Organized for success - part 3


             With permission from professional organizer and author Kathy Waddill, here are a few of the steps that she includes in the approach she recommends in her soon-to-be-released book, The Organizing Sourcebook: Nine Strategies for Organizing Your Life.

             1. Design the system that fits your own life

            There is not a right or wrong way to be organized in your home. Determining how to get organized takes some thought, though. What are the activities in which your family members are involved? By placing the toys, games, craft and art supplies, sports equipment, and homework resources at or near the places where they are used, you will save yourself from a lot of the extra effort created by having to pick up the trails of toy parts, game pieces, crochet hooks, sneakers, and markers that run throughout the house.

             2. Containers are key

            Hereís a concept to which many people are finally catching on: place all parts of activities into containers. The see-through plastic variety is particularly useful, as you and your children will be able to see the contents before you even move the container from its location. The proper containers are also helpful in developing responsibility in young children. Assign them with the task of cleaning up when they have completed their time with the activity. It is easy for them to see on their own if they have accomplished the task or not: either all the parts are in the container or they are not!

             3. Use labels

            Labeling is a tool with two uses for families, as labels promote literacy as well as organization. Most important in the process of labeling is that the children be involved. That way, they get to use the words that are most meaningful to them, which is an important part in making this a system that will be useful for them. For young children who cannot yet read, you may either draw or cut out pictures; this is a pre-reading skill because you teach that there is a relationship between a symbol and its meaning.

             Thereís help if you need it!

            If you need assistance to get organized, youíre not alone. More than one thousand members of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) are ready to aid you in accomplishing your goals. Founded in 1985, this organization has chapters and individual members all over the United States and in several other countries. If you need a referral to an organizer near you, NAPO can be reached at P. O. Box 140647, Austin, TX 78714-0647, (512) 454-8626,

            The New Messies Manual: The Procrastinatorís Guide to Good Housekeeping was authored by Sandra Felton, a professional organizer whose Messies Anonymous is a twelve-step program with support groups in many cities around the United States; (800) 637-7292,

            Julie Morgensternís Organizing from the Inside Out is a best-seller with an approach that is easy to understand and implement. How can you go wrong with Oprahís organizer?

            The Simple Living Guide: A Sourcebook for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living, by Janet Luhrs is a treasure trove of ideas. Simple Living is a quarterly newsletter; contact the publisher at 4509 Interlake Ave. N, PMB 149, Seattle, WA 98103-6773, (206) 464-4800,

            Simplify Your Life with Kids, by Elaine St. James is a book that will be useful to families that would like to take a no-nonsense approach to paring down and getting away from rampant commercialism.

This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

All columns are copyright © Jay Davidson.  Permission is hereby granted for individuals to download and copy them for individual use.  There is a modest charge for printing these columns in any publication.  To receive that permission, contact   Jay Davidson