Chasing the fashion dragon


I read this very interesting article on Fashionista this week about how the “It” or “must have” trends come and go so quickly they can become “ho hum” before you can take them out of the bag. When everybody has “it,” “it is no longer as desirable. We all want to stand out but we also want to fit in but you can’t do both (thank you Seth Godin).  Nobody wants to feel like they’re a victim, in particular a victim of fierce marketing strategies of the fashion industry. So how do you find that balance between looking like you are of this era and what does that have to do with organization? Continue reading


Get Your Life in Order in Less than 15 Minutes

Here is an organization tip that will have immediate impact on your happiness and well being and allow you to get your life in order in less than 15 minutes: clean out  your purse or wallet. You really should do this on a regular basis but today is a great day to start a good habit. The state of your purse is really a reflection of you, just like your clothes, and the wallet provides a micro look at how you view money. Yes, it’s true.

Can you relate to Mary Poppins with what’s in your bag?

Purse: As I mentioned, the state of your purse is a reflection of you so is it cluttered with trash, half eaten snacks, leaky pens without tops, old grocery lists, etc? Do any of those items scream success, calm, in control? No, I didn’t think so. “But I have to lug stuff around for my kids and they make a mess of everything.” Hey, I love blaming someone else as much as the next person but your purse doesn’t need to be 100% trashed 100% of the time. This is an excellent opportunity to teach others, too, about how possessions should be kept and showing respect for them. Remember Neatsmart’s mantra, too, about letting go of perfection. Everyone gets cluttered and scattered but the goal is to reduce the frequency and intensity of that disorganization.

Granted the Queen of England probably has someone to clean out her purse for her but doesn’t it look nice to not see paraphernalia popping out? If she drove, I bet she could find her keys in a flash. 🙂

So take a few minutes at home get your purse, and your life in order. to take everything out of your purse and shake it out over a trash can or sink to let all of the dirt and dust out. If there are spills, now is the time to clean any stains so they don’t get worse. Now, take that pile of stuff that was in your purse and sort out all of the trash and throw it away. It’s amazing how quickly it accumulates. Sort out your makeup, lipstick, gloss, powder, mints, comb, and anything that has to do with your physical body and put it in a separate, small bag. Trust me, you don’t need 5 lipsticks in your purse, either. Only put back the essentials and the rest goes back to your regular makeup place. Mints or gum should be close to your makeup, too, because we are organizing by use here.

From the remaining pile, put all of your money together. Are you the person that throws change in your purse and then spends countless time digging around for that change when you need it? Stop doing that and you’ll save yourself that frustration. Put your money back in its wallet or at least in a pocket in your purse so you’ll know where to find it.

Remember George Costanza’s wallet? Don’t let this happen to you.

Wallet: what is the state of your money? Are they in order or just haphazardly thrown in there? One of the many things I learned working in restaurants was to keep my money in order by denomination because I had to make change for customers. I also got immense pleasure at the end of my shifts putting my bills in order and then changing out smaller bills to larger ones. When you take care of your money you are showing that you are smart financially and respect what money can do for you. If you are careless with money I’m going to guess that you also probably have financial issues and lose money easily. Just sayin’….

While your wallet is open, go through all of the other cards and pieces of paper that are in there. Do you really need that Starbucks card that has expired or the insurance card from a company where you no longer work? Only keep cards here that you use on a regular basis like medical cards, credit cards, library cards, driver’s license. This is not a place to keep travel cards or shopping rewards cards. Unless they are used frequently, store them separately.

So what else is in that pile of stuff that was in your purse? Do you still need to keep it? Every purse should have a pen and paper to jot inspirational ideas or a grocery list so put those back. Also, you should designate a specific location in your purse for your keys, cell phone, and sunglasses. Avoid the panicked feeling of  “do I have it or did I forget it” by always using the same pocket or section to put those items.

Seeeeriously, people. Who needs a bag this big? You could smuggle a small child in that bag except for it killing your back.

Lightening your load will also help your neck and back. There are countless cases of back and neck pain as a result of carrying too heavy purses and briefcases and sitting on a Costanza wallet will also give you hip and back issues.

Once you start to clear out your purse and wallet on a regular basis you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it earlier and you’ll find that you are not losing money or your mind looking for things constantly. This is all part of building an awareness in your life that gives you control because you know where things are. Talk about self empowerment: go you!

Happy organizing!

Summer To Do List

Can you believe summer is officially here as of Friday and that half of the year is over? Me neither. So how is your New Year’s resolution to “get organized” panning out? Do you feel like you’ll never get there? Do you start an organization project just to abandon it after a few frustrating hours or minutes? Even if ‘getting organized’ was not on your resolution list, I would be willing to bet that you’d like parts of your home or office to have fewer stacks and piles, to be more clean and ordered so that you’re not wasting time looking for things and wasting money buying what you already have. Fear not, it is never too late to get started. Here is a list of suggestions for quick, mini- organization tasks you can do right now to get closer to your goals of calm, reduced stress, and more time to do the things that you want to do:

Keeping a refrigerator in order means you don't waste energy poking around looking for food.

Keeping a refrigerator in order means you don’t waste energy poking around looking for food.

When was the last time you cleaned out your refrigerator? Can you identify what’s really in that old takeout container? Take less than an hour and toss out the bad stuff, clean out the shelves and drawers, and put the good stuff back where it belongs. Here is a link for detailed instructions on how to store food in the smartest spots.

One example of a kitchen-based command center.

One example of a kitchen-based command center.

What is the state of your command center? Do you know what a command center is? Learn more about why it’s essential to your sanity to have this part of your home in order.

Get some type of box for storing tax documents

Do you have a place for gathering tax documents for 2013? Designate a folder or box now for storing receipts, car tag statements, donation receipts, medical statements or whatever it is that you’ll need to locate next year to file your 2013 taxes. Also, don’t completely file away 2012. You’ll need to refer back to it if you do your own taxes or your accountant may need to review it as well. (no IRS jokes, please 🙂 )

Don’t store clothes without cleaning them first.

Did you put away your winter sweaters without getting them cleaned or washing them? Food and sweat is what attracts moths and other bugs so make sure they are clean and not stored in plastic. Wool and cashmere need to breathe. On that note, take your winter coat(s) to get cleaned. Don’t forget scarves, hats, and gloves if they are not leather. Just take them out of the plastic bags when you get them home.

Get your OWN filing system.

Get your OWN filing system.

How is your personal filing system? Do you know where your mortgage statements, bank statements, EOBs, and appliance warranties are? Set up a personal business filing system in a desk drawer or file box with labeled hanging files and folders. If you have kids, how are you storing their school papers? Put together a file box for saving report cards, certificates, school pictures, programs, etc. Or ask Neatsmart about creating a “Box of a Lifetime.”

Another example of a car filing system

Have you ever cleaned out your glove box in your car? Are you the kind of person that just shoves your insurance card in there with your repair receipts and takeout napkins? In less than 30 minutes, you can separate and file your car’s paperwork into a document wallet so you can find all the necessary documents when necessary. Hopefully you don’t have to show that proof of insurance frequently.


All of these tasks are a good jump start to propel you towards more order less clutter. When you’re ready to go all the way in getting your life organized or you want to continue with the momentum you’ve started with this list, give Neatsmart a call. We’ll be there to take your home to the next level of organization so you can live more efficiently, have less stress, and more time to spend doing what matters most to you.

Happy organizing!

Fast, easy, & effective time management

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: time is the one non renewable resource we all share and are subject to. How many times do we say to ourselves “if only I had more time, I would do X” or “there is not enough time in the day.” The reality is we can’t add another couple of hours on to our day but we can make the most of what we have and do as much as we can comfortably.   That last word is most important because what I am advocating here is making your life easier, not more complicated, and not more full of activities.

I used to work in the lovely world of software sales and the product I sold and implemented, in its basic simplicity, helped people manage their reporting paperwork more effectively. Essentially, it was putting a SYSTEM in place where there was none. I have carried this out in my work today as an organizer by helping clients create systems in their home to organize not only their paperwork but also their kitchens, closets, offices, pantries, etc. The most effective thing you can do to help yourself in your home is to system-ize things that are more mundane so you don’t have to use your precious time and mental energy to figure out the answer to the same question every day. I’m not suggesting that we all become automatons but instead focus your energy on the things you enjoy and leave other things to work themselves out. Here are some examples:

Source: via Carrie on Pinterest

Source: via Carrie on Pinterest

Source: via Carrie on Pinterest

    • Come up with some type of uniform for how you dress. Now this may seem crazy coming from the person whose sole highlight in school was coming up with a different outfit every day but I don’t have that kind of time anymore. Now, I am meticulous about the clothes I have in my closet in that everything has to serve a purpose, look good on me, and be ready to go more or less when I want to wear it. I have a pair of black pants, a white blouse, and a black cardigan that is my standard Fall/ Winter uniform. I can put black chunky heels with it or flats, loafers, or tennis shoes depending on the occasion. I throw on a strand of beads or pearls and I am ready to go. I don’t wear this every day but I know that when I do, it’s a good outfit and I don’t have to think about it. This is a SYSTEM that works for me and something similar can work for you. Mornings can be frenetic anyway so why not simplify your schedule by creating some basic uniforms that look good and make you feel confident in your appearance?
  • Add a system for your eating habits! This makes for fewer decisions to have to make every day and lessens the opportunities to made bad eating choices because of a stressed out environment. When I went into an office all the time, I would take the same thing for breakfast everyday: homemade granola, kefir, and blueberries. I still eat this most days even though I work out of my house. This means I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat every morning and I have it ingrained in my brain that I must have these things on hand at all times. I don’t want to eat the same thing for all meals by any means but sometimes I struggle with what to make my family for dinner. I’ll think of something and then wonder if I have the ingredients or did I make that 2 days ago or did anyone like it? I haven’t implemented a menu plan yet but I am going to start writing on our calendar in the kitchen what I made for dinner so I can refer back to see when was the last time I made lemon chicken pasta or lentil soup. One of my favorite blogs, LifeinGrace, had a great suggestion for creating a SYSTEM to manage menu planning and mapping it to Google calendar or your iCal. Edie Wadsworth wrote a 3 part series on why create a menu planning system, how to link it to your calendar, and she provided sources for recipes. She’s amazing, too: she writes this awesome blog, home schools her daughters, takes pristine care of her family, reads like there is no tomorrow and is an inspiration for those of us trying to figure it all out.
  • The last suggestions is actually quite easy and will make your life infinitely less stressful and thus give you more time in your day which is what we all want. Are you ready? It’s huge:   PUT YOUR KEYS IN THE SAME SPOT WHEN YOU COME IN THE HOUSE. Maybe it’s just me but I used to waste tons of time looking for my car keys every morning and it would always put me in a foul mood. Sometimes they were in the kitchen, sometimes they were in my purse, sometimes they were on the couch, etc. Now they are kept by my purse on the counter in the kitchen and I never wonder where they are. Time saved = more time to do what I want to do.

So I hope you enjoyed these suggestions for streamlining some mundane activities in your life. Do you have suggestions for other systems that can be created to save time?

Happy organizing!

How Clutter Costs You Money: Closet Edition


Not bad, but not great either.

Continuing with our topic of how clutter costs you money, we now move to the closet. Look at your closet the same way you look at your pantry: do you know what is in there? Are clothes neatly folded or tossed into piles? Do you know what is clean and what is dirty? Does everything fit? Does anything fit? Do you wear the same things over and over again and skip over other items consistently?

Taking care of the clothes that you have will save you money by not having to replace items constantly. A suit, for example, doesn’t need to be cleaned very often but aired out after wearing. If you leave it on the floor or in a pile it’s going to have to be sent to the cleaners prior to wearing again because it will be wrinkled and smelly.  Going to the cleaners costs money in terms of time and the actual expense plus you don’t have that suit for a few days. Frequently people pull something out of their closet to wear only to realize that it needs to be repaired. It goes into a pile or back in the closet thereby remaining un-wearable. They buy another one instead of repairing and add to the general clothing inventory. Wouldn’t it have been better to repair the item? Yes, it would have cost less money and you wouldn’t have multiples of the same item, confusing you as to what is wearable and what isn’t.

Do your clothes fit? Do you save multiple sizes of clothes “just in case…?” Staying a consistent size will save you money by not, again, having multiples of items in different sizes. I’d suggest a size larger and a size smaller is the maximum range you want to hang on to and even then pay attention to what you wear consistently.

Can you see your clothes? Do you have to go through piles to find a particular item? Keeping shirts, trousers, skirts, jackets, etc. on hangers will help keep your clothes not only in order so you can see them but wrinkle free, too. Sweaters, tee shirts, and other knits should be neatly folded so you can see them easily and, again, kept wrinkle free. Shoes should be paired together

Knowing what you have,  keeping it wearable, and organized saves you time, the non renewable resource we all want more of, by not having to stress over what to wear each time you get dressed. I know a lot of parents teach their kids to lay out their clothes the night before school so they know what they are going to wear the next day and don’t have to fuss with it in the morning. Adults should take this advice for themselves to eliminate the morning rush, time-wasting-cycle of trying things on, realizing they don’t fit/ are dirty/ need to be fixed/ let’s try something else. The time spent on this cycle of decision-making can be easily eliminated by clearing and organizing your closet. Eliminating situations that can cause anxiety will greatly reduce your (and anyone else’s living in the same home) daily stress level, which means more time for enjoying activities that you want to do, less money and time spent shopping for things you already have, and less time on wasteful, circuitous activities like figuring out what to wear. You have better and more important things to do!

LC closet after 4

Everything in its place

Clutter free closet

Clutter free closet











You have to go in your closet every day and how you start your day sets the tone for how it is going to progress. Start it on a positive, clear, and confident step so that they rest of your day is productive, enjoyable, and fulfilling. Remember: neat really is smart.

Happy organizing!

Online designer clothing consignment? Yes, please.

Continuing on the theme of “what do I do with the clutter that I’ve cleared from my closet” I’d like to introduce you to an online consignment store called  The RealReal. The RealReal is a site where you can consign your gently worn and loved men’s and women’s designer clothing. They also provide a concierge service for those looking to consign where they will send a consultant to your house to go through your closet with you. For those who just admire the designer clothing featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle magazines you can also use this site to buy gorgeous, gently worn, and loved designer clothing. This is yet another example of being green and eco conscious by fully utilizing what is already out there in the market place.

Nanette Lepore, Magaschoni, and JCrew, oh my!

Personally, I’m a huge fan of shopping in consignment stores and have acquired some lovely pieces myself: Jimmy Choo kitten heels, Prada kitten heels (I think there is a trend here), a JCrew cashmere sweater, a Magaschoni cashmere sweater (another trend here) among other things over the years. I’ve paid less than $100 for each of these items so I’m pretty proud of myself for not spending like crazy yet being able to buy good quality and great looking pieces. Everyone’s budget is unique and everyone has things they’ll spend on and things they won’t. Seriously, my sister would spend $100 on books before clothes so go figure. 🙂

Great style at a lower price–no arguments here!

So whether you are looking to get rid of designer clothes that are currently taking up space in your closet or would like to shop more fashionably, efficiently, and eco-friendly go look at The RealReal. You can email Nicole Fornaro at for any additional questions about how they work. Just tell her that Neatsmart sent you!*

If you are looking for help or advice on clearing the clutter from your own closet, just comment below and we’ll start with a free, no risk assessment.  

Happy organizing!

*This is not a paid endorsement. For real.

Don’t be a prisoner to your belongings

Alcatraz jail cell. Don’t be a prisoner to your belongings.

Being organized is about having the things in your home, office, closet, etc. that you really need and enjoy within easy access and aesthetically pleasing.  One person’s organization is another person’s confusion or discomfort so as much as there are tools of the trade and specific steps I take clients through to achieve success, it is unique to the individual. Just buying the cute boxes and label maker do not an organized person make. You really have to figure out what do you need and what serves you. Get rid of objects that hold you back and keep you from being the person that most exemplifies you.

“Gee, Carrie, how do my things hold me back? Is my closet conspiring against me?” No, not actively; but what you hold on to in your home is an expression of who you are and your relationship with it is expressed subconsciously. Do you hang on to clothes that you are too small for you because you will wear them “someday” when you lose those 5-10 pounds? Do you keep arts or craft supplies because “someday” you are going to take up knitting, scrapbooking, decoupaging, or whatever? Do you keep a piece of furniture that you don’t like because some relative gave it to you and you’d feel guilty getting rid of it? Or, here is my favorite: I can’t get rid of this because I paid sooooo much money for it. Well, all of these negative thoughts are holding you captive as a person who doesn’t accomplish whatever goal you’ve set for yourself by keeping these things.

  1. Get rid of clothes that don’t fit. Only keep things that are one size either too small or too large for wiggle room and have the others altered or donate them. Think of how you are helping others by sharing what you have. Someone else needs that suit, sweater, shoes, and it will be in better use with them instead of sitting on your closet floor.
  2. Donate supplies that you aren’t using or don’t think you’ll be able to use (really use) in the next 3 months. I know Pinterest is full of great Halloween, Christmas, Hannukah, Birthday, and other ideas for crafts and home projects. By all means, pursue and create but put a reminder on your calendar and block the time to actually sit down and create these great masterpieces. If you can’t find the time in the next couple of months, then donate those supplies to a church, school, or some type of program that will use them now. If you are inspired later, you can gather those supplies again and move forward with renewed enthusiasm.
  3. Guilt is such a great motivator and usually it’s negative. If there is something in your home you don’t truly love or use, give it to someone who needs it. I personally have a hard time with this because I want to please people but, really, it does no good to keep things in your home for others. Is there someone you know who would enjoy that style of art or furniture or clothing? Can you think of someone who can make something of it? Maybe it would inspire a renaissance for someone’s artistic interpretation. Above all, it’s not serving you sitting in your home reminding you of how much you don’t like it. And that is making you cranky and resentful of the person that gave it to you.
  4. As far as hanging on to the expensive item? Well, the money is gone. Spent. Bye bye. Resolve to strongly consider the consequences before committing this crime again and get rid of the offending object. It’s just sitting there taunting you and filling you with buyer’s remorse. Let it lead a new life with a new person and bring them joy instead of you pain.

You’ve probably detected a theme here by now and it is the bedrock of Neatsmart’s   philosophy: purge what you do not need, keep what you love, make it all look pretty, and use it to its fullest. Life is too short to not have happy surroundings and your home is your haven. Let it restore you, not repulse you.

Happy organizing!