Category Archives: Guest Experts

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!

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

 

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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

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

Heart Art: Saving Cards, Photos and Souvenirs

heart art 2 - 1 (1)

Special photos and cards can be transformed into art pieces.

A fan came up with a great way to preserve paper memories in a fun, compact, art project…

Here it is in her words:

Early in January, I faced a dilemma I think I share with many people: what to do with the lovely holiday cards I’d received from friends and family. Many of these cards include pictures of people I love and it’s always psychologically difficult to throw them out, so they usually go into a box never to be seen again. I must admit that I also sometimes hold onto graduation invitations, birthday cards, and paper memorabilia from events or trips (I’m going to get to that album one day and the cool ticket from X museum, etc. will go in there!)

Suddenly a project occurred to me that I could quickly do which I dubbed, “What holds my heart together.”

  • I took a piece of thin cardboard and cut out a rough heart about 3″x3” and used it as a template to cut out the most key part of each card.
  • I piled them on top of each other and then bound them all together with several brightly colored rubber bands.
  • For those who don’t like the funkiness of the rubber bands, a single nice ribbon would work.
  • If you don’t like the idea of it sitting somewhere, glue a magnet to the cardboard back and stick it to the fridge.

Use collage techniques to create art out of memorabilia

Now they’re all a funky little conversation piece that can sit on a bookshelf. I know where it is and can take it apart and look at them anytime I please as well as adding to it at a moment’s notice, so this ephemera does not have to pile up in a ‘to do’ pile anywhere.

The ‘art’ of this is, of course, not the key part for me. I was amazed at how much relief I felt at not having to throw them away or find a place to save them.It encouraged me to work on a small stack of paper from my last trip.I cut out the brochure pictures and tickets I wanted and threw away all the rest without any conflicted feelings and with, again, that great sense of relief. My heart is still very thin, but I can see adding to it from here on out. It’s a great de-clutterer for me!

For those who get a ton of holiday cards, I’d suggest making each year’s haul into a single decoration for your tree. 

Many thanks to Audra for sharing her great idea! Have you come up with a different way to handle memorabilia?…we’d love to hear it!

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Filed under artwork, Decluttering, Guest Experts, Memorabilia, organizing, paper organizing, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Are You Covered? 3 Must-Dos for Home Insurance

Angel Lax Insurance Agent - 1

Angel Lax • Allstate Insurance Co • 510-634-1171

While organizing homes and offices, we are often asked what kind of documentation is needed in case of a loss.  So, we asked our friendly Allstate Insurance Agent, Angel Lax, for her help. Here is her advice…

Document Your Belongings

  • A quick video showing the contents of the house, including closets and basements. In clothes closet, show tags on designer clothes. Save this to the cloud via email, google drive, Dropbox, even a flash drive in your Safe deposit box.  Update regularly.
  • Special items: make sure your insurance agent knows of valuables such as jewelry, fine art, musical instruments or collectibles. If your homeowner’s policy has limits on these items you may need an additional policy or rider. If you don’t call out these more valuable items (“scheduled” in insurance language) you’re limited on reimbursement.
  • If you don’t have a list of lost items, the company will give you ~70%, depending on the company, of the “personal property limits” listed on your policy. Most of the time, that will be less than if you have good documentation of what you lost.

Organize Your Documents

Create an “insurance” file either in paper or digitally or both

  • Include the name of the company
  • Named insured
  • Policy number
  • Deductibles
  • For big-ticket items, note serial numbers and take a picture of the receipts to keep with insurance documents

Review Your Coverage

Make sure you are covered appropriately…have you contacted your agent in the last year or two? The agent will evaluate the value of your home, based on the size, condition and quality of your components. The quality ranges from economy to standard to above standard to high end. This rating informs the amount of coverage you need to replace.  For older homes, some companies encourage a 150% replacement cost plan which covers you in case you need to bring items up to code in the event of a loss. Or, if there is a pricing surge, like there has been in Sonoma and Napa counties, the extra percentage can alleviate that challenge…or if there has been an error in evaluating the value of the replacement.

Use this opportunity to re-acquaint yourself with your things and maybe clear out a closet or two. Even if you only do a few of the items above or only manage to inventory some of your rooms you’ll be better off than not taking any action – progress is better than perfection!

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Are You Ready For An Emergency?

earthquake

The earthquakes this week inspired a re-post of this valuable info!

In California we live with the possibility of wildfires and earthquake disasters year round. Being prepared can provide peace of mind, even if we aren’t ever faced with an emergency.

We know we should be prepared for natural or personal disasters. But we lead busy lives. Who has time to deal with something that MIGHT happen, someday?

There are ways to upgrade your disaster preparation without getting overwhelmed.

Remember ANY amount of preparation is better than none.

Most Vital: Procure and Store Water

Following a disaster, clean drinking water may not be available. Your regular water source could be cut-off or compromised through contamination. Experts say that you need to enough water for a minimum of 3 days, that’s 3 gallons per person or pet. But it’s better to have a 2 week supply.

 

Now that we’ve covered the most valuable resource, let’s choose just three of the next most important preparations and accomplish them.

Step One: Get a kit

If you are busy, purchasing an emergency kit is easier and faster than making your own.

Here is a great option from EmergencyKits.com with all the supplies the Red Cross recommends.

 

 

Emergency Backpack - 1

There are many vendors for earthquake backpacks.  It’s good to be able to customize your kit.

This kit also provides both bags of water and water purification tablets. The bags of water are not enough for 72 hours (which the Red Cross recommends). So the tablets are crucial. But to use the tablets you’ll need a receptacle for holding water. Add this collapsible water container to your order and put it in your kit and you’ll have enough water for 72 hours or longer.

While you are reading this article, click and order, and you will have accomplished Step One! Store the kit in your car for quick evacuation or emergencies on the road.

Step Two: Make a plan

An emergency plan refers to knowing who to call for help, how to get in touch with loved ones, and where to go if you need to evacuate your home.

Print one of these emergency card templates for each member of your family. Fill them out together as a family activity. Keep the cards in wallets or backpacks.

Step Three: Get informed

Next time you wait at the doctor’s office or are put on hold by AT&T, put these key contacts in your phone and copy them into your wallet. They are valuable sources for information during a disaster.

  • Safe and Well Website. To let your friends and family know you are safe, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well Website. You may also call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select the prompt for “Disaster” to register.

Now that you see you can accomplish three major steps in disaster preparation, visit Ready.Gov to learn more emergency preparations you can incorporate into your life.

Thank you to NAPO-SFBA and Emily Fox for inspiring this post.

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Filed under Bay Area Services, Decluttering, Guest Experts, Perspective, Strategies

Are You Ready For An Emergency?

In California we live with the possibility of wildfires and earthquake disasters year round. Being prepared can provide peace of mind, even if we aren’t ever faced with an emergency.

We know we should be prepared for natural or personal disasters. But we lead busy lives. Who has time to deal with something that MIGHT happen, someday?

There are ways to upgrade your disaster preparation without getting overwhelmed.

Remember ANY amount of preparation is better than none.   So, let’s choose just three of the most important preparations and accomplish them.

Step One: Get a kit

If you are busy, purchasing an emergency kit is easier and faster than making your own.

Here is a great option from EmergencyKits.com with all the supplies the Red Cross recommends.

 

 

Emergency Backpack - 1

There are many vendors for earthquake backpacks.  It’s good to be able to customize your kit.

This kit also provides both bags of water and water purification tablets. The bags of water are not enough for 72 hours (which the Red Cross recommends). So the tablets are crucial. But to use the tablets you’ll need a receptacle for holding water. Add this collapsible water container to your order and put it in your kit and you’ll have enough water for 72 hours or longer.

While you are reading this article, click and order, and you will have accomplished Step One! Store the kit in your car for quick evacuation or emergencies on the road.

Step Two: Make a plan

An emergency plan refers to knowing who to call for help, how to get in touch with loved ones, and where to go if you need to evacuate your home.

Print one of these emergency card templates for each member of your family. Fill them out together as a family activity. Keep the cards in wallets or backpacks.

Step Three: Get informed

Next time you wait at the doctor’s office or are put on hold by AT&T, put these key contacts in your phone and copy them into your wallet. They are valuable sources for information during a disaster.

  • Safe and Well Website. To let your friends and family know you are safe, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well Website. You may also call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select the prompt for “Disaster” to register.

Now that you see you can accomplish three major steps in disaster preparation, visit Ready.Gov to learn more emergency preparations you can incorporate into your life.

Thank you to NAPO-SFBA and Emily Fox for inspiring this post.

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Filed under Bay Area Services, Decluttering, Guest Experts, Perspective, Strategies

Marie Kondo’s Organizing Inspires Lasting Changes

marie kondo tidying

Marie Kondo is at it again with her new Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. You may already be familiar with the KonMari method through her hugely popular book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

We live in a culture of consumption that really values volume. Coming from a totally different culture, Marie Kondo awakens us to a Japanese way of looking at our things. At the heart of her de-cluttering approach is the Shinto belief of animism– that objects have energy and a life force that should be acknowledged and honored. Usually the object of any de-cluttering method is getting rid of stuff. Kondo’s approach changes the focus of purging. Instead of analyzing objects for their functionality in our lives, she trains us to sense the energy within our possessions …and only keep those that inspire or create joy.

Explaining her process to someone getting overwhelmed Kondo says: “The point of this process isn’t to force yourself to eliminate things, it’s really to confirm how you feel about each and every item you possess.”

Kondo’s technique is very spiritual and holistic – gets you out of your head and logic and into your heart and emotion. She’s asking what you want to carry forward with you in your lives.The end result of the process is an uncluttered home and a clearer relationship with the things you own.

Key takeaways from the show and book:

  • Going through this process takes time and commitment! In the show, take note of how many weeks it takes to get through each scenario
  • Fine tune your ability to recognize how objects make you feel by holding things you know you love – pay attention to how you feel; it “sparks joy” for you
  • Tackle memorabilia last
  • You don’t need fancy organizing products to declutter
  • The KonMari method can work across all types of family structures and life scenarios.

Are you feeling inspired to try a new approach but daunted by doing it on your own? We can help…some professional organizers are trained in the KonMari method, including our own Katherine Korlacki! You also don’t have to implement the KonMari method exactly in order to make progress – use the parts that inspire you and get support to get through the decision-making process. Your de-cluttered life awaits!

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, General Organizing, Guest Experts, home organizing, Kids, Kitchen, Laundry, Living Room, Memorabilia, Office, Perspective, professional organizer, Strategies

Is Your Clutter A Sign Of Unresolved Grief?

There are many different reasons we find it hard to let things go…dreams of wanting to be a different size, fond memories, thinking we’ll need things one day, anticipating life changes. But sometimes our grip on things is based on unresolved grief. It is like a different form of nostalgia and it’s something that could be overcome.

We often associate grieving with death, but really any kind of a loss can cause grief. Divorce, change in health status or physical abilities, marriage, moving, retirement, graduation, birth of a child. Even positive life events can generate feelings of loss and grief and increase our attachment to things.  Nostalgia is fine, but when it starts compromising our present, there is a problem.

Unresolved Grief

Unresolved grief is a result of unfinished business, getting stuck in loop of remorse, regret and disappointment, being unfulfilled in “what could have been” or “what could have been said or done.”  The feelings may persist years after the event.  It may be that you don’t become fully aware of the need for resolution until decades later.

You may be experiencing unresolved grief when you are trying to deal with stuff that you know is getting in your way but is just too painful to deal with…it triggers emotions that are overwhelming; pain, anger, sadness.  Especially if the stuff has been there a long time.

Examples:

  • Boxes of leftovers from an “X” that feel unpleasant – even toxic — yet can’t bring yourself to deal with?
  • An overloaded garage populated by tools from a beloved deceased parent
  • A closet full of toys and games from a child who is moved out and moved on

What can you do about it?

  • Recognize that we are socialized to avoid grief and loss, to ignore or repress lingering feelings of sadness. Often our friends and family, while well-meaning, are incapable of addressing those feelings of loss.
  • In getting organized, we can face and name these feelings and try to “get under the hood” of our attachments. Sometimes that alone may shift your perspective.
  • Don’t go it alone!

Grief support groups art generally are aimed at people who have experienced a recent death or trauma. It’s usually about providing a safe place to share feelings with others who have had a similar experience.

There is a specific form of counseling called Grief Recovery Method®.  The goal of this method is to resolve the grief. This is a process designed to deal with all types of loss and bring you to a point of resolution of your grief.  You can work with a friend or on your own, in a facilitated group, or one-on-one or virtually with a trained coach.

We are grateful to Tina Kopko, LMFT for her presentation which introduced our local chapter of Professional Organizers to the concept of unresolved grief.

 

Tina Kopko

Tina Kopko, LMFT provides the Grief Recovery Method® to individuals and groups

 

 

 

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Filed under Decluttering, disorganization, Guest Experts, Memorabilia, Perspective

Stop Wasting Your Time, Money and Attention

Book cover_not giving an F - 1

When people talk of organizing, we often think of getting rid of “things.” We found a humorous, and irreverent, resource for tackling the clutter in the rest of our life. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do is written by Sarah Knight who gives straight talk on a touchy subject.

It’s a spin on the decluttering principles made famous by Marie Kondo – conscious decision making. Crafting a life by design instead of by default.  It’s not really a parody, rather it’s a parallel to the Konmari method…it’s Konmari turned on your life instead of your stuff.

Fair warning: the book is intentionally riddled with the F-word, but we found if you mentally substitute something a little less harsh such as “care” – as is “don’t give a care” it’s a little more tolerable.

Cares

We have a limited amount of bandwidth and energy; time and money and we get to choose how to spend that. We get to make a budget of “cares,” so to speak.  When you’re spending it on people place and things you don’t really care about, you’re draining yourself.  You are keeping yourself from doing things you really want to do and which bring you energy and joy.  When you realize how much power you have to give yourself permission to set boundaries and say no, it’s completely liberating!  And (bonus!) you can do it without being a jerk.

Recognize the Drain

The author lays out a method of how to go about this but one of the first steps is to think through all the ways you spend your time, energy, and money and start to see which ones don’t feel good. Here are some red flags to recognize things that you might be doing things that don’t bring you joy:

  • Where do you feel obligated?
  • When do you think of doing something with someone and your feeling is dread as opposed to pleasurable anticipation?
  • What tasks feel inefficient and inconvenient?

Examples of things you may not really care about:

  • Attending routine professional meetings that aren’t truly mandatory
  • Dress codes – high heels, come on! Need I say more?
  • Clothes – are you dressing for yourself our outside expectations?
  • Giving and receiving Christmas gifts. It’s hard to keep coming up with original ideas. A lot of time and energy is spent getting there.
  • Cooking

What To Do About It

Review your list and see what you can let go of wholesale. Let them go and move forward guilt-free! We can’t automatically jettison everything we don’t love. You could, however, find ways to eliminate or modify the most onerous parts of that task to help.

  • 
Hate to fix dinner for your family but want everyone to eat healthy?

Buy pre-cooked meats or pre-cut veggies from Trader Joe’s is a good shortcut to a well-rounded meal. Have a standard set of 10 meals you rotate through and don’t worry about whether your family is bored with it.

  • 
Dread getting dressed for work in the mornings?

Make a uniform for yourself so you never have to angst about what you’re going to wear.

  • 
Anticipate holiday gift-giving with panic?

Decide on one simple gift and give it to everyone.

Don’t Be A Jerk

One of our hesitations to start shedding off obligations is the fear of offending people we care about or risking repercussions from work or others. It’s possible to be true to yourself and honest without being a jerk about it. Politeness, honesty and authenticity are key here. Saying the truth is usually the best tact.

  • “Thank you for inviting me to the symphony, but I really don’t enjoy sitting and listening to music for more than 15 minutes.”
  • “I have a personal policy that I don’t give donations at the door”

Releasing yourself from obligations that don’t enhance your life is incredibly liberating. Start by noticing where you already make choices about activities that feel valuable to you and build on that. Give yourself permission to say NO – you’ll change your life!

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Filed under Decluttering, Guest Experts, organizing, Perspective, Strategies, Time Management