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Bookshelf Basics

Artfully Arranging Your Books

Bookshelves – we’ve all got them, but have you ever put some thought into how your books/DVDs/albums/collectables are displayed? Some people just cram everything on the shelf, some organize by genre, author, date published etc. and the more visually inclined among us organize by colour or height.

Organize Anything has 10 tips for creating a visually interesting and organized bookshelves. Tackle your shelves as your next rainy day project.

1) Clutter free. When re-arranging your bookshelves, leave some “empty” spaces

between groupings here and there, to give one’s eyes a rest between the groupings. Don’t over-do it with lots of clutter. As always, less is better.

2) Zigzag it. To create a balanced look, use a ‘zigzag’ pattern when placing the items.  Place larger items such as book groupings, sculptures, or plants in the corners of the zigzag.  Use the reverse pattern on the opposite (flanking) shelves.  Fill in the gaps with alternations of accessories and books.

3) Show your depth. Painting the backs of shelving in bright, deep or contrasting colours will draw the eye into the shelving and help make objects stand out.

4) Creatively fill the space. If you don’t have a lot of books, arrange some on their sides, others standing up. On some of your stacked books, you can top them with a vase or collectible item. Also keep in mind that vases or pots do not always have to hold flower arrangements. Sometimes, just the color or shape of the vase will add just the right touch of interest to your display.

5) Meaningful knickknacks. Gather items from around your house that have meaning and are pleasing to look at.  Antiques, framed art and photographs, plants, plates and tasteful travel souvenirs or musical instruments complement books well and provide great conversation starters.

6) Too many books. If you are overloaded with books, stacking some here and there on the shelves will take up less space. Also, try stacking several of your favorite books on a coffee, side or entry table, with a pair of reading glasses, decorative magnifying glass or other object sitting on top.

7) Be a little off centre. The arrangement on your bookshelves should never be symmetrically balanced. Organize things, whether books or art objects, asymmetrically. This will create a sense of movement, interest and creativity to your room.

8) Size it out. Most books range in size from eight to ten inches. So avoid shelving that is taller.  This will alleviate a large gap between the top of the books and the shelf above. Don’t be afraid to add more shelving! Unique heights are visually interesting.

9) Alternative stacking. Use books in your decorating scheme to add a functional piece to your room. Place a stack near a chair and use as a side table with a small tray on top. If you have read the books and are just using certain ones to decorate with, you can hot glue them together to make the stack more stable. This is a great use for those out-dated encyclopedia sets that you are not sure what to do with.

10) Light it up. Do you have a reading nook next to your bookshelf? Add a small lamp or some hidden lights will provide light for cuddling up with a great book. It’s also an interesting alternative to lamps in the room.

If a book shelf that’s filled with pictures and vases isn’t your style, experiment to find what works for you. Do you want your books sorted by the Dewy Decimal system? Find a way that works for you! Stack and organize in a pleasing way that is functional for what you need.


Being Organized Takes the Sting Out of Tax Time

A few simple reminders to save you money:

  • If you plan to seek expert advice during the tax season, look early
  • If using an expert, bring everything related to your taxes, including last year’s information   
  • Have a system to separate all your paperwork- this could be envelopes, an accordion file or file folders
  • After you have organized your papers and receipts in categories, flatten them out and have them upright to save time for you or the expert.


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.

Professional Organizers of Canada Guest Post – Downsizing. Now What?

Are you ready to downsize? Know someone who is? A well organized move can make the difference between chaos or a peaceful transition.

There are ways to plan for a stress-free move. Follow our Downsizing Checklist to start on the right path:

1. Start the discussion early: For some, the decision to move may not be a welcome idea. Plant the seed early to start discussing the benefits of downsizing.

2. Determine what isn’t moving:Next is the time to do some space planning and decide what you don’t want to move. Decisions can be made to sort into the following categories: 

  • Pass to family/friends
  • Sell
  • Donate
  • Recycle
  • Waste

3. Contact a Realtor: Ask for referrals, find someone you enjoy working with!

4. Declutter and stage: Time to get the house ready for sale. Consider decluttering and staging if your home needs an update.

5. Book moving company:Make plans for truck rental, moving assistance, or hire a moving company.

6. Packing:Purchase packing supplies, enlist the help of family and friends, or hire a Professional Organizer to get the job done quickly.

7. Update address:Be sure to notify utility companies, services and personal contacts.

8. Moving day:Assign one person to be in charge of all questions of what is going where.

9. Unpacking: Make the transition as smooth as possible by unpacking right away.

If you are stuck or require assistance anywhere along the way, call a Professional Organizer – we are here to help!

Happy Organizing!

Quick Tips for a Holly, Jolly, Holiday

It’s the holiday season.  Time for buying gifts, throwing parties and decorating your home.  All that work can leave little time for enjoying what should be the most wonderful time of the year.  So here are some quick tips to help make your holiday season merry and bright.

Buying gifts
Make a list of all the people you plan to shop for with gift ideas that match their tastes.  Consider gift certificates, which are easy to wrap and create less clutter.  Be sure to set a gift budget for everyone on your list.  Check weekly flyers for sales to plan your trip to the mall.  The best times to shop are weekday mornings when there are fewer people shopping.  Some stores have personal shoppers who can assist you in finding the right gift.  And many stores have websites that allow you to save time by shopping from home online.  Finally, set yourself a deadline to complete your gift buying so you have more time to enjoy the
holiday season.

Throwing a party
Planning a successful holiday party is much like planning any party.  Start by selecting a date, preferably one
that doesn’t conflict with other holiday gatherings.  Once done, determine where you want to host your party – at home, the office or at a favourite spot – and make reservations if necessary.  Now you’re ready to draw up your guest list.  For a formal party,
prepare and mail out invitations.  For an informal gathering, email or phone invitations will do.  If you decide to hold your party at home, develop a festive menu to serve your guests.  If you choose a restaurant or club, ask them to suggest a menu based on
the number of guests invited and their tastes.  Some seasonal music and a few carefully chosen decorations, table settings and centrepieces will help create a festive atmosphere.

Decorating your home
Before you drag out boxes of lights and tinsel, visualize how you want your home to look and make a plan.  A good plan covers everything from your theme (such as ‘An Old-fashioned Christmas’) and colour scheme to the decorations you want to use and where you’ll place them.  Now you can pull out the décor you want to use.  Sift through it and donate or purge any outdated or unwanted items.  Be sure to test your decorations to make sure they work properly.  Replace all burnt-out bulbs and frayed cords.  If you need to buy new outdoor lights, consider strings with built-in timers.  They’ll save you time and energy costs.  Here’s another idea that will save you time: Make a party of it.  Invite family and friends to help you decorate, with the promise of eggnog and other holiday treats.  You could even purchase some craft supplies and have your friends over to create some memorable tree
decorations. (And a few holiday season memories!)

No Need for Holiday Stress

Be realistic. We often start off the holiday season with lots of great ideas for family fun, decorating, parties, gifts and crafts.  Now is the time to take a step back and look realistically at the time frame you have remaining to get all these things done on top of your regular activities.

Remember that these fun ideas can become “one more thing” on your To Do list.  Pick a few things you would like to be involved in and enjoy them.  Save the other ideas for another year or as a way to ward off winter blues in the New Year.

Maintain your regular exercise routine.  Don’t slip up simply because you have some extra errands to do.  Don’t schedule your workouts around your other activities; schedule your other activities around your workout routines.  Try to go
to the gym, swim or exercise at home at the same time each day.  Give yourself and loved ones the best gift of all this holiday and take care of your health first.

Feel pulled in a million directions?
  If your children need you at school concerts, work has extra holiday hours for you or your friends need you to help plan a big holiday party, keep in mind that you won’t be of use to anyone if you over exhaust yourself.  Take a break each day for yourself.  Plan it in your calendar as you would for meetings with family and friends.  Schedule “you” time for at least 15-30 minutes each day doing something that you enjoy.  Whether it’s reading a good book,
going for a manicure or journal writing, take the time to relax and do things you want to do.

Learn to say no. Don’t take something on assuming you will find the time to get it done.  Practice with your family.  Separate
what really needs to get done from what would be nice if it got done
.  Focus on getting things that have to get done and delegate or hold off on the rest.  The holidays should be an enjoyable time for everyone, don’t let yourself become a slave to the season.

Eat properly.  Don’t use the holidays and stress as a reason to over eat.  Although the holidays always seem to bring with them sweet treats and extra appetizers, don’t let them tempt you.  Remember, just because someone offers you something, you do not have to accept.  It is not considered rude to politely pass on a food.  If you start something and know you should stop, pack it up and take it home for a snack or meal later.  There is no rule saying you must eat everything on your plate or everything that is handed to you.  Pick and choose the healthiest foods and indulge on those.  Eat smaller portions of your selected treats.  

Although some people think alcohol decreases your stress, it is only a temporary solution.  Try to stay away from consuming too many cocktails as this will interfere with your diet and overall well-being.  If you are careful with what you drink, you will also eliminate consuming too much at holiday parties which in turn could save you some added stress when you get on the scale.

Cut down your gift giving list.  If you have too many people to buy gifts for this year, make a smaller list. Many people will understand and be relieved of the stress and pressure of time and money just as you will be.  This works for especially well for larger families.  Gather for a cookie or gift exchange where each person is only required to bring one item or send a thoughtful Christmas card instead.

Stick to a budget. Financial woes top of the list of relationship issues.  Don’t put an extra strain on yourself and your relationship by running up big bills this season.  You will decrease your quality of living by increasing stress: wondering how you are going to pay your bills, working extra hours to keep creditors at bay, and doing without things you actually need because you wanted to have the “best Christmas

Decide ahead of time how much you are going to spend on each person on your list. Remember that it really is the thought that counts, and not the size or number of presents.


How to Purge the Urge to Procrastinate

Do you procrastinate? You’re not alone. It’s easy to say, ”I’ll do it tomorrow,” when faced with a project. But if you keep putting it off, you run the risk of racing the clock to complete it at the last minute. And if you do complete it, you may be unhappy with the results. So when you feel the temptation to procrastinate:  

1) Ask yourself why you procrastinate – There are many reasons why we put things off, from fear to lack of motivation. Knowing why you procrastinate will help you break the habit.

2) Identify what motivates you – Is it tight deadlines? The promise of a reward? Think about what motivates you and use that to get the ball rolling.

3) Prioritize your tasks – It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you have several projects competing for your attention. Categorizing tasks as high and low priority will help you to focus on the most pressing projects.

4) Consider the time required – Be realistic when looking at the time it will take to complete any project. Block out time in your calendar so you have a clear start and end date with sufficient time to get it done.

sticky note wall

5) Avoid distractions – Easier said than done. But by focusing on the work at hand, you can complete it quickly and properly. And that will give you more time to focus on other responsibilities or activities.

6) Tell someone else – Knowing that you’ve told someone what you’re planning to do is a great motivator. Even saying it out loud to yourself is often enough to get you started.

7) Anticipate problems – There are always tasks that pose challenges. The key is to visualize them and how you will respond to them. This can significantly reduce anxiety and will help you perform better.

8) Plan a reward – It’s easier to complete a task or two when you know that there will be a reward for your hard work.  

9) Do things as they occur to you – This way, you won’t risk adding another item to your “To-Do” list. You may even find the thrill of getting something extra done motivates you to take on other projects.

10) Ask yourself ”Is there an easier way to do this?” – A little extra thought can make the difference in getting a task done quickly and easily.

If you enjoyed this article, please pass it along to others who would find it useful and sign up for our Organize Anything newsletter on our homepage at

How to Make it Easier to Get Kids Back to School

Professional Organizer Colette Robicheau shares the best tips for getting ready to go back to school.

She talks about how to make the yearly return to school a smooth transition and how to prepare your youngest for their first time to school.

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

Use What You Have – The Cure for Financial Blues

Here’s an idea that will help you get organized while warding off the financial blues—use what you have.  You’d be surprised at how many items you have lying around that you’ve never used.  Items that, by using them, will create more space in your home and save you money.  For example:

1. Use those gift cards and certificates you received over the past year.  It’s a great way to get what you want or need without spending money.  You can even stretch out their value through end-of-season sales.  Just be sure to check the expiry date before using them.

2. Those decorative candles?  They were meant to be lit and to burn out, so use them before you buy new ones.

3. Check your books and magazines.  There’s always one you haven’t read.  Consider cancelling subscriptions for any magazines you don’t read regularly, and get rid of any items you aren’t going to read.

4. Take an inventory of the food you have and think about ways to use it.  Got pasta and tomato sauce?  Add meat and cheese to your grocery list and make lasagna.  Even your freezer is likely to have several items that you can prepare.  This will save you money and reduce clutter in your cupboards and fridge.

5. Why rent when you can catch up on movies you’ve collected, or programs you’ve recorded?  When done, take the movies you don’t need to keep and donate them, or give them to a friend.

6. Built up a lot of points on your merchant loyalty cards for air travel, products or services?  Now is the time to redeem them.

7. You probably have more beauty supplies than you realize.  It’s time to take stock and start using them.  This is also a great way to clear out products that are past their expiry date.  If you have items you don’t plan to use, like shampoo, drop them off at your local women’s shelter.

8. Have a lot of loose change around your house?  Gather it up and use it.  You can roll it up and put it in the bank or divide it up and give it to your kids as lunch money.

9. Instead of a new hobby or craft, revisit one that you set aside. You’ll save money on supplies.

Remember, when it comes to excess or unused items around your home, everything old is new again.  For example, consider cutting up old towels to make new cleaning cloths. And consider giving your extra or unused linen and kitchen supplies to someone who’s just purchased a new home or rented an apartment.   .

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