Top Tips for Keeping Your Garage Neat and Organized

The following is a guest post by the Closet Works Inc.

The garage ranks high along with the basement for spaces where families tend to dump things they don’t know what to do with.

It’s easy to store a box you never unpacked, some outdoor equipment or some unused paint in your garage and simply ignore the fact that it’s there when you pull in your car each night.

But the clutter becomes more difficult to ignore when, for example, you’re stuck clearing snow off your car or running out to your driveway during a downpour because you’ve filled your garage with too much stuff.

You can’t ignore your messy garage forever; and in fact, spring is an excellent time to clean and organize it. It’s not too hot, and you’ll probably need to get to items in your garage like lawn and garden equipment and your kids’ outdoor toys.

Here are our top tips for organizing your garage so it stays neat and tidy.

Clean and Sort Everything

If you actually do park your car in your garage, pull it out into the driveway or, better yet, park it on the street so you’ve got plenty of room to clean out your garage.

Unload everything first, even the boxes that haven’t been emptied since you moved in eight years ago. It might be helpful to lay a few tarps on the ground to protect your goods while you do this. Arranging specific piles of your stuff on tarps is also a helpful way to force yourself to keep a smaller number of items—keep only what you can fit in a given area.

Sort your goods into a few piles—what you want to keep, what you’d like to sell or donate, and what should be thrown out. Importantly, if you’re getting rid of paint, paint thinner, used motor oil or household chemicals, be sure to dispose of them properly.

After the space is organized, you’ll have plenty of room for a garage or yard sale to get rid of those unwanted items at a later date.

Figure Out How You'll Organize Your Stuff


Garages typically house a unique mix of car-related items, tools, gardening equipment, bikes, kayaks, fishing gear, snow removal tools, beach items and more. It can be a challenge to figure out how exactly to store everything.

To give things their own place, you might want to consider a custom garage storage solution with options to store a wide range of items.

A design professional can create a plan that affords you enough space to add a workbench with drawers and cabinets for tool or hobby storage. For the gardener in your family, you could also add a potting area with a work surface.

During the cleaning phase, you should inventory any dangerous chemicals to see if they’re still usable. Then you can add locked cabinets to keep those dangerous chemicals and sharp tools safely away from curious kids.

The garage is a prime area for storing sports equipment like bikes and skis and gardening tools like a hose or rake, which can all be stored off the floor with wall racks. You can also add baskets for bulky things like balls, gloves, masks or pads.

Cabinets, both with swing-out and sliding doors (if space is tight when cars are parked), can house many other items you need to store like bottled water, things you buy in bulk or even outdoor furniture accessories.

Find a New Home for These Items

Consider a new home for some items which are best stored in areas other than your garage.

  • Paint should be stored inside where the temperature remains somewhat consistent. Store it out of reach of children and pets in your basement or a closet.
  • Propane tanks shouldn’t be stored in your garage; a spark could ignite the tank. Instead, store the tank upright and outside in a well-ventilated area away from any ignition source.
  • Paper towels, plates, napkins, cardboard and other paper goods are better kept in your pantry if the packages are open. Storing them in your garage could attract bugs. They could also get damaged by moisture.
  • Pet food also belongs inside; storing it in your garage could attract mice, rats, possums and other creatures you probably don’t want hanging out there.

While your initial garage organization effort may not be the most fun chore, you’ll be glad you tackled the clutter and created a better storage system later in the year. Rather than spending precious time searching for your kids’ bikes and skateboards, you’ll be able to easily find them and enjoy yourselves.

If you’re interested in learning more about organizing your garage, reach out to us for a free, in-home consultation.

Dumb Smart Kitchen Gadgets and Smart Smart Kitchen Gadgets

The following post is a guest contribution from Matthew Rathbun, executive vice president of Coldwell Banker Elite.

I am a geek. I admit it. I’m fascinated by the Internet of Things and smart devices. I also love to cook. Cooking lets me create something offline. It takes me away from my monitors, and most importantly, it lets me indulge in my second favorite hobby – eating. So, when I get to mix my first hobby with my second, I’m one happy geek.

Do We Really Need This?
However, a lot of kitchen devices are touted as “smart,” but these technologies are being developed just because we can. Do we really need a smart fork that tells you when you’re eating too fast or putting too much food on it? Does our toaster oven need to be controlled by our phone? Does my trash can lid have to scan the UPC code on the item I’m throwing away and automatically add it to my shopping list? Nope. These devices just make my life more complicated.

Recently while walking through the miles of technology at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, I found a lot of amazing technologies – but I also saw some that just didn’t hit home for me. Although most of these gadgets and devices will be the harbinger for more advanced and practical technologies one day, I’m going to stick with things that are clearly useful to me today.

All of that said, there are some very useful smart technologies that I do want as I create my connected kitchen. Here are a few that may not have made your list yet:

Meater+ Smart Thermometer
This smart thermometer can be inserted into and left in the item that you’re cooking on the BBQ or in the oven. Meater+ connects to your smart phone and sends alerts when your meat hits the right temperature. It has other features as well, but not having to run and check the temperature every few minutes is among my favorites.

If you’re not quite ready to buy a new smart fridge, but want one of its most valuable features, FridgeCam is a great option. FridgeCam takes a photo of the inside of your fridge every time you open the door. You can then access that photo on your phone. So when you’re stopping by the grocery store on your way home from work, you can quickly check the app to see if you need to pick up additional items.

Drop is a smart scale for the kitchen that has a companion app. The app helps you measure and mix in a single bowl based on the chosen recipe. It will even suggest alternative ingredients if you’re out of something. And let’s face it – who hasn’t realized they were out of a key ingredient in the middle of cooking?

Anova Precision Cooker
I was honestly skeptical of the sous vide method at first, but it’s definitely becoming more popular. The Anova Precision Cooker is a heating device that attaches to the side of your pot. You control the device using your smart phone and place the item you’re cooking in a plastic bag. Then, you place the plastic bag in the pot of water with the sous vide device and wait until your smartphone tells you the items are ready. The reviews on this devices are pretty awesome.

The Ember coffee cup is sitting next to me as I type up this post and is still keeping the coffee that I bought several hours ago warm. Ember mugs have been around for a bit, but I still love mine. I can program the temperature of the coffee or travel mug using my iPhone. The Ember device will then keep that temperature constant throughout the day. Tea, coffee and other warm drinks all taste better at different temperatures, so I can alter the temp based on the beverage. It’s one of my favorite connected devices.

But wait! There’s more!
Of course, all of these connected devices are in addition to the smart stoves, refrigerators and other large appliances that are popping up in homes all over the world. Everyone places a different value on the convenience of the these devices, but as the march toward a smarter connected kitchen moves forward, the devices are becoming more intuitive and easier to use each day. I’m excited to see what the tech world comes up with next!

What is a Storage Vault?

Guest post by Laura McHolm

You have probably heard of mobile storage and self storage, but if you aren’t familiar with a storage vault you are overlooking a third key option when it comes to deciding what type of storage to use for your belongings. In fact, a storage vault is the greenest storage solution and can save you green: you only pay for the space you need!

Here are the three top factors to know if storage vaults are the storage solution for you:

1. Adjustable Space & Pay for the Space Needed

Storage vaults cater to your storage space needs. If you need more space one month, you can easily add more space. And, if the following month you need less space, you can move things out and pay for less space. You only pay for the space you actually use. It’s not one size fits all storage. Mobile and self storage units offer standard spaces and default prices that make you pay for space you don’t want and don’t need.

2. Management of Your Stuff

Most storage vault providers are professional moving companies and they are skilled at packing your belongings into the storage vault. They are doing the heavy lifting for you, saving you time and effort. It is critical to think about how often you actually need access to your storage unit. If you need weekly access to your stuff in storage, then self storage is probably a better solution for you. However, if you are looking for long term storage and you are likely to only need access on occasion, then a storage vault is a great option. If you’re going to be remodeling, going on an extended vacation, building a home, etc. then vault storage could be the perfect solution for you. Just call up the moving company and they will move your items for you when you need them.

3. Secure & Temperature Controlled

Storage vaults are secured in a warehouse so they are protected from the outside elements and often have top security. Before choosing a storage vault provider, ask about their security system and temperature control. They should have security cameras in place as well as limited access to the vaults for authorized employees only.

Lastly, the bonus feature of storage vaults is that they can be eco-friendly! Ask what kind of vaults the company uses. Your belongings are stored inside a warehouse and can be stored in eco-friendly recyclable and reusable wooden vaults. This type of storage reduces land usage because it is warehouse based and is not long paved rows of self-storage “garages.” The wooden vaults are cleaned, recycled and renewable, not giant metal tin cans.  It’s a double green win! The earth wins and so does your pocketbook. Plus, it’s always nice to be kind to your Mother,  Mother Earth that is!


Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.

Winter Lawn Care Tips

Guest post by Henry Walsh

Caring for your lawn during the winter can look different from other homeowners depending on your location. Unless you live in the extreme Southern areas of the country, most grass types will go dormant during the cold winter months. However, just because winter isn’t the primary growing season doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty to still do. Check out these winter lawn care tips to keep your lawn healthy.

Apply Fertilizer
Choosing to add fertilizer to your lawn before the snow falls is a great way to give your grass a boost of energy to stay alive during the winter months. Use a slow-release fertilizer when you want to give your lawn root systems a slow and steady stream of energy over a more extended period. Make sure to follow directions and refrain from applying too much fertilizer in one area of the lawn which could cause burning due to too much nitrogen.

Let It Breathe
Aerating your lawn once every couple of years is a great way to make sure that your lawn is receiving essential nutrients at a deeper level. Aerating will allow sunshine, water, and energy to penetrate deep into the soil which will make the lawn healthier and stronger come spring. Renting an aerator is an excellent choice for many homeowners or consider your local winter lawn care professional that can do the job for you. Aerate your lawn before any winter weather, like snow or ice, fall on the grass this winter.

Consider Overseeding
For those homeowners in the South looking for a way to keep their warm-season grass lawns green all year, consider overseeding with the opposing season grass type as part of your winter lawn care, once the lawn goes dormant. The cool-season grass will love the colder temperatures that winter brings while the warm-season grasses take a much-deserved nap. Unfortunately, homeowners in the northern parts of the country will have to accept dormant lawns in frigid temperatures or snow-covered lawns in other winter areas.

Mulch Fallen Leaves
Many parts of the country will see the addition of fallen leaves onto lawns in the early parts of winter. Instead of raking up the leaves and bagging them up for removal, consider using this free source of energy to create a stronger lawn. Mulch the leaves with a leaf mulcher, or by merely using your lawn mower, to cut the leaves into smaller more manageable parts. Dead leaves provide a natural source of nitrogen to the lawn making it a welcome addition for future growth.

Apply Compost
Compost is one of those items that every homeowner needs to keep a healthy lawn. Compost can be created at home in a compost pile or is available for purchase from a local garden center. Compost is helpful to add to a lawn before winter arrives to provide a natural energy source for underlying roots. The compost will be gradually worked into the soil by microorganisms making it a great option to cure many lawn issues.

There are plenty of ways to care for your lawn even if winter temperatures have already arrived in your area. Race against Mother Nature before the arrival of snow and ice to provide your yard with essential added nutrients like compost, fertilizer, and fallen leaves. Aerating and overseeding your lawn are other ways to make sure that your lawn looks great year round. Consider all of these winter lawn care tips this year for a beautiful lawn.


Henry Walsh is a gardening writer and eco-conscious living advocate. He recently began his homesteading journey after many years of incorporating the principles into his urban lifestyle.

Learn To Say YES!

This is a contributor post by Lori Arnold, broker/owner of Coldwell Banker Apex, Realtors

A few months ago, I had the privilege of speaking to the latest class of Ascend Leadership Summit participants at the Realogy headquarters in New Jersey. It’s always an inspirational opportunity for me as the new leaders are so excited about their careers and what the future holds for each of them. As much as I love my home state of Texas, I also LOVE New York City.  Anytime I can get close to NYC, I am going to find an excuse to spend a few days there. I arranged a long weekend in NYC before going to the Realogy headquarters with my daughter-in-law, who happens to be our Marketing Director, and my sister-in-law, who happens to be a mortgage superstar.

To add a bit of context, I have to share a few things that led up to the Ascend Leadership Summit. About a year, some of my fellow CB owners pointed out that my company was the largest woman owned and operated Coldwell Banker affiliate in the US based on closed sales. And for the record, they were all guys. Frankly, I had never given much thought to that fact before that day.  To say I am passionate about my business and leading my agents is a bit of an understatement for anyone who knows me. I am busy each day building something that I hope matters to those around me and contributing in a way that leaves a legacy. I am highly competitive and want to win in my market simply because I know we are the best so thinking from only a “women’s perspective” never occurred to me. Once we began sharing the fact that Coldwell Banker Apex is the #1 woman owned and operated CB in the US, I felt a calling to do more for women in our community to hopefully inspire and motivate them in their own personal journey. A quarterly meeting for area real estate professionals called “Listings & Life With Lori” was born from that idea. For the first time in my career, the idea of women leading and supporting each other was really on my mind.

On our NYC girls’ trip, we were shopping in a stationery shop in Grand Central Station when I saw a “big green button” novelty item that had the word “YES” written on it.  You pressed the YES button, and it audibly shouted “YES!”. I began chatting with a sales person about the YES button, and she went on to tell me that they had NO buttons too, but those sold out immediately, while the YES buttons were slow sellers.

Oh my. My mind immediately went to the true-life application of that lesson. Why would the NO buttons sell out fast while the YES buttons lingered on the shelf? One of the principles of the Coldwell Banker Apex leadership staff is that we try to say YES! as often as we can.  Can I market my team this way? YES! Can you assist me in getting this tool set up? YES! I want to think a little outside the box and implement this new marketing idea. Can I do it? YES!  I know I did not follow the process, but I need this today, can you help me? YES! Although it sounds intuitive, it really is not. It’s much easier to say “No, you can only do it this way” or “No, you need to follow the system.”  No stifles originality, new thinking and progress towards goals we have not yet set!

As I reflected on YES, I realized how important that one little word has been in my real estate journey.  I got my license at 19 years old. Often people thought my clients were the Realtor instead of me! I could have said, “No, I am too young to succeed in real estate.” In 1993, when we joined Coldwell Banker, I did not have the funds to purchase the franchise without borrowing it. I could have said, “No, it’s just too much risk to commit to a franchise when I don’t even have the money to get started,” but instead I said YES! When Coldwell Banker assigned me an incredible mentor to guide me and he shared ideas of what I needed to do, I could have said “No, I can’t do that idea.” Honestly, I was so afraid to implement many of the ideas he suggested. At that time, I truly loved and excelled at selling real estate, but only in a one-on-one setting. The idea of speaking up in public was way out of my comfort zone. I was so timid that I would not even share about my new listings at the local MLS meetings. Those that know me now do not believe that story, but it is the truth. I ignored my fears and just did what my mentor told me to do. I said YES! When we wanted to grow, and it was time to open another office from scratch, as a start up, I said YES! I had no idea how to open a successful office and really didn’t even realize how risky start up offices were and how many start up offices fail to launch. I said, “Yes, let’s do it!”  We’ve now opened 11 start up offices, with plans of opening more in the future.

We often say NO to the things we should say YES to while saying YES to things we should say NO. We say YES to things we feel obligated to do and NO to the things that would drive our goals forward. The question becomes, what should we say YES to?

  1. Say YES to things that you fear but you believe are important for your growth. You don’t know what you can accomplish until you say YES. You have no idea how much capability you have until you say YES.
  2. Say YES to mentors. Mentors are a HUGE component in growth. A good mentor will challenge you and hold you accountable. They will inspire you. Find a mentor and say YES to what they tell you to do.
  3. Say YES to learning from others. Anyone. Not just those you feel are ahead of you in the journey but anyone. Being open to learning exposes you to growth you don’t even know is possible, while learning from those who are behind you on the journey keeps your ego in check. They do know more than you in lots of areas that matter.
  4. Say YES to a big dream. Chances are, you are not dreaming NEARLY big enough. I know I didn’t. But if you say YES when you are scared (revisit #1 if you need to!), your dreams will grow as fast as you grow.
  5. Say YES to giving back. That is why I went to New York City in the first place. So many people in the Coldwell Banker system have given to me. They have invested in my life and my company. I need to say YES to giving back every time I can.

Today, we have 15 offices with 650 of the most talented, successful, kind, warm human beings that work together as a team at Coldwell Banker Apex.  Truly remarkable, inspirational people who work collaboratively in an industry that sometimes is filled with ego and drama instead of collaboration. I look around at this group, and I am truly amazed at the blessings that have come my way through these people. As I look back from where I am at today, I wonder what would have happened if I said NO, and I am so grateful I said YES. Now, I need to buy that YES button!

If you’re a part of the Coldwell Banker network and interested in listening to the next Women in Leadership call, be sure to visit CB Exchange and search “Women in leadership” to find out the details.

Top Three Devices Buyers will Love – and What I’ll be Looking for at CES

The following post is a guest contribution from Angel Piontek, associate broker and vice president of marketing at Coldwell Banker Elite.

The popularity of smart home devices has continually increased year over year.  In 2019, 33.2% of households are equipped with smart home devices, and this figure is expected to rise to 53.9% by 2023.  The increasing popularity and ubiquity of these connected devices can be used as a marketing differentiator when selling a home.  New home builders are incorporating smart home in their offerings and buyers are already starting to expect move-in ready homes to have smart home upgrades. And that’s why I’m back for my third year in a row at CES. Below are three smart home classics that buyers always love. I’ll be looking out for new takes on these old favorites, as well as mind blowing innovations, and sharing what I find all month long.

Using smart home devices as a marketing tool can be tricky.  Be sure to install devices from brands consumers will recognize.  Privacy and security is a concern for many, so using reliable and recognizable brands will help put those buyers at ease.  Here are the top three devices you should consider including when selling your home that will attract buyers.

A smart doorbell camera

Chances are, you’ve seen porch pirate videos online.  They make a pretty compelling argument for installing a camera with a clear view of your front porch.  They not only alert you when there is motion detected but some devices use facial recognition technology that lets you know when a stranger is at the door.  In most cases, an associated app on your smart phone will send you a push notification when someone rings the doorbell, enabling you to speak to your visitor in real time.  Most smart doorbell cameras also store recorded video and audio, depending on the settings you choose.  The 24-hour surveillance gives homeowners peace of mind.

A smart lock

Gone are the days when you had to hide a key under a fake rock.  A smart lock provides convenience, security, and safety.  You can give virtual keys to neighbors, visiting family members, or your cleaning company. Since the keys are virtual, they can be set as temporary or simply revoked when no longer needed.  An activity log will allow you to see a complete history of who has accessed your home, complete with dates and exact times.  Remote access will let you lock and unlock your door from anywhere that you have a smart phone, tablet, or computer, with internet access.  Some are equipped with geofencing which will allow you to automatically lock your doors when your phone is outside the configured perimeter.  Buyers will love the security and peace of mind that smart locks can provide.

A smart learning thermostat

A smart thermostat is an investment that will actually save you money.  From energy conservation to convenience, it’s a must-have smart home device.  The best smart thermostats learn your habits and create a schedule based on your actual usage.  You will be able to control your heating and cooling system even when you’re away from home.  Buyers will love that they will be saving money on utilities.

Each of these devices typically range in price between $200 – $300.  There are many other smart home devices that can attract buyers depending on where you live.  For example, if you live in an area where water management is important, it may be worth investing in a smart sprinkler system. Since these systems use environmental sensors to collect information about weather conditions real time, this is a great way to adjust automatically and reduce water consumption. A smart sprinkler system also lets you easily schedule waterings, and some will even allow you to create watering zones in your yard.

If you’re a buyer looking at a home with smart devices installed, devices like smart light bulbs and voice assistants are considered personal property and may not convey with the sale.  If there’s a question of conveyance, get things in writing up front.  It will save you a lot of unnecessary annoyance at closing if everyone is on the same page.  It’s important to work with an agent who knows smart home whether you’re buying or selling.

If you’re already affiliated with Coldwell Banker and want to learn more about our smart home resources, visit CB Exchange and search “Smart Home.”

If you would like to know what Coldwell Banker agents have access to, head to and explore the possibilities of moving your business to Coldwell Banker.

How to Prepare Your Home This Winter for a Successful Spring Sale

If you are planning to sell your home next spring, why not get a jumpstart during the fall /winter season so you have more time and less stress while preparing? An added plus is that your home could potentially be ready to list in time for the early spring selling season at the end of January when the market is less crowded. It’s a win-win! Here’s our go-to list of what sellers should be doing now to ensure for a successful sale next spring.

1. Assess Your Home’s Condition – Inside & Out

The first step is to do a thorough walk-thru with an objective eye. Does it have “move-in ready appeal” that will “wow” young, savvy buyers? Is there chipped paint on moldings and trim? Is the front entry carpet runner worn and could benefit from replacing? Look at your property through the lens of your buyer and determine what needs the most attention so that Millennials with families can immediately connect and envision themselves living there with minimal work to do when they move in. 

2. First Impressions Go a Long Way

With the changing seasons, try to tackle exterior repairs and landscaping while you can by keeping gutters clean, lawn raked, shrubs trimmed and driveways/walkways shoveled. For an inviting front porch with curb appeal, maintain a polished look each season with welcoming accents such as potted evergreens or berry branches, a beautiful wreath on the door, glowing lanterns, and a colorful welcome mat.

Living Room Staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

3. Remove Distractions & Get Organized

Tackle clutter one room at a time and decide whether to keep or purge items based on when you last touched or used it. Remove personal items, collectibles and excessive furniture that distract from the room’s key features as well as its perceived size and flow. Then organize the remaining items with efficient storage solutions such as baskets and containers for closets, drawers and cabinets.

Library Staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

4. Make it Fresh & Bright 

Ask yourself if the color on the walls and cabinets is too dark? Does wallpaper need to be removed? Are window treatments dated and heavy? Does worn carpet need replacing? Do hardwood floors need polishing? Simply adding a fresh coat of neutral “greige” paint to dark walls will brighten the room by creating a backdrop to showcase the other elements in the room, such as the white trim, new carpeting, wall art, and furniture (as shown in library above).

Living Room Staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

5. Create the “Wow Factor”

Once you’ve invested in the necessary upgrades for move-in ready appeal, buyers still need to emotionally connect by envisioning how their furnishings will look in the space. Staging a home is an investment in getting the property sold and for top dollar. Professional stagers can create the “wow” factor that might be needed after all of the repairs and upgrades are finished. Complete the look with strategically placed modern furniture paired with pops of colorful and inviting accents that will make a lasting impression as pictured in the living room photo above. 

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit

5 Tips for Staying Organized in the New Year

The following is a guest post from The Closet Works, Inc.

Each new year is a time for goal-setting and renewal. If you’re like so many others out there, you may have set your sights on getting organized in 2019—knowing what you have and where it’s located throughout your house, from your bedroom closet to your home office.

It seems like a relatively straightforward task—but if it was that easy, wouldn’t we all be organized all the time? So many of us get stuck before we truly get started and can’t seem to stay organized over time.

If you’re planning to focus on organization in the new year, here are some tips that will set you up for success.

1. Define a Decluttering Process

Whether you’re planning to declutter your entire house over a weekend or focus on just your master bedroom closet, it’s best to determine your process before you start. The best way to start getting organized is to get the full view of what you have by taking everything out of the space, reviewing it and then deciding what stays and what goes. For your closet, you should consider donating items you haven’t worn in a year or two and discarding garments that are stained or can’t be repaired. 

Decluttering your home office is similar—remove all bills, files, equipment and anything else that’s hiding in a drawer and keep what’s necessary and shred, donate or digitize the rest. Creating a repeatable process will not only make the decluttering feel more manageable, it’ll set you up for success.

2. Tackle Clutter Little By Little to Avoid Getting Overwhelmed

Part of the reason many people aren’t able to get and stay organized is because they see it as a big project—but it doesn’t have to be. If a full-house declutter isn’t in the cards for you this week, tackling clutter little by little could be. Creating a checklist (or downloading this one) that guides you to clean out a different small area each day can help your home feel more organized in just a few weeks.

  1. Give Yourself a Deadline

You’ve got a plan to get organized—now it’s up to you to actually do the work. If you’re enlisting the help of a professional organizer or a custom closet company, they’ll work with you to plan when your custom organization system will be installed. Then, you can work backward to figure out when you need to organize your closet, mudroom, pantry or office.

If you’re not working with a custom organization company, you’ve got some more wiggle room. Whatever you do, set a deadline, but be realistic! Create a schedule that includes extra time in case life gets in the way.

  1. Avoid Distractions

To help you meet the goal you’ve set, work without being distracted. That might mean scheduling time to organize a particular room in your house or a specific part of your closet, such as your shoes or accessories. When that time comes, put your phone in another room for distraction-free organizing and start decluttering. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done with just a little bit of focused work.

When you’ve finished reviewing your old clothes and sorting them into piles, for example, reward yourself with a short break.

5. Consider Getting Help from the Pros

The best way to stay organized is to have a place for everything—down to the last bangle bracelet, watch, belt and handbag. And sometimes, the best way to do that is to enlist the help of a custom organization company. The Designers there can take a look at everything you need to organize and develop a plan for custom organization solutions that meet your needs—and fit all your stuff. Putting a custom solution in place will make storing your things—and finding them when you need them—a little easier.

Whether you’re moving into a completely new home or just looking to stay organized, following some simple decluttering tips can help you enjoy your spaces more and gain inspiration from them.

Why Leading Through Authenticity is More Critical Than Ever

This is a contributor post by Sue Yannaccone, regional executive VP, Eastern Seaboard and Midwest regions of  Coldwell Banker/NRT

There is an obvious lack of women in leadership positions across the board in just about any industry one looks at. Within my own industry, real estate, women make up nearly 70% of the industry yet rarely are represented at the top of the industry in leadership. Fortunately, Coldwell Banker Real Estate is facing this upwards mobility challenge within real estate through their work with WomanUP!® and by spotlighting the women who lead within the company.

Recently I was invited to lead a conversation with the women of Coldwell Banker on achieving dreams, leading through changing times and driving to results from the perspective of, well, a woman.

Why the perspective matters, I’ll get to. But first let me encapsulate my leadership philosophy, which focuses around authenticity and inspiration bolstered by execution in the form of accountability, and how critically important that is when leading through change.

Somewhere along my path, I realized that to be a true leader and gain a following, you must lead from your authentic self. A few game changing thoughts that I believe every aspiring leader (woman or man) should follow:

1) Do not create yourself in the likeness of what you think a leader should be, but rather through the likeness of yourself leading.

2) Don’t apologize for using your voice; but be sure to use it in ways you are proud of.

3) Don’t shy away from making tough decisions; but be sure they are in fact your decisions because you, and you alone, must own them.

4) Don’t create a look, a feel, a perspective that blends in with all others; Amplify your unique perspective and approach to create your unique path to success.

It boils down to something as simple as this…do not create yourself in the likeness of what you think a leader should be, but rather through the likeness of yourself leading. The amount of energy it takes to show up in the guise of what you believe someone else expects is exhausting and that energy is better channeled to excel in your career. Also, the people who chose to put you in a position of leadership put you there for who you are or else they would have selected someone else.

And remember when on that path, a true leader is less consumed with their individual results than those of the overall organization. That perspective is typically fueled by a belief in the mission, belief in the company for which you work and the charge you are leading. And when that company you believe in is faced with change, focus on understanding the case for change through a clear and open mind.

Great success lies in one’s ability to harness the power that comes with change; by embracing the opportunity that is created when a business, market or organization is faced with a new direction for the future. As a leader, it’s my role to get others to share that view. To galvanize the masses and charge up the hill.

It is in these moments that the ability to inspire others to be the best version of themselves is critically important. Even more, it is imperative that you provide your team the tools, support and coaching to achieve greatness. While that may sound somewhat altruistic, and maybe it is, think for a minute about the best leaders you’ve seen — do they charge up said hill alone? Or do they have an army behind them working together to get to the top?

As a leader I believe it is my responsibility to build future leaders, to take those who have the talent, the passion and the commitment to the next level. I am all in when they are. I will provide the tools, support, guidance and coaching to succeed. And I will hold them accountable to doing their job.

Being held accountable to accomplishing a goal is a good thing; it means the goal matters to the organization and it means your success matters to your leaders. We fail as leaders if we don’t clearly set expectations, consistently measure performance, report back and, importantly, coach our team when needed.

Now, why does a women’s perspective on this matter? Honestly it shouldn’t. But it does because there are aren’t a sufficient number of us leading the charge up the hill. Are we afraid to inspire others to “dream big” or are we afraid to do so ourselves? Are we hesitant to hold other’s accountable or to hold ourselves accountable? Do we fear how we will be perceived if we grab that seat at the table or if we fail? I have no idea, but I do know that too often we look for someone to follow rather than lead and we wait for someone else to define our path, our limits.

In a time of constant change the pressure to conform can be great. During these times it is most important to be your authentic self as your sustainable success depends on it. It is my personal goal to inspire women to set their sights higher, to know that they can achieve their dreams, no matter how big. And if no one else is doing it, hold yourself accountable because sooner or later I know you’ll be in a position to do the same for others.

If you’re a part of the Coldwell Banker network and interested in listening to the next Women in Leadership call, be sure to visit CB Exchange and search “Women in leadership” to find out the details.