Melissa Crossman shares tips on how to organize your photographs.
In the years of film photography, taking pictures was somewhat of an expensive undertaking, and in some ways this limited the number of pictures people took. Today’s digital photography technology means you can snap a picture any time of anything, even with your phone. Yet, for the organizationally challenged, this creates an interesting obstacle, because the average family has literally thousands of photographs to sort. Whether the photos are in a box or on the hard drive, taking some time to organize your photographs will greatly simplify your life.
Digitize Paper Photographs
Each holiday season, you open your Christmas cards and you’re greeted with the image of friends and family from all over. That’s great, but what do you do with those photographs later? What about the heirloom photos or even slides you have in your home? Chances are the images are stashed away in a box, seeing little more than accumulated dust. One of the first steps in simplifying clutter by organizing photographs is to digitize your paper photographs and old slides.
You can easily digitize these photographs and store them on your computer. Even if you need to keep the paper versions for photo albums, digitizing them will ensure that they are preserved, and it may free you to get rid of some that you no longer need in paper versions.
Be Willing to Say Goodbye
Do you have ten shots of basically the same thing? Did you take 100 pictures at your daughter’s kindergarten graduation? You probably don’t need all of these. Go through them and choose the best ones, and delete or toss the others. It really is OK to get rid of duplicate pictures.
Create Photo Books
Photo books are a great way to consolidate digital pictures and give people a tangible way to enjoy them. Consider creating a photo book to highlight the best photographs and memories from the year. Photo books are simple to create, and most companies who offer them have pre-designed templates so all you have to do is add your photos and captions.
Start with the Most Recent
As you begin organizing, categorizing and trimming your photo collection, start with the most recent. Your memories of these events will be current and fresh, so you can add captions to the images to help you remember later. Waiting to do the 1998s photos for another few months or years is not going to change your memories much, but waiting to do last month’s photographs will hurt your memories of those more recent events.
Focus on Permanent Storage
Digital photography has one potential downside. Your computer is not going to last forever. Few events would be quite as devastating as losing all of your photographs in one unfortunate computer crash. As you organize your photographs, consider a permanent storage solution. Use an external hard drive or even burn a few DVDs to give yourself a backup copy.
If you are not careful, your photographs can easily become an overwhelming mess. To protect yourself from this, take time now to start organizing them. If you already feel overwhelmed, simply grab a box or open a file and start. When your pictures are organized and accessible, you will be glad you took the time to tackle this project.
About The Author
Melissa Crossman is a freelance writer in the Indianapolis area. She loves playing with her dogs and can’t wait for the Indiana State Fair in August.
Connect With Melissa: Twitter
Leah Etling says it’s possible to move without stress. Check out her tips and leave a comment with some of your own.
Few tasks in everyday life are more stress-filled than the idea of packing up all your worldly possessions and moving. But this is a great chance to maximize organization in your new apartment.
Work the process backwards so you can get happily settled in your new place, making it the best organized home you’ve ever lived in.
Where to start:
So, you’ve decided that you’ll be moving to a new place. You probably haven’t decided where you’re going yet, but you are going to give notice to your landlord and start your rental search.
You might think it’s too early to pack or get organized, but, in fact, the time to start that work is now.
- For the first two weeks prior to the move date, you should spend 15 minutes to 1 hour working on cleaning, culling and organization daily.
- Make it a goal to rid yourself of all clothing that you haven’t worn in the last year and all household items that you haven’t used or enjoyed in the last 9 months.
- If you’d like to make some cash from your unwanted possessions, plan a garage sale for two weeks prior to your move.
- Don’t have enough stuff to sell on your own? Knock on a few nearby neighbors’ doors and ask if they want to participate, too.
- Don’t want to take the time to do this? Donate to charity – this will leave you feeling good about helping others and further reduce stress.
As you sort through your things, you’ll start feeling more organized. During this process, categorize everything, using designated bins for items that logically go together. Keep a notepad handy and make an approximate count of how many boxes it will take to move the things you’re keeping.
Two weeks out
Now it’s time to plan the move itself. By now you should have found your new place.
- You may need to rent a van or a truck, so make reservations for that service today.
- Hiring a professional team? Call around for several quotes to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
- If you’re using volunteer labor, line up their services now. Be sure to bribe them with dinner or drinks and call in any favors from the last time you helped someone else move.
- Check the weather and make sure you won’t be moving in pouring rain, snow, or extreme heat.
- And, line up a cleaning service to professionally clean your place after you vacate.
- Procure your boxes since you’ll be packing soon. Always get more than you think you need.
Ten days out from move day
Time to start packing. Just as you did with the culling and organization process, work on this every day.
- By two days before the move, you should be down to only your essential possessions that need to be packed.
- Clearly label each box with what’s inside and what room it belongs in. This will help maximize the efficiency of your movers or volunteers.
The big day
Get a good night’s sleep before the move and be up early to pick up your rented van or greet your moving team. Now it’s all about manual labor. Be sure that, as the organizer of your move, you are pitching in to help – no one likes a friend who orders them around and doesn’t carry boxes, too.
Working smartly will further reduce your stress. Your biggest challenge will be at your new place. Optimize your storage areas to make sure your new home can be as efficient as possible.
Congrats – you’ve moved stress free!
About The Author
Leah Etling is an apartment lifestyle blogger for the RENTCafe blog. RENTCafe offers a great way to find a new apartment anywhere in the U.S. and also offers local event, neighborhood, and home design tips.
Liz from Simple Italian Cooking is back with a few things you can do to kick kitchen clutter to the curb.
Unless you have had your kitchen recently remodeled, chances are there are a few changes you could make that would create a more efficient and user-friendly environment– without the need to rip out walls or spend thousands of dollars. Here are some practical tips to help you get the most treasured room in the house organized!
Kitchen Storage Ideas
Storage baskets are very popular and they come in every medium from woven grass to canvas to metal wire. Whatever the style of your kitchen, there is a basket that will stylishly contain all those bits and pieces that need a home.
When looking for baskets, consider the purpose and look beyond typical kitchen designed baskets. For example, rolling plastic 3 drawer carts can be used to store bags of onions or potatoes, housing neatly folded hand towels and table clothes or storing plastic lids – all within easy reach. You won’t find these carts in the kitchen department, but most likely in the home improvement or living areas.
Create Space Where There Is No Space
If you have a kitchen with a pantry area and a door, you can easily free up countertop clutter by purchasing pocket holders or racks that hang on the back of the door. This is perfect for housing items such as phones, calendars, notepads, pen/pencils, to-do pads, soup packets, canned goods or even seasonings depending on the style of the holders. If you don’t have a door to use, consider tacking these holders where there is empty wall space.
Another way to make space where there is no space, is to remove items in your cupboards which aren’t being regularly used. The idea is simple, but when it comes to figuring out what you do and don’t need, it gets a little harder.
Therefore, take the average number of place settings you use on a daily basis, then box up the rest and store them in an area where they are still accessible should you need them in the future.
You may be surprised at how much new space you have once those extra mugs and chipped glassware are removed.
Keep Out Of The Kitchen
If tight on space, look for ways to store items outside of the kitchen. For example, if you keep your tablecloths and other “clothware” in drawers in your kitchen, look for storage units which would fit nicely with your dining room or living room decor.
Use these units to store items such as extra plates, silverware or pots and pans, thus freeing up more space in the kitchen for more frequently used items. These units can be decorative and not intrusive, blending into the existing decor, without giving the slightest indication for its actual purpose.
Keeping yourself organized is one thing, but making your kitchen organized is another. By having an organized kitchen you will find not only does cooking and meal preparation become easier, but it also becomes more enjoyable too.
About the Author
Liz Trementozzi Krause, who grew up in an Italian home, has an Italian website where she enjoys writing about Italian recipes, or reviews about Italian cookware such as the best gelato machine for home use. She loves sharing tips with her readers and subscribers and hopes she encourages others to enjoy spending more time in the kitchen!
Today’s guest author, Brittany Smith, tells you how you can do a little good by doing a little spring cleaning.
It’s that time of year again. Time to de-clutter the lingering remnants of winter and let fresh air back into your home with some spring cleaning. But where do you put everything you remove from your home? In the trash? What you do with all these unwanted items is just as important as removing them from your home, and this spring you can donate them to a good cause.
We here at Live Green have teamed up with Repax for Fwd: Your Fashion, DC’s largest clothing drive. Our goal is to collect a record breaking amount of clothes to benefit Goodwill and help fund over 400 hours of their employment programs for the DC community, while diverting several thousand pounds of waste from landfills.
Live Green is a social enterprise dedicated to growing the green economy and making green living easy, fun, and accessible for all. To us, this means everything from helping businesses chose sustainable sourcing for their menu, to helping consumers make smart and eco-friendly choices in their everyday lives.
By participating in Fwd: Your Fashion, not only are you removing clutter from your life, but you are giving your clothes a second life, which is one of the greenest things you can do.
How can you help?
First, go through all your clothes and start a pile of unworn and unwanted garments. This includes that expensive shirt you never wear.
Next, donate your clothes at the closest Fwd: Your Fashion drop-off location.
Finally, celebrate with us as we tally the total amount of clothes before we kick-off Green Rush, our city-wide scavenger hunt on April 21st.
Ready. Set. De-clutter.
About The Author
Brittany is the Operations Manager for Live Green. As a vegetarian, she enjoys getting the inside scoop on the best eco-friendly restaurants around DC. She loves soy chai lattes, experimenting with vegan baking, reading, and watching entire TV series all at once.
I’m away on a short break so, I’ll be re-sharing some of my favorite OTR articles and introducing you to some new guest bloggers, like today’s writer, Ana Brady. Check out her tips on how to get your pantry in order.
The point of organizing your pantry is not for the sake of being organized, and not only to get rid of what mice left behind (though, for those folks who had the misfortune to go through this like I did once, this is a big part of it). The point of straightening out your pantry is also to save money and time.
That’s practically what most of the organization around the kitchen should bring. It might be no fun, but it pays off. You know that feeling when you have a toothache and you keep postponing going to the dentist because you hate it? But once you get it over with, there’s a heavy load off your chest. Organizing a messy pantry might be a little bit like that.
Whatever the level of your pantry messy-ness, one thing is clear: if everything is cluttered, you have no idea what’s expired, and the shelves haven’t seen a cleaning cloth in years – you are the right candidate for pantry organization.
If you have children with surplus of energy, you can proclaim a new game called Who Can Organize the Pantry Better, and let them help you.
How to Organize Your Pantry in 8 Easy Steps:
1. Start by taking out absolutely everything you have in the pantry and line it on a kitchen table or floor. It might take you awhile, so be prepared.
2. Take a few cleaning cloths and whatever cleaning product you like to use for pantry shelves, and give it a good wiping. Don’t forget spider webs and hard-to-reach corners. Everything should be spotless once you’re done, because you won’t be doing this every week, I suppose.
3. Then, go back to what you lined up on the table and go through all items. Some of them might be expired, some of them might have holes from mice or some other pests (hopefully not), and some might be a surprise to even be there, because you never eat such things, or you stopped eating them. Throw out everything that you won’t be using anymore. Your goal is to make that the last time you’ll be throwing away food (in bulk, at least).
4. Now, this step is optional. You can use only the shelves you have in your pantry, or you can purchase extra bins, baskets, hanging or slide-out racks, turntables, wire shelf helpers, any additional products that might help you create more room for food in your pantry.
5. Group all food items into sections according to likeness. Don’t group according to size because that might confuse you later when you look for a particular thing. Breakfast foods like cereal and oatmeal can be one group, pasta and rice can be another, flour, sugar and salt yet another, etc. Group food according to what makes sense to you.
6. Start putting back the food. It might be a good idea to keep everything you want to hide from your kids on the highest shelves where they can’t reach it. Also, use those shelves on top to keep lighter food packages. Keep heavy stuff (like jars, glass bottles and large containers on lower shelves or on the floor). You can use turntables for bottles of oil, vinegar, etc. Also, it’s not a bad idea to keep everything you often use on shelves/racks that are at eye level.
7. Re-packing the food might also be necessary. If some food packages are torn, or too bulky, you can purchase convenient see-through plastic containers that not only save space, but also let you know what you have inside. They are good for storing cereal and pasta. I use glass jars for storing flour and sugar.
8. Make sure everything you have in your pantry and all labels are clearly visible, so that your search time is minimal.
When you divide pantry organization into these clear tasks, like I did, it doesn’t sound so intimidating. The problem is that new food comes in very often, at least once a week, and you have to remember not to throw it on top of whatever shelf you find convenient at the moment. Place new items where they belong, now that you have nicely grouped food sections. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.
About the Author
Ana Brady is a mother of two, a writer focusing on food and health related topics, and a member of a designers’ group that recently completed a project on food packaging labels.
I’m taking a bit of a break from writing and will be re-sharing some of my favorite OTR articles, like this one, “You Really CAN Have it All,” by Dr. Marla Deibler. Have you mastered the art of having it all? Do tell!
I’ve always been ambitious. From the time I was a little girl, I imagined myself with the devoted husband, 2.5 precious children, white picket fence, and rewarding career. It seemed plausible, even realistic.
These days, I am often asked, “how do you do it?” Patients often comment on how “calm” and in control I seem. While it’s true that I feel incredibly fortunate in my life, when I’m asked this, I have to laugh, as “having it all” can be downright ridiculous at times. Let me tell you a little bit about myself and the reality of my day-to-day.
I am a wife and a mother. I am also a doctor, a clinical psychologist. I specialize in treating trichotillomania, anxiety, OCD, and compulsive hoarding. With two young children at home in 2009, I left the comfort of my employer to set up a part-time private practice in order to have some schedule flexibility; I wanted to spend more time at home with my children, have a more balanced home-work life.
All was going so well with two children and a business; why not have a third child? Well, this child’s birth was very different for me. Now, I was a business owner from which I could not take family medical leave. Less than one hour after my cesarean section, I found myself checking my work voicemail and calling a patient who was waiting at my office for a therapist who was not scheduled to come in that day. I could not even feel my feet yet and I was making a professional call from my hospital bed!
And so this new balancing act began. From calling employees while breastfeeding to submitting payroll through my iPhone (thank goodness for free hospital WiFi), I had it all.
I’m taking a bit of a break from writing. I’ll be re-sharing some of my favorite OTR articles and re-introducing you to some awesome OTR guest bloggers, like Feng Shui expert Ann Bingley Gallops. She has advice on how to keep the romance alive long after Valentine’s Day is gone.
Did you connect – or re-connect – with your significant other, in a significant way?
Well, just because Valentine’s Day is in the rear-view mirror, doesn’t mean the fun, surprising, romantic stuff has to fade into the past as well. Instead you can use a few Feng Shui tips and tricks to keep the energy going all year ‘round.
Have you identified the Relationship sector in the Bagua Map of your home?
Place a few images or art objects there that remind you of the romance in your life.
Is the Relationship sector missing from your home?
No problem! When this critical sector is missing, turn up the romantic volume by identifying it in individual rooms and enhancing it there..
Did you receive a card or trinket from your love partner?
Honor this tender gesture by placing it – at least for the next month or so – in a position of honor where you and your partner will see it every day as a reminder of the love you share. Honor your intentions for your relationship by putting it in a Bagua sector that has personal significance.
Do you share an important anniversary of some kind? The day you met, your first date, your wedding day?
Rather than wait a whole year for the big day to roll around, celebrate your love every month on that day! My husband and I have been celebrating our first date every month this way for 10 years now. I can assure you that it’s a great way to keep romance alive. ;)
Does your bedroom match your vision of a romantic love nest?
In your super-busy life it can be easy to lose sight of how much a bedroom means to your love life. Sit down and visualize the room you desire, and start creating it today. And don’t forget to peek under your bed!
Does your home reflect the warmth of your relationship?
Feng Shui uses the Five Elements – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water – to attract and enhance particular energies. Add the passionate Fire element throughout your home with candlelight, shades of red, and materials that invite you to get cozy.
When you put these ideas into place, you’ll be able to ask yourself, “Who needs Valentine’s Day?” – you’ve created it every day for you and your lover.
Here’s to a happy year-round romance!
About The Author
Ann Bingley Gallops and Open Spaces Feng Shui offer a modern, practical approach to the ancient art of Feng Shui, enhancing your life with balance and good health. Ann has been practicing Feng Shui since 1996, and received her Practitioner’s Certificate from the Western School of Feng Shui.Her background includes an MBA from Columbia University as well as Red Ribbon Professional accreditation from the International Feng Shui Guild, the highest Feng Shui qualification available in the U.S. Ann’s services include consultations for homes and offices, plus space-clearing & blessing ceremonies and long-distance, virtual consultations.
I’m taking a bit of a break from writing. I’ll be re-sharing some of my fave OTR articles and re-introducing you to some awesome OTR guest bloggers, like Julie Bestry. Check out what she has to say about organizing the one you love.
When your Valentine presents a gift box, whether packaged in classic Tiffany Blue or lopsided funny papers, your heart fills with warmth. It’s the thought that counts. But other times, the people you love present you with clutter, and just the thought of it can add a wintry layer of permafrost around the warmest hearts.
Helping your loved ones get organized can be a touchy endeavor. You want to help them. (OK, sometimes you just want to help them not make you crazy.) The first key to achieving their goals (and yours) is to remember that disorganization isn’t a character flaw. It’s not a measure of a person’s maturity, intellect or value. It’s just a mismatch between the skills and systems already in place and the ever-changing demands of the world.
Making people feel guilty about their clutter doesn’t help — and indeed, it can hurt their self-esteem and the loving bonds you share. Instead, create a guilt-free environment in which being organized is beneficial, fun and easy.
Start by knowing and talking about what motivates your sweetheart. Take time to focus on what enticements might make your loved one more willing to get organized. If someone is not already actively concerned with how things look, feeling pushed to declutter to make the house “pretty” is often a deal-breaker. Visual appeal just isn’t a huge motivator for many individuals, including a preponderance of men.
Instead of aesthetics, focus on the major tangible, temporal and visceral benefits of getting organized. Discuss how some new skills and systems will save money (which can be better spent on nifty items and meaningful experiences). Explore how a few tweaks may also save time, reduce stress, and increase overall productivity.
If your darling thinks of organizing as a chore, find ways to make behavioral changes an adventure, a challenge or a competition. Appeal to the big kid inside and document successes with points or rewards. Encourage trying to beat a “personal best”.
Once you and your significant other are on the same page regarding the benefits of organizing, find out how you can make the process easier. Ask what makes the steps difficult in the first place.
Are they neglecting putting things away because they don’t want to be “made wrong” by putting something where they think you’ll say it doesn’t belong? Do they cringe at the prospect of feeling clueless or being corrected? Find ways to be equal partners, instead.
Ask your beloved if there are current storage areas that aren’t convenient – places where items are housed that don’t feel logical, or aren’t easily accessed – and rethink the placement. Perhaps the labels for the family filing system aren’t intuitive, leading to paperwork procrastination?
Everything should have a home, and if the storage place is conveniently located and labeled, it makes it easier to put things away.
Paint an outline of the tools that go on the pegboard in the garage to make it simpler to return them. Work together to label files or the edges of shelves in the linen closet so everyone knows where things should go. Sketch a fun little map of where items belong in the fridge or pantry and post it on the door.
Is time an obstacle? Build time into the family schedule (perhaps a nightly 15 minutes before dinner, or mid-morning on Saturdays) for everyone, kids and grownups alike, to tackle their organizing tasks.
If there are household and organizing tasks your darling just can’t stand, why not make a trade? Nobody says you always have to unload the dishwasher and your sweetie must balance the checkbook. Exchange the least-desirable tasks and you might both gain motivation in new areas.
Have patience, and recognize that not everyone starts from the same place. It’s pointless to yell, “You should know how to do this!” and it’s unreasonable to expect that everyone should have the same skills of pattern recognition or ability to conceptualize abstract solutions. Similarly, there are areas where there are no rights and wrongs, but merely where couples have differing organizing styles and retrieval preferences.
Even if you’re great at organizing yourself, consider the potential benefits of outside coaching and assistance. My mother is an excellent driver (insert your own Rainmanjoke here), but she recognized, after a few initial runs, that a driver’s education course and a few formal driving lessons might reduce my teenage stress level (and her own).
You wouldn’t set your own arm if it were broken, would you? You don’t expect people to be able to churn their own butter or prepare their own taxes. Think of organizing as a combination of skill and training. Can’t we all use a little help with some things? Consider a trainer for organizational fitness!
Engaging the services of a professional organizer allows both of you to benefit from the technical expertise of a neutral, judgment-free third party. A professional organizer can provide advice and solutions that neither of you might have even considered, allowing you to move forward as loving, equal partners. One might even say, as Valentines.
About The Author
Julie Bestry is a Certified Professional Organizer, speaker and author, who helps individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems. Although a generalist, Julie specializes in paper organizing, blogs as the Paper Doll, and publishes Best Results for Busy People: Organizing Your Modern World.
I’m on a mini-sabbatical and will be re-sharing some of my fave OTR articles and re-introducing you to some favorite OTR guest authors, like Helene Segura. She has advice for parents on how they can help their children tackle educational challenges.
It’s a tough job for parents to walk that line between being a non-participant in their child’s education and being overzealous. The latter calls teachers at all hours of the day and night to ask why their child only made an eighty-nine on a homework assignment that they stayed up all night completing for their child.
The former waits until the last week of school to ask what makeup work can be done so their kid can pass – ignoring the twice monthly requests on progress reports and report cards to call to discuss their child’s grades.
You reside somewhere in the middle. You were as supportive as possible, but tried not to pry too much. You kept up with communications from the school and attended all meetings and events in which your child was involved. But when the first semester report card arrived, you were disappointed with and extremely concerned about the results. Either there were one or more failing grades, or the averages had nose-dived by five or more points.
There are a variety of factors that could have caused the changes, many of which you’ve probably mulled over while scratching your head:
1. Does my child have a learning disability that I never before noticed?
2. Are the teachers being unfair?
3. Is my child not telling me everything that’s happening in class?
4. Is my child experiencing some type of emotional or behavioral struggle?
5. Has my child started “hanging out” with the wrong crowd?
One question that is often not asked, however, is “Has my child reached a point where his/her organizational skills no longer meet the challenges s/he faces?”
As adults, we often heap on more commitments and responsibilities and sometimes push ourselves to the breaking point. We’ve managed to develop coping skills because we’ve been doing this for decades. Kids lack the lifelong experience that we have, and we sometimes forget that they need to regroup and recharge more often than we do.
Organizationally, there are many avenues to explore, but the challenges often trace back to two core issues: lack of time management and lack of structure.
To begin addressing these challenges, take a look at:
1. Your child’s extra curricular schedule.
By the time you factor in practice time, commute time, chores and eating, how much time is left for studying and fun? As adults, we tend to deny ourselves of the fun; it’s crucial that kids do not. I typically find with my clients that homework is supposed to be done on the go – in between practices or in the car. Those are not environments that are conducive to uninterrupted study periods. I encourage those clients to set up a specific amount of time at home each night so that their kids can focus. Sometimes that means shelving one of their activities.
2. Your child’s study area.
Do your children have a specific area where they can do their homework? Is there a desk or table where they can write? Are there supplies located there so that your kiddos don’t have to hunt all over the house for what they need? Having a designated spot allows your children to focus on the task of studying instead of killing time trying to find a place to get settled. When it comes to studying, they shouldn’t be nomadic; they need a home base.
3. Your child’s routines.
Even the most creative, right-brained children thrive on routine. Tasks don’t necessarily need to be completed at the exact same time each day, but they should be completed. If necessary, have a task check list in the kitchen, in their bedroom, and/or on the front door to help them remember what needs to be done each day. Whether diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, or nothing at all, my clients who struggle the most with keeping up rely on checklists in multiple places, including their smartphone.
If the report card was not what was expected, it’s time for a sit-down with your child. Depending on the age, this might be while cuddling during Mommy and Me time or in between gaming sessions of Call of Duty. The important thing is to open up the lines of communication.
Discuss the three points above. If it doesn’t solve your child’s issues, it will at least act as a springboard into what is causing their struggles.
About the Author
LivingOrder San Antonio CEO, Helene Segura, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and Certified Productive Environment Specialist™. A former award-winning teacher turned organizing and productivity consultant, Segura’s book, Less Stress for Teachers: More Time & An Organized Classroom, addresses the thinking behind how to overcome “the overwhelm” that teachers feel on a daily basis. It’s a thinking pathway that helps teachers bust through the emotional, psychological and organizational walls that prevent them from utilizing planners and other tools.