Category Archives: General Organizing

5 Closet Editing Tips from a Personal Stylist

Denitsa Shopova - Image Consultant - 1

We asked image consultant, Denitsa Shopova to provide some tips on how to choose which clothes to keep and what to let go of while organizing a closet.

Do you know what it feels like to go to your overstuffed closet in the morning to get dressed and feel you have nothing to wear? This is not uncommon!

#1 Store your clothes together

Have all your clothes in one closet if possible. You can do this!

#2 Make the most of your current wardrobe

Maximize the potential of your current wardrobe before investing in new clothes. You would be surprised what you actually own and can be restyled.

#3 Create outfits

Arrange your clothes into categories of different styles and color themes so it’s easy to grab and go that provides stress free mornings. It’s also inspirational.

#4 Complementary colors for eyes:

• blue eyes: gold, copper, peach, warm browns
• green eyes: plum, violet, wine, pink
• golden brown eyes: eggplant, lavender, magenta, lilac, sky blue
• red-orange brown eyes: turquoise, navy, emerald, seafoam
• almost black eyes: bronze, coral, sand, terra cotta

#5 To let go of clothes that don’t serve you anymore, ask:

• Does this suite my personality?
• Does this complement my shape?
• Does it fit me right now?
• Does this work with my current lifestyle?
• Is this in a good condition?
• Does this color suite me?
• Am I happy wearing this?
• Have I worn it in the last 12 months?
• Why am I holding onto to this item?

Editing your clothes is often easier if you sort by type first rather than going through things one by one. That also lets you see where you may have lots of similar items and can pare down to just one or two of that type. Remember your goal – make space for the items that make you feel great!

If you feel stuck, ask for help! An investment in a clothing stylist can save you from uncertainty and hours of time shopping because you’ll know what looks (and feels) good on you. And, Denitsa can work with your virtually!

Leave a comment

Filed under Bedroom, Closets, clothing, Decluttering, disorganization, downsizing, General Organizing, Guest Experts, home organizing, organizing, Perspective, Strategies

5 Organizing Myths Banished

These are common myths that we tend to tell ourselves. They can hold us back, make us feel bad and make organizing harder than it needs to be.

1. I just need to try harder. This is a simple thing… Just do it!!

Not everybody is a linear thinker.  You need some linear thinking to do the process; getting the macro view helps to identify what to do first or second or last.  You might need some coaching help to identify your vision and how to prioritize things. It’s not about being lazy or industrious, it’s more about how your brain works and gaining objectivity about your own stuff.

2. I could knock this out in a couple hours if I just put my mind to it.

If you usually find organizing pretty challenging, it’s not reasonable to expect you can handle an overwhelming situation in a short period of time. And, if you think a week of solid work would do the trick, can you imagine how exhausting it would be to shift to “organizing mode?” and make it last for days? Be realistic about your time estimates and plan to work in stages.

3. My partner/spouse/children will be absolutely delighted when I get organized.

The fact that someone isn’t experiencing the clutter as a problem might mean they won’t be invested in the solutions.  Everyone has a different tolerance level for clutter.  If they don’t experience it as an issue, they might find it disruptive if you go and make changes independently.  It’s good to do some legwork, but try to get buy-in on what the solution will look like so you’re not imposing your vision on someone else and expect them to maintain it.

4. I need pretty (and expensive) bins to be organized…and bins will automatically make me organized.

Buying containers put the cart before the horse. You need to know what you’re storing, why, and where before you know how to contain it. A shoebox can work just as well as an attractive woven basket. First focus on the function that the container needs to fulfill and then buy or repurpose one that fits your budget and style.

5. If I’m not born an “organized person” I will never be organized.

There’s lots of way to get help: blogs, accountability buddies, or working with a professional organizer. Part of our mandate as professional organizers is to transfer skills to the client that they can carry forward.  Even though organizing can be easiest for those who naturally think a certain way, techniques can be learned by just about anyone.  Working with a professional can help you acquire those skills.

Give yourself a break and ask for a helping hand. It might not take as much as you think to get past your roadblocks.  You’re not alone in this, help is available.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Decluttering, disorganization, General Organizing, Perspective, Strategies

COVID and Hoarding

 

Sue Zee Poinsett, a long-time Professional Organizer and Hoarding Specialist shares a compassionate perspective on hoarding that we can all relate to during this health crisis.

COVID and Hoarding

I think most of us would agree that there is nothing good about Covid-19.  It seems to have tipped the universe onto its side and caused so much of what we knew to become unfamiliar.

Take the experience of going to the grocery store:  I have done it for many, many years and, until Covid, found it to be a rather mundane but necessary experience.  Now I worry about when to go, what to buy, and how much of it I need.  I have watched people leaving stores with baskets full of common items like water; that’s right, water, the stuff that comes out of the faucet. I have witnessed people racing to the personal care sections of the store and have seen rows of empty shelves because people wanted to make sure they have enough.

People are never sure they have enough because every day someone suggests that another thing we count on may not be available, so they rush back to the store to get more eggs, butter, meat, and always toilet paper.  In the early days of this pandemic there were long lines, short tempers, and I think we all experienced some form of “better pick up an extra just in case…”

The reason I bring this up is that I think this is an opportune time for us to gain some emotional understanding of hoarding disorder.  It would appear that the virus has caused us to develop a disposition for hoarding, and I am hoping it might also help us better understand those who always have too much stuff. Although the word hoarder is often used in the sentence; “I have a lot of stuff but I am not a hoarder”, I think many of us have now had first-hand experience of an emotional component that activates hoarding behavior.  Some of us have become that person who worries about having enough and who feels comforted by getting more; the person who forgets what they have bought and buys more “just in case.”

Our need to buy and keep too much stuff in response to this pandemic does not rise to the level of hoarding disorder but can inform us of what goes on inside those who do actually hoard.  The need to feel we “have enough” is very human and at times of stress the concept of “enough” becomes a bit tricky.  Those who hoard feel they never “have enough” and continually get more “just in case.”  Feel familiar?  (I have even tried freezing milk since I became worried there might not be enough for my morning coffee.)  Then there is the idea of keeping things, just in case.  That frozen milk is still in my refrigerator, just in case; and I still have the 17 masks I have been given or bought, even though I mostly wear a bandana.

There is more to be understood about hoarding behavior than there is to be mystified or repulsed by, and I hope that we can all look at our behavior over the last few months and see the very human part of wanting, getting, and keeping too much stuff.

__________________________

Sue Zee Poinsett, MA (Masters in Marriage, Family & Child Counseling) began her career teaching in junior and senior high schools in the Los Angeles area.  She moved on to a career as a mortgage broker and then earned a Masters Degree in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling as well as one in Education. For the last 20+ years she has worked as a Professional Organizer specializing in work with adults with ADHD.  She became particularly interested in hoarding behavior in her work as an organizer and was one of the founding members of the Marin County Hoarding Alliance and has been an active member since its inception over 10 years ago. Her understanding is based on research and study and is informed by her many years of professional organizing.

Her email is suezeep at att.net

 

4 Comments

Filed under Decluttering, disaster, General Organizing, Guest Experts, home organizing, organizing, Perspective, professional organizer, Seniors

What To Do With Your Old Cell Phones?

old phones - notes from the junk drawer - 1

Check out our video interview with Mac/Apple Coach Ben Rosenthal of Sustainable Computing as we discuss all the options for dealing with old phones – how to clear your personal data and what choices you have for getting rid of them!

What to do with old cell phones? - 1

Leave a comment

Filed under General Organizing, Guest Experts, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Technology

Location, Location, Location

Be choosy about where you let things live in your home

Be choosy about where you let things live in your home

Do you feel trapped at home and the need for more space? Tackling some of your organizing projects is a good way to take control and free up some real estate. Have you ever looked around your house and thought about the value of the different storage spaces inside your home? Particular drawers and shelves and closets?

Have you consciously chosen where items live? Or do they end up living wherever they happen to fit?

Places in your home that are easily accessible and highly functional are PRIME PROPERTY! Things that reside in these prime locations should be items you use frequently and are of high value to your life.

Often we see cabinets and drawers filled with items that aren’t very active – crowding out active items onto counters and floors or into hard-to-reach places.

Prime real estate includes:

  • The top 2 row of drawers in any cabinet or desk
  • The center 2 shelves in upper cabinets or closets
  • The spaces within arms reach on your desk when you are sitting
  • The top drawer of a 2-drawer filing cabinet
  • The 2 middle drawers of a 4-drawer filing cabinet

Storing high-use items in the most accessible places in your home makes life easier. For example, if you prepare lunches daily having your sandwich wraps and/or lunch containers both near your food prep area and in a higher drawer make lunch-making more convenient.

So, when you’re putting things away…after a move or after a grocery-shopping trip, ask yourself:

  • Where will I want to find this?
  • What other collateral items will I need to use with it? (see Friends with Friends post)
  • Do I use this often enough that it needs to be more more accessible?

Take a fresh look at how you’re using your storage spaces and replace the things that don’t belong with items that earn their right to live in your prime real estate.

Leave a comment

Filed under General Organizing, organizing, paper organizing, Perspective, School, Strategies

Trouble Letting Go? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

Declutter QuestionsIt’s easy to get stuck when you’re trying to pare things down, either just to clear clutter or in anticipation of a move. As organizers, the coaching we do with clients helps them slow down their thought process and ask objective questions.

Here are some questions to help frame your perspective as you consider the true value of items in your home:

  1. When is the last time you used this?
  2. Would you buy this again today?
  3. Is it worth the time/energy/money to pack, move, and unpack this item?
  4. How does this add value to your life?
  5. Would you really care if this was lost in a fire or flood?
  6. How many of this item does it make sense to move/keep?
  7. Could you replace this in under 20 minutes for under 20 dollars?
  8. What do you gain or lose by keeping this?
  9. If you keep it, will you remember you have it?
  10. What’s the worst thing that would happen if you let this go?

This process isn’t about letting go of everything, it’s about having clarity about why you’re keeping things.  To spark reflections and interrupt your immediate response to the question, “should I keep this?”  For most of us who tend to hold onto things, the answer is “YES!” because we haven’t put the thinking into it.

Our possessions tell our story – edit what you have to keep the best story of yourself. Think of writing haiku instead of an epic poem like The Odyssey!

3 Comments

Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Moving, Perspective, Strategies

3 Areas to Tackle While Stuck at Home

stuck at home

In times like these, it can feel good to take control of the things you can.  Using this downtime to face areas of your home that stress you out can make you feel better.  Here are a few areas to consider with tips for making improvements:

Paperwork

  • Gather extraneous mail and papers lying around, extract the to-dos, purge the trash, and file the keepers.
  • Pick 5 folders from your filing system and pull out expired or unneeded documents.
  • Gather your 2019 tax documents.

Kid Stuff

  • Grab a grocery bag or spare box and fill it with outgrown toys and kid books.
  • Go through all the art supplies and toss anything used up or broken.
  • Have kids try on clothes and gather outgrown items for donation.

Dining Room Table/Counters

  • Do a rough sort of all the things that land here that really should belong somewhere else. Use temporary containers (shoeboxes, Tupperware) to sort things by type.
  • Anything that represents an action item (things to repair or return) could go in one container and make a list of the actions instead.
  • Return the sorted items to their rightful homes. Anything leftover need to be addressed – either create a home for them or let them go.

If you can’t get out to do drop-offs, clearly group and label things; e-waste, donation, shredding, sell. You can just tape a piece of paper to each pile/bag. Put them somewhere you’ll follow through when things are opened up again.

The hope is that you come out on the other side with a more organized home. And, in the process, transfer organizing skills to your family.

Do you have an area of the home you’d like some virtual advice on cleaning up? Let us know!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Kids, Kitchen, Paper, toys

Make some S.P.A.C.E. – a Technique to Get Organized

Pantry_tips

Do you have an area of you home you want to organize but don’t know where to start? The S.P.A.C.E. technique, coined by organizer Julie Morgenstern in her first book, Organizing From The Inside Out, is a tried and true way to go about it.

The acronym breaks down the organizing process into 5 simple steps anyone can follow. We’re going to walk you through the steps using a kitchen pantry as an example but the steps apply to any space you’re trying to organize – a single drawer to a whole house!

Sort

The first step in organizing any space is a sort. Gather like things together in order to see how much you have of similar items.

Empty the pantry onto a large table and sort by types of food:

  • Canned goods
  • Nuts, dried fruits, small bagged snacks
  • Rice, pasta, grains
  • Boxed cereals
  • Baking items
  • Packaged food mixes

Purge

Look through each group of your sorted items and get down to what’s relevant to life now.

  • Expired foods & spices
  • Boxes and bags with just a tiny bit left
  • Extras from overbuying because you forgot you already had it (think food bank!)
  • Items you thought would be delicious but now don’t seem so appealing

Assign a Home

This is the core of the work. Clutter happens when items don’t have an assigned place to live. Using labels makes all the difference here.

  • Make sure high-use items are in the most accessible shelves
  • Decide which sorted groups are “friends” – would you like your jars of tomato sauce to live near your pastas or other jars and canned goods?

Once you have clarity on your groups, their use, and where they should live you can make smart choices about whether containers make sense for them to live in…

Containerize

Shop smart and save yourself time and money by saving the containerizing until the end of the process.

  • Use small boxes on shelves to group loose bagged items together; the box functions as a mini pullout shelf
  • There are numerous organizing products to help maximize shelf space and visibility. Do a quick search on Pinterest to get some ideas
  • If you don’t have the perfect container you can always use a cardboard box, Ziploc bag or other temporary container until you find the perfect permanent solution

Equalize

Life isn’t static. Getting organized isn’t a one-time process. As life changes – sizes, interests, jobs, etc. your organizing systems may need to shift and change to keep up. Make time each season (or at least each year) to inventory your possessions and update your systems.

Try it out yourself.  Start small as a test. Pick a single drawer or cabinet shelf to create S.P.A.C.E.   See how it goes and report back!

Need more help? The Container Store has a page with tips for organizing your pantry.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Kitchen, Perspective, Strategies

Get Organized for Tax Time

Tax formHave you broken out in your usual sweat anticipating tax time? Do you find yourself dreading the hours it’s going to take to round up the papers you’ll need to complete your tax planner? Being ready for tax time is all about having a system for keeping certain paperwork separate from others.

The most simple way to keep your tax paperwork separate from other papers is to create a box or file labeled “TAXES.”  If you want to get fancy, subdivide to create homes for:

  • charitable donations
  • childcare expenses
  • medical expenses
  • proof of income: W-2s, 1099s
  • tax documents

The home can be a file folder, envelope, or even a dedicated box. Anything that is easy to drop things into throughout the year.

If you’re keeping every single receipt and account statement, it’s worth asking your tax preparer to give you a list of documents you actually need to keep. Typically these are only receipts and statements that prove expenses you claim as deductions on your taxes.

For paper organizing, it’s important to understand the difference between a general living expense and an expense you can claim as a tax deduction. For example, gas station receipts are a general expense, but if you use your car for business they could become a tax-deductible expense. There may be other reasons you want to keep every gas receipt – budgeting, MPG tracking, etc. but you may not need them for taxes.

If you want to take your financial organizing to the next level, consider the following:

  • Use a money management tool such as Mint.com or Quicken® to categorize your expenses automatically so you just need to run a report at the end of the year (still need to keep your original deductible receipts)
  • Use FreedomFiler® to manage your filing
  • Have a professional organizer or bookkeeper come in and triage your 2019 taxes–and set up a sound system for 2020. You may also benefit from having help come monthly or quarterly to keep things straight

 If it’s too overwhelming to get a system together for 2019, begin now with categories for 2020!

Leave a comment

Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Office, Paper

Overwhelmed? The Power of List Making

to do lists

It happens to all of us: that creeping feeling of overwhelm as the tasks pile up, coming in via mail, email, voicemail, texts. Your head is over-stuffed with details and surely you’re going to forget something!

There is an extremely simple tool which is the starting place for any task or time management system: the LIST. The power of this basic tool is manyfold:

  • Gathers all your tasks in one place
  • Gives you a birds-eye view on everything
  • Allows you to categorize and prioritize tasks visually
  • Can create as many or few lists as needed to manage the different projects in your life
    • Work projects
    • Client follow-up
    • Home design/repair ideas
    • Travel plans
    • Kid’s activities

How you create and manage a list is up to you – a simple piece of paper works just fine! If you want to get fancier, here are more options:

  • Task/List Apps: Trello, Google Tasks, Wunderlist, Evernote, OneNote
  • Bullet journal
  • Post-its on a wall, on a paper in a file, on a white board
  • White boards for temporary lists
  • Project management apps: Asana, BaseCamp, Microsoft Project

Going digital with your list has some advantages of being able to share with others, color code, and to include formats beyond text. Each mode has pros & cons; pick a mode that works best for you. And don’t be afraid to go as simple as possible.

To start, grab a pad of paper and do a big brain dump of everything on your mind and on your plate. How do you prioritize?

  • What’s stressing you out the most? Ask yourself: “If one thing got done on here, that would make me feel a relief of pressure, what would it be?”
  • Which things have an actual deadline and what’s due next?
  • When feeling unmotivated to get things done, look at the list and pick a few short, easy things to knock off just to reduce the volume.

And yes, you do need to keep updating them! This process of having to re-write your list is actually a valuable part of the process. The act of reviewing and revisiting tasks gives you the opportunity to reflect on their priority.

1 Comment

Filed under Business Organizing, Decluttering, General Organizing, home organizing, organizing, paper organizing, Strategies, Time Management