Home Life

Maintaining a clutter-free home



by Debbie Bowden of Organize Now

Let’s say you get your house organized. You’ve worked hard, probably with a knot in your stomach, but you are rewarded with no junk, no clutter, no extraneous stuff. Good job. Now you can move on to the real secret of being organized – maintenance.

Maintenance isn’t nearly as time consuming as initially organizing, but it does call for diligence. This step in the process of being completely organized calls for a change in habit. Like any habit we change it means doing things differently and establishing a new pattern.

Here’s a tip that is a tremendous help with maintenance, and only takes 5 to 10 minutes a day. Go through your entire house and pick up stuff. It doesn’t matter what time of day as long as it is around the SAME time each day (I do this when I get home from work because I am NOT a morning person). To start this new habit, literally walk through every room. Look for stuff that is out of place and put it back in its spot. Remove items that don’t belong and put them where they do belong. Most importantly, finish the room before moving on to the next.

Let me repeat that – finish the room before moving on to the next. It is too easy to get distracted by trying to tackle multiple rooms all at once. Distraction is probably the number one culprit of not having a good maintenance routine.

When you first start a maintenance routine it may take you longer than 10 minutes. But each day the time you dedicate to maintaining will shorten. Before you know it, your house is consistently organized, and that is a habit you can definitely live with.

Does Empty Space Attract Clutter?

by Debbie Bowden of Organize Now


I hear, “Well, there sure is a lot of space now.” That statement puts fear into the heart of an organizer because when most people are faced with empty space, they feel a strong urge to fill it. Then guess what – more clutter!

Here are a few tricks to fool the eye that the empty space just doesn’t exist:

Arrange your clothes with 2 to 3 inches between each piece. This gives the illusion that the closet is full, but gives more actual space if needed. (An added benefit – your clothes won’t get wrinkled being crammed together.)

Get a Free Septic System Upgrade - And Protect the Bay!

 Did you know that the septic systems many of us use actually leak nitrogen that can harm the Chesapeake Bay, your stream, and our drinking water?

Septic systems account for 7% of the nitrogen in our water.  Those septic systems in critical areas (within 1000 feet of the Bay's tidal waters - 51,000 homes) contribute the most nitrogen.


If you own a septic system, you can get a FREE upgrade to make sure it removes harmful pollution while at the same time protecting and extending the life of your septic system. The new equipment, the installation, and 5 years of maintenance are absolutely free -- 100 percent of your costs are paid through the Bay Restoration Fund.

The Fund, not surprisingly, is becoming popular - there is now a waiting list for approval.  Priority goes to those with currently failing septic systems (water backing up in the toilet or yard). 

First priority: failing septic system within critical area.
Second priority: failing septic system out of critical area.
Third: outdated system in the critical area
Last: outdated system outside of the critical area.

Is Sentimental Clutter Making You Miserable?

by Debbie Bowden
Debbie is the owner of
http://www.organizenowmd.com[_new]Organize Now, in Barclay, MD.

We all keep mementos of the past as a trigger for the memory connected to the thing. Presumably the memories attached to the thing are good memories, otherwise, why would we hold on to it? Many are afraid (strong word, but very appropriate) to get rid of the memento for fear the memory will fade also.

That good feeling from the memory triggered by the thing is trumped by the bad feeling of clutter!

What memories will you have 5 10, 15 years from now of your home? Will the plastic flamingo key chain from Florida with one of the legs broken be what you remember? Will you be thinking of the dried carnations from the corsage your boyfriend gave you at the senior prom? Will you remember the gads and gads of STUFF from places you visited (or worse, the gifts from places other people visited)?

The key to finding your keys

by Debbie Bowden
How many times have you misplaced* your keys in your purse? Go ahead, I’ll wait while you recount the number of times.

I have done it myself (it happens to all of us) even though my purse is organized. But a little piggy saved me – here’s how.

I was given an orange piggy key fob. I don’t collect pigs and I don’t like to have a lot of extraneous stuff on my key ring. But I thought, “wait a minute!” What a great tool to have to help me find my keys. The vibrant color makes it perfect to see when I’m searching the depths of my purse. The unusual shape is great to get a hold of when I’m rooting around the pockets. And if by a slim chance my keys are grouped with other sets, I instantly know which set belongs to me.

Have no fear of organizing!

by Debbie Bowden
Fear is a powerful emotion. Most times it causes us to not move forward, to stop in our tracks. Even when our brain is saying, “its ok,” the fearful spirit says, “but I’m afraid.”

Starting the process of organizing can be a scary experience, especially when you bring in an outsider to help.

Here are some things that clients have told me they thought before letting me help:

Get rid of the clutter, manage your space better, and have more time.

Want Your Closets to Look this Good?Want Your Closets to Look this Good?"I know the stress of a messy living space, and I appreciate the stress of never having enough time," explains Debbie Bowden, owner of Organize Now. She started the local professional organizing service three years ago to help people feel satisfied in their homes and gain time during the day.

Debbie developed a simple 5 step process: Gather, Sort, Categorize, Distribute, Maintain. The "Maintain" step is essential, and she provides a written maintenance plan so clients will STAY organized. And for added value, she does a 3-month follow-up visit at no extra charge.

Being “Clothes” Minded

by Debbie Bowden

Here's an easy way to keep your clothes organized -- use the same color hangers! You will be surprised at how much neater your clothes seem when they are on the same color hangers. White hangers are great, but you can be colorful too (there are even purple hangers out there). And one more thing -- keep a place on the closet rod to hang empty hangers. Once you wear an item, place the empty hanger in this space. That way you don't have the empties jetting out all over the place.

To really get your clothes straight, start by sorting all like items together -- jackets, suits, dresses, skirts, pants, tops. Then organize the like items together by color and hang them up going from dark to light. This method works just as well in dresser drawers -- keep like items together and sort by color.

Worm Farming 101

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Worm ComposterWorm ComposterI love the concept of worm farming - of letting the little slimy critters do their job - eat my garbage, and give me nutrient rich fertilizer! A few years ago I purchased a somewhat involved worm composting system and set it up in the garage. My mail order worms arrived - were set up in their dark home, and were sporadically fed my garbage. I was, perhaps, not the best example of a worm farmer - since I never recall actually using their compost on my garden and found out - too late - that the garage was a bit too cold for their winter survival.

Go Green in Annapolis!

“Spring into the Dream ... Annapolis is Green!”
Ed Begley, Jr., Green Building Seminar and Tour Coming in April

ANNAPOLIS, Md — Eco-friendly living and green building initiatives will be showcased this April at a series of events hosted by Historic Annapolis Foundation. The events include:

Ed Begley Jr.Ed Begley Jr.

"An Evening with Ed Begley, Jr.” April 6 from 7 - 9 p.m. at the Annapolis Westin Hotel featuring a lecture and book signing by the actor and environmental leader

The Green Building Tour April 25 from noon - 6 p.m., of area residential and commercial buildings in Annapolis, Eastport, Severna Park, Pasadena and the Brooklyn area of south Baltimore that will showcase how to put energy saving technology, sustainable building materials or environmentally friendly practices to work.

The events, designed to inform, entertain and illustrate, will appeal to a broad audience. They are structured so that participants will have the ability to interact with the experts. Proceeds will benefit Historic Annapolis Foundation.

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