As a professional organizer, I help people deal with their stuff. Some clients hire me because they have too much stuff. Others because they don’t know how to store their stuff. And still others because they want to learn how to eliminate useless stuff from their lives. I don’t think you’re shocked to hear that I’ve never had to help a client feel less overwhelmed from owning too many cars or dishwashers. People are incredibly thoughtful when making large purchases. We keep in mind all of the costs involved and make sure the new item fills a need in our life and fits our lifestyle.
When we are considering spending a significant amount of money on a car, technology or household appliance, we examine a few key criteria:
• Will it do what I need it to do?
• Will it stay current long enough to warrant the investment?
• Will it integrate with what I already own?
• Is it the right size for the space?
• Can I handle it properly (car, computer, pet)?
• Is required service going to be easy or a hassle?
• Can I afford the maintenance?
These are all reasonable questions.
So why does sanity and sensibility go out the window when we purchase small ticket items? We don’t even think about need for items under a certain price point. We forget that the financial investment we’ll have to make is over the LIFE of the item, not just at the point of purchase. And we don’t look at the price on our life.
Clothes, school supplies, toiletries, kitchen gadgets and sports equipment are just some of the categories where people ignore that there are costs beyond the price at the register. And when someone makes enough poor purchases, there are lots of unseen, down-the-road prices to pay.
The cost is to our pocketbooks, living spaces, psyches and planet. We would do well to ask of each small item the same we ask — dare I say, DEMAND — of significant investments before we look at the selling price:
• Will this answer a real need in my life?
• Can I afford to store and maintain it?
• Do I have the time and mental space to learn how to enjoy it?
On this Cyber Monday, and throughout the holiday gift-giving season, it is even more important to consider, not just for yourself but for your friends and family, is this item worth the price? And remember, not every gift has to be a THING.
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While I don’t personally know enough about college basketball teams to predict who will win this year’s March Madness Tournament, I do follow the excitement as my family creates detailed brackets and fans bet on their top picks.
In my play book, we are all winners when we follow organizing rules inspired by the concept:
Make your own play and create MORE in your life with these tips:
M – More clarity in your priorities gives you more time and space for life.
A – Anyone can become organized when you structure your time.
R – Review your next day’s schedule the night before to eliminate surprises.
C – Carve out time daily for exercise, nutrition and sleep.
H – Handle any task that will take less than 2 minutes – now!
M – Make physical AND mental space in your life.
A – Add breathing room into your schedule for delays and transitions.
D – Delegating is a skill worth learning – develop a team mentality.
N – NAPO.net is your go-to for help if some rules seem beyond your reach.
E – Easy access is your goal for anything you use on a daily basis.
S – Simplify one area of your life today.
S – Stay focused on priorities for big playoffs…I mean big PAY-offs 🙂
Whether you follow basketball or not, college ball is an exciting sport and March Madness is the be-all, end-all competition among collegiate teams. I am always inspired by the players’ drive, athleticism, and winning attitude. Borrow this enthusiasm and plan your own decluttering plays for a Spring-ready closet.
March Madness has become an annual springboard for me to declutter. I love the NCAA’s single-elimination process as a framework for purging my wardrobe.
The tournament always starts in March and concludes in April — as we warm up to Spring. I appreciate the build-up to the ultimate winner; each week there are winners (and losers). Borrow this approach and discover the winners and banish the losers in your closet.
• winners – clothes that are versatile, stylish, and flattering
• losers – anything stained, ill-fitting, or in need of repair
If you like following play-lists, here’s some quantifiable advice to help you keep score on your efforts:
• Trim 16 (Sweet Sixteen) bulky sweaters and jackets from your closet to make room for Spring styles. Scarves are typical accessories that you can rotate each season. Footwear is another category that deserves attention: pack up your heavy, weatherproof boots.
• Remove at least 8 items from your hanging space to create room for bolder colors and lighter-weight outfits. What you remove may end up in off-season storage, or may need to find a new home. Can you find an Elite Eight to donate, thrift, or E-bay?
• Final Four Here’s where the tournament makes its biggest splash and reminds me to focus on the basics. Make sure you have what you need to enter Spring, well dressed in the appropriate clothes that suit your life and lifestyle. This may mean creating a short shopping list for your foundation pieces, or a to-do list for the winners before they go on court.
• shine your shoes to clean and preserve their leather
• alter any investment pieces so you continue to enjoy them
• dry-clean items that you have enjoyed all season but are packing away until next year
The hardest lesson March Madness teaches is one-and-done. The Final Four teams play two games over three days to determine a national champion. Culling collections down to a single winner is unrealistic (I couldn’t survive with only one pair of black slacks!) Selecting winners — of a reasonable quantity — based on proven criteria is a good play.
Everyone has a different threshold for what it takes to go from manageable to maniacally crazed. In honor of National Clean Out Your Computer Day, celebrated the second Monday in February, I offer advice on four hot spots for digital clutter:
My advice: focus your efforts on one of the four electronic clutter hot spots OR do a little purging in each category to get yourself calm and collected — literally.
When you approach winnowing your documents, photos, desktop or email, get ready for a trip down memory lane. You will be reminded of things you’ve completely forgotten — and some should remain forever forgotten, but some should be resurrected…or completed. It’s helpful to have a notepad next to you to jot down the name of a particular file that you want to compare to others and select the best version. You may want to start a to-do list for future decluttering projects. Clearing out your computer can get addictive…
EMAIL: Without getting into specifics about which apps work best on which platforms, the principles of email management are consistent:
YOUR DESKTOP: Go for Zen on your desktop and completely clear it! Apart from straining your computer to refresh icons continually, desktops are there to provide the calm visual space your brain craves while processing data. While your desktop may seem like an infinite holding basket for what’s important at the moment, or a safe place to store what might get lost, left unchecked it will become a graveyard of expired photos, files, and reminders. A final caution: desktop items are typically not included in routine back-ups.
PHOTO MANAGEMENT: When there is no monetary cost involved in taking photos there is little motivation to weed out bad shots and duplicates: except photos take up a LOT of memory. So rather than pay for upgrades, take a look at your stockpile of digital pics and decide on your keepers. Trash the rest. Do not attempt to manage your photos in a day; a few hours a week is a good goal until you have controlled your collection to date, and then a half-hour a week to maintain going forward. If that seems too daunting…just deal with the photos from January 1, 2015 and tackle your larger collection with a pro.
DOCUMENTS: The two biggest categories to tackle are:
YOU have to decide what maintenance schedule will work for your lifestyle…but National Clean Out Your Computer Day aside, once a year is not enough.
As the holidays approach, ASK before you make a single purchase:
Where will it “live”? This is probably the last question people ask… but it should be first! If you don’t want to invite clutter, make sure you know where something will be stored when not in use; otherwise, it will sit out, collect dust, and get in your way.
Why do I need this? If you’re purchasing a gift… do they really need it? Would they appreciate tickets to an event more than an object to clutter their home? Recent studies have shown that experiences give us longer-lasting JOY than material items.
Can I afford it right now? This is not just a monetary question… electronic purchases require an investment in time to set up; new phones beg for back-ups before you transfer over to a new device and don’t forget about learning curves!
What would happen if I waited? Shopping can be fun. I am the first to admit that it’s neat to re-envision your table set for the holidays, or a seasonal lift to your bedroom (I am a sucker for linens!), but your brain doesn’t know the difference between the fantasy of seeing your table set and the reality of seeing your bed made with cozy soft colorful sheets that say autumn. Go ahead and put it in your cart (be it physical or electronic)… just don’t hit “confirm purchase.” Resist placing that order. Do NOT hand over your credit card.
If you KNOW you need it, and you can afford it, but you really haven’t a clue where to put it, hire a professional organizer to help! We’re terrific at thinking outside the box, or cabinet, or fridge, or pantry, or laundry room, or bedside table or linen closet… Our list goes on for fabulous solutions to your everyday challenges.
As the holidays approach, try keeping a list of these shopping questions in your wallet or taped to your computer screen to help avoid unnecessary purchases. List the where’s and why’s in an order that makes sense to you and your purchasing patterns. This year, go into the holidays feeling in control of your spending, your space, and your holiday experiences. Your budget and your loved ones will thank you!
Shredding Events in Spring 2014
It’s that time again! Paper shredding event season has begun. Here is a list of shredding events in the Delaware Valley this spring. If you are planning to attend an event, it’s wise to check the website or to call or e-mail to make sure the event isn’t canceled due to weather or other circumstances.
If you can’t wait for an event, try drop-off shredding services from Staples, Office Depot, Wiggins, or Mail Source (Springfield) for about $1 per pound.
Saturday, April 12 9 am – 12 pm Abington Residents Only
Abington Township Public Works
2201 Florey Lane Abington, PA 19001
Saturday, April 12 9 am – 11 am North Wales
EZ Storage – Montgomeryville
289 Dekalb Pike North Wales, PA 19454
Saturday, April 12 9 am – 12 pm Berwyn
Friends of Easttown Public Library
720 First Ave. Berwyn, PA 19312
Saturday, April 12 9 am – 12 pm Collegeville Residents Only
Perkiomen Valley Middle School East
100 Kagey Road, entrance on Campus Drive Collegeville, PA 19426
Saturday, April 12 9 am – 12 pm Collegeville
Perkiomen Valley Middle School East
100 Kagey Road (enter on Campus Drive) Collegeville, PA 19426
Saturday, April 12
NBC’s Great Shredder Event
Wells Fargo Center
See http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/contact-us/community/ for updates.
Saturday, April 19 9 am – 12 p.m Douglasville
Amity Township Crime Watch
Intersection of Rt. 422 and Rt. 662 Douglasville, PA 19518
Saturday, April 19 10 am – 12 pm York
State Rep. Kevin J. Schreiber
101 South George Street York, PA 17401
Saturday, April 26 9 am – 12 pm Philadelphia
American Heritage FCU Main Office
2060 Red Lion Road Philadelphia, PA 19115
Saturday, April 26 9 am – 12 pm Philadelphia
American Heritage FCU Rhawn Street Branch
430 Rhawn Street Philadelphia, PA 19111
Saturday, April 26 9 am – 12 pm Horsham
American Heritage FCU Horsham/Maple Avenue Branch
339 Maple Avenue Horsham, PA 19044
Saturday, April 26 9 am – 11:30 am Chalfont
Merck Sharp & Dohme Federal Credit Union Chalfont Branch
335 West Butler Avenue Chalfont, PA 18914
Saturday, April 26 11 am – 2 pm Philadelphia Residents Only
Philadelphia Fed Credit Union Operations Center
12800 Townsend Road Philadelphia, PA 19154