Book Review – Organizing for the Spirit


book review - organizing for the spirit

Organizing for the Spirit – Syncing your Belongings and Life Goals for Purposeful Living

In our quests to get organized, we find on the internet, bulleted how-to’s, lists of things to toss, and helpful blogs, books and articles with solutions to our organizing problems. While these are very useful for achieving short-term organizing goals, they sometimes don’t get at the heart of why we save things, how we store them, or how and why things might get disorganized.

Sunny Schlenger’s approach to organizing stands out in that it encourages us to introspect and examine our physical belongings and put them in an emotional and personal/historical context.

In a beautifully written book that defies genres (it’s a bit self-help, a bit of a memoir, and a bit of a how-to, only with soul-searching undertones), Sunny invites the reader to contextualize their belongings and clutter in terms of how they relate to the past, present and future.

For Sunny, respecting our attachment to things and using our revelations as a springboard for making adjustments, not just to our immediate environments, but to our lives, is what is really required to achieve lasting change.

Our surroundings often signify what is going on in our inner lives, so understanding those relationships can benefit us greatly and help us create meaningful futures that reflect our desire for happiness as well as our current life goals.

The book is a joy to read and includes interesting anecdotes and topics such as “synchronicity,” “being in the now,” “being authentic” and “having gratitude.” A delightful mixture of East and West, in its skillful blending of soul searching and practicality, Organizing for the Spirit is a short, yet rich-in-content book to read on a weekend, and you’re likely to not want to put it down.

For more information about Sunny and her history, read the Interview with an Organizer feature on the Organize-It Blog. You can purchase Organizing for the Spirit on Amazon and find out more about Sunny and Flow Coaching on her website.


6 Clever Ways to Add Vertical Storage in Your Home


Vertical Space - 6 WaysOut of room? Maybe not. Try adding vertical storage in underused areas.

Not enough closets? Cupboards too small? Don’t despair because we’re going to help you magically make storage space when you think you ran out. Look, up in the sky. It’s an over-door storage rack – no, a garage rafter hoist… Think vertically. Think outside the storage box – and buy stackable ones while you’re out there. Careful planning, a little bit of elbow grease, and a few useful products put to good use on a Saturday afternoon is all you need to get organized. Fact is, you have lots of space around your home you aren’t using… We’ll help you locate it.

Hanging Closet Shelves Shelves

Hanging closet shelves make good use of closet space and add room for sweaters, shirts and other clothing. They’re available in different widths and store a lot more than a similar span of hanging clothes, as they use the vertical space beneath the rod.

Stacking Plastic Boxes

Stacking plastic boxes come in a variety of sizes, some with interlocking features for more secure stacking. Shoe boxes, photo boxes and larger airtight boxes are useful for storing a variety of items in your closet on the shelves or on floor if room permits. Stacking boxes are a versatile way to add vertical storage in unused areas of your home (under beds, on basement shelves, etc.).

Hanging Accessory Holders

Hanging accessory holders including scarf, belt and tie holders keep your favorite accessories accessible and consolidated for easier outfit staging or grab-and-go dressing in the morning. They occupy vertical hanging space in your closet and keep your drawers free for clothing.

Wall-Mount Shelves

Around your home, in your garage, your basement, the kitchen, and even in your closet, you’re likely to have unused overhead space that begs for a utilitarian and/or functionally attractive storage display. Pottery might find a home above kitchen windows, and a small shelf can be mounted over a door for infrequently-used items. Most shelves come with hardware and only require a drill and a level for installing. The best part is that they come in a range of widths and can be stacked in multiples – as many as you have space for. While built-in shelves are often desirable for their aesthetics, decorative brackets are available to dress up shelving and can transform ordinary wall shelves into attractive additions to your decor.

Ceiling Racks

When you’ve overfilled your cupboard, wall and other storage space, look to the sky for creative storage solutions. Whether it’s pot and pan ceiling racks, or garage rafter storage, you’ll appreciate the extra room and, with the right racks, it will look neat while freeing other valuable real estate.

Over-Door Racks

Doors provide lots of valuable vertical storage in spaces that are underutilized. Over-door hat, purse, shoe and other over-door storage racks provide TONS of storage. These are really great for small homes, apartments and dorms.

Wall-Mount Pot and Pan Racks

Horizonal, wall-mounted pot racks can be stacked up the wall to accommodate pots, pans and utensils. Aside from using up vertical space, these racks make it convenient for cooking – especially if you have room for them near your stove or food prep area. Large racks may include shelves and ceiling pot racks (see above) are another possible storage option.

These are only a few solutions for making vertical storage in your home. Feel free to make your own creative solutions and even share some of your ideas here on our blog. If you struggle with small-space storage issues, you might also enjoy your small kitchen post, as well as our overhead storage slideshow.


Travel Tips – 28 Things You Need to Know Before Getting Off that Plane


travel tips main photo

Traveling this summer? Here are some useful travel tips to help you prepare.

Summer is the time for many of us to use our vacation time, so we seek out adventures in exotic or otherwise compelling locales. Here are some super-useful travel tips to keep in mind as you plan your escapades. Being over prepared is great and can prevent mishaps, but being spontaneous also makes for a fun vacation. Ideally, a balance of the two will give you the combination of excitement and relaxation you crave and deserve.

  1. For foreign travel – research the country you plan to visit. Are there travel advisories or other developments that could interfere with your plans? Getting stranded in Bangkok due to an airport political protest can be a real drag. Believe me. Lonely Planet is a great online travel resource and even has a booking search engine (no, we are not affiliated with them).
  2. Don’t pack too many clothes, but pack as many as you will wear – a dressy outfit for dinner out, something warm for cool nights, and comfortable clothing appropriate for your planned activities.
  3. Check local customs for attire before packing. You may choose to blend with the locals, or maybe not, depending on where you are going. In some instances, you may want to wear a disguise. Seriously.
  4. Not to sound bossy, but you might want to be culturally sensitive. You’re a guest and you probably don’t want to inadvertently offend someone by not making it your business to learn a bit about their customs. Touching someone’s head in Thailand might get you in dutch, and a racy top could get you booted from the temple tour. There are plenty of resources online (again, Lonely Planet is tops).
  5. Try eating the local food rather than just dining at the restaurants tailored to tourists. You will be glad you had the experience of fried grass hoppers and it’s really respectful to utilize all parts of the animal. No, really.
  6. Learn some common phrases if you are visiting a foreign country. It will make it easier to accomplish simple tasks like getting your check, and foreigners are likely to appreciate that you made the effort. “Thank you,” “What does this cost?” “Another drink, please,” and “Where the heck am I?” come to mind.
  7. Make a checklist for packing, one for booking tasks, and one for the administrative tasks you need to do at home to prepare for your absence (i.e., bills, mail forwarding, etc.).
  8. Bring extra batteries for your devices, as they may be hard to find in other countries. Also bring an appropriate charging adaptor for the country you are visiting. If you’re not sure what type you need, here’s a good resource.
  9. Buy medical insurance for your trip. It isn’t that expensive and, should something happen, you’ll be glad you did.
  10. Tell your bank or credit card companies where you are going. Many of them will block your card as soon as they see a foreign charge.
  11. Bring comfortable walking shoes. Really, like broken-in tennis shoes – not brand new ones. Blisters can ruin a trip.
  12. Mark your luggage in some way to make it distinct. You can spot it easier on the conveyors if it doesn’t look just like everyone else’s. Use pink tape, skull or flower-power stickers, or whatever is likely to grab your attention.
  13. Keep your most important papers, essentials and valuables with you on the plane. Probably half the times I have traveled, my luggage got delayed or lost. You can keep them in a backpack or other small carry-on bag.
  14. Tip hotel staff and other service people. They work hard and generally make little in hourly wages. While you can do it at the end of the stay, doing it daily might result in better service. You can check online to see what is appropriate for the service and for the locale.
  15. Make a digital copy of any documents you might need traveling and email to yourself in the event you lose the originals. This might include your airline tickets, passport, and other i.d.
  16. Bring any important phone numbers with you in the event you need to contact someone back home. I’m not trying to make you compulsive and yet…
  17. Consider committing other important information like hotel names to paper – in addition to adding to your phone apps. You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget a name, especially if it’s in a foreign language or you’re walking down a sandy beach with 30 competing hotels that all look alike and have similar names. Also, sometimes batteries die, phones break, and being without some information until you can charge or fix it could be potentially inconvenient.
  18. Learn to pack efficiently. There are lots of video sources online, but rolling jeans up small is one method. Stuff socks or accessories inside of shoes to maximize space. Roll-up, hanging jewelry holders are space-efficient for luggage and can be hung in your hotel closet. Vacuum bags rock for maximizing space in your luggage.
  19. Bring a book (or two if you’re a fast reader). There will be down time and bad movies.
  20. Invest in luggage with wheels or carts for your non-mobile luggage. Your back will thank you.
  21. Don’t forget luggage labels. This is another way to make your luggage stand out on the conveyer for pickup. Buy pink ones, neon glow, animal print, or whatever strikes your fancy.
  22. Toilet paper, tissue paper – bring some. Does your vacation country have public restrooms?
  23. Invest in a money belt or discreet wallet or holder to secure and conceal your valuables.
  24. Be careful using wifi in public places as it may not be secure. Be especially cautious doing financial activities when using free services.
  25. Engage with residents (locals) for suggestions on restaurants, stores and things to do. Of course, you want to plan ahead and research, but insider tips will likely reveal some little hidden-gem-of-a-cafe or other venue that didn’t make it into the travel “touristy” guides.
  26. Carry a mini-first-aid kit with you that includes things like Motrin, Band-aids, tweezers, ear plugs, a snake-bite kit, and other essentials.
  27. Purchase a travel bottle (or two) and keep water with you so you can stay hydrated.
  28. Feel free to plan, but also be flexible enough to bounce back from mishaps and be sure to schedule some down time, as vacations should be both exhilarating AND rejuvenating.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my travel tips. Do you have any tips you’d like to share?

Thai grasshoppers