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The Pile High Club--how NOT to become a member by Heather Lambie

     Managing Household Paperwork

Initially, when asked to write about organizing paper at home, I wasn't sure how to attack it. Yes, I'm an organizer, but (gasp!) filing doesn't float my boat. But then I actually thought beyond filing, about all the ways that paper enters and impacts our homes and our lives, leaving miles of piles in its wake. Every day we are faced with sorting and filing mail, magazines, books, catalogs, student projects, medical records, bills, photographs, invitations, money, recipes, and of course, origami! OK, so maybe I won't cover origami in this blog, but I do promise to keep it light, laughable and true to life. Hope you check me out, and often!

Latest Posts:

The Brilliant Gift

I attended a fundraiser over the weekend and one of the items for sale was something I'd like to share as "The Brilliant Gift."  I'm not a particularly religious person, but I am a spiritual person.  A company called Answered Prayers Cross had a table set up with about 3 dozen small ceramic crosses made by women from a battered women's shelter.  Each cross was unique:  different sizes, shapes (some weren't even in the shape of a cross), different textures, colors, patterns, glossy, matte, some had words, some had designs... you get the idea.  


posted on: 11/15/2010 10:30:00 AM  by Heather Lambie
category: Paper

How much time is clutter and disorganization costing you?

The below post is from Simply Stated, a blog on RealSimple.com that I love. I'm posting it because it honestly could have been something I could have written myself--as in, those are words I have said before to clients and preach over and over.  So, without further ado...

I want you to try a one-day challenge to track how much time you spend wasting your energy on clutter and disorganization in your life. What you'll need:...


posted on: 11/8/2010 10:30:00 AM  by Heather Lambie
category: Paper

An Organizer Takes Her Own Advice

A very good Baby Boomer friend of mine is in the midst of downsizing. She has been divorced for quite some time, but is still living in the 4,000 sq. ft. home in which her family started.  Her eldest daughter is a senior in high school and will soon be leaving the nest (her son is already gone to Wake Forest).  She finally sold her home two weeks ago and began packing to move into a 2,100 sq. ft. condo.  Did I mention my friend is also a professional organizer? Well she is, and even SHE could not believe the amount of things (though very organized things) she found in the back of all her closets, drawers and cabinets.  She has had one heck of a time making decisions, purging and just going through it all.  Even though she is ridiculously organized by trade and habit, the stuff still adds up over the years.   Her stress in the last few weeks has inspired me to once again go through my own closets and find even more things I can purge.  In doing so, one area in which I think I can make tremendous improvement is with books.   I don't have a huge library, but I do have two small bookshelves full of books for professional development, reference, pleasure and display (coffee table-ish books). I keep very few books once I've read them. I use www.paperbackswap.com to "recycle" them back into the book-readers' universe. My problem comes from the books I own that I've bought (or received from PaperBackSwap) that I haven't had time to read yet.  I currently own 43 books that I have not yet read. What's worse, I have 110 books on my Amazon "Wish List" that I someday want to read. Will I really ever have time to read 153 books (not to mention the future books I discover that I'll want to read)?  Doubtful, unless I stop watching must-see TV or reading magazines and the New York Times (never gonna happen!).   Actually, I think The Times might be part of the problem. On Sundays they have the Book Review section, and there I find even more stories I want to read someday (and add to my Amazon Wish List). I am—like many of my clients—an information junkie. I have a B.A. in Journalism and I am a researcher at heart. I love to hear and read people's stories (be they true or imagined).    That said, though I enjoy reading, I often cannot remember the title or author of the books I read, just the gist of the book and whether or not I liked it.  I felt alone in this for so long until I read this recent, clever, and oh-so-true New York Times Book Review essay titled The Plot Escapes Me.   The author asks, What is the point of reading so many books when I can barely remember what's in them? I take this a step further and ask, What's the point of acquiring and storing all these books I might have time to read someday if I won't remember them anyway?  (NOTE: You should read the article because it turns out there IS a point to reading books, even if you can't remember them.)   So what's an information junkie/organizing professional to do? Well if I took my own advice, I'd let go of the things (books) that don't suit my life now—the things I just don't have the time or space for.  I should not save or acquire things for "someday." It goes against everything I preach.  So. I pledge to post all my unread books on PaperBackSwap.com and get rid of them one by one. I will attempt to read them until they get requested, but once they are sent to another reader, that's it. I will purchase no more books. No, I won't stop reading. I'll just ask Santa for a Kindle and forgo space-hogging paperbacks and hard covers altogether. Problem solved!...


posted on: 10/4/2010 10:30:00 AM  by Heather Lambie
category: Paper

Email Distractions

This cartoon cracked me up!

In case you can't see it very well, it kind of goes like this (I'm sure you can all relate--I certainly did!):
A mouse sits down and the computer and says, "I am here to work on my resume. I will finish my resume.

His computer says, "PING!"

Next frame mouse says: Oh! An email. Could be important.

Next frame: Hey! It's got a YouTube link--gotta watch it.

Next frame: Ha ha--that's great. Hey! They've got more like that.

Next frame: I've never even heard of this show. I'll Wikipedia it.


posted on: 9/27/2010 10:30:00 AM  by Heather Lambie
category: Paper

Zen Family Habits

I cannot take credit for the below tips (though some sound like words I certainly could have written or spoken myself at some point). They come from Sherri Kruger, editor of Zen Family Habits....


posted on: 9/13/2010 10:30:00 AM  by Heather Lambie
category: Paper

Organizing in 600 sq. ft.

I just got back from 5 days visiting friends who just moved to New York.  They used to be neighbors of mine, and like me, they lived in a comfortable 3/2 home (about 2,000 sq ft) with a pool and a huge backyard. Now they live in a 2-room (+ 1 very small bathroom), 600 sq. ft. apartment.  Though they don't have children yet, they do have a small dog that also takes up a little space.


posted on: 9/7/2010 9:43:16 AM  by Heather Lambie
category: Paper

Wall Decals - Stick it!

I have always loved graphic wallpaper (2Modern has some gorgeous ones!), but have to admit I am too conservative to use it in an entire room. While I do have a wallpaper "backboard" behind my bed, I didn't have the guts to cover my entire room in teal paper emblazoned with a white peacock feather print.


posted on: 8/30/2010 10:30:00 AM  by Heather Lambie
category: Paper

Back-to-School Scavenger Hunt

My kids start school tomorrow (crazy, I know!), and like every other parent, I have been diligently getting my ducks in a row. But UNlike most parents, this year, the Lambie household is doing a "green" back-to-school.  What is that, you ask? Well, we're not buying the kids any new school supplies.   My kids will not have new LL Bean backpacks and lunch bags with their names embroidered on them. They will not open their desk to that "new crayon smell."  Nope, my kids will come to school wearing used uniforms, carrying last year's backpacks and lunch pails and using a recycled Tupperware full of half-used glue sticks and pre-sharpened pencils.   Modern society (or at least the majority of mommies at my kids' private school) would say I'm not a good mother. "How embarrassing for your kids! You can afford to buy them new school supplies, why wouldn't you?!" Yes, I can. But why should I when what they have is still in working order?  Their backpacks are a little dirty, but a toss in the washer and a good scrubbing can fix that.  And why should I purchase new folders when I happen to have several (with corporate logos on them) that I received from different conferences I attended this year?  And a quick, Back-t0-School scavenger hunt around the house revealed that we do in fact have enough pencils and crayons to rule the world… or at least to scribble our way through second grade.   Full disclosure: I am currently on a 30-day Spend Freeze, and it just happens to fall during the first week of school.  So I cannot buy anything that's not 100% necessary, which, most of their supplies are not since we already have them—in spades—around the house.  I did buy them both new school shoes, but that was 100% necessary because they both grew like weeds this summer and I'm not into toe-binding like the Chinese.   Still, even if I wasn't on this Spend Freeze, I don't know if I could justify consuming just for the sake of consumption. I'm just too practical for that. I have raised my kids with enough love and self-esteem that (hopefully) they will be able to brush off any bullies who give them a hard time about wearing last year's backpack, using a freebie pencil with a "Five Star Flooring" logo, or not having the latest swag hanging from their lunch bag.   I think it's a great lesson in using what you have—completely. Imagine if we all used everything up until it was gone or not usable anymore. Think of all the money we'd save. Think of all the packaging we'd not throw into our landfills.   Did any of you take the use-what-you-have approach with school supplies this year? If not, would you consider doing this if last year's school gear was still in good working order? ...


posted on: 8/16/2010 10:30:00 AM  by Heather Lambie
category: Paper

FREE doesn't make something a gift

One bit of email clutter I will cop to: blogs. I have quite a few on my RSS feed. Some days I don't read them all, some days I do.  One I really dug for a while was Seth Godin's. (stick with me, this is going somewhere…)   This past Saturday I held my 5th Annual Closet Swap. If you're a regular reader, you know that I love holding this event as it is a chance for me to help friends clear our their closets and bring in items they no longer wear or use, as well as a chance for all of us to get free clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories, etc. in exchange. Who wouldn't love that?   While I do love the idea of FREE stuff, recycling, and finding a good home for items you no longer wear, one of Seth's blogs has stuck with me and I think it fits well with regard to the Closet Swap. He writes,...


posted on: 8/2/2010 10:30:00 AM  by Heather Lambie
category: Paper

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