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Organization at home, work helps busy lifestyle






" One of these days . . ." How many times is that heard in talk about getting organized? And that day never seems to come.


"Seize the day" is the ideal phrase. Whether at home or at work, being organized cuts down on stress and frustration, and saves time and money, according to the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO).


January is National GO (Get Organized) Month, sponsored by NAPO.


Getting started at being better organized can make a difference.


"It's seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and you're encouraged to keep on with it," said Shannon Burdick, owner and professional organizer, Shannon's Organizing Service in Rochester Hills.


Routing all of the paper that accumulates is the biggest problem people have with organization, consultants say. Such factors as e-mail, the Internet and the National Do Not Call registry have increased the amount of material to deal with.


"They say (the amount of mail) we receive in one week, our parents received in one month and our grandparents received in one year," said Betty Huotari, professional organizer from Logical Placement.


"People are very overwhelmed with all of it and trying to keep up with it," said Carrie Vance, owner, Organized Business Solutions in Farmington Hills.


"(The Internet and e-mail) are so much fun we want to keep it all and read it all. We think we can do it all. We can't."



Organize your desk, starting with material you use on a day-to-day basis, Vance said. Replace piles with files. Vance uses a simple filing system that involves color coding.


"Remember: You can find it again," she said.


Instead of keeping track of appointments and activities in separate places -- a family calendar at home, a planner for work -- have everything in one planner, Vance said.


Whether you choose a paper or electronic planner, stick with it.


"Put everything down," said Vance, who is available as a speaker.


For example, if you have a meeting at work every Friday, put it on your calendar. This will help remind you to prepare for it the day before.


Sort items, putting like items together into categories, Burdick said.


People don't know how long they should keep certain papers, she said. Usually you should save anything referring to taxes for around seven years, she said.


"January is a good time to go through what you have gathered, pull out what you need for taxes, get rid of what was finished with last year," said Burdick, who distributes information on how to stop junk mail.


She will conduct classes on Preserving Family Treasures Wednesday, Jan. 25, at the Shelby Township Community Center and Tuesday, Feb. 7, at Utica High School; and on Organizing Your Busy Family Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Kimball High School in Royal Oak and Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Utica High School (contact her for registration information).



Try to handle mail only once or as little as possible, said Huotari, who will conduct classes on organization Monday, Feb. 6, through Novi Community Education and Monday, Feb. 13, through Plymouth-Canton Community Education (call the community education offices to register and for more information).


Put catalogs and magazines that you don't read directly in the recycling bin or trash when they arrive instead of bringing them in the house (removing the address label first), she said.


"This will reduce your mail pile by 60 to 70 percent," Huotari said.


Dedicate an area in your home for mail, and put the mail there when you bring it in.


When you sit down to go through it, have at hand everything you need -- such as checkbook, stamps, envelopes, wastebasket and shredder.


"If you get up you get distracted. 'Oh, I'll put in a load of laundry on the way,' or 'Oh, I'll start supper,' " Huotari said.


Instead of having a resolution to get the house in order this year, take one room at a time, Huotari said.


Maybe work on a room 9 a.m. to noon one day on a weekend while someone else takes care of the children.


Working on one room a month gives you time to make decisions about what to keep and throw away. Have various bins at hand -- for discarded items, for donations, etc.


Don't buy storage bins or other organization items until you know what you need.


Vance will also advise clients about how to improve the layout of their work area to make it more organized. She tells them not to clean the area up before her visit, so she can see how they work.



Such businesses as Closet Man Co. in Troy, and California Closets in Troy and Walled Lake, can help by designing and building closets and structures for almost anywhere, including bedrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, garages and home offices.


Home entertainment centers and other units are among their offerings.


"There is so much new, it's amazing," said Mark Davis, owner of Closet Man Co., who has been in the business for 15 years.


"Even a 5-foot reach-in closet (can be improved)," said Mark Lantz, director, marketing/sales, California Closets in Walled Lake.


More people are asking for wallbeds these days, said Davis, whose projects besides closets have included wine racks, organizing a vehicle for a customer who worked out of a car, and trailer compartments for a motorcyclist's vehicles and gear.


He has designed a circular unit with a fan in the back to house sweaters.


Cabinet doors are available with self-closing hinges that slowly shut automatically. Closet units can feature baskets for laundry that can be lifted out and carried to the washer.


Elements that pull out -- valet rods, tie and belt racks, seats and mirrors -- save steps as well as space.


"The most important is find out what you're buying . . . Know what you're getting," Davis said. "Know how it's constructed. Is there a guarantee? Will (the company) be there for me?"


"If you come in to look around, bring the dimensions of the room. It doesn't have to be exact," Lantz said.


Also know the locations of such features as vents and sloping ceilings.



National Association of Professional Organizers:


Shannon's Organizing Service:,, (248) 854-7037


Logical Placement: (810) 348-1772,,


Organized Business Solutions: (248) 661-3483,


Closet Man Co.: (248) 244-8774


California Closets: in Troy, (248) 816-9774; in Walled Lake, (248) 624-1234 | (248) 901-2569


Originally published January 19, 2006




Betty and Logical Placement LLCSM services Southeast Michigan

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Betty Huotari, Professional Organizer.
Full service organizing company that specializes in residential and personal organizing for Southeast Michigan.

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