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Author: Barb BermanCloset Clothing Clutter Organizing Uncategorized

A Professional Organizer Using a Professional Organizer

Yes, I did (and was so glad I did)!!

I am the first to admit that I used a Professional Organizing colleague and friend to help me with something I’ve been meaning to do for years. She helped me go through my closets and determine what to keep and what to finally give away.

My reluctance was four-fold:

  1. I should be able to do this on my own (For goodness sake, I do exactly this with my clients.)
  2. I’d have to admit that some of the clothes I own no longer fit (I hear the same thing from my clients.)
  3. I’d have to admit that one or two items still had the tags on them (I am pretty good about wearing what I buy, but obviously these couple of items slipped through the cracks.)
  4. I do this all day for my clients, so the last thing I want to do is to go through my own stuff when I get home.

I finally bit the bullet and hired my friend. It was the best money I’d spent in a while. In four hours, we got through all my clothes closets. I had a ton of clothes and hangers to donate, all of which went to a women’s shelter in Camden, NJ. My closets have room now, I have bunches of hangers I can use for anything new that I buy, I feel free, and I know that these clothes can be used by those not as fortunate as I.

So, what does it say about a Professional Organizer asking for help from a Professional Organizer? Some of you may wonder why I couldn’t do this by myself.

Firstly, I was able to ask for help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. We all have strengths, and we all face challenges in our lives. Why not ask for help when needed? 

Secondly, what I experienced is exactly what my clients experience, and that was worth its weight in gold. I think I’m a pretty empathetic person, but this solidified it for me. I tried on clothes that I wasn’t sure about, and since my colleague was not emotionally invested in anything (but my parents bought that blouse in Greece for me a zillion years ago) and only had my best interest at heart, I was able to let go of mostly everything. I was bound and determined to get through the closets.

Thirdly, I had a stake in the game. The date was set, and I knew that since I was paying for the service, I was very prepared and determined to get through this project in a timely manner. I compared this to having a personal trainer. Once you pay for something, aren’t you more apt to follow through? 

The funny thing about this is after the 4 hours, my colleague asked me if I was going to go through any of the clothes and pull things out that I think I may still want to keep. I laughed, said no, and realized I ask the same question to my clients.

Just because you have room for things, like I did, doesn’t mean you have to keep them, especially if you aren’t using them anymore. Perhaps the time is right for you to ask for help with your organizing projects.

Author: Darla PompilioCloset Clothing Clutter healthy living Organizing Productivity Time Management

Cultivate Your Space to Change Your Life

People hire organizers because they feel their lives are out of control and they are unable to get organized on their own. Frequently the problem is simply having too much stuff to organize. Often the weight of too many possessions can wear us down. When our space is cluttered and dis-organized it can impact every facet of our lives.

When the burden of too much clutter is lifted from our shoulders, we can feel physically lighter, more energetic and less stressed. This relief can lead to increased work productivity, greater enthusiasm and better relationships.

The question we need to ponder is why do we purchase so much in the first place?  There are a number of explanations for this compulsion. Often, we simply want to possess the latest and greatest stuff because we think it’s fun to own!   We live in a consumer culture and we often validate ourselves by what and how much we can accumulate. Consumerism and materialism are promoted by advertisers in print and on TV and computers in the form of commercials. According to Annie Leonard who wrote, “The Story of Stuff”, the two main activities Americans engage in are watching TV and shopping. We are bombarded by advertising and are exposed to approximately 3,000 ads per day. We see more ads in a day then people saw in a year 50 years ago. Couple that with the fact that the average house size has doubled since the 1970’s and it becomes easy to see why we accumulate so much “stuff”.

Sadly, in order to maintain our lifestyles of consumption, many people are working 50+ hours per week. We work until we are exhausted and depleted and then we shop to make us feel better. We return home too tired to do much else than watch TV and the cycle begins anew!

Is this the way we really want to lead our lives? If so, fine. If not, then it’s time to rethink our goals and blithely step off that hamster wheel of consumption and examine saner options.

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: Amanda JeffersonCloset Clothing General Wardrobe Management

How to Get Dressed (Hint: Wear the Same Thing(s) ALL THE TIME)

KonMari Method

I’m a professional organizer with a minimalist streak, so my clients often ask me: “Do you wear the same thing every day?”

The answer is …. Sort of.

I don’t necessarily wear the EXACT SAME THING EVERY DAY, but yes, I have about 4-5 outfits that I wear ALL THE TIME.

Why do I do that?

We make 35,000 decisions a day. That drains us.

As a business owner, mom and CFO and COO (and housekeeper and launderer …) of our household, I’ve got A LOT TO DO. So the last thing I want to waste my energy on is figuring out what the heck to wear.

So, my general formula is:

  • I wear mostly black, dark blue, white and gray.
  • I usually wear black leggings with a tunic-style shirt. (My fave leggings are here: Athleta – pricey but worth it – and Old Navy – inexpensive, so you can buy several).
  • I try to buy higher quality items so that they last longer and wash better.
  • I choose things can be dressed up or dressed down.
  • I wear things that are comfortable.
  • I have to feel amazing in it. (Like, you-might-run-into-your-celebrity-crush great)
  • Oh, and NO ironing!

And that’s about it. There’s no magic formula. There’s no exact number of items. There are no rules.

Ok, so now you may be thinking. Sounds great, Amanda. All puppies and butterflies. But how the heck do I get to that point??

Here’s a few things to try:

Pare it down

  • Kondo It – The KonMari MethodTM provides a great path for making sure EVERYTHING in your closet “sparks joy”. You can get this done in less than 5 hours, with a patient friend or a professional organizer like me. Check out my step-by-step blog post here.
  • Edit often – Sometimes I’ll catch a non-joy-sparking offender in my closet and ask myself “How the heck did you survive in here this long?” Toss it in a basket in your closet, and when the basket is full, donate it.
  • Keep a shopping list – I use Wunderlist to keep a running list of things I need. I do NOT wander aimlessly through the mall. Right now, I need a black camisole and black crew socks. That’s it.

The Bottom Line

When you are at a stage in life where you’ve just got TOO MUCH TO DO, then DO LESSChannel your inner Steve Jobs (black tee and jeans!), make one less decision, and kick your morning off right.

Author: Kelly GalfandClothing General Organizing Productivity Time Management Tips

Avoid “Laundry Overwhelm” with Time-Saving Folding Tips

As a residential professional organizer, I visit lots of homes. One household system that is quick to fall apart and overwhelm a person is LAUNDRY.

I have strong opinions on laundry:
• dark and light clothing should be separated (my children do not all agree)
• “laundry” is not done until it is all put away

You don’t have to share those views, but I see on a weekly basis how the “putting away” is where the system breaks down. Most of us are pretty good starting the laundry process. There is an obvious and inevitable external motivation to wash clothes when one runs out of clean socks or underwear. Many people are also decent at shifting the wet clothes over to the dryer. The widespread access to timers on our phones has made this step particularly easy for even the “follow-through-challenged.”

I see “laundry overwhelm” during the next 2 points in the system:
1) clean but not yet folded clothes that remain clean…until they get mixed with dirty clothes or buried under other stuff
2) folded clothes in baskets — when not returned to dresser drawers or closets they clog bedrooms and hallways and hold laundry baskets hostage creating a problem for dirty clothes who remain “homeless”

If we focus on these 2 connected steps along the process: 1) folding and 2) putting away and employ task batching, the process goes smoother.

Task batching is a way to manage time and perform tasks in sets where the same mental effort and physical energy is used to maximize productivity and streamline a process.

Even if laundry is not the most stressful task, any project you can simplify will free up your mind for the heavy lifting of life. If you’re a procrastinator, my suggestion to task batch your folding and put away steps is good news! It decreases the distance between start and finish and builds in lots of manageable size “loads.” More, but smaller tasks to quickly complete, offer the satisfaction of a job well done!

Task Batching will decrease laundry time and increase productivity!

Take this example of table linens – out of the dryer and onto a folding surface.

Task Batched Folding Steps would look like this:

• Sort clean laundry into categories: if you mix loads from a whole household, your first sort job will be by person, then by category of clothing (socks, underwear, shirts that fold, shirts that hang, bottoms, work out clothing, pajamas…etc).

Time-Saving Laundry Tips - Step 1: Sort

Step 1: sort into categories: this load broke down into hand towels, dish towels and cloth napkins.

• Prep each category so it’s ready to be folded (right any clothes that are inside out or button collars).

• Fold each category separately – meaning one category at a time – preferably on a clean and flat surface.

Fold laundry by category.

• Do all of your folding at once.

  • When you sort by category you are also sorting by location and your folded piles are easy to put where they belong.
  • Put each category away in its right “home”.

Task Batching to streamline your laundry process.

Step 2: fold each mini pile as its own category.
Our cloth napkins need to be ironed so they’ll stay on the ironing board.
The other 2 folded piles will go into their appropriate drawers in the kitchen.

Will task batching your folding process solve all of your laundry dilemma’s? No — but folding by category allows you to delegate small pieces of the project to even the youngest helpers and lets others take pride in the smooth running of the household if you’re lucky enough to live with people who will “volunteer” or as in our household, be volunteered to help 🙂

Author: Martha SpittalClothing Clutter General Home Organizing Productivity Wardrobe Management

80/20 Your 2018

Have you ever gotten to the end of your day wondering what (if anything) of value you actually accomplished? If so, it may be time to pull out the 80/20 Rule!

Professional organizers often apply the 80/20 Rule (a.k.a., the Pareto Principle or the Law of the Vital Few) to decluttering. For example, in a closet, determine the 20% of clothes you wear 80% of the time, purge the 80% of clothes you seldom or never use, and – voila! – you have space for clothes more like your favorite few.

The principle also applies to time. Most of us accomplish 80% of our best work in just 20% of our time, and fritter away 80% of our time doing…what? The key to really accomplishing our goals, to really making an impact, is to focus on the 20% of things we are really good at.

Determining our best 20% when it comes to clothes is pretty straightforward: pull everything out of the closet and start sorting: things I love (or not), things that fit (or not), things that make me look great (or not), etc.

But how do we determine our best 20% when it comes to work? Claire Diaz-Ortiz, in the book Design Your Day, suggests this similar pull-out-and-sort activity to find out:

First, get two pieces of paper. At the top of one write “Big Wins” and on the other write “Activities.”

On the “Big Wins” paper, list things that you’ve done in the past few years, personally or professionally, that have brought you the greatest joy, that have made you feel most alive, that have made you feel like you were in the sweetest of sweet spots. These could be things that happened just once, or continuing things.

On the “Activities” paper, list absolutely everything you do on a regular basis – fun or not fun, significant or not significant, necessary or unnecessary, whatever. Then sort these items into three categories: Things Only I Can Do, Things Someone Else Can Do, and Things I Should Stop Doing. (It might help to rewrite your activities on a fresh piece of paper with three columns headed with these categories.)

Next, cross-check. Things that appear on both your “Big Wins” list and your “Things Only I Can Do” list are your best 20%!

Now, set priorities:

  1. First Priority = Big Wins + Things Only You Can Do
  • These key activities are what you should focus on, but you could also think about if there are ways you could do them in even less time.
  1. Second Priority = Big Wins + Things Someone Else Can Do
  • These are things that need doing, but that could be delegated. You can better do your best work if you’re not trying to do everything!
  1. Third Priority = Things Only You Can Do
  • These items need to be evaluated carefully, because they are not on your list of Big Wins.
  • This category will have important necessities (sleep, doctor’s appointments) and other things that are just time-drains.
  1. Not a Priority = Things You Should Stop Doing
  • Cut it out! (But, don’t be afraid to leave some fun, non-productive activities that rejuvenate you or bring you rest.)

As Diaz-Ortiz says, “ultimately, this activity is a mind-opening way to see where your time and work is really moving the needle and where you’re just running on the hamster wheel to stay busy.”

Let 2018 be the year where you focus on the few vital tasks that best get you to where you want to be.

80/20 your 2018!