Wednesday, July 31, 2013

File Creation, Day 3 of 4

Right about now you're wondering if something is wrong with me.  "Regina promised information about creating a great file system and yet she posted 3 photos of entry ways. Does she realize what she has done?"  Yes, I do. You see a great file system starts the minute you enter your home with mail in your hot little hands. While I want you to get to your home office or work area as quickly as possible to deposit and deal with your mail, I realize that most of you dump it wherever you can.  And very often it's here in the entry or worse on the kitchen counter. Let's designate one spot rather than be in free fall.

In the photos above there are ideas to help organize your home from the moment you step foot inside.  How would you pick the right ones for you?  Ask yourself some questions.  Here are a few to get you focused and on the right road:
  • How many people enter here during the course of the day?  If it's multiple might any one of them get the mail or have you taken that task as your own?  No matter who gets the mail, it must go to one repository.  That way the person who is going to deal with it has only one place to look for it: time and energy instantly saved and aggravation avoided.
  • What type of tools appeal to you?  Do you like a paper catcher on the wall, a pretty basket, a drawer or a flat surface? 
  • Will your entry hold a complicated set-up or do you need to keep it simple?
  • Is this the formal entry for the home and therefore in need of a stylish solution or are we talking mud room and family only?
  • Do family members hang up their coats here?  Is there a real closet or do you need a clothes tree or free standing unit? I've seen mail hidden under tossed coats. 
  • Will you need a place to sit or is this just a quick passage way? (In cold climates you might want to be able to sit so you can remove boots.  In a temperate climate a seat might never be used.)
Questions like these will help you make wise decisions.

Before you get to your designated work area try and ditch the junk mail, the flyers for sales that don't interest you and the catalogues you know you don't need.  It's not a bad idea to have a trash can and a cross cut shredder here so you can shred the items you don't need that may have personal information like a credit card offer.  If there's no way to incorporate those items here be sure you have them in your work area.

A calm, well organized entry invites peace into the rest of the house.  You set the tone for order or chaos and it will carry over to everything you do including those pesky files. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

File Creation, Day 2 of 4

This image is from the new Container Store newsletter.  What many people don't realize is that you need to have your papers filed in a way that you enjoy.  It seems elementary and yet time and again I work with clients who don't use their files because they followed instructions for a system that didn't appeal to them.  Or worse they have a 'mish-mash' of several different systems! It's like buying clothing you don't like and wondering why you don't wear any of it or getting a car that doesn't suit you and not understanding why you never want to go anywhere.

The larger boxes above are great for 'Action' files especially if you ever need to transport them to a different location.  For my purposes 'Action' means: To Do, To File, To Read, Pending and the like. But you might use one of those boxes to hold files for a single project like a remodel or a project at work.

The flat boxes are called Project Boxes and work well for those who don't relate to hanging files.  It's a costly choice but if it gets you motivated use it for the top projects and bite the bullet and create a file system as well.  Who said you can't mix'n'match?

The open shelves are great to keep paper handy that you have to grab all the time.  Copy paper for the 'good' copies, recycled paper for the scratch copies, colors if you do drafts etc.

I especially love the color choices in the products shown above.  You can make work more inviting if the physical tools you choose express who you are and invite you to use them. Getting organized is a very creative process. Contrary to popular belief a creative person is a great candidate for this task because there are myriad ways to express yourself.

Monday, July 29, 2013

File Creation Tips

Realistically a great file system requires a bit of dedication to create.  It's time consuming but it's also very creative.   Ultimately it saves you time, money and energy.  After we create such a system (details abound in all of my One Year to ... books) the common belief is that your files can stay frozen in time forever serving your needs.  But your needs change and so should your files.  All this week I'm going to give you tips and tricks to help lighten the paper load.  

Today's tip is about all those Instruction Manuals and Warranties you've collected over time.  The best thing to do is divide them by category (Kitchen Appliances, Entertainment, Garden, Bathrooms, Computer etc.) and file them together in a file drawer. I use box bottom hanging file folders for any category that's big and will hold several file folders of information.  I don't buy larger than 2" wide because wider than that the paper weight will cause the file to tear away from the hook.)  

Over time new TV's, computers, phones and mixers come into our lives.  And we rarely remember to toss the material for the items we gave away to a friend, donated to a charity or tossed in the recycle bin.  Take a few minutes today to weed out your stack of warranty related papers.  You'll feel good about your accomplishment and it won't take very long at all.  If you have everything filed you'll be gaining space.  If you need to create the files the material will be streamlined and categorized ready for you to schedule 'file creation' on your calendar.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Blood Sugar Rescue on Organizing Day!

I try and eat small mini meals every 3 to 4 hours.  I've been eating like this for years and it works well for me.  Because my days organizing clients can be long and stressful I need food choices I can grab and eat in about five minutes.  We humans are all comforted by breads, aren't we?  I would suggest a whole grain choice rather than a white flour no nutrition selection but you can always rescue the bread with a great spread.  Today I am sharing a recipe from The Gentle Barn a farm animal rescue in Santa Clarita, California just North of Los Angeles.  I just adore everyone there and deeply respect the work they do.  You may have seen them on The Ellen Show. Please check out their work and perhaps make a donation to the cause?  Feeding and caring for over 100 animals is an expensive operation.  Having been there many times I assure you they are legitimate and as great as the hype.  If you live in the L.A. area you might want to spend Thanksgiving there with me! You have a lovely vegan meal and the guest of honor is a live turkey.  How could it get better than that? By the way don't get scared when you see tofu is one of the ingredients in this recipe.  If you aren't familiar with it you may think it's strange, tasteless or difficult to work with.  The reality is that tofu is a great source of protein and it takes on the flavors you introduce. You'll learn to play with it over time and use it to make everything from main dishes and salad dressings to dessert.  THE best tofu cookbook I've ever found is Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler. You can find it at Amazon.

Sun-dried Tomato Spread
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 package firm tofu
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1. Cover tomatoes in boiling water and allow to soften and re-hydrate for 5 to 10 minutes; drain and squeeze out any excess water.
2. Place tomatoes in a food processor with garlic and process until well chopped and a paste begins to form.
3. Add tofu, basil, salt and pepper and process until smooth.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pooch Protectors

Yes, it's true: we all have to buckle up when we ride in a car.  But many of us forget that it's equally important for Fido to be secure in the vehicle. One of my closest friends was in a horrific automobile accident and her small dog was hurled into the dashboard.  She survived but it took months to restore her to normal.  Your dog doesn't belong in your lap, hanging out the window or in the back of a pick up truck. Pictured above is one of many ways to secure your best friend.  You can go to Pet smart, Petco, Amazon or your local retailer for ideas.  I'm asking you in the name of my new best friend Charlie whose sweet face graces this post.

What's under your bed?!

If you follow Feng Shui the ancient 'art of placement' from China you know that nothing should be stored under a bed.  You want the energy to flow freely.  Items under your bed might disturb your sleep.  But what if you live in a tiny space and have no choice?  What will you put under the bed? I had a client once whose mother had mental health issues.  She wrote her daughter disturbing, angry letters ... and her daughter tucked them in a 'memorabilia box' and kept it under the bed in the master bedroom that she shared with her husband.  This is the type of item we wish to avoid. 

In the photo above you'll see an under the bed shoe organizer.  If you have a collection of summer sandals you could keep them here until the warm months are upon us or you go on vacation. There are beds with built in drawers and those are great for storing off season clothing items.  In the summer for example it's hard to imagine wearing cashmere sweaters, isn't it?  They'd be perfect tucked peacefully under the bed.  You wouldn't want to keep items there that you had to access every day.  Who wants to bend down just to get fresh underwear? If you do have to tuck items there that will be accessed on a daily basis get an under the bed container on wheels and save your back.

If you have to use that space under the bed be wise about what you keep stashed away! And if at all possible store stuff under a guest bed rather than the one you sleep in every night. Whatever you decide make it a conscious choice with an eye to all the ramifications.  It never works well when we shove things away with no rhyme or reason. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Strengthen that Core!

This blog post is a first for me.  I'm not sharing a product I know.  I'm sharing one I want to try!  If you have one, I want to hear your comments. I plan to get one when I move.

This is an ergonomically correct 'chair' from The Container Store.  I'm forever trying new chairs in quest of the perfect one.  I write for several hours most days and comfort is a priority.  Here's what The Container Store has to say about this hilarious, colorful and utterly charming product:

Improve your balance, promote better posture and strengthen your core by sitting on our ergoErgo Seat! Because it has no backrest and compresses when you sit, it allows for healthy continuous small movements that engage your core and back muscles, building strength, keeping your spine supple, improving circulation and deepening breathing. Studies have shown that this "dynamic" seating can even enhance concentration. It's the perfect height for using with a standard desk, and works for people from 5' to 6'4" tall.
  • Made from durable plastic
  • Holds up to 250 pounds
  • Designed to strengthen back and core muscles
  • Can be used with a standard desk
  • Made in the USA
I made the third bullet bold because a strong core is a great side benefit, isn't it?  Take some time to be certain your chair and your desk support you.  The time you spend working will be more enjoyable and productive.  There's no down side to taking care of yourself. No one wants to be stooped over in his twilight years. Strong core muscles are part of your insurance against slouching at your desk ~ and later in life.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Organizing Creativity Unleashed!

I unpacked a client recently who had done something unique before I arrived.  She had hung a mesh over the door shoe bag like the one I have here on the inside and on the outside of her master bedroom closet door. I was all for shoes being hung on the inside of the closet but I suggested she might not want to go to bed at night staring at shoes.  My client smiled and told me she was an artist and intended to use the pockets for art supplies.  At night the visual of her supplies would inspire her to be creative the next morning. This wasn't a solution I would adapt for anyone else but it pointed out how we can think outside the box and allow organizing tools to inspire us.

Have you got any creative solutions you'd be willing to share?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Get Shorty ... A Step Stool!

I'm 5' 9" tall and it's pretty easy for me to reach tall cupboards and shelves.  It seems like the vast majority of my clients are height challenged and swear to me that the upper shelves in every room are off limits. It's a crime in my Zen Organizing Bible to waste space because you can't reach it in flats or heels when you can easily hide a step stool just about anywhere.  I've got my three favorites pictured here.

The wooden step stool is for those who need to grab hold of something when they get to the top step.  

The colorful stool is great in children's bathrooms or the pantry.   

The one on top is my personal favorite and yes it's in my home.  Even tall people sometimes need a boost!

You don't have to store items you need and use frequently on the top shelves.  I don't expect you to haul out the step stool every few minutes.  But off season clothing, back up light bulbs or paper products and grandma's china might reside nicely in an out of the way space waiting for that periodic use.  Take advantage of every inch of storage and space you have.  These stools are easy to store, fun, affordable and lightweight.  What are you waiting for?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Comfort Food Reward Post Organizing

I was a bit overwhelmed this weekend with personal responsibilities and didn't get out my Saturday recipe.  I felt I had to share this one because I'm in the mood for (healthy) comfort food myself!  This is from the wonderful folks at Forks over Knives. If you haven't seen the documentary or read the book give yourself the gift of a new perspective.  And while you're waiting  ~

Velvety Macaroni
Serves 2
• 1 butternut squash
• 2 medium broccoli heads
• 2½ cups dry brown rice pasta
• 4 garlic cloves
• ½ cup almond, coconut or flax seed milk
• 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
• sea salt
• 1 tablespoon garlic powder
• parsley flakes
• pepper
Bake the butternut squash whole and unpeeled in the oven on 350ºF for exactly 30 minutes. Over-baking may cause problems with the preparation later.
Separate the broccoli into small florets and cut the broccoli stems into small pieces.
Boil the pasta as instructed on the package while being careful not to overcook it.
The squash should be ready by now and will peel easily after baking. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into smaller pieces and steam it covered with the 4 garlic cloves for 10 minutes.
In a separate pot add the broccoli stem pieces with a bit of water and steam it covered for five minutes. After five minutes, add the broccoli florets and continue steaming covered for 3-4 minutes. Drain the water from the broccoli.
Drain the water from the butternut squash and remove it from the flame. Add the plant-based milk of choice, nutritional yeast, sea salt and garlic powder* to the pot and blend it well with an immersion blender (or in a regular blender) until it is smooth and creamy. Once smooth, add the parsley flakes and pepper to the creamy butternut and mix it with a spoon.
Bring the creamy sauce to a very gentle low boil and add the pasta and broccoli while mixing very gently with a wooden spoon.
*You may want to use less garlic powder than what is listed since I prefer this dish pungent with garlic.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Towels Tossed on the Bathroom Floor?

The most common bathroom complaint I hear is about family members tossing towels on the floor. When I look around I see that the issue is a lack of hooks and bars.  What's a family member to do? It really gets thorny if you're renting and don't want to install anything because 'it will put holes in the wall.' Today's solution is an over the door towel rack.  Instantly you'll expand the possibilities in your bathroom no matter the size or how many people use it.

Temporary hooks used to take the paint off the wall if you changed your mind about their position.  But now Command has a line of hooks that can be removed without destroying the paint and they are moisture resistant which is so important in the bathroom. I love the description: 'Holds strongly and removes cleanly!' What more could a family ask for? At you can download coupons and don't forget your Bed Bath and Beyond coupons.

If there's space in your bathroom be sure you have a hamper so that family members have a third option.  If someone wants to use a towel once time he or she can just toss the towel into the hamper.  If you keep a canvas bag inside the hamper it will be easy to transport when full.  And of course all family members who wish to use a towel one time should be taught the fine art of doing the laundry.  

In The 8-Minute Organizer I have suggestions for ways to keep the bathroom tidy.  Ritualize the way you leave a room and you won't run into big messes later in the day or week.  Hanging up the towel you just used is always going to be a part of any bathroom exit ritual.  It's part of completion: finish what you start.  Do it with mindless things like hanging a towel and completion will become a part of you and how you function in life and space.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tough Toys for Tough Chewers & Natural Remedies

My female Golden Retriever loved to destroy her toys.  She would have chewed the walls, woodwork and furniture except she had perfect manners.  After Katie passed I discovered that there is a line of toys that are virtually indestructible.  They are made for the bully breeds like pit bulls but any dog who loves chewing can enjoy them.  I found this Kong ball at Dog Park Publishing.  They are a wonderful group and I hope you'll visit their site and see all of their products. 

A publication I love is Dogs Naturally Magazine. I use homeopathic remedies for myself so why not on my dog?  Here's a guide from these good folks so you can stock up on basic remedies. Remember that drugs may be a toll on your dog's immune system and very often they have side effects.  Try the natural way and keep your immune system and your beloved pooch's in tip top shape!


You may want to go out and purchase these commonly used remedies to have on hand in case the need arises. They are small and make a great travel kit too.
  • Apis mellifica - great for bee and other insect bites. Give every 20 minutes for a few doses after a bee sting.
  • Arnica - good for general pain, stiffness due to overexertion, soreness and musculoskeletal injuries.
  • Arsenicum album - great for GI upsets from eating spoiled food where there is both vomiting and diarrhea. Give twice an hour for a few hours.
  • Borax (the remedy, not the powder) – excellent for fear of thunderstorms and fireworks. Give this at the 6c potency twice a day for a month during the season.
  • Calendula (can be used both as an oral remedy and as an external ointment) – use for skin infections or any kind of external infection. It’s a remarkable healing agent and a tube of the ointment should always be on hand to apply topically to scrapes, infections and wounds. You can also buy a tincture and dilute it 1/10 and flush any cuts or wounds with it.
  • Hepar sulphur - is wonderful to treat painful abscesses anywhere on the body and painful infected anal glands.
  • Hypericum - is an excellent remedy to give for any pain due to nerve damage or injuries to nerve-rich areas. I once closed my finger in a window and learned firsthand the wonders of Hypericum. Great for when you cut your dog’s toenails too short.
  • Myristica - phenomenal remedy for anal sac infections and chronic anal sac problems.
  • Rhus tox - for arthritis that’s better after moving around, general musculoskeletal injuries, red swollen eyes, skin infections and skin itching.
  • Ruta - fantastic for any injury to tendons or ligaments and this remedy has a real affinity for the knee so you would use it immediately after any knee or cruciate injury.
  • Silicea - pushes foreign bodies like splinters or foxtails out of the skin.
  • Ledum – the first choice for any type of puncture wound, including those from insect bites. Insect bites that require Apis will be hot and red whereas bites that requireLedum will be cool and appears bruised.
With a small investment and a little planning, you can build your own Homeopathic kit. These remedies aren’t that difficult to use and can give your dog fast and effective relief from many common injuries and illnesses.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to store belts that can't be hung from a hook!

Just about every closet I organize for a woman has a collection of belts that can't be hung on a hook. Most are made of metal but there are many variations that make my clients scratch their heads and ask: "How do I store this, Regina?" My favorite solution is a lined basket.  The belts are protected and later you can repurpose the basket if your belt collection gets eliminated and you have other items to store. There are many sizes and shapes of lined baskets and one of my favorites is pictured here in two different size options to serve your needs. It's also nice to note that these liners can we tossed into the wash and stay fresh and clean.

Organizing Creativity

Every so often my clients will use an organizing product in such a unique way I  am overwhelmed by their creativity.   I let them know that their solution is one I will now share with everyone I organize. The above product is designed to hold sweaters in a closet when you don't have shelf or drawer space for them.  I rarely use one of these because it's only helpful if the closet is a walk-in and has lots of space. Imagine my surprise when I walked into a client's home office to see one of these hanging in the closet holding office supplies.  How clever is that?!

No matter how you use one of these be sure there's a rhyme and a reason to how you store items.  Sweaters for example would be stacked in color order so you could find the one you need in a flash.  With 6 shelves you could also separate the sweaters by type and save even more time! When you need a long sleeve button down vs a short sleeve pullover, you know just where to look.  If you use one of these for office supplies follow the category principles and keep related items on each shelf.  For example when I have to attach items it's nice to know my stapler, staples, paper clips and various kinds of tape live together in one area.  Create categories every chance you get because they give you automatic inventory control, save time and make you efficient. How great is that?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Silver Polishing, Anyone?

I have lots of clients with beautiful silver collections.  Frequently these pieces are family heirlooms. Every time a big party looms and I'm called to tune up the house I hear a lament about the silver.  It's beautiful but tarnished.  Polishing silver is a great job for older kids who'd like to earn some extra money.  But lacking a pre-teen in your household or a staff of servants, the task is likely to fall on your shoulders.  The above holder is a great way to keep your silver ever ready to dazzle.  You can even find large containers designed to hold a full service for 12.  You can also find covers for the large serving pieces.  You might have to noodle around the internet and check out sites like The Container Store or even E Bay but in the end it will be worth it.  Taking care of a task like this on a warm summer afternoon reaps huge dividends when Fall comes and the mad dash for the holidays starts.  Plan on feeling a bit smug about your organizing skills! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Preserve the shape of your boots!

Every professional organizer will have tasks she loves to perform and items she's crazy about.  I happen to love boots and it makes me sad to see them tossed onto the floor of a closet like trash.  It doesn't have to cost a fortune to store them with respect and preserve their shape.  I've chosen two styles for you to choose from: a relatively inexpensive plastic model for short or tall boots and some cedar shapers that are top of the line.  Cedar of course repels closet pests so you're doing double duty. You have to have a walk-in closet with a lot of space to hang your boots but I've seen it done.

Now let's say you're on board with the idea but you just don't have the bucks. Go to a big box store like Costco and buy tissue paper. Don't want to spend that money?  Save tissue paper from every gift and purchase you make.  Over time you'll have a nice stash.  Stuff your boots with tissue paper.  It's a bit more of a pain if you wear several pairs of boots over the course of a week but in the end you'll have your boots for a longer period of time than if you just toss them onto the floor of the closet like orphans.  Why not make a little effort for a purchase that's usually well over $100?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Easy Dinner Recipe for Organizing Day!

After a busy day of organizing you'll want something hearty to sink your teeth into, But you'll also want something easy to whip up and tasty.  And let's not forget the family members you may be creating dinner for! What's a budding Zen Organizer to do?  Please don't utter the words 'fast food.'  It's full of empty calories, tons of salt and fat.  I want you to be nourished not filled up with crap.

There's a big movement right now to promote fermented foods.  Enter tempeh!  It's fermented soy beans and a relative of tofu.  Not all such products are created equal!  Get the plain kind not something pre-packaged with a ton of sauce, calories, salt and additives.  I very often saute some tempe in a pan with butter and toss it into brown rice pasta and sauce for a quick hearty meal.  (I'm on a gluten free diet due to a sensitivity). It's my version of pasta and meat balls!

This yummy recipe comes from the good folks at Vegetarian News Magazine.  A million years ago before I ever did my first book they let me write a few articles for them and gained my loyalty. I hope you enjoy tempeh and consider it for meatless Mondays. Vegetarians don't subsist on salads, fruit and peanut butter!

Serves 6
What You Need:
For the Garlic & Herb Marinade:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sandwiches:
1/2 cup Garlic & Herb Marinade
1/4 cup tamari
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 8-ounce packages tempeh
1 green pepper, cut into quarters lengthwise
1 red pepper, cut into quarters lengthwise
1 orange or yellow pepper, cut into quarters lengthwise
2 red onions, cut into 1/2-inch slices
6 whole grain buns or rolls, split
Mustard, vegan mayonnaise, or other condiments, for serving
leftDottedLine 3
What You Do:
1. For the Garlic & Herb Marinade, in a small bowl, place all ingredients and whisk well to combine. Add tamari, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, rosemary, thyme, fennel, and pepper flakes. Whisk again to combine and set aside.

2. Cut tempeh into 4-ounce portions, yielding 6 pieces. Place tempeh pieces in a large casserole dish. Place peppers and onion in a separate casserole dish. Drizzle 1/3 of the marinade over tempeh and 1/3 of marinade over vegetables. Place both casserole dishes in refrigerator and leave to marinate for several hours.

3. On a heated grill, place tempeh and vegetables and brush with remaining marinade. Grill tempeh until well-browned, about 5 to 7 minutes per side, and vegetables until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until grill marks appear. Using metal tongs or a spatula, transfer cooked tempeh and vegetables to a large platter for service. If desired, grill buns for 1 to 2 minutes. Assemble each sandwich with one portion of tempeh, a few slices of grilled peppers and onions, and desired condiments. 

Chef's Tip: Use the Garlic & Herb Marinade to marinate vegetables, tofu, or faux meat; as a basting sauce during grilling; or as a base for other sauces and dressings. It will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Belly Up to the Portable Water Bowl!

When I had my first Golden Retriever portable water bowls weren't all the rage.  At first I carried a water bottle and a small bowl in a backpack but that proved a cumbersome solution.  Katie was an athlete who walked 3 miles a day and wanted more! I developed a rather clever way of keeping her hydrated.  I'd take out a large plastic bag and fill it with water from a neighbor's water hose.  It was down home rather than stylish but it did the trick.  Today the marketplace is flooded with choices.  I hope you have something for your pooch especially during the long hot summer month. I found the solution shown above at Amazon.

Remember too that hot pavement can burn delicate paw pads.  Take your exercise breaks in the cooler early morning hours or in the evening.  It seems self evident and unnecessary to say but in my neighborhood when the temperature hovers close to 100 degrees I very often see people riding bikes with their dog running beside them in the middle of the day! Your dog adores you and wants to please.  Return the favor.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Avoid Negative People

It’s a proven fact: You become like the people you spend time with. So pick and choose very carefully who you have around you. Their effect can be either positive or negative. Choose the positive people to spend time with. Life is too short to spend it around negative, small thinkers who are dangerous to your dreams.

Many years ago I was helping an executive get her work space and files organized.  She shared her office with one other person who was organized.  The company policy dictated that office doors had to be open at all times.  Throughout the day there was a parade of people making negative comments. "You're getting organized? Seriously?  Why bother?"  "Oh I see what you're doing, Regina, just moving things around the room." "Hey, Regina, come back in two weeks and it will all be just the way it was when you started!" There was in fact an office pool as to how many days the new order would last.  
It was early in my career and I had no clue this scenario would repeat often.  It happened in homes as often as it did in offices.  At home the comments were in fact more open and cruel.  We're so free with our words in intimate situations, aren't we?  If you have negative people in your life and you can't avoid them because they sign your pay check or you are married to them, here's my organizing advice.  Don't talk about how you are going to change your ways or get the environment in shape.  Just do it.  And then keep it going.  No one can argue with visible results.  They can only trample dreams.

The image above is an iconic one in Eastern philosophy.  The lotus flower can bloom in the filthiest water.  It's beauty and grace rise above the muck.  The metaphor is that no matter where you are you too can blossom and thrive. Remember the lotus when you doubt your organizing efforts because of the critics in your life or the ones that live in your head. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Need extra space? Help is at Hand!

There are any number of reasons you might find yourself lacking closet space or in fact lack a closet. There are homes around the country that were built at a time when people never dreamed of anyone having or needing as many clothing items as most of us have today.  Sometimes we can repurpose a room into a bedroom but realize a bit late in the game it lacks a dedicated closet space.  What's an organized person to do?

A beautiful solution of course is an exquisite armoire.  These can add a touch of elegance to any room as well as provide hanging space and storage.  They work really well in a room without any closet space.  You can also call a professional closet design company to have the existing closets tricked out no matter how minimal they are. If you're a do it yourself kind of person you can take the measurements of your closet to a free service like the one at The Container Store.  They can space plan and offer you the system and tools you need to maximize the space.   

Sometimes we need a down and dirty solution that's quick, economical and utilitarian. Voila! The second photo on this page presents a great choice for the right situation.  You might even pop one of these in the garage if that's where you store out of season clothing.  That's not my favorite solution for off season storage but I understand sometimes you have no choice.  At least with something like this the items are protected from dust and dirt. All of these solutions allow us to get clothing items out of boxes, off the floor or a chair and onto a hangar where they can be found, treasured and used.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Magic Formula: How to Organize Every Project with Ease

The first three years I worked with clients I was sleepless the night before I met with someone new.'What if they ask me to do something I have no clue how to organize?' I fretted.  I lost sleep.  I prayed.  And I breathed a sigh of relief each time I was shown a project and knew exactly what to do. One day I realized that all projects followed the same three steps.  What changed were the types of items I had to organize.  The steps were guaranteed to bring success so I called them The Magic Formula.  What are they?  Eliminate.  Categorize.  Organize. I write about the process extensively in all the books in my One Year to ... series.

I haven't posted in a few days and I wanted to share why.  I had to unpack two families in their homes in two weeks.  While this is my favorite task it's difficult to do two homes without a break.  I had to eliminate some things from my regular schedule and blogging was one of the items.  Yes, it's true.  You can use The Magic Formula to organize your literal life not just the physical projects that will bring order to your physical spaces.

I'm back on track and hope you'll stick with me!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Are your folded clothes a visual delight or fright?!

One of the scariest sights in any disorganized closet are the stacks of clothes that look like they are rejects from sale day at the local dollar store.  You can't find anything and when you do it's too wrinkled to wear.  What's a budding Zen Organizer to do?  The gizmo you see here is called a Flip Fold Laundry Folder. Using something like this handy and inexpensive tool gives you an opportunity to create visual peace, balance and calm in your world.  And guess what?  With a bit of practice you can whip out perfectly folded items without it. I get mine for clients at The Container Store.

No time to fold?  Steal some time from Social Media, texting, reading novels or chatting with your best friend to give yourself a gift that will calm you, save money and time, preserve your clothing and build your self-esteem.  And if you want to bump it up a notch keep your stacks of shirts, tees and other items in the same color order. When you take the time to do positive things for yourself you automatically replenish your inner reserves and that in turn gives you more energy to give to those who need you most.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Teach your child to be organized

Here are three different containers that would work well in a child's room to help him or her learn how to be organized. And that means having the toy you wish to play with at your finger tips.  The key here is color.  Even a child you hasn't learned to read yet can understand that Barbies or GI Joes go in the red drawer or that loose puzzle pieces go into the orange drawer.  

Categories are a powerful tool in getting and staying organized.  Here the lesson is taught without making a big speech about how powerful, helpful and convenient they are.  Containers like these are sturdy and yet you won't invest a fortune. Later they can be used in the family room to house media or in the garage to keep household items handy like batteries and picture hooks.

A word to the wise: a child's first organizing lesson may be about categories but the second is equally important.  After you finish with a toy it must be returned to the designated container.  This fosters a desire for 'completion.'  In other words everything you start has a formal end.  It's a wonderful lesson to learn early in life and will remove a great deal of struggle.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fido's Fresh Food

If I had a dollar for every time it happens I'd be a rich woman.  I enter a new client's home and meet a wonderful dog.  As I organize the kitchen I ask where Fido's food is kept.  I'm directed to the garage and find a huge bag of kibble sitting open with the top folded down.  It's a gourmet meal for critters of all types who might find their way into the garage.  The above containers will keep your kibble fresh and safe.  You can store them under a counter and just pull them out at meal time.  I get them for clients at The Container Store. I'm not a fan of kibble but if you're going that route at least keep it safe and fresh.

Good quality organizing tools can be used around the home in ways that are beyond their original purpose. For example a shelf creator is designed to make canned human food accessible on a cabinet shelf.  I like to dedicate one for canned dog and cat food. They're family members too, right? You can see what you have and grab it quickly.  Moving cans around on a shelf in order to find what's hidden in the back is a waste of time and energy.  Gain a minute here and one there and they'll add up by day's end. What will you do with that precious time?  A bubble bath, reading a new book or calling my best friend come to mine. 

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June 2009, in China

June 2009, in China
At the Summer Palace outside Beijing

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About Me

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I will always be grateful I grew up in Brooklyn, New York.  It was a rich atmosphere that introduced me to different races, creeds and professions.  It seemed that anything was possible if you were willing to work hard to achieve your goals.

I'm a yogi which means that my spiritual path is that of yoga principles that have been handed down for over 5000 years. Yoga is an ancient philosophy based on the Gita, the sutras of Patanjali and yes, the Bible. The postures are a key element as is meditation. We honor all paths.

I got my first dog when I was 6 years old after a full year of begging.  She was a collie and her name was Queenie.  As an adult I've had 2 golden retrievers.  A female named Miss Katie who came into my life when she was 3 months old and an ancient male golden who came to me when he was 15.  I'd like to have a Great Dane next but we'll see what the universe has in store.

I've been organizing clients for over 24 years and writing about it for over ten.