Archive for the ‘Helpful Tips’ Category

Change Seasons, Change Space

Posted on: September 1st, 2019 by Open Space Organizing


As summer draws to a close and the weather begins to turn, I feel motivated to make adjustments in my home space.  Sometimes it’s a closet refresh, sometimes a maneuvering of furniture, sometimes the beginning of a whole new chapter.  In the Chicago area, the change in seasons from summer to fall can mean a big change in the weather. It’s now time to pull out the scarves, sweaters and boots!  During this time of year, when we swap our summer wardrobes for fall and winter, it is also a wonderful opportunity to purge some of the items you aren’t deeply in love with anymore.  A fun fall idea to motivate your purging is to have a wardrobe, purse or jewelry swap with friends!  Purge your items, and swap for something new – costs you nothing, and gives you a fun night out with friends!


The best part about fall for me – BACK TO SCHOOL!  The school supplies, crisp air, and renewed feeling of learning always excites me!  However, for little kids, adjusting to a new school routine and staying organized can be tricky.  Routines can be so helpful with this. Having the same wake up time every day, setting aside time for homework every day at the same time, having a place for backpacks to hang and reminders to hang them there – everyday.


Students need a homework station – and even in the smallest of spaces, this can be accomplished.  Having a clear space with a jar for pens, pencils, rulers, glue, etc. is really all that’s needed.  But it needs to be clutter-free and removed from distractions like phones, TV and games.


Create a space for backpacks for school as well as activity bags for sports, teams, etc. In the mudroom, or garage are great places for these!  Use your vertical space and 3M hooks to hang bags in neat order!  When it’s game-time, you can just grab and go!



Posted on: March 17th, 2019 by Open Space Organizing

March 2019 only!  Contact us for details!

Simplify So Your Office Functions For You

Posted on: March 3rd, 2019 by Open Space Organizing

10 home office organizing tips!

  1. Purge paper into the system of three: shred/toss, file or take action.
  2. Put into use a color coded filing system. Here’s how we like to do it:
    Green – Financial
    Red – Medical
    Orange – Personal
    Yellow – Insurance
    Blue – House
  3. Create a Mail Station. In order to maintain control of the paper coming into the home office, create a mail station. Make a folder for incoming and outgoing mail, mail to file, bills and a folder for every family member. As soon as the mail comes in, file it in the mail station. Then once a week, take a few minutes and go through each folder.
  4. Printing station – space for printer and supplies to live
  5. Store in containers – office have lots of little things like paperclips, tape, staples, etc. They are easier to find when they’re in their own container, inside a drawer or box.
  6. Use a label maker! Because, you all know my love for labels, it makes it simple to find what you need, and put it back when you’re finished.
  7. Categorize:
    1. Stickies (sticky notes, tabs, stickers, etc.)
    2. Tools (straight cutter, staple, staple remover, hole puncher)
    3. Budget (checkbook, calculator, bill calendar)
    4. Writing Tools (markers, pens, pencils)
    5. Mail (envelopes, stamps, address labels)
    6. Labeling (labeler and label tape)
  8. Organize books: keep books so you can easily find them. Sort by color, title, author, or subject. It’s your library – you get to choose!
  9. Life binders: grab-and-go in case of emergency:
  10. Wall space: hang filing systems, whiteboards, calendars, shelving, etc. save space by going vertical!!

Peaceful places, Productive spaces

Posted on: February 5th, 2019 by Open Space Organizing


Welcome to February, organizers!  (Yes, I think all of us are organizers, in our own way.)


February is the time to stay inside and rethink the resolutions we made more than a month ago.  Haven’t kept with yours?  According to an article I recently read in The Independent, January 12 was the day most of us gave up.


Why, you may ask?  In my opinion, our goals are too big, and generally unattainable.  “I’m getting my WHOLE HOUSE cleaned up TODAY!”  Is just not usually going to happen. So, today, our focus is on SMALL places we can get organized in one Saturday afternoon.  Such as, your pantry.


The pantry is by far the “closet” we use the most.  We are in there between three and ten times a day!  Per person in our house!  How much time can we save just by making our pantry so it’s easier to find things, our food is stored in a way that keeps it fresh.  So, this month, with every purchase of organizing hours, you’ll receive your choice of jars or containers to help get your pantry working for YOU!

The Life Changing Magic Of Commitment

Posted on: February 28th, 2018 by Open Space Organizing

Yes, commitment is life changing! Characterized by dedication and reliability, it is the act of doing what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it, how you said you were going to do it. It is a promise to yourself or to someone else. Commitment is the action taken to bring set goals to completion. A committed person follows up and follows through with each step in the process to make their goal a reality.

Lack of commitment, on the other hand, results in goals not being met. What are the obstacles that get in the way of commitments? Often it is lack of time, energy, focus, quitting when things get difficult, fear of failure or fear of success. All of these can demolish a well-intentioned goal. Other culprits can be our mindset, doubt in our abilities and lack of faith in ourselves. At times we get in our own way, and there are times we let others get in our way and convince us to give up.

Commitment is key when setting goals and starting any project and organizing is no exception. What can you do to see your goals through no matter the obstacles? How can you stay strong and focused?


Tips to Stay on Course:
* Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, be specific and detailed
* Keep your mindset clear and focused on what you want and WHY
* Remind yourself of your WHY daily and repeatedly
* Believe in yourself and your abilities to reach the finish line Have a plan for what steps to take when obstacles appear
* Reward yourself as you complete small steps along the way
* Be your own cheerleader and enlist a support system to help you
* Build your commitment muscle through practice


It is helpful to remember that commitment and goal success in one area can bleed over and reinforce success in other areas. As you follow through and complete what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it, how you said you were going to do it, it becomes a habit and easier.


As winter winds to a close focus on your successes and get psyched for Spring! Contact Open Space Organizing for any questions you have or if you need hands-on help. We are happy to assist!

minimal gardening

Spring is coming!

Your Christmas Presence Is The Best Gift Of All

Posted on: December 11th, 2017 by Open Space Organizing

Christmas presence is remembering to be present for the holidays. It is easy to get caught up in spending all your time and energy on shopping for presents instead of enjoying the moment. Your traditions and time spent together are what create memories to cherish.  

Chasing material possessions and over-buying can cause added stress during an already busy season. The meaning and fun of Christmas can be lost in the hustle and bustle. Be aware of striving for perfection or responding to advertisements to acquire more and more! Less is, less stressful and less costly.

Take a moment, think back and remember some of your fondest holiday memories! What came to mind… was it the holiday tree, a special activity, singing carols with family, or reaching out to help others in need?

If you are like most people you remembered an experience or special holiday event as opposed to the number of gifts you received. Our memories tend to not clutter our closets, basement, garage, or require costly storage units to keep.

Tips To Keep Your Christmas Presence:
  • Schedule a night off to relax with family or friends
  • Declutter your schedule and say NO to some invitations
  • Prioritize commitments and say YES to activities that are most important
  • Save time and money by not over-buying gifts
  • Simplify decorations and save time putting up and taking down 
During the holiday season focus on what is most important, and remember less is more. Keep your Christmas Presence by keeping it simple! Open Space Organizing is here to help if you need it!
Your Christmas Presence

Christmas Presence over Christmas Presents

Dreading Your Own Basement?

Posted on: May 8th, 2017 by Open Space Organizing

Dreading your own basement? Is it beginning to look and feel like the set from a horror movie? Has it become a dusty, dark, disorganized area for storing items you are not sure what to do with? You are not alone. Basements are a challenging area for many as they are out of the way, large, and have a door you can close. They become a spot for delayed decisions. Items that are still “good”, but no longer being used, get boxed, binned or bagged and brought down. Instead of deciding to recycle or donate the item becomes delegated to the basement, where it can languish sometimes for years, forgotten! Things get piled on top of one another and chaos results. The chore to find something is so daunting and time consuming that the owner gives up and either does without or goes to the store and buys new. Dreading your own basement becomes something you start to accept. The door remains closed and the space is unused.

Tips To Reclaim Your Basement (and make Hollywood look elsewhere for their horror movie set):
*Make a plan for how you would like to use the area. Examples; Exercise Area, Play/Toy Area, Craft Area, Theatre Area, etc.
* Purge items not being used, or not needed. Hint; items that have 4 inches of dust on them, items that no one can identify, items the family has outgrown, items missing key pieces, etc.
* Designate one area for storage to resist using the entire basement for storage. Use labels in this area to indicate what item goes where.
* Carefully consider new items before bringing them down. Consider if it is needed, if you already have one, or if you are keeping it just because there is room.
Follow these tips and turn your horror set back into a useful space!

The opposite of dreading your basement

Organized basement

Organize Your Holiday With These Helpful Tips

Posted on: December 12th, 2016 by Open Space Organizing

Plan Your Gifting

Organize your holiday by planning your gifting. This is the time of year to appreciate and remember friends, family, neighbors, teachers and all those you care about. Think back on gifts you have received that were most memorable to you. As always it is the thought behind the gift that makes it special. Consider giving the gift of time; a lunch date, movie date, a visit or helping with a task. Consider giving the gift of an experience; a membership, an event, or a lesson to learn a new skill. How will you organize and plan your gifting to make it meaningful and stress free?

Plan Your Schedule

Organize your holiday by planning your schedule. It is easy to lose sight of the meaning of the season in the flurry to get it all done. Going faster is not the answer, if speeding down the wrong road. When it gets chaotic stop, assess where you are and what you are doing, next prioritize, decide on a course of action and then continue moving forward. Have a plan and alter it as needed to keep yourself on track. Give yourself the gift of calmness this holiday and slow your pace.

Plan To Make Time For Your Traditions

Organize your holiday by focusing on and enjoying traditions. What is your favorite holiday family tradition? In my family one of our traditions is “The Box”. It appears every year and is given to a member of the family. At times it holds a present, other times just a note. The Box is a Carson Pirie Scott shirt box and in 1979 my younger brother gave my Mom a gift in it and instead of wrapping it (he was a busy college kid, no time for wrapping!) just wrote on the top of the box From Steve, To Mom. The next year she gave it back to him, again not wrapped and just wrote on the box.

A tradition was born and each year another inscription is added and The Box is given. The Box has our family history written all over it; long notes, short notes, silly notes, sad notes, milestones of births and losses, hardships and triumphs. The Box is now wrapped each year and the receiver is responsible to hold onto the box and give it the following year. Each receiver unwraps The Box and reads all the inscriptions from 1979 to the present Christmas. It is a silly, sentimental tradition that makes us smile and and cry, and is ours alone. It reminds us of Christmases past, time together and the love of family.


Organize Your Holiday With These Helpful Tips

“The Box”

Take the time this holiday to plan your gifting, plan your schedule and honor the traditions you find important and meaningful!

Wishing you a joyful, organized and peaceful holiday season! Merry Christmas!

Opportunity to Clear Clutter, Fall

Posted on: October 26th, 2016 by Open Space Organizing

Opportunity to Clear Clutter, Fall

Fall Inspiration Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Fall Inspiration
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Fall is here and it brings an opportunity to clear clutter from our lives as there is a natural shift in routines, activities, clothes, even food as the weather begins to change and daylight hours shorten. This change in season encourages us to take some time to contemplate and review what things are working for us in our lives, schedules and spaces, and what things are not. This is an opportunity to embrace growth and change.

When you look at your life do you find areas that are stagnant? Spots where things just sit, no movement, no growth, no awareness of what is even there? Like old boxes piled up in the corner, is your mind filled with thoughts that no longer serve you? We sort and purge our spaces to bring back fresh energy and life. This technique is also useful for our minds. Take a look at and get rid of what you are holding onto that is not useful, like negative thoughts, old ways of doing things, old ways of looking at yourself or the world. Decide what thoughts to keep and what thoughts to purge.

Once the old has been cleared from your mind you now have space available to set new goals. You can see where you are. This is an important step that can allow you to see the direction you want to take next and allow you to clearly visualize the road ahead of you and your end result.

Clearing clutter from your mind to open yourself to new possibilities can be freeing, just as clearing the physical clutter in your space is freeing. Many times after working with a client to de-clutter I hear comments about how they feel so much lighter, a weight has been lifted and they feel free. Clients breathe a sigh of relief at being able to see the the top of their dresser, or they are thrilled to be able to walk into their closet, as the floor is now clear. They are amazed at the new space they have found, and how this change in their environment lifts their mood and gives them a feeling of hope and renewal. They feel relieved!

Making a shift and clearing the clutter from our minds or our spaces alters our perspectives and our moods in ways we do not expect. Whether you start with changes in your space or you start with changes in your mind the important thing is to start! Use this change of season to spark a change in your life!

Organizing and Yoga; The Benefits of Practice

Posted on: September 2nd, 2016 by Open Space Organizing

Organizing and Yoga

Are you searching for a calm space in your life? Organizing, like Yoga, can create a calm space for you to relax into. I am a student and a teacher of Yoga. I was drawn to Yoga during a time of upheaval in my own life. Now as a professional organizer I see the similarities and connections between the benefits received from organizing and Yoga and the practice of each.

The Benefits of Yoga:
Yoga is about consciously connecting to your breath and your body to increase your awareness. Yoga breathing requires inhaling, deeply and slowly, filling your lungs with fresh oxygen and then exhaling completely, emptying your lungs of old air. If you practice this type of breathing, even for just 3 breathes, you will notice feeling calmer, more relaxed, and more centered.

Yoga is also about testing your limits and pushing yourself, stretching yourself in new ways into new poses. It does not feel comfortable at first (Yoga teachers call it feeling sensation) but as you repeat and practice poses it becomes easier and you can feel your body able to stretch farther and hold for longer. The more you practice, the greater the benefits and the easier it becomes.

The Benefits of Organizing:
Organizing is about changing what is in your space. When our environments become filled with old, no longer useful things, it is like hanging onto old air. Removing what is stale and old from your environment and opening up your space can have the same effect as yoga breathing. You begin to notice a feeling of calmness in your space. Your senses are no longer bombarded by objects piled, stacked, falling and filling up your surfaces. Instead of feeling distracted and overwhelmed you begin to feel lighter, free, calm and more in control.

Organizing is also about stretching your limits and trying new ways, which at first do not feel comfortable (feeling anxious when you start can be expected). Again as you repeat and practice organizing principles you begin to “find your flow” and it starts to feel easier, more natural and you feel and see the benefits as you accomplish each of your organizing goals. The more you practice, the greater the benefits and the easier it becomes.

Try it for Yourself:
First practice yoga breathing. Breathe in deeply through your nose to the count of 4, breath all the way into your abdomen. Hold your breath for the count of 7 and then breath out completely to the count of 8. Do this 3 times.

Next grab a large garbage bag and make a sweep through your space challenging yourself to find at least 27 things to toss or donate. Place your donations in your car and those things you want to toss into the garbage receptacle.

Now sit back and notice how you are feeling, notice the difference. Ahhh… just like Savasana!

For more thoughts on the similarities between organizing and Yoga see by professional organizer Hazel Thornton.

Contact Cathy at Open Space Organizing today to begin your practice of organizing, to find your calm and open your space! 630-453-2582