Author Archives: organizeonce

Getting to know you … through a mug?

In the organizing biz I come across some very special items that people are holding on to for a certain reason. The kitchen is often where these items pop up and they are so special. I LOVE to hear all about them as we purge and organize and put them right back in the cupboard, where they belong.  Here are a few from some friends – thanks ladies for the memories!

First, is from my friend Julie Cole, busy Mama of six and Mabel’s Labels awesomeness.  That tag often comes with Julie’s name so you need to know that she is really just a great gal to know and always has been.  Even before the super-fantastico labels idea!

“I love my Canada AM mug because I loved being a regular contributor on the show and it was cancelled. I miss it! Plus it’s a nice BIG mug that holds enough tea to keep me going”!

Totally get the size thing Julie, bigger is ALWAYS better. (Except that time in grade 6 & 7 with Cynthia when we went to the variety store at the bottom of Four Seasons, bigger NOT better, scarred for life).











The next one comes from my oldest friend (sorry Weegie, that didn’t come out right, you’re not that old), my friend for the longest time … Lisa.  She is a veteran Kindergarten teacher.

“I don’t necessarily have a mug with such meaning or one that could tell stories, as I live by myself and the conversation isn’t all that exciting early in the morning when I enjoy that first cup.  That being said, there is still a favourite one that I choose, not so much because it means something to me but more because of its size!!  A nice extra large cup of coffee gets me up and moving in the morning and ready to face a brood of hyperactive 6-year-olds.  This mug was a small gesture gift from a friend one Christmas a few years ago.  The other reason I like it is because of the saying written on the front that says “Good Morning Beautiful”!! And who wouldn’t want to wake up to that each morning.  You know its going to be a good day when…”!

Call me in the morning Lisa, I’ll tell you how beautiful you are as I know first hand!











Then there is my hugely talented Interior Design friend Keely Coles from A Room In Mind.  This one makes me laugh each and every time I dig into her fridge for milk when we are having a tea. It belongs to her husband who has had it since his first house and WILL NOT give it up! She calls it ‘wolf milk’ 😂

Keels, it makes me nuts so I can only imagine what it does to you!”











Lastly, is from my friend V.  I have all the feelings for Michele as she is so important to me.  Friends since our Western days and we have been through it all. Here is what she says about it. “Doddsy, ok so the one on the left is actually from you! Years ago you gave that to me. I love this mug. As a teacher it is so meaningful as it reflects the diversity of children and how easy it is to love them as much as I love coffee! The mug on the right was a parting gift from a past principal. I drink from it when I need a little encouragement. So, you can imagine how often I’ve sipped from this one over the past 10 months!

She INSISTS I gave this to her (and that is why it’s her favourite) but I’m not buying it. It’s it nice though … and ‘sparkly’ she certainly is. ✨


Work || Life || Balance

Working Remotely.

We talk a lot about work.

I have to work.

I’m working late.

I work from home.

I work too much.

I need more work.

Werk. Werk. Werk.


Most of us need to work simply for the income, some of us need to work for the challenge.

I think what is best is to find a balance between the two. There is so much joy to be taken from a busy productive day that allows you to take care of your family in the evening.

It has become popular in this day in age to work remotely.  Easier for some than others of course as it really depends on what kind of work you do.  Personality comes into play also as self-scheduling is an important part of the puzzle. Some can easily achieve this and for others it is a bit harder to stay on task.

I myself thrive on the self-scheduling. Clients and family life need to be balanced and prioritized. The better I schedule, the happier everyone is.  There are always hiccups, as I am sure you would expect but for the most part I can make it work for all involved.

The Internet and smart phones play a big part in this and allows the ‘work’ to be done wherever I am.  Does this mean I need to be on my laptop while the kids are in the lake? No, but it means I can find an appropriate time over a cottage weekend to work, have fun and then have time on Monday to join the kids on a field trip.  Win, Win.

Whose working this long weekend and who is relaxing? Who is doing a bit of both? I am.

Jammies For Families

So we all feel good when we do something good. Right?  Right.  

Last year Organize Once decided to ‘feel good’ and do something for a local Charity in Burlington.  I teamed up with my good friend Vicky and away we went with Jammie’s For Families. What a fabulous response we received from our friends, family and local Small Business.  Over 15 bins of NEW socks, underwear & pj’s donated! Tomorrow is the launch of our second year and we are taking it to the Niagara Region also. Take a look below and see what we are all about!



Welcome to the 2016 Jammie’s for Families Campaign!

This year we have two different regions that our donations will go to.

~ The Compassion Society in Burlington.

~ Community Care in the Niagara Region.

Donations collected in each area will go directly those charities so that they may respond to those in need.

Jammie’s for Families was created because NEW socks, PJ’s and underwear are the most needed and least donated items. We hope to collect these NEW items for youth and adults alike each Holiday Season and distribute them to those in need.

 This year we are adding NEW underwear to the list.  Easy to purchase and so appreciated by these local organizations.

If you are willing to be a part of our campaign again this year we thank you in advance for all your support.

Have fun filling those BINS and working with YOUR connections to give to those who really need it in your community a lift this Holiday Season.

Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date!

Andrea & Vicky

A Special Thank You to …

Parts ConneXion – Vicky Switzer

Emma’s Back Porch & The Water Street Cooker

The Fitness Firm

Krista Brescacin & Family

Avalon the Agency

St. Georges Anglican Church

Boogie Down Studio

The Fool & Flagon

PM Wyre

127 Strategies

Phoenix at McMaster

Pathfinders / Girl Guides

Earth Fresh / Michelle Hughes

Henley Honda

Cowork Niagara

Bell Media Niagara

Downsize, de-clutter, donate …

So you think you need to downsize?

Let’s face it, we all could use a bit of downsizing in our life. As I write this I am reminded that I personally need to downsize the time I spend in front of a screen. Whether it is stuff or not, in this day and age, it is probably a good idea to de-clutter and downsize. As with all good ideas, it will be much easier to execute if you make a plan!

Organize Once suggests you use the 3 D’s. De-clutter, Donate & Downsize. 

Be sure you set the stage with these simple steps before you start downsizing to ensure success!

  1. TIME: Start well before your move date. Be sure to book your moving company well in advance to ensure the dates you want.  Ask about providing supplies and understand what you need to provide yourself. Perhaps we left the packing of  ‘things’ to the last minute? Call on friends and family to help out and be prepared to purge! Or look up your local Professional Organizer as they can help get the job done and provide support.
  2. TOOLS: Gather the tools you will need. Boxes for donation, recycling bins, trash bags and packing tools. Having these handy will be an enormous help and save you time.
  3. SORT: Sort items into categories. Pack, Give Away or Donate.  Sorted items will provide you with the ability to delegate the packing part and have groups come in to take away some of your unwanted items. Where will all this stuff go? We like to use different donation centers in the area and divvy up the goods depending on who needs what. Your local Professional Organizerwill have the scoop on that and of course help out if needed.
  4. TAKE AWAY & CLEAN UP: Remove the items to where they need to go. A few trips may be all you need to get your unwanted but valuable items to someone in need. If you have a lot of stuff that you feel is “junk”, 1 800 Got Junk will make sure that it gets recycled or usher it to the landfill for you.

If all this seems too overwhelming there are experts who can help to make your transition smooth and easy. Our colleague Wendy Hollick at Neat Spaces Downsizing & Estate Services says: “Too often, we see individuals taking on needless, additional stress because their transitions are being mismanaged. This can mean a poorly marketed property, not understanding the true scope of the project, or a timeline that doesn’t fit your goals or lifestyle.”

A person’s life …

I met the most wonderful couple a few weeks ago and got to know them well in a short amount of time. That is the beauty of my job, I get more than just a glimpse into peoples lives, sometimes get to see the whole thing.

An older couple, sold their home of 26 years and were moving into a condo. She had done a lot of work in the past year getting rid of things, donating to the church and passing on items for the kids and family to use. Very generous with her donations and considerate of what she could do for others. But time was running out and the movers were coming, so I was called in to to get the job finished.

Her life, as she put it, was literally flashing before her eyes as we went through closets and cupboards, purging, sorting and ridding of things. Some had real monetary value, some sentimental value and some were easy to let go of. Telling stories along the way, laughing, appreciating and having fun.

I felt privileged to be a part of the process and meet the family as they came by to help or to collect what was theirs. To see what was important to her was amazing. I always love that part of my job. What means something to one person may mean nothing to another and it is important to remember that when packing up a life. They are a wonderful family who have built a good life and lived it together.


Small Business Struggle

Owning a small business can be extremely rewarding, should be extremely rewarding.  It can be started at a low cost and on a part-time basis.  It can provide independence and freedom to choose how you operate.  Most often though, entrepreneurs work long hours and customers become the boss.  It can be difficult to get out of the office to work on your business and not to get stuck working in your business.


There is another option to hiring a part or full time employee who will expect employment for a reasonable amount of time, and at a cost to you.  A Professional Organizer can be hired on a contract and ‘as needed’ basis, allowing you to only spend the money until the work is done.  Here is where Organize Once can help.

Do you …

Have piles of paperwork that need to be sorted and filed?

Need some sort of system in place for managing the office, your desk and your employees?

Have data entry that is long behind and needs to be caught up?  Unopened mail that needs to be attended to especially near tax time?

Is your home & home office piled up with to do’s that you cannot get to from clutter?

Perhaps you need some help, some time freed up for family, more community involvement or just to yourself.  Whether 2 hours, 2 days or 2 weeks, we would love to help and look forward to your call for an assessment of your space.  Let’s reclaim the freedom that your small business should allow you!


Organizing a Second Business

Wow! What a time it has been since my last blog. I have had to stay extra organized lately and I will tell you why. I bought into a second business with the agreement that I would run it and also manage my Organize Once business. Truthfully, I wasn’t really aware of what that meant, as the business I bought I knew nothing about. I am happy to say I do know a lot about it today, 8 months later, but I have a ways to go. This is where the ‘organized’ part comes in. Learning something new was quite a job and luckily I have a solid employee, who is also a very decent person, to help me along the way. Thanks Jeremy, I appreciate your patience.

Organize Once is my second passion, my family being the first. If I could spend all day devoted to these two things, I most certainly would. This isn’t the case so I dug into the second business, a Sign Shop – Specializing in Vehicle Trim, with a commitment to myself (and my partners) that I would try to get this business in shape and make it a success. There have been many roadblocks and obstacles to overcome, mostly things that come with every new small business, but they take time, energy, thoughts (I have so many more thoughts now) and just old fashioned hard work. It takes a lot of organizing to keep track of the new things I have learned and been introduced to. Organize Once comes naturally to me and I have no one to keep track of but myself, the Sign Shop is quite different as there are landlords, neighbors, customers and employees to manage. Staying organized certainly makes that easier!

Are we there yet? Not quite but I feel like I am on the right track and soon enough this business will be rolling along and I will have more time to dedicate to my passion, Organize Once.


P.S. This month would be a great time to sort the children’s clothes when they are at school! Sort out what to donate, what to keep for another child, what works in a different season. Purge, make piles, put back and take away the rest! … And now my second business –

Organizing Your School Life

During the school year things can get very unorganized and chaotic. Textbook are strewn throughout desks, muddy boots are shoved into lockers and the homework continues to pile up. For those of you that have kids you know that this time of year is very frenzied for me and many other students in grade 7-8, because of upcoming exams and more and more homework. Although it is tricky, it does not take long to figure out how to keep everything planned and ready for the exam season. At school I am given one locker and one cubby to keep piles and piles of school work and textbooks in. It is an amazing feat to see how you can drastically change how much you can fit in such a little space.


Every now and then my teacher leaves the doors open to cubbies that need a bit of cleaning. They are usually filled with loose papers and are full of textbooks stacked sky high. This is proof that when you are beginning to organize you should always get different folders and files for your loose papers. Assign different colors to every subject so that it is easy to find your homework on time. Another easy way to keep everything clean is to order your textbooks vertically not horizontally. This makes it easier to pull out the correct textbook than if they were stacked one on top of the other.


Another area at school that is cluttered is lockers. When all of the kids run inside after recess muddy boots and snow filler hats and mitts are usually shoved in whatever crack or crevice they can find. This leads to soggy backpacks and mud-filled lunches, and that’s no fun for anybody. Try and keep only one pair of boots or runners at school at all times. This will lead to less clutter and more space in their lockers. Also if you have an older girl, you could create a box with necessities such as hair elastics and lip balm. Gym bags can create a smelly, sweaty stench in a locker. I usually put a tea bag in the source of the smell, (whether it is shoes or socks), because this absorbs the smell. Change the tea bag every week so that it does not begin emitting the stench you collected before. One final tip is to always have a locker clip. This ensures that clothing and other items stay safely inside the locker. Your child can decorate this clip by dangling key chains or colorful bracelets.

All in all, it is very important to keep your school supplies and homework organized when at school. I have found that these tips have really helped me tidy my work space and become a more efficient student overall.

Guest Blogger: Hanna Rose Dodd


In honour of Halloween, let’s talk about that SCARY Spare Bedroom.  You know the space, everyone has one and it is where we dump all those items that we may want but don’t know where to put.  Don’t PANIC, it is an easy fix and not a very scary task to complete!  Set aside the time to complete this project or just set aside a few hours to purge and hire a Professional Organizer to do the rest for you.

First … Purge the room.  Get rid of all those items that are no longer of use to you.  Donate, give to friends/family, sell on Kijiji or just throw it away.  If you find items that belong somewhere else in the house, get them to that space.

Second … Decide what you want that room to be used for.  Perhaps a Guest Room, Craft Room, Extra Closet or Home Office.  Your home is your castle so make the most of the space you have.


Third … Purchase (or rescue from the basement) what you need to keep the room organized and tidy.  This will change depending on what you want the room to be so make sure you decide that first.  Is it bins and baskets, a closet system or desks and drawers?

Lastly, install those new items you need to keep the room organized and put everything away.  Enjoy!  You have just added Real Estate to your home!


Prioritize & Organize

I have been thinking about priorities this weekend.  What is important to me and what is not.  Of course with young children, I need to think about them in this equation too.  What really matters?  What has to get done (groceries, bills paid & homework) and what can wait a few days (landscaping, laundry & mudroom clean up) and what do I WANT to do (bike with the kids, have friends/family for dinner & read).  It is easy to just let our busy schedules take over and prioritize for us but with a little planning, organization (and soul searching!) we can do both what needs to be done and what we enjoy doing.


This was never as clear to me as it is now.  Owning a busy restaurant for 13 years skewed my vision of what was important.  After taking some time off and starting a new business that was just for me I realized that getting organized didn’t just mean my home but it meant my brain too.  My perspective of what matters has changed dramatically for the better.  Spending time with family, being silly with my daughters just because it is fun and just being mentally present for them has become the most important.  I now have the brain energy to put the little things first because they often matter the most.  After that the rest just seems to fall in line.

Happy Sunday!  Do what matters most to you today ….