the shrink ‘rap: issue 15

the shrink ‘rap: issue 15

In this issue:

How to De-junk Your Junk Drawer

Did you know that disorganization drains your wallet?
Most people have a drawer known as a junk drawer. It is typically found in the kitchen, is stuffed to the top with odds and ends (aka junk) and is difficult to open. Chances are that you have a clue as to what is lurking in your drawer but would rather have a tooth extracted than try to get something out for fear that you might lose a hand.
If you are ever so brave as to tackle the contents of this drawer, know that it can be done in about 15 minutes or less (30 minutes if it is a REALLY big drawer with a lot of paper scraps!)

  • Empty the drawer onto a flat surface, with enough room to spread everything out.
  • Sort items into categories – change, paper clips, gift cards, receipts, gum, pens, phone chargers, batteries, stamps, miscellaneous parts to who knows what, etc.
  • Throw away the obvious trash. Shred any papers that contain personal information.
  • Use plastic envelopes (check-size) to sort receipts and store gift cards/gift certificates.
  • Copy information from scraps of paper into an appropriate notebook or computer program such as an address book, Rolodex, Palm Pilot etc.
  • Use drawer organizers, ice cube trays or egg cartons (wash before using) to sort smaller items.
  • Put everything back in its proper place after use.

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Water Cooler Rap

Simple Tips for Daily Living

How to Tell if You Need a Professional Organizer

There are certain things in life that you just do not want to do. Then there are others that you do not know how to do. Perhaps there are things that are a little bit of both. For me, that thing is cooking. I am not a big fan of standing in the kitchen experimenting with spices and what-not, and truthfully I really do not know which knife to use for cutting meat. I have discovered a middle of the road solution to my family’s need to eat but my own desire to admire my kitchen from afar for the most part. That solution is one of those ready to assemble prep kitchens like The Secret Chef or Dream Dinners. I pre-order my food from a menu someone else selects, show up and literally assemble my dinners from an array of pre-cut, pre-measured ingredients. I come home; pop the food in the oven from the freezer and ta-da, my family gets to eat. Lucky for them, huh?

If debating whether or not you need to hire a professional organizer is one of the things you are in the process of doing, first decide if organizing is something you WANT or KNOW HOW to do. If your answer is NO or MAYBE to either question, your organizing project is much like my cooking situation (or lack thereof), and you would probably benefit from some outside assistance.

Your organizing project is more likely to be a success with a professional organizer’s help IF:

  • You believe that an objective eye will help you, your family, your roommates and/or your co-workers function more efficiently.
  • You are not sure where to start and your project seems overwhelming.
  • You get motivated when you have someone working with you. (Some professional organizers will work with you; others will do the work for you; and some will just tell you how to do it. Make sure you tell potential organizers exactly how much help you are looking to receive.)
  • You start projects but do not know how to finish them.
  • You buy endless quantities of organizing supplies and nothing seems to “work”.
  • You can commit some time to your organizing project and can keep scheduled appointments with an organizer with little chance of cancellation (Most organizers have a cancellation policy.)
  • You are committed to making an investment in getting your house organized. (Professional organizers throughout the U.S. have different fee structures. Some charge by the hour, others by the project.)
  • You are losing money due to your disorganization (missed payments, lost items etc.)
  • You have attempted many “systems” but still have trouble keeping track of things.
  • You value the extra resources a professional organizer has access to, such as donation sites, relationships with auction houses, experience with yard sales, discounts at stores, and knowledge of organizing supplies.
  • You have read all the books and followed the steps but still have trouble implementing all the suggestions and organizing tips.
  • You are truly embarrassed by the state of your house or office.

Of course, Cluttershrink® would be happy to assist you with your organizing project! However, if you would like to search for an organizer in your geographic area and/or by specialty, go to NAPO. This site also provides a list of questions to ask potential organizers.

At some point, we all need help with something. Calling a professional organizer is like calling a plumber. If there’s a problem that you cannot fix, there’s no shame in asking for assistance. A qualified professional organizer should provide you with the skills to maintain an organized home after your project is finished, just as I suppose an actual cooking class would arm me with the know-how to make my own gourmet feast.

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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 really have the best intentions when it comes to getting organized, and typically I have no problem starting a project. However, I never make much progress because I can’t seem to finish anything. What is the best way to go about making sure that I get my organizing project completed?
– Disorganized in California

A: Dear Disorganized in California,

I can assure you that you are not alone. Many people have this same exact problem, and I guess it’s one of the reasons why the professional organizing business has grown so much in recent years. People call professional organizers for help because by making an appointment with us, you are committing time to getting it done. That is the key! You have to think about your organizing project like any new skill or hobby. First, you have to realize that it is going to take time. Then, you have to dedicate some time to getting it done. Playing a sport only gets better with practice, and organized sports always have scheduled practices. Chances are that if you have decided to take up cooking, you will spend a significant amount of time in the kitchen learning to cook. The key to completing anything, particularly an organizing project, is to SCHEDULE TIME TO GET IT DONE! Just as you would schedule a sports practice or a doctor’s appointment, you need to put time on your calendar to work on your organizing project. This planned time should be uninterrupted (free of children, phone calls, visitors, and favorite tv shows). I suggest 2-4 hour increments until the project is completed, but if you are short on time and only have weekends available then you might just need to devote an entire day or weekend to work on your project. Starting and never finishing just leaves you in a state of limbo. Work on one room or area at a time until it is organized, and then move on to the next area. Good luck!

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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

In the next issue (2009)

  • File Ideas – Creating a System that Works
  • Water Cooler Rap – Favorite Organizing Tips from Cluttershrink’s Clients
  • Ask the Organizer – Question & Response

Thank you for reading the 15th issue of The ‘Shrink Rap! Cluttershrink® welcomes feedback and questions. If you have a particular organizing topic you would like to learn more about in a future issue, please contact or provide feedback here.

If you like these tips and ideas and would like to share them with your friends, feel free to forward this newsletter to them.

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Posted in Business, Kitchen, Projects, Resources for Organizing, Storage, Time Management, To-Do's, Words of Wisdom