Posted by: Sound Organizing | June 21, 2011


Start a new habit today. Take the garbage and recycling out before it begins to overflow!

Posted by: Sound Organizing | April 11, 2011


The garage can become neglected during the hibernating season.  Throw open the garage door and windows if you have them and do a once-over.  Here is your to-do checklist:

-HAZ-MAT  Properly dispose of old chemicals, motor oil, paints, etc. Store remaining chemicals together preferably off the floor and away from children and pets. Propane should be stored at least ten feet away from the house and never inside the garage.

-SECURE large or sharp tools and ladders.

-CHECK the fire/smoke alarm and points of entry to the garage. Make sure you have the proper security in place.

-CATEGORIZE the contents of your garage. Some common categories include: camping/sports equipment, tools, paint, home maintenance, laundry, car care, long-term storage of items such as memorabilia, toys, seasonal clothes. Make a list of your garage categories and group everything together in their proper categories. As you do, conduct a once-over and discard or donate unwanted or broken  items.

-STORE  the items you are keeping. You may want to use water proof plastic bins or shelves or a combination of the two. Those you use on a regular basis need to be accessible and easy to find.

-FREEZER BURN If you have a freezer or a second fridge in the garage, this would be a great time to revisit and rotate the contents.

-CLEAN & REPAIR tools such as the lawn mower, weed eater, and so forth.

-ENJOY the rewards of an organized garage by firing up the grill and taking the bikes for a spin!

Posted by: Sound Organizing | March 30, 2011


If you live in the dreary Pacific Northwest, your car has probably been neglected all winter long.  It’s time pay some attention to your faithful ride.

Here’s a spring organizing and cleaning checklist for your vehicle:

-Clean the inside and out.

-Consider getting an over the seat organizer for maps, notebooks, or work-related items if you use your car a lot for business.

-Get a trunk organizer for groceries and other items.

-Make sure your vehicle is equipped with emergency supplies.  See link here for more information. Even though this information is for winter driving, you can modify some of the supplies for spring/summer driving.  Make sure the batteries are still good, swap out any bottles of water for fresh ones, do the same if you have snacks and emergency food on hand.

-Make sure the lights, turn signals, etc are functioning.

-Replace windshield wipers and top off the windshield fluid reservoir.

-Change your oil and check or top off other fluids

-Inspect and rotate the tires.

-Keep a vehicle notebook in the glove compartment that contains important auto information: mechanic contact information, insurance information, and emergency phone numbers.  Note the type of bulbs, fuses, and parts that your car takes.  As crazy as it may sound, jot down your license plate number. It is amazing how many people do not know their plate number.

-Consult your owner’s manual for any upcoming routine maintenance that needs to be done and get it scheduled.

-Don’t let your kid’s toys or dog accessories live in the backseat. Clean it up and take them out.

-Make it a habit of emptying your car every day.  A cluttered car is an invitation for thieves even with an alarm system.

-Did you know in some states you can get a ticket for not having a litter bag? It’s true. Invest in one and use it.



Posted by: Sound Organizing | March 16, 2011


Continuing with the spring theme, this week we will move to the wardrobe.  Take all your winter clothes, including outer-wear (coats, shawls, gloves, etc) and pile them all up on your bed.  Separate them into items to keep, donate, dry-clean and/or repair.

Resurrect your hibernating spring and summer wardrobe and do a once over of those items.  Consider donating those you no longer like or don’t think you will wear.  Replace or update your seasonal wardrobe as needed just don’t go overboard with the shopping.  Clean, press, and refresh your clothes and you’re ready to head into the warmer months.

If you have kids, do the same with their clothes.  Since kids outgrow their clothes quite rapidly, there probably won’t be many items to store or resurrect unless you are saving their old clothes for another child or baby.  Many parents have nostalgic attachments to their children’s clothes.  Consider getting a bin to store some keepsake clothing such as their first pair of shoes but exercise restraint.

For more helpful ways to organize and sort clothing, see this post.

Posted by: Sound Organizing | March 3, 2011


It may feel more like spring in other areas of the country, but in Seattle, it still feels like winter.  Nonetheless, spring is upon us and it’s time to get more organized.  This week we will look at the dreaded paper file.

Since I am sure everyone has completed and filed their tax returns by now (!) this would be a great time to purge those files and paper.

Toss, shred, or recycle:
-Expired coupons or outdated event fliers
-Old bills that have been paid.  Typically the normal person does not need to keep many years worth of heating bills.
-Other paperwork that is no longer needed, wanted, or useful.

If you are an information junkie, consider revisiting your collection of articles, snippets of information, etc.  Do a purge and organize the remaining information into relevant categories and files.

Collect your kid’s school and art work and other related material and organize into a binder, keepsake box, or file purging as you go.  It’s okay not to hang on to every single finger painting your child made.

Address your mail situation and consider cutting down on catalogs, junk mail, and sign up for online banking, e-statements, etc.  For more information see the related post.

Are you a scrapper? Not a scrapbooker but a writer of notes and phone numbers on anything available?  This is the time to collect those scraps and turn them into something more cohesive, say an address book or a master to-do list.

Speaking of address books, this would be the ideal time to update your contacts both electronically and manually. Let us be reminded that no matter how great technology is, it fails. Always have a backup especially when it comes to your contact information. Take the time and copy this information into a tangible hard-copy. You will be glad you did.

Go around your house and address all the paper you have and do a once-over purge and reorganizing. Include your recipe files, greeting cards and letters, work-related memos, and so forth. Do not forget to include an electronic purge of old emails and such.

Posted by: Sound Organizing | February 2, 2011


Bathrooms are the one space that people generally overlook when organizing.  They quickly become over-run with clutter. Here are a few steps and tips to get your bathroom in order.

1.  Remove the contents of  the drawers and cupboards.  As you do this, be on the look out for items and containers that are expired, dried up, went unused for six months, or you simply do not like.  Look for duplicates of certain items.  Do you really need three or four nail clippers?

2. Take the remaining toiletries to the dining room table or other work surface and sort into categories: makeup, first aid, hair care, oral care, etc.

3.  Decide where the categories will be housed.  Do you like everyone out of site or on the counter? Use containers of your choice to keep the items together.  The items you use often should be stored in easy reach. If you find yourself running out of room or getting too crowded, it’s a sign that you may still have too much stuff.  Consider doing another once over. 

4.  It is not recommended to store perfumes, vitamins, medicines including cold nd flu care, in the bathroom.  Heat and humidity can deteriorate the effectiveness off the drugs and perfume. 

5.  If you bathroom is not equipped with adequate storage space, a linen or hall closet is perfect for overflow, linens, medications, and the first aid kit.  But make sure that space has been cleared of clutter beforehand!

6.  Do a thorough cleaning of hair brushes, combs, and make up brushes or consider replacing.  Replace toothbrushes and razors with fresh, new ones.  And do a good cleaning of the rest of the bathroom.

7.  Before you go out and buy more of something, use up what you have first.

8.  Do a bathroom overhaul two-three times a year to keep up on expired cosmetics and other toiletries.

Posted by: Sound Organizing | January 24, 2011


Numerous people refer to themselves as hoarders when in fact they are not.  Unfortunately, with shows such as Hoarders and Oprah spotlighting the issue, there is a sort of craze surrounding hoarding.

A hoarder and clutterer will both accumulate many things to the point of it becoming a problem. But there are differences.  Hoarding is a serious psychological condition that can only be diagnose by a psychiatrist.  It is estimated that only about 1% of the population are confirmed hoarders.

Hoarders obsessively gather and save items with very little or no value.  They also have sentimental attachments to every thing including garbage and broken objects.  Because of this attachment, there is severe anxiety around discarding anything.

Eventually, the stuff multiplies and the hoarder may be driven from certain rooms or even from the entire home.  Help for a hoarder typically requires professional help.  Hoarding may be diagnosed on its own or as a symptom of depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or ADHD.

Cluttering, on the other hand, affects millions of people and is not labeled as a psychiatric disorder.  A clutterer’s possessions will normally not force them out of certain rooms or their home.  They can be somewhat organized while a hoarder is not.

A clutterer can be emotionally attached to their stuff but does not save garbage and has less of a difficult time getting rid of stuff.  They are also more likely to be able to control the clutter on their own if motivated to do so.

For more information on hoarding please visit The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD).

Posted by: Sound Organizing | January 19, 2011


Laundry is the dreaded chore of every household and it usually falls to one family member in particular, most often to Mom.

I give my clients the straight up honest remedy to this problem: “Don’t do it.” The response is the sound of chirping crickets. But I am serious.  Stop…doing…laundry. I’m not advocating a feminist protest or anti-housework rally here but simply a division of labor. The rule is really quite simple: if your child is old enough to get a driver’s permit or go the movies alone, he is old enough to wash his own clothes. Spouses can also fend for themselves.

Laundry is not difficult. A rug cannot vacuum itself, the floor mop itself or the shower scrub itself but laundry washes itself. With proper training anyone can wash clothes.  Your kid’s algebra homework is more difficult.

Here are some suggestions to help in the laundry world:

Every family member of capable age does his/her own laundry. (I was doing my own laundry when I was nine.)

-Excess creates laundry.  Sort through clothes and linens and donate what you don’t wear or want. Once paired down, fine-tune the remains.  Does each family member really need ten bath towels or five sets of sheets? The more you have, the more there is to wash, fold, and put away.

 -Each person has one laundry hamper. When it’s full, it’s time to wash.

 -A mesh laundry bag is a great way to wash socks-keeps them altogether.

 If laundry still falls to one person:

-Establish a set laundry day. Every family member must have their clothes in the laundry room on that day or they won’t have any clean clothes.

 -Only run a full load and keep everyone’s laundry separate. This eliminates the problem of sorting through a pile of clothes to determine who owns what.

 And if all else fails, you can pay someone to come in to do your family’s laundry or drop it off elsewhere.

 Finally, some parents will moan to that their kids simply won’t do their own laundry. They certainly won’t if mom steps in every time to do it for them. They will get the hang of it pretty quickly when they don’t have clean clothes!

Posted by: Sound Organizing | January 5, 2011


It used to be considered acceptable to flush medications.  I even heard from one source that it was advisable to fill a Ziploc bag, add water and allow the pills to dissolve and discard in the regular household trash.  These options are obviously not green-friendly ways to go.  Now you can take your expired, unused, or unwanted medication to any Group Health pharmacy.  Bartell Drugs also has a drug disposal box.  You can also call Washington Department of Ecology 1-800-732-9253 for additional information on how and where to dispose of medication.

Posted by: Sound Organizing | December 21, 2010


Organizing is not just limited to the arrangement of material possessions. The process also extends to time and schedule management, help with habit building, chores, and anything that can be done to help keep life running smooth and as trouble-free as possible.
Many clients have trouble with mail and I addressed this issue in another post.  Everyone knows that by reducing unwanted mail, it makes sorting the remaining mail easier and quicker.  But did you know we can extend that to cell phone calls and text messages as well?
This morning I received several annoying spam texts. A few weeks ago, I received numerous calls from various persistent sales people, of whom I had no prior business partnership with. Thinking these calls could be potential clients, I naturally answered them.  Cell phone spam eventually adds up to lost time and money but it can be stopped.
Just like the opt-out for junk mail, the following links are for your phone. There are also ways to file complaints if you continue to receive spam or calls. It will take a few minutes of your time but in the long run it will be worth it.
First, contact the national do not call registry and sign up. It’s fast, easy, and registry does not expire.
Second,browse the information on the Washington State Attorney General site. They have great advice, links, and state laws.                                    Finally, go to the FCC site to file a complaint against a business or individual who texts, calls, or sends unwanted information to your phone.

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