12 Surprising Ways Clutter is Ruining Your Life

Time and again, research has demonstrated that excessive visual and physical stimuli foster mental clutter.  How can you be expected to focus on one task when six other items are nagging with their own needs? 

Maybe you’re trying to prep the car for soccer pickup, but its trunk is bogged down with beach gear that was never unloaded. And you can’t get the laundry going because you have to declutter your house before you can even get to your laundry machine. 

This domino effect of clutter could be the reason it feels impossible to get anything done. Which, in turn, explains why it’s so hard to attain that fleeting peace of mind.

The following infographic from MakeSpace (they provide affordable valet storage in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and DC) delves into this topic. They highlight a number of surprising ways clutter can negatively affect your life:




Clearing clutter holds potential to remedy your relationship, career, and even your bank account. Not to mention, it could make laundry a whole lot easier.

Sounds like peace of mind to us.

College Safety Tips: As Close as Your iPhone

If you have a kiddo ready to leave the nest this fall, you likely have been searching for college safety tips. Many worries may be going through your head. “Have I prepared him enough,” you might wonder. Chances are, you’ve done a great job and the transition will go smoothly. But a few bumps along the way are normal!

As I send my oldest off to college this fall, safety is a top concern. I want to share a tip with you that I guarantee will make you feel better and more confident as they head off to college or their first apartment. Before you kiss your kids goodbye, make sure they have the Medical ID app set up on their iPhone. (Android users, there are likely similar apps available!)

college safety tips

Simply put, Medical ID allows anyone (specifically, medical personnel, but anyone who needs to attend to your child in a medical emergency) to access basic health and contact info via your kid’s iPhone, without having to enter a password to open the phone. This is the place to list allergies and medical conditions, as well as whom to contact in case of emergency. I recommend listing not only parents, but at least one other trusted adult who might live near your student.

Simple instructions to set up Medical ID are available here: In a nutshell, here’s how to do it: 

To make your important health information accessible in case of an emergency, you can set up your Medical ID in the Health app on your iPhone.

Create your Medical ID:

  1. Open Health and tap Medical ID > Edit. 
  2. Enter your emergency contacts and health information like your birth date, height, and blood type.
  3. Turn on Show When Locked to make your Medical ID available from the Lock screen. In an emergency, this gives people who want to help some important information, like the emergency contacts that you’ve entered.
  4. When you’re finished, tap Done.


If you’re curious how this works for medical personnel, you can try it yourself after your kid sets it up. Here’s how to access the info:


  1. Press the Home button.
  2. Tap Emergency.
  3. On the Emergency call screen, you can make a call or tap Medical ID to see emergency medical information stored on the device.

Easy! So grab your kids right now, and insist they enter this info into their phones. You will feel so much better knowing that in a medical emergency, it will be easy to find your contact info and alert you if needed! 

offyougocardscoverWant more tips to help prepare your student for leaving the nest? Check out Off You Go! Success Cards by clicking here.

Six Steps To Fight Procrastination

Why do we put off until tomorrow what we can do today? Because it’s so darn easy to delay! Follow these simple steps to fight procrastination, and you’ll get your tasks done before you can say, “I’ll do them later.”

simple steps to fight procrastination

1. Make a list of all your current projects. Which ones have been outstanding the longest? Are they still really essential? If the answer is, “Not really,” then take them off your list. For some of the remaining tasks, delegate to family, friends, or co-workers if possible. 

2. If a project seems too big and overwhelming, start with something small. Clear out the old magazines from the rack. Tidy up the scraps of paper on the fridge or bulletin board. Clean out your purse or briefcase.

3. If you are simply overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, break it down into small steps. Assign each step to a different day on your calendar, and make yourself accountable. Even if you can grab ten minutes here and there, you’ll see progress toward completing a large project.

4. If there is a project that you absolutely must get done today, do whatever it takes to forge on. Spend a little money to hire a babysitter or order take-out if that will keep you working.

5. Work with your daily rhythms and habits. If you’re a morning person, take advantage of the early hours to tackle your most difficult jobs. Likewise, nightowls might accomplish more after the rest of the house is quiet and asleep.

6. If you can’t seem to motivate yourself, grab a partner. Sometimes just the camaraderie of a friend can push you through a tough job. If you need a really neutral, non-judgmental assistant to guide you through, consider contacting your professional organizer for project, paper, or time management help.

Check Out This Smart & Affordable High School Graduation Gift!

Graduation season is fast approaching. As the open house announcements fill your mailbox, you’re probably wondering what you might gift these high school seniors… I have the perfect idea! My new Off You Go! Success Cards make a handy, relevant, and affordable graduation gift that will prepare teens for college life and beyond! affordable graduation gift

These are perfect as a stand-alone gift. They are also lovely when you want to give something tangible along with the traditional “card and cash.” They are perfect for both guys and girls. No matter their plans for next year (whether college, work, volunteering, or military), they need these important life skills before they leave the nest. These cards will guide them and get them there!

I created this set of 52 cards that can guide them through a series of tasks, skills and conversations to get them ready to leave the nest with confidence. These handy cards can help assess teen readiness and teach them how to be an independent and successful student when they leave the nest.

The cards share tips in these areas:

  • keeping tidy
  • identity theft awareness
  • money management
  • staying safe
  • physical health
  • nutrition
  • time management
  • transportation
  • social skills
  • social media savvy
affordable graduation gift

As a professional organizer and mother of two teenagers, I created these college success cards with the hope that the simple — yet necessary — life skills will help make any student’s “beyond high school” years a success! I’ve already had parents contacting me to purchase them not only for their own teens, but for their teens’ friends!

To see what they look like and to read customer testimonials, click here! 

This perfect, affordable graduation gift is available individually, but you’ll likely want to pick up a discounted 6- or 12-pack so you have plenty on hand for all your graduation parties this spring and summer! Take 15% off with coupon code SUCCESS15 through 5/31/17.


Make All Five Senses Happy in Your Organized Bedroom

All five senses should be activated in your organized bedroom for maximum rest and relaxation. Here are some tips to make sure your space touches on all five… Remember: While you’re sleeping, keep the bedroom quiet, cool, and dark!

Sound: Make it quiet. Remove all electronics from the bedroom so you don’t hear the beeping, ringing, or buzzing of your cell phone’s or tablet’s notifications. If you have hardwood floors, a large area rug can help absorb some sounds. Some people benefit from using a white- noise machine.

Organized Bedroom


Sight: Lighting makes a difference. Overhead light is great when you need bright light, but for evening relaxing and reading, install a smaller reading lamp on the nightstand or install wall- mounted lamps on the wall behind or beside either side of the bed. Also, the darker the room is while you sleep, the better. If your current window treatments don’t block out the moonlight (and the neighbor’s glaring porch light or street lighting), invest in some light-blocking curtains, shades, or blinds.

Scent: Your bedroom should have no scent, or a fabulous natural scent. Once the clutter is cleared, give the room a good vacuuming/sweeping, dust surfaces thoroughly, and wash your bedding. Open the windows to get some fresh air circulating. Clean smells great, but if you prefer a light scent, ditch the artificial room fresheners in favor of natural scents. You can provide these with an essential oils diffuser (available everywhere from Kohl’s and Macy’s to Amazon and Walgreens at a variety of price points.) Be sure to use only 100% natural essential oils in your diffuser. Or simply sprinkle some essential oils on cotton balls and place in non-visible areas.

Touch: Add a variety of tactile sensations to your bedroom. A soft rug on the floor is essential (or at least, next to the bed so your feet are happy to touch the ground when you wake up). Toss a small sheepskin rug (real or fake) over your reading chair. Add a variety of throw pillows to the bed (try velvet, chenille, furry, or anything textured for maximum impact) and/or a soft throw at the foot of the bed. And set the temperature to 60-67 degrees for maximum sleeping comfort.

Taste: Just for fun, keep a little dish of your favorite candy by the bedside. Wouldn’t it be lovely to enjoy a delicious dark chocolate just before bed? (Just don’t tell your dentist!)

Want to learn how to organize your bedroom to perfection? Join the Just Organize Yourself (JOY) Challenge. Open for registration through 4/1. Click here to register!


Is Your Student Ready for High School Graduation?

Are you the parent or caregiver for a soon-to-be high school graduate? If so, have you prepared your student for high school graduation? Is she ready for college and beyond? Likely, there are still some skills that she needs to learn! Some of the areas you might address include: keeping tidy; identity theft awareness; money management; staying safe; physical health; nutrition; time management; transportation; social skills; and social media savvy.

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with all you need to pass along, you might enjoy my new Off You Go! Success Cards.

high school graduation

These handy cards will help you assess her readiness and teach her how to be an independent and successful student when she leaves your nest. Here are a few tips from the cards:

high school graduation

Want to learn 48 more tips? Check out the cards by clicking here! These also make fabulous graduation gifts.

This colorful, whimsical set of 52 cards allows you to work at your own pace. Some parents like to tackle one task per week for a full year leading up to the start of college. Others prefer to review them over the summer months before leaving for college. Whatever your timing, these handy cards are sure to make your student feel confident about branching off on his own in August. Set your student up for college success!

This product was recently endorsed by Julie Lythcott-Haims, New York Times bestselling author of How to Raise an Adult! I also highly recommend this book if you are the parent of a high school student. High school graduation is right around the corner, and these make great graduation gifts as well! 

I also recommend visiting the Grown and Flown website and parent Facebook group. It’s a great resource full of articles about parenting, college applications, readiness, and college transitions. Check it out! It is so nice to have an online support group as you get ready to launch your kids out into the world.


Beautiful Bedroom, Comfy Bed

Your bed should be your most peaceful haven. You spend about a third of your life here, so why not make something that you look forward to visiting each evening? Here are some bedroom decorating tips to help you create a peaceful bed.

bedroom decorating tips


Invest in a quality mattress. If you’re waking up with a backache or doing a lot of tossing and turning, consider the age of your mattress. It is recommend that you replace yours every eight years. Also, to keep yours in tip-top shape, vacuum the surface with a hand-held brush or crevice tool, rotate or flip the mattress as recommended by the manufacturer, and use a quality
mattress pad.

Make your bedding as luxurious as you can afford. Toss your old, ratty sheets. Visit a local department store to touch the bedding to determine what feel you enjoy. Percale is made from high-quality cotton that is tightly woven and provides a smooth, soft, crisp, cool feeling. Sateen is smooth and silk-like and is heavier than Percale, so it’s great if you often feel cold at night. Flannel is made from cotton and is super-soft, like a comfy tee-shirt. Thread count matters, but super high (nor outrageously expensive) is not necessarily better. Buy something that feels great, that washes well (don’t get something that you’ll need to iron), and complements your decor.

Pillows make a difference. If yours are flat and lumpy, it’s time to toss them. Foam pillows are inexpensive and come in a variety of support levels. Feather and down are more expensive, but last a long time and are quite luxurious. Memory foam pillows self-adjust to body contours. The way you sleep will determine the firmness of your pillow: A back sleeper needs medium support; a side sleeper needs more firm support to cradle the head, neck and shoulders; and a stomach sleeper needs soft, plump pillow.

Top if off with little extras. Add some beautiful accent pillows and a soft blanket or throw to place at the foot of the bed. These can provide extra support and warmth, as well as decorative flair.

Consider what is behind and under the bed. Some experts recommend that you avoid plugging in any wiring behind your bed because the energy that flows from the cords can have an effect on your body’s ability to fall asleep. Some feng shui experts also believe that storing things under the bed can send out energy and keep you awake. (Although it might just be that you’re thinking about all that clutter under the bed!) While there is no hard and fast science behind these two theories, if you’re having trouble falling and staying asleep, it wouldn’t hurt to give them a try!

Like these tips? Want to organize your bedroom? Check out the Spring JOY Challenge! You will join us (virtually) as we learn to sort, declutter, store, decorate and more! Click here for details.

Clean Off Your Desk Day

Monday, January 9th, is National Clean Off Your Desk Day. If your desk is a disaster, consider this fact: The average office worker spends 2000 hours per year at her desk. This space can either be a stressful, headache-inducing mess or a pleasant, easy-to-maintain oasis. Use these tips to clean off your desk, maximize your space, and create a blissfully organized office.




Manage papers daily. Keep papers under control by dealing with paperwork on a regular basis. Whether first thing in the morning, at the end of the day, or somewhere in between, set aside 30 minutes each day so you don’t end up with overwhelming piles. For every piece of paper that you encounter, make an immediate decision to either toss it, file it, or act on it. 


Toss a lot. Eighty percent of what we file is never looked at again. Keep only the papers you truly need, and remember that if you keep it, you need to file it. Make time each day (or at least once a week) to file your “keepers.” Although not your favorite task, filing as you go will probably take only a few minutes and will make your office life much less stressful and more productive.


Create action files. If you can’t act on smaller tasks right away, keep them in a “quick-task to-do” file, and work on them regularly so they don’t pile up. For larger, long-term projects, put each into a separate file folder. Chunk each project into bite-size pieces. Draft a timeline with deadlines, and attach it to the inside front cover of the file. 


Keep key things close. Gather items that you use most frequently, and store them within easy reach of your usual seated position. Items that you use less frequently can be placed outside this area, but should still be easily accessible. For things you rarely use, consider getting rid of them, storing them outside your office, or stashing them farther away from your desk, saving your “prime real estate” for the most-used supplies.


Corral periodicals. Magazine files will neatly hold newsletters or trade periodicals, making for easy reference and reduced desk clutter. You’ll also benefit from some 3-ring helpers, which are perfect for filing things you reference frequently because they’re easy to locate and page through, they hold a large volume of papers, and they are easy to maintain.


Label it. Use a dark marker or label maker to label all file folders and binders. This makes the process of “putting away” and retrieval so much easier.


Tidy up. At the end of every day, clear your desktop, review tomorrow’s schedule, and update your to-do list. Tomorrow is sure to be a success!

So Many Shoes, So Many Storage Options…

Are shoes taking over your home? The key to better organization is knowing your storage options. I recently had the pleasure of writing an article for Wayfair on just this topic. Here is the first tip to corral and contain all types of shoes, from high tops to high heels, and then you can click the link to read the rest of my top shoe storage tips!

shoe storage tips

Tip #1: Pare down and think seasonally: Cull your collection, and toss or donate shoes that no longer fit, are out of style, or are past their prime. Then, pull out shoes that are not currently in season (you won’t need flip flops or sandals in winter, nor boots in the summer) and move those shoes into storage. You might store them in under-bed boxes or another out-of-the-way area, such as the basement or guest room closet. Then, move on to finding the best storage options for the shoes you currently wear…


Click here to read my article and check out the rest of my great shoe storage tips and some neat containers from Wayfair!

Last-Minute No-Clutter Holiday Gift Ideas

Help your family and friends stay organized in 2017— give gifts that don’t add clutter to your loved ones’ homes! Here are a few last-minute, no-clutter holiday gift ideas.

If you are a little crafty, create a romantic meal-in-a-basket: a jar of pasta sauce, a box of pasta, a bottle of wine, and a classical CD. Or give homemade jams, salsas, or soups in pretty Mason jars (which are completely on trend right now). Or give the gift of memories: make a memory book containing your thoughts on a special person in your life. Or tell your life’s story and lessons. (This is great for grandparents to give the kids.)

no-clutter holiday gift ideas


Stumped for the teen or techie in your life? Check out these inexpensive cord wraps. I bought them for all the teenagers in my life!

no-clutter holiday gift ideas


For the nature lover, buy a new bird feeder and seed. (There are some great squirrel-proof options that will delight any bird lover!)

no-clutter holiday gift ideas

For the active people in your life, consider giving movie passes or a museum membership. Cooking lessons at a local cooking school are sure to inspire the novice chef. The music lover will love tickets to the local chamber orchestra or upcoming play or musical. If you know someone who would like to get a little more organized, order a gift certificate for a session with a local professional organizer. For the stressed out mom, sister, auntie or friend who needs to relax and pamper herself, consider purchasing a gift certificate for a massage, facial, or pampering pedicure.

no-clutter holiday gift ideas


I hope you find some inspiration in these no-clutter holiday gift ideas! I wish you happy holidays and a clutter-free New Year!


About Sara

Sara Pedersen, Professional Organizer helps busy Twin Cities families organize, simplify, and discover time to do the things they love.

She brings a unique mixture of compassion, humor, creativity, and common-sense to each client session. She focuses on not only creating useful spaces, but transferring organizing skills so her clients can maintain everything after she leaves. And because she also loves to also create beautiful spaces, she adds a little “oh la la” where ever she can.

Sara lives in Shoreview, Minnesota, with her husband, two children, and tabby cat, Mulligan. When she’s not working with clients, she enjoys finding new and creative ways to organize and decorate her home! She also loves to dig in the garden, take evening walks, eat chocolate, and explore the North Shore of Minnesota. Please contact Sara at or 651/717-1284 for more information.

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