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.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Organizing Kids' Papers (and mom's)

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.
And today it has a companion playbook, List Me Organized.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Fathers Day - Organize-ish gifts for dad

Are old ties cluttering up your man's closet?
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.

Fridge Pockets

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

Month of Moms - New Moms / Moms to be

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

Allison on the radio

I was interviewed today on the Family Matters radio show & podcast
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

Smead Shopping Spree arrives! OMG

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.

-- Allison

Monday, May 12, 2008

Month of Moms - Wrap Station

Let's face it. Moms get stuck doing the present wrapping in the house 9 times out of 10.
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

What Mom Really Wants - part deux

Somehow, my husband and I have fallen into this really cool and comfortable gift SOP.
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?

Other than the Obvious - how else to use stuff?

Aby Garvey blogged about other uses for cute stuff and included a utensil holder for parties, etc.
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:

-- Allison

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Moms save money - month of moms

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 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

Container Store Discount

Here is happy Gail in her new Container Store closet (one of two)
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

Month of Moms - Give mom a laugh

Whimsical Organizing products to lighten up as you lighten up.

To Don't List

For the mom who does too much. Help her stop and smell the proverbial roses.

Stuff Folders

How to Procrastinate book

The Non Planner Date Book

Aquatic Adventure Weekly Planner

Bob's Your Uncle File Folders

Now go out and give mom a big smile!
-- Allison

Friday, May 02, 2008

Mother's Day Month - Newsletter is ready

The Professional Organizer May Newsletter is available.

To subscribe send an email to:

Month of Moms - Mom wants to meet like minded women

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.
-- Allison

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Month of Moms - What Mom Really Wants

I suppose it would be presumptuous to pretend to speak for all moms, but I will anyway...
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!