The Ten Minute Rule

Walking into the house with little ones can be stressful. Everyone seems to need something at the same time and you have things that you need to do. The solution: the ten minute rule. Whenever I entered the house I would politely announce, “Ten Minute Rule!” My kids knew what that meant – don’t ask me for anything for ten minutes. This ten minutes gave me a chance to do the following:

Put my keys away on my key hook (maybe you have a bowl or a ledge) so they could be easily found later


Put my pocketbook away

Empty the dirty clothes out of my gym bag

Go through the mail – recycling unwanted mail, and filing my “to read” mail in my hanging file holder




Put any leftover dirty dishes into the dishwasher

Put away any items that I purchased from CVS, Target, etc.

Jot down any notes on my To-Do list

The kids were expected to put away their lunch boxes, emptying any leftovers. They could also get themselves a snack and a drink of water if they couldn’t wait.  Sometimes I set the timer to remind myself (and them) when it was over.




It sounds simple but it let me get the house tidy and it put me at ease and ready to help the kids with their homework. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or

Solutions for Toy Storage!

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or

I have worked with so many Moms over the years, organizing their toys, books, and clothes. I love it when I come across a new idea to solve an old problem. Here are some out-of-the-box solutions to consider.


Stuffed Animals


Stuffed animals can be a challenge. We have all seen the hanging, mesh holders and the hammock. But I really liked this DIY idea because the kids can grab just one animal without dumping the whole lot. They can see the animals and, most importantly, put them back! It reminds me of zoo!

This was made from a $15 bookcase, some bungee cords with the ends cut off and hooks removed, and a drill. Impressive!


Barbie Dolls


Consider using a clear shoe holder to store Barbies. It keeps them within reach and off the floor. And it looks great!


Craft Supplies


Use food storage containers to corral craft supplies. These are clear so your little ones can see what is inside. And it will make putting away these supplies a snap!


Bath Toys


A fruit basket can become a toy caddie in the bathroom. The toys will dry out and stay in one place. Inexpensive and useful!


Small Toys


Toys with small pieces can live in tool chest. One drawer for each type of toy. It gives your space a cool, industrial look!

Try one of these solutions and see how it works for you!



Five Tips to Maintaining Your Organized House

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or

You did it! Your spring cleaning was a success! Everything has a home and your rooms are tidy and neat! But then, a few weeks later, the clutter-monster has returned! I am constantly asked – how do I maintain an organized room?


Here are a few tips:

Make it easier to put day-to-day items away.

But how? Store things where you use them. If you are constantly using band-aids in the kitchen, store them there instead of in the bathroom. Don’t stuff your containers until they are overflowing. This leaves no room for new items. Try to leave some room at the top. This may require more storage containers than you thought you needed.

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Let it go! Let it go!

 Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or



Spring cleaning your house can be rewarding but challenging. For some, deciding what to toss, what to keep, and what to donate can seem daunting. This stops some people in their tracks, causing them to give up their organizing project completely. After pulling all items out of the area that you are organizing and sorting them by kind (legos with the legos, cars with the cars, etc.), now is the time to make some decisions.

Although there is no one strategy that will work for all people, here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you decide when it is okay to let it go!

Consider these questions and decide which one(s) resonate with you. Ask yourself only the question or two that will move you into action:


Have I used this item in the past year?

If no, and it is not an heirloom, you should toss or donate it.

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Conceal or Reveal – Find Your Organizing Style

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or


As you try to conquer your clutter, it may help to think about your organizing style as a concealer – someone who likes items out-of-sight – or a revealer – someone who likes to keep their items in view. Finding your preference will help you decide where to keep items and what kind of storage containers and systems you should use.

How do I find my style?

Ask yourself these yes or no questions:

  1. If I put something away do I forget where I put it or I forget that I have to take action on it?
  2. Do I find that out-of-sight means out-of mind?
  3. Do I gravitate toward clear bins so that I can see what is inside them?
  4. Can I live with seeing toys, files, mail, etc., out in the open?
  5. Do I prefer to use labels so that I can tell exactly where each item belongs?

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Organizing Mistakes – What not to do when conquering your clutter!

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or

Sometimes we have good intentions – let’s get rid of some clutter this weekend! But then Sunday night rolls around and all you have are new piles of stuff and a few things thrown away. Here are some mistakes that people make when trying to declutter their homes (and how to avoid them).

Zig-zag – The biggest mistake that people make when organizing is what is called zig-zagging.  You are planning on an organizing session in the kitchen, you find a book there, you go into the office to put it away, you find a toy there so you go to the playroom to put that away, then you start putting away toys and you never make it back to the kitchen.  When organizing, keep an “upstairs” bag and an “office” bag, for example, near the door and put those items away after you are done in the kitchen.



Getting Distracted – Another common mistake is not making a commitment to focus on the organization without distractions – no kids, no phone calls, no emails, for a set amount of time. Set a timer if needed and keep working until the timer goes off!



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DIY Organizing Projects

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or



We all love a good DIY project and if it helps keep our lives organized, even better.  Here are a few ideas. I have to admit, I have only tried the ribbon box (I made this one years ago for my mom).  Let me know if you try them!  Would love to hear some success stories!

Ribbon Box

I first made seven holes in one long side of the box with a utility knife. I then made one hole on each of the short ends of the box at the same height. I covered the bottom of the inside of the box with fabric, using fabric glue.

Then I covered the entire box and lid with fabric, wrapping it like a present and using more fabric glue to hold it in place.


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Habits From College That Can Help You Stay Organized Today!


 Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or

College dorm rooms are typically small with multiple occupants sharing one space. Although you may not want to return to those living conditions any time soon, some habits that you had back then could help you stay clutter-free today. Here are five ideas to keep in mind:

1.  Shower caddies – If bathroom space is limited, give each family member a portable shower caddy for carrying toiletries to and from their bedroom. They are light and inexpensive!


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Children’s Artwork: What to Keep and Where to Keep It


Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or



We all love our kids’ artwork. The tiny handprints, the sun with the face, the macaroni skeleton. But saving it all is impractical. As a professional organizer, I am constantly being asked: With all these piles of masterpieces, how do we decide what to keep and how do we store it?

Here are some ideas to help you and your child proudly display, sort, and store those works of art.

Display It

Designate one high-traffic area where you can display the newest, favorite works immediately. A clothesline can be strung high on a wall with clothespins to hold the art or clips can hang from the ceiling.

thermostat camoflauge with IKEA RIBBA shelf   kids art hanging from ceiling

Photos above courtesy of

A hinged frame from is great. Newer works are placed in front; up to 50 older works are stored behind it. This allows for easy display and storage.

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Cleaning Out Clutter: Where Can It Go Besides the Curb?

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions I receive from clients about how to clear out our houses without filling up our landfills.

What can I do with all these books, DVDs, and CDs?

Schools often have used book sales to benefit their PTA and would be happy to take used books off your hands. If you’re in Alexandria, you can donate books for the George Mason Elementary school’s book fair through Sarah Goldstein. Mount Vernon Community School just launched their Alexandria Book Shelf in the front lobby which enables kids to take as many free books as they want. You can contact the PTA for information about how to donate your used books.


Books, CDs, and DVDs can also be donated to your local library to be placed in circulation or, more often, to be sold at book sales. If you’re in Alexandria, contact your branch’s Friends of the Library. It is helpful to the library if you call ahead of time with information on the materials, the amount of the materials, and the estimated time of the drop off.


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