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Archive for Personal 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….




Okay…..I can hear you now…..


”She’s crazy – Doesn’t she know that I’m a wife, a mom, I have a job, I have to keep everyone’s calendars straight, do homework with the kids, carpool, go shopping, cook dinner, go to PTA meetings, and watch my kid’s games!!” Just to name a few.

I hear you and I totally empathize.  But, here is what research is telling us.  Multitasking not only decreases our production, it makes it harder for us to finish tasks completely.  And because of our lack of focus and sloppy performance, our end products aren’t coming out as well as we’d like them to.   

People and projects need our undivided attention.  If I’m watching T.V., checking email and doing homework with my son, do you think I am really paying attention to the questions he is asking me?  Of course not!  Our minds are not wired to focus intently on multiple, important things at once. 

It’s become an epidemic…..the most famous “bad” example of course, is texting and driving….and we all know how tragic that has become.  What drives us to try and do so much at once?  We spin our wheels and still feel like our to-do lists are endless.  Here’s how to get off the roller coaster:

Learn to live in the moment.  Really listen when someone is talking to you.  How many times have you been distracted and had to have someone repeat themselves to you?  All that time adds up.  If you are doing something fun, enjoy that special time, don’t work on other things.  Being in the moment helps you create and solidify your memories.    

Concentrate upon the task at hand.  Set a timer if you have to – it really helps.  If you give your full attention to one task for 15 minutes, you will be amazed at your progress.  Don’t answer the phone or check a text.  Just focus!!

Dovetail rather than multitask.  An example of dovetailing is when you keep a project in your purse to work on while you are in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.  Another example would be opening the mail or sorting through photos while watching T.V., or calling a friend while you’re waiting in the parking lot for practice to get over.  Use those countless chunks of wasted time to your advantage and see how they add up.  Keep a project bag in the back of your car for all of these occasions.    

Remember what multitasking is NOT!  Cleaning the kitchen while you are cooking a meal is just good planning, not multitasking.  Having a load of laundry going while you are cleaning the house is just smart time management.  Reading a book when you’re in the tub is just…..awesome relaxation. 


Teach yourself time-saving tricks.  If you have projects that you do often or annually, getting into routines will save you a lot of hassle.  For example emptying all the garbage cans on the day before the garbage truck comes and putting extra liners at the bottom of all the waste baskets so you never have to search for one. 


Here are two of my favorite time saving Christmas tricks:


Take pictures of your decorations each year.  If you loved the way your fireplace mantle turned out, snap a photo and when you put your decorations away, put all of those decorations in one box.  Label the box “fireplace” and tape a photo of it on either the outside of the box or the inside lid.  Next year the decorations with go up in half the time.  No thinking necessary.   


Rather than hand addressing all of your Christmas cards, put your addresses into your computer. Now click on Tools, then Letters and Mailings, then Envelopes and Labels. Next, type in all of your addresses and every year all you have to do is a quick update, put in your label sheets and hit print.  It saves a TON of time and they always look great. 

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.



Get Organized in 15 Minutes or Less

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Containers are a great way to keep things organized and are easy on the eyes!

When you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, it’s time to get back to basics. Here are some simple things you can do to “fan the organizing flame” and start a “blaze” of progress towards a simple, clutter-free home.
  • Toss old magazines and catalogs. If you think you’re going to miss something then use the “tear and toss” method. Rip out the article and put it in a “to Read” file and toss the rest (it’s 75% advertisements anyway).
  • Gather up all the pens and markers and test them to see which ones are still good. Toss all the dried up pens and markers and organize the rest into pencil boxes. Store them in convenient locations throughout the house.
  • Clear the empty hangers out of your closets (especially the old wire ones).
  • Clean out all the real “junk” in the junk drawer (garbage, old keys, dried up pens). When you have another 15 minutes, organize what is left into small drawer trays.
  • Get a box or bin and fill it with all those borrowed items you need to return.
  • Start a donation box – go from room to room finding items you no longer need. You will be amazed at how quickly you will fill it.
  • Get rid of old makeup or makeup you never wear.
  • Toss torn underwear and socks.
  • Throw out the expired food from the fridge.
  • Toss expired medicines.
  • Hang up all coats that are lying around and put away all the shoes in their proper places.
  • Gather the stray toys and put them in a bin or basket to have the kids put away.
  • Put all the books on the book shelf.
  • Purge some papers from your filing cabinet, or file a stack of papers.
  • Sort through the mail.
  • Put away the clean laundry.
  • Repair a broken item, or sew on a missing button.
  • Prepare a menu and grocery list for the week.
  • Respond to a couple of emails or return a phone call.
  • Make lunches for the next day.
  • Clean out one drawer or cupboard in the kitchen.
  • Put all the movies and Cd’s back in their cases.
  • Create a couple of outfits for the week.
  • Delete 50 emails from your in-box or one of your email files
  • Sort through a stack of old photos and toss all the blurry or unflattering ones.
Take some before and after shots of your latest organizing projects and send them to me to be featured in my next “Ott GO Tip” Newsletter and Blog Post.

Today is National Pack Rat Day!

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Not sure if you’re a pack rat?  Ask  yourself these questions….

Do I “own my stuff” or does “my stuff own me”?

Are my collections so large that they are taking over my shelves, window sills and counters?

Am I paying hundreds of dollars a year for a storage unit because my basement is already stuffed?

Are my magazine racks holding magazines over a decade old?

You get the picture…..

It is time to show your “stuff” who’s boss and send your inner pack rat packin’…….

Take some action today and ask yourself, “why” do I keep holding on?

  • Is it sentimental? If you do not have room to honor it or use it, give it to another family member who will treasure it.
  • Is there perceived value? It is worth nothing if you are not using or enjoying it, so get some money out of it.  Take it to a consignment shop, sell it on eBay, or have a yard sale.
  • Will I feel guilty if I get rid of it? If the person who gave it to you loves you they would not want you to feel burdened with something that you do not like or have no use for.  Find someone who needs it, and donate it. Give that amazing bird candle to a bird lover, or that awesome talking fish to your favorite outdoors-man.
  • Am I really going to take up that hobby again? If you used to knit, but realize that you no longer have time for it anymore, go ahead and donate your supplies.  Give it to the ladies at the retirement home, or donate it to the knitting club at the high school.
  • Will I need it “someday”? Probably not!  But, go ahead and designate one big tote as the “might need it later box”.  Write the date you are placing the item in the box on a post-it note and stick it on the item.  Every six months to a year go through the box, if you have not used the item, it is time to say good-bye.
  • Am I afraid to let go of information? Use the tear and toss method with all those magazines.  Make a commitment to go through three magazines a day.  Quickly flip through for anything that you think might be interesting to read or keep for reference. Tear out the item, staple it, place it in a page protector, and put it in a 3 ring binder labeled “To Read”.  Recycle the magazine,  70% of it are advertisements that are taking up space in your house.
  • Do I need to repair it? Fix it, or toss it.  Get out the super glue and put it back together, sew that button on, or take it to someone who can do it for you.  Just do it.

So, what can I keep?  Ask yourself these questions….

  • Do I love it?
  • Does it make me feel good?
  • Do I use it frequently?
  • Do I have room for it?

If you answered yes to all of these questions then go ahead and keep it!

Send this article to a pack rat that you love.

It is said that, “Procrastination is the thief of time”. We all procrastinate to some degree – you know…those undesirable tasks like cleaning the bathroom or going through the piles of paper on your desk.  They are not fun, but they must be done!

The trick to good time management is to work smarter, not harder.  The following five strategies are the same ones I teach my students for getting a handle on homework and studying for tests.  They really work!  Try them out.

1.    Chunk It. Rather than spending three hours cleaning out the garage, plan to work one hour a day for three days.  This is a very good strategy for those chores or big projects that feel daunting or unpleasant.  Spending 60 minutes at a time, rather than saving it for a last minute marathon session will save you a lot of stress, and you will most likely do a better job on the task.

2.    Plan It. We all have fun things we would rather be doing – the key is balance between work and play.  Is this you?  You don’t work effectively because you have so much on your mind, or you feel guilty when you are not working because there is so much to get done.  A good time plan is a very effective way to handle procrastination.  Actually block out time on your calendar for your project, and stick to it.

3.   Reduce It. Some call this the “making a molehill out of a mountain” method.  If you have a habit of procrastinating try this.  The next time you’re tempted to put off doing something you know you should, ask yourself, “what is the NEXT action I need to take?”  Overwhelm is one of the main reasons we procrastinate, so the key is to reduce the size of the task – over and over and over — until you get it done!

4.    Discipline Yourself. Did you know that procrastination and perfectionism often go hand-in-hand?  Some of us feel that if we can’t do a project “just right” we can’t do it all, or we put if off and off and off.  We leave ourselves an “emotional out”.  We didn’t have time to do it well, so it isn’t a true reflection of our abilities and we don’t lose any self-esteem over it.  It is important to try and figure out why you procrastinate and deal with the root issue, so you can learn to self-discipline and overcome your block.

5.    Ask for Help. There are many people who can help you with time management and organization.

  • Find someone you trust and is a good fit with your personality.  Ask them lots of questions and what kinds of methods they use.
  • Look at the costs and benefits of procrastination.  Would it actually save you time and money to have someone help you?  Just this week I spent four hours with one of my clients going through paperwork.  We found $79 in cash and change and four checks for $80 each.  She made money having me help her. 
  • Don’t beat yourself up.  We all struggle with different areas in our lives.  Get the support you need.  Remember BALANCE is the key!  Take breaks when needed so when it comes time to focus you feel refreshed and capable.