The Organized Dollhouse

Wow! Look at these beautifully organized toys! Who did this? A mom organizing her kid’s playroom? A store getting ready for a big sale? A photographer prepping for a photo shoot? A stager readying a home for an open house? No! It was done by three-year-old Ashley! Incredible!

“She has been organizing since she could walk,” states her mom. “Ashley loves to organize. Not only does she organize all her toys but also her twin sister’s clothes, the DVD collections, and the family snack drawer.”

What can we learn from the skills of this gifted three-year-old? Here is how I would describe the strategies Ashley uses:

Like things together – This is one of the cornerstones of organizing. Notice how all the toys are grouped together by size, height, and type on the top and middle shelves (smaller ponies, large ponies, dolls).

The quantity fits the space – Observe how nicely each type of toy fits in the space with room to spare. Nothing is crowded or jammed. Ashley can easily access any toy without disturbing the organization. See in the middle left cube how the taller dolls are in the back. She can reach in and take the doll of her choice to play with because they are all easily accessible.

Group one-off items together – The bottom two shelves are filled with a variety of stuffed animals of different sizes and shapes as opposed to the other shelves that have like items. Think of your kitchen drawers with one-off cooking supplies: turkey baster, icing spatula, ice cream scoop. Pick a right-sized container and keep these odds and ends all together.

Container Size – The height of the dollhouse is just the right size for Ashley. She can access each shelf without reaching. In your own home, place frequently used items within arm’s reach and less used objects higher or lower.

Open shelving – If these toys were in drawers, they would not be so organizationally pleasing to look at. Open shelves (think linen closets and kitchen cabinets) will keep all your items visible and make it easier to find what you are looking for.

I hope Ashley has inspired you to work on your organizing projects. Maybe Ashley will be a Professional Organizer someday!


Happy Organizing,

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Born Organized

People often ask me if I was born organized. No, I was not; I was born to an organized mother.

From the moment I arrived, she was ready: bottles in place, diapers folded with the pins nearby, onesies in every size for the first six months. As I grew up, her organized ways encompassed every area of our lives, from making dinner to helping us with our homework to decorating for the holidays. She was organized every day. Like all children, I watched her closely, even though I did not necessarily realize I was doing that. Her ways became my ways. We are both organized, but my mom was far more organized then I am. Actually, she is the most organized person I have ever met. She is the most organized person in the world.

Last year I spent weeks at home rehabbing from foot surgery. I must admit I do love being home. It reminds me of when I was a little girl living in the big pink house in Port Chester, New York. I remember early mornings as a preschooler when all the men would leave for work, the older kids would go to school, and I would be home with my mom, my grandmother downstairs and my aunt upstairs. I clearly recall a sunny morning in September, standing on the front porch with my mom and Nana, waving goodbye as my older brother went to school. We three girls turned and went in the house to start our day. When I was home last year, I still got that same feeling after my boyfriend left in the morning and I was home alone. It was quiet and peaceful and comforting. I could feel my mom and Nana standing beside me in those moments.

I actually looked forward to my rehab time at home as an opportunity to catch up on some everyday things and larger projects. First on my list was to “get the book out.” I wrote a book about my organized mom called Happily Organized: Little Stories About My Mom, the Most Organized Person in the World. Writing the book was such a pleasure. However, getting the book from my notebook into a format for others to read has been a much longer journey then the actual writing. It is a whole new world for me, with many stumbling blocks and a wide learning curve. But finally it is completed.

In this book, I would like to introduce you to my mother, Marian Julia Lovallo Arbusto. She is quirky, funny, and incredibly organized. I’ll tell you little stories about her everyday organizing ways. My goal is for you to learn how to get organized through storytelling. There are lots of step-by-step, how-to organizing books to choose from. While they are certainly valuable, this book of genuine, personal stories offers another avenue to learn about organizing, a way that is more natural and easy to read. Please join me as I relive sweet memories of being raised by the most organized person in the world.


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So Much of Life Is About Filing Your Jacket

Call it what you will, filing has many names: filing paperwork, filing emails, putting things away, straightening out, tidying up, hanging up your coat, placing your shoes in the closet Read more ›

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If You’re a Piler, You’re a Piler

Often times while working with a client to organize their office they will claim to me “I’m a piler!” This means they tend to stack papers in piles rather than file them in filing cabinets. When they need to find something they know it is in one stack or another. And then the hunt begins. They search through stack after stack looking for sometimes one piece of paperwork they desperately need. This takes time and can be quite stressful. But oh the joy when this important document is found! But what if it is not found? Then they go back into the stacks for a second look. This second search taking more time and looking requiring greater detail. Hopefully this time they find what they are searching for; but maybe not.

Is it okay to be a stacker? Is there a better way? Yes is the answer to both questions!

If you’re a piler, you’re a piler. This is perfectly fine. There is a system to make your piles of paperwork meaningful and organized so you can find the paperwork you need. It requires having your stacks in strict categories and not mixed categories. Example: Paperwork for your bathroom remodel would not be in the same stack as your kids’ permission slips and the unread newspaper from last night. These are three different stacks. The piler system needs room to spread out these strict categories preferably a bookcase or a compartment system. Be sure to label your categories with a label maker or post it notes.

So can you be an organized and a be a piler? Absolutely!

Orgainization is about personalization. If you would like a one-on-one session to help you get organized, give Susan a call.

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Home – Office – Financials

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10 Small Winter Tasks That Make a Big Difference!

Winters cold is fast approaching! Are you ready? Here are 10 small tasks you can do that will make a big difference and help you prepare for the weather events ahead: Read more ›

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Decrease Clutter With The Magazine Diet

You may be counting calories for your New Years’ Resolution, but a quick way to lose weight around the house is the Magazine Diet! Ah…magazines…they have such a lingering effect. They can sit on the coffee table for years or in a pile Read more ›

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Are You “On” On Your Day “Off”?

Is you day off about shores and getting things done? If so, when do you rejuvenate yourself? Do you think you can only relax when everything is done? There is a difference between relaxing and collapsing from exhaustion. Relaxing is a choice, collapsing is the inevitable state that is the result of overwork. How long can the cycle continue in your life? Read more ›

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How Long Does It Really Take To Perform a Task?

In this hurry up world that seems to be swirling around us, we may find ourselves always rushing from one thing to another. Do you find yourself not completing one task before you feel pressured to start another? At the end of the day you could be left with a litter of uncompleted projects, and although you have been busy all day, feel like you have accomplished very little Read more ›

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This Holiday Season Don’t Give Gifts… Give Experiences!

Here we are again! How did we get here so fast? It’s time for holiday shopping… or is it? Why not do something different this year for yourself and those on your gift-giving list. Instead of giving gifts, give life experiences: something that will create memories, Kodak moments and conversation for years to come. Here are a few suggestions: Read more ›

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The 10 Rules of Money

Clearly money is the most disorganized thing people struggle with. Most suffer in silence as it is not socially acceptable to discuss money or finances with any type of detail. Would you ask someone at a cocktail party how much they earned? If their kids college accounts are fully funded? If they pay their bills on time? Our education system focuses on teaching us the needed skills to help us earn a living but not what to do with those earnings. Based on over 25 years in accountng and working with many individuals, families and businesses, here are my 10 rules that will keep you on a healthy financial track. Remember: be positive and be powerful!

The 10 Rules of Money

  1. Have the highest integrity in all financial transactions.
  2. You have a relationship with money. Work to make it happy, strong and positive.
  3. Be thankful for all that you have.
  4. have written short and long term financial goals.
  5. Have a budget for the next 12 months.
  6. Remember to budget in some fun each month. This can be low or no cost, but it must be part of your plan.
  7. Spend your money slowly and look for ways to spend less.
  8. No credit card debt. If you do not have the money, do not buy it.
  9. Save money first. Then pay your bills.
  10. Give something to charity. If you cannot give away money right now, then look for other ways to give. (See my post, “Charity Begins in Your Closet“)

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