Getting Real About Getting Organized

Friday, January 10, 2014
Every January we’re deluged with articles, posts, and interviews about how we all need to get organized.

Magazines and blogs feature photos of sparse, tidied closets and pantries like none of us own. Pinterest boards swell with ingenious ways to hide cables, hang scarves, store coupons, and label jars.

Enough already.

What we really need is a way to get organized about getting organized. Sounds complicated, but what I’m really saying is, “Let’s step back and look at the big picture.”  

There are only two reasons to organize your home:
  • Save time
  • Save space 
Both of which are important to people with a home on the market.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that everything I learned about getting and staying organized I learned from a little paperback book that somehow fell into my hands years ago. Let’s just say that the name I wrote on the inside cover of this book was my name before I married Mr. Lucky, and we've been married almost 22 years. 

In a nutshell, Simply Organized, my bible for organization, stresses that getting organized is a two-step process:
  • Simplify
  • Systematize
We all know about methods to sort through our belongings and declutter our spaces. My home staging eBook gives you all the tips you need to do it effectively and efficiently.

The beauty of what Simply Organized recommends is – not surprisingly – its simplicity. It’s an idea you don’t see in all the colorful ads for clothes hangers, storage containers, labeling systems, and shelving units, but it has made all the difference to me in the way I look at organization.

The advice in this book has helped me stay on top of things, minimize frustration, save time, feel in control, and make routines that are easy to turn into habits. Isn’t that what we all want and need?

Being organized means you have the supplies and tools 
you need for an oft-repeated routine all in 
one place. When it's time for tea, I'm ready.    

In a nutshell, to systematize you need to think in terms of categories. You probably already have systems in place for some routines like setting the table, packing lunches, cleaning the car, and styling your hair. Ask yourself if these "kits" are complete and if they easy to get to and easy to put away again.

It's more important to locate your systems where they are easy to put away than it is to locate them where they are easy to get to. Think about it: when you are looking for your hot glue sticks, you're motivated to find them fast, but not so motivated to put them back where they belong.

Making stuff easy to return to your system makes it easy to stay organized. After all, what good is getting organized if you can't stay organized?

What Makes this Book Special?

After reading Simply Organized, I started making systems for repetitive tasks. Over the years, my responsibilities and interests have evolved, but I haven't forgotten what I took from that book. I'm not by nature a compulsively organized individual, but I'm always looking for easy ways to be tidy and efficient.

These are some of the systems I set up and use regularly:
My picnic kit-in-a-shoebox sits in 
our coat closet.I can grab it, 
pack cold food in a cooler, 
and we are ready to go. 

A baking system that isolates all the ingredients I need for making bread, cakes, and cookies -- flours, cocoa powder, buttermilk powder, leavenings, extracts, sifter, measuring cups, mixing bowls. 

A sewing system that gathers all my fabrics, supplies, and equipment on one side of my studio. My jewelry making supplies live in a dresser against another wall.  

An exercise system that clusters in one corner of my bedroom everything (except workout wear) to help me keep fit and motivated, including my scale, journal, hand weights, yoga mat, and treadmill. 

A gift wrapping system that consolidates paper, ribbon, tape, tags and gift bags in one bin that fits in a closet.

A first aid system that holds most of what anyone needs for cuts, burns, splinters, and sprains. Another plastic shoe box holds remedies for aches, pains, cold and flu. 

A pet care system with all Misty needs in the way of medications and grooming essentials.

A mail system that makes dealing with the mail effortless. In addition I have a separate mailing system in a dresser drawer where I store bubble wrap, padded envelopes, a scale, marking pen, and packaging tape.

I've also built systems for flower arranging, shoe care, seed starting, bathroom cleaning, picture hanging, stain removal, and…well, you get the idea. Logical essentials grouped together that have a logical place to live.

If you keep party supplies all together, impromptu birthday 
celebrations are easy. If my home were on the market, 
I would use a covered box for a clean look.   

Some Things are Timeless 

The interesting thing is that Simply Organized was written in 1986, and you know what that means: pre-computer! Today we all have our favorite systems for record-keeping, but the book is still a valuable source of concise advice and encouragement for household management of the bulkier things – the cookware, food, clothing, sports equipment, toiletries, crafts, toys, tools, and the rest of it.

Although their focus is slightly outdated, the authors, Connie Cox and Chris  Evatt, will still help you get a grip on the stuff you need to either eliminate or organize when it’s time to sell your home. That’s why I’m telling you about it. I don't make money if you buy a copy. I just want you to stage and sell your home. (Update: I see that the book is available only second hand through Amazon.)   

I once read that a major indicator of intelligence is the ability to see the similarities and differences in a group of items. Think of those tests you took at various stages of your education, starting with Sesame Street, when you were asked to find “which of these things is not like the others.” So, yes, it takes intelligence to establish systems, but simplifying your life will make you work smarter and live smarter.  

Year in Review: Helping You Look Ahead

Wednesday, January 01, 2014
My blog is supposed to help you stage your home.
It's 2014. How am I doing?  
Now that all the ho-ho-hoing is behind us, it's time to jump into 2014 with fresh goals and sweet expectations. A popular inspirational quote on Pinterest now advises: "Don't follow your dreams, chase them!"  Maybe you have dreams of selling your home.

With that possibility in mind, I've gathered the posts from this blog that more people read in 2013, the posts they liked and shared on Facebook, commented on, and pinned on Pinterest.

To this list, I've added the posts I personally think will help you the most when you are staging a home for sale.

To kick things off, in January I blogged about assessing your own staging efforts. Most people have difficulty judging their own work. I devised a simple test to see if your home staging tricks are all that they can be. Just answer the questions and you'll know if what you've done to get your home sold is on track.

Some readers and Facebook friends told me I was giving away too many secrets when I wrote about the pros and cons of tackling DIY staging, but I like readers to make their own choices. Here's what to read if you are wondering if you should stage your own home or hire a stager.

In May I waxed all nostalgic about my love affair with porches. Porches add value to a home, but even if your house doesn't have a real porch, decks and patios can be just as charming to buyers. Learn how to stage a front porch and your curb appeal can skyrocket. Stage any porch and you've added usable square footage to your home.

I recently viewed a home and was asked what to change about the decor. The single mistake that stood out was a lack of pattern. All walls, all draperies, all upholstery and all flooring were solid colors. If you are afraid of adding pattern, you need to get over it! Please read this post to learn how to mix patterns.

Bedroom and living room furniture define the lifestyle a home portrays. Find out why
mid century modern furniture is ideal for staging. Photo: Bryght Modern Furniture.    

Since I think mid century modern furniture is beautiful, I'm glad many readers agreed. You don't need to live in a 1950's ranch house to make the most of this style's clean lines and classic textiles. Discover all the reasons why MCM designs are safe choices for effective home staging.

Who doesn't love a makeover? I kept the chair my friend Rhys wanted to throw out because I knew I wanted to experiment with painting fabric. It was one DIY project that received a good number of Pins, and a makeover I really had some fun with. Go visit my microfiber chair repaint.

My husband is a rock star to my mind.
He taught me all his professional
painting secrets. 
But this tutorial on painting an overhead garage door received even more views and Pins. If you are not a blogger yourself, you may not realize all the planning and details that go into making a good tutorial. When someone else is doing the work -- my own Mr. Lucky in this case -- and I am the photographer and note-taker, a tutorial is a whole lot easier to put together.

I wrote a few posts about how to stage a mantel, but this one seems to have the best advice, all in a nutshell. Learning how to put together a pretty mantel is an excellent exercise to hone your skills for tablescaping and accessorizing any room. The same rules apply. Check 'em out.

People who know me know I am happiest when I'm fooling around with plants. Whether you are a gardener or not, your home will benefit from a few strategically placed potted plants. Here's the skinny on how to choose containers for container plants. 

It's common knowledge that painting a room is one of the best ways to spend time and money when you're selling a house. As a professional housepainter, it drives me a little batsy to see people do it wrong, wasting energy or getting poor results. Please don't let that be you. Do yourself a favor and follow my simple room-painting pointers.

Those are my Top Ten. If putting your home on the market is part of the plans you have for 2014, I sincerely hope that these posts and my blog and eBooks help you reach your goals.

I am looking forward to an exciting year ahead as my blog continues to grow, thanks to readers like you. I value each one of you, and hope you'll continue following my home staging adventures in the coming months. I have so many ideas and projects to share with you!

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