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Author: Barb BermanCloset Clothing Clutter Organizing Uncategorized

A Professional Organizer Using a Professional Organizer

Yes, I did (and was so glad I did)!!

I am the first to admit that I used a Professional Organizing colleague and friend to help me with something I’ve been meaning to do for years. She helped me go through my closets and determine what to keep and what to finally give away.

My reluctance was four-fold:

  1. I should be able to do this on my own (For goodness sake, I do exactly this with my clients.)
  2. I’d have to admit that some of the clothes I own no longer fit (I hear the same thing from my clients.)
  3. I’d have to admit that one or two items still had the tags on them (I am pretty good about wearing what I buy, but obviously these couple of items slipped through the cracks.)
  4. I do this all day for my clients, so the last thing I want to do is to go through my own stuff when I get home.

I finally bit the bullet and hired my friend. It was the best money I’d spent in a while. In four hours, we got through all my clothes closets. I had a ton of clothes and hangers to donate, all of which went to a women’s shelter in Camden, NJ. My closets have room now, I have bunches of hangers I can use for anything new that I buy, I feel free, and I know that these clothes can be used by those not as fortunate as I.

So, what does it say about a Professional Organizer asking for help from a Professional Organizer? Some of you may wonder why I couldn’t do this by myself.

Firstly, I was able to ask for help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. We all have strengths, and we all face challenges in our lives. Why not ask for help when needed? 

Secondly, what I experienced is exactly what my clients experience, and that was worth its weight in gold. I think I’m a pretty empathetic person, but this solidified it for me. I tried on clothes that I wasn’t sure about, and since my colleague was not emotionally invested in anything (but my parents bought that blouse in Greece for me a zillion years ago) and only had my best interest at heart, I was able to let go of mostly everything. I was bound and determined to get through the closets.

Thirdly, I had a stake in the game. The date was set, and I knew that since I was paying for the service, I was very prepared and determined to get through this project in a timely manner. I compared this to having a personal trainer. Once you pay for something, aren’t you more apt to follow through? 

The funny thing about this is after the 4 hours, my colleague asked me if I was going to go through any of the clothes and pull things out that I think I may still want to keep. I laughed, said no, and realized I ask the same question to my clients.

Just because you have room for things, like I did, doesn’t mean you have to keep them, especially if you aren’t using them anymore. Perhaps the time is right for you to ask for help with your organizing projects.

Author: Ellen FayeEfficiency Productivity Time Management Tips

How Productive Leaders Reduce Inefficiencies

When I think of reducing inefficiencies I think of when I was in college and learned about the time and motion studies of the 1950’s.  I envision Lucy and Ethel wrapping chocolate on the production line. And then I think that no one wants to live life with so much constraint that we are more machine than human.  However, so many of my clients tell me they want to be more efficient.

I am a big fan of putting rote tasks on autopilot so that our energy can be put towards creative process and enjoying life. I am embarrassed to tell you this (but will because perhaps it might help) but I’m always looking at how to do things in the fewest steps.

I will exemplify this with a task we all do – emptying the dishwasher. I’ve observed many people empty the dishwasher – I do it differently.  And I typically get it done in the time it takes to brew 2 or 3 cups of Keurig coffee.  

  1. I work from the bottom up so that if water spills out of something it’s not going to get anything below it wet.
  2. I unload in groups –the silverware into my hand and then direct to the silverware drawer
  3. I place things on the counter at the location it will be put into
  4. I unload completely, then I put away.  I’m only opening the drawer or cabinet once and I’m putting everything away at one time
  5. And I make it a game to see how fast I can do it. It’s fast and it’s done.

I waste not a moment on something as routine as unloading a dishwasher.

Now let’s apply that to our work. 

  • How can I process my email as efficiently as possible?
  • How can I keep my to-do list as streamlined as possible?
  • How can I make my meetings as effective as possible?

I’ve blogged about all of this and I’ve linked the above questions to those posts.  What I’m addressing here however is how to create systems and processes to be most efficient, streamlined, and effective.

Creating efficient systems

  1. Notice it – recognize the opportunity. Don’t assume you can be efficient without thinking about how to be more efficient
  2. Analyze the steps.   Is there a better, faster, more effective way to do something?  Can you eliminate, combine, or change the order of doing something.
  3. Do – Assess– Adjust. Try it out, practice, watch, question.  Shift, try something else. Keep modifying until you get it right.
  4. Practice and Repeat – use the system until it becomes routine and you don’t have to think about it. Watch your stopping and starting.  Stick with a task until it’s done, or at least until there is a logical stopping point. 

Sometimes having a productivity coach or organizing consultant helps. We work with our clients to help them develop the best ways to improve efficiency.  

Author: Janet BernsteinProcrastination

Are You A Procrastinator? Do Not Put Off Reading This Blog!

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of stuff we just don’t want to do. My list includes anything to do with car maintenance, housekeeping, yard work—come to think of it, my list is pretty extensive. And yet, these things have to get done. We gravitate to activities we enjoy doing and procrastinate on the other stuff.  Sound familiar? Here’s my top five anti-procrastination tricks:

  1. Write it down.  Research shows we are more responsive to items when we write them down. I use the task bar in my google calendar for my running to do list.  This works well for me as I permanently keep my google calendar up on my second computer screen*. Bottom line, your “to do” list of items you don’t want “to do” needs to visible and easily accessible. No point in writing them in a notebook you hardly refer to or store them digitally in an app you rarely open.
  2. Schedule it on your calendar. If your to do list is as long as a CVS receipt, it’s time to schedule appointments with yourself to tackle those dreaded projects. True, you can cancel on yourself without penalty, but I’ve found that scheduling appointments with yourself creates an effective element of self-accountability.
  3. Divide the task into bite-size pieces. If the project(s) is particularly loathsome, break it down into smaller tasks or set a timer.  You can do anything for 30 minutes and those 30 minutes add up.  A 30-minute task done for five days equals two and a half hours!
  4. Reward Yourself! My particular favorite. If the first three are just not doing it for you, try the reward system.  You get to pick the reward, but it should be in line with the accomplishment. Treating yourself to a Caribbean vacation for getting your bills paid on time seems a bit excessive but maybe that’s just me. Taking a 30-minute break for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit might be enough incentive, or perhaps catching up on a favorite show. The treat system works just as well on humans as it does on dogs!
  5. Phone a friend. When all else fails, it may be time to bring in outside accountability. This person should be able to, well, let’s just say “strongly encourage” you to get things done but they should not be allowed to make you feel completely incompetent. A good professional organizer can also provide the accountability needed and create a system tailored to your specific needs.

Wishing you the most productive year!

*If you work at a desk, I highly recommend using a second monitor screen. This has significantly increased my productivity.

Author: Bobbie BurkhartClutter Donating Family Goal Setting Home Organizing Storage Tips

How Loud Is Your Clutter?

Hello to all my Home Organizer friends!

Some people are intimidated about writing FaceBook posts and newsletters. I am not one of them. I find inspiration for FB posts and newsletters everywhere. For example, whenever one of my network friends posts something on FB or has an article in their newsletter that is relevant to my target market, I forward it to my Virtual Assistant and she posts it with a link their website. This helps build a rapport with my referral partners and gives me a wide variety of topics of interest to my current and prospective clients.

Home Organizers are all inspired by each other.  Annette Reyman’s tag line “We get you moved in so you can move on . . . with life!” inspired my tagline “Let me help you catch up so you can keep up.”
I have attached a few photos that I plan to use as part of a future newsletter that will be tied in with my tag line. It will also be used as a FB post and a blog on my website.

The captions will read:

Problem: Samantha is a busy single mom who had never been able to carve out time to get her son’s playroom under control.

Solution: We purged the room of toys and books he had outgrown for four hours. Organizing was a breeze; it only took two hours.

Result: Cameron was thrilled to be able to play with his remote-control toys now that the controls are easy to find. He has taken ownership of his playroom and makes sure his friends and cousins help keep it tidy.

Testimonial: “I learned a different way of thinking. It’s OK to get rid of stuff and not be sad about it. Bobbie educated me with some valuable tips. For example, instead of putting all of my son’s small action figures in one big bucket, she suggested I buy an organizing unit where he can see all the figures and find the ones he wants. He has even categorized them himself!”

– Samantha, Langhorne PA

I also have fun with my FB posts and would like to share a draft for a future post. Perhaps it will inspire you to write something fun of your own.

How Loud is Your Clutter?

Does your clutter whisper, “Psst, I’m over here? I’m getting out of control.” Or does your clutter clear her throat and say “Ahem, over here bud. Pay me some attention.”

Ignore your clutter too long and it will scream out you, “Yo! You can’t ignore me any longer! I’m here, I’m out of control and you need to deal with me NOW!”

If your clutter is verbally abusing you, you need to call me! Let’s schedule a consult and quiet your clutter.

Author: Erin CovoleskyChallenging Disorganization Clutter General Home Organizing Organizing Tips

Just Like Riding A Bike

Remember that old saying “it’s just like riding a bike”? I have no idea who coined it, but it was meant to draw a comparison to activities that are deeply rooted in the muscle memory gained from lots of practice. The idea is, if you practiced enough, riding your bike becomes like second nature. If you practice enough, you can train your body to ride with a lot less thought or effort. And if that bike sat rusty in the garage for 10 years, because you had put forth the effort to practice years before, you can jump back on and ride away into the sunset as if only mere seconds had passed since your last pedal session.

People ask me a lot about the best ways to stay organized. Cleaning up and out seems to be the easy part, but now that the house is beautiful, and everything is put away in its place, how do we keep it this way? Depending on how far removed your new organizing behavior is from your old habits, staying organized is going to take the same vigor and endurance as it took to learn to ride that bike years ago.

For example, if you always lose your keys around the house, and we implement a new process to hang them on a hook by the door when you enter, you will need to make the conscious effort to actually do it…every time. It takes practice, and more practice, until eventually hanging the keys on the hook becomes second nature and engrained in your muscle memory. Suddenly hanging the keys on the hook will feel like an easy routine, and the process will no longer be a strain on your brain power and intention as you arrive home tired from work each night. The thing to remember is that there will be work involved. I unfortunately can’t wave a magic wand to “cure” us of our poor organizing habits and replace them with ones that work better for our lives. If I could, I would be the first to wave it over my own house!

There are a lot of schools of thought out there around best practices for forming habits and the importance of considering things like learning styles, motivators and goals. Developing new habits to stay organized will take time, support and accountability from family and friends, as well as a focused desire from whoever is embarking on this mission. I have lots of tricks up my sleeve to help move this process along for each client, but the overarching theme to remember is that practice makes perfect. You are going to have to conjure up the focus, intention and willpower to practice, but once mastered, your new habits really will be just like riding a bike!

Author: Amanda JeffersonHolidays organizing toys

De-Clutter your Toys before the Holidays

Photo by Vanessa Bucceri on Unsplash

Let me start with a shocking statistic to get you in the holiday mood.

The United States has 3% of the world’s children but buys 40% of all toys sold worldwide.

I know – It’s terrifying! 

This season, if you’ve got kids, you’re likely going to have an influx of new gifts and toys, so it’s the perfect time to learn how to help kids wade through their toys and create space for what sparks joy.

The tips below will have you on your way to decreasing your clutter … and increasing your joy.

  1. Help them identify what they genuinely love. Ask your child, “Does this spark joy?” or “What are your favorite toys”? This question will help them to distinguish between the things they genuinely love and the things they don’t.
  2. Create a Wish List. Every time your child asks for a toy, say, “Sure! I’ll add it to your wish list.” Then, add it to a Wish List that you’ve created in a notes app like Evernote. This way, you are validating their request without immediately gratifying it. They won’t remember 90% of the things that they’ve asked for, but some things may come up again and again. That’s your “hot list.”
  3. Institute a “one in, three out” rule. For every new toy they ask for, tell them they will need to let go of THREE. This curtails splurge purchases and ensures that they really want that new toy.
  4. Prioritize “non-fixed” toys. The book Simplicity Parenting has helpful guidelines for which toys to keep and which to toss. Try to keep “non-fixed” toys, which awaken a child’s imagination. (Think blocks, figurines, craft supplies, etc.) Avoid “fixed” toys”. These are toys that typically do only one thing and don’t spark much creativity (or keep them busy while you’re trying to cook dinner!). 
  5. Consider instituting “fun money.” Each week, our daughter has $5 to spend. It can be on ice cream, visiting a play place, a piece of candy, or a toy. If she doesn’t spend it, it carries over. So when she asks for something, I can say, “let me check your fun money,” which lives in a separate pocket of my wallet. If she has fun money, she can usually get the item. If not, she can’t. It takes the focus away from “my mean mommy who won’t let me have it” to a more neutral place of “oh well, I don’t have enough money.”

Teaching your kids to choose toys wisely and to treasure the toys they have is not something that happens overnight. But you can slowly change the conversation, put some boundaries up and help them curate a collection of toys that spark joy for them and that minimizes clutter for you.

Happy holidays, friends!