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!

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.