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Lost and Found: Keep Tabs on Your Loved Ones

Group Safety Tips for Crowds 

Summer is upon us and it’s time to soak in the sun, see the sights and enjoy everything summer has to offer – like concerts, street fairs, festivals and more. However taking in the local culture can turn into a stressful time when corralling the family and traveling in a group. Whether it’s your two-year-old wandering off in a crowd, or your husband of 20 years, it’s important to have a plan in case you’re separated.

Organize Anything has put together six great tips to help you stay connected with your group as you enjoy summer activities.

1. Colour Coordinate. Taking the kids to the fair, or attending this summer’s “must-see” concert? Consider colour-coordinating your t-shirts, or dressing the little ones in bright colours so they’re easy to spot in a crowd. This tip is popular at large amusement parks like Disneyworld where you’ll often see whole families decked out in neon.

2. ICE it. Traveling with a group of friends to see a concert or enjoying a festival? Make sure everyone’s got everyone else’s cell phone numbers programmed into their phones. Label the numbers with “ICE” which stands for In Case of Emergencies.  Taking smaller children out to enjoy performance? Safety pin your cell phone number, home phone number and address to the inside of a pocket or coat so they have it case of emergencies. Remember at large events you can’t always hear the phone ringing vibrate may help.

3. Plan ahead. In the event you do get separated from your group, you should have a plan in place of where you’ll meet them. Before leaving the house or when you have arrived at the venue, decide on a spot where everyone will meet at the end of the day if you get separated. Everyone knowing the plan will save you headaches and heartaches later.

4. Talk it out. When travelling with small children, be sure to tell them early and often how important it is to stick together. Cover the ground rules before leaving the house in the morning and then review them on the ride there and before you get out of the car. Make a game out of remembering the information.

5. Get Technical. For grownups, there are apps for your smart phone that let you share your location via GPS with friends. Perfect for that crowded concert, group members can go for snacks and bathroom breaks without losing you in the crowd. For younger children you can purchase small GPS trackers that tie onto shoe laces or backpacks. At the press of a button the tracker will start to chirp, alerting parents to their child’s location.

6. Light it Up. Heading out to watch the fireworks? Go to the Dollar Store and grab coordinated glow sticks or funky flashing lights to pass out to the family. Turn them on when the sun goes down so you can track the members of your party.

Armed with this handy information, you and your family and friends are ready to hit the streets and the beach this summer worry free. A little planning for safety can ensure lots of fun at any gathering this summer.

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Mudroom Madness

Is your mudroom, hallway, foyer or entry way making you mad?

Do you constantly trip over everything on the floor?

Is there no space to put anything?

Or has your clutter been like this so long that you just pass by and not really see what your guests see?

You may just spend minutes coming or going but this brief time can definitely set the tone for the start or end of your working day.

Nothing says welcome like entering into a space where you feel comfortable and can easily store your coat, shoes and outerwear items. Think about your home’s entry and incorporate these ideas to help keep it in top shape and keep you sane:

1. Give each family member a space: limit the amount each person can keep there (number of shoes, bags, etc.). Locker-like cubbies, milk crates or laundry baskets are great and can work well depending on the space. Allow only items that are used frequently and for that season in this area. Have adjustable shelves and hooks to grow with your child. Think about what is reachable for your child when deciding where to hang hooks and put baskets. Square cubbies are great for kids’ extra-curricular supplies and equipment; even shallow cubbies are helpful for stashing things away.

2. Have a place to sit to put on shoes. A bench with storage under the seat is a great multi-purpose item. A chest or toy box can make a great bench/storage option, too. Or tuck bins under a bench or chairs. This is a great place to keep sports equipment. Be diligent about keeping this seat clutter-free so you will always have a spot to quickly sit to lace up your shoes.

3.Provide enough hooks. Make sure that there is at least one hook per family member (an easy alternative to nagging kids to hang up coats). Strong hooks are also great to get book bags off the floor. Use big hooks for heavy coats and small ones for umbrellas and hats. Don’t forget the family dog! Have a hook for his leash. Hooks can also be placed on the back of doors. Hooks are a great way to tap into unused storage space- the walls and doors. Make sure the kids’ hooks are at their level and the adults can use the upper space.

4. Create a specific area for your pets. In one spot store leashes, waste bags, outside toys, treats, a cloth to wipe paws and winter paw protector or booties. Think about opting for bag holders that attach to the leash, collapsible water bowls and treat or ball bags that clip on your belt to save your pockets from an overflow of plastic bags and ‘cookie’ crumbs. Have reflective bands for you and your dog for nighttime outings—especially important in fall and winter as the days become shorter. You may also wish to consider a place to stash indoor toys on your way out.

5.Think up, way up. Build a custom cabinet up to the ceiling to maximize storage of out of season items higher up. If you are working with the closet you have, use labeled bins and boxes for seldom used or out of season items and store higher up. Consider adding an extra shelf above the existing ones. Could you double rod the closet – adults coats on the top – children’s below. If you do not have a front closet, you must be particularly selective about what you keep in your entrance. Think seasonal – what do I really need right now? Keep things for this time of year and store the rest elsewhere in your house.

6. Watch out for wet items. Allow each family member to have only one pair of shoes out at a time on a boot rack. Once a pair is dry it should be put away. Wet mittens and hats can be hung by clothes pins on a line that runs vertically or horizontally–thread line through pins’ spring, spacing them along the line, or use a pretty piece of 1 inch ribbon that they will easily clip to. Hang this mini clothesline close to a heat vent or heater. Again, once dry, these items should be stashed away.

7. Make a message centre. A bulletin board nearby, will help keep your family on schedule. Pin forms, invitations, practice schedules, and a calendar. This will help you remember to grab these items on the way out.

8. Check yourself out – add a mirror. Not only does it help make the space appear larger, it is convenient for you to give yourself a once-over before rushing out the door. It will help you catch turned up collars, food in teeth and hat-head. Get a mirror that has a small ledge for lipstick and a comb.

9. Give some careful thought to every item in the mudroom. Use waterproof paint and tile floors to deal with the moisture that will be coming in. Allow lots of natural light in and install ceiling light for nighttime entrances. If there is something there that doesn’t serve a purpose, remove it. Space is at a premium in the mudroom, so make sure you have a rationale for all your choices.

It may be a little space, but a little time and thought can rid you of the aggravation and madness of your mudroom.

Where’s your launch pad?

Do you have a launch pad? You may not be Cape Canaveral but your home and office should not be without one.

Office

How many items are lying around your office that belong elsewhere and often take weeks and months to get back where they belong? There is a coffee cup that needs to go to the staff kitchen. A stack of photos from your vacation you brought in to show your colleagues. A gift you were given that you plan to take home. All these items create clutter in your office.

Find a shelf in your office or an area near the door that you can use for your launch pad. Move all those items that need to be returned to others or those items you want to remember to take home. It will lessen the clutter in your office and keep you from forgetting things you planned to bring home or return. Remember to take a peak at the launch pad when leaving the office to see what can be taken with you.

Home

In your home you can create several launch pads. Perhaps you already have your own launch pad and don’t realize it. Often the bottom steps of your staircase are already serving this purpose. Place items that need to go upstairs in the corner of the step so you take them up every time you go. Make sure it is not a hazard for those coming down the stairs.

You can also create a launch pad for yourself and your family near the main entrance. Place a small table or shelving unit near the entrance to collect items that need to be returned like library books or videos or errands that need to be run. Don’t forget to include things that are going to be picked up.

Your launch pad will help trigger your memory to things that need to go out of your home and office. It will cut down the clutter and help you to save some steps and manage tasks more efficiently. Unlike NASA’s, your launch pad won’t take you to space, but it will help you make better use of your space.

STAGING – When Selling Your Home, Prepare like You Are Having Guests

Most of us do at least a few things to make our home more presentable when guests come to visit. Showing your home for sale is very similar. Think of preparing your home as if you were having not one but hopefully several special guests that will be seeing every aspect of your home. The following are some tips to help you properly prepare for your house buying guests.bathroom%20empty

Clean.  Nothing smells better than clean, unadulterated clean.  Open a window to let fresh air in before potential house buyers arrive.  Be careful with scented candles and fresheners that may cause allergic reactions in a larger and larger percentage of our population and therefore some of your guests. No one will want to buy a home that they are allergic to.

Create easy access at entrances and make sure there is lots of room for coats and footwear. Make it is easy for a group of people to enter your home at once and that there is lots of space for them to store their outerwear while they visit. Feeling crammed and uncomfortable to start is not a good first impression.

Tidy and reduce clutter. Put away personal belongings. Remember that these special guests will be looking at every inch of your house.  There is no just hiding things in a closet or room and closing the door here! Make your house look great and moving day easier by donating, selling, or trashing unused and useless items in your home.

Let guests know where things are. Potential buyers need to know.  Imagine these were overnight guests.  Show them where light switches, thermostats, and amenities are and how to operate household features. It needs to be obvious what a room is used for and where they can find or put things.

Have the laundry done and put out fresh linens.  Make sure the linen closet contents are stacked neatly and there are fresh linens on beds and in bathrooms.  Crumpled up towels and dirty socks on the floor will make guests feel unwelcome.

stagingMake an impact on guests with a fresh bouquet, plant or greenery.  This would be sure to please the eyes of any dinner guest, and your house buying guests will be equally impressed.

Limit your pets’ presence. You love your pets, but not everyone feels the same way.  Put your pet out in the yard, in their kennel or with friends while visitors are seeing your home. Make sure they don’t leave behind any “presents”.  No guest is pleased with souvenir dog or cat fur on their clothes.

Treat your potential buyers like special guests and they will want to stay in your home longer, not just as a guest, but as the new owner.

Messy Bedroom? No Problem!

We spend roughly one-third of our day in our bedrooms, most of it sleeping.  Little wonder it can be difficult to keep a bedroom tidy and clutter-free.  Following these easy-to-remember steps will help you keep things in order—maybe even get a good night’s sleep.

Make your bed first thing in the morning. It makes the room look tidier and will motivate you to keep it that way. cluttered-room

Keep a laundry basket handy for dirty laundry to avoid creating piles of clothes on the floor.

Add hooks to your closets for belts, scarves, and accessories to keep them organized and prevent them from being misplaced.  You should also consider attaching a tie or shoe rack inside your closet doors.

Arrange your dresser so you have one drawer for underwear and one for socks or stockings. Consider sorting through your dresser drawers every two months to discard items that have holes or mismatched socks.

Place your purses on a shelf, or hang them on a coat rack.  This will free up space and allow you to easily access and change purses for any event or season.

Sort your clothing seasonally.  Place all clothing items that are not in season in plastic containers, and place them in a storage closet or in the bottom of your clothes closet.

At the beginning of each season, hang all of your clothing hangers backwards.  After you wear and wash an item, return it to your closet and set the hanger straight.  At the end of the season, anything that is still hung backwards should be donated since you didn’t wear it for six months.

bedroomFeb09Can’t accommodate a large jewelry box?  There are attractive, multi-compartment containers available that allow you to arrange your necklaces, rings, earrings, and bracelets.

Get your shoes off the floor and onto a shoe rack, on shelves, or even in a shoe bag.

Don’t have a separate linen closet?  Fold and place linen on top of a closet or dresser, if easily accessible.

Start the New Year Right

It’s a new year, and a time when people like to start fresh and sample some new approaches to areas in your life you would like to improve. You have seen the development of the organizing and redesign shows take over our television stations. It’s been called the latest trend, the new dieting, but finding improved ways to organize your life is here to stay. Why? There’s just so much return on investment.

One thing we often forget when making changes and it’s especially true this time of year is the importance of starting slow and making small goals:

1. Your desk is a workplace- remove other non- work related items and place them clean deskelsewhere. Hang photos on the wall and place awards, personal objects and knickknacks on a shelf or credenza.

2. Keep the things you use the most close by and within reach, and items that you require only occasionally further away. This includes files, supplies and personal items.

3. Get rid of the extras- how many of one item do you really need-157 pens, 4 coffee mugs- give away, throw away or return to the stationary/supply area.

Speaking of extras, we usually have between 5-10 extra pounds that we have put on over the holidays. Looking for healthy time saving ways to get back on track? Here’s a few tips:

1. Plan your meals and grocery list ahead of time. You can save time and money. Eating healthier during your day will keep your energy up and your waistline down.

produce isle2. Stick to the outside aisles at the grocery stores. This is where we find our core foods, like fruits and vegetables. It’s a great time to eat more fruits and vegetables. Think of these as a healthy snacking alternative. Try a fruit you’ve never had before.

3. Cut back on your portion sizes- especially when eating out. Order half portions or ask for a to-go container for the remainder of your meal. This also gives you another meal you don’t have to prepare.

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STAGING – Flaunt Your Best Assets

Highlight and draw attention to elements in the home, such as a great view, architectural details, even repairs, renovations or equipment upgrades. Your kitchen and bathroom are prime selling opportunities, so pay special attention to these areas. For example, keep your kitchen counters clear of any knickknacks and small appliances, and remove any magnets or personal items from your fridge. Remove as many personal items as you can from the bathroom so it looks pristine and that there is lots of counter space available. Replace leaking or worn faucets to give a new look to the room. Make sure to clean under the sinks. Potential homeowners will be checking out all the details. If there are any leaks, fix them. Then clean up the damage using contact paper or paint. Spending a little extra time to fix up the existing items in the home is an inexpensive way to make great changes, therefore increasing the selling value and decreasing the time it will be on the market.

living room

How to Recover Your Bedroom From Clutter

We spend roughly one-third of our day in our bedrooms, most of it sleeping.  Little wonder it can be difficult to keep a bedroom tidy and clutter-free.  Following these easy-to-remember steps will help you keep things in order—maybe even get a good night’s sleep.

Make your bed first thing in the morning. It makes the room look tidier and will motivate you to keep it that way. cluttered-room

Keep a laundry basket handy for dirty laundry to avoid creating piles of clothes on the floor.

Add hooks to your closets for belts, scarves, and accessories to keep them organized and prevent them from being misplaced.  You should also consider attaching a tie or shoe rack inside your closet doors. 

Arrange your dresser so you have one drawer for underwear and one for socks or stockings. Consider sorting through your dresser drawers every two months to discard items that have holes or mismatched socks. 

Place your purses on a shelf, or hang them on a coat rack.  This will free up space and allow you to easily access and change purses for any event or season.

Sort your clothing seasonally.  Place all clothing items that are not in season in plastic containers, and place them in a storage closet or in the bottom of your clothes closet.

At the beginning of each season, hang all of your clothing hangers backwards.  After you wear and wash an item, return it to your closet and set the hanger straight.  At the end of the season, anything that is still hung backwards should be donated since you didn’t wear it for six months.

bedroomFeb09Can’t accommodate a large jewelry box?  There are attractive, multi-compartment containers available that allow you to arrange your necklaces, rings, earrings, and bracelets.  

Get your shoes off the floor and onto a shoe rack, on shelves, or even in a shoe bag. 

Don’t have a separate linen closet?  Fold and place linen on top of a closet or dresser, if easily accessible.

Spring Into Garage Cleaning – POC Guest Post

I love sharing guest posts from the Professional Organizers of Canada! Great content from my colleagues across the country. Here’s an article full of timely tips on organizing your garage.

‘Trouble finding the gardening tools?

The snow is gone, the air is mild, the buds are starting to appear – all signs of spring being here! Aren’t you excited?  Or maybe you will have a tough time getting into your garage to find your gardening tools and patio furniture?

During the cold Canadian winters, who wants to work in an unheated garage?  As a result, the garage becomes a dumping zone which has to be dealt with in the warmer months.

Think twice about what’s being stored there
A garage may not be an ideal location for certain types of storage. They often have solid concrete floors and despite the age of the garage, concrete can absorb and hold moisture and create a damp environment. Moisture eventually finds its way into your possessions and can create mould and rust.

Containerize properly
When storing, items should be containerized so there’s no chance of anything falling on to you, your possessions or your car. (if a car is indeed occupying the garage). It is also important to protect your belongings from pests and moisture as these can be severely damaging. Be mindful of important keepsakes or antiques and wrap them securely.

Sporting goods
Store them within easy reach and systematically according to seasons for easy and safe retrieval. Get as much as possible off the floor. Utilize the wall hanging panels and hooks. (pictured below)

Be realistic about the time involved to get it organized
Depending on the volume of clutter, you may need more than one day to get organized. Many garages require a minimum of 6 hours and can sometimes exceed 24 hours  depending on the size of the garage and the sheer volume of items. Remember, it’s not just tidying up; it’s creating a system of organization so that you will never have to do it again.

Don’t forget to label the bins and locations.
Once everything is up and out of your way, leave your garage in a clean, tidy and labelled manner. Consider labelling the locations of things as well, so that all family members know where to put things back.

Once you’ve invested in a system of organization for your garage, it’ll be easy to maintain for the seasons that follow.

Get Clarity, Get Organized

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