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Tips & Tricks from the Experts in the Industry

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  • 02 Oct 2012 5:01 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Statistics show over the next 20 years 76 million Americans will retire. Many will downsize.Downsizing can be a very difficult event for many seniors. If they have lived in their current home for a long period of time there are probably many possessions stored. Whether a move is already planned or a senor is just planning ahead, simple steps can be taken to make it less stressful. Many of the seniors today lived through the depression so they have kept everything. Many think they might need those items in the future, but rarely do. It is not uncommon to find bills, magazines and papers from 50 or more years ago. By dividing the downsizing project into small parts, the feeling of being overwhelmed, should be lessened. Start with the furniture. Removal of furniture that is not used or is crowding the room should be dealt with first. If there are some pieces that some relatives are fond of and are no longer being used to their fullest, giving them away will be the best solution. Look to see if any pieces of furniture are in the way of getting around. Moving some furniture out or just in a new location might allow the senior to move about more freely. Rugs are dangerous, so remove these next. If they are valuable, consider selling them or giving them to relatives who have expressed interest. Divide each bedroom into closets and stored items. As the stored items are gone through, ask how long it has been in storage unused and if a move occurred today, would the the item be needed? Antiques and valuable items can be auctioned or if enough exist, an estate sale might be a good idea.

    Discuss pictures with the family to decide what pictures everyone wants or if there is one particular family member involved in the history of the pictures or genealogy. Eliminating some of the pictures in boxes will free up some needed storage space or make the area more accessible and safe.
    Arrange for shredding of old papers. Eliminate the fears of identity theft and have any papers with personal information shredded. Many communities have shredding days that are free or charge a nominal fee for a charity donation. Take advantage of these. Some companies will come to your home to shred and remember to ask your tax preparer how long to keep your taxes. Most will say 7 years, but ask yours to be sure.
    The kitchen should also be tackled. How many dishes are used daily and are they in a good location? Eliminate pots and pans never used and place those used in a space that is easy to reach. If getting on the hands and knees is no longer an option, move the items used to a better location and use the lower cupboard to store items used only when guests are present. Someone will be happy to get the items for you at that time. If getting on a chair or step stool is unsafe, follow the same rules as above. Make those items used daily to a place that is within easy reach.
    Make life simple, downsize today while time is on your side. It only takes an hour a day or so and in no time, you are living a clutter free lifestyle.

  • 01 Aug 2012 9:39 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    There are many people who are leaving their second biggest investment, their car, in the driveway while their garage holds items they no longer use. Organizing your garage will not only allow room to protect your car from the elements, but outdoor projects become easier when you can find things faster.

    A great time to organize your garage is the day before trash pick-up. Trash items can be taken right to the curb as you find them. Start organizing your garage by getting out as much trash as you can so it’s not in your way as you organize. Also, sort out any paint and hazardous chemicals you will not be using to take to your city’s solid waste department for proper disposal.

    Next, look for items that could be stored in your home and take those inside. Most people are in and out of their garage everyday and their unfinished basement once in a while. Stop tripping daily over items that are used infrequently in the garage and store them in your indoor storage area and out of your way.

    Another category that will immediately free up space as you organize are those items you want to donate. Put the donate items right in the trunk of your car so they make it to the donation center and not back into your garage.

    Once the trash, donate, and the items that belong in your home are out of the garage you can sort the remaining items into categories. The most common categories I find while helping someone organize their garage are; tools, lawn/garden, car supplies, kids toys and bikes, sports equipment, paint/painting supplies, pet items, recreational items such as coolers and lawn chairs, and materials used for projects. Sorting into categories will help you see how many items you have, making it easier to eliminate any duplicates.

    Now that you have the items sorted it’s time to find permanent homes for them. The front of the garage should be used for those items you don’t use very often while the back of the garage is used for items you take in and out of the garage regularly. It makes sense to store the snow blower at the front of the garage during the summer months while keeping the lawn mower at the back of the garage for easy access. As the seasons change so does the location of this equipment. Kid’s toys and bikes are another good thing to keep towards the back of the garage. This cuts down on the possibility of your car getting scratched as they leave the garage while making it easer for kids to get their belongings.

    Also at the front of the garage should be items used frequently in your home. Extra bottled water, packages of paper towels and pet food and be kept near the service door for easy retrieval. Keeping a cubby for outdoor shoes in this area is also helpful. I also recommend a small trash can and recycle bin be kept towards the front, making it easy to dispose of trash from the car.

    When thinking about the permanent location of items, those items you use infrequently should be located on higher or lower shelves saving the shelves that are at chest level for those you use on a regular basis. Paint and painting supplies could be stored on a higher or lower shelf while everyday tools are stored at chest level.

    Once you have found a home for everything label shelves and bins with the category names. This makes items easy to retrieve and put away. Labeling not only helps you find it faster, but others in your household know where things belong.

    When your finished organizing the garage take a step back and look at the trash/donate piles and then look at your car. Remember which one is most important to you so you stay motivated to keep your garage clutter-free.

  • 01 Aug 2012 9:36 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    The school year is right around the corner and now is a perfect time to set your kids up for success.  Check out these tips to help make homework go a bit smoother.  First, create a workstation to keep important school supplies easily accessible.   By doing so you won‘t waste twenty minutes searching for a blue pen because a teacher insists all work is done in blue pen.  If a specified desk or “office” is not available for a workstation, try creating a toolbox.  Stock it with the supplies your kids will need on a regular basis and place it in a common area of your home such as a kitchen cabinet or dining room buffet.  Then just pull it out when they need to work and put it away in its designated home when finished.  Keeping supplies at the ready will help to make sure work is completed in a timely manner and with less stress.

    Next, make studying simpler by creating a subject system.  It's terrible when your child sits down to do homework and realizes they have the wrong text book or notebook.  To help prevent additional trips to the locker or late homework, make books, notebooks and folders easier to identify by coordinating items for each subject.  Cover the algebra book with a bright red color and match it with a bright red notebook.  What if your child doesn’t cover their books?  Make a color copy of the cover of their biology book and slide it into a binder with a clear view pocket on the front for easy identification.  Taking time to organize before school starts can help avoid headaches and arguments after school begins.

  • 10 Jul 2012 9:48 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Are you struggling with all the papers laying around on your desk or perhaps on your kitchen counter?

    You know, those little bits of paper with notes on them with information you received that you don't want to lose, like a phone number.  Here is a good solution to get them organized, gather them all together and first, look them over and decide if you still need the information, if you don't, throw them away.  Second, take action and resolve anything that is on the ones that are left.

    In the future, here is a great way to stop this overflow of paper clutter, try using a small notebook and or your smartphone, (note app) to keep them all in one place.
    I have listed everything from products I saw and want more details on, websites I thought I would like to check out, people I need to get back to for one reason or another and e-mail address I need to add to my contact list the next time I'm on the computer.  I have even listed a great wine I had and want to try later.

    If you opt for the notebook, keeping one in your purse or car can also come in handy.  Just remember to go through it on a regular bases and cross off anything that has been taken care of.  If you are using your smartphone, another option is using your camera to record what you need.  Keeping ahead of the paper clutter will gain you more time and less stress.

    Joan Heath, POC, Professional Organizing Consultant
    Organize it All
  • 04 Jun 2012 7:43 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    The coat closet is always crowded with many coats, hats, gloves, umbrellas and other items that seem to find a home in the coat closet. Many coat closets seem too small to hold all the coats and items end up on the floor or crammed in so tight that nothing can go in or out. Many of the closets have one rod and a shelf.

    There are a few tips to make the closet hold more and be organized which will be covered in this article.  The first step is to remove everything from the closet. Sort the coats into seasons and sort the gloves and hats into types such as driving and outdoor. Separate the scarves and all other items so you know what you have at hand. Go through all the items to make sure they still fit, gloves all have a match, and you are not storing a coat you will never wear.

    I always recommend purchasing an over the door hanger with clear pockets. You can purchase these at many stores and they are inexpensive. In the pockets, put the children's gloves, hats and scarves. This allows the children to retrieve the items instead of calling you each time they need a hat or gloves. It will also eliminate the constant gathering of gloves and hats on the floor when they cannot reach the shelf to put them away. It takes a few times, but they do catch on. These pockets are also a great place for guests to put their hats and gloves. The pockets can hold small umbrellas, binoculars, scarves, hoods to coats, and other items you keep in your coat closet.

    If your coat closet has one shelf, and a large space above, consider installing another shelf. Purchase baskets to fit on the shelf (try for at least 3 per shelf). Place your driving gloves in one, hats in another and outdoor activity gloves in another. If you have a 2nd shelf or have decided to install another one, put items in baskets that are for the other season such as ponchos, umbrellas, rain pants, and maybe even stadium cushions.

    When it comes to hats, I find many of my clients collect caps at different events or have them from work, but never plan on wearing them. To eliminate the guilt, they just throw them in the closet. It is time to give them to someone who needs and wears the caps. Do not keep items you will never wear in an already crammed space. Try keeping the winter hats in one of the baskets and the caps in another location if space is short.

    If you have closet that is too small to hold all your coats, try separating them by season. Put only the current season in the closet. Fall and winter coats take up the most space as they are bulky. For spring and summer jackets, since they take up much less space and usually there are fewer, leave the long coats in the closet and just store the winter jackets elsewhere. Many stores sell cloth bags you can store your off season clothes in. Do not store coats in dry cleaner bags, as they contain chemicals and could cause harm to your coat. Make sure you look at each coat to decide if you need to keep it. Have you worn it in the last 2 years? Is it in the color and style you appreciate?

    If you are lucky enough to have a larger coat closet, consider making part of it a double hang. This way you can fit twice as many coats in and not have to store out of season elsewhere.

    Boots can go on the floor and if you keep your vacuum in the coat closet, put it to the side to avoid damage to the coats. Go through your coats at the end of each season especially if you have children. They can out grow them quickly and someone else could be using them. You might decide the color and style you chose 15 years ago is not what you currently like and look good in. Others can use your coats.

    Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/4512069
  • 02 May 2012 5:10 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    It's May here in North Eastern Ohio and it looks like after a couple of false starts with 80 degree days in March that spring is finally here to stay!

    So, if you're like me you've been walking through the garage for the past couple of months with blinders on, trying not to notice the mess that has accumulated there over the winter - yes, garage messes accumulate in professional organizer's garages too!

    Today we're going to use my EASY™ formula to deal with that accumulated clutter in the garage.

    • First, Empty the  garage of everything. Yes, that means putting it all out on the driveway, so make sure the weather forecast is on your side.  As you pull everything out, put all of the stuff that doesn’t belong in your garage in one area.
    • Next, Arrange the remaining items you’ve removed that will be staying in the garage into categories. Categories I typically use when organizing garages include:  Lawn & Garden, Tools, Car Care, Sports & Recreation and  Kids Stuff.  After you Arrange these items into categories, next Arrange each category into the following categories:  Keep, Donate, Repair, and Dispose.  Pack up the donations and put them in your car immediately so you can donate them the next time you run errands.  Schedule the repair of the items in your Repair pile into your calendar so the repairs actually get done.  Finally, get the Dispose items into the trash right away.  If you have a lot of dispose items, give JunkAway a call.  You should be left with sorted piles of things you are Keeping.
    • Storage: Your next step is to determine how your items will be stored in the garage.  I typically recommend like categories of items be stored together to make items easier to retrieve.  First figure out where the large difficult to store items, such as a wheelbarrow, lawnmower, and/ or bikes will be stored. Now look at what remains in each of your categories and think about how you use these items and how you want to store them:  Do you use these items once a year or on a regular basis?  Will they best be stored on shelves or bins?  Do they need to be placed out of reach of young children?  Can shelves or hooks be added to your walls?  Only once you have identified what will be stored where in the garage and how it will be stored should you buy and install any storage products.
    • You’re almost done – Remember that pile of things that didn't belong in your garage that you created at the beginning of the process?  Now is the time to put those items away or return them to their rightful owner.  Your last step is to put away everything still left on the driveway in its new home and step back to admire what you've accomplished.

    Andrea Sharb
    CPO-CD®, COC® & CPO®  

    S.O.S. ~ Sharb Organizing Solutions, LLC
    Helping You Overcome Overwhelm™

  • 02 Apr 2012 4:18 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®


    The flowers are starting to bloom and the trees are budding. The weather is getting warmer and the sun is shining in. Are you looking around your home and seeing the remnants of winter? It's time to put the winter coats, hats, gloves and boots away!


    Start small if you are shuddering at the thought of spring cleaning. For example, clean out the glove compartment in your car. Remember to keep your registration and proof of insurance handy.


    Keep your counters clutter-free by sorting the mail into "to-do", "file", and "read" piles. Keep the "read" pile down by placing it near a comfy chair so reading is enjoyable, let yourself recycle old items. Most information is online and you do not need to keep out-of-date books or magazines.


    Make mealtime more enjoyable by sorting groceries in the pantry into categories - everyday staples, baking, sauces, fruits & vegetables, etc. Once you have a place it will be easier to unload groceries and find items before mealtime.


    Set a 30-minute timer and go thru a problem closet. Sort items into "keep", "toss", and "pass-on" piles. You will be pleasantly surprised how much you can clear out in 30 minutes.


    Organizing is all about finding the right home for your things. For organizing help and more time saving tips, stop back at http://napo-ohio.com again!


    -- Terry Cowans, Reddin' Up, Ltd.


  • 13 Feb 2011 8:00 AM | Deleted user
    By Claudia Buck (Printed in Columbus Dispatch)

    McCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS Sunday February 13, 2011 6:06 AM

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. undefined As home offices go, Dianna Lovelace’s work space wasn’t the messiest. But every time the Rancho Cordova, Calif., mother and pastor’s wife wanted to pay a bill, do some writing or work on a project, the clutter crowded out her ability to concentrate.

    Like many of us, the energetic mom, who also runs a women’s ministry and teaches motivational workshops, could never find the time to get on top of her home-office clutter.

    And in her otherwise spotless home, it showed. The desk was covered with family photos, piles of paper, bills, school notices. The wall-to-wall shelves were crammed with books, binders, old phone books, family mementoes, magazines, even a wedding bouquet.

    And the floor? It was a holding station for accumulated household stuff: last year’s Christmas wreath, a bedroom comforter, the vacuum cleaner, Goodwill donations, a bag of to-be-shredded papers and 15 years’ worth of women’s conference materials.

    “All I want is peace … and to be able to multitask a little easier,” said Lovelace, who admitted that she procrastinated several years before hiring Tonya Piper, a professional organizer.

    That’s a typical response. “It’s overwhelming for many people. Sometimes they just need permission to get rid of their ‘stuff,’  ” said Piper, a former engineer who has been a professional organizer the past five years.

    The mantra of every personal organizer: Everything in your house needs its own home, including every piece of paper you keep. And even then, we keep too much.

    “People like to pile, instead of file,” said Ann Nagel, the Elk Grove, Calif., owner of Organize With Ann, who has seen clients’ homes with paper piled on windowsills, dining-room tables, bathroom floors and just about any flat surface. The most typical undefined but worst undefined place, she says, is the kitchen counter, where papers easily get wet or spilled on.

    “About 95 percent of what we file, we never look at again. But it’s taking up valuable real estate in our home office,” said Nagel, who turned to professional organizing after 30 years as a legal and corporate secretary.

    When tackling a home-office organization, there are two necessities: a good filing cabinet and a commitment to purge paper. And an understanding that it’s often ugliest at the start.

    To begin, spread your piles on the bed or floor and sort by category: taxes, insurance, bills, owners’ manuals, etc. Put a sticky note on each pile as you go.

    Once they’re sorted, create subcategories. For example, under “Insurance,” you might have separate files: “Insurance-Health,” “Insurance-Life,” “Insurance-Home.”

    Ultimately, those piles should go into a permanent home inside labeled folders in a filing cabinet.

    “It’s not rocket science. Everyone has the same stuff, but with their own special needs,” Nagel said.

    Lovelace already had color-coded many of her women’s workshop files, but they occupied valuable space inside a desk drawer. Because they aren’t used daily or even monthly, Piper moved them to a nearby bookshelf. She turned brown accordion file folders on their sides, facing out, so Lovelace’s rainbow-hued files are easily accessible.

    Another home organizing tip: Have a single place to store incoming papers. It can be a letter tray, a file folder, a basket or even a box.

    “If it’s all in one spot, you stand a much better chance of dealing with it when you’re ready to take action,” Nagel said.

  • 19 Jan 2011 3:59 PM | Deleted user
    The McGhee family is scheduled to be on Oprah Show today February 21, 2011 in a show called Miracle Births, Miracle Babies so be sure to watch it! You can also visit the McGhee family on the McGhee Sextuplets Facebook Page.

    Every January, members of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) raise awareness in a celebration of Get Organized (GO) Month. In the past, the NAPO-Ohio chapter members have gotten together to done Messy Space contests, an organizing lecture series, and decluttered non-profit businesses like the Waste Not Center and Susan G. Komen- Race for the Cure offices. This year a request came from the McGhee family in Gahanna, Ohio who needed help in a new home. Mia and Rozonno McGhee became instant Columbus celebrities after the birth of their sextuplets in June of 2010. Friends, strangers, church members, and family have blessed the family, helping them with the never ending daily needs of six babies.

    They estimate they are using around 40 diapers per day at this point. This means they need lots of supplies on hand. The initial assessment of the family’s organizing needs and budget for the project was done by Ellen Limes .

    Five other organizers, Susan Sugar, Terry Cowans, Mary Donovan, Debbie McRae, and Melanie Dennis, volunteered to help on a very chilly January day to build shelves and sort baby clothes and supplies in an over the garage storage area.
  • 10 Feb 2008 8:00 AM | Deleted user
    By  By Kevin Kidder

    THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH Sunday February 10, 2008 8:49 AM

    The No. 1 problem that Julie Riber's clients have is paper.

    They have piles and piles of the stuff. The junk mail, bills, school assignments, magazines and cards just keep accumulating.

    Riber, a professional organizer who owns Transformare, obviously has a handle on how to deal with the overwhelming challenge.

    Her office, in the basement of her Orange Township home, is bereft of piles. The room is small but has ample space. Everything has a place.

    Corkboards with family schedules line two walls; on another, a tall bookshelf holds binders of all kinds. Everything is labeled.

    On the L-shaped desk are a laptop computer, a coffee mug, several pens and a small U.S. flag.

    The Dispatch recently talked to Riber about her specialty.

    Q: Is your personality reflected in this room?

    A: I'm pretty organized -- even as a kid (I was).

    I remember being in high school, and a lot of my friends, you'd walk into their rooms and it was pretty crazy -- a lot of clothes everywhere, stuff all over the place. My room was never like that, ever. . . . I've just always been fairly neat.

    Q: Is being organized ingrained in a person?

    A: I think it's a combination. Part of it is learned, if you have lived in that environment, and part of it is personality. Some people are more apt to be organized. But different people have different systems. You just have to find a system that works for you.

    Q: You don't have any piles down here?

    A: Just this (pointing to books and brochures). I'm going to Disney, and I'm planning.

    Q: How do you keep this office so orderly?

    A: Really it starts when you get your mail. Immediately get rid of any junk mail. You probably get three or four credit-card offers at least in a week. Just throw those in the shredder every day. And you don't need a really expensive shredder.

    Q: What else do you toss?

    A: I use the rolling 12-month method of filing -- in other words, as soon as I get

    a bill, I take the year before out.

    Some people don't like to do that, but bills -- like electric and gas and all of those other bills -- you can really get all of those online.

    And the other thing is: If you ask me to find my 2006 taxes or my son's medical records, I know exactly where they are.

    Q: Have you ever gotten rid of something you later regretted?

    A: Not really. Well, actually, there was one wooden train set that I wondered if I should have kept.

    It was a Thomas train for my son; he outgrew that. But throwing away the plastic ones, I never regret that.

    Q: What do you have on the bulletin board?

    A: My son's schedules. If it has an end date, I put it up there -- which, you know, school has end dates.

    There is always summer; there are always schedules coming out.

    Right now we have flag football out. Next it'll be lacrosse; after that it will be baseball; and after that we take a break.

    Q: For an office, this is pretty small, isn't it? What is it, 10 by 15 feet?

    A: When you move into college and you're in the dorm, or you move into apartments in college, all of those places are really small. I always try to keep it neat. With the smaller spaces,the neater it is, the larger it works.

    Q: How often are you here?

    A: I'm down here pretty much all day when I'm not helping people out with organizing.

    Q: Is that toolbox in the corner an emergency organizing kit that you use with clients?

    A: I do. I have my tape measure, my stud finder, regular tools and a label maker. Now that's a big deal.

    Here are scissors, and then just other things like different kinds of screws, different nails and pushpins.

    These are furniture movers, We use those to move the furniture if it's too heavy. That's what I take with me.

    Q: So what is in the binders on the bookshelf?

    A: Here we have business cards. I tell clients that these work really well and not to use a Rolodex, and to use one of these (opening up binder with plastic sleeves of cards.) You can put different cards in it and keep it up to date.

    This one (pulling out a thick binder) is kids' artwork. People like to keep a lot of artwork, and I know people do, but what I try to do at the end of the year is pare it down.

    You know, when they have a large project, try to take a picture of it. What are you going to do with a giant piece of cardboard that is probably going to fold up and wilt in the future?

    Q: Is your computer this organized?

    A: I try. I try to keep files all in different folders -- so when I get something I just put it in that folder.

    If I had a bunch of Word files all over the place, I would be crying.

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