Author Archives Lisa_Hidgon_Professional_Organizer

Organized to Survive the Remodel

Posted by Lisa_Hidgon_Professional_Organizer on July 13, 2012  /   Posted in Blog

I’ve ordered the cabinets. I’m ready with the crow bar to rip out the 80 year old kitchen. I’m getting excited! I’m picturing my new kitchen where water doesn’t flow through the countertops to the floor. I can see myself cooking in this wonderful new space… but I haven’t thought much about the time between tear out and brand new.

Those cabinets that I’m about to trash are full of things. Precious, wonderful, useful things that I’ve collected over the years. I’ve got to get it all out of the cabinets before the demolition. Also, there will be at least three weeks that I will have no operable kitchen. The pizza place is on speed dial, the paper plates are stocked, and I know we can eat on the back porch; but that’s really not much of a plan.

Time, space, and food money are big items that we often fail to put into our remodeling budget.

A little planning and organizing will make life easier during the remodel. Don’t wait until the cabinets arrive and the contractor is scheduled for the next day. Start a couple of weeks before the work begins. Before you start to empty the cabinets, look at the big picture. There has to be a place where the family can prepare a limited menu of food There have to be dishes and utensils to use. There has to be a place for eating, and a place for cleanup.

Where can you set up a temporary kitchen? The temporary space needs to have enough electrical outlets, room for a work table, and adequate lighting. It’s best if it is near a water supply. Even if you use paper plates and plasticware you will still need some water for food prep and clean up. If the refrigerator can be moved into this space that is best. The fridge is easy to move as it takes a standard power outlet, but remember that the water line for ice will be disconnected. Moving ranges to a temporary location is usually not feasible because it involves running a gas line or a 240 volt power source. Count on the sink being totally gone for most of the project. Consider where you will store non refrigerated foods.

Once you’ve chosen the place, you need to decide what to bring to it. Take some notes as you cook and eat for a few days. Notice what equipment you use the most. Think about the meals you make and whether they will be ones you can make with small appliances like your microwave, toaster oven, or electric skillet. Meatloaf no. Pizza – if it can be done in the toaster oven, yes. Plan what types of food you are going to eat during this time. Think about breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Brainstorm for ideas and keep it simple.

With this plan in mind, it’s time to empty those cabinets. Usually when decluttering we look at three categories: give away – get it out of your house, put away – find a logical place for it, and throw away – it will never be “another man’s treasure.” You can use this method when you are packing up your cabinets. However, with a remodel, the put away has a twist. Some items have to be set aside for the temp kitchen and some will be put in storage.

Have boxes ready for storage and give away, and garbage bags for the real trash. This is the time to purge. Consider each item. Will it have a place in your new kitchen? Now is the time to decide if you really still want all those souvenir cups from Yankee Stadium. Keep? Give Away? Trash? Do you ever use the milkshake machine? Keep? Okay. Storage or temp kitchen? Keep the temp kitchen to a minimum. Those of us who camp know this mindset already. One or two sharp knives will do for the short term even if you own a whole chef’s set. As much as you can, set up the temp kitchen as you go through this process. Consider leaving the utensils for the temp kitchen in the existing cabinet drawers. When D-day arrives just remove the drawers and bring them to the temp space.

A little planning ahead will make things simpler during the remodel and it will make the move into your new kitchen even easier. You may find that after living simply for a few weeks, you will purge even more when unpacking those boxes of stored must keep items.

Life Organization Albany NY

Just One Thing… Tips on How to Organize During the Dog Days of Summer

Posted by Lisa_Hidgon_Professional_Organizer on July 09, 2012  /   Posted in Blog

It is tooo hot! This summer is turning out to be one of those sticky ones. It’s one of those “don’t want to do a thing but sit and melt” kind of summers. All those ideas about getting the house clean and organized while the kids are on vacation and things are a little more laid back are starting to go out the window.

Don’t let it happen! July is the perfect time to get things done. By August you’ll be gearing up for fall again. Here’s how to get started. Pick one thing, and do it S-L-O-W-L-Y.  We up here in the northern states don’t understand that we really can’t fight the weather. In the southern states and the islands, they get it. They work with it.

With so much clutter and so little summer, how do you possibly choose one project? Go through your rooms one by one. Take some notes. Consider which one causes the most chaos in your life, or which one would be the easiest to complete.

Pick it apart. What exactly is the problem? What would the ideal situation look like? Is it clutter? Dirt? Traffic? Too much furniture? A closet full of clothes you don’t wear? Picture what the ideal situation would look like?

Start working on your “one thing” in the morning when the weather is cool, and then take a break. It’s not important to conquer it all at once. Fifteen minutes before work, an hour, whatever you can do is great. Remember you are just chipping away at it. Most projects will look worse before they look better. It’s a natural part of the process. Plan a place for the unsettled to be, and let yourself be okay with that.

When my pantry gets to the  point of no return, and really needs an overhaul, I take out a card table to put things on as I work. I have things in it, on it, and under it in the middle of my tiny kitchen. It’s in the way, but it’s temporary. If I can’t finish the job in one session, I can live with the table in the way for a few days. It’s kind of a motivator. Just don’t put the stuff in a place that will disrupt other areas of your life. If you put the discards from your closet on your bed, it will be a problem at bedtime. Even a pile on the floor would be a better place. A box that can be filled and brought right to charity would be better.

If you give yourself permission to do a project a little at a time, you won’t beat yourself up for not finishing it in one session. Sometimes we exhaust ourselves trying to finish.

If you have trouble stopping, use a timer. A timer is an organizing tool that many people use to make themselves get started and work for a minimum amount of time on an undesirable task. But in these “dog days” it can be used to keep you from overdoing and burning out.

Just remember, one project, one session at  a time. Before you know it’ll be done! You’ll be feeling the energy, and feeling the positive effects of you efforts! You’ll be motivated to look back at your notes and plan the next project. But wait! Pour yourself a nice glass of iced tea, sit back, and admire what you’ve accomplished.

Home Organizing Albany New York

It’s Habit Forming!

Posted by Lisa_Hidgon_Professional_Organizer on June 29, 2012  /   Posted in Blog

There are people who are just organized. I hate them. No, I’m not one of them, despite my reputation. If you know me, you know that I can let my papers go, or the laundry, or the dishes… but the pain it causes is not worth it; the frustration of searching for things, the anxiety of being late, and the time lost are just a few of the problems.

It is said that organized people have habits that keep them organized; and that  you only have to do something 672 times for it to become a habit. Ok, that’s sarcasm, not a real statistic. But what the experts are talking about are routines.

According to, routine can be a adjective or  a noun. As an adjective it means normal, usual, common, everyday, habitual, ordinary. As a noun it is, a customary or regular course of procedure. regular, unvarying, habitual, unimaginative.

By these definitions, routine might be considered negative or boring; but they are the key to organization. Both the noun and adjective definitions of routine include the word habitual. Routines become habit when we are not paying attention.

At one point in time, I was following an organizing professional on line. She encouraged developing routines such as making the bed as soon as you got out of it, and cleaning up a bit every day. Recently my husband commented that I didn’t seem to by following her any more. Just the opposite was true. What had really happened was that I had incorporated her advice into my daily routines (and so had he btw.) These forced routines have become so much of our daily habit that he didn’t even remember that they were originally someone else’s idea.

I used to be teacher of troubled teenagers. They often had problems transitioning from one class to another and settling into their work. I developed a routine for them for when they entered my classroom. They knew that they were to put their homework papers in a rack by my desk, put their books in the designated place, and check the DO NOW that was posted on the board. The DO NOW, was an introduction to the day’s lesson. Following this routine became habit for them, and that was the key. It enabled them to focus on learning.

We can set this up for ourselves and/or for our families. For ourselves we could put a note on the coffeepot, “Don’t make the coffee until you empty the dishwasher!”  Do what that note says and soon it will become habit. You will notice that when it’s time to make dinner, the dishwasher is ready and there is no backup from breakfast in the sink.

Put a dry erase board up in the kitchen with an expectations for the family. It could be a reminder have them check the backpacks for homework before dinner; or to walk the dog as soon as they come home. Does it take some getting used to? Yes. Will it mean instructing your spouse or kids to look at the board to begin with? Yes. A good trick is to occasionally put something outrageous or fun on the board to create interest, and to keep them paying attention.

Don’t overwhelm yourself. Start by choosing one thing for yourself and/or your family to work on. When this becomes the routine you will notice things will going more smoothly. A habit will have developed!

Life Organization Albany NY

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