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  • November 09, 2021 3:12 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    November 2021

    What do you do when you are ready for the next stage of life, but need help getting there?

    Moving on to a new phase in life can be hard. No, let me change that – For most people it’s extremely hard. Even if it’s a happy “new phase”, like a new home or addition to the family (baby or puppy). With change comes upheaval. You have to adapt schedules and routines and reimagine parts of your life. When I started organizing I didn’t realize that I’d be part of the support people need when moving to the next stage of life.

    Sometimes making a change requires getting support

    It may take a while to get yourself moving to the next stage. Have you wanted to look for a new job for a while? Or maybe you’ve wanted to move, but just can’t find the motivation to get out and look for a new place. This is often the case when people hire a coach, to help them move on. Sometimes the Basic Organization organizers find themselves in a “coaching role” when a client is ready to move to the next stage in life but needs some support to do so.

    Today I’d like to tell you the story of how we helped one client move on to the next stage in her life. I’ll tell you now, it’s not all about organizing.

    The Beginning

    At our first meeting, I found “Jane” to be a delightful, motivated, and focused individual. This is not always the case with organizing clients. Jane showed me her detailed, written plan of what she wanted to do. I think if someone can get to the point of a written plan they don’t need the help of an organizer. I learned so much from Jane. She knew when she wanted to work (around her work schedule) and she knew where she wanted to start (in the storage room). Jane wanted to review and declutter her entire house, but like a lot of our clients, she wanted to see how it went. I understand. If you’ve never hired a professional organizer, it is not easy to give over to the process right away.

    Jane had spent the pandemic working from home. I think having this extra time in the space had her rethinking how she was using it. Jane had become a widow 5 years earlier.  Since then she had not made big changes in her home. Spending all this extra time had her re-examining how she wanted to live in the space – for herself and no one else.

    The assessment went stunningly well. I toured the home with her. She showed me every room. We talked about what she wanted to do in each space. I asked Jane about her goals in each room. How she wants to use the space in the future is important to have a good outcome with an organizing project. Most of the house was lovely, albeit a bit cluttered. The exceptions (in my opinion) were her kitchen and her storage room.  Jane wanted to start in her storage room. Awesome! In my experience, your storage room is a great place to start, because when your storage space is disorganized, pockets of clutter grow in your living spaces.

    We scheduled 4 days to declutter and organize the storage room. I can hear you say “WOW! 4 days!”. Let me tell you, this storage room was big and had a lifetime of items inside. The biggest challenge (I knew from experience) was going to be Jane’s deceased husband’s things. His things took up about half the space. Also included in the storage room were a few of her adult daughter’s things, holiday decor, the laundry room, and some storage for cleaning and kitchen items. The typical storage room really. Jane’s daughter came home for the first two scheduled appointments to help out. We scheduled 3 organizers for the first 4 appointments.

    We always try to use the materials that our clients already own while organizing a space. Jane had all the shelving and storage bins that were needed to complete this space, so she didn’t have to purchase anything to get started.

    The Middle

    I was lucky enough to be part of the team for the first appointment. As the story goes, we spent most of the first two days sorting through what was in the storage room. Jane had a lot of items that she wanted to sell. So as we worked, we separated those items out, into another room and took photos so we could post them on her neighborhood Facebook sell page.

    Jane chose a lot of items to go to the curb. GO TO THE CURB means “good for someone else” items that the client does want any longer, but is willing to give away for free. These items are usually not good enough to donate, like well-used furniture or a pile of wood. We posted these immediately on the Facebook marketplace for free, each day that we were there and by the end of the day (always) everything was gone, saving Jane a junk removal fee. Jane also identified what was trash, which was bag up to go out in her regular pickup. We also loaded our cars with donations each day. This alleviates Jane from taking multiple trips to her local charity drop-off location or making an appointment for a pickup.

    Jane and her daughter made quick decisions on items . . . until they didn’t. We learn that Jane had lost a child many years ago when we uncovered some items that had memories attached to their lost loved one.  At times like these, we give the client space. Things tend to slow down and we step well into a supporting role. These are emotional times for clients and we want to honor their emotions and wishes. Jane and her daughter worked through these memories at their pace and did the hard work making decisions on what the Next Stage was for these things. We were honored to help them through the process.

    Moving on, we tackled the storage room and left Jane with an organized, half-empty space. Now she can find and move easily get to what she needs. Jane can also now re-imagine and use the empty space for something that supports her present-day interests.

    The End

    Jane was so happy with her newly organized storage room, that she made more appointments to tackle other spaces in her home. Next came the kitchen reorganization. Jane sorted and let go of many items that no longer fit her present-day lifestyle since she’s now living alone and does cook those big meals that she used to. Eventually, we worked in her office, linen closet, and bedroom.

    Oh and by the way, we were quite successful in selling many items for Jane on Facebook, so she recouped a bit of our fee as well.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.

  • November 09, 2021 3:01 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    November 9, 2021

    I love to organize and know the benefits I reap from the exercise. If you are not the same, focus on the benefits of those unlikeable tasks to get them done.

    1. Gain energy. Clutter isn’t just ugly, it’s exhausting. It’s just a reminder of things to do. Eliminate the tension by cleaning up the clutter.
    2. Improve safety. You’ll feel better knowing that your house is cleared of clutter that could cause a fall or other injury.
    3. Start your day happy. Above all, you’ll feel in control if you can start your day by getting dressed from a clutter-free closet and dresser.
    4. Gain more time. By knowing where things are you won’t waste time looking for items.
    5. Appreciate what you have. I often quote Peter Walsh to my clients, by saying “When everything is important, nothing is important.” Only keep items that mean a great deal to you.
    6. Do less later. When you clean your home you usually start with decluttering. By being proactive you eliminate that first step in cleaning.
    7. Enjoy more light. Cleaning the windows and lampshades can give you a new outlook on your space.
    8. Get some exercise. Decluttering and organizing is hard work. Therefore you’ll burn some calories by clearing some space.
    9. Be “company ready”. Eliminating clutter will go a long way to making your space ready for visitors.
    10. Take a tax deduction. Take your unwanted items to a charity and take a deduction on your taxes.
    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.

  • September 28, 2021 10:25 AM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    September 27, 2021

    It’s that time of year again! School is in session. How is your student managing their time? Do you find yourself constantly nagging them to do their homework? Do they always end up doing a large project the night before it’s due? Managing their time and organizing the tasks they need to do is a common issue for today’s students.

    So how can you help them?

    First, ask yourself some questions. Do they have a good system in place to track all of their to-dos? Are they proactively planning and working ahead? Do they have a way to look at their extracurricular commitments AND their schoolwork in order to see possible future time crunches? Have you discussed the benefit of working ahead and not doing everything at the last moment? Is their desk space organized and uncluttered, with appropriate supplies and limited distractions? Do they have both a paper filing and electronic filing system (they should be similar) in place so they can easily find the information they need to do their work?

    One of the most important things a parent can do to prepare a child for schooling at the next level (e.g., middle school, high school, college), is to make sure they have good time management and organization skills to manage their workload. Each year, the amount of work a student is expected to manage increases. The system they used previously needs to be continually improved to meet their additional workload.

    Is your student learning time management?

    I’m amazed that our schools don’t actively teach our students to do this as part of their education. If you’re lucky, they’ve had a teacher that made this a personal priority. I’ve seen so many capable students whose work suffered not because of their ability, but because of limited organizational and time management skills.

    So, if you haven’t already, sit down with your student and have them show you the system they use. Ask the questions listed above. Ask what is working and what is not working.  Try not to be judgmental. Don’t try and impose your system on them. We all operate a bit differently and each individual needs his or her own system. Many students do well with a planner that includes both school and extracurricular activities managed together in a very visual, grid type format (the planners handed out by many schools DON’T work well for some students or would work better used in a modified way). Others can operate fine with a series of lists.    Some like to use paper and pencil and others prefer to use an automated tool or application.

    Ask them how they are filing their schoolwork, both paper, and electronic files.

    Encourage them to set up a paper-based filing system in a file drawer or file crate for this year’s schoolwork. (If they haven’t cleared out last year’s work, now is a good time to get that done!). Most students file papers and files by school subject, making subfolders as needed. Others prefer to file based on their block scheduling (odd day subjects vs. even day subjects).  The system should make sense to them and paper and electronic filing systems should be the same.

    Finally, make sure they have a good place to work.

    It should be comfortable and inviting. Ideally, they should have a hard surface, a comfortable reading chair, access to organized supplies, easy access to a computer and their electronic filing system, a file cabinet or crate for paper files (with extra folders and hanging files), and limited distractions. Some students need to be encouraged to leave their mobile devices in another room while working. Others work better with background music. Encourage your student to try a few different things. Many of them are surprised how productive they are when their phones AREN’T in the room with them.

    Most students are using some system. However, many of them haven’t customized it to work well for THEM or are missing some of the important pieces discussed above.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.


  • September 28, 2021 10:15 AM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    September 27, 2021

    Let’s talk about how to reduce paper clutter.

    With the wide variety of paper that comes into your home every day, you need individual systems (a defined way) to deal with each kind of paper. Having a system will make it easier to determine what is necessary to keep and what should go.

    1. Stop the junk mail and catalogs by signing up for Catalog Choice to remove yourself from mailing lists.

    2. Manage your magazines from coming into your home by canceling subscriptions that you don’t read consistently. Rip out the articles that interest you and file them in categories in folders to eliminate the bulk of the magazines.

    3. After reconciling your bank and credit card statements shred all receipts, except for large purchases, business expenses, and items under warranty. These need to be filed.

    4. Post only needed paper on your bulletin board. This is where less is more. You’ll be able to see what you need without the clutter of unwanted or old paper.

    5. Simplify your library by trading or giving away duplicate books. Consider purchasing an e-reader for future reading, so you don’t add to your collection.

    6.. Manage business cards by scanning them into a contact management software program or organize them into a notebook made specifically for business cards.

    7. Only keep your kid’s artwork that is display-worthy. Keep everything together in one box and take photos of the 3D projects that you want to keep as a memory.

    8. Gather your new greeting cards into categories and store them in a card organizer. Evaluate the sentimental cards you have received and only keep the ones with a high value to you.

    9. Keep coupons in an organizer that will allow you to use them. If you find that you are not taking them shopping with you, stop the practice of clipping them.

    10. Curtail your printing. Save digital copies of bills, statements, and other documents on your computer or in the cloud instead of printing them.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl

  • August 18, 2021 7:38 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    August 18, 2021

    I love to read. Do you? But it can get away from me sometimes. Have you seen my nightstand or e-reader lately? At this time of year, I love a paper book (beach read anyone?) So to help you (and me) out today I’d like to list 10 ways you can manage your reading material. All these tips are for paper-based reading.

    1. Don’t let magazines or newspapers pile up.  Clip out articles of interest and file them in manila folders that are labeled as to the topic.
    2. If you’re in the habit of lending books to others, write your name on the inside cover, so they’ll be reminded to return it.
    3. A quick way of identifying your books so you can keep books of one topic together is to place colored labels on the spines. Red for business, blue for health, green for psychology, etc.  If they get separated it’s easy to spot them.
    4. It’s faster to browse through books on websites than in bookstores. The largest site is (of course) You can search by title, author, and subject.
    5. When photocopying material from books that cannot be marred, write the source on a sticky note that can be removed after photocopying.
    6. Stick a partial pad of sticky notes on the inside cover of any book you are reading so you can easily mark pages and make notes.
    7. If you find you lose your place when reading books due to the bookmarker falling out, use an elastic band.  It keeps the read pages firmly in place and will definitely not fall out.
    8. Keep a folder containing articles torn or photocopied from magazines so you can read while traveling, in waiting rooms, or in long lines.
    9. Every few years, allow your magazine subscriptions to expire. Reinstate only those you have missed.
    10. Read books and magazines with a highlighter in hand to mark relevant ideas and a pen with which to jot ideas in the margin.
    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.

  • August 18, 2021 7:25 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    August 18, 2021

    You want your kids to be organized. But you need it to be easy and fast and fun! It’s important for children to manage their own things. By giving them responsibility for their toys, clothes, and rooms you teach them essential life skills. This is a broad subject, so we’ll focus on tips you can use to make your life easier and your kid’s toys and books more organized.

    1. Store small toys in see-through bins that are an appropriate size for your kids to carry.
    2. Sort items of the same type into bins.
    3. Communicate where things belong with labels.
    4. Use container size as the limit for that type of item.
    5. Apply the one-in-one-out rule to cull the number of toys.
    6. Never keep the box from a toy separate from the toy itself.
    7. Make it easy for preschoolers to put books away by housing them in bins.
    8. Store books for older children on shelves.
    9. Make putting things away as easy as taking them out.
    10. Model the behavior that you want from your children.
    You want your kids to be organized. But you need it to be easy and fast and fun! 

    Hope you enjoyed these tips on organizing your kids, here are similar posts, with general kid’s organizing tips, and tips for organizing kid’s bedrooms.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.

  • August 02, 2021 11:55 AM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Jill Katz

    One to Zen Organizing

    August 2, 2021

    The Back Story

    This past year, I started asking my clients a new question: 

    “How do you think your space should look when it’s not in use?”

    This question occurred to me when I was organizing a client’s new apartment. Each time I walked into her apartment, I noticed that the dining room table was cluttered. Although we were organizing another room, I took a moment one session to ask her how she would like it to look when she wasn’t using it. She thought for a moment and responded: She would like the table to have a few items in the center but, otherwise the table should be clear. 

    So we started by moving everything off her table and arranging her napkins,salt, and pepper in the center. We took a step back and sighed contentedly. Then, we took an hour of the session to investigate and problem solve the other items that were accumulating on the table. Her puzzle could be moved to the coffee table and placed on a special puzzle mat. Her mail could be sorted on the coffee table and any bills or to dos could be placed in the storage space there. Her keys and wallet were set on a pretty bowl on the hall table. The Reset was born and it was revolutionary.

    How the Reset Differs From Traditional Organizing

    At first glance, The Reset doesn’t look much different than ordinary organizing. But I knew I was onto something. Here’s how the Reset differs from traditional organizing and why it is so effective:

    • For the Reset to work, you must use a small space. (i.e. a table, counter, shelf or shelves, perhaps a small closet)

    • The process is flipped in The Reset by jumping to the last step of traditional organizing and arranging items in the space the way you want it to look when everything is put away. This is super motivating. 

    • The client needs to create a clear perspective of his or her space’s purpose upfront as well as a mental picture of the end result.

    The Steps

    Intrigued? Try it yourself! Here’s how you apply the reset to your space:

    • Choose a small space that is accumulating clutter. Start with your own space. Not a shared space. We will discuss shared spaces real soon in another post. I promise!

    • Ask yourself: What is the function of the space? Really challenge yourself to think about how you have used the space in the past and if you would like to use the space in the same way moving forward.  Don’t forget to ask yourself how you want the space to look when it is not in use.

    Some examples: 

    Kitchen counter:  Used for food prep

    When not in use only items on counter are toaster oven and coffee maker

    Office Desk: 

    Used for work and paying bills and dealing with mail

    When not in use only items on the desk are laptop, a vertical file holder and pens

    • Now take everything out of that space and only put back what you want in that space when it is not in use

    • Look at the items that you removed from that space and sort through them. What categories do you see? Where do they belong at the end of the day? How can you problem solve so that it’s easy to put them away?

    This is a critical step or else these items will creep their way back into your space. Some items will be used to serve that space when “in use” and will be stored nearby. Other items don’t belong in that space and need to be stored in a different area. Don’t forget that some items don’t belong anywhere in your home and should be donated or thrown away.

    In Conclusion

    So next time you feel a heaviness descend on your soul as you walk past a cluttered counter or table in your home, consider pressing The Reset button. Were you able to transform that small space? Let me know how it goes….

    For more information, contact Jill Katz.

  • August 02, 2021 11:29 AM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Jody Al-Saigh

    Picture Perfect Organizing

    August 2, 2021

    How to Prepare for Your First Visit with a Professional Photo Organizer

    For people who struggle with organizing their photos, hiring a professional photo organizer can be a great resource. A photo organizer can provide valuable tips for organizing photos and can give hands on guidance to achieve your final results. But there’s a few things to keep in mind that can save you time and money

    1) Think about your goals for the professional photo organizer.

    A common goal is to preserve precious memories. Perhaps you were given photos by a family member or found historic photos after the passing of a loved one. Maybe you’ve run out of room and your printed photos are cluttering your space. Or you want to be sure not to lose precious digital photos, but you don’t know how to back them up.

    Another goal could be to share the photos with others. What is the point of taking all these photos if they never leave your phone? Maybe you want to make a scrapbook as a gift. Or share photos online with former classmates and friends. Perhaps you want to frame some beautiful vacation images.

    Many people are also interested in downsizing and digitizing. Can you take all those albums with you? Will you have space for all of the framed photos you used to hang? Will your digital memories be organized after you’re gone?

    When you’re getting ready to move, photos are a key piece to consider, but often get put aside when trying to think about moving furniture and other items. Getting printed photos scanned is a great way to take all of your photos with you, even if space in your new home is limited.

    2) Prepare to get started. 

    A lot of people get daunted or overwhelmed by the process of organizing photos. They just don’t know how to get started.

    Setting an appointment is a great first step!

    Sometimes people hire a professional photo organizer just to have a regular appointment to keep. If they are paying someone by the hour, they know they don’t want to waste their money and time. An organizer will work side by side and becomes an extra set of hands in the organizing process.

    For many people, photos trigger a lot of emotion. Organizing photos can get derailed when the memories cause pain or sadness or even if they just cause the client to get sidetracked reminiscing about happy times. Photo organizers can offer guidance and steer you back on course when a project hits a roadblock.

    Photo organizing is one of those tasks that, for many, can fall by the wayside in our busy lives. But after a while the task gets too big to manage because you’ve put it off for so long.

    Often the bigger a project gets, the more money you end up throwing at it in order to quickly solve the problem. professional photo organizers can make sure that you’re shopping and spending appropriately – finding the best backup solution for your hard drive, determining how much cloud storage you should pay for, finding cost effective but photo-safe methods of storing prints and memorabilia items.

    3) Get going on your project!

    You’ve got a goal for your photos and your first appointment with a photo organizer is booked. 

    Prepare for your visit to maximize your savings.
    For print photos, search and collect from every place photos are stored in your home and get them into one spot. This saves time for when the organizer arrives – you don’t need to hire someone by the hour to help you rummage through your drawers and closets.

    When everything is brought together, set up a good area to work. You should have a large flat surface such as a dining room table or a bed in a guest room. If you have the space, find an area for photo sorting that doesn’t have to be put awaybetween appointments.

    It’s always good to break up the organizing process into small and manageable chunks – you can’t expect to organize all your photos in one single session with an organizer. So, it’s great if all of the sorted piles can stay put if you have the space to leave them out.

    If you’re trying to organize digital items, similar rules apply. Everyone these days has multiple devices that take and store photos. Gather all of your phones, tablets, camera memory cards, old hard drives and laptops, thumb drives and CDs together to show your organizer. Make sure you have all of the necessary cords to charge and plug in those devices so your organizer can view everything contained on each device. Your photo organizer will want to see the total volume of your photo collection to determine the scope of your project.

    Advancements in technology have made digital storage much easier to achieve, even for those who aren’t technologically savvy.  Whether you can manage it yourself, or if you need a little help, you will definitely want to use technology to your advantage to preserve your collections in a digital format. 

    Now you’re off to the races! You and your photo organizer can work efficiently and with less stress because you’ve prepared in advance. Best of luck with your photo organizing!

    For more information, contact Jody Al-Saigh

  • July 14, 2021 12:44 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    July 12, 2021

    I recently finished reading Small Change by Susan & Larry Terkel. The beginning of the book had a great chapter on how to apply small changes to your life. Like many of our clients who are trying to make changes, doing something large is overwhelming and often left untried. Susan & Larry suggest that small changes will add up to something big in the end.

    On top of chapters on health, relationships, creativity, and work, the chapter that resonated with me the most was small change for more happiness. Isn’t that what we are all about, living a happy life.

    There was a section in the chapter on Slowing Down and the first line is, “Are you always in a hurry?” They suggest that one small change you could make is to slow down. It will make a difference in all areas of your life. The authors suggest 10 advantages to doing this exercise.

    Slowing Down

    1. Allows you to be more careful and lessens the chance of accidents
    2. Removes much of the stress caused by hurrying and worrying about it
    3. Makes you a safer driver
    4. Helps you to be more patient with everyone
    5. Gives you time to think before you speak, talk more slowly, and listen more carefully
    6. Allows you to be more mindful
    7. Makes you eat more slowly and allows you to enjoy your food
    8. Enables you to rely less on fast  and processed food and more on home-cooked meals and pleasant dining experiences
    9. Allows you to entertain more easily and make your guests feel more welcome
    10. Makes you feel as though you had more time to live life

    In our fast-paced world, it may be hard to consider slowing down, but if you want to improve one of these 10 areas of your life, slowing down may be the ticket.

    In conclusion, try to do everything a little slower.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.

  • July 14, 2021 12:36 PM | Jeanne Fox Alston (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl

    Basic Organization

    July 5, 2021

    The more choices you have, the longer you spend deciding what you want. Limiting your choices makes it easier to make decisions. Therefore you are more efficient.

    What to do about choice?

    • Pick out what you are going to wear to work the night before.
    • Only wear solid colors or certain colors.
    • Establish a weekly dinner menu.
    • Eat the same thing for breakfast every morning.
    • Create a standard grocery shopping list.
    • Pay all your bills in the same method.

    Finally, consider cutting back on time spent mulling over decisions and move on to the next thing.

    For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.

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