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Author: Barb BermanClutter Downsizing Organizing Productivity Project Management Time Management

Do You Have an Extra 15 Minutes? It is Amazing What You Can Do!

There are times, I am sure, when you have an extra 15 minutes where you just want to sit, relax, and take a few deep breaths. There is certainly nothing wrong with self-care. However, self-care can also take on another form where you want to use those extra 15 minutes to get something done in your home or office. 

In my world, of course, it has to do with de-cluttering and organizing. There have been a couple of times recently where I took that 15 minutes with a client and myself to do just that.

A client of mine moved into assisted living several months ago. During one of our sessions, as I was helping her unpack and organize, I had some extra time. I went through one of her end table drawers in the living room and was able to recycle and trash 95% of what was in the drawer – old catalogs, old address labels, etc. Now, I could make room for other items that were important for her to have nearby in her new life.

In my own life, I love to travel. I always have travel articles and catalogues that I keep in an antique rice holder box (pictured above). When I started going through my collection, I was amazed at what I could recycle – articles and catalogs that went back to 2016. Since the box never looked like it was totally overflowing, I just kept putting more articles and catalogs in it. As with my client, I was able to recycle 95% of what I had stored.

This led me to think what we can all do in 15 minutes to maintain our organizational systems. Maintenance and persistence always seem to be a huge challenge in the organizing world. Developing a system or process is 1 part of the project. Another part is maintaining or tweaking what you’ve already developed.

Consider what you can do in 15 minutes. You never know what you’ll find unless you go through these areas:

  • Go through a junk drawer in your kitchen, bathroom, and/or bedroom and recycle, trash, shred, or donate.
  • Go through a section of your closet or a dresser drawer when you buy something new and recycle, trash, shred, or donate something old.
  • Go through a section of your closet or a dresser drawer when you haven’t bought something new and recycle, trash, shred, or donate.
  • Go through a file drawer, if you have paper files, and recycle or shred things you no longer need to keep.
  • Go through some bookshelves and box up books you’ve already read or have no intention of reading and donate to a local library.
  • Go through your medicine cabinet and dispose of medicines properly – do not flush down the toilet.
  • Go through your makeup and discard what is old.
  • Go through your spices and discard what is old.

On any given day, we all make choices in our lives as to what to do with our time. With those extra 15 minutes that you have, you could sit back and relax or go through an area of your home or office to see what you no longer need. What is your choice today?

Author: Barb BermanGeneral Organizing

Organizing: What Not to Do

Yes, Believe it – There are Several “Nots”!

Organizing TIps from a Professional

We’ve all read books and articles about how to organize. I’ve even written many articles on what to do first, what to do second, etc. However, I’ve never written about what not to do. It seems counter-intuitive to write about anything negative, but sometimes we need to discuss this aspect about de-cluttering and organizing as well.

Below are five (5) suggestions about what not to do when you begin any organizing project:

1. Don’t buy any organizing products until you see you what you actually need. You won’t know the answer to that until you finish de-cluttering and putting like with like to figure out the size of the product/container and where it’s going to go. Why waste your time buying something, not needing it, and then having to return it? You also have to remember where you put the receipt so you can return it and either exchange it for something that will work or just return it because you don’t need it.

2. Shop in your own home or office. Once you’ve finished de-cluttering and organizing, you will likely have something empty that will work to contain the items you have decided to keep. Think of the money you could save by using something you already own.

3. Stay in one area. Don’t jump from one space to another. If you do that, you’ll have spent hours all over your house or office and not get anything done. Let’s say you want to organize your living room and you find a hairbrush in that room. You take the hairbrush to the bathroom where it should live, and next, you start working on organizing your bathroom. Then, you find something that belongs in the bedroom, so you move to the bedroom. What’s the result? You’ve now been in 3 different rooms for the past several hours and haven’t gotten anything done in any of the areas. In this example, stay in the living room. If you see that something belongs in another room, put the item in a place near where that room is.

4. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you only have an hour, don’t tackle your 2-car garage. You may be able to work in a small area in the garage, but if you think you can get everything done in this small window of time, you may get discouraged and not want to continue when you have more time. Remember the SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

5. Remove donated items and trash right away. You’ll be amazed at how you will feel and how much room you have when these items leave your home or office. It’s almost like a breath of fresh air. And, if you put them in your car to go somewhere, deliver as soon as possible so your car doesn’t become cluttered.

How do these “nots” sound to you? Can you implement them when you take on your next organizing project?

Author: Barb BermanGeneral Organizing Productivity

Office Organizing: Gearing up for 2018

Cat in a file folderWhether your office is in your home or away from home, now is the perfect time to start getting organized for 2018. The holidays have not officially started, even though you wouldn’t know it by the decorations in some stores already. In addition, tax time will be here before you know it.

Think how you would feel if you did not use your floor for a filing cabinet. C’mon now, I know you do!

Here are 5 tips to help you get your office in order:

  1. Go through your filing cabinet and recycle or shred that which you don’t need anymore. Make sure your files and their names are still working for you. If things have changed, change the file name to make it more meaningful. (Do the same with your virtual files. They can mimic how you set up your paper files.)
  2. Clean out your desk drawers. Keep what you use, putting like with like. If something is broken, throw it out (or recycle it responsibly if it’s an electronic piece of equipment or anything else with a cord) or donate it if no longer used.
  3. Clear off the top of your desk. If there is a lot of paper, shred, recycle, or make up new files for that which you are keeping.
  4. Clean out your supply area. Make sure the materials that you have are current – if not, or if you don’t need some or all of it, shred, recycle, or trash it.
  5. Rearrange your furniture. Now might be the time for you to look at the window instead of staring at a wall.

Productivity and efficiency will greatly improve if your office space is organized. You won’t spend an inordinate amount of time looking for things, you won’t spend additional money on items you already have, and you’ll be able to use the freed-up time doing those things that are important to you.

P.S. Now, de-clutter and organize your floor. You have just created extra space in your file cabinets and drawers in which to put those items.

 

Author: Barb BermanDownsizing General Home Organizing Small Spaces

Five Organizing Tips for Living in a Small Space

Is it possible to live in a small area? You bet it is!

Milk crate used as a purse holder
Milk crate used as a purse holder

Most of us know people living in small houses or apartments, going to college and living in a dorm for the first time, or moving from a big home to a smaller one. Even if you don’t, you may have experienced one of these situations yourself at some point.

Did you feel challenged trying to fit everything in your new space? Does the person you know feel challenged trying to do the same thing?

If you follow these five (5) tips, it really is easier than you think:

1. Divide the space into specific areas for each activity (e.g., bill paying, watching TV, hobbies, laundry, reading, or studying). Furniture and rugs can be used to separate the different activities. For instance, your bedroom may have to act as an office plus a place to sleep and get dressed. Use a desk and file cabinet in one area of the room and the bed, bureau, and night stand in another. Keep the items in their specified areas; do not let them wander into the other activity areas.

2. Use milk crates on shelves that allow of extra space between them and the ceiling. Position the milk crate so the opening faces out. This way you’ll be able to store things both inside the milk crate and on top of it. It acts as a second shelf.

3. Use over-the-door storage units or command strips to hang things on the back of doors, in closets or on walls. You can hang items in or on them to get the items off your bed, chair, table, or desk. Don’t let them end up on the floor. The best part about command strips is that they do not damage the walls.

4. Use wall shelves to take advantage of vertical space. You can use your walls from floor to ceiling for storage.

5. Take advantage of the space under your bed. Use clear plastic bins that are specifically designed for under the bed. Measure the amount of clearance you have between the floor and the bed frame to make sure the bin fits. An option that affords you more storage space is raising the bed.

Just think, when living in a smaller area, you’ll have less to take care of. That frees up your time to do the things you want to do!

Author: Barb BermanOrganizing Organizing Products Storage

TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY STORAGE CONTAINERS

Barb Berman/storage binsWhenever I do a workshop, I am invariably asked if you have to be born with an organizing gene. Although my answer to this question is no, I do think that all of us have gifts in different areas of life, and hence, we can all learn from each other.

One of the tips that I always give my clients, workshop attendees, or anyone else who has a question about organizing is NOT to buy any containers until you see what you need. Until you know what you are going to keep after sorting and purging (this includes donating, recycling, shredding, and discarding), how would you know what size container to buy, or, if you even need one? You always want to make sure it is the right size, color, and that it will fit the space.

More often than not, there will be containers left after you’ve gone through the sorting and purging steps. You would be surprised at how many you thought you needed and bought, so use those containers first. No doubt they will work if you find you need them for other items you kept to store.

Do yourself and your wallet a favor and don’t spend the time buying something that you may not need. If you do buy something and don’t use it, are you going to remember where you put the receipt? If you find the receipt, you are going to have to spend time returning the item to the store. Wouldn’t you rather spend your time and money on what you really want?

Rather than buying the product first and then trying to see if it works for what you need, figure out your need first and then decide on the solution. When was the last time an inanimate object like a basket or plastic storage container organized you?

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Author: Barb BermanChallenging Disorganization Clutter Family Home

CAN YOU HEAR ME? ASKING FOR ORGANIZING HELP IS NOT SO EASY

image1Dear Husband,

You know I love you very much. You know I want us and our family to be happy. I treasure you in my life, and I want us to always be able to work out our differences and support each other.

Unfortunately, we always seem to have the same disagreement over clutter. You are very lucky to know how to organize and to keep everything organized. I, on the other hand, struggle with this daily. Sometimes, it becomes totally overwhelming, and I don’t even know where to begin. I know you have my best interests at heart when you say you will help me, but regrettably, we end up fighting and getting nothing done.

I have tried for years to do this on my own, and I know you think I should be able to do so. As you can see, I have not been very successful at this. This is not a reflection on you, and I am hoping you will understand that I need help. It is very hard for me to admit this, but I’ve decided the time has finally come for me to ask for help from a professional organizer. The professional organizer will:

  • Keep me on track so I continue to make progress.
  • Teach me the skills so I can use them after our projects are done.
  • Give our family a return on our investment, which includes our physical space being cleared, peace of mind, and the freedom to do the things we love.

Believe me, I love every gift you have given me through the years, but the one gift I would love is for you to support me in my need for organizing help. Thank you SO much.

Love you always,
Wife

_____

The letter you just read is very real. It is from the heart and expresses a real need, and a real struggle. While this example is from a wife to her husband, husbands can explain to their wives, parents to their children, a child to their parent.

We all need help with things in our lives. Professional organizers can offer the assistance needed in this area. It doesn’t matter the size of the project. What matters is that you’ve heard what the person is saying to you. For example, a nurse practitioner client of mine is very overwhelmed with the disorganization in her home. In fact, she has taken naps after our sessions. I explained to her that removing a splinter for me is like having major surgery. Of course, I know that it isn’t, but to her, removing a splinter is nothing, but for me, it is more than nothing.

What can you do to listen to and honor your spouse’s, partner’s, parent’s, child’s, friend’s, etc. request?

Click on the title above to learn more about the featured author.