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™

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™

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™

Home Safe Home

Take these simple precautions to keep your home safe while you’re away:



• Don’t put out the “we’re not home” sign — install timers on lights and a radio or television so your home looks and sounds lived in.

• Let trusted neighbors know how long you’ll be gone and how to reach you in an emergency. Ask them to keep a watchful eye on your place. Have them collect your mail and newspapers, or suspend delivery until you return. Perhaps they could park their cars in your driveway occasionally. In snowy climates, ask them to shovel your walk and driveway.

Remove home address and phone numbers from your luggage tags and add your cell-phone number instead, in case an unscrupulous baggage handler gets any shady ideas.

Lock up and hide your valuables. Keep some shades partially closed to keep expensive items (such as your big-screen TV) out of view. (But don’t completely close all window coverings, or it will be obvious that no one is home.)

• Set the thermostat to an energy-saving level. Unplug most appliances to save electricity.

Remove all perishable items from your refrigerator, and take out the trash so you don’t return to unpleasant odors.

• It may seem obvious, but don’t forget to lock all doors and windows. If you leave a vehicle in the driveway, be sure to remove any garage door openers.

© 2016 Articles on Demand™

Easy as 1-2-3: Clutter Control for Kids

Managing the mess that kids make can be overwhelming sometimes. But by adding some simple routines and expectations, your household will function like clockwork!

Make organizing a part of each day. Let kids know that they need to be responsible for their own possessions. Teach children how to pick up after themselves. It’s important to show kids that every item they own has a “home” where it needs to return when they’re done using it. Be consistent.

Establish simple routines that are age-specific. Younger children will need more direction and simpler expectations than pre-teens and teenagers. For example, saying “Clean up your room” is overwhelming to a kindergartner. Instead, try “Please put the Legos in the shoebox and your books on the bookshelf.” Some tasks that children under five can do:

• put dirty laundry in the hamper
• clean up toys (with assistance) at the end of the day

Kids over five should also be able to:

• make their beds every day
• clean up toys throughout the day
• select their clothing for the next day
• take schoolwork out of their book bags each day

As they grow, add more responsibilities. You are giving them skills and confidence to tackle more challenging projects in the coming years. And, most important, praise your children frequently for their efforts.

Don't forget that children of all ages need routines and schedules, as well as downtime.

• Set out the breakfast dishes each evening so you have a few extra minutes to languish over breakfast treats and conversation with your family in the morning. Also, gather bookbags and double check that permission slips, sports equipment, and lunch money are ready to go. Lay out tomorrow’s clothing to avoid hassles.

• Throughout the year, maintain routines for bedtime, mealtime, chores, etc. Allow some flexibility to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.

• Slow down and unplug to enjoy and appreciate life. Turn off the TV and computer and head outside to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. Set aside some special time — a weekend morning is great — to cuddle on the couch and talk about the week’s events.

© 2016 Articles on Demand™

It's Moving Time Again!

Many of our clients have contacted us recently to help with the whole process of getting ready for a move. From preparing the house to put on the market, to getting everything in order for the actual move.  We have developed a process that helps things go as smoothly as possible. Here are a few of the steps we use:

First, go through the home and decide on the large pieces of furniture.  Which ones will definitely be going with and which ones are questionable.  Make a list of the items you know you want to sell, donate and trash.  Make arrangements to get these items out as soon as possible (provided you will not need them to stage the house). 

Next, tackle the smaller items room by room.  Go through everything, and I mean everything, to make sure you still love it and use it.  This is the perfect time to get rid of items the kids have not used in years or that wedding gift you received twenty years ago and is still in the package!  Take items to donate, consignment store or trash. 

The final step is to make sure all "like" items are sorted together and ready for the packing process.  This will make it so much easier on the other end. 

No time to do all these steps?  No worries, you can always contact a professional organizer at your destination city and have them help you sort it all out then. 

Time to Deal with All Those School Papers!

All of the kid’s school papers have been piling up on your counter all year.  Now what should you do with them? This seems to be one of the greatest sources of anguish for parents we are organizing today. Kids bring home so many papers from school every week and as parents, we are torn with which ones to keep and which ones to toss. So, we just stick them in a cabinet to deal with "later" or let them collect on the kitchen counters. Later finally comes when we run out of empty places to shove things or when we decide to take action. Luckily, end of the school year is a great time to spring into action. We are here to jump start you by putting together some guidelines to use when you are going through the school papers and whittling things down.


First, set a physical boundary. I have three grown children and we managed to use two large containers for their entire school life. The size of bins you choose is determined by how much storage space you want to devote to these keepsakes. Some people only have space for a shoe box, others can store larger sizes. This is the kind I suggest for clients not the amount!! :) 

 

Next, go through each paper. For worksheets- keep that special one where they finally got a 100 on. Don't keep every worksheet they have ever done.
For journals and writing papers- these are a great thing to hang onto because they give you a snapshot into what their little minds were thinking at the time. (Especially those stories from kindergarten when they used their creative spelling!!) Love those memories!

The next category we have is the art work. Let's be honest- not every paper they have drawn is their best work. Sometimes it really IS just a scribble! In other instances,  they have spent considerable time on it. Choose the ones that show their creativity at its best. The paper plate with the nose and eyes glued on is not as creative as the one that shows the child's interpretationof the family on a trip together.


Once you have gone through each paper put it in one of the bins with a label and the child's name on it.
Here are a few other great options for storage ideas.

Keep one of the bins in your child's room to make it easy throughout the year to add to it. Next year, at the end of the school year, spend some time emptying out their backpacks and putting the special items in their keepsake bins.

Now that you have finally dealt with all those school papers- it's time to enjoy your summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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?

 

 

 

Do you "dine" in your dining room?

I rarely did but I have tried to make an effort this past year to use it more often. Sometimes I will have guests over and we sit at the dining room table and just use paper plates, but at least we get to enjoy it!  I have realized as I get older friends and family are not so concerned about how long it took you to make the meal but just that you thought of them and invited them over. 

Many of my clients have dining rooms that they enjoy with many activities in there but dining.  And that is ok- just rename the room and use it for the purpose you really need it for.  If you do not use the formal dining room for entertaining but really need a craft room to use every day than repurpose it!  You can still use the existing furniture by storing craft items in the drawers and cabinets. 

One of my clients uses a skirted table to hide her baskets for entertaining.  This could just as easily hold plastic containers filled with craft items.  Very, very clever!!

Girl Power

I went to go visit my daughter this weekend in Raleigh and we tackled her shed all by ourselves.  The entire project was under $100 dollars, and we were able to take a room you could not even walk into and transform it into a handy workshop space.  Check out the Before (left column) and After (right column) photos.

 

 

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

 

 

 

Let the blogging begin!

We are so excited about beginning to blog on our new website!  This will be a great avenue for us to use to tell you about the latest and greatest organizing products we see out there or to share an "ah hah" moment we had with a client. 
We absolutely LOVE the way this storage closet looks.  Like items are sorted together and they have labeled some of the bins.  A great finishing touch would be to label each of the shelves so everyone in the family will know what goes where. 
Julie