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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!

Author: Darla DeMorrowDocument Management Filing Home Office Organizing Paper Tips Uncategorized

17 Ways to Go Paperless without Scanning

Photo by ron dyar on Unsplash

I’ve been reading articles about the promise of a paperless office my entire life, and for the most part, those articles have just created more paper.

For the first time in modern history, we now have the tools to go completely paperless. But before you go invest in a new gadget and hunker down to scan all of your paper, you can probably do a lot to reduce the amount of paper in your life.

Turn Off Paper Statements

  • The first thing is to turn off any statements for accounts, especially if you aren’t opening them. Bank statements are usually the prime offender. Call your bank or go online to shut off those statements. Check to be sure the bank’s retention practices will meet your needs, and that you can access statements online if you need to.
  • Then turn off any billing statements, especially if you have them on auto-payment arrangements and can check your account online.
  • Check with your medical offices to see if they can eliminate or reduce your paperwork there, too. Most medical offices have PHRs (personal health records) and can email you copies of office visits, tests and prescriptions.

Turn On Auto-Pay

  • If you have some but not all of your bills on auto-payments, turn those on, too. Many institutions will allow you to set a minimum payment amount each month. You can always pay more, if you choose, by making additional online payments.
  • If you are concerned that you’ll either miss a payment or somehow be out of the loop on your accounts, write up a simple list of accounts being paid automatically (either by hand or using a spreadsheet), and check these online the same day you get your paycheck. This adds one piece of paper to your life, but might be exactly what you need to keep it all straight. 
  • Set up folders in your email program to file e-statements. Folders allow you to organize emails into groups for long-term storage, out of your inbox. Rules allow you to automate routine statements to be filed without you having to be the one to do it. If you need help with learning to use folders (or tags in gmail) and rules, search the internet for “how to set up folders on {my email} service.”

Get Off Mailing Lists

  • Contact https://dmachoice.thedma.org/ and https://www.catalogchoice.org/ to opt in or out of paper mailings. They won’t stop all of the mail, but it will stop much of it.
  • Be generous, but be selective, too. Stay off the “sucker lists,” which are lists of people who are likely to respond and donate to charitable appeals. Charity fund raising is big business. The more organizations you donate to, the higher the chance that data mining companies will identify you as an easy target, selling your information to even more charities. Honor your nature to be generous by donating to fewer causes that are important to you, and that have good ratings from  https://www.guidestar.org/. Be selective to stay off the lists that generate even more charity mail in your mailbox.
  • Opt out of unsolicited credit card offers. Many of these are generated by companies data-mining your credit reports. Reduce these unsolicited offers by contacting each of the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian), and requesting that they not allow your data to be accessed for the preapproved offers. The toll-free number for all the national credit reporting agencies is 1 888 5OPTOUT (1 888 567 8688).
  • Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you (“Firm Offers”). The FCRA also provides consumers with the right to opt-out of these offers. If you choose to opt-in or opt-out, you can visit www.optoutprescreen.com to make your request online.” (excerpted from Experian.com)
  • Reduce the amount of credit accounts you have. Stick with one main all-purpose credit card and another one for backup. Reduce the urge to sign up for store credit accounts just to get short term offers. Cancel promotional cards as soon as you fulfill the promotion. The more cards and credit accounts you have, the more mail they will generate. 

Utilize Online Information Sources

  • Recycle most manuals for household items. Chances are you don’t need the manual for small items like toasters and coffee makers. You can access manuals you do need online at https://www.manualslib.com/ and http://www.manualsonline.com/. If you can’t find it there, which is rare, you can usually find a manual for an older product at the manufacturer’s website.
  • Support your school’s, church’s and community’s efforts to go paperless. Learn how to use online forms and payment options like e-checks and Paypal. 

Say No to Paper Offered to You

  • Don’t bring home fliers, brochures and free magazines. These rarely get read, and they rarely have information that you can’t find online.
  • Instead of collecting business cards, scan a card on your phone and enable your settings to send information right into your phone’s Contacts app. ScaBizCards and Evernote both can upload details directly to your contacts app.

Reset your Reading Habits

  • Cancel your newspaper and magazines if you never read them. Continue to get your local news by purchasing a digital subscription, and request a daily email of headlines and topics that interest you.
  • Are you really serious about having less paper in your life? Get an e-reader and learn to use it instead of buying and storing books you’ll need briefly. Sure, you love the feel and smell of actual books, but you can have HUNDREDS of great books and magazines in less space than your unread piles are taking on your cluttered nightstand right now.

If you really want to go paperless, start with these steps to have less paper in your life. You’ll find more space in your home. 

Author: Bobbie BurkhartClutter Hoarding Home Organizing

Fear of Clutter

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I especially love to get dressed up for an all-out costume party. My best costume, of all time, was Ms. Bald America. I wore my Senior Prom gown, elbow length blue suede gloves, a tiara, a Ms. Bald America sash and of course a bald wig. I blacked out a couple of teeth for an even more glamorous effect.

My other favorite part of Halloween is going to a truly scary haunted house. The very best one is Terror Behind the Walls at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. https://easternstate.org/

How does this topic tie into home organizing? Some of the scenes we walk into are scary; especially in situations involving hoarders! My worst fear is seeing something move. So far, so good. Our clients are scared too. Before we start to work with them, they are fearful and anxious about tackling cluttered spaces in their present home or office. They often become immobilized by their feeling of being overwhelmed. If they are moving, they are often scared of discarding something they “might” need or scared of the many unknowns associated with moving and selling their home.

As a professional Home Organizer I tell every client the same thing during our initial conversation; “My goal as your Home Organizer is to take as much stress out of your situation as possible.” When we are finished, I ask them “How did you feel before we worked together?” They invariably respond “I felt stressed and overwhelmed.” Then I ask them “How do you feel now?” You know the answer, “I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel less stressed and more in control.”

What a wonderful role we play in our clients’ lives. What a rewarding career and sense of purpose. We restore order from chaos while eliminate fear and anxiety. We keep seniors safe and give their families peace of mind.

It’s fun to be scared in a haunted house at Halloween, but no one should be scared of their clutter.

Author: Annie Amoon RichardChallenging Disorganization Clutter Document Management Emergencies Filing Paper Receipts Tips

EZ File Your Paper Piles

Everyone hates to file papers and we all have piles of them on our desks, tables, and any other flat surface around. No one likes to deal with all the papers that we still have even in our modern “paperless” society. Today I offer an easy, simple system that is not overwhelming and will have you binging Netflix in no time. The best part of this solution is that it’s only two steps!!

Even as a professional organizer, my ADHD gets in the way of keeping my attention on sorting papers for any significant length of time.  As everyone knows, dealing with papers is boring. It becomes overwhelming so we give up and give in to the piles. So, out of necessity, I created this quick and easy system for dealing with the paper piles.

Are you ready to change your paper filing system forever?  Here goes. Two steps. Two easy steps.

Step 1: Get 2 containers – boxes, plastic bins, baskets etc. to hold your papers.  They can be pretty or they can be from the liquor store. The look of the container is up to you.

Step 2: Answer one yes or no question for each paper: “Does this paper have anything to do with my money, property, legal identification, or taxes?” If the answer is yes, it goes in box #1. If the answer if no, then it goes into box #2.

That’s it, you’re done filing! Even if you never do anything else with either box, you will be able to find any important paper that you need, when you need it. Most papers that we think we need to keep are rarely, if ever, referenced again. 

If you need to find an important legal document, receipt or tax info you only have to look in Box #1. You don’t need to be distracted by all the non-legal or non-financial papers to find what you need. Your stress level is greatly reduced or even eliminated. If there is ever an emergency, storm, fire, or other need to evacuate quickly, you just have to grab Box #1.

Now, a lot of people would just not feel completely comfortable with this simple system. If you fall into this category, then take the next step. Get a 3-ring binder and some sheet protectors. Place all of the most critical documents – your birth certificates, passports, Social Security cards, marriage and divorce documents, property deeds, college transcripts, etc. and put them into the page protectors in the binder. Keep this binder in or near Box #1 and let all household members know about it and where it is. Believe me, this will save you so much time and stress when you need to locate these documents.

I know that this system works well as I just completed the process of getting both my Real ID and my passport. It was so much easier knowing where all of the documents were and that they were all together.

Now that you paper piles are tackled, grab some ice cream and enjoy your favorite show or activity. Guilt free.  Now you are organized…at least with your papers!