Clutter: Hidden in Plain Sight

 

As you can imagine, my job requires me to be in other people’s homes on a daily basis.

Before starting work for the first time, we do a walk through so that my client can show me around, show me what’s bothering them and talk about what they want organized or “better” organized as the case may be.

What I find interesting is that I see things that they don’t even though to me, it’s obvious.

I think we all, myself included, get so used to our surroundings that we no longer see what others see when they walk into our homes or offices for the first time. Clutter is basically hidden in plain sight:

 

  • The books on the shelf can’t be seen or retrieved because there’s too many framed photos in front of them.
  • There are so many papers or mail on part of the kitchen counter that those living in the home no longer use that space for what it’s intended…LIKE a place to eat.
  • The shelves on top of the cabinets or bookshelves have decorative items that are there because it never occurred to anyone to change them (or, please forgive me … clean them).
  • The garage is full but nobody seems to care because it’s been that way for sooooo long and, isn’t that what the garage is for anyway?
  • The files are exploding in the filing cabinet so you just start putting files elsewhere because there’s no more room.

It usually isn’t until the walls are closing in or someone brings those things to our attention that we do something about it.

FYI, I am one of the most organized people I know (if I don’t say so myself) and it happens in my home too. Even though my home is extremely organized, once a year I have one of my assistants come to my house to assess and provide some suggestions as to how things might work or look better. Each and every year something is changed and the change is always for the better. For me, it makes a world of difference.

These are just a few of the many reasons why hiring a Professional Organizer is helpful. They see things with a fresh set of eyes, provide a new perspective and then implement those changes to maximize efficiency and productivity. Better yet, having someone else help you is much more fun and is so much quicker.

If you are feeling cramped in your space (any space), need an update (think filing system) or a do-over (think garage), give me a call and let’s talk about the many ways we can be of service!

We’re ready when you are. 

5 Great Tips for Parents Whose Kids Are Transitioning from Elementary School to Middle School

Good organization skills can help make the transition from elementary school to middle school go smoother.

Help your child/children stay organized using these simple tips to make the transition less stressful and overwhelming for everyone:

1. Make organizing a part of each day. Organization is a skill that will help the middle school student succeed, not only in school but also in every aspect of their life.
• Work with them to set up systems and routines that will work for them so that they are more inclined to use and stick with them.
o For example: Set a designated place and time for homework.

2. Don’t insist that they get organized your way. There are as many different organizational systems. You just have to find one that works for your child.
• Enlist your child’s help. The idea is to help them discover a way that works for them. Too much “guidance” from you can cause conflict. Offer some options and brainstorm some ideas together.
o For example: Figure out a calendaring system with them so that they’ll use it to stay up to date on their assignments.

3. A place for everything and everything in its place. At home, they should have a place for all of their belongings, not just schoolwork.
• Educate them/show them how to pick-up after themselves. It is important that they pick up their things and return them to their proper place when they’re done using them.
o For example: Pick a place that will work for them to leave their backpack so that they don’t forget it when they leave in the morning. Perhaps a hook in the mudroom…

4. Be a role model. Practice what you preach and lead by example.
• Stay organized at home to lead by example.
o For example: Keep a family calendar.

5. Be there for your child.
• Offer support by checking in to see if they need help with homework. Remember that students in middle school need to become independent so don’t supply them with the answers.
o For example: If you see that they’re not able to keep up, hire a tutor before they fall too far behind

Bottom line is that being organized will make their life and yours so much easier!

Recycling Tips- Do’s and Don’ts

Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. It is an alternative to “conventional” waste disposal that can save material and help lower greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling can prevent the waste of potentially useful materials and reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, thereby reducing: energy usage, air pollution (from incineration), and water pollution (from landfilling).

While most of us try to do what we can to recycle, more often than I’d like to admit, I see people putting all the wrong things in the recycling bins. So, here’s a few “Do’s and Don’ts” about recycling if you really want to do your share to protect the environment.

ITEMS THAT CAN GO IN THE BLUE BINS:
Paper: All clean dry paper, including:
• Computer paper
• Ledger paper
• Arts and craft paper
• Unwanted mail
• Flyers
• Telephone books
• Note cards
• Newspaper
• Magazines
• File folders
• Paper bags
• Post-it notes
• Catalogs
• All envelopes, including those with windows

Cardboard: All cardboard boxes and chipboard, including:
• Cereal boxes
• Tissue boxes
• Dry food boxes
• Frozen food boxes
• Shoe boxes
• Detergent boxes
• Paper towel and toilet paper rolls
• Cardboard boxes (broken down and flattened)

Cartons: All refrigerated, shelf-stable, aseptic packaging, including:
• Fruit juice boxes and cartons
• Orange juice cartons
• Milk cartons
• Wine boxes
• Cereal boxes
• Heavy cream cartons
• Egg substitute cartons

Metals: All aluminum, tin, metal, and bi-metal cans, wiped out if possible, including:
• Soda cans
• Juice cans
• Soup cans
• Vegetables cans
• Pet food cans
• Pie tins
• Clean aluminum foil
• Empty paint and aerosol cans
• Wire hangers

Glass: All glass bottles and jars, wiped out if possible, including:
• Soda bottles
• Wine bottles
• Beer bottles
• Spaghetti sauce jars
• Pickle jars
• Broken bottles

Plastics: Empty plastic containers, wiped out if possible, including:
• Soda bottles
• Juice bottles
• Detergent containers
• Bleach containers
• Shampoo bottles
• Lotion bottles
• Mouthwash bottles
• Dishwashing liquid bottles
• Milk jugs
• Tubs for margarine and yogurt
• Plastic planters
• Food and blister packaging
• Rigid clamshell packaging
• All clean plastic bags (grocery bags, dry cleaner bags, and film plastics)
• All clean polystyrene products (plates, cups, containers, egg cartons, block packaging, and packing materials)
• Plastic hangers
• Non-electric plastic toys
• Plastic swimming pools
• Plastic laundry baskets
• Car seats (cloth removed)

ITEMS THAT SHOULD NOT BE PUT IN THE BLUE BIN:
If the following items are put in the recycling container, there’s a likelihood of contaminating the other clean materials. Placing a non-recyclable item in the recycling bin often results in the entire bin getting tossed in the trash. Here are some items that should be left out of the recycle bin.

Contaminated Paper: Heavily soiled papers or bags with oils or food waste.

That old pizza box may be made of cardboard and it might even have a recycling logo on it, but that doesn’t mean it belongs in the bin. This is because old pizza boxes, like so many other used products, get dirty during their lifetime and lose their recycling qualities. Contaminants like grease and glue will actually disrupt the processes needed to extract raw materials and will ruin an entire batch of materials intended to be recycled. When sanitation workers find a single contaminated product, in order not to contaminate the larger batch, they will toss the entire load of recycling into the trash.

• Food covered plastic cups
• Food covered cardboard
• Used paper towels
• Used paper cups/plates
• Shredded paper
• Colored Construction Paper

Glass:
• Window glass
• Mirror glass
• Auto glass
• Standard light bulbs
• Crystal
• Ceramics

Miscellaneous Materials:
• Cloth/fabric
• Mini blinds
• Kitchen utensils
• Lawn furniture
• Garden hoses
• Rubber tires
• Construction materials, including asphalt or concrete, wood and wood products

Electronic Waste:
• All electronic devices
• Electrical cords and wiring
• Electric or battery-operated toys
• Appliances
• Compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs
• All batteries (including car batteries, household batteries, and rechargeable batteries)

E-waste is accepted at the curbside by special appointment or by drop-off at S.A.F.E. Centers and Mobile Collection Events.

Hazardous Materials:
• Syringes and needles
• Medical waste
• Drugs (pills, liquids, gel caps, vials, and injectables)
• All partially filled aerosol cans and containers for cleaning fluids, automotive fluids, pesticides, oil-based paint, garden chemicals, and pool cleaners

Household hazardous waste (HHW) can be taken to S.A.F.E. Centers and Mobile Collection Events.

NOTE: Danger to Recycling Machines:
Discarded items undergo a lengthy process before they can be reused. There is a tremendous amount of sorting that needs to be done before products can return to a raw material stage. The machines that do this work break down just like any other machine that might be used. This means that workers need to take special precautions with what they place in them to prevent any potential damage.

So, when it comes to recycling, when it doubt, leave it out. For more information about recycling, go to: https://www.glad.com/teachable-trash/what-can-and-cannot-be-recycled/#yE7lc8IKvey2Iual.99

Of course, there are other ways to recycle as well. For example, you can re-use items many times over before discarding (ie. plastic water bottles and plastic bags)

You can also use something for a purpose other than that item’s intended purpose (ie. an egg crate can serve as a great way to store earrings)

Give something to someone else who can use what you don’t want or need so it doesn’t wind up in the trash.

There are countless ways to recycle. I just wanted you to be more aware of the Do’s and Don’ts that we either never knew or perhaps just forgot.

If you find this article interesting, please share it with your friends, family and co-workers.

Thank you!

Top 10 Reasons to Get Rid of Things

top ten reasons to get rid of things

Top 10 list

We all have too much stuff. The fact is, we never use 80% of what we own.

Below is a top ten list of reasons to help you make the decision to “get rid of it”:

1. You don’t need it anymore – You’re over it.
2. Someone else does need it – Cell phones, for example, are frequentlly refurbished and given to victims of domestic violence.
3. There’s just too much stuff – If there’s no place to put it, get rid of it!
4. It doesn’t work anymore – FYI, chances are the parts can probably be recycled.
5. It doesn’t fit you anymore – Whether you’ve lost weight or gained weight, whatever the case may be, get rid of it. You can get a tax deduction for donations.
6. It no longer suits your lifestyle -You’re moving, redecorating or downsizing or, you’re just ready for a new look.
7. You can get value from it – Sell it on e-bay, donate it and get a tax deduction, have a garage sale or set up an estate sale.
8. Less stuff makes your life easier. There’s less to clean. Getting rid of clutter will reduce housework by 40%.
9. It’s expired -Oh, just get rid of it.
10. Because “Less is More” -Ludwig Miles van der Rohe

If you’re still not sure whether you should get rid of it or not, ask yourself the following questions:

Papers
1. Is the information still current?
2. Can the document be duplicated if needed?
3. What is the worst thing that can happen if I get rid of it?
4. Is it a duplicate?
5. How long do I need to keep it?
6. Do I need it for tax, legal, insurance, or warranty issues?
7. Can I find the information some place else?

Clothing
1. Do I love it?
2. Does it fit?
3. Is it too worn?
4. Is it out of style?
5. Do I feel great in it?
6. Does it match anything else?

Other Items
1. Is it broken?
2. Do I use it?
3. Will I really need it?
4. Does it make others happy to see it?
5. If I keep it, will I remember I have it?
6. If I was moving, would I want to pay to have it packed and shipped?
7. Can I borrow or purchase another one if I need it?
8. Does it make me happy?
9. Am I keeping it because someone else gave it to me even though I don’t like it?

Get started today by getting rid of the things that either have no value (sentimental or monetary) or no longer have a place in your life. Ready, Set, Go!

Bins, Bins and More Bins

Bins, bins, and more bins. Seems like every time I speak to a prospective client one of the questions is inevitably going to be “How many bins should I get”. The next question is usually “Where should I get bins?”.

As a Professional Organizer you would think that I would love bins. For the most part I do and they do serve a purpose BUT, bins can also create more problems than their worth. Here are some explanations that I’m guessing most of you haven’t considered:

The downside:
• Bins typically become dumping grounds for all kinds of random items, even if the bin is properly labeled.
• Bins, especially large ones, are too cumbersome and usually wind up at the bottom of a heap of other bins and are not easily accessible.
• Bins that aren’t stackable create problems when dealing with limited space.
• People don’t understand the different types of bins and falsely believe that if something is contained in a bin, especially a plastic bin, then it must be protected (Note* See below for additional explanation). This can be problematic when someone discovers, after storing something valuable, that it was not protected as they had thought.

Obviously, there are many good reasons for having and using bins. Bins are one of many tools/supplies that people can use for organizing.

The upside:
• Bins can serve as great storage solutions.
• Bins can maximize your storage space (for example, under the bed storage bins).
• Bins, if you choose the right ones, can protect and preserve important items.
• Bins, if and when properly used, can help keep small items together and from getting out of control (ie, hair accessories, small office supplies like staples, paper clips, push pins, crafting supplies).

It is important to note that all bins are NOT created equal. Believe it or not there are many types of plastic bins. Just because you put something in a plastic bin does not mean that the contents will be protected. For example, if you want to protect memorabilia and you’re putting it in the garage, you may want to consider a bin that is “air-tight” or “water-tight” depending on what you intend to store. They cost more than a regular plastic bin but they protect the contents from moisture and critters.

Quick question: How many of you reading this even knew that air-tight or water-tight bins were an option?

Explanation: Airtight storage bins prevent items from water damage. Watertight storage bins work well in a moist basement or in a humid attic where items may become damp over time. These airtight storage bins have a foam strip in the lid which prevents moisture from getting in. The latching lids work to suction the lid onto the air tight container, to secure the lid to the top of the airtight storage bin. You can use airtight plastic containers for important files, clothes, family photos, collectibles or any item that you wish to preserve. You can also get extra piece of mind knowing that items in your basement or garage are being stored properly and protected from the elements.

As a rule of thumb, we usually suggest that people first use what they have before buying any more bins. In fact, that most people usually have whatever we need on hand (other than the air-tight/water-tight bins) and don’t even know it. We make use of many household items that serve as bins and work just as good. For example, we use the boxes that checks come in for office drawers to organize small items like pens or binder clips. We can use egg crates to store earrings, tupper-ware for small items that need to be contained. This list goes on.

So, next time you feel that you need to run out and buy a bin to help with an organizing project, remember to check first to see what you have on hand. If you determine that you might need a bin or two, think about out what you intend to use it for so that you get the right kind, size and color.

As always, if you are in need of any assistance with your organizing project, give us a call. We would LOVE to be of service!

3 Top Trending Organizing Styles

NAPO professional organizers association
We all have our different ways of organizing. Of course, I’m assuming (and we all know what implications that has) that there is some form of organization in your world. One can hope right?

Some people fold their clothes and put them away in drawers while others hang everything. Some people fold clothes, others roll their clothes. Some people file while others pile. There are so many options! There are countless ways to organize so do whatever works for you as long as you do something.

The Organizing industry is getting a lot of attention these days. There are TV shows (Enough Already and The Hoarding Show); literature (See books by Peter Walsh, organizer to the Stars and countless other authors) and entire stores (The Container Store) dedicated to anything related to organizing. More than ever before, people are talking about how important getting and being organized really is.

Here is some information about the 3 top trending organizing methods that are getting a lot of press these days (in no particular order). Maybe you’ve heard about them, maybe not. For those of you who aren’t in the loop about the latest organizing trends or want more information about them, this is for you.

• The KonMari Method™: KonMari, originated by Marie Kondo, is a way of life and a state of mind that supports cherishing the things that spark joy in people’s lives. As such, people are encouraged to part with anything that doesn’t spark joy. Belongings are acknowledged for their service and thanked before being let go of if they no longer spark joy.

KonMari places great importance on being mindful, introspective, and optimistic. Read more about The “KonMari” method of simplifying and organizing in Marie Kondo’s bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

• Swedish Death Cleaning: In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning, a combination of the word dö meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning”, aka the art of death cleaning.

Margareta Magnusson, author of the book, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Make Your Loved Ones’ Lives Easier and Your On Life More Pleasant” suggests that, once you reach the end of middle age, you get rid of all the stuff you’ve accumulated that you don’t need any more so that no one else has to do it for you after you pass. Once people reach a certain age, many know that eventually, even before they face death, they may end up having to deal with some disability that forces them to downsize or move out of their homes. Margareta suggests that this is a chance to go through your belongings and distribute them on your own terms.

• Minimalism: Minimalism is another organizing method that has received great interest. Brought into the public eye by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so that you can find happiness, fulfillment and freedom. We tend to give too much meaning to our things, often neglecting our health, our relationships, our passions and our personal growth.

Minimalism is based on the notion that happiness doesn’t come from stuff, but rather from relationships and experiences. So, when you get rid of the excess stuff surrounding you, you can better identify those things that are really important to you and what brings you pleasure in your life. Therefore, it’s up to each of us to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous in our lives.

While I don’t “follow” any of these methods in their entirety, I do try to incorporate the best parts of them all when I’m working with my clients to help them get organized or “better” organized, as the case may be. I take what works for me and my clients and apply it accordingly.

If you or someone you know is interested in getting organized, better organized or just wants to go through their stuff and get rid of the surplus, give me a call. We would LOVE to be of service!