Still have lots of CDs and DVDs?

I met with a client a few weeks ago who wanted to copy her CD collection onto a medium that she could carry with her when she moves into assisted living.  This smart lady is not ready for assisted living yet, but she’s planning for it!  She had purchased a radio that played music from a usb port.

I set about teaching her how to download her music onto a 32Gb flash drive. (Did you know that storage device will hold over 4000 songs???).  We ripped/copied 3 CDs that day.  Two weeks later,  she had copied over 60 of her CDs!

So now, what about you?  What purpose do you have for your CDs? Are you even listening to them?  Depending on your use of music, perhaps there is another way or device you could use so that you can downsize some of your collection.

How about those DVDs?  Most of my clients have quite the collection and most collections are dusty. They aren’t getting watched…. Sure maybe you have a few that you want to keep for when the grandkids visit.  And you may have some all time favorites.

My favorites are The Red Violin and O Brother Where Art Thou; I am was keeping those until I remembered I can access them on Amazon videos quicker than finding the DVDs and hoping my DVD player still works! With today’s ever-changing electronic platforms and ways to see data, do you need to hold on to all of the DVDs?  There’s Netflix, Amazon Prime Movies, and Hulu to name a few….

It’s just food for thought.  Now think about your needs and how you can best tackle your CDs and DVDs.  Let me know if you have some clever ideas to share!

Taming the Paper Bill Monster

Do you have a ton of paper staring at you in your office or on your kitchen counter? Most of the time this is a big complaint.

Are some of those papers your monthly bills?

Many of us have files we’ve labeled “Telephone”, “Utilities”, “Water/Garbage”, “Cell Phone”,  “Credit Cars”… Sound familiar? We’ve set up these folders because that’s how our parents used to do it. So when we moved out of their home we did the same thing. Only, we hate to file them. Do you really need to keep those bills?


Probably not. While what I am going to say may make you feel a bit queasy or uncomfortable, I say it to help you eliminate the paper monster in your life.  No, I am not recommending that everyone go paperless, don’t worry.  I am recommending, however, that you embrace technology. Create passwords to your utilities, phone, and credit card accounts so you can access your information online at any time. Get comfortable with their websites so you begin to use this valuable resource.  You can look up past bills, see recent statements at the touch of a button. If you are reading this blog then you have access to the internet so use it and eliminate the need to keep all those paper bills.

It’s okay if you still want to get your paper statement (or you can request that they be sent to your email in box).  The point here is that you don’t need to file or keep those bills. After you pay a bill, shred it. The information is still there online anytime you need it.

So get comfortable and let go (if you haven’t already) – I double dare ya!


A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place -an Organizing Mantra

“A place for everything and everything in its place” is part of a well used quote that is usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin.

In reality, The Oxford Book of Quotations states this quote is believed to have been coined as early as the 17th century. It’s a quote that speaks to the need for order. When I ask clients what they envision their space looking like after we work together most say; “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

It so succinctly states the desired outcome of organization for my client’s homes and offices.

I speak on this topic frequently. Today I have made the PowerPoint presentation available to you. The presentation is based on the 4 Organizing Principles I teach.

  1. Purge and Sort

  2. Location

  3. Containers and Labeling

  4. Maintenance

Click here for a slide show of the 4 Organizing Principles that will help you get organized.

A Place for Everything



12 Things I’ve Realized About Decluttering

After participating in a 30 day Declutter Challenge recently, participants had this to say about what they learned:

12 Things Realized About Decluttering

1. Making your bed every day is not so much about the bed as it is about the habit.
2. Clutter is delayed decisions.
3. Take large tasks and break them down into smaller tasks that can be handled in short time periods; you don’t need to work like a Trojan in order to accomplish your decluttering goals.papierschiff-389016_640
4. You don’t have to keep as many papers (or things) as you thought you did.
5. Ask the question – “Does this item bring joy to my life?”
6. Take things step by step and don’t give up. It’s worth it in the end.
7. It takes a positive attitude to start decluttering.
8. Make a plan and commit to doing it, even if just for 15 minutes a day. You can get things done even when life is chaotic or distracting.
9. New phases in our lives require us to organize differently. Organize for where you’re at in life now.
10. Perfection is over rated! Progress is a good thing and a little each day can make a big difference.
11. You are able to help others by donating items you don’t use or need.
12. The maintenance part of decluttering is very important.
Decluttering , organizing, straightening up – or whatever you want to call it – is about so much more than things looking nice and pretty. In fact, nice and pretty weren’t used in any of the 12 statements above. Over the next 12 months, we will dig deeper into each of these statements. If you want to be motivated to make changes that will become habits in 2015, then stay tuned. There will be plenty to comment about as there will be guest bloggers weighing in on these topics too.


In the meantime, which statement already resonates with you? We’d love to have you leave a comment and tell us!

What is a Body Double?

In a recent class, I talked about using a body double to help you when organizing. Body doubling is not so much a new concept but a new “catch phrase”.  A synonym for the phrase body doubling might be providing support. It is a useful tool in helping you to stay focused on the organizing project at hand.  Watch this 5 minute video for a full explanation on body doubling.

In the video, I talk about having the right questions to ask when making a decision about what to keep or purge.

Here are those list of questions (copy them and post where you can see them and share with your body double).

  • When was the last time I used/needed this?

  • Does it add value/beauty to my life?

  • Is there something I need to do with this?

  • Does it require action on my part?

  • Do I have more than one of these?

  • Do I need more than one?

  • If I let go of this, can I get another one in the future?

  • What’s the worst thing that would happen if I did not have this?

  • Does this belong to someone else?

  • Does this need to be kept for legal or tax purposes?


How to Plan Your Travel Wardrobe

Most of us love to travel, few love to pack.  If we take the time to plan our travel wardrobe, we can travel with less.  In fact, when we carefully select how much to bring, packing is not so difficult after all.  I recently taught a class in my Declutter Your Life group that explained how to travel with less.    There is a basic formula to use in planning what to take. I call this a Packing Calculator.
packing travelThis is an easy guide to use, based on the number of days you travel.  In most cases when traveling more than one week, don’t bring more clothes; expect that you will do some laundry.  I recently discovered soap sheets that you can take when traveling to wash your clothes in a sink.  It’s a pretty handy product!

The list shown above is for the basics of a wardrobe.  Add-on items may be needed due to weather (coats, thermals, etc.) or your destination and activities (golf shoes, bathing suits, etc.)  When choosing the items of clothing, be sure to stick to one main color theme and bring in some accent colors.  If you struggle with putting together wardrobe color combinations, then I recommend going over to the Vivienne Files. This blogger can mix and match wardrobe components like no other! The link takes you to a page where she works miracles with the main color of beige (beige?!! – I know, right? Trust me, it’s amazing!).

Here’s a few more travel tips:

1.  Pack lighter, with room to spare, so you can come home a little heavier.

2. If flying, pack a flattened mailing box in the bottom of your luggage to ship things home in.

3. Bring a travel compression bag or two to fit more in your luggage. (see video below)

Getting Life in Order – Financially Speaking

A dear friend of mine lost her husband unexpectedly 3 days before Christmas.  It was devastating, of course.  After taking care of the arrangements and getting through his service, my friend was faced with the realization that she knew nothing of their lives, financially speaking.  She told me that her husband (a CPA) had always told her that she would be financially stable if something were to ever happen to him. She was relieved to know this….. BUT

Now she was in that place and realized that while those words had always been a comfort to her, she had no idea what they really meant.

She did not know the log-in and passwords to her online banking.organize finances money paper

She did not know where to find the life insurance policy.

She did not know how much liquid cash was available to her.

She did not know which accounts were being paid online and which were being paid by check.


Bottom line – You don’t know what you don’t know! Life is busy, I get it; but we must get our financial lives in order AND we must tell others how it is set up. Here are 3 things to do immediately:

  1. Make a list.  Make a list of all your bank accounts, household bills, investment accounts, life insurance policies, and anything else financially related.  Next to the name of each account, put the account number, website, agent and applicable phone numbers. Update this list every year.  I recommend you put the list in your Household Binder or in a red folder in the front of your filing cabinet.  Tell family members (especially your spouse) where it can be found in the event it is needed.

  2. Have all your passwords in one location. Please do not use the same password for all of your websites!  It’s not safe and is an all around bad idea.  You may want to make a list of your passwords and keep them in your home’s safe. I highly recommend It’s in the cloud, has bank level security, and is very easy to use. LastPass is free. It is the only password you ever need to remember because all the rest of your passwords and user ID’s are stored there.  Make your spouse, or significant other, aware of your LastPass account and how they can access it in an emergency.
  3. Have up to date Advanced Directives/Power of Attorneys in place.  Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to spell out your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time. Seek the advice of your estate attorney to set up these important documents or you can draw them up yourself and have them notarized.  I found a website that lets you download the Advance Directive forms based on the state in which you live.  You may also want a durable Power of Attorney for your finances.  Be sure to name an alternate in these documents in case the person you have selected pre-deceases you.  Put a copy of these documents in the same red folder that holds your account list.  Also provide copies to those named in your documents and to your doctors.

Organize Your Files and Keep Them That Way

3 File Types


Confused about how to organize your files?  You are not alone.  The first step to organizing your files lies in knowing what types of files you are dealing with. The graphic above shows the 3 types of file categories all our paperwork falls into.  The pie chart depicts the quantity of files in each category.
Reference is the biggest category and it contains those items you receive on a yearly or semi-yearly basis, such as insurance policies and service records on your autos.  These files need to be purges once a year in order to keep them from becoming huge paper monsters that contain information of zero relevance. (I know you know what I mean.)
Archive files are important yet, rarely do we need to reference them.  These include birth certificates, real estate documents, and such. Once something goes into the archive category, it usually stays there.  The exception to this, however, is your tax returns.  I purge my tax returns so that I only have the last 7 years’ worth.  Ask your CPA or accountant how long to keep your tax returns.
Action files are those files that we use weekly or monthly.  They are relatively few files compared to the other categories but these files are important.  The action files help us to keep our life in order. I have talked about these files in previous posts and even created a video to demonstrate how action files are used. Purge your action files everyo ther month so that you sare working out of files that are up-to-date and only contain what they absolutely need to.
Have you categorized your files yet?  I highly recommend it if you want to get your papers organized and be able to use what is needed when you need it.

4 Steps to Better Pantry Organization

Are you wishing your pantry was more organized?  Does the word “chaos” describe your pantry right now? Not to worry, Here are 4 easy steps to better pantry organization.  I’ve included photos to inspire you along the way!pantry-ba

Step #1  Empty the pantry

Go through your pantry, shelf by shelf, and throw away expired foods. Also be on the look out for the foods that make you think “Where did this come from?!” – Throw those away too!  Don’t be surprised if your garbage can fills up because it will! Wipe down surfaces of your pantry and let’s begin to organize.
Step# 2  Group foods together 
Here’s a quick example of what groups of food can look like:

  • Breakfast foods
  • Canned goods/soups
  • Snacks/things for lunch
  • Pastas/rice
  • Drinks
  • Disposables plates/plastic ware

grouped pantry


Step #3 Reassembling the pantry

Put things back into the pantry strategically. What I mean by this is put things back on the shelves based on frequency of use.  For example, breakfast foods are used daily so these foods should be at a easy to reach height for all family members. Use the top shelves for rarely used appliances  and cookware or alcohol.
Use baskets or bins for small packaged goods such as seasoning packets, pastas and snacks. Invest in can organizer.



If you are happy with your new pantry configuration, then take the time to label the shelves.  This helps family members to put things back in the proper locations. It also helps with the task of grocery shopping because you can visually see what “sections” of the pantry are low on food.

Step #4 Maintain the pantry

Plan to do organization maintenance on the pantry, once every 6 months, to keep it working and organized for you and your family.