Wednesday, November 27 2019
I am happy to introduce you to my guest blogger today. Please welcome Scott Sanders of Cancerwell.org. Because, like most people, unfortunately, I personally know of someone who is fighting cancer, I find this blog helopful and want to share it with you. I hope you find it helpful, as well.
How to Make Space for a Loved One Who Is Fighting Cancer
There’s a lot to consider when a family member moves in with you. When it’s a loved one who has cancer, your worries are understandably amplified. From cleaning and sanitizing to organizing and making space, you have a laundry list of steps to take before they come home. Here are ways you can create the ultimate recovery space in your home.
Organize Storage Space for Everyone
Whether you need to clear out a room or make space in the garage for your loved one’s belongings, staying organized is vital.
Of course, if you don’t have a garage, you’ll need another long-term storage option. Adding an outbuilding to your property can help protect your or your family member’s belongings and keep them nearby. Choosing the cheapest option isn’t always the best value, though. Think about what materials to choose — whether steel or wood — and how climate can affect them.
For example, steel has the benefit of being resilient against the elements. However, it can be far more expensive than wood. It also heats up in warmer weather, which could affect your items stored inside. Wood may be less durable, but it’s also more affordable than steel. However, wood doesn’t stand up to weathering as well as other materials. Some wood, like cedar, can resist outdoor conditions better than others, however.
You should establish a budget, then research your area and what materials are most suitable for storing your loved one’s and your own belongings.
Consider Home Care Services
Although you may have the best intentions when choosing to move your family member home for recovery, it can be stressful. Many family members of patients wind up feeling anxious, depressed, helpless, and more when they face caring for their loved one full-time. For everyone’s health and well-being, it can help to seek support.
Cancer.net explains that many types of home care services can help you and your loved ones live fuller lives. Assistance ranges from home health aides who provide nursing care to volunteers who merely sit with the patient so the family can have a break.
Living at home rather than in a facility is often preferable for patients with cancer. Considering in-home help can make the transition easier and less intimidating for everyone involved.
Make Safety and Accessibility Modifications
Depending on your loved one’s health status and mobility level, you may want to add safety features to your home. Side effects from common chemotherapy drugs can include a weak heart, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, poor coordination, and other health issues. In short, the effects of treatment may cause safety challenges at home.
Steps like incorporating grab bars in the restroom or non-slip flooring in the halls can help your family member feel safer and more independent. A shower seat can enhance stability while bathing independently, and a first-floor room means less exertion than climbing stairs.
Think about modifications you can make without renovating your home, but don’t discount the possibility either. Fortunately, many renovations can be low-cost and even DIY.
Give Your Loved One Their Independence (and Privacy)
Undergoing cancer treatment can be stressful, painful, and scary. But it can also be frustrating for a loved one who was formerly independent. For family members with strong personalities, focusing on independence and privacy can help you all live together harmoniously.
Ensuring that your loved one has a say in their moving decision is a good first step. Providing choices for where to store their belongings, how to decorate their room, and what type of home support they have can do wonders for their self-confidence. After all, they’re a person first and a patient second. something many people with cancer want you to recognize.
Studies also suggest that patients who self-manage feel more empowered and confident in their recoveries. Therefore, having a say in medical and other decisions is crucial. Programs like prehabilitation, where patients undergo physical and social training before surgery and treatment, can also help your loved one maintain their strength and independence.
Moving your family member home for cancer recovery is a significant commitment. By working together, you can see them back to good health, and beyond.
Photo via Unsplash
Wishing you all the best!
Tuesday, January 22 2019
We are about a month into Winter and I'm over it already. I am not a fan of bone chilling temperatures, snow, ice and high winds. This week has put me over the edge. I am counting down until my mini get-away in the later part of February. (Honestly, looking forward to it keeps me going until Spring arrives.) I need a taste of Summer.
Are you planning a trip somewhere warm this Winter to get you through?
Before heading off on your vacation, here are a few things you can do so you don't come home to any unwelcome surprises:
1. Water Heater - Set it to the lowest temperature to save energy. New models may offer a vacation mode or wireless control.
2. Thermostat - Adjust it close to the outside temperature but no lower than 50 degrees. (You don't want your pipes to freeze.) In the Summer, you don't want to let it get too hot in the house. If you have wood floors, they can warp. If you have a wireless system, adjust it to it's normal temperature a few hours before you arrive home so it is comfortable when you return.
3. Electronics - Unplug appliances from the wall outlets (or use surge protectors) in case of any electrical issues. This will prevent the potential for an electrical fire.
4. Water - Turn off valves to your dishwasher, washing machine and sinks to avoid any leaks. After you return, you might find air in the pipes when turning the water back on, so do it slowly.
5. Mail - Arrange to have your mail held at the post office until you return home or have someone come to your home every day to bring it in the house. You want to avoid having your home look like no one is home for a long period of time.
6. Newspapers - If you still get a daily newspaper, contact the carrier to put a hold on your delivery until you come home from vacation or have someone bring your newspapers into the home.
7. Neighbors - Make a trusted neighbor aware that you are going out of town so they can keep an eye on your home and look for any suspicious activity. Give them a key and a code to the alarm system, is necessary. Show them how to reset the alarm upon leaving, if need be.
8. Deliveries - Make sure you do not arrange to have Amazon or any other online store make deliveries to your home while you are out of town. With package theft at an all-time high, you don't want packages being left on your porch or at your front door for an extended period of time. (Not to mention damage caused by inclement weather!)
9. Social Media - Resist sharing on Facebook that you're going away if your home is going to be empty and tell your kids to do the same.
10. Timer - Keep one or more lights on a timer in your home that are visible from the outside. Set them to go on at dusk and then turn off shortly before your normal bedtime. This is another way for it to look as if someone is home when you're not.
Be safe and have a great time on your vacation!
Wednesday, March 28 2018
Spring is finally here and the flu season appears to be behind us. I spent the entire Winter season doing everything possible to avoid getting the flu and the good news is, I was successful. That is something that is very contagious in a bad way.
However, there are things that are contagious in a good way! For example: laughter, smiles, a good mood and even a yawn. Did you know that contagious yawning is a sign of empathy and a form of social bonding?
Also, getting organized can be contagious! Yes! That's right. I have seen time and time again how, when I work with a client in their home, other members of the family get the "organizing bug".
I tend to work mostly with busy moms who are struggling to find the balance in their physical space as well as in their heads with time management, etc.
On many occasions, I work with Busy Mom and in the beginning, Dad is not on board. It is interesting to watch how they begin to see the transformation and want a piece of that. They start organizing a sock drawer or getting rid of some paperwork, simply by seeing what is going on.
Most recently, I began working with a family who has several autistic children, one of which is very sensitive to change. I have no intention of pushing that child to straighten up their room or move anything around that they do not want touched. However, Mom recently got in touch with me and told me that her child has observed the changes being made in her master bedroom and took it upon himself to go into his own room and remove the trash and straighten up his video games.
Needless to say, I am thrilled! I want nothing more than for the children to enjoy an organized and peaceful environment in which to live. Whether I help them or they take it upon themselves to do it on their own, it's a positive outcome.
This is a perfect example of how getting organized can be contagious - in a good way!
If you and your family are struggling with clutter and want to get organized, consider starting the process yourself or with a professional organizer such as myself and you just might find that your family get's the "organizing bug" and starts organizing their spaces on their own.
How great would that be!
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.
Monday, May 22 2017
Do you struggle with how many or how much of something you should keep? This is a common problem many of my clients experience.
There is no clear cut answer to these questions but there are guidelines.
One of the most common guidelines is what you have and where you intend to store it. When I am evaluating a situation for my clients, I always take into consideration the space in which the item or items will live.
It is important to let your boundaries be your guide.
What do I mean by this? It's simple.
We all have boundaries we need to follow - whether it's on a personal level with other people or with our possessions.
Take for example your hamper. It's a boundary! When you fill it, you know it's time to do the laundry.
The same is true for many other spaces in our home.
Here are some examples for you to consider and incorporate into your home and in your life:
1. Clothes Closet - You need to make sure that your clothes hang and/or fold in an area that provides sufficient space so as not to crowd your wardrobe. It is easier to store your entire wardrobe in a closet to avoid having to do a "seasonal switchout", but that is not always possible. However, we do want to limit the size of our wardrobe based on the space in which we have to store it. This might mean downsizing it to make it work for you in an easier way.
2. Cabinets and Drawers - Whether they are in your kitchen, bathroom, home office, bedroom or bathroom, you need to be sure that they are not so stuffed with items, you cannot easily select what it is you want from them. Drawers should be able to easily open and close without items getting stuck. Cabinets should be set up neatly so you can easily see what they contain. Storing similiar items together will make it easier to find them.
3. Donation Bin - Every household should have them. I tend to use 18-gallon plastic containers. I especially like to use them in kids' bedrooms so that when they outgrow their clothing, they are easily identified and can be donated or passed on to another family member or friend. However, when the bin is full, you need to clear it out and start again! If you are storing clothing for a younger sibling to use. Containerize them by size.
4. Storage Room - This room needs to be as organized as any other room in the home that your family and friends see on a regular basis. It is not a dumping ground for everything you want to hide from public view. The use of storage shelves can go a long way in setting boundaries and zones for the various items you wish to store. Be sure to review this area on an annual basis to determine what might no longer be needed or wanted.
5. Garage - The same holds true for the garage as the storage room. It is not a dumping ground. Remember, the original intent of a garage is to store your car. Although there are other items that need storing, such as trash cans, recycling bins, bicycles, lawn care, tools, etc., you need to zone out the various areas and no exceed the size of the garage. You need to be able to easily navigate throught out the space so try your best to avoid filling the center of the room with items. Think vertically and use storage options that help keep your possessions around the perimeter of the room, instead.
Whether it is something as small as a clothes hamper or as large as a garage, pay attention to its boundaries and let them be your guide as to how much space you have in which to store your items.
If you need guidance or assistance in determining how to maximize the space you have or wish to utilize, don't hesitate to contact A Better Space. I am here for you!
Monday, April 17 2017
With the Summer season just around the corner, many of us get on the "decluttering bandwagon" to freshen up our wardrobe and various areas in our home. Did you know that you can actually make money from your clutter? It's true!
Do you have CD's, DVD's, blue rays and video games you are no longer using or want? Why do they need to take up precious real estate in your home, then? Decluttr.com is an online site where you can sell these items. Simply scan the bar code on your item to learn the value, ship them and the money will be direct deposited into your account or even sent to you via check the next day. How easy is that?!?! And...better yet, the site even pays your shipping! You have no excuses!
Nextworth.com is a site where you can sell get a quote, ship for free and get paid for your smartphones, tablets, video games, laptops, ipods, video cameras, portable audio and wearables such as FitBit.
Do you have designer clothing you would prefer to sell instead of donate or throw away? Then, Tradesy.com is for you! All you need to do is list the items in your closet or dresser that you want to sell. (Good photos will help you sell your items faster.) Once they sell, the site sends you a pre-paid, pre-addressed shipping kit so you can send your merchandise. They take 9% commission on each sale. Certainly, making 91% is better than having the item take up space in your closet!
If you take a closer look around your home, I am sure you will locate items that you are ready to part with and have just become clutter. Why not sell them and make some money?
Hint, hint - You can then use the money you've made to hire a professional organize like myself to declutter and organize the various areas of your home that are just too overwhelming for you to deal with. It's a win-win situation!
If you are in need of A Better Space, don't hesitate to contact me. I am more than happy to help!
Wednesday, March 15 2017
Almost every woman I know or have met has created a crazy, busy life for themselves. They tend to have a house, husband or significant other, kids, full-time job and lots of responsibility around the house and obligations to their family.
Life is complicated enough. We don't need it to be high maintenance.
What do I mean by that?
Often times, there are ways that we can streamline our responsibilities and our possessions to make our lives easier.
As a professional organizer, one of my responsibilities is to help my clients identify where they can change either the way they do things or reduce the amount of possessions they have in their life. Sometimes, we can identify items we possess that could be replaced by items that are simply easier to maintain and use.
Some examples could be:
1. Vacuum cleaner - Is your vacuum cleaner easy to use? Is it portable enough that you can easily move it from one floor to another? Are there tons of attachments? Is the bag easy to replace when full? Does it store away without taking up a lot of room? If not, you might want to consider purchasing another vacuum cleaner that would be lower maintenance.
2. Paper Shredder - Is your paper shredder sufficient for your needs? Does it shred paper efficiently? Does it accommodate credit cards? Does it have a cross-cut feature to ensure confidentiality of your paperwork? Does it jam easily? Does it overheat quickly? Consider these points to avoid wasting time and energy when it comes to shredding your paperwork.
3. Clothing - I don't know about you but I do not like to iron. (I have had the same iron since 1983!) I do anything possible to avoid ironing. One way you can reduce the amount of time you spend ironing is to purchase clothing that is not 100% cotton. Another time-saver is to put your clothes into the dryer - even on a low setting - and hang it up while it is still warm so the wrinkles fall out.
4. Kitchen - One area of the home that tends to accumulate clutter is the kitchen. How many times have you purchased a small appliance only to determine that it is never used and it just sits on your counter, collecting dust and taking up space? How many items are you not able to put into the dishwasher to clean and have to manually wash them? Do you have a set of silver from your grandmother that sits in a box and is never used?
5. Knickknacks - An abundance of knickknacks could easily qualify as a high-maintenance item. Do you have a collection of knickknacks that someone gave you and youa re not even fond of? An abundance of knickknacks can mean having to take more time to dust. Consider downsizing your collection to reflect only your favorites and truly special to you.
Items that are hard to maintain are often unused.
What items do you possess that are more trouble than they're worth? Take a look around and share your thoughts. I bet a lot of you have the same type of items!
In the meantime, if you are struggling with "too much" and your life is "high maintenance", it might be time to declutter and organize your home. Give me a call or send me an email and lets talk about your "high maintenance" life. I can show you how to have A Better Space instead!
Thursday, November 03 2016
I know it's sometimes hard to believe but teenagers can be organized. We need to guide our kids in various areas so the whole picture comes together. There is the physical and mental aspects of disorganization which need to be evaluated.
During the school year, keeping teenagers focused on everything that needs to be accomplished in a day can be a challenge. Here are some ways you can help them:
1. If you have trouble getting your teen up in the morning, buy the most annoying alarm clock you can find and put it far from the bed. That way they are forced to get up and turn it off. Limit their access to electronics as the day winds down to get their mind to relax, providing a better night's sleep, making it easier for them to get up in the morning.
2. To keep bathroom time to a minimum, place a timer inside and set it for 15 minutes. Teenagers are notorious for getting lost in the shower. Once the timer goes off, time's up—period. This is great for siblings who share a bathroom.
3. Help your teen navigate their school roster by copying their schedule on a copy machine to fit in a wallet or backpack. They can also keep a copy in their locker.
4. List activities on a large calendar and color-code them. Keep the calendar in a central location in the home for all to see. Use a different colored highlighter for each member of the household. This is a great way to make sure everyone knows where they have to be and when, as well as assisting parents with carpool schedules.
5. My son never liked sitting at a desk in his bedroom when he was in school. Determine where your teenager would be prefer to do their homework and study. It might be a dining room table, kitchen table or even a comfortable couch with a loveseat. The important thing is that they like where they are working and are productive.
6. Help your teenager develop good time management skills by mapping out a weekly schedule of responsibilities. If they have a larger project to get done, schedule out blocks of time that will enable them to complete the project on time.
7. Provide organizing tools such as a clothes hamper in their bedroom, hooks on the back of the bathroom door for towels, and containers to hold desk supplies, sporting equipment or other items for easy access.
8. Create a chore chart that schedules blocks of time for them to do their own laundry, take out the trash, do some light housekeeping or any other responsibilities you want to assign to them to teach them responsibility and lighten your own load.
Utilizing physical organizational tools and good time management tools will help your teenager to become an organized and productive individual.
Friday, June 24 2016
Being organized does not just pertain to adults. It benefits children as well.
Did you know that you can actually boost your child's confidence, their ability to learn and their maturity level by helping them to create order in their life?
Being organized is more than just a clean room. For adults and children alike, it is essential for learning. If you don't have the materials you need to ace a test or you are surrounded by clutter, it affects your ability to focus.
Organization encourages responsibility. For children, it can be as simple as cleaning up their toys and putting them into clearly marked containers. When your child is organized, they become more independent and their frustration level is reduced. If they know what they want and where to find it, they can do more things on their own, which gives them a great sense of independence and self-esteem.
A few habits is all it takes to help your child develop organizing skills. There are techniques that work for younger children as well as older children.
1. Neatly storing their things:
Younger children can get involved with cleanup. Make it fun by setting a timer and creating a pick-up game that lasts about 10 minutes. If you have more than one child, get the entire family involved. Get your child used to cleaning up as they go and doing a final sweep at the end of the day. By the time your child reaches grade school, they will be able to keep their toys organized on their own. Using simple containers set up by category and labeled with pictures of the type of toy or game will make clean up a breeze.
When it comes to older children, pointing out their successes will encourage them to do more. Your grade schooler or tween can clean up toys and games, help clear their dishes off the dinner table, dust and hang up their jacket. Show them examples of what they are already doing and what else they could also be doing. Make it easy for them to be successful. When your child sees that they already know how to be neat, the task will feel more doable to them.
2. Time Management and Routines:
Younger children do not have a concept of time. However, that does not mean they cannot be taught promptness; it's just a matter of creating routines. For example, every night is "bath, book, bed". If it is verbally stated before the routine is to start and implemented each night, they will get accustomed to staying on schedule.
Older children need to learn not to procrastinate. This can be taught by requiring your child to lay out their clothes the night before or plan out a long-term school project a week or so in advance.
3. Completing the task:
Younger children can learn this concept as young as 1 year old. Read them a story from beginning to end at bedtime. They are taught that things have a beginning, middle and an end. Referring back to what I mentioned above, having your child put away a toy after they play with it before pulling out another toy will teach them task completion, as well. When they are working on a larger project, like a Lego structure, however, you might decide it's okay to leave it for another time to complete. This will teach them how to manage long-term projects.
Older children need to learn rules and limits. Older children get distracted by technology, which is a big hindrence for teens when it comes to completing homework or a chore around the house. Set up tech-free zones in the home and create a quiet place for your child to study. Set time limits as to how long and when they are permitted to use a gaming device or their phone for texting.
Lastly, practice what you preach. Children learn by example, so be sure to follow the rules when it comes to these areas.
If you are overwhelmed with your own clutter or your child's, I can help. I work with busy moms to organize their homes and their time, as well as working with their children to create an organized bedroom or playroom and create time management plans for the family. Don't hesitate to contact me to discuss your particular clutter issues.
Thursday, May 05 2016
Mother's Day is only a few days away.
Due to the fact that I work with so many moms, I am aware of how little so many of them value themselves. Yes, they recognize that they wear many hats, such as caregiver, chauffeur, chef, cleaning service, bookkeeper and do so many things to keep the household running.
As Mother's Day approaches, I am wondering whether you and your family know how valuable you are.
As you may know, one of the most common issues I deal with in my clients' homes is paper management. Having a background as a paralegal working for an estate attorney, I am aware of the legal documents everyone should have, as well as having a life insurance policy.
So many times, I hear that my clients - the busy moms who are trying to balance all of their responsibilities and are just too overwhelmed to get and stay organized - do not have a Will, Living Will, Power of Attorney or a life insurance policy for themselves.
So many "stay-at-home" moms do not recognize their own value and don't think it's necessary.
Let me ask you a question? What would it take to replace you if something should happen to you, leaving your family without a Mom?
The misconception that you need to work full-time outside the home and can simply rely on your spouse to provide the only life insurance for the family is a dangerous one.
As a woman who advocates for busy moms, I urge you to take some time to consider getting a Will, Living Will, Power of Attorney and life insurance policy to insure that your family is protected in case something should happen to you. Have a discussion with your spouse or significant other and take the steps necessary to put these pieces into place as soon as possible.
When I work with my clients, we have a discussion about the documents that might be missing. For me, it's not just about making the papers in their filing system look pretty. It's about the function and the whole picture, including critical documents they need to have.
Do you have them? Don't you think this is something you should think about and discuss with your significant other and family?
Consider this my Mother's Day present to you. I would love nothing more than to know that all moms are fully taking care of their families.
Have a great Mother's Day.
Thursday, April 07 2016
The other day I heard an oldie on the radio and it prompted me to think about clutter. Strange, I know, but hear me out.
Do you know the song "How Long Has This Been Going On?" by Ace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAVl_IJV5eI
I find that I ask this question with so many of my clients when I first speak with them and now, I want to ask you the same question.
Do you have ongoing clutter issues that won't go away? Do you think your situation can be remedied overnight?
The fact remains that if your clutter has been accumulating for quite some time - months, even years - it will take some time to eliminate it and get organized.
The good news is, however, that it can be done!
I know how overwhelming it can be. Sometimes you feel that it is just easier to ignore it. Is that the real solution? No!
At some point it needs to be dealt with, so why not now?
Just imagine what it would be like to walk into a particular room (or perhaps many rooms in your home) and feel that immediate sense of calm. Eliminating clutter and getting organized can do just that!
Sometimes it is so overwhelming that you don't know where to start. Sometimes the answer is to reach out for help and hire a professional.
You and I both know that if we cannot do something on our own, the best solution is to engage the services of a professional. I do it! I hire an electrician, plumber, handyman. Why? Because I don't always know what I am doing and it will take too long for me to figure it out on my own. Also, I want it done once and I want it done right.
The same applies when it comes to clutter and disorganization. Don't you want it done once and for all and don't you want it done right? Wouldn't it be great to have someone come in who can provide a new perspective and create a solution that meets your specific needs and provide ideas you might never have thought of before?
As a professional organizer who has specialized in residential organizing for so long, trust me, I know how to do it once and do it right!
So, ask yourself. HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN GOING ON? If your answer is months or even years, and you are ready to get past this obstacle and commit to the process, it's time to reach out for help. Simply pick up that phone now and contact A Better Space. You'll be so glad you did! I would love to provide you with a space that you love.
Tuesday, February 16 2016
Are you a busy mom? So many of my clients are. They have young children and/or teenagers. They either work full-time out of the home, part-time at home or are a stay-at-home mom. Their life is filled with time constraints, a long list of things to do and a feeling of overwhelm. Their husbands are great but they just can't seem to understand what it's like to manage it all.
Does this sound familiar?
If so, BUSY MOMS! THIS BLOG IS FOR YOU!
I want you to know that I get it! I feel your overwhelm and frustration. I know how you have tried to get your home and your life organized, but just can't seem to get it done. I want you to know that it is normal to feel that you are a failure and you just can't understand how this happened! I know that your expectations of yourself and your spouse's expectations of you are more than you can live up to. But the truth is, you are not a failure!
So many moms tell me "I know how to get organized, but I just can't." I speak with so many moms who contact me simply because they feel frozen and overwhelmed.
I want you to keep in mind that gathering great ideas on "how" to get organized is not always enough. Just having the ideas does not necessarily create enough time, space, discipline and motivation to actually carry through your ideas.
The reality is, it's just not enough to think you can do it. You need to stop wasting your time and move forward. The longer it goes on, the worse it will become. I am here to help you stop the chaos and get organized, once and for all. And the good news is, I am just a phone call away!
I urge you to acknowledge that it's time to pick up that phone and contact me. I ask that you think enough of yourself to reach out to me and get some help. There is no shame in admitting you are overwhelmed. Busy moms like you are, more so than not, frustrated, overwhelmed and not even sure how to begin the process. These are the most common statements I hear when I get that phone call.
Are you ready to stop feeling this way and learn the tools you need to get and stay organized? I work with busy moms just like you to help carve out the time, create a solid plan and keep you motivated to get the job done.
Follow through on your intent to have A Better Space, because thinking about it is just not enough.
I will be here when you are ready.
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!
Thursday, August 27 2015
Last week I had the privlege of working with a new client who asked me to help her organize her Sun Room. It is a room in her home that her husband has not been able to enjoy for several years due to the clutter that had been building up on the furniture and floor in the room. It was intended to be a quiet get away from the hustle and bustle of every day life. That was not the case. It only created anxiety and frustration due to the amount of clutter it contained.
My client wanted to get this room organized for her husband as a birthday present for him. I gladly took on the assignment.
The clutter in the home had gotten to the point of it being so bad that it was affecting the couple's marriage. The marriage was on the verge of ending if the clutter that had been accumulating for many years was not cleaned up. My client was stuck. She was overwhelmed and did not know where to even begin.
This is a situation that, unfortunately, I am all to familiar with. Clutter can, in fact, cause permanent damage to a marriage if it gets out of control and cannot be remedied by the spouse who created it.
Needless to say, my client recognized that she needed help in order to get the house back in order and begin to work on saving her marriage. She hoped that the Sun Room would be the first of several projects we would work on together.
My client had asked her husband, unbeknownst to him that it was going to be a present for him, if he had a choice, which room in the home he would like to see organized. He said the Sun Room. He expressed to her that he was extremely doubtful that this room could ever return to its normal condition, let alone in one session, but was willing to have me come into the home and work with his wife.
And so, the project began. For four hours, my client and I went through the contents that had piled up in the room and either relocated it to the proper room elsewhere in the home, organized it within the room, or threw it away. With some interior redesign, I created the clutter free and spaceous room that he desired.
My client was so thrilled with the outcome by the end of the session that she cried and hugged me, thanking me profusely for creating A Better Space for her husband to enjoy. She was hopeful that when he came home, he would be as excited as she was and would ask me to come back to do further work with his wife in their home.
Before I could even get back to my office following this session, I received a phone message from my client advising that her husband did, in fact, walk through the door and was "blown away" by what had been accomplished and, following their vacation, intends to have me return to do other projects in the home.
I was thrilled that I was able to bring such joy to both of my clients and get such a great reaction from the husband.
In a lot of instances, my clients are not able to visualize how such a cluttered space can become A Better Space, but, fortunately, I can.
Unlike my clients who cannot see past the clutter, as a professional organizer, I am able to see the potential of any given space and, with that, can bring their dream of a clutter free and organized room to fruition.
If you want to be "blown away", contact A Better Space so we can discuss your particular situation and how I can make this happen in your home!
Wednesday, August 05 2015
You might not realize that you are living among clutter because you see it every day. Sometimes we cannot see what is right in front of us because we have become accustomed to it being there.
It is possible that you might need to pay closer attention to the signs of clutter in your home. Here are some of the signs:
1. Your guest bedroom requires that you move junk around so your guests have a place to stay. More often than not, because your guest room is used infrequently, it becomes a dumping ground for items that do not have a home elsewhere. The day comes when guests are planning on arriving and you need to provide space for them to stay. All of a sudden, it's a race to get the room in order for their arrival. Learn to put things where they belong and not just throw them into this room.
2. You know you have an extra set of car keys, but you can never find them. If you have trouble finding that extra set of keys or any other everyday item, it's a sign that its time to get organized. Your small items might not have a place of their own. Locate a place in your home where the item is used frequently and dedicate that spot to the item. Be sure to teach the other members of your household to put the item back into this spot after they have used it.
3. You find that you are having to constantly return home when trying to get out the door in the morning. You walk out the door to get the kids to school or you are running out the door to get to work and you have to run back inside for your cell phone or the kids' homework. This is a sign of disorganization. Plan what you need the night before and set up a station by the front door where school bags, purses, keys and anything else you need can be placed. Use a sticky note on the front door to remind you of those last minute things you need, such as school lunches, etc.
4. You are paying late fees and interest charges every month. Think about what it is costing you each year that you are paying those annoying late fees and interest charges because you do not have a system in place to pay your bills on time. Simply set up a bill paying schedule and designate a place for your mail. Create a consistent time to sit down and pay your bills each week or every two weeks to avoid this situation.
5. You never seem to have time for yourself. It is vital, no matter how busy your life is, to create some "me time". You get up early and go to bed late. You are exhausted. Take a breath. It is okay to schedule blocks of time for yourself on your calendar. It is a great time management tool. You need to create some time to do the things you enjoy doing, whether it's reading a book, taking a yoga class or even getting together with some friends for a few hours. Life is about balance; it's not all about work and getting things done. "Me Time" can be so empowering.
Take a look around. Pay attention to the signs of clutter in your home and in your life.
If you are having difficulty with any aspect of getting organized, feel free to contact me. I am here for you! I can show you how to eliminate the clutter in your home and in your life.
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 09 2015
How many people do you know that have lived in their homes for over five years? Are you one of them?
Just imagine how much has been accumulating in your home since you moved in. Do you know what you have? Chances are you don't.
We tend to gather items over the years and store them away and then forget about them. There is not one time that I have worked with a client that we do not find something they have either been looking for or just completely forgot that they had. It's just a matter of time!
The most common time for people to access what they have in their home is when they are actually moving out of it! But, I ask you, why wait? Why not take some time and create an inventory of what you have in your home now? Here are some steps you can take to get this done:
1. A Room At A Time - Don't attempt to inventory your entire home at one time. Work on one room at a time. Start at the top of your home and work your way down.
2. Make a detailed list of items you want to purchase. Do you want to replace the comforter set on your bed? Write it down. Do you want to change out the light fixture in your bathroom? Write it down. Even if you don't think you will make that purchase right away, put it on your list. Treat it as a punch list that you can use to get things done over time.
3. Make a detailed list of the items you need to repair. Does your closet door squeak? Does your carpeting need to be steam cleaned? Put everything you need to repair on one list and then get them done as soon as you can. It is important to always work on the upkeep of your home. If you create a list for yourself or a handyman, these items can be knocked off your list in no time!
4. Create an inventory of the appliances and electronics in your home. For insurance purposes, it is important to have an inventory of the major appliances and electronics in your home. Include a detailed description and model number. Keep this list in a fireproof/water proof safe box to use in case of a fire or flood. This will speed up the process when making a claim with the insurance company.
Whether staging your home for sale or just keeping up with the contents in your home and the repairs it might need, it is important to create an inventory and know what you possess.
Do you know what you have in your home?
If this process is too overwhelming for you, I am here to help. As a professional organizer who specializes in residential organizing, I can help you identify what is in your home and organize your contents in a way that makes it easy to find what you need, when you need it. Simply contact me to discuss you organizing stumbling blocks.
Sunday, May 10 2015
Okay, let's get this straight! I am not a Star Trek fan. Sorry, but it's just not my thing! However, S P A C E is something I can definitely relate to. Especially when it comes to getting organized. Finding a good home for your things is the final frontier, the final goal. Interestingly enough - S P A C E is an acronym.
It stands for Sort, Purge, Assign, Containerize and Equalize. This is vital to getting organized. Let me explain.
1. Sort - When organizing a room, you want to go through the things in that room and determine whether they fit the theme of the room. For example, you should not be keeping children's toys in a master bedroom. Out they go! Do you have a purpose for the item and do you like it?
2. Purge - Now that you have identified the items that do not align with the theme of the room, either throw them away, donate them, sell them or move them to another room in the home where they will serve their purpose. Yes! Get your kids' toys out of the master bedroom and put them in the play room!
3. Assign - All of your "stuff" needs to find a home. When things don't have a home, you don't know where to put them and they end up laying around, on top of a counter, a desk, a table, the floor, etc. The place you select needs to be convenient. Think about it. If it is difficult to put away, chances are you will not put it away. Think of where you would logically look for that item - that is where it belongs! (Your answer might not be the same as someone else's, and that's okay. Just be sure to let others in the household know where they are being stored.)
4. Containerize - The organizing product industry is extremely lucrative for a reason. Why? It's simply - because things need to be containerized and stored. Make good use of drawers, storage bins and shelves in your home. Put like things together by how you use them, not how someone else tells you they should be used or stored. Make sure the container fits the amount of items being stored, it should not be too large or too small.
5. Equalize - Start using the rooms in your home for their intended purpose. Use the bedroom for sleep and relaxation. Do not use it to store items you want to hide from guests when they announce they are stopping by! Use your home office to pay your bills, file your paperwork and be productive.
Keep these concepts in mind and if any room in your home is not working for you, change it!
Do you want to have A BETTER SPACE? If so, contact me. I am here to help. I can help you to create the room you envision by eliminating the clutter, getting it organized and putting in customized systems that work!
Yes, SPACE is, in fact, the final frontier - it is my goal for getting you organized, once and for all!
Wednesday, April 01 2015
Happy April Fool's Day!
I am so excited that April is here and, hopefully, the Winter weather is finally behind us. We are all getting ready for the upcoming holidays, Easter and Passover, which both are being celebrated this coming weekend. Before we know it, the flowers will be blooming and the warmer temperatures will be here to stay.
In preparation for the warmer temperatures and more time spent outdoors, this is a great time to seriously think about what clutter issues you may be contending with in your home.
Sometimes the Winter months can make us feel a bit sluggish and less productive. We go into hibernation mode and tend to be less motivated to get things done. Since this past Winter was particularly challenging, with severely cold temperatures and, for some of us, tons of snow, this is even more true.
Well, no more excuses! It's time to get moving and get organized!
Do yourself a favor and look around your home and be honest about the areas that need some organizing attention. Is your bedroom floor filled with clothing, is your linen closet stuffed with sheets and towels, are your kitchen counters crowded with papers or other items, does your home office contain piles of paperwork that does not have a home, is your family room no longer welcoming to the family, is your garage so filled that your car doesn't fit in it?
Do you walk through your front door and the first thing you see is clutter? How does that make you feel? Just imagine coming home at the end of the day and having your home bring you a sense of calm instead of dread. I have always believed that your home is your haven and should be a safe and happy place, leaving the chaos of the world behind.
Eliminating your clutter and getting organized can help to bring that to fruition. It has a very powerful impact on all aspects of your life. Here is a comment I received from one of my clients:
"Audrey, I wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying my home now. It is much more relaxing. You helped me create a peaceful place. There is a place for everything and it is easy to keep things organized. I was a little nervous when we first started working together. I wasn't sure about someone having opinions on items that were important to me but I knew I needed to organize and downsize. You really listened to me and helped me donate things I really didn't need. Now I have a much more manageable home. I enjoy entertaining more. You were such a help and I enjoyed the time we spent working together. I thank you for helping me in such a caring and professional way. It was such a pleasure to meet you. Many thanks, Karen A., Newtown, PA"
My intent here is not so much to toot my own horn, but rather to show you what an impact getting organized can have on your home and your life.
Don't be "April foolish"! Take some time to evaluate what is truly going on in your home that is keeping it from being what you envision it to be. If you need a fresh set of eyes to help you evaluate your situation and get you on the road to organization, don't hesitate to contact me. As always, I am here to help. I am only a phone call or email away.
Have a great week and a wonderful holiday!
Tuesday, February 17 2015
This blog is geared for those who have already gone through the process of eliminating their clutter and have organized their home and/or their life.
It is very important that once you go through this process, you are able to easily maintain it. Of course, from time to time, we need to tweak some areas, but it should not become a large project. That would defeat the purpose of the work you have already done.
Maintenance can come in many forms. When checks bounce or bank accounts are overdrawn, it's because we didn't balance our checking account properly to always know what we have available to use. When we run out of clothes to wear, it's because we failed to do the laundry.
Home and office clutter tends to result in the "no maintenance" approach to living. It tends to be the "toss, pile and deal with it later" approach that gets us in trouble. Avoid dumping and you will avoid procrastinating (putting off what can be done now for later).
It is not difficult to maintain your "organizing mojo". If this is a problem for you, here are some tips to help:
1. Put items away in a pre-designated location, each and every time. When you initially organized a particular space, such as a drawer, closet, shelf or an entire room, you created places for your items that should make the most sense for them to be. If you should discover that the place you selected is not working for you and you "dump" your stuff elsewhere, I recommend that you re-evaluate the location you selected to see if it is, in fact, the right place for the item to be. If not, change it.
2. Some items require more maintenance than others. Items such as paperwork, dishes, food items, clothing, etc. are examples of items that might require daily maintenance. If systems are not created to control your clutter, you end up creating more work for yourself in the long run. It could be as simple as creating a basket that is designated for magazines near the coffee table in the living room and making a point to read the magazines on a weekly basis. Clearing off your desk at the end of each day will help to control your clutter and avoid creating a larger project for later. It is vital that you have the right organizing tools in place.
3. Make it convenient. If you commonly use a particular item, store it in a place that is easily accessible. Less oftenly used items can be stored high up on shelves or in a storage area as opposed to the main living space.
4. Create a routine. On a daily basis, schedule 15 minutes or so at the end of the day to put away items that are laying around. Sort your mail daily. Do your filing weekly. Determine what routines work best for you and your family and stick to them.
5. Consider hiring help. If the idea of maintaining your organizing mojo is overwhelming to you, consider hiring someone to help you. From time to time, your needs change. Items have a way of building up in the home and you need to bring some balance back into your life. Consider hiring a professional organizer who can tweak certain areas of your home or office to get it back to the way it should be or create a new, updated system for you and your family to help you regain balance.
Remember, your home or office does not need to be perfect. It needs to be functional and feel comfortable and maintaining your organizing mojo can help make that happen.
Contact me if you want to talk further about maintaining your "organizing mojo". Have a great week!
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!
Wednesday, December 31 2014
Happy New Year! Are you ready for 2015?
This is a great time of year to not only eliminate clutter and get organized, but incorporate a little Feng Shui into your life and your home. I dabble in Feng Shui from time to time and use the basic principals when working with my clients in their homes.
This list was created by Kathryn Weber, Feng Shui Entrepreneur & Nationally Syndicated Columnist.
Notice that de-cluttering is at the top of the list!
OUT WITH THE OLD
Grab a laundry basket. Next, set a timer and take it with you from room to room. Set it for five minutes. Now, start throwing out old papers, magazines, empty bottles of shampoo from the bathroom, old clothes you know you’ll never wear again! Do it.
Got CDs you never listen to? Throw those out or donate them to charity. Have some old coffee mugs that don’t match or odd drinking glasses still hanging around in your cabinets? Pitch ‘em.
When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t forget to look under the bed, too! And toss that lipstick you haven’t worn in two years! Remember to clean out the pantry, too, and toss that half-empty box of Rice Krispies that’s gone stale.
2. Sweep or vacuum
Get the old energy out by making the floors clean.
3. Do the laundry
Don’t have dirty clothes hanging around. You can throw in a load or two while you declutter. Be sure to fold and put the clean clothes away.
4. Clean the bathroom
Make it sparkle. You don’t want a nasty mess to greet the next year of your life!
5. Empty all trashcans
Don’t want last years’ trash hanging around, do you? Toss, toss, toss.
6. Clean out the refrigerator
Got a half-empty jar of apple butter? Get rid of it. You don’t want to go into the New Year with old food or a moldy science project lurking in the fridge.
7. Clear out visual clutter
Too much stuff everywhere? Clear off the counters in the bathrooms and kitchen. Clear off your desk and dust it. Pitch the sticky notes and papers and things taped everywhere! You can do it. Don’t forget the refrigerator! Make it a blank slate.
Make as much space as possible. You cannot bring in new things if there is no room for it and we want a fantastic year, right? Then make your space “open” for the abundance of the New Year!
8. Yard work
Make sure the yard is picked up and the front door step is swept and clear.
9. Change the sheets and towels
Put clean sheets on all the beds on New Year’s Eve and clean towels in the bathroom and kitchen. New sheets are even better.
10. Clean the car
This is what gets you around during the year. Drive through a car wash, take out the trash and do a quick cleaning.
All done? Wow, doesn’t that feel good! Now you’re ready for the next step.
IN WITH THE NEW!
1. Fill your pantry and kitchen
Stock the refrigerator with food and make sure the pantry is also stocked. It is bad feng shui to have an empty refrigerator and pantry. If you have canisters in the pantry or on the countertops, be sure to fill these.
2. Got citrus?
Oranges are excellent symbols for the New Year and the Chinese often celebrate the New Year by rolling oranges (symbols of gold) into the house. Place a big bowl of 8, 9, or 10 (the numbers of prosperity!) oranges in the living room or central location in the house next to dishes of nuts or candies to symbolize an abundant, fruitful home.
3. Buy a new plant
Put a beautiful new plant in the East (health & family relationships) sector of your house or office to symbolize a healthy beginning. You can also display some beautiful flowers here to symbolize your good health in the coming year.
4. Welcome good news
Place a golden bell in the NW corner of your home, office, or bedroom to bring good tidings from helpful people. Like old school bells? If so, place one of these in the NW corner of your yard for good news from helpful people.
5. Hang up new calendars
What better way to greet the New Year than by throwing out the old one? Take down all of last years’ calendars.
6. Fill your wallet
You don’t want to go into the New Year with an empty wallet. Put some money in your wallet — or better yet — go and buy a new wallet (red is the best!) or purse and start your financial off with new energy!
7. Invite a toad to your house
Place an old, broken clay pot upside down next to a water spout so a toad can make its home here. Toads are believed to invite money into the household; they’re especially nice by the door. You can also place figurines of toads by the door.
8. Feed the birds
Birds are excellent feng shui and believed to bring good news. Fill your feeders or put out a feeder for the New Year.
9. Have fun and celebrate
Fun is good feng shui. A happy vibrant home or space is a good space, so plan a party of some kind of happy gathering. Remember, a home or office with good feng shui is easy to spot it’s the one where everyone goes and doesn’t want to leave! Make your space that kind of place!
OR, as I say "Make your place A Better Space!
So, what do you think? I am not sure about inviting a toad into my house. I think I will go ceramic, thank you, but a little Feng Shui never hurt anyone! Go through this list and do the best that you can. Do one thing at a time to help stay focused and soon, you too will have A Better Space.
Wishing you a very Happy (and organized) New Year!
Monday, October 20 2014
Now that we are well into Fall with Halloween just around the corner, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Chanukah will quickly follow. Before you know it, we will be participating in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping.
I would like you to keep something very important in mind.
I recently spoke to a Moms Club at their monthly meeting and my topic was about organizing the kids. One of the points that I made, which is so relevant at this time of year, is that when it comes to gift giving, you need to remember the concept of "presents vs. presence".
Did you know that the United States has about 3 percent of the world's children, yet U.S. families annually purchase more than 40 percent of the total toys consumed globally. This tends to happen because there are so many working parents. They now have less time to spend with their kids so they tend to shower them with toys to compenstion for that perceived "loss of quality time". Other relatives, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles can also contribute to this statistic.
There is a difference between "presents" and "presence".
Presents are great, but in excess, can cause clutter.
Don't spoil your child by providing too many presents. There are other alternatives. Have you considered asking grandparents or other family member to purchase movie tickets, tickets for live events or a favorite restaurant instead of a toy? Try to come up with creative solutions that do not involve a lot of toys, clothing or other items that are in excess of what is reasonable.
Relatives and friends tend to want to give "things" to your children to show them how much they love them. However, they need to understand that, although it is appreciated, their time is more precious than possessions. Too many possessions tend to lead to clutter.
I once worked with a hoarder who used to purchase toys and clothes for her grandchildren and ship them out three times a week. Can you imagine what that house looked like with all of those "presents" arriving at their door? I was able to get her to understand that her time with the grandkids meant so much more to them that the gifts they were receiving. She ended up taking a trip to visit them and spent about 10 days of quality time with them instead. Now that, in my opinion, is a "gift".
Before the holiday season gets under way, why not take some time to contact those relatives and friends and express this concept in a tactful way so as not to upset the gift giver. Having alternative ideas in mind ahead of time will guide them in the right direction and help you reduce the clutter of too many possessions in your home. Consider doing the same for those you love. Give your time instead.
Remember when gift giving this year - "presents" vs. "presence". Why not choose "presence".
If you are overwhelmed with the toys, clothes and other items that have accumulated in your home, don't hesitate to contact me. I will help you bring balance back into your home so you can enjoy time spent with your family instead of stressing over the clutter.
In the meantime, have a great day!
Thursday, October 02 2014
Wow, it's been quite a month here at A BETTER SPACE. I have had the pleasure of working with some new clients and continuing projects with existing clients as well as doing a vendor event at a Senior Activity Center and an interview that will air on You Tube next month where I discuss time management tools. (Stay tuned for details coming soon!)
My latest project was to work with a client who is relocating out of state and needed to declutter her basement. She had lived in her home for the past 8 years. We spent two days going through her basement and determining what to keep for herself, what to give to family members, what to sell at an upcoming garage sale and what was trash.
The basement had not had much attention in the past and some of the boxes we identified had not been opened the entire time she had lived in this house. They came with her 8 years ago and were never looked at again, until now. (This is more common than you think.) The basement was filled with cobwebs and dead bugs as can be common in many unfinished basements.
I am happy to report that after two days, the basement is now decluttered, the trash is ready for pick-up and my client feels so much better after getting through a project that was too overwhelming for her to tackle on her own. She has now identified what she can sell at her upcoming garage sale and looks forward to making some money to put towards her moving expenses. She is now able to sleep better at night knowing that her basement went from "Spooky" to "Spooktacular" in just a matter of two days.
Fall is a great time of year to eliminate the clutter in your home. Think about how much better you would feel if you were able to eliminate what you no longer need or want, whether it is by throwing things away, donating them to a local charity, passing items onto family members who would enjoy them or selling them at a garage sale or perhaps online.
Imagine how good you will feel when you turn your home from "Spooky" to "Spooktacular" before Halloween! Pick a room in your home to work on and get started now!
If you need any assistance in getting past your feeling of overwhelm and want to get that project done once and for all, don't hesitate to contact me. As always, I am here to help and I would love nothing more than to help you make your home "Spooktacular"!
Tuesday, September 02 2014
It's that time of year when we are settling back down into our routines, either with work, school or the household. Vacations are behind us, the kids are returning to school and the normal routine of running a household returns. It's all a balancing act.
There are some ways that you can (again) create balance in your life when it comes to getting organized.
1. The "One in, one out" rule. Whenever you bring something new into the house, get rid of something. Are you purchasing new clothes for the upcoming Fall season? Go through your closet and get rid of the items you did not wear this past Summer.
2. Do not transfer your clutter. You will not do yourself any favors by clearing off the dining room table of clutter and moving it to the home office floor. Deal with it now to avoid a project later.
3. To do or not to do, that is the question. Consolidate all of your "to do's" onto one list and decide whether you are going to do it yourself (and schedule a time to get it done), delegate it to someone else or not do it at all. Keep your "to do's" moving.
4. Finish what you start. Do not move from one area to another when organizing. Finish what you start and then move on to the next area.
5. Store it where it's used. When deciding where something should go, ask yourself where it is used. Keep like things together so you can easily find them when you need them.
6. Don't be afraid of open spaces. It's okay to keep a drawer empty or a shelf in a cabinet empty. You don't have to fill every nook and cranny with "stuff". It's a great back-up spot for those times when you need a little more space.
7. Location, location, location. Mark shelves, bins and boxes with labels so everyone will know where things belong and can help put things away in their correct location.
8. Double trouble. Don't keep multiples of things that are not being used. You do not need two can openers or four pair of tweezers. Get rid of the duplicates either by passing them onto someone else, donating them or throwing them away if they are not in good condition.
9. Get back on that horse. Everyone falls off the organizing horse from time to time. Maintaining organization is a continual process. Allow yourself to fall behind from time to time, but don't delay in getting right back up, dusting yourself off, and starting over again. (The good news is that if you are organized to begin with, it will not be so hard to do!)
If you are overwhelmed with the thought of getting organized and don't know where to begin, I am here to help. As a professional organizer, I can help you find your balance. Now, with a new season approaching, it's a great time to create A Better Space. Don't hesitate to contact me.
Thursday, August 21 2014
Not only do people need to have a home, but so does their stuff.
Interestingly enough, I was working with a client of mine the other day and we were discussing her cluttered closets in her home. She has clothes everywhere. Her dresser drawers are stuffed and she has clothes that she no longer likes or wears.
She asked me about helping her to create a laundry schedule because she feels she can not get a handle on it. Of course, I could help her with that. I have done it many times for many of my clients over the years.
She mentioned that she hates doing laundry. I asked "Why?", that the washer and dryer do all of the work. She said she agreed with that except for one thing. When it comes time to put the clothes away, she does not have a place to put them. Basically, her clothes are "homeless". There lies the problem. It's not the task that she dislikes, it's the frustration afterwards to try to put her clothes away; to give them a home.
It got me thinking. I have counseled clients over the years on how important it is to find a home for their things. It is beneficial in so many ways. Not only can you easily put things away, but you can easily find them when you want them. It is a tremendous stress reducer and applies to all aspects of your home. It eliminates procrastination in many instances.
Think about it. It is important to have a home for all of your paperwork in your home office, groceries in the fridge, cabinets and/or pantry, linens in the linen closet, clothes in closets and drawers, tools in the garage...the list goes on and on.
I have seen it time and again. When I work with my clients and we find homes for their possessions, they get an immediate sense of relief and reduction of stress. Their lives are made so much easier, just by being able to put things away where they belong.
So, I ask you. What items in your home are "homeless"? Are you able to find a solution? If not, contact me. I can help. My passion is to find homes for your possessions and reduce your stress so you can enjoy doing the things you like to do and have the time to be with the people you want to spend time with. You deserve A Better Space.
Let's knock out homelessness together!
Wednesday, July 30 2014
Even though it's Summertime and we intend to be lazy, it can sometimes be the crazy days of Summer instead. The kids are out of school, we are running from one activity to another to keep them busy, we are planning and going on day trips or vacations and we just can't find the time to get organized.
Not to worry. You don't have to wait until the kids return to school. You can still do some simple things to get on the road to organization now.
I have some suggestions that will take five minutes and help you out:
1. Hang Some Hooks - They take very little time to install and are a quick solution for getting things up off the floor - towels in the bathroom, camp bags in the mudroom, clothes in the bedroom, etc.
2. Do A Hanger Purge - Hangers that are laying around are not being put to good use. Gather the extra wire hangers and give them back to the dry cleaner. Refuse hangers when making a clothing purchase at the store. Keep hangers on the rod for clothes that will be returned from the wash to mark the space where they belong. One hanger per item is all that is needed. The rest can go!
3. Eliminate Junk Mail - While bringing in the mail each day, identify the junk mail before it even enters your home. Keep a recycling bin and paper shredder near the entrance to your home for easy disposal.
4. Take It With You - Whether you are leaving a room in your home to go to another, going upstairs from the first floor or downstairs from the second floor, take something with you that doesn't belong there and put it away. This applies to your car as well. Before you get out of the car, take your trash or other items that do not belong there.
5. Create A Donation Destination - Pick a room where you can have a container for donations. A great place to keep a donation box is in a closet or the laundry room for clothing that no longer fits or that you no longer like. Other suggestions are for toys that hte kids outgrow or no longer play with. Add to the box as you go and when it is full, take it to your local Goodwill or other non-profit charitable organization.
So, no matter how busy you are, you can still find ways to get and stay organized with just five minutes of your time.
Which tip did you like the best? What other ideas do you have for five minutes of organization?
If you are overwhelmed with the idea of getting organized, I can help. I have lots of great ideas for you to create A Better Space anywhere in your home. Contact me! I am here to help.
In the meantime, enjoy your Summer!
Monday, July 14 2014
Are you looking for some tips to maintain your newly organized home? Some of you have already gone through the process of eliminating the clutter and finding a home for your things. Are you done? No, you are not!
Now you need to maintain the organized space you have created.
There are some super simple and easy ways to put your things away. They are short, sweet and to the point.
1. Make sure it's easy to put your things away. You found a place to store your holiday decorations in your garage on top of a shelf above the garage door. Now you realize it's a bit difficult to get to. (Been there, done that! My ex-husband built a geat shelf above my garage door years ago to store the Christmas holiday decorations. However, he always had to climb an 8 foot ladder and squeeze into a narrow opening to get the items up and down. When we split, I changed that. I was not about to climb up an 8 foot ladder, even if it was only once or twice a year, to retrieve my holiday decor.) Consider how difficult it might be to put away and retrieve your items before committing to that space.
2. Make sure everything has a home. All family members who share in putting things away should know where items belong. When bringing something new into the home, think about where it is going to live before you make that purchase.
3. Invest in good tools. I don't mean the hammer and the nails necessarily. I mean items like filing cabinets with drawers that extend all the way out so you can easily access the back of the drawer. Purchase a better shredder to avoid paper jams. Get items that will last so they don't fall apart and have to be replaced all the time.
4. Develop routines. Do your filing weekly. Set a timer each night for 15 minutes for the family to participate in cleaning up. Eliminate junk mail on a daily basis. Schedule one day a week to pay your bills consistently. Determine what routines work for you and your family and be sure to stick to them.
5. It's doesn't have to be perfect. Unless you are putting your home on the market for sale, your home does not need to be pristine. Set a comfortable standard in your home. It's more important to have a home that is safe, functional and generally uncluttered. Pefection is too strong of a standard to maintain and can be very stressful. Relax and enjoy the comfort of your home without the clutter.
If you have yet to start the de-cluttering and organizing process in your home, I can help. I can set the stage for a home that is comfortable, functional and enjoyable for all members of the family to enjoy. I have lots of ways to provide you with the tools you need to maintain the home long after the organizing process is completed. Contact me if you want to discuss your organizing struggles.
In the meantime, happy organizing!
Tuesday, July 08 2014
Even if you are not looking to take on a large organizing project, there are some things you can do on a daily basis to get and stay organized. The good thing is, little effort is involved.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Make Your Bed - This simple task will not only give your room a nicer look, but if you have pets in the home, it is especially helpful. Pets have litter, dirt, fur, dander, dust or other items on them that you don't necessarily want on your sheets. Take five minutes to make your bed first thing in the morning.
2. Determine Your Route - Are you running errands or taking a trip? Plan the best route you will take and know travel conditions before getting into your car. Getting lost or sitting in a traffic jam is not saving you any time.
3. Load The Dishwasher or Hand Wash The Dishes - Dirty dishes left in the sink, on the counter or elsewhere in the house is an invitation for bugs, pests and bacteria. A cluttered sink makes it difficult to prepare meals. Load the dishwasher throughout the day and run it regularly to keep your dirty dishes from building up. Wash your dishes by hand and let them dry in the drainboard as you use them. Put the dishes away on a regular basis to avoid clutter.
4. Open Your Mail - On a daily basis, bring your mail into the house and immediately sort through it, eliminating the junk mail by shredding and recycling. Open up the rest of the mail to decide what you need to do with it. This will avoid the build up of paper clutter in your home.
5. Lay Out Your Clothes - The night before, decide what you want to wear the next day, even down to accessories and lay them out for the next morning. This will save you time when you are rushing to get somewhere the next day.
There are many other ways you can do some "everyday organizing". Can you think of any?
If you are overwhelmed with the idea of getting organized or have a larger project you want to tackle, don't hesitate to contact me. I am here to help.
In the meantime, I am wishing you an organized day!
Monday, April 28 2014
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I beg to differ. No matter how young or old you are, you can learn how to be organized. Yes, even a toddler can do it!
Since I work with so many moms, I get this question all the time. "What chores and responsibilities can my children be expected to do?" Let's focus today on the youngest organizers, the toddlers.
Young children want to help. They are eager to be independent and feel that sense of accomplishment.
Here are a few simple suggestions:
1. They can hang up their own coat. Put a 3M removable hook on the back of the coat closet door or near a cubby in the mud room which is low enough for them to reach but not have the coat drag on the floor. They can hand up their own coat this way. The hooks can be raised as they get taller.
2. They can wipe down the bathroom countertop. Get them a small step stool. When they are brushing their teeth, combing their hair or washing their hands, have them use a damp wash cloth to wipe up any spilled and splashed water from the counter top.
3. They can make their bed. By age 2-1/2, you child should be able to pull up the sheet and comforter if the side of the bed is not up against a wall. (It might not be perfect but it's good enough!)
4. They can put dirty clothes in a hamper. Get them a fun hamper that is open at the top. They can easily put their dirty clothes in every time they change their clothes. Just ask them to do so to remind them.
5. They can put their toys away. After playing with toys, toddlers should be able return their toys to their proper storage bin or shelf. Make sure they are in reach and use picture labels to guide them. Clip art is a great tool for finding the right picture. Teach them that they need to clean up before moving on to another activity.
By age two or three, although most of these chores will need some type of supervision, you will be teaching them the basics from which they will eventually be able to carry out these tasks, and others, on their own. You are giving them a good foundation to get started on the road to organization!
If you need some more tools to get yourself and your family organized, please don't hesitate to contact me. Remember, no matter how young or old you are, you can always learn how to get and stay organized. I can show you how!
Monday, April 14 2014
Do you multi-task? Is it really possible? This subject is constantly debated. Some say yes, it is possible. Some say no.
The truth is, when we think we are multi-tasking, in most instances, we are not. Yes, we might be doing several things at one time, that is true. However, we are not saving any time doing so. We are working on pieces, we are not completely focused on a task and, most importantly, there is no time being saved by doing two, or even three things at a time. It's all about focus. If we take the time to focus on one task at at a time, we will get it done more quickly and more efficiently. That is a fact!
Now, can we use items in our home for various purposes? Sure we can! That's what I call multi-tasking! Here are some examples:
1. ICE CUBE TRAY -
* Gather desk supplies such as thumb tacks and paper clips.
* Organize sewing items such as buttons, beads and hooks.
* Use one in your dresser drawer to organize small earrings or pins.
2. SHOE ORGANIZER WITH POCKETS -
* Store art supplies. A plastic hanging shoe organizer can hold, paints, pens, brushes, glue sticks and stickers.
* Use one on the back of the bathroom closet door to store small soaps, razors, sample bottles of lotions or nail polish.
* Place one in your clothes closet to separate pantyhose or pairs of knee high socks.
3. LAUNDRY BASKET -
* Protect delicate plants during a rain storm or hail storm by turning the basket upside down on top of them and burying the edges in the dirt.
* Gather garden supplies, including a garden hose. Coil the hose and stash your sprinkers, nozzles and other attachments in the middle of the coil.
* Take one to the beach filled with beach toys for the kids. Flip it over to use as a table at lunch time.
Can you think of other ways to multi-task, besides running around doing two or three things at a time? Use your imagination and take another look at what you already have in your home that you can use for other purposes. Be creative!
Share your ideas! I would love to hear from you!
If you are simply overwhelmed with the idea of getting organized, I can help. I can show you creative ways to use what you already have and repurpose them to help you get and stay organized once and for all!
I am just a phone call (or email) away! I would love to hear from you!
Friday, November 01 2013
Most of us have a desire to maintain organization in our homes. We strive to keep our homes de-cluttered and organized on a regular basis. Sometimes that is easier said than done.
Life gets busy. Items enter the home and don't get put where they belong. So, how, you ask, can I keep clutter in my home under control. The answer is having habits and routines that you follow consistently. Here are a few:
1. Make it easy. Complex routines that require more than three steps can be difficult to maintain. Create simple routines that are easy for you to manage. Be sure the system works for your current lifestyle. Sometimes it takes some trial and error to find the right solution. Some examples are to get up 30 minutes earlier to allow time to get things done; keep a donation box inside your closet, sort your mail on a daily basis. These are easy but productive ways to stay uncluttered.
2. Do it regularly. To maintain a clutter-free environment in your home, it requires an ongoing process. This is not "one and done". Add some time to your calendar on a regular basis for a specific amount of time (for example 30 minutes a day and 60 minutes on the weekend) to go through your home and put things away.
3. Do what's right for you. Be sure to incorporate the right strategies and tools that work for you. Don't do something just because it's popular. Use techniques that suit your personality. For example, you can use a notebook or perhaps a digital option to remind you to get things done. There is no right or wrong solution. The best solution is the one that works best for you!
4. Put it away not down. It is best to touch something once instead of over and over again. Put things away the first time instead of just laying them down. This will avoid you having to take additional time to put it away later. This will avoid clutter piling up and you will always know where to find something without having to search for it.
5. A place for everything and everything in it's place. I grew up hearing my grandmother saying this all the time. Be sure to have a home for everything. It is much easier to put things away when you have a place to store them. Put items where you tend to use them.
6. Be selective when making purchases. I always teach my client to purchase with intent. Purchases made without much thought have a greater chance of not being used. Attempt to plan out your purchases before you go to the store or order on line. (This applies to groceries, clothing, toys, etc.) Think about where you are going to put the item when you get home. (Other than the kitchen table.) If you are purchasing a piece of art work for your walls, do you have room on a wall to hang it? Do you already have 8 pair of black pants? Chances are you don't need another pair. The fewer things you have, the less you have to maintain and store!
These habits can sometimes be overwhelming until you can find balance in your home. If you are having some difficulty with this aspect of organizing, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am here to help.
Until next time, happy organizing!
Thursday, September 05 2013
As the Summer ends and Fall begin, this is a time of transition and renewal. It's also time to evaluate where we are in our lives and what we have.
We can all agree that having multiples of certain items in your home (for example, toilet paper) or in your office (pens) are helpful and make sense to have. Since we use these items often, we need to be sure that we can store them in a way that makes it easy to access them.
However, sometimes, multiple items can accumulate and begin to take up valuable space. We want to be sure not to let those items cause us "double vision". They should not get out of control.
Here are five items that you probably have duplicates of:
1. Paper shopping bags. How many have you accumulated from the grocery store? Although they can be useful for various purposes, if you find that they are accumulating, consider donating them to charities that could benefit from them. Some charities bag up meals, clothes, supplies or purchases and are always looking for bag donations. Check with your local charity to see if they are in need of this item.
2. Hotel toiletries. I have talked about this in a previous blog, but I think it is worth repeating. If you are a frequent traveler, chances are you have come home with travel-size toiletry bottles and packets. If you find that you are just collecting them and not using them, you can offer them to overnight guests in a basket in the bathroom, use shower caps as food container covers or donate them to a local shelter. You can even leave them at the hotel and not bring them home at all. Let others make use of them instead.
3. Pens, pencils and markers. I don't know about you but the pens, pencils and sometimes markers seem to multiply in my house. How often do you come home with a pen that you borrowed and forgot to return? I must admit it happens to me from time to time. When my son was in public school, he "acquired" lots of pens and pencils throughout the school term. Don't ask! If you end up with an abundance of pens, pencils or markers, consider donating them instead of holding onto them. It's impossible to use all of them! Donate them to your local school or community center or the Pencil Project.
4. Bedding. When was the last time you went through your linen closet and eliminated the older sets of sheets or blankets that you no longer use? We tend to hold onto more sets than we need. If you change your sheets once a week, you don't need more than two, maybe three sets per bed. The third set might be a set of flannel sheets. Are they stained, torn, or don't fit the beds you currently own? Consider donating them to a local charity if they are in good shape or a local animal shelter. They are always in dire need of bedding.
5. Mugs. Do you bring home mugs from places that you've traveled or received them as a promotional item at an event? They can accumulate in your kitchen cabinet over time. We tend to have our favorites and don't tend to reach for the others. If you find that you have too many, consider donating them to a local charity in your area or to that college student living in a dorm or apartment.
So, are you seeing double in your home? Take a look around and start putting things together that you can donate. You will gain more space for your important items and help others in the process.
If you need assistance in downsizing your possession, feel free to contact me at A Better Space. I am here to help.
Until next time, HAPPY ORGANIZING!
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.
Friday, June 21 2013
Today is the first day of Summer! So exciting! However, with Summer sometimes comes emergency room visits - heat stroke, broken bones, severe cuts, head trauma, etc.
Are you prepared for that trip to the Emergency Room of your local hospital? Here are five things you should have ready to go:
1. Your medications - "It is extremely important to know all of the medications you take, how often you take them, the dosage and when you took them last." according to Barb Taubenberger, RN, director of Emergency Services at Doylestown Hospital. Keep this information in your wallet or purse for easy reference. Usually a small index card will suffice.
2. Your insurance information - In an emergency situation, a hospital will treat you whether you have your insurance card or not but carrying it with you will save you from having to make numerous phone calls afterwards to work out the billing. If you are not currently insured, let the hospital know before you leave so they can connect you with a financial counselor who will help you in making payment arrangements for your bill.
3. Your medical history - Knowing your medical history helps to create a complete overview. If your primary physician is on staff at the hospital or if you have been treated at that particular hospital before, they will be able to pull up your records on the computer. If not, you will be asked about your medical history at triage. Include previous surgeries, allergies or other chronic conditions you have.
4. Your emergency contacts - Have a list of your emergency contacts easily accessible. If you do not have contact information with you, it is a challenge for the staff. Elderly patients, for example, might be transported by ambulance and need a ride home. They might not remember their contact information details of the person who would be driving them home. Creating an emergency contact list and placing it in your wallet or putting it in your cell phone under "ICE" (in case of emergency) is a helpful tool to use.
5. Your discharge instructions - Sometimes, upon discharge, you are not feeling well and might have forgotten the details of your discharge instructions or the fact that you need to transfer your medical records. Some hospitals are equipped with a central phone number to call. Be sure to ask for this information upon discharge.
I certainly hope that you have a safe and healthy Summer, but just in case, this information will help to make the emergency room experience more organized and less stressful.
Have a great week!
Monday, June 03 2013
It's very common to add more to our lives by adding something - a bigger home, more clothing, more decorations, more, more, more...
However, the funny thing is - less is actually more.
Last weekend I decided to declutter and organize my own home. I had been spending so much time helping others get organized, I was neglecting my own space. Over time, things built up and it was time to do something about it.
Being a professional organizer, I know all too well that less is more. When you clear out the clutter in your home and in your head, you clear out the clutter in your life.
Sometimes, our clutter means that we have too many time commitments.
I decided to commit Memorial Day weekend to my own home and did not commit to any social activities. I knew that if I committed this block of time to this project, I would be able to enjoy the rest of the Summer. That was my motivation.
I systematically went through my home, starting on the second floor and moving down to the first floor, one room at a time; just like what I do when working with my clients when they hire me to organize their homes. I cleaned, I decluttered, I organized. I worked 12 hours a day for two days. It was a lot of work, but, oh, it felt so good! During this week, I am going to work on my basement and storage room. Then, my entire home will be organized!
Here are four steps you can take to create more with less:
1. Enlist an "accountability partner". Select someone who is committed to supporting you and perhaps creating change in their own life. This "accountability partner" can be a friend, family member or even a professional organizer like myself to keep you focused and moving forward.
2. Make a list. Break down the various areas of your home that you wish to tackle and create a chronological list so you can check them off as you go and get that wonderful sense of accomplishment at the end. As you think of things you need to do or want to purchase, write them down as well. This will keep you on track.
3. Subtract as you go. Look closely at what you have and eliminate the excess. It could be clothing, paperwork, old linens, pantry food items, etc. Take the time to truly evaluate what you need and will use. Don't create excuses for keeping something you know you will never use.
4. Find the additions. This does not mean that you find more stuff to keep. It means finding the joy in having less. Celebrate your successes by inviting people over to see what you have accomplished. Enjoy your new space and "live" in your home. Your have now created more space for good things to enter your life.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized and need assistance in creating a home you enjoy living in and are ready to eliminate your clutter, once and for all, contact me. I can help you to create a step-by-step system so you can have A Better Space.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Sunday, February 24 2013
Last week I addressed the issue of spousal clutter. I explained the reasons why your spouse, partner or roomate might be causing clutter.
This week I would like to provide you with some routines you and your family can begin to implement to bust through that clutter.
- When you finish reading a magazine or newspaper, process the information and recycle the rest. Did you find a great recipe in your favorite magazine, an article your spouse might enjoy or a coupon for your local store? Pull them out from the magazine or newspaper and immediately recycle the rest. Stacks of magazines or newspapers cause clutter.
- Leave enough room in your coat closet for coats, jackets, boots and accessories. If your coat closet is too full, it's difficult to put things away and retrieve them easily. Clear out the items that do not belong in the closet. Create sufficient room for hangers, the floor and top shelf so that these items don't end up scatttered throughout your home.
- Keep flat surfaces clear. Kitchen counters, bathroom counters, bureaus and tables are all culprits for clutter. Having a home for paperwork is the key to success. Create a system that works and you will avoid flat surface clutter.
- Wash dishes right away. Do not put dishes in the sink after using them. Immediately handwash them and put them in a drain board or load them into the dishwasher. It will take less time than you think to do this. Otherwise, you end up creating a "project" and we just don't have the time for that! Take the time to do this as you go and you will avoid sink clutter.
- Take five and grab ten. It will only take you about five minutes to grab ten articles of clothing from your bedroom closet or drawers that you no longer want or wear and put them in a box for donation or in the trash if they are no longer useable. This will free up space for the clothes you do want to keep. This will avoid clothing clutter.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Let me know which tips you plan to implement. If you need assistance in setting up some systems in your home to make these areas clutter free, let me know. I am here to help.
In the meantime, have a great week!
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!
Saturday, February 09 2013
Wow! January was crazy busy for A Better Space. So many people contacted me to help them get organized. That is why I did not blog in almost a month! I believe we can all find a little time in our day to get organized, right?
If you need to get organized but can't seem to find the time, I have some suggestions for things you can do to at least get started. They only require about 15 minutes a day! I am sure you can carve out 15 minutes out of your day to get some organizing done.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Organize a 15 minute family pick-up. Get everyone involved to go around the house and gather up items that do not belong in that particular room and put them away. (This can be done on a daily basis to keep the clutter under control.)
2. Gather your remote controls for the television and gaming devices in your family room and put them into one basket. If there are similar devices in other rooms, do the same thing.
3. Go through your sock drawer. Gather those single socks, ones that are worn out or no longer worn. Old socks sometimes make great handheld dusters. Only keep a few for this purpose, though. The rest have to go! Pair up the rest and put them away.
4. Match your plastic containers with their lids. Go into your kitchen and gather all of your plastic containers and plastic lids. Put the lids on the containers and get rid of the ones that don't have a matching lid. Reduce the amount that you have if you have too many. With the lids in place, you will never have to find a matching lid again.
5. Do a clothing toss. Go through your closet and quickly eliminate those items you no longer like, you never wear or no longer fit. Donate the items that are still in good condition.
6. Do a medicine cabinet review. Eliminate old or expired medications. Only keep the items you still use. Old medications can be returned to your pharmacist to recycle.
7. Organize your bathroom towels. Go through the linen closet and get rid of the old and worn out towels you no longer use. Only keep enough on hand for one week's use. Too many towels means too much clutter.
8. Check the back of the fridge. You probably have items that have gotten pushed to the back of the refrigerator and are no longer useable. Get rid of them and then organize like items together in the fridge so you can easily find what you need when you need it. Keep leftovers at the front so they get used up first.
There are many other ways to get organized in just 15 minutes. What will you do to get your home organized with just 15 minutes a day? I would love to hear your ideas and we can share them with others.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Friday, November 16 2012
Next week is Thanksgiving and the official start of the holiday shopping season.
Do you want your younger children to understand more about uncluttering and organizing?
I have gathered some suggestions for gifts you can give them that they might enjoy with an underlying theme on uncluttering and organizing:
- Room Enough for Daisy by Debbie Waldman. Little Daisy has so many toys, she wishes for a larger bedroom to accommodate them all. Eventually, her mom convinces her to donate some items to a rummage sale. Cindy Revell’s illustrations are really cute.
- Too Many Toys by David Shannon. David’s books are fantastic, starting with the hilariously relatable “No, David!” Too Many Toys has a similar theme to Room Enough for Daisy, in that David is required to thin his massive collection of toys. It’s a fun story that kids think is funny and adults find useful.
- Mr. Messy, part of the Mr./Mrs. series by Roger Hargreaves, is an untidy fellow until he meets Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy.
- More by I. C. Springman is about a hoarding magpie whose friends teach him the value of “enough.” Again, the illustrations are great and the minimal text is great for new readers.
Do you have any suggestions that you would like to share that go with this theme of child organization tools? Please share by commenting.
If you need assistance in getting the toys and clothing organized for the holidays, don't hesitate to contact me. I am here to help.
Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Wednesday, October 31 2012
Two days ago, the eastern portion of the United States experienced Hurricane Sandy first hand. The devastation is still mind boggling. Some sustained no damage to their homes. (I am one of them.) Some sustained minor damage and some sustained tremendous damage. Many are dealing with flooding in their homes and more are dealing with the loss of power.
When these natural disasters occur, I can't help but think about how being prepared can go a long way in making it easier to deal with the outcome.
I envision homes where clutter is everywhere, things are difficult to locate and when disaster strikes, there is chaos. Imagine having everything laying around in no particular place and having to find things quickly. It's next to impossible. Something as simple as your keys being misplaced can cause a lot of stress in this type of situation.
Things like food, clothing, medications, bedding, pet supplies, cell phone chargers, insurance policies and other important paperwork, etc. need to be easily located and gathered. Simple things such as batteries, flashlights, battery operated radios, non-perishable food, water and blankets are all needed when the power goes out. Sometimes, an evacuation plan is needed.
However, I also envision an organized home. An emergency preparedness plan is in place, essential items are gathered or easily accessible. There is no clutter to contend with and life is that much less stressful.
Clutter and disorganization are very stressful in our normal day to day lives. However, when we are suddenly dealing with a situation such as Hurricane Sandy, clutter is even more stressful.
Are you prepared for when disaster hits? Is your home clutter free and items are easy to locate? If not, you might want to re-evaluate your situation and think about how getting organized can go a long way in dealing with these types of situations.
If you need assistance in eliminating the clutter in your home and in your life, remember that you can have A Better Space. I am just a phone call away and I am here to help.
For those of you contending with the after effects of Hurricane Sandy, please know you are in my thoughts. Be safe.
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!
Thursday, October 04 2012
Clutter and children have a strong correlation. It begins the day they come home from hospital.
How is it that you bring a tiny new human being into your home and with them comes all this stuff!
Toys, clothes, bottles, pacifiers, bed linens, books, stuffed animals, you name it. We have reached material saturation according to a recent study released by the UCLA Center on the everyday lives of families.
The clutter might begin in the closet, basement, attic or drawers but then it spills out onto our table tops, counters and floors. We currently have more visible clutter than ever before in the history of the world! Our children's stuff is at the top of our clutter piles.
Each new child in a household leads to a 30 percent increase in a family's inventory of possessions during just the preschool years alone! There are several reasons for this increase:
1. Parental guilt because of working outside the home;
2. Generous grandparents.
The United States has 3.1 percent of the world's children. However, US families purchase more than 40 percent of the total toys consumed globally on an annual basis. The toys can spill out from their bedrooms and play rooms into living rooms, dining rooms, the kitchen and parents' bedroom.
There is a sense among working parents that they have less time to spend with their children, causing them to shower their kids with toys to compensate for a perceived loss of quality time at home.
Aside from that, other relatives contribute to children's collections of material items. Grandparents alone spent about $500 or more, per child, per year, on toys, clothes, books and other gifts. Due to the high divorce rate in this country, many children end up getting gifts from multiple sets of grandparents. If children divide their time between two households, they tend to have double the amount of possessions, as well.
The influx of objects is relentless. The outflow, not so much. We need to develop rituals and mechanisms for getting rid of stuff.
Here are some solutions:
1. Have grandparents purchase movie tickets, tickets for live events or a favorite restaurant instead of a toy.
2. Review the inventory accumulated every 6 months. Get rid of clothes that no longer fit, toys that no longer work, books that are no longer read, school papers that are no longer needed. (End of the school term, Christmas time are two suggestions.)
3. Have a conversation with other gift givers to come up with creative solutions that do not involve a lot of toys, clothes and other items that are in excess of what is reasonable. Relatives and friends want to give "things" to show how much they love them. They need to understand that their time is more precious than possessions. They need to understand that, although it is appreciated, it is causing clutter in your home.
4. Be selective about the items you purchase for your child. They don't need to have everything. Remember, less is more. Too much can be overwhelming for a child. They tend to play with their favorites anyway.
Take a look around your home and see where the clutter is accumulating and make some changes so you can be clutter free.
If you need some assistance or more ideas for solutions, contact me. I am glad to help.
In the meantime, have a great day!
Tuesday, September 11 2012
As you may or may not know, this professional organizer was blessed with a son who has ADHD. This month is National ADHD Awareness Month so I thought it appropriate to discuss time management. It tends to be one of the bigger issues for adults with ADHD.
My son, now age 21, is notorious for procrastinating. He loves to sleep, usually from 3:00 a.m. until whatever time he needs to get up, either for school or work. The thing is, he waits til the very last minute to get up, grab a shower and run out the door.
Today he has classes from 8:00 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. This morning I suggested, gently of course, that perhaps he take something to eat with him since it will be many hours until he gets home. I suggested quickly grabbing a bagel, so he would at least have something. He is not one to pack a lunch the night before, no matter how many times I recommend this. (Since he is 21, I no longer make lunches for him. Call me a bad mom.) His response was "But...I don't have any time!". Seriously? He didn't have time to open the fridge and grab a bagel, put it in a sandwich bag and head out the door. (He doesn't do breakfast.) I think not!
Here's my theory. We all have 24 hours in a day. It's what we do with them that counts. If he would have just simply woken up 15 minutes earlier, he would have had the time to take his shower and grab that bagel to take with him.
In other words, it does take some preparation and some thought as to what we need to do and how much time we need to do it. Then we prepare accordingly. Waking up 15 minutes earlier could have made such a difference for him.
I am still working with him on this issue, but here is some "food" for thought (no pun intended, well...maybe) for those of you that find that you are running out of time in the morning to get out the door. Simply prepare.
To start, make a list of what you need to do and then estimate how long it will take you to do it. Then add a cushion of time to avoid that last minute rushing around.
Simply by taking some time (of which we all have the same amount) to get organized and create a plan, you will find that you are no longer saying "But...I don't have any time!".
Try it out and let me know how you make out. If you need some addidtional help, let me know. I am here when you are ready.
In the meantime, take some "time" today to remember 9-11-01. I think we can all find a few minutes today to do so.
Wednesday, August 22 2012
If your children have not returned to school yet, they will be shortly. For most in my area, school starts the day after Labor Day. It can be a hectic time if you are not prepared.
Are you ready?
I have gathered some tips to help you prepare for back to school that you might find helpful.
1. Review the kids' wardrobes and have them try on their clothes. Have a fashion show! Make sure to do this before you go shopping for new clothes so you know exactly what you need. Donate or pass down clothing to another child. If you do need new clothing, pay attention to sales to save money.
2. Complete necessary medical forms in time for the return to school. You might need to schedule an appointment with your pediatrician for shots and signatures so allow enough time to do so. If food allergies are a concern, contact you child's teacher to discuss necessary precautions.
3. Finalize arrangements for after-school care which might involve transportation, payment arrangements and scheduling of pick-up. Be sure the provider knows who is permitted to pick up your child at the end of the day.
4. Purchase an alarm clock for those children who have more difficulty getting up that gets progressively louder or put one on the opposite side of the room to get them out of bed to shut it off.
5. Pack lunches the night before to save time in the morning. Plan out lunches a week at a time and have a sturdy lunch box or bag for each child. Purchase fruit snacks and granola bars, for example, in bulk to make sure they are always on hand.
6. Use a family calendar to keep up with the kids' busy schedules. Indicate half days and school holidays for the year. Keep track of extra curricular activities. Check the calendar each evening to be sure you are prepared for the following day.
7. Organize the paperwork. The paper starts coming through the door the first day so be prepared. Create an "in" and "out" bin for processing. Use a bulletin board for important information.
8. Adjust bedtime starting now. Gradually move the kids' bedtime up by about 15 minutes each night so they will be well adjusted when its time for school to start. You want to be sure they get plenty of sleep.
9. Set up a homework station that provides enough space, good lighting and supplies that are needed. Children will be more productive when they have a designated place to do their homework.
10. Finally, enjoy the last of the lazy days of Summer with the kids. This is the time to spend doing things you all enjoy before the hectic school season begins.
What tips would you like to share for getting ready for back to school? Are you ready?
Monday, August 06 2012
We certainly live in a fast-paced world these days, don't we? The stresses associated with work, home and our social lives can leave us feeling overwhelmed and disorganized.
However, a disorganized life is often the culmination of a number of bad habits. And we all know that habits can be changed.
By making a few small changes in how we do things can make dramatic changes in your life from one of chaos to calm.
Here are a few to try. Now remember, it takes about 21 to 30 days to form a habit so give yourself some time to form that new habit. Be patient, but persistent.
1. CHAOS - cleaning the entire home when it is trashed. CALM - cleaning a little bit each day and tidying up each night.
2. CHAOS - dropping your mail on the dining room table and going through it once in a while. CALM - sorting through your mail daily and immediately recycling and shredding the items you don't need.
3. CHAOS - tossing your keys or cell phone on the nearest table or counter, hoping to remember where they are the next time you need them. CALM - having a designated spot for your keys, purse, cell phone, etc. so you don't waste your precious time searching for them.
4. CHAOS - tossing dirty clothes and wet towels on the bathroom or bedroom floor. CALM - immediately putting dirty clothes in the hamper and wet towels on a hook or separate hamper.
5. CHAOS - scrounging around the pantry at 5:00 p.m. wondering what to make for dinner. CALM - planning your means a week at a time so you know what you are making and be confident you have everything that you need.
There are many other ways to turn your chaos into calm. What suggestions do you have? I would love to hear from you.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Thursday, July 05 2012
Although the title of my blog might be evoking cooler temperatures on this steamy July day, I want to talk today about the current state of your home.
How long have you lived in your home? When was the last time you made some changes to the look, feel and functionality of your home? These are important questions to consider. Why? Because we tend to get "frozen in time".
Working in hundreds of homes over the years, I find it a common problem that people live their lives day after day, year after year, without making any changes. It's inevitable that your life has gone through changes since you originally moved into your home. However, has your home kept up with those changes? Have you gotten married, had children, become an empty nester, a widow or widower, gotten divorced? These changes effect your lifestyle and therefore, should be reflected in your home.
Do you have double the items because you have gotten married or become a blended family? Do you now have children you did not have when you bought your home and need to find room for their things? Have the children gotten older and they no longer need or want older toys, games or clothing? Have your grown children moved out (or back home) and you now have a lot more room or a lot less, depending on your circumstances? Are you now divorced or widowed and living alone with the items from your spouses past?
This are major life changes that change your needs and desires for what your home should reflect. It is important to keep up with these changes. Weed out the old to make way for the new. Use certain rooms for new purposes - ie, using a child's old bedroom as a gym or home office. Make sure to use the space you have to its best potential - otherwise it becomes a storage space and not a functional home.
Take some time to walk through your home with a new set of eyes and make sure that it reflects your current situation. If not, make the changes necessary.
If this means eliminating the clutter and getting organized, then do it! If you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized, contact me. I am here to help.
In the meantime, I hope you had a nice July 4th holiday. Keep cool but don't be frozen!
Thursday, May 31 2012
The summer season has unofficially begun with Memorial Day Weekend and the official start is just around the corner. I am thinking that this is perhaps a good time to re-group.
With the start of the new season, the kids will be getting out of school and a more relaxed way of life can begin with the lazy days of Summer. Hopefully this time of year means less schedules to comply with and less structure can mean more relaxation.
This is a good time to consider your priorities and "re-group". Are there projects you have been meaning to get to but because of the craziness of the school term, you haven't found the time to get to them?
Take some time to consider what projects you would like to get off your "to do" list and then create a plan to get them done. Does the school paperwork need to be weeded out? Does the garage need to get organized to allow for Summertime toys (and maybe even that car!)? Does your wardrobe need to be gone through to determine what to keep, toss or donate to make more room in your closet?
I would suggest taking a tour of your home and creating a fresh new list of things to tackle. Walking through your home can provide the clarity you might need to create that list.
If you are in a state of overwhelm and don't know where to begin, contact me. I will be glad to help you "re-group" to get those projects taken care of so you can enjoy the rest of your Summer.
In the meantime, enjoy your week!
Tuesday, April 17 2012
Has your living situation changed recently? Have you decided that you and your significant other should now be living together? Congratulations! It can be a very excited time; the prospect of a new life together. However, it can bring challenges. One of them being blending two people (or families) into one.
I get contacted quite often as a professional organizer by people who have recently married or moved in together and are now struggling with trying to fit two households into one. We all know, we can't keep everything we own and still have room for someone else. It takes compromise, a concept we become so familiar with when in a relationship.
Perhaps it's you who is moving into your partner's home; perhaps your partner is moving in with you. Perhaps you are both moving into a new home together. Just how do we make it all work?
Communication is key. You need to discuss what is going to stay and what is going to go. You cannot expect that one person is to give up everything in order to move into the other person's home. It requires "blended organization".
You might have double the furniture - two bedroom sets, two living room sets, two dining room sets. You have to decide which sets of furniture will stay and which will go. Will they be sold, given to other family members or friends or donated? I discourage using a storage unit long term to solve this problem. It is an expense we don't need to incur if we make some decisions.
You might have multiple sets of pots and pans, dishes, silverware. Which sets will remain, which will go? This kitchen is a very common area in which blended organization comes into play.
You might have lots of artwork, nick knacks, collectibles. Do you have enough room to incorporate all of it? Does some of it need to be eliminated? I find that if someone is that passionate about something, you should do whatever you can to keep the collection in tact, but within reason. If it's a large collection, it just might need to be downsized in order to make it fit into the home. Discuss solutions that work for everyone involved.
My late husband was an avid record collector. We had a wall in our apartment and later in our home that had cabinets filled with record albums and boxes of 45's (all in alphabetical order by artist, by the way!) We agreed that the entire collection would stay in tact and we were able to come up with a solution for storage that did not intrude on our style of daily living. The key is to whether the items will take over the home. Remember, we need to own our possessions, not have our possessions own us.
Are you sharing closet space? If so, it's possible that you might both need to weed out your wardrobe to reduce its contents to make it fit into the designated area.
My wardrobe currently occupies my entire walk-in closet in my master bedroom and spare bedroom. However, I can tell you that if and when someone special comes into my life and we decide to combine our households, I will need to reduce the amount of clothing being stored to make room for that special someone. For now, I have the space to myself and can spread out. We need to live within the space that is provided.
The bottom line is that when you are combining households, you need to be sure to take the time to communicate about how each other's possessions will fit into the living space. It might mean eliminating things altogether or it might mean reducing the amount.
The other factor that comes into play is how each of you function but that is a blog for another day.
If you have questions about how to blend your home to accommodate each other, contact me. I am glad to help.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Monday, April 09 2012
Most people who plan to read through their stacks of old magazines never do, so why keep them?
Everyone has to deal
with general messiness around the house, but clutter can become overwhelming -- judging by the number of TV shows about hoarding! Whatever the level of disorder in your house, solving the problem starts with motivation. The problem isn't the possessions, but us. Once we get our thoughts straight about clutter, stuff has a way of finding its way out the door instead of in.
VISUAL WHITE NOISE
The problem with clutter is like the story of the frog in the soup. The unfortunate frog doesn't notice the temperature being raised a degree at a time until he's frog soup. In our homes, stuff can flow in until we're overloaded. Over time, we stop noticing all the clutter and it becomes visual white noise. Some of this is related to our best intentions. We believe that box of ticket stubs and postcards will make its way into a scrapbook one of these days, or that we'll read through that pile of gourmet magazines and rip out recipes, but somehow this never happens.
THE WAY WE WERE
Clutter often represents a personal history. and we hang on to that history, believing these items represent us. In fact, they merely represent a point in time in our lives. The joy of de-cluttering is the ability to feel unstuck, unburdened and moving forward again. Saving
a few special pieces is understandable, but be selective and only hold onto those items you feel strongly about or will actually use.
Getting a handle on clutter calls for an all-hands-on deck approach. Everyone in the family has to understand the toll that clutter can take on their time, energy and quality of life. Too often, clutter control falls on one person's shoulders, but any mess created by two or more people requires everyone's efforts. That's why getting the whole family involved, including children, is more effective in the long run.
Even small children can help pick out organizers for their toys and sort them into tubs. Older kids can learn the joys of selling their unwanted video games and making some money. There are few better incentives for kids or adults than turning their excess stuff into money.
REDECORATE TO UNCLUTTER
Since de-cluttering is seldom seen as its own reward, a fun redecorating project could just be the ticket to get everyone motivated to spruce things up. In the end, you'll have a new look, better organization and extra space, proving that the secret to clutter is all in how you think about it.
(For more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her Web site, www.redlotusletter.com
Monday, April 02 2012
I have been in business now eight years - hard to believe. In that time I have spoken with thousands of people about getting organized. Whether it is over the phone, by email or in person, everyone says they either want to get organized themselves, or knows of someone.
The truth is, when it comes right down to it, most people are not truly committed to getting organized. They just want a magic wand to be waived over their clutter to make it all just disappear. Sounds nice but, it's not going to happen!
If you are truly committed, you either jump in and do it yourself or reach out for help. This is not something that should be taken lightly. If you want changes to happen, you have to take action.
If you are at the point where you are in a state of overwhelm and just cannot seem to get it done yourself, contact a professional like myself to help you. Take action! Talking about it and then doing nothing about it will get you nowhere.
When you decide to hire a professional organizer, you need to be prepared for the commitment, not only to time but some expense. However, when the job is complete and you can move on with your life, the paybacks cannot even be measured.
Your entire life can change for the better. If you have ever taken the time to read some of the testimonials I have received from clients I have worked with in the past, you can see exactly how life changing it can be.
Do yourself a favor - commit to getting organized and if you need some professional help. Don't be embarrassed or ashamed. Get the help you need. You will be so glad you did. And lastly, when you make that commitment, stick with it. Make it the priority in your life that you so deserve. Don't let "stuff" get in your way of your focus. If it is that important to you, you can always find a way to make it happen. Trust me, I know!
I am here to help if you are ready to commit to getting and staying organized once and for all.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Saturday, March 10 2012
In the early morning hours of this coming Sunday, most of us in the US will "Spring Forward" an hour to begin Daylight Savings Time.
We do lose an hour of sleep and tend to feel it's affects for several days thereafter, but it's also a great time to take on a few quick Spring chores.
- Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. In addidtion to replacing the batteries and testing your alarms, be sure to also check the units' expiration dates. For your family's safety, you want to be sure all of these devices are functioning at their best. If you can't find expiration dates on your alarms and detectors, replace the units every 10 years.
- Recycle batteries. Since you will be removing the old batteries from all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and replacing them with new ones, now is a great time to recycle all of the old batteries you've collected over the past six months as well. Every Best Buy in the United States does. They also accept all kinds of old electronics and some appliances, so check out what services your local store offers and recycle some other clutter while you are at it! (Another option for old electronics and appliances is to list them on Freecycle. Someone will come to you and take them away.)
- Turn on the water. If you shut off the water to all of your exterior water faucets in the Fall, now is the time to turn those faucets back on for Spring. If you might run the risk of another hard freeze this year (doubtful where I live), you might want to wait a little bit longer. If you need to bring out water hoses, now is the time to pull them out of storage.
Although we lose an hour of sleep on Sunday, I love that we get an extra hour of daylight at the end of the day!
What other chores do you like to do when the clocks spring forward? I would love to hear your suggestions.
In the meantime, Happy Daylight Savings Time!
Monday, March 05 2012
Clutter is one thing but when it's not yours, it's something else.
Here's the scenario:
You were always relatively organized. However, you had kids. Everyday you struggled to keep pace with their toys, electronics, paperwork, clothing and the like. Their stuff invaded your home from the moment they were born until the time they grew up and moved out.
And, finally, after all those years, they grew up and moved out. Okay we had to deal with "Empty Nest Syndrome" but, admittedly, a piece of us was thrilled! Yahoo! We finally had our space back and we could again control the environment in which we lived. Right? Wrong.
It is said that when they move out, they never really leave. Is that true in your household?
Two things could have happened. One, they moved back home again. "There's no place like home; there's no place like home", or, two, their stuff moved back home again. How did this happen? You were just getting used to having your own space and the calm that comes with it.
In the first scenario, your kids were so anxious to get out in the world and be in charge of their own destiny. (The grass is always greener on the other side, right?) Instead what happens is they find out they can't afford to make it on their own. This is more common than not these days due to our economy. So they move back home and bring all their stuff with them. (Probably more than what they left with!)
The second scenario is that your kids do move out but cannot afford a large enough space to hold all their stuff. So they turn to you and say, "Mom, can you hold onto a few things for me because I have no place to put them?" How many of us have heard that question?
Now what do we do? We want to help out our kids but still want to maintain the balance in our lives that we were finally able to obtain.
I have one word of advice - "BOUNDARIES". You need to set limits on the space that your returning kids can occupy and the stuff that comes with them. They cannot bring it all back and then some. Just like before, it is a shared space, but this time, they are adults and need to respect your boundaries.
You need to set boundaries on the amount of stuff you are holding onto for your kids who now reside in their own home. They need to learn to live within the space that they have and make choices. You have to and so do they. Remember, your home is not a storage unit!
Whether your kids are returning home to live or using your home to store their items, you need to sit down and talk with them about those boundaries and have them understand that they must be respected.
Spring is a great time of year to evaluate your current living situation. To me, it represents growth and change. It's time to make a change and claim your boundaries.
Until next time...
Monday, February 27 2012
There are so many options available to us these days to help us get and stay organized. I love options because everyone does not function the same way. Some people are auditory, some are visual and some are experiential learners (hands on).
There are several ways to organize your paperwork if you like clear your surfaces (who doesn't) but still be able to see what you have. (Visual). One way is to make use of binder clips!
Here are some examples of how you can use Binder Clips to get and stay organized:
Use them on the back of a door, a cabinet, a bulletin board or a wall. Adding a magnetic hook or push pins to the mix are a good complement.
I like to take a label maker and put labels on the actual clips themselves to give them a specific purpose. You can even color code the binder clips as they come in so many different colors these days. You don't need to stick with black.
A use for color-coded Binder Clips is to use them for various tasks or for each family member. Assign a specific color to each.
You can clip recipes together for the week and hang them on the inside of a cabinet door.
Use a magnetic hook on the side of your fridge to hang the Binder Clip on for a shopping list with coupons.
Use push pins on the front of a shelf to hand the clips.
Hang a Binder Clip inside the door, under the sink in your kitchen or bathroom, to hold your rubber gloves.
Hang magnetic hooks on the side of a filing cabinet near your desk and create binder clips for "hot" action items.
You can also use a bulletin board with a labeled binder clip called "HOT".
If you can't locate your label maker, you can use a binder clip to clip a labeled index card onto the front of a small bin on a shelf.
If letter trays do not work for you to sort your mail, use a Binder Clips that are labeled "Pay", "Action" and "File".
For paper management purposes, Binder Clips create a boundary. They limit the amount of paper work that builds up. It forces you to create a limit as to how long you put off the inevitable. You will need to keep it under control!
As you can see, there are multiple uses for just a simple Binder Clip. Use your imagination! I would love to hear your ideas and we can share them with everyone!
So, get out those binder clips and put them to good use in organizing your home and your life.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Monday, February 20 2012
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the winter has been somewhat mild this year and we might not have had the opportunity to wear those very heavy wool sweaters, our fur lined boots and heavy winter coats.
If you are anything like me, that's quite all right. However, it does not mean that it's not time for that mid-winter check to see what we have used or what we wanted to use but because of the warm temps this year did not get to use.
This is a good time for you to go through those winter-related items and donate the excess to charity. You will free up space in your home and provide others in need with items they can use to make it through the rest of the winter comfortably, by donating them to a local charity.
Take some time to check out the following:
Blankets - Are there blankets in closets or in a cedar chest that you have not used in the past several years?
Sweaters - If you haven't worn certain sweaters by now, will you wear them by the end of the season?
Hats, gloves and scarves - If you have children, do their hats and gloves still fit them? Do you just have too many that have accumulated?
Coats - Just like your sweaters, if you haven't worn that coat this year, are you going to wear them by the end of the season?
Boots - If they are still in good condition, someone in need could use the ones you no longer wear. Are they not comfortable, out of style, not your favorites?
Outdoor recreation items: Have you checked your collection of snow shovels lately? Did you purchase a new one and not get rid of the older one? How about your sleds, toboggans or ski equipment? Don't have them take up additional space in your garage or attic if you are not using them anymore.
Decorations: Is there any holiday or winter decoration you didn't put out this year? You can sell them on Ebay, Craigs List or give them away thru Freecycle. See if any local day care centers can use some of them.
Eliminate the excess by either selling the items, donating them to a charity or giving them away thru Freecycle or to a local entity. Someone else will be glad to have them.
Let's make space for Spring! It will be here before we know it.
Tuesday, February 07 2012
I am always talking about getting organized in your home but have never talked about how to be organized as a pet owner. I think now is a good time.
Ninety-nine percent of my clients own pets - dogs, cats, birds, fish and once, a pot belly pig!
The items in your home relating to your pet need to be organized. You can use baskets, hooks, drawers or any other centralized location to hold the items that need easy accessibility.
You might already know that I am an independent consultant for Clever Container and they have three solutions designed to help organize you and your pup. You can check them out on Page 23 of their 2012 catalog at www.clevercontainer.com.
Another area of organization you should consider is pet information in case of emergency. Have you ever lost your cat or dog? It can be heart wrenching but if you are organized, it can make it a lot easier. Here are some tips:
- Have your pet microchipped and have on file the name of the company, the microchip number and contact information for the company involved. It's like GPS for your pet.
- Know the number of your pet's rabies tag.
- Have updated documentation of your pet's vaccinations and surgeries. (I always incorporate a folder in the filing systems I create for my clients for the pets.) Shelters and vets that take in lost pets will a conduct blood test to identify strays from non-strays. Knowing which vaccines are in your pet's blood and locations of scars can help in identifying your pet.
- Take pictures of your pet at many different angles and of all unique pattern markings. Have these images in digital format. Many states and shelters will post pictures of lost pets online and you will want the pictures to print out fliers.
- Most agencies will only allow you to report a lost pet that has been missing for more than 24 hours. Find out which agencies will take these notices (usually shelters and animal control centers) and have their contact information available.
- You still need to have a collar on your pet with identification, even if your pet lives primarily indoors. Break away collars are best so that your pet doesn't accidentially choke himself/herself.
I hope you never lose one of your pets, but if you do, you will be prepared by having the above information at your finger tips.
Give your pets a big hug (except if they are a fish, I guess) and have a great week!
Thursday, January 19 2012
I don't know about you but I spend a lot of time in my car. I am traveling to and from client consultations, client sessions, networking events, shopping trips for organizing product for my clients, donation drop offs and Clever Container parties for my hostesses. That's just the time I spend in the car for business. I also run errands, attend social events, visit with friends, etc.
I know how important it is to manage your time when you are planning trips and one tip I quickly learned was how to plan out the amount of time I need to get to a new location for the first time. If we have never been there before, how do we know how long it is going to take? I have the solution!
My key to success to insure that I will be on time is to go onto Map Quest. (You can also use Google Maps.) Get directions from your home (or wherever your starting point is) to the location you need to be and determine how many miles the trip is in length. THEN, double that number and it will give you a good idea as to how long it will take you.
For example, if I am visiting a client for the first time and I know that her home is 14 miles away from mine, I double that number and I know it will take approximately 28 minutes (give or take a few minutes) to get there.
Trust me, this works. I have been using this method for more than seven years; from the time I first started my professional organizing business in 2004 to figure out how much time I should allow to get to my appointments. Now I use this method for all trips to places I have not been to before. Keep in mind you might get there just a few minutes early some times depending on traffic but you will not have to worry about being late. You can always cushion it with an extra five minutes if you will be involved in rush hour traffic, but again, this system works well for me. I love it because I have found that my GPS is very inaccurate with judging arrival times because it does not take into account traffic delays. My system does!
We can all use tips to help us with time management and I particularly love this one. Give it a try and let me know how you make out.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Saturday, December 17 2011
A lot of my clients and organizing community are busy moms who work from home. I know that you need all the help you can get. It's a juggling act. I was interested in what Ali Brown has to say about holiday tips for work-at-home moms. I thought I would share:
With the kids around more than usual over the holidays, you might be missing quiet time to get solid work done at home. Most moms I know get too busy to properly plan ahead. But, if you get a little creative, you can set your kids up for a fun, memorable vacation and not miss a beat at work.
Hire holiday help
Remember, K-12 kids aren’t the only ones home for the holidays. Most college students have 3 weeks off and are probably going crazy under their parents’ roofs themselves. (Don’t we all remember those days?) Ask your friends and neighbors if their older children are looking for some extra cash around the holidays to play nanny, so you can still play boss.
Volunteer your kids
During the holidays, soup kitchens and animal shelters are always looking for an extra hand. Appoint an adult chaperone (or two) to take the kids out for a day of kid-friendly volunteer work (For kid-friendly volunteer opportunities, click here.) Not only will it get your kids off the couch, but it also might get them into the spirit of giving in a life-changing way.
Indulge their hobbies
Whether it’s tennis, ballet, reading, or art, sign your kids up for mini-workshops that they can attend during the weekdays. If you can’t find a class in the community, then have a bunch of moms pitch in to hire a private teacher and host group classes in your own home (this method works best if you have a basement you can work in ;)). And don’t forget there are a ton of talented high school and college-level athletes and artists who would be thrilled to teach a group of kids!
Keep a routine
If there’s no way around it and it’s just you and the kids, be sure to set some boundaries so their day doesn’t invade yours. Instead of letting the kids run wild all day long, try to set a schedule for them so they get a mix of exercise, education and rest time. Plan holiday movie time or holiday project fun time, to give you 1.5-hour blocks of time to knock a few things off your to-do list.
Streamline your to-do list
Be honest, if the kids are home, you’re not going to get as much done as you usually would. There’s no reason to beat yourself up and feel like you’ve fallen behind. Instead, write down the top 3 work items that you MUST get done each day and make sure you accomplish them. That way you can shut down your computer feeling right about your day, and focus on all the wonderful time you get to share with your kids!
Don’t forget to indulge your own inner child and join your kids in a few fun holiday projects. That’s the beauty of being a “mom”preneur — you get to decorate gingerbread cookies with your kids in the morning, then work while they giggle to Frosty the Snowman in the background. Could you have a better workday than that?
© 2011 Ali International, LLC
“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com“
Hope you find these tips helpful. Which one did you like the best? I would love to hear from you.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Tuesday, December 06 2011
We can all acknowledge that this time of year can be very stressful. It seems like a whirlwind from Thanksgiving right thru to the end of the year.
I have business goals I want to reach by the end of the year, I prepare for my Thanksgiving feast several days in advance and then head right into decorating, sending out cards and shopping for the holidays. Before you know it, it's New Years Day.
Especially during this time of year, it is very important that we attempt to reduce our stress levels as we have so much to deal with in such a short period of time.
Stress can lead to clutter in our head. When we are stressed out, we tend to not think clearly and then can not visualize the path we need to take in order to get things done.
The best way to help clear the clutter in your head is to write things down. Make a list of all the things you need to get done either on paper or on your Smart Phone or other device that you use to keep track. Then, map out when you will do them and schedule it on your paper calendar or electronic device.
I make a habit of mapping out my "To Do's" on my big wall calendar (even up to a year in advance) and then create a daily "to do" list of things I need to accomplish - putting the most important things at the top of the list.
It is amazing how much you can accomplish when you do this. It tends to keep you more focused on the task at hand. You tend not to get so distracted by other things and, before you know, you can check it off your list.
Do yourself a favor this holiday season and reduce your stress by eliminating the clutter in head. Write it down.
Try this and let me know how you make out. I would love to get your feedback and hear about your experiences.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Tuesday, November 01 2011
When you think of getting organized, do you think it means that you have to "clean up"? Believe it or not, cleaning up and getting organized are two different things.
Cleaning up is more about how something looks. Cleaning up involves putting things away, or at least getting them out of sight. (That can mean different things to different people).
Cleaning up is what you do before your guests arrives.
Cleaning up means straightening up those piles or perhaps putting things into boxes or bags and hiding them away. (We're all sometimes guilty of that!)
Cleaning up can mean gathering up all of those magazines and articles that you have been meaning to get to and putting them into a nice, neat pile. That's not getting organized.
Getting organized is more about how it works or functions; creating systems that meet your specific needs. Organizing really has nothing to do with how it looks, although I still think that is important to create a nice look in a particular space or room in your home.
When you get organized, you decide, honestly, what you will use and how best to store it so that it will be available to you when you want it - quickly and easily.
Organizing is something you do for yourself - not your guests!
Are you ready to do something nice for yourself? Are you ready to get organized, once and for all?
You can! Take that small step and contact me. We can discuss your needs and I can show you how you can have A Better Space.
Monday, October 17 2011
I don't know what has happened lately, but I feel that my list of things to do has become endless. Not only professionally, but personally as well.
Lately I have consolidated bank accounts to make things easier, changed my credit card features to provide me with more "perks", purchased a new car and am transferring my old car to my son, and handling all that goes with these transitions. Not to mention, all of the other things that need to get addressed on a day-to-day basis.
Professionally, I have been working with my clients and accommodating their changing schedules, writing articles, blogs and my newsletter, preparing for various public speaking engagements and taking classes online to provide the best service to more people.
Whew! Many people know how busy I am and wonder how I get it all done.
My key to success is taking all the clutter in my head and writing it down on paper. Then I have my "To Do" list. As my day progresses and new things come across my plate, I write them down on a pad of paper (not a bunch of notes on different pieces of paper). Every evening I evaluate my list and select the items I need to tackle the next day. They go on my "To Do" list for the next day. One by one, I work through my list and VOILA! I get it done. You can do the same thing with an electronic device, if you wish.
I find that writing it all down takes the pressure off of having to remember everything and an itemized list is easy to follow and check off items as I go.
Do you have a bunch of things you need to get accomplished? Do you have a "To Do" list? I would love to hear from you as to how you manage your "To Do" list.
In the meantime, if you are feeling overwhelmed with any type of clutter or organizing issues, please feel free to contact me. I am glad to help.
Have a great week!
Thursday, October 06 2011
Just how do you handle the onslaught of paperwork that comes through your door on a daily basis? Most of us hear the word "paperwork" and think of "work".
Well, it doesn't have to be that way! Trust me!
By creating a "Communication Station" in your home, you will be able to create a zone where all the daily paperwork can gather and have a home while it is active. The keyword here is "Active". This is not a place for old paperwork to gather and accumulate. There are other solutions for that.
The "Communication Station" is intended for kids' permission slips, bills, incoming and outgoing messages, mail and any communication among family members.
There are key pieces to have in place to make this area function as it should.
First, it needs to be in a convenient location in the home (like a kitchen or mudroom).
Second, use either stackable letter trays or wall mounted magazine racks for each member of the family to have their own slot for his or her papers.
Third, a large wall calendar that is color coded for each family member provides a clear view of the schedule for each person. Use it to jot down events that involve multiple family members (such as appointments that require a driver, etc.)
Fourth, a bulletin board (be creative with it if you wish) and use it for flyers, invites, etc. This will provide a clear view of the details for upcoming events or RSVP deadlines. You can add an envelope tacked to the bulletin board to stash coupons, gift certificates or other money-savers you might need to grab on the way out the door. (Be sure to clear the board on a regular basis to avoid clutter build-up.)
Keep a cup or pencil holder on the flat surface in this area for the various colored markers you are using for the calendar. Keep a note pad and pen as well as some post-it notes in this area as well.
Keep a trash can or recycling bin and paper shredder in this area to eliminate the "Junk".
Use letter trays to sort your mail DAILY into various categories for various purposes. Each piece of mail should have a purpose or it is trash!
By utilizing these tips, you can create your own "Communication Station" and eliminate the chaos of paperwork strewn throughout your home. You can have A Better Space.
If you are overwhelmed with the concept of getting organized, whether it be paper or any other type of clutter, let me know. I am more than happy to help.
Submit pictures of your "Communication Station" to provide others with ideas they can use. They might end up in my monthly newsletter "Organizing News You Can Use".
Not getting your issue? You can sign up right on this page!
In the meantime, have a great and organized week!
Monday, September 19 2011
When working with my clients, I find there is always a need for a way to store "memories". We always come across items that are not currently being used but need to be stored away for another day.
Memories can come in many forms and various categories. They can be memories of your child's school years, your childhood, your parents, a close friend or family member who has passed, etc.
For your children's memories, I suggest creating a School Memory Box (one for each child). This can be as simple as a plastic container or a cardboard banker's box. You can divide it up into 12 sections, one for each year from 1st to 12th grade, using accordion hanging folders with tabs in a file folder container. That is even better!
During the school year, file away any artwork, projects, special memories, creative writing and awards in a separate box for that year. Then, at the end of the school year, go through your file box of completed work with your child and pull out the best and most meaningful. File them away in their School Memory Box in the appropriate year. By the end of high school, you'll have a wonderful, handpicked history of your child's development and accomplishments with very little effort.
For other types of memories, a simple plastic container to hold them in is a great way to keep them together and dust free. Put a label on the box for the particular member of the family and store it in the top of their bedroom closet on the shelf. Then, pull it down from time to time and enjoy going down Memory Lane.
Using these methods, you will contain your memories in one container. The container will help you to set boundaries on the amount of memories you keep, as well.
If you need any more assistance with this or any other form of organization, contact me and I will be glad to help.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Tuesday, August 23 2011
I have no idea where the Summer has gone. As it seems to do every year, it flew by and we are now looking at getting the kids back to school, resume our normal routine and put the lazy days of Summer behind us.
The change of seasons is a great time to evaluate and perhaps re-evaluate what we need to do in order to get organized. Sometimes things tend to fall by the wayside (especially during the Summer months).
Perhaps you had a project that you meant to get to this Summer but you never got around to it. It could have been something such as decluttering and organizing the storage room, trimming the hedges, painting a bedroom, evaluating your wardrobe and eliminating items that no longer fit or that you don't like, getting rid of toys your child no longer plays with, organizing the pantry or organizing your desk area where you pay bills.
Before you get too inundated with the responsibilities that the new season will bring, I suggest that you take some time to walk around your home and make a list of things you want to declutter and organize and then get started on that list.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized, let me know and I will be glad to help.
In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your Summer!
Friday, July 29 2011
As someone who wants to keep your home and office organized, it’s your job to immediately identify when things are out of wack and some attention needs to be paid to those places that might be out of place or broken and then fix the situation. There are a few easy ways to do this:
- Create a "Closing Duties" or "Daily Chore Chart". It seems elementary to write out chores and end-of-day assignments, but these lists can be very beneficial for helping you avoid Organizational Demise. Before leaving the office or heading to bed, review your printed list of closing duties or daily chores to make sure all tasks were completed properly. If they weren’t, quickly do the chore or re-do it. Don’t leave work or go to bed with an essential task undone.
- Keep an easily accessible shopping list. Again, this is pretty basic, but having a grocery shopping checklist (such as the U Can Do It Grocery Shopping Checklist) can be a huge help in avoiding Demise. This list needs to be in a place where any of your family can effortlessly add to it (right when they notice something is running out or has broken. A pen or pencil needs to be kept in at this location for convenience. You then take the list with you when you go to the store or run errands.
- Having the right tools. If clothes end up on the floor of your bathroom, then you need to put a hamper in your bathroom. If clothes end up on the floor of your bedroom, you also need a hamper in your bedroom. If you want to shred junk mail by your front door and also shred sensitive documents in your home office, have a shredder by your front door and also a shredder in your office. Having multiples of something isn’t clutter if you actually need multiples of something to stay organized and keep from avoiding Organizational Demise.
Do you have receipts on the top of your bedroom dresser that accumulate? If you empty your pockets and just set the receipts down on the top of the dresser, within a week you can cause Organizational Demise. It’s amazing how something as small as receipts can cause complete disorder, but time and again they can become a culprit.
If, instead, you have the tools necessary to keep these simple types of clutter from accumulating, you will eliminate these problems.
At the end of the day, leave enough time to finish those tasks that can cause Organizational Demise and it will go a long way. Simply processing those little slips of paper, getting your dirty clothes into the hamper and all your other end-of-the day chores completed is the key to success.
So, what is your Organizational Demise? Can I help? Let me know.
Until then, have a great week!
Friday, July 22 2011
It's that time of year when we tend to spend a lot of time in the car. We take the kids back and forth to summer activities, camp, go on vacation, visit friends and family, take day trips. You name it, it involves the car. So let me ask you...
If you had to produce your driver's license, registration and proof of insurance in a hurry, could you? Many of us don't give a lot of thought to controlling clutter in our cars. We spend so much time in our cars and yet we often don't think of it as a place for organizing.
The best place to start is removing the clutter. Depending on the time of year will determine how you tackle it. If the temperature is warm (right now it's broiling hot where I live and you can't even stand to be outside for more than 5 minutes!), it’s not a problem working outdoors. If the temperature is cold, you may want to put everything into boxes and take it indoors.
Once the car is empty, vacuum it out thoroughly, clean all the windows, wipe down the dash and console and clean leather seats. Stores sell cleaner made for upholstered seats as well.
When you begin to sort through the boxed items, sort out the trash and of course, trash it. Then sort through the remaining items. There will be items that won't need to go back into the car and you can put them into a ‘goes somewhere else’ container. These can be put away as part of your cleanup.
Some of your 'return to the car' items can go into the trunk. You will probably need a way to contain them. Standard items generally consist of a small tool kit, jumper cables, a flashlight, and if you live in cold area of the country, emergency supplies like water, high-energy snacks and blankets. These can be contained either in a collapsible open top container or in a container with a lid. This will keep all of your supplies in one neatly contained area in your trunk.
Inside the car, you can contain items to keep them safely stowed, yet accessible. Things like your car’s care manual can go into the glove box or console. A small tissue box can go into the console, along with antibacterial wipes and such. Keep some reusable canvas bags to cart things in and out of the car.
Don't forget to put a little sack or plastic bag in both the front and back seats for trash. You could also store a couple of extra collapsible crates to allow you to carry your groceries into the house in fewer trips.
Don't neglect this important area of your life. It is just as important to organize your car as it is to organize your home.
If you need any assistance, please feel free to contact me.
In the meantime, keep cool and have a great week!
Saturday, July 09 2011
Are you in "disorganization" denial? Let's be honest. We get used to living a certain way and sometimes forget to look around and see what is really going on.
Have you gotten so comfortable in your cluttered environment that you cannot "see the forest through the trees" so to speak?
I think it's time to be honest with yourself. Take a good look around and really see what is going on in your home and in your life.
If you are not sure whether you have clutter and disorganization issues, I recommend that you check out my "Quiz" found on this website [the tab is at the top of this page] to determine whether you might need to get organized. This short quiz can be very helpful in doing so as it triggers in on main issues that you might be experiencing.
It might be time to stop living in denial and start focusing on improving your situation.
Whether you take on the task yourself or reach out to a professional organizer like myself, it's time to do something about it.
No matter how small or large a task you might think it will be, you can do it! If you are feeling too overwhelmed, there is help out there. You just need to ask for it.
Imagine how much better your quality of life will be when you don't have to continue to be stressed out because you can't find things in your home, you are late for appointments or the paperwork is piling up. Putting systems into place that are manageable are the key to your success.
You deserve a better way of living and getting organized can give you that.
So, are you ready to be honest with yourself and admit that you are living in clutter and disorganization? I challenge you to take that first step and admit that you might need to make a change.
Contact me if you do and I will be more than happy to help.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Friday, July 01 2011
Sometimes it can be difficult to motivate others to get and stay organized, especially a loved one.
Perhaps you are working to get organized but you feel that the people you live with are undermining your progress by not helping out.
There are some questions that you can pose to that person to help make decisions about what to keep and what to toss - without starting arguments or passing judgment. Getting organized can sometimes be a sensative subject if it is not approached in a positive way. Remember, the goal is to reframe the discussion away from the item or items themselves, but rather towards its significance in your lives.
Here are some examples of how to refrase the question:
1. Instead of "Why don't you put your tools away?", ask "What is it that you want from this space?"
2. Instead of "Why do we have to keep your grandmother's sewing kit?", ask "Why is it important to you? Does this particular item have meaning?"
3. Instead of "There's no room for all of your stuff in there", say "Let's see how we can share this space so that it works for all of us".
4. Instead of "Why do you have to hold onto these ugly sweaters your dad gave you?", ask "What do these sweaters make you think of or remind you of?"
5. Insteady of saying "I don't understand how you can live with all this junk", ask "How do you feel when you have to spend time in this room?"
Hopefully these suggestions will help you better communicate your message to someone who you live with who has clutter issues.
Let me know how you make out and if you need any assistance, I am here to help.
Have a great holiday weekend!
Thursday, June 09 2011
School is letting out soon, if it hasn't already, the kids are home and the toys are everywhere! What is a mother to do? Get organized, of course!
All those summertime toys can get out of hand if we do not have simple tools in place to keep them under control. A few rules for the kids to follow is helpful as well.
First, I want to go over some simple tips that you can begin to utilize immediately to keep all those toys under control.
1. Limit the number of toys your child owns. This might seem like a no-brainer, but those toys have a way of multiplying before our very eyes. I suggest that you start off by evaluating what your child already has before making any additional purchases. When you have a good handle on what they already have, you will avoid duplicates and lots of toys that are similar. Look to see if any toys are broken or if your child has outgrown them. If you are not sure what they want or don’t want, hide them away for a while and see if they ask for them. If they don’t, consider donating them, if they are still in good condition, to a local charity or selling them at a garage sale. (If you need tips on how to have a successful garage sale, I can help you with that.) This will be helpful when you are trying to decide what type of storage you need for the toys you want to keep, as well.
2. Be selective. When we are in the store, with or without our kids, we see those "bright shiny objects" that we just know our son or daughter has to have. Try to avoid temptation and be more practical. Consider purchasing toys that are most beneficial to your child; that promote imagination and creativity. Make sure your purchase is age appropriate.
3. Don’t buy toys that take up a lot of space and are difficult to store. I know that this can sometimes be a challenge, especially with outdoor toys. They tend to be big, plastic and oddly shaped. I would suggest limiting the amount of items that fall into this category and consider purchasing toys that can be more easily stored. If your child insists on big toys such as a play tunnel or a play house, make sure to purchase the one which can be disassembled easily and stored compactly, if at all possible.
4. Stop giving toys as gifts. It’s their birthday. What is the first thing most people think to get the kid - toys! However, when you get to the point where you have enough, stop! Don’t buy any more! Give your child a gift card for a restaurant or an activity they can enjoy, instead. Also, ask those relatives and friends who want to always supply your kids with toys, to purchase something else instead. I truly believe your child will get more out of spending a day doing a fun activity with you at an amusement park, gym or at the movies. It’s a better alternative than filling your backyard and garage with more toys!
5. Create a system for organizing toys. One of the first things you need to do is review some simple rules with your children when it comes to cleaning up their toys. Although having a good system for storing toys does not guarantee that the toys will not invade various places in your home, regular clean up is necessary to avoid having toys scattered all around the house, inside and out. Train your children to put their toys away.
So now that we know what toys we have, we are now ready to find solutions for putting them away. There are many options available, especially when it comes to outdoor toy storage. Here is a list of options to consider:
1. Bike racks to keep the bikes from laying all over the garage floor;
2. Sports racks to hold basketballs, soccer balls, baseballs, hockey sticks and bats. A good wall mounted sports ball holder can be found at ww.ballclaw.com
3. Deck boxes for larger items. (These can also be used to store outdoor chair cushions and umbrellas as well as pool equipment.)
4. Big plastic toy boxes such as those sold by Little Tykes.
5. Rubbermaid containers with lids.
6. Milk crates or laundry baskets to carry toys as they are being picked up.
7. Pop up net laundry bags to hold small balls and other items.
8. Large trash cans on wheels for larger sports equipment.
9. Back packs to store a swimsuit, towel, sun screen, flip-flops, etc.
10. Labeled bins for the younger children to easily sort their things.
We all know that it can be difficult at times to keep that toy collection under control. Without a good toy storage system in place, the toys will undoubtedly take over. Having a good system in place for storing your toys is one way to ensure that your home and yard are kept organized and you can enjoy spending more time there.
Lastly, enjoy your summer. It goes by quickly!
Friday, May 27 2011
I am about to go away and take a "well deserved" mini vacation this Memorial Day weekend. I have been working almost every day this month and decided to take advantage of the three day weekend and head to the Pocono Mountains of PA.
Even though it is only a "mini vacation", I began several weeks ago compiling a list of things I needed to purchase, things I needed to pack and things I needed to do around the house to prepare.
I cannot imagine getting ready for a trip, large or small, without the use of a list. I have always done this and assumed that everyone else does so too. Not the case.
I am surprised to learn that many people, especially men, do not pack for a trip with a list in hand of what to take. I can only imagine how many times they get to their destination and say to themselves "Oh, I forgot to pack the...."!
When I go away, I like to make sure I have everything I need when I need it. I try my best not to overpack and end up removing about a 1/3 of the items on my list (especially clothing) when it comes to getting it into a suitcase.
By creating a list, you can take some time to think about the items that you need, even down to a pair of scissors and be ready to go when the day arrives.
Do yourself a favor. The next time you take that trip, whether it be a day trip with the family or an extended vacation, make a list and check it twice and you can rest assured that you have what it is you need, when you need it.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend!
Sunday, April 03 2011
Spring has finally sprung! My gorgeous crocus have bloomed and the hyacinth are following shortly.
With the weather slowly getting warmer, it's time to get out of the house - and into the garage. Everything has been stashed in there all winter and it's time to make some sense of it all.
Making use of your driveway as a staging zone is best. Empty everything out of the garage, section by section and consider the following tips for getting it organized:
- Hang your tools from hooks on a pegboard over a work table, using labeled screw top jars or a drawer system for separating out small pieces of hardware.
- Set up shelving around the perimeter of your garage for storing small items - such as car care, gardening supplies, paint, etc.
- Store small gardening items such as gloves, hats, trowels and clippers in a basket with a handle to make it easy to carry them back and forth to the yard.
- Use heavy duty hooks on the ceiling or wall to hang bicycles, sporting equipment and ladders to get them off the floor.
- Keep a mat or low shelf by the door leading into the house for holding muddy shoes to keep dirt from getting tracked inside.
- For the kids (and even adults!), create a zone where all the sports equipment, balls, lawn toys and beach paraphernalia can be stored together. Out of season, they can be stored on racks hanging from the ceiling to create more space for the car.
- Make vehicle maintenance easier by storing your car care products in a large plastic bucket, along with rags, sponges and paper towels.
- Remember to leave enough room on either side of the garage so you can open your car door without bumping into shelving, tools or bicycles. (The garage IS intended to store the car - after all!)
If you need further assistance in getting this or any other area of your home organized, don't hesitate to contact me.
And enjoy your Spring!
Sunday, March 27 2011
With the Spring season underway, many people decide its time to move to a new home. The process can be quite stressful, even when it comes to unpacking once you get there.
Here are some suggestions for getting organized when unpacking your belongings after the move:
If your new place wasn’t cleaned before the previous residents moved out, start the unpacking process by having professional cleaners come in and give the place a good scrubbing. No one wants dust and grime under their belongings in closets, on shelves, and on the floor.
After the cleaning crew is gone, I suggest that you unpack supplies and rooms in this order:
Essential items: Toilet paper, hand and body soap, shower curtain, bath towels, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, paper towels, trash bags, scissors, a change of clothes, vacuum, broom, dustpan, pillows, bed sheets, and pet food and bowls. I suggest packing these things in a clothes hamper and have it packed in the car, not the moving van.
The kitchen. Start by unpacking the food first and then dishwashing supplies, drinking glasses, silverware, plates, pans, and finally everything else.
Assemble beds and put on sheets. You will definitely want to sleep in your bed that very first night. You will probably be exhausted!
Bathrooms. They’re relatively easy to unpack. Just remember, put like things together in your vanity and your linen closet.
Coat closet. This is more of a priority in cooler weather than in warmer weather. You will want to know where your coats and accessories are when you are leaving the house.
Clothes closet and dressers. Set up your closets and dresser as you had them prior, if possible, to make it easy to find what you want because you are familiar with its placement. You can always change it around later.
Laundry room. Dirty clothes tend to pile up quickly when moving. Set up your supplies so you can begin to wash clothes when needed.
Remainder of bedroom. Aside from clothing and bed linens, there are other areas to unpack such as jewelry, nick knacks, art work, end table contents, books for the bookshelves, etc.
Home office. If you have one, just know that hooking up equipment with all of its cords and cables can be stressful, so be prepared to take your time with this step.
Dining room. After putting your office together, you’ll need this low-key room. Set up your dishes and table linens so you can have a nice place to eat after a long day. Celebrate your move by doing something special.
Family room. Setting up the television and all of its peripherals can be just as frustrating as putting together the home office. Expect it will take some time.
Porch or Deck. If you have one, take some time to set up your outdoor furniture to give yourself a breather. Enjoy a glass of lemon aide and take in some fresh air when needed.
The garage, basement, and storage spaces. Save these spaces until late in the process because it might take you weeks to get these the way you want. Just be sure to put the appropriate boxes in these spaces so that when you are ready, everything will be together.
The last thing I would do is hang artwork throughout the entire house. Nothing makes a house more of a home than hanging and placing personal effects around the home.
When you’re unpacking boxes (unpack all the boxes!) be sure to lay all pieces of packing material flat to ensure you don’t miss small items. Also, break boxes down as you go instead of waiting to do them all at once. You can sell them on Craigs List or give them to others who are moving through Free Cycle. Try not to damage them if you can.
Try to wait until you're in the process of unpacking a room to buy any organizing products. You may not need bookshelves, storage bins, etc., once you’re in a space.
Finally, a few weeks after you’re unpacked, evaluate all of your decisions and make any changes as needed or desired.
Do you have any other suggestions? I would love to hear them.
If you need assistance in staging your home, packing up, organizing the move or unpacking in your new home, contact me. I would be glad to help.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Sunday, February 20 2011
You might have noticed that I have not written a blog in a few weeks. Not my intent.
There are a lot of changes happening as I continue to grow my business. Not only am I working on more and more in-home service projects, I am writing more articles (both online and offline in publications), guest blogging, and creating more U Can Do It products.
And, if that wasn't enough, I have recently decided to do more public speaking. I want to let more people know about the benefits of getting organized - how it can save you time, money and reduce stress among others. I felt the best way to do this locally was to create more opportunities for those in my community to get to know me and how I can help them.
As a result, I have created a series of FREE seminars that I am providing along with joint venture partners to provide information on how to get organized.
The first one is called "SPRING INTO ACTION" - How to Organize To Maximize The Sale of Your Home. It takes place in Doylestown, PA on February 25th. For more information and to register, go to http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e3ca5kl0cb9d0498&llr=75dnw9cab
The second one is called "YOUR HOME BASED BUSINESS DOES NOT HAVE TO BE SO TAXING" - The Secrets To Getting Organized and Maximizing Your Tax Benefits. It also takes place in Doylestown, PA. It is scheduled for March 11th. For more information and to register, go to http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e3ele72j8e7d46bf&llr=75dnw9cab
I am speaking to a Mompreneur Group in Horsham, PA on February 28th, a Moms Club in Buckingham, PA on March 16th as well as at a networking event at Bounce U in Horsham, PA on March 24th.
I also have another seminar/workshop in the planning stages with a representative from Tomboy Tools http://www.tomboytools.com where I will be showing women how to organize the garage to make it a space they can use. The garage is not just a "man cave" anymore!
Needless to say, it is quite a balancing act. I use myself as an example of how when things change, you need to change with them. I have had to make changes in my priorities as a result. The things I used to spend more time on that are less important now are now being put more on the back burner.
This is true for anyone and everyone. When there are changes in your life, whether in your control or not, you need to be flexible. You need to take a look at your situation and evalute what is most important and what can be set aside or delegated to someone else. When a system no longer works, it needs to be modified or perhaps recreated altogether.
Perhaps you just moved in with your boyfriend (or girlfriend), got married, had your first child, had your third child, are getting or have gotten divorced, going through empty nest syndrome, widowed, downsizing or relocating. These are major life changes that affect the way you do things.
If you should find that life changes have caused your balance to be thrown for a loop, it's time to figure out what you need to do to get back on track. As a professional organizer, I can help you create the organizing systems that will work for your changing needs.
After all, it is a balancing act!
In the meantime, have a great week!
Sunday, January 16 2011
What are you supposed to do if you are organized and your partner isn't?
This situation is more common than not when it comes to relationships. I get contacted all the time by people who feel that they are neat and organized and their spouse is just the opposite and they are at wits end. Ying and Yang.
Although I find that both parties tend to contribute in some way to the situation, there can be a lot of frustration when you are living with someone who is very disorganized and you are forced to live with it. It has an overwhelming effect on the entire household and your relationship.
I want to help you if you feel you are a mismatched couples. (I don't mean that you aren't meant for each other, but rather, you are in a situation where one is clean and organized and the other is messy and disorganized and, as a result, there tends to be animosity.)
If you’re already in a living arrangement and are disappointed by your partner/roommate’s level of order, you need to have a conversation. Yelling and passive aggressive behavior isn’t productive and damages the relationship. Having a calm, sincere, and respectful conversation has the possibility of yielding powerful results.
It is good to have ground rules for what to do when frustration takes hold. Here are some productive rules you might consider establishing:
No nagging. This is a problem that effects both of you and nagging someone about it will not benefit either one of you. Try to find a reasonable solution that works for both of you. Create a plan.
No backpacking. Set a time limit for how long after something happens that it is discussed (like one week). If you don’t bring up the frustration within that time limit, you have to let it go. You can’t fester or stew on a frustration. Also, if you’ve already discussed something, you can’t bring it up again. The reason it’s called backpacking is because it’s like people carry around another person’s wrongs in a backpack and pull every wrong out of the bag when there is a disagreement. Backpacking isn't fair.
Discuss the real problem. If you’re upset that your wife/husband/partner or roommate repeatedly leaves dirty dishes strewn about the living room, your frustration has very little to do with dirty dishes themselves. You’re upset because you believe they don’t care about the cleanliness level in the living space. So, talk about the real problem and use the dirty dishes as an example of how that lack of caring is being expressed and how it makes you feel.
May times, the person who is messier than the other doesn’t care one bit if his or her living arrangement is disorderly or orderly. When this is the case, and if you’re the one who prefers a more orderly home, prepare to possibly take on the full responsibility for cleaning up after the other person. Do it because you’re the one who gets the sense of joy from an organized space.
If a pair of shoes in the middle of the living room floor annoys you, just move the shoes to a location that doesn’t annoy you. The five seconds it will take you to move the shoes are less than the time you will be angry over the shoes if you don’t move them.
Arrange that you will do this for them if they agree to do something for you that you dislike or don't care that much about. This will make it feel more like you are sharing responsibilities and they are not just falling onto one person. Everyone has their strong suits.
Perhaps the problem is that there aren’t any systems in place to deal with the mess where it happens. For instance, perhaps your husband stores his wallet in a valet in your bedroom. Perhaps you store your purse in a cube near the front door. He puts his wallet in his pocket first thing in the morning and takes it out at night before he goes to bed. You only grab your purse as you are entering and exiting the house.
If your purse was supposed to be stored in a valet in your bedroom, I can guarantee you that it would never be in the bedroom. It would be on the dining room table or living room floor or wherever you happened to have dropped it.
So, a storage cube near your front door is perhaps the best place for your purse because it’s a storage location that works for you. Think about how you live and find solutions that meet your actual needs.
If need be, designate "clean rooms" or "messy rooms" in your home. You can decide that all public spaces are "clean rooms". This would mean that the rooms visitors will see when they come into your house must be free of clutter at all times. (Generally this is the first floor of your home.)
Visitors rarely come upstairs to your second floor, so perhaps the rules can be less stringent. Things can’t be dirty (no food or bug-enticing items), but if objects are left out of order in these spaces, it’s less of an issue. Schedule a once-a-week cleaning for these areas.
Finally, if you’ve tried all of the previous options and nothing is working for you, try seeking outside help. This help can be in the form of a professional organizer or perhaps a couple’s counselor. You want to work with someone who isn’t a part of your relationship and can see it more broadly.
I don’t recommend using a friend or family member for this task. I find that they tend to impose their own agenda (not out of a wanting to help, but, rather, from lack of professional knowledge and experience). Also, how they want you to get organized is not the system that would work best for you.
This situation must be dealt with a mutual agreement between the parties; agreeing that it is something that is important and needed. Otherwise, the one party might feel resentment towards the whole process.
Professional help could also be in the form of a cleaning service coming into the house twice a month. However, most cleaning services will request that the clutter be eliminated so that they can do their job properly. I get contacted many times before a cleaning service is hired. I come in and help eliminate the clutter. After all, they can't clean the floor if they can't find it! Letting someone else handle the deep cleaning will make the light housework is less of a burden.
If you’re a part of a Ying and Yang couple, what effective strategies have you employed? I would love to hear your thoughts and I’m sure that everyone would benefit from reading your positive results in the comments below.
If you are overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized and are living in a "ying and yang" situation, don't hesitate to give me a call. I can help you find the middle ground that will work best for both of you.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Friday, December 31 2010
One of the biggest and most common New Year's resolutions made every year is "I HAVE TO GET ORGANIZED"!!
Disorganization causes arguments, frustration, lost opportunities, embarrassment, stress and much more. You can't find things when you need them and clutter takes over your home. There is always too much to do and not enough time to do it. There's no time left for YOU!
The list of negative results from disorganization is sad and long.
I happen to know a secret - When you are organized you are free to live the kind of life you've always dreamed of, one that is free of clutter and stress, and full of time for the people you love AND all the fun things you want to do.
If one of your New Year's resolutions is to get organized in 2011 and you are ready to live the kind of life you have always dreamed of - one that is free of clutter and stress, then NOW is the time to take that first step.
I am an expert in residential organizing and have been helping others just like you since 2004. I can help you too. Take that first step and contact me. Find out what A Better Space can do for you!
Wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous and ORGANIZED New Year!
Tuesday, December 28 2010
The end of 2010 is only days away. With that in mind, this is a great time to do some tasks to prepare for and be organized in the New Year. Here are some things you can do now to make 2011 more organized:
Reconcile financial accounts. Now is the time to get all of your financial paperwork for the year completed so you’re ready to file your taxes when your forms arrive.
Year-end personal goal and resolution review. Review all you accomplished over the course of the year and create goals and resolutions for 2011.
Back-up all digital data. Even if you do this daily, it’s good to take a final snapshot of the digital year.
Review beneficiary information on all investments and policies. If your family has grown or changed in the last year, now is the time to make sure your beneficiary information is current. Additionally, it’s a good time to do a general review of these investments and policies.
Review systems and routines. Are the systems and routines you follow meeting your family’s and home’s needs? If not, now is a good time to create new practices to implement in the new year.
If one of your goals is to create a budget for the coming year, I invite you to check out my "U Can Do It Budgeting System" in the ABS Store. http://www.4abetterspace.com/abs_store
If you need some help getting more organized and creating some new practices to implement in the coming year, don't hesitate to contact me. I am here to help.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous and organized New Year!
Thursday, December 16 2010
Have you ever heard of the ripple effect? I'm sure you have. Did you ever think about how it might relate to organization? Well, it does!
I picture myself as a small drop in a large body of water. I believe that my purpose is to drop my knowledge, information and value into that large body of water so that it can ripple and touch others' lives. Then, the lives that I touch will pass their knowledge, information and value onto others. That is the ripple effect. I simply do it through organization.
I was speaking on the phone the other night to a new client and she asked if what I would be teaching her in the process of us working together would help her children. Without a doubt, it would.
We start by my teaching not only how to get organized, but, more importantly, how to stay organized. With this newly learned knowledge, understanding and skills, it is easy to pass that information onto the others in your household. You end up teaching them.
Many times, my clients were just simply never taught these skills - it's never too late. I believe that my purpose is to stop the process of disorganization that might have been passed down from generation to generation simply because it was never taught.
With your new found knowledge, you become the teacher and are able to show your children, not only through conversation, but by example, how to control and manage the clutter in their lives.
These skills are so valuable and will carry them through the rest of their lives. That is how the ripple effect works. Are you ready to be that drop in the large body of water? Simply by learning and passing your knowledge on, you will be doing just that!
If you are overwhelmed by the process of getting organized and don't know where to begin, contact me. I will be more than happy to help you create your own ripple effect.
Have a great week!
Saturday, October 16 2010
Does everything in your home "have a home"? Most likely not. The problem that most people run into is not only finding homes for the things they already have, but finding homes for the new things that come in the door.
Where is everything supposed to go?
You cannot expect to have an organized home in which to live if you don't have a place for everything. That old adage still holds true "A place for everything and everything in its place".
Whether it belongs in a drawer, a cabinet, a closet or a specific room, finding designated space for items you possess is vital in order to stay organized.
Group like-things together when storing items so that it's logical and easy to find when needed. Don't keep your toothpaste in the kitchen. Don't keep your snacks in your bedroom. You get the idea.
Once you have created those places to store your existing items, you are now able to bring in new items. (Use the "one in, one out" rule as often as possible to help maintain balance.)
Always remember, when making a purchase, you want to ask yourself "Where am I going to store or place this item?" If you don't have an answer, then now is not the time to make that purchase. Create the space before you buy!
You might be able to afford the item, but if you don't have a home for it, it's not the right time. This is especially true for large items, for example, small appliances in your kitchen, snow blowers or ride-on mowers for your garage or artwork for your walls. Once you figure out where the item will live, you are ready to make that purchase.
I have plenty of suggestions on how to store your "stuff" so if you need some assistance, contact me. I'll be glad to help.
Want more tips on how to get organized, sign up for my free monthly newsletter "Organizing News You Can Use" right on the Home Page. Just look for the newsletter icon on the right.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Sunday, October 03 2010
My first husband passed away more than 13 years ago at the young age of 40 following a battle with cancer. Although no one likes to think about losing a loved one, unfortunately, it is a reality. Fortunately, my husband were able to prepare for that day by getting the pertinent information together that was needed in order to handle his estate.
I recently learned of a website www.about.com that I would like to share with you. I found it to be an extremely helpful site with a set of downloadable PDF files that you can print out to aid in organizing all of the events after a loved one has passed away.
The Death, Dying, and Bereavement Guides include six forms to help plan the events after a death: compare funeral/burial/cremation options, information for writing a eulogy, data needed for an obituary and death notices, and flowers and donations thank you note wording suggestions.
Although it might sometimes be unexpected, I think it is a good idea to fill out the forms that can be filled out while you’re still alive and put them in a safety deposit box or other fireproof location in a folder called "In the Event of My Death". (Please note that safety deposit boxes are sealed upon death until such time as an audit can be done so a fireproof box might be a better option.)
I don’t think it is too zealous to plan ahead for something such as this. If I can spare my loved ones some work following my death, during their bereavement, that will perhaps help them get through the process much easier.
Do yourself and those you love a favor and prepare ahead of time. The site I mentioned above is an easy way to get it all organized.
On a brighter note, I hope you have a great week.
Sunday, September 19 2010
Did you know that people spend, on average, 6 minutes looking for their keys in the morning? That's 180 minutes or 3 hours a month and 2190 minutes or 36.5 hours per year!!! That's insane!
Something so simple can be using up so much of your time. This is just one example of how taking small steps to get organized can save you precious time.
The "key" is to select one location that you will always keep your keys, such as a pocketbook, totebag, hook on the wall, a valet. There are even valets that are charging stations as well so you can keep everything together and your electronic devices charged, all at the same time!
Another step you can take to save time and get organized is to plan ahead the night before. Take some time to select what you are going to wear to work the next day, make a lunch (which can save you time and money!) and put everything you need to take with you by the front door for the next morning.
Just by taking one simple step, you can save over 36 hours a year that you can be spending doing other things instead. Imagine how much time you can save by planning ahead and taking some additional simple steps.
What simple step can you take besides the ones I've mentioned to save you time? What is your "key" to sucess?
For more tips just like these, contact A Better Space and learn time management tools that will streamline your processes and save you time throughout your day.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Sunday, August 22 2010
It's hard to believe the summer is drawing to a close and your children may have already started school or may be starting soon. Start now to develop a routine that keeps everyone on schedule because it takes a few weeks to master. Here are a few ideas to help you streamline the process of getting ready so children make their bus on time with little fuss:
1. Get homework, permission slips, lunch money, and anything else that is needed ready the night before.
2. Wake the kids up 1 hour before school is scheduled to start. This should provide enough time to do all of the morning preparations needed without too much stress.
3. Have the kids dress, brush hair, and brush teeth before they come down for breakfast.
4. For the most productivity in your morning, make a "No-TV-Before-School" rule. Television tends to make children lethargic and irritable when you need them to be focused and agreeable.
5. Have a list of favorite healthy breakfast ideas ready so that little time is spent in trying to decide what they should eat.
6. Make lunches either the night before or while the kids are eating their breakfast.
7. Have a list of healthy lunch options available for easy reference.
8. Set a time for 10 or 15 minutes in order to complete a few chores before school: feed pets, make beds, pick up rooms, etc.
9. Make sure shoes, jackets, and backpacks are easily accessible to children.
10. Start putting on shoes, jackets, and backpacks about 10 minutes prior to the bus arriving.
With these tips in place and practiced daily, you will find that you will be able to get the kids ready and off to school with much less hassle.
Try them and let me know how you make out!
In the meantime, if you are overwhelmed with the process of getting organized, feel free to contact me. I will be more than happy to help.
Enjoy your week!
Thursday, August 05 2010
As you all should know by now, my favorite time of the year is Summer. The problem is that mid-way through, we have to start thinking about "back to school". The stores are all filled with supplies and the sales have begun.
Shopping for school supplies can be chaotic if, as with everything else, you don't have a plan.
Here are some ways you can organize your school shopping experience:
Consolidate Your Lists
When you have several kids to shop for, it's best to consolidated everything you need into one big list. Having a master list can save on time dramatically, which I think is a necessity when shopping with your kids in tow!
Shop For Sales
The school supply circulars are starting to come out in the newspapers, so be on the lookout for the best deals. Since our schools start on August 31st, stock up on supplies now, before the supplies dwindle. I have found in years past that if I wait until school actually starts, the more specific things we need are already gone.
Sort It All Out
While you most certainly don’t have to dump everything out on the floor or a table to get the sorting process started, it can definitely get the kids excited. They tend to love rummaging through the pile of school supplies. It can be exciting. Whether you are a kid or not, there is nothing like a pile of "new stuff". To make sorting easier and to coral all of the school supplies, I suggest using a separate bin for each child. As you check the supplies off of the lists, you can then put them in their designated bins. Now you are ready to put them away until school starts and easily add the few extra things if you need to.
Now that you have all of your school supplies neat and orderly, don’t forget the labels! Every school has different rules for what should be labeled. Make sure you label backpacks, lunchboxes, clothing and outerwear too, especially for the younger ones! After you make the investment on all of that back to school gear, you don’t want it to end up lost!
So, have you started your back to school shopping yet? If not, what are you waiting for?
Hope these tips help you have a more organized "back to school" experience this year! If you need help because you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized, contact me at A Better Space. I will be more than happy to help.
Wednesday, July 21 2010
Last time I talked about what I was doing to get organized. This time, I would like to challenge you to see what you can accomplish.
I thought it would be fun to challenge you to see who can eliminate the most clutter from their homes.
The challenge is about getting rid of one object a day, for … a month? A year? It’s up to you how long you want your challenge to last. I'm calling it "A THING A DAY" or ATAD.
Whether you give away, trash or donate the object is immaterial, but it must be gone from your life and space. Putting it into storage doesn’t count; though you are allowed to, say, collect the things in a box to donate them at the end of the month.
Oh, and you’re also allowed to cheat and fill your quota ahead of time, like throwing out 7 things on Monday, making that a week’s worth of ATAD.
By telling us on here what you got rid of today will not only help with the accountability issues, you’ll also help others rethink their possessions (He got rid of his xyz? Come to think of it, do I really need mine?)
What do you think? Are you up for the challenge?
Wednesday, July 14 2010
A lot of my current clients are away on vacation this week so I have had some time to focus on me. What a phenomenon!
I decided to take this opportunity to "get organized". I know, it's hard to believe that my life is different from everyone else's. As an organizer, it is pre-conceived that my life runs like a well-oiled machine at all times. Why not, I'm organized, right? Well, the fact of the matter is that I also need to work to maintain organization in my home and in my life, just as I teach others to do.
I decided to focus on one floor of my home at a time. Yesterday, I started with the second floor. I not only decluttered, I thoroughly cleaned as well. I eliminated a lot of excess bedding (sheets and pillow cases) from my linen closet and am donating them to a local SPCA. I got rid of a lot of sample products that I had accumulated, including my dentist, who loves to give me dental floss every time I visit! I went through my closet and eliminated clothing I hadn't worn in a while and no longer wanted. I eliminated paperwork that had accumulated in accordian files in my master bedroom and relocated it to where it should be stored - in my home office.
I dusted and vacuumed and gathered a lot of items from this floor and am making a large donation to a local non-profit thrift store today. I even ordered parts for my washing machine so I can make the minor repairs myself. I feel good about what I have accomplished so far and am looking forward to working on the first floor of my home today and tomorrow.
There is not a lot to do on these floors but I want to block out a specific amount of time each day to work on a portion of it. The sense of accomplishment I am already feeling is motivating me to do more.
My largest project is the basement. It encompasses a family room, home office and storage room. It will take quite some time to go through what has accumulated, especially in the storage room. It's not unorganized, just cluttered. I plan to take the entire month of August, in between working, to focus on this area. I am going to break this down into manageable pieces so I can focus on one section at a time.
By September, I will have decluttered my entire home. Now that's a plan!
So, just so you understand, even professional organizers need to declutter and get organized at times. I make sure the day-to-day stuff is still always maintained. Sometimes, however, the other stuff needs to be gone through and decluttered as well.
I am never too busy to help those in need, so if you need me to help you get motivated to declutter and get organized, contact me. I am here for you.
Enjoy your week! I'm enjoying mine!
Thursday, June 24 2010
As a professional organizer, I occasionally have clients who not only have clutter in their home, but also have additional clutter issues off-site - in their storage unit.
There are many reasons that someone might decide to rent additional storage space to store their items - but is it a good idea?
Some of the reasons I hear are that they ran out of room in their house (a sure sign that they have too much!) or that they inherited items from family members and have no place to put them or they intend the use the items "some day".
If you need to rent additional space in order to store your items, this is a red flag that you just have too much stuff. Downsize all those Christmas decorations, reduce the amount of furniture you have, eliminate the excess clothing to avoid seasonal trips to your storage unit. As a rule, you should be able to fit your possessions in the space in which you live. If not, it needs to go.
Some of you might have inherited furniture, antiques, etc. from a family member that recently passed away. You need to evaluate what you have inherited and make a decision as to whether you can make use of the item in your home or whether it can be either given to someone else or sold. If you have no use for the item and are only keeping it because you think you "have to", that is not a good enough reason. Don't keep items in storage out of guilt. When the item is passed onto you, it becomes your decision as to what you do with it. If using it in your home is not an option, pass it on to someone else who can use it.
If you are storing items at an off-site storage facility because you "might use them some day", that is not a good enough reason to keep them. Chances are, that "some day" will never come. You need to live in the moment and use what you have in the present, not plan for that "some day".
If these reasons have not convinced you, take a moment and consider how much money you are spending each year to store your items off-site at a storage facility. Couldn't that money be put to better use?
Storing items off-site does not eliminate the clutter issues you have. You are just relocating them elsewhere and not dealing with them. If you end up storing them long enough, they will become someone else's burden to bear and that's not fair to them, is it?
I would suggest taking a trip to your storage facility and bring your critical eye with you. Look at the contents in the space and determine whether the items in the space can be used in your home now. If not, sell them, donate them, give them to another family member or a friend and get rid of that storage unit once and for all. Then, take the money you will be saving and go do something nice for yourself - TODAY!
Remember, "out of sight, out of mind" is very common when it comes to off-site storage. Don't let that happen to you!
If you have any questions about how to get organized or are just too overwhelmed and don't know where to begin, don't hesitate to contact A Better Space. I am more than happy to help!
In the meantime, enjoy your week!
Saturday, June 12 2010
My fondest memories of summer when I was a kid was going to summer camp. I loved it! Making new friends and doing lots of activities during the day in a structured environment suited me perfectly. I got emotionally attached to my camp counselors every year and cried on the last day of camp every single time!
I went to day camp, Girl Scout camp and overnight camp until I got too old to go.
This is the time of year when school is drawing to a close and you might be sending your kids off the camp. Whether it's day camp or overnight camp, it takes some preparation.
Are you ready for Summer Camp?
I found some tips from the American Camp Association that might help you out.
Plan Ahead - Your happy camper will be living out of a duffel bag, trunk or suitcase for the duration of their camping experience. If you pack light, it will be easier for your camper to keep track of their items and helps them handle their own luggage at camp.
Review Camp Packing Lists - Each camp should provide a recommended camp packing list, complete with any equipment they require, including recommended footwear, etc. Carefully review that is needed and pay special attention to the items that are not permitted. Before packing your child's favor hand held gaming system, make sure the camp permits electronic items. Many do not. If you're not sure, speak with the camp director to get clarity.
Label Everything - You can use laundry pens, iron-ons and press-and-stick labels to distinquish your child's items from other campers. Most camps ask that you label each and every item, including clothing, personal items and toiletries. Make sure your child knows where the label is located on these items.
Break In Shoes and Boots Before Camp Begins - If you are purchasing new sneakers, boots or any other type of shoes for camp, make sure they wear them at least once before they pack them to be sure they will be comfortable. The last thing your child wants to do is have to sit out on an activity because they new hiking boots make their feet sore.
Prepare Together - Make sure your camper knows what is being packed and where so they can find what they need when they need it.
If you have a specific question, don't hesitate to contact your camp director. They are there to help you and your camper prepare for an exciting and fun experience.
If you have any questions about how to get organized or are too overwhelmed and don't know where to begin, don't hesitate to contact me. I am more than happy to help!
Have a great week!
Sunday, May 30 2010
Do you know "How Long Is Too Long?" when it comes to keeping something?
This past week, I was working with a client who had bought a new home and was transporting all of his worldly possessions from one home to another.
First, the job was a lot larger of a task because no sorting was done ahead of time. Everything went with him to the new home. He put off the task and decided to just do it when he got to his new home. (There is lots of extra time and effort and expense involved in taking this route.)
Second, a lot of the boxes that were being transported had been stored in the garage for the past 15 years!
When it came time to sort through all the boxes, it was not surprising to me to find that he didn't actually want 90 percent of it. He had moved it to the new home for nothing. A lot of the items were in very poor condition, dated and not useable.
The lesson learned here is two-fold:
One, don't move to the new home without first going through everything that you intend to move to make sure you still want to take it with you and...
Two, procrastination can cost you time, effort and expense. It takes a lot more time to haul the items, it takes longer to unpack the items and sort through them then just not packing them to begin with, and it costs more to move them when you have to pay a moving company to move excess items that you will end up getting rid of anyway.
Do yourself a favor. When it comes to moving, do the work ahead of time by sorting through your items, putting like-items together and labeling the boxes clearly so you know what room they should be placed in your new home.
Finally, holding items in boxes that you don't open for 15 years clearly states that you just don't need them. You didn't miss them all that time, you won't miss them now!
If you are moving to a new location, do it in an organized manner to save yourself that time, energy and money. If you are overwhelmed with that prospect, feel free to contact A Better Space to get some help.
In the meantime, have a great Memorial Day weekend.
Sunday, May 23 2010
Being a professional organizer sometimes comes with high expectations from others. I don't mean the quality of my work - I mean the perception people tend to have that I live in a "perfectly organized world".
It's funny to watch people come to my home and look around with eyes wide open, looking to see how a professional organizer lives.
I always feel that I have to explain that I am human too and that I do not live in a completely organized home at all times. Life gets in my way too! However, I do know the things it takes to keep a home manageable and comfortable. And that is all I expect from my clients as well. I never expect them to be "perfect", just organized in a way that works best for them and comfortable in their home so they can enjoy it.
You can create your own definition of what living organized is about! In general, I think you would agree that it should:
- Allow you to find what you need when you need it & have the ability to store it quickly and easily without frustrating you.
- Work for everyone who needs to use it.
- Ease your stress.
- Free up time for the things & people you love.
- Keep things simple…
And, finally, what it doesn’t have to be is PERFECT!
So, relax. I can help you to declutter and get organized if it is just too overwhelming for you. Bottom line, I want you to enjoy your home, not have a "perfect" home! Contact me if you need me.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Wednesday, December 23 2009
I am so excited about my upcoming coaching program for busy moms. This past year I have been focusing my business on helping busy moms and women entrepreneurs learn how to get and stay organized.
Not ony have I been busy writing newsletters, blogs and articles on the subject of getting organized, I have produced a line of products called U Can Do It which were specially created to help busy moms.
Now, I am pleased to announce that I have put together an exciting, new coaching program called "Living A More Organized Life".
With this quarterly group coaching program which meets by phone, busy moms will learn how to follow a proven step-by-step method to tackle and accomplish any project, be prepared for every special event, plan vacations and family time, make back to school a breeze and learn how to relax and enjoy the holiday season by having step-by-step ways to do gift-giving, decorating, large family dinners/parties and having overnight guests feel right at home.
This program begins on January 12, 2010 and then continues in April, July and October.
I am highly suggesting that busy moms not miss out on this opportunity to learn how to live a more organized life. If you or someone you know is a busy mom, don't pass this up. I only have 40 slots available and it will be filling up quickly.
For more information about this program, visit my special information page at www.4abetterspace.com/coaching.
In the meantime, have a very Merry Christmas!
Friday, December 18 2009
‘Twas the week before Christmas when all through our house,
There was clutter and chaos…but, thankfully, no mouse!
The mantle was bare, the wreath still in my car,
Not a cookie was baked, not even a bar.
I’d addressed not a card, not a gift had been wrapped,
The jet lag had got me, I just wanted to nap!
One tree was half decorated, the other not bought,
The stockings still packed and the Village was naught.
Ornaments and tissue paper were strewn all about,
I was tempted to say, ‘We’ll just do without!’
But our children and grandchildren will be here next week,
And I know it’s a peaceful, joyful holiday they seek.
So rally I must, this is really a test,
Can I do it? Can I make this Christmas one of the best?
I’ll put on some music, brew some tea, make a list,
I’ll do what I can, the rest won’t be missed.
That we have our health and our loved ones are near,
Is all that we need for our holiday cheer!
SO, LET'S GET ORGANIZED NEXT YEAR!!!!
For now, five strategies for surviving the next seven days:
Lower expectations. There’s not time to do everything but there’s time to do the important things. Even Martha Stewart would have to make choices with this limited amount of time. The trees will be decorated but the lights and the beads do not have to be perfect; perhaps there will not be so many ornaments as in years past. I’ll bake some cookies, but just enough for us to enjoy.
Plan menus to do double duty. The ham and the turkey will do their work for main meals and then appear again as sandwiches, Turkey Curry, and a couple of luscious soups that’ll grow like Topsy when I add some noodles or beans with vegetables. I’ll also make one trip to the store just to stock up on paper goods, dish soap and laundry soap. This is not the time to run out of those staples.
Do things in chunks of time. Instead of racing from one project to the next, I’ll spend one afternoon decorating the dining room, one decorating the living room. I’ll spend one evening baking cookies, another addressing envelopes and yet another doing the layout for the Christmas letter. In those chunks of time, the biggest projects…those that I deem most important…will be done.
Buy some time. There’s just not time to clean the entire house so I’ll hire someone to do the main areas and leave the rest. Clean beds and clean bathrooms top my list. The rest is just fine.
Take care of myself. The best gift I can give my family is to be relaxed and just enjoy this holiday with them. My mood will set the tone for the entire celebration. I’ll get some rest, a bit of exercise, and give myself permission not to be perfect.
No matter how much or how little I do, December 25th will be here next week. I can choose to be stressed or I can relax and enjoy the season. I choose the latter.
It’s truly the best time of the year. May you all have a blessed holiday with your family and friends!
Contact me if you want to make your holiday season a bit easier next year! I can help.
Sunday, December 13 2009
Not that long ago, I had a client whose husband had a multitude of health issues and had to see multiple specialists at various locations. They were constantly being asked to produce his medical history and medications which changed all the time.
We developed a log of each and every doctor visit and the outcome of that visit on in a Word document on her computer so that she could print it out each time they had a doctor's appointment.
Her husband's medications and dosage schedule were printed onto Avery business cards. (Both sides can be used). As these are the same size as credit cards, my clients could easily carry copies in their wallets with their health insurance card. Now, when asked about medications by a health professional, they simply hand over one of these business cards.
As changes are made to the medication list, the template we created can be modified and reprinted. This only takes a minute and my clients are easily up-to-date again.
This system works well for everyone, but especially those that are chronically ill and the elderly whose medical picture can change quite rapidly.
If you need assistance with getting your home and your life organized, don't hesitate to contact A BETTER SPACE. I will be more than happy to help.
Have a great week!
Sunday, October 18 2009
I am currently working with a client who has discovered that she has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). She is working with me to learn how to create a system for getting and staying organized.
One of the things I suggested she do on a daily basis, when I am not physically there with her to coach her, is to simply take just 5 minutes a day to focus on one area of her home and declutter it by putting things away. Basically, straightening up.
Granted, things need to have a home to begin with so that they can be put away. That is what I am working on with her during our sessions. However, in the meantime, she has taken my advice and has begun practicing this ritual. To her surprise, she has found that just those 5 minutes a day can really make a difference. Sometimes, she is feeling so productive, she takes more than just 5 minutes, but the 5 minutes is the minimum.
Consistency is the key to success and if you just commit that short amount of time each and every day, you will find that you can keep it under control. If there are other family members, get them to do the same thing with a particular area of the home. Just having each of them put things away for about 5 minutes a day can add up to a lot of decluttering in one day!
Give it a try and let me know how you make out.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized, simply contact A BETTER SPACE. I will be more than happy to help.
Enjoy your week!
Saturday, September 12 2009
Everyone at times feels overwhelmed. Whether it's keeping up with the housework, running the kids to various activities, dealing with a sick family member, or getting organized, we all need some help. All you have to do is ask.
My first wake up call was when my first husband was diagnosed with cancer and was terminally ill. I did my best to do it all myself, but quickly found it was impossible. Reluctantly, I reached out to friends and family to ask for help with caring for my 6 year old son and helping me to care for my husband. I quickly realized those that cared about me were more than willing to lend a hand during this most difficult time in my life.
It's not a bad thing to reach out to others when it's all too much to deal with. We can find lots of excuses not to but don't let these excuses stop you from getting the help that you need:
- What if they say "No"? - Don't take it personally. Give the person credit for being honest with you. They might be feeling overwhelmed in their life too. Just find someone else. Don't let that stop you from asking; it's worth the risk to save your sanity.
- I don't want to owe anyone. - Believe it or not, most people do not expect, or even want, a favor in return when they offer their support. They just want to be able to help out, trusting that when they are in need, the favor would be returned. A simple "Thank You" will do.
- It's faster to do it myself. - You may think this is true, but most times, it's not. If you add up all the little tasks, you will discover that it could take a long list of never-ending to-do's. You could be spending that time doing something that you are more efficient at and, therefore, be more productive.
- I don't want to be a burden. - People generally want to help out. It's a chance for them to show you that they care about you. They will not look at it as you being a burden unless you over do it. If you are reasonable in your requests for help, you will get what you need.
- I can handle it on my own. - Don't be a martyr. No one can do it all. Don't let false pride rob you of the chance to enjoy life. Learning to delegate to others will free up more of your time and let others show off their talents too. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Together we can conquer whatever comes our way!
If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out for help. It's there for the taking. And when the time is right, you can always return the favor.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with your clutter, reach out to me for help. Simply contact me at A BETTER SPACE. I will be more than happy to help. Just ask.
Wishing you an organized week!
Sunday, August 30 2009
Life is complicated enough.
I have found that people tend to make their schedules and tasks much more difficult than they have to be. While there are hundreds of things you can do to organize your life, I believe these seven tips alone can help.
1. Simplify your morning routine. Take a shower and select what you are going to wear the night before. Go for a more natural look and use less cosmetics to save time. Get an simple hairstyle that requires very little work and is easy to maintain. Set the breakfast table the night before. Wake up a little bit earlier so you can feed the kids, walk the dog and/or have a cup of coffee without the need to race to work.
2. Simplify your schedule. Stop doing the activities that you are no longer interested in doing. Delegate. Consolidate your errands to save time. Pad each errand, appointment or task by about 15 minutes and you will stop rushing from one thing to the next. Don't fill your calendar to the max. Leave some time open for fun and relaxation in between your work-related or chore-related tasks. Stop saying "yes" to everyone and everything. Learn to say "no" sometimes!
3. Simplify your processes. Is it taking too long to accomplish certain things? If so, take a look at those tasks. For example, if it's taking you an hour to balance your checkbook, you might want to consider using a computer software program to manage your money instead. Are you tired of waiting in line at the post office for postage? Consider ordering it online. If it's taking you forever to file your paperwork, perhaps it's time to revamp your filing system. It just might not be the best system for you.
4. Simplify your possessions. Remember, when it comes to possessions, quality is more important that quantity. It's better to have a few very nice things than tons of not-so-nice things. Do you have more shirts than will fit in your drawer or closet? Do you really need that many? Donate clothes you never wear and you'll be helping someone less fortunate while simplifying your wardrobe. Weed out your kitchen cupboards. Reduce the amount of plastic containers. Get rid of the small appliances or cooking utensils you no longer use. Have a yard sale. Before you go shopping, get rid of something you no longer need. Use the "one in, one out" rule. If your kids are off on their own, you may even want to simplify and downsize to a smaller house. Remember, less is more!
5. Simplify your finances. Consolidate your credit cards. Most people can get by just fine with just one or two major ones. And, don't spend beyond your means! In fact, if your credit card bills run very high each month, consider paying for purchases in cash instead. Pay your bills online whenever you can. Balance your checkbook each month, so you don't fall way behind. Set up a monthly spending budget and stick to it so you don't go overboard with purchases each month.
Do you want an EASY way to budget your money? Are you tired of those complex systems that you can't maintain from month to month? If so, the U Can Do It Budgeting System is for you. You will be able to download this e-book onto your computer within minutes and be ready to create your own personal budget in less than one hour! Simply go to the Budgeting System tab right on this website and download it today!
6. Simplify your cleaning. Clean as you go, and you'll never have to deep clean. Rinse dirty dishes and put them in the dishwasher immediately after each meal so you don't have big pile-ups in the sink. (Remind your family of this rule, as well.) Use only one or two cleaning products to clean your entire house--you don't need ten! Create a cleaning schedule. You may choose to do a chore each day, such as vacuuming on Mondays, dusting on Tuesdays, etc. Or, you may prefer choosing a room a day, such as kitchen on Mondays, bathrooms on Tuesdays, etc. Divide up the cleaning duties among each member of your household. If your budget will allow, get a cleaning person to come in and clean once a week, or once every few weeks.
7. Simplify your meal planning. Choose one day each week (include your family, if you'd like)to decide what you will have for dinner the next seven nights. Write those meals down and make a grocery list of the items you need to purchase to make match those meals.
STAY TUNED - THE U CAN DO IT GROCERY SHOPPING LIST is being launched in September 2009!
This is much easier than worrying about what you're going to make for dinner each day. Choose meals that take less than 30 minutes to prepare and cook. Make double, so you only have to cook every other night! Learn how to use a slow cooker so dinner is ready to eat when you get home from work.
Please keep in mind that with any plan, maintenance is the key. By utilizing these tips regularly, I guarantee you will have A BETTER SPACE.
If you need further assistance with this or any other organizational issue, please contact me at A BETTER SPACE. I will be more than happy to help.
Enjoy the last days of August!
Sunday, August 02 2009
It seems like yesterday we were getting ready for the Summer season. The time is flying by but you still have time to organize the time that remains.
Summer is my favorite season of the year. I love the warm summer days, outdoor activities, the fact that the sun doesn't set until about 8:30 and the natural beauty of my backyard on a quiet summer evening. It is a wonderfully lazy time of year.
However, it doesn't mean we can't be productive at the same time. Here are a few examples to help you organize so you can chill out this summer:
1. Plan your dinner first thing in the morning. Make it a crock pot or grill meal. Defrost your meat in the refrigerator overnight. Get your veggies washed and ready early in the morning. Plan your dessert --something cool and fresh. For example, fruit, pudding, Jell-O, or a simple scoop of ice cream or sherbert.
2. Pre-cook or pick up a rotisserie chicken. Use the chicken for a dinner or lunch during the week. It's quick and delicious!
3. Do the laundry in the morning. Before the heat of the day sets in, you will be done. If you can, hang clothes outside to air dry. There's nothing like the smell of freshly aired sheets on a bed.
4. Use bath towels a couple of times before washing them. Have each person hold on to their towel for a couple of uses if possible. Designate a different color for each family member. Put hooks on the back of bathroom doors to hang them to dry. If the kids are in the pool, have them put their towels over the railings or a portable drying rack to dry, and use them again. Less laundry in the summer is great.
5. If you are planning a trip to the beach, have everything packed up and in the car the night before--including non-perishable foods. If possible have all the perishable foods prepped and ready to grab from the refrigerator and placed in your cooler before you leave. This will save the last minute hassle of loading up the car in the morning so you can get to the beach earlier!
6. Plan some short distance or local places to visit. Visit an amusement park, a museum, or public park. Pretend you are visiting a new city and look at it with "new eyes", even if you have been there before. Exhibits change often, or perhaps they are a favorite exhibit that you enjoy seeing over and over again.
7. Have a picnic dinner one evening each week. Sit outside and have sandwiches--perhaps the kids can help prepare them. Serve quick-to-prepare items like fruit salad or pre-made potato salad from your grocer. Be creative! If the weather doesn't cooperate, throw a big blanket on the floor and have a picnic in the family room or living room! It is the "being together" that is important.
8. Store some home decorations away for the summer. The house will feel more roomy for the summer. There will be less to dust and clean; more time to play!
9. Plan on doing yard work either early in the morning or in the evening to avoid working in the heat of the day. Also, it's best to water your plants at these times of the day. If it is hot, remember to drink a lot of water to keep hydrated. Don't forget your sunscreen before going out in the sun!
10. Enjoy not having plans a few of days a week. Sleep later and just enjoy the day, read, or work on crafts. When you make your schedule for the week, leave a day or two open to just relax and enjoy without making concrete plans.
11. Have the kids' clothes laid out the night before going somewhere. Avoid running late in the morning, and get on the road to your destination on time so you can take advantage of the full day.
12. Have a movie marathon. Make a simple meal that includes finger foods, make some popcorn and sit in the family room and watch movies together. Have each person suggest a movie and then you can all decide on the ones to rent.
13. Each week, exchange a meal. Cook a double-size meal for your family and give half of that meal to a neighbor. Then your neighbor does the same for you. Do a pot luck in the backyard with some friends and neighbors and enjoy those great summer evenings together.
By using some or all of these suggestions, you will be able to relax and enjoy the lazy days of summer - before the kids go back to school and the crazy routines start up again!
In the meantime, if you have any organizing questions or problems you would like me to address, send me an email at email@example.com and I will be glad to help.
Enjoy the rest of your Summer!
Tuesday, January 22 2008
This past week I was asked by a current client of mine to help get her relatively new blended family better organized around the house. Anyone who has a blended family knows how difficult this can be.
So I put on my "Super Nanny" hat and went to her home and conducted a family meeting to get everyone involved and provide the parents with some guideline to use in setting up a Weekly Responsibility Chart, not only for their five children but the parents as well. We discussed how to create a Reward Chart so the children would be able to see on a weekly basis how they are progressing towards their rewards. We decided that both charts would be prominently displayed in a corner of their kitchen. The goal here is to create an atmosphere where the entire family functions as a unit.
The parents will now get together with each child one-on-one and together they will discuss which chores they will be responsible for on a weekly basis and how the reward system will work. The parents will also have their responsibilities listed on the chart. It is important for the children to see that the parents have responsibilities as well and what they are.
While there are thousands of tips that families can use to get and stay organized, here are some Quick Tips for A Better Space that any family can use to get started on the right path:
1. Hold Family Meetings
One of the best ways to keep the communication flowing with your immediate family members is to hold weekly family meetings. Set aside one day each week to sit around the table with everyone to discuss upcoming plans, fill in the family calendar, review upcoming family vacations, decide on weekly meals, address school issues, etc. Make this mandatory, even if your kids sigh at the thought. Keep it positive. Try to keep the meeting under 30 minutes.
2. Give Everyone Things To Do
The household chores and errands should never fall on one single household member's shoulders. Most often they fall on Mom. Make a list of everything that needs to be done each week. Then assign tasks among all of the family members. And remember, even toddlers can help in one way or another. The responsibilities assigned should be age appropriate. It's best to teach family responsibilities from a young age.
3. Get On The Same Page With Your Spouse
Children need consistency. If you're always telling your kids to pick up after themselves, and your spouse lets things slide and either picks up after the kids or doesn’t even pick up after themselves, then your kids are going to get mixed messages. When husbands and wives make rules that they both agree upon, then the kids must adhere to them also. You will find that there will be much less resistance and frustration this way.
4. Make It Rewarding
If there's never a reward for doing something, what's the fun in that? Some families give kids allowances for doing their chores. Other families clean and organize together and then celebrate with a pizza party or a movie when everything is complete.
Younger children are generally thrilled to build up "stars" or "stickers" for jobs well done. They can then turn them in for prizes, like helping Mom bake cookies or going to the park with Dad. Older children tend to work better with either an allowance or the promise to be able to do something special. It’s best to build up towards the reward as opposed to taking away from the reward. Remember, keep it positive!
Working consistently to keep the family unit working well together takes some effort but the rewards for everyone involved are so rewarding.
So, besides decluttering and organizing the physical space in your home, I can help you organize the entire family to function better as a unit when it comes to household management.
For more information and assistance on this topic or any organizing issue you might have, feel free to contact me. I will be more than happy to help you reach your goals for organization and make your place A Better Space.