Archive for the ‘home organizing’ Category

What To Do At Home When You Can’t Go Out

January 6, 2014

Does this cold weather have you staying home wondering what to do? I have a few suggestions for you which will also help you organize your home.

Take a look in your closet. Are there a few pieces of clothing that are:

1. too small

2. too big

3. in need of repair or alterations

4. haven’t been worn in the past season

5. when you put it on, you decide not to wear it and then put it back in the closet

Take these items out of your closet and make some decisions. Either schedule a day and time in your calendar to have alterations made or put the items in a shopping bag to take to your local Goodwill.

Miscellaneous Drawer

Everyone has a drawer where they put small things that don’t have an immediate home. Empty the drawer and start sorting. Put the small change in a change jar. Put the pens and pencils in a pencil can or drawer. Figure out if the other odds and ends like batteries, rubber bands, golf balls or whatever can be put away. If not, do you need them or want them?

Filing Cabinet

Get out some extra manila files and a pen or a labeler if you have one. Go through your files. Make the 2014 files for your financial documents, investments, and taxes and any others that you switch out from year to year. Remove the 2013 files and put them in a place where you can work on them to get your taxes done ahead of time!

Now go through your other files, one at a time. Determine if there are any files that are obsolete. Shred them, if necessary. As you’re going through your other files – be sure to look at each piece of paper – determine if there are any papers in those files which you don’t need any more. Shred them, too, if need be.

You want to do this every year so that you don’t just accumulate paper. Know what you have in your filing cabinet.

Kitchen

Maybe this is a good time to empty the kitchen drawers, one at a time. Wash them, dry them, and then put the items back where they belong. If you come across something that doesn’t belong, or that you don’t want, or that is broken either find it a home, donate it, or toss it.

Children’s Art and School work

This could be a great time to go through your children’s art work and school work with your children. Weed out the things the two of you decide you want to keep and put them in a memorabilia box. Recycle the others.

There are lots and lots of things to keep you busy, not bored, at home during this cold snap. These are just a few suggestions. I’d love to hear if you take me up on any of these ideas and if it leads to further organizing in your home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting Organized?

December 31, 2013

It’s almost the New Year and time to begin again. Is one of your resolutions to finally get organized? If it is, you’re not alone. Many people say they want to get organized. January is National Get Organized month – a perfect time to start.

How should you begin? The first thing many people do is go shopping for organizing supplies. Now, if you’re organizing a filing system I would say ‘great’! Go ahead and get manila files, hanging folders, a shredder and perhaps extra tabs for the hanging files and a few sharpie pens. You absolutely need those supplies when organizing a paper filing system.

If you’re organizing a closet you might go ahead and get some hangers. However, until you know how many sweaters, t-shirts, or shoes you are keeping (when you begin organizing one of the steps you’ll take is to sort through your belongings to determine if any of those items will be leaving your house to be donated, recycled, trashed, or consigned) you should not buy containers!

Let me say that again… Do NOT buy containers, baskets or bins until you know what you are putting in said containers. Are you thinking, why not? You save yourself time when you wait until you’ve completed the sorting process to buy organizing containers. When you buy them ahead of time you don’t know how many of which size, shape or style container you need. When you sort first you know where you will put the containers and approximately what the containers will hold. When you buy containers before sorting you will almost always have to return some containers and buy others of a different size and shape. So, you have to make a second trip to the store! When you sort first and have a good idea of the space in which you are putting the containers you usually go to the store once thus saving yourself a return trip to the store!

Now where to begin this organizing project? My advice is to start small. Start with a drawer or a small closet. See how much time that takes you. Then decide if there is a bigger organizing project in your house that you want to tackle. It’s important to finish one organizing project before beginning the next.

No matter the scope of the project being more organized in any area will give you satisfaction and hopefully encourage you to tackle another project in your home.

Let me know what you decide to organize and how it turns out!

“Focus on What’s Strong, Not What’s Wrong”

September 25, 2013

I attended a conference last week hosted by The Institute for Challenging Disorganization in Denver, Colorado. I go to this conference every year. This group, of which I’m a member, always gets fantastic speakers and this year was no exception. One of the speakers, Lee Shuer, gave us all the above quote during his presentation.

Don’t you think that if people in general would focus on what’s good and strong and think less about what’s wrong we’d all be a little more content? Think about it. As a student teacher I learned that if I wanted to get a classroom of six year olds to lower their voices I would have greater success if I complemented the children who were using ‘inside voices’. Using positive reinforcement worked like a charm! This technique works equally well with teenagers and adults. My mom used to say “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. I, in turn, used to tell my children “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’. I still believe this to be true and practice what I preach!

 It all boils down to the same thing, doesn’t it?  Saying something nice is just as easy as saying something nasty. It might take a little more thought and creativity to come up with the nicer comment as, it seems, the negative comments come so quickly to our lips.

Since this conference was attended by many professional organizers, therapists, coaches and related professionals this quote resonated with us all. It was good to be reminded to bring focus onto our clients’ strengths. Point out to them the things they are doing well. Teach them how to focus on their strengths. For anyone, focusing on what is done wrong only serves to depress or dishearten the individual. This is not to say that things don’t go wrong sometimes but dwelling on those things is counter-productive.  Learning to move on, letting the negative things be over and done, is a powerful skill.

When a client wants to work with me to de-clutter their home I ask them to describe how they want their home to look and feel. Then we review  their priorities. Finally, we create a plan and work methodically through the different spaces – celebrating each and every accomplishment. Together we focus on my client’s accomplishments, even the smallest step toward a stated goal. This enables the de-cluttering to move forward all the while positively reinforcing and teaching organizing skills.

 

Impact of Clutter

July 23, 2013

Picture this…. You have just moved into your new home. All the boxes have been emptied, the cardboard has been recycled, the furniture is placed, books are on shelves, the pictures are hung…. You are home! Yeah!! This is a wonderful feeling – can it last?

Absolutely! All you have to do is remember that when something comes into your home that item must have a place to belong, a reason for being there. Is it useful? Great! Do you love it, is it beautiful, do you plan to display it? Also great!

Sometimes We bring things in (or are given things) thinking they’ll be useful or beautiful only to find out that whatever it is doesn’t really fit in. Then instead of taking it back to the store or giving it to someone else we tend to find a temporary home for the item. Fully, intending to deal with it later. Guess what? Later never comes. The item doesn’t leave our house and turns into clutter.

 

The longer you let these things linger in your home the more you become accustomed to having lots of stuff around you. Maybe you are so accustomed to all the stuff that you don’t even see it any more! Take your blinders off! Plan time every now and then to cull your collections. Take things that you aren’t using and either give them away, recycle them, or sell them.

Sometimes things come into our home because a loved one has passed away and you don’t know what to do with all the things’ from your relative’s home. This is a really tough situation. My suggestion is to take your time and carefully go through the boxes or bags one at a time. If there are pieces of furniture that you love and would like to keep consider swapping out a piece or two of your furniture. Donate or sell the pieces you are swapping out. Remember that the space in your home is not going to expand to accommodate the influx of things.

As for the knick knacks, keep and display the ones that truly mean something to you. Take pictures of the ones that you don’t really love but that you are reluctant to part with because these things meant something to your loved one. The pictures will serve as a place keeper for the memories. Then you can donate or sell the knick knacks you aren’t keeping.

A key component to keeping the awesome feeling of being settled in your home is maintenance. Put things away, return them to the store if you’re sure you aren’t keeping them, and toss/recycle/donate other things to keep clutter from accumulating and having a negative impact on that wonderful peaceful feeling that you first enjoyed when you originally settled into your home.

Small Steps

June 11, 2013

This morning The Institute for Challenging Disorganization posted a comment on Facebook about setting a goal for the week and then breaking that goal down into small steps. One step to accomplish each day so that by the end of the week the goal will be reached.

I love this concept! It’s one of my favorites and one that I regularly teach my clients. Are you thinking to yourself that this is a very simple concept? Well, you are right. It is a simple concept but it’s also one that people tend to forget when faced with a goal that they’d like to reach but don’t have the time for it today.

Start by making your calendar your best friend. Think about the goal you have in mind. Then work backwards. What is the step you have to do just before reaching your goal? What is the step before that.. and so on until you arrive at the first step to take. Write the individual steps down. Then plot the steps into your calendar, actually schedule them into your day. If some of the steps take only a few minutes to complete you may be able to do more than one step in a session.

This process can be applied to just about any goal or project you can think up. Do you have summer reading to complete? I do. I’m studying for an exam which I’ll take in September at the Institute for Challenging Disorganization Conference. I have 5 books to read in order to prepare. I’ve already taken all the required classes. To get these books read, take notes and study them I have to plan ahead. Taking small steps, setting aside small amounts of time each day to read a few chapters at a time enables me to reach my goal.

Maybe you have a room in your house you’d like to reorganize. Take a look at the space. Decide how you want to use the room. The remove the items that don’t support your vision for the room. You can probably tell that a project like this will also involve decisions about what to keep and where to keep these things, what to donate and what to trash or recycle.

Maybe you have a smaller project like organizing a drawer. Whatever your project may be breaking it into small steps will help you reach your goal.

Inspiration?

May 8, 2013

What inspires you? Sometimes we find inspiration from books, in nature, from something someone has said to us. Recently, I encouraged a client to purchase a small bookcase. She had many books stored in plastic boxes and was eager to get more settled in her home. We looked online and found a great bookcase at The Container Store. I picked up the bookcase for my client and delivered it to her home. Then together we unpacked the boxes. As we unpacked, my client carefully looked at each book. Some she decided she didn’t want any more and was ready to donate them to Goodwill, some we put on the newly installed bookcase, and some she decided could be kept on a shelf in a closet.

When our session was over my client announced that she was going to keep on working. She said that having this bookcase was inspiring her to keep on working to declutter her living space. She found her inspiration in this piece of furniture which added organization to her home. I was very proud of her and told her that she was making tremendous progress towards the organization she craves to achieve in her home.

To see a picture of this bookcase follow the link from #The Container Store.

http://www.containerstore.com/shop?productId=10012950&N=&Ntt=folding+bookcase

http://images.containerstore.com/catalogimages/150896/WhiteStckbleFldngBkcase300.jpg

Sometimes taking a small step, making a small change, will lead you to make bigger changes. It’s easier, for instance, to decide to organize a small space first like a drawer or a shelf. Doing one shelf or drawer – making that the way you really want it to be – can lead you to do another and then another. When you see the change in that one small space that can inspire you to make even more changes in your living environment.

Write me back and let me know what inspires you to make a change in your surroundings!

Blinders?

April 3, 2013

Do you wear blinders in your house? So many of my clients admit that they are so bothered by the chaos and clutter in their homes that they intentionally pretend it’s not there. Do they actually wear blinders? They do not. However; the fact remains that they pretend the piles of paper or clothes or empty boxes aren’t there.

This is where I come in. As a Certified Professional Organizer who specializes in Chronic Disorganization I help my clients remove these blinders and devise strategies for clearing the chaos and removing the clutter. 

This means that I work closely with each of my clients to figure out what they want to keep and how they want to be able to find their belongings. We talk about their priorities and make a plan to tackle each area of their home.

 This is not an overnight easy fix. Creating organization out of chaos is time consuming and requires scheduled organizing sessions. I even assign homework! The goal is to teach basic organizing skills and to develop maintenance routines so that  home becomes a place my clients want to be.

Even those who do not have chaos reigning in their home sometimes wear blinders as they travel through their home. Really open your eyes and look to see if there are things out of place. Maybe there is a pair of shoes beside a chair because you kicked your shoes off and curled up in a comfy chair last night while you were watching TV. There’s nothing wrong with that! Just open your eyes, see the shoes, and take them with you to your room as you pass by that chair.

It’s the daily looking around, noticing what’s out of place, and putting it away that keeps the clutter from gathering in your home.

 

Is it Spring yet?

March 14, 2013

I know Spring is coming. I can see it in the sunshine. The light is brighter and it’s staying light longer, particularly now that Daylight Saving Time is here! I love Spring. I’m a huge fan of gardening and my fingers are just itching to be spending my free time outside working in my garden. I have all sorts of plans for my planters and garden beds which will be fun for me to implement. I’m digressing. What I want to share is that while it’s still a little too cool to be outside for long periods I’m focusing my energy on the inside of my house. Tackling my spring cleaning!

This is a great time to clean out closets. I made a plan to go through the different closets & cupboards in my house. I want to figure out what was not worn or used this past winter. Those items I will donate. The best way to do this is to schedule a specific day and time for each closet and set of cupboards. Do not, under any circumstance, say to yourself “today, I’m going to clean out every cupboard and every closet in my house”. That would be a recipe for procrastination. Why would you want to spend an entire day doing this? I know I wouldn’t. Instead decide where you will begin and schedule this cleaning out over the next couple of weeks.

So, another tip is to completely empty the closet or cupboard. Give it a good and thorough cleaning out. Get out the vacuum for the floor and those hard to get at corners. Have a few cleaning cloths and a bucket filled with a vinegar/ water mixture. Wipe the shelves and walls using this mixture and then dry them completely.

Now, as you get ready to put the items back really look over each and every item. Ask yourself these questions: Do you use it (or wear it)? Do you love it? Do you want to keep it? Is it broken or in need of repair? Is it missing a part?

Only put back the items that you honestly want to have in your home. Take the rest to a donation site such as Goodwill.

Now that the inside of the cupboards and closets are organized and clean it’s time to spend as much time as possible outside enjoying this beautiful spring season!

Culling Collections

February 13, 2013

Do you have lots of collections of things? Maybe there are lots and lots of clothes, toys, bric-a-brac around your home. Do you have so many of these items that none are really put away? Maybe they are out in view in piles around your home? Is this a collection?

In my mind a collection is something you put on display – in a cabinet, on a shelf or two, hanging on a wall. These are things you have sought out and purchased, or have been given, because you really like looking at them.

An over-abundance of items is not a collection in the true sense of the word. Yes, it is like items that are collected together but the over-abundance is not something you want to display. Generally, people are embarassed when they have such an over-abundance. These piles of collected items are not usually lovely to look at. In fact, sometimes it’s hard to tell what the collection is because there’s just so much of it! The homeowner generally becomes over-whelmed at the mere thought of reducing the volume because he/she doesn’t know where to begin. Another thing holding some people back is that they think about the amount of money spent on each individual item. Sometimes, they don’t want to reduce the volume of things by donating some out when they know the cost of each item – it’s all good stuff! Planning a garage sale to recoup some of the money takes organization, time and lots of effort and can be another over-whelming task.

My advice is to start with baby steps.

Begin by tackling one small area at a time. Set up 4 boxes or bags. Label the containers as follows: Keep, donate, toss, sell. When you have finished sorting the items in that one small area take the donate bag and make the donation to a church thrift store, Goodwill, or another organization of your choosing. Toss the items in the toss container. Put aside the items in the sell container and put away the items in the keep box or bag. The tackle the next area in your home. Before you know it you will have sorted and organized the piles and culled your collection of things. Then it’s time to give yourself a reward and admire all you have accomplished! Finally, gather up all the items you have set aside to sell. Take a look at your calendar and schedule a tag sale. Maybe you will ask some of your neighbors if they have things to sell also? The group can help each other set up, price items, and support each other’s efforts. A word of caution: remember you are selling things – not buying! The idea is to reduce the amount of things in your home, not to bring more things in!

Clutter-Free Gifts

November 28, 2012

Did you go shopping this past weekend? Maybe you were one of those who shopped after their Thanksgiving Dinner? I didn’t shop on Thanksgiving Day but I did shop at some of the small businesses in my community on Small Business Saturday. Did you? I will admit that I’m a great cyber shopper and in fact was one of those shopping on Cyber Monday. Interesting don’t you think that these shopping days have been named…

There was a terrific chalkboard saying posted on Pinterest last week regarding purchasing gifts for children. It went something like this: 1 thing they need, 1 thing to wear, 1 thing they want, 1 thing they read. I love this and hope you do too!You do not need to purchase an abundance of things. Too many things just adds to the collection. As a professional organizer, I’m always repeating this mantra to my clients: 1 thing goes out before 1 thing comes in. This is a wonderful time of year to help your children organize their toys and books. If there are toys that are in good condition but that your children no longer play with donate them to a local charity or Goodwill. Books in good condition can be donated to a childcare facility, your local library, or even your school. This way you make room for some things to come in and teach your children that they do not have to hang on to things they are no longer using. A valuable life lesson!

We usually take a family vacation over the holidays and the vacation itself makes up a large portion of my gift to my children. I am a big believer in clutter-free gift giving. These gifts usually involve an experience and they don’t take up any space! You don’t have to put them away.  There are many ways to give a clutter-free gift All you have to do is know the person to whom you are giving and then use your imagination. Here are some questions to get your creative juices flowing. What do they like to do? What are their favorite foods? Do they have a hobby?

Here are a few concrete suggestions:

1. Tickets to a show, the movies, or a local attraction – like the aquarium

2. Something baked: cookies, a cake, or even a casserole

3. Gift certificate to a restaurant (if the person has children you could include babysitting!)

4. Gift certificate for a spa service: facial, manicure/pedicure

5. Gift certificate for a lesson: tennis, golf, skiing, snowboarding, ballroom dance

6. Hire a Professional Organizer for a few hours to help a friend or family member get organized in 1 area of their home

The best part of giving a clutter-free gift is that you are not just giving a thing to use you are also giving an experience! It’s two gifts rolled into one – Isn’t that wonderful!