the shrink ‘rap: issue 3

the shrink ‘rap: issue 3

In this issue:


Getting Organized

A Resolution for 2004?

If you’re like most people, you probably have a resolution or two for
the new year. Perhaps you want to lose weight, read more, watch tv
less, or get more sleep. I’m also willing to bet that there are a few
of you out there who want to GET ORGANIZED in 2004. I fully support
that goal and want you to be successful in accomplishing it. Getting
organized can be overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of clutter,
don’t know where to start or have developed pack-rat tendencies.

Here are a few quick tips to help you meet your organizational goals:

  • Make a list of every room that needs to be organized. Then make a list of specific areas/items that need to be organized within that room – drawers, books, shelves, under the bed etc.
  • Start with one room or area at a time. Don’t try to organize your entire house or office at once. Resist the urge to start organizing a new room until you have finished the first room. Jumping from room to room is just another form of procrastination and doing so will cause you to lose focus.
  • Start with the room that causes you the most PAIN. What I mean is that you should start organizing the room that embarrasses you the most, the one that you need to use the most but can’t because there is so much clutter, the one that causes you to argue with your spouse or kids etc.
  • Once you have selected a room or area, pick the easiest part of that room to organize first. Once you successfully organize this easy area (i.e. a bookshelf), you’ll be inspired and motivated to tackle the more difficult areas.
  • Schedule time to organize! If you don’t put it on your schedule and honor it as if you have an appointment, chances are that you won’t get it done. Try to work for a few hours at a time. If you can’t squeeze that into your schedule, 15 minutes here and there is better than nothing. Don’t wait until you have a “free” day to get it done. Who has a “free” day? Be realistic.
  • Make it fun! Invite some friends over (if you’re not embarrassed). Some people enjoy the thrill of taking home your “donations” (all that stuff that you’ve kept around for years without knowing why). Turn on the radio (Trust me, the time goes by faster when there’s music). Reward yourself after a day’s worth of hard work by going out to lunch, reading a book, taking a nap, getting your nails done etc.
  • Take before and after pictures to track your progress and keep you motivated. Posting your “before” somewhere in the room should prevent you from letting the room get that way again.
  • Set a deadline. We all need to know what we’re aiming for. Do you aspire to have a room organized by a particular date, holiday or event? Write your deadline date on your calendar.

Now is the time to get started! Good luck!

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Organizing Holiday Decorations

The holidays are finally over and it’s a new year. Unfortunately, you
still feel stuck in 2003. You look around and are overwhelmed by
holiday decorations, leftovers and remnants of wrapping paper. You want
to start 2004 with a clean slate and need to put the chaos of the
holidays behind you. Start by packing up your holiday decorations.
However, before you give into the urge to just throw everything in a
box, remind yourself how frenzied the holiday season can get. Eliminate
some of the chaos by organizing your decorations NOW so decorating next
year won’t be so stressful.

Follow these simple tips for organizing your holiday decorations:

  • Carefully review your holiday decorations and toss anything that is damaged. There is no need to keep that string of lights that hasn’t worked for the past 3 years. Donate items that don’t match your personal taste or style of your current home.
  • Select appropriate storage for each type of holiday decoration – lights, ornaments, wall and door décor, wreaths, etc. There are various companies that make storage containers specifically designed for the most popular holiday decorations. Organized Living,,, Target and Wal-Mart have a great selection.
  • Organize your decorations by ROOM. When you decorate each year, you can carry the appropriate containers to each room and avoid running back and forth between rooms and rummaging through boxes to find all other parts/pieces. Label each box with the name of the room.
  • Use twist ties, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, and masking tape to prevent unruly ribbon, wires, or lights from getting tangled.
  • Label decorations within each box so you know what goes where. For example, I put garland, lights and ribbon on the staircase and the fireplace on my first floor. I don’t want to waste time figuring out which ribbon goes where every year. All ribbons are close in size but were cut to fit the railings and mantle exactly. I loop each ribbon around a paper toilet paper roll and then secure with masking tape. I then label the masking tape accordingly – left side railing, right side railing, fireplace.
  • Rolling plastic carts with drawers are great for storing Christmas tree ornaments. The small, removable drawers make it easy to hold many ornaments at once. You can walk around the tree holding an entire drawer of ornaments instead of balancing two or three on your fingers at a time.
  • Keep all holiday wrapping paper and cards together. Stock up on after holiday sales to save money and time next year. (Would I be going too far if I suggested preaddressing envelopes on the cards you are sending out next holiday season?)
  • Do you have holiday cards that you received that you don’t want to keep? Feel guilty throwing them away? Tear off the front of each card (if it doesn’t have writing on the back) and donate the card fronts for a good cause – St. Jude’s Ranch for Children Recycled Card Program. Check out for more details.

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Water Cooler Rap – Simple Tips for Daily Living

Quick tips for managing interruptions

  • If someone walks in while you are in the middle of something, kindly state, “Bob, I’m in the middle of working on such-and-such. I’m not sure why you stopped by, but I only have a minute to talk. Do you have a quick question, or can we schedule some time to talk later today?” Set your boundaries.
  • When someone walks into your office, stand up. Staying seated invites others to seat themselves. People will be less likely to stick around and get involved in a conversation if you continue to stand.
  • Remember that the DND (Do Not Disturb) button on your phone is your best friend. Pushing DND will prevent your phone from ringing while you are on another call or in a meeting. Depending on your phone system, calls will be directed to another line or your voicemail.
  • You may not realize just how often you interrupt yourself by changing subjects quickly. Be mindful of your conversation and finish discussing one subject before moving on to the next.

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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 have a huge collection of trade journals that I read frequently for my job. I keep the journals in case I need to reference them in the
future for some reason. They’re piling up everywhere and have started
to take over all of my available space in my small apartment. What are
your suggestions for storing journals/magazines that I will need to
reference in the future? Thanks
– Will in PA

A: Will,
You’re definitely not the first person to ask me this question. So many
people keep magazines and business/trade journals to use for reference
materials, decorating ideas, craft projects, financial information,
consumer reviews etc.

The first thing I would suggest is to organize the journals by year.
Depending on what industry you are in, some of the articles may be
outdated. For instance, if you are in the medical field, many of the
articles that appear in medical journals reference pharmaceutical drugs
that are no longer be available or on the market. There is no need to
keep information around that is no longer relevant. Organizing the
journals by year will help you identify which journals are the most
likely to contain irrelevant information.

After you toss irrelevant/outdated journals or magazines, ask yourself
the next important question. Is there another source where you could
get the same information? Does the magazine have a website and online
database of archived articles? If you wanted to find information on
wood-carving, are you more likely to pull out an old magazine or run to
the computer and type “wood-carving” into a search engine? No need to
keep the paper if you can get the information elsewhere.

If there are some articles that you really feel the need to keep and
will reference in the future, tear out the articles of interest and toss
the rest of the magazine. It is much easier to store multiple articles
than it is to store numerous magazines. You can scan the articles into
your computer and create online folders for each trade journal,
organizing articles within subfolders by subject, publication name or
date, or you can purchase a 3 ring binder and slip each article into a
top-loading plastic sleeve/sheet protector. Either way, you are
minimizing the amount of paper in your apartment.

If you absolutely MUST keep the entire magazine for some reason,
consider using magazine files. They come in various styles and store
nicely on shelves. Check
and for a few options.

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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 Ask the Organizer, Books/Magazines, Business, Filing, Holidays, Organizing, Time Management, Words of Wisdom