Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Whether your New Year's resolution is to visit the gym more often, or perhaps to organize your home, now is the time of year to start thinking about it. The Wall Street Journal recently had an article about keeping resolutions, which you can find here. The article emphasizes the fact the willpower alone is not enough to accomplish resolutions; you must reshape your daily habits.

Additionally, it helps to take many small steps toward your goal, as opposed to larger, more difficult leaps, and to visualize your desired end result. That way, you can be well on your way to a more productive, and hopefully, organized, New Year!

What are your New Year's Resolutions?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ann Arbor Seminars

For several years now, I have been conducting seminars with Ann Arbor Rec & Ed. It is a wonderful way to meet members of the community and share organizing tips with a wider clientele.

Beginning with the Winter 2011 catalog, Ann Arbor Rec & Ed will no longer be charging a higher fee for nonresidents registering for classes. At the same time, the Rec & Ed catalog will be distributed to more surrounding communities.

Look for my new class on Coping with Electronic Clutter in the Winter 2011 catalog. Looking forward to meeting you in Ann Arbor!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Donate Gently Used Coats

Thanks to the generosity of our community, Reinhart Realtors in Ann Arbor, Michigan has provided thousands of winter coats to local agencies. Please join Reinhart in this effort through your donation of a coat in good repair. Through the month of November, please bring your coats to any Reinhart sales office or Reinhart Sunday Open House. All coats will be professionally cleaned and distributed locally.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Press Release

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Saturday, October 30, 2010

January is Get Organized Month:
Simply Organized Life to Provide Two Free Seminars on January 21, 2011

January 2011 will mark the National Association of Professional Organizers’ (NAPO) 7th annual Get Organized Month (

Getting organized is consistently one of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions and household paperwork is where many struggle the most. Carolyn Anderson-Fermann, founder of Simply Organized Life and a NAPO Golden Circle Member, will present the following free seminars in Dexter, Michigan on Friday, January 21, 2011.

“Tame the Paper Monster”, Dexter District Library, January 21, 2011, 10 to 11 a.m.
Do you have stacks of household paperwork lying around your home? Are you overwhelmed by the thought of sorting through these papers, but know there are important documents buried in the piles? In this seminar, Carolyn will provide simple tips to guide participants through the process of sorting, decision-making and purging the backlog of household paperwork.
There is no charge for this seminar, open to the general public.
Sign up at the Dexter District Library. For more information about the Dexter District Library go to:

“Drowning in Paper?”, Dexter Senior Center, January 21, 2011, 1 to 2 p.m.
If you do not know where to begin looking for important papers in your home, this seminar is for you. With the average American consuming about 24 reams of paper per year, it can be a struggle to keep up with household paperwork. In this workshop, Carolyn will provide easy steps to gain control of and maintain paper organization.
This free seminar is open to all ages.
Sign up at the Dexter Senior Center. For more information about the Dexter Senior Center go to:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Free Shredding on October 2, 2010

De-clutter with Recycle Ann Arbor this Saturday

Citizens and businesses are invited to bring up to 100 pounds (three banker boxes) of papers per vehicle to shred at no charge at the Recycle Ann Arbor Drop Off Station, 2950 E. Ellsworth Road on Saturday, October 2nd, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

All papers will be recycled. Consumers are encouraged to bring their sensitive information to be shredded, including confidential documents, check stubs, bank statements, credit card offers, and old tax records.

The event is hosted by Washtenaw County and made possible by the generous donation of staffing and mobile shredding trucks from Allshred, a Toledo-based recycling company.

There will be a $3 charge for additional boxes of papers; however large quantities of papers will not be able to be handled at this public event. For more information, read the press release on Recycle Ann Arbor's website.

To learn about recycling and shredding events in your community, click on Earth911.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Children's Resale Shops

Resale shops not only are great places to look for a bargain, but they also offer a way to make some extra cash while simultaneously cleaning out your closets! Children outgrow clothes so fast that it's easy to end up with bags of things that no longer fit, as well as toys and books that are no longer used. Instead of letting these unused items accumulate, why not try taking them to a local resale shop? Some of the items in highest demand, according to the resale chain Once Upon A Child, are clothing, specifically things like outerwear, costumes, and sleepwear, all kinds of electronic and activity toys, puzzles, furniture and bedroom equipment like changing tables, and other products like strollers and swings. Gather up your excess and outgrown children's items and clean out your home by visiting one of several Ann Arbor area resale shops:

-Once Upon A Child; with locations at 4559 Washtenaw Ave. in Ann Arbor and 5804 N. Sheldon Drive in Clinton. This chain specializes in the resale of brand-name products, all of which are screened for safety and quality before resale. Visit their website at for store hours and more information.

-Children's Orchard; located in the Colonnade shopping center on 887 West Eisenhower Pkwy., in Ann Arbor. Children's Orchard offers a "M.O.M.S Club," where you can sign up to receive promotions, coupons, and other discounts for buying and selling items at their store. They also have an online store on their website at

- Grow With Me; a local Ann Arbor "resale boutique" at 2521 Jackson Ave. (in the Westgate shopping plaza). This shop offers three different options for selling items (outright cash payment, store credit at 30% more than the outright cash value, or consignment payment of 40-50% of the selling price) on the days they buy goods (Tuesday - Saturday, 11 am to 4 pm). More information can be found on their website at

Be sure to check out each shop's specific guidelines for resale online before rounding up your items!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Free Shredding Event

In an effort to help protect members from identity fraud, the University of Michigan Credit Union is hosting a free shredding day on Saturday, July 24, 2010, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Not only is this a great opportunity to ensure that personal information is recycled safely and securely, but it also affords you with an excellent excuse to de-clutter your filing cabinets or home office.

The event will be held at the credit union branch at 4440 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Members are allowed up to six bags of papers to be shredded on site. For more information please visit the UM Credit Union's website.

Submitted by Ms. Emily Everard, UM Student

Monday, July 12, 2010

Radical Idea for Clutter

I received a thank you note from a recent seminar attendee with a blog post from zenhabits attached. The blog talks about packaging away your clutter to create a clean slate. It sounds like a great idea in theory, the only trouble is that most folks probably never get to the boxes full of clutter that they packed away.

In fact, the seminar attendee noted that they essentially packed up the clutter when they moved 7 years ago and the boxes still sit in their basement "hidden by new clutter". In my opinion the zenhabits approach just delays the decision making process. Call it clutter procrastination.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dexter Donations

Once again, St. Joseph Church in Dexter, Michigan will be holding their annual flea market July 8~10, 2010. This is a great opportunity to donate your unloved treasures. You can drop off items at the Village Parish Center until July 3, 2010 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

To learn more about what types of items the church is looking for contact Ms. Carol Klutchko at 734-663-0864.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Specials for Facebook Fans

I am now offering specials on last minute appointments through the Simply Organized Life Facebook page. Check out this week's special and become a fan by clicking on "like" in Facebook.

Friday, June 04, 2010


These days whenever I tell folks that I am a professional organizer, they have to ask me about the A&E show Hoarders. Generally, my clients are just regular folks with busy lives and basic levels of clutter (basement overflow, an unusable spare room or just an office with too much paper).

In May there was a very good interview with hoarding expert, Dr. Randy Frost, on NPR's Science Friday. Dr. Frost mentioned the OCD Foundation as a good place to find help in the form of therapists.

On a personal note, I only work with true hoarders under the supervision of a licensed therapist and I have only seen about 15 minutes of the A&E show.

Monday, May 17, 2010

AD/HD Conference

Every year Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills, Michigan hosts the Annual Michael Golds Memorial AD/HD Conference. This year's conference will be held on Friday, September 24, 2010. If you are interested, save the date and look for more information.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Pillows & Bedding

A seminar attendee recently e-mailed me to ask what to do with old pillows. Unfortunately, charities cannot take old pillows due to health concerns and Recycle Ann Arbor is not able to recycle pillows either. It is sad to say, but old pillows are destined for the trash.

In trying to help the seminar participant find a home (besides the garbage) for her old pillows, I contacted the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) thinking that they might be able to use pillows for the animals.

Kelly Schwartz, HSHV's Director of Volunteer Programs & Operational Support, explained that pillows, sleeping bags or comforters cannot be used by the Humane Society because "they are difficult to wash and disease amongst the animals is a concern for us." She went on to say that HSHV has a need for lots of other gently used and new items. Currently they urgently need towels and small blankets.

Like many local charities HSHV has a "wish list" posted on-line with up to date needs.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NAPO 2010 Conference

Here I am on April 23, 2010 at the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Conference in Columbus, Ohio. I had a great time reconnecting with fellow organizers and learning new techniques. My husband also had a great time with the kids at the Columbus Zoo (thank God he didn't loose them!).
Check out the reusable grocery bag that was this year's freebie bag. I love it. It is already on the passenger seat of my car, so I don't forget to use it when I am out and about. If you see me shopping around Ann Arbor, Michigan with this bag, please stop and say "hello".
I have more photos posted on Simply Organized Life's Facebook page. Click on "Like" for more frequent quick tips.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Facebook and Twitter

I held out for a long time, fearing that Facebook and Twitter would be a huge drain on my time. However, I also felt I might be missing out on something. Look for Simply Organized Life on Facebook and SimpOrgLife on Twitter to keep up with the latest news. During slow times, I will post limited time discounts for Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers.
If anyone knows how to link this blog to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, please leave a comment (note: all anonymous comments will be rejected).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An Organized Closet

I really enjoy helping clients, especially women, organize their clothes closets. An organized closet can save a lot of time in the morning rush. Having only the clothes that fit correctly and make you feel good can do wonders for self esteem too.

I always try to practice what I preach, so I was so delighted when Amy Cattell of Amy's Elegance by Design came to my home last Saturday to pick up a few items for altering. Amy's main business is designing and creating custom wedding gowns, but she also does a great job with alterations. She is currently working on altering items for myself, my husband and my mom.

When deciding which items to alter, I focus on quality articles of clothing that have classic looks and will remain in style a long time. Items that I may never wear again can be donated.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Just for Fun

It's Friday and I finally finished preparing for our annual tax visit to our CPA. The appointment was delayed two weeks due to sick kids, sick parents and my husband traveling on business. We still have plenty of time before April 15th, so all is good.

For fun this afternoon (yes, my life is pretty simple) I checked out a blog I had read about in a parenting magazine. This woman makes little bento boxes for her son every day. Since I lived in Japan, I was hoping for something a bit more Japanese (loosely translated, bento means "lunch box" in Japanese), but it's all fun and good. As for the lady's other posts and photos of her household, it looks like she could use the help of an organizer, especially since several of her 2010 goals include organizing projects.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Exciting Announcement

Carolyn is now a NAPO Golden Circle Member!

As of today, I am now a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers' (NAPO) Golden Circle. For more on this topic, sign up for my monthly e-newsletter by March 1, 2010.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Selling on Craig's List

For those of you that read my last posting on "Letting Go of Children's Clothes" I am happy to report that I sold my remaining kids' clothes on Craig's List within the day I posted. The most difficult part was finding a place and time to meet the buyer, but the whole thing went smoothly. I have sold other items on my local Craig's List and have a few tips if you are looking to let go of your things this way and earn a little cash.

  • Always include a photo. When looking to buy on Craig's List, I won't even click on the item unless there is a photo.

  • Set up your photos on a clean uncluttered surface (see photo at right). If the background looks cluttered or dirty, I won't consider an item.

  • Arrange to meet the buyer in a public place. Let's face it, there are weirdos out there and this goes for buyers and sellers.

  • Ask for cash and list at a reasonable price (similar to a garage sale). Expect buyers to want to negotiate. I think of Craig's List as an easy way to get rid of stuff that has some value, but if I have something really valuable or collectible, I will turn to eBay.

Happy decluttering!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Letting Go of Kids' Clothes

Since becoming the parent of two kids, I have been surprised at how hard it is to let go of some of my children's old clothes. However, I do let go and as a little consolation for myself I take a photo of favorite outfits on the kids as they start to outgrow them.

Lately, my favorite place to buy (and sell) children's clothing is the Grow With Me Resale Boutique in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I really try to practice what I preach and minimize the number of clothes I buy for my kids. Even though I do not buy or sell much at Grow With Me, they are always friendly and courteous. I should note that they are VERY picky with what they buy, but the stuff they sell is similarly priced and much nicer than the Children's Orchard store in Ann Arbor. Many of the items even have the original tags attached.

Recently I sold (or rather exchanged, because I turned around and bought some things with my store credit) some of my kids' clothes to Grow With Me. They took maybe half of the stuff I brought in and gave me a small store credit. It was easy.

I also recently took some children's clothing to Children's Orchard, as I had sold some maternity clothing to them some time ago. They didn't take ANYTHING and after I got home, I discovered they had lost a couple of small items. When I called the next morning, the lady at Children's Orchard remembered me, but couldn't find the items. She said small things get lost in the shuffle and either donated or tossed. So much for being organized.

So now, after both a good and bad experience with children's resale, I am going to try to sell the remainder of my outgrown kids' clothes on Ann Arbor's Craig's List and see what happens. I can always donate them to Purple Heart or Faith in Action. Next time I will skip the trip to Children's Orchard.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Winter Adult Outerwear Needed

Now is a great time to take a look at your coat closet and find out what you are really wearing. Wash or dry clean those coats that need freshening up, especially out of season coats that can be stored elsewhere during the off season.

While you are at it pick out the coats that you no longer wear to donate. Currently Ann Arbor's St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop is seeking out adult sized winter coats among the items they normally accept.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Donate Card Tables

Ann Arbor Rec & Ed is looking for square folding card tables to use for its bridge class. If you have a table that you no longer need, please contact Linda at 734-994-2300 extension 53203 to learn more. Your donation is tax deductible through the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Keeping Resolutions

There was a great article on keeping resolutions in the December 30th Wall Street Journal. Of course, I particularly liked the example of the woman who resolved to get organized. She is quoted as saying "my life is so much easier" now that she is organized. I couldn't have said it better.