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Author: Russell PitcairnEducation Efficiency General Home Lists Paper Productivity Time Management Time Management Tips

Inspirational Books and their Key Takeaway!

By Russell Pitcairn, The Junkluggers, (215) 779 1644

Recently, I asked my network to share several of their favorite books. Below is a list of inspirational books along with their own key takeaway. Feel free to comment if you have read any of the books below. Let me know if you have a favorite book that has inspired you. Please enjoy!

“Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson

Linda’s Key Takeaway: Be Flexible

“The Tipping Point” By Malcolm Gladwell

Linda’s Key Takeaway: Keep your eyes and mind open at a high level.

“The Purple Cow” By Seth Godin

Nate’s Key Takeaway: Companies that have grown into large successful organizations did so by offering a remarkable service or product. In order to succeed in the same industry, you must offer SOMETHING ELSE that is remarkable, stands out, and talks to the people. It’s the only way to be successful in the long run.   

“The Go Giver” By Bob Burg and John David Mann

“A Complaint Free World” By Will Bowen

Linda’s Key Takeaway: Be aware, stop and surround yourself with those that come up with solutions…not complaints.

“Wild: From Lost to Found on The Pacific Crest Trail” By Cheryl Strayed

Linda’s Key Takeaway: Get out of your comfort zone.

“Resilience” By Eric Greitens

“Never Split the Difference” By Chris Voss.

Russell’s Key Takeaway: If someone gives you a response you do not like, ask open ended questions like “Why?” or “How?” This may reveal key information, or may get the other person to come up with a different response.

“One Small Step Can Change Your Life” By Robert Maurer

Linda’s Key Takeaway: Move with intention and control.

“Welcoming the Unwelcome” By Pema Chodron

Darla’s Key Takeaway: The time we live in is a fertile ground for training in being open-minded and open-hearted. If we can learn to hold this falling apart-ness without polarization and without becoming fundamentalists, then whatever we do today will have a positive effect on the future.

“A Fine Mess” By TR Reid

Blair’s Key Takeaway: Understanding America’s tax system and an effective way to restructure it. Lower tax rates but eliminate deductions/ways people avoid them, but broaden the tax base/tax on spending of earnings.

Author: Angela CommiskeyClothing Clutter Donating Family Organizing Tips

Solving Baby’s Outgrown Clothing Clutter

Infants grow fast — I’ve had piles of clothes to prove this fact. Nearly as fast as they’ve grown into their newest cute new outfits, they’ve outgrown them already! Having a plan for keeping up with this constant rotation will save you time in the future and reduce the stress of potential growing piles. Whether or not you hope to use the clothes for future children, here are a few quick-to-tackle tips for getting ahead of the clothing clutter.

Not saving anything?  Get ahead of the clutter.

Determine the spot you’ll use for temporarily stashing outgrown items. I use a basket under my son’s crib, but you can use a paper bag, box, or large trash bag on a shelf or in a closet. The laundry room is a great place, too. From now on, every time you determine something no longer fits your child, put it in your temporary storage bin. Add to this bin until it’s full, then mark it with the approximate size(s), stick the box/bag in your car, and drop it off for donation. Likely you have friends with kids and could also drop off the box on a porch for hand-me-downs. More on donations at the end.

If you know you’ll be keeping some clothes for future children, read on.

Get Clothes Prepped for Future Kids

First, determine a spot you’ll use for temporarily stashing outgrown items. I use two baskets under my son’s crib, one for items I’m keeping and one for giving away, but you can use paper bags or boxes in the laundry room, on a shelf or in a closet, or large trash bags (clearly marked and stored out of reach of the littles), etc.

Next, Every.Single.Day and Every.Time you determine something no longer fits your child, decide if you liked this outfit/item and put it in the keep bin, if not, put it in your give-away bin. Add to these bins until full. Then transfer the give-away items to a box marked with the approximate size(s) and check out donation options below. For the clothes you’re keeping, transfer to a storage bin, vacuum sealed bag or other favorite storage solution. I tend to have extra diapers that are outgrown, so I fill diaper boxes with unused/outgrown diapers and clothing from roughly the same size. Taking 1 minute each day will save you the hassle of sorting through a huge pile later.

Options for Clothes You’re Not Keeping

Depending on your interest and time commitment, you have a few options in addition to those mentioned above. From approximately most to least time consumed:

  • Sell to Once Upon A Child or at a Just Between Friends[http://jbfsale.com/home.jsp] sale
  • Sell on Facebook Marketplace
  • Donate locally on a Buy Nothing Group[https://buynothingproject.org/] or through the NextDoor App
  • Donate to local charities (homeless shelters, some food pantries, church outreach programs)
  • Give to friends/family
  • Donate to larger charities (Green Drop, Goodwill, etc.)

Final Thoughts on Outgrown Clothing

It’s best to donate items you’d use again and toss anything too worn out. If your kids are older and aware of “favorite” pieces, go through this process with them, so they learn from you how to stay organized and be generous with their clothes! For the babies, an everyday, constant rotation keeps clothes that fit available and stops piles from accumulating to keep the nursery looking lovely.

Author: Kelly GalfandClutter Goal Setting healthy living Home Keepsakes Organizing Organizing Products Time Management Tips

Can’t Decide? Set It Aside!

Day 365 + ???? (who’s counting) of the pandemic and it seems like everyone is decluttering. We’re all trying to hold true to our reoccurring New Year’s Resolution to ”Get Organized.” Getting Organized can mean different things to us but it usually involves some sorting and culling of categories of stuff.

In our experience, there are always 3 decision buckets your stuff will fall into:

  1. Yes! You love it. Easy-peasy, you’re gonna keep this. And it goes back to wherever it came.
  2. No! You hate this thing. You’ve always hated it or you know you will never use it. You no longer want it anywhere near your life so it lands in the “no” pile (for donate, resale, or regift)  
    This kind of conviction can only come after you’ve allowed yourself to truly let go (despite how much money you spent or which favorite aunt gifted it to you)
  3. I don’t know or Maybe? These are the items that you really need to ponder.

Our NAPO colleague, Barbara Hemphill, coined this brilliant definition: Clutter is Postponed Decisions.™ Clutter builds when we postpone decisions about:
• Do I really love it?
• Will I use it?
• Does it fill a void in my life?
• If I’m keeping it, where should it live?
While you do need to decide about your stuff, you do NOT want to stop the decluttering process to ponder each individual item.

Our time-saving advice is DEFER your decision for the “maybes” and “I don’t knows.”

These tricky decisions deserve attention — but NOT while you’re in the initial stages of rapid-fire, gut reactions to your stuff.

If you stop your intuitive process of deciding Yes, No, Maybe you won’t get through the whole category of stuff and you won’t see visible signs of progress. This will feel depressing and probably halt the whole decluttering process.

Follow our advice and schedule time with yourself — on a separate day — when your mind is fresh and you’ll taste sweet success. Technically, it’s called time chunking. In practice:
• One organizing session is dedicated to quick, visceral decisions.
• Another for contemplative, thoughtful and reasoned thinking.

Permission granted to defer your decisions on all of your “maybes” and “I don’t knows” — not because pushing off until tomorrow is a winning strategy. Permission granted because setting aside the necessary time to consider what deserves a place and space in your life is worthy of your full attention. In this case, deferring the decision is a smart move.

Author: Liz O'NeillEducation Executors Family Goal Setting Home Organizing Safety Tips

Emergency Preparedness for Peace of Mind

If you only had a few hours to evacuate your home because of an emergency (health- or weather-related), could you determine and locate your essential information, documents and resources?

Hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and a global pandemic….to say that 2020 has been a challenging year is an understatement. National Preparedness Month is recognized each September and the theme for 2020 is apropos – “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.”

In an emergency, the last thing you should be doing is scurrying to find extra batteries, locating essential documents, and worrying if your insurance is updated.  It is critical to have easy access to important documents, records, and resources in the event of an evacuation or emergency.

Thinking through the details and your priorities when you are not in the midst of a crisis is vitally important.

DOCUMENT – the information and resources you already have (for example, your health insurance information, your ‘in case of emergency’ contacts).

Tip: Store your important documents in the Cloud which affords you access no matter where you are. Alternatively, if you plan to keep your documents in a paper-format, store them in one binder/folder and consider laminating.

CONSIDER – the information and resources you may need in an emergency (for example, flood insurance, extra prescription medicine).

Tip: Prepare an emergency kit with the essentials.

ORGANIZE – the information for easy access. Having everything in just a few places, rather than scattered through the house, is a good idea.

Tip: Create a roadmap (in a physical or digital binder) that details where the information and documents are located. My Life Packet is a comprehensive life and legacy affairs organizing workbook that guides you through the process.

SHARE  –  your plan with your loved ones.

Tip: Establish a family communication plan.

Taking inventory of what you would need in an emergency can save you and your family time, money, and stress. Although it may feel overwhelming, organizing and taking inventory of key information will not only help you ‘weather’ a storm, it will also create peace of mind.

Author: Naomi CookBack To School Clutter Education General Goal Setting healthy living Home Office Organizing Productivity Tips

Fall in Love Again…with Zoom

Ah, new relationships!  They can be fun and exciting, right?  You love being together every day, you fall deep into the honeymoon period, and you feel that your partner is the best thing ever…

Hmm…do you remember mid-March, and a certain technology that blew up?  Read the sentence above replacing Zoom with your partner…still works, right! 

Yes, Zoom!  I remember that gut wrenching feeling of being alone when we first learned that much of the world had shut down.  Add living alone to that and it can really throw you for a loop. 

My networking group started moving onto the platform that many of us were just starting to learn about.  Working through kinks, like Zoom bombers, the leaders of our group helped us navigate through our new normal and suddenly I was with my friends again!  It felt SO good! 

I was on every day for a while, either networking, with friends, or with family, going to Zoom birthday parties and gathering for Zoom trivia nights.  On my birthday in May, my friends threw me a surprise Zoom birthday and more friends appeared flash mob style to one of my favorite songs. 

I loved Zoom!  I couldn’t get enough of Zoom, until the day came that I could.  Just like the honeymoon phase in a relationship, my relationship with Zoom peaked, and I reached the level of Zoom Fatigue, which many of us are facing today.

I just didn’t want to be on it anymore and faced that alone feeling again.  I learned to fill my days in different ways, and after a while, as the world was starting to open up a bit, I started new routines with more balance.

Zoom is still a part of my new normal.  I became a part of an accountability group with a few friends, go to a few networking meetings a week and even started virtual organizing with clients.

If you are still in the fog of Zoom Fatigue, here are some things to try to make being on it fun again:

  • Dress up your space – If your dedicated area is small, or cluttered, or right next to your homeschooled child, set up a virtual background on your computer.  Put yourself on the beach and bring your iced coffee with a tropical umbrella.  Put yourself in a snazzy kitchen and put on an apron and throw some flour on your face.  If your computer is not capable of working with virtual backgrounds, like mine is, get a cool shower curtain and hang it up behind you!  Have fun!  Of course, as a Professional Organizer, I must add in that you should take care of said clutter at some point…ha ha!
  • Dress up yourself – You’ll be looking at everyone, and everyone will be looking at you.  Dress up all the way, or just your top half and keep your pajama bottoms on.  Just don’t get up to go across the room without turning your camera off first!  Ladies, put on jewelry and makeup if it makes you feel good.  Guys, keep your facial hair in check. 
  • Stay comfy – Wherever you sit, bring your creature comforts with you.  Bring a pillow to keep your back happy, and your favorite iced or hot beverage, and wear your slippers.  Get a comfy bed for your best furry friend and keep it by your seat.  Just looking at them and petting them will make you stay calm and happy.  Show off your pets on screen, unless you are in a more formal setting, of course! 
  • Stay organized – Of course I had to go here!   You came to read a blog written by Professional Organizers, right?  If you’re working from home, you may be working in different areas at different times, on the sofa, at the kitchen table, on your bed.  Designate a tote or basket to collect all your necessities for when it’s time to get to your Zoom call. 

So, learn to love Zoom again, but try to keep a life balance, and leave the honeymoon period for people, not the latest tech craze.  Wishing you, your family, and your friends, a happy and healthy Fall!

Author: Annette ReymanCloset Clothing Clutter Consignment Donating General healthy living Home Organizing Seasonal Tips

Closet Organizing Tips

In 2015 Forbes reported a Bureau of Labor statistic affirming that, in 1930, the average American woman owned 9 outfits. This, as opposed to a current day figure of about 30 outfits – one for each day of the month.

In 2016 a survey of 1,000 American women was conducted by ClosetMaid. It found that women only really like 10 percent of their wardrobe. It also found that one in ten women are depressed when they open their closet and 40 percent say that they don’t like any of their clothes.

As Americans, we are blessed with an abundance of choices when it comes to clothing and fashion. A broad variety of style, quality and affordability surround us. Yet, we can surmise from these two studies that, in the U.S., we have more clothing than ever before and are less satisfied with what we have. So where does the disconnect lie? How do we get from Point A – the clothing that we own; to Point B – happiness?

Point A – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Point B

Why Are Our Wardrobes So Overwhelming?

There are many explanations centered around the social and psychological motivations behind our large wardrobes and our dissatisfaction. Compulsive shopping, ecological reasoning, “retail therapy”, depression and loss are just a few theories offered.

The anxiety experienced when contemplating and processing the variety and abundance we face upon viewing our overcrowded wardrobes adds a real neurological strain. We end up starting our days stressed-out even before we walk out our front door.

Although it remains important to address the underlying reasons for overwhelmed and overwhelming closets and spaces, professional organizers (unlike therapists) also get the opportunity to directly address the physical issues as well. Addressing spacial congestion is empowering, encouraging a feeling of control over the environment, a feeling that can help ward off anxiety and depression.

What You can Do about Your Overstuffed Closet

Here are three simple tips for actions that you can take today that will make a difference every day.

1.    Remove useless items from your closet.

Start with unused hangers and empty boxes that take up space for absolutely no reason. A dozen empty hangers can take up to a foot of space on your hanging rod – a whole foot! There may be many hiding between crowded garments so be sure to filter through everything. Next, begin at one end and review each garment. Remove all items that can be tossed or donated; toss the trash, then bag and label the rest for “Donation”.

2.    Store seasonal clothing.

Unless you live in a temperate climate where your entire wardrobe is versatile for year-round use, there are very few reasons to keep all of your clothing at hand in your closet all of the time. Separate items you are keeping into two seasonal categories: Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. Keep the current half at hand in your closets and dressers. Store the other half in plastic bins or space bags. Take advantage of the seasonal switch to purge items that you no longer want before storing the rest.

3.    Color Coordinate.

Okay, I will admit that this may sound a little “organizer”-geeky, but try it out before you scoff. Imagine you are looking for your favorite pair of black pants. The ones that fit just right and aren’t too long or too short. Do you have to go in between all your tight spaces in your closet to find them before realizing they are at the cleaners? Not if your closet is color coordinated. You will simply go through the section of black pants. Not there? Then they are in the laundry. Need to put together a quick outfit? Easy to do when your eyes are simply matching colors and not hunting between randomly hung, tightly crammed fabrics.

Take the time to clean out and organize your closet now and you’ll start your day with a feeling of peace and control. Your closet will be the first empowering confidence boost to your day!