Did You Know That Getting Organized Is One Of The Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions?

top ten reasons to get rid of things

Top 10 list

If you’re like most people, you’ve either thought of or actually made a New Year’s Resolution. Believe it or not, organizing is right up there in the top 10 list of resolutions. Yup, it’s true! Getting organized, or better organized as the case may be, is one of the top ten New Year’s Resolutions and has been for a really long time.

The problem is, and I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know, that most people don’t stick with it. Whether it’s losing weight, eating healthier, going to the gym or getting organized, which are all great resolutions, it’s difficult to actually stay on track.

So, whatever your New Year’s Resolution is to make this year better than last, here’s some great tips to help you stay on track:

1. Determine what the goal is. If losing weight is the goal, determine how much weight so there is a definitive goal. Know what your end game is.

2. Make a plan. You know the saying “a goal without a plan is just a wish”. Put time on your calendar to get it (whatever “it” is) done. Check your schedule and make time in your day that works best for you. Even if you only have a few minutes, it’s better than nothing and it’s still inching you towards the goal.

3. Break “it” down into actionable steps. If organizing is the goal (sorry, I couldn’t help myself with this example), determine what area(s) you want to organize. Let’s say it’s organizing the garage. Instead of trying to tackle it all in one day, try first looking at the garage and determine what can be thrown away immediately (garbage, empty boxes, broken furniture). Then figure out what you want to donate and put those items together. Now that you’ve got more room in the garage you can move on to the next step. It’s a process and does NOT need to get done in one day. Take the time and get organized little by little. Eventually you’ll get there.

4. Learn to say “NO”. It will free up some time to do the things that are important to you.

5. Delegate. If you don’t want to do something, give it to someone else to do. Sometimes you’ll have to pay someone else but that’s okay. You can’t do it all!

6. Ask for Help. It’s okay to ask for help if you want it or need it. If you have a significant other or a friend that can help, ask them! The worst that can happen is that they’ll say no. Then, if necessary, hire someone.

7. Make it fun. Put on some music. Set a timer to see how much you were able to accomplish during that time. Reward yourself when you’re finished (but only when you’re finished).

8. Invite a Friend. Getting a friend or someone else to participate is a great idea. It’s not only more fun but it will keep you accountable.

9. Set a deadline. Figure out realistically how long this project should take. Make an appointment with yourself (yes, that’s a thing) and put it on your calendar. If it’s on your calendar it’s more likely to get done. Set reminders along the way.

10. Just do it! Whether your resolution is getting back to the gym or getting “better” organized there’s no time like the present to make it happen.

I think that people make resolutions, especially New Year’s Resolutions, because they really want to accomplish something that they haven’t been able to do. Make 2022 the year you actually do it. It’s not that hard. It just takes some a goal, a plan and some action.

If you need help, give us a call. We’d love to be of service!

Great Tips for Getting & Staying Organizing While Traveling During the Holidays (or Anytime)

Vacations are supposed to be fun! However, it’s hard to relax when you’re thinking about all the things you have to do. There are so many things to remember and so many things to do before you leave and when you get back.

However, just in case you get overwhelmed, here are some tips to help you get it under control:

PERSONAL:
• Plan: Make a list of the things you need to do. Keep this list with you so that you can refer to it while you’re out and about.
• Calendar: Schedule some time on your calendar when you can and will actually do the thing on your list. (See #1 above)
• Easy Does it: If you’re overwhelmed with the amount of things on your list, break it down into smaller, more do-able pieces. You don’t have to do it all in one day.
• Consolidate: When planning and calendaring, group items in the same area together.
• Delegate: Your husband, your children, your significant other or another family member who will be involved in the festivities can and hopefully will be happy to help. LET THEM! After-all, the holidays are for everyone.
• Call in the Pros: You don’t have to do it all. Free up some time by hiring someone to do something that you just don’t want to do. One thing that comes to mind is to hire a cleaning crew instead of doing it yourself.
• Re-think it: Maybe you don’t have to do something that was on your list. Just because you did it last year or the last several years doesn’t mean you have to do it every year. If there was something that didn’t work out or wasn’t necessary, cross it off your list.
• Get started: The earlier you start, the less stressful it will be. Sh-t happens so give yourself ample time.
• Make it fun: Listen to great music while you’re doing whatever it is that’s on your list; ask a friend to meet you for lunch when you’re in between your errands; treat yourself to something nice when you’ve completed something on your list.
• Take an extra day before heading back to work to regroup and catch-up on your life. Use the extra day to get things done at home so that you can focus on work when you return to the office.

TRAVEL CHECK LIST:

This comprehensive list will help you remember some of the important things you need to do and items you’ll need before you leave home:

• Make a list of all of the things you want to take & check them off as you put them in your suitcase.
• If you’re going to be gone for more than a few days, notify the post office and arrange for them to hold your mail.
• Give someone close to you your itinerary if you have one. At the very least, give them your flight information or let them know where you’re going.
• If you’re traveling abroad, make sure a trusted friend or family member has a color copy of your passport and drivers license, as well as a copy of your itinerary.
• Ask your neighbors or a good friend to keep an eye on your home.
• Leave a house key with your friend or neighbor.
• Adjust thermostats to save energy.
• Pay any bills that will come due while you are traveling.
• Lock all doors and windows.
• Close the blinds and/or curtains, especially in the back and side of the house.
• Set security alarms.
• Set up timers on lights and TVs to give the appearance that someone is home.
• Inform your security monitoring company that you will be away and arrange for a security patrol.
• Check the fridge/kitchen for perishables and dispose of them. Take the garbage out!
• Since so many bags look alike, consider putting a bit of colored tape or ribbon on the handle to quickly identify your bag at the luggage carousel.
• Make sure to have all of your important travel information and documents all together in one place. (Note: *Carry important papers with you.! Do not check anything that you don’t want to lose)
• Photo identification
• Passports/Visas
• Itineraries/Schedules
• Tickets and Seat Assignments
• Frequent Flyer Cards
• Contact numbers for hotels or car rental agencies
• Confirmation Numbers
• Money/Credit Cards
• Covid-19 Vaccination Card
• Face Masks

PROFESSIONAL:

While going on vacation is exciting I think we can all agree that returning to work after a vacation is usually stressful. There’s a lot of mail, a ton of e-mails to go through and dozens of other things you need to get to that have been piling up while you were gone. It can almost seem like a punishment for ignoring your responsibilities.

Here are some tips to help you ease back into reality:

• Communicate: Notify people you regularly interact with that you will be unavailable and away from the office. If people know you’ll be gone, they (hopefully) won’t try to contact you which will significantly reduce the amount of voice mails and emails.
• Clear it Out: Clear the inbox on your desk and your email inbox so that the new items you must attend to when you return will be obvious.
• Get it Done: Wrap up all of your “To Do’s” . This may be difficult depending on the type of job you have, but do the best you can. See if you can delegate things that haven’t been finished so they can be taken care of while you’re gone.
• No Appointments: Make sure you don’t have any meetings or appointments the first day (or two) when you return to the office. You will definitely appreciate the time to get caught up.
• Arrive Early: Upon your return, arrive an hour early to work. Use this time to check your schedule, messages, mail and e-mail before your colleagues get in and start asking about your trip and giving you more things to do.

Okay, now go and relax and know that when you get back from your vacation, you’ll have everything under control.

Have a great trip and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Downsizing With A Purpose

Downsizing is probably one of the things that we, as Professional Organizers, do most. It seems to be part of every job no matter what the circumstance. Whether someone is organizing, remodeling, moving or dealing with the estate of a loved one, downsizing is always part of the equation.

At one point or another downsizing will be necessary! We all have stuff! We all probably have too much stuff. But, how much is too much?

Here are some questions to think about:
• Do you park your $30,000 vehicle on the street and put the stuff that you haven’t needed or used in years in the garage?

• Do you feel anxious when you’re at home because there’s too much stuff all over the place and you don’t know what to do with it?

• Do you have boxes of stuff in the garage that you saved for your children but they are now living on their own (with children of their own) and either don’t have room for it or don’t want it (ie.,the artwork you saved from their childhood)

• Do you have furniture from your parents’ home in your garage or in storage because at the time of their passing or downsizing you didn’t know what to do with it so you just moved it and stored it?

• Are you moving into smaller quarters and won’t have room for everything you now own?

• Do you have a storage unit filled with stuff that you can’t access easily because it’s all stacked up to the ceiling?

At this point many of you have answered yes to more than one of these questions. If so, read on.
You’ve been living in your home for 10, 15, 20 or more years. You’ve raised your children there or you and your significant other have built your lives there. Over time, you’ve acquired collections, treasures, photographs and other memorabilia. You have random tools, things that need fixing, things that you only use for holidays, things you don’t really use but don’t want to get rid of just in case you need it someday. You have things people got for you as gifts that you didn’t have the heart to get rid of because they may ask you where “it” is next time they see you. You have other things that were passed on to you by a loved one that has sentimental value but you never liked anyway.

Bottom line…you’ve got STUFF! Now what?

Well, I’m thinking that it’s time to downsize. The most important advice I can impart is… do it now and do it regularly. Don’t leave all of your “stuff” for someone else to deal with. Your children or loved ones will be completely overwhelmed and will have to make decisions that will be difficult and expensive. Further, they may not have the time, money or where-with-all to deal with your stuff.

Please take some time to consider what you have and what you need.
• Consider selling some items that may have value. You can sell via apps, on-line sites, garage sales, Estate Sales, private party, consignment, auction, swap meets. The list goes on…

• Think about things that you can pass along to your loved ones now so that you can see them enjoy whatever it is.

• Donate those items that don’t have much value (usually the threshold is items that are less than $100)

• Throw away anything that is broken, stained, missing a piece, rusty.

All of these are viable and easy options. If, for some reason, you can’t or don’t want to take this on by yourself, give us a call and we will facilitate the entire process.

We would LOVE to be of service!

Managing Client Expectations

Managing my clients’ expectations is a huge and SUPER important part of my job as the sole owner of my business. It’s up to me to make sure that there are no misunderstandings, that my clients understand what we’re going to do and when. That they understand and agree to the terms of my contract. It is imperative that we’re all on the same page.
I can only imagine that we all have struggles when it comes to managing our client’s expectations throughout the course of a job. I want to share a just a few of the things that I come across on the different kinds of jobs that we handle and how we handle them. Maybe the types of situations that arise for you are different but hopefully you can take away something from these examples and apply them in your life or business.
First and foremost, I tell it like it is. I don’t sugar coat anything. Those of you who know me already know that I’m a straight shooter.  It works for me. It works for them.
RESIDENTIAL ORGANIZING
We’re not magicians. We can’t make room where there isn’t any. If there’s no room, we let our clients know that they have to get rid of something somehow. They can sell, donate, trash or put it in storage (which we do NOT usually recommend). Or, they can build more shelves or remodel and add a closet.  We do an amazing job organizing anything and everything in the house BUT there’s gotta be room to put things away where they belong.
OFFICE/PAPER ORGANIZING
Paper takes time. It’s tedious and time consuming.  It seems that most people (and this is from my personal experience) aren’t sure what to do with their papers. So, they just keep everything just in case. They’re not sure when or what to archive, how long to keep something, if something should be shredded or just tossed so, they just don’t do anything and then it just builds and builds until there a voluminous amount of paperwork to deal with. I always suggest that having a goal in mind will help in determining how to move forward. Budget is also an important consideration. Once our client figures out what they want to do, we will sort through everything, archive whatever needs to be saved for the long term, toss the trash, shred anything with an account number and then implement a filing system tailored to their needs.
ESTATE SALES
Everyone thinks that their “stuff” is priceless. On rare occasions we come across items of significant value but, for the most part, we all have stuff. Nice stuff probably, but not extremely valuable. So, our advice is, if they want to sell something, they should probably do their homework first so they are educated about the value. It’s as easy as looking it up on e-bay or Amazon. When we tell them, something isn’t valuable or worth selling it’s not to insult them, it’s to make sure they understand that they are not going to get a lot of money selling “stuff” that isn’t valuable. Further, just because they paid a lot of money for something doesn’t mean it still holds that value. Also, just because their grandmother gave them something doesn’t mean its an antique and doesn’t mean that it is valuable. It may be valuable to them but not to anyone else. The truth hurts! Ouch. If there’s enough value, we will do an amazing job selling their treasures and will do so ethically and responsibly.
DOWNSIZING
If we can’t sell their valuables, we will offer to either take their donations and drop them off or coordinate a pick-up.  BUT we do not donate everything that they don’t want. We let our clients know that we are selective so that we don’t inundate the donation companies with items we know they won’t take. Because we do this kind of work daily, we must be respectful and only donate items that the donation companies can use or sell. As a reminder, most donation companies will not take anything that is:  ripped, stained, missing a piece, broken, old and/or large furnishings (i.e., floral upholstered couches, armoires).
RELOCATIONS
When moving companies say that they will unpack we make sure that our clients understand what that means.  Most moving companies that offer unpacking services will open the boxes and put the contents on a shelf or counter but will not put anything away. Others might offer to put things away but they don’t care where anything goes. They don’t unpack with an eye towards functionality, accessibility or organization. However, we do! We will unpack EVERYTHING in 1-3 days (depending on volume). We will unpack so that everything is organized, functional, accessible and is easy to maintain.
CLEARING
We clear we do not clean. While we will occasionally sweep or wipe down a shelf, it is not part of the job nor something we want to or are hired to do.  This is something that clients/potential clients need to know. They need to be prepared with a rag, cleaning product, dust buster or vacuum if they think they’d like to wipe down or clean areas that we’re working on. They can also have their housekeeper there on the same day to clean as we go to keep things moving along.  We are happy to recommend cleaning services that we have worked with over the years and have vetted.
Communication is key. I do my best to leave the lines of communication open at all times to avoid any misunderstandings.  We always return calls, texts and emails in the same day. Always!

How Do You Know What Questions to Ask When You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know?

A friend of mine was telling me a story this week about her conversation with her doctor. She was undergoing a surgical procedure and, in addition to some questions she had prepared, she asked him “what questions should I be asking”. This was the first time she was undergoing this type of procedure and wanted to make sure she was fully informed.

What a great question! How would you know what to ask if you’ve never done it (whatever “it” is) before?

So, I’m going to give you some information/suggestions to think about and questions to ask next time you’re hiring a company/business/doctor for the first time. 

Do your due diligence! It is so important to get all of the information you need before you hire anyone.

  • Look them up on Google or Google-My-Business, Yelp, etc. for reviews
  • Look at their website
  • Check references

Ask if what you want done is within their expertise. 

  • Just because someone is an attorney doesn’t mean they litigate. They may just do transactional work. Just because someone is a dentist doesn’t necessarily mean they know how or want to do esthetic dentistry. 
  • Get as much information as you can so everyone is clear and expectations are managed

Ask how long have they been in business?

Ask if they’re insured?

  • Clarify kind of insurance they carry? 
  • Worker’s Compensation? 
  • General Liability?
  • Errors & Omissions?
  • Cybersecurity?
  • Ask for a copy of the declarations page of the policies that would be necessary for the job you are hiring them for

Ask if they are licensed? (Not all occupations require licensing)

  • Get their license number?
  • Find out if they need a license to do what they do?
  • Make sure their license is in good standing?                                                                     

Find out if their workers are employees or independent contractors?

  • How long have the employees/independent contractors been working with you?
  • Do the independent contractors have insurance?
  • What kind of insurance do they have?
  • Ask for a copy of the declarations page of that/those policies?

How do they charge?

  • What kind of payment do they accept?
  • When is payment due?
  • Are there any extra charges NOT included in their estimate that you should be aware of?

The more questions you ask, the better informed you will be. Don’t be afraid to ask these or any other questions.  It lets people know that you want to make an informed decision. Getting information is the first and most important step to making the right decision.

Technological Clutter – What is that Exactly?

Clutter comes in many shapes and sizes but, for now, let’s just talk about technological clutter. You know…all the extra cables, wires, chargers that are in random drawers and boxes around the house. The hard-drive that is buried at the bottom of a closet. Oh, what about the old flip phones that are in a bag in the garage. Yup, that’s all technological clutter.

I can’t tell you how often I come across boxes or bags of old outdated technology in my line of work. Seems like everyone has tons of old technology that they haven’t discarded for one reason or another.

These are the common answers I get when I ask why they’ve kept the old and/or outdated items:
• I may need that cable or wire for something else
• There’s still information on the hard drive that I need
• I don’t know how to purge the information
• I keep just in case I lose mine or mine breaks

This type of clutter is much the same as any other. We keep it “just in case” or, we keep it because we don’t know what to do with it.

Technology changes fast. Things become obsolete quickly. If you have a new cell phone, chances are you will never need the old phone. Even if your phone breaks or is lost, you probably won’t go back to the previous phone because it will be antiquated. So, donate your old cell phone(s). Did you know that you can donate old phones to our troops overseas? Well, you can and they can really use them so hopefully that will motivate you.

Then, there’s the old hard drives. Since we all keep important information stored on the hard drives, it is essential to make sure that they’re wiped clean before discarding them. If you know how to retrieve the information, do it and get rid of the old hard drive. If you aren’t tech savvy, either give it to your IT professional or bring it to the Geek Squad at Best Buy and have them do it for you. They’ll even recycle it for you.

Cables, wires, chargers. Where do I even begin? Once upon a time they obviously belonged to some kind of device but now you have no clue which ones they belong to. So, why keep them? Each new device that you buy will have its’ own cables, wires or cords. As soon as you get your new device, get rid of the old device and all of its cables, wires and cords so they don’t get mixed up. For the most part, they are no longer useful. And, if you do wind up needing a cord or cable that you tossed, you can always get a replacement quickly and at a low cost.

So, in conclusion, if you have a device that you’re currently using, get rid of the older one that you no longer use. You can bring your old technology to the Geek Squad at Best Buy or another place of your choosing where they will wipe out the data and recycle them for you. Some places, like Apple, will allow you to trade in the old technology and give you a credit towards a new device.

Trust me, you’ll feel so much better when you purge these old, outdated and unnecessary items. Just do it!