Simplify Your (and Your Kid's) Wardrobe

Fellow organizer and blogger, Jeri Dansky, recently wrote in her fabulous blog about the trend toward simplifying your wardrobe by finding a uniform that works for you.

This reminded me of a conversation that I had last week with a client while we were organizing her second-grader's room. Mom told me that, after realizing that her daughter only wore about 20% of her clothes with any regularity, she decided to only buy what the daughter liked to wear. It's sounds so simple, yet so perfect! Mom donated the 80% of the clothes her daughter never wore and bought a few new core pieces (in her daughter's case, that meant more pants and cute t-shirts). Now she has tons more closet and drawer space. Plus, mom says that her daughter still gets complemented all the time on the 6 or 7 outfits that she mixes and matches.

My own wardrobe follows a similar path. I tend to invest in well-made basics with colorful tops and jackets to jazz things up. My mother-in-law taught me years ago to stick with the classics, find colors that flatter you, and invest in quality clothing. She always looks smashing, so I try and take her advice.

When it comes to developing a practical, signature look, I think Jamie Lee Curtis said it best in this May/June 2008 AARP magazine interview:

"My style is a distillation. I've etched out who I am through myriad haircut attempts, outfit attempts, beauty attempts, diet attempts. It's been an evolution. I've let my hair go gray. I wear only black and white. Every year I buy three or four black dresses that I just keep in rotation. I own one pair of blue jeans. I've given away all my jewelry, because I don't wear it."

Wow, now that's a woman who's comfortable with her uniform!

Photo from alllovelpy-2' flickr account

Finding Time and Motivation For Fitness

"Time management" is somewhat of a misnomer. I mean, we all get the same 24 hours each day. When I reference Time Management, what I am really talking about is Decision Management. It's less about finding the perfect scheduling system, and more about how you choose to spend your seconds, minutes, and hours each day. And if, like me, better physical fitness is one of your goals, you must decide to spend more time exercising.


I was thinking about the excuses for why I have gotten away from my fitness routine over the last 5 years (and I have some really good ones). At the peak of my physical fitness in 2003, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Before cancer, I had lost about 40 pounds and was regularly bicycling 30-100 miles at a time. On top of that, I was doing weight training. I was a lean, mean, bike riding machine.

But during chemo and radiation, I had to slow down my fitness routine considerably. Then very soon after I finished treatment, I decided to start my professional organizing company while still working in the corporate world. A few years later, my organizing business is prospering, I've still got a foot in the corporate world (company-paid health insurance is a beautiful thing to a cancer survivor), and I've gained weight and lost fitness because I made daily decisions that resulted in my exercising less. Oh, and I had also made the decision to eat more ice cream too.


Since finishing cancer treatment, I have chosen to spend a great deal of my time growing my organizing business. At the same time, I got into a real exercising rut. I even switched gyms in the hopes that a change of scenery would inspire me to work out more regularly and lessen my boredom with the same old workouts I'd been doing for years. On top of that, I started a bad habit of reading emails and surfing the internet as I enjoyed my "pre-workout" breakfast...yeah, the workouts that I wasn't getting around to doing.

After watching some pounds sneak back on, I recently realized that I needed a kick in the pants to change my bad habits back to good ones. So, this weekend I made the decision to do two things to shake me out of my fitness complacency and move me toward 40-something hotness.

  1. I started a new fitness program called CrossFit. I'm doing this 45-minute workout first thing in the morning (before breakfast and time-sucking email) at a nearby gym along with about 30 other people and an instructor who keeps us motivated and moving. The routine is unlike anything I've ever done before, and it's kicking my butt. I love it.
  2. I'm changing my diet to include more fruits, vegetables and lean-protein while cutting back on carbs, especially the ice cream.
I am motivated to start these two new habits because they are new, fun, and guaranteed to show results if I stick with them.


I have always been a morning person. I naturally wake up at the crack of dawn, and I have lots of energy as soon as I get out of bed. This means that, for me, the best time to exercise is first thing in the morning. Lucky for me because research has shown that people who exercise in the mornings do so with more consistency.

I believe that physically and mentally demanding tasks should be done when your energy and focus are at their peak. That may mean that you need to schedule your fitness fix in the afternoons or early evenings. This may also require you to make some scheduling decisions so that life's many demands on your time won't derail your progress. You may have to say no to some obligations & commitments that may come your way. Again, we all have the same 24 hours to work with. Saying "yes" to one commitment means saying no to something else.

Notice that I have bolded statements that point out decisions I have made and the consequences of those decisions. Decisions I have made have allowed me to acheive some goals while falling down on others. Make sure the decisions you make are leading you to the results that you desire. This requires balance, flexibility, and constant assessment.

Remember that it's okay to change and re-prioritize your goals. For the past couple of years, my focus has been on growing my business. But now I'm exercising my right (pun intended) to change my focus toward improving my physical fitness. I'll be glad when my muscles get used to this new decision!

Tips for Laundry Room Organizing

For those of you looking for tips on keeping your laundry room organized, be sure to pick the July 2008 "Atlanta Home Improvement" magazine. In it, you'll find tips that I shared with writer Julie Edwards for her piece titled, "Laundry Room Redo: Tips for a Functional and Stylish Space." You can find this free publication at area Whole Foods grocery stores and Ace Hardware, among other places. I normally pick my copy up at my favorite household consignment store, Finders Keepers, in Avondale Estates.

Here are a few laundry room organizing tips that I shared with Julie:

  • Keep laundry supplies that you use most often, such as detergent, fabric softener, and anti-static sheets on the more accessible lower shelves.
  • Store seldom used items on the higher shelves. I often recommend to my organizing clients that they use the higher shelves in the laundry room to store larger serving pieces or party supplies. Be sure to keep a small folding step stool nearby or you're likely to forget what is stored up there!
  • If you have wire shelving installed in your laundry room (the favorite affordable solution amongst contractors, it seems), consider using a product called The Shelfanator to cover the shelves. The Shelfanator is easy to install and covers up wire shelving giving the space a smooth surface. Too often, the combination of moisture and soap products in the laundry room creates a sticky film over traditional wire shelves. The Shelfanator's smooth surface makes the shelves easier to keep clean and helps prevent items from tipping over or falling through the
  • Liven up the laundry room with bright paint on the walls or with one of the new colorful washer and dryer options like this one.
  • Create a hanging area for clothes that need to air dry. If space is an issue, a folding drying rack or retractable interior clothesline may be perfect solutions.
  • If you have children, consider installing a lower hanging rod so that your kids can help with laundry and begin learning how to take care of their clothes.
  • Keep a small wastebasket in the laundry area for disposing of dryer sheets, dryer lint, and all those tissues and tiny pieces of paper that you pull out of pants pockets, hopefully BEFORE washing them.
One of my favorite trends that I'm seeing in new homes is having laundry rooms closer to the master bedroom. In a few cases, I've even seen them situated in closets inside the master bath. It's so much more convenient to get the clothes from the laundry hamper to the washer and back into closets when you don't have to trek all the way to the basement or mudroom, don't you think?