Friday, January 11 2019
Happy New Year!
Admittedly, I was very lax last year in posting blogs, but, the good news is...I'm back! I actually enjoy writing so I am looking forward to providing new, updated blogs in 2019 on a more regular basis.
I thought it would be a good time to start with the topic of "NEED vs. WANT".
When it comes to decluttering, these terms can be confusing. Sometimes, we get overwhelmed with the process.
Just imagine that you want to declutter your storage room. You have all types of items in this space and you want to make sense of them. The storage room can easily become a dumping ground for clothes, tools, kitchen items, holiday decorations, toys and memorabilia, just to name a few. You find that your head is spinning when trying to determine whether you should keep something. That's where "Need vs. Want" comes into play.
When I work with my clients and they are feeling overwhelmed with trying to decide whether to keep something or not, "Need vs. Want" can cause confusion. So what is the difference?
The term Need is defined as " necessity, something required that is lacking". The terms Want is defined as "something that is desired". In other words, Need vs. Want equals Require vs. Desire.
There are various factors to consider when determining whether you need or want something.
First, is it for the right reason?
When you look at an item, do you ask your self whether it's something you need in order to function somehow? Is it a tool that you use for home repair, for example? Is it a small kitchen appliance that you use infrequently, but do still make use of? For example, you might have located a large crock pot for larger dinners and you plan to entertain more this year. Do you exclaim, upon finding it, "I've been looking for that! I need this!"
Do you, perhaps, look at an item and consider whether it's something you want to keep, such as an old photo album or your grandmother's dishes? Why do you want to keep it?
Second, can you downsize?
Let's use the example of small appliances. You have found several crock pots that you have acquired over the years. You don't need all of them. Can you narrow down your collection to one, or two at the most? Do you have a large set of Grandmom's dishes that you no longer need, but want to hold onto, because it evokes a memory of Sunday dinners with the family when you were a kid? Did you ever consider reducing the 12 place settings down to 4? Can you reduce the amount by half or more? If so, you can still hold onto the memory, make use of the dishes from time to time, but not have to keep the entire large set.
Third, are you keeping it out of guilt?
Sometimes we purchase something and it cost us a lot of money. Sometimes, someone gives us something as a gift and we don't really like it. These are two common examples of why people hold onto things they don't want or need. When determining whether to keep something or not, do not keep it out of guilt! Remind yourself that you are to only keep things that you need or that you want. Also, remember that everything cannot be your favorite! If you spent a lot of money for something and you no longer need or want it, see if you can give it to someone else who would enjoy it or, perhaps, see if you can sell it. The same holds true for items you get as gifts. Determine right away whether you like something enough to keep it. Otherwise, let it go! (The money was already spent. The item gifted to you is now yours and it is your decision whether you want to keep it or not, not someone else's.)
Keeping these points in mind as you begin your journey of decluttering an area of your home will help you to determine whether you really should or want to still keep it.
If you are overwhelmed with your clutter and have a hard time determining what to keep and where to put it or what to toss and how to get rid of it, don't hesitate to contact me. As a professional organizer I can help you get through the process and make it less overwhelming.
I am here for you!
Monday, March 19 2018
Over the years, I have heard, time and time again, "So how long is this all going to take?". It's a fair question, but not always easy to answer. The honest answer is "It depends."
There are several factors that come into play when determining the answer to this question:
1. How many items are currently in the space you want to organize?
2. What types of things are in the space?
3. What kind of decision maker are you?
4. Does anyone else need to be involved in the decision making?
5. What is the vision you have for the space when it's done?
6. How will you dispose of unwanted items?
Rooms that are the same size can hold drastically different amounts of things. Closets can be stuffed to the brim or under-utilized. Paperwork can take a long time to go through because each piece of paper needs to be reviewed so a home office could take much longer to organize. However, a linen closet or a room filled with furniture will tend not to take as long to go through and make decisions about. It all depends on the contents in the space.
Some people make decisions quickly and are not as emotionally attached to their possessions. Other people need more time to decide. My experience has been that some want to tell me a story about the object before deciding to let it go. That is perfectly normal and understandable as it is a way of letting go. It all depends on what type of decision maker you are. Also, are you the only one that is making the decisions or do you need approval from another family member and a compromise is needed?
Do you have a clear vision of what you want the space to look like in the end? Do you want to re-organize all of the kitchen cabinets and drawers or just the pantry? Depending on what you need to accomplish will determine how long it will take.
How specific you want to be will play a role in how long your organizing project might take.
Lastly, the project is not completed until the items you decide not to keep are disposed of. Do you want to take the time to sell them, donate them or simply throw them away. Sometimes, it a combination of all of them. The key is to quickly get rid of the items once you decide to do so. Do not hold onto them for that once-a-year yard sale!
Generally, once I start working with a client, I can determine how long, in general, it will take to finish the task. They play a key role in how long it will take. Of course, I am there to guide my clients and keep them focused on the project so it can get completed as quickly as possible. Accountability goes a long way in being successful and efficient. I always make sure my clients understand how varying factors will have an effect on how long it will take to get the job done.
If you need to get any area of your home under control and organized, need guidance with time management, paper management or budgeting of your finances, don't hesitate to contact me. As always, I am here to help.
Friday, June 02 2017
I was recently listening to NPR (National Public Radio) and heard a story about a book called "Salthouses" -https://www.halaalyan.com/salt-houses/.
“The war may have only lasted six days, but its impact echoes through generations of a Palestinian family in this ambitious debut novel…This is a moving story about a family’s battle to salvage what remains when their home is taken away.” - —Booklist
Aside from the interesting topic, I was drawn to the fact that the author spoke about how the family in this story was so traumatized by their experience that it had lingering effects that lasted for years to come.
They felt that because they had been displaced for forced to move away from their homeland, they did not "belong" anywhere. They could never return. As a result, their photos and other physical momentos are so important to them, so much more than others might find themselves to be.
I began to realize that aside from refugees, people who have had a great loss in their life - whether it is a loss of a home due to fire, the loss of a beloved family member or other type of trauma could experience the same intense need to hold onto their possessions in order to feel a sense of identity and belonging.
There is a direct correlation between traumatic loss and the need to fill a space with physical contents. An example of this is a hoarder.
As a professional organizer, I recognize the need to be sensative to my clients' individual experiences and life history when helping them eliminate the clutter in their homes and their lives. I then can help them get organized. My goal is always to create an environment for them where they can function efficiently and create a home in which to live and enjoy.
There is a difference between memories and clutter and I help my clients go through the process of making those determinations in a supportive and understanding way.
If you are struggling with determining what to keep and what to get rid of, contact me at A Better Space. I am here to help.
Thursday, June 09 2016
In a few months, I will be celebrating another birthday. As I get older and reflect on my life, I recognize how much we, as adults, evolve and change.
Our ideas about how we want to live our lives, our priorities and other decisions we are confronted with as we get older naturally change.
One of the ways we change, and might not recognize, is our priorities. Think about it. It is not only about who we socialize with, live with, spend time with, things we want to do or achieve, but the items we feel we want to hold on to.
Our priorities change as to what we want to keep.
When working with my clients who have gathered items for a long period of time, I find it interesting how we go through those items and they find that some of what they felt was so important to hold on to, is no longer that important.
Sometimes, it's not the item itself, but the number of items we keep. For example, do we need to hold onto such a large number of a particular item, or is it possible to pare it down to a smaller number which can be appreciated and perhaps still evoke a fond memory of the person it once belonged to?
Interestingly enough, my son created a Memory Box when his father died. He was six years old at the time. We make a habit of reviewing that Memory Box once a year. Not only does he get to go down memory lane, but he sometimes finds that there is an item or two that no longer hold the same significance as they once did, and he can part with them.
I once had a client who had held onto a box of handkerchiefs that belonged to her deceased husband's deceased parent. When we found the box on a shelf in her coat closet, we opened it up and she looked at the handkerchiefs she had not seen in years. When I asked her why she had held on to so many, she said because they belonged to her late husband. I explained that now they belonged to her. What connection did she have to them? Did she need to hold on to almost 100 handkerchiefs? She realized she did not and reduced the box down to ten of her favorite, instead.
Is it possible that you have items in your home that you have been holding on to for years and have not looked at for a long time that do not carry as much significance as they once did? Have your tastes evolved?
The next time you are decluttering and organizing your home, take this into consideration. Are you ready to participate in an "evolution revolution"? If so, you will find that those items you are saving will take up a lot less room if they are pared down to what means the most to you.
If you need assistance in determining what to keep and what to donate or trash, don't hesitate to contact me. I am here to help.
Monday, November 09 2015
I have been working with clients for over 11 years, and over the course of that time, I have spoken with hundreds and hundreds of people.
Although I have been able to help so many people over the years, sadly, there are still so many who chose not to move forward and get organized. Are you one of them?
When it comes right down to it, it's not the money nor the time involved that is used as an excuse to not move forward. If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to get it.
The real reason is fear. There are so many reasons that fear gets in the way. Here are some that I think are most common.
1. Fear of losing the memory if you let go of something. I always say the memory will remain in your head and in your heart. Taking a picture can help remedy this, as well.
2. Being afraid you will upset the person who gave you something that you are not particularly fond of. I call that "Gift Guilt". Why not pass that "something" onto someone else who can make better use of it and enjoy it instead of storing it somewhere, unused.
3. Envisioning that it will be difficult to make changes in the way you do things and have to build all new habits. It is not as difficult as you might think. I make it a point to provide solutions that are customized to my clients' particular style, so the changes feel more natural.
4. Focusing more on what it will cost - in time, money or effort. The value in getting organized quickly becomes obvious and outways the cost. Investing in yourself is invaluable. Making positive changes can last a lifetime.
5. Feeling embarrassed to show anyone, including a professional such as myself, the fact that you live in such a cluttered or disorganized home. From the first time that we meet, my clients recognize that I am non-judgmental. I find that it is not as bad as they think it is. That is because my focus is on the potential of a given space and formulating a plan of action to provide "a better space" that we can envision for a particular room or an entire home. Although I do see the present condition, I can see "the forest through the trees"!
6. Being afraid of letting go because you think you will end up needing that item again some day. I call that "someday syndrome" and explain how that can be detrimental.
7. You have a fear of failure. You think that your attempts to get organized won't work. On the contrary, the systems that I put into place do work because they are so easy to maintain. Again, that is because they are customized, so they are a natural solution that meet your specific needs and coincide with how you function.
Which of these sound familiar to you? What are you afraid of?
On a day to day basis, living in fear only results in people remaining in a cluttered environment.
As we work together to create longlasting results, I spend time coaching my clients and get them past their fears. This is what creates the positive changes in their lives that they can experience for years to come.
Unfortunately, some never experience that change because of their overwhelming fear. Are you familiar with the quote by Albert Einstein: "Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"?
If you want different results, you have to do things differently and that involves change. Admittedly, the fear of the unknown can be scary, but with the proper guidance from a professional organizer, such as myself, can you past your fears and onto a much more organized and happy life that is much less stressful.
We have all been there. I have certainly gotten past fears stepped out of my own comfort zone throughout my life, so I know how it feels. Getting to the other side of fear, however, provides a profound sense of relief and freedom. Opportunities open up when you open yourself up to change.
This holds true when you let go of the obstacle of fear in relation to getting organized. What waits for you on the other side is peace, serenity, time, room to breathe, reduced stress and control of your surroundings. It's so freeing!
If you want a life without clutter, you need to know that it is possible if you just get past your fears. You simply need to take action! Take that first step and don't be afraid to reach out for help. I am here for you.
Thursday, October 01 2015
Most people these days understand what a Professional Organizer does. We have come a long way from the days when people thought we were a cleaning service or an interior designer. We have magazines, newspaper articles, social media and the like to thank for that. Over the years, since I began my business in 2004, you cannot miss seeing tips on how to eliminate clutter, get organized, set up a garage sale, etc.
However, I still get the question from time to time "So, what is it that you do exactly?".
I thought this might be an opportunity to explain in greater the detail just exactly what a Professional Organizer, such as myself, does to help my clients get and stay organized, and the advantages of hiring a professional, as opposed to going it alone.
First of all, you do not need to be a packrat or a hoarder to need the services of a Professional Organizer. Although most professional organizers are skilled in these areas, there are so many other areas that we help with.
For example, there are those that are overwhelmed, not sure how to begin, too stressed out, too limited with their time causing an organizing project to take them too long to complete on their own, unable to envision a room or an entire home that is de-cluttered and organized, or in need of new ideas for space planning, interior redesign, paper management systems, tools for better time management.
Sometimes, a husband and wife will hire a professional organizer because one of them tends to be neater than the other and is frustrated. They cannot motivate their spouse to "get onboard". A third party like me can be objective and provide an unbiased, new perspective of the situation and find the middle ground that works for both spouses, relieving the strain this issue is causing in the marriage.
What you see on TV shows such as Hoarders or other reality TV shows sometimes provide a distorted idea of what is involved. In reality, your clutter problems cannot be solved in a 30 minute episode.
There is more to being a professional organizer than just setting up three containers marked "Keep", "Toss" and "Donate" and shopping for product that will magically transform your space into a home that looks like a designers catalog. The key is "comfort". Providing a space or a home that you enjoy spending time in is the goal.
A misconception is that you are "lazy" if you cannot get organized on your own. I hear this time and time again from women who tell me that their husbands cannot understand why they just can't do it themselves. I always say, if they could, they would have by now.
As a Professional Organizer, I am trained and skilled to help people overcome the obstacles they are facing and create order in a comfortable setting and put in organizational systems that will work in the long term. I always provide customized options to meet my clients' specific needs. I have many resources available to me that I share with my clients, including contractors, organizing products, donation sites, etc. that they might not be aware of. I help make those decisions about "what" to keep, trash and donate when my clients are not sure.
One of the biggest benefits of working with a Professional Organizer is their ability to set up a system that will prevent you from falling back into old habits that no longer serve you. My focus is not on the "stuff", but the person and tapping into what works best for them.
Sometimes, I work with clients who are preparing for change in their life - whether it be a new baby, empty nesters, new business, downsizing and staging a home for sale. The list goes on.
Organizing is more complex than just "picking up your stuff" and paying someone to haul it out of your house. It's about dealing with tangle items, time management issues and the anxiety of finding a solution.
These are some of the top reasons that I am contacted to help get people organized:
1. They don't know how to get organized or where to start.
2. They don't have the time to spend doing it all on their own.
3. They want that accountability partner and motivator to keep them on track to get the job done.
This is not a situation where, like on TV, you leave, I do all the work, and you come back to a big reveal. We are a team and we work together to provide you with the best solutions that meet your specific needs. No television show, book or magazine article can provide that.
That is what A BETTER SPACE provides and now, you no longer have to ask "So, what is it you do, exactly?"
If you are ready to get past that feeling of overwhelm and frustration that the clutter or lack of systems in your home which is keeping you from moving forward, don't hesitate to contact me. I am more than happy to speak with you about your particular sitation and provide you with solutions that work.
You deserve A BETTER SPACE!
Wednesday, July 01 2015
What should you do with all the extra stuff in your house that you don’t have room for? A lot of people deal with this by renting a storage unit and just dumping everything there.
Did you know that the self storage industry has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the United States commercial real estate industry over the period of the last 40 years? I find that incredible!
Depending on the size of the unit, you can spend anywhere from $100 to $250 per unit per month. I have known several people who rent more than one unit. Multiply that by 12 months and you are spending at least $1200 a year to store your "stuff".
Personally, in most instances, I find the decision to rent a storage unit is just a form of procrastination, not a solution. It is, generally, a way to put off dealing with the inevitable; going through the items and making decisions about keeping, tossing, donating or selling.
A woman contacted me last month to talk about utilizing my services to help her declutter and organize her apartment. She was going away on vacation so we scheduled a consultation and first session for this week. When I confirmed the appointment the day before, as I always do, she told me she decided not to follow through. When I asked why, she told me she decided to just put her stuff in a storage unit.
But is this really the best solution?
When you have to rent a separate space outside your home to store all the stuff that you can’t fit inside, this is a "red flag" that you just might have "too much stuff"!
It’s one thing if the need is temporary (for example, when your house is being renovated, or you are staging your home and moving to another home), or if you truly have no room in your home for seasonal items, but some people rent storage units for years and years in order to hang on to things that are worth less than what’s being spent to store them. Does that make sense?
Wouldn't it be better to sell them, donate them, or just throw them out!
Think about it! On the off-chance that someday you discover you actually need one of the items you previously discarded, it’ll probably be less expensive to buy a new one than to keep the old one (and all your other junk) in storage for years and years.
Also, if you have something in storage that really is valuable to you (sentimentally or otherwise), why not honor it in a special place in your home, where it can be appreciated? How can you enjoy that item if it is stored in an outside unit and never seen? If you determine that you don’t have room for it, chances are there’s something else in your home that you could get rid of and never miss.
Always remember - Use the things that you use and enjoy today. Don't save them for “someday”. I call that "someday syndrome". That's when you think you’ll need something that you don’t want or need now. That can be an expensive decision.
So, to store or not to store - that is the question. What is your answer?
If you are contemplating renting a storage unit or already have one that you would like to get rid of, contact me. I can help save you money and honor the items you treasure today!
Tuesday, June 02 2015
Wow! Is it June already? I have been so crazy busy that I have not had the opportunity to write a blog for the past few weeks. I have been working with a lot of clients lately who are downsizing. They are transitioning out of their home into a smaller home. When this happens, many people struggle with how to fit all of their possessions into a smaller space. That is where I come in. I help my clients decide what to keep, what to sell, what to donate and what to throw away in the trash.
I actually get excited when I hear that someone is moving into a new home. Although it can be stressful, it is a great time to evaluate your possessions and decide what is truly needed and wanted. It's a fresh start. So many of us obtain or collect items during the many years we live in a home and do not take the time to weed through our possessions on a regular basis to re-evaluate what we want or need. Moving into a new home tends to help so many focus on this task. However, it can be overwhelming.
It is important to keep in mind the following:
1. Always focus on where you are going and how much space you will have. You need to constantly remind yourself of the amount of space you will have in your new home to help you make smart choices. Stay in the present when deciding on an item. If you hear yourself talking in the past i.e., "I used to use this for...", it is time to let it go.
2. Pick your favorites. As they say, everything cannot be your favorite. Be selective about the items you wish to take to your new home and be sure the item is needed or brings you joy. Don't get stuck in the "Maybe someday I will need it" syndrome. Your home is intended to be lived in, not acting as a storage unit.
3. Set a deadline. Many people who are downsizing are doing so because their kids are grown and have moved out of the home. However, they left their stuff behind for various reasons. Make sure your kids know you are serious about downsizing and cannot take their stuff with you when you move. Set a deadline and tell them that they either pick up or have their stuff delivered or shipped by a certain date or it will be donated. You do not have the room to store their stuff any longer and you do not want the added expense of having it moved to your new home.
4. Become familiar with the home you are moving into. If possible, visit the home you are moving into to do some space planning in advance. This will help you choose the items you will have room for and how they will be set up in the home. This includes furniture placement and cabinet or drawer storage. Take pictures if possible to refresh your memory when making these choices.
5. Organize the packing of boxes and furniture. Be sure to clearly label your boxes and furniture so the movers will have an easier time putting them into the appropriate rooms in your new home. Use color coding by taping a colored piece of paper on the doorway of each room that coordinates with the color on the boxes. Moving companies love when this is done. It avoids them having to ask you every five minutes which room you want certain items. It will also save time, which saves you money.
Downsizing is the opportunity to begin a new chapter in your life. It can be a stressful time but with the help of a professional organizer, it can be an exciting time!
If you are overwhelmed with the idea of downsizing, I am here to help. I can help you go through your possessions to make those important choices, space plan your new home and assist with staging your current home for sale, if need be. I will work with you to help you through the emotional attachment issues you might be experiencing with your upcoming move.
There is an upside to downsizing!
Monday, February 09 2015
Have you heard of the concept of having a Memory Box? I personally feel that everyone should have one (or a few). Everyone goes through life and gathers fond memories of people they have met, places they have gone or things they have done. You should have a designated place to store those memories, hence...A Memory Box.
The first time I created a Memory Box was back in 1998 following the passing of my husband the previous year. To this day, it contains fond memories of photos, letters and other items I collected during our 15 year relationship. I also created one for my son who was 7 at the time to contain his fond memories of his relationship with his father. Both of us open up our boxes from time to time and go down Memory Lane together, reflecting on our special times with my late husband and his father.
Memory Boxes are great, however, there are guidelines you should follow:
1. Store your own memories in your own box. This box is not intended to be shared with others. It is personal. Moms often want to store their kids' memories along with their own in one box. Keep in mind that you have your own memories of your kids and your kids have their own memories and they should be kept in separate Memory Boxes. Do not co-mingle!
2. Be selective. Just like anything else that you keep, "everything cannot be your favorite". Using an appropriate-sized memory box is great for setting boundaries as to how much you keep. When a box gets too full, it is a sign that you are saving too much and you need to go through the box and eliminate what is not longer relevant. Pick your favorites!
3. Do an annual review. Contrary to popular belief, what was important at one point in your life might not be as important now. Your memories and emotional attachment to things change. I have found that over the course of the years, what was once so important and relevant is not so much any more, and that's okay. This is especially true with children. That macaroni art from Kindergarten was so amazing when it came through the door ten times that year, but now, your child is in 6th grade, and that macaroni art is not so incredible anymore - at least not all ten! I highly suggest that you go through your Memory Box once a year and do a review. (For kids in grade school, I recommend the end of the school term.) Make room for the new memories that you will gather in the coming year.
4. Don't confuse a Memory Box with a random storage container. Your Memory Box is not intended to be a place to put things that you don't know where else they should be stored. It is not to be used as a catch all. If you have different categories for memories such as I do (I have one strictly relating to my relationship with my late husband and another more current box of memories), that is fine. Don't keep memories that evoke sad or bitter times in your life. You want to be sure they are "positive memories" that evoke happy times in your life.
I encourage you to create a Memory Box for you and every member of your family. Store them in a place that is accessible for those times when you want to go down Memory Lane and relive those happy times in your life.
Remember, it's a Memory Box, not a random storage container. Fill your box with happy memories that you will enjoy for years to come!
Wishing you an organized week filled with fond memories!
Monday, February 02 2015
Have you found during your lifetime that you have been organized and other times not? It is very common but can be frustrating. When your organizing train has derailed, how do you get back on track?
Here are a few recommendations:
1. When feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and just not sure where to begin, don't try to take on the whole project at one time. Make a list of the things you need to do to accomplish a task or project and do one step at a time. Stay focused on a particular task and it will get done before you know it.
2. Get the family onboard. Have a family meeting that focuses on the tasks that need to be accomplished and determine who will be responsible for those tasks and when. You can set a time each day for everyone to help get organized. For example, at 7:00 p.m. every night, everyone will spend 15 minutes putting things where they belong. Creating a reward system for the kids is a great motivational tool.
3. Taking that sentimental journey can cause the organizing train to be delayed. If you find that you are having trouble parting with belongings, keep in mind that holding onto belongings for the wrong reasons can create clutter. There is no need to suffer from "Gift Guilt". Set a timer to go through the items in small segments. Determine what is most important to you and only keep those items that mean something special to you. If you have inherited items, be sure that they mean as much to you as the person who passed them onto you intended. When your emotions are involved, it can be more difficult to part with items but be selective. Considering donating the items you choose not to keep to a charity so someone else can make use of them.
4. Stop drowning in paper. Your computer can be a huge paper clutter eliminating machine! Instead of a large paper filing system, consider purchasing a scanner and scan documents into your computer. Setting a limit on how much space you allow for certain paperwork will help, as well. Paper is something that is constantly coming through the door. You need to create a system that can easily be maintained. You need to go through your mail and other paperwork on a regular basis.
5. Someday Syndrome. Do you keep telling yourself "I will get to it someday"? If so, you have what I call "Someday Syndrome". If you find that you are having trouble getting started with becoming organized, perhaps you should consider contacting a professional organizer. A good organizer will help you identify the reason you are collecting and hanging onto your stuff and can customize a plan to get you onto the train to success!
There is no need for your organizing train to continue to be derailed. Get back on track. If you are having difficulty doing it on your own, I am here to help. Contact me and let's talk about what is going on and I can explain how I can help.
In the meantime, have a great day!
Sunday, January 18 2015
Usually it is fairly easy to get rid of certain types of clutter: food storage containers with missing lids, broken items that you don't intend to repair, clothing that has not been worn in years, etc.
However, when it comes to items that you have inherited, that can be another story.
The rule of thumb is that you don't need to keep something just because it belonged to a beloved relative. If it's something you don't like and don't use, and you've stored it in the back of a closet, in your garage, basement, or anywhere else (including a off-site storage unit) for years, it's not serving anyone. If it is sitting on a shelf, a table or any other flat surface and collecting dust, you are not honoring that possession and it should go elsewhere.
Are you really honoring the memory of that person if the item is not being used? It's much better to get the item back into use, even if the person using it is not you. Keep in mind that your relative's intention was not to burden you with their things. They want you to enjoy the item.
This is similar to what I call "gift guilt". We believe that if someone gives us something, we have to keep it. Not true! If you don't like something that they gave you, either return it to the store where it was purchased or pass it on to someone else who will make use of it. Perhaps another family member would appreciate having the inherited item. Perhaps you can sell it and use the money for something you want. Give that item a whole new life by passing it on to someone else who can make it part of their home.
If you want to remember the item, take a picture of it before you pass it on. It will take up a lot less room that way.
I have worked with numerous clients over the years who were holding onto furniture, jewelry, dishes, handkerchiefs and knick knacks because they were given to them.
My theory is that the point of holding onto items that you have inherited is to remember the person. Having 100 handkerchiefs in a container that you never open and look at is not necessary in order remember them. I think that keeping a few items or collectibles makes more sense if they are special to you. If you hold onto all of them, just because, I do not believe you are honoring them in the way you should.
Sometimes, we are holding onto items that we have inherited from our adult children because they moved out of the home and left them behind or they do not have enough room to store the items where they live. I have seen this happen time and again and the items end up staying where they are and not being used. This is another form of inheritance, by default.
If the items are taking up space that you want for another purpose and you have the items for a long time, you might decide it's time for a change. Send pictures of the items to that person and let them know you will donating any items they don't specifically tell you they want. Be sure to include a deadline in the not-too-distant future for responding to you. Set a deadline for them to pick up the items or when you intend to have them mailed or shipped to them.
Setting deadlines to accomplish this is vital to your success.
Remember, your home is not a storage unit for others. Honor your home by creating an environment that is condusive to your style of living and that brings you joy. Do not inherit clutter!
If you are overwhelmed and need help deciding what to keep, what to toss and what to donate or sell, contact me. I am here to help.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Wednesday, June 11 2014
As a professional organizer, I have the ability to visualize the potential of any space. I approach any organizing project from the positive end. However, I must admit, that for some, there is a downside. Here are some examples:
1. Stirring up dust and dander. Getting down to the nitty gritty of decluttering can mean that you might experience physical reactions to dust and dander. If you have pets (or even pests), moving items around that have been stationery for some time can cause the dust and dander to result in an allergic reaction. You can take an over-the-counter allergy medication or, in certain instances, put on a surgical mask while you are working and avoid rubbing your eyes.
2. Muscle soreness. Sometimes getting organized can be quite physical. You tend to reach, bend, clean, left and carry items. Soaking in a warm tub or getting a massage can help. Taking a mild pain reliever at the end of the day can help minimize those aches and pains as well.
3. Minor injuries. It is not uncommon to suffer cuts, bruises, chipped fingernails and other minor injuries. It is not a bad idea to keep a small first-aid kit close by to disinfect and bandage small scrapes you incur as you go. Use gloves in areas, like the garage, where you might be more susceptible to injury. Proceed cautiously to avoid serious injury.
4. Travel time. More than likely you will need to make donations to your local charity. If you already have a lot of things to do, it might be stressful to have to schedule a trip (or two) to your favorite donation site. Plan ahead before you start your project to detemine what types of donations are accepted and whether they do home pick-ups. This can save you the time and energy it takes to load up the car and travel to the site.
5. Creating more things to do. Getting organized will inevitably increase your to-do list temporarily. You find items that are broken that you want to fix, home repairs you want to make, items you need to donate, paperwork you need to file or follow up on and more. Be prepared and know that it is temporary but once completed, you will be able to maintain balance in your home which will save you time in the long run.
6. Moving on. Sometimes when decluttering and getting organized, you tend to find things that bring up the past and not always in a in a fun way. It can bring up sadness or even anger at times. It is best to take a moment or two to reflect on the object and what memories it brings up. If they are not positive memories, it is a good idea to get rid of the object and move on.
In my opinion, there is nothing better than going through the process of eliminating the clutter and getting organized. It is freeing, uplifting and motivating to do so. Although there are challenges, the end result is worth all the time, energy and effort it takes to get the job done.
If you are overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized and are only able to focus on the downside, feel free to contact me. I am here to help you focus on the up side and show you the positive aspects of eliminating your clutter once and for all!
Saturday, July 13 2013
Clutter is not just clutter. There are more deep-seated reasons why we can be plagued with it.
Most reasons fall into one of three categories:
1. External - Living with a cluttered parent/roommate/spouse or inherited clutter.
Clutter rooted in external causes can be tricky to overcome. You might not be able to
transform someone else completely, which means you may be continually plagued with clutter to
some degree as long as you live in the same space with them.
If you are struggling with inherited clutter, the situation can be stressful as you are required to take
the time to sort through the items you have acquired. The good news is that this type of clutter
will most likely be short-term. A professional organizer can identify the external reasons and provide
solutions that work for everyone involved.
2. Behavioral - Mediocre decision-making skills, lack of energy, poor categorization and
Clutter resulting from behavioral causes or lack of skill can be more manageable than other
categories of clutter. You can learn and/or improve skill sets, change habits and discover ways to
increase energy levels. It can take some time to overcome these behaviors, but it is possible to do
so within a reasonable amount of time with practice. A professional organizer can help you to identify
and improve your skills and habits more efficiently.
3. Internal - Grief, depression, anxiety, lack of trust, overly sentimental.
Internal clutter is similar to external clutter in that its solutions vary greatly from situation to
situation. In most cases, working with a licensed mental health practitioner or doctor in conjunction
with a professional organizer is a positive step in the right direction. For those that are overly
sentimental, uncluttering assistance from a professional organizer might be all that is needed.
Sometimes it can be more difficult or a slower process, but there are tools that you can learn to
better manage the situation or solve it altogether. Seeking help from an outside source is generally a
You might find that your clutter is stemming from more than one of these three categories at the
same time or perhaps by another cause. Clutter can be a complex issue, but knowing why it is in
your life can go a long way in helping your find a solution that works for you.
If you find that you are overwhelmed with your clutter, no matter what the cause, I can help you to
identify the why and find solutions that work specifically for you. I am here to help.
Contact me to schedule a phone consultation if you would like to discuss your particular situation in
Monday, July 01 2013
Is there such a thing as a fake de-clutterer? Yes, there is!
As crazy as it might sound, it's true.
Do you find that you are telling people you are organized, but instead you are just moving the clutter from one room to another? This is not de-cluttering. De-cluttering involves the elimination of items that are no longer needed or wanted, not just moving them around. You still end up with the same amount of things, they are just located elsewhere.
Does your home appear neat and organized until you open up a closet door and it is crammed with stuff? This is not de-cluttering. It's hiding. Even your closets, drawers and cabinets should be clutter-free. How many sets of linens or towels do you have? How much clothing is crammed into your closet that you don't wear? Is your pantry filled with expired food?
Is the first floor and second floor of your home in good shape clutter-wise but your basement is another story? Is your garage a dumping ground for the items you just don't know what to do with?
Even if you have items categorized and neatly organized in plastic containers or boxes, you can still have clutter.
Do you just have too much "stuff"? Perhaps you have a container with hundreds of twist ties. There is no problem keeping a certain amount, but you need to pay attention to the quantity of like-items you are keeping.
For example, do you have a lifetime supply of pens, pencils, notepads, grocery bags, hotel shampoos and soaps? (Just to name a few.) Anything in abundance can be considered clutter.
Keep in mind that you are not ridding yourself of clutter if you simply move things around to different locations, hide it or make everything look neater. It's still clutter. If items are useful but not being used by you, that's clutter too.
Here's what you can do:
1. Figure out why you are keeping certain items.
2. Think about the purpose of each item.
3. Create a plan and take action.
This doesn't have to be a difficult process. If it seems overwhelming to you, that's okay. With the help of a professional organizer like myself, you can eliminate that clutter and get organized once and for all. Don't be a fake!
Enjoy the upcoming 4th of July holiday and declare your independence from clutter! If you need my assistance, don't hesitate to contact me. I am here to help.
Thursday, April 18 2013
Finally, Spring has arrived and with it Spring Fever. It's a time for fresh starts. For me, I am moving up. I am taking my office space from the basement which has no natural light and moving upstairs to a spare bedroom. This room has soft neutral tones on the walls and a big window that provides a nice view and, best of all, that natural light I desire.
I ordered new furniture that will provide me with more room in which to work. It is expected to arrive in about four or five weeks. In the meantime, I have contacted my handyman who is going to install a new ceiling fan/light fixture and I am in the midst of arranging the room so it is condusive to my productivity.
One of my passions is books and I love to surround myself with them. They make me feel warm and cozy. I love to hold a book in my hands and feel the paper's texture and get lost in the pages. I am not a fan of Kindle for this reason - just a personal choice.
When I was doing space planning for my new office space, I decided to incorporate two bookcases in the room just for my leisure reading. I love to see my collection of novels yet to be read - it is quite extensive.
However, I am aware, as you should be, that there is such a thing as book clutter. Piles of books laying around on a coffee table in your living room, on an end table in your bedroom, on your desk in your home office or anywhere on the floor is clutter.
The author of the blog Epic Write summed up the complex relationship she has with books in her post "Show Me Your Book Clutter":
"The problem is I have so many books I want to read. Or, that I need to read...Aside from my cluttered side table, I have digital and paper clutter where I have recorded books I want to read. From my "wants" list on Goodreads.com to titles scribbed on scraps of paper, I am overwhelmed with the amount of books I will get to someday. even with feeling almost buried by it all, I have no desire to change. I love books. I want to see books everywhere."
For me, I do not want to feel buried by my books. Although I have a lot of books, I do not have clutter. My books are lined up neatly in my bookcases with hardbacks in the back and paperbacks in the front, in alphabetical order by author. I can put my hand on any book I want within moments. If my books do not fit within these boundaries, I weed them out, which I recently did.
I want my new office to feel spaceous and calm because I know that it will provide me with the space I need in my head to be productive.
If you have a large collection of books, take the time to organize them in a way in which you can enjoy seeing them. Not on the floor in a pile, but rather, on a shelf or bookcase that can accommodate them. Do not hold onto books that you have already read (especially fiction). There are way too many books out there to still be read.
If you find that you have too many, donate them to a local library or pass them onto a friend who will enjoy them. Books are meant to be shared with others.
Clearly people love books and everything about them. But, it is possible to keep a reasonable number so that they don't contribute to clutter in your living spaces.
Honor your books by being selective about the ones you purchase and by keeping your collection in order.
If you are overwhelmed with your book clutter or any other clutter in your home, contact me. I am happy to help.
In the meantime, get outside and read a book!
Tuesday, February 19 2013
I cannot tell you how many times people say to me "My husband/wife/partner/roomate has so much clutter" or "They are such a slob" or "I think my spouse is a hoarder". I hear the frustration in their voice and their struggle to understand.
I thought perhaps that I might be able to help you understand why.
The tendency to accumulate items on flat surfaces is, contrary to popular belief, not necessarily because of a psychological issue.
There are other possibilities:
- Some people simply prefer the visual aesthetic of many items. (It gives them comfort.)
- Some people have a hard time remembering where things are so they find them more easily if they are out in the open. (I believe that if something is put in a logical place, it can be found.)
- Some people have positive memories associated with photos and knick-knacks. (I believe that several items can evoke the same emotion or memory as a lot of items and therefore, you only need to keep out a few at a time.)
- Some people have issues with visual processing and literally don't see the items that others consider "clutter". (My son is a perfect example of that!)
- Some people feel it is a waste of time to put things away when they're just going to use them again. (i.e. Why make the bed every morning when you are only going to sleep in it again that night!)
- Some people say they don't care about how their space looks. (I have to believe they also don't care about themselves either.)
- Some people say they have other pressing problems and don't have the energy to put things away. (This is common among people who are depressed.)
- Some people say their schedules are so packed that they don't have time to put things away. (My theory has always been that if you put them away as you go, it will not be a project. I believe you can find 10 minutes at the end of the day putting things away if you cannot find time throughout the day.)
You might personally be trying to overcome this tendency yourself or, perhaps, you are frustrated with your spouse or significant other.
If you can pinpoint the source of the clutter habits, I believe you can find a solution. If you need assistance in determining why the clutter continues to exist, contact me. I can help.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Tuesday, January 08 2013
One of my goals for the New Year was to go through my wardrobe and weed out what no longer fits or I no longer like. Happens to all of us!
I am fortunate to have lots of closet space in my home, but the down side of that can be that I fill it. My wardrobe has become quite extensive as a result. I had room for everything but I decided it was just too much.
Little did I know, that when I went through my walk-in closet and guest room closet, that I would be eliminating as much as I did. (I didn't even get to the shoes or my dressers yet!)
I decided to view my wardrobe as if I was shopping. I would try on clothes and look in the mirror. I asked myself several questions:
"Do I still like this item?"
"Do I like the way it looks on me?" And most importantly,
"If I were to try this on in a store, would I buy it?"
If the answer to any of these questions was "No", it was removed from the wardrobe.
I had suits, pants, tops, dresses, skirts and jackets that I swore still fit me. However, when I went to try them on, I found out differently. Some classic suits had been in my wardrobe for years. I discovered I had tops, pants and skirts that were no longer comfortable. Admittedly, I have put on some weight so those clothes no longer fit. It was now time to get rid of them. Realisticall, I will never be a Size 0 or Size 2 again.
Using the last question I think is the most important and easiest to detemine whether to keep something in your wardrobe. This can apply to everything you wear - jewelry, purses, belts, scarves, etc. I believe it eliminates the "Someday Syndrome" or the "Maybe" syndrome. It helps you to be more definitive about your decisions.
So the next time you are going through your closets and your drawers, pretend you are shopping and ask yourself "If I were to try this on in a store, would I buy it?" If not, either throw it away or, better yet, donate the clothing to your local non-profit such as Goodwill. Others will appreciate your contribution and it can be a tax deduction.
If you have difficulty weeding through your wardrobe, contact me. I can help. Remember, less is more!
In the meantime, have a great day!
Monday, October 15 2012
There comes a time when most people need to reach out and ask for help to get organized. It can be prompted by life changes such as marriage, divorce, birth of baby, empty nest, death of a loved one, depression, Attention Deficit Disorder, downsizing, etc.
No matter what the reason may be, people reach out to me for organzing help mostly because of the following:
1. I'd like to be organized, but I never learned how.
2. I am overwhelmed and frozen. I don't know where to start.
3. I do not have enough space for my stuff.
4. I do not have enough time to get things done. My To-Do List goes on forever.
5. When I go to purchase organizing products, I don't know what to buy or where to get the best products.
6. My kids are out of the house and my parents have passed away. I have too many things that I have held on to and need help letting go.
7. I know what I want to accomplish but I can't figure out how to get there.
8. I know that the only way I will get organized is if I have an accountability partner who can guide me through the process.
9. I'm organized but my spouse is not. It's driving me crazy and I don't know what to do.
10. I have ADD and having difficulty staying focused and organized. I need to figure out systems that work for me.
Do any of these sound familiar? It could be one reason or a few. No matter, a professional organizer like myself is skilled in these areas and can help you to get "unstuck" and moving forward towards a decluttered, organized and stress free home and life.
Comment below and let me know which of these are keeping you stuck. I am here to help if you need further assistance.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Tuesday, July 31 2012
Are you familiar with an old song done by Neil Sedaka - Breaking Up Is Hard To Do?
Well, he's right. I recently ended a long relationship with a man and it was so hard to do. It took me some time to get up the nerve to do it and prepare my thoughts for how I was going to break the news to him. It included lots of anxiety. Now that it is behind me, I am experiencing a sense of relief. I have cleared space in my life for new opportunities.
It got me thinking that the same is true when you are in the process of decluttering and parting with items that you believe are so near and dear to your heart that you can have anxiety attacks, become frozen and emotionally distraught.
Eliminating clutter can be difficult and overwhelming at times, especially when you have to make those tough decisions about certain items. As a professional organizer, I work with most of my clients, at one point or another, on just such issues. Sometimes there are tears, anxiety or even resistence to what they know, deep down inside, needs to be done.
Emotional attachment issues connected with material things need to be dealt with by taking small manageable steps. I always tell my clients that, although they may have collections of items from a relative or friend that either passed away or reminds them of a special time in their life, they all tend to evoke the same memory and can be downsized considerably without erasing the memory of the person or event. People are afraid that they will forget - they won't.
Sometimes it's guilt that prevents them from getting rid of things. Someone gave it to them and, although they don't particularly like the item, or collection of items, they've held onto them because they feel bad about letting them go.
My philosophy is that once the item is given to someone, the giver of the item gives up their right to it and it becomes the responsibility of the person they gave it to. It is up to that person to decide whether to keep it or get rid of it. If the giver is keeping such close tabs on what they give to you, causing guilt, you need to have a conversation with that person. This emotional burden needs to be lifted.
Being realistic about what makes sense to hold on to and what makes sense to get rid of is not always easy. It helps to remember that less is more. As in ending a relationship with a person, ending a relationship with a material thing can be very very difficult, yet very freeing.
Although "breaking up IS hard to do", it can be done. By eliminating the clutter that inhabits your space and that sense of overwhelm that comes as a result, you will feel free as well.
If you are having trouble letting go of those items, utilizing the services of a professional organizer can help.