Tag Archives: family room

Living With A Cluttered Valentine

courtesy of Donna Smallin Cooper of Organized Greetings

Cartoon courtesy of Donna Smallin Kuper of Organized Greetings

Do you and your sweetheart have wildly different ideas about what clutter is? Do you find yourself fed-up and frustrated by their organizing “style”? Do you feel like they’re trying to take over the world one surface at a time or leave things out just to piss you off?

Stress between couples over clutter is very common. Here are a few Valentine’s Day tips to manage the stress with your loved one.

What doesn’t work:

  • Purging behind their back
  • Nagging
  • Storing empty boxes on surfaces to prevent their things from landing there
  • Surprising them with a gift certificate from Crime Scene Cleaners
  • Deciding that if they can be cluttered, you do them one better and be messy yourself

What does work:

  • Realize that it’s not about right vs. wrong… it’s about compromising BOTH your styles because you’ve chosen to share space together.
  • Agree to de-clutter together. Set a shared goal that you both agree will improve the quality of the home. Make a game plan and work together to implement it.
  • Give each person a dedicated space (a room or a portion of a room) that they can control completely.
  • Take responsibility for managing your own clutter before trying to “fix” your partner.
  • Get objective outside help: use an organizing book, online resources, a couples therapist or a professional organizer.

What easy-to-tackle project could you and your Valentine take on that would create a little more space at home?

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Filed under Bedroom, Decluttering, General Organizing, Holidays, home organizing, middle-age, Perspective, Strategies

5 Tips for Designing an IKEA Armoire

Here's one kind of "closet" that can be made using the PAX system from IKEA.

Here’s one kind of “closet” that can be made using the PAX system from IKEA. The final product had sliding glass doors. In 2016, this unit cost about $1,700

An armoire is a free-standing closet. If you have minimal closet space or just need more closed storage, an armoire can be a lifesaver. IKEA’s PAX product line is one of the most customizable; it allows you to design the exact kind of storage that you need. Here are 5 useful tips for designing an IKEA PAX armoire:

TIP: Before starting to plan, take an accurate inventory of your clothes. How much hanging space do you need? Are most of your clothes short-hanging (less than 40”) or do you have long robes, gowns or slacks hanging with clips? What kind of folded clothes do you have? Socks, underwear, jammies? Are you going to store shoes in the system or not? At this point you don’t need to know HOW you’re storing everything but you need to know exactly WHAT you’re trying to store.

TIP: Be mindful of prime real estate. When designing your system, know that the prime area of storage is the zone from forehead to hip height. Plan to stow most-used items in this zone.

TIP: You can design the closet yourself using the online planning tool. This tool enables you to drag and drop all the components and features. Is it user friendly? Hmm…you have to be fairly computer-savvy to use it. You can also get help from an IKEA staff person in the store. Some of the staff actually have knowledge of how to build your system.

TIP: These are modular units, but the very first decision you make is what kind of doors you want to use; sliding doors or doors that open out. This is because the basic frame is different for these different door styles. Also, you need to choose the best height for your PAX system. It comes in 2 different heights. Generally, you want to maximize your vertical storage (the taller option) if your room can accommodate it.

TIP: You can save money by going full DIY including pulling all the pieces from the warehouse and assembling yourself (2 people required) or you can get IKEA to help as much as you want. With your design, the IKEA staff can gather the components, deliver it to your house and install it.

* Note: If you are going to purchase their installation, it is important to know that you are responsible for removing the baseboards in the area you want the armoire installed so the IKEA installers can attach it to the wall.

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Filed under Bedroom, children, Closets, Decluttering, General Organizing, Living Room, organizing, Products, Storage

Fear Factor: Ghosts from the Past

There you are with the best of intentions, starting to organize your space and suddenly a ghost pops out and scares you away from your project.

This ghost could be evidence of a forgotten task, a memory of a loved one who has passed, papers from a nasty legal battle, or even some article of clothing that has unpleasant memories attached to it. With the passage of time and consistent avoidant actions, our homes can start to feel like haunted houses.

Scary Organizing Challenges

Our clients are usually glad to have us there when these frights occur.

Here are some common ghouls to watch out for and ways to banish them:

  • Clothes in a size you wish you were. The hope of someday fitting back into those “skinny jeans” can be a very strong attachment. If you absolutely can’t bear to let the dream clothes go, at least make sure they aren’t taking up high value space in your closet or dresser. Put them in a tub, labeled, into a low-use space like basement/attic/garage.
    • Now, if you’ve encountered the tub again while clearing out one those spaces it’s time for a real heart-to-heart talk with yourself. If weight loss is a goal, keeping the clothes isn’t what is motivating you to take action. If you take action and meet your weight goal it will be a nice treat to update your wardrobe with some new items rather than pull out those jeans from a decade ago which likely won’t still be in style anyway.
  • Gifts you weren’t thrilled about.  What do you do with items you’ve been given, but just don’t have a use for or actually don’t match your taste? We’ve written a blog post about this topic, but the main thing to remember is that the giver cares about YOU and their best selves wouldn’t want you to hold onto something that didn’t make you happy. Let it go, pass it on, give it to a charity who can find a good home for it…but don’t let it collect dust in the darker reaches of your prime storage closet or spare room or attic.
  • Things you’ve inherited from family or friends who have passed. These items can sometimes feel heavy and burdensome. Like the unwanted gifts, they are attached to a person or past and can’t just be tossed in a cavalier manner. This is where taking time to process them will provide benefits.
    • Determine their value, their importance to you, what they represent and how best to preserve that memory, if that is what you choose.
    • If they have historical value, can they be donated to the local history society or museum?
    • If they have monetary value, can they be sold with the proceeds going to a coveted family cause?
    • Are they holding memories of a precious family experience? Is there a way to recreate the memory of the family experience without having to store a 2-ton piano that is too expensive to make useable or wouldn’t get played?
    • Sometimes inherited items are best dealt with in layers – focus on dispersing the items you and others have the least attachments to; this will at least make more room for the things you choose to keep.

So, if you have encountered some ghosts, take heart and get help if you need to. There is a way to process these frights, reclaim your past and take care of unfinished business.

 

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Filed under Closets, Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, home organizing, Memorabilia, organizing, Perspective, Strategies

Fear Factor: Gross and Scary Spaces

Halloween conjures up images of ghosts, death and hidden fears. The hidden (or not so hidden) fears of many of our clients is what holds them back from tackling organizing projects.

Over the next couple weeks, we’ll cover the most common fears and how best to banish them…or at least make them manageable!

Fear #1: The “Ick” Factor

cobweb 1

Could you offer your attic/basement/garage as a haunted house for Halloween? The dark corners, dangerous obstacles, cobwebs (& spiders!), even foul evidence of other furry critters visits. Let’s face it – not many of us relish the thought of digging through the “ick” necessary to get some storage spaces de-cluttered. Often though, the fear of the ick outweighs the actual reality of what you’ll encounter.

  • Work in a well-lit space. If the space doesn’t have it’s own good lighting add in some temporary clamp-style work lights so you can actually see into the corners and what you’re dealing with (though that may scare you more).
  • Come armed with safety and cleaning supplies. The arsenal: disposable plastic gloves or kitchen dish gloves, dust masks, heavy duty garbage bags, broom, dustpan.
  • Don’t fear the beasts. If rodent droppings are present it’s important to NOT sweep them up dry. Vacuum them up and/or spray the area with a light bleach-water solution then wipe them up and throw away. If you’re lucky enough that the creature causing the mess has also chosen to expire in your space, kitchen tongs wrapped in paper towels make a nice way to transfer the body into your heavy duty trash bag. If you don’t find the critter you may need to set traps or call in a professional exterminator.
  • Be ready to unload. Once you get going, lot’s of scary things are going to be released from your space: hazardous waste, dead compact fluorescent light bulbs and batteries, scrap metal, re-useable hardware and building supplies. Have some dedicated boxes or bags ready and do your research ahead of time to know where to take different kinds of items (your local organizer will know all the spots, just ask!). Make space in your car ahead of time so the boxes don’t sit around for months.

Next up…tackling those scary, complex papers that make the bottom of your stomach drop!

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Filed under Decluttering, disorganization, Garage, home organizing, Perspective, Strategies

Decide to Decide to Declutter

 

Active thought ... and discipline will serve you well.

Active thought … and discipline will serve you well.

Recently Katherine has been listening to the audio book of Decisive* which is a resource written for business leaders. She found lots of interesting parallels to the decision making process our clients go through to reduce clutter.

We often see indecision at the root of clients’ clutter – “I don’t know what to do with this…” “What if I need this again?” “Well…I don’t know…” “Should I keep this or not?”

Here are some ways the core principles in Decisive apply to home organizing:

Widen Your Options

We can get tunnel vision about options and have a hard time visualizing a change. Let’s take the decisions around making an effective home office:

  • What’s the best location for the workspace? Is it the dining table, kitchen, guest room, living room, or a closet? What is the best desk orientation and size?

Reality Test Your Assumptions

Dip your toe in the water of change by trying out an option rather than just relying on your gut instinct.

  • Terrified of the prospect of letting something go in case you’ll need it? Store it in a box out of your active space and date the outside. If you don’t go into the box within a set amount of time (week, month, year?) you’ll know you really can live without it.

Attain Distance Before Deciding

Introduce some objectivity into your decision-making.

  • What would I tell my best friend to do? What would someone else do in this situation?

Prepare To Be Wrong

We can’t predict outcomes, really. We tend to be overconfident about what we think the right thing to do is.

  • As part of the decision making process, weigh the consequences of making a wrong decision.

Where do you see your indecision creating clutter in your home? Try applying one of the principles above and let us know how it goes!

*Thanks to Organization Development Consultant, Danny Ceballos for introducing us to this great resource!

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How Many Organizers Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?

NAPO 2015

 

Spring is the time of the year for renewal and growth…and bringing more light into our lives.  Which, for us, means it’s time for the annual National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) conference! This year we head to Los Angeles to join organizers from across the country – and even across the world – to get educated and to network.

We hope to gain lots of new knowledge and resources to share with you and help our clients. Some of the topics we’ll be learning:

  • Using technologies, such as Evernote, to work more efficiently
  • Techniques for better helping people who are chronically disorganized
  • Building organizing teams to expedite projects
  • How to better help clients who are compulsive buyers
  • Helping efficiently preserve and manage our clients’ ballooning digital photo collections
  • Making household moves easier

At the large expo hall filled with vendors of organizing products and services we’ll be on the lookout for must-have solutions to share with you. Vendors include Smead®, Target®, Fujitsu, Julie Morgenstern, Freedom Filer® and Brother®.

Conference Exhibitors

 

How many organizers does it take to change a lightbulb? We expect over a thousand enthusiastic professionals to join us in LA for this enlightening experience.

Don’t miss out! Follow our live daily tweets from @JunkDrawerNotes for fun tips and products.

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Perspective, Strategies

6 Ways to Clear Out Your House or Storage Unit

What are your options if you want to empty your house?

What are your options if you want to empty your house?

We often work with clients faced with needing to empty out an entire house or storage unit. The reason may be due to downsizing, inheriting an estate, or over-accumulation. It can be daunting to know how to get the space emptied most efficiently and cost-effectively. Some of our clients are so exasperated they can only think of drastic options like leaving their doors open for burglars or lighting a match.

Here are 6 options you can use in combination:

Estate sale

Estate professionals will come to your house for free and assess whether or not an estate sale is appropriate for your stuff. Typically they are looking to see if there is enough value that they’ll make a profit on the project.

You don’t necessarily need to have antiques or unusual items. Many estate sales are made up of everyday items.

If appropriate, they would advertise and organize the entire sale either from your property or elsewhere. You would need to extract anything you want to keep prior to the sale. You receive a percentage of the sale. Some companies require that they have to receive a minimum dollar amount and you only receive a percentage of profits above that minimum.

Buy-out

If your stuff isn’t going to bring in enough value to make a full estate sale viable, estate professionals may instead offer to do a buy-out. Basically they offer you a flat amount for everything in the house. They handle removal of everything including furniture and donations/garbage/recycling. Typically hauling/dump fees are charged separately or taken out of the offer.

Auction house

You can sell items through an auction house. Most auction houses offer free weekly appraisal events where you can bring in items or pictures. They also have specialists who can come to you and assess your items. We know of one local auction house that sell everyday items (provided there’s enough to meet a minimum value) but most focus on selling particularly valuable items.

Charity pick up

There are dozens of agencies with trucks willing to come to your house to take away re-useable furniture, household items, and clothing. Typically they are pretty selective because the items need to be in a condition to re-sell.

Junk hauler

The last resort for clearing out a space is a hauler. They charge by the job, not the hour. Many haulers are environmentally sensitive and will separate a load into recyclables, donations and true garbage. Unless they are certified to do so, they are not legally allowed to take away household hazardous waste such as old paint, etc.

Furniture Consignment

This won’t handle the issue of clearing a whole house but often the furniture is the most difficult to deal with. Consignment stores offer a way to sell furniture and get a percentage of the sale price. They will be selective, as certain styles of furniture just won’t sell. Most require you to bring the furniture to them or pay to have it moved there.

We are very well connected in the SF Bay Area; if you need recommendations for vendors of any of these services, just ask!

 

 

 

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Filed under Decluttering, Empty Nest, General Organizing, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

3 Words That Will Change Your Life

Practicing DO IT NOW builds a special kind of muscle ... one you'll be proud of!
Practicing DO IT NOW builds a special kind of muscle … one you’ll be proud of!

Have you ever had a morning like this?

  • You wake up, go to make coffee but realize you’re out because you didn’t stop by Peet’s yesterday after work.
  • You have to dig out a work shirt (now wrinkled) from the pile of laundry on the couch because you didn’t feel like folding them when they came out of the dryer last night.
  • You go to do your daughter’s hair before school but there are no hair clips in the bathroom – she finally finds one on the coffee table after 5 minutes of searching.
  • At the last minute you realize you need to return a form to school – and spend 10 minutes scrambling through the last 4 piles of papers left around the house that you meant to go through.

Sounds like an easy and relaxing start to the day, right? NOT!

This is going to sound too simple but these 3 words could drastically improve the flow of your life:

DO IT NOW

The little decisions and actions you routinely delay have a cumulative effect of creating clutter…and lots of inconvenience and stress!

Here are some common areas people delay decisions and actions:

Kid memorabilia – It all seems so special. So you keep it all and because of our busy family lives, it just ends up in a heap, getting dusty and dog-eared. Once it comes home make a quick decision – does it go on display? Go straight to the memorabilia box (you have one, right?), or straight into recycling (yes, behind their back if need be)?

Junk mail – Are you in a rush when you retrieve the mail, leaving it in piles around the house, half processed? Instead of setting the fresh pile of mail down to go through later quickly extract the obvious junk mail and throw it straight into recycling. If you truly can’t get to it immediately, having one unprocessed mail-dumping station enables you (or your partner) to deal with it when you have the time to do it right.

Putting things away – If you’re passing through one room on the way to another, keep an eye out for things you can take with you and put back in their proper homes. This keeps general clutter to a minimum and prevents the need for a big chunk of time to get picked up – especially before cleaning day.

Keep the fridge fresh – How many times have you picked up a jar of something in the fridge to find it’s expired and put it right back to deal with “later” because you want to rinse it out and recycle the jar instead of just dumping it in the trash? Instead, clean out the jar right away or set the jar in the sink to be dealt with the next time dishes are done. The next time you open your fridge and find all the food inviting, you’ll thank yourself!

Weed regularly – I’ve seen many a client survey the contents of a closet or drawer saying “oh yeah, I could get rid of that” or “probably half this stuff could go…” As soon as you realize you’re never going to wear that shirt again or you really could let go of that figurine you‘ve always hated, get it into a donation bag right away. Letting potential donations accumulate in closets and drawers clogs up valuable storage space with unused clutter.

This sounds easier than it is – it takes a lot of consciousness and follow-through.

Just because we’re organizers doesn’t mean we have it all down; we have to practice at it also. But following this philosophy even some of the time will definitely make life easier.

Think of your future self – will doing it now save you headache later? Then DO IT!

Do you have a funny story of the domino effect of putting things off? Share it with us!

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, Kids, Kitchen, Memorabilia, Office, Paper, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Storage, Strategies, Time Management

The Hidden Costs of Clutter for Women

Decluttering is good for your health!

Decluttering is good for your health!

You’re probably familiar with the notion that clutter is expensive – costing you money in buying things you already have and costing you time from inefficiency. Turns out clutter can cost you your health as well.

A recent study by researchers at UCLA’s Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) shows a link between women’s stress hormone, cortisol, and the amount of clutter in their home. According to the study:

“Mothers who use key words in their self-narrated home tours indicating that the home is messy or cluttered actually experience a higher rate of depressed mood toward evening, based on cortisol measures over a number of days.” Life At Home In The Twenty-First Century, Arnold, et. al.

The groundbreaking 4-year study looked at the living habits of 32 families with school age children in the Los Angeles area. The objective was to get a real picture of how middle-class families live.

An article and video from KCET highlights a few interesting facts from the study:

  • The United States has 3.1% of the world’s children and purchases 40% of the world’s toys
  • Our society has the most material possessions per household in global history
  • 75 percent of Angelenos are parking their cars in the streets or in the driveways and they’re using their garages as storage units
  • Family photos on display: an average of 85. Home offices: typically, over 2,000 non-paper items. Garages: 50 to 700 objects. Refrigerator doors hold an average of 52 doodads.

So what’s our take away? REDUCE THE VOLUME! Any effort you make to reduce the volume of stuff in your home will boost your mood and lower your stress level.

Meet the challenge! Grab a donation bag, see if you can fill it and drop it off this week.

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, Kids, Kitchen, Living Room, Memorabilia, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

10 Tips to Keep Up During the Holiday Season

Is it a challenge to keep up during the holidays?

Is it a challenge to keep up during the holidays?

This is a re-post of a blog by our favorite time management expert, Sydney Metrick of Artful Coaching

The days are getting shorter as we approach winter, and you might feel like there’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done; especially during the holiday season. Is it possible to keep up? Or even get ahead? Here are some tips.

  1. Look at the dates of the big holidays you celebrate. What do you typically do for each of them. Think about how long the preparations have taken in past years and schedule start dates for the tasks.
  2. Do you have to do everything yourself? Consider what you can delegate and let others take care of those things.
  3. 
Are the items on your task list  “must do” or just “it would be nice to do.” Focus on the must do items.
  4. How much time can you free up to do the things that are actually important? Is watching television or hanging out on Facebook really necessary?
  5. 
Plan each day every morning. Think about what tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
  6. Learn to say no. It’s okay to set limits.
  7. Less is more. Think about what is enough and what might be more than necessary.
  8. If things feel overwhelming just pick three things you will do that day and put your energy and time into doing them.
  9. Give yourself credit for anything and everything you accomplish no matter how small.
  10. 
Get plenty of rest no matter what.

Think of being the person who designs your life.

Choose one item on this list and take action this week.  Let us know how it goes!

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Filed under ADD/ADHD, Decluttering, General Organizing, Holidays, Office, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies, Time Management