Stretch your mind and your ability to organize your space, your belongings, your time, and your thoughts. Allison Carter, The Professional Organizer, posts her thoughts, breakthroughs, frustrations, and memorable moments as an organizer. Allison also shares tricks that have worked for even some of the most disorganized people to conquer their clutter. Other features: Tips, mind stretches, favorite products, favorite books, and other tools to help people get organized.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
It's for all the creative, artsy, doodlers out there changing the way we think about organizing and the so-called-rules.
Keep an eye on us!
-- Allison Carter
Right Brain Organizing Blog
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Are you social networking?
If so, why?
If you can answer that, then you can move on to making your time more productive.
I always wonder how so many business people find the time to do the social scene when it seems to be a lot of time clutter to me (most of the time).
So the first step to eliminating that clutter is to figure out why you're doing it at all.
Read the article here.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
We could use this word when we organizing and purging so much that the surroundings do not seem familiar. I wonder if this happens to the people on TV shows about organizing or redecorating that they have a sense of longing for the old clutter.
June 13, 2008
New York Times
June 22, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
I love calendars and I need them all around me because I have a lot of trouble remembering dates. I tend to remember the day of the week and then sometimes I'm even off a bit.
So when Kristen Leigh invited me to get her creatively designed computer wallpaper calendars each month, AND I saw how cool they were, I began to download them monthly.
Now I look forward to my spiffy new computer look each month, and I get a calendar to boot!
It's just another way to keep being organized fun and oh so kewl.
Get your fun look for July!
Monday, June 30, 2008
We soon became best friends.
Slowly she began to trust me and divulge information and problems and she became needier and needier of my time.
She had some serious mental issues and only as an adult did I realize she should have been in therapy. (child of alcoholic, abused by brother, cutter, bulemic, manic-depressive - yes it was diagnosed).
Another girl in the sorority (her little sister) and I used to talk about how she completely drained us but we felt obligated to help her. Who doesn't want to help someone in need who asks for help? I actually thought it was kind of cool to have a friend so screwed up. Maybe it made me feel better about myself.
But happened over and over and over again - she would come to us for advice and to talk about her problems - and was sapping us. And it wasn't any fun.
Eventually, an attempted suicide drove us away completely. It was the kind where you knew it was a cry for help because she called us after downing a bottle of pills.
When I graduated and moved away, I soon realized that being away from her gave me energy. When she tried to keep up the friendship, I kept her at an arms distance, didn't return phone calls, etc.
It taught me alot that would come in handy in my future adult life about the type of people I want to be around and the type to avoid.
Now as a professional organizer, I call this decluttering people in my life. These are the people who drain you. These are the people who don't support your ideas and dreams. These people cut you down to make themselves feel better.
I have decluttered boyfriends and others by using simple clear language such as: I don't think this is working for me.
I didn't even try to say "let's be friends".
I have even de-cluttered my draining relatives.
Email has helped a lot because I can converse when it is convenient for me, keep conversations short, and I don't get so emotional. If I receive an email that sets me off and hits hot buttons, I can write a response to "vent", and then delete it and instead send something less harsh.
So I must say how impressed I am that I backed up 95% of my stuff properly and had virtually ZERO work to do to get it up and running again.
Thanks to mac, I plugged a fire wire into my macbook and transferred all the info over.
An hour or so later, I was up and running!
1. Back up regularly cuz you never know when the big one is gonna hit.
2. You don't have to rescue everything. A deleted hard drive gives you a chance to clean house.
3. If you don't know how to back stuff up, figure it out. It's not a matter of if you'll have a crash, it's a matter of when.
This month's newsletter from The Professional Organizer is about emergencies and planning not to make a bad situation worse. You can actually organize for emergencies.
Check out the July Newsletter (after July 1) at http://www.theprofessionalorganizer.com/newsletter.htm
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I collect documents of information on my computer and usually organize them in nice neat files.
I sometimes even look at them again.
But now I am seeking therapy.
My computer hard drive bit the dust yesterday.
The IT guys said, nah, you don't have to back up your stuff before installing that operating system.
They were wrong. The OS wasn't the problem. It was the hardware. boo hoo.
Luckily, I'm smarter than a 5th grader and I backed up all my documents, photos and music.
But I am new to mac mail and never knew how to back up all of the emails and contacts I have diligently collected and corrected over the years.
And now I am at a loss.
I backed it all up 2 months ago but still feel lost.
2 months is a long time.
I'm in mourning for my lost info.
1. back up daily. You never know when the crash will come, but it's inevitable.
2. Keep documents stored in cyberspace at a document storing site. External hard drives work, until there is a fire or a flood or it crashes. I use .mac (soon to be .me??? I don't get the name change).
3. Keep less. It's easier to manage when there is less to manage.
4. Keep a list of all your passwords and logins so it's not a big huge deal to get up and running again.
5. Know where you have put your application discs so you can reinstall.
Any tricks you have found work for you???
Friday, June 20, 2008
Only have 20 minutes to trim down?
Yahoo Health says do interval training.
Those who jog and sprint for 20 minutes burn more calories than those who jog for 40 minutes.
It sounds like a no brainer.
Read the full article here.
The Economist has an article this week about research done on our brains and why we want to hang onto stuff we already have, even more than getting new stuff.
It appears we're just wired that way.
Read the article here.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
It's more than just promising to do so.
It's thinking about your "forks in the road" where you go off track and rehearsing a way to do it differently.
Read the article here at Tools for Thought.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Is this the worst you've ever seen?
Can you fix it?
Is there hope?
These questions are hard to answer because if it's the worst, organizers don't really want to tell the customer. And if it's not so bad, we don't want them to feel like they're too sensitive to small bits of clutter.
And then there's all the stuff in-between people want to know about themselves like "Why can't I get organized?"
I can tell you there is always hope. Even the most cluttered person can be a little less.
Even the most disorganized person can usually become somewhat less so, even if they don't overcome completely.
So where am I going with this....
Find out where you are on the clutter scale or your organizing style with these self quizzes found from various organizations and companies:
What's your O.Q.? (The Professional Organizer)
Clutter Assessment (Oprah.coma and Peter Walsh)
Clutter Junkies, Is this you? (Chetalaine and Peter Walsh)
Clutter and Creativity quiz (Artrepreneur)
Are you situationally disorganized? (NSGCD)
Are you chronically disorganized? (NSGCD)
Are you organized at the office? (OnlineOrganizing.com)
Are you organized at home? (Onlineorganizing.com)
What's your organizing obstacle? (ivillage and Vicki Norris)
What causes your clutter? (Oprah.com and Julie Morgenstern)
Clutter quiz (Clutter Workshop)
What's your clutter tolerance? (Parents.com)
Let me know if you find any surprises!
Sunday, June 15, 2008
But what about your death? Are you the kind of person who wants to map out what happens to you after you're gone? It saves a lot of trouble for the people who love you, that's for sure. But most people don't want to engage in the conversation, much less write a eulogy.
Now there is a new website to help plan your funeral and everything else associated with your death.
The free site lets only your family and friends log into your wishes.
You can plan your music and photos and write your obit. You can even plan a burial at sea!
You can leave a copy of your last will and testament and post other wishes.
Another site out of England is Your Death Wish.
Check it out and let me know what you think!
Friday, June 13, 2008
One thing I have trouble doing is procrastinating. Even when I try, I am so bothered by deadlines I will stay up into the wee hours so as not to be late.
On the lighter side, my husband has to force me to sit around so we do not arrive at parties on time - or I would be there exactly when it starts.
I found this great essay on structured procrastination - it gives me a glimpse into the world of putting it off until later.
Also, listen to my favorite procrastination expert Tim Pychyl talk more about structured procrastination on NPR's Talk of the Nation (6/12) on itunes or listen here.
In the last two weeks I've been on family vacation to Disney, spent 2 days at a professional organizer board of directors retreat, and volunteered at Girl Scout day camp for a week. I'm pooped! And my house is a wreck which makes it even worse to feel so exhausted.
-- station break--
This is the awesome waitress at Disney Hollywood (Orlando) in the 50s diner who yelled at us to clean our plates and get our elbows off the table. Don't miss her or the Toy Story ride.
-- back to our story--
Organizers have a preference for things to be finished, done, put away.
So it pains me to leave things packed up for more than a few hours.
I find clients with stuff left in suitcases and purses for months, and yes, even years.
But I've just got to put stuff away or I don't feel ready to move on to tomorrow's activities.
So my bags are unpacked and back in the attic.
The laundry is washed and put away.
Today I spent an hour napping and an hour putting away all the camp supplies, water bottles, sun screens, crafts we made, etc. It's still not all done! I still have email to respond to, calls to return, mail to open, laundry to do, argh! (not the pirate argh)
Sometimes I wonder... "What's wrong with me? Am I such a nut because I want to unpack right away?"
How about you? Do you let it wait or get right on it?
I'd love to chat about it longer but it's time to start packing up for next week's adventure -my daughter goes to her first sleep away camp. woo hoo!
Gotta go. I think I hear the Sharpies calling my name.
Friday, June 06, 2008
The first - I love Google Documents! I like to collaborate with colleagues and by starting a document in Google Docs, I don't have to deal with sending a paper back and forth through email revising it over and over.
I simply go to my Google Docs account, open a new document or upload one I already have.
Then I send a "share" link to the person I want to work on it with me, or just someone to look at it.
We can both be in the document making changes and saving at the same time.
It is quite a modern miracle to me - realizing that we just got email 15-ish years ago.
I can make word docs, spreadsheets, presentations and there is even an area to make fill-in-the-blank forms.
I love google so much I wish I could marry it!
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Blogging from Jacksonville, Fla, childhood home of DH Jimmy (yes Jimmy Carter).
I love traveling.
I hate packing. I get a bit neurotic about not packing things.
I refuse to make a checklist and use it like an organizer because it seems like after 41 years I would know what to pack, right?
Well my last trip I forgot to pack underwear (which led to a rather fun trip to the Reno Walmart and the gift shop at the Nugget).
This time I made sure to pack some panties and a few xtras.
But traveling with my stuff and all the kids' stuff I wanted to find a better way to deal with all the cords and chargers.
2 laptops, palm, 2 phones, Nintendo ds, portable dvd, gps, 2 ipods and there may be more I'm forgetting.
So I asked my fellow organizers... and they came up with.... just a few little things, none perfect but all quite usable.
Cord organizing for travel:
1. Kangarooms travel case for chargers and cords
2. Built's 6-pack for chargers
I love this fun stripey one!
Got more than 6 cords like me? Try this double decker doozy from Kangraooms
I chose to do it on the cheap with a box of zip lock bags.
- Label each cord with a labelmaker or masking tape
- Put each in a ziplock bag (if desired to keep from tangling)
- Put all the little bags into a small clear shoebox bin or a larger ziplock bag.
If you have other ideas for packing chargers to go, comment here with your suggestions.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Here is another one of my favorite ways to deal with the avalanche of paper brought on by attending school and other kid activities.
It's the Sparkler Files (AKA action files, AKA tickler files). I call them sparkler files because if I make them pretty and sparkly, people like me are more likely to USE them.
I found this nifty file box at Target recently. It would be great if we could count on it to be there every time, but it's probably a seasonal item. Check there for perty (as they say in Georgia) boxes and folders. These are Smead's Easytab files in yellow.
For kids paper, try giving each child a hanging file (yes... label it) and give each big activity it's own file.
For moms it takes a little more explanation... create files based on what you're going to do next, such as Pay, File, Enter, Go, etc.
You can find out more about how to ste up your own sparkler files in my NEW PLAYBOOK, Color Me Organized.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Here's a truly unique gift for a father, about a father, in memory of a father - a quilt made from Dad's ties. This quilt artist does custom work that can be seen at Denyse Shmidt Quilts.
For the new dad - give him a diaper bag he can wear with pride -
The Diaper Dude Survival Bag is the ultimate in the line up.
Find more at Diaper Dude.
Summer is almost upon us here in Georgia. School is over Today!
So I'm cleaning out the school hot spots, tossing the papers we don't need anymore, and preparing for the summer organizing blahs.
I think I hate filing even more when the weather is this beautiful.
Here's how I organize the stuff my family needs fast.
Hubby & Kids never really ever get the hang of my filing system, so if I want them to find stuff, I leave it where they can see it.
These are modular pockets from The Container Store. I like them because I can see down into them to see what the kids have dropped in.
I keep phone numbers, babysitter numbers and coupons in easy reach.
It's not magnetic, so it is hung on magnetic hooks.￼
There are a number of good info containers for refrigerators.
The FridgeMate is one.
I used it for about a year. But we kept having trouble with the magnets falling out. My Mother-in-law had the same problem. After about a year and many falls, it finally broke past the point where Gorilla Glue couldn't even fix it.
It also sticks out about 4 inches from the fridge or wall.
There are many other good looking Magnetic wall pockets:
Here - I like the red one!
FridgeFile - This one includes space for a calendar or notes.
Where do you stash all the kids' papers????
Saturday, May 17, 2008
New moms get the first taste of the Mom's Paper Monster. It begins the minute you go to the first OB appointment and doesn't end until they're well into adulthood.
If you meet a first time mom-to-be, ask if you can give her some unsolicited advice (I seem to begin every conversation this way).
Get a paper system started immediately.
There are dozens of ways to DIY but why re-invent the wheel.
The Baby Briefcase tames the first stage of baby paper clutter.
This makes a wonderful baby shower gift.
Other Stuff for New Moms
Before baby arrives, get a pretty baby box or designate any ol' plastic bin as the spot where baby keepsakes will go. This way mom won't lose the precious little hospital bracelet and other early keepsakes.
This one from Godiva comes loaded with chocolate! Yum!
You'll need a much bigger box for drawings and school stuff later.
Moms also will like a baby's first year calendar to write down firsts.
And maybe a journal for writing down all the wonderful memories, fears, and the wacky stuff!
Tune into my radio show this tuesday (5/20/08) to talk with a new mom and organizer Laura Ray to see how she made it through the first year!
For more info go to my show blog.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Talking about how to save money by getting organized.
I talked to hosts Jacquie and Caroline about how families can save a dime doing simple little things like meal planning, arranging cans by date, cooking for more than one day, and more.
Their podcasts are awesome for families - on tons of subjects that parents want to know about - everything from parenting to living longer.
Listen to the recording:
or download it from itunes.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I must be some kind of wholesale idiot.
I won an awesome shopping spree from Smead when my card was picked at the NAPO National Conference in April. So for part of it I ordered what I thought was 12 packets (6 in each)of my favorite clear/colored plastic envelopes with velcro to give to clients for coupons and documents and stuff:
But instead it looks like I ordered 12 boxes of them - each box with 24 packets in them! Wow!
So this is what was on my doorstep when I got home today:
14 boxes arrived total.
I'll have give-away items for life.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Lots of moms just love it and take special pride in wrapping a tasty and appetizing looking present. And they tend to accumulate massive amounts of ingredients for the wrapping - rolls of paper, bags, tissues, ribbons, etc.
To make wrapping easier, I love to help these wrapper-mamas develop a really fun system for storing and getting to it all.
(Get it organized now before the Christmas creep sets in and you've got no time in fall)
Here is one station I made with a client in her unfinished basement using a tool drawer system, peg board, and tables and bins.
One of my favorites to put into small closets and pull out as needed is the elfa cart wrapping station from The Container Store. It keeps everything at your finger tips. And it has a top to act as the table top.
More wrapping organizers that are only good for some people:
the Hanging Wrap Organizer & the Hanging Gift Bag Organizer seen here - Only work if you have a few.
These get stuffed full very quickly.
Ribbon Despensers seen here are really for neat people. I dunno about you but my ribbon never looks like the picture and my kids run off with the good scissors.
Do it yourselfers can make wrapping stations on a budget using:
* A tall laundry hamper, garbage can, or long under-the-bed box for rolls of paper
* Large plastic drawer units for tissue and bags and bows (one drawer each)
* A small drawer unit or bin for scissors, tape, pens, gift tags.
* Tuck all the bins and drawers under a folding table and you've got yourself a station.
Friday, May 09, 2008
I tell him what I want. He gets it.
He tells me what he wants. I get it.
We have learned what to buy for ourselves and what to save for special gift days like mother's day and father's day.
Sunday I'll be getting a new grill for cookin' up summer yum.
He's putting it together in the living room.
Yes there is no surprise.
But we've learned the hard way that I really suck at being surprised.
On my 30th birthday I tried and tried for days to get some friends to go out with me for dinner. No one was available. About 2pm, in a funk, I got so famushed that I broke down crying "poor me," that I had no real friends, yada yada yada.
My very confused husband couldn't take it. He hates to see me unhappy.
So he cracked and just had to tell me - "It's a surprise. I planned a surprise gathering. They're all coming to dinner. You just couldn't let it be!"
Luckily he didn't tell me where so there was a little tiny bit of surprise. He even blindfolded me and walked me all the way into the restaurant and to the table that way.
So where was I going with this?.... oh yeah, just ask her what she wants and then get it for her.
It's just that easy (if she's at all reasonable in her request). Ladies, if you really want what you want, don't expect DH to read your mind.
Hand over the catalog, print out the web page or write a note. But be explicit and specific if you want what you want when you want it.
I once asked for my car to be detailed for my birthday and my husand told me that's not a real gift. Huh? What do you think?
That got all my wheels turning and I suddenly saw a way to deal with some of the kids' stuff in my tiny bathroom.
Here's what I did:
There are lots of great ways to get storage in small spaces.
One of my favorite products, though not attractive, is little plastic drawers.
They fit perfectly on the tank.
These are Sterilite from Target, my favoritest store.
The drawers hold lots of little things like ointments, cotton balls, contact cases and other stuff when you don't have drawers (like me).
The Container Store has similar stuff that is better looking - like this:
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Moms looking to save some money can start with pennies that turn into big bucks over time.
Yes I'm talking about coupons. They can be a big saver or a terrible burden, depending on how you think about them. But many moms have to clip coupons in order to make the most of what they have. That's why mom extrordinaire Amy Bergin invented The Couponizer!
It's more than just a place to store coupons... it's a way to make coupons important. "When you give something a home, it means you take it seriously," says Bergin.
The couponizer website has great tips for using it and for getting even more savings from other coupon sites.
Plus, if you get one now, there is a special book: Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom that comes as a bonus (worth $18).
Take look and see if it's worth it to you.
Stephanie Vozza of www.TheOrganizedParent.com says she saved more than $300 over the last two months using the couponizer system.
You can listen to Amy Bergin talk about The Couponizer on The Organizing Playground 5/6 radio show and podcast - it will be available for download in 48 hours or you can get it from itunes.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
that she got with my new 20% discount! Woo Hoo!
I loved the Container Store before, and now I love it so much I want
to marry it (as my daughter would say).
Just another reason to hire a NAPO organizer - 20% off elfa and 10%
off everything in the store.
Thank you Container Store for this special gift!
Saturday, May 03, 2008
To Don't List
For the mom who does too much. Help her stop and smell the proverbial roses.
Now go out and give mom a big smile!
Friday, May 02, 2008
Favorite gifts are not always things, but experiences.
If your mom or your kids mom is an idea person, a thinker, an entrepreneur at heart who wants to get a business off the ground, she's just the kind of person who would love to get a membership to a Ladies Who Launch incubator.
The LWL is about visioning, sharing, and supporting other women who want to start something for themselves.. whether it's a business or a book, a clothing line, a product, a club, or just about anything under the sun.
I went to find people like me - creative, visionary, supportive - and I have just launched my playbook for the creative and clutter challenged called Color Me Organized.
I was in an incubtor (to incubate ideas) in Atlanta.
Through the LWL website I met my new pal Professional Organizer Krista Colvin!
We were roomies at the recent NAPO conference and it was such an amazing weird instant click. (I usually take forever to make friends)
Krista has just launched her fabu new organizing product line the whole shebang.
You can download a neato brain dumping page for getting all the nitty gritty out of your head and onto paper.
So get your mom an experience she will remember for life and meet people who can change her life.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Here is what moms (with young live-in kids) really want for Mother's Day... time --
Time with kids and family for fun (no whine with your cheese) AND time alone with herself or with girlfriends.
As much as we love our families, women often get lost trying to care for everyone else and don't spend much time looking after number one.
So this is my recommendation for the best ever gift to your mom, wife, girlfriend, etc.:
spend 1/2 the day doing family fun stuff (putt putt, hiking, museuming) and give her a FREE PASS to go out alone or with friends. The free pass is FREE of GUILT. No one is allowed to say how they'll just muddle by or miss you. And when she gets back, the house should be spotless!! The laundry done!! The dishes washed and put away! I'm just dreaming now right?
Well, that's what she wants.
That's at least what I want.
I also want the funky, fun, sweet jewelry my friend Laura makes and puts on line at etsy in her shop Modernbird.
That is post #1 for Month of Moms!
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Find out who is and why:
Survey Shows Increasing Worldwide Reliance on To-Do Lists
I usually only keep a daily list of junk to do.
When I get really busy I move up to the big list of projects.
Then I move to the wall board for a brain dump when truly overwhelmed.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
that made it's way through the sewer of the internet.
But nooooooo, it's the real deal.
I'm just excited to win something for once. It could have been $5 and I'd be jumping for joy.
The last time I won something it was a set of knives at Zayer (like
Mallwart) when I was 16 years old. Like a teenager needs a set of steak knives!
So what did I win????? My biz card was drawn from hundreds at the NAPO
conference and I was the big winner...
$500 in products from Smead!!!!
Many people wouldn't care, but office supplies are like crack to me. I
cannot get enough. Who knows who I would sleep with to get mo-bettah files.
So the catalog will be coming in the mail.
You can find me by the mail box.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Not great, but a tad better. I'll have to live with it for now.
I actually switched desks with my kids so they have all the clutter at their desk. I'm across the room with a wireless computer. But there is still the UPS, the Monitor cord, the external hard drive, etc.
If you have found cord bliss please please please leave a comment.
Computer, Monitor, Printer, External Hard Drive,
Modem, Router, Phone.
Every one of them has a power cord and connector cord.
So I decided to finally tackle it after reading some blog posts earlier this year about the Signum from Ikea
I love John's work and blog and I visit his site a lot cuz he makes organizing FUN.
Lots going on to blog about... so much that I even started a new blog: http://organizingplayground.blogspot.com is the home for the radio show that I'm co-hosting. We post topics and guest info and anything else unusual.
Check it out.