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Author: Sue FrostGeneral Home Organizing

Less Stuff, More Life – Count Your Blessings, Let Go of Your Burdens

I may have adopted my minimalist mentality from Aunt Evelyn.  She was the self proclaimed “first career girl” in the family. (“Career girl” was progressive language for someone born in 1918.) Working in Manhattan all her adult life, she had a great sense of style, built an impressive wardrobe, and had all the right accessories.

You couldn’t throw compliments around too freely in Aunt Ev’s presence.  One day I said, “Oh what a beautiful pin!  It matches that outfit perfectly.”  She asked if I really liked it, took the pin off, and handed it to me.

Seeing that I was mortified, Aunt Ev reasoned, “The first half of life you accumulate things, the next half of life you give them away.”  In one gesture she demonstrated her generosity and her practicality.  She was simply finished with the pin and gave it to someone who would appreciated it.

As we mature, build our homes, and climb the professional ladder, we accumulate clothing, furnishings, and decorative objects to fill our needs.  Our friends remember our preferences via birthday and holiday gifts.  Before we know it, our homes are filled with collections comparable to those at the Smithsonian.

After your needs are met, for every one thing coming in to your home one thing needs to leave, or clutter will accumulate.  Professional Organizers often ask clients if an item is useful, beautiful in their eyes, or if they love the object.  If a negative response is received to all of the above, the item may have outgrown its usefulness.

If you’re trying to organize a room, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the purpose of this space? Items in the space should support that purpose.
  • As you come across items that are not used in the space, ask, “Where do I use this?” Move the item to that area.
  • “Does this item help or hinder my goal? If it’s a hinderance, a gently used item can be given to someone who will appreciate it, a’ la Aunt Evelyn. Donation is one of my favorite ways to deal with a bulk of items that are still useful.  If unnecessary items are worn or soiled be thankful for their usefulness and let them go.

Everything that comes into your possession requires care. Once you bring something home from the store you will be caring for it indefinitely.  So, make sure it’s really worth the investment.

The lifecycle of your new item goes something like this:  You spend hard earned money on it, possibly make payments on it, make room for it, wash it, dust it, polish it, fold it, maintain it, and eventually decide how to get rid of it.  Some people even hide it from their spouses.

Clients often tell me they feel a surprising sense of abundance after purging.  That’s because they are surrounded only by the things they love, clothing that fits and feels good, and rid of the burden of disorganization.

I believe the best way to stay organized, recycle, or save the planet is at the cash register.  If you set out to the mall to replace an often-used pair of shoes and see something irresistible on the way to the cash register, refer to these questions before you ring up that spontaneous purchase:

  • Do I need it?
  • Where will I put it?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Do I love it?
  • Does it help or hinder reaching my goal of order?

Lastly, think about it overnight.  If you still need it, go for it.

I once read that Ghandi owned only a few possessions at the time he died: simple clothing, a pair of sandals, a pocket watch, and a pair of eye glasses.  While I believe minimalism makes for a simplified life, we don’t need to be as successful with it as Ghandi to reap the rewards. I won’t be parting with my anti-wrinkle cream, anti-frizz hair products, or make-up any time soon.  But, I set reasonable limits that save space and money.

Listen to the thousands of advertising messages inundating you daily with a skeptical ear.  Only you know what you need.  Be aware that space is finite.  If you want an uncluttered space be discerning about what you put in it.

Aunt Ev passed away last month, but she left me a wonderful gift and a life changing lesson.  You can give the perfect gift without spending a dime – a gift to a loved one, a perfect stranger via donation, and a gift to yourself – the gift of organization.

Author: Anna SicalidesClutter General Holidays

28 Last Minute & Clutter Free Gifts

Ok, so you missed Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  You can still give great gifts!

Here are some ideas for gifts that you can pick up this week. Lately there are a lot of gift certificates that you can buy online, and then print! Instantaneous.

Service Gifts

Entertainment

Memberships

  • Museums
  • …of the Month Clubs – they have everything from perfume to cigars to dog treats and peanut butter!

Consumables

Classes

  • Cooking classes – great for the beginner and the gourmet cook.
  • Art lessons
  • Yoga
  • Personal trainer

Financial

  • Charitable donation in someone’s name – are they interested in art, the environment, education?  Just look at all the requests that you are getting on the mail for ideas. Check them out here before you make your purchase.
  • Gift Cards – available pretty much in every grocery or drug store.

Hopefully this list will give you some last minute gift ideas that will make your life easier and your gift recipient happy! The extra bonus is that these gifts will not create or increase the clutter in one’s life.

If you have any other ideas, please let us know… we are always looking for new ideas.

Author: Naomi CookGeneral Holidays

‘Tis the Season for Regifting! (Fa la la la la, la la la la)

Do you have closets filled with items that you have never used?  Is money a bit tight these days?  Does the thought of shopping in crazy crowds make you feel sick?  Consider regifting this holiday season and you can go shopping in your own home!

Did you know that December 15th, 2011 is National Regifting Day?  What a great way to save some money and clear your closets at the same time!  Here are 3 valuable benefits to regifting:

1) You Save Space – Go on a scavenger hunt throughout your home for items that you have never used before and never plan to, or that you just don’t care for.  Why hang onto these things if they are just taking up precious space?  Unless it is a family heirloom, don’t feel like you need to hold onto anything you don’t want to.

  • In the Pantry look for good bottles of wine that have been unopened and other non-perishables that have come from gift baskets like unusual  jams and mustards.  As for that mystery fruitcake that has been sitting on the top shelf forever, please throw it away…nobody wants it, probably not even the raccoons who like to dig in your trash can!
  • In the Coat Closet look for unworn hats, scarves and mittens that aren’t your style or that jacket that you thought you wanted at the time, but that still has its tags on.
  • In the Bathroom/Linen Closet look for unused jarred candles, body care gift baskets and makeup kits.
  • In the Bedroom Closets look for sweaters that have never been worn.  Be sure though to check them to make sure no moths have taken a nibble out of them!
  • In the Hall Closet look for small housewares that are still boxed and board games that have never been played.

2) You Save Money – Like most of us feeling the effects of the down economy, buying gifts can create a lot of financial stress.  By regifting, you can treat your loved ones and colleagues to great items that just aren’t right for you.  However, make the gifts personal by buying new festive wrapping paper or a gift bag and a card that will make them laugh!

3) You Save Time – Since you don’t need to brave the mall, you can spend a little time to add a personal touch, like slipping a recipe or article that you know someone would appreciate, into their card.

All in all, have a happy and warm holiday season and most importantly don’t forget to make sure you don’t give the gift back to the person who gave it to you first!

Author: Annette ReymanClutter Holidays Home Organizing

Ten Clutter-Free Holiday Gifts

Need ideas for those hard to shop for people on your list?  Want to give something that won’t just sit around unused or add to anyone’s already full home?  Here are ten ideas for useful gifts to delight your friends and loved ones for the holidays:

1.  Collapsible fabric totes

These totes are the best!  They can be used in the top or bottom of a closet for a multitude of essentials: winter accessories, pet supplies, extra slippers, spare toiletries… just about anything!  And, when they’re not in use, they fold flat and store easily.  You can give a set of two or three, collapsed, or open each one up and fill them with snacks and treats to use as gift “baskets!”

2.  Slim non-slip hangers

Know someone with lots of clothes and not enough closet space?  These work great and take up less than half the bar space as the plastic ones.  Dress the gift up with a silk scarf (that will be sure not to slip off these hangers!)

3.  Craft Storage Case

Is there a knitter or crafter in the family?  So many craft stores now carry quite an array of craft supply organizers – from bead sorters to long knitting needle cases – thoughtful and practical gifts for anyone who loves to be creative.

4.  Under-bed Shoe Storage

Those zippered cloth shoe storage bags that can hold 10-14 pairs of shoes and slide right under the bed can be a perfect gift for someone who’s always wearing something different on their feet.  It keeps shoes out of the way, easy to reach and dust/pet hair free!  Want to add some pizzazz?  Top it with a pair of slippers or all-weather crocs.

5.  Lap Desk

Lap desks are perfect for almost anyone these days.  They offer a firm work surface while providing cushion for your legs.  They’re great for students sitting on a bed using a laptop or for grandma sitting on a couch doing a crossword puzzle.  And they store easily beside whichever seat you choose.

6.  Car Organizer

There are several different types of car and trunk organizers.  Some hang over the back of a seat and some sit upright on the floor or in the trunk.  Great for busy parents who are always on the go!

7.  Photo Storage Box

Although many stores carry photo organizers, my favorite type is the Power Sort Box sold by Creative Memories.  It holds and safely stores over a thousand photos and makes sorting them a snap!

If you know someone who has a lot of paper, numbers 8 or 9 might be the perfect gifts:

8.  Paper shredder

In this day and age of identity theft, there is nothing more necessary (or fun!) than having a paper shredder on hand.  It’s a wonderful gift of peace of mind.

9.  File Cabinet

If you’ve ever tried to battle with old file drawers that no longer slide easily, you can appreciate how much of a treat having a new, easy-gliding file cabinet would be!

10.  Gift Certificate

Make sure that any gift certificates you give can be used online or locally: Spa, Grocery Store, Movie Theatre, Babysitter… or time with a Professional Organizer!

Here’s wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and clutter-free holiday!

Author: Anna SicalidesGeneral Holidays Home Organizing

10 Tips To A Stress Free And Organized Holiday!

Dazzle your friends, family and maybe even yourself!  No more last minute holiday chaos for you.  Follow some of these tips and reap the rewards of a sane and organized holiday season!

Tip #1
If you use a lot of services, make sure you get them scheduled NOW.
•    Window cleaners
•    Carpet cleaners
•    Landscapers
•    Whoever installs your lights

Tip #2
Decide what date you will be decorating, set that time aside now. Many people do it Thanksgiving weekend. (Hopefully the weather will be good.)

Tip #3   Check & Order your wrapping supplies:
•    Personalized Wrapping Supplies
•    Eco Friendly
•    Bulk Wrapping Supplies

If you are having a party…

Tip #4    Choose your date (get it on the calendar and it will happen)

Tip #5    Create your guest list (you can always add and cut later)

Tip #6     Call your favorite caterer NOW

If you are doing a card…

Tip #7     Choose your photo now or, book your photographer holiday.

Tip #8    Review your mailing list

Tip #9    Choose how you are going to send your holiday cards:
Regular Card
, Photo frame, or the greenest of all Paperless Post

Tip #10    Create a holiday notebook (it can be digital, or paper). Create sections for your party, your cards, your gift lists, entertaining, travel, decorating. This is a great resource for the various components: List Plan-It

Now you have some tools that will help you approach the holidays with a smile on your face! Once you have these accomplished you will have a framework to sanity and organization. You will DAZZLE those around you, and maybe even yourself!

Author: Carole WeinstockGeneral Spiritual and Holistic

Family & Friends Mean Well

Family and friends watching loved ones drown in their clutter and despair can frustrate and un-nerve the person, ending up with emotions & angered words flying about! I’ve seen some very heated interactions when family & friends step in to “help” or “save” their loved ones. They mean well, although most times I have observed that they feel they can take the decision making away from the individual and that their opinions rule!

As human beings in this world we live in, we feel we own our things and place a lot of value on them, which means we have the right to do as we please with these things, and nobody else has the right to these decisions.

As professional organizers, we practice non-judgment, patience, mirroring what the client says, pointing out other point of views to consider, and being a support through this difficult new process. We listen, empathize, give moral support, and partner with them in accomplishing their goals.

I am writing this so people can learn to heal themselves with this process. The process as I stated in one of my other blogs, has many hidden components. These components are comprised of layers of emotions and thoughts not always recognized consciously. The healing can start with the person taking a stand for themselves with a family member. What does that mean? This may be the first time they have stood up and expressed what they believe or set boundaries. This will alter and impact future interactions with them in a positive manner. Once someone has a breakthrough like this, life alters.  Asking for professional help to assist does provide healing in a loving, nurturing and non-judgmental way. It can be a cry for help, and an acknowledgment of self-love for the first time! So, if you don’t hire a professional, you will probably experience some version of this.

Take a moment to be grateful to the people who care, and notice your distress. These special people in your life mean well, and are only expressing their love, and support for you. The key is to understand their commitment to you, and your well-being. BUT, remember to stay true to yourself and express your needs in a loving manner!