Monday, October 8, 2007, 10:06 PM
If you’ve got school-aged children, you might have noticed something new around the house in the last month: clutter! When the school day ends, piles of homework, flyers, artwork, sports equipment, jackets, and shoes rush in. Is there any way to keep it all under control?

“There are definitely ways to make the back-to-school transition more manageable,” says Julie Isaacs, a Professional Organizer and owner/founder of The Uncluttered Home. “One of the best ways is to make everyone in the family responsible for putting items in their ‘homes’. Even young children can be taught to put their shoes on a rack or hang their backpack on a hook”

Constant purging is another secret to keeping those piles off of your floor and dining room table. “You can’t maintain order if you keep every piece of paper. If a baseball flyer comes home and your kid doesn’t play baseball, throw it out on the spot! You have to be decisive about what stays and what goes.”

Some of Isaacs’ favorite clutter management tips:
• Ask your children to dump out their backpacks and sort the contents as soon as they walk in the door.
• Handle all incoming paper before you go to bed. Toss the junk, fill out any forms, and put “action items” in your date book.
• Keep only the most meaningful artwork. Store it in a mailing tube or clean pizza box.
• Don’t hold on to those bulky dioramas. Simply take a photograph of your child proudly holding the project and then discard it.
• Hanging shoe bags are great for storing shoes, winter hats and gloves, toys, or art supplies.
• You can’t have enough hooks. Isaacs uses them for coats, caps, backpacks, and sports bags.

After you set up the organizational systems, maintenance is key, says Isaacs. “It’s very easy for clutter to return, so it’s important for everyone in the family to do their part. Make the systems easy and fun to use and you’ll be more likely to maintain them.”

Isaacs has clients all over New Jersey and specializes in overwhelmed, overscheduled families. She regularly speaks on organizing topics and is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO).

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007, 09:08 PM
Tomorrow is July 4th, which means ALL of that paper that came home at the end of the school year is now several weeks old. What have YOU done with your pile(s)?

School papers and artwork are very difficult for many people to sort through. If this is true for you, try analyzing your feelings. Do the crayon pictures and spelling quizzes make you feel emotional? Guilty? Overwhelmed?

Several clients have brought up the KEY question. If you save all of this school paper, what is your end goal? Are you going to hand your kids gigantic plastic tubs full of dioramas and essays when they leave the house? If so, are they going to want them? In the meantime, is anyone looking at/appreciating all this stuff?

My advice is to be VERY, VERY SELECTIVE! Try to save only the pieces that hold some real meaning for you. If it's something a teacher photocopied, or if the teacher did most of the work--DISCARD! If the piece represents some real effort/enjoyment by your child, keep it, honor it, display it, enjoy it.

Want to know how to store the meaningful stuff? Call the Uncluttered Home--I'll be happy to share my best ideas!


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Tuesday, June 12, 2007, 10:43 PM
Here's a conversation I have AT LEAST once a week:

Client: I can't believe I have to hire someone to help me with this.
Me: Why?
Client: It just seems like I should be able to do it myself.
Me: Why?
Client: What's so hard about sorting through clothing (or paper, toys, etc.) and deciding what to keep?
Me: True. It's not rocket science.
Client: Then why can't I do it?
Me: You can do it; you're obviously a very capable person. You just don't. You told me yourself you've started this project several times and never finished it.
Client: It's so embarassing. Other people seem to be able to do it with no problem.
Me: Do you realize that organizing has become a multi-billion dollar industry? Why do you think that's so?
Client: I guess there are other people out there like me!
Me: Of course there are.
Me: Have you ever watched a personal trainer working with someone in a gym? Doesn't it seem like the client should be able to do the push ups without the trainer standing there?
Client: Yes.
Me: I give that person credit for getting help with an activity they've avoided. I give my clients credit for seeking help with their projects. I've required help in many areas of my life. Everybody has at one time or another.
Client: True.
Me: This is a positive thing we're doing here. Do you agree?
Client: I think I see your point.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007, 06:12 PM
There are some items that tend to REALLY pile up. If you only have time for a quick organizing session, look for an excess of the following and start TOSSING/RECYCLING!

--gift bags/shopping bags
--hangers (bring them to the dry cleaner for recycling)
--expired coupons
--old school flyers/homework sheets
--back issues of magazines
--holiday or birthday cards you have received and DO NOT need to keep
--broken or stained items you swore you would fix/clean and never have, never will!

This is enough for now! I'm sure I'll add to this list at a later date.


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Is Laundry Taking Over Your Life?! 
Sunday, March 11, 2007, 08:47 PM
Believe it or not, laundry is one of the biggest challenges my clients face in the home. Taking care of the laundry involves a lot of steps, none of them very entertaining, so it takes a bit of strategizing to keep it all under control.

Anyway, here it goes. Some tips for taming the laundry beast:

1) Don't allow laundry to migrate into every room of the house. Confine it only to the laundry room and to the hampers in your bedrooms. Nobody wants to live with laundry spread over couches, chairs, dining tables, and other flat surfaces.

2) Related to tip #1: make sure each bedroom has a good sized hamper. If laundry is constantly spilling over the top, buy a bigger hamper.

3) Try spreading your laundry out over the week instead of tackling it all on one day. Why ruin your Saturday with hours of laundry when you can parcel it out a little at a time throughout the week.

4) I NEVER EVER carry unfolded laundry out of the laundry room. I fold the clothing as soon as the dryer stops. This avoids those nasty piles of undfolded, wrinkled clothing. Have you ever had to rewash clothing because it's been hanging around unfolded for so long? This is a way to make sure that never happens again.

5) Another way to avoid having to rewash clothing: make sure you NEVER lay clothing, washed or unwashed, on a surface with pet hair (floor, carpet, beds, etc.)

6) Force yourself to get the clothing back into the drawers and closets ASAP. Nobody likes living out of a laundry basket.

7) For families with children, consider color coding your laundry baskets. As you fold clothing, place it in the appropriate basket. Older children can grab their basket and take it from there.

8) Finally, and this is VERY IMPORTANT: GET SOME HELP! Different family members can be assigned specific tasks, such as removing laundry from the baskets, carrying it to or from laundry room, folding, etc.

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