Today is my daughter Alissa’s 9th birthday, so on this day, I thought I’d share a gift I give my kids on their birthdays so they will remember the past year. I make an annual digital photo album for each of them. The album goes from birthday to birthday and highlights all the adventures of the year. I use Shutterfly.com to make the books. I love the new Custom Path option because it allows you to create a unique custom scrapbook and it’s easy. The only thing that’s required is taking the time to sit with it and follow along. I think the biggest stumbling block for people is picking which photos to use in the book, that is, if you are taking photos, if not, maybe this will inspire you to start! You can always get the pictures in order or create a book, but there’s only one chance to take a picture of a particular event. Once the photos are uploaded into your computer, just drag the favorites from the year into a new album. Edit and crop your pictures, then go to the website and upload them. If you want some help making your own album, our organizers are happy to assist you. Here’s what Alissa’s 8th year looks like:
You have an extra day this year to get your tax documents filed. Hopefully you’re not still scrambling to get them buttoned up! Once you’ve signed off on your returns, there are some tweaks you should make to your filing system to keep things current. Here are some suggestions:
- It’s important to keep your most current tax return in your file system for easy access in case you need it for anything. You should still have your 2010 return handy, so now you can replace it with the new 2011 return.
- Any of the back up data for your returns can be archived. This means that documents pertaining to your tax return do not need to be kept as accessible. We often suggest that our clients file bills etc. chronologically, this way, you can archive a box for each year and keep your tax documentation and any other applicable papers in that box.
- Check out the Chaos To Order Retention Document for some general guidelines on how long to keep certain papers. It’s always a good idea to check with your accountant based on your particular needs when it comes to knowing how long to keep any important papers.
- If you keep boxes in chronological order in long term storage, now is the time to toss one old box. For example, if you keep 7 years, when you add the 2011 box, you can shred the 2004 box. Just make sure you pull out the permanent paper keepers like your tax return, property documents etc…
While you’re in the mode of getting these important papers in order, it might also be a good time to go through some files and do some editing so you can make room for more of the incoming in the year ahead. Of course, the professional organizers of Chaos To Order are always happy to help with that job!
If you’re a user of Google Docs, it just got easier to organize your files. You no longer have to close out of a document to label and file it. Now you can label, file and organize from right inside the document! Here’s their official blog about this new feature. This can be a great time saver and helper in keeping your documents organized. Thanks Google!
In celebration of National Garage Organization Month, we are offering a super package to help eliminate the clutter from your garage. Here are the details of this special package:
- 6 Hours of Professional Organizing services with Senior Level organizer.
- Special price of $399.00, a $510.00 value. Restrictions apply.
- Help eliminate unused items in your garage.
- Advise on & install slat wall, shelving, storage, hooks etc. (for installation, products must be delivered prior to appointment).
- Organize garage into stations i.e. Tools, Lawn Care, Auto Care, etc…
- Appointment must be held by April 30, 21012.
It’s easy to think of the obvious spring cleaning projects like giving a room a good cleaning or making sure your closet is up to date seasonally, but what about all the things that fall off your radar until they need to be fixed? Here’s a list of some often forgotten spring cleaning projects:
1. Remember to dust the coils and vacuum all crevices around your refrigerator to keep it running smoothly. An interior and exterior wipe down could also be in order.
2. Freshen the fireplace. Sprinkle coffee grounds on the ashes for easier clean-up and when you make a fire, toss in some rock salt to keep the chimney clean.
3. Look up. Light fixtures and ceiling fans need a good cleaning and if you didn’t change smoke detector batteries when the clocks changed, add them to your list.
4. Look under. Rather than the routine surface cleaning, take time this spring to move the furniture and give it a thorough cleaning while vacuuming under furniture and wiping the floor under area rugs.
5. Keep a schedule of when you need to replace filters and service your furnace and A/C to keep them running optimally–avoiding extra service calls.
6. If you have granite or marble countertops, sealing them to avoid stains is often overlooked until it’s too late. Schedule time now to have it done or do it yourself.
7. De-gunk drains. Remove the strainer and give all strains and drains a good cleaning. Pour a drain cleaning solution down to keep them smelling fresh and running smooth.
8. Rotate mattresses. If you wan to increase the life of your mattress and get better rest, give it a quarter turn.
9. Discard expired cosmetics and toiletires. Read our blog post, “Makeup Makeover” for tips.
10. Have you taken your Christmas tree lights down? If your still digging out, give us a call or send us an email to schedule an appointment to get organized.
The average woman uses 12 beauty products daily. So if you’re using those 12 products, how many others do you possess that you’re NOT using? It can be a daunting task to give your makeup drawers a make-over, but it can reap many rewards: everything from eliminating bacteria ridden products to finding that one you’ve been searching for–not to mention the good feeling of pulling open that organized drawer with everything you use right at your fingertips. Here are some tips to getting started:
- Keep a closed container for extras. When you buy duplicate products, don’t mix them in with what you’re currently using, wait until the toothpaste runs out completely, then grab another. Who needs 5 versions of the same item cluttering up the drawer?
- Know the shelf life of your makeup. Unopened makeup can last long, but products that are constantly touching your face (especially the eyes) need to be replaced frequently. Here is a complete list of how long to keep makeup.
- When you purchase a new product, use a dot label to put the date on it. Then you will know when it’s time to toss it.
- Do you have 20 tubes of the same brand of lipstick? Are you wasting time sifting thru them every morning to find the one you want? Match them as best you can with a nail polish and brush a dab of it on the top of the lipstick tube so you’ll now the color quickly.
- Organize with the right products. There are all kinds of drawer organizers and dividers you can put your makeup in, don’t go out and purchase any of them until you’ve purged your products. Only when you know what remains will you know what will contain them best.
Of course if clearing the cabinets is something you’d love to have done, but don’t have the time or don’t know where to begin, the professional organizers of Chaos To Order are always happy to help!
Storage units can quickly become disorganized and chaotic. The large unit you thought would sufficiently store all of your items can easily become overcrowded. If you’re not careful, your unit can become filled to the brim with disordered heaps. Here are five ways you can maximize the use of your storage unit.
- Place all large items along the walls of the unit. This will allow for an adequate amount of space in the center of the unit for your smaller possessions.
- If you are storing bookcases, dressers, or armoires, make use of them. You can put knick-knacks, vases, books, DVDs etc… in/on bookcases, and put clothes in a dresser or armoire. This will create more floor space for other items.
- Stack boxes strategically. The largest boxes should be on the bottom of the stack, and the smallest should be on the top. This may seem like common sense, but boxes are often stacked ineffectively in storage units. It’s important to focus on organization and determine what system works best.
- Create small paths for you to access everything you need. You want to be able to easily get whatever you need in your unit. So, make sure you allot enough room to do so.
- Remember that your storage unit isn’t necessarily where you should store everything that can’t fit in your house. Self-storage should not be an alternative to throwing out or donating your unused items. A storage unit should only house what you know you’re going to use in the near future.
About the Author: Tim Eyre helps customers care for their cherished belongings that must be put in storage. Tim’s facilities include the self storage facility in Houston and Spring self storage facility.
The average woman uses approximately 12 toiletries per day. Many use more, much more, not to mention the hoarding that goes on for every shade of lipstick, nail polish, eye shadow etc… Organizing toiletries into bathroom vanities and cabinets can be a daunting task–especially if you’re tight for space. These great little containers called Magnapods can create storage space where you may have never thought you’d have storage space. You can purchase either magnetic or adhesive backed and they come in an assortment of sizes for everything from toothbrushes to nail polish–perfect for all of those tiny little items. You can order them online, they are a bit on the pricey side, but for the sake of organization, they’re worth it!
22 years ago today I started Chaos to Order, and what a joy it has been. Thank you to the many wonderful clients we’ve had through the years. It has been such pleasure helping you keep your space organized. Whether at home, in the office, on a move or in teaching seminars, sharing the message of organization is a passion of mine and I’m privileged to be able to share it. We would certainly not be where we are today without the terrific team of organizers and office staff. Having an assortment of organizers with different gifts has allowed us to meet the needs of such a variety of clients and projects. Not just the team we have today, but everyone that’s worked with us through the years have brought us to were we are and I couldn’t be more grateful.
When we organize for clients, we often find that people underestimate what can be stored in desk drawers. Usually they are a scattered array of papers, office supplies and snacks. Making good use of drawer space requires using the right tools. In this video, our organizer Pam talks about her favorite drawer organizers by Linus.
Do you constantly save documents and files onto your computer without ever taking the time to clear out and organize what you don’t need? Today is a national “holiday” to help create an awareness about removing unnecessary items from your computer and getting digital files organized. Seize the moment today and clear through your files. Here are some tips to help make the task more manageable:
- Think about the types of files you have and group them into a handful of main categories.
- Do you have a functioning paper filing system? Look at your paper files and create a similar digital system.
- Get email under control. Here are some email management tips from a post I wrote for NBC Chicago about getting control of email.
- Photo overload. Many people feel the need to hang on to every photo, whether digital or paper. If you keep too much, you can’t find what’s really important, not to mention images can be very large digital files. Organize your photos chronologically and remove what’s duplicate/unnecessary.
- Gain control of your desktop. Spend some time sorting and filing what’s on your desktop. Fences is a great program for PC users.
- Take 10. A daily 10 minute tidy of the files you’ve used each day will help maintain order on your computer and will actually save you time in the long run.
Take the time today to get your computer files in order and see how eliminating what’s not needed and finding good, efficient places to store things will lead to better organization overall.
Here’ are some tips about products to use to help organize your paperwork. This video was taken by Closet Works at the Container Store.
There’s a very interesting production making it’s Chicagoland debut tomorrow called “Clutter: The True Story of The Collyer Brothers Who Never Threw Anything Out”. It’s a play based on the true story of the brothers who were wealthy, eccentric hoarders in the 1920′s–long before the hoarding phenomenon. Because of their hoarding, the two brothers became shut-ins in their aristocratic New York neighborhood. Langley Collyer is missing and Homer Collyer is found dead amongst floor-to-ceiling piles of newspapers, books , and junk. the police investigating the case, two brothers with a strained relationship mirroring that of the Collyers, are simultaneously making discoveries about themselves. Narrated by the brothers and the police investigating the bizarre case, this darkly fascinating tale is a poignant and profoud exploration of human behavior. It’s opening tomorrow night at the Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue and closing March 11. Clutter is written by seven-time Emmy Award winning playwright Mark Saltzman. Here is an exclusive offer to our readers:
January is a great time to clear through your filing system. With the start of a new year, there’s often files that need to be re-created and files from past years that can be put into storage. We suggest that you go through and clean out your files 1-2 times per year, so the time has come–right? Some of you may even be long overdue! Smead has come out with a great labeling system called Viewables. As you see in the photo, they are “viewable” from the top, front or back. Having the top viewing feature is great for that bottom drawer at your desk. You don’t have to bend down to see the labels when they are viewable from the top. They are also very customizable, so you can completely customize the label, number of lines to print, colors and fonts. The system is also very flexible, you can re-arrange the Viewables tabs just like the standard hanging file tabs, they fit into the same slots.
Open that file drawer, pull out the labels and get your files cleaned out and in order today. Of course, you can always call your Chaos to Order organizer to come and give you a hand if you get stuck. You can even schedule your appointment right here.
If you made any New Year’s resolutions for 2012, you better have a plan in place for how you are going to achieve them. You can’t just say, “I’m going to get organized this year” and leave it at that. You have to take steps to move in that direction on a regular basis throughout the year. January is a great time to think about making improvements in many areas of your life, which brings me to our Website Wednesday pick: Mindbloom.com
Mindbloom.com is a beautiful, interactive website/game that helps you set and reach your goals. First you decide what areas of your life you want to grow in, then you follow along as it gives you ideas of how to grow your “tree of life”.
Check out Mindbloom.com, set some goals and take action to follow through and live the life you want.