Shining a Light on Labels

As an organizer, I always follow my client’s lead and only suggest we work on areas THEY identify. Every once in a while, though, I notice an irritating situation that could easily be solved with a label.

This scenario came up a month ago while working in someone’s dressing area; her space has a number of zones with specific task lighting tied to a central panel. 

As we were leaving the space, she went to turn off her make-up area light. Not knowing which switch controlled which light, she ended up flicking every switch til she found the ONE she needed. Her heavy sigh told me this is a chronic problem.

So we fixed her problem — right then and there.

Dressing Area multi-switch light panel

Now, if you know the story of the cobbler who’s kids went barefoot you will understand that just because I see “problem areas” in other people’s homes all day, this does not guarantee that I am a ruthless problem-solver in my own home. Spoiler alert: not every shelf, bin or basket in my home is labeled!

Truth is, not every shelf, basket or bin NEEDS to be labeled. If it is obvious what it is and if no one is having an issue finding what they need, then there is no problem. But confusion breeds stress. 

That same day, I went home and noticed myself doing the same thing to two of our three kitchen switches. That’s when I decided to do for myself what I do for others! So I labeled our switchplate. It’s been a game changer. The only thing I tweaked was what I called them; my daughter did not think “door” made sense so we revised the third switch and now everyone is happy.

Our kitchen is the hub of our home, but now that the weather is warmer, we are spending a lot more time on our front porch. 

Fast forward to the other day, when my husband texted to make sure I turned off the front pathway lights. Our guests had stayed late the night before and he didn’t want to waste electricity. In the daylight, I could not see if the lights were on or off… Couple that confusion with another multi-switch panel and my stress level was rising. Without a partner to check the outdoor fixture’s bulb, it was more exercise than I expected so early in the morning. I figured it out on my own, turned the pathway lights off and did what any smart organizer would do; I labeled each switch. 

This time, my family approved of every label AND my daughter commented the next morning how helpful it was to know which switch controlled which hallway lightl. She had stayed up later than all — not unusual for teenagers — and knowing that we sleep with our door open at night to give our dog freedom, she didn’t want to wake us with a bright light at the top of the stairs.

My labels helped protect my investment of time, saved our daughter from waking us andgranted me an un-interrupted night’s sleep!

Think of where a label or two could help your household function a little better, or brighter or maybe even ensure a better night’s sleep for you. Banish household confusion with a label or two; it’s illuminating 😉

This post was written for the Greater Philadelphia NAPO chapter. Shining a Light on Labels. Click here 



Make Tax Season Less Taxing

Joy and Kelly on set with tax tips folders and wallets

We shared these 3 easy-to-follow tips on the PHL17 morning news: Catch our live segment here. 

1. Systems Save Time AND Cut Stress
• Anything that happens on a repeat basis deserves a thoughtful routine.

2. Learn From Past Mistakes
• Gather receipts and statements in one location.
• “Tax Season” is for filing…the entire year is for tax record compiling.

3. Follow In One – Out One
• Celebrate your freedom to shed the past and plan a shredding party for your support documents.

Joy took a vital behind-the-scenes role as master shlepper and prepper of our tax tips props!



Do Organizers Practice What We Preach?

We recently worked with an annual client: a mom who calls us in once a year to revamp the heavy traffic areas of her home as her family grows and her needs change. She asked: “Do you practice what you preach?” Our answer: YES! We follow 4 basic rules:

The only way to prevent clutter build up is to make sure that everything has a place to live.
Once something has a home, it has to get returned to its home to maintain order in your spaces.
Every system needs to be maintained.
Read proof of how we follow
our most touted advice:

So Kelly LOVES to juice. Fresh lemon juice goes into every salad dressing. Fresh lime juice refreshes most fruit bowls. Many of her fish recipes require loads of citrus. So her juicer, which also has a convenient measuring cup as its “collector” is a true staple in her kitchen. Pictured below on the left, it HAD a primo spot in her most accessible gadget drawer. Until…

Read this story on NAPO Philadelphia’s chapter’s blog…



FEB: Finally Emotional Breakthrough

While relationship advice is not our soapbox, Valentine’s Day prompts us to remind you to fall in love with your stuff. First, you might need to get real honest and admit it’s time to break up with some of your stuff.

FEB: Finally, Emotional Breakthrough. On many occasions — with a variety of clients — we have witnessed emotional breakthroughs that start with a break-up. People find their stuff:

  • no longer brings them JOY
  • doesn’t fit their life anymore
  • is more work to maintain than the value of owning it
  • reminds them of less happy times

Sample Scripts for a Successful Break-up:

• Sorry, you don’t bring utilitarian “joy” to my life anymore

• You take up way too much of my time, attention and energy. Don’t call me, I’ll find you!

• We’ve outgrown each other. I am an adult now. It’s time my space reflected my current status.

Benefits of an Emotional Breakthrough:

Freedom to invite whatever you want into your life

Space to welcome a newer “model” into your life

Confidence to re-envision other aspects of your life that may have stagnated

Courage to create a better reality for yourself in 2019

If you need some hand-holding  to break up with your:
• 30 yr old couch
• crates of grad school notebooks
• banker’s boxes of elementary school papers
• plastic tub of empty photo frames
• garage graveyard of older generation appliances or electronics
— call us. We LOVE helping you fall in love (with your spaces) again!

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JAN: Joy Always Nags

Nagging gets such a bad rap. I LOVE when Joy nags me…IF I’ve given permission 😉

Nagging can be very effective — if done right!

If you know Joy, you know she is consistent and persistent; two qualities that contribute to her affectionately earning the nickname “Mother Hover.”

My mom could nag til the cows came home. She could  hover til the task was done, the phone call made, the flight booked, the invitation sent, the thank you note written. You get the point. Joy’s “persistence” definitely led to some mother-daughter spats til we realized how to shift her nagging into a valuable accountability partnership. It starts with permission.

When you grant Joy – or anyone in your life – permission to nag, their prompting and reminders shift from an annoying — and usually useless — nuisance into a beautiful partnership of integrity and accountability. And then anything is possible!

Here’s how we turn a nag into a motivating spark:
1. Ask for help — You have to grant permission.
In our case, the “ask” had to come from me. If Joy nags without my asking – she’s dictating her agenda and that’s not encouraging.

2. Set parameters around the “nag” — especially when it will start. 
Just because you ask for help does not mean you want to be reminded to do something RIGHT NOW. Let’s say you KNOW you have to do something. But you don’t see any time in your schedule to do it until after Sunday night, or until so-and-so gets back to you with some information. Tell your accountability partner WHEN they can start prompting you.

3. Don’t make room for shame.
Shaming language does NOT belong in an accountability partnership. No one wants to feel belittled or talked down to. People want recognition for overcoming the struggle and acknowledgment for persevering through to completion. 
No statements like: 
— “that took you long enough”
— “thank goodness you finally finished”
— “I can’t believe you need someone to babysit you”

4. Watch your language and don’t bring TONE into the conversation. 
Tone is a cousin of shaming and that relative is not invited! Decide if you want your partner to use certain language or a specific word to remind you of the task (your goal). They may not need to know details of the task to be done or decision to be made…just how you want to be encouraged to take action.

5. Review the partnership.
Knowing that you are having trouble with something may not be easy to admit and asking for help may be even harder. Acknowledge that and make sure your partner is capable of giving you the help you need! If he or she can’t – find a new accountability partner.

I am lucky. Joy Always Nags: and thank goodness she does (only when asked!)

Next time you procrastinate or avoid accomplishing a task, call Joy and give her permission to nag!

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Catch us on PHL 17!

TV Debut on PHL 17 Organize Your Kitchen for Healthier Living!

Kelly on set Demetria Green and Nick Foley

We shared organizing examples to start 2019 with healthy goals in mind.
• Be Clear: Be Clear in your Goal Setting and use Clear Containers!
• Make Small Changes to effect Long-Lasting Change
Have fun! Isn’t that always the goal at Joy In Your Space!



Organize Your Kitchen for a Healthier 2019

The What, Where and How of Staying True to Resolutions

Be S.M.A.R.T. about Healthy Resolutions
• Get specific about YOUR health conscious goals
— work on your greatest weaknesses first: drink more water, pack a (healthier) lunch,
make time to exercise
• Celebrate small changes to form lifelong healthy habits

Make Healthy Options Easy to Find
• Store nutritious options within easy reach
— what you SEE first you will EAT first:
      make sure it’s healthy 
• Pay attention to portions, sugar and fat contents
— too much of a good thing may not be good for you

Streamline Daily & Weekly Routines:
• Create zones for every activity:
— taking vitamins or medication
— packing a lunch for school or work 
— exercise (hydration and nutrition for work-outs)
— making coffee
— feeding a pet (these family members need to be healthy too!)

A well-stocked kitchen should NOT be crowded. 
Clutter is like cholesterol— it blocks the flow of meal prep and can create a toxic environment. Don’t let it build-up. And try to have fun tweaking your systems!



What does the ‘organ’ in ORGANizing do?

Everyone knows that our lungs are the major organ in our respiratory system, that our brain is central to our nervous system and that our stomach and intestines are partners in our digestive system. 

human systems: respiratory, nervous and digestive

Wondering how that connects to organizing? Just look at the word: there is an ORGAN inside organizing! Our bones — amazing organs within our skeletal system —  form the structure of our bodies while they protect our internal organs. With the help of ligaments and tendons, our skeletal system allows us to move.

our skeleton inside our bodyLet’s look at our households like our bodies — and see ORGANizing from an interdependent, systemic perspective:
• providing structure and support
• filtering toxins (clutter)
• creating space for nourishment
• allowing time to digest our days
• minimizing distractions

As the daughter of a D.O., the osteopathic approach always takes the whole person into consideration. Likewise, I consider the whole household when organizing.

Human Body medical diagram of our muscular systemOn that note, let’s all head into 2019, protecting our:
• organizing time like our brains
• organizing framework as we maintain our posture
• organizing schedule as routinely as brushing our teeth
• and use our ORGANizing muscles to stay healthy!



DEC: Do Everything Consistently!

Consistency is a wonderful thing. We’ve consistently delivered a year’s worth of monthly-themed organizing advice.

In this twelfth and final month of 2018, try to Do Everything Consistently — DEC— and if not everything, how ’bout 12 things? You can follow any of the 12 things Joy and I are each VERY consistent with:


  1. Bedtime
  2. Connecting with Friends
  3. Taking Good Care of Herself
  4. Planning Ahead and doing anything that can be done in advance.
    The only reason why Joy’s Thanksgiving table was not set until Wednesday was to honor her grand-daughter’s wish to set the table for her.


  1. Reviewing Commitments Daily – each evening to prepare for the next day
  2. Using Alarms so I don’t get too involved in anything or lose track of time
  3. Scheduling Things into my calendar so I have realistic expectations of what I can accomplish
  4. Being Green – I never mind taking time to recycle


  1. Making the Bed every morning
  2. Creating Lists (Kelly via Anylist, Joy on paper)
  3. Keeping a Calendar (Joy on paper, Kelly’s electronically)
  4. Admitting we are not perfect!Our secret: don’t beat yourself up when your consistency wanes. Get curious about WHY you haven’t yet mastered a new habit. Then adjust accordingly. Muscle-memory takes time!

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NOV: Nominate Only Valuable Elements

With elections in the air, one can’t help but think about voting. Stay in that mental space because we want you in “vote-mode.” As you switch over to warmer clothing and start layering, you will want to get serious about which “candidates” have earned your vote to stick around another season. 

During this month of NOV: Nominate Only Valuable Elements. Follow our decluttering rules for any area of your life, but especially your fall/winter wardrobe.

• Double check that your fall and winter elements have weathered spring and summer without losing elasticity, style or fit!

• Decide if each element still warrants your care and attention. The more you keep, the more you have to keep up! Why store it if you don’t love it?

• Make sure your belongings work well together. Spend time ensuring you have the makings of complete outfits, outerwear for all types of weather and accessories that keep you warm and fashion forward.

• You may find you need to replace a thing or two. Better to know this going into winter instead of finding yourself without waterproof boots or gloves that have a mate!

Follow our rules to find JOY in getting dressed and layered for all occasions — and maybe permission to shop for a new item.

If you’ve forgotten how to vote, or you’ve lost your veto-power, we can help. Call us to define and refine your best closet contents and storage system.