Posts Tagged ‘Clutter’

The Clutter Cost of Buying in Bulk

March 23, 2016

Marketplace

Shopping for groceries and other household supplies is expensive. There’s no denying that. The stores entice us with sale notices and the BOGO (Buy One Get One) stickers on certain items. I’m all for getting something for free but is it really free?

When we buy in bulk, buy more than what we can realistically use, there is a cost to us beyond the actual monetary one. It is the cost of clutter.

It’s so tempting to go to a big box store and buy lots of the things we use at a lower price point. It’s a great way to save money. But what is the cost to us when we get home and have no place to put all of the extra supplies?

Some people have big pantry closets where they can store lots of supplies. For these people there may not be any clutter cost because they will be able to put the extras they buy away. They have the shelf or cupboard space to house the extras.

What about those of us with limited storage space? Our cupboards and shelves are small. They already hold our necessary supplies and can only be refilled when our current supply (the one we actually use) runs out. There’s no room to store extras.

We can get creative and use the open space above the cupboards to store things like extra rolls of paper towel and toilet paper. That space can also be used for extra boxes of cereal or power bars. If there is no space above the kitchen cabinets then these supplies typically land on the kitchen counter or on the floor!

I bring this up because recently I was working in a home and the home owner had been shopping at a big box store. The home was a small one. The kitchen was tiny. It was perfectly adequate for this single person’s needs but did not have space available to store extra snack food, paper towels, toilet paper and light bulbs.

These items all landed on the living room floor leaving little room for the home owner and her dog to move around.

We ended up moving many of the paper goods to a spot in a corner of the living room. We put the extra snack food in containers and stacked them in the extra bedroom. These are fine temporary solutions.

My advice to my client was to find a friend to shop with if she wants to continue buy in bulk for the cost savings. The two of them could share the cost of the food and divide the things they bought. A win/win for everyone!

Do you buy groceries in bulk? Do you have a great way of storing the extras? Write me back and let me know!

 

Open Your Eyes!

March 9, 2016

Child exploring nature

Have you started your spring cleaning? Whether or not you have started this process I recommend that when you do you take the opportunity to really look at the things you are moving around. I think sometimes we are so used to our surroundings that we don’t really see what’s there. I know that I can walk through a room in my house and not really notice the space.

Before you begin your spring cleaning spend some time in the room you’re tackling. Open your eyes and take a look as if you were seeing the room or area for the first time. Evaluate the space. Do you like what you see? Does it still work for you? If it does not, could you move some furniture around to make the room better fit your current lifestyle? Maybe even move furniture from one room into another.

If you think some of your belongings no longer fit your current lifestyle consider donating them out. Some things may no longer work with your current decorating style. Face it as life goes on we change and the way we decorate or the things we use need to change along with us.

That’s the problem. In general, we are so used to having our things around us that we don’t even really see them. They are simply there.

I suggest that as you do you’re spring cleaning you throw open the curtains – figuratively and literally. Really look at every item in every room that you are tackling. Evaluate each item.

Do you use it?

Do you love it?

Do you believe it to be beautiful?

If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to at least one of these questions then donate the items out. Someone else will be able to use it.

I know sometimes I’m surprised by what I find in one of the rooms in my house when I open my eyes and really look. Spring is the perfect time of year to be doing this. The light is brighter and the days are longer. Take advantage of this and freshen up your home.

Let me know if you’re surprised by something you’ve found in a room that you didn’t know you had.

Remember – turn your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night for Daylight Savings Time!

Do Your Best

March 17, 2015

There are a few organizer sayings that I often hear and even more often repeat to my clients. One of them goes like this… It doesn’t have to be perfect, just make it good enough! The message behind this statement is fairly clear but in the interest of complete transparency let me explain it further.

When you begin a project you have a vision in your mind’s eye – a picture of how you want the project to look once completed. This vision is probably close to perfection, if not perfection. However, it’s not always possible to achieve that level of perfection. So, if you finish the project and you’ve done your best, be happy with good enough.

How do you know if it’s good enough? Well, you can ask some questions – and answer them.

Does the completed project solve the problem?

Will you be able to maintain the organization?

Does it make you happy?

Does it look the way you’d like it to (even if it doesn’t match the picture in your mind’s eye)?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions then it’s definitely good enough!

I always work towards doing my best. I firmly believe that is all anyone can ask of another. So, if you consistently put out lots of effort and do your best, be happy with good enough!

Planning

May 27, 2014

Do you have a plan for the day? Do you have a general idea of what you’re going to do or what you want to accomplish today? I’m sure you have places you have to be – perhaps work or appointments – that are accompanied by a specific time. That takes up part of your day. What about the rest of your day? Do you have friends you want to call or meet up with? Do you have errands you want to do? Perhaps you have a project like reorganizing a room on your mind. How or when will you get started? How will you get the other things that are swirling around in your mind done?

Planning is the key to getting things accomplished. Think about it. You schedule a dentist appointment, doctor’s visit, a haircut and the list goes on. You set aside time to take care of these appointments. So, how about setting aside time to get things done at home?

Recently, I was working with someone to reorganize their laundry room. I knew this was going to be a large (lengthy) project so rather than try to accomplish it in one day which would have been overwhelming we set aside time each day during the course of a week. We broke the project down into small manageable steps. You never know exactly how long each step will take and, in fact, one of the steps in this laundry room project took a little longer than anticipated.

Our first step, which should be the first step in every reorganization of a space, was to remove everything from this laundry room – other than the washer and drier, which we left in place. Then we sorted the items we had removed. Once we knew what was going to return to this room we were able to talk about how to organize these things. It’s important to creatively use the space you have. We decided that installing shelves about the washer with an additional shelf and clothes hanging bar above the drier would allow us to put everything away neatly.

We planned time to shop at The Container Store for the elfa shelving system and then we planned time to install the shelves and put everything away. The laundry room reorganization was a huge success! All the items are put away. The room looks great!

Do you have something in mind that you want to tackle this summer? Take a little time and write down all the ideas you have swirling around in your mind. Make a prioritized list of these ideas and decide which one you want to tackle first. Then make a plan. Schedule the time to implement your plan. Remember it may require that you spread this out over several days or maybe even several  weeks. If you plan it, it can happen!

Make a Change

March 19, 2014

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could snap your fingers or wiggle your nose like either Samantha on Bewitched or Jeanne on I Dream of Jeanne and have something be changed? The problem is nothing changes if nothing changes. Think about that.

It’s tax season. We all have to locate the documents so that we can find the numbers to fill out the forms for our taxes. Some documents may be filed in the cloud, some may be in a pile on the floor, some may be in a file cabinet in multiple files. What if you changed the way you stored ALL tax related documents? You could, for instance, scan all the documents as they arrive in your house and store them together in a file in the cloud labeled ‘TAXES’. You could also print all tax related documents and store them in a file in your file cabinet labeled ‘TAXES’. This way when you were ready to prepare your taxes all you would have to do is take out your taxes file from the cabinet or refer to the file marked ‘taxes’ in the cloud. Simple, right? Sure, it’s simple but you have to buy into the process and change how you file your documents to make it happen. You can do it, if you’re ready to change how you file your documents. Maybe you already have such a file and preparing your taxes is a snap!

How about the mail? What do you do with the mail when you bring it in your home? Does it land on the counter in a pile? Do you look at the contents of the pile everyday and sort through it? Perhaps you wait until the end of the week to look at the mail. If that’s the case, I bet the mail is spilling all over the countertop and getting in the way. Why not change this situation? You can get an inexpensive stadium file. Create a few categories that resonate with you and your family. Some suggestions are: Bills, Filing, Read, Pending. Now as you bring in the mail sort it into these categories. You might put magazines and catalogues in a basket to look over later. Put anything you are not going to even open into either a recycling bin or a shred basket and file the remainder into the stadium file categories. Now you’ve changed the system and the mail has a place to go – instead of making a home all over your counter.

What about laundry? Are there clothes all over the floor in your room? Have you heard the expression ‘the floor is not an option’? When you change your clothes put clothes you can wear again away – either hang them up or fold them neatly and put them where they go. Shoes go in the closet or on a shoe rack. Any clothes that need to go to the dry cleaner can be placed in a pile on the floor of the closet or in a basket. Other clothes that can be washed should go into a laundry hamper ready for you when you tackle the laundry! Tweak the system a little and the bedroom floor will be clear of clothes! The added benefit is that your clothes do not get crumpled laying on the floor.

Speaking of laundry. You know it’s not really done until it comes out of the drier, is folded, and put away. Some people I know think that the laundry is done – finished – when it’s been put in the drier. Sorry, get the laundry out of the drier, complete the process and then you can call it done!

What habit will you change to create change in your home?

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Organize with a Professional Organizer?

October 30, 2013

Do you have an area in your home that never seems to get organized. Things are generally out of place. You don’t know where to begin to make it better so you don’t. The problem area either remains that way, gets worse, or perhaps a friend offers you a suggestion and one day you tackle it.

Well, this is something I hear often from clients. They feel they should be able to get organized on their own – by themselves. They are embarrassed that they need to have a certified professional organizer come into their home to help them.  They ask why can I tackle these projects with you here? Shouldn’t I be able to make a plan and follow through by myself?

My answer is that it is easier for you when you have a trained professional organizer to guide you. When you’re working with your organizer, the organizer can help you think through the steps in a project to achieve your goal. We talk about how you envision using the space, determine the belongings that stay in the space, remove items that don’t support the stated activities in that space and figure out what you’re doing with those things. If you’re keeping them – where do they belong? if you’re not keeping them we can help you figure out if you can recycle, donate, consign or dispose of them.

Finally, your professional organizer is a cheerleader. Someone who will encourage you as you work on a project to see it through to completion and then celebrate with you. Change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to complete large projects.  Having an objective professional working with you makes the process much less overwhelming – easier to deal with. To find a professional organizer in your area visit: http://www.napo.net or http://www.challengingdisorganization.org

 

 

“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.

Inch it?

June 18, 2013

I was reading the July 2013 issue of Real Simple magazine the other day. I always read the entire magazine – cover to cover – and always take away something valuable. Sometimes it’s a new idea for decorating, sometimes a new way to repurpose a common tool. This week was no exception.

One of my favorite regular features in the magazine is something called ‘Your Words’. This is a piece where readers respond to a question posed by the magazine. This month’s question is: What saying do you most often repeat?  One of the responses was “Inch it!” The responder tells the story about how her mother heard the expression “inch by inch, everything’s a cinch”. She explains that tasks are easier to perform if you tackle them one step at a time.

Does this sound familiar to you? It should! Last week I wrote about breaking tasks down into small steps. I also told you that I’m preparing for an exam that I’m taking in September by reading five books. I’m happy to report that I finished the second book yesterday! I was able to do this because I looked the book over, divided the number of pages by the number of days in which I wanted to complete the reading, then I scheduled reading into my calendar. Essentially, I created a series of reading sessions for myself. I knew that if I said to myself ‘today I’m going to read this entire book’ that it would not happen.

 The book I finished is titled Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding by Fugen Neziroglu, Jerome Bubrick, and Jose A. Yaryura-Tobias. In the chapter titled ” Cleaning up the Clutter” the authors tell the reader ” Generally speaking the larger the project, the higher likelihood of failing. You are much more likely to finish a series of small projects than you are to complete one large project” page 98.

I think these authors would like the expression “Inch it!” Clearing clutter out of your home an inch at a time is much easier than thinking of clearing out an entire room!

I love this expression and plan to start using it with my clients!