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A Simplified Season November 21, 2013

T-7 days until Turkey day; it is the first holiday of the season.  If you host Thanksgiving as well as various parties and then Christmas or another holiday feast, it is a daunting task to keep it all organized.

Here is a simple way to keep the meal/party planning organized.  We all make this list and that list and it can be fine but chances are you will lose one of the lists or forget something.  Making a list is powerful, so let’s take it a further step.

Take a piece of plain white paper from the printer.

  1.  Fold it in half.
  2. Unfold and on top of left side – write “Meal Plan” – i.e. Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc. and who is bringing the dish if you aren’t making
  3. Next to it on right side – write “Home To-Do’s”
  4. Half way down on left side under meal plan – write “To Buy”, this can be cut off and you can also write on the back.  Add ingredients to make above dishes as well as paper plates, napkins, cups, drinks, etc.
  5. Half way down on right side under to-do’s – make 2 columns to break out your to-do’s – “Do Before” and then “Do Day of”

Having one master sheet for food, purchases and to-do’s will really help keep you organized.  Hang in a visible area to add as needed but also check off when done.  This list will help with any party/meal at your home, so after you make the form, make a few copies to have them ready to go for the future.  Write on the top of the one filling out the Event and year.  You could put in a party file so you can reference each year as well!

Happy Thanksgiving.


Finding the Perfect Purse October 30, 2013

You could only save the world if you could find your keys, right?!  You are usually surprised, not pleasantly, to what you find in your purse!  Wrappers, old food, receipts that are torn, coupons you forgot to use, rocks!  You name it; it will find its way in there.

Your purse needs to be your assistant, supporting you while you are out and about.  You need to be able to find your $ and keys quickly but also have all of those “needed” items corralled so they too can be found and accessed when the time comes.  Your purse has to have “homes” for everything you need and use on a daily basis.  That is the key, only having what you use and need and then placing each of those in an appropriate home in your purse.

So when you need your lipstick, you go pocket A, or your phone is in pocket B – every time.
Things to not carry and/or do:

  • Do not carry your entire make-up regimen, just enough to touch up.
  • Do not carry Non-essential information
  • Do not carry Cards not in use
  • Leave your Social Security Card at home
  • Do not  have Account Numbers and associated passwords written out in your purse
  • Any master list of accounts, etc.
  • Do not have your SSN or Driver’s License number on your checks
  • Change passwords often and shred documents at home with your account numbers

So, what kind of purse do you need?

  1. Function – decorative – going out or everyday use?
  2. Size – assess first what must go in there, the size of your wallet, the size of your planner if you bring one, individual cosmetics or a small pouch, and so on.  Pull the paper out at the store and stuff your items in there!
  3. Compartments – do you want IT to be an organizer for  you or do you want the shell and then add your own systems to organize it
  4. Weight – without even your items in it, how does it feel?  This is key for those with back issues.  3lbs according to the American Chiropractic Association (and alternate shoulders throughout the day)
  5. Material – consider ease of cleaning, inside and out
  6. Length of strap
  7. Top – an open purse is asking for trouble, not just for theft but for stuff falling out!  A flap w/ clasp or zipper top is best.
  8. Style!  Yes, although the goal is to have a functional piece, let’s not forget to make a statement

Maintenance: perform  WEEKLY

  • Dump it out, purge all trash and wipe down the inside
  • File or discard receipts and empty change into a jar
  • Touch each item once and decide if you use it daily or will use it in the next week!  (Duplicates and just in case items clog up your purse)
  • Replace each item into its’ “home”

Tools for the Purse:  To keep everything in its place or to make the switcheroo that much easier!  Purse inserts with pockets, etc work will to plop in and out of purses.   Consider a coupon holder as well for receipts, store cards and info you need handy.

One last tip is to create a master sheet of all the contents – primarily your credit cards.  Jot down the name, the account number, the customer service number on the back and store this in a safe place at home.  If your purse is every stolen, this will be a life saver!


Pretty Organized October 17, 2013

Lots of clutter in a room isn’t pretty.  It is actually pretty ugly.  It visually stresses us out.  Usually there are two goals in a space when you declutter – to bring it to order and have it function as it is supposed to be or to create a new space for doing something, i.e. a craft room.

More so for the second one but for both, it helps to have a visual goal as well as verbal goal.  The verbal is “I want to create a craft room to do my scrapbooking and also be able to store off season clothing.”  The visual goal involves clipping pictures from magazines or starting a board on Pinterest.  You may not be able to buy the exact furniture or items you see but it gives you a goal for finding comparable pieces.

As an organizer, I help determine the items placement based on how they are used as well as flow of furniture for making the space work as you envision.  It is you alone that can dictate the feel or look of the space.  Your choice of colors, fabrics, furniture and décor make the space personal.  An additional choice to make is what organizational tools you will use in the space.  The type of bin – fabric, wicker, wood or plastic – can add or detract from the feel of the room.

Most people want an organized space as well as a pretty space.  I have found that when people by beautiful organizational products to use that actually work for the items they have, they maintain the order of the items as well as the space in general because it is all so pretty!  It is like going into a show room.  As I write this I am looking at my new owl lamp for my desk.  Just buying that forced me to evaluate everything on the desk beside it.  I want it to look nice.  My goal for the next year is to redo my office (which isn’t currently that bad) to match my lamp!

Some great websites and stores to find pretty organizational tools are Officemax, Target, Micheal’s,,, and also the Thirty-One products I sell on the side:

A space organized and pretty is a space you will enjoy, enjoy using and enjoy maintaining.


Back To School September 12, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — jordanaturcotte @ 12:15 pm
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Summer is now gone and Fall is upon us; and that means it is back to school time.  Like us, kids benefit highly from being organized.  Order in all things brings a sense of calm to the household.  How did the first days go?  If not smooth, consider implementing some or all of these ideas to make everyone’s life easier!

Establish a Command Center: a center where you and everyone else can find out what is going on, find critical papers, as well as process the incoming mountain of stuff.

It should contain the following:

  • All Calendars: some options are to place all on a corkboard, use a large dry erase calendar and log each family members activities in a different color or for just referencing; create a binder with sections for each child
  • Other School Forms: such as payments due, permission slips and more – Read it and deal with it immediately – touch each paper only once.  If you can’t do that, file it in a “Take Action” folder or wall pocket and then designate a weekly or daily time to thumb through this and act on the item – ideally Sunday night so if due that week they get in on time.
  • Drop Zone: create “homes” for backpacks, sports equipment, ID’s, coats and accessories and more.  This may be part of our command center or a mud room designated spot.  Also, consider a bin or magazine holder for each day Mon-Fri for placing and keeping track of things that go in or are due back certain days of the week – an itemized list on the bin for known things should be put up.
  • Artwork:  Artwork is great but the volume can be overwhelming!  By all means display some, either on a corkboard or create a gallery on one wall.  Update often and place the pieces that are taken down or overflow from what comes in as part of a “current” box.  Go through a few times a year and place in an archival location with name and year.   A great idea if you don’t want to save them (especially large pieces) but don’t want to lose the memories is to take a digital photo of the piece for the memory.
  • Finished Homework:  Homework that is graded and home for good should either be placed in a “To Be Filed” container or tossed.  Go through a few times a year with your child and pick out favorite projects or big achievements and put them in a box or folder labeled with their name and year – creating a keepsake.  Involve the child in the decision making.

Homework:  Ask yourself the following, When will they do it? and Where will they do it?  You need answers to these!

  • Dictate your expectations – when they should be working on it
  • ZONE – create a homework zone for each child, equipped with but not limited to the following:  a flat surface, a comfortable chair, task lighting, a clock in sight, stock of typical supplies used, corkboard and/or magnetic board, bookshelf/shelving close by.  If the space if for the entire family, a bin/shelf/drawer for each person’s personal stuff works well
  • Have the child utilize a homework planner to document each subjects’ homework assignment is a must.  Ensure they use it daily.  And with that “planner”, teach them to check it just prior to leaving school to ensure associated books and papers needed to do the assignment make it home (place in drop zone).  For younger children, a visual laminated checklist may be useful for things they have to bring home each day – homework, coat, books, etc and clip to backpack.
  • For older students, a corkboard in their room with sectioned off areas with masking tape can be set up to house short and long term assignments like reading lists and reports due.
  • Teach and foster good time-management skills for completing homework.


A few Other Trouble Areas:

  • Clothing: Pick out outfits together on the weekend.  Utilize a days of the week/sweater sorters hanging in the closet for each outfit, include socks, underwear and even shoes if possible to be completely efficientOr, you can pair shirt and pants on one hanger together and always have 7 hanging.
  • AM Routine:  Craziness!!!  Make a list of what needs to get done (dressed, breakfast, teeth, shoes, etc.)  Make a list of “Bring to School” items; such as 1.  Homework  2. Forms  3. Instrument  4. Gym clothes, and so on (picture checklists or flashcards for the younger ones).  Explain your expectations with times, consequences if missed.  Some tricks besides the lists are to use a timer for each activity (i.e. eating, dressing) to have them learn how long it should take or create a CD that goes on at 7:10 and off at 8:00 (out the door time) – kids will get into the rhythm of what song they should be done on or should be playing for each part of the routine.  And lastly, set all clocks back 10 minutes to get out the door on time.
  • PM Routine:  Decide immediately what the rule is for Monday – Thursday evenings.  Schedule, depending on your own schedules and extracurricular activities, what the flow is each day will be upon arriving home: snack and/or dinner time, lounge time, allowable amount of time of TV / video games (you can purchase times that auto-shut off the TV when time is up), homework start time, and tackling the harder stuff first helps with getting it done and lastly, bedtime (and when to start the bedtime routine – and what that routine IS).

Remember, if something isn’t working either in getting homework done or getting to bed on time, reevaluate the system you have in place and keep trying until you get a consistent result.  Every child reacts differently to systems, find one that works for them and you.

Lastly, since the kids are getting back to school, take the extra time to get yourself organized.  Make a project list for you and the house and prioritize it.  Put the projects as appointments in your planner and tackle!

Good luck.


Point of Use August 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — jordanaturcotte @ 2:29 pm
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Each item should have a point of use.  I mean this is in two ways; a point to why you have it meaning how you use it and then the point of placement for use.  A key thing to remember is that the why point may go away!

A Zen parable tells of a wanderer on a lonely road who came upon a torrential river that had washed out the bridge.  So he built a solid and heavy raft, which carried him safely across to the other bank.  “This is a good raft,” he thought.  “If there’s another river ahead, I can use it.”  And he carried it for the rest of his life.

How often do we hang onto things that served us well at one point in our lives but are no longer relevant or useful?  It can be that juicer you bought a special diet but there it sits. It can be the heavy winter coat you used while in school in the Northeast and now you live in Florida.

These things served you well and had a point when you had them.  But now they are useful but useless to you.

Clutter is something that no longer serves you.  It is a delayed decision!  It represents artifacts not used to their potential or perceived potential.

So, find a few things that no longer have a point of use in your life and pass it on to something that can actually use it.


The Feel of Organization August 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — jordanaturcotte @ 7:27 pm
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I recently got a new client.  Now, I love organizing.  And I love helping people do it; the excitement of tackling things that they couldn’t do on their own and seeing all of our actual hard work at the end is really rewarding.  Well, maybe not seeing.  My new client is blind.

She wasn’t always blind and had lived in the home prior to complete loss of sight so she knows what it looks like and I can describe something and she “sees” it in her head.  This is a challenge to me as I can’t get her approval of how it looks but I can get her approval on what I say it is and doing it so she can feel exactly where things are.

Even without seeing her mess, it bothered her.  The feel of drawers and not knowing where things are yields stress.  Mess equals stress!  Knowing what you have and where to find it are key to organization.  That means it is organized and not just put away.  For this client, just put away is pointless.

Her home is very orderly on the surface.  It actually has to be so it is safe; but behind doors and in drawers, not so much.  To the sighted person, spending an extra few minutes peeking in a few drawers to find something may be ok; to her it means never finding it.  I have other homes I have walked into that on the surface look great, but each drawer or cabinet or closet needed improvement.  This bothered them in different ways and that is why I was there.

Each person feels differently about their stuff.  And about how their stuff is in the home.  A “lived” in home may feel fine to some but chaotic to others.  But in general, being organized feels great.  So whether or not you can see or not, how your home feels to you is important.  If you want to feel better about it, organization is key.


Inexpensive Organization July 21, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — jordanaturcotte @ 5:58 pm
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Being organized is beneficial on so many levels.  I really haven’t found a bin or basket that I can’t use in multiple ways.  I always try to use what a client has first before investing in expensive or just plain pretty bins.  Because really, how it looks is only important to you.  When things are being placed closed doors or in a drawer; the look doesn’t matter.

Shoe boxes, liquor store boxes, reusable totes, take-out containers are great for storage.  Mismatched mugs, bowls, baskets and more are perfect and helpful.  I am always amazed at what the local dollar store has!  They have plastic shoe boxes, plastic containers, office organization tools, plus.  They even a section geared towards closet/clothing organization with under the bed bags, large Ziploc bags, drawer bins and more.  And, there is an area with tons of small containers in bright colors perfect for organizing in the kids’ rooms or playroom.  For $20, you could equip your desk, playroom and pantry with multiple bins that could change your life daily!

Some of the “free” or cheap bins may not be great to look at.  Covering them with leftover wallpaper or fabric can make it look high-end.  Even spray painting could be done – say you have 4 random baskets of varying sizes and shapes, get a bold color and spray them all for a uniform look. If the bins are for a playroom, have the kids decorate with stickers or have them write in their own handwriting on a plain label what goes in the bin.

So, when you get something in the mail or buy something or even stop in at a garage sale…don’t look for beauty but look for functionality.

Everything should have a home; what it looks like can be cheap!