Back To School Organization

August 11, 2014
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Back To School Organization

booksThis has to be my favorite time of year. Memories of going back to school still make me giddy. Shopping for school supplies and clothes, a fresh start with new teachers, friends, football and let’s not forget the crisper cooler weather we should expect in the next month or so.  Hopefully, you had a fun summer and the kids enjoyed not having home work.  Now it’s time to get everyone ready for a successful school year.  Getting organized now is the key to less stress later.  Here are a few tips to help get you started:

Clothes:

1. Have your kids try on their clothes from last year to see what still fits and what needs to be donated.

2. Make a list of what you need to buy with sizes and quantities (ex. 2 pairs of size 5 tennis shoes, 3 pairs of size 7 jeans, etc.). This will save you money and time when you take the kids shopping. Make sure to include any clothes they will need for sports and after-school activities.

Supplies:

1. See of you have anything left over from last year like unused paper, pencils, etc.

2. Make a list of everything you need and make sure you include special classes like art, music, P.E., etc.

Meals:

1. Have a grocery list and menu planner on or near your refrigerator (MEAD makes a magnetic one you can get at Target)

2. Make a weekly menu of meals so you can shop and cook ahead

3. I recommend cooking several meals at once on a weeknight or weekend and freezing them so you don’t have to think about it each night when you get home. I’m also a huge fan of the Crockpot.

4. Let your kids help you pack their snacks and lunches the night before. The less you have to do in the morning the better.

Routine:

1. Set up a weekly routine for yourself and your family.

2. Try to keep a set meal time, homework time, bath time, bed time and play time. Even if it doesn’t happen every night, if you try to keep to a schedule, it makes your evenings and your mornings easier.

Calendar:

1. Have a family calendar (monthly or quarterly) displayed somewhere so everyone can see it easily.

2. Color code it for each family member and put everyone’s activities on it each day (try to pick one day per month for the family to sit down and fill out the calendar for the next month). Make sure the bus schedule, school activities, permission deadlines and all after school appointments are on the calendar.

3. If you prefer electronic, use a system that can sync with your spouse or kids and update it regularly.

Drop Zone:

1. Create a space near the entry of your home for your family calendar, keys, hooks for backpacks, charging station for cell phones and ipads (http://www.greatusefulstuff.com/Faux-Leather-Multi-Charging-Station-a/378.htm), baskets for shoes and a mail center.

2. Every night before bed, make sure all homework is in backpacks and all items in drop zone for the next morning.

3. This alleviates all the running around searching for stuff in the hectic morning hours.

 Organizing your kids homework:

1. Every school subject should have a color coded folder.
2. All “to-do” work should be kept on left side of folder and when it’s completed it gets moved to the right side.
3. Once a week, clean out the backpack and make sure all folders are cleaned out. (Sunday evenings are a good time for this)

 Organizing your kids room and toys:

1. Provide a place for everything: a box for school supplies, a shelf for books, a bulletin board for upcoming projects or new artwork, bins or baskets for toys and an under-bed box for old artwork and papers.

2. Each day have them do a 5 minute quick clean to put all toys and other items away.

3. All clothes should be in a hamper (if dirty) or hung in closet/ folded in dresser each day.

4. In the bathroom, they should hang up their wet towels after each shower or bath.

I hope this information helps. If you have any questions, or would like some one-on-one help, please contact Simply Organized at 404-825-2105.

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Packing and Unpacking Your Home

July 1, 2014
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Tis the season to move! I have packed and unpacked more homes this month than I can count (ok – that’s an exaggeration but there have been dozens)

In my opinion, there are few things more stressful than moving.  A few tips on how to pack and unpack will hopefully help make your move easier.  Of course, if you really want to take the easy route, call Simply Organized at 404-825-2105 and let us do all the work for you!

Packing

#1 You have options: I recommend hiring a professional moving company.  They can do just the move for you or the packing too. Get quotes from at least 2-3 companies and ask them if you can “rent” items like wardrobe boxes from them (this will save you money and storage space after you unpack).

#2 I recommend Atlanta Peach Movers 770-447-5121 and McGregor Movers 404-630-9042

#3 Don’t Wait! Contact moving companies as soon as you know you are moving to get quotes and schedule a date. If you are packing yourself or hiring Simply Organized, start ASAP!

When it comes to DIY packing, time and preparation are key. Start as soon as you know you are moving. Do not wait until the last minute – it always takes longer than you think it will!

BOXES:  Either go to the free section on Craigslist for boxes or buy them at Home Depot or Lowes (they usually have the best quality for the lowest price).  You can get packing paper and bubble wrap at Walmart to save some money too.  Get plenty of small and medium boxes and a few large and wardrobe.

Pack all the items you know you won’t need for the next six months first (ex. winter clothes, holiday decorations, etc.).

Label all of your boxes by ROOM and ITEMS IN BOX plus FRAGILE if their are breakables inside. This will help your movers know where to put your boxes in your new home and help you find your stuff easily.

Have the movers put the items you don’t need in the truck first and your bathroom, kitchen and bedroom items in the truck last so they will get unpacked first.

VIP: Take your most important papers and valuable in the car or on the plane with you! This should include: passports, birth certificates, driver’s licenses, wills, medical documents,  etc.  It should also include prescription medication, toiletries and anything else you need daily.

Un-packing

Congratulations! You are in your new home and now it’s time to get settled.

Start with your bedrooms you are sleeping in that night.  Make sure you have a mattress with sheets on it. Put your toiletries in your bathroom and unpack any important kitchen items you have to have (for some this is a coffee pot or kid’s formula).

If you are working all day or don’t have lots of time to unpack, just tackle one box per day. You know what your needs are.  Most people want their clothes, bathroom and kitchen unpacked first. Your books, DVDs, decorations, garage items, etc. can usually wait a few weeks.

Break down the boxes as you go. If your trash company will not take them, list them on Craigslist under the FREE section and put them on your curb, they will be gone in a day.

I wish you years of happiness in your new home.  Please contact us if you need any help with this process 404-825-2105 or heather@simplyorganizedyou.com.

 

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To Sell or Not To Sell

May 31, 2014
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So many of my clients want to sell their unwanted items.  Everything from clothes, china, furniture and collectibles is “very valuable” to the people who spent a lot of their hard-earned money on it or received it from a loved one.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but these days nothing is selling for as much as you would hope.  Instead of discouraging you from trying to sell your belongings, I’m going to give you some advice I’ve received from professional re-sellers and estate sale experts: If it’s not worth more than $50, think twice! It will cost you hours of time in posting, screening buyers and or shipping your items.

Here’s some advice if you want to sell or consign:

If your thinking about consigning clothes, plan on getting $2 per piece of clothing no matter what you paid for it and how good condition it’s in. I spent an entire day this week contacting numerous children’s clothing consignment stores. Many of them weren’t taking any new clothes right now and the ones that were required an appointment and only accepted 20 items per day. I found a lovely place called Once Upon a Child who was very easy to work with and bought over 100 items of clothing from my client. We were able to get on average $2 per item.

If your considering a garage sale, have an estate sale instead or neighborhood-wide sale. With a garage sale, you can’t control the weather on the day of your sale or the buyers who come so you may wind up spending lots of time and not making very much money. However, neighborhood- wide sales and estate sales are advertised to a larger group of people so they bring in more buyers and hopefully more money.

If your time is more valuable than money, consider donating.

If you would like to hire someone to sell or donate your items for you, see my blog:

http://simplyorganizedyou.com/resources-selling-items-donating/

Happy selling and or donating!

Call or e-mail me for questions or help: 404-825-2105 Heather@SimplyOrganizedYou.com

 

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Home Improvement

April 28, 2014
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website housesLove Where You Live – Home Improvement at any stage

Last week I had the privilege of being part of an expert panel on home improvement.  We wanted to give our audience information they could use regardless of whether they were planning on selling soon, downsizing in 5-10 years or making changes so they can enjoy their home indefinitely.  What we have all seen our clients doing is making great improvements to their home in order to sell it, and then wishing they had done so years earlier so they could have enjoyed it themselves.

Our group included Heather Rogers from Simply Organized 404-825-2105, Pattie Jackson from Keller Williams Realty, 404.202.6440,  Tim Piendel from Great House Contracting  678.352.1035 , Brian Kramer from Assure Exteriors (roofing)  678.460.6410 , Diann Averett from Five Star Painting  404.418.4858 , Mike Buechner from Exquisite Outdoor Lighting   770.401.4140 and Daniel Klueter and Stephanie Rodriguez from PNC Bank  770.579.0199.

There was so much useful information given in the seminar. In order to save you a little time, I am going to share the highlights with you.

Pattie from Keller Williams put the seminar together for us and shared some valuable realtor information such as making sure the outside looks nice and using neutral paint colors.

I spoke about getting your home de-cluttered and ready to sell by de-personalizing and making sure all floors and closets are cleaned out so buyers can see the maximum amount of space in your home.

Tim from Great House spoke about getting the most bang for your buck and shared an unknown statistic: insulation will give you a greater return on your investment than new windows. He also gave us great information on how to hire a contractor so you will not get taken advantage of.

Brian from Assure Exteriors focused most of his presentation on metal roofing versus the standard asphalt. I had no idea you could get a metal roof that looks like shingles and lasts twice as long while saving you energy costs.

Diann from Five Star Painting showed us the “front door” secret. Talk about a great investment – by painting or replacing your front door, you get a 73% return on your money.  Painting your kitchen cabinets is also a great way to make a big impact on your home without spending too much money.

When Mike from Exquisite Outdoor Lighting presented, I did not hear a word he said because we were oohing and aaahing over photos of his client’s homes.  I told him my husband is going to be very upset now that I will be spending all of our money on outdoor lighting for our house. It’s not just beautiful but also helps with security.

Daniel and Stephanie from PNC Bank wrapped up our evening by telling us all of the great ways we can finance the home improvement projects we are now so motivated to do.  Interest rates are low now but won’t be forever so act soon.

If you would like anymore information on our seminar or any of the vendors, please contact Simply Organized 404-825-2105 or Heather@SimplyOrganizedYou.com.

 

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Downsizing At Any Age

April 3, 2014
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You may be nowhere near retirement age or ready to move into a smaller home or assisted living yet but that doesn’t mean you can’t start downsizing now! I taught a class on Monday at the ALTA independent living apartments in John’s Creek on downsizing. My group of “students” were all people who had already downsized into an apartment but know one day they may have to live in a smaller space.

The worst experiences I have witnessed with clients are when they are rushed. I’ve been given one week to whittle 55 years worth of prized possessions down to a small enough amount to fit into a 500 square foot room. Or one day to pack up an entire house so it would look decent enough to list it for sale.

Even though my clients were appreciative, they were left feeling like maybe they got rid of something they wanted. Instead of waiting until you “have” to why not take your time so you can do what you “want” to.

Here are my tips to a successful downsizing experience:

1. Where do you want to live? Independent /Assisted Living, with a family member, etc.

2. Hire Real Estate Agent to sell home

3. How much square footage do you have in your future home/ what can you take?

4. De-clutter and Sort
a. Donate

i. Goodwill (will take everything but mattresses – many locations)
ii. Truck to pick up: www.donationtown.org or – Pat’s Place: 770-873-6058

b. Sell

i. Ebay (under 25 lbs.): 855-322-9826
ii. Estate Sale: Charleen Tittle 404-451-2295

c. Trash

i. Shred company: A-1 877-747-3319
ii. Removal: Just Trash IT 770-399-6605

5. Moving Companies

a. Atlanta Peach: 770-447-5121
b. McGregor: 404-630-9042

6. Pack

a. Make sure you take your most precious photos and important items
b. Don’t over crowd your new space
c. Do not rent a storage unit (you will spend the same amount of money in one year of rent as it would cost to replace all of the items in storage)

7. Un-Pack – Getting settled in your new home

a. Creative Use of Space
i. Use your vertical space
1. Bookshelves
2. Hooks
3. vertical wall pockets
ii. Doors
1. Inside closet doors – hanging shoe/ clear pockets
2. Inside cabinet doors – kitchen and bathroom
3. Behind office, bedroom and bathroom doors
iii. Under the bed
1. Bags (and space bags)
2. Boxes

Call me for help with any or all of the above Heather 404-825-2105 heather@simplyorganizedyou.com

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Simply Organized

March 20, 2014
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better home jan

 

I saw this Better Homes magazine at the grocery store yesterday and had to buy it. It’s the January edition so I feel there was extra fate involved in it being displayed for sale in March. Obviously, I was drawn to the cover “Simply Organized”. It’s not only the name of my business but it is my mission statement, my daily goal and my motto when working with my clients.

Most people try to over think and complicate everything. I don’t think we do this on purpose, but perhaps we think that’s the only reason it hasn’t gotten done yet – “it will take too long, be too hard, I don’t know where to start, I’m totally over whelmed”, etc. If these words sound familiar to you, here’s my advice: KEEP IT SIMPLE!

You can hire an expert to help you do almost anything these days. If you have the resources, outsource it. I do everything from daily de-cluttering to move management, help with estates, finding you cleaners, painters, junk removal, shredding services and on and on. If you have a problem with your home or business and it’s weighing you down or stressing you out, call me. If I can’t help you, I will find someone who can.

If you are short on cash but have some spare time, look through my blog posts. In the last two years, I have written instructions on how to do everything from cleaning out your garage to doing your taxes. Can’t find the solution on my website, look on the internet and I am sure someone has a solution for you.

The most important thing to do is start. Whether you call me or research your problem, just get started. The sooner you find help, the quicker your stress can be gone and you can go enjoy the beautiful spring we are having!

Problem Solver: 404-825-2105 or Heather@Simplyorganizedyou.com

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Time To Talk Taxes

March 9, 2014
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What – it’s time to do taxes again? Start now and the looming April 15th deadline won’t be so scary!

Here is a link to the tax prep 101 blog post I wrote last year for you to refer to: http://simplyorganizedyou.com/tax-prep-101/

This year, I’m going to focus on donations. Donating your household items is a great way to maximize your tax deductions and lower the amount you owe (or increase your refund). Let’s not forget, it’s also a great way to get rid of clutter while doing a good deed.

There are lots of places to donate your stuff.  Goodwill makes it very easy by having hundreds of convenient locations all around metro Atlanta (I have 5 within 15 miles of my home in Cumming). There are also other charities that accept items like the Humane Society Thrift Stores, Salvation Army stores, etc.

Do you need someone to pick up your clothes, household items or furniture? www.donationtown.org is a great site to help you find a local charity and schedule a truck. They work with Salvation Army, Kidney Fund, VA and many more. For furniture, most places prefer it to not be scratched or stained. The one item most charities will not take is mattresses.

In 2013 there was one change you should be aware of regarding donations to Goodwill. They set up a new system where you go online to input your deductions. If you donated anything to Goodwill in 2013 (or if I did it for you) you should have a receipt with a number at the top. Go to this site to input your itemized donations: http://www.goodwill.org/#. Click on “sign in” and register an account.

If you need to find out how much the items you donated are worth, this site will help you with values: http://www.goodwill.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Donation_Valuation_Guide.pdf. This guide is useful for any items you’ve donated even if they weren’t given to Goodwill but always get a receipt no matter where you go.

If you prefer to consign or sell your stuff, give me a call and I’ll point you in the right direction:

404-825-2105 or Heather@SimplyOrganizedYou.com

 

 

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Organizing is cool!

February 17, 2014
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oprah

 

So far, I have seen Organizing as the main topic in three March magazines. Redbook has a great article on managing your time, Reader’s Digest devoted their “what they won’t tell you” section to Professional Organizers and Oprah’s theme is “De-Clutter Your Life 2014!”  in the March issue of O. I’ll give you my favorite parts of each of the three articles.

redbook

 

In the Redbook article on managing your time, they state an opinion I agree with:  “We’ve convinced ourselves that extreme busyness is a virtue.”  I find this to be so true in our current daily lives.  It’s an American theme that we work too much as mentioned in this fact: “Office culture rewards extreme hours – Americans work longer days and have the least vacation time of any country.”  So what is the solution? The article suggests having no more than seven items on your to-do list (which is all our brains can handle).  Also, prioritize your lists and leave the small stuff (folding laundry) to 5% or less of your time.  I say,  instead of feeling guilty if you are not running crazy 24/7, try to schedule yourself less.  Say no to the extra committee meeting or volunteer job every once in awhile and turn all of your technology off for an hour each evening and half a day on the weekends for family time.

readers digest 1

 

The “13 Things Professional Organizers Won’t Tell You” in the Reader’s Digest article includes a few of my favorite organizing tips for clients. #8 is do not waste your money on a storage unit. “You could buy all the stuff that’s in there for the price of the annual rental fee – and that doesn’t include the cost of the moving truck.”  #10 is about having a home for all of your belongings.  My advice to my clients is always: if you know where everything goes and spend five minutes a day putting things where they go, you will never have to spend hours trying to find items you’ve misplaced or waste money re-buying things.

Oprah has Peter Walsh giving advice in her March O magazine.  My new favorite quote from Peter Walsh is also about having a home for all of your belongings. He says “everyone has a place in their house for forks. If you found a random fork in the bathroom or under the couch, you’d immediately know it didn’t belong there and would return it to it’s drawer without another thought. Everything in your life should be this easy to put away. If an item occupies no specific location when it’s not in use, it becomes clutter.”

Some more quotes from Peter Walsh: “That ugly sweater your mother gave you is not your mother.” “When you put things into a pile to deal with later, you have lost the battle.”  I hear both of these excuses from my clients every day. They are afraid to part with a gift because it might hurt someone’s feelings but the person who gave you that gift was not intending it to become a burden to you.  The second quote is pure procrastination. Deal with it now so it does not become stress later.  This is especially important when it come to mail.  Deal with it immediately, don’t let it pile on top of a counter or surface it doesn’t belong.

I am thrilled to see organization getting so much attention in mainstream media and print.  Being  organized is now the cool thing to do.  It’s also a great way to make your life less stressful and increase your time so you can spend time doing what you love.

If you would like some help with your time or clutter management, give us a call at 404-825-2105 or e-mail heather@simplyorganizedyou.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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Resources for selling your items or donating them

January 20, 2014
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Resources for selling your items and charitable pick-up:

Online re-sellers (items under 25 lbs.)
E-Bay: Will send you a box for free and list your items for 25% profit
855-322-9826

Ruth’s Re-Selling: Will list and show your items to local buyers for 30% Craigslist or 40% E-bay (will ship)
678-628-3951 ruthgator@comcast.net

Consignment for furniture (will pick up within Atlanta area)

Decatur Estate Liquidators 404-378-4889 decaturestates@bellsouth.net
Finders Keepers (also has clothing consignment) 404-931-7785 www.fkconsign.com

Estate Sales:
Gold Star Estate Sales 770-641-9330 goldstarestatesales.com

Meg Samuels www.e-state.biz 404-849-9614

Charitable Pick up:
Bruce Carter 770-873-6058

Salvation Army 404-522-9785

www.donationtown.org

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The Holidays – Prepare now and you will avoid stress later

November 19, 2013
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I hate to be the bearer of any stress- inducing news but the holidays are here! Did you know Chanukah starts Nov. 28th which is the same day as Thanksgiving? Then we have less than a month for Christmas on Dec. 25th and Kwanza on the 26th. Simply Organized has a plan for you that will help you enjoy your holidays more:

1. Make your gift giving lists now.

2. Take advantage of the Thanksgiving long weekend to write, address and stamp your holiday cards.  Even if your traveling, this can be done on a plane or as a passenger in the car.

3. If you enjoy Black Friday shopping, by all means get your holiday gifts bought on Nov. 29th or take advantage of Small Business Saturday Nov. 30th and Cyber Monday Dec. 1st.

4. If you are home Thanksgiving weekend, take the time to decorate your house, go get your tree and or start the holiday baking (you can freeze your cookies and breads and give them away later).

5. If you need any wrapping paper, tags, tape or gift bags, buy them in the next two weeks (hopefully you have some left over from last year – I recommend buying it on sale after the holidays).

6. As you buy your gifts (or they start arriving in the mail) wrap them. If you do a few per night, it’s not as daunting and you don’t have to worry about hiding them.

7. See my previous blog post “Thanksgiving Prep 2013” for tips on dinner meal prep and getting the house ready for guests.

Getting a few of these items done now will mean less stress later and more time to enjoy your friends and family!

*** If you need any help decorating the house or taking down the decorations after the holidays, please give Simply Organized a call at 404-825-2105. We would be happy to help!***

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