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Author: Carole WeinstockChallenging Disorganization General

It Takes Courage To Make Changes

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever” – Keri Russell

With every step, change happens. Every step counts, even baby steps. People struggle with disorganization, sometimes silently until those nagging thoughts get you in action. Nagging thoughts like – I can’t live this way anymore, I used to be organized, I don’t know what’s happened?, what happened to my home?,  I need some help!, or I can’t do this alone.  These thoughts  generate actions which result in one of the first steps in change.

Just acknowledging the thoughts can be a breakthrough for some, which indicates awareness!  Then the inquiry of finding the “right ” person to help. Right meaning the person who will support you in taking these steps. It might be sharing these thoughts with others or asking other people, which entails revealing what you may be embarrassed to talk about.  Or, taking the time to search the web. Getting up the guts to email or call a professional organizer. Then comes spilling your guts to them, even though you feel ashamed, or embarrassed yet relieved afterward. Then clearing time in your busy schedule to make an appointment. Next, working hand in hand on a scheduled day with this person. Listening and being open to their suggestions. Purging items you never thought you would or could! Allowing these once called treasures to leave your premises, even that same day! Feeling pleased with the results of your hard work. Maybe even planning another work session to do more.

So you see, many steps have been taken. They add up quickly and often are not even acknowledged. Usually these distressful feelings color your view enough that self acknowledgment isn’t there. Now is the time to recognize what steps you have taken.  To pat yourself on the back for your hard work, commitment and taking action. Even in the face of fear or humiliation. You have now transformed your home , your space and ultimately yourself.

Who likes change? Most people don’t. The process of organization is ultimately all about change.  Ironically, if you have taken all these steps you’ve already embarked into the unknown.  New possibilities are awaiting you!

“CHANGE ALWAYS COMES BEARING GIFTS” –  Price Pritchett

Author: Anna SicalidesFamily General

What Do Professional Organizers Do When a Loved One Dies?

This is not going to be a blog post about a hysterically funny, smart lady that I loved. No this is about the process we had to go through to empty my mother-in-law’s apartment after she passed away. We had to accomplish this task in 2 days. Yikes.

Organization was a must here. My husband, we will call him “Mr. Executor”, came to me (his Personal Professional Organizer) to figure out how to achieve his mother’s goals, make sure everyone was treated fairly, and get the job done quickly.

First, we were surprised at how much actually was in her apartment. It always looked so nice. My mother in law had good taste and liked to shop!

  • First we determined what the move out date would be, since we had to pay by the day for her apartment the sooner, the better.
  • From here I created a spreadsheet of all the apartment contents. We only inventoried the furniture, decor and artwork, all the other items were going to be distributed between the brothers with the balance being donated.

Mr. Executor was concerned that everyone would want the same items. This was going to be the challenge, so he thought.

  • I sent the spreadsheet to the brothers along with a set of rules to clarify the process. They checked off what they wanted and returned the spreadsheet to me.
  • I cut and pasted their list of items into the master spreadsheet and compared them. Happily there were only a couple of lamps that more than one person wanted. Luckily those few items were easily decided (no one had their heart set on them).
  • All of the clothing would be donated; the brothers didn’t want any part of this process. I got to work with my laptop, trash bags and Its Deductible started listing. All the shoes went to the NAPO Philadelphia Soles 4 Souls campaign..
  • We also decided that the small valuables (think jewelry and silver) as well as the photos would be done at a later date. They were sent to our house to be secured until that time came.
  • Thursday Mr. Executor, myself, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law got there bright and early with our boxes, tape guns, and trash bags. We needed to pack everything and have it ready for the Friday afternoon truck.

We found some party hats, noisemakers, and a magic wand, in the spirit of my mother in law we wore these the better part of the 2 days and had a lot of laughs. This she would have appreciated!

  • Basically at this point my sister in law and I took over, since all of the furniture, décor and most of the artwork was already decided that left the boring stuff to us…dishes, pots and pans, the bathroom, and linens. We determined who could use what, it was packed into boxes for her house and my house.
  • Friday afternoon the trucks came we packed my brother-in-laws stuff in one of them. Did a delivery to West Chester, the rest on to Pittsburgh. The second truck got loaded, delivered everything to my house, then went back to collect the donations and dropped them off.

We were done! Oh I forgot we still have the small valuables to do one of these days. Since we had such a great experience with the spreadsheet, we will do that again, with photos this time!

We were anticipating the worst-case scenario where emotions would get the best of everybody. With some organization, coordination, and ground rules, this was a very successful family event. We actually had some fun along with the tears!

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!