Stock up on Office Supplies Now To Help Organize Your Paper

Kids are heading back to school and college and most likely have the majority of the school supplies they need for the next few months.  As we all know, summer break is the time to stock up on all of their school supplies needed for the school year because of the many deals available that won’t be available during any other time of the year.

In addition to backpacks and binders, office supply and discount stores have a multitude of notebooks, pens, pencils, dividers, desk organizers and a variety of file folders that adults may also find useful for organizing projects and day-to-day paperwork.   You may not be thinking about your own needs while shopping for back-to-school supplies, but it’s a great time to take a look at some of the interesting folders, notebooks and binders available because some are only sold in stores during the back-to-school shopping season.

One of my favorite products that I use to help organize paper is a multi-pocket folder.  The folder pictured in this post is the Oxford 8-Pocket Project Organizer.  I’ve purchased mine at Staples, but they can be found at various stores online.  What’s your favorite paper organizing product?  Maybe it’s a paper scanner, so that you can get rid of all of the paper! I scan paper too, but I still like to keep some projects visual.   It’s good to know what works best for you so that you can determine what products will help you to be more productive and organized.  Happy Back-to-School Shopping!










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Free Community Shredding Events in Maryland

Just a quick announcement to let you know of 2 Maryland shredding events going on tomorrow, Saturday, June 24.

NBC4 and Allstate will be hosting their next Community Shred at Montgomery College, MD at 8AM.

Eco-Shred is also hosting a free shredding event at 5600 Columbia Park Road, Cheverly MD 20785.  If you can’t make this one, they will be holding it again on the last Saturday of every month, so mark your calendars!






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Free Maryland Shredding Events this Spring

shred dayWe’re in spring cleaning mode, which may not only include spring cleaning your home, but may also include spring cleaning your paper.  Local community shredding events can help you to discard sensitive paperwork after a spring clean session, instead of clogging up your  home shredding machine!

This is why I like to pay attention to any local community shredding events coming up in the area in the spring and fall, so that I can also share them with you.  If you don’t see an event near you, please visit the shredding company’s website.  You could also arrange for the company to come to your home for a one-time fee.

Please note that some of the events may be fundraisers, so please consider a small donation if you attend a shred day fundraising event. The following are a few community shredding events this spring in the area (Maryland-Baltimore metro/Washington, DC metro). If you live outside of this area, visit the company websites with national chains to see if they are offering an event near you.

Baltimore area (Baltimore, Columbia, Ellicott City, Timonium, White Marsh):

(Reminder today) Columbia: Howard Community College Shred Day at GreenFest –  All Shred – Saturday, April 22 – 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. (rain or shine)  Howard Community College in the Burrill Galleria, Columbia, Md.
10901 Little Patuxent Pwky, Columbia, MD United States

2 locations this year:
– 3 bags and boxes per car
1) Timonium:
Better Business Bureau Shred Day at the Maryland State Fairgrounds (North Gate) 2200 York Rd, Lutherville-Timonium, MD
Saturday, April 29 – 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.

2) Baltimore: IKEA Baltimore, 8352 Honeygo Blvd, Baltimore (White Marsh).
Saturday, April 29 – 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Baltimore: Pro-Shred Fundraiser –  Timonium United Methodist Church
Saturday, April 30, 2017 –  10:00 am to 12:00 pm
2300 Pot Spring Road, Timonium

Washington, DC Metro area (Germantown, Burtonsville & Anne Arundel Co.):
Shredding  Events in May and June (see flyer below for details)
















Check rules and for updates on website in case of inclement weather:  Montgomery County Shredding Events

Pasadena: Pro-Shred – Arundel Federal Savings Bank
Saturday, May 13, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
4179 Mountain Road, Pasadena

Various: Navy SHRED-eral Day at Multiple locations in Anne Arundel County
Saturday, May 13 – 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Shred Event Locations:
Accokeek – 7001 Berry Road, Accokeek, MD
Annapolis – 825 Bestgate Road, Annapolis, MD
Gambrills – 1356-A Main Chapel Way, Gambrills, MD
Glenarden – 2200 Petrie Lane, Suite 536, Glenarden, MD
Glen Burnie – 6651 Ritchie Hwy., Ste. 21. Glen Burnie, MD
Laurel Lakes – 14260-B Baltimore Avenue, Laurel Lakes, MD
Lexington Park – 46241 Corporate Way, Lexington Park, MD

Go to the Navy SHRED-eral events page here for more information.

If you know of any others in the area this Spring, please share in the comments.

You may also like:
How to Organize a Yard Sale and Clear the Clutter

Earth Day Tips to Help Save Energy, Money and the Planet

Getting Organized for Your Move



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Earth Day Tips to Help Save Energy, Money and the Planet

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22, and most of us wonder what one thing we can do to participate, so I wanted to share some easy to apply tips that most of us can incorporate into our daily lives, not just on Earth Day.

As I advise when learning new organizing habits, you don’t have to try to do them all at once.  Pick one or two tips at a time and work them into your daily or weekly habits.  Some tips simply require a one-time change, e.g. changing your shower head to a more efficient one, and others will require some reminders to keep it going.

Use less electricity:

  • Unplug appliances when not in use
  • Use the “no heat” setting on your dishwasher
  • Install a programmable thermostat
  • Close heat and A/C vents in rooms that you’re not using
  • Switch to low wattage light bulbs and turn lights off when not in use.

Use less water:

  • Don’t run the water unnecessarily
  • Do a full load of dishes or laundry at a time
  • Fix a leaking faucet
  • Spend less time in the shower or replace your shower head with a more efficient one.
  • Save rain water to water plants.  Plants prefer it!

Recycle and Reuse:

  • Bring your own shopping bags to the grocery store.  
  • Participate in your county’s recycle program, if offered
  • Host a clothing swap with your friends
  • Instead of buying new, check to see if you already have a substitute you can use, or try to live without it altogether.  Think “less is more”.
  • Swap magazines and books with friends and family, or go digital.


  • Take your old electronics to an electronics recycling center, e.g. old computers, tube TVs, VCRs, etc.
  • If you have a Best Buy store nearby, check to see if they are participating in the Best Buy Electronics Recycling Program (e-cycle).
  • The following guide to reducing e-waste with resources on how to donate or recycle old electronics and appliances, including information on the dangers of electronic waste, was brought to my attention by friends: Go Green: Recycling Electronics and Appliances  

Buy smarter:

  • Appliances: Select energy saving appliances over an appliance that may cost less, but will end up being more costly to run.  Keeping an old appliance forever may feel like you’re saving money, but you may be surprised at how much more energy you’re using compared to a newer energy-efficient model.
  • Vehicles:  If you’re in the market to buy a new vehicle, consider a hybrid model or a more fuel efficient vehicle if you currently own a gas guzzler.

Finally, reduce your carbon footprint:

  • If it’s available, take public transportation or walk or bike (if it’s safe to do so).
  • Carpool to work with a colleague – it doesn’t have to be every day. Take a look at both of your schedules to see if you can carpool at least one day a week.  It’s also a great way to learn more about someone that you may not have the time to converse with during the day.

Pick your top 5 and get started today!

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For local Howard County residents:
The next Greenfest event is on Sat, Apr 22 at the Howard County Community College(HCC).  During the event there will be free shredding from 10am-2pm in the HCC parking lot.

Learn more here: Greenfest 2017


There are dozens more energy saving tips you can learn about.  The US Department of Energy has a free Energy Savings Guide.  Check it out here.




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Getting Organized for Your Move

Springtime is not just for spring cleaning and removing clutter, it’s also moving season! Spring is a good time to sell your home, particularly if you live in a sought after area.  For families, they’re typically looking for great schools in a safe neighborhood.  For singles and couples, they’re looking for safety and convenience.

Moving is stressful, even when you’re organized and on top of things.  It’s also very expensive to move, but with some planning and organization, you can save yourself both time and money.

Using a Moving Company: When contacting movers, be sure to get an onsite estimate. We made that mistake in our last move and were given a quote over the phone even though I begged them to come to see how much stuff we had.  Long story short, the moving truck they arrived in was too small. It could have ended really badly, but they made it work.  Lesson learned!

An estimate in writing will also include supplies, e.g. boxes etc.  and will give you an idea of how much moving supplies cost.  If you plan ahead, you can save a little money by purchasing your moving supplies online, but check your options with the moving company you use before ordering.

Long Distance Move – Relocations: If you are relocating, the moving company will probably be packing for you.  Be sure to find out what their policy is for items you’ve packed yourself.  You may want to transport those items yourself if you have valuables that you don’t want on the truck, otherwise, if you personally packed them, they may not be covered if those items are damaged.  For valuable items that the moving company has packed, be sure that you have a written appraisal to prove the value in event that it gets damaged, or worse, lost.

Time to Purge! Several months before your move (or a couple of years, if you have a lot of clutter!), begin sorting through your belongings and get rid of things you don’t need or haven’t used in a long time.  Most people have way too many clothes, so if you don’t purge on a regular basis, start going through your clothing now.  If you love to cook, you’ve probably collected a few small appliances and a ton of kitchen utensils.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed about going through every cabinet and every drawer, which may take hours or days, pick one drawer or cabinet per day.  If you’re short on time, do a few drawers or cabinets per day.

How to Get Rid of Your Stuff: If you’re planning to sell some of your items, now is the time to think about how you’d like to sell them.  There are lots of options available online, particularly if you have a smart phone. Check out apps, OfferUp,  Poshmark  and LetGo.  All 3 are available in the Google Play and Apple Stores. At the time of this writing, there were a few others which you can find with a simple online search.

Estate Sales & Yard Sales: You may also consider an estate sale or yard sale.  It’s hard to do an estate sale on your own because you can’t be in every room of the house while shoppers are browsing, so for an estate sale, you may want to enlist the help of an estate sale company who can help facilitate the sale.

A professional organizer can help with the decluttering and downsizing before the sale, and some organizers may also offer estate or yard sale services.

Donating: If you prefer to donate, there are plenty of organizations that will love your stuff.  Check online for charitable organizations, women’s shelters, thrift stores and more.  The less you have to deal with on moving day, the smoother things will go, and if you’re using a moving company, you will save money.

For a list of charitable organizations and other resources that will take your stuff, check out the list on my website here: Where to Get Rid of Your Stuff!

Here are some additional moving tips from our friends and storage experts at 10 Things You Must Do Before You Move

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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A professional organizer’s advice for spring cleaning
From Pack-Rat to Organized

House Cleaning Checklist – Making Time to Clean and Declutter Your Home


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From Pack-Rat to Organized

Do you consider yourself a  pack rat?  Generally, pack rats hate to get rid of anything because they think they might need it someday.  They also see value in almost everything.

Pack rats typically live in clutter and never know where to put stuff, so it sits around in random places around the house.  They think if they leave it out then it won’t get lost or forgotten.

If you think this sounds like you, to get rid of your pack rat tendencies you’ll need to learn how to be more organized.  Being organized doesn’t  necessarily mean you have to get rid of everything, but it does mean keeping things in an organized way so that when you need your stuff, you’ll be able to find it.

Some people are organized pack rats.  Organized pack rats usually find places to store and “organize” their stuff, but it ends up being too much.   Cupboards, cabinets, closets and drawers tend to be overfilled, which can be frustrating to deal with on a daily basis.  This can wear down on them after years of shoving and stuffing things into drawers and cupboards.  Even if your items have a home, if the drawer is too full, you either need more storage space or need to purge. It’s important that we limit our belongings to the amount of space we have, otherwise we’ll spend all of our hours sorting, organizing and tidying.

Tips for Going from Pack Rat to Organized:

  1. Keep only what you truly love and regularly use.
  2. At the beginning of decluttering, purge daily.  Then, purge weekly until you’ve reached your organizing goal.  Once you reached your goal, plan to purge monthly or quarterly.
  3. Look through magazines or ideas on websites like Pinterest to decide what you’d like your rooms to look like.  Limit this time to no more than 30 minutes a day, otherwise you’ll be spending hours dreaming, but not actually decluttering and purging!
  4. Break down large tasks into smaller pieces and slowly work through them.  This helps you to get started and also prevents procrastination.
  5. Try a task management app for your phone, and set reminders to do small chores and projects throughout the week.
  6. If you’d like to earn some money from your possessions, decide what resources you’re going to use ahead of time, e.g. Facebook group yard sales, Craigslist, Phone App sell site, Consignment Store, eBay, Yard Sale?  Make a list and write down what sells best and where so that it doesn’t hold you up.  Get professional help to get your stuff out, if needed.
  7. If your neighborhood has an annual community yard sale, put it on the calendar so that you can participate to try to get rid of some of the larger items,

It can be hard to make permanent changes, especially if you’ve lived this way for a long time, so if you begin to see more things creeping in (especially after working very hard to get rid of a lot of stuff), create a follow-up plan to stay on top of the clutter so that you don’t end up back where you started.

Photo: © Jacquie Ross of CastAway the Clutter!


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House Cleaning Checklist – Making Time to Clean and Declutter Your Home


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House Cleaning Checklist – Making Time to Clean and Declutter Your Home

After a long day at work, it’s hard to find the time to do household chores, especially when you have to make dinner and take care of other household tasks.  Chores are also not that fun for most people, so it’s another task that we have a habit of procrastinating.  One of the best ways to avoid procrastination is to set a goal and make a commitment to meet your goal, preferably with a deadline.  This rule can help you to accomplish almost anything in your home.

When you get home from work, which area of your home bothers you the most?  I know that I can’t cook in the kitchen if it’s messy, so I will spend a few minutes cleaning up before preparing a meal.  The family room, or whichever room in which you relax, should also be relatively neat so that you’re not staring at clutter.  A clean and clutter-free home will also reduce stress levels and give you the free time you need to enjoy your family and friends.  However, your home doesn’t have to be perfect.  After all, it’s important that we live in our homes and not treat them like showplaces.

If applicable, get the rest of the family involved so that you’re not doing everything yourself.  Each member of the family can be responsible for keeping an area clean and taking care of their own belongings.

To get started, make a plan to keep up with your household chores.  Begin by writing down all the things that need to be done in order of their importance. The greater the importance of the task, the higher it goes on the list.  Keep your list in a prominent spot in your home and copy the list into your smart phone app or paper to-do list so that it’s always front of mind.  You may only need 10-15 minutes a day to stay on top of keeping your home clean and organized.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed because it’s too much to get done in 15 minutes, schedule a weekend to do a deep clean and declutter, and then go from there.

Photo source: Microsoft Clipart (site is no longer available, so right-click the image and save as to download your own copy.  For personal use only).




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Why You Should Get Organized in 2017

Is 2017 going to be your year to finally get organized? Clearing a cluttered room can have a huge impact on a person’s well being. They feel lighter, less stressed and can focus on what’s important. To help you to get started, it’s always good to be reminded of why getting organized can make a difference in your life. The following are just 10 benefits of being organized and living clutter-free – many of which I’ve mentioned before, but at the beginning of a new year, it’s always good to have a gentle reminder:

1.    You will save time, freeing up more time to spend with family and friends;
2.    You will feel less stressed when you are moving around your clutter-free home;
3.    You won’t be in a state of panic when a friend calls to say they’re in the area and would love to stop by;
4.    You will feel confident that you can find 99% of the things you use everyday in 1 minute or less;
5.    You won’t be running to the store to pick up, yet, another pair of scissors because you can’t find the 3-5 you already own;
6.    You will enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that you don’t have to worry about ruining your credit or paying late fees, because all of your bills have been paid on time;
7.    You will feel confident when a client or business associate calls and you’re able to retrieve their file or account immediately;
8.    You will be able to easily find your seasonal items stored in your attic or basement, when you need them;
9.    You will be able to clean your home faster, because you’ll have less stuff to pick up and move around;
10.    You will have more energy, clarity and focus.

I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the picture.  Use this list to motivate you to work on any space in your home. Which area you would like to work on in January?  Write it down and set an intention, and feel free to share in the comments.






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Organizing your Black Friday shopping trip to save time and money

Woman with Shopping Bags on Escalator --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisThe most chaotic shopping day of the year is coming to stores near you.  Yes. I’m referring to Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, and also the day after Thanksgiving.  According to a new survey by The Nielsen Company, “… nearly one in five Americans will shop the Friday after Thanksgiving (aka Black Friday) and more than half (61 percent) plan to spend $100 – $500.”

If you have no desire to fight the Black Friday crowds, or to shop at all for that matter, you may be interested in a movement called Buy Nothing Day, which falls on the same day. However, if you love the excitement of Black Friday and do plan to join the shopping crowds this year, here are 10 tips to have an organized and successful day:

1.   Plan your holiday budget. Create a holiday shopping budget for the day to avoid overspending and getting sidetracked.
2.  Watch the Deals. Check the local Black Friday sales flyers in print or online, so that you can be prepared to take advantage of the best deals. See links to major retailers’ advertised sales below.  Remember Cyber Monday too for online deals.
3.  Don’t forget your shopping list. You should have a list of the names of the people you wish to buy gifts for, including a list of the gifts and/or gift ideas. If you intend to purchase one of the Black Friday “limited supply” doorbuster specials, include a back-up plan, in case the special sells out before arrive.
4.  Schedule and plan your day. Decide what time of day you will be doing most of your Black Friday shopping. Will you be heading for the doorbuster deals, or leaving the house when the chaos has ended? Plan accordingly.
5.  Plan your shopping route. Include all of the stores and their locations, so that you can maximize your shopping time. Parking is probably going to be a nightmare, so if you know exactly where you’ll be heading and when, it will make your life a lot easier.
6.  Dress for comfort. Wear comfortable clothing (nothing too tight) and comfortable shoes. You can still look cute and be comfortable too.
7.   Eat before you leave and expect food lines to be long. This may seem a bit unusual, but if you want to avoid waiting in the lines at the eatery, consider bringing a boxed lunch. We did this a few years ago on a Black Friday shopping trip, and the only thing we had to worry about was finding somewhere to sit down.
8.   Leave small children at home. Unless you don’t plan to be out for long time, avoid bringing small children, unless they can sit in a kid stroller. It might be too much for them to be out walking for hours on end.
9.   Be patient. If you’re not a patient person, shopping on Black Friday might not be for you. There’s a gazillion people and long lines in most stores, especially in the stores that sell electronics.
10.  Stay alert. Be mindful of your belongings and purchases as you go through the day. It may make sense to take a trip to the car to unload a few bags, so that you can enjoy your Black Friday shopping day, without worrying about putting a bag down and leaving it behind!

All in all, remind yourself not to purchase random items that will end up as clutter.  If it’s not on your gift list you don’t need to buy it.  It’s not a bargain if it’s never used or you can’t find it!

Photo credit:  © Royalty-Free/Corbis


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Howard County Community Shred Event

paper-shredding-eventIf you live in Howard County, Maryland, get ready for the next free shredding event coming up this Saturday in Ellicott City. The county is sponsoring the event and will accept your old documents and sensitive information on Saturday, October 15, 2016. Howard County residents will have the opportunity to get rid of their backlog of shredding at no cost.

The Howard County Community Shred Event will be at the Long Gate Park & Ride off of Route 100 (exit 1A) in Ellicott City, from 9 a.m. -1 p.m. Howard County residents can bring up to 3 bags or boxes of paper to be shredded on-site.

Please note that this is not an e-cycle event. Electronic equipment, batteries etc. will not be accepted.

What: Howard County Community Shredding Event

When: Saturday, October 15, 2016

Where: Long Gate Park & Ride, Ellicott City, Md.

From the Howard County Government website, here is a list of what they will/will not accept:

Items Accepted:

  • Federal and State Tax documents
  • Credit card and other household bills
  • Medical records
  • Pay stubs
  • Mortgage documents
  • Insurance bills

Items NOT Accepted:

  • File folders
  • Manila folders
  • Junk mail
  • Schoolwork
  • Event programs
  • Coloring books
  • Brochures
  • Advertising
  • Magazines
  • Calendars, etc.

Please make sure that your boxes or paper bags are ALSO free of:

  • Batteries
  • Plastic or glass items
  • Binder clips
  • Screwdrivers
  • Scissors, etc.

You may also be interested in:

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