Jodi Eisner, M.S.W., CPO
Certified Professional Organizer
President of NAPO Pittsburgh

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Jodi really has done a great job working with my wife.  I'mputting her on retainer. It really has made a palpable difference in my life and our marriage.

Steve, Pittsburgh

My dear friend, Jodi,

Not only did you help us purge and organize our things, streamline our methods and decorate, but your beautiful spirit is still a source of inspiration to all of us.

Thank you so much for sharing your time and positive energy with us. Thank you for the both tactful and direct way you helped us get on track and for always being a great listener and font of wisdom on a few sensitive issues.

The service you provide is unique and wonderful. The timing for my openness to letting go of some things – material and emotional was perfectly tuned to our meeting.

You are counted as one of our many blessings.

Love,

Brenda and family

Dear Jodi,

I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate working with you to get my house more organized.

As you may recall, when you first arrived, there was barely a path to walk through the basement to get to the laundry area. It was really unsafe, not to mention annoying when I tried to do laundry. It was essential for me to have your help in getting rid of things we no longer needed. I had tried to do it myself, but it was too overwhelming, and I had no process to think about how to decide what to keep and what to pass on. But working with you, we were able to get the task done in one day!

I also appreciated your expertise in knowing how to organize the things we wanted to keep. It is now very easy to pack for a trip because I know where to find my suitcase, and likewise easy to unpack and put things away. When my son goes on a scout trip, we know exactly where to look for his camping things. And, most importantly, we can now get to the laundry area without risking tripping and falling.

The work you did in our family room was great. Before you worked on it, it was not really a pleasant room to be in. But now there is a place for all five members of our family to sit down at the same time, and we didn't even have to buy any more furniture. Your interior decorator's eye really knew how to place the furniture to make the room more functional and pleasing to the eye.

I also appreciate how you helped me set up my files so I could manage the vast amounts of paper that come from the mailbox and school. It has been much easier to keep track of papers from school, using the filing system you set up.

Thank you so much for working with me. It was well worth it. Our house no longer feels like a storage bin for junk, but a home.

Carolyn

Member



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Jodi in the News

Baby boomers challenged to preserve aging parents’ treasures

from The Jewish Chronicle

By Toby Tabachnick

Adi Rapport’s mother, Betty Steinfeld, and aunt, Ruth Steinfeld, had been living in the same house on Bartlett Street in Squirrel Hill since 1948.

So, when both women passed away — Betty, in 2014, and Ruth, this past April — Rapport found herself faced with a house full of memories taking the form of an enormous amount of stuff. Charged with clearing out the house, it was hard to know even where to begin.

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Designer Insights with Jodi

from the Terrys Fabric's Blog

By Tudor Davies

Jodi Eisner, President of Method to the Madness, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been a professional organizer since 2000 and received her certification in 2008. In addition, she holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work, from the University of Pittsburgh. Jodi works with clients to help them create a stress free, uncluttered, systematic space. Each individual has different learning styles and unique qualities. Jodi assists her clients, by tapping into these styles and creating a living environment that has functionality and beauty.

We are so happy to bring you the designer insights of Jodi Eisner.

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An Interview with Jodi Eisner of Method to the Madness

from the In Pursuit of Simple Blog

By Jessica Brown

I’m fascinated by organization and the amazing benefits we can reap by living more organized, simple lives. I had heard about professional organizers before, but upon reading an article a few weeks ago about tactics they use to transform lives, I started to wonder more and more about what it takes to be a professional organizer, and how they would recommend getting started to others.

And then I found local professional organizer Jodi Eisner.

Read the full article ...


Cleanliness is Next To Godliness

from The Jewish Chronicle

By Stacy Browdie

A common refrain from my husband is, "If you just put your keys in the same place every time, you'd always know where to find them." Easier said than done for someone like me. Chaos and clutter have surrounded me. I have always functioned quite well at my desk amid stacks of papers. The heap of books, papers, and magazines, sprawling alongside my bed I have navigated willingly. And I have always been at peace throwing my shoes in a pile at the bottom of my closet, even though I have to dig them out one at a time each morning. Until recently, that is.

Read the full article ...


Helping Children Stay Best Organized

Created for OrganizingConnection.com

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Back to School Tips

KDKA Evening News with Sonni Abatta

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Please Organize myLife Part 1

from North Hills Monthly Magazine

By Hilary Danninhirsch

They must have had spies. Perhaps a web-cam? How else did the editor of this magazine know to choose me for this awesome assignment?

Did she see my office desk, with piles of unrelated papers stretching endlessly toward the ceiling?

Did she see the books waiting to be reviewed, stacked haphazardly under said desk?

Did she see my daughter's art table, smack in the center of my office, with future masterpieces overflowing the sides and dripping down to the floor?

In all fairness, I have two little girls. Clutter comes with the territory. Or at least that's what I tell myself.

But forgetting fairness for now and just applying honesty, I am not a very organized person. Oh, in my head, I am nothing but organized. I don't need a calendar to tell me where I have to be. I can recite an entire summer's worth of play dates, camp and vacation schedules with precision that would rival anyone's Palm Pilot. But give me tangible items such as school papers, notebooks, Sunday school registration forms, and I am at a loss.

Maybe my absence of organizational skills dates back to childhood. When faced with a flaw, blame your mother. My mother has always been the opposite of a pack rat. “Are you done with the Sunday paper?” she'd ask at 9:00 on a Sunday morning, gently extricating the comics from my hands and placing it into the garbage can before I'd had a chance to see what Nancy and Sluggo were up to that day.

The last thing I did in my own home that remotely approached organized was when I came up with the brilliant idea to put my daughters' entire collection of Barbie accessories into a plastic baggie so they wouldn't get lost in the larger plastic bin containing the dolls and their clothes. I was very proud of the baggie idea. (Postscript – the baggie system lasted for approximately two days; once again, there are Barbie shoes infiltrating all the crevices in the playroom.)

My husband has tried for the last nine years to declutter our lives. He saves and files bills and receipts dating back to the 1860's. Even so, his battle to turn our office into the orderly Eden of his dreams has been an uphill one.

Enter Jodi Eisner, savior, and owner of Method to the Madness, a North Hills based professional organizing service.

When Jodi walked into my house that comfortable July evening, I steered her directly toward the office. While there were certainly other areas of the house that could have used the services of a professional organizer (recall the failed baggie experiment of the playroom) I wanted the office to feel, well, office-like. Before we renovated our house last summer, the room that I call the office was the dining room. It still has floral wallpaper and does not look much like an office (though we did manage to replace the chandelier), but at least I now have office space. Now if I can only make it feel like one.

Jodi explained at the outset that her role as an organizer was not to make sure my house stayed neat and tidy (darn!) but to help me create a system where I could maintain some semblance of order and to use my space more efficiently. In fact, she said her philosophy is to keep things as simple as possible for her clients.

When she asked me what I wanted out of my office, I said, “A sanctuary, where I can work in silence and in uncluttered surroundings.” Well, currently there are no doors on my office, so there goes the silence delusion, but if I can at least rearrange my surroundings so that I know where everything is at all times, I will be happy.

Jodi, who has a Master's in Social Work, said that part of her job is changing behavior. She assured me that organization is not about being rigid.

Jodi said that for her clients, she creates activity zones where everything has a home. This is especially important to me. For example, I am truly confused as to what to do when my older daughter brings home random papers from school. How long do I keep them, and where do they go until they are ready to be thrown away? What about all of the artwork my children create on a daily basis? Am I a terrible mother if I toss it in the recycling bin moments after it was painstakingly created? Am I creating a fire hazard if I don't?

Jodi promised to return in a few weeks to help me get organized. She said that most clients have the greatest chance for success when they allow the professional organizer to come into their lives and help them get started so they don't feel overwhelmed. (I'm all for that.)

In the meantime, she gave me a very simple shopping list: hanging file folders, manila folders, and several plastic bins. She also eyed an unused corner of the office, just beneath a bulletin board, where we currently pile our newspapers for recycling. Could there perhaps be a more effective use of that space?

One thing I know about stuff is that it never stops coming, and I need to do something about it before it overtakes my life!

I will keep you posted as to what we accomplish.


Please Organize My Life – Part 2

from North Hills Monthly Magazine

By Hilary Daninhirsch

When the day arrived, I admit I was dreading it. Maybe there will be an early snowstorm and I can delay everything. This is so against my nature -- how can spending the afternoon organizing my office be enjoyable?

Earlier in the summer, Jodi Eisner, a professional organizer and owner of Method to the Madness, came over to give me advice about how I should reorganize my office so that it didn't take over my life. She marched in confidently, her head swirling with ideas. I tried to make an invisibility potion ala Harry Potter, but she immediately spotted me hiding behind a stack of books. Without delay (despite my best attempts), we got started.

The first thing we did was to remove my daughters' art desk from the office. My budding artists tends to create at our dinette table anyway, and the only purpose for the desk was to collect piles of artwork, coloring books and other art supplies. In an instant the office looked bigger.

I handed Jodi the file folders that she suggested I buy during her last visit, and we promptly got to work. First, she made me retrieve a large green garbage bag so that we could go through my stacks of paperwork and clean house, literally.

After we purged the contents of my office, Jodi helped me create a filing system. All it took were two file folders, one for my "stuff" and the other for school.

Jodi suggested I set aside an hour or so one afternoon per week to go through papers. This idea makes sense, though its obviousness had escaped me for years. I think this will help me immensely, given that my older daughter, now a first-grader, brings home numerous papers from school.

The filing method, Jodi explained, has built-in flexibility. This idea with the system is not for new items to come in and you have to make them fit into your existing system, but that you can add to the system.

So, what do I do when a new paper finds its way into my house and I don't have a folder for it? Create a new folder, of course. As Jodi explained, “It's a living, breathing system that changes as your needs change.

Most of what Jodi pointed out to me should have seemed obvious, but it had never occurred to me that there could be a system where everything has a place other than in a stack on the corner of my desk.

One of the most important aspects of my new filing system is the creation of an "action" folder. Rather than filing this away, the action folder sits on my desk and must be dealt with on a daily basis. Some items that go in the action folder would be permission slips, party invitations, or anything that I need to take care of sooner rather than later. This forces me to keep things flowing in and out of the office.

The very next day, I had an opportunity to see if I could actually use my system. We received some information from my daughter's elementary school. Rather than magnetize it to my refrigerator or toss it carelessly on my desk, I actually opened my brand new filing system and filed it under the category, “Natalie: First Grade. Simple as that!

I also had placed her birthday party invitations in my "action" folder and lo and behold, I retrieved them and they got out the door and in the mailbox in a timely fashion.

The biggest issue I face is what to do with my daughters' artwork. Even Jessica, my four-year old, has become a regular Renoir over the past several months. The two of them present me with beautiful pictures (using a variety of mixed media, of course) on an almost daily basis. This is in addition to the art projects they bring home from first grade and preschool. Although I treasure each creation, there are only so many I can keep in the house before the fire marshals are called in to investigate. Plus, the girls have discovered their pictures in the recycling pile one too many times.

Although we did not set it up yet, Jodi suggested that my husband Mike and I create a revolving “Wall of Fame.” Akin to a rotating art gallery, we plan to find a space in the house where artwork can hang proudly, but only for a limited time period. Then, the pictures are disposed of and new artwork will go up. The secret is to have the children get involved in choosing which pieces are displayed. We also have a storage bin where special pictures can be kept on a long-term basis.

The flexible system Jodi created for me is truly something I can live with. It's not going to change me into Miss Efficiency overnight, but I am now less likely to lose important school forms or other important papers.

We still have grand plans for the office: my husband built me a new desk, and eventually, we are going to replace the floral wallpaper with a rich paint color and we will replace the carpeting.

Could Jodi have changed my life with a few seemingly simple ideas in four short hours? I hope so, though I wonder if she makes follow up visits.


Getting Organized:

A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place

from North Hills Monthly Magazine

By Beth Buchwach

Well-organized people can find anything in their house in 30 seconds or less. For the rest of us, there are New Year's resolutions. Although no one is born with a messy gene, the tendency to defer decisions eventually results in mental, physical and calendar clutter.

We've bought the myth that we have to do it all,says holistic organizing consultant Carol Briney, and this only makes us feel worse.

Our ancestors prided themselves on knowing how to prepare for and survive lean times, but as our standard of living skyrockets, Carol notes, nobody taught us how to live with too much. This is America – you're allowed to have stuff. The real question is, how do you feel when you walk into your house? Everything in your house should bring you joy, not stress. If something's stressing you, it needs to go.

Carol frequently sees frazzled moms, pampered kids and well-meaning dads who stop trying when they can't live up to their wives' unrealistic standards. Kids and family members will do what you expect them to do if you make it simple and fun,” she says, adding that she taught her toddler grandson how to tidy up by taping digital photos of his toys onto low tubs.

Professional organizer Jodi Eisner says that the kindergarten classroom is an inspirational model for organizing any space Everything has a place, is easily identifiable and is within reach.

Jodi asks her clients to answer these key questions: What causes me the most stress when I walk into my home -- piles, confusion, meal planning, scheduling How can I simplify these parts of my life? How do I want the different spaces in my home to function?

Sometimes people aren't aware of everything that they're actually doing in each part of the house,” says Jodi. “The kitchen, for example, is usually the hub of the home. It's not just for cooking. It should be set up to function in a way that fits your lifestyle.

Typically, we spend ninety percent of our waking hours on repetitive maintenance tasks. When clutter constantly interferes with daily routines, Jodi says that means we're stressed at least 90 percent of the time. We also use only 20 percent of our possessions, either because we don't really need them or we can't easily locate the other 80 percent.

Clutter is when you don't know what you have,” says Carol. Clutter costs us time, money and even affection. Couples argue about clutter and stop inviting friends to their home because it has become an embarrassment.

If clutter has taken its toll on you, and you're ready to fight back, Carol and Jodi offer these basic tips for getting started:

  • Start in the most troublesome space, and don't go in there alone. Enlist a friend or hire an organizing professional for moral support and to keep you honest.

  • When you've zeroed in on your target space, empty it. Don't invest in storage containers until you see the bare space and decide what should go back into it.

  • Pile, stack or shovel everything together and then analyze. It'll look like a lot of junk, and this will allow you to assess the merits of each piece more objectively.

  • Don't think about what you spent or saved on any item. If it's still in the bag or you never use it, that bargain was a mistake.

  • Sort the items into three categories: keep, discard and donate. Funnel all donations to one place, if possible. Freecycle websites are an alternative to time-consuming yard sales. To learn more about freecycling, visit www.freecycle.org.

  • Keep only what you use, have a purpose for or enjoy. There are no "right answers" about what to keep, but unless you live in a castle, you must make choices that will facilitate the wise use of the space you have. If you can't part with your books, for example, you might choose to lose your tschotkes. You decide what means the most to you. Limit memorabilia to a few select treasures.

  • If you use an item daily, it should be at your fingertips. Other items should go into deep, deeper and deepest storage, depending on frequency of use and available space.

  • Consider off-site storage only if you literally have no room for an item with a real purpose.

  • Display, honor and enjoy your collectibles; don't pack them away.

If you backslide after your initial effort, take heart! Getting organized is a process, not an event. You'll find that regularly-scheduled maintenance gets easier.

As an added inspiration, Carol's clients create one "sacred space" in their homes. “Nothing goes there ever, except one thing that you honor and love,” she says. “When you look at that space, you'll feel calmed and centered and you know that the rest of your house can look like that, too.

Pittsburgh Professional Organizers (www.napopittsburgh.org) and area Curves locations have declared January “Get Organized Month. Get details from your local Curves, where you can attend presentations about getting organized and might even win an organizing makeover.

Carol Briney can be reached at Universal Order, (412) 781-8773 and www.universalor.com.

Contact Jodi Eisner at Method to the Madness, (412) 367-9225 and www.method2themadness.com.


Keep Organized and Beat Clutter

 

Dirty dishes in the sink, junk mail covering the kitchen table: If you're not careful, disorganization can take over. Major changes like a new baby, a promotion, divorce, or a death in the family can stress you out, causing you to neglect cleaning and home maintenance.

Even daily stress can spur disorganization, and holiday planning is a major daily stressor in December and January. But don't worry: With a few organization tips, you'll be on your way to an orderly home in no time!

Create a stress-busting plan

  • Think function first. Your kitchen is primarily for cooking; the dining room or kitchen table for eating, and your living room for living. Before you bring a piece of mail, a dirty dish, or an appliance into or out of a room, make sure it's going to the right place!

  • Take small steps. That pile of disorganized clothing or mail might not be as bad as you think. Choose a task, and give yourself 15-20 minutes to work on it. Or, set aside a certain amount of time every day for cleaning — and stop once you've run out of time.

  • Share your organization strategy. Make sure your family knows where things go. Some mess is inevitable, but having many helping hands can keep disorganization to a minimum.

  • Ask yourself, do you need it? Whether you're making a new purchase, or deciding what appliances deserve your precious counter space, prioritize your resources and space for the essentials.

  • Think small: Gift cards make fabulous gifts,can be presented in creative ways — and don't require much space to store.

Organizing your kitchen for the holidays 101

Whether you're cooking everything from scratch — or taking advantage of time-saving pre-cooked delicacies — the kitchen is an essential part of holiday celebration.

  • Know your menu. Whether you're hosting a holiday celebration or attending a potluck with friends, knowing what you're cooking helps you prepare effectively. Instead of buying groceries you don't need - or forgetting essential ingredients you can set aside all of your recipes and cooking aides in advance.

  • Organize your tasks, and ask others to pitch in. One person to clean, one person to cook sauces, one person to watch the oven - sound like a dream? With a little planning, the whole family can get involved in preparing a delicious meal.

  • Save time, and add value. Giant Eagle® offers an exciting array of holiday side dishes and entrees, from Brussels sprouts to juicy roasts and fresh seafood. These heat-and-serve options taste just like homemade, and give you the freedom to focus on gift-giving, organization, and entertaining.

Remember: The holiday season is an exciting time, but the best part of all is spending time with family and loved ones. Staying organized helps you avoid clutter - and boosts your holiday spirits, too.


Get Organized

Andrew Russell/Tribune-Review

Ornament Storage

Every holiday season brings a breakdown.

No, it isn't when all of the chores or the credit card bills seem insurmountable or when that can't-miss gift for that special person falls flat.

No, this breakdown is when it is time to take apart all of the decorating that has been done and return the home to its non-festive life.

Organizers, decorators and business owners all say there are ways of handling it that will create an easier holiday next year -- and every year.

"Planning is the key," says Nancy Sakino Spears, an interior decorator from Upper St. Clair, sounding the phrase that becomes something of a mantra.
These organizers agree the best way of handling the matter is to store things away in such a planned manner that making decisions next season is just about unneeded.

Jill Revitsky, owner of the Mt. Lebanon's Discover Organizing firm and a like-named supply shop, says some devices such as wreath cases and tree bags are a quick step to safe and reasoned storage.

Most of the ideas seem rather basic, but perhaps are so simple they are overlooked.

  • Take pictures of successful decorating you have done, and store the elements for that success together, says Bob Palermo, founder and owner of Jolly Holly Lights, a decorating firm from Robinson.

  • Don't be afraid to throw away things you are not using or do not like anymore, says Carol Briney from Universal Order, an organizing firm from Aspinwall. It is surprising the space unwanted stuff takes up.

  • Plastic storage crates are not popular in the love-of-things-green mentality, but do the job well because they protect items from water damage, says Jody Adams, owner of the In Its Place organizing firm from Greensburg.

Having a system matters.

A method and not madness

Plans can make it seem easy. For instance, Stephanie Tomasic, executive director of Overly's Country Christmas at the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds near Greensburg, has a way of storing the display's lights.

She had better. There are 21 million of them to put away. The lights and extension cords all are wound in the time-tested "Overly Way." She is unsure of the origin, but positive it works, although she couldn't really describe it.

She also says another important job is to check for burned-out bulbs and replace them before storage, to make use next season easier.

She, and other planners, also remind to pack items so the first needed are the ones in front.

Revitsky says you may need to rotate items so material for the next holiday is in the front. That requires a shuffling of goods at each holiday, she says, but makes any decorating task easier.

Many of the storage savants urge the use of plastic containers that come in a variety of sizes and sometimes have colors or colored lids to help identify them.

Jodi Eisner, owner of the Method to the Madness organizing firm in McCandless, says they are not only protective, but the colors can be keys such as "here's orange for Halloween and pink for Easter."

Revitsky says color-coding creates easy recognition and allows a non-decorator to get the right material simply by "looking for the red lid."

Rubbermaid Totes , which range from 3 to 50 gallons in size and cost $4.99 to $19.99, often are mentioned for this job.

Lauren Spahr from Rubbermaid says the containers were not necessarily designed for holiday storage but "we are always pleased when we get a letter telling us about uses we didn't think of."

Finding the right space

Revitsky also believes in zoning storage, or keeping items close to the area where they will be used. Outdoor items could be kept in the garage, she suggests.
That means, of course, finding more than one space around the house, but it allows those spaces to be smaller.

Spears recommends creativity in space use, too. For instance, a pole or rod of some kind can be put in unused closet space to become the home for wreaths. Similarly, hat hooks can be installed to hold bags of items or extension cords, she adds.

Labels are important when specificity is demanded, Palermo says. He stores enough lights to fill three tractor trailers, he says, so labels are necessary to indicate what items are needed for his more than 100 clients. Similarly, if there are lights or decorations needed for a specific display, he says, label them.

Lists of what goes where and what items are available also are useful, Spears says. Tomasic says the crews at Overly's make sure to keep inventories so there are no problems when decorating begins next year.

If belongings are organized and stored in known positions, space is not wasted, and the decorating job in the future is easier.

"Make it like shopping," Eisner says, "You can just go to a spot and pull out exactly what you need."

What to do with the tree?

Christmas trees can do more than hold lights and ornaments.

The more than 4 billion Christmas trees growing in the United States provide a great deal of oxygen and, when their days are done, can be composted into mulch or even made into materials for flood barriers, tree and recycling experts say.

Recycling programs in this area generally are run at the municipal level and can be found by contacting local governments.

But Earth911.com, a environmental-awareness firm headquartered in Arizona, has a comprehensive list of the more than 4,000 recycling programs in the United States The list is put together for many large cities, including Pittsburgh.

Rick Dungey, a spokesman for the National Christmas Tree Association in Missouri, points to the list as a good one. He says recycling programs have grown to their current level from about 1,000 when he started with that group about 12 years ago.

Jennifer Berry from the Earth911.com says this year's list will be the "most comprehensive" one of their efforts and will be updated by Christmas day.

 
 

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