My favorite things of 2016

29 December 2016

I’m channeling my inner Oprah by creating this post about eight of my favorite things of the past year.

Container Store clear plastic shoe boxes

My favorite things of 2016

Container Store shoe boxes

These clear plastic boxes are my go-to organizing supply. I use them more than other in my organizing sessions. (An employee of the local Container Store recently told me she thinks I buy more of them than any other customer.) In my business, I primarily lead teams of organizers to effect swift change. I always (always!) bring along a selection of plastic shoe and sweater boxes from The Container Store. The sizes I keep in stock are Accessory, Ladies’, Tall Ladies’ Men’s, Sweater and Deep Sweater. I almost never use them for shoes or sweaters, mind you. Instead, my team members and I use them to sort items into categories. And because they come with lids and stack together nicely, we often use them for storing categories of items on a shelf. We even use them for dividers in deep drawers from time to time. I’m not sure what I’d do without them!

Two-tier cutlery tray

My favorite things of 2016

Two-tier cutlery tray

This was one of my favorite things in our newly renovated kitchen. (I detailed my favorite storage features of my new kitchen earlier this year.) With this cutlery insert, you can double the amount of items you store in your cutlery drawer. It’s genius! We took the contents of two drawers in our old kitchen and fit it all into one smaller drawer. (We did have to relocate a few taller items.) Our cutlery tray came with the new kitchen cabinets, but I see you can buy one at Bed Bath and Beyond and install it in your existing cabinet.

Favorite apps

There are three apps that I use each and every day. They make my life better. They are:

  • Evernote. I’m sure you’ve heard of this desktop and mobile app that does an amazing job of helping you keep track of things. I use it for many aspects of my life, from shopping lists to recipes to keeping track of invoices to keeping track of my genealogy research. I have lists of books I want to read (and books I’ve read), along lists of movies and tv shows. I have account numbers I want easy access to. And I use it to remind me of date-dependent tasks. I blogged about how I use it last year, but I’m due for an update since how I use it constantly evolving. It took me a few years of trying to go all in on Evernote but now I’m a big fan.
  • NPR One. This free app gives you complete control over listening to NPR content. I blogged in detail about why I love it, but in a nutshell, you tell the app what you like and don’t like among the offerings it puts in front of you and it learns what to offer you. And you can pause and restart shows. So it’s like listening to NPR on your car radio only a thousand times better.
  • Elevate. I’m in my mid fifties and my brain doesn’t feel as sharp as it did in my youth. I figure it can’t hurt to play brain games on a regular basis. I’ve tried a few and Elevate is my favorite. I play three games a day, faithfully believing they’ll keep me from becoming less sharp. The games are mostly verbal and math, they take just a few minutes to complete, and I think they’re fun. They usually make me feel smart and occasionally make me feel dumb. The app is free, though you can pay for the premium edition, with more games. (I went ahead and ponied up $45 a year for that.)

Profit First, by Mike Michalowicz

My favorite things of 2016

Profit First book

This business book revolutionized the way I think about my business; I heartily recommend it to other owners of small businesses. I first heard about Profit First from Cathy Sexton of The Productivity Experts, who gave a presentation about the Profit First concept to the St. Louis chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers. It took me a couple of months to implement it, but I haven’t looked back. The basic premise of the system is to pay yourself first and also put away money for taxes and profit, before paying operating expenses. (Rather than paying operating expenses and running out of money for taxes or for paying yourself.) If you can’t afford to pay your operating expenses after taking out salary, taxes and profit, then it’s time to cut your operating expenses. Simple, but revolutionary. It takes a little effort to open the various bank accounts the system calls for, but the effort has definitely been worth it for me. Great stuff.


my favorite things of 2016

Bix with his BarkBox mustache ball

Our standard poodle, Bix, joined our family as a little puppy just over a year ago. I immediately signed him up for BarkBox, which I had heard about on Facebook. Every month, Bix receives a themed box of toys and healthy treats from BarkBox. It’s always the highlight of the month. The toys are durable and clever—and unique to BarkBox. Bix is a huge player and he enjoys his vast and growing collection of toys. I try to embrace minimalism in my life but this is one area where I am not remotely minimalist. But the joy that BarkBox brings to the human and canine family members cannot be overstated. if you buy a Barkbox subscription through this link, you’ll get an extra month added to your subscription (and so will Bix).

Hamilton, the musical

Can't wait to hold this Playbill in my hand!

Hamilton has been rocking my world since I saw the PBS documentary about it in October. Since then, I’ve listened to the soundtrack daily and when I’m not listening to it, it’s running through my head. I wrote a blog post about it on Halloween, complete with links of various videos to watch, so I won’t go into much detail here. But suffice it to say that seeing the show tops my goals list for 2017. I so admire the genius of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda to tell the story of our very interesting founding father in such an accessible and enjoyable format. Honestly, I think the lyrics and music of Hamilton are works of art. I can’t wait to see the choreography and acting first hand. In a difficult year, Hamilton will always be a highlight for me.

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I use so many Container Store plastic shoes boxes, I might (maybe) rival your purchases! I use them in the laundry room (for batteries; lightbulbs; picture hanging hardware; tape, glue, and adhesives; flashlights); in my under-the-fridge freezer where, lid-less, they act like drawers, allowing me to keep frozen vegetables neatly stacked and never lose anything in the back; for giftwrap (one for scissors, tape, and tags, another for ribbons); in the fridge, where one holds jars of nuts and dried fruit that used to get knocked over all the time; in the linen closet, where one keeps paper napkins from being mangled and another holds napkin rings and the like; and in the coat closet, where they keep gloves, hats, and scarves (at last, one place where they’re actually holding clothes!). They are sturdy, easy to clean, and, unlike some other brands, a consistent size year after year, so I can get more and they always match. The lids always fit. Can you tell that I love them, too? Now you’ve sent me to the app store to try Elevate. I love your list of favorite things, Janine!

Margaret Lukens 12/30/2016 04:50 PM

Margaret, I’m glad you share my love for the Container Store’s plastic shoeboxes! Thanks for sharing how you use them. I sincerely hope you don’t rival my purchases of them, if your use is solely in your home, because I buy close to 1,000 a year! But they’re in virtually every room of my house, too.

Happy new year to you, my friend!

Janine Adams 12/31/2016 06:09 PM

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About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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