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Custom Closet Design & Organization: 8 Step How To

Recently, we completed a closet organizing project for a client, which included an Elfa-designed custom closet installation. The end result provided an excellent organizational structure, a significant increase in visual appeal, and overall better utilization of the space. We highly recommend that clients consider a custom design when conducting a closet overhaul. The option ensures that you’ll have specially designated space for all of your belongings and tends to encourage long-term organization. If you are considering a custom closet sometime in the future, we have put together the basic steps of how to go about the process. 

HOW TO DESIGN, INSTALL, & UTILIZE A CUSTOM CLOSET

1) Review the contents of your closet and dresser. Determine how much will stay, add in to the new closet space, and how much you’d like to purge.

2) Take measurements of all walls, angles, and dimensions in your closet. Get an accurate count of shoes, handbags, scarves, ties and belts.

3) Work with a closet design expert at The Container Store, California ClosetsHome Depot, or other company and decide on a design that works for your individual needs.

4) Prior to installation, conduct a major closet purge and donate all items that you no longer wear, like, or do not fit. Don’t forget to purge your dresser drawers at this time too.

5) The day of installation, ready the closet by removing all clothing and other belongings.

6) During the install, prepare your clothing and other belongings for reintegration – rehang clothes if switching hanger styles and wash anything that hasn’t been touched in a while.

7) Following the install, add clothing back into the closet, keeping in mind that this is your best chance to implement a new organizational strategy such as by color, style, frequency of use, or post-wash folding vs. hanging preference.

8) Enjoy your new closet and work hard to maintain the organization!

If you have any questions or would like to have us consult on your closet, please feel free to get in touch.

TWOW

 

Guest Post: Turn Your Home Office Space Into A Shining Beacon Of Creativity

The whole notion of the typical “office space” is one that’s changed much over the years, and with the advances in technology allowing people to work from pretty much anywhere on the planet, the corporate office is slowly giving way in parts to the home office. Whether it’s someone trying to balance home and work life, someone running a business from their own home or simply someone putting in those extra hours outside of work, the home office is becoming a much more common feature of homes across the globe – but how many of them are actually “done” right?

Whilst the idea of working at home with your slippers on in front of the TV is an idea that sounds amazing to many typical 9 to 5 office workers, a lot of people who try it will end up commenting on how difficult it is to actually get anything done with so many distractions at home, be it the TV, phone calls, knocks at the door, or trying to keep the dog from jumping on your paperwork whilst the kids are drawing on the walls. If you’re going to work from home, it has to be done properly!

Ideally, a fit for purpose home office should be a space that’s somewhat secluded from the rest of the distractions at home. Whether minimizing noise and interruptions is possible or not, organization should always be the key. Without a properly organized space your working day will fall apart in less time than what you spend in traffic when you go out to work. Now, obviously not everyone has the space in their home to have a completely dedicated area for a home office, but trying to work in a cramped room, squeezed between the christmas decorations, suitcases and any other old junk is clearly not going to be helpful. A home office should try to imitate an actual group work office as much as possible in that appropriate furnishings are a must have. Don’t try to keep your files all together in a pile on the desk or the floor, store them away in a filing cabinet, or ensure that you have a desk with adequate storage space in drawers so that you know exactly where everything is. If you don’t want to spend money on furniture for a “non-family” room, drag your old sock drawer in from the bedroom, it works the same and gives you an excuse for shiny new bedroom furniture. Either way, you don’t want to have to spend half the day hunting around the house just to find out that your sales invoices have somehow ended up on the back garden!

Comfort is a must too, many people might just think dragging a dining room chair into the office will do just fine, but without a proper comfortable office chair before long you will be fidgeting, moving around, and getting up because of back pain, all drawing you away from the task at hand. Once you’ve had one bad experience, the thought of going back to that uncomfortable position you’ll find yourself procrastinating and putting off going back to work at every opportunity – ultimately lowering morale and productivity.

This also spreads into the overall decor of the room, if your office space is disorganized, uncomfortable and dull the odds of you actually wanting to get any work done are going to be greatly reduced, and you’re going to be miserable about having to be in there. A healthy, stimulating environment is what you need, and you shouldn’t hold back. Attractive paints or wallpapers on the walls are more likely to make you enjoy being in the room, and may well get your creative juices flowing. Also try to make the most of the light in the room, a warm glow to the room will make things much more cheerful. If you’re stuck in a windowless room, ensure you’ve got a good light source, preferably with daylight bulbs. It can also help to add some plant life into the room, so that when you’re all shut away, you don’t feel like the last living thing trapped on earth.

Many people have the dream of working from home, that can often turn into a nightmare, but with proper organization, a bit of creativity and a good interior design job, your home office space can be transformed into the shining beacon of creativity you long for – and yes, slippers are still allowed.
This post was generously written by Danny Watkinson at JWA Design.  

Simple Ways to Feel More Organized

Organizing professionals understand that there are some small things you can work on that make a big difference in the level of organization you feel in your home. These changes don’t take a lot of effort and can be fairly inexpensive, but you’re certain to notice the positive effect in your home. Here are some of our favorite ideas.

1) New Hangers: Changing out your mismatched, old hangers to a complete set can instantly make your closet appear more organized. The process of replacing the old ones can also be a good time to complete a clothing purge and re-organization.

2) Junk Drawer Organization: This is one area of the home that is frequently out of control. Tidying it up with some drawer organizers can feel like a huge relief for most people, but the task can be fairly quick.

3) Implement a Mail Routine: Instead of opening the mail and letting it pile up on the counter for months, institute a daily routine where you open the mail over your shredder and near you filing system. Once mail has been sorted, shred the unnecessary items and file the rest in appropriate mail system folders.

4) Labels: It can be difficult for large families to all contribute to a new system of organization. Labels can help them stick to the system and remember where things belong. Use a label maker to identify where things live in the kitchen, medicine cabinet, office, play room, and anywhere else where items are frequently used and moved.

5) Create Return, Donate, & Repair Bins: Some of the most common clutter that accumulates in homes are items that are actually meant to leave, but never quite make it out. Creating a three bin system in your garage or car can help you move these items along more quickly. When an item needs returning, donating, or repair, simply place it in the correct bin and handle on a regular basis.

 

6) Contain Unsightly Cords: Use a cord organizer to discreetly contain and hide cords in your office or living room.

7) Clear off Elevated Flat Surfaces: By taking a few minutes to clear the surfaces in your home of clutter, you’ll feel a greater sense of organization throughout. All elevated flat surfaces count, so don’t forget places like dresser tops, nightstands, and kitchen counters.

8) Bathroom Cabinets: These spaces are often cluttered, but also underutilized. Measure the space and purchase bins or baskets that offer greater use of the full height and width. Organize using a like-with-like strategy.

What are your favorite quick organizing ideas?

TWOW

 

Time Management: 7 Tricks from the Pros

Time management professionals and gurus each have their own set of strategies and techniques that they recommend. We’ve found that some work better for us at WOW and we’re sharing them with you today.

1. Prioritize: A common problem people face is knowing what’s important and what’s not. When creating your to-do list utilize the time management matrix to the right to determine which items are urgent and important and which can be de-prioritized to the bottom of the list.

2. Do Quick Things Immediately: If you have several tasks on your to-do list that each take 5 minutes, get them all done immediately. You’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment getting them off of your plate and then you can move on to the larger items.

3. Dedicated Time: If you have a project that needs a significant amount of time and attention, dedicate a specific hour (or 3) to focus on it’s completion. Turn off distractions and commit to it’s completion during this time frame.

4. Time Inventory: If you find chunks of your day frequently going missing, take a few days to note and inventory where your time is being spent, down to the minute. Following the inventory process, evaluate what areas could be used more efficiently and make the necessary changes.

5. Calendar with Buffers: If you are often late, consider building in travel time to your calendar. For example, if an appointment is from 3-4pm and it takes 20 minutes to get there, schedule the appointment on your calendar from 2:40pm-4:20pm. This way you won’t over-extend yourself before or after the obligation.

5. Block-Off Email Time: Email is one of the biggest time-consumers of our day. Instead of checking emails as they come in, schedule specific times during the day to review and respond to emails. And remember, being the person who responds immediately to emails doesn’t always mean you are the most productive.

6. Eliminate the Unnecessary: Sometimes companies and individuals schedule meetings out of routine and not necessarily out of need. Review the meetings, calls, and regular appointments in your life and decide what is adding value. If the meeting is mandatory yet adds little value to your day, consider discussing how to improve or eliminate it with your management.

7. Focus, Focus, Focus: Many people have multiple roles (entrepreneur, employee, mother, wife, etc.) that each have different responsibilities. While multi-tasking can sometimes be effective, most of the time it hurts the overall output quality in one or more areas. Instead of juggling multiple roles, commit to focusing on just one role at a time, as much as possible.

What is your favorite time management trick?

TWOW

Living with Less: How to Regulate the Amount of ‘Stuff’ in Your Home

One of the main ways we become overwhelmed with disorganization is by accumulating more ‘stuff’ than our spaces can accomodate. Over time, even the most conscious consumer can find themselves in excess if they do not take steps to regulate the inflow and outflow of things. In order to assist our readers in managing their personal collections we’ve put together a few rules for regulating the amount of ‘stuff’ in our lives.

1)  Know What You Have: If you are planning a shopping trip to the grocery store or the mall, before you leave, take an inventory of what you have and what you need. This will help you to avoid buying duplicates.

2) No Spend Commitments: Often times, homes will have packed pantries and freezers and still continue to bring in more food each week. Committing to one week of eating only the items in your home will help you eat down the current stock and save you money. This process is great for using food items that may be expiring in the coming months.

3) Borrow & Share: If you just need the use of something once or twice, consider borrowing the item from a friend or family member instead of purchasing it. This trick works great for specialty cookware (i.e. pasta maker), tools, special occasion clothing, and sports equipment.

4) Don’t Be Afraid to Return: One common issue we see in homes with disorganization problems is that they have a lot of never-used items that are in someway wrong. Instead of keeping those items indefinitely, make an effort to return them asap. To help you do this, immediately place the return item in your car with the receipt once you decide it is not needed.

5) One in, One Out: The one in, one out strategy is fantastic for maintaining the right amount of things for your space. The way it works is before you bring something new into your home, you must first let go of something else. By employing this method you’ll be encouraged to eliminate the things you don’t need and also monitor the incoming items.

6) Scheduled Purging: It’s easy to get distracted and push organizing projects to the bottom of our to-do lists, but if you commit to a regular purge you’ll begin to develop a more clutter-free existence. We recommend setting aside a Saturday once per quarter to complete a full-home round up of all un-used, broken, and unnecessary items.

Good Luck!

TWOW

5 Steps to Help You Actually Start & Complete that Project

We all have projects and tasks that we’ve been meaning to get to for a while. Those items at the bottom of our to-do lists that for one reason or another we’ve procrastinated getting done. Perhaps it’s an organizing project or maybe it’s finally getting to that filing from last year. No matter the task, we’ve outlined some basic steps to help get you started.

1) Review the Project: Although you may have a general idea of what needs to be done, it helps to get a fresh look at the scope of the project. Determine how long it will take, what you need to complete it, and how you will work.

2) Make a Plan: Once you have a basic idea of what needs to be done, it helps to have a specific agenda or outline of how you will work. For example, if the project is to organize your filing cabinets, decide ahead of time, how many years of documents you will keep, what types of docs will be trashed vs. kept vs. shredded, and if you will need input from others during the process.

3)  Schedule the Time: Putting an allotment of time on the calendar is one of the easiest things you can do to ensure completion of a project. If the task will require several chunks of time, schedule the entire process. Don’t forget to leave yourself enough time before and after to keep distractions from creeping in.

4) Gather What You Need: Before you start the project, gather the necessary tools, supplies, and information. This will keep you from using the excuse of not having what you need to put the project on hold mid-process.

5) Focus on Completion: Once you finally get into the actual work, commit to seeing it through to the end, or the pre-determined stopping point. It’s easy to get distracted or frustrated with things, but if you mentally commit to a goal you’ll find it easier to see it through. We also find that a timer set in brief, but effective time intervals can help.

We hope this 5 step process helps to inspire you to get some of those bigger projects started this year. As always, if you need a little extra help, The Well-Organized Woman is happy to assist.

TWOW

Last-Minute Holiday Preparations List

With Christmas just a few days away, many of us are rushing to make last-minute preparations. While it’s unlikely we’ll forget to purchase wrapping paper, there are other tasks that may fall through the cracks. To mitigate this potential problem, we’ve created the following list of overlooked holiday to-do’s.

  • Surprise Guests: Purchase a few extra gift cards or bottles of wine for unexpected holiday guests
  • Holiday Tips: Prepare and deliver your holiday gratuities/gifts for service personnel (baby sitters, maids, teachers, postal service person, etc.)
  • Stockings: Buy stocking stuffers
  • Thanks: Purchase thank-you cards for holiday gifts received
  • Overnight Guests: Clean and prepare your home for out-of-town guests
  • Charity: Send all charitable donations before the end of the year for inclusion in 2012 taxes
  • New Years Eve: Make reservations for NYE events or meals
  • Batteries: Purchase a few packs of batteries in varying sizes
  • Groceries: Review your holiday meal menus and determine what still needs to be gotten off of the grocery list
  • Receipts: Organize all holiday gift purchase receipts before the gift-exchange in case someone needs to return something. A new app called Topanga is also a great tool for keeping track of your holiday (and other) purchase information, returns, price details, coordinating products, and warranties.
We also encourage you to check out our downloadable and printable Holiday Planner eBook for more tips of preparing for the holidays in an organized fashion. The ebook is available for purchase ($2.99) via Lulu.com:  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/HolidayPlanner

We wish you a very happy and organized holiday season!

TWOW

Guest Post: Harmonize Your Home for the Holidays in a Hurry

As the holidays draw near, it seems we’re all getting busier by the day and more stressed by the hour.

Still need to rearrange furniture to make room for the tree?

Maybe you’ve worn grooves into the linoleum from pacing around the kitchen in anticipation of that dinner party you’re going to host?

Whatever your situation, you might think it’s too late to get your home into Santa-style shape.

You would be wrong.

Here are five steps for de-cluttering your home in time for the holiday festivities.

1. Focus on the main rooms. Pick the rooms where your family and visitors are likely to linger, mingle or dine. Concentrate on the dining room, living room, main bathroom and coat closet, for example, before you worry about the kids’ bedrooms, the tool shed out back or the canning cellar under the stairs (shout-out to my family back in Appalachia). Remember — you can always go through other rooms once you’ve handled the main ones, but if you’re pressed for time, don’t set unrealistic goals. Concentrate on the important, the reasonable, the achievable. Once you’ve picked your targets, make sure you take on just one room at a time.

2. Out with the old. It helps to organize and arrange what you want to keep by removing the items you don’t. Gather boxes and label them “donate,” “junk,” and “maybe.” Then, start filling the boxes. Use the “maybe” container for the things you know you should toss – like that decorative “glam rock” rudolph statue you thought was a good idea back in December of ’86 – but don’t have the heart to let go. It’ll help get the ball rolling without causing hesitation or regret since you can make those tough decisions later.

3. Think big. Once you’ve cleared out the clutter that has to go, look at the furniture and larger items in the room. Rearrange before you do anything else. For example, if you need to move the couch to fit the tree into its proper corner, or if you have to slide a random floor cabinet from the dining room to clear space for a kid’s table, do that now.

4. Details matter. Now that you’ve handled the big, space-hogging furniture, take a second look at the room. Notice dirt or dust one the floor where the couch used to be? Are there any stray DVDs, books, papers or other eye-sore-type clutter laying around? If so, sweep the dirt and put the movies back where they belong. If they don’t have a proper place, create one. You can always hide a stack of DVDs under an end table with a floor-length table cloth. Get creative and hide any unsightly clutter that you can’t get rid of. Just resist the urge to bury your husband’s full-size Christmas Story leg lamp in the backyard. Remember, the holidays are supposed to be a peaceful time. Avoid inciting World War III.

5. Teach and preach. This is probably the most important step. If you don’t tell your kids or spouse where things go, they won’t know how to put things back. Stay on top of everyone and let them know that clutter and messy rooms won’t be tolerated (until after the holidays, at the very least).

Bonus Tip: Get your family to help. By “get,” of course, I mean force, threaten, bribe or anything else you can do to get them to chip in. Let them know that you are NOT going to do this alone. The more they help, the more likely they’ll be to stay on top of the upkeep afterward.

Once you’ve finished, sit back and soak it all in. After all, the holidays only come once a year (thank God).

 ——

This post was generously was written by Dan Reidmiller, Creative Director for College Hunks Hauling Junk. College Hunks Hauling Junk and College Hunks Moving is a national junk-removal, labor services and moving company, with franchises serving 45 markets in 25 states, including areas such as Central PA, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Northern NJ, Tampa Bay, Washington DC and now Miami.

 

10 Strategies for Organized Gift Wrapping

The wrapping of holiday gifts is often believed to be one of the more tedious tasks of the season. If you have a lot of wrapping to complete this season and are looking for ways to organize and streamline the process, use one of our simple tips.

1) Wrapping Party: Make wrapping fun, by inviting a friend or two to join you. They can bring over their gifts and as a group you can get the task completed while enjoying some quality time with each other.

2) Enlist Help: If you have older children who are capable of wrapping, consider assigning each family member another member’s gifts to wrap. This way each person is only responsible for one set of gifts to wrap. This will help to lessen the burden on you.

3) Gift Bags: We know they aren’t the prettiest of wrapping options, but gift bags are both quick and reusable, thus saving time and money. These are also helpful when little ones want to assist in the wrapping process.

4) Wrapping Services: If you truly do not have time to wrap, get help from a professional. We wrap many of our client’s gifts each year and even offer a discount on holiday service packages. Contact us for details.

5) Sending Gifts: When purchasing gifts that will be shipped to their final destination, attempt to buy online and select the gift wrapping option. Often times, the cost to ship through the online shop is cheaper than if you were to buy locally and ship yourself, leaving you with extra money for the gift wrap option.

6) Supplies: Before starting a wrapping session, check your supplies and make sure that you have ample amounts of tape, paper, decorative accessories, and a good pair of scissors.

7) Wrapping Paper Tips: Keep the presents organized by assigning each person in the family a specific wrapping paper design. Using this strategy helps to keep clear which packages are for which person and can also save you money on gift tags.

8) Little-by-Little: While some people prefer to get all wrapping done at once, others do not have a large chunk of time to commit. If you fall into this category, commit to wrapping one to two presents per day until the holiday arrives.

9) Keep It Simple: Martha Stewart-esque packages are lovely to give and receive, but that level of decorative creativity is not for everyone. Make wrapping easy by choosing a single type of decorative element for this year’s gifts. For example, this year you could use only ribbon or printed tape or bows, but not all.

10) Odd-Shaped Items: When you’ve got something with an unusual shape, don’t worry about attempting to wrap it. Simply get an oversized bow and hide the item until the present opening session begins.

For more wrapping tips and other holiday organization strategies, check out our printable ebook, Holiday Planner: A Comprehensive Organizing Guide for the Holiday Season on Lulu.com.

TWOW

Best Holiday Shopping Apps 2012

Finding the perfect gift for each person on your list, and within your budget, can be a challenge. Luckily, we’ve got some ideas for managing the process and helping to keep costs down.

Online Shopping: 

  • When shopping online, visit coupon websites, such as retailmenot.com for discount codes and free shipping offers.
  • Google Shopping is a simple way to aggregate all online prices for a particular item, including shipping, into one page. Simply search for what you’re looking for and Google Shopper will list all online availability with pricing totals.
  • Slice App enables you to track and organize all of your online shopping, including receipts, shipping and arrival tracking, and order details.

In-Store Shopping:

  • When shopping in store, use RedLaser to scan the bar code and ensure that you’re getting the best available price on the market.
  • The Coupons App is an excellent tool for locating coupons for nearby brick and mortar stores.
  • SnapTell let’s shoppers compare items on store shelves with Amazon.com prices. If you’re planning on shipping the gift anyways, you may as well buy it online and save the hassel.

Other Great Tools: 

  • Gift Plan is the perfect app for anyone who wants to keep an organized gift list on-the-go. It even syncs with your calendar for future birthday and holiday reminders.

We hope these apps will help keep your organized and within budget this holiday season.

TWOW

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