Friday, April 13 2018
Do you remember the movie "Mommy Dearest"! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUkE9qaVgmo. It was such a frightening scene when Joan Crawford was screaming "NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!". I will never forget it!
These days, in a much calmer tone, I gently explain to my clients why I am not a fan of wire hangers. And this is why:
Wire hangers can cause damage to your clothing when clothes are left on them after returning from the dry cleaners or simply used to store clothing. They can affect the shape of the shoulders and can actually create rust. (I had a client once who used wire hangers and had a cream colored suit that she had kept on the wire hanger from the dry cleaner. When we were reviewing her wardrobe to organize her closet, we discovered, unfortunately, that the wire hanger on her suit had rusted, leaving a permanent stain. The beautiful suit was ruined.)
Also, when it comes to dry cleaning your clothes, be sure to remove the plastic bag they are returned in. There are chemicals used when the dry cleaning process is used. If you keep the bag on the clothes when they arrive home, these harmful chemicals stay trapped in the clothing.
I highly recommend that "no more wire hangers" are kept on your clothing in your closet. Switch them to plastic or velvet slim hangers instead. The next time you head to your dry cleaner, take all of your unused wire hangers with you. Most dry cleaners recycle hangers and actually appreciate you returning them because it saves them money. You get rid of clutter in your closet and help keep landfills free of hangers.
Also, unless you have a need for the plastic bags they wrap around your clothing, you can ask for the dry cleaner to keep the bags off of your clothes. It keeps you from having to toss the bag when you get home, and again saves the dry cleaner money. Also, men’s dress shirts can be folded instead of put on a hanger so that you don’t have to take a hanger home with you at all!
When you go to pick up your clothes at the dry cleaners, take your plastic hangers or thin velvet hangers and garment bags with you. It's just like taking reusable shopping bags with you when you go grocery shopping. That way you don’t even need to take their wire hangers and their plastic bags home at all.
Now you will no longer have wire hangers and with these tips, you will have an organized, clean and safe wardrobe in your clothes closet to enjoy.
If you are overwhelmed with the thought of getting your wardrobe decluttered and organized, don't hesitate to contact me. As always, l am here to help.
Monday, October 09 2017
With the holidays just around the corner, it's time to start organizing those recipes. Over the years, I have used various methods for organizing the various types of recipes I have gathered.
I sometimes tear recipes out of a magazine or print out recipes I find on line. I also have an array of recipe books.
First, I have a cabinet that is specificially used to organize my recipe books. Years ago, I had one custom made by the Amish because I had the need to store a lot of recipe books close to the kitchen for easy retrieval. I placed it against a small wall that divides my kitchen from my living room in my dining room area. (I am not suggesting that everyone needs to do this, but I have never regretted my decision to do so.)
Within my recipe cabinet, I have various forms of recipe organization besides the books.
I use an index card box for my "go to" recipes which I typed onto index cards and which I use on a regular basis and have been family favorites for years, including during the holidays. I divide them up with alphabetical index dividers A-Z. (They could also be divided up by category, i.e., desserts, casseroles, vegetables, pasta, etc.)
I use an accordion expandable file for the recipes I have gathered from magazines and online which I need to test out before they become part of my permanent collection. (These are divided up by category as described above.)
Another suggestion I have is to put your full size (8-1/2" x 11") recipes that you have into a 3-ring binder, divided up by category, using sheet protectors to store them. I like this suggestion because you can pull out the sheet from the binder when you want to use it and it will be protected from splatters and spills.
Of course, you can always use your phone or computer to store recipes digitally, but I strongly suggest that you weed through it from time to time to get rid of the recipes you have tried and failed or decided you are no longer interested in them. Otherwise, you are creating digital clutter.
Depending on how much you cook or bake can depend on what type of system would work best for you.
For me, there is not one solution but several that work best.
What solutions can you think of in order to organize your own collection of recipes? Share you ideas here and let's learn from each other so you can have a more organized holiday cooking experience.
In the meantime, if you are simply overwhelmed with your clutter and would like to discuss your particular situation with a professional organizer, don't hesitate to contact me.
As always, I am here to help.
Friday, June 09 2017
Thank you to TRI-STAR CABINET & TOP COMPANY for reaching out to A BETTER SPACE and providing this Checklist to share with my organizing community.
If you wish to be a guest blogger on my A Better Space blog, simply contact me at email@example.com and attach a copy of the blog you wish me to post and it will be considered for a future date.
If you have any questions about this checklist or are too overwhelmed to take on this project on your own, 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!
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!
Wednesday, January 04 2017
When was the last time you looked around your home? I mean, when was the last time you looked closely at your possessions and evaluated them?
When we have lived in the same home for a long period of time, we tend to not see the clutter that is "hiding in plain sight".
Our homes can have everything in its place and still be cluttered. Some of those items which are well organized are actually things we can do without. However, they go unnoticed.
One example might be an old music system. So many of us listen to music these days online and have downloaded our CD's onto our computer or an ipod and we no longer pull out a CD to listen to our favorite tunes. So why are we holding onto those CD's?
Another example are books. When was the last time you looked at your collection? Perhaps your taste has changed. Perhaps you have read a certain book several times and will not be reading them again. Perhaps you got some books as gifts and felt bad about getting rid of them. Perhaps you now have a Kindle or other electronic reader and use it now, instead of reading a physical book. So now, they are just taking up space on a bookshelf, collecting dust.
How about those collectibles? I see this all the time when working with my clients. Whether its stuffed animals, antique model cars, Precious Moments, etc., they might be collecting dust and no longer appreciated. When was the last time you really looked at your collection(s) and appreciated them?
Other types of hidden clutter that might not be in plain sight but still are accumulating could be pantry items you never use, holiday decorations stored in a bin you never pull out and most commonly, old paperwork. (I once met someone who had old paystubs dating back to the 1960's which he kept in his attic.)
Sometimes we have clutter we purposely chose to hide. Many people have never-given gifts hiding out in the back of a closet or on shelves in a basement. Some have gifts they received and feel guilty about getting rid of.
Although this hidden clutter might not seem as problematic as the more obvious clutter, it can be worth tackling.
Selling some of those items will give you financial benefit while making someone else happy who wants to use them.
Keeping your spaces uncluttered makes it easier to clean, easier to move items around and easier to find storage space for the things we really do want to keep.
So, what clutter are you hiding in plain sight?
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, June 09 2016
In a few months, I will be celebrating another birthday. As I get older and reflect on my life, I recognize how much we, as adults, evolve and change.
Our ideas about how we want to live our lives, our priorities and other decisions we are confronted with as we get older naturally change.
One of the ways we change, and might not recognize, is our priorities. Think about it. It is not only about who we socialize with, live with, spend time with, things we want to do or achieve, but the items we feel we want to hold on to.
Our priorities change as to what we want to keep.
When working with my clients who have gathered items for a long period of time, I find it interesting how we go through those items and they find that some of what they felt was so important to hold on to, is no longer that important.
Sometimes, it's not the item itself, but the number of items we keep. For example, do we need to hold onto such a large number of a particular item, or is it possible to pare it down to a smaller number which can be appreciated and perhaps still evoke a fond memory of the person it once belonged to?
Interestingly enough, my son created a Memory Box when his father died. He was six years old at the time. We make a habit of reviewing that Memory Box once a year. Not only does he get to go down memory lane, but he sometimes finds that there is an item or two that no longer hold the same significance as they once did, and he can part with them.
I once had a client who had held onto a box of handkerchiefs that belonged to her deceased husband's deceased parent. When we found the box on a shelf in her coat closet, we opened it up and she looked at the handkerchiefs she had not seen in years. When I asked her why she had held on to so many, she said because they belonged to her late husband. I explained that now they belonged to her. What connection did she have to them? Did she need to hold on to almost 100 handkerchiefs? She realized she did not and reduced the box down to ten of her favorite, instead.
Is it possible that you have items in your home that you have been holding on to for years and have not looked at for a long time that do not carry as much significance as they once did? Have your tastes evolved?
The next time you are decluttering and organizing your home, take this into consideration. Are you ready to participate in an "evolution revolution"? If so, you will find that those items you are saving will take up a lot less room if they are pared down to what means the most to you.
If you need assistance in determining what to keep and what to donate or trash, don't hesitate to contact me. I am here to help.
Tuesday, January 12 2016
I know it's been a while since I last wrote a blog. I have been spending some much needed time on my own home for a change.
I decided at the end of 2015 that I was going to go through my home and thoroughly declutter, clean and organize each and every room of my home. I had been so busy last year organizing others that I, unfortunately, neglected my own home. It was quite an undertaking, I must admit, but the results are great!
I feel so much better when I walk throughout my home now. I went through my second floor in November and the first floor in December and am finishing up my basement this month.
I took time to assess my possessions and ask myself if I really needed everything I had. The answer was an astounding "NO"! I went through my wardrobe, including my collection of shoes and accessories, got rid of old nick knacks that no longer represented who I am, organized closets, cabinets, shelves, drawers and hung some new artwork. I gathered quite a large number of items for donation and for sale and a lot for the trash.
I organized my home office to get ready to rock it in 2016 and moved old files and paperwork into my storage area of my home to archive. I went through all of my filing cabinets and got rid of four boxes of paperwork at a recent shredding event too.
One of the things I paid attention to was whether or not I needed to repurpose any of the areas of my home.
When was the last time you did that? When was the last time you looked around your home and identified areas or rooms in your home that no longer serve you?
Have your children grown up and no longer need a play room? Has one of your children gone off to college or gotten married and no longer lives at home? Is that well-intended exercise room no longer being used? Do you no longer spend time in the living room, but rather use the family room instead?
It is so important to use your real estate. If a room in your home is no longer being used as it was originally intended, it's time for a change.
Start to re-purpose a room by eliminating what no longer suits you. Determine how that space can be better used and re-create a room that you love. Add a fresh coat of paint and perhaps an area rug to give it a fresh look.
Perhaps you do not have a home office and the paperwork in the home ends up everywhere. Wouldn't it be great to have a dedicated room where all of the paper management in the home can live? You could turn your unused living room or a bedroom into a home office.
How about that sitting room you have always wanted? How about taking an unused bedroom and creating a dressing room? The possibilities are endless.
You don't need to have a living room if you don't use one. You don't need to keep a bedroom unused. It could become a home office, a work-out room, a sitting room or whatever you have envisioned that you would like to have.
Take some time and go through your own home and look at it with fresh eyes and see how you can repurpose your home. "The purpose" of your home is to create an environment that you use and love to spend time in.
If you need assistance creating a room that you love, some interior redesign might be the solution. Feel free to contact me to talk about your particular situation.
Until next time, happy organizing!
Thursday, September 17 2015
So, now that the kids are back at school and the Fall season is just days away, many of us are looking to shed a few of those pounds we gained over the Summer. Blame it on the Summer treats such as ice cream, those barbecues and parties with friends and family and perhaps lack of exercise due to the hot temperatures outside. However it happened, you are considering going on a weight loss program.
Well, I have a weight loss program we can all be successful at. Are you ready?
I would like to see you shed the "pounds" of clothing in your closets and dressers! Yes, you heard me. You can loss pounds.
So many of my clients have an abundance of clothing in their wardrobe. It is easy to put on the pounds (of clothing) but, just like other weight loss programs, not always as easy to shed them.
We go to the store or go online and start shopping. We come home with those new items we just can't live without and, boom, over time, our wardrobes grow to the point where we no longer know what we have or no longer wear all the clothing we have.
Do you know that statistics show that we wear twenty (20%) percent of our clothes eighty (80%) percent of the time? That means that eighty (80%) percent of our clothing we purchase and never wear or keep and no longer wear but keep it anyway. I find that astonishing!
I guarantee that if you went through your wardrobe, you could identify "pounds" of clothing that you've bought and have never worn or purchased a long time ago and no longer wear.
I challenge you to see how many pounds you can shed just by going through your wardrobe and eliminating those items.
This is a guaranteed weight loss program you can be successful at, and reach your goal very quickly.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and don't know where to start, I am here to help. I can help you to go through your wardrobe in a systematic way to help you make choices about what to keep and what to donate or toss (or in some instances, consign) so that you can have a wardrobe you make use of and enjoy. I will help to create a wardrobe that fits your current lifestyle. It will feel like a brand new wardrobe!
Let's eliminate about eighty (80%) percent of your weight when it comes to your clothing. Just imagine how good that will feel!
Contact me if you want to discuss your particular situation. I want nothing more than for you to be successful!
Take the first step to shedding some pounds today!
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.
Tuesday, June 02 2015
Wow! Is it June already? I have been so crazy busy that I have not had the opportunity to write a blog for the past few weeks. I have been working with a lot of clients lately who are downsizing. They are transitioning out of their home into a smaller home. When this happens, many people struggle with how to fit all of their possessions into a smaller space. That is where I come in. I help my clients decide what to keep, what to sell, what to donate and what to throw away in the trash.
I actually get excited when I hear that someone is moving into a new home. Although it can be stressful, it is a great time to evaluate your possessions and decide what is truly needed and wanted. It's a fresh start. So many of us obtain or collect items during the many years we live in a home and do not take the time to weed through our possessions on a regular basis to re-evaluate what we want or need. Moving into a new home tends to help so many focus on this task. However, it can be overwhelming.
It is important to keep in mind the following:
1. Always focus on where you are going and how much space you will have. You need to constantly remind yourself of the amount of space you will have in your new home to help you make smart choices. Stay in the present when deciding on an item. If you hear yourself talking in the past i.e., "I used to use this for...", it is time to let it go.
2. Pick your favorites. As they say, everything cannot be your favorite. Be selective about the items you wish to take to your new home and be sure the item is needed or brings you joy. Don't get stuck in the "Maybe someday I will need it" syndrome. Your home is intended to be lived in, not acting as a storage unit.
3. Set a deadline. Many people who are downsizing are doing so because their kids are grown and have moved out of the home. However, they left their stuff behind for various reasons. Make sure your kids know you are serious about downsizing and cannot take their stuff with you when you move. Set a deadline and tell them that they either pick up or have their stuff delivered or shipped by a certain date or it will be donated. You do not have the room to store their stuff any longer and you do not want the added expense of having it moved to your new home.
4. Become familiar with the home you are moving into. If possible, visit the home you are moving into to do some space planning in advance. This will help you choose the items you will have room for and how they will be set up in the home. This includes furniture placement and cabinet or drawer storage. Take pictures if possible to refresh your memory when making these choices.
5. Organize the packing of boxes and furniture. Be sure to clearly label your boxes and furniture so the movers will have an easier time putting them into the appropriate rooms in your new home. Use color coding by taping a colored piece of paper on the doorway of each room that coordinates with the color on the boxes. Moving companies love when this is done. It avoids them having to ask you every five minutes which room you want certain items. It will also save time, which saves you money.
Downsizing is the opportunity to begin a new chapter in your life. It can be a stressful time but with the help of a professional organizer, it can be an exciting time!
If you are overwhelmed with the idea of downsizing, I am here to help. I can help you go through your possessions to make those important choices, space plan your new home and assist with staging your current home for sale, if need be. I will work with you to help you through the emotional attachment issues you might be experiencing with your upcoming move.
There is an upside to downsizing!
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!
Tuesday, March 24 2015
Spring is finally here. The cold temps seem to want to hang around, however. The time is now to start Spring cleaning your wardrobe and start putting your Winter wardrobe away. The warmer temps are just around the corner, I promise.
Do you have bulky items hanging in your closet that are taking up the space you could use for lighter weight clothing?
Do you have items that you bought and intended to wear this past Winter season but never did?
Are your drawers stuffed with articles of clothing that are now too warn out to be used again next year?
Do you have pieces in your wardrobe that no longer fit?
Now is the time to clear them out.
Here are some steps you can take to Spring clean your wardrobe:
1. Start in your closet. Eliminate the articles of clothing that should be thrown away because they are now worn out.
2. Eliminate articles of clothing in your closet that you did not wear this past Winter season that can be donated. Bag them up and make an appointment with yourself to either have them picked up or dropped off at a Thrift Store or non-profit organization that takes clothing.
3. Pull out and store bulky items from your closet elsewhere which you think will take up too much space in your closet. Clothes need to breathe so make sure they have enough room in your closet to do so. You can use an under-the-bed plastic container, a cedar chest, a garment bag or plastic 18 gallon container for storage in your attic or basement.
4. Take out the items that no longer fit you. If your weight tends to go up and down, store that size in a container. Keep only the clothes in your closet that fit you now. You can always retrieve them later if need be. Do not keep more than one size larger and one size smaller. You are not a department store!
5. Go through your drawers in your dresser and do the same thing.
6. Pull out clothing that you might have stored away during the Winter months for use in warmer weather.
These steps will get you ready for Spring so that when those warmer temps hit, you will be ready with a wardrobe that suits your needs.
If you are overwhelmed and need help, don't hesitate to contact me. I am here to help.
Tuesday, March 10 2015
Being a professional organizer and having a home office such as I do, I know how important it is to keep it clutter free and organized.
Paper clutter as well as computer clutter are both problematic for most people. It is vital to feel good about your home office environment in order to be productive.
Here are some tips you can use to get and keep your home office functional and enjoyable to work in:
1. Clear your surfaces. Paper tends to pile up on any flat surface such as a desk if it does not have a home. It can be overwhelming to get it organized and under control. So, the first step is the clear the surfaces of all paperwork and office supplies. Start with a clean slate.
2. Provide yourself with sufficient storage space in your filing cabinet. You need to have enough room to store active files and reference/archival files. If you do not have enough space for a good filing system, your paperwork might end up piled on a desk or even on the floor.
3. Keep it separate. Do not co-mingle your personal paperwork with business-related paperwork. They should each have their own zone. If it is not possible to have separate filing cabinets, then designate certain drawers in the cabinet for personal and for business.
4. Create sufficient room to work. If your PC is taking up a lot of space, consider using a lap top computer instead. Designate a portion of your desk for computer work and another portion for spreading out paperwork. Be sure to designate space for your printer, scanner, etc. A good option is to purchase a multi-functional printer/scanner/copier to save space. Make sure your equipment is placed where you can easily reach it from where you are sitting.
5. Out with the old and in with the new. On a regular basis, you should go through your files to clean out old, unused paperwork to make room for new materials either monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. This is vital to staying organized as your paperwork will always have a good home. This applies to your computer as well. Eliminate old email, folders or programs you no longer need or use.
6. Create an environment you enjoy spending time in. It is important to have the furniture, lighting and items that reflect your personality in your home office space so that you enjoy being in the space. This will help you to be more productive. Create a space that is functional and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Be sure to incorporate items that will not only be functional, such as a desk with drawers as opposed to just a desk surface and select a comfortable office chair to sit in. Add artwork or photographs to the walls that you enjoy looking at. Incorporate bookcases or shelving for added vertical storage.
The less you have out on your desk and work space, the better. You will be able to think much clearer and be much more productive when there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. Of course, you know, that is how you create A Better Space!
By using the tips mentioned above, you will be well on your way. If you are just too overwhelmed and need assistance to get it under control, I invite you to contact me. I can help.
In the meantime, Happy National Organize Your Home Office Day!
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!
Sunday, January 18 2015
Usually it is fairly easy to get rid of certain types of clutter: food storage containers with missing lids, broken items that you don't intend to repair, clothing that has not been worn in years, etc.
However, when it comes to items that you have inherited, that can be another story.
The rule of thumb is that you don't need to keep something just because it belonged to a beloved relative. If it's something you don't like and don't use, and you've stored it in the back of a closet, in your garage, basement, or anywhere else (including a off-site storage unit) for years, it's not serving anyone. If it is sitting on a shelf, a table or any other flat surface and collecting dust, you are not honoring that possession and it should go elsewhere.
Are you really honoring the memory of that person if the item is not being used? It's much better to get the item back into use, even if the person using it is not you. Keep in mind that your relative's intention was not to burden you with their things. They want you to enjoy the item.
This is similar to what I call "gift guilt". We believe that if someone gives us something, we have to keep it. Not true! If you don't like something that they gave you, either return it to the store where it was purchased or pass it on to someone else who will make use of it. Perhaps another family member would appreciate having the inherited item. Perhaps you can sell it and use the money for something you want. Give that item a whole new life by passing it on to someone else who can make it part of their home.
If you want to remember the item, take a picture of it before you pass it on. It will take up a lot less room that way.
I have worked with numerous clients over the years who were holding onto furniture, jewelry, dishes, handkerchiefs and knick knacks because they were given to them.
My theory is that the point of holding onto items that you have inherited is to remember the person. Having 100 handkerchiefs in a container that you never open and look at is not necessary in order remember them. I think that keeping a few items or collectibles makes more sense if they are special to you. If you hold onto all of them, just because, I do not believe you are honoring them in the way you should.
Sometimes, we are holding onto items that we have inherited from our adult children because they moved out of the home and left them behind or they do not have enough room to store the items where they live. I have seen this happen time and again and the items end up staying where they are and not being used. This is another form of inheritance, by default.
If the items are taking up space that you want for another purpose and you have the items for a long time, you might decide it's time for a change. Send pictures of the items to that person and let them know you will donating any items they don't specifically tell you they want. Be sure to include a deadline in the not-too-distant future for responding to you. Set a deadline for them to pick up the items or when you intend to have them mailed or shipped to them.
Setting deadlines to accomplish this is vital to your success.
Remember, your home is not a storage unit for others. Honor your home by creating an environment that is condusive to your style of living and that brings you joy. Do not inherit clutter!
If you are overwhelmed and need help deciding what to keep, what to toss and what to donate or sell, contact me. I am here to help.
In the meantime, have a great week!
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, 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!
Tuesday, May 27 2014
Is your home starting to look like an episode of "Hoarders"? Perhaps not, but it might be time to get rid of the clutter and get organized. You have three choices - throw it away, donate it or sell it. Which one do you choose?
Toss It - Get rid of old receipts and any paperwork that is no longer needed. For confidential information, be sure to use a cross-cut paper shredder. Throw away anything that is broken and you have no intention of fixing or cannot be fixed. Eliminate expired food in your pantry, refrigerator, freezer or kitchen cabinets. Toss old make-up and other cosmetics that are past their prime. Check with your county or municipality to visit Earth911.com to locate a facility where you can drop off automotive and home-improvement items such as oil-based paints and, pesticides for proper disposal.
Sell It - Some of your items can find a second home and get you some cash in the process! Utilize E-bay, Craigslist, consignment shops or specialty sites for books, clothing and tech items. For books, log on to Bookscouter.com, enter the ISBN number (located over the bar code) and receive price quote from online booksellers who want them. Sell your designer clothing and accesories at The Snob (www.thesnob.biz) and Snobswap (www.snobswap.com). For vintage clothing, try Etsy (www.etsy.com) and Fashiondig (www.fashiondig.com). Have a yard sale!
Donate - Get that warm, fuzzy feeling and even a tax deduction by donating your things to charity. Whether you donate to a local non-profit such as Goodwill, Salvation Army or other local thrift stores, it is easy to eliminate your items from your home quickly. You can either drop off the items at the site or have a truck come pick them up, depending on who you choose. Purple Heart and other veterans organization are also a good choice. Always check with whomever you choose to be sure that they accept the items you have to donate and be sure to get a receipt to use when preparing your annual tax return. When it comes to electronicss, be sure to erase personal information. Erase the SD car, SIM card or destroy the hard-drive. Donate your old cell phones through Verizon's HopeLine program for victims of domestic violence or support the troops overseas at CellPhonesforSoldiers.com. Donate your shoes to Soles4Souls.org and books to your local library. Senior centers and day-cares need arts and crafts. Animal shelters needs towels, blankets and sheets. There are so many choices.
When it comes to eliminating your clutter and getting organized, you have three choices. Toss, Sell or Donate. When it comes to getting help if you are overwhelmed, consider using a professional organizer such as myself, to help you get the job done! Together we can eliminate the clutter and create A Better Space for the things you wish to keep.
In the meantime, I am wishing you an organized day!
Tuesday, May 06 2014
Have you taken a look around lately? All of us have things scattered around the house that can be re-purposed. There is something in almost every room of the home, in fact.
Today, I want to share with you 10 ideas for items you already have in your home that you can "re-purpose on purpose":
1. A CD tower in the bathroom can be used to hold toilet paper, toiletries or small towels. You can even turn it on its side with the openings upright and hang it on the wall for additional storage.
2. A tennis ball canister or Pringles canister that has been cut on the bottom can be used to hold paper baking liners for cupcakes and muffins or to hold paper cups. Hang it on the wall to save space. It can be used for so many other things too!
3. A hard glass case is useful to store your ear buds or other small items in your luggage or handbag.
4. A muffin pan is a great way to store small items in your drawer in the bathroom or bedroom such as children's hair clips or jewelry.
5. An upright magazine holder can be used for gift bag storage or sheets of wrapping paper.
6. A long towel holder with knobs can be mounted on the back of a door or on a wall to organize your jewelry.
7. Use a business card case to transport your favorite sweetener packets.
8. Re-use a tissue box to store plastic grocery bags.
9. A small shower caddy can be hung on a doorknob in your laundry room to hold detergent, dryer sheets, clothes pins, etc.
10. Use an acrylic napkin holder to organize your bills to be paid, putting them in chronological order to avoid late payment.
Which of these items will you repurpose? What other ideas do you have for re-purposing your items? Take a look around and get creative!
If you are simply overwhelmed with the thought of getting organized and don't know where to begin, contact me at A Better Space. I will be more than happy to help. Let's "re-purpose on purpose" together!
Monday, April 21 2014
I love using inexpensive solutions to help my clients get organized. A great tool that I use quite often is a simple basket or plastic shoe box. They can be used in so many different ways. Have you considered these ideas?
1. Group jewelry in a drawer or on your dresser.
2. Hold coins found in your pocket.
3. On your bedside table to hold hand creams, lip balm, etc.
1. Contain eyeglass cleaning accessories or contacts and solution.
2. Gather Hair bands or barrettes.
3. Use to hold make-up and accessories.
4. Group together nail polish and nail care accessories.
5. Hold razors and shaving accessories.
1. Compartmentalize hats and gloves for each family member.
2. Containerize first aid products.
3. Keep shampoos, body wash and other personal hygiene products in one spot.
4. Gather extra toothbrushes, dental floss and toothpaste you get from your dentist.
5. Use one to store travel size products for quick packing.
1. Hold packets of sauce mixes together.
2. Group spices together.
3. Keep your measuring spoons together in your kitchen drawer or cabinet.
4. Gather twist ties in one place.
5. Use to store small sharp knives in a drawer.
HOME OFFICE -
1. Contain paper clips and binder clips.
2. Keep erasers and correction fluid together.
3. Gather pens, pencils or markers.
There are so many uses for inexpensive baskets and containers! Use your imagination and start getting organized.
If you are just too overwhelmed and don't know where to begin, contact me and schedule your free phone consultation. I can get you started on the road to A Better Space!
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!
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!
Friday, July 26 2013
Do you rent a self-storage unit (or two) to store your "stuff"? Some of my clients do.
I have a theory about off-site self-storage. Basically, I believe they are great if used short term. They are very useful when you need additional space to store items that you are transitioning from one place to another, for example, after the passing of a parent. There are other examples as well.
However, I do not believe they should be used over the long term as they can become expensive to maintain. Calculate the monthly fee by 12 and see what you are spending over the course of a year. It is worth it or can that money be put to better use?
If you are going to rent an off-site self-storage unit, you should at least know what to look for.
With literally hundreds of local self-storage facilities in any given area, how do you choose one of another? Do you choose one closest to home, one your Aunt Jane's friend rented last year, the one you keep seeing advertised on television? You need to find one that best suits your needs.
DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN ALL THE HYPE - When it comes to making a choice, hindsight is 20/20. Don't get caught up in the bright and snazzy colors on the bulletin board ads, local newspaper ads or elsewhere. Don't take your eye off the ball. The bottom line is service.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK - Seek out a knowledgeable customer service associate to help you. Make several phone calls and visit several locations. Ask lots of questions so you can make an informed decision.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION - Where are the various facilities located? Is it located in a congested area? You want to be able to get to your unit when you need to without hassle.
SAFETY AND SECURITY - Is the facility located in a safe location in case you need to go there at night? Is there 24-hour surveillance? Are there separate alarms for each unit? What kind of fire protection or sprinkler system is available? Is there climate controls such as air conditioning or de-humidified units available? Is there heat for colder months when your items might freeze?
ACCESSIBILITY - You want to be able to get to your unit and access your items at times that work best for you. What are their hours of operation and are there any restrictions on the times of day or days of the week you can load or unload your unit. If 24-hour, seven day admittance is important to you, make sure you find a company that can accommodate you.
TRANSPORTATION - Are there dollies or carts available on the premises or do you need to supply your own. Is there sufficient space to bring a U-Haul or trailer on the back of your vehicle to load or unload items?
OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT - What size units are available? What are the various prices? Are there any discounts available? (Some offer the first month for a $1). What is the cancellation/refund policy? Is the facility insured for break-ins, theft, fire damage, water damage or natural disasters? What insurance are you required to carry? How do they handle non-payment (just in case you forget to pay your bill) and how long do you have to retrieve your items?
Renting a storage unit at a storage facility requires that you take the time to get the facts. Be sure that you are "Self-Storage Savvy" when it comes time to renting a unit.
My hope is that you eliminate the clutter in order to avoid having to incur this additional expense, but just in case, I hope this helps.
Until next time, I wish you an organized day.
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.
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!
Thursday, April 18 2013
Finally, Spring has arrived and with it Spring Fever. It's a time for fresh starts. For me, I am moving up. I am taking my office space from the basement which has no natural light and moving upstairs to a spare bedroom. This room has soft neutral tones on the walls and a big window that provides a nice view and, best of all, that natural light I desire.
I ordered new furniture that will provide me with more room in which to work. It is expected to arrive in about four or five weeks. In the meantime, I have contacted my handyman who is going to install a new ceiling fan/light fixture and I am in the midst of arranging the room so it is condusive to my productivity.
One of my passions is books and I love to surround myself with them. They make me feel warm and cozy. I love to hold a book in my hands and feel the paper's texture and get lost in the pages. I am not a fan of Kindle for this reason - just a personal choice.
When I was doing space planning for my new office space, I decided to incorporate two bookcases in the room just for my leisure reading. I love to see my collection of novels yet to be read - it is quite extensive.
However, I am aware, as you should be, that there is such a thing as book clutter. Piles of books laying around on a coffee table in your living room, on an end table in your bedroom, on your desk in your home office or anywhere on the floor is clutter.
The author of the blog Epic Write summed up the complex relationship she has with books in her post "Show Me Your Book Clutter":
"The problem is I have so many books I want to read. Or, that I need to read...Aside from my cluttered side table, I have digital and paper clutter where I have recorded books I want to read. From my "wants" list on Goodreads.com to titles scribbed on scraps of paper, I am overwhelmed with the amount of books I will get to someday. even with feeling almost buried by it all, I have no desire to change. I love books. I want to see books everywhere."
For me, I do not want to feel buried by my books. Although I have a lot of books, I do not have clutter. My books are lined up neatly in my bookcases with hardbacks in the back and paperbacks in the front, in alphabetical order by author. I can put my hand on any book I want within moments. If my books do not fit within these boundaries, I weed them out, which I recently did.
I want my new office to feel spaceous and calm because I know that it will provide me with the space I need in my head to be productive.
If you have a large collection of books, take the time to organize them in a way in which you can enjoy seeing them. Not on the floor in a pile, but rather, on a shelf or bookcase that can accommodate them. Do not hold onto books that you have already read (especially fiction). There are way too many books out there to still be read.
If you find that you have too many, donate them to a local library or pass them onto a friend who will enjoy them. Books are meant to be shared with others.
Clearly people love books and everything about them. But, it is possible to keep a reasonable number so that they don't contribute to clutter in your living spaces.
Honor your books by being selective about the ones you purchase and by keeping your collection in order.
If you are overwhelmed with your book clutter or any other clutter in your home, contact me. I am happy to help.
In the meantime, get outside and read a book!
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!
Monday, January 14 2013
Anyone who knows me, knows I am not a fan of the winter months. The snow can be pretty but I do not like cold weather.
However, there is a reason for me to love the month of January. It's National Get Organized Month! What better month is there for a professional organizer like myself.
I don't know about you but I do like to start off the New Year with a new start. I have been diligently working in my own home to rid it of clutter. Understand that it is not out of hand but there are still things that need to be gone through and eliminated.
I started the month by working in my clothes closet in my master bedroom. I have a nice size walk-in closet and it is easy to fill it with clothes, shoes and accessories. As busy as I can get with my business, I tend to not review my wardrobe as often as I should. I do go through and eliminate items as I put them on and find that I don't want them anymore, but this time was different. I took the time to actually try on pants, jackets, dresses, skirts and tops. I was amazed at what I found; namely, two and a half trash bags of clothes that no longer fit or that I liked. Wow, I could not believe that I have held onto that many articles of clothing that no longer serve me.
Granted, I put on some weight over the Summer and it is likely I will not return back to the weight that will allow me to get back in these clothes again. What can I say, I am getting older and my body type has changed. Moving on... I am realistic enough to know that holding onto these clothes is not in my best interest. I do not live with "Someday Syndrome".
As I continue to work through my home to eliminate the excess, I am feeling the difference. My home actually feels lighter and more spaceous. It brings a sense of calm.
So let me ask you. What are you doing to lighten the load in your house during this year's National Get Organized Month?
If you need any assistance in doing so, let me know. I can help. In the meantime, have a great week!
Tuesday, January 08 2013
One of my goals for the New Year was to go through my wardrobe and weed out what no longer fits or I no longer like. Happens to all of us!
I am fortunate to have lots of closet space in my home, but the down side of that can be that I fill it. My wardrobe has become quite extensive as a result. I had room for everything but I decided it was just too much.
Little did I know, that when I went through my walk-in closet and guest room closet, that I would be eliminating as much as I did. (I didn't even get to the shoes or my dressers yet!)
I decided to view my wardrobe as if I was shopping. I would try on clothes and look in the mirror. I asked myself several questions:
"Do I still like this item?"
"Do I like the way it looks on me?" And most importantly,
"If I were to try this on in a store, would I buy it?"
If the answer to any of these questions was "No", it was removed from the wardrobe.
I had suits, pants, tops, dresses, skirts and jackets that I swore still fit me. However, when I went to try them on, I found out differently. Some classic suits had been in my wardrobe for years. I discovered I had tops, pants and skirts that were no longer comfortable. Admittedly, I have put on some weight so those clothes no longer fit. It was now time to get rid of them. Realisticall, I will never be a Size 0 or Size 2 again.
Using the last question I think is the most important and easiest to detemine whether to keep something in your wardrobe. This can apply to everything you wear - jewelry, purses, belts, scarves, etc. I believe it eliminates the "Someday Syndrome" or the "Maybe" syndrome. It helps you to be more definitive about your decisions.
So the next time you are going through your closets and your drawers, pretend you are shopping and ask yourself "If I were to try this on in a store, would I buy it?" If not, either throw it away or, better yet, donate the clothing to your local non-profit such as Goodwill. Others will appreciate your contribution and it can be a tax deduction.
If you have difficulty weeding through your wardrobe, contact me. I can help. Remember, less is more!
In the meantime, have a great day!
Tuesday, November 27 2012
The holiday season is officially upon us as of Thanksgiving. The holidays tend to center around the kitchen and one important aspect of the kitchen is the pantry.
This past weekend, I worked with a client to organize her pantry. She loves to cook and a key aspect of that is being able to go to her pantry and quickly retrieve what she needs. She was, however, having difficulty doing so because she was not sure what was in the pantry and where things were stored. She did not have a system.
We emptied out the entire pantry and looked at everything. We eliminated the excess and then grouped like items together according to her own personal preference.
Containers had been purchased ahead of time when we first evaluated the space to help containerize certain items. Then, it was just a matter of figuring out what items belonged where. She already had a hanging rack on the inside of the pantry door. We repurposed it so that items being stored on the door were the items she most frequently accessed. We utilized her various shelves to store like items together.
After the process was complete and the layout met my client's needs, we noticed that certain items were missing. She now knew she needed to go shopping for pasta, tomato sauce, cereal and crackers. We had left space for those items to be incorporated.
To make sure you have the staples needed in your pantry, I am providing a list of items that I recommend: (Your items might differ slightly)
Olive Oil, Vegetable Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar, Salt, Pepper, Spices, Red Cooking Wine, White Cooking Wine, Chicken Broth;
Canned Tuna, Tomato Paste, Jarred Marinara and/or Tomato Sauce, Diced Tomatoes, Rice, Pasta, Beans, Cereal, Crackers,
All-purpose Flour, Sugar, Oats, Bread Crumbs, Condiments, Salad Dressings.
Again, your items might differ but you can use this as a basis to get started.
So, now that you have an idea as to how I helped my client organize her pantry, you don't need to ponder your pantry anymore. If, however, you need further assistance, don't hesitate to contact me.
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!
Wednesday, September 26 2012
I'm wondering whether you have duplicates of items that you could donate to help you reduce your clutter. Having doubles can be trouble!
Granted, having duplicates of certain items in your home, such as plates in your kitchen cabinets or reams of paper in your home office are very helpful. However, if there are items that we don't use often, it might be difficult for us to find a way to store them. We just might not have the room.
We don't want to waste space on things that will take up valuable space in our home. We want to be sure that we don't let those "every day" items get out of control. You just might want to donate the excess of which you have duplicates. Here are some examples:
- Paper shopping bags. How many do you have? They do tend to accumulate and, although they can be useful, too many is too much. Now that reuseable grocery bags are being recommended, you might find yourself with an influx of old paper shopping bags. Consider giving them to charities that can use them. (Some charities bag up meals, clothes, supplies and are looking for bag donations. Just make sure they are not musty or carry an odor from pets or smoke.
- Hotel toiletries. If you are a frequent traveler, chances are you return home from a trip with travel-size toiletry items you got for free at the hotel. If you don't use them when you get home, they can take over your closet, drawer or cabinet shelf. You can, instead, donate them to a local shelter, or, why not just leave them at the hotel to begin with!
- Pens, pencils, markers. I don't know about you, but these items seem to multiply in my drawer! Do you come home with a pen you borrowed and forgot to return? Do your kids come home from school with more writing utensils than you sent with them? I bet that if you take a look around your home, you probably have more pens and markers than you will ever use. Honestly, it's impossible to use them all, so donating them is a great option. Be sure to remove the ones that don't work. Give a bunch to a local school or community center or The Pencil Project.
- Sheets/Bed Linens. The number of linens you need depends on how often you do laundry. If you change your sheets every week (or every two weeks), you likely won't need more than two or three sets total (including the one currently on your bed). I wouldn't be surprised if you have sheets of various sizes that used to fit beds you no longer have. If they are still in good shape, donate them to a local charity. Perhaps the sets you have are just worn out. Consider giving them to your local animal shelter.
- Coffee Mugs. They tend to collect on our kitchen cabinet shelves without us even realizing it. We get them as gifts, we travel somewhere and bring them home as a souvenir, we get promotional mugs from marketers at events. When was the last time you took at look at your mugs? We might have a favorite mug along with the ones that came with our set of dishes. Check to see which ones you never use and pass them onto someone moving into a new apartment or a college student who lives away from home. Otherwise, donate them to a local charity.
You may not realize that you have unused duplicates unless you are actively decluttering. Check out your storage areas and start gathering like items togther so you can get a true sense of the amount you have. Pinpoint those items that are good candidates for donation. You will gain more space for your important items and help others in the process. Avoid that "Double Trouble".
Let me know what you discover.
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!
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, 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, January 31 2012
There seems to be a phenomenon that is growing by the day.
It's common for our socks to have lost their mates after we have done the laundry. They have been known to hide inside a fitted sheet, stuck inside a shirt sleeve or attached to the inside of a pants leg.
The common solution for this phenomenon is to have a laundry basket filled with odd socks. I have worked with so many people who have this laundry basket in their laundry room, bedroom or elsewhere in the house where the odd socks live.
Sometimes we never find that odd sock. I have a theory that there is a large hole in the earth somewhere where all of the odd socks get sucked out of our washing machine in the spin cycle and end up. This leaves the other sock without its mate forever more. How sad.
However, don't be distraught. I have begun a support group for all of the odd socks that get left behind to survive on their own. I have called it "Socks Without Partners".
The support group is not intended for long term, however. It's is intended for a 30 day period of time. The group meets after every laundry day in a laundry basket and they remain there for only 30 days. After that, they move on to become dust rags.
The by-laws of this support group state that after 30 days, the chances of finding their mates has become so minimal, it is not worth staying on. They have already hung out with other single socks and are now ready to take on the world of dust. I am thinking that a Veteran's hospital might be a choice as well since they care for some amputees who need socks. Whatever you choose, do not get caught up in the "What If" syndrome that plagues so many of us. "What if I find that other sock 3 months from now?" It's not a great loss; it's okay. Move on.
Bottom line, you can create your own support group in your laundry basket called "Socks Without Partners" but remember, after 30 days, they are to move on. There will be more single socks in your future, I promise.
I would love to hear if you have started your own support group for your single socks and how many members you have!
In the meantime, have a great day!
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, 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 30 2011
I don't know about you, but I am an avid reader. I have always loved books and get a real sense of comfort from holding one in my hands and flipping through the pages.
You might call me "old fashioned" but I prefer holding a book in my hands as opposed to a Kindle or other type of electronic reader. There is just something cold about holding a piece of plastic as opposed to turning pages of a book.
If you are an avid book reader, chances are you have quite a collection of books in your home. If so, are they organized? If not, here are some suggestions on how you can organize them so you can find what you want when you want it.
When it comes to non-fiction or reference books, it's best to organize them by category and then alphabetically by author.
When it comes to fiction, it's best to organize them by author and then in alphabetical order by book title. Organize your hardbacks separate from your soft backs. That doesn't mean they necessarily need to be on separate shelves. I put my hardback books in the back of the bookcase with paperbacks lined up in front of them. This makes it easy for me to read all of the titles and find just what I am looking for.
Personally, I have numerous bookcases for various types of books throughout my home. I have my non-fiction books on a bookcase in my upstairs hallway (there is plenty of room so it does not interfere with navigating to and from my bedroom), I have my fiction books in my guest bedroom/sitting room and business related books (marketing, organizing, etc.) on a bookcase in my office. I also have a cabinet that was specially made to store my cookbooks which sits just outside my kitchen, in my dining room.
Because I have an extensive amount of fiction (I love to relax at the end of my day by sitting down and reading a good fiction book.), I have taken the next step and created a small three-ring binder with alphabetical tabs in it, listing each author on a separate page with the titles of the books I currently have in my collection. This might seem extreme to some but I recognized the need to do this as I carry this binder with me when I go to the bookstore, the library or purchase books online. I do not buy duplicates because I know exactly what I currently have or have read in the past from that author. This works well for me as I tend to read books from the same general group of authors.
The other point I want to make is that when I am done reading one of my fiction books, I donate it or pass it on to a friend. I DO NOT keep fiction books after they are read. Life is too short and there are too many books out there to read so I don't want to go back and read the same book again. The non-fiction (if they are more of a resource) are kept after they are read. Biographies or autobiographies are passed on after they are read, as well.
Organizing your books is so important so that you know what you have and you can enjoy your collection.
I intend to continue to purchase books well into the future and am happy to say that I can locate what I want when I want it because my collection is organized. Yours can be too.
If you need assistance in sorting through the books, donating those that you no longer need or want and getting the restorganized, contact me. I'll be glad to help you out.
In the meantime, have a great week!
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!
Wednesday, May 04 2011
Okay, Easter is behind us, but perhaps those plastic Easter eggs are still hanging around. I have found some great ways to re-use those eggs for organization and want to share them with you!
Besides, just putting them away til next year, there are other ideas for their use.
1. Having a party with balloons. Keep them from floating away by filling the egg with small rocks and close the end of the ribbon from the balloon in the egg. Instant balloon weight!
2. Keep your jewelry free from tangles while traveling by coiling your necklace in the egg and snapping it shut. You can use this idea in your drawer to organize your jewelry as well. Why not keep all of your earring backs in one place in an egg?
3. Use the eggs as packing material. When shipping a box, toss a bunch of lightweight, colorful eggs inside.
4. Tote a healthy snack with you. Use a clean egg to stash a handful of your favorite snack, nuts or trail mix.
5. Carry your MP3 ear buds in an egg to keep them from knotting up.
6. (This is my favorite). Why not store your pantyhose or knee highs in the eggs and use an egg carton to keep them in place in your drawer? I remember when my pantyhose used to come in an egg. Do you?
What ideas do you have for making use of your plastic Easter eggs? I would love to hear them and share them with others. Reusing the eggs is a way to be "green".
In the meantime, if you have any issues with clutter, let me hear from you. I would love to help.
Have a great week and a wonderful Mother's Day!
Friday, April 22 2011
If you have been following my blogs for the past several years when I began posting in January 2008, you will know that I don't tend to "vent"; I simply provide information that I feel will be useful to you.
However, lately I have been noticiing how several advertisements for organizational products have been "selling their wares" so to speak in print and on television.
One company in particular has a great line of products, but let's get real here. Have you seen the ads for Real Simple? Their products are available at Bed, Bath & Beyond. They sell over the door shoe organizers, storage bins, purse organizers, sweater organizers and slim line hangers, to name a few.
The products are great - I use them quite often for my clients - but their ads, that's another story.
There is one ad in particular that was in the Real Simple magazine not that long ago. It shows a picture of a closet. I don't know about you, but in all my years, I have never seen such a minimalistic closet as this one. Granted, their products help categorize items together and that's a great thing. However, do you know any woman whose entire wardrobe consists of 6 pair of shoes, 8 handbags, 18 tops and two pair of pants? And to top it off, the floor is completely clear! Who lives like this? Not anyone I know.
Most people I work with have closets so full of clothing, they don't even know what they have until we go through it. There is stuff on the shelf above the rod, the rod is jammed with all types of clothing on all types of hangers and the floor is filled with shoes, boxes of miscellaneous items and some things that are not even identifiable. That's to be expected when you are dealing with clutter, but trust me, when I get done doing what I do best, it will never end up looking like the closet in the picture above.
I truly think the advertisers should put more effort into how they display their products in a more realistic way. Don't make people feel bad that they have so much more to store away. Show them how a full closet full of clothing, shoes and accessories can realistically look with the use of their products. I know their line of products is called "Real Simple" but...
That's all I'm saying.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the clutter in your closet and need some help, don't hesitate to contact me. I will be glad to help - but please, don't expect me to get rid of so much of your stuff that it looks like the ad above. That will not be happening!
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, January 23 2011
Are you sick of the clutter in your home but don't know how to even begin to get rid of it? This is a common problem - getting started. Why not take advantage of the cold temps outside and take some time today to get started?
If you follow the following 5 rules, you will be well on your way to eliminating the clutter.
1) Don't keep things you don't like.
This may sound obvious to you, but so many people have things in their homes that they're really not fond of. It could be a sweater that you never wear because you don't like the style any more or how it fits, but you're keeping it anyway because it was an expensive purchase.
It may be an old, beat up and ugly piece of furniture gathering dust in your storage area and the only reason you are keeping it is because it belonged to a loved one. The bottom line is, if you don't like it, it should not have a place in your home. Donate it to someone who will enjoy it.
2) You're keeping it for someone else.
Remember that your home is not the town storage facility! If you're holding on to things for your daughter who is now married with kids, give them to her and have her decide whether to keep or toss them. They belong to her, not you!
If you and your next door neighbor had a yard sale over the summer at your home, and your neighbor's goods that did not sell are still at your home, have them come over and pick them up today. If she doesn't want them, offer to have a charity pick them up instead. Just get rid of them! Your storage space should only be reserved for you and the family members currently living in your home.
3) Reduce by a definite number.
When getting rid of clutter in a specific area, have a goal in mind. Be specific. Saying you want to get rid of SOME clutter is very vague. However, saying you want to get rid of 20 items, or 50% of the clutter, is very specific. Focus on reaching your definitive goal.
4) Out with the old and in with the new.
This classic saying applies to this situation. When you buy something new, get rid of something old. If you just keeping adding possessions, without getting rid of anything, your home will soon be overflowing. Avoid this overflow by simply following the one in, one out rule to create balance in your home.
5) Never say never.
Lastly, if you constantly feel like you're drowning in clutter and you don't believe you'll ever be able to surface, the chances of you getting rid of your clutter are pretty slim. Never say "I'll never get rid of this clutter!". Always have a positive, can-do attitude and believe in yourself. Never allow your clutter to rule your life. Remember, you are in charge!
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized and you want a better space, don't hesitate to contact me and I will be glad to help.
In the meantime, stay warm and have a great week!
Thursday, December 09 2010
We all have "stuff", but there comes a time when you need to make decisions about your stuff. The options are keep, donate, sell, recycle or trash.
This past week, I went through my clothes closet and tried on all of my jeans. (I have nice jeans and jeans that I use strictly for work. You can imagine that working on some organizing projects require me to be very hands on and that tends to put wear and tear on my jeans.)
The jeans I was using for work, even though they still fit me, were getting worn out. I could have easily justified keeping them "because they still fit", but decided that was not good enough. I emptied all of them from my closet and took some of my older "nice" jeans and will now use them for work instead. I got rid of 8 pair of jeans!
I feel so much better now because I don't feel so sloppy when wearing my worn out jeans. This did wonders for my closet and for my self image. I don't want those old, beat up jeans any more. They are damaged goods. I have other pairs of jeans that I can use instead. The life of these old jeans has expired. I want to make room in my closet for nicer jeans and they no longer fit into my lifestyle.
Are you trying to decide if you should keep or get rid of something? These are six reasons to trash, recycle, sell, or donate an object:
- You don’t use it, love it, need it, or want it.
- It’s broken, busted, damaged, or destroyed and you haven’t fixed it in six months or more.
- You have multiples of the same object, and the other one is vastly superior in quality.
- It’s expired.
- You don’t have anywhere to store it.
- It doesn’t fit in the life you desire.
When you ask yourself these questions, your answer will come to you and it will make it a lot easier to decide what to do with that "stuff".
Be honest with yourself and remember the end result. You are creating less clutter and more room for the things you do want.
So, now you can "let it go".
Hope this helps you. Let me know what you have decided to "let go" and why by posting a comment below.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of eliminating your clutter and finding that balance in your life by doing so, contact me. I am more than happy to help.
In the meantime, 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!
Friday, May 14 2010
I have worked with so many people in the past 6 years and am so fortunate to be able to help all kinds - women, men, children, busy moms, entrepreneurs, younger, older, single, married, divorced, widowed.
There are times when I work with someone who believes they have a strong emotional attachment to certain items in their home and feel they cannot let go of them. Sometimes, however, when we delve a little deeper, we discover together that it's not the emotional attachment to the item itself, but the guilt of letting go of an item that formerly belonged to someone who has passed away.
This situation occurred recently with one of my clients. She has been widowed for quite some time now and still has possessions that belonged to her late husband's mother in her home. She has held onto these items for many years. Among other things, she had a large box of linens from her late mother-in-law.
When we were going through the items, I explained that it is not necessary to keep "all" of the items to evoke a positive memory of that person. The important part is not the item, but rather the memory it evokes and holding on to numerous like-items becomes clutter.
Another issue that arose is the fact that she felt guilty for letting go of the items she knew she did not want to keep. I helped her recognize that now that her husband and his mother are deceased, and she possesses the items, it is now her decision as to what is to be done with them.
Letting go of a deceased person's possessions falls on the current owner to decide what to do with them and that's okay. With that realization, my client was able to easily let go of all but a few linens which will be kept in a special box (much smaller than the one she originally held them in). Some were in poor condition and were thrown away, but since there remained others still in good condition, they were donated, so that others could enjoy them.
When you inherit items as a result of someone passing away, look carefully at the items and decide whether you LIKE them or not. Don't hold onto something simply because someone gave it to you. If you don't like it or need, it's perfectly fine to pass it on to someone else. Don't keep anything out of guilt! Your home should reflect what you like and enjoy.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized, please feel free to contact me at A BETTER SPACE. I will be glad to help you weed through your possessions, eliminate the clutter and assist you in making the right choice as to what to keep and what to get rid of.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Sunday, February 14 2010
Many of us get jewelry on Valentine’s Day from our sweetheart. Did you?How many pieces do you have now? Are they organized? If not, there are various ways you can sort it all out to make it easier to find what you want, when you want it.
You can sort your jewelry by putting all types together. You can keep all your rings in one place, all your necklaces in another place, bracelets somewhere else. You can use various jewelry boxes or decorative containers for this purpose.
You can sort your jewelry by putting them together in sets. For example, your onyx necklace, ring and bracelet can all be stored together in one box.
You can store your jewelry by color groups. You can keep all silver together (avoids tarnishing), your gold jewelry together, or even reds, blues or greens, depending on your collection.
When you are trying to decide which is the best option for you, you need to determine how you would look for your jewelry: by type, sets or color. Then, empty all your current containers and re-organize it by the category you have selected.
Where do you want to keep your jewelry? There are various options available.
You can use your dresser top. Select either beautiful boxes, necklace trees, earring screens or a jewelry box. Just don’t clutter up the surface with too many options. When selecting a jewelry box, look closely at it’s features. If you have lots of necklaces, you want to make sure it has a hanging system. If you have rings, you want to make sure there is a section for the rings to fit into. If you want to separate out your earrings by silver and gold, etc., you want to make sure it has drawers to hold the amount of pieces you have. Then, select a wooden jewelry box that complements your furniture.
You can use your dresser drawers. If you are using dresser drawers, select fabric or velvet covered dividers to keep it all organized and easily accessible. The stackable velvet trays provide many options, depending on your needs and can take up much less room.
You can use your closet. The other option to consider is your closet. You can use a door mounted clear shoe divider to divide up your larger pieces, such as costume jewelry. You can use a wall mounted jewelry organizer. If you have room, you can put a jewelry armoire either in the closet or in the main bedroom area to store your various pieces.
The options are endless but organization is key to keeping everything in good condition and easily accessible.
If this task is too overwhelming, I can help. If you are overwhelmed with any other aspect of organization, let me know. Simply contact A BETTER SPACE.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Sunday, January 10 2010
Now that we have put away the holiday decorations, it's time to focus on some of those New Years resolutions.
A common resolution is to organize your crafts. You enjoy all your crafts but they are stored haphazardly throughout your home. They are in the family room, they are on the dining room table, they are all over the floor in the basement, they are in a pile on the kitchen counter.
It's time to get it together and get them organized!
Here are some suggestions to make your craft place A Better Space:
If you find that you are taking too much time to find the necessary materials and it's affecting your craft-making abilities, it's time to focus your creative energy towards a designated craft room. Keeping your craft supplies organized will save you lots of time - more time to create, less time to locate what you need.
Whether you're into card making, scrap booking or any other type of craft, you'll have more time for the things you love when they are organized.
First rule is to keep all of your supplies and materials in one area of your home, and stick to it! Look around your home.
Select a space that will provide you with sufficient storage space, space to work and, if need be, the ability to watch of your child as you work. Why not designate a space in the playroom? This will keep both of you busy!
If you prefer to have good lighting instead of convenience, set up an area in a well-lighted room.
Are you dealing with a small space? Why not turn a standard closet into a craft closet, to keep things tucked away when you're not working. Depending on the situation, you might be able to put a desk space in the closet with storage overhead to create a craft room. If not, consider using a folding table that you can store away when not in use.
Be sure to organize by hobby. When you have multiple hobbies (and a lot of creative people do), keep things separated. You can use a different shelf, drawer and/or color-coded container for each craft. Try to keep these different items confined to their assigned areas so they are easy to locate when needed. Make sure to put things back in their designated space when finished working on them at the end of the day to keep them organized and distinquished from other craft projects.
Designate a general space in your craft area for items you tend to use in every project - like scissors, glue guns and tape. Store these items in an easy to access area, such as in a drawer or in a box on a shelf over your work space.
Think vertically. Look up! Look down! Utilize all of the available space, without overrunning the home with craft supplies. Think about using wall space for vertical shelving, over door space with clear shoe organizers to hold various supplies and even storage under a bed or table. (If it's visible, use a decorative container.) You will be amazed at how much room you can create for your crafts. Be creative!
If you want to be mobile, think about using on-the-go storage. A rolling cart will give you the flexibility to take your creative works with you. Be sure to select a portable container that can organize your projects and supplies by compartmentalizing them.
Use your imagination to create a place where you can maximize your potential without the distraction of clutter and most importantly, ENJOY!
If you need any assistance with this or any other type of organization, please feel free to contact me. I will be more than happy help.
Have a great week!
Monday, November 23 2009
In my last blog, I talked about how to organize the fridge in preparation for Thanksgiving. So, now that the fridge and freezer are organized, another issue arises AFTER the Thanksgiving feast - what to do with the leftovers.
Sometimes we just keep eating them until they are gone or take them and prepare something else from them -such as turkey soup, etc.
However, sometimes, we want to freeze the leftovers (in our recently organized freezer!) but are not sure what the guidelines are for how long they will last.
When storing your leftovers, select a shallow, air tight meal-sized container that you can clearly label. You want to put the date and the contents on the label for future reference.
Here are the guidelines for how long you can save your leftovers in the freezer:
Turkey meat (removed from the bone).............4 to 6 months
Stuffing.....................................................2 to 3 months
Soups........................................................2 to 3 months
Cranberry Sauce..........................................2 to 3 months
Vegetables.................................................1 year (if blanched)
Cakes, cupcakes and pies..............................2 to 3 months
I hope all of you enjoy your Thanksgiving with family and friends but don't eat too much!
Remember, you can freeze the leftovers!
If you need more assistance with getting your home organized, don't hesitate to contact A Better Space. I will be more than happy to help.