Sunday, January 31, 2010

Will Your Home Be Cluttered Or Organized on July 1?

Every year millions of people resolve to organize their homes. But sadly most do not realize their goals. Overwhelm, confusion, lack of a plan, lack of structure and other issues sabotage their goals.

The Letting Go and Lightening Up class series is designed to help you organize your home by providing you with the information, structure and support that you need to get the job done. The class meets once a month so you have time between classes to work on the focus area.

What do you want you home to look like on July 1? Letting Go and Lightening Up might make the difference between feeling good about your newly organized home and being frustrated with another unrealized goal.

Early Bird Enrollment ends February 1. On February 2 the price goes up $50. Go to to enroll today!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Stump the Organizer Saturday! Hanger Confusion

"There are so many different kinds of hangers these days. What is the best kind of hanger?" Micah nominated St. Jude's Hospital for Children along with his question.

Let's start by eliminating some hangers from the comparison. Wire hangers are great for getting your clothes home from the dry cleaner and that's about it. Wire hangers put creases in the shoulders of clothes and are just plain ugly. If your clothes are the least bit damp a wire hanger will leave rust spots on them. Most dry-cleaners will accept wire hangers back for reuse - take advantage of this policy.

Next to be eliminated are the cheap plastic tube hangers because they break so easily. The top quality tube hangers are heavier and will last longer; and, they only cost about a dollar apiece.

One of my favorite hangers is the skinny, plush-covered hanger. The skinny hangers take up much less room than other hangers and they are durable. The plush covering eliminates clothing snags and will grip the most slippery fabric.

Padded hangers covered in satin or velvet also protect the clothing's fabric. Usually pins are needed to prevent spaghetti straps from falling off - probably something you don't have to worry about Micah! Padded hangers typically have small shoulder spans which limits the type of clothes to be hung on them.

Wood hangers are heavy-duty. If the wood is cedar then the hanger also repels moths - super for woolen clothes. Often wood hangers have fairly large shoulder spans that accommodate men's clothing quite nicely. Combination wood hangers have features that accommodate pants or skirts as well as a shirt or jacket. Hanging two items in the space needed for one item is space efficient. Combination hangers contain either a bar (fixed or locking) for pants or a wire with clips with which to hang pants or skirts. Pants hangers that are like large clips are available in wood. These large clips allow the pants to be hung lengthwise by the cuffs. Wood hangers are the most expensive option at about two to four dollars apiece.

Plastic hangers are also available as combination hangers. A top quality plastic hanger is fairly durable and costs less than a dollar. The shoulders often have notches for spaghetti straps so the clothing doesn't fall to the floor. Plastic and wood hangers often have swiveling hooks which permit the clothes to be easily turned so they all have the same orientation.

So which hanger is right for you? If you are really short on closet space consider using the skinny plush hangers. Hang pants on the suit hangers and use a bar doubler to increase the hanging space. Clips for hanging skirts come as an accessory to the plush hangers.

Wood hangers are the choice for elegance. Wood hangers take a fair amount of space so make sure there's enough space in the closet to hold them. The different combination hangers accommodate a variety of clothing types. If you need the combination hangers but wood is outside of your budget, then plastic is your choice. Plastic takes a little less room than wood but more than the plush hangers.

Consider the amount of closet space, budget and aesthetics when choosing hangers. What ever your choice, stick to one color and your closet will have a uniform, uncluttered look without doing anything else. If only everything else was that easy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Struggling to Get Organized? Try Letting Go & Lightening Up

How is your resolution to get organized doing? Maybe it's time to try a different approach. The Letting Go and Lightening Up class series is designed to help you get and stay organized.

The series offers:

* 12 hours of class room instruction
* A comprehensive workbook and class material
* Telephone support
* Snacks and drinks

Each three hour class thoroughly explores the focus subject in an interactive, relaxed atmosphere. The month between each class gives you the time to put what you learned into practice. The schedule follows.

February 20 Letting Go & Lightening Up in Your Mind
March 20 Letting Go & Lightening Up in Your Home
April 17 Letting Go & Lightening Up in Your Office
May 15 Letting Go & Lightening Up in Your Life

Each class is from 1:30 P.M. to 4:30 P.M. Our class will once again be held at the Vitality Unlimited Spa in Webster Groves.

Enroll by February 1 and the $300 series fee is reduced to $250. Enroll with a friend and you will both save an additional $50 - for a total savings of $100!

To enroll visit our website or call Clear Spaces at 314-956-2282. Put your intentions to get organized into action by enrolling today. The Early Bird rate is only good for one more week!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stump the Organizer Saturday! Organizing The Laundry Room

"My laundry room is really small and dark. My husband and kids leave their clothes all over the floor so it's hard to get the washer. I hate doing laundry but wading through stinky clothes is just gross. Any ideas to get my laundry room a little nicer?"

It sounds like one of the first things to do is tackle laundry collection. If family members are responsible for bringing their own laundry to the laundry room, then make it easy for them by putting a hamper right by the door. Also add a sorting hamper on wheels. Consider getting a hamper that has a hanger bar such as Whitmor's Supreme Laundry Center found at Stacks and Stacks. The addition of the bar over the sorting hamper provides a place to hang clothes directly from the dryer. Make sure the sorting hamper has wheels so you can move it around the room.

Ultimately, you will want your family to sort their laundry directly into the sorting hamper. Since your family is currently tossing their clothes on the floor, the first step is to simply encourage them to put the laundry into the hamper. After they master the first step, then teach them how to sort. Tell your family how helpful it is for them to put the laundry in the hamper - praise the positive a lot. Changing behavior in a step-by-step manner with praise is called shaping behavior, and it is a very powerful technique.

Of course if walking into the laundry room is like walking into the cave of doom, you'll need to lighten the place up. Light-colored paint and proper lighting can make a world of difference. Wall sconces will provide warmer lighting than the overhead florescent units and are much more attractive. Consider painting the floor with a paint specifically made for the basement floor (like an epoxy). One of my clients, an artist by trade, painted a window looking out to a field of flowers in her windowless laundry room. If a mural is beyond your painting skills, find a beautiful poster to hang on the wall. The point of the paint and the art is to transform the room into a place that you will feel comfortable in. The last creature comfort is a radio or small TV.

Yes, I am normally anti-multitasking, but you can get away with it when one of the tasks if fairly mindless and the other task is also simple. A little entertainment will make the time fly while you're working.

Make the room more efficient with a few additions.
* Add track shelves above the washer and dryer to hold laundry supplies.
* To preserve precious floor space, mount a drying rack on the wall over the sink. The Leifheit Telegant Mounted Clothes Dryer is sturdy and the rack disappears into the case when not in use (available at Amazon).
* An Elfa drawer system provides a place for each family member's clean laundry and the melamine top is the perfect place to fold laundry. The wire baskets can be removed so the clothes can be carried to each person's room. Use one drawer per person. Elfa is available at The Container Store. The annual Elfa sale is going on now so you can create your own custom drawer system and save 30% until the end of the month.

Truth be told, laundry is far from my favorite chore. I sort the laundry every day. If I see that one of the sorting bins is full, I do a load. Sometimes I do two loads and sometimes I have the day off (wa-hoo!). Dealing with a small amount of laundry on a daily basis is so much easier than dealing with a weekly mountain of laundry. I found the latter made me resentful while the former is just part of the routine.

Good luck Colleen! Thank you for your question. Colleen has nominated St. Jude's Children Hospital to the charity drawing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stump the Organizer Saturday! Packaging Clutter

"This might seem like a trivial problem but it's driving a wedge between my husband and me. What do you do with all of the boxes for the electronics and toys? I want to throw them away but my husband says we have to keep them. If something breaks it has to be shipped back in the original packaging. Is that true? How do people keep all of those boxes? Thanks for your help and our charity is any animal rescue."

Thanks for your question Sandy. Actually, the question of what to do with the original packaging is pretty common one for organizers. I imagine after the holidays there is a lot of packaging cluttering up people's homes. The problem can be solved with a little research on your part and a marker.

The first step is to read the warranty literature for the product. Does the warranty explicitly state that a product must be shipped back in the original packaging? No? Then toss that packaging in an environmentally responsible fashion. By the way, shipping stores like the UPS Store will recycle Styrofoam peanuts.

If the warranty does indeed state that the product must be shipped in the original packaging, the next piece of information you need is the length of the manufacturer's warranty - also in the warranty literature. Next extrapolate the warranty expiration date from the purchase date. For example, if you bought a cordless phone on 12/1/09 and the length of the manufacturer's warranty is ninety days, then the warranty will expire on 3/1/10. Write "Expiration Date" and the expiration date on the exterior of the original packaging. Store that box in some out-of-the-way location. Attics and basements are great places to store this sort of thing.

When you happen to be in the storage area and you see boxes with past expiration dates, you can in good conscience dispose of them. Writing the expiration date on the box is the key to keeping the packaging just long enough.

If the warranty does not indicate retaining the original packaging, then you have the option of asking a shipper to package the product for you, if needed. Shippers are experts at safe packaging. Of course if space is not an issue in your home, you can save the original packaging - just remember to use the expiration date.

The next logical question is what to do with the paperwork. Here are some options:
* Tape the purchase receipt to the warranty and file it all in your "Warranties & Manuals" file.
* Write the purchase date on the warranty which is filed in the "Warranties & Manuals" file. File the purchase receipt in the "Tax Deductible Equipment or Supplies" file (if you can deduct the product from your taxes) or in the appropriate month file. If you file the receipt separately from the warranty, write down the name of the item on the receipt. It will easy to locate the exact receipt if it is labeled. Also make sure that your purge schedule for your files is after the warranty expiration date.

I hope this information removes the wedge and the excess packaging clutter from your lives, Sandy.

Stumped by an organizing dilemma? Send an SOS! Email your question to me for our Stump the Organizer Saturday! post. Also send the name of your favorite charity which will be entered in our end of year drawing for a $25 donation.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Organize on Friday to Prevent Sunday Night Haunts

It's Friday, and for most of us the work week will come to an end. I know it's tempting to run out of the office as soon as the clock strikes five, regardless of the disorganization on your desk. After all, the weekend is calling. After a couple of days of fun, friends and fiestas, Sunday night comes along and your desk starts to haunt you.

When is the meeting on Monday and what action items were you supposed to take care of? How are you going to get the research done for the presentation on Wednesday? Did you turn in your time report?....

Sunday night desk haunts can seriously diminish the fun and relaxation of the weekend. I don't have to mention they do to your mood on Monday morning.

Instead of ruminating Sunday night, spend the last fifteen minutes in the office on Friday planning for the next week.

* Review next week's calendar.
* Capture all of your undone, open items on paper.
* Jot down the next action that you need to take on those items.
* Make a quick review of your calendar for this week to insure that all crucial items have been done.
* Put things away and leave your desk tidy.
* Leave your list of items with the next actions on your desk so you see it Monday morning.

Now you can leave the office with a clear mind. Putting things away on Friday is a ritualistic way of declaring the end of the work week. Writing things down almost magically banishes worry. Monday morning you will know exactly where you left off Friday evening. Well maybe after a cup or two of coffee.

Have a worry-free weekend.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Are You Ready To Get (And Stay) Organized?

Join Professional Organizer and owner of Clear Spaces, Denise Lee, for her 4-class series, Letting Go and Lightening Up – In Your Mind, Your Home, Your Office and Your Life.

By combining organizing systems with life-guiding principles, Denise will help you make conscious choices about what to let go of, what to keep and where to put it.

If “getting organized” has been a struggle for you, this workshop will empower you to create the lasting change you desire.

All materials, a comprehensive workbook, support calls and snack are included in the cost of the four three-hour classes: $300.

Early Bird Special: Enroll by February 1 and pay only $250. Enroll with a friend and you both receive another $50 off!

Saturday, February 20
1:30 – 4:30 P.M.
The remaining classes of the series will be held on
March 20, April 17 and May 15 from 1:30 – 4:30 P.M.

Vitality Unlimited Spa (
29 West Moody Ave.
(in the rear meeting room)
Webster Groves, Missouri 63119

Call Denise at 314-956-2282 or email
For more information visit or

Sunday, January 10, 2010

National Clean Off Your Desk Day!

Did you know that Monday, January 11 is National Clean Off Your Desk Day? Is your desk buried under a stack of papers? Let’s liberate it from the clutter and turn you into the efficiency star in the office.
Grab the following items:
• The Trashcan,
• Folders,
• A Marker and
• If you can get away with it - some snappy music on your iPod to create the proper desk clearing mood.

One of the keys to keeping your papers straight is treating action items differently from reference items. Action items require you to do something. Common action categories are:
• To Pay
• To Call
• To Write/Email
• To Copy/Fax
• To Enter (as in data entry)
• To Read
• To Follow-up
• Future
My secret power categories are “To Follow-up” and “Future.” Items that need follow-up are currently being acted upon by someone else but for various reasons you may have a need to make sure that the action is completed satisfactorily. The real power behind the follow-up category is to make a note in your planner on a date you need to follow-up. Future is the place to store the items you need for an event in the future – like theater tickets. Use the marker to label some folders with action categories that apply to you.

Label additional folders with the names of your current projects. Papers will be filed in the appropriate project folders when there is no action needed on it and the information contained within it is not easily available elsewhere. So if a paper contains information that is available on a website, there may be very little need to keep it. The less you have to keep means the less you have to manage. Make good use of the trashcan.

Now you are ready to sort those papers into the folders and the trashcan. When you’re done, put the action folders in a vertical sorter or a slanted folder on your desktop. Put the project folders in the file drawer. Before you know it, your desk is cleaned off and you know exactly where all of your papers are.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Stump the Organizer Saturday! Newly Diagnosed With ADHD

“Denise, my 15 year old grandson lives with me. After nearly flunking his first semester in high school his pediatrician diagnosed him with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin. My grandson has been taking the medicine for almost a month and let’s just say it’s not going well. His room is horrible. During his first week back from winter vacation he forgot his homework everyday so his starting the new semester with Fs. He has become surly. I see that you work with people with ADD. How can you help him? “ Name Withheld Upon Request

Watching someone you love suffer is not easy. No one wants to flunk. No one enjoys a surly mood – even the person afflicted with it.

I am not a mental health expert nor am I a doctor. But what I hear between the lines is a real concern for your grandson’s behavior – especially his change in temperament since beginning Ritalin. If you have not done so, please express your concern for your grandson’s well being with him in a way that he knows you are on his side. Please, please, please express these concerns with the pediatrician. There are many drugs used to treat ADD/ADHD. Some drugs work better for some than others. Doctors use patient feedback took ensure that patients receive the most effective treatment. It is important to know that drugs do not cure ADD/ADHD.

Dealing with the emotional impact of his diagnosis and learning behavioral strategies for coping with ADD/ADHD are the realm of a psychologist or licensed counselor. Your pediatrician should be able to make a referral so your grandson receives the help he needs.

I encourage you both to arm yourself with knowledge. “ADDitude” magazine ( is one of my favorite resources. Look into joining a group such as Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder ( or Attention Deficit Disorder Association ( These groups provide support and knowledge. Driven to Distraction (Hallowell & Ratey) is a great book – many of my clients really love it. ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize (Kolberg & Nadeau), Organizing Solutions for People with Attention Deficit Disorder (Pinsky) and The Organized Student (Goldberg) are excellent resources for organizing strategies.

Organizing strategies can make a difference in how effectively your grandson operates. Being more effective and productive may lead to a sense of greater control and calm. Here are a few organizing strategies you can put in place now.
* Make sure that your grandson has a student planner and he writes down his assignments and all of his social commitments.
* Use large, brightly colored sticky notes on the front door, bathroom mirror, and locker with checklists of routine things to remember.
* Strengthen his sense of time by using analog clocks and an analog timer. One of my favorite timers is the Time Timer (
* Set up acceptable working periods – such as 20 minutes – to encourage focus. If the activity is not completed in 20 minutes then take a couple minute break then set the timer for another 20 minutes.
* The Sonic Boom alarm clock ( a really loud alarm and vibrates so even the hard-to-wake wake up.
* Make everything as simple as possible and eliminate unnecessary steps.
I wish you and your grandson peace and understanding as you face this challenge in your lives.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Is Your Fridge Clutter Sabotaging A Healthy Diet?

One of my personal goals for 2010 is to improve my health with healthier meals and more enjoyable, vigorous activity. I am certain that millions of people have the same goal. One of the easiest ways to focus on healthier meals is to be sure your fridge, freezer and pantry have the ingredients to create healthy meals.Organizing the kitchen for efficiency, making healthy choices, and planning meals (and snacks!) nourish the goal of creating healthier meals (I couldn't resist the pun!).

Organizing the kitchen for efficiency is the subject for today, specifically the fridge. When was the last time you gave your fridge a thorough clean-out? This is a great time to open that fridge door and start tossing the junk food, the holiday food, the science experiments and the "what on earth was I thinking?" stuff. You want to eliminate the clutter and keep the food that is healthy and fresh.

Now let's organize that fridge. An organized fridge is more accessible and easier to work with than a fridge that has its contents thrown in without rhyme or reason. For information about organizing the fridge, I am directing you to "Let's Get Cookin'" blogger, Carla. Carla wrote a great post on organizing the fridge. I hope you enjoy it and the rest of her blog:

In addition to gaining an organized fridge, you will undoubtedly find a few good recipes to try on Carla's blog. Organizing the pantry and meal plans are the subjects for subsequent Clear Spaces posts.

Happy de-cluttering!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Stump the Organizer Saturday! Start Getting Organized

"How do you get started getting organized? One of my resolutions this year is to be organized by the end of 2010."

Thank you Gail for opening the new year's "Stump the Organizer Saturday." January is "Get Organized" month and for good reason. "Getting organized" is perennially in the top ten New Year's resolutions.

When I first meet with my clients I ask them to describe their vision of organization. I write down the key phrases in their description. I encourage you to do the same. To capture the spontaneity use a digital recorder to capture your description and write your notes from the recording.

I also ask clients to create a vision board: a picture that captures the feel of the vision. You will need
* a small piece of poster board - about 9" X 11"
* a stack of magazines with pictures that you like
* a pair of scissors
* a glue stick
The process is fairly simple. Tap into the emotion that you feel when you think about your vision as you look for pictures. Find pictures in the magazine that resonate with your vision and cut them out. Create a collage with the pictures and glue them to the poster board. I encourage my clients to frame their vision board as a way of honoring their vision. Hang the vision board in a place that you view frequently so you have a constant reminder of the vision.

Recording your vision and capturing it with a vision board provides you a target for your efforts. Additionally, they will help pull you toward your vision when your enthusiasm peters out - which will happen. Put your notes in a folder and label it. Assign a handy home for your folder. You will need to access and add to the folder as you work on your project to get organized.

Obviously, setting up a folder and creating a vision board are not the only steps you will take to get organized. They are the first steps because you need to have a direction whenever you start something new.

I would love to see your vision boards. If you'd like to share, please email me a picture (a .jpg) of your vision board along with a brief description of your vision. Email me at Denise(at) I'd love to feature some vision boards on this blog.

Our Stump the Organizer Saturday posts need your questions. When you submit your questions, please send the name of your favorite charity. At the end of the year, I will draw from the entries for the charity to receive a $25 donation.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Winner of SOS

Happy New Year and welcome to the second decade of the 21st century!

As promised, I drew from the Stump the Organizer Saturday (SOS) entries for the charity to receive a $10 contribution. The winner is Cathy with her question of managing paper and paying bills. Cathy nominated the Humane Society to receive the contribution.

Thank you all for your questions. I look forward to a year of organizing questions from you.

May you and your family be blessed with health and prosperity in the new year.