London’s Laundromat – 24 Hours, Not Quite Self Service
When a busy mom of four hired me to organize her townhouse, the laundry room was one of her top priorities. Although it wasn’t the sexiest room in the house, it was a space used multiple times a day.
The laundry room was small but well designed with a sense of humor. A counter ran the length of one wall with IKEA shelves above and the washer and dryer below the counter. The opposite wall boasted a sink and linen closet tucked behind the door. A clothesline that retracted into the wall was used to hang hand washed clothing. The sign painted on the wall read, “London’s Laundromat, 24 Hours, Self-Service.
When I arrived, the counter was completely covered with clothing. Boxes of cleaning supplies and random items such as swim goggles and game pieces littered the space as well. The linen closet was stuffed with sheets, towels, backpacks, and tote bags.
I started by tackling the linen closet because I correctly assumed there would be lots of easy to purge items. For example, crib sheets were comingled with other sheets even though the youngest child hadn’t slept in a crib in at least two years. New sheets had been purchased for all of the beds, yet the old sheets still remained. These were all eliminated as well as those that were mismatched, torn, or stained. Tip: when you buy something new remember to eliminate what you bought it to replace. In order to increase the linear feet of space in the linen closet, I added two extra shelves. Moving forward, bed linens would be stored in the bedroom in which they were used. The linen closet would only accommodate guest sheets, towels, and extra laundry supplies.
Clearing off the counter was simple. Laundry was folded and put away in each child’s bedroom. A cumbersome drying rack was discarded. Random items were put where they belonged or discarded. Glass anchor canisters were used to decant laundry detergent and fabric softener.
Since the cabinets which were from IKEA, I used 10 IKEA white curved bins which perfectly fit the space. Like items were grouped together such as sewing supplies, glass cleaners, floor cleaners, sunblock and insect repellent, batteries, and rags. These were labeled using the @Ptouchessentials label maker. The top shelves which were largely inaccessible were used to store overstock and items rarely used.
Once the space was purged, the counters cleared, and items were sorted, contained, and labeled, the space was so appealing that this client said she almost didn’t mind doing laundry. Almost.
About a year ago, a friend asked if I would consider doing a project pro bono; Lisa Meshulam, a single mother of triplets, desperately needed help with organization of her one bedroom apartment. I was intrigued.
When I saw the apartment, it was piled floor to ceiling with storage boxes on wire racks. Cube furniture was filled with bins, books, and papers. Children’s drawings and photos were taped to the walls, and the kitchen counters overflowed with food that didn’t fit in the pantry. Lisa slept in a bed in the corner of the living room, sacrificing her privacy so the boys could share the single bedroom. While the boys’ room was cleverly outfitted with two bunk beds, it was overrun with clutter. Clothing spilled out of empty cubes and onto the floor.
I immediately agreed to help and started by enlisting ClosetMaid as a sponsor. Then, I assembled my team of organizers, and began operation organize.
In 2016, my friend and colleague, Nancy Lascher, became involved with Beautycounter, and I learned a startling fact: the United States is one of the few countries that doesn’t regulate the ingredients in skin care products, and Beautycounter is one of the few companies committed to making skin care products without any harmful ingredients.
As a professional organizer, I never paid much attention to the composition of the products I used to contain and corral my clients’ clutter. Yet, the cancer diagnoses of several friends and clients over the past two years has led me to take a closer look. This week, I cohosted an event with Lara Metz about healthy snacks and food storage containers.
While I don’t profess to being an expert on the chemical composition of organizing products, one of my team members (and cancer surviver), compiled this summary of chemicals to avoid in food storage containers and a list of some recommended products. As we learn more, this list will evolve, and we encourage you to share what you know, so we can provide the most up to date information.
Avoid the following chemicals in food storage containers:
BPA – Bisphenol A Plastic
– Increased risk of cancer
– Sexual and reproductive issues
– ADHD and other developmental disorders
– Endocrine disruption
Every year, clients ask me how to avoid last minute chaos when they host a holiday. Here is a comprehensive list of to-dos for Thanksgiving STARTING NOW:
3 Weeks Before Thanksgiving
• Deep clean your house and purge excess clutter.
• Polish silver.
• Invite your guests. Consider using Paperless Post if you’re having a large group.
• Give specific assignments to guests who ask what they can bring.
• Prepare a dinner menu including wine, liquor, and soda.
• Prepare a grocery list based on the dinner menu.
• Think about table décor (e.g., flower arrangement(s), votives, small bud vases).
• Order the turkey.
• If you don’t have proper roasting tools (pan, rack, thermometer, basting tools, carving knife), buy them now.
• Order any favorite dessert items from your bakery (non-refrigerated items are best).
• Take an inventory of your serving pieces, dishes, silverware and glasses. If additional items are needed, purchase them now or contact a rental company to reserve. Don’t forget to include rental tables, chairs or linens, if needed. Continue reading “Thanksgiving Countdown” »
Eighteen and a half years ago, we became an instant family when my twins wore born. Now, the reverse is inevitable as the empty nest looms ahead. In August, my twins will start college. We’ll fly as a family of four to St. Louis where we’ll move my daughter into her dorm at Washington University. Then, three of us will fly to Atlanta to move my son into his room at Emory University. Five days later, only two of us will return home. While this time is bittersweet for us, it’s also a time where strategic planning and preparation can remove some of the stress, and help us enjoy a special milestone. Although I’m a first timer, here are some tips that I’ve gathered from friends and family that have made this journey before me.
1. Book flights and hotels for move in and family weekends when you’re notified of the dates. The closer the hotel is to campus, the sooner it gets sold out.
Every year, so many of my friends and clients vow that this will be the year they get organized. And, despite the best of intentions, organization often falls by the wayside. So, instead of resolutions that are so ambitious or broad that they’re destined to disappoint, here are five simple behavioral changes you can implement to help you stay organized in 2018.
Tackle the Tough Task: Do what you dread most first—the rest of the day will run more smoothly without that dreaded task hanging over your head.
Stick to a Routine: Get in the habit of doing things the same way every time—if you always put your cell phone in the same pocket of your handbag, you won’t be scrambling to find it each time it rings.
Fight the Onslaught of Paper: Discard all catalogs, solicitations and advertisements you get in the mail immediately. Personal correspondence, bills and necessary financial documents should all go in an in-box and then addressed weekly.
Declutter Your Digital Space: In your downtime (waiting on line, waiting on hold), unsubscribe from all of your digital junk mail. Create an online filing system, so you have a place to put emails other than leaving them in your inbox.
Minimize Stress by Being Prepared: At the end of each workday, make a to-do list for the next day. Knowing what’s ahead of you will let you unwind in the evening and start the next morning in an organized way.
We all know holiday prep has a way of spiraling into full on hysteria. From gift shopping and RSVPs, to party attendance and clean-up, managing your holiday schedule is a full time job. This season, approach “the most wonderful time of the year” with a clear, organized plan of attack. Keep calm and party on!
Buy gifts you love in bulk and give them to as many people on your list as possible. Gift cards are your best bet.
Have hostess gifts on hand and keep it simple. It’s okay to bring a bottle of wine or to buy a dessert instead of cooking or baking.
Take inventory of your holiday decorations before and after the holiday. Before the holiday, you can assess whether you need to buy anything new. At the end of the holiday, you can get rid of anything broken or soiled.
Keep a spreadsheet of all of the holiday tips you give. You may not remember how much you tipped your mail carrier last year, but he or she will.
If you have a social commitment that you’re dreading, be targeted about how you spend your time when you get there. Arrive early and spend a few minutes one on one with the host. Put in your face time, do the necessary networking, and be on your way.
Don’t feel obligated to save your friends’ holiday cards with their children’s pictures. Since you probably don’t have your own children’s photos perfectly organized; why would you add pictures of someone else’s kids to the mix?
In the 22 years that I’ve been married, my husband has given me many gifts. While I certainly love getting the occasional extravagant gift, the one I appreciated most was definitely the least expensive and possibly the most boring. It was a stationery embosser with beautiful paper. Romantic? No. Practical? Yes. Do I still have it 15 years later? Yes.
Selecting the perfect gift can be highly stressful; there’s the discomfort over what to buy, how much to spend, and whether the gift will be appreciated. Recent research out of Indiana University Kelley School of Business and the Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business suggests that while “givers are drawn toward surprising or entertaining gifts that are fun in the moment of exchange…they underestimate how much people typically appreciate practical gifts.” If you want to be sure that your gift is one that “keeps on giving,” try these helpful hints.
When my twins were born 17 years ago, we received not one, but two decorative, monogrammed seesaws…from one store. It’s difficult to imagine that the store wouldn’t have told the second person ordering this “gift” with the same names and delivery address to select something else, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say that I was stuck with two seesaws that were, in my practical mind, a waste of space and a silly gift. So, I did what any self-respecting professional organizer would do and put them both out on the curb the next morning.
Although this can be difficult for some people, never feel compelled to keep a gift you don’t like. It will end up taking up space in your home and your psyche for what is often literally years. To avoid this, consider these tips
From CEO’s to soccer moms, we’re all overwhelmed by the volume of emails received each day. Studies show that the average person checks a device approximately 150 times during waking hours. Still, it seems that we can never catch up. If you feel stressed just thinking about your inbox, here are some tips to tame the email beast.
Create a digital filing system. Filing emails reduces visual noise and eliminates wasted time re-reading emails already opened. It also facilitates emptying your email box on a daily basis (getting to “in-box zero”).
Search messages by name. Using the search box, type in the names of your boss, important colleagues, and frequent correspondents. This will help you categorize and file emails in a meaningful way. Most emails more than a week old are probably irrelevant and can be deleted.
Don’t save emails as a visual cue to take action. Unless you have white space on the bottom of your computer screen, a saved email is just clutter.
Touch each email only once. Avoid opening emails multiple times without responding. Make a decision about how it will be handled (delete or file) and move forward.
Any time you receive an unwanted email, take a few seconds to unsubscribe so you never see it again.