About Nancy Haworth

Nancy Haworth is a Professional Organizer and Owner of On Task Organizing, LLC located in Raleigh, North Carolina. She assists residential clients throughout the area in organizing homes, decluttering, moving, and managing time. She has been a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers since 2011.

Organizing Spices

organizing spicesOrganizing Spices

An organized kitchen can allow you to cook more at home, resulting in healthier eating and saved time and money.  One small but essential area of the kitchen to organize is the spice collection.  There are hundreds of spices available in the baking aisle of the grocery store, but to be able to use them when needed, you must be able to find them in your kitchen.  Here are some tips on where and how to store spices in your kitchen.

Determine the size of the space needed

Gather all of your spices together and assess the amount of space these items take up, once you’ve done this, you can decide where to store the spices.

Choose a storage location

The storage location mainly depends on the layout of your kitchen and where you use the spices.  Some people prefer to store spices in a pantry, others in a kitchen drawer, and others in a cabinet near the main cooking or preparation area.  Try to choose a location that eliminates walking across your kitchen each time you need a spice.

Choose a type of storage product (here are some examples)

An in drawer spice organizer

An on the wall spice rack (this could be located on a wall or inside a pantry or cabinet door)

An in the cabinet tiered shelving system

A 2 tier lazy susan

Determine if you want to move spices to similar containers

For those that enjoy the visual look of similar containers, you may want to buy containers like these glass spice bottles for all spices and label the containers.

Store alphabetically

You can store spices in any order you’d like, such as how frequently you use them.  However, one of the easiest ways to sort spices is alphabetically by name.  This way, it will be easy to find spices and to return them to their designated spot in the kitchen.

Once you’ve got your spices organized, remember to check expiration dates on a regular basis.  Spices that have expired are less potent and may impact the taste of your meals.

By | 2018-04-05T18:49:30+00:00 April 18th, 2018|kitchen, organizing, pantry, spices|0 Comments

7 Ways to Improve Productivity when Working from Home

7 Ways to Improve Productivity When Working from Home7 Ways to Improve Productivity when Working from Home

Working from home may sound like a dream come true to many people, but it brings about many challenges in managing both your space and time.  Creating a productive work-life balance is key to making working from home successful.  Here are some tips on ways to improve productivity when you work from home.

Separate your work space from your home space

Creating separate spaces for home and work activities is essential.  Set aside an area of your home to be your working space.  This may be in a home office or spare bedroom.  It is important that you have this space to give you privacy and eliminate distractions.

Set up privacy in your work area

Close the door to your workspace and place a sign on it when you are working.  If your workspace is in an open floor plan, divide the room with a privacy screen, a curtain, or use furniture such as a bookcase or cubical storage unit to divide the “work” and “home” areas.

Eliminate distractions during work time

Do your best to eliminate distractions during work time, such as turning off the home phone ringer, ignoring the doorbell and letting neighbors, family and friends know that you do not accept visitors during your work hours.

Occasionally work off site if needed

Some people find they are able to focus better if they are outside the home.  This doesn’t mean you need to go into an office.  You may want to schedule time at a coffee shop, library or co-working space.

Time block your schedule

Use your calendar or planner to schedule your day into blocks of time for both work and home activities.  For example, maybe your work time is from 9am-12pm, home time to have lunch and do home related errands is from 12-1pm.  Block out your time just as you would if you were working in an office.  

Use alarms, timers and apps to stay on track

Set reminders, alerts or alarms on your electronic devices to remind you when to start work and when to take breaks, and to keep track of your to-do list. Clocks such as the Time-Timer may help to manage your time. Using the Pomodoro technique may also help you to stay focused and make sure you take breaks as needed.  There are also many apps that help you keep track of your to-do list such as Due, Wunderlist or Producteev.

Outsource home errands

Sometimes, it is easier to outsource help managing your home so that you can focus on work.  Consider hiring a cleaning service, a lawn care service, a personal assistant or a nanny to help with the home errands.

How to Keep Track of Incoming Gift Cards, Checks & Cash

how to keep track of incoming gift cards, checks & cash

How to Keep Track of Incoming Gift Cards, Checks & Cash

Disorganization results in many things being lost, misplaced or forgotten.  Unfortunately, this can cause you to lose money in many ways.  When sorting through belongings with my home organizing clients, it is very common to come across unused gift cards, un-cashed checks and even lost cash.  In the case of gift cards, some lose value over time, and if a check goes too long without being cashed, banks may not accept it.  Setting up routines and creating a place for these items can save you money.  Here are some tips on ways to keep track of incoming gift cards, checks and cash in your home.

Gift Cards

First of all, be sure to open your mail regularly because you may receive greeting cards in the mail for birthdays and holidays that contain gift cards.  As soon as you come across a gift card, thank the sender and determine the best place to store that gift card so you remember to use it.

Gift card storage options vary depending on how you shop.  If the card is for something you buy online, place the gift card near where you use your computer.  If you collect several cards, a small box may work well for storing these.  If the gift card is for a store where you shop in-person, it is best to keep it with you while traveling.  You may want to place it in your wallet or purse, or perhaps in an envelope in your car center console or glove box.  The important thing is to have the gift card and to remember you have it when you are shopping at that particular retailer.

If you receive a gift card for an activity such as visiting a restaurant, movie theater or beauty salon,  it will be best to immediately schedule a time to go to that location.  Put it in your calendar or planner so you can  enjoy the experience that was gifted to you.

Checks

Again, opening your mail and sorting through it regularly will help prevent checks from being misplaced.  If it is a gift check, thank the sender, and then make a plan to cash it.  Create a small pile, or use an inbox tray or envelope to hold checks that you need to take to the bank.  Some banks now allow for mobile deposits to make depositing checks even easier.  If you need to go to the bank or ATM, schedule a time on your calendar to do this.

Cash

Cash may come from many different sources, it may be lose change, tips earned, or money received as a gift.  To prevent money from getting lost all over the house, create a set place for this cash.  A change jar may work well in a kitchen or bedroom, or wherever you empty your pockets.  Keep cash in your wallet or purse, or perhaps in a safe in your home.  If it is cash that you need to deposit in a bank (along with checks), use an designated envelope for these items, and schedule a time to go to the bank or ATM to deposit it.

As you can see creating a home for these types of items and planning a time to spend or deposit gift cards, checks and cash will help you to keep track of it all.  Now is a great time to gather those types of items together and make a plan to use them or deposit them.

By | 2018-04-03T16:32:29+00:00 April 4th, 2018|gifts, money|0 Comments

8 Reasons to Organize Your Shed

8 Reasons to Organize Your Shed

8 Reasons to Organize Your Shed

Outdoor storage areas such as sheds often become cluttered and disorganized.  Many people feel overwhelmed just opening the door to a shed.  As the weather gets warmer, now is a great time to declutter and organize your shed.

8 Reasons to Organize Your Shed

Save Time Searching for Things

By having a shed with shelves, bins or hooks for your outdoor items, you will save so much time searching for things.

Better Protection for Your Belongings

Properly containing shed items in organized lidded plastic bins will protect your belongings from pests, weather changes, dirt and dust.

Create a Space for Gardening

If you love to garden, creating a gardening bench and garden supply storage area in your shed will give you a better organized space to enjoy your hobby.

Simplify Yard Work

By creating a home for lawnmowers, trimmers, rakes and more, you will make it easier to get yard work done.

Make an Organized Tool Workbench Area

If you enjoy working with tools, creating an organized workbench and tool storage area in your shed will give you a great place to work on projects.

To Quickly Prepare for Beach or Camping Trips

Many people store beach and camping supplies in their sheds.  If these items are organized together, packing will be so much faster.

For Easier Outdoor Holiday Decorating

By creating improved storage for your outdoor holiday decorations, it will be easier to access, decorate and put away these items in the winter.

To Prepare for a Yard Sale

Sometimes, sheds become a catch-all for items people no longer use.  If you’d like to prepare for a yard sale, decluttering your shed may be a good place to start looking for items to sell.

Shed Before OrganizingShed After Organizing

This shed took On Task Organizing just 2 and 1/2 hours to declutter and organize.  Many of the items that were removed will be sold in the homeowner’s neighborhood yard sale.

By | 2018-03-13T15:31:08+00:00 March 28th, 2018|Shed|0 Comments

7 Ways Spring Cleaning Can Improve Your Health

7 Ways Spring Cleaning Can Improve Your Health

7 Ways Spring Cleaning Can Improve Your Health

Spring cleaning your home can improve your living environment, which can benefit your health.  Spring cleaning is not just about decluttering, dusting and mopping, it is about making changes to better all aspects of your life.  Here are some ways spring cleaning can result in a healthier life.

Lowered Stress

By creating a place for everything, you will save time getting ready each morning and save time searching for items throughout the day.  A decluttered home can help lower your stress levels.

A Safer Environment

By removing excess when you declutter, you reduce the chance of tripping over items or bumping into things in your home.

Healthier Meals

Spring cleaning your fridge and pantry will prevent you from eating expired food.  An organized kitchen makes it easier to make grocery lists because you know what you have in stock, and it opens up counter space for meal preparation and cooking.  You will be more likely to prepare meals at home, which is healthier than ordering take-out or eating at most restaurants.

Improved Medication Processes

Decluttering your medicine cabinet of unnecessary or expired medications will ensure that you have current medications and on hand in case of illness or a medical emergency.  In addition, setting up organized pill sorters with daily medications will help make sure you are taking your medicine as prescribed.

Better Air Quality

By decluttering, dusting, sweeping and vacuuming, you will help remove dust from your home.  This can be a relief for those with dust allergies.

Easier Sleep

It is easier to relax in a decluttered bedroom, which helps you to fall asleep easier.

Motivation to Exercise at Home

Many people organize and declutter a space with the goal of opening up an area for home exercise.  Whether you’re clearing off an ignored treadmill or clearing enough floor space for a yoga mat, creating a space for exercise at home will motivate you to workout more.

The simple act of spring cleaning can help you to lower stress, live in a safer environment, improve air quality and sleep, stay on track with prescribed medications, and promote healthier eating and more exercise.  I hope these facts motivate you to start spring cleaning today!

By | 2018-03-13T14:14:46+00:00 March 21st, 2018|health, spring cleaning|0 Comments

Craft Closet Case Study: Collaboration Between Organizer & Client

Craft Closet Case Study: Collaboration Between Organizer & Client

Craft Closet Case Study: Collaboration Between Organizer & Client

As a Professional Organizer, I customize my processes to meet my client’s needs and goals.  There are basically 3 ways to work with me, depending on how much assistance you need and how motivated you are to make a change.

1. Do-it-yourself Consultation

This is where you are ready to tackle the entire home organizing project on your own, but you need some guidance as it pertains to creating an action plan, the best use of space, and tips on how to organize the home on your own.  I provide an in-home DIY consultation, and you do the work on your own.

2. Hands-on Organizing & Collaboration

I provide you with an in-home organizing assessment, we then work together hands-on to begin decluttering and organizing.  I then provide you with a shopping list and a to-do list to work on in between organizing sessions.  You buy products and work on the follow-up tasks or “homework” on your own, and I return at a later date for more hands-on organizing to keep the process moving, answer any further questions, or add the finishing touches.

3. Hands-on Organizing & Shopping

I provide you with an in-home consultation, hands-on organizing services, and do the shopping for all products in between sessions.  I bring your products to each session and containerize and label products as part of the hands-on work.

The type of service you need really depends on your needs, goals and motivation.  In my experience, option #2 is the most productive and successful because you get to make your choices on products, and by completing follow-up tasks on your own, you further practice and learn organizational skills, saving you money in the long run, and making your next session more productive.

Craft Closet Case Study of Hands-on Organizing & Collaboration

This is a case study on how this collaboration between an organizer and a client worked well.  My client had a craft closet full of various items.  She was overwhelmed and called me for assistance.  During our first 3 hour session, I walked through her home for an in-home organizing assessment and spoke with her about her priorities and goals for all areas of her home.  Since the craft closet was her number one priority, we spent the rest of the session decluttering and organizing that closet.

Craft Closet Before Organizing

The before photo shows what the craft closet looked like when I arrived.  The during photo is after just one organizing session.  I then provided my client with a follow-up email that included a to-do list of tasks she could do on her own to move the process along to more quickly reach her goals.  I also provided her a detailed shopping list, because arts and crafts items need to be contained by category to be able to be easily accessed.

Craft Closet During Organizing

A few weeks later, I returned and took the after photo at the start of our second organizing session.  My client had been steadfastly at work shopping for supplies and containerizing her projects after the first session.  (The final step is to add labels, which she will do with chalkboard labels as soon as they arrive).  Since she did so much “homework” on her own, I was able to move on to further organizing other areas of her home: a kitchen drop zone, a laundry room, a hall closet and children’s artwork during our second session.

Craft Closet After OrganizingShe accomplished her entire home organizing project in just 2 sessions (6 hours) with me!  I then followed up with her on a few more product recommendations and follow-up tasks after her second session.  I will check in with her in a couple of weeks to hold her accountable and provide further guidance, if needed.  Because of a successful collaboration between a professional organizer and a client, this project was quickly completed, and my client loves the peace of mind an organized home has brought to her life.

By | 2018-03-13T14:01:13+00:00 March 14th, 2018|Closet, clutter, Craft Room, organizing|2 Comments

Downsizing Memorabilia

downsizing memorabilia title

Downsizing Memorabilia

Memorabilia and keepsakes are some of the most difficult items to sort, organize and cull. Memorabilia is usually the last category of items I sort through with my organizing clients during a organizing project that involves the entire home.  Sentiment and indecision make this process feel overwhelming for many people.

I often come across closets, attics or spare rooms full of memorabilia.  The amount can vary depending on the person’s level of sentimentality, their age, family size, and how long they’ve lived in that location.  Either way, at some point in life, most people need or want to downsize their memorabilia collection.  If they do not do it, this could leave quite a burden for family members to tackle after the person has passed away.  Downsizing memorabilia is a challenging process, but here are a some tips to make it easier.

Save Sorting Memorabilia for Last

Plan to sort through the category of keepsakes last in your downsizing process.  I suggest beginning with items that are easier to let go of first.  Memorabilia sorting can be emotional and time consuming.

Gather All Memorabilia in One Room

Once it is altogether, you can see exactly how much you own.  It is best to set up a table in this space to ease the sorting process.

Separate Memorabilia by Type

Create separate boxes or piles for photographs, Christmas cards, children’s artwork, inherited items, old letters, etc.

Set Limits

Determine how much memorabilia you can keep and want to keep.  Maybe your home can only reasonably hold one shoe box of cards, one bin of keepsakes, and one shelf of photo albums.  Determine what is right for you and your home and work within those limits.

Give to Family

Create boxes to give away to family members.  For example, if your children are grown, set aside a box of their memorabilia and give it to them as a gift.  I’ve had organizing clients give decorative boxes of memorabilia to their children as wedding gifts, graduation gifts and birthday gifts.  Once your children are grown, you do not need to hold onto their items for them.

Curate your Memorabilia

When sorting through memorabilia, consider it curating.  If you were creating a “museum of your life” what items would be most important to preserve and display?  Select to keep these important items first when downsizing your memorabilia.

Choose Decorative Storage

For the keepsakes that you want to display, consider creative ways to save them.  For example, create a shadow-box of souvenirs or make a t-shirt quilt.

Go Digital

It sometimes makes it easier to part with the physical items if you take photos of the items and create a photo book or store them digitally.

By | 2018-03-05T14:01:43+00:00 March 7th, 2018|downsizing, keepsake, memorabilia|0 Comments

12 Reasons to Organize Your Master Bedroom

12 Reasons to Organize Your Master Bedroom12 Reasons to Organize Your Master Bedroom

There are many benefits to organizing your own bedroom.  Although it may seem selfish, the master bedroom is often the best place to start in a whole house organizing project.  If this space is organized, your morning routine will run more smoothly, you’ll have a place to relax, and you will probably sleep easier.

12  Reasons to Organize Your Master Bedroom

1. To get ready faster in the mornings

With your bedroom organized, you will be able to quickly retrieve items from your dressers and closets.  You’ll have the ability to find items when you need them and get dressed faster.

2. To make laundry less overwhelming

By setting up system for laundry baskets and hampers, and having a place put away each and every clothing piece you own, the entire process of doing laundry will be less overwhelming.

3. To save time spent searching for items

You’ll save time getting ready in the morning and getting ready for bed.  Less time searching for clothing, shoes and jewelry will save you time during both your morning and evening routines.

4. To save money by not repurchasing items you already own

Organized dressers and closets means no more buying items you already have but cannot find.

5. For a more romantic & relaxed atmosphere

By decluttering and organizing your bedroom, it will become a more visually appealing place.  This will be a place where you’ll want to spend time on romance and relaxation.

6. To reduce arguments between couples

If you share your bedroom with a significant other, setting up separate and organized storage areas for each person’s belongings can prevent disagreements about who is responsible for each space and arguments when something is misplaced.

7. To save time cleaning

If your bedroom has less clutter,  there will be less time spent clearing the floors, dressers and bed before cleaning. Creating a place for everything makes chores such as putting away clean clothes, changing linens and vacuuming easier.

8. To streamline swapping out seasonal clothes

If your clothes are better organized, the process of switching out clothing as the seasons change will be much easier.

9. To create a more peaceful space

Cluttered spaces often cause anxiety.  A decluttered bedroom will help to create a more calm and peaceful feeling.  You may find it easier to sleep in this space.

10. For a healthier sleeping space

When a space is decluttered, it is easier to clean, and will result is less dust and bacteria in your sleeping space.  This can relieve allergies and give you a healthier sleeping environment.

11. To increase productivity

By spending less time getting ready and doing chores, as well as getting better sleep, your overall productivity will increase.

12. To feel pride in your space

An organized and clean bedroom will help you have feel pride in your space resulting in improved self esteem.

If you live in the Raleigh, North Carolina area and need hands-on organizing assistance or want a do-it-yourself plan, please contact On Task Organizing.  If you live elsewhere, On Task Organizing offers virtual organizing services via FaceTime and Skype to help you with any organizing project.  Contact us for a free phone consultation to get started.

By | 2018-02-28T10:18:53+00:00 February 28th, 2018|Bedroom, master bedroom, organizing|0 Comments

Eliminating Excess: It’s About the Process, Not Buying More

Eliminating Excess: It's About the Process, Not Buying More

Eliminating Excess: It’s About the Process,

Not Buying More

I was recently contacted by someone asking me to look at his home and tell him exactly what storage products are needed and the total cost of these products.  He believed that buying new storage products will get him organized.  He kept focusing on the storage products and not the process.  In my vast experience of organizing homes, eliminating the excess is the first and most important step to getting organized.  If you have too many items that you don’t use, buying more containers to hide them will not get you organized.

3 Simple Steps to Getting Organized

1. Eliminate Excess

Eliminating Excess, purging and sorting your belongings will make the most impact in decluttering and organizing your home.  I urge all of my organizing clients to not buy storage products until the space has been sorted and excess eliminated.  At that point, we will know that the items that remain are important and useful.

Excess items are donated, recycled, sold, given to friends and family, or tossed, depending on the item.  After those things are gone, empty containers or organizing supplies usually remain.  These empty storage products can then be repurposed to organize the remaining belongings.

2. Determine Storage Product Needs

Once remaining items are sorted by category, purpose and frequency of use, and storage products already owned have been repurposed, then the discussion of buying new storage products can begin.

The storage products needed depend on the size of the space, the amount of items to be contained, and where the items will be accessed and used.  Storage supply selection also depends on the home owner’s organizing style and taste.  Some people prefer clear containers, others want baskets, while others like fabric bins.  Some people prefer to hide things away in cabinets or drawers, and others prefer to have items in view on open shelves or countertops.

3. Select & Shop for Storage Products

Storage product selection also depends on your budget.  Some homeowners would like to spend nothing on products and just repurpose shoeboxes, others shop at Wal-Mart, while others shop at Pottery Barn.  Your personal decorative style, budget and organizing methods also help to determine which products are right for you.  The finishing touch is to put the new storage products in place and label as needed.

Shopping for new storage products is one of the last steps in getting organized.  Just buying the products will not get you organized, you need to go through the process of eliminating excess and determining your storage needs first.  The next time you see a display of organizing supplies in a store, hold off on buying them until you know what you need.

By | 2018-01-29T18:39:55+00:00 February 21st, 2018|declutter, organizing, Organizing supplies, repurpose, storage|2 Comments

Organizing Lingerie

Organizing Lingerie

Organizing Lingerie

As a Valentine’s Day special request, I am discussing how to organize lingerie.  This is a popular gift, but these small articles of clothing can easily be forgotten if not organized and stored properly.

Tips to Organizing Your Lingerie

Declutter First

Sort through all of your lingerie, bras and underwear and edit out items that no longer fit, are worn out or not your style anymore.

Sort Lingerie by Type

Sort clothing by category such as hosiery, underwear, sports bras, everyday wear, special occasion wear, sleepwear, slips, camisoles, etc.

Determine Storage for Each Category

Decide where you’d like to store these items for the easiest access based on the layout of your room.  You may want to store lingerie items in dresser drawers, in lingerie chests, in fabric bins on closet shelves, in under-bed boxes, or hanging in closets.

Buy the Right Organizing Products for Your Lingerie

Once you’ve determined where you’ll be storing each type of lingerie, buy the right storage products.  For example, you may want:

Basic drawer dividers

Honeycomb drawer dividers (great for panties or hosiery)

Lingerie hangers with clips

Small baskets or bins, just the right fit for your closet shelving

Other Lingerie Organizing Ideas

In drawers or bins, lie bras within each other, so you can see everything at a glance.

Organize by color to make it easier to find the exact color you’re looking for that day.

Keep matching sets together. Whether in the same drawer or box, or on the same hanger, keeping sets together will save you time searching through your collection.

Use lingerie bags for washing, this helps care for the lingerie, and it saves you time when putting away clothing.

By | 2018-02-05T17:03:41+00:00 February 14th, 2018|bras, Closet, Clothing, lingerie, organizing, underwear|1 Comment

Storing & Organizing Bulk Items

Storing & Organizing Bulk Items Title

Storing & Organizing Bulk Items

Many of my clients find that shopping at bulk discount stores such as BJ’s, Costco or Sam’s Club saves them both money and time.  Shopping in bulk does not save space though, so storing bulk items can sometimes be a challenge.  Here are some tips on shopping in bulk and ways to store and organize bulk items:

Only Buy Items if You have Storage Space

When shopping at bulk discount stores, only buy items if you have enough storage space.  If you buy too much, your own home may begin to look like a store with pallets of cans and packs of paper goods taking over floor space.

Keep Track of Your Supply

Keep track of how long it takes you to use up a bulk supply of items, then schedule your future trips accordingly.  Perhaps shopping in bulk once per month or once per quarter will work well, depending on your available storage space, budget and schedule.

Make a Shopping List

Make a list of what you need before shopping in bulk.  It can be very easy to overspend in a warehouse discount store.  Making a list and sticking to it will help you save money.

Consider the Climate of Your Storage Area

For items that do not need to be in climate controlled areas, such as paper towels, you may want to store those on a labeled shelf in a garage, basement or attic.  It is best to store food and perishable items indoors in a climate controlled area.

Repurpose an Extra Room or Closet for Storage

If you have the space in a bonus room or spare bedroom closet, install extra shelving and make this your bulk storage closet.  There’s no need to install permanent shelves, freestanding shelving such as this wire shelving or plastic shelving can work well for this purpose.

Look Upwards for Extra Storage

Utilize the very top shelves of your pantry, laundry closet or linen closet to store overflow bulk purchases.  If you have space on top of your kitchen cabinets, some bulk items can be stored there in decorative baskets or fabric bins.

Make Use of Shelves, Racks & Tiered Shelving

For canned goods, wire racks like this, or tiered shelves make it easier to see what you have in stock.

Contain Items by Category

Use bins to contain smaller items by type on shelves.  For items such as toiletries, sort by category and use small bins to contain these items on the shelves.

By | 2018-01-29T18:19:26+00:00 February 7th, 2018|bulk, shopping, storage|0 Comments

A Professional Organizer’s Take on Swedish Death Cleaning

A Professional Organizer’s Take on Swedish Death Cleaning

A Professional Organizer’s Take on

Swedish Death Cleaning

“Swedish death cleaning” is a recent trending term in the media.  As a professional organizer, I continually educate myself to keep up with organizing trends.  I recently read “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter,” by Margaret Magnusson to learn more.

The concept of “Swedish death cleaning” or “dostadning” may seem morbid, but it is simply another way to think about downsizing your belongings to leave behind less of a burden for your loved ones.  Magnusson says, “Death cleaning is not about dusting or mopping up; it is about a permanent form of organization that makes your everyday life run more smoothly.”

The author, who is over 80 years old, introduces this concept, and then spends most of the book detailing exactly what she parted with, what she kept, and how she parted with certain belongings.  It is her personal story of how this process benefited her life.  Unlike many of us, she has many children and a large extended family to slowly give gifts of her belongings to as she declutters her life through death cleaning.

It is suggested that those over 65 years of age begin death cleaning, but it can certainly be done at any age.  She states that “A loved one wishes to inherit nice things from you.  Not all things from you.”  This is something I agree with, and have seen time and again when helping to declutter and organize a home while a client is in the process of downsizing, or when helping adult children sort through their deceased family member’s belongings.

This book discusses the basic concepts of decluttering, organizing and minimalism, with a look toward future generations.  No one wants to think about their death, but the reality is that everyone’s belongings will someday need to be sorted and dispersed among surviving family members.  Not only that, another emotional event is when a senior is still alive, but due to health problems, there is a need to quickly downsize when they’ve been hospitalized or there’s an urgent need to move to assisted living or a nursing home.  In this book, the author talks about amount of time it takes to really evaluate everything you own and make decisions.  Unfortunately, when a medical emergency has come up, there’s no time left to take it slowly.

She brings up a very good point that I practice with my organizing clients.  She says to save sentimental things such as photographs and personal letters as the last type of items to declutter.  These are always the hardest to let go of, and some of these things you may want your surviving family to see.  In my experience, these are also the items that take the most time to go through because every photo or piece of paper has a memory that is relived as you look through it all.

I think this book may help to bring about family conversations on the topic, and make everyone think more about what will happen to their belongings after death.  Simplifying and organizing can definitely make things easier for us while we’re alive and for our survivors when we’re not.   From what I’ve experienced helping families to declutter and organize surrounding a major health problem or family death, it is better to start sooner than later with this process.

If “death cleaning” is too morbid of a term for you, call it decluttering, downsizing, simplifying or minimizing.  All of these terms mean you take a long look at your belongings, and remove the excess so life will be easier for you and your family going forward.  Although this is overwhelming, you do not have to tackle this process alone.  If you need expert assistance in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, contact On Task Organizing.  Nationwide, members of the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals are available to help.

8 Tips to Create & Organize a Home Exercise Area

8 Tips to Create and Organize a Home Exercise Area

8 Tips to Create & Organize a Home Exercise Area

One of the most popular new year’s resolutions is to lose weight.  Creating a home exercise area is a great way to motivate yourself to exercise more, which will help in losing weight.  I’ve helped to create and organize many home exercise areas for my clients.

8 Tips to Create & Organize a Home Exercise Area

1. Determine a Location

You may decide to repurpose a room or create an exercise zone in a multi-purpose room.  When determining the location, consider the size of the room, the ease of access, the proximity to a bathroom, the type flooring and average temperature in the space.

2. Declutter

Once you have chosen a space, declutter to make room for the workout gear.  If reusing an space, such as repurposing a bedroom, basement, bonus room or garage space, clear out all of the clutter first.  Narrow down the items to only things you intend use while exercising.  If creating an exercise zone in a multi-use room, clearly outline which area will be used for exercising and declutter that space.

3. Make a List of Items Needed

The types of items needed in a home gym will vary by your type of workout, but determine what items are needed to make this a workable, useable home exercise space. Make a list of items such as weights, a yoga mat, yoga blocks, resistance bands, exercise balls, a jump rope, a foam roller, a treadmill, an exercise bike, an elliptical, towels, a water cooler, audio speakers, a TV or computer, a laundry basket, fans, space heaters, etc.

4. Consider the Layout

Think about how you will move from one exercise to another if doing a circuit workout.  Make sure you have, access to electrical outlets for some items, an open area for stretching and the ability to view a TV or computer, a mirror, or look out a window while you exercise.

5. Determine Flooring

Depending on if you are on an upper or lower floor, or in a basement or garage, choose the flooring that is right for you.  You may want to keep it as is, or add vinyl, rubber or foam flooring to this space.

6. Set Up Lighting

Lack of light in a room can discourage you from using it.  Make sure you have enough overhead lighting and floor lamps in this space.  Use mirrors, blinds and window dressings to control the amount of light in your exercise area.

7. Choose Storage Items

Once you have decided what items you need in your exercise space, invest in storage items to help keep it organized.  You may want shelving or storage cabinets for your media systems and accessories, a weight rack, hooks for towels, resistance bands and jump ropes.  If using a multipurpose space, you may want to hide workout gear in storage ottomans, decorative bins, or inside a closet.

8. Hang up a Calendar

Use a wall calendar to keep track of how often you use this room. Put it in your schedule to motivate yourself to exercise more.  Let family members know that this is your exercise time and location so they do not disturb you.

By | 2018-01-19T14:18:12+00:00 January 24th, 2018|exercise, New Year's Resolutions|0 Comments

6 Steps to Organizing Your Legacy

6 Steps to Organizing Your Legacy Title

6 Steps to Organizing Your Legacy

Your legacy is what you leave to your loved ones after you’ve passed away.  One of the most helpful things you can leave as a legacy is a collection of well organized important documents.  These documents can then be used to determine your legal wishes, reach out to insurance companies, close accounts, disperse assets and more.  When people thinking of leaving a legacy, they often think of money, gifts or other property.  If you have these documents well organized, you will be leaving your loved ones with less stress during an emotionally difficult time.

6 Steps to Organizing Your Legacy

1.Gather Your Important Documents in One Place

Choose one place to hold these important documents.  This may be in a file cabinet drawer, a file box or a binder.

2. Collect & Organize the Following Information:

  • Will and estate information, and your attorney’s contact information.
  • Healthcare and financial power of attorney details.
  • Funeral instructions.
  • Insurance policies  including home, car, health, life & disability.
  • Monthly budget and contact information for all utilities and loans.
  • Financial account information including all bank, savings & retirement accounts.
  • Safety deposit box information, and a list of its contents.
  • Deeds to homes, funeral plots, car titles, birth certificates, etc.
  • Recent tax returns & your accountant’s contact information.
  • Online password information and pin numbers.
  • Any other important documents you’d like to leave behind for your loved ones to easily find.

3. Clearly Label All Documents

Label folders or binder tabs, so that your family can find everything quickly.

4. Make Copies of All Important Documents

It is helpful to have copies of these documents.  You may want to store the original documents in a safe deposit box and leave the copies in your home in one location.

5. Tell Others

Make sure at least 2 trusted family members or friends know where all of this information is located in case of an emergency.

6. Keep Documents Up to Date

On a regular basis, update the information in your legacy documents.  Your situation may change, so be sure to keep things current.

If you need assistance in organizing your legacy, professional organizers can help to quickly and efficiently set up an organized system.  In the Raleigh, North Carolina area, contact On Task Organizing by email or by calling 919-561-0885.  Nationwide, visit The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals to search for an organizer near you.

By | 2018-01-08T13:45:15+00:00 January 17th, 2018|family, legacy, organizing, preparedness, senior, Senior Downsizing|6 Comments

How a Professional Organizer Can Help Your Senior Parents

How a Professional Organizer Can Help Your Senior Parents

How a Professional Organizer Can Help Your Senior Parents

I am writing this blog article by request.  One of my readers asked, “How do I get my parents to agree to hire a professional organizer?”  This is a sensitive subject to broach, because as the adult child, the home is not yours, and your parent or parents will be the main decision makers in the organizing process.

I have many conversations with adult children who want the help and services of a professional organizer for their aging parents, but unfortunately the parents are not on board.  Your parents may not see that the investment of a professional organizer is an investment in improving their life, time, stress level and environment.  Hiring a professional organizer can also relieve stress for their adult children who are trying to balance family caregiving along with so many other obligations.

Your parents may feel,  “I should be able to do this on my own,” or too proud or embarrassed to ask for or accept help.  They may not physically be able to lift and sort through items on their own, but may not feel comfortable asking for outside assistance.  Some parents may want to keep the home decluttering and organizing process within the family, but then disagreements and strained relationships result during this emotionally draining process.

Here are some tips on talking to your senior parents about why asking for organizational help is okay, and why they should agree to give it a try.

You Hire Experts for Other Needs

You hire a mechanic to fix your car, an accountant to do your taxes, a carpenter to fix your roof.  A professional organizer is an expert to help repair disorganized systems, improve your overall environment, and transfer organizational skills to you so you can maintain organization in the future.

These are Skills You Need and Want to Learn

If you wanted to learn how to paint, cook or play an instrument, you would take lessons.  Some people never had lessons in organization or time management, so a professional organizer can teach you these skills that you may need to improve or want to learn.  Home organizing sessions are individual personalized and customized lessons about you, your home, your time, your family and your life.  A professional organizer doesn’t just move stuff around, he or she helps you to discover your goals, prioritize, create a plan of action, make decisions on what to do with all the “stuff” that’s surrounding you.

You’ve Tried On Your Own, and it Hasn’t Worked Yet

Ask your parents, “How many times have you tried to get this place organized?   When will this get done if you don’t hire someone, schedule a time to do it, have an expert guide you in the process, provide storage product ideas, help drop off donations, and provide you with resources for selling or consigning items?”

You Want to Reduce the Stress of Downsizing or Moving

Moving is one of life’s most stressful events.  Downsizing or decluttering to age-in-place can be even more stressful because of the decades of memories and sheer number of items to sort through, often within a short deadline.  A professional organizer can relieve much of that stress, and make the entire process more manageable.

You’d Like a Safer Environment

Whether you are moving or staying in your space, decluttering and organizing will result in a safer environment.  Often, seniors need to make space for walkers or wheelchairs, and decluttering can help with that.  Organizing can improve other accessibility or safety concerns, such as removing falling or tripping hazards.

You Need or Want Accountability

A professional organizer will help to hold you accountable, keep you motivated, and work with you whether by your side or via email or phone to keep the process moving.  After each organizing session, “follow-up tasks” and “next steps” are discussed.  Your professional organizer will call you or check in with you at the start of each session to hold you accountable.  Sometimes having an accountability source is all you need to get the ball rolling and stay motivated.

You are Worth the Investment

The investment in a professional organizer can vary based on your needs. The cost really varies due to many factors including the size of the home, amount of items, number of people involved, and your decision making speed.  As many of my clients can attest, the monetary cost is well worth every penny because you are investing in your well-being, in lowering stress, in saving time, in improving your surroundings.

If You’re Happier, Your Adult Children will be Happier

With a better organized home, you will be safer, happier, and things will run more smoothly throughout your home.  You’ll have more time for enjoyable activities, and most likely this will result in a happier family, including your adult children.

As an adult child, remember this is your parent’s home and your parent’s choice.  As a professional organizer, before scheduling a session, I must speak with the homeowner and head decision maker first to be sure they are on board with the organizing process.

For more information, call On Task Organizing at 919-561-0885 or email to schedule a free phone consultation.  I can also set up a conference call with both you and your parents, so we can really discuss their organizational needs and concerns in depth together.

On Task Organizing’s Top 10 Posts of 2017

Top 10 Posts of 2017

On Task Organizing’s Top 10 Posts of 2017

As the new year begins, here’s a look back at the most popular posts of 2017 from the On Task Organizing blog, ranked in order of page views:

10.  How Getting Organized Can Improve Your Mental Health : Improved mental health is a wonderful benefit to getting organized, it can reduce anxiety, improve social relationships & more.

9.  7 Ways to Create Routines & Habits to Stay Organized : I offer tips on how to set up routines and habits to stay organized.

8.  Organizing on a Budget : I discuss ways to budget your time and money to get organized.

7.  Preparing to Downsize : Step by step tips to prepare for the downsizing process.

6.  7 Hacks for Living in Small Spaces : Living in small spaces like dorms, studio apartments or starter homes can bring about organizing challenges. Learn some hacks to make better use of a small space.

5.  6 Steps to Master Bedroom Organization : Learn ways to make the master bedroom a relaxing retreat from the chaos of your day.

4.  Conquering Kitchen Counter Clutter : Kitchen counters are a magnet for clutter. In this popular post, I wrote about ways to reduce kitchen counter clutter.

3.  Car Organizing Tips : I was surprised this ranked so highly because only a few clients have requested car organization services.  In this post, I discuss how having the right storage supplies can help to maintain a clean and organized car interior.

2. Decluttering when Downsizing :  A follow-up to “Preparing to Downsize,” . I discuss in further detail, room by room, how to efficiently declutter an entire home before downsizing.

And the top post on the On Task Organizing blog in 2017 is:

Parting with Sentimental Items : This emotionally difficult task is challenging for many reasons.  In this post, I offer tips to help part with sentimental items.  This is one of the most common topics clients ask about, so I am not surprised that it is the most popular post of the year.

What was your favorite On Task Organizing post this year? What would you like to see in 2018? Sound off in the comments!

By | 2018-01-01T15:11:15+00:00 January 3rd, 2018|organizing|0 Comments

How to Form Habits to Reach Your New Year’s Resolution Goals

How to form habits to reach your new year's resolution goals title image

How to Form Habits to Reach Your New Year’s Resolution Goals

As the new year approaches, many people are motivated to make changes to their lifestyle.  Two of the most popular resolutions are to lose weight and get organized.  Statistics show that 80% of resolutions fail by mid-February.  Achieving any resolution requires a change in habits, whether you want to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, save money, quit smoking, or stay organized, all require focus, will-power and a plan.

Create SMART Goals

SMART is an acronym to help you in setting your New Year’s Resolution goals.  It should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.  A SMART goal should cover exactly what you want to accomplish, how you’ll measure it, it should achievable, relevant to your life, and it can be reached within the amount of time you’ve given yourself.

Make a Plan

Write out a plan on how you will achieve this goal.  For weight loss, will you eat a certain number of calories, and exercise a specific number of times per week?  For getting and staying organized, will you sort your mail daily, or readjust your laundry schedule?  Plan for the little steps that will help you achieve your resolution.

Use a Schedule

“I don’t have time to ______” is a common excuse.  Your resolution most likely involves changing habits on how you spend your time.  For example, if your goal is to read a new book each month, put “reading” on your schedule at a certain day or time.  If a specific time is set aside for you to do something, you will be more likely to do it.  After a while, the new schedule will become routine and become more of a habit.

Find Accountability

Tell others of your plans to hold yourself accountable.  If a friend or family member has the same goal, support each other and discuss both your accomplishments and set backs as you try to improve your habits.  Tell friends, family members and co-workers, announce it on social media.  Do whatever you need to do help make sure others hold you accountable to reaching this goal.

Ask for Help

Sometimes, you can’t reach a goal alone, and you need to ask for help.  There may be many reasons for that, but there are both friends, family and professional experts available to help you. With experts such as personal trainers, nutritionists, psychologists, financial planners and professional organizers available, you can probably find an expert to hire to help you keep your New Year’s resolution.

By | 2017-10-07T20:13:33+00:00 December 27th, 2017|goal setting, habits, New Year's Resolutions, resolutions|0 Comments

Organizing Party Supplies

Organizing Party Supplies TitleOrganizing Party Supplies

Holiday events, birthday parties and other gatherings of family and friends bring plenty of fun times, but they also bring a lot of stuff into the party host’s home.  Many people do not have a designated place for the paper goods or seldom used specialty items.  There are often leftovers of paper or plastic goods from one event that you may want to save for the next year.  Here are some tips and ideas on ways to organize party supplies.

Store special event kitchenware in hard to reach areas

Since you don’t need items like punch bowls, serving trays and cake platters daily, find a place in your kitchen or pantry that is hard to reach.  Store them on the very top shelf of a pantry or in a high kitchen cabinet, or in the back corner of a low cabinet.  If your kitchen or pantry isn’t large enough, designate high shelves in another closet of your home, maybe in a guest room or bonus room, to store these items.

Create a paper goods and plastic ware section of your pantry, a cabinet or spare closet.

If you use paper supplies for your parties, designate one home for those types of items.  A portion of a pantry, a seldom used cabinet, or extra space in a laundry room or spare closet may work well.

Store in a climate controlled area

Remember that basements, garages and attics that are not climate controlled which can result in damage to both paper and plastic goods, so please store these items indoors in a climate controlled space.

Separate items by holiday

Designate a bin or portion of a shelf for each event, such as separating Christmas from birthday party paper goods.

Contain items by type

Use bins or baskets of varying sizes  to hold each type of item such as paper cups, paper plates, plastic utensils, napkins, tablecloths, streamers, balloons, candles, table decor, and any other party supply decorations.

Label your storage areas

If both the containers and the shelves or cabinets are clearly labeled, it will be easy for you and all members of your household to find items and put them away when needed.

Keep track of your inventory

Remember to check your party supply inventory before an event.  Buy only what you think you’ll need, so you don’t accumulate an excess of items that will not fit in storage areas.

Use, donate or recycle after an event

Many times, you may have paper party supplies that are only good for a certain event such as a 50th wedding anniversary or 1st birthday party.  Some people keep some of the decor for keepsakes or scrapbooking, but think about what to do with the remainder.  Holding onto a pack of baby shower plates until the child is in college is probably not the best use of your storage space.  It is a good idea to use up excess party supplies, recycle them, donate them, or give them to a friend or family member who may be able to use them at an upcoming party.  This will also open up room in your party supply storage space to prepare for the next event.

Purge party supply items regularly

To create more space in your kitchen & pantry, assess items on a regular basis; I suggest at least once per year, and definitely before relocating.  For example, if you have a punch bowl and haven’t made punch since the 70’s, maybe it is time to sell, donate, or give the bowl to someone else.

By | 2017-10-07T20:01:25+00:00 December 20th, 2017|organizing, pantry, party supplies|0 Comments

5 Tips for Organizing Gift Wrap

5 Tips for Organizing Gift Wrap Title

5 Tips for Organizing Gift Wrap

Gift wrap organization is often a challenge in many homes.   I’ve seen wrap and bags ruined by being stored behind or under items in closets or cabinets, or damaged by temperature changes in basements or attics.  Gift wrap doesn’t seem to have an obvious home, so here are some tips and storage ideas.

Store gift wrapping supplies near where you use them

If you wrap in a home office, the office closet may be the best location.  If you wrap in the dining room, the dining buffet cabinet may be a good choice.  Think about where and when you need to access these items.

Keep all gift supplies together

In addition to long rolls of wrap, gift supplies can include various sizes of gift bags, tissue paper, bows, ribbon, tape, scissors and greeting cards.  Assign one place for all of these items.

Store in a climate controlled and clean area

Paper can easily disintegrate, wrinkle, or be ruined by dust, moisture, temperature changes or pests.  To keep it all clean and usable, do not store these items in a non-climate controlled area such as a basement, garage, or attic.

Sort, purge & categorize your gifting supplies

Once you’ve gathered all supplies together, sort through them and recycle or donate anything that you don’t see yourself using.  Next, categorize items by type, size, and possibly by holiday.  Most people find it helpful to separate birthday wrap from Christmas wrap.  Next, if you feel you need more supplies for upcoming events, buy them now, and add those to your gift wrap supplies collection.

Decide on the right storage product for your needs

The gift storage product you use will depend on how much you have and the location where you would like to store the supplies.  Sometimes a clear plastic lidded bin, a basket or fabric bin on a shelf or in a cabinet, or a long underbed box is all that is needed.  For larger collections, you may want a gift wrap cart, a back of the door wall rack, or a hanging gift wrap organizer.  Smaller boxes like this card keeper can be used to store greeting cards.  Ribbon can be stored in ribbon boxes or hung on the wall like this hobby hanger ribbon organizer.

Once you have all of your gift wrapping supplies organized in one place, you will find it much less stressful to prepare for special events, holidays and birthdays, making the gift-giving experience even more enjoyable.

By | 2017-10-07T19:20:53+00:00 December 13th, 2017|gifts, Holiday, organizing, storage, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Ways to Display & Organize Holiday Cards

Ways to Display & Organize Holiday Cards TitleWays to Display & Organize Holiday Cards

During the holiday season, greeting cards arrive in many mailboxes.  The recipient then needs to decide what to do with these cards.  Some display them for a while, and then may keep, recycle or toss the cards after the holidays.  Deciding what to do with holiday greeting cards is a personal choice.  If you decide to display or store the cards as keepsakes, there are several display and storage options available.

Holiday Card Display Ideas

On a mantle

Around a doorway, hanging from garland, ribbon, or tape

Hanging from a stairway bannister clipped to garland or ribbon

A metal wreath greeting card holder

A white wooden wreath greeting card holder

A rustic wooden wreath greeting card holder

On hanging ribbon with cards attached using clothes pins

On a wire tabletop tree

Along a twine hanging organizer with clothes pin clips

On an Umbra hang it photo display frame

On strips of cork board

On a bulletin board or a magnetic board

On a refrigerator door

No matter how decorative or simple a choice you make, there are countless ways to display and organize your holiday cards.  Keep in mind there are many do-it-yourself options with supplies readily available at arts and craft stores.

Storage & Organization of Cards After the Holidays

When the holidays are done, carefully consider the next home for your greeting cards.  You may want to keep all of them as keepsakes, or only save those with special meaning.  If you are leaning toward a minimalist lifestyle, you may want to recycle or donate them to be reused as craft supplies by a local daycare centers, elementary schools or community groups.

For keepsake cards, a card storage box like this will allow you to organize the cards.  This box is also helpful for organizing new cards that you’re planning to send. Other types of lidded memory boxes or keepsake boxes can also work well for storing received cards.

Remember to verify the current addresses of all holiday cards that you received to keep your card sending list up to date for the next holiday season.  Having the a display system and storage containers in place will help to keep your home clutter-free in the new year.

By | 2017-10-07T19:47:16+00:00 December 6th, 2017|decorations, greeting cards, Holiday|0 Comments