Life Happens…That’s Why You Need to be Organized

Life has been a little hectic lately which explains my social media absence and confirms my belief in organization. This week our very sweet dog Edie (I’m sure you’ve seen her picture on Instagram and Facebook. She’s quite the model!) has been very sick. The kind of sick that makes you ask the hard questions you never want to think about when it comes to your pets. As I write this, she’s better but not free and clear.

So what, if anything does this have to do with being organized? Everything actually.

This has been a week of doing all the things that downgrade your home to disaster mode:

  • No laundry done
  • Dishes not put in dishwasher
  • No grocery shopping
  • Clothes not folded or put away
  • Mail piled up on the counter
  • Glasses left on table tops
  • Suitcases not emptied
  • Beds not made

All of this adds up to a recipe for chaos and clutter and it can’t go on. I draw the line because I have a low tolerance for cFortunately, we have a system for dealing with all of the above and it will be easier to get on track because of it.

  • Mail has a basket that it needs to live in (i.e. not on the counter)
  • Dishes are normally put away after the running the dishwasher
  • Laundry is typically folded and put away

All of these are examples of systems that we have in place here. Systems are what keep us sane and not living in that disaster mode. T-shirts have a specific home in a drawer in the closet. We process mail by immediately throwing away (recycling) the junk and the bills go on the desk. We “pick up” the house before bedtime so that no dishes or glasses are left out. And yes, I normally empty my suitcase right when I get home.

If you don’t have systems in place nothing in the above paragraph happens. Clutter accumulates faster than your teen can text a message with juicy “t” and it’s too easy to claim “crisis mode” for not dealing with it quickly.

Eventually the crisis will be over and you’ll be stuck with a depressing, cluttered home that’s too overwhelming to tackle.

These are life situations that we all deal with: sick family, school starting, home repairs, major renovations, car accidents, etc. that force an interruption in our schedule. Tend to those issues and then get back to your regularly organized life.

Set up systems so that it’s easier to rebound. You know where everything goes and it just takes a little time to get back to normal.

If you don’t have a system you don’t even know where to start. And that makes life that much harder. Life is hard enough; being organized give you control over the chaos.

Happy organizing!

Organizing Mistakes to Avoid like Friday 13th

While I prefer sharing organizing tips and positive suggestions, there are some mistakes I’d like to tell you to avoid at all costs to get and stay organized.

  • Declutter first. While this seems like a simple task to start with in an organizing project, it is usually the most time consuming and mentally taxing. However, you need to remove what you don’t need any longer before you can create workable systems. I tell clients who are dealing with an overcrowded desk or closet or cabinet to throw out any trash that they see first. It’s usually easier to spot wrappers, empty containers, old catalogs, and toss them first to get your decluttering mojo going. Then you can move on to the items that are going to require some thought. Consider it your warm up time before a work out. 🙂
  • Measure twice, shop once. Do not buy organizing supplies without measuring not only the space where it will go but also what it should contain. If you are replacing hangers, you need to count the number of hanging items first, Yes, each one. Measure a shelf’s height and width and depth before shopping for a basket to put on it. Measure kitchen utensils before buying drawer dividers.
    You will save yourself so much in terms of money, time, and frustration by not having to make multiple trips to buy and return excess items.
  • Don’t buy because something is On Sale. This applies ANYTHING that is on sale not just clothes, shoes, and fun stuff. Think carefully before stocking up on food, cleaning supplies, gifts, cards, holiday decor, candles, shampoo, makeup, etc. These “great deals” have a way of taking over our storage space without much notice and then we tend to forget that they’re there. The next trip to Target to buy toilet paper turns into a crazed shopping spree and you forget about the shelf/ closet FULL of toilet paper/ paper towels/ shampoo that you already have waiting for you at home. Ask yourself the following questions before you stock up on what seems like a great deal:
    • Do you have enough already?
    • Do I really need this?
    • Do I have an imminent use for this?
    • Do you have a place to store it if you buy it?
    • Do you know how soon you’ll be able to use it?

I define being organized as knowing what you have and where it goes. Having too much, even of a good thing, crowds your space and doesn’t allow for new experiences to be a part of your life. Shop carefully and thoughtfully so you don’t have to spend time later decluttering it or returning what doesn’t serve you.

Happy organizing!

5 Things You Can Declutter Today

I’ve been helping people declutter and create organization systems for more than 6 years professionally. In that time, I’ve noticed see some patterns in clients’ homes. First, everyone is embarrassed and thinks they are the only one who has ever struggled with organization. Nothing could be further from the truth. We all struggle with some kind of disorganization. Second, just about everyone has too much of the following items in their home. The problem is that if left unchecked they will continue to accumulate and they multiply when you’re not watching 😉 Here are the 5 things that I know you need to toss today to declutter your home:

Cardboard Boxes

Whether you order regularly from online stores or not, there is never a dearth of cardboard boxes in our homes. Whether they are leftover from buying a new printer, phone, or pair of shoes, they seem like they could be used for something really important in the future but they never do. They get tossed in a cabinet or a closet and never heard from again. Go through your house and recycle all of the excess cardboard you have. You’ll be amazed at how much you have when you put your mind to finding it all. *I only keep cardboard boxes from purchases until I know I am going to keep the item. If there is a question that I might return it, I hang on to it. Once the decision is made the item is either shipped back or the box is recycled.

Condiment Packets

Like cardboard boxes, these multiply when you turn your back. Has anyone ever gone back and used the extra duck sauce/ ketchup/ mayonnaise/ salad dressing that came with a take away order? It is much healthier to keep your own bottles of dressing or condiments in your home than to use mass produced/ chemically enhanced products.

Hangers & Plastic Garment Bags

Not to go all Joan Crawford on you but, “no more wire hangers!” The hangers and plastic bags that are used at the dry cleaners are intended for you to get your clothes home safely, protected from the elements. Your clothes need to breathe so throw away the plastic bags once you put them in your closet. If you want to recycle the bags, you can tie a knot in the bottom and use it as a trashcan liner. The only time I suggest you hang on to a couple is when you travel to prevent wrinkling.

Wire hangers leave creases on the shoulders of shirts and sweaters so use velvet or wooden hangers whenever possible. Recycle your wire hangers by returning them to the dry cleaners. Keep a paper shopping bag in your closet to put them in until you return to the cleaners.

Plastic Cups

These also fall in the category of “things that reproduce behind my back” and they are always spilling out of cabinets. They come from parties, networking events, fast food restaurants, sporting events and always seem so important to hang on to. But they don’t last forever—they lose their tops, they melt in the dishwasher, and they get used as a dirty paint brush holder for an art project. Once they’ve past their prime, toss or store them where they are being used: garage, craft room, play room, or under the sink. You’re not going to immortalize a special event by keeping a plastic cup forever.

Shopping Bags

It could be plastic or cloth or paper, but I guarantee you have more than enough! These fall in the category of “I know they are useful for something so I should hang on to them.” True, plastic grocery bags are useful for lots of purposes (doggie poopy bags, trash can liners, wet swimsuit holder, etc.) but limit the number you have to a specific container or number. These can be recycled at the grocery store if you’re not using them faster than they are being replaced.

Cloth grocery bags accumulate as promotional or business swag or party memorabilia. Keep a few,  just don’t keep all of them. Pick your favorites or the ones in the best condition and use the rest for taking donations to be dropped off.

Paper bags from boutiques feel like a badge of honor, especially if it was a treat purchase. Just like the cloth bags, keep your favorites or ones that you really like. You just don’t have to keep ALL of them. The small ones make brown bagging your lunch much chic-er. If they are plain and in good condition, you can use them as gift bags. Set a limit of space and don’t let them exceed their allowance.

These items will continue to accumulate, like a lot of other things in your home, because they are a part of how we function. Today is the perfect day to tackle one of these areas and clear out what is no longer serving you. Clearing the excess makes room for new plus you get to enjoy what you currently have.

Edit, enjoy, repeat!

Why Declutter Challenges Work

You may have noticed a few “Declutter Challenges” taking place and wondering why in the world people do them or if they work. I am here to tell you that, yes, they do work and why. Of course every person is motivated by different by different outcomes/ goals/ and strategies but this one is especially effective for clearing clutter.

A few years ago, I participated in my own “declutter challenge” called The Mins Game 30 Day Challenge that I learned about from The Minimalists. Their challenge suggested that on each day of the month, get rid of that date’s number of items. For example day 1, get rid of one item, day 15 get rid of 15 items, day 30 get rid of 30 items. This came to a grand total of 465 items which made a huge dent in my closets, pantry, garage, and drawers. I blogged about it (here, here, and here are some links and you can read all 30 for fun!) which certainly put my feet to the fire in terms of accountability. If you know people are watching you, your motivation to keep going certainly stays high!

You may have seen some declutter challenges going on now during Lent called 40 Days, 40 Bags where you fill bags of stuff to get rid of for each day of Lent. There is even a step by step guide that tells you specific areas of your home to focus on each day. Some of my favorite bloggers and are doing it, too, so it’s fun to see others participate. You can search #40bags40days to see who’s up for the challenge.

Do why do these challenges work? What makes them special? Declutter challenges work because they give you:

  1. A measurable goal
  2. A specific time frame
  3. Most important, a mindset shift

Instead of looking for more storage or room to put things your brain is 100% on getting rid of stuff. You’re saying, “What in here is trash/ donate-able/ not being used/ extra.” You want to find things to get rid of so you can meet your challenge for the day. For me, all of those Amazon boxes I was keeping “just in case” were immediately tossed in the recycle bin because they added up to whatever number I was on. Ditto for the toys that the kids no longer played with (and didn’t know existed in that cabinet in the garage anyway), mate-less socks, extra hangers from the dry cleaners, plus a full set of china I never used (this went to my sister in law so it is well loved now).

When you shift your mindset and your focus is on giving away instead of keeping, suddenly everything is fair game for donation or trash in your house. You really start to question whether or not you really need something. You have a specific goal which is to get rid of things, either to fill a bag or fill a quota.

Even if it’s for a shorter time, you are still going to be more effective than if the goal were just a generic “declutter the house.” What does that really mean anyway? Nothing. When you’ve got a time limit the goal doesn’t seem as difficult. I only have to fill this bag today or find this many items. When you’ve decided to focus on getting rid of as much as possible, it’s a lot easier.

A quick definition of Declutter, according to Neatsmart: decluttering means getting stuff that you no longer need out of your home. That could be taking out trash or getting rid of boxes and paper that can be recycled. It can mean donating items to charity or giving things you no longer use away to a friend. It could be selling items via consignment or in an online store. You’re just removing it from your premises because it no longer serves you or brings you joy.

Have you done a declutter challenge? Do you want to? Leave a note in the comments or send me an email and I’m happy to help you with your own declutter challenge. Decluttering is pretty much my jam so I’d love to help answer any questions you have. 🙂

Happy organizing!

 

Stuff you have too much of right now

closet organization organized closet

I’ve seen it all. Everyone has too much of something in their home. Most likely it with good intention:

I might need this some day…
This was useful a while ago…
My mother always saved these…
I don’t know how to get rid of this…

But it’s not being used anymore. Technology and styles have changed. You’ve loved and used it all you can. Or maybe it never worked for you.

These things may have been useful at one point (see socks, electronics, towels) but focus on the key descriptors “no longer use” or “expired” and “broken.” These are things that no longer serve you so it’s time to let them serve someone else or be recycled. Just because you don’t need it now doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t appreciate it or find it useful.

I’m here to tell you, just get rid of it. The extra stuff you keep is overwhelming you and keeping you from progressing. And it’s taking up space in your home. That space could be used for more positive energy than duck sauce packets or grocery bags.

I challenge you to read this list and let me know what you were able to get rid of today. Enter in the comments below what you figured out you had too much of that you were able to let go. It’s ok if you sing the Frozen song while you’re doing it. 😉

Happy organizing!

Being thoughtful, thankful, & clutter free

Happy November, Everyone! I laughed out loud when I heard on the Food Network that Halloween marks the beginning of the Eating Season. That sounds pretty accurate for my house.

 

November means that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are just around the corner. While this time of year is typically a joyful one, I find a lot of people get more stressed this time of year trying to keep up with their neighbors and friends.  Stop comparing yourself to other people and stop looking at all of the “holiday  themed” commercials thinking you need to get THAT product in order to be happy.

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Mindfulness: Let your home be your refuge

hydrangeas
One of my favorite quotes: “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” –William Morris

My super awesome yoga teacher, Lisa challenged me recently by talking about the “mindfulness” class she’s teaching at a local high school. This class helps students learn to better manage their stress so they are able to perform better in school. Mindfulness is about slowing down and really paying attention to your surroundings and how you feel in the present moment without judgment. This is my definition, not a dictionary one, and, from my perspective, applies to any situation, including your home.Continue reading

Passing Treasures to your Children

chairsI challenge you to read this article by Joshua Fields Millburn and not get a little choked up. It’s about a man whose mother has passed away and he has to clear out her apartment. To his surprise the apartment is filled to the rim of stuff that she wasn’t using, reading, or enjoying. It was full of his old report cards, table cloths that didn’t have a table to cover, baskets, clothing that hadn’t been worn, makeup and other unnecessary. It was packed full of relics of time gone by but not the kinds of things you’d want to pass on to your children.

If everything is a treasure, nothing is

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