Organizing 202 – Beyond the Basics: The ABCs of Organizing


By Sophia Noll


Last year I walked you through several scenarios for organizing the home, office, and work spaces. Hopefully those articles got you motivated to bring more organization into your lives. I thought I would start off the New Year with a series called the “ABC’s of Organizing” where I will share with you great organizing/storage tips that I have used with my clients over the years. So grab a cup of tea and some chocolate, put your feet up and get ready to learn some tips that will make your life a bit easier.



“A” is for Artwork

… from your child’s masterpieces to the rolled-up posters and paintings stuffed in the backs of our closets and under our beds.


Childs Artwork: Does your refrigerator look like an art gallery? Store your child’s artwork in a folder with dates on the back of each piece. At the end of the month pick one or two pieces to frame. Store the rest in your gift wrapping station for wrapping friends and family’s birthday and holiday gifts. This honors your child’s creativity while serving another purpose. I also like the idea of laying several pieces onto a table and then taking a group picture of the art work. This way you can save all of your child’s creations onto a thumb drive or cd and have immediate access to each creation filed by date! Plus it eliminates the guilt of tossing them. It also makes a great gift for grandparents and also a revolving screen saver for your computer!


Prints/Unframed Art: It’s good to separate these with acid free tissue paper and then lay them flat in an archival box that is extra durable and acid free. Place the box in a temperature-controlled area since too much heat can warp the picture and too cold a temperature can make the prints brittle.


Framed Artwork: You will want to wrap each peace in acid free polyethylene plastic to keep moisture out and store them in an archival box as well. However, these should be stored upright in the box and not lying down.


“B” is for Book and Batteries


Books: I’m a big advocate for plastic bins, but when it comes to books I recommend cardboard boxes. Plastic bins can trap moisture which can weaken the glue and cause paper to wrinkle. Always store boxes up off the floor so there is less chance for moisture damage… use a pallet of some sort.


Use small boxes so they are easy to move… books can get quite heavy!! To limit damage to the spines, covers, and pages do not stack the books inside the box. Instead place them side by side alternating spine “up” and spine “down.” Wrap leather bound/valuable books in Mylar (it’s chemically inert and won’t damage your books) sheets for extra protection while storing in a non-temperature-fluctuating environment.


Pack books tightly so they support each other but don’t try to cram the box full. You can fill the void spaces with acid-free paper. It also helps to line the whole inside of the box with acid-free paper especially for long-time storage, which helps prevent discoloration sometimes caused by the cardboard. Search online for comic book storage boxes, which are excellent for storing books and have up to 200 lb. test strength, which is helpful when stacking boxes. Leave a small space between the boxes and the wall to allow for ventilation.


Don’t forget to label each box with its contents and have that side of the box facing out so it can be easily read. I would try not to use ones with the hand cut handles because it provides an easy access for creepy crawly things that like to eat paper. But, if you do, to keep dust out, place cardboard on the inside to cover the handhold cuts in the sides of the boxes.


Since cardboard is a delicacy to insects like silverfish and roaches try placing a “bait trap” in each box. You might want to sprinkle some diatomaceous earth along the bottom of the pallet as well. It dries out the exoskeletons’ of insects and is not harmful to pets or humans if used correctly. Remember to always read the labels.


Batteries: AA, C, D, E… no I’m not referring to bra sizes ;-)) One size fits all would be nice but when it comes to batteries that’s just not the case. They vie for space in our junk drawers mixing in with the old and the new and we can never be sure which batteries are good! We even find them in our refrigerator! Let me put that bad advice to rest! Here’s what Energizer is quoted as saying on “… storage in a refrigerator or freezer is not required or recommended for batteries produced today. Cold temperature storage can in fact harm batteries if condensation results in corroded contacts or label or seal damage due to extreme temperature storage. To maximize performance and shelf life, store batteries at normal room temperatures (68°F to 78°F or 20°C to 25°C) with moderate humidity levels (35 to 65% RH).”


Use a rubber band to secure loose batteries so that all the positives point in the same direction if they are rolling around in your junk drawer. This keeps the points from touching each other and shortening their life. Also keep batteries in plastic bags or plastic containers to keep them from touching metal objects which can cause electrical shorting.


Hardware containers with dividers are great for corralling batteries. These come in all sizes and can meet your needs no matter how big your collection is. Small plastic containers that have drawers are great too, and can sit on a shelf in the closet. For those who think “green” and use rechargeable batteries you can purchase a wall organizer that holds up to 82 batteries of all sizes that even has a built in battery tester. I found a great one on Amazon. I recommend purchasing two of them and hanging them side by side so you can have one for uncharged and one for charged batteries. Once they are charged they get moved to the charged container and vice versa.


Now it’s time to implement these tips in your daily life. Your children will love seeing their masterpieces enveloping a gift to a friend or grandparent. If you find that once you have uncovered all the hiding artwork your taste has changed, don’t store it… Release it!! Make room for artwork that you do enjoy, that brings you pleasure. Don’t use precious space for art that no longer serves you. When packing your books remember that space matters. Try to purge so you cut down on boxes that also take up prime storage space. Making the switch to rechargeable batteries can actually cut down on your spending over time. “Despite the initial $40 price tag (for a typical charger and batteries), rechargeable batteries can last up to 1,000 charges saving you about $80 a year, on average. When taken to landfills, most batteries (even rechargeables) can release harmful metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium into the environment. The good news is rechargeable batteries are surprisingly easy to recycle. And, because batteries can be recharged and reused numerous times, they contribute less waste to landfills,” according to Mother Earth News.


If you find an area that you struggle with and would like some advice just shoot me an email ( and I will try to incorporate your question into this series. I am now offering skype/phone consults for those who want to do the work themselves but just need direction, advice, ideas, etc.
Happy New Year!!! May it be a year of new beginnings and a life that is more organized and stress free!!!



Give the gift of Organization (Gift Certificates Available) Sophia (In Its Place) has been organizing people’s lives for the past ten years from Maine to Asheville. She specializes in Organization, Personal Assisting, Household Management, Staging Homes, Senior Downsizing, Event Planning, and Concierge Services. Sophia offers free consultations and can be contacted at 828-333-3045.

Written by Sophia Noll