Tips & Tricks

Unique Gift Ideas for Your 2018 Christmas Gift List

I must come clean. I’ve already begun Christmas shopping. I know it’s not even Halloween yet. I’ve already made a 2018 Christmas gift list on my Wunderlist app to keep track of the gifts I need to buy and the gifts I’ve already purchased. The gift I got was for someone who is easy to shop for, that’s why I was able to find just the right thing when I was hardly looking.

But this made me think about all the people I need to buy gifts for who are incredibly hard to shop for. We all have a few of those relatives on our list. It also got me thinking about all the spouses, partners, non-shoppers and anyone else who struggles to come up with that something special for that someone special in their lives. The way I see it, when it comes to holidays we all need all the help we can get.

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The Instant Pot: Best Small Appliance Ever?

One of the most widely purchased kitchen products of recent times has been the Instant Pot. This new rendition of your mother’s pressure cooker has been heralded as the newest work-reducing, time-saving, must-have device. Now, I am not one to jump on trends, so I asked my girlfriends on Facebook whether the Instant Pot is something I should buy, what they liked about it, whether they used it frequently and what recipes they’ve tried.

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Making the Summer-to-Fall Transition: Prepare Your Home Before Winter Sets in

Take care of Fall home maintenance

The end of summer is all about change. Leaves are starting to fall, the weather’s just beginning to cool (okay, at least it’s less hot). The kids are back in school, and everyone settles into familiar and busy daily routines. Soon, you won’t have as much time for those little household jobs that’ll pay off later ­– or cost you some money if they’re neglected – so do yourself a favor: put down the TV remote, pull on your sweatpants and t-shirt, and get ‘em done now.

Clean Inside and Out

The end of summer is a good time to clean and organize your house, room by room. As your family begins to transition to fall clothing, start putting away the summer wardrobes. Store them safely in secure plastic containers, especially if they’ll be spending the winter in the attic or basement. Put away the doo-dads you picked up on vacation or your kids brought home from summer camp. If things have really gotten out of hand, you might consider having a professional home organizer help you tackle the clutter. 

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Professional Organizer’s Guide to Writing Thank You Notes

Everyone loves a thank you note

A Professional Organizer’s Guide to Writing More Thank You Notes

I am a big fan of appreciation and thanking someone warmly for a gift or a kind act. I love receiving handwritten thank you notes (I don’t knock email notes either) because it means someone took the time to let me know they both received the gift and are favorably acknowledging the efforts made on their behalf. A personal piece of correspondence is the best kind of mail to get. It’s a treasure in the sea of junk mail, catalogs, and bills. I especially adore a thank you note that points out something spot-on about the item and/or something special about your relationship with that person – bonus points!

Apparently, I am not alone. An article in the New York Times, “You Should Send That Thank You Note You’ve Been Meaning to Write” from July 20, 2018, agreed that people like getting thank you notes. Seriously, who would not like getting a thank you?

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Top Ten Dorm Room Must-Haves

College student dorm

My eldest child will be moving back to campus next month to start her sophomore year. Just over a year ago, we were up to our eyeballs in Pinterest and other websites with tips on what students need for their dorm rooms. First off, let me just say that, unless your kid is rooming with two friends and they have completely coordinated their color scheme and décor—or they’ve got a single room—there is no way their room will ever look like a Pinterest board!

A dorm room is going to be their home for nine months, so it should reflect their personality, be practical but comfortable, and not too cramped—a place they’ll sleep, study, eat, and socialize in. Most likely the university will provide the minimum: a bed, a desk, and a chair. Everything else is on you.

Here’s the “Top Ten” list of items that are beyond the basics (e.g., bedding).

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Get Control of Your Personal Information – Know What to Shred

Personal information

Personal information security is a hot topic these days. Between news of identity theft, mass data breaches and social media personal data security, the subject is front and center in our minds. We all want out personal information to be safe, whether it is our financial information, medical records, or social media data. Each year, we handle hundreds of documents that entail sensitive information, physical paper, our personal and financial paperwork.

It can be confusing to figure out what documents we need to keep, how long, and what documents we can dispose of, and how. Some individuals are so anxious about identity theft that they do not dispose of any paperwork at all! That results in massive paper piles, making it nearly impossible to find important documents when you need them. These piles can become an overwhelming burden. Paperwork clutter is a common problem, and very tedious and time consuming to tackle.

So, how can we protect our personal information (without getting buried in paper), at least the kind of personal information which commonly arrives in the mail? What to keep? How long? Why? We have some answers for you.

What Personal Information to Keep and How Long

  1. Tax Returns: Keep copies of all your tax returns. Keep the back-up information and
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Alicia’s Favorite Things: Organize, Measure, Maximize, Go Clear and Label

storage bins

Organize, Measure, Maximize, Go Clear and Label

Alicia’s Favorite Things

One of my favorite aspects of being a Professional Organizer is product. That is the fun part right!? I love finding simple, uncomplicated solutions to help keep my own house and family organized. I have been part of the Simplify Experts team for over 4 years now and my professional organizing experience has allowed me to see what products and systems work well in client’s homes. One of my greatest joys is walking into The Container Store (are you cringing?) and browsing through the perfectly organized rows of containers just waiting to make all my organizing dreams come true. Did I mention I love product? Clients often say they become overwhelmed with the abundance of choices that organizing product retailers have to offer and they end up leaving or buying something that doesn’t fit or work for their specific needs.

I would love to share my favorite finds and product solutions with you in hopes of taking the guess work and dread out of the equation and inspiring easy and affordable changes to keep life running smoothly.

Before I dive into bins, let’s go over

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Without Losing All Your Storage and Creating Clutter

Earth Day

A popular mantra of Earth Day is the catch phrase Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. To reduce the human footprint upon our planet we are called upon to Reduce (use and buy less), Reuse (what we already have) and Recycle (the little that we use over and over). On trash day in my neighborhood, most recycle bins are filled to the brim. That part of the three R’s is the easiest and we do a pretty good job (based on my observation at least) with recycling. It’s the other two R’s – Reduce and Reuse – that folks find to be trickier.

Reduce

To foster the first of the three R’s – Reduce, imagine each new item you bring into the home as an addition to a collection. Whether it is a brand-new product, or one you hope to re-purpose, before you bring it into your home ask yourself these questions:

• Do I have space for this item?
• Am I willing to donate or discard another item in my collection to make space for this one?
• Does this new item authentically fill a purpose in my collection?
• Does this item have a utilitarian use?

Reuse

Many of us have good intentions to reuse various household items. Sometimes, these items take up all our storage space

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Three Reasons Why Being Disorganized is Not Your Fault

organized kitchen

It’s not your fault you are disorganized if:

You are spending all day tending to more crucial tasks. Your job is demanding. Caring for your family is a full-time job. Then there are groceries to buy, homework to supervise, sports games to attend, you try to do it all. Something must give, and if that something is staying organized – it’s not your fault. In the past homes were smaller, people owned fewer things, and as a result keeping homes organized wasn’t an issue. One study stated that today the average American family has over 300,000 items – that is a lot of stuff to keep track of and keep organized. Today people work longer hours, spend more time commuting or shuttling children to activities – it’s no wonder so many are disorganized. If you’ve run out of time in the day to maintain an organized home, then it’s time to call for back up.

It’s not your fault if:

Organization isn’t one of your talents. We are all born with different strengths and skill sets. I am a terrible singer, I can’t draw or paint, but I can walk into a room and tell you the most efficient way to organize the space.

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Lagom – Why Goldilocks Had the Secret to Happiness

lagom

Move over minimalism, Hygge, Swedish death cleaning, you are not sparking joy for us any longer! The latest trend in organizing is called Lagom and it’s awesome. It’s not new, it is a word which translates from Swedish to “just the right amount.” No dramatic militant upheaval to your lifestyle is needed. You don’t have to trade your comfy 3,000 square foot home for a tiny house with a dry toilet. You don’t need to dispose of everything that doesn’t “spark joy.” Awesome, right?

So, what is the meaning of lagom?

Remember the story of Goldilocks? From memory, I think it went roughly like this. A happy, little, free spirited girl goes traipsing through the woods and just as she gets tired from her forest stroll, she comes across a cottage, which might be a high end AirBnB or an evil witch’s hut, she doesn’t care.

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