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

A Visit to The Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC

title - a visit to the scrap exchange

A Visit to The Scrap Exchange

The Scrap Exchange in Durham recently gave a tour of their space to members of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals North Carolina Chapter (NAPO-NC).  As a professional organizer, I provide donation and recycling resources to my clients.  It was wonderful to learn more about this local non-profit organization with a mission to promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse.

make art not strach signThe Scrap Exchange is located in the Lakewood Shopping Center in Durham, an area that is being revitalized.  They have an area that accepts donations, a very organized sorting area, an art gallery and a retail store.  In addition to re-selling items, they offer creative workshops and programs for individuals and groups including sewing classes and craft nights.  There’s even a design center with sewing machines, die-cut machines and more.

The Scrap Exchange also conducts outreach activities at schools and community events.  They travel with barrels full of reusable craft supplies and promote creative reuse to the community.  The Scrap Exchange also hosts birthday parties, where party attendees can create their own art in the make ‘n take craft room.

After our tour of the facility, our group of NAPO-NC organizers participated in our own make ‘n take craft time.  We all had fun being creative with the variety of materials available such as cardboard, fabric, ribbon, puzzle pieces, stickers, and old CDs and computer discs.

CD wall art

Craft supplies are not the only items The Scrap Exchange accepts for donation.  They are expanding to another building in the Lakewood Shopping Center and are now accepting clothing, furniture and more for their thrift store.  They accept donations of office supplies, gift wrap, packing materials, trophies, small electronics and more. Visit their website for a list of all materials they accept for donation.

If you are in the Durham area and have items to donate, or would like to shop or create art from reusable materials, I suggest you stop by The Scrap Exchange.  I highly recommend their group tours as well.  At the end of most organizing sessions, I fill my car with donations from my residential clients, it is wonderful to have a donation option like this in the area.

By | 2017-08-28T15:15:05+00:00 August 30th, 2017|Donations, Recycle, repurpose, retailers, Reuse, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Back to School Organizing Tools

 Back to School Organizing Tools

Back to School Organizing Tools

As you prepare to send your children back to school, there are many organizing tools that you can use in your home to make school days less chaotic.  In addition to buying school supplies, consider some of these organizing tools.

Back to School Organizing Tools

A Pantry Snack Station

In your pantry, put after school snacks on a low shelf or in a bin or basket.  This will allow your children to quickly find an after school snack.

A Fridge Bin for Lunch Items

For refrigerated items, set-up a containers like these Fridge Binz to hold lunch making supplies and refrigerated snacks.

Hooks for Backpacks & Jackets

Give each child a sturdy hook to hold backpacks.  Also, supply enough hooks for jackets.  Make sure these hooks are placed low enough for young children to reach.  Labeling the hooks with your child’s name will also help give ownership to your child.

Shelves or Bins for Shoes & Hats

Create a storage area for other items such as shoes and hats.  Hats can hang on hooks or, be placed on shelves, in cubbies or bins.  Place a shoe shelf or bin or basket near the most frequently used door to further streamline the before school morning routine.

An Inbox for Each Child

Place a small tray or bin to act as your child’s “inbox,” for the small items they bring to and from school daily such as lunch money.  If they bring electronics to and from school, set up a charging station for phones and laptops.

A School Paper Wall Pocket or Folder

Set up a labeled wall pocket or folder for papers about school activities and for school forms to be signed by parents.

An Activity Tracker on the Wall

Use a bulletin board, magnetic board or dry erase board on a wall at home to keep track of activities and events.

Calendars or Planners

Give your child access to a planner, a shared family wall calendar or a shared digital calendar to keep track of times and dates of school holidays, after school activities, family events & more.

A Homework Station

Designate one space as the homework station.  Have regularly used school supplies such as pens, pencils, calculators, tape, scissors and rulers nearby.  Keep this surface clear so there’s enough space to do homework.  This should be located in an area with limited distractions.

By setting up organizing tools like these at home, your child’s before school and after school routines will be less stressful.  They will be able to easily find all items they need for going to school and doing homework.  With these organzational tools in place, you will also prevent losing important school papers or missing a school event or after-school activity.

How to Pack for Summer Camp

How to Pack for Summer Camp Title

How to Pack for Summer Camp

As your child goes away to summer camp, there are many things you need to get organized first to make his or her trip run smoothly.  Much of this can be done in advance to reduce stress.

Tips to Prepare for Summer Camp

Review the Camp’s List of Items Needed

Most camps will give you a general list of what to bring and what not to bring.  Check this list, and gather all items in one place, this will be a staging area for packing.  As for the items you do not have, create a shopping list, and plan a time to shop for these items weeks or days before the camp starts.

Plan Clothing for Camp

Depending on how long your child will be away, and if laundry facilities are available, determine how many changes of clothes should be packed.  Remember to pack extras in case they get wet or dirty.  Have your child try on all of this clothing to make sure everything fits.  If needed, make a list and plan a clothes shopping trip beforehand.  Check the weather forecast for the week of camp as you pack up.

Label Everything

From sunblock to swimsuits, label it all!  You can use permanent marker or fabric labels for clothing.

Separate Items by Category & then Choose Storage Containers

Depending on the method of travel, choose what is needed for this trip.  You may want storage trunks, luggage bags, toiletry bags, shower caddies, wet swimsuit bags and laundry bags.  Separate your child’s items by category and then choose the right size storage containers.

Involve your Child in Packing

After everything is purchased, labeled, and separated into the staging area where you’ve been keeping “bring to camp” items, and you have all storage containers ready, involve your child in the packing process.  This way, they will know what is in each container, where to find it, and (hopefully) how to pack it up at the end of camp.

Schedule Time to Prepare for Camp

Sometimes it feels like preparing for camp may take almost as long as the camp itself!  Remember to schedule time in your calendar well in advance to do these tasks: checking the list, trying on clothing, shopping for clothes, shopping for other essentials like toiletries, labeling everything, gathering the correct storage containers, and packing with your child.

Make a Final Review

Review the list one last time for anything you may have forgotten.  Review camp rules with your child before they leave.  Also, review their “packing up” plan for the last day of camp.

Remember to Schedule Unpacking Time

It is very important to schedule a time to unpack, put everything away, and clean laundry and other items. This will prevent stagnant piles, items becoming moldy, and disorganization going forward.

By | 2017-07-04T15:06:05+00:00 July 5th, 2017|packing, summer, Travel, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Creating an Organized Study Space

Creating an Organized Study Space title

Creating an Organized Study Space

Creating an organized study space is very important for all students, whether you’re in elementary school or college.  All students need a space to work on homework without distraction, and with school supplies nearby.  Here are some things to consider when setting up an organized study space.

Choose an area most conducive to your work style

Some people work best in the middle of everything such as at a kitchen or dining room table, while others prefer a quiet place such as an office or corner of a bedroom.

Consider the sounds around your space

If you work best with background music or white noise in your study space, add that to your area.  However, if you need silence, try to set your study space up in the quietest place possible.

Check the size and height of your workspace surface

Make sure the workspace table or desk is large enough for you, and that it is the correct height.

Select a chair that works for you

Choose an ergonomically supportive and comfortable chair that is the right size for the desk or table.  Make sure the chair doesn’t distract you from working, for example rolling chairs sometimes distract younger children.

Provide the correct lighting

Consider the natural light in the your study space.  Make sure you have enough light, and that sunlight doesn’t hit your computer screen or eyes.  Adjust window coverings as needed.  Also, make sure you have enough overhead light in the study space. Add a task lamp to help prevent eye strain.

Have study supplies within reach

Place all study supplies in a caddy, bin, drawer or shelf near your work area.  Most students need quick access to school supplies such as pens, pencils, erasers, markers, crayons, calculators, rulers, scissors, glue, tape, etc.  Give all of those items a permanent home.

Make room for technology

Be sure the study area has enough power supplies, chargers, and extension cords for electronics.  Also, provide easy access to a computer, printer and wi-fi connection in the study area.

Have reference supplies nearby

Back up office supplies such as printer paper, books and other reference materials should be near your study space as well, perhaps in a closet or cabinet in the same room.

Use wall space to keep track of homework

Keep track of homework assignments by having a magnetic board, cork board or dry erase board in the study area.  Use a hanging wall file to hold school permission forms and other papers that parents need to review.

Add a snack tray

If drinks and snacks will be consumed during homework time, have a tray available to easily bring things to and from the kitchen.

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.

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.

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

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

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

Do You Want to Leave a Legacy of Clutter?

Do you want to leave a legacy of clutter? title

Do You Want to Leave a Legacy of Clutter?

Many of my clients are in tough positions where they have lost a loved one such as a parent, grandparent or spouse who has left a legacy of clutter.  These people are grieving, and in addition to going through this very emotional time, they’ve been left with stuff.  So much stuff that they are overwhelmed and sometimes angry at the person who left them with this legacy.

No matter how old you are, ask yourself, “Do I want to leave a legacy of clutter?”  If something were to happen to you, how much stuff would you leave behind?  How much of that is useful or sentimental, and how much of that will be a burden on your loved ones?

I’ve had clients renting storage units just to hold their late parents’ belongings, or filling up their garages, spare bedrooms or bonus rooms with boxes of things that belonged to mom or dad.  These are things that the person feels nauseous looking at, and often feels angry at how much room it is taking up in their home.  They are overwhelmed at the thought of opening each box and deciding “Is this a memory worth keeping, or is this junk?”  Time and again, I’ve helped people sort through piles like this, and it is quite an emotional journey.

Ask yourself, “What kind of legacy do I want to leave my loved ones?”  Picture your grieving family members sorting through piles of papers, clothing and other belongings that you should have parted with a long time ago.  What will they think of your belongings, and what will they think about you as they plow through the clutter?  I think most of us want to leave our family with as little stress as possible.  Decluttering now, while you are able to make the decisions, is a better choice than passing on this enormous task to a loved one after you are gone.

If you feel you’re ready to take a good look at your belongings and make decisions on what kind of legacy you want to leave, you may want to contact a professional organizer for outside, non-judgmental expert assistance.  A professional organizer can help you sort through your items, and help you determine the best way to discard each item whether that be selling, donating, recycling, tossing, or giving it to a family member now.

If you are in the Raleigh area and need assistance, please contact On Task Organizing to further discuss our decluttering services.

Organizing for Teenagers

Organizing for Teenagers title

Organizing for Teenagers

While organizing an entire home for families, I often work with teenagers to get their space and time in order.  If a teenager learns organizational skills, it will help them to be better organized in college and throughout their adult life.  Most teenagers I work with need help organizing their study spaces, bedrooms, bathrooms and schedules.  Here are some tips for getting organized is these areas.

Teen Study Space Organization

Designate one area to be the study space.  Depending on your home layout and your teenager’s personal preferences this could be in the bedroom, in a home office, bonus room, kitchen or dining room. A study space should contain:

  • A spacious work surface, such as a table or desk.
  • A comfortable chair.
  • Power outlets and charging cables for computers,  tablets or smart phones used for studying.
  • Access to regularly used school supplies such as pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, calculators & scissors.
  • A place to put the teen’s backpack.
  • An organized home drop zone near the most frequently used door can also help your teen’s school papers and mobile devices stay organized.

Teen Bedroom Organization

Getting out the door on time in the morning and the task of managing laundry can sometimes be a challenge for teenagers.  Add the following items to the bedroom to improve organization:

  • An alarm clock (or two). I suggest a second alarm clock placed across the room to encourage the teen to get out of bed to turn it off.
  • A dresser with drawers designated for each type of clothing.
  • A closet with clothing organized into categories such as “school clothes,” “dress clothes,” “sports uniforms,” etc.
  • Laundry baskets or hampers.
  • A shelf, bin or basket for “clerty” clothes.  These are clothes that may have been worn for a short time, but are still clean enough to be worn again before washing.

Teen Bathroom Organization

Whether the bathroom is shared or is only used by the teen, here are some items that will help keep it organized:

Teen Schedule Organization

Managing a busy schedule of school assignments, extra-curricular activities, social events and chores can be challenging.  Here are some planning tools that can help your teen keep an organized schedule:

  • Mobile calendars on a smart phone or tablet.  Some options are Google Calendar, iCal or Outlook Calendar.
  • Setting up a shared electronic calendar for the whole family can help keep everyone organized. An app such as Cozi is a great option.
  • A paper school planner, if your teen prefers using paper.
  • A large family wall calendar either on paper, or on a dry erase board or chalk board.  This is helpful in managing chores, after-school activities, and keeping track of vacations and school holidays.

I hope some of these tips will help your teenager become better organized.  Creating a place for everything and organizing common areas first is a wonderful way to encourage better organizational habits within your entire family.

Time Management Tools

Time Management Tools title

Time Management Tools

As a professional organizer, I offer time management consultations virtually and in-person to help my clients gain better control of their schedules.  I am often asked, “What is the best time management tool?”  The answer is, “That it really varies based on the individual person.”  It really depends on your own personality and learning style.  Some people work well with only paper, others only digitally, and still others use a mix.  Here’s a look at several types of time management resources and tools.

Paper Calendars & Planners

Some people plan better on paper, so there are many options that have worked for years, and some newer products available.  A simple notepad with a written to-do list, and any type of monthly calendar or weekly or daily planner is beneficial to manage your time on paper.  Here are a some of the types of paper calendars and planners available:

Planner Pads

Passion Planner

Post-it Note Weekly Calendar

Franklin Covey Planners

Quovadis Planners

The Mom Agenda

Digital Calendars

If you prefer digital calendars, there are many available, including these:



Google Calendar

Productivity Tools

Productivity tools are other ways to help you stay on-time and on task.  These can be as simple as clock, a stop watch or kitchen timer, but there are also a couple of other timers that give you visual or auditory cues on the passage of time.

The Time Timer

The Pomodoro Timer

Productivity Apps

If you prefer to use digital applications to manage your to-do list and productivity, there are numerous options available, such as these:


Remember the Milk

Toodle Do



It takes some trial and error to find the time management tool or tools that are right for you.  One very important reminder is that tasks on your to-do list, either paper or digital, must be connected to a date and time on your calendar so you can be sure they get completed.  Take some time to try out the different tools listed above to see what will work best for you.

This information was part of a program on “Effective Time Management” that I presented at Wake County Libraries this month.

Also, check out these other blogs on Time Management:

8 Ways to Save Time Each Morning

7 Smart Ways to Make Exercise Happen

By | 2016-10-24T13:01:38+00:00 July 13th, 2016|Time Management, Uncategorized|2 Comments

Tween Bedroom Organization

Tween Bedroom Organization title

Tween Bedroom Organization

As children grow, their interests change, and their bedroom should grow with them as well, but this is often not the case. Between the ages of 9 and 12, children are usually ready to shed their “little kid” toys and desire a room more suited to their current age. I’ve worked with several families in situations where the children have been told to clean their room, but cannot because too many toys from the past are taking over their space. When the parent and children are ready to part with old toys to make room for new interests, a Professional Organizer can help quickly and efficiently complete this task.

When organizing a tween’s bedroom, I always have both the parent and child present. If this process is done without the tween’s input, it will be very hard for him or her to keep the room organized, and it will most likely cause emotional turmoil between the parent and child. At first, I discuss the goals of both the child and the parents, so we can be sure that they all have the same goals and ideas for the room reorganization project. Sometimes, there are compromises to be made, but once we all agree on a plan and end goal, we begin with hands-on organizing.

I usually work in 4 hour sessions to organize a tween’s room, although some spaces may take more or less time depending on the amount of items, size of the room, and the speed at which both the parent and tween make decisions. During the session, I remind the tween that by saying goodbye to old toys and clothes, they are making room for new experiences. I also discuss how much easier it will be to keep their room neat and tidy when they are done. Some things to consider in a tween’s room are creating areas for homework, storing video games, playing with toys, and working with crafts or other activities. We also work on storing clothing so it is easy to get ready in the morning, and we review the process of moving laundry in and out of the room on a regular basis.

My clients always unearth things they forgot about, lost, or sentimental keepsake items. I help them to decide which items should be donated, given to a friend or relative, sold, recycled or tossed. Then I suggest the best ways to store the items they are keeping. By this age, most tweens are ready to part with many stuffed animals, Sesame Street toys, Disney Princess toys, and the clutter-collecting birthday party goodie bag toys and fast-food restaurant kid’s meal toys.

Following the session, the room is easier to keep clean, the parents like the decluttered look, and the tween enjoys spending time in the room because it is organized for his or her present age.

By | 2016-10-24T13:01:39+00:00 April 6th, 2016|Uncategorized|13 Comments

How to Stop Junk Mail

how to stop junk mail title page - mailboxes

How to Stop Junk Mail

Junk mail is one of the top culprits in creating paper clutter.  Most of my organizing clients are overwhelmed by the amount of junk mail that arrives each day.

Here are some tips to minimize junk mail

Go to the Direct Marketing Association  to request to be removed from marketing and mailing lists.

Visit 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 or have time to read.

To remove yourself from certain charity solicitations, you may need to contact the charity directly by calling, mailing, or e-mailing them to request removal.  Detailed information on how to do this can be found at the BBB Wise Giving Alliance

Be wary of supplying your contact information when buying items at retail stores. In addition to adding you to that store’s mailing list, they may sell their mailing lists.

Online stores often have a checkbox at checkout asking if you’d like to be placed on a mailing list.  Do not check this box, unless you’d like promotional email or snail mail from the seller.

Use an app such as Paperkarma to help you quickly photograph unwanted mail, and request to be removed from mailing lists.

To streamline the process, have a basket for unwanted junk mail in your home. Once you’ve collected a significant pile, perhaps a week’s worth, then follow some of the above tips.  Repeat weekly until you have caught the majority of the junk mail, and you have made requests to stop it.

All of these requests take time to process, but within a few months, you should see a noticeable decrease in the amount of junk mail.

By | 2016-10-24T13:01:39+00:00 January 20th, 2016|Uncategorized|2 Comments