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Organizing & Storing Holiday Decorations

Now that the holidays are over and we leave the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season behind us it’s time to turn our minds to storing and organizing those holiday decorations. In order to make it easier for you next year it makes sense to get all the ornaments and holiday accessories stored in an orderly fashion and all in one place.  There’s nothing worse than rummaging through bins and boxes trying to remember where you stored your lights, ornaments and decorations for the season.

With that in mind, here are some easy tips you can use for storing your holiday ornaments and decorations.

I find it very helpful to use bins that are colour coded to help distinguish the box for Christmas from the box for Halloween or Easter decorations.  Stores typically carry a variety of colours now so it’s pretty easy to get colour coded bins.  Green and red bins for Christmas, orange for Halloween and maybe yellow for Easter.

It’s always important to label all sides of the bin as well as the top so that it’s easy to read what is inside. Also make sure the writing on the label is large enough for you to read if you keep your bins up high.

One of my clients told me that she hates it when bins are stacked on top of each other because that means she has to physically move one or more to get to the one on the bottom.  This makes perfect sense.  That’s why I recommend storing bins on a shelving unit to keep them separate and easy to retrieve as well as return.

One very important tip is to ensure that your container is waterproof, especially if it’s kept in the garage or basement where moisture can be a problem.  Pests can also get into some bins so make sure the lid is tight and preferably one that has a lock over mechanism.

Before you store everything away take a review of all the items you have.  There may be decorations you no longer like, don’t use or are broken.  There is no sense in storing these things taking up valuable space when they are either not needed or really wanted.  Throw them away or donate.

You may find you have feelings of sentimentality towards certain items.  Perhaps you are keeping them for your children or they are heirlooms from past holidays handed down through the generations.  Be sure to clearly mark and store these with bubble wrap so they stay safe and intact. If these are ones that you typically do not display at all, make sure you keep them in an out of the way location from the rest of the holiday decorations.

Many stores carry organizing containers specifically for ornaments, wreaths, lights and even artificial trees. For trees specifically you can purchase either a tree bag made of sturdy fabric with handles with or without wheels, or you can purchase a tree bin which typically holds up to 8 foot trees.  Many can be found and ordered on-line as well so performing a Google search will give you lots of options to choose from.

We all know the holidays can be a very hectic time of year.  Take care and effort now in storing your holiday decorations so it’s more effortless and enjoyable next year.

5 Tips to Getting and Staying Organized at Home

Getting and staying organized at home is not always easy.  If you want to go from clutter to calm, here are a few inexpensive tips to get you started.

1. An old wooden stepladder is a creative way to hold bath and hand towels in a small bathroom where cupboards are non-existent.  You can event paint it to match your decor!

2. Small empty jam jars are a great way to contain cotton swabs, cotton balls and other essential and small hygiene items.

3. Takeout restaurant menus can be stored in a handy binder rather than clogging up one of the few kitchen drawers you have.

4. A coffee table that can double as a storage bench/ottoman is a great way to store video games and accessories, throws or even board games.

5. Instruction manuals (we all seem to have a lot of those) can be stored in either a binder or a clear lidded bin or basket.  I prefer the latter because then I don’t have to fuss with a binder and can just toss the manual easily into a bin.  How often do you really refer to them anyway? And don’t forget to purge the manuals yearly or when you replace old or broken merchandise.

 

Creative Office Organizing

Sometimes when we’re organizing offices we need to be creative.  It may be because of a lack of space, needing the area for a multiple of purposes and activities, or simply because of the way our client’s function in the space.  For this particular project it was the latter.  Many of my clients are challenged with ADD and ADHD.   Although smart as a whip, our client is challenged with ADHD and therefore paperwork organization was difficult for him. Running a very successful business from home can have it’s drawbacks.  One of those drawbacks is that it can be overwhelming to keep up with all the paperwork that comes with the business. I can certainly attest to that in my own home office. Organization is really the key to maintaining any successful business.  Otherwise things gets lost through the cracks, including cheques!

I thoroughly enjoyed working hands on with this particular client.  He has an amazing sense of humour which can be very helpful for everyone when sorting through papers. Typically, when organizing business documents and paperwork we use file folders.  However, with this particular client, file folders was not a workable solution for him and his way of thinking and working in his space. At least not for his accounting paperwork.  He had already tried to organize with baskets and bins, however the system was not working because pieces were missing from the set up. Working with him we created a bin system of filing accounting papers as well as one special bin strictly to contain papers for filing when he just did not have the time to deal with it. This particular client was not fussy on fancy labelling or worried about aesthetics.  He simply needed a functional system for organizing his papers.  Here’s what we created and what now works efficiently for him:

System for organizing office papers

This may not be a workable solution for everyone but it proves that every client is different and we need to customize our solutions to fit our client’s needs, no matter how diverse. A simple and effective solution to organizing papers for easy filing. No fuss, no muss! What kind of filing system do you use?  I’d love to hear your creative ideas.

 

My Fave 5 Organizing Products

There are certain organizing products that I find I utilize more often due to their functionality and efficient use of space.  I thought I’d share my favorite five with you today, in no particular order.

The first is the NEATKIDS Closet Max Organizing system by NeatFreak.  It’s designed specifically to hold kid-size items, is a very functional, hanging closet organizing system that’s fun, affordable  and even more important, it can grow with your child.  It’s made of durable nylon strapping, has two different patterns to choose from, there’s no tools needed for assembly and it`s super quick to put up, hanging from your existing closet rod.   You can customize and mix and match your pieces. You can check out their website and other products at www.neatfreak.com.

Next on my list is a 6 shelf hanging sweater organizer.  This product hangs from your existing closet rod and is made to hold sweaters neatly in your closet.  However, I like to use it in entry hall closets to hold dress boots.  It keeps them in good shape & off the floor. Retails for approximately $ 24.00 and is available at Solutions – Your Organized Living Store.  www.solutions-stores.ca.

I also love the DAY JA VIEW Recurring Events Calendar.  This calendar won the 2011 Parent Tested, Parent Approved Award. Based on a school year, it’s great for a busy family to track recurring events, activities,  appointments, meeting and projects in minutes and is easy to use for the whole family. Retails for approximately $29.00and is available at www.mydayjaview.com.

The RISE AND HANG Action Pak Duffel Bag by Rise Luggage is an amazing new invention which you will likely hear much more about in the coming months. I’ve talked about it before in one of my earlier blogs.  Born out of the frustration of keeping organized while travelling and not wanting to put clothes in a hotel dresser for fear of germs, bed bugs or mold, the Rise and Hang system effortlessly keeps clothes where they belong.  Shelves within the luggage hold all your clothes organized and in separate compartments and the bottom can be used as a hamper for dirty ones. Normally priced at $59.99, it is currently available at Evex Luggage,Mississauga, Ontario or available at www.riseandhang.com.There is an even better deal as well: On April 29th at the Stouffville Stilettos & Sneakers fundraising event, as a show special they are providing me with a number of these bags for sale for $49.99 so be sure to stop by and grab on.  At this price they will go pretty fast!

And then there is the CLOSETMAID closet storage components. I use these products frequently in closets. Especially the 2 shelf horizontal organizer which is great for organizing shoes on the top shelf or floor of a closet to maximize the use of vertical space. This particular item retails for about $17.00 and can be found at Solutions – Your Organized Living Store.  www.solutions-stores.ca.

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite things you use to organize spaces in your home or office.  Tell me about your creativity! Send me a message and share your stories.

Spring Cleaning – Storage Locker Organization

As you know from my previous post, I was faced with the challenge of organizing two condominium storage lockers for “spring cleaning”.  It was quite a challenge as the owner of the lockers, as well as his two sons, are sports enthusiasts and involved in everything from hockey, lacrosse, golf, fishing to mountain biking and more. The main storage locker had to accommodate all the sports gear for easy transitioning from one type of sport to another, as well as store all seasonal items.  As you can see from these photos, the locker was an obstacle course and in a state of disorganization making it virtually impossible to maneuver and reach anything without tripping and falling over stuff.

Storage Locker Before OrganizingStorage Locker Before Organizing

Faced with two concrete walls and two wire grid walls, being creative and having a vision was essential to be successful in this project.  Most condominiums have very strict rules regarding storage lockers and what you can and cannot do.  Utilizing new storage shelving, re-configuring the space and sectioning off parts of the locker into specific zones for sports and seasonal holiday items was the most efficient and functional way to work through this project without breaking any condominium rules. My client was so excited about this project that within 30 minutes of starting the final organization and set up session, he actually sent his girlfriend down to see what was happening with the space.  Then not long after that he came down himself, on 2 or 3 different occasions, to “nonchalantly” check it out and see the transformation take place. He was like a little boy at Christmas, he just couldn’t wait.  When I completed the final touches and he came down for the big reveal, he was in fact thrilled with the outcome.  Here’s the picture I took after the project was completed.

It was a challenging experience and the outcome was a successful transformation into a fully accessible, safe and functional space. Look! You can even see the floor! What’s your next challenge?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Storage Locker Chaos

What I love about working in this field is not only the variety of people I get to meet and help on a daily basis, but also the challenges of working and organizing in many different spaces.  I’ve recently began a project for a friend of mine organizing his condominium storage locker.  Two lockers, actually.  One was a very small unit, and the other was a much larger unit.  For those of you who don’t know, the majority of walls in a storage locker are made of a network of wire grids.  In some instances you’ll find these similar to that of a chain link fence, and in other instances, the wire is thick, heavy duty, with no flexibility, similar to that of a dog cage. In this case, it is the latter.

My friend generally uses the smaller storage unit for long-term storage items, such as antique furniture pieces and memorabilia, but other items were thrown into the mix. When sorting through this unit , we found snowboards, old hockey bags, old jackets and a bunch of other “stuff”.  When we pulled everything out of the unit were we amazed at how much was actually packed into it.  Problem was, you couldn’t see most of it so there were some surprises for my friend.   Two of the items in this unit are wood storage trunks.  Inside the trunks we found very old record albums in green garbage backs dating back to early 1900’s.  Unfortunately, there was an extensive amount of mold damage, much of which was apparently pre-existing before even being placed in the trunk many years ago. Storing these trunks in the underground storage locker may or may not have contributed to the problem.  Although the locker did not feel as if moisture existed, it’s generally always an issue because of the concrete floors which tend to pull moisture up from the ground.  We ultimately had to dipose of many of the albums but were also able to save several. Once the moldy albums and bags were removed from the trunks, we had some new-found storage space within the trunks themselves which we utilized to the max.  Keeping in mind the ultimate purpose for this particular unit, we removed any items for which access would be frequent and designated them to the larger locker.   We even freed up space so that infrequently used items currently in the larger unit were assigned to this long term space.

Moving on to the larger storage locker, we sorted all the items into categories, such as sports gear, household items, automotive items, etc., and were then able to see exactly what needed to be contained in the space. Everything was put back in the unit on a temporary basis and in a temporary fashion pending the purchase of the organizing products and accessories needed to properly set up the space.  With a fairly low budget I headed out to shop. This was more of a challenge than sorting through the two units combined. The unique challenge in this case was finding the appropriate hooks in the right size to hang sports items up on the grid wall system without alot of trouble.  “S” type hooks are the quick fix option but they tend to flip right off the grid wires and get lost.  Carabiners can be helpful but only if the opening is large enough to easily hook onto the item that needs to hang.  I needed at least a 5″ carabiner to do the job.  If my client has to struggle to get a heavy item on or off of a hook or fastener, then that’s not a very good option as it will not only be frustrating but potentially dangerous as well. During my shopping extravaganza I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t getting frustrated at the lack of appropriate fasteners for the job. Perhaps this is a sign that I need to invent something!

Being inventive and creative in this industry is a necessity as we are frequently called upon to “create space” where none appears to exist. One of my colleagues had a great idea for creating storage in a locker such as this. He once used the frame of an old Ikea bookcase (shelves removed), raised it off the concrete floor to protect it from moisture, and inserted hooks on the top and sides of the bookcase framing to hang up items in a storage unit.  He then drilled holes through the framing and securely fastened the framing to the wire grid wall with wires. It’s not “pretty” but it’s functional because it made it possible to securely hold fasteners on which sports gear could be hung, which is ultimately what his client wanted.

The idea of using the frame of an old bookcase is a good option for some people, although not one that would work for my friend.  So after over 2 hours of scouring the major, and some smaller, hardware and big box stores, I came back to my office with a large assortment of hooks and fasteners, satisfied that I had gathered every possible option.  Ultimately I know that I”ll be returning some products, but at least I will be prepared. I go back to perform the final organization and set up of the locker on Saturday so I’ll let you  know how it turns out and post some pictures as well. Wish me luck!

 

Clutterbgone Television Debut on Rogers

Yesterday was an interesting day for me. I appeared on Rogers daytime TV with hosts Elaine Yim-Spencer and Jeff Moore to talk about professional organizing and to demonstrate a few pretty cool products to get your life and home organized.  Here’s the video:   http://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=17&gid=89952

Neat Freak was great enough to supply me with components of the Neat Kids Closet Max organizing system. Neat Kids Closet Max organizing system

I just love this product for children’s closets because it grows with your child, makes the clothing accessible to them and teaches children the skills of organizing at a young age.  The components are made of durable fabric and strong nylon strapping and comes in two patterns:  Pop Rock and Candy Stripe.  Even better is that no tools are required to assemble the system, it’s quick and easy and uses your existing rod in the closet.  It’s specifically designed to hold kid-size clothing and items and you can mix and match the different components to create your own unique and custom closet system.  The price point is amazing and you can create a very functional system in a small closet for less than $200.00 easy!

I also demonstrated the Day ja View Recurring Events Calendar which was designed by Sharon Neiss, a professional young mother of three. Day ja View Recurring Events Calendar This calendar won the Parent Tested Parent Approved award for 2011 and is currently patent pending.  It’s great for families and organizing your events and activities in minutes with its ingenious 3 step design.  It’s definitely a winner for families and retails at only $19.99.

Lastly I was able to demonstrate the Grid It! organizer generously provided by Cocoon Innovations.Grid It! organizer  It comes in a bunch of different sizes,  and is an extremely versatile and functional solution to organizing your digital devices and personal items.  It’s made of rubberized woven elastic that firmly holds your stuff in place and there are endless configurations so you can customize the product to suite your specific needs.  It’s a great idea for laptops, Ipads, travel cases, knapsacks and essentially any carrying bag.  The price point varies depending on the size, but you can get a very functional one for about $19.00.

All in all a pretty great day.  I’ll be back on Rogers Daytime TV  in February and will keep you posted.