Thursday, July 23, 2009

Scrapbooking Corner

I've got to start by saying that I'm not a huge scrapbooker. I enjoy doing it, I think I come up with some creative ideas but it takes a lot of time and it is quite an investment, and also requires a lot of organization to keep everything in its place. I do, however, have some great organization ideas and tips for you scrapbookers out there.

For the novice scrapbookers, such as myself, I would recommend a large plastic tub to store scrapbooking materials in. At this point, all of my scrapbook materials fit into one extra large under-the-bed tub. If I accumulate much more I would expand to smaller plastic tubs that still fit under my bed.

I know there are a lot of advanced scrapbookers who are quite talented and extremely creative. You guys probably have accumulated countless scrapbooking materials that need a home. Many really good scrapbookers like to have an area or a zone for their scrapbooking or other creative activities. My suggestion would be to create a zone in your basement, take ownership of an extra bedroom or hold the office or den hostage to your materials.

A large table is quite necessary so you can spread out photos, materials and papers while you're working. I like to stand up when I work on projects like this, so I would look for a large, square, counter-height table. My ideal table would have built-in storage between the legs or at the base. I would love cabinets or cubbies or shelves where I could store baskets or buckets of materials.

I really like the idea of mounting a pegboard on the wall and hanging materials such as scissors or ribbon. You could also hang a shelf or a bucket from the pegboard and store die cutters, pens or markers and other trinkets or embellishments for your scrapbook pages.

Most expert and advanced scrapbookers have a large supply of cardstock. Small drawers on wheels are a great storage idea for scrapbooking papers, storing mementos and keeping other supplies on hand. Labeling these drawers is a great idea and makes it look really professional. I also love the idea of storing cardstock in office-style file trays that you can stack on top of each other.

Other than that I think you should be set. Just remember the basics: keep everything in its place, eliminate clutter, clean up after yourself after every scrapbooking session and create a place for everything to go. Oh, and keep a trash and recycling nearby! You'll need it. Happy scrapbooking!

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Little Projects

I think I could set a record for the number of bags and cosmetic bags I own. AND I just got rid of a whole bunch of them last summer when I moved to Seattle. The amazing thing about this is that I have hardly bought any of them - many have come from "bonus days" at the cosmetics counter at Marshall Fields (yes, I've had them since all since then). These bags are more challenging to organize simply because of their shape and size. I have areas for all of them, but it's hard to keep them in their proper places and get to them easily. I've got myself quite a few projects that need organizing.

I could also set a record for the number of travel toiletries I own. And don't even use. Unless I'm going camping. They take up a lot of space and are really annoying to store. My solution was this: use some of my cosmetic bags to store the toiletries. I stored all the little shampoos and conditioners together, the lotions in one bag, the toothbrushes and floss and toothpaste from the dentist in one really large bag, and body washes in another. Now that the cosmetic bags have more of a purpose I stored them in the linen closet in the bathroom on a shelf.

Other ideas for storing travel toiletries would be in a bucket or basket, or a set of small drawers in the linen closet for very easy access. I love the idea of using fancy boxes (perfume boxes, etc) to store these items in as well.

Back to my enormous bag collection... When I speak of bags here, I'm talking about any kind of bag you can think of - beach bag, workout bag, ski bag, duffel bag, backpack, messenger bag, etc. I was getting sick of sorting through all of my bags to get to the one I wanted without messing up the whole pile so I knew it needed a change. I used to use the largest bag to store all of the smaller bags - but I don't really recommend that unless you never use the largest bag. It gets quite annoying to have to sort through the bag and then find a spot for the smaller bags when you need to use the largest bag.

My new solution is to arrange the larger bags (duffel and ski bags and backpack) on the top shelf of my closet, then stack some of the smaller bags (messenger bags, a few beach bags) on top of each other. For the remaining bags (mostly beach bags) I hung on hangers. This goes for some purses too (use nice hangers!). It allows for easy access without messing up the whole stack of bags. It's a win-win situation!

And I have to put this in here somewhere... whenever I get low on a supply or food I write it on my list (grocery/Target/Costco all have their own lists) and buy a new item BEFORE I run out. That is the system around here. Lo and behold last night I needed a AA battery and WE WERE OUT. I NEVER run out of things. I didn't even KNOW we were running low! And now we have zero AA batteries. Needless to say I was not the one who used the last of the batteries. I wish I knew of a service that would pick up some batteries at Target and bring them to me at midnight when I needed two.

I've had a great weekend of little organizing projects, so far...

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

iPhone Apps to Organize Your Life

I found this article on the NY Times website uncovering the multitude of applications for iPhones to assist with keeping organized. Check it out:

I just got an iPhone myself and am trying out different apps to see what works well for me. So far, I really like the "notes" that came with the phone. Let me know what your favorite organizational apps for your iPhone are!

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Organizing with Reusables

Living in Seattle has made me into more of a recycling fanatic, as well as someone who tries to waste less. I like to put on my "creative thinking cap" and re-use things that I can. This is another cheap and easy way to stay organized on a budget!

Some things you can easily re-use as a storage container:

• Ice Cream tub (gallon size)

• Yogurt container (2 pound size)

• Deli takeout containers

• Margarine/sour cream/large cream cheese tub

• Pickle/jam/spaghetti sauce jar

• Coffee can

• Shoe box

• Any size can (think tomato sauce, soup, canned green beans)

What to do with them:
If you have kids (or if you're a crafty adult) you could turn this into a really cool and unique art project. This blog is about organization, not art, but an idea is wrapping the containers in a paper bag and decorating the outside - glue on sequins, glitter, whatever you have around the house.

Or, if you don't like seeing the manufacturer's design on the container, just wrap it in white paper and write what is inside of it.

I am always in need of more storage for little things like paper clips, other office supplies, jewelry, first aid supplies, hair binders and accessories, nail polish, kids trinkets and just plain junk. It's hard to beat these nifty little containers, especially since most of you probably have several of these in your cabinets or refrigerator at home.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Organizing Kids' Keepsakes

I do think it is really important, for sentimental reasons, to cherish and keep some of your children's school projects throughout the years, drawings, special baby clothing and photographs of your children's lives. It seems to me with regard to mementos, photographs and artwork/projects would occupy the most space, leading to the most clutter in this area.

The key to keeping the kid's souvenirs organized is to not become a hoarder. As your child grows, throw some of your favorite things into their "keepsake box" but set a limit for yourself. Remember, your child will probably spend at least 18 years living in your house, not to mention if you want to keep college papers, graduation photos, etc. in his keepsake box. I do not include photos in this category - there really shouldn't be a limit on photos, if you ask me, because they can all be stored electronically.

If you're starting from scratch (have really young children), here is my advice to you: Find a large cardboard box or purchase a very large clear plastic tub (I say clear for a reason) for each child you have. This will become his keepsake box. Label the box/decorate it/have the kid decorate it - whatever - it just needs to be identifiable by you and housed in an easily accessible spot. Once you've got your box, you're set. The challenging part now is deciding what makes the keepsake box cut and what goes in the trash. Yes, I said it, I'm giving you permission to throw your children's memories away. As your child progresses you'll probably be tempted to throw everything he does into his keepsake box. Be picky - only the best should make the cut. Regularly go through the box and keep it orderly - again, only the best should make the cut, limiting this to no more than five items per year.

For those of you who already have children and have been saving keepsakes like it's your job, my question to you is: why? What are you saving them for? I wholeheartedly support saving a few really great things - that first book that Hannah read at age 5, Tucker's first division test, Grayson's report cards, Madison's SAT scores and Evan's self-portrait drawing at age 16. If you have gotten too carried away and are running out of room but your kid is only 5, there is a problem. Take everything out of your box or bin or whatever you have been using to store things in and go through it all, limiting the contents to fewer than five objects per year per child. I will allot you one box per child per life. No negotiations.

If you're having trouble getting rid of stuff, ask yourself why you're saving it. If the answer is something along the lines of, "so my kid can see his progress" or "so my kid can save his mementos" or "so when my kid grows up he can look back on all of his old artwork," I understand. However, your child doesn't need to be able to go back to every cherished drawing he did or stuffed animal he has. If you can't bring yourself to throw away the 3,219,084,398 paintings and drawings your child will do prior to 4th grade, consider giving them to a family member or brightening a senior citizen's nursing home room/child's hospital room by giving them a painting. As for saving your children's old toys, there are so many children who can benefit from your toy donation, I seriously don't think your 18-year-old child will care if you save his Thomas the Tank Engine whistle train -- give it away.

Photos from your children's lives can take up an entire storage room by themselves. I love the idea of chronicling each year or so in its own photo book. If you must have a second copy printed of each photo I would highly recommend you stock up on photo boxes. Most shoe boxes work very well, too. Arrange the photos in their boxes chronologically with labels. Here's what I would do: upload my pictures online, print off one copy of the great one's for the photo book and leave the rest online. The kids each have their own photo book for each year and everyone has access to the photos online, assumedly forever. My favorite online photo storage site is: - 9 cent prints can't be beat!

Other creative and wonderful ways to cherish your kid's artwork outside the box: frame it and hang it as you would a fine piece of art (seriously!); post pictures/paintings in their bedroom, playroom, closet or family room; display proudly around the house (if it's not a painting/picture - use a clay bowl for change, a wire sculpture as an accent piece); give it to Grandma (or aunts/uncles/other family members/close family friends) - she'll never throw it away; hang it on the refrigerator for a period of time; create an ArtBook for each child (bind several pieces of artwork together into a book); scan it onto your computer and upload it onto your blog/picture website/kid's website and enjoy forever; take a picture of your child with the piece of art and put it in his photo book/online.

Lastly, if you are a very sentimental family, consider doing this together. Get the kids involved with starting and maintaining their keepsake box and ask their opinions about what they want to keep forever and what they can live without.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

The Fundamentals of Organization

I've shared a lot of my personal opinions in this blog so far, and this post is no different. What I believe the fundamentals of organization are may be different from what other professional organizers consider to be the fundamentals. If you're about to do a major mental or physical overhaul with regards to organization I would advise you to read this to make sure you've got the basics down before you get in over your head.

Mindset. The first step to becoming more organized is to develop a positive mindset that is going to motivate you to be organized. This isn't something to take lightly. You must be in it wholeheartedly in order to live a fully organized life. If you don't give it your all you won't see the best possible results.

Willingness. For most people, especially those who organizing doesn't come as a second nature, becoming organized requires a big lifestyle change. This requires the willingness to accept the change and go with it. You must be willing to change your way of thinking and adapt a new mindset to help you live your new and organized life.

Follow through. You've got the new mindset and the willingness to change and pick up new habits. Now you have to follow through and do them. Instead of walking past a pile of papers the "new you" is going to follow through and pick up the papers and put them in their proper place. It's little things that add up to a huge difference. Making a small amount of effort will result in great strides.

These may sound like easy changes to make, and for some people they are, but for most people it's a whole lifestyle change. Many people need to completely alter the way they think and view their daily tasks, personal belongings in their home and how to go about being more organized.

Good luck!

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