Monday, March 29, 2010

ADD and Organization

Children and adults with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) have a harder time trying to stay organized. They get easily distracted and have problems focusing and ignoring those distractions. Telling a child to “clean up their room” doesn’t really mean anything to a child with ADD. Parents are likely to get frustrated because the child is not “listening” and “doing what they were told”.

The problem is that the parent wasn’t more specific. Instead of saying “clean up your room” the parent needs to say “put away all the toys on the floor” or “put your laundry in the hamper”. Very specific tasks. With short task times.

There are many different theories on what causes ADD. One is that it is caused by “chemicals in the brain which coordinates and regulates function and behavior”. A “deficiency in these neurotransmitters can cause a lack of attention” which in turn can lead to clutter and disorganization.

Some people don’t believe that ADD is a “real physical” problem. They think that the child just doesn’t want to “listen” and do what they are told.

Some people believe that diet plays a major problem in ADD. Because of all of the chemicals in our food today they think that kids have been poisoned and their brain functions have been affected.

It’s not really too far fetched. With the huge “organic” movement people are starting to realize that if mother nature didn’t produce it…. it should not go into our bodies.

Some other reasons that people believe are behind ADD are: drugs, brain injury, genetics, sleep disorder and so on…

Children, especially teenagers have so many “normal teenage issues” and then throw in those “hormones” and it’s not easy to distinguish between “normal” childhood and ADD.

Some people aren’t diagnosed with ADD until they are adults. If a person is extremely intelligent or creative it takes longer to diagnosis ADD.

People with ADD have a short attention span. They are easily distracted and can’t stay focused on a task. They get bored easily and therefore avoid doing “boring thinks” like housework.

In order to make things more interesting a person with ADD might wait until the last minute to get things done and then be in “crisis mode”.

People with ADD also tend to be “impulsive” and sometimes make decisions too quickly, such as getting rid of something and then they “regret” it later. After that they might never make another decision again, which can lead to chronic disorganization, clutter and even hoarding.

A person with ADD gets bogged down with “details” and can’t see the big picture.

A Professional Organizer can help a client with ADD stay focused on a specific task and stay on target. Structure is very important with an ADD client. By helping the client make a plan and having a decision making process in place the ADD client can become organized and learn to function better.

Organizational Consulting Services

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Organizing Questions......

If you have any questions, problems or suggestions on topics related to "being organized, how to organize, organizing dilemma's" or anything else in your home, office or life.... just send us an email at .

Put "Organizing Questions" in the subject line and we will try to come up with a solution for you.

We try to cover all the bases, from business organizing, residential organizing, time management, life management.... and show you how "organizing" affects all aspects of your life.

Organizing isn't just about the "clutter" in your closet.... it's about the "clutter" in your life.

Ask away......

Monday, March 22, 2010


Today is “organize your kitchen day”. Don’t worry. It won’t hurt too much. Take a deep breathe and jump right in. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is.

Start by having a “donate box” set aside. If you have duplicates (or triplicates) of an item…consider donating it. You’ll get a tax write-off and more space at the same time!

Get rid of all of the broken cups and plates. Keep like items together. Keep all of your plates together, keep your cups together, keep your glasses together….

If you don’t have a complete set consider putting the items in the “donate box” and replacing it.

Plastic Containers:
Go through all of your plastic containers and make sure that you have matching lids (they are probably hiding with the missing socks!). Throw out any containers that don’t have lids.

Go through each drawer and take everything out and put it on the kitchen table. Wipe out the drawer now that you have the chance.

Put like items together so that you can see what you have. Do you really need 3 meat cleavers? Or 4 large slotted spoons? If you don’t….put them into the “donate box”.

Get some type of “utensil divider” for your drawers. This will keep things neat and organized.

Plastic Wrap / Foil / Bags:
Keep all of your plastic wrap, foil, paper lunch bags…. together in one spot in a drawer or pantry.

Kitchen Towels / Pot Holders :
Keep all of your kitchen towels, dish rags, pot holders….. together in one spot in a drawer or pantry.

Pots / Pans and Lids:
There are a number of different ways to store pots and pans. You can hang them if you have a hanging rack. If you have pull out drawers it makes it really easy to get to them when you need them. If you only have regular shelves you will have to stack them (largest on the bottom).

For your lids….some people like to put the lid right on the pot it belongs to. Some people have a drawer just for lids. There are some “dividers” out there that help you keep your lids more organized. It all depends on preference and space constraints.

But if your lids have no matching pot….. get rid of it !

Baking Sheets & Cake Pans:
Keep all of your baking supplies in one spot. There are great “dividers” that let you stand your baking sheets upright so that you can utilize a small narrow space.

Cleaning Items:
Take everything out from under your sink. If you have more than one (1) of each cleaning item, put the extras in your basement or storage closet. Keep only the supplies you need under the sink. Get some sort of caddy or bucket to hold all of your items (dish detergent, cleansers, steel wool pads, hand soap refill…).

Since most people still keep plastic bags …. get some type of plastic bag holder (there are a variety of options) to keep them all in one place so that they don’t look too messy.

Food Pantry:
Keep like items together (see a theme….). Put all of your cereal, pasta, canned items, spices…together. Stack them if you can. There are shelf dividers out there that can double your storage space.

Now you’ve gone through the entire kitchen and organized each space you will be amazed at how much more room you have.

Organizational Consulting Services

Thursday, March 18, 2010

HOARDING - (part 2 of 2 part article)

The NSGCD (National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization) has a “Clutter Hoarding Scale” that has five (5) levels, from Level 1 being low, to Level 5 being high. They have four (4) different categories which define the severity of clutter and hoarding potential:

* Structure and zoning
* Pets and rodents
* Household functions
* Sanitation and cleanliness

Hoarding can be deadly if you eat old food. Hoarding can cause you to lose your kids. Hoarding can be deadly if a fire breaks out and you don’t have a clear path to the door.

People can’t part with things for many reasons. They can have an “emotional or sentimental” attachment to things. The object reminds them of an “event” or “person” or “place”. By throwing it out they are “throwing out” that memory. And that can’t happen.

For a lot of hoarders they can’t make decisions. “What if I need it someday”. By not making decisions they can’t make the “wrong” decision.

A lot of people don’t know how to organize. The hoarder might use that excuse for his “piles”. He also might use the excuse that he needs to “see it” to find it. Therefore everything is out and piled high. Very visual.

A lot of hoarders are older people that want to “have things” for their children or friends….”just in case they need it”.

Control issues are a major problem with hoarders. Once they “let go” of an item they won’t be able to “control it”, therefore they won’t get rid of it.

There are a few treatments for Hoarders that have helped. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Behavioral Therapy.

The therapist helps them “restructure their thoughts and beliefs” and can “teach the hoarder how to tolerate their fears”.

Family and friends of hoarders don’t always understand that “hoarding” is an “illness” and that the hoarder needs professional help. They sometimes feel that by just going in and cleaning out the house (sometimes even when the hoarder doesn’t know that they are going to do it) that everything will be “o.k.”. Once the mess is gone. Problem solved. But that can actually make it worse.

A Professional Organizer can teach the hoarder how to improve their organizational skills.

It’s a long process. The hoarder did not get that way overnight.

You can’t rush the process or the hoarder might complete shut down. You have to start slowly and show a lot of compassion. If you just “throw out” all of the “stuff” the hoarder might feel that you really don’t understand or care. And you will have lost the battle. By giving away or donating some of the objects you might be able to break through to the hoarder by making him feel that his “things” had a purpose. A purpose for someone else, not him. This is a very delicate area. You are trying to teach the hoarder how to be more organized, yet you don’t want to convey the message that “yes, this stuff is really worth something which is why I should have kept it”.

Hoarding is a complex issue. An issue that not even the mental health community can agree on. An issue that there might not be a cure for.

It’s a problem that many people won’t admit they have and one that might cost them their family or even their life.

A problem that is more common than you think.

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, March 15, 2010

HOARDING - (part 1 of 2 part article)

Some people have an obsessive need to acquire things. They tend to develop an emotional attachment to things that many of us would consider trash.

A subject that has been in the public eye recently is that of “hoarding”. People watch it on T.V. and are amazed that people actually live like that. What they don’t realize is that “hoarding” is more common than they think.

What exactly is “hoarding”? According to “Frost & Hartl’s (’96) definition of clinical hoarding:

1) the acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value
2) living spaces sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designated
3) significant distress of impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding

What you see on T.V. are people with houses full of “stuff”. Useless stuff. Pieces and parts of stuff. Stuff that has no “value”. Stuff that they will never use or couldn’t use up in fifty years. Stuff that doesn’t work. Stuff that is old and rotten (food). Stuff that is outdated (medications).

Floor to ceiling, they can’t see into the room, they can’t walk in the room…..stuff.

But to these people it is “precious”. Stuff that they need. Stuff that they will “someday” use. Stuff that they can pass down to their children. Stuff that “someone someday” will need.

Stuff that they can’t part with. Stuff that they won’t part with. Stuff that they will never in a hundred years be able to wear, use or eat.

It’s almost impossible for the ‘average person’ to understand. Yet, it’s a phenomenon that is growing and more common than you think. As a Professional Organizer I have run into this situation numerous times.

One thing that might surprise many people is that the “hoarder” is not some “lower class” or “poor” person that doesn’t know any better. Hoarders come in all shapes, sizes and economic levels. They can be highly educated, professional people. They can hold high level jobs and wear suits.

But they won’t allow you into their home because they don’t want you to know their “secret”.

Hoarders can be elderly people that have accumulated “things” over a lifetime. They don’t want to throw anything out because their children “will want it someday”.

Hoarders can be people that have lived through the depression and don’t ever want to feel that they “won’t have enough” of …whatever.

Hoarding is a very difficult problem to “fix”. You might be able to convince a hoarder to “clean up” his home but that won’t “fix” the problem. It goes much deeper than that. Some hoarders believe that if they throw things out “bad things will happen”.

Most hoarders don’t think that they have a “problem”. They aren’t willing to “change”. And without their willingness and cooperation there isn’t much that can be done.

Hoarders suffer from low self-esteem and many times isolation because they won’t allow anyone into their home so that they won’t be found out.

Hoarding isn’t about “being clean or messy”. It’s not about “being lazy”.

There are so many aspects and / or reasons for hoarding. Not all of them are known and not all of them are understood. Some reasons are: Depression, OCD, Mental Illness, a life altering or traumatic experience….

**** (part 1 of 2 part article).

Organizational Consulting Services

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Business Organizing

On any given workday, business people are inundated with paper or training materials, an influx of e-mails, and piles of snail mail. Under a mountain of files, whether electronic or paper, it’s sometimes a challenge to find that one needed document or e-mail.

In fact, thirty percent of all employees’ time is spent searching for lost documents, according to a 2006 Boston Globe article. As business evolves and people recognize the need for personalized filing systems, tips on how to control e-mail, and better project management skills, professional organizers are sought after more than ever before

In fact, more than 148,000 clients were served nationally by members of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO®) in 2008.

As a professional organizer, and NAPO® member, I work with clients on organizing their businesses and offices and have a few tips that will help to increase productivity

• Infuse color. If traditional paper filing tools are not working for you, it could mean that you need to add color to your system Many office supply companies now offer a variety of paper organizing tools for more creative thinkers, and professional organizers can help figure out what works best for you .

• Tame your desktop. Only keep items you use regularly on top of your desk. Instead of looking at a piece of paper and setting it on your desk, use that time to make a decision about that document and place it in a file, trash can, or recycle bin. You will spend less time looking for papers when you need them if they are in a place that makes sense rather than under a pile on your desktop.

• E-mail filing systems are just as important. Professional organizers can help you create e-mail folders that make sense for your business needs, and can teach you skills to keep important e-mail accessible but under control.

• To-do lists can help with time management. Creating a plan at the beginning of the day makes it easier to prioritize tasks even if other projects pop-up as you go about your day.

Professional organizers suggest making to-do lists at the end of the work day so tasks are accomplished the next morning before new projects are assigned.

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, March 8, 2010



1) Stick to the “ one-for-one “ rule. After you buy a new piece of clothing, get rid of one piece. This will save space in your closet and make you think about your purchase knowing that you will have to get rid of something when you get home.

2) Keep like items together. Sweaters, skirts, dresses, pants… Keep like colors together.

3) At least twice a year (maybe the spring and fall) go through your closet and get rid of clothes that you haven’t worn in a while, don’t fit or you are just plain tired of. Remember to donate them to an organization or church group.


4) Keep a pre-printed grocery list in your kitchen and as you run out of things just check them off on the list and you will never again forget something while you’re in the store.

5) Plan your meals a week ahead of time and make your grocery list at the same time. That way you will have all of the ingredients needed for each meal.

6) Use baskets in your kitchen cabinets for snacks (it takes up less room than keeping them in the original container). For kids put the baskets on a lower level shelf.

7) Use organizing dividers in your drawers to keep your utensils in place.


8) Only keep essentials on your desk. When you are done working immediately put it back in a drawer.

9) Keep all of your office supplies in one place. Keep like items together.

10) Use some type of divider or baskets to keep your pens, paperclips, staples….. organized.


11) When going through your mail automatically throw the “junk” mail into the trash can.

12) File any bills that come in the mail in a “bills to pay” folder for paying at a later date.

13) Set aside a specific day or time every week (or two) to pay bills.

14) Set aside a specific day or time every week to do all of your filing.

15) Have one file for “taxes” and put anything related to taxes (W4’s, financial statements, loan information…) in this file.


16) Keep a notebook and pen in your glove compartment. Great for notes or if you need to record mileage for business expenses.

17) Keep a few “cloth” bags in your car at all times. Great for grocery shopping (now that everyone is moving away from plastic). Also great to keep the clutter from spreading throughout the entire car.

18) Keep a basic emergency first aid kit in your car. You’ll never know when you need that Band-Aid.

Special Occasions:

19) Buy all of your birthday cards for the year at once. Address them and write the persons birthdate in pencil in the upper right hand corner where the stamp would go. Then put them into a pendaflex folder labeled by month. Near the end of the month look at the next month and pull out the cards that need to be mailed. You will never miss a birthday again.

20) Have a “present” closet or shelf. Keep a supply of basic items such as candles, stationary, games…so that you will always have something on hand if case you need a last minute gift. Stock up on items when there is a sale.

Happy Organizing !

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, March 1, 2010


Getting rid of the clutter on top of your desk doesn’t mean that your office is organized. There is probably “hidden clutter"….in your computer.

Just as you should clean out and de-clutter your desk and office …. you should also de-clutter your computer.

Your “inbox” is probably filled with a ton of mail. Mail that should have been deleted, filed or dealt with a long time ago.

Don’t use your inbox as a “holding” spot for every piece of mail that you get. Don’t use is as a “catch all” or a “library of information”. Your inbox is just a “mailbox”. Use it as such.

You get your regular mail out of the mailbox at your house. So do the same with your “email mailbox”.

First, start by making a list of items that you want / need to keep. For example:
* Mail from my Boss
* Mail from Client “A”
* Mail from Client “B”
* Mail from Vendors
* Mail from Teachers
* Mail from H.R. Dept
* Articles to Read
* Meeting Notes
* Newsletters
* Financial Information
* Letters to Clients

Create a “folder” for each of these categories. Make sure that the name that you give to your folders is descriptive enough so that you know what’s in them. It doesn’t help if you just move things from your Inbox to another folder and then can’t find it when you need it.

When you send email always put something descriptive into the subject line. That way the recipient knows what the email is about and it’s more likely to get read. If you leave the subject line blank it might end up in someone’s Spam or Trash folder.

When you need someone to answer a question or give you some information in an email, ask them to also put something into the subject line. Some email programs allow you to ‘sort’ your email by subjects or they will automatically put your email into an appropriate folder based on who it’s from. Take advantage of the different functions of your email program to sort things in a more organized manner.

Once you have decided on “folders” there are two schools of thought on how to “organize and deal with” your email.

The first says that after you receive the email you should look at the subject line and immediately put it into the “appropriate folder” and deal with it later (at the end of the day or another time set aside for dealing with email).

The other school of thought is that you read the email, deal with it (or delete it) and then file it into the appropriate folder if you want or need to keep it.

Choose a method that works best with how you work and what works best for you.

However, everyone agrees that you should set aside a very specific time to actually read your emails. Whether it’s once a day (for personal email) or two (2) or three (3) times a day for business emails….you should NOT become a SLAVE to your email.

Do not check your email every single time you hear that “you’ve got mail” noise ! This is a waste of your time. For some people that could mean checking their emails 20 – 50 times a day ! Not only are they checking their email, they are also making decisions on what to do with their email or responding to their email. That would also mean that they are not getting anything else done.

By setting up a schedule to check your emails at certain times of the day ….you have the rest of the day to actually do your job. Set aside a specific time (whether it’s 15 minutes or ½ hour) a couple of times a day (morning and afternoon, mid-morning, lunch, mid-afternoon…. whatever works for you) to check and deal with your email.

Another important thing that you should do is to “log out” of your email account after you are done reading it. Do not just “minimize” your email account because you will be tempted to check your email more frequently.

You should also set a schedule (once a month, once every other month, once every six months…) to go through and purge things that you don’t need any longer. This will also free up space on your computer.

Technology is wonderful….if you let it work for you….and don’t become a slave to it.

By being organized and having a set routine you will save yourself a lot of time and will also find that you are a lot more efficient.

Organizational Consulting Services