Here are some more great tips to help clear the clutter and do the things that you want to do, while getting things done that you need to do. Basically you need to make a list of everything that you want to do or need to do or should do, then you break up the list of "to do's" into actionable items in a series of steps.
Start with some simple supplies: Get a clipboard, pencil and several sheets of paper. Each room or area gets a separate sheet. Write down everything that you need to do in that room. Include every single project or item - no matter how small, and in no particular order.
Walk around the room, open up drawers and cabinets while you make your list.
Also, write down anything you mentally associate with the room, like creating a budget when you are in the office. It can be big life goals or small errands; the point is to write everything down.
This list isn't a list of "to-do's" - yet. It's just a list of all the things that you want to do that when they aren't done, they create clutter and give us that nagging feeling every time we open the cupboard or the freezer or walk by the pile on the counter.
Next, take a look at your list, and break each item into steps that you can actually do, called action items. Some action items create more action items; write those steps down, as well.
Once you make your action list, you'll know exactly what you need to do and, often, what is preventing you from getting things done. You can also make a decision on whether to do the thing at all. The next step is to assign a place in time to actually do the next step.
TAKING IT TO ANOTHER LEVELAfter my recent tour of the National Association of Professional Organizers' annual conference in Minneapolis, I got a load of fabulous organizing ideas and sampled all the new and innovative organizing products.
I was particularly impressed with the Attic Trac system and am having one installed in my own home so I can actually use my attic to store luggage and holiday decorations without having to install a floor.
What I also like about these products is that most clients I work with have the same issues: tangled cables, scattered toys and no adequate storage for off-season items. Many of these products deal with these common problems and are inexpensive, versatile and functional.
Attic Trac Plus: Have an attic, but no attic flooring? This innovative track-and-cable system allows you to easily access stuff from attics, crawl spaces, under stairs and even rental storage units. Brilliant, and so simple! (www.attictrac.com)
Grid Iron: Garage-storage solutions are now available to consumers so you can install it yourself. This versatile system turns your garage walls into usable storage that can be configured any way you need.
Kits include steel wall panels, shelves, butcher-block work bench, bins and hooks. (www.gridironusa.com).
Neat-Oh! : Great for organizing kids' toys, the company's award-winning ZipBins are collapsible, portable boxes that unzip to form playing surfaces and zip back up into boxes to store the toys.
Very cute, and a great gift for any family that has small toys strewn about the living-room floor. (www.neat-oh.com)
Game Savers: Board-game box crushed or missing the top or game pieces? These plastic containers organize and store board games and are a great way to teach children valuable organizing skills.
They even make setting up games easier and faster.
With the interior compartments, pre-printed labels and secure lids, these simple boxes really help keep games organized and intact. (www.obhenterprises.com).
Neat Receipts: Organizers loved the Scanalizer so much, they bought them on the spot! This tiny device (about the size of a three-hole punch) scans anything: receipts, business cards or anything else you need to convert from paper to digital.
Have a stack of business cards you want to enter into your computer?
Just scan them in, the software figures out all the details and enters the information into your Microsoft Outlook, Excel or many other software programs. Neat indeed! (www.neatreceipts.com)
KangaRoom Storage: Making unique and fashionable storage products for everyone in your family, this company has some great products for organizing your electronics.
We really like the cell-phone charging station (labeled slots for every phone in your family, and the cords stay hidden and organized).
My particular favorite: the travel cord storage organizer. Many of these products are available at Storables, or go to www.kangaroomstorage.com.
Cable Capture: Another cable-storage solution, this one works great for the tangle of cables behind your computer, TV or stereo electronics. (www. cablecapture.com)
P-Touch label maker from Brother: We love label makers! You won't believe how often you'll use one until you have one. There are a variety of sizes, so check out any office supply store and start labeling! (www. brother-usa.com/ptouch/)
Organize Magazine: Finally, a magazine dedicated to the art (and science!) of organizing. The premier edition is coming out in June, and organizers everywhere are looking forward to this practical and pretty monthly magazine. (www.organizemagazine.com)
Scrap Rack: Know a scrapa-holic? This breakthrough (and Washington state company) in scrapbook organizing will help your favorite scrapper find all their supplies easily. It uses see-through pockets for storing samples of your supplies.
Place a number on the pocket and a corresponding number on the bin that holds the supplies, and presto, you have an easily browsed index of all your stuff. Try the system for fabric, too! The rack makes it easy to page through the samples. (www.scraprack-and-more.com)
Professional organizer Leah Stahlsmith may be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.