Archive for the ‘maintenance’ Category

Summer’s Here – Let’s Play!

June 6, 2017

Do not despair if you haven’t enrolled your child in activities so that he’ll be busy every moment during the summer. Let your child find things to do. It’s really good to have nothing to do  –  except play.

Try not to use the television, cell phone, i-pad, computers as babysitters. Limit the amount of time your child spends engaged in technology/ screen time. While it may seem like a good idea to have your children engaged in this way, after all they are busy and not getting into trouble, the truth is that instant entertainment robs your child of the opportunity to use his imagination.

Using his imagination is also a wonderful skill to encourage. When children are bored or have ‘nothing to do’ they come up with creative ways to occupy themselves. Provide building blocks or legos and you have the framework on which to build any number of fictional situations. Even crayons, markers and paper are great entertainers. And what about having a family jigsaw puzzle to put together?

Some technology time is good. It can be used to review or practice math facts, to do some problem solving, and other school related skills.

You can also involve your child in activities around the house. Sorting and categorizing are critical skills. Let your child engage in sorting the cutlery from the dishwasher. Then teach him where to put the forks, knives and spoons away. He can also help sort the laundry. Teach him how to sort the colored clothes from the whites. He can even measure out the detergent and start the washing machine. When the laundry is dry he can match socks, fold some things and help put the laundry away.

If you like to bake,  ask your child to help you measure the ingredients. He can practice his reading and read the recipe to you and follow the directions along with you.  If he is old enough, perhaps he’d like to take over some of the cooking!

Am I suggesting that your child help with chores around the house? Yes! I am. It’s important to instill in our children a sense of responsibility for the care of their home. When better to do this than when they do not have schoolwork to attend to? There have been an increasing number of stories in the news about millennials who do not have the skills necessary to live independently. You can give your child these necessary skills by teaching them basic skills when they are young and then gradually increasing the amount they are involved in the household chores as they get older.

If your child is doing a great job helping you around the house and you give him an allowance for doing these chores why not help him open a savings account? You can teach him about money. Teach him to save some money aside from each allowance and let him watch his money grow. He can learn about interest payments and experience pride when he has saved up enough money to purchase something for himself.

The opportunity for learning is all around us. Take advantage of the summer months to engage your child in conversation, imagination, and exploration. Have fun engaging in all these wonderful activities with your child. After all, it’s summer time – let’s play!

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Home Inventory

March 1, 2017

infographics about home inspection checklist and tips

One of the best ways to prepare for a disaster at home is to have a complete home inventory. Do you have an inventory of the contents of your home? Have you ever thought about taking or making such an inventory and then immediately stopped because the thought of all the work involved paralyzed you? You know that an inventory is the absolute best way to prove what your house contains in case of theft, fire, flood, tornado or any other disaster. I do understand that the creation of an inventory is a ton of work! I had to handwrite my first inventory back in 1979 since my husband’s job required us to submit a complete inventory when we were moving to Thailand. Imagine handwriting something such as that! Wow!! Even now I shudder at the thought. As the years went on and we moved from place to place technology allowed me to put our inventory in a spread sheet and then there was a program created for just such a purpose.

The program I use now is very flexible. It is called HomeZada. It does so much more than just keep track of your household furnishings. When you are ready to do the inventory, it allows you to take a picture of the item, identify what room it is in, put the date purchased and from where – if you know that information and if it is a valuable item (sentimental or expensive) you can even say who should receive it upon your death. Additionally, you can scan the receipt for the item so you have an accurate record of the date of purchase and how much it cost. You can also take a picture of a room and identify the built-in pieces of cabinetry.

I also love the fact that this program allows you to record the maintenance of appliances and keep track of home improvements. No more searching for that information. You don’t need to wonder when the HVAC was last serviced or your home last painted. The information is right there at your fingertips. If you’re planning to sell your home, you can easily retrieve the documents which identify the improvements you’ve made to your home.

Since this program is cloud based you will be able to retrieve all the information from any computer anywhere in the world. So, if disaster should strike and your home was destroyed you would be able to show an insurance adjuster photos of all that your home contained. No guessing involved.

This is real peace of mind. What a relief. Even better the program is easy to use. I recommend tackling a home inventory project the way you would any other large project – a little at a time. You could enter the information one room at a time. Or, if you decided this was simply too much for you to contemplate you can hire a professional organizer to do the original data entry for you. This is a service I offer as do other professional organizers.

 I recommend updating the information once a year, or as you trade out furniture or complete a home improvement project. It is very important to keep your home inventory information current as stale information defeats the purpose.

Please feel free to contact me if you’d like more information about the HomeZada home inventory program and how I may be able to with a home inventory project. Check out their website: www.homezada.com

 

Happiness is…?

October 19, 2016

2015 05 beautiful roses

At the end of September I had the privilege of attending a conference run by a group to which I belong: The Institute for Challenging Disorganization. I love this conference. In fact I love it so much that I decided to demonstrate that by chairing the conference in 2017! But I digress.

One of our speakers was a young woman, Ayla Lewis, who spoke to us about the power of positive thinking and happiness. Her presentation was well thought out, fun, and interactive. Ayla had a marvelous way of engaging the audience to teach the concepts she was presenting.

Many of the concepts presented were not new to me and I’m sure not new to many of us there. However; Ayla included scientific information to substantiate these concepts. It was fascinating.  

So, what is happiness? Ayla told us that happiness is a choice. I believe this to be true. I’m one who likes to look at a glass and say that it is half full rather than half empty. I’m always looking for the positive spin and am generally happy. Or should I say content.

We were told that no one is always happy. We have moments of happiness. It’s more important and better for us if we often experience small moments of happiness rather than striving for that one big fleeting moment to be happy. Have you ever heard someone say ‘I’ll be happy after I …’ or perhaps ‘I’ll be truly happy when I’ve …’ I have heard people say things like that and wondered if they ever had those moments of happiness. And how long the happiness lasted.

Ayla advised us to use journaling to record the brief happy moments that occur during the day. She asked us to write down three things daily. If you’re looking for the small things I’m sure any one of us could find way more than three things to write down.

Let me tell you a little story. I attended a wedding last weekend in Connecticut. An adorable three year old little girl was the flower girl.  She made many of us smile as she ran down the aisle in church during the rehearsal. When she got up to the altar she turned around and faced those of us sitting in the pews, sat down, and just started swinging her legs. She looked like she was waiting there to watch the show begin. She was happy in that moment. And those of us watching her chuckled and were happy too!

Ayla encouraged us to take those moments and savor them. This is happiness. It is something that comes and goes. Celebrate – really be happy – live in those moments when they arrive. It’s ok, in fact, natural, not to be happy 24/7. Acknowledge and experience  other emotions. Then welcome the happy moments as they occur.     

I’ll tell you what makes me happy. Working in my garden, successfully completing a series of dance steps with my partner, getting a phone call from one of my children, getting together with a friend, seeing that a client has maintained the organization, making progress on my needlepoint canvas – all these things create moments of happiness for me.

What makes you happy? Write me back and let me know. 

 

 

Getting Your Garden Ready

March 16, 2016

Recently I’ve been talking about spring cleaning inside your home. To recap this time of year when the light is newly bright again take the time to open your eyes and really look into all the spaces in your home. Get right into the corners and dark spaces. Clean them. Take the opportunity to look closely at your belongings. Dust them off and put them back or remove them from your home (if you determine they no longer fit your decorating style or lifestyle). Remember that spring lasts a good three months.

Schedule time in your calendar to deep spring clean each area of your home. Tackling your whole home at one time is a daunting and overwhelming task. When you plan it out and break it down into small tasks this project becomes much more manageable.

2015 05 summer mailbox flowers

Now is also the time to take stock of your garden. I should ask, do you like to garden? I do. I love to spend time in my garden! The last few days I’ve been out taking a look at my garden to see which plants are starting to poke their heads out of the earth. I love this time of year when my garden springs back to life! I notice where there are empty spots. Places where plants have not made it through the winter. I’m taking stock and thinking about the different plants I may want to add. While it’s too soon to plant it’s not too soon to make a plan and to decide what you’d like to do with your garden.

My garden is full of shrubs and perennial flowers. Is your garden a flower or vegetable garden? Is it a small cottage garden or do you have lots of space to garden? Are you learning to garden and trying one for the first or second time this year or are you an experienced gardener?

No matter your level of expertise or the size of your garden playing in the earth with plants is a wonderful pastime.

Look at the area in your garden you may want to change. Determine if you’re adding plants in the shade or the sun. If it’s a sunny spot try and calculate how many hours of sun that spot gets. It makes a difference as to which plants you want to consider. Likewise, if it’s a shady spot try and figure out if that area gets any sun at all or if it’s deep dense shade. The amount of sun makes a tremendous difference in the plants that will thrive in a location.

Another thing to consider is the size and color of the plants. Do you need to fill in with some low growing plants in the front of your garden? Maybe you want to add a tall plant in the back to add interest. The possibilities are endless.

Once you have these things figured out you may want to take a trip to your local plant nursery. Generally, the people who work there have great information to share about the plants they carry. They can tell you about how tall and/or bushy a plant will get as well as what you will need to do to promote its continued growth.

Young botanists  in greenhouse

As with everything else this is something that requires a plan. Pull out your calendar and set aside some times to really look at the garden space. It will take several observations at different times of day to figure out the sunlight question. Then schedule time to look at different garden websites to figure out the plants you want to add. Soon enough it will be time to plan the trip to the plant nursery, buy the plants, and plant them!

Garden Maintenance is key but that’s a topic for another time!

Write me back and let me know if gardening is one of your hobbies. If it is what are your plans for this year’s garden?

 

Paper File Maintenance

February 24, 2016

Close Up Of Folder For Household Bills

Over the last several weeks I’ve been talking about paper. We set up action files, files for your file cabinet, and archival files. There should be no more wondering what to do with the paper as it arrives in your home. I hope you’re not thinking that once your files are organized you’re done because you’re not.

A filing system only works if the system is used, updated periodically, and maintained.

You know that when you print a bank statement or an investment statement you look it over, check it to make sure it’s accurate, and then file it. At the end of the year, you can shred everything but the year-end statement. What a relief! No more hanging on to piles and piles of statements.

You also know that you have insurance files which hold the policy statement and the updated information. When the new information arrives remove last years’ update and replace it with the new document. This also serves to reduce the bulk of paper in the insurance file folder.

Your filing system must work for you. A filing system that works enables you to find the documents you need when you want them. No time lost hunting through the files or digging through piles of paper looking for a document.

This is the reason for taking time to label the files and folders in such a way that will spark you to remember that that is where the paper belongs.

This is also why I advocate looking through your files several times a year. Check them to make sure the files are current. If they are not either update them (if that’s what is needed) or remove them (if they are no longer pertinent).

Life is not static and neither are your files. As your life changes and things are added and subtracted your files should reflect these changes.

When you are doing your paperwork set aside some time to maintain your files. Just like any other part of your home if you attend to the files regularly they will stay up to date and organized.

 

Unfulfilling Tasks

April 29, 2014

I saw this expression last week in an interview between my friend and colleague,Linda Samuels, and Francine Jay. Francine is a minimalist. In fact, she is known as Miss Minimalist. Francine told Linda in the interview that being a minimalist involved not making unnecessary purchases, getting rid of unused belongings, and also eliminating unfulfilling tasks. Doing these three things opens your life up and allows you to live more fully.

I will typically advise my clients to stop making unnecessary purchases. You save lots of money by only buying what you really need and not giving in to impulse shopping. When I’m working with a client to declutter a house, a room, a drawer (you get the idea) we always talk about the items that are consistently used and loved. The belongings that are not either loved or useful are those which we talk about donating or consigning.

The idea of eliminating unfulfilling tasks is brand new to me but it makes really good sense. There are many times when we engage in activities which do not resonate with us. Now, I do want to stress the point that I’m not talking about taking care of basic household chores which we all have to do. Yes, they are tasks and perhaps they do not fill us with joy but they need to be done to maintain order and cleanliness within the home. Having said that, what am I talking about? What are those unfulfilling tasks?

I believe these are the tasks that do not give us any satisfaction at all. Do you ever decide to do something because your friends are engaged in this activity and they think you should join in too? Perhaps this activity is not as exciting for you and, in fact, eats up lots of your time. This, I believe, would be an unfulfilling activity (task). If you eliminate this activity you will have time for the activities that resonate with you. Another thought to consider is out sourcing tasks that you don’t want to do, if that is financially feasible. For instance, if cleaning the house really does not give you any satisfaction at all and you can afford to hire a cleaning service then eliminate cleaning from your task list. Maybe gardening – weeding, clipping, lawn mowing – is not a task you like to do but if you can afford a lawn service then that task is also eliminated.

Think about how you spend your time. What do you do that brings you satisfaction and what are the chores, tasks, activities that you find unfulfilling? Make a list and see what you want to keep on doing and what you may want to eliminate from your schedule. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so please respond!

Time to Garden!

April 1, 2014

I think Spring has finally arrived in Atlanta. We have had a few days of beautiful sunny weather and the forecast is for more sunny days this week. I’m a sunshine girl so all this bright sunshine makes me really happy! I’m also a gardener. I’m itching to get out and create some changes in my garden. There are a few variety of plants that I’d really like to add to my garden.  I’m also an organizer. I know that first I have to take a good look at what is coming up in my garden. I need to assess which plants can be divided and thinned to make room for a few different plants that I’d like to have. I’ll also take a look at the shrubs to prune back a little to create a little more space. Then I’ll make a plan. I’ll look at my calendar and schedule some time to work on the different aspects of this gardening project. Breaking this project into small, achievable steps so that I have accomplished a task by the end of each planned work session. Once I’ve thinned and pruned to create room for the new plants I’ll go and get them!

How does this relate to organizing? Well, to complete this project I plan the steps I need to take and then schedule them – as I would with any project. I ask what is the vision for this space? How do I want it to look when it is completed? Also, as I would when organizing a room or an area in the house, I first assess the situation, then figure out what fits in the space. Does anything need to be moved to another room or donated out  to make room for the new items being brought into the space? Only after I have these answers and have completed the initial steps can I go shopping for the supplies (in this case, new plants!).
My final step is to plan the maintenance schedule. Yes, I do have a maintenance schedule for my garden. Just like maintaining organization in a house the different areas of the garden must be maintained or they grow out of control. The weeding, clipping and pruning has to happen on a regular basis during the growing season. How do I fit this into my already busy schedule? Well, the daylight lasts longer at this time of year and I pay a little less attention to the inside of my house during these nice weather months and a little more attention to my garden.
Do you have a gardening project in mind? How will you fit it into your schedule? What tasks do you trade off so that you can spend more time outside? Let me know, I’d love to hear back from you.  

Maintenance is Key!

February 5, 2014

Are you thinking about getting your home really organized? Do you like the thought that once all your belongings have a place to be you will be able to find what you need when you want it? As a professional organizer I think these are beautiful concepts. The caveat here is that once everything is organized you must maintain the system.

Think about this another way. If you have a car you need to make sure it has gas in the tank. Every now and then the car will need to have the oil changed or undergo a routine servicing so that the car continues to run smoothly. The car will also need to be washed so that you can see clearly out the windshield – front and back. If there is trash in the car – like food wrappers, empty water bottles, or soda cans they can be thrown out so the car can be vacuumed. It’s also good to remove the trash so you have room for people and other things, like groceries, that you really want to carry in your car.

Your home is much the same. You can’t expect to organize once and be done. Schedule a few minutes every morning to make sure the bed is made, dirty clothes in the hamper, and the dishes washed and put away or rinsed and put in the dishwasher. Plan these chores into your morning routine so that when you return home from work you don’t have these chores to tackle before you can begin preparing for dinner.

Schedule a few minutes in the evening to sort the mail. Take the time to at least separate out the mail to be recycled or shredded from the mail that needs attention – like bills or invitations.

As you go from room to room in your house if you see a few things out of place put them where they belong. You’ll thank yourself later. A few things are easy to attend to. That will only take you a short time. It’s when things are left out of place that they tend to multiply. Then it will take you much longer to take care of the out of place items. Don’t indulge yourself by saying “I’ll do it later”. In my experience, later never comes.

Plan time into your day everyday to clean and maintain one room of your home. Just as it’s impossible to organize once and be done it’s impossible to clean once and expect your furniture to remain dust free. It doesn’t take long to dust and vacuum a room when it’s done regularly. As you’re cleaning the furniture put aside anything that has lingered in the room and doesn’t belong there. When you’re finished cleaning take the time to put those out of place items where they belong.

Rotate through the rooms in your house taking care of one a day. Doing this regularly means that nothing is actually that dusty or dirty and it won’t take you very long. This way you don’t have to dedicate an entire day to cleaning your house. It’s much more rewarding to spend your day off doing something you want to do – maybe something fun with a friend or family, maybe something indulgent like a spa treatment, maybe some gardening… the possibilities are endless.

If you have a spouse or partner and/or children involve them in the maintenance routine. Teach them to put their belongings away. You can make a game out of it. Put on some good music and let everyone know that now is the time to gather things up if they are out of place and put them away. Let each person have a part in keeping your home clean and tidy. Doing this you accomplish several things. You teach your children how to pick up and put away and you teach them to care for their home in a responsible manner.

Remember the key to having a clean and well organized home is maintenance. Create the system and then work it.

Paper piles?

January 28, 2014

Paper is everywhere. As much as we want to be paperless it still comes in our homes. What do you do with it? How do you keep from having paper avalanches? How do you stay on top of the things you have to know and do?

These are all questions that have come my way from time to time during the course of a home-office organizing session.

Paper can be managed but you must get in the habit of dealing with it everyday.

Here are a few quick tips:

1. Sort the paper as it comes in your house into the following categories: File, Shred, Recycle, Toss

2. Have a desk top action file holder. Create action files. These could be something like: Bills to pay, Articles to read, Pending or Things to think about, Follow up …

3. Sort the papers to file into your action files

4. Schedule a day every week to go through and work on your action files.

This system works and will help you gain control over the incoming paper. The next step is to have a main filing system that resonates with you. It is critical that you know where to put the documents you need to file and even more critical that you can find them when you need them. For this to happen, your filing system must make sense to you. It can be alphabetical, categorical or a mix. Whatever works for you is how it should be set up.

Once it’s set up – use it. File those papers, don’t pile them!

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.