All posts by jdecker

Holiday Shopping Tips: Home Organizing Gift Guide

The holiday shopping frenzy is ON! To us that means it’s time to help friends and family get organized with some handy gifts. While the ideas on our list may not seem as breathtaking as the latest smartphone, getting organized can create a sense of well-being, and we think that’s one of the best gifts you can give!

For our Ultimate Gift List, we enlisted help from a few of our favorite professional organizers, who shared products that have made a difference in real-life situations, solving problems for clients.

Jessica Decker of Become Organized, Inc. likes to help clients divide and conquer, shifting things into organizational categories that make them easier to find. She loves unmarked closet-rod dividers for making sense of clothes.  “Just like when you shop at a store and different sizes are noted by dividers, these little circles let you know that you’ve come to a different section of your closet. They give an easy visual to let you know where one section ends and another begins, cutting down on time spent searching for what to wear.”

 Jessica also recommends drawer dividers as a simple yet powerful organizational tool that a lot of people still overlook. “They can be used in a dresser drawer to keep socks separate from underwear, or can be used in the kitchen to separate utensils.”

For more tips, check out the Public Storage blog at:

Written by Kastle Waserman for Public Storage.

Put Your Best Face Forward

Summer is gone (sigh) and we’re getting ready to dive into fall. You’re pulling out sweaters and putting away the bathingsuits and it’s also time to take a look through your makeup stash. This includes not only what’s at home but also what you’ve got in your purse, your car, and at work. Bring it all out; we’re going to review it.

Makeup trends change quickly and you want to stay on top of what’s current — is nude lipstick in or out this fall? Chances are that with all the products on the market, each vowing to make your face look younger, lashes longer, and lips fuller, you’ve got a lot of products. You buy one thing, it doesn’t work, and then you try something else. But it’s so hard to get rid of that barely-used jar of cream…it cost so much! Do yourself a favor here. Close your eyes, aim for the trashcan, and let go.

We all know how disgusting expired makeup can get, causing your skin to break out and even giving you infections! Not pretty. Do yourself a favor and toss the old stuff. Basic guidelines suggest replacing liquid makeup (mascara, foundation, eyeliner) every 3-6 months and powders and lipsticks every 1-2 years. Anything that’s broken should be tossed as well.

Speaking of broken makeup, investing in a makeup holder to contain all your pots and tubes and pencils is essential. Letting makeup run free-range in the bottom of a drawer or tossing it all in a large makeup bag beats up your powders and knocks tops off of lipsticks, allowing them to collect dust and dirt. A holder with drawers and separators lets everything have a place and keeps it organized.

When you go out you want to put your best face forward. By refreshing and organizing your makeup, you’re cherishing your skin by not putting on expired makeup and it’s easier to get ready because your makeup is sorted. As a bonus you’ll also be sporting the latest colors and products. Who doesn’t love new products?

Challenge Yourself

  • Get rid of the following: makeup that you’ve had more than a year; makeup that smells; makeup whose ingredients have separated; and anything that doesn’t look good on you (this one should be a no-brainer, in fact, you should have already tossed it!).
  • Separate items by use: group the following together: face, lips, eyes. This way you won’t lose an eye shadow color because it’s grouped with your blushes.
  • Purchase a good makeup holder to keep it organized: acrylic makeup holders with separate spots for lipsticks and pencils and drawers for your powders and blushes are great.

Starting an Organizing System

They say that hindsight is 20/20 and that the past informs the future. But sometimes we get so mired in the past that we can’t see through to our present, and eventual future. What I’m talking about are phrases like “well I’m just not an organized person” or “that’s not the way my mind works” and “I’ve been getting along like this so far”. I challenge you to look at what’s holding you back from starting an organizing system and conquer those barriers.

True, you may not be an organized person right now but being organized is something you can learn.  Use this challenge and get your organizing system started. Here’s how it works if you’re organizing your kitchen.

  • Remove everything.  This is the time to toss expired food, rusted can openers, topless Tupperware, novelty kitchen items, duplicates…basically anything in the kitchen that shouldn’t be there. This also includes removing kids homework and laundry.   

  • Set up your zones.  Evaluate the way your kitchen is set up and change it to reflect the way you use it. Do you have your baking items in a prime spot when you rarely bake?  Use the work triangle to allocate space for your most frequently used items. Wikipedia states, “The main working functions in a home kitchen are carried out between the cook top, the sink and the refrigerator. These three points and the imaginary lines between them, make up what kitchen experts call the “work triangle”. “ Also put infrequently used items up higher, in the back of cabinets, and try storing items like cooking utensils in a crock on the counter.

  • Put back only what you need.  If you’ve assigned a cabinet to hold pots and pans and you have too many pots and pans to fit in the cabinet, purge down until they fit or allocate another cabinet to fit all you’re keeping. Use this experience to evaluate what you have and keep only what you need for your life in the future.  In the past you may have been a baker but with two kids, it’s not happening for you anymore. That’s ok. Pack it up and give it to someone who will use it.

By balancing the past and the future you can be organized in the present by only having what works for your life now; not what used to work in the past and not what may work in the future. These three pillars work for whatever organizing system you’re starting. You can redo your office, overhaul a closet, and tackle kids bedrooms with these tips. Try it! 

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Control Your Inbox with Gmail Filters

By David Saphier, Tech Concierge, 

Over time I have subscribed to many newsletters and get many promotional emails from places I’ve made purchases.  I like to keep all this email separate from the email I receive from friends, family or email that is business related.  There is an easy, incremental way to do this using Gmail filters.

Here are the 10 easy steps:

  1. Open the promotional email.
  2. Click on More at the top of the page.
  3. Select Filter messages like these.
  4. A dialog box will open.  Click on Create filter with this search (bottom right corner).
  5. Click on Apply the label.
  6. Click on Choose label.
  7. The first time you do this you choose New label. I titled my folder “All Promos”. Click Create.
  8. Next, near the bottom of the dialog box check Also apply label to matching messages.
  9. Check Skip the Inbox near the top of the dialog box.
  10. Finally, click Create filter.

When you want to include email from another source in All Promos, you do all the steps except at Choose label (Step 7), you choose “All Promos”.

You can repeat this process for any other category you choose, like newsletters.

By checking “Skip the Inbox”, these messages will not show up in your Inbox, so be sure to check these new folders for new email.

Note that Gmail can be set up to sort out promotional email without these steps.  However, what I’ve outlined is applicable to any category you wish to set up.  I also like having control over which messages I send directly to the All Promo folder and which I allow to show up in my inbox.

Let David help you with all of your technology needs. He can help if you feel tangled up by technology, or simply don’t have the time to do it yourself.

Creating Pleasure in Your Daily Routine

Too often a daily routine seems too…routine. However, routines are necessary. They develop a daily normalcy and in doing so keep us on track.  The trick is finding pleasure in the necessary routines of life.  And, if you are not the type of person who loves a beautifully organized bookshelf or kitchen cabinet, how is it possible to find the pleasure in the routine of organizing?

Creating a daily organizing routine requires some perseverance to start. You take pride in your home, and maintaining an organized space reflects that pride to others and yourself. Imagine how good it will feel to wake up in the morning and step into your tidy kitchen, or to have friends unexpectedly stop to admire your beautifully apartment rather than being embarrassed to invite them in for a visit.

To change your mindset on organizing requires that you make daily tasks within your routine enjoyable. Start by thinking positively about the organization task at hand. For example, turn on some music to get you moving and energize you. Or, reward yourself after organizing with a cold beverage or sweet treat. Soon, you’ll internalize these feelings and this will reinforce your organizing habit. By thinking positively and pleasurably about organizing, your brain gets rewired to associate organizing with positive emotions. Imagine that. 

  • Organize every day.  Set aside just 15 minutes each day to organize.  Do this first thing in the morning, right when you get home from work, or right before bed. Choose the time that works best for your schedule and stick with it.  Make this time YOUR time.

  • Prioritize where you organize.  Organize the areas in your home or office that is used most regularly and/or falls into disarray most quickly. This could be the entryway, kitchen, or the room in which your family spends the most time.

  • Practice purging.  Remove all the items that don’t belong in any given space.  Place items in their proper room and throw away, give away or donate the items you no longer need.  Finish the room by refolding blankets, straightening chairs, and repositioning pillows. 

Check out this post and more at Yoffie Life: