  • Create checklists of chores or tasks that the kids should do before leaving the house in the morning (i.e. make bed, brush teeth, feed pets, gather up lunch, backpack, musical instrument, gym clothes, library books, etc.)
  • Set a kitchen timer to go off ten minutes before it's time to head out the door.
  • Create a "launching pad" next to the door for backpacks, jackets, musical instruments, gym clothes and mom and dad's briefcases and keys. Make sure cubbies and hooks are low enough for young kids to reach them.
  • For those really hectic mornings, grab breakfast foods that can be eaten in the car such as fruit, cheese sticks, squeezable yogurt packets, muffins or bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter, and the trusty old standby of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

With a little bit of pre-planning, you and your kids can leave home feeling less stressed and better prepared to face the day ahead.


Today is my 42nd birthday. Throughout my life, I've never made a big fuss over my birthday. I mean there have been the occasional blowout parties, but I usually prefer to spend my birthday with family and close friends having a decadent meal (or two). There was even a time in my life where I would actually groan about the additional year I now had to add to my age.

But after surviving breast cancer in 2003, I will NEVER again complain about the privilege of growing a year older. I now spend everyday (and especially my birthday) reflecting on how incredibly lucky I am to be here. I spend time thinking about all of the amazing blessings that I currently have in my life and all the wonderful experiences I will manifest in the future. So please indulge me as I acknowledge a few of the things I am most grateful for:

* My healthy, curvy, disease-free body
* My loving, funny, dependable, frugal husband
* My parents and in-laws who truly believe I can do anything I set my mind to
* My sweet dog, Ruby Pearl, who is living proof that the law of attraction works
* Wonderful friends who are my cheerleaders and coaches
* A solid house that is paid for
* Money that flows freely into my life
* Organizing clients that bring me so much joy, laughter, and life lessons
* Having the privilege of working in healthcare with wonderful co-workers, doctors, and staff for so many years. And having this great job be just 3 miles from my home.
* A positive, trusting, hopeful vision of the present and the future
* Creative ideas that continue to abound
* Organizing and coaching colleagues who are quick to share their experiences and advice
* God and the angels who watch over me and whisper to me when I ask for direction, encouragement, inspiration, and courage
* Liberty and the pursuit of happiness

I believe that, before you can attract better things into your life, you must be grateful for what you have now. Appreciate the gifts you have been given, make the most of what is right in front of you, right now.

Then, imagine how you can make your life even better. Make it so.

Downsizing Part III: Selling the Good Stuff

In the last of this three-part series on downsizing, let us consider some ways to make money on the stuff that you no longer want to keep. With each of these options, I will cover the upsides and the downsides to help you decide which options are best for your situation.

* YARD SALE / ESTATE SALE. If you've never held a yard sale, let me tell you that it takes a LOT of work to pull one off successfully. First, you have to gather all the items together. That is no small task for most people. Then you will need to clean and price everything (and for goodness sakes, don't use cheap labels that can only be removed by using Goof Off!), place advertising, post signs in high-traffic areas, obtain tables for displaying items, have potentially valuable antiques appraised, and sweet-talk your friends and family into helping you.
You get to keep all the money when your stuff sells.
All of the steps I listed above. But if you have enough high-value items, you may make enough money for it to be worth all the trouble.
ALTERNATIVE: Hire an estate sale company to do it for you, but know that they will keep a large percentage of the sales.

* CRAIG'S LIST / EBAY AUCTION SITES: There are lots of internet-based auction sites out there now, but the most popular ones are Craig's List and Ebay. Before you go this route, I would encourage you to "shop" the auction sites to see how much similar items are selling for. You may be surprised to find that people aren't paying much for old Star Trek books, National Geographic collections, or record albums. If you decide to sell through Ebay, you'll first need to set up an account. Then take digital photos of each item, write a detailed description of the item, and determine your minimum acceptable winning bid. After you post the item on the auction site, be prepared to answer any questions potential buyers may email to you. After the auction is over, it will be your responsibility to mail the item to the winner. In most cases, you set up the auction so that the buyer pays you extra for postage. Ebay charges a listing fee regardless of whether the item sells. It is currently free to sell on Craig's List.
You could get lucky and get a couple of people who REALLY want the item(s) you are selling. The competitive bidding mentality can really jack up the price of an item.
Timing is everything with auction sites. If your timing is off and there's no real interest, the bids may come in pretty low. Also, it can be time consuming to answer all the questions and then mail each item to its winner.
If you can find one in your area, you could take your stuff to an online auction resaler who will keep a percentage of the selling price after posting the item, answering questions, and shipping the items to the winning bidder. Try your local phone book or Google to find an auction resaler in your area.

CONSIGNMENT: One of my favorite ways to make money on used household goods and nice clothing is through consignment stores. All you have to do is set up an account with the store and drop your items off. In my area of Decatur, I have a great relationship with Finders Keepers in Avondale Estates, GA. After I help my clients purge, I take their nicer household items to Finders Keepers (2753 East College Rd., Decatur, GA 30030. 404.377.1944) and set up an account under the client's name. Then when the client has a minimum amount of sales, Finders Keepers sends the clients a check. Other popular Atlanta-based consignment stores for antiques and household goods are Now and Again in Buckhead (404.262.1468) and Kudzu Antique Market in Decatur (404.373.6498). Check with these store for more info on their policies and the percentage of the sales that they keep. Normally, consignment stores keep between forty and fifty percent of the sales price.
UPSIDE: It is easy and convenient to make some money off your castaways if you have a good consignment store nearby.
DOWNSIDE: Most consignment stores can afford to be very particular about the quality of their inventory, so do not be surprised if they turn down some of your items. Also, you generally have no control over the price of the item, and the price goes down if the item does not sell within a set amount of time.
ALTERNATIVE: If you have a large quantity of high-quality antiques and collectibles, it may be more cost-effective to rent your own space in one of the antique consignment malls.

CLASSIFIED ADS: The last alternative that I sometimes suggest to my organizing clients is that they advertise in their local newspaper's classified section. In Atlanta, you can advertise household goods in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (online and paper version) for free.
UPSIDE: You control the price and you get to keep the full sales amount.
DOWNSIDE: Strangers will be coming to your home. I generally do not recommend this option to my elderly or single female clients.

In this three-part series on Downsizing, I have given you some steps to get you started on the purging process, some ideas about where to donate the things you no longer need, and now some ways to make a few bucks along the way. Just remember, the ultimate goal when downsizing it to purge what you no longer love and what is no longer serving you. Let these things go to make space for a calmer, less chaotic home.

What other ways have you made money on your "junk"? Please leave comments and let us know!

Downsizing Part II: Donating What You No Longer Need

In our last issue, I gave you tips to help you begin the downsizing process if you are preparing to move into a smaller space. Once you start to purge what you no longer really need, you'll want to create a few different piles:

  • a trash pile
  • a recycle pile
  • a donation pile
  • a resell pile

It's pretty obvious what happens to the trash pile, though I've given you some junk removal sources below if your pile is too big. Let's look at some Atlanta-area donation and recycling options.

Donating Clothes and Household Goods

Thrift Stores: If you haven't been to a thrift store in the last couple of years, let me just tell you that the quality of the merchandise has improved. I believe one of the reasons for this is because we are buying and getting rid of more "stuff" than ever. Clothes and household goods have a shorter life span so items often are not as worn out by they time they are donated as they may have been in years past. That said, make sure that the items that you donate are at least in fair condition. Spare the urge to donate clothes with stains or tears, shoes with holes, or chipped dishes. A couple of the more popular and more reputable thrift stores in Atlanta are Goodwill and Salvation Army. There may be others in your area, but check to see how much of their revenue goes to the needy before donating.

Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta (www.furniturebankatlanta.org) - Offers free pick-up in Cobb, DeKalb, most of Fulton, and most of Gwinnett counties. Does not accept office or outdoor furniture, large appliances, pianos, or water beds.

Atlanta Alliance on Developmental Disabilities (www.aadd.org) - Accepts clothing and household goods

Atlanta Union Mission (www.atlantaunionmission.org) - Accepts clothing, furniture, household goods, toiletries, large and small appliances. Will pick up in many metro-Atlanta counties.

American Kidney Fund (www.akfpickup.org) - Will pick up clothing and household goods or you may search for nearby drop-off boxes through their web site.

www.earth911.org - Great recycling, donation, & disposal site searchable by your area. They included DeKalb Farmer's Market, Whole Foods, and nearby county and city recycling programs when I searched using my Decatur ZIP code.

Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) - Site where you can sign up for your local Freecycle group, post the item you'd like to give away, pick which member you'd like to have it, and schedule a time for them to pick up the item. No money can exchange hands.

Junk Removal: Just Trash It (www.justtrashit.com) and 1-800GotJunk (www.1800gotjunk.com) offers residential and commercial junk removal.

Did I miss anything? If so, please leave me a comment. Be on the lookout for Downsizing Part III where we'll cover lots of ways that you can make a little money off of the things that you no longer need in your home.

Downsizing, Part I: Getting Started

Today we begin a three-part series on downsizing, a process that Professional Organizers are often called upon to assist with. Some clients downsize because their kids have flown the coop and they no longer need their big five-bedroom, three-bath house. Others reach a point in their lives where they just don't want the hassle of maintaining a big house and yard. And then there are those unfortunate souls who are forced to downsize because they can no longer live independently and must move into assisted living or nursing homes.

As we get older, keeping a handle on the volume of stuff we have in our homes is a challenge for even the most organized of families. And for families who have avid accumulators or chronically disorganized members, downsizing can feel downright overwhelming. Many of us have entered our parents' or grandparents' basements and asked, "What IS all of this stuff, and why are they keeping it?" Heck, you may have asked that very question about your own basement or garage.

If you are considering downsizing in the future, start now to take control of and responsibility for your belongings. Let go of what isn't serving you, what is broken, or what has negative feelings associated with it. Keep what you love, what has warm memories, and what serves your life in a positive way. Just make sure there will be room in your future smaller home for the items you decide to keep.

Here a few tips to help you or a family member get started:

  • Take one room at a time (or even one drawer at a time) and begin to set aside items that you don't use or don't love. Keep reminding yourself that your future home will be filled with only those items that add value to your life.
  • If you think a particular friend or relative would enjoy an item more than you, put a sticky note on it with their name. Later, call that person to confirm that they want the item. If they don't, add the item to your charity or sell pile.
  • If you have a consignment shop nearby, go ahead and take a few resalable items over and open up an account. Then, as you systematically go through the downsizing process, it will be quick and easy to drop things off. Also, most consignment stores can help you arrange pick up and delivery of larger pieces of furniture for resale. Before you know it, you'll start receiving consignment checks.
  • Throw away items that are broken and can't be easily and inexpensively fixed. Please resist the urge to keep broken items because you may use them later for "spare parts."
  • Start a donation box for your favorite charity.
  • Consider having a yard sale but know that this is a time-consuming, physically exhausting endeavor.
That's enough to at least inspire you to get started. I'll be providing more specific information about donation sources, consignment, Craig's list, and Ebay in Parts II and III of this series.

Cool Product: Travel Pack-It Folders

School's out and it's vacation time. That also means it's suitcase packing time. A really cool product to help you pack more efficiently is the Pack-It Folder from Eagle Creek. They keep everything from suits and jackets to shirts and slacks neatly folded and compact. And since garments are enclosed in the velcro-sealed pockets, they don't shift during travel, keeping them practically wrinkle-free.

The other neat thing about them is that they come with a little folding board that has graphics showing you the best way to fold different garments. While traveling, I keep my folding board in the packet so that I can re-fold any clean clothes I didn't use on the trip. (Yes, even I sometimes overpack. Gasp!)

I've been using all three sizes for a couple of years now and I LOVE them. I also got a couple for my husband but wasn't sure if he'd break his old packing routines and try them. Once he did, he was hooked! They make it so easy to find a particular garment if you are on the road for several days and don't want to have to unpack everything every time you arrive at your new hotel.

In between trips, I store my Travel Pack-It Folders in the suitcase I use most often. This follows the organizing principle that you should store items where you use them.

If you hurry, you may be able to get the Eagle Creek Pack-It Folders for 25% off from The Container Store during their travel sale!

Looking for Blue Eyes

I believe in the power of intention, that if you believe you can do something, you can. I ran across a fun story this morning about a little boy who believed he could do something extraordinary, though in his youthful exuberance he may not have realized it was extraordinary.

The boy, Nicholas Wagner of Chicago, found a one-in-a-million, blue-eyed cicada in his backyard last Friday. His kindergarten class had been studying the 17-year cicadas and he learned that a rare blue-eyed version existed. He told his parents that he was going to find one and he did! His mother told one reporter, "He's been looking for a long time."

What I find so inspiring about this story is that this little guy decided what he wanted, actively and passionately set out to get it, and kept going until his mission was accomplished. Many older, wiser individuals might assume something so elusive would be impossible to find or that it would take too much time and work. But little Nicholas Wagner didn't let those silly notions stop him from reaching his goal.

Is there something you want that you think would be impossible to achieve? Remember this little explorer the next time those doubts start creeping in.

Give Your Stuff a Second Life

My husband and I are crazy about cool old photos, and I recently came across this one of a Goodwill truck from the early 1900s. The writing under the Goodwill logo says, "Springfield Goodwill Helps Folks to Help Themselves."

If you fast-forward 100 years to Goodwill Industries International's web site, you'll find that their slogan today is "Let's go to work!" The site explains that more than 82% of Goodwill's revenues are used to fund their employment and training programs. I love the idea that, by giving your stuff a second life through donation, you might also be giving a person a second chance through the development of practical job skills.

As a Professional Organizer, I've dropped off countless bags of my client's donations at the Goodwill truck near my house. Yes, it's convenient. But I also prefer Goodwill because I've been a Goodwill shopper for a couple of decades. My husband, Greg, and I are collectors of mid-century modern artifacts. Put more simply, we collect cool old stuff from the fifties. In the nineties, we found most of our collection by prowling around thrift stores and flea markets. Greg is also a crazed collector of vinyl records (mostly weird old country music, nowadays) and Atlanta history books and postcards (remind me to tell you about his Atlanta history web site someday), so we often poke our heads into thrift stores when we're traveling. Let me tell you, the most organized, most professional, best stocked thrift stores are Goodwill stores.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you should run out and go shopping at your local Goodwill store. My goal here is to get you to give your stuff a second life by donating it, not to encourage you to bring more stuff into your home or office. I just wanted to sing the praises of one of my favorite charities. If you live in Atlanta, there are tons of other good local charities that could use your donations including The Salvation Army, Dress for Success, Travelers Aid Atlanta, The Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta, The Atlanta Community Tool Bank, and local church charities, just to name a few.

Don't think you're just wasting your stuff when you donate it. Know that there are people who would be delighted to buy your "junk" off the shelves and racks of your local thrift store. So, if you haven't used it, don't love it, and it's not broken, consider giving your stuff a second life by donating it to whatever charity warms your heart.

Learning Jack Canfield's Secrets

I'm just getting back from a week in Minneapolis where I attended the annual conference for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). What a blast!! It was so inspiring to hear lessons from some of the best experts in the organizing field including Judith Kolberg, Debbie Stanley, Dorothy Breininger, Barbara Hemphill, and Monica Ricci, just to name a few. Believe me when I tell you that these folks have done innovative and amazing things to move professional organizing forward, and they were so giving of their expertise.

But perhaps my favorite speaker of the week was Jack Canfield, motivational speaker, co-creator of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book series, and author of one of my favorite books "The Success Principles". Additionally, he recently contributed his words of wisdom on the DVD for "The Secret. " I arrived early to the meeting hall so that I could get a good seat and ended up sitting fifth row center. Jack Canfield was amazing!! In his inspirational presentation, he focused on the importance of positive thinking, the incredible power of intention, and the necessity to commit your goals to writing.

Let me throw out the same challenge to you that he gave our audience of 900 Professional Organizers. In the next 24 hours, write down one goal in each of these three categories:

* Financial
* Business/Career
* Fun/Recreation

With each goal, write down how much and by when. For example, one of your goals could be that you'll make $100,000 per year by December 2009. If you really want to see results, you could also create a Vision Board that includes images representing your goals. Keep these written goals with you all the time and review them at least once per day. Visualize how great your life will be once you achieve your goals. See yourself having already achieved what you're wishing for...the new car, a better relationship with your teenager, a job promotion, or an organized office.

Then release the goal for the universe, the infinite force, God, or your own imagination to accomplish. Don't focus on the HOW. Focus on HOW MUCH and BY WHEN.

Finally, create one BIGGER goal. Canfield calls this your "Breakthrough Goal." Examples might be to write a book, be featured on a major talk show, get a big new corporate client, or find the man of your dreams. Stretch a little because if you believe you can do it, you can!

Please come back and leave us a comment as your dreams start coming true!

Organizing Dawgs

If you are in the Atlanta area on May 9th from 6-8 p.m., come see me and two other Atlanta-based Professional Organizers, Emily Lyles and Kelly Waldron, speak at the UGA Alumni Association's Explore meeting. We'll be discussing Personal Organizing and showing you our favorite organizing products for your closet, home office, kid's toys, and automobile.

The program will be held at the UGA Atlanta Alumni Center at 3333 Peachtree Road. NE, South Tower, Suite 210, Atlanta GA 30326. Wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served. Plus, it's just a stone's throw from the Buckhead Container Store, so you could swing by there before or just after the meeting to pick up the latest and greatest in home and office organizing solutions.

Explore is a woman's enrichment program, but men are invited too. You also don't have to be a UGA graduate to attend. The cost for the event is $15 for UGA Alumni Association members and $20 for non-members. Click here to RSVP. I hope to see you there!

Cool Product: Turn-About from Pampered Chef

I just got an email from Karen who recently attended my "Managing Paper Chaos At Home" seminar. She wanted to tell me about this cool organizing product she just bought. The Tool Turn-About, made by Pampered Chef, spins freely and will hold 10 lbs. worth of tools. If you've ever been to a Pampered Chef home party, you know they make quality products.

I can see this spinner being used for easy access to kitchen utensils, office supplies, craft and sewing supplies, or even household tools. It costs $17 plus shipping/handling and tax. To order one, please contact Pampered Chef Consultant Karen Carter at kkcarter10@yahoo.com.

If you have any other cool organizing products you use and love (or have just seen and covet), email me at suellen@creativeorder.com or comment to this blog at www.betterorganized.blogspot.com.

Getting Unstuck

Do you ever get stuck when trying to reach a goal?

You've probably been there before. I know I have. You may be crystal clear on what you want your final outcome to look like. It weighs heavily on your mind, and you may even think about it daily. Yet, like a car stuck in the mud, you just can't seem to propel yourself forward.

I was talking to one of my organizing clients recently and she commented that she's been thinking about redoing her home office "forever." She said that she's spent months thinking about the changes she wants to make and the ways the office could serve her better. Yet, day after day, she comes into that same old office and changes nothing. Here are some ideas that I gave her to pull her out of the mud and into action.

* Get a clear idea of what you want the final outcome to look like. Literally, write down a detailed description of your goal. I'd also suggest creating a Vision Board where you take a piece of paper or poster board and paste on it pictures depicting your final outcome. In this client's case, she could cut out pictures of office furniture she likes, draw a diagram laying out a more efficient space, and attach up some paint swatches with new colors. This fun step may be just what you need to jump start your project.

* Break up big, overwhelming goals into a series of smaller projects. I define a project as any task requiring more than one action. My next suggestion, therefore, is to make a list of all of the projects that need to be completed in order to get to your final outcome. In the home office example, the list may include such tasks as (1) Move out, donate, or sell old office furniture, (2) repaint room, (3) buy new furniture.

* Make a list of the NEXT ACTIONS you will take to tackle those smaller projects. Those of you who have read David Allen's "Getting Things Done" will recognize this key step. Consider keeping a NEXT ACTIONS folder or list that you refer to daily (or in my case, several times per day). This list will keep you focused and help you figure out the best way to use your time and energy. For example "Repaint Room" can't happen until you a) pick out a paint color, b) buy the paint and brushes, c) clear out the furniture, d) clean the walls. Items a-d are examples of NEXT ACTIONS.

* Complete one of your NEXT ACTION items. Once you've completed one item, complete another, then another. Suddenly, you'll realize that you're not stuck anymore and inertia will be replaced with momentum.

Now I'm going to take some of my own advice and complete some of the NEXT ACTION items for my Creative Order web site.

"Let me check my (online) calendar."

Did you know that Google and Yahoo both offer free online calendars that you can use to keep track of your hectic schedule? The great thing about keeping an online calendar is that you can check it from any computer that has internet access. And, unlike many popular computer-based calendar and contact management systems, these won't cost you a penny!

Because I'm so daggum (yes, that's word in the South) attached to Outlook, I'm not currently using either of these two calendars, but I could see where they'd be just the ticket for someone who wants an easy-to-use calendar but doesn't need all the zippy contact management features that Outlook or Act! provide. I'm thinking specifically about the busy moms out there who need a quick and easy way to keep track of the whole family's schedule.

Because both calendar's offer very similar features, I'll focus on one. Google's calendar lets you coordinate schedules with friends and family when you add them to your friends list. If you use Gmail for your email, you can easily save events mentioned in your emails to your calendar. And if you're planning an event, Google Calendar lets you create invitations, send reminders, and keep track of RSVPs inside your calendar. You can set up automatic reminders, including mobile phone notifications, and instantly bring up anything on your calendar with the built-in search tool.

Another thing I like is that these calendars allow you to view by day, week, or month. If you want to take your calendar with you when you're away from your computer, you can print out the view you'd prefer and just scribble in changes and additions until you can get back to the computer to update. That's where my Palm comes in handy. I can make all my changes on the fly and then synch it up to Outlook by just pressing a button when I get home.

You can also create multiple calendars for different family members or for different areas of your life, such as your tennis team. Then you can view shared calendars right alongside your own. Heck, you can even customize the color of the Google calendar.

I'll mention a couple of things that I found on the Yahoo Calendar site, that I didn't see on Google's. The Yahoo Calendar offers an address book and a Notes functions making it easy to organize several things in one place. And you know how we Professional Organizers love to multi-task!

Cool Product: Cascading Pocket File Tote

It's tax time and that means that organizing and office supply stores are holding their annual Tax Season sales. Knowing that The Container Store always has great deals during their tax sale, I stopped by to see what I could find. I picked up this awesomely cool cascading pocket file tote. It has a leather handle, snap closure, and 7 pockets. I love the colors and the matching files are so fun!

The beauty of this product is that it can be used as an accordion file to carry around your project folders, or you can hang it on a hook in your office and it cascades down for quick and easy access to the materials inside.

Am I a geek if it makes me giddy just knowing a product like this exists? So be it. Some of my best friends are geeks.

Wasting Time

I'm speaking to a group of medical practice managers (Greater Atlanta Medical Management Association) tomorrow on Time Management and Productivity Improvement. They had asked that I contribute an article to their professional association's newsletter, and I thought it might be helpful to republish it here for those of you who are trying to get a handle on your time. Here it is:

"Time is probably our most precious resource, yet many of us squander it away each day. In this fast-paced world, we are inundated with information, emails, meetings, and a multitude of distractions. How is it possible to fit it all into a 24-hour day? The answer is that you simply can't. Instead, you have to sort through your activity clutter, get rid of the "junk", and choose to spend your time on those things that are MOST IMPORTANT, those activities that will move you closer toward achieving your goals.

That begs another question: Are you clear about what your goals are? Before you can manage your time most effectively, you must be crystal clear about your goals. Otherwise, like a gerbil running furiously on an exercise wheel, you may be spending your time staying very busy without ever really moving forward. Your first challenge, therefore, is defining your personal and professional goals. Literally, write them down.

Next, capture all of the tasks demanding your attention in one spot so that they can be properly prioritized. Most people do this with a To-Do list or Action file. Depending on your preference, you may want to keep your list in a notebook, in your paper calendar, on a PDA, or on a computer-based system. It really doesn't matter which system you choose because each offers its own inherent benefits. What does matter is that you pick a system, stick with it, and use it regularly.

Now comes the real secret to successful time management and improved productivity: check your to-do list or action file everyday. The best times to do this are first thing in the morning and at the end of the day. As you review the list, ask yourself, "What tasks on this list do I need to accomplish in order to get closer to achieving my most important goals?" You should also determine how much flexible, non-meeting time you have each day so that you can plug your tasks into the most appropriate time slot.

Remember, most any goal is reachable if you just break it down into manageable steps and consistently cross off those to-do items necessary to get you to your final destination."

Hoarding Causes Car Accident

Last week, a car crash in the Cape Cod area was discovered to have been caused by falling mounds of trash...from inside the vehicle. The Ford Focus was completely filled with trash from floor to ceiling. The 53-year-old driver said that trash fell onto the gas and brake pedal, causing her to lose control while backing out of a parking space. Fortunately, no one was hurt as she crossed three lanes of traffic before crashing into another vehicle and stopping at a nearby gas station.

Like most cases of hoarding, it doesn't end there. Concerned about the state of her vehicle, the police later went to the woman's home and found similar conditions. According to a news story, they found three cars full of household items and debris. Additionally, her front door was bowed out due to the amount of stuff in her home. In the end, the police helped the woman move out of her home because they didn't think the house was safe. Steps are now being taken by the town's Health Department to have the home condemned.

Cases like these are due to a psychological condition known as hoarding. If left unchecked, it can obviously create a real safety risk to the person with the condition. If you or anyone you know may have this condition, please seek help among your local mental health providers. Additionally, you can go to the National Association of Professional Organizer's website, www.napo.net, and search for Professional Organizers in your area who are specially trained to work with folks who suffer from chronic disorganization challenges.

There's Money Hidden in Your Closet

We've all got them. Those items of clothing that hang in our closets but never get worn. The reasons we don't wear these space-stealers are varied....maybe the jeans are too snug, the jacket fits weird, the sweater is scratchy, the color makes us look like death. So why do we let these clothes take up valuable real estate in our closets even though they never see the light of day? Maybe it's because they used to fit but, after weight fluctuations, not so much now. Maybe some were gifts or bought during an impulsive buying frenzy.

Regardless, I have a suggestion that will put cash in your pocket and free up room for the clothes you do love and wear. Consignment stores! As many of my hands-on organizing clients know, I'm a huge fan of consignment stores, and my favorite local shop is Finders Keepers in Avondale Estates, GA. One of the services I offer to my Organizing Makeover clients is to sign them up with an account at Finders Keepers so that they can offload those clothes and household items that they no longer use or love. The store generally accepts those clothing items that are in style and in great shape. Please be aware that Finders Keepers has really stringent quality standards, so "great" means "like new."

Right now, Finders Keepers is accepting spring consignments. Shoes and handbags are great sellers, and they sell every designer handbag they get. To find out more about their sign-up schedule for new consigners, store policies, and payback percentages, give them a call at (404) 296-0285 or go to their web site.

Just try not to come home with more than you drop off!!

Organizing on Oprah

Oprah is on an organizing and personal improvement roll this week!

Today's (Weds., Feb 7) Oprah show is titled "This is the Year to DeClutter Your Life" and it features Peter Walsh from TLC's "Clean Sweep." He'll be helping two families reclaim their homes from the chaos of clutter.

But it's tomorrow's show (Thurs., Feb 8) on The Secret that I'm most excited about. I received a copy of The Secret DVD for my birthday last year (thanks, Dad!) and I absolutely love it. It teaches the techniques and, well, secrets that high achievers have used throughout history to accomplish seemingly impossible goals and live amazing lives. Based on the law of attraction and the power of intention, the lessons in The Secret can be used by anyone looking to make their dreams come true. You'll hear me refer to these concepts often in this "Better Organized" blog, because they are the foundation principles upon which I've built my life.

Tomorrow's episode features some of the contributors from The Secret including Jack Canfield, the creator of the "Chicken Soup" books and author of a couple of my favorite personal improvement books, "The Success Principles" and "The Aladdin Factor." So tune into Oprah and be prepared to be movitated!

Big elfa news!

Big news! My favorite organizing store, The Container Store, has extended their once-a-year 30% off elfa shelving sale until President's Day, February 19th. (Their annual elfa sale was originally scheduled to end on February 5th).

The elfa shelving system is one of the most durable and versatile systems on the market. Plus, it's a breeze to install for you do-it-yourself types. All you have to do is drill a few holes for the top track. The rest of the system then easily clicks into place. I installed elfa in all three of my bedroom closets many, many years ago and it's still going strong. Most recently, I used a wall of elfa to organize my storage shed. Heck, I even use elfa in my home office to hold my professional reference books and my gigantic color printer. Can you tell I love this stuff?

If you've been thinking about redoing your closets, garage, or home office, measure your space and hurry on down to your local Container Store where they will design a storage solution for your for free. If you don't have a Container Store nearby, you can go on my creativeorder.com site and find a link for The Container Store in my Products section. The Container Store site has a "Plan a Space" section where you can design your storage solution and then have everything shipped to you along with an easy-to-use installation guide. Plus, if you have questions while you install elfa, the Container Store customer service is top notch.

Don't wait! This stuff only goes on sale once a year and at 30% off, it's a bargain.

Welcome to "Better Organized"!

Welcome to the first edition of Creative Order's "Better Organized" e-articles! Here is where you'll find the best and most practical tips for organizing your stuff, managing your time, fine-tuning your goals, and simplifying your life.

I am professional organizer, Suellen Germani, and I founded my Atlanta-based organizing and productivity consulting firm, Creative Order, in 2005. I firmly believe that I was put on this planet to teach busy people how to create order out of the chaos in their lives. It is my personal mission to help people reduce their stress, improve their potential, and reach their dreams through better organization and simpler living.

Several times per month I'll be adding new tips and tricks-of-the-trade to this web log (the kids call it a "blog"). I'll also be recommending tried and true products, links, and books for you do-it-yourself types. Make sure that you subscribe (for free, of course) to "Better Organized" today so you won't miss any of the tasty tidbits I'll be serving up. By subscribing, you'll receive an email letting you know when new tips have been posted here.

You can subscribe by filling in your name and email address on the contact page of my website or by subscribing directly from the Better Organized blog site at www.betterorganized.blogspot.com. Also, through the wonders of the internet and the skills of my fabulous webmaster, Max Forstater, the content from this blog will soon appear on both my web site and the blogspot site. To leave comments and questions on the blogspot site, you’ll need to subscribe.

Please let me know what topics you'd like to hear more about either by commenting at the blog or by leaving me a comment on my site in the Contact page. And I'd love it if you would share with the rest of the "Better Organized" readers any cool tips that have worked for you. Finally, if you think any info in "Better Organized" would be helpful to any of your friends or associates, please feel free to pass it on. I only ask that you don't alter the text or contact info.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!