Get Organized: Arrange your photos for easy access- November 2007

A space all their own- February 11, 2007
Top 10 Home Organizing Tips- March 2007
Get Organized: Put papers in their place- April 1, 2007

Press Release- May 19, 2005

Get Organized: Arrange your photos for easy access- November 2007

Drowning in photos from the past? Here are a few tips to help with your photo memories going forward.

* Find a size and style of album that you like and buy four to eight of them, depending on how many pictures you have. Buying bulk in advance ensures that you will have an album when you need it and it will match your collection.

* Purchase photo boxes. You will need one or two less than the number of albums you purchase.

* Whether you use an online service to print your photos or develop them the good old-fashioned way, make sure all photos or photo batches are properly titled and dated.

* Once you have the photos in your possession they should be placed in the album immediately. Any extras that you may not want in the album can be placed in a photo box. Any bad photos should be discarded. There's no sense in taking up space with photos that will not be looked at or used.

* When archiving your photo memories, you have two choices. Some people like to have a second copy on hand to share or even for their own use. If that is the case, a full or partial set should be put into an archive photo box, once again labeled and dated. The second option is to create or purchase a computer disk containing your photos. Place this in a photo box as well. Some people, including me, like to put a year-end copy in a safe deposit box. I usually do this in January with a disk that contains all photos from the previous year.

* Whether you store photos or disks in the archive box, they should be put in chronological order so they can be easily referenced in the future. Write dates on the outside of the archive boxes.

Jennifer Caddigan is a professional organizer with Piece of Mind in Groveland and a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers.

A space all their own- February 11, 2007

By Julie Kirkwood , Staff Writer

When Susan Ekman got the chance to add a new master bedroom onto her 1920s Andover home, she deliberately chose to sacrifice floor space in order to have more room for closets.

Her old closet was traditional: a pole and a shelf.

The new master bedroom has two walk-in closets, one for her husband and one for her. His has a pull-out belt rack, shelving for folded shirts and a sliding chrome bin for shirts to go to the dry cleaner. Hers has shoe racks and shoe cubbies, two levels of hangers and shelves for purses. It even has a window.

"It's amazing how they can get you so organized in a space to the point where we don't really need bureaus anymore," Ekman said.

It's no joke. Closets are replacing bedroom furniture in a lot of homes, said Nick Ardagna, owner of Closet Classics of Andover.

"(Homeowners) want open space in their bedroom," he said. "They're building bigger closets, and they want everything in there."

It's a fast-growing trend, one that local closet installers say is part of a bigger movement toward better home organization overall.

"It was probably just a couple years ago when you started seeing all those shows on Home and Garden (Television), all the different ways of organizing and getting rid of clutter," said Gwen Larsen, owner of All in Order Pro in Salem, N.H.

Local closet companies typically sell one brand of organizing products. (Larsen installs "elfa." Ardagna installs "ORG.") Usually a specialist visits the client's home, measures the closets and talks to the client about the things they need to store. Then they sketch a closet organizing system, sometimes on a computer, and give a free estimate. If you like it, they install it.

The process can cost as little as $275 for a 3-foot reach-in closet or tens of thousands of dollars for a walk-in closet that's bigger than some people's bedrooms.

Ardagna is installing a $20,000 closet for a client in Wakefield. The closet is 14 by 20 feet. When finished, it will have an island, drawers, wardrobe doors, crown molding and base molding, and window seats under the windows.

The typical price for a professionally remodeled closet is about $800 to $1,000 for a child's 6-foot reach-in closet, Ardanga said, and about $2,000 for a walk-in bedroom closet.

Ekman's walk-in closet is big enough that it feels like a dressing room, she said.

"It's amazing because everything you own is right there," she said.

She and her husband are just moving into the new space right now.

"Hopefully, we'll be really organized now because we have no excuse not to be," Ekman said.

Amazing closets

Why would somebody pay $2,000 or more to have their walk-in bedroom closet outfitted by a professional? Here are some of the structures and gadgets that $2,000 pays for (these items are sold together as part of closet systems), in addition to the visit by a professional to measure the space and help you decide exactly how many of each piece you need:

Double-hung clothing racks - Rather than one bar, new closets double the rack space by having two: one at waist height and one at chest height. These fit shirts, pants and items that are short, which encompasses the majority of the typical wardrobe. It's the rare person who needs more than 20 percent of their closet space for full-length dresses and coats. Some people may not need any long hanging space.

Drawers and shelves - In many cases they can install enough of these so you won't need a bureau.

Belt and tie storage - Sliding racks can be pulled out from the wall or shelving unit to make a selection, then tucked back in for storage.

Shoe storage - You can choose tilted fixtures that look like shoe store display racks, small cubbies and extra shelves.

Hamper - Tilt-out hampers look like drawers when closed. Sliding drawer hampers can be incorporated into shelving units, too.

Valet hanger - A little bar pulls out from the wall for temporary extra hanging space. Use it to hang clothes that have just come back from the dry cleaner or for setting out tomorrow's outfit.

Jewelry drawer - A shallow drawer can be filled with a special velvet liner that looks just like the inside of a jewelry box. These drawers can have locks to protect valuables.
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Top 10 Home Organizing Tips- March 2007
Newburyport Chamber of Commerce, Navigator article

1. Before starting an organizing project, schedule an appointment with yourself or whomever may be helping you with the project. Set a start and stop time. Doing so will prevent the project from seeming unending. When starting organizing projects always break them down into manageable tasks - smaller projects always seem less intimidating.

2. Try to eliminate unwanted or unused items, the more you have the more you have to keep organized. Each season (or once a quarter for you business-minded people) is a nice schedule for downsizing. Keep like items, or items with similar purposes, stored together in one place.

3. Use square or rectangular storage containers (not round) for all items being stored (food, memorabilia, clothing etc.). This maximizes space in refrigerator, closet, bookshelves (unless of course you have a round closet or refrigerator!).

4. All things should have a home in a place that the items will be most efficiently used – if something doesn’t have a designated home or a home that is too far away, chances are it isn’t going to get put back!

5. Schedule regular appointments and tasks to coincide with dates that you’ll remember, i.e. doctors appointments in your birthday month, eye appointments in the 0’s and 5’s of your age. No one forgets their birthday even if they want to!

6. Keep “memorabilia” boxes for each member of the family. Store them in a place that will be remembered and easily accessed. Let the individual decide what qualifies as memorabilia.

7. Designate a staging area for items that you may be uncertain about or that may be in transition. Choose a room that is not used often or even large storage bins that can be brought to an attic or base ment. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and keep your living area clear until you are ready to start up again. Just be sure you start up again!

8. Create an “out box” by the door most frequently used. Purchases to be returned, movie rentals, things to be mailed. All can be placed in that container and taken on your way out the door. This will eliminate the chance of misplacing the items throughout the house or office.

9. Designate the beginning of the year as a time to purge your file cabinet of all inactive folders and create any new files needed for the new year. All tax related items for the previous year should be pulled as well. If you don’t have a file cabinet purchase one of any variety just make sure it allows you room to grow!

10. Keep filing systems simple, categories, subcategories and color coding actually complicates a system, keep them to a minimum. The best system is the ABC system. Most everyone knows the alphabet!

These organizing tips were created by:
Jennifer Caddigan of Piece of Mind
A personal organzing service for your home and office
15 Philbrick Street •Groveland MA 01834

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Get Organized: Put papers in their place- April 1, 2007

Tax season is the perfect time to review your files and archive or dispose of what you won't be using in the coming year. Perhaps you feel bombarded with paper, you don't know where to find important documents at a moments notice or you feel haunted by tax season. Well, just one simple tool can solve all of the problems if owned and used properly: a file cabinet.

Simple equipment

The cabinet doesn't need to be expensive or fancy, just large enough to hold important papers.

In addition to a file cabinet, you will need file folders and hanging folders. Although it has been said that color-coding is helpful, it actually makes the system more difficult to use because you have to remember what each color represents. If you do decide to use colors, try to stick to just two or three. I also prefer straight-cut folders opposed to tabbed. It can be very confusing and time-consuming to be reading titles on folders that are placed right, left, middle and sometimes two additional places in between.


1. If you already own a file cabinet, the first step in the organizing process would be to purge the cabinet of any files that are no longer current. Files can either be archived or disposed of. Please keep in mind that if you are recycling or throwing papers away you should make sure there is no information on them that could be stolen for fraud or identity theft. Once you have purged the cabinet, remove the remaining files and place them aside.

2. Begin by placing 26 hanging folders in your drawer/container. Create tabs with letters from A-Z. Start by placing the A tab in the left most corner and continue to place each letter after, forming a diagonal line. You should be able to have A-I in your first run. Continue the pattern until you get to Z.

3. The next step is to create file folders. You'll have to decide if you want the titles to reflect the names of the companies you use (XWZ Life Insurance Co.) or just simply state what it is (Life Insurance). Choose titles for the folders that will be easy to remember for all users of the cabinet.

4. Once you have labeled all of your folders, transfer the paperwork into them. It is usually best to keep the most current info at the front of the folder and then place the rest in descending order behind.

5. Your last step is to just simply alphabetize the folders, yes alphabetize. Doesn't get any more straight forward than that. It is a "system" that just about anybody can figure out. Categories and subcategories can be time consuming and lead to confusion. Once the folders are alphabetized, simply slip them into the hanging folder with the appropriate letter.

6. Stand back and admire!

Jennifer Caddigan is a professional organizer with Piece of Mind, based in Groveland, and a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers.
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Press Release- May 19, 2005

Piece of Mind Marks 5 Years of Professional Organizing

Firm Specializes in Helping New Retirees & Seniors Organize Their Homes

South Boston, MA, May 19, 2005 – Piece of Mind, a professional organizing firm based in South Boston, is celebrating five years in business with a new specialty. In response to an increase in demand from Baby Boomers for help with downsizing or de-cluttering their parents’ homes, Piece of Mind is now focusing on the senior market.

“I’ve been doing more work with older clients and find it very satisfying,” says Jennifer Palm, founder and president of Piece of Mind. “They have accumulated so many treasures over the years and have a unique perspective about not wanting to throw things out or be wasteful. It’s challenging and rewarding to help them wade through their belongings and make important decisions about what to keep and what to sell, donate or toss.”

Included in Piece of Mind’s fees is their work with area appraisers, consignment shops, charities and recyclers to responsibly handle the things a client no longer needs. Rather than leaving a bunch of boxes for her client to deal with after a project, Palm takes them with her and coordinates any sales to antique dealers or consignment shops. Knowing that their treasures may help them pay for a vacation or serve a purpose for a needy family often helps clients let go, she says.

Besides helping retirees and seniors, Piece of Mind helps clients of all ages organize their offices, kitchens, closets, basements, attics and garages – or an entire home if necessary. Professional organizing is especially helpful, Palm says, before and after a move.

“Having someone organize your things before you pack can make unpacking much simpler,” she says. “And once you’re in your new location, a professional organizer can help you set up in a way that will simplify your life at work, at home or both.”

Piece of Mind, founded by Jennifer Palm in 2000, is a professional organizing firm that specializes in helping new retirees and seniors organize their homes. The company works alongside clients to wade through and sort the photos, papers, mementos, household goods and seasonal items they have accumulated in attics, basements, closets and cupboards. Piece of Mind also works with appraisers, consignment shops, charities and recycling groups to find the right home for any items that clients choose to discard. Palm is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers-New England Chapter. Find more information at or by calling 978-388-5356.
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