The Saved Piece of Paper that Changed my Career

May 1, 2015 14:36 by elizabeth

Recently I was going through my own files to shed excess papers and projects that no longer fit my goals. I came across an article and wondered why I had kept it, until I noticed a note I’d written at the top: “This is the article that inspired me to become a professional organizer.”

ArticleThe article was from a 1998 American Way, the American Airlines inflight magazine. Back then I managed volunteer teaching programs in Africa and Latin America. I spent a lot of time traveling on American Airlines back and forth from Boston to Miami, and sometimes on to Costa Rica and Ecuador.

Although I loved my job something in this article spoke to me at the time, so I pulled it out an threw it in my “career” file.

I found that file and article years later, when I was a Product Manager for a large education company and was ready to move on. The article mentioned NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers. I joined NAPO, took courses, and realized helping others get organized (and love their homes again) was my passion.

Sometimes it pays to keep a piece of paper—if you know why it’s important. If you have a document that’s important or a piece of memorabilia, jot down the significance.

    E-mail | Permalink

Quick Ways to Organize Memories

March 31, 2015 13:32 by elizabeth

Have you started a baby book for your child, but never finished it? Or wanted to write a daily diary or journal, but only kept it up for a month?

Last week I gave an organizing talk to a Parents of Multiples group: all the moms in the room had twins, and many had additional kids. We started discussing how to preserve memories and several moms talked about how they had piles of notes and photos for baby books that were never done (and probably never would be done).

This lead to several moms sharing how they keep track of memories. Here are some great ideas:

  • One mom uses the Memento app, which gives her a spot on her phone to jot down quick thoughts. You can also connect the app to your social media accounts to add in more photos, videos and notes.
  • My husband and I keep a shared Google doc of “Funny things” our daughter says. We both have added to the document over the years, and love to go back and read it. (We started this when our daughter was little, before the era of apps!) download
  • Another mom said that instead of creating a baby book, she notes milestones and fun things on her wall calendar. She keeps the calendars and can quickly scan through to see the memories.
  • As an alternative to a traditional journal, try a one-sentence journal. It’s much less daunting to write one sentence a day than a whole entry.

What creative high or low tech ideas do you have to preserve memories?

    E-mail | Permalink

Organizing Maps & Travel Brochures

March 6, 2015 19:46 by elizabeth

Do you still keep paper maps and travel brochures? I have to admit that I do. I keep a few for sentimental reasons (Paris restaurants, Geneva map) but also keep selected maps and brochures from places that I plan to visit again.

During one of our many snow storms last month I was looking for something in the attic and found a box half-full of travel maps and brochures. I decided this would be a good blizzard organizing project. (I could also dream of warm summer vacations ahead…)

Here’s what I did:

  • First I dumped all the brochures our on my dining room table. A few wereIMG_4125 sorted by place so I kept those together.
  • I reviewed all the maps and brochures and recycled a good amount.
  • Then I sorted what I wanted to keep by location.
  • I was hoping to put the maps/brochures into a blue accordion file I had (see corner of photo) but there were too many for the file.
  • Next I the thought of keeping everything together by rubber bands, but some piles were too large.
  • Finally I decided to use one of my favorite organizing tools: gallon size plastic bags. Easy, and the bags had a spot for a label.
  • All the bags were “filed” into a plastic bin back into the attic, waiting until the next trip is planned.

What’s great about this system is that for our next trip to VT, I just have to pull out the bag labeled VT and enjoy looking at all our favorite places.

AFTER: Organized into bags and ready to go!

IMG_4126

    E-mail | Permalink

Reduce Unwanted Mail and Phone Calls: Get off the Lists

January 8, 2015 15:16 by elizabeth

IMG_4133I noticed that this past December I got a ton of catalogs, many more than I had ever ordered from. I also seemed to be getting a lot of unsolicited phone calls to my home phone. 

Time to get off the lists, and sign up (again) for the national “do not call” and “do not mail” registries. These lists are only good for 5 years so if you find yourself getting a lot of unwanted mail or calls, it’s probably time to re-register your information.

Here are my favorite resources:

And here's one to try for unwanted email subscriptions: unroll.me.  
    E-mail | Permalink

7 Tips & Tricks to Organize your Gift Wrap Supplies

December 22, 2014 08:21 by elizabeth

1. Want to get your gift wrap supplies in order?  The first step is to gather all the wrapping paper, bags, cards and other supplies you have in one place.  Once you have it all together, reduce it to at least half. Yes, half! In most cases you aren't going to need all those gift bags you've saved. And if you love gift bags, you probably don't need all those rolls of paper. 

2. Store the supplies you are keeping in one place. Here are some different ideas:

  • I use the Rubbermaid Wrap-n-Craft that fits into my closet
  • Stand up rolls in a wine crate or wire wastepaper basket
  • Store wrapping paper rolls in a hanging garment bag; I haven't tried this but it's a creative idea to get supplies off the floor
  • Try pantry shelving designed for the back of a door

3. Recycle the gift wrapping supplies you aren't using, pass them on to a friend, or even donate the wrapping paper. Goodwill may take it, as will some thrift stores or charities that wrap gifts to give at the holidays. (Here is one Boston charity that can use wrapping supplies.)

4. Simplify the whole gift wrapping process with a "signature" gift wrap: use just one kind of paper or gift bag for all gifts. You can personalize with fun cards or ribbon.

5. Reuse. Turn old maps into gift wrap. A client recently told me she saves maps of certain places, like London, Paris or Harvard Square, to use as wrapping paper. It's especially fun for graduation gifts. You probably don't navigate with your paper maps too often, so consider reusing some as gift wrap.

6. Get into the zone. If you are wrapping a lot of gifts at one time, set up a wrapping zone in your office or dining room.

7. Party; throw a gift-wrapping party that is. Each December a friend invites a group over to eat, drink and wrap. Everyone shares wrapping supplies. It's a fun way to get that chore done.

This article first appeared in the November / December 2014 edition of my newsletter, The Neat Sheet.

    E-mail | Permalink