the shrink ‘rap: issue 10

the shrink ‘rap: issue 10

In this issue:


Couch Potato Organizing

I often hear people say they do not have the time to organize. I have found that these same people, however, do find time to watch tv or lounge on the couch for at least an hour or two a week. I can’t blame them for choosing tv over organizing. One does not need to think much in order to watch tv, and organizing involves planning and the work of brain cells.

But, I am here to tell you from personal experience that it is possible to do both at once. I spent 21 weeks on strict bedrest during my first pregnancy (2004) and I am in my 7th week of strict bedrest during my second pregnancy as I write this newsletter. I have at least another 18 weeks on the couch to ponder life and pray that my body does not fuse to the fabric.

As an organizer, I need to feel like I have some control over my life during this temporary imprisonment (all for a good cause of course), so I do what I can by busying myself with little projects that help me stay organized, fend off boredom and keep me sane. So, if you are bedbound, injured, praying for some downtime or just plain lazy, here are some small projects you can do to minimize your to do list and simplify your life – while watching television! No more excuses for you. Get to work!

Organize photos into albums, photo boxes, frames or digital files. Share your pictures with others by giving them doubles or posting the pictures on a website like

Sort recipes into binders or accordian folders. Throw out any recipe you know you’re never going to make (the ones with 1 hour prep time are usually the first to go).

Scrapbook. I am not the scrapbooking type, but if you have a creative side and the patience for this time consuming hobby and talent, go for it.

Sort, purge and file piles of paper.

Shred papers with a document shredder.

Organize your computer files and folders, including your e-mail Inbox.

Read or flip through your stack of magazines and catalogues and then wish them farewell.

List unwanted items on or

Clean jewelry or polish silver.

Compile a list or notebook of places you want to visit, restaurants you want to try, movies you want to see, home improvement projects you want to complete etc. Keep all if this information in one central location, clear your mind, and throw away all those little scraps of paper!

Order stamps and groceries online.

Type up a master grocery list of items your family needs on a regular basis. Check off the items as needed so your list is ready to go before your next shopping trip.

Type up labels for your holiday cards.

Update your address book, Palm Pilot and/or e-mail address list.

Remove your name from any e-mail list or newsletter you no longer want to receive. (I hope you don’t add Cluttershrink® to that list!)

Shop online for birthday, anniversary, graduation, baby and holiday gifts.

Read books you have never read. Start with the ones that are sitting on your shelf.

Sew or mend clothes. I cannot sew to save my life, but during the last bedrest extravaganza, I practiced sewing enough buttons to be able to wear my pants without having them fall off. A huge accomplishment.

Throw away expired coupons.

Evaluate cosmetics, lotions and medications. Toss anything that is past its prime.

Replace batteries in flashlights and kids’ toys.

Match up stray socks and mittens.

Watch unlabeled VHS tapes or DVDs. Listen to old cassette tapes. I recently found a cassette tape of twisted tunes my brother and I wrote in 1992. I just can’t part with it. It kept me laughing for a good 20 minutes. Throw away anything you cannot identify. Part with duplicates as well.

File user manuals, warranties and receipts you need to keep.

Get a jumpstart on your taxes. Enter your charitable donations into a software program like

Create a family binder that includes take-out menus, school and sports schedules, and important phone numbers and contact information. To purchase a fully equipped binder, go to

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Water Cooler Rap

Simple Tips for Daily Living

Pantry Organizing

Do you find food particles on the floor or shelves of your pantry because food spills when you’re pushing things to the side to find a particular item? Do you waste money on expired products that you didn’t even know you had because they were buried under or behind other products? To give your pantry new life:

Empty the contents and throw away anything you will not use or that has expired. If you come across an open item, like a bag of flour, that has been exposed to air and may have become a home for pests, toss it out.

Sort food into categories. Pretend your pantry is a mini-grocery store. Your goal is to stock all canned goods together; put cereals on the same shelf; store snack foods together etc.

Determine what products are used on a daily basis. Store these things at eye level, front and center. You want easy access.

Create more space by using organizing products that utilize vertical space and offer access to the back of the pantry. Shelf dividers, drawers and baskets are perfect choices. You can find quite a selection at Target, Wal-Mart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Stacks and Stacks, The Container Store and ClosetMaid.

Transfer dry goods to clear, stackable, air tight containers. Doing so will keep foods fresh and pests at bay.

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Ask the Organizer

We’re excited to include another submission to The ‘Shrink Rap’s “Ask the Organizer” section. Please continue to submit your questions by e-mailing them to Every submitted question related to organizing will be included in a future issue of The ‘Shrink Rap.

Q: I am a fellow organizer. It’s in my blood, and I enjoy container aisles like some women love shoes! I live in Cleveland, and I am so frustrated by the lack of “organizing” themed stores available. When I search the internet it is difficult to find any links that provide a variety of good sources to purchase organizational products. Can you help? I have been in search of a table-top, wicker type material, file box to hold my Pendaflex folders. I use these files to organize the influx of paper that comes in from the kids after school and quick to reach papers that are “hot”, but I need something decorative to put on the family room bookshelf. Anything you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
– Megan, Cleveland

A: Megan,
Here are a few options for you:

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Need more help getting organized? Call Cluttershrink® for more information on receiving hands-on assistance organizing your home, office or relocation. Phone consultations, customized seminars, mentoring for new organizers and gift certificates are also available. Call 215.431.0590 or e-mail Crystal Sabalaske at

Posted in Accessories, Ask the Organizer, Filing, Kitchen, Organizing, Paper Organizing, Storage bins, Time Management, To-Do's, Tools