She's Here!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

She's here! Our precious daughter arrived happy & healthy on 8/14/14 and she's already taking my jewelry...


Please forgive my lack of blog posts lately - surviving my ninth month of pregnancy...in August...in the South...should be an Olympic sport! This heat is no joke. But I look forward to getting back to work and posting more projects & pictures after I spend a few weeks with our baby girl.

If you're interested in booking time with me this Fall, please email me (info@SHMorganizing.com) to schedule a consultation. It'll feel so good to welcome the holidays with a decluttered space!

'Til next time,
Stacey

Birmingham-based professional organizer, Stacey McElrath, helps clients throughout Alabama and the southeast clear clutter and establish customized systems to maintain order in their homes or offices. Contact SHMorganizing today for more information: info@SHMorganizing.com.

Product Manuals

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

These days it seems like every product, no matter how simple and straight-forward, is accompanied by a manual. In some ways, these little reference books are invaluable (especially if you're putting together toddler toys or IKEA furniture!), but why do we feel compelled to keep every piece of paper that comes with these items?

As my husband & I continue to prep for baby #2 (new chapters are a great time to reevaluate your systems) and simplify areas around our home, I knew this situation needed to be addressed (click on images to enlarge):


Each time a manual made its way into our home, it got thrown into this box. No bueno. I guess I get a few points for having everything in the same place - but not only was this system an eyesore, it wasn't reliable or functional. So when our house alarm recently decided to quit working and I couldn't find what I needed, I knew it was t-i-m-e.

I pulled everything out of the box and sorted the contents into piles. My trash pile grew pretty quickly when I realized I had French manuals, duplicate manuals, and manuals for products I no longer owned:




I also ran across some product registration forms. I tend not to fill these out because it's one less company that can fill up my mailbox and inbox with junk, but I do believe this is an important form to submit for car seats or any other item where you'd want the company to notify you as quickly as possible regarding recalls, etc.

I felt it was safe to toss this registration form, especially since it was for the oldest TV in our house.
Since most product manuals are now available online (ManualsOnline.com is a great resource), I knew I could take advantage of this fact and free up some storage space. Additionally, electronic manuals have the most up-to-date product information.

I was able to toss all of these manuals after I confirmed they were available online.
FAQ sections on company websites also contain valuable information when you have product questions.
The motivators might be different for each family, but for one reason or another, there were several manuals I wanted to keep handy and in print. I also had some warranties and original purchase receipts I attached to our printed manuals.

I found this unused wicker file box in our home office and knew it would be a great new home for our sorted manuals. I am a big fan of reusing supplies if they appeal functionally and fashionably.


When it comes to filing paper, always keep retrieval in mind when labeling. In other words, when you're looking for something, will "pet" stick out to you or "dog" or "Scout?" After you assign labels with titles, a font, and a size you like (I recommend straight-line tab filing with all CAPS and bold print for easier reading), organize your files alphabetically and voila!


I added an asterisk to manuals that will stay with the house if we ever move.
How do you organize your product manuals? Let me know - I'd love to hear from you!

'Til next time,
Stacey

UPDATE (as of 7/8/14): I recently learned about Bawte.com. This smartphone app allows you to scan the UPC code from your product, which then gives you online access to that item's manual. You'll also get recall notifications, assistance registering your product, and be connected to Customer Service if you're having problems with your appliance or gadget.

Birmingham-based professional organizer, Stacey McElrath, helps clients throughout Alabama and the southeast clear clutter and establish customized systems to maintain order in their homes or offices. Contact SHMorganizing today for more information: info@SHMorganizing.com.

Product Review: PerfectCurve CapRack 9

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Happy Spring!

Maybe it's the time of year or maybe my nesting is kicking in (we're expecting our second child in August!) or maybe I'm obsessed with great organizing products or maybe our 100-year old home needs regular tweaking to maximize non-existent storage space or maybe it's a combination of all of these realities that's pushing me to make some organizational improvements around our house. Whatever the reason, I find it extremely energizing and exciting when simple solutions and new systems improve the flow of space.

I plan to share these adjustments and products with you in the coming months, and my hope is you can use these tips and my experience to improve efficiency around your home or office.

First up: the PerfectCurve CapRack 9. I love this product! And for $4.99 per rack...talk about low cost, high impact!


We're a hat family - in fact, all three of us have our own collections. But, my husband wins with 20+ hats:

BEFORE
This system was simply not working. The door couldn't be closed completely because the hats were overflowing on either side, and finding the perfect hat was a chore.

Whether I'm working with a client or in my own home, the first two steps are always the same: consider the needs & habits of the client (my husband, in this case), then sort & purge.

Asking a hat collector to give up two-thirds of his collection so I can close the closet door is an attempt to change the client...not productive at all. Instead, I need to change the environment in which the client operates. Change the system, not the individual.

After considering the size of the door and doing some product research, I landed on the PerfectCurve CapRack 9. I could easily fit two racks side-by-side inside the closet door, allowing my husband up to 18 hat hooks. Done and done!


After sorting his hats, my husband quickly realized he had some duplicates, so donating three hats to get to 18 was the perfect compromise. It's important to respect the "real estate" you have. In other words, you don't have more space than the space you have. When these limits are not acknowledged = clutter. Now we're on a one in/one out system. The new hat racks are maxed out, so if a new hat is desired then an existing hat must be donated.

The hats stay firmly in place on the hooks!
If you have similar head gear needs, I highly recommend the PerfectCurve CapRack 9! Or do you use another great system? Let me know - I'd love to hear from you!

AFTER
Screws are included with this product if you'd prefer not to have hooks showing on the outside of the door.
As information, the PerfectCurve BagRack 9 was not a winner. I tried it out for my purses and hats, and the hooks were not strong enough to hold my purses in place, especially when I opened or closed the closet door. Back to the drawing board on that one!

And in case you missed it, SHMorganizing's services have expanded! Need help organizing and clearing out your inbox, want assistance managing your calendar and appointments, don't have the space, time or budget to hire a full-time employee, just need help on an "as needed" basis? SHMorganizing is now offering virtual assistance. Contact me for more information or to schedule a consultation!

'Til next time,
Stacey

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are mine alone. I have not been compensated in any way to review or promote these products.

Birmingham-based professional organizer, Stacey McElrath, helps clients throughout Alabama and the southeast clear clutter and establish customized systems to maintain order in their homes or offices. Contact SHMorganizing today for more information: info@SHMorganizing.com.

Life Made Easier

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

If you've been following SHMorganizing for any amount of time, you know I'm a huge fan of Real Simple. Their magazine is one of my favorite publications. From recipes to finances to travel to home improvements and beyond, all of their articles share the same theme: "life made easier."


If you're not already following Real Simple's blog, Simply Stated: Daily Tips & Tidbits, then run - don't walk - to add this blog to your reader! Not only are the posts short in length, but they're also extremely helpful and interesting.

Here are some of my recent favorites:












Happy reading!

'Til next time,
Stacey

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are mine alone. I have not been compensated in any way to review or promote these blogs.

Birmingham-based professional organizer, Stacey McElrath, helps clients throughout Alabama and the southeast clear clutter and establish customized systems to maintain order in their homes or offices. Contact SHMorganizing today for more information: info@SHMorganizing.com.

Client Project: Storage Room

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Happy New Year (a little belated)!

A new year means a fresh start and the perfect time to T.C.B. (Take Care of Business)! That is why I picked this recent client project to blog about – it is a great example of why NOW is the time to take care of what you care about.

At the beginning of each project, I ask my clients: “What is your dream/vision for this space?” The answer I received for this project was: “A functioning overflow storage room.”

In the past three years, my client’s house has been home to three people, then down to two people, and now four people live there. The house is full of life and love, but keeping up with the outflow and inflow of people and stuff in that amount of time can be challenging for any family. This client knew they needed a designated area to organize and store all of the excess.

Since their attic and basement – like many of our attics and basements – were not conditioned, my client had been very good about reserving this space for temperature-sensitive items only (e.g. wedding dress, photographs, childhood keepsakes, a mix of upholstered furniture, and hunting gear, including ammunition).

After purging through the room’s contents (including hauling off trash, consigning several evening dresses, and donating other items), we started putting the room back together. We tried several arrangements, taking into consideration wall vents, items that needed to be accessed frequently, the one window in the room, the first view of the room when you walk by or walk in, etc.

The client was left with a space that not only stores extra furniture and clothing, but is also a peaceful place to needlepoint (one of my client’s favorite pastimes) or read a book…plus the door can be fully opened now without hitting something!

As we wrapped up our time together, my client said something I’ll never forget – she said: “I didn’t want to leave this for my kids to deal with.” If you don’t treat your items with respect and purpose, then how can you expect someone else to do that? There is nothing wrong with stuff - but if something is important enough to keep, then it’s important enough to define it.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones by taking care of the space where you live or work. Professionals, like myself, are eager to help you reclaim a peaceful environment with systems that are best suited for your belongings and your lifestyle.

Thank you to the H. Family for opening up your home. I loved every minute of our time together!

Click on images to enlarge:

BEFORE and AFTER - big picture
This project is also a wonderful example of how much can be accomplished with very little supplies. My client already had lots of plastic storage boxes and two sets of metal shelving units (like these), but decided to purchase some plastic liners to keep unboxed items from tipping over on the shelves. I love these liners and have used them with several clients - easy to clean, very sturdy, and affordable! I've said it before: nothing beats low cost, high impact.

BEFORE - first view of room
AFTER - first view of room
Rolling out the client's rug really warmed up the room! Don't store an item if you can use it now.
BEFORE - view inside room
AFTER - view inside room
Two air vents flanked the sofa, so we put the hunting gear on the return vent side as an added safety measure.
AFTER - view inside room
The client is thinking about getting a canvas cover for her garment rack, and possibly for the other metal shelves as well.
AFTER - view inside room
My client requested we hang the mirror low so she could use it as a full length mirror - great idea!
'Til next time,
Stacey

Birmingham-based professional organizer, Stacey McElrath, helps clients throughout Alabama and the southeast clear clutter and establish customized systems to maintain order in their homes or offices. Contact SHMorganizing today for more information: info@SHMorganizing.com.