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Author: Naomi CookClothing Clutter Consignment Donating Wardrobe Management

Strike a Pose (In those new holiday clothes!)

Closet Woes...what to wear?

Look around everywhere you turn is clothing
It’s everywhere that you go [look around]
You try everything you can to escape
The pain of piles that you know [piles that you know]

When all else fails and you long to be
Something better than you are today
I know a place where you can get away
It’s called
The Container Store, and here’s what it’s for, so…

Come on, vogue
Let your body shop to the
muzak [shop to the muzak]
Hey, hey, hey
Come on, vogue
Let your body go with the flow [go with the flow]
You know you can do it!

-By Madonna, and slightly tweaked by me!   

So…the holidays are over now. You’ve probably returned some clothes that you received (perhaps an ugly holiday sweater) but still kept some as well.  Problem though…your closet is packed and there’s no room for even one more thing!

No worries, let’s take it step by step, so you don’t get overwhelmed! Do one step a day if you need.

Step 1 – Grab a trash bag and skim through the shelves and rods, and look for any items you obviously know that you don’t like to wear anymore, even if they fit fine. Put all the items in the bag(s), which you can take to consign (if you have expensive pieces) or donate. Immediately put the bag(s) in the trunk of your car. If they stay nearby, the level of temptation to put things back will be high. That’s why many Professional Organizers will offer to take your bags for you! Well that, plus we are just nice people who like helping others!

Step 2 – Shelf by shelf and with sections of hanging, bring the clothes out and set them on your bed. You are now going to look for items that are stained or ripped and beyond cleaning or repair. Again, if you have some expensive pieces, try your hand at a dry cleaner and a tailor. Otherwise, break out another trash bag and let those items go. Temptation isn’t nearly as high for this bag, right?!

Step 3 – Aside from the clothes that you like to wear left in the closet, there are bound to be many that you still hold onto for nostalgia’s sake or because you want them for when you can fit into them again. Perhaps you’ve heard the statistic that people wear only 20% of their clothing 80% of the time.  Don’t worry…I’m not going to be too hard on you here! Purchase some clear bins (perhaps at The Container Store!) that can sit on the top shelves of your closet. Those clothes will be going in there for now. You’ll still be aware that those items are there, but they won’t be taking up your valuable space. Every few months, or at least in another year, pull the bins down to gauge your feelings about the clothing inside.

Step 4 – Now’s the time for some fun! Put those new clothes on and dance around (perhaps doing the Vogue!) as if it is your own small fashion show, and celebrate the fact that you now have room for these new pieces!

Step 5 – After regaining your composure and your breath (ha ha) you can put your clothing on the many empty hangers that you have made available.

Here’s to you and a happy and clutter-free New Year!

Author: Anna SicalidesDocument Management Donating Family Filing General Goal Setting Home Office Organizing Productivity Receipts Tax Prep

I Love the End of the Year!

I look at the last week of the year as a super productive week since I am not scheduled to work, and I can spend time getting myself ready for the new year. I want to be as organized as possible before January 5, 2015, which is my first day back to work! Below is a list of suggestions that may help you start your new year off a bit more organized.

Donations Donation-Tips 1
-If you want to maximize your donations for the 2014 tax year, take one more look through your closets, bookshelves, cabinets, attics, basements and garages to pull anything out that needs to be donated. Children’s toys and books are usually a gold mine for most donation establishments.
-After the holidays, as you integrate your new gifts, take stock of your duplicates, triplicates or otherwise unwanted things that can be better utilized by others.
-Keep in mind that you shouldn’t wait until December 31 to drop off your donations, because if the center hits their capacity level, they may stop accepting donations.
-Some donation centers will pick up your unwanted goods as long as you are on their schedule. Some donation center choices are GreenDrop, Vietnam Veterans of America, The Salvation Army, and Impact Thrift Stores.
-Make your final online cash donations as soon as possible since you don’t want to get stuck with slow or crashing websites at the last minute.

Files Files
-Assuming that you have them, the end of the year is a great time to purge your old files and create new ones.  If you need help creating a filing system, a professional organizer can help. You can go to the ‘Find an Organizer’ tab at the top of this page.
-Go through your 2014 bills, pull them out of their files, and clip or band them together if you are going to need them for your taxes. If you don’t need them for your taxes, I would suggest shredding anything that has personal information or account numbers. Most of my clients shred their department store bills and hold onto some of their utility bills for another year (I think they just want the security of having them…just in case).
– A filing cabinet or file box are both great choices to keep your files organized and accessible.
-If you scan your bills and receipts, remember to create new files on your computer.

Hopefully, there is something here that will help you start 2015 off with a little more organization in your world.

Author: Carole WeinstockClutter Consignment Donating Downsizing General Organizing Room Transformation

More or Less, Finding Freedom

Simplify in word collageTypically in our society, we acquire items, things, and stuff.  We use our valuable time to acquire these so called treasures. It may have felt good to collect and accumulate. Yet, when it’s out of control it appears as clutter and usually those feelings change. Overwhelm shows up. That’s the signal, the “red flag”, that it is time to take some action. One action could be evaluating and accessing  the reasons you have what you have. We are not talking about items that serve a purpose, are useful, and make your life better.

Are you holding on dearly to the “stuff” that:

1. Represents “Who” I am, or “Who” I was, or “Who” I want to become

Do you like any of these “Who’s”? Sometimes they don’t align with who you are presently,  or they are reminders of the past, or even reminders of in-completions. If you don’t feel energized or happy with them, then why keep them around?

2. I may need this someday

Future thinking that could keep you up to your eyeballs in excess stuff. It could be said this indicates a lack of trust in the future. Our thoughts can create our reality. If unconsciously your thoughts are coming from a place of lack, you will create that. What do I mean? If you trust that you will have all you need , you will have it!

3. I got this as a gift

Just because your favorite person bought this doesn’t justify saving space for it if you don’t need, want, or like it. Re-gifting or donating gives it a new life from gathering dust or buried in a pile. Using places for unwanted items takes away your precious space.

4. Family relics that have been passed on to me

So maybe you have inherited these things that have no meaning or sentimental value to you. If you feel you want to memorialize the people, choose a few items and get creative. Make a shadow box or a special area to display them. If you will have joy and feel happy seeing these items in your home, then that’s what counts!

5. I feel secure having this/ Can’t have empty space

No matter how many possessions you acquire the need for more will occur. Remember to keep what makes you happy, and give away what you don’t like. If you don’t like empty space, look at why. Also keep in mind that no matter how much you have, keep these areas safe and accessible. This is your home and a place to retreat to from the outside world.

6. It cost so much/got it for free

It’s all relative to how you look at value. Whether you spent more on an item or got it for free it comes down to how you view this. When looking at an item in this category to purge or keep, check out if your beliefs or values around the money are holding you back from making the decision. This awareness may open you up to making a decision based on what you like regardless of the cost.

Looking at these categories and evaluating brings self awareness and conscious choices. This awareness can lead you to taking another step; recognizing what’s behind your decision making. If you choose to recognize these things it might set you free. One being mental clarity and then giving yourself the freedom to make a choice. The choice of physically letting items go that you don’t really want, or keeping what you truly treasure!

Author: Suzanne KuhnClutter Document Management Donating Estates Executors Family Filing General Project Management Receipts Tax Prep

All About Executors

A picture of a Will for Suzanne Kuhn's postIf you are reading this, chances are that you will need an executor and/or will be an executor at some point in your life. An executor is the person named in a will to administrate the estate of the person who died leaving that will. The job of the executor is to make sure that the deceased person’s wishes, as described in the will, are carried out.
Here are some of the tasks executors perform:

  • Inventorying the assets of the deceased: cash money, financial investments, real estate, collections of valuable objects, the contents of a home, as well as personal articles such as clothing and jewelry (this collection of assets is known as “the estate”).
  • Obtaining contact information for far-flung beneficiaries and heirs named in the will, as well as notifying them.
  • Identifying any outstanding debts of the deceased person and paying them off. Working with banks and other financial institutions to transfer money from living accounts to estate accounts.
  • Calculating the taxes due on the estate, filing the estate tax return, and paying those taxes on time.
  • Assisting an attorney, accountant, or other professional associated with the will.
  • Distributing the estate to the beneficiaries and heirs after all the above has been completed, and disposing of what remains.

These tasks can be complex, full of “red tape” and frustrating, so it is important to choose the right person for the job.

A good executor is:

  • Detail-oriented
  • Comfortable with numbers
  • A good problem-solver
  • Willing to make decisions
  • Patient when faced with frustration
  • Able to be fair and impartial with family members and other heirs
  • Available to spend the considerable time it can take to administer an estate

Too often, people making a will choose their executor based on family dynamics or out of a wish to bestow an ‘honor’ on a special person in their life. They give little consideration to the personal traits and skills needed by the executor, with disastrous results. As a professional organizer specializing in finances and paperwork, I have witnessed these horror stories when the wrong person was chosen for the job of executor:

  • The sibling who was emotionally closest to the parent was chosen as executor. The executor was impatient and unable to be impartial; emotional blowups were frequent during the distribution of the estate, and assets were distributed first to the executor and then to the ‘squeaky wheel’ among the heirs.
  • The will-maker chose the child who had pursued the same career, believing this ensured the necessary qualifications to be an executor. But this executor lacked the time to administer the estate and was easily frustrated when faced with red tape. The will-maker died five years ago and the estate is still not wrapped up.
  • An executor with a lifelong fear of math procrastinated with the numbers and details of the estate, potentially missing tax deadlines and paying penalties and interest as a result.

The key take-away from this post is to choose your executor carefully, based on the skills needed to do the job. But perhaps, you have already chosen an executor who lacks some of these skills, and you don’t want to make waves by changing. Or maybe, you have been named as someone’s executor and feel unqualified for the job. In either case, don’t despair, because help is available. Professional organizers can help inventory the deceased person’s possessions, and can help sell and/or donate possessions not inherited by a specific individual. Some organizers specialize in the organizing of finances, paperwork and information, and can help with these aspects of the executor’s job. A good place to find an organizer to help with the administration of an estate is the ‘Find an Organizer’ link at www.napo-gpc.org.

Author: Kelly GalfandClutter Donating Feng Shui General Organizing Spiritual and Holistic

When You Give, You Get…

conversation hearts: "goodbye" & "Adieu"

Letting go isn’t easy — but when you allow yourself to say goodbye to books you haven’t read, children’s toys that have been outgrown, and clothing that no longer suits your style — you get more than a tax receipt. When you give, you get…

SATISFACTION: Allowing someone else the pleasure of enjoying your stuff feels good (so does recycling).

SPACE: You will literally regain space…

• Whole drawers can be emptied

• Shelves will no longer bow under the weight of your old textbooks

• Closets will sigh with relief that they’re not overstuffed and cramped

Being able to see your belongings enables you to enjoy and appreciate what you have.

FREEDOM: We are privileged to live in a free society, but some of us are slaves to stuff and the need to acquire more. When you let something go, a wonderful emotional freedom grows.

As a professional organizer, I am privileged to witness people stand straighter, smile more freely, and breathe easier by letting go of things that were holding them back. Releasing physical items from our spaces gives us the freedom to decide what will take its place. Let it be positive memories and new opportunities.

Author: Naomi CookClutter Donating General Holidays Recyling Seasonal

Recycling Christmas

Recycling arrows decorated for Christmas

The magical holiday season has come and gone and now it’s time to face the reality of the New Year…and the inevitable task of taking decorations down and cleaning up. You can just toss your tree to the curb, but what if you want a more meaningful way to lay your tree to rest? Read on for some great ways to tackle your clean up list and do some good for the planet at the same time!

Recycle Your Christmas Tree: Yes, you can recycle your tree! Just make sure that you take all the light strands, tinsel, and ornaments off before doing so. Earth 911 (earth911.com) offers a great link for anyone to be able to recycle their tree and turn it into mulch.  Type in your zip code and find the closest drop off spot near you.

Recycle Your Shipping Boxes: Of course you can break them down and put them into the recycling bin, or pass them along to a friend who will be moving soon. Note to my colleagues — as Professional Organizers, you can also offer them to clients who are moving, for their belongings and/or for taking away any donations.

Recycle Your Wrapping Paper: If you were careful to unwrap your presents because you love the paper — hang onto it for another gift. Or if it’s a larger piece, create a placemat (by simply cutting the sheet into a small rectangle) or a pretty tray liner. Another fun idea is to use a hole puncher on your wrap scraps to create confetti for your next party!

Recycle Your Gift Bags: Keep your holiday spirit going throughout the New Year! Use them as a lunch bag to bring to work or as a catchall for coupons and sale ads when you’re headed out shopping.

Recycle Your Greeting Cards: Treat your favorite cards to a frame and use them for your décor next year, or keep them up year round. You can “re-gift” them by cutting off the back of the card, which has the writing on it and give it a postcard look, writing on the flipside of the front of the card.

Recycle Your Gift Boxes: Smaller cardboard jewelry boxes work well as organizers in your catchall drawer, while shirt size cardboard boxes can be used to separate stacks of items in drawers and keep them vertical.

I hope you learned some fun tips to make recycling fun. Here’s wishing you a very Happy New Year full of special times ahead with your family and friends, and of course…a clutter-free home!