Author Archive for Hazel Thornton

The Container Store: Mixed feelings + 7 shopping tips

Container StoreAt long last, a miracle has occurred! A Container Store has opened for business here in New Mexico. Cue the Hallelujah Chorus! Fire the canons! Pop the champagne corks! Release the confetti, doves, and balloons!

Albuquerque, prepare to feast your eyes — and open your wallets!

It was a huge step down for me, in terms of access to organizing supplies, when I moved from California to New Mexico in 2005. I traded the two-story Pasadena Container Store — with its valet parking, freight elevator, and abundance of storage options, accessories, and gadgets — for the 99 cent clear plastic shoe boxes at Big Lots, plus a black Sharpie and some masking tape. (OK, an exaggeration, but only a mild one.)

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Mom’s Boxes Part 1: The shed

See that wall of boxes in the back?

When my mom died, in 2001, she left us 33 boxes of scrapbooks. Not 33 scrapbooks; 33 moving boxes full of them.

By scrapbooks I mean albums, binders, and notebooks full of memorabilia — photos, cards, letters, memoirs, and souvenirs. And who knows what else? These are in addition to the scrapbooks and photo albums she created for each of her four kids specifically, which we already have in our possession.

As her executor, guess what I did with them?

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How to organize your family tree at any budget

The genealogy research money tree.

Genealogy research can be an expensive hobby if you factor in computer programs, tools, memberships, documentation fees, research trips, books, seminars, and conferences! (Hmmm, wonder how much I’ve spent over the years? Not to mention the time invested…)

But it doesn’t have to cost a penny.

I want to help everyone who’s interested in discovering, organizing, preserving, and sharing their family histories regardless of where they live, or how much money they have. But there’s only one of me, and I need to make a living too (so I can’t work for free). In this post, I’ve listed some options for researching and organizing your documents, memorabilia, and photos, in order of affordability.

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An Org4life-approved use of a storage unit

If I’m in a storage unit, it’s usually to downsize it, or to help a client move out and un-rent it. Often as not, they don’t even remember what all they’ve been paying to store. There are a few situations, though, where a storage unit is the perfect solution. This time I not only recommended it, but I helped rent it and pack it up!

 

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Organized for Life….and beyond?!

www.org4life.comEverything has a life cycle. People. Things. Businesses.

My business has been changing, and I’ve been updating my website accordingly. It’s a work in progress, as are we all, but I invite you to take a look and let me know what you think. Is it more clear what I have to offer these days and how it all fits together? Perhaps you’ve changed too, and my current offerings will appeal to you in a different way than they did before? Let me tell you more…

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Networking for Introverts

Iintrovertsf you are an introvert who hates business networking, this blog post is for you!

I recently attended my annual National Association of Professional Organizers conference, NAPO2017, in Pittsburgh, PA, where I presented a session called Networking for Introverts. It was inspired by Susan Cain’s 2012 TED Talk, The Power of Introverts.

UPDATE: This 85-minute presentation, in its entirety, including downloadable handouts, is now available for free, or for purchase, depending on your NAPO status, here.

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Do you organize the right way?

organize right wayWhen faced with a pile of papers, or a closet full of clothes, do you struggle with how to organize them? Do you sometimes procrastinate because you are afraid of doing it wrong?

In this context I am using “organize” synonymously with “categorize”. The process of creating more space in your life also includes purging the things you no longer use, need, or value.

Let me give you some examples. I will suggest a few ways to organize and let you guess the right way.

Insurance Papers: File by Home, Auto, and Health? Or, by Farmers, AAA, and Blue Cross? Or, lump together under “Insurance”, as suggested in How to Create Your Own Simple Filing System?

Clothing: Hang together by function (i.e. dresses, tops, and bottoms)? By color? By style? How about by outfit, or casual versus dressy?

Photos: Sort by date? By subject? By event? The standard digital photo renaming format is Year-Month-Day-Who-What-Where, but you may not need, or want, to use that level of detail.

Professional organizers sometimes lead an exercise in which individuals or small groups organize an identical selection of items such as LEGO bricks. Some organize them by piece type, some by color, and some by size.

Have you guessed the answer yet?

Q: What is the right way to organize?

A: There is no right way! The only way that matters is the way that works for you. In all cases it depends on your goals, how much stuff and space you have, and how your brain works. That’s why in Six Organizing Systems Everyone Needs I don’t tell you how to do it. I ask a series of questions designed to help you figure out how you want to do it. That’s because you won’t keep the system up if it doesn’t make sense to you!

If there IS a wrong way, it would be the way that is so complicated that you don’t use it. The more categories you have, the harder it will become, not easier, to find what you are looking for. It depends, of course, on what it is, and how much you have of it. Sometimes you do need more categories.

The right way for you might not be the way I do it, either. How organized am I? I’m organized enough, and not one bit more. My job, as a professional organizer, is to help you create the right organizing system for YOU!

Do you worry about doing it wrong?

Have you found the right way for you? Do you need help?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Copyright 2017 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
Social media links directly to this page are encouraged!
Please contact me for other types of reprint permission.

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The Self-Cleaning Organized Car

 

organized car

How is it possible to keep the inside of your car clutter-free at all times with almost no effort? Introducing… the organized car caddy!

It’s not a special gadget with lots of pockets. And it doesn’t live full-time in your car, either.

It’s a bin, or bag, or box, or basket that you take out to the car with you every day when you leave home, and bring back in from the car with you every day when you return home.

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Hits & Misses #4: 12 more things I’ve tried so you don’t have to

hits misses

Ready for some more Hits & Misses? (12 more things I’ve tried so you don’t have to.)

If you read just one, make it the first one, OK?

 

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Don’t be an April Fool — Back up your files!

Back Up

Did you know that March 31 is World Back Up Day? I didn’t either, until now. But…really, shouldn’t every day be Back Up Day?

Don’t be an April Fool – Take the Pledge!

(Click to view video “What Would You Do if You Lost Everything?”)

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