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.
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.
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.
Preserving, organizing, and storing your paper family photos in order to enjoy them for a long time is time-consuming but highly valued work.
Gone are the days when your family might have captured a few dozen pictures a year. Nowadays, there may be huge containers and bins of photos hiding in your basement and attic begging to be organized and cherished. It makes a great project for those snowy or rainy days. Enjoy that time as you take a walk down memory lane.
To get started, separate the various mediums: slides, home movies, photo albums and loose pictures. Keep in mind you are trying to get all those boxes reduced to one perfectly edited album that will look elegant on a coffee table, or a few well-organized photo boxes in which you can find things with ease.
Decide whether to sort the photos by chronological order or by theme.
- If chronological, arrange the photos in a logical timeline; it makes identifying the people in your photos and selecting the best examples much easier.
- If thematic, sort them according to categories such as trips, birthdays, life passage events, happenings, etc.Scrapbooks can be made that tell the story of a person’s life.
Get some help from family members to identify those mystery individuals in old snapshots.
Eliminate poor quality shots, duplicates, and any pictures where you don’t know any of the people. Also toss most of the scenery shots. Be ruthless! If it doesn’t immediately bring back a memory, let it go.
Use archival pencils or pens to write the date and the subject on the back of photos with a light hand. Be careful as you want to preserve the data for generations to come, not damage the image.
Once photos are reduced in number, you can determine how you prefer to access them:
- Photo albums
- Photo boxes
- Web-based photo books such as Shutterfly, Picaboo, Canada Photobooks or directly through Apple’s iPhoto App.
For safekeeping of your photos, find a photo scanning company to digitize them. They can be stored in the cloud, or put onto a device for you to keep.
Take the time to respectfully and carefully preserve your family’s photos and memorabilia. Memories can be the most valuable things in a person’s life. Make your photo keepsakes a treasure for the future!
Lisa McDonald, Nova Scotia Member
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:
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.
2. 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.
You can be outdoors but remain shaded at the same time!
The garage and storage areas are typically dumping grounds for the whole family. While it might seem like this no man’s land usually gets to a point of no return, there is hope for returning it to its original state of glory.
Here are some tips on how to transform your garage into an organized and – most importantly – functional space. Perhaps a space in which you could even fit your car? Imagine that…
Join Forces. Blast the music and ask your partner, kids or consider a work exchange with a neighbour or friend.
Collect Supplies. Gather trash bags, gloves, tape, containers, cleaners, paper towels, rags, labeller, vacuum, broom and dustpan. Lay them out and have them at the ready before you start, so that you don’t lose momentum.
Collate Items. Tackle one section at a time and organize like with like.
Purge. Decide and divide items into further categories: what needs to be kept, donated, sold, trashed, returned, repaired or recycled. If you need a dumpster, get one or share one with a neighbour.
Create Zones. Form general areas: sports, garden, tools, seasonal, travel, home, electronics, etc. Create a flow in your garage, keeping the most commonly used items easily accessible.
Make a Path. Always ensure there is a safe and clear path to get what you need. This rule applies to any organizing project. Consider marking out ‘clear’ zones with painter’s tape on the floor.
Get Vertical. Your walls are a great way to store your items so that they’re easy to see and take up less space. Use pegboards, good quality shelving and aim to keep things off the floor to make sweeping a breeze.
Look up. Use the ceiling to store ladders, skis or bikes.
Label Like Crazy. The secret to staying organized is to label—especially if you expect others to put things back.
Make It Easy. For those who seem to ignore labels, clear containers are your friend. They help folks find what they need quickly and put it away easily. Spend a little extra on quality, stackable containers. Add adequate lighting or sensor lighting.
Move It out. Complete the job and get rid of everything that needs to be removed.
Make a Profit. If you’ve got a lot of useable items left over, set up a yard sale so you can make some cash fromyour old goods! Consider Craigslist, Kijiji, eBay or Etsy to reap a little reward for your efforts from saleable items. Set a deadline for selling, after which you’ll donate any unsold items.
Avoid Hijacking. Set up an area for donations, so you can practice the one in, one out rule to prevent a garage hijack from occurring again. Post and communicate house rules to keep it organized.
Too Many Photos?
Most people have their photography in either one of 2 formats; the paper kind randomly stored in shoeboxes and plastic bins and/or the digital ones that we take with reckless abandon. As a result, too many photos are scattered across hard drives, duplicated, mismatched, poorly named and utterly disorganized. It may be time to put some of those memories in order.
Some purposeful planning and a few hours of getting your current photos into the right files will be a rewarding activity on a rainy day.
Digital Photo Organization:
- Frequency – Download at least once a month from your camera and/or phone to your computer into a photo management program or into the cloud. (in case of loss or theft)
- Delete – Discard the duplicates and poor-quality shots. Be scrupulous and diligent. Not every photo is precious. Good photos amongst bad ones won’t stand out.
- Quick Fixes – Try your photo program’s one-click editing tool, such as Picasa’s “I Feel Lucky” button or iPhoto’s “Enhance” feature.
- Make Folders – According to chronological order or a theme or a combination of the two. Create themed subfolders such as vacation, parties, friends; key words that work for you.
- Back it up – Immediately save shots to an external drive, an online or storage service.
- Storage – If you go with an online service, look for one that focuses on storage. Those that offer printing often charge for downloading a photo and reduce its resolution.
- Albums – One of the best backup methods is a photo album or book that can be ordered on line.
- Get Organized – Delete the photos on the camera or phone once they are organized and secure. You’ll avoid downloading duplicates the next time.
Printed Photo Organization
- Supplies – Invest in a large set of matching photo albums and photo boxes. This will make it easy to organize your photos over the years.
- Write it down – Record an identifying description, such as the date or who’s in the photo, on the back of each photo. Use an acid-free, photo-safe pencil or pen.
- Toss Them – Don’t keep bad exposures, blurry shots, or bloopers. Throw away any photos you’d rather not remember.
- Identify – Label each envelope with dates and any other identifying description. Transfer prints less to less bulky acid-free envelopes.
- Create categories – Use broad categories that are easy to remember; i.e. Family events, Travel holidays, Birthday/Parties. Use keywords to jog your memory and a ratings system to highlight your best shots.
- Boxes – Use photo boxes to create a filing system, and don’t forget to LABEL them with an identifying word or date.
- Temperature Control – Avoid storing photos in basements or attics, where temperatures and humidity fluctuate.
- Damage Control – Avoid paper clips, rubber bands and glue unless specifically designed as safe for photos. Use acid-free plastic pages, bags and boxes to avoid long-term damage.
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.
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.
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.
I get asked all the time for “how-to” tips from clients. So for the next few weeks, I’m going to post some great how-to’s. If there’s anything YOU are wondering how to, send us an email and maybe you’ll see it on the blog!
This week, a few tips on maximizing minimal closet space.
1) The first step in organizing a small closet is to go through and purge any items you no longer wear or use.
2) Decide what items you use regularly (undergarments, work clothes, jeans, workout clothes), those you use occasionally (formal wear, bathing suits), and what you use seasonally—basically winter (sweaters, corduroy pants) versus summer wardrobe (shorts, sundresses).
3) Items that are out of season can be stored either in bins on the highest shelf, at the back of the closet, or even elsewhere in a trunk or under the bed. Infrequently used items should be pushed to one end of the bar; keep the space that’s most accessible for frequently used items.
4) Group like things together—T-shirts, blouses, pants, skirts. By hanging shorter items together you will create space on the floor below or maybe even room for a second lower bar to be installed.
5) You can put a set of drawers on the floor of the closet to store things that do not require hanging.
6) Do the non-wardrobe items in your closet truly belong there? Or is there a better place for them- with other similar items? These items should be sorted and stored in labelled baskets, bins, or boxes on the shelf, with items you use more frequently closer at hand.
7) Don’t forget to use the space on the back of the closet door and side walls to hang hooks or pocketed organizers, which are great for shoes, scarves, mittens, accessories, and smaller items.
8) You may also want to consider purchasing organizers which hang off the closet bar and are great for shoes and sweaters, but not heavier items. Closet organizers can be found at discount department stores or home ware stores in the laundry or closet section.