Tuesday, April 5, 2011

1-2-3...Get Organized Mini-Book Series - Beverly Coggins

Summary:  After studying personality types for over 15 years, Beverly Coggins, professional organizer, created 1-2-3...Get Organized to appeal to those personality types who were overwhelmed by organizing...
The 1-2-3...Get Organized series springs from Coggins’ experience as a professional organizer in both homes and offices [and covers] such topics as office and home organizing, time management in several arenas, as well as organizing for college students, and downsizing for seniors.

Each book is short and covers only one organizing task, addressing the feeling that the job is too huge to tackle. So instead of feeling overwhelmed, the reader is able to take one task at a time and feel a sense of accomplishment upon completing it.  (Summary and Image from http://1-2-3GetOrganized.com - Books given free for review)

My Review:  While there are many books and e-books in this mini-book series, I am only reviewing the following five: 

Three Steps to Clever Cleaning
Three Steps to Time Management for the Stay-at-Home Mom
Three Steps to Decluttering
Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room
Three Steps to Organizing Your Kitchen

First, let's talk about format. These books are tiny -- measuring 6x6 with an average of 26 pages. They are organized into three specific, easy-to-follow steps (or chapters), with even tinier sub-steps given in bullet-point format.  Personally, I prefer paragraphs to bullet points, but the books were short enough that it didn't really matter. 

Initially, I was unsure about the concept of mini-books, but after receiving them, I understand why the author released them as a series. While the book fiend in me longs for one big book, I am not her target audience. Instead, they are designed to help someone who is "overwhelmed" with organizing and only feels capable of handling one area at a time. If you feel like you fall into this category, read on.  However, if you find that you'd like to buy all five of these books, it might be time to get something more comprehensive.

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If I had to pick one person to hire -- chef, housekeeper, or nanny -- I would pick housekeeper in a nanosecond.  Why?  It's simple.  I hate cleaning.  Oh, I can sweep, wipe a counter, and  "tidy" with the best of them, but hand me a toilet brush and I'm more likely to whack you with it than clean a toilet (and wouldn't that be gross).  And dusting?  Forget it.  I picked up Three Steps to Clever Cleaning, hoping to find ways to clean faster and smarter. 

While this book wasn't necessarily a fountain of knowledge in terms of how to clean, it did offer many suggestions on when to clean. I discovered that I tend to excel at the chores that need to be done frequently (sweeping, cleaning counters, picking up toys, etc) but am an all out failure at those that need to be done less often (vacuuming, dusting, cleaning out the fridge).  I think (er..hope) that being aware of my strengths and weaknesses will help me to focus on areas of improvement.  I did pick up a number of clever cleanings tips and was able to identify some cleaning strategies that might work for me.  The final step even provides a month-to-month calendar for those bigger chores that only need to be done a few times a year. 

I did notice a few tips in this book that felt incomplete.  One tip on dusters said that "Swiffer has a duster that claims to collect dust and looks like it would be worth trying."  I felt the author should have actually tried the duster to see if Swiffer lived up to their claim, instead of simply recommending that we try it.  I'm lazy like that.  Also, she recommends using Mr. Clean Magic Erasers on "any cleanable surface" when the packaging clearly states that they should not be used on paint or varnished surfaces.  While I still use mine very lightly to remove fingerprints from walls, I have learned the hard way (Pen swirls on my coffee table) that any pressure on a finished surface can remove the paint or varnish. 

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With three kids, a reading habit, a non-profit blog, and a home that I'm trying to put on the market, it's easy to see why Three Steps to Time Management for the Stay-At-Home Mom screamed my name.  I am very type A.  I love to make to-do lists and derive an inordinate amount of satisfaction from checking things off .  I could not have been more startled when my first thought while reading the step one(prioritizing)was "I do not have TIME to make all these lists and assign numerical values to my goals".  I wanted to skip straight to Step 2 (making a plan that works) only to find that required me to make several rough drafts of a calendar with time blocked out for my priorities.  The idea that I could assign blocks of time to any part of my life, at this point, felt laughable and so I was glad to see the author offer an alternative suggestion for parents of infants.  I think I'll stick with my daily to-do lists. 


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My house might have its moments, but thanks to my mother, the De-junking Queen, I am fairly familiar with the organizational process described in Three Steps to Decluttering, Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room, and Three Steps to Organizing Your Kitchen.  I rarely have a problem saying goodbye to unnecessary or unwanted items.  If it's broke, I chuck it.  If I don't use it, I give it away.  For that reason, these three books didn't teach me a whole lot that I didn't already know.  My problem lies in the motivation, not the know-how. 
 
I felt that the many of other tips for dejunking, organization, and maintenance were just plain old common-sense, rather than revolutionary recommendations.  However, an amateur organizer (or professional hoarder) might feel differently.  If your house (or even one room) is starting to resembled one of those homes on Clean House, I would recommend a) renting a dumpster and b) picking ONE of these books.  
 
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In addition to the books I received for review, you can find or purchase the following books/ebooks and more at the 1-2-3GetOrganized website
They are so small and easy-to-read, that I would recommend purchasing the e-books over the print copy, to save on shipping.  Plus, then you have one less thing cluttering up your house!

My Rating: 3 Stars

Sum it up:  Baby steps for the overwhelmed.

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