Clutter vs Collection: What’s the Difference

Clutter and a collection are two different concepts that refer to the arrangement and organization, or lack thereof, of items. Here are some key differences between them: Clutter is disorderly and can negatively affect the aesthetics and functionality of a space, while a Collection is purposeful, organized and adds value or significance to a space.

Clutter refers to a disorganized and messy accumulation of various items or objects in a space. It’s often characterized by an excessive amount of things that are not properly organized or have no clear purpose. Clutter can make a space feel chaotic, look untidy and make it difficult to navigate. It might include items that are not used, broken, simply not well-maintained or have no clear purpose. Clutter can also have a negative impact on mental well-being and productivity as it can create a sense of unease, lead to a visual sense of overwhelm and distract from the tasks at hand. It can hinder productivity, increase stress and make it challenging to find things when needed.

Collections, on the other hand, refer to a purposefully curated group of items that are intentionally gathered together and organized based on a common theme, interest or value. Collections are often displayed in a way that showcases the items’ value or significance or beauty. Collections can be based on various themes including art, books, stamps, coins, memorabilia or any other items that hold personal or cultural value to the collector. Collections are organized with care and can bring a sense of joy, pride and satisfaction to the collector. They are often displayed and maintained in an organized manner to highlight the uniqueness and significance of each item within the collection.

Sometimes, however, collections can turn into clutter if or when they get out-of-control.  Remember that one of the significant differences is not the quantity but, rather, how it is kept and organized.   If you have a collection, by all means display it so that you can enjoy it.  But, make sure that your collection has a space that is conducive to the quantity of that collection to avoid the appearance of clutter.

If you don’t have room for your collection and it winds up in boxes or in the garage it is possible that something you once collected is no longer of interest to you.  If you are not displaying your collection, it is no longer providing the intended joy, pride and satisfaction. If that is the case, let it go. Consider selling or donating the collection.

In summary, clutter represents a messy and unorganized accumulation of items that may lack purpose, while a collection is a purposefully curated and organized grouping of items that share a common theme or interest. The key distinction lies in the intention, organization, and value attributed to the objects within the space.

Sometimes, It’s Not All About You

As a Professional Organizer I often come across situations that are just too overwhelming for people to undertake. Maybe it’s the garage. Maybe it’s the boxes or bins of memorabilia that you saved of your child’s artwork throughout the years. Maybe it’s just all the stuff you’ve accumulated over time.
Things have gotten out-of-control and it’s just too overwhelming. I get it! Sometimes, it’s all too much. The thing is, the stuff is not going away by itself. Someone has to do something about it or it will continue to grow and get out-of-hand or, at the very least, stay the same, which is still too much.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met with clients who have been unwilling or unable to downsize and get things under control, only to leave it all behind for their loved ones to deal with. I have even had clients tell me straight out, “Let my kids deal with it when I’m gone”.
All I can say is, while that is an option, it’s really not the best one. It’s best to make decisions about your stuff while you still can. Furthermore, it’s not fair to leave all of it for someone else to deal with. Especially those that you love.
It is so important for you to make sure that you’re not leaving your children or loved ones with a ton of stuff to go through when your time on earth is through.  It’s difficult enough for them having to deal with the loss. Imagine how difficult it would be for them to now have to figure out what to do with all the stuff you left behind. Moreover, it is time consuming and quite expensive.
As I’ve said so many times in my newsletters (FYI, if you’re new to my email list head on over to my blog which includes all newsletters dating back to 2010 organizing and downsizing is a process and should be done consistently on a daily, if not regular basis.
So, here’s some suggestions to get a jump on things so that you don’t leave this all behind for your loved ones to deal with:
1.     Paperwork: Go through and get rid of old files, documents, recipes, newspaper clippings from long ago. You can do this a little at a time so that it’s not overwhelming.  If you don’t know what to keep, what to toss or what to shred, check with your CPA. If you don’t want to do this, call me. We’d love to help.
2.     Parents: When your children visit, make some time to go through the memorabilia you’ve been saving for them. Let them decide what they want and toss the rest. You might even consider making them a lovely book of the artwork and give it to them as a gift. Call me for the name of the company that provides this service.
3.     Everyone: Go through your home, inside and outside, and get rid of anything that is ripped, soiled, stained, missing a piece, no longer useful or broken. It’s of no use any longer, it’s just taking up space.
4.     Ladies: Go through your make-up and toss the old stuff. Old expired make-up is not good for you anyway.
5.     Gentleman: Toss the deflated balls, the rusty old tools and the athletic equipment you can’t or don’t use anymore.
6.     Working people: Figure out which electronic devices are no longer in working order. Gather those old computer towers that have important information on them but you can no longer access. Contact your IT service or bring them to the Geek Squad to retrieve the important info and toss the old equipment. They’re taking up valuable real estate in your office.
7.     Homeowners: Oh yeah, let’s not forget the garage. If you’re not parking your car in there, it’s time to tackle this area.  Think about it…you’re paying thousands and thousands for the car and parking it on the street and protecting the “stuff” in your garage instead.  How does that make sense?
8.     Storage: Ugh. It’s just not worth it. It costs a fortune and, you probably can’t access what you need anyway.  Unless you’re storing things temporarily due to a move or remodel, you need to re-evaluate the storage unit. If it doesn’t fit in your home, perhaps you don’t need it. Your call but definitely something to think about.
9.     Retired folks: Do you really need all of those office supplies that you used to use?  Why not give them to those that can use them? Donate to a school, church, synagogue, Good Samaritans, etc.  It will make you feel good to give something to someone in need.
10.   All together now: We are all guilty of having expired medications and expired food. Go through and discard old lotions/potions and healthcare items.  Take time to go through your pantry and freezer and get rid of the food with freezer burn and the cans that are about to explode. Time to discard the old and free up some space.
Again, none of this has to be done in one day BUT, start somewhere. Pick a corner and start making decisions. Or, start with a category…tackle the gardening supplies or the party supplies you haven’t touched in years.  Or, once again, call us. It’s what we do!
I get that none of this is fun BUT I promise you will feel a lot better when you do any one of the above. It just feels better. So, make some time this summer to get some STUFF done.  Do if for the people you love so that they won’t have to!
If you or anyone you know needs help with Organizing, Downsizing, Relocations, Estate Sales or Clearing a Property, let them know that we’d love to be of service!

Preparation For Students Going To College For The First Time

Preparing a student for their first time going to college can greatly enhance their chances of success. However, the transition to college can be challenging. With proper preparation and support, first-time students can thrive and make the most of their college experience.

Supporting their academic, emotional, financial and practical needs will help them feel prepared and confident as they embark on their college journey. Here are some important steps to help students get ready for college:

1. Understand admission requirements: Make sure students are aware of the admission requirements for their chosen colleges, including GPA, standardized test scores (such as SAT or ACT), and any additional application materials. Help them create a timeline to stay organized and meet all deadlines.

2. Campus resources: Students should familiarize themselves with the various resources available on campus. These may include academic advising, counseling services, libraries, writing centers and career development centers. Knowing where to find support will greatly benefit their college experience.

3. Housing arrangements: Discuss on-campus housing options, explore the application process and assist the student in submitting their housing application.

4. Packing: Create a checklist of essential items they’ll need for their dorm or apartment, such as bedding, kitchen supplies, school supplies and personal items.

5. Financial planning: College can be expensive, so it’s crucial for students and their family to discuss financial planning. It’s important to explore financial aid options, including scholarships, grants and loans. Encourage students to apply for relevant scholarships to help alleviate the financial burden.

6. Study habits: College coursework can be demanding. It’s important for students to develop good and effective study habits. Taking thorough notes and seeking help when and if needed to maintain a consistent study schedule, will be extremely helpful.

7. Communication skills: Strong communication skills are essential in college and beyond. Students will need to practice effective verbal and written communication, as they will need to interact with professors, classmates and potential employers. Encourage them to join clubs or organizations that promote public speaking and writing skills.

8. Independence: College offers newfound independence. As such, students will need to navigate their academic and personal lives. They will need to take responsibility for their own actions, manage their schedules and know if/when to seek help from professors or campus resources when needed. Balancing academics and social life and making responsible decisions is essential. Encourage the student to attend orientation programs, connect with potential roommates or classmates, and join student organizations to build a support network.

9. Financial management: Educate the student on budgeting, banking and financial responsibility, including managing expenses, creating a savings plan and understanding credit cards. 

10. Critical thinking and problem-solving: College coursework often requires critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Encourage students to engage in activities that enhance these skills, such debates or analytical writing exercises and to take challenging courses that promote critical thinking.

11. Diverse environment: College campuses are diverse, with students from various backgrounds. Students should be open-minded and respectful of others’ perspectives and cultures. Understanding the importance of diversity and how it enriches the college experience, is so important.

12. Mental and physical health: College life can be stressful, so emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Encourage students to prioritize self-care, stress management, engage in regular physical activity, seek counseling services if needed and develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress.

13. Medical preparations: Makes sure that the student has completed all required medical forms, vaccinations or health screenings. Help them understand their health insurance coverage and locate healthcare services on or near campus.

NOTE:   Please make sure that they execute a Health Care Directive prior to leaving for college. Once your child is 18 years old, they are considered to be an adult and, if something were to happen, you will not be able to make a critical decision on their behalf.

If you or anyone you know needs help with Organizing, Downsizing, Relocations, Estate Sales or Clearing a Property, let them know that we’d love to be of service!

All About Car Organizing. Yes! It’s a Thing

Car organizing refers to the process of arranging and managing items and belongings inside a car to optimize space, enhance efficiency and maintain cleanliness.

Car organization can help you reduce clutter, keep essential items easily accessible and minimize the risk of an accident.

Here are some tips for organizing your car so that you’ll always know where to find things when you need them.

  1. Remove unnecessary items: Start by de-cluttering your car and remove any items that you don’t need. Keep a small trash container or bag inside the car to collect any waste. Empty it regularly to maintain cleanliness.
  2. Utilize storage solutions: Invest in car organizers such as seat-back organizers, console organizers and trunk organizers to store your belongings. These organizers typically have multiple compartments and pockets to hold various items.
  3. Designated spots: Assign specific areas for different types of items. For example, use the cup holder for your drinks, a center console for small essentials and the glove compartment for important documents.
  4. Storage compartments: Most cars have storage compartments like glove boxes, door pockets and under-seat storage. Use these spaces to store items such as car manuals, registration documents, tissues and/or an umbrella.
  5. Use cargo nets or bins: Consider using cargo nets and/or bins in the trunk area to secure loose items and prevent them from rolling around. This is especially useful for groceries or smaller items that can easily shift.
  6. Maintenance: Make it a habit to regularly organize your car. Take a few minutes each week to remove any trash or other items that don’t need to remain in the car and reorganize as needed. By removing trash you prevent dirt and debris from accumulating. This helps preserve the interior materials, prevents unpleasant odors and retain the value of your car.

Organizing your car offers several benefits as well. Here are just a few:

  1. Efficiency: An organized car allows you to locate and access items quickly and easily. When you know where things are, you can find what you need without wasting time searching. This efficiency can be especially important when you’re on the road and need to retrieve items safely while driving.
  2. Safety: A clutter-free car minimizes the risk of accidents caused by objects rolling around and becoming potential hazards while driving. Loose items can shift and distract you or interfere with the operation of pedals or controls.
  3. Preparedness: Having an organized car allows you to be prepared for various situations. Essential items such as first-aid kits, emergency supplies and roadside assistance tools will be easily accessible. This can be crucial during unexpected events like breakdowns, accidents or adverse weather conditions.You can purchase a pre-made kit or create your own but do make sure to have one in the car!
  4. Image and Professionalism: If you use your car for business purposes or frequently have passengers, maintaining an organized car creates a positive impression. A clean and well-organized vehicle conveys professionalism, attention to detail and care for your passengers’ comfort.
  5. Resale Value: An organized and well-maintained car generally has a higher resale value. When it comes time to sell or trade in your vehicle, potential buyers or dealerships appreciate a clean and organized interior, which can positively influence the valuation of your car.

Overall, organizing your car enhances convenience, safety and comfort, while also reflecting positively on your image and potentially increasing its value.

Remember, the key is to find organizing solutions that work best for your specific car and personal needs. Experiment with different storage options and adapt them as necessary to maintain a clean and organized vehicle.

If you or anyone you know needs help with Organizing, Downsizing, Relocations, Estate Sales or Clearing a Property, let them know that we’d love to be of service!

Did You Know That There Are Different Types of Clutter? Let’s Talk About Physical Clutter

Did You Know That There Are Different Types of Clutter? Let’s Talk About Physical Clutter

I’ve already posted about three of the four categories so, let’s get into the last category, Physical Clutter.

Physical clutter refers to the presence of excessive and/or disorganized items in a physical space, such as a room, office or home, that can make the space appear messy, chaotic and overwhelming.

Physical clutter can negatively affect productivity, increase stress and make it difficult to locate and use items effectively. Physical clutter can also contribute to visual, mental and emotional stress, making it difficult to navigate and use a space effectively. Physical clutter can be in the form of papers, books, clothes, toys, tools, furniture, decorations, and any other objects that are scattered or piled up in an unorganized manner, taking up valuable space and creating visual and mental distractions.

Physical clutter can be recognized by several characteristics, including:

  1. Disorganization: A space that lacks organization when items are scattered, piled up or randomly stored. For example, clothes thrown on the floor, papers stacked haphazardly or items piled up on surfaces like countertops or tables are signs of physical clutter.
  2. Congestion: When a space feels crowded, cramped or congested due to an excess of items. For example, overcrowded shelves, closets or drawers, or a lack of clear pathways to move around a room due to too many items.
  3. Difficulty finding or accessing items: If you struggle to locate or access items easily due to clutter or spend excessive time searching for items, misplacing items frequently or feeling frustrated due to not being able to find what you need when you need, these are all indicators of physical clutter.
  4. Visual distraction: A space that feels visually overwhelming or chaotic due to the presence of numerous items is indicative of physical clutter. Too many items competing for attention, visual busyness, or a lack of visual harmony in a space is considered to be physical clutter.
  5. Reduced functionality: When items are disorganized or piled up, it can hinder the efficient use of the space, making it challenging to perform tasks or activities effectively.
  6. Emotional impact: Physical clutter can also have an emotional impact such as increased stress, feelings of being overwhelmed or a sense of unease in the space. The presence of excessive items in a space can negatively affect your emotions or mental well-being.

Recognizing physical clutter involves being mindful of the state of a space and being aware of the impact it has on the organization, functionality, and aesthetics of that space. Identifying these signs can be a helpful first step in addressing physical clutter.

Clearing physical clutter can help create a more organized, visually appealing, and functional environment. Here are some steps you can take to get physical clutter under control:

  1. Assess the situation: Take a careful look at the space and identify areas or items that are cluttered. This can include piles of items, belongings that are not being used, or objects that are disorganized or out of place.
  2. Set goals: Determine what you want to achieve with decluttering and organizing. Set realistic goals and prioritize areas or items that need immediate attention.
  3. Create a plan: Develop a plan of action to tackle the clutter. Break it down into smaller tasks, such as decluttering one area or category at a time, and create a timeline or schedule to keep yourself on track.
  4. Declutter: Begin by sorting through items and decide what to keep, donate, sell or discard. Be honest with yourself and let go of items that you no longer need, use or love. Keep only the items that are truly necessary, functional, and meaningful.
  5. Organize: Once you have decluttered, assign specific places for items to be stored based on their frequency of use and functionality. Use storage solutions such as shelves, cabinets, drawers, baskets or bins to keep items organized and accessible. Labels would be great too!
  6. Simplify: Minimize the number of items you have and keep surfaces clear as much as possible. Avoid overloading shelves, countertops or other surfaces with excessive items, as it can contribute to visual clutter.
  7. Maintain: Regularly revisit and maintain your newly organized space(s). Put items back in their designated places after use, avoid accumulating unnecessary items, and periodically review and declutter to prevent future clutter from building up.
  8. Seek help if needed: If decluttering and organizing feels overwhelming or challenging, consider enlisting the help of a friend, family member or Professional Organizer to provide support, guidance and motivation.

Taking steps to rectify physical clutter can help create a more organized, functional and visually appealing space that can promote productivity, reduce stress and improve overall well-being. However, it is important to remember that decluttering and organizing are ongoing processes. It’s important to develop habits of maintaining an organized environment to prevent physical clutter from re-accumulating.

If you or anyone you know needs help with Organizing, Downsizing, Relocations, Estate Sales or Clearing a Property, let them know that we’d love to be of service!

Did You Know That There Are Different Types of Clutter? Let’s Talk About Paper Clutter

Did You Know That There Are Different Types of Clutter? Let’s Talk About Paper Clutter

YUP. There are. In fact, clutter falls into 4 Separate Categories.

 1.  Physical Clutter is the collection of things you don’t use and don’t care for. This type of clutter is often scattered around your home and office and results in an untidy mess. More often than not, lost and misplaced items are caused from physical clutter.

 2.  Paper Clutter is one of the most frustrating challenges people encounter. When you have piles of paper, it becomes extremely difficult to locate important documents like bills, medical documents, tax papers, passports, etc. Not to mention the fact that piles of unread papers, newspapers, magazines, catalogs, and other random paper make a home look and feel messy.

 3.  Digital Clutter is found on computers, cell phones, tablets, and other electronic devices. It often consists of voicemail, email, user names, passwords, social media etc.

 4.  Emotional Clutter is the clutter we hold within our mind and heart. It’s feelings and emotions people deal with each day, like: negativity, anxiety, worry, stress, frustration, and fear.

I’ve already posted about two of the four categories so, let’s get into the Paper Clutter Category.

Paper clutter is any paper-based material that is not organized or stored properly. This can include mail, magazines, newspapers, receipts, bills, notes or other documents that are lying around cluttering up physical spaces such as desks and countertops and yes, sometimes the dining room table. 

Paper clutter can quickly accumulate and become overwhelming, making it difficult to find important documents when needed. It can and often does increase stress levels, and create a sense of disorganization and chaos.

 Paper clutter can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • A lack of organization
  • Not having a designated place to store important documents
  • Not having a system for filing papers
  • Not having a regular schedule for purging old documents and,
  • Not having a plan for dealing with incoming mail.

Dealing with paper clutter can be overwhelming, but there are several steps you can take to get it under control. Here are a few tips:

  1. Create a filing system: Create a filing system that works for you. This could include a filing cabinet to store important documents. Of course, you should also consider using file folders and label them appropriately so that you can find what you need when you need it.
  2. Digitize: Scan important documents and store them electronically to reduce the physical amount of paper. Remember when you’re storing documents electronically to name them so that they can be easily retrieved.
  3. Purge regularly: Regularly go through your paper clutter and get rid of anything that is no longer needed. Make sure to shred anything with an account number on it and, also, any solicitations with a QR code or RSVP invitation #.
  4. Set up a mail station: Set up a mail station in your home where you can sort through mail and discard junk. I highly recommend that this station is vertical so that you can see the mail without having to sift through piles of paper.
  5. Sort through your paper: Start by gathering all the paper clutter in one place and sort them into piles based on their purpose or category. For instance, you could have piles for bills to be paid, tax documents, things that need to get done, etc. 
  6. Reduce incoming paper: Sign up for electronic billing and statements to reduce the amount of paper that comes into your home. You can also request to be removed from junk mail lists. 
  7. Set up a daily routine: Establish a daily routine for dealing with incoming mail and papers. Set aside time each day to sort through your mail, pay bills and to file documents. 

Remember that getting paper clutter under control takes time and effort. Be patient and persistent and you will soon have a more organized and stress-free home or office. The trick is to maintain that space once it’s organized. If you make time each day, just a few minutes, staying organized will be easier.

If you or anyone you know needs help with Organizing, Downsizing, Relocations, Estate Sales or Clearing a Property, let them know that we’d love to be of service!