the shrink ‘rap: issue 9

the shrink ‘rap: issue 9

In this issue:


20 Great Organizing Products for $20 or Less

Before you read one more word, I must offer a word of caution.
Just because something has a purpose does not mean that it necessarily
has a purpose in your home no matter how cute, nifty or innovative it is.
Evaluate your organization needs before purchasing supplies to help you get organized.
I have never done an official study, but through my work with my clients
I have witnessed several looks of dismay on those who have spent hundreds
or thousands on organizing products thinking that the products would somehow
magically organize their belongings. You need a good working organizational
system before you select the products, not the other way around.

Take a peek at the items below. Because they all cost $20 or less,
you probably won’t break the bank if you buy something you don’t really
need. I just ask you to stop and think; Will this gadget really help me
get or stay organized?

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Water Cooler Rap

Simple Tips for Daily Living

Minimizing the Contents of Your Handbag

If you are walking crooked because your handbag weighs more than you do, here are some simple tips to minimize your handbag load:

Get a handbag with more than one pocket/section. Liz Claiborne and Nine West have several options designed to keep you organized. If you cannot find a suitable handbag with pockets, use small make-up bags in your handbag to contain similar items.

Keep personal grooming and well-being items in one section (your toothbrush, makeup, comb, medicines, mints, etc). However, make sure that you have compact versions of these items to conserve space. For instance, get a travel toothbrush that folds in half. Carry only makeup that may be needed for touch-ups – your favorite powder, lipstick, blush (not 10 shades of eye shadow). Again, use travel sizes. Regarding medicines and Band-Aids, be realistic. The chance of you bleeding profusely or using a bottle of Midol before you return home, get to a restaurant, or visit a friend is relatively small. Carry a pillbox with a few pain relievers and slip two Band-Aids in a side pocket.

Now, how to handle those other items? Your wallet does not need to house your entire financial history. In fact, it shouldn’t, for security purposes. Your wallet should contain your license, health insurance card, one or two major credit cards (as it is not necessary to carry every specialty card with you), your ATM/bank card, money, and transportation pass/work id.

Receipts can be kept in an envelope in your home or car (same thing for rain checks). If you need to return something, chances are you will need to return home to the get the item for return and will take your car to return it.

Instead of keeping a planner in your bag, I suggest keeping it in your car. That way, you can grab it before you go to a meeting, go in the house etc. If you don’t need to schedule something and just need to remind yourself to pick up the dry-cleaning, perhaps keeping a very small spiral notebook in your handbag would help. You could just transpose “pick up dry-cleaning on Thursday” into your planner at the end of the day while reviewing the following day’s “to-do” list.

Coupons should be kept in the same location you use to put together your grocery list. They should only be taken with you when you are making a trip to the grocery store. Keeping them in your purse just creates clutter.

There are very few things a woman keeps in her handbag that she couldn’t live without for a few hours. Chances are that someone can let you borrow whatever you’re missing anyway. Think about what is essential – money, credit cards, keys, license, glasses. Put that stuff in your handbag first and then evaluate whatever is left in your pile.

My handbag contains a small credit card holder that holds my license, two credit cards, my bank card, my insurance card, a small comb, lipstick, powder, a nail file, eye drops, and money. I also drop my keys in when needed.

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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 pack rat all around, but I have been following
some organizing ideas, and I am getting better but not “cured”. My most
pressing area of concern at the moment is my closets. With the kids going
back to school next week and the season changing here in Toronto, I now
would like to find some advice on how to sort out my two sons’ closets.
This has been a problem that is building, and now I find myself finding
clothes that have been duplicated because I cannot get a system for
‘hand me downs’ and what the average child really needs in his closet.
The way it stands at the moment is that I would not have to do laundry
for a month for both of my kids. I find I have too many choices, and now
my eldest is getting as disorganized as me because there are no limits.
I don’t want that for him. This is not how I want to go on.
I need advice Pleassssee!!!!!
– Anne, Canada

A: Anne,
Hand-me-downs are a problem for most parents. In an attempt to save money and time (thinking that you’ll have to shop less), parents keep so much of what the older children have worn hoping that the younger ones will be able to reuse the items. The reality is that styles change, personal preferences vary, and you will inevitably end up buying the younger child(ren) new clothes anyway. Because children grow so quickly, it is hard to know what size they’ll be next year during each season. Your best bet is to sort through everything as soon as the clothes no longer fit your older son. Throw away or donate anything that is damaged, stained, faded or out of style. It’s probably safe to assume that your younger son wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing beat-up, out of style hand-me-downs anyway. Your younger son’s taste should also be taken into account. If he doesn’t like loose jeans, sports jerseys and t-shirts with logos like your older son, it doesn’t matter how much you save for him. He’s not going to wear it. Have your younger son sit with you when you sort through the hand-me-downs and let him pick out what he wants to keep. It might help to set a back-to-school clothing budget for each child too. Otherwise, your younger son may assume that if says “NO” to all hand-me-downs he’ll get an entire new wardrobe. If you have room, I suggest keeping the next size up visible in your son’s closet. Hang these clothes on the far side of a closet or put them on a high shelf. That way you’ll at least be able to take inventory of what he already has before heading out to the store. Put all other sizes (more than 1 size larger) in plastic bins (i.e. Rubbermaid), label with the size, and store in a basement, attic or far corner of a closet.

With respect to their closets in general:

Sort clothes by type – t-shirts, sweatshirts, jeans etc. It will be easier to put laundry away, and you’ll always know what your children (no more money spent on duplicates).

Children should be able to reach their closet rod. If your sons are unable to reach their closet rods, get them a stepstool (if they’re old enough to use one), or install a rod within reaching level.

Sort and purge after every season. If it hasn’t been worn, is damaged, uncomfortable or is no longer in style, out it goes.

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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, Budget friendly, Clothing, Home, Kids, Organizing, Storage, Storage bins, Tools