Reduce Unwanted Mail With 5 Simple Steps

Peek inside your mailbox and you’ll discover junk mail overload. Over 40% of the mail we receive is junk mail! Follow these quick tips to drastically reduce the amount of stuff in your mailbox, making paper management a breeze!

1. Limit unwanted mailbox advertising: Greatly reduce advertising mail (and save some trees) by registering with the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service. Call 212-768-7277 or visit www.dmachoice.org.

2. Opt out of unsolicited credit card offers: The nation’s four major credit bureaus will help you get off lists for pre-approved credit card offers by simply calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT. You’ll need to provide your social security number, full name, address, and telephone number.

3. Use caution when giving out your contact information: Nearly every time you send in a product warranty card or enter a contest, your data will be used to send you more paper! These companies may in turn sell or share your information with other companies. Use caution. And if you provide your contact information, request that the company not share or sell it.

4. Cancel subscriptions: Take the pressure off yourself by canceling any magazine subscriptions that you never seem to get around to reading anyway. Same with the newspaper.

5. Keep junk mail at bay in your home and office: Immediately after daily retrieval, sort mail while standing over your recycling bin. Toss with reckless abandon (be sure to shred things like credit card offers) so junk mail doesn’t create piles of, well, junk in your home or office.



© 2018 Articles on Demand™

Reuse: Find New Uses for Old Things

Being organized has great personal benefits. You can easily find things, save time and money, and become incredibly productive. Getting organized can have great environmental benefits as well. By following the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), you’ll use fewer natural resources, discover new uses for old things, and find fresh homes for your castoffs. Tackle the second “R” -- reuse -- by finding creative new uses for your things. It’s not only environmentally friendly, it’s fun and allows you to stay organized! 

Make old furniture new again. A can of colorful spray paint can liven up an old picture frame. A coat of glossy paint can transform an old dresser into something new and fabulous. 

Hold a clothing swap with friends. Invite some pals to a clothing exchange party. Have each person bring 5-10 items she no longer wears, and swap them over music and hors d’oeuvres. Everyone leaves with a free new wardrobe! Send the leftovers to a local charity.

Shop smart. When you need something, consider buying it used at a secondhand store. You can find everything from upscale clothing to furniture, books, building supplies, and more.

Rotate toys. If you have kids, send Barbie on a vacation for a while, let the stuffed animals hibernate, and let some games take a time-out. Bring those toys out a few months later and they’ll seem like new.

Find new uses for disposable items. Make fun projects with reused materials, such as old film canisters, CD jewel cases, and baby food jars.

Create your own organizing containers. Rather than spend tons of money on plastic organizing bins, drawer dividers, and wicker baskets, reinvent common household items: The small boxes that your checks come in make great drawer dividers. Oatmeal boxes nicely hold art supplies like crayons and pencils. An ice cube tray neatly divides earrings or holds desk supplies like paper clips and tacks. Look around your home and see what inspires you!

© 2018 Articles on Demand™



Reduce: Make the Earth Happy

One of the great benefits to living an organized life is the positive impact you can have on our environment. When you’re organized, you can buy less stuff (reduce), you can think of creative ways to reinvent old items (reuse), and you can thoughtfully dispose of your discards (recycle). Follow these tips to tackle the first “R.”  You’ll earn key benefits like saving money, time, and natural resources, as well as feeling less cluttered and stressed at home and work

Think before you buy. Studies show that 80 percent of what we use comes from 20 percent of what we own. That means that 80 percent of the things in our homes are rarely or never used. Next time, before you buy, think about the time you’ll spend in cleaning, storing, and maintaining that item after you bring it home. If you must buy, establish a “new item in, old item out” system where some purging takes place before shopping, meaning less clutter in your home.

Reduce waste at the office. Try to generate less paper by printing less and saving more to electronic storage, such as your computer or a CD-ROM. Send an e-mail rather than a printed memo or letter. Think before you hit “print” and you’ll have less paper to deal with on your desk.

Purchase items that have less packaging. Buy concentrates, such as orange juice and laundry detergent. Avoid single-serving products and buy in bulk instead. Reuse paper or plastic shopping bags or bring your own sturdy cloth tote, thus reducing a messy pile of bags littering your home.

Reduce travel toxins. Opt for walking, biking, or taking the bus or subway over driving a car. Try to combine trips when running errands to save time, money, and natural resources.


© 2018 Articles on Demand™

The “Whys” of Clutter

So, you know your life is full of clutter — things you don’t need, things you don’t necessarily want, and way more than you’ll actually use. But where the heck did all this stuff come from? 

 

It might be hard to pinpoint the exact moment when clutter invaded and took over your life. Maybe you grew up in a cluttered household, so living with an overabundance of “things” has always felt natural. Or perhaps clutter is just beginning to form. (In which case, it's time to nip it in the bud!)

Why are some people more prone to clutter than others? Following are a few reasons. If you see yourself in any of these scenarios, take heart. By recognizing what leads you to accumulate clutter you can make the transition to a clutter-free life.

You inherited it from your parents: If your parents were packrats, you can thank them for your love of abundance. And as you continue your life full of clutter, consider the fate you are dealing your loved ones if you don’t attempt to change. Your children might continue the cycle of clutter, or you may drive your mate and friends crazy.

You might need it “someday”: Back in the days of the Great Depression and the World Wars, people justifiably saved just about everything because of scarcity and rationing. However, in this day and age, there is no reason to continue this thought pattern. Thinking something will come in handy “one day” is NOT reason enough to keep it. By letting go, you’ll find that most of the time you’ll never need those things again. And if you do, you’ll likely find similar (or better) things to replace them.

Clutter is part of your identity: Is your identity somehow related to your possessions? Or, are you overly sentimental about your things? Remember that even if you get rid of the clutter, you still have the great memories associated with specific items. Allow yourself to release unloved or unuseful gifts from well-meaning friends and family. You are not throwing away your friends’ kindness or love; you are simply releasing the unneeded items to make room for the things that matter most to you.

You’re bombarded by “more is better” reasoning by marketers: Do catalogs invade your mailbox? Are companies constantly trying to sell you the newest do-hickey, clothing, or home decor? Look around your kitchen and count your small appliances and gadgets. Most likely, they simply add clutter to your life, taking up space. Next time the urge to buy grabs you, ask yourself if it will REALLY make your life better.

Clutter fills a void in your life: Clutter can help to hide loneliness, anger, fear, and other important emotions. It fills time and space and keeps you focused on things other than your problems. When you free the clutter, you’ll free yourself to deal with the real issues around you. It may be tough at first, but the rewards are endless. Similarly, some people want to hide in their clutter. They use an abundance of “stuff” to hide or shelter themselves from the outside world. A good way to start getting back into the swing of life is to declutter just one room. You’ll still be able to retreat to your safe place, but the lack of clutter will begin to feel freeing rather than terrifying

Of course, you may not see yourself in any of the above scenarios. Perhaps you’ve simply accumulated a little clutter in your life due to a shortage of time, too many work or family demands, or a lack of organizing skills. This is perfectly normal. Not everyone who defines her life as “cluttered” will fit into the above scenarios. But for those who know that clutter is seriously affecting their lives, the above reasons may help define the source and allow them to start the decluttering process.

Whatever the reasons you’ve accumulated clutter, once you recognize them, you can move forward and begin your new life. 

 

© 2016 Articles on Demand™

Get Organized for the New Year

Is  “get organized" one of your New Year’s goals? This is the perfect time to make some life-improving resolutions. With proper planning, goals can help you fulfill your dreams — both big and small — in the coming year. Goal making allows you to evaluate the past and present and make impactful and meaningful decisions about the future. Here’s to an organized and happy new year!

DECIDE ON A GOAL. The first — and sometimes hardest — step to goal making is selecting a goal. Ask yourself, “What do I really want? How can I make myself happier?” Brainstorm a bit and come up with five to ten ideas. Then select one or two to work on. The goal doesn’t have to be daunting; in fact, it should be realistically attainable.

WRITE IT DOWN. The next step to achieving your goal is to write it down. By doing this, you are making a commitment with yourself and are more likely to follow through.

BREAK IT DOWN. As you write your goal, concentrate on the positive and make it specific and attainable. Instead of one big overwhelming New Year’s resolution (like “I will have an organized home”), try to list a series of smaller steps that will get you there in manageable increments.

MEASURE AND EVALUATE. Another key to goal-keeping success is to define ways to measure your success. By enforcing deadlines, you’ll force yourself to be accountable. Look at your goal in the short-term, mid-term, and long-term.

GET HELP. If getting organized is among your resolutions, and you feel you can't do it alone, consider contacting us for assistance. With the proper advice and encouragement, you’ll quickly be on the right path to a more productive, less stressful year!

 

© 2016 Articles on Demand™

It's a Wonderful Life

We're sharing memorable stories from a few of our wonderful clients like you! 

When reflecting back on this year, I continue to be so honored to be a part of your life. I am reminded over and over again that it is not just about the “stuff”.  It’s about so much more. I've asked the team to recall some of their most special memories this year! I hope they uplift you as much as they did us!

Julie


 We make organizing FUN, because we LOVE what we do!

We make organizing FUN, because we LOVE what we do!

I absolutely love my job and have many wonderful memories over the years working with clients. However, this memory made me so happy to be a part of.

I was working with a woman who was relocating. She had bags and bags of mail she never opened. In speaking to her further about going through the mail she became very anxious.

She explained that she had gotten into some financial trouble and had a lot of creditors contacting her, hence, not wanting to open it. She also mentioned she had just inherited her childhood home because her mom recently passed away. Now she was struggling to figure out how to pay for that mortgage, too.

After much encouragement, we decided to go through the mail piece by piece so when her move was done, she would be clutter free. This took two days to complete. By the end of the second day she said, “can’t we just throw the rest away?” I encouraged her that we should still go piece by piece so we did...with only a few pieces of mail left to go, we found an unopened check that was from her mortgage company, as she had overpaid the previous year. It was a check for $1200!!! Of course, it was out of date, but we called that minute and they said they would reinstate it.

It was absolutely life-changing for her at that moment. She was able to “breathe” and was able to make those mortgage payments after all. She cried, we hugged, and it was a wonderful feeling for everyone!
— Beth Ickes

I love to see the transformations of not only the living spaces we organize, but also the demeanor of our clients from the time we report to work to the time we complete the job.

An orderly home creates a peaceful environment that makes people happy and less stressed. We consistently see this reflected in our clients’ faces and that makes me happy as well!

A recent client sent Julie a video of her husband’s reaction when he first discovered his garage that we organized while they were on vacation. He was smiling ear to ear, jumping around— an exhibition of pure joy! The “new” garage was a birthday gift to him.

I see our job as organizers as a way to serve others and to help improve their quality of life.
— Laura Kiffmeyer

We worked with a young professional that moved to Charlotte and helped him get unpacked after many months of living out of boxes. When he decided to move to a new apartment we handled the entire move for him. However, we never laid eyes on him during the entire process! This is the text I got from him when he walked into his new apartment for the first time.

’I just walked into my apartment and am so grateful and impressed for all the work and incredible atmosphere that you brought to my apartment over the last few weeks. Thank you for everything that you have done to help me have a home and a great place to live. I’m truly speechless this apartment layout is great and feels so different. You put everything together so well. This is the best moment I have had since moving to Charlotte.’
— Leigh Ann Loeblein

Archive Your Files With Ease

What shape is your filing system in? Are your filing drawers stuffed so full that it’s nearly impossible to get another piece of paper into — or out of — them? Once a year, you should take time to review your files and purge as much as possible, leaving room for next year’s papers.

1. Determine what to keep. As you sort through papers, ask yourself, “When will I really need this again?” “Can it be easily recreated or retrieved elsewhere?” Don’t hang onto things unless you have a really good reason! Be ruthless — remember, 80% of the things you file will never get referred to again!

2. Keep records retention guidelines in mind. Your accountant, attorney, or professional organizer can tell you which documents you should keep for legal purposes.

3. Keep only day-to-day paperwork at your fingertips. For rarely-used files that must be kept, archive them in an out-of-the-way area, such as a closet, basement, or off-site storage facility.

4. Some things can be immediately tossed. Instruction manuals for products you no longer own, old research materials, previous drafts of letters, out-of-date magazines and articles, and receipts for items past their return date can be discarded.

5. Stash important documents in a safety deposit box. It is imperative that you stock your safety deposit box or home safe with the following papers: adoption and citizenship papers; passports; birth, death, and marriage certificates; deeds; divorce decrees; insurance policy papers; lease agreements and loan documents; mortgage papers; personal property appraisals (jewelry, collectibles); Social Security cards; stock and bond certificates; vehicle titles; copies of wills; and powers of attorney papers. And don’t forget to LOCK your home safe. It is NOT fireproof unless the lock is engaged.

 

© 2016 Articles on Demand™

Let’s Have A Sale

Whether you’re planning to move or simply want to cash in on your excess stuff, a garage sale (tag sale, yard sale) can be a profitable way to transfer your goods on to their next destination. However, without proper planning and organization, the day can be a disaster. Here are some tips to hold a spectacular sale:

START GATHERING YOUR GOODS EARLY. Keep a large box in the basement or garage year-round to hold household items you no longer want, need, or love. If you’re really industrious, keep some pricing stickers and a pen in the box so you can price as you stow.

ADVERTISE. Make large, colorful signs. Be sure to list the date, time, and place, as well as the types of items you have for sale (kids’ clothing and toys, furniture, tools, collectibles, etc.) Place the signs in high-traffic intersections within a few miles of your home. Consider running an ad in your local paper’s classified section. Place flyers at local stores where allowed.

SET UP THE SALE. Give yourself at least two days to get the tables set up and items arranged and priced. Make sure everything is clean and attractive. Group similar items together: put stuffed animals in a wagon, arrange household items on tables, place books and tapes/CDs neatly in boxes, display toys at kids’ eye level, and hang clothing on racks. Put big-ticket items, like furniture, tools, and larger kids’ toys, near the edge of the driveway to attract passersby.

BE SURE TO PRICE EVERYTHING. People are often too shy to ask. Attract people with balloons and banners. And have a “free” box prominently placed.

DON’T FORGET THE LITTLE THINGS. Make sure you have enough change, especially ones and fives, and a calculator handy. Have bags and newspaper for packing breakables. Play upbeat music on your boombox. Have lemonade and popcorn for sale to prolong browsing. Hand out free candy to kids if okay with parents.

COUNT YOUR CASH AND CONSIDER DONATING. After the sale, donate the leftover items to charity rather than returning them to your house. Many charities will pick up all unsold items. 

 

© 2016 Articles on Demand™

What Is Home Staging?

Staging:

A process of neutralizing, decluttering, organizing, and beautifying — allows potential buyers to picture themselves living in the house by tapping into their emotions. Staging also starts the “letting go” process for the sellers, as they transform their beloved home to a more neutral-looking home.

A staged home looks similar to a model home. For examples of how your home should look to get the best price, visit some local model homes during their open house periods.

Staging will help you sell your home quickly, at the best possible price. A 1999 Palo Alto real estate survey found that staged houses sold in an average of 14 days for 6.32% more than the asking price, while unstaged houses sold in an average of 31 days for only 1.6% over the asking price. Even if you’re just thinking about moving, it is never too early to start. You’ll have plenty of time to stage your home, and you’ll get to enjoy your improvements for a while, too! And remember: many improvements related to moving can be tax deductible, including the fees for staging your home! Check with your accountant for more details.

Professional stagers assist homeowners by offering advice on clutter clearing, furniture placement, creating “emotion” settings, and much more. Stagers also offer an objective view of a home — a fresh eye and perspective.

Some stagers own and rent out furnishings if a homeowner needs higher-quality or more neutral decor. These professionals are called “full-service stagers.” Other stagers work with what you already own, making recommendations for purchases of only small-priced items when necessary — perhaps a new shower curtain to brighten a dingy bathroom, a beautiful vase full of fresh flowers to welcome visitors in the entryway, or a sparkling new kitchen faucet to add visual interest. Home stagers can tell you:

• what buyers are looking for in a new home

• how to give your home curb appeal

• which inexpensive improvements will add value to your home

• which expensive improvements could be poor investments 

• room-by-room staging suggestions

Hiring a professional stager is a great investment, ensuring a quick and lucrative home sale.

© 2016 Articles on Demand™

Being Your Best Time Master

It is not enough if you are busy. The question is, “What are you busy about?”

— Henry David Thoreau

 

With our to-do lists ever-growing, assigning tasks to our calendars can be a simple way to manage time and reduce stress. The simple act of writing down the things we need to do releases us from having to remember it all “upstairs.” Below are some tips to help you successfully manage your tasks and calendar.

• Be realistic about how long each task will take.

• Learn to say “no.”

• Delegate: when you authorize others to take over some of your activities, you free yourself to focus on where you can make your best contribution.

• For those little things that take only a minute or two (such as putting away your dirty dishes or signing a permission slip), sometimes it’s best to just do them right away.

• If the task will take 15 minutes or more, choose a specific time in which to do it. Schedule an appointment with yourself. You may need to communicate to your coworkers or family that you are unavailable due to scheduled work.

• Without a place to “assign" tasks, you'll always be in a reactive mode. Use your calendar diligently. Do things on your time, when you are ready. You are in command.

• Don’t double-book yourself or plan your appointments too close together. Planning for delays will keep you calm and allow you to enjoy the current moment. Forget about multitasking for a while; simply enjoy the pleasures of each task you do.

© 2016 Articles on Demand™

What does it mean to be a Contained Home Organizer?

We all LOVE the Container Store! Did you know we were selected to be Contained Home Professional Organizers? What are some of the benefits to you? 

 

Product Knowledge

We have knowledge of literally hundreds and hundreds of organizing products and solutions for them.  Almost any organizing dilemma can be solved by using the right product for the situation.  We can cut down on all the times you may buy something and bring it home and find out it is the wrong size or just doesn't work for the area. The sheer quantities of products out there can be overwhelming to most people.  We are able to quickly focus on the right tool for the right area.  

Closet Design

We also provide closet design services in addition to storage solutions.  What this means for you the client is we are able to solve the problem of your organizing dilemma in all areas.  When we come out and do a consultation we are always asking ourselves, "What is causing the organizing problem in this area? Is it too much stuff for the space?  Not efficient use of hanging space? Not enough shelving? Not the right containers?" In order to achieve the best results all areas need to be tackled.  We can design a closet that gives you the hanging space you need, the shoe space for all your shoes and then finish it all off with fabulous containers. 

For more information on the program, click here or email us at julie@theorganizingpro.com

Procrastinate No More

We all have some level of procrastination in us.  Some people may only procrastinate on one little thing once in awhile.  Others procrastinate every day on almost everything.  However, most of us fall somewhere in between. The only way you can get procrastination under control is to first examine what you are avoiding and why.  

I know I procrastinate on the things I don't enjoy doing.  For me it's ironing and writing (I started this blog over a week ago while serving on jury duty.  I'm just now finishing it up!) What about you?  What are you avoiding doing?

Next, what pops into your mind when you think about that project you've been putting off for a long time?  It will take too long?  You don't know where to start? The answers will give you a glimpse into some of the things standing in your way.

What kind of a procrastinator are you? I love  this visual of the different types.

 

Did any of these images ring a bell for you?  If you can identilfy the kind of procrastinator you are it will help you realize your stumbling blocks and how you can move past them.  For instance, if you are a "Cleaner" then be aware the next time you tackle a project and begin to get the urge to clean first instead of tackling the actual project.  Change the action this time. When you get the desire push past it and dive into the project and don't avoid it.  Youcan always clean once you finish as a reward to yourself.    

Being aware of what kind of procrastinator you are and why you procrastinate is the first step in overcoming the tendency.  The next part is making small changes in your response to these so you can get past it and on to doing the work. If you still struggle, contact a life coach and they can help you define your stumbling blocks and formulate a plan to achieve your goals. 

        

 

 

 

 

Now where do I put all this new stuff?

Ok, the holidays are over and now you are staring at a stack of new things and have no idea where to put them. Sound familiar? This is the one time of the year where people get overwhelmed and stumped about what to do with all of the new gifts they received. This is the step in the organizing process that we call "creating homes". This is also the one step that trips up most people. You have to make a decision. Where is the best place to put this? Always put "like with like" whenever possible. If you got a new CD put it with the other stack of CD's. But wait a minute...the spot where you keep CD's is jammed full and over flowing. So now you have to weed through the CD's and make room for the new stuff. Or maybe you are thinking "Ha! I wish all my CD's were in the same place. They are strewn all around the house and the car." In that case you have to start with step one in the organizing process. Let's do a quick review of the organizing steps to see if it won't help your brain get started with thinking about dealing with those stacks.

Sort like items together. Like with like

Weed out any items you no longer like or use.

Assign a home. This can be a container of like items,a spot on a shelf, a section of hanging space in your closet or a basket. Main thing is it is all the same item in the same spot and it always goes back into that spot.

Which leads right into the last part of the organizing process. Once the home is established you have to work on maintaining that home. You have to stay disciplined in returning those items to their home.

Now get out there and tackle those piles!

 

Perfect is Not the Goal

Recently I was talking with a group of friends and they asked: "How does your house seem to stay so perfect all the time?"  I laughed and said, perfect?  What’s perfect?  No house is perfect!

To be organized does not mean that a house is perfectly set, designed and staged to look like a picture in a magazine every single day.  Being organized means that you can find the item or paper you need WHEN you need it.  Assigning homes for all belongings and putting a system in place to return things to where they belong saves time, reduces stress and increases quality of life.  It’s that simple.

 If you are spending countless hours every week looking for things and sorting through papers, try these tips:

1)      Make an appointment with yourself.  Schedule a time on your calendar for organizing.  During this time, do not answer the phone or look at the computer.  Commit to the appointment every week (just like a cleaning service might be) and try to allow at least one hour if possible.

2)      Start small.  Focus on one area at a time such as the kitchen counter, desk top or laundry room.  By staying in one place you will see progress in the hour!

3)      Let go of junk mail the moment it comes in the door.  Keep a recycling container near your desk, or the area where you view mail.  You will have less to sort later.

4)      Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  When feeling overwhelmed, consider seeking outside help.  It truly is our passion to help folks get their time and their life back.

And after the organizing is done you’ll be one step closer to perfect.  Or, maybe just right!

Even Dogs can do it!

Many of my clients have heard me say over the years how important it is to assign a home to items in your house.  It is the key step that so many of us have a problem with doing. Sometimes it means a decision has to be made like, "Where am I going to put this item?"  Or maybe a space has to be cleared out for this item to be able to fit into.  Then, once the home has been selected, you have to remember to always put the item back in the home.  This is the part I like to call "maintenance".  That daily decision to put things back and not just toss them anywhere.  This is the one thing that will help keep your systems in place.

My dog, Rocky, (the one to the left in the photo) has always had a toy basket since he was a puppy.  He knows when he wants to play that he needs to look in the "home " for the toys.  My daughter just got a new puppy, Gwen, ( to the right) and she has a toy basket also.  She will learn over time to look in the basket for toys when she wants to play.  Now, do they put the toys back when they are done?  I suppose we could train them to but we haven't.  But we always put the things back for them.  So, if dogs are able to be trained to look in "homes" for items it would seem there is hope for our kids and  other family members, right?

 

 

 

The Hold "Things" Have Over Us

I was recently reading Cindy Glovinsky's book, "Making Peace With the Things in your Life," when I came across this great passage on the things in our lives.

"As with people, a dysfunctional relationship with Things is a preoccupied relationship.  We are preoccupied with the need to acquire, the need to organize, and the need to hang on to Things, putting off living until we have prefected our control over the material world, which always seems to elude us.  Some folks are frustrated by never acquiring the one Thing that will satisfy them, others by their inability to get rid of Things that they no longer use.  Many feel overwhelmed by piles of Things that seem to breed like rabbits.  Others spend hours perfecting already acquired systems, arranging and rearranging, filing and refiling, never feeling organized enough."

This is a great summary of how we all deal with the Things in our lives.  What is your relationship with things?

Great idea for photos

So many of us have tons and tons of photos floating around on our computer that we want to print "someday" and organize into an album.    The reality is very few of us have the time to put together an album or a scrapbook anymore with our busy lives.  I saw this idea and thought it was a perfect way for ANY of us to enjoy a photo and keep track of all we have to do in a day.  Just find one of your favorite photos on your computer and send it on to Shutterfly. 

Source: shutterfly.com via Julie on Pinterest