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™



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™

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™

Getting Kids Organized For School

“Getting organized” is more than eliminating clutter and creating neat storage systems. One of the most important areas of organizing is task management. It’s never too early (or too late) to teach kids how to get and stay organized with schoolwork. The skills they learn now will carry over into high school, college, and ultimately, their careers and home management as adults.

Establish a great homework routine. With your child, determine the best time for daily school work and stick with it. For some kids, it will be right after school. Others may need some downtime to play, and then it’s time to hit the books. The most important thing is to stick to the schedule so your child knows what’s expected.

Set up the space. Have a designated study area, such as the kitchen table. But for unique assignments, allow for some flexibility such as moving to a rocking chair for reading chapter books. Create a school supply box and keep it well stocked with supplies (paper, pens, pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, ruler, sticky notes, calculator, etc.) so kids don’t have an excuse to get up.

Make sure you know what’s going on at school. Instruct children to unload their backpacks as soon as they come home. Have them hang up their bags in a designated area (try a coat rack, pegs on the wall, or a wicker laundry basket near the front door). This allows for easy access the next day. They should bring homework to the designated study area. Check in each day so you’re aware of their workload and take special care when they seem overwhelmed.

Encourage the use of lists and planners. The older kids get, the more homework and activities they’ll have. Teach them to manage their tasks with the use of simple lists or a planner/calendar of some sort. Office supply stores sell ones with cute kid-friendly designs, or use computer lists (or even smartphones) for techie kids. When they learn of upcoming assignments, tests, or events, they should write them down in their planners.

Encourage color coding. Color affects our mood and memory. Let kids pick the colors of their folders and notebooks to correspond to different classes. If green reminds them of science, then they’ll know instantly to grab the green notebook when looking for their science notes.

 

© 2016 Articles on Demand™

Super-Quick, Feel-Good, Get-Organized-Now Tips

Take these small and easy steps to make your home look good. You’ll love how it feels! Then, let the momentum carry you to try larger organizing projects.

Make your bed — first thing — every day. Start your day on the right foot, and you’re sure to continue putting things in their proper spots all day.

Clean your kitchen sink. Sprinkle baking soda and lemon juice, and scrub with a damp sponge or cloth. Rinse and dry. Polish the faucet to a shine. Now, throughout the day, immediately put dirty dishes in the dishwasher or wash them by hand so you can continue to admire your sparkly sink!

Assess your cups and bowls. How many mugs and cups do you really need? Pull them all out of the cupboard, pick your top 20, and donate the rest. You’ll never miss them. Do the same with your  Tupperware. Match the lids with bottoms and toss anything missing its mate.

Create an errand box. Put a crate or basket by the front door. Deposit into it anything needing to go out.  You can add items that need to be returned to stores, library books and movies ready for return, and borrowed items that need to find their rightful owners. Take the box with you each morning and see what you can get rid of that day.

Give your purse or bag a makeover. Dump everything out, and toss expired coupons, old receipts, scraps of paper, and used tissues. Then, use a small see-through pouch or zip-top bag to hold personal items (lip balm, comb, bandages, dental floss, etc.) Keep an envelope for current coupons and receipts. And keep your wallet, check- book, and keys in a handy, easy-to-reach spot.

© 2016 Articles on Demand™

Ready, Set, Refresh!


Julie Bertram Quoted in Charlotte Observer


Our own Julie Bertram contributed recently to an article in the Home and Design section of The Charlotte Observer. Check out page 15 to read the article and get some great tips on how to get your home organized this year!

Click here to read the article in an online flipbook or click here to read in a PDF.