Author: Sherry CastaldiHome Office

10 Home Office Organizing Tips

Is your office the epitome of a work station or a storage facility?  If your home office isn’t “working” for you, here are 10 Home Office Organizing Tips to help you get your office in efficient working order.

1.  Designate an incoming mail area.  We are all inundated with paper daily.  Do not just lay it on your counter, desk or the first available space you find.

2.  Have pre-determined and labeled bins or folders to sort your mail into.

3.  When you are ready to look through your mail be prepared to sort it to the appropriated areas.  Do not continue to pick up the mail, look through it and return it to a pile unsorted.

4.  Keep your trashcan or paper recycling container close by so as you sort, you can toss what you do not need.

5.  Keep your shredder close by if you choose to shred any junk mail that you feel has sensitive information on it.

6.  Keep as many items as possible off your desk and in appropriate files, drawers, containers or storage areas.  You cannot work at your desk if your desktop is a storage facility unto itself.

7.  Keep your “tools”: pens, pencils, stapler, paperclips, etc. together either in an easy to reach top drawer or neatly in desktop containers.

8.  Make a filing system that works for you, so you have a place to file or store paper information and documents in your office.

9.  If something no longer has a purpose to you, such as expired coupons, a broken stapler or anything irrelevant – dispose of it.

10.  Your office space should feel good to you.  If it’s cluttered and messy you won’t want to use it.

Remember: Organizing is an on-going process, just like laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc.

Mail, paper and clutter are incoming daily, so organizing what is incoming and maintaining organization is continuous as well.  With an organized system in place, maintaining an organized space is much easier and more time efficient!

Author: Ellen FayeGeneral Spiritual and Holistic

What is an Organizer Coach?

professional organizer (noun)

1. A Professional Organizer enhances the lives of clients by designing systems and processes using organizing principles and through transferring organizing skills. (source: National Association of Professional Organizers)

professional coach (noun)

1. A trained professional who partners with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. (source: International Coaching Federation)

Professional Organizers’ work is extraordinarily valuable to many different individuals in many different situations.  Learning new ways to manage space and time can have a dramatic impact on improving the quality of peoples’ lives.

Professional Organizers’ work encompasses many different situations.  Sometimes Organizers:

  • teach techniques and develop better ways to do things
  • provide supportive guidance and assistance to work through accumulations of papers, files, toys, clothing, memorabilia and family heirlooms
  • share ideas about better ways to use and enjoy existing spaces

But sometimes the actual act of organizing isn’t enough.  For some people it is important to delve into the “whys”.  With an Organizer Coach those clients can spend time:

  • gaining clarity around the long term vision for one’s situation and how disorganization impacts their quality of life
  • understanding why it is that being organized is important
  • anchoring the actions of becoming organized with their long term goals

The synergy of organizing and coaching can bring dramatic results.  Coupling the WHY with the HOW helps to ensure motivation and commitment that leads to the completion of an organizing project.

If you think the combination of organizing and coaching is something that you’d benefit from, I urge you to consider a Professional Organizer who is skilled and trained in both of these areas.

Many members of the Greater Philadelphia chapter of NAPO are trained and/or certified as a Coach.  As with organizing, differing emphasis are found throughout the coaching profession, but all coaches trained to International Coach Federation standards will have competencies in ensuring the client’s work is congruent with their needs, values, and situations.

Author: Darla DeMorrowConsignment Donating

Is it Better To Consign or Donate? The Economics of Purging

Babies don’t stay babies for long. My babies have grown out of baby bug rattles and hundreds of adorable, cute outfits. ‘Tis the season for fall consignment sales, especially for childrens’ clothes. My clients are often tortured with the idea that by donating their goods, they are somehow losing money. Is selling on consignment, eBay, or Craigslist any better? I decided to run the math on my own involvement in a community consignment sale and see how it compares to donation values.

Let’s set aside the emotional distress tied up in pawing through teeny tiny clothes, hand-knitted sweaters and beautiful booties. Look, I’m a professional, and even I did a mini fashion show for my husband as I tagged items for sale. (Aaaaw, remember her in this cute little outfit? It hardly looks worn!)

Let’s examine facts. I had about 250 outfits, shoes, and baby gear that were consignable:  in good shape, no stains or tears, matched in complete outfits, and looking like-new or lightly-worn.  I signed on to be part of a local one-day only sale, but working with a consignment store is similar.

First came the scramble for child-sized hangers. Clothes on hangers tend to sell better. Every dollar I spent on prep would reduce my profit, so I scoured Freecycle and hit up friends and clients, but it was tough coming up with enough extra hangers.

Using straight pins to attach sale tags is a no-no. One DollarTree package of safety pins cost, yep, just one buck. Sale tags were provided by the event host, but some sales require consignors to print tags at home, adding paper and printer ink costs.

Then came the real cost. Little outfits had to be checked for condition, put on hangers, steamed in some cases, grouped and priced. I spent at least 10 hours, maybe 15 hours or more.  At minimum wage of $7.25 my “cost” for time spent would have been at least $73 bucks.

Last came the trip to the sale site for drop off. Loading items and delivering to the sale site took a little more than an hour, so rack up another roughly $10 in opportunity cost and aggravation.

Now comes the fun part. Each sale works a bit differently, so read up on what’s available in your area. This sale gave 60% of the proceeds back to the consignor.  I opted to volunteer at the sale and earn a higher percentage of the earnings, in my case 75%.  I donated two hours of volunteer time for greater profit and an additional shot at end-of-day markdowns.  I scored big, getting an all-wood three-piece play kitchen for just $10.

I priced nearly all my items at $2. Price items to sell, for sure. Remember, folks, pricing something unreasonably high at a consignment sale actually lowers your chance of earning any profit at all. Most people come to these sales for deals, so play along or don’t play.

Potential Results:

  • potential gross = $500
  • potential take = $375 (that’s 75%)
  • potential net (minus my costs) = $292

My results:

  • actual gross = $192
  • actually paid to me =$144
  • actual net (minus my costs) = $61

I’m not surprised that $61 is just about what I spent at that very same sale. My check came in about two weeks. Unsold items can be donated by the host, but I picked up mine to take to another sale or perhaps donate for the tax deduction.  That means I dragged home 150 outfits, which was no easy haul back out to the car, but they are still worth another roughly $75 back on my taxes when properly documented.

So was it worth it? People who itemize deductions, about one-third of us, can use charitable donations on Schedule A. If I had bagged and dropped off those same 250 items at my local Goodwill, I would have been able to assign a thrift value to them of the same $2, and taken the deduction on my taxes next April.  My donation would have reduced my taxable income by the value donated ($500), and reduced my tax bill by about $125. (Note: Please check with your tax advisor regarding your situation.) Hmmm, that is suspiciously close to my net, but without the time that I spent prepping, delivering and retrieving my unsold items, and volunteering at the event.

So should you or shouldn’t you?  If you enjoy consignment sales, if you absolutely need the cash more than the time, or if you have some current, quality items that you know people are willing to pay top dollar for, then go the consignment route. I appreciate it, because I’ll probably be buying your stuff.  Just remember, the longer you wait to send items to consignment, the less likely they will be trendy and desirable. If, however, time is more valuable to you, then donate your goods to a charity like Goodwill or any local charity that will provide a receipt for tax purposes, knowing that the financial outcome to your bottom line will likely be similar.

Author: Sue FrostProductivity Spiritual and Holistic

Be Perfectly Imperfect

People always ask if my home is perfect, and I say it functions perfectly.  I’ll let you read between the lines there.  Striving for perfection can be an obstacle in itself.  Most people are surprised to learn that perfectionism is a common reason for disorganization.

Common problems with perfectionism and organization:
•    Perfectionists might say to themselves, “If I don’t have time to do it right, I’ll wait until I do have time.”
•    Waiting for a “good” time doesn’t work.  The time will never present itself.  You need to schedule it.
•    Parkinson’s Law says that work expands to fill the time allowed for it.
•    The law of diminishing indicates that the more we hone, tweak, and perfect the less efficient and effective we become.  We also neglect other important projects.
•    The project waits, grows, and becomes a big, hairy monster.

It’s not important to do everything perfectly.  In fact, if you think of organization as a spectrum, perfection is one end and extreme disorder is on the other.  A healthy balance is really the best middle ground.  Always having every dish put away, every toy in the toy box, and every surface clear is unrealistic.  The important things to remember are:

•    Every item should have a home.
•    Everyone needs to know where those homes are located.
•    Storing things closest to where they are used simplifies retrieval and return.
•    Set limits on how much is enough.  “More” can undermine organization and make maintenance more work.
•    Storing like items together in containers helps to stay on top of inventory.
•    Planning a time to clean-up is part of every project, not something we do another time.

Perfectionism paralyzes action.  Done is better than perfect!

The next time you feel paralyzed by perfection, remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing.  The next best thing you can do is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Yours truly,
A former perfectionist

Author: Sherry CastaldiGeneral Home Organizing

10 Closet Organizing Tips

Looking for a calmer more relaxed start to the day? Consider starting your day by selecting your clothing and accessories from an Organized Closet.  Here are 10 Closet Organizing Tips to get you started.

1.    Use identical style hangers; wooden, clear plastic or tubular to give your closet consistency.

2.    Return metal hangers back to the dry cleaners as they leave indentations in your clothing and are not as sturdy as other style hangers.

3.    Purge, Purge, Purge.  If it doesn’t fit, is out of style, you never liked it, have no use for it, know you will never wear it – Donate It! This includes clothes, shoes, purses, and accessories.

4.    Do not hang your sweaters.   Neatly fold and store either in drawers or on closet shelving or neatly in containers.

5.    Have baskets or bins available for laundry and dry cleaning to keep laundry off the floor.

6.    Use shoe shelving to keep shoes organized in pairs and off the floor.

7.    Store small accessory items in drawers or small containers on shelves.

8.    Hang belts, scarves and ties for easy viewing and access.

9.    Do not store unrelated items in closets, such as; kids games with your clothes, husband’s clothing in baby’s room, kitchenware in coat closet.  Keep coats in the coat closets. Baby clothes in the baby’s rooms. Games with games, etc.

10.    Always take the extra minute to put things where they belong, such as hanging up a coat or putting shoes in a closet.

Remember:  Organizing is an on-going process, just like laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc.

New items are always coming into your home and other items are losing their function or style. You must continuously take stock of your inventory to keep it organized.

With an organized system in place, maintaining an organized space is much easier and more time efficient!

Author: Ellen TozziClutter General Spiritual and Holistic

Using Visualization to Aid the De-cluttering Process

Finding the motivation to de-clutter one’s home and maintain “order in the house” can be challenging for clutter-bugs and busy people.  Some are motivated when they are tired of being embarrassed; others are moved to action by nagging spouses or the arrival of company.  Working away from what you don’t want can be inspiring but the effects are not always long lasting.

Working toward what you want produces greater inspiration and longer-lasting results.  How, exactly, do you work toward what you want?  Simply through visualizing what you want and noting how you feel.  Let’s try it out:

Get comfortable, relax and close your eyes.  Focus on your breathing for a moment.  Picture yourself walking into your home – not your house as it is now, but rather your IDEAL HOME.  What does the first room look like?  Is it clutter-free and redecorated?  Look in the closets, cabinets and drawers – what do they look like?  Notice how you feel when you’re in your ideal room.  Do you feel calm, peaceful and confident?  Take a mental snapshot of the room for future reference.  Continue to tour your home, one room at a time.  How does it look?  How do you feel?  Take mental snapshots as you go.

Now notice how you IDEALLY OPERATE in your de-cluttered home.  Do you clean up without effort, gliding through your home every morning and evening, putting items back to their assigned homes?  Perhaps someone else handles these chores in your ideal world.  Do you juggle your responsibilities with ease?  Are you aware of what needs to get done?  Do you prioritize with clarity, delegate with ease and float from one task to another while “in the zone”?  How do you feel as you easily manage your time and tasks?  Preserve this image in your mind’s eye.

Come back to earth!  If you’re like most people, you found the visualization to be calming and inspiring.  You know what you’d like your home to look like and you know how you’d like to be in it.  You now have a photo gallery of visualized rooms and a mental video tape of a way of behaving.

Use these visualization tools to inspire action and keep going.  If you’re sorting your clutter and start to feel overwhelmed, stop, go within and look at your mental photos to remember how calm and empowered you felt in a home that nurtures you instead of one that drains you.  Face your clutter again and ask yourself if it fits in with your vision of your IDEAL home.  If it doesn’t, let it go and enjoy the resulting lightness of being.