Click here to watch my latest segment with Emily Volz and learn how to organize your basement for the seasons.
If your basement is used primarily for storage, one big issue to keep in mind is combatting moisture.
Store items in plastic bins so they are impervious to surface moisture on the floor. Raise the bins on garage-style shelving or pallets. Label the bins so the contents are easily recognizable.
A dehumidifier is a key appliance. If possible, run a hose from the dehumidifier to the utility sink so they unit can drain constantly and you won't have to empty the tank every day. Check with your local utility company for rebates on new, energy efficient models.
Keep the area around the boiler, hot water tank, water meter, fuse box, etc. free of clutter so they can be accessed easily when they need to be worked on.
The main factor in keeping things organized is to create zones for the different types of items you store in the basement, rather than storing everything in one big area with no distinction. For example, you might have different zones for laundry, rarely used or seasonal kitchen items, holiday decorations, outdoor furniture storage, tools and household repair items. Distinctions between zones could be as simple as using different shelves or using painter's tape to mark off areas of the floor. Labeling everything helps the whole family know what goes where. If you don't have a label maker, just use painter's tape and a permanent marker.
Now is a great time to air out your basement and get it organized!
When the weather gets warmer, it's time to head to the garage and get it cleaned out for the season!
Of course, you might want to park your car in the garage, but aside from that the garage is a convenient place to store outdoor gear. That means making space for both lawn and garden tools and sports gear.
The first thing to do is actually clean the garage. It doesn't need to be pristine like the interior of your house, but it's a good idea to work from top to bottom (ceiling to floor) and banish the cobwebs, dust, leaves, and other debris that accumulates. A good wool duster works well and an extendable one will help you reach to the top of the ceiling.
Use cleaning wipes or a microfiber cloth to get the dust off of boxes and bins. Sweep the floor to evict the leaves and whatever dust that fell off the bins you just cleaned. Finally, open the doors and give the space a good airing out.
Now that the cleaning is done, let the organizing begin!
The goal with organizing the garage is accessibility. To take advantage of the few months of good weather, you'll want to be able to grab what you need and go.
After you've finished spring cleaning the garage, be sure to reward yourself: ride the bikes, take a walk, or plant some lovely flowers!
Check out the first in my 4-part Spring Cleaning series with NBC10's Emily Volz.
In the first video, I talk about switching your coat closet from fall/winter to spring/summer.
Here in New England, many of us have older homes with small coat closets or mudrooms. So instead of trying to squeeze all the coats into the closet, we have to make some adjustments and put at least the bulkier coats away for the warm seasons.
Before putting coats away, be sure to follow these steps:
Once the bulky coats have been put away, use a small vacuum to clean the closet and wipe the shelves to get rid of the dust.
Now you're ready to stock the closet for spring and summer. Replace the heavy coats with light jackets, windbreakers, and raincoats. Hang summer caps and hats on hooks attached to the closet doors or along the side walls.
Because my spring jackets take up only about half the space of the winter coats, I have room to add a storage bin unit to my closet in the warm season.
As you can see in the photo, each of my two daughters has a drawer for her bathing suits and flip flops. One shelf has the sunblock container along with another container for goggles and a water-resistant zippered case to take along to the beach. The rest of the shelves are stocked with towels, which I roll to make them tidy and easy to grab.
At the bottom of the closet, I keep a first aid kit and two picnic blankets handy.
Now you're organized and ready at a moment's notice to enjoy the warm weather and be outdoors this spring and summer!
I know lots of organized people who have various strategies for keeping up with laundry, but the one thing they all have in common is that they don’t let it sit around. Once the dryer cycle is done, they fold it and put it away all in a single session.
You know how work swells to fit the time you give it but if you give yourself a deadline you manage to get it done faster? It’s the same with laundry. Give yourself a deadline (try using a timer or stopwatch) and plan your time so that you’ll be able to put it all away in the same day that it comes out of the dryer. Otherwise, you’ll wind up with piles of laundry sitting around your folding area for days!
Here are some strategies:
Apply one of these strategies and stick with it for at least a month to give it time to become a new habit.
Banish those piles of clothes!
P.S. If putting clothes away is a bigger problem for you than getting them washed, then you won't want to miss my next post!
NOTE: This is an update of my 3/5/18 post.
Do I have a deal for you today! My colleague, Maryann Murphy, has written a fantastic book to help you be more productive and organized: Stop Wasting Your Precious Time. The paperback will be out in early April, but right now you can get the Kindle version for only 99 cents. Such a deal!
Here’s the link: http://amzn.to/2oyaWIe.
I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of the book and I loved it! I started implementing some of her suggestions right away and was able to clear my “Action” file in record time.
This is definitely not one of those organizing books that I’m going to find among your piles of clutter, where I usually find the Marie Kondo book or another comprehensive “this-will-change-your-life” organizing book. Maybe you had high hopes when you bought those books, but I think they are overwhelming for most people.
Why will Stop Wasting Your Precious Time not get buried on your bookshelf? Because this book is really a handbook or instruction manual that is packed with actionable strategies. You’ll want to keep this out on your desk so you can refer to it whenever you find yourself stuck and unable to overcome a productivity obstacle.
What I love about the book is that Maryann gets right down to business without wasting the reader’s time with a lot of filler and background information. She doesn’t over-philosophize about why you waste time; she just outlines effective solutions that you can implement today to see immediate results.
The best way to use this book is to turn to the table of contents and select the chapter that relates to your worst time-wasting challenge. Are you in information overload, are you forced to sit through unproductive meetings, or do you procrastinate? There’s a chapter for each of those problems and several more. So choose a chapter, select one or two of Maryann’s strategies that you think will best help you, and work on putting them into practice. She guides you every step of the way, making it really easy to develop new, anti-time-wasting habits.
Although subtitle of the book “60 Easy Strategies for Eliminating Your Biggest Time Wasters at Work,” this book would be useful to just about anyone who’d like to be more productive: students, stay-at-home parents, retirees, or volunteers.
So go and claim your copy of Stop Wasting Your Precious Time by Maryann Murphy and then let me know:
Here's a quick safety tip:
Many people have this type of radiator-style space heater and it's supposed to be the safe kind, but some of them have recently been recalled. If you have one that looks at all like this, please check https://www.heaterrecall.com/ to see if your heater has been recalled.
This month, I'm partnering with the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Research Foundation's Knowledge is Power campaign to help people get organized and reduce stress.
The short month of February is more than half over, but there’s still time to clear the clutter and get more organized.
According to an article in Psychology Today, “Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed.” So true!
But where do you start? This quick 1-2-3 will make your space more serene.
1. Grab a laundry basket, tote bag, or trash bag and zoom around your house picking up all the “strays” – things that belong elsewhere. This will fill more than just one bag, you say? Then start with your most-visible or most-used room (maybe your kitchen, living room, or bedroom). For a fun challenge, play your favorite upbeat music and see how many songs it takes you to gather everything.
2. Find homes for all those strays. If the item doesn’t already have a designated place in your house consider the following.
3. Going forward, find a mantra that works for you so you don’t end up with so many strays again. Repeating a saying such as “put it away right away” or “don’t put it down, put it away” can help break the habit of not putting things back, dramatically reducing future clutter.
Now, sit down with a good book and a cup of tea and enjoy a few minutes of peace in your newly-cleared space.
Do you, your children, or your coworkers have trouble staying on time with tasks?
Try using a Time Timer, an innovative timer design that shows a visual representation of time elapsing that's easy to see at a glance.
Use a Time Timer for:
Best of all, there's a Time Timer for everyone because they come in lots of sizes, several colors, an app, and a desktop version.
[Full disclosure: I'm using a Time Timer on my computer desktop right now so I don't dawdle the night away fine-tuning the details of this blog post!]
Do you have a closet that's been bugging you because the configuration is totally inadequate for your needs? Have you been wanting to outfit your pantry with better shelves? How about a closet or pantry door that could be made useful (spice rack, gift wrap organizer, etc.) if only you had a good, sturdy shelf rack for it?
Get yourself over to the Container Store where, from now through February, they're offering 30% off their Elfa closet and shelving components, including 30% off installation!
Measure your space and they can help you plan the closet layout and recommend the products you'll need.
Even better, sort all the items that you want to store in the newly-redesigned closet, making a list of how many of each type of item (e.g. 4 pairs of heels, 6 pairs of casual shoes, 3 pairs of boots, 1 pair of slippers, etc.) and bring that with you too so the store's designers can have a better idea of exactly how you need to use the space.
As always, if you need help with any of this process, feel free to schedule an organizing session and I'll help you get it all sorted and straightened out!
The calendar just rolled over to a new year, so it's time to start fresh with some new files. This goes for you whether you're mostly digital, mostly paper, or somewhere in the middle.
If you keep digital files, I recommend downloading pdf copies of the statements as a backup and keeping them in folders on your computer and backed up on a cloud server (I use dropbox, but there are many good options out there.). Now is the time to create new folders labeled with the new year so you'll be ready when this year's downloads are available.
If you keep paper files, now is the time to label some fresh new folders. If you have a file drawer, one good option is to keep two-year's worth of files available at a time so you can just rotate the files for the new year. One set of files will be labeled "odd" for odd years, and the other "even." When the new year rolls around, bring the new year's set of files to the front of the drawer, emptying them out by discarding anything no longer need to store and placing items for long-term storage (Check the IRS website for a reference list.) in an archive file location such as a less-accessible file drawer or a box in a closet, attic, or basement (Use plastic bins if moisture is a problem.).
Another option for paper files is my expanding file system. Each year, I start fresh with a new 19-pocket expanding file. For the first part of the year, while I'm preparing for taxes, I keep last year's file handy. After April 15th, it goes down to my basement on a shelf with 7 others. I store 7 years' worth of files (that's how long to save tax-related info) plus one expanding file for permanent information (tax returns, home repairs, major medical info, etc.). I like this system because it's easy, compact, and never has to be purged. After 7 years, the files get shredded and I can reuse the expanding file.
How will you make a fresh start with files this year?