Category Archives: Organizing your B.I.T.S

6 Solutions For Controlling Cord Clutter

Does visual clutter bother you? It makes me feel unsettled. One of the most universal offenders these days are cords and cables. Even in this age of wireless we can’t seem to do away with the cords! Thankfully, it’s one of the easiest problems to resolve.

6 Cord Clutter Solutions

As with most organizing challenges, there is an overabundance of solutions to choose from. I’ve tried many cord organizing products. I’m not a fan of spiral, zipper or wire loom (corrugated tube) organizers as the cords tend to fall out too easily, in my experience. Though they do work well if the wires are running to and from the same location. Traditional plastic cable ties are a solid solution but don’t allow for easy reuse. I also prefer to stay away from “cable organization systems”. The components are too cookie cutter and not as cost effective for the average home.

So, here’s a list of 6 of my tried & true favorite products or types of solutions to corral cord clutter. I am a fan of products that are low-fuss, function well, are inexpensive and often have varied uses throughout the home.

Velcro One Wrap

I have several rolls of these in my house (office, garage, laundry room). I always carried them in my work bag when I was organizing in clients homes. You can buy a 50-pack roll in black or gray for under $6 at most home improvement stores. Velcro also has color-coded or write-on label One-Wrap ties, though they are much less economical at around $7 for only 5 ties. Attach a One-Wrap tie to your cord by wrapping it through the pre-punched hole onto itself. Plus, it’s reusable. At 8 inches in length, they work for many applications but you can attach multiple ties together if you need a longer tie. Or your can easily cut them with a standard pair of scissors if they’re too long. I’ve used them to bundle and corral computer cords under/behind desks, store charging cables, outdoor gear, holiday decor, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Command Cord Clips

I’m pretty much a raving fan of all things Command and these cord clips are no exception. They are clear and come in small, medium and large as well as round and flat profiles. These are great for running cords along walls, trim and under desks or other furniture. Follow the instructions closely for the best results and observe which surfaces Command products will adhere to.

Nail-in Cable Clips

These are typically shaped to fit coaxial cable. You can pick up a pack of 20 for less than $4 at your local home improvement store. They work well to run cable along moldings if you don’t have the resources to run cable in the wall or are renting. http://www.homedepot.com/p/GE-Nail-In-Video-Cable-Clips-20-Pack-73502/202698897

Cord Channels/Covers

Cord channels and covers come in lots of shapes and sizes. You can buy basic cord channel or a kit with elbows and couplings to join long runs together or run them around obstacles. They are typically paint-able and attach using adhesive tape. The only downside is wall damage if/when you remove them.

Cord Basket

You can buy a basket specifically intended for this purpose, like the Ikea Signum Cable Management or create your own like this pin from Martha Stewart.

Keyholes

Many electrical devices such as power strips, modems, routers, etc. have a built-in keyhole. This allows you to drive a screw into the side of a desk or a wall to mount the device on. Here’s a tip for perfect power strip mounting from Wood Magazine.

So that’s my short & sweet list of cable management tools. Honestly, I mostly just stick with Velcro One-Wrap to keep things low fuss. Command hooks seem to be at the top of my list these days, too. Do you have any solutions to share with Homeology readers? Any questions on how to get your cord clutter under control? Let me know in the comments!

Make Any Organizing Project A Win With This Sorting Step

Last week I shared an alternative sorting approach to the popular “keep, toss, donate” method made popular by organizing television shows. Today I’m sharing an additional tip for sorting. You might think it’s not necessary to be so methodical about organizing. I’m not one of your more “type A” people so I tend to be more relaxed about the process myself, but I have seen the light! I have experienced first-hand, time and time again, just how beneficial these steps can be. Incorporating this sorting step will most likely help you, too!
OrganizingProjectWinSortingStepBFP
I have found that for most people the “Empty & Sort” and “Shed” steps are the most time consuming steps during an organizing project. If you take the extra effort to streamline or focus your efforts it will payoff in dividends! Along with switching from the “keep, toss, donate” method I mentioned here*, the following are two steps you can use to make your organizing project a win.

During the “Empty & Sort” step {the first E of the BE SIMPLE approach}, create two additional sorting bins for every project- an Inbox and an Outbox. Inevitably, there are items living in the space that don’t belong there, as well as stuff scattered around your home that should live in the space.

The Inbox
In order to prevent from having to re-organize the space in the future, gathering “like” items in the Inbox in advance is quite beneficial. Depending on the scale of the project, you may want to designate a collection area for items even months in advance of your project. It could be gathering photos for a project you plan to do in a month, or gathering office or craft supplies for a project next week, or even gathering storage items for an attic or garage project you plan to do when the weather cools down.

The Outbox
The Outbox provides a holding place for all the items that belong elsewhere and provides a physical prompt/reminder not to leave the space right now to put it away. This will help you stay focused on your project and get more done. As I shared previously*, sorting boxes also allow you to corral the project if you run out of time.

I hope that this sorting tip is useful and helps keep you on track! What do you think? Do you think it’s something you could try with your next project? Definitely check back here and let me know how it goes!

Ciao for now!

Sig1

 

 

Peek Inside a Professional Organizer’s Purse

On Friday, I shared 3 Steps to An Organized Purse and today I thought I’d share a peek into what a professional organizer {me!} carries in her purse. Plus, you get to see a little before photo of said professional organizers purse.

Peek Inside a POs Purse

As you can see, things can quickly get messy so it’s very important to make a home for what you’d like to carry in your purse. And if it doesn’t work for you, try something different.

Purse-BeforeBFP

Here’s what I carry in my purse that IS working for me:

  • Business Card case
  • Mini First Aid Kit
  • Gift Card Case- I use a Levenger coin purse that I got years ago.
  • Personal Pharmacy Bag {yes, that’s a Target Beauty Bag}
  • Key clip- I feel naked without my Coleman Caribiner in Teal, of course!
  • Wallet- I just recently switched to this clutch wallet from Target. I needed something desperately because my old wallet was, um, old…and stained. And I can perfectionate with the best of them so when I saw this I pulled the trigger. It’s not fancy and definitely not designer but I don’t care- it does the job well. And, it’s currently on clearance for under $10 bucks. If you like to travel without your purse, a wristlet wallet will function well {especially if you leave your wallet behind when you don’t have your purse, not that I’ve ever done that.}
  • Headphones- I saw this Lifehacker post four years ago and have been using a vinyl name badge clip to corral my headphone cord ever since! Other solutions I tried took too long to wind up the cord and/or you had to place it just right…so my headphones ended up in a jumble in my purse instead.
  • Loyalty Cards- I ditched the loyalty cards long ago by using my phone number as a look-up method instead. Of course, there are now quite a few loyalty card organizers on the market but a business card folio is a pretty functional solution for storing these as well.

Purse-DuringBFP

Here is what isn’t working:

  • Coupon Holder- I don’t really “coupon” for sport but I do use store coupons for places like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target, Harris Teeter, etc. I used to keep coupons in my wallet but I would forget about them all the time and would always toss new ones directly into my purse where they would end up a crumpled mess or not…leaving them on my office shelf. So, I’m going to try this clear mini pocket folder from Staples.
  • Receipt Holder- The check and coupon accordion files are great in theory, but I personally find them to be too complex. Too complex, you ask? Well, you’re often on a line trying to be expeditious with your purchase and having to unwind that little string closure and then search for something in a file takes too much time. The longer it takes, the less likely you are to put things away properly. So I fished out an old briefcase folder from Levenger, which it looks like they no longer sell. It’s basically an 8.5″ wide x 5″ high durable divided poly pocket. If I didn’t have that I would try something like this Lion Design Poly Envelope. It has one open pocket and one secured with a velcro closure.
  • Sun/glasses Case- Since I’ve been throwing my sunglasses in my purse, I’ve decided it is time to spring for a case. Though, with a two year old at my side, my sunglasses budget does not exceed 15 bucks!

I’ve also put together a few additional recommendations to help you find the best bags, cases and containers for organizing what lives in your purse:

  1. Look for coin purses, makeup bags or zippered pouches at places like Target, Walmart, The Container Store, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, etc. Something like this Orla Kiely 3-piece set for under $17 from Target could work well. It’s cute, coordinating and comes in three different sizes. These small micro mesh zippered pouches from The Container Store also work well. I have a few that I’ve had for years, though they no longer come in as many sizes and colors :( They are extremely durable and the mesh allows you to see the contents. I use the large one with gussets for containing liquids when I fly. You can add color-coded ribbon to the pull to identify the pouches or bags.
  2. Check out office supply stores for folders, folios and poly pockets that are great for storing receipts and non-traditional coupon storage.
  3. I don’t carry a paper planner but if I did it would be some version of the Levenger Circa smartPlanner. The same goes for any type of notebook- make it Circa! On occasion, I do carry my combination disc bound notebook in my purse. {Hey, as a professional organizer, I have to test out all of the products, right?}
  4. Get a colorful case for your phone. Nothing is more challenging than trying to find a dark-colored phone inside a dark-lined purse.

I’d love to hear if you have any great products or solutions that work for you. Please share in the comments so we can all benefit from your fantastic find!

2014 Spaces to Organize

I haven’t been able to put together a comprehensive plan for the organizing projects I’d like to work on this year. So I thought I’d get started right now with a list of the most pressing, nagging, annoying projects I’d like to tackle and share it with you here.

Office

OfficeOur office is the first room you see when you walk in our house and there are no doors to close it off. It’s listed as a dining room on the floor plan and it’s right off the kitchen and main living area of our home. I both love and hate that about it. I don’t get a lot of time to sit in my office so it’s convenient to access but that also means that things get dumped here. When we moved in, I immediately installed my Elfa shelving, unpacked the boxes and created a raised desk surface that is counter-height (and did little else). It’s helped to keep the little man out of our stuff but now he’s able to climb onto my chair and access everything…and does…daily. *sigh*. I did not invest a ton of time in creating systems because 1) I didn’t have the time or the energy 2) I like to live in and use a space before I try to optimize it’s functionality. Additionally, I haven’t quite figured out how to incorporate a craft space into our home. I like to do crafts with my son but also want a space for my own projects and supplies.

Kitchen

Kitchen Breakfast CabinetDue to my profession and the fact that I tend to let go of things easily, the kitchen is pretty well organized. There are some areas I haven’t touched since we moved in so they’re in need of attention. We have been here a year now and don’t have any plans to move anytime soon, so I think it’s ok to start settling in. Plus, with a toddler in the house, there are things we can phase out (baby dishes and cups, etc.) and others we need to make room for. Finally, I thought I would use our breakfast cabinet as an example to post here, so I’ve been neglecting it for a while.

Storage Closet

Storage ClosetWe have an oddly placed storage closet in the main living area between the dining area and living room. The previous owners used it as a pantry but we have all of our pantry items in the actual kitchen. It has ended up becoming a catch-all and it’s pretty cluttered and non-functional right now. Plus, as Max grows and gets into more things it’s become a place to quickly stash items I don’t want him to have access to, where the old “home” no longer works.

 

 

 

Play Area/Toy Storage

Play AreaPlay Area Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

We are lucky enough to have a pretty large living area where we were able to incorporate a bit of toy storage. In our previous rental home, I tried using the sunroom off of our main living area as a play space for the little man but I learned that we all prefer having his play space in the main living area of the house. It has worked out pretty well so far except with his birthday and Christmas occurring within three months of each other and the fact that he is changing so quickly, we are in need of a purge.

Max’s Bedroom (Books & Stuffed Animals)

Max's BR- Books & Stuffed AnimalsLions and tigers and bears, oh, my! Where in the world did all of these books and animals {there are more in the living room play area} come from? I will remind family that he doesn’t need anymore stuffies, he’s got plenty to love. And, I’ve put in a request for only classic books. It’s time to let go of the lower quality items and the ones he’s outgrown and make sure to assign a home for the ones that stay…and that may require a build. But it will be simple…I hope!

Garage Workshop

Garage WorkshopLast year, I made over a corner of our garage into a workout space for my husband. I’m thrilled that he has a space that functions specifically for something he loves doing. However, I want in on it! OK, I have already taken over the rest of the space, but it just needs to be *much* more functional. Yes, that’s my brand-new sliding compound miter saw sitting on the floor. Let’s just say I underestimated the footprint required for it to operate. It fits on the bench but requires more clearance for the saw to slide, so I’m planning to incorporate a miter saw cart into the workbench design. I have a vision for the space but have budget and time constraints {plus, a bajillion other projects I’d like to accomplish} so it’s one step at a time.

My Wardrobe/Closet/Dresser

MBR ClosetConfession of this Professional Organizer: this is my Achilles Heel. I’m lucky enough right now to have enough space to store and organize my clothing. But my problem is letting go…yes, even professional organizers struggle with this. I’ve found that even the super-organized have at least one area that they hold on to too much. I have heels but no place to wear them {and history including several serious ankle sprains that make it painful anyway}, suits and work clothes that may or may not fit but I don’t need them for my current job of Mom CEO. Speaking of the mom job, my body seems to have settled in to it’s new normal- thank goodness! I have been so frustrated trying to keep up to my fluctuating wardrobe needs since I became pregnant with my son three years ago. Finally, things have been tight for several years after I gave up my corporate consulting gigs so I’ve been reluctant to let go of anything because I can’t afford to replace it. Well, just because I can’t afford to replace it doesn’t mean that I wear it, does it? I AM READY. I want to let go of the old so I can make room for the new, or even just make room for the things I do wear and love.

Phew, when I started writing this list I thought it was going to have two or three things on it but I had to stop myself at six! Now that we’ve been in our house a year, I’ve deemed it time to make it H-O-M-E. This is the first time in a looooong time I’ve been ready to do so. During the last several years, we’ve moved quite frequently, sometimes several states away and sometimes down the block to homes with garages and yards up to 2200 square feet to postage stamp patios or balconies as small as 1100 square feet and no storage…oh, and we had a baby. So our focus has really been on surviving and making it day to day or week to week. Now that we’ve settled in, figured out how we use the space and have ideas for how we’d like to improve it. Is there a space (or more than one) in your home that you are desperate to make more functional? Which room is it and what is/isn’t working for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!