Friday, February 29, 2008

A Temple for Templates

One of the ways I feel and keep myself organized is with various forms. Computerized and already made for me forms. I'll be honest, I am lazy in the creation and creativity department. I just don't want to make the time to create an invoice, fascimile sheet, or budget sheet. Do you?

Most of us have some form of Microsoft office or office helper on our computers already. But, they can be kind of boring or they don't have exactly what we are needing or wanting.

Check out Microsoft Office Online. They have so many FREE and downloadable templates. I downloaded my monthly budget from here and my personal fascimile sheet for my home business of freelance writing gigs. They have so many options. Plus, if it needs a little tweaking, you can still adjust it to your exact liking.

They have a template for some of the most random categories!

I am sure you can find something that will fit your needs.

Here are just a FEW examples:

Grocery List

Christmas List



So, help you and/or your family stay a little more organized with a new checklist, form, or budget without having to take the time to create it yourself!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Shred It Ya'll

I preach and preach all these "to do's" and "ta da's," but there is one thing I know is absolutely necessary and simple and most people do it...except me. Why? Just because I am human and a penny pinching nazi. I need a shredder! Yes, and you do too if you don't already have one.

There is no reason why there is not at least one decent shredder in every household in the world. We need to start a global revolution. ...Ok. Now I am getting a little dramatic.

Shredding your personal documents at home is just as important as your bank, your doctor's office, your accountant, or anyone else who may have access to the interworkings of you, needing to shred those ever-revealing documents. Not only for organizing reasons, but for identity reasons. So, if there is one organizing chore you do for yourself, shred.

Shredders are cheap...or at least you can find a shredder for cheap. You can even get one of those shredder tops to put over an existing trash can and they can be found for around $10. There is no real need to get a fancy shmacy shredder. Just avoid being cheaper than me.

Aurora 6-Sheet Strip-Cut Paper Shredder - AS618SB (From Target)


Friday, February 22, 2008

Organize His Habits

So, I received the following question:

Got any tips for helping him (her husband) put things back where they're supposed to go once he's used them? Or were you blessed with a partner who is as organized as you are?

No, my lovely lady, I was absolutely not blessed with a partner who is organized or puts things back where he got them. I was blessed with someone who uses the dining table as a second closet. Which causes this reaction:

So, last night after I saw your question, I went to my partner and asked him how he started to change his clutter ways. This is basically what he said, "Tell your reader that the only way she is going to get her husband to do what she says is to nag constantly, give faces (like above provided face), and to follow him around the house picking things up behind him and making sure he knows about it. He will eventually have to decide between a life of picking up after himself or suicide. I chose picking up after myself because it came with a big ole main course of you, honey."

Again, insert the snubby nosed face.

So, seriously, this is what I am going say to those of you with a similar problem. I did nag, don't get me wrong. But I always try to add a little reason to the end of my nagging ways. The one thing men and most all people really love and get satisfation from is the idea there is place for something or everything. The problem that arises is that this "place" can be different for everyone.

This reader with the question stated she is planning on re-vamping the master bedroom. So, I am assuming that there is a problem with the hubby just putting things wherever he wants. This is probably because these spots are convenient for him and it takes little effort and thought to place these things where he is placing them. Take note of his habits. You can't change his habits but you can organize them. Answer these questions:

1. Is he throwing his clothes wherever he feels? Are they on the bed? Are they on the floor?
2. Where does he take his shoes or house shoes off? Where does he leave them regularly?
3. What does he normally do with his dirty towels and clothes when he gets in and out of the shower?
4. Where does he leave his wallet, keys, watch, or any other man accessory at the end of the day?
5. What is the first thing he does in the morning when he gets out of bed?
6. What is the last thing he does before he goes to bed?

One of the things I discovered about men (or my man) is that they need their "man cave." And they need to feel like they have their own space in a room that is really their "partner's" room. When men and women combine two spaces into one cohesive space, (let's be honest) most of the time the space becomes the woman's space, at least in the decorating sense...and in the closet sense. Normally, not all the time, women take more of the closet space.

Give him his space. Give him his spot. Take a corner of the room or closet and dedicate it to his messiness. If he is normally leaving his clothes lying around, their is a convenience behind the location. For instance, if he leaves his clothes lying on the end of the bed, place a nice looking wicker hamper (with a lid) at the foot of the bed. Or if he is leaving his clothes on the bathroom floor, place a hamper in the bathroom or hang a laundry bag on the back of the bathroom door.

If he leaves his shoes wherever is convenient...try to find a bench or stool that can be placed somewhere that is "his" place to remove and leave his shoes. He can sit comfortably and take his time removing his shoes after a long day and just leave them there. You could also hang a rack above or near it so that he can leave his scarf, jacket, hat, or anything else on the hooks.For example:


(Just to give an example. You could also do a trunk for settee/bench at the foot of the bed.)

If you have a dresser with your jewelry box and perfumes and girlie stuff on it, make a spot for his stuff too! Try to find a man box that will fit his wallet and keys or whatever he needs when he walks out the door. For example:

GARRETT VALET TRAY (from pottery barn)
Valet Tray $49.00 SPECIAL $29.00

The point is, don't tell him what to do because it's what you want and it's the way you want it done. Let him know that you want to give him a space in the bedroom and you promise you won't use it and you won't feminize (I think I just made up a word) it.

Really take a look at his habits, really consider them, and work around them...and him. If he has his own space in the room, he may make more of an effort to keep is nice.

I sure hope that was helpful! These are just methods I have used with my partner and they have worked so far. Good Luck!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Clean Up and Clean Out

So,inspired by a comment in a previous post, I have provided the following. This is an excerpt from a past college "How To" assignment. Of course I did: "How To Organize and Personalize Your Home Office." ...go figure.

The comment was in reference to what to keep when even attempting to begin the "throwing out" process. Taxes and important "life" docs you keep. Refer to my "Tax Time Sale" post for more details on longevity. You can also choose what you want to keep. The real issue with paper is not necessarily "what" to keep but "HOW" to organize it.

Enjoy my college assignment excerpt and hopefully there are some useful tips with it. Otherwise, just ask! I'll try to answer your questions the best I can!

Clean up and clean out is probably the most time consuming part of the organizing and personalizing process. Getting rid of old junk, paper, and habits can be difficult, but the final result will make-up for any anxiety. Keep what you must. If you think you can find a functional way to store it, then hold on to it for a little longer.

When you begin, you may be experiencing old piles of papers or a non functioning existing filing system. Also, there may be personal papers scattered in different areas of your home that need to be centralized. When you are done with step two, you will have a trash pile or bin. Also, you will have other separated piles or bins of relevant subjects topics to your life that will be placed in an even more organized fashion in the remaining procedures.

1. Obtain organizing bins, boxes, or even bags.
2. Categorize and label each bin to file your organizational needs.
Examples) trash, magazines, bills, home records, vehicle records.
3. Trash unnecessary items.

Note: You will sort through each bin again when you begin filing.

Procedure Three:
Decide What To File

Deciding what to file can be basic or very personal. It is all up to you ultimately. Have definite subjects that make your future organization simple and easily manageable.
When you begin, you will see various pre-sorted piles or bins. When you are done with this procedure, you will have more defined subjects that will make future organization easy and manageable.

1. Decide what needs to be filed at home.
a) Banking records, credit card records, home records, vehicle records,
medical records, life insurance, utilities, guarantees and warranties,
taxes, will.
2. Decide what needs to be filed in a safe deposit box or safe.
a) Passports, birth or death certificates, will, marriage license, divorce
decree, military records, house deed and title, saving bonds, stock
certificates, list of valuables, rainy day cash.

Rule: Keep billing and tax records for approximately four (4) to seven (7) years. There may be a time when you will need to provide proof of income for a few years, for example, when trying to purchase a new home.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pottery Barn Featured Item(s): The Daily System

I love this item(s) from Pottery Barn. It is called "The Daily System" and it is just that...and more. This system can be purchased in parts to fit your "daily" needs. How fun is that?!! Nothing beats the combination of organizing and personalizing. And most of it is on sale!!! My favorite word associated with organizing and everything else my heart desires.

Here is the break down copied straight from the Pottery Barn site:

Top Display Rod, 12" long $10.00
Top Display Rod, 24" long $20.00
Smart Recharge Station/Whiteboard $129.00
Magnetic Chalkboard $39.00- $49.00 SPECIAL $39.00
Magnetic Whiteboard Calendar $49.00
Office Organizer $49.00
Corkboard $29.00
Letter Bin $39.00
Linen Pin Board $49.00
Magnetic Canisters, Set of 3 $19.00
Mahogany stain $29.00- $49.00 SALE $8.99- $39.99

And of Take note of the choices of finishes!

I personally love the office organizer, letter bin, linen pin board, and the magnetic whiteboard calendar. I could definately settle for the letter bin and linen pin board if I "had" to choose just two...OHHHHH, the options!

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Project Is In The Works: Throw It Out

So, I have managed to convince someone to let me in their home and organize their home office. Yeah! I am so incredibly excited. Regardless of the facts that it is my boss' wife and I offered to do it for free (as long as they buy the supplies).

What do I get? Experience for one. I also have the privilege of taking before photos and after photos. I will more than likely take "in the process" photos as well. I have been given full permission to post the photos on this blog, so real life tips will be coming your way.

And trust me! This home office is going to be work. My project owner is out of town this week, so I will start bringing in project photos next week. But, we have technically already started.

Starting the process is the most difficult part. Right behind in difficult status is deciding what to throw out. People's personalities are very different, so each individual handles the "getting rid of" stage very differently. Many times, this process can be very emotional. In this instance, the office owner wanted to rid of things herself. This is completely fine. I instructed her to take before photos prior to starting anything. She is going to throw away what she feels needs to be thrown away.

Next week, I am going to go in and work WITH her, to organize the space to fit their household needs.

So, if you want to start a project, start with throwing away what you believe needs to be thrown away. Be honest with YOURSELF! Do you really "need" it? Regardless, we will go back through what you kept, and we will decide what should really be kept.

Remember, if you don't need it, someone else might. Consider donation, recycling, or a garage sale.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Organizing Heaven

Yesterday, I was in organizing heaven. Not only did my monkey of a significant other suggest we head to the local Lowes, he actually walked around the "organizing isle" with me as I salivated over shelves, baskets, closet ideas and anything else we came across. It was prime guffing time for him. (Guffing: the term Clint and I use in reference to "making fun" or giving someone "crap" or hassling.)

Poor guy, all he wanted was super glue and he ended up having to walk through my world of organization heaven.

Currently, my tiny and cabinet lacking kitchen is weighing on my mind. I am planning my kitchen over-haul with some of the following key items that I will purchase soon to make my life a little easier...and you should too!

Rev-A-Shelf Bakeware Organizer $14.47

Basics Chrome Double Basket Organizer $24.97

Real Organized 2-Tier 14" Chrome Cabinet Organizer $48.97

Real Organized 14" Hanging Sliding Basket $16.97

Real Organized 11" White Single Slide Cabinet Organizer $17.47

Real Organized 14" Chrome Under Cabinet Organizer $31.97

Real Organized White Wrap Rack $4.47

Style Selections Natural Canvas Foldable Drawer $4.88
(OK. Not a kitchen item, but cheap. I can definately find a place to use this and if it is not in use, it can be folded and stowed away.)

So, even in my organizing ventures, I try my best to be frugal. If you did not notice, all the above mentioned items are under $50 and only two are over $25. Sooooo, I had to add my ultimate item that is way cool and a bit pricey. But, if you are like me and hate having to deal with all your pots-and-pans lids, this little gadget would be very helpful. I know in the photo it shows plates, but the lids would fit very nicely. I want it!

ProCuisine 14-1/2" In-Cabinet 2-Tray Pullout $82.97

So, just a few items that can help make a kitchen a little less crazy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tax Time Sale!

Grumble,'s about that time to think about getting those taxes done. I guess if you are a procrastinator, you are grumbling over just thinking about getting them started because you didn't think ahead last year. Right now, squirrel-ling around in your head is all the wondering of where you put all your important docs...if there are additional docs needed other than your W-2(s).

When it comes to taxes, if you don't have an organized system in place to make your already existing tax woes a little bit less woefull, listen up.

A rule of thumb I always follow is to keep tax docs and associated papers together for a duration between 4-7 years. I say 4-7 years because everyone's financial situation is a little different and the IRS has three years to audit a tax return if it feels there are "good faith errors." Four years is fairly standard and the IRS website suggests holding onto your employment tax records for four years. So, rather than trying to learn all the differnt reasons why you should hold on to this and that, find an organized system for you to file these away for around 4-7 years. As for me, I hold on to them for seven years, just to be on the safe side.

**Also, if you find a mistake and need to file an amended return, you have three years from the original filing date.

So, how are you going to keep this all in order? Organized storage that's how! The Container Store is having a "Tax Time Sale" as I am sure many other office supply stores are having a similar sale as well.

Store away your past returns in a sturdy and water proof file box. This tote box from the Contianer Store would definately suffice.
The box holds hanging file folders (that you can label with your handy dandy label maker) and they are stackable. So, if 4-7 years does not fit in one tote, get another and stack them...obviously with appropriate labeling. Another option, if you prefer the style over long term practicality, is the modular system.

I would suggest using the modular system for shorter term filing.

NOW, let talk about preparation for next years taxes. It is the beginning of 2008, so start thinking ahead for your taxes to be prepared more smoothly in 2009. Designate a file box or some kind of folder for anything that could possibly be used in your next year filing. This could be the modular system mentioned above, an accordian file, a desktop file, or just a simple folder. Find what works for you AND label it! Place it somewhere you know you will have easy access. So, when you make a donation, buy a hybrid car, make an Energy Star appliance purchase for your home, and/or purchase more books for school, immediatly place these reciepts (or even a self written reminder)in your designated and well labeled "2008 Taxes."

Filing and Storage can be fun! Find what style works for you and then pick a color! Your organization system can easily become a part of your home.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oh, Peter.

Yes. I admit it. I have a huge crush on Peter Walsh. He makes my organizing heart go pitter pat. Doesn't help that he has a delicious Aussie Accent...I am so weak. Too bad I am soooo not his type.

But, seriously, Peter Walsh is an organizing genious. I first fell in love with him on the television show, "Clean Sweep" on the TLC channel, and we have continued our affair every Saturday morning around 9:00 am. He is lovely. My first thought of him was, "I'm not the only freak out in the world that thinks organizing is THAT important." Thank goodness.

Mr. Peter has since written a few books and (although I hate to admit it)I have still yet to purchase one. BUT, it is on my very well organized list of "THINGS TO DO"...before I go nuts. Peter is not only magnificent at the art of organizing other people's things, but he is amazing when it comes to the Psycholoy of organizing. He does not just go into someone's clutter camp and spin around a few time and then, voila!!!!...newly organized functional space. No, No, NO, mi cherie. He makes your butt help yourself. You will probably cry too. But it's okay.

The Psychology behind getting you to help de-clutter your space is so that you will avoid not doing it again. Brilliant. If you do get yourself into another pack rat bind, you will at least be knowledgable of a few steps to get yourself started in the cleaning out process again.

Peter's recent book, just released in January 2008, is "Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?: An Easy Plan for Losing Weight and Living More." The book and Peter have also been featured on Oprah. Oprah loves him too because she is a very smart woman. His other books are: "It's All TOO Much" and "How To Organize Just About Everything."

To me, the books look "fun." Hence, why I am an organizing freak. More importantly, the books are helpful. Peter covers so much information that there is definatly something that will apply to you.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Label Crazy

Yes, go crazy! Label anything you feel necessary.

Labeling is a great way to keep your mind and "stuff" organized. And it may not be just for you. If you have children and/or a monkey of a significant other, getting these much loved people in your life to place things back exactly where they got them is a huge chore in itself. Do you really have that much time to back through and put all the items other people missplaced back where you want it? And do you even remember where absolutely everything goes?? (If you do, then can I hire you to be my organizing police?)

Most un-naturally organized people truly appreciate when someone comes through and builds a functional system for them. If you are like me, you have a place in the kitchen cabinet for spices, soups, boxed foods, snacks, and so on and so on. I don't think I will dare to share all my OCD issues at this time. In the home office or in just a small accordian file, however you decide to file your papers, you will obviously need to know what papers go in what slot.

LABEL IT!!!! For easy retrieval and then easy putting away for later easy you see a pattern???

Luckily for you, label makers are incredibly easy to obtain. You can purchase a small label maker ranging in price from approximately $20.00 up to the $100 range. There are so many options! There are hand helds (my personal preference), desktops, all kinds of varying sizes, and even super duty! But you don't need anything huge. Head to your local Wal-mart or office store like Staples or Office Max and you will find one to fit your labeling needs. You may even find different colors.

If you don't want to leave your home because you are hermit, then check out sites like or even or They will ship it right into your grubby little hands.

Heck, you may even be able to trick your children and/or monkey of a significant other into believing its a game and get them to help you.

P.S. Don't forget to label an extra special spot for your lovely label maker!