Author: Anna SicalidesClutter Downsizing General Organizing Storage

An Organizer’s Love Hate Relationship with Storage Units

storage unitI love the idea that someone can use a storage unit as a business location, a man cave, a wine cellar, or as a place to store their cool sports car.

I love that a college student can use a storage unit to store their dorm rooms over the summer and that someone can store excess furniture while their house is being marketed for sale.

I love that a builder can use a storage unit to store supplies while they are doing a renovation.

I hate the idea that people are using storage units to store old, dirty appliances, inexpensive furniture, and things that are eventually going to go in the trash, get donated, or get sold.

I hate that people abandon their units with valuable items in storage units and that there are reality TV shows based on this.

During the past couple of weeks, we have worked in storage units, and I am so glad we could help clients get out from under the stuff that was being stored— which had less monetary value than the month’s rent of the unit.

Understandably, people go into storage units for a valid reason initially. In the words of my eloquent husband, “storage units can take on a life of their own.” The items being stored take root in the unit, and the bill is on autopay. This makes it easy to forget or avoid the whole thing.

Many times people no longer know what is in their unit— a hint to me that there is minimal value, emotionally and financially.

Before you make the decision to take on a storage unit, think of the following:

  • What is the end game or time frame? Have a clear date and plan as to how long this will take.
  • How much is it going to cost in time, rent, insurance, trash hauling, and moving in and out of the unit?
  • Do you need what you are storing?
  • If you got rid of it, would you miss it?

If you answer these questions and can develop a plan, rent the unit.

  • Make sure there is a dumpster where you decide to store your things.
  • Make sure you do not store things on the ground level; use pallets (in case of a flood).
  • Make sure that everything is wrapped in plastic (there may be bugs, including bed bugs).
  • Make sure your items are labeled so that it is easy to retrieve them.
  • Keep a basic inventory for yourself so that you can more easily retrieve items.
  • Use a lock that a bolt cutter can’t get into.
  • Do not leave valuable items in the front of your unit. While the door is open you do not want people to see what you are storing.
  • Remember that you are paying for the space; fill it carefully using uniform sized boxes that are sturdy.
  • Most units do not have power so you may want to have extension cords, work lamps, and flash lights.

I hope this advice helps you make a good decision and prevents you from being burdened by a storage unit that takes on a life of its own. If renting a storage unit is the right thing for you, I hope that you have picked up a hint or two to simplify the process.

Author: Vali HeistGarage General Goal Setting Home Seasonal Storage

Organize your Gardening and Enjoy the Process

bright flowers put a smile on any garden setting.

Finding the time and energy to garden has been a challenge for me in the past few years. Our property seems to be getting bigger or am I getting older? Regardless of the reason, I’m not willing to give up the great exercise and satisfaction I get from planting my garden, so I need to get more organized to get it done. I also have to be satisfied with an hour or two here and there instead of a full day of gardening. After I planted my garden last year, I took pictures of the planters and the gardens and made a list of the plants I bought at the local nurseries.

Our garden shed was built on top of an old outhouse and frankly it could withstand a hurricane. It has a waist high counter and wooden shelving. We used leftover linoleum flooring from the kitchen for the floor. It’s just the right size to hold the following:

  • gardening gloves and ball caps in a closed plastic container
  • small gardening tools-store in plastic carrier or basket with a handle
  • gardening planters
  • folding lawn furniture stored under the counter
  • gazing ball and stone statues for the garden
  • rod iron poles for hanging baskets, plant and tomato stakes, and long tools (small shovel, rake, edger)-stored in 5 gallon plastic bucket with metal part up
  • items to decorate my screened-in porch
  • flower seeds and bulbs in a metal container
  • leftover potting soil in 5 gallon plastic bucket with a lid

In the spring:

  • Use 5 gallon plastic bucket with handle to pull out weeds.
  • Pull everything out of the shed and sweep it out (mice and chipmunks have made their winter homes in my shed).
  • Take plants out of the garden that died over the winter.
  • Throw out older seeds and bulbs that didn’t make the winter.
  • Divide perennial plants if too big and share with your neighbors or replant in other parts of your garden to save money.
  • Move other plants around to fill in where plants died or didn’t come up.
  • Using pictures from last year, I bought plants and vegetables and planted the planters and the gardens.

In the fall after the first killing frost:

  • Fall is for planting, so buy perennials on sale and fill in where plants didn’t live.
  • Don’t forget to call 811 before you dig too deep to prevent damage to electric lines and natural gas pipelines.
  • Wash out the planters and store in shed.
  • Store leftover seeds and bulbs in metal containers
  • Donate any ceramic planters or recycle plastic containers you didn’t use

After plants have been hit by frost, I like to fill in with fall décor so it doesn’t look so empty. I use some of the more colorful pots I emptied to hold mums and fill in with straw bales, pumpkins, cornstalks and gourds. Organize your gardening so it’s a pleasure, not a chore.

Clutter Tips:

  • Don’t store 9 volt batteries against each other or other batteries. They can spark and cause a fire.
  • When you clear the clutter in medicine cabinets donate unused and unexpired medical supplies, to C.U.R.E., c/o Mission Central, 5 Pleasant View Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050.

Green Tips:

  • Latex paint disposal: equal parts kitty litter and latex paint. Let sit for one hour and throw in garbage.
  • Make the switch to permanent water bottles instead of putting plastic into our oceans. Even recycling plastic bottles produces toxins.
Author: Carla ShipmanGeneral Home Organizing Organizing Products Small Spaces Storage

Love Those Drawer Organizers

You know we always hear “Everything has its Place.”  It really does. Take a cluttered junk drawer filled with all kinds of mess. Often there are keys, batteries, receipts, tools, money, pens, gift cards, coupons, pencils, candy, stamps, unpaid bills, medicine, and restaurant menus having a conversation. You get the point. This happens when there is no designated area or system for these items. When we search for something and can’t find it, it affects our behavior and emotions. Stress icon showing negative impact Yes, unfortunately here comes the yelling at the kids or running late for work because we can’t find the keys.

That is why drawer organizers are a great, efficient, and simple way to transform your space so everything has a proper spot. The goal is to find items when we need them. Imagine grabbing your keys and walking out the door on time for work. What a great feeling.

Here’s how to get started (once you’ve taken measurements and purchased your drawer organizers).

• Empty the cluttered drawer.

• Sort like items together — decide what you’ll keep and discard the rest.

• Take a look…no more clutter. Now grab those keys and go to work.
Happy organizing!

before during and after drawer organizing project

(Images of Organized Drawer owned by Carla Shipman aka Ms. DeClutter)

Author: Ellen TozziClutter General Home Storage


decide happyA client and I were talking last week about the “hazards” of having too much storage space.  If there is room to store items you may or may not use in the future, the decision to keep or discard can be postponed.  For some of us, those decisions have been postponed for 20 years!

Before I became a professional organizer, I didn’t fully understand the downside of keeping items I didn’t use or love.  I thought that if the house looked nice and I could find what I needed quickly, everything was copacetic.  I now know that excess can often create fatigue, shame and embarrassment as well as a lack of focus and clarity.

Here’s where I got in trouble: when I decided to remove an item from my living space and the thought of getting rid of it pulled at my heartstrings, down to the basement it went.  Why decide now?  There’s plenty of room in the basement!  My logic was:

  • I might need it someday.
  • I’ll decide what to do with it when preparing to move.

See anything wrong with that thinking?  I now have a basement full of stuff (neatly stacked and labeled, of course) that I rarely use.  My new logic is:

  • If I don’t use it, I lose it!
  • I’ll have so much to do when I move – the last thing I need is a houseful of decisions!

As I’m learning to let go of anything that doesn’t make my life work better, I’m starting to de-clutter my basement.  While I don’t have chunks of time to work on it, I spend an extra five or ten minutes in the basement while doing the laundry and make sure I toss or donate items every single week.  In time I’ll get through it all.

I look forward to feeling freer and lighter as I let go of what I don’t use and love.

Author: Annette ReymanClutter General Home Organizing Organizing Products Storage

A Tisket, A Tasket: Where to Use a Basket

Now that the winter holidays are over, we may find ourselves with a few extra baskets on hand – baskets that arrived holding fresh fruit or bath products.

Baskets, while making a lovely presentation containers, often have awkward shapes and can be challenging to store.  Sometimes donating them seems preferable to losing storage space to their clumsy designs.  And then again, how can we let them go when there may be a use for them…someday?

Before letting your frustration take over, here are a few suggestions of places around your home that can benefit from the strategic placement of some of these vexing vessels:

  1. Small baskets can be in a craft room for notions.
  2. Or on a table near an entryway to catch keys and loose change.
  3. In a desk area, small baskets can also be handy for items such as flash drives, an extra mouse or cord and small sticky note pads.
  4. They can also be used near your purse as a temporary holding area for receipts.
  5. Medium sized baskets can be used as a fruit or bread basket, or lined with a napkin and used for snacks like popcorn or chips.
  6. Depending on the shape, medium baskets are also good for storing light bulbs or batteries in the top of a closet.
  7. Large baskets are wonderful in bathrooms – they can hold some rolled guest towels or extra toilet paper.
  8. By an entryway, large baskets are a welcoming sight when filled with slippers to change into.
  9. A large basket is perfect for holding pet toys and makes clean-up quick and easy!
  10. In bedrooms, large baskets can serve next to the bed for a book and some magazines and maybe a tube of hand lotion.

So, if you’re ready to cram your baskets into cupboards or send them on their way out the door, take a look around your home and ask yourself if there area any areas that could benefit from some clever containment.

A lovely new basket might be just the solution!

Author: Sherry CastaldiFamily General Home Organizing Storage

3 Tips for Teaching Early Organizing Skills to Children

1. Make it Easy

  • Use open storage containers when possible. The easier it is to get items in and out, the more likely children will use them. Consider canvas bins, baskets, and plastic containers that are easily stored away in shelf units or cubes.
  • Again, the easier it is to get the storage container in and out of the storage area; shelf unit or cubes, etc. the more likely the storage container will get put away.
  • Understand that if you need to stack or secure the containers with lids that you may need to help until the children can handle the lids and stacking on their own. The more steps the harder the task.

2. Make it Fun

  • Label the containers. Very young children are not able to read yet but are eager to learn. Teach and repeat to them what the label says and what goes in the container.
  • Be creative with your labeling.
  • Use the first letter of the word “B”,  along with the word “Blocks”.
  • Or use pictures to help show what goes in the container.
  • Make learning the letter or words on the containers a game. Use the pictures to help.
  • Make it a game to pick up and put away toys.  Reward children with a sincere “thank you” or “good job”. Your appreciation shows your approval to a child which in turn is a great reward.

3. Make it Colorful

  • Children love color. Use color when organizing.
  • Consider colored canvas bins or plastic containers.
  •  Use color with the labels. Hand-made labels with colored paper or apply printed labels to colored paper for a more colorful effect.
  •  Pictures, either cut from magazines, or drawn by the children are also colorful ways to identify the contents in the container.
  • The colors of the containers or bins can also complement the room or space for a more decorative look for the entire room.
  • Involve the children when selecting the colors to go with the labeling when possible. Use a blue square of construction paper taped to the container to go with the “B” and Blocks label for the blocks.

Organizing habits learned early on and made part of a child’s lifestyle routine are skills that they can keep with them through adulthood.  Whether it’s the alphabet, math or organizing, whether in school or in the home, what our children are taught gives them the knowledge and wisdom to excel!

Make organizing easy, fun and colorful for your children and you’ll teach them early organizing skills for a lifetime.