Anniversary Surprise! Husband Takes Over Blog!

I was surprised when my husband penned the following letter to me and thought it would be perfect to share on my 30th wedding anniversary today. I’m a very lucky woman to be with this amazing man!

Confessions From The Spouse of a Professional Organizer

By Mitch Stone

Full disclosure people, I am not an organized person by nature. An organized lifestyle just didn’t seem natural to me. In fact, I grew up constantly losing things, looking for things, rushing to class, missing deadlines, and getting to practices late because I couldn’t find my glove, lacrosse stick, tennis racket, etc. The simple fact was I didn’t think about how I caused myself immeasurable amounts of stress by not being organized. 

Then a miracle happened, I met my wife. They say opposites attract and in our case it is true. Not only did I find her smart and gorgeous, but I realized that she had a skill set that I could really use to get my career going. She knew how to plan, how to arrange and how to organize. I had other skills that complimented hers. I was late, messy and unorganized.

At first it was a challenge to see which of our life styles would prevail. I resisted being burdened by social norms that included being on time or putting things in their place. As a result I created a bit of chaos the first few years of our marriage.

So that was the beginning of the enlightenment for me. I needed to accept the advice my wife gets paid to give others, but being organized didn’t seem normal to me. I recall wondering, when we moved into our first house, if anyone had a coat small enough to hang on the set of little hooks by the garage door. Then I saw Ms. Neatly Designed hang her car keys on one of those hooks when she got home from work. I immediately thought, “Wow! That would make it so easy to find your car keys every morning if you simply hung them up on your way in instead of throwing them down so that they would work their way into the cushions of the sofa.” Brilliant!

Then she sat down with me to make sure I calendared events like concerts, dinner parties, birthdays and anniversaries. Suddenly, I realized that I would have incredible advanced notice of what was about to take place thereby reducing the need to apologize for missing something. She labeled clear container bins for holiday decorations to be easily located in the attic rather than having to call a handyman afterwards to fix the damage caused by tearing up the house looking for them. I appreciated how much easier and less stressful those things had become for me and us.

Now that I have had the advantage of being married to this smart, beautiful and successful woman for 30 years I’ve learned skills that I never knew existed. I can honestly say I am less stressed over little things in life that used to become major disasters. For example, losing car keys isn’t a huge ordeal unless of course it happens when you need to drive your wife to the hospital because your daughter is ready to be born, right? 

Now my personal and financial records are easily found, my golf gear is in its place, my surf  and SUP boards are on racks on a wall in the garage, and my suits and clothes are neatly arranged on hangers and in drawers. Incredibly, all my mementos (aka, junk) like Grateful Dead concert tickets, college party beer mugs and vacation necklaces, that I have saved over the years so my kids can throw them out when I’m gone, have been reduced and reconstituted to fit neatly in a clear bin and stored in a closet under the stairs. Yes, my life is indeed more organized, thanks to her.

In fact, as I write this I am traveling home and next to me are my bags that I organized for the trip. It inspired me to write this because I was reflecting on how going through airport security was such a breeze since I knew where my passport was, my laptop was easily removed from the bag, and I had not over packed because I had only the shirts, pants and other garments that I would actually wear each day. It is a change for the better and something I never dreamed could be possible.

But fear not young men (and women), although I have been married to this special woman for 30 years, these are not skills that take decades to acquire. This is something you too can do. However, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel.

There are tricks to the trade, so hire a professional organizer – and I highly recommend Christine Stone at Neatly Designed. A few hours of her time helping you clean out your clutter will get you started on a less stressful way of living.

How To Organize Toys for Preschoolers

One of the most important things you can teach your children early in life if you take something out when you are finished you put it back. This one lesson taught early can help avoid clutter and battles for you and your children as they grow.

One of my favorite ways to organize kids that are young and can’t read yet is to have pictures for them to identify where things go. As a mom of grown children I love organizing children’s books and toys because it brings back so many fond memories.

If you are ready to tackle the kids playroom follow these simple tips.

Purge items you don’t need or use. The most important step when beginning any organizing project is to purge. We started with the toys and books he had outgrown or doesn’t play with and put away some toys she could bring out later. We also set aside baby items to save if she decided to have another baby.

Sort before you organize. Sorting the toys was the next step to getting organized. We put like things together so I could make a list of what containers I would use and how many I would need.

Measure the space. Measuring although sometimes a forgotten step is crucial to getting the right products to fit a space. This project was all shelving and had great vertical space that we wanted to utilize for stacking containers.

Contain your items. I used these containers from IKEA because they are not only perfect for the space but inexpensive too!

Label the containers. My favorite part are these labels from The Container Store. I have used them before in several homes and garages but I have to say this was so fun and different using pictures as labels. They are self adhesive and come with the paper that slides right into the label holder. This is one item I buy in bulk!

This project was so rewarding especially when my client told me how much her son loved looking at the pictures and knew exactly where everything went.

How do you organize your kids toys?

5 Back To School Tips To Organize The Family


The new school year is almost here and now is the time to start new habits to keep you and your family organized.

When you are setting up an organizing system in your home remember to keep it simple. The more complicated the more clutter.

These are five simple tips to start a seamless back to school year.

Purge last years school supplies.

Start the year with a clean slate. Purge anything that you don’t need or use. Recycle old notebooks and papers from last year. Toss the pencils without erasers, broken crayons and dried out markers. Make the time to start the school year with a clean slate.

Create a parent station.

This is important if you want to make your mornings run smoothly. Keep pens, notepads, stapler, scissors, labeled folders, tape and post-it notes in one place. You want to be able to sign papers, write notes, keep schedules and other items close at hand.

Create an area in the pantry to pack lunches and after school snacks.

Keep all lunch items and after school snacks in labeled containers. This one step will help your children be able to pack their lunch or grab a snack on their own.

Keep school supplies in one area and keep like things together.

Keep all supplies together so everyone knows where to get what they need. Sort crayons, flash cards, colored pencils and other items in clear labeled containers.
An easy system inspires everyone to stay organized.

Start a file box for each child.

The easiest way to keep your children’s school memorabilia organized from year to year is to start a file box. Label the front with your child’s name and each hanging folder with the school year (ex: k-5).
When something is brought home that you want to keep drop it in the appropriate file and at the end of the year purge and keep only what is memorable from that year. It’s simple an inexpensive.

An organized beginning will help to make the school year run smoothly. For more back to school tips go to the top of my page and click video.