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Author: Janet BernsteinClothing Organizing Time Management Tips Travel Uncategorized

Mastering the Art of Road Trip Packing

Next month I’m heading over to the UK for a two-week tour of England where I’ll be staying in a different accommodation almost every night. While super exciting, packing for such a trip can be a nightmare. I don’t need to lug my large suitcase containing everything for my 10 day trip into a hotel where I’m only staying one night. So what to do? Read on to learn how I’ve mastered the art of packing and the dreaded road trip packing!

  • Three to four days before your trip, lay out the outfits you want to take on your bed or other large flat surface. I like to do this several days in advance so that I have time to run out and get something if I discover I’m lacking a certain item.
  • Stick to a color theme. My mother taught me this and it’s great advice. Let’s say I pick navy. Every article of clothing I bring will either be navy or compliments navy. The only shoes I’ll need to take must either be navy or something complimentary. Same with jewelry, purses, jackets and sweaters. I just eliminated the headache of figuring out which accessories I need to match each item. By sticking to a color theme I also probably halved the weight of my suitcase.
  • Do laundry the day before you pack. There’s nothing more frustrating than only being able to pack half your suitcase because items are still in the wash.

Okay, so that deals with your regular packing needs. For a road trip where you’ll be staying in multiple hotels you’ll need one large suitcase and one overnight duffle or carry on size case.

  • Separate your outfits by day. If you need to change outfits in one day, place both outfits together. Don’t forget to place a pair of underwear, socks and shoes on each pile plus a small plastic trash bag for dirty laundry.
  • Now place the outfit (or outfits) into separate packing cubes (check out these)
    https://www.ebags.com/category/travel-accessories/packing-aids or jumbo Ziploc bags.
  • Label the packing cube or Ziploc bag with the applicable day of the week.
  • If, like me, you’re heading to a country with temperamental weather, you may want to label the cube or bag with a temperature indicator. “Perfect for 80 degree day” or “Wear on cool, rainy day.”
  • Pack your individual outfit cubes or Ziploc bags in your suitcase. Place the bags on top with outfits you will wear first.
  • Pack one outfit bag in your carry on size case plus your toiletry bag and any other items you will need every day such as chargers, book, camera etc.
  • Your large suitcase remains in your car so place it in the trunk with easy accessibility. When you return to your car each morning, place last night’s bag in your large suitcase and transfer tomorrow’s outfit into your smaller overnight bag. No more rummaging around in your suitcase looking for stuff. Everything is neatly packed and organized.

Wherever you may be heading, we wish you a fantastic summer!
From all of us at The Organizing Professionals®

Author: Anna SicalidesMove Management Uncategorized

13 ways you can start to downsize for your next adventure

It’s hard to think about how to start the downsizing process. There’s so much wrapped up in our treasures: difficult emotions, unmet dreams, things we haven’t finished, bad decisions etc. Change is hard and a next life transition might not always be our choice. Despite all the emotions, it can be a freeing and rewarding experience to let go of those things that fill up our time and space.

Here are some things to think about when planning to downsize:

  1. Start as early as you can, as early as when downsizing is just an idea. You want to be involved in the process, and it’s easier to think clearly when you don’t have other pressures at the same time.
  2. Schedule an appointment with yourself once or twice a week, every week, the same time and day to go through your belongings. Do not expect to work 8 hours on this, it is exhausting work. Plan for smaller blocks of time on a regular frequency.
  3. Get help! Maybe a friend who is going through the same transition, you can be accountability partners to each other laugh and cry together. It’s good to involve your kids but be aware that doing this with your kids or your spouse (who might be in denial) can be really challenging. Sometimes it’s better to start yourself on the things that you have purview over.
  4. If your moving or selling your house, keep in mind that your house will sell for more money and faster to sell if it is clutter free.

Wondering where to start?

  1. Remove the trash, broken items, things you know you don’t want (we call it cherry picking the easy stuff).
  2. The garage is key because you will use it as a marshaling area for trash, recycling, donations, and giveaway.
  3. Local recycling events are good to use for deadlines. More difficult things to get rid of are chemicals, electronics, medications, shredding, use these events to your advantage.
  4. It’s good to stage those things that belong to others somewhere to make it easier to return. Near the door or in your car trunk. Call them, give them a deadline. You are not the world’s storage unit.
  5. Things your saving for the kids need to be resolved. It’s not your responsibility to be their storage unit. If they want it they will come and pick up what they want, fine, if they don’t want it, let it go.
  6. For some reason, books are always a sensitive area for those who love them. Separately, those who love books, almost always have a lot of them. Some questions to consider:
    • Do I need to keep those books I’ve read, or will never read again?
    • Do I use old cookbooks, or can I pass them down to someone else?
  7. Holiday items, how much do you need a tree? Is that something you can either stop putting up or perhaps pass down.
  8. Things that will not fit into your new life, will you be doing a ton of cooking or entertaining if not, move on your large pots and turkey roasters.
  9. If your spouse is reluctant, start on what you can do without their input (respectfully please) your clothes, your books and other things that you are responsible for.

In the end,  you want to feel good about your decisions and be a part of the process so that you can rest easy into this next chapter.

Author: Ellen TozziClutter Donating Organizing Uncategorized

Let It Go! Let It Go! Let It Go!

When I help clients decide what items to cull, I often sing a ditty to the tune of ‘Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Oh, the house is getting cluttered
And it makes me want to shudder
And since it’s on overflow
I’ll let it go, let it go, let it go.

Doesn’t sound professional? Well, it helps clients to have fun when making tough decisions about letting go of items that trigger memories. As professional organizers, we help our clients reframe the way they look at their items so they can become clear on what they want to keep and what they want to let go.

Marie Kondo’s books and Tidying Up Netflix series have inspired people to declutter and organize their homes. One of KonMari’s catch phrases is ‘DOES IT SPARK JOY?’ I like that concept because it implies joy ignites energy. Of course, we need to keep items that don’t necessarily spark joy (can you say ‘income tax returns?) so let’s examine some other questions to ask yourself:

DO I USE IT? – DO I LOVE IT? – DO I NEED IT? (those darn taxes again)

Sometimes even these questions aren’t enough to make clear, confident decisions. We may need to delve deeper to examine the ”keep vs. don’t keep” tug of war going on inside us. Here are some other reframing questions to ask yourself:

  • If I didn’t already own it would I buy it?
  • If I moved into a studio apartment, is it a treasure I’d take?
  • Is it the memories that spark joy rather than the item itself? If so, photograph it and then let it go.

For clothing:

  • Does it enhance my figure or the image I’m going for?
  • Do I feel good in it?
  • If I lose weight, will I want to wear a 15 year-old item?

For books: Ask not if you like the book but ….

  • Will I read it or refer to it again?
  • If I want to reread will I download it and read it digitally?
  • Do I have the space for this many books?

For information:

  • If I wanted this information would I Google it or look in my file drawer/pile?
  • Will I remember I saved the information?
  • Will the info expire by the time I reference it again?

If when you’re culling items and feel stuck, feel free to sing my take on ‘Let It Go’ or make up your own words to Frozen’s version. Keep the process fun as you strengthen your decision-making and letting-go muscles!

Author: Tim ZeiglerAuctions Uncategorized

Auctions Today & Yesteryear (Where is Everybody?)

As an auction professional, I regularly have the opportunity to work
with Professional Organizers and Senior Move Managers. These
professionals provide a wonderful service helping client’s de-clutter
their homes for a variety of reasons including preparation for sale,
down-sizing & moving to a smaller living space or simply organizing
their lives.

During the de-cluttering process, there is often a need to sell personal
property and in some cases a great deal of property. Since auctions are
a simple, efficient and often productive approach to selling, we can
often help the same client. This is the wonderful connection between
us.

Developing a Passion

I developed a passion for auctions as a child from my father. He loved
auctions and would take me on his Saturday auction adventures to
pretend he was helping my mother. He loved to buy at auction and
mom did not appreciate clutter, so you can imagine the action at our
home. These auctions often had big crowds of people and enthusiastic
bidding. It was exciting. I would hear energized bidders looking for a
bargain. However, I was attracted to selling at auction as the price just
went one direction. I have not come across another business
negotiation where the price only goes higher. I loved the excitement of
the auction environment as a child and still do today. However, the
environment has changed.

Where is Everybody? Where are the Bidders?

I have heard these questions in recent years as we help clients looking
to sell their property. A great many of these clients were at auctions
forty, fifty or more years ago buying much of their art, furniture,
antiques, decorative items and collections. They would often spend an
entire day at the auction and there would be hundreds of people in
attendance. They would see friends and enjoy the camaraderie. I was
reminded of the feeling when recently watching an old movie “North
by Northwest”.

There is a fascinating auction scene Alfred Hitchcock
used in the story line. It showed bidding and activity at a high end auction over fifty years ago. The auction gallery was filled. People were sitting in every available seat and others were standing. There were no large screens displaying the auction item. There was no bidding by telephone. There was no internet bidding. There were no computers supporting the auction process at all. What a major difference! Large screens, phone bidding and internet platforms have expanded the range and number of bidders dramatically.

However, it does not look like it to auction buyers from many years ago turned into auction sellers as their lives have changed.

The Environment has Changed ….

When asked where is everybody? Where are the bidders? I point out
the number of ways the auctioneer is accepting bids beyond those from
the smaller than they expected bidders attending in person. I look
toward the computers handing the bidding for each of the multiple
internet bidding platforms and explain each computer represents far
more bidders than when you purchased in the crowded auctions many
years ago. I look toward the staff members handling phone bidding and
point out those strong bidders as well. There are also bids left with the
office and on our web-site. I explain there is a larger geographic area
represented and there are bidders watching the auction from not only
our region but from the entire United States and around the world. I
point out they have been able to see each item in a gallery of pictures
for a month before the auction.

…and it is still Exciting!

Once the auctioneer starts taking bids from the bidders in all these
different ways (including from bidders in person like Alfred Hitchcock
portrayed), it begins to make sense. Bidding at auction is even more
exciting as it comes in so many ways from so many places!

Author: Vali HeistGarage Uncategorized

Spring has Sprung: Organize That Garage

Garages tend to become the dumping ground during the winter. But the best thing about organizing the garage is that if we do a really good job, it usually stays that way for at least a year. In reality, families use garages as storage facilities rather than a place for the car. That stuff can include obsolete electronics, delayed decisions about where to put something, overflow from the house, and unneeded building supplies. Since the whole family probably uses the garage, bring everyone together and make it a family affair. If there is enough clutter to sell, have a garage sale!

Let’s break it down:

Start with a clean slate and unclutter

  • Pull everything out onto the driveway if you can. Sweep it out and eliminate the cobwebs.
  • As you pull items out, sort them by categories: lawn and gardening, work bench, sports equipment, dry goods overflow, car accessories, tools and power equipment, paints/solvents, lawn furniture, beach items, camping, etc.
  • Talk to your children about their items and help them eliminate clutter. Consider having a garage sale to sell their unneeded toys.
  • Finish or get rid of the unfinished projects (two years old or more).
  • Find a new home for stuff that shouldn’t be stored in an uninsulated garage (e.g. photographs, items that could melt).
  • Eliminate duplicates and donate unneeded tools, doors, windows, appliances, or anything to build a house to Habitat ReStore in your area.
  • Take hazardous waste items (e.g. oil-based paint) to semi-annual cleanups.

Stay in the Zone

  • Divide the garage into zones according to the categories you’ve established.
  • Think “grab and go” and store things where they are convenient.
  • Hang tools where they are most accessible.
  • Keep car accessories close to the cars.
  • Store overflow from the kitchen close to the door near the house and keep food in mouse proof containers.
  • Reposition some zones as the seasons fluctuate: move bikes, beach items and lawn furniture down in spring and move the skis and sleds up high.

Type of storage/system

  • Put big items back first and the rest goes around those items.
  • Think ‘up’: store infrequently used items on high floating shelves or beams.
  • Metal on cement will rust the metal. Rest metal on wood or up on the wall.
  • Studs with no dry wall are great for peg boards. Cut different sizes according to the types of stuff you have.
  • Use open wire epoxy-coated steel shelving: wet things can dry, mesh prevents dust.
  • Consider a garage storage system; go to Lowe’s or Home Depot.
  • Hang long things vertically so they take up less space. If garden tools don’t have a hole to hang, drill one and thread a string for hanging.
  • Remix things you may already have for garage storage: Use old drawers/cabinets; shoe bag on the wall to hold small garden tools; old table for work bench, etc.

Finally, if you enter your home through the garage make sure it’s clutter-free and welcoming. Hang a welcome home sign, clean the door, and put a nice door mat in place.

You deserve a nice welcome home!

Clutter Quote:

“Every time you put something back where it belongs, it’s a gift to yourself.” – Vali Heist

Author: Rie BroscoEnd of Life Planning Family

You’re Not Dead Yet

Thinking about and recording emergency medical care choices is not about death. It is all about how you wish to be treated while you are alive.

Tips for setting up Advanced Care InstructionsSomeday, you may be brought to a hospital in critical condition. You may be confused or unable to answer questions that are asked of you. You are not dead and, in actuality (and hopefully), you might not die.

If you are sedated and admitted to the hospital, how will the staff know who to contact and what you like or want?

When I worked as a hospital chaplain, I cared for a young man who was in a coma. The nursing staff realized that he became agitated when the room was quiet. His family brought in music from several of his favorite recording artists. When the music was played, he rested peacefully. How did his family know what to do? He told them in advance.

My point is that hospital or medical care is not just about physical care. It should and does include emotional and spiritual care as well as basic life preferences.

This can even help when the situation is not as critical. For instance, my wife, Naomi, hates to sleep with the blankets tucked tightly around her feet. If something should happen to her, I want to make sure that she is as comfortable as possible. Because I know her wishes, I will be able to relay this to the nursing staff.

While writing an Advance Directive is detailed and usually focuses mainly on end-of-life or death decisions, the following questions may help others care for you when you are critically ill.

What other kinds of non-medical information should the medical staff know about you?

Can you answer the following questions?

  • If I am admitted to the hospital or I am facing a long recuperation, either at home or in a rehabilitation facility, who would I want to be notified and wish to come visit?
  • Is it okay to post information about my illness or injury on social media?
  • Am I more afraid of being in pain or being drugged to the point of not being able to visit with people?
  • Are there any particular foods that would make me happy (assuming that I have the approval of the doctor)?
  • Do I prefer quiet in my room or do I want music? If music, what kind?
  • If I am unable to read, would I like audiobooks or someone to read to me?
  • If I am in a coma or drugged, do I want someone just to sit with me?
  • Do I want my rabbi, priest or other spiritual leader to visit me?
  • Do I want the person who makes decisions to be the Emergency Room doctor or would I rather have someone who knows me and knows what I want to make those decisions?
  • If I have identified a person to speak on my behalf (medical power of attorney or agent), does he or she know what I want to happen if current treatment is not working?

Remember, you may be healthy and active now, but don’t put off making some of these decisions today. Think of it like a health insurance policy. Hopefully you will never have to use it, but if you do, it is great to know it is available! Knowing what you want to happen is only the first step in the process. Writing your wishes down is the second. Telling someone whom you trust is essential.