the shrink ‘rap: issue 7

the shrink ‘rap: issue 7

In this issue:



Organizing from Start to Finish

Whether you are talking about your personal or professional life, chances are that you have several projects you want to complete. Your list may consist of five projects or fill an entire notebook. To be successful at checking things off your list, you will be required to complete numerous mental and physical tasks. Then, at some point you may have to deal with feelings of being overwhelmed and struggle to find the time to get things done. Just thinking about tackling a project may cause you some stress, and who needs more of that?

Follow these simple strategies to get your projects done:

First, differentiate between to-do items and projects. A task on your to-do list can be completed within a short period of time. A project could take several hours, days, weeks or even years to finish and is composed of numerous to-do tasks. Sending a birthday card to a friend is a to-do item. Planning a birthday party for a friend is a project because it requires the completion of multiple tasks (e.g. creating an invitation list, sending invitations, planning the menu, buying decorations).

Make a list of every project you want to do. Again, this list may be short or long. Writing it down will help you clear the mental clutter. Once you get it on paper, you can stop thinking about reminding yourself just so you will remember not to forget it. That whole sentence was a bit confusing, but that is exactly what happens to your brain when you have so many things you are trying to remember and get done. If it helps you at all, create two lists; one professional and one personal.

Next, prioritize your project list. Be realistic about what you can accomplish with respect to your time and money.

Pick one or two projects to start. Try to do more than two projects at once, and you will find yourself overwhelmed.

Once you have picked a project or two to start, make a list of all the tasks related to that project. Then put the tasks in order starting with the one that you need to do to get the project rolling. If organizing your closet is a project, your list may consist of: emptying closet; sorting clothes into like categories; donating unwanted items; taking inventory of what you want to keep; selecting proper storage/hangers for all items; purchasing and installing rods, shelves, baskets etc.; refolding and putting clothes away.

Pick a deadline. Decide when you want to have your project finished. Is there a party at your house? Do you have a new baby on the way? Is your boss visiting your office? Working backwards from this date, block off time on your calendar to accomplish each related task. Knowing your deadline and scheduling your tasks will help you determine a project’s start date. Keep in mind that certain factors you cannot control may cause delays. Your schedule should allow for some flexibility.

Use a folder, binder, basket or box to store receipts, documents, notes and product samples related to your project.

If you cannot devote a large block of time to your project, do what you can 15 or 30 minutes a day. Every effort takes you closer to your goal.

Refer to your list of tasks frequently to determine if you are on schedule. Are you getting caught up in the details or overlooking them? Can you eliminate some unnecessary items? Readjust your task list according to your progress and/or changing needs.

Start when you say you are going to start, and keep yourself motivated by making the project fun. Have friends or family help. Hire help when needed. Listen to music, and make sure you reward yourself in some way for completing your project.

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Water Cooler Rap

Simple Tips for Daily Living

Quick Tips for Organizing Your Automobile for Business

If you spend most of your working day on the road, your car needs to function in a capacity that goes far beyond taking you from point A to point B. When your car is the place where you make calls, meet with clients, respond to e-mail, store supplies and products, and eat some of your meals, then organization is the key to helping your car work for you.

Keep like items together. All office supplies and product samples should be stored together in some type of container that prevents them from rolling around your trunk or back seat. For small items like paper clips or pens, use a tackle box or zippered pouch. For larger items, use cargo nets, plastic containers, pop-up totes, baskets or crates. Companies also make organizers specifically for trunks. Check out several options at Stacks and Stacks and The Container Store.

Use a briefcase, laptop bag or tote that is durable and easy to open. If you choose something that has too many zippers or resistant snaps, you are more likely to throw things on the floor or seats. Who has time to mess with zippers and snaps when you’re on the go?

Avoid spills and poor handwriting by having a flat, stable surface from which to eat and write. Check out this mobile workstation at Best Price Office Furniture. Another option is the Front Seat Organizer at Stacks and Stacks.

Store area maps in a file folder or binder.

Store computer and music CDs in a portable binder or CD Visor. Both of these items can be found at Herrington.

Use a rolling luggage or shopping cart to transport items to and from your car. You can find these carts at luggage stores, some department stores and Stacks and Stacks.

There are some items that you should keep in your car regardless of your profession. An emergency kit, an umbrella, tissues and napkins, a flashlight, your registration and insurance card, bottled water, and a charger for your cell phone are at the top of the list. You can access these items easily by storing some of them on the back of your seat. Take a peek at the Car Backseat Organizer at RedEnvelope.

Are flying papers a problem for you? Use a portable file and accessory holder to keep things neat and secure. Opt for the innovative Traveling In-Box at Levenger.

Conducting business from your car essentially requires having a mini-office at your fingertips. The limited confines of an automobile can leave you feeling cramped and overwhelmed, especially if you have supplies, products, documents and trash lying around. Establish a home for everything using various containers, files and totes so you can access what you need while you’re on the road.

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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: Do you have a good solution for storing baseball caps? My family members own several. Our mudroom has pegs for clothing storage, but the caps fall off the pegs and end up on the floor. Thank you. Love seeing you on Mission: Organization!
– Jane

A: Jane,
There are several creative options available for baseball cap storage. Look at your walls, doors, shelves and closet rods for unused space to determine which option is the best for you and your family.

If you have available shelf or floor space, baskets or pop-up totes would also work well. You can find both of these items at Bed Bath & Beyond and The Container Store.

Before purchasing any item, count how many caps you need to store. If the cap has not been worn in the last year or is in poor condition, donate or toss it!

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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, Automobile, Business, Clothing, Organizing, Projects, Storage, Time Management, To-Do's