Spice Up Your Kitchen

December 15, 2014

Well, there is no denying it now….the Holidays are almost here and traditionally this is a time when many of us do some extra entertaining and baking.

Our advice for a less stressful season in the kitchen would be to select your menus and recipes as soon as possible.  The next step would be to check your cupboard to make sure that you have all the necessary ingredients on hand.  It’s pretty annoying when you are all set to bake and find you are missing that one special spice that will make the dish unique.  So take some time soon to review your current stock of spices, check to see if they are still potent, and make sure they are well organized and accessible.

As a general rule, most ground spices will be potent up to four years.  If you are unsure how long you have had a particular spice, just use the sniff test to determine its strength.  For more information on a specific spice, check out Still Tasty’s guide.

When we organize kitchens there are two common themes we find with spices.  First is duplication: multiple containers of the same spice.  Consolidating these various containers will help free up some space.  But the reason there are multiples is because the homeowner was unable to find or see what already existed, and purchased more, which is the second theme: disorganization of the spices.

The manner in which you actually organize the spices is up to you.  It could be alphabetical, by ethnicity or by frequency of use.  Once you have a plan, and you have measured the space you have available, then you can look at the different storage options.

On a recent visit to The Container Store in Columbus, we found many many ways to store spices.  You can also find a wide selection at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and even on Amazon.  Here are some of our favorites:

Sometimes the solution is just a matter of creating another level so you can see the labels of the spices in the back row.  A Spice Shelf like this actually Spice Shelfcomes in a variety of sizes and materials, and some are even expandable.  If you don’t want to purchase one, consider using a couple of blocks of wood.

Another way to maximize your vertical space is to utilize the inside of your cupboard door or even the side of the refridgerator.  The Spice Rack pictured here

Spice Rack

is a simple and inexpensive solution for you to keep your favorite spices close at hand.

One of our favorites is this Spice Dispenser, which will hold up to twelve different spices, can be mounted under the cupboard, and dispenses the spice in 1/4 teaspoon amounts!

Spice Dispenser

With this, you could eliminate the need for measuring spoons!

For more ideas, inspiration, and even some do-it-yourself solutions, be sure to check out our Organizing Your Spices board on Pinterest.

As the Holidays approach, we both want to let you know that we are thankful to you for inviting us into your homes and offices this year through our various social media outlets or for some hands-on assistance.  We hope the tips and advice have led you to a more simple lifestyle.

Happy Holidays,

JoEllen & Muffy

PS  This post was taken from a recent Monthly Tips Newsletter; follow the link to have them delivered directly to your in-box.

Plan Ahead For Your New Year’s Resolutions

December 8, 2014

paper pileWe are approaching a time when the New Year’s Resolutions of 2014 will be reviewed.  Are you still looking for ways to improve in your office? Check out our latest newsletter and start forming some new habits today!

Have you thought about what your New Year’s resolutions will be?  For those who choose some, the second most popular choice is to become better organized!  (The first being to lose weight).  Perhaps that is why our National Association of Professional Organizisers (NAPO) chose January as Get Organized Month…

We find that our clients wish they had better control of the paper that flows in and out of their homes and offices. Mounds of paper can be daunting and it is easier to walk away from it than to tackle it!  We have some ideas about how your offices can be better organized and a great place to work.

Let’s begin by organizing your space – look around your desk area and look up as well.  Have you utilized the vertical space near your desk for shelves which can hold binders and books? Perhaps a vertical desk organizer is all you need to sort some of the papers that have ended up in stacks.  Are your pens and clips in containers or strewn all over your desktop?  Simply placing these items in containers will make for a more peaceful desk.

Mail flow is an important aspect in keeping your office less cluttered.  We recommend using “In” and “Out” boxes to keep these sorted.  Bils to be paid, reading to do, RSVPs, etc. can go in the “In” box and when they are processed and ready to be filed or mailed, utilize the “Out” box.  Be sure to recycle the junk mail right away so your incoming box does not get too full.

Develop a simple filing system which works for you!  If you are a visual person, perhaps manila folders next to your desk is best.  Filing cabinets or portable file totes are also options.  The key to being organized is finding things when you need them, so label your files the way your brain will look for things.

Time management is very important in helping us all stay organized. Planning your day can make the difference between a productive day and a wasted day.  Try assigining blocks of time to tasks which align with your goals for the day – prioritize those which are the most important and give them adequate time on your calendar.  Interrupted on a regular basis?  Plan for these breaks as well on your calendar and, if possible,  close your office door, turn off the phone and computer sound and get to work!

Once you have these systems in place, your day should flow more smoothly and the office appearance improved.  Still having problems?  Give us a call for some hands on help!  And visit us at www.organizing4u.com for our Ten Tips for A More Efficient Work Day!

Happy holidays to all!

Muffy and JoEllen

P. S. Find more inspiration on our Office Organizing Ideas board on Pinterest.

To have free organizing tips delivered to your in-box every month follow this link: http://www.organizing4u.com/mailing-lists/sign-up-to-receive-monthly-organizing-tips-5690.

comments on….7 Ways for Women to Win and Succeed in Business

November 3, 2014



This article by was published by The Huffington Post.

It is copied for your here, with my comments in blue.

1.You Can’t Do Or Have It . One of the downfall of many business and professional women is the “Superwoman Complex.” Once you hang up the Superwoman cape and the Wonderwoman belt and recognize and accept this fact, your job will get a whole lot easier. Every successful person needs a dedicated support team or at the very least a wing man or woman. You don’t have to do everything yourself! Trust your team to do the work, after all that’s what you hired them to do. If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, a great way to expand your staff is by engaging college students as interns. They can provide that extra help when you need it. Additionally, don’t rule out family and friends. And do not wait until a project is in jeopardy or you are on the verge of being burned out or a nervous breakdown. Remember that delegating empowers others and allows you to focus on the future as well as the big pictures.

2. Positive, Positive, Positive. A negative attitude will never yield positive results. Having a positive attitude helps you to succeed. Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage, inspire, support and motivate you. They will carry you through the tough days and cheer you on when you feel like giving up.

3. Add Humor To Your Work Research shows that laughter affects health, creativity, relationships and the quality of life. Poke fun at yourself, not at others. When your day gets too high-stress, lighten up! Lightening up the workplace reduces conflicts and stress and builds teamwork and productivity. Not to mention it’s great for morale. Converting your staff and customers from unhappy to happy is good for business.

4. Keep Up With Current Events And News. Staying informed about what is happening in the world and in your local community is critical to your personal and professional development. No matter what business you are in, current events have an impact on your industry and your clients. Do not be caught off guard because you haven’t taken ten minutes to read the morning paper. Daily papers are good sources of industry and corporate news, as well as contacts.

5. Be Generous To Your Community, Your Staff, And YourselfReward yourself and your employees for hard work and success. Take time to give back to your community through volunteer work and charitable contributions. Let this quote by Winston Churchill you — “you make a living by what you do, but you make a life by what you give. Keep a brave heart and a beautiful spirit.

6 Become A Life-Long-Learner Learning and growing both personally and professionally is a lifelong process that drives our creativity, intelligence and ambition. Make it a priority to take courses and adopt new techniques that help you and your staff think out of the box. Innovation and reinvention are the order of the day. Set aside time for brainstorming and idea sharing. Most important, don’t be afraid to try new things and introduce yourself to new people. When you forego investments in yourself and your staff, you run the risk of allowing complacency to take root. How many times have you found yourself staring at the messy piles of paper in your office? Make sure to invest in an organizer to help clean your space. You will find this will lead to greater efficiency. Check out Napo.net (National Association of Professional Organizers). They offer a list of certified and reputable organizers like Hub Neat Organizer and Charles River Organizers both of whom are in my hometown. I am using them to help me better organize my office and my home.

7. Stop And Smell The Roses Take a minute for yourself every day. Get some exercise, read a good book, take a hot bath or socialize with friends and family. Your work is important, but it is not everything in life. Appreciate all that life has to offer, and your energy will radiate at work, at home and through everything you do.

Naturally I praise this author for the suggestion of hiring a Professional Organizer.  Even more, I like that she placed this suggestion under Become A Life-Long-Learner, because that is what we do—-we teach our organizational skills to others. 

Hiring a Professional Organizer could also be considered delegation under You Can’t Do Or Have It, because we perform the acutal hands-on work that is the process of organizing.  While doing so with customers, they learn to use these skills in the future.  Not everyone has the skill set to organize paper or closets or time, and others do.  You can find help to move beyond the piles that are overwhelming and gaining skills to maintain systems in the future through The National Association of Professional Organizers.


The Simple Guide to a Clutter-Free Home

October 14, 2014

Here are some tips you can use to help live clutter-free.  To get started, follow tip #1, and believe that it is possible and get started, no matter how small the step.

The Simple Guide to a Clutter-Free Home

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

I have lived most of my life in a cluttered home. Closets were full, drawers wouldn’t shut, things weren’t put away, and unfinished projects could be found in most rooms. That was, unless somebody was coming over. Then, the entire family would pitch in to make sure the house was presentable. Looking back, the problem with clutter wasn’t that we didn’t notice or care. Instead, the problem was we could never get ahead of the mess or ever seem to develop a system that would keep our home clutter-free.

But that is no longer the case. Today, almost every room in our home rests in a state of order – free from the life-robbing presence of physical clutter. Over the past several years, we have found a system that works very well for our family of four. And I am perfectly confident you can do the same… no matter how far away from clutter-free your home may seem.

Consider implementing the four steps found in this Simple Guide to Keeping Your Home Clutter-Free:

1) Believe it is possible. Most of us know it is entirely possible to live in a clutter-free environment. I imagine that is what attracts you to this guide. You are just looking for some extra help to get there.

But some of you are not so sure. Your house has been cluttered for so long, you have given up all hope of ever living any other way. For you, the first step to living in a clutter-free home is to take heart and believe it is entirely possible. Realize that you will never get there if do not resolve in your mind that you can accomplish it. So find some hope and take one small step. Then, take another… and another… and another…

2) Remove the excess. Our homes are full of things. Clutter begins to appear most prominently when we own too much stuff. Conversely, the fewer items we own, the easier it is to keep clutter at a minimum. The first (and most important) step in keeping your home clutter-free is to remove the excessive possessions that are stealing our lives, time, and energy.

In your process of removing the excess, it can be helpful to find a working definition of clutter to aid you in this step. Early in our journey, we began to define clutter as a) too much stuff in too small a space; b) anything that we no longer used or loved; or c) anything that led to a feeling of disorganization. With that as our guiding filter, we slowly moved from room to room, removing everything that fit the definition above.

In some cases, this step is easy:

  • Junk drawers full of unneeded items (rubber bands, old batteries, or old keys).
  • Closets full of clothes you no longer wear.
  • Decorations that are no longer meaningful and/or outdated.

In other cases, this step will take more time and intentionality:

  • Large projects such as the garage, basement, or attic.
  • Sentimental items that have collected over the years.
  • Books.
  • Other family members’ clutter that have begun invading common spaces.

The most important key in completing this step is to start with the small and easy projects first. Begin there. As you do, you’ll build up small victories. Then, after the small victories have been won, you’ll find extra motivation to begin tackling the harder cases of clutter in your home.

If you still do not feel fully capable on removing the excess possessions from your home, find encouragement in an intermediate step. For example, put the items you can’t quite part with in a cardboard box out of sight with a date on it. Getting rid of unnecessary possessions is essential, but it doesn’t have to be a race.

3) Implement habits to manage your clutter. For most of my life, I thought the key to maintaining clutter was found here. Just organize, clean, and organize again. But I was wrong. Because I had not taken the time to remove the excess in full (or in part), I could never get ahead of the clutter in my home. There were just too many things in too small a space – no matter what system we tried to implement. As a result, healthy clutter-clearing habits never had opportunity to emerge. So do not skip the removal step, it is absolutely important. And the more energy you put in removing the excess, the easier it will be to find and develop habits to better manage the things you keep.

Once you have cleared the excess, you will be able to better discover which habits keep your living space free of clutter. And once you experience the freedom and stress-free life of living clutter-free, you will find these habits easier to embrace.

Some of these habits will recur daily:

  • Cleaning the kitchen after each meal.
  • Placing daily-use items (clothes, books, toys) back in their designated homes.
  • Fully-completing projects around the house.
  • Developing an evening routine.

Some of these habits will center on specific locations that serve as clutter collection sites in your home. For us, our kitchen counter typically collects items (mail, schoolwork) during the day, our living room sees a highly-volume of traffic each day, and one of the bedrooms in our home finds itself a bit messier than the others. Each of these specific locations require extra effort and energy than the others.

Some of these habits will center of seasonal needs:

  • The changing of the seasons.
  • The need to remove excessive possessions after holidays and/or birthdays.
  • Significant life changes (birth of a child, new employment) will also require refocusing and adjustment.

Over the years, we have found clutter attracts clutter. Once it begins to collect, it requires intentional action to clear it away. Develop for your family healthy habits today to manage the daily use of the things in your home. Once identified, you’ll find them much easier to implement.

4) Slow the accumulation of possessions. To live is to consume. It cannot be avoided – especially in our society and culture. But if the influx of possessions into our homes can be slowed, clutter can be managed efficiently.

To slow the accumulation of things in our homes, we need to change our mindset and begin evaluating our purchases differently. Realize that your purchases cost far more than the price on the sticker. Each one will also require time, energy, and effort once they enter your home. Before making a purchase, begin asking yourself these questions:

  • Is this item really needed?
  • Do I have a place to store this when I get it home?
  • How much extra work will this possession add to my life?
  • Am I buying it for the right reasons?

This thought-process isn’t designed to keep you from making purchases ever again – at least, it’s not supposed to. Again, to live is to consume. But these questions are designed to bring intentionality into your life. They raise in your mind the awareness that some purchases take more from our life than they offer. They help you know the difference. And slow the accumulation of clutter-causing items into your home and life.

Again, it is completely and entirely possible to live in a clutter-free home. With this simple guide, you’ll be well on your way. From somebody who has lived both, I can quickly attest that once you begin to enjoy the physical and mental freedom that accompanies clutter-free living, you’ll make extra effort to ensure your home does not slip back into the home it used to be.

If you’d like to know more about the most important principles we learned during our journey into living with less, you’ll find great value in our book, Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life.


Our thanks to Joshua Becker for a well written approach.

Let us know how this works for you!

JoEllen & Muffy


Answers to Questions About Hoarding

October 10, 2014

Randy Frost 9 LRDo you have questions about Hoarding?  With all of the shows and articles of late there are often a lot of misconceptions.  Joshua Becker’s interview with Terrence Shulman will answer many of those questions.

For more infomation, or to find  resources or books on the subject, follow this link to a list that we have put together.

JoEllen & Muffy

The Change of Seasons and Your Closets!

October 9, 2014

It’s still quite warm out, but Fall has arrived!  And with that change of season comes the necessity of a change of clothes…if you are like me, my main closet is too small for all of my clothes and I must bring my cold weather clothes down from the attic.

While changing your closet around can be a bit of pain, look at it as an opportunity to make some changes.  Instead of packing away all of your spring and summer clothes, pull out those clothes which are too small, too big, out of style or just not favorites any longer, and donate them. Cleveland has many new consignment stores on both sides of town; go on-line and find the nearest shops.  Most will ask for donations that are for the current season, so find items for fall and winter that you know you won’t wear again.  You can pack away spring items and take them later – be sure to label the box so you know what is in there.  Not donating any special items?  Goodwill , Salvation Army and Easter Seals would all love your donations.  Passing things along is a wonderful way to share with others while clearing some space in your closet!

Not sure whether you will wear it again?  Our favorite trick which you can try is as follows: when hanging your clothes up, place all the hangers backwards.  When you wear an outfit, hang it back up correctly.  Next spring you will see what is still hung backwards and you now know what you never wore!  It may be just enough to convince you that the outfit is no longer needed.

Do you have a tight fit in your closet?  Do you need new hangers, underbed storage or new shoe racks?  JoEllen and I just went to The Container Store in Columbus last week and saw many storage solutions in many shapes, sizes and colors.

Muffy at The Container Store


A large selection at The Container Store

Visit The Container Store and see what might work in your closets. One of our favorite shoe solutions is found at IKEA.  Buy as many cubes as you need – stack them up high to use the vertical space!  This system can be enhanced by adding drawers which are also available.

For more ideas and inspiration be sure to visit our Organizing Clothes and Shoes board on Pinterest.  And for fun, you may want to check out the Celebrity Organizing board to see some very large and very organized closets.

Be sure to let us know if you have any questions,

Muffy and JoEllen

P.S. This post is from one of our recent newsletters.  We email free tips every month; follow this link to have them delivered to your in-box.


Is Your Workplace Prepared for A Disaster?

September 12, 2014

For even more tips, be sure to check out FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) web site for more information on how you can “Be informed, Make A Plan, and Build A Kit”.




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