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Author: Erin CovoleskyChallenging Disorganization Clutter General Home Organizing Organizing Tips

Just Like Riding A Bike

Remember that old saying “it’s just like riding a bike”? I have no idea who coined it, but it was meant to draw a comparison to activities that are deeply rooted in the muscle memory gained from lots of practice. The idea is, if you practiced enough, riding your bike becomes like second nature. If you practice enough, you can train your body to ride with a lot less thought or effort. And if that bike sat rusty in the garage for 10 years, because you had put forth the effort to practice years before, you can jump back on and ride away into the sunset as if only mere seconds had passed since your last pedal session.

People ask me a lot about the best ways to stay organized. Cleaning up and out seems to be the easy part, but now that the house is beautiful, and everything is put away in its place, how do we keep it this way? Depending on how far removed your new organizing behavior is from your old habits, staying organized is going to take the same vigor and endurance as it took to learn to ride that bike years ago.

For example, if you always lose your keys around the house, and we implement a new process to hang them on a hook by the door when you enter, you will need to make the conscious effort to actually do it…every time. It takes practice, and more practice, until eventually hanging the keys on the hook becomes second nature and engrained in your muscle memory. Suddenly hanging the keys on the hook will feel like an easy routine, and the process will no longer be a strain on your brain power and intention as you arrive home tired from work each night. The thing to remember is that there will be work involved. I unfortunately can’t wave a magic wand to “cure” us of our poor organizing habits and replace them with ones that work better for our lives. If I could, I would be the first to wave it over my own house!

There are a lot of schools of thought out there around best practices for forming habits and the importance of considering things like learning styles, motivators and goals. Developing new habits to stay organized will take time, support and accountability from family and friends, as well as a focused desire from whoever is embarking on this mission. I have lots of tricks up my sleeve to help move this process along for each client, but the overarching theme to remember is that practice makes perfect. You are going to have to conjure up the focus, intention and willpower to practice, but once mastered, your new habits really will be just like riding a bike!

Author: Bobbie BurkhartClutter Hoarding Home Organizing

Fear of Clutter

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I especially love to get dressed up for an all-out costume party. My best costume, of all time, was Ms. Bald America. I wore my Senior Prom gown, elbow length blue suede gloves, a tiara, a Ms. Bald America sash and of course a bald wig. I blacked out a couple of teeth for an even more glamorous effect.

My other favorite part of Halloween is going to a truly scary haunted house. The very best one is Terror Behind the Walls at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. https://easternstate.org/

How does this topic tie into home organizing? Some of the scenes we walk into are scary; especially in situations involving hoarders! My worst fear is seeing something move. So far, so good. Our clients are scared too. Before we start to work with them, they are fearful and anxious about tackling cluttered spaces in their present home or office. They often become immobilized by their feeling of being overwhelmed. If they are moving, they are often scared of discarding something they “might” need or scared of the many unknowns associated with moving and selling their home.

As a professional Home Organizer I tell every client the same thing during our initial conversation; “My goal as your Home Organizer is to take as much stress out of your situation as possible.” When we are finished, I ask them “How did you feel before we worked together?” They invariably respond “I felt stressed and overwhelmed.” Then I ask them “How do you feel now?” You know the answer, “I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel less stressed and more in control.”

What a wonderful role we play in our clients’ lives. What a rewarding career and sense of purpose. We restore order from chaos while eliminate fear and anxiety. We keep seniors safe and give their families peace of mind.

It’s fun to be scared in a haunted house at Halloween, but no one should be scared of their clutter.

Author: Adriane WeinbergDocument Management Organizing Paper Time Management Tips

The Truth About OHIO

While helping clients organize their papers, they express concern that they’re doing something wrong when handling them more than once. What they’re unknowingly asking about is the OHIO (Only Handle it Once) rule. 

Keep in mind, though, that OHIO is a guideline, not meant to always be applied. The intent is to Only Handle It Once, or as few times as necessary to completion.

Scenario 1 

  • While scanning the mail, you open an invitation with an RSVP to a neighborhood block party. You put the mail pile on the counter to deal with later. One touch.
  • A couple of days later, you notice the invitation in the growing pile of mail and move it to the to-do pile. Second touch.
  • Later, you think your spouse may want to go. You pick it up and put it on his desk. Third touch.
  • After work, he hands it back to RSVP. You put it back on the to-do pile. Fourth touch.
  • Your son is busy at college but maybe he’d like to see his friends. You pick it up to have the details ready, call him but get voicemail. It goes back on the to-do pile. Fifth touch.
  • He calls back. You pick it up again and give him the details. He’ll think about it. The paper goes back on the to-do pile. Sixth touch.
  • He texts back that he’d like to go. You pick up the invitation, RSVP for your family, then recycle it. Seventh touch.

Scenario 2: 

  • You get the invitation, text your husband and son with the details to see if they’d want to go. You put the invitation on the counter. One touch.
  • They both reply, you pick up the invitation, RSVP, note the date and time in the calendar, then recycle the paper. Second touch—and done.

We don’t stop to think about how many times we handle the same papers — and how much time we waste. A lot!

Here’s a favorite productivity tip from David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done. His Two-Minute Rule states that if it takes less than two minutes, do it now. That doesn’t mean two minutes exactly, but just a few minutes to complete quick tasks. Brilliant!

Contact a pro organizer if you want to learn how to get more done in less time.

© 2019 Adriane Weinberg. All rights reserved.

Author: Annette ReymanBack To School Clutter Education Family General Goal Setting healthy living Home Organizing Productivity Time Management Tips

Take Some “Me” Time – Now

Ahhhh, can you hear it? Stop. Listen closely. Is that the sound of an empty house? Oh my goodness! Are you actually at home – alone? That’s right folks. The kids are back to school and that morning cup of coffee hasn’t tasted this good in almost longer than you can remember.

Thank you Fall for showing up – right in time to save us from completely losing any semblance of sanity! While you sit for an extra 5 minutes, enjoying the sound of silence and taking another sip-o’-joe, you may begin to look around.

What you are looking at is the aftermath of summer:

  • Collections of odd paraphernalia from summer crafts
  • Flotsam and jetsam of beach and pool excursions (Wait. Whose towels are those?)
  • Outgrown and short-lived children’s summer clothing and shoes
  • Vacation pamphlets and souvenirs

Amidst everyone else’s debris, there are some of your own items that need attention, yet it’s hard to know which and where they are. Here are 3 suggestions from a Professional Organizer and mom of three grown children:

  1. Pamper yourself. You made it through the summer. You planned and chaperoned and hosted and entertained. And now that everyone is back to their normal routines, start your autumn out by putting a date on the calendar for you. Get a massage. A manicure. Go out to lunch. Take time to get yourself settled down and focused for the season ahead.
  2. Make a List. The start of a new season comes with a host of tasks, commitments and appointments. Go through each area of responsibility in your mind and write it ALL down on your list. Doing this type of “brain dump” will help you capture everything while you are able to quietly focus. Getting it onto paper and out of your head will also relieve stress and help with better sleep. So, before you jump in and start running from one new event to the next, have an extra sip of coffee and take 10 minutes to write down a list of everything that needs your time and attention:
    1. Home – are there any service people that you need to call – plumber? electrician? roofer?
    2. Car – is there an inspection due? Do you need to replace your windshield wipers? Is an oil change needed?
    3. Medical – do you or any other family member need a doctor or dentist appointment?
    4. Organizations – do you belong to any organizations that require your attention; PTA? Church? School? Club?
  3. Clear your space. An organized space will help with clearing not just your environment but also your head. Organize an entire room or just one work area. Set things up the way you want them to be and allow your environment to support your productivity.

Take these three small steps and enter Fall confidently prepared to harvest the rewards of the season.

Author: Ellen TozziClutter Education General Hoarding Organizing Safety Seasonal Tips

EEEK! A MOUSE!

As autumn approaches, mice look for warm homes with food and water in which to hunker down for the winter. Don’t let one of those homes be yours! At a recent NAPO-GPC* meeting, pest expert Dr. Dion Lerman shared tips on how to prevent, eliminate and clean up after those little rodents.  Here are answers to questions you might not have known you had:

Are mice a health concern?

  • Mice are a health concern because they contribute to allergies and asthma
  • 83% of all homes contain mice allergens; 95% of low-income homes
  • The allergens are found in their urine

How do the rascals get in?

  • Under doors if there is a gap that is ¼” high (if a pencil can fit under a door, a mouse can fit)
  • Through holes in the exterior of the house (if a hole is the size of a dime, a mouse can fit)
  • Inside in corners, floors, closets, basements, openings around pipes, etc.

Where in the house do the critters live?

  • Mice generally nest 30 to 50 feet from food and water
  • They can live in wall voids, cabinets, under sinks, attics, basements, sheds … you name it
  • You can detect them by their droppings (or by the behavior of your pets)

How can one prevent them from coming in?

  • Install door sweeps on doors with gaps
  • Stuff openings with steel wool or copper pot-scrubbers as tightly as possible and seal with silicone caulk
  • Eliminate accessible food and water
  • Keep the home clean and decluttered
  • Use plastic bins with snap lids for storage (bins containerize items and makes clean up easier, should they enter)

What’s the best way to get rid of mice?

  • Use snap traps with peanut butter as bate
  • If successful, wear rubber/nitrile gloves, put dead mouse in resealable bag, then in plastic grocery bag and put in trash.  Disinfect surrounding area and trap if you want to reuse it.
  • Do NOT use poison in the house!  Avoid sticky pads.

What’s the best way to safely clean up after the critters?

  • Wear rubber/nitrile gloves, mist mouse droppings and urine with a 1:10 solution of water and bleach; let soak for five minutes
  • Wipe up with paper towels and dispose of them
  • Wipe again with a disinfectant or bleach solution

As with most things in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Author: Robin StankowskiHome Office Organizing Paper Project Management Time Management Tips

Keeping track of your To-Do’s

Remember the Trapper Keeper days? And the 5-subject notebook? We all used them as students but why don’t we use them today? The concept is still the same, it’s just the subjects have changed.

To-Do’s: Instead of subject, separate your to do’s into broad categories (personal, business, church for example). Use a 3 or 5 subject notebook as your one place to store it all. Create a system to prioritize like highlighting or numbering. Don’t forget about those to do’s that you keep putting off. Mix these in with some of your urgent ones.

Projects vs. To Do’s: There is a difference. Projects are made up of a lot of to do’s. That’s why a project can seem so overwhelming and never gets done. Break up that project and add those to do’s to your list.

Notebook vs. Stickies: Is your desk or computer overrun by sticky notes? Use the divided notebooks to keep track of your to do’s/ideas/projects. Stickies should be used temporarily. Regularly transfer that information to the appropriate section of the notebook.  

There is no one way to keep track of your to do’s. Build upon the systems that are currently working for you. But take it one task at a time and be patient. Conquer a couple each day or set a time limit. And in today’s digital era, sometimes a good old notebook will do just fine. Just be sure that you don’t lose it because you can’t back it up!