Warning: mime_content_type(/home/otttoget/public_html//blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/favicon.ico): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/otttoget/public_html/wp-content/themes/FlexxCraft/lib/file-utility/file-utility.php on line 248

Archive for Home Organization


Put the “FUN” in Functional

Posted by: | Comments (0)


I just became a Pinner on Pinterest.  It’s so much fun and great for a visual person like me.  If you love organizing like I do please follow some of my Boards for some really fun ideas on dealing with clutter while keeping your home looking and feeling great!

This photo is a great example of style and function.  They used the space so well and the storage is amazing.  For more inspiration check out Ott To Get Organized, Simple Clutter Solutions, Beauty and Function and Paper Management.

Lots more to come….



Ott Go Tip

Memorabilia and Family Treasures
To Keep or Not to Keep?  That is the Question!

If you have LOTS of mementos and family keepsakes and are running out of storage space or simply don’t know what to do with it, you need some criteria to decide what you should keep and what you shouldn’t.

1. If it is important family history such has letters, genealogy, photos, birth and death certificates, military records, etc. those are items to hold onto.  These items tell your family story.  But, they need to be stored with care.

  • Anything paper should be kept neatly stored in archival quality boxes.  You can get these at Storables or the Container Store.  They must be acid and lignin free.
  • Wrap like items with string or raffia and put a tag on them to indicate what they are, before placing them in the box.  Labeling is important!  Once the generation is gone who was able to identify items, the information could be lost forever.
  • ALWAYS keep these items in a place in your home that is free of moisture and is kept at a consistent temperature.  Don’t store them in the garage, or attic – too hot and damp.If they are truly family treasures that you want passed down to the next generations, then they must be treasured!!

2.  You are not required to keep things you inherit or get as gifts.  Just because you love the person who gave you the item(s) doesn’t mean you have to love the item(s).

  • If it is not your style and you know you will never use it, give it to another family member or a friend, sell it, consign it at an antique mall, or donate it.
  • When my grandma died, I kept just the things I loved or were useful.  It is OKAY to let go of items when people pass away.  They loved us and wouldn’t want their items clogging up our lives and causing us unnecessary guilt and stress.  So use it, display it, honor it, or give it away before it gets ruined.  Just DON’T store it forever.

3.  Our children make a lot of cool artwork, bring home truck loads of school papers and create beautiful cards, pictures and notes for us.  Every last piece can be precious; however we do not have room to keep it all.

  • Again, keep the historical items; stories or journals they wrote about what was happening in their life, photos, drawings of them or family, hand prints or items that chronicled their age.
  • Let go of math papers and other assignments, cards with no real messages inside, basic artwork (the kind you can’t even remember which child made).
  • Take photos of items and put them in a scrapbook and get rid of the actual piece, especially the big ones.  If you love it, frame it and hang it.  Put the clay art in the garden or use it for something practical.


Take Action!

If you have something you can’t decide what to do with, contact me and let me help you brainstorm.  Sometimes you just need to talk it through before giving yourself permission to let go.


I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season.  I love Christmas and I love decorating our home – let me rephrase that, I love the decorating once it is done.  For some, like my mom, it is effortless, for others, like me, it takes a little more work.   

So, I am always trying to simplify the Holidays and I’ll try any good organizing trick.  The less time we spend on the chores, the more time we have to do the fun stuff.  If you want to relax a little bit more and stress a little bit less, try some of my favorite Christmas tips.  

  • Start wrapping gifts early. Put post-it notes on your gifts so you can stack and store them easily.  Put the tags and bows on when you are ready to put them under the tree.    
  • Clear out the old to make room for the new.  Go through toys, clothes, and get rid of the strings of lights that no longer work.  If you have decorations that you are ready to retire, donate them.  If they are sentimental, but don’t fit in with your décor, try this.  Lay everything out on a table and have your children draw numbers.  The child who has #1 picks a decoration, and so on.  Let them decorate their bedrooms with them.  My kids used to love this.  
  • If you have scenes set up around your house, take a photo of each one.  When you take down that particular scene, put the decorations together in one storage container and tape the photo to the inside of the lid.  Label the container (i.e guest bathroom, dining room).  Next year will be a breeze.


  • Rather than re-decorating small, artificial trees and wreaths, store them away with the decorations on.  Large wreath boxes are available at most stores.  Wrap your trees in plastic wrap.  You can get large rolls at any moving or storage company (U-Haul, Public Storage).  Saran-wrap will also do the trick. 
  • If you send out Christmas cards, Store your addresses in a label template on your computer.  To print, all you have to do is click on “tools”, “letters and mailings”, and “envelopes and labels”.  All of the office supply stores carry holiday labels or you can use plain white Avery labels.  Each year you will only have to update the list, print and stick your labels on your envelopes.  You will save a lot of time, and your hand won’t hurt.  

I would love to hear some of your great ideas!  Please leave a reply.  Have a restful, happy Christmas and New Year!  



Is your mail taking over the kitchen counter? Is your desk covered in to-do lists and post-it notes? Do you forget to pay a bill because you can’t find it? Most of us have a paper problem of some sort.

The reason paper takes over our lives is because we don’t have systems in place to deal with it on a daily basis. Check out these tips and take control of your paper piles once and for all.

Tip #1: Open mail over the recycle bin

This is where it enters the house…..sort your mail right away, it only takes a couple minutes. Resist the urge to pile it on the counter or stuff it in a drawer or basket. Immediately recycle anything that is junk. That includes ads, brochures, political fliers, etc. If you are not going to act on it in the next month, toss it.

Now, quickly open those envelopes and TOSS them. We don’t need the envelopes! If you pay bills on line, you can toss the return envelopes as well.

Tip #2: Go paperless

Go to your bank’s website and opt out of paper statements. They will email you your statements every month, and if you ever need to access something it is conveniently on line.

Put a stop to all the junk mail. It is estimated that we spend an average of 70 hours a year dealing with junk mail. There are many different ways to opt out of junk mail, but this article has some specifics that are very helpful. Unfortunately, I have not found a free solution that will take care of all of it, but there are companies like 41pounds.org who will take care of your junk mail for you for 5 years for $41.

Tip #3: Document electronically

If you have a calendar and to-do list on your phone or computer, use it. If your son gets a birthday party invitation, put the date and time in your calendar and input the address and phone number under “notes”. RSVP right away and then toss the invite. I recently started using my Gmail calendar and I LOVE it! It syncs to my phone so I can input anything no matter where I am. If you do not sync your calendar to your phone, find out how you can. It is an incredible organizational tool and time saver.

Until fairly recently, I used to be a paper and pen person. If you prefer this method, make sure you keep only one calendar (multiple calendars are to time consuming to cross reference – something usually gets missed or forgotten). Keep it close to where you process your mail, and use it the same way I mentioned above.

Tip #4: Create a Command Center

This is a simple filing system that you use to process the current paper that you need to hold onto; bills that need to be paid, coupons you plan to use, correspondence that you need to act on in the near future. For detailed information on how to set one up read my article on Building a Command Center.

There are countless tips on paper management, but these four tips will help you gain some control over the day-to-day influx. Once you have established these habits you will no longer accumulate piles. And then you will be able to tackle those filing cabinets, drawers, and boxes you have been avoiding.

Stay tuned for my upcoming article on “Turning Your Paper Piles into Freedom Files”.

Now go get your mail and give it a try!


Favorite Organizing Tools

Posted by: | Comments (0)

Clear View Binders and Page Protectors: Used together, they are perfect to display recipes, organize articles, and safeguard papers

  • Used as a Family Planner, you can add a calendar, phone number and address lists, emergency info., menus from your favorite restaurant, school news letters, and to-do lists. 
  • You can also create a Decorating Notebook to simplify home decorating projects. Store your paint and fabric swatches, and organize torn-out articles from decorating magazines.
  • How about a Home Appliance Manual or Home Inventory Folder for insurance purposes. 
  • As a teacher, they are invaluable for Curriculum.  

I use mine for EVERYTHING!  Don’t forget to label the spines, and for a clean, uniform look get all one color.  

Turnabouts:  Traditionally, turnabouts are used for kitchen utensils.  But, I use them  for Office Supplies, Craft Centers, and a portable Homework Caddy.  My clients LOVE them! 

  • As a Homework Caddy they will hold rulers, protractors, min-staplers, a roll of tape, colored pencils, erasers, markers ,scissors, and the list goes on.  They spin and are light weight and very durable.  I have had mine for over 16 years and 5 children – they are tough. You can even wash them in the dishwasher. Let me know if you want to purchase one, and I can get you a great deal.
  • Other uses: Scrapbook Supplies, Knitting Needles, Classroom Art Caddy, Tool Storage (hammer, screw drivers, etc.).  Leave me a comment and let me know your ideas.


Clear Storage Drawers and Pencil Boxes:  The nice thing about clear-view drawers, towers, and pencil boxes is their versatility.  Drawers can be used separately or stacked, and when you add casters they can roll wherever you need them. The pencil boxes fit perfectly in the med. sized drawer, and they are great dividers for organizing all the little things that get lost in the “junk drawer”. 

  • Use small clear-view drawers in the pantry to contain seasoning packets, powdered soft drink packets, and tea bags.  Use larger drawers for bulky bags of pasta and chips.  
  • Clear-view storage towers are perfect in any craft room.  Use them to organize your sewing, quilting, knitting, or scrap-book supplies.  If you are a stamper; use the large drawers to hold paper, and the small drawers for stamps and ink. 
  • I use them in the garage for grocery bags, umbrellas, vacuum bags and attachments, my husband’s work-bench supplies, and more.
  • They are perfect for storing children’s small toys.  I have a large one under my son’s bed for all of his Lego’s, small ones on the toy shelf for actions figures, and more on his desk for crayons and markers. 

Label Maker:  Next to my husband and children, my label maker just might be my “favorite” thing!  I have had my (Brother P-touch Label-er) for over 10 years, and it is still going strong.  It is my #1 organizing tool.  I use it to label everything in my home, my office, and my client’s homes.  

  • Label your notebook spines, storage containers, luggage tags, kid’s school supplies, your pantry shelves and containers, and all the misc. electronic cords (chargers, cam-corder, etc.). It will help you to designate specific homes for your items, and your family members will know where to find things, and more importantly, where to put them away!

There are so many wonderful organizing tools, and these are just a few, but before you run out and purchase them, make sure you have an organizing action plan in place.  You need to get rid of the clutter first, and then give your important belongings a home.

Everyone needs a “Command Center”!  A holding station for all the important papers that come in and out of our life on a daily basis.

What do you do with your mail when it comes into the house?  Do you pile it on the kitchen counter or stuff it in a cupboard?  How about that permission slip that needs to be signed, or the birthday invitation?  We all have LOTS of paper.  It is one of the most frustrating and time consuming tasks we deal with.  If we ignore it for too long it consumes us, and we end up feeling stuck in a hole we can’t dig out of.

“So, what does a “Command Center” look like and how can I create one?”, you ask.  They are very simple to put together, and mine looks like this.

  • To create one for yourself you will need:  One desk top file box (small or large), 10 to 20 hanging file folders with tabs (depending on the size of your file box), and a tickler file.
  • After you purchase your supplies, take a look at the most recent pile on your desk or counter-top.  This will give you an idea of the most common paper you deal with.
  • Make a list.  Your list might include bills, coupons, upcoming events, items for each family member, things you want to read, projects that need to be done, committee information, etc.  The items on your list will become the headings on your file tabs.  If you forget something you can always add one later.

Now when the bills come in, you take them out of the envelopes (recycle all unnecessary paper) and put them in the “bills to be paid” file.  When it is time to pay them, the statements will be at your fingertips.  No more looking through stacks of paper.

Say you have signed your kids up for summer camp, and you have their confirmation letter and emergency medical paperwork to fill out.  You don’t want to lose those important papers, so you put them in the “upcoming events” file.

Are you the head of a committee or the PTA president?  Make a file for “PTA” or title one for your prospective committee to house current paperwork for that group.  

It is good for each member of the family to have a file, so they have a place to put papers that they want you to look at or that you need them to look at.  

Lastly, a “tickler file” can be an awesome tool for those of us with packed schedules.  We can not hold all the info. in our mind, we need a monthly/daily system that will tickle our brain on any given day and remind of us of what we need to take care of.  Here is one example:  It is June, and you get a wedding invitation for July 22nd.  Where do you put it?  Not the refrigerator!  Put it in the corresponding month in your tickler file.  When July is approaching, you take the items from the July file and put them in the daily slots.  Maybe you want to buy the gift on the 5th, put the invite with the registry info. in the 5th slot.  After you buy the gift put the invite in the 22nd slot, so you have the directions to the wedding ready to go.   

So, you get the picture….a place for every piece of paper and every piece of paper in its place.  No more piles and no more wasted hours looking for missing items.  I have set up many Command Centers for my clients, and they have greatly simplified their lives.  If you would like to set up your own “Command Center ” and still have questions, please email or call me and I will help you!!  Go to my contact button at the top of the page and send me a note.