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Archive for Family Organization


Put the “FUN” in Functional

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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.


Cargo net in a clean, organized carIf you’re like the majority of car owners with kids or pets, you know that keeping your car tidy can be a challenge.  Let’s face it, sometimes it feels like we live in our cars; long vacation road trips, annoying commutes, taxiing kids everywhere under the sun, countless errands, and the list goes on.

Just like in the house, the junk can pile up.  We need help to get it under control.  Here are a few simple solutions I have adapted over the years to try (believe me – the occupants make it a challenge) and keep the inside of my car in the best shape possible.

Stock up on the right cleaning tools.

Here is my checklist to keep the clutter and grime to a minimum:    Kleenex and paper towels

  •     Windex wipes (for the windows)
  •     Antibacterial wipes (for all the dirty surfaces)
  •     Facial wipes (for the grubby little hands that create the dirty surfaces)
  •     A Swiffer duster
  •     Plastic grocery store bags

Keep a reign on the garbage and clutter.

Just like in your home, your car can quickly spiral out of control without systems in place. So here is what you do:

  • Always have a plastic grocery bag hanging in your car for garbage.  If you don’t have a built in hook, use a 3M hook (you can get them in a variety of sizes at all house-ware stores – they are amazing).
  • Teach everyone to use them!  Garbage goes in the b-a-g!!! Not on the floor, not under the seat, and not in the cup holders.

Put things in containers.

When items have a home, they’re easy to find and more likely to be returned when someone is finished with them.  This holds true for the car as well.  Here is what to keep – where:

  • Glove box:  Car manual, registration and proof of insurance, tire pressure gauge, a zipper pouch with (pens, scissor, tape, and a small notebook), hand sanitizer, Swiffer duster, and mini wipes (face, surface, and window).
  • Console: Box of Kleenex, phone charger, extra pair of sunglasses, a place for loose change, cough drops, antacid, gum, and pain reliever (in a child proof bottle).
  • Cargo Net and/or Totes: Jumper cables, flares, first-aid kit, sun screen, water, snacks, flashlight, blanket, recyclable grocery bags.  Fun stuff; beach toys, 2 big beach towels, sporting equip., little tote with a few small toys/books/colored pencils (no crayons – you only make that mistake once).

Put your handy-dandy tools to use.

  • Long stop light?  Get out the Swiffer and dust the dash.
  • Filling up the gas tank?  Grab the garbage bag, do a quick sweep through the car and dump the bag in the trash at the gas station. Don’t forget to replace the bag immediately.
  • Kids complaining about a long, boring car ride?  Give them each a wipe (window or interior) and have them start sparkling up their area.  Reward them with an ice cream (in the restaurant, and make sure they wash up before getting back in the car). J
  • Car smell – “not so fresh”?  Buy some sachets (I get mine at Fred Meyer in lots of great scents) and put them under the seat.  I get so many compliments about how good my car smells.

Want three more bonus tips for summer car trips?  Click Here!

What are you waiting for???  Take action now and go get your car organized.  As always, if you have ANY questions, email me at daniele@otttogetorganized.com  I am always happy to help.

Have a FUN and restful summer!!


Tip #1:  Before you go to the beach or some other outing, cover the back seats with some big beach towels.  When you get home, shake out the towels and your seats will be as good as new.

Tip #2: Use recyclable grocery bags or beach totes for wet swim suits, sandy beach stuff, collecting shells, and of course grocery shopping.  Keep a couple in the car at all times.

Tip #3:  To protect the interior of my car when I flip my seats down, I use front door mats that I picked up at Lowes.  They’re the rubber kind that won’t slide around and they come in tons of cute colors and patterns.  They are easy to store when not in use and easy to shake off.  Love them!!

Enjoy your organized car trips and have a happy Summer!!

Have you ever said something less than kind to a family member or co-worker and felt ”guilty”? – that’s emotional clutter.  Maybe you have been hurt by someone and you have been holding on to “resentment” – emotional clutter.  Maybe a friend just gave you the most hideous gift ever, but you keep it because you don’t want to hurt her feelings and it would be “embarrassing” to tell her the truth – emotional and physical clutter.  You know what I’m talking about.  We all have something.

I’ve had my share of emotional clutter and there have been years at a time that I have let it bog me down and keep me from enjoying my life to the fullest.  I don’t like feeling that way and I am guessing you don’t either.  I have learned a few things on my clutter releasing journey and I hope some of my experiences will inspire you to let go of the things and thoughts that are holding you back in your life.

Lesson #1:  Emotional and physical clutter go hand-in-hand. We hold on to some interesting things.  This summer I went through a big box of high school memorabilia. Of course everything in the box was neatly organized and the box was even labeled, “Daniele’s Memorabilia”, so why not keep it forever?  It wasn’t taking up much space and after all they are my precious memories - right??  Well, a few are and a lot went bye-bye.

Read these statements and tell me if they sound familiar.

It’s been in my family for years!” “I might want to look at it for old times’ sake.”

“I am saving it for my children/grandchildren.”

“It was a gift.”

“It may be worth something some day.”

“But they aren’t making it anymore.”

“My high school boyfriend gave me that.”

Whatever item is in question, if it isn’t being honored or enjoyed, then it is cluttering up your home and your head!  Look around you. Do you love everything you see, or does some of it just stress you out? If someone took it, would you even notice it was gone?

Lesson #2:  Everything is a choice – choose to let go! As I went through my box I kept asking myself, ”Why am I keeping this?” My kids won’t care about this stuff when I am gone, in fact some of it might even be embarrassing.  Now, a few years ago, I wasn’t ready to let go of those things.  I wanted to remember (hold on to) my youth.  But, I finally realized that the person I was then, is not the person I am now, and I am glad.  Don’t get me wrong – I had fun as a teenager and I wasn’t an awful person, but I was a kid, making kid decisions.  A lot of the memories made me smile, but some of them were painful and it was time to let them go.  So, I tossed the dried up roses, some photos (yes photos – you can throw them away), and lots of notes and cards that meant nothing to me anymore.  Bottom line:  If it is taking up space and isn’t enhancing your life, it is CLUTTER – let it go!

Lesson #3:  Make room for the good stuff. Getting rid of any kind of clutter takes work, but emotional clutter takes some serious commitment.  I believe that we let go in layers.  Organizing your life is a ongoing process.  It is not all done at once, and then magically stays that way. You need to learn to sort out the useful from the burdensome, and motivate yourself to maintain the simplicity you are creating.

Practice letting go and get used to that lighter feeling.  Once you feel it, and realize how nice it is to make room in your life for what really matters, you will be hooked.  Memories can be wonderful, but the item you are attached to is not the person or event. I know that sounds obvious, but it doesn’t always feel that way.

Lesson #4:  Be patient with yourself and keep moving forward. My grandma died a few years ago, and I have a few items of hers that I treasure.  I love them because they were hers, but they are also useful in my home.  The year before she died I was going over to her apartment often to help her organize.  During the process I noticed she needed a tool box, so I bought her one and on the top I wrote, “Granny’s Tool Box”.  She really loved the gesture and that made me happy. After she died I brought the box home and I tried to use it on several occasions, but it just didn’t hold my things very well.  It was a little too big for what I needed, and of course it said, “Granny’s Tool Box” which I thought my clients might find a bit odd.

Well, it sat in my garage for a good two years and every time I looked at it I thought, “I really need to give that away”, but for some reason I wouldn’t let myself.  I felt guilty and sad (emotional clutter).  Then one day I had an older client (a grandma) who really needed a tool box, so I gave it to her.  It was that easy.  Someone had a need and it was no longer useful to me…I could finally let go.

Some of you may be thinking…come on it’s just a tool box!  Move on!  I get that, but having to go through it myself helps me understand why my clients have a hard time letting go of the box of drift wood from the beach, their grandma’s old sewing machine, the clothes of a loved one that has passed away……

I challenge you to open that box and see what you can let go of today.  Start small and then move on to the deeper attachments.  Give yourself permission to release your own emotional clutter. It is truly life changing!!


Favorite Organizing Tools

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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.