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.

17 Reasons to Organize Your Kitchen

17 Reasons to Organize Your Kitchen Title

17 Reasons to Organize Your Kitchen

Many of my blog posts are about how to get organized in various areas.  Today, I’d like to explore WHY to get organized.  Let’s talk about your kitchen, one of the most high traffic areas of your home.  WHY will an organized kitchen help lower stress and save you time and money?

17 Reasons to Organize Your Kitchen

1. Organizing creates open spaces and improved functionality in all areas of the kitchen.

2. Recipes become easier to access.

3. Ingredients can be found faster in your fridge, pantry or cabinets.

4. Organized countertops create more space for chopping and mixing ingredients.

5. The cooking process moves more smoothly with easy to access pots, pans, cooking utensils and appliances.

6. Meal planning can be streamlined if you can quickly do an inventory of your kitchen before writing a meal plan and going grocery shopping.

7. Dishwashing can be faster with organized cabinets resulting in a better process for unloading the dishwasher.

8. Setting the table can be easier with better organized drawers and cabinets.

9. Packing lunches will be simpler with snacks and other lunch ingredients better organized.

10. You will save time on your morning routine with a coffee station that contains the coffee machine, cups and coffee all in one place.

11. Less stuff means less items to store and maintain.

12. You’ll spend less time searching for items in your kitchen.

13. You will save money by not re-buying items you already own, but cannot find.

14. You’ll reduce cleaning time with organized kitchen cleaning supplies and fewer items on your counters.

15. Mail will become easier to process mail with an organized drop zone.

16. An organized kitchen drop zone also means no more lost keys or wallets.

17. A kitchen charging station can keep your phones, tablets and computers charged and prevent them from getting lost.

By | 2017-02-27T13:16:29+00:00 March 22nd, 2017|kitchen, organizing, pantry, recipes|0 Comments

6 Bathroom Items to Declutter

6 Bathroom Items to Declutter Title

6 Bathroom Items to Declutter

Bathrooms are often the smallest rooms in a home and can easily become cluttered with many toiletries and other items. Here are 6 common bathroom items that can be decluttered or reduced in number to open up space in your bathroom.

  • Travel soaps, shampoos and lotions from hotel stays.  Keep only what you will use, and donate the extras to a homeless shelter.
  • Any type of hair or beauty product that you tried for a short time but no longer use.
  • Expired bottles of sunscreen.  Generally sunscreens remain effective for 3 years from the date of manufacture.  Many sunscreen containers have expiration dates.
  • Make-up that has expired. Expiration dates exist because makeup is prone to bacterial contamination, discoloration and drying out.  Some items such as mascara should be used within 3-6 months, other cosmetics such as lipstick should be used within 2 years.  If you have owned any makeup product for more than 2 years, it is time to discard it.
  • Excess cosmetic bags, the ones that often come for free with a beauty product purchase.  If you’re not using it, it may be best to give it away.
By | 2017-02-21T12:53:56+00:00 March 15th, 2017|Bathroom, declutter, Donations, makeup, small spaces|0 Comments

How Getting Organized Can Cut Down on Chore Time

How Getting Organized Can Cut Down on Chore Time Title

How Getting Organized Can Cut Down on Chore Time

Saving time is one of the greatest benefits of getting organized.  Household chores particularly take up a lot of free time.  Here are some ways getting organized can cut down on chore time.

Doing Laundry

To save time doing laundry, put all dirty socks in a mesh lingerie wash bag before washing.  All socks will remain together and you will save time searching for socks during the folding process.

By having multiple laundry baskets sorted by lights and darks or by family member, it will be quicker to wash and put away laundry.

Organizing dressers and closets and creating a place for all clothing will make it much easier to put away clothes.

Organizing linen closets allows you to make beds, set out towels and put away linens faster.

Cooking & Meal Preparation

An organized pantry and fridge saves you time when searching for ingredients while cooking meals or packing lunches.

Grocery Shopping

An organized kitchen makes it simpler to make a grocery list, shop and unload groceries.

Washing Dishes

One way to save time unloading the dishwasher is to adjust the location of frequently washed items.  If you place the cups, glasses, plates, bowls and utensils that are used daily in the drawers and cabinets closest to your dishwasher, you will reduce the number of steps needed to unload the dishwasher, saving you time.

Cleaning Kitchens

Placing cleaning caddies under the sink or in a broom closet will help you to contain and find all cleaning supplies, saving you time.

Cleaning Bathrooms

Storing bathroom cleaning supplies in another organized cleaning caddy saves time searching for the right supplies.  Using trays on the bathroom counter can save time when you need to clear the counters for cleaning.

Picking up Toys

Setting up organized playrooms and with labeled containers and a home for each toy makes toy clean-up quicker and easier for children.

Car Washing

Having car washing supplies organized in your garage makes the car washing process run smoothly.

Doing Yard Work

Organized yard tools and garden tools allow you to promptly find what you need to get the yard work done quickly.

Decluttering When Downsizing

Decluttering When Downsizing title

Decluttering When Downsizing

There are several steps to decluttering when downsizing.  As I mentioned in last week’s blog, “Preparing to Downsize,” work through one room at a time, in small increments of time.  Unless under a tight time frame, declutter for just 2 to 3 hours a day so it won’t become too exhausting or overwhelming.

Begin decluttering the storage areas first.  Items in attics, basements and garages have often not been used in a long time.  These are usually the quickest and easiest items to part with.

Prioritize all other rooms and work through one room at a time.  Starting with guest rooms or other rooms you may not have in your new place is a good idea.  You will eventually whittle it down to just the rooms you plan to have in your new space, for example, just the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen areas will remain.

Here are some areas & items to declutter when downsizing:


Purge your closets and dressers of any clothing that doesn’t fit, is out of style, or you haven’t worn in the past year.  Then narrow it down to your favorite clothes that will reasonably fit in your new bedroom.


Remove excess toiletries, expired medications, anything you haven’t used recently, that can easily be replaced, or will not be used in your new home.


Reduce the number of place settings, remove appliances you haven’t used in the past 6 months, narrow down pots, pans, glasses, etc. to just enough for your new lifestyle.


Keep just enough towels and sheets for your needs (2 to 3 sets per person).


If you are not going to read certain books again, sell or give them away.  You can always use a kindle, library, or re-purchase a book at a low cost if you really need it again.

Old Media

Part with media you do not use such as audio tapes, CDs, film, video tapes, and DVDs.  If any of these are home movies, give them to a family member or have them digitized so they can be watched.

Photo Collections

Keep your favorite photos and give the others to family members and/or scan the photos.

Items from Old Hobbies

Tennis rackets, golf clubs, bowling balls, painting supplies, sewing supplies; if you don’t plan to continue with a hobby, give these items away.

Current Hobby Supplies

If you do have a hobby you plan to continue, still minimize your hobby supplies to an amount that will fit in your new place.  For example, perhaps you sew, but can only fit one bin of fabric in your new closet, keep your favorite fabrics and give away or sell the rest.


Sell or give away all furniture you won’t be taking with you.  Measure all of your remaining furniture to make sure it will fit in your new place.

Once you’ve moved to your new space, begin unpacking in an organized way.  If you’ve done a thorough declutter before moving, you will have a lot less to unpack.  You may still find that not everything fits into the smaller space, and few more items may need to go, but your overall move will be so much easier if you declutter first.

Preparing to Downsize

Preparing to Downsize title

Preparing to Downsize

If you’ve decided that it is time to downsize, there are several steps to work through this process.   I often work with organizing clients in the midst of downsizing or rightsizing.  Here are some things to consider as you shift from a large home to a smaller space.

The Benefits of Downsizing

First, consider the many benefits of moving to a smaller space.  Perhaps you will be closer to family members, there will be less space to clean, less space to maintain, and less or no yard work.  The costs for some utilities may be lower.  You may be in a safer environment in a space that is easier to navigate.  With less space and less stuff to manage, you will find more time to spend doing the things you enjoy.

Decide on a Time-Frame

Getting to that place is a life changing event, it may not be easy, but it will be worth it.  Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to downsize, consider the time-frame.  How quickly you want or need to move, and what are the low stress steps to getting you there?

The Start of a New Chapter in Your Life

Once the time-frame is set, you can begin to think about this new chapter in your life. What will you want to bring with you and what can you part with?

Take an Inventory of Your Home

Walk through each room in your home, look in every closet and drawer to get an inventory of what you own.    If there are any items your family or friends may want, offer those things to them now.

Determine Valuables You Want to Sell

If there are furniture pieces or valuable belongings you’d like to sell, work with an estate sale company, or perhaps use Craigslist, Facebook groups or online neighborhood message boards to sell those items.

Designate a Space for Donations

Set aside one space or room to gather any possible donations, and be ready to call a charity to pick those up, or make a trip to a nearby donation center once you’ve decluttered your home.

Take One Room at a Time

Work through the decluttering process one room at a time.  Unless under a tight time frame, declutter for 2 to 3 hours a day so it won’t be too overwhelming or exhausting.  Next week, I will discuss specific areas and items to declutter when downsizing.

By | 2017-02-14T11:45:04+00:00 February 22nd, 2017|downsizing, empty nest, Moving, senior, Senior Downsizing|0 Comments

10 Meal Planning Tips to Save Time and Money

10 Meal Planning Tips to Save Time and Money title

10 Meal Planning Tips to Save Time & Money

Organized meal planning can help you in many ways.  You can save time and money by making fewer trips to the grocery store, and being able to easily access your recipes and ingredients.  Dinner time is a particularly hectic time for most families. These tips and resources can help you streamline your meal planning process.

Organize Recipes

Declutter old cookbooks and recipes you dislike. Gather recipes in an organized way using a recipe rolodex, binders, folders or flagged cookbook pages.  If you prefer digital recipes, scan your favorites, or set up organized digital folders or online bookmarks.

Use Digital Recipe Apps

All Recipes

Big Oven


Designate a Recipe Area

Create just one area to go to when you need a recipe.  This can be in your kitchen, dining room, somewhere near the kitchen, or on your laptop or tablet.

Involve Your Family in Meal Planning  

If you feel overwhelmed, you can delegate a part of meal planning to another family member as a chore.  Some chores that children can help with are selecting recipes, searching the kitchen for ingredients, writing the grocery list, gathering coupons, checking the weekly grocery sales, assisting you with grocery shopping, or unloading the groceries.  If you give other family members ownership in these activities, it can help build teamwork skills.

Use a Shared Calendar 

Use a shared family wall calendar or a shared online calendar.  This will help track your family’s schedule around dinner time to determine if there will be time to cook and eat a full meal.  Knowing your family’s schedule can help you plan for days when you need to eat on the go, have a crockpot meal ready, or eat leftovers.   Choosing nights for dinner out can also be a part of your meal planning.

Take an Inventory of Ingredients

Once meals are chosen, check your kitchen for the ingredient and add anything you do not have to your grocery list.

Monitor Grocery Store Sales

For more savings, plan your meals while looking at the current week’s grocery sales.  Choose meals containing ingredients that are on sale that week.

Make a Grocery List

Have notepad or a dry erase board on the fridge or wall so you can easily add items to the grocery list.

Collect Paper Coupons

Clip coupons from your Sunday paper, and use a coupon organizer or a 3-ring binder with baseball card holder insert pages to organize your paper coupons.

Use Apps & Websites to Help with Grocery Shopping & Coupons

Apps such as Grocery IQ can help with your shopping, and websites such as coupons.com or southernsavers.com can provide you with printable coupons or details on grocery store discounts.

How to Manage Mail

How to Manage Mail title

How to Manage Mail

In my experience, the two places that many of my home organizing clients struggle with are managing laundry chores and managing incoming mail.  Although the act of opening a letter seems simple, there are so many decisions that go into tackling incoming mail that it is not uncommon to become overwhelmed.  Mail arrives almost daily, so it is a constant in every home.  Here are my tips for managing incoming mail.

Designate 1 person to sort the mail daily

This person can cull junk mail and then place mail that must be read someplace where the recipient can see it, open it, and follow-up with it.

Always open the mail in the same place

With my home organizing clients, sometimes small piles of mail end up in various rooms of the house because that’s where it was opened.  Designate one place as your home mail sorting station.  I suggest this be near an entry doorway or in a home office, if that’s where you usually pay bills and respond to mail.

Have these 3 items near where you open the mail

  • A trash can
  • A recycle bin
  • A shredder

Take steps to stop junk mail

  • Go to the Direct Marketing Association  to request to be removed from marketing and mailing lists.
  • Contact Catalog Choice to request to be removed from certain catalog mailing lists.
  • Visit OptOutPrescreen to be removed from credit card offer mailing lists, or call 1-888-5OPT-OUT to request removal.
  • Cancel subscriptions to newspapers and magazines you no longer read.

Sort mail by person or type of task

Each piece of mail has an action associated with it, so create specific mail inboxes or folders for each family member. You can also separate the mail by tasks such as “to pay” or “to read”.

Create a “to file” area

Have a “to file” folder or inbox for important papers that you want to keep in a filing system.  Routinely bring these papers to your filing cabinet.

Check mail regularly

Get into the habit of checking your mail daily.  Schedule a day to pay the bills, file away papers, and respond to any other mail.  Organizing mail is an ongoing process and it must be dealt with on a routine basis.  I hope these tips make it easier for you keep the mail under control.

By | 2017-01-31T17:15:18+00:00 February 8th, 2017|mail, Paper Management|0 Comments

6 Steps to Master Bedroom Organization

6 Steps to Master Bedroom Organization title

6 Steps to Master Bedroom Organization

Keeping a master bedroom organized can sometimes be a challenge, especially if two people are sharing the room.  The master bedroom should be a relaxing retreat from the chaos of your day.   Here are some tips to help keep your master bedroom better organized.

1. Assess the mess  

Look at the master bedroom and determine what items are making it disorganized.  Is it unpacked luggage, overflowing laundry, bathroom items, books, mail?  Once you determine the types of items that are piling up, consider ways to better store and organize those things.

2. Move things to other rooms  

Quickly gather up items that belong in other rooms and move them to those areas.  You can eventually create a storage space for those things in their designated room.  For example, create an inbox for mail in a kitchen or office,  make space on a shelf for towels in a linen closet.

3. Create separate spaces  

If you share your master bedroom, I recommend giving a side of the room to each person, if the layout allows.  For example, if you sleep on the left side of the bed, place your dresser and other belongings on the left side of the room.  This will make the bedroom more functional, and give responsibility to each person for one side or the other.

4. Organize the nightstands

Add a tray to the nightstand to collect items that regularly pile up on it.  If you read in bed, limit the number of books and magazines that will reasonably fit on the nightstand, add a magazine file to hold your current reading materials.

5. Declutter dressers and closets seasonally

Often, master bedrooms become cluttered with clothing.  If closets and dressers overflow, it is hard to keep things organized.  I suggest sorting and purging your clothing collection seasonally (2 to 4 times a year depending on your climate).

6. Manage Laundry

Determine how you’d like to store dirty laundry: in a bag, a basket or a hamper (or more than one if you prefer to sort before washing).  If possible, store the dirty laundry container in the closet, bathroom, or by the doorway, some distance from the bed.  Try to fold clean laundry in your laundry room or another room so that your master bedroom doesn’t become cluttered with clothes.  Once folded, immediately put away the clothing.

By | 2017-01-31T15:28:18+00:00 February 1st, 2017|Bedroom, declutter, master bedroom|4 Comments

Conquering Kitchen Counter Clutter

Conquering Kitchen Counter Clutter Title

 Conquering Kitchen Counter Clutter

Kitchen counters are often a magnet for clutter.   Many times, a kitchen counter or kitchen island is the first flat surface you see after you walk into a house, making it easy to be a dumping ground for a variety of things.  Since the kitchen is a high traffic area and a gathering space, non-kitchen items also tend to land on kitchen counters.

How to Reduce Kitchen Counter Clutter

Assess what is landing on the counter

Gather up everything on the counter and separate into 2 categories: non-kitchen items and kitchen items.

Look at the non-kitchen items and ask yourself, “Does this item have a home in another room?” If it does, move it to that room. Cutter often arises because things do not have a permanent home.

Create other homes for non-kitchen items

Create a storage space for paper such as mail, coupons, school papers, magazines and newspapers. This could be in another area of the kitchen or in another room.  Creating a drop zone for these types of items helps to reduce clutter.  Use desktop file boxes, magazine boxes, baskets, hanging wall organizers or wall pockets to contain paper.

Other types of non-kitchen items found on counters may be pens, keys, wallets, sunglasses, phones, cords and other digital devices.  Continue to create homes for these items using a key hook, a pen cup, a charging station, and place these on a small table, tray or shelf in the kitchen or another room near the most used doorway.

Declutter kitchen cabinets, drawers and pantry

Once non-kitchen items have been removed from the counter, it is time to declutter all cabinets, drawers and the pantry to create more storage space.  Remove items you no longer use or need, and then make homes for any kitchen related items that have cluttered the counter.

Find a home for most of your kitchen items inside cabinets or pantries.  For appliances that aren’t used daily, make space in a cabinet, shelf, pantry or even a closet or another room to store those items.  I’ve seen lesser used kitchen appliances stored in laundry rooms, mud rooms, garages and hall closets.

Use space saving kitchen storage items

  • Trays
  • Cake stands
  • Tiered baskets
  • Under cabinet baskets
  • Hanging baskets inside cabinet doors
  • Hooks inside cabinet doors

Keep on top of regular chores in the kitchen

Put away all groceries as as soon as you return from shopping.  If a regularly used grocery item doesn’t have a home, make one.

Wash dishes and load and unload the dishwasher on a regular basis to prevent dirty dishes from piling up and adding to the clutter.

Regularly clear and wipe down counters after preparing meals.

Get into the habit of spending 10 to 15 minutes at the end of each night putting everything away and cleaning up the kitchen to prepare for tomorrow.

If you need assistance in decluttering and organizing your kitchen, please contact On Task Organizing at nancy@ontaskorganizing.com or 919-561-0885 to schedule a free phone consultation to discuss your needs.  On Task Organizing offers hands-on organizing and do-it-yourself consultations in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, and virtual organizing services via Skype or Facetime to all areas.

By | 2017-01-18T13:41:09+00:00 January 25th, 2017|kitchen, organizing, pantry, Paper Management, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Organizing for Pets

organizing for pets title

Organizing for Pets

Organizing for pets, most commonly dogs or cats, is a very frequent need for my home organizing clients.  Although some pets may be small, there are many items needed to care for them, and those things need to be organized.  If you have a pet, or a preparing to welcome one into your home, consider organizing in these areas:

Feeding Area

Set up a place to store bags and boxes of pet food.  This may be on a bin or shelf in a pantry, or in a rolling pet food container on the floor.

Create a space for pet bowls with a placemat underneath, perhaps in the corner of a kitchen.  Be sure to set aside space in a cabinet for any extra bowls or feeding supplies.


Pets sometimes have prescriptions or need heart worm pills.  Store these items separately from human medications.

Grooming Supplies

Pets need brushes, nail clippers, dental supplies, shampoos and more.  I suggest a portable caddy to hold these types of items.  Place this in the room where you most often use these items, maybe under the bathroom or kitchen sink.

Cleaning Supplies

If you have a pet, especially a puppy or kitten, you may need to clean floors, carpets and upholstery often, so I suggest another portable caddy for these cleaning supplies.

Pet Toys

Determine which room your pet plays in the most often, then place a basket or bin on the floor to store your pet’s toys.

Outdoor Pet Toys

Some pets such as dogs may also need a storage area for outdoor toys.  Place a bin or bucket on in your yard, patio, garage or deck to hold these items.

Vet Records

It is important to keep track of veterinary records, vaccination records and licenses.  Create a binder or folder for your pet’s records.

Pet Beds

If your pet uses a bed, decided which room you’d like to place it in.  Rearrange furniture as needed so this doesn’t become a tripping hazard.

Dog Walking Station

If you walk a dog, it is a good idea to set up a dog walking station near the door, or in a mudroom.  Use hanging hooks and baskets for items such as leashes and pet waste bags.  Place this near your own items that you’d need on a walk, such as keys, sunglasses, sunblock, an umbrella, sneakers and jackets.

Pet Waste

If you have an indoor cat, placement and set up of the litter boxes can be challenging.  If you have pet doors or the proper layout, litter boxes can be placed in garages, basements, laundry rooms, mudrooms or extra bathrooms.  Remember that you’ll need space for trash bags, disinfectant sprays and new litter bags in this area as well.

Traveling Pet Supplies

Consider storage of pet crates and other travel items like seat covers, blankets and harnesses, if you take your pet on trips with you.  Often, you can create space on a garage shelf for these things.

Pet organization is not just for dogs and cats, even my family’s hamster needs a storage bin for food, another for toys and folder for vet records.  No matter the size of your pet, think about creating a better organized area for pet supplies to make it easier to care for your pet.

By | 2017-01-17T15:36:46+00:00 January 18th, 2017|organizing, pets|0 Comments

Tech Tools to Save Time

tech tools to save time title

Tech Tools to Save Time

In this busy world, technology can greatly help you better manage your time.  Here are some ways digital tools and mobile applications can help you manage both your personal and business life.

Digital Calendars

These allow you to manage your schedules, share events, invite others to events, and help you to keep track of your daily tasks.  These can also be accessed on tablets or smart phones, giving you a portable schedule that you can access and change at any time.



Google Calendar

Smart Phones 

Many standard applications found on smart phones such as contact lists, calendars, to-do lists, timers and alarm clocks can all help with time management.

Productivity Apps

Many productivity applications are available to help manage to-do lists for teams and individuals, here are some options.


Remember the Milk

Toodle Do





Online Chore Charts

Here are some options for ways technology can help manage your family’s chores.

Chore Monster

Chore Buster

My Job Chart

Online Grocery Shopping Tools

Many grocery stores offer online ordering and curbside delivery.  Check with your local grocery store about this service.   These apps can also help with meal planning and grocery lists.

Plan to Eat

Cook Smarts


Budgeting Apps

Here are applications that help with managing your budget and monitoring your finances.

YNAB (You Need a Budget)


Online Banking & Automatic Bill Payment

Check with your bank about online banking which gives you the ability to check your balance and account statements, and the option to pay bills online.  Many companies offer online bill payment for utilities and other recurring bills.  Check each company’s website to see if you can login and pay bills online or set up automatic withdrawal.  Online payments can save you time writing checks, mailing bills, and waiting for paper statements to arrive in the mail.

As with all electronic applications, it takes some trial and error to find the exact tool that will work best for you.  I suggest trying out applications that appeal to you, and if you find one isn’t working, keep testing others until you find the app that meets your needs.

By | 2016-12-13T22:12:44+00:00 January 11th, 2017|productivity, technology, Time Management|2 Comments

Car Organizing Tips

car organizing tips title

Car Organizing Tips

Keeping your car organized can be simpler if you can create the habit of cleaning it out on a regular basis.  Having the right storage supplies in your car can help you to maintain a clean and organized interior.

Here are some items that can help keep your car better organized:

  • A trash container. This can simply be an empty bag, but using a plastic cereal dispenser with a lid can make it much neater.  The important thing to remember is to empty it regularly.
  • For those who park in a garage, I suggest having a small trash can in your garage to easily dispose of the car’s trash.
  • A car phone mount works well if you’re frequently using a mobile phone in your vehicle.
  • You may want to invest in trunk organizers to better manage items in the trunk.  If you’re often moving items in and out of the trunk and into your home, try storing a laundry basket inside the trunk to hold shopping bags and groceries.
  • For organizing items in the door pockets or glove box, consider a wedge organizer.
  • For children, use small plastic baskets or caddies to hold their toys, coloring books, and other items.
  • It is a good practice to store bottled water and emergency food such as energy bars in your car.
  • Be prepared for weather changes with an ice scraper, umbrella, and possibly an extra jacket or change of clothes.  Store these in a bin or bag in the trunk.

By making a list of what you need and use frequently in your car, and then creating a place for all of these items, it will be much easier to remain organized.   Making a habit of emptying the car of trash and non-essential items on a regular basis will help to eliminate clutter inside your car.

By | 2016-12-13T22:11:12+00:00 January 4th, 2017|car, organizing, vehicle|2 Comments

How to Prepare for an Organizing Session

how to prepare for an organizing session title

How to Prepare for an Organizing Session

Many people ask me, “What do I need to do before you come over?”  In response to that question, I’ve written this article to let you know what you do and do not need to do prior to your first home organizing session.


Discuss with your family:  Before a professional organizer arrives to help reorganize your home, please discuss the process with the rest of your family.  It helps if you know your family’s wishes for reorganizing certain spaces, and also if there are any spaces that they deem “off-limits” to reorganizing.

Sleep well the night before:  The process of organizing your belongings can be emotionally draining, you will be making many decisions, and it is best if you are well-rested.

Dress casually: During home organizing sessions, we will be moving items around and possibly kicking up dust.  I suggest you wear something comfortable that you don’t mind getting dirty.  This is extremely important for garage, attic and basement organizing sessions.

Eat breakfast or lunch:  Whether a morning or afternoon session, make sure you’ve recently eaten.  It is important that you are well fueled to best tackle the organizing process.

Reserve this time only for organizing: Do not schedule any work, calls or visitors during the scheduled organizing session.  Eliminate as many distractions as possible to make the most of the time.

Arrange for childcare:  Unless we’re organizing your child’s space, it is best to have your children at school, daycare, camp, or being watched by a babysitter or other family member during an organizing session.  If older children are home, please ask them to not disturb you during the organizing session.

Put dogs in another room or outside:  I love dogs, and I’m not allergic, but they do tend to get in the middle of organizing projects.  Please put them in another room or outside during the organizing session.

Do Not:

Pre-clean:  I’ve worked in various conditions and have seen it all.  Cleaning is something to do after organizing, not before.

Pre-organize:  You called an organizer for expert input and assistance, you do not need to do any pre-organizing.  It actually helps me if I can see how you actually live, and how and where items fall in your home.  If you hide it all in a closet, it will be harder to assess what needs to be organized.

Apologize for the “mess”:   I am there to help you organize it, no apologies or excuses are needed.  Life happens, and sometimes situations beyond your control can cause disorganization and clutter to arise.

Be nervous:  I am a non-judgmental and experienced professional organizer.  I know the methods and processes to help you.  I love coming up with organizational solutions and helping others.  I won’t yell at you, I am there to help you to re-gain control of your space.

By | 2016-12-28T19:53:41+00:00 December 28th, 2016|declutter, organizing, productivity, Uncategorized|0 Comments

My Best Organizing Advice

My Best Organizing Advice Blog Title

My Best Organizing Advice

Whenever I tell someone that I am a professional organizer, they often ask me for my best organizing advice.  There is no one “best way” to become or remain organized, it really does depend on each person’s learning style and lifestyle. During my 5 years as a professional organizer, I have found that the following concepts are the organizing strategies that I consider to be my best organizing advice.

Declutter first, then organize.

By removing items you no longer use or need, you will make the process of organizing and storing the remaining items so much easier.

Buy storage products after you’ve decluttered.

Before you’ve decluttered, you don’t know the size, amount or type of storage products that may be needed.  For example, it is not wise to buy 80 plastic shoe boxes if you’re going to declutter and reduce your shoe collection to 30 pairs of shoes.  Too many empty storage products can also contribute to clutter and disorganization.

Place similar items together.

It is much easier to search for an item if all similar items are located in one place.  For example, I helped an artist to organize all of her paint brushes into one storage shelf.  Before, she was wasting time and energy searching in several areas when she needed a paint brush, now she can access them quickly and easily.

Tackle one space at a time.

Although you may want to get everything organized at once, it is best to prioritize, and start small, focusing on one drawer, closet or room at a time.  Once you see progress in one area or room, you’ll feel more motivated to organize the next space.

Place items near where they will be used.

Think about the activities that take place in a room and how you move about that room. For example, if your children do homework at the dining room table, it may be helpful to keep homework supplies in a dining room hutch.

Assign a day and time on your calendar to do each task.

Setting deadlines with yourself and having each task on your schedule is the key to getting things done.

Create habits to help stay organized.

Getting and staying organized is not a one-time task.  Create new daily and weekly habits and routines in your life to keep your space and schedule organized.  For example, schedule 15 minutes at the end of each day to tidy up for the next day.

By | 2016-12-15T19:04:43+00:00 December 21st, 2016|organizing|4 Comments

Making To Do Lists

Making To Do Lists Title

Making To-Do Lists

Making to-do lists can be very beneficial to help you reach your goals.  You will be less stressed if you write your tasks down, because you can’t remember everything.  A list also helps to increase productivity and helps you to create habits and routines.  A list can be made on paper or digital devices, it really depends on your personal preference.

Paper List Making Resources

A bullet journal

A paper planner

Post-it notes

A notepad of any size

Digital List Making Resources





How to Make Lists

Focus on 1 day at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself by putting too many items on your daily to-do list.  Narrow it down to important tasks that can reasonably be done in that day.  Schedule lower priority task for other days.

Prioritize.  Make sure the most important or urgent tasks are high on your list.

Break down projects into small steps.  Add those steps to your to-do list.

Be specific.  Be very specific about what you need to do to reach your goals.

Use an action verb at the start of each task.  For example, “Pay the phone bill,” “Call Ashley,” “Write this week’s newsletter,” etc.

Divide it into more than one category, such as personal and work related tasks.

Estimate how long it will take.  If you know how long it will take, the task is easier to schedule.

Decide when you’re going to do it. Determine a day and time of day to work on each task.

Refer to it regularly.  Checking off or deleting items you’ve already completed will help give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated.

Review it at the end of the day.  Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, and move any incomplete tasks to the next day’s to-do list.

Once you find a list-making tool that works best for you, it should be easier to keep up with your daily tasks.  To-do lists are great in helping to form new habits and routines, such as achieving New Year’s Resolutions.  Be sure to review and adjust your list daily, since your tasks and priorities may vary each day.

By | 2016-12-13T22:10:17+00:00 December 14th, 2016|lists, productivity, Time Management|4 Comments

The True Cost of Clutter

the true cost of clutter title

The True Cost of Clutter

The true cost of clutter is often overlooked.  Clutter in your life can cost you in many ways including time, energy and money.  I work with many home organizing clients focusing on decluttering, and it is inspiring to see how their the overall lives change for the better after decluttering.

Here are just some ways clutter can cost you:

  • The time and energy lost while searching for things in your home.
  • The time and money lost re-buying something you already own.
  • The cost of renting a storage unit.
  • Late fees from misplaced bills.
  • Utilities being cut off from unpaid bills and reconnection charges.
  • Tax penalties due to disorganized papers.
  • Lost cash.
  • Misplaced checks.
  • Missed appointments and cancellation fees.
  • Misplaced invitations resulting in missing events.
  • Lost gift cards.
  • Not using an item before it expires, and then needing to buy it again.
  • Items being ruined because they have not been properly stored.
  • The cost of moving to and maintaining a larger home to hold all of your stuff.
  • Items that you are holding onto that could be resold.
  • Items that you are holding onto that could be donated for a tax write-off .
  • Rooms that can no longer be used as intended.
  • Strained family relationships.

These are just some of the costs of clutter.  The stress and overwhelm of living in a cluttered environment has an all encompassing effect on lives.  If you’re ready to declutter your home and want expert advice, please contact On Task Organizing for a free phone consultation.

By | 2016-10-24T20:06:21+00:00 December 7th, 2016|clutter, declutter, disorganized, family, finances, organizing|0 Comments

17 Ways to Curb Shopping

17 ways to curb shopping title

17 Ways to Curb Shopping

Frequent shopping can lead to over-spending, debt, clutter, and many negative feelings such as shame, regret, stress and overwhelm.  Many people experience a dopamine high when buying something new.  However, shopping too much can cost you money, time, energy and happiness.  Here are some ways to curb your shopping habit.

17 Ways to Curb Your Shopping Habit

  • Ask yourself, “what is my motivation for shopping, and how do I feel before, during and after shopping?”  People shop for many reasons other than necessity including dealing with low self-esteem, anxiety, tension and loneliness.  Get in touch with your own feelings around the activity of shopping to become more aware of your habits.
  • Determine if you’re a social shopper or not.  If having others around compels you to shop, shop alone.  If you find that you buy more when you’re alone, bring someone along to help you curb your spending.
  • Assess how much time you spend shopping and how much time, energy and effort these trips cost you.
  • Before shopping, take inventory of what you already have,  so you do not buy something similar to what you already own.
  • To curb shopping for clothing, reorganize your closet by category (shirts, skirts, pants, dresses, etc.) and by color.  If you realize that you already own 10 blue shirts; that knowledge may stop you from buying another one.
  • Talk to a financial advisor or credit counselor to help pay down debt and set a shopping budget.
  • Never go shopping without a list.
  • Use cash instead of debit or credit cards.
  • Track your purchases.
  • Shop when you’re in a good mood.
  • Don’t buy something just because it is on sale.  Ask yourself, “if not for the sale, would I want this?”
  • When you are about to buy something, ask yourself, “does this item have a place in my home?”.  If you do not have room for the item, you may reconsider the purchase.
  • Think about what you want to buy.  If it costs more than a certain amount,  such as $100, wait at least 24 hours before buying it.
  • If online shopping is your weakness, use online applications such as leech block to block shopping sites.
  • Unsubscribe from store and online retailer e-mails so you will not be tempted to spend.
  • Ask a friend or family member for support and to hold you accountable for your shopping habits.
  • Be aware that if regular shopping is a habit, it will take time, effort and energy to curb it.  Find activities you enjoy outside of shopping, such as visiting parks or museums, taking classes, exercising, working on a craft project or volunteering.
By | 2016-10-24T14:18:21+00:00 November 30th, 2016|finances, habits, Holiday, shopping|0 Comments

Setting Boundaries with Family About Gifts

setting boundaries with family about gifts title

Setting Boundaries with Family About Gifts

One of the most common organizing concerns of families with children is how to organize the overflow of toys.  I’ve organized many playrooms and continuously hear “The grandparents keep buying all of this stuff!” or “The kids receive so many toys as gifts that we have no place to put them all!”  During organizing sessions, I help to sort and purge through these large toy collections, creating storage for the most used items, and the families often end up donating or selling the rest.

The best way to cut the clutter is to manage the situation before the overflow of toys and other children’s gifts comes in.  This involves communication and conversation with the generous over-gifting relatives (usually grandparents, but sometimes uncles, aunts or others).  Remember that your family members cannot read minds; express your concerns before the holiday shopping season begins.

Have discussions with your family:

Remind your family that the holidays are about spending time with loved ones, and that too much stuff can cause friction in your family relationships.

Explain the physical space limitations of your home.  If your family member feels they must buy 12 gifts, perhaps make an arrangement where 2 gifts stay at your home, and the other 10 are stored at the gift-giver’s home for when the children visit.

If your family is minimalist or working toward a simpler lifestyle, communicate the reasons behind this to your family member.  Help them to understand your lifestyle and how an overflow of gifts is not in line with your family’s goals.

Set a limit to the number of gifts each child can receive.

Make gift suggestions:

Have your children create wish lists, and ask that the family member shop off of these lists.

Request practical gifts such as clothing or books, tell the gift-giver the child’s clothing sizes and favorite authors.

Suggest gifts of experiences rather than “stuff”.  Some great ideas are:

  • Movie tickets
  •  A day at the zoo
  • Museum tickets
  • Trips to sporting events
  • Concert tickets

Suggest non-tangible or edible gifts:

  • iTunes gift cards
  • Kindle books
  • Favorite foods or homemade treats
  • A donation to a college fund

Gratefully accept gifts & take action after the occassion:

If there is still over-giving after all of these discussions and suggestions, be grateful to the gift-giver.  Accept the items, but remember that you’re in control of what happens to the gifts after your family has received them.  The joy in gift giving is often in the process of shopping and then seeing the gift being opened.

After the holidays, if you feel the gift should be removed from your home for any reason, you have the the right to take any of the following actions:

  • Return the gift (if there’s a receipt).
  • Pass it on to a friend who’s child would enjoy it.
  • Donate it to charity.
  • Re-gift it to another child.
  • Sell it online or at a consignment shop.

Setting boundaries is a difficult and emotional process, and hopefully it will work for you.  Remember the holidays are about spending time with people, so enjoy your time with your family members.  If over-gifting overwhelm is still an issue in your home,  you can always contact a professional organizer for a toy decluttering session in the new year.

By | 2016-10-24T13:01:37+00:00 November 23rd, 2016|boundaries, family, Games & Toys, gifts, Holiday, parenting, Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to Help a Disorganized Family Member

How to Help a Disorganized Family Member title

How to Help a Disorganized Family Member

I frequently receive calls from people who want to help a disorganized family member.  Sometimes, one person’s disorganization leaves the rest of the family picking up, feeling frustrated and arguing about the clutter.

“My family member is disorganized, what should I do?”

This is one of the most common questions I receive.  I wish there was an easy answer, but your relative needs to see the benefits of getting organized and WANT to make a change in their life before a professional organizer can truly help them.

Here are some suggestions to help you to assist your family member:

Give them their own space

Designate  a room, or portion of a room as theirs alone to maintain and organize.  This may be difficult for you, but if they feel ownership and control in one area, it may lessen arguments.

Discuss where things should go

In common areas of the home, work with them to decide where things should go.  Some people need to be able to see everything, so try clear bins with labels to make it obvious where things should be stored.  Others need items tucked away, so adding hooks, bins and labels inside closets or cabinets may work better for them.  If all things have a home, it is easier for the person to maintain organization.

Create a clutter collection bin

Have a bin or basket where you collect their belongings at the end of each day or week, and make them responsible for returning it to their room or space.

Become an example yourself

This often works well for parents trying to influence children to be come more organized.  By getting your own personal spaces better organized, you will model how being organized can save time and lower stress.  I often find that once a parent does a major reorganization of his or her own spaces; it inspires children to get organized in their bedroom or playroom.

Suggest they contact a professional organizer 

If your family member expresses the desire to get organized, but just needs some help, they may want to contact a professional organizer for non-judgmental expert assistance.  This can reduce family disagreements during the decluttering process.   Most professional organizers, including myself, require that the person in need of organization speak with the professional organizer ahead of time, and be motivated to make a change to become more organized.  Forcing organization on anyone just doesn’t work.

Giving someone “the gift of organization” without their consent and motivation to change is like giving someone the “gift of a personal trainer” without them wanting to start an exercise program.

By | 2016-11-16T13:21:06+00:00 November 16th, 2016|declutter, disorganized, family, organizing, parenting, senior|2 Comments

Ways to Organize Makeup

Ways to Organize Makeup title

Ways to Organize Makeup

Organizing makeup and cosmetics can sometimes be challenging because of the number of small items and the variety of container sizes. One of the best ways to keep your makeup area organized is to continually discard old makeup or colors and types of cosmetics that you just never use.  If you limit your collection to those cosmetics you love and use frequently, and it will be much easier to manage.

Remember that makeup and skin care products do have expiration dates.  Expiration dates exist because makeup is prone to bacterial contamination, discoloration and drying out.  Some items such as mascara should be used within 3-6 months, other cosmetics such as lipstick should be used within 2 years.  If you have owned any makeup product for more than 2 years, it is time to discard it.

Be sure to purge any cosmetic bags and containers you do not use.  Many of these are offered free with purchases, but they often add to clutter.  Give away or donate any of these freebie bags that you don’t use.

When it comes to storing makeup, it really depends on the amount of space and location available.  I suggest storing makeup in a bathroom or bedroom near a well-lit mirror.

Here are some options for storing cosmetics in your home:

  • Use a makeup organizer and store it on a countertop, shelf or inside a deep drawer.
  • Repurpose an old vase, mug or other container to hold your brushes.
  • If you lack counter space, you may want to hang up a magnetic board, and glue magnets to the back of your cosmetics to keep them accessible and neatly displayed.

If you frequently travel, try some of these storage options:

Remember to empty your travel bags as soon as you return home from a trip so that a cosmetic item isn’t misplaced or forgotten about before it expires.  I hope these tips help you to better organize your makeup collection.  How do you store your cosmetics?  Please comment below.

By | 2016-10-24T13:01:37+00:00 November 9th, 2016|Bathroom, Bedroom, cosmetics, makeup, organizing, Organizing supplies|1 Comment