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Is your child heading off to college? House a mess? Moving? Here are 10 ways to keep your sanity from Barbara Guggenheim and Nadine Schiff, creators of The Ultimate Organizer.

If you’re wondering why we took time away from our day jobs to create The Ultimate Organizer, here’s why. We were women who wanted it all: a husband, family, job, and home. It wasn’t until we got it all that we realized we were totally screwed.

We not only were working at our jobs, but we became the CEOs of our houses and families, taking care of partners, children, aging parents, friends, and pets. Our desks overflowed with crap: scraps of paper carrying important phone numbers, access codes, and passwords that we needed to remember to get even the simplest of tasks off of our massive to-do lists—but couldn’t find and had nowhere to keep.

So, we admit it. The Ultimate Organizer was created out of that great motivator: desperation. We decided to reclaim our lives by creating one place to store all the phone numbers, checklists, and bits of information we picked up along the way. We’ve created templates for entertaining, packing, taking care of aging parents and children, and just about everything else you can think of.  No more reinventing the wheel with the over three hundred forms, lists, and templates. And the best part, we’ve filled a lot of them in, so you don’t have to waste time.  Want to know what to pack, what to put in the guest bath when you entertain? It’s at your fingertips.

We know you get it. We understand the frustration of your life running you and not the other way around. We’re here to help you. That’s why we’re giving you a top-ten list of things we think you’ll need to get ready for fall.Get Organized With The  Ultimate Organizer

1. Summer’s over. No more sleeping in or lazy weekends. Make a list of chores and responsibilities in and around the house and assign them. Have built in consequences for non-performers and carry them through. (Also make a calendar of everyone’s extracurriculars, so no one’s confused.)

2. Make a list of everyone’s medical insurance numbers (yours, your partner’s, children’s and aging parents’) so they’re all in one place — The Ultimate Organizer. Heaven forbid there’s an emergency, you won’t be responding an in panic mode.

3. Your cupboards are bare, depleted over the summer. Throw away the stale Fritos, take our list out of The Ultimate Organizer and restock your pantry and refrigerator, buying multiples of things you use frequently. (That includes your bar—especially your bar!)

4. The summer guests have gone, but with Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, more guests are on their way. Use our checklist to refresh your guest bedroom/bathroom.

5. If you went on a car trip this summer (or loaned your van to your kids) it’s time to clean it up. Use our list to make sure you put everything in your glove compartment and trunk you’ll need in an emergency.

6. If your kid’s going off to college, use our list and make sure to buy everything he needs. Fill in the names and numbers of stores near campus to buy kid staples and goodies he needs and craves for pulling all-nighters. If your kid has a car, make sure the insurance and registration number are in the glove compartment as well as a list of what to do in a fender-bender — after he clutches.

7. It’s finally time for you to do your work. Make room for a home office and use our supplies checklist to stock it.

8. It’s time for a fall makeover. Rearrange your closets (replace those sleeveless dresses with sweater sets), try on old clothes and give away what you don’t need, and while you’re at it, get thee to a hairdresser and a new pilates class.

9. Get out that toiletry bag with the toothpaste caked on the bottom and wash it or get a new one. Refill it with new carry-on items and medicines for your next trip. Get ready for adventure!

10. If, horror of horrors, you’re moving, use our timeline to ease the pain. Don’t forget on the day of your move to take a set of sheets, pillow, and blanket with you so you can make your bed first and then lie in it

Interview with Barbara & Nadine on


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If you feel like you’ve spent your whole life looking for your keys and burrowing through your bottomless purse for that number you just jotted down, you’re not alone. Thankfully, the extraordinarily busy women Barbara Guggenheim (a bold name in the art world) and Nadine Schiff (a big-time film and TV producer whose husband started Ticketmaster) had Overwhelmed women in mind when they created the Ultimate Organizer, a book that keeps their hectic lives functioning on schedule. Barbara and Nadine penciled us in for a little one-on-one to talk getting about getting it together, once and for all.
Blush: What are some simple things women can do to make their lives more organized?

First of all, get all of those little pieces of paper in the bottom of your inky handbags, in your drawers, and by the telephone (don’t tell me you don’t have them) and write down all the numbers and keep them in one place, in a notebook so you’re not stressing.

Meet Barbara & Nadine B: What are your top tips for staying organized?

Make your to-do list every day, making two piles -important and not important. Make use of The Ultimate Organizer’s relevant lists and templates. You’ll be surprised at how fast you can get things done. Put all the important vital information for yourself, your partner, your children, your aging parents, your pets, and home in the organizer.

You never know what problems life throws you in today’s rollercoaster world, and you’ll be ready – whether it’s an earthquake, taking care of an aging parent, or packing for a business trip.

B: How should we organize our priorities? Every woman has to make her own decisions and priorities, but for us family and friends are first, work is second. And no one is more important than our dogs, but please don’t tell our husbands we said that. Make your passions a priority, clear the decks as fast as possible, and enjoy LIVING your life, not just administering it. Hello?! So many of us give up what we want to do for what we should do. Here’s our advice: Put yourself on top of your own to do list. If you?re unhappy, no one’s happy.

B: If you’re throwing a party what are your first steps for getting it planned?

Throwing a party can have many moving parts, and you want to remember to do them all. That’s why we created dinner/party checklists —to make sure you don’t forget and serve hamburgers to a vegan. Need rentals? Bartender? Flowers? Whatever. All you have to think about is who to invite, what’s the occasion and where, the menu and bar and follow our lists for the rest. We’ve even made suggestions for sample invites so you don’t forget to include essential information, like the address and the time. Need instructions as to how to get to the party? Just use our form.

B: How can you stay motivated when your to-do list is overwhelming?

When you feel organized and everything is one place, you tend to not have that ‘heart beating fast in the middle of the night’ thing. You know, you wake up and all the things you forgot to do and have to do and should do all come racing like a freight train through your head. We believe in trying to get out ahead of our to-do lists. Once a week, figure out the major tasks ahead of you.

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B: What’s your best piece of advice for finding balance? Try not to let the pressures of work drive out the things you enjoy. That’s why we created The Ultimate Organizer to help deal with the daily life tasks so you can get out there and train for a marathon, write that novel you’ve dreamed about or take those cooking lessons you read about. Above all, don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by all that life heaps on. Our plates runneth over, and it’s not always easy to cope. You’re watching TV about Katrina or the earthquake in Haiti, and you wonder if you shouldn’t prepare for the worst. Follow the lists in the organizer; it won’t take long and you’ll have peace of mind. As Nadine’s grandmother advised, Ask for something you need because the worst a person can say is no. In other words, don’t be afraid to say you need help. You’re a woman, not Superwoman.


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