Friday, May 22, 2009

The Garage Whisperer

Oh gorgeous days! They won't last forever (or even a few weeks) so now is the time to take advantage of the relatively cool 80-something-degree days to declutter and organize your garage. Think about it -- is that where you want to be when the thermometer hits 95 degrees or so?!

It's actually pretty easy to make a big difference in a garage in a relatively short amount of time. It tends to be a catch-all for all manner of big, bulky stuff that we're not sure we really want or need anyway. Seasonal items also often end up in the garage as well as just plain, old trash!

First things first. Take a really hard look at the current contents of your garage. Using my favorite organizing method from Julie Morgenstern, S.P.A.C.E. (Sort-Purge-Assign a Home-Containerize-Equalize), begin to sort and purge items that you haven't used in a year or two. Toss, donate or recycle items as needed.

Side note: In a perfect world, you would empty your garage during this process. I hear the groans out there but, really, it's essential to clear the garage out completely before you begin putting items back in. An empty garage helps you accurately assess the usable space. And seeing the garage contents in your driveway and/or yard helps you get a very clear idea of how much stuff you are keeping. Otherwise, you might find yourself merely moving stuff around. You'll just have to trust me on this one!

Once you have sorted and purged, take a broom and sweep out the accumulated dust and dirt. Trust me on this one, it'll just make you feel better!

OK, time for assigning homes and containerizing! Take a good look at what you have left in your garage. Now look up. The ceiling and walls are valuable real estate in a garage. Anything you can get up and off the floor is going to pay dividends in "found" space. The Container Store, Home Depot and Target are all great places to find hooks, shelving and other item-specific organizing supplies. A couple of my favorite items are bike hangers and ladder hooks.

Give serious thought to creating zones in your garage, grouping like items for easy access. Sporting goods, camping supplies, yard and garden supplies, home repair and tools, and trash and recycling are probably a few of the most common zones found in garages. Again, use wall space and the ceiling to your advantage. Look around your house for containers that can be repurposed for use in the garage.

Now pat yourself on the back and drive your car into your newly organized garage! Don't forget the last letter of SPACE -- Equalize. In essence, this just means keeping your space organized through regular maintenance -- but SPACM just wasn't as memorable. When you get back from that camping trip, put your camp gear in the camp gear zone! After spending a glorious day in your garden, put all your tools in the garden zone. As Ben Franklin said, "A place for everything, everything in its place."

What's the strangest thing you've ever kept or found in your garage?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Well, Twitter-dee-dee...

OK, so I can't help thinking of Scarlett O'Hara's famous "Fiddle-dee-dee" line while I'm trying to figure out the whole Twitter thing.

I resisted it for the longest time. I really didn't want to be a Twit. Or a Twitterer. Or whatever they call themselves.

Then I signed up a few months ago and did exactly nothing with it. Then I went to the NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) conference a couple of weeks ago and felt totally out of the loop! All the Twitterers seemed to be having so much fun.

OK, back at home and trying again. I've got a few followers. I'm following a few people. We'll see if it snowballs as people keep telling me it will. Or if I discover I am not really cut out to be a Twit. Twitterer. Whatever.

Why do you Tweet?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Winnie the Pooh - Home Office Organizer

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.

A.A. Milne

As any self-respecting mom knows, A.A. Milne is the creator of Winnie the Pooh. This gentle, very Pooh Bear quote really boils organizing down to its essence. If you get something organized on the front end, your day-to-day “doing it” is not all mixed up!

The client who sent me this quote (a mom herself) mentioned in the same email that her husband absolutely loves working in his newly organized home office.

It’s amazing how putting in the hours organizing a home office can pay real dividends in the way you feel about working in that office. And doesn’t how you feel about working directly correlate to how productive you are? For most of us, our environment really does affect our workaday attitude.

Home office tip for the day:

Without getting out of your chair, you should be able to get a file folder, label it and file it in its proper drawer. Think about how you can set up your desk to create this time-saving process!

I have to confess that I also found this wonderful, antithesis-of-being-organized A.A. Milne quote:

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.

Sound like any five year olds you know?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Best. Conference. Ever.

OK, so in my previous life in corporate America, I attended my fair share of conferences, trade shows, annual meetings, seminars and conventions. I usually came back to the office with a noticable bump in motivation and enthusiasm. Mission accomplished.

Last week I attended the annual conference of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) for the first time. I was truly surrounded by my peeps! Lots of cool organizing products, great time management tips and tools, and unique organizing methodologies.

It helped that it was held in sunny Orlando. I knew I would be coming back to Northern Virginia's strange, strange Spring of 2009 weather. In a word: Gray and dreary. OK, three words.

Posts will be forthcoming -- keep your eyes peeled!