Organizing Tips

Organizing A Halloween Trunk N’ Treat Party In 9 Easy Steps

Are you planning an alternative Trunk’n Treat Halloween celebration for kids and families this year?

For neighborhoods that aren’t conducive to sidewalk trick and treating, Trunk’n Treat parties are a safe, fun alternative to Halloween.

I found a great article on WikiHow that provided good tips for planning this type of celebration and thought that I would add my two cents and share it with you.


Families join together to host a small mim-carnival now known as Trunk’n Treat  celebrations. This is an easy way to create an alternative activity for this year’s Halloween.

Adults organize and prepare booths that children can walk around to, play games, and receive prizes/candy.

You can easily organize this effort by following these 9 steps:

1. Find a venue that will hold your anticipated crowd. For instance is there lighting, parking and wide lanes to walk.

Parking Lot

2. Recruit friends and volunteers to help with parking and setting up booths and overseeing group activities.


3. Determine what type of games will work the best – i.e. bean bag games, art projects, face painting etc.

Art Projects 4. Make a sign for each game that explains guidelines and prizes.

Create List 5. Decide if the children will receive grab bags, prizes or candy.

Prizes 6. Each booth should plan on providing at least 50 treats each.

Candy 7. Get entertainers to appear at designated times.

Witch entertainer 8. Make sure that everyone knows the guidelines for the booths and other entries like whether the cars will be lighted or simply decorated. Also if trucks and vans are acceptable.

Trunk'n-Treat-for-Halloween 9. Decide in advance  based on the age of the children involved and inform attendees whether loud or scary noises are acceptable.

Pumpkin in candy After all is planned and setup, enjoy a night of fun and family!

*All images are licensed by Creative Commons Uploaded by: Wikivisual/addSpace




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Organizing bathrooms

Dear Kathi,

My bathroom is small and very disorganized. We just moved in to this new condo and I would love to hear tips about streamlining and making sense of all of our stuff. To make matters more difficult, my husband and I share one sink.



You are fortunate to be able to start with empty drawers, medicine cabinet and under counter areas. If you already have put things in, pull them all out again.

You will need to toss old items that you will never use and sort the remaining. Throw out anything with an expired date and all perishables over one year old. Even toothpaste expires; the expiration date is on the crimp of the tube.

Sort all remaining items into like categories.
If you have an unreasonably large collection of lipsticks, nail polish or perfume, pare it down. Get rid of old colors and the excess that you will never use. Any amount over what you might be able to use in one year should go. Sort by item, category, and color. If you have duplicate or similar colors, unless it is your signature color, get rid of all but one. Replace each element of your streamlined collection as you use it up to conserve precious space in the meantime.

Keep your makeup all in one area, preferably in a container. The same for your husband’s shave crème and razor. Ceramic bowls are decorative, keep items from cluttering up the counter and expedite cleaning the counter top.

Attach a long magnet behind the door of your medicine cabinet to cleverly and neatly hold tweezers, clippers and other metal gadgets.
Consider installing a wire shelf by the sink to hold toiletries that you use every day, such as powders, sprays and creams. Hang a simple s-hook (found in any hardware store) by the side of the shelf to hold your hairdryer. Simply tie a knot in the hairdryer cord and pass it through the hook.

Use small plastic bins with drawers for under the bathroom sink. One drawer can be for lips, another for hair, and the third for eyes. Use whichever categories you need. Usually two plastic drawer units fit, with room in between and by the drain pipe for stand up items like shampoo bottles and suntan lotion.

If you don’t need two sets of little drawers, buy plastic stacking bins for the other side to contain like items with like. Use your imagination to find the proper containers to group all like items together.

No bathroom should be without some sort of shower caddy. The basic type is constructed of wire and hangs below the shower head. Whatever variety you choose, these caddies neatly hold your shampoos, soaps, shaving crèmes and lotions. Install a fog free mirror against the back wall for your husband. Look for a style that also holds his razor and shave crème.

If you have a large enough bathroom, buy a coat tree, or standing coat rack. Or install two or three attractive hooks on the back of the bathroom door. These are useful places to hang bathrobes and nighties as well as provide an extra hook for the occasional houseguest.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Organizing a cluttered and messy garage

Q: I need help! My garage has everything in it but my car, which can’t fit because of all of the other stuff in it. I don’t even know where to begin.

A: Don’t despair, clutter is a challenge that we all face. To begin, remove everything from your garage. I know this sounds intimidating, but this is the only way you will clearly see what you are holding onto. Start three piles outside on the lawn and separate your clutter into: throw away, donate and keep. Follow this rule: keep only what you’ve used in the past year or plan on using in the near future, i.e. within six months! If you can’t part with something because it has sentimental value, consider whether it’s the item that holds the good memories or simply the memory itself that is good. Remember that memories take up a lot less space than the items associated with them.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Organize Your Time ~ Maximize Your Efficiency

If you are a committed worker, you certainly have your little tricks to maximize efficiency and increase productivity. Also, you should be aware that saving time is quite important. Let’s go through some productivity tips that might be helpful.

Organize Your Real Time

Remember that the time marked by the clock and real time don’t always match. Basically, it is important to remember that real time is the time devoted to work, which should always be your point of reference. If, for instance, you have 8 or 9 hours, you will probably be able to use 6 of them to complete your job, considering breaks, loss of attention, phone calls and distractions. “6 hours” is your real time. Be realistic with respect to the time available and you’ll be able to offer realistic deadlines.

Organize Your Effort and Your Calendar

Small sprints are very efficient. When you have a big project, break it up into a series of smaller goals. This will ease the pressure and it will also allow you to be more efficient, as Gantt demonstrated. Furthermore, use your calendar in an intelligent way, so that it will contain all the relevant data without requiring excessive attention. There are many programs that can save you time, energy and stress, you should learn how to use them. If you use Google Mail, for instance, you can opt for Google Calendar. You can also try Streak, it is very easy to use and extremely helpful. Plus, there are all kinds of applications that help you synchronize the calendar with your smartphone.

Organize Your Working Life

Productivity is measured not only in terms of operational skills, which constitute only a small part of your working life. Brainstorming, meetings and research sessions are, in fact, extremely important too. You have to make sure you leave enough time for these activities, because creativity and knowledge are essential if you want to maximize your productivity. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, if you spend enough time thinking you will do things faster.

Also, close anxiety and worries out of the office. Among the many distractions that characterize a working day, there are many small things that are related to your personal life and that can deeply affect your productivity. Finding a good school for your children, knowing they are safe, hiring a trustworthy person to take care of the house and finding a reliable company to look after your yard (here is an example, if you are looking for a good one), are all ways to increase your inner peace and your productivity.

Knowing that you will return to a clean, welcoming house with a garden full of flowers and colors, and having the certainty that your children are happy and safe, will free your mind and will save you a lot of precious time that you would otherwise spend preoccupying for everything and everyone. Your productivity and your efficiency are truly the consequence of your skills but never forget to take care of your emotions. We are, and we will always be, much more than workers: we are human beings.

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Organizing mail


I get so much mail at my office. What is the best way to sort through it and not have piles of mail overtaking my desk all of the time?

Leslie, Cardiff


As you receive mail, sort and toss immediately. Throw out every letter, flier or advertisement that you know is junk right away. Don’t let it touch your desk. Remove the outer envelopes from the important mail and put the letters in a designated waiting area on your desk. If you get numerous publications that you must read, flip through these quickly as they arrive and tear out the important articles. Put these loose articles in a basket or bag with a handle. When you take a lunch break or go home, your reading is ready to go with you and removed from your desk permanently. A few minutes each day will save you many hours of frustration each month.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Purging clothes closet

Dear Kathi,

My clothes closet is bulging at the seams! How do I decide what to keep and what to get rid of?

Lyn, Encinitas


One technique is to go quickly through your clothes and discard everything that you haven’t worn in the last year. Keep a fast pace, make quick decisions and do not hesitate. Put these neglected clothes in large garbage bags and don’t look back. Seal the bags, put them immediately into the trunk of your car and take them away to your favorite charity. This might sound tough but trust me; you will not miss these items. If you do happen to think about them once or twice, get over it! Realize that over 80% of the clothes in the average closet will only see the light of day once a year. What a waste of space! Why not keep only the clothes that make you feel and look fabulous? In future columns there will be more tips about clothes that will make you look fabulous.


Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Business card organizing

Dear Kathi,

What do you recommend for organizing business cards? I have filled up a card box and divided them by organization but am now out of room! I like the idea of the plastic sleeve, but not sure I want to go that route.

Debbie, Encinitas


Plastic sleeves are great if you use a three ring binder with pre-made alphabetical tabs or categorical tabs that you create yourself.
With the alphabetical tabs, when you fill up a page containing a popular letter like “s” (“s” always seems to fill first!), you can simply add a new plastic sleeve and keep filling. The hazard of the alphabetical plastic sleeve is that if you forget the company name, you have to go through the entire binder.

Card boxes are good until you run out of room, at which point you are faced with deciding whether to subdivide or begin anew.
If you do create a new box or binder, what will differentiate one from the other and how will you remember who is where two months from now?
The ultimate plan of attack is to maintain a contact management list (such as using Outlook, Act or Entourage) on your computer. These programs store all of your contact information as data so that you have numerous options and fields to retrieve your information from.

A contact management program combined with a business card scanner will take you light years into the future. Business card scanners work quickly by saving your data into fields. Some even save the business card logo and image! It takes a while to learn the technology, but in the long term for helping your business grow, this will be one of the smartest investments of your time.


Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Organizing your home office paperwork and creating a good file system

Dear Kathi,

I have a small home office and I don’t know what to do with all of my papers. I bring work projects home periodically and then my personal correspondence and bills get lost. Do you have any recommendations?

Kyle, Solana Beach


When you mix business with personal paperwork, items will invariably get lost. Create an area in your office for large work projects. This can be as simple as a basket where your project is stored when you are done for the day. For multiple work projects, use a file drawer or free-standing file unit to hold resources and information separately for each project. When a project is just getting started, you can keep it in your current projects vertical file described in the last paragraph.

Create a filing system for all work projects, personal bills and correspondence.

There is a super duper file system that I recommend to all of my clients. It is called Freedom Filer. This system is self-purging and rotates your files so that you have paper archives for two years and tax archives for ten. It makes filing a breeze and also teaches you what to keep and what to throw away. It is expandable and works well for personal file systems, home-based businesses and corporations. You can learn more about this filing system at

For papers aren’t yet ready to file and need attention, designate a holding area. Your desktop is a logical space because they will remind you to work on them when you see them every day. Stack these folders vertically and label them Current Projects, Waiting for Response, Bills to Pay, Calls to Make etc. There are many labeling possibilities for your folders. Use whichever label titles work best for you and work on these files a few minutes every day. Implementing these practices will keep you free and clear of the black hole syndrome.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Organizing study environment


My high school kids are getting ready to go back to school. I want to create a better homework environment for them and also try to tackle their front door clutter before it overtakes my living room. What can I do to make my kid’s school life more productive and my home less of a mess when school starts?

Maria, Encinitas


Educational tools have certainly changed in the last decade. The old three foot desks aren’t large enough to hold the computers, printers, cell phones and oh yes, the books, that are a daily part of your teenager’s school life.

What kids need now is at least six feet of desk surface. This space will accommodate their computer and leave a large open surface for book studies, homework and special projects.
Stagger two-three shelves above the desk opposite the computer. Shelves that are12 inches deep will fit three ring binders, dictionaries and the printer.

A small drawer for tape, scissors and pens along with a file drawer will complete the study area. Consider teaching your kids a filing system this year. They will use this skill for years to come.
Regarding your front door drop zone; buy a decorative basket for each sibling. These baskets can live inside a cabinet or stand-alone by themselves. If you can persuade the kids to enter through the garage or carport, you can place the baskets there. Make sure these baskets are tall and vertical so your kids will drop their stuff into them. Don’t try to get them to place their packs on shelves. Kids love dropping their bags, so use this to your advantage. Baskets with handles will help transport their items to and from their rooms if necessary.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Are You Losing It?

According to New Scientist magazine, “People tend to mislay an average of nine items a week and waste 15 minutes a day searching for them.” Not only do we waste valuable time searching for lost things, we’re also causing unnecessary stress and frustration when we can’t find what we need. How many times have you had a bad day because you couldn’t find what you needed in the morning?

So how do we prevent losing our things, getting frustrated at ourselves when we can’t find them, and wasting those 15 minutes? The secret is to create a home for every item you own. Decide where this home will be as soon as the item enters your house (or office, or car) and make sure it always gets put there when you’re not using it.

If you aren’t sure where an item’s home should be, think about where you use it (keys are often hung by the front door, for example) or where you think you will look first when you need to retrieve it. For small things that often get relegated to the junk drawer, try grouping these things together based on function (batteries, lightbulbs, and cords together or clips, rubber bands, and twist ties together) so you get in the habit of looking in the same place every time you need that type of item.

Once you get in the habit of grouping things together and establishing logical homes for each item, it will become easier to assign homes to new items and you will find yourself spending less time looking for things when you need them.

So, what will you do with your extra 15 minutes a day?

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